Wednesday, July 1, 2015

BrainPOP Pointers- Make-A-Map

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram (@akbusybee) you might know that I am a tad bit obsessed with BrainPOP

There are SO many great features in BrainPOP that is more than the movie! I am going to be sharing some of my favorites throughout the summer on my blog!

If you have never heard of BrainPOP before-
"BrainPOP creates animated curriculum- based content that supports educators and engages students-in school, at home and on mobile devices. Our resources include movies, quizzes, games, mobile apps, experiments, activity pages, and much more covering hundreds of topics within Math, Science, Social Studies, English, Technology, Arts & Music, and Health. All content is aligned to and searchable by state standards including Common Core."

One of my new favorite features is Make-A-Map
For the screenshots I using a Free Movie and have not signed in.. HOWEVER.. signing in allows you to do so much more (such as save your work and students can share it with their teacher or work on it at a later time)

With each BrainPOP movie there are tons of extras that are below the movie.  Click on the Make-A-Map Feature

Once you have clicked on the Make-A-Map it pulls up the Concept Mapping Tool (did I mention that right now I am working on a Chromebook)
In this work space you have the movie, keyword, images and the ability to add extra nodes.

Students (or teachers- you could do this as a group) begin playing the movie.  When they have found a piece that they want to add to the concept map they click on the camera button to snap a picture.

What the what! That piece is now on my Concept Map.. and even better.. by pushing the play button it takes you back to that part of the movie!

As you can see this is a fantastic tool, but an even better tool when a student can save it and work on it later and continue to add to it.

Ideas for the classroom:
- Summarizing information over a topic that has been discussed in class
- Researching a topic deeper
- Taking notes

As soon as I saw this tool I also thought about those special education students and the ELL students who we are always trying to reach.  What a great way for a student to easily show what they are learning and also quickly and easily go back to review what they have done.

The videos replay in the work space, but so do the keywords!

Other great features:
- Connect the findings and add information in between
- change the color of the different nodes (how great would this for students to color code the word depending on what you are doing)

As I noted I am not currently signed in and using the free feature.  Signing in allows SO much more!
-You can Add Movies!  Often times when we are researching although we are looking at one topic, there are connections that can be made.  By clicking on the add movie piece it brings up other movies that would be associated with current movie.
-You can save your work
-You can turn in your work!

Are you a BrainPOP or BrainPOPJr user?  What are your favorite tools?

I will be sharing another one of my features next week!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Baked Parmesan Squash

I have actually really enjoyed stepping out of my comfort zone and trying some recipes.  This is one from Pinterest. I said it was a win.. my husband thought it needed more salt..but I was happy with it!
I found this recipe at
Now.. it called for 4 squash and that is too much for just 2 of us.

-2 squash
-1/2 tablespoon olive oil
-1/4 teaspoon of pepper and salt (I kept this the same)
-1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

-Preheat oven to 450 degrees
-cut squash into slices
-Mix squash, olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl
-spread out on pan and top with the Parmesan cheese 
-Bake 20-25 minutes until lightly brown on top

I was very pleased with how it turned out and will be trying it again.  What is your favorite squash recipe?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Bandana Dress

Today is day 18 of my own #summerofcreating challenges. Not only that..but my amazing friend Todd Nesloney asked me to do a challenge for his awesome #EduLS series I had to challenge others to share their creating. You can check it out here!

Yesterday for my day 17 I made a bandana today I wanted to share how I made it.

I have really tried to make my #summerofcreating items be things that I could use or gift to a friend.. so this dress is my second prototype for some cutie twins that I will be making Julu 4th ones for! The first one I made.. I tried to just use one bandana.. it would be a Pinterest fail in size!

-2 bandanas
-sewing machine (but.. this could easily be done with just a needle and thread
-ribbon (for my July 4th ones... I will be adding a white bandana to the bottom for some ruffle

-fold over one edge of each bandana about 1 or 2 inches (depends on the thickness of your ribbon) and sew across. This will be where you thread your ribbon.
-pin your two bandanas together with the seam from the ribbon edge facing out (this way once you have sewn together you can flip it inside out and all seams are on the inside)
-sew up the two sides of the pinned bandanas leaving about a 2 to 3 inch space between the ribbon edge and the edge of the side seam (this will be for the arm holes)
-once sides are sewn flip bandanas out. Cut 2 pieces of ribbon and thread through the top. The ribbons can now be tied into bows.
-you can also use the ribbon to edge the bottom of the dress.

There are lots of Pinterest ideas out there.. and I already have plans to extend on this one! Super easy and super cute.. and the price is fantastic as well!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Fiesta Chicken

When I shared about my #summerofcreating with my Academic Liason  (Vanesa Asbun) she shared one her go to recipes. I knew that I wanted to try it.

Ingredients for the Fiesta Chicken:
-2 boneless chicken breasts
-a can of corn
-a can of black beans
-a can of rotel
-package of chicken taco seasoning

-heat oven to 350
-coat the chicken breast with the chicken taco seasoning
-combine cans of beans, corn and rotel in a 9x13 casserole pan (I mixed them up a bit)
-put the coated chicken breast in the casserole pan
-bake at 350 for an hour to an hour and thirty minutes- use a thermometer to make sure it is done (I had mine bake for an hour and thirty minutes.. and it was a little dry..nothing life changing but I could have removed it earlier)

There are lots of ways you can eat this. I chose this evening to have it as chicken soft tacos. I made the pico de gallo myself too- you can find the recipe for that here On that recipe I added a bit more lime juice and only used one jalapeño. Not going to lie.. pretty yummy meal ;)

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Podstock 2015

Summer time is the time where I get rejuvenated and inspired at the various conferences I have the chance to attend.  My favorite conference of the summer is Podstock!

I write about Podstock every year, because I always come away with new learning, new friends, and new excitement for my the year.

Want more information about Podstock.. check out the website (and register.. you won't regret it!)

Preconference- July 15th
Conference July 16th-17th

The conference is one of the best ones yet.. but there is so much more that goes on with the conference than just the conference!

Are you attending Podstock.. check out these extras:

July 16th: The annual Podstock Gift Exchange.
Back story on the Gift Exchange.  The first ever Podstock Kevin had tweeted or Plurked out to bring something for a gift exchange. My mom helped me make an awesome Texas Gift Basket (that first year.. there were only 3 Texans that came) BUT.. no one else brought a gift to exchange. The next year began the official gift exchange.  All you need to bring is a gift that is $25 or less that represents you, your school, or your area.  It is highly encouraged that you actually make your item (you won't be kicked out if you buy it though too :)  This is one of my favorite parts, because it is so much fun to hear about all the different stories on why the items were chosen.  I am already working on mine!  If you join.. make sure that is an item that can travel back with someone that might be flying.

Another extra is the Podstock Photowalk.  The photowalk will take place on Friday July 17th. We will meet in the Old Town Hotel foyer at 7am.  Although this is early it is the PERFECT time to walk around and be a tourist.  Have you been a part of the photowalk before.. this year we are putting on an extra twist to those that attend!  I can't wait to use my new camera for this one.  It is a great way to be a tourist, meet new people and stretch your legs before the day of learning.

The Make, Create, Do, Teach (MCDT) Scavenger Hunt will be up and running again this year.  More information on that to come!

Tips on Surviving Conferences:

- Wear clothes that you are comfortable in.  I always love meeting new people and I love wearing cute clothes, but I try to remember where I am.. how is the weather.. what kind of activities will I be doing.  I have discovered that I am okay wearing t-shirt and shorts, but I still want to be somewhat professional- you never know who you will run into.
-Pack snacks and water! I often times drive to the various conferences that I attend.. so I pack my own and leave in the room.  If I have to fly, the first stop I make is to a local convenience store to grab water bottles, breakfast bars and snacks.  I also try to take a reusable water bottle.  (Podstock is one of those different conferences as they always have the BEST brownies, sodas, and water between sessions!)
-Be okay with missing a sessions.  I have discovered that I am an introvert.. and I need a little down time between sessions.  If you feel like you are going to miss something follow the Twitter feed.
-Be okay with meeting new people and inviting yourself to sit with people you don't know.  With most people wearing a badge or a certain shirt.. you automatically know that you will have a topic to talk about.  This is a great ice breaker and a way to step outside your comfort zone.

A HUGE TIP I HAVE- conferences are a fun place to be.. and there are lots of fun things going on.. just remember your social media usage.  If you are enjoying different adult things.. be careful what pictures you post.  Take a moment to frame your pictures so you can still show you are having fun.. but you are doing it "appropriately"

Just a couple of friendly suggestions and reminders.  My favorite part about Podstock.. is that I get to put on a costume one evening.  This year it is Steampunk! Who knew that the Victorian costume that I used when volunteering at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum Christmas Open House would come in handy again! Still needs work.. but it is a great start! I can't wait to start sharing the other things I have up my sleeves for the conference!

What are your tips and tricks for surviving conferences?  Do you have a favorite conference?

Saturday, June 13, 2015


Today I had the privilege of seeing my best friend get married. It was BEAUTIFUL!  So super happy for them both.  I have lots of pictures to share...but I think that will have to wait until I get home and there is a bit faster internet.

I was driving to my parents house when Roar by Katy Perry came on. I love how she talks about being a Champion and you are going to hear me roar. This is when I decided I knew what my new word for next year is going to be! Champion!

This year my word was strength. I had strength in so many ways and now it is time to use that strength to be a Champion.

Champion (as defined by the dictionary) noun- a person who fights for or defends any person or cause

Now you might ask...why champion? I chose champion because I know that we are in a time of need where there needs to be champions. But, when I think of Champion I am reminded of the Rita Pierson: Every Kid Needs A Champion TEDtalk.

I will remind myself to be a Champion:
-for the students that need extra opportunities that they might not get at any other place
-for the teacher that needs that reminder that they are valued and worthwhile. That I understand that they have a tough job..but I notice the difference they make
-for the administrator that might not get that encouragement in other places to let them know they are on the right track no matter what a score is.
-for my friends and my family  that put up with me. They too need to know the importance and impact they have on my life.
-for the stranger that crosses my path. Every person has a value and a strength.
-for myself. I have strength,  compassion, influence and heart.

This year.. I will be a Champion for others and myself.  We have so many systems that are broken in so many ways. I will strive to be the person that stands up and and reminds those around me the importance of the contrabutions they make.

"A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead

Do you have a word of the year?

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Library Lessons

This week I spent my time playing librarian for summer school.  I have had way too much fun in the library!

I wanted to share what I did with the kiddos.. because I think for a short 45 minute lesson they have had a good time (I know that I have!)

Kinder through second grade I read the story Good News Bad News by Jeff Mack.  This book is FANTASTIC! The students loved it and it was a great way to teach cause and effect.  During the lesson we talked about the characters, the setting, and what might happen next.

I showed students the Sock Puppets app
Students were then tasked with creating their own Good News Bad News using the Sock Puppet App. I was impressed in how creative the students got.

Not the best video production on my part, but the Good News Bad News was HILARIOUS!
Good News- we are in the studio today, Bad News- we don't know any jokes.  I still get a kick out of it!

For my third through fifth grade classes we worked on poetry.
I found this great post about Teaching Deeper Thinking with Poetry and she had a Freebie download at her Teacher Pay Teacher Store!  I loved the Victory poem that was in it.  For the first part of the lesson we analyzed the Victory poem and chatted about the different meanings behind it.  Students then were tasked with creating an I am Poem.  Super easy "I am" Poem website where you fill in the blanks.  I put this on the big screen and we did the first 6 lines.  After the poems were written students used the Chatterpix Kids app

Students took a selfie (which.. they seemed to love for some odd reason) and then read their poem.  Once finished they could add filters, stickers and text.  One thing that I do love about Chatterpix Kids- you can export to your camera roll (and then do some app smashing and add to another app like Thing Link)  I don't have any to share for this one, but I was very impressed in how open some of the kiddos were in creating their I am Poem.

Super fun times in the library.. I need to start planning for next week! (Oh, by the way.. my #summerofcreating is off to a great start!)