Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spreading the fever

I was lucky enough to lead a professional development this month about technology that we have available in our building. It was nice to show things to my fellow teachers. Its funny how the things I use everyday (email, smartboard, and the document cameras) are new and exciting to some. I'm so thankful that I'm in this group and have access to such great stuff! I'm really excited to try having my students create lab reports online and then have a colleague's class comment on how my students did. Its amazing what we can do now!

March Madness

I can’t believe March is already over! Between CSAP and Spring Break, it seems like March flew by. Where has the year gone? It seems like yesterday I was introducing my students to a new way of learning; the Promethean board, Activotes, and our class blog. Now, we are three-fourths of the way through the year and the students are so at ease when they use any of these tools.

This past month I have been using the Activotes to assess the students more often. I have found that my students absolutely love the Activotes. They have turned getting the correct answer into a game. Just last week we were answering questions about fractions and they began celebrating their success by using cheers we use in class. They were all so engaged that they seemed almost disappointed when we finished.

Incorporating this new technology has had such a positive impact on my students. They are continuously engaged. They seem to always want more! Their excitement keeps me inspired to continue to find new ways to incorporate technology into my instruction.

March post

I have been experimenting with some of the different tools in ActiveInspire. I have added my students voices to our calendar flipcharts. I have downloaded and converted videos off of youtube and am using the videos as part of calendar to reinforce concepts like days of the week, months of the year and counting to name a few.
I feel like I am really comfortable using the promethean board and creating or downloading flip charts.
It is amazing how my students are so comfortable using the board. They are able to use the board independantly for calendar time or centers. It is so interactive that it keeps them entertained while learning!

Film Fest Fever

As the film fest approaches so does my focus on my student's film projects. They have written creative, imaginative stories that will be turned into films. I have the still and digital cameras, the Movie Maker program and very enthusiastic and motivated students. What is lacking is creative direction. Do they act everything out? Do they illustrate or find pictures and narrate? Do they do a combination of both?

I think the act of writing this post has given me the answer...let the students figure it out, because it is their project.

As a teacher I love to orchestrate and control to some extent what happens in my classroom. But sometimes you need to let out the reins and let the students take over.

Any advice about how to do that?

March Post

As Spring quickly crept up on us, the kids have become a little restless. It may be the warmer weather, it may be that CSAP is over or it could just be that they can see the end of the school year approaching.

Whatever it is, I know that I have two options as a teacher. I can give them problems to complete and fight with them every step of the way until they finish or I can provide more interesting, hands-on, technology based lessons that they are interested in doing. Now, I feel like the second option works better no matter what time of year it is, but especially now when the students have the end of the year in sight. However, with that being said I think sometimes it is necessary to have students solve problems in order to practice a certain skill. Anyways, my point is that I am planning on using as many projects as I can to close out the year to not only help the students stay interested but also to help me as a teacher.

On a different topic. I have just administered my first unit tests online using Galileo. As with any new technological adventure there were some hurdles that we had to overcome (it was amazing how many students didn't know there student ID numbers or how to write their birthdays numerically), but overall I was happy with how it went. A few benefits that I have found from giving an online test were that it mixed up the questions to prevent cheating; it grades the test for me which saves a lot of time; and the best part is that it can group students according to standards which allows me to work with small skills groups based on their test results. I look forward to using Galileo more often in the future to help me assess my students.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Managing Spring Fever

It is utterly amazing how quickly the months are flying by! February and March were blurs with final preparations for CSAP, and then administering the assessment itself! I was so thankful for having and using technology in the classroom as added engagement and motivation tools. Dare I say CSAP reviews were "fun"? I don't know if I'd take it that far, but my team had a strong arguement as such with our kooshball and white board reviews in my room, and the clickers next door with my teammate. One could even hear a cheer now and then! Even now as we rapidly approach Spring Break, and classroom energy begins to spiral, I'm so grateful to be able to enhance my lessons and engage students with useful technology in the classroom.

Technology Mishap

Just wondering...I tried Glogster with my kids for the first time a few weeks back and it didn't go so well. So, I thought I'd ask for some help!

My class had spent some time using books from the library and the Internet to do research on an insect to write a paragraph for information in writing. Some fellow Global Learners kindly suggested Glogster. So, I decided to try it for the first time. We used a graphic organizer to collect our research which would also help us to create a poster to show where the insect lived, what the insect looked like and what the insect did.

So, I checked out our school's laptop cart and was so excited for them to begin creating something new and different to share. But, my students couldn't complete their posters because it took so long for them to load. We finally gave up and used Word instead. The final products turned out really good and showed how much information they had collected, but I still would like to try out Glogster. Has anyone else had the same problem? Any suggestions?

March Blog

I have been using the flipcharts mainly for my math. I found some flipcharts on measurement. I also created flipcharts for my templates for reading. I am beginning to feel a little bit more comfortable with what I am doing. The Global Learners from Center get together every other week for support. I feel that this helps me out because I am not computer literate, but I take a risk by trying to do what I can.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Helpful site for interactive activities and accountability

I usually end up spending quite a bit of time looking for activities that I can hold my students accountable for, especially in the sense of literacy and technology. It's especially hard when my core group of literacy kids need a lot of assistance and practice before they begin to understand what it is exactly I am asking of them. I also have one student who needs new activities constantly to challenge him. Then, last week, lo and behold..... I found an AMAZING website! It is and provides loads of resources from Kindergarten-12th grade. This site is for educators and parents! I'm still searching through but I found a great "game" for word families. My students are super excited to start. The best thing is that there is accountability because the students can print out the results of their work. The sheet comes out with their name on it! Try the interactive game!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

a reflection on a recent classroom evaluation....

Hi all. Just thought I would share some thoughts / comments on a recent classroom evaluation and global learner tools / strategies..

A couple of weeks ago I was formally evaluated as part of my job performance as a classroom teacher. Of note was my evaluator's remark that "I used technology appropriately and seamlessly in my lesson." (paraphrased....)

My oh my! How has my approach to classroom presentation changed in the 18 mo I have been a global learner? Gone are the overhead transparencies! Gone is me chained to the overhead projector! Gone is the one-way flow of communication! They have been replaced by the interactive smartboard, on-demand videos, interactive virtual labs and powerpoints + many more tools.

I am appreciative of the Global Learner program and the opportunity I have had to "re-invent" myself as a classroom teacher. I am appreciative of the interactions with other global learners as well as truly thankful to the efforts of Dave and Joe to promote this forum and philosophy!

Peace, Doug

Friday, March 19, 2010


The new, cool "toy" I recently discovered thanks to someone I follow on Twitter is Jing. Jing is a nifty, free software program that you put on your laptop and/or desktop that allows you to screen capture still shots or even video. You can record whatever it is you want to record on your screen, then upload it instantly to You also get a link so you can post to Twitter, Facebook, or wherever else you see fit. I just added this to my laptop yesterday, but I can already see the advantages to this program. With it, I can record all sorts of how to videos then post the link to Edmodo for my students to refer to and watch as they need to. You can even mark up your screenshots, which has definite uses and advantages as well. I was going to wait and create a Jing video demonstrating how to use Jing, but I got too excited and had to share right away.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Keepin it Green

Check out the latest video from my class :) We did a playground clean-up on St. Patrick's Day and I think it was an overall success! Thanks to Aimee for helping me with Movie Maker, Real Player, iTunes, and all the other apps I used to put this together :)


Sunday, March 14, 2010

It Takes a Village

Our First Graders created a community as their summative assessment for our My Space Mapping Unit. As a class we created a list of what communities need and want. They were very creative in creating their buildings. Three students were ill and unable to create a piece at home so I improvised and they had 15 minutes to create a piece using KidSpiration. Students presented their piece (as you can see on our VoiceThread) and the next day, students created the community. They were extremely engaged, eager and collaborative as they built their community. Two students weren't able to complete their project at home, so they were responsible for road development. At the end of the VT there will be pictures of their city along with their final reflections (we'll get this done tomorrow!). Please check out their hard work. They are very proud and their buildings include everything from a bank to a mall!

Class Blog

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

ELD and the Smartboard

My ELD class is currently focused around grammar. I am teaching the students about regular nouns, common and proper nouns, singular and plural nouns, action verbs and present and past tense verbs. We have done a variety of activities to help students learn these, but their favorite is the Smartboard! I had been creating many smartboard lessons around the day's objective and then I had a great idea. Why not make the kids create the smartboard lessons???? So that is what I have been doing! (Not everyday, but once every week or two.) One lesson that they created was for a singular and plural noun sort. Each child had to come up with either a singular or plural noun. The students then typed in the word in a smart notebook slide. I had already created a t-chart with singular and plural headings. Then, the entire class got to each choose a noun that wasn't theirs, and put it in the correct column. They loved this! This helped to promote pair/share also because students had to work with a partner to decide if the noun was singular or plural and then "check" to see if the student chosen had put it in the correct column. Every student was engaged and they were very proud of their smartboard lesson!
I am going to try another one today. Each student will come up with a present or past tense verb. The student will then write the verb in a sentence. Each sentence will then be typed into a smartnotbook lesson. Once all sentences are typed, we will come together as a whole class. Students will be required to identify the verb with their partner, and whether it is past or present. I will take turns calling on students to come up to the smartboard and circle the verb and write "past" or "present" next to each sentence. This will give students additional practice with past and present verbs, an opportunity to use and create their own smartboard lesson!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Computer Composition

My 3rd and 4th graders are composing their own songs using Mixcraft, the PC version of GarageBand. I love how they really get to use their creativity. If anyone is interested in hearing their pieces, they will be available in about three weeks.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Extending the Global Learner Community

At a recent meeting with Dave and several Global Learners, I suggested some sort of outreach program, in which Global Learners would be supported in being able to share ideas with the general teaching population at Adams 14. I feel there is a need to support our fellow teachers (and administrators) on how effective technology can be in the implementation of first time instruction.

I plan to implement and facilitate an afterschool tech club at Hanson beginning this Thursday. The purpose of the club would be to encourage teachers to stop by and acquire hands-on practice and experience with technologies they are most interested in in an atmosphere which is, hopefully, fun, engaging, and non-threatening.

Time is a huge issue for all of us, but I think that, in fostering support for faculty members beyond the GL program, we are investing in our collective efforts of promoting engagement through technology and proving that instruction with technology is not only meaningful, but essential, in today's increasingly global consciousness. As we get the Hanson tech club off its feet, I would love for any or all of you to join us! I'll keep you posted on how it goes! Any feedback would be awesome.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Got a sub? No problem! Hold class online!

I recently posted an article here on my teacher blog in which I reflect on the unique ability of teachers in the 21st century to continue to hold class, even when they are out, whether at a conference, sick, or taking care of other business. Today was the second time I was able to take advantage of the technology, and I think it flowed better this time than last.

Being able to post videos and links to other sites really helped with class discussion, and it definitely not only helped with plans for the sub (which basically said "have the students log into Edmodo and get the link for the live blog, then have them log onto the blog), it also helped to ensure a continuity of instruction.

As I wrote this, I was also watching/listening to a debate on leadership as seen in William Golding's Lord of the Flies via UStream, which of course only further demonstrates my point. This particular teacher and class had people from Denver (me), Atlanta, Germany, and Brazil all watching and listening to the class, and the students did an outstanding job.

In spite of the current political climate, and the feeling (nationally) that teachers are under attack and being asked to do more with fewer resources, I still feel this is an exciting time to be in education.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

More Online Drawing and Creation Tools

Emily posted some great online drawing and creation tools for the classroom.  Here are some more to take a look at.

BillyBear for Kids







Monday, March 1, 2010

Eeeek! Where did February go?

It was such a short month! OMG! So, this will have to be my blog for February. I just got the Flip Camcorder so that my students will be able to film our learning! As soon as I figure out how to use it, and when I can introduce the camcorder....blogs galore! I'm very excited b/c it looks like it'll be fairly easily for the kindergartners' hands. It'll be easier to document our lessons and experiments... stay tuned!

21st Century Collaboration

Tempest fugit! Doesn't it? So many things to blog about -so little time. My students are enjoying the technology and I'm very proud of them. For a recent project I asked students to identify shapes found all around us for our geometry unit. This is a foray into project-based learning that I am trying to implement more. Students had to identify five plane shapes that occur around us or in nature. Students got to choose whether to explore the building with a digital camera, create a drawing of a house incorporating shapes, or find images under Creative Commons from flickr that had shapes in them. We will be posting that later this week.
I am having a great time working with the fantastic second grade team here at Kemp. (Yeah, Lisa and Shane!) They embody the idea of 21st century collaboration. (ISTE NETS 3.b:collaborate with students, peers, parents, and community members using digital tools and resources to support student success and innovation). We share files related to lesson planning, delivery, and assessment in electronic formats on a wiki and through Google Docs. It has made life so much easier. Now that Google Docs supports any file format, we can share Smartboard files easier too.
Here is a funny avatar I made for myself.

Better Late than Never!

I've fallen behind on this blog posting here on our Global Learners site.  I've had so much going on that it's been hard keeping up with everything.  But here's my  Feb post.

My mentor and I talked on the phone and decided  that we would do a Live Skype Video Conference with our classes so that our students could introduce themselves and put some faces to names that they have seen.  On the 26th we accomplished this task wthout to much difficulty.  I feel it was a very good idea and my students are all pumped to do it again. We did a trial run a couple of days ahead of time which we have determined was a very good thing to do.

Video Project

We have been learning about how to create different graphs as well as how to calculate mean, median, mode, and range in my math class. I then had them use their knowledge of these topics to decide which store would be the best one to buy a new television from based on 10 different television prices. I have done this activity in the past and the kids always seem to enjoy it; however, this year I took it a step further and had the students shoot a commercial using Windows Movie Maker. It was the first time that I had ever had students create a video and overall it went pretty well.

First of all, the kids really enjoyed it. The commercial definitely gave them an opportunity to get creative and work together. Students wrote scripts as well as brought in and used props to go with their commericals. Some students were nervous when it came to shooting the video but in the end everyone contributed and they were really supportive of each other. Also by adding the commercial to this activity it added another dimension to the math and it helped them realize how the work relates to the real world.

As I said this was the first time that I have ever had students create a video and it was definitely a learning experience. One thing that I would do differently next time is I would make sure that all groups do a test run first. I had a couple of groups that created their video, but then were not happy with the outcome so they wanted to shoot it again. I think that this can be avoided by having them conduct a test run first. Also, even more specifically, I would make them do the test run in front of me so that I can add anything that I think is necessary. I really enjoyed all of the commercials that my students made; however, some of them put together an excellent skit but didn't include the math as much as I would have liked.

I look forward to finding new ways to have students make videos and I feel like the more often we do this the better they will become!

Ten Flashing Fireflies

I created a flipchart for a math lesson using the book Ten Flashing Fireflies by Philemon Sturges. It is a two way counting book that combines counting down from ten to one and counting up from ten to one. I scanned the pages of the book into the flipchart and students worked together to create pages on the flipchart to represent addition sentences. The flipchart turned out to be very interactive.
I used the turtorial from Atomic Learning and support from Promethean Planet to help me and my students create this flipchart.
I also learned how to compress files and used a new program on Boxnet
Thanks Dave
Also, the lesson can be viewed on Atomic Learning.