March 6


McFarland, USA is an uplifting movie about a coach who works in a predominately Latino town and trains a group of students who become state champion cross country runners. Through his journey, he learns of the challenges the boys face with their families and economic responsibilities to work in the vegetable fields. These boys begin their day before sunrise to work in the fields, go to school and return to the fields for a late afternoon shift. For those of you that don’t know the labor intensive job working in the fields requires, this movie will surely open your eyes.

It leaves me wondering about my roots and the challenges faced generations ago. What did it take for my great grandmother to travel from Poland to America over 100 years ago? How did she get the money to travel here? What obstacles did she have to overcome as she was trying to start her life in America?


Here are some ideas for your students to learn about their families and challenges they have faced:

  • Jewel of a Book  directions for the project are listed on the page, but instead of handwritten-same shaped jewels, use a program like Paint, Publisher or Pixie to create the shape and add text.
  • Use a picture of a tree found in a photo gallery and import saved pictures and text boxes to display the information
  • Using Timeline from, have students organize their collected research of their family line onto a timeline. This will also give a different perspective to any historical figures you are covering in your class. The file can be saved and completed at a later time.
  • Here is a sample project outline to help you get started.



February 22

True Colors

“So don’t be afraid to let them show/Your true colors/True colors are beautiful,Like a rainbow” True Colors Cyndi Lauper 8/25/86 (video by MattyBraps)

What do your students know about their classmates? What if instead of sitting near their friends, they had to sit next to someone new? As scary as it sounds, when we break our normal routine, amazing things can happen. What if you took 5-10 minutes of the class’s down time to learn about other people in the room?  Yes, during the day, time is a hot commodity and must be devoted to the curriculum, but what about when the students are first coming into class in the morning, recess or during afternoon bus call. The students are talking at this time anyway, but usually with their buddies. It is the perfect time to learn about those people they spend so much time with during the school day.

What are some things they can do:

  • Put all the kids names in a bucket. Each person pulls out a partner and they need to learn three new facts about that person.
  • Put all the kids’ names in a bucket and have half the class pick one out. They will sit near them at the lunch table and talk about their favorite lunch treats or after school snacks.
  • Find one person who has a common hobby and share stories with them.
  • Find one person who has a different hobby then you and ask questions about it
  • Give each students a bingo card with each of the classmate’s names on them. Place a line under each person’s name and have the students write one fact they have learned about their classmate. The caller may say “Place a bingo chip on someone who likes to play soccer.”

February 16

Creativity Inspired the Cat

“Don’t impress them with technology, let them be amazed by what they can create with it.” ~author unknown

After multiple snow squalls and ice events we are finally getting our “big” snow. Excitement is in the air as the children all stare at the clock waiting for that early dismissal bell to leave. The teachers are looking at their lesson plans for the week and feeling the pressure of keeping up with curriculum so they are on track for those state assessments in May. Assigning homework over the next few days not knowing how long we will be out can be a bit tricky. A little bit ago I offered ideas on how a LMS can be used for snow days however with real snow those kids will want to be IN it. Below are some ideas that incorporate snow day fun and academics-but be sure to get out with your children. This is where the memories are made.

  • Once the snow starts to fall, measure it traditionally and non-traditionally. Document all data in an excel worksheet. Display it in a graph-there are several to choose from. IMG_4498[1]
  • Write your name, or your family’s names, in the snow so they are all the same height and width. Using your mobile device, take a picture from the highest point to capture all of the names. Import the picture into Publisher, add a seasonal frame and print.
  • Reenact a historical scene from a time period you are studying. Use the snow to build walls or cannon balls. Write a script that will allow all members of your family to participate. Record the event on your device and upload to cloud based sites such as Dropbox or your class’s LMS
  • Scoop the same amount of snow in several bowls and bring them into the house. Place the bowls in different locations…some by an outside door while others are closer to the heater. Create a hypothesis stating how long it will take before they melt. Time them to check your estimations. You can also take pictures at different intervals to check the progress. Write a news article as though you are an accomplished scientist stating your findings using the images to support your data.


February 16

All Those Cards

Valentine’s Day in elementary school doesn’t seem to have changed much in the last 30+ years. Girls show up in their favorite red or pink outfits. Some sparkle. Some are made out of taffeta while others have sayings on their shirt about love. Boys…well they most likely wear their favorite character or whatever shirt is closest to them when they get dressed.

Arriving at school with excitement they come stocked with their small cards that may have a lollipop, piece of candy, sticker or tattoo attached to it. Passing them out is exciting as they are carefully placed in the personally decorated boxes, paper bags or large envelopes. As the students open them they sort their candy and immediately place their stunning tattoos on the any and all exposed body parts. Their class party may end with decorating a cookie or enjoying a cupcake.

Most teachers will also receive those small cards and will tell the students how gracious they are that gave them one. But what those students don’t know is how happy it makes those teachers to be remembered because that student sat at the table last night finding the perfect card with the perfect saying to give to you-their teacher who knows how much you care.

As the day ends, what do you do with all the cards?

  • Create a special cover with the year on it and attach them together with a binding machine. Now you have a small keepsake and a history lesson to see how the cards have changed over time.
  • Punch a hole in the cart and feed a string through them. You now have a decoration to use each year for your classroom.
  • Lay them all out on the table to create a collage. Use your device to take the picture.


January 26

Limitless Classroom

“The deepest problem for us is not technology, nor teaching, nor school bureaucracies-it’s the limits of our thinking.” FETC 2015

Teaching is a profession led by territorial leaders. They claim their students as their own children. They are protective of the amazingly creative lessons that are delivered. Some only share with those they deem worthy of the information. Yet there are plenty that know how limited time is for planning and preparing so their grade level team may compile their lessons into a location for all to enjoy. Letting go of their territory will open opportunities that are currently unknown.

Our classrooms are now filled with technology-laptops, desktops, devices of all kinds and educators that are learning how to use it or waiting for the time and money for training to become available. However the best trainers are right under their noses! Schools are filled with students who use various devices for everything-homework, researching, social media and they are getting noticed.

On Saturday, January 31 there will be a Student Technology Conference where students will present how their devices are being using in their schools. Children in grades 6-12 will be presenting based on one of 6 strands: Making, Design and Innovation, Student Technology Clubs, Technology in Schools – Projects and Collaborations, Educational Technology Tools, Students and Social Media and Entrepreneurship. All of the directions of attending the conference via your computer are listed here. 

Today’s students are sharing so much of themselves, now its our turn to see what they are excited about.