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! http://www.arcademicskillbuilders.com/ 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 http://21centuryconnections.com/ 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. http://21centuryconnections.com/node/434

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 Edweek.org) (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 http://www.moodle.com/. 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

ScreencastCentral.com - The Home of the Screencast

ScreencastCentral.com - 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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