Friday, December 26, 2008

Beverly Ingle on 21st century learning

Beverly Ingle, president of the Colorado Education Association has a video news conference out on YouTube talking about meeting the 21st century's challenges in our schools. In this video, she talks about the importance of preparing today's students for the challenges in the global marketplace. She mentions the importance of highly qualified teachers and mentions that quality teaching is the most important influence on student learning. Part of that quality teaching involves integrating technology in our classrooms and preparing our students to compete in the global economy. The skills that she mentions in preparing our students involve: analysis, critical thinking, evaluation, creative problem solving, and multiple communication skills. When questioned by a reporter on the challenges of teaching these skills to students she followed that all students have the ability to learn and added, more importantly in my opinion, that all teachers can also learn. I would add to that by saying that all teachers MUST learn to incorporate technology and critical thinking skills in their classrooms. I applaud Beverly Ingle in making this a priority. You can view her video here.

Friday, December 19, 2008

What's next?

Today's class discussion went really well. Not only did I have two other teachers in the room, but one teacher logged onto the live blogging from her room, and one student that was absent logged in from home and participated in the discussion online (which led to an interesting question and brief discussion about class participation). My next step is to really push to take this global, so I plan on giving more of a heads up to people, including those on Facebook, Twitter, etc. so that they can maybe better plan for the discussions. I would love to see not only educators and students involved, but anyone anywhere that might have something to say about the conversation. In the meantime, I'm really going to use their cell phones to my advantage: at the start of our next discussion, I'm going to have them take out their phones and text the question to at least one person that is not in the building then post the responses onto the live blog as a part of the discussion. I think that should be a lot of fun, and I'd bet I will get a really high level of participation with that! ;)

I was also pleased with how quickly the students adapted to having the live blog in the classroom, reading it and commenting on it, and even stopping the conversation when they wanted to address a point that had been made on the screen. They adapted really well and have made it a part of the classroom culture already, so I definitely think it's here to stay, at least for this class. I've also begun thinking of ways to collaborate within the building on this... live blogging represents some real possibility for cross-classroom and even cross-curricular conversations. A real plus is that it's really amazingly easy to use, and it doesn't require anything beyond a laptop and projector, so incorporating non-Global Learners will be a really easy thing to do. Let the walls continue to melt away! :)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Epistemology blog

So I've decided to make the big leap and I've created a separate blog for the epistemology class. My plan is to use (almost) every day, thus enabling others to join us when they can and want to. I'll likely pick different students, or get volunteers to do the typing throughout the discussion so I don't burn out any one particular student. If you're interested, here's the link to it... come and join us sometime. The discussions start at about 8:45 and run until 9:19 or so, and there will be a screen posted any time there will be a discussion.

Live blogging reminder

Just thought I'd remind people about our live blogging conversation that starts at 8:45. If you can, join us on my blog.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

One of the coolest days EVER

Today in my 2nd block class we discussed the goal of education. My 2nd block is an epistemology class of juniors and seniors, and we always have some pretty amazing conversations, but for this one, I wanted more people involved, especially some of my colleagues, so I sent out an invitation to the staff inviting anyone that had that period off to come in and join us; then Tonia gave me the fantastic idea of using as part of the class for those who couldn't be there... it was GREAT! I had a student doing the blogging as we talked, and I recorded the conversation for podcasting later as well (yeah, I was totally and completely geeking out). The only downside was that Blogger didn't post up the whole conversation, so the comments of those who participated didn't show up- they were on a sidebar that got cut off. Another very strange thing is that when you look at the page itself, the blog appears to be in Latin; now I'm working with some of the best and brightest in the school, for sure, but we're not exactly fluent in Latin... I'm not that good! Fortunately, once you click on it, it goes to English, so it's really not a problem... it's just odd.

At any rate, there is a transcript of the class discussion and a podcast (Dec. 17), so anyone can listen in that wants to. I'm actually thinking of making that a regular part of the class now. It was a way cool way to dissolve the classroom walls, and I want to do it again. Dave is going to let me use a projector tomorrow as well, so that way the students can not only see the question posted, but they will also be able to follow along with the live blogging discussion.

Actually, since we didn't get to finish our conversation, we plan to continue it tomorrow. I will happily post up the link to it here and anyone who wants to join us on Coveritlive is welcome to do so. The class conversation will run from 8:45 until 9:15 or so. Come join us!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Leadership Summit

The fourth grade Leadership Summit was on Friday, December 5th and it was a success.... mostly.
We had about 65 fourth graders answer the following questions via blog, Twitter and WizIq:
1.  What qualities do good leaders have?
2.  What problems exist that require good leadership?
3.  What obstacles stand in my way that prevent me from becoming a leader?
4.  What goals do I have to set to become a leader? Our Central Idea was:  Individuals impact society through their roles as leaders. 
We had 12 participants on the 90-minute WiziQ session, many from in district at the ESS building, a few classrooms and teachers in district and one fourth grade classroom in Beaufort, SC. We ended the day with about 220 comments on our blog. We had 2, count 'em 2 replies on Twitter. 

There were some technical issues on WizIq.  Nobody could use the whiteboard feature, participants who tried to connect with a mic and/or webcam ran into
problems.  I wrote to the WizIq help desk to ask about connection problems and the annotation feature and their reply was: 
"Regarding the connection, we generally recommend a connection with minimum bandwidth 512kbps for a good experience in a 2-way video session and around 256kbps for a 2-way audio session.. Each individual sees screens/ videos based on their bandwidth and only if they are active [speaking/ broadcasting/ writing] are others affected. 

The Annotation feature works if you transfer audio control [even in free version] to the participants."
I didn't have the audio control transfered, but it seemed to work fine on a couple of practice sessions we had before Friday.

I was passing the mic around to students, but it turned out that the audio was being picked up by the webcam, not the other external mic.  This is why people who joined us could hear me fine but not the students, I was standing right by the webcam, moving it from student to student.  

Twitter was a bust!  I'm a big fan of twitter but we updated around 98 times in 90 minutes and only got 2 replies!  I don't expect people to drop everything to reply and I know that mid morning isn't exactly high traffic time but 2??  I think I am trying to fit twitter in to a format where it doesn't fit.  I am wondering if I could set up a "chat room" type of space where kids sign on and discuss leadership in more of a live session.  As I looked at the tweets and even some of the blog comments, that is what kids were trying to do.  Any ideas of how I could do this?  Chatterous?  G Talk?  Skype?

I was pleased that all four fourth grade classes participated, but logistically it was tough to have that many people in one room.  They were in groups of about 10 and it was a little tough to have all students feel like they could just "act natural" and just interact in the WizIq session.  Last year I did this in groups of 7 and it was much easier.  I talked too much during the session, I would much rather have them lead the conversation.  Is this too much to expect from fourth graders?  We are going to try another "Summit" - type of activity in the spring around a different IB unit.  That will be a good opportunity to tweak some things. Students were unaware that there were any technical problems and were generally excited to share their knowledge with the world.

The conversation continues... My students are doing leadership actions such as helping students in other classes, reshelving books in the media center, a couple of students are planning on planting plants in our courtyard in the spring.  They are earning red "I am a Leader" bracelets for their efforts.  If you or your students would still like to comment on our blog, please do so.  I am also uploading pictures of the session on the sidebar of that blog.

(Thanks so much to those who attended: Joe, Kelly, Liz, Kate.  Thanks Dave for all your help in the days leading up to and during the Summit.)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Smartboard Lesson

I hope everyone is sitting down because you are NOT going to believe this!!!!!!!!!
Last year at this time I barely even knew what a smartboard was. This weekend I created 2 smartboard lessons of my own! The first one was on singular and possessive nouns. It was nothing special, but at least I figured out how to create a lesson. The second one though is quite fancy! OK--maybe not fancy but I am very proud. It is on money. Kate and Lisa, if you would like to use it, let me know. I am happy to share. My class thinks I am a real genious because I made my own. We won't tell them otherwise.....

Sunday, December 7, 2008

IB MYP 9th grade science students visited the freerice website this week to be reminded that we can make a difference in solving the world's hunger problem. My 90+ students each spent 15 minutes interacting with the programs on and had donated 289900 grains of rice which is enough rice to feed 14.5 people for a day. The top scores were: pd 2 - Sandi (4200), Kyle (4060), Stephanie (3960); pd 3 - Angel (6300), Gio (6000),Nick (5600); pd 4 Francisco (5200), David (4840), Augustina (4760); and pd 5 - Samantha (4920), Sydney (4440) and Juan (4200). Blog activity can be accessed here.

According to the website:

FreeRice is a sister site of Our partners are the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and the United Nations World Food Program.

FreeRice has two goals:

1. Provide education to everyone for free.
2. Help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free.

This is made possible by the generosity of the sponsors who advertise on this site.

Whether you are CEO of a large corporation or a street child in a poor country, improving your education can improve your life. It is a great investment in yourself.

Perhaps even greater is the investment your donated rice makes in hungry human beings, enabling them to function and be productive. Somewhere in the world, a person is eating rice that you helped provide. Thank you.

From wikipedia: this is a website where users play a various educational multiple-choice games in order to raise money to fight world hunger.

The games include chemistry (basic and intermediate), multiplication tables, English vocabulary (the game the site began with), English grammar, basic foreign language vocabulary for English speakers (French, German, Italian, and Spanish), geography (world capitals and country identification), and art.

Currently, for every question answered correctly, twenty grains of rice are donated to impoverished areas of the world. It is considered an extremely remarkable event, with many schools having classes use the site for extended periods of time.

Thanks for your time and attention. Thanks to Teri Dahn, librarian at ACHS, for showing me this site! This activity supports the IB MYP criterion "One World".

Friday, December 5, 2008

First Grade Research Project

What is the most challenging project you've ever completed with your students?

I think I found mine! Just before Thanksgiving students began learning about celebrations around the world. To begin the unit students completed a research project about a holiday. In pairs, students chose a holiday and asked three open-ended questions about their holiday. After they had their questions, students set out to find answers via a guided trip through the internet. After they found acceptable answers to their questions, pairs were ready to learn how to create a photostory. Our 4th grade blogging buddies volunteered to help the first graders find pictures and create their videos.

You can listen and view the videos on our Let's Celebrate page on our website. Students will soon have their meteorologist reports on our Weather page.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Kinder and First Grade Collaborative Reflection

Dorothy (Kinder at Rose Hill) and I (First Grade at Alsup) hosted our initial collaborative lesson.

Lesson Overview/Objective (Original) - Students will collaboratively create a pictograph with another class as an introduction to Data and Graphs. Small groups (11) from each class would complete a pictograph representing the number of letters in their names. Using Dabbleboard, students would write their name, then the other class would move the name to the correct vertical position on the pictograph. This continued alternately for 10 students to put their information on the collaborative whiteboard.

*ALL students were excited about being on camera.
*Students were initially engaged as they saw each other through the web camera.
*Students from both classes received an introduction to graphing.
*Students collaborated within their own classroom as well as through the web.

*Everyone wanted to have their 15 seconds of fame!
*Explaining to 5, 6, and 7 year olds about the internet delay.

Ideas for Improvement
*Use smaller groups (maybe eight from each class).
*Give students more opportunity to be on camera.

We're excited to try our next project and we're thinking about using Dabbleboard or Twiddla. Using the online whiteboards are a challenge for both of us, but we think they offer a great resource to capitalize on the abilities of our students.

smartboard math

I just started my favorite math unit to teach all year- money. 2nd graders need to understand and model use of coins up to $1.00. For one of my math centers I run Ms. Ibarra’s store where students identify the price for items and the coins they will need to buy them. I also run a coin behavior incentive system where the students earn (paper) coins for behavior throughout the day to put in their piggy banks. At the end of the month the students use their coins to buy real items at the store I set up the day before winter break.

I have been doing this with paper coins but I was wondering if there is a way I could incorporate technology into this process? Ideas? Maybe an Excel sheet where they enter and add their daily earned coins?

With my coin unit, I found a sweet counting song video on TeacherTube. However, when I play it half of the video is covered with a white square. I tried to download it and the file isn’t Windows Media supported so I couldn’t play it. Anyone else had this problem or know any solutions?


Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Regina and I had a great day! We worked on our collaborative project. I learned how to do Voicethread. It is really cool and I can't wait to start using it in my classroom. I am going to have my students write and solve a story problem, which we have been working on throughout the year. Regina's students will then comment on the problems. I think my students will enjoy this experience and love having high school students look at their work!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


We just paid for this service and I must say it is awesome!!! It is a wonderful way to collaborate with students as well as hold them accountable. There are peer review and web2.0 options.
Turnitin (also known as is an Internet-based plagiarism-detection service created by iParadigms, LLC. Institutions (typically universities and high schools) buy licenses to submit essays to the Turnitin website, which checks the document for plagiarism.
Students may be required by schools to submit essays to Turnitin, as a deterrent to plagiarism. This has been a source of criticism, with some students refusing to do so in the belief that requiring it constitutes a presumption of guilt. Additionally, critics have alleged that use of the software violates educational privacy and intellectual property laws.
Parent company iParadigms, LLC, also offers a similar plagiarism detection service for newspaper editors and book publishers called iThenticate, and run the informational website Other services marketed under the Turnitin brand are aimed at the educators' market, such as grade marking and peer review services.
Checkout the User Guide and ACHS website...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

First blog with my math students

I just had my math students blog for the first time this Tuesday. Part of this was to introduce themselves to Mr. Abshire's students, and part of this was to answer prompts tailored to their classes that I posted. You can find these at . I learned a good deal about what works and what to do better next time. I talked with Doug Abshire about this before and he clued me in to how to turn on and off comment moderation. I decided to leave it off and have students post as anonymous, but leave their first name and last initial in the post. I then turned comment moderation on after the class. Next time, I would give the students more direction and examples of excellent work. Some students did a great job of answering the question thoroughly, but I was not explicit with what I wanted and I therefore got many responses that were extremely short and relatively pointless. I read the posts that Mr. Abshire's students left and they were more what I was looking for. He told me later that he gave the students examples of what he was looking for. So, I learned the hard way that my students will give me just what I ask for, and if I want more I need to be very specific. I graded this initial post as by full credit for a post and no credit for not posting. Looking on the global learner blog, I notice that others have come up with a rubric for blog postings. I intend on being more specific and using a rubric next time.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Shocking Realization From our Book Blog Project

Students from my fourth grade reading class and third graders from Emily Taylor's class got a chance to "talk" about books using our book blogs. Students from the respective classes read books and posted reviews of them to our blogs. Then, they viewed each other's blogs and made comments about the reviews. At least is how it would have gone if I wouldn't have had "comments" blocked! :) You can see our lesson plans at .
But it was a great experience anyway. One thing that I found is that as a whole, Central's students seem to be getting less computer literate than they were two years ago. Since I have students from all four of Central's fourth grade rooms in my reading class, I was somewhat shocked at the amount of time I spent just going over computer basics before we could get to our project. I understand ( I guess) that we don't have the funding for computers as a special anymore, but it is sad to see the impact it is having on our students as "21st Century learners". I think one thing that could slow the computer lit. regression for our students would be to get laptops for all teachers. That way, teachers could consistently be using projectors to model computer use. I have also made it one of my personal/professional goals to consistenly and intentionally use technology with students I have from other classes. In that way, I am hoping to fuel the technology flame from classroom to classroom. I think it is easier and less scary to try new tech when your students have been exposed to it. I know when I was trying to figure out the SmartBoard last year it was extremely helpful that my students already knew more than I did about it from using it once a week with our Math and Technology specialist (Andrew Palmer). When I got stuck the kids would just tell me what to do! :)
Please visit our book blog at .

Thursday, November 27, 2008

"" to download streaming videos

Hi all Here is a neat tool to download streaming videos that might not normally be downloadable (unless using camtasia or other screen capture programs). Instead of embedding a link to a video etc, try this. Its free and works well. Doug

Here is a video showing you how easy it is to use...

And a blog post with more info...

Also worth checking out is real player 11 which can download videos too. Click here for more info.

PS the blog referenced above is worth

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"initial reflection on a collaboration project"

Hi all. Christine Mac (ACHS math) and I (ACHS science) have decided to create a collaborative blog between students in her 11/12th math grade classes and my higher math ability 9th grade science students. Today 60+ of her students wrote a short introductory statement while 10 of mine did also.

Our goals will to be:

1. create an electronic dialogue where students of similar math abilities may help each other explore math applications in real life.
2. pair up students from both classes to assist in solving homework / content type problems.
3. allow the teachers to gain skill and experience in other web 2.0 tools applicable to this project such as voicethread, wizIQ, video podcasting etc.

Although we just started this, we are excited about the opportunity to work together and to engage our students with collaborative interactions. The blog is / will be located at and we encourage you to check back every few weeks as it develops and as we gain experience in utilizing this approach between our classes.

On behalf of Christine and myself, thanks for your time and attention.

Doug Abshire

SmartBoard Vocab Lesson

I want to show you a great activity that I found that uses the SmartBoard and Wordle to teach and reinforce word meanings. I found it on "Teachers Love SmartBoards", a blog that highlights resources and games that you can use in your classroom. I think this game addresses several of the "Cornerstones of Good Vocabulary Instruction" from this post. The video shows how to create it for yourself. Links to the SIOP lesson, the Notebook file and a worksheet to go with the game are on the Global Learners Wiki. We played it at literacy night and it was a big hit.

Technological Lesson Plan - November - Flash-Driven Gallery Walks

Hi all,

Hope everyone is getting ready to enjoy their break.

It's interesting; incorporating technology into the classroom has become such an integral part of my planning over the past year. I often find myself experimenting with older and proven methods by adding a technological "tweak" to my thinking.

To get my students to move, I have created a series of "Flash-Driven Gallery Walks." I break the students into smaller groups (around 5) and I assign them a specific topic as governed by the district standards. I'll use 7th Grade Language Arts:

(3.f) Use complex punctuation (e.g., commas, colons, semicolons, quotation marks, hyphens, end marks) with greater precision

I make sure that each group has a computer and will then assign the group a specific advanced punctuation mark with a few basic guidelines as to what they should include (exemplars, definitions, clarification, different uses). The groups have time to use the internet and their books for research and find examples as to how exactly their specified mark is used. They create a quick PowerPoint Presentation on their assigned punctuation mark. Once they are finished, we begin a group rotation from computer to computer. Each group has several minutes to watch each presentation and then move on to the next. They take a "scavenger sheet" and fill out the information as they go. I look over the sheets and ask each student to provide their own examples of each mark. I collect these and check for comprehension.

I have frequently let students who are already proficient in the assignment stay on their computer and lead the presentations themselves as the rest of the class rotates. Great opportunity for student-to-student teaching opps.

This is a versatile plan that could be incorporated and adjusted to suit your needs.

I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving; get lots of rest and enjoy your loved ones.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Virtual Sub Plans

Because of things going on in my family, I had to leave for home at the last minute and didn't know when I'd have time to complete sub plans. So I left the sub a brief note and the site of my blog, telling her to have the kids go to the blog for further instructions. I was then able to update my plans and clearly think them out once I had arrived safely back in Michigan. Because we are all so interconnected through Web 2.0, I realize that my classroom can come with me, even to Michigan. Just because I am not physically in my classroom with my students, does not mean I cannot still alter lesson plans and make adjustments as needed.

So my students will go to my blog today and tomorrow, where I have posted the lesson plans, instructions, slides to view, and reminders. My students also know that they can get in touch with me through our email accounts. This gives me confidence while I'm away that the lessons are still being carried out. The students have been empowered because I have given the lesson plans to THEM, and not just the substitute teacher. I hope this will help students to take more ownership for the work they create. Check out my blog if you are curious about what they are doing. Thanks!

Sunday, November 23, 2008


I was just going to post this on my blog I share with my mentor, but I thought everyone might benefit from what I learned as well.

About a month ago, Wesley and I tried to have a web conference with our students using WIZIQ. Being the (non)technology expert that I am, it wouldn't surprise you that we weren't completely successful. Surprisingly, our students were very a patient and captured audience. Wesley and I wanted to give it another shot and have been planning at another go. Wesley wrote about our attempt in our shared blog and our technology gurus came to the rescue.

Last Wednesday Dave Tarwater joined Wesley and I after school to fine tune our WIZIQ skills with a couple practice sessions. Here are some things that I learned that I thought might be helpful for you as well.

When webconferencing on WIZIQ:
*use Internet Explorer instead of Mozilla Firefox
*close all other applications to ensure best quality picture and speed
*connect your webcam before starting your session
*make sure to have searched for and installed all webcam updates before your session
*you can embed YouTube videos into your conference!!! (only YouTube)
*WIZIQ records your webconference session (audio and visual) and stores it for you to watch and/or use again (for up to 3 months I believe)
*and lastly, don't leave your soda in front of the projector fan! It gets warm and yucky :(

Wesley and I will be giving our webconferencing another shot the first week of December and I'm sure it will work magnificent this time! Thanks Dave!

Playing Catch up

On this past Monday, we had a teacher work day and I offered to help a colleague set up their smartboard, projector, and laptop. I had been going on and on about how sweet it was and how use full it will be. I helped them get it working and showed some ways I used the smartboard and I was told that they do not see using this very often and that they give it a C. How do you encourage those who are not easily interested in technology that it is worth it?

Smartboard Galleries

The other day I was trying to explain why you cannot combine (through addition and subtraction) terms in an algebraic expression with different variables or different exponents. My students were just not getting it, and I was faced with the frustration that only math can foster in students' attitudes. I then remembered that there were some algebra tiles in the smartboard gallery. I popped those on the screen so that the equation was not just numbers and letters, but tiles of different colors and sizes. The students could then clearly see that x squared can't go with x, they are different. Thank the lord for smartboard!

"read to feed" a student initiated solution to poverty

Over the past few weeks, my 9th grade science students have raised their awareness on the global issue of poverty. This has been an ongoing activity to support the IB MYP criterion "One World" which will ultimately lead to 9/10 science
  • to describe ways in which science is applied and used
  • to evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of the application of science
  • to discuss the ethical and moral issues arising from the application of science
  • to discuss how the study and practice of science is subject to cultural influences
  • to understand how the various science disciplines interact and how science in general relates to other disciplines
  • to treat science as a cooperative activity
With thanks to Teri Dahn, librarian at ACHS, we have been invited to join AVID classes to participate in the "Read to Feed" program. Teri has been the "anchor" for this program over the past few years and has been instrumental in its success! I am excited to join her in this endeavor.

The "read to feed" program supports the program by having students read selected books and obtain sponsorship of (at a minimum) a penny a page read. The money collected will go to the heifer international organization which will purchase livestock and/or plants to create a sustainable economy at the family / village economic level.



"The"Heifer International is a nonprofit charitable organization based in Little Rock, Arkansas, dedicated to relieving global hunger and poverty. It provides gifts of livestock and plants, as well as education in sustainable agriculture, to financially-disadvantaged families around the world.

Today the organization gives gifts of cattle, sheep, rabbits, guinea pigs, honeybees, pigs, llamas, water buffalo, camels, alpacas, yaks, horses, chicks, ducks, goats, geese, fish, other regionally
appropriate livestock, as well as tree seedlings. As of 2006, these animals and plants have been distributed in more than 125 countries around the globe. Each gift perpetuates Heifer's interest in agroecology and sustainability.

Heifer International is mainly funded by alternative giving: Donors may purchase "shares" of a gift or pay for an entire animal. Heifer International's listed price includes the purchase price of the animal itself, as well as the cost of its veterinary care and transport to the village. The recipient family's training in animal husbandry, sustainable agriculture techniques and business practices are also rolled into the listed price.

Today, rather than shipping animals overseas, the organization purchases them in the country they are destined for. This puts money into the local economy, reduces transportation costs and promotes better health for the animals because they are already accustomed to the local climate, food and diseases.

Heifer International works to ensure that the gift of each animal will eventually help an entire community to become self-sustaining. Animals such as goats, water buffalo and camels are "seven M" animals: they provide meat, milk, muscle, manure, money, materials and motivation. Once its immediate needs have been met, a family is free to sell any excess at market. Heifer International provides a breeding animal along with the gift animal so that it can produce offspring. Participating families are required to "pass on the gift", that is: they must give at least one of the female offspring to a neighbor who has undergone Heifer's training. In time, that neighbor will pass along one of the offspring of its animal, and so on."


On behalf of my students, I am soliciting your support in the "read to feed" program. If you are interested in sponsoring one (or more) of my students for a minimum of a penny a page read, please email me at for details.

Thank you for your time and attention to this urgent matter.

Happy Thanksgiving!

(and remember that there are more than a billion people who will be without…)


PS Previous student blog activity can be viewed here


Diigo Educator Accounts

In our training, we discussed social bookmarking sites. Some of us have Delicious accounts and some have Diigo accounts. (I have a Diigo account.) Diigo has just announced educator accounts. From the announcement below, it looks like they have payed special attention to creating a platform for class and student Diigo accounts.
Diigo educator accounts

Friday, November 21, 2008

Student blogging

Everytime I think that technology may be too far advanced for young elementary students I find something contradictory.

What great things students can do when we give them the resources!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Room24 Leadership Summit

Global Learners, we have been learning all about leadership in Room24 at Alsup in the fourth grade! Now it is time for our second annual Leadership Summit on December 5th from 10:00 to 11:30.

The Leadership Summit is a chance for fourth graders to reflect on what it means to be a leader. They will be reflecting on these four questions:
  1. What qualities to leaders have?
  2. What problems exist in my school or community that could be solved if I were a leader?
  3. What obstacles stand in my way that prevent me from being a leader?
  4. What goals can I set for myself to get past these obstacles?
We need your involvement! Here's how:
We will present the answers to these questions on December 5th in three ways. First, we will publish them on the room24 blog. The questions will be posted and students will be commenting. You can comment too. Second, we will Tweet them (follow room24). What is Twitter? It is a way for students to respond online through 140 character "micro-blogs". We will also invite anyone to join us in a live conversation via WiziQ where participants can address these questions themselves, thinking about themselves when they were young, giving advice to Room24 or sharing a story of a great student leader. Sign up for this free session here.

We look forward to sharing all that we have learned. --Jeff

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More time?!?!

This title would seem to be quite appropriate once you all realize this is one of the first posts of the year. I cannot believe that it is November already! It feels like we were just sitting in summer training with all of our wonderful plans and ideas we were going to implement in our classrooms. We were eager, excited and full of energy.

Now, I still have many great ideas- but all of them are quickly followed by "When??" When will I be able to take time out of my already paced curriculum to create and use these technology projects?

YES, I understand that technology is supplementary to the learning in the classroom, but what if we could make it more of the core? What if I could create more engaging, constructivist-based learning using more technology and less mandated curriculum? Would that be less appropriate for my students? Would I spend my eternity in an extremely warm location?

... I suppose I will soon find out.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I am currently working on my Masters through an entirely online program. My current course is Integrating Technology in the Classroom. It has provided some great crossover for me and I have talked about Global Learners and trainings and discussions many times. Now it’s time to share with you some of what my class has been discussing. We began by looking at a recent set of articles about Classroom 2.0 where leaders weigh in on opposite sides of the issue. The blog is on the Encyclopedia Britannica Blog. Among the points raised by classmates were teaching students to search for reliable sources online and notice bias on the internet, access to the internet by our students’ families, teacher webpages, and technology for the sake of technology. The biggest discussion centered around teachers learning, embracing, or resisting Classroom 2.0. Obviously this is a topic dear to our hearts. Many people agreed that teachers need time to play with technology and be trained and supported in that technology before it can be expected for them to infuse it in their teaching. We found that younger teachers are often quick to embrace and learn new technology because it mirrors their outside lives. Of course, we know that more experienced teachers, given time and opportunity can also become Classroom 2.0 leaders, but there are many who are quite reluctant. It has been helpful to see a group of educators from a diverse set of populations struggle with the same difficulties we have discussed here in Commerce City.

Podcast on Google Site

Hey all,

Most of you likely know this, but I was trying to figure out a way to get a podcast on my Google Site. The easiest way I've found is just to convert it into an MP3 and attach the file at the bottom of the page you want the MP3 to appear on.

Any different ways?

Effective Vocabulary Instruction

Greetings Global Learners!

I've had the opportunity to serve dual roles as a global learner and a STAR teacher. One of the focuses (besides, of course, technology) is vocabulary instruction and building background. I've used the SmartBOARD now consistently for giving my first time vocabulary instruction a "kick," and since this is one of the focuses of the recently implemented district strategies plan, I figured I would attempt to serve as a liaison between the two programs and talk a little bit about what I do.

We had Jane E. Nelson-MacColl present on the "Cornerstones of Good Vocabulary Instruction." Here are a few tips that she shares...
  • Vocabulary instruction MUST be intentional and systematic
  • Choose vocabulary words thoughtfully
  • Teach students a process for learning new words
  • Provide students with a system of keeping track of the words they've learned
  • Collect evidence to indicate what students have learned
  • Model higher-level vocabulary on a daily basis

From a technological standpoint...generally, I deal with about ten formal vocabulary words a week. A break these into several five minute mini-lessons throughout the week and create PowerPoint presentations that start with the word itself, usually in WORD ART format. I then show a series of pictures or videos without the definition. Each new picture reinforces the older one and allows students to place in context to figure out what they mean. I then give them a few formal definitions and we lead discussion, build examples, etc.

What vocabulary ideas do you have and use? How do you incorporate technology into the mix?

I'm interested in hearing your thoughts and sharing them with STAR teachers.

UPDATE - Kidspiration Math Project

First grade students are amazing! At least 15 students successfully completed the previously discussed KidSpiration Project. (They were donut makers and had to make enough donuts to feed their customers. Then they rolled two number cubes to find out how many actual customers they had. Finally, using subtraction students figured out how many donuts they had for the next day!)

Positives: student collaboration, critical thinking, motor skills, and a mountain of other skills applied by students.

Challenge(not a lot): The template boxes changed or moved, saving to a central drive (working with tech. services on this.)

The positives far out weigh the negatives. It was a great experience for everyone and we'll be coming up with more!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Global Education Collaborative

Hi, everyone. Just found out about a site that might be worth getting involved in: the Global Education Collaborative. I signed up for it just a few minutes ago, so I haven't really scoped it out yet, but it seems right up our collective alley. The sign up is free, and the district filters don't block it out, so that's a plus. I think it definitely holds some real potential for us! :-)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

No offense Regina...but I really like going to Roller Doll matches to watch the textthemob screen. Its great! The premise is the the audience can text messages that appear on a huge screen in the arena. Most nights some unsuspecting dude stands in front of the screen while people send messages about him.

I walked into first block on Monday -- 7:15 AM.
"Everyone take out your cell phones or go sit by someone who has one"

Odd glances went across the room as they TIMIDLY pulled out their devices that were previously banned!

"Tell me what you know about the Design Cycle"

I had them post their thoughts by texting them to the specified address.

It was a great success! I had students who are typically quiet respond to the question. While I only had three responses. They really enjoyed it!

I can see that if they had a couple of more times to practice more people would have been more successful, they would have been quicker and I believe they would start responding to one another!

They were really engaged .... I can see this as a great opportunity for secondary teachers!

Why is education important?


A recent assignment in my 9th grade science class is as follows:

In terms of our ongoing dialogue about poverty and as part of the "through" for today, your assignment is to complete an 11 sentence paragraph 'template" and then write out the 11 sentence paragraph and publish it as a comment to this post.

Consider this quote to guide you:

"Think about it: Every educated person is not rich, but almost every education person has a job and a way out of poverty. So education is a fundamental solution to poverty.
-- Governor Kathleen Blanco "

Your prompt is "Why is education important?

Below are some excerpts from the students comments. The complete post / comment section can found here. Some are a bit rough in terms of literacy but all are heart-felt.

Sometimes we (I) don't think that our students are aware of or appreciative of their educational opportunities.

But they do & are!

Thanks, Doug


Education is important because it's the best long- term solution to poverty.

Without an education the whole world would be in trouble and have a hard life. Education is what keeps the world going because we use our knowledge and education.

When kids are not attending school the are not getting there education correctly.In some places kids dont get the chance at an education or even to attend school

Sometimes people focus more on educating the boys that the girls.

Education is consideed a vaccine for hiv/aids. If people don't know what these deseases are they can't avoid it.

Education i important because if you dont have an education you wont get anywhare in life. You wont have a good job and you will have no money

If every single person in the world had an education we woulden't have to worry about world huinger. Education is also the key to world hunger because with education we can use it and camoe up with a solution.

With education we can make a difference in this world.

Education is important because it help you get a career that will pay you enough to support a family…

I think the education is important, because some people or girls don't get a chance to go to school. About 113 million kids can't go to school…

…education is good so that you can teach others your knowledge. It is good for others to know so that we keep it going

Education is important because kids are the future and they need to be educated…

Education is also important because it helps get rid of the boundary of boys vs girls. Both genders are the futures of the world, but without education, especailly to girls, it'll make one gender look weaker to the other, when they're nearly the same…

Education is important because its the best way to earn money, get into college, and get a good job. If you have a really good education you can get good money

Families that are deep in poverty often find it difficult to send their children to school.

Education is very important all around the world because it can give you three things that everyone wants,respect, knowlege,and a life with no darfur in it

education is important because it can take you further not only persmnal but wisely, the more you educate your self the better person you'll be and by that you can help others arround you too

Education also helps people get equal rights.

Why is education important? Education is key to economic advancement. Having the basic skill of literacy contributes to helping reduce poverty

Education is important because it helps kids get through life when they are older.

Education is important because it helps you be aware of what happens in daily life

Education is important because you can learn necessities, improve literacy, and even improve health. Education helps one learn

Education improves health. By going to school one recieves nutrients otherwise not obtained.

If the majority of the world is educated then there will be more minds working together to solve problems on Earth

every year a kid goes to school it increases their salery by 10 percent. indeed education is very important to every person.

Education is important a lot everywhere because it helps you learn, survive and teaches you to survive.

Not to mention, more of our youth needs health to have knowledge. Education is important because it helps get you through life and also to make it easier.

Knowledge is power! The more you know about diseases, the more likely you are of preventing them. Getting an education will benefit you into being healthy and not making bad choices.

People who are adapt to their enviroment know what is wrong and what they can do, so if they are educated, they can help.

Education is important because we can all better our health and other features that can aid us in becoming all that we can be.

The UN says that every one in the world has the right to an education. Over 1 billion adults in developing countries lack the basic skill of literacy. Education is important because it could help create more jobs and improve the economy in a developing country.

Education is so important because you could communicate with the world by reading and you could be someone on the world or even change the world.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Game On Man!!!

I think it is vital to be well informed about the technology the students are using. I have compiled a list of the most popular and best games for most console systems. You would be amazed at the level of student engagement when you begin to drop those critical references and show your mastery of gaming technology. Let the games begin!
Atari 2600
Las Vegas Poker & Blackjack

Halo 2
Grand Theft Auto Double Pack

Xbox 360
Gears of War
Assassin's Creed
Madden NFL 07
Ninja Gaiden II
Nintendo Entertainment System
Nintendo Entertainment System
Super Mario Bros.
The Legend of Zelda
Metal Gear

Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Super Mario Kart
Street Fighter II
Nintendo 64
GoldenEye 007
Star Fox 64
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater
WWF WrestleMania 2000
Nintendo GameCube
Metroid Prime
Pokémon Colosseum
Resident Evil 4
Soulcalibur II
Star Fox Adventures
Mario Party 6

Wii Fit
Wii Bowling
Wii Tennis
Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock
Game Party

Game Boy Advance
Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories
Frogger's Adventures: Temple of the Frog
Finding Nemo
Sonic Advance
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Nintendo DS
Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day!
Mario Kart DS
English Training: Have Fun Improving Your Skills!
High School Musical: Makin' the Cut!
Sega Dreamcast
Crazy Taxi
Gran Turismo
Tomb Raider II
Metal Gear Solid
Crash Team Racing

PlayStation 2
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Ratchet & Clank
God of War
Tony Hawk Underground
Resident Evil 4
Mortal Kombat
Guitar Hero
The Sims
Dance Dance Revolution Extreme

PlayStation 3
Resistance: Fall of Man
NHL ‘09
Bio Shock
Gran Turismo 5 Prologue
Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
Heavenly Sword

The Sims
World of Warcraft
Doom 3
EverQuest I,II
Battlefield 1942
Civilization III
Railroad Tycoon II

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Great Educational Technology Website

As the school year has gone on, I've found, once again, the hardest thing for me has become finding the time to plan for and successfully integrate Educational Technology into the curriculum. I have found a website, Education World that has many of the same kinds of ideas I had in mind already started for me. Much of the planning and organizing part of each lesson can be found here, and it can be changed however I need it to fit. It's been a great tool for my 5th graders in finding WebQuests, Templates, Educational Websites, Worksheets to print, etc. As an example, I am planning on using this Thanksgiving WebQuest as a Writing Center. There are many other great activities much like this one.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Collaborative Book Reviews

Fourth graders at Central and third graders at Alsup created book reviews, posted them on blogs and read book reviews written by other students. They left comments for each other, read comments left to them, and left comments to respond to those left for them.

This was my first collaborative Global Learners project with Kathy Hughes who teaches fourth grade at Central. We kept it relatively simple for our first project. We decided to focus on reading and student blogging.

My students were really excited about blogging! They loved using the laptops, reading book reviews, reading comments, and leaving comments for each other. They also learned a lot about blog etiquette. Students wrote interesting, thoughtful comments to each other and responded well to comments left for them. It was a good project to start with, not being too complex, and incorporating reading and writing skills. It took longer than we planned and because the third graders were not able to leave comments for the fourth graders until the blog was adjusted and it took students a long time when using the computers for the first time for a project like this.

Throughout the rest of this school year students will be completing more book reviews to be posted online. The classes can continue to read each other’s book reviews and leave each other comments. Please visit our blogs and leave us comments, or visit with your students! We'd love to get more comments about our book reviews!

Alsup Third Grade Book Groups
Central Elementary Book Reviews
Lesson Plan

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Comments Needed!

Hello All,

Please check out my blog and comment on the post about diversity, our nation, and the elections. We need as many points of view and perspectives as possible in order to facilitate a meaningful discussion for our unit. The post is titled "United We Stand..." Thanks!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Kidspiration and Word Problems

Addition and Subtraction are the main math GLET's for first grade from September through November. I have regrouped my math students with another teacher from my grade-level. She has experience with touch-math and has agreed to take students who need more assistance. I have the kids who "get" math and need further practice in mathematical fluency, word problems, and place value.

I struggled in the beginning of our regrouping with what to teach these students so that they would not become bored. Here is a project we're working on:

I have made a kidspiration template which allows students to create their own word problems. The file begins with students creating enough muffins for the day (15). Then they roll two number cubes to find their customers. Finally, they figure out how many muffins they have left over. They work through green, yellow and red boxes to fill in the missing word problem pieces. Ultimately, they will work on changing every aspect of their "real life" word problem!

I have spoken with tech services to get permission (and a file) to upload my template to a server so my students can access it on all computers. As soon as we work through the projects, I will post the results. We had a technical glitch last week, so this week I'm hoping students can complete at least one problem in groups of two! Sorry about the picture (The green box doesn't show and yellow is the mustard color). I'm happy to forward the template to anyone interested.

Xtranormal Storytelling

Just found Xtranormal on Twitter (from @NikPeachey) and made this movie in about 30 minutes with their "text to movie" feature. The movies are very simple to make which is good for younger students, but don't have a ton of options like Photostory. Xtranormal reminds me of a more complex voki and it is free, for now. It could be an interesting way to put instructions for students on a website or wiki. I tried it on my class wiki here.

By the way, Twitter is so great for finding these kinds of tools. I am following about 90 people on my personal account, mostly educators, so there are lots opportunities to hear what people are doing in their classrooms. And, since twitter is only 140 characters, people are much more likely to share ideas they might not otherwise blog about. I think I get more ideas from Twitter than just about any other resource.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Confessions of a Digital Film-Maker

cross posted at~

I have been making films with my students for over three years. Last year, six films were submitted to the film fest (check them out on my class website). I've developed a process to use with the students that connects making films with the writing process and draws on their love of film and their background knowledge. I have the students learn how to use Photo Story 3 for windows and Windows Movie Maker. We use the Smart board to make a film with each of the programs before students are given the freedom to plan and make their own films.

Some confessions:
1. I enjoy making films as much as my students do (or more)
2. Film making is easy for students to learn how to do (even third graders)
3. I always have students make a plan for their film first (they don't like that part very much)
4. I'd like to focus more on digital storytelling (versus film making)
5. I'd like to know how other teachers are using digital film making and storytelling with their students (I need more ideas)
6. Sometimes I have technical difficulties (like taping over parts of a student's film before it has been downloaded...oops!)
7. I haven't started making films with my students yet this year (so there is a small tear in my heart slowly growing larger)

How have you used digital film making with your students? Who is making films for the film fest this year? I'd love to hear your ideas!

Monday, October 27, 2008

What I'm up to

Well, it's been a while since my first post. I'm one of the ones Joe keeps targeting in his email about keeping up with blog posts once a month. During the last skype conversation, I mentioned how rough my year has been going. Between classroom management and learning a new reading curriculum, there has been no time for anything else. But I have been able to use the Smartboard several times a day, so I'm finally blogging about it.
I admit that sometimes I use the Smartboard as a glorified overhead. But, as Sara mentioned, I also use some of the activities in Notebook. Notebook 10 has a folder called Lesson Activity Toolkit 1.0. (I think it is also downloadable from the website.) In it there are some great activities and tools (go figure.) The interactivity is already set up, we, as teachers, just have to "edit" and put in our words or sentences or pictures or customize it to our content. Lots of potential. Too often, however, I think of great ideas or lessons to put together and simply don't have time to create them. I would love to have some time off just dedicated to creating Smartboard lessons that relate directly to our math and reading programs. (Maybe if the teaching thing doesn't work out...)
Collaborating with Sara has been great and I do hope we establish an online place to share actitivities and lessons we have created as well as the reading fluency exemplars and other exemplars we have digitally documented (as we discussed in the last skype conversation.)
One of the few other tools that I regularly use is Diigo. In searching for Smartboard lessons, I have collected many sites about Web 2.0 and Smartboards as well as looked at the lists of other Diigo users.

ESL Podcasting

I have decided to use podcasting in a new way in my classroom. I've been struggling with how to get students to explain their ideas in writing. They are good as using verbal cues to 'say' what they mean, but it doesn't seem to translate in their writing. So I will be using podcasting to help me. Students will first respond to a prompt (the kind they see on tests) in writing. Then they will explain what they mean in words, on a podcast. Then they will compare the two and decide where their written answer lacks sufficient evidence compared to their verbal answer.

Has anyone tried this with writing and responding to literature? Any tips or suggestions? I'll let you know how it goes!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Glets and the Smartboard

I continue to constantly look for ways to incorporate the Glets and the Smartboard.
My students love the Smartboard and never get bored of it. Thanks to Lisa Kellogg,
I am now using new activities with my class AND they follow the GLETS! One activity that I use is called Vortex. I used it this week when I taught proper nouns. The students loved it, and learned what a proper noun was! Another activity I do is very similar to Hangman. I use this with our High Frequency Words. Students are responsible for recognizing and spelling these HFW. This is a great activity because it really helps with spelling. I have students stop and pair/share each time we get a letter. Students are working together to recognize the HFW and spell it.
Both of these activities are fun and hit a GLET. Thanks Lisa!

Google Docs are, well.... great!

I was wondering what the big deal was about Google docs so I decided to check it out on You Tube. I found a great video aimed at educators and decided to try it out with my reading groups as a guided lesson for writing book reviews for our blog. I checked out some laptops and then sat down with my group to write our first blog entries. I was able to do some of the typing, which really sped things up, but yet the students were able to add the most important details and thus feel ownership in the project. They were so excited to see their first post on the blog... and so was I.
One thing I would change is to have the students have another window open so that when it is not their turn to type (or if they are not helping someone type) they will not have too much down time. This could be a little tricky, as I don't want it to interfere with the discussions and collaboration, but I'm thinking something that is easy to start and stop would work just fine.
If you haven't already tried it, I would recommend giving google docs a try!

Digital Storytelling in Fourth Grade

Our "Planet Film Fest" was on Friday. Dave and Emily were there in addition to 8 of my students' family members, my principal and learning coordinator. I posted plans and resources that I used to help my students through the process of creating Powerpoints and Photostories on the Global Learner wiki.

This is the second year that I have taught this unit and used digital storytelling as the culminating project. Some thoughts:
  • Last year I had movies, using Moviemaker, as a choice and I found it to be too hard for me to manage so I just didn't make it an option this year. Any suggestions for integrating Moviemaker? It is so difficult to manage multiple groups using two (or more) different pieces of software.
  • I found last year's movies to be a little "thin" on information so I really tried to organize myself better to make expectations clearer. This group's is better, but there are some groups that clearly worked harder than others.
  • I would still like to make the process more streamlined so that projects could be completed quicker. They took about 3 weeks to finish, which seems too long to me. Is it possible for them to do this faster, and still produce quality products? Do I move on to my next unit earlier and do the filmmaking process at a different time in my day, like writing?
  • This is the first time I did a Film Fest and invited teachers and parents. I really enjoyed it and I think that it really put students on the spot (in a good way). They focused better and seemed very proud of the work they had done. Next time, I would like students to run the entire Film Fest on their own, but this time around I didn't feel like I had enough time to prepare them, and this group of students requires more "coaching" (shall we say...) to stay on task.
You can see the final projects here on our class blog. Students would be thrilled to hear your feedback.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

So, how is the student blogging thing going?...

Today I was asked this by a fellow teacher and my quick response was “OK. Up and down. Good start I think…”

So how is it going? Well as my students learn so do I.

Here are a few thoughts of what is working for me now and perhaps for the future. Some of this is obvious but perhaps some is not.

Post to a blog and then have students comment to the post. This self-organizes the blog and I think keeps it less cluttered. Also allows for students to compare comments when they are placed below each other and is a separate list from all the posts.

With 9th graders, keep comment moderation ALWAYS on except when using library time to blog . This cuts down on the inappropriate comments and language creeping in at all times. However, having comment moderation off during blogging time allows students the opportunity to “see” their post for immediate reinforcement. When done, review all posts, delete the inappropriate posts and then turn comment moderation back on.

With upper level students, assigning a prompt with a writing structure (ex 11 sentence paragraph) generates a higher quality / more thoughtful response. I’l be using the 11 sentence paragraph with the 9th graders soon but it will probably require two sessions for each blog assignment, one for the writing and one for the blog (write-rewrite).

I believe that beginning 9th grade bloggers should be encouraged to post thoughts or comments without being constrained by punctuation, spelling, grammar etc. However, I also recognize the power of blogging as a literacy tool and will be focusing on student created literate blog posts / comments as we move through this year. A blogging rubric will be implemented with the 9th graders soon.

Blogger requires a google account such as gmail and doesn’t recognize our or email accounts. With 9th graders this is a problem (ie hard to remember more than one email user account /password) so commenting anonymously but signing it with first name and initial is a good work-around.

Cutting and pasting from word to blogger often creates html errors. However, cutting and pasting to gmail and then re-cutting and pasting to blogger appears to take care of formatting errors etc.

Follow up with your comment(s) to their comments and then follow up in class so the blog becomes a tie-in to other classroom activities. This creates a “flow” and allows the blog to be more than an activity used from time to time.

Cultivate other readers and (hopefully) posters. Having a wider audience than classmates reinforces the idea that their world view should be larger than C-town.

So, how is it going?

OK, I guess. Still learning. Doug

Monday, October 20, 2008

Planet Film Fest

As a culminating project for an IB unit on the Solar System, my students created a Photostory (and one PowerPoint) about a planet. We are just finishing publishing to our class blog and are holding a "Planet Film Fest" on Friday. I realize you all are working (duh), but I invite you and your students to take a look at the videos and comment. I feel the need to do a better job of connecting family members into this process, since most of my students don't have computers at home, so I am sending home invitations today (screenshot is on the right). I am hoping I get a good showing of parents, grandparents etc. on Friday. I am also planning on creating DVDs for students to take home (any suggestions on the best way to do that?) In a future post, I will reflect a little and post some resources I used to facilitate the process.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Nifty Resource

My son's friend told me about ReadWriteThink from NCTE that is full of nifty resources, including things like interactive Venn Diagrams. Since my students are getting ready to write a compare/contrast essay, things like this will be awesome and super great to use on a SmartBoard. Since it's from NCTE, it's English/Language Arts oriented, but there are still some tools that anyone can use, like the aforementioned Venn Diagram, and a Compare/Contrast Guide and Map, etc. Enjoy!

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Roof -- The Roof -- The Roof is on FIRE

I just posted a blog entry about some of the tools I want to use to develop collaboration while designing the S&T academy at ACHS

Better living through micropharmacology

FYI: I am 63.23% nerd

Not a geek, not a dork, but nerd! I have taken a test and am certifiable. This is why I enjoy science and am slowly gearing up for my term 2 Science Fiction class, oh yeah, I know you are jealous...

Check out this sweet article on how humans and technology are evolving, who knows we may even become cyborgs in the future, how tragically cool!!

Friday, October 17, 2008
Computing with RNA
Devices that self-assemble from biological molecules could represent the future of drug delivery.
By Duncan Graham-Rowe

"Scientists in California have created molecular computers that are able to self-assemble out of strips of RNA within living cells. Eventually, such computers could be programmed to manipulate biological functions within the cell, executing different tasks under different conditions.
That opens up the possibility of computing devices that can respond to specific conditions within the cell, he says. For example, it may be possible to develop drug delivery systems that target cancer cells from within by sensing genes used to regulate cell growth and death.
The input sensors are made from aptamers, RNA molecules that behave a bit like antibodies, binding tightly to specific targets. Similarly, the output components, or actuators, are made of ribozymes, complex RNA molecules that have catalytic properties similar to those of enzymes. These two components are joined by yet another RNA molecule that serves as a transmitter, which is activated when a sensor molecule recognizes an input chemical and, in turn, triggers an actuator molecule.
By combining the RNA components in certain ways, the researchers showed that they can get them to behave like different types of logic gates--circuit elements common to any computer. For example, an AND gate produces an output only when its inputs detect the presence of both drugs, while a NOR gate produces an output only when neither drug is detected."


Hi Everyone,

If any of you are looking for safe email for your students, I have found very useful and successful. Here's some useful information for using Gaggle. Hope it helps!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Digital Equity for Spanish speaking students

Equity and diversity in education are important themes in education today. Paul Gorski, in defining multicultural education mentions that, “Every student must have an equal opportunity to achieve to her or his full potential” (EdChange Multicultural Pavilion). Linguistic minority students do not have the same internet resources available as English speaking students and may struggle with the technology to locate them. One of my goals with regard to multicultural education is to help close the digital equity gap. lists the five dimensions of digital equity as: Technology resources, quality content, culturally responsive content, effective use of resources and content creation (, 2003).

With that in mind, I've added a page to my website for Spanish language elementary web resources ( The resources presented on my webpage are intended for students, parents, and teachers of students who speak Spanish. Teachers are constantly searching for quality web resources for their Spanish speaking students and parents frequently ask me for web resources they can access at home to further their children’s learning. The purpose is to consolidate on one page some of the best Spanish language web resources for primary age students. I'd like to solicit your feedback on additional web resources available in Spanish that I could add to this.

Gorski, P. C. (2003). : The Challenge of Defining “Multicultural Education”. EdChange Multicultural Pavilion. Retrieved October 11, 2008 from

Crossposted at

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Poverty: Problems and Solutions?

The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is on October 17th. IB PYP and MYP around the world are looking at this as a global issue and a classroom lesson to be taught.

Sometimes stepping back from a narrow focus allows you to see the whole picture more clearly.

In my science classes my 9th grade students are learning about the periodic table of elements and how atoms combine to form compounds.

However, my MYP students are beginning to consider how science can be used to better the human condition and to solve some of the global issues facing us in the 21st C. Accordingly, we are looking at poverty and hunger.

We gathered background information and made some suggestions as to solutions. We will follow this up with informal discussions in class as well as another global learner / internet / blog assignment later.

Global issues will be a central theme as I teach these students over the next two years.

Please check their comments to my post located at You will also find links to IBO which will direct you to PYP and MYP / TOK suggested lesson plans and activities.

My students are still becoming comfortable posting comments to blogs etc. Over time we will work on our posts as “literacy writing assignments” and will incorporate the 11 sentence paragraph format (and others).

These strategies will improve our students communication skills as global learners!

Thanks for your time and consideration. Doug

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Re virtual manipulatives

Thanks for sharing your lesson on virtual manipulatives. I especially liked the blair witch project humor. :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

First Grade Virtual Manipulatives on the Smart Board

This evening we just had a great skype chat on Using the SmartBoard in the standards-based classroom. The focus was on what was working well and we talked about engagement, math, and literacy. The consensus was that there was a need for more training or refresher courses. Some ideas where bandied about regarding students teaching other students or creating short training sessions in peer to peer learning. I like the idea and I'm going to share some screen capture tips in one of my subsequent postings. Much of the focus was on math and so I'd like to show a short clip of some place value work we did this week using the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives at

Specifically we are using base blocks to represent place value. This address the Grade Level Essential Target of 1.2C: c) Uses objects to show meanings of = ,<, >, from 0 to 100. e) Uses multiple models to develop initial understanding of place value of ones and tens (base ten blocks, abacus, computer, manips). This is a great place to differentiate because while all first graders need to represent up to 100, many of my students can use blocks to show numbers in the thousands. (Please note this website is available in Spanish as well) What I like about the base blocks virtual manipulatives is that they are easy to move around, you get immediate corrective feedback from the number counter, and it is a fast way to demonstrate mastery of a difficult concept.
Here is a short video of my class doing some base block exercises. In the first two segments I am filming but for most of the class work my students film everything and do all the documenting with the digital cameras. Each week I assign a class photographer who take all the pictures and videos. They are filming the third segment. As you can see, it is a bit shaky (Note to self "Get tripod"). Mildly reminiscent of the Blair Witch Project.