Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Help our school win for technology!

I have been nominated for "Best Teacher in America" from Worth Ave Group! Please consider following this link and voting for me by 'nominating' me as well to help our school win! The $25,000 for technology in the school would be well used!! (There is a voter prize as well!) You can nominate once a day per email address through March 31st.  The teacher that receives the most nominations can win for the school:

GRAND PRIZE (1): The winning Nominated Teacher ("Winning Teacher") will receive (1) iPad 2 16GB unit and (30) iPod Touch 8GB units for use in Winning Teacher’s classroom. The Winning Teacher’s School will be given $25,000 to be used for technology in the School.

SECOND PRIZE (5): Each Nominated Teacher who is a runner-up (“Runner-up”) will receive (1) iPad 2 16GB unit as well as $1,000 to be used for technology in the School.

VOTER PRIZE (10): 1 iPad 2 16GB to 5 random voters and 1 iPad 2 16 GB to the persons who referred each of them.

Please consider taking a minute and nominating Holly DuBois at Caleb's Creek Elementary in Forsyth County in NC. (Or taking a minute each day!) Thank you!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Twitter in the media center

Twitter is a forum that I long avoided, unsure of why anyone would care what I was doing or thinking just that second. Recently, I learned the power of Twitter in education if you use it in the right way. By following other educators and leaders in library and technology arenas, I have found many new sources, blog posts, news items, and more that I would not have otherwise stumbled onto. (By the way, if you want to follow me, I am nclibrarygal.)
icontexto webdev social bookmark 100+ Remarkably Beautiful Twitter Icons And Buttons
I came across a news article today (via Twitter of course) about a first grade class using Twitter in the classroom to communicate with parents. It is making me think about ways to use it to communicate with different communities such as parents, volunteers, and so forth.

How do you use Twitter as an educator or as a parent would you be interested in seeing Twitter updates?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Make your pledge!

How will you help NEA build a nation of readers? Make your pledge today and get a certificate like mine.

Classroom Organizer
Classroom Organizer is an online way for your teachers to manage their classroom libraries. They simply create an account, scan in ISBN numbers of their books using a smartphone or a scanner (or they can type them in). Then, students can check books they borrow in and out using the same smartphone, scanner, or type in the ISBN or title. Teachers can now see who has what book and where a title they need might be. I have a teacher at my school already trying it and the students are loving scanning the titles in for her! It is free too!

What are some of your favorite online organizational tools?

Read Across America and Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss is quite an interesting person that you might not know much about other than his name and the children's books he wrote. Those in themselves are quite an accomplishment. The fact that they are still as popular as they are is quite a testament. Some of my personal favorites are The Lorax and Hooray for Diffendoofer Day (which was completed with his words and sketches after he died.) March 2nd has become Read Across America Day in his honor, and I thought this would be a great time for one or more of several lesson ideas with students. There are so many directions you can go with this - timelines, author studies, art class analysis of his style, and more. This site has many links to sketches, videos, biography info, and more. Here are a few ideas that I thought went a little different direction than the regular author study unit if you want something a little different or for older kids.

- Getting information from a variety of sources. This would be a great time to do something like show these video interview clips of his wife talking about him and their life together. Talk about getting information from people or video sources and how that might work the same or differently than a book or website.

- Talk about his political cartoons and how you can convey meaning in this manner. How can you get information from this format? This could also be used for inference lessons. This one for example has lots of imagery, inference, history, etc.

- Discuss advertising and the messages companies are trying to send, who they are aiming products at. Look at his advertising artwork samples and talk about the messages they are sending. (click the logos at the top of the page to see other images.) Would you buy the product?

What is your favorite Dr. Seuss lesson idea or book?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Can I See Your ID Please?

I worked with a 2nd grade teacher recently on some presidential research in time for President's Day. She was working with a reading group of kids from across the grade level and did the biography reading and questions in her class, and then we worked together to make badges for the presidents. The kids had a blast and as a last minute addition, we decided to make the badges into a photostory and have the kids narrate them. There were a few mistakes from the kids misreading or misunderstanding something, but for the most part, they did a fantastic job! It was interesting to see what they picked out as being the most interesting facts about their presidents. They found more information than is included on the badges, but chose what they wanted to include. (They cited the images in the footers of the badges.) Here are some of their badges and you can see the narrated video above:

Monday, February 20, 2012

Happy Presidents' Day!

Square USA Flag

Bring the past to life with this primary source set from the Library of Congress! It includes primary sources about Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson. You can show students things like famous portraits, documents, monuments and more. There are analysis tools available also. There is even a teacher resource guide here that includes information about each of these presidents along with other source suggestions from the LoC. Check it out!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Digital Bloom's Taxonomy

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Author: Samantha Penney

I was looking through my Twitter stream this morning and came across a tweet from Jennifer LaGarde about a digital Bloom's Taxonomy. (Edited to add - this site seems to no longer exist but it is where I got the graphic originally.) I am always looking for new tools and ways to build critical thinking so I checked it out. I love this as a way to show teachers that all technology doesn't mean critical thinking, but it can help at any stage of the game. I also love access to new ideas for myself! If you go to the original image you can click the logos to go to the sites.

I wanted to share since I know in our district we have some Essential Standards training coming up next week and some of you might have the same in the near future. You may see some posts on some of the tools in the coming months...

What tools do you love and which part of the pyramid would you add them to? Please leave a comment below and tell me, but you can also see a wiki on the topic here. I can't wait to see what else we can all come up with!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Online books for kids

Listen and Read
There are so many places you can access books online for kids that I started a livebinder of resources that probably has only scratched the surface. I just found this site from Scholastic with Listen and Read e-books great for beginning readers. I love that most of them have photographs and are nonfiction. You can read them on your own or use a Listen button to hear them. These will be of high interest for lots of readers!

Check out my Livebinder for some other suggestions, but please let me know if you have any other good suggestions!

Character Scrapbook

Twitter is a great source of new ideas if you follow the right people. Scholastic's Character Scrapbook is a resource I found through a tweet this morning. The tweet took me to a blog that talked about this resource so I headed over to try it out for myself. It looks like a great way for students to respond to a book, to research on a person or animal, a time period, or any number of other things, but the main way I see using it for now is as student response to a book.

When you first get to the site, you enter the book and character name, then create a person's image using choices provided, or you can choose to print it and draw your own. You can also choose from a selection of animals. The animals look more like book character type animals however as they are cartoonish. You can then select on the right side which top ten type list you would like to use. Choices include options like Ten Things I Know About _______________, Ten Accomplishments _______________ Acheived, Ten Words That Describe _______________, Ten Challenges ___________ Faced, Ten Details About ______________, and so forth.

Here is an example I made quickly using the book Willow by Denise Brennan-Nelson.  If you want a new way for students to present information about a character, check out this site!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Happy Accidents

I have been reading Shark Vs Train with some of my classes this week as part of the North Carolina Children's Book Award classes. I had the webcam for the Monterey Bay Open Sea exhibit open in the background ready to show after the book as students are sometimes lucky enough to see a hammerhead shark swim past. Suddenly in the middle of the book, a woman's voice started coming from the webcam. I was not quite ready for it yet, but quickly finished the book and switched over to it as I realized it was an announcer at the aquarium talking about a live feeding happening in the moment. I had not even thought about an experience like that being available, but it was a lot of fun. We could not see the feeding itself as the camera doesn't move but we could still see the animals swimming and heard a lot of fun information about them. We never got the see the hammerhead shark in the tank swim by, usually we see him at least once, but there is a page that has pictures of all the animals so we used that instead as a backup. We did see sardines, mahi mahi, sea turtles, rays, and tuna. The aquarium is in California and we are in NC, so it was actually 2 PM here when it started, but here is the information about the feeding.

From the Monterey Bay site:
Open Sea Feeding
Where: Open Sea Exhibit
When: 11 a.m.
Length: 15 minutes
Join us in front of one of the world's largest windows as we feed the animals in our spectacular Open Sea exhibit. See who's hungry and learn about the amazing adaptations of tuna, turtles, sharks, sardines and others. Learn the important roles they play to keep their habitats in balance. View our underwater cam for live images of this exhibit.

There are other feedings available also, you can see more information on their site. Look for ones with links to webcams. Here is a picture of their Open Sea exhibit.
Open Sea Exhibit

Friday, February 10, 2012

Copyright for Educators

As an addition to yesterday's post on finding copyright friendly images, here is an excellent article in quick and easy to read terms for educators on The Educator’s Guide to Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons. It also gives some additional ideas of image sites, but highly suggests Flickr Creative Commons as well. Check it out for a quick review or intro!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Where can I find a picture of ...?

I often hear from teachers and students one of two things about images. It seems to be either "I went to Google Images" or "Where can I get an image of xyz?" We try to discourage using Google Images since the copyrights are in question as you don't really know where the pictures are coming from, but even more importantly, are the pictures appropriate. You can search for something innocent and come up with not so innocent results.

Instead, I try to use sites for pictures that already grant rights to use them to start with, but also sources that have more appropriate choices. This is a good time also to talk to students about copyright, fair use, sites granting permission to use images, etc. While this doesn't always work and you sometimes need to use pictures from elsewhere for an educational purpose, we always talk about being sure to cite our sources. Here are some sources of copyright friendly images I have used or recently come across.

Pics 4 Learning - From their website: Pics4Learning is a safe, free image library for education. Teachers and students can use the copyright-friendly photos and images for classrooms, multimedia projects, web sites, videos, portfolios, or any other project in an educational setting. The thousands of photos in this collection are approved for use in the classroom and indexed and sorted in order to maximize their effective use by students in a 21st century classroom. I have used this site quite a bit for things like Fakebook pictures, animals pictures, and such. In some areas, they have a great selection, but it is lacking in other areas as all the images are submitted by amateur photographers.

Edupic - All images on the site are free to use for educators and their students. All other uses are by permission only. This site has many images and they are sorted into curriculum areas, quick links, or by site search. I have not used this one with students yet as I just found it, but it looks like one that I will return to often. (Edited to say: I have used this one more myself and there is so much to choose from for images and they are high resolution so they work well to crop if you need to also. Just click the search button and search.)

Uncle Sam's Photos - This is a directory of the US Government's Free Photo Galleries. There are not a huge amount of photos, but might also be a place to look. I have not used this one as much yet, but wanted to throw it out there.

US Fish and Wildlife Service Digital Galleries - This looks like a great site for animal images, biomes, and other outdoor type images. I like that it is from the Fish and Wildlife Service. It is easily searchable. From the website: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Digital Library is a searchable collection of selected images, historical artifacts, audio clips, publications, and video and that are in the public domain. You are free to use them as you wish - no permission is necessary. We do ask that you please give credit to the photographer or creator and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in a format similar to the example below. Credit: John Doe/USFWS

Creative Commons Flickr - Various attribution requirements, but lots of images to choose from and lots to sort through sometimes. To save a picture to insert into a project, right click on the picture and choose the size you want. That will then take you to a screen where you can download it. "Creative Commons is a non-profit that offers an alternative to full copyright." There is a great variety of images.

What sources for copyright friendly images do you use?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

More Renaissance Passes

Recently I posted about 6th grade research on famous people from the Renaissance. A second class just finished the same project and I think we had a bit better product from them. Several of them seemed to think the summary through better before making the badge. Here are some of their badges.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Looking Back at Marian Anderson

I was asked by a Kindergarten teacher to do a lesson with kids on authors purpose. Apparently, all her students are under the impression that pretty much all books are written with the purpose to help them learn to read. While we hope they do, we talked about how to get this idea across and decided to focus on a biography with the author's purpose of giving information. Since it is Black History month, I wanted to do a biography that went with this as well, but not someone they will hear about for years to come. I chose Marian Anderson, someone who faced down challenges with grace and is an accomplished singer all on her own that should be remembered even without those challenges.

I wanted to give the students more of an experience with her than just reading a biography, so I started searching. I was a little surprised to find video clips of her Lincoln Memorial performance that I didn't know existed. This will help to put that into context with the time, the location, and to be able to hear her voice and see her face as she becomes her music will be an experience for them. 75,000 people attended this concert and millions listened in on the radio. What an impact this must have made, especially with Eleanor Roosevelt helping set it up after Constitution Hall would not let her perform due to her race. I also came across several song recordings, interview recordings, and photo galleries from various sources that could be used in a larger unit.

A study of Marian Anderson can fit into units on music, opera, NAACP, Eleanor Roosevelt, segregation, and many other topics.

What is a topic you brought to life from the past for students?

Monday, February 6, 2012


I am having way too much fun for a Monday morning playing with Kerpoof! There are a lot of fun things to do on this site, mostly relating to reading and writing, but could be applied in other ways. You can see a short introductory video about the site here, but I mostly just played with some of the elements to get started. There is a teacher link that allows you to set up free teacher accounts, but I have not tried it yet as I could access many pieces without it. There are some parts like the Make A Movie that wanted you to buy the scene at the Kerpoof store first, so I would suggest testing the teacher account before you have students rush into  it. I imagine it would be best to have one if you use it with students though to allow them to save their work.  You are agreeing to moderate your group if you do so however. You can see more about this and other elements here in the FAQ section.

The first ideas are to use Kerpoof for writing, spelling, genre writing, etc. but there are so many other places you can take it. The spell a picture is rather fun and a great way to make spelling fun, but also a great way to practice content vocabulary. Make a picture about a certain biome and only include things you would find there, or make a mystery scene or a science fiction scene all while practicing spelling and having fun. The Tell A Story or Make a Movie would be fun ways to teach genre through the student's storytelling, or have them use it to create a report about something they are learning. There are a ton of ideas on the lesson plans page as well.

There are lesson plans, pdf tutorials for each section, classroom ideas and more, but the best way to get started in my opinion is to just play!

How would you use Kerpoof in your classroom?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Newspaper Generator

I just came across a fun new tool! This Newspaper Generator allows you to type in your own story, paper name, and date and creates a real looking newspaper clip. Here is a quick sample I made.
This could be used for so many things. To teach about different purposes of writing, how to write informational text, how to present a historical event from the point of view of that era, how to write op/ed articles, and so forth. There are so many different ways to use this. It could even tie in with the Black History biographies I have been doing as students could do an article about something their person did or an interview with them. It is a great way to reinforce facts, beginning, middle, and end, informative writing, and more. I can't wait to show some of the teachers at school. 

How would you use this? 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Black History PowerPoints

Yes, I know some people think powerpoints are outdated, but kids still like to make them and they are a good way to show how to organize notes in main idea phrases. I worked with second grade classes on researching biographies of famous Black Americans for Black History Month. They had to find the birthdate, birthplace, why they are famous, and two important facts. We also talked a lot about citations and how important it is to cite your sources. Each student had to opportunity to use a book and we also used World Book Kids online to let them start using that as a source as well.

To gather and organize the information, I simply had them fold a piece of blank paper into 4 boxes with one box for each part of the information. On the back, we cited the book in one box, and the website in another. Then, for the powerpoint, they were to type one bullet point for each box and add the citation information at the bottom. Then, they could either insert a picture as long as they cited the source, or think about the person and choose a clip art image that represented them. For example, a music note or microphone for a singer. Here are a few student work samples:

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Renaissance Passes

I am working with a sixth grade teacher on reviewing the Big 6 process with her kids through a project in which they are each researching an important person from the Renaissance as an introduction to the unit. We are doing a quick three day lesson (day 1=review of Big 6 and brainstorm sources, day 2=research, day 3=create project). They are looking for brief information such as:

When and where did they live?
Why are they famous?
What effect did their contributions have on society?
Can we still their contributions today? How?

The sixth graders are hard to get interested in much, so we wanted a cool way to present the information. We thought about a movie poster, but settled on an ID Pass from Big Huge Labs (see my previous post about it) as a better way to present this information. Here is an example I made today.
After making the sample card I realized how little text you can fit on it, so this is also going to be a great way to force students to practice taking the long winded notes on their papers and summarize them into a few sentences. I would definitely suggest trying it before you show it to students just to practice because the first one I made had words on top of words when I wrote too much.

We are using the Member Since for birthdate and Expiration for death. The header describes the person - artist, religious leader, ruler, king, etc. The footer is the citation for their picture. The bio should include where they lived, what they contributed to society and how we still see it today. I am excited to see what they come up with.

What are some other ways you can think of to use this for a project?

Edited to say: They had a little harder time than I would have expected summarizing and understanding contributions of their person. We need to spend more time on this and model that question more specifically on someone they are not researching to understand how to answer the questions. I didn't think the questions about their contribution and its impact would be difficult, but it is not a 'right there' answer I guess so they didn't get the idea behind the question. I still like the idea and they loved using it! Here are a couple of examples they did and you can see where we need to work on them a bit still and also talk about the evaluation part of Big 6 more to check your work. 

If It Were My Home

IfItWasMyHome.comThe site If It Were My Home is a great tool for comparisons in the classroom. You can compare the size of a country to where you live, with another country, or see the size of disasters like the BP oil spill. It was astonishing to me to see the oil spill overlaid on a map of my city and how far it extended. This helps students see things in relation to what they know rather than endless ocean, in this case. You can also compare to see percentages like how much more or less electricity you would have, chance of being employed, free time, how much money you might have, and other highlighted facts along with a few paragraphs of more in depth information. For example, if I lived in Canada rather than the US, I would have 4.01% more free time but 17.24% less money - I wonder what I would spend the time doing?