Scratch and Hour of Code

This post is cross posted on my Discovery Educator Blog.

My Middle School Students have been working with Scratch in preparation for The Hour of Code event in December. We began with the Learn to Code Tutorial. This was a great way to introduce the students to the basics of coding and they had fun as the Tutorial used Angry Birds and Plants vs Aliens levels. I was thrilled at how engaged all 6th, 7th and 8th graders were with the tutorial and were determined to reach the end. I loved how the tutorial made them think. The later levels were not easy and the students needed to try a few different things to reach the end.

I then had the students sign up for their own Web Based Scratch account. If they did not have an email address, I gave them one to use. (This website let me use the gmail+1 trick to create additional accounts.) This way they can work on their projects from home and it makes it easy to share projects. During our first class with Scratch we learned together, using directions I found on how to make a maze game. While the basics of the directions worked, we had trouble getting our Sprite to move correctly using the arrow keys. I went home and spent the next evening playing with Scratch and figuring it out. I found the best way to learn was to look at a game someone else made on the Scratch website. If you click on SEE INSIDE you will see the scripts written for that game. I found a maze game I liked and used it as my model for making my own maze game, complete with annoying noises which I knew the Middle School students would enjoy. Below is my game. You move the Butterfly through the maze using the arrow keys.

I have students who attended Scratch summer camps, so they were already experts and able to help the rest of us. I need to learn a little ahead of the other students so I can help them, but I am also encouraging them to check out other projects to get ideas. I am excited to see where we go with Scratch and gaming. All grades will be participating in Hour of Code and my hope is that we are gaming, coding and creating on an ongoing basis throughout the rest of the year.
There are other tutorials on the Hour of Code website, including an introduction to JavaScript and Tutorials for LightBot (for younger students) and Tynker (coding similar to Scratch.) I have also been using some FREE iPad Apps that teach coding with the students including Kodable, Daisy the Dinosaur, Hopscotch and Cargo-Bot.

Tech Lab Teacher


This year I have had a change in my job description. In addition to being the second grade teacher, I am now also the Tech Lab Teacher for grades preschool through 8th grade. I begin my days in the Tech lab and on most days I see 4 classes. After lunch I switch gears and spend the afternoon with my adorable 2nd graders. I found an excellent second grade partner and the children cover Reading, Language and Social Studies in the morning, leaving me Math, Science, Technology and Religion in the afternoon.

I am LOVING this change. I love working with all the grades in the morning. These are my former students and are still second graders to me (just a bit bigger perhaps.) I was using tech with all of these classes in 2nd grade so I know what they can do. I am able to help ALL classes use technology more effectively to support learning. Our school theme for the year is “The Fruits of the Spirit” and the Tech Lab has been great place to integrate that theme. Classes have used Wordle, iPiccy, Glogster and Storybird to make connections and express their thoughts on the “Fruits.” I have also enjoyed talking with each teacher to find out what is going on in the classroom and Tech it Up!

In Middle School, they have been reviewing the Scientific Process. Each student created a Glog naming and explaining each part of the process. They were able to use all the Glogster tools including the audio and video. They seemed to enjoy the process and all were on task when in the lab. These Glogs were then posted on the class’s Kidblog and shared in their Science Class.

In 3rd grade, the students were researching and writing reports on an Animal. The research was begun in the Tech Lab with some safe links and continued in the classroom. The students also searched for and found copyright free images of their animal. They finished writing the report in their classroom, and then in the lab used the images to make and iMovie and narrated the iMovie by reading their report. These have also been posted on their Kidblog.

To learn more about what we are doing in the Tech Lab, check out our Tech Lab Wiki, and click on one of the grades on the sidebar.

Spooky Stories

This post is cross posted on my classroom blog at

Once again the 2nd graders have written and illustrated Spooky Stories. Inspired by the Spooky pictures they created in art class, the children wrote and edited a story that begins with the phrase – One Dark Night…
Five students are sharing their stories in the video below. You can view the rest of the students’ stories by visiting our class wiki.

Blogging Templates

I just uplopaded my tenth item to my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

I added 10 of my favorite Blogging Templates for use with elementary students. I am excited about this new way of sharing how I use technology in the classroom and hope to reach a new audience of educators. My other items on TpT are some math practice sheets that I created as well as a couple of literature response journals, for
The Stories Julian Tells and Ramona the Pest.

I plan to continue to add more of the ways I integrate technology into my classroom in a teacher friendly format to Tpt. I would like to help other educators with easy to implement lessons and ideas. It is fun to know that you are helping other teachers and also to know you may make a dollar or two as well.

Please check out my Tpt store and spread the word! Thank you.



Literacy Superheroes Project

Along with my fellow DEN Star Mary Carole, we have created a Collaborative Project called Literacy Superheroes. It is a project where classes will create digital books on the iPad to be shared with classrooms all over the world. Our hope is that these classrooms will also connect via Skype or another video chat tool to learn more about each other.

We are recommending four Book creation apps on the iPad for this project. They are
Book Creator
Scribble Press
My Story
Story Patch

To learn more about the Project, and to register for the project, please visit the Literacy Superheroes wiki.

Skyping in the USA!

 This post is cross posted at

We have been meeting many of the other schools involved in Rock Our World through Skype Chats. We enjoy getting to know the other students and teachers and learning about where they live. We each choose one of the states we have Skyped with so far and wrote about that state on our Kidblog.

Oklahoma – We Skyped with Mrs. Park’s 2nd graders in Howe, Oklahoma. They sang us a song! We know that Oklahoma City is the capital and the state is shaped likes a pan with a handle. Howe, Oklahoma is in the pan part, not the handle.

Florida – We met Ms. Snyder’s 2nd Graders from Oneco Elementary in Bradenton, FL. We learned that the Orange Blossom is the state flower and the weather is warm there. They are also near Disney World.

Pennsylvania – We talked to Ms. Abernathy’s Ponderous 5th Grade Pandas. We learned that they have 8 class pets! 4 chinchillas, 3 bearded dragons and 1 ferret. We told them that we have a pet rock that Mrs. Harju keeps outside. We learned that Pennsylvania is the Keystone state and they have a state dog – the Great Dane.

Wisconsin – We met with Ms.Huttner’s 3rd grade students at Glacier Edge Elementary in Verona, WI. They only have 8 students in their class and they told us they have a class rabbit. They also speak Spanish and English. We know that the state bird is the robin (just like Michigan) and that the capital is Madison.

We enjoy sharing facts about Michigan and telling a few jokes in our Skype Chats. We tell the other classes about the fruits and vegetables grown in Michigan and how the lower peninsula of our state is shaped like a mitten. We always hold up our hand to tell them how to find Grand Rapids.

We can’t wait to meet more students in the US and around the world!

Next week we hope to visit North and South Carolina and Poland!

Wikis and Web 2.0 Presentation

I was honored to among the many wonderful presenters at this year’s MACUL conference in Detroit, Michigan, March 17-18. MACUL stands for Michigan Association of Computer Users in Learning. My presentation titled, “Wikis and Web 2.0 in the Elementary Classroom” appeared well received, although one cannot always tell as teachers in an audience are so quiet! My presentation ppt is below and I am happy to share it as well as answer questions.

I give credit for my “Wow” tech moment to Julie Myrmel from Hudsonville. It was 5 years ago that I attended her MACUL session, “Wikis and Blogs and Podcasts” and my teaching has never been the same! I was thrilled that a teacher approached me after my presentation to tell me that this was her “Wow!” teaching moment. I am so happy to pass on the Wonder of Wikis and Web 2.0.