Wednesday, July 23, 2014

GAFE in the classroom

GAFE is a newly implemented tool that my school has begun using to increase communication, collaboration and scheduling.  Below are some examples of how we have used it in the past...

1) Schedules for room usage.  We have limited rooms available for sensory needs, seclusion/restraint, pull-out instruction and pull-out for testing so it is essential that we stay organized and well planned.  GAFE has allowed us the convenience of collaborating and communicating when we need certain rooms without sitting down and having a formal face-to-face meeting to discuss this.

2) School wide academic schedule.  The school can all have access and input over the summer to make suggestions and catch errors in the schedule.  The comment tab on the bottom was created to open up dialogue and everyone's voice can be heard. 

3) Team meeting minutes.  Each team can have everyone's full attention and only one person recording notes.  Everyone has access to view the notes at any time.  It has made communication with service providers great because they often have other meetings occurring at the same time so this allows everyone to be on the same page.

4) Long range plans-  These are shared with all grade levels and administration.  During the long range planning multiple people can be adding in information and dates.  We have found it best to divide and conquer. 

Now our goal for this upcoming school year will be to get students involved in using GAFE for project based learning and collaborating.

EDCAMP video on GAFE... click here

Live Binder Tips & Tricks

Okay so after playing around with Live Binder, I started uploading and organizing all my materials from the grade I was in last year (3rd grade).  Everything that was on my computer/hard drive is now saved in my Live Binder.  Here are 5 important things that I learned...

1)  Creating a binder takes less than 2 minutes and is EASY AND FREE!

2)  You can create multiple tabs (so you are not limited to just 3).  AND you can create subtabs within those tabs.

3)  Color coding the tabs is an option so you can stay organized!

4)  You can upload resources that are saved on your computer or find resources on the internet (videos, blogs, dropbox etc.)

5)  Privacy settings can maintain confidentiality if you are putting student information in your binder.  For example, you could have a portfolio for each of your students and keep data and work samples handy and organized!  Now if you want to share resources with another teacher, parent or student, you can create a password to allow them (and only them) access.

There is soo much more!  Great way to store files and information.  I plan on using this tool to keep and collect data on students so I have everything digitally stored for parent teacher conferences.  I could snap a picture of student work and then upload it.  Depending on county policy I will most likely be using student initials instead of full names in order to play it safe.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Skype in the Classroom

Ways I have used Skype in the classroom and ways I have envisioned using Skype in the classroom...

  • I had a parent (who was stationed over seas in Afghanistan) Skype in for all plays, band & choir performances and class productions.
  • For our school's "bump" day we could have each classroom be paired with a lower and higher grade level classroom to see where they will be next year and introduce them to some current students in the grade above them as well as the teacher.  This will also help to minimize the schedule changes and logistical nightmare that this day has been in years past.
  • It would be great to record lessons and send video messages of important lessons to students who were absent or to parents who want to know HOW we are teaching certain concepts (such as common core math).
  • Parents could volunteer to Skype in and be the guest speaker on relevant topics that they are experts on.  Parents could Skype in to the younger grades and do read alouds.

Watch how this school in California incorporated Skype in their instruction to connect student learning with peers across the world!  Click here!

Video Tutorials

Share your screen via

How to send a video

Group video

Eyejot in the classroom

Here is a sample eyejot video message I created so you know what the browser will look like when opened.

Now how can we use eyejot as a tool for instruction?  

  • Create a welcome message for students when you are absent
    • This will set the expectation that they are still to keep your rules in mind when a substitute is present.  
    • It will get students to understand (possibly) why you had to be absent but also lets them know that you wish you could be there with them.
    • You can convey important information or reminders for students without the fear that a substitute will forget to remind students of something important.
  • Create an introductory video message for parents
    • As parents give you their email addresses, you can create a personalized (or generic but warm) video message introducing yourself and relaying important information.
    • Parents can do the same back to you.  This visual message helps to decrease the chance of miscommunication or understandings that sometimes happen via emails or text messages.
  • Have students create video messages for any of the following occasions...
    • public speaking practice
    • read a short story to younger students via a video message
    • provide peers with verbal feedback for peer editing assignments
    • praise other students for positive behavior
    • send recordings with questions and dialogue about a particular book students are reading to students in a different school that are reading the same text
    • send their teacher a video message (for questions, concerns or individual feedback)
  • Also please refer to other ideas I mentioned previously in a post about ways to use eyejot within instruction (principal feedback, parents can message their children etc.).

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Live Binder

Live Binder!
What a great tool to store resources electronically and keep them organized!  I have so many 3 ring binders that house my resources for lessons for grades K-5.  As a special educator I can be placed in any of the 6 grades each year so I consider myself a hoarder of lesson plans for all those grades.  Now I tend to have to get rid of MANY of those binders with a constantly changing curriculum and new ways we are told is "best practices" for teaching and instructing students.  So I think that having an electronic version of all these resources would be fabulous!  The clean up would be much neater too :)

Anyways... on to the tool...
Here are some neat features, tips and facts about this particular tool...

  • It is free! :)
  • Versatile & can provide resources for students, substitutes, parents, teachers, administration and more!
  • Can be accessed on iPads, iPhones, Android App, Chrome App, Computers
  • The site provides users with free tutorials, trainers/content & grade specific "experts", and sample binders.
Here is what you get for your money...

And, side note--> 
 Check out this great example that works as a resource for examples of flipped learning!


Over the past five years our school has grown quite a bit.  We now have over 750 students in grades K-5.  We went from having 2 administrators to four.  Now within these five years communication issues have emerged.  The greatest communication struggles occur between staff members.  Information is not disseminated efficiently and colleagues are not collaborating effectively.  However this past year we began to use GAFE to try and solve some of those communication errors and it has made a tremendous difference.  GAFE has solved problems relating to scheduling (by using the calendar app), collaborating on lessons with co-teachers (using google docs) and organizing and collecting data school-wide (using excel spreadsheets). 

Now with that being said, here are some of the features and basics to keep in mind...

  • It is completely free
  • It can be used for collaborating with colleagues 
  • It can be used with students
  • Everything is backed up and stored without the fear of losing it when your computer crashes
  • Stay connected on any of these devices...
  • Connect with others across the country or in the same classroom
  • Connect live time or at different hours
  • Store lesson plans here instead of in filing cabinets (Go Green!)
  • Applications are simple and easy to use
Here are a few tutorials that me and my co-workers have found helpful...

Friday, July 18, 2014


Skype is a widely used tool for connecting with friends and family whether near or far.  People all over the world use this tool to have live video sessions with one another.  And it does not only apply to just two people.  Groups can come together as use Skype to communicate.  One downfall that I have found with Skype is that the users most both be online to communicate in a live call.  It requires a bit of planning and coordinating schedules but I have found it is well worth it!  So to answer some questions you may have....
  • Is Skype free? ...YES
  • Can I use it on my phone? ...YES (as long as you have an online connection)
  • Do I need an account? ...Yes but it is easy to do and free!
  • Can I make calls to landlines or cell phones?  Yes, for a small fee!
  • Can I send/receive text messages using Skype? Yes, and again for a small fee
  • What devices can I use Skype on?  For a complete list of all devices, please click here
  • What do I need to get started?
    • webcam
    • headset
    • internet connection
 For more information and to read other blogs about the latest trends and tips about Skype, click here :)