Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Revisit to VoiceThread and Some Other Web2.0 Tools

I have a Google Alert for myself, which sounds quite egotistical, but it really serves me much more than it serves my ego. What it does is send me an email when my name is mentioned on the web. I also get emails when other Judi Wolf's names are mentioned.
Today, I got something written by Peggy George (a wonderful guru in this field who has been helpful to me for many years). It took me to this wiki from a WEB 2.0 Workshop that Peggy had conducted This is absolutely full of ideas and further links that just kept me engaged for way too long - but, while hooked on it, I gathered many new ideas and knowledge on the workings of some new tools. The sections on Voicethread. Remember to go to the K-12 portion of Voicethread and when you go to the "Buy" it will show you the free version, Ed.VoiceThread, which is practically Free - I think a one time $10.00 fee. Anyway, I digress......
Two excellent things I got from this Wiki, among many others was the VoiceThread done by someone named Sue, invited people from all over to add to it and to use the pen (shows up when you are recording) to show your location. I am hoping some of you will use this opportunity to practice using Voicethread by adding a comment on Sue's VoiceThread. Find it here. I also liked this very extensive list of ideas for using VoiceThread. It is from Ned's \Keeper Blog. It is called 36 Ways to Use VoiceThread.

Now, to review this posting as I know I have gone from one thing to another. Take a look at the Wiki from Peggy George

Look at and possibly add to Sue's VoiceThread

Check out Ned's 36 Uses For VoiceThread

I hope all of you are enjoying your Winter Break, which must seem to be speeding by. I wish all of you a very Happy and Healthy New Year!

Monday, December 22, 2008

A New Online Story Site

I hope that many of you are enjoying some well deserved rest and that checking in on my blog is one of the only "school-related" work that you are doing this week. Many of you, I realize will have put school on the "back burner" and will not check this blog until well after the holidays. However, when you do have a few moments, I would like you to take a look at this new website for online stories and much more. It is called Speakaboos and it is so darn cute that you will want to take some time to "play" and listen. There are plenty of stories to listen to, a free one to download, and others available ready to be put on an IPod for $.99. But this is so much more than just a "listen to" website. It is also a place where students and adults can record a story. What a wonderful way for a child to practice reading and to strive for fluency. What a wonderful place for adults to read stories to faraway grandchildren! Older students can read stories for their younger Reading Buddies.
I learned about Speakaboos and some of the ways to use it from one of my favorite blogs, I Learn Technology . This blog also points out that there are free story guides complete with themes to reinforce the story message and has comprehension questions. There are also printables that you can use with Speakaboos.
If you have little ones at home or visiting over the holidays, you will want to bring them along as you explore this site.

I also want to take this opportunity to wish all of you a very, very Happy Holiday. However you might celebrate the holidays that come at this time of year, my hope for you is that it finds you surrounded with family and good friends. I will be bringing the sunshine so badly needed in snowy Seattle.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Another Great, Free Teacher Tool

I know I had not blogged for awhile, as I hadn't really seen anything earth-shaking. So, today, two things came to my attention, thus the second blog of the day.

This is a simple teacher tool used to make word searches, crossword puzzles, and word scrambles, with pre-selected words around a theme, or from your own words. Although it looks very simple and nothing fancy, the printed worksheet resulting from a few clicks is a really nice looking worksheet. Some word searches I have seen in the past are printed out very small and not the best for the younger students. This looks very readable.

Check it out at The Lesson Corner. Make your life easier!

Christmas In The Classroom

I know that for many of you, the website I am going to share with you will not be one that you choose to use in the classroom. For some, you might want to share this with parents, and for others it may become a part of your week before the holidays. I say this, because the diversity of your population will probably dictate whether you are able to do one particular holiday with religious significance. However, I know that I have had many participants in my workshops from private church-based schools and Christmas is very much a part of the curriculum this month. Although I am an advocate of the separation of church and state for all public schools, I could not really see the harm in sharing this delightful adventure for the "Santa Believers" in all of us.

Google is helping to keep our eyes on the sky in search of a jingling sleigh led by reindeer and carrying scads of presents, and a man in a big, red suit. They are making it easier for you to find Jolly Ole St. Nick by once again partnering with NORAD on the 2008 NORAD Tracks Santa website. From now until Christmas eve, you can read about the history of the Santa Tracker, see a countdown to take-off, view updates from Santa's Village, and play holiday-themed games – a new one released each day – at the Kids Countdown link. The fun really begins on December 24th when at 3am PST, Santa lifts off into the northern sky to begin his trek around the globe. NORAD tracks his progress in real time, marking his stops and his current location in Google Maps, Google Earth, and Google Maps for Mobile. In addition, strategically-placed Santa Cams feed videos of his flight to YouTube and to the NORAD Tracks Santa video page.

Take a look at the Kids Countdown Link and I guarantee a smile on your face!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Family Internet Safety

I have always been convinced that most parents would like to be involved when it comes to teaching their children to use the Internet in a safe manner. They want their children to utilize all the benefits of the Internet, but worry with a sense of foreboding that there could be an element of "danger" lurking online. They often warn their kids about not providing too much information online, but they really do not feel equipped to actually plan out a strategy for keeping their children totally safe online. I would bet that they would be grateful for a little help with this issue!

Clicky Live will be an online program scheduled for Wednesday December 10th at 5:00 and 7:00 PM (EST). Parents and children can log on together and learn about Internet Safety during this live broadcast. Parents can think of this as a great way to "start the conversation" about how their children can keep themselves safe while enjoying the benefits of the Internet. The instructions on joining this online program from the website are:

1 RSVP– Go to Clicky Live to register yourself or your group! Clicky will be giving special shout-outs to kids and groups who register!

2 Download the Activities– For more fun before and after the show, download
and print copies of the NetSmartz activity pages.

3 Log on– Go to www.NetSmartzKids.org/ClickyLive at the scheduled show time.
If you’re watching with a group, you can use one computer with Internet access connected to
an LCD projector or a computer lab where each child has a personal computer.

4 Ask Clicky Questions– During the show, Clicky will read your questions and answer
them live! You can ask Clicky just about anything—from what his favorite color is, to how to deal with cyberbullies. And get ready because Clicky will also ask you questions and read your responses live!

By e-mail- Send in your questions before or during the show to Clicky@NetSmartzKids.org.
By phone- Call (703) 837-6238 during the show to ask Clicky your question. You can also call
and leave a message for Clicky before the show— he may play it back live on the air! If the line is busy, don’t give up; Clicky has a lot of questions to answer! Remember to get permission from your trusted adult before you call!
By IM- Instant message Clicky during the show using any one of the following applications.
The applications may be downloaded for free from the Internet.

5 Tell us what you thought!– The folks at NetSmartz want to know. We’ll be sending out
a short survey via e-mail. If you liked the show, then let us know so we can schedule more!

One more, maybe crazy idea at this time of year, would be to invite parents to school and show the broadcast on a large screen to the parents and students, following it up with a discussion of online safety!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Non-Fiction Reading for the Younger Students

I have been unable to link to one of my favorite blogs lately and I have once again found his blog - not quite figuring out yet why he is not appearing on my RSS Feeds. I will figure that out in time, but tonight I had a chance to read of some of his latest posts that I had missed. He never disappoints me in finding good websites that work well with students who may be using English as a second language or just need some extra help with reading and writing. His name is Larry Ferlazzo and he is a leader in the field of ESL.
What I found interesting on his site tonight is something that is a part of the Scholastic Network and I had not noticed how its content had grown. Larry posted it like this:

Scholastic has been publishing excellent “Listen and Read” nonfiction stories (with audio support for the text) for several years on their website. They’re accessible to Beginning English Language Learners. It’s not easy to find expository text that’s accessible to Beginning ELL’s.

The problem has been that each story hasn’t had a permanent url address — they’ve kept changing it as they’ve published the stories in their monthly online newsletters. It’s been pretty frustrating.

However, now they’ve compiled permanent links to all of them on one page. Explore all fifty of them now at Listen and Read.

I think Listen and Read will allow your students to have much practice using non-fiction material, hearing it in order to promote understanding.

I am in Toronto, CA tonight after presenting in my home town of Cleveland today. We got to the airport and waited for a delayed plane, then puddle-jumped in a prop plane over Lake Erie. I felt like I could have made it faster by swimming across. Tomorrow ends the week and although my participants will not be looking forward to Thanksgiving here in Canada, BER is off for the rest of the week. I look forward to Thanksgiving with friends and a weekend hop to Vegas. What could be bad?

I hope that all of you will be surrounded with family and good friends and enjoy this wonderful day of too much food and football! Enjoy!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A New Online Story Site - A Really Fun One

I believe that all of the online story sites that I have recommended are not meant to be in any way a replacement for parents and/or teachers reading to students, but an additional opportunity for children to fall in love with the idea of "story". The excitement of the characters, the different settings the "trouble"that erupts, and resolutions hold the children spellbound, especially when enhanced with beautiful pictures and an animated storyteller. Enter Mrs. P., the storyteller on the website Mrs. P. Com.
Actress Kathy Kinney tells delightful intro stories and expertly reads the books. On the homepage, click on the various items around the warm room to find intriguing, sometimes outlandish, stories about Mrs. P. The book on the stand is a fully loaded dictionary. The Title game as an amusing way to listen to one-liners about the stories at this site. And… the reason your students will want to stay in Mrs. P’s library is the book stacks themselves. Click on the stack to find a healthy assortment of stories to listen and view. When you choose a book, click on ‘options’ to turn on or off ‘show the words.’
The one thing that I did notice when listening to Little Red Riding Hood in its original version from the Grimm Brothers was that Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother are both eaten by the wolf. I wasn't certain how appropriate this was for young children, however, the woodcutter who finds the wolf is able to cut him open and release Red Riding Hood and Grandma from his stomach. So, we still have "happily ever after".
You just have to browse around this site - it is really done well.
I found out about this website through my subscription to Teachers' First. If you would like to get these featured sites every Sunday, go to Teachers' First Subscription Page to join.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Best Thanksgiving Website I Have Seen

As very often happens, the participants in my workshops very often share with me some websites that I have never visited and am not aware of. Today in Syracuse, NY, was one of those days. One of the teachers stayed after the closing of the session to show me the site that she uses when studying colonial times and the First Thanksgiving. It gives the student the role of the Historian and asks them to discover what really happened at the first Thanksgiving. There is a spectacular introduction (sometimes I skip over these, but don't do it here). Then there is a section where they dispel some common myths about Thanksgiving. The next section allows the students to really look into the lives of a Wampanoag boy and an English colonist girl. There is just so much on this site, that you have to examine it and will want to visit it with your class before Thanksgiving. It can be found at the Plimoth Plantation Website - You Are A Historian . Enjoy!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

You Tube For the Littles Ones

I am getting ready to go on the road this week and my addendum is ready as is the reworked presentation, but, of course, then I start reading blogs and listening to podcasts! More and more wonderful websites keep popping out and the decision is to I add them at the last minute or just have a "stopping point" for adding new things.
This one just blew me away! Of course I found this by reading a blog that referred me to another blog and then that blog had this link. I totally can get lost in the intertwined network of educators all willing to share what they know.
This is a You Tube for the very youngest. It is called Totlol. There are some wonderful learning videos (alphabet and early literacy) and ones that just entertain. You can build a collection for your class so that your students will know exactly which ones are available for them.

Take a look at it - I think you will like this sight or if it is not for your grade level, pass it along to a colleague who teaches the little ones.

On to more exploring!


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Lots of Copyright Info - Free Digital Materials

I am so sorry I have not blogged for a while. I must tell you that I have put on my political hat for the last few weeks and stayed up late last night to revel in the victory that I had worked so hard towards. I know that many of my readers would have liked a different outcome and I respect each and every one of your views. I should probably not give any political thoughts within this blog - but this is who I am and I have just spent the last week with little sleep, lots of enthusiasm, and enormous passion - and well, I am very proud to be an American this morning and I just can't contain it!! Now on to my passion for educational technology!!!

Backed up on my blog reading, I did see where Vicki Davis shared this morning on Facebook an outstanding website on copyright and where to get wonderful resources for free images, audio, and videos to include in projects worry-free. It is called Digital Media Ethics and Royalty Free Resources . It is from a presentation that Vicki did at a conference and as always, she is so willing to share. Included on her wiki (shared document) is the Disney film about copyright that I show in my workshop. On the side, look through all of the links. There is an excellent video really explaining how to use Creative Commons with images on Flickr. There are also many, many resources for images that will be copyright-free.

If you are ready blogs, do be sure to include Vicki Davis's Cool Cat Teacher Blog as one you want to read.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Next Vista

I am sitting here listening to Women of the Web 2.0 at 9:00 Tuesday night, something I seldom remember to do when I am at home. I caught it tonight live, though, and their guest has developed a wonderful new site where he is collecting really good videos. They are informative, short videos on many subjects. The site is called Next Vista For Learning . Take a look at all of the videos that are already listed and do sign up for the email list so that you will be able to be kept up to date on new videos. Rushton Hurley is the man behind this and he has established a non-profit organization that is running this website and through some funding backing, he has been able to keep this free and intends to do so in the future.
He was discussing about copyright-free music that he insists that anyone uses weho submits videos and passed along three ghreat websites that will supply free sounds and music, free of copyright problems. They are podsafeaudio.com, jamendo.com, and partnersinrhyme.com. When you are podcasting or want to create videos, powerpoints, or voice threads with music or sounds, look to these websites.
I am looking forward to doing a workshop for retired teachers at Kent State University tomorrow. They are going to be mentoring pre-service teachers and want to "catch up" on technology. I think that is really great that they are not just going to mentor them from where they left off, but are certainly looking to the future. Good for these retired teachers!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Gingerbread Man Project from Jenuine Tech

You all know how i feel about these wonderful online collaborative projects that are hosted by Jennifer Wagner. With very little work on your part, you can enhance so much of your curriculum and have your students become a part of a world-wide community of learners.

This is straight from Jen's project posting that I received tonight:

Hello Friends!!

Registration for the GingerBread Man project is now open at

This project can be hosted within your classroom anytime between now and
December 20th. Please have fun with it and make it work into your schedule.

If you would like to extend this project by perhaps collaborating and sharing
ideas with another classroom -- please join our ning at
http://projectsbyjen.ning.com and join the Gingerbread Man Project Group. You
can type in a message once you are there to indicate you would like to team up
with another classroom(s).

I hope you enjoy this project! I look forward to the many ways I hear how your
class works with the Gingerbread Man Project.

Give it a try and let me know how it went in your class!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Great Graph Maker and Free!

I have had two wonderful workshops with terrific participants today in Denver and yesterday in Dallas. If only I was not dependent on air travel to get me from one city to another, this would be a very stimulating type of life. There were so many people in these workshops who are doing some wonderful things already in their classrooms and computer labs and they have shared some websites with me that were totally new to me.

I will try to relate some of these to you in the next few blogs. The best Graph Maker for kids that I had used over the years was a piece of software from Tom Snyder Productions. It was costly on a district level, but served the purpose when there was nothing else to allow students to create graphs in order to collect and record data. Now there is a graph maker that is entirely free. It is Create a Graph from Kidzone

Students can select a design (type of graph), then enter their data and labels and print the graph. There is also a section called Dared to Compare that allows students to take tests and then compare how they did in a graph form other students from around the world.

The best thing is the tutorial on the first page of this website. It will walk you right through Create a Graph.

Monday, October 13, 2008

K12 Online Conference

Budget and time restraints certainly do infringe on the ability of classroom teachers attending many conferences throughout the school year. I want to make you aware of a wonderful opportunity which will come in the form of a virtual conference that you will be able to "tune in" to at any time. It will be held during the next three weeks, but every session will be recorded and available for you to listen to at your leisure.
This FREE conference is run by volunteers and open to everyone. The 2008 conference theme is “Amplifying Possibilities”. This year’s conference begins with a pre-conference keynote the week of October 13, 2008. The following two weeks, October 20-24 and October 27-31, forty presentations will be posted online to the conference blog, here, for participants to download and view. Live Events in the form of three “Fireside Chats” and a culminating “When Night Falls” event will be announced. Everyone is encouraged to participate in both live events during the conference as well as asynchronous conversations. More information about podcast channels and conference web feeds is available!

Some "teasers" about the upcoming sessions can be found here.

Here is the schedule for the K12 Online Conference . You will notice that the times are in GMT (Greenwich Time) but when you click on the date and time, there is a cool converter which will tell you what time the session is "live". Remember, you will be able to listen to a podcast and often watch a video of the session after it is over.

I encourage all of you to visit the schedule and choose one or two sessions that sound interesting to you.

I am about to start my 2008/2009 workshops. I will fly to Dallas tomorrow, then on to Denver, and then Phoenix. I really prefer these three day weeks.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

PBS Launches New Reading Site

PBS has launched a new website that really incorporates two sites, one for very early literacy skills and one with reading skills for the primary students. It looks very well done and even has a tracking system so that teachers can keep track of student progress and students can be awarded for their efforts. The two sites are PBS Kids Island and Raising Readers and can both be found at http://pbskids.org/read/ There are video tutorials.
On the Raising Readers site, I noticed that The Electric Company (feeling old?) is going to be launched on site during the winter of 2009.

I am sure that those with emerging readers in their classes will find lots of activities to use.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Pumpkin Seed Project

One of the easiest online collaborative projects and one of the best way to cross all curriculum areas is Jen Wagner's Pumpkin Seed Project for 2008. I have many times written and at each workshop proclaimed the value of these online collaborative projects. I still would list all the reasons for participating as I have before, but one of Jen Wagner's blogs lately has given me a little more to think about when referring to these projects. There is more to these projects than simply collaboration. This is directly "lifted" from Jen's blog. but thought her words were really important:

"And what I realized is that my projects — yes, simplistic as they are — set a good foundation for teachers who are just learning some new ways of doing old things. For example: A Room With A View and The Shape of Things projects are primarily to help teachers learn to upload and tag images. Our Holiday Card Exchange project showcases Google Earth and helps teachers start learning how to use it within their classrooms. The O.R.E.O. project, The Pumpkin Seed Project, and the Lucky Charm project — all teach math skils in a fun way, but it also introduces teachers to online forms, creating webpages, and manipulating data in a spreadsheet."

Yes! It is so much more than just collaboration - but the value of 300 classes doing something in order to formulate a conclusion cannot be underestimated.

So, now Jen is ready to introduce The Pumpkin Seed Project, a project that will begin on Monday, October 6th. (make yourself a note, so you don't forget to sign on). Read all about the project at athttp://www.jenuinet ech.com/Projects /ps2008/ps2008ho me.htm. It is a three day project October 29th. - October 31st. and is open to PreK-Third Grade students. It certainly fits in with Fall and Halloween activities.

An added feature is a chance to use a wonderful Web 2.0 tool called Voicethread, which many of you know about but may not have tried yet. It will give you and your students a chance to talk about how the project worked in your classroom. Jen will have it all setup and all you will have to do is to follow the simple directions and join in. All information will be at the website by Monday, October 6th.

This would be a fun project to invite all of the Primary classes in your school/district to join. You will excite your students as they learn new ways to manipulate numbers and to talk about their findings.

I hope you will join!


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Best Buy Teacher Grants

I have once before alerted my readers about one of the easiest ways to apply for a grant that just might give you the funds to purchase a laptop computer, a projector for your class, a new digital or video camera, or a myriad of other hardware that you might be wishing for. I do not mean that it is so easy that you apply and automatically are awarded the funding, but there are many awards made and the application process is not so hard that it is not worth your time to try.
It is time for this year's round of Best Buy Teacher Awards!

Go to https://bestbuyteach.scholarshipamerica.org/

You must first know that the deadline for applications is October 12th. and you will receive notification by March 2rd.

Best Buy Teach Awards range from $1,000 to $5,000 and will be granted to programs that engage students at any grade level by creatively integrating interactive technology into the curriculum.
There are also $10,000 Best Buy Teach Awards and these will be granted to up to fifteen (15) schools serving 9th grade students that display the greatest creativity in their programs/projects and the clearest vision of how to increase the school's use of interactive technology.

Jen Wagner, writing in her blog Tech Thoughts by Jen , gives us some insight on how she has been lucky (lots of skill there, too) to be awarded these grants each year since 2003. We should be grateful to her for sharing some of her secrets!
Jen's thoughts:
1. Write about what you are doing now — But also write about what you are doing in the future. When asking for ipods, I wrote “our students are recording books which will help to grow our audio library.” Share what you are doing TODAY but also how it effects TOMORROW!
2. Make sure your Wish List equals what you are doing. If you ask for a MAC on your wish list…..make sure your plans for use emphasize greatly what the mac can bring (such as iLife!!) Be specific as much as you can. If you are asking for ipods — really talk up podcasting. If you are asking for computers, talk about internet availablity, programs you will need, how the printer, the ipod, the monitor, and the tower will all work together for the benefit of your students!
3. Don’t be afraid to boast.If you have won awards on what you are doing, share it. If your class got written up in the local newspaper, share it.And talk #’s — share how this award will not only impact your immediate classroom but also how it will help the entire school as well.
4. Be specifically vague.They want to know what you have done, but they also want ideas of what you will do. Dream big, blow it out of the water……..shoot for something you might not be able to achieve, but with the grant monies, it will be a bit more possible. It is okay to embellish a bit….. (smiles)
5. Emphasize how you won’t be able to do what you wish to do without this grant!Be confident that you will get the grant and let Best Buy know how much you are grateful that their grant will help your classroom achieve your goals!! I wrote “when we receive this grant, we will be able to ……” Look forward and accept the grant before you are even given it!!
6. You don’t have to use all the words quota!Don’t ramble on and on. If you can be specific with 100 words — but they ask for 250……but you said it with 100…..be content!! As long as you convey your thoughts well….not hitting the word quota is okay.
7. Type it up in Word first!Use spell check, use the thesaurus, check for words you use over and over again. And have someone else read it before you send it.
8. Double check carefully before you hit submit!!!Triple check if necessary.
9. When you get the grant…….MAKE IT KNOWN!! and at Best Buy, meet the manager and thank him/her and get a Personal Shopper to help you! This last time we won, the manager kept introducing us to EVERY clerk saying she (Janell) won the Best Buy Grant and mentioned our school. Great free publicity — made our school look very good!

And you thought you were going to have a quiet weekend??????

Lots of Luck,


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Flat Stanley Project

I am sure that most teachers have heard of if not participated in a Flat Stanley Project. Based on the book Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown, teachers and students have been mailing or emailing pictures of "flattened" characters around the country or around the world. This little prop seems to make students want to write about their own community and share their own space with a visiting Flat Stanley. They also willingly send their Flat Stanleys traveling throughout the world and digest the information received upon his return. Teachers can help students to follow the trip on maps or Google Earth and all areas of the curriculum can be developed through this project.
Everything you need to know in order to engage in a Flat Stanly project is available at the main Flat Stanley Project website http://www.flatstanley.com/. This site will help you to match your class with another class willing to do this project.
You might have heard that Jeff Brown (or his estate right after he died) was suing this teacher from Canada who started this project. I read his blog and tghe whole ordeal is very close to settlement, but the site is definately up and running. He is thinking of making a Flat Family Project site after all of the litigation is settled. I believe he was found to not have crossed any copyright laws, but there was a threat of this site closing down.
Take a look at the list of participating classes and I am sure you will see locations where you may want to send individual or class Flat Stanleys.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Picturing America

Two blogs that I read regularly, Tech Thoughts by Jen and Doug Johnson of the Blue Skunk Blog both recommended that teachers become aware of something that can be sent to them in "hard form" and free. Sometimes you want some interesting pictures that can be displayed in your classroom and aren't just seen on a screen. Picturing America is an initiative of the National Endowment of the Humanities, brings masterpieces of American art into classrooms. It also provides teachers with a Resource Book that will help them use these pictures within all aspects of the curriculum. There is an easy application that you complete online. The deadline for applications is October 31st. and from what has been reported by those who have received their collection, it is a great addition to the classroom.
Just thought I would let you know that it exists, in case any of you want to complete the application to take advantage of this free offer.

You Tube-Then Teacher Tube-Now School Tube

I read about School Tube on Teachers' First - the wonderful list of Featured Websites that comes to my mailbox each Sunday. It is a website where you can now upload safely videos made by your students in your class and share them with their families and other classrooms. Of course, no last names are ever used and I would also be careful about the location of the school or even the school name if it can be connected to a specific city. Teachers' First had such a good explanation, I am going to use most of theirs here:

This safe, free site lets students and teachers show off their talents by sharing their appropriate videos to be viewed all over America. With a simple registration, you can upload your classroom video, which then goes into a “holding” area. That video then awaits approval by the website’s moderator before becoming available. Because of the layering of approval, this site poses no security concerns to students or schools. Not only can teachers and students upload videos, but administrators may also want to post welcome or informational videos to be viewed by parents and students. You may also wish to share some of these videos with your class. Teachers will find videos suitable for classroom instruction (and lesson plans). Use the search box at the top of the webpage to look for topics that relate to your current units of study. If your school blocks streaming video sites, consider accessing this site and choosing videos at home, using a tool such as Vixy (reviewed here) to bring them in on a USB stick for class use. Searching the site and simply viewing the videos does not require any registration or log-in.

I thought that this sounded quite useful as it is totally filtered to be for student use and should have some appropriate videos that go along with instruction.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Finally Something You Don't Have To Pay For

In all of my workshops, one of my favorite news to share is that there are many tools for teachers to use that are online and free. Many of these tools do so much to save time and to save money. Teaching aides that used to take you hours to make and items that you once had to make in sets of 25 or so, now can be generated right from online programs. For the most part, the ones that I have advocated have been "free for the asking".

While reading Vicki Davis's blog Cool Cat Blog , I was introduced to a really neat site filled with tools that are interactive. From the name generator to timelines to venn diagrams and to many other interactive tools Class Tools provides students with online templates that are interactive. Teachers do not have to create anything themselves and each student can create on the blank canvases that are provided by Class Tools. Here is a list of what templates are contained on this wonderful website:
  • Random Name/Word Pickeer
  • Countdown Timeer
  • Post It
  • Dust Bin Game
  • Target
  • Fishbone
  • Hamburger Diagram
  • Timeline
  • Living Graph
  • Venn Diagram
  • Learning Puzzle
  • Diamond Nine
  • Priority Chart
  • Lights Out
  • Source Analyser
  • Accelerated Learning Cycle

I am sure there will be something that you will find that you can use on Class Tools.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Some Flash Games for The Younger Set

Well, I am finished with my week at the Democratic National Convention and if anyone is at all interested in my comings and goings there - check out my blog at www.wolfdnc.blogspot.com I must warn you that it has a very Democratic slant, so you have to understand that before reading. I respect all of your leanings and I am sure everyone has different priorities on which you base your support for political candidates.

Now on to something you can use in your classroom:
ict Numeracy Games at http://www.ictgames.com/resources.html
are created by educator James Barrett. These flash games are excellent for K-2 students to practice math. You will find game themes for number facts, counting, bridging through ten, time, shape and measures, greater than and less than, multiplication and rounding, money (this is UK money), addition, subtraction, odd and even, place values, doubles, and equivalence. Each math or numeracy theme has several games to play for practice. These are very interactive an will not only motivate, but provide good practice.

There are advertisements on this site but they are unobtrusive, your students probably won’t even notice. The games are high quality enough that this shouldn’t be a deterrent.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Know Some Student Teachers or First Year Teachers?

Hi Everyone,

I just came along a wonderful article written by Christina Laun and I know that there are new people in your schools that could really benefit from your passing this on to them. t is called Baptism by Fire: 100 Essential Tips and Resources for Student Teachers. It is chalk full of websites of resources, blogs, professional organizations, and message boards that are speciffically for the student teacher or the first year teacher. It can be found at http://www.smartteaching.org/blog/2008/08/baptism-by-fire-100-essential-tips-and-resources-for-student-teachers/
I know the newest members of your faculty would really appreciate it if you would email them this article filled with websites just for them.

I will be in Denver this week for the Democratic National Convention. I am not a delegate, but acxtive in the party and invited by my sister-in-law who is the vice chair of the DNC. My husband and i are making a vacation of it and really looking forward to it. I may get to some blogging on this site as I will be listening to podcasts on the plane tomorrow, but if you have the least bit of interest in my activities in Denver, check out my blog at www.wolfdnc.blogspot.com .


Friday, August 22, 2008

iTunes U - Free Audio and Video for Instructional Enhancement

Hi Everyone,

You are probably all either enjoying your last week of summer or already going in to your classrooms for the week long setup that it will take to get your classroom looking just right for Day 1. Or maybe some of you are well into the school year (Arizona! where my grandchildren are)

I was just reading the new online copy of Tech and Learning and it provided me with lots of information for what I missed by not attending NECC Conference in San Antonio. One thing that popped out at me and I wanted to share was about the free iTunes U. It looks wonderful and may provide the videos that many of you have been looking for if your district does not provide you with a online service like United Streaming. These audio and videos can be downloaded to iPods or played right from the computer.

Visit iTunes U at http://www.apple.com/education/itunesu_mobilelearning/itunesu.html and then scroll down and watch the video to learn all about how this works. It is amazing what is available. You will then have to download iTunes if you do not already have it. In searching, you will still search the iTunes store and then narrow your search by clicking on iTunes U and this is all shown in the tutorial from the main page.

Hope this is something that you will find useful.

I wish you either a great last week(s) at home or a wonderful start to the new year. I know many of you did not really take much of a break.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

OREO Project Posted and Ready For Registration

Hi Everyone,

You know that I talk passionately about engaging your students in online collaborative projects. I really believe that a lot of learning can place along with the experiences that can only come from being a part of a global project such as this.

The task for you and your students is quite simple. Students will stack oreos and then average the numbers that are tallied before the "tumble". When young children who have not experienced averaging are doing this project, teachers can do the averaging "whole class" and the students will understand the results because they are engaged in the process. There are all sorts of other activities that Jen Wagner, who does so much to initiate the most wonderful projects, suggests and makes available to you. The project takes place from September 15 - October 10, but registration is open now - so register your class before you forget!

http://www.jenuinet ech.com/Projects /2008oreo/ register. htm


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Websites For Your Class - Easily Accomplished!

Dear Friends,

If this is the year that you are going to have a class website, you have chosen an excellent time to do it. Never before have there been easier ways to have your own website, easily created, web-based (able to edit it and post from any computer) and free! The ones I am going to recommend are even Ad-Free, which to me is important when students and parents are going to be using it to gain classroom information.

Why Create a Classroom Website?

Once you have a classroom website, you have opened the doors of your classroom to anyone who is interested in what the children in your classroom are doing and/or learning. This definitely includes the many grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends who live in cities far away from the classroom. It is so appreciated by these people and the students themselves who share their pride in their classroom with so many others.

They also open up their classroom with peers from around the world as you create relationships with classrooms around the world and share your website with them.

Having a “voice” that reaches far beyond the classroom really motivates kids to want to read and to write. Also, your young artists will enjoy sharing their work, too.

What a great way to keep parents informed! Is there an important letter going home? A field trip next week? Perhaps you are currently seeking parent volunteers to help out with that art project next month. A classroom web page let's parents have a peek at what's going on - just in case Mary loses her backpack (and school newsletter) on the way home.

The web page publicizes what is happening in the class. Parents read about a project and a talented construction worker may show up to lend a hand at building the bird house you need for the science project.

Students will never have time within a school day to use all of the good links that will enhance their learning of content or of a skill. The website will be the perfect place to list websites. Boy, will parents appreciate that!Students will love hearing from people from all over the world who may look at your website. Have a “generic” email address on the first page of your website to invite comments. You, of course, will control the password.

Display pictures of all of the classroom projects. If your students have just finished creating a classroom mural that is, well, magnificent, wouldn't it be a shame to keep that from the rest of the world? Let folks know about it! Of course, refrain from adding names.
Teachers see so many faces coming in and out of their classrooms. Wouldn't it be lovely to keep a visual record of all the wonderful things your students said, did and learned throughout the year? You can do this with a classroom web page.

So What Can You Use To Create These Easy, Free, Ad-Free Websites?

These are the two that I have noticed lately that I would recommend:

WIX - This is an easy to use, great looking results website that is an online website builder - there is no need to have it hosted. You make it and then provide the weblink to others!

Weebly - This one was highly recommended by Jen Wagner. There is even a You Tube Video Tutorial that walks you through the steps. That can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JjY83SnrO1M

Please let me know if you "take the plunge" or if you already have an active website that you would share with me. I would love to hear from all of you about your success at trying this.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Best Buy Teacher Grants

I have been looking and looking to see when Best Buy was going to post the information about their next rounds of Teacher Grants. They have not appeared as promised in July at the same link they have been on before. This morning I decided to do some searching and did find the link. It is not eaasy to find, so I think, if you act quickly, you should have a "heads up" on gettinmg these grants. The grants are for use for purchasing technology for your classroom and range from $1000 to $5000. You will just have to articulate how you would use the technology in your classroom. So many teachers that I have kjnown in the past have applied and have won these grants. They are not as elusive as some. Go to https://bestbuyteach.scholarshipamerica.org/ and sign up as an applicant. Do this quickly, do not put it off (I know this is a busy time for all of you), but you will be so happy you did, because in early March 2009, you could be sent a checvk that will be the answer to your technology "wish list".

I am in New York City for five days. My husband is attending amny meetings and I am doing the NYC things. I am going to watch him make a presentation this morning.

Enjoy the very short rest of your summer!


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Jen Wagner Announces her First Project of the Year!

You all know, if you have heard me present, how passionate I am about having a class participate in an online collaborative project. Going beyond the classroom walls and introducing your class to envirionments around the world is an experience that will go long to meet many of your teaching objectives.
The first project of the year from JenuineTech is called A Room With A View. Here you will see the Introduction page and see what this year-long project will entail. It really is quite simple on your part, however, the results that will be posted will allow you to take your students travelling, virtually, to many, many places. One teacher has already made a website about her students' participation in the project at http://www.teacherweb.com/MI/CentralElementarySchool/MrsBainbridge/ap43.stm

Jen provides all the Resources you will need and the registration page can be found here: http://aroomwithaview.pbwiki.com/REGISTRATION

I hope that many of you will take advantage of the opportunities that come with a project such as this. Again I am in awe of Jennifer Wagner!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I Am Really Back Now!

Part of me wants to apologize for not blogging more often this summer, but I must tell you that taking a few weeks break from thinking too much "classroom technology" felt quite good. I just spent the entire morning rereading the blogs that I have saved, newsletters, listserv messages, etc. that were worthy of keeping and concentrating on later in the summer, which is now here. I have picked out some things I really want to share with you throughout the rest of your short-lived vacations and hope that they will help you feel ready for the beginning of a new year!

The first entry will be called Websites With A Cause and have been collected from various sources.

Each of these websites offers students an opportunity to look outside their own needs to the needs of others. They go a long way to teaching your students compassion and how to help those less fortunate than they are. They also provide excellent practice in vocabulary or geography skills. They will probably like them so much that they will "play" these games at home and continue learning. Graphing class results will also provide further learning opportunities. I liked the idea that I saw on the ILearn Technology Blog, which suggested that we use websites such as these to teach persuasive writing to get other students to use the site, e.g. having your students make a commercial about the sites. Another idea is to post these sites on the desktop of the classroom computers so students who finish their work early can sit and play one of the games while they wait for the next activity. Credit is given to the ILearn Technology website for most of these suggested websites:

Free Rice - For every word gotten right on this v0cabulary game, 20 grains of rice are contributed through the United Nations World Food Program. Totals are kept on the computer being used, so that students can watch their progress.

Free Poverty - This is a wonderful geography game that donates ten cups of clean water for each correct answer on the student's behalf.

Free Corn - distributes free corn, but it takes 25 visits for each kernel of corn. However, if your students check in every day, they will learn new vocabulary and throughout the year, the donation could add up.

Free Kibble - This is a fun Trivia game and whether the student gets the answer correct or not (they are given the right answer so they learn), the site will donate free kibble to animal shelters.

Kibble Cat - does the same thing as Free Kibble, but the goodies go to the cats.

Aid to Children - For every correct answer to a vocabulary quiz, $ .25 is donated to children. A list of where the money goes can be seen on the website.

An additional resource that would be great for "whole class" use by the younger students and "on their own" for the older ones - Learning Games To Change The World These are wonderful and very motivating for students, being so "game-like".

I am sure these will keep you busy for awhile and I promise to get back to blogging more often as we all get in to "school year" mode.

Remember I am always happy to hear from any of you!


Sunday, June 29, 2008

Something Very Clever

Hi Everyone,

I know that I have not blogged for some time, but I am hopeful that many of you are taking a little break yourselves, so that you have not been concerned with the every day life of teaching as you are during the school year. In other words, I am feeling certain that you are not waiting each day for my newest blog!

I have had this one on my "To Look At" list for quite a while and I have finally played with it and think it is so cool. I will leave it up to you to decide how you will use it with your classes, but you may enjoy sending a message or two to friends this summer.

It is Geogreetings found at www.geogreetings.com . It was devised by a computer science student in Minnesota, who by his own admission, has become obsessed with it. What he determined is that many satellite maps show different buildings in the shape of letters. So therefore, any message that you might want to send, Geogreetings converts it into places that will give the image of each individual letter in your message. You can then click on the letter and zoom in and see the building that was the letter used. It is just downright fun! You can either send the link to a friend or do it in the form of an Electronic Greeting.

Here is a message that I did for you!



Monday, June 16, 2008

This Looks Interesting

Do you have teaching supplies that you no longer use, but are in decent condition? Are you in need of certain supplies that you do not want to pay "big bucks" for? Well, TeachersPayTeacher http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/ seems like it could hold some answers to these questions.
I saw this in the Middle School Newsletter MiddleWeb - To subscribe send a note to norton@middleweb.com with SUBSCRIBEin the subject line. This is how they explained TeachersPayTeachers:
Paul Edelman, a former NYC public school teacher, had a great ideaback in 2006, when he established a website where teachers could swaptheir lesson plans and other classroom teaching materials and payeach other small sums for the privilege. Scholastic Inc. liked the idea enough to buy Edelman's start-up and keep him on board to run the service. With the change in ownership comes a change in website.It's "all new," Paul writes, and TPT now offers no-cost membershipsto sellers. Drop by and try out the catalog quick search.
Our own EBay - What could be better?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Great Summer Project

Many of you may be teaching summer school or have a week or two left of this year. Some may have your own children who you would like to motivate with a good project. Here is one that could be used in all of these settings and I thought some of you might have an interest in participating. National Geographic and ePals has collaborated in this project. They are publishing a book about children's thoughts on Human Rights. All of the information can be found here: http://content.epals.com/projects/info.aspx?DivID=HumanRights_HRProjectPage This book will probably be published very professionally and I believe all children could become quite eloquent when speaking of the rights of others. I am going to try and get my grandchildren excited about participating when they arrive on Wednesday!

Hope the heat is not getting to the east coasters too badly. And to you in the northwest, I have heard that winter has returned!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Literature To Go

Hi Everyone,

I think for many of you it is almost or has been the last week of school. I would suggest that I may not see you checking in on this site until September, however, I have watched teachers for too many years and I just know that will not be the case. It always amazes me how active my listservs are during the summer with teachers making plans for the Fall right after they have finished a school year. If only the general public would understand how hard you work! Well, I do!

I subscribe to a email list which provides new websites throughout the school year. The man's name is Pete McCay and he is from Canada. I may have mentioned him before. You can look at archives and subscribe to the list here: http://www.theteacherlist.ca/ He usually stops posting for the summer. This is from his latest post:
Lit2Go http://etc.usf.edu/lit2go is a free online collection of stories and poems in Mp3 (audiobook) format. You can download the files to your Mp3 player and listen on your iPod, listen to the Mp3 files on your computer, view the text on a webpage and read along as you listen, and even print out the stories and poems to make your own book. If you have a battery-operated stand for an iPod, you could let students hold the printed story and listen to someone read it as an Mp3 file. Or if an individual child were listening, he/she could do it on the computer or on an individual iPod with earphones.
There are so many stories to choose from and the readers are quite good. I think this is a fabulous way to help children develop visual imagery as they imagine the scene and what the characters look like as they listen to a story. Great for your own little ones at home.

If you are embarking on some lazy days of summer, I hope you enjoy every minute. I will try to keep writing as I come across things that I think you could use.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Another Great Way For Kids To Gain Practice and Have Fun!

Larry Ferlazzo's blog, although intended to share websites for ESL, always provides me with new and interesting websites for students of all ages and abilities. Tonight I read and "played with"(I hate students to use the term 'play' when they speak of the computer) a new website called Tutpup http://tutpup.com/ There are mainly games in math and spelling. A teacher signs up the class or a parent can sign up a child. When the teacher signs the class up, he/she chooses a unique Class Code. The kids are given this Class Code and this is the way they sign in. When signing in they also choose a color and an animal. They also choose the country where they live. I was represented as a red lizard and an American flag. I played against a purple bear with a flag of Italy.
The game and a level of difficulty are chosen. A player is chosen to be the student's opponent. The game begins and the student is playing against someone from another city or country. It will be fun for the kids to see where their opponent is from. You might want to place a picture of maps from other countries near the computer. Points are accumulated and there seems to be prizes, but I did not get far enough to receive any prizes.
I think your students will enjoy this competitive practice.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Interactive Websites For Summer Practice

Hi Everyone,

I am fresh from a wonderful Vegas resort vacation with the grandchildren and am enjoying the quiet that a two adult "empty nest" household can provide.

I know many of you are "winding down" and either want some fun activities for computer time or may want to recommend some websites for summertime practice for the students. A few of them have crossed my desktop in the last two days that I thought were very good, not hard for the kids to use, and had a minimum of advertising or distracting banners.

The first one comes from the Ministry of Education in New Zealand and is called Crack the Code http://www.tki.org.nz:80/r/wick_ed/maths/interactives_code.php There are three levels of difficulty. Students add numbers with the sum indicating a letter that is placed in the space. Eventually a message will be revealed. After solving the puzzle (therefore doing the math correctly) the student is rewarded with the opportunity to play an "arcade type" of game.

At first glance Arcademic Skill Builders looked to me to be a "busy looking" website that would be hard for a student to navigate. But as I chose one of the games, and saw it in isolation from the others, I really liked it. Arcademic Skill Builders are found at http://www.arcademicskillbuilders.com/ There are four multi player games. The student chooses a name (they can use the number/letters provided) and then they compete against unknown players. There is no information provided on any player. I enjoyed racing against three others. There are also nine single player games - math and grammar.

Most people enjoy playing Tetris. Have you ever tried it with a map? This game had me a little frustrated, but once I got going, I got better at it. Instead of positioning the typical Tetris blocks, you position states/countries at their proper location. Find MapMSG.com at http://www.mapmsg.com/games/statetris/

I hope the next few days/weeks are not too tiring for you and that you have at least allowed yourself a little time to dream about the upcoming summer.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Another Reason To Perform An Anatomy on the URL

I am all packed and ready to go to the airport for a week of workshops on the east coast this week. I start out in Boston and am hoping to be the one Cleveland Caveliers fan who is wishing them a win against the Boston Celtics to move ahead to the next round of the NBA playoffs. Yeah, I know the chances are not great, but I would love to see a Cavs win!
Anyway, the reason I am going to keep my driver waiting is that I just started reading my TeachersFirst Newsletter and I was so excited about a new website and the many websites I found when I "backed up" to the source of the suggested website. Anyway, TeachersFirst recommended a website that helped students to see the growth of animal babies into adulthood. It is called Grow Up and can be found at http://www.arkiveeducation.org/games_grow.html I took a look at it, thought it was well done and would do a lot to illustrate the growth process in animals. I then did as I advise to inquire as to the origin of the website and speculate as to what else the website might offer. I did just that. Backing up on the URL to http://www.arkiveeducation.org and then choosing Games I came to a wonderful choice of many games about the animal kingdom that would really enhance this area of science.From animal survival to designing a habitat to an egg and spawn race, your students will love these activities. I can't wait to read the rest of TeachersFirst newsletter as who knows what else I will find! But, for now, it is off to the airport!
Hope you are enjoying your Sunday, Judi

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Cool Game - I am Addicted!

Most of the websites I point out are for you as an educator or for your students to enhance their learning. This one is totally different. One of my blogs led me to another blog , Sega Tech http://segatech.us/archives/2478 (I spend way too much time going from one blog to another!). Anyway, Sega Tech describes five games that are supposedly gaining information so that computers can become more intelligent. You can read about it on this blog, however, you can also just jump down to the one game that I have found to be soooo addictive. It is called Verbosity http://www.gwap.com/gwap/gamesPreview/verbosity/ You do have to register (not much information needed) and then when you begin the game, you are paired with another person. One of you describes a given word and your opponent guesses the word. The next time your opponent is describing a word and you are guessing. Points are given and a timer is in operation. I have been playing a lot this evening and finding it a lot of fun. If you have upper elementary students, they might enjoy this.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Great Vocabulary Learning Tool

Once a week I receive a really good free newsletter from a woman who writes a syndicated column about technology and educational websites. My newspaper does not carry it, but some of yours may. Her name is Barbara Feldman and you can sign up for her newsletter at http://www.surfnetkids.com/emailedition.htm She provides websites within categories and very often they will cover holidays or themes. This week it was vocabulary and I was really "blown away" by one of the recommended sites. It is called Quizlet and was invented by a fifteen year old student. You can find it at http://quizlet.com/
You begin by signing up for a free account to build your own interactive flashcard sets. Students can study in five different modes: Familiarize, Learn, Test, Scatter Game, and Space Race Game. You can insert your own words and definitions (a great learning experience in itself if a student does this for you).
The tutorial that appears on the website is wonderful and I understood both why I would want to use Quizlet and how it could be used immediately upon watching the tutorial. I think your kids will enjoy learning using this tool.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Any Holiday - Any Date - Any Time

Now, I know that none of you woke up this morning wondering when Ho Chi Minh's Birthday was in Vietnam or when Cameroon's national Day would be celebrated, however, you never know when you might want to locate a holiday in a specific country, by a specific date, or by a religion. Well, here it all is in a very cleverly put-together website that makes you feel like you have the neatest Datebook sititng on your desk. It is the Earth Calender and can be found at http://www.earthcalendar.net. I found out about it through Kathy Schrock's Sites of the School Days, which I receive about once a week. Sign up to get on this mailing list here: http://school.discoveryeducation.com/schrockguide/sos.html

Take a look at the Earth Calendar. You will be fascinated by just "leafing" through it, then file it under Reference. You may one day really have a need to use it.

I hope all of you had a fabulous Mother's Day, either your own or with a loved one who has "mothered" you.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Sharing Some Frustration

Hi Everyone,

Most of you know that most of my blogs are more "delivering of information" than sharing my everyday thoughts. I don't usually think of this blog as a personal journal where I divulge my inner thoughts, just an occasional aside about family or travelling. However, I am going to "vent" today and realized I had the audience that would most understand.
I had an occasion to visit my old school today. It is the school to which I brought technology to in the eighties and nourished it throughout the nineties. This is where I gained my passion for the new opportunities that students could have to become a part of a world-wide community of learners. This is where I had the chance to collaborate with staff and students to design, create, write, and plan using the newest technology. Well, it seems that time has stood still at this school and the computers that were there in 1996 are still there, running Windows 95, unable to use many functions of the Internet and the staff has been given so many new "cook book" ways of teaching math and literacy, that the computers sit, all having the same "screensaver disease." Although no money has gone into upgrading any technology in the school, a vast sum of money was spent on a "canned' computer program called Fast Forward. It is a computer software program designed to raise the literacy-readiness of the kindergarten students and they are now the only ones that can be scheduled into the computer lab each morning. They come six at a time with an aide. I went in to watch them today. They were clicking keys, but paying little attention to the feedback. They wore earphones and were attentive to the program, but I am not sure how much they were learning. The aide, while I was there was reading a paperback book. I asked her what she knew about what the students were doing and she said that she knew nothing about it but was just to watch them (babysit). I was soooo frustrated as were many of the teachers. They had no say in the expenditure for this program and now the little time that they had to use the computer lab was gone.
I probably would not have made this the topic of my blog tonight and I promise not to do this again, however, as I was reading Doug Johnson's Blue Skunk Blog, I came upon a video that I just had to share to express my feelings and probably to express many of yours. It is by one of my favorite children's singer Tom Chapin and is called Not on the Test. Give a listen. I know you can relate! You will find it at http://www.notonthetest.com/ Not only did it express some of my feelings tonight, but Tom Chapin had some action steps that we could all take. I'd love to hear your comments.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Help Make The Green Wave

A project that appealed to me was just posted through Highlights. It sounds like such a simple thing to do, but how much fun will it be to know that students from every part of the globe were doing the very same thing at the same time!
The Green Wave is a tree planting celebration for children and youth around the world. It leads up to the International Year of Biodiversity in 2010. Each year, The Green Wave will contribute to worldwide celebrations of the International Day for Biological Diversity (IBD). It also supports other national, international and global tree planting initiatives such as the UNEP-led Billion Tree Campaign. In participating schools, students plant a locally important tree species in or near their schoolyard. Where possible, the tree should be planted on 22 May IBD. In some countries, it may be too hot, too cold, too rainy, too dry or too something else to plant on 22 May. If such conditions apply to your country, you can plant in another month but still be involved. On 22 May, students around the world will count down to 10:00 local time, when they will water their tree in their respective schoolyards, thereby creating a figurative green wave starting in the far east and traveling west around the world. Throughout the day, students can upload photos and text summaries on The Green Wave website to share their tree-planting story with other children and youth from around the world. The interactive map will be launched at 20:10 local time, thereby creating a second green wave .
Much more information and many ideas for participating in this project can be found at the website http://greenwave.cbd.int/.
Let me know if you do this!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tumblebooks - Free?

I have always liked the Tumble Book Library for kids. They are wonderful animated ebooks for students to enjoy online at school or at home. There is a subscription cost that has prohibited many schools from providing these online books for their students. It seems that the New York Public Library has paid for a subscription that allows anyone who accesses the library's online site to view and enjoy these books. You have to travel to this site in a certain way so that the access is FREE! First go to the New York Public Library website -http://www.nypl.org/. Under SEARCH(at the top) put Tumblebooks (one word). In the results choose the first one "Ten Results for the NYPL website" Next choose "What's New". Scroll down until you come to the TumbleBook icon and word. Click on it and it will allow you into all of the books.
My ethical thoughts on this is that I called the NYPL and was told that anyone can join the library and everything put online was not only for members. I am sure that they have provided this resource and many others to spread reading opportunities to children everywhere.

We had the most marvelous Spring week here for the visit from my grandchildren. It has been sunny all day every day and i will never complain about Cleveland weather again. Yeah! Wait until next winter!!!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Wandering Wally Marches In Project

This looks like a really good project as your students will be "showing what they know" and they will also have an opportunity to read about what other students are doing around the world. It would be a great "first" project - Take a look at the URL http://www.lebanoncatholicschool.org/wally.htm

I'd love to hear if any of you participate.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Spelling City

I was just catching up on my own blog reading (after a weekend with all 4 grandchildren and lots of company) and I found a website that looks very useful. It was recommended by Ben Rimes on his blog The Tech Savvy Educator. He credited another reader for this, and in this wonderful world of sharing, I am sending it on to you. It is called Spelling City .You must register you as a teacher and register your school if it does not appear on a list of schools, but it is a FREE site. Spellingcity.com is a free spelling tool that can help you make teaching spelling more exciting. With online spelling games, spelling reviews, and spelling quizzes, your students can memorize those weekly spelling words while having fun, and you will have a new tool in your box for teaching spelling. The teacher can put his/her own spelling words in the list or can use many of the sample lists available for everyone's use. During the "teaching" and "practice" modes, a live voice says the words and repeats it in a sentence.

It would be a wonderful tool to share with teachers so that they can use it to help their children practice for spelling tests.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

It's been a busy week traveling - lots of planes. I am now in Madison, WI (I love college towns) and then it is off to Appleton, WI tomorrow. We are able to drive there tonight so that makes me very happy.
I got my PBS Teacher Source Newsletter and was introduced to a brand new program and a new website put out by PBS. It is called SUPER WHY. Anyone who is working with emerging readers will want to see this. It can be viewed on line or subscribed to free through ITunes to be viewed on an IPOD.
SUPER WHY is a preschool -Grade 1 series designed to help kids ages with the critical skills that they need to learn to read (and love to read!) as recommended by the National Reading Panel (alphabet skills, word families, spelling, comprehension and vocabulary).
Each episode is a 24-minute reading adventure in Storybrook Village, a magical 3-D world hidden behind the bookshelves in a children's library. In every episode, one of the friends encounters a problem with another Storybrook Village character (For instance, Jill from the Jack and Jill rhyme is not being nice). The Super Readers with their literacy power help to solve problems. I think it looks great for the little ones!

I am coming home late tomorrow night after both of my kids and their children arrive for the Passover Holiday. If you celebrate Passover, may yours be a good one surrounded by family and friends.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Reminder: Earth Day Groceries Project

I wanted to remind all of you about an easy low-tech project that can engage your students in not only encouraging your community to do positive things for our environment, but can also allow them to feel a part of a world-wide community of participants. The Earth Day Groceries Project is one of the oldest online projects.
There are four steps to this project:
1. Borrow. Contact a local grocery store that uses large paper grocery bags. See if the manager will let you "borrow" enough bags so that each student in your school can decorate one. Let the manager know about the project and its environmental education message, of course!
2. Decorate. Have students at school decorate the bags with pictures of the earth, ways to reuse and recycle, other environmental messages, the name of your school, etc. Be creative! DO NOT allow students to write their last names on any bags.
3. Deliver. A couple of days before Earth Day you and/or your students return the decorated bags to the grocery store - with many thanks to the manager! The store then distributes these bags (full of groceries) to happy and amazed shoppers on Earth Day.
4. Report. Fill out the Report Form on the project web site with a count of how many bags your school made. Please, only one report per school. You can also send in three pictures per school and the website tells about how to send in pictures. All reports will be posted on the Earth Day Groceries www site at: http://www.earthdaybags.org
You do not need to sign up or register, just have a great time with the project!

After Earth Day, share the reports and where they have come from with your students. This activity is done by schools all over the world. This proves we can all work together for the good of our planet!!!

Hope your weekend is a good one. I head out for five workshops next week. I start out in Cleveland, which is a first for me. In eight years, I have never done one here at home for BER.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Teacher Book Wizard by Scholastic

For those of you who have attended my workshops know that I find the Scholastic Network to be a really good resource for teachers. I have also shown Book Adventure for its wonderful book search abilities. Well, now there is an added feature to the Scholastic Network that provides many options for book searches and I think it is even better than Bailey Book Finder on Book Adventure. I read about it on a wonderful blog called ILearn written by Kelly Tenkely. The ILearn blog can be found at http://ilearntechnology.com/
Teacher Book Wizard http://bookwizard.scholastic.com/tbw/homePage.do is an amzing free tool from Scholastic. At first I thought that it would only do a search for Scholastic Books, but it searches over 50,000 books through many categories. There is even a feature that allows you to enter the name of a book that a student enjoyed and find other books that would be similar. You can search by grade level, reading level, and many other ways. Go to the site and Take the Tour. You will see that this is a tool that all teachers can use.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Have You Ever Kerpoofed?

I don't know what I would do without Jen Wagner keeping me posted of new things out there and things that I have tried before and forgotten about. Her Technospud newsletter came the other day and she featured an online creative tool that I had once tried and then totally lost in my Delicious Files. It is called Kerpoof http://www.kerpoof.com/
It is an online graphic creator program somewhat simiar to KidPix. I have always loved KidPix and saw lots of possibilities for students to plan, design, and create on what I called the "Blank Canvas" type of software. Well, KidPix has lost one of its biggest fans lately as they added so many bells and whistles making it more complicated for the little ones and as they have insisted on new software for each network upgrade. I have Vista on my Sony Vaio and for one solid year I have been trying to install KidPix4 on my laptop and have been unsuccessful. I have not had much help from their "hard to contact" tech support and find myself recommending it less and less in the workshop I do for K-2. Then Jen reminds me about Kerpoof and I see comparable ways for kids to be creative and I see FREE! This gets my attention, especially as a substitute for KidPix.
There are many things that teachers and students can create - pictures, drawings, cards, coloring pages, and movies! All the the tools and images are provided and helpful "how-to's." You, as the teacher, probably have to do some "playing around' with it before introducing it to students, but the section "For The Teacher" has some great ideas. There are plenty of ideas shared by other students. I have a feeling I will be discovering things about Kerpoof for quite awhile and did not want you to have to wait for me to become proficient for me to share this great website with you.
Now, I know it does not have everything that KidPix has, but if you are having network problems with KidPix or your school has less budget for software, this is certainly a wonderful alternative.

On another note, if you are in to baseball at all, then this is your favorite time of the year. Today is our opening day. I wouldn't say that my husband is into baseball or anything, but, he looked at me this morning and said, "Honey, is there anything important that you need to discuss with me before October?" I have lost at least a little bit of him to the Great American pastime as he just called to say he was able to free his schedule to make it to the 3:05 start of the opening Cleveland Indians Game. I hope for a good season - he is so much happier when they are winning!!!
I hope the sun is shining where you live today!

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Shape of Things Project

After three days in Canada and a workshop in Seattle, I got a few wonderful days to visit with my two youngest grandchildren in Seattle. Remember, if you get any choice in the subject, become a grandmother when you are young!!! They certainly had me going, but it was wonderful being with them. I fly home to Cleveland tomorrow, through Houston, making it a very long day. Someone in the Houston airport seems to schedule whichever connecting flight I am taking to be at the opposite end of the airport from where I have landed!

Many of you are already signed up for Jennifer Wagner's Technospud project The Great Egg Role. That registration is closed. But, Jen takes no time to rest between projects and on April 1st. (mark your calendars) she will open registration for the next project The Shape of Things. The website is up and many of the activities you may want to include in lesson plans for the next few weeks in preparation for participating in the project. The website for The Shape of Things can be found at http://theshapeofthings.pbwiki.com/Introduction. It is done on a Wiki, which will help you see this Web 2.0 format. One of the object's of this project is for everyone to share in a digital arena. Won't it be fun to see what classes from many places will do with their shapes?

Make sure you also sign up for Jen's Project Newsletter so you will always be informed of the Technospud upcoming projects. Sign up at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/projectsbyjen/

I am heading home for a few weeks before heading out to Cincinnatti, Detroit, Madison,WI, and Appleton, WI, and doing a workshop in Cleveland. This is all the week of April 14th.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

For Canadian Participants

This week as I have been traveling through Canada, I realized that a few of the websites about using audio with historical events were based on United States' events. I wanted to add two wonderful websites that have audio and video from Canadian veterans. Many of you know that my laptop has "crashed" and for now I cannot add the websites to my website. But, the blog is so handy, so I will just put them here for my friends from Canada.
Veteran Affairs Canada Interviews - http://www.vac-acc.gc.ca/remembers/sub.cfm?source=history/firstwar/interviews/interviews2
Audio Clips from the Dieppe Raid - http://www.vac-acc.gc.ca/remembers/sub.cfm?source=history/secondWar/dieppe/trans

If I find anymore websites unique to Canada's teachers and students I will continue to post them.

I want to again thank the wonderful participants from Regina who were so sympathetic to me with not only a "crashed" computer but with no internet connectivity. Needless to say the "luck of the Irish" was not with me on Monday.
It's all going much better today.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Fun With Art -Picasso Style

I am still catching up! I subscribe to a Teacher's List from Canada that is done by a teacher named Pete Mackay. Each day during the school year, he supplies a new website, sometimes aimed at Canadian teachers, but most times, it is very universal. This week he mentioned a website that is simplistic, but I was hooked for a good half hour thinking I might have some undiscovered talent. It is called Mr. Picassohead and is a cross between Picasso's style and Mr. Potato Head's interactivity. Take a look at it and enjoy. I think your class will like it too and will soon remember the style of one of our great artists, Picasso. Find this website at http://www.mrpicassohead.com/.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Elements of a Good Story and A Lot More!

Well, I am back in snowy Cleveland, although I luckily missed the blizzard of last weekend. As they were describing the horrid weather in Cleveland on CNN, I was sitting on my balcony watching the blue seas and feeling the warmth of the sun. However, back to reality as I head off for a Canadian "tour" next week.

I have just spent about 4 hours trying to catch up on blogs, podcasts, and emails. There are lots of new things popping up everyday and being away ten days in the world of technology is a lifetime! Teachers' First from last week had a fatastic website for teaching the elements of a story. They use the motivating story of Cinderella to share the elements of a good story: Setting, Characters, Sequence, Exposition, Conflict, Climax, and Resolution . After reading the story and learning about the important elements, students are challenged to create a story of their own. It uses audio and animated video with very clear pictures. It can be found at http://www.learner.org/interactives/story/index.html . Of course, I had to see where this really good website came from and what else the "Home" site offered and I found it was from a site that I had not visited in a few years. Wow! What a find. It is from Annenberg Media of the Annenberg Foundation whose mission is to help teachers use the media for enhanced instructional delivery. Their home page is at http://www.learner.org/ and this will lead you to many new interactive sites. This storehouse of websites will make up for my 12 day absence!!!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Gone "Cruisin'"

I just want to let everyone know that I will not be "blogging" for a while as I am leaving today for a ten day Carribean Cruise. With the 18 inches of snow on the ground today and the 18 degrees that my car just read - I am needless to say, ready to get out of Cleveland.
I look forward to a Canadian workshop trip the week after I return and I am sure I will have much to blog about.
Stay well, stay warm, and I will "talk" to you all soon!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Spelling Activity Site - And You Can Use Your Own Words!

Education World this week had an interesting site for kids to use to learn spelling words by hearing them, practicing them, and then playing some games with them. Teachers can make their own spelling lists. There are also many lists already available. After the students have mastered their spelling words a certificate can be printed. Teachers and parents also can enter and save spelling lists, and a forum allows them to share lists and ideas.

It is called Spelling City - http://www.spellingcity.com/ There is lots of information right on the first page to get you started.

I think that this is one site that you could share with the parents of your students and they would really apprecaite this extra way of doing the nightly spelling word practice at the kitchen table. I am going to send it to my daughter to use with my second grade grandaughter who know all of the 24 finalists on American Idol, but has to really work on those spelling words!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

St. Patrick's Day (Lucky Charms) Collaborative Project - Registration Now Open

Dear Friends,

This is just a reminder, so that you do not miss out on this wonderful, easy to do, online collaborative project!
Registration is now open for the St. Patrick's Day Project
Click on this website and see the type of work that Jennifer Wagner does to provide you with not only everything that you need, but additional activities, worksheets, ideas for incorporating this project into your standards.
The project has been extended from the 12th. of March to the 19th. because it appears many will have spring break during the week of the 17th.
Give it a try - lots of opportunities for math and geography, not to mention the option to create an excel spreadsheet.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

"Flickring" ethically - or a Little More About Copyright!

Hi Everyone,

When I first started showing Flickr as a means for finding suitable images for classroom use, I was under the impression that all photos uploaded within the Public areas were ours to use any way at all. Well, it is not exactly like that - but there are many, many copyright-free pictures on Flickr. The ones that have some stipulations, you can still use within the classroom. However, there are many that you can use even when posting to the web. I have just read an article by the IT Guy (that's what he calls himself) in TechLearning Online Newletter and this is how he explains it:

Quoted almost verbatim from Tech Learning:
Flickr is an amazing photo resource for multimedia projects, at least for teachers. If you want to be clear on using images that are free for use, there is a way to find pictures with "Creative Commons" licensing that gives clear direction on what you may legally do with the images.
First, do your search. For instance, I put the word "kitty" into my search. I came up with over 547,000 pictures of cats, Hello Kitty toys, and more. At the top of the search screen, though, there is a new link next to the Search button. It says Advanced Search. If you select that, you get a screen full of options for tweaking your picture hunt. First, make sure the selection Safe Search is on—it will screen out the vast majority of inappropriate images. Then at the bottom, click the option that says Only Search Within Creative Commons-Licensed Photos. I usually select the option Find Content To Modify, Adapt, or Build Upon. This means the image has been licensed for you to adapt into other images or projects. That reduced my "kitty" search to only 39,000 images!
Once you find an image that you like, click on it. On the right side of the screen , under Additional Information, you'll see a link that says Some Rights Reserved. Clicking on that link will give you information about the rights the photographer has set for that image. It may include simply giving credit to the original photographer, prohibitions on commercial use, although this is not a problem in a classroom, or no restrictions at all.
Yes, it's a step more complicated than just doing a Google image search, but it's legal, ethical, and models for our students the appropriate respect for the rights of authors and artists!

Hope this helps to clear up any mis-information I may have given.