Chico Is Missing! BreakoutEDU

Chico is Missing! Breakout developed from the book, Monkey with a Tool Belt, by Chris Monroe.  The story naturally lends itself to the educational problem solving activity.  Chico is the main character of the book and is trapped by an organ grinder.  He uses his tool-belt to breakout of the box and find his way back home. The breakout activity focuses on Chico getting trapped in a toolbox in the MakerStudio but without his tool-belt. He has made a mess with the tools and slipped causing him to fall into the tool box.  The intro sets the stage for the scenario. Granted, the music is a little much but we discussed how music creates different setting and elicits emotions. Mystery was the goal? (See the intro video)

Classes had approximately 25 minutes to break Chico out of the box. For our first time and being the beginning of the year, I would say we were successful. The students worked through several activities.

Step 1.

Students watched the intro video. The video ends with a QR code that is scanned and takes the students to the first problem to solve.

Step 2.

A jigsaw puzzle was created using an image from the book.  Students solved the puzzle to find the color code clue. This clue was then used in the breakout EDU “Locks App” and linked to the first clue to find in the room.

Step 3.

Students were to find (we need the clue picture) the room number (131) represented by dots. The first set of keys were place under the giant dice that represented 1: 3 :1.  Under the dice the students found the first set of keys and a clue to the key lock box.  Students had to remember what Chico slipped on (tools) and find the word in the MakerStudio.

Step 4. A book titled, TOOLS, was sitting next to the box with the key lock.  Inside the box students found their next clue.  Several cards were in the box along with flashlights. Students used the flashlight (tool) to scan the cards for an invisible word to be revealed. The word to breakout Chico was tools.

Step 5. Students went to the toolbox with the word lock on it and entered the word tools. Chico was OUT!






scanning VillaniKiddChico






Involving students in literature and engaged activities makes the learning purposeful and meaningful. The relevance of the tools as an intro to the MakerStudio will continue throughout the school year. We use tools for everything. The literature connection has been instrumental in problem solving, critical thinking, and mathematical reasoning as well as a new school-wide positive reinforcement discipline model (more in a future post).


Mini Maker Workshop

Maker CampCome join us for an AWESOME day of Professional Development at Samford University on February 7th from 8am – 3pm.  Event information can be found  at

Attendees will participate and collaborate in hands-on activities as they construct, MAKE, and build using some of the following below:

1.  Green Screens – Create movies using apps to produce movies that can take place anywhere in the world.

2.  Robotics – Learn about Sphero, Ollie, NXT, WeDo, and Meet Einstein.

3.  Legos/Boxes/Tinker Toys – Activities that will engage students all day with building and engineering.

4.  Little Bits – Create and build projects with electrical/magnetic pieces.

5.  All About Coding – Get the most current websites and apps for coding.

6.  Google Apps and Extensions

7.  MAKE and TECH – learn about Touchboards, MakeyMakey, Conductive Ink etc…

8.  Music

Space is limited due to materials needed for all to MAKE and CREATE.  All activities are hands-on, limited to 50 attendees.

My Top Picks for Flipping a Classroom, Presentations, and Multi-Media Quizzes

Zaption –  Turn online videos into interactive learning experiences that engage students and deepen understanding.

Canva – Great templates for blogs, Facebook, ppts, and fonts.  Easily create stunning presentations.  

Powerpoint (add-on)

EduCannon – Great video and quizzes to engage students in a 1:1 environment.

Google Forms – Create a Google account and use forms for quizzes, surveys, and reading journals.

Edpuzzle – Great video and quizzes to engage students in a 1:1 environment (videos, quizzes, voices etc.)

Moovly – Create animated videos and other multi-media content. – Create engaging quizzes that will allow students to show their screen from their seats.


Seven Norms of Collaboration

 Seven Norms of Collaboration

 These norms build group energy, commitment, and effectiveness.

  • Pausing.  Not all brains work at the same rate or use the same processes.  There are four types of pauses: 1) after a question, 2) after someone speaks, 3) personal reflection time, and 4) the collective pause (structured or spontaneous).  Pausing, then paraphrasing are two steps that set up deeper types of discussion.
  • Paraphrasing.  To help the group be as receptive as possible, avoid using “I” as you paraphrase.  Instead, try using the following openers:

You’re suggesting…  You’re proposing..  So, what you’re wondering is…  So, you are thinking that…

Choose a logical level for your response:  Acknowledge and clarify content and emotion, or structure or bring together a number of statements or issues expressed by the group, or change the level of logic by raising or lowering it.
  • Probing for Specificity.  Human brains form generalizations from diverse pieces of information as a matter of survival.  Therefore, a special effort is needed to gain specificity, a requirement for good group communication and understanding.  Clarify vague pronouns, such as the generalized “they.”  Use specific verbs.  Find out what specific rules are behind words such as “must” and “cannot.”  Avoid using absolute or universal words such as everyone, all, never, and always.
  • Putting Ideas on the Table.  To present ideas in the spirit of group sharing and collaboration, try using one or more of the following openers:
Here is an idea for consideration…  One possible approach…  This is not an advocacy, I’m just thinking out loud…

Also know when to withdraw an idea if it is getting in the way of moving forward.  Make sure, too, that the group works with data, not just impressions.  
  • Paying Attention to Self and Others.  People have differing learning styles, so interact with them by recognizing their language and physical cues.  Listen for whether group members use visual, auditory, or kinesthetic modes of thinking and expression:  I see, I hear, I feel….
  • Presuming Positive Intentions.  Phrase and frame issues and concerns in positive rather than negative language.  
  • Pursuing a Balance Between Advocacy and Inquiry.  Using both cognitive and emotional means, spend equal amounts of time “advocating for one’s own ideas and inquiring into the ideas of others.”

Muzy Photo Blog

I found Writing with a Photos (More than words can say alone) a very interesting read.  Pictures do add emotions and feelings to words… important part of the reading context.  Pictures make the words come to life.  Think about media (commercials) and the influence video/pictures/words have on us as a society.

Why Do We Take Pictures?

  • To Connect
  • To be apart of a community
  • To alter our perspective
  • To capture the decisive moment
  • To change lives
  • To been seen
  • To save memories
  • To show us things we’ve never seen before
  • To make us think
  • To capture beauty
  • Plus MORE…..

We have so many tools that can be used in the classroom to enhance our reading, writing, and thinking.  The article above mentions several.  Recently, I came across Muzy.  Muzy would be a great photoblog to be used in the classroom for comparing/contrasting, sharing pictures, and writing/collaborative discussions on pictures posted.

Teacherstone Muzy

Google Forms

Google Forms is a great free service provided by Google.  It has a huge potential in education for both teachers and students.   Google Forms are very easy to use and create.  It is automatically built in Google Docs meaning it is completely web-based and does not require any software download.  (Unofficial Google Doc Guide on Amazon)

Teachers can use Google Forms and Docs  in EDMODO with students for collaboration and formative assessments.  Teachers can create Google Forms for parents as well for quick feed back, volunteer information, and sign-up lists.   For me, I love Google Forms for teacher evaluations/checklists and walk-throughs.  I love being able to send immediate feed-back to the teacher.

Check out this list of forms below and click on any title to access its corresponding form. The pictures you see below are only  half snapshots of each form:

1- Get to Know your Class

google forms
Use this form to collect information about your students such as their likes, dislikes, club affiliations, and many more.
This is a form ideal for use by students when studying linear narrative both written or visual. It basically compare a range of happiness to sadness against different points in a story or film.
google forms

As its name suggests , this form is great for use inside the classroom to test students spelling.

4- Comprehension Questions

google forms
This is a form that test students understanding of a text or anything thing else you want to test. It can be used for multiple purposes.
google forms
This is a form where students can provide data about their reading. It is like a reading diary that they can use to record informations about their readings.
google forms

This one of the easiest forms you can use with your students in the classroom to gather Maths data handling information.

7- Guided Reading Record

google forms
This is another awesome form to  record students reading assignments.
google forms
This is a form that can be used to assess what children already know about any given topic that you are beginning.
google forms

This form could be used to collect the children thoughts about what they read.

10- Learning Success

google forms
You can use this form to assess the relative success of the learning that has taken place during a single lesson or after a series of lessons on a topic.






What is Evernote ?

Evernote is a web tool that allows users to bookmark, record voicemails, take text and voice notes, upload pictures, docs, PDFs and files, and capture images and information on the web as well as as a software download on your computer or as a plugin for your browser and also as an application for your mobile device.

Why Evernote in education ?

There are several reasons why we should embrace Evernote in education:

  • Evernote makes it easy for everyone to easily remember things big and small using computer, phone and the web.
  • It is a great organizational tool for teachers and students. Evernote automatically process and index anything one captures on the web and it makes this content searchable. It also allows users to add tags and organize notes into different notebooks.
  • Evernote keeps all your important information in one place
  • Class notes, schedules, assignments, lesson plans, research or anything related to your schoolwork can be easily added to your Evernote account
  • Evernote automatically synce all your notebooks to the cloud and everywhere you have Evernote installed.
  • Evernote has apps for all kind of smmartphones meaning you can access your notes everywhere you are.
  • Evernote has browser extensions for the major browsers making it down to earth easy to take notes and organize bookmarks right from your browser.
  • Evernote allows users to easily share their notes with others via email, or popular social media
  • Evernote has a special section for education called Evernote for Education where you can learn about how teachers and students are using this tool.
evernote in education

Top Reasons for Using  Evernote

Evernote has many more awesome features that make it ideal for use as an educational tool :

  • You can access your evernote either from the web, or download its software for free and sync all your information right from your desktop to the cloud
  • Evernote has apps for Android, iOS, HP/ Palm webOS, Blackberyy, and Windows Mobile devices.
  • The different platforms you can use to access your Evernote also makes it easy for you to backup and export your notes in a variety of formats.
  • You can use the camera on your phone or web to take screenshots of images. Evernote is able to recognize the text inside the images which is great for capturing posters, printed memos and more.
  • You can also upload attachments to your notes. These attachments can be PDFs, PowerPoint, Excel, Word, Images and many more.
  • Evernote provides web clippers for Chrome, Safari, and Firefox allowing users to clip any web page they want
  • You can use Evernote to email both your text and voice notes and scan papers.
  • Evernote even keeps hyperlinks in a text when clip it.
  • Evernote has a very powerful free version which we can use in education, but it also has a premuim version that offers greater sharing options, gives access to note history, search PDFs, faster image recognition, and no ads for $5 per month or  $45 per year.

Some Ways Teachers can Use Evernote

Below are some of the ways Teachers can use Evernote in education :

  • The first and foremost usage of this tool for educators is to take notes  in class or when attending a lecture , a conference, a symposium, wherever they feel the need to capture and save ideas for later review.
  • Teachers can get their notes organized into different notebooks
  • They can use it to create to-do lists and work logs via recording tasks completed in Evernote, along with the beginning and end times.
  • Teachers who are running a classroom blog can use it to write post drafts to be published on their blog when they get access to internet connection
  • Teachers can organize their classes in Evernote using tags
  • Store all the teaching materials to use during the whole year , one example is the grading templates such as  grade sheets or student assessment forms.
  • Use Evernote to make up for your absence by sharing a notebook with the substitute teacher ( like lesson plans, worksheets, answer keys and examples of completed work ).
  • You can create a public notebook containing key notes you want to share with your students. Share this URL with the class and parents  and let them view anything you add to your notes.
  • Keep your extracurriculars in one place and in order.
  • Save bookmarks and anootate webpages using Evernote. Teachers can add screenshots to help kick start their memory when looking for useful website.
evernote in education
Some Ways students can use Evernote

The following are some of the ways students can use Evernote in their learning :
  • Students can take notes in the class using Evernote and organize their notes into easily searchabe notebooks
  • They can use it to scan teachers handouts, taking snapshots using a canera and not having to worry about loosing the orignal copies.
  • Students can take handwritten notes in their class and use a camera to capture an image to keep in their Evernote
  • Students can create different notebooks where to organize and keep their assignments, class projects, docs, files, school events and many more
  • Students can use Evernote to record audio notes on their phones or iPad for lectures and teachers talks.
  • Students can share their notes and notebooks with each other and collaborate on their assignments.