Friday, August 26, 2011


Our classrooms all have laptop carts and I've been looking for a way to organize sites our students use on a regular basis. Through the power of twitter, I found Symbaloo.  Symbaloo is a simple start page that allows you to organize and access favorite sites on one page. It has a great look for kids (as well as adults). Symbaloo allows you to create various webmixes, so I created one for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades as well as a subject area for the main subjects. Our school uses Google Apps, so using Google Sites, I create a home page for each grade level. I made that page include the webmix with more general sites (our school homepage, AR, IXL, etc.) I then created a Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Keyboarding, and Just for Fun site for each grade level. Click here to see our 2nd grade example.
Symbaloo is very user friendly. You can increase or decrease the size of your webmix. You can personalize the icons for each individual square. You can add or delete sites on your webmix any time. You can also embed it in another site, email the link to anyone, keep it private, or share with the world. 
I have shared this with our teachers and they are excited about how easy it will be for their students to access web sites. We also plan on sharing the google site for each grade level with parents so they can make it their homepage on home computers.
Symbaloo is free, but there are paid accounts as well.  Check it out! I think you will be pleased.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Robotics Using Lego Mindstorms

I presented on Robotics Using Lego Mindstorms at the Martin Institute Summer Conference. Here is the link to my presentation. Also, click here for the conference wiki. Many presenters shared their slides and handouts on this wiki. Great stuff!

Monday, May 2, 2011


Newseum is a great resource for social studies, government, and history classes. If you click on the Today's Front Pages link, you will see 760 front pages from newspapers in 76 countries. You can click on the image of a paper to view it larger. Not only are there today's front pages, but also archived pages and Top Ten (which shows the top 10 headlines from that day).
The Newseum keeps an archive of national and international front pages that chronicle events of historical significance....topics range from Super Bowl wins, natural disasters, weddings, elections, political events and more.
There is even an app for the iPhone and iPad!
Just a note, you probably want to preview the site before showing it live to students in case some of the headlines are controversial or inappropriate.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Flash Cards by Study Stack

EduTechSmith shared this via twitter this week, so I wanted to share it with you...
Study Stack is a great website to create virtual flash cards. You have to create a free account to use this site.
You can find flashcards to study or create your own flashcards. There are other activities such as matching, crosswords, hangman, scrambled words, and bug chase.
There is also an app to put on your iPod or cell phone to allow you to study flashcards anytime and any place. Flashcards can also be printed to use when studying.
I searched for several books that the students at our school read in class and most of them already had flash cards created for them that the students can use for reviewing vocabulary. If you don't like the standard cards that appear, scroll down to choose a different activity like the ones mentioned above.
Students do not have to be logged in to use flash cards that are already created.
Share this with your students...why have them create cards or struggle studying when these resources are already created for them? The parents and the students will be so happy you shared this with them!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Primary Wall

@plnaugle shared Primary Wall via twitter and after looking at it, I decided to share it on my blog.
This is a great resource that is super easy to use. As you can see above, it's a sticky note site to use with your students. Several of my teachers have used Wallwisher, but we've had some difficulty with them saving and loading, so we are always looking for similar sites.
Basically, you create a site, share the link with your students, and give them a question or something to comment about on a sticky note they create. One thing I like about Primary Wall is you don't have to approve each sticky (although that is a nice feature sometimes.)
This has lots of possibilities in the classroom. Have students post a sticky note on Monday morning about something they did over the weekend, have students post a sticky note on questions they may have during a lesson you are teaching-review their questions at the end of your teaching time, have students post a sticky note if they have a question about homework that can be discussed the following day. Those are just a few....if you use a site with sticky notes with your class, please post a comment to share you ideas with other educators!

Monday, April 4, 2011


Let's face it, most students today have heard of Facebook....even my 5 year old daughter who will start kindergarten in August asks me if I am going to put her picture on Facebook and even my MOM is on Facebook. is a great site with lots of tools for teachers to use with their students. One tool they recently created was Fakebook (and as their site states, NOT affiliated with Facebook or any other social networking site.) This is a great activity to use for students to create a Fakebook account for a character from a book, a person from history, or a biography report about someone.
Here is an example of William Shakespeare:

Fakebook allows teachers and students to create imaginary profile pages for study purposes. Use Fakebook to chart the plot of a book, the development of a character, a series of historical events, the debates and relationships between people, and more!
You can save your work and edit it later in case class time runs out!

If you have used this or plan to use it, please leave a comment with your lesson idea so we can learn from each other!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

innovatEd Event

innovatEd is a professional development opportunity for educators being held on Thursday, April 7 from 4:30-8:00pm. It's being held at Presbyterian Day School in Memphis, so we are hoping for a great turnout from Memphis area educators, but all sessions will be streamed live, so no matter where you live, you can benefit from this event!

There are already 50 people registered to attend, so we have just added a third presentation room. You can check out the presentations here. (Room 3 info will be filled in soon.)

This is a combined effort of Philip Cummings, Akevy Greenblatt, Melissa Smith, and myself. We wanted to provide a professional development opportunity for teachers in Memphis and around the world. The focus is innovation in education....what can we do in our classrooms to keep the students engaged and interested while covering our curriculum.

Presentations will be 20 minutes long. There will be people skyped in to present as well as live presenters. We still have room if you are interested in presenting.  Click here to fill out the presenting proposal form.

We hope you will tune in online or join us if you live in the Memphis area. If you live in Memphis, a pizza dinner will be provided by Presbyterian Day School from 4:30-4:55 during registration.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Big Huge Labs (Ideas for Classroom Use)

I know I have blogged about this site before, but as I was showing it to a teacher today, I was reminded why I love it so much!
Big Huge Labs is such a wonderful site for teachers and students.

Here are a few ideas on ways to use their site.

1. Cube-upload 6 images and you can make a cube (the size to fit in the palm of your hand) with lots of uses. For example, upload scenes from a book and have the students tell what is going on during that scene, why they liked or didn't like it, create a different ending than the picture shown, etc. Or, create jpegs asking questions for your cube such as "What is your favorite book and why?", "Where is your favorite vacation location and why?", etc. This can get small groups talking quickly just by rolling the cube!

2. Motivator Poster-create a motivational type poster by uploading your picture and adding text to it. These don't have to be the usual "TEAMWORK" type motivational poster....get creative and use it for other uses such as vocabulary words...upload a picture that shows the meaning of the word, then make the large word the vocabulary word and the tagline under it can be a sentence showing the correct use of the word. You could also upload a book cover a student has read, make the large word a word they choose to describe the book, then the tagline can be a sentence to describe why someone should read the book.

3. Magazine Cover-let your students get creative and create a magazine cover all about them! Or how about making one for their mom or dad for mother's or father's day? Simply upload a picture of the student with their parent and have the student create headlines about their parents. Another idea would be to upload a book cover as the picture and the headlines on the magazine cover can be persuading students to read that book.

4. Trading Card-create a "baseball" type card for students in your room. They can put a title, subtitle, and description of themselves for a beginning of the year "Get to know you" activity. Use it for a character in a book. Have the student illustrate the character and write a description of the character for the trading card. We have also used this for students to create a trading card on an assigned President. It could also be used to create trading cards for different locations throughout the them around your room so students can learn about various places like a virtual field trip.

5. Captioner-don't have lots of money to spend on comic software? No worries! Just upload your picture and have students add thought or conversation bubbles to them easily with this feature.

Big Huge Labs has tons of choices for you to use with your photos. There is also an educator account which allows you to use the site without ads and allows students to sign in without an email address!

If you use this site with your students or to create things in your classroom, please leave a comment to share your great ideas with everyone!

Monday, March 14, 2011


If you haven't seen LiveBinders, there are great uses for this web tool in education. Basically, LiveBinders is a FREE three ring binder for the web. You can collect resources and organize them neatly and easily. You can create multiple tabs across the page with links to various websites or PDFs. This is a great way to "go green" and save paper (and trees!) If you are presenting, LiveBinders is a great way to share your resources. It's also a great way to share resources with others in your grade level, school, district, or globally.

Here are a few that I either saw on twitter or from the featured livebinders on their site:
Tsunami and Volcano Resources
iPads in Schools
QR Codes in Education
An Educator's Guide to Twitter
Amazing Animal Webcams

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Mac Tip! ClipMenu

A member of my PLN, Jimmy Anderson, shared this with me a while ago and I think it's worth sharing!

I am a mac user....always have been and always will be. When Jimmy sent me the link to this free program, I thought it would possibly be useful....little did I know how much I would use it!!

The program is ClipMenu, a clipboard manager for Mac OS X. Basically, ClipMenu manages your clipboard history. You can record 8 clipboard types, from plain text to an image.
To paste a recorded item, you just use the pop up menu on your menu bar and select an item to paste into your document or post.
I have mine set to remember the last 20 things, and it's very helpful!
There are other preferences you can check out, but I highly recommend you download it and start using it. I think you will see how much of a help it can be when you are able to paste more than the last thing you copied to your clipboard.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Skype in the Classroom (Beta Version)

I was excited this week to find out about Skype in the Classroom.  After reading their site I was excited to sign up for this directory.

"Skype in the classroom is a free directory for teachers who want to use Skype to bring education to life in their classrooms. Join today to share resources, chat with teachers and even pair classes. Start by creating a profile, then explore the directory to find teachers and resources that match your interests. You can then share inspiring links, videos and tips with other teachers."

Basically, this is going to help you 1) connect with other teachers, 2) share teaching resources, and 3) build a list of favorites.

For more info about Skype in the Classroom, click here.

Register today, so we can grow our Personal Learning Network and help connect students from all over the world!!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Voki is a free service that allows you to create personalized speaking avatars and use them on your blog, profile, and in email messages.
Voki is a great tool for students to use to create a talking avatar. We have used Vokis with third graders doing a biography book report. They had to create a Voki of the character from their biography book. They stated facts about their character and ended with a "headline" about their character.
You are able to personalize the avatar's hair, skin color, clothes, and more! Many famous people are already created for you to use or you can personalize it in your own way.
Voki allows you to add your own voice via phone, microphone, text to speech or by uploading a file. Your have 60 seconds to record.
The Voki can be embedded into a website easily by copying the code. You can also email it to parents or friends!
Click here for FAQ about Voki. There is also a lesson plan database for using Voki located here.
If you have used Voli with your students, please leave a comment to share your ideas with everyone!

Monday, February 14, 2011


Scratch is a programming language that makes it easy for students to create their own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art -- and share their creations on the web.

Scratch is available as a free download for Mac and PC computers.

Scratch is developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab.

Students can animate their own stories and games to enhance classroom curriculum. As young people create and share Scratch projects, they learn important mathematical and computational ideas, while also learning to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively.

Scratch projects can be put on the gallery and students can "remix" others' creations.

Here are more resources to help you learn the basics of Scratch:
Classroom 2.0 wiki Scratch page
Learn Scratch website
MIT Scratch Support

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My StoryMaker

This is a great site to help kids create a story!
My StoryMaker lets you control characters and objects - and creates sentences for you! Once you are done with your story, you can print it out. You cannot go back and edit a story once you have ended it but, if you click "yes" when asked to share it with others, you can print it out again by entering the magic number it gives you in the box on the right. Stories are saved for one month...but you can save them as a PDF to keep forever.

I saw this site from a tweet from @Mray29. It was showcased at #TCEA.
I think this site has great potential for uses in elementary classrooms. Students select the scenery, characters, objects, and actions the characters do in their story. StoryMaker creates sentences for you or you can delete those and enter your own creations. It is VERY user friendly!
Check it out when you have time! If you have great ideas on how to use this with students, please comment below to share those ideas with others!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Arthur Comic Creator

This is a great site to use to create a comic based on the Arthur series by Marc Brown. It is web based and has the Arthur characters at the top to drag into your comic. There are other options to personalize your comic such as backgrounds, other objects to add, and conversation bubbles. This is a very easy site to use, so it could be used with younger students keeping it simple, or with older students and allow them to add various objects other than characters.

If you want to give your students a story starter, simply click the Story Starter button and click the lever. This gives your comic a background and characters and your students have to create a story about it.

This site also has a save option which saves your comic as a JPG file and allows your students to print their comic as well.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Guess the Wordle

This site, Guess the Wordle, by @jenwagner, is a great site to use with your students every day. A new wordle is posted online every Monday-Friday. Each wordle will have a topic and the students must figure out the topic for the day's wordle.

Each wordle in January deals with vocabulary. Each day you will see synonyms for grade level words. One way to use this tool is to have it displayed as students arrive each morning, then work with your class to find the answer! To find the answer to the wordle, simply hover your arrow over the wordle and the answer will appear. Challenge your students to think about the answer for the wordle before giving up!

This site really encourages students to think! Another great feature is that Jen archives past Guess the Wordle challenges, so if your students love it (and I think they will), you have more to choose from than the one for today!

Give it a try! You can start Monday with your class! Then, challenge your students to create wordles for their classmates to guess.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

ZooBurst (Create an Online Pop-up Book)

Have you tried Zooburst? If not, try it out! I think your students will love this tool! ZooBurst is a digital storytelling tool that lets anyone easily create his or her own 3D pop-up books.
Below is a sample book that I created in about 10 minutes to show what I did this summer. You can search for graphics to include in your book, which really helps save time. Each page can have text and you can make the characters (or clipart) have text on the free account or record your voice for a character (or clipart) on the paid account
There is a premium account, but the free account allows you to create 10 free books with 10 pages each, upload your own artwork or jpgs,  and more. For $50 a year, you can create student accounts (you create their user name and password, so it doesn't look like the students need an email address to use this site if you purchase the upgrade.) Check out the features for all account types here. A school license is coming soon that is $30 with a minimum of 5 accounts purchased.
Check out ZooBurst and see if you can create a book to introduce a unit, a story, or tell students all about you! The possibilities are endless! You can even sign up for the free account and let your students create a book using your login. If you create one, feel free to post the link to it in the comment section below.
One more plus, you can control if the book is public or private and they can easily be embedded into a class website or blog!
Happy ZooBursting!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Free Online Conference-Jan. 8th


Just wanted to let everyone know of an online conference  on January 8th that you may be interested in checking out.

It's the Reform Symposium.

Here is a description:
This year the conference will focus on interactive presentations that help teachers with creating engaging classrooms and lessons, building relationships with students, improving literacy, working with interactive whiteboards, and much more!  We look forward to 2 keynote speakers, 18 presentations, an open discussion on classroom management, a panel discussion on parental engagement, a mentor program, and an open lab for hands-on support in helping you continue your professional development in online educator communities.

Here is the schedule (choose your time zone):

Lots of the sessions look great! If you have some time Saturday, check it out!
Have a great weekend!

Great blog post with MLK Sites

I saw this on twitter and wanted to post it in case anyone was looking for sites for Martin Luther King day. This is a blog post by Larry Ferlazzo. It has a lot of sites that you may want to look at to use for studying about Dr. King and his life.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Calendar Activities

This is a neat site I ran across today with calendar activities for classroom use.

It's by ReadWriteThink, which it you haven't checked out their site, I recommend giving it some time!

Here is the description from the calendar activities site:
Not your everyday calendar, here you can find important events in literary history, authors' birthdays, and a variety of holidays, all with related activities and resources that make them more relevant to students. View by day, by week, or by month.

This could be used to share a fact each day with your students or have a student research the site on interesting things that happened during the week in history to "report" back to the class. Students could also research things that happen on their birthday.

Have other ideas on using this site? Post a comment so everyone can benefit! :)