Friday, April 11, 2014

Resources from Melissa

Happy Friday!

I wanted to share three learning opportunities with you!

Please let me know if you have any questions! 
(Don't forget you can access netTrekker and Learn360 through Learning Village!)

Melissa Edwards
netTrekker Literacy: Raising Reading Scores (elementary and middle schools)

Using netTrekker’s comprehension support tools, you can impact mastery in all subjects and increase the amount of information your learners can process through reading. Raise scores AND the love of reading! 
  • Read Aloud – Text to Speech Functions
  • Dictionary Hot Key - Definitions and Translations in World Languages
  • Readability – Difficulty Ratings for Reading Text
Learn more about how using netTrekker can impact mastery in all subjects!
When you log into Learn360, in the top left corner, you can find an events calendar for the month. This calendar has video and activity links related to that day in history!

Pinterest Learning Network
You are invited to join our Pinterest Learning Network! Even if you are not able to attend either of these day, if you RSVP for one of them, I will send you the information to contribute an idea/resource in our online forum. Then you will still be able to get all of the resources shared and credit for the workshop!

Monday, April 7, 2014

It is raining resources!

Since it is raining outside today, I decided to go to one of my favorite resource sites to do a search for “rain” to see what I could find!
The resources and ideas just flooded in …
A few of them were the ones I expected …
But some were so much more …
Here are just a few of the many resources found when I searchedThinkfinity:
 I guess you never know what you will find when you search for a term ...
photo credit: ecstaticist via photopin cc

Friday, April 4, 2014


Inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month is now held every April, when publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, libraries, schools and poets around the country band together to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture. Thousands of businesses and non-profit organizations participate through readings, festivals, book displays, workshops, and other events.

In case you were not aware … April is National Poetry Month.
Since we are celebrating the poetry genre this month, I thought I would share some poetry resources that I have used in the past or recently discovered to share with other educators.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Geddit And Don't Forget It

So I found an interesting new site today that I thought I would share with you.  for some this might be old hat for others its brand new and you will really like it.

Let me start with some questions:
How many times does a student come up to you after the class to say that they really do not understand the material?
How often in class do you ask a question where you get the blank stairs or no one raises their hands?

In your mind you may be thinking that the students did not do their work, or just don't care.  But what if there was a student that really does not understand the material but is just afraid to ask questions.  Geddit allows you as the teacher to know how your students are doing at anytime during the class.  It gives a voice to the student that is afraid to ask the question.  As the teacher you can do some Formative Assessment by asking them a question on the fly by sending it to them silently.  The student can tell the teacher silently through the App or site by clicking on the bar graph and sending it to the teacher.  A student can even get the teachers attention by raising their virtual hand.  The one thing that I see is that it help with differentiated instruction by allowing the teacher to see students strengths and weaknesses an then be able to react to them quickly.  Maybe by grouping students that understand the concepts with those who do not for some peer assistance and collaboration.

Above is a quick video about Geddit, what it is and how it works.  The product is platform independent so as long as you have a Wifi enabled device and/or computer connected to the web you can use Geddit.  In the iPad App store you can search for Geddit and download it, or you can open any browser and go to to use the product.  When you get to the site there are just two options, Sign in as a Teacher or Sign in as a Student.  As a teacher you will create your account setup your class and give your students a code to join your class.  It is completely protected from outside influence since you need a code to join.  According to the website creators there is no requirements, or limitations, when it comes to age.  The site is very easy to use and set up, within minutes I had my account created, class setup, app downloaded, website up and created a generic student log in and was testing everything out.

Tune in next week for some ideas on how this can be used in the classroom. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

What's In A Web Page - Things You Should Be Sharing. Part II

Reviewing and getting your students ready for testing always seems to be a daunting task but think of making things easier because as you prepare your students in the classroom for what they will need to know for the testing why not remind them and their parents from your teacher website. It would be great to add information onto your website that will help students beyond the classroom.  

Even if that page starts out with a reminder to the parents that testing is coming up and that their children should be ready for test day by getting plenty of sleep the night before and eat something on the morning of the test.  

A great web page to create would also be one that has the same information abbreviated that you are going over in class on the web with web links they can go to for further information.  

If you are a teacher that will not be changing grade levels or subject areas this page is now available ongoing for your students and parents as a reminder of what is coming up in the fourth quarter.  

Talking with other teachers can help you if you change grade levels or subject areas because you could share your information with them and visa versa so your web site stays up to date.  

With the summer months coming up you also want to have information on your site again that promotes yourself, your class and your school so if there are any potentially new students coming in they will be able to make an informed decision to attend that school.  

Other types of easy quick web pages that you could add to your site:

  • A summer reading list for both incoming and outgoing students.  
  • A list of local summer locations and activities that offer a learning environment in which students are interactive and a part of the learning process.  
  • A page that talks about what students can expect as they enter the new school year in your classroom.  

What other types of pages could you create on your website that would offer the most information?  How about an individual page per Quarter that outlines what you are doing if you are an Elementary teacher.  If you are a subject area teacher you can put that class syllabus on the site.  How about those always great self-promoting pages that outline a great lesson, an incredible learning activity or field trip.  You can create a homework page that lets your students know when assignments are due.  

If you are a Magnet school you can have a page dedicated to outline your school classroom for the time of the year when Parents are looking to enroll their child(ren) into these schools.  Or as a Kindergarten teacher you can have a page that talks about all of the wonderful learning that is going on in your classroom for Parents during Kindergarten registration.  

With all things being said if you do some upfront work on your web page it will pay off in the long run with continued views from students, parents and community members.  It will ensure that the information you are sharing is up to date because all you will have to do ongoing is make small changes to keep things current.  And it will guarantee that you sell sell sell what you are doing in your classroom to get the buy in from whomever is looking at your website.

No User Name Required ...

... in Art.

On Monday Richard Byrne posted "Seven Registration-Free Drawing Tools for Students" in his blog Free Technology for Teachers. Make sure to read his blog post, the drawing tools are really cool. Best of all these are web-based and students do not have to have a log-in to start drawing.

The one that I liked the most was Bomomo. When you go to that web site, you have a blank screen with circles moving around. Your mouse controls the circles. At the bottom of the screen are all sorts of patterns that you can use to create art. As you choose different patterns, different colors are chosen also. 

Below is my art from Bomomo. I think it turned out pretty well.

One of the really cool things is that after creating your art work, you can then save it. I uploaded this art into PicMonkey and added my name to the artwork. (By the way, PicMonkey is another website that you don't have to register for and parts of it is free!)

Go and find your inner artist!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

It Started With a Tweet ...

One day on Twitter I came across this Tweet:

I thought this was interesting and I wanted to see what I could do to help find out some information about the feather.

Did you know that you can search by images in Google? 

I saved a copy of the feather picture to my computer. Then I went to Google Images and clicked on the camera in the search box. Then I dragged a copy of the picture into the search box (I could also upload the image). The first things that were related to the image search was Mrs. Yollis blogpost's about this feather. Her blogpost is located here: Mrs. Yollis' Classroom Blog.  

Then I typed "what bird is this feather from?" in the search box next to the image of the feather. The first thing to come up on my search page was The Feather Atlas


I clicked on Identify Feather; clicked on Get Started; and then choose the pattern and color. As I scrolled through, there were several feathers that looked like the picture above. I am still not exactly sure what bird this feather belongs to, but it could be of an owl or hawk. 

So, I tweeted back to Mrs. Yollis (@lindayollis) the link to The Feather Atlas so her class could continue their detective work.

What bird do you think the feather comes from?

Monday, March 24, 2014

What's In A Web Page - Things You Should Be Sharing. Part I

Let me start by asking you this question… 

What do you do when you open a web page to a site that you think has information about spring and Summer clothing and it is still talking about the upcoming fall collection?  

You would open up another web page with the information on it that you are looking for....right?  

That is the same thing that happens if a parent, community member or even your students do when they go to your web site and there is no information available that they are looking for.  They go somewhere else, and that is not good.  

I see this every day in what I do both in and outside of the school system.  I admit that I may not have the best patience when it comes to outdated web pages but just think about this scenario:
  • I am a parent, living out of state, who is moving to the area this summer and I need to figure out what school I want my child to go to in the fall.  
  • I start looking into the schools that are close to my new home and when I check the teachers’ websites many of them still say "Welcome to the new school year" or "Have a Wonderful Holiday Break."  
That would not be a great way for a prospective parent to start their search of a new school for their child.  This may even cause that parent to reconsider attending a school in the area based on their first impressions of what they see on a teacher’s web page.  

Think of it this way, your web site is selling a product.  Whether that product is something that is tangible that you can hold in your hand or an idea of what there is to offer.  If the web site is not current or full of non-relevant information you will lose the sale, and in a game of numbers could mean the difference between an extra classroom of students and a teacher or combining classrooms of students and losing a teacher.  

What if you are applying for and/or are receiving a grant and part of the requirements are that you keep a current account of activities on your website.  You may lose the grant because of an out of date web page or site.

This scenario may seem extreme and some of you may be saying: 
  • "No way, that's not me." 
  • "I keep my web page up to date."
  • "My students won't go to my webpage so why bother."
  • Some may be saying "It doesn't matter because a parent will see the school web page before mine and that is all they need to see."  
But let me tell you more often than not those first impressions are the ones that stick regardless of how good you or your school is.  

So let’s get away from the negative and look towards some positives.  Just some simple things that can enhance your websites to keep them informative and current for anyone that may be looking at them.

Let’s start with today, we are in the final week of March and we all know what will be starting up at the beginning of April.  Yes, its review and testing time.  Raise your hands if you agree that you will spend the bulk of the quarter reviewing for a week of testing, then retesting.  Caught you, some of you actually raised your hands and that's OK.  

Join me next week to keep in the loop as I talk more about ways to keep your web site up to date. 

photo credit: jinkazamah via photopin cc

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Happy Digital Learning Day!

Do you know what today is?
Along with it being a WONDER Wednesday, it is also Digital Learning Day!
(But don’t worry you can still learn tomorrow and all the other days too!)
In celebration of both of these things, I am going to share 12 Digital Wonders I found on Wonderopolis!
  1. Do Photographers Still Use Darkrooms? (#547)
  2. How Do You Listen to Music? (#1008)
  3. How Are Sound Effects Made? (#950)
  4. How Do You Capture Memories? (#1127)
  5. When is Technology Old? (#883)
  6. What Does It Mean to Go Viral? (#754)
  7. What Can You Discover at the Library? (#924)
  8. How Do Touch Screens Work? (#420)
  9. What is High Definition? (#446)
  10. What is the Smallest Computer? (#292)
  11. What is a Mouse? (#206)
  12. How Does a Camera Work? (#91)

There are so many more learning opportunities on Wonderopolis and all around us!
I challenge you to go wonder, learn, and share!

Monday, January 6, 2014

How can assessment help?

I write a lot about learning …
And the many ways things are connected to learning …
As well as so many inspirations for learning …
Assessment is connected to learning …
But it tends to have a negative connotation to it …
So I mostly stay away from writing about it
But assessment does not have to be a bad thing
It is just showing what you know and where you could use a little more help
While helping some teachers a few weeks ago with some features of ActivInspire, I decided that it would help me if I had a way to get a quick temperature check on things they did and did not know.
So I pulled out the ActiVotes (voting devices) and used the quick response method to ask yes/no questions.
I know you are probably saying that I was not able to collect much data using this method and asking this type of question …
But I was able to get the information I was looking for!
Before meeting with this group, administration has asked me to teach about creating ActivInspire flipcharts.
I found a flipchart on Promethean Planet that would help introduce many of the features available in ActivInspire for creating flipcharts.
So I had the content I needed
But there was a problem
I did not know much about the knowledge and skills of the teachers …
How many of us have sat in trainings where we already knew what was being covered or were so far behind that we did not understand anything that was being covered?
I consider those a waste of time
And I did not want to waste the time of the teachers I was working with!
This is where the assessment comes in … and the ActiVotes!
Using an ActiVote each teacher responded to one question at a time …
And then we continued based on their responses
For example, I asked, “Do you know how to add text to a flipchart?”
Three out of four teachers responded YES, so I asked one to come to the board and show the group how she added text. Then after a quick example and discussion, we moved on
When I asked about adding images to a flipchart, I got some puzzled looks and only got one YES response.
That teacher said that she saved images to her desktop and then inserted them. I agreed with her that was one way to add images, but then I showed the group the images in the resource browser. They had a great time exploring and discovering thing they did not know about before.
Think about how much more I was able to cover for these teachers by not spending the ame amount of time on every feature … whether they knew how to do it already or not
These quick assessments helped me see the areas where I should focus and spend time
I also used these quick assessments to let me know when teachers were overloaded and it was time to quit …
Sure, I may not have covered everything on my list …
But I felt THEIR learning was more important than MY list …
Each group of teachers may not have had the same ActivInspire features covered that day …
But the teachers came to me with different backgrounds and different levels of knowledge, so they did not all need the same things covered …
Analyzing the results of quick assessments helped me to realize those things! 
Each of these teachers not only explored some features in ActvInspire that day but also saw possibilities for a way to use these voting devices in their classrooms.