Saturday, January 28, 2012

Museum Box

What's a Museum Box? This FREE virtual display box is a presentation tool that allows students to incorporate text, images, videos, links, and pictures. Each of the 8 sections of the box are cubes that unfold to have 6 faces:

To each face you can add text, pictures, links, videos, sounds, or even files:

There are 3 layers to each box, which means a total of 24 cubes:
So, how can you use it? I plan on introducing it to my class on Digital Learning Day, which is Wednesday, February 1. As a class, we'll make 1 museum box, filling the first 8 cubes. (We'll just do one level this time). I have 24 students, so I'll divide them into groups of 3 and each group will have one cube from our box to work on. Our topic will be Chapter 8 in our state history book, which covers The Great Depression, New Deal, and World War 2. (I know...quite a lot for one chapter). Each of the 8 groups will have a topic from our chapter to research and fill their "cube" with information to share. I haven't decided yet if I'll assign the topic or subtopic or let them choose for themselves. I tend to let them choose for themselves because it is highly motivating, but I suspect they'll be motivated regardless because of this awesome new tool.

Once we're finished, I'll post it here as an example. This is a really great tool for students and I think it will be easy for them to use. The layout and large graphics will make it very kid-friendly.

Have you used it? Are you planning to? If so, drop me a line and share! I'd love to see how others are using Museum Box!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Inspiring or Instructing?

What goes on in your classroom? Do you inspire or instruct? As I reflect back on the week, I have to say I've done a bit of both. The light in one child's eyes as he showed me a book he searched out on his own to read simply because we're reading and learning about Houdini; the PhotoStory another child made about World War 2 (current history topic); the excitement from my Gifted students when I had them make a project to "show" symmetry instead of participating in the lesson with the rest of the class...these are the inspiring moments. These are the times that I cherish and want to have more of. So I asked myself, what's the common thread? In most cases, its technology.
  • I taught my kids to make Prezis about Houdini (current reading story). These same children who would normally "tune out" started spouting information about Houdini that I didn't even know! They found it by themselves because they were inspired and excited.
  • In History, I often show videos or have interactive flipcharts with ActivExpression quizzes or responses.
  • My Gifted kids were using the digital camera to go around the school and take pictures of things that are symmetrical.
The list could go on and on, but inevitably, my students were more motivated and inspired to learn when technology was being used (preferably by them and not me). 

How to get more moments like those? These kids truly are digital learners. We've got to teach them the way they learn.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Math Live

I can't wait to use this resource tomorrow at school! I just stumbled upon it a few minutes ago...what a gem! There are engaging, interactive videos dealing with numerous math topics. There are even links for each lesson to additional practice! We're going to try out the one about ordered pairs tomorrow. I'm looking forward to sharing it with the kiddos!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Heating Up a Lesson with Photo Booth

While learning about heat and thermal imaging today, one of my students quipped "My iPad has an app that takes those kinds of pictures."
"Hey, MY iPad will do that too!" I said. (Good thing I had a kid there to remind me of that app). So, of course an impromptu experiment began. We took thermal images using PhotoBooth and showed them on the document camera. Then I had the kiddos rub their hands (same kids from this post) together and snapped a picture real quick to see what color their hands were.  Then we compared the colors in the pictures to this scale from NASA's website.

Yet another use for iPad in the classroom!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

And the Winner Is...

Jennifer, from Keys 4 Education is the winner of my first giveaway! Congratulations, Jennifer, and thank you to everyone who participated!

Jennifer won a copy of The Response Revolution as well as two stress balls: one an ActiVote, and one an ActivExpression.

Stop by Jennifer's blog and check it out:

Friday, January 20, 2012

Why We Must Find Time for Science

Boy, were my eyes opened today during a science activity. I learned (again) to not ever assume that kids know something.

As an introduction to our next chapter, Heat, we were exploring the idea that heat can be generated and make things warmer. First step, observe a paperclip (room temperature). Next step, bend the end back and forth quickly a few times and feel it. Amazed shouts and wide eyes predominated the class. Of course, several had to repeat this experiment because it was so cool. We also rubbed an eraser on a piece of paper for one minute, with the same result. Shocked exlamations arose from my 4th graders. (I was loving this).

The next part of the experiment produced a shock to me---The final activity was for students to rub their hands together for 15 seconds. Most of my kiddos were SHOCKED! They had no idea that rubbing their hands together would produce heat! Really?!

While I loved the fact that I got to see those awe-struck faces during that precious moment of learning, I was a little sad for them...

We have got to find time to teach science, and not just from a text need to do science to really get it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

5 Ideas for Using Your ActivExpressions Today!

ActivExpressions are easy to use, provide instant feedback and can help keep students interested and motivated. Are you a little unsure of how to use your ActivExpressions? In this post, I'll give you a few ideas that require NO prep-work for you. You can literally go in your classroom and use them right away. So here goes:
Using the Express Poll you can verbally ask a question, or even write/type it on the board, then have students send in responses.
    1. Self-Assessments: I often have students assess their work during small group instruction. This could easily be adapted to whole group lessons. If you have a numbered rubric that you are familiar with, students can send in the number that corresponds with the rubric. Go to ExpressPoll, and click Number Question.
    2. Morning Math Stretches: "How did your family use math last night?" is one common math stretch discussed in Laney Sammons' book, Guided Math. (For a flipchart with more, click here to visit my website). Simply go to ExpressPoll, click on the ABC button, and students can text in their answers. This is so much more time and space efficient than my previous way of having students write answers on the ActivBoard. Even with Dual User, it was crazy difficult for 24 students to all have a turn. 
    3. Smoothing Transitions: Are your students slow during transition times? Using the text feature have students text in their name when they've gotten their items ready for the next lesson, lunch, or finished cleaning at the end of the day. Whose name will light up first, or even within the first 10?
    4. Yes/No and True/False Questions:  This is found on ExpressPoll, then click on the green checkmark. Choose Y/N or T/F. Simply ask a question in any subject area. Students send in their responses.
    5. Lunch count: Students can either text in their choice, or you may give each choice an option, such as A, B, C. On the ExpressPoll, choose Multiple Choice. (See below) 

    These ideas allow you to seamlessly integrate technology into your existing lessons, with no extra work for you! As an added benefit, you have all of the data at your fingertips and don't have to worry about trying to remember it!

    Sunday, January 15, 2012

    Promethean's Embed Option

    Promethean's newest upgrade of ActivInspire now allows you to embed html objects such as YouTube videos, Glogs, Prezi's, etc. directly from the web! Check out this post for some really great ideas on how to use this new feature in the classroom:


    I can't wait to use this feature in my lessons. It will be so great to have everything I need right in the flipchart.

    Comments (Finally) Numbered!

    Well, after two nights of frustrated vents to my poor, patient husband, and about a gazillion attempts, I FINALLY got my comments numbered! Check out my friend Cara's post My Comments Are Numbered over at Teaching My Calling for some great instructions. Ironically, she and I were both trying to puzzle this very thing out at the same time and neither one knew the other was trying to do it! She has some great screen shots and step by step instructions. Also ironically, I actually did have the comments numbered----3 ways----and didn't know it because my big mistake was not clicking on the post's title to check.

    So, once you've gone through the process be sure to click the title of your post. Do not simply refresh your screen like I kept doing. Do not simply click on the comments link. Good luck to you! 

    I hope it is easier for you than for Cara and me!

    Saturday, January 14, 2012

    Response Revolution GiveAway!

    My first giveaway in honor of the new Promethean ActivExpressions 2 my classroom received yesterday!

    The winner will be randomly selected on 
    Saturday, January 21.  
    The winner will receive a copy of The Response Revolution, and an ActiVote and ActivExpression stress ball. To enter:
    1. Follow my blog or tell me you're already a follower. (Leave a comment)
    2. Like ThinkShareTeach's Facebook page. (Leave a comment)
    3. Blog about this giveaway (Leave a link to the post in your comment)
    4. Grab my button and post on your blog (Leave 2 comments with a link)
    Every time you comment means another chance to win! Happy Blogging!

    Friday, January 13, 2012

    Awesome Delivery

    Today my class received a new set of Promethean version 2 ActivExpressions! (Thank you, Promethean!) So, of course we had to drop everything and try them out. (Never mind that we were in the middle of a math lesson. When something that cool happens, you just have to go with it.) So, what did they kiddos have to say about them? Results from a poll I took today using the Expressions:

    The Question----What is your favorite thing about the new ActivExpressions?

    The Result:
    They have keyboards.
    They're the new thing and they're cool.
    You can text in your answer.
    How it is made.
    It is so huge and the keyboard is awesome!
    It's like you're texting on a phone and there's a screen.
    It is fun!

    I'm definitely looking forward to using these on a daily basis.

    I Have a Dream Mobiles

    In honor of Martin Luther King Jr, today we listened to his "I Have a Dream" speech, read a biography about his life, and made these great crafts with a paper plate, red circle (traced a CD), cloud cut out, picture of MLK Jr, and yarn.

    It was very interesting to hear what they had to say about how to make the world a better place. Among them were:
    • My dream is to eliminate poverty.
    • My dream is to help find a cure for diabetes for people like me.
    • My dream to help the world be a better place is to recycle and not litter.
    • My dream is for everyone to send help to the children in Haiti.
    What sorts of activities have you done or planned to do for MLK day?

    Tuesday, January 10, 2012


    Teachers, if you have an iPad you have GOT to get this app! Splashtop basically allows you to control your desktop or laptop computer with your iPad. It's like having an Interwrite Mobi or ActivSlate device, but you can actually see the same screen on your iPad as what is on your computer, which makes it much easier to allow students to interact with projected images.

    I Am a Simile

    Quick, easy, and fun way to review similes: I did a quick lesson to make sure students knew that a simile is a comparison using like or as, then students created similes to describe themselves.

    My hair is as red as fire.
    I am as smart as the sun is bright!

    Monday, January 9, 2012

    Versatile Blogger Award

    A huge thank you goes out to Cara over at Teaching My Calling for awarding my blog the Versatile Blogger Award!

    The rules for receiving this award are as follows:
    1. Thank the person who presented the award to you, and link back to them.
    2. Tell seven things about yourself.
    • I'm a Christian and attend the church in which I was saved as a child of 9 years old.
    • I have a 15 year old---soon to be 16 and driving!
    • I am a new Pinterest addict (Follow me on Pinterest
    • I am a National Board Certified Teacher
    • I love class clowns!
    • I have the most wonderful husband in the world!
    • I'm a huge fantasy junky...the higher fantasy, the better.
    3. Pass the award on to 15 other newly, discovered blogs. These may not be new to the blogging world but new to you. Be sure you link to this post onto a comment on their blog.

    Saturday, January 7, 2012

    Matter Foldables

    This week we're learning about the states of matter, and I knew it would be difficult for the kiddos to grasp the concept about how molecules behave in each state, so here's what I came up with. After we acted out how molecules would behave in different states of matter (with the students being the molecules), we made these matter foldables:
    1. Fold a piece of construction paper in half hot dog style.
    2. While it is still folded in half, fold it into thirds like a billfold.
    3. Now there is a section each for solids, liquids, and gases.
    4. Students drew the pictures on the front and added happy face stickers molecules as they would appear in each item.
    5. Finally, they used their books to find facts about each state and wrote information.

    Another thing my students really loved was this video: They literally laughed out loud EVERY time we watched it!

    Class Dojo

    Teachers, have you seen this yet?  ClassDojo is an on-line classroom management system that allows students to track their behavior in real time. You can award points for positive or negative behavior and display the information on your whiteboard or computer. There's also a mobile version so that you can add points from your tablet or phone. I can't wait to give this a try on Monday.

    I found this great idea while reading Diggin the Dojo! by Denise over at Sunny Days in Second Grade. Thanks for sharing!

    Friday, January 6, 2012

    Way Too Old...

    From a student today: "Mrs. Kilgo, when you were in 4th grade, were the pictures in your books black and white?"

    Less is More

    This 1/2 week back at school has been the most relaxing, stress-free week I believe we've had all year. No hurrying from one subject to get to the next one. Time to take bird walks when the moment presented itself. And with the lack of hurrying, an openness and eagerness began to appear that is often hidden away in our usually daily classroom rush---locked away because we don't have time to properly pursue it. It 's been so great, I almost dread getting back into the swing of our full schedule next week.

    I actually said as much to the aide in my classroom today and she agreed. And as I sat pondering the difference in this 1/2 week verses our normal routine it comes down to one main thing: Less is More. What I mean by that is simply this:

    Because I wasn't so focused on finishing up one thing only to cram in 10 more, we all were able to really dig deep into what was being learned at the moment. We had TIME to look up strange words encountered in a read aloud. (See Adventures in Story Time). When the kiddos didn't understand the grammar lesson, there was time to reteach, explain, and make sure they had it before moving on. We spent time discussing items on our study guide; really discussing them, not just me glossing over them quickly. And, by some miracle, not once did I feel pressure to "try and fit it" more learning activities.

    I think that's where so many of us are going wrong: Trying to cram in as much as absolutely possible, without fully covering or delving deep into the most important things. In my case, my current schedule includes:

    Alabama History
    Creative Writing
    Reading Intervention Group
    2-3 Small Groups for Reading
    Whole group reading lesson
    Math Intervention Group
    Daily Read Aloud
    Computer Lab

    Every day!!!!!!!

    The difference for me this week was the absence off my small groups, not as much writing and spelling, and no basal story to be responsible for. I'm not saying these things aren't important, only questioning the necessity of using 1/2 of my allotted time during the day on Language Arts. Something's gotta give, because we sure have had a great week of learning. I'd hate to loose that just to "fit in" more.

    I think less big box teaching can equal more authentic learning opportunities.

    Thursday, January 5, 2012

    Adventures in Story Time

    Well, today's read aloud brought about an interesting event. It's Story Time: Kids are quiet. They're riveted on the story. We're on the hunt for Hugo Purple Turban right there along with the Hardy Boys, and we think we just might catch him. That's when it happened. Right in the middle of a sentence was a word I had to admit I'd never seen, heard, or even had a clue as to how to BEGIN to pronounce. I just had to stop and say, "I don't have a CLUE about this word!" What was this word that had me stopping mid-sentence and scrambling for the on-line dictionary?
    Of course we read the definition and listened to the pronunciation multiple times. None of us had ever heard of it before! And as we talk and laugh about this word for a few minutes before getting back to the story, that's when it hits me---I'm sooooo glad I carved out a time in our already packed schedule for a read-aloud. What a teachable moment! The vocabulary learning was completely authentic, spontaneous, and memorable.

    Tuesday, January 3, 2012

    The Liebster Award

    Thank you to my dear friend, Cara, from Teaching My Calling for awarding me the Liebster Award! How very exciting! This award is given to newbie bloggers with under 200 followers. Here are the rules:

    1. Copy and paste the award on your blog.

    2. Thank the giver and link back to them.

    3. Reveal your top five picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.

    Here are my top five:
    Get in the Fold!
    Fun in Fourth Grade!
    The Teaching Thief
    Adventures in Teaching
    Mrs. Teachnology


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