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Sunday, April 10, 2016

Warning! Your Students Will Want to "Play" This App All the Time!

Let them Code! Are you using The Foos app in your classroom? It's awesome and your students will love it! Trust me, download it. You will have a hard time putting down your iPad!  I think it is the best app when it comes to teaching students to code and to work on their problem-solving skills!  

The Foos provides a creative space for students to put basic programming concepts to work.  Your students will love creating their own video games and having their friends play them.  Check it out. But, be warned, your students will want to "play" it all the time.  It's one of those apps that never gets old in your cart of iPads.  Download it today....and play! 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Scissor Tool in Pic Collage

Pic Collage is an app that never gets "stale" with students. There are so many ways to integrate and create with this simple, easy to use app. Recently, I taught some of our first graders how to use the scissor tool within Pic Collage. They are learning about different types of weather so I had the students add three types of weather in the form of a label to their collage after setting their background to a weather related picture. We then took selfies that conveyed the emotion they feel when experiencing weather that they chose to add to their collage. I showed the students how to reveal the scissor tool (double tap on image), then had them trim around their selfies.   Simple way to use this awesome creation app in your classroom! 

Monday, January 25, 2016

AgingBooth App and the 100th Day of School

It's hard to believe the 100th day of school is here!  Where has the time gone?  Here's a simple little project we did today in 1st-grade. Here's what our workflow looked like: 

  1. I downloaded the AgingBooth app on my iPad and created an image for each student, being sure to save each one to my camera roll.  While I had each student come to me individually, other students were busily working on the writing piece on a piece of paper that their teacher had given them.   The writing prompt was, "When I am 100..." 
  2. When I had created an image for all of the students, I created a new folder in Google Drive. I then uploaded each of the images into the folder.
  3. I shared the folder with the classroom teacher.
  4. We printed the pictures from Google Drive and had the students cut out their pictures so they would better fit on their piece of paper. 
  5. Students pasted their pictures on their writing sheets.
 The students really enjoyed this activity! It was fun listening to all of the laughter in the classroom.

It was such a fun and easy way to incorporate technology into a writing activity.  I did most of the technology in this activity, but one could easily have students use the app, then post it in Kidblog or Seesaw.  

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Goodbye, Friend

It all happened too fast.  I wasn't prepared.

At least I had the opportunity to say "goodbye."

I need to blog about this.  It creates closure for me.  

Eleven years ago we made the decision to purchase a family dog. After much  research, we decided on a Boxer.   Our oldest child Caleb was given the opportunity to pick from the litter as it was his 5th birthday.  I remember the day well.  He picked the fat, pudgy runt of the litter.  As we are avid golfers, we named our new friend "Bogey."  She was perfect.

Our family proceeded down the path of puppyhood.  Chewed items, messes on the floor, lots of puppy kisses and some very active play sessions ensued.

As we proceeded on our journey of dog ownership,  we all learned some valuable lessons from Bogey. Accept people for who they are, forgive and move on, unconditional love, take time for exercise, to always meeting someone with a smile.

Bogey was always in a good mood.  Always happy to see us.  Yes, some of the things that Bogey did drove us nuts.  She jumped on visitors, she shed too much, she trampled through our flower gardens flattening our chrysanthemums.  As she aged, she had a hard time keeping up with my wife and me on our morning runs.

What I wouldn't give to have one more run with Bogey.  To be able to tell her to "get off the couch!" one more time.  To have her look at me with that look that said, "let's go upstairs, it's time for bed."

To see her snuggled up to my daughter as she read a book.  To see her jump up on my son as he sat in a chair that was way too small for two.

We lost our dear friend Bogey after eleven wonderful years on Tuesday morning at 4:00 am.

It all started Monday night.  She was sleeping on the couch between my daughter and me like she had done thousands of times.  She always had the ability to believe she was a lapdog, even though she was 45 pounds over the weight requirement.

She jumped off the couch and winced.  I didn't think much of it as she had developed arthritis in golden years.  After heading to bed around 11:30, I noticed that she wasn't "right."  She went to bed, but was restless.  At 12:30 we made a trip down the steps so she could go outside.  Nothing new, we'd done it before.  After a considerable amount of time outside, it was back up to bed.

This happened two more times.

After our third trip outside, Bogey beat me back upstairs as she usually does.  I went over to pet her on her bed and she wasn't there.  I didn't want to call for her as it was 1:30 in the morning.  I walked down the hallway, turned on the light and there she was.  She was walking back and forth between our kids' rooms.   She did this a couple of times and I foolishly asked her what she was doing.  After all, the kids were sleeping.

She immediately headed back downstairs and jumped up on the couch.  By this time, I could tell that something was not right.  She whimpered and cried if I would leave her side.

Something was wrong.  I panicked.  My wife awoke and came downstairs.  I expressed to her that I didn't think that Bogey was  going to make it through the night.

I hoped and prayed that I was wrong.  

It was 3:00 in the morning.  I had to call our amazing veterinarian.  He told us to meet him at his office in 15 minutes.  I dressed for the cold weather and tried to mentally prepare myself for the short drive.

We wrapped Bogey in a blanket and I carried her out to the car.  

Then I lost it.  I sobbed.   I cried all the way to the Vet's office.

Our veterinarian informed us that Bogey was suffering from Gastric Dilatation Volvulus.  She needed surgery immediately.  We consented.  We were told to say our "goodbyes" just in case the worst happened.

What do you say?  How do you thank a creature for some of the most amazing memories.  For being the perfect companion.  For teaching my children some of the greatest lessons they will ever learn? For loving each one of us unconditionally.

It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life.

Our Bogey died before the surgery even began.  Damn, she was a great dog.  She was more than a pet though.  She was a family member. 

At the time, I didn't think much about Bogey walking back and forth between our kids' bedrooms. Looking back, I now believe she was taking time to say her goodbyes to her two best friends. 
She was one of the best friends I have ever had, and I am forever grateful.   

Monday, January 11, 2016

Drowning in Mediocrity

As I mentioned in my last post, my #oneword for 2016 is "Reflect."  Here is the first of a series of blog posts I am composing as I reflect upon my 16 years in education.

I realized it during the 2001-2002 school year.  The day is burned into my memory.  It was my Freshmen World History class, 6th period to be exact.  We were right in the middle of our unit on the Renaissance.  I had a Powerpoint projected onto the screen in my dimly lit room and my students were taking turns reading out of the book as I walked around the room making sure students were on task.

Then it hit me.

My class was boring.  

Some days we would read out of the textbook, other days I would make my students take the notes that I was writing on the overhead. Yes, that type of overhead.  I eventually upgraded to Powerpoint and had my students take notes from the bulleted slides that I had created.  Towards the end of each class, I'd give my students some kind of worksheet or crossword puzzle to reinforce what they had learned.  

At the conclusion of the unit, students would take a 35-50 question test that consisted of several multiple choice questions (it was easy for me to grade), matching questions and one essay.

I was in my third year of teaching and I was teaching each class, World History and Nebraska History, the exact same way I had since I began teaching in 1999. 

I was drowning in mediocrity.

Looking back now, I realize that I didn't know any better.   Sure my Principal had issued a challenge to me after my first year of teaching, but I was teaching Social Studies the way it had been taught to me.  It was comfortable.  It was easy. 

My teaching had become routine. The filing cabinet in the corner was my best friend.  All of my units were pre-packaged and ready to go each year.   My Powerpoints were saved on the local server, easy to pull up for presenting.  A quick trip to the copy machine at the start of each unit to print my worksheets, quizzes and tests and I was good to go for a couple of weeks. 

Repeat each year with minimal changes or reflection and another year was in the books.  Easy peasy.  

I didn't like how I felt after teaching the lesson that I mentioned above. I didn't feel like I was making a difference.  I was just another class on my students' schedules. 

I was bound and determined to do something about it. 

I remembered my social studies classes in high school and college. I didn't enjoy them. Actually, I hated them.  Yet here I was teaching a subject that I loved.  I thought to myself, "You can't say that you hated social studies just hated how the information was taught to you."   

I came up with a new motto for the 2002-2003 school year.  I printed my new motto and placed it on the wall so I could be reminded of it daily.  I talked to my students about what those three words meant to me as a teacher.


Fast forward 6 years. Take a look at the images below.   It's my classroom after "the change."  It took time and effort, and most importantly, the willingness to change. 

I tried to create a learning environment that I would have wanted to be in if I was a student.  

What happened during the change? 

 I started utilizing the technology in my classroom to have students create.  I got rid of all of my desks and replaced them with tables.  I placed two couches in my room that students could sit in whenever they wanted.  I had tubs of markers, colored pencils, scissors, paper clips, glue sticks and scratch paper.  I started playing music a lot, not just as students entered the room.   

My classroom became a noisy environment (sorry, Mrs. Coover), but the students loved it.  

And I loved teaching.  I looked forward to coming up with different, creative ways to teach.  Yes, it took some time out of school to do some extra planning, but it was well worth it. 

I loved my new classroom.  I was no longer drowning, I was now doing the breaststroke! 

Reflecting on this moment in my teaching career makes me proud that I made this decision. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016


Okay.  I'll pick a word.  It's "reflect."

I'll be honest with you, I've never really been motivated by the "one word" challenge. My Superintendent challenged our entire staff a couple of years ago to think of a word to start the school year.  

I complied. I printed my word and hung it on the wall as requested.  I can't even remember the word to tell you the truth.  I played the game.  I went through the motions. 

I didn't see the need to be motivated by a silly word. 

Fast forward to right before Thanksgiving of last year.  My grandmother passed away.  It wasn't a surprise as her health had been deteriorating for about a year.  Nonetheless, it shook me up quite a bit as she was one of the most amazing human beings I have ever met.  

While at my grandmother's funeral, I remembered a conversation that she and I had five years prior at my Dad's funeral. It was about the fact that she had now buried her three sons. Being a parent of two children, I can't imagine the pain that she went through in losing one child, let alone three.  I asked her how she managed to get through the pain of losing her boys.  She replied, "I trust in my faith and simply take one day at a time, Craig."  

I started reflecting more after losing my father. 

My grandmother's death made me reflect.  A lot.  I wonder if she ever took the time to reflect on her life before she passed away at 87 years.  

Too often we go through life in cruise control.  We don't take the time to reflect, whether it be personally or professionally. 

So this year I am going to REFLECT.  I am going to take the time to think.  

Time to think about what I am doing as a husband. 

What I am doing as a Dad.  

What I am doing as a Son.

What I am doing as a Brother. 

What I am doing as a Teacher.  

What I am doing as a Colleague.  

What I am doing as a Coach. 

If you read/subscribe to my blog, you will be seeing a theme in the next several blog posts that I compose.  I am going to be reflecting. I'm going to focus on my 16 years in education

Have you taken the time to reflect on your career in Education?  

This could get interesting. 

What's your #oneword for 2016? 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Web Literacy Lesson for the Primary Grades

It's amazing to think of the wealth of information that we have available to us now because of the internet.  I often how wonder we managed to find the information we needed before Google (BG).   It's fun to have conversations with students about at a time when we couldn't just, "Google it." Students have a hard time imagining a world without the plethora of information that we have available to us at our fingertips.

As educators, I believe it is important for us to engage in conversations with students about the information we find online and web literacy. Too often I see students (and adults) taking some of this information they find online, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Google or another social media site as gospel.

I composed a lesson a couple of years ago to address this issue with my students.   It's one of my favorite lessons to teach.  I have taught his lesson, with various modifications to grades K-12.  Feel free to change it to meet the needs of your students!  Let me know how it goes if you do use it with your students.

Part I

When prepping this lesson for my primary students, I like to walk around their classrooms ahead of time snapping photos of items they have created.  This year there were lots of art projects from Thanksgiving.  I snap several photos of their creations and then email them to myself so I can dump them into the Google Slides that I show them when teaching.  This is the slide that students see when we get to the web literacy part of our lesson:

I follow this slide with several slides of pictures being sure to tell students that I so busy creating all these crafts while on my Thanksgiving break!  Eventually, one or two students will pipe up, "hey, that's mine!" I then admit that I passed off their work as my own.  Then, it's time to have a short conversation about not taking other people's work and sharing it as our own.    When teaching this lesson with older students we talk a lot about images we find online, and how to properly attribute these images if we use them in a project at school.

Part II

The next part of our lesson deals with websites.  I try to share a"green" (good/safe for surfing) website each week when I meet with our Kindergarteners.  The fact that we talk about a new website each week allows me to "set up" the Octopus website with my students.  I play it up when exploring the website.  I show them the images of the Octopus, talk about where it lives, etc.  I tell students that it's amazing what you can find on the internet!

 You might have to get creative with your older students (and adults) when setting this up. I introduce the students to the following sites and a YouTube video about Google Nose for my older students. 

All About Explorers (Grades 3-12)

Google Nose (Grades 3-Adult)

With primary grades, I just show the Octopus website, then proceed to the next part of the lesson.  When teaching the lesson to older students we take our time to peruse all three websites before proceeding.  

Part III

The next part of the lesson deals with social media and images.  We have a conversation about how easy it is to share and view images that are shared on various forms of social media.  To introduce this part of the lesson, I ask students if they remember when Hurricane Sandy devastated the east coast.  I tell the students that there were thousands of images shared on social media showcasing the devastation it caused and I am going to show them the top photos shared on social media during Hurrican Sandy.

 I like to create a slideshow in my presentation with the images contained in this  blog post from Mashable to reinforce this part of the lesson.  I go through each image with the students.  We talk about what we see and how powerful the images are.  Then, I tell the students that I have something to tell them.  I tell them that "everything that I taught you today is completely fake."  Some students will blurt out, "Mr. Badura, you shouldn't lie!" While others will say, "I knew it all along!"  It's fun to listen to some of their responses.

We end the lesson with a whole group discussion.   We talk about ways to recognize innacurate information online.  We discuss the fact that we need to realize that not all the information we find online is factual.

It's one of my favorite lessons, and I feel that it has a lasting impact.  Let me know how it goes with your students.