Friday, January 31, 2014

Technologies We've Been Using Lately

Here are the sites our students have used or will be using this month in our classroom.  We are using technology to promote authentic learning and problem solving.  As always, the technology is being integrated into learning. 

Educanon is very quickly becoming one of my favorite tools for assessing student understanding while viewing a YouTube video.  This is an amazing site!

Here is my latest creation for Black History Month.  I love that I can assign this to my students and then watch as they answer the questions.  The students love the instant feedback.  

Our students created book reviews on a Google Document.  We then created QR codes linked to their book reviews and displayed them on a bulletin board.

This is the easiest word cloud maker around.  Our students used this site with their spelling words.  They rolled a dice and then typed the word the number of times on the dice.  They then chose the settings they desired and created a really cool word cloud.  

Blended Learning using Schoology with an online course about our planet will be a big hit in our classroom.  Class discussions, quizzes, albums, badges  and more!  At the end of the course students will be creating a presentation using either Glogster, Google Presentations or Prezi.  This will be a technology rich online environment!

Brain Pop - We will be spending some time with Tim and Moby.  They have a huge amount of videos on the Earth and environment:

This should be a great month in our classroom with all of the technology being integrated and consumed by our students.  

Many times people will ask me how I find time to do it all.  Here is my secret:  I try to incorporate one new tool each month.  Last month is was Kahoot.  This month it is eduCanon.  The other sites in the list above are all things I have done before and I'm familiar with.  

Here's wishing you a technology rich week where the learning drives your instruction and the technology is naturally integrated.  In other words, "Don't teach technology, let the technology help with learning."

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Steps to a Classroom Redesign - Time to Jump into New Territory

We would love this classroom.
My co-teacher and I have started a classroom redesign project. Our goal is to transform our classroom into an environment that promotes 21st century learning and mobile technologies.  But also to create an environment that is comfortable.  Our focus has been the students, their voices, their ideas and their needs.  Here are the steps of our redesign:

Step 1- 
I have been inspired by many different blogs and resources to help us acquire ideas of how to go about redesigning our classroom.  The biggest inspiration came from my good friend, Naomi Harm, who is spreading the word to school districts about classroom design through her company, Innovative Educator Consulting.  
Here is a list of some of the resources that have been useful:


To start, I should mention that we have a very normal classroom. Normal size, normal setup, normal cement brick walls. 

Here is our classroom before the redesign started:

Step 2 - Get ideas from the students on what would help them to become better learners and producers in the classroom.  We are still adding to this chart each week.

Step 3 - 
Clean and de-clutter!  This was not easy since I have been teaching for 24 years, but my co-teacher was a huge help and I felt so refreshed after we cleaned each section of the room.  Here are some before and after pics:

Cluttered area above our cupboards: 

We added lights, clings with inspiring words, pom poms,
 and a stand up station along the counter top.

Step 4 - Reuse and re purpose. 

computer station was made up of a hodge podge cart and stand

My co-teacher's husband built us a new one.  It's nice to know a handy man or woman.
Before the make over, our student desks took up all of the floor space in our room and our students were really spread out.  Which left us with no room for extra seating, or seating by the window seat.  Extra seating was a huge request from our students.
So we moved the desks closer together and put a table covered with chalk board clings by the window seat.                    

We also created a stand up table which started with an old cart 
 and ended up like this.  I love that we can still use this as storage.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Chat with Deb - Digital Learning Day

Wednesday, February 5th

Welcome to a new episode of Chat with Deb:

Here are some great sites to use with your students on DLD.  Most of them do not require a log in, so you and your students can be ready to go.

 Big Huge Labs edit photos and share

Jigsaw Planet create and share a puzzle.


QR Stuff create colorful qr codes.


QR Island  read a qr code with your PC webcam 

ABCya's Go Animate  create an animation and save it to your computer.

Tackk create a webpage with images, text, video, audio, hyperlinks, maps and more.  Easily share with others.

Scribble Maps use drawing tools to draw on top of a map.  Easily download and share your map with others.

Magnoto create an online poster similar to a Glogster.  You do need an account.

Padlet online sticky notes with capability to include links and video.  Use the free form or the stream layout to organize your sticky notes. The teacher needs an account. Students do not.

IXL- game-based site to practice math skills.  Free portion allows for a limited amount of usage per day. A paid membership allows for unlimited usage and additional features.

Google Books- read portions of books for free or purchase books to project in your classroom.  If you purchase a book, you can highlight, take notes, and save your place in the book.  

Recordmp3 - easily record audio and then save the file to your computer.  Upload the mp3 file onto other sites.

Thank you to Intel for Education and Teachers Engage for sponsoring this episode of Chat with Deb!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Get Inspired with Student Blogs - A Chat with Deb

This Chat with Deb is on the topic of student blogging.

Here are the resources shared in this episode:
Google Sites
Our students' Kidblogs

Here are some additional resources:
Would you like to contact me?  Here is my email:

Click here for all episodes of Chat with Deb

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


There's a new tool in town and it is called eduCanon.  eduCanon is used to build interactive video lessons.  It looks like an awesome tool for the flipped classroom or for adding questions to a video.  eduCanon is similar to Teachem.

Here are some of the features:
1.  Choose a video from YouTube, Vimeo or Teacher Tube.
2.  Add multiple choice questions during the video and then choose which answer is correct.
3.  Get accounts for your students.  (eduCanon can help set up accounts if you don't want to have to do it or have students to it)
4.  Assign the video to your classes.
5.  Students get instant feedback when they answer a question.
6.  eduCanon won't let students fast forward during a video to ensure that they watch the whole thing.
7.  Teachers can see student performance.

Here is a short introductory video:

And here is a video I made questions for using eduCanon about Martin Luther King Jr.  

Teachers can share their interactive video lessons with other teachers and through social media.  eduCanon works on an iPad and on all browsers.  Click here for FAQ.

My first impression of eduCanon is very, very good.  I created my first interactive video in just minutes.  I hope you give this great site a try!  I'm going to try it in our classroom this week. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Spreading the Sunshine

This blog post is about a blog-style chain letter.  Usually if I get a chain letter, I wouldn't bother replying.  But this is a BLOG-STYLE chain letter.  That makes it totally up my alley!

I received the chain letter from my friend Judy Artz whom I know through Twitter and because, in the past, she and her students have helped post on our students' Kidblogs.  Judy was kind enough to choose me as well as 21 other bloggers to honor with this "Spreading the Sunshine" Award.  Click here to see Judy's Spreading the Sunshine blogpost.

So to continue with the blog-style chain letter I must share with you 11 random facts and then answer 11 questions from Judy.  I will also need to choose the next 11 bloggers to continue the letter and write questions for them to answer.

So without further adieu, here are 11 random (and surprising) facts about me:

1.  My parents both worked at the elementary school that I attended when I was young.  My mom was the food supervisor in the cafeteria and my dad was the custodian.

2.  I took cold lunch every day even though my mom was the baker and head cook at school.  Why?  I was a very picky eater.  This has changed now that I am an adult.

3.  In high school I earned the perfect attendance award for having never missed one day of high school.  No, this is not an award that earns you popularity.  But it does show my love of education and being in the classroom.

4.  My first time taking my driver's ed. test to get my license I actually hit a car (ok it was just a slight tap).  Today I am one of the most cautious and careful drivers on the road.  

5.  I first started out as a business major in college.  I still love the business aspect of education and perhaps someday will pursue having a business of my own.

6.  Those of you who know me know that I once waited on Jon Bon Jovi in Oshkosh, WI at a restaurant called The Charcoal Pit II.  This is a story that I often share with my close friends.  It really happened.  I promise.

7.  The year I started teaching, I got braces on my teeth.  It was one of the most important purchases I made with that first year's salary.

8.  My husband is a Chicago Bears fan and I am a Green Bay Packers fan.  Yet, I still married him.

9.   My husband and I met in a bar called "Cheers".  And this is surprising because. . . 

10.  The year I started teaching, my mom gave me a plant.  I still have the plant and whenever I mentor a new teacher, I give them a snip off that plant.  I've lost count of how many teachers now have part of my plant, but I do know that this is symbolic in many ways.

11.  No matter what is happening in my life or what troubles I may be having, when the students come to school in the morning and our day starts, all of my troubles or worries go away until the end of the day.  

And now to answer the questions from Judy:

Q:   What teachers inspired you and why?
A:   I loved teachers.  I loved school.  All teachers inspired me because I admired them.  I wanted to be like them.  Thank you Mr. Mackin, Mrs. Emmrick, Mrs. Hady, and Mr. Gregg.  You smiled often, loved your jobs and showed me compassion and understanding.  

Q:  If you could change your college major, what would it be and why?
A:  I would have changed to a business major.  I wanted to be a leader and because money doesn't 

Q:  What is the best part about being a connected educator and how do you stay connected?
A:   The best part of connecting with others is that when we surround ourselves with people who are different from us, we become better educated and more well rounded.  When we surround ourselves with people who are similar to us, we become inspired and motivated.  Name a social network and I'm on it.  

Q:  If you could make one significant change that would shift the course of education, what would it be?
A:  I would want to lower the cost of higher education.  My own education has been limited because of the fact that I would have to go into debt in order to further my education.

Q:  What are your favorite tech tools and why?
A:  My favorites tend to change often.  Right now, today,  my favorite tech tool is Google Glasses - I'm challenged by how to use them in a way that will change education.  

Q:  What do you do to escape?
A:  Go to the water.  With my husband and kids.

Q:  What fields/careers would you recommend to young people today?
A:  Do what you are passionate about.  Find what makes you content and happy.  When your heart leads you, your job won't feel like work, it will feel like a life that you love.

Q:  If you could live your life as another person, from history or living today, who would you choose and why?
A:  I would like to be Naomi Harm for a day.  I admire her tremendously and would love to step in her shoes.  I would love to be Cameron Diaz for a day.  Secretly I've always wanted to be an actress.  I would love to be my husband for a day.  Curiosity is the motive here.  It would be nice to have a deeper understanding

Q: Would you rather be a kid or an adult, and why?
A:  An adult, because at times I was a shy, awkward, uncomfortable and scared kid.

Q:  What is your favorite charity, and why?
A:  Save the Children because for $1 a day you can help children around the globe.
Click here

Q:  What do you think is your greatest strength?
A:  Time management and goal setting.  If it needs to get done, I will do it.  If I have a goal, I will do everything possible to accomplish it.

Here are my 11 Bloggers to pass on the Sharing Sunshine Award.  

These bloggers inspire me everyday and yet I don't believe that they realize it.  These are bloggers that I have not connected with and hope that this activity might start a conversation.  After all they will be sharing 11 random facts with us.

Here are 11 questions for you to answer, but remember to first give 11 random facts about yourself.  Then pass it on. 

1.  What is your happiest memory?
2.  What scares you the most and why?
3.  Where do you like to go to have fun?
4.  If you could change one thing about education, what would it be?
5.  What do you think is the single best decision you've made in your life so far?
6.  What is your greatest strength?
7.  Who is someone that you admire and why?
8.  What is the hardest thing you have ever had to do?
9.  What is your favorite technology device and why?
10.  What is one thing that really bothers you or drives you crazy?
11.  Tell something you've never done that you would like to do.

Here's how this chain letter of inspiration works:

1.  Acknowledge the nominating blogger and let them know when you complete your blog post.
2.  Share 11 random facts about yourself.
3.  Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
4.  List 11 bloggers.
5.  Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated.  Don't nominate a blogger who has nominated you.
6.  Embed linds and visuals that personalize the post.