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5 Tips for Getting More from Your Hue Document Camera

Disclaimer: Hue sent me this document camera to review.  But, I do what I want, so if it was terrible I would have said no way and sent it back.  Read on to find out why I loved it enough to write a review.

Hue recently sent me this DARLING red Hue HD Pro document camera.  {I know darling is not a qualifier for a great document camera, but it sure doesn't hurt.}  We all know that document cameras are great for helping students follow along on worksheets and assignments--raise your hand if you've ever had a student go through a entire lesson while on the wrong page--but don't stop there with your document camera.

5 ways to get more out of your classroom document camera.  Go beyond the worksheet with these easy tips.

1.  Writing Feedback

Sharing kids writing this way only works after you've built a classroom writing community.  Once you reach that point, your kids understand that revising and feedback are important elements of their writerly lives.  You may only get a few top brave souls at first, but eventually more and more kids will jump in when they see this isn't a what you did wrong exercise but instead a how to grow opportunity.
I have asked kids permission before and promised not to use names.  I'll say something like,
"I'd love to share this with the class.  Look how you're working on xyz here.  I know a lot of your classmates are working on the same thing.  This would be a perfect example to work through together."

2.  Capturing Notes and Lesson Details for Absent Students

Oh, those pesky absent students.  Hue allows you to capture the work as an image or a video to pass on to students that are out sick or pulled from class (does your classroom ever feel like it has a revolving door?)

3.  Take a Closer Look at Illustrations

My former teaching partner once read The One and Only Ivan to our classes next to her document camera, so she could share the illustrations with them.  Share illustrations or make any book a big book with your document camera.  You could also use it to zoom in on text features like graphs, maps, and photos in textbooks.

4.  Interactive Notebooks

Ever hold up your little composition notebook in front of the class to show them what to do?  Yeah.  You're wasting your time.  Stick that notebook under the document camera to help your students actually see what they're supposed to do.  It won't make them stop opening to random pages in their notebooks (Why???????), but it will help that random page have the correct information on it.  Absent student?  See #2.  Print out your example to help absent students catch up easily.

5.  Save Some Trees

Maybe everyone doesn't need a copy of that worksheet.  Maybe just stick it under the document camera and have them talk discuss it in groups or write or white boards or review it with the class and move on.

While you can do these things with any document camera, what I love most about the Hue HD Pro Camera (besides the fact that it's so darn cute) is how reasonably priced it is for such a high quality image.  Hue's Intuition software makes it easy to "write" on a document, video what you're doing, or capture an image.

Here are a few screen captures from mine:

Zoom in on Illustrations: So much going on in those Jan Brett illustrations!
5 ways to get more out of your classroom document camera.  Go beyond the worksheet with these easy tips.

Nonfiction Text Features: Stop trying to hold up the book to show them charts and graphs.  Take a closer look together with a document camera.
5 ways to get more out of your classroom document camera.  Go beyond the worksheet with these easy tips.

Dive Into Revising with Kids' Work: Make revising instruction more authentic by using your students' work.  Once you create a classroom community where revising is a part of the writing culture, it's not too hard to get volunteers to share their work.
5 ways to get more out of your classroom document camera.  Go beyond the worksheet with these easy tips.

Sharing Notes: Review with students' notes or use your document camera to capture a copy of notes for absent students.
5 ways to get more out of your classroom document camera.  Go beyond the worksheet with these easy tips.

If you're ordering 1 or 2 cameras, I recommend ordering from Amazon Prime.  They'll cost the same as ordering from Hue's site, but if you're a Prime member, you can't beat two day shipping.  For orders of 3 or more, you'll definitely save by buying from Hue's site.  Want to know more?  Get the techy details on the Hue HD Pro here.   Too steep for your blood?  Hue also offers a less expensive version.  You can compare the two with this comparison chart.

Got any other great tips for using a document camera?

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February Desktop Calendar

Happy February! Are you a Valentine's fan?  Yay or Nay?  I love Valentine's Day.  More the idea of it than the reality of it-a school full of kids whacked out on candy and cranky teachers from the wild kids?  Not super fun, but I love the idea of a day about love.

 February 2017 Desktop Calendar Free Download • I Teach. What's Your Superpower?

For the February desktop I wanted something Valentine-ish but that I would still love when February 15th arrived.  These graphics from Corner Croft were perfect! Pink and red and just Valentine-y enough.

February 2017 Desktop Calendar Free Download • I Teach. What's Your Superpower?

This month you have options.  Click on the image or here to download the image with the quote.  I was a little worried the quote would be too much on smaller screens, so you can download it here without the quote.

Hope you have a wonderful month!

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January Favorites

This post contains affiliate links which means Amazon tosses me some change whenever someone makes a purchase through one of these links and allows me feed my late night random Priming habit! 

Hey hey! I'm usually not a January fan because I hate cold weather, but this month has been super mild even Houston.
It's time for January favorites! Read about a major get focused time saver, a slightly ridiculous coffee accessory, and more.
Time to wrap up January with a run down of my favorites from this month.

The Forest app is forcing me (against my will, apparently) to be more productive.  I was SHOCKED the first time I used it by how distracted I am by social media.

Forest App is an amazing time management tool.  Quit wasting time on social media and get to work!

I knew I was distracted, but this made it clear had bad I was.  I like that you can set the timer for different amounts of time.  You can get back into your phone, but you have to kill a tree to do it.  At $1.99, this one is totally worth it.

Most embarrassing purchase of the month award goes to my new frother.  I love this thing a little too much.  I justified this purchase as a way to cut back on my Starbucks spending.  Having a Starbucks two minutes from my school + the ease of mobile ordering has resulted in my Starbucks spending getting waaaaay out of control.  This makes my plain old coffee maker coffee feel much fancier and I'm happy to report HAS resulted in reducing my Starbucks spending.
Nespresso coffee frother takes your coffee up a notch (or ten)

p.s.  Anybody else come up with reasons to buy stuff because "you're actually saving money"?

The Man in the High Castle had my eyes glued to the screen.  Which was not a good thing because I usually only watch shows on my iPad while I'm working.  This majorly interfered with my productivity, but it was completely worth it!
It's an Amazon Original series with two seasons.  The premise for the show is super interesting.  I love how they worked it into the storyline over time instead of hitting you over the head with it.

I wasn't able to resist the siren song of Loft's 50% off sale.  Since we're having such a warm winter, I've gotten tired of my fake fall/winter clothes.  I'm pretty sure I've been wearing the same five outfits to school every week.  I grabbed several tops, but this one is by far my favorite.  The shirt's material is a little thicker than the usual t-shirt material which gives it some extra smoothing power.  Much appreciated Loft.

I gave A Bird in Hand Designs a top to bottom makeover this month, and I'm super in love with it.  It had become a hodge podge of pages and links and information.  Over time I just kept adding things on here and there, and it had become a majorly disorganized mess.  I wanted to overhaul the site and decided to go with fresh new colors, fonts, and even a new theme.  I'm about 95% of the way done, but happy to call it good and fiddle around with the last parts.
A Bird in Hand Designs • Blogger and Wordpress Designs
I couldn't be more delighted with the finished product!

Hope you a wonderful January! I'm looking forward to February and a new month of favorites!

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Who's Doing the Work? Readers as Thinkers in a Balanced Literacy Classroom

This post contains affiliate links which means Amazon tosses me some change whenever someone makes a purchase through one of these links and allows me feed my book habit! 

This year I made a goal to read one professional book a month.  That's a tall order, but I really want to rededicate myself to growing professionally all year and not just in the summertime.

Who's Doing the Work? was a great book to start with.  At only 144 pages, it meant I was only committing to 36 pages a week.  Totally doable, and it was well worth the effort.

Help your readers learn to be thinkers in a balanced literacy framework with Who's Doing the Work?

So, who is doing the work?  Spoiler alert: you are.  The subtitle of the book is how to say less so readers can do more.  I love the analogy one of the authors shares at the beginning of the book.  She was traveling more, and her house was looking like it.  She taught her boys how to do more household chores-laundry, running the dishwasher, etc.

When she arrived home from a trip (surprise!), none of it was done.  She realized she had taught them HOW to do the chores but had not taught them how to recognize WHEN to do them.  We're doing the same with our readers.  Ouch.  This is one of those books that you see yourself in at every turn.

Here's the run down:


The title really grabbed my attention.  I feel like I have poured my heart into struggling readers but there is not always a correlation between the amount of work I'm doing and the success of the students.  This seemed like it would answer that constant worry of 'if I could just do more'.

Aha Moment

"Beware of mini lessons that become maxi lessons. . ."

This is me.  I talk way too much.  I just want to tell them all that they might need to know.  However, the reality is that spending more time talking does not equal more success.  Kids need time to practice.  It might not look as good as when I'm guiding them the whole way.  But if they walk off and fall flat on their faces, it's not really helping.  Scary part?  The lower the reader the more time we spend teaching and compounding the problem.  Gulp.

I Wish

I wish (totally unrealistically) that this was a snap your fingers book.  You know, do this/say this/use this anchor chart, and your kids will be fine.  It's a shift in thinking and those are usually a little messy.  It definitely brought a huge awareness to me and is a great resource for guiding you through a new way of thinking about supporting our readers.


This book has a secret strength.  I wasn't expecting this book to be an awesome resource for explaining the four components of balanced literacy.  While this is about how to teach your kids to think themselves, it was done through the lens of each component of balanced reading.  The authors did a great job quickly but thoroughly explaining the benefits of each component of balanced literacy and what it looks like at different grade levels.

Good For . . .

Anyone who feels like they are plateauing with their struggling readers.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone wanting a clearer understanding of balanced literacy (especially for upper elementary which usually doesn't get near as much attention).  Shared reading for older kids?  Yep.  They nailed it.  If you need to defend any of your balanced literacy practices, this book will provide you with the ammo.

Wise Words

I hope you'll add Who's Doing the Work to your to be read list.  It helped me reflect on my interactions with students and what I was doing to create learned helplessness without ever meaning to.  This would make a great selection for a professional book club to address how we guide our students and also as a thoughtful overview of what balanced literacy looks like and how valuable each component is.

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January Desktop Calendar

Happy 2017 to you!  I love the feeling of a fresh new year.  I'm going to be more organized, exercise regularly, eat better, and all the other promises we make ourselves each year.  It still feels possible in January.
January 2017 Desktop Calendar Free Download from I Teach. What's Your Superpower?

How cute is this polar bear guy?  These whimsical graphics are from Natdzho.  You can click here to download the calendar, or click on the image below.

January 2017 Desktop Calendar Free Download from I Teach. What's Your Superpower?

Have a wonderful January!

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December Favorites

Hey there! December has zoomed by.  I'm enjoying my post Christmas laze around the house time before it's time to head back to school.  Before it's time to say hello to January and a new year, here are a few favorites from this month.
Personalized wall art, a new coffee cup, a freebie, and more.  Catch up on my favorites from the past month!

This post contains affiliate links which means Amazon tosses me some change whenever someone makes a purchase through one of these links.  Please know I only share items that I use and love.  I hope you'll find a new favorite this month! 

Is it still a "new" house if you've been in it for nine months?  I'm still not done making it my own, but I finally got around to addressing one of the big empty walls in our living room.

I didn't want to do anything too busy because we've got a lot going on with the fireplace wall, but it was just . . . blah.  And it needed to be BIG.  I found some inspiration one day while window shopping in a furniture store when I saw some simple but beautiful framed quotes.

I wanted something more personal and just the right size, so I made my own.  Each person in our family chose a quote.  I made a jpeg of it in Photoshop and ordered them from Canvas Print Factory.  They run sales pretty frequently.  The best part is you can choose your canvas size.  Each of our canvases is 20x48 inches.

My husband and I gave each other a trip for Christmas.  It was a fast trip, but so nice to be alone for a few days.  I grabbed this Las Vegas mug from the Starbucks You Are Here Series.  I love sipping my coffee from these mugs and remembering the trips I've been on.

I got a stripper.  That sounds bad, but it's a dog fur stripper.  We've had a few dog fur things, but this beats them all hands down.  After reading about different tools, I ordered this one from Amazon.
Murray's fur was looking pretty straggly, so I read up on grooming Wire Haired Dachshunds.  Since his fur doesn't grow long, I figured we were good with brushing every once in awhile.  Wrong!  Turns out he needs to be stripped.  Bonus? Our big dog LOVES it.  I can barely get his finished because she's trying to put herself between us the whole time.

He refused to cooperate with a picture to show you how handsome he is.  However, I have a really gross fur pile picture from the first time we used it, but I decided to not post it.  Didn't want to freak out the non-pet people.  You're welcome.

Since our trip was a leisurely one (read: sans kids and no bathroom sharing except for one low maintenance husband), I had time to use the vanity table in our hotel room to get ready at night.  I LOVED having an area to sit down to get ready.  After 20+ years of leaning over the counter, I was ready to move on to something more grown up.

Because I'm crazy once I get an idea in my head, I came home from Las Vegas and started rearranging my closet.  That night.  After an Ikea/Target/Bed Bath and Beyond run the next day, I was in business!  I used the Micke desk from Ikea for the table.  It was a steal at $50.  The mirror was more expensive, but I'm knocking on 40's door, so I need to see what's going on there.  I think this is the same one but the switch is a little different.

And finally, this break has given me a chance to relax big time.  I've slept in, read four books with plans for more, spent time with my family, gone to the movies, and just done anything that will relax the mind and heart.  Getting off warp speed for a little while has helped me realize how completely stressed I usually am.  Part of that is just a busy life, but a good chunk of it is my own doing.  I saw this message while scrolling through Pinterest, and it really spoke to me.

I'm hoping to be more mindful of this once we head back into the craziness of school and real life.  I'm busy enough without adding more to my plate that I can't control.

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Making the Most of Your Minutes

Instructional minutes are more precious than gold to a teacher.   We might have hours in the day, but that time is quickly siphoned off by lunch, recess, PE, unpacking, packing up, etc.

How do you make the most of those minutes?  For most of my teacher years, I got my schedule and started slotting times in.  I needed 45 minutes for this, 35 minutes for that, 20 minutes for the next thing.  Because no one teaches in an ideal world, I always ran out of minutes before I squeezed everything in.

Instructional minutes are like gold! Make the most of your instructional minutes when planning your class schedule.

One year, after my minutes got cut, I had slotted everything in and somehow only had 5 minutes for independent reading by the time everything else was on paper.  Not cool.  Independent reading is hands down one of the most important instructional times for students.  (I wrote about that here if you want to read more.)  There was no way I was cutting independent reading.

Everything else seemed so set in stone though.  There was no way I could teach lesson X in less than 15 minutes, you know how that goes.  It was time to question everything.

Step 1

Started by adding up your minutes.  {Not the minutes your school says you have.  Those are completely inaccurate.  There is no way you can teach writing until 11:30, get lunch cards/lunch boxes, wash hands, and magically be in the cafeteria by 11:30. }  I added up my REAL minutes.  Take off pack up times, transition times, and get to your real minutes.  FYI-That small number is enough to make you want to cry.

Step 2

Subtract your nonnegotiables-for me it was 15 minutes of independent reading.  Now put minutes out of you mind and moved to percentages.  What percentage of the day should be independent reading? Guided Reading? Whole class mini lessons?  Conventions? Word Work?  Your first try will probably get you to 140%, but keep going until you've only assigned 100%.

Step 3

Once you get your percentages worked down, it's time to start assigning minutes.  When I taught just language arts, I had 125 minutes.  So, if I decided my writers workshop should be 35% of my minutes, that means I've got 38.5 minutes.  You may find that you're spending more time on something than you feel it brings value to your class, but in other areas you're not spending enough time.  Here's a peek at mine:
Instructional minutes are like gold! Make the most of your instructional minutes when planning your class schedule.
These minutes are not ideal.  You might have to start making changes with what you're teaching.  I found that once I worked out my percentages-->minutes I was spending waaaay too long on conventions.  While I really liked what I was doing, it wasn't worth short changing other areas.  (You can read about the big switch I made here.)

There's a story in the Not This But That Independent Reading book (affiliate link) about questioning the benches you're guarding.  The gist of it is, a bench had been guarded by soldiers for 30 years, but no one knew why they were doing it.  Once they started researching it, the order had been written because the bench had been painted and was wet.  Not one ever told them to stop doing it, so 30 years later it was still being guarded.

What benches are you guarding?  What are you hanging onto that is bringing as much instructional value as the time it is taking?  How can you get creative?

•Do you maybe want to spend longer on conventions or word study?  Maybe alternate days or weeks.

•Make a Monday-Thursday schedule.  Make Fridays look different with a longer lesson for some of those things you feel like you're cutting short.

•Structure your reading/writing units so one gets more time than the other, and then flip flop.

It's not ideal, but when you take an honest look at your minutes, it will take you closer to a reality that works.

This is a great exercise for any teacher at the beginning of the year and midyear when it may be time to make some tweaks.  There have also been years when I realized on a random Tuesday that life was just not working, and I needed to make some changes.

Wherever you are in your school year, I hope you'll take some time to do this.

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