Writing my way through the school year!

Posts tagged ‘Technology’

“The Marble Run Challenge!”- STEMazing!

Sometimes you get tired of the “new” thing in education.

Well, I was tired of  hearing, reading, and/or discussing “STEM”or “STEAM”, whichever you prefer.
I really didn’t understand what the big deal was until we participated in Jen Wagner’s “Marble Run Challenge.”

Now don’t get me wrong, my kids code, we integrate tech, etc, but I had never done a STEM project….READ MORE...

Why Run, When You Can, “Jog the Web?”

   Get it?   Usually you run around the web looking for websites. With Jog the Web, you bundle what you want in one place and “jog” from site to site, well, sort of. 🙂

Anyway,  I found out about  Jog the Web  from one of  the wonderful teachers in the Edmodo Language Arts community.  I was really grateful because I am conducting a workshop on some of the websites I use in my classroom.  This came in right on time, and it is very simple to use.

You have to create an account, and then you can get started creating your Jog..  There is a section to add the title , the URL, and a page comment(description) of the site, then you hit SAVE.  You can add as many sites as you choose.  Each site has a page number, and you can change the position of the links you added while you’re creating or editing your jog.  I found out that if you click a number of times, it will move your link more than one position at a time.  When your jog is displayed, it is a slide show of the sites you added, complete with the attractive title page made from one of their templates. The great part is that the sites can be accessed through the jog, you do not have to leave the jog to get to the sites, unless you want to. AND, not only can you add Internet content, you can also add your own content.  There is a chance to purchase a Premium account for those of you who want more.

Don’t want to lose your jog?  You can save it to your Favorites.  Want to share your jog?   Share by email, embed it, use the link URL, or use the Bookmark and Share box which is  filled with a number of ways to share!  They even have a Help button which can be turned on and off. One more thing, your jog is public unless you have a premium account.  This means others can view your Jog, but by the same token, there are wonderful Jogs that you can view as well!

One small annoying thing, when you go from slide to slide, text pops up that says, “We’re Trying to Load…”. for about 2 seconds. Maybe it won’t happen to you. But, I don’t mind, it’s worth the time!

WONDERFUL WEBSITES! – This is my Jog that I am using to guide my workshop. (Tools for Integrating Technology in the Classroom)And each teacher walks away with this Jog, which they can access anytime they want!

Using a Glog to Construct Knowledge – an example of how a teacher used Jog the Web for a class project.

Bag the Web – another tool like Jog the Web, except you “bag” your sites. Very cool!

Glad There’s Google!

“How many of you have been to New York?”

Two students in my group raised their hand. I asked them to name some things they know about New York, and they really couldn’t tell me much.  I, of course, knew a lot, because it’s my hometown.  But I wanted their knowledge, not mine. This was the third time I had read “Chester Cricket’s Pigeon Ride”, and it needed spicing up!  If not for my kids’ sake, then for mine.

Google Maps to the rescue! My  students opened their laptops,logged on, and away we went to New York City!  We went to the section where we could look at actual photos of New York City. We viewed the city using Panoramia, the kids  took a virtual tour of New York City. It made me homesick.:(  They were so excited! As they viewed the photos, they commented on everything. The height of the buildings, how many people there were, the view at night, all those lights! We returned to our list, and I asked the question, “What do you know about New York City?” My list filled up fast.  Google Maps helped my kids go where they had never been without leaving their seats. Hopefully, it will give some of them that urge to travel outside their state as they grow,and  allow them to open their minds to other places.

Anyway, we wrapped it all up with a rousing rendition of “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra using an MP3 download found on, what else, Google! Nothing like a classroom full of 5th graders singing a Frank Sinatra song with their teacher the loudest of all. We had fun! Thank goodness, there’s Google!

Google Maps Webinar – Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Google Maps Webinar=Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Getting Animated with GoAnimate4Schools!

I spent part of my Saturday playing around with this site. I discovered GoAnimate a while ago, but with so many things going on, I lost track of it. Basically, it is a site where students and teachers can create animations.  They not only have state of the art animation tools, but, they also have a Lesson  gallery where teachers can view  animations created by other teachers or students.  I like it because it is so easy to use, really.  There is a tutorial on the page to get you started. Each student can have their own account, which can be monitored. I haven’t used it with my students yet, but I am looking forward to it. If anyone has used it, and has any ideas they can share, I would appreciate it!

In order to get the hang of it,  I took one of the ideas from my posts, and made a short video. So cool!
GoAnimate4Schools.com: Give Students a Fresh Start! by Lisa Mims
http://goanimate4schools.com//api/animation/player
Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate4Schools. It’s free and fun!

Environmentally-friendly lessons!

We just received new copiers. . Big ,big, heavy-duty copiers, meant to run off lots and lots of paper. I have come to the conclusion,  that teachers,mind you this opinion is  not based onany  research, use more paper than any other profession.  Between assessments, handouts, flyers, and the” 25 pages that were copied 2 sided/2 sided because someone forgot to clear the machine” or “the teacher who used it before you forgot to remove the pink paper,’ we waste a lot of paper!

That being said, I was so proud of myself when I created an environmentally friendly lesson.  As a matter of fact, more and more of my lessons are “green.”  I owe it all to my friend, technology.  I was teaching the skill making inferences and it  was almost completely green. First, my whole group lesson was  obtained from SMART exchange and was shared on the SMARTboard.  The students followed and interacted on the board, no paper. Next, they watched the video, “Miss Nelson is Back”, courtesy of Discovery Education’s United Streaming.  After viewing the movie, they completed the  “Organizing Inferences” sheet,that was  posted on Edmodo, turned in on Edmodo, graded on Edmodo, AND their grade was viewed on Edmodo. And as an icing on the cake, “Mrs.Nelson is Back” was  assessed using the quiz I obtained from United Streaming and typed onto Testmoz.com.  The quiz was  taken online, graded online,and the  scores were given to the students instantly! I tell you, how much more “green” could I get? 

More and more, because I have access to these tech tools, I have been moving away from the use of paper in my classroom ,and it’s a good thing. My students have begun suggesting lessons where I don’t require the use of paper. Our reading and math program have online assessments where the students’  grades can be accessed online.  I have created an answer key for assessments though, it’s always good to have a hard copy and some parents do not have Internet access at home. Our state testing program is online as well. I’ve found that being “green” is not only good for the environment, but it’s good for my classroom as well!

Smartbored? Never!

I recall years, and I mean years, ago when I was introduced to the Smartboard.  I was excited because this was a board you could touch and make things move! Wow!  First, we had portable Smartboards that were shared by the staff.  I was one of the few who was willing to drag it  into my room,  Eventually, we were able to get mounted Smartboards, and our principal awarded them to us based on the content of a 100 word  essay. That Smartboard is still mounted on my wall,  still waiting for the projector to be mounted, but I digress.

However,   I had come to the point, where, I believe, I was using the Smartboard  as a giant projector.  The past few weeks I’ve spent my time learning about all the cool features that Notebook 10 software has to offer, and I’ve fallen in love with my IWB again. I’m taking a class where I am learning about features of the Notebook 10 software that I didn’t know existed. How is it possible to have something for so long, yet know so little about it?

 Our facilitator is great, and the ideas that are being shared are amazing!  I am now at the point where I am creating lessons, even though I still take advantage of SMART Exchange, I mean why reinvent the wheel?   One of my homework assignments was to create a list of “Top 10 Cool Tools that I had learned about in this class. What a productive use of my time, all the cool tools have already been applied in my classroom.  I have taught them to my students, who are my willing guinea pigs.:) Today, I left my colleague glued to his computer, after sharing the wonders of the IWB.

My favorite new tool is the Random Word Generator. I inserted my students’ name in the generator, press “Generate” and Voila, it selects a student to read, come up to the board, etc…. My kids watch the board as it flicks through their names, “Pick me, pick me”, they chant softly. And when it lands on a name, they all call out the person’s name. It makes me laugh every time. 🙂

I know there are those who believe this is just another” tech tool”, but it’s not the tool, it’s what you do with it. I know what I do, I engage my students, and involve them in the learning process every day, using my SMARTboard.

Edmodo- Gotta Love It!

I have to admit, I thought I had written a post  about Edmodo. Why wouldn’t I?  Ever since I discovered it, it has been a staple in my 5th grade class. However, I realized I didn’t, when I read another post, “Edmodo, yes”!   from the blog Technology Chatter.  How could I have forgotten to write about Edmodo, which  has made my life wonderfully easy.  How?   When I describe it to colleagues, I call it the “Facebook for Educators”, but it’s more than that.  I post assignments on Edmodo every day. Not just “read page 43 in your textbook” assignments either. I can post images, videos, questions, tests, worksheets, polls, have discussions online. Any work I have them “turn in” can be graded online, and their grades are posted privately. No paper! So, it’s environmentally friendly as well.  I have created groups for every subject.  It even has communities where teachers can connect, our own little PLN. And now, they have Edmodo for Parents, still unexplored territory for me.

But my favorite part of Edmodo is my Pen Pal group.  I joined the Language Arts community and asked if anyone was interested in being pen pals. Mrs.T  and I, not only have our classes write to each other, but we also formed a Pen Pal group on Edmodo.  Our classes have shared photos, movie clips, comments, birthday wishes, weekend happenings, weather updates, and our  latest, Voki conversations. I already had a Voki and Mrs.T was kind enough to email me instructions on how to post it. The first thing my kids do in the morning is check Edmodo to see if their pen pals wrote them, they are so excited! Recently Mrs.T sent pics of the beach, after I sent pics of the kids in the snow.:) It’s just a great way for them to communicate with students outside of their school, outside of their state! The students are writing and Mrs. T and I are sharing ideas. I know as the year progresses, I am sure we will discover more ways we can connect our classes.  In the meantime, I will continue to use Edmodo in my class, my own little piece of educator heaven.:)

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