Friday, February 13, 2015

5 Benefits to the Global Classroom

Connecting is common place for students today. Students connect to people everyday via social media, gaming, and YouTube   Why not tap these connectivity tools for your classroom.  Globalizing your classroom is beneficial because it allows you access to experts, raise multicultural awareness, give students an authentic audience, provide opportunities for cooperative learning, and create a magical classroom environment.   

Let’s look at five benefits to the global classroom.

1.  Expertise
Let’s face it, we all can’t know everything.  In these days of tightening budgets, field trips may not be an option.  A perfect solution is to bring the experts and experiences to your classroom. Allowing students to connect with experts not only allows them to hear what they have to say, but to be inquisitive and ask questions.  Whether you participate in a Mystery Skype, explore a museum by a virtual field trip, join a global project, or bring in an expert to your students via a Google Hangout,  you will see direct educational benefits from the learning from their experiences.    

2.  Multicultural Awareness
The second best thing to traveling to a new country is connecting with a country via a video conference.  Having a class discussion with two classrooms in different countries increases student perspective and allows all students to gain new insight.  While literature and videos are great ways to learn about new cultures and different languages, there is no replacement for face time with individuals actually living a different culture and speaking a different language. In addition, students gain a global perspective, understand time zones, can identify cities and countries around the world, and enjoy a first hand learning experience.  Connected teachers often hang a world map in their rooms and track their hangouts with thumbtacks. This map becomes a great talking point, is a visual reminder of their experiences, and an excellent way to keep track of all the connections made throughout the school year.  

3.  Authentic Audience
What is the value of an audience beyond the classroom teacher?  Motivation! I have witnessed students blossom into incredible readers and writers with an authentic audience waiting to read and comment on their work.  Globalizing your classroom with blogging is powerful.  Suddenly, not only does writing matter, but word choice and grammar do too.  Our students have enjoyed being partnered with sister blogging classrooms. With blogging partners, classrooms takes turns in the blogging and commenting process.  One day your classroom adds comments, and the next day you write blog posts!  It is incredibly validating for writers to receive meaningful comments from around the world. An easy way to start blogging with students it to use .  Amplify your student work and join with other blogging classrooms using the hashtag #comments4kids on Twitter.  

4.Cooperative Learning and Collaboration  
Global classrooms foster cooperative learning experiences for students.  One such global classroom idea is Mystery Skype / Hangout.  Students participate in a class challenge to determine the location of the other classroom.  Mystery Skype is global geography game.  By asking a series of yes/no questions, students narrow the location of the mystery classroom. The first classroom to guess correctly wins!  This activity taps into deductive reasoning skills, collaboration, and previous geography knowledge. The students gain confidence in their mapping, geography, and questioning skills as they partake in more and more of these activities.  You can read more about Mystery Skype in a previous blog post here.

5.  Curious and  Magical Classroom Environments
The ARCS model of technology integration says “lessons should increase students’ focus by using novel, surprising and out of the ordinary and uncertain events.  Effective techniques should stimulate a sense of wonder and maintain interest.”  The global classroom provides daily opportunities that raise curiosity and create magical learning moments.  One magical moment was when two high school Spanish classes connected for genuine Spanish speaking practice.  As the other students appeared on the screen, it was as if a UFO landed in front of the classroom. They were glued to the new people on the screen. Students fired off questions in Spanish and began a dialogue back and forth. They were curious to learn more about each other.  This created an authentic speaking environment with a classroom over 1500 miles away.  Suddenly grammar and vocabulary mattered.  It is important to have global learning activities on the calendar so students can look forward to the next time they travel outside the classroom walls and connect with others.

Globalizing the classroom gives your students access to the world’s expertise, an raises multicultural awareness, provides an authentic audience, allows for cooperative learning opportunities, and a creates magical learning environments.

Challenge yourself to participate in one global learning project this year.  Use these resources as a springboard to connecting your classroom globally.

  • Join a Google Community such as Connected Classroom

Let's celebrate global classroom success stories.  Share your global classroom experiences by adding a comment to this post.

Written by Ann Feldmann


Monday, February 9, 2015

The Media Center/ Library: Hub of Creativity and Collaboration

Creating a library/media center with learning spaces conducive to collaboration and communication is essential for the library/media center of today.  Today’s students use the library/media center as more than a place for research. It is a place to utilize books, media, and digital tools to create, collaboration, and discover.  The library/media center at Lewis and Clark Middle School is the heart of creativity. It is centrally located in the middle of the building for easy access by all classes. The addition of iPads and Mac Airs increased the strength of the heartbeat.

Pat Smith, Librarian/Media Specialist at Lewis and Clark Middle School, and Roxie Kelly, Library/Media para, have developed a culture that meets the unique needs of middle school students and teachers.  Reinventing the library/media center space has been accomplished at little or no cost.  Learning spaces can be created easily to accommodate large groups, small groups, and individual work.  While the expectations of learning are high, there is also an emphasis on creation, innovation and collaboration.  Students are encouraged to move around, group and regroup themselves, and share ideas while using all the resources the library/media center has to offer.

Using iPads in the library/media center is part of the culture at Lewis and Clark. Students and staff seamlessly weave technology into their daily routine. Teachers can and do expect students to use the iPads or laptops for research, most often using Destiny as the gateway to the Internet.

When developing lesson plans, teachers choose technology as an option for students to demonstrate their learning. iMovie, iMovie Trailer, Haiku Deck, Explain Everything, Pic Collage, Keynote, WebMD, Accelerated Reader and Destiny are some of the most used applications.  Along with all of the tools and resources available in the library/media center, there is a green screen studio, fondly named Studio 3B. Recently, Mr. Bradley, an English teacher, had his students recreate a play based on the Twilight Zone using the green screen app Doink and Studio 3B. Also, eighth grade language arts students created digital books about a favorite author with the app Book Creator.

Here are some impressive numbers on the utilization of technology:

iPad usage at Lewis and Clark for 1st semester during regularly scheduled classes exceeded 5300 students. Also, 332 students dropped into the library/media center during Guided Study to take AR quizzes and use the iPads for research and projects.

Desktop Lab 130 - 335 class periods
Desktop Lab 131 - 270 class periods
MacAir Cart A - 372 class periods
MacAir Cart B - 394 class periods

Out of 648 class periods available during 1st semester, 424 were scheduled with classes. Communication and collaboration between the media center staff and the teaching staff is encouraged and sought after. The primary reason we do not use Google Calendar or another online scheduling tool to schedule time in the media center/computer labs is so that we can have one to one conversations with the teachers. This enables us to delve into the needs of the individual teacher and inquire about what the library/media center can provide in terms of suggestions and support.

The above statistics translate to approximately 9800 students served during the 1st semester. These statistics do not include drop-ins, as students are not tracked in 9th period Guided Study or other periods of the day.

Regardless of the time of day, the library/media center is full of students collaborating and creating with a variety of resources.  The heart of the school beats strong and flows into all curricular areas.  How are you utilizing your media center?  How does your  librarian/media specialist establish a culture of creation and collaboration in your building?

Written by Jeanette Carlson (@mrsjcarlson), Ann Feldmann (@annfeldmann1), and Jennifer Krzystowczyk (@jennykbps) in conjunction with Pat Smith.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Coding Captivates Bellevue Teachers

After having so much success and excitement with the Hour of Code, Bellevue Public Schools provided a follow up training for those teachers interested in learning more and moving their students beyond the Hour of Code. The training was provided by and led by Dr. Kent Steen. After completion of the training, teachers received the Code Studio curriculum for free, which is geared for elementary students grades K-5.

Participants enjoyed the variety of activities in this fast-paced session.  “The courses blend online, self-guided and self-paced tutorials with “unplugged” activities that require no computer at all. Each course consists of about 20 lessons that may be implemented as one unit or over the course of a semester, ” according to the website.   

Computer science related jobs continue to grow at an accelerated pace yet courses and curriculum remain sparse across the United States. According to the website, there are 3,680 open computing jobs in Nebraska and only 557 computer science graduates, while only 36 schools teach computer science.  An exposure to coding concepts at an early age help foster a love of computer science and will help improve these numbers. Empowering teachers with the tools to confidently lead students down this path are the first steps to coding kids.  “There's a big difference between knowing how to use technology and knowing how to create technology,” said Steen.  With these tools teachers will be able to encourage and support the creation of technology.

Steen kicked off the high energy training with a combination of movement, music, collaboration, problem solving, humor, and even juggling! Teachers were actively engaged in their learning all day.  In addition, teachers completed 15 of their own code puzzles online and practiced teaching a lesson to other attendees in a concept called Teacher-Learner-Observer (T-L-0). In cooperative groups, teachers developed a lesson and taught their peers. It was exciting to see the different ways there were to teach the same lesson. For example, in a lesson on graph paper programming, we had activities ranging from dancing to using a graphing whiteboard. Teachers saw how easy coding tied to their curriculum. “Teaching looping in coding is like teaching repeated addition and multiplication,” said Lisa Keene, 4th grade teacher.  

Steen referred to the Computational Thinking Practices that include the 3 C’s and 2 P’s:  Collaboration, Creativity, Communication, Persistence, and Problem Solving. These skills are also found in the ISTE NETS-T standards too. Teachers were quick to see the correlation to these computational practices as they
worked through the activities led by Dr. Steen. “I Love the collaboration piece of using computer science with students,” said Susan Schildhauer, media specialist.  “Coding is a real world skill.”

This interactive and upbeat training left teachers with multiple ideas for implementing coding into their classroom ranging from after school clubs to summer school classes.  “I am thinking of doing a semester of code with my 4th grade students,” said Garrett Sims. Another idea was to expand on coding in the summer.  “I also thought about coding as a summer school course,” said Lisa Keene, 4th grade teacher at Leonard Lawrence.

Enjoy this video that captures the day in images and words.

Are you coding with your students?  Drop us a comment and share your favorite coding stories with us.  

Thursday, January 8, 2015

What's Your Word?

It’s 2015 and time to rejuvenate attitudes, outlooks, and energies.  We have written posts in the past about taking care of yourself as an educator or tips and tricks for staying relevant in the new year.  We kicked off this year by showcasing a video by Jon Gordon (@JonGordon11) as part of a recent training with our iPad Academy members.  The concept involves deciphering your personal obstacles and dreams, then settling on one word that will help you move forward.  

It is difficult to live up to a list of goals throughout the year, but our hope is that one word will help teachers reach their goals within their classrooms.  New Year’s resolutions are made and often times broken within a few months. According to CBS News, research shows that 88% of Americans fail to follow through with their goals because they take on too much. So why not try a one word focus for the year? Instead of making things so complex, keep it simple says Dan Britton and Jimmy Page, Authors of “One Word That Will Change Your Life.”

Recently, at our iPad Academy collaboration, we had our teachers ponder their word, share it, and then write their one word on a clothespin.  They clipped their pins on the wire frame, which created a wreath similar to the one we used earlier in the year.  The words included anything from inspired to collaborate, to overcome, trust, believe, and innovate.  Forty three words as unique as the 43 educators in the room.  

We plan on using the wreath throughout the year as a reminder to our group of their words.   It will be fun to reflect throughout the year to see if our words are still the focus of what we do. Jenny’s word is faith, Ann’s is together, and Jeanette’s is balance.

These words are meant to be shared!  Next month, we will be following up with our teachers on a creative project using the words. We hope to create an alphabet book of one words, make creative projects in Canva, blog about the words, and send one word happy-grams to our teachers. We will also be sharing the words with the world via Twitter.  We have posted our words boldly where they can be seen every day as a reminder of the one word that will transcend all we do this year.  

As John F. Kennedy stated, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

What’s your word?  If you have one, please share it and leave us a comment.  We love hearing from you!

Written by, Ann Feldmann, Jeanette Carlson & Jenny Krzystowczyk
@annfeldmann1, @mrsjcarlson,  & @jennykbps

Shout out to Laura Kroll (@mandery) for sharing the CBS clip and one word inspiration.  

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Bellevue Kids are Coding!

This year The Hour of Code had the goal of reaching 100 million participants.  The Hour of Code took place from December 8-14 during Computer Science Week. It was sponsored by people such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. People across the world were encouraged to complete one hour of code. While the goal wasn’t quite met, they did reach approximately 80,000,000 people, and 4,300,000,000 lines of code were written by students.  That is an amazing accomplishment for something that sounds very difficult.  Here in Bellevue we had students six to 18 participating in the Hour of Code.   

The truth is coding isn’t all that hard.  With websites like  and apps like Tynker, Kodable, Lightbot, and Cargo-bot anyone can do it.  All our students had to do was give coding a try for one hour.  Skills like critical problem solving and patterning are taught through coding and all of the activities are individualized through the sites and apps.  Kids were challenged and successful in creating programs and video games through coding!  

Here are some of the amazing quotes overheard during coding:
  • “There are jobs where you do this?” -Lauren, high school student
  • “This is hard, but I really like it!” -Madison, third grade student
  • “This is fun and it makes my brain really move!” - Brady, third grade student
  • “Look at this, look what I did! I unlocked the rainbow! - Preston, first grade student
  • "I could feel the power of thinking in my classroom during Hour of Code! The kiddos lit up the classroom with their excitement in every line they created!" - Megan Cinfel, 1st grade teacher
  • “This is the greatest thing I’ve ever done.” - Darin, 2nd grade student
  • "Our students live in a technology driven world. When my students participated in the hour of code not only were they 100% engaged and excited,  they were creating and problem solving. Every student felt empowered with each success along the way." - Monica Evon, 4th Grade Teacher
  • “ I started to learn how to code on a Commodore 64 that plugged into a tiny 10" TV when I was in 4th grade. It was awesome to watch my own 4th graders begin their Introduction to Coding during the Hour of Code. It brought back a lot of memories for me. I also told the class about a 15 year old kid named Michael who learned about coding when he was their age. Michael is just starting high school but already has 5 Apps available in the App Store. So we downloaded one called "Color Deception". The students had a blast with the App and I think some of them started to realize that you don't have to be an adult to code.” - Garrett Sims, 4th grade teacher
  • "Coding = Problem Solving  I like how students work together or alone to solve a problem. They think its fun and a challenge. I also like how they experienced success very quickly and how determined they were to solve the puzzle and get it right. No one gave up!" - Terrie Brown, 2nd grade teacher.

There are not enough Americans to fill all the coding jobs out there.  According to Forbes, The Bureau of Labor Statistics is predicting that jobs for what it calls “computer and information research scientists” will increase by 19% between 2010 and 2020, a healthy rate. For software developers, the forecast is even better, with a projected growth rate of 30%. Coding is a necessary skill for careers of the future.  The Hour of Code and the abundant resources available makes it easy for every student in the United States to give coding a try. Becoming a computer scientist is one of the hot careers for the next 10 years. As President Obama said, “Don’t just consume things, create things.”

Want to know more or encourage your students to learn coding?  
For students who wish to continue coding all year long, there are a lot of resources on for beyond the hour of code. Both the high schools offer coding courses and students in elementary and middle school can participate in after school robotics clubs to continue to hone their skills.   

Want to fuel the coding passion in teachers?

According to the site, “ has developed an elementary school curriculum that allows even the youngest students to explore the limitless world of computing- at no cost for schools. The courses blend online, self-guided and self-paced tutorials with “unplugged”activities that require no computer at all. Each course consists of about 20 lessons that may be implemented as one unit or over the course of a semester. Even kindergarten-aged pre-readers can participate.  To find a workshop near you, click here.

We are thrilled that Ken Steen, a trainer, will be offering the Coding for Teachers in-service mentioned above on January 10th from 10:00-4:00 at Lewis and Clark Middle School. This is a tremendous learning opportunity for our K-5 teachers and the workshop filled shortly after registration opened.  Teachers will receive training and curriculum materials to use with their students so they can code all year long.  

We were truly inspired by the determination and problem solving skills the students in Bellevue Public Schools displayed while participating in the hour of code. We hope you will follow in their footsteps and give and hour of code a try.

Written by: 
Jenny Krzystowczyk @jennykbps
Ann Feldmann @annfeldmann1
Jeanette Carlson @mrsjcarlson

Works Cited
"The Cities With The Most Computer Science Jobs." Forbes. Forbes Magazine. Web. 11 Dec. 2014. <>.
"President Obama Kicks off the Hour of Code 2014." YouTube. YouTube. Web. 11 Dec. 2014. <>.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Look Back to Move Forward: 10 Things You Don't Want to Leave Behind

2014 turned out to be a great tech year!  There were new iOS devices and operating systems. We were able to work across devices and laptops seamlessly.  The sharing of information, photos, and documents became easier and easier as the year went on thanks to Apple.  For our teachers, there seemed to be an endless supply of new learning opportunities to stay on top of effective teaching practices using technology.  Many people jumped on the opportunity to use The Hour of Code to get students involved in basic coding skills.  Genius Hour or 20% Time took off as a way to engage kids in their own passion for learning and online design tools like Canva made online publishing beautiful for anyone!  

Here are a list of 10 things we think you should take into 2015.  This list has the staying power to sustain your love of integrating technology in the classroom for months to come.  

  1. #HourofCode: Did you know 48 million people signed up to participate in the hour of code this year?  There are not enough Americans to fill all the coding jobs out there?  According to a Forbes, The Bureau of Labor Statistics is predicting that jobs for what it calls “computer and information research scientists” will increase by 19% between 2010 and 2020, a healthy rate. For software developers the forecast is even better, with a projected growth rate of 30%. coding is necessary skill for careers of the future.  The hour of code and the abundant resources available makes it easy for every student in the United States to give coding a try. Becoming a computer scientist is one of the hot careers for the next 10 years.  Check out for tutorials and more coding opportunities for students beyond the Hour of Code. As President Obama said, “Don’t just consume things, create things.
  2. Genius Hour or 20% time:  What is genius hour? According to, “Genius hour is a movement that allows students to explore their own passions and encourages creativity in the classroom.  It provides students a choice in what they learn during a set period of time during school.  It’s not easy to determine where the idea was originally created, but there are at least two events that have impacted genius hour.”  Teachers are finding as they implement genius hour, there is a shift in classroom energy. Students are fueled with drive and curiosity is rekindled.  This engagement leads to new ideas, inventions, and new levels of learning. A hot new book is Pure Genius: Building a Culture of Innovation and Taking 20% Time to the Next Level by Don Wettrick.  “One of the benefits to a passion-based project is that students learn to love learning,” Wettrick said on page 31 in his book.
  3. Connected Educators:  One of the ways to be inspired is to learn from other educators. Bob Dillion (@ideaguy42 ), keynote speaker at the Fall NETA conference in Kearney, NE, challenged us to find five people who do our job better than we do and learn from them. What better place than Twitter, Google +, or Facebook to learn from others. The website is a great resource to help you get connected. Here are 12 great ways to get connected.
  4. Canva: Canva, is a free online design platform.  Canva lets you create banners, posters, postcards and more for online publishing.  Students can use Canva to create images to post to or their own websites.  It can be used as an alternative to posters or collages.  It is also a great tool for infographics.  Most designs are free and those that are not free are only $1.00.  
  5. #tlap:  Teach Like A Pirate has taken off since last summer and hasn’t slowed down a bit!  We have used Dave Burgess’ (@burgessdave)  book for online book studies, in-person trainings, and all around inspiration for shifting attitudes about teaching and filling teachers with the enthusiasm they once had for our profession.  The hashtag #tlap has a huge following on Twitter and is worth a few minutes a day for inspiration and fresh ideas.
  6. Google Classroom:  Google Classroom is a great way to manage your classroom with or without a 1 to 1 set-up. Teachers can use Classroom to send assignments to students, make announcements, and grade student work all from your computer. This is a one stop shop for students and teachers to connect. We are seeing many clubs and organizations using Google Classroom also. Student council, sport teams, NHS organizations, and clubs have found great uses for Google Classroom.
  7. Google+ Hangouts:  Google+ Hangouts provide a variety of opportunities for teachers and students alike. Imagine connecting with another classroom in a different state, or country, for that matter and having your students participate in an activity where they ask descriptive questions to figure out where the other class is locate. This is a Mystery Hangout. Each student is assigned a role, including mappers, questioners, and videographers. It is a great collaborate activity that all ages and disciplines can benefit from. You can also use Hangouts to connect with experts and bring them into your classroom. How about connecting with a zoo and talking about habitats or an astronaut and talking about space exploration, or connect with a musician and play music together. As a teacher, you can use Hangouts to connect with other educators and discuss ideas and best practices. The options are truly endless. Find great people in the Google Plus Connected Classrooms community.
  8. Global Projects:  Global projects take the shape of many different learning activities.  One that we love is the global readaloud.  This was started by an 7th grade English educator, Pernille Ripp,  who wanted to connect students across the world through literature.  Tapping into the Google Connected Classrooms Community is another great way for educators to connect with others and create your own activity. For example, Spanish classrooms in Bellevue connected with a Spanish class in Alabama for a conversation activity.  Students enjoyed using their  conversational Spanish with a purpose and had fun meeting new friends too.  Project Based Learning (PBL)  is another way to facilitate global projects as PBL lends itself to utilizing connections throughout the world to make their projects happen.  Check out the Flat Connections Global Classroom Project and sign up for a 2015 global learning experience for your students. Students of all ages can participate.
  9. EdtechTeam iOS NE Summit: Definitely look for this in 2015!!!  This one is so hot, it sizzles! For the first time ever,  Bellevue Public Schools will be hosting the Nebraska  iOS Summit this summer, July 29-30 at Bellevue West High School!  This will be an amazing event for educators. This event will focus on the use of technology to support teaching and learning. The session will be intended for an audience of teachers, school leaders, and IT managers (with varying technology skills) from schools in the region. The content will focus on iPads, iOS and educational apps used to leverage learning in the classroom.  Not only will there be high caliber national presenters, there will also be amazing local presenters too! Registration is open and you and your friends can register here at:

10.  #Edcamps: Edcamps are still all the rage and gaining momentum across the country.  As long as people attend and share content, edcamps will continue to be a popular venture for committed, innovative educators.  Edcamps are basically non-conference conferences where there is no schedule, no keynote speakers, and NO COST!   Edcamps are free for educators, but does accept donations to help keep it afloat.  Check out an edcamp near you!  If you are in the midwest, you won’t want to miss #EdcampOmaha which is coming March 21, 2015.  

Written by:
Jeanette Carlson @mrsjcarlson
Ann Feldmann @annfeldmann1
Jenny Krzystowczyk @jennykbps

Works Cited
"The Cities With The Most Computer Science Jobs." Forbes. Forbes Magazine. Web. 11 Dec. 2014. <>.
"President Obama Kicks off the Hour of Code 2014." YouTube. YouTube. Web. 11 Dec. 2014. <>.