Make Today Matter Digital Gratitude and Growth Mindset Journal

Help Your Students Find Positivity in Each Day

I had a rough week last week. After six weeks of being quarantined, I had a severe case of BLAH.

What I realized was this:

  1. I wasn’t taking care of myself and my mindset. I needed a positivity boost.
  2. If I’m struggling with this, so many others, including my students, must be also.

What I did for myself was to take a day to rest and reset my mind. I exercised, I talked to friends (on the phone), I read, I painted my nails, all the things.

But the next day I honestly didn’t feel any better. On the second day, I opened my daily mindset journal, my Make Today Matter journal that I’d been keeping each day at school for myself and with my students, and I wrote. I wrote about what I’m grateful for, my goals for the day, and my successes. And just like it had made such a big difference in our positivity in the classroom, it made a big difference for me here at home too!

I’ve added it to my Distance Learning Google Classroom for my students now also. Because like I said in realization #2 above, if I’m feeling this way, I’m sure my students and everyone else are also. Because if ten minutes could make such a big difference for my mindset, I’m sure it will do the same for my students.

Maybe it could also do the same for your students. We could all use a little extra sense of joy and sunshine in our day! Grab your copy here!

Using A Digital Fiction Book Project for Distance Learning

One of the problems that I’ve noticed the most with distance learning, is the amount of extra time that teachers are having to take to get resources ready for digital distance learning. The strategies and resources that teachers are using is new for so many of us and the learning curve itself with what works for this, and what teaching looks like in this time, is new and requires big changes. Change takes time.

My Digital Fiction Book Project is one resource that could save some of that time. The beauty of this Google Slides project is the amount of flexibility it allows for the teacher and students. The project can be used with any text and provides two versions (pages with graphic organizers and pages without) of the most common fiction reading comprehension skills. Several of the pages can also be used with nonfiction texts as well. The teacher can assign the reading, with a specific text for students to show comprehension, or have students choose their own book, allowing for differentiation and higher engagement. Yay – said the students!

See a blank version of the project here.

Teachers can either assign the pages with the graphic organizers pre-made, or have their students create their own ways of showing their comprehension and use/mastery of each skill. Teachers can choose to only assign certain comprehension pages, or all, or assign the project to a collaborative group of students and have them work on separate slides in the same project. This is a resource that could be used multiple times, allowing the teacher to also establish a routine during distance learning, making the work easier for their students and parents to navigate each week.

To complete the project, students use digital snapshots (use their snipping tool or screen capture tool) of the text to prove their thinking along with their own explanations to provide evidence of their understanding. This can be done with either digital ebooks or with print text. Students who need to complete the resource without wifi can use a print version of the project pages, or use the “edit offline” option that Google allows. And because it’s a Google apps project, students can use any device that allows them to connect to Google Apps (a PC or device with Google Slides downloaded from the app store).

The project can be easily assigned by using an email link or through your Google Classroom.

My students and I have always enjoyed presenting the projects as well, which could be done through a Zoom or Google Meets class meeting, on Flipgrid using a Screencastify video (free versions available for teachers and students) or any other screen/voice recording tool.

This project has always been one of the favorite comprehension project assignments in my classes and I hope that it would be the same for your students, along with being a helpful and valuable resource for your distance teaching materials!

End of the Year Memories Digital Choice Board Projects

My end of the year project just leveled up! With ten days left to go, and the sentimental thoughts of missing the class (from myself and the students), these projects will give the students a chance to share special memories, things learned throughout the year, tips for next year’s students, or a summary of what they’ve learned through five different creative options.

Students can choose between creating:

* podcasts

*writing a song and creating a music video

*writing and illustrating an audio book

*writing and making a movie

*creating a series of sketch notes or mind maps to share memorable events of the school year.

All of the project options are perfect for 21st century skills. Students will collaborate, get creative, think critically, practice citizenship, and practice good communication skills through their project presentations. The projects are great for MANY grade levels (probably excluding K and 1) and any subject area!

I can’t wait to see what they come up with!

For you teachers out there, these slides are completely editable. You can edit the text and directions to fit your grade level and add your own bitmoji images. Get it here 🙂

remove.bg for book and writing responses

I recently learned about this site in an email from my tech coaches. I knew I wanted to use it but didn’t have a legitimate reason to use it in my reading classroom. Today, however, when I introduced digital reading responses, specifically #booksnaps, it was the perfect site.

#Booksnaps – Do your students do a daily response to their independent reading? I’ve always used a variety of strategies (worksheets, post-its, reading journals, interactive notebooks) but have never found one that really excited my students, until today, using the remove.bg site. I introduced Tara Martin’s #booksnaps to my readers using the Google apps options of Slides and Drawings. We began with a focus on our metacognition … what thoughts did you have while reading? I used our whole group informational texts that we’d analyzed throughout this week and had my students find a page, section, paragraph, etc. that affected their thinking the most. We followed the procedures for a typical #booksnap, which can be found here at Tara Martin’s site. However, instead of searching for emojis or using bitmojis (neither of which is completely appropriate for my students) I had my students take selfies of themselves using their webcams, trying to portray their emotions and feelings or thoughts while taking the picture. Then they used the remove.bg site to remove the background from their selfie and they had their own little picture of themselves, ready to be added to their slide and turned into a real-life “selfmoji’ or inserted onto a new background that related to their reading using a new Google Slide. We downloaded the slides as a jpeg or png file to add to our #booksnaps.

My fourth graders were in! In our excitement we played around a bit. (It was one of those moments their excitement just needed to be let it before they could focus on their actual task.) I’ll admit, I created a “selfie” with the president and first lady, I went to the Super Bowl, and my students put their faces on athletes, past presidents, video game characters, and one even floated in a pool of gold coins. The excitement was a bit out of control, but the ideas and creativity were endless. When it came time to respond to our reading, students were also excited to find creative ways to show their thinking, and for a minute, I’m pretty sure my classroom was magic. Everyone was working, thinking, collaborating, and sharing their thoughts about their reading in a way that I’ve never seen them before. They were genuinely excited to talk about their books. My teacher heart left school full and excited for next week.

Here are a couple of the photos I made while playing around, and an example of what one of my students made.

Now, the possibilities are great for how we could use this website in our writing. My students are currently working on a research PBL about the planets. Guess what their next background will be?

Creative Reading Review

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This review project is a favorite in my class!  I was looking for a way to assess my students’ fictional comprehension of ALL of the skills I teach in our fiction unit. The problem with assessments, though, is that they aren’t always fair to all students. You reading teachers know what I mean! We differentiate our instruction to make learning fair for all of our readers, so assessments should also be fair! With this project, I can assign leveled text, individually or by group, allowing me to actually assess their comprehension skills without questioning if the real problem was that they couldn’t read the passage. As the teacher, you can even choose whether you assign the pages with graphic organizers or blank pages for students who need more of a challenge.

While working on this project, my students are given free rein, meaning they are completely in control of how they show their understanding. Text dependence is easy too. With digital text, students can take a snapshot or copy/paste exactly what they need to prove their thinking. Altogether, I’m assessing their understanding, giving my students opportunities to use creativity, critical thinking skills, and their communication skills. If not being used for assessment purposes, it also makes for a great collaboration project for group assignments.

If you want to check this out for your own students click the link below.

Fiction Book Analysis Project