My BreakoutEDU boxes


Image from

So I have done BreakoutEDU boxes a couple times.  At edcamps, as well as during a half-day PD where a colleague brought in her set.  I love them.  If you have no idea about BreakoutEDU boxes, check out this video to get you started.

Anyhow, I love the boxes as I said, but I could not figure out how to justify paying $125 per box.  Sorry BreakoutEDU people, that’s a toughy for me.  Apparently they used to have an open source list to build your own, but it has since gone away (see link at the end).  So, in true Jennifer Lagarde style (who unbeknownst to me literally just wrote a blog post about this exact thing!) and  #MacGyverLibrarianship, I searched online, sourced different blogs, and made my own.

My BreakoutEDU Box.png

So, I should mention some things.  First, I love Menards.  Obviously.  Second, I bought several things on sale or for different prices that what I have found as of today.  That will definitely change prices if you choose to go a similar way to me.  Third, my goal was to create 5 boxes.  I have almost 4 sets (reason is because of that one darn 4 digit lock that has failed.)  I have a few things I need to add to make the 5th set, which may or may not cost a bit more overall.  But, I think I did well in doing a little bit of #MacGyverLibrarianship! I’m really looking forward to using these with my students, as soon as I get them to school.

What have your experiences with these boxes been like?  How about when students open them?  Did you add a treat or something other than just the sign?  I’d love to hear what you did!

Other blogs sourced (link goes directly to the post):

Mirror Into Teaching

Hey Mr. Stern


Plickers – My Obsession

plickersHello, my name is Jamie, and I’m addicted to Plickers.  I can’t help it.  They’re so easy to use, and great for a non-BYOD school!

I was first introduced to them in my library classes.  We used them for various quick assessments to find what we knew and so forth.

Since then, I’ve introduced them to my students.  Many of them like when I pass them out, because they get to “win” when they get an answer right.  Even though I never have them assigned to specific students, I tend to watch which numbers I give to certain students to see whether they are struggling to answer or not.  We all have those students we know either gets it or doesn’t, and gives us a pulse for the whole class.

I have used them for a variety of general assessments, such as seeing how well my students understand and can conceptualize the Dewey Decimal System, library terms, and now for media literacy.  To say I love using them is really an understatement.

Website Validity/Evaluation

So, this week I am teaching my 5th and 6th graders about website validity this week.  I am extremely thankful for the resources from , especially the collection of fake websites.  It is really beneficial to not have to reinvent the wheel in a lot of cases.  What makes me really happy is that I found the website evaluation tool I made for one of my library classes.  I think I did a decent job, if I might say so myself, and really like how it looks overall.  I am hoping my students will find it useful as well as they evaluate different sites.

If someone is interested, I would qualify this under the CC BY-ND for creative commons.  You can use and share, but please don’t change, and please credit me.

File: Becker_Web_Evaluation

Library Wordle


In class today we were discussing  So, I decided that I would create a wordle myself that included library words!  Fair warning, though if you use this; the site is a bit tempermental when it comes to Chrome.  I had to use Internet Explorer….



Here are the words I added in to create this (Note: the ~ keeps multiple words together!)

Library Library Library Teacher Teacher Teacher Information~Literacy Information~Specialist Instructional~Partner Program~Administrator Collaboration Web~2.0 Professional~Development Books Books Books Reference Reference Collection~Analysis Information~Access Information Information Technology Technology Advocate Manager Programs Workshops Professional~Development Integration Resources Instruction Catalog Assessment Book~Fair Book~Club Partner Displays Books Magazines References Computers Reading~Program Reading Partner Online Online~Database Online~Resources Welcoming~Environment Access Author~Visits Student~Suggestions Teacher~Suggestions Technology Instruction Students Students Student~needs Twitter Web~2.0 Photos Videos Webpages Coding Google Education K-12 Library Library~Media~Center Library~Media~Center Technology Collaboration Piktochart Powtoon Screencast Animoto Glogster Creative~Commons Creative~Commons MLA~Citation Fair~Use Intellectual~Property Catalog Reading Reading Reading Creating Creating Partner Vimeo Prezi Google~Docs Jing Skype Screenr Symbaloo Voki Wiki Research Reference Copyright Research Creating Banned~Book Media~Center E-Books Students Displays Bulletin~Boards Biographies Fiction Non-Fiction E-Mail Print Information~Power Information AASL Library~Program Professional School~Goals Authors Heart~of~the~School Leaders Digital~Age Advocate Community Learning Inquiry Inquiry Big~6 Information~Literacy Software Resource~Sharing Access Webpage Flickr QR~Codes Google~Earth PLN Bibliography Articles Journals EBSCO Discussions Annotations Research~Papers

The iPad and the Classroom

As I was working on an application last night, I recalled that I made a list of apps for a teacher who had just gotten an iPad.

Let me back up a second, and explain how this list came to be.  In 2011, I was attempting (still) to get back into the classroom, but I realized it had been a couple of years since I had practical experience.  So, through my university, I became a tutor for elementary students.  I was assigned a second grade classroom at one of the local middle schools.  The teacher assigned me to work with students on their mathematics skills, specifically multiplication.  I originally used cards with the students and “created” problems for them to solve.  But, the students were not engaged, and they found it really boring.

So, I looked for apps that I could use with the students with my iPad.  (I of course got the teacher’s permission before I brought it.  She absolutely loved the idea!)  To me, that is when I really saw the beauty of tech in the classroom.  The students just loved the iPad, they loved they got to play games, and they were always trying to beat their previous scores (which was conveniently saved.)  I could also then give feedback to the teacher, including where students were struggling, or if they were making progress.  I really found it to be a great tool.

So, back to my list.  About six months after the school year ended, I received an email from the teacher, saying she wrote a grant for an iPad for her class, basically because I showed her how great it could be for her students, and she wanted to know what suggestions I had for apps.  Well, needless to say, I was so very excited for her, because I knew it was my initiative that sparked the interest in her to write the grant that got her the iPad.

Here is the list of apps that I suggested to get her started.  This list is a bit dated, though I have gone through and edited out incorrect information or apps that are no longer available, but otherwise, this was the original list I gave her.  I know I will likely be working on a new and improved list of suggested apps for teachers with iPads.  What would you add on today?


Original iPad Apps Suggestions from Dec. 2012

  • – 1000 iPad apps for education! A lot of what I have listed came from this site
  • McGraw-Hill has a lot of apps in the app store, so I won’t list them all here
  • Brittanica Kids appears to have a lot of younger-centered apps, again, won’t list them all


  • Story Buddy 2, $6.99 – Content creation, story telling w/words, pictures, and media
  • Book Creator – $4.99 – Easy to use, intuitive, great reviews overall


  • Math Bingo, $0.99 – Can’t beat the price, has up to 30 player profiles – great for classrooms!
  • FlowPlus: Add, Subtract, Currently FREE!
  • MultiFlow: Times Tables Reimagined – Practice Multiplication, Currently FREE!
  • DivisionFlow – Division, Re-envisioned,  Currently FREE!
  • Mad Math 2, $1.99 – I used the free version with your students.  They loved it!
  • Reading the Ruler, Free – simple app for understanding standard and metric measurements
  • iTellTime, $0.99 – great for learning to read a clock!
  • Everyday Math – Equivalent Fractions, $1.99 – It’s from McGraw-Hill
  • Jungle Fractions, $2.99 – nice looking, seems engaging


  • NASA, Free – Great for planetary information, satellites that are actually out in space, videos, and much more
  • Science360, Free – By the National Science Foundation, beautiful imagery, lots of great information, but not intuitive in regards to what you may be searching for
  • Brittanica Kids: Dinosaurs, $4.99 – By Encyclopedia Brittanica, geared for  ages 8-12


  • Presidents by the Number. $0.99 – Looks interesting, seems to have a number of facts, updated for the 2012 election
  • LineTime – Presidents Edition, $0.99 – visual, basic information
  • States and Capitals, $0.99 – great reviews, appears simple and fun


  • SketchBook Express, Free – I’ve personally used this, great for sketching


  • Dropbox, Free – Essential for storage, in my opinion
  • iCardSort , $5.99 – visual organizer, manage multiple decks
  • Edmodo, Free – I’ve heard nothing but good about this, can be used on iPad or on website
  • To PDF, Free – converts documents, photos, etc to PDF’s
  • Dragon Dictation, Free – Voice recognition, turning spoken words into written form, good for struggling students
  • iWorks – Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, $9.99 EACH – this is Apple’s versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.  They are great tools, Pages documents can be easily exported to Word, and can import Word docs in, and so forth.  And it’s made by Apple.  So, their product should work somewhat well, one would think!