Classroom Crib Challenge

Just Jen's Thoughts 1 Comment »

I decided to share our Room-Makeover and also be a part of The Classroom Cribs Challenge

so — here is our summer makeover.

Last year — our lab looked like this:


and it worked for us.  4 Bulletin boards — 7 long tables for PC towers/monitors, a round table for the ipads, & teacher desk (not shown)

During the year — we modified it a bit:
Moved ipad table from round to kidney shaped and added an ipad area towards the back of the room and moved the iMacs from the left wall of the room to the back row on the right.

and since we wanted to utilize green screen — we made the best with what we had:
But — I wanted — we needed — to have a summer “make-over”.

So I began to dream — and threw out ideas to the students — and began to listen to their ideas — and then “flipped our lab”.

The first thing was to paint one wall totally green….so I asked for ideas from twitter and then we tested 3 suggestions:
and ended up with Valspar Luscious Green (valspar 6010-7)

Then Chris – a friend and handyman – came in and we started to move tables:
and we bought new chairs and placemats (to add color to room)

and the we started to paint and went from beige to green:


We also removed 2 bulletin boards and added 3 blue (blackout) curtains to cover white board and 2 windows.   I moved my desk to the front of the room, the macs to the side, and the ipad area to the back wall.  And we added 28 Dell laptops which are wireless — so cables are pretty much bye-bye.

And here — tada — is what our room looks like now:

The big tables are on coasters — so they can slide as necessary.  The chairs are light and stackable!  The laptops are not tethered to ANYTHING – so we can make groups/clusters as quick as we wish.  Still a work in progress — and it needs students.

But all in all — this is our summer “lab make-over” and I am pretty pleased.   And so far, all students who have wandered in (and parents too) have said “WOW”.


It Is Easy Being Green

Classroom No Comments »

To be honest — it took about 270+ kids under the age of 12 to help me get over my fear of video.

I always allowed it to be a hurdle I felt was too hard to get past.

Until we purchased ipads and let the students (and me) play.

The 2nd week of school — I handed the ipads to our 5th grade class and said “We are going to make movies about “What I Like About Calvary”.

and we launched imovie, talked a bit about pre-production needs, shots, etc….but we all learned together.
And through the year, more and more video came into our lab.  Sometimes with me being 1 step ahead of them, and more often than not….stepping out of their way and letting them lead.

And because of this —

during the summer — our walls went from THIS:


to THIS:



The paint is from Lowe’s and it is Valspar Luscious Green (valspar 6010-7) — and a parent donated the time and paint to help get this done.

So what will we do with a green wall?

We will create movies, and advertisements, and book reports, and news shows, and much much  more.

Our go-to apps will be
(1) the Green Screen Do Ink App ( you can read more on how we used this last year by clicking HERE!
(2) iMovie app (

Also, we will be using this template shared by Tony Vincent:

We are still a “work-in-progress” classroom — as we all are learning together….
but with the addition of the green screen — and hoping for “LIGHTS” soon…..

it is going to be a good year using video in our lab.



Automation vs Personalization

Just Jen's Thoughts 2 Comments »

I am all for efficiency –

In fact, one of my favorite books “Cheaper by the Dozen” — the book, not the movie — shares a great deal about time efficiency.  The parents, Frank Gilbreth and Lillian Gilbreth, do many things to save time.  

And every so often, when I am wasting time — or perhaps driving somewhere — or doing some task — my mind turns to the Gilbreth’s — and I wonder what I could do to be as effective with my time as I could.

Yet — on the other hand, I don’t wish let efficiency trump the importance of personalization.

Which is why, I have chosen to stay away from “shortcuts” that send out messages from me that are generic and not personable and not real time.   And which is also why I have turned off the “post for me” on facebook.

I wish to remain in control of what I post — to who — and when.

Which is why, I found it interesting today when someone else verbalized what I felt.


For me — and I strongly say “for me” — it is very important that “I” remember not to let the computer speak for me — especially in areas that need that human connection.

  • I feel — for me — that when I send a thank you to someone — it needs to be me that says thank you.
  • I feel — for me — that when I share out a blog post for someone to read — it needs to be me who shares out that blog post (either while I am reading it or after I have read it)
  • I feel — for me — it is very important that at no time do I let a computer insert words that are could or could not be mine — without ME being the one who hits submit.

I will admit, that when people register for my projects — they get a generic welcome and when I send out certificates of participation — often that is a generic email as well.   But pretty much — everything else is “WYSIWJWH”  (what you see is what Jen wrote herself)

My life is super busy —
but for me, if my life becomes too busy to be authentic and personable
or if I let something say what I should have taken the time to say myself  — then someone please stop me and let me know.

Just my thoughts today



One Time, At EdCamp……

Just Jen's Thoughts 1 Comment »

I am blessed to live in So California and have the availability to attend MANY edcamps during the year.

But yesterday…..well it was the BEST one so far.

I picked up my buddy, Brent Coley, at 6:45 and we headed down to Poway.  This time, I was driving (yeah, new car) and we just talked and talked and talked!!

We arrived at the campus and since we were there a few moments early, we had time to explore the campus.   Very unique look — penguin theme, lots of positive signs, a colorful garden with a garden trellis celebrating two teachers (both who were named Pam) and then wandered into the auditorium to sign in.

At about 8:10 the edcamp began and what they did at 8:15 has to become a STANDARD for all edcamps (in my humble opinion of course).   We merged into small groups to introduce ourselves, share if we had ever been to an edcamp before, and what was something we hoped to learn that day.   We had already found out that over 85% attending were newbies to edcamp so this was an EXCELLENT way to break the ice!

The board filled up rather quickly.  Brent & I had already decided that we would co-facilitiate a Google Forms group – and I was asked to lead a session on Connecting Classrooms.   So, 2 of my 4 sessions were now already determined.   Sessions included Subtext, Math, Twitter, Class DoJo, and many others.

So, I wandered into Room 1 and stayed there for the rest of the Edcamp!

The first session was on BYOD.
Our campus is looking at this and my co-worker and I do not see eye-to-eye on this (he wishes to have 1 device, I am okay with any) so it was good to hear the pros/cons of those who had gone before.   One of the campuses that shared is a Google School and use ipads — and the 2nd graders are having trouble editing their google docs (good to know).   Another campus is using any device and they are having trouble with everyone having similar options (as in apps or software).   Another campus is having problems with wifi logons to their network.   And my AHA moment came about 10 minutes into the session when someone shared about using EVERNOTE with students instead of DROPBOX!!  (need to investigate this more)
What I learned most from this session was:  We need to investigate this much much more!

The second session was on Google Forms – (for admin and teachers)
Brent always does a very good job with this and since only 2 teachers had not used Google Forms….he was able to showcase many forms he uses — a classroom observation form, a parent/student form, quick response questions to staff, etc.   Participants also shared their forms they use:   app evaluations, student observations of presentations using rubric dropdown choice, book reviews, parent/student get acquainted forms, etc.   There was a lot of sharing and Brent shared some new options I did not know about — like Section Header — which was my “AHA” for this class!
What I learned most from this session was:  yet, once again — my love for Google Forms has grown!

The third session was Early Elementary
This edcamp was filled with elementary teachers (which is not always the norm) so it was very nice to sit down with 6 other teachers (2nd grade and below) and just share ideas, apps, requests for help, and more!
There is a kindred spirit between young elementary teachers and we just talked and talked and talked.
What I learned most from this session was: There was no great “AHA” but just a feeling of contentment of being with like minded people!

The final session was on Connecting Classrooms
I started off the session by sharing a wee bit about Projects By Jen but then jumped right into DOT DAY and Global Read Aloud!  I could not remember the website EPals for the longest time, but finally did and also shared about Global School Net.  Some people in group had participated in my projects — so they shared a bit and we also talked quite a bit about Mystery Skype.  The time flew by — there was a GREAT deal of interest — and I think many will make the effort to connect with another class or classes this next year.
What I learned most from this session was:  The excitement of connection.  As I walked back to the auditorium, 1 person in the Connecting Classrooms was sharing with someone not there about what she had learned.  She just talked and talked and talked.  I was so happy I got to hear that.

We ended the edcamp with door prizes — and it was refreshing to see average door prizes (movie tickets, chocolate, lens cleaners, etc).   Lots of laughter, lots of smiles, lots of new friends.

I loved — truly LOVED — this edcamp.  It was simple!   What edcamps used to be…there wasn’t the need to be “bigger and better” — it was just nice.   90ish educators giving up a Saturday morning in July to come together to get ideas to take back to their classrooms.  There were no big names, no experts, no powerpoint slide presentations — there were just sincere conversations and sharing.

It was great.

A big thank you to #EDCAMPIGNITE!!  Well Done!

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