Thursday, February 19, 2015

Blog Lovin'

As a blogger, I feel a little behind the times.. I just learned about & started using BlogLovin'! (And thanks to Teresa for sharing in my joy of this fabulous site!)

I follow lots of blogs.. if you want proof, my bookmarks bar is FULL of them! However, I don't always find the time to click on every. single. link. to see what the latest and greatest is. Enter - BlogLovin!

When you sign up for BlogLovin' (just with an email and password), you can choose some blogs to follow, either by searching or browsing what's recommended. You can type in search terms like, "education", "4th grade", "common core", etc. It will show you the search results, how many followers they have, and images from their latest posts. Just click the Follow button, and they will be added to your feed. If you are going to use BlogLovin' for more than just Education blogs, you can also sort the blogs into categories and group them together by topic. 

The best part about BlogLovin'? I don't even have to check it! Each morning, I get an email digest in my inbox if there have been any new updates or posts on the blogs I follow. If something interests me, I'll check it out, if not, delete! It has made life SO much easier, and I am getting some great ideas too!

So now that you're all ready to sign up - click on the Follow Me on BlogLovin' button to the right --->

And here's a tutorial I found to help get you started!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Tech Talk January Blog Hop

I'm excited to be joining the Tech Talk blog hop this month, hosted by Tasia at Great Minds Teach Alike!

Yesterday, I led a professional development session about getting connected with Twitter - but there are so many other ways that you can connect with educators on social media! Think back to Connected Educator Month, which was October... whether its following Edutopia, Scholastic, etc. on Facebook, pinning teaching ideas on Pinterest, scouring Teachers Pay Teachers for the perfect lesson, being in a circle on Google+, or reading blogs like this, there are so many wonderful educators and resources out there waiting for you to discover!

One of the tools I use to connect with other teachers is through the Instagram app. In fact, that's how I found out about Tasia's blog hop! I'm a very visual person, so I love scrolling through my Instagram feed and getting a window into other teacher's classrooms. {You can follow me on Twitter or Instagram @iTeacherLauren}

So how did I get started even finding teachers to follow on Instagram? I used some hashtags to search, such as #teachersofinstagram, #iteachtoo, and #teachersfollowteachers to see posts by other educators - and then I followed the ones that I liked! Once I found a few to follow, I saw that sometimes they would tag other educators in posts, and I grew to have a nice group of teachers that I follow and get ideas and resources from! In fact, after I finished the Twitter class yesterday, I saw this from @ATrendyTeacher.. how timely!

One of the accounts that I follow is @EdTechBaton. Each day, a different teacher holds the "baton" and posts pictures of technology happening in their school or classroom. I love seeing all of the different ways teachers are using technology in their classrooms, and finding new educators to follow! I held the baton back in January, and one of my pictures was even featured in an article on EducationNC

I'll be holding the "baton" again tomorrow, and posting from @EdTechBaton throughout the day. If you're on Instagram, check it out - and maybe even sign up to hold the baton one day too! Anyone can join :-)

Thanks for hopping over! Leave a comment if you're a connected educator, or plan to get started on Twitter, Instagram, etc! Don't forget to check out the other amazing bloggers and their ideas through Great Minds Teach Alike!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Brr! nICE is coming!

The weather outside may be frightful, but the lineup for the NICE (Northern Illinois Computing Educators) MiniCon is delightful!

The conference schedule is now available for the 2015 NICE MiniCon taking place on Saturday, January 31, 2015 at Niles North High School in Skokie, IL. The 21st annual NICE mini-conference will feature over 50 presenters, 60+ breakout sessions, a closing keynote by 2012 Illinois Teacher of the Year Josh Stumpenhorst, and one of the best raffles around. Admission is only $5 and is payable at the door. Learn more about all of our presenters and sessions, as well as reserve your spot today at

I will be presenting a session called #KidsCanCode.. I'd love to see some of you there too! 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


If you ever need a reminder of why we do what we do each day, take a look at this:

I captured this amazing moment as students were doing the Hour of Code to celebrate Computer Science Education Week. We have been having SO much fun in the computer lab! :-)

There are many, many resources out there to get kids interested in programming. From apps to games and robotic kits, anyone really can learn! 

We started each day with a special message from President Obama:

And then, various grade levels did different programming activities. 

1st grade used an app called Kodable last week to get ready for the Hour of Code, and this week transferred that knowledge to Google's Code Lab in Santa's Village. (If you check out Santa's Village, Google posts a new game or activity each day for kids! Today's is a map puzzle if you need a geography idea to use!)

2nd grade used a couple different sites: Tynker's Candy Quest and last year's version of the Hour of Code, which has students program Angry Birds to get to the pig.

3rd and 4th graders did the activities for this year's Hour of Code - with Anna and Elsa from Frozen! Students programmed Anna and Elsa to make snowflakes by moving a certain number of pixels and angles of different degrees to create the patterns. 

If you have students who are interested in computer science, like I said, there are SO many awesome resources to help them learn more. 

These are all FREE apps (some of which we have on our iPads at school):

This Google Doc has several resources for Coding with Elementary Students (thanks to my friends on the #ElemTechCoach Twitter chat!)

One of my favorites is, which is intended to inspire more females to get interested in Computer Science. 

One of the projects they have right now is to "code the holidays" - each tree that is coded will actually light up one of the trees on the White House lawn! 4th graders have been making them as they finish the Hour of Code - maybe make one together with your class on the SmartBoard!

Happy Coding!!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Tech Talk Blog Hop

I'm excited to be joining the Tech Talk blog hop, hosted by Tasia at Great Minds Teach Alike

DoInk GreenScreen App

With our students, using the green screen is so fun and has so much potential, but in the past it has been a challenge. Using iMovie was hard for students (and teachers!) and took lots of time and patience. So I was oh-so-happy when I found out that there was, in fact, an app for that! {I usually just want to share free apps - this one is $2.99 but worth every penny! There is a discount for those of you using the VPP. It is perfect for a one iPad classroom too!}

First off, for the Green Screen backdrop we just use a sheet that we bought on Amazon for ~$17. It is easy to bring anywhere in the school a teacher needs it, and can be stapled up to a tack strip or draped over something for the background. Just make sure your students aren't wearing green! 

{Students using the Green Screen last year to make yoga tutorial videos for Brain Breaks}

DoInk GreenScreen app has made making the videos SO EASY! 

Film with the green screen all in one app!
1. Choose background
{Can be a still image or a pre-recorded video}
2. Film right over it!
3. Publish and share!

I found this easy to follow tutorial on YouTube to explain a little more:

If you want just a quick visual rundown, here is a guide from My Paperless Classroom.

After you create your green screen movie with DoInk, you can do some App Smashing as well by adding in titles and sound effects in iMovie or any other app you can import video into! Then, share your video with Dropbox, Google Drive, etc. 

Making a video with the green screen has endless possibilities - from weather reports to book talks, travel commercials, and newscasts. 

Thanks for hopping over! Leave a comment if you've used DoInk or have an idea you plan to use in your own classroom. Don't forget to check out the other amazing bloggers and their ideas through Great Minds Teach Alike

Thursday, November 6, 2014

SafeShare.TV + QR Code Smash!

I stopped by the Kindergarten wing yesterday, and here's what I saw!

Emily found a QR Code listening center on Teachers Pay Teachers for Thanksgiving stories, and the QR codes linked to videos of the stories. The students scanned the QR code and listened to the story as the video followed the pages and words. They were loving it!

One thing I noticed is that the videos were actually from YouTube, but were on a site called SafeShare.TV. On this site, you can put in a link to a YouTube video, and it will block out everything else around the video on a unique link.. even the ad that plays before it! Pretty nifty!

To test it out, I found the video on YouTube for Duck for President

Then, I pasted the link into SafeShare.TV and clicked the Generate Safe Link button.

You can also click on Customize Video to choose just a portion or clip from the video to share on your link:

And voila! Your video is complete!

So the next step would be to create the QR Code that links to the video. That's easy, we can do that on Just copy/paste the SafeShare.TV link that you made into the link box:

Then click on Download QR Code and you can put it onto any worksheet, poster, or even just your SmartBoard for students to scan and watch! 
Try testing this QR Code by using a QR Reader app, like Scan. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

#CEOlympics Week 3

I know we are still in the middle of week 2 - but the end is near! AND I got some *awesome prizes* to share with you... from being connected myself! 

First off, new Twitter bird challenges are up in the Teacher's Lounge. These are worth HUGE points, so check them out! 

Now, what you really want to know about is the prizes, which I have. But first you have to read about how I got them ;-)

Over the summer, I made a discovery that I wasn't expecting - there are tons and tons of teachers on Instagram! They are sharing everything, from pictures of their classroom, projects their students have done, and even their #ootd (Outfit of the Day). It's been fun to have a little window into other teachers' classrooms! The first teacher I started following was my new friend from It's Elementary, My Dear, Lindsey Petlak (@lindseypetlak). From following her posts, I saw that she is very well connected in the teacher-Instagram world, so I started following some other educators, like @lessonswithcoffee, @iteach1to1, and even @welcometothecomputerlab. I also checked out some of the hashtags, like #teachersofinstagram, #teacherlife, and #teachersfollowteachers. It was fun to lurk & follow along until one day, I saw this:

I couldn't believe it... a Midwest Teacher Blogger Meet Up.. right in my neighborhood! And let's be honest, I was very interested in the "Goodie Bags, Giveaways, and Snacks" part of the meet up :)

So, in the spirit of Connected Educator Month, on Saturday I went to Lakeshore Learning to do some face to face connecting. It was SO much fun! 

Not only did I get AMAZING giveaways from Lakeshore Learning, Creative Teaching Press, and the fabulous bloggers that I met, but I also made some valuable face to face connections.. and the bottom right? Well, thats Lindsey and I, meeting in person for the first time! AND we are planning a Chicago Teacher Blogger Meet Up for this winter... so be on the lookout for more info if you're interested! 

So, lucky for you, I don't "need" everything that I came home with in the tech lab. BUT I want to share it with you, as prizes in the #CEOlympics! 

Follow a teacher on Instagram, email me who it is, and I'll give you 100 bonus points this week! Happy Connecting!