Wednesday, March 15, 2017

3 Clicks To Make YouTube Safe for All Students

OK, we all know that moment: Plan One either zooms through or falls apart and Plan Two goes much the same way. Or a student asks that "perfect" building question and the whole "Let's find out" moment is unvetted and spontaneous. 48 eyes are on your projected screen and it's a complete crap shoot what your search will bring. The ads can be dicey and grown up fingers are NEVER fast enough to click away from inappropriate content in front of a live 9 year old audience.

Image result for youtube logo

We also know the independence and resourcefulness oozing from kids who are researching at stations. And haha, do we EVER know the eye contact two 5th grade boys make when they hit the inappropriate jackpot and flood one screen.

YouTube is such an amazing resource that I know many lessons and learning include it in many forms. Vetting the videos and creating approved Play Lists is an awesome resource for classroom use. However, anyone who has ever worked with kids knows it is a matter of time before they jump outside the lines.

Keeping our students safe online is of utmost importance. Here are THREE CLICKS that take YouTube from that nailbiting experience to a resource you can trust and enjoy.

I am going to show you how to switch YouTube to "Restricted Mode" and breathe a lot easier during research and independent exploration.

 You do not need to sign in to activate the Restricted Mode; however you DO need to sign in to lock the Restricted Mode so I suggest signing in when you begin.

After signing in scroll ALLLLLLLLLL the way down to the bottom of the page. Like the way way bottom.

At the VERY bottom of the page you will find the Restricted Mode option. The default is "OFF" so yours probably is OFF. Click on the arrow and change to "ON"

At this point you will need to click "On" then hit Save. You also see the option to "Lock Restricted Mode on this browser". This prevents any other user from changing to Unrestricted Mode.

That's it! Literally 3 Clicks change YouTube from an off limits website to a useful resource.

Let's take a look and notice a few things quickly. As YouTube says "No Filter is 100%accurate but it should help you filter most inappropriate content." I agree with this statement and I would like to note that I have not had any problems with inappropriate content since I have changed modes.

Please also note that this setting works only on THIS BROWSER. If a student opens a different browser then you need to check the settings again.

Also, for those times when it may be that someone has been off task the History Tab is to the right of the Restricted Mode tab and this will give you all the info you need.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Happy Jolly Merry FREE Downloadable Holiday Tags - Print and Share

We are SUPER lucky to have Thanksgiving week off in my district. What better time to get all of my Holiday gifts together? This week Yankee Candle had small jars for 5.00 each, so it's time to start putting together some gift bags!

Click on the picture above for FREE tag download and a Jolly Happy Merry Everything to YOU!!

3 Best Apps for Classroom Creation in less than 20 Minutes

Felt Board 2.99 App Store, Software Smoothie

Felt Board is a staple with our Primary kids throughout the building! This app gets used in any subject and can be used to communicate all learning. FB is one of the first apps I teach in Kindergarten and we go strong through early 2nd.

One of the most fun Library features about Felt Board is the Fairy Tale character selection and general story characters. After learning Library iPad norms we may start with reading a story together and using Felt Board to share Main Character. Another day we may show setting AND characters. We can use this app to show Plot as well. Felt Board works well with partners. One of my favorite activities was when groups of three Kinders "pre-read" a book then showed the Main and Supporting Characters.

*My Principal happened through the Library through this lesson and was AMAZED by all the standards we hit. Our District just moved to Evidence Based Grading and I think she was most thrilled by all of the EVIDENCE we collected in minutes.

See the camera on the right side of the screen? This is a Teacher's Best Friend! This camera allows quick screen shots of the FB work. This work can be sent to parents, displayed, collected for Evidence (Showbie, Schoology) or saved to model for students. It also very easily retains the work to become a page in Book Creator.

I LOVE, LOVE pulling out FB with older 2nd graders and 3rd graders when we introduce/ use graphs, charts and systems. The kids are so familiar with FB that we can focus on the new concepts. Felt Board provides a strong selection of Chart and Graph Templates.

Book Creator App Store, FREE

Like Felt Board, Book Creator is one of the very first apps we teach. The best thing about this app is that the student drives the car. Think of it literally as on online book - your students fill the pages with their learning!


This book was used in Science - but this Teacher can use Stevie's title to show Evidence. Stevie clearly knows that "certain groups of letters have their own sounds". 


This student is using one of the most popular and versatile features of Book Creator - Comic Book Pages. Here BC was used for sequencing but the Comic Book pages open the interest level and application to K-5 and above.

The latest version of Book Creator can be read to the student by Siri which is a cool change, We love having the kids narrate their own work and work on presentation skills.

Image result for chatterpix logo
ChatterPix, App Store, FREE by Duck Duck Moose

Kids LOVE ChatterPix so that means I LOVE CHatterPix!! It is so much fun to pull out and I love that  kids can share learning in less than 30 minutes. Mostly I have kids collaborate and ideate before we pull out devices.

Users can take pictures, screen shots, draw, use the templates or add any images to animate. I have seen pictures of work, characters, famous people, and concepts animated.

Image result for chatterpix

Image result for unicorn thinks he's pretty great

One of my FAVORITE pieces of work ever was when a student used Chatter Pix and Unicorn from Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great to explain the impact of Bullying to his classmates. 

Please share how you use these apps and let me know which ones I am missing!! Happy Apping!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

BEST eReader/ Tablet Deals on Black Friday - IN ONE PLACE

I can NOT believe how much the prices on eReaders/ Tablets are coming down I LOVE this technology for kids. These tablets let kids access OverDrive, the web, and their favorite games at affordable prices. For the times without WiFi, OverDrive books are a perfect solution - once downloaded the Titles can be read anywhere. As a mom and human I love the simplicity of grabbing ONE device and having multiple books and magazines.

So here we go - I have scoured the Black Friday Ads and gathered the best Tablet deals. If you click on the picture you will be directed toward the store website and can see all of the Black Friday details.

If you have a kid at our school you hopefully have heard how crazy I am about nagging the kids to bring their devices - let's get them set up!!

*The selections are in NO CERTAIN ORDER OF PREFERENCE. I included products from Walmart, Target and Best Buy

This is certainly the best price I have seen advertised. The RCA Tablet is a great choice for a younger student or a student who will have limited apps loaded. The only problem I have come across when loading OverDrive is that the tablet is out of room from the other games and apps loaded.

I like these Samsung Tablets. The speed seems to be quick and I have not hit a wall downloading an App yet. This price is pretty great considering it is listed on Amazon for 117.00.

This Lenovo is a good choice for families who share Tablets among kids. There is more space on these and the price is still pretty fabulous. We can always show the kids how to access their own OverDrive Accounts or they can read together.

I personally have not seen an iPad mini lower than 199.00. If this is on someone's big gift list, here you go! I love iPads for the older students. NOTHING captures and grows learning better than an iPad. This device offers all of the tools to enhance and grow minds. An iPad is the whole package.

This little Polaroid Tablet brings a keyboard to the table for less than 100.00. This is a good feature for older students (4th, 5th grade) who are proficient typists and use Google Classroom to complete, share work. The same touch screen workability combined with the keyboard makes for a great gift. This is an 8GB so that limits the download capability - let's get OverDrive on before those other games!

Saving 50.00 on this Galaxy is a great way to stretch your Holiday budget. Again, keep an eye on the 8GB and which student is receiving this. A younger student will use this much easier than an older student or a child interested in multiple games.

The whole Kindle Family! After a hiatus, Target is offering Kindle and Amazon products again and they are offering some impressive prices. Of the three offered above I would recommend the Amazon Fire and the Kid's Edition Tablet. The PaperWhite can be a little cumbersome for a child to navigate while the other two have kids reading in moments.

Best Buy is showing up with some noticeable Door Busters. Here you see that you can pick up a 16GB Kindle Fire for 59.99 and the 8GB for 33.33. Those prices really can not be beat. Having owned a Kindle Fire and an iPad I enjoyed both but can say the Kindle does lag in which apps you can install. Fortunately for us, OverDrive works great on both!

Here is a solid offering from Best Buy, a 90.00 Samsung. If you are ok with the 8GB you can't go wrong with this choice. But keep in mind this same Tablet is offered at Walmart for 69.00.

OK, while I said these posts are in no preferred order I may have fibbed. I just may be ending with the best offer I have seen. I have not actually used an iPad Pro yet but I am VERY interested in doing so. It offers that great combination of Laptop ability with Tablet flexibility. This is another DoorBuster Deal and I don't have too much hope in scoring one but if you get a chance this is a GREAT DEAL!

Doodle4Google Contest - Open for all Students K-12!

We LOVE GOOGLE!!! We were super excited to take part in the Doodle4Google Contest. Who isn't fascinated by the daily Google Doodles? Inspiring and beautiful, the Doodles elevate search to discussion topics. 

As a STEM school we loved the theme. We applied the Design Thinking Process in 3-5 and had a two week blast! My envelope is almost ready to go as soon as the Recess Pile is empty. (The Deadline is not until December 2).

Other than seeing what students imagined, my favorite part by far was seeing the Inspirational Videos. These were works of arts in themselves. Click on the links below to front load the competition. You can access the rules, deadlines and entry forms HERE. There are activities for every grade level too, this activity is truly plug and play.




Monday, November 14, 2016

Thank You Tags - FREE Download

Our District hosts Read Aloud Day each fall. Community Volunteers share their time in classrooms reading to kids. Thankfully we have a district coordinator who does all of the heavy lifting. My only responsibilities are to have a little Thank You gift and offer book selections for those who don't have a favorite with them.

This year my Thank You gift are the cutest little 2" square boxes filled with chocolate and a tag attached. These were done in less than five minutes start to finish!

"New!" Book Tags - Free Download!

I found myself in a great situation last: So many NEW books and not enough NEW Book Tags. Again with, so so easy!! I love the Book Tags, they really get the kids' attention and drives checkouts for our new titles.