50 States Mystery Hangout

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Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons 

I teach 5th grade. Traditionally, 5th graders write ‘State Reports’. I, however, HATE the state report model. I get it, kill 2 birds with one stone. Write and research, combine Social Studies with ELA. But does the state report model actually meet the Social Studies standard? No, it does not. The standard, according to the California Dept. of Education, states: “Students know the location of the current 50 states and the names of their capitals.” How does writing about Iowa inform me about the other 49 states and their capitals? Simple, it doesn’t. And when you assign states, there is a group that is disappointed in the state they got. So now you are torturing a large group of students to do something that they aren’t passionate about and it doesn’t even meet one of the standards you think you are teaching.  Not to mention torturing yourself when you read through the reports. Furthermore, your class will not have 50 students, so even if you are having students present, they won’t learn about all 50 states.

So how to meet this standard in an interesting way? Hangouts! Sure you could teach a song to learn the capitals and give the students a blank map to label, but come on, that is so boring!

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My vision for this year is to connect my class with at least one class in each of the other 49 states via Mystery Hangouts. This is NOT my idea. I saw it online last year. I don’t remember the teacher otherwise I would be giving credit where credit is due. What I have done is to create a Google Form for teachers to fill out. Using the Add-on Choice Eliminator 2 I can automatically wipe out state choices. When a teacher from Illinois fills out the form, Illinois is no longer a choice for a state. However, a teacher who wants to do this with my class, and doesn’t see their state listed, can simply contact me and they will be included in the fun. I also have carved out 2 days each week to complete my vision. There are more than enough days to complete this.

I would also like my students to keep notes on the states that we connect with. I’m not sure how this will be done. I could use a Google Form for each student to write one fact that they learned which could then be uploaded into a Google My Map. But that seems like a bit of work on my part and I want the students doing the work. I could have the students create their own Google My Map to log information. But my district has a ‘Walled Garden’ so the students wouldn’t be able to share their learning outside of our district; not what I am looking for. I could have students write on a shared doc or slide, but with 30+ students, it could get messy. We could create a Google Site or use a Padlet for each state, but 50 Padlets… So quite honestly, I’m not sure how to collect and archive their learning.

My idea for the notes is to track their growing knowledge. They need to know the state capitals and where the states are located. I would like for them to record capital, what region, maybe time-zone, what states border it, land locked or coastal, if coastal, what bodies of water, etc.

What are your thoughts? How would you have students record their learning? I’d love to hear what you have to say.

California Teacher Summit

#betterTogetherCA

Photo Credit: cateachersummit.com

This marked the 3rd year that California has invested in teachers in this way; a summit. This FREE event is held across the state, simultaneously. Held at California Universities, teachers come together to learn, grow, and become inspired.

This year, the keynote speaker was former VP first lady, Dr. Jill Biden. She spoke of her experiences as a teacher. How she was inspired by her grandmother and her grandmother’s brass bell. How after moving to Washington, D.C. she couldn’t leave teaching behind and taught at a community college. She spoke of the importance of education and the value that we as teachers bring to the profession. This speech was live streamed to all sites. I sat listening to her at CSUMB – California State University Monterey Bay.

This was the first year that I attended. I had registered for the previous two years, but due to vacations – just getting back a day or two before – I wasn’t able to attend. I had been too tired. However, this year was different. I was ready to go! And I’m glad I did.

The conference was from 8 – 12:30 pm. After the keynote, our first EdTalk was given by Mark Cisneros of Alisal High School. He spoke about Literacy. How literacy impacts our students; specifically our second language learners. And how we should feel passionate about what we teach. If we aren’t passionate and excited, the kids won’t be either.

Then, came my favorite part: EdCamp. Based on what WE wanted to talk about, learn about, share about, sessions were created. No presenters, just like minded teachers talking and learning from one another. Along with that, was a shared doc with notes for all sessions.

We then closed the day out with our second EdTalk. Alex Hofsteen, Internation School of Monterey,  shared his passion for teaching science in meaningful ways. Having the kids act out, create, and be hands-on in their own learning.

This was a great experience. Along with the learning, I was able to connect and grow my PLN. We’re all in this together. If you’re in California, looking into attending the event next year. It will be held Friday, July 27, 2018: It’s Personal.

Note: The two EdTalks were given by local teachers. Each site throughout the state had local teachers talk and share their knowledge and passion with others.

2 Truths & A Lie: State Style

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash.com

It’s no secret that I LOVE incorporating Google My Maps whenever and where ever I can in the classroom. So a teacher friend, Jennifer Stimpson (who is an AMAZINGLY inspirational scientist/teacher), thought it would be fun to get our classes to collaborate. She is a teacher in Texas and I teach in California. Our students come from drastically different backgrounds, which makes this project all the more appealing. We are going to play 2 Truths and A Lie: State Style.

In short, although the details have yet to be worked out, we will divide our classes into groups. Each group will be assigned a state in which, using Google My Maps, they will need to research the state and write 2 truths and 1 lie. They must cite their source and they may embed a video. This is phase 1.

Phase 2 will then see the teams working on another state, one the other class has completed, to find the 1 lie. Once the lie is found, it must be corrected and sources must be cited.

Finally, phase 3 the two classes will play either a Kahoot or Quizzizz game together. The idea is that students need to know the information for ALL 50 states, not just the ones they did. So students will have to work together, maybe digital notebooks, to study and learn.

We figured that this was way more fun than filling out a blank map of the U.S. What are your thoughts? How can we make it better? Want to join in on the fun? Here is the link to our document with a few more details.

Bathroom Signs

IMG_0833THIS! How awesome is this?

A few weeks ago I was at #cuerockstar #rOxnard and this sign caught my attention. The event was held at a middle school and I couldn’t help but think that all schools should have these. I’m also happy that gender fluidity and acceptance of the LGBTQ community is more commonplace than it was just a few years ago. Let’s hope that more schools and communities embrace differences.

My Maps: Set Default View

Recently I was leading a session on Google My Maps (#cuerockstar #rOxnard) when a question came up: Can you set the view in My Maps? I said, “No, I don’t think so.” Well, I was WRONG. You can set a default view!

It’s so easy, I can’t believe I never noticed. When you first open My Maps, after placing several pins on it, the view is something like the first image. That is unless you have a select few pins in the same area. It’s a zoomed out view of the earth.

set view 0Before we get to HOW to change the view, set the view to how you would like it to look when the Map is first loaded. Once the desired view is on the screen, click on the 3 dots to the right of the Map Title (#rOxnard1 in this case), a pop out window will then appear with options. One of them is to set the default view.

Set view 1Simply select ‘Set default view’ and you’re done! Now everytime this map is opened, it will look like this: set view 2

My Maps: Underutilized Tool in the Classroom

It’s no secret to anyone that knows me that I LOVE Google My Maps. Yes, there is a difference between Google Maps (the tool that tells you how to get from place to place) and Google My Maps (customizable maps).

Screen Shot 2017-07-20 at 4.34.45 PMGoogle My Maps is found in your Drive. It looks a lot like Google Maps, but as I’ve said, you can customize it. You can put points of interest, photos, directions, lines, shapes, customize the icons, etc. (a list of how to use the tools can be found on my YouTube Playlist).

When people hear about Google Maps (or My Maps), they automatically think it’s solely a geography thing. Teachers are no different. Yes, My Maps lends itself to geography and history quite easily, however, I have used it with Social Studies, ELA, and even Math!

In Social Studies, my students studies Pre-Columbian Peoples. I decided to split them into groups, create a Hyperdoc to find information and then use My Maps to record information. Their final Maps were placed on a Google Site. They created layers, drew shapes, recorded information, inserted pictures and videos, collaborated, learned, and shared.

In Math, students practiced fractions using My Maps. Yes, adding and subtracting fractions with both like and unlike denominators. In Math, there is practice using the measuring tool, comparing distances, it will even tell you perimeter and area of a shape.

In ELA, mimicking Jerome Burg’s Lit Trips, students can retell the story, learn about places, ideas, and the like that appear in the book. Next year, I would like to do this with Bud, Not Buddy, a book I have my 5th-graders read every year.

In another example, I created the HyperMap, same principle as Hyperdocs using My Maps. My students are required to learn about the 13 original colonies. In it, I created layers and gave the directions on the map. The students were then tasked with learning and recording the information (in groups).

If you are a fan of Hyperdocs, then this is a beautiful addition to your lessons. Think about how you can use Google My Maps in your classroom next year. Be sure to share your ideas in here and if you create something fun and exciting, share it on the Hyperdocs website!

 

#rOxnard Reflection

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 1.58.00 PMLast week I had the privilege of being a part of the #cuerockstar #rOxnard faculty. And what an amazing group they were! As tradition, we all had one minute to ‘sing for our supper’ also known as ‘Shred Session’. Yeah, that one-minute time limit? It meant nothing to me! In true RockStar fashion, I went a tad over. In all fairness, Mike Vollmert warned me that my time would soon be up. My response? “I don’t care,” and kept going. That was the first time I ever did that.

Day 1, I shared one of my passions: HyperMaps. Imagine creating a map (using Google My Maps – found in Google Drive) where students learn and the teacher is truly a facilitator. Or having students record their learning on maps. Combine My Maps with photos, websites, documents, etc and the possibilities are endless! I was inspired by the participants. Randi, had the brilliant idea to link a street view image in her map. She teaches her students about pyramids and was setting up a Hypermap that allows her students to experience the sites they learn about. I LOVE sharing the joy that is Hypermaps!

Day 2, for me, was all about green screens and the fun you can have with them! Check out my shred:


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Lots of creating happened! Lots of problem-solving and collaborating. Participants were App Smashing in ways I had never thought of before! I learned so much from everyone this day. Check out this crazy creation by George Carganilla.

If you haven’t been to a CUE RockStar yet, there’s still time!