Happy Mathsgiving!

piepic  babypiepic

There’s nothing quite like having perfect timing in teaching: when a fantastic opportunity arises for you to give your students a real-life experience about exactly what you’re teaching at that very moment.

That’s what happened to me this week.

My favorite holiday, like many Americans, is Thanksgiving. Living in abroad in Sudan, November 24th was gearing up to be like any other Thursday. I had a conversation with my students a few weeks before the big day about my own family traditions, only to learn that most of them had never tasted pie before. What?

And then it struck me; we were going to finish our unit on measurement right before Thanksgiving. Baking pies would be the perfect end to a great unit!

The Math

slide1 After making and eating the pies one of my students told another teacher, “it was so fun, but Ms. Stephanie is tricky. She snuck math into it!”

Goal achieved.

Students worked in teams of two or three to measure out all of the ingredients. They weighed sugar, flour and cubes of butter in grams. They measured the apple pie spice, salt, and water in teaspoons/cups. And they measured their apple slices in centimeters.


Seeing Another Side of My Students

One of the greatest parts of doing activities like this is seeing another side to your students. It was surprising to see which kids could chop apples as well as any adult and which began by smacking their knife (we didn’t use sharp knives, don’t worry) on the side of the apple and wondering why it didn’t work.

It actually ended up very beneficial, though, because it helped us to refer back to our last science unit of inquiry, where we talked about the blade of a knife being a simple machine: a wedge. The flat side of a knife just wasn’t designed to pull things apart.


Creating Memories

Our school recently had a theater crew, the HandleBards, come and perform as well as offer a PD. The major takeaway was how important memorable lessons are to student learning. Measuring the weight of the ingredients with a purpose as delicious as pie will stick in my students’ memories far longer than doing it just to fill out a chart.

Did they Like the Pie?

Two of my picky eaters decided it wasn’t for them, but most said it was great. One even said it wasn’t great, but waaaay better than great. And all of them, whether they liked it or not said they would love to bake again in the future.

By @SGroshell


Teachers Need Tech Sandbox Time

Have you ever met a teacher that had too much planning and nothing to do?

Me neither.

We fill our planning times and the cracks in between being extremely busy with a litany of time-consuming tasks. That’s why administrators and instructional coaches like myself need to give teachers time to just play around with all of the newest tools in a Tech Sandbox format. Just giving teachers a little time to figure this stuff out can do wonders to building a community of digitally literate educators.

Try it yourself! Dive into the Tech Sandbox with these 5 cool tech tools.

1. Try TodaysMeet


Try TodaysMeet, posted by my “Fake Student” named .Sandbox on my school’s Seesaw PD account.

2. Try Visuwords


Try Visuwords, a visual thesaurus.

3. Try Wordclouds


Try wordclouds, and think about how you could use this to improve student learning

4. Try Making a Chatbot


Try making a Chatbot during your sandbox time

5. Try A Web Whiteboard


How could you use this tool to get kids collaborating and improve student learning?

Did you enjoy your Sandbox Time as much as I enjoyed making it?

If you haven’t already, check out @SGroshell TPT, and follow us on Twitter.

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Seesaw Trick: The Imaginary Student

I have seen a lot of innovative practices in my school this year, and one of these is the clever use of the “fake” or “imaginary” student to organize and filter student work on Seesaw. The purpose of this post is to showcase this hidden feature that all Seesaw users should familiarize themselves with.

Classroom News Imaginary Student


This first example of using “fake” students to manage your Seesaw classroom comes from Year 2 classrooms. Teachers wanted to use Seesaw for sharing news with parents, but also realized that just posting a note to a busy feed would make it difficult for parents to find the latest letter home. They created a “fake” student named Classroom News (The Panda!), and now post to this student’s journal. As with all of these examples, the teachers made it so that kids can see other student journals on the righthand side bar of their Seesaws.

Resources Imaginary Student


This same year level wanted to share resources with parents and students in a place that was convenient and easy to find. They created a “fake” student named Resources (the Fish!), and post to this “fake” student’s journal. Now students have an easily manageable feed full of resources, such as a link to the above count-by video.

Tech Sandbox Imaginary Student


For the purposes of facilitating a PD on different cool tools that I learned about at AISA2016, I created a Sandbox fake student that could be used to store links to cool tech tools. I created a class with all teachers, and hopefully in the future we will have some time to dive into these neat tools.

So Many Examples of Imaginary Students!! 


More Examples (by @SGroshell, above):

  • The teacher has her own journal that students can go to for instructional videos made on the teacher’s iPad document camera
  • Flat Stanley has his own journal where he posts photos of where he has been
  • Each reading group has their own journal with the activities and resources that fit their reading level.

There are so many ways to use this fun “imaginary” student trick, and I am sure I am going to see more examples of this clever innovation in the weeks to come.

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Using Keynote to Teach the Scientific Method


I love teaching science to my students. You get to play, use your hands, and discover new things.

For those of you who aren’t teachers, I have to emphasis how incredibly fun this actually is. I spent an hour today with my students fashioning scissors, raising flags on pulley systems, clicking together wheel barrels and rolling out cars out of K-Nex. I’m living the dream!

However, I want to hold my kids to a high academic standard, so I always keep Adam Savage’s quote in mind:



The Scientific Method

In order to keep the fun of playing while maintaining the integrity of science, it’s important to me to have students use the scientific method in the least painful way possible.

In the past, I’ve always used worksheets that have a different block for kids to fill in for each of the steps. These make it easy for students to understand where to put their planning, results and conclusions. However, I found that they became dependent on the worksheet to know how to do an experiment. On the other hand, trying to have my second graders hand write all the steps provided them with too little structure, and I found they needed lots of help remembering to label and figuring out where it all went.

This year, I decided to try using Keynote presentations for the same thing and the difference has been amazing. It has the exact amount of scaffolding my students need in a really fun package.

For each step in the Scientific Method, students create a new slide. It looks a little like this.


I don’t need to prompt them to put a heading on their slide, because it is automatically formatted for a heading. At the same time, they do need to type the heading in, so as they work they are memorizing the steps of a quality science experiment.


Formatting is easy. Students just click on the paintbrush to switch between numbering the steps of the procedure, making bullet points for the different conclusions they made, or having normal typing.


Adding pictures and tables just takes a few clicks. Once in, they can easily change the size of the pictures of add/delete columns and rows on their tables.


It is also easy to share their work on Seesaw. When logged onto Seesaw already, they can export their presentation directly into their journal for their teachers, parents, and peers to view and comment on.

The students love it!

It makes them feel really sophisticated and professional putting their work up in such a neat and tidy fashion. One student brought in her iPad from home for Show and Tell and showed the class a science experiment she did at home and wrote up on Keynote. Although it is possible she would have done the experiment on her own, Keynote was the key motivation behind her recording her data and turning that play into science!

If you haven’t already, follow me @SGroshell on Twitter:

And be sure to check out my TpT.


Easy-Peasy Way to Give Great Links to Students

Sometimes the most useful tools are also the simplest. This rings true with e-link. I’ve already talked about e-link in the past, and I am happy to say that I am still using it. It is the easiest way I have found to give students a bunch of great URLs on one, quick embeddable webpage. Here are some that I have made so far:

Coding Station


Link: https://elink.io/embed/94dd9

Hour of Code on Code.org is great, but I wanted to give certain ones to my students all at once. This e-link, made in under 5 minutes, provides students with four of the hours of code so that they can easily go to the next one once they have earned their certificates.

Wonder Wallscreen-shot-2016-11-08-at-6-36-52-pm

Link: https://elink.io/embed/98419

Ever wanted to put all of the best kid-friendly search or research websites all on one page? Ever wanted to keep that page and embed it anywhere you want? E-link makes this really easy to do.

Count By Videosscreen-shot-2016-11-08-at-6-37-04-pm

Link: https://elink.io/embed/9da54

All of students’ favorite videos for learning their multiples. Before this e-link, I would just show the different videos one by one, starting with the 3’s in my grade. What was surprising was that many students are now taking the initiative to learn them all on their own at home, just because I set up an easy page for them to use.

Unit of Study Newsletter

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-6-37-16-pmLink: https://elink.io/embed/9842a

This year I have put all of the great articles that either I or my students have found that have to do with my Unit of Inquiry onto an embeddable e-link. Again, amazingly, some students have begun to read these on their own volition just because they are made available in an easy and attractive way.

Keep coming back to educationrickshaw.com for more teaching ideas!

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