Teaching Students to Use Google KEEP for Student Portfolios in a Personalized Classroom

I finally found it! The easiest way for primary students to “KEEP” a visual, digital and audio portfolio of their work, Google Keep! Basically, Google Keep allows students and teachers to utilize digital post-it notes that have the awesome capabilities that Google products are known to offer-

  1. Create & Title a note, then share/collaborate across multiple devices
  2. Color code each note using labels so you can find topics more easily in search mode
  3. Upload an image & Audio feedback in mobile app only
  4. Transfer to a Google doc
  5. Set a location Reminder
  6. Lastly, and most mindblowing…utilize the new OCR (Optical Character Recognition) capabilities! This basically means you can take any image that has text on is like a business card or even a text from a book and Keep will translate it to EDITABLE TEXT!!! Think of the possibilities here for young children.

Students are able to easily organize work, record their audio comments, share and collaborate with peers and parents no matter what device they have access to, all free!

I am using Google Keep for my 2nd and 3rd-graders and they absolutely love it! You are welcome to use my KEEP Google Slides presentation that I use to teach my elementary students to use Google Keep. There are only four basic slides, three video lessons and a task checklist that I think you will find very helpful. ~ Your Welcome! 🙂

Keep Screenshot for Blog

Whenever they want to preserve a hands-on project, a writing sample, group activity, or best yet, take a screen shot of their work inside ANY app, they can grab an iPad, open the free Keep app and take or import a picture from inside the app itself. They can then assign the note a color, a title, attach an alarm and even add an audio comment in the app. Google recently releasedKeep as an iOS app and the audio recording time is pretty short but I foresee this to be adjusted soon. Below is a student of mine recording her audio note to her work in our noisy classroom using our recording box called “The Chatterbox”. (Available on Amazon here ) The Chatterbox has really helped my kids have a quieter space to record and certainly helps those shy kids that do not feel comfortable recording in front of others. There is a confined sense of privacy that they prefer and allows me to keep them in the room under my supervision versus taking a risk allowing them to record outside of our classroom.

This is my district’s second year using G.A.F.E. (Google Apps For Education), now referred to as “G Suite, so the problem of young children not having access to an email address has been solved. Even though the function of students accessing their actual email for communication has been disabled by our IT department, it does however, allow our younger students to have access to their own Google accounts and all the awesome features that Google apps have to offer them. I am excited about the prospects and the longevity of this tool, knowing that as my students progress from grade to grade, they have a portfolio of work documenting their progress.

It has been wonderful to see the active engagement, ownership and goal setting that naturally happens as a result of our digital projects.

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New! Portable Recording Box, Perfect for Classroom Recording

Portable Recording Booths For Classrooms- Two Models

Amazon Link to Black Cardboard Model -$49.99

* This model is our hottest selling of the two. If it is out of stock, please revisit Amazon again a week or two later as we are having trouble keeping up with the demand. 🙂


Amazon Link to Red Linen Podcaster Model With Pouffe Lid & Pop Filter $79.99

Okay, how many of you have finally gotten your tech routines in place and ready to get your students started with recording audio into their presentation projects, only to be thwarted by the frustration of a noisy classroom?

This was a huge issue for my class last year, so this year, I was determined to come up with a solution to my problem! My students wanted to record and share their “Show what they know” audio recordings in Educreations, Google Slides, Tellagami and Chatterkid Pix. They would be so upset if there was background noise in their recording, so they would ask to go down the hall to a quieter room that was often times used for small group intervention. Students being unsupervised was not a smart option for anyone, so I began researching options for an in-class recording booth. They say, “Necessity is the mother of invention”, so I came up with two small, collapsible and portable box with velcro acoustic tiles inside, the perfect size and weight for my students to carry across the room. We have affectionately named them our “Chatterboxes”. They have worked great and my students love to just grab one off of my shelf and take it anywhere in the room or even in the hallway just outside our door. If you are interested in purchasing a “Chatterbox” for your room, you can purchase one from one of the Amazon links above.

Kits Features Includes:

1 Sturdy portable cardboard box with easy to carry handles on the sides

4 Acoustic Soundproofing Foam Tiles that are Class A fire retardant -12” X 12″ X 1″ (Made in USA) 5th Foam Tile not necessary for base surface. Recording device (iPad/Chromebook) lays on sturdy bottom surface to discourage movement noises which produces better quality sound retention.

Velcro tab sets to adhere foam tiles to the inside top, back and sides of the box. 

Easy to follow assembly directions included along with some suggestions for digital tools my students use.

Light enough for even young students to easily carry

Can be collapsable for easy summer storage


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Personalized Learning Rotations/Centers. What Are Kids Doing During Independent Work Times in a Personalized Learning Classroom?

Personalized Learning Stations

We hear more and more about research surrounding the utilization technology and it’s importance in a “Personalized Learning Experience” in our public schools around the country. But what is it really and what does it look like? Wikipedia defines it – “Personalized learning is the tailoring of pedagogy, curriculum and learning environments by learners or for learners in order to meet their different learning needs and aspirations. Typically technology is used to facilitate personalized learning environments.”

No matter your philosophy or how you interpret this idea, we all have a responsibility to prepare our kids for their future. We cannot even fathom what that environment will be like but one thing is for sure, technology will be a huge part of their learning and daily functioning, so we owe it to them to keep pace with the reality of their future education.

I began my own “Tech Journey” when my sweet husband gave me my first iPad in 2011. I began using it for many personal interest ventures, such as banking, easier access to social media and email. Then the magic happened….apps! It was so overwhelming at first but I could see the immense value of utilizing technology for Personalized Learning in my second grade classroom. Since then, I have found myself in a more mature and streamlined approach beyond finding an app to support targeted skills. The tools need to be targeted, easily accessed and collecting meaningful data that I can use to formulate my lessons and flexible groups.

As my previous posts have indicated, I have found many useful tools that really do make my job as a full-time second grade teacher more manageable and engaging for me and my students. This search will continue to require a lot of thought about prioritizing pedagogy over products but the big question that most of my fellow teachers want to know the answer to is, “How do you manage the devices and what are the kids actually doing?” My previous post about how I manage my devices answers the first question for me but the deeper question remains…”What are they actually doing?” I have struggled with this topic for over 20 years, knowing that 1:1 and small group instruction is the best way to differentiate but I had trouble letting go of that accountably piece of what the other students were doing while I worked with my groups. Was it purposeful and were the kids engaged? I can say that it takes training and diligence but with the right tech and routines, it can be done!

My students follow daily routines using a visual rotation board during their independent work time so that I can work with my flexible groups during my Reading Workshop and Math workshop. Creating independence and critical thinking in our students is a pretty high calling but I truly feel that the kids can do it!

Center Rotation Charts for LA & Math with Free Recommended Management App

Here are my charts and checklists that I have created, used and posted in my Teachers pay Teachers Store that includes the evolved version, a visual student checklist for each day, charts for display and even a suggested free app- “Timer +” that I use to run four sets of a previously selected time based on how much time I have for that group. Look for the “Miramba” ringtone. It is a nice, non-startling tone that does not make us all jump when the timer goes off! 🙂

So, I basically adjust my boards once a week and push “Start” in this app and watch the kids go about their work. My previous posts break down in greater detail the digital tools I use in those stations but a quick overview:

Reading- Mobymax.com, Spelling City.com, Literably.com Apps- Fafaria, Epic app and web tool, Word Wizard, News-O-Matic, Hairy Phonics, Lakeshore’s Phonics Tic-Tac-Toe, Short Vowels / Long Vowels app by This Reading Mama, Whooo’s Reading online reading log, and Qr Codes from products I have purchased on TPT that have books read to the kids online. 

  • I do include paper choices too for a “Plan B” when our internet is acting up.

Math- Mobymax.com, HappyNumbers.com, LearnZillion Lessons, Apps- Timed Test Arcade, Door 24, Number Frames, Subtilizing, Number Bond Blasters, NumberLine, Teachley’s Addimals and Subtractimals and Math Fight.

5 Rotation Stations Thumbnail TPT jpg Paul Edit.001 5 Math Rotation for Thumbnail 1 small jpg.001

I used these images to create larger boards for display.  You can see that “Post-its” are used assign names to groups so they can be easily changed and you can also see in the pictures below that I have laminated the app tiles and taped down the ones I want them to use in that station for the day. I often use the same ones for a week or so, depending on what the group needs at the time. Since my room is lacking visual space, I have the boards adhered together, laminated and on rings so I can flip over from Reading in the morning to Math in the afternoon. I have finally found a routine and resources that fit the tech available to me. Right now I have 15 iPads that we keep in the room at all times and we share an older set of 30 iPads in a chargeable cart. We also visit a computer lab once a week to work on our “Google Ninja Skills”.
IMG_2182Reading Stations 2015-10-14 10.36.42

  • This recording booth, we affectionately named- “Chatter Box” with acoustic tiles will be available in my Amazon Store after this Thanksgiving, 2015. So, check back then for my detailed post. I have surprisingly had many requests for it. It has been revolutionary for our digital projects. Trying to record audio in a tiny room with 27, 7-8 years old can be a challenge and I cannot let kids leave my room unsupervised. The tiles are adhered using velcro and fully collapsible for greater storage. I have been very happy with their recording results and this year, my students are not coming up to me frustrated about someone talking in the background of their recording.



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