Hour of Code – Computer Science Education Week

Web Tools for the Elementary Educator


Hour of Code 2013 is a great event to get students excited about computer science and what it really means to be a computer scientist.  The graphic above is pretty cool and powerful.

During this week, millions of students around the United States will “code” for at least one hour and be introduced to computer science.  All of our students play video games or phones, tablets, computers and gaming consoles, so they can understand this concept.  So, how fun and cool would it be for them to create their own game, or app??  I encourage you all to sign-up and have your students participate for at least one hour this coming week.  Here is a link to the educator resources – http://code.org/educate/hoc If your students don’t have access to the computers or devices, there are activities for unplugged classrooms, too.

Here is an introduction video about this awesome event:


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A Few Websites to Checkout!

Great Common Core Stuff!!!

Web Tools for the Elementary Educator

Here are a few great sites that I haven’t mentioned on my blog, but they are great resources for all teachers and people in education.


The Teaching Channel is a great tool for videos that show teachers doing lessons.  The lessons are extremely helpful seeing them in real life classrooms, not just hearsay.  I personally love the Common Core lessons and new ideas to engage my students in meaningful, rigorous lessons/activities.  Plus, when you sign-up for updates, you’ll get a email with new videos that relate to you!

edudemic_weblogoEdudemic is another great site that includes many articles and updated daily with articles that show how to add more technology into your 21st Century classroom.  Get lost with this treasure trove of great resources.


Teachers Pay Teachers has been around for a while now, but I never really looked into it.  This website is pretty AMAZING… I find so many resources…

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Awesome Common Core Resource…

Web Tools for the Elementary Educator

newselaNewsELA is AWESOME!!!  This is a Non-Fiction Literacy and Current Event website for your students.  One of the best features on here is the ability to change the student lexile reading level.  That feature alone can help you differentiate and level the articles for all your students of various levels.  The second feature that is how it relates to the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS), and the Anchor Standards for English Language Arts – PLUS some articles have a quiz that is rigorous.  Also,the quizzes occasionally have questions where the students have to use text evidence and click the paragraph or sentence the answer is located.

Did I mention that this is FREE?  Yes, it’s all free and all you have to do is register and give your students the class signup code, then they sign up themselves.  Another thing is that it works on tablets, PCs, or other…

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Four Quadrant Math Problem

As most of of us know, math word problems are always at the end of the problem set for the day and 95% of the time we NEVER get to them. If you were to ask most students the math problems they dislike the most…drum roll… WORD PROBLEMS!!! Why is that? Maybe it is because, we teachers, never instruct our students to work them out, where to begin, or how to “attack” a word problem. I think it is our fault that they “hate” these type of problems. But, another sad part of this is that these word problems are usually the only time our students see the math in the “real world.” Word problems should help them make a better connection to the math. We should never get the question, “Why do I have to learn this?”

So, what does this have to do with the Common Core? Below is a graphic of The Standards for Mathematical Practices with Common Core:

Math Standards of Practice

Graphic – http://firstgradefoundme.blogspot.com

If done correctly, a word problem can cover all eight mathematical practices, here is how!

Last year, a colleague of mine (Mrs. Mchale), told me about a way she was having students work in teams/groups to solve a math word problem. She explained the way she was having students do this on a poster. I thought this was perfect for the upcoming Common Core State Standards. I created a graphic organizer or template for my students to use. I named it Four Quadrant Math Problem:

  1. Show with numbers
  2. Show with a picture or graph
  3. Show with words/sentences
  4. Explain your thinking

You can give the same word problem to each group or switch it up. Usually, I have about six groups and will give half of them problem #1 and the other half of the groups problem #2. Then, they get to work on a rough draft, and then come to a consensus before making their final draft on poster paper with markers. After all the groups are finished, we display and discuss one problem at a time. We compare and contrast ways they solved problems, graphed or drew problems, and their thinking behind the problem. This really allows all the students to really “see” other ways to solve the same problem. This is truly the most powerful aspect of this activity. Below is the graphic organizer I created, please share and use it. I would love to hear from you on here about your experience using it in your class or even at home!!

4 quadrant math problem

My First Couple Weeks with Common Core…



Well, my first couple weeks of implementing the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects.  Some of you are re-reading and probably scratching your head!  Basically it means that I will be using more Social Studies, Science, and Technical text to teach English Language Arts.

So, my biggest challenge so far has been how to use my school district’s adopted History/Social Studies curriculum for my language arts program.  In other words, I am basically creating my own pacing guide and ways of meeting the CCSS Standards.  Additionally, I have to make sure to teach the current state content standards to the district benchmarks and the California Standards Test (CST).

Needless to say, I am kind of feeling like I felt my first couple years of teaching, when I had to create and plan everything from scratch.  This is time-consuming and draining mentally and physically.  Last week, I was feeling like I was burning the candle at both ends.  Some of you are probably saying, “How come you are doing this?”

Well, the answer is simple, the new Common Core Standards are better for our kids and future generation.  We haven’t done a great job teaching our students how to think critically or for themselves.  We have taught them to take multiple choice test well, but that isn’t how the real world is.  These new standards are meant to get our students college and career ready!  We lost sight of that since I have been teaching the past ten years.

This challenge of piloting ways to implement CCSS, has changed the ways I am teaching and what my kids are doing to show what they really know.  They are just picking “C” for an answer choice.  Here is a great video about picking “C” and I encourage you to watch and share this.  It is what our current college and young adults have been trained to do!

I hope you follow me on this exciting journey into Common Core and I encourage you to comment and share with friends.

Here’s to a great 2013-2014 School Year!