Saturday, December 27, 2008

What about the other kids?

A former student of mine is a counselor at a group home for troubled teens. This year, he said he would have 8 kids who would have to stay at the home for Christmas. In an effort to make things a little easier, his mom (of her own free will and kindness), made each teen a gift bag filled with Christmas goodies. For the holiday, my former student escorted the kids to church, then they returned to the group home to the beautifully wrapped goodies. Sometimes, it's the little things that make the biggest impact.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


ScreenToaster is a free beta (in testing) application that records your computer screen. This is a handy tool if you need to demonstrate a process for your students. Also, the students will benefit from using ScreenToaster as another web2.0 tool that may enhance any projects they work on. I've attached my first attempt at using ScreenToaster. It was very easy to use. Currently, there is not an audio option, but that is something ScreenToaster is working on.

My video

Saturday, December 13, 2008

2008 Best Free Lessons

Readers' Survey 2008: Best Site from Which You Can Download Free Lessons and Materials. ReadWriteThink made the list of favorite sites for free lessons on the web in Edutopia's 2008 Annual Survey. Other picks include Thinkfinity, Merlot, and BrainPOP. You can access their choices and a teacher discussion of the list at this link:

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What does "integration" look like?

Do you find yourself asking this question? Watch this 5 minute video, "The Networked Student," and you may have a better idea.

The Networked Student or find it on Kathy Schrock's Blog

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Technology Integration

Welcome to CITEd!
The Center for Implementing Technology in Education (CITEd), a technical assistance center funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, is a cooperative effort of the American Institutes for Research (AIR), the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST), and the Education Development Center (EDC). CITEd supports leadership at state and local education agencies to integrate instructional technology for all students to achieve high educational standards. CITEd provides support through identification of evidence-based practices, innovative online technical assistance tools, professional development, and communities of practice. Learn more about CITEd on our webpage, About the Center , or through our information sheet . This site has lots of excellent resources for technolgoy integration. Check out the free on-line class for Differentiation.

American Authors Resource

Mark Twain, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and John Steinbeck are featured on America's Authors. Each author has his own page full of links, lesson ideas and other resources. The Mark Twain page even has a recorder embedded so users can record themselves reading a passage from Huckleberry Finn. Once recorderd the user can submit his/her recording for a contest. It's a great resource. Check it out.

Wikipedia Should Be Used By Students

Scott McLeod wrote an interesting blog article for TechLEARNING entitled, "Teaching administrators about wikipedia." He addresses the concern we have all heard from educators, librarians, and media specialists about Wikipedia. The concern voiced is most often regarding accuracy. McLeod compares the accuracy of print materials that are universally given the thumbs up to the updated, highly used wikipedia that is often banned. Every educator, librarian and media specialist that currently bans wikipedia should take a look at this article and re-evaluate if this is such a bad thing after all.

The blog article can be read by following the link below:

Monday, December 1, 2008

A Helpful Source Right to Your Inbox

You are pressed for time, and the last thing you want to do today is start surfing the web for web2.0 tools. Fortunately, you don't have to. Subscribe to Kathy Schrock's Help for Busy Teachers, and you will receive a weekly update from her on new web tools. Kathy includes the name of the tool, the link to the tool, and what it does. Often she includes a link to a project she's created using the new tool.

Sign up here to receive the new sites (and descriptions of how to use them in the classroom).

This link will take you to the site:

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Literacy & Learning in the 21st Century

Watch David Warlick's keynote address, "Literacy and Learning in the 21st Century," recorded at a technology literacy institute in Westport, Connecticut in August 2008.

Warlick inspires, cajoles, and covers new ground as he describes the potential of new technologies for teachers and students: The video is approximately 1.5 hours long.

(The video may take a minute to start after the page loads and you may have to upload a new version of Adobe).

Sunday, November 16, 2008

National Writing Project: Letters to the President

What a timely idea for real-world teen writing. The National Writing Project has partnered with Google in creating the "Writing Our Future: Letters to the Next President" project. You can visit their interactive map to see if anyone has participated from your area, as well as read the letters, see what issues are mentioned most by students, and hear more about the activity:

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Ralph Fletcher Podcast: Literacy and Boys

Ralph Fletcher, author of Writer's Workshop, arugues that boys need more choice if we want to engage them as writers. He begins by acknowledging the world boys inhabit. In this podcast, he shares surprising answers he received from boys he interviewed and offers suggestions on how to make Writer's Workshop more equitable for them. It is well worth a listen:

Monday, November 3, 2008

Holiday: Myth or Truth?

ReadWriteThink from the International Reading Association has a terrific assortment of Thanksgiving activities and web resources in their "Myth or Truth" collection. Scroll down the page for many weblinks to other literature-rich Thanksgiving sites:

Friday, October 17, 2008 - Great for every subject

Thanks to Chris, the math coach, from Todd County, I would like to share a website that builds word clouds based on the input from you, your students, a blog site, or delicious tags. Chris used the site to enter all the words students used to define the word angle as he was determining prior knowledge. Then after an activity to build understanding of angles, he asked them again to write their definition of an angle. The two word clouds were totally different. He was able to quickly assess the student understanding of angle and to also find their misconceptions using wordle. You could also use this site to find focus in your work, to find the main focus of a blog or a delicious site. I tried it with the TIE Teacher Blog we are now in and found that children and students are the main focus. I was very happy with that result. Our focus in the teacher blog should always be on our students. Try it out at:

Friday, October 10, 2008

Compount Interest Simulator for Personal Finance Class

Here is a great new tool in the Illuminations site from NCTM that provides a good learning experience related to economics. The Compound Interest Simulator applet will allow you to investigate savings account earnings, credit card debt, and a stock market simulation. How well this can relate to the real world and the economic situation we are in now. Group your students into these 3 areas, have them experience the tool, then have discussions about what would be the best alternative for them as they see what is happening today in our economy.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

CogDogRoo for Storytelling on the Web

Have you been thinking about having students create their stories on the web, but aren't quite sure where to start? Well, here is an excellent site to help you use the web tools that work best for you. has 50 Web 2.0 Ways to Tell a Story!!
The advice given at the site: "the mission is not to review or try every single one (that would be madness, I know), but pick one that sounds interesting and see if you can produce something."

Thanks to Alan Levine for his hard work in bringing all the best tools for web-based storytelling to one location.

Marcia Torgrude

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

PB Wiki offers free upgrade for one year

PB Wiki has plenty of great tutorials for getting started and working with wikis, plus a few TeacherTube videos featuring testimonial from teachers using their service. To learn more about their free upgraded wiki for teachers (for one year), click the link below.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

PBS Mass Media Resources

PBS Site: Children spend the majority of their days consuming mass media. On average, children spend four-and-a-half hours a day using television, video games and computers. Yet children are not provided with the tools needed to evaluate and analyze the media messages they see.
Teachers have the ability to engage students in media literacy — the ability to access, evaluate, analyze and produce both electronic and print media — by dissecting pop culture and advertisements. Media literacy education can help students build critical thinking and analytic skills, become more discriminating in the use of mass media, distinguish between reality and fantasy, and consider whether media values are their values.
This section provides extension classroom activities related to the games on Don't Buy It. The activities are intended for children in grades 3 - 5 and offer suggestions to incorporate media education into your curriculum.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Smithsonian New Partner with Thinkfinity! is proud to announce the launch of its newest Partner: “Smithsonian’s History Explorer”
Today the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, in partnership with Verizon’s, launched “Smithsonian’s History Explorer.” The museum’s new education Web site offers free, standards-based, innovative resources for teaching and learning American history.
Resources available to teachers, parents, students and others include lessons, activities and interactive games that can be searched by grade level, keyword and historical era. Learning activities feature objects selected from the more than 3 million artifacts in the museum’s collections and draw on the expertise of the museum’s renowned curatorial staff making “Smithsonian’s History Explorer” a unique educational experience.
Students can sharpen their critical thinking skills by exploring objects such as a Native American buffalo hide painting, take electronic behind-the-scenes field trips with museum curators to learn how exhibitions are produced or play online matching games where they can discover the seven roles of the President or how to build a sod house.
Teachers will find a wealth of standards-based classroom activities, interactives, media clips and museum objects that can be easily be integrated into any K-12 curriculum as well as professional development opportunities that will help them bring history to life for their students.

“Smithsonian’s History Explorer” was developed under the guidance of a teacher advisory group and made possible by a grant from the Verizon Foundation. The site is accessible at and via

Friday, September 12, 2008

Discover Great Ways to Incorporate Video

The Discovery Education streamathon will take place September 23 from 9am-9pm (Eastern). This 12-hour marathon consists of a series of one-hour webinars. Each webinar is focused on Discovery streaming; however, there are lots of great ideas for Web 2.0 resources and how to use video in the classroom. Register individually, or see if someone in your building can set up a computer in a lab so you can just pop in and watch for 15 minutes, or watch together with your colleagues.
Learn about integrating video into Powerpoint during your free period. See
how to integrate Web 2.0 into the Builders over lunch. Share the latest in
digital storytelling techniques with your colleagues in the teachers lounge.
Come for 1 hour or spend the entire day with us!

For more information, or to register, visit:

Friday, July 11, 2008

Global Learning Communities

Global Learning Community
Lester Holt and two teacher who created an outstanding global learning community with their students spoke about the wonderful possibilities in your classroom. One of the teachers said if you wait until you are an expert with the technology or the techology resources, you will never use it in your classroom. You need to dive in with your students and learn with them. Here are some links provided during this session. Social studies, current events, history and language arts teachers will love icue.
NBC News has provided a great global learning environment free of charge. Check them out.
As one teacher stated:
Its not about the technology, its about the relationships, the connections globally.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Transforming Technology Projects from Good to Great

Gary Stager
Projects need to be student directed and student led.
Books to improve project based learning -
Elements of a Project:
  • Purpose
  • Time
  • Personally meaningful
  • Complex, including serendipity
  • Connected
  • Shareable
  • Access and Constructive Materials

Questions Worth Asking:

  • Is the problem solvable?
  • Is the project monumental or substantial? - a pile of worksheets is not a project
  • Who does the project satisfy?
  • What can they do with that? - the project needs to lead to bigger questions or theory

Visual Literacy: Equipping Students for the Visual World

Lynell Burmark

See to Learn - Visual Literacy Book on CD in full color

Visual Literacy - Reading and writing about pictures or producing images intentionally and purposefully.

What can you observe?
What can you infer?

We want to believe what we see.
Text can be visual - the image of certain text has great visual value such as FedEx.
Most people's eyes are drawn to color and image before black and white
Using ads - put together an new ad on the side effects
Ask your students: Why do you think the ad didn't show the facts of the side effects?
Have the students name the Simpson family from a picture
Now have them name the first 5 freedoms in the Declaration of Independence
What we see we remember. If only the Declaration of Independence had a hit TV show!
What is visual goes to the long term memory.
Eye to Brain - 1,000,000 fibers
Ear to Brain - 30,000 fibers
Humans process visuals 60,000 times faster than text - use images
Keyborard - sequential - text
Camera - simultaneous - image
Words can only recall images we have already seen.
Start a lesson with images!!
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words - Lesson in Thinkfinity - Divide the room into groups - have students talk as one of the images in the picture as the horse, the dog, the grandma, the mother, the children in the images. What are they thinking?
Use images to set a timeline in history. A way of testing prior knowledge.
Progressive Story- Use a series of images and have a group of three students create a story. As each image appears, each student continues the story based on the image on the screen. This is a great way to review, have students provide the images for the story, or great for speaking assignment.
Multi-Media Learning - Richard E. Mayer - check out this book
Image with a Voiceover is what makes the learning most beneficial
Recall and retention are boosted 42%
Transer, application is boosted 89%
The voice over could be words, music, text boxes, video
Sullivan Ballou Lettter on YouTube - excellent example
Resources for Images:
  • go to Lynell's site - - contact Marcia for Login and Password
  • Also for her handouts
  • Pics4Learning - another great website for images
  • morguefile is a great place for hi-res images
  • flickr - can build a community for gathering images -Social Networking

Don't do stacked in time, do adjacent in space!

Using Second Life with Distant Learners: Virtual Office Hours

Wednesday, July 1
Presenter: Abbie Brown, East Carolina University

Office Hours: establish regular office hours for your online students - a great way for teacher and students to communicate - he has audio and voice

This is a report of the results of a multi-year participant-observation study using virutal reality (second life)

Second Life- Developed by Linden Lab in 2003

Access Abbie Brown's powerpoint in NECC's resources online.

What is Second Life:
  • People can meet and converse using ext chant or voice
  • Special events are held
  • Wild West of networked computing technology
  • High bandwidth
  • High end video card required
  • Constant software updates Limited media throughput

Meaning of Second Life:

"Educational technology is the study an ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using and managing appropriate technologyical proceses and resoruces." Januszewski and Molenda, 2008

"Bleeding on the cutting edge so othrs don't have to." - Brown, 2008

Gartner Hype Cycle - Gartner is an information technology research and advisory firm headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut

What can this do for students:

  • cutting edge experience
  • opportunity for informal networking
  • increased feeling of social presence
  • emotional experience
  • I was looking at someone and someone was looking at me

Need to purchase Second Life land - premium membership to second life - to have your own office - he pays $72 a year.

Research: Participant Observation

  • Experiment with building and scripting - allow for play time

His Experiences:

  • Good - adding new dimension to online communication, group interacdtions
  • Bad - learning curve is steep, his students may not appreciate the preponderance of exposed virtual skin
  • Ugly - He was accosted by a big, naked man on Orientation Island - this is a public space so there are inherant dangers

Further Research Needed

Monday, June 30, 2008

Create Live Web TV for the Classroom for Global Audiences

I attended this presentation of Will Richardson's at NECC 2008. Some of you may recognize his name as the author of Blogs, Wikis, and Podcasts. Today's topic taught the participants how to stream our own Web TV show. To model his activity, he actually broadcasted his session; perhaps you watched you watched and maybe caught a glimpse of someone you know.
Will's ustream channel:
By combining ustream with the use of Twitter, one is able to reach thousands, make connections, and get involved in profound conversations related to education, politics, history. Will shared a story about a 13 yr old, who using his Twitter connections, created a great ustream webisode on the night that Hilary Clinton was supposed to lose but ended up carrying the state. Many people were logged in and the conversation (using the chat feature) was tremendous -- all created by a teenager in the basement of his house. Just think of what could be done in the classroom!
After a webisode is over, the ustreamer can take his/her recording and post it online into a wiki, web page, or even a blog. If I want to relive today's presentation, I need only to visit Will's blog and pick up some more tips.
There are no limits to how many "shows" you can make, and even better, the shows can be password protected. If your social studies class created live performances of a Civil War re-enactment, you could safely share the show with the parents, grandparents, or others who were unable to attend by assigning a password.
Will also uses Mogolus Studio to broadcast his show.
Will then introduced David Jakes, an IT coordinator who discussed how technology can add to the learning experience. Jakes suggested that to buy the software for a streaming network the cost would be around $15,000; he emphasized that we have something here at our disposal so let's take advantage of it.
He went on to show a couple of examples of how streaming video is being used in the classroom.
David introduced Jim McIntosh who is ont he advisory board for Channel 4 in the United Kingdom. This channel orginated the "Big Brother" show. He offered that the mostly highly successful downloaded educational video is Sir Ted Robinson's appearnace at TED. The point being that TED Talks are high cost productions, but using the internet and streaming doesn't require all of this cost. McIntosh also shared that in the U.K., the young children are not watching television. Why? They want to to watch their own shows on their own time so they use streaming to pick and choose what they want to watch when they want to watch it. On that same note, he said that people in the U.K. no longer want to watch the rolling news, unless in the event of some horrific event or huge newsmaker. Otherwise, people want to use the internet and get news from all over. He pointed out Alisa Miller's TED Talk, "Why We Know Less Than Ever About the World," which addressed this issure for Americans.
Jim shared this site:
Steve Dembo took over the mic. He offered comforting advice to we participants that we shouldn't feel intimidated by these tools as they are fairly new. Steveshared the website "" It is pc only and can be used with cell phones. He also shared as another site for mobile streaming, which will send out a Tweet that lets his followers now he is streaming.
Lots of good information here today!!!

The Art of Digital Storytelling

BernaJean Porter from Digitales presented this topic. Ms. Porter is a wonderful presenter; she's very accommodating and makes the participants feel comfortable in the learning environment. Most importantly, she knows her stuff. The concept BernaJean introduced is not new - storytelling; however, the mode is. The internet is filled with free websites that teachers and students can use to create stories to explain concepts in math or science, show character development in literature, or even to create their own original stories. Visit my for links to the many available comic sites: http://del,
Digital storytelling offers a different form of assessment. We may have students who write beautifully, filling their papers with deep content and correct grammar. More than likely, each of us knows a few students who can relate a story verbally, but when it comes to putting it on paper, the whole thing changes. Those students will benefit from this alternate assessment mode. In addition, it's fun.
In this session, I sat next to an educator from Alaska. Her school purchased a site license of Comic Life (a one time fee); it is available for Mac and Windows platforms. This teacher shared with me that by using Comic Life for story-telling, they have seen their native students flourish. Now those students are able to share who they are and to do so with a medium that all can connect with. What a great way to get everyone involved!!!

How Do You and Your School Address Plagiarism?

NECC 2008

Doug Johnson, MN

also keynote at Laptop Institute in Mitchell in June 08.

Doug offered alternate ideas rather than just a plain old research paper, such as movies, interviews, advertising campaigns. He also added that our attitudes must change and we need to accept new ideas.

Doug shared several thoughts on the issue of plagiarism. The first step is to have a clear guideline in place of what plagiarism is. Teach the students the difference between paraphrasing and using as one's own words. Having a CLEAR CUT POLICY is mportant.

eMINTS--a fresh breath for tech integration

Find great resources at the eThemes part of this page--thematically organized websites!

This professional development program provides the training and a framework for teaching content standards with technology effectively. Based in Missouri, it has expanded to a number of states including Utah, Nevada, and Minnesota. This program meets the NSDC standards for professional development and focuses on student achievement. Learn more by visiting the website.

NECC-David Thornburg-Open Minds: Open Education and Open Culture

Open Source:
The challenge....
Technology is changing faster than classroom practice
Before Given current classroom practice, how should technology change?
Now Given current technology, how should classroom practice change?
Now, more than ever, we need access for every learner in the world.
Bringing the tools to all children, it must be:
  • Scalable
  • Sustainable
  • Low cost hardware and open source OS and critical applications are the ONLY way the goal can be achieved
  • Proprietary titles costs must be scalable and sustainable
  • Single platform software is anti-child
Children need to be able to use the same software on whatever platform they've got!!
Don't serve the platform, serve the child!

Open source cell phone - Neo1973

Why open source?
  • Applications are robust
  • Service calls are minimized

Freedom Toaster Kiosk

  • Burn CD of all software using on your school computer and put on your computer at home

Linux is the operating system in Brazil schools - by the end of next year 52 million Brazilian children will be using the Linux system - federal program is computers for all.

Break borders with software:

  • CMap - collaborative brainstorming on the internet - free - suggestion button analyzes the words you have already typed and goes to the web to pull in words that connect to your words to share ideas that might help you brainstorm when you are stuck. Download the stand alone client on any computer you have. Share your Cmpas with the world - for viewing and/or editing - Getting the power in the hands of the kids

What about copyrights and cultural artifacts?

  • Creative Commons allows you to grant people the rights to use your materials totally free

Tropicalia is about cultural mixing: building networks, not walls.

It is xenophilic, not xenophobic.

Open source goes beyond technology to humans.

The way you keep good jobs in this courntry is not by building big walls, but by attracting people with big ideas!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday Keynote - James Surowiecki - Wisdom of Crowds

June 29 Keynote
President of ISTE opens:
Connect, Convene, Transform
5 Actionable things to transform:
  1. Be an advocate for change - politicians need to hear from us - find the briefs at ISTE
  2. Share your knowledge and passion - with other teachers, work as a group, inform parents and administrators
  3. Showcase your and your students' work - community leaders, legislators, chamber of commerce
  4. Dream big - have high expectations for students, your classrooms, and your school
  5. Use available resources to effect change - ISTE is a good start - NETS for Teachers, Students, and Administrators

Keynote Speaker:

The Wisdom of Crowds - Book -

James Suroweicki

Blogs about JS -

Under the right conditions, groups of people can be very intelligent, even smarter than the most intelligent person in that group.

Technology enables us to make the work of groups much more powerful. A power that has never before existed.

Jelly Bean Experiment - Guess the number of beans in the jar. The group will be very accurate on the average. Better than any one person in the room. No one person is smarter than the group on the whole.

Prediction Market - Using markets to forecast the outcome of a presidential race - this prediction market has outpredicted the Gallop Poll. Favorites in the markets have won every single race. Set up markets - Google - predicting new offices, new product launches, etc. have matched perfectly to acutal results.

If you get a smart enough crowd, you can accomplish amazing things.

See this in action on the internet - web 2.0 - wikipedia (construction of an online encyclopedia by people continually- collective intelligence) , Flickr (tagged photographs that construct a taxonomy of photos, no one is in charge, collective enterprise of categorizing photos), delicious - for webpages), Google ( how good it is at finding the information searched for, how does it do this?)-relies on the collective intelligence of the people on the web, surveys the internet and asks for a vote on that particular page, and comes out with the answer)

Google found a hidden intelligence - tapping of crowds on the internet.

Think about diversity within groups - age, experience, ability level - they can add knowledge and question to groups that wouldn't normally get asked. The group would be less likely to make the same kind of mistake. That is perfectly okay because the errors they make cancel each other out.

Working in homogeneous groups doesn't work well because they easily succomb to group think. They hear their own opinion echoed back at them. Harder to identify their flaws.

The presence of a devil's advocate in a group makes the group decisions work better. BUT, you can't have the same person as the devil's advocate all the time.

Build a diverse team from the start.

Independence - Think for yourself, rely on your own knowledge By nature or nurture, we are imitative. We tend to imitate what others are doing. Imitation works a lot of the time, but you have to move beyond imitation because you are not getting at the collective intelligence of the group.

In conditions of uncertainty, you lose the ability to work and think collectively.

Best group decisions emerge out of conflict. Get people comfortable with the idea that an argument can bring about a good solution.

Groups are smartest when the people are thinking as individuals as much as possible. If you are a leader do not dictate in advance what others are going to say.

Look out for talkative people. Other people tend to talk back to these people. There is no connection between how much someone says and how much they know. :-)

The people that have the information we are looking for are unlikely. Wisdom of crowds comes from casting your net widely. The internet allows this. It also allows us to incorporate the opinions of those that would be uncomfortable exerting their influence face to face. It allows people to say what they really believe.

Technology can play a fundamental role in group work.

Collaborating in a Blogging Triad - NECC - 6/29/08

June 29 - 12:30-3:30
Triad - CIT, Librarians, and Administrators
Focus on Science today since their students were weak in this area of content
  • Cener for Applied Research in Educational Technology - CARET -
  • Educational and Library Research Services - and
  • 21st Century Skills - Teacher as "Orchestrator of Learning"
  • Clip - "Shake it Up" from Teacher Tube
  • Clip - "Blogs in Plain English"
  • Will Richardson has some great information


Student Blogs

Elementary Science Blog

  • Worked in teams or triads - investigating a curricular blog based on Elementary science objectives. They used both Class Blogmesiter and Edublogs
  • Triad Model - Started with the end in mind - improving achievement in science and writing.
  • Not adding to the teacher plate - used the unit that was already being used in science - Ocean Ecosystem
  • Worked from Essential Questions
  • Class Blogmeister Version - done with administrators - to build their capacity in blogging
  • Edublog Version -
  • Used real world experience from the Texas Newspaper to begin the lesson - an oil spill off the coast of Texas
  • Make a Prediction Post
  • The Food Chains Post
  • The Food Chain Disturbed Post
  • Narrative Writing Post
  • What Can You Do? Post
  • Using blog along with the materials they are already using in the lesson
  • Blogs lend themselves beautifully to differentiated instruction
  • Made a special effort to have a web publication form in place as students began to use blogs for their class work.

Digital Citizenship

Our Turn

  • We formed Triads - administrator, CIT, Librarian
  • We made comments about the ocean oil spill
  • My new partners are: Kristal and Adrienne from Courtry Club Hills, IL
  • Both are principals or asst. principals making decisions on the use of Blogs with their teachers and teacher teams.

GPS, GoogleEarth, and Digital Images

I am attending this session at NECC today, which is being presented by Pamela Leland and Kelly Kuntz from Oregon. To get started, we walked through Hemisfair Park snapping photos with our digital cameras and using a GPS to note our coordinates. We then uploaded those photos to Panoramio, a photo sharing site. Panoramio is free, only registration for an account is required.
Then we began using Google Earth to pin our locations and entering our pictures. Ideas offered by the presenters for using this in the classroom include:

1. Finding the author of a book they are reading for class. Perhaps locating where that author was born, raised, attended school, and so on.
2. Teaching geography using geographical vocabulary. Preparing maps.
3. Make observation that can be addressed with data, and collect, organize and display relevant data to answer them.
4. Make observations. Based on these observations, ask questions or form hypotheses, which can be explore through simple investigations.
5. Understand and explain the use of a simple mechanical device by following technical directions. 6. Show the world to the students. Panoramio has pictures posted by other users. If you would like your students to get an idea of what the Eiffel Tower looks like, your own 3 pictures from your trip may not be enough. Open Google Earth, select Panormaio under Geographic Web, and one can find many pictures of the landmark from all angles, at diggerent times of the day and season.
These are only a few, but I think by visiting Panoramio and Google Earth, you will come up with ideas of your own on how to apply this to you classroom. A huge advantage is students can snap digital photos, upload them, and they've instantly become creators on the web! Another nice thing about Panoramio is that the site automatically resizes the photos, which makes things uncomplicated.

Presentation Website

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Text Fixer Saves the Day!

So I'm doing the typical summer activity for teachers--catching up on email and articles and all that stuff I said, "I'll work on it over the summer," when I get to this link about Flickr, and it looks really good and I'm all excited to check it out. But no matter what I do, the link won't work. Then it dawns on me: the link is on two lines. When I try to copy/paste it into my browswer, it keeps cutting off the second line. My brain is too far into summer vacation to remember the full text of the second line, so I keep going back and forth and trying to get it all--AAAARGH.
Then, aha! The light finally comes on. I can use Text Fixer to save the day without having to open a word processor (so time consuming! could take a whole minute!). I go to the website, paste in my text, click the Remove button, and voila! Instantly I have a single line URL that I can now paste into my browser, and the information about which I was so excited is at my fingertips. (See example screen shot below)

Happy Summer Surfing!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Inspire, Not Require

Kevin Honeycutt more than presented at today's keynote session--he inspired everyone in the room with motivational stories and videos interspersed with words of wisdom for how we can make classrooms and schools a better place for kids.

For those of you who couldn't be here--check out Kevin's website (you can download this presentation), go find some fun videos on YouTube, then search for educationally relevant videos, and then find the way to connect your kids to something that inspires them. It just might inspire you.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Engaging Students with Photos

E N/Virginia Mills Cotton Products Pastry Cutter G A01 Nothing [G]old Can Stay E
Y Alphabet Block o coloured card disc letter u r003
Alphabet Block s t Copper Uppercase Letter U D Plain Educational Block E DSC_1316 T S Exclamation mark

Our session today was really meant to be focused on student engagement, but the tools I wound up sharing were heavily focused on photos. Still, they are neat tools, most are very easy to use, and I think could be made part of a project-based lesson, or authentic assessment, or differentated strategy in any content area, or provider of student choice (to name just a few characteristics of instruction that engages students). Visit the website here.

Characteristics listed by Schlechty:
  1. Content and Substance
  2. Organization of Knowledge
  3. Product Focus
  4. Clear and Compelling Product Standards
  5. Safe Environment
  6. Affirmation of Performance
  7. Affiliation
  8. Novelty and Variety
  9. Choice
  10. Authenticity

2008 Laptop Institute Keynote-Tuesday

This morning's keynote speaker was Jim Moulton, a former educator who embraces the combination of technology and education. You can find his website at

Mr. Moulton brought up a good point that has stuck with me. He talked of presentations using PowerPoint and commented that all the bells and whistles that we educators think we need are not necessary. In other words, instead of spending our time making our presentation what we believe our students will find engaging and aesthetically please is a waste of time. Keep it simple. His presentation was done in simple black and white, and you know what? I was engaged and didn't miss the slides flying in and out.

You can view his presentation and I encourage you to do so at

21st Century Skills for Any Century

This presentation from Jim Moulton (Maine) is a fantastic focus on the importance of the appropriate use of technology to encourage student learning. Student learning. Project based learning can give students the authentic context for engaging students in the content to be learned. Also, if you have not yet invested the TCPK framework, do. Jim is right on target and every teacher should think in terms of possibilities the way he does.

Also posted on the Leading Together blog.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Are you a writer or artist?

Prairie Winds Writers Project publishes an online literary and art magazine at This is a venue for teachers and students to share their work with a wider audience. We update the magazine four times a year and accept work on a rolling basis. Our next due date is July 24th, so if you have a piece of writing or art, you're itching to share, send it my way

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

New Astronomy Tool: "Truly Transformative"

Microsoft's Worldwide Telescope is free software that incorporates images from Hubble Space Telescope, Chandra X-Ray Observatory Center and Spitzer Space Telescope. This software allows users the opportunity to explore and create tours. Below are links for downloading the software, a TED video of the makers explaining the product, and a preview of its features.
WorldWide Telescope

TED | Talks | Roy Gould, Curtis Wong: WorldWide Telescope (video)

PC Pro: News: Microsoft releases Google Sky rival
There are also more complex features allowing users to view the locations of planets in the past, present or future. There's also options to view the universe through different wavelengths of light.

"Users can see the X-ray view of the sky, zoom into bright radiation clouds, and then cross-fade into the visible light view and discover the cloud remnants of a supernova explosion from a thousand years ago," says Roy Gould, a researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

As a rival to Google Sky, Microsoft WorlWide Telescope certainly feels slicker than its counterpart boasting richer graphics and animations, though it lacks the ability for users to quickly add layers of information as they can with Google Sky.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Free Online Courses

Lacking in computer knowledge? Here are 40 computer technology courses that can be taken for free online.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Discovery Earth

Are you looking for resources about global warming and our affects on the earth? Discovery Earth offers just that. You can find Earth News that discusses eco-innovations, articles from leading scientists in the field, featured stories highlighting current events and even an interactive globe. When a red or pink dot appears on the globe you click on it and read the latest on global conditions in that area. It's interactive and a one stop source for relavent information.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Safe, Free Emails & Blogs

Safely connect, collaborate and learn using protected email and blog solutions for schools and districts.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Great show

Here's a great presentation (without the great presenter, unfortunately) on teaching in the 21st century. You can get the idea, even without audio explanation.

Making Kids Googlable

From weblogg-ed:

...what are you doing to insure the kids in your classrooms are “Googled well” when they go for their own interviews? And I don’t just mean telling them NOT to post certain things online. I mean what are you doing to help students shape their online portfolios so that when their future employers or future mates run the search, what they find is not just a lack of negatives but a potential plethora of positives? Not surprisingly, the answer is basically “not much.”

Google Earth 4.3 Released Today

With this updated version, you can now know the date the satellite pictures were taken.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Online Resources for Advanced Placement Teachers

Michelle Mehlberg, DOE, is an excellent resource for teachers, administrators and guidance counselors. She possesses a thorough knowledge of the Advanced Placement Program, APEX Learning and Learning Power. Michelle encourages AP teachers to register for the AP Listserve on the website to receive information from her specific to AP Courses. In this session, she walked participants through the website to familiarize them with the student, parent and educator information centers. College Board offers resources to teachers and Michelle said the resources can be trusted and are solid. School districts need to be certain their AP courses have passed the AP Audit so their students may take the AP Exams.

Focus on Learning from Allison Knox keynote

Think about this--workers of tomorrow need to be motivated self-learners. In what ways can teachers utilize the 21st century skills framework to provide students with the skills and knowledge and abilities to succeed in a global economy, in their 21st century futures?

Read How People Learn by Dr. John Bransford to find out more about:

  • Teachers must draw out and work with the preexisting understandings that their studnts bring with them.
  • Teachers must teach some subject matter in depth, providing many examples in which the same concept is at work and providing a firm foundation of factual knowledge.
  • The teaching of metacognitive skills whould be integrated into the curriculum in a variety of subject areas.

If you are doing these things, great! Are your colleagues? As teacher leaders, do we help each other to make sure these things are happening in our classrooms? How many of us have the courage to throw out what's not working? Do we even know if something is working or not?

And remember--21st century skills does not equal technology. Technology is a major player, but it's about good teaching and learning, it's about authentic learning opportunities, it's about formative assessment, it's about critical thinking, creativity, and innovation.

Teach to the Beat

I attended this breakout session facilitated by our very own John Swanson. John offered several ideas to the participants on making the lessons meaningful and productive. First and foremost, we must decide just what is it that we want to get across. Once we've chosen an objective, it is then we can begin our song selection. When allowing students to choose, it's very important to review the lyrics to insure classroomm appropriateness. We want our students to contribute, but we want them to be responsible as well.
Using music in the classroom has limitless classroom applications from the language arts classroom to the sociology classroom. It's the delivery that is important. John modeled the Socratic Seminar: ask a question, then wait for discussion. If discussion doesn't take off right away, be patient. It may be necessary to rephrase the question, then wait. When using the Socratic method in the classroom, seat everyone in a circle so the discussion and ideas can circulate amongst the participants.
Using a medium that students are familiar with will enhance the experience; they will be engaged. Students will have a chance to showcase their lyrical favorites. Those who do not usually contribute to class discussion may feel comfortable and knowledgeable to speak. Almost everyone has a song or album or artist they identify with. Find out why. Get them to share. Scaffold the learning: how does music reflect the world's activities? Each and every student has an opinion. Geting them to share and feel comfortable doing so is key.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Curriculum Mapping: Moving on and Making Use of the Data with PLCs

Curriculum Mapping: Moving on and Making Use of the Data with PLCs
Tim Mitchell, Chamberlain School District & Tammy Bauck, Three-Rivers Special Svcs Coop
Tim Mitchell called professional learning communities and curriculum mapping a match made in heaven. These two vehicles encourage staff members to engage in the important professional conversations that are essential to improving student achievement.
Mitchell said there is a need to work on collaboration skills as well as the content. He said it just doesn’t work to put teachers in a room together and tell them to collaborate and come out with a product.
Tammy Bauck said PLC’s still answer the questions, What do students need to know? How do we know they know it? What do we do when they don’t know? What do we do when they do know?
Go to Tim’s Website to see slides and resources.

Second Life for Education‎: ‎A virtual learning environment

In this breakout, Julie Mathiesen demonstrated the online virtual world, Second Life, a fascinating representation of the future of human interaction in a globally networked world. As a noob (new) participant to this environment, it was exciting to see the teaching/learning potential as we explored the human genome, jumped into a eukaryotic cell, and were teleported to the Lourve Museum …very cool!!

Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works

In answering the question, Why Technology? Roxanne Everhard made the statistics from Marzano’s work easy to understand and builds a case for reading and using the texts: What Works in Schools, Classroom Instruction that Works, Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works. From her experience, Roxanne explains to us “Our students and children these days demand technology, they don’t just want it, they demand it.” From Survey Monkey,,, Wikispaces, to blogs, Roxanne leads us through some Web 2.0 technologies. For more information on Using Classroom Instruction that Works, sign up for the online graduate course at ESA 6 or TIE. You can also call the TIE office or email Roxanne Everhard or Jackie Jessop Rising for more informaiton.

Podcasting: Easy to Do, Big Outcomes

Post by Julia: In Dr. Tyson's breakout session he showed us a podcast that a calculus teacher (Mr. Levy) does for his students. For each class Mr. Levy uses a digital white board and records everything he writes on the board with screen capture software. He also records his voice with a small microphone that he just clips to his shirt and plugs into his computer. By subscribing to his calculus podcast, each lesson is automatically uploaded by a computer or mp3 player. This is a great way for students to review material or look at something a second time if they need to practice the skill. (If I had had this in high school, maybe I would not have needed a tutor for calculus and maybe I would not have shed so many tears of frustration!) If you're at all interested in integrating podcasts into your teaching, definitely come to Podcasting 101 Breakout session on Tuesday. I attended the Podcasting In-Depth and was really pleased (and surprised) to find that it's easy! The software does the hard work for you. I feel confident in saying that if you have a computer with internet, you too can podcast. I think your students will really benefit and most likely get excited about creating their own podcasts.

Dr. Tim Tyson - Monday morning keynote at TIE08

Dr. Tyson's presentation was rich in story, and his stories reflected our current point in time. From his great grandfather to his current students, Dr. Tyson challenged us to think about our perspective of school. One resource he mentioned is Daniel Pink's book, "A Whole New Mind" and how that book makes the point that our schools are preparing students for work and workplaces that no longer exist. He also shared some intriguing statistics like one-third of the U.S. workforce is made up of independent contractors. While Dr. Tyson shared his vision of school and what students should be doing, I was wondering how the student products of his project-based learning might look. I was happy he shared several of his students' two-minute videos. (These can be viewed at and iTunes.) The films showed the students' questions about the issues they were studying...including child slave labor in the Ivory Coast and stem cell research. The questions posed in the videos were rich and deep. And showed the students had grappled with REAL and COMPLEX issues. What I'm left wondering is where the learning went from there...I will check out the videos when I'm not rushing to my next TIE Conference session to find out the answer to that question!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Pat McGill - TIE 2008 Sunday Keynote Speaker

Here we are at TIE 2008! This is very exciting for me as this is my first TIE conference! After the afternoon indepth sessions, we participants have gathered in the Convention Center to hear Pat McGill. Several things Pat said have stuck with me:

1) Listen. When you scramble the letters of the word "listen" you get "silent." That's what we as teachers need to be; we need to be silent when we listen.

2) Model. Mentor. Monitor.

3) 80% of Baby Boomers who leave the classroom will open a business or find a nother profession. None will retire.

4) Pat's 5 r's: Real, Rural, Ready, Reachable, and Remarkable

5) Sometimes we don't have to say anything, just being present is enough.

6) After showing us 5 shapes, Pat asked us to choose the one that we most identified with. Then she revealed what those choice mean:
Boxes keep us on task; they are not time wasters.
Rectangles are in transition or change; do not stay in rectangle mode for more than two years.
Triangles will take charge when something is falling apart.
Circles (70% of South Dakotans are circles) are great listeners, great team players, and whole- brained.
Squiggles are creative; they ask why?

6) Pat suggested reading The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
Speak with Integrity.
Quit Taking things Personally.
Don't make assumptions.
Always do your best.

If you ever get a chance to see Pat McGill, I would encourage you to do so.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Asperger's: My Life as an Earthbound Alien

Great article from

Story Highlights
Woman says Asperger's syndrome diagnosis at 48 helped explain "otherness"
People with Asperger's are often ultra-focused on sometimes obscure topics
With intensified senses she's ultra-attuned to lights, noise, textures, and smells
Asperger's syndrome is one of the autism spectrum disorders

Thursday, March 27, 2008

It's a Wild Ride!

Check out this great website and read how three eighth grade teachers plan, implement, and assess an effective, technology-rich program. In this program students create rollercoasters in their classrooms through the use of technology. But not only that - the teachers figured out how to use this program to create professionl development presentations on technology integration! Very wild!! - a helper and time saver reminds you of upcoming events. Simply go to
Type in your email and the item that you want to be reminded about. This tool is great because it requires no registration so no password to remember.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Closing the Achievement Gap

This morning I took part in a presentation by Laurie Kagan after Pam and Barb told me I had to go and I am glad I took their advice.
My favorite strategy was the Sage-N-Scribe Laurie had as practice in pairs. The sage would tell the scribe the exact steps to take and what to write down on the page. Thus, the sage was describing the learning process while the scribe acted and then the switched jobs. I like that this would give students an opportunity to be the student and the teacher and by doing both they learn more.
I also enjoyed the math strategy she taught us for double digit edition so if you want to know more about that let me know as it will take more explanation than I can give here but it's very beneficial.
Laurie also reminded us that using the Team-Pair-Solo strategy allows students to learn a process while in a group of four. Once the process is mastered in the group they work on the process in teams of two until mastery and then move to working on their own. I viewed these teams as an opportunity for students to see and hear how others learn along with working on a valuable 21st Century Skill of working in groups.
If there was one training I would suggest every teacher attend Kagan would be it!

Differentiating Instruction in the HS and MS

Steve Kahl is a high school English teacher at Mountain View High School in California. Steve is highly effective in blending Differentiation research and strategies with the research. This session offered many examples of how he and is colleagues use differentiation to reach all levels of learners. He trains on differentiation within his district and surrounding districts. If you are close to this district, we would highly recommend attending one of his 16 hour training sessions - it would be well worth your time. If your district is looking for professional development on Differentiated Instruction, you won't go wrong with his leadership in this field.

His classroom examples showed us how he uses formative assessment, rigorous tiered assignments and engaged project menus, again with all levels of learners.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Great ideas from ASCD conference

In case you're not reading the leadership blog, Colby and Lacey have posted some really good information there from a session with Dr. William Parrett, whose focus is high performing high poverty schools.

Friday, March 14, 2008

I Love That Teaching Idea!

Log into this site to find great teaching ideas or to post your great idea to share with other educators! It is a wonderful site that has everything from core subjects to art, assessment, and character education.

21st Century PlayTime

Many of us “boomer folk” have long reminisced about the value of our childhood when our lives did not revolve around scheduled group activities and ‘bored’ was not a word choice we used lightly – because it resulted in being put to work – and unstructured play was a time to negotiate acceptable social norms for getting along and building friendships and also for being alone. It is in this spirit of looking back, that it is interesting to consider this article on 21st Century Playtime.

21st Century Playtime
Self-regulation may not be the language used when people list 21st Century Skills, but it is clearly a part of the portfolio. Old fashioned play, says Howard Chudacoff, a cultural historian at Brown University, is central to building this essential ability. His recent book on the history of play documents the emergence of toys that come with fixed narratives and the diminishment of free play. NPR's morning edition explores the issue with him and other child development experts. Alix Spiegel explains:

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Awesome Highlighter

Have you ever received a link from a friend but didn't know why? This tool allows you to highlight text in a webpage so your receipient will know just what you want to point out.

Kathy Schrock's Kaffeklatsch

Kathy Schrock is an educator who has embraced and supported technology integration. Her blog is a super resource for educators. Make sure to check out the links to her home page.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Learning Power program seeks Advanced Placement teachers

The Learning Power program is seeking teachers who wish to teach Advanced Placement courses online while earning cash incentives. Experienced AP English, math and science teachers, with or without online teaching experience, are encouraged to investigate this opportunity.

We often ask ourselves, "What do we do when kids' don't get it?" But what do we do when kids already know? One answer is to offer kids Advanced Placement courses. That isn't always easy because many South Dakota schools are small, located in remote areas and do not have the staff to teach advanced courses.

In an effort to address the needs of students who already know, through funding from ExxonMobil, the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) has awarded nearly $2 million for a statewide pilot project called Learning Power which will offer high school students online Advanced Placement (AP) courses in math, science, and English.

Students and teachers will be offered financial incentives to participate in the Learning Power program. We are seeking names of teachers who are currently teaching or have successfully taught AP courses to become part of a select cohort and participate in this program. If you are interested in this program or know of any AP teachers who are, please contact MaryLou at or Dr. Parry at Get on board with this exciting new program!

Monday, March 10, 2008

March Madness

As we well know March Madness has started at the local level with the girls state basketball tournament having taken place this past weekend. The NCAA kicks into action next week and I'm sure many of us will be tuning in to see how far our favorite team goes in the tournament. As teachers how can we incorporate something such as basketball into the classroom? Education World has the answer with a variety of lesson plans focused on March Madness. In an age when students are so involved with technology and we know they will be watching many of the games lets take the post-game discussions that occur in the classroom and turn them into learning discussions. Reaching students where they are is always great.

Friday, March 7, 2008

A Free Open Source Planetarium

Stellarium is a free open source planetarium for your computer. It shows a realistic sky in 3D, just like what you see with the naked eye, binoculars or a telescope. It is being used in planetarium projectors. Just set your coordinates and go.

(image and text from

Microsoft Office Live

Collaborate in real time with Microsoft Office. This is Microsoft's product to rival Google Apps.

My Song

What a cool tool!!!

"Like to Write Music?
Most folks never get a chance to answer this question, since writing music takes years of experience... if you don't play an instrument or spend lots of time around music, you'll probably never get to write a song.
MySong automatically chooses chords to accompany a vocal melody, allowing a user with no musical training to rapidly create accompanied music. MySong is a creative tool for folks who like to sing but would never get a chance to experiment with creating real original music. Come on, you know who you are... you sing in the car, or in the shower, or you go to karaoke clubs, or you just once in a while find yourself singing along with catchy commercial jingles. MySong is also a great tool for songwriters who want to quickly experiment with melodies and accompaniments." from

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Internet Safety Information

MySpace and have created some excellent video segments on internet safety for teens growing up with 21st century technology. The page is simply called Social Networking Basics. The emphasis is on Social Networking 101 and Today's Internet. I would encourage all parents, teachers, administrators and anyone working with teens and pre-teens to check this out to increase your own knowledge level and be able to hold a conversation about these sites with the teens in your life. I wasn't aware of the ParentCare Software available to track MySpace on your home computer, an excellent tool available FREE!

Data Mashups you say...that sounds tasty!

A research project at the University of Oregon has created a tool that allows users to collect data about objects in the virtual world of Second Life and export it to a website. The tool is designed to be used to catalog educational objects that can be found in the virtual world.

This web-based authoring tool, developed at Johns Hopkins University, supports digital field assignments and allows students and instructors to create custom mashups using a wide variety
of digital media, text, and data.

This interactive map displays data relating to severe weather conditions, epidemic alerts, and
seismic incidents around the world. Created by the National Association of Radio-Distress
Signalling and Infocommunications (RSOE) in Budapest, Hungary, the map draws from over 200 news sources for the information it displays.

This blog post explains what mashups are (and aren’t) and suggests why they are useful for education.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Books and Movies

Did you ever wonder if your favorite movie was first a book? Or if the book your students are reading in class was made into a movie? Well, now you can find out. The Mid-Continent Public Libray has a site called Based On The Book where you can search by book title, author, movie title, or year.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Thinkfinity has NEW FACE!

If you have not been to the Thinkfinity site in the last couple of days, surprise! The main page for Thinkfinity has changed to support 21st Century Learning. You will find entry points for educators, students, parents, and after school programs. The search engine moves fluidly between the entry areas. Once you click in the keyword area of the search engine, many search alternatives are provided in a dropdown box. You may search by subject area, grade level, partner site, and learning tool (lesson plan, interactives, media, printables, primary sources, and more).

Many people ask: "What does 21st Century learning look like?" If you click on the 21st Century Learning Link within the Educator Entry, then click on a partner site on the right, a model of 21st Century Learning through one of their lessons is provided. I plan to provide one hour webinars in the next few weeks for those that would like a walk through. Watch for those offerings. For those of you that are ready to go - visit . I am anxious to hear your comments. What do you think?

For those that aren't familiar with Thinkfinity, an online course is offered through TIE membership summer, fall, and spring. We will also have a booth at the TIE Conference with Field Trainers from around the state to share great educational ideas and resources with you.
If you have questions or comments - here is your chance. Lets talk.

Learning about Lakota Language

If you are looking for beginning Lakota Language lessons, click on the following site You will find a multitude of Lakota resources. One of the sites describes the best practices of teaching language, and includes an excerpt of a book that describes how our brains decipher language, and commands. Great article; it will help your teaching abilities no matter what subject you teach. If you are currently a Lakota/Dakota teacher, you may wish to attend this summer institute which will assist you in the pedagogy of teaching Lakota.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Innovative, Real-World Math and Science

If you are looking for engaging, real-world math and science lessons for your students take a minute to explore the Futures Channel site. There are lessons, activities and mini-movies that are sure to enhance math and science lessons for any age student!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Time for Kids

Published by Time magazine, Time for Kids is an outstanding online source for current events information written in age-appropriate language. This is a great resource teachers can access when discussing timely topics in the kindergarten through sixth grade classroom.

Skill Builders for Kids

What a great and fun website for kids to work on their math and reading skills! Here students can race cars and win by selecting the right answers. Teachers and students can set or play by themselves, with other students in the classroom, or other online members.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Make Your Own Comic Strip

Pixton is a user-generated comic strip, that you create, publish, share and remix with your friends.

Now students can create a comic strip to explain a process or to enhance thier vocabulary. The classroom applications are endless with this. Even more exciting is that Pixton encourages collaboration.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

And Kerpoof! You have a digital story!

Not only is this site easy enough to use that even I figured most of it out in about 15 minutes, it's also lots of fun, with the ability to make cartoon storyboards, videos, and cards. I can see students of all ages and in all content areas finding ways to incorporate this site into projects and presentations. It's great for cause/effect/timeline kinds of thinking, and of course it's free. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

21st Century Skills Rubrics

The latest newsletter from 21st Century Connections News provides a link to high school level rubrics that specify criteria for critical thinking, oral presentations, work ethics, written comunication, and peer collaboration and teamwork.

Article and link:
Rubrics for a New Century Rubrics can be the key to assessing the "soft" skills vital to a 21st century learner. They provide a student with a clear picture of what success looks like, and they allow teachers to open the curriculum to deeper learning.

What Should I Read Next?

This looks like a fun and useful tool for helping readers (both young and mature) to find books of interest. I know that when I find the rare opportunity to sit down with a non-work related book, I want to make sure it will be enjoyable. Check out What Should I Read Next?

STARFALL.COM - an interactive site

Several of the teachers in this SMART training session have suggest STARFALL as a wonderful website. I can see why. The FREE site is aimed at Prekindergarden to elementary age. It provides interactive activities to help kids with reading. This is a fun site that parents could visit with their children for some safe, interactive fun. I like the calendar game. It asks the student to click ont he current day of the week and to fill in the missing days. The site also offers free downloads and printable worksheets. There is also a Starfall Store which offers other materials for a very low cost.

Tips for using a SMART Board in the Classroom

The following ten tips are offered by SMART Technologies in its sponsored trainings of using the SMART Board, and they are included in the training handbook.

1. Attach supporting files to your Notebook whiteboarding software before class. This saves you the time it takes to try and find the file during the actual presentation of the lesson.

2. Use Full Screen view when delivering your lessons. This maximizes the available workspace and clears the clutter.

3. Use the Spotlight tool to highlight areas of your lesson. This is helpful when the page you are showing contains a lot of information, but you only want to highlight a small portion.

4. Use the Screen Shade to selectively display your lesson. This works like the piece of paper you use on the overhead projector to cover a transparency. Reveal information at your pace.

5. Use the Internet to connect the lesson to your students' lives and the world. When students have a question in class, try using the Web to find the answer. Go on virtual field trips. Find interactive Internet sites that reinforce basic skills and concepts. The whole class can compose an email on the SMART Board whiteboard with a question or idea to an expert, an author or another class.

6. Encourage students to come to the interactive whiteboard as often as possible.

7. Provide your students with the opportunity to learn to use the technology. (In other words, let them learn it too. This might be helpful to you as a teacher as well. It's always nice to have some extra trouble-shooters around.)

8. Use the interactive whiteboard effectively. Make it easier for participants to focus on what you are doing by writing notes in a white or clear space. Choose pen colors that contrast well with the background.

9. Seek lesson activities on the Internet. Begin by searching through SMART's education solutions website. Bookmark (or save to your del.ici.ous) your favorites. Modify any of the lesson activities to suit your own needs.

10. Collaborate and share resources with others.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tips for a Clean SMARTBoard (or any other interactive whiteboard)

Tips for Keeping that SMARTBoard (or any other interactive whiteboard) Clean

1. Make sure your hands are clean!!! Not only does this keep your whiteboard clean, but it prevents the spread of germs.

2. Students should use clean hands as well. That nacho cheese from lunch will affect the smooth operation of the board. Some elementary teachers keep finger cots on hand for their students to use. You can also use a pointer with a soft end to operate the board.

3. If someone makes the mistake of using a regular whiteboard eraseable marker on the SMARTBoard, don't panic. Try using the whiteboard cleaner for dry erase markers. If it's permanent marker, try the age-old trick of tracing over the permanent marker with a dry erase marker, then erase.

4. Use a soft cloth for daily cleaning or dusting.

Commentary: NCLB and Developing Citizenship

An interesting commentary/perspective...

Opinion: NCLB leaves citizenship behind. Standardized tests encourage standardized thinking, psychologist Barbara M. Stock writes. Policies that pressure students to memorize a single right answer rather than ask questions or think critically is a major step backward. Education Week (premium article access compliments of (10/16)

And a resource in case you are not already a recipient of this ASCD newletter....

Designed specifically for professionals in K-12 education, ASCD SmartBrief is a FREE daily e-mail newsletter. It provides the latest education news and information you need to stay on top of issues that are important to you.Sign up for your very own free subscription to ASCD SmartBrief.

Variety is the Spice of LIfe and the Way of the Changing World

I am participating in a training session for SMARTBoard this week. Though I have experience with the SMARTBoard from using it in my own classroom, today will be a great refresher on the tools.
There are 25 people from various backgrounds here today. One participant works for a Bureau of Investigation for a southern state. His organization just purchased four SMARTBoards, and he will be training his co-workers. As of yet, he is unsure of what the planned use for the boards will be, but he knows they will be used in presentations. Perhaps as they learn more and gain more experience, they will discover other uses.
There is a teacher here who was "gifted" a SMARTBoard from her students. Yes, she teaches in a private school. Another participant works for the Department of Corrections where she teaches language arts. Two other participants work for a retail business that sells SMARTBoards.
What's my point? Incorporating an interactive whiteboard into the classroom has more benefits than just interactive lessons. This is a tool that is used in the "other" world - the world outside of education. Students who have experience utilizing this technology and those who have mastered it are already a step, or two, ahead in the working world. Remember 21st Century Skills? This would be one of them.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Taking note of Google Docs

I know Google Docs has been addressed here before, but I just came across what for me was a pretty cool new use for it. In December, Discovery Education hosted author Daniel Pink for a webinar event. I missed the webinar, but found the archived recording, which was good, and...the link to these notes, *taken by a group of teachers watching the live event*, with the main ideas and pictures and so on.

Not only does this activity fit perfectly with Marzano's research on note-taking, but they reflect beautifully the collaborative nature of 21st century learning. In any case, I thought it was worth taking note. :-)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Number of Male Teachers at 40-year low

At a time when many of our youth need positive male role models, the number of male teachers is at a 40-year low. Why the shortage? What is being done to get males back into teaching? Check out this newsweek article.

Laptop Schools

Dear teachers,
This past week, I was at a school district that is currently part of the Laptop Initiative. The teachers were using the coolest website I have ever seen. If you have a minute, take a look at It options that this site allows for teachers, students and administrators were awesome.

Techno Wanna-Be "es"

This is Marlene and Karen reporting from the wild and wonderful techno-wanna-be world. Yesterday at the staff meeting, we were fortunate enough to be dazzled by our colleagues and their technological prowess. We dined at the the "delicious" table of our esteemed co-workers tags. We were lead into the bold new world of "advanced" Internet searches. All of this whetted our appetite for more....

So, we coerced our gracious colleague, Kris (also know as Vesper Nichi) to help expand our menu of technological entrees. While watching Nate nibble pizza, we charged boldly into the Voki world, and designed and posted a Voki on our Wiki! (I especially like that I can delete 30+ years from my personna with the click of a mouse.) This stuff is awesome!

After conquering the mysterious world of Voki, we ventured into Secondlife. Here, Marlene and I joined Vesper in the wizardry of designing a brand new person. Marlene (AKA: Maye Reyna) and Karen (AKA: Cager Nightfire)lead by Vesper explored Education Island where we visited the ISTE room. The room was all but deserted and everyone was away from their desk. Imagine that! The people in Secondlife must have real office hours.

Vesper and Maye were priviledged to engage in a conversation with a person from Japan whose only image of the United States was Las Vegas. He and Vesper exchanged a few memories of Tokyo while Vesper practiced her Japanese and he his English.

Meanwhile, Cager was busy designing her outfit and trying not to run into walls.

The evening went quickly, and all too soon it was time to shed our alter egos and return to the world some people call real. Thanks to Kris, these two techno-wanna-be"es" have arrived...Sort of!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Give one, get one at math science conf

Marlene, Karen, and Kris are sitting at the math and science conference blogging on the cutest little computer ever. Thanks to the One Laptop per Child program we are connected with the world! If you want to see this little green machine, find Marlene.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008 - The Home of the Screencast - The Home of the Screencast

If you need some help with some applications, this is the site to visit. It offers step-by-step instructions.

A Flight Simulator on Google Earth!!!

That's right, the newest version of Google Earth has a flight simulator. It's a hidden program but this video from YouTube tells you how to find it and how to use it.

Need Some Lesson Plan Help?

Check out "The Lesson Plans Page" where you can view and submit lesson plans.

from the site:

"About The Lesson Plans Page
The Lesson Plans Page is a collection of over 3,000 lesson plans from Preschool through High School and beyond, that were developed by Kyle Yamnitz, students and faculty at The University of Missouri, and more recently by the users of this website. Launched in October of 1996, The Lesson Plans Page was developed to assist educators of all types. Elementary school teachers get lesson plans that are ready to use in their classrooms. College students get great example lesson plans or ideas to base their own lesson plans on. Home schoolers can get lesson plans to use at home and parents can get ideas for educational activities to use with their children."

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Technology Toolbox

Here's a great analogy from a great blog about integrating technology.
  • There is a specific tool for every job, but you might be able to make a different tool work if you tinker enough.
  • You might require several tools to complete a larger task.
  • You should always have a small selection of tools at your disposal in case of emergency.
  • If a new tool is invented that does the job better/faster/easier, a professional would use that one.
  • You only get the full effectiveness out of some tools if use them together (like a hammer and a chisel to carve a sculpture).
  • There are more tools than anyone one person could use in a lifetime, but some will become indispensable to your practice.

The thing to remember with any toolbox is that you need to know what you want to accomplish before
you choose your tool. I find lots of teachers often try to make one
tool fit many purposes because that’s the tool they’re comfortable
with, or that’s the tool they hear other teachers talking about. The
most important feature of the toolbox is picking the right tool for the job at hand.

Kim goes on to describe a variety of web tools and the purposes for which these tools might be used. You can also check out her presentation on this topic (slides only, no audio, but still pretty powerful).

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