Tuesday, December 21, 2010

This Week's Tip

How Well Do You Know Your Remote?

Here is a quick overview of some useful buttons on your remote for your projector.  There are a few buttons that will make your job much easier.  

One is called Pic-mute. The function of this button is to turn off the image and sound from the projector for a short period of time.  It does not shut off the projector, but rather just mutes it like the mute button on a TV.  Your screen will go blank.  To resume the image and sound, just push the Pic-mute button again.  This is useful when you want to stop using the Smart Board for a short period of time without turning off the projector.

Another button is the Freeze button.  It will freeze whatever is being projected onto your screen and allows you as the teacher to do other things on your computer without the students seeing what your are doing.  The picture is "frozen" and remains that way until you click Freeze again.  I find this useful if there are directions or information on the Smart Board, but I need to check AR, Gmail, or another document. 

There is another button that is useful.  This is the Magnify button that makes the image on your screen larger or smaller.   Too many times the image on the Smart Board is too small for the students to see.  Rather than trying to increase the font or enlarging the image, the magnify button will zoom in on the screen.

To see all of the buttons available and what each button does, see this link to the owner's manual for the MPES and Quest projectors.  

Monday, December 20, 2010

Project Based Learning

I love this video created by Common Craft.  It explains Project Based Learning in a very simplistic way!

Stacey and I have the critical thinking, collaboration and communication components built in our projects, but the area our students have the most difficulty with is critical thinking!  They love to collaborate.  Communicating is natural for some of our students and a challenge for others in our room.  But critical thinking is just plain difficult for our students developmentally.  Any ideas on how to improve critical thinking skills are welcome.

One more note:  I keep hearing that if the teacher is working harder than the students, something is wrong.  Students should be doing most of the work and the thinking.  This is what I am working towards as an educator.  I want to see the students doing the critical thinking and not me thinking for them!  Your thoughts on how best to make this happen are welcome.  Please share if something works for you.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tis the Season of Giving

Here is a site called "Got Free Cards" that allows your students to make Christmas cards (or any type of card for that matter).  It is simple to use.  Students can add a photo or image to the card.  Students can add stickers to their card and change the text.  They can choose fonts and colors.  Printing out the cards is also easy.  I chose single sided.  

We plan to use this site to create and send Christmas cards to our friends and family.  

I think your students would enjoy using "Got Free Cards". 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Are You Interested in Twitter?

One question I get asked often is, "Where do you get all of your ideas and resources?"  Well, one of the best places to get ideas and resources is from Twitter.  I follow some pretty amazing educators from all over the world.  I also follow some great leaders in education.  Twitter is also about sharing what you know as well.

Some of the teachers in our district will soon be starting a Twitter group for Ripon teachers.  I plan on joining this group.  

So, my question to all of the followers of this blog is this:  Are you interested in joining Twitter and learning how to communicate and share with other educators?  

I am offering to teach anyone interested the basics of Twitter.  I would like to do this over Christmas break.  First I would like to know how many people, if any, are interested.  If possible, I would like to do this informally at my home in Fond du Lac or at MPES.  We would gather on a day that works for most people.
If you are interested, please fill out the survey below and I will get back to you soon.

Let's see if there is any interest.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

This Week's Tip

Watch this video to learn an easy and useful tip.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Rhyming Dictionaries

Check out these great sites for Rhyming Dictionaries!  Our students used these this morning to write poetry about winter and snow.  They found the sites to be easy to use and very useful!

 Rhyme it

Write Express

Write Express

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Record Yourself Easily!

Click the arrow below to listen to this podcast about Vocaroo!  

Click here to go to Vocaroo.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Polar Express Resources

Here are some great resources for the Picture Book The Polar Express:

Download a Smart Notebook file here!

The official Polar Express site!  There are a lot of fun things to do here!

Have Lou Diamond Phillips read The Polar Express to your students here.

This site is not about The Polar Express, but it is a great site for sending a personalized message to a young person from Santa Claus.  I made a video for my son, Robert, and he absolutely loved it!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Jackpot of Christmas Resources

Here is a site that has tons and tons of Christmas resources. It is called Steph Westwood's LiveBinders collection.  This site is created using a Livebinder. These are becoming quite popular. If you've never used a Livebinder before, here are some basics.

LiveBinders allow you to organize all your websites and web-based resources in a virtual “three ringed binder".

I like LiveBinders because it:
  • is free (for 100MB of storage).
  • is easy to use.
  • allows you to organise a collection of websites.
  • is an easy way to share sites with students or colleagues.
If you would like to create your own LiveBinder, simply visit http://livebinders.com/ and watch the video for a full explanation. I haven't created a LiveBinder yet, but I would like to!


How to Use Steph Westwood’s LiveBinders collection:

  1. Visit http://livebinders.com/play/play_or_edit/39128
Be patient, it takes a minute to load.

  1. You will notice there are tabs up the top of the page. Click on the category you are interested in.
  2. Subcategories of different websites will now appear at the top of the page. Click on these to preview different websites. Click on the link if you want to go directly to the website.

Have fun with Steph Westwood's Livebinder and enjoy all of these great resources!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Save a Tree- Use a Computer Sticky Note!

Here is a great tip! Watch this video!

Online Advent Calendars

Tomorrow starts the countdown to Christmas.  Why not use an online advent calendar with your students.  There are quite a few out there to choose from.  Here are three that I found that look good.

Advent Calendar #1 -Click Here

Advent Calendar #2 - Click Here

Advent Calendar #3 - Click Here

I have not used these with students before and I have not been able to check them out since I'm writing this post prior to December 1st, which is when the sites become usable.  So check them out first before you use them.  Let me know if you find other advent calendars online.

Have fun counting down with your students!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

This Website Is a Real Gem!

Today's web site is amazing!  It's called Teaching Gems.  I found a ton of things for my students to use on this site.  Here is a description of the site
 Teaching Gems is a searchable database of over 1000 of the most engaging, interactive animations, tutorials, learning games, virtual labs and demonstrations freely accessible on the Internet in a wide range of academic subjects.

Right now we are studying microscopes and cells in science.  Check out these great interactives that I found on Teaching Gems

Here is one virtual microscope.

Here is another virtual microscope.

Here and here are great interactives on animal and plant cells.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg!  The more I explore, the more I find.  I just love finding gems like this!  

Enjoy Teaching Gems!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tip of the Week- Opening a Link in a New Window

Today's tip is about opening a link in a new window and also how to tab between different applications that are opened on your start bar.  Check it out!

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Voyage of the Mayflower

I'm having my students follow the voyage of the Mayflower on this Scholastic site.  The students can tour the ship and even take the journey.  I like how Scholastic has video, audio and images to make this such a fun webcast.  Play it on your smart board or share the link with your students.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thanksgiving Fun!

Here are some great sites for your classroom on Thanksgiving!  Thank you to James Hollis and his amazing site for all of these resources!

Too Many Turkeys - Find the turkey with a bow tie.

Animated Jigsaw Puzzle

Virtual Field Trip

Funny Fill In

Quiz Your Noodle

Turkey Slide Puzzle

Tip of the Week- Make a Short Cut onto your Desktop

Here is a quick tip on how to create a short cut to a website and place it on your desktop.  Sorry for the bad humor!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Really Easy Collage Maker

Photovisi offers a collage maker that is super easy and fun.  It is hosted by Facebook, but you do not need to be on Facebook to use it.  I made the collage below in about 2 minutes. I could choose the layout, move my pictures around and even add text.  When I had finished it asked if I wanted to share my collage on Facebook.  I just clicked the X to close the window and then I downloaded the picture right onto my computer.  I think this would be a lot of fun for students to make collages about a project they did or on a content area topic.  The best part about Photovisi is that there is no log in or registration needed!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Books Online that Students Can Listen to!

Mee Genius is a wonderful site that has online books with pictures and words that are read out loud to students.  What I really like is that they are free right now.  Most are fairy tales that younger students will enjoy.  For the older students, these work great for teaching basic story elements that can then be transfered to other novels or literature.  These would also be great for a literature study on fairy tales and fractured tales.

Another great is a site called Storyline Online.  This site has video of stories being read out loud by famous celebrities.  I watched the story called My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother read by Melissa Gilbert.  It was such a great story with a lesson to learn.  These are great for students of all elementary ages.  I am going to show some of these during milk break and reading class.  There are even activities to go with each story.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Add, Subtract, Multiply or Divide!

This is a useful site called FactDash.  The nice thing about FactDash is that is allows the player to set up the exact type of practice they need.  Take a look at these screen shots:

 Choose your operation or combination of operations.

 Choose the numbers to work on.

 Choose whether to be timed or not, and for how long.

To answer a problem, just click on the digit(s) and click on "ok".

 When you are done see your results and print out the results if you'd like!
Special Note:  students can type their name in before printing!
I like the idea of students printing out or showing the teacher their results.  It holds them accountable for trying hard and not just guessing or goofing around.  I also like that each student can set the drill to work on their particular needs.  Let me know what you think of FactDash!

Janet also shared this site with me this week.  It is great for learning and practicing your times tables.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

We Love This Spelling Site!

Kids Spell is a really nice site for spelling words.  What I like about this site is that the teacher can type in the spelling words and then copy the URL.  Then the teacher can share the URL with their students.  When the students go to the URL, they can play games and activities with their spelling words.  If the teacher bookmarks the URL, the saved spelling list and games will always be there.

If you would like to see the list and games I created for our students click here.  This takes you to our Weebly site.

Another great site to practice and play games with spelling words is SpellingCity.com

Monday, November 8, 2010

An Easy Way to Share Your Sites With Students

Watch these tutorials on how to share sites easily with students.


What's Great About Weebly:

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Fun

My students are addicted to the game Wake Up the Box.  The idea is to place objects in the correct place so that other objects move and wake up the box character.  Students work through each level as they become more challenging.  In the first two levels, the game is easy and it shows them exactly what to do.  But by the time they reach levels 5 and up, there are no more hints and students really have to think!  A quick warning, sometimes there is an ad at the beginning of the game.  It is always appropriate and students can click on Skip Ad, so no worries.  I'm predicting your students will LOVE Wake Up the Box!

And as if that isn't enough fun, there is a Wake up the Box 2!

Wake Up the Box belongs to a site called Free Web Arcade, which offers hundreds of games.  I haven't had time to check out any others.  If you find another game worth sharing, let me know and I'll blog about it.

Let me know your thoughts on Wake Up the Box!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Virtual Manipulatives

I just came across this site and I think it is amazing!  It has every kind of possible manipulative available to put up on your Smart Board.  You can choose the grade level (PreK - 8) and choose all kinds of backgrounds.  I could tell more about this site, but I think you need to take a look for yourself!  Let me know what you think!  

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Jigsaw Puzzle Site

This jigsaw puzzle site is easy to use! It is called Jigsaw Planet.
I uploaded this image into the site. I then created a puzzle. I could choose the number of pieces,the shape of the pieces, and whether to allow rotation. I then copied the embed code and placed it onto this blog. You can click on "image" to see the picture, if you click on "ghost" it puts the image lightly in the background. There is also a button called "scatter" that mixes up the puzzle pieces again. You need to have Java installed on your computer to display these puzzles. You can get Java here.

I used Jigsaw Planet last week to introduce a topic in reading and placed a puzzle on our class wiki. These puzzles also work well on the smart board.  Our students love it!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Text to Speech Site

There is an easy text to speech site that is worth taking a look at.  It is called vozMe.  It is really easy to use.  You just copy and paste any text into the box and click on create mp3.  Then vozMe will speak whatever is in the box.  I could see students listening to what they have typed for a story or an assignment.  They could listen to a word they don't know.  

I could also see students creating an mp3 file to download and use in a project.  To do this I created an mp3, then I just right clicked on download mp3 and then went to "save video as."  I downloaded the sound file to my desktop and then I inserted the sound into Smart Notebook 10.  It worked easily!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Easiest Blogging Site I've Ever Seen!

This video explains how to set up blogs for students at kidblog.org.  It is the easiest, simplest blogging site I have ever found.  We are going to use this site for blogging about our weekends as well as blogging about our AR books.

One thing I forgot to mention in the video is that the settings tab allows you to change the privacy of your blogs.  It is set up automatically to be completely private and secure.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Comic Strip Creator!

Bitstrips is one of the best online Comic Strip makers I know of. If you plan to have students use this for an assignment, you will first need to give them time to play around with creating characters and all of the fun tools. It is a pretty involved Web 2.0 tool!

If you are looking for a simpler form of a comic strip maker, try this one on the  Read Write Think site.  Our students used this the other day and were able to create a comic strip in under 15 minutes!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Two Neat Ways to Practice Vocabulary or Spelling

These two sites are great for introducing vocabulary or practicing spelling words.

First is a site called Dotty Dots.  Type in the word you want and click go.  Then move your mouse over the dots and the dots go crazy and scramble all over the place.  Take the mouse away and the dots magically go back to where they belong.  We're going to use this in spelling.  We will spell the word, make the dots go crazy while students spell the word on their slates, then let the word go back to normal to see if we spelled the word correctly.

DARN!  Word Mix is no longer available!  Thank you Janet for making me aware of this!
Next is a site called Word Mix.  Type in a word and the letters will be put into tiles that can be arranged by clicking and dragging them.  Then type in the word and see if you were correct.

Monday, October 25, 2010

How to Create a Google Form

This tutorial explains how to create a Google Form which can be used to send out a survey or to quiz students.

Two Fantastic Google Apps!

This is a series of posts all about Google Forms and Google Sites.  I hope you find these apps to be useful in the classroom!  Please let me know your thoughts or questions!

I plan to have future posts about other Google Apps for Education.

View the Results and More about Google Sites

This tutorial is about seeing the results of your survey or quiz and also gives a little more information about Google Sites.

How to Create a Google Site

This tutorial shows how to create a Google Site and insert your Google form into the site!

Tech Survey

Here is my tech survey!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Stop Animation Movies Using Pivot

This is one of the best free downloads available. It is a stop animation movie maker called Pivot. I had our students make Pivot movies at the beginning of the year. The assignment was to create a video and they had to use the stick figure as well as incorporate their name. They figured out the rest! It was so much fun! You have to play with Pivot quite a bit to figure out all that it can do!  If you are interested in Pivot, I'd be happy to show your more!  You can download Pivot here.

Here are 3 of our students' Pivot movies.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Activity TV

You have to check out Activity TV.  This site is amazing and it lends really well to project based learning!  Students can find out how to do all kinds of different things including origami, juggling, magic, science projects, crafts and on and on!  Each activity has a TV program to watch and print outs as well.  I could try to explain this site in more detail, but honestly the easiest way to get to know what Activity TV is all about is to check it out for yourself.  I could see students learning how to do something on this site and then sharing what they have learned with their peers.  I think Activity TV has a lot of potential!  What do you think?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Special Request

Hi everyone,
I had special request to show how to put a video into Power Point 2010.  So here is a tutorial showing how to do just that!
Hope it helps!
Let me know if you have questions!

Halloween Resources

I thought I would put together a list of Halloween Resources for you to use with your Smart Board or students.

First is a great site full of clip art, games, puzzles, informational activities, create your own activities, Notebook 10 resources, and sound files.  This site is great for all kinds of Halloween resources.

Next is a neat pumpkin carving site!  I love that this can be done on the Smart board and then when you are done carving, turn out the lights and click "Done".  The pumpkin glows!!!

The last site is really fun.  You can import pictures of people to put their faces on Halloween characters.  You can choose from playing a video or making a photo.  I made a video of our family and embedded it below for you to see.  This was way too much fun!  I could see putting some of your students' pictures into a video for fun!  Be careful, only the things marked FREE are available unless you sign up for a membership.

Our Family Video!

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Special Request

Good Morning Everyone,
I had a special request to show how to take some Flip videos and put them all together into one video. This is a multi-step process that takes a little time and knowledge, but it can be done. To help with this I decided to make some video tutorials. The first tutorial shows how to export Flip videos from the Flip video software.The second video shows how to convert the videos to a different format. The third video shows how to use the program called Windows Movie Maker. I realize not everyone needs to know how to do this, but I'm hoping others will take a look and venture into the land of video editing! I will be happy to help anyone who needs assistance.

Thanks for taking a look if you're interested.

P.S.  Here is the link to a free converter called Format Factory.

Step 1: Exporting Flip Videos

This tutorial shows how to export Flip videos from the Flip video software.

Step 3 - Windows Movie Maker

This tutorial shows how to use Windows Movie Maker.

Step 2 - Converting the Videos

This tutorial shows how to convert the videos from MP4 to AVI.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Webonauts Teaches Internet Safety

Here is a site for your students to try.  It is called Webonauts.  This site comes from PBS Kids.  Its purpose it to teach students about Internet Safety and about being a responsible citizen.  Here what PBS says about Webonauts:

"Webonauts Internet Academy is a web original game from PBS KIDS GO! that gives kids 8 to 10 years old an opportunity to have some fun while exploring what it means to be a citizen in a web-infused, information-rich world.  It is an engaging experience on its own but becomes all the more powerful when parents and teachers use game play as a springboard for conversations about media literacy and citizenship in the 21st Century."

Our students explored this site and really found it engaging.  Students have to problem solve and make good choices in order to work their way through the Webonauts Academy.  We had our student make a username and password so that they could stop and continue Webonauts when we had time.  We first discussed safe ways to make a username and password before they started.  All usernames and passwords had to be approved by the teacher and written down on a sticky label attached to their planners.

I would try Webonauts yourself before using it with your students.