John Fritzky: 5th Grade Teacher

Who are you and what do you do?

I am John Fritzky and I teach 5th grade at Chester Stephens Elementary in Mount Olive, New Jersey.  This is my 9th year teaching at this school, and I have been flipping my math class for a little over a year now.  I have a certification in both special education as well as regular education.  Before landing at this school, I was a special education teacher for kindergarten, second and third grade.  I blog here and can be found on Twitter: @JohnFritzky.

What hardware do you use?

My favorite device is my MacBook Pro.  It has a 2GHz Intel Core Processor, 4 GB of memory and I’m currently running OS X 10.8.2.  I love it because of its ability to some serious work and still be portable.  Every year I take hundreds of pictures and video clips of my 5th grade class and at the end of the year I put them all together and create an IMovie of about 20 minutes for students and parents.  Everyone gets a DVD when they leave my class, I do not publish to YouTube because I want to keep everything in house.  I always have a ton of video by the end of the year, about 100 GB, and the MacBook Pro handles it flawlessly.  I also love the ability to text message to other Iphone users using my laptop, I can be working on a project and not have to go and find my phone, I can just respond on my keyboard.  Great idea!

For school I was issued an HP Probook 4530s to use with my SMART Board.  The work amazingly well together. This computer has more than enough horsepower to handle anything a school can throw at it.

I also use a Wacom Bamboo Pen Tablet to create lessons for my flipped math class.  The bamboo is light, portable, and very responsive, a great tool for creating lessons.

In our class we also have a SMART Document camera that allows us to share writing or problems students have solved in class.  It is wonderful to have the abillity to take a piece of writing and make it visible for the whole class.

My class has 18 HP Probooks to use as well as 3 desktop computers, so that is a total of 21 computers…yes I know how lucky I am.  When my superintendent asked what he could do to support my idea for the flipped classroom and 18 computers rolled in the next year.  It is great to work for someone who puts his money into a technology and concept he sees value in.

And what software?

Software/applications that I use for personal productivity:

  • Tweetdeck — allows me to participate or view at least four different conversations at once on twitter.  Except for sports, I don’t watch TV any more, my shows are now on Twitter.
  • Google Chrome — this allows me to bookmark useful lessons and then bring them to school.  The apps are great and stay with me no matter what computer I’m on.
  • Evernote — allows me to store everything in one place, I use the Chrome app version when I’m away from my MacBook Pro.

Software/applications that I use for school:

In order for my students to have success in our flipped classroom, this the software I use:

  1. I use SMART Notebook and SMART Recorder to create the lesson.  It has tons of visual features, different colored pens etc. to make the learning more visual.  The SMART Recorder is great because you can upload the videos directly to YouTube once you have finished a lesson.
  2. YouTube — stores all the videos I have made for the flipped classroom and storage space has so far been limitless.  YouTube has allowed me to upload content longer than 5 minutes once they realized I was an educator.  If you are trying to create lessons longer than 5 minutes you might need to break them up into 2 parts at first.
  3. Google Sites — I organize all my lessons by chapter on Google Sites.  It makes it so easy to connect YouTube videos.  I click on the edit page button, insert, and there is an option to embed videos from YouTube.  No formatting issues what-so ever.
  4. Google Forms — I ask the students about 5-8 questions about the video they watched, plus their first and last name as well as a parent email address.  This form is then embedded below the video.  Because everything is Google based, it all works seamlessly together.
  5. Flubaroo — The Google Script that has changed the way in which my math class functions.  After students have completed their homework Flubarro uses my answer key to automatically correct the student homework.  It then provides a spreadsheet and pie graph for every question answered.  This means I know how every student did on the homework before they walk into my classroom.  I am able to differentiate immediately.
  6. Ten Marks — Is a web-based program  (I learned this one from Richard Byrne) that allows you to search by standard and then assign that standard to your class or individual student. You can assign 10. 20 or 30 problems, and each problem you are allowed to ask for up to 3 hints.  There is also a video embedded for every problem if the students get stuck.  Amazing resource as we are all moving towards the common core.

For my other subjects:

  1. — My students post their writing and are now connected in a quad-blog with three other classes from England.  If you are looking to connect with a quad-blog you must check out and register your class.
  2. PBWorks — My class uses this to collaborate on projects together and post writing they aren’t ready to share with the rest of the world.  Only students in our class have access to this.
  3. Prezi — Students completed book reports using Prezi and then post them on their kidblog site, it is like Power-Point on steroids.
  4. Voice-Thread — Students upload pictures and then narrate through the pictures, so far we have used this as another way to replace a book report.
  5. Skype — We have a Mystery Skype about once every two weeks.  We haven’t tried Google Hangout yet, but it would be cool to have three or four schools going at the same time.

What would your dream setup be?

I honestly have a great set-up right now with 18 laptops in my classroom.  The only thing I would change would be to have half my students with a laptop and the other half with a tablet that has a camera.  The laptops take about 5 minutes to turn on, and log on.  Sometimes we just need access to the internet and yes, we cannot wait 5 minutes.

I would also love to have a keyboarding class start in grade 4.  I think it should take place everyday for at least 3 months to provide the students with the keyboarding skills they need.  Moving forward what do you think is more important, that a student learns to write in cursive, or learns to type?  Right now it doesn’t seems as though we have time to teach both.


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