Thursday, April 28, 2016

Authentic Learning from Bri Eggers!

Providing authentic learning experiences for students is an important component of my pedagogical philosophy. Seeking ways to enhance students’ learning is a catalyst for engaging and exciting learners. Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curriculum and 21st century learning must be integrated into our daily lives in order to best prepare our youngest minds for an unknown future. Thanks to Bri Eggers from Boston’s Channel 7 weather team we had an authentic learning experience on STEM that afforded students an learning opportunity that enriched our lives. She taught us about what it is like to work in meteorology, gave a virtual tour of the news room, explained various facets of weather, and taught us about the weather maps she reads (which look vastly different then we see on TV or online). Students learned science vocabulary and reviewed concepts from the water cycle, cloud study, and weather study taught in previous grades. Bri Eggers’ presentation was interactive, and her sense of humor drew us all in! I am amazed at how much social media has changed the world of meteorology. We were lucky to have her today! The proof of how amazing this was is in the student voices!

Nathan learned about new kinds of weather he did not know about. He enjoyed learning about green screen technology.
Ryan learned how destructive Hurricane Sandy was. He also liked her jokes.
Emily learned there was something called a firenado. We were told to Google it! She also liked how confident Bri was when she was speaking.
Jeevan was informed that Channel 7 office has no windows.
Jacob learned when meteorologists forecast they cannot wear green due to the green screen.
Ava liked that Bri Eggers talked about different kinds of storms.

The only suggestion from the class was to add the control room to the virtual video tour. They were curious about some of the machines she was talking about. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

#PARCC Worries on a Wall

The day before we all embark on our first PARCC journey students participated in a worry wall activity. They were handed a blank piece of white paper. I asked them not to put their names on it and to think of this as a blank canvas. They were tasked with filling the paper with their worries about PARCC. First I got 23 sets of curious eyeballs on me. Then some eyeballs started to bug out. Then someone asked what I meant. I explained we were making a Worry Be Gone Wall. I wanted them to express their thoughts in writing or pictures to be hung up so we could reflect on what makes us all nervous. It is good to get this out on paper. As students began to work I noticed a lot of commonalities. Students are worried about: the time, failing, not knowing the answer, the open responses, going blank, and breaking pencils among other things. As each student brought me his or her paper it gave me a chance to discuss his or her worries and alleviate some of them. If their pencil breaks they should raise their hand and ask for a new one. If they try their best time will be on their side. We are all afraid of failure (even adults). After they were all hung up I shared my observations.  We talked about how we are not alone in our worries. It is important to hear what others are concerned about too. Often we think we are the only ones worried about certain things, but once we start talking about it with others our anxiety is quelled as they often have similar experiences. I am worried about running out of time and not being able to finish all our projects we started. We have 38 days left (I am out 4 of them), so we will get finish what we can. I am worried about failing my papers. It was nice to be able to connect to students’ concerns. I then asked them if my face looked nervous or worried. They said no. I reminded them how much growth we have all gone through since September and that tomorrow is a day to show off that growth in 90 minutes. The test taking people do not know your agents, their worries, their concerns, or their thoughts. It is a standardized test and our agents are definitely not standardized! Please remind your child he or she left their worries on a wall before they leave for school. That is where they should stay! Hung up for all to see (and it is not easy to share your worries with a hallway of people but our agents were brave and did so!). Cannot wait to see the PARCC Busters in action!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Google Keep: It is a Keeper!

Today I introduced students to a new tool they can use in Chrome or with Google. Google Keep is Google’s answer to helping people organize their life. Google Keep allows users to create an organization board. Students can use this tool to help organize homework, projects, and things they have to do. Subjects can be color coded. Students can make check lists and check off items they have completed. It is a great thing for students to use when planning for their Young Inventor’s Fair! Like all the Google tools we have used thus far, you can share notes with other users. Students could share their assignments with you so you can help support their learning at home! I showed students how to use this wonderful tool and had them practice using it in Chrome. There is also an app version for devices. 

According to google, Google Keep is great to: “quickly capture what's on your mind and share those thoughts with friends and family, speak a voice memo on the go and have it automatically transcribed, or grab a photo of a poster, receipt or document and easily organize or find it later in search.” 

I love this productivity tool for students! I think it would be a great alternative to an agenda book as they get older. Google Keep will also come in handy when students have lengthier assignments. They can break their work down into manageable pieces using the list item in Google Keep. Checking items off that they complete will keep them on track. There is also a reminder option you can set to help alert you to when things are coming up! Google Keep can also be used to take or draw notes to help students remember information from class that they can access at home. They can sort and organize the notes they took or create reminders too! You can add labels to better sort your notes! The labels are very similar to using a hashtag. Notes can then be sent to Google Docs. If you use the mobile version there is also a drawing option! Students can draw concepts out to help them with future assignments!
The possibilities of using Google Keep in the classroom are endless!

Available everywhere
• Try Google Keep on the web at
and on your Android phone by downloading the app at

Some links to support you at home with using Google Keep:

Friday, April 15, 2016

Understanding AUPs: Why This is Important

How many of you have ever heard of an AUP or RUP? Every year before your child starts school students and parents are given a handbook, where the Acceptable Use or Responsible Use (depending on the district) for Internet Use policy in schools is located. Parents are usually asked to sign off that they received the handbook or these policies (depending on their district). The past few months I have been researching various policies for Internet Use in schools in MA and many have similar themes. They start with the idea of thinking about what is best for children and staff when using a school’s network and Internet. Laws like CIPA, COPPA, and FERPA are taken into account as these are federal. Many young students get upset when a parent says the dreaded no to downloading an app. However CIPA clearly states children under 13 should not have access to certain apps. According to my AUP Internet use in our school is for educational purposes. The policy continues to say “uses include enhancement of curriculum, research, and limited high-quality self-discovery activities. To remain eligible as users, students must use the Internet and the LAN resources in a manner consistent with the educational objectives” of our school. Students who use our resources for other purposes may lose the right to use them.

In my sixteen years of teaching I have never had to talk to students about this policy, and I realize now colleagues, parents and students need to be aware this policy exists and understand it. Today I will be sharing this policy with my students as I saw some children had shared a Google Doc called "The Doob" which was opened on a school computer. "The Doob" is not intended for educational purposes, and was nothing I assigned or had anything to do with our work in class. It was something created out of school and I believe was intended to be a joke. Perception rules the roost in my book, and I did not find the creation to be funny. It pokes fun of one of our presidential candidates and people with facial deformities. This use of technology in our classroom is an example of when kindness was not chosen. It is an example of the power of technology and how it can be used to spread a message, even a negative one. I hope people will take a look at the AUP or RUP for their school and discuss this with their children.

I encourage you to talk about “The Doob” with your child. If you have not seen it I encourage you to ask your child if he or she is on the document. It is so important to monitor student use of technology as they grow and learn how to use these tools effectively and appropriately. It sure does take a village.

If anyone is interested in our school policy it can be found at:

It will be updated for the fall as it is constantly evolving as technology evolves. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Fabulous Learning today from Field Trip Zoom and the Museum of Science!

Today the agents were treated to two very special presentations! The first we owe a HUGE thank you to Field Trip Zoom for bringing the International Spy Museum to us! Since we could not go there, they came to us via some technological tools. Today we participated in Tech Ops Science: Operation STEM.

Tech Ops…come in Tech Ops.” A field agent is in trouble and needs help. Students play the role of Technical Operations Officers (Tech Ops) supporting an agent in her secret mission. First, with basic electronics, everyday objects, and some creativity, students are challenged to create a signaling device. Then, they must decrypt a secret message and finally devise an exfiltration plan using geospatial analysis.”

Students discovered a lot through this amazing program! Field Trip Zoom is a wonderful resource for classrooms. Their vast programming has a lot to offer our learners. Check them out at

Students also had an assembly with the Museum of Science on electromagnetism. “During this presentation featuring high-tech Museum equipment, students explore voltage, current, resistance, and the interrelationship between magnetism and electricity. See someone’s hair stand on end, create a human extension cord by sending an electric current through several people, and shoot a metal ring to the ceiling of the school!”

To learn more about the program visit Thanks to MESA for supporting our learning!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Wait, Money Doesn't Grow On Trees?

Teaching students about money is vital to do at a young age, as we know it does not grow on trees! How many times have we been guilty of over spending on something that we look at now wondering why we made the purchase in the first place? Seemed like a good idea at the time. I constantly am hearing children in stores saying they have to have something, and listening to parent’s high pitched voice response. The child does not understand why they can’t have it and blames the parent for saying no instead of understanding that the item has a value and might not be in their parent’s budget.

Our agents have an opportunity to learn some valuable financial literacy skills thanks to EverFI (the company that brought us hockey scholars)! They will have exposure to the following topics: responsible money choices, income and careers, planning and money management, credit and borrowing, insurance and safety management, and savings and interest. “Evidence based learning theories are incorporated to increase students’ knowledge and build the foundation for making good financial decisions at a young age.” We will be kicking off this program the end of May with a visit from our friend Ms. Donovan from EverFi! However she has given us access in case any agent is interested in testing this out over vacation! To learn more visit: 

Information about how to log in will be coming home today! I hope this inspires some of our students to think smartly about money and maybe think twice before getting mad when a parent says no to when they inquire about getting something at a store. If all else fails send them to the money tree in your yard!
Cash, Money, Wealth, Assets, Money Plant, Investment