ISTE 2015

I just realized that I never wrote a post about my fantastic experience attending the ISTE 2015 Conference in Philadelphia at the end of June.  For me the key word this year for ISTE was relationships.  I have been collaborating online with other teachers and classrooms in all different parts of the world for about 5 – 6 years now.  The ISTE international technology conference is a chance for many of us to meet in person to  strengthen and solidify our relationships.  I am now lucky enough to have teacher friends from all over the world!

My ISTE experience started with a Global Collaboration working brunch to discuss ideas for bringing more people on-board with this initiative.  Special thanks to our friends at VIF Learning Center for hosting!  The photo below includes teacher friends from the US and 3 other countries: Australia, Canada and England.  Most of us got to know each other through the Global Classroom Project.



Our good friend Louise Morgan from Texas scoured antique stores and flea markets for several years collecting global mugs.  At the luncheon she presented one to each of us as a symbol of our friendship and our dedication to connecting our students with others around the world.


Michael, Lisa, Robyn, Barbara, Betsye, Me and Julia



My experience with relationships at ISTE continued when I was able to accompany my good friend Michael Graffin, Technology Integrator from Perth, Australia, to the ISTE Awards Luncheon where he was presented with the Emerging Leader Award.  Michael co-founded and maintained the Global Classroom Project which brought us all together.  It was an awesome experience to meet him in person!



I was also thrilled to meet Julia Skinner, retired teacher from Bristol, England and founder of the 100 Word Challenge in person!  Her blogging challenge has inspired SOOO many of my students to be better writers other the last few years.



Julie, Me, and Louise Morgan 


Besides building relationships, I also had the incredible opportunity to present at 3 sessions during ISTE!  I was humbled to be accepted when many applications were turned down.  My very favorite session was the one I presented with Michael Graffin and Julia Skinner.  Our poster session explained how students can make global connections through blogging.  We talked for 2 hours straight and we were exhausted at the end but we loved sharing ideas and meeting many new educators.

Global Blogging


I meet many other fun friends during the conference as well.


With Michael, Tina Photakis from Australia, and Donna Falk from New Jersey.  Tina and I plan to exchange cranes between our schools for International Peace Day this year.  


With Moby from


With the Kahoot creators! This is a site that my students LOVE!



Amidst all of the “business” talk of ISTE, we also found some time to have fun by attending a Phillies game.  The Phillies were not playing their best at that time but the out of town folks enjoyed the stadium and the experience (including hot dogs and water ice).  I found myself sitting between an Australian and 2 British friends trying to explain the game of American baseball!  I did the best I could being more of a football girl myself (Go Eagles).  It sure wasn’t easy to explain a balk!



We finished up the conference with a Global Classroom dinner and a promise to keep up our online connections with students and to meet again in person someday!


After the conference, I had the pleasure of touring Philadelphia with Michael Graffin a bit before he left the area.  We visited the Eastern State Penitentiary, went to Penn’s Landing and took a walk over the Ben Franklin Bridge.  Sometimes it takes an out of towner to open our eyes to the amazing sites we have in our own backyard.

Thanks ISTE for the chance to build relationships and become better teachers!  It was an amazing experience to be amidst 10,000 plus teachers who are all as passionate as I am about teaching.





Global Project – If You Learned Here

If you learned here cover


Earlier this month, my students and I finished up a new global project called If You Learned Here.  There were 77 schools from 21 countries who took part.  Each week for 4 weeks, the students created short videos to answer specific questions that were posted on the project blog.  We used a great new digital tool called FlipGrid to do that.  FlipGrid does have a monthly fee to use it, but since the project creators subscribed to it and set it up, there was no cost to us to leave our video reply.  I separated my students into 4 groups of 6 students and each group was in charge of a different video.  We shared information about our school, community, curriculum, books that we like to read, etc.  As an added bonus, if classrooms had extra time, they could also post photos to Padlets that were set up on different topics.   Please visit the If You Learned Here Blog to see our FlipGrids and Padlets.  My classroom posted to the blue cohort.  As a culminating activity, we created a Global ebook.  Each classroom was invited to create 2 pages for the book.  All of the pages were compiled into one book using Book Creator.   The Global ebook can also be viewed and downloaded from the project blog.  My students and I had just as much fun reading the global book as we had taking part in the project.  Click this link to see our last FlipGrid submission which was a reflection about what we liked the most in this project.  We had a great time and I look forward to doing it again next year if it is offered.  Not only did we make connections and learn a lot about different countries, but I also enjoyed using new technologies as well.  Thanks so much to Mary Morgan Ryan and Carolyn Skibba for running a top notch project!  My students and I greatly appreciate all of your hard work!



Photo is the cover of our ebook and was made by the creators.

Using Adobe Voice in Social Studies

This week I had my students work in small groups on a Social Studies project.  Some of them did research about the Branches of Government and others researched our national symbols.  They used the app called Adobe Voice for their presentations.  The students submitted their videos to me as an assignment via Google Classroom app.  On my end, Google then provided me with an embed code that I could use to publish them here.  We could not upload them directly to Kidblog because the video files were too large, so this worked out quite nicely.

This first one is by Andrew and Alexandra.  If you’d like to see the rest of the projects, CLICK HERE.



Skype with Author, Kate Messner


My students and I were thrilled to be able to do a free Skype with award winning author, Kate Messner last week.  We had just finished reading the first book in her exciting new series, Ranger in Time.  Ranger is a time traveling dog who travels to the Oregon Trail in his first adventure.  We enjoyed learning about that historical event as we read.  Many of the students didn’t realize how dangerous that trip could be and how much courage it took.  The students prepared questions in advance about both the book and being a writer in general.  We were excited to hear previews from Mrs. Messner about upcoming books in the Ranger in Time series including one that talks about the Underground Railroad and will mention a city we live near – Philadelphia.  We are now going to order a few of Mrs. Messner’s books which she will personalize for us.     Watch the video below to hear a bit of our Skype.  Thanks so much Kate!!

Skype with author Kate Messner from Tina Schmidt on Vimeo.


App Smashing and Creative Writing

Our classroom was lucky enough to get a set of iPads a few months ago.  I’ve been looking for ways to do content creation with these devices rather then just using them for playing review games.  After reading Miss Yollis’ post about App Smashing, it inspired me to give this a try.  Since we had just recently made some flat friends to exchange with a class in France, I decided to use them for a realistic fiction creative writing piece.  This is what we did.

  1. Each student chose one of the states and researched places to visit in that state.  Then they wrote a creative story on Google Docs telling about how their flat friend went to visit that place.
  2. Next we used the Google Earth app to zoom in on each place and take a screen shot.  We then opened the Pic Collage app and took a photo of the flat friend.  They used the cutting tool in Pic Collage to cut out the friend and then uploaded the Google Earth screen shot as the background to make it look like the flat friend was in that location.
  3. We put all of the pieces together and published the stories on our Kidblogs.  It took a few weeks to complete and our many delays and days off from snow didn’t help, but our finished stories look great!  Here is an example of one that was written by Andrew.


Once upon a time there was a boy named Flat Bob. He was always asking questions about states. So one day his parents said he could pick one state and visit it.  It was so difficult  to pick.  He decided to pick Maine. He went to Acadia National Park and learned that it is almost completely surrounded by the sea.  Also he learned that  it occupies a major portion of Mount Desert.

Andrew 1









The second place he visited was Roosevelt Campobello International Park.  He learned that President Franklin Delano had a summer home there.  He went deep sea fishing and tried to catch lobsters there. He learned that it is famous there.  The final thing he did there is he watched people go snowmobiling.  He still says that was his most favorite trip ever.

Andrew 2









If you would like to read the rest of the stories written by my students, just visit our Kidblog and search on the Flat Friend Adventures tag.  Thanks again Mrs. Yollis and her class for a fun idea!!

Musical Math Word Problems

We had a fun time doing Math on St. Valentine’s Day this year by adding in some music and dancing! I used Laura Candler’s ideas from her free February Activities and we played Mix it up Math.  The students were given word problems to work on with a partner.  When the music was playing, they danced around the room.  When the music stopped, they found a partner to do the problem with.  Each time the music stopped, they had to find a new partner.  Because some teams finished before others, I put Laura’s Valentine’s Day Word Challenge on the back  for them to do while waiting for the music to begin again (also in the free February Activities).   It was the perfect activity to do on this winter day when we were stuck inside and a little antsy due to the holiday.  Watch this video to see how much the students enjoyed it.

Musical Math Problems from Tina Schmidt on Vimeo.


Mystery Skype with Clues


Last week we had our first Mystery Skype with clues for this school year!  Each class asked and answered the same 10 questions.  Questions 1-9 gave clues about our area like weather, crops, famous and people and places in the state, landmark clues, etc.  Question 10 gave information about the school environment.  The children worked hard to keep track of our clues and take our best guess as to where they were located.



The class we Skyped with was Ms. Wilcox’s 6th grade from Jefferson School in Conception Junction, Missouri.  They only had 9 students in the 6th grade and only about 130 students in the whole school from PreK-12th grade!  And we thought our school was small with only 275 students from PreK-8th grade.  We learned that they live in a rural area with 3 small towns that are close together and have a strong Catholic influence with a Monastery, a Seminary and a Convent nearby.  We talked about their experiences with tornadoes and our experiences with hurricanes.  Some people born in their state are Jesse James and Brad Pitt.  Famous places from Missouri include the Gateway Arch and the Busch Stadium.  Thanks so much for a fun learning experience!





Skype with Sharks4Kids

Today we had a fantastic time Skyping with Jillian Morris from Sharks4Kids.  Jillian is a marine biologist working with sharks on the island of Bimini.  She founded Sharks4Kids as a way to create a new generation of shark advocates through education, outreach and adventure.  She showed us photos and told us all about sharks’ bodies, where they live, the different kinds and more.  Her enthusiasm really made the Skype fun and it excited the students about this topic.  Below is a movie showing just a little of what we learned today.  The children also made movies showing what they learned using the app called Educreations.  You can view those on our Kidblog.  Thanks again Jillian for a great Skype today!

Skype with Sharks4Kids from Tina Schmidt on Vimeo.