Travel Journals

An extra little nugget for your day!

At my school we have families who travel often during the school year. Teachers would be busy copying and gathering materials for up to two weeks worth of lessons and sometimes the work was never returned. This year we are stopping the madness and instead assigning a travel journal for students to complete along their journey. I worked with a couple others to put this together and think it is a pretty good idea! Feel free to use it for inspiration to create your own for your school or family trips. The inspiration for the journals came from many sources on Pinterest and through googling travel journal for kids…man I love Google!

Hillel Travel Journal 3-5

Hillel Travel Journal k-2

QR Codes and why they are super cool for education

A QR Code (Quick Response Code) is like a bar code, that when scanned will take a user to a website, give contact information, or share other information as instructed by the creator. Think the barcodes scanned at the register of a store that rings up items.

For example if you scan this code it would bring you to my blog:

qrcode blog

This code gives you my contact information:

contact info qr

To create these qr codes I used . There are many generators on the web, some create codes in colors, in shapes, and using special details.

Any device with a camera can have a qr code reader downloaded, whether Android or iOS. There are many options available, go to your store and search.

So how does this apply to education?

One of my favorite uses for QR codes is having students create book reports in video, audio, or word form, then connecting the report to a QR code, printing the code, and taping the code in the book. This allows prospective readers to hear/see what other readers say about the book. How powerful is that?!

I also had students create a QR code interactive map of ST Augustine after our field trip. Students had to create one contact code for a place we visited, one URL code for a stop on our trip, and one picture/video QR code to share their favorite part of the trip. These codes were printed and attached to a map so parents, teachers, and students could “see”  our trip.

A fellow educator sets up center with QR code instructions. Centers are explained at the beginning of the week, but if students need a refresher on what to do, they scan the code and hear the directions again.

At a conference I heard about teachers using QR codes to create museums of students’ work. Students video or audio record a report to go with a visual representation. Viewers scan the code and hear what the students have learned .

In Math, QR codes can be used as a way for students to get extra help solving problems. Teachers or fellow students record themselves solving problems during class and then link the video to QR codes. The codes are printed and attached to workbooks or textbooks. When students are completing homework, they scan codes if they need help remembering the way to solve problems.

When students do presentations, parents , other classes, and other teachers are not always able to attend. Teachers can record presentations, link to a QR code, then copy the codes and paste them to a word document. The teacher can then print the document and post on a bulletin board for others to scan or email the document to the families and teachers.

Want to know more?

EdTech Guru Kathy Schrock has this article about QR codes

The amazing Richard Byrne posted this on his blog

Stephen Anderson,  aka web20classroom, has this livebinder about QR codes

How do you use QR codes? Share your ideas in the comments! Have a request for future Monday Tech Minute posts…email me!


Edmodo – Taking Learning Beyond the Classroom

Edmodo is a social learning platform. It is a bit facebook, a bit LMS, and a lot of fun. Edmodo allows a teacher to create a classroom in cyberspace where students discuss, share, add, and continue their learning beyond the walls of the classroom and way beyond the final bell. And the best part- it is safe. You form classrooms that strangers can not enter, you can’t friend others, and it is not open to others- only your class. 

I love this platform SOOOO much, that I shared it’s amazingness with a reporter and boom Coke placed my words (and the unquoted Opher Yunger) on their page– see number 4 that’s us!

So what can you do with Edmodo? 

Well over the summer we use Edmodo for our Summer reading Experience. Students read assigned books, then log on to Edmodo to answer questions, respond to others answers, vote in polls, and discuss their summer. For example: 

A. L. to Third Grade 2014-2015

1. What was the most interesting part of the story?

I think the most interesting part of the story was when the great one learned to ride a bike because it remembered me when I learned to ride and how hard it was.
2. What questions did you have while reading the story?
The questions I had while reading the story was: Why did the pain think the great one couldn’t ride a bike?
Why did the pain think Mr. Soupy was going to cut his ears?
3. What lesson was the author trying to teach from this story?
The author was trying to teach me not to fight.

I think that is a good lesson to learn.

And another unexpected and joyous happening with this program…our students become the welcoming committee. After a new student logged in, the welcomes were numerous.

E.G. to Third Grade 2014-2015

hi! my name is Emilio and Im new in the school.
1.- What is the problem in the story? How is it solved?
The problem of the story was that the great one did not know how to ride a bike. So her uncle told her how.
2.- How did the story make you feel? Why?
The story made me feel happy because it was very very funny.When the Pain was singing the song about that The Great One couldn’t ride a bike.
3.-What lesson was the author trying to teach from this story?
The author was trying to teach the kids a lesson about how when you don’t know how to do something, you should take risks and do it.

J. W. said Aug 5, 2014 Hi Emilio, I’m Josh welcome to the school

E. G. said Aug 6, 2014 Hi Emilio, welcome to Hillel! I hope you like it. From Eva

A. I. said Aug 16, 2014 Hi Emilio, I’m so happy to meet you this week!

J. D. to Third Grade 2014-2015

Hi Emilio my name is John. I heard you are new to the school. I thought the book was funny too.I hope you will be in my class so you can be one of my new friends.

E. E. said Aug 1, 2014 thats so nice john!!!

C. D. said Aug 4, 2014 I totally agree!!!!


So what else can you do? The possibilities are ENDLESS! There are quiz options, assignment options, and so much more. One of our Judaic teachers has his entire curriculum loaded to Edmodo and students work in this game based approach through worlds and complete assignments at their own pace. While one student may be reading and analyze a piece of historical literature, another is creating a presentations about holidays for lower school students, and another is taking a quiz on the reading assignment. All are engaged, learning, and focused…and all are on Edmodo.


Our school has even created a teacher group on Edmodo that allows us to share ideas with each other, post handouts, and get feedback on what professional development topics are of interest. As a teacher you can connect with others in your school or around the world.


We are planning a project with a school in Israel to connect our students, practice Hebrew and English language. We plan to interview and get to know each other through Edmodo and write books together!


Resources and ideas:


How do you use Edmodo? Leave it in the comments section! Have an idea or want to know more about something…tell me!


Upcoming Conference presentations:

OESIS Boston October 2-3 

What’s Your Tech? Developing lessons for learning with a little bit of Tech Spice.
A teacher’s goal is to create lessons that grab students’ attention and entice students to learn more. One attention grabber teachers use is technology. Often technology is thrown into a lesson with little planning and forethought. In this session, attendees will discover ways to plan for learning while seamlessly integrating technology that is both appropriate and exciting.

North Carolina Association for Elementary Education October 19-21 

Technology as a Tool

The goal of a teacher is to reach their students and take them to a higher level of understanding. One way to engage students in the classroom is through the integration of technology, but tech is not where a teacher should begin their planning. This session will assist teachers in exploring how and when to use technology in their lessons and assessments.       


Twitter for Professional Development

Twitter is a goldmine! I fought the twitter and hashtag market fiercely until attending a fabulous session at FETC2014 on building professional development and the main tool used by the technology gurus leading the session was twitter. So I caved in and created an account and ***BAM*** a revolution in my professional community occurred. I am by no means a Twitter expert, I go days without logging on and sometimes chose to ignore the wealth of knowledge at my fingertips because it can still be overwhelming to me…BUT the amazingness is there waiting for me when I am ready. I also found a way to handle all the goodness and organize myself with tweetdeck. It puts all the chats, people, hashtags, and info I want into columns so I can find it easier. Check it out, there are other resources that do the same thing, I liked tweetdeck.

So hashtag, @, chat, pln, follow, favorite, retweet…the language of the twitterverse can be confusing and offputting. So here are a few definitions from my perspective. This is by no means a comprehensive list and it wasn’t meant to be…it is more of a twitter011- you know the remedial kind not even for credit.

hashtag- use the # symbol to denote the topic of your tweet. For example, if I am tweeting about a cool tech tool for kids I may use #coolkidtech as my hashag. If I am tweeting about the Miami Dolphins my hashtag would be #miamidolphins or #strongertogether. Twitter chats utilize the hashtag to coordinate their chats…more to come about that in a sec.

@ the at symbol is a way to talk directly to a person, company, group, and their followers on twitter. For example, if I want to send a tweet to my favorite singer Phil Vassar I would put “@philvassar love your new song” or if I want to share a message with my tech guru Stephen Anderson and his followers I would add his “handle” to my message  “@web20classroom Check out my new blog”

chat- chat is where people get together at a specific time to discuss a topic. The moderator posts questions and attendees post their answers using the chat hashtag. For example, on Mondays from 7-8 Social Studies teachers from around the world gather to share ideas and discuss topics near and dear to their hearts using the hashtag #sschat. Personally I have problems keeping up with chats in the moment, so I wait until the chat is over and the archive is published. This means someone who is in charge of the chat puts all the hashtags together for that chat in a library of sorts. Then, I go back and read at my pace.

PLN- Personal Learning Networks allow educators to grow their own knowledge in their own way. I am a tech teacher, I follow tech and media experts, participate and read chats on tech topics, and explore the things my fellow tech teachers are trying using Twitter. Twitter is such a great place for teachers to learn and share that Susan Bearden created an APP for teachers to learn Twitter. It is called TweechMe. More info can be found at

Follow- on facebook you can friend and like people, businesses, and topics. On Twitter you follow the things or people you like. This allows you to see what they post and gain information from these people or companies. People also follow you….which to me was very intimidating to me as I didn’t know if i was going to be a fountain of knowledge or give inspiration to anyone. Now I am mellowing out about my followers. Feel free to follow me @penchevable

Favorite- if someone posts something you love, agree with, and want to remember you can favorite that tweet by clicking the star. Followers can see your favorites, so keep that in mind.

Retweet- often someone tweets something amazing that I love and want others to see…so I retweet it. The symbol is like a recycle symbol with two arrows. When you retweet, you can edit the tweet or send it just as it was published. Just now I saw a tweet from scholastic that announced” @Usher hosts a webcast for kids Bigger than Words”. This is a big deal I think, so I favorited and retweeted to let more people know about it.


So much more to talk about with twitter, but I want to share other information.


Livebinder with info for twitter

Web20classroom twitter livebinder

Communicating with parents

Learning twitter class

Collection of when twitter chats happen

Do you have twitter resources? Please share in the comments.