Why and how I Bitmoji in my classroom?

Why I Bitmoji?

If I’m being completely honest, I bitmoji because I am obsessed and I find joy in sending
and receiving bitmoji. And all the cool kids are doing it! 5b7f7c53-dffd-4480-b956-6c42daa26d53

So…I wanted to find a way to connect to my students using something that became important in my communication with my family and friends through messaging and TWITTER!

Bitmoji Stickers

One way I’ve connected with my students is by creating Bitmoji stickers one day when I called out sick…because what else could I do while drugged with sinus and pain medication right?

 

My students affectionately call these “Ms. Khatri stickers”
  • Students love the stickers and will work to earn one. They know they can’t ask for it, so they try to get my attention through their action. #winning!
  • It’s personal: it’s my face so the message or emotion of the sticker is coming from me, without me saying anything.
  • There’s so much variety of emotions, messages and I can print however many I want.
  • Even students that I don’t teach have asked about them. Also, my coworkers request them as a lift me up during the day. It’s pretty awesome!
  • They’ve really helped me build relationship with my students. I love to use them with my students since they emote (is that a word?….¡no me importa!) in ways that can’t be found on regular store bought stickers. Sure, I still use a lot of “thumbs up, good job” kind of stickers, but I have a lot more to say to my students. The following are examples:

 

Isn’t it?

I was a little nervous about using this one, but now I ask some of my students “how’s the struggle?” if I notice that they are having a bad day. And if they really are having a bad day they ask for this. It becomes a way for me to check in with them. And if they feel like sharing what’s up, they do. If not, at least I’ve checked in with them. With students that I am already close with I put this on their hand or paper as a way to tell them…”I’m noticing your general foolishness…cut it out and let’s move on.” Most of my students acknowledge it, laugh, and most often than not are like “okay, okay.”

 

If I want to check in with a student about something (academic or otherwise, I might out this on their hand or paper)

 

I’ve given this to students when they look like they are about to give up; I also have given this to them when I want to encourage them to continue their current work or line of thinking,

 

Because I teach math, and we always ask these questions.
My students LOVE this one.

I think I’m going to reserve these for academic awesomeness: they’ve asked a good question, worked well collaboratively, noticed something important, exemplified any of the other mathematical practices!


Bitmoji in notes

Thanks to my obsession, the 6th grade math team now puts Bitmoji into our guided notes. I love using the following to bring attention to directions or key concepts/models:

bitmoji
Sometimes theatrics are needed to get students to pay attention.


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Excerpt from our quiz last marking period.

HOW I BITMOJI: The logistics

I have had many friends and coworkers ask how I got my bitmoji stickers. I basically print them like you would mailing labels. Most people know Bitmoji as an app. On mobile devices and the cute little stickers to add to your snaps, but there’s more! Here is how I do it! If you’re new to Bitmoji, check this page out for some helpful tips or this.

1) If you don’t have one, download the app on your mobile device and personalize your avatar! Make sure you enable the Bitmoji Keyboard.

Personalize your avatar to your liking.

2) In order to create the stickers you’ll need square or circle 1-2 inch labels. I started with Avery 2 inch circular labels,  but have switched over to Garagesalepup labels since I can get more bang for my buck. Whichever you use, you’ll need the form template. If you use Avery or other well known labels, you can just use the label maker wizard in word. If you use garagesalepups, their website has templates. Before you print mass stickers do a test run, because you may need to adjust alignment and centering in the template. I didn’t really have to but some of the reviews mentioned that.

3)  This is the key ingredient for indoctrination through bitmoji and a way you can assure you leave your faceprint everywhere…yes young lad you heard right! EVERYWHERE!

 

Download the bitmoji chrome extension. This lets you add bitmoji to email and creates a toolbar with a SEARCH feature on the chrome browser which is vital for efficiently copying and pasting into the template from Step #2 or into any documents you create. If that link didn’t work, going to the bitmoji website will link you to the right place.

“What if I don’t have chrome?”

My response 
There is a work around which is a tad more annoying (for me, but you do you). You can use the app on your mobile device to copy the desired Bitmojis into one email. Then copy and paste them on the word template.

Hope this helps! Let the Bitmoji-ing everywhere begin!

I have plans to include Bitmoji in other aspects of my classroom!
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Week One: One Good Thing!

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Last week, I pledged to participate in explore #mtbos’s blogging initiation. I’m really glad blogging about one good thing is one of the options this week. It reminded me to dig up an old blog I used to keep (infrequently) for myself my first year of teaching: now renamed Positive Vibes. I’ve copied over my one good thing from this week.

One Good Thing: Persistence Means Not Giving Up!

I gave my students their performance task this week. This is the first time (ever) that I have completely let go and did not offer explicit help. I stole something I got from my colleague that she uses for students to write independently called “Try 3 before Me”. Instead of asking 3 people for help, the students are doing three specific things before they can ask for help. For my students that included utilizing their INB, math work book, creating a K-W-L chart, and mindful breathing. Their options were outlined on a poster.

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As students worked I circulated and answered only clarifying questions or re-read the question. I did ask some probing questions to some of my students who were ready to extend their thinking, but I kept hands off as much as I could. I was really proud to see the persistence of my students the past two days. By no means is their work perfect, but students were using the resources I provided, attempted problems, and struggled through them without giving up! I’m also proud of myself for letting go because it’s really hard to see students struggle. 

This upcoming week, I hope to blog a day in my life…but I’ll do that when I am a bit more sane.

#PTHVP14: Parent Teacher Home Visit Conference (Part One)

Two days into the conference here are a few things that stuck out to me or the ones that I want to stick with me:

-There’s SO MUCH energy here!
-Just being around the teachers, administrators, parents, community organizers, and others has been really motivating and I am excited to get back and share this weekend with my colleagues and really make my home visits more meaningful.
-I am further convinced of the need of home visits to develop and maintain a positive connection between myself, my students, and their parents/guardians.
-I learned that my school has been doing some Social Emotional Learning practices (SEL) and I’m hoping to be more strategic in teaching my students specifically about SELF-AWARENESS because then they can actually move on to SELF-MANAGING.  (These are from the CASEL Core Competencies).  A really cool website that I got out of that session was a parent tool kit that gives parents an understanding of what their child is going through socially, emotionally, physically, etc. It breaks it down by grade. 

Thanks to Twitter #PTHVP14, I was able to get a glimpse into other sessions that I wasn’t able to visit and came across a great list of questions from a survey that I can use for a follow up or during the PTHV from the Harvard Family Research Project. The questions address the following:

Parental support— How much help are students getting at home?
Child behaviors—What habits have students developed that shape their success?
Parent engagement — How engaged are parents in their child’s schooling, and what potential barriers exist?
Parent self-efficacy—How confident are parents in supporting their child’s schooling?
School climate —How do parents view their school regarding academic and social standards?
Parent roles and responsibilities—How do parents view their roles as well as teachers’ roles in different aspects of their child’s schooling?
School program fit—How well do a school’s academic program, social climate, and organizational structure match a student’s needs?

The actual survey can be found here.

On discussing white organization speaking of racial justice, one of the panel speakers mentioned something that stuck with me,  She mentioned, (paraphrased)

One of the first tasks working with majority white organization involved with social justice is having them understand that they are white and what that essentially means so that we can move forward to have honest conversation.

It means amends, reparation, and not just apologize to make it right. 

While, I am not white this served as an important reminder for me as well:  it’s important for me to be self-aware of who I am and where I come from relative to my student so that I can then have an honest conversation with them and their families. My students deal with things which I cannot relate to therefore I can’t put on a front that I understand what they are going through, rather I need to understand where they are coming from, be empathetic and make an effort so that we can move the conversation and actions forward. 

Two month reflection, year two

I’ve been reflecting on year two with my math coach.  First,  I’m so glad I’m  no longer a first year teacher.   I had an amazing first year…. Or so I’m told.   Year two comes with its own challenges,  but I’m glad that I stuck with teaching the same grade again.   It’s helped me become a lot more reflective as I think back to what worked and what did not work last year.  

Currently my biggest challenge has been having a clear vision for my numeracy class.  So in addition to having regular math classes,  all of our students get an additional 3 periods of math fluency class.   Its been a struggle since our school is using accelerated math and it hasn’t been living up to our expectations.   I’m trying out doing stations,  but just having issues with technology, initial account set up,  room logistics in the computer lab has set me back with setting up clear norms,  routines,  and expectations for the class.   My goal for the next week is to have a clearer vision and flow for those classes.  

“I Feel So Accomplished!” – Problem Solving, Noah’s Ark

This would be great to do with my 6th graders

I Speak Math

“I feel so accomplished!” is what I overheard a student say after doing the Noah’s Ark problem solving activity in my class today.  I also heard, “You will REALLY like math class today!  It was so hard, but so much fun!”

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I gave them the Noah’s Ark problem (thanks Fawn)!  I followed Fawn’s suggestions for problem solving because she is the expert.

  1. Give them all their own copy of the problem.  (And a sheet of animals to cut out if they wanted it).  Noah’s Arc PS
  2. Let them read it silently
  3. Let one of them read it aloud while other students read along silently.
  4. Let them work silently for a few minutes.
  5. Let them work together.
  6. Discuss solutions.

While working silently, many students came up with a solution.  However, once they started working with others, they realized that their solutions may not be correct.  I loved how they…

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Post state exam

So I learned today that I hate proctoring more than grading…most boring two hours of my life. So lesson learned: never plan a station activity after students have been sitting around for 1.5 + hours. They will go crazy due to the allowing of movement.  Lessons after should be super LOW priority – totally NOT practicing graphing using table of values.

Edcamp in the Classroom

After reading about Justin Aion’s Edcamp experience in the classroom, I was prettying psyched to try it out in my own classroom. +1

I shared my idea with my coworker and she too was ready to try it out the following week. +2 for Edcamp.

I sent the link of Justin’s blog to my math team and my principal immediately responded with great enthusiasm. Danielson 3C (student engagement) +100 points for Edcamp.

Amongst many other conversations and student midterms the idea got put on the back burner. And then it resurfaced today.

One of my classes was going to work on their quiz corrections today. This class is usually co taught, but my coteacher was scheduled to grade the science midterms. So with one less adult in the room, the cries of Ms.K became too much to deal with, too fast. And so I remembered Edcamp.

I brought out the sliding whiteboard, wrote down a list numbered 1-16, and had teams come up and put their names next to any question they received a 3 or 4 in (which means they mastered that particular standard-SBG). Then I told students when you’re stuck on a problem, those are the students you need to turn to. If you’re one of those people on the list for a particular question and someone asks for help, you need to explain your thinking and strategy.



And so edcamp began and it was great!!

Glows:

  • Student-student interaction. FTW! 
  • My students were really engaged. I believe I had 95% of the students engaged and on task for about 90-95% of the time.
  • It made students accountable to one another. Whenever students asked me for help or if they were stuck, I just pointed to the board.
  • I was so proud to see some of my low ability students actually “teaching” and explaining concepts to my higher ability students.
  • Even though I had the data, I quickly saw which outcomes (standards) students have mastered and which ones I would need to address at some point during reteaching week.
  • It freed me up to check-in with those who really needed more guidance.
 
Grows:
  • It was really helpful for some students to have access to a whiteboard and markers. So I had them use the one on my easel and the one on the back shelf. Next time I might consider having the mini whiteboards as materials for them in the beginning.
  • There was one student who lost his quiz when I handed it back.  Luckily, my co teacher had prepared some work–so i had him work on it during the edcamp.  But I wonder how he can still be involved with the edcamp process.  what about a student who was absent the day before.  
  • False information: this time around we used quizzes that had already been graded–though it is still possible that even a student with a 3 on an outcome explains it incorrectly. What if students are working on tasks that have not been pre-checked.  It helps that I co-teach all of my classes, so one of us can check in with the groups.  
  • Off task students were a concern, but I did go over the expectations and said we’d return to our seats if the expectations of Edcamp were not being met…and of course I always add, and I know that will not be the case because you all have the ability to meet these expectation. 
  • Next time I do this, it will probably be with my co-teacher in the room, and I think that this is a great opportunity for one of us to take some low inference observation notes, especially on the strengths of students ability to explain their thought process.  
  • There were a few key questions that most of the students did not get a 3 in, so I need to cut off Edcamp at a point and address those particular questions. This time I didn’t since I do have reteaching week and thought I would address them then.  
I’m excited to try it again! 
 
 
 

The difference between Sahar and Ms. K

Before I became Ms. K, I was just Sahar.  Sahar, who woke up really late all the time, was late to everything, procrastinated like a pro and was always busy running around from place to place and was involved in everything on campus and life outside of college life, but somehow she got everything done. And she got it done well.  Not finishing something and leaving it undone was never an option.  

I’m slowly learning as Ms. K, that my to-do list will never end.  I can’t procrastinate like a pro anymore and that not everything will get done.  I am slowly coming to terms with that.  Ms.K is teaching Sahar about being able to prioritize and to enjoy things in life like sleep and free time.  

 

Ms. K and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Week

This week has been Terrible, Horrible, and No Good on so many levels. 

Final grades were due on Tuesday, so despite having a Monday off I spent all of Monday grading the things I haven’t gotten to and so my week started out with a lack of sleep.  I’ve had students act up and then had to have many one on one conversations with students and then follow up with parents regarding those behaviors.  My lessons were epic fails on the distributive property.  Even after spending three days on that, I feel like I don’t have a sense of what my students have actually learned so it feels like a wasted three days of teaching.  We have parent teacher conferences coming up next week and they are student led conferences, so preparing students has been another layer of stress.  Chancellor, mayor, and superintendent  are coming to our school next week for a ribbon cutting so preparing our school for that has been cray-cray as well.

What I will do to counteract “The Terrible, Horrible, No Good Feelings”:

So I have already vented my feelings to people that I trust and those that give me some great advice after I have vented to them. I have also reflected on the math lesson with my co-worker and math coach and I’ll be discussing some next steps with my co-worker tomorrow.  But here’s what I am doing/will do to counteract the general terrible, horrible, no good feelings I am having.

(1) Consider my highs of the week:

    • Student hugs are pretty awesome, especially when given to you randomly.
    • During a coverage for gym, I was able to see other sides of my students and I even sat down with a few and just spoke to them.
    • After school, I had to give something to a student. I walked into the gym and it just so happened it was the dance program and some of my students were dancing. It was nice to see them in a festive mood.
    • A few of my Muslim students have asked me to pull them out during lunch and their elective periods after school so they can pray. I feel happy to see that they feel comfortable with their beliefs and who they are at such a young age.
    • I had a positive conversation with one of my student about her behavior and we’ve set some goals for her for next week.
    • One of my students who I have been having such a difficult time with has finally turned it around. The boy who was once my main annoyance and disturbance in class is now the one that is the first to be prepared and silent when asked. He is also trying really hard in math class and asking for help.
    • I had dinner with a few friends in the middle of the week. On a work night. I socialized. Outside of work. With people I don’t work with (Granted they are all teachers, but still).

(2) Netflix and TV binge

(3) Take some pictures

(4) Go through my albums and pick a few of my photographs to get them printed

New Teacher Reflections: Two Months In

It has been approximately two months in to the first school year of my life as a teacher. However, it feels like it has been more like 2 years.  Every time I meet someone who asks me how things are going, I tell them I‘m tired as hell, I should probably be getting a lot more sleep, I’m totally married to my job, but I love it! I’ve learned a great deal in these two months:

  • It’s all about them kids! No matter what I do, ultimately the question is what will be best for my students? 
  • Considering the first point, I am slowly learning to prioritize my huge to do list.  There will always be a lot to do, but whatever is for the well being of my students either academic or otherwise there will most likely be on top of the list. I have to pick and chose my battles. There are certain things worth taking stress over, while there ares somethings that will just have to be put on the burner for later.
  • Effective co-teaching requires a whole other layer of planning. Especially when you work with three different people. So I currently suck at it and it’s become a goal for the year to improve day by day.
  • I won’t remember later. It worked for me for 20 odd years of my life, but no more! I need to write things down.
  • Sleep is vital. I love it. I wish I had more of it. Sometimes I just have to STOP working and just sleep. Sleep is so awesome! I learned it the hard way:

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  • Bulletin boards are annoying, but I should have some work prepared to put up at any time.
  • Questions are an essential part of planning.  Coming up with one really concise and rich question can be enough for the class to explore for the entire period.
  • Middle school students are on a roller coaster. They are constantly on highs and lows. I’m slowly learning how to identify when they are on a high or low.
  • Students really love to help-middle schoolers anyways. I promise to take advantage of that.
  • It’s important to think about the highs and lows from the week and reflect on them. It’s easy to get the good moments lost in the “a lot-ness” of things that have to be done, the horrible lessons, misbehaviors of students, etc. 

Above all else, I feel extremely blessed to be working where I am for my first year. I feel extremely supported by my administration as well as working with a really great math team. I definitely felt nervous walking in the first day, but I feel that I can take risks, try new things, and make mistakes (which I have made a ton of already).  I love the conversations I have with my math coach and co-teacher and appreciate the thought we put into our lessons. I have a great new teacher mentor at my school who listens to my venting and frustrations.  

Looking forward to what comes next (though it would be nice if the papers to be graded would disappear).