Tag Archives: 4th grade


Texasbook Title

This past week, I had the pleasure of chatting with preservice teachers in Connecticut via Skype. Their professor, @mbfxc, and I met at #ISTE13 (and I use the term “met” loosely because prior to this call, we had never actually seen each other– instead we were part of each other’s extensive PLN on Twitter). I was part of the @HaikuDeck Virtual Team. Marialice loved being a part of the #HaikuDeck tweet stream and she and I exchanged several tweets that day. Months later, she contacted me (via Twitter) and asked if I would connect with her Science/Social Studies class of preservice teachers. Without hesitation, I agreed. Enter an invigorating conversation, thousands of miles apart, between myself, a humble {veteran} teacher, and engaged teachers of the future.


Screen Shot 2013-11-09 at 11.15.04 AMThey asked questions. I shared experiences. As I shared, my wheels turned. I have to say that as a connected educator, it’s not just about ME. My lessons and experiences change from class to class, year to year based on conversations I have with other connected educators. Some in my building, most through Twitter. As I previously shared in my #ISTE13 gems Haiku Deck from keynote speaker, Steven Johnson, good ideas come from slow hunches. They are cultivated. They simmer. They are rebuilt, remixed, and changed. They grow.

Hands down, I give this credit to my #PLN of connected educators.

That’s how “Texasbook” was born.


I struggled with the idea of presenting Texas History to my 4th graders. How could I help them relate to something that happened hundreds of years ago? How could I help them connect with influential adults who were making momentous decisions about our great state? How could I help them understand that decisions lawmakers make today are a direct effect of decisions that were made in the past?

This was THEIR history and I wanted them to be completely absorbed in it. So, I had to ask myself: What are they completely absorbed in now? Facebook. Duh.

Texas History + Facebook = Texasbook

I wanted to hook them in this lesson the best way I knew how. Social Media. At the time, I was pursuing my Master’s Degree in Education Media Design and Technology from my favorite creative college, Full Sail University. I made this video for my students:

Students were encouraged to pick a famous Texan from the Battle of the Alamo and create a Facebook profile on that person. But not online. Instead, live and in person. A six-foot tall person.


Beyond just the obvious Social Studies implications, students were forced to use reading skills and strategies to transform themselves into a person from our past. Someone they had never met. They had to read. They had to research. They had to infer. They had to become. What resulted was mind-blowing. Fourth graders reliving the Battle of the Alamo through a Facebook timeline.

I think they nailed it.







I used this Facebook template to help students plan their final product: http://goo.gl/LZpj8z

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@msalisonperry used our #iMentor Skype call as motivation to step out of her comfort zone and inspire her students to create “Connecticutbook” as a way to celebrate their state’s rich history. Check out her blogpost here!



My Students are My Family


My students are my family. I mean think about it. I spend more time with my students than I do my own family. My own children. They spend more time with me than they do their own parents. We are family.

This school year, I wanted the parents of my 60+ students to know that I am invested in their most prized possessions– their children. I want parents to know that I will take care of and protect and love and nurture their children as I would my own children. I think about my students all the time. I think about conversations we’ve had. Conversations we should’ve had. And conversations we will have. I reflect on things that I have said to them. I think about things that they have shared with me, an extension of their own family. I see things daily that make me think, “Oh! I can’t wait to share this with my students!” I am invested in them and I want them to know that deep in their hearts. I want them to know that along with their parents, I am a partner in this so-called journey through life. Your parents and I are connected through you.

We are a family.

That’s why I asked students to bring in a family portrait to share with our school family. This bookshelf is a constant reminder of people who love and care for them. I often catch students stopping by and gazing. Feeling love from a moment caught in time. Feeling love from family. In a way, it makes them feel safe in my classroom. And if students feel safe, they are ready to truly learn.