Thursday Coding and Robotics Elective – Five Months Later

Apparently I forgot to post this months ago, oops.

Three months ago my school instituted a Thursday afternoon elective program for our 4-6th grade students. You can read about the process of getting it started here. We are now coming to the end of the school year and I want to document some stats and make some notes for myself.

Coding and Robotics Elective

Cycle One Stats:

  • 6 weeks.
  • 20 students, 4 girls, 16 boys.
  • 5 robots, 1 Ozobot, 4 Dash robots.

Cycle Two Stats:

#Hyperdocs Bootcamp – My FIRST Hyperdoc

Well, I finally did it. I completed writing my first Hyperdoc. I have wanted to for over a year since I first learned about them at the Sonoma GAFE Summit in April 2016. I had planned to write one before but never managed to get anywhere with it. Last month, in June, I jumped at the opportunity to take the Hyperdoc Bootcamp put on by the Hyperdocs Ladies (Lisa, Sarah, and Kelly).

Our final project was to write a new hyperdoc to use this year. After scrapping a few ideas I settled on one that I think worked out well. I designed a hyperdoc to both serve as a beginning of the year get to know you activity as well as to teach my students about Google Slides and Google Docs. I set the level of skill needed very low because my students last year had zero experience creating with computers. This is probably a good fit for 5th grade and above.

The base of the hyperdoc is built into a Google Site. The Engage and Explore phases are done on the site and can be used for reference. The Explain, Apply Share are done in individual documents. After the students Explore they click a link to make their own copy of a slide deck or a doc. The first thing they do is rename and share the document to the teacher. I set up the instructions to allow the hyperdoc to be used with or without Google Classroom (but honestly much easier with).

As a part of the Explore phase I created a Slides and a Docs cheatsheet to teach about the icon bar. They are available here: Slides Cheatsheet | Docs Cheatsheet
Feel free to share them separately from the hyperdoc.

Please find the Welcome to G Suite hyperdoc at:

bit.ly/WelcomeToGSuite

Please use it with your students and I would love your feedback. There is a feedback form on the teacher instructions page of the website.

My Personal Reading List 2017

This week I have given a whole bunch of book suggestions on Twitter. This got me thinking about what books I have read this year and I decided to keep track. I have not keep a list of what I have read before and I think it might be fun, so here it goes. This may end up being great or terrible, I don’t know. I should note that I am a self-professed book addict. My personal library has more than 1,700 books in it. My classroom library clocks in at 807 books right now (most are mine). Beware, I have a soft spot for young adult fiction. I read it A LOT. Also it helps me make recommendations to my 6th graders.

As a side note, I believe strongly that in order to be a well-rounded person you have to read stories written about and by people who don’t look like you as well as those who do. I am a straight, white male it is easy to find books written by people who look like me with characters who also look like me. I do my best to select books for myself (and my students) that feature women and characters of color and that are written by women and authors of color (this of course includes women authors of color). I do this to give myself a wider perspective and to give my students the opportunity to have characters that look like them in their reading. I am a big supporter of the We Need Diverse Books (@diversebooks) campaign and really like their recommendations and resources. Seriously though, check out this list of books.

Tag after author’s name:
AOC – Author of Color

Tag after book title:
FP – Female Protagonist
POC – Protagonist of Color

Current Count: 40 books completed

List last updated: 8/14/2017

In Progress:

On Deck:

Read More »

Hyperdocs: Managing Multiple Classes with Different Collaborative Documents

The Background:

Today I finally got caught up on over a month’s worth of Voxes in the #ConnectedTL Voxer group. One conversation during that time was about how to manage Hyperdoc game boards that have collaborative elements when using it with multiple classes or periods.

The Problem:

The issue that was put forward was how to manage having multiple classes get the same game board with each student getting their own copy while still having linked collaborative documents that are unique for each group of students.

The Solution:

The solution that I came up with is to have an intermediary document that serves as a launch pad for those different collaborative documents. The solution I found also restricts access to those documents to the group of students that I want to have it.

Visually:    Each individual student’s game board -> Launch document -> All different collaborative documents with access restrictions enabled.

Because describing this is words is difficult to make clear, please watch my screencast of how to make this work.

I would love any feedback about the process and how to make it clearer!

Happy Hyperdocing!

Encouraging Growth Mindset in Teachers: Steele Lane License and Curiosity Cards

This year I transferred to a new school site, Steele Lane Elementary. My new principal, Mr. Noble, introduced a couple of new ideas this year to encourage a growth mindset among the staff, the Steele Lane License and Curiosity Cards.

Steele Lane License

At our first staff meeting of the year Mr. Noble introduced something that I think is a wonderful idea to inspire teachers to maintain their own growth mindset. He gave each of us a “Steele Lane License”.img_4538-2

The license gives us permission to try new things, explore, take risks, and fail knowing that we will be supported by our principal regardless of the outcome. Now, six months later you can still find the license posted behind most teachers’ desks. We were also encouraged to give our students the same license in our classrooms.

On days when lessons just aren’t working and I decide to try something else mid-lesson or I try something new and it totally fails. I find that having that outspoken support helps me to be willing to try it again, do it differently, and keep growing as an educator.

Curiosity Cards

One thing that many elementary schools lack is easy opportunities to observe other teachers teach. In middle and high school teachers have their prep period and while that isn’t necessarily the ideal time to observe it is at least available every day. As an elementary teacher you are lucky if you get prep time twice a week, not every school has that. It makes it really hard to go and observe other teachers teaching. This year my principal decided to help change that.img_4537-2-copy

Two months into the year he introduced Curiosity Cards. At one of the staff meetings everyone got handed a “Curiosity Card”. The idea behind the card is that you fill out the card with what or who you want to observe be it a specific person “my grade level partner” or topic “4th grade writers workshop”. Then Mr. Noble will arrange with the other teacher to schedule your visit then he will cover your class so that you can go observe.  When he comes to cover your class he will either have your students continue what you normally have them do at that time or will bring an activity to do with the students. Either way no lesson plans are required in order to leave your students to go observe.

So far a bunch of teachers have taken him up on the opportunity and all of the feedback that I have heard has been positive. I have to say that I really like that we are being supported as professionals and as life long learners. As a newer teacher, knowing that multi-decade veteran teachers are taking this opportunity to go observe others and grow really encourages me to do the same.