Monday, February 28, 2011

Colonial America

Our new unit in Lead 21 is all about Colonial America.  To supplement our reading series, I am going to use a great website called Liberty Kids.  It offers several activities for students.

Students can create a Colonial Newspaper.

Students can watch short videos on how things were different during Colonial Days.  It is called "Then and Now".

Students can explore and learn about colonial people, items and places in the Liberty Archive called "Who, What, and Where".  

With all of these great activities, my students will be busy this week!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Top 5 Friday Fun Sites

To wrap up my Top 5 Lists this week, I thought it was only appropriate to do a Friday Fun post.  Share these fun and educational sites with your students.  



Thursday, February 17, 2011

Top 5 Tips and Tricks

Here are the top 5 Tips and Tricks.  I get a lot of positive comments when I post a new trick or tip.  Anything that makes our jobs easier or saves us time is a great find!

You Tube  This tip is about using a tool called Clip Converter to download You Tube videos right onto your computer.  The videos can then be inserted into a Smart Notebook page.

Gmail Tips  Here are some time saving tips for Gmail.

Use Print Screen to Make a Screen Capture  This trick explains how to quickly capture what is on your screen.

Make a Shortcut to Your Desktop  Our students have shortcuts to Lead 21, our Wiki, our Weebly, and email.  Check out how to make shortcuts with this tip.  

Putting a video into Power Point  One of my most frequently asked questions is how do I put a video into Power Point?  Check out this trick.

Use the archive of my blog to check out other posts where I've shared a tip or trick.  

Is there something you would like to know how to do?  Just ask and perhaps your question will turn into my next weekly tip or trick!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Top Five Blogs That I Follow

I have a total of 168 blogs that I follow every day through my Google Reader.  I add new blogs every week, but try to be picky about what I follow to keep it manageable.  Today I am going to share my pick for the top 5 blogs that I just can't do without!  These are well known blogs that have received awards and are very popular.  These bloggers inspire me daily to keep my own blog going.

Free Technology for Teachers is written by Richard Byrne and read by a daily audience of 30,000 subscribers.  The purpose of this site is to share information about free resources that teachers can use in their classrooms.  Richard is a Google Certified Teacher.  Richard's full-time job is teaching US History and Civics in a high school in Maine.  

Cool Cat Teacher is written by Vicki Davis. Vicki Davis is a teacher and the IT director in Camilla, Georgia.  My favorite thing about Cool Cat Teacher is the Daily Education & Technology News for Schools.  This blog keeps me up-to-date on the latest technology news.

Teachers Love SMART Boards  is written by James (Jim) Hollis.  Jim is a professional development specialist for SMART Board users.  He lives in Aurora, Illinois.  Some of the teachers at MPES and Quest have taken his Teacher Online Training courses for the Smart Board, including myself.  Jim's blog gives ideas to use on the Smart Board as well as Notebook files that can be downloaded right onto your computer.  My favorite posts are those that show a new technique to try on the Smart Board, since I love creating new pages.  I have other blogs I follow for the Smart Board as well if you're interested.


Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day is written by Larry Ferlazzo.  He teaches Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced English Language Learners in Sacramento, California.  Larry is a guru at collecting websites in all areas in education.  I usually find myself spending a ridiculous amount of time on the Best of Series portion of his blog.   If I need resources for a lesson, I will find ideas on this blog.  Larry does an amazing job of keeping his blog current.  He also loves to share sites that cover the most recent world events and news.

How-To Geek To be honest, I don't know who writes this blog.  I do know that the author lives in Virginia.  This blog is purely for my techy side.  The purpose of the How-To Geek blog is to be the best source of How-To articles anywhere, with content easy enough for beginners but useful enough for geeks as well.  This site helps me to solve technical problems when I can't figure something out.  I have used the forum on this blog to ask questions.  Yes, it is a bit geeky, but I am ok with that.

Wow!  That was really tough to limit myself to only 5 blogs.  There are so many other amazing bloggers out there, I feel like I am cheating you all out of knowing the other 165 blogs that I follow.     

If you have a blog that you follow and really enjoy, please let us know about it by leaving a comment.  Thank you!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Top 5 Digital Story Telling Sites

Digital Storytelling is a great way for students to create online content and share it with others.  Our students have been successful using some these digital storytelling tools.

Bitstrips is a comic strip maker.  It is one of the best digital story telling tools I've seen.  I have written before about Bitstrips here. Below is an example of one of our student's Bitstrips on the topic of adversity.

Zooburst is a digital storytelling tool that lets anyone easily create his or her own 3D pop-up books.  But there's a lot more to Zooburst than that!  Check out the about page to see all that Zooburst allows you to do!

Here are two examples of Zooburst stories for you to look at.

My Story Maker is so simple to use.  The program walks students through writing a story step-by-step.  My Story Maker will write the story for you or you can write your own.  It is great for younger students.  

Storybird is unique in that the students pick an artwork theme and then use the pictures in that theme to write a story.  Drag and drop makes it easy to use.  Students add their own words to each page.  Teachers can create an educator account which allows for student passwords.  Here is what Storybird says about their site:

"Storybirds are short, art-inspired stories that are curiously fun to make, share, and read. Teachers love them because they inspire their most reluctant writers and readers and reward their most adventurous. Kids adore them because they feel empowered by the tools and supported by the social feedback. Sign up today for a free Class account!"

The unexpected founders of Google by LukeHoran on Storybird

Story Jumper is am impressive digital story maker.  It allows you to create a book using either the pictures supplied on the site, your own pictures or even your own drawings.  We used Story Jumper to write explorer reports earlier in the year.  Here is the earlier post about Story Jumper.

Click here to see this example of a Story Jumper.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Top 5 Education Tools

This is a list of tools that I can't live without as an educator.  These tools are especially helpful in our classroom for integrating technology into our curriculum.  --I have written about this blogging platform before here.  We use Kidblog every week.  We use it as an online journal as our students write about their thoughts, happenings, and feelings.  We have requirements that our students must follow such as writing at least 5 fifth-grade sentences and also commenting on 2 of their classmates' posts.  It just doesn't get any better than watching our students communicate with each other and having a window into each student's  mind every week.

You Tube  --I have written about You Tube here and here.  We use You Tube all the time to enhance our lessons.  Students naturally love to learn though videos.  Although You Tube is blocked to our students, I have found a way to download You Tube videos and insert them into Smart Notebook, which makes the videos directly available to students.   As you may remember, I have been creating online digital "textbooks" on our heath units on the human body.  You Tube videos have been a great addition to these lessons.  Similar to You Tube there is also School Tube and Teacher Tube.  Check them out!

Wikispaces   --I use Wikispaces as a place to host our bellwork every day of the week.  I also use it as a place to show off our student projects and class videos.  What I like about Wikispaces is that it is easy to use and can change from day to day.  I also like how easy it is to embed a video, digital story, podcast, picture, or just about any online-created-content.  You can check out our class wiki here.  You will see our activities for Monday - Friday that change from day to day and also a variety of student projects. 

Weebly   -- I've written before about Weebly here.  This is one of our favorite things.  We use Weebly as a place to store and share all of our websites with our students.  What I love about Weebly is that I have control over what students can see and have access to.  By just clicking "yes" or "no" when editing a page, I can decide if a page will show up on the Weebly site.  I can also save links to web sites under different pages from year to year.  For example, I have a page of links on Martin Luther King Jr., a page of links on Math fraction games, as well as a page of links on the U.S. states.  When we are ready to study these topics, all I have to do is make the page "live" again.  You're welcome to check out our Weebly site here.

Delicious   --This is a bookmarking site for saving, tagging and sharing links to websites.  I truly couldn't survive without my Delicious.  There has been talk about Yahoo selling or ending Delicious. If this happens, I will need to switch over to a different bookmarking site such as Diigo.  But, for now, I'm sticking with Delicious.  Every website I have ever wanted to save and share in on my Delicious site. I have a great network of educators that I share my Delicious sites with.  This means I can view and search through other people's saved links as well.  If I ever need to find a site on a certain topic, Delicious is a great way to search for one.  I easily spend 7 - 10 hours a week on Delicious.  

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday Fun

Happy Valentine's Day,
Well the classroom parties are today, anyway.  Here are a few resources we're using with our students.

We will be using some of the interactive activities on this site as well.

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Another Guest Blogger! - I'm liking this!

Thank you to Tiffany Oeftger for sharing today's website Kid's Health is a wonderful resource for all ages and levels!  I'm having our students use the site to learn about the tongue as we study the digestive system.  One thing I like is the fact that Kid's Health offers information on topics not often covered in other sites.  There are great interactive activities, online quizzes, word searches and more on the section for kids.  Here's what Tiffany has to say about this site:

The KidsHealth website ( provides information and resources for parents, teens, and kids on a variety of topics. If a student or parent is looking for information I am always able to find helpful advice on this site.


The kid's section is loaded with health topics and much more!

The parent section is full of information on health issues and parenting advice.

The teen section answers questions for teens in an appropriate way.

Thank you so much for sharing, Tiffany!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Guest Blogger- Stacey Warner

Today I have a guest posting on my blog.  Stacey Warner is going to share a Web 2.0 tool called Story Jumper.  I'd  like to thank Stacey for sharing!

Digital books are a great way to have students share the information that they have learned rather than just reciting a report or filling in the answers to test.  Recently, we used Story Jumper, an online book making site to create books about famous explorers from around the world.  Story Jumper allowed our students to use their creativity in making pages and pictures and that went along with their research information.  Our class also contains special education students and they were able to successfully create a project that was unique and that they could be proud of.   Story Jumper allowed our students to create a variety of backgrounds using the templates provided by the site.  Each student was able to manipulate the figures and backgrounds so that no two projects looked alike.  This site also allowed us to upload our own photos that were taken with a digital camera or even pictures and maps that were found on the internet.  The students had a blast creating these unique works of art while still demonstrating what they learned about the topic of explorers and exploration.  Finally, Story Jumper also gives you the option to have your final product printed and mailed to you.  This would be a great opportunity for any parent to showcase their child’s hard work and talents as an author and a creative student.   - Stacey 

Click here and here and here to view some of our students' explorers projects.
Just a quick note:  Stacey created a classroom edition account which allows a teacher to set up usernames and passwords for each student.  It also allows the teacher access to each student's project.  Story Jumper is free!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Record Your Students

Lately we've been busy making radio advertisements for our virtual stores.  The students wrote their own ads and had to rehearse them.  We worked on reading together in unison, using expression and pronunciation of words.  The best part was recording our ads using a free program called AudacityAudacity is easy to use and was fun for our students.  We then exported our recordings as an MP3 file.  I was then able to take the MP3 files and upload them to our class wiki.  The students did a great job.  You can check out our Radio Advertisements on our class wiki.  A few students had some extra time and were able to also record a song to go with their stores.
I highly recommend using Audacity as a recording device.  Our laptops have built in microphones, which made it easy to record and Audacity made it easy to edit our recordings. If you would like to know more about using Audacity or setting up a wiki, I'd be happy to assist!


Monday, February 7, 2011

Even Grandma Can Be Techy!

Dear Students (and Teachers),
If you sometimes feel tired answering basic computer questions frequently asked by your mom and dad (and maybe your grandma), then you’ll love this new site called Teach Parents Tech. Created by Google, this one-page site helps you send basic how-to videos in one email so that your parents can learn by watching.  

OK, let's be honest.  I actually needed to watch some of these videos myself to answer a few of my own questions!  Videos like these are very useful even for somewhat techy people like you and I!  


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snow Day Special

It's a snow day for us today.  So here are a few sites for you to peruse on your day off.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Safe Ways to View You Tube

Last week I shared a blog post about using You Tube videos to enhance your lessons and to host your videos online.  As we all know, You Tube does have some distracting advertisements, additional videos and sometimes inappropriate comments.  So I would like to share two ways to view You Tube videos in a way that eliminates the ads, sidebar and comments.

The first way is called View Pure.  It is very easy to use.  All you need to do is copy and paste the url of the You Tube video you would like to see and then click on Create.

Here is how a video is displayed on View Pure:

The second way to view a You Tube video is called SafeShare TV.  This site works much the same as the previous one.  You will paste the url of the You Tube video into the site and click "Generate Safe Link". 

 Then SafeShare will give you a new url to copy and paste for safer viewing.

Another thing that SafeShare allows you to do is crop a video if you only want to share a portion of a You Tube video.  This is also very easy to do.  Just click below the new url and choose where to start and stop your video.  

I hope that these two sites make it easier for you to share You Tube videos with your students.