Monday, November 23, 2009

November 24

Monarchs In Space! Have a look at what our Gale 4th graders are doing by watching this news report from KWQC-TV 6 (Davenport, IA).

Click here to learn more about Monarchs in Space.

Online Keyboarding & Typing Resources: Our recent Parent Technology Survey indicated that a number of our District parents would like to see their students learning how to type at ever-earlier ages.  While we cannot expect every teacher to rush out and get a Business Teacher's certificate or Typing endorsement, there are lots of resources available to kids for free that could go a long way toward filling this need.  Here's a great post from Instructify listing a number of different online typing/keyboarding tutorial sites.  Keep in mind, though, that this is not intended to take the place of good instruction in appropriate techniques and habits by a qualified and professional educator, though!

Creating SMART Holiday Lessons: Here's a great post at Techers Love SMART Boards to help you integrate your SMART Board into holiday activities.

SMART Boards = Smarter Kids? Here's an article from SchoolCIO reporting on phenomenal jump in standardized test scores resulting from the district-wide implementation of SMART Boards in one North Carolina school district.  Have you hugged your SMART Board today? 

Library/Media Specialists: Here are 14 ways that Library/Media Specialists can teach about/with social media from Tech & Learning magazine.

Virtual Field Trips: Check out Leanne Hinton's blog project, Field Trip Fridays With Mrs. Hinton.  Leanne teaches 2nd Grade at King Elementary School.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Technology in the Classroom: Here is a fantastic video by Brian Mull, in which Alan November discusses the need to shift from teacher-centered to student-centered learning in America's schools, with wonderful examples of how to get the job done.

Myths and Opportunities: Technology in the Classroom by Alan November from Brian Mull on Vimeo.

Where do you find all this stuff?  Like most good teachers, I steal it, of course.  Well, not exactly - I've run across a number of great educational blogs.  (Look down the side of this page until you come to my "Blogroll" widget.)  On any blog or web site that I want to follow, I look for a little icon that says "RSS Feed," or something similar.  Once I click on it I'm asked if you want to subscribe - which I do, because it's free & I'm cheap.  Then I check either my Outlook folder entitled RSS feeds or I look under my Favorites in Internet Explorer and click the tab marked "Feeds" - both tend to have the same info.  When something new has been posted, the entry becomes bold.

Try it out by subscribing to this blog - the little orange RSS feed icon is all the way at the bottom of the page.  It's sort of like having the paperboy deliver the news to me instead of having to drive in to the coffee shop or library to read the paper!  I check my feeds a couple times each week, & when I find something interesting, I post here for you! - Like this...

Differentiate!  MixItUp is a great web site for those of us wanting to differentiate instruction, with a little help from Jan Leonard, consultant from Two Rivers Professional Development Center!

National Young Readers Day & Week: For ideas on getting involved and promoting reading & literacy in the classroom & at home, visit their web site.

SMART Board Tips: How's that SMART Board working?  Here's a few tips to keep things running well -

  • Orient: Press both of the buttons on the pen tray at the same time to bring up the orient screen.  Use your finger or a pen to tap the yellow dot in the center of the red crosshairs in sequence as they "light up".  If you'd like, you can drag to the center of the crosshair & release instead: the Board senses the release of pressure as much as the touch itself.

  • Check Your Filter: Most of the Epson projectors that we've installed have a small black plasitc filter beside the lens.  Simply slide this out and blow on it to clean the dust out once every couple of weeks.

  • A/V Mute & Freeze: When you press the buttons on the remote marked "A/V Mute" or "Freeze," the bulb is still burning, even though you don't see an image on the screen!  Only use A/V Mute or Freeze if you don't want kids to see what you're typing at your workstation, and only for brief periods of time, like 5-10 minutes or so!  If you're not using your projector for one class period or 30 minutes, whichever is less, TURN YOUR PROJECTOR OFF INSTEADEach bulb should last at least two years, and each one really does cost about $300 a piece!

  • Remember, you can download and install SMART Notebook and Response (formerly Senteo) Software at home to help you develop lesson activities.  Zap me an email (from your account only, please) for instructions and the Product Key!  YOU DO NOT NEED THE DRIVERS AT HOME, just the basic software.

Summarizing the Classics: Remember Cliff Notes - those little booklets you'd read instead of reading the actual book? 60 Second Recap is a site for middle and high school English/Literature classes that contains video summaries of classic literature.  However, these clips are not intended to take the place of reading the classics (neither were Cliff Notes) - instead, they're more like teaser trailers to stimulate intereste and brief explanations of various literary elements, like Theme, Symbolism, Motif, etc., that can sometimes be difficult for kids to grasp.  There are several brief (uhh... about a minute each, I'd guess... ) clips that go along with each book - how could you explain all the Symbols in Animal Farm in sixty seconds, after all?  These would be great multi-media discussion starters for Lit classes, or nice supporting material for kids to lean on if they're needing a little extra assistance.  And, in Club Recap, students can film and submit their own recaps to share with others!  New class project, anyone?

Don't forget to FLIP!  Remember, we have a number of FLIP 60-minute video cameras that can be checked out for classroom use!

Nuts about Numbers? Check out Number Nut - great site for elementary and middle grades Math skills.  (Might work nicely for special needs students at all grade levels as well!)  Its large print makes it a great site for use with that SMART Board!  Many thanks to Matt Warnsing at Nielson School for this link!

Word Magnets is a great little site/resource for any classroom.  It lets you enter (copy/paste or type) vocabulary words to make little virtual refrigerator magnets, which you can then arrange onto the background of your choice.  This would be a great way to integrate a SMART Board into your daily activities.  The downside: there's no way to save your work, at least not that I had found in my quick perusal of the site.  (PS: SMART Notebook software has a number of similar features in the Lesson Activity Toolkit that WILL allow you to save your activity for later use.CLick the Galery tab on the side, then search for "Category Sort,"  "Image Arrange," "Keyword Match," "Sentence Arrange," Vortex Sort," etc.)  However, if you want something that will look a little different to help capture kids attention, this site might be worth a try.

Foldables: Carol DeFreese has created a site filled with Fantastic Flexible Foldables, most of which would be appropriate for Mathematics and Geometry classes.

Sites for Kids, from "Kids": Kids Numbers and Kids Spell are nice sites that might offer students more assistance in elementary Math and Spelling.  They are ad supported, but they contain lots of great games for the little ones!

Let Kids Be Authors:  Elementary students might enjoy creating their own story books at Learn Direct.  Kids can type in their names and customize the words and illustrations in one of two pre-written stories, then save it as a PDF file.  They're even listed as co-authors on the title page!  Elsewhere on the site are games to play and other resources to help younger kids improve their reading and coprehension skills.

Free eBooks: Here's another nice way to integrate your SMART Board into daily lessons: Big Universe  You can access many of their eBook titles for free, as well as hundreds others if you want their subscriptions service.  The other neat part: kids can use the site to create their own eBooks and share with others!

Make a Digital Story Book: Storybird allows your students to create illustrated virtual story books that they can view and interact with online.  This would be a great way to publish student poems, short stories, etc.  The downside: you're stuck with their formats, etc.  However, this would also be a great way for your students to create a product they could interact with using your SMART Board.

The Hajj: The Hajj is the annual pilgrimage to Mecca made by Muslims.  The Hajj this year begins on November 25th.  Here are Larry Ferlazzo's Best Sites for Teaching Children About The Hajj.

PBS Design Squad: Here's a great site for kids who are interested in science, engineering, and physics at the middle or high school level.  PBS's Design Squad is a periodic television show in which students are challenged by creating something that helps solve a real-life problem.  Great for a science class or after school Science Olympiad, physics or robotics club, etc., also!  The site allows you to watch clips or full episodes, and includes extensive teacher support resources and lesson plans!

World War II History for Elementary School Students: Check out the BBC's Primary History WWII History site for students in elementary History/Social Studies classes covering the time period.  (May also be appropriate for special needs or LEP/ESL students, too, even at older grade levels.)  The BBC has a wealth of interactive sites like this one that work great with SMART Boards.  Plus, our Midwestern kids love the narrators' English accents...

Monday, November 2, 2009

Have You Been Shmooping?

No Shmoop for You?  We've got to change that!  Visit SHMOOP for lesson activities for all grade levels in Poetry, Literature, US History, Civics, Music, Reading.... Whew!  You're sure to find something to Shmoop up your classroom with just a few Shmoopy clicks!

Larry Ferlazzo's Best Sites forLearning About Veterans' Day - To quote Stan Lee: 'Nuff Said

Ready for Conferences?  Read the 10 Things Parents Don't Tell Teachers 

Visited the Illinois State Museum Recently?  Their web site has lots of ready-made lesson plans with tech support to enrich your lessons!

H1N1 (Swine) Flu Links: This New York Times Video is slightly dated, but gives an excellent explanation of what's going on.  The BBC Q & A page has a nice text listing of similar information.  Have a look at the CBS News Interactive "Fighting the Flu" for a nice clickable tour of information.  BrainPop on Swine Flu is a great site filled with videos and activities to help children learn about and prevent the Flu, and even has some good old fashioned paper-and-pencil activities for your kids!

Daylight Saving Time Explained, on Free Technology for Teachers, by the CBS News Sunday Morning Fast Draw Team.  Sorry about the ads - Media... can't live with em, can't live without em...

NaNoWriMo - November is National Novel Writers Month! Read more about it in this blog post by Bill Ferris

FFA Rocks!  Check out the fun at the National FFA Channel on SchoolTube - vids from the recent National Convention and more!  Keynot speaker is hilarious!

More Video Lesson Plans - The Annenberg Media Teacher Resources site had lots of info and ready-made lesson plans, many including short video clips for support.  And guess what - many are closed-captioned, too!  Just look for the "VOD" icon!

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"New" IAR Replaces PARCC in IL

Image from After several years and no small amount of controversy, PARCC in Illinois is being replaced by the IAR: The Illi...

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