Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tips for Teaching with Media

Edutopia has published a very good resource, Ten Top Tips for Teaching with New Media. The technology suggestions are good, but what makes the publication most helpful are the specific suggestions for using the technology with your students.

Use VoiceThread to establish the idea of collaborative, productive activities early in the school year. Teach students how to use a start page such as iGoogle that they can access anywhere there is Internet accessibility and that will enable them to have their productivity tools available. Show students how to use Wordle to analyze their own writing. (The image posted in this blog is a Wordle of the blog's text.)

The suggestions continue. Download this PDF and see which ideas will work well in your classroom.

Photography Resolution Amended

St. Francis of Assisi is considered by some to be the patron saint of animals. His special day in the church calendar is October 4. In our church we have a special blessing of our pets on that day. This friendly bunny was one of the pets blessed in our service this past Sunday (October 4).

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Photography Resolution Amended

No... I'm not confused about what season it is. I was at a museum that displays many of their items to sell... regardless of the season!

Be Creative with Your Photos

I found an interesting way of telling a story... or illustrating a story... or several other fun ways to share information with text and photos. It's called scrapblog (http://www.scrapblog.com/). Their blog describes the product well...
Scrapblog is a free, web-based service for creating and sharing digital scrapbooks.
There are templates to help you start with simple contextual sets of instructions as you go through the building process. You can watch videos, too.

You get to play with photos, stickers, backgrounds, text and balloons, shapes, video, and frames. I used only the free ones, but some of the others were certainly tempting. After making choices of photos or stickers or shapes or whatever you can change your mind and revise your scrapbook. You are not locked into your choices.

I found many articles about the company and the product on the web... and they all seem to be positive.

An online scrapbook would be an interesting way to summarize and then publicize a field trip or a school year. A digital scrapbook would be a great way to invite parents to an open house or a school play. Whether you and your students are into scrapbooking or digital storytelling or just having fun with photos and video and audio, this application is worth investigating.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Photography Resolution Amended

My daily photo resolution has turned into a weekly photo resolution. Maybe I'll do the daily photo next year. :) This photo shows a restaurant which has played an important role in the history of its town.

Access Music and Sound Clips for Multimedia Projects

I have checked several options for finding sound files to legally use with multimedia projects... without much success. SoundSnap (http://www.soundsnap.com/) looks like it might be the answer. It has 100,000 sound effects and music loops... and was visited by more than 3,000,000 people last year.

I like the fact that SoundSnap is an online platform, so I don't have to download an application. If you consider using SoundSnap, be sure to check the terms of use with respect to age. This is an application for teachers and students 18 or older.

You must create an account to use SoundSnap. With the free account you can download up to five clips each month. There is a charge to download more; however, special rates are available for educators.

The sound files are organized in categories: animals, comic and film, exteriors, house, human, industry and machines, interiors, multimedia, music loops, music samples, nature, science fiction, sound art, sports, transport, and unreal ambiances. You can also find sounds you want to use through a search feature.

As I've tried other sources of sounds and music, I've found it challenging to find sounds and music that I like. Maybe it's my taste! But, it's been frustrating. I like what I'm finding at SoundSnap.

Check this music: click here!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Finding New Web 2.0 Websites

I love shopping in office supplies stores. It's fun to find colorful, useful tools to use when working. Nowadays we often do our shopping online... and some of my new "tools" are web 2.0 websites. I have favorites (and I may list them in a future post), but I always enjoy checking out new sites.

If you, too, enjoy looking for new tools, you may find Web 2.0 Tools and Applications a fun... and useful... place to explore.

Photography Resolution Amended

I couldn't resist taking a photo of these two horses who were enjoying a Sunday afternoon as we were on a Sunday drive. They stood as still as statues except when you saw a tail swing at some insects!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Prepare for Constitution Day

Constitution Day is celebrated in the USA on September 17. If you're looking for useful materials about the Constitution, you will be pleased to know that TeachersFirst has reviewed a very good site which provides Constitution resources for educators. You'll find lesson plans and activities in the links for teachers and students of all grade levels.

This site was created by the National Constitution Center, so it should be accurate and filled with good ideas! You'll find realtime and virtual activities, free materials and others that you can buy, games, lesson plans, and podcasts.

Check out this site at http://www.teachersfirst.com/single.cfm?id=10246

Constitution Center, Philadelphia, PA, USA

http://www.flickr.com/photos/fl/ / CC BY 2.0

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Fields Still Amaze Me

I grew up in the city. So, large fields that seem to stretch on and on still amaze me. I haven't figured out yet what this particular crop is. It seems to have lots of little white blossoms. I didn't do anything to adjust the photo. It was just a bright sunny day and great for taking pictures.

One thing I've noticed as I've started taking photos again... I'm not going to be taking photos everyday for the remainder of the year as I started back in January. That was fun, but I have too many other projects going on to do that at the moment. So, for now, it's once a week.

Monday, August 31, 2009


Hello! I've been looking forward to returning to writing, sharing, and taking pictures. The time away has been busy with teaching workshops and working on a variety of projects.

Fall semester started today and I met with my first class. We're beginning the semester by learning how to use Inspiration in the classroom. It's a great product... and one that's useful for just about any grade level and any subject.

After class Phil and I drove around the area looking for interesting subjects to capture with a camera. We both took turns with the camera. He took some great shots of red barns. My favorite of the photos I took was this tree. I think you can see how the sunlight made it sparkle!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Where in the World is...

Just a short note to my friends...

I'm in the midst of a six-month hiatus and will return before the end of August. I will be back with more ideas for using technology to help our students learn!


Monday, February 23, 2009

Classroom Management and Project-Based Learning

A very useful article about classroom project management at Edutopia.org led me to an exciting fourth-grade web site. Terry Smith is the teacher of a class at Eugene Field Elementary in Hannibal, Missouri USA.

The classroom management article is well worth reading. The focus is on how you manage all the activity of both the students and you, the teacher, using techniques from industry, so that you can accomplish your goals. The techniques discussed do work. I can testify to that based on our use of them in the school district where I used to work. We used these ideas for everything from the classroom to the cafeteria, teachers to technology.

The article links to a Learning With Projects web page for Terry Smith’s class. This page links to projects pasts and present. Projects include class blogs, wiki pages, Taiwan, video conferences, Internet chess, world problems, using the XO – OLPC, Landmark project, monsters on the net, Monarch butterflies, coral reef project, an international writing project, and many more. Global friends that the students have made while working on these projects live in Taiwan, UK, Japan, Pakistan, Canada, South Africa, and the State of Washington. The home page for the class this year can be found at http://www.smithclass.org/index.html. You must explore this page to truly see these students’ projects.
“Kids use their thinking skills and communicate, plan, problem solve, create, and evaluate.”
If you want your students to learn and to think on a higher level, look at these ideas. If you want to integrate technology in the curriculum that you teach, start here. But, don’t think that these ideas are limited to the fourth-grade. Similar ideas can be used at any grade level.

Photo: http://flickr.com/photos/gaelic-arts/234996346/
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 46

Pathway into the woods.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Journaling + Reflections + Technology = Thinking about Teaching

An online resource for language arts describes several different ways to use journaling in the classroom.
  • Metacognitive Journal
  • Double Entry Journal
  • Reflective Journal
  • Dialectical Journal
  • Journal Activities
  • Response Journal
  • Learning Log
  • Synthesis Journal
  • Speculation About Effects Journal
The site provides ideas from which we can choose appropriate strategies for our own classrooms. As I examined the various descriptions, I saw ideas close to what I do in my classroom.

I ask my students to write reflections about various topics that we discuss. Our reflections have three parts: (1) description of the topic, (2) how the student will use it in his/her classroom as a teacher, and (3) the pros and cons the student sees in using the described topic.

In past semesters, these reflections were standalone assignments. Now, however, I ask the students to write these assignments in their blogs. If I were teaching high school students, I might ask them to post their reflections in comments to a blog that I maintained.

Julie Reed and Christopher Koliba in Facilitating Reflection: A Manual for Leaders and Educators state that
Journals are a written form of reflection in which students consider their service experience in light of specific issues, such as those contained in course content. Students can examine their thoughts and experiences through journals, and further the learning they have done in relation to the service.
I’m asking my students to reflect before they use these ideas in the classroom. And, of course, I hope they also reflect afterwards!
Before instructing students to complete journals, one must consider the learning objective that the journal is intended to meet.
I hope that my students discuss the ideas they learn in class with others in addition to thinking about the ideas themselves. By posting their initial reflections in their blogs, they are opening a door for communication and discussion with other educators (and pre-educators) throughout the world. They are also learning to be transparent. And, hopefully, this experience will set the stage for their involvement in collaboration with other educators.

Melissa Kelly, in an article about journaling for About.com, lists benefits of journaling, including

  • Sort out experiences, solve problems and consider varying perspectives.
  • Examine relationships with others and the world.
  • Reflect on personal values, goals, and ideals.
  • Summarize ideas, experience and opinions before and after instruction.
  • Witness his academic and personal growth by reading past entries.
I think that by writing the types of reflections that my students do in their blogs, they are learning about the topics, thinking about them before use, and doing so in an open manner that invites others to discuss the topics with them.

This method of journaling is not confidential. However, it is a good start for students to learn how to think through ideas before trying them in the classroom. And being able to comment on their blogs allows others and myself to discuss these ideas with them. I like the extra benefits that technology adds to the journaling/reflections assignments.

License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

Photo Resolution... Day 45

Corn crib.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 44

Tree-lined drive. As a photo this should be lighter. As a study in colors and patterns I like the darkness.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 43

Late night stop at Starbuck's

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 42

An evening ride on the new drive on campus

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 41

A pleasant surprise!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 40

Hmm... can an artificial dracena be called a virtual dracena?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 39

Can you buy buffalo burgers in your town?

EduHound... Lots of Resources for K12

EduHound (http://www.eduhound.com/) is a site that has many collections of useful information for educators. I found lesson plans, games, toolkits, research, rubrics, templates, and more. I also found a few deadends, but not many.

A section on differentiated instruction includes planning suggestions, practical tips for the classroom, lesson plans, resources, sample units, learning styles, and explanations on the theory behind it all.

The inventions area has a variety of options including games for students. I did beat the computer at Brain Drain, but I had to work at it!

A communications toolkit is available for those working with Adequate Yearly Progress.

Data-Driven Instruction includes information from CoSN, NCREL, and others.

The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Literacy section has maps to help you integrate ICT into the core subjects in addition to rubrics and research that indicates what works.

Lesson plans, an interactive tour, and related materials are available in the immigration area.

Lesson plans and resources from Maine can be found for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Free templates for PowerPoint are provided.

The section on Project-based Learning includes links, lesson plans, professional development, checklists, and student projects.

EduHound is a source for resources in these categories…
  • Administration
  • Adult Cont. Ed.
  • Arts
  • Back-to-School
  • Business
  • Culture & Religion
  • Early Childhood Ed
  • Educational & General
  • Employment
  • ESL & Foreign Language
  • Family
  • Grants & Funding
  • Guidance & Psychology
  • Health & P.E.
  • Holidays
  • Home Schooling
  • Kid Sites
  • Language Arts
  • Lesson Plans
  • Mathematics
  • Multimedia
  • Museums
  • Organizations
  • Publications
  • Reference
  • Safety & Security
  • School Supplies
  • School/Playground
  • Science
  • Seasonal Resources
  • Social Studies
  • Software
  • Special Education
  • Standards & Testing
  • Student Resources
  • Substitute Teaching
  • Teacher Resources
  • Technology
  • US Depts. of Education
  • Virtual Explorations
  • Vocational & Technical
  • WebQuests
  • Worksheets
I do lots of searching on the web for information. Sometimes I like to see what someone else thinks is the best of the many web sites available today. EduHound is a good tool for that.

Photo: http://flickr.com/photos/and1/2615231317/
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 38

Trees. I can't wait to see leaves on these trees!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 37


The geometry teacher in me loves lines and patterns.

And the photographer that is developing in me loves blue skies!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 36

Desks in a one-room schoolhouse

Photo Resolution... Day 35

A mouse for my utility photos.

And posted after midnight again. :(

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 34

There are times when I need photos of everyday objects for one purpose or another. I guess I might as well take them myself! So this numeric keypad is my photo of the day.

I learned this morning how to make a Flickr badge. It's really easy! The badge I posted this morning (lower right of the blog) has the January photos from my New Year's resolution to take and post one photo each day this year. At the end of February I'll add February's photos.

Thanks to Miguel Guhlin for the link!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 33

A movie theater... and a blue sky!

Searching Strategies to Teach... Elementary and Older

I've recently come across several helpful sites about teaching search strategies. Some of the ideas are best for elementary students; some, for secondary students.

(1) Web Searching Strategies for Elementary School Students

How can we help elementary students learn to search the web… safely and effectively? Silvia Tolisano shares some very helpful advice to help us consider appropriate tools, terms, and resources to help our elementary students learn about searching.

Thanks to Tim Lauer for sharing the link to this site!

(2) Site Specific Search

A Real Simple blog provides a simple (of course!) explanation of how to use Google’s site command.

(3) Teaching Internet Search Strategies

Richard M. Byrne shares several resources which help students learn how to use Boolean Logic when searching. Some resources are more appropriate for elementary students and some, for secondary students.

Photo: http://flickr.com/photos/wwworks/2786242106/
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 32

It's amazing how some sunshine and warmer temperatures can make the snow look better!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 31

A rare visitor to Ohio in the winter... the sun!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 30

I've been wanting to experiment with the collage feature of Picnik... and tonight is the perfect time. I took several photos from the parking lot of a local church... and I wanted to use all of them as "the" photo of the day.

You can see the moon and Venus, three sides of a peace pole, and the temperature. I played with some of the features of the collage option. It's fun. And -- even in the free version of Picnik -- you have several choices of how you want to set up your collage.

I chose the background color, added a frame, decided how many photos I wanted to include, the layout, and how "kooky" (tilted) the photos should look. Fun!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 29

Photos of snow-laden trees often don't look as lovely as they really are. The reason? White snow against a white sky. Now... if the sky were blue... But then we wouldn't have the white snow if the sky weren't white, also.

So, I decided to experiment. I did my usual tweaking with Picnik, but I couldn't figure out a way to turn the sky blue. Then I tried Photoshop Express. I had previously used Photoshop Express to turn a blue water lily purple, so I knew I could play with color.

You can see the result above. The first photo is the original after tweaking with Picnik. The second photo shows what happened after I used Photoshop Express to pop the color of the sky. (I also cropped the photo a bit.)

The sky is more blue. But the snow is, too. I think the result looks better. I wish I could turn the sky more blue without changing the color of the snow... and without paying the cost of Photoshop, of course! What do you think?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 28

Around here folks call friends who spend the winter in Florida snow birds. I caught a different type of snow bird when I took pictures today.

I used a green arrow from Picnik to point out the snow bird in my photo.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 27

End view of new dormitory

Monday, January 26, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 26

These critters occupy a local pharmacy.

Moby Dick and Language Education Conference

Meg Guroff and Howard Vickers have shared information about activities with which they are involved... an annotated Moby-Dick and a conference in Second Life for language educators.

Power Moby-Dick, the Online Annotation

What a great way to read a book… Read the text and have links ready for you to click for the words and phrases for which you would like explanations! Meg Guroff shared with me her web site about Moby-Dick. I’m impressed!

Guroff has annotated the entire text of Moby-Dick by Herman Melville. In addition, there are several resources available, a message board, current information and photos related to Moby-Dick, a glossary, and notes on the text.

You can visit the site’s FaceBook page or follow it on Twitter.

If you teach Moby-Dick or you just enjoy the book, be sure to explore this site!

Photo: http://flickr.com/photos/fdecomite/2985890153/
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

SLanguages 2009 Conference

Howard Vickers of Avatar Languages sent information about an upcoming conference for language education in virtual worlds. This is the third year for this free virtual conference that is held in Second Life. Check the Slide Share presentation (below) for more information.

Photo: http://flickr.com/photos/grahamstanley/468512050/
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 25

I needed to make some background elements disappear in this photo, so I played with Picnik a bit, including adding a frame. I use Picnik frequently, but usually just to tweak photos to make up for something I did not accomplish with my camera. After playing this afternoon with Picnik, I think I need to explore some of the many other effects possible with it.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 24

Getting ready for a birthday party

Friday, January 23, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 23

This small pond outside a business in a nearby town is lovely in good weather when the fountain is working. At the moment it is covered with snow and ice. What caught our attention, however, are the large spots of lichens on one of the rocks.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 22

More experiments with night shots.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 21

This evening I experimented with taking photos at night. And then I played with Picnic to see how I might enhance them.

Photo Resolution... Day 20

I am drawn to books on shelves... both because I like to read and because of the geometry teacher in me. I love all those parallel and perpendicular lines!

Note: I'm posting after midnight again... my USB connection glitched. :(

Monday, January 19, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 19

Phil and I drove through a couple parks today, looking for subjects for my photo of the day. I took more than two dozen shots... a flag, lots of geese, a Mallard duck, a bridge, and the McKinley Monument. Several of the photos are interesting. My favorite, however, is this one because it shows families playing and enjoying this winter day while paying respect to a former president of the USA.

Google Reader Videos Explain Basics

Using Google Reader is an easy way to keep up with blogs and other web sites. Read the news, read blogs, share items with others… all for free. It’s so much more efficient to have the content you want to read pushed to you rather than your having to search for it.

Are you just beginning to use Google Reader? Or are you teaching someone about it? You have some help now.

Google has begun posting videos that explain some of the basics. Upcoming videos will also cover some advanced features.

You can access the videos through Google Reader’s help section. The three that are available now are Getting Started with Google Reader, Reading Feeds with Google Reader, and Sharing Items with Google Reader.

I’ll take advantage of these videos a week from now as my students begin to use Google Reader as part of their personal learning network.

Thanks to Josh Lowensohn at CNET News for sharing about the Google videos.

Photo: http://flickr.com/photos/pandemia/457723666/
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 18

Old iron bookend... Abraham Lincoln

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 17

Rick's painting

Friday, January 16, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 16

Icicles outside the front door... on a very cold day.