Tag Archive | Web 2.0

Shower Keyboarding

I wish I could take credit for this idea, but can’t (click the picture to see it in action).  I saw it somewhere about ten years ago and have been using it ever since. I love that it not only teaches kiddos how to use a keyboard, but they can move around the board and practice spelling while doing so! I know that so many kiddos can just do the real thing on a computer, phone, or tablet, but for me it’s about the movement. Below are what I can remember of creating this.

  1. cut a shower curtain in half
  2. measure out 5 equal rows
  3. mark out the keys; the space bar is equivalent to 5 letters & others are equivalent to 2 letter key
  4. outline the keys in chisel point permanent marker
  5. label each key in chisel point permanent marker
  6. store in giant Ziploc bag, after folding flat

If kiddos have to keep their shoes on when using this, make sure they understand that they need to walk on it. If they can go barefoot, they can hop around from key to key and it will still in tact. I’ve used it for kiddos to practice spelling, collaboration skills, Morning Meeting Activity, and for kiddos who need a bit of extra movement in their day.

Two other ideas, that the kiddos brought up today were to also make a calculator to practice facts and a clock to practice time.  For the clock, their arms become the hour hand and their legs become the minute hand.  I’ve done this with hula hoops in the past and they love contorting themselves to tell the correct time!


Soaking Up November

Being a techie teacher I was quite excited when @JudyArzt invited me to her class for a Skype session with Alan November!  I use his book, Empowering Students with Technology, in two of the courses I teach and read it myself as a graduate.  @JudyArzt and I agreed that she and I would be mum during the Skype interview so that the students could ask their questions.  Can I just say how hard that was for me?  I was definitely using my wait time because when it comes to tech I can definitely monopolize the conversation, and having Alan November there to chat with I so easily could have done that!  I did get two questions in, as a follow up to his responses to others’, but focused on capturing the conversation on Twitter.  The Storify of those tweets is here, but I wanted to take a moment to reflect on a few things he said.

One of the first questions was asked by @reisc25 about parent involvement.  Alan’s point struck me, not because of the tech solutions he provided, but because of how he removed it from tech.  Here I am, this teacher that strives herself in using technology to keep parents informed (Twitter, Facebook, website, Evernote) and have used DVD in the past, but these simple tips are just that…simple!  Not to mention that they are a fab way to maintain student relationships!

Another student asked at what age to put children’s work online.  I know that not everyone will agree with him, or me, but I felt validated.  I am of the mind that we should have children online as soon as possible.  If they can click their way through their parents’ smartphones and tablets, then they are ready to click their work online.  With the advent of touch technology, doing such things makes working with tech intuitive for kiddos.  In addition to that, I firmly believe that if we get kiddos on social media in particular then digital citizenship skills will be like breathing.  I say social media because when I think of putting student work online I think of portfolios, and immediately think of social media because of the reflective piece of portfolios and the learning process.

With all of the chatter going on in education about assessment and accountability the next question was pretty timely.  This student asked about whether Alan foresaw there being an assessment for technology, and how kiddos would fare with state and national assessments going tech.  His responses are below, but the rebel in me found his comment about no standards interesting.  But it also got me thinking.  If tech standards would be obsolete, than what about other standards?  Tech makes so much possible that doesn’t it make all other content standards obsolete?  He also commented on keyboarding, and I whole-heartedly agree with ditching cursive and replacing it with keyboarding.  He suggested some alternatives for kiddos to practice that skill, and I will be posting about an idea I kidnapped from someone about ten years ago that would also be an inexpensive alternative.

Thanks to @JudyArzt for the invite!  Thanks to @globalearner for taking time out of his day to Skype in.  And thanks to EDUC584 for asking thoughtful questions!  I appreciated the learning experience!

Pin It!

Thanks to a friend, I am now a pinner.   When she first sent me the invite I was at a ‘not another social network’ stage.  But then she kept sending me links of things that she found on Pinterest.  And so I decided I should take a peek.

First, Pinterest is a site built upon collecting things that interest you and sharing that with others.  You can collect images, videos, sites, blogs, games, purchases.  Whatever you choose.  And teachers are well known for collecting. It allows me to collect sites in a visually appealing way; there has to be an image associated with what you pin.  And because I work with younger children I know the importance of meeting the needs of a variety of learners, the combination of visuals and text are helpful!  Of course the educator in me couldn’t help but start thinking about all of the educational things I could do with it!

Professionally, I’ve begun boards related to digital citizenship and kind-heartedness.  Pinterest is a perfect site to collect articles, websites, and what-not around topics that are important to you.  For me it is digital citizenship and anything that inspires kiddos to be kind to each other.  But I’ve also been able to collect curriculum related resources.  I love how this allows me to connect to fellow educators in another way (in addition to Twitter).  I’ve followed a few more education blogs since I’ve started pinning, too!

Now…in the classroom…I see a great deal of potential for it.  I am an avid of Symbaloo.  I have a great deal of Symbaloo webmixes on my classroom website.  I like that I can create visual buttons for all of the users to access.  But here is the problem, oftentimes I like to pull out a few of those resources for my kiddos to access.  For example, when we are learning multiplication facts I like to pull out specific games that will let my kiddos practice them in a fun way.   I often use Tumblr to aggregate those resources, but I really would prefer to provide them with a visual.  Pinterest would allow me to do that!  I can pull together specific games related to time out of all of the time games I have and post little notes on them so that they can determine which would be best for them!

Those are all great ways I can use them as an educator, but are also some stellar ways for my kiddos to use them.  Did I mention that there’s an app for that?  Whether you use Android or Apple there is.  This makes the application much easier to integrate in the classroom.  Here are a few ideas I have for how it could be used by students:

    • Student Portfolio ~ I currently use Evernote in the classroom as a student portfolio & do love the multi-modal capabilities.  But I could just as easily see this be done with Pinterest.  Students could take a snapshot of their work, upload it, and then write a reflection.  They could also video record their reflection and post it.
    •  Research ~ They could gather resources for a research project and write their notes right on the pin.
    • Share Books ~ They could post images of the book jackets, rate them, write book reviews, develop theories about characters.  Speaking of characters…
    • Character Pinterests ~ They could create boards that demonstrate their understanding of a character or historical figure.  For example (we happen to be reading Despereaux) they could locate images of light and revenge to demonstrate what is important to Roscurro the rat.
    • Timelines ~ They could develop a timeline of a typical day of a historical figure (we happen to be exploring Native Americans) and post images that demonstrate what things they would most likely do during a day: hunt, skin, tend to the corn, etc.
    • Scientific Procedures ~ Couldn’t they capture images of the process they went through during an experiment and capture their notes of it along the way?
    • Problem Solving ~ They could do the same for explaining how they solved a mathematical problem.
    • Explore Language ~ What a fun way to create pictorial representation of vocabulary and/or phonetics they are currently exploring? It could even become a visual dictionary for them!!!<span style=”color: orange;”>Student Portfolio</span>
    • Digital Story Telling ~ Pull together images and write captions to pull together a cohesive story.  They could do the same thing with non-fiction writing and create an infographic!!!

I am sure this is just the tip of the iceberg.  I’m also thinking it would be a good way to group together student projects instead of listing them on my website.  When they all publish something, I could pull them together on a board and make it one-stop shopping!  I would love to hear some ideas of how you have used or would use Pinterest with your students!

BrainPOP! Citizens

I can not say enough about BrainPOP! and BrainPOP! Jr.  They are incredible kiddo friendly sites with informative videos on a variety of topics.  Each video is accompanied with a quiz and Activity pages that may include a graphic organizer, vocabulary page, and an activity. Sometimes kiddos like to learn more and there are sections for that ~ FYI and Q&A.   Not to mention the fantastic BrainPOP! Educators section they have with an array of resources, including webinars.

For this post I will be focusing on some specific content available on the websites for: Cyber Safety.  There are a variety of ways to stay safe online and the folks at BrainPOP! have resources available for both age groups.  They also have a webinar available in the BrainPOP! Educators section to get you familiar with the resources available.

You will probably notice that there are more resources available for the BrainPOP! site (grades 4 and up).  This makes sense considering that young adolescents are more likely to be online and engaged in social media.  I found about ten BrainPOP! videos available with topics on:

Each video covers one of the nine elements of Digital Citizenship.  You will also notice that there is also an Online Safety Poster that you can customize for just your kiddos.  In addition to these topics there is an Online Safety Game available.  There are an array of resources available in the FYI section that you could jigsaw your class; having kiddos responsible for reading and reporting on one of the top tabs.

You can use a lot of the BrainPOP! resources listed above with primary aged kiddos (K-3), but you may like the audio – visual feature of of BrainPOP! Jr.  The closed captioning is a favorite feature for my kiddos because they like seeing how to correctly spell the words.  Not to mention that Annie’s voice reads roll overs.  BrainPOP! Jr. has an Internet Safety, Blogs, and E-Mail videos available.  This is perfect for this age group because many of them are beginning to explore social media sites like Club Penguin and Facebook and have a tendency to talk to strangers online (even though they wouldn’t do that off line).  There are even more resources available in BrainPOP! Jr.; they have a comic, topic specific game, and other multi-modal activities available.  Just check the bottom of the page for them, the kiddos LOVE them!!!

Other videos that I’d like to point are the BrainPOP! Jr. Bullying, Anger, and Friends videos.  While not cyber safety specific; relevant.  Students need to practice positive social skills off line, or face – to – face.  It is during this practice that they will acquire skills necessary for their online lives.  It is helpful for them to understand friendship; how to be a good one and knowing what they want from one.  They should know how to recognize and control their anger; know what triggers them.  This type of self awareness will help prepare them for positive online relationships and conduct.


This may sound a bit late coming from a Tweet-a-holic like myself, but I just got around to using Storify. I have had it bookmarked in my Twitter and Facebook Symbaloo for quite some time, but just have not had the time, or need, to use it. Until today!!!

My students have classroom Twitter accounts that we use for various things. This year we will be using them as a way to share books, TweetQuest discoveries, and learning with folks (like BrainPOP! and BrainPOP! Jr.) outside of our classroom.  After working on creating (safe) age-appropriate profiles and outlining our Twittequette, we began sharing and learning.  My students have already posted their updated Hopes and Dreams as well as participated in a TweetQuest about Kate DiCamillo.  But…I wanted to find a way to share their use of the social network.

This is where Storify comes in.  There are a variety of tools that can be used to share and/or archive tweets.  Some of my favorites are The Archivist and paper.li (more are listed in my Symbaloo).  But I wanted something that was a bit more visual and would allow me to edit the content.  Storify does just that.  You can choose from a variety of tools, not just Twitter, to create a story.  You can pull from Google, Flickr, Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr, and more!  The two stories I created today (each in less than a half hour) are below.

[&lt;a href=”http://storify.com/merciermagic/hopes-and-dreams&#8221; target=”_blank”&gt;View the story “Hopes &amp; Dreams” on Storify&lt;/a&gt;]

[&lt;a href=”http://storify.com/merciermagic/kate-dicamillo-chat&#8221; target=”_blank”&gt;View the story “Kate DiCamillo Chat” on Storify&lt;/a&gt;]

I will probably be creating a how-to video later on and will post that as soon as I do!

Project 365

Since I have been on Twitter I have seen tweets about project 365.  I think I even saw my youngest sister post about it on Facebook.  I asked @gregkulowiec about it last night after he tweeted about it. A quick Twitter search led me to a link thY summed it up as this:
     * take a picture a day for 365 days
     * snap pix of things that are important to you
     * create a photo journal of a year of your life
     * share your pix with others.

I can see how a project like this could be difficult to stick with.  For one you have to become very aware of your surroundings.  You will want to try to snap a different picture each day. You are sharing a piece of yourself when participating in a project like this.  All can be daunting, frightening, and intimidating.

Despite all of this look at the power in a project like this!  Not only do you get to hone your photo skills, but you learn new things about yourself.  You may discover new interests. Or upon looking back at your photos you will notice patterns and uncover new passions.  So let’s imagine for a moment that we did this with students.  Of any and all ages.  Obviously, guidelines would need to be set up from the go, but after that…

What a gift we could give our students! Showing them how to be keen observers of life. Their lives and the lives of others. Showing them how everything is important, no detail is too small. I remember one year, as part of a writing unit my students took photos of things that were important or of interest to them, one of my students took a breath taking photo of his aging grandmother’s hand.  What a window of what he valued and how attentive to detail he was.  Not only is this a gift for our students, but for us as well, seeing our students in a new way.

I will be taking the project 365 challenge and posting it to one of my blogs.  I haven’t quite decided whether it is best to throw it on here and tag it #project365, If I am going to post to my class Tumblr account and invite my students to join in, or both.  I am excited either way!

XtraMath: A Site to ❤

I was visiting one of my favorite blogs when I came across the website XtraMath.  Kristen has such great resources and she chatted up this math resource so much that I had to immediately check it out.  I liked what I saw and created an account for my classroom.  While I am not a fan of kill and drill, I do think it is incredibly important that children know there facts well.  We all have situations where we need to add ‘on our feet’ and in order to protect ourselves and financial security … fact fluency is important. 
The website makes it easy to sign up and create a classroom.  It is easy for children to sign into.  And they can access it on any device.  I was quite pleased that my kiddos could complete XtraMath activities on the iPod.  Kiddos can also complete XtraMath at home.  Teachers can print out flyers that provide parents with the information they need to set up the home computer for their child to easily access XtraMath.  My kiddos were incredibly excited about going home to ‘play’!
In addition to the ease of use are the friendly progress reports.  This is a report for one of my kiddos from yesterday.  He was able to complete two activities.  The report show which facts he got correct and incorrect.  It also shows which facts he knows in 3 seconds or less (☺) and which he ran out of time (⌛) to answer.  Data is shown in a couple of other ways as well.  There is a chart that shows which facts have been mastered as well as a line graph that charts the child’s progress over time.  The nice thing about the reports is that they get emailed to the teacher and parent directly.  The reports make it easier for me to decide when a child is ready to move on to the next type of computation.
XtraMath has some quick and easy video tutorials on their homepage for teachers, parents, and students.  It even suggests one way for it to be managed in the classroom.  My classroom is a workshop model and so my students are engaged in a mini – lesson, independent work, and then a wrap-up.  The indpendent work time is when I have them engaged in a Have-To, an activity or task that has to be completed before they move on to a Choose-To.  The Have-Tos take on many forms that include blogging, art activities, games, and/or worksheets.  Once they have completed the Have-To they are able to choose another activity, a Choose-To.  Originally, I was going to have XtraMath as a Choose-To, but because I value fact fluency it is going to be a Have-To 2.  In other words, before the kiddos can do a Choose-To they need to complete at least one XtraMath activity.
I am really excited to see the progress of their fact fluency and look forward to passing that excitement on to them!