Thursday, April 17, 2014

QR Code Easter Egg Hunt

As a Catholic School Teacher I am able to incorporate in our Catholic holidays within the curriculum and Easter is no exception.  One of my favorite activities that I do with my kids is our QR Code Easter Egg Hunt.  However, if you aren't able to celebrate "Easter" this could easily be adapted without using that word. :-)

Making the QR Codes with riddles and the final prizes.
I begin the day by grouping my students into groups of four.  After that, they are given a puzzle or activity of some sort that they need to solve.  Once they have figured out the answer, they bring it up for me to check.  If the answer is correct, I give them a QR Code that I created.  When they scan the QR Code, they are given a riddle of sorts which will lead them to another teacher's room.  When they get to that room, one student goes in and tells the teacher what the password is that they were given on the riddle.  If the password matches what I told that particular teacher, they are given their groups colored egg (each group is assigned a color so they only get their eggs). If it doesn't the teacher tells them they have the wrong teacher.  Within the plastic egg are letters which they will use for the final puzzle.  After getting their egg, the group comes back to me for the next puzzle.  Once they solve that, they get another QR Code from me with a riddle and it continues through six puzzles or activities.  They collect six eggs total (some contain more than one letter).  The final puzzle requires them to unscramble the letters they got in the eggs, which spell out the final location of the prize - PRINCIPAL. :-)

The students truly enjoy this activity and it's pretty simple to set up.
Here is what you will need:
My clues - each leads to a different teacher
and the final to the Principal

  • 6 plastic colored eggs in 4-5 different colors (depending on how many groups you want. I usually do groups of 4 or 5 kids)
  • Letters to put in the eggs which will spell out the final location of the prize when unscrambled. 
  • 7 different riddles - the last one should lead them to the prize.
  • 7 QR Codes (I color code mine) that when scanned give the students the riddle
  • 7 different puzzles or worksheets that need to be completed accurately
  • Prizes for the winners (I do class cash, free homework pass, and fun pencils. Depending on the place the group comes in, it gets less and less for each one)  
  • I do 4-5 new QR Codes that when scanned tell the group what their prize is.  So one code is for 1st place, 2nd place, 3rd place and so on. 

QR Codes for the riddles
My favorite activities are usually freebies from Teachers Pay Teachers.  However, rule of thumb - if you grab a freebie from TpT, be kind and leave some feedback. :-)  My all time puzzles that I do are the Hink Pinks and Hinky Pinkys.  I particularly loved these ones:

I used them for three of my puzzles and the students would solve four at a time.  They are challenging but fun!  For the other activities I would usually do an unscramble of sorts, a brain puzzle, and a math worksheet.

Leave me a comment if you give this a try. I would love to hear how you adapted it for your classroom.


Monday, April 14, 2014

FREEBIE Floor Plan Fun Activity

Today I did a great little activity that I created for my kids for our review

math stations.  It was designed to have students practice finding area and perimeter in a simple format. And the best part about this?  I made it FREE for you to grab for your class too!

In a nutshell, the idea is for students to create seven rooms for their house floor plan.  Each room has a specific color attached to it, which is there to let students know what color they should draw the room on the graph paper.  In order to determine the dimensions of each room, the students draw chips.  I got these chips from an old board game, Rummikub, which I didn't have all the pieces for, but in typical teacher fashion I couldn't bear to throw it out in case I needed them for something.  Well thank goodness for my teacher hoarding intuition. I now found a reason to use them.  However, if you don't have a set of these chips you can easily use those fancy dice that have numbers that range higher than 6 or even a set of playing cards and you pull out two sets of numbers 2-10.  Worse case scenario, you can print out the set of cards I provide in here. I just like to save paper where I can. :-)

The students choose two of the numbers randomly and put them down for the dimensions of that particular room.  After doing that, they find the perimeter and area of the room as well.  (Sometimes that room dimensions don't necessarily make sense, for example a kitchen that is 2x2 ft but this provides a great extension activity for students to identify and discuss which ones are and aren't realistic.

After that, they draw the floor plan using the dimensions they had picked for each room on the graph paper.  Inside the rooms, they write the dimensions as well.  I tell students I want them to logically think about the layout of the house and try to create it as realistically as possible.

This activity is quick but a great review for area and perimeter.  It took about 25 minutes for them to complete from start to finish.

Head on over to my TpT store and pick up your copy.  Please don't forget to leave me some feedback love. :-) I hope you enjoy it!


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Going Paperless in the Classroom

Now that my class and I have 1:1 iPads, I have slowly begun the process of going paperless in my classroom.  This has been a slow process for me, as it is a major change from what we (students, parents, and I) know as "normal".  However, the more I have played around with Google Drive, the more I am finding just how easy it is.

For years, I have used Google Docs and Forms in my classroom. But for this week's part of Google Bootcamp for Teachers, I have decided to focus my efforts on the many ways you can use the Docs and Spreadsheets portion of Google in the classroom.  But be sure to check out all the posts that relate to Google Drive below.  I know that Jen, from Tech with Jen, did a fabulous post on creating quizzes using Google Forms so be sure to look at that!  She geared it towards primary teachers but trust me, you can easily adapt it to the older grades too.

Let's cover the basics on what Google Docs and Spreadsheets does allow you to do:

  • You can create Microsoft Word like documents (complete with images, tables, etc).
  • You can share these documents with other teachers, students, parents, etc.
  • You can choose to allow others to just view the documents, edit them, or allow them to comment on them.  
  • You can share these documents without email address but with a URL.
There is a lot of different things you can do but those are the basics of it.  :-)  

I'm huge in creating rubrics right now and one of my favorite ways of doing it is through spreadsheets.  I input all the information I want into the form and then in the last few columns I create a way for the student to self-assess themselves (I'm starting to do this on all my newer rubrics and slowly switching over my older ones to include it) and another column for me to assess them.  Depending on how I weighted the specific component, I may have another column with a formula to calculate it all.  Below is an example of the science fair rubric. 

You can see how whatever I input in the orange column is then multiplied by the weight I've decided on and computed into the blue column.  It is then calculated into a total score and percentage at the bottom.

The students like when I do the rubrics on Spreadsheets and share them with them so they always have a record of how they scored (parents like it too). And I like it since it is calculated up for me, saving me that step.

Now with Google Docs, I have used them in a variety of ways, but one of my favorites is with my students writing.  My students will complete a writing assignment and share the document with me, giving me the ability to either edit.  By doing this, I am able to read over their work, highlight certain parts of it and add a comment on the side as your can see below.

Doing this is quite simple.  I made a quick video tutorial to show you exactly how to do it.  :-)  

Hopefully you found some ways to add Google Spreadsheet and Docs within your classroom.  


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Gmail Labels

Hello everyone!  I'm excited about a couple new things going on here at Teaching: The Art of Possibility.  The first one, as you may have already noticed is my new blog design.  Kassie, over at Designs By Kassie did it for me.  She is fabulous and I'm loving it!

The second thing is the new Teacher Training Bootcamp that I am particpating in with some fellow teachers out there.  Many of us are working on becoming Google Certified and I'm happy to say I passed the first of five tests.....this first one was on Gmail.  And while I have been using Gmail for quite some time, I'll admit there were quite a few things I didn't either take advantage of or even know about.  So stick around and read about just one of the fabulous features that Gmail has to offer.

Now if you have been using Gmail for awhile like I have, you have probably seen the many changes it has been undergoing.  One of my favorites which really helps me get more organized is the Labels feature.  Since I wear multiple hats at my school, I receive emails that fall under a variety of topics.  The labels feature allows me to mark my emails so that I can find them easily later on.  The best part about it, is you can add multiple labels to one email.  
For example, since I'm in charge of all things technology related at my school, I order a lot of things for the teachers at our school.  I use labels to help me keep those organized.  I have the labels for
technology and under that I have additional labels for the different sub-categories that they related to.  Including "teacher iPads", "student iPads", "equipment", etc.   The labels allow me to find what I'm looking for quickly.  And as you can tell from my picture, creating labels and adding nesting titles is super EASY!

Now I was going to create a video tutorial to show you all how to do this, but when I came across this one below, I figured why recreate the wheel?  As a fellow teacher, I'm sure you can all appreciate that mindset.  So without further adio, check out this video and start labeling your emails to increase your productivity!

What are some ways you are going to use the labels feature in Gmail to better assist you at work?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Techie Tuesday: Dropbox

Some of you have sent me messages inquiring on how I use certain apps in my classroom with the 1:1 iPad setting.  So today, I want to talk about how I use Dropbox with my kiddos.

In case you didn't know, Dropbox is basically a virtual cloud in which you can upload all sorts of things ranging from documents to pictures and more.  You can share these files with other people, or access them from any device that connects to the internet.  Dropbox is available on the computer at or in app form on the iPhone, iPod, iPad and Android products (and more). 

It's safe, it's secure, and best of all it is FREE if you are using their basic subscription. 
Logging into account on iPad
You are given 2 GB with the free plan. This has always been more than enough for my class.  For my classroom setting, I wanted to use Dropbox as another way for students to share their work with me.  In turn, I use it as a place to upload audio files, pictures (commonly pictures of the math notes that I gave for that day), and other files that I want them to access.  I could of course share these things with them through email and Google Drive but I often find that Dropbox is a quick and efficient way for me to do it.  I regularly clean out our Dropbox with files that we no longer need with the exception of our math notes which remain in there all year. 

Cancel this - prevents photos being uploaded.
The first thing I did was create a generic Dropbox account.  (I also have one that is just for my use as a teacher but used a different email.) Since I have access to create email accounts at our school, I was able to create a email but you could do it using any regular email provider (gmail, hotmail, yahoo) or even use your school email.  I used that email with a generic password when creating our Dropbox account.  After I created the account I then provided the login and password to my students.  Using their iPads, they logged into the account.  I made them all cancel the automatic photo upload so any picture they took on their iPad wouldn't be automatically synced to our Dropbox. 

Easy to upload, create, and select & delete files.
The method is perfect for what I'm using it for.  It gives all of us a central location for things we need in class.  If a student has something on their iPad that doesn't need to be shared with me or the class, they simply use their Google Drive for that instead. 

It's easy to upload things directly from your computer or device.  You can even create folders within your Dropbox to keep things neat and organized. Once you have put files in, you can click on them and choose from a variety of options such as emailing, messaging, etc.  Or you can open the document in another app that you choose from a list. 

If you haven't already used Dropbox I highly recommend you check it out.  Even if you don't have a 1:1 program in place, it can be useful in the classroom and for a teacher!  So check it out today.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Techie Tuesday: DocScan App

Hello Friends!  I'm back to share with you another cool app that you may or may not have heard about. And if you haven't, then trust me when I say, you want to know about it. I learned about it from fellow blogger, Catherine, over at The Brown-Bag Teacher.  If you haven't checked out her blog, I encourage you to do so. 
DocScan is an app which allows you to snap pictures and turn them into PDFs.  The basic app is free but if you want to have more features available to you, it costs only $1.99 to upgrade on your phone or $3.99 on your iPad. Within a matter of minutes of having it, I decided to upgrade so I could export my PDF to different locations.

If you are like me and you have a 1:1 device school this app is AWESOME to allow you to quickly take a picture and send it as a PDF to your student.  It even allows you to decide if you want the PDF to be in color or black and white. You can adjust the brightness of the picture as well. 

What the folder looks like.
Here is an example of how I used it the first time. I took a picture of our Science Lab pages since I typically have to make hard copies for each student.  I created a folder that held both photos of the lab page front and back side.  After I adjusted the cropping (they even let you fix curled pages!), I uploaded my folder to Dropbox.  Since I had put the photos into the same folder, it automatically made it a two page PDF.  After I had the PDF in our class Dropbox, my students were easily able to grab it and open it in Notability (another AMAZING app!).  In Notability they are able to write on the PDF like they would with a pen and paper. After they completed the lab, they uploaded their final assignment onto our class Edmodo page for me to look over and grade.  Easy - easy - easy!!!

I love it because it's easy, saves paper, and allows me to quickly provide my students with what I need them to have WHEN I need them to have it. No more running to the copier room last minute for me!
What the PDF looks like.

My students love it because they get to use their iPad and do what we call App Smash - using multiple apps to complete a project. 

I highly encourage you to check this app out ASAP - and trust me. It's worth the $1.99 or $3.99 (depending on your device) to upgrade. :-)

What apps do you use for PDFs?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year Resolutions and a Freebie

Happy 2014!!  I simply cannot believe another year has passed.  I'm looking forward to all that this upcoming year has to offer and have already begun making plans. 

I'm a firm believer in making goals (ones that I really PLAN on keeping).  So I decided to link up with Jessica from First Grade Nest.  So let's get started!

In addition to those up above here are some more. :-)

I have been wanting to update my blog look for a long time.  So this is the year that I am taking the plunge and have begun working with someone to give my blog a whole new look. I'm excited to see what comes out of it all and look forward to sharing it with you guys!

Start to create at least one freebie each month to share with everyone.  I often create stuff for my it's just a matter of taking it to the next step and providing it online. :-)

In addition to the ones I listed up top, my other personal goal is to spend more quality time with my two daughters. My oldest is turning three this year and I'm in complete shock over it! Time just goes by so very fast so I really need to slow down and enjoy them now.   We have even planned our first Disneyland trip for the end of January with the girls. 

Doing laundry!!!  Haha - okay that one isn't happening. I would like to give up spending too much time getting ready. So tomorrow I am going to CHOP my hair off to make it an easier do. I'm pretty excited about it!

I would REALLY like to have one of my products featured in the TpT newsletter. So I'm going to concentrate on continuing to create great products and working on making that happen.
And those my friends are the goals I am working on this year.  As I mentioned above, one of my goals was to provide some more freebies to all of you.  Every year, I have my students review the prior year and concentrate on a few goals they have for the new year.  Here is a little New Year Pennant Banner I created.  You have a selection of different colors to choose from.  I hope you and your students enjoy this project!!  If you do, please don't forget to leave some feedback on TpT. :-)

And finally, I'm always looking to find new blogs to read and follow.  If you are like me, you know we learn best from each other.  So I'm linking up with Jennifer from Simply Kinder.  Head on over there to find some new great blogs. 


Happy New Year!  And be sure to back soon to see my new blog image. :-)

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