November 27, 2017

Alternatives to Screen Monitoring Software

There are many alternatives to Screen Monitoring Software which teachers can use to keep students engaged and on task. 

Good Citizenship

 Digital Citizenship is a must for all students at all grade levels. More and more teachers are integrating technology into their classrooms and with increased access comes increased responsibility. Digital Citizenship needs to be addressed before students ever start using technology and reinforced throughout the year. 

Layout is Everything

Classroom layout is a good deterrent to off-task behaviors. Sitting students where their screens can easily be seen can help minimize unstructured web browsing. There are many different layouts you can choose from based on the seating you have on hand. Tired of rows of desks? Why not explore Flexible Seating?

 *Students are less likely to risk playing games or using social media if they know that at any moment their teacher will appear behind them.

Keep Things Simple

Switching between multiple apps during a lesson can become distracting to students as some struggle to log on and others use the downtime to browse the web. Best practice would be to find a small number of apps or sites you use regularly and stick to those while gradually experimenting with new ones.

Pausing the Internet

When students are not allowed to be on their devices, having them tilt their screens to a “45 degree angle” for Chromebooks, or put their “Apples up” on the case of iPads will allow the teacher to see who is not being compliant and have the assurance no one is using their devices. 

Have a Plan B

There will always be situations where a student is not complying with the rules or lose their privilege to devices. It is always a good idea to have an alternative assignment ready in case of outages or for students who have lost the use of their devices.

Engaging lessons will have the greatest impact on keeping students on-task. If you are stumped or unsure how to integrate technology into your lessons, click here for additional resources.

Additional Resources

November 8, 2017

Skype in the Classroom


Mystery Skype is an educational game that was invented by teachers. It encourages students to practice many 21st-century skills. It is a wonderful digital tool to help students learn and solidify their understanding of collaboration, critical thinking, teamwork, cultural awareness, digital literacy, deductive reasoning, and geography. Students are able to work with other partner classrooms across the United States or beyond. They answer only yes and no questions to determine where their "partner skyper" classroom is located. Mystery Skype lessons and activities can be adapted for all subject areas and grade levels; both elementary and secondary included.

Rebecca Kerr, 3rd Grade Teacher
Eugene Field Elementary

Mrs. Kerr has been using Mystery Skype in her classroom for the last three years. She believes that it has been impactful in so many ways but has made the biggest impact with breaking down the barriers of the classroom. "Using skype has allowed my students to gain exposure to things and people outside of their immediate community. Many of my students have never left the city, let alone the state. It provides them the opportunity to see other students and communities that are similar and different to our own. They get to see kids and places that are different while also seeing all they have in common despite their geographical distances." 

One challenge she has run into is letting go and releasing her control. She said, "all teachers have some level of control and like to be in the details of what goes on in their classrooms. However, I have learned that I have to let some of that control go. Using this activity has pushed me to step into more of a coaching role allowing my students to take over and lead. It's important that they begin to take the initiative when it comes to their learning. I definitely realize that I have to be a facilitator, not a controller and let them lead each other and themselves."

Mrs. Kerr believes that it is her role and responsibility to give her students experiences that go beyond the typical classroom; experiences that will carry over into the world outside of her classroom walls. "65% of the students in my classroom today will be working in jobs that haven't been created yet. I have to prepare them for that and give them the tools they will need to be successful. They will be working in a world where there are no bosses to tell them what to do and when to do it, or how to accomplish the task. They have to become problem-solvers who are able to collaborate and think critically."

Through the use of Mystery Skype, Mrs. Kerr has seen students become more engaged and excited about collaboration and learning. She is providing students a hands-on and in-depth learning experiences that will prove to be influential and impactful well beyond the third grade. 

A Look at Mrs. Kerr's Mystery Skype Session

Helpful Links

Email Mrs. Kerr
Mrs. Kerr's Twitter Account
Video: The Magic of Mystery of Skype
Video: GoNoodle Mystery Skype Song
Blog: Mrs. Long's Classroom Skype
Blog Post: Using Mystery Skype as a Classroom Tool
Microsoft Education: Find a Mystery Skype Class
Pinterest: Mystery Skype Boards to Follow
Sample Lesson Plan with Links



October 25, 2017

Classroom Management Tools

As we integrate more mobile devices into our classrooms, one question that may arise is, how do I manage and facilitate student collaboration while encouraging  productive work time?  Classroom management at its core has not changed, however the focus has shifted  and  has begun to take on a new look.

One of the best places to start when thinking about classroom management and technology is to understand what your end goal is, as well as your instructional goal when using technology. Implementing an effective classroom management plan will maximize your student's learning experience and lessen the need for you to intervene with every issue that arises.

Below are some key elements of classroom management that may help along the journey of integrating.

Core Components of Classroom Management

Classroom Structure 

Something to take a close look at when thinking of management is knowing and understanding your teaching style and how it fits in with students' learning style. Creating a space that is conducive for all parties allows for structure when adding anything new such as mobile devices

Teaching Expectations

Explicit instruction, modeling, practice, and consistency are a crucial piece to a classroom management plan. A level of accountability can be created by allowing students to help build classroom expectations and procedures. There will be some things that are non-negotiable (i.e. Chromebook care, procedures for storage, etc.) but allowing students to have a voice and collaborate builds a climate of mutual respect.

Process of Action

Implementation requires involvement by everyone involved. It is essential to have a plan of action to redirect inappropriate behavior and a reteaching model in place for those students who continuously disrupt the learning environment. It is very meaningful to focus on those students who exhibit good behavior and celebrate the positive.


OKCPS Spotlight

Allow me to introduce to you three OKCPS Teachers who have had success with classroom management and technology integration. Having a thorough classroom management plan and follow through has allowed these teachers to provide highly engaged atmospheres for their students to construct, explore and collaborate to accomplish great things.

Mrs. Pearson-6th Grade Teacher Prairie Queen Elementary

Mrs. Pearson's classroom is structured for students to work collaboratively while also maintaining a space for individualized work. When observing her classroom, it is apparent that expectations and procedures are in place. Students are aware of her expectations and follow through with very little redirection and input from her.

During my visit to Mrs. Pearson's classroom, there was an incident with a Chromebook that had broken. Mrs. Pearson took a few seconds to gently remind her students of what to do if they see, notice, or cause damage to a piece of technology. She was seamless in her execution of her reminder and was able to quickly move on with her lesson for the day. This incident was a clear representation that when procedures and management are in place, there is little loss to instructional time.

Mrs. O'Donnell-1st Grade and Ms. Passmore-2nd GradeParmelee Elementary

Mrs. O'Donnell
Both teachers are using Class Dojo as a management and incentive tool for their classrooms. Students are very receptive and responsive to this tool and are very eager to receive "Dojo Points" for their positive behaviors.

During my visit with Mrs. O'Donnell's class, I noticed that as her students were very engaged in individual tasks, her students were receiving points. As she worked with her students at her guiding reading table she was able to quickly scan, assess the students who were making appropriate choices, give points and continue her instruction. All of her students were engaged in various guided reading activities.

Ms. Passmore
Along with using Class Dojo, Ms. Passmore has her procedures and incentives chart prominently placed at the front of her room. She has provided her students tangible goals to work towards and a reminder of why they are earning "Dojo points".It was very evident during my visit that her management and procedures were strongly in place. Her students were engaged in a collaborative atmosphere and were eager to learn.

There are many wonderful educators in OKCPS, and I have had the opportunity to  meet three of them. These teachers have classroom management in full swing and their students are highly engaged. Students are allowed to collaborate with each other and are being held accountable for their behavior in the classroom. When classroom management, expectations, and procedures are put into place, teachers have the opportunity to become facilitators of learning rather than "holders of knowledge"

September 29, 2017

Flexible Seating

Back in January, we talked about flexible learning spaces and how they can transform the learning environment in your classroom. Teachers around the district are continuing to drop traditional seating in favor of flexible seating.

Ms. Madron's Classroom at Classen SAS makes use of a variety of seating options while maintaining a table or two for students who prefer traditional workspaces. 

Students can store their supplies in the white bins that double as their seats. The use of exercise balls as seating is becoming a popular option for students who need to fidget without being disruptive. These exercise balls have a base to keep them from rolling away. Since this is a large classroom the teacher has chosen to spread the students out to fill the space.

Bean bag chairs with arms and backrests discourage students from excessive lounging and are easily shuffled out of the way for group presentations. Most teachers arrange the bean bag chairs in groups of three or four, but there are many options as your space allows. Rugs are another, often overlooked, popular option with students.

Ms. Hyatt's Classroom at Classen SAS makes use of many different seating options along with soft and natural lighting.

In addition to many seating options, there are several distinct areas where students can collaborate. The students in this classroom work in close proximity to each other and when extra space is needed, the teacher utilizes the narrow hallway leading to the room. This classroom also has a north facing window which allows in natural light. 

Along with natural light, this classroom also features soft lighting in the form of matching floor lamps. Students also have the option to sit on barstools or work standing at the tables against the back wall. Barstools often stack and can easily be pushed under their tables or to a corner when not in use.

For other Ideas:

Things to Keep in Mind:

Classroom management is a must
Teachers have the need to educate diverse students within a complex classroom context and this can be achieved by effective classroom management. Teachers must take action to create a learning environment which supports both the academic and social-emotional learning of each student.

Donor's choose is not just for IPads!
Instead of adding an IPad or two, why not invest in seating options?

Don't be afraid to stand
Standing desks are gaining popularity and are a great way for students who don't do well sitting for long periods of time.

Don't forget the lights
Flexible seating is a great way to transform your classroom, but why settle for harsh florescent lighting when you have other options. If you are lucky enough to have a window in your classroom, use it.  Don't be afraid to bring that old floor lamp from home up to your classroom.

Students will learn more when they are comfortable!

Ideas, Examples, and Resouces
Flexible Seating Student Centered Classroom-Kayla Delzer
So you want Ipads in your classroom
Flexible Spaces Flexible Learning

September 13, 2017

Maker Movement: Makerspaces

What is a makerspace?

"Makerspace" is a term used to define a space that provides hands-on, creative ways to inspire students to think outside the box. It provides the opportunity to design, test, construct, and create based on problem-solving skills. Students are able to construct ideas and practice socialization skills, while engaging thought provoking tinkering, engineering, and other 21st-century skills. No one makerpace looks like the next, but the foundation is consistent across the board.

Maker Movement

The maker movement is changing the way we look at hands-on self-driven learning. Makerspaces are beginning to make the move out of libraries, museums, garages, and informal "faires" straight into K-12 classrooms. Advocates for hands-on, student-centered learning are in support of this fresh take on classroom experiences. Many educators are discovering student-lead learning is more impactful and long-lasting than a teacher-led classroom. The shift with the maker movement presents itself as a way to breathe fresh air into the 19th-century designed classrooms.

The World Economic Forum estimates 65% of the future's workforce doesn't even exist yet. One of the greatest skills students will need for a successful future, is complex problem-solving strategies. Other skills which are in great demand or have been highly rated include, but are not limited to, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and emotional intelligence. The maker movement is having a great impact on the notion of creation and problem-solving based learning.

Where do makerspaces come in you ask? As recently as 2015, the maker movement along with makerspaces was identified as being a top development in educational technology. The NMC Horizon Report for 2015 stated, "Makerspaces are increasingly being looked at as a method to engage learners in creative, high-order problem-solving with the use of hands-on design, construction, and iteration.' There is potential to effectively prepare students with necessary 21st-century skills through the use of makerspaces.

Jackson Enterprise Elementary School Makerspace


Blogs & Websites

Sylvia Show
Caine's Arcade
Makerspace for Education Blog
Makerspace for Education Website
Renovated Learning
Renovated Learning Makerpace Resources
Curiosity Commins Makerspaces
Resources for School Makerspaces
Makerspaces Supply List
Makerspace Impact Infographic