August 1, 2017

Grading Done in a Zip! Using ZipGrade

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I don't honestly remember how I heard about ZipGrade but I wish I knew who told me because I want to give them a HUGE hug!! The ZipGrade App has to be one of the BEST programs I have ever used for grading. It is so simple, easy, cheap, and organized! I honestly don't know how it could get any better!

Click HERE to see a tutorial on how to use ZipGrade.

Why do I love ZipGrade? 

  • It makes grading objective tests so simple & easy. All I have to do is make a key on either the paper answer sheet and take a picture of it or I can enter it in on my phone manually. Then, I literally snap pictures of my student's tests and it grades them for me. It shows me what they missed and their score so all I have to do is write on the test. No more walking to a machine in the teacher's work room to grade my papers! I can actually grade them as they turn them in as long as the test is purely objective.  
  • It is cheap. It is free for up to 100 papers a month. Since I teach about 150+ students, this wouldn't even get me through one test. However, it is only $6/yearly for unlimited. I bought it last year and plan to continue to renew it. The answer sheets (3 different versions) are FREE online. No more buying answer sheets from companies that charge a fortune! All you have to do is make copies of them. Here is a link to them.  You can also make a custom answer sheet. This is a new feature so I haven't tried it yet. 
  • Everything is so organized. All my data is on my one little app. I can see each test average. I can see the item analysis showing me how many students missed each question. I have everything there in one place, my phone. I can quickly tell if a student has taken the test by looking at my phone. I can also quickly tell a parent during a conference what their child has been making on their tests without having to sort through all that paper. 
  • Students can use pens or pencils. If you have ever dealt with needing students to only have pencils for a test, you know how big of a pain this is. It doesn't matter on these answer sheets. They can use a pen and can even use correction fluid without it messing the system up. 
  • You can easily make questions different point values with one click of a button. 
  • You can easily change an individual grade or an entire class's grades if you need to throw out a question. 
  • Only the teacher needs technology in order to use ZipGrade so no worrying about your students needing technology. 
I have to say that ZipGrade is one of the best programs I have EVER used in twelve years of teaching. I will never go back to grading objective tests by hand or using a separate machine. 

What do you think? Like ZipGrade? Have questions? Comment below. 

EdPuzzle: Make Your Videos More Interactive

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I enjoy using videos and video clips in my classes but sometimes they can be boring. Well, I have found the solution to this. I use EdPuzzle. It enables you to cut videos, include voice notes, and incorporate questions INTO the actual video. How can you get better than that? Click HERE for a video tutorial that will hopefully help you get your EdPuzzle account set up and help you to create your first interactive video. I hope that you will find this helpful! Please comment below with any questions you might have.

Polling and Questioning Made Easy with Slido

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I recently discovered this really cool tool and I am excited to try using it in my classroom. I had the opportunity to use it during a presentation I gave at the SREB Conference in early July and it was a hit with the teachers. I can't wait to see how it goes over with my kiddos!

Slido enables you to create surveys for your students to answer but you can also use the other feature that enables your students to write questions to you. 

Step 1

Obviously, the first step is to go to

Step 2

If you click Create An Event, it will take you to a Signup/Login page. At this point, of course, you will enter your personal information. 

Step 3

Then you can click on Create New Event, which lets you title your event anything that you want to title it. At this point, you can click the green right arrow key that will actually start the process of creating your event. 

Step 4

Now, you must decide if you want to do a Question or a Poll. The poll section allows you to give your students questions to survey their answers. You can select both multiple choice questions and open-ended questions for your poll. If you pick the Question section, this will allow your students (with a key, which I will show you how to use later) to enter in questions they have in real-time. For example, I used this during my conference presentation and it allowed attendees to write in questions while I was talking and not interrupt me. I was able to check the questions at the end of the presentation and see what I needed to address. One of the best features I like is that it lets participants/students to upvote different questions so you don't get the same question asked 15 times. Students can simply show that they also have this question by upvoting it. The question most asked will show at the very top of the question list. 

Step 5

Once you have set up either your poll or your question event, you will need to give your students the code. This code will be located at the top of your screen and the middle of the screen on your Questions Event page. It will be located on the top of your screen on the Polls page. All students have to do is go to Slido and enter the code into the box to join your event. 

Other features:

  • Analytics, which will enable you to see the results of the polls as well as the engagement on the questioning part. 
  • It also allows you to put the screen up with the code as well as the results or questions so that students can view them on a projector screen. 

I was very excited to find this handy tool. I can see the Questioning feature being very helpful during videos or at home assignments. I would definitely make sure you set rules about what is appropriate to enter. I also love the idea of using the polls as entrance/exit tickets. 

So how would you use Slido? I would love to hear your ideas! Please post your ideas in the comments below. 

July 31, 2017

Make Using Multiple Sites Painless with OneTab

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Have you ever looked up & realized that you had like 10 tabs open on your computer screen and you needed to save all of them? What about needing to have them all available for your next class? I know I have. Teaching several preps, I hate having to switch back and forth between all the tabs I may need for a day. I could have open a Google Slide presentation, a couple of YouTube videos, a website, a photograph, etc. and I need them all for a class period. Then I have the same amount for the next period because it is a different class. UGH!! Well, OneTab makes this super easy!

Check out the instructions below or this Video Tutorial to see how to do this! Never again will you get frustrated about having to switch websites!

Step 1

This is a Google Extension so you will need to be on Google Chrome in order to benefit from this application. Go to the Google Extension site & add it. You will notice that mine says "Rate it" because I already have the application. You will click the "Add to Chrome" button like the one below it.

Step 2

Step 1 should then put this icon on the right top of your screen.

Step 3

Now in Google Chrome, open all the tabs that you need for this particular situation. Once you have the ones you want, click on the icon in Step 2. This screen will then appear. (I used Social Media Sites as my example.)

Step 4

Next, you will want to name your tabs so you know which set of tabs you will want to restore. To do this, you will click on the words 4 tabs and a box will appear for you to rename it. See below how I named mine Social Media.

Step 5

Now that you have everything set up, you can close your browser. When you need to utilize these tabs again, all you do is open your browser & click on the icon from Step 2 in the top right-hand side of your screen. This screen will pop up & you will click on "Restore All."

Step 6 

After clicking on "Restore All," all your tabs should be restored on your browser like the screen below.


Step 7

If you want to be able to keep using these same tabs day after day, I highly suggest that you lock your tabs so you don't risk deleting them. All you need to do is click the MORE tab on the screen you used in Step 5. After you click MORE, you will have the option to click "Lock this Tab Group." I suggest you do this. You can also Star your group if that helps you organize them as well.
Also check out the OneTab Help Information HERE

When I saw OneTab for the first time, I was hooked. I LOVE being about to make tabs for each class period as well as for those sites that I need to visit every morning. I hope that OneTab helps you as much as it has helped me! 

Comment below & tell me how you plan to use OneTab! I would love to hear some creative ways to make all of our lives easier!!!

July 30, 2017

Tech Talk Week with the Secondary Series Crew

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Oh my goodness, I am SO excited! I feel so honored to be a part of such an incredible and knowledgeable group of teachers that are all joining together tonight for, "Tech Talk Week." Every night this week, starting tonight at 7 CST, we will be bringing teachers from all over the world together to talk about great technology they can and should be using in their classrooms. Not only will there be great discussions to be had and learning galore but there will be a gift card giveaway (2 to be exact!) and professional development hours earned. What a way to start the 2017-2018 school year?!

I just can't wait to be a part of this exciting experience! If you aren't already a part of the Secondary Series Facebook Group, you need to be! Just click HERE and ask to join. Be sure that you fill out the questions we ask. This is a way to survey what you are interested in and also make sure you aren't some weird creeper! :)

In order to be entered into the giveaways & get Professional Development Credit, you will need to click the image below. You can share out about this awesome series to receive more chances to win as well as answer questions for each module (the questions will be asked in the videos) to receive Professional Development Credit.

The giveaways end on Saturday, August 5th but you can receive Professional Development hours all the way until September 5th!

I hope to see you all there!!!

July 6, 2017

Celebrating Patriotic Holidays in ANY Classroom!

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I have always loved the 4th of July celebration that my home church does every year. They play the US Military Medley and ask that all veterans and active duty military within that branch come down to the front to be honored when their military anthem is played. I love the fact that we take just a few moments to honor these great men and women for their service. As the wife of a U.S. Navy Veteran and a Social Studies teacher, I feel like we cannot take enough time to celebrate these special people and the history of our nation.

I have always made a special effort to incorporate patriotic holidays into my classroom but any teacher in any classroom can do this. Just because you don’t teach Social Studies, doesn’t mean that you can’t take a few minutes to incorporate a patriotic holiday into your curriculum for the day.
Here are just a few ways that I have done this:


Music is probably my favorite way to incorporate patriotic holidays. There are so many awesome patriotic songs out there from the old songs like Yankee Doodle to the more modern songs celebrating our nation.
  • I like to have music playing when students walk into class or while they are working on independent assignments.
  • Sometimes I will play music and just ask students to write their feelings about the songs or the words. This would work well in an ELA class but would be a great change of pace for a Science or Math class too. Plus this doesn’t take very long either. I usually only do this for maybe a minute more than the time it takes for the song to play. Typically then I would ask for a volunteer or two to share their writing with the class.


I love to have students write in my classroom and patriotic holidays are no exception. Here are a few writing prompts I have used over the years with students to celebrate patriotic holidays:
  • How does your family celebrate this holiday?
  • Why do you think it is important to celebrate this holiday?
  • What does this holiday mean to you as an American?
  • Give students a patriotic quote or show them a photograph and ask them what it means to them or how it makes them feel.


I think visuals are especially helpful to students when they aren’t very familiar with the meaning of a holiday. I have used a variety of videos, both commercial and homemade over the years to help me
  • The History Channel usually has short clips about each holiday sharing the history of it. Typically these are less than 5 minutes and could easily be incorporated as a warm-up or prompt for a quick write. For example, here are their July 4th videosthey just posted.
  • I love to show music videos if they tell a story. You could do this as a quick write as well. Here are just a few of my favorites: Letters From Home, Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning, If You Are Reading This, 8th of November, Born in the U.S.A., and God Bless the USA (9/11 Tribute).
    • I like to play several of these music videos so I usually create a YouTube Playlist and let it just play from one to the next. If you have no idea how to do this, check out Amanda Write Now’s post that explains how to do this.
  • My new favorite way to use videos is to interview people that my students know. This past year, I interviewed about 5 different teachers to ask them what they remembered about September 11th and their feelings. I uploaded these to YouTube and had my students watch them. They absolutely loved watching them! I am planning to add to this compilation each year with the goal of getting as many teachers to share their, “9/11 Story,” as I call it.
I don’t think that teachers need to spend all class period discussing a patriotic holiday (outside of Social Studies class) but I think it is a great way to show students how important it is to be an American citizen and support your country. It is also great for them to see their teachers incorporating other content areas into their classroom.
If you would like some additional ideas, I have several items in my store that you might like.


This item was originally created for K-5 teachers but can easily be incorporated into secondary classrooms. This product includes a bulletin board/poster template, a Pledge of Allegiance Writing Assignment, & a Veteran’s Day Web Assignment. It can also give you some ideas of ways you can easily incorporate patriotic holidays into math, ELA, and science classrooms.

Additional Patriotic Products!

June 26, 2017

#Syllabus Day

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I don't know about you but I absolutely HATE syllabus day. It has to be the most boring thing to go over the syllabus. I used to just stand up and talk all period explaining all the rules, procedures, blah, blah, blah. I get bored thinking about it and I know my students do too! I have also tried giving my students questions to go along with the syllabus that they get a grade for, which did work better than me talking the whole time. However, this year I am doing something different. I want the syllabus day to be more interactive and fun. Plus I actually want them to remember what the syllabus says about classroom procedures.

Here is what I plan to do this year! Feel free to use this idea! It is super low-tech and easy enough that any level middle or high school student should be able to do this with minimal teacher involvement.

Supplies needed: 

---Butcher paper cut into sections depending on how many sections of your syllabus you have.
---Copies of your syllabus in sections.


Step 1
Before students enter the room, put butcher paper up around the room with different headings based off the different sections of your syllabus. For example: Leaving the Classroom, Make-up Work, etc. Put your syllabus into sections and post 1-2 copies with each piece of butcher paper. You can either tape them to the wall or put them in a folder placed near the paper. 

Step 2
Put students into small groups. I usually try to limit it to no more than 2-3 students in a group but this depends of course on class size and how many sections of your syllabus you have.

Step 3
Assign each group to a piece of butcher paper/section of your syllabus. For example, one group may have the section about Make-up Work whereas another group may have the section about Leaving the Classroom.

Step 4
In groups, the students will read their section of the syllabus. Each group will create 2 hashtags to simplify/summarize this section of the syllabus. They should write these on the butcher paper.  

For example, here is my Leaving the Classroom section of my syllabus:

Students will not be allowed to leave class unless it is an emergency. Students will be given a Panther Pass, which will allow them to leave 3 times during the course of the semester. These uses must be either at the beginning or end of class, not in the middle of instruction. Plan accordingly. Use these passes wisely because when they are gone, you will not be allowed to leave the room for any reason. These passes have a 5 minute time limit unless the student has a legitimate reason for being out of class for more than 5 minutes. These passes are assigned to specific students and students cannot use someone else’s pass. This will not be allowed. Also, if passes are lost, they will not be reissued. So be sure you hang onto yours! Put it in a safe place!

For this section, might do: #3timesurout, #5m2dourbiz, or #betterkeepyourpassclose

Step 5
Give the students approximately 3 minutes for step 3 and then have them move to another section of the syllabus doing the same thing creating 2 hashtags for each section. Do this until each group has been able to go through each of the sections of the syllabus. Make sure you tell the students ahead of time that they aren't allowed to duplicate hashtags so they should get creative! 

Step 6 
Have students go back to their original group paper and give them 3-5 minutes to pick out the top 3 hashtags they will share with the class about that section of the syllabus giving a brief explanation as to why they picked them. 

Step 7
Take the hashtags that students created & put them on colored paper and post them around the room. This is a great way to remind students of the basic rules and procedures they will need for your classroom but doesn't require a large poster or lots of time creating something.  

Let me know what you think about this lesson idea! Any ideas on ways to improve on it? Have you ever done something fun to teach your syllabus? I would love to hear about it!