Casey’s Top Teacher Tech Tips & Tricks

Casey’s Top Teacher Tech Tips & Tricks

Written by Casey Keyser, MSEA Third Grade Teacher

Let’s chat about technology! Integrating technology into the classroom is my passion. It is an amazing way to engage your students in the content and to complete activities you wouldn’t have the means to do otherwise.

 

tech and school tips

 

My first pro-tip about tech in the classroom is this… DO NOT use technology just for the sake of using technology.. I will also never advocate for technology to be used 24/7. Technology needs to be purposeful and planned to help build the lesson up, not be the center of the lesson. Well, unless you are teaching a lesson on how to use a search engine on the Internet (which by the way, needs to be explicitly taught.)  If the lesson you are planning is better served with a paper/pencil, journal, or hands-on manipulatives… do that instead.

If you are not familiar with the SAMR model, please take a moment to check it out here.

 

tech and school tips

Now let’s dive into some technology uses for classrooms. I have a few favorite categories I like to use technology for. These are not content or grade-level specific so they can be used for any topic. We’re going to chat about integrating music, video, reading, and assessments tech tools into your classroom. If you use these categories when you are planning lessons, chances are, you will fill your classroom with engagement and excitement.

First up… Music technology.

Let’s talk about the amazing website Flocabulary. This incredible company creates educational hip-hop songs, videos, and additional educational materials to use in the class. They have topics anywhere from Reading and Science to Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). You can find songs to teach topics in all grade levels Pre-K to 12. They are so fun and engaging to learn with your students in a whole group setting or assigned to them individually. You are able to have a FREE 45-day trial of Flocabulary the first time you sign up, it is totally worth the try!

If you, your school, or your district subscribes to Flocabulary, I highly encourage you to check out this Flocabulary Accountability playlist. This template is used when students complete a Flocabulary Playlist online. You can either print one for students to use or have a PDF option for Kami or Google Slides online. This allows students to have a paper/note-taking option to build their planning skills. As a teacher, it also makes grading their assignment a lot easier because I can see their work while they work through the lessons. Integrating music into any content is a great way to help students remember what they are learning and become creative enough to write their own lyrics.

 

tech and school tips

 

Next up… Video technology.

My student’s favorite tech tool is Flipgrid. This tool is a simple, free, and accessible video discussion experience for learners and families. You can start a discussion and engage students and their community with one click of a green plus sign. Your students get to add personalized touches by adding a selfie cover photo and stickers to help support the topic. To learn more about Flipgrid check out this super helpful Getting Started video.

I never let my students go live on Flipgrid unless they have planned out their script beforehand. I use these quick and easy templates to help them get organized and started. Grab these easy-to-print Flipgrid Video Templates here.

 

tech and school tips

 

Another classroom pro tech tip, is to never let students use a new piece of technology for academic purposes first. They will not be engaged in learning the intended content or feel successful in learning how to use the new tech tool. Instead, ALWAYS onboard your students by having a fun intro activity to the tech tool/website. For example, have the students complete a building community activity such as Two Truths, One Lie using Flipgrid first. That way, they become familiar with the tool and not necessarily on the content at hand. This also allows the other students to watch their classmates’ videos and respond. All the practice is learning how to use the tech tool so that when it comes to your next lesson, they are ready!

Third in the queue… Reading!

When I want to add a reading component in my technology rotation, I look to the Book website to help provide my students with book collections curated for them on any topic. You can add books, audiobooks, video,s and read-aloud books to a collection and assign them to your students. I also want my students to be able to create their own collections of books.  First, I have them create collections of hobbies and favorites to share with their classmates, and then I have them create book collections on topics we are currently researching. I use my Epic! books collection sheet to have them write down all the books they find on a topic.

 

tech and school tips

 

Using keywords and search tools are just a few essential skills students should learn about researching. Not to mention, Epic! books can help foster a love for reading and exposing them to all types of genres.

On to Assessments… yay!

There are so many amazing assessment tools out there, but I wanted to give examples of both high and low tech.

My new favorite tech tool is called Factile; this website has a free and paid version. As a teacher that NEVER pays for ANY tech tool, I love being able to have up to 5 teams for free. Here is a little trick to have your entire class be able to all play at the same time.

Split your class into 5 groups and assign a team leader to be the reporter of answers. Give every student a piece of blank paper and an invisible ink pen. I get the ones that have the black light on the top of the cap and I buy online in bulk and they last forever. Then the entire class writes down their answers to the assessment questions as we go and only the reporter turns in the answer. This way students can’t see each other’s answers and won’t be embarrassed to try each question. Pro tech in the classroom tip, you can use this trick with most of the online assessment tools.

 

tech and school tips

 

Last but not least… a classic,  

I know that most teachers have already heard of Kahoot!, however, I have been able to add a little spin on it. I am always looking for ways to give my students more control over their own learning, so why not have them create the Kahoot!?.

I have my students use this template (paper and digital option) to write their own Kahoot! Assessment questions for any topic. They have used this template for Science, two-step word problems, main idea comprehension questions, phonics and so much more. The sky is the limit with what they can create.

 

tech and school tips

 

I also use my low-tech printable Kahoot! buzzers to allow the class to play on days we don’t have access to our devices. You can start an online assessment as a whole class on one teacher projector and have them tap their fingers on their decks to answer each question. I walk around the room with a clipboard to tally up an idea of the student’s understanding. You can find that Kahoot! Template and buzzer here!

 

tech and school tips

 

Don’t let barriers, like thinking ‘I’m not a “techy” person’ or ‘my school doesn’t have the technology available’, block you from trying a new tech tool in your classroom. I challenge you to try one new tech tool the first month of school. Let your students (and yourself) explore the tech tool first in a fun way, then dive right in with your content. You got this!

 

 

guest blogger

 

Casey Keyser is a third-grade teacher at Butterfly Ridge Elementary in Frederick County, Maryland. She was recently recognized as the national winner of the NEA Foundation’s 2021 Teaching in Excellence Award. Casey is the proud owner of the Education Resource Blog, Fair Winds Teaching, and loves to connect with her education community through her TeacherPayTeacher’s business.

 

Teachers During the Summer Memes

Teachers During the Summer Memes

Sleeping in, getting to enjoy your coffee while it’s still hot, eating, and going to the bathroom whenever you want… These activities are all delicacies to teachers in the summertime.

Here’s how we’re feeling soaking up our last few weeks of summer.

 

 

Currently:

 

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teacher memes
 

 

teacher memes
 

 

teacher memes
 

 

teacher memes
 

 

teacher memes
 

 

 

 

As school gets closer:

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We hope these memes help you enjoy the rest of your break!

For more check out our Pinterest board Teacher – Summer Memes”. While you’re there, don’t forget to give us a follow at California Casualty to stay up to date on every new meme we discover! Scan our Pincode with your Pinterest camera to follow:

 

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. California Casualty does not own any of the photos in this post, all are sources by to their original owners. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

Incorporating Virtual Learning Skills Into the New School Year

Written by Casey Keyser, MSEA Third Grade Teacher

virtual teachingI don’t need to tell anyone in the school system how difficult the last year and a half was for education. Not just for teachers, but for bus drivers, principals, parents, students, and everyone in between.

Teaching during a pandemic was by far the most difficult thing I have encountered in my career. It is hard to believe that anything good could come out of a year of lockdowns and virtual learning, let alone find the silver lining… But I am here to tell you… with every storm comes a rainbow.

It’s time to find that rainbow and help ourselves and our students with this upcoming school year. We must move forward and celebrate the skills we acquired throughout the storm.

Take a second to reflect… not on the bad but on something you learned this school year. Was it how to mute and unmute? My students taught me a fancy trick using the space bar!

Did you learn to use an online assessment tool like Kahoot! Or Quizizz? Did you connect with parents at a moment’s notice online using Zoom or Google Meet? Who knew we would be video conferencing with our students and families!

Were you finally able to start using a digital planner instead of your paper one? This has been my favorite new transition, I will never go back.

All of these things and SO MUCH more are the wins of having to teach virtual or hybrid this past year. You were encouraged to be an early adopter of tech tools and new devices like no other time before. But you dove right in to learn new skills and now you have experience with things like recording a screencast to give students directions or creating a complete interactive classroom with Google Slides and your Bitmoji.

If you’re on Facebook and you haven’t joined this teacher group yet… it is the rabbit hole of all rabbit holes. You will have access to FREE teacher resources that will help build engagement in your classroom using your Bitmoji. Join here now!

 

virtual teaching

 

It’s time to celebrate YOU for all you have learned. I am proud of you for getting out of your comfort zone and I promise you, you are a better educator for it.

So now what… you know all of these new and exciting skills, what do you do with them? Are you excited to get back into the classroom and go back to normal? This is an overwhelming, “NO!” This is your time to shine and take this great opportunity to start reimaging what schools can look like. Be that trailblazer that reflects on the things that got easier because of your new skills. Challenge yourself and your colleagues to think outside the box. Make this year the best year yet!

As you start to set up your new classroom think of ways you can incorporate those virtual learning skills into the new school year. You might not be virtual or hybrid anymore but you can still create digital libraries, have students record Flipgrid videos, go on virtual field trips around the world and so much more.

I know the one thing I will never go back on is parent/teacher conferences. I was able to meet with each and EVERY one of my parents (multiple times) over Google Meet during this past school year. I have never felt more connected with them and we both had the flexibility to do it from wherever was best.

What is one thing you would continue to implement this school year?

Before the pandemic, I had a difficult time teaching the students simple tech skills and they were in front of me in the classroom. They had trouble logging into their computer, remembering their passwords, and finding certain button icons on the screen to help troubleshoot any situation. During virtual learning, this became even harder. The students were not in front of me anymore to help them over their shoulder. I had to get creative with creating multiple tech tool button cards. The cards are a good visual of what each button is and what they are used for. I was able to hold them up to the screen so the students could see where to go. I will continue to use these when we get back into the classroom to make learning tech tools easier. I have created buttons for basic Internet browsers, Canvas, Google Meet, Zoom, Pear Deck, and Schoology. They truly are a game-changer, I couldn’t imagine going back to before I had them.

 

virtual teaching

 

The second resource that I can’t live without is my tech tool username and password display cards. Simply print these out and add your class code or password. I add them to a ring and hang them at the front of the classroom for all students to be able to access. It is a great way to never forget your codes and to build agency with your students.

 

virtual teaching

 

All these things and more are like letting the genie out of the bottle, I don’t think he’ll ever go back in. All we can do is learn from the skills we acquired and make the education system even better than before.

As we look forward to this upcoming school year, please try to remember the good that came from this very difficult year. There are so many bright colors in the rainbow and you just have to find them!

 

 

guest blogger

 

Casey Keyser is a third-grade teacher at Butterfly Ridge Elementary in Frederick County, Maryland. She was recently recognized as the national winner of the NEA Foundation’s 2021 Teaching in Excellence Award. Casey is the proud owner of the Education Resource Blog, Fair Winds Teaching, and loves to connect with her education community through her TeacherPayTeacher’s business.

5 Free Summer PD Resources for Teachers

5 Free Summer PD Resources for Teachers

Teachers do not have summers off. Professional development (PD) is one of the many tasks that’s expected of educators in the summer. But if your district doesn’t provide or pay for PD resources, the costs can quickly add up.

If you’re looking for ways you can easily meet your professional development goals without spending a ton or leaving your home, you’ve come to the right place. 

Enjoy some free PD this summer when it’s convenient for you (like while you’re sitting by the pool, enjoying the sun, and pretending like the school supply aisles aren’t already back in stores…) with these free online resources.

  1. Coursera  Coursera is an online learning resource hub that collaborates with 200+ universities and companies all over the world. You can find professional development resources, classes, and even earn certificates and degrees when you join for free. Click here to explore their vast amount of Teaching PD resources.
  2. Library of CongressThe Library of Congress offers build-your-own PD models for teachers, along with webinars and workshops, videos, and activities. Click here to get started. 
  3. Learners Edge – Learners Edge offers a wide variety of free webinars on mental health, reading, writing, culture, motivation, and more that you can earn certificates for. Browse their library by clicking here. 
  4. edWeb.net  edWeb hosts edWebinars weekdays all throughout the summer that you can earn certificates for. Through edWeb you can connect with peers and share ideas by joining ecommunities. You can even create your own webinars and learn from each other. Click here to view the free webinar schedule and check out everything else they have to offer. 
  5. Teachers FirstTeachers First offers free, quality, hands-on workshops for teachers and other educators. Their webinars are interactive, reached-based, and packed with great ideas for your classroom. Click here to get started.

Before you begin, be sure to check with your school take to make sure these PD options meet your school district’s requirements. 

Need some last-minute (mostly) PD books? Check out our Summer Reading List for Teachers.

Have a great rest of summer! 

 

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

Debunking the Myth ‘Teachers Have Summers Off’

Debunking the Myth ‘Teachers Have Summers Off’

“It must be nice to have the whole summer off.” At least that’s what many people say to (and assume about) teachers. However, if you’re like the majority of educators, you can’t even remember a summer when you didn’t work or teach summer school, complete professional development, attend classes and meetings, prepare and refine lessons, learn new curricula – the list goes on and on…

We set out to dispel the myth of teachers’ relaxing summer vacations. Here are 10 things teachers really do on their “summers off.” 

 

1. Summer Job 

Teacher’s pay is historically low, especially compared to other professions with similar educational requirements. Plus, many teachers have to pay for their own supplies during the school year. That’s why it’s common for teachers to work one or more jobs in the summertime. 

Teachers’ summer jobs may be related to education, such as teaching summer school, tutoring, or teaching abroad. Some teachers work at their kids’ summer camp so they may attend for free. However, sometimes teachers take seasonal jobs that, not only supplement their income, but also expand their horizons. Examples include:

    • Landscaper
    • Lifeguard
    • Bartender or waiter/waitress
    • House sitter, pet sitter, babysitter or dog walker
    • Hotel clerk
    • Grocery store worker
    • Uber/Lyft driver

Sadly, because teachers don’t get paid in the summer, these second—and sometimes third—jobs are almost necessary to make ends meet in many locations. 

 

2. Professional Development 

Teachers are required to complete continuing education credits in order to renew their license, and summer is a great time to take these workshops. 

Continuing education is offered in subject specialty areas, such as math, science, and foreign language, as well as general teaching strategies, assessment, technology tools, and more. Teachers can catch up on their professional summer reading too.

 

3. Graduate School

Many educators pursue graduate degrees. Not only do these degrees enhance a teacher’s skill set, additional degrees mean higher pay. Summer is a good time to complete some of this coursework without the additional pressure of teaching a class.

 

4. Department and District Meetings

These meetings are a requirement to attend. Summer is when districts update the curriculum and prepare for the upcoming school year. Teachers are active participants in these meetings and must collaborate with their peers so that everyone is on the same page during the school year. 

 

5. Coach

Teachers are natural coaches and many teachers coach their school teams where they are expected to fundraise, travel, go to tournaments, etc. during the summer.  Since teachers are natural coaches, some even take on this role outside of school at club or youth leagues, clinics, and summer camps.

 

6. Volunteer

Teaching is a work of heart, and we already know educators have some of the biggest hearts out there. Giving back to the community is a wonderful way to spend time in the summer, and many teachers choose to support their favorite causes by volunteering.

 

7. Parent Their Children

We forget sometimes that teachers are often parents of school-age kids. The summer is their chance to spend time with their children. As parents, they may set up or host playdates, drive their children to activities, and be the primary provider for childcare during the summer months.

 

8. Catching Up on the “To Do” List

While teachers can schedule time off during the school year, it’s a hassle to make sub plans. That’s why teachers tend to catch up on everything in the summer that they can’t do during the school year. This includes doctor and dentist appointments, home maintenance projects, and visits with out-of-town relatives. Check out these summer goals for teachers that may help you organize your “vacation” time this summer.

 

9. Relax & Recharge

Teaching is such a demanding job that burnout is common. Even if teachers are working elsewhere, the summer provides a mental break from the school year. Create a summer routine that helps you find some balance. Many teachers plan a summer vacation with their families which is a wonderful way to relax and recharge. Other relaxing activities include reading for pleasure, binge-watching favorite shows, and pursuing favorite hobbies. Anything that refreshes you mentally will help you be ready by the end of the summer to start it all over again. 

 

10. Get Ready for Next School Year

Although teachers aren’t teaching during the summer, they never stop thinking about their students. They continue to purchase supplies and research fun activities to include in their lesson plans for the new year all season. They also get into their classroom the minute they get the keys to make everything perfect for their new kiddos – flexible seating, reading corners, labeled folders, etc. – teachers have it all ready weeks before students even set foot in the school. 

Next time think twice before you tell a teacher how great it is to have “summer off.”

 

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

Starting with S.T.E.A.M.

Starting with S.T.E.A.M.

Written by Casey Keyser, MSEA Third Grade Teacher

You flip on your classroom lights, carry your 5 bags and 4 drinks in, drop everything down at your desk, turn on your computer, write your objectives, make copies and then it’s time to welcome in your students, and finally start your day- this is our everyday routine as educators.

For anyone that has ever taught in a classroom where you monitored your student’s arrival time, you know that keeping them occupied is critical when you still need to get all of your morning routines done. Pass out breakfast, take lunch orders, check your email, set up your centers, check communication folders, pull up a million websites, and start morning announcements.

 

STEAM bins

 

These 30 or so minutes are a perfect time to let your students get creative. A few years ago, I begin creating and using my, Starting with STEAM bins. These morning routine bins motivate my students get their breakfast eaten, complete their make-up work and set up for their day. They want to have time to explore and create with one of the Starting with STEAM bins.

 

STEAM bins

 

These bins are designed to allow the students to have a creative mind and a bit of unstructured playtime. It awakens their brains for the day and lets them explore the world of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (aka STEAM). Some of my bins come with prompts or directions but most of my bins are free-play or exploring materials.

 

s.t.e.a.m.

 

Not only are they the perfect activity for the morning, but you could also incorporate these bins in lots of different situations; science centers, Genius Hour, Coding week, after-school programs, at home, “I’m done, now what” bins, and much more!

I started by buying 12 bins from Dollar Tree and they worked for a couple of years before they busted then upgraded to ones with lid locks on Amazon. You can find all of the supplies I bought on my Amazon Recommendation page here. Most of the items I fill my bins with are best to fit in a paper-sized bin or container.

 

s.t.e.a.m.

 

I then started collecting STEAM materials from anywhere I could find them. I always reach out to friends and family first to see if their children have grown out of their old toys such as magnetic tiles, Legos, or consumable items like toilet paper rolls and tissue paper. I then search at yard sales and Goodwill for any cheap finds. I was even able to find some of my items for free. You can also think about completing a Donors Choose project or requesting school funds (if they are available).

I did end up buying a few things online. My two favorite classroom STEAM purchases are these medical trauma shears (kid-friendly and they cut through cardboard safely) and my wireless hot glue gun. I honestly use it every week of teaching and you can walk around your classroom hot-gluing items for students without the cord.

 

s.t.e.a.m.

 

Here is the list of items I have in my classroom (and then some) you can find these quick links on my website:

Brain flakes

 

Ozobot coding robots

 

Playdoh clay

 

Lego blocks

 

Building discs

 

Digit builders

 

Picasso tiles

 

Pipe building

 

Straw constructor

 

Logic puzzles (Dollar Store)

 

Magnetic tiles

 

Logic teasers (Dollar Store)

 

Rubik’s cube

 

Blank Space Books (Fair Winds Teaching)

 

Coding mouse

 

Makers Mats (Brooke Brown)

 

Watercolor paints

 

Stickers

 

Fingerprint Art

 

STEAM Books

 

 

I also created these “Starting with STEAM” bin labels to add to your organized bins. I used label holders from the Target Dollar spot or found some online. Simply print and laminate for a quick and easy way to stick them on.

 

s.t.e.a.m.

 

s.t.e.a.m.

 

One of the student’s favorite Starting with STEAM bins to grab are my Blank Space Books. These books are a shared experience with their classmates. I bought colorful blank books from the Target dollar spot (or available online) and added these class Blank Space topics. The bundle has over 10 different book ideas. The students use the printed template to have lined paper to glue on or use the blank space the page provides. They write an experience for their other classmates to read. Then they also have the opportunity to read other students’ responses. It gives them an outlet to share a time they went on a vacation, lost their tooth, or got an ouchy.

 

One of the student’s favorite Starting with STEAM bins to grab are my Blank Space Books. These books are a shared experience with their classmates. I bought colorful blank books from the Target dollar spot (or available online) and added these class Blank Space topics. The bundle has over 10 different book ideas. The students use the printed template to have lined paper to glue on or use the blank space the page provides. They write an experience for their other classmates to read. Then they also have the opportunity to read other students’ responses. It gives them an outlet to share a time they went on a vacation, lost their tooth or got an ouchy.

 

There are plenty of pages for them to use to write and draw and then take some time to read other entries. When the book is complete, I add it to the book center and glue another topic label on another blank book. Grab these now for your Starting with STEAM bins or independent writing center.

 

steam resources

 

Lastly, I also want my students to read STEAM books. I use one of the containers of Starting with STEAM bins to add and change out a few of my favorite STEAM books. Check out my list of the Best Nine STEAM books for my classroom. These books help open the mind to a child who might be nervous to get creative or think outside the box.

My top favorite STEAM books for children:

    • Rosie Revere Engineer by: Andrea Beaty
    • The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
    • Iggy Peck Architect by: Andrea Beaty
    • Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet
    • Perfect Square by Michael Hall
    • The Most Magnificent Thing by: Ashley Spires
    • What Do You Do with an Idea? by: Kobi Yamada
    • If I Built a House by Chris Van Dusen
    • What to do With a Box by Jane Yolen
steam books

 

 

guest blogger

 

Casey Keyser is a third-grade teacher at Butterfly Ridge Elementary in Frederick County, Maryland. She was recently recognized as the national winner of the NEA Foundation’s 2021 Teaching in Excellence Award. Casey is the proud owner of the Education Resource Blog, Fair Winds Teaching, and loves to connect with her education community through her TeacherPayTeacher’s business.

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