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I love YouTube!  I use it all the time for my classroom and when I am trying to learn a new skill.  What I don't love about it is the advertisements, other clutter, and the fact that the next video starts playing automatically.  I have found four extensions that take care of all of these issues.

(Not sure what a Chrome extension is?  Read about them here.)

One solution to these problems is to use SafeShare.  I used this site for years.  You just copy and paste the link and then submit it.  This site allows you to watch the video distraction free.

What I don't like about SafeShare is the extra step.  I know it only takes about a minute, but sometimes I need things on the fly.  Also, if I'm watching a video for myself, I don't want to have to copy and paste the link.

I am going to share four of my favorite Chrome extensions.  If you take a minute to install these extensions now, you will not have to worry about copying and pasting links ever again for school, and you won't have to look at any annoying ads when viewing YouTube for personal use.

(Click on the image to go to the Chrome store and download the extension by clicking on "Add to Chrome".)

AdBlock gets rid of YouTube advertisements.

Distraction Free Extension clears up the clutter on YouTube.

Hide Comment keeps YouTube comments out of view.

NextVid Stopper prevents the next YouTube video from starting automatically.

Once these extensions are installed, you no longer have to worry about your students seeing unintended material on the videos.  All this and no copying and pasting required.

What is your favorite Google extension?

I have just finished updating all of my writing prompts.  Each set has 30 prompts, two different styles, and a wide variety of genres.

30 Fun Writing Prompts for March
Updating these prompts took a while, so I feel the need to celebrate!  All ten sets are on sale for 20% off until this Thursday, February 23, 2017.  (June prompts are available & on sale although they are not shown.)  Just click on the image below to view.

30 Prompts, two styles, and huge variety of genres in each set.

Thank you, and have a great week!

I hope everyone had a fabulous weekend!  I have recently tried using Padlet in my classroom, and I love it! Today I'd like to share how I use Padlet as a formative assessment.  I am going to talk about character traits with my second graders, but you can use it for virtually any topic at any grade level.

This post explains how Padlet can be used as a formative assessment.

During our read aloud of Charlotte's Web, we were immersed in a character study as our literary focus. At the end of the book, I wanted a way to check in on students' understanding of character traits. In the past, I would have used the chart below.  Students could write a trait and evidence on a Post-it note and place it in the square with their number.

Free sign for Post-it Note "Parking Lot"
(Sign available here.)

I liked this system for the most part, and I still use it when I need something fast.  However, Post-it notes don't always stay posted, they get lost easy, and there's no easy way to store them in a data notebook.  I wanted more concrete lasting evidence.

So.... I set up my first Padlet.

To get started, just go to padlet.com, create an account (super fast), and click on "Make a Padlet".  After that, you will see a screen that looks something like the picture below.  To name the Padlet, simply type in the title box.  I type in directions where it says "description".   This is also when you choose your layout.  I have found that the grid format works best, especially when multiple people are typing at once.

This post explains how Padlet can be used as a formative assessment.

Next, you get to choose the background.  There are lots of fun ones to choose from.  However, for this activity, I download a picture of my own.

This post explains how Padlet can be used as a formative assessment.

I searched "Charlotte's Web" on Google and downloaded this pic.

This post explains how Padlet can be used as a formative assessment.

Now, you are ready to go.  I just copy the link and send it to my students through Google Classroom.  Once the students have the Padlet opened, they can double click anywhere and they will
see a box where they can type in their responses.

They type in their name at the top and at least one character trait with evidence in the bottom part of the box.  Here is a sample.

This post explains how Padlet can be used as a formative assessment.

When the whole class was finished, I was able to see who had a strong understanding of character traits and who still needed a little more work on this skill.  I also had a permanent record of this formative assessment.  I just saved the link to my drive.  (Most of my data notebook is digital.)

I do not have a set of Chromebooks in my classroom.  However, there is an iPad cart in our building that we are allowed to check out.  The iPads worked fine for this activity.  (There is a free app that you can download, but it still works without it just using the link.)

When it came time for a more formal assessment of character traits, I made a graphic organizer for the students to use.

Free graphic organizer for character traits!

You can click here to download this organizer.

Since this activity, I have used Padlet in a variety of ways.  I hope to share more with you in the future. There are options to add pictures, videos, and attachments.  There's even a microphone.  I haven't used any of  these features yet, but I would love to hear your experience if you have given them a try.  Right now, I use the free version of Padlet, and it gives me what I need.  There is also an upgraded paid version that I may look into in the future.
I wanted to let everyone know that I will be participating in the TPT BeMine Sale coming up on February 
7 & 8, 2017.  My entire store will be marked 20% off.  You can get an additional 10% off by using the code LOVETpT at checkout.  I love TPT sales, and I am certainly planning to take advantage of this one!

Thank you, and have a great week!

I hope everyone had a successful adjustment back to school after the winter holidays.  The new year is the perfect time to reflect on our goals.  When I was thinking about student goals, I decided to revamp several aspects of our goal tracking system.  Today, I would like to share the new way my students will be tracking their goals.

Free goal tracking sheets and posters are available on this post!
(Letter clip art by Glitter Meets Glue Designs.)

We started off with the purpose of goal setting - create goals that improve yourself as a person and/or help others.  If you need a resource for this, Squirrel's New Year's Resolution is a great one.  If you don't have access to the book, you can use the video on YouTube

After defining a goal, we brainstormed several specific ideas such as learning all of your addition and subtraction facts by the end of February or learning the rest of your individual sight words by the end of January.  

After students came up with their goals, they recorded them on this sheet.

Use this free form to help your students' track their goals.

The first goal doesn't have a check-in, so I made an adjustment on a second sheet.  That way, students can monitor their goals each week after writing their initial goal.  Because the goals vary in length, I made the form an adjustable check-in that would work for all students.

Use this free form to help your students' track their goals.

I do believe in public displays where students can show their progress.  However, I don't believe in publicly posting individual scores because everyone had different strengths and weaknesses.  I don't think anyone's weakness should be displayed.  Having said that, I created these posters to display.

Great FREE posters for goal tracking!

Great FREE posters for goal tracking!

Great FREE posters for goal tracking!

Great FREE posters for goal tracking!

Great FREE posters for goal tracking!

I hole punched the posters and connected them with rings.  Students now use this as a clip chart.  All students start with their numbered clip (clothespin) on "I just started a new goal." Here is a picture of everything together.

Free Goal Tracking Posters!

Each week, students will record their progress on the goal sheet and move their clips accordingly.  I set my own goal so I can monitor my progress with the students.  Once they accomplish their goals, they start their clip over on the bottom.  Students are allowed to start over at other times if they feel their goal is no longer appropriate or a priority, but they need to discuss it with me first.

If you are interested in the goal tracking sheets, you can download them here.
The goal tracking posters are here

I hope everyone (students and teachers) are able to meet their goals in 2017, regardless of what system you use.  Good luck!

Thank you!

Hello Everyone!  My students have been working hard on their How-to writing.  Today, I would like to share how some tools they used to organize their writing.

Organize your How to writing with the freebies on this post!

I introduced this unit the same way I introduce virtually everything - a great mentor text.  In this case, I used How to Babysit a Grandpa.

An awesome mentor text for How to writing

This book is so much fun to read aloud.  I love using it as a mentor text because it is full of specific details and examples.  Here is one of my favorite pages.

An awesome mentor text for How to writing!

After reading the book to students, I modeled how to brainstorm topics.  We completed the organizer below with our areas of expertise.

Pick up this free organizer for How to writing.

The next day, students brought their expert brainstorming sheet to the carpet.  I modeled how to select a topic and narrow it if needed.  I originally had "Taking care of a dog" on my expert sheet.  I explained to students how that was too broad.  I narrowed it down to how to feed a dog.

After narrowing my topic, I modeled how to use this graphic organizer to plan my writing.

This post has a free graphic organizer for How to writing.

After they saw me model the process, students highlighted the topic from their expert organizer that they thought would work best.  Then they got to work on planning their own How to writing.

We are now in the final stages of this writing project.  The organizer has been a great help during writing conferences throughout the process.  In the beginning, it helped students make sure they could choose an appropriate topic and identify steps.  Later, we referred to the organizer to talk about transitions and going step by step.  Next year, I plan on doing a little more modeling and conferencing with students prior to beginning drafts.  I think that will save me some time in the long run, especially with students who originally chose a topic that was too broad.

If you are interested in using these organizers for your own classroom, you can download the expert brainstorming sheet here and the planning graphic organizer here.

Thank you and have a great week!

There are so many great ways to keep notes, plans, and to do lists.  I have seen many versions of cute planners and teacher binders.  However, I am leaning more and more toward digital versions of these types of products.  For the past year or so, I was using Evernote to help organize notes from meetings, house projects, blog ideas, etc.  Recently, I received notice that Evernote would begin charging for use on more than two devices.  That was enough to make me search for an alternative.

Enter Google Keep.

Google Keep is an awesome alternative to take, share, and organize your notes.

I am finding Google Keep to be an excellent alternative to take and organize my notes.  Here are the reasons why I love it!

***It is free!  :)

*** You can use it on any electronic device.  There is no need to sign in as long as you are logged into your Chrome account.  Although I use it on my iPad most often, I also have the app on my phone.  I love that when I use it from my computer, I can add several extensions as well. (More on these coming up.)

*** You can color code your notes and create custom categories for each color.  This is my favorite feature!  Once you add the Category Tabs extension, you can easily find your color coded notes.  (You can still color code and create categories without the extension, the codes just won't appear on the top navigation bar.) Here are my navigation bars.

Color code all of your notes with Google Keep.

*** You can add hashtags to connect notes across different categories and/or further organize notes within categories.  The hashtags will not appear on the top navigation bar, so it stays clean.  However, they will appear in alphabetical order along with your categories on the menu (sidebar).

*** You can save any website directly to keep.  Once you install the Chrome extension for Google Keep, you can easily save any website to the folder of your choice.   When you click on the small tag, you can select the category for your note.

Easily save any website to Google Keep.

*** It is extremely easy to use.  Taking notes, inserting pictures, organizing your notes, sharing, and setting reminders can all be done with a click or two.

*** You can easily switch from one account to another.  I have two Chrome log ins - one for work and one for personal.  I thought about having all of my notes in one place.  To reduce clutter, I went ahead and loaded Keep on both accounts.  I rarely use my work account at home, and I never use my personal account at work, so it should be fine.  To switch accounts on the iPad, you just have to go to the menu and select your other account.  

I love using Google Keep, and I intend to continue using it, but there are a few things I hope to see added in the near future.  When taking notes, it would be nice to be able to underline or use bold/italics. Surprisingly, there is no option for this.  Also, I wish I could add hyperlinks.  Although saving websites automatically gives me a link, sometimes it would be nice to add a hyperlink within a note.  Finally, an undo button would be nice.

I understand the Google Keep has evolved quite a bit since it's onset, so hopefully it will continue to do so!

Thank you, and have a great week!

Today I'd like to share a fun Google Extension that I use all the time.  The extension is called, Scroll to Top.

A fun way to scroll through any website

I love this scrolling extension because it allows you to go directly to the top or bottom of any website.  You can can go slowly or go straight to the top or bottom.  There are lots of fun options for your scrolling button.

First, make sure you are logged into Chrome.  Next, go to the Chrome Web Store and search the extensions for Scroll to Top (or just click here.)  Click the button that says "Add to Chrome", and you will see a screen that gives you lots of options for your settings.

A fun way to scroll through any website

Then, if you click Show more settings, you will see lots of fun choices for your scrolling button.

Loads of button options to help you scroll through any website

That's it.  You now have an easy way to scroll through any website.  If you click on the icon, you will go straight to the top or bottom (whichever way it is pointing).  If you hover, you will find slower scrolling options.

A fun way to scroll through any website

Have fun making your own scrolling button!  Now you can enjoy all of your favorite sites just a little bit more.

Thank you!

I started a new professional book, and I can already tell it is going to become one of my favorites.  The Literacy Teacher's Playbook was recommended to me by a dear friend and colleague.  I'm only on page 9, and I already have to stop and put an idea into practice.

An Engagement Inventory is a great way to monitor independent reading.  This post has one as a free download.

The Literacy Teacher's Playbook takes the reader through various ways to assess your students.  Later, it talks about how to plan using the results of these assessments to best meet the needs of your students.  I can't wait to read about the instructional practices.  They look great at a glance.

This book is excellent professional reading for teachers.  Read this post for a free download of a reading engagement inventory inspired by this book.

In chapter one, Jennifer Serravallo talks about different lenses to use when assessing students' reading. The first lens she talks about is reading engagement.  She discusses using reading logs and interest inventories to help measure engagement.  These are tools that are very familiar to me, and I wholeheartedly agree with her suggestions on how to use them.   However, I was most excited to read about the idea of a Reading Engagement Inventory.  Here is a picture of the one from the book.

An Engagement Inventory is a great way to monitor independent reading.  This post has one as a free download.

Basically, you spend a block of reading time "kidwatching", paying close attention to the behaviors you notice during silent reading.  You code or make short notes about behaviors you notice.

In my version, a blank space will mean the student appears to be on task reading.  Here is my inventory I plan on using next year.  I will likely put it on my iPad and keep an electronic record as I am a huge fan of minimizing the amount of papers in my classroom. 

An Engagement Inventory is a great way to monitor independent reading.  This post has one as a free download.

If you would like to try out this form, I put it on a Google Slide.  If you make a copy of the file, you should be able to edit it however you would like, including changing the codes to fit your needs.  (Just go to file and click "Make a copy.)  I used font size 10, and I can fit 25 names in the table.  You can change the font and/or cell size if you need to fit in more names.  You can either print it out or complete the form digitally.  To download, click on the pink button below.

(If you need assistance editing the table, you can click here for help.)

Let me know if you have any questions.

Thank you, and have a great week!

Back to Top