Friday, May 17, 2013

Doodle 4 Google 2013

Students in my 1st through 6th grade classes had the opportunity to participate in the Doodle 4 Google contest this year. This year's theme was "My Best Day Ever." Although we did not make it to the finals, we had an amazing amount of entries turned in that were exceptionally creative and fun. Here are just a few of the amazing doodles that we received. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

QR Code Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt

I must be the world's worst blogger. I had really high hopes for Berkery Bytes but my last entry was August 26th, 2012 during the 2nd week of school. Yikes! I must say this year has been busy, VERY busy. Needless to say, with teaching, working on and raising a toddler, blogging has taken a backseat. This post even took four days with all the interruptions to write up. However, you're in luck, today I have a fun post to share! 

Back on March 1st, I attended the Illinois Computer Educator's (ICE) conference. If you are able to attend, this is definitely a conference you do not want to miss. Every year, I have learned so much from it! This year, I attended a session that really inspired me. It was called Get Snapping with QR Codes by James Gubbins. I would definitely check out his presentation. I enjoyed it so much so that I came back and created a lesson. I created a QR Code Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt for my 4th, 5th, and 6th graders. 

Prior to the activity and even the planning of the activity, I set aside one day with each of my classes where we could view & talk about James Gubbin's slideshow. I originally started to create my own slideshow and even though it showed my presentation was saved, it somehow got wiped off of Sliderocket's website. Don't ask me how but it's gone. In a crunch for time, I decided to show Mr. Gubbin's slideshow instead. Even though his presentation was intended for teachers, I figured a lot of my students would "get" the material after I explained which they did so I was happy and they were excited for the scavenger hunt day to arrive.

Prior to the activity, I wrote up a Bring your Own Device letter for students to bring home to their parents. A lot of students already had their devices at school but they are usually locked up in the lockers during the day. The intent of my letter was not only for students to have permission to use their devices during the school day but also download one of the free QR Code scanner apps. You can see the parent letter here or by clicking on the snapshot below. 
Now for my initial idea of the actually "hunt," I had wanted to hide plastic Easter Eggs around school that had QR Codes inside them. However, after thinking about it, I decided it would probably not turn out the way I wanted. I did not want students touching the QR Codes, wrinkling them or smearing the ink and then making them unreadable. However, I think back now and laminating them would have solved that issue. My next concern was that if I did hide plastic Easter Eggs around the school, they would get moved or touched by other students. Therefore, I nixed that idea. For my first step, I decided to cut out paper Easter Eggs out of card-stock in nine different colors. I felt that hiding those would be a better idea because I could tape them in different places. Looking back, although I did not have problems with students touching them, I wish I would have laminated those.

Next, I had to create the QR codes. I searched for anything and everything on facts about eggs. I had links to informational websites, blogs, videos that were informational as well as musical, and a fun, personality quiz that I made up on "What Type of Egg are You?" After I found my nine links, I generated questions on a worksheet and then created the QR Codes using the website called QR Stuff

Here is a snapshot of the worksheet below. To see the full size, click here.

The week of the hunt was here! Students began the hunt in my room and scanned a QR Code on my overhead screen that had the rules of the hunt. As a group, they had to read the rules before they set off. Rules were simple. No running, shouting, etc. We have 35+ classes going on so I did not want them to be disruptive. And surprisingly, they were VERY well behaved and engaged throughout the whole activity. As for the eggs, they were hidden in the hallways, stairwells and students had to search high and low. All the eggs  were in reach for students to scan them. Here are a few photos from our scavenger hunt. Some students got into the spirit and even made bunny ears to wear. 


Now day one went smoothly, very smoothly! Keep in mind though, I had four more days of classes. Day two approached and completely FAIL! All of the students were losing their connection. Although we have quite a few REALLY OLD access points around school, it was kicking them all off. By afternoon, our tech support, Mr. Carlin had set up a 2nd network connection strictly for my students. We connected and we were off again on the hunt successfully. However, by late afternoon, the whole school's network shut down. I guess the 2nd network connection created was kicking all the teachers off and no one knew why. Now even though I'm a technology teacher, when it comes to "techie" stuff with the network and connections, I'm lost. So forgive me if I'm not relaying the correct information. After the main network was restored, we decided to try containing the hunt to my classroom. Students and myself were bummed but at least in my room, they would not lose their connection. Unfortunately, a lot of their devices needed to be hooked up to the wireless or else we would have kept going around school. Keeping it in my room for the rest of the week was very successful. I did have to get a little creative hiding the eggs but my students still had an "egg-citing" time.  

In the end, the hunt might not have worked out exactly like I had planned but all students were able to complete it in my classroom, learn interesting facts about eggs and learn how QR codes work. 

The best part? My students are now coming up to me all the time to tell me about QR codes they have scanned. Just the other day while I supervised the lunchroom, a student brought up his lunch container and asked me to scan the code right there since he did not have his phone. Priceless! 

Our school year is coming to a close but I no longer fear the QR code!!!! I plan on integrating it into a lot more of my lessons next year, create a bulletin board with it, put some up on my website, and even try to get other teachers on board as well. Thank you James Gubbins for inspiring me!

For those reading, if you would like any of the handouts to edit and make your own or have questions, feel free to email me at

Hopefully I'm able to post a lot more in the future. I have some great bulletin board ideas for my classroom and hope to share those. I will also be making updates on my website as well so stay tuned for changes! 

Have a wonderful day and enjoy the end of the school year!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

My website:

Have you checked out my website: Berkery Tech? If not, please stop on by. 

I'm continuously adding new links and resources to it. If there is a resource, tool or website you think I should add, please send it my way!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Back to School-Part 1

We just finished the first two weeks of school. We started the first week with the assumption that we would not have the Internet until September (possibly even as late as of November).  Devastating news- not something you want to hear as a tech teacher. Our system was fried during a storm so we had to wait for the new set-up. Luckily, by the end  of the 1st week, we were up again and running. Phew!

Since we originally didn’t know when we’d be up and going, I planned some activities that only required my laptop hooked up to the projector. Some of these activities I have done before and some are new.

I began each class reviewing the rules of my lab. You can see the slideshow here. However, in my original PowerPoint, I used the font "payphone" and my images are animated.

Next, instead of me standing in front of the room and reviewing the parts of a computer or parts we use in technology, I created a game called “The Buzz Game.” Since the bee is mascot for our school behavior rules, I knew I wanted to keep that theme throughout the game. 

I created  a PowerPoint where there were four sections to the game and in this game, I had 52 questions total. However, for my 1st graders, I only did section one.
The sections included:
1. Parts in Technology
2. The Keyboard *students had identify what functions keys performed on the keyboard
3. The Screen *students had to identify things like icons, cursors and then buttons in word processing
4. The Rules *simply a review of my class rules

We used a device called the Eggspert to add some fun and excitement to the game.  One student exclaimed he felt like he was on a game show. It was great to see how focused they were on answering the questions and could not wait to buzz in.
The rules of the game were simple.  I divided the class into boys versus girls. The girls sat on one side and used the pink, yellow and orange buzzers while the boys sat on the other side and used green, blue and purple. Three students from each side would come up and be up there for 3 questions. I would read the question and then there were allowed to buzz in. If they got it correct, their team was rewarded 10 points. However, if they got it wrong, a random person was selected by “Eggspert” and if the next person got it correct, they received 20 points. Of course, we reviewed good sportsmanship before the game and everyone was an excellent team player. My students had a lot of fun during the game and I plan on using this throughout the year to review skills after the different lessons we complete. Great way to keep everyone attentive. 

Here are a few of the slides from the game:

Stay tuned for “Part 2” of this post since I have a few other “Back to School” activities to share. 

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Friday, August 10, 2012

Using Paint Chips for Student Usernames and Passwords

I have a confession. I’m a Pinterest addict. To date, I have 90 boards and 2,875 pins. Between school ideas to recipes to crafting, I can’t get enough of it. Since a lot of my friends are educators and I follow many educators on Pinterest, I’m always impressed by all the neat and creative ideas they pin. 

My latest obsession would have to be paint chips. I’ve seen them on Pinterest used for artwork, as bookmarks, gift tags, flashcards, and scrapbooks and even as a chandelier.

Seriously, how cute is this Halloween project? 
Original idea found here
Or what about 100 day countdown chain?
Original idea found here
I love these journals made from paint chips!
You could even purchase these here if you didn't want to make your own.
You can find a ton of bookmark ideas using paint chips. It would be fun to let the kids spruce them up with stamps, glitter, stickers or other fun embellishments. 
Original idea found here
Needless to say, if you search “paint chips” on Pinterest, a ton of cool ideas will come up.
That’s how I stumbled across this great idea for keeping track of student usernames and passwords. In the pasts, I collect slips upon slips of paper, all different sizes with student usernames and passwords and they end up cluttering my desk.

Since we needed things for the house, I headed out to Menards and Home Depot and picked up three different kinds of paint chips. I wasn't sure which layout I wanted to go with. At Menards, I picked up paint chips by Dutch Boy and Pittsburgh Paints. At Home Depot, I ended up getting Behr.  I did feel a little guilty taking the paint chips but since I am going to be painting my new house, I guess I justified my cause. Plus, I told the workers at each place what I was using them for and they said take as many as I like. I guess that’s good since I have 600-700 students. I’ll probably encourage my students to get some as well to contribute to the class if they ever make trips to these stores. 

I’m still deciding which set of paint chips I like the best. I might have the students vote.  For now, I wrote in the information as an example but for the little guys, I might run off their info on labels and just have them stick it on. We'll see. I think it would be fun for them to decorate the one on the top with their name. I know some of my students just love to bedazzle things. 
With the first set of paint chips, I didn't cut these down. I thought about leaving it whole because some of my students' usernames and emails can get pretty lengthy. Also, the first set which is by Dutch Boy are perforated. I thought it might be useful so if students wanted to copy their info to take home, they can tear off the bottom part. Or if they wanted to write down notes about the website they were using, they could do so at the bottom.  The other two sets are smaller since I cut them in half. Smaller might be easier to store. I'm still deciding how to attach them as well. Different colored ribbons are fun and fasteners work, too. However, I did like the idea of using loose-leaf rings but I didn't like the original price I first saw since I need 600-700 of them. If you are just doing this for a class of 30, no problem. I did a little searching and I did find for a box of 100 at 
rulers. com for $5.81 so I might just buy them and reuse them each year. 
So that's my little Pinterest project of the week for my classroom. If I was a homeroom teacher, I would probably incorporate paint chips into just about everything and every subject. However, for now, I'll use them to add some color to my room and store information in one place.  

If your looking for more inspiration in education on Pinterest, feel free to check out my boards. I have a board labeled "Education" since I did use to be a 5th grade teacher and you never know when I might go back to having a homeroom or there are ideas that can have technology integrated into them as well. Of course, I have one labeled "Technology Education" that is growing. 

Have a great week! 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Using Edmodo in the Classroom

I became a huge fan of Edmodo a couple years ago. I tried it out with my 5th and 6th graders a couple years back and it was an immediate hit. I probably use it quite differently than most teachers. In the past, I have not really used it for students to hand in assignments or grades but more for social networking, practicing internet safety/ netiquette, sharing finished projects and simply getting to know my students better. 

Since we use it in my technology class, majority of my posts are tech related. However, I do throw in some “just for fun” posts for their entertainment. Also, it’s a great tool to help my shy students come out of their shell a little bit. Overall, with the help of Edmodo, not only do they really think about the technology they are using or learn about it but I give them a platform to interact with other students in a safe environment.  I monitor EVERYTHING! This year, I am making a couple changes and I plan on using the "Quiz" feature, having students submit some assignments like their Word Processing documents and I plan on adding 4th graders to the mix so that should be exciting.

With that being said, there are several types of weekly posts I post on Edmodo.  It usually ranges from 10-15 posts on Monday and then I’ll interact with the students throughout the week. It usually takes me about 20-30 minutes to post everything Monday morning. Below you will find examples of what is posted on my threads.
  • Rules-In the beginning, I post my rules daily; sometimes twice a day. If I update my rules, I alert them. Since we are just starting off and I do not want the feeds being filled with silly posts or a student just saying hi, I inform students they are not allowed to initiate posts. Some will try and they get deleted. Also, I send them a friendly reminder to follow our rules. I find this important because with 300-350 students, if I gave them free reign to post anything, a lot of students would miss out on my posts that I would like them to respond to. 
  • Edmodo Star of the Week-Once they get the gist of my expectations, I will choose an Edmodo Star of the Week. I base this on students that interact on my posts, are courteous and respectful, and try their best with correct spelling, punctuation and capitalization. These star students get free reign for the week and are allowed to initiate posts and provide me with polls they would like me to post.
  • Say Hello Thread-Since I do not allow the students to post a simple “hi” or “hello” that will clog our feeds, I start a “Say Hello” thread every week. Here students can stop by, say hello to all their friends and see who is on Edmodo. 
  •   Tech Trivia Question of the Week
  •    Computer Joke of the Week          
  • Cool Computer Art
  • Polls (Technology & Just for Fun)-One thing I learned using Edmodo is students are ADDICTED to polls. They love answering them and seeing how others answer. I usually post one technology related poll and one “just for fun” poll.
  •          Family Feud
  •       “LOL” Learn Our Language Text of the Week
  • Cool Technology Facts
Other types of posts you might find on our feeds…
  • Depending on the holiday, I’ll post trivia, jokes and polls related to that holiday as well.
  • Optical Illusions (always a hit!)
  • Congratulate specific students on a job well done or specific achievements
  • Websites related to topics they are studying
  • Word Games
  • Computer Tricks
  • Start a Story *I'll start a story and they continue it with writing 2-3 lines. 
  • Photo of the day *on special days, I’ll let them post a photo relating to the criteria I listed. (i.e. pets, nature, family)
  • Apps of the Week –since a lot of my students have iPhones or iPads, I’ll post free apps they can download. (with parental permission of course)
So in a nutshell, that’s how I use Edmodo in the classroom. I plan on brainstorming and adding a few more fun topics to my threads this next year. 

What about you? 

How do you use Edmodo? I'd love to hear!

Have a great week!