Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Google Forms for the Classroom

Are you looking for a better way to communicate with and get information from parents in your class?  If so, I'm going to share with you how using Google Forms has made my life so much easier in the classroom.
For those of you who may be unfamiliar with Google Forms, you will be happy to learn how easy it is to use.  Google Forms is an application from Google that allows you to create your own surveys online.  You are able to create your own questions, question types, and even include pictures and videos into the survey.

Once you've come up with all of the questions you'd like to ask your audience, you can share the survey either by e-mail, or by providing your audience with a link.  Once they start answering your questions, you're able to see all of the responses and even export them into a Google Sheet (similar to Excel) where you can sort your data.

Check out my video tutorial on how to use Google Forms:
Here are some examples of when I plan to use Google Forms in my classroom this year:
  • Back to school student information forms (now I don't have to type it all up after they've written it down)
  • Emergencies, such as early dismissal due to inclement weather
  • Parent interest surveys
  • Student surveys in the classroom 
  • Staff interest surveys within the school
Google forms was a huge help to me last year when we had a last minute early dismissal due to weather, and it saved me a ton of time not having to call every single parent.  All I had to do was forward the survey to all of their e-mails, post it in our private class Facebook page, and I was able to know exactly how all of my students were getting home that day.  It was fantastic.  I hope that you're able to find a way to use Google Forms in your own classroom!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Creating a Bibliography

I love giving my students the opportunity to do a fun project during the year.  In 5th grade it's important to start paving the way for our students to include a bibliography in their projects/presentations so that they get into the habit of giving credit to the resources they have used.  I remember vigorously memorizing the format for citing a source into MLA format and how complicated it was!  Luckily, there are now some great websites that make this process so much easier!

My class is currently working on their WWI/1920s Important People Project in which they are essentially writing a biography about an important person during this time period.  I normally give them the option to either write a biography or create a Power Point.  This year, I am having all students create a Power Point so that they learn about incorporating multimedia components into their projects.  The last slide of their Power Point is the bibliography.

I have created a quick video to show you how to use Easybib ( ) to have your students cite their sources.  It's INCREDIBLY easy.  I have actually shared the video with the parents from my class and will have it available for my students to reference as they continue to work on their projects.  They will definitely be ahead of the game when they get to middle school.

Check it out here:

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Thanksgiving Turkey Trot


Welcome to “The Chalkies” Turkey Trot! We hope you enjoy a jog through our blogs gobbling up freebies, ideas, and recipes for some holiday joy!

We have a new blog name!  We switched out the word "Primary" for "Elementary". We want to meet the needs of any teacher K-6. Our blog has been thoughtfully designed to help you find what YOU need for YOUR classroom level!

I love those grade level tabs {seen above} that help me grab what I need. This trot will also take you through the grade level blogs of your choice.

We hope you enjoy this little meal from appetizer to dessert!

I hope you enjoy our hop and have a very happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday :)

Slide1 - Copy

Monday, October 12, 2015

Name Tag ELA Centers


For those of you who have used my Name Tag Math Centers, I have a great surprise!  I have to started to create Name Tag Centers for ELA.  You can find them >>>HERE<<<.

Right now I have the following ELA Name Tag Centers:

  • simple, compound, and complex sentences
  • commas
***I am working on making them for additional skills as well.***


Name Tag Centers are a great way to have your kids moving around, working together, and review the skills you've taught in class.  With a partner, they rotate around to each name tag, solve a problem on their side, have their partner check their answer (which is located on their partner's side of the name tag), and either put a check or X in that answer box.  When they're finished, they total up their number of checks and Xs.  The player with the most correct answers is the winner.

My kids absolutely love these and they really enjoy the healthy competition!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Social Media in the Classroom

I’m in my 9th year of teaching and one thing that I’ve learned each year is just how much each year is absolutely nothing like the last. There’s no such thing as taking out “last year’s plans”, changing the date and coasting through the year. Education evolves constantly and I find it imperative for teachers to try and evolve with it.

This year I’ve made it a goal of mine to try new things in the classroom. Whether it’s lessons, technology, etc., I want to push myself in order to see what does and does not work with my class. One of my main focuses this year has been on using technology, specifically social media, to not only teach my students, but also to keep the parents in my class in the loop with what we’re doing.

In years past, I’ve had a hard time keeping up with communication. This often leads to lots of parent questions, confusion, and disconnection. With between 25 and 30 kids, it’s very easy to lose track of time and get bogged down with other things we’re doing. I want to share with you some of the amazing new social media and technology tools that I’m using in my classroom that have helped to make this one of the best years of my career.

I first heard of Periscope this summer at the Teachers Pay Teachers conference in Vegas. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s an app that allows you to do a live broadcast and people can watch what you’re doing. They can’t talk back to you, but they can type comments that you can see and show they like what you’re doing by tapping the screen to send colorful hearts. The video is also available for 24 hours in case someone misses the live feed. It seemed like a great way to market TpT products and share ideas with other teachers, but as I got into the classroom in August, it dawned on me that I could use this with my kids. I created a class account, gave the name to the parents, and told them to follow me. By the second or third weke of class, there were a few moments in class where my kids were working so hard and I wanted those parents to see it. I quickly opened the Periscope app, selected the parents I wanted to see it (I’ll explain this in a bit) and within seconds, I had parents “watching” their kids work.

Over the last 2 months, I have been occasionally using Periscope to share experiences such as presentations, a Junior Great Books discussion, kids playing in PE, reminding them of the Book Fair, and even demonstrating how we do our Number Talks. I also did a live broadcast at Orientation Night for any parents who were unable to attend. I had several paresnts watching it from other states while they were on business trips. I finally found a way to include everybody even if they can’t physically be there. I have my Assistant Principal as a follower, too, which allows me to show what I’m doing in my classroom beyond just a few walkthroughs and formal observations. I have had so many positive comments from parents about how they feel like they can finally “see” what happens during the day, especially because their kids usually say that they did nothing at school. It also gets my students to be on their best behavior because they know their parents are watching!

How to Make it Private
One of my first concerns when I signed up for Periscope was ensuring the privacy of my students. I did some research before broadcasting and found that Periscope has an option where you can privately broadcast to specific followers. Here’s how you do it:
Periscope has really enhanced the level of communication that I have with parents in regards to curriculum. Allowing them “into” our classroom has become so much fun and opened so many more doors to discussing what’s happening at school with their child.

Facebook can be a difficult tool to use at school depending on your area due to privacy concerns. Many people do not feel comfortable being on Facebook and sharing information, but I have been on it since 2004 and it has become such an integral part of my life that I wanted to find a unique way to use it to help me with school. After a parent mentioned starting a class Facebook group to share information, I did a little more research on the site and realized that I could make a completely private, closed group in which people have to request to be added to the group and I have to approve them. This allows the information that is in there to be kept among just our class of parents.

I have used our class Facebook page to share fun videos, pictures of the kids working, articles about education, reminders about upcoming events, etc. It’s also a great way for parents to communicate with each other and share pictures from our class events and field trips. It’s so quick and easy that I just love it so much more than having to send out an e-mail to everybody to get information across.

Class Dojo
This year I’m improving my level of communication about behavior by integrating Class Dojo into our daily routine. I have set up many different positive and negative awards in order to have documented information on behavior as well as an open line of communication with parents. Instead of having to spend lunch writing an e-mail about an incident that happened, I can log the incident into Class Dojo and the parents can see it. There’s also a feed similar to Facebook where you can share pictures and comments, as well as private and group messaging for quick and easy communication. I’m loving it! Our line in the hallway has never been so quiet since I use the app on my phone wherever we go in the school.

Khan Academy
Teaching Advanced Math this year in 5th grade has forced me to find new ways to get the difficult, higher level standards across to my students. I’ve used Khan Academy before to show students videos of how to do certain types of problems, but this year I’ve set myself up as a “coach” so that I can have my students on my account. This allows me to see what skills they are practicing and how they are progressing.

iXL is a great purchase by our school’s education foundation in which the students are able to practice any skill at any grade level, as well as search specifically by standard. There are so many practice problems and the students can get awards and see their progress. I like to use this for homework every so often and as a center for students to go to to reinforce skills we’ve already learned to maintain mastery.

Using a lot of technology can seem overwhelming and scary, but trust me, once you spend some time getting accustomed to it, it can be your best friend. The more you use the technology, the easier it gets and more fluid it becomes within your day. Some of the most positive outcomes I’ve experienced this year since incorporating the use of social media this year have been

· a higher level of connectedness from parents

· enthusiasm from parents, students, and MYSELF!

· Fewer parent concerns about lack of communication

· More responsibility placed on students

I can’t wait to see what other tools are available in the years to come. What are your favorite forms of technology and social media that YOU use in the classroom?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Terry's Top Ten Tuesday: Lunches I Pack During the School Week

During the school year, it's important to find ways to make healthy lunches that don't take a whole lot of time to make.  This week I'm going to share my favorite lunches that I pack for school days.

10.  Easy Mac - Yes, I admit.  I keep a stash of Easy Mac in my desk.  Don't hate me.  These are small to store, easy and quick to heat up, and take me back to my college days.
9.  Soup - I have a really cool soup cup that I used to heat up some chicken noodle soup when I just need something warm and hearty.
8.  Spaghetti - one of my favorite things to make during the week is spaghetti (either plain, with meatballs, or just with a meat sauce).  I usually put single portions into tupperware to quickly grab on my way to school.
7.  Pizza - whether it's a lean cuisine pizza or leftovers, pizza makes a great lunch to bring to school.
6.  Chicken and rice - a lot of my lunches consist of leftovers and I usually cook a lot at the beginning of the week and eat the leftovers for a few days.  I love to grill chicken and put it with either some brown rice or couscous.
5.  Tacos - just like I do with my chicken, I enjoy making tacos with some seasoned ground beef and cheese on flour soft tacos.  I don't like a whole bunch of ingredients so I make these very simple.
4.  Steak and broccoli - To get my iron fix, I love to grill a few steaks and keep the leftovers for lunch.  I pair it with some broccoli that I bake with garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper.
3.  Sandwiches - I'm a plain Jane and love to make a nice simple turkey and American cheese sandwich to bring to work.  It fills me up but is super simple.
2.  Lean Cuisines - Lean Cuisine has done some serious product overhaul this year.  I have found some new AMAZING meals that are very few calories.  Here are some of my favorites:  Vermont White Cheddar Mac and Cheese, Cheese Tortellini, Cheddar Bacon Chicken with Broccoli, Chicken in Sweet BBQ sauce, and pretty much any type of pasta.

1.  Salad - my favorite healthy lunch is a salad.  It usually consists of romaine lettuce, grilled chicken, black olives, shredded carrots, cheddar cheese, croutons and a dressing of olive oil.  It's delicious and easy to make!
I would love to see what lunches YOU pack for the school week, particularly those that are healthy options.  I am going to be working on eating healthier, so many of my options above are going to be packed even less.

Please link up with me and share your top 10 favorite lunches to pack for the school week here:   An InLinkz Link-up

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Civil War Interactive Notebook

Teaching the Civil War was not always fun for me.  History was not a strong suit of mine as a student, but I have really learned to appreciate and enjoy both learning and teaching Social Studies over the last few years.

This year I'm working on creating a resource for helping my students take notes while using our Social Studies textbook.  The book we use is Timelinks by Macmillan/McGraw Hill.  I recently created an interactive notebook for our first unit on The Civil War.

The notes go along with 5 lessons from Unit 1 in our book which also can be used with many other textbooks as well as curriculum.  Having an organized way to build my students' note is a priority not only for preparing for regular assessments, but it will be a great resource for them to have at the end of the year before our state assessments.  Below are images of each lesson's organizers:

My students have done a great job so far with organizing these notes and it has been a great way to keep all of their information in one place.  If you want to check out this resource further, go HERE.