Friday, August 6, 2010


I'm giving some thought to a replacement for last year's missing webpage.

I've been working on a class blog this morning. It is VERY early in the developing stage, but at a quick glance I would LOVE any feedback.
Science Rocks 8th Grade
Design ideas are very welcome as well as the pros and cons of setting something like this up for the kids to access.

Happy Last Friday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Goodbye Summer 2010

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Thing 11.5: Evaluation

1. What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey?
TOUGH question, as there were many great things. I thoroughly enjoyed the lesson on image generators and can foresee that being used the most this year. Wordle and Glogster are awesome, and I've already used Animoto several times. GREAT tools for this new school year.

2. How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals?
I am always looking for new tools to use in the classroom. As our students change and their interests become more challenging, I am excited to learn about things that might get their attention and create some excitement for them to do what is otherwise considered "a boring classroom lesson". Library2Play 2 exceeded my expectations.

3. Were there any take-a-ways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?
I would say all the new tools were my biggest surprises. Each year, we implement new and fun ways to work with students - last year our big focus was Gizmos, QUIA, and Brainpop. The year before that we focused on online testing and activities that replaced some of our paper/pencil tasks. Now this year we will work with a lot of fun, new things that I am sure will excite the students (see question one) and will make it more exciting for me to use when teaching.

4. What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept?
Differently? . . . . I'm not sure I would change a thing. The format is about as user friendly as it gets. The concept, that of exposing us to an everchanging way of using technology, is very important and very helpful to teachers. What I look forward to is another summer of new and exciting lessons to replace those that the kids get bored with from year to year. You guys have done the hard work - you've found and compiled a quick resource for us to begin using from day one in August and keep using throughout the year.

So that is it - I made it and it's not 5 minutes before midnight on the final day before having to complete all the "things" (yes, I did that last time).

Thank you for a great journey and the inspiration to create new excitement for another year in the classroom.

Thing 11: Digital Citizenship

This is a very valuable lesson, not just for students, but for us as teachers and presenters to a middle school child. By the time students reach middle school, they are approaching the age where parents are allowing more freedoms in certain areas. Computers and Internet access are areas where parents feel comfortable giving more rights to their child and an area where they may not be aware of very important guidelines to teach their child.

One area that needs to be shared and reshared with our students is the sharing and receiving of personal information. They are so into facebook and my space, where they freely share facts, names, and identifiers about themselves or post pictures they should reconsider. There are ways to limit access to outsiders, and our students need to have that taught to them. They also need to be aware that less is sometimes better...don't give all the specific details about your life, yourself, your comings and goings. If there is someone reading your facebook as a friend, they already know all these things, AND there are ways to communicate privately on facebook with an individual if more personal information sharing is necessary.

Online commerce may not be as important for students in my class as that of a high school student. There are simple tools and tricks to teach - the visible lock, the hidden costs that get attached as you proceed through a series of "next" buttons to finalize an order, or the importance of not sharing crucial information (SS#, credit card data, etc) with a vendor that is not credible. More important, it will be crucial to help teach how to determine a credible vendor.

There are some legal issues students need to be aware of . . . pirating, hacking, stealing . . . those are terms they may not fully understand. I often find student work very obviously filled with information they have "cut and pasted" into a finished classroom product. While the students tries very hard to convince me they did not do this, the varying type fonts and sentence structures throughout a paper or simply the vocabulary used can easily identify work that is not truly that of the student. Students will sometimes proudly share how they acquired a "free" copy of everyone's favorite game that requires purchasing.

These are just a few areas of importance regarding a student's responsibility towards digital citizenship. The lessons should be ongoing throughout their education, being repeated often during a school year and being revisited as they move on to the next grade.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Thing 10: Virtual Worlds / Second Life; Gaming

This was my first experience with a second life virtual world website. My name was "teacher spore" and that was the most amusing part of the game for me. I can see students really catching on to this, as they spend so much time on video and interactive games that seem like this. What I either didn't catch on to, or didn't allow my imagination to see, was how this could be used in a science classroom. I logged on to a few other bloggers' entries regarding this activity and saw where some came across parts of the game that would be inappropriate for our students. It's certainly something I will continue to play with and investigate, but at this point in the program I'd say I would have to pass on incorporating this into my classroom instruction.
(yes, that's Teacher Spore there on deck overlooking the Hudson River. I guess I can tell my students I went to New York this summer)

I'm open for ideas and would love to hear how this has been successfully used with students in core subjects. Off to the next activity!!!

Is it really almost over?????? Skyward training last week, Eduphoria this week, and three more Library2Play2 lessons then the countdown to Thanksgiving begins ;o)
(click the gig'em to join in)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Thing 9: Slideshare

I like this option for presenting and sharing slide shows. I mentioned in a previous post that I was having some anxiety about our current web hosting options changing to a new server and software. I am not as familiar with this, so things will be slow going for me in August until I get the hang of it.

On my previous website, and using Front Page, I could publish any power point presentations easily. This allowed students to view a slide show as a station in a set of classroom activities, it provided students the chance to view notes from home if they had been absent, and would be available to students who might be studying at home in the evening if they could not put their hands on their classroom notes.

Having this option to upload power point slide shows will now allow me to post these on our classroom blog in addition to our web page (when I get it figured out). Very comforting to have an alternative to use in the meantime.

As for student use, this will be very fun for them - they can create their own presentations, upload to a share program and post them on our classroom blog. This will make it easy for them to share between peers as well as sharing with their families from how to show off their work.

Monday, July 26, 2010

s letter C letter I E letter N C letter E
letter R IMG_5621_3 C K letter S

Thing 8: Screencast

My daughter recently created a blog for our family, providing each member rights to post and not just comment. Several members have had difficulty posting a comment. Whether they didn't accept their blog invite correctly or they just don't get the process for making a new post.....there are only 4 of us that have posted anything and I won't even tell you how many there are that should be posting.

I used Screencast-o-Matic to walk through the steps to logging in on our family's blog. I did it quickly, with no voice recording (it was too early in the morning when I did it and I hadn't had enough coffee yet) but the process was VERY simple and is very helpful.

The only thing I did not like was the size the movie appears on the post. I edited the width on the program but in both saved versions, it still appears the same small size in my post. Any ideas out there for how to override this? I know the user can click on "full screen" but it provides a very blurry view when you do that.

I can see many good uses for this in class - from letting students use it for their own projects to using it to show them how to participate on specific parts of our webpage, allowing them to all work at their own pace and hear directions for a part of an activity when they are actually ready for it.

I am also one of a team on our campus that is in charge of working with teachers on gradebook. If any of you experienced IGPro issues yourself or with peers, you know how difficult that program was for many of us. This video development would be so helpful to show teachers individual steps for them to review when trying to post grades.

This will be a fun tool to use this next year!!!

Thing 7: Video Resources

This is one of our classes all time favorites from this past school year.

As the year progressed in the 09-10 school year, it got to the point where there were more days that opened with a video clip than not. I found YouTube to be my greatest resource, while hulu or united streaming were other great sources. The reason YouTube became our favorite was due to the large variety of cartoons and funny clips that would address an otherwise serious and important topic. Here is one of our several classroom playlists.
The following video was the first to get us thinking about how short clips could enhance lessons. It was a student favorite, the motivator for our science team to find more sources, and one we replayed many times even up to the last day.

I recently finished teaching summer school - I worked with students from all middle schools around our district and started our first day with a "They Might be Giants" video. Those first day stares of "who the heck is the stupid lady" changed in just a few days as we continued to start each day's lesson with a clip of catchy music or humor or one that would get them thinking for the day. . . . .whatever it took to make an otherwise unpleasant situation (who wants to be in summer school for 7 hours a day, right?)

Thing 6: iTouch Apps

I am probably one of two people left that does not have an iphone. BUT there are enough users around me that I get to enjoy some of the apps they have as well as make requests of those I see frequently to test out & enjoy apps I've heard of or would like to see.

In order to complete the lesson on apps, I found two at random I thought could be incorporated in our current curriculum.
The app for star gazers seems pretty interesting and would allow students the opportunity to see constellations and galaxies, planets and sky conditions, while adjusting the view as if looking through a telescope.
My students have always founds some fascination in our moon and trying to understand the phases. This app will give a visual of phases to come, or allow them to select the next or most recent full moon. At first glance, it doesn't have a lot of elaborate bells and whistles, but would still keep an 8th grader's attention.

Use of an itouch in the library can be as little or as much as the teacher would like. If students are working on a unit or topic research project, stations could be situated with individual units focusing on a particular area. Once finished at one itouch, they could move to a new station or setup. Take Chemistry as an example - one itouch station could focus on the periodic table. That unit would have the periodic table app loaded, with the teacher's other manipulatives there to help them answer required questions. Station two could be to practice chemical formulas. There is a chemical formula app which could be made available at this station to guide students while they are working on this section of their project. It would almost be like a virtual scavenger hunt.

Thing 5: Microblogging

This activity should create numerous opportunities to keep our students attention. Regarding Facebook, it is something they are very comfortable with and want to log in to as often as possible. With that in mind, we could either develop a group or "science page" to allow students to comment on posts or ideas between each other and their teachers. We can post links, videos, assignments, and other classroom related bits of information, knowing they are going to see this. With our recent webpage changes in our district, the website my class relied on for the past 10 years is gone and I'm not quite up with the new software yet. I think I'm going to incorporate facebook for now until I can get a handle on our new web creating tools.

As for Twitter, this past week and the events with Lois the Corpse Flower were a great opportunity to get my first experience with this microblogging tool...and I have to say I was not immediately impressed with it. I do have my newly developed account and will continue to view and participate in other Twitter links, but as a quick exposure I'd say it is not something I'll be using as frequently as my other new tools I've been learning about in this class.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thing 4: Video Hosting (You Tube)

JUST AS PRACTICE: I've uploaded my animoto here.

This past school year, we used You Tube videos for some of our teacher staff development. It allowed us to view and hear an explanation for activities we were responsible for completing. I can see this working very well for student use. Creating a web page or blog with a series of videos that walk a student through a step or stage of a lengthy, self paced activity would help keep kids on their own pace while still providing teacher instruction at just the right moment.

As for uploading student work, this was very helpful during a recent project our 8th graders participated in last spring. Those that created a movie on their apple were able to save and upload to You Tube for easier classroom presentation, where all we had available was a Dell. It also allows students to share their projects on a common playlist, allowing them to view and comment on each others finished work.

BTW: We start many many of our lessons with You Tube clips. While creating and uploading our own was the point of this lesson, the ones we use are more often those already posted by others. There is a series called 'They Might Be Giants' with several topics set to music. There is a lengthy collection of all the ending songs to any Bill Nye you would ever want. The kids LOVE these, and even up until the last day of school, they would ask "can we watch Timmy with the evil Global Warming?"

Thing 3: Like Skype

So I would say things have definitely developed and improved over the past 100 plus years.

Skype provides a fun approach to allowing students to participate in a variety of activities - this might be bringing a speaker into the classroom, providing a mentor or tutor to students in an after school program, or allowing students to join other classes from near and far to work on joint projects. These projects could be blog based with the Skype option to allow interaction at the next level.

April, I say we add this to our blogging project from the spring this next year!!!!

Thing 2: Image Generators - Bookr

Maybe it's late and my mind might be fried for the day, BUT I did not like Bookr. I can see the advantages to using a tool like this to allow kids to make a creative product for any classwork, projects or research they do. In the short visit to Bookr, I did not find a lot of flexibility or creativity. Again, it's late so I will be sure to visit the site again tomorrow and give it a second chance.

I found a similar website that is VERY user friendly, and provides a large variety of creative templates, images, and tools. I used Mixbook and was able to create a photo book. which can be viewed here. Students could either do a google search of images they would like or they could participate in a project where they journal a lab or their work with digital cameras then insert their images on a mixbook album/book. In searching their public gallery, there are many samples of books under the education tab.

Here is one created on the water cycle for 5th graders.

Here is one created to explain the concept of acids and bases.

These books can be ordered for print which could make fun gifts to a school library or to parents and teachers.

Thing 2: Image Generators - Voice Thread

Checked out VoiceThread and decided it was my least favorite of the toys that Thing 2 had to offer. This may appeal to some students, and will be presented to them as an option when we begin our projects in the fall. But, I still say Glogster and Animoto are my two favorites. One more to go before moving on to the next thing....time for Bookr. Stay tuned

Thing 2: Image Generators - Glogster

Another GREAT tool - Glogster will be a great addition to our classroom. Have any of you used this site before? I'm curious about the membership versus using the basic for free - can I set up my kids on the basic or do I need a subscription? VERY awesome tool - I'm off to checkout VoiceThread!!! . . . just when I think I've found the best tool, I move on. Let's see what this one brings

Thing 2: Image Generator - Animoto

Create your own video slideshow at

- so between Voki and Animoto, Animoto wins hands down!!! What a great tool for kids to use to create a collection of images, labels, and findings on a topic. . . AND have fun while they do it. I guess it helped win me over by testing with a few pics from my daughter's wedding. The only drawback is price - if you want to create a video or project longer than 30 seconds, you have to subscribe. At a quick glance, I can't tell if it is a one user or I could buy a subscription and allow all kids to use it??? I'll have to research (too close to retirement to make that mistake, right?)

Create your own video slideshow at

Monday, July 19, 2010

Thing 2: Image Generators - Testing Wordle

In comparing wordle to wordsift, I found I liked wordle better. Students can keep a running list of related words for a topic. They can then enter all their words, save as a jpg. then use Adobe Acrobat to embed a link on each word to show its definition.

Another feature I liked was the way key words are emphasized, repeated words allow for a visual connection and the site allows to randomly sort and resort words for a variety of finished products.

Thing 2: Image generators - Testing Voki

I found that Voki is cool, and probably something the kids would like, but not all "that". It would be helpful for an online activity, blog or interactive test to give kids directions along the way at places where they typically get stuck.

Thing 1: Registration

July 19th and I'm just starting my Library2Play2 class. The past few weeks have been filled with summer school and excessive heat, but now I and my amazing summer cherubs are ready to begin our official summer.

Task one - view and comment on "The Networked Student". I enjoyed the video and the instant ideas it sparked. A fellow teacher on my home campus organized a series of blogs for a joint project our classes participated in during this past spring. Between my students and hers, groups were formed with common research topics. Each group would perform their own search into their assigned topic, share this information on the blog, and post a variety of pictures, movies, music and links made available to their virtual classmates. While this was our first attempt with online networking, it was a huge success. The overachieving student ran with the assignment, searching and posting as much as they could find. The hesitant, unsure student was comforted in having a place to get started, a place to see what others had found and to get a nudge as to what to do or where to look next. The teachers, well....April and I had the best time. While we provided a lot of question and answer support, for the most part I would say this was the easiest teaching we've done in a long time. Personally, I found myself in the role of student as much as that of the teacher. I learned a lot about how to participate in a networking activity, as well as some new tech tricks the kids shared.

I think this role would suit our librarians on campus. In the traditional role, they are there to guide students to the right book for the right information or ideas for assignments. With a networking assignment, the student does much self-teaching as they research. They would benefit from the guidance of someone who can show them the ropes in this not so traditional classroom experience. A nudge in the right direction and some help finding resources is all our students need in an otherwise self-motivating activity.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010