Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Smilebox Card for Christmas?

This year (for the 3rd year in a row), we are going green and emailing our Christmas card to our friends and family. You may ask Why? Well, several reasons...first, most Christmas cards are hung up for the holiday season, then thrown out. So, we're helping the environment. Second, saving on money. Rather than pay for the cost of printing a card and postage, we are sending it by email or Facebook to everyone we want to share it with, rather than limiting it to a number of friends and family due to budgeting costs.
So, help the environment, save some $$, and send your Christmas (or any other season for that matter) using Smilebox. If you are an educator, you can request a free premium account that will remove any ads. It's good for one year and you just have to renew it for free each year.
Smilebox also has invitations, scrapbook pages, thank yous, announcements, newsletters, calendars, and more!!!
Here is our card for this year if you are wondering what Smilebox is all about...
Click to play this Smilebox greeting
Create your own greeting - Powered by Smilebox
Create your own free digital ecard

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Activities Including Technology

I've been collecting ideas over Twitter and saving them to my Diigo account for the Christmas holiday. Today's blog post is to share just a few of those sites to you to use with your students this holiday season. Click the word Diigo above to see more than what is listed below.

The first is Pleasant Grove's Christmas Around the World site. This site has Scavenger Hunts for students to complete with their computers. It really is a great way for kids to learn more about the holiday season in different parts of the world. 

Another site is an Interactive Christmas card that students may enjoy on the SmartBoard.  Thanks to @ambercoggin for sharing this site!!! Amber also has a post on Rudolph is Missing that is great for the SmartBoard.

Here is a blog post from Lauren Grossberg showcasing 4 sites for kids with holiday cheer! 

Here's a blog post on Great Websites for Christmas Activities by Kevin Cummins.

Those should be a great start! Have fun and I know your students will love the interaction and holiday cheer!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Spelling and Vocabulary Site

This FREE site by Houghton Mifflin is a great one even if you use another resource for Spelling and Vocabulary. Students can choose their grade level ranging from 1st-6th grades. There are various activities for students to participate in to review spelling, proof-reading, and vocabulary.

The activities use Flash and allow students to play online. Activities include a crossword game, word find, word builder, word sort, proofreading, web tales, and more.

Students choose their grade level then select a unit for most activities. There are a ton to choose from so your students can visit this site often and still have new information to study and review!

I would add this bookmark to your site or student laptops/computers and also send it home to inform parents of a great site to help their child review spelling and vocabulary. Your students will have fun and won't even realize how much they are learning! :)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Message from Santa

If you aren't an elementary teacher, have children of your own, or don't celebrate Christmas, you can skip this post...but since decorating my house this weekend, I had to share the coolest site for your children or Santa to get a video message from Santa! If you are a teacher, I highly recommend sharing this site with your students' parents. I did this last year for my 4 and 7 year olds and they were amazed!

The site is Portable North Pole. Basically, this site allows you to create a video message from Santa to a toddler, child, or adult. It allows you to customize it with 3 pictures of the recipient as well as a picture of a gift they want for Christmas.
Here is a link to the video I made for my son this year.
Again, if you are a teacher and don't have time to create a video for each student, email this site to the parents. To create the video, you simply fill in the child's name and some personal info such as what they have been good at this year, what they need to keep working on, and age, eye color, etc.  Such a fun, easy, FREE way to get a message from Santa to a special child in your life. Enjoy!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Smilebox Teacher's Toolbox

If you are a teacher, I recommend you visit Smilebox and sign up for the Teacher's Toolbox program.

Smilebox is a great way to showcase what is happening in your classroom in a very easy way! The teachers who use it at my school LOVE it!

I have started using Smilebox to send out our family Christmas "card" by email to share more than one photo and also help save paper by sending an online greeting rather than sending a card that more than likely will be viewed then thrown in the trash. (see example of my card from last year below)

Click to play this Smilebox greeting
Create your own greeting - Powered by Smilebox

Here is more information from their website.

The Smilebox Teacher’s Toolbox program is a teacher’s digital companion for creative classroom communication. Teacher’s Toolbox gives teachers at all grade levels an easy and creative way to safely share photos, videos, and classroom updates to students and parents. Smilebox is perfect for:

  • parent newsletters and updates
  • overviews of teaching units for at-home learning and modeling
  • award and merit certificates
  • performance and field trip scrapbooks
  • classroom activity slideshows
  • end-of-year photo albums and yearbooks
  • much, much more
Classroom creations can be emailed, posted to a school blog or website, burned to DVD or photo frame, or printed for bulletin boards or backpacks. Parents will experience these learning moments as if they were sitting right alongside their child in class. Your kids will love to see themselves and friends featured in creative multimedia designs set to the music of your choice. You’ll be amazed at how easy Smilebox is to use and how quickly you can share classroom memories.

As a member of the Smilebox Teacher’s Toolbox program, you will receive a FREE annual subscription to our premium Club Smilebox service (a US$39.99 value). The premium service gives you unlimited access to more than 900 Smilebox designs. You can also choose from hundreds of music options or add your own music, email and blog your creations full screen without ads, burn a DVD, and print any page at school, home or at a local retail store. We add new designs each week to keep you supplied with fresh ideas for every holiday, season and special event. You will also receive special offers and a newsletter with great ideas on how to use Smilebox in your classroom.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Robotics Class and Great Resources

I teach a Robotics Elective Class to 6th graders at our school. The class lasts one trimester and we meet once every six day rotation for 40 minutes. This is my second year to teach this to every 6th grader. Previously, it was an after school enrichment class option for students. I work at an all boys' school, so needless to say, Robotics is a class they all enjoy.

We use LEGO Mindstorms Robot kits. I did lots of online research and thought I was teaching it ok-at least for being self taught.
Then, the power of twitter came to my rescue! @damienkee saw a tweet I sent out about a Robotics question and we started a conversation. Basically, I was frustrated that the robot in the instruction book that came with the kit took at least 4 or 5 class periods for my students to build due to time restraints. That left only 3 classes left to program (last year, we were on quarters, not trimesters.) Damien told me that I was building the wrong robot and sent me this link to one of his website on robotics to build a smaller robot that would only take one class period.
I printed the directions for my boys and on the first class, every group except one finished building the robot. I was overjoyed! We had 10 weeks left to program....which leads me to a resource that you should really consider purchasing if you teach LEGO Mindstorm Robotics.

Damien shared 3 books with me that he has written. Here is the link to the books.
The one called Classroom Activities for the Busy Teacher: NXT has great programs in it for you to share with your students to help them understand what all the commands in the programming software do. It seriously took my Robotics class to another level in a short amount of time! I realized that it was exactly what I needed to help the students create programs to really get their robot working at a new level! This site has a video of some of the programs for the robots from the book as well as a link to download some sample lessons.

Here is also the link to Damien's main Robotics website.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Word Cloud Choices

Word Cloud from ABCya!

Today I wanted to share a few sites that our 1st-3rd grade students use to create word clouds.

First, let's look at Wordle. Wordle describes their site as "a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The cloudsgive greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yoursto use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends."

Wordle allows you to keep phrases of words together by using a tilda between the two words you don't want separated (~). This is helpful to know before using this tool with your students. Wordle also lets you choose various fonts and color schemes as well as orientation of your words.

Jen Wagner has a great site called Guess the Wordle that is great to use with students on a daily basis.

Here is a description of this site:

"Every day (Monday – Friday) a new wordle will be posted for you and your students to view.
Each wordle will have a TOPIC and you will need to use your diciphering skills to figure out exactly what that topic is. (feel free to use the tools of the internet to figure out the topics)
Monday & Wednesday Wordles
Monday’s Wordle will be easy. All the words will have ONE thing in common.
Wednesday’s Wordle will be a bit more complex. All the words will have TWO things in common.

Tuesday, Thursday, Friday Wordles
Tuesday’s Wordle will be the date of a famous event in world history.
Thursday’s Wordle will be the title of a book, poem, song, fable, etc.
Friday’s Wordle will be a famous location."

Another great site for word clouds is from ABCya! This is a little more user friendly for younger students than Wordle. This site also allows changing the font, orientation of words, and color scheme. One different I really like about ABCya! is that you can save your word cloud as a jpeg to post on a blog or wiki site with one click!

Check out these 2 sites and let your imagination go wild! I think your students will love it. I know ours have enjoyed using this great tool!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Clock Clipart

You may have already known this time saver, but I thought I'd post about it just in case a few people didn't know this information.  As I was working with a teacher at my school during our weekly technology meeting, she mentioned cutting out pictures of clocks and pasting them onto a worksheet for her students (literally-using scissors and glue). I told her I bet we could find clock clipart for her to use and then she could just draw the arrows on the clock.
I used Google image search and found a blank clock. She was happy, but all of a sudden, I wondered....
could I put in a specific time and find a clip art already created showing that time???
So....I put in 7:38 clock in the search using Google. Check it out:
I couldn't believe I NEVER thought to Google that before! I have since shared this with several teachers (and will share this blog post with all those I help at my school) because I think this is SUCH a huge time saver for teachers.
By the way, the clock came from this site. Here are their terms:

Educational Use. A maximum of fifty (50) clipart items may be used in any non-commercial, educational project (report, presentation, display, website, etc.) without special permission. The use of more than fifty clipart items in a single project requires written permission from the Florida Center for Instructional Technology (FCIT) at USF.
Credit. Please credit FCIT whenever a resource is used. If resources from this site are incorporated into a website, a link to must be included on your site.

So, save yourself some time and Google the time you need for clock clipart!

Monday, October 18, 2010


I must admit, I am a Googler. My homepage is iGoogle and I also use Google when searching for images. Recently, Susan Brooks from Internet4Classrooms, showed me Yippy and as an educator, I really think it has potential to use it with kids.
When you enter a search term, it breaks the results down into categories. (see picture on right). I searched for endangered animals and the results are divided and you can click the plus icon beside each category to see the results from that category. Notice one of the categories is pictures, which is nice if you are having students locate images for use on projects.

Here is a description of Yippy from their website:

Yippy queries several top search engines, combines the results, and generates an ordered list based on comparative ranking. This "metasearch" approach helps raise the best results to the top and push search engine spam to the bottom.
But what really makes Yippy unique is what happens after you search. Instead of delivering millions of search results in one long list, our search engine groups similar results together into “clouds.” Clouds help you see your search results by topic so you can zero in on exactly what you’re looking for or discover unexpected relationships between items. When was the last time you went to the third or fourth page of the search results? Rather than scrolling through page after page, the clouds help you find results you may have missed or that were buried deep in the ranked list. 

So, what are you waiting for? Try Yippy and see if you like it? I know I added it to my bookmark toolbar! 

Endangered Animal Posters using Comic Life

Our second graders studied about endangered animals in Science and what people can do to help those animals. The students were divided into groups of 2, assigned a specific endangered animal, and gathered facts about their animal. Then, their teacher, Mrs. McCall, asked me to come teach a lesson for them to use their laptops to create a poster about their animal using Comic Life. I had loaded pictures of their animals on the school server to save the time of them looking for clipart. After showing the boys the basics of Comic Life, they were turned loose to create their posters. They loved the activity and their work came out great!

2A Endangered Animals posters on PhotoPeach

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Vocabulary is Fun Site (from the Creator of Spelling City!)

If you are an educator and don't know about Spelling City, take some time to check it out! I hadn't seen this Vocabulary is Fun site from the creator of Spelling City until Susan from Internet4Classrooms shared it with me this week.
This vocabulary site has games for students to build English vocabulary skills. Skills include analogy games, antonym games, contraction games, foreign language games, parts of speech games, prefix and suffix games, and many MORE!
Here is a description of their site:
Vocabulary is Fun is a leading vocabulary website worldwide with the best flash online word games. The vocabulary games include an online word search, an online crossword puzzle, and hangman online (our version is called HangMouse). Users choose the vocabulary list that the online word game will use in the word game. The vocabulary games are popular for use on smart boards for word games to build vocabulary skills in classrooms.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Great site!!!

I ran across this site tonight while looking for some sites for classes to use. It's 42explore Thematic Pathfinder-another free resource for teachers! Here is the description from their site:

Why start with a search engine, when you can find a pathfinder to fit your needs at 42eXplore? When learning something new, it's nice to have more than one resource to explore. This web project provides "four to eXplore" for each topic. On each page you'll find definitions, activities, the 4 good starting points, and many more links and resources for the thematic topic.

If you are looking for specific sites for a topic and you are an elementary teacher, I encourage you to check this site first to save you time! You can search by subject or click Topic index to see a list of all available.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Martin Institute Conference Thoughts

The Martin Institute for Teaching Excellence, housed in Presbyterian Day School (where I work), held it's first conference last week.  The theme of the conference was Teaching for Tomorrow. There was a lot of preparation to make this first conference outstanding and I think the goal was met! I wanted to share the wiki for the Martin Institute with you because most of the presenters shared their presentation materials on the site. I was privileged enough to get to present 3 different sessions at this conference and I felt that they were successful. Most of the sessions were Ustreamed. If you have time to watch, I highly recommend checking some of them out!
Wes Fryer was the keynote speaker on Thursday night and Tom Barrett was the speaker (skyped in) during lunch on Friday. The conference had some awesome door prizes (including 5 iPads and 3 Flip cameras) that made several people very happy when they won! There will be a spring conference and a summer conference at the Martin Institute. More info will be posted on their website for more info about the upcoming conferences.

Monday, October 4, 2010

During the TeachMeet Memphis unconference held at my school last week, a friend of mine, Melissa Smith, used this Random Name/Word Picker to select the winners of door prizes.  I thought this was such a neat tool, so I asked her where she found it. is the site to find this and many other free tools to use in your classroom.
First, let me tell you about the Name Picker.  You enter your names in a box that appears and it puts them into a machine. You click Fruit Machine below and it spins the wheel to select a new student name. After it chooses a student, you can remove them so they are not selected again. This has great possibilities for classroom use.  A few ways I can think of to use it are to create groups (press it a few times in a row and those kids are all in one group), to select who answers the question, to select job helpers for the week, etc.  The possibilities are endless!!!
While you are on the site,  check out the other great features they have for teachers.  Their site states "create free educational games, quizzes, activities and diagrams in seconds! Host them on your own blog, website, or intranet! No signup, no passwords, no charge!
Their site allows you to search their sample files by subject or by type. On the right side of the page, there is a list of the most popular templates. This is a great time saver for teachers!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Virtual Field Trips online

With today's economy, there are lots of cuts in school budgets.  Sometimes, this means no field trips for classes. Today's post is focusing on virtual field trips.  I recommend you consider virtual field trips for several reasons.  First, many virtual field trips are FREE.  Of course, we all love free! Second, there are many places to "take" your students when you consider virtual field trips...the possibilities are endless! If you limit your class to somewhere you can travel to on a bus, they are missing out!

Recently, I ran across this website with a great list of virtual field trips. Virtual field trips can be used with your class to learn more about places without leaving your school.  It is great to use virtual field trips because many are free and you can access locations anywhere in the world right from the computer in your classroom! Bring it to you if you can't take your students there!

Here are some other pages that list virtual field trips. 
Greene Bytes
Simple K12 Virtual Field Trips
Blackwell's Best Virtual Field Trips
The Apple's List of Top 5 Virtual Field Trips
Utah Education Network's Virtual Field Trips
Internet4Classrooms Virtual Field Trips Help
Tech Trekers Virtual Field Trips
Virtual Field Trips List
OOPS! Virtual Field Trips

Ask your parents if they have any place they could share about and then find a virtual field trip about that place.  This would be a great way to get parents involved with your class!

A virtual field trip is the next best thing to being there! Open up the window to the world right from your classroom and introduce your students to endless possibilities!
Take some time and check out the links in this article...your students will LOVE you for it!!!

If you have used virtual field trips with your class, please share the location and link of the site you have visited in the comments section on this post. If you have other sites you use, please share those as well so we can learn from each other.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

iPods in the Classroom

Our school has a new iPod Touch cart for classes to use this year.  After setting the iPods up and putting apps in folders to help make it easier for students (PK-6th) to use, I rolled them out and used them with a 3rd grade class last week. It was a very exciting day...not only for our students, but for me. I really had a geek moment when they were ready for use!
Many of our teachers have attended Project Zero at Harvard. One technique they learned there is for students to create a "Headline" about various topics they are studying in class.  So, with that in mind, I came up with the first lesson. We are an all boys' school, so this lesson went right along with boys! The boys used the Create a Martian app to design the martians that were taking over the earth. They had 3 minutes to make their martian perfect! Once everyone had a martian, we took a snapshot of it by holding down the power button and the home button of the iPod, which basically takes a screen shot of the iPod screen. Then, the boys went to the Photos app and found their picture. They emailed it to their teacher (I have all teachers set up in the contacts app). The teacher printed it from her laptop to a color printer and the boys then created a headline about martians taking over the earth.
Not a bad lesson for their first introduction to the iPods. They boys worked great and really loved the chance to be creative with the martian and headline.
One thing I thought was really interesting is that with the first 7 classes I have used the iPods with, only one or two from each class had NEVER used an iPod or iPhone.  WOW!  

Monday, September 6, 2010

Twitter and @cybraryman1

Hopefully if you are an educator, you are using Twitter to connect with other people as part of your PLN (Personal Learning Network or some may call it Professional Learning Network.) It took me about six months to really “get” Twitter. If you asked me to tell you one thing I couldn’t do without as a Technology Coach, I believe the first thing out of my mouth would be Twitter.  Take some time to follow people and watch your learning grow! I few things I use Twitter for at my job are to help me solve problems with applications, get suggestions on tools to use with students, and find websites to give to teachers to use with their lessons. It really is invaluable once you begin to use it more and more.
Throughout the week, there are various educational chats happening using twitter. These can be very beneficial for educators to participate in to help hear others’ points of view and give you a chance to voice your opinion on various topics.
@cybraryman1 on twitter has created a list of all the current educational chats and when they take place on his site. I encourage you to look through the list and see what topics relate to you (for example, kinderchat for kindergarten teachers, scichat for science teachers, etc.) Find the day of the week and time that these chats are taking place and try to participate in at least one to see what it is like to learn and hear from others at a very fast pace. Many of the chats are also available for you to view at a later time in case you miss them or can’t make it. You can read through the tweets that are sent out during that chat. This is a huge benefit of Twitter-connecing people from all over the world to share thoughts, lessons, ideas, and more to help better educate our students.
While you are at @cybraryman1’s site, check it out! Block off a planning time or evening to see what he has available for educators.  I am VERY impressed with his site and think you will be also.  On the Educator’s link, he has links for teacher tools, classroom organization, and subject areas.  Each page has a TON of links to help you enhance your teaching. Just a warning, once you visit his site, you may not want to stop looking at all the great resources there!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sign Up Sheets Made Easy

This site, Sign Up Sheet Genius, is a great time saver for teachers, coaches, room parents, and anyone else that needs a place for people to sign up for something. Save the paper sign up sheets and create one online. Oh yeah, did I mention it's FREE? Basically, SignUpGenius is a FREE online tool for creating and managing group sign up lists. They have examples for you to view to get ideas of how to use it in your classroom. Some ideas they list are meal signups for a sick friend, snack signups for a class party, party RSVP, but get creative and think of other ways you can use it in your classroom. How about a signup for a monthly parent reader to come to your class, a signup for parents to send in treasure box prizes, a signup for parent volunteers in your classroom, the possibilities are endless! If you have used it in your classroom or think of a great way to use it, please post a comment to share with other teachers reading this blog.
Click learn more on their site to get full details. Here are the basics: Create a free account, create an online signup, make sign up public or private, people sign up, email reminders can be sent, and you can be notified when someone signs up. 
Pretty cool and sounds like a time saver for teachers...we all need that, right?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

ABCya! Website

 If you are an elementary teacher and haven't checked out ABCya! Go there now! :)
ABCya! is a site with educational games and activities for elementary students. All their activities were created or approved by certified teachers. The games are FREE and some would be great for use with a SmartBoard.
Trust me, this site is worth checking out! Just make sure you have some time because there is so much there! Your students will LOVE it! It would also be a great site to share with parents to use for reinforcement for their children while at home.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

CAPTURED! Photo of the Day for Students/Classes

I've always seen people who do the photo a day for an entire year, and I always think, what a great project. Well, I doubt I'm the first to try it with classes, but I created a Flicker Group for Students/Classes Photo of the Day just for the school year (really only days students are in school.) It would be great to have as many classes participate as possible. Please consider joining. :)
I hope to present this idea to my teachers like this: 1.  Rotate students choosing what to take a picture of, taking the picture, and sharing about it (maybe the caption-just a simple sentence).
It would be great to have classes around the world join this group so we can learn more about each other just simply by sharing pictures!!! It also is for all grade levels.
So, as you start back to school, let your students start clicking and post those pictures to our group!!!  It will be GREAT!
Please note: A WIKI will soon be posted for this project for classes that participate to share their info.

SmartBoard Resources

I am leading a session for our faculty during inservice week at PDS on getting the most out of your SmartBoard. Below are places that you can use to get resources for your SmartBoard.

Smart Exchange-find lesson plans for your SmartBoard and connect with teachers

TONS of sites and links for the SmartBoard
SmartBoard in Education Wiki 
SmartBoard Lesson Sites
Teachers LOVE SmartBoards blog

Places for Notebook resources:
Tangipahoa Parish Schools
Greenwich Schools SmartBoard Lessons by Grade
SmartBoard Lesson Plans
MATH SmartBoard Resources
Rolla Public Schools SmartBoard Lessons
Elementary Smartboard Lessons
Rockingham County Public Schools (sorted by grade level, subject, standard, then click smartboard)
Center School District Templates by grade level

Games for Smartboard:
Jeopardy and Millionaire Games

Interactive Sites for the SmartBoard
Kerrville Technology
Primary Language Arts Interactive Sites
Primary Math Interactive Sites
Science Interactive Sites
Social Studies Interactive Sites
Art, Music, Holidays
Utah Education Network Interactives
More Interactive Sites
Online Storybook Sites
Mr. Wolfe's Math Lessons (by grade level at top of page)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Kerpoof Spell a Picture

Above is the video from when I recently showed my 4 year old how to use Kerpoof's Spell a Picture feature. She loved it! In fact, I think I've created a spelling monster! ;)
Even my 8 year old joined in to help her sound out words and add objects to her picture.
Basically, the user picks a background (beach, farm, or forest.) Then, they try to spell items to add to their picture. If they spell it correctly, there is an arrow by the object to click to add it to their picture. Once it's on their picture, they can drag them around to organize it.
It's a great way to encourage sounding out words for early childhood students.
Students can click on the letters below the picture or use the keyboard, so it can be helpful in learning the location of the letters.
There isn't an easy way to share or embed, but you can print it or take a screen shot of it to use on a blog. Below is a screen shot of Spell a Picture.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

WOW!  Have you checked out I found out about this neat tool at ISTE 2010. This is a very easy way to create a slide show, customize it with different themes, effects, and embed it into your blog or website. Create an account for FREE!!!!
To use this great tool, just upload your photos (from your computer, facebook, flicker, and many more), customize your design, choose your effects, save it and it gives you the embed code.  SO EASY!
Check it out! Parents AND students will love seeing activities from your classroom in this neat, interesting way!
Below is just a quick example I made of a few of our 3rd grade class day photos.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Reform Symposium

If you have time this weekend (July 30-Aug. 1), I recommend checking out The Reform Symposium.  This online conference will showcase innovation in education.  From their site: The Reform Symposium is a free online conference for educators, administrators, parents and students. This year the conference is focused on innovative practices in education and what role these practices can play in educational reform.
Check it out! If you miss something, recordings of the presentations will be archived at the presenter's pages.
The twitter hashtag for this conference is #rscon10 if you want to follow it on twitter.

Monday, June 28, 2010

ISTE Conference

Well, it's my first ISTE.  Yesterday, the Mario Armstrong opening was good and they gave away cool free stuff, but I didn't win, but that's ok! Last night was the keynote.  It wasn't everyone's favorite...we decided to grab dinner rather than listen to all of it.  I saw different responses on twitter about the keynote.  Some said the content was good, but the delivery wasn't.  Some just seemed to not like it at all.  We had a nice dinner, then went back to the hotel to schedule our Monday.
This morning (Monday), we attended Ian Jukes session on Digital Learners.  Here is a link to my notes from that session.  He was a very challenging presenter in that he made us think about the way we are teaching students and if it's to prepare them for the world WE lived in growing up OR if we are preparing them for the world THEY will be joining.  It made me think of a lot of ways we could change some of the ways we are teaching at our school.  I hope all the teachers at PDS read the notes on the link.  There is also a website on the notes that you can visit to join and find his presentation.  I totally enjoyed that session.
I also attended Gary Stager's session about Creativity 2.0.  My notes are here.  It has some challenging points as well.
I went to a session on iPods and was hoping that there would be more educational apps discussed, but it was a little more personal apps or not things for elementary students, but I enjoyed the session.
I had to stop and grab lunch while my laptop recharges.  I am about to attend a Google Earth BYOL (Bring your own laptop) session.  I have high hopes for that and hope to learn a lot to take back to my teachers.
I visited the exhibit hall briefly and you could probably spend 3 days in there and not see everything! Very elaborate setups, presentations, etc. at every booth! I was able to get a 10 minute chair massage in that is a vendor that knows how to reach their audience!
I am not feeling too great...sinus problems, but there is no way I am slowing down.  This conference is GREAT and there is SO MUCH here that I am sure I am missing so much, but trying to make the most of every minute! I really hope we can come to this every year.  I know that is asking a lot, but WOW!  That is the best word I can think of to explain this to you, WOW!
As a first-timer at ISTE, I feel very fortunate that I work at PDS.  Sometimes I feel bad telling people about the set up at our school.  I am always quick to say that we are very blessed. I am glad that I was able to attend and I hope that you find my notes and posts beneficial. 

Friday, June 25, 2010

Off to ISTE

Sorry I haven't posted in a while...I was on a 7 day cruise, home for 6 days, then came to North Carolina.

As I wrap up my family vacation at the beautiful beaches in North Carolina (after a last minute change of plans from going to Gulf Shores since the oil spill has reached there), I will be driving home a LONG 12-14 hours tomorrow (Saturday) and flying off to ISTE Sunday morning.  I'm sure I will be asleep on the plane, but can't wait for ISTE.  This is my first year to attend and I am so excited at the opportunities to meet a lot of people from my PLN face to face and learn as much as I can to share here and with my teachers at PDS.  Hopefully, I will be blogging as time permits, so I can share with YOU what I am learning at ISTE. I will also take notes using Google Docs and share those notes with everyone. Sharing is the way to go!!!

Looking for Ed Tech Blogs to Follow?

If you are looking for Ed Tech blogs to follow, you may want to visit this site. I was contacted by the author about including my blog in their Top 100 technology blogs for teachers article.  I am very honored to be included on this list. There are lots to check out, so when you have some time...I suggest going to their site and looking for a few blogs to follow.  Many thanks to Alexis for including Tech Tips for Teachers on her list. :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Showcase Your School!

@mcarls created a wiki for schools to show off their school using a Voicethread.  @bethdiaz agreed for her class to do this project to showcase Presbyterian Day School in Memphis, TN (where we work!) Her 2nd graders took pictures of places they wanted to showcase, wrote a sentence about it, and recorded their voice on the voicethread.  It was so much fun for them to do this project! Below is our finished Voicethread and we welcome your comments!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Another Jeopardy Game!

Need a quick way to review for a test or end of the year final???
Super Teacher Tools is a GREAT site!  I'm just posting about Jeopardy, but if you visit the site, I encourage you to check out all the great resources there.
Now, let's get to Jeopardy! This is an online (or offline) way to play jeopardy with your students.  I used this with a 3rd grade class and the students LOVED it! Then, the teacher had the students create a game with a partner and host their game with the class.  So, it's so simple, even a 3rd grader can create one!!!
This is a Flash based game that saves as a text file, so you can load any game you create and play it any time.  Click here to see a sample game.
Basically, you click make a new game link enter the question and answers, save it by clicking Create Game File link that the bottom of the page and it's ready to go!
There are more detailed directions on the site, but I think you should be able to use it without problems.

Friday, April 9, 2010


FlockDraw is a collaboration drawing tool.  Basically, you create a flockdraw site, share it with others, and you can all draw at the same time.  It's quick and get started, simply click the Start Drawing button. Enter your name under Flockdraw, click Join, and you are on the page.  To share it with others, simply copy and paste the website address and send it to friends.  Teachers, you can post the link on your webpage to make it easy for students to access.
The tools are on the right hand side...basic drawing tools...not too difficult to figure out. There is also a text tool to add text.
These can also be embedded into your blog or another site (see below).
Note:  I am having some trouble figuring out how to get it to save for others to draw on it after you have closed it out.  If you figure that out, I'd love to know.  In the meantime, as long as you don't close the window, seems like it is ok.

If you have used this with students, please leave a comment to share with those reading (and me, too!)

Here is a sample I quickly made.  Please feel free to add to it so you (and others) can see what it does.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Jeopardy Labs

This is a great resource to easily create a Jeopardy game for your students (or let your students create the game for your class!) JeopardyLabs allows you to create a customized jeopardy template without PowerPoint. The games you make can be played online from anywhere in the world. Building your own jeopardy template is very easy. Just use the simple editor to get your game up and running.  There is also a feature to browse jeopardy templates created by others.
Students will love reviewing material by playing Jeopardy!

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Internet4Classrooms is run by Susan Brooks and Bill Byles.  Their goal is to assist teachers in finding high-quality, free internet resources to use in classroom instruction. This site will also keep you busy for hours, if not days!!! Make sure you check out the Grade Level Help for PK-8th grade for standards based links and grade level "Skillbuilders" to help students practice, either at home or in the classroom, what they have been taught.

After checking out their site, you may want to click here to find information on them coming to your school to conduct professional development at your school on technology utilization.  I didn't realize they did professional development training until Susan and I ate lunch together during Apple training we both attended last week. :)

Jefferson County Schools

Warning! This site may keep you busy for hours!  The topics include Curriculum Tools, Tech Tools, and Resource Tools with lots of links under each section. Please share this site with your teachers! It's a great resource!

Free Clip Art site

Free Clip Art by Phillip Martin is a great site with lots of clip art for you to use FREE in your classroom, on newsletters, or any other place for non-profit use.  This is a HUGE collection of clip art that is sorted by topic.  They have topics such as sports, people, internet, animals, certificates, and more. You really need to visit this site to appreciate all it has to offer!

Pete's Powerpoint Station

The next few posts will focus on a few web sites I think most teachers need to know about for classroom use.  The first is Pete's Powerpoint Station. This site has free powerpoints for you to download and use in your classroom.  They are sorted by topic, and there are a ton here! Visit the site and you're sure to find something you can use with your students!

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Wallwisher is an online sticky note site. A "wall" is basically a web page where people post messages on sticky notes. Their website gives ideas for using Wallwisher such as personal note taking, to do lists, feedback collection, anything that may need input from a lot of people (debate, etc) and more!  Your wall can be private or public. The sticky note has a limit of 160 characters.
We have several teachers who have used this with their students at our school.  @dchristenbury is our Bible teacher at PDS. Her 2nd grade students have been learning about the Trinity.  They started by reading the book 3 in 1 A Picture of God by Joanne Marxhausen.  Mrs. Christenbury put a request on twitter for people to put their favorite name for Jesus on Wall wisher.  We got answers from all over the country.  Next, they looked up names for Jesus found in the Bible and put their favorites on a Wallwisher.  You can see it here.  They are using these descriptions to write cinquains (five line poems).
Also, Ms. Millar's 3rd grade class has used Wallwisher for peer review of book reports.  While a student was giving his book report, students went to a wall created just for that student and created a sticky note with suggestions or comments about his book report.  The student giving the report could then go read the sticky notes on his Wallwisher site and use the comments to improve for his next oral presentation or book report. The students LOVED doing this and reviewing each other's presentations.
We have also used it at a faculty meeting at our school where groups shared an idea or 2 on a given topic.  This was also a great way to introduce it to our teachers!
Wallwisher has lots of possibilities for use with students.  If you have used it, I would love you to leave a comment and share your ideas!

Thursday, March 4, 2010


PhotoPeach is a free slide show program that is easy to use. Just upload your photos (30 maximum with the free account), choose music from their selections (or use your own with premium account or choose no music), then it makes a slide show for you set to the music. It can be embedded in a blog or shared in other ways as well. This is a great way to feature a program, field trip, or just share pictures of your students with parents. Here is a sample of a PhotoPeach I created to showcase pictures from our school's Student Faculty Basketball Game.
Student Faculty Basketball Game 2010 on PhotoPeach


I saw Fotobabble on twitter from @teryl_magee and @kditzler  so I thought I would check it out.  The account is FREE and it's very user friendly.  So, what is Fotobabble?  According to their site, "its the easiest way to add voice to photos. Its free - just upload a photo, record your voice and share!" Audio recordings can be up to 60 seconds.
Fotobabble could be used in your classroom to share information about field trips, projects, reflections about learning, and much more (see list below from their site with ideas)! The final picture with recording can be embedded on your blog (like above). Easy, free, and great classroom tool! If you think of other uses, feel free to leave a comment!
Q. What can I use Fotobabble for?
A. Anything you can think of. Here are just a few examples:
  • Home-made greeting cards
  • Talking postcards from your travels
  • Review products, songs, movies, TV shows, anything!
  • Citizen journalism: Reporting from the scene of something newsworthy
  • Provide commentary on a photo found on the web
  • Promote your brand, products or services (OR SCHOOL!)
  • Narrate the story behind a special photo
  • Adding a visual element to your poetry, drawing or music

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


@bethdiaz 's 2nd grade class created a VoiceThread about Tennessee. She wanted to make the state of Tennessee talk as the beginning of her VoiceThread. This was a very easy task thanks to Blabberize. Basically, Blabberize is an online tool that you can use to make any image appear like it is talking. You record a voice and set the place on the image where you want the mouth to move. You can embed it into a blog or wiki. @msmithpds helped me by using Screencast to save the video of the state talking.  Blabberize is another FREE tool. Blabberize now lets you convert your blabbers to video; however, it's only free for a short time while they test it, so get your blabbers as mpeg today!
Below is the final product of making the state of Tennessee talk.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Tux Paint

If you like Kidpix, you need to try Tux Paint, an open source drawing software program for kids. It's a FREE download for Mac or PC. It has a very easy to use interface that includes sound effects that kids love. If your school is watching every penny (like most schools), this is a great drawing program for students of any age. One feature that I think is better than Kidpix is the stamps.  They are much more realistic and enlarge much easier and less pixelated. I encourage you to download this and let your students have some fun, then assign them a project or specific drawing to create and see what may just be surprised!
By the way, they also have free math and typing programs available for download.


I just finished teaching a group of 1st and 2nd graders in an after school enrichment class on Kerpoof!  The boys LOVED this class! The excitement was evident from the moment the program was introduced.  If you haven't used Kerpoof, it's very user friendly.  They offer teacher accounts which allows you to create student accounts so students can save their work. Teachers create student user names (no emails needed!) and passwords, so it's very user friendly! You can also have multiple classes set up.  Here is the teacher link to request a teacher account.  You have to create a basic Kerpoof account first. Students can also log in to the site from home. Kerpoof offers various types of options such as drawing, pictures, story, and a movie. The drawings, pictures, and stories can be saved as jpegs with a simple click of an icon, which makes it easy to include on a blog or wiki. Oh yeah, did I mention it's FREE!  Gotta love that!!! Below is a picture my 8 year old son in 2nd grade created.  He loves the program.

Have You Backed Up Lately?

Just a reminder to back up your laptop or computer on a regular basis.  In helping teachers with their computer problems, many times people have "lost everything" due to not backing up regularly.  If your school has a server, you could choose to back up to a folder on your school's server.  If no server space is available, Dropbox gives 2GB of free online storage. Another option is purchasing an external hard drive and back up to that. I recommend to my teachers to back up at least monthly, but every 2 weeks is probably even better.  That way, if your computer goes haywire, you won't lose too much data. So, advice for today:  stop, back up those important files, and feel secure in knowing if something should go wrong, you'll have your files in another location safe and sound!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Few Free Resources for the Smartboard (Or Other Interactive White Boards)

Triptico offers lots of free resources for teachers. Word Magnets is a great activity for your SmartBoard. It is available free or you can purchase it to be able to save your creations and share activities. There are various backgrounds such as tables and venn diagrams, but you can use it for a simple activity such as creating a sentence and scrambling the words, then let your students put the sentence in order. They can also change the color of words, such as making all adjectives red.
Also on their site, you can find various programs to use with the SmartBoard such as Double Spinner, Timer, Dice, Calculator, Scoreboard, and more!
I highly recommend checking out their site and resources.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Gotta Keep Reading

This isn't a tech tip, other than maybe it will inspire you to do a project like this with your school! :) What an encouraging way to get kids interested in reading! They all look so happy and like they are having fun! It made me smile!
Many thanks to @mtechman for sharing this video on Twitter.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Skype, Anyone?

I have a 2nd grade teacher that would like to skype with a class in Canada to discuss the Olympics. If you are interested, please leave me a comment or send me a tweet and we can set it up. Our students are very excited about the winter Olympics and she hopes to connect with a class in Canada to discuss it!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Shape Poems

There are several sites out there for free to create shape poems with your students. @ldenker shared this one today on Twitter that I had never seen before and looks promising. Students can choose a shape or draw their own and then choose words to fill it.
Another site for shape poems is by Read, Write, Think. This one also has pre-made shapes that students can choose from to create a poem. These can also be used to type out stories about various topics in case you aren't studying poetry.
These sites can be very beneficial in the classroom with language arts, or any subject. Try them and see what you think!

Word Cloud Generator

@plnaugle shared this link on Twitter and it made me think of a more kid friendly version of Wordle. It's ABCya! Word Clouds. Students simply type or paste text into the large box on the page, and click the arrow below that box to create their word cloud.
Once their cloud is created, they have options to change the font, colors, and layout in a more simple way than Wordle (at least for lower elementary kids in my opinion.)
Below their cloud is a button to save, which will save it as a jpeg. There is also a print button below the cloud. Below is a sample.

I'm still trying to figure out how to keep two words together, so if you know how, I'd love you to leave a comment and let me know the solution!
One disclaimer, I'm not trying to sound negative about Wordle. We use it a lot at our school and love it! This is just a nice alternative for younger students!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cool Sites to Use with Your Photos

Recently, I taught an after school enrichment for students on Digital Photography and sites to create neat images that feature your pictures. The students that took the class really enjoyed it and it was a lot of fun to teach. First, they learned how to use a digital camera and we walked around our campus taking pictures of various things and people. Then, we uploaded those photos to iPhoto. We reviewed how to crop those pictures, change color, etc.
Then, the fun started! We used Dumpr to create effects such as a Rubik's cube with our photo, an easter egg decoration, our photo in a museum, jigsaw puzzle, and more!
LoonaPix is another site that will create other images with your image in it.
PhotoFunia is one, but there are a few that could be a little controversial with kids. Not too bad, but look and you will know what I mean. On this one, they can put their face on a bodybuilder, their picture on the side of a building, on a wanted poster (very popular with our boys), or on a postage stamp.
Big Huge Labs just may be my favorite (and they have educator accounts!) On this site, you can create a pop art poster, mosaic maker, jigsaw puzzle, magazine cover, motivation poster, trading card, just to name a few!!! Are you studying presidents? Have your students create a trading card about their president. Print off multiple and they can trade with their friends and learn about other presidents. I used the calendar to create a calendar for the grandparents this past Christmas. We uploaded a picture for each month, printed it off, then I put a hole in the corner and put it all on a small silver ring. It was a hit!
Hopefully, you will have time to check these sites out. You can use them with students, for personal use, or even for gifts!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine Writing

This site allows students to choose an effect for their writing and create a story or poem in a specific shape. I shared this with my teachers last year around Valentine's Day. A Kindergarten teacher at our school used it for her students to write a letter to their moms for Valentine's Day. They printed them out and it was very cute.
Simply click the effect you want, click text and enter your text in the box, then click layout to change the font, size, and paper (if necessary). Then, click print. I found this works much better in Safari rather than Firefox if you are on a mac. :)
Neat site with a few different layouts to print your messages for others.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Diigo is a social bookmarking site. Basically, you import your bookmarks from your browser of choice and then they are available online any time, from any computer. It is so easy. One of the best reasons to use Diigo is you can share your bookmarks with others very easily. You can also search for people's sites that they have shared. This is done by "tagging" your bookmarks by subject areas. Then, when someone is searching for math, they can see any sites you have tagged as math. Diigo also has more complex features such as using sticky notes to make annotations about the sites.
One feature @glogstereduman shared with me on twitter was to create a list, save websites to that list, then play the list as webslides. This creates a type of slide show from the websites you have saved to that list. One way I have used this was with student glogs. Here is an example of 2nd grade glogs saved as a slide show. This is truly a great feature of Diigo!


If you aren't using VoiceThread, check it out. There are lots of possibilities to using this tool with your students, no matter what the grade level.
I am leading an after school session on VoiceThread in the classroom today and wanted to share some great links I have found and others have shared with me for you to access.

Links for VoiceThread resources:
17 Interesting Ways to Use VoiceThread in the Classroom
VoiceThreading Across the Curriculum
How to Make a VoiceThread
VoiceThread for Education
VoiceThread Resources
EdTECH Vision Voicethread wiki
Tom Barrett's VoiceThread post 1
Tom Barrett's VoiceThread post 2
SFA examples
VoiceThread Ning

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Presidential Glogs

Click the button below to view samples of our Presidential Glogs created by our 2nd graders with help from our 6th graders. Each 2nd grade class paired up with a 6th grade class. The 6th graders taught the 2nd graders how to create a glog and helped them with this project. It was very fun and both the 2nd and 6th graders loved it!!!

Monday, February 8, 2010


Have you heard of Yolink? If not, I recommend you check it out. I first saw Yolink this summer while attending November Learning's BLC09 conference and was very impressed. Basically, Yolink narrows your searching time on the web. Google something, then Yolink will find specifically what you are looking for from the Google results. It's really quite amazing. If you use Firefox, there is a download for an Add-on that puts it on your toolbar. It's really easy and all ages (children and adults) can benefit from this application. Oh yeah, did I mention that it's FREE?!?

Friday, February 5, 2010

PDS Helps Haiti

Our school is partnering with Soles4Souls to collect shoes for Haiti. They have a 50,000 shoes in 50 days challenge. We are very excited to participate in this project. Each boy is encouraged to bring in shoes that will be given out in Haiti.

I post this on my blog to also showcase Animoto. This is a very easy way to create slide shows to music with pictures as well as video clips. Animoto has free educator accounts, so if you haven't tried it and use slide shows, check it out. The video also has code so it can be embedded into websites.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

JPEG Creator

This program is great! Mac users, just load this on your computer and it puts an icon on your dock. Then, it will convert any compatible image file into a JPEG. I have used it many times. You just drag the file on top of it and it makes a new file as a JPEG. I learned about this at the Mid South Technology Conference. Try it, I think you will really be able to use it!

Spelling City

Several of our teachers use Spelling City for students to review their spelling words. They can hear the word, play games to review the words, and test on the words. The teachers link Spelling City from their websites to make it easy for students to access the site. It's very user friendly. They also just added a new feature where teachers can use the words in sentences for the students. Best thing about it is it's FREE.

President Ideas

Our 2nd grade has always done a unit on Presidents called Yipes Stripes. Each year, we look for new ideas to incorporate into this unit. In the past, 6th graders have helped each 2nd grade boy (we are an all boys' school) create a powerpoint slide about their assigned president. The slides are then combined and the teachers play the slideshow in their classroom on Yipes Stripes day. This year, we are not doing a powerpoint slide. The 2nd grade teachers have seen glogster and each 6th grader will now help each 2nd grader create a glog about their president. We will then save their glog as a diigo bookmark and save it to a list under each teacher's name. Once all the glogs are on the diigo list, we will "play as webslides" off the diigo page and that will be each classroom's slideshow that plays for parents. I am very excited about the possibilities since the boys can work on this at home (with parent approval, of course!)

Another idea I had while driving home from school was a Presidential Wordle. Each boy can create a wordle of his assigned president's inauguration speech. This will help each student quickly see what was popular and important during the time of his assigned president. I just shared this with the teachers today and I think a few may use it. I found a link of the president inauguration speeches and the boys just need to copy the text from their president's speech, then paste it in to the wordle create page. The larger the words, the more the president used that word. Can't wait to see if anyone uses that idea and how the students react. The wordle pictured here is James Monroe's first inauguration speech turned into a wordle.