Staff Breakout EDU

Finally! I have been trying to introduce my site to Breakout EDU for quite a while now. I have been working with my principal for over 6 months on finding a time that works best. Yesterday was the day!

Over Spring Break my principal emailed and asked if it would be doable to host a breakout at our next meeting. I was thrilled! Yes, totally doable and I knew exactly which game I wanted to use: Faculty Meeting.IMG_5325

Since I have five Breakout boxes (one official and four self-created) I was able to split the teachers into manageable groups of 4 or 5. In addition, my class has done several and were able to help me set up for the teachers. I even had 2 student volunteers who stayed to help out. It was rough starting. Many of the teachers weren’t sure how to approach this. It’s so different from what is done in classrooms. This was a very different experience than when I first introduced it to my students (NOTE: I’ve been doing breakouts for 1 1/2 years with students). My students dive right in; sometimes trying out codes on locks without any clues – they get reminders that they need to solve clues to get the codes. But after a few minutes, all the teams were busily working on codes. Some teams were precise in their work, while others were a little less reserved.

IMG_5324In the end, all teams broke out. Several teachers commented what fun it was and how they had to think outside the box to solve the clues. Which is the point; think outside of the box to break into the box!

What was really fun to watch was the Kinder team work together – they choose to sit as a group. They work really well together and are like a well-oiled machine. It definitely showed in the end. That’s not to say the other teams didn’t work well together because they did. Something about seeing the Kinder teachers who eat lunch together, collaborate daily, and constantly communicate work through the Breakout was fun.

img_0534.jpgIn the end, we talked about how it can be used in the classroom and it was revealed that our principal purchased 2 kits for our site. There were a few who said they were going to check out the Breakout EDU website for games and information. One Kinder teacher wants to try it, with my help. What an awesome experience! Can’t wait for those kits to arrive.

Thank you to KCAM principal, staff, and students for allowing me to share the Breakout fun with you!

Google Classroom – Personal Accounts

So I received this today in my inbox!

Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 5.49.59 PM A few days ago I wrote about Google Classroom and Personal Accounts. I applied for early access and was granted it today! The nerd in me is super geeked.

This is a game changer for me. First of all, I enjoy sharing my knowledge of Google Classroom with the masses. Secondly, a friend and I thought about created classes that people could take to become more proficient in technology use in the classroom. THIS is the perfect tool to get that going.

I can’t wait to see what uses others come up with.

It’s Okay To Fail

This has been a BIG lesson for one of my students this year. She was not a fan of failure and learning from her experiences. In the beginning of the year, she would completely shut down, pout, and refuse to make eye contact if she didn’t get something right. We have worked hard on this: the student, the family, her classmates, and me.

So our Trimester 3 homework gave the option for students to create an artistic expression of something they felt was important that they learned this year. This student chose to draw about failure! I am amazed at how far she has come this year. She is truly an amazing person!

IMG_5267 (1) Special thanks to the student and parents for granting permission.

(Unofficial) #CUE17 Foodie Map

Last week a few thousand educators descended upon Palm Springs for the National CUE Conference. About a week before everyone was set to arrive, Brian Briggs made a comment about getting a crowdsource doc going listing food around the event. So between Brian, Tracy Walker, and myself, we thought it was a GREAT idea. Me, being a My Maps lover, decided to take it to the next level and create a crowdsourced foodie mapScreen Shot 2017-03-22 at 6.49.23 PM

As it had nearly 3,000 views, I’d say it as a hit. And it was something that was needed. When I created it, I pinned 1 restaurant. Looking at how many pins are on it, I’d say the crowdsource part was also a success.

In order to crowdsource it, I had to make sure that it was open for anyone to place a pin. Generally, I wouldn’t open a map up for anyone to place a pin, but this was necessary. And there were no problems. Everyone was respectful. There was even an early morning hike one day! I would have never known about that had it not been placed on the map. I will definitely try to do this again. I love it when things like this are embraced by the masses. What a great resource. Thanks Brian and Tracy for the idea.

Google Classroom For All

Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 6.35.50 PMOh. My. Goodness! I am so giddy, I can hardly contain myself. Google Classroom is open to everyone. Since Google rolled out Classroom (beta) in the summer of 2014, it has only been available to G Suite users (organizations): this included schools and non-profit organizations. Now, it is available on personal accounts.

One of the limitations of having it available to G Suite users was that you could only join a classroom if you had an account within the organization. Now that everyone has it, we can join each others’ classrooms. So why would a person want to create a classroom? Well, last summer a friend wanted to have book discussions and tried using another product. It just didn’t work very well. However, since Google Classroom has many features that educators and non-educators alike are familiar with, Classroom lends itself easily to book clubs. In addition, I was thinking of starting ‘how to’ tutorials that were more personalized. This will accomplish the task.

Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 6.36.16 PMSeriously, I’m so excited! Check it out. Go to Classroom.Google.com While you cannot currently set up or join a classroom, you can request early access. For more information on what Google Classroom can do check out my video series.

Plastic Times: In the Beginning

This year we have been focusing on Book Studies. We have read several great works of literature including Love That Dog and Bridge to Terabithia. Recently, we picked up another Newberry Award winner. After 16 pages most of us were having trouble ‘getting into’ the book. We weren’t even through the first chapter yet – it was 24 pages – when I stopped and asked the students what they thought. At first, they were reluctant to be completely honest. They said things like, ‘it’s okay’ and ‘eh’. So yeah, when I gave them my honest opinion, they opened up a bit more. I have difficulties with reading comprehension, which they all know about, and I simply told them that I was having trouble ‘getting into’ the book. Collectively, they all breathed a sigh of relief and opened up. In the end, we decided to put the book down – at least for now – and move on to something different.

This is where Plastic Times comes in. Last year my class wrote, directed, produced, and acted in their own movie. It was an empowering experience. Within the last year, A Tale Unfolds has expanded their resources and restructured their payment system. Essentially, they have a ‘suggested’ price but will accept what you are willing to pay. Yep, even if you want to pay nothing! Which is brilliant, since their generosity makes me want to pay the suggested price and not try to get a cheaper price. A Tale Unfolds has partnered with several quality organizations, including CNN, to create top quality lessons. Teachers, everything is included!

Anyway, after the book fail, I wanted my students to participate in something meaningful, fun, and most importantly, rigorous. So, I went onto A Tale Unfolds and was immediately drawn to Plastic Times.  This lesson incorporates research, forming opinions on facts, (high quality) writing, and PBL.

screen-shot-2017-02-25-at-5-26-25-pmFriday we started our new path. The first lesson has students reviewing five different pieces of ‘Evidence’ (all factual) and taking notes. They are investigative reporters learning about the impact of plastic on our environment, animals, and us. Then, they are to form an action plan. When each group received their ‘Evidence’ I don’t think they thought I would stick to the 4-minute timer. I printed one copy of each piece of evidence and so they had a certain amount of time to review and take notes before passing it along. After the first round, they got the message. They then watched a 14-minute video produced by CNN to further their knowledge on the subject. Honestly, I have never seen the students so engaged. They really wanted to get all the information provided and answer all the questions on the guiding worksheet. And that was only day 1! I can’t imagine what the rest of the three weeks will bring, but I’m excited to see where this takes us!

BreakoutEDU

Finally, today I held my first real BreakoutEDU of the year. I say ‘real’ because I had run Mini Math Breakouts earlier this year. They were a success, but I just didn’t have enough kits to pull off a full class Breakout (I now know it can be done with one kit and tickets).

screen-shot-2017-02-23-at-6-13-19-pmHoly Cow! It was a GREAT success. I mean, I knew it would be but it still blew my mind. A few weeks ago I sucked it up and purchased 4 more DIY kits. I had purchased one from the website a little over a year ago and was hesitant to buy more – I’m cheap! Anyhow, today I ran 5 simultaneous breakouts – Grammar Gurus.

The entire class was engaged. Each group had no more than 6 students. They all seemed to work well together. There were a few groups that I had to remind to communicate with one another, but honestly, they did great. In the end, no groups completed the task. A few came really close to opening the last lock.

The really fun part, for me, was watching the students work together, quietly, for 45 minutes. This is something they rarely do – especially lately. In the end, they begged to have more time. Even when I didn’t give them more time to finish the puzzles they asked if we could do it again, WHEN we could do it again, and suggested we do one every Thursday.

When was the last time your students failed a task and BEGGED to do it again, soon? Later screen-shot-2017-02-23-at-6-14-14-pmin the afternoon, I had another group of students in my classroom. They saw the locked boxes and asked what they were. I briefly explained what we did earlier and they asked when they were going to do one.

I’m so excited with the outcome that I will try to plan them more often. I already have one planned for Read Across America Day – Dr. Seuss’ Birthday. If you haven’t tried a Breakout, I highly suggest you do. You and your kids will love it.