Can a monkey punch someone in the face?

Let’s start this post with a hilarious, TRUE account of a conversation I had today. We were on the bus on the way back to school from the LA Zoo.

Kid: What’s on your face?
Me: Where?
Kid: Under your eye
Me: Oh no. Is my make up all smeared? (I check my face. Nope. Looks normal)
Me: I think you must mean my make-up. It’s called eyeliner.
Kid: Oh. It looks like you got punched in the face.
Me: What?! It looks like I got punched in the face?!
Another kid: Legend says Mrs. Roach got punched in the face at the zoo.
Parent sitting behind me: By a monkey

Everyone including myself started cracking up, while repeating the hilarious scenario we were all picturing in our minds. “Mrs. Roach got punched in the face by a monkey.”

Ok. Moving on. Can a monkey punch someone in the face? What are some facts about monkeys? Can a first grader research monkey facts online if I wanted them to?

Let’s be real for a minute. My first graders are practically second graders at this point in the school year. Right now I think I could assign a research task for them to do. I just finished reading a short article about using google search to filter information by reading level. Be sure to click here to read this short piece.

I tested it out and was pleased with the results. I think teaching kids about this filter will be really powerful in the classroom.




Oh and by the way…YES, a monkey can punch someone in the face. Click on the picture to watch.






Visual Thinking

Am I a visual thinker? I think maybe I am… a little bit.  I just finished reading chapter one of Dr. Temple Grandin’s, Thinking in Pictures. I have never thought of myself as a visual thinker but I think I fall back on it when I am trying to make sense of something that is abstract to me. For example, a few weeks ago I was working on creating a graphic that explained my PKM. I knew what other’s looked like, but I wanted mine to have a visual image that showed each component. I also wanted each image to be connected to show a process. As I searched for images, the concept of a PKM became clearer and cleared for me.  To be honest, I think I spent more time “capturing” the perfect images that I did anything else. Standing in a flower field, picking the perfect flowers and throwing their petals to the wind is synonymous in brain with each phase of my PKM. In addition to this example, I couldn’t start writing this post until I found a picture that I felt captured what I was going to say. I couldn’t find one, so I made one.

After reading this chapter and recognizing similar thought processes that I go through when I’m trying to understand something, how can I apply this to my teaching and my leadership role at my school and district? Here are my thoughts:


I am clearly a big fan of visuals for deepening understanding.  When creating lessons for my students, I need to make a point of providing as many visuals as possible.  I think it would also be interesting to provide abstract visuals in which the students would need to make the connection from the learning target to the visual.

Drawing is important. With the daily grind and the underlying urgency I feel to get to the next lesson, sometimes I’ll skip letting the children draw (I teach 1st grade). At that moment it feels like a luxury. However, after reading this chapter I think I need to plan for the drawing time. I have a bit a guilt thinking about this next one…To all the kids who I have answered with a, “no” when they said, “Can I draw first, then write my sentences?” I apologize.  I get it. Especially after reflecting on my PKM graphic and this post.  Drawing the pictures help.


When creating powerpoints and presentations, visuals are awesome. Especially if I can find one or two that encompass the message I want to send.


Let’s talk about this image now. Why do you think I chose this to illustrate my process for writing this post? How does it represent visual learning?

10 Ways to Ensure Parents Won’t Need to Ask ‘What Did You Do at School Today?’

I always tell the parents of my students that one of the main reasons I keep a blog is to let the parents know what we do at school. All you parents out there, how many times have you asked the question, “What did you do at school today?” Only to be answered with, “Ummm I dunno.”  I don’t have kids, but I was a kid once and clearly remember driving my dad crazy with my “I dunno,” answer.

In this Alison Anderson lists 10 ways to help keep parents in the know. I feel inspired by a few of the ideas. She suggests starting a classroom instagram account. She suggested assigning a student to be the “instagramer” for the day. I really like this idea and know that students would enjoy this role. I have thought about doing this before but will definitely do this next year. For any teacher considering this, be sure to obtain the proper permission for photographing and sharing images of students. At the beginning of every school year, my district sends out permission slips for students to be photographed. In addition to the permission slip, I also tell parents about where I use the photos and give parents the option of opting out (so far no one has).

Anderson also suggests setting up a classroom youtube channel. Students can make videos and post them to the web. I really like the idea of having a weekly round up. Doing something like this encompasses many learning standards (think listening and speaking and writing). I’m thinking this will also be on my to do list next year!

The last tip I’ll discuss is making iMovie trailers for upcoming school or classroom events. I really love this idea. For those of you that don’t have an Apple computer or simply want to try something else, I’d like to introduce you to Animoto. Animoto is a website for creating videos. You can set up a free educator account. I think its very intuitive and easy to use. I created a video as a hook for a large project I was starting with my class. You can watch it by clicking here.

After reading her article, come back to this post and let me know what you think!


Keeping Parents in the Loop

I just finished reading chapter seven of Every Child, Every Day by Mark Edwards. In this chapter Edwards had a small section on the influence of digital conversion on parent communication within the MGSD school district. I really love the idea of giving parents regular access to their child’s progress (notice I did not say grades…I’ll discuss my thoughts on this later in another post) through a variety of means.

This is how I communicate progress:

Edwards mentioned IXL. If you are a teacher of math or a parent of a K-12  student, you need to know about IXL. IXL is a math practice website. Teachers and parents can monitor student progress. Kids love it because they earn virtual badges. Here is the report I received the week of May 3rd. The report also tells me who logged in and for how long.



Have you heard of Class Dojo? Class dojo is a cite and app for behavior management. Parents can see how their child is behaving in class whenever they login. A weekly report is also sent home. Students can accumulate points. The kids love their avatars and I love being able to share this detailed information with parents. They recently added a messaging function. I can quickly text parents through the app. I love it! Here is a sample report I share with students at the end of the day.



Questions About Communication

This article came to me through my feedly account.  Lyn Hilt writes a blog called Learning in Technicolor. In this article she explores a district’s decision to move towards more digital communication.  She takes different perspectives into mid as she writes letters to a superintendent, principal, teacher and parent voicing her questions.

She hits on several important issues such as equal access to information, crisis communication, school and classroom websites, and learning communities.

After reading this article, I looked at my own classroom blog. Which to be honest, I’ve been neglecting the past couple of weeks as school winds down. I think I definitely have a lot of positives but can also see room to grow. I’m excited to incorporate more things into my blog that will extend the learning community that exists in my classroom.


Have you ever tried thinglink? It’s a way of making images interactive. I can see many possible uses for the classroom and presentations.

Using Thinglink I turned my PKM graphic into an interactive image you can “touch.” When you are looking at the image you will see small circles next to each of the icons. When you hover over the circle, a description for each part of my PKM will appear. When you click on it, it will take you to a specific example.



If you go back and look at my PKM graphic, when it comes to making sense of my information you will see I have four tools listed.

  1. Google Drive
  2. Zotero
  3. Evernote
  4. Delicious

I listed them in the order that I feel most comfortable using. Google Drive is my favorite. It is cloud storage. The apps that can run within the google docs seem endless. Some of my regular usage includes: creating files for storing articles, creating documents with links for future reference, adding notes to documents and collaboration.

Zotero is an app that I absolutely NEED to get better at. I feel like a grumpy old lady every time I try using it. I think this is because I am so comfortable using Google Drive that I can’t help but want to solely rely on it. My goal is to be comfortable with it by summer’s end.

Evernote and Delicious are both enticing apps. Who doesn’t want to be more organized and have everything at their finger tips?! I’m just not completely sure how to maximize the power of both these tools. My plan is to use them both equally until I develop a preference for one over the other.

What are your curating preferences?