Making Review Games

As the year ends it can be challenging to find ways to review material with students, while still proving opportunities to engage in the creative process.  The students in the pictures below are reviewing concepts learned throughout the year by creating review games.  Students could choose which type of game they wanted to create.  The game could resemble a popular game or one completely created from the student’s imagination.  Students created board games, card games, and video games using Scratch.  One student pair even created their own version of Twister using the planets as the color splotches on the mat!  Another pair created a game using Scratch to review sound waves.  In this particular game as a player makes noises near the computer a sound wave appears on the screen.  Also, various sprites will react to the volume of the sounds in that they will change certain colors, spin fast or slow, and grow or shrink.  The final step of the game allows the player to label the parts of the sound wave they created.


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Animating Science with Scratch

One hallmark of true understanding is when students understand material well enough to reteach that information to others.  5th grade students have been doing just that by creating animations to teach science concepts to other students.  Students have created animations to share information about the scientific method, simple machines, electricity, meteorological instruments, astronomers, and ecosystems.  The students plan to share their creations with other students throughout the school as they learn about these scientific subjects.



Using Scratch to Create Learning Opportunities for Others

Students in Ms. Cosby’s class were given the task to create review materials using the Scratch program.   They learned how to use Scratch by self selecting video tutorials to learn new skills they could apply to their products.  Some students even taught skills based on request to the class using self-developed mini-lessons.  Students choose to create interactive games, a few created animations that included question and answer sections, and others created programs that resembled popular games like Jeopardy.


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Another way to practice fluency!

Students from Mrs. Adam’s class using Book Creator.

This year at Byrd all second graders have learned how to practice reading fluency using the iPads.  Each class learned this skill using a different app.  Mrs. Swift’s class learned to create recordings using iMovie.  Mrs. Nixon’s class learned to use a voice recording app, and finally Mrs. Adam’s class recently learned to use Book Creator.


iMovie allowed students to take a picture of their fluency passage, and record over top of the picture.  It took about three lessons that were forty-five minutes each until the students could use the app independently.  It was difficult for some students to match the length of the picture with the length of the recording.  Also, we could not turn off the Ken-Burns effect.


Mrs. Nixon’s class used a voice recording app.  They could easily capture their voice time and time again, however, with these types of apps they could not capture an image of their book or passage.  It took the students two lessons that were forty-five minutes each to use the software independently.  There are numerous free voice recording apps out there.  Here is a link to one example, Quick Voice Recorder.


Mrs. Adam’s class learned to use Book Creator to capture fluency practice.  The students learned how to use the app in one, hour-long lesson.  This has been my favorite method by far!  The students have created a fluency book. Using this app students can capture a picture of their reading passage.  Then they can add a recording of the passage.  Finally, we assigned the students a reading skill to illustrate with the drawing tools.  We had students illustrate the main idea of the passage, but we could have used just about any reading skill!  I love Book Creator allowed the students to have a multi-sensory experience with reading.  They were seeing the text, hearing themselves read, and drawing to deepen comprehension.


Have you used any other tools in your class to help students practice reading fluency?

eBooks for Others

This year Mrs. Demas and I have enjoyed bringing various writing activities into the classroom that promote writing for a variety of audiences.  Recently, the students finished up another authentic writing project that gave a new audience a chance to view and enjoy their published work.

The 4th grade students created eBooks using Book Creator for the GES and BES preschool students. To begin this activity the fourth graders had to spend some time investigating other children’s books. As a class we discussed different aspects of illustrations, text patterns, and the amount of text on a page. We also took a closer look at how children’s authors use vivid language and sensory words in their writing. Students had the opportunity to work together in groups to study children’s books.

The fourth graders had a choice to write a fiction or nonfiction book. They could pick any topic to write about, and were provided with a list of preschool interests – which were supplied by the preschool teachers.

Each week Mrs. Demas and myself were more and more amazed by the progress students made on their books. The quality of their writing was phenomenal, and their illustrations blew us away. Students could create their illustrations by using software on the iPad, or they could use paper and drawing tools. Some students chose to combine both art forms. There were even some students that used 3D models as the characters in their books. One student, for example, created her main character out of clay (it was a dinosaur!).


Book Creator (the app we used) allowed students to add text, independently create illustrations, and add audio files to their stories. Students were required to capture all text in an audio clip, thus turning all stories into audiobooks. Book Creator also allowed the students to easily share their work with Google Drive for easy transfer to our lesson website and to the preschool iPads.

Perhaps the most fun element of this project was the day the fourth graders walked over to the GES preschool to share their stories. The students shared stories that warmed our hearts, taught social lessons, and that taught facts to the preschool students. Our fourth graders at GES were admirably caring and patient as they taught the preschool students how to open the books, activate the audio clips, and turn the pages. Now the preschool students have over thirty new eBooks on their iPads to enjoy for the rest of the school year!

We commend the fourth grade students for their focus and enthusiasm throughout this project!

Check out our books on this link!  You will need to download the files on a device with eReader software (iPad and iPhone will work).  We have also posted the materials we used to implement and assess this project.

Watch as a fourth grader teaches a preschool student to use the audio buttons and to turn the pages.

Kindergarteners create digital stories

Teaching lessons involving heavy technology use to kindergarteners is always an adventure!  Sometimes it is difficult to anticipate the flow, timing, and outcome of the lesson.


I always love the opportunity to work with Ms. Burton’s kindergarten students at BES!  They are great listeners and eager to participate in any lesson utilizing technology.  For their most recent project the students learned to use a digital story telling app called 30 Hands.  Using this app the students could take pictures and record themselves reading a story.  First, the students created a character.  Then the students wrote a story about that character.  Students next had to take a picture of their character within the app, and practice reading their story.  The students were able to record their stories within the 30 Hands app.


The next day I returned to Ms. Burton’s class so the students could share their stories with one another.  Since it was our first time using this particular app, we also spent some time reflecting on the project via class discussion.  The students shared that next time they should speak a little louder or position themselves closer to the microphone.  The class unanimously agreed that they loved creating digital stories using 30 Hands!


Here are some examples of the students’ work!



Meet Miss Bune

Meet Hailey

Meet Jacob

Virtual Career Fair

Over the last two weeks I’ve had the opportunity to team up with a great group of teachers at Byrd Elementary School to help students learn about various career fields.   The school counselor, Mrs. Albert, initially developed this project.  She collaborated with the 4th grade team (Ms. Singh and Mrs. Johnston) to integrate the project across the curriculum.  Students spent time during guidance lessons to learn about their strengths in the multiple intelligences and to research career fields of interest.  Then teachers supported the students in writing class to further research careers of interest, and to create scripts for the final piece of the project.  The scripts included information about students’ current interests, a potential future career, and what the students need to do to prepare to work in the chosen field.

Finally, students used Voki to create messages to their future selves.  On the Voki site students created an avatar, and then recorded a reading of the script they wrote in writing class (using Google Docs).



You can read more about this project on a page Mrs. Albert created.  You can also view the virtual career fair.


It was obvious during this project that the students were engaged and enjoying learning!

Collaborative Writing Project – the eBook is Finished!

Over the last few weeks, students in Goochland County have been working on an exciting collaborative writing project.  Students in Mrs. Demas’s 4th grade class at GES and students in Ms. Gill’s 5th grade class at RES worked together in a virtual environment to research and write biographies about historical figures, found in our Virginia SOL’s.


The planning process began over one of our many snow days earlier this winter (literally, we met at Panera to plan out the details)!  Mrs. Demas and Ms. Gill wanted students to work on a nonfiction-writing piece that involved a bit of research.  They also wanted students to focus on the editing and revision aspects of writing.  With the writing SOL test right around the corner, we couldn’t think of a more authentic way to get the students writing for a real audience and critically analyzing their own work as well as others.


The teachers assigned partners and provided students with guidelines and a rubric, but the students used Google Docs to communicate with their partners and complete the work involved with this project.  To start with, students wrote autobiographies to introduce themselves to their partners.  Next, students wrote persuasive letters to each other to convince one another to write about a specific historical figure.  Finally, the collaborative research began.  Partner pairs had to decide who would collect specific pieces of information.  Students began writing, and shared their work with one another.  During the writing process, students often left each other “glows” and “grows” to improve their shared writing piece.  The comment feature of Google Docs make it easy to share thoughts.  Students realized that it is a challenge to combine writing styles to make one cohesive paper.  They had to reorder each other’s work so that the essay could flow from one topic to another in an appropriate sequence.  Teachers enjoyed watching the students engage in an extremely active revision and editing process.


The teachers and I were impressed with the end result!  You can check out the students’ book on Google Docs here (if you do not have an e-reader), or the eBook here (if you are using a mobile device).

What’s Trending at RES

There are always great things happening at RES, and I wish I had time each day to highlight them all!  The activities I do get to highlight are just snip-its of the wonderful things happening there every day.  Today I spent time with Cindy Edmonds, the art teacher, and 3rd graders in Ms. Gentry’s class.  Last week students read a story about the horses that live on Assateague Island in Virginia.  This week we brought to life one part of the story with a stop-motion project.  We used the camera app on the iPad, and merged the pictures together using iMovie.  Last month students spent time studying art work from the VMFA that included horses, and then they built their own 3D horses.

Here is the final movie!


Later the fourth grade team was busy preparing commercials to advertise the RES Fine Arts and Film Festival that will take place next Thursday night.  Students worked together in small teams to plan the commercials, write scripts, and use 30 Hands to create their projects.  Next week we will share their commercials with the entire school.  The commercials remind others of the time and location of the event.  Students also shared that we are encouraging everyone to bring a book to donate to Goochland Family Services.  I was impressed by how quickly and easily students learned to use the app.  In a matter of minutes they were taking pictures, annotating, integrating other pictures, and adding text to their projects.  Every student was engaged and hard at work in fourth grade today!

iPads and State Testing Review

This year GES teachers participating in the 1:1 pilot have done an excellent job experimenting with various ways to use the iPads for deeper learning.  The year has flow by, and we now find ourselves one month away from state testing season!  Throughout the next month teachers will finish teaching new content, and will begin to spend some time on review.  Although we always strive for deeper learning activities, sometimes it is important to provide students with review of material already learned.  Check out some of the options below for using the iPad to review content!  Some activities or sites you may have already used this year, but I hope you will find something new and helpful on the list!  Let me know if you would like support implementing any of these ideas or finding more sites.


Apps specifically for review:

Pass the Past – This app created by the VDOE houses past history SOL test questions.


Websites that work on the iPad:

All subjects

Mr. Nussbaum Mobile site – Houses numerous review games for all subject areas!  All are built with html5, and work on the iPads!  You can link individual games to your blog or post the links in Edmodo.

ThingLink – Teachers can sign up for an account, and create protected student accounts (the program provides teachers with student logins).  Students can create interactive pictures.  Students could add interactive features and information to a science diagram or a painting from history.  It takes a few minutes for a teacher to sign up his or her class, but the features of the site are worth it!

Flashcard Machine – Teachers can sign up for free and make flashcards for your class.  The site will give you a web address for each set of flashcards you make.  You could give students the address by posting in in Edmodo, on your blog, or by linking it to a QR code.



Hooda Math - Practice games that will work on the iPad, that are grouped by grade level.  Teachers could post links to the games on their blogs or Edmodo.

Transum Math - Practice games that will work on the iPad.


Ideas using apps on the iPads


1) Students can create videos in which they ask review questions (play for whole class).  Students can write their own questions, and film themselves asking it.

  • you could assign different units/topics to groups or individuals

2) Summarize a unit, or what you know about a topic.  Share movies on Edmodo.


Explain Everything

1) Create visual cues for science, social studies, or math vocabulary (drawing or taking pictures)

  • students can make an audio recording explaining each visual cue

2) Present student groups (or individuals) with word problems (could use QR codes).  Have them illustrate and verbally explain their work and solution.  Then share solutions with the class.



1) Post review quizzes on Edmodo for daily practice

2) Have students watch a video covering information from a content area.  Assign roles to students to review and post information from the video.  Teachers can show the video to the whole group, or post in Edmodo so students can easily re-watch it.  There are lots of great videos on Discovery Education!  This activity is similar to literature circles, but with videos rather than texts!

  • Role 1: define vocabulary
  • Role 2: summarize the information
  • Role 3:  illustrate concepts
  • Role 4: write questions from the video


Google Docs

1) Each student creates a practice quiz on Google Docs.  The teacher could set criteria, such as “must use multiple choice questions.”

2) Create a collaborative class document and have students write everything they know about a topic (could also do on Edmodo).  This would be like a mind dump.

  • Could also send collaborative documents with small groups for the same activity


Book Creator

1) Students could create vocabulary books for units of study (can incorporate video, pictures, drawing, and audio clips).

2) Teachers could assign different topics to groups or individuals, and then share books with class.

3) This app is great for challenging vocabulary or topics because of the easy access to multi-modal opportunities (pictures, video, drawing, audio clips).

4) In Language Arts class create short stories that incorporate facts from social studies or science (could also use Pages or Google Docs)



1) Students create trading cards for famous people.

  • Create a template on your computer, and send it to students using Google Docs.  Students open the template in Pages.  Within pages students can add pictures and text.


Comic Life

1) Students label science diagrams (plants, cells, waves, clouds, etc.).

2) Students create a comic that illustrates a historic event or fact, or students could make a timeline.

3) Students create comics that illustrate vocabulary (could create a page sized comic for math vocab.).

4) Students can create comics that reinforce reading skills (cause and effect, making inferences, illustrating literary elements, fact/opinion, compare and contrast).



1) Create a project as someone from history explaining an event.  You can mash multiple Morfo projects using iMovie if students need more than 30 seconds of recording time.



1) Create a teacher character that teaches information from a science or social studies unit

  • Could also use some math concepts (especially geometry)

Student Learning Slam – Collaborative Writing

Students in Mrs. Dema’s 4th grade class at Goochland Elementary School have been hard at work on a collaborative research and writing project with Ms. Gill’s 5th grade class at Randolph Elementary School.  Listen to Kylie in our Student Learning Slam as she describes how she uses Google Docs to communicate with her partner, share research, and revise each other’s writing.


From this project students learned a lot about communication from afar, and the need to clarify when communicating with others digitally.  Students also had the opportunity to practice constructive critiquing techniques as they revised their partner’s writing.  In addition, students learned more about American history as they spent time delving into research!  Within the writing projects students tried to focus on three elements:  1)  writing good hooks/leads; 2)  focusing on one main idea in a paragraph; 3)  organization of information in a research paper.



Steps to complete this project:

1)  Teachers assigned students partners, and partners shared autobiographies to get to know each other better.

2)  Students in Mrs. Dema’s class choose a historical figure to write about from a list that was shown to the class.  They had to write a persuasive letter to their partner to convince him/her to use the selected person as their research focus.

3)  Writing partners selected specific topics they would research and write about.

4)  Writing partners shared a document in which they collected research, and began their writing.

5)  Students helped to revise each other’s writing and organize the research paper.

6)  Projects will be compiled into an ebook for all students to enjoy!

Historical Perspectives Using Edmodo

The other week Ms. Carter and I spent some time brainstorming ways to help bring the Civil War to life for her 4th graders.  We wanted students to interact with the content in a way that would help them understand the experiences of Americans during this significant period of our history.  We decided to try creating a virtual simulation for students using Edmodo.  Here is what we put together (and had a lot of fun carrying out):

1)  Students picked cards with QR codes from a pile.  The QR codes linked to actual pictures of people who would have been affected by the Civil War.  Students had to participate in the lesson as the person connected with the QR code.

2)  After scanning the visual of their assigned person, the students began to research what life would have been like for that person during the Civil War.

3)  Once students had some time to research their assigned person, the war began.  Using an Edmodo group, we posted announcements throughout class to indicate when notable events from the war were occurring.   We attached primary resources to each of the announcements to help the students understand the events from the perspective of people who actually lived through it.   A few secondary sources were also included.  Students were exposed to real photographs, paintings, letters, journal entries, and newspaper articles.  It was easy enough to google search for primary resources from the Civil War era – there are tons out there!  Most of the pictures came from the Library of Congress’s digital collection.  After the viewing the resources, students posted thoughts and feelings from the point of view of their assigned person.

4)  At the end of class we used the quiz feature in Edmodo to assess student learning from the lesson.

5)  As a follow up activity, students will write a journal entry as their assigned person.  They can include various forms of media to help their person “come to life”.  In their journal entry they will describe their thoughts and feelings during the war, and describe specific events they impacted their lives.  I can’t wait to see what the students produce!


It was exciting to watch the students engage with the primary sources and posts in Edmodo.  Students were actively sharing the information they discovered about their assigned people.  I definitely learned a lot of new information discovered by the curious students!  There was no doubt that deeper learning was taking place.  I have had so much fun working with Ms. Carter and her fabulous 4th grade social studies students this week!

Bugs, Riddles, and QR Codes!

5th graders in Ms. Cosby’s class were given a sneak preview of the work Bea Cantor will share with students on Monday.  Bea is the ITRT at our secondary complex in Goochland County, and she is also one amazing photographer!  She uses iPhone macro photography to capture unique images of insect.  Her photographs show us a rare perspective that illustrate insects as complex and beautiful creatures – she even manages to make some of them look cute!

Her photos are too good to keep private.  Last year she published her own book called Calling Nature on iPhone Macro Photography, which you can check out through the Appel iBookstore.  This year she put her talents to work again, but this time she created a book geared towards younger viewers.  On Monday we will celebrate the release of her book at Goochland Elementary School.  Students with iPads will receive a copy of her book.

5th graders were given a first showing because they created advertisements to ignite excitement among the other students.  Each fifth grader chose one of Bea’s images, and linked it to a QR code.  The QR code was placed under a riddle created specifically for the image.  Other GES students will have the opportunity to read the riddles, and scan the QR code for the answer (which is the image of an insect).


Enjoy some of the students’ work!

I’m yellow like the sun

Yet black like night

I take flights

From flower to flower

My bite has power

What am I?  Answer


It’s eyes look like they were painted

As yellow as a mild sunset

Wrinkly as an old grandma

Cracked like an earthquaked ground

Mysterious as a black ninja

Open jawed as a great white shark

Looks fearless as a grown person

Lazy as its eyes slowly sink

Considerate as its eyes are filled with happiness

What am I?  Answer


My golden body is ruined by my dull black spots, as tiny as I am, my big eyes don’t seem to care. See me in spring, with my crystal clear wings, or catch me being a lady, climbing your sunshining wall.  Answer

So much technology in our schools!

As a teacher, do you ever look back at your week and think, “Did all of that really happen?”  Last week was one of those weeks.  It was wonderfully crazy and filled with exciting events and learning opportunities in our schools.   I did not have time to post!  I hope to make up for it this week by squeezing in a couple posts each night to showcase the wonderful things happening in our elementary schools.  In addition to the Byrd Farmers’ Market and the iPad Exhibition at GES, check out some of the instructional activities that took place!


I had the opportunity to spend more time in Ms. Thompson’s classroom with her fabulous 3rd graders!  Students began a unit of study on graphing.  We taught the students to create Google Forms with questions to collect data from classmates.  Forms allow students to create a survey with an online form.  Students posted their online surveys to Edmodo so their students could answer a variety of questions.  Forms collects survey responses in a neatly organized in a spreadsheet.  Furthermore, students can use a feature in the spreadsheet to create a beautiful graph.  Finally, students analyzed their graphs and wrote questions for their classmates that began with question stems such as How many more, Why do you think, What is the difference, and What might explain.


At Byrd Elementary School we used Khan Academy for the first time with students.  4th graders in Ms. Singh’s class used their Google accounts to sign into the program.  We plan to use it as a weekly math remediation tool.  A group of teachers will work together to assign skills to students.  These skills will be differentiated based on students’ individual needs.  Students will work through the tutorials and practice questions to “master” math skills.  Khan Academy is set up to award points and badges to students for completing modules.  The students loved this aspect of the program, and loved working at their own pace!


2nd graders continued to post information in Edmodo to the classroom in South Africa they are going to communicate with throughout the year.  They shared information about the school’s farmers market, Thanksgiving, and Native Americans.


5th graders at Byrd continued to work on their websites (using Google Sites) to share information about protecting the environment.  I will dedicate a post especially to their work as they complete the finishing touches!  Students in Ms. Sprouse’s class at Randolph Elementary School are also using Google Sites to respond to writing prompts.  Each student has their own page on a collaborative class site, built by Ms. Sprouse.


4th graders in Mrs. Demas’s class at Goochland Elementary School began the next leg of their weather and animal adaptations project.  They have tracked weather data for a specific climate zone.  They also researched real animals that live in that particular area.  This week the students created fictional animals that had special adaptations to help them survive in the climate zone they have studied.  Students work on this activity using Google Spreadsheets and Google Docs.


5th graders in Ms. Cosby’s class began a special lesson to investigate sound waves.  This activity integrated inquiry based learning with children’s engineering.  Later this week I will post a follow-up on this activity that will describe how the students used GarageBand to create music.


Students in our App Builders club continue to amaze me!  I look forward to writing about this special group of students.  They are building an app for Goochland Elementary School (using TheAppBuilder) while using the learning modules in Khan Academy to learn Java Script!  Exciting things will come from this group!


The GCPS STEM Advisory Committee met last week.  Planning is taking place for the 2nd Conundrum Day and also 2014 STEM Camp.  We are looking for parents and community members to help advance STEM education opportunities throughout the county.  If you are interested in joining this driven group, then please contact me for more information at



4th Grade Animal Adaptations Project

Today 4th graders will begin a new research project.  First, they will choose a one of many global climate zones.  Students will use the Interactive Map on National Geographic to choose the climate zone, and a specific location within the climate zone to gather data.  Next, students will track specific weather data in a Google spreadsheet over an extended period.  Then students will research the climate, topography, and vegetation of the area in a Google doc.  Students will also research an animal native to the region.  They will use the information and data they collect to help explain certain behavioral and structural adaptations of the animal.  Finally, students will create a fictional animal that could also survive in the area.  The fictional animal must have behavioral and structural adaptations to survive in the researched climate zone.  Students will learn about elements of nonfiction writing, and will produce a written report about either the real or fictional animal.  The report will describe behavioral and structural adaptations of the fictional animal that help it to survive given the climate, weather, topography, and vegetation of the area.


This image shows the climate zones students will choose from using the interactive map.

iPads at RES

4th graders at RES love to use iPads for reading fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary!  Thanks for the great pictures, Beth Ferguson (check out her blog for great articles about parenting students in the upper elementary grades)!!

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Kindergarteners in Mrs. Alvis’s class were busy today practicing how to wake up the iPads, “swipe” the screen (their term), find and activate different apps, and how to exit an app. They also learned how to use three new apps that they can use during center time. They were having fun while hard at work!


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Student Learning Slam #2

Thank you, Jermiyah for sharing your reading response activity! Jermiyah used the free app Tellagami to animate the main character of the story he read. In his final product he was able to animate the main character to tell about a conflict in the story.  Tellagami is an app that allows users customize the look of a character, add a background, and record your own voice as the character’s.  It allows thirty seconds of voice recording time. Finished projects are easily saved to the camera roll and shared elsewhere.

StudentLearningSlam2 from Zoe Parrish on Vimeo.


Looking for more ways to use Tellagami in class?  Check out the ideas below on this post from

  • Have your character tell a story.
  • Pick a person in history and have them introduce themselves
  • Use a plant cell as the background and have the avatar name and discuss the function of each part of the cell.
  • Recite a famous poem or speech
  • Read a poem they wrote
  • Take a trip or go back in time and describe where the location/time period
  • Speak in Spanish, French, Mandarin or any language

Later this year students will create Tellagami videos, or gamis for short, to tell about various career interests.  Students will save these videos in an e-portfolio that they will update each year of school in Goochland County.

Technology Abounds at RES!

Walk the halls of RES, and you will be reminded instantly of how the teachers are advocating for students to learn 21st century skills!  All in one day you will see technology used at every level from kindergarten through fifth!


Yesterday, students with Ms. Taylor were using Edmodo and posting fluency practice.  They used the site MP3 Record to record the reading of a leveled passage, which was differentiated for each student.  I loved seeing how excited the kids were to improve their time with each recording.  They wanted to keep reading to improve their times and reading expression.  These kind students posted encouraging words to each other about how wonderful their reading sounds.  Her students also used Educreations to practice writing and reading social studies vocabulary.  They used the record feature to share the meaning of each vocabulary word.  Students were illustrating the vocabulary using the app as well!


4th grade students in Mrs. Hadd’s class used Educreations to practice story retellings.  They used an image of a retelling bookmark to guide their own retellings, as they recorded using the app.


4th grade students also worked with partners to complete a Jamestown WebQuest.  Ms. Sprouse spent her lunch time working with students (even working on the floor :) ) to help make the activity a success!


3rd graders in Ms. Goodings class practiced using assessment tools using Interactive Achievement.  They are a fantastic group of listeners and students!


Kindergarteners in Mrs. Tysinger’s class practiced digital skills on the iPads.  They were reading e-books and spelling CVC pattern words in the books they were reading.  Students learned to drag the appropriate letters into the correct order to fill boxes and spell words found in the ebooks.


I had constructive planning sessions with  the 1st grade team, the art teacher (Ms. Edmonds), the music teacher (Mr. Snead), and the school counselor (Mrs. Zorger).  They are all planning exciting projects using digital tools.  Their students will have various opportunities to integrate 21st century skills across all curriculum areas!


The staff at RES is incredibly hard working and inspiring (both to other colleagues and students) each day!  It is a great place to be :) .

The Flexibility of iMovie

iMovie makes a frequent appearance in our elementary school classrooms, especially those with 1:1 iPads. The reason is that the application has infinite uses, it is easy to use, and it is so much fun! Students have had their iPads for about a month, and I have seen students use iMovie to share classroom expectations, interview peers, share information about Geometry, record and evaluate fluency, make movies to explain science content, and to create documentaries.

To use iMovie in its simplest form students only need to know how to start a new project and record footage. They quickly learn more tricks as they use the application to edit footage such as adding titles, music, transitions, and cropping clips. It is a beautiful thing to watch students as they excitedly share editing strategies with one another, and as a result, all of their work improves.

Students are engaged with learning when they are tasked with the challenging of turning content into a product that others can view. When students make a movie, they recognize the potential for a greater audience. Often, they think about how they can make others laugh. I see students considering their audience as they record thoughts and add pictures.

There are numerous uses for iMovie! Students can use pictures to describe scientific processes or to explain an event from history. They can create reader response activities by summarizing what they have read in a story or by relating their thoughts on a specific section of text. Students can use iMovie to reflect on their own work or to quickly produce an “exit ticket” retelling what they learned in class.

I am wondering what other uses teachers have found for using iMovie in their classrooms? Have you seen or used iMovie to liven up a traditional (yet beneficial) teaching strategy? Has anyone employed iMovie in an innovative way to improve learning outcomes?

If your students love to use the iMovie trailers, then here is a helpful link with templates for each of the movie trailers. Students can plan out their script, as well as their images and videos.


The video below is one example of how we have used iMovie this year.  Students made videos to teach the class about digital citizenship.  In this particular trailer, the students are sharing with others that it is inappropriate to copy other’s work without permission.


Create Your Own Work from Zoe Parrish on Vimeo.

Augmented Reality in the Classroom

Last week in Mrs. Demas’s class students had the opportunity to explain projects they made in class using Augmented Reality (AR).  Using this technology students were able to publish their work for a greater audience, and also reflect on their own work.  Furthermore, instructional information is better committed to memory due  to additional exposure to the content while making the AR projects.


There are many apps out there that allow users to create AR, but for this project we experimented with one called Aurasma.  The students were given some direction to use the technology, but were savvy enough to figure out most of the details on their own.  I was amazed at how they worked together to trouble shoot, and then teach others what they learned.  Students were engaged with learning as they created video overlays and trigger images.


The app produced the expected product for students, but it was tricky to use at times.  When augmented content is created using Aurasma it is placed on the author’s “channel”.  Then, others must join the author’s channel in order to see the AR when holding the ipad up to a trigger image.  To get around taking the time to join twenty different student channels, we created one class channel.  The students all posted their work to one channel.


Students buzzed with excitement as they watched others experience the AR they created.  Also, directions were posted for parents to view the augmented content at Back to School Night.


Check out the video below of students working on this project.  I love the first few seconds because it shows a little of how our students trouble shoot when using technology.  The app freezes and shuts down, and the student reopens it and continues working on her project without skipping a beat.


Augmented Reality from Zoe Parrish on Vimeo.

Special 3rd Grade Project

Another update as of 9/30

Way to go Byrd!!!!  We received the first place blue ribbon at the State Fair!



3rd graders in Ms. Thompson’s room are working on a very special project!  See the update to this post above and below!


To complete the final steps of the project, students will follow the directions below:

First, copy the link to your video.


Butterfly Bush




Rain Barrels


Swiss Chard

Water Lilies

Worm Composter


Then open the Kaywa site.


Next, paste your link into the long, white bar.


Slide the tab to static, next to the green button that says Generate


Click the word “generate”.


Tap and hold on the QR code until a menu opens.  Click on

Save the Image.


Open your Photo App, and print the QR code!



The very special project that 3rd graders worked on is pictured below!  The 4-H and the Virginia State Fair sponsored a project for schools called V is for Virginia School Gardens.  Byrd Elementary participated in this project by putting together a display board that showcases the Outdoor Learning Lab (or Courtyard).  The board is based on the theme, “The lifecycle of a courtyard.”  It beautifully displays student work, pictures, and videos of learning taking place in a special outdoor space.



4th Grade Geometry

Last week I was fortunate to have the opportunity to teach a math lesson with Glenda Hawk to her fourth grade students at Byrd Elementary School.  The 4th graders this year are part of the group of students I primarily worked with last year, so it was a real treat for me to spend time with them again.  They are a memorable, enthusiastic, hardworking, and  lovable bunch!


The students spent some time in the beautiful courtyard taking pictures of geometric shapes.  Once they had a few good pictures, then they used Adobe Ideas on the iPad to trace the shapes.  Finally, students had the opportunity to share their work with peers.  The students learned how to reflect images from their iPads to the classroom projection system.  Each student had a chance to explain what they found while outside and to describe its relation to geometric concepts they have learned in school.  I think their pictures look like abstract art :)



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…And so we began!

Last Thursday we held our first parent informational meeting for the 5th grade students receiving 1:1 iPads at Goochland Elementary School.  The parents came out in force, and we had a full house!  Students were extatic about the devices.  Two students even made a thank you card for our Supervisor of Instructional Technology, John Hendron, who has been the spear head of this program.


The next day students showed up to school armed with charged iPads, and ready to engage with learning.  Enthusiastic teachers jumped right in and integrated use of the devices from the moment students entered the room.  Jennifer Cosby worked with students to sign up for Edmodo, Evernote, and Skitch accounts.  Then, she began to use the iPads to present interactive notes to students.  Jodi Chewning took on the task of teaching students to use Explain Everything to make screen castings of math lessons.  She also integrated the use of Promethean Flip Charts with student iPads.  Andy Meiller’s students excitedly shared projects in class they created at home, at their own choosing.  He also assigned Language Arts homework using the devices.  Students completed a writing assignment using Comic Life.  Students additionally collaborated on a digital citizenship project using iMovie to create trailers advertising the expectations of responsible technology use.


This week has been exciting, but not without its bumps.  We have learned a lot!  We learned that we need to have discussions with students about the quality of Edmodo posts.  We also learned that it is necessary to have back-up plans for students who forget their iPads at home (back-up plans have mostly required students to share with a classmate).  Students need reminders of appropriate handling of the devices, because in their excitement, tech-aged impulsivity replaces fundamental care practices at times.  Also, students have learned a few tips to trouble shoot.  If an app locks up, then they know to first try exiting from the app and reopening it.  We expected to encounter some bumps, and went into this pilot project with the understanding that we (teachers, students, and administrators) would learn from each one.

I look forward to watching how these devices and the pilot will change the educational experience for students and the teaching process for teachers.  So far, teaching and learning is moving in a positive direction!