Differentiation Using Keynote

One of my Kindergarten teachers, Vicky Rauchle, used Keynote to help differentiate writing instruction in her classroom.  The idea is very simple and it won’t take long for you to replicate this idea for your students.  Vicky found a variety of images online and created 3 different Keynote templates consisting of a “title” slide and 10 slides for writing.

Here is how her templates were broken down:

  • Each slide contains one picture and a text box that is used by the students to fill in with their text.
  • Depending on student ability the students will have to……
    • Write 1-2 sentences with no additional prompts from the teacher or template.
    • Write 1-2 sentences with additional prompts from the teacher and template.  The picture may be labeled to help get the students started.
    • Fill in the blanks that are found on the template.  The sentence that is started directly relates to the picture that is on the slide.
  • Each template has 11 slides.  Day one’s goal was to finish the title slide and 5 of the slides that required writing.

Thank you Vicky for sharing this great lesson idea!

Below are screenshots of the title slides and one of the “writing” slides.  The templates can also be downloaded by using the link below.

Click here to download the Keynote templates.



This lesson was done in Cheryl Ives’s 4th grade class at Glen Allen Elementary.  The lesson has been submitted to Henrico 21 for the 2011-2012 school year.  In my opinion, this project is a great example on how to integrate multiple subjects and technology into a lesson.

Summary from Cheryl Ives’s Henrico 21 Lesson Plan:

After completing our studies of Jamestown (VS3a-g), the students were challenged with creating video segments that would cover the topics that were studied in our unit.  The segments covered topics that included John Smith, Christopher Newport’s fleet, and Tobacco.  The students created scripts, that were written in first-person, based on the study materials provided to them and facts that they have discovered while doing their own research.  The students had to find and create props and costumes that will help the audience recognize the topic they were speaking about.  The filming and editing of the final video product was organized and completed by the students in the classroom.  This project allowed the kids be creative and show their personalities in their work while expanding their knowledge of Jamestown.

Click here to download the full lesson plan and the scoring rubric.

Final Video Product:



Are you having fun?

This past week I have taken a couple of photos that have become a couple of my all-time favorites.  They aren’t amazing shots that will be found on the cover of National Geographic or Time magazine.  These photos remind me of what school and education, as a whole, are supposed to represent.  Pride in your work, trying new things, and having a good time with what you are doing.  I got into education because I love to learn, but hated school.  It was, and still is, a goal of mine to try to make school a place that is enjoyable to go to and something to look forward to each day.  I hope that the students that I had in my classroom still enjoy learning.  Now that I have left the classroom and work with entire schools, my focus has been trying to help teachers learn and improve their practice.

So a brief explanation of the pictures I took this past week.

Natalie Clavon (R) and Rhyan Johnson (L) of Harvie Elementary provided a little spontaneous fun at the end of a long day.  Rhyan is part of the group of teachers participating in Reflective Friends this year.     These two always have a smile on their faces and help make my days at Harvie an enjoyable experience.

Apparently Chief Powhatan was a Steve Jobs fan as well.  This photo was taken today in Cheryl Ives’s classroom at Glen Allen Elementary.  Like Rhyan, Cheryl is part of the Reflective Friends process.  Her students researched a person or topic from the Jamestown era and came up with a script that would help explain the time period to the video’s viewers.  I walked into the classroom and immediately had a smile on my face when I saw the boys at the computer.  This project was not only fun, but meaningful to the students.

Thanks to each of you who love to make education fun for me and especially for your students!


Here is the final video product.



Reflective Friends- Fall Observations

The Reflective Friends (RF) process is nearly complete for my 4 schools for the Fall of 2011.  Glen Allen was selected as one of the pilot schools in the Spring of 2011.  Because of this, they are not officially involved in the RF process this year.  However, they will be doing a round of unofficial observations in November.  The teachers that have participated this year have done a great job.  This is a new process for elementary and it can seem overwhelming at the start.  After Carver, Longdale, and Harvie have been observed I believe that my teachers see the process for what it is, a positive experience that is only in place to help teachers.

Here is what has happened so far this year:

  • 6 teachers from each school were selected to participate, each grade level was represented.
  • Since this was baseline data that was collected, lessons were planned around programs that they were comfortable with using with their students at this point in the year.
  • Using the answers to the previous questions a lesson plan was developed.
  • We made appointments to work with the kids to review the skills that will be needed to make the chosen applications work.
  • An observation team made of up of 2 people visited each room for approximately 40-45 minutes.  The observation teams were made up of an ITRT (Elementary, Middle, or High) and an administrator from another school or Central Office.
  • The observers used the TIP-Chart to evaluate the lessons and provided constructive feedback for the teachers that will help them grow on the TIP-Chart.
  • Two interview panels were setup.  Groups of students and teachers were interviewed to collect additional information about 21st Century Skills.
  • At the end of the school day, the observation team leaders met with the school’s admin team and shared the data and information collected during the observations and interviews.

Just because the Fall observations are complete doesn’t mean that the RF process is complete.  The 6 teachers at each school are going to work with me throughout the year.  We are going to look at the feedback that they received and plan lessons that will help them progress on the TIP-Chart.

The most important idea for you to understand about the RF process is that this is not pass or fail.  RF is meant to be part of a professional development experience.

I am very happy to work with so many great teachers that had an awesome attitude towards this new process.  I am very excited to see the teachers and students grow this year.  RF is not going anywhere, there will be 6 new teachers selected next year.  More updates and news about RF will be shared here later this year.

Applications and tools used during the observations:





Google Earth






Reflective Friends

The Reflective Friends (RF) process has made it to Henrico County’s elementary schools!  Before you say anything or before your eyes roll back into your head, Reflective Friends is what we have been wanting for a long time.  I am very excited about RF being in the elementary schools this year.  The process gives teachers an opportunity to receive positive feedback from observers that are not from their buildings.  The observers are looking for the characteristics of a 21st Century Lesson.  The students and teachers will be scored on the TIP-Chart that we have become familiar with.  This is the same chart that is used to score Henrico 21 projects.

Here is the process broken down:

  • 1 teacher from each grade level will be chosen to participate.  This gives a good overall snapshot of an elementary school.
  • Each teacher plans their lesson using the TIP-Chart.  The teachers are encouraged to collaborate with their ITRT with the planning of the lesson.
  • Observations last around 30-40 minutes.  The observers are other ITRTs from the county as well as principals and other HCPS administrators (including Central Office).
  • Other teachers (not officially observed) and students will be interviewed by the panel.
  • The data and comments from each of the 6 observations and the interviews are compiled into one report and shared with the admin team at that school.

I am hoping to repeat this process in the spring in order to show authentic student and teacher growth during the 2011-2012 school year.

Here are the teachers that will be participating this year: