Thursday, January 28, 2016

Protecting Your Child's Digital Footrpint

We embarked on a journey this year discovering the power of various technology tools to connect to each other and globally. I do my best to protect your child’s identity and teach all our agents about digital citizenship and once students leave at 2:30 their guardians take over. Whenever we are online we add to what is known as our digital footprint. I encourage you to view this short video about what a digital footprint is:

It has always been important to me to not share any pertinent information about your child using online tools. Some of you already observed that when I post photos of students earning their multiplication certificates they cover their last name. Others have commented at how their agents have an online presence using a hash tag with their agent number. Students are able to learn about various digital tools while in a controlled environment.  When they leave me at 2:30 they have more freedom in regards to what you, as parents, allow. Several of our students have accounts with apps and programs where they need to be 13. I encourage you to talk to your child about social media use. I also encourage you to have them discuss apps they use as I have run into situations where some parents do not understand or know the app being used by their child. Our children are starting to leave their digital footprint at an early age. In fact my 2-year-old nephew figured out how to create a live video and post it to my sister’s Facebook account. Though he looked adorable walking through the house, staring at himself, and getting his coat put on my sister was less than thrilled that he posted a live video to her Facebook. None of us know how he got from the point of turning the app on to posting the video but he managed. I remember my niece who was still babbling knew where her apps were on my IPhone. She also knew how to manipulate the screen before she could speak.

I am very excited so many students are blogging. I have seen some of our students and parents comment on blogs, which is a great way for us to connect. However I want to remind you that when your child goes to respond to a blog and does not do so as a guest, as I had suggested they do from the beginning, their first and last name will appear. This is a family decision since the commenting is being done at home but I wanted to make you aware that even these responses to blogs adds to a child’s digital footprint.

If I had children I would want to keep their identity safe for as long as possible. With the rapidly changing world the creation of their digital footprint is inevitable. However we can all do our part to slow that process down.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

OWL: A Fantastic Writing Resource

If you have never visited the online writing lab you might want to bookmark the site to help your agent through school. It is a great resource for writing and grammar. Last night I happened to use it because I was wondering if you needed to underline titles or put them in italics. I always learned to underline them; however, last night I discovered italics is the way to go if you are using word processing. I was one of a few people with a computer when I learned grammar skills. Most of the work I did was handwritten. That was why underlining was the way to go! Students should be using italics if they are using the Google Drive or another word processing program. If they write the titles then they can underline them unless they can figure out how to hand write in italics. I also use this site to help me cite sources correctly and reinforce grammar skills for students. It is a rich resource for writing! Thank you to Purdue for creating this!

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Group Text and Future Goals from the NHL!

This morning we talked about the group text. I went over three BIG ideas about group texting at this age. First, not all students are included in the group text whether they do not have a device or were not invited. This can be hurtful to students so therefore students need to be mindful not to bring the group text discussion into school. If your child is feeling left out please encourage him or her to put a note in the bothering box with his or her name on it so I can follow up! Secondly as some of you may already know the group text can take a chunk of time out of your day without even realizing. Some young students might be waiting and waiting and waiting for that response to the group text. Others keep texting and do not notice the day has gone by. Therefore the students need to be mindful of making the most out of their day. Third, it is important NOT to talk about others when texting. Cyber bullying can take many forms and I would rather be proactive about this. Visit for more information on this topic to help educate yourself and your child.

I discussed the following with our agents this morning:

On a completely different note I am excited to let you know of an enrichment opportunity for our agents. We are kicking of Future Hockey Scholars in the computer lab once students have completed their explorer web quest. They will be discovering numerous STEAM concepts as they participate in modules developed by Ever-Fi and the NHL. 

To learn more visit:

I am so excited for them. My young friend Maxwell, our MassCUE CUEByte student speaker, encouraged me to check this out after he had to use it for an article he wrote for SportsIllustrated for Kids on the winter classic. He said he learned more through this about various science, technology, engineering, and math concepts than he did in school. I hope our agents enjoy this activity! They can also work on the modules at home!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Rocks, My Awesome Publishing Co, and Victoria Coe's Book Trailer!

Rocks are all the rage in science! We reviewed properties of minerals and are now focusing on the questions What are the properties of rocks? And How are rocks formed? These questions will be answered through some hands on discovery activities and science readings over the next few lessons. Here are some fun sites to check out at home:

Rocks, which are made of one or more kinds of minerals, can be identified by their properties and by how they are found and changed. Earth is a dynamic planet. Some changes on earth occur quickly; others – like the formation of some rocks – take tens, hundreds, thousands, and even millions of years. Students might take the cliché “As solid as a rock” literally. While it is true that rocks are solids, they change as a result of chemical and physical processes.  We will talk next week about the three types of rocks and how they are formed. Today students are going to delve into the three types of rocks. 

In reading students are working in collaborative groups to SCAMPER a story. One group is exploring special effects in movies, another met Mahalia Jackson, and a third group read about Waterhouse Hawkins and his dinosaurs. We had some rich discussions yesterday about each story and then students got to work. Their thinking has been fascinating to listen to. What would happen if MLK met Mahalia? How would that change the story? What if we used a telescope instead of a movie camera? Let’s talk about lenses! I love how they are stretching their thinking. In writing many students are finishing up their first drafts of their narrative story about the magical object. I am impressed with their ability to craft a creative story! They will be working in My Awesome Publishing Company, which officially gets released this month! 

When I went to the American Library Association Conference I had the pleasure of meeting Victoria Coe! I am so excited for her new book Fenway and Hattie! It is told from the point of view of a dog. I will be looking for a student to read the book when it is published and blog about it for our readers! The book trailer was released! If you have not seen a book trailer before check this out:

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Go Grolier and The Power of Blocks in Problem Solving

When I sent home information about the school’s online access to Grolier I was not sure at that juncture how I would use it in the classroom. After the past few weeks I can honestly say I cannot imagine the students not having access to this learning tool. We have used it across all curriculum, most recently in our explorer study. As a teacher, I love it because I know everything the students are looking at is safe and links are vetted. It provides grade level information to support students in their research. The other day Teddy was searching for an answer to a question using various websites on explorers I had provides (we got the Grolier account after I prepared the explorer webquest). I suggested he check Grolier and he excitedly told me the answer was there! Therefore I highly suggest students use this resource at home for their Discovery Quests as well! They might even find great information for their book project or other research endeavors that come up.  For log in information visit:

The math homework this evening might require some creative use of household items to solve the problems. In school we used cubes to act out some very challenging problems. The cubes helped students to visualize the problem. I explained the importance of reading the problems slowly, figuring out what you know, and using tools to help solve the problem. In the past this lesson has been very challenging for students but with the cubes and some direct instruction and modeling students were able to power through the word problems in class. We talked about how they could use legos, pasta, coins, blocks, shoes, etc. at home to help solve the problems this evening. We will review for the topic 8 assessment today. The assessment is tomorrow.  We will begin our study of fractions Friday!

Students took their winter grammar assessment yesterday and there was significant growth in our class average. I have been teaching grammar skills directly in their writing, reading letters, and for those who blog for spelling. We will be going over the assessment today and it will come home with your agent as I want you to see what we are asking them to know and understand. Students struggled with an adjective question where the adjective was “that”. We watched a BrainPOP on adjectives to remind us of this.