Tuesday, August 19, 2014

6 Professional Opportunities for Learning More About Classroom Design!

6 Professional Opportunities for 
Learning More About Classroom Design

Back to school is always an exciting time filled with rich opportunities to learn and share with colleagues, grade level teams, and friends in your professional learning network.  Because of the extremely busy time of year, this post will be short and to the point.  Tonight, I'm hosting two opportunities for professional learning.  I'll share that information below (during the Twitter chat, I'll even be giving away two interactive white board systems and a document camera - compliments of the fantastic company, IPevo)!  My first post for the back to school year on Scholastic pushed live this morning, and I'm hosting a NEW challenge on ClassroomCribs.com with two of my dear friends.  You'll have to be sure to check that out and submit your photos or video.  It will be a great collection of amazing classroom spaces, and we'd LOVE to feature your space.  We have thousands of teachers already subscribed, so there will be a BIG opportunity for your had work to be seen by people all over the world.  I'm so excited about this project!

Innovations & Conversations with Steven W. Anderson

Join Steven for the next installment in the series.  This time, I'll be featured - LIVE.  We will talk about creating the ultimate learning environments, how to foster creativity and engagement, and much more!

Tuesday, August 19, 7:00p.m. Eastern

Join in at this link!

#TeacherFriends LIVE Chat on Twitter

Join me tonight on Twitter to discuss classroom design and brain-friendly learning spaces.  The chat is designed to coach newbies in getting their feet wet with how Twitter chats work.  So, the more Twitter stars we also have on the chat, the better.  Plus, the more newbies we have, the better.  THAT is how we build our community - through connecting, establishing the foundations of new relationships, sharing, and networking.  Plus, IPEVO is donating TWO interactive white board systems and a document camera.  We will select the winners during the live chat tonight.  There will be a public Google document sent out and the participants will enter their Twitter handles.  The winner will randomly be selected via a random number generator.  

Time: 9pm Eastern tonight - August 19th 2014 on Twitter
Simply follow the hashtag #TeacherFriends (click here) 

3 Quick Classroom Design Tips

Prior to going into teaching, I studied interior design at Michigan State University. However, after my daughter Riley was born, I knew my love for children was something I had to pursue full-time. So I changed directions and became a teacher. I couldn’t be happier with my decision. I feel so lucky to have a career that I enjoy. For me, teaching often isn’t a job, but rather a passion. I have even been able to use my knowledge of design to help influence the success my students have had throughout the years. 
Many years ago as a first-year teacher, my administrator required all new faculty members to participate in professional development to help familiarize us with the HET (Highly Effective Teaching) Model. We read articles, discussed the research, and worked with certified consultants to understand how to set up brain-friendly learning environments, and design our curriculum to create more meaning for each student. The focus of our training was to create a physical environment that would enhance academic standards and instructional delivery, along with infusing a sense of authenticity into our units of study. I’m excited to share a few tips we learned throughout the course of our training along with findings others have shared through their research.
Click Here to View the 3 Tips and Full Post on Scholastic

Redesigning Learning Spaces: Free Webinar
September 17 at 7pm EDT
- click here to register for free and reserve your spot

Please join the Alliance for Excellent Education in a back-to-school webinar that is part of its Project 24 leadership series. Project 24 is a systemic planning framework around the effective use of technology and digital learning to achieve the goal of “career and college readiness” for all students. This Google Hangout will explore how classroom spaces can be transformed into brain-friendly digital learning environments. As founders of classroomcribs.comErin KleinBenjamin Gilpin, andA. J. Juliani will discuss how the learning environment, including physical spaces, plays a key role in how students learn and how creating a digital environment in such a space can transform the learning process as a whole.
If you are often debating between colors, themes, desk/table set up, and wondering how to design your learning space so it best supports all of your students, this webinar is for you. It will provide information and real school examples to assist in redesigning a classroom into one that considers brain research, gender, and digital impacts on learning. For administrators, this webinar will provide concrete examples of how the learning environment impacts student learning and how a classroom or building makeover may just be what is needed to take student achievement to the next level. Panelists will also address questions submitted by viewers from across the country.

Setting Up a Brain-Friendly Classroom

You can click on the above image or click here to view my webinar hosted through EdWeb from July.   This webinar focuses a lot on the "how - to" aspects.  I invite you to sign up for my upcoming second webinar which will focus on seeing several examples of classroom spaces that highlight brain-friendly learning.  

Second Webinar: More Strategies for Setting Up a Brain-Friendly Classroom
Thursday, September 18 at 5:00pm Eastern

Are you looking for easy and creative ideas for your best classroom ever? Our community’s three-part Setting Up a Wow Classroom series, sponsored by Quill.com, will show you fresh ways to set up and manage your classroom. In this final webinar of the series, second grade teacher and international design consultant, Erin Klein, will share specific examples of creative classroom environments, and how you can recreate them. In her previous webinar, “Setting up a Brain-Friendly, Beautiful Classroom,” attendees requested specific examples of brain-friendly classrooms, what they look like, the purposes of learning spaces, and more. In response, Erin partnered with colleagues around the country and in her global personal learning network to curate a rich portfolio of resources that she will share.  On September 18, she will discuss how to begin the process of rethinking your re-design, give you easy and manageable tips to get started, and show you several examples of thoughtfully-designed learning environments.  Attendees will learn:
  • How to get started with setting your room up for success
  • Simple tricks to make a big impact
  • Affordable ways to set up a brain-friendly space
As a bonus, Quill.com and Carson-Dellosa will be giving away two "Back-To-School" Bundles during the live event.  These bundles have a retail value of $90. Join Erin for this dynamic session and get practical tips you can take back to your classroom immediately!
Sponsored by Quill.com
Co-hosted by edWeb.net and Big Deal Media

Do You Have A Fun Learning Space to Share?  
We would LOVE to Feature you!

Remember MTV Cribs? We thought, what if that same concept of Cribs…met the classroom! From August 14th to September 14th we’ll be running a challenge that anyone can join. Here’s the details:

1. Rethink your learning space with the student in mind. What changes will enhance the learning experience?
2. Redesign your learning space and show us how you did it: Take pictures and video.
3. Create a 3-min “Cribs” video (or slideshow) showing off your new learning space. Include a short rationale for “why” you made the changes.
4. Submit your video/slideshow, rationale, and bio to have a chance to be featured on our site and win great prizes!
There will be tons of exposure to showcase your beautiful space.  We already have THOUSANDS of educators subscribed.  
Be sure to click here to subscribe AND click here to enter the challenge!
In order to subscribe, be sure to fill out the "Want Free Updates?" section on the right!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Guess What... @GoNoodle is Hoppin' - Must Have Fun for Back to School (l.o.v.e)!

Using GoNoodle Brain Breaks for
Motivation and Classroom Engagement

- click here to connect and start having fun - 

**Get a GoNoodle T-Shirt... enter below... scroll down!**

GoNoodle is one of my favorite new sites I've ever shared on Kleinspiration.  I love it for many reasons.  However, the main reason I enjoy sharing this resource with my readers is because my students love it and I've seen the benefits.  Granted, there are many things in life that benefit children, but they don't see the value.  This is different - it's beneficial and kids love it!

What is GoNoodle?
GoNoodle is a free resources anyone can use to encourage a healthy lifestyle in a  fun way by allowing users to participate in brief brain-breaks throughout the day.  

Simply set up a free account (click here) and begin the fun!  Select the video you'd like to move to and begin dancing and making your brain happy!

How does the site work?
Classes get to select a brain-break video from a vast archive of entertaining segments.  Click play and
begin your break.  Once you're video is finished, your class gets to see their "Class Champ" grow.  They simply LOVE this part.

The Class Champ is chosen by your class.  Think of this as your class mascot.  Fun, right?  

Why is this so successful?
From the Teacher...
The research indicates that children need frequent brain-breaks throughout the day.  Some studies have even shown that children need transitions between activities every 15 - 20 minutes.  The reason for this is that as children sit for too long, the blood isn't flowing throughout their body as efficiently as it would be as if they were moving.  Thus, the more children are moving around, the healthier it is for their brains.  Besides, physical activity is an important element of proper child development.  

Though the research supports promoting GoNoodle, I'm a big believer in common sense.  Let me try it.  If it works, then it's a keeper!  Seeing my students start to "zone-out" after an intense lesson, I decided to give GoNoodle a try.  It was a smash!!!  They LOVED it, and so did I.  Instantly, they were able to get their wiggles out, move around a bit, laugh together, and calm back down to refocus for the next academic task.  It was magical.  I especially loved that the entire process (having students stand, finding a video, playing and doing the brain break, and having students sit back down) took less than five minutes.  The gains were tremendous.  

While we did get all of the benefits of a brain-break, we also gained something else.  My students were laughing and smiling together.  This was priceless.  

From the Student... 
"Mrs. Klein, can we do another?" was the overwhelming response after our first GoNoodle brain break.  My kids had so much fun being able to have fun together.  I had fun watching and participating alongside the class.  

They were so motivated to do the academic tasks that followed the brain break.  They felt refreshed and looked to be refocused.  It was inspiring for me as a teacher to see this level of motivation and participation in the lessons that followed each brain break.  I think an added bonus was that we were building community within our class each time we'd do a brain break together.  There's truly something positive to be said for being able to have fun and laugh together as a group.  This made my class so much more willing to  take risks, answer questions, ask questions, and encourage deeper discussions.  They were so motivated in each learning task we did.  

Student engagement was enhanced through the use of these brain breaks as well.  I could tell that my children were more willing to participate, felt more comfortable with one another, and became more confident in the topics we were discussing.  Their focus and attention appeared to be redirected towards the learning objectives and tasks at hand.  Students were collaborating with one another in a more open manner and beginning to push each other's thinking.  They loved the energy these brain breaks were bringing to our learning environment.  

Wow - How Generous of GoNoodle!
GoNoodle is hosting a ton of amazing give-aways for teachers!  I'm so excited to share the wonderful prizes they are offering to each of you.  For Kleinspiration readers, they're giving away a GoNoodle T-Shirt.  You can enter to win below this post!  

Be sure to also HOP ON OVER to Amanda's blog at One Extra Degree.  She's hosting a fabulous prize, too!  Plus, she has a wonderful site that I'm sure you're going to love checking out.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Instantly Message with Parents via the NEW @ClassDojo Messenger App!

ClassDojo Messenger

I'm so excited to share with Kleinspiration friends that TODAY ClassDojo launches a brand new app, ClassDojo Messenger.  This new app allows you to connect with your student's parents with ease, throughout the day!  I found out about this fantastic new app today, via a GoogleHangout with one of the Dojo team members and dear friend, Manoj.  We recorded our chat so that you can hear about all of the awesomeness they have to offer.  You'll also get the added bonus of seeing my little monkey, Jacob, express his immediate need for pizza towards the end of the Hangout.  Enjoy!

You can check out more about ClassDojo Messenger by clicking here to connect to their site.  Additionally, their app is available for iOS devices and Android platforms.  The app is 100% free - so download today and start exploring!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

3 Ways to Rock Your Classroom Library!

Classroom Library Tools
If you are a Scholastic.com user, most likely you know about Book Wizard and what an amazing tool it is for finding and leveling books. Recently, Scholastic developed a mobile version for the iPhone and is currently working towards a version for the iPad.
Those who follow my blog know that I gravitate towards tools that are free and fantastic. Book Wizard Mobile fits both of these characteristics. After learning about and downloading the app, I was sitting with one of my students doing a reading conference. He had just finished book browsing for a few new selections. As we were discussing the books and getting them checked out to his name, I remembered I had the Book Wizard app. My life was about to get a whole lot easier.
Typically, children look for new books once they've read the ones in their cubby. After they "shop" and pick out their new finds, they have to check them out before putting them in their cubby. This brief checking out conference just means I have a one-on-one with the child to jot down the titles of their books. We discuss the genre of the books and what made them choose that particular story. Each conversation differs slightly. It is a chance for me to keep a record of the books my children are reading and track their interest pattern. I love any opportunity to get to know them better as readers.


1.  Reading Logs Made Easy

Since I had the Book Wizard app, I was able to grab my phone and scan each child's book. They thought it was so fancy. Adorable, right? Well, they weren't alone. I thought it was pretty fancy, too. This was one of those moments in my room that would change the way I managed my library. I love when I find a system that enhances a structure in my room to better my practice.  
Now I could select the child's name and have a complete list of the books they have checked out to read. Not only do I have an organized list of the book titles, the information also includes each book's level. At a quick glance, I have so much information at my fingertips. Of course, this system helps me keep track of all the books I own, too.  


2.  Search for Books and Save Them in an Organized List!

I was recently at a teaching workshop to learn more about The Phonics Dance. The presenter, Ginny Dowd, is one of the best. I always learn so much from her. As she was sharing strategies to teach comprehension, she would suggest several powerful mentor texts to go along with each strategy and lesson. While those around me grabbed their pens to jot notes onto paper, I pulled out my phone and launched the Book Wizard app.  

3.  Level Your Library in a Click

I've used several sites to help level my classroom library in the past. I would grab a basket of books, log into the site, and start entering titles to search for the book. Now . . . drum roll please . . .
With the Book Wizard app, I no longer have to lug the books over to my computer in baskets. I can be mobile with my device. I just grab my phone and walk around my classroom library scanning books. Instantly, the book and its information display on my screen. Magic!
One piece of advice — I'd caution teachers to remember that the Book Wizard app is brand new. I have found that not all of my books in my library are recognized in the application's system (although new titles are being added). For these books, I still use my traditional system of leveling. What is wonderful is when I order new books from Scholastic, as I unbox the stories, I scan each one to jot the level on the inside jacket. My second graders do not realize these are the book levels. They haven't really ever asked about the writing on the inside. One time I did hear a child tell another student that it must be the code so Mrs. Klein knows it is her book and where to put it back. I like for my students to read books that are just right. I don't like them to select books based on their level. I teach my students to find a book they are excited about based on the plot, author, genre, series, cover, etc., and then determine whether or not the book is too challenging.  

My favorite part is that the app is free! I'd love to hear if you are using the Book Wizard app. How do you organize your classroom library? What system do you use to manage the checking out of books?
Be sure to check out Lindsey's awesome post with tons of tutorials on Book Wizard Mobile. She's great!

Download the Free Book Wizard App Now

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Blended Learning Reflections and Notes from the #NAISToF Conference

This summer I was selected, along with 34 other educators across the country, to attend the National Association of Independent Schools Teachers of the Future Conference to be held in Alexandria, VA on the beautiful campus of Episcopal High School.  This year's conference is titled "Exploring Together: Blended and Online Learning" and focuses on four themes: blended and online learning, student health and well being, student assessment, and accreditation.  

During our morning sessions, participants were involved in rotating through a series of three stations: collaborative, independent, and direct instruction.  This rotation was to serve as a simulation for what we could take back to our own learning environments and use as a model for differentiated instruction.  Individuals numbered off into three groups.  My first group was direct instruction.  During this fifteen minute session, we viewed a brief presentation sharing the core elements of a blended learning model according to the NAIS.  

4 Essential Elements of a Blended Classroom:
a.  Small group instruction - increases effective instructional time by providing opportunities to teach to smaller groups of students
b.  Integrated digital content - engages students for individualized learning
c.  Differentiation - enables differentiated instruction for greater impact
d.  Data driven decisions - provides frequent, high-fidelity data to inform instructional decisions 

These essential elements should happen every day in a  blended learning environment.  Blended learning is a strategy to support personalized learning.    

I often talk about having balance within the classroom.  I do not believe there is a "one-sized fits all" form of instructional delivery.  I firmly believe that each year should look different for the methodologies used depending upon the class composition.  With that being stated, the saying "The more ways you teach, the more students you reach" perfectly applies.  A blended learning model can support this level of differentiation within the classroom environment.  I've been using a model of instruction in which allows my students to work in a variety of capacities along with receiving more personalized learning.  I refer to this method, or time during our class, as digital workstations. 

Grade 2 Classroom: Erin Klein
During our digital workstation time, students are working in partnerships to rotate through a series of flexible learning spaces within our classroom to demonstrate proficiency in concepts we're studying and apply their knowledge in creative and meaningful activities that are student driven.  Additionally, as part of the rotation, I meet with two partnerships to form a small group.  This small group time allows me to personalize the curriculum for the individual learners.  While I'm meeting with small groups, other partnerships are engaged in other content area stations around the room.  Because I involve the students in the planning of these stations, they take ownership of the activities.  The level of creativity they have when planning is to be admired.  I appreciate seeing how the students collaborate together when developing ideas for each week's station activities.  

You can read more about our digital workstations by viewing my complete post on Scholastic.  

In our afternoon session, we were asked to come up with a goal for ourselves to think about regarding  blended learning and innovative curriculum.  As I reflect on our digital workstation time, it is my personal goal to take this platform a step further by beginning to document student growth and progress.  By tracking student growth through formative assessment pieces and portfolio artifacts, it is my hope to demonstrate the benefits of personalized learning via small group and individual instruction.  I plan to continue using applications like FrontRow to track student data through adaptive assessment measures.  I will continue to share the process of our work as it evolves.  

Brad Ratgeber: "7 Rules of Thumb for Blended and Online Learning"
In closing, our cohort listened to two inspiring presentations led by Michael Nachbar and Brad Rathgeber regarding blended learning and online instruction.  It was beneficial to hear both individuals share about the power of student learning through blended and online environments.  During our break-out sessions, we met with grade level groups to discuss to each session.  It was comforting that each conversation throughout the day didn't focus on devices but rather the pedagogy.  So many ideas have been shared about meaningful ways to enhance curriculum through organic ways of utilizing a variety of mediums into the classroom.  I'm looking forward to following more  classrooms that are having success with blended learning environments, differentiated instruction, and personalized learning.  

If you're interested in following the resources shared throughout our learning experience at #naistof, I've curated the books, blogs, links, and more all on a Pinterest board that you can access by clicking here.  

Friday, July 25, 2014

Check out the NEW site: ClassroomCribs AND see How-To Set Up Brain-Friendly, Beautiful Learning Spaces!

Free Classroom Design Webinar:

I would love for you to join me on Tuesday, July 29th at 3pm ET for a free webinar all on setting up your classroom learning space.  Prior to going into teaching, I studied Interior Design.   Paying close attention to how we set up our spaces is very important.  We must take into account the children when determining so many components that go into designing our spaces.  You're invited to sign up for free and attend this webinar.  I hope to see you there!  

Check Out the NEW Site Classroom Cribs:

Also, I invite you to check out a project I'm working on with two of my dear friends, A.J. Juliani and Ben Gilpin.  Both individuals have lot of experience in establishing smart design for learning spaces.  We've launched a brand NEW site, ClassroomCribs.com.  Be sure to click here and check out the challenge we've created.  

How to get signed up?
Today is the preview of the ClassroomCribs site.  We are still in the works of putting the final pieces together.  Our goal is to launch this Tuesday, in conjunction with the design webinar I'm hosting.  

In order to get the latest, we'd love for you to simply go to ClassroomCribs.com and click on the orange box ("Learn More About Classroom Design").  Then, enter your email into the box.  That's it! 

We also hope you scroll down and browse the page.  Consider submitting your content video to be highlighted on ClassroomCribs!  We can't wait to show off your smart design!!

Our hope is to encourage teachers to design with intention.  We look forward to showcasing teachers who really highlight smart design in their rooms by thinking about how the space will enhance student learning.  If you're working on designing your classroom this summer, be sure to check out our site as a resource and even share your ideas!

We also encourage you to share your design ideas on all social media sites (Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and more... by using the hashtag #ClassroomCribs).  In other words, every time you share a photo of setting up your classroom or learning space, be sure to use the #ClassroomCribs tag so your space can be seen! 

Summer Learning Series:

My best friend, Todd Nesloney, will start this year as a new principal.  I'm so proud of him and all he's accomplished!  This summer, he launched a Summer Learning Series for anyone to join.  Each week, he sends out challenges to encourage his faculty and teachers around the world to connect, grow, and share together.  The response he's received has been nothing short of overwhelming.  This week, his challenge is focused on classroom design.  Check out the video below for more information, and you can click here to see all of his challenges.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

ClassDojo is now school-wide!

Hey Kleinspiration readers!

Manoj here from ClassDojo :)

Since 2011, millions of teachers around the world have used ClassDojo to save time and teach important behaviors like curiosity, grit, and helping others. And because teachers are so innovative, you've found really unique ways to work closer as grade-level teams or even across a school with ClassDojo — even though we never built the features to make it possible! From sharing the same login to printing out student reports and discussing them in teacher lounges, we've heard it all :)

Today, I'm excited to share with you new features that make using ClassDojo across an entire grade-level or school a lot easier! For the first time, you’ll be able to connect with other teachers in your school to teach classes together, share student rosters, and track your students’ progress across all their different classes! Using ClassDojo school-wide has been by far and away the most requested feature from teachers, so we hope that it makes a huge impact in your schools!

Read more details about these new features on the ClassDojo Community Forum!

We hope you love what we’re launching today, and we’d love your feedback! Feel free to tweet at me (@mklamba or @ClassDojo) or email our Teacher Support Team at hello@classdojo.com :)

Enjoy the rest of your summers!

Manoj and the ClassDojo team

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Stitch Fix: The Perfect Way to Shop for Busy Teachers!

I Went from Being Skeptical to Falling in Love
- click here to start and fill out your style profile

I've contemplated about sharing about this service on my blog for a few reasons.  First, this is a resource sharing blog.  Second, it is an education blog.  Third, I'd be pushing my referral link.  Well, after receiving my second shipment of items, I decided to rethink the idea of sharing this on my site.  Because this is a resource sharing site, I'd like to share this great resource with all of you.  Additionally, since teachers are often busy (and it is REALLY difficult to shop with our own children), I thought it would be a perfect idea to share.  Lastly, while I will share my referral link, you do not have to use it.  Granted, it would be super cool if you did; however, that is not why I am sharing this with you.  For full disclosure, I do receive a $25 credit for each friend that uses my referral link.  I'm sharing this with you because I simply think it is a wonderful idea that you, too, could benefit from and enjoy.  

When my dear friend, Maria (from KinderCraze), shared Stitch Fix with me, I was skeptical.  However, she swore by it.  I kept seeing her photos on Instagram.  She always looked adorable!  Plus, she wasn't "some blogger I followed."  She was a friend right here in Michigan.  I had a level of trust that really helped me decide to give this thing a try.  Besides, it was only $20 to get started.  If it was as great as she claimed, it would be worth it in the end.  --- boy, was she right!

What is Stitch Fix?
It's an online service that pairs you with a personal stylist.  You can click here to see more.  

How do you get started?
You simply click here and set up an account.  You'll need to plan to have about 10-20 minutes because you will have to fill out your personal profile.  You will be asked questions about your style and design taste.  You will also need to plug in your sizes and measurements.  It is a simple and fun process.  You will also need to be prepared with your credit card information because there is a $20 fee to get started.  When you receive your first package, you will have that $20 credited towards the items you decide to keep.  

Something good to know...
Your first "fix" takes a while to receive.  I believe mine took about six weeks.  However, my second one arrived just three weeks later.  Now, I can set the frequency for delivered packages.  They will come as often or as little as I like.

It's super easy to return what you don't like.
Inside your box is a return bag that is pre-paid for postage.  Try on what you like and keep it.  Place the items you wish to return in the bag and mail back.  Go online and "check out" the items that you're keeping.  You'll get to make comments about the items you're returning so your stylist gets a better idea of what you like. 

What I love most:
It is fun to receive packages of new clothes in the mail.  It was very simple to set up and get started.  I love that the styles and patterns are something I may not pick up to try on in a store.  However, when I try them on at home from Stitch Fix, I love them!  My favorite part is that I've found two pair of pants from Stitch Fix that I absolutely love.  I am very picky when it comes to jeans.  Somehow, these fit just right.  I couldn't be happier!