Tag Archives: science

TIES 2014 Education Technology Conference-Flipped Classroom Technology: Blended Learning for All Students

There are a lot of teachers and tech integration coaches geared up right now.  The countdown is on!  The 2014 MN TIES Education Technology Conference is taking place December 6-9th.  My co-presenter, Mike Henderson, and I are excited to share tips and tools for creating blended learning activities for students of all ages.  After seeing our presentation, your previous ideas about blended learning may be challenged.  What many teachers once thought was for older students is now applicable to even elementary age students.  I promise that those attending our session will walk away with ideas and strategies that can be put into practice right away.  With Augmented Reality (AR) at the heart of our presentation, be prepared to gain the skills to “wow” your students and increase engagement in the classroom.

Read below to learn more about the tech tools that we are using to deliver content to students.  You will see step-by-step guides that you can easily follow to navigate the technology successfully.  In addition, you will also see real examples of lessons that students are completing.  Take off your teacher hat and view the activities from the eyes of a student.

Attending our session on Monday, Dec. 8th?  (11 a.m. Lake Superior B)  Download and print the student examples below that will be referenced during our presentation.  You know you will be glad you did!

image credit: www.clipartpanda.com
image credit: http://www.clipartpanda.com


Flipped Classroom Technology: Blended Learning for All Students

(Download the above brochure to learn more about creating blended learning activities for students of any age.)



image credit: stream.goodwin.drexel.edu

Layar How-To


Clicimage credit: mms.monticello.schoolfusion.usk on the links below to see actual examples of elementary ELA, Science, and Social Studies learning activities.  Use the free “Layar” app, on your mobile device, to interact with each activity and experience it from the standpoint of a student.


Moon Layar Activity

Language Arts Layar Activity

Police Officers Layar Activity

image credit: itunes.apple.com
image credit: itunes.apple.com

image credit: stream.goodwin.drexel.edu

Creating a Nearpod Presentation How-To 2014



Nearpod is a great tool that you can use to create interactive slide presentations.  Gone are the days of just listening to teachers talk.  Now, students can listen, respond to teacher questions, and interact with their peers on a whole new level.  The new homework feature is also and easy way to present content to students.  They can complete the activities at a later time in class or even at home.  You have the option of having students work independently or in a cooperative learning situation.

image credit: mms.monticello.schoolfusion.us

Click on the link below to see the activity sheet that elementary students use to complete a Nearpod homework activity.


Nearpod homework example-flipped timeline activity

QR Codes

Using QR Codes to Flip Handwriting Instruction

image credit: mms.monticello.schoolfusion.us

Olympic Themed Handwriting Activities

Click on the link below to see a QR code sheet that contains handwriting demonstrations created with the “ShowMe” app.

Flipped handwriting lessons

What do students do after they complete a handwriting assignment in their handwriting journals?  They turn it in for teacher review.  To reinforce correct letter formation, I have set up a system where students can work towards a prize.  Each assignment successfully completed means that I cross off one olympic symbol on the child’s tracking sheet.  When the sheet is filled up, the child earns a handwriting certificate and a medal.

can write like an Olympian Click here to see the tracking sheet described above.

Click here to read an earlier post explaining how I use QR codes to flip my handwriting instruction.

Interested in seeing other ways that QR codes can be used in your classroom?  Click here to see!

If you have never flipped a lesson, or if you teach elementary or middle school, the above resources may give you a lot to think about.  If you have already been using tech to deliver content to students, my hope is that you  might find a great tool here that can help you refine the process and make it easier.  Whatever the case may be, remember to start slow.  Don’t get overwhelmed and quit.  Begin with one step at a time.  Enjoy the process and the discoveries that you and your students will make.  It will be a fun ride and you will that both you, and your students, will be more engaged as a result!

Any questions?  Feel free to contact me via email at bsimo@gk12.net or Twitter (@BillieRengo).

See you Monday!


Inquiry Learning

comprehension and collaboration

I have had the privilege of working with a wonderful team of teachers. I am in the home stretch of my tenth year of teaching and I often will look back to my first years. I marvel at how little I really knew, but then feel blessed that my fellow colleagues had freely shared best practice instructional strategies.

Now, several years later, and a lot wiser, I understand the true purpose behind what we did. For example, in Science, our team leader developed a wonderful unit about the sun, Earth, and moon that required students to research self-selected questions and communicate new learning. Kids loved doing this then and continue to this day!

“Comprehension and Collaboration,” by well known authors Harvey Daniels and Stephanie Harvey, helped me understand the purpose, and rewards, of fostering collaboration in our classrooms. Reading this book came at just the right time for me since Wisconsin educators are looking at the new “Smarter Balanced Assessment” that their students will soon be taking. High school students will be expected to research a topic together and will be assessed on the outcome. I couldn’t wrap my head around it initially. (I was always one who did well on tests and I loved to demonstrate what I learned. My grade was in my own hands and this was reassuring to me.) That was until I read this book. The truth of the matter is that is what employers are looking for. They desire individuals who can collaborate and work together towards a common goal.

As a literacy coach in my district, I have led traditional book studies with teachers over the last few years. This year we went the non-traditional route. Our study was designed around the inquiry circle format to give teachers the experience of selecting questions they wanted answered about reader’s workshop, and then researching and collaborating to find the answers. This is just what students would experience.

What did the group decide to research about reader’s workshop? They wondered how to best structure their reader’s workshop block to meet the needs of all learners. They also wanted to learn more about about the schedules other middle school teachers from different districts have.

The last step in the process is “taking the learning public.” This isn’t really different than what we have done in the past. (O.k…well it is really different if you relied on question/answer type worksheets to assess student understanding…) Students are given the opportunity to choose a way to synthesize what they have learned and share it with those around them. Their audience could be fellow classmates or even the public. This crucial step prompts them to take what they learned, put it into their own words, and then gives them the freedom to choose a format that fits well with their learning styles. Tech savy kids can create videos or blog posts, visual learners can show of their creativity by making a poster. The possibilities are limitless.

Oh, and did I mention the number of Common Core Standards that inquiry learning addresses? It’s astounding. Because I don’t believe in everyone re-inventing the wheel in education, I am sharing the inquiry timeline/format that I created for the study in my district. I am also including some sample response options. Some are ones that belong to my students and others are ones that I created myself because I never just talk with others about something when I am presenting something new. I try it myself. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the inquiry process.

Narwahls (Click on the link to the left to view an example of how a first grader synthesized her new learning and answered her guiding research questions.)

The above video is an example of how a visual learner might exercise their creativity and put together a project that outlines a reader’s workshop block to help viewers visualize the concepts being shared.

Sample Response Option Journal (Click on the link to the left to see another response option.  This one is a journal entry in which I reflect upon how I have implemented reader’s workshop and how my understanding of reading instruction has developed and been refined over the past several years of my teaching career.)

2013MiddleSchoolBookStudy (1) (Click on the link to the left if you are interested in studying the book “Comprehension and Collaboration” by Harvey and Daniels and are interested in trying inquiry learning for yourself.)