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 - 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.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Blocking, Filtering, Refusing To Download - Oh My!

Hi Everyone,

I hope you are all well. A few of you are enjoying the mid-February Break and I hope the rest of you have not been faced with the flu that seems to be visiting many school districts.

Very often in conversations with participants, the question of filtering and the issues of not being allowed to download and similar filtering issues are of big concern. It is very frustrating for someone to see how wonderful Google Earth is and then to find out that they are not permitted to download it on to their school computers or network. I listen, empathize, but rarely have an answer to this problem.

I decided to write to Doug Johmston, whose blog Blue Skunk, I have been reading for awhile. I get so much from his writings and really like his humor, but more than that, his wise advice and insights. I decided to email Doug and ask him how his school addresses filtering issues and how he sees the problem. I think his answers to me might help some of you, so I will post what he had to say almost verbatim:

Like you, I encounter the over-blocking problem throughout the country. When asked about how to counter this, I usually suggest some of these things:
All tech policies need to be made by an advisory committee that includes educators, students and techs – each giving voice and perspective.
Techs need to be relieved of complete responsibility for insuring student safety via blocking.

If there is a request for blocking a website or resource needs to be given the same due process as removing a book from the library or classroom. My own district's approach to filtering can be found in: Like I’ve said before, I feel like a lone voice crying for a more sensible filtering policy in schools. Glad to know you are talking about this too through BER!

I think relieving all of the Tech coordinators, network administrators, and people in charge of computors the responsibility for student safety makes a lot of sense. Maybe that would alleviate some of the fears that are driving them to make some of the decisions that they do.

I hope this helps and I welcome your comments.

Monday, February 11, 2008

How do I Learn to Be A Web2.0 Teacher

Hi Everyone from cold New Jersey,

I am doing a Long Island/New Jersey roadtrip this week. At least the sun was shining - a big improvement over the weather that i left in Cleveland on Sunday afternoon (well, really Sunday night when my 3:00 plane left at 7:00 PM).

I have some time tonight to read blogs. David Warlick (#1 on my list of blogs to read) talked about what he could sugggest to teachers who wanted to learn more about using the tools of Web2.0. He said what he would suggest most is that they begin to read blogs. I must admit that this is what has helped me the most. I visit my RSS Feeds on Bloglines each night and more often than not, there is a new idea or a new tool that allows me to explore more Web 2.0. What great resources these bloggers provide.

David Warlick did a wonderful thing when he posted a list of bloggers that he would suggest teachers to read. This list was composed on a Wiki with contributions from many people who read blogs. Check it out at:

Friday, February 8, 2008

Reading Strategies Website Grades K-4

Greetings to all of you. I hope you are not suffering from the winter blahs! I read in the Cleveland newspaper today that we have had only 3 days of sunshine in the past 97 days! No wonder I was feeling a little "sun deprived". I hope your days have been sunny inside or outside!
The networking that takes place in cyberspace always amazes me. I just love meeting other educators who share what they have used in their classrooms and I, of course, know very few of these people personally. Today I was reading Jennifer Wagner's blog and went to make a comment. There I decided to read the other comments and there was one from someone named Kelly. Her comment mentioned the many teachers from all over who tell her how helpful her blog is to them. Well, I had to check it out. There was a link - so I went to her blog, iLearning and liked it so much that I added it to my Bloglines Feed immediately. (To subscribe to blogs go to
Anyway, I found some very interesting articles on her blog, one of which I thought I would share here. (It sure took me a long time to get here didn't it?)
The website is Into The Book . Into the Book is a reading comprehension resource for K-4 students and teachers. It focuses on eight research-based strategies: Using Prior Knowledge, Making Connections, Questioning, Visualizing, Inferring, Summarizing and Synthesizing. It was developed by the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and a team of experienced educators. There is lots of interactivity and resources for teachers. I saw no advertising and the student supplies a firstname or nickname and is given a unique "key" to use to do the activities. They can then save what they have done. I think that this is a website that you may want to explore.
Have a great weekend. I hit the road to the east coast on Sunday.