Friday, November 30, 2007

Qwest grants promote technology in the classroom

Teachers across South Dakota can compete for awards of $2,500 each to support innovative programs that promote the use of technology in the classroom. Qwest will award a total of $25,000. Reported by the December Education Online from the Department of Education.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

VoiceThread--now a picture really is worth 1000 words

Voice Thread is a free online tool that allows you to add comments to a photograph. I'm really excited about the possible uses for this--post a picture of a cell and have students leave comments explaining the different parts. Post a picture of a group and have each member leave a comment explaining how they contributed to the success of the group's work. Have students post a picture of who they would choose to star as the main character in a movie about a book, then have the class post comments about why they think this is a good choice, or who they would pick instead. I created a sample here just to show you how it works. This took about 10 minutes for me to get an account, upload my picture, get my microphone to work, and get this ready to share. Click here to go leave a comment. And have fun!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Connect with millennial students...and new colleagues

A colleague recently shared an article with me that included this quote:

All adults who work with youth should be aware of how young people communicate, fall in love and stay connected; I encourage teachers to try social networking services, to have a blog, to text message with their own families and friends. Experienced teachers will not only gain a better sense of the world their students live in -- indeed, a world their students are creating -- they will have a greater understanding of the young teachers entering the profession.

That's right. In case you hadn't noticed, the internet generation is graduating to the work force. I doubt a 23-year-old, freshly minted teacher is going to stop interacting online simply because she has begun a Grown-Up Career! Besides, considering the pay scale for first-year teachers, the internet will be the only entertainment she can afford for a while. (Not that she'll have time for more than the occasional tweet,given her new workload.)

I think this is some of the best advice possible for educators who are wondering how to integrate technology into their classrooms. As teachers, we are constantly challenged for ways to connect with our students (and as parents, ways to stay connected with our children). Becoming more familiar with their world, in other words, gaining street credibility, is just one. Gaining a better understanding ourselves of ways to naturally and seamlessly include technology in our teaching and activities and assessments is a bonus.

HotChalk is hot

HotChalk bills itself as a teacher website, but really it's more of a classroom organizational portal, with places to list lesson plans and link to plan resources, post messages to your students in each class, keep track of grades, post assignments and gather student feedback or questions, and now, link to the NBC library of videos. The site is free to all teachers and schools, though there may be a change in individual subscriptions regarding the video component come January 2008.

In the meantime, any registered HotChalk user can access short video clips on a variety of topics from the NBC archives. Not only is this great engaging content for helping illustrate your content-based point, but it also inherently provides an opportunity for a conversation about media literacy and bias. For example, the video I watched on Wikipedia was very much slanted toward how unreliable the information is, despite the existence of research that says Wikipedia is just as reliable as the Encylcopedia Britannica.

In any case, the short and timely video feature on the trip of the Mayflower to this continent (once again, landing off course--one can only imagine the captain or navigator explaining that ship steering in the 1600s was not an exact science, and, really, what's a few hundred miles north or south, at least we're not on the boat anymore) was much more current and interesting than the filmstrip of still images with the little beep indicator to advance to the next slide I remember from when I was in school. Granted, I will always have a fond rememberance of those little plastic individual filmstrip viewers, but I would have traded it for an iPod in a nanosecond.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Systems Change Conference Keynote: Neil Howe

Systems Change Conference Keynote: Neil Howe

Click on the link directly above to read the posting in the TIE Leader blog.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

All U Need Web 2.0

This online tutorial from Atomic Learning on Web 2.0 tools will be available FREE until November 30, 2007. Here's what AL has to say about this great resource:

Blogs, wikis, Webcasts, podcasts, RSS feeds, social networks . . . they're all a part of what has come to be known as Web 2.0. Workshop author Vicki Davis is a classroom teacher who has been recognized for her innovative classroom practices using Web 2.0. The Flat Classroom Project, which she coauthored, won ISTE's Award for Best Online Learning project for 2007, an Edublog Award for Best Wiki in education for 2006, and inclusion in the best selling book The World is Flat. Her Cool Cat Teacher Blog received an Edublog finalist award for Best Teacher Blog of 2006.

Atomic Learning is a TIE vendor partner, and a great place to find just-in-time technology PD for students, staff, parents, and administrators.

Fun with personalized graphics

Okay, maybe it's not inherently the most educational site on the web, but what a neat way to create some great clipart that is personalized for your students or your classroom. This website has a long menu of templates that when you click on them, you can add your own text or pictures to create personalized graphics for your websites, wikis, blogs, desktops, whatever.
I particularly liked this link where I made the etch a sketch picture, and this link with the Norman Rockwell poster. And this one is lots of fun for adding borders to pictures.

CAUTION: Not all of the links/images in the mega-list are appropriate for school. Please pay attention to the short descriptors next to each link, and as always with material on the Internet, preview before sharing with students.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Math Journals - How to begin??

Many math teachers in the state are beginning to use math journals to record student thinking and learn each child's level of understanding. Many of my new teacher leaders have asked for more information about doing math talks. There happens to be a great lesson at in the ReadWriteThink partner site called "Talking, Writing, and Reasoning: Making Thinking Visible with Math Journals" . To add to this, you can find a variety of interactive learning resources and lessons aligned to national standards all totally free at Thinkfinity for all curricular areas K-12. Your treasure trove of lessons and interactives awaits you at

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Using a Cartoon to Enhance the Math Classroom?


"The Simpsons has established itself as an award-winning international pop culture phenomenon. It is the longest-running sitcom of all time and it is also one of the most literate television programs on the air, containing many references to subject matter and scholars from various academic fields, including mathematics. Since The Simpsons has been airing in prime-time for most of our students' lives, they likely are familiar with the program and its large cast of characters, including a resident scientist. The Simpsons also contains over a hundred instances of mathematics ranging from arithmetic to geometry to calculus, many designed to expose and poke fun at innumeracy. In fact, Al Jean, Executive Producer and head writer, has a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University. Several episodes of The Simpsons contain significant mathematics that relates to material we normally cover in our classes. For these reasons, this program is an ideal source of fun ways to introduce important concepts to students, and to reduce math anxiety and motivate students in courses for non-majors. "

You can find them at: