Saturday, September 28, 2013

How and Why Teachers Should Blog

In my readings today, I came across an additional source about why teachers should blog as well as why they should have their students blogging. I posted the article on Twitter, and given it attracted "favorites" and "retweets," thought I should share the information here. Among the reasons listed for teachers to introduce their students to blogging are these, in paraphrased format:

1) Encourage Collaboration Among Students

2) Teach Students How to Write Blogging Comments to Learn How to Give Feedback

This point reminded me of a video students in Linda Yollis created about how to write good blogging comments, which I am embedding here--a reminder for teachers when they respond to blog posts and a video to use with students once they are introduced to blogging.

3) Provide Evidence of Student Achievement

4) Encourage Students to Write and Gain Practice with Writing

To access the article, click on the word cloud above, which I found in the article, "How (And Why) Teachers Should Blog." Do you truly believe teachers should blog and that they should teach blogging principles to their students?

Additionally, this morning I came across an excellent blog post written by Lynn Hilt, a former K-6 elementary school principal and now the instructional technology coach for her school district. Click on the image to access the post:

Lynn offers links to a variety of resources in the post. Consider checking some of these out.

Will Chamberlain, an elementary school teacher maintains the blog, Comments4Kids, which is an excellent way for teachers and their students to respond to students who are blogging and to make global connections.

So, are you convinced teachers and students should be blogging?

And, last did you know October is Connected Educators' Month? No better way to connect than finding teachers who want to do cross-class blogging projects.

Friday, September 27, 2013

What Are Your Favorite Web 2.0 Tools? Which Do You Want to Use?

Thought I would query others to find out about their favorite Web 2.0 tools and which they want to try out or use more often. To start, I should list mine, and tell why I use them.
  • Twitter--use it to learn from other professionals and to keep current on new trends, research, and updates in the education field.

  • Diigo--could not live without this tool to bookmark and tag sites I want archived. By keeping the Diigo Diigolet extension on my toolbar, I can easily bookmark sites. This enables me to return to sites on any computer by going into my Diigo Library online and looking up the sites using a "tag for searching" or using a "List" that I created to categorize bookmarks. I now have over 5,000 sites bookmarked. As much as that is, I can easily find the sites using the tags or list feature. 
  • Although I also use Pinterest to bookmark sites, I don't find it as functional as Diigo for locating sites I want to go back to at a moment's notice. I pin to boards, but if I need to find a bunch of sites on a related topic quickly, Diigo's indexing system with tags and lists works better for me, which I find weird given I tend to be a visual learner, and Pinterest is a highly visual medium. 
  • Facebook--although I use Facebook to connect with friends, I also use it to follow many professional pages, which like Twitter, keeps me updated on professional development. 
  • Blogger--for creating posts, such as this one, and reading others' posts and commenting.
  • Other blogging platforms--really like Kidblog as a way for students in elementary and middle school to get going with blogging. For high school and college students, recommend Blogger or WordPress, though know many higher schoolers flock to Tumblr. Although I have a Tumblr account, I use it primarily to follow others' Tumblr blogs. Know some teachers also use Edublogs, which is a division of WordPress, for class blogs and for individual students to blog. 
  • Google Communities--increasing I am turning to Google Communities for information related to the field of education, but also have joined other Communities such as photography ones.
  • Animoto, GoAnimate, Bitstrips, Storybird, and VoiceThread are some of the Web 2.0 sites I go to make digital stories, or as with VoiceThread, to also create interactive slide shows. I also like HaikuDeck, which is an iPad app, but is in a beta release for use on the Web, and have used the website version that way. 
  • For creating word clouds, I use Wordle and Tagul. Here is a word cloud generated with Tagul, using this post to create it:

  • Wikispaces is the wiki tool I use with classes, though I have also created class wikis using Google Sites.
  • Although I have used GlogsterEdu and Padlet, I have not used them as often as my colleagues who teach K-12. I like Glogster for younger students to create an interactive bulletin board, and Padlet as a collaborative chalkboard, Post-it note site.
  • Google Drive and Google Sites--are the two Web 2.0 tools I use daily. For these, I am forever thankful to Google for providing free tools to author with and allow for online collaboration.
  • Also liking Google Hangouts for video calling, but realize many schools still rely on Skype, and think the Skype in the Classroom site is an excellent way for teachers to find Skype projects. 
  • YouTube is my favorite video tool for collaboration. I subscribe to several YouTube channels and individuals, and also save my favorite YouTubes in categories. Also, turn to YouTube if I need to upload a video I created. Occasionally, I have used Vimeo, but YouTube remains my favorite for having fast access to an enormous collection of videos.
  • Dropbox and Evernote are tools I use in addition to Google Drive for cloud storage.
  • Flickr is my go-to-tool for storing photos and finding others' photos that are Creative Commons, free to use.  
I am sure I left out some favorites, but believe I have included the ones I use regularly as well as ones that I have seen teachers and other educators use often.

So what are some of your regulars and favorite Web 2.0 tools? What are ones you want to try out for professional use and with students?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

PicCollage and PicMonkey: Let Your Creative Juices Flow, Have Fun

PicCollage is an app for phones and tablets, and as the name implies, is used to make collages.

Here is an image of 5th graders creating a collage with PicCollage:

PicMonkey is a free web-based tool for editing photos, and offers lots of free editing options to transform your photos. You can also create collages with this web tool.

Let me know if you use either of Pic Collage or PicMonkey, and if you use them in the classroom. Check them out if you're not already using them.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Using the Vine App to Promote Literacy

These Vines are from Mr. Schu, a phenomenal elementary school librarian. Click to watch the Vines in action. Vine is a tool for making very short videos that loop, and replay. Although used for many purposes, Mr. Schu found a way to integrate the app into the school setting.

First graders learning to resize and cite images.

To learn about Mr. Schu, and all the fabulous things he does, follow his blog and follow him on Twitter. Click on images below to access each.


Twitter (and there's a reason he has over 13,000 followers--he shares great resources daily)

If you have a chance to explore some of his resources, let us know what you think. Would you consider using the Vine app in your teaching?

Learning to Use VoiceThread in EDUC584

This is a practice VoiceThread we created in EDUC584, spring 2012. That semester, we Skyped with authors and a few teachers. We photographed and video recorded the sessions. We used pictures from our Skype sessions to create this practice VoiceThread. This one was used just to demonstrate how the site works and is not intended as a finished product. The VoiceThread is being embedded, but following it are hyperlinks to VoiceThreads that teachers taking EDUC584 created for use in the classroom or with their students.

This link goes to a VoiceThread a teacher created in which her students do the voice recordings.

Ms. Field's First Grade Animal VoiceThread

This one was created by a teacher to tell students about herself at the beginning of the school year.

Jamee Introduces Herself to Her Students

Maribeth's VoiceThread with Her Students' Drawings (Pre-School)

How might you consider using VoiceThread in your own teaching? The site has some samples for review, so you can also check those for ideas. Here is a link to some that I saved for reference.

The site also showcases VoiceThreads on a monthly, weekly, and daily basis.

Here's a link to those showcased this past month.
Here's a link to ones showcased during a week.
Last, these VoiceThreads were showcased on a specific day.

Overall, what is your impression of this tool, which can be used on computers, tablets, and even phones? What ideas do you have for using VoiceThread with students?

Learning to Use Storybird in EDUC 584

Storybird is an easy tool to use once you start playing around with it. As with other tools, the first time around will be trial and error, but once you get the knack of it, it will be easier to use the next time around. First, get the knack of it before you use it with students.

Once you open your account, go to setting, and note how you can set the age bracket to filter the kinds of illustrations that students will be able to use. This is an important feature to use when implementing the program in the school setting. I created the below using an age setting for elementary students.

Here is a quick example. Note when using Storybird, once a theme and illustration set are chosen, you begin by creating your cover for the book. You  use the + sign in the program to advance to the next page, but each time, you need to hit the Save button to save a page before advancing to your next page. You simply drag and drop the illustration you want on the page, and then use the space for writing text to compose your story line for that page. Once done with the page, remember to hit Save and then hit the + sign to advance to the next page. When your story is completed, go to the Menu to save it, and you will be prompted with specific options. Once your story is successfully processed, you can go back in and get the embed code to copy so you can embed your story in a blog post. You can also grab the URL for the story if you prefer to use that to direct viewers to your story on the Storybird site.

To view this story, use the full-screen option, which is in the lower right-hand corner.

Here are some links to find examples created by former EDUC 584 students. They created these stories to read to their students. In other cases, students worked with the teachers to create the stories, doing this as a collaborative project, with students selecting the illustrations and dictating or typing the text for each page in the story.

Anna created several posts about her use of Storybird with her kindergarteners:

Mari Beth created this one to use with her preschoolers

Bryan created this one to use with his second graders.
Now that you've seen some examples, how do you envision using a tool like Storybird with students? 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Students of All Ages Can Create Public Service Announcements (PSA's)

Here is a PSA that students made regarding stopping bullying. It is a realistic example of what students can do when teachers offer them the opportunity to make PSA's. If you don't want to show your students' faces in a video, there are all kinds of ways for them to make PSA's. Although this example shows the students' faces, it is just one example of a PSA. Click on the image below to access the video from Animoto. Below the image of the video are links to posts that Bill Ferriter wrote about the project and the lesson plan he used for the student activity.

Blog Post about the Anti-Bullying PSA
Lesson Plan

Would you consider having your students make PSA's? If so, what topics might they address? What tool would you consider for them to make the PSA, keeping in mind the tool does not have to be technology one?

Create Animated Videos with GoAnimate

Here is a short video I made with GoAnimate. I am using the free version. I used only the settings, characters, speech bubbles, and music options to make this one, but lots of options are available in the free version. View in full screen to see the speech bubbles more easily.

So What's You Doing? by Judy A on GoAnimate

Friday, September 20, 2013

Reading on an iPod Found to Help Those with Dyslexia and More on Struggling Readers

As educators, we're always looking for ways to help our students. Some of us work with students who have trouble reading due to dyslexia, and some of us know friends and family members with this reading condition. I came across this study that I thought was worth sharing. Although the subjects in the study were high school students in Massachusetts, it would be interesting to find out if iPods help both younger students and even adults who suffer from reading issues related to their dyslexia. You can read the study at this site. You can also download the article or print it, if you prefer. Click on the article's title to access the article online.

What is some research you know of or observations you have made as an educator to help those who are struggling readers? Did you find the article helpful?

If you work with students with Down Syndrome, you might want to check the blog of Kathleen Whitbread, a special education professor at the Univeristy of Saint Joseph, CT. You can access her blog here, and let us know what you think of the information she provides.

On a more informal scale, I found this article that challenges the way many teachers conduct read-alouds in their classroom. The article offers two alternatives: Echo Reading and Choral Reading. You can find the article by clicking on the headline below.

As a teacher, do you agree with the methods suggested? Do you agree that the more conventional methods of read-alouds are not effective? As a student and former high school teachers who worked with struggling readers, I recall the method outlined as the conventional read-aloud method. I envisioned students figuring out ahead what they would be called upon to read and watching them skim to their sections and not paying attention to other readers. What about you?

Meet the Authors in a Google Hangout

Last year, I played around with a neat Web 2.0 tool called Smore that allows you to quickly create flyers. I decided to visit the site recently to make a flyer to announce an upcoming event.

When you go to the site, it is convenient to have pictures you want to use ready to go. Look through the templates, font choices, and backgrounds. Here is one example to give you an idea of what a flyer embedded in a blot post looks like. Use the scroll bar to see the flyer fully.

Head on over to the Smore site to learn more, and discover how you can send your flyers via email, post them on Facebook or Google +, embed them in a blog or website, or share them in other ways.

Author Blogs: Visit Kate Messner's Blog to Learn More

Kate Messner, children's book author, has an excellent blog, and included on it as a Page to find other authors' blogs. 

Here's a quick screen capture of the authors' blogs she offers, with links to them, but you need to visit her page to use the links virtually to get to the blogs.

While, you're on her site, look around. She offers a variety of information for young readers and encourages children to read and write. Here's a screen capture of the pages on her blog showing she has pages for Books, Blog, Kids, Writers, Speaking, Appearances, and About Me. If you set up a classroom blog, you might want to create a page to help your own students find authors' blogs online.

Perhaps seeing that authors have blogs will encourage your students to want to have a full class blog or to create their own individual blog, or join a class blog organized with a platform like KidBlog.

In addition to Kate's blog, she also can be found in these places:



Google Docs for Learning: Way More than Meets the Eye

Susan Oxenovd created this great Glogster of multiple ways to use Google Docs. Click any object for details.

Let us know if you find this Glogster useful for finding new ways to use Google Docs.

News, Book Reviews, and More for Kids

I've heard numerous teachers extol the value of using the DoGo website with students. Here students can find current events to read about and then have writing projects in their class based on what they read. They can also read book reviews written by kids, and better yet contribute their own reviews to the site. Check out the book review section. Click on the image below.

Explore this part of the site to see the reviews students have written. After you have explored around, then check the Dogo News for Kids section, by clicking on the link image below. Notice news is listed in categories. Also, notice the tabs: Teachers and Kids.

After browsing around the site, let us know if you would recommend this site to teachers or if you would consider using with your students?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"This Is The Best Video I’ve Seen On Perseverance & Resilience: “There’s no dishonor in having a disability”

I found this video from a tweet posted by St. Louis, MO School District Curriculum Coordinator Justin Tarte who came across it on Larry Ferrzzano's blog, and it is really worth passing along. Feel free to share with others, and if appropriate to share with your students for discussion, a writing prompt, or an introduction to unit of study. It is also a great motivational video to show students the value of persistence and resilience. Let me know what you think after you watch it, and thanks to Justin and Larry for spreading around this video, which has already had over 23,000 views on YouTube. Larry also posted on his blog a link to a lesson plan for using the video with students, and I will be including that link as well.

Here is a link the lesson plan which is sponsored by the TED-ED Lessons Worth Sharing Site: There’s no dishonor in having a disability - Steven Claunch

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cranes for Peace: A Global Project

Once we introduce technology in our classrooms and schools, we open up opportunities for students to collaborate in ways unfathomable before. One excellent example is a quad blogging. The Cranes 4 Peace Blog, a collaborative project, follows this format, with students from countries around the world contributing to a common blog. Here is an image from just one of the posts on the blog,

Check the About page for the project, and then go to the blog itself, The Cranes 4 Peace, to see what the children in this collaborative blog are posting.

Take some time to look. Don't rush. Leave your comments on this post after you've looked around. Have you gotten any inspiration from The Cranes 4 Peace blog? Would you consider implementing a similar project in your school?

See this website to learn more about the Peace Crane Project. The site will offer ideas for ways you can celebrate in your own schools and bring awareness to world peace.

Here is a video about the project:

For more information about the International Day of Peace, celebrated, Sept. 21, 2013, also  check this website: International Day of Peace, Education for Peace.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Still Wondering What Dot Day Is and Looking for Activities

Dot Day can be celebrated any day. The Educators' Handbook for Dot Day is an excellent guide for lesson ideas for any day of the year. This free guide can be downloaded from Fable Vision Learning. Click on the image below to access the online pdf of the guide, and save the file for reference.

And for more inspiration, check this blog which is a steady stream of artistic contributions in celebration of the ideas represented in the book. Click on the image of the blog's banner below to get to the blog:

See for instance, the contribution from artist Jon Klassen, winner of the 2013 Caldecott Medal for "Most Distinguished Picture Book": This is Not Hat

You will find close to 100 illustrations on the site, as of September 15, 2013, which marks the 10th anniversary celebration of the book's birthday. Check the blog archive to trace back contributions.

Special Education Resources for Teachers and Others

We all teach students with special needs whether we are certified special education teachers or teachers working with students in our classes who have special needs. Here are some resources I recently discovered.

Thanks to Melissa Taylor for sharing many of the above resources on Google+.

What are some of your favorite resources for special education teachers? What tech tools do you find most helpful for students with special needs? Which of the above resources were most helpful to you?

Fifth Graders' Animoto: Classroom Vision

Mrs. Ripp, a 5th grade teacher from Wisconsin, is the brains behind the Global Read Aloud. She also has several blogs, and her students blog with KidBlog.

Here's an Animoto that her students recently produced and that Mrs. Ripp posed on two of her blogs:


Mrs. Ripp also invites others to post comments on her students' KidBlog: Mrs. Ripp's Class 

To get students ready for blogging, Mrs. Ripp introduces a paper blogging project, where students practice writing comments to one another's writing using paper and sticky notes. Here are two pictures she posted on Twitter showing her 5th graders doing paperblogs.

If you're looking for some fresh ideas to implement with students or ways to communicate with parents, scroll around Pernille's professional and parent blog. Also, search through her students' KidBlog, and leave them some comments.

To access each of the blogs, click on the images.

Professional Blog:

Parent Blog:

Mrs. Ripp's Class KidBlog

What ideas for implementation in the classroom did you get from flipping through Mrs. Ripp's blogs or her students' bog?

Ideas for Using Animoto to Enrich Student Learning

The Read/Write/Think website, which offers lots of lesson plan ideas, recently ran a post, "Bringing Animoto to Life in the Classroom." The post included many good ideas for using Animoto successfully in the classroom, as well as strategies for introducing the tool to students.

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by dennisar
The post also reminds us about opening an educator's account and then enrolling your students by using the code Animoto provides. Setting up an Animoto Educator's account following the directions provided also helps to keep a class organized as students work with the tool and want to showcase their work. One suggestion was to set up a wiki with links to the students' Animoto. I did something like one semester to keep track of students' Animotos and to make it easier for other educators to find the Animotos all in one place.

Animotos for Spring 2012 students on a wiki page.

Some of the ideas that teacher Kathy Wickline suggested on Read/Write/Think website for using Animoto include:

  • Students introducing themselves. One of the Education 584 teachers in the West Hartford Cohort did this with his 6th graders. Take a look at his blog post where he includes three samples from his students, "Pulling It All Together."
  • Use of Animoto for students to recap a research project. This option can be offered as an alterative to the classic PowerPoint.
  • Set up an Scavenger Hunt in which students go off and take photos to document their findings. My niece did this with campers she supervised when she was a counselor this summer. The campers loved it, and then we assembled their photos in an Animoto. It was nice to share this with parents. In a school setting, the Animoto could be posted on a class website and shared with parents.
  • Create scrapbooks to review the school year. The Read/Write/Think does not include creating a Scrapbook specifically of a field trip, but one of the former Education spring 2012 students did just that. She created a scrapbook using photos of biweekly field trips her students made to a local farm, "Farm Trip Animoto."  Another teacher from the Spring 2012 also used Animoto for a field trip summary, "Field Trip Animoto." 
Given the valuable ideas the Read/Write/Think site offers, including organizing setting up a class Animoto site, I suggest going right to the post as well as following some of the links in the post. "Bringing Lessons to Life with Animoto."

Once you go the post on Read/Write/Think, notice the teacher, Kathy Wickline, who created the post, also has other contributions.

Screen Capture done with Awesome Screen Capture

If you click on her Profile link, you will find other lesson ideas she contributed to the Read/Write/Think site. She has lots of good ideas for using other Web 2.0 and other tools such as:

  • Voki as a way to create commercials
  • Prezi in relation to historical fiction
  • Glogs for book reports
  • Book Trailers created with PhotoStory 3 including a template for students to organize the trailer
Let us know what ideas you gather about using Animoto? If you are not yet following the Read/Write/Think site, you might consider doing so.  Take a look at the site's homepage to get an idea of the wealth of resources offered. Read/Write/Think.

So What Can Kindergarteners Do with Digital Tools

Matt Gomez, a kindergarten teacher in Texas, does amazing things with his students. Check his blog, and check this recent post about how he uses blogging with students. The post includes links to a variety of projects his students are doing.

Click on the image below to access the specific post:

If kindergarten kids can do all of these things with digital tools, think about what kids in general can do when teachers expose them to digital tools for learning and creating.

Here are  some screen captures from the post to give you an idea of what students are doing.

So what's your reaction to how the kindergarteners are learning with digital tools? After exploring Matt's blog and some of his posts, what have you been motivated to do with your students using digital tools?

Friday, September 13, 2013

International Dot Day Coming Your Way

International Dot Day falls on September 15, but students read the book, The Dot, any time of the year.  In September, teachers make a concerted effort to share with the others their students' responses. Some share through a Twitter tweet with a link to a blog post, video, or image. I'm including examples below.

First, here's an Animoto.  Click on the image below to access it.

Here's another Animoto, created by students at the Brewster and Korn Elementary School in Durham, CT. Click on the image to view the Animoto.

Here's an example of a bulletin board students created.

Below are other images I screen captured from teachers' tweets. 

The students above are coloring pictures and will use the colAR App to make their pictures come to life in 3-D.  Here's an example of 2nd graders using the app before coloring the pictures. It's hard to imagine how the app works in this 2-D environment, but you can learn more about it from the colARApp site. The site includes in its collections coloring pages for Dot Day.

The one below is of Connecticut school media-librarian Anne Doyle, from RSD#13, in the Middlebury-Durham area. Anne Doyle is the school librarian, grade 5-6, at  Memorial School Library.  Great to see an educator and student dressing up to celebrate the book's theme of "make your mark on the world." 

Jenny Lussier, a teacher librarian at the Brewster and Korn Elementary Schools in Durham, RSD#13, is also getting ready for dot day. Here is a shot from her web page.

The Korn Elementary School, one of the schools, even has on its homepage, information about the school celebrating Dot Day.

And another Connecticut teacher, Nada Nanoun, in Avon, is also celebrating Dot Day with her 2nd graders, and posted this picture:

She shared this follow-up comment on Twitter:

And one of the best ways to follow along with what students are doing for Dot Day is by checking the author's own Dot Day sign up page and his Twitter feed, which does not require a Twitter account to view.  Click on the image below to find Peter Reynold's Twitter 

Look for ULR's in tweets to for links to click on to access pictures. Here's a screen capture to show you what such a link looks like.  

Well, by now, hoping your creativity is flowing, and you're inspired to join in. Let us know your plans or thoughts about Dot Day or the book The Dot and its many messages to go out and "make your mark" in the world.