1.  After visiting the First Step site, I chose the category of “Moving at the Speed of Creativity” inside the blog of Wesley A. Fryer. Reading through, I chose to read the article called “Students & Teachers Explain Benefits of MinecraftEDU [VIDEO]“. The reason I picked this article to read is because my class is semi obsessed with Minecraft. The article states, “The engaging and complex environment of MinecraftEDU provides a great context for multiple discussions and learning moments with students. As the video also says, many of these focus on “digital citizenship,” which is SO important for students today.” In other words, this game can bring up multiple concepts of education if it is used appropriately. An activity I would use with my class using Minecraft would be to show students the concept of “captions”. The definition of caption is tied into language arts and across comes across in everyday life. Most nonfiction books use captions to explain in a short description, about an illustration or a photograph. Captions are also used in motion pictures and in this case, Minecraft too! This will enhance student’s learning and have them be able to use captions on their own in a future book report etc. A best practice strategy I would use is focusing on what is important. Another best practice strategy this relates to is connecting objectives to previous and future learning. Students are already familiar with playing Minecraft but do they really know that they are using the keyboard in multiple ways? Most likely not. As a teacher, I could enhance this concept as well. This means the understanding of “caps lock”, “shift”, and other buttons used throughout this game. A level of the SAMR model this activity addresses in the orange zone called developing understanding. I would use Minecraft as the technology resource to help cue the learning for my students. This also ties into the non-linguistic representation skills I would use to help students understand the true concepts being taught.

2.  After looking at the overviews of the 5 emerging technology tools, I believe they would impact by students as they create and interact with their world (physical and virtual). These tools are amazing and will grab students of today and of the future their attention. All five of the tools can be used in a variety of ways inside a classroom. Many of it is more of a visual tool than just paper and pencil. One idea that I absolutely loved was the Oculus Rift. This is a 3D animation that allows students to virtually be inside of whatever the program may be. This would be a great tool for multiple reasons which can then be applied to multiple concepts. I do not know any other technology tool that will be seen in the next five years in the classroom.

3. Each school has a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). I believe there are pros and cons to each concept. In my school the BYOD explains that students cannot bring in their own device. Students are allowed to check out laptops if the proper forms have been filled out. A pro to this is that there are no worries of devices being stolen or misused. Another pro is that the school does not have to worry about it getting lost or broken. I also like how our school lets students check out laptops! However, I do see the cons to this. Our school does not have many desktops and has no other technological devices. Being only employed a year at the school, I have never seen a laptop getting check out by a student nor are they up-to-date. I think that at my school, students should be allowed to bring in their own devices with proper paperwork filled out. I think students would love to interact with this technology and as a teacher I could do so much with it!


1.  I have created a “show me” video. In definition, this means that I have created a video that allows my students to see step by step directions online. These educational videos can be adapted to any lesson and any digital resource. I have used Screencast-o-matic which is a free downloaded software that allows you to capture a video (up to 5 minutes for free) to create a lesson or an educational video.

2. My video that I created focused on using Tagxedo which turns words into stunning word clouds. I feel that this was an appropriate area of focus due to my class’ low spelling scores. I feel that this will encourage them to type their spelling words and have fun with it. They can easily save and print to have their spelling word cloud with them at all times to study their words.

I have embedded my video into my Face of the Classroom site.

3.  I have also embedded a link below to my captured video. I have shown my screencast to a peer to get some feedback. The feedback I received was all positive. She stated that it was easy to follow, it went slow enough to understand what is going on, and she liked how I pointed to everything on the tool bar as I identified its purpose.

4. Some strengths for my first screencast was that it was beneficial and a great resource. I believe students will be able to use this site for a variety of different reasons. Any subject can be adapted to use this site as well as research papers and projects. Some weaknesses that I found is that I

A way that I can improve my next recording for teaching and learning would be to sound more enthusiastic and excited. I also would show a sample recording to a peer or a student before I save and publish it. I would be looking for questions or concerns that they may have from the screencast so that I touch on that question during my recording. That way, if one student has a question, I am sure another one would have the same or similar concern.



1.  A digital story is  explaining something in your “own words”. It enforces to think beyond paper and pencil and explore the digital world. I decided to create a lesson about listening and following directions. Students need to remember that these are key qualities that is expected at each grade level. I created a storyboard using the storyboard template.doc. It is a Microsoft Word template that helps you organize your thoughts. Students who try this on their own would find no difficulties. Here is what my first half of the storyboard looks like. You can upload the entire board from the link below as well.




Link: Listen and Follow Directions Storyboard








2. I have created a 2-3 minutes digital story on Little Bird Tales. My content area concentrated on following directions and being patient in a classroom. Little Bird Tales does not allow users to use transitions with music but did allow me to use audio to record my voice. During my video, students will be able to hear my voice and follow along while the  words are on the screen. This is a great idea for my ESL learners!

3. I have uploaded this video on My Face of the Classroom. 4. I have shared this video with two of my peers and my class of 22 students twice. The feedback that I received was all positive. Students enjoyed the pictures and were excited to listen to the story. This is more a visual way of explaining some rules of a classroom. Overall, this digital story got my student’s attention and can be used for multiple subjects and multiple ways. 5.  I used a sound recording tool called Audacity  to explain how my digital story modified learning in my classroom. Here are the standards that it applies to if students were to make a digital story on their own! 3-5-2.CC.2. identify how different software applications may be used to share similar information, based on the intended audience (e.g., presentations for classmates, newsletters for parents) 3-5.RI.2. use digital tools to find, organize, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information 3-5.DC.2. recognize issues involving ethical use of information (e.g., copyright adherence, source citation) 3-5.RI.1. identify search strategies for locating information with support from teachers or library media specialists.

Check out my recording!   Story Board Audacity



Filed Under (Things 15-21) by on April 7, 2015

1 & 2.  I have used Google Docs Spreadsheet to create my chart and graph below using my school’s data. I used three test grades and then calculated the count of participants, average score, maximum score, and totals. This was simple to use and basically did the work for you! I could use these spreadsheets for multiple reasons/subjects. All you have to do is know the formulas!













3.  I am so thrilled that I learned how to use spreadsheets and online surveys/polls from this class. Spreadsheets make your life as a teacher so much more easier. All you have to do is type in the particular data and tell the computer what to do. I could use this for test results, quizzes, projects, homework assignments, etc. Surveys/polls online are fun and easy to create which gives students a sense of privacy when answering. Teachers can easily access the online results and guide their activity or teaching from that data they collected. As I have stated previously in Thing 17, I will use these online surveys multiple times throughout the year. These will be very important to me that will essentially guide my teaching!


1. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects the privacy of student education records. Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act ( HIPAA ) protects individuals health information, and patient rights regarding health and safety.  I completed the pre and post FERPA/HIPAA quiz. I learned a great deal. I had no idea that FERPA grants parents the right to have a copy of any of their child’s educational record. I also did not know that when a student transfers to a new school, the former school is not required to transfer their records. There were a few other facts that I was not sure on. Taking this quiz made me realize the truth behind on what the “acts” really stand for.

2. The MISchoolData portal is a great way to see how your school is doing compared to the state. Anyone can access these results and can see any grade level or testing at a specific school. I looked at my schools MEAP Mathematics results from last year (2013-2014). I have uploaded both a graph and a chart below from my school’s results. I did not pick a certain grade level because I was very curious in all upper grade level’s results.

mt clem   mt clem chart





I noticed that 4th and 5th graders at my school are mostly proficient or advanced. 3rd graders and more of a gap in being partially proficient.





Here is a graph and chart from the statewide results.

statewide graph    statewide chart












Looking at just the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades, I noticed that my building is meeting the leaning needs of all students. Overall, our building has less “not proficient” students in the field of Mathematics in all three of our upper grade levels. I believe this is a great review and will use this site in the future to see strengths and identify weak links in a specific grade level.

3.  I created a “perception and process” data using Google Forms. I made an example below using 5 students and scores. Google Forms is a wonderful tool because it does the work on its own! This helps with time management, organization, and letting me know exactly who in the class is understanding and who may be struggling.






Below, I made a survey using Google Forms as well




4.  I will definitely consider using polls and surveys in my classroom. One way that I would use them would be to create one on the first day of school Nothing is better than getting to know your students. Right off the bat, using a survey I would know which subjects they strive in and which are challenging to them. I would also ask about their schedule out of school. For example, is it busy with sports and extra curricular activities, or are they home alone. I would also ask my students if anyone helps them with their homework and who. These are important questions that will help me individualize my students with considerations. Lastly, this data would help me get a sense of their homelike. Overall data, polls, and surveys will all play an extreme roll in my classroom. Not only will I create one at the beginning of the year but also during the school year, after a lesson, and even at the end of the year to get a sense on how the year went! These results will be a guide towards my teaching abilities which will ultimately benefit my students academically.

1.  A few of the key elements of differentiating instruction that I use are ongoing, formative assessment, recognition of diverse learners, and group work.

I use ongoing, formative assessment during every lesson. Sometimes I use it more frequently than other times depending on the material. Strategies that I use for this element is my favorite “thumbs up, thumbs down”. This is a quick visual to myself to see who is understanding and who needs some extra help. I also use “exit slips” that contains a question regarding the main idea of the lesson taught. I read these and see who is getting the big picture and who is not. My students recently took a Scantron test for reading and mathematics. I am using differentiated instruction by organizing the scores and data into an excel sheet to access which students need help in the same area of study. This will help guide my instruction and will give me ideas to add into my lesson planning.

Recognition of diverse learners is also an element that I use in my classroom. Before, during, and after my lessons I am always asking questions. I also stop when students are in the middle of an assignment to briefly ask a question to bring them together again regarding the topic learned. This method helps my few students who have trouble reading. It also helps my few students who have a hard time focusing. This strategy of ongoing assessments helps them because of the repetition. The instructions or the main idea will be repeated multiple times through my questioning. I also go to my couple students for one on one. I ask them what they are supposed to do and if they have any questions. Overall, I do recognize my diverse learners in the classroom and try to assist them by any means necessary.

Finally, I use group work in my classroom. I used to enjoy group work when I was an elementary school and now enjoy watching my students work with each other. I use group work in each subject I teach. Sometimes, more group work is done than on other days. I also use a lot of pairing up as well. Sometimes I choose the pairs that I think would benefit from each other to learn the best they can, while other time I let students pick their partner or group.

2. As I read the article from WestEd on Using Flexible Technology to Meet the Needs of Divers Learners: What Teachers Can Do, I discovered new ideas to support a struggling learner in my classroom. One idea is that I enjoyed the KidsClick website. I like this site because you can pick a subject topic and it will search the web for articles and other websites. I also like how it has an advanced search button, so students who are researching a topic to put the reading level in. This allows the web to distinguish what level the students can read at. This is great for differentiating instruction. Another website I liked was Benetech’s BookShare. I like this site because struggling students who are not familiar with certain books will be able to type it into the search engine and find out if the book is at the right grade level for them. Some other ideas I learned is through the best practices recommendations for technology. The article stated that graphic organizers and multimedia presentations with groups allows struggling learners in enhance their learning. Graphic organizers can be very visual with pictures and diagrams. You can also differentiate this by allowing some students to write more information and other to write the main ideas. Multimedia projects allows collaboration and each person can be in charge of areas they can individually handle.

3.  As I visited the Universal Design for Learning: Strategies, Tools, and Resources wiki, I navigated on the left the “Audio Support”.  I have two ESL students and three students who receive RTI. These audio resources can help these students in the support that they need. A tool I looked at were the audio books. I went to the website http://librivox.org and was surprised by all of the free recordings of books there was. I looked for a few popular ones and was shocked they had The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. I also liked the link http://www.readthewords.com. I like this because it is easy to use and very fast. It is also free which is also perfect. Reading this Audio Support, I found that there are many other resources that I had never known about that I could use with my struggling students. Overall, this is a break wiki!

4. Text-to-Audio Conversions are fantastic digital tools. It is a great way for students to see at the same time the print and the voice being said aloud. This would benefit my few students in my classroom who are ESL learners. This tool can be integrated for different things. I could write sentences and have students listen and read. I also could use this tool for new vocabulary words and etc. Here is a screenshot of a sample I did using the YAKiToMe audio conversion!

03-04-2015 5-25-19 PM


1.  I am building my PLN on Linkedin. It is a great social networking site. It is very professional and you can connect to friends and others in the field of your study.

Here is my Linkedin page. You can find me by typing my name Vivian Zarmakoupis!

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 4.37.02 PM








2.  Twitter is another great networking site.  It allows you to connect with other educators and groups to learn and build professional relationships. I have followed the 21 Things 4 Teacher Twitter Network and posted a tweet by using the hashtag #21things4. You can follow me on @zarmakoupisp!

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 4.46.09 PM    Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 4.47.53 PM







3.  I joined the MACUL (Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning. It is a free site you can join and allows you to access their MACUL Journal. I have joined SIG EE (elementary education) which is an interest group that focuses on using technology tools for grades K-6. Its’ mission is to enhance the learning and integrate this instruction throughout each subject. I have also joined SIGMM (multi media) which focuses on current technology. They are known for their presentations and publishing videos, photography, etc. A third interest group I joined is called SIGOL (online learning). This promotes blended learning by using instructional tools for teaching online learning.

An article from the MACUL Journal that I decided to look further into is called the Reading In The Emerging Digital Age from the Emerging Tech: The Only Constant is Change (Journal Fall 2014). I liked this article because it explains how reading needs to be done in two ways. Both digital and print reading. Research shows that the brain process these types of reading differently. In other words, these ways teaches different skills of reading that students should be familiar with. Another great idea this article suggests is providing students choice and offering them a variety of genres. I agree with this because students need to explore what they like to read. This will build stamina and will encourage students to like reading. The most important factor in this article is to allow your students time. As an educator, it is important to give your students daily, time to read on their own both print and digital. This will enhance their fluency, accuracy, and  will build their creativity.

4.   Through the REMC projects page I viewed a video called “Video Story Problems”. This video appealed to me because my class is learning about 2-3 step word problems. These can be tricky and quite boring. The steps needed to create this is to always bring a camera, always be observant, and capture curiosity. Another idea is for students to create a readers theatre using a script. Students will be given a story problem and they would have to make their own script from that. They would be video tapped and presented to the class. I absolutely love this idea. It is simple and something I never thought of doing. I feel my class would be more engaged and would understand the math problems. I also think this will help to benefit my visual learners!


Filed Under (Things 8-14) by on February 20, 2015


I created a presentation using Blendspace. This site allows you to create an online visual presentation in minutes. You can upload pictures, video, text, and search the web with a click of a button! The program allows you to select and drop the materials you have chosen where it then generates into a presentation. I have chosen my content area surrounding Black History month. I have been trying to decide what to do this month over the past week and this resource helped me think clearly. I made a presentation using videos and sites of various influential African American’s. I also found a lesson that i am taking and modifying it. Students will research their African American person and later draw and create a mural with the entire class. I will then hand this outside of the classroom for the school to see!

Here is the link to my presentation!


2.  I plan on using this presentation as a whole group with my students. My students will be on a circle on the carpet and I will ask the question, “Does anyone know what Black History Month is?”. I will call on students that have raised their hand. I will  then ask if they remember anything they learned about African Americans in their previous grades. I will tell them how their are many important and famous people that we honor today. I will show them my presentation. This will teach them a few facts about the people who changed our world; from inventors, doctors, artists, authors, musicians, to civil rights activists. Students will get a glimpse on what it was like to be a slave. I am also reading a read aloud called “Who Conducted the Underground Railroad And Other Questions About the Path to Freedom”. This is will all tie in together very nicely. This addresses the SAMR level throughout Redefinition. My Blendspace presentation allows the creation of a new task that may have been previously inconceivable. The technology that will be incorporated will give students a visual rather than hearing it from a book or from others. They will really understand and see who and what it was like for American Americans and who have bought amazing things into our society. A “best practice” that this ties into is many. However, I believe this technology will generates mental pictures inside my students’ minds. I think this is important and will help students remember.

3.  To go with this lesson, I chose for students to make a mural of what they learned from the presentation and the read aloud. I will give students a half piece of white card stock. Students will create either pictures of a certain individual or an area of interest. They will color and create their own mural. I will ask the technology expert at our school to allow students to look up some information about what they choose. Students will have the option to write a couple sentences on their mural or behind. When their own card stock is completely colored, I will have the whole class but their art on the floor and have them create an entire mural. I will tell them to move their art around so that it looks great in its entirety. Students will work together to create a huge class mural. When students have completed this process, they will flip theirs around and tape the edges together. I will then take the mural and hang it so others can see. I believe this mural ties in nicely with my Blendspace presentation. It will show creativity, collaboration, and how well they understood the material.

Here is my rubric that I will be assessing them with!

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 3.17.23 PM



Filed Under (Things 8-14) by on February 4, 2015

1.  I have created a talking smiley avatar to introduce my Face of the Classroom page. It was very interesting to see all the great tools you could use on voki. My students would enjoy creating their own character and using audio to give their voki a voice! I could also use voki as an anticipatory set when introducing a new topic or lesson. I feel that my students would be more excited listening to an animation than to me! Here is my voki that I created.



2.  Shutterfly is a free photo-sharing site. Anyone can access your photos if you choose to. This would be great for sharing classroom photos and giving the website to all parents to access them! Here is a photo I uploaded. It is just a start but can easily develop it with photos in the classroom.


Here is my site where you can access my photo and page :  https://zarmakoupis.shutterfly.com/ 


3.  PhotoPeach is a great resource. It is a free site that lets you download pictures and transforms it into a simple slideshow. Music of your chose can be added to make the show more entertaining. I found copyright pictures of animals on http://www.pics4learning.com/  which also contains many other categories to explore. I chose three pictures and used http://fotoflexer.com/  to transform the pictures using special features. I could use these resources for multiple subjects. I could use the animal theme as I did here because in writing, my students are working on their nonfiction piece on an animal of their chose. It would be neat for each of my students to upload their own animal and special effects where I then combine them all together on PhotoPeach and make a slideshow with all the animals put together. I was also thinking of making a show containing famous African Americans since this month is black history month. These are all valuable resources I got use and am very excited that I got to experience them!


Animals on PhotoPeach — http://photopeach.com/album/10laybc#  


Filed Under (Things 8-14) by on February 2, 2015


Using Google Earth or Google Maps can be very handy. They are both interactive maps and can be used for many different reasons in a classroom. In Social Studies, my class is learning about the history of Michigan and how they have to be “investigators” to learn historical clues presented long ago. I showed the Lansing Museum on both Google Earth and Google Maps to my students. Here is the picture from Google Earth!

Museum Screenshot


Quizlet is a great website! It is free and easy to use. I used this site to create vocabulary cards for Social Studies. It was nice to see my students practice their vocabulary words. I loved how this site reads the words and the definition out loud. My ESL students really benefited from this factor. We went over the words as a whole group and later on in the week, I asked my school’s computer teacher to have my students spend sometime on the site and have students explore the words and take the spelling test it generates. Here is where my flashcards are located and a picture!


quizzlet flashcards

The level of the SAMR model that this is an example of is Substitution. This means it acts as a direct tool substitute with no functional  change. Students can access my quizlet flashcards and would not be able to change them. It would be the same if students  typed their own words and definitions because they would be given the words and definitions by me. Overall, this is a great resource and will be using this various times throughout the year.


Looking at the sites listed under “Interactives for the Classroom  Content,”  http://illuminations.nctm.org/  caught my eye. My students are lower in the subject area of mathematics and been trying to find different activities and lesson plans to help my students become proficient in the lessons we are learning about. This site has a ton of math resources that all apply to the common core standard. I found two already on this site called “Looking Back and Moving Forward” and “Hopping on the Number Line.” Both of these math skills has been taught previously in my classroom however, this would be great practice for my students to look back on to become more efficient and not forget the skill.



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