Sunday, January 31, 2016


Finding new, exciting ways to check students for understanding is an ongoing need for all educators. We want to keep students engaged while respecting each individual learner's needs and pace. A while back I learned of Quizizz and tested it with my PLN. We enjoyed how easy it is to use and how the feedback is organized for the teacher. Most often, before I try something with my students, I test it with my peers. Sometimes I have my students test apps and sites and such and report back to me if they find a purpose in the new activity. However, sometimes I need to try it out so I can execute it efficiently. My PLN approved of Quizizz. I was so excited to try it with my students!
Each month we meet to collaborate. We tested Quizizz with Starbucks in hand.
Getting started was easy. I went to and created a new account. Once I logged in, I searched topics we were currently studying. I was able to find a ready-made Quiz and use it in my class. (I have not yet created my own Quiz.) 

My third graders were able to type in easily in their browser and find the game. If your students cannot type in the browser to find the site, make a quick QR Code for them to scan that leads them directly to the site. Once they are there, have students 'add to home screen' for easy access in the future. 

Quizizz is similar to Kahoot! My students and I enjoy using Kahoot! however over time it has lost it's affectiveness. Students have begun pressing any answer to try to make the leaderboard instead of trying to think about the correct answer. Kahoot! is fun but my students can get very competitive and lose sight of the purpose of the activity. If the results are not accurate, there is no reason for us to complete the Kahoot! I cannot use the results if they aren't completing the activity with purpose. Quizizz is individually paced, where Kahoot! gives students the same predetermined amount of time to answer the question. Quizizz does have a way for students to see how quickly others are completing the quiz, but it doesn't celebrate the leader after each question. Kahoot! asks all students the same question at the same time. Quizizz asks the questions randomly among the classroom. I've noticed my students watching how others answer to make their choice (again, trying to hit that leaderboard) Quizizz has an option to show silly memes after they submit their answers. My students love this student feedback feature! They found it fun and motivating.

Another feature I like about Quizizz is the teacher feedback. As students work through the quiz, I am able to view the progress per student. I choose not to show the leaderboard but I can see it on my computer. I can see overall class progress, overall student progress and even have each question broken down to see who needs what or if everyone is needed reteaching on a skill. My students took a fraction quiz. We had just started fractions and had completed a pretest, but I wanted to see what they had remembered that week plus there were a few questions covering skills we had coming. It provided information that allowed me to specifically plan what we needed to focus on as a group, and what I could reteach in small groups.

I know both Kahoot! and Quizizz have ways to adjust their features. I find both have a place in our learning and I'm thankful they each have different options. Educators also use Quizizz for homework, to preassess students or flip their classroom. I'm excited to learn more about Quizizz. How do you use Quizizz? Follow @quizizz on Twitter and share ideas.

Monday, January 25, 2016


A dear friend and colleague of mine @OCTVisser shared her enthusiasm for Innovator's Mindset with me after hearing a speaker last summer. She was at iPadpalooza in Austin and George Couros was the keynote. I took her advice and started following @gcouros on Twitter since that is what I do... stalk people to learn from them. I discovered quickly I have similar thoughts and opinions as George. My friend encouraged me to read his book. Now, I love to read but realistically - my family spends 4 weeknights and most weekends at the baseball fields. When we aren't at baseball, it's flag football. Our seasons are Baseball, Summer, Baseball, Football. Seriously. Reading tends to take a backseat during the school months. So, I took some time over the Christmas break and decided to catch up on some reading. I read Student Voice (reflection here) and I'm still reading Mindset. Over the holidays, I became very familiar with Amazon Prime so I decided to order books for my birthday and included Innovator's Mindset in the pack. People, overnight shipping from Amazon Prime is no joke! I was SO happy when it arrived the next day. 

I opened the book and right away I knew this book was going to be just what I needed. "Change is the opportunity to do something amazing." This is the quote from page 2. Page two! Already I am smiling, writing on the book, highlighting all over, posting pics to Twitter and hollering 'Amen!'... and I was just getting started.

Once I pushed out of my classroom's four walls, teaching took on a whole new viewpoint for me. The only way I could push out was to take baby steps. Have you ever watched a chick hatch? In first grade, we did. Each year those little eggs would wobble then a tiny hole was made, the beak would stick out, some tiny chirps called out... then after some rest, that chick broke out! But it wasn't right away. It had to peck away at the hard shell and little pieces soon added up to a new world for that chick. That is how learning works for me. I try a few small things, mess up... (a lot!) then I try again and continue til I find something that works. When I lead others, I try to encourage them to make small steps until they feel confident enough to press on and then themselves encourage others. One line said 'lead by meeting people where they are' (p.47) and that was a great reminder to me. Each of us are learners in our own spots. Embrace where each learner is and encourage them from there.

Chapter 4 is my absolute favorite chapter. It is titled 'Relationships, Relationships, Relationships' and that is my passion. Without solid relationships, without those connections - students are not sure to trust I'm showing up each day to inspire them to learn, parents are not certain I am investing in their children to instill a love of learning for a lifetime, peers may not believe I'm open to collaborating. On page 149 I read "Innovative environments should be built on trust, not the lack of it" which I firmly believe in. That we should provide learning experiences with our students but we must know them and what they are interested in in order to provide this platform.

Technology is another passion of mine. Wow, technology can make an amazing impact on our learning. I've watched multiple students come alive with the power to communicate their understanding with their devices. Students are empowered to learn and share their learning with the world. So when I read "Technology invites us to move from engaged to empowered" (p.140) I'm quite certain I hollered 'Yes! AMEN!' because I have seen it, time and time again.

A few years ago I taught a Dual Language classroom. In order to better communicate with my students and parents, I attended a nighttime class to relearn how to speak basic Spanish. Each week I had homework and once I asked my students to help me (I was stuck!) They LOVED teaching ME. It was eye-opening for me. They were motivated and we connected since they were able to help me learn (relearn) something (kinda) new. I discovered first hand how it is important to model that we, too, are learners. So, on p.183 I argued a little with the speech because the answer is not 'nearly zero' - educators are out there modeling learning for their students. We are ALL learning together.

One reason I began blogging more often is because I asked my students to reflect on their learning. Well, how can I ask that of them if I'm not doing the same? "I reflect, therefore I learn." (p.188) Many great ideas were listed for reflecting on our learning, which I immediately implemented in my classroom. Don't you love a book that you can use right away? Boy, I do! One new idea I gained was "DEAR ~ Drop Everything and REFLECT". I love this idea! Sometimes we reflect on EasyBlog, sometimes on paper, sometimes with video - any which way students have the opportunity make connections, ask questions and solidify their learning.

I could go on and on sharing my thoughts about this incredible book but you should read it. I plan to reread it soon since I'm sure I will notice things I didn't pick up on last time - I read it so fast! How do you promote an innovator's mindset in your learning environment? What qualities do you find essential in order to inspire and empower others in their learning?

*Notes and quotes from The Innovator's Mindset by George Couros

Saturday, January 2, 2016

#OneWord for 2016

For the last few weeks, I've been trying to come up with my #oneword for the New Year. I was noticing other people committing to their #oneword on Twitter but I couldn't decide! But that's my problem. 

Last year my #oneword was BALANCE. In the last few years, I've become very passionate about my work. I feel I'm transforming as an educator and want to soak up all I can from everyone (at school, at dinners with my PLN, on Twitter, reading blogs and books!) but that takes time from my family. Meanwhile, my kids are growing up quickly. I also quit focusing on my well-being. I didn't organize friend time and date nights as much. I started to hide because I couldn't crawl out where it was all so overwhelming. Then I realized everything for me was all out of balance. So I had to regain control and find a better balance in everything. I had to start saying 'no' at work, even though I wanted to do it all. I had to miss a few of my kids' games to get rest and heal my back. I had to stop drinking so much soda and drink more water. By not excluding everything or making it a yes/no word it gave me freedom to make it work for me. I had to take some things off my plate to become a better mom, wife, teacher, friend, Me. It is still a process but it is a smart word for me. How could I top that one?

I thought about motivating words such as spark, move, go, purpose (I always use this word in my classroom, why not for myself?), try, empower (one I took from Innovator's Mindset by George Couros) or yet (my favorite new word I took from Mindset by Carol Dweck) I wanted something catchy that would inspire others. Hm... so I searched my Pinterest board since that is where I go for ideas and inspiration. I saw a common theme...

Decisions. Choices. Direction. I struggle to make decisions... ALWAYS. What do I want to eat? What should I wear? Do I want fries with that? Should I go for a walk, grade papers or hang out with my kids? There is so much to do. See... I need to work on making decisions. Recently I've been seeking out answers from others on what to do with my life. They don't have answers for me, just for themselves. It is really wearing me out because no one wants to make a bad decision on purpose but how will I know it is a bad decision if I never make one?

Do I want to get my masters degree? Should I get Google Certified? Should I stop by the gym? Do I really need that cookie?? Should I put my work aside and play with my kids? I realized part of making decisions begins with making a choice. 

It is hard to move forward without first deciding where to go. At each intersection you must move forward - you decide to turn left, continue straight, or turn right - no one can make you (although they might honk! or in my case, try to push or drag you on) but you have to GO! Before you can go, you have to choose. Ah, that's it! 

This year I need to CHOOSE! This #oneword can work in all areas of my life: 
*Choose to have a good day
*Choose to stop at the gym
*Choose to listen to a friend
*Choose to play with my kids
*Choose to empower myself and others
*Choose joy
*Choose to continue to grow professionally
*Choose to go on a date with my husband
*Choose what is right for my students
*Choose to be present at home
*Choose to move forward

So while my #oneword is not all inspirational and pretty this year, it is meaningful to me. I can use it with all the other motivational words to work for me. I know you may be thinking, we all have to choose all the time but I want to be intentional and purposeful about my choices. George Couros said his father inspired him with these words: "Change is the opportunity to do something amazing." (p.2, Innovator's Mindset) however I cannot change anything without making a decision. This year I will CHOOSE.