Toy to Tool

Before teaching, I just didn’t get it. I would see kids with tablets, smartphones and tech watches, and my first thought was the kids were missing out on a fun/dirty/spastic childhood like I grew up with. These technology natives have grown up with a completely different childhood experience, then ever before. I originally saw technology as a toy making kids antisocial and uncharismatic. I was sad for our next generation.

As a teacher, technology is a tool that not only engages learners, but gives students more experiences and data then ever before. Edutopia describes technology to be either “a bridge or a barrier.” For teachers it’s difficult to not let  technology add “fluff.” Technology should enrich and give perspective to each lesson.

Mobile learning is now the natural progression with technology. Students did not grow up the way I did, so students should not be expected to learn like I did. Students are already in engaged with technology, so as teachers I believe it’s our job to teach students how to use technology to learn.

Going into my third year of teaching, I now feel more comfortable incorporating technology more often. Technology certainly engages students, however many times it adds another component of the lesson. Teaching little ones, the transition time has to be almost seamless, as to not loose the student’s attention. I often describe my classroom as controlled chaos, adding technology at times seems like a daunting task.

A mobile classroom may seem like a daunting task but it’s one we must face, because having engaged technology driven class is so beneficial to the learner.

  • Preparing Students for the Future:

    • Our job as teachers, is to prepare students for the future. To prepare these students for their future, mobile learning is a must. Jobs nationally and abroad rely on technology heavily, to be in the classroom environment using mobile learning students are allowed to explore and ask questions in a supportive atmosphere. Students need to learn to use this technology and learning this in the classroom is the first step.
  • Current Learning:

    • I have this science book in the classroom that still says Pluto is a planet…. with a mobile classroom those days are over. Students are learning the most up to date information and have access to research, data, and opinions. My dad always tells to me “check the source” before believing the information.  It is so easy to watch a youtube video, read articles or a tweet and quickly jump to a conclusion. Teaching mobile technology, we can educate students on the value of the source and the importance of integreity.
  • Alternative Learning:

    • Mobile learning can reach all different learners. It has the flexibility to engage and extend to different styles of learning.
  • Expanding the Classroom:

    • Field trips are expensive, so they are limited per school year. Mobile learning technology allows students to expand outside the classroom virtually without leaving the actual classroom. Students can connect with scientist, experts, and other kids easily, gaining valuable information in seconds
    • Students are able to use digital tools, mobile notes instantly, their learning materials are readily available. Students can study and learn on their downtime, without the hassle of textbooks and binders.



Teacher Evaluation

Unit 4: Student and Teacher Evaluations

Module 6: Student Assessments

This year I taught third grade. This was my second year teaching, and I was evaluated frequently. Being observed pushed me to create more engaging lesson plans and step out of the box a bit more. Teacher evaluations allow for self reflection and peer evaluation. I can honestly say I was harder on myself then any teacher or administrator was. This year I was evaluated using three different approaches including informal, rubric and peer evaluations. These evaluations gave me different feedback, which enhanced my teaching.

Evaluations effect pay, hire status and position significance of an instructor. These evaluations differ all over the country.  Evaluations can be done by an administrator, chair head or consultant. All three evaluations are done by observing the teacher during a lesson and providing feedback. In my school an administrator observes formally and informally throughout the school year. I met with the administrator twice, which provided feedback and comments. The administrator used a rubric to help guide discussion. Unlike with teach now, I did not see the rubric before being evaluated. When I was evaluated by my mentor I knew exactly what she would be grading me on. I believe this helped me to become a better teacher. One week when I was being observed using 21st century technology, I used the whole week to test myself. I tried technology I wouldn’t usually engage with. After the week I found myself turning to new technology because it wasn’t so new anymore.  Some counties have decided to bring in consultants to evaluate teachers. I believe this could be effective because teachers are being compared to other teachers in the county and not just the school. I would think it would be difficult for consultants to understand the classroom culture and challenges the teacher may have been faced with. A consultant would only get a snapshot of what the instructor in capable of, if they are only evaluating one lesson.

I believe teachers should be evaluated on the classroom culture, presentation of content, and behavior management. I believe if one is missing then a teacher is not being fully effective in the classroom. I think classroom culture is important because it is our job as educators for students to feel loved and supported. Students won’t learn if they are uncomfortable. Teachers teach in all different way, and students learn in all different ways. Teachers should be creative and engaging in the content they are teaching. Teachers should be held to high standards in evaluations so they are constantly improving.







Activity 3: Pre-Assessment for Differentiation

In my third grade this year I had a wide range of ability. It was sometimes a struggle bringing together my Exploring, Emerging and Experts into engaged learning. For core subjects such as reading and math I have centers that help me reach all levels of learning. For science and socials studies I find it a bit more difficult to reach all learners. This year I used pre-assesment to understand prior knowledge and find out more about what students know.

Unit: Movement and Energy

I love teaching science due to the endless opportunities to do project based learning. Based on the pre- assessment results I created 2 different projects. My Exploring and Emerging groups completed the same hands on activity, but then had to apply what they have learned in different ways. These students completed week long mini projects and activities. Students kept a journal that tracked how the term related to the project or activity. The Emerging group was asked to writing about the connection to the term. My exploring group discussed with the teacher then needed to write the term in their journal.

My expert group, completed whole different project during this time. This year we worked a lot on readers theater. Since I know they were comfortable with this format I created a project where the students had to create a play where they applied a term such a momentum, push & pull, friction, energy, weight to a real life example. Students were paired in a group where they typed up a play, created props and presented the play to the class. This play acted as their assesment and a review for other students. Students in this group were given resources such as hand out and books to help create their play.

Pre- Assessment for Energy and Motion:Quiz_energymotionpreassessment.pdf

Pre- Assessment Results Lesson Differentiation:


High Stakes Testing

Every day of elementary school I knew I was one of the students who teachers were secretly hoping I would be absent on a test day. I was one of the students that brought the very competitive school’s scores down. I knew the teachers liked me and wanted me to do well, but when push come to shove, I was a hindrance.  This is not uncommon from other schools, according to npr, low income schools post scores outside their door.They are sending a message,”That we care about you as a person and everything, but what really matters is the score that you post in April.”  (Kamenetz, 2015)  Testing to this day gives me anxiety.

High stakes testing is the bitter sweet topic of conversation among educators. I teach in a small catholic school, and we test our students three times a year. This is nothing compared to Maryland Public Schools whom test students for 90minutes twice in core subjects areas according to the “Locally, State, and Federally Mandated Test in Maryland.” As a teacher in private school, I am given the data immediately to guide instruction. I find it very valuable as a teacher. The parents however, find it as a set and stone projection of their child. Parents see it as a direct reflection of the teaching occurring in the school. I interviewed a Maryland public school teacher and she shared that she finds the PARCC grueling and time consuming. Mrs. Kass’s fifth graders have tested  for almost two weeks and the PARCC is the the center attention at the school. She shared she “felt bad for the children.”

Reading another cohort members blog, got me thinking of the alternative to high stakes testing. I do understand why testing in completed. It shares valuable data about districts and states. We can’t be competitive with other countries if we don’t know where we stand. This data has improved many schools. Because science scores were very low there was a huge push to incorporate more STEM activities in schools. Government and Businesses have supported our national stance to incorporate Science in all schools around the nation. I have seen our school grow personally from the grants available because of the want to incorporate STEM.  Two alternatives to high stakes testing according to National Education Association is project based learning assesment and a work sampling system. The project based learning assessment allows students to be given a problem in a subject, solve it, and then defend their  written decision making process orally. Students are able to use problems solving skills, presentation skills, and creativity to share an idea. Another alternative to high stakes testing is a sampling system. This system involves teachers holding on to classroom material when students demonstrate certain skill. This is a great representation of students ability to grow throughout the year. These high stakes assessments allow for flexibility. Students also have more control over their success.









formative assessments for a learning objective

Archdiocese of Washington Science Standard: The Physical Setting: Students observe changes of Earth and the sky. They continue to explore the concepts of energy and motion

Objective: Students will participate in a science experiment and complete a lab report on the effect of friction. Students will observe friction as a force that can slow down objects in motion.

  1. Formative Assessment: New Clothes -“Take a given topic—thesis statements, push-pull factors, the scientific process, etc.—and describe how it can be used in some way other than how you’ve been taught.”-

In class we learned about about the effect of friction and how the force can slow down an object in motion. Friction is important in real life situations, you have 3 minute to discuss with your table when in life friction would be helpful. Make sure you discuss what would be used to create the friction. The team captain will be asked to share with the class. When I say the word of the day please begin your discussion.

This formative assessment would be helpful because it would have the students take the learned science concept and relate it to world we live in.

2. Formative Assessment: Draw it- Draw the concept and show you understand!

In class we completed a science experiment and we learned about the concept of friction. Please take this paper and draw what you do understand about friction. You may draw an example of when friction is used, use fancy letters to label your picture or draw your understanding of what happened today in our experiment.

This formative assessment would benefit my classroom because students who may not be able to write in words their understanding, would have a chance to show their comprehension of the topic. Due to this being a formative assesment it’s okay that they are not writing their answers.

3. Formative Assessment: Handshake- Make a handshake with the important information.

Today we learned about friction. Find a partner and create handshake to remember the concept. In your handshake you need (write on the board) to explain what friction is, a movement to remember and the word friction and force. I will come around and watch your handshake.

This is a assessment I do in my classroom. For students that don’t like to write they thrive with this assessment. Students have to show their understanding through movement.



10 Assessments You Can Perform In 90 Seconds

22 Easy Formative Assessment Techniques for Measuring Student Learning

Reflection: Understanding and Applying Standards

As a Catholic school teacher, I am given standards and the freedom to teach the standards anyway I would like. With this freedom comes great responsibility. Standards are a guide to my teaching, it is my responsibility to utilize the resources given to me, so the children have a rich education. In this unit, I have explored backwards mapping, objective writing and unpacking a standard. These are all great tools to use to make sure my students are fully grasping each standard.

I enjoyed looking more in depth and unpacking 2 standards from the Archdiocese of Washington. I learned that a standard can have more then one objective. It was interesting taking the standard apart and identify actions and ideas. Backwards mapping, I worked with an Archdiocese of Washington Science standard. (The Physical Setting: Students observe changes of Earth and the sky. They continue to explore the concepts of energy and motion.) I chose to work with this standard because Science is an area I need improvement on teaching. After taking apart the standard, I found it very easy to create lessons from the standards and find the “big ideas.” Backward mapping is a strategy I will be using regularly. I found it very satisfying to take a standard and create a full unit. I felt like I was being very thorough, covering every aspect. Backwards mapping was also fairly easy to complete. I must say at first I was very overwhelmed. I looked at a few examples online before beginning. In this unit I was also able to practice objective writing. I have to write objectives for my lessons every week. This is a weakness of mine. With this activity, I struggled to make clear and concise objectives for each activity. I found it difficult to describe what I wanted my kids to be able to do without explaining the activity. This will be something I will work on. “SMART” acronym is an easy way to remember all requirements.

I feel this module has been one of the most important thus far. Standards are a guide to the students learning and it is crucial I am comfortable with them. I look forward to changing the way I do lesson planning, to be a more effective teacch. I enjoyed the practice and feedback with the unit.



Planning and Preparation for Learning | Backwards Mapping

3rd Grade, Science

Topic: Changes of the Earth and Sky, Concepts of Energy and Motion

Standards: Archdiocese of Washington 3rd Grade Science Standards


Standard: Standard 3 – The Physical Setting: Students observe changes of Earth and the sky. They continue to explore the concepts of energy and motion.

I chose this standard because Science is a subject I can improve on the most. The students have an opportunity to complete hands on activities to better understand energy in motion. Students will be engaged with this standard and it makes me excited to teach it.

Screenshot 2016-01-24 11.35.26


Activity 1: Exploring Motion

Objective: Students will understand that a force, such as a push or a pull, puts objects and/or people into motion.

This lesson will allow students to learn outside on the playground. This activity will connect the concept of force and motion to their everyday lives.


As a class we will study the playground  and discuss each piece of playground equipment. We will discuss our new vocabulary , “push” and “pull.” We will observe students on the swings and act out motion of “push” and “pull.” Students will then have the opportunity to take their understanding and explore other playground equipment. 


push:exert force on (someone or something), typically with one’s hand, in order to move them away from oneself or the origin of the force.

pull: exert force on (someone or something), typically by taking hold of them, in order to move or try to move them toward oneself or the origin of the force.

energy: what is needed to make things move

motion: the change in position of an object in a certain amount of time

Informal Assessment: Observe students as they work in groups. Ask questions..

Why  have  you circled push on the see-saw?

What action do you complete on the see-saw to move?

Does it take energy to push your feet on the group?

Are you exerting force on the see-saw or ground?

Do you move when you exert force?

Activity 2: Observing Motion

Objective:Screenshot 2016-01-24 11.53.20 Students will gain an understanding of force, energy, motion, friction, and work as they manipulate objects. Students will think about the causes and effects of the motion created while completing “Motion Mission” tasks.

Activity: Students complete each mission task using the objects provided with a group. Students then use their critical thinking skills to record their thoughts and answers to the questions in their Motion Mission Notebook.

Students will have the opportunity to discover the different kinds of force. Students will observe how items move differently and react to different kinds of force.


push:exert force on (someone or something), typically with one’s hand, in order to move them away from oneself or the origin of the force.

energy: what is needed to make things move

motion: the change in position of an object in a certain amount of time

Force: strength or energy as an attribute of physical action or movement.

Friction: strength or energy as an attribute of physical action or movement.

Assessment: After completing this activity students will complete a reflection. Students will demonstrate their understand on the vocabulary terms above. Example questions below.

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Activity 3: Friction and Force

Screenshot 2016-01-24 12.21.59.pngObjective:Students will participate in a science experiment and complete a lab report on the effect of friction. Students will gain understanding that friction is a force that can slow down objects in motion.

Activity: Students will create a construction paper “road” and sandpaper “road.” Students will observe how far the toy go with the same amount of force. Students will complete this science experiment and gain understanding of how friction plays a part in motion.

Formal Assessment: Students will take a written assessment to scope their progress on completing the standard. In addition to below I can ask the students more in depth questions. Students could write when “friction” could be helpful or when on they playground they used “force.”

Screenshot 2016-01-24 12.36.52