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!