Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tech Tuesday-Mystery Skype

I got a lot of great feedback from last week's Tech Tuesday post about Seesaw Connected Blogs, so I wanted to continue on the the theme of connecting classrooms through technology.

When I first heard of Mystery Skype a few years ago, my initial thought was that it would be great to incorporate it into geography units, especially in 2nd grade and 4th grade where U.S. geography is a focus in our standards.  But as I started to learn more about how the game works, I realized that Mystery Skype is about so much more than geography.  It encourages critical thinking, collaboration and communication which are all things we want our kids practicing in our classrooms everyday regardless of the content area.  The other great thing about playing Mystery Skype is that it really is not a huge time commitment.   Depending on a lot of variables, a typical call can last anywhere from 15-30 minutes.

How it works

  • You call another class on Skype.  You as the teacher will have arranged the time and day with the teacher from the other class, so you will know where they are located, but it is important NOT to share this information with your students. 
  • The classes take turns asking yes or no questions to try to narrow down where the other class might be.  For younger students it is vital that you spend some time discussing questions that are broad (Does your state border another country?) vs. specific (Does your state start with an A?).  Also, you will want to avoid questions that don't have a clear yes or no answer (Is it cold where you live?).
  • Your class also has to be prepared to answer questions from the other class.  It would be good to review some basic information about your state prior to expecting kids to answer questions. For example, here in Minnesota we have a tough time answering the question, "Is your state west (or east) or the Mississippi River?" Since the Mississippi River starts in our state this is tricky.  In all the classes I've been in, we've said that we are west of the Mississippi since it runs along our eastern border.   
  • After both classes have guessed where the other class is, it is nice if you can schedule a little time for sharing facts about your own state or community.  This can be as simple as the name of your school/town, how many students are in your school, your mascot, what your hot lunch is for today, the temperature outside, etc. You can also have your class do some research ahead of time and share facts about your state such as state bird, flower, animal etc., the highest and lowest recorded temperatures, or some unique facts about your area.


Figuring out how to structure your class during a call can be a bit overwhelming.  While working with some 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade teachers over the past year, we have come up with this plan:

It certainly isn't perfect, and every class is different so you may need to change up some of the roles to make it work for your students.

It is also important to provide your students with a variety of maps.  For older students you could give them some links to online maps, and/or show them how to navigate Google Maps, but we found that for younger students having paper maps works well.  Students can also use this website to "cross off" states they have eliminated.  Here is a folder with some maps and other resources we have used.


Mystery Skype is not limited to just figuring out the state the other class is from.  Students can also try to guess the exact city or school the other class is located.  This is much more time consuming and is probably best to do after you have some practice playing Mystery Skype.  Another option is to play Mystery Number.  In this game each class selects a number and tries to guess the number of the other class.  This is a great game for developing number sense. If you are short on time, or can't find anyone to connect with, but still want to play a game, you can play the 5 Clue Challenge. These are pre-recorded videos where the person gives hints as to where they are.  Students have to guess where in the world the person is in just 5 clues.

Mystery Skype is a fun engaging game that you and your students will love!  If you would like some help getting started or want to talk with a colleague who has done it before, please reach out!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Tech Tuesday-Seesaw Blogs

I am starting my third year in my position as a tech integration coach, and I love my job!  I get to work with all of our amazing K-5 teachers, and be a part of the awesome experiences they create for their student and families using technology.  However, there are times when I miss having my own group of kids to work with.  Watching our teachers and students participate in the Global Read Aloud this year has made me a little jealous of our classroom teachers!  There are so many great ways that we can connect our students to others using technology, but the one that has stuck out to me lately is Seesaw Connected Blogs.
Image result for seesaw connected blogs

Seesaw all by itself is kind of life changing.  If you are not using it in your classroom already, I highly recommend it!  It is the easiest way for students to share their work with an authentic audience (their classmates and families).  Not to mention you as the teacher can see and hear student thinking in ways that are impossible using a traditional paper journal. 

The blog feature in Seesaw takes this authentic audience to a whole new level.  From your teacher account you can connect your blog with other classroom blogs in your school or around the world.  Students can post their work to the blog, and get feedback from peers in their own class or other classes.  They can also see other students' work and make comments.  This whole process might seem trivial, but think of the message we are sending to our students when we do this:

1. Your thoughts are important and others want to hear what you have to say.  This can be so empowering for all learners, but especially those who may lack confidence in their ability.
2. Other people in other places share your thinking, or they have have a different perspective/option.  The can be a great teachable moment about culture and about how we all have similarities and differences, and that's what makes this world great. 
3. When posting online, it is important to think about your digital footprint.  This can be tricky to teach unless we give students a place to practice being safe and respectful online.  Check out this AWESOME presentation on teaching kids how to comment from @Mrssmithop220.

The best part of this is that it is EASY, safe and appropriate for our young students. Everything that goes to the blog is moderated, so all the work and comments come to you for approval.  If you are looking for a classroom to connect with, check out this shared document where teachers add their blog information.  You can also add yours so that others can find your class and connect with you!

It can be scary when you start to open up your classroom to the outside world, you want to keep your kids safe online, and you want to make sure that the tool you choose doesn't require hours and hours of maintenance on your part.   In my option, Seesaw Blogs are the best way to create connections outside of your classroom.  If you are looking for a tool for the Global Read Aloud or just looking to connect with other classes somewhere else in the world, you should definitely give Seesaw Blogs a try!

Check out the two videos below to get started, and as always feel free to comments below or contact me with questions.  

Getting Started With Seesaw Blogs

How to Connect to Other Blogs

Please note: this video is a little outdated.  The interface looks a little different, but all the features are still the same. 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Tech Tuesday-Padlet

Many of us are gearing up for the Global Read Aloud and through this process, several teachers have approached me about Padlet.

There are two things that I LOVE about Padlet.  The first is the versatility!  It is basically an online cork board where you can add notes, videos, images, or links. 

The other thing I love is that students DO NOT need a login to add something to your Padlet. So it is a quick and efficient way to get students to collaborate or show what they know.  Also, it's easy to share your Padlets with students via Seesaw or Google Classroom.  The possibilities are endless!

Check out how other teachers are using Padlet:

Community KWL Chart

credit: http://iheartedtech.blogspot.com/2013/12/padlet-in-classroom.html

Vocabulary/Word Work

credit: https://5j2014msconneally.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/padlet-web-2-0-tool-for-the-classroom/


credit: https://innovateigniteinspire.com/tag/padlet/

Responding to reading

credit: https://teachbytes.com/2015/01/10/10-ways-to-use-padlet-in-your-classroom-tomorrow/

How could you use Padlet with your students?

Monday, October 2, 2017

Digital Citizenship

Every spring teachers and students fill out the BrightBytes survey.  In the fall our Technology Department looks at the results.  We use this data for planning purposes and goal setting. For the last few years, the items about digital citizenship have been a low point in our data, so one of my personal goals has been to provide teachers with resources to explicitly teach their students what it means to be a responsible digital citizen.  While there are many great resources out there the one that sticks out to me is Common Sense Media's Digital Citizenship Curriculum.  I like that it is well organized and has a scope and sequence across grade levels.

I decided to take this curriculum and tweak it for our teachers.  Knowing that teaching a 45-60 minute lesson on something that is not a standard would be a difficult task, I tried to scale the lessons back to about 20 minutes making it easier to fit into the already busy day.  I also tried to align the lessons in each grade level to our Character Counts pillar of the month.   In some cases this worked, but not every lesson fits every month's pillar well.

The goal is to teach one lesson per month, so that by the end of the year students will have gone through at least 5 specific lessons on digital citizenship.  More importantly my hope is that the conversations about what it means to be a digital citizen will become a natural part of our school community.

The document below outlines each grade level's lesson for each month, and includes links to the lessons.

I'd love to know how you teach your classes about digital citizenship.  And if you aren't teaching this topic what barriers are the way? 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Tech Tuesday-Flip Grid

Have you heard of this?!?! Flip Grid is a highly versatile tool that all teachers will want in their arsenal of tech tools.

We all have all kinds of students in our classrooms; the quiet kids who have wonderful ideas, but never want to speak in front of their peers, the kids with great insights who struggle to write their ideas on paper, or the kids who have no problem sharing, but can get off topic.  With Flip Grid you can give the quiet students a voice, give the struggling writer a way to express himself/herself, and give kids a limited amount of time to get their ideas out (with unlimited chances to re-record).

Flip Grid allows you to set up a "grid" (think class) where you can post "topics" for your students.  Students respond to your post, which can be written, video you record, video you upload, images, or anything in your Google Drive.  You get to control the privacy settings (password protection) and choose if students can post automatically or if you need to approve their responses first.

Check out this video tutorial from Stacey Roshan (@buddyxo) on how to set up your teacher account and start your first topic.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Seesaw Updates September 2017

Seesaw made some changes over the summer, and now that we have Seesaw for Schools there are some other things that are slightly different.  The screencast below will walk you through the new features and what you need to know to start the year.


If you want to create folders here are the colors that we have used for the last few years:
Math- Lime Green

Music-Light Blue

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Tech Tuesday

I've decided to start a new little project here on Nett on the Net called Tech Tuesdays.  In my position as an instructional coach, I often struggle with how to provide my colleagues with new information in a way that is not overwhelming.  My goal is to write a new post each Tuesday that will provide a tip, trick, or tool to enhance your teaching or make your life as an educator a little easier.

Check back next week for the first installment of Tech Tuesday!