So, I completely forgot about this fabulous, free online tool, but it came to mind when a teacher asked for help merging some documents. PDF Candy currently offers 44 different tools serving a multitude of user needs. I originally used this tool to merge documents, but I was amazed by all the other options. For instance, it comes with an option to convert a PDF to Word or vice versa. It also has a PDF Editor (honestly, how many times have you needed that) and allows you to delete and rearrange pages. You can also use it to lock and unlock PDFs. Even better, you can pull documents from your computer or Google Drive and then place the finalized document on your desktop or back in Google Drive. Did I mention it is free? It you are in need of manipulating documents, take a few minutes to check out PDF Candy.
Check out Mrs. Crowder and her awesome Google Slides. Her Bitmoji joined in the fun to engage her students as they learn about revising and editing their writing. Now that everyone has gotten comfortable with making video lessons, what are some cool and fun ways to make your videos or slides more engaging. Be on the lookout for more staff shouts outs as we blaze a trail for digital learning.
Finally, don’t forget I offer a technology training help on Mondays from 1:00 to 2:oo. I just hang out answering questions or visit with staff. Tomorrow, please join me to answer any questions or brainstorm ideas for having students read with their teachers. We can talk about Flipgrid, or setting up smaller Google Meets. If you have an idea you want to try, come and share it. See you there!
So, I just thought the staff at Parmley was the best, but then COVID-19 happened. I was panicked and stressed. How do I support the teachers that are used to working with me face to face or reach out for support or ideas. How do I help them help our students? I quickly found, my stress was undue. This group of teachers and staff not only was prepared for this occasion, but they have blown the whole digital learning right out of the water. Each week, I see new and exciting things happening for our students and our staff. Each of you is constantly pushing to do more and be more for our students as we face unprecedented school closures. The Parmley Mission that “Every Student will learn at high levels” has never been more on display than in our teachers’ weekly video lessons and live Google Meets. It is impressive how quickly the teachers rallied to support our students and each other. As I reflect on this year, I have never been prouder to be a part of a campus that truly values the whole student and does whatever it takes to move mountains for their students. Parmley staff, continue to be the model for our students that through this time we continue to care and strive for excellence.
This week, I want to give a huge shout out to the Kindergarten team as they branched out and gave Peardeck a try. I know when it was first mentioned in collaborative, these ladies thought the idea was crazy. However, in true Parmley fashion, they pushed forward to meet the needs of our precious Kindergarten friends. One thing I respect about the Kinder teachers (to be honest, I do not think I could ever teach Kinder, so much respect to you that love it) is that these ladies always question every decision to make sure it is in the best interest of their students. A huge shout out to Mrs. Clark for sharing some of her students work from Peardeck below. Below are some examples of student work using the drawing tool for story retell, number recognition, and graphing. Thank you for sharing how incredibly fabulous are students are as they share their learning.
Making 15 using ten frames and writing the number
Story retell - Identifying what happened first, next, and last from a story
After two weeks of digital learning, I am super impressed with the teachers here at Parmley. You guys have absolutely blown me out of the water with everything you are doing to support our students to continue to excel in their education. These last two weeks have just reaffirmed how fabulous the staff is and how much we come together to support each other. Continue to keep up the good work.
If you are like me, one of my favorite parts of each week is the Google Live Meets. Watching my daughter interact with her teacher, Mrs. K, and her friends always brings a smile to my face. It is so exciting to see what the class wants to share, usually their favorite toy or in Jenna’s case her baby brother. Mrs. K begins each meet reviewing her expectations and having the class practice muting and unmuting their screens. Thanks to Miss Steinbach, we have a great handout on Google Meets expectations to use with our students. Just like we begin every collaborative meeting by reviewing our norms, these Google Meets reminders are a great way to start each meet.
As we have transitioned to digital learning, I know that I have become more dependent on my calendar than I ever have before. It was easier when I had a set schedule with a bell ringing to start my day, take attendance, and line up for dismissal. There is a really cool feature in Google Calendar to receive an email for your upcoming events for each day. So, each morning at 5:00 am, I get an email that lets me know what I have coming up for the day. It has been a lifesaver as I have navigated the ever changing world of our current school situation. If you are interested in setting this up, either jump on my tech help Google Meet today at 1:00 or email me and I can send you some instructions.
Finally, I just wanted to remind each of you that every Monday from 1:00 to 2:00, I am online for a Google Meet (link attached) to answer any and all questions. Feel free to pop in whenever if I can assist you or if you just want to chat. Do not hesitate to reach out during the week if you have questions.
If you haven’t been to the library lately, then you are missing out.
In the past two weeks, we have received around four hundred new books. Ms. Hernandez and I have been getting the books out on on the shelves as quickly as possible.
So, let’s learn a little about our new books shall we? The first set of books is about half of our grant books from the Willis Education Foundation. I’ll be honest, I got emotional when we got awarded the grant because I was so passionate about getting in new biographies and historical books for our students. I really wanted to focus on introducing our students to books that push them to think about others and the impact they have on our lives today. These new books are some graphic novels of pop and music icons, famous people, and a new collection on Texas History. We also received a large collection called Freedom’s Promise. This collection focuses the lesser known stories and perspectives of historical activists. While this is not all we are receiving (half the order is still waiting to ship), you can tell from the picture we got quite a bit in on the first round.
We also received a large number of books from Scholastic. Most of these books are books we have heard students request during library visits or completed series and collections. We did order six new copies of the newest Dog Man Fetch-22 and it is already off the shelf. On top of that, we also got a bunch of New Fly Guy books, the Owl Diaries series, Pete the Cat, and the Do Not Take Your Dragon series for our younger readers. On top of that, I am super excited to tell everyone that we ordered the Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robots books. These are high interest readers for some of our younger readers written by Dav Pilkey. In this last order, we got a nice mix of upper and lower level readers to meet the needs of all of our readers.
One last note about the library. We have so many students that ask for Lego and Fly Guy books that we are currently going through our shelves to pull these books and place them together on our series/popular books section. Please excuse us as we make this change to help students be more successful in finding books.
If you have book requests, please fill out the form here.
The Hour of Code is a global movement introducing students to computer science. It initially began as a one hour coding challenge in the hopes that students would have a fun first introduction to computer science. Instead, it became a global learning, celebration, and awareness event. With the emphasis placed on computers, computer science is changing every industry on the planet. Students need opportunities to create technology, as well as nurture their creativity and build problem-solving skills to equip them for future endeavors.
With computer occupations serving as the fast growing and one of the best paying jobs at this time, it is important to offer our students opportunities to learn about and experience these types of job skills. These occupations also serve as the largest sector of new wages in the United States. Students need opportunities to not only learn computer skills and etiquette, but also create, network, and share their experiences globally.
Hour of Code takes place every year during Computer Science Education Week, which falls from December 9 -15 this year. You can learn more about Hour of Code by visiting:
As we enter the holiday season, I always take some time to think of all the many things that I am thankful in my life. With the stress of life and all the rushing around, it is sometime hard to see the many things that make life special. I also spend some time during this season making an effort to show those special people in my life how much they truly mean to me and how much I appreciate their love and support.
Recently, I had the great pleasure and honor of thanking the teacher who had the greatest impact on my life. I was able to attend The Anywhere School training hosted by Fried Technology. The training was awesome and a great day was spent with some of my fellow iCoaches. At one point, we were asked to fill in some information on a Google sheet and I happened to notice a name that jumped out at me. I looked at Courtney and immediately started telling her my story about this teacher. My parents divorced when I was young and I really struggled with my dad leaving. It wasn’t a great feeling and I spent most of second grade hating school and begging my mom to not leave me at school each day. In third grade, that all changed because I was in Mrs. Kana’s class. Mrs. Kana is the kind of teacher I dream of being and the whole reason I wanted to teach 3rd grade. She was a first year teacher the year I sat in her room here at Parmley (originally called WES for Willis Elementary School). She cared very much about my academics, but what she did for my confidence as a person had a greater impact on my life. Every day, she made each student feel welcomed and loved. When she spoke to you, you just felt like you were the only person who existed at that moment. Mrs. Kana celebrated the smallest victories and encouraged you through the struggles. Being a member of her classroom was a great reward in my educational journey. As we all gathered back in the main room for lunch, I looked up and recognized her. I just had to let her know the impact she made on my life. I called her name and she looked at me. I said, “Mrs. Kana, it’s Ashley.” She responded back with “Castleschouldt.” She gave me the biggest hug, the same hug from my childhood that reassured me that all would be okay. I was emotional and could feel the tears welling up as I told her she is the reason that I am a teacher. Teachers, as we enter this next couple of weeks, do not forget the impact that you make on our students. It has been almost thirty years since I have been a student in Mrs. Kana’s room, but just seeing her that day brought back every good feeling I had about school and myself.
“To the world you may be one person; but to one person you may be the world.”
The third week of October is dedicated to teach good digital citizenship in the hopes that our students will become safe and smart when using technology and getting online. While we do focus on digital citizenship for that one week, it is important that we are teaching and modeling good digital citizenship throughout the year. Always remind your students the importance of logging out of devices and being careful when sharing/sending information over the web.
Our students and the fabulous Mr. Burns worked on digital citizenship in computer lab last week and will be finishing up this week. Our kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd graders read the book
“The Technology Tail” by Julia Cook. Our littles learned about proper social media etiquette and posting. It focused on not being an online bully in bright pictures and using rhymes. We have a copy of the book in the library if you ever want to use it in your classrooms.
Our 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders worked independently using Peardeck’s Be Internet Awesome activities. They focused on Share with Care to look at privacy and profile settings. The students will be completing the online activity in computer lab this week.
You can check out the Peardeck’s Be Internet Awesome curriculum here. They have lessons on Sharing Information with Others, Identifying Fake Information, Securing your Information, Online Bullying, and How to Get Help Online. Each one has some fabulous resources and a teacher’s guide to walk you through using it.
It is hard to believe the first nine weeks of school is already over. 2019 – 2020 is just zooming by. I have realized as the year has gotten off the ground that many of you are using the books in the library as classroom resources for mini lessons and your community circle activities. I love, love, love that everyone is doing that. Ms. McKay and I do not mind having you send us book titles to pull, but I wanted to show you how to use our Destiny system to search for titles. One of the great features of our Destiny system is that you can search for titles or authors on our campus or any of our Willis ISD campuses. It will tell you where to find it in the library and how many copies that we have available.
To get to the card catalog, go to the Parmley homepage. Under activities, choose Library. Click on the Destiny Card Catalog. It will then take you to the Willis ISD Destiny homepage. Choose Parmley and change from Homepage to Catalog. You will get the page like the picture above. When you get to this page, you will have a variety of options. Let’s highlight a few options below.
Keyword searching will help you find themes, such as community helpers or scary stories. It is great if you want to pull a bunch of resources for a topic in your classroom or have us display in the library on your library visit.
Material type will let you search for materials other than library books, such as ebooks and videos.
Finally, you can select a reading level or interest level for your students.
While I am highlighting the Library website, I want to point out the link to Research Links/TexQuest. This is a Google Site my department has put together will all of the links to Britannica, Info Bits, and National Geographic Kids. These are free resources that all of our staff and students have access to use. It is a great starting point for helping students do online research and identify quality resources. Please feel free to let me know if you would like a mini lesson on researching for your students.
While searching for books, please do not hesitate to let Ms. McKay and I know about your needs. I know how important quality literature is to our students. If you are using a book in your classroom and we do not have it, please send us the title. Many times, we get requests from students for books teachers are using in class because they want to reread it. We are willing to do our part to support your needs and your students’ varied interest any way we can.
Click on Book Needs to let us know titles to purchase and update our ever growing library.
Ms. McKay and I had a fabulous week running the Fall Scholastic Book Fair this past week. Each day, we hit the ground running with students coming in as soon as the doors opened. It was so exciting to hear our students excitement about books and what they could not wait to buy.
We were doing our very best to listen to the students so we know the must have books needed for our collection. I was like a kid in a candy store picking out the must haves for the library.
For me, this was the best book fair I have ever been a part of. I had set a goal for the campus to sell 1.003 books and we exceeded that goal with over 1,200. I believe that we were so successful due to the teachers support in bringing their classes in to preview and shop the fair and promoting a love of reading on our campus. Many of our staff shopped the book fair for their classroom libraries and personal home libraries. Thank you so much and I look forward to the Spring Book Fair.
I cannot forget the awesome support offered to our library from the amazing PTO and Courtney Brown. Ms. McKay and I know we could have not done it without them. They went above and beyond helping us set up and tear down the book fair, working registers, and staffing our book fair during the Dudes with Donuts. One of the best parts of working with the PTO ladies was their help with students that needed support to find books. Ms. Brown stepped up to man a register for the entirety of Dudes with Donuts and remained to help for the day on Thursday.
In all the hustle of the book fair, I was able to squeeze in a little time with some teachers during the week. On Tuesday, I got to work with Mrs. Klespis and the K-2 teachers on Numeracy Stations. I loved sharing a few apps on manipulatives (Ten Frames, Number Lines, and Number Racks) and discussing
ideas on how to use them and build lessons. It was a great opportunity for me to work with my younger grades teachers to implement technology. It opened the door for me to visit with Mrs. Puckett and Ms. McBryde to set up their ipads with the Reflector software.
On Thursday, I was invited to a planning session with Mrs. Crabdree and Mrs. Schultz to create a Goosechase on forms of energy. Who knew that melts could be an mnemonic device for the five forms of energy? I seriously thought that was what happened to me when mowing the yard in July. These ladies used a combination of video and photo evidence with their five missions on mechanical, electrical, light, thermal, and sound energy.
On Friday, the students worked in groups with a Chromebook to move around the building to prove their understanding of MELTS. Thank you ladies for the courage to try something new and let your students move around the building to find their evidence.
After sending a Google Form on T3 trainings, the staff appears to favor Wednesdays for after school trainings. Just so you know, I will offer a T3 every other week in the library. These hour long trainings count as one hour of Professional Learning (the district requires 20 hours each year). I select topics that I think would be beneficial, but I am open to suggestions if there is something you would like a training on. So this week’s T3 will be on Wednesday in the library. We will be learning about Edpuzzle.
If you have not already seen it, check out the newest edition of Bathroom Briefs near you.
After a fabulous T3 the week before, it was exciting to visit with teachers about Peardeck and to hear all the wonderful plans they have to use it with their students. Shout out to the fifth grade team for jumping in with all things Peardeck.
Mrs. Crabdree, Mrs. Schultz and I worked together to to plan for a Peardeck this coming week. Students will be using Peardeck to review their understanding of mixtures and solutions. Big kudos to these two ladies for also including a Wizer.me sorting activity on mixtures and solutions. To be honest, I learned the difference and could teach a friend.
In math, Mrs. Sommers invited me to her room to assist with a Peardeck on Order of Operations. One of the best parts of her lesson was the combination of the technology and traditional teaching. She did a great job of having students respond on their devices, but also working out and processing their thoughts with their expo markers on their desks.
Ms. West used Peardeck to review Text Features with her students. I enjoyed helping her use her ipad to run the teacher dashboard to add a timer to student responses and to star the student responses she wanted to share with the class. One of the things I found eye opening as her students shared their understanding, was the ability to see all student responses and immediately decided if the whole class needed a review or if a small group mini-lesson would cover it. For example, one of her slides asked the students to choose the correct response for a picture with words underneath. Only one student choose the incorrect answer and Ms. West was able to move on and get with that student later. It gave her instant feedback and allowed her to keep the lesson moving and students engaged.
If you have not had a chance, you need to go and check out Peardeck’s newest slide templates on Social Studies. Check out this slides on identify the type of source for a document. I am also in love with the website slide using Google Earth or the draggable slide on chronology. One of the great things about Peardeck is that they are constanting adding to and updating their templates. Currently, they have math, social studies, critical-thinking, and social-emotional learning. Follow their blog or twitter @Peardeck to stay up to date and participate in their contests. If you need assistance getting access to your free premium account, let me know.
One thing I did not share about Peardeck is the Flashcard Factory. In this activity, the teacher chooses the terms and then students work in partners to create definitions and illustrations. The class can vote on the best to create their own Quizlet set of flashcards.
If you want to stay in the know on technology, join my Google Classroom with the code tu85nrh. I post links and cool things to check out. Be on the lookout for the second Bathroom Briefs dropping in a stall near you on October 1st.