Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Read Across America

Looking for ideas for Reading Across America, not just this week, but all weeks, check some of these resources.

Five Ideas for Perfectly Booking Read Across America (from Scholastic): offers lots of creative as well as practical ideas to engage students in activities related to reading enjoyment. Here the blurb from the introduction to this page:

  • What Is Read Across America?
In 1998 the National Association of Education (NEA) held their first Read Across America on Dr. Suess’s birthday to raise awareness about the importance of children’s literacy. After all, if we have parades for winning sports teams and weeks to celebrate kindness, doesn’t reading deserve a day? Read Across America is now celebrated at schools, libraries, and community centers across the country every year. In this video from last year’s national Read Across America event, Michelle Obama and other honorees read Green Eggs and Ham to a group of 300 students.

Read Across America with Dr. Suess (from Thinkfinity): provides activities on Dr. Suess's book and  activities to do with families. 

Read Across America and Suess Day: Teachers' Best Lessons and Activities (short list from Teachers Net Gazette)

NEA Read Across America (classroom lesson ideas and activities, activities to do at home, interview with Mrs. Suess)

Song Created by 4th Graders to Celebrate 

Read Across America (Suzanne's Blog, lots of resources included in the links to the two Pinterest boards: Read Across America and Dr. Suess)

Cute Dr. Suess Videos (from Kelly's Blog)

Dr. Suess's Ideas (from Kelly's Blog)

Dr. Suess Cam (from Busy as a Bee in 1st Grade, Abbey's Blog)

Read Across America (from National Council of Teachers of English, ideas for grade levels, K-college)

Read Across America Day Celebrates Dr. Suess (from NCTE and International Reading Association, Read/Write/Think, lesson ideas and resources K-12) website
Differentiated Instruction: Reluctant and Striving Readers (from Scholastic): focuses on Scholastic's Storia program and how to use it to engage readers.

Check how one Connecticut school is celebrating Read Across America. Check the Used Books blog for this post about what Wamapogo Middle/High School is up to: "A Door is a Window." 

Also coming up, is World Read Aloud Day: find out more about this event at LitWorld

Tim Tebow Reads Green Eggs and Ham (YouTube)

And now for one of my favorite Dr. Suess lines


What additional ideas or sites do you suggest for Read Across America, not just this week, but every week?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Digital Story: Take Two

Draft of digital story update: a bit late. Had to uninstall, reinstall, and work with Apple Tech Support on the phone for 1.5 hours to rectify issues with iMovie software. I know some of you had similar tech problems, so thought I would give that backstory.

I created this during our 3-foot dump of snow during the blizzard we had recently, and was dreaming of being back in Hawaii.

Like many of you, I hate my voice. The narration is clipped, so it has to be redone. I had some problems timing the narration to fit along with the photo timeline, so had to digress from my storyboard script and ad lip or pause in some wrong spots. Will also being considering another soundtrack. Skyped with middle school teacher from Honolulu last night, and she recommended several popular Hawaiian singers' songs to use. Need to look into that. In the meantime, used George Winston's "Living in the Country," from his album Summer that I downloaded from iTunes.

Still a work in progress, but also thinking might just move on to another digital story about another Hawaiian islands. 

How would I use this in my teaching? If I were still teaching junior high or high school English, I might implement these student projects: 

  • Create a story about one or more of your favorite places. Describe the place and tell why you like it. 
  • Take a digital story you created about your favorite place, and retell it adding dialogue. Get together with a partner and rotate speaking the lines, staying in the voice of specific characters.
  • Create a digital story about the city or town where you live. Be sure the story tells the viewer about the sites.  Post the story on your blog to share with students in another school who can then respond back.  
  • Create a digital story about the settings in works of literature we have read as class.

As for the second to last idea, sharing with another school, check this QuadBlogging project done by students in six varied countries:  Our World, Our Stories: School Day or The Local Environment.  Some of the students created videos to show others how and where they live.

RSS is Really Simple: Keep It Up

By now, you are a avid user of Real Simple Syndication (RSS) with Google Reader.

cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by HeatherWeaver

In addition to peers' blogs that you follow through RSS, what other sources of information do you encourage educators to subscribe to via Google Reader?

Here's my list of some of my favorites in my RSS:

1) Free Technology for Teachers (regular updates about technology to use in schools and suggestions about how to use the selected technology; also can be subscribed to via Facebook)
2) iPad Apps for Schools (newer blog with updates regularly about iPad apps that are applicable in the school setting and recommended ways to use these apps; also check for the parallel blog on Android apps)
3) Edudemic (excellent all-around blog)
4) Cool Teacher Blog (Vicki Davis posts often and shares ideas for global collaboration and similar projects)
5) Educational Technology and Mobile Learning (updated often and also can be subscribed to via Facebook)
6) Van Meter Library Voice (school librarian who posts often about literacy, reading, cross-class projects, and much more)
7) Venspired (elementary teacher who runs programs for the gifted but post information relevant to all educators)
8) Class Tech Tips
9) Langwitches Blog (overall great resource for information on educational technology and literacy)
10) KB Connected
11 Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day (an ESL teacher from CA who posts all kinds of information relevant to teaching and learning--he posts nearly daily)
12) Blogging through the Fourth Dimension (Pernille Ripp is a great source of information for tips on blogging with students and the integration of technology to support learning)
13) Matt Gomez, Kindergarten Teacher (posts lots of good ideas for those who teach the lower grade levels)
14) Ozge Karaoglu Blog (brings a creative twist to sharing resources)

What sources of information do you recommend? What would you add to this list? Do you see the value in using Google Reader on a regular basis? Goal--use the folder feature in Reader to organize and sort your subscriptions by topics or areas of interest.

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by tetradtx

Calling All Bloggers?

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by liewcf

Now that you have been blogging for several weeks, the question is, how will you use blogging in your professional setting. Some questions:

  • Would you encourage students to blog?
  • Would you create your own blog for professional reasons (e.g., to share with parents, students, a professional audience of colleagues)?
  • Will you continue to read others' blogs?
  • Will you continue to use Google Reader to access blogs written by your favorite bloggers or to add subscriptions to new sources of information?
  • If you will use blogging with students, would you do this through a centralized class blog, or would you have students set up their own blogs?
  • If your students were blogging, would you consider cross-blogging with other classrooms?
  • If you have already set up your own blog or have had your students create one, do you mind sharing access to such?
  • What do you see as the future of blogging? How do you think the concept of blogging will change in the future?
  • Who are some of your favoriate bloggers? Are these teacher bloggers, or people in other roles?
  • What advice have other bloggers offered you that you find most useful for maintaining a blog and attracting readers?

Yes, those are numerous questions, but please consider those most pertinent to your needs, and share your ideas.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Audioboo: At the Zoo

My professional colleague, Wes Fryer, sent along this Audioboo by Rachel, "Flamingos at the Zoo." Rachel's voice reminds me of those talented kids you hear on television commercials. More to the point, Audioboo is a wonderful tool to use with students of all ages.

Here is Rachel's Audioboo. Let me know what you think. How can you see this tool, Audioboo, being used with learners of any age? How might it be used in different disciplines in the school at any grade level? What about teachers creating Audioboos? Have you used this tool?

listen to ‘Flamingos at the zoo’ on Audioboo

Note several other Audioboos on other animals at the zoo are also available, for instance:

Although this strikes me as excellent project for young children to demonstrate what they are learning about animals, the use of Audioboo also gives them practice with recording their voice and developing their oral communication skills.

Since writing this post in draft from, I have also learned that Rachel has her own websites where she has archived her other creations: 22 videos, several e-books, and  28 Audioboos. Here is the link to her website: Rachel Fryer. Click on the individual tabs at the top to get to her ebooks, audios, vidoes, and writing samples. Did I mention that Rachel is 10 years old? 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Using the iPad with Free Applications in the Classroom

A colleague, fifth-grade teacher Monica Burns, just tweeted a link to an excellent and comprehensive slide show archived in SlideShare that addresses the many ways in which the iPad can be used in the classroom. All of the ideas presented use free applications. In addition, I also want to point out the beauty of a site like SlideShare, which is an excellent site for storing slide presentations, finding slide presentations, and networking with others to share presentations.

Although this presentation is long, if you do use iPads in your teaching or are at a stage right now of exploring the options, it is worth going through the entire presentation. Numerous applications covered also can be used on a regular computer, so there is a lot to gain from viewing the presentation.

After viewing the presentation, please come back and comment on what you found useful and what you plan to explore further or are already using.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Wordle, Tagxedo, and now WordFoto

WordFoto is an app that I just learned about that functions like Wordle and Tagxedo.  If you have tried these tools and like what they do, you might even like WordFoto more. It configures both words and photos. Here is an example a colleague, Denise Krebs shared. After she created the WordFoto, she uploaded it to Flickr, where I was able to grab the embed code for the image and attribution.

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by mrsdkrebs

Here are two others Denise created.

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by mrsdkrebs

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by mrsdkrebs

This last one was based on the poem, "And sweetest—in the Gale—is heard—"

Here is another one that she created, and offers this description of it:

"Children's Literature is Central to Children's Literacy
Read to a child. It will build literacy.
This photo, "Child Reading, by Dihl et Guerhard Manufactory (Boston, MA)," was taken by takomabibelot on Flickr, shared with CC BY 2.0 license. I edited it with WordFoto on my husband's iPod." []

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by mrsdkrebs

To learn about WordFoto visit the site and the gallery of examples available at the site.

Here is a direct link to the app at the Apple Store, where it is priced at $1.99

To learn more about Denise Krebs, a junior high school teacher, I am including a video her students created about the concept of the Genius Hour, an exciting approach to student learning that a host of teachers have begun to implement in their classrooms.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Doodlecast App for Promoting Literacy

Today, I came across a tweet from a kindergarten teacher, Matt Gomez, whom I follow on Twitter that caught my attention, particularly the words "reading," "writing," and "documenting." Knowing, Mr. Gomez maintains a resourceful blog (My Hullabaloo), I clicked on the link in the tweet, which brought me to his post.

The post explains how he uses the Doodlecast Pro app with his kindergarteners to document their skills as readers and writers.  Mr. Gomez granted permission to use videos of his students using the app, but I encourage you to go directly to his blog post, Documenting Reading and Writing with Doodlecast App for detailed information. While you're at his site, look around. You'll find a host of ideas related to digital literacies, information literacies, and reading and writing. The first video below documents a student reading, and the second, a student writing.


Writing and Journaling

Here is a screenshot from the Doodlecast page at the Apple Store to help you visualize some of the organizational options. One option allows for uploading to YouTube, a feature that facilitates the sharing of students' accomplishments. 

 Note that although Mr. Gomez uses the pro version, there is a free version with more limited options, but a good choice if you want to try the app for yourself.

What are some apps or websites you use to promote students' literacies skills?  What are your thoughts on how Mr. Gomez uses Doodlecast with his students?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Powerful Video on the Effects of Bullying

Not only is this an ingenius digital story, but it also carries a powerful message.

A colleague, Susan Spellman Cann, who is a school counselor and registered psychologist, recommends that all teachers and school counselors should view this video and share it.

The creator, poet Shane Koyczan, garners 4,400 YouTube subscribers, and his video has 350,000 hits. (Maybe, you've seen it already.)

Do you think teachers should view and discuss this story? What's your reaction?

Did You Know You Can Record a Video Right to YouTube?

The YouTube Upload feature has several options. An earlier blog post reviewed How to Upload Videos to You Tube, but you can also use the Upload feature to record a video, assuming you have a webcam or built-in camera on your computer. Many newer laptops come with a built-in camera for recording. Here is a screen capture to let you know where to find the Record option in YouTube, so you can record right in front of your own screen with YouTube capturing the video for you.

So get into your favorite outfit, grab the props for background scenery, and know what you want to say before you begin. You can also try the feature on a mobile to allow for moving about as you record.

If any of try out the process, let us know what you think.

Why We Need Common Core: Is Digital Storytelling the New Persuasive Essay

This Xtranormal digital story has been circulating at professional educational conferences and the blogsphere. I thought I would share it.  Interested in your reactions. Do you think the message of this digital story would have been as effective if written in the form of a persuasive essay?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Digital Story Telling is the New Persuasive Essay

Watch these third graders from Bismark, North Dakota advocate for a new school playground. Do you think they would have been as persuasive if they wrote an essay? Why do some claim digital storytelling is the new persuasive essay?

The third graders created the video on their own using iMovie. What do you think of their skills as digital storytellers?

PixNtell: App for iPad for Digital Stories

Recently, I learned about the PixNtell app for the ipad. I am often on the hunt for new tools for creating digital stories using photos, especially missing PhotoStory, which runs on just PCs. PixNtell looks to be a simple. You insert photos and then narrate the photo sequence. I have yet to try the app, but if you have an iPad, you might. It also runs on the iPhone and iPod.

Screen capture:

I read two reviews of the app, one on Free Technology for Teachers, written by guest author Mr. Kelly Rexine, who has also been tweeting me (@mrrexine) about the success of implementing the app with 3rd graders. His post on Free Technology for Teachers also includes an embedded video 3rd graders produced with the app; while you at the post, look at the video. The good news is that you can embed and share the videos that students create on Blogger and other sites. Here is a link to Mr. Rexine's post, PixNtell in the Third Grade: Guest Post.

I also learned about the app's integration in the classroom in this blog post from Columbia, Missouri schools. Check out the post here: iPads in CPS: Review of Pixntell. Based on this review you can only upload a handful of photos, but the pro version is just 99 cents, so if you like the app, you might want to explore the variety of features in the upgrade.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Will Richardson at Renbrook School, Feb. 19, All Welcome

Renbrook School To Welcome Noted Educator Will Richardson

Maribeth, West Hartford Cohort, just alerted me to the news that Will Richardson, author of Blogs, Wikis, and Podcasts, our course text, will be at the Renbrook School in West Hartford this coming Tuesday, Feb. 19, 7 pm, in a free event open to the public. The title of his evening presentation is, "The Steep Unlearning Curve: Reframing Schools in an Age of Abundance."

If you can make the engagement, RSVP to the Renbrook School by Monday, Feb. 18. You can use this handy link to do so:

Richardson will be working with the Renbrook teachers throughout the day, but the evening event is for the general public. Read more about the event in the Hartford Courant article.

Richardson's new book, Why School? How Education Must Change When Learning and Information are Everywhere, has received lots of praise from educators who have urged everyone in the education field to read it. His TED Talk, Why School? is another source of information on his provocative ideas. Come to the session, and see and hear Richardson in person.

For additional information on Richardson and his ideas about transforming education, check his website: Powerful Learning Practices, co-founded with Sherry Nussbaum-Beach. Here is a link to read about the both: Co-Founders. There is also plenty to explore on their Wiki: PLP Community Wiki.

Recently, I participated in a Twitter chat focused on Richardson's book and attended his workshop at the National Council of Teacher Convention in November. He is a provocative and lively speaker, so I hope you can arrange to be at this event occurring locally in our own background.

Here is a link to the archive of the Feb. 14 Twitter Chat on Richardson's book Why School? #whySchoolBookChat (with Will Richardson), which will give you an idea of educators' interest in discussing his book.

If you are on Twitter, follow him at @willrich45. With close to 35,000 followers, Richardson's reach    is extensive.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Have You Ever Forgotten Your Password

It's the weekend, so thought I'd pass along this video for your entertainment and reflection.

On a more serious note, what strategies do you suggest for remembering passwords?  What strategies do you suggest for keeping passwords secure? Do you teach your students about the importance of safeguarding their passwords?

Go Animate: Fun Digital Story Site

If you're looking for an easy-to-use digital storytelling tool that allows for animation, dialogue, selection of scenery, and other options, look no further than GoAnimate. I suggest everyone try it out this week or next. Here is a quick one that I created to send to my niece, whose birthday is today, Feb. 15. If your students can type even a few short sentences, they can make use of this digital storytelling tool. It can be used to assess student learning in a variety of disciplines or for students to make quick videos reflecting on books they have read or lessons they have learned.

I used the free version to make a 20-second video, but longer ones with more options can also be made with the free version. It is easy to embed the videos in blog posts and to share in other ways. Go ahead, and try out the site, GoAnimateand post your video in your blog or on your wiki to share with others.

I am thinking that just like Animoto, a GoAnimate should be a required project in the Integrating Technology and Literacy course. What do you think after trying the tool?

Birthday Wish by Judy A on GoAnimate

Animated Presentations - Powered by GoAnimate.

Here's another short one I just made.

Digital StoryTelling by Judy A on GoAnimate

Video Maker - Powered by GoAnimate.

I am actually thinking of upgrading to a pro account, but for now, my purpose was to introduce to you to this tool for making simple digital stories. Although I did not record my own voice, there is an option to do so in the program. If students were working together, they could easily role play a character and take turns doing the narration.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Experimenting with Embedding Rough Draft of Digital Story into a Blogger Post

When your digital story is completed and processed, you have several ways to embed it in a Blogger post. To demonstrate two methods, I quickly made a rough draft of a digital story that still needs lots of editing. Because we need to embed an early draft for feedback, I decided to use this rough cut to demonstrate the process.

I created the draft with iMovie using photos that I had stored in a file. After I created the story as a project in iMovie, I exported it to Media Player, thereby creating a file I could upload. Because this is a rough draft, I used the saved file with the lowest resolution for uploading.

Method One: I uploaded the video to my YouTube account. (Another blog post contains a tutorial of how to upload to YouTube. See that post: How to Upload Your Video to YouTube.) Once the video was uploaded, I got the "embed code" from YouTube's "Share" option. I copied the code, returned to this post, and used the "HTML" view to paste the "embed code" into the post. While I was in the HTML view, I changed the width and height of the video, though you can skip that step if you like. I then switched back to the "Compose" view. Here is the video embedded from YouTube.

Method Two: Blogger has a Video upload feature. The icon to upload is located right next to the icon for inserting a picture. I clicked on the Video icon and used the first option: Choose a file to upload. I located my saved iMovie in Media Player and clicked on the filename. Then clicked to begin the upload process. It took a few minutes for Blogger to upload and insert the video.

When your digital story is ready, let me know if you have questions about embedding it in a Blogger post.

In addition, I would remind you, thanks to Kelly (see comments), to use Vimeo for uploads. You can embed videos uploaded to Vimeo to into blogs, but also once you save them there, you can easily access them in school. Fewer schools block Vimeo than YouTube.

If you have a few minutes, please complete the feedback form. Scroll through to see the entire survey. Thanks.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

How to Upload Your Video to YouTube

As you work your way through the digital story telling project, when your first draft of the video is ready and processed and saved as a file, you can upload it to YouTube, which will ease embedding it into a blog post.

This short video walks you through the process of how to upload your video to YouTube once you have a YouTube account. On another note, if you don't already have a YouTube account, you should consider having one to save your favorite YouTubes. YouTube also enables organizing your favorites into categories.

For the digital story telling project, you will be embedding in your blog two drafts of your video, an early draft and a final draft. In addition to using YouTube to upload videos, there are other video sharing sites, and you can also use Google Doc. If I find a good tutorial on how to use Google Doc for this process, I will post it.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Where Can I Find Legal Music for Videos?

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by craigCloutier
As many of you already know, I am fan of Flickr's Creative Commons for finding images to use in blogs, websites, wikis, and other online spaces. I blogged about this resource earlier, "Need Photos for Your Blogs Posts."

Now, what about music? One locator is Creative Commons Legal Music for Videos. Of the sites Creative Commons lists, which have you used? What are your recommendations for locating music to use legally in videos?

Involving Parents in a Class Blog and Going Global

One of my favorite teacher bloggers, Kathleen Morris, a primary teacher in Victoria, Australia, created a blog post with advice on how to engage parents in a classroom blog.

For those of you thinking of creating a classroom blog to interact with parents, head over to Kathleen's post, A Guide to Involving Parents in A Classroom Blog. Hopefully, her advice will not only motivate you to get started, but also lead you down the path. Kathleen is an experienced blogging, so don't expect to follow all of her advice right away, but let us know which tips of hers you find most useful for a teacher just getting started with a classroom blog.

If you want to see Kathleen's class blog, you'll find it at: 4KM and 4KJ @ Leopold Primary School. There are plenty of blog posts, pictures, and links to explore and get ideas for your own class blog.  Kathleen loves comments, so feel free to leave some on one of her posts. Note this class blog is really the collaborative effort of two teachers, Mrs. Morris and Miss Jordan, both 4th grade teachers, and, of course, their students.

On the sidebar of 4KM and 4KJ @ Leopold Primary School. you'll find links to class blogs and individual student blogs. The students have made made global friends through blogging.

Mrs. Morris' and Miss Jordan's class have been participants in the QuadBlogging Project. Definitely look into the culmination of one of their Quad projects, The Tale Trail Project. In this project, the Australian students in the two classes collaborated with students from Connecticut, Massachusetts, California, BC Canada, and New Zealand to write a sequential story, which they illustrated, and then combined into one oral reading.

Image at The Tale Trail 

Amazing: Hearing Impaired and Deaf Students Connecting Globally

This morning, procrastinating about shoveling snow, I checked email, and saw an incoming tweet from a Connecticut teacher (Joyce Blum) who tweeted 80% of schools closed in Connecticut for Monday.

To verify the identity of this person, who tweeted a response to another teacher, whom I had already tweeted, which put my Twitter name in Joyce Blum's tweet out, I wanted to ensure the tweet was coming from someone in "the know."

Well, once I got to Joyce Blum's Twitter profile, I saw she was a high school teacher of English for the deaf and hard of hearing.

In her tweet stream, I found a link to a blog. Curious about the blog, I checked the link, and there I found myself exploring a neighborhood of blog posts from students around the world, all apparently hearing impaired or deaf. Not only are these students afforded an opportunity to communicate with the written word, which makes sense, but they are also making connections with peers globally and learning about these peers from all corners of the world. This exploration opened my mind once again to the power of blogging as an amazing tool for communication for a variety of purposes.

I invite you to take a few moments, or linger longer if you like, to see how this blog is unfolding. I am wondering what your reactions will be. The blog is at Welcome to the 2012-2013 School Year. The number of schools throughout the world who have joined and the students who have contributed speak to the power of blogging to connect students in ways not easily possible just a decade ago. As I tweeted back to Joyce,

I also learned that she is using Edmodo as another communication tool.

She calls herself a "rookie," but she is already doing amazing things with technology tools to help her students express themselves and expand their literacy skills and global understandings. 

Well, back to shoveling, but blogging surely can draw us in, as we explore the world through the comforts of our own home. I am just amazed at how this teacher has used the medium of blogging to enhance students' literacy skills: including reading, writing, visualizing, connecting, and gaining world views. For students who cannot hear or have limited hearing abilities, the opportunities to explore blogging as a communication medium seem amazing. What do you think? What is your reaction to Welcome to the 2012-2013 School Year blog?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Snowman Images

My hometown, Long Beach, NY, was devastated by Hurricane Sandy. It's a community with lots of spirit and support. I just caught this new effort. Although many are still homeless or are living in their homes while they undergo major renovations, I'm enamored by their creativity. Project 11561 is just one among many efforts to keep up the spirits of the people.   As Valentine's Day approaches, consider how you can run a similar contest in your classrooms and how you might visually represent the works of your students. 

Blogging Tips

Savanna chimpanzee in the office / Pan troglodytes
Blogging is for everyone - but there are some pitfalls. Photograph: Juniors Bildarchiv/Alamy
Yes, this picture grabbed my attention, but the post's title is what really caught by eye: Top 10 Don't for Wannable Teacher Bloggers . 

Check the post for some motivation to get going with blogging. 

Which advice in the post do you find the most helpful?

The Importance Of Using Images In The Classroom

The Importance Of Using Images In The Classroom is a short piece that reminds us of the power of images. Check the piece and the use of a famous painting, The Scream, to motivate the writing of a poem.

How are you using images in your classrooms? In reading blogs, do pictures draw you in?

Where would you rather be?

Connecticut, Feb. 8, 2013

Hawaii, July 21, 2012

Friday, February 8, 2013

Literacy Shed

Stuck at home with our snowstorm, I'm on Twitter, Google+, reading class blogs, and just surfing around. One of my Twitter friends, tweeted out about this exciting resource that fits with our course, Integrating Technology and Literacy. The site's title, Literacy Shed, caught my eye, so I started exploring, and invite you to, also. Take a look at what the site offers, and let us know if the site sparks ideas for your teaching or in general. Without further ado, link to the site; just click on the image.

Okay, I know you can get lost in exploring the site, but come back here to post a comment to share what you find and like.

Required Reading

In class this week, in one section of Integrating and Technology, we discussed whether the 4th grader of today will be writing the standard research paper when she enters college in the next decade. This article from The New York Times, "Education Needs a Digital Upgrade," suggests we are teaching students for a world that we don't yet know exists. We can't predict the jobs our young children will have in the future. We don't even know what these jobs will be.

To quote from the article, "According to Cathy N. Davidson, co-director of the annual MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competitions, fully 65 percent of today's grade-school kids may end up doing work that hasn't been invented yet." In her book, Now You See It, Davidson urges teachers to stop teaching according to the Industrial Age model.  

The contemporary American classroom, with its grades and deference to the clock, is an inheritance from the late 19th century.

She claims that the standard research paper assignment, popular in college classrooms, not only yields awful results, but is not even representative of the students' talents.

Check the article, "Education Needs a Digital Upgrade." In addition to what the title suggests, Davidson advocates for a whole new approach to education, not just in terms of technology tools. Do you agree with the statements Davidson makes? If so, with which assertions? In what directions do you believe education should be heading?

Can Teachers Avoid Digital Resources?

In a recent national survey of teachers, conducted by PBS Learning Media, it was found that a high percentage use digital media regularly in their teaching. The landscape of the classroom has changed from the old days of a reliance on printed books and students writing on paper. The following infographic shows the results of the survey.  Review the infographic. Where do you stand?

Do you agree educational technology motivates students?
What do you see as the benefits of educational technology?
What are the tech tools you use most often?
Consider other data available in the infographic. What is your reaction?

image Image via iStockphotosturti

On a related note, the House of Representatives is reviewing a bill to increase access to technology in schools and teachers' professional development in this area.  On Feb. 6, 2013, the International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE) posted this information: "Great Start for Digital Learning Policy in 113th Congress: Comprehensive Technology Bill Introduced in U.S. House of Representatives."

Overall, how do you feel about the influx of technology resources in the educational setting? Would you rather see the pace slow down, speed up, or go in another direction?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Digital Story: The Crayon Box That Talked

As you think of ideas for digital stories, this one created by young children to address the theme of cultural diversity might stir your imagination.  After viewing the video, leave some comments. What does the story say to you about the children's creativity? What about their approach to explaining cultural diversity? Does their video give you ideas for digital storytelling? Would you show this video in your own classroom? Would you consider making a similar video using a story such as "The Crayon Box That Talked"?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Kindergarteners Blogging: No Kidding

Listen to these kindergarteners from Ms. Cassidy's class talk about what they think of blogging and how they're using it.  Be sure to leave a response. What do you think of their comments?

Do you think kindergarteners should be blogging? What will happen when they enter first grade? Should they continue blogging? What about when they enter upper grades? How do you see their blogging experiences affecting their literacy skills?

Five Card Flickr Stories

The Five Card Story is a quick digital story game put together by an educator, Alan Levine, who also goes by the name of CogDog. Check out his site, Five Card Story, and create your own Five Card Story. The images are ones stored in Flickr under the Creative Commons License, free to use.

After reading 31 blogs this weekend and then preparing website notes for this week, I needed a break, so played with Five Card Story  This is an idea you can implement in your class by giving your students any five photos available, and for older students, you can even have them try out the Five Card Story site.

Once you finish creating your story using Five Card Story, you will see a code that you can embed into your blog by switching from the Compose to the HTML tab in Blogger. The URL for the story is also available and that can be shared with others for them to access your story at the site.

In addition to using random photos to stir one's imagination for story writing, the exercise serves two additional purposes:
  • It initiates the idea of matching photos to storytelling, serving as an introduction to a unit on digital storytelling
  • It helps teach students about what photos found on the Internet they can legitimately use. In Flickr, photos that can be reused are marked as such and have in their posting both the URL to use for attribution and the embed code for converting the photo with its attribution right into a website, blog, wiki, or other online platform. Those using the photo can use either method to acknowledge the source. 
Here are five cards, photos, I was randomly dealt to create a story. Note the attributions for each photo automatically pop up under each.

Five Card Story: Walk on the Wild Side
a #etmooc story created by Midnight Poker Player (that is the nickname I chose since I created this around midnight.)

flickr photo by cogdogblog

flickr photo by cogdogblog

flickr photo by cogdogblog

flickr photo by cogdogblog

flickr photo by cogdogblog

And my masterpiece (joking) story. If I had more time and energy, I would have created a story with dialogue and more.

I escaped into the woods one snowy night. What I thought was a polar bear turned out to be a snow figure. On the run, I looked for a car to escape. On the dashboard, I found a pair of dark sunglasses, perfect for my disguise. Hungry from days on the run, I sought food, but only could find oranges. To my dismay, they were already eaten, and just the rinds remained. I trembled as someone shook me and realized it was all but a dream.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Lip Dub: Collaborating World Wide

As some of you know, I've been participating in an online course, the Educational Technology Massive Open Online Course (known as ETMOOC). There are thousands of people in the course. We get a chance to participate in various ways, and we can select how and when we want to participate. One recent project was a Lip Dub, and I am sharing the final video to illustrate how people from around the world can collaborate online. Let me know what you think. Enjoy.

Do You Want to Share a Pinterest Board?

Sharing is caring, so if you have a Pinterest account where you have created boards with resources for learning, would you consider letting us know? Just post the URL in the comment section.

While reading through blog post responses, I came across a link to an excellent board with resources for teaching in the lower elementary grades. Here is a screen capture of that board.

It seems many of you already have a Pinterest account, and as teachers, let's assume you have considered pinning school resources.

Although I am  an avid Diigo fan, I also use Pinterest. I am also posting a link to my account. This account is used only for educational resources. I hope you find something there that you can use.

Click on the image to get to my boards. Happy pinning! If you don't use Pinterest, perhaps you can share why. And if you do, remember, sharing is caring. Post what you generously want to share in the comments by copying and pasting the URL for pertinent boards.  Thanks again.

Blogging in the Elementary School Classroom

I found a link to this great YouTube video on "Blogging in the Elementary Classroom" while reading Lesley's blog, Teaching in Heels, and just had to share it. I appreciate that Lesley posted this video. Check her blog for other valuable resources.

The video captures teachers and students speaking about the value of blogging. I like that the teachers also address how blogging promotes literacy skills. After all, we should be first figuring out our goals and not just implementing tech for the sake of tech. The real goal is to expand students' literacy skills.

Let me know if this video gives you ideas for expanding students' literacy skills. For those who teach young learners, who might be too young to blog, does the video give you other ideas for how you might promote students' engagement in the literacy process in other ways?

Additionally, today a principal I follow on Twitter put up a link to blog post that Karen Lirenman wrote in which she embedded a video about how she uses blogging in her first grade classroom: "Blogging in Grade One". Karen's blog, Sharing and Learning with Ms. Lirenman, is an excellent one to follow. I am embedding the video she posted here.

After viewing her video, share what ideas you gained from her presentation. As always, comments are welcomed. How are you feeling about blogging as a professional, as a teacher, or with students? What advantages are you seeing in students blogging?

Fun Way to Teach Spelling

Today when I was on Twitter, I came across a tweet from a Canadian school principal whom I follow that tweeted this:

I was curious about why George sent out this tweet, so clicked on the hyperlink in his tweet, and found this image, which I captured and annotated using the Awesome Screen Capture and Annotate feature I have attached to my toolbar. Take a look at what these 2nd graders are doing with the tweets of the NFL football players.

I retweeted George's tweet, and one of my followers, a college English professor, was concerned that the exercise might reinforce stereotypes about football players.

I tweeted back that this activity could be used in the classroom with tweets from others on Twitter.

In addition to building spelling skills, this activity can also build proofreading skills, and it might encourage students to proofread their writing, especially when it will go online. Now, I know we encourage young learners to use invented spelling to get their ideas "on paper," but still the misspellings these 2nd graders noted are easy enough for the average student that age to find.

What is your opinion on this teaching strategy? How do you encourage the development of spelling skills in your own teaching?

Now, if I have misspelled anything in this post, please feel free to so note it, and to use my post as a learning activity in your own classroom.