Using Plickers in the Elementary Classroom

7 May

plickersPlickers is a fun, easy and free app which quickly assesses student knowledge. Best of all… only one smart device is required! At teachers assign each student a number and print a set of Plickers cards. Each student is given a Plicker card with his or her assigned number. The black image on the card is different for each student. If you look closely at the Plicker card on the left, you will see it is card #3. On each side of the card you see letters A-D. The letters are small, so the students cannot tell what other students are answering. For younger students you can print the cards in a larger font and write large letters A-D on the back of the card. When students  are asked a question, they hold up the card with the answer on the top. Using the Plickers app on a smart device the teacher scans all the cards. The app shows the teacher all the names and answers. Very simple for the teacher, and the kids love it! Here are some ways to use Plickers in the elementary classroom:

  1. Exit Ticket: At the end of the school day  have students answer questions about what they learned during the day. What a simple and quick daily assessment!
  2. Vocabulary Quiz: Multiple choice quizzes where the students choose the definition of a word are a perfect way to pre-assess and post-assess vocabulary knowledge.
  3. Information Text Reading: Before reading informational text give the students multiple choice questions about the topic. Scan their answers, but don’t tell them the answers. Have students search for the correct answers during the reading. This is a very effective way to get students excited and engaged in informational text.
  4. Opinions: Conduct a quick poll about student opinions on certain topics. The graph created by the app can be printed and shared.
  5. Parent Survey:  Survey the parents on different topics during a parent night with some multiple choice questions. Examples: What subject does your child like the best? When is the best day for you to come to conferences? How often does your child read at home?
  6. Quick Quizzes: Quizzes can be given spontaneously through out the day. You can plan the questions ahead of time on the app or website, or you can just ask questions on the fly. The possibilities are endless!

“Something From Nothing” Magic Book

9 Apr

Many kind and concerned teachers have contacted me to see if all is well, since I haven’t had a blog post for a whole year! Well…here is my story, and luckily it is a happy one. I went to Shanghai, China a year ago to work with a private school district. I have two great sons, a lovely Chinese daughter-in-law, and an adorable granddaughter in Shanghai. (Side note: She now has a little brother…2 weeks old!) Needless to say, I had a wonderful time working and playing in China for three weeks. When I returned home, the Chinese school district asked me to continue writing literature based curriculum for them. I’ve spent many hours for many months finding and creating activities based on quality children’s literature. I decided it’s time to get back to my blog and share some of the ideas.

Click here to learn how to make this project for one of my favorite books, Something From Nothing by Phoebe Gilman.

s from n 1



Lessons for Equal Group Word Problems

1 Mar

equal groupsI find that the bar model is an effective tool to help students better understand equal groups and figure out if they need to multiply or divide in an equal group word problem. If they need to know the whole, they place a question mark in the answer box and multiply. If they need to know the part, they put a ? in the bar and divide.  Click here for  some multiplication, division and mixed lessons and practice pages using bar models to help students understand and solve equal group word problems.

Across-the-Curriculum Math Days

1 Feb

measuring MadnessMath Days are enriching and motivating for students. I like to have an across-the-curriculum math day about once a month on a Friday. Fridays just need to be a little different! Allowing students to be immersed in math skills across the curriculum helps them better understand math as they see it used in such a wide variety of ways. You can take photos of the students engaged in the different activities. The following week have the students write about what was going on in the photos. We put these pages into a class book which we keep at the math center. Needless to say these books get read and reread often.

Click here for some examples of math day activities and a blank planning form.

Lessons for Elapsed Time Word Problems

4 Jan

Understanding and solving elapsed time welapsed time imageord problems can be tricky for students. There are three types of elapsed time word problems: elapsed time unknown, start time unknown and end time unknown. Students must first be able to decide which type of elapsed problem they are solving, so I created lessons and practice problems for each of the three types of elapsed time word problems. These lessons have very effectively increased student understanding and success in solving elapsed time word problems. Click here to download the elapsed time word problem lessons and practice pages.

Addition and Subtraction Word Problem Frames

7 Nov

add subThere are so many different types of addition and subtraction word problems and many ways to solve them. I have found these word problem frames effectively provide students with structure and success when solving addition and subtraction word problems. Each frame has a different tool students can use to solve the word problem. Click here to download the addition and subtraction word problem frames.

Seven Best iPad Apps for Teachers and Students

7 Sep

ipad cover 3d

ipad centeresDuring the past year I have taught many iPad conference sessions, seminars and workshops. I am often asked about my favorite iPad apps for teachers and students. My seven favorite iPad apps were chosen for quality and versatility. These top notch iPad apps can be used at any grade level and for any subject. They greatly enhance learning and motivation. So…..drum roll… are my top seven favorite iPad apps for teachers and students:

1. Keynote – This is the Apple app for presentations. It is so easy to use on the iPad. Teachers can create or find ( a vast variety of classroom presentations with animations, photos, videos, links, etc. Powerpoint presentations will download into Keynote. Students can also use Keynote for a variety of class projects. I love how presentations are automatically saved in the Cloud, so they don’t use up too much iPad storage.

2. Aurasma – This is a super augmented reality app! It combines the real world with the digital world. You really have to see how it works to understand. You can tag any paper image with a video on your iPad. When you view the paper image through the Aurasma app, the video will play on top of the image….very Harry Potter like! It is so amazing and can be used with a variety of different projects.

3. Tellagami – This is a favorite video creation app. You choose and dress an avatar, then choose a background image. You record your voice and the app creates a video of the avatar moving and talking with your voice. The video can be saved in the camera roll. Great for giving directions and all kinds of reports.

4. Book Creator – There are many book making apps available, but this is by far my favorite. You can easily add text, videos, handwriting, photos and arrange them on each book page. The whole book can then be saved as a PDF file, to email or to print. The best feature is being able to save the book in iBooks to share with other readers.

5. QR reader – Okay, I admit that I am QR crazy! There is SO much you can do with QR codes such as scavenger hunt games, checking answers, sending students to the appropriate websites, listening to voice recordings and more! See my post about QR code voice recordings.

6. Explain Everything – There are many whiteboard apps that are free, and they are very useful. Explain Everything is not free, but it is my favorite whiteboard app, because you can create a whiteboard presentation with video, photos, drawings, etc and then save it to the camera roll. The other whiteboard apps save within the app and not to the camera roll. Once it is saved in camera roll, you can use it in Keynote, Book Creator, Aurasma or make a Qr code for it.

7. iMovie – This is the easiest movie editor ever! Right on the ipad you can edit camera roll videos, Tellagami or Explain Everything videos and even group several of them together and make one movie. This makes a great presentation for parent night.

So there you have my list of the seven best iPad apps for teachers and students. I realize that other teachers and presenters might have a different list of favorite apps. There are so many great apps available!


Back To School Activities

3 Aug

QR talking bookWow! It’s that time of year again to go back to our classrooms! Here is a fun way to have students introduce themselves in a talking book. Students can add a written paragraph to the talking page or add a QR code with their voice recording. Click here for instructions on how to make this project as well as many more back to school ideas.


July Classroom Activities

28 Jun

America qr codes-1An exciting and valuable activity is to give students a page of QR codes on a particular topic. Students scan the codes to view videos of stories, songs and information about the topic. At the website you can copy and paste the URL of a YouTube video, and you are given a safe URL. Create a QR code with the safe URL, and the students will only see the video …not all the comments and other stuff on YouTube…Love that!  Go to my July Activities page which has this USA QR code page as well as more July activities.

Click here to check out some QR code Learning Stations for grades K-4.

Summer Classroom Activities

1 Jun

beach gameboard smallSummer is my absolute favorite time of year! I love the warm weather, flower gardens, green grass, lazy days and of course a summer vacation! Here is a board game with cards on which you can add your own questions, sight words, problems, etc. Perfect for summertime skill practice!  Click here for the directions as well as more summer classroom activities.


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