Periods of Reflection

Just random musings from an elementary perspective. Views are my own.

Month: November, 2013

Using Quick Key in the Classroom

Part of my daily routine at this point is to scroll through my PLN feed on Twitter.  As I’ve talked about numerous times in past blog posts, the information shared is invaluable.  A tool I just heard about is Quick Key. This app is the dream child of Walter Duncan, @4_teachers on Twitter.

Check out this video for a brief explanation of it’s features.

How Do I Use it in the Classroom? 

After assigning students a purposeful homework task, such as DRP (Degrees of Reading Power) to help with vocabulary building and using context clues, I also print out a “Quick Ticket” for students to mark their answers on.”  Quick tickets are available on their website after creating an account.  Upon entering the classroom the next day, students give me their “Quick ticket” and I use the free QuickKeyApp  to scan their work.  What’s so powerful about this tool is that it easily corrects the student’s answers, and generates valuable data.   You can also use the app to break down the data by student and by question.  Having this real-time data to utilize and drive instruction in a purposeful, concise manner is so important to helping kids where they can improve.

Here is a sample of some student’s results using the app:


As you can tell by the above data, I now know that my class had a very difficult time with questions 4, 5, 6, and 8.  This will prompt me to go back and review those questions in a small group or whole group.

Here is a sample of the multiple ways you can export data:


Going Semi-Paperless:

If you use a LMS such as Edmodo or Schoology, you can go even deeper with going paperless by sending the multiple choice assignment electronically, then just have your students fill out the “quick ticket.”  Another great idea shared on Twitter was laminating your “quick ticket” so students can reuse.

Give it a Try!

You can also use this tool in the classroom for a quick formative assessment check-in as well.  Keep in mind that this app only works with multiple choice.  It’s super simple to sign-up, register your students, and create a quiz.  As of now, the app is still free.  As always, feedback and/or comments are always welcomed.


2013 Global Read Aloud Reflection

It happened again.  My scholars and I have just completed another successful Global Read Aloud experience.  This was my second year participating in this project, and I’m already looking forward to 2014.  Thanks to Pernille Ripp for inspiring so many folks around the world to participate and create a culture of readers.  The true magic of this project truly comes from the incredible collaboration among teachers around the world. The sharing of ideas and thoughts gives me hope for the future of what’s possible in the education.

I also want to send an enormous thanks for Sharon Draper for writing such a fantastic story that opened up a world of conversation in my classroom.  Tears were shed, smiles were seen, laughter was heard, and anger was evident.  Do yourself a favor and read this book if you have not done so already.

How Did We Connect?

This year, my scholars mainly used Kidblog and Skype to collaborate with the classes we connected to.  We connected with classes in California, Pennsylvania, Winnipeg, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Iowa.  Using the power of Twitter and Edmodo, I was able to connect with fantastic teachers, one of  whom created a schedule for blog commenting.  The true power of Kidblog is about the commenting.  Each week, my students would make the pilgrimage to the computer lab to post their ideas, thoughts, and predictions.  Within 8-10 hours, the stream of comments would begin and global connections ensued.  Not only did my students have the flexibility to write their thoughts and ensure their voices and comments were heard, but they were able to augment their questioning skills and commenting skills in a way that was purposeful and focused. I had students, on their own accord, going home to blog about the book without any direction from me.  How cool is that?

Can We Read Mr. Sapia?

In addition to the above activities my students participated in, the magic really happened because students were excited about reading.  This is every teachers dream.  We promote literacy, share book recommendations, conference with students, listen to their voice in choosing the next read aloud book, and hope this transfers to a true love of books.  I view the Global Read Aloud as a true jumping point in instilling a passion for literacy in my classroom.  For example, the project started the same time that our school was hosting our book fair.  No lie, when my students were released to go and buy books and fill out their wish lists, 12 students ran directly to where “Out of My Mind” was on the shelf, and purchased them all.  It was such a great scene, because in addition to their excitement, the wonderful parents who volunteer could not believe what they just saw.  Students were passionately talking about the book, how excited they were to read it, and making predictions.

This did not come in the form of homework or direction by me.  That what makes this so powerful.  If we can be creative enough, we CAN reach all readers.  This “leveling of the playing field” was evident during our discussions.  As I’m sure is the case with many of you, I have students who vary in their reading ability. I watched students grow so much during this time.  There was increased participation during think-alouds, increased collaboration with all students, and thoughtful responses to questions that were posed.  I have readers who couldn’t wait to “Read with Someone” during their choice time at Reader’s Workshop.  This activity built their fluency, as well as comprehension because of their inner motivation to understand the story.  The best part is, I completely relinquished all control to students during this time and watched students remain immersed and focused on the book. Sometimes we have to just get out of our own way, but that’s a whole different blog post.

Not only did my students have exposure to an amazing book, but global collaborations were made and students were able to see outside the four walls of my classroom to build a global mindset.  Students were able to put names to faces during our Skype sessions with students they have connected with using Kidblog.  Prior to each Skype sessions, students worked in teams to generate questions to ask the other classes.  Once again, I got completely out of their way and they delivered! They felt empowered by this and loved being able to ask their questions.

So, what more is there to say.  Thanks to everyone for everything.  This project would not be what it was without all the amazing minds of passionate educators from around the world sharing a love for literacy.  We have an incredible connected community out “in the wild.” Let’s continue to harness this power and embraced the possibilities of what we can do in education.

Animoto Video:
Here is a brief Animoto video of some photos I took during the Global Read Aloud 2013.  Check out the photos of my students making their communication boards, like Melody’s in the story, and attempting to communicate using them.  Talk about a powerful activity!

2013 Global Read Aloud Montage Video


Connecting Globally Using Kidblog

Skyping with Mrs. Fox’s Class in California

Google Hangout with Sharon Draper