Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Reflections & New Year's Resolutions

The holidays can be a crazy time of year, so with the words of Ferris Buehler in mind - "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it" - this week I won't be showing you a new cool tool that you should use with your students. Rather, I think it is the perfect opportunity to step back, breathe, and reflect on the first half of the school year so far. My inspiration this week came from an article I read on Edutopia, "Embracing Continuous Improvement with EdTech"

I really hope that you will take a moment to read it and reflect up on it. The gist of the article is basically that when integrating technology into your classroom, it can be a bumpy road. When you see inspirational things that teachers are doing with their students, keep in mind that that kind of teaching does not happen overnight. The article focuses on five main points:

1) Be Transparent:  It's OK to say, "I'm trying something new - I'm not sure if it's going to work out the way I expect." Tell your students, "We're in this adventure together."

2) Learn from failure: We all know the old bicycle metaphor, and we use it with our students. Sometimes picking the bike back up and trying again is a powerful experience.

3) Revise: Analyze and rethink your failure -- tweak your lesson, talk to your students, talk to your peers, seek out advice.

4) Reteach: If it didn't work the first time, try a different approach.

5) Avoid Insanity: We all know Einstein's famous adage about insanity... "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

As you reflect, I also challenge you to make a New Year's Resolution.. not just to get healthy, quit biting your nails, etc., but something for your students. Is there something you want to improve upon in the second half of the year? Something new you want to try? And as always, if it is tech-related, never hesitate to ask for help along the way.. that's what I'm here for!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Even though it doesn't look like it outside, the holidays are just around the corner! Below are some tech ideas to bring the holiday cheer into your classroom.

Scholastic has some resources for holidays around the world. There are digital scrapbooks of different holidays, online games, printable activities, as well as a teacher guide with ideas for extension activities. has games for every season, including a section for Winter Games. There is an arcade and printable puzzles, like hidden pictures, mazes, and a word search.

Jan Brett is one of my favorite authors around the holidays too- she has a website with games, activities, and ideas that go along with her stories.

Laura Candler also has been collecting holiday ideas on her blog, as she says, "Are you looking for great seasonal activities for your classroom? Sometimes it's difficult for upper elementary teachers to find seasonal activities that are fun yet meaningful, so I've created two different collaborative projects to gather seasonal resources all in once place." You can find her collections below.

Finally, this is a link to a list of other links! Most are Christmas themed, but at the bottom there are Christmas Around the World resources as well as some for Kwanzaa and Hanukkah.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

There's an App for That

At one of our iWonder Lite's a few weeks ago I shared some tips on searching for educational apps in the App Store. There are millions of apps out there - some good, some bad, so it is important to check reviews and explore what other educators are using. Here are some places to start searching!

On APPitic, teachers can search for apps by Subject Area, Multiple Intelligences, and even Bloom's Taxonomy. 

The iPad Curriculum has a similar search engine as APPitic, and also includes detailed reviews as to what the app is and how it can be used in the classroom.

iPads in the Classroom is another wealthy resource that not only has app suggestions, but also tutorials, related materials, classroom uses of the iPad, the iPad for Special Education, and Bloom's Taxonomy related apps. 

If you ever come across another fabulous iPad, iPod, or App resource, please pass it along and I'll share it with everyone! 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Blogs, Blogs, and more Blogs!

Did you know that there are TONS of teachers out there in cyber world who are posting their fabulous ideas daily? They blog their projects, ideas, stories, etc., which might inspire a new lesson for you to do with your students. Some of them even have their lessons available to download for free! Here are a couple blogs for each grade level... and just a warning: once you find one blog you like, there are links to several others they follow! (That's why I'm posting this the week before a break- it's just a tad addicting :)


First Grade

Second Grade

Third Grade

Fourth Grade

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Projects by Jen & other fun

Jen Wagner is a fabulous teacher that I got to see last year at the ICE Conference. She has so many great ideas and hosts projects throughout the year to connect classrooms around the world. One of her year round activities is Guess the Wordle. Each day she posts a Wordle that represents a theme or idea, and students work together to guess what it is about. See if you can guess the one below, and check out her blog for more!

Jen's next upcoming project is her Holiday Card Project (I know, I'm not happy about all the holiday commercials I saw during the Bears game either, but if they're going to put it out there we might as well embrace it!). According to Jen, the project "brings in the Holiday Cheer as well as opens up many opportunities to teach geography, mapping, distance, letter addressing, math, printing & handwriting, and art ideas into your classroom." It can be adapted for any grade level- maybe even some classrooms at Central could buddy up for this one! 

Two more links for this week: one is the PBS Kids Lab, where they post new games they are working on. Great for younger students! The second is thanks to Kate M.- The World of Brian P. Cleary, which is based on his books. It has printables, games, a Poem of the Week and Word of the Week, and more.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Parent Teacher Conferences

Have you heard? Conferences are next week! While you are probably far along in your planning and preparations, here are a couple resources I found on teacher's blogs- so whether you can use them this year or save them for next, I hope you find them helpful!

The first is a "guide" for your conference that can be used at any grade level. The freebie also includes some reminders you can send home to parents. I found it at

The second resource is mostly primary, but could be adapted as you see fit for your grade level. It has an idea for a conference reminder, student portfolio, and a "personal report card" for students to reflect upon how they are doing. It is from a blog called What the Teacher Wants

And finally, for some fun, I found a new game website called Learning Games for Kids. They have a variety of games for all subject areas for preschoolers through middle school. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Halloween Activities

Halloween is just around the corner! There are tons of fun ideas out there, including online games and SmartBoard resources. Here are a couple of the best sites I found to celebrate this spooky holiday.

ABCya! has fun games all around, and some very cute Halloween games. I love ABCya because the games are educational, and also separated by grade level. My favorite Halloween game was "Trick or Treat", in which the player has to find the shortest route between houses for trick or treating. The results create different geometric shapes.

I also found a resource that had different SmartBoard activities that could be used around Halloween, from Teachers Love SmartBoards.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sun, Moon, Stars

2nd graders have been working on a project that goes with their science unit of the Sun, Moon, and Stars. I have found a lot of great resources to use during this unit, and some screen shots are below.

BrainPopJr. had some great videos to get students started on their topics.

I also saw a game on Technology Rocks. Seriously's blog that the kids loved, from Compass Learning. Very cute!

And finally, this is a generator from the University of Texas that shows kids how much they would weigh on the Earth vs. the Moon.
The project students have been working on is a KidPix slideshow. Students are making slides for the Sun, Moon, and Stars, including detailed pictures and facts they have learned. Then we are putting the slides together and making a QuickTime movie. I think it will be a great finished project!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Build a Bug

I can't wait to use this site with the first graders this week! The students are going to be inventing their own bugs using KidPix, so I am going to kick off the lesson using this game from Scholastic's Magic School Bus. We'll do it on the SmartBoard, but I bet the kids would have fun playing on their own too!


I'm so excited to start this blog.. it's been a long time coming! In my new role as a tech teacher this year, I'm always looking for new ideas, but sadly I keep forgetting where I found them.. so this blog will serve as a place where I can "store" ideas and hopefully share some with you!