Minecraft in the Classroom

I have recently been exploring Minecraft in the Classroom lately!  Our district has Office 365 and Minecraft Education Edition is included.   I knew how to play Minecraft, but needed to learn about how to incorporate it and manage it in the classroom.

Screen Shot 2019-04-09 at 10.37.09 AMDid you know that there is an online course where you can learn how to use Minecraft and manage it in your classroom?  Check out “My Minecraft Journey” to learn more.  I recently completed the course.  It’s amazing how many different concepts students can demonstrate in Minecraft.

One class at my school has a financial literacy project coming up.  The original project has students creating a restaurant on paper and calculating area.  Students are also to order from the menu at the restaurant.  Students calculate profit and more in this unit.  Screen Shot 2019-04-12 at 9.23.54 AMI suggested that the students create their restaurants in Minecraft Education Edition.  Our plan is for teams to plan the restaurant on paper (dimensions, tables, ordering counter, menu, etc…) including which player will build which item.   Then, students will use their blueprints to create in Minecraft.  When the restaurants are complete, students will have their Minecraft character visit other restaurants and order from their menus with the chat feature.  Students will keep track of orders on paper to calculate profit at the end of the business day.  They can also take screen shots or use the Minecraft camera to document their activity and learning, as well.

I’m excited that one class can be in the same Minecraft world that the teacher can manage.  The teacher can customize world settings, locate players, and can communicate with students using the chat feature.  There are so many possible learning opportunities!!  Share ways your students are using Minecraft in the classroom in the comments.

Scaffolding with Keynote

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To support students in an independent activity, teachers can create a template in Keynote and AirDrop it to student iPads.  I created a template for measurement for second graders recently.  The students needed to demonstrate that they could measure with inches, centimeters, cubes, and paper clips.

The Measurement Keynote includes an image placeholder for each unit of measurement.  The students tap the image icon and can use the camera within Keynote to take a picture of the object they measured.  They can then edit the label to indicate how long an object is.  When finished, the students can export the keynote as images and share their work with others in Seesaw.

A template is helpful for several reasons.  It cuts down on the set up time for the students.  It also provides students with structure for the product they will create.  This activity is also a stepping stone to creating with Keynote independently.

How do you make an image placeholder?  This option is available on Keynote for Mac.  First, insert an image or image icon into Keynote and size it as desired.  Then, with the image selected, go to Format > Advanced > Define as Media Placeholder.  That’s it!

An iPad hack for creating image placeholders is to create the template on a Mac and then share the Keynote to the iPad (or download the Measurement Keynote I created to the iPad).  You can then copy and paste the image placeholder to another Keynote. 😊

Stop Motion to Demonstrate the Phases of the Moon 🌕

I was challenged to create an activity about the phases of the moon using the iPad with second grade students.  I wanted to do something the students hadn’t done before.  I looked for inspiration online and came across this blog post posted by Erin*tegration.  She wrote about using stop motion to show the phases of the moon.  I immediately wanted to try that with those classes!

I purchased her Moon Phases STEM Stop Motion Packet from Teachers Pay Teachers specifically because she had created task cards to help her students be more independent on this project.  I love to make task cards and I wanted to see how she designed her cards.  (This is the first time I’ve actually purchased something from Teachers Pay Teachers!)  The task cards were very useful to help students with how to use the Stop Motion app for this activity.  (The app is free with in-app purchases.  We used the completely free version.)

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The students did really well using the task card.  It was a little hard for the students to grasp how a stop motion video works.  I definitely recommend having the students tap the play button periodically to see how their video is turning out.  Three classes did this stop motion moon phase activity and the videos turned out differently in each class!  Some students understood the concept more quickly than others and it is evident in their video.  I’m so glad we tried it though!  Next time, they’ll be familiar with how to use the app and can take more time to carefully utilize the ghost image (to line up their next photo) and to take a lot of shots.  I can’t wait to see how the next project turns out!!

By I ❤️ Teaching with Technology Posted in Science

Easily Share a Long URL with Students

Our district is currently sending out a survey for our 5th grade students to complete.  The URL for the survey is super long!  Our students needed a way to access the survey quickly and easily.  Here are a few ideas on how to easily share a long URL:

  1. If students can use an iPad to access the link, the easiest thing is for them to scan a QR code.  I like to use QRstuff.com to create QR codes.  Copy the link needed and paste it into the Website URL box.  Then, download the QR code.  I name my QR codes very specifically so I know which one I want to use since they all look alike!  Then, open Pages, Keynote, or Word.  Insert the QR code image.  You can add text and/or instructions.  Print out the document for students to scan.  On an iPad with iOS 11+, students simply open the Camera app and scan the QR code.  A link to Safari will pop up near the top of the screen.  Tap the link and Safari will open to the address linked to the QR code.  (By the way, I use the free version of QRstuff.com.  I have never signed up nor do I need to log in.)Screen Shot 2019-02-18 at 2.25.52 PM

  2. Use Seesaw or your LMS (like Schoology).  In Seesaw, you can add a link to students’ journals.  Copy the link to share.  Click on the plus sign to ADD something to their journal.  Select “Link.”   Paste the link.  Click on the checkmark to save the link.  You can then add a voice recording or caption for the item, if desired.  When finished, click the checkmark to post the link to the student journals.   To share with your whole class, select “All Students” and click the checkmark to post the link.  (If you have folders enabled, you can select or add a folder for Useful Links.) When your students log into Seesaw, the link will appear as one of the items in their class feed.  You can also add the link and just tag the “Sample Student.”  If seeing each other’s work is enabled, students can click on the Sample Student and access the link there.img_1391In Schoology, you click “Add Materials” to add something to your course.  Click “Add File/Link/External Tool” to add a link.  Select “Link” on the next menu.  Paste the copied link into the URL box and a name for your link in the title box.  Then click “Add” to share the link in your course.

  3. Use a URL shortener if students will need to type in the link.  My current favorite site that does this is bit.ly.  You can create a free account.  The neat aspects of bit.ly are that you can customize the shortened URL and that you can track how many times that shortened URL is used.  However, you can also use tinyurl.com or bit.do.  Tinyurl and bit.do allow the user to customize the shortened URL, as well.

I hope these ideas help make accessing links easier for your elementary students.  If you have any suggestions, please add them in the comments.  Thanks!!

Line Draw in Keynote

Our second graders have been keeping a portfolio in Keynote.  Today they used Line Draw to demonstrate how they solved a math problem.


First, they selected “Drawing” from the + menu.  Then, they chose a marker or a crayon to write with.  They increased the thickness of the line by tapping the marker or crayon and choosing a thicker line.  Then, they tapped the color circle to choose the color black for writing the problem.  After they wrote the problem, the selected a different color to show how they solved the problem.  Then, they tapped “Done.”

To add the line drawing, the students selected their drawing by tapping on it (the blue dots appear around the item). They tapped the item again to get the options menu and selected “Animate.”  We chose to “Build In.”  Next, they tapped “Line Draw, ” then, “Done.”  The students pressed play to see the line draw in action!

Use the reference guide below to support your students when adding to their portfolio in Keynote.

Reference Guide for Adding to a Keynote Portfolio

Many students also included an audio recording of how they solved the problem, as well.

Link for a Video Demonstration of Line Draw

Line Draw

Line Draw in Action

Starting a Portfolio with Keynote

Second graders are using Keynote to create a portfolio.  In the spring, students will participate in student-led conferences. The students will use these portfolios in their conferences.

Our first session, we worked together to build the format of the portfolio.  Students began by choosing a theme.  Then, they added their title and byline.


Next, students created a table of contents.  They added a shape for the title.  They learned how to select the shape and modify the color and the text inside.  They also added shapes with text for the subjects.  Then, they added shapes to represent each subject.


A title slide was added for each subject.  Empty slides were included after each subject.


Students learned how to link pages.  In the example below, the house icon will take the user back to the table of contents when tapped in presentation mode.  The subjects in the table of contents each are linked to the title slide of each subject.  The links should make presenting their portfolios simpler.


The next time we met, students added their first piece to the portfolio.  Each student added a goal for math.   They added text for the title and used a shape for the goal.


Lastly, they recorded themselves reading their math goal.  (To record audio, tap the plus sign and choose the image tab.  Tap “Record Audio” to get started.)


In the future, students will add photos, videos, and more to this portfolio to demonstrate their learning.  I can’t wait to see what they include next!

Create a Graph with Number Frames

Kindergarteners worked together in small groups to create a graph with the Number Frames app by the Math Learning Center.  To start, add a frame.


Choose a frame that will be large enough for your results.  This app allows you to customize your frame size when you choose to make your own.  The students were polling about 11 people so they created a 2 x 10 frame.


The students chose to ask their classmates about whether they liked red penguins or black penguins.  These images are in the app.  If you tap the shapes icon on the bottom left, the counters can be customized.  The students could have also had a color represent a choice, as well.

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Once students had their counters customized, they asked the students in their class which he or she preferred.  The student would drag out one counter to represent his or her choice and place it on the graph.


When students were done asking their classmates, they saved the graph by taking a screenshot.  Together, we cropped the image in Photos and used the markup tool to add the question we used to create our graph.

Lastly, the students uploaded the graph in Seesaw and used the recording tool to tell at least two things they noticed about the graph they created.

Click to view a student’s example in Seesaw.


QR Code Scavenger Hunt

At the beginning of the school year, I like to introduce/review how to be responsible with the iPad. This year, I decided to use the idea of Seesaw Go! to create a scavenger hunt to teach iPad responsibility. The QR Code Scavenger Hunt was a great way to make a lesson interactive for the students. They loved it!

How did I create the QR Code Scavenger Hunt?

I created a video for each important point of being a responsible digital citizen with the iPad. To do this, I used an image that could be used as a visual reminder of that concept. For example, I used an image of two hands for the video explaining how to carry the iPad safely and I used a camera icon in the video about asking permission to photograph others. I then created the videos in ChatterPix Kids or Tellagami.

I uploaded each video into the same folder in Seesaw. A fabulous feature about Seesaw is that the app generates QR codes for each item. I went online to web.seesaw.me and opened the folder that contained my iPad safety videos. Online, you can print out a QR code for each item at one time by selecting “Print Folder.” It’s so easy! I cut out the QR codes and taped them up around my classroom.

I also created a scavenger hunt game board by creating a table in Pages and inserting the images I found for each video. I printed these out and laminated them so teams could cross out each image as they found the video. Now, I was ready for students to play!

We practiced using the QR reader in Seesaw before playing. Then, students worked in pairs or groups of three to find all the QR codes posted in the scavenger hunt. Each video explains an aspect of being respectful, responsible, and/or safe with the iPad. Every video includes a question for students to discuss in their groups before hunting for the next QR code. When students have found all of the images on their scavenger hunt card, they had completed their mission!

When everyone had finished the scavenger hunt, we shared ideas about how to use the iPad responsibly. Students then responded in Seesaw to share about how to take care of the iPads and be responsible while using them. Some students drew pictures and used the label text feature to write about what they learned. Others typed a note to share thoughts. In one class, we used the scavenger hunt card as our background image. In primary classes, we created a quick book in Book Creator to share the class’ learning. I had a template book ready for the lesson that incorporated the same images from the videos. When we finished the book, we shared a PDF version in Seesaw.

When the teacher approves the items in Seesaw, the parents get notified of a new item in their child’s portfolio. I hope the iPad responsibility and digital citizenship discussion continues at home, too!

The activity was a success not only because the students enjoyed learning, but were able to share that learning with classmates and family members.

Sharing Forms via Seesaw

Did you know you could create a form and share it with your students via Seesaw?  It’s an easy way to share the link.  After you create the form, copy the share link.  Then, go to your Seesaw class and tap the + to add an item.

Tap the link button.  Usually, your copied link automatically gets copied into the box.  If not, paste your link into the box.  Then, continue the steps as usual to add an item.  Don’t tag anyone since this link is an activity for the students to do.  (If your students can’t see each other’s work, you could print out a QR code instead.).  To help students find the form in Seesaw, you can put this item in a particular folder, such as “Reading Unit 7” or “Green Group.”

When students tap the item to make it full screen, they can fill out the form right there in Seesaw!!   This is a great feature for our elementary students!  If you need to know who is completing the form, make sure to have one of your questions require students to enter their names.

If your form requires a log in, the students should log into Office 365 or Google first on Safari.  Then, go to Seesaw and tap the item to make it full screen. Then, they will be able to complete the form and submit it in Seesaw.  After submitting the form, make sure to go back to Office 365 or Google and log out if students share devices.  I haven’t had students log in and use Forms in Seesaw in a class setting.  I’ve only tried sharing Forms without having to sign in to an account for our primary students.  Let me know if works out or not.

We have Office 365 in our district.  If you send a quiz to students, they can get feedback on answers by accessing the same link after the teacher has posted scores.

In Microsoft Forms, tap … to Post Scores.

Adding a link in Seesaw can make using forms with our youngest students easier.   A teacher can also share the form with a QR code, but I see a lot of possibilities in Seesaw.