Keeping Students Engaged at the End of the School Year

As the end of the year approaches, keeping students on task and motivated can become quite a challenge. I shared this quote awhile back on Instagram, but wanted to share it here because it’s an important reminder for us teachers, especially at this time of year.

Since technology can be a great tool to increase student engagement, I thought I’d share some of my favorite “techie” ways to keep students engaged up until the last day of school.

Play a game of outdoor Scoot to review miscellaneous concepts. To play Scoot, pass out a set of task cards and have students sit in a circle with a pencil and notebook or recording sheet. Every couple of minutes, the teacher yells, “Scoot!” and the kids rotate clockwise to solve the next task card. Continue until the entire set is completed. Students can use mobile devices to scan the QR codes for immediate feedback. You can find many QR code task cards for grades 1-5 math and ELA HERE.

Another idea for outdoor learning is to go on a geometry hunt or a parts of speech hunt. This little guy is snapping a picture of perpendicular lines to put into a Pic Collage of types of lines and angles.

Interactive QR bulletin boards are an exciting way to get students out of their seats and kids especially enjoy checking out their peers’ work. One very low prep idea is to have students create their own math word problems and then generate QR codes that reveal the answers. That way, students can solve their peers’ problems and then check their work by scanning the QR codes. We use qrstuff.com to create our QR codes and the free i-nigma app to scan them.

Get your kiddos up and moving around the room with QR code scavenger hunts like this base 10 block freebie. You can find lots of other QR scavenger hunts HERE. Because each skill is a different color, I leave several hunts up at the same time around my classroom.

Another fun way to get your students moving is this I Spy QR codes activity. I have a bundle of 8 skills for primary HERE and upper elementary HERE and there is a freebie set linked within each respective bundle.

Of course any activity with QR codes is highly-engaging for students, whether they are moving around or at a sit-down center. The center below is a self-checking true/false addition sort, which is part of this QR code center bundle.

Word clouds can be a fun way to commemorate a school year, and one of my favorites is Tagxedo. There are many cool shape and color options, such as this school bus so let your students run wild with their imaginations!

Rather than showing a whole-class movie, maybe consider watching an online storybook. Storylineonline.com has a wonderful collection of free books that you could display on your SMARTboard or projector.

Another option is to have a listening center like the one below. Students can come up and scan a book of their choice to listen to independently. I have a free mini set of QR code listening centers you can download HERE. You can find my bundle of 40 stories along with response sheets HERE.

Are there any apps you’ve been dying to try out? Now is a great time to get your feet wet with new technology so you can start next school year strong. How about an augmented reality app like the free Cyberchase Shape Quest?

Or an app that allows students to star in their own TV shows? Telestory is free and my kiddos had a blast with it!

A little friendly competition can always get students excited about practicing math. Math Slide is a multi-player app that is available in various topics/levels, including place value, addition/subtraction, and multiplication/division. 


Want more app recommendations? Click on any of the images below to check out dozens of apps reviewed by yours truly.:)
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Fraction Resource Roundup

Happy New Year, everyone! Since many of my upper elementary friends will be diving deep into fractions after Winter Break, I thought I would share some of my favorite fraction resources I’ve used over the years. (Psst—be sure to read through the end of this post for an awesome giveaway!;)

I always try to start with a solid foundation in finding factors and multiples as well as identifying prime/composite numbers.  This foundation is crucial when it comes time for comparing and simplifying fractions. Here’s a free prime/composite number sort with self-checking QR codes.
This free Bump game is a great review for identifying fractions using models as well as number lines. 
Because my students always love being able to move around the room, I created this Scan the Room activity to practice various fraction concepts as I taught them. (I have this same exact product without QR codes here.) Here are a couple of my fourth graders hard at work comparing fractions and checking their work with QR codes.
One of my favorite free fraction apps is Oh No Fractions. Students must determine whether the fraction on the left is greater than, less than, or equal to the fraction on the right.  I like that it gives the option of showing a visual model of the fractions if needed.
Chicken Coop Fractions has an estimating fractions game that’s free and super engaging.

If you’re looking to integrate some literacy into your fraction unit, I highly recommend the book The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins. I have a little fraction exploration lesson freebie here.
Finally, I believe it’s so important to continuously review fractions throughout the year since some of the concepts start to meld together and students can become confused at times. Task cards are a great way to do this. My favorite set is this one pictured below, which includes a mix of identifying, comparing, ordering, and fraction equivalence.

Want a chance to win a set of task cards or any other fraction product from my store (QR code or non-QR code version)? This even includes my fraction task card mega bundle that's valued at $16.50! Head over to my Facebook page to enter this super easy giveaway.:)

Free Apps in a Snap: Pic Collage

For today’s Free Apps in a Snap, I’m sharing several different ways I’ve used Pic Collage in the classroom.

Pic Collage is a free app that has everything you need to create amazing collages with pictures from your device.  There are lots of fun stickers, backgrounds, and templates to choose from, and kids love it!  


Pic Collage is great for your visual and hands-on learners because students can take pictures of things in real life and create a collage.  For example, during a grammar unit, my students went around the room taking pictures of various parts of speech.  They had fun labeling and even acting-out different verbs, nouns, and adjectives.

We’ve also used it in math to label different shapes, lines, angles, and more.  I’ve even printed out collages to use as reference posters for my students.

Pic Collage also works well for some of the more abstract math concepts, like place value and addition/subtraction strategies. 

Since we were 1:1, I would sometimes use Pic Collage as an informal assessment tool.  For example, this expanded form collage was an assignment that I had my second graders turn in to me via Showbie.  Even if you’re not 1:1, you can easily have your students save a Pic Collage to their camera roll for you to assess later.

Here’s an example of one of the fun stickers that Pic Collage offers in their free collection.  We used these while learning about the flip-flop addition strategy in math.

With Pic Collage, the possibilities are endless!  Feel free to share in the comments how you have used Pic Collage in your classroom.  And be sure to like my Facebook page to see more Free Apps in a Snap. :) 

Free Apps in a Snap: Popplet

Welcome to my very first installment of Free Apps in a Snap!

Today I’m sharing how I’ve used the free app Popplet Lite in my classroom.  I won’t always write a new blog post for every app I share on my Facebook page with this series.  For some of them, I’ll link back to old blog posts or even post just the image itself on my Facebook page.  My goal is to give you quick snapshots and examples of new apps you may want to try in your classroom (without overwhelming you)!  If you haven’t already, be sure to like my Facebook page so you don’t miss any of my posts.  

Popplet allows students to map out their thinking and create visual graphic organizers.  I’ve used it across multiple subject areas and grade levels.  It’s so user-friendly that even a kindergartener could use it with minimal assistance.  

In reading, we’ve used Popplet for various skills such as sequencing, retelling, story elements, cause/effect, and vocabulary.  In the picture below, my second graders are creating Popplets to retell the main events in their stories.  They took pictures of pages in their books using their iPad cameras and then wrote short blurbs underneath each picture.

Here’s an example of a vocabulary map my students created using Popplet.  They would find a picture of their vocabulary words either from a book or the internet and insert it along with the definition, part of speech, and the word used in a sentence.

Popplet can be very helpful with brainstorming or prewriting activities.  Here’s an example of how we used Popplet to describe a special object from home before writing about it.

Popplet can also be used to help visualize tricky math concepts.  Below, you can see how my students created a Popplet to represent a number in standard, expanded, and word form as well as with base 10 blocks. 

The free version of Popplet only lets you create one Popplet at a time, which was always fine for us since I would have my students save their Popplets to their camera roll to send to me.     


I will be posting about another free app on Sunday night, so be sure to like my Facebook page so you don’t miss it!