Sunday, October 31, 2010

Smartboard Mania

I have had a blast using Smartboard so far this year. I have been adding literacy transparencies and lesson components from Storytown's website. Each of these smartboard files is about 70 pages and has everything I need for teaching the literacy section including powerpoint vocabulary slides and spelling attachments. I have created a lesson for sightwords which acts more like a sightword center for the students. There are basic pages where students click on a color blob to hear the sight word and then must drag it to a grid with the corresponding print word. I'm having problems with immediate corrective feedback. I guess I need the district to send me to a class to learn to build flash files (hint, hint).

The other day I was behind on building the weekly sightword matching game so I put two students to work typing in the words. They did great. From now on I'm going to have my students build these weekly files.

Math has been fun with the objects available to teach place value. I've also been spending time at the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives. A must have for all who teach math:

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Just Trying to Upload!

Even after all these years of making films with students and being a Global Learner, sometimes things don't always go smoothly. I enjoy using Flip cameras with my students because they are so easy to use. What I don't like about them is how I can't just use the video file how I'd like to without converting it first. Real Converter is a great free conversion software that works to convert to a windows media file, but it can take a very long time. Many hours.

I wanted to post my students natural disasters newscasts on our classroom website. It took so long for blogger to upload my large file or even small files from Flip that I decided to convert them to windows media. This still didn't work...Then I tried to upload my Flip film to you tube. This still didn't work. Then I created a film of all of them with Movie Maker and tried to upload those. Still no luck. So what to do? Keep trying? Of course! I guess just upload bits and pieces over time. I think keeping films short and sweet works the best for uploading. Anyone have any uploading suggestions?

Smart Board Vocabulary Spinner

I've been using a spinner with my students during reading to help them learn and practice using the weekly vocabulary words. They uncover a word, spin the spinner and then have to use the word in a sentence or say an antonym or synonym for the word. Anyone else use a spinner during reading?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Five Year Olds vs Smart Response Clickers

This month I had the privilege of team teaching twice with the smart responders! Once was with another fellow global learner, Drew Giles and another time with Kelly Berry! The first time my students used Mr. Giles’ Smart Response LE clickers to complete a Story Town theme pre-assessment. The students could not have been more thrilled ! After setting up very strict expectations, the students were eager and ready to play the “game” (take the quiz). Students were engaged and excited to put in their answer and then see how they did after each question. Students were able to stay engaged and answer over 20 questions using the Smart Response LE clickers. The larger buttons, colors and shapes, helped them answer confidently and quickly!

The second time I used the Smart Response PE clickers during math time. I created a 10 question quiz on number sense. I wanted to see if my students could answer correctly the amount of objects in a given set. Thankfully, I had Kellys assistance when explaining to my students how to enter their specific clicker number and answer the questions. Although the Smart Response PE clickers were a little more difficult, the students rose to the challenge and had a great time! My students and I have enjoyed learning about and applying this new technology in our classroom. I am looking forward to using both types of clickers in the future!

Math Games

My 3rd graders have started learning multiplication. Already I am ready for them to memorize these facts, especially when I know division is around the corner! I have been trying to find new and good math sites for the students. There are tons out there, but I would like to use some that others have had success with. I would especially be interested in any that help students with multiplication or problem solving. Many of my students are getting internet access at home and some amazing sites might help encourage them to practice at home. So please, pass on any and all great math sites. Thanks.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Welner Student example

AVS Video Editor

This is a program I found that's just a step up from Movie Maker. It has a few more bells and whistles to it and it's fairly inexpensive. You can buy a subscription yearly for about $32 or you can buy an unlimited account for, I think, about $55 or $60. I use it a lot for teaching kids new songs. I put the text in with corresponding pictures. You can also alter the audio if you need to.

October....scary...not just for Halloween!

As October is coming to an end. I have made a little progress in my venture to learn more technology. Kelly Berry has frequented my classroom a lot! I am still working on my wiki for Theme 1. I started with a simple idea, but it has grown into quite the project. Kelly and I are helping my students make movies using Windows Movie Maker. I am definitely learning a lot, but am struggling with getting all 30 students to the final piece. There have been some frustrations with computer glitches, kids losing their work, etc,but I started this project and will finish it!
Some positive things that have come out of this though are the lessons that Kelly and I have team taught in the classroom. We really exposed the children to the I do, We do, You do process in teaching Movie Maker. The engagement is high, and the children are really interested. I have also implemented the process during my small group instruction time.
I am also going to begin with using Photostory for our narratives, where I will collaborate with Ms. Taylor.
Other than that, I am continuing to use the Smart Board every day for my Storytown lessons,math ,and the writing sequence.
I will post some of my student's mini movies on my wiki and on my next blog.....I hope it is done by then..hahaha!
My title reflects how I am feeling about these projects,scared and a bit nervous, but I know I am learning every day.

Whale Song Photostory

A goal of mine was to get my 5th graders making 21st century products. I tried a lot with voicethread, but every time I try to use it, something seems to go wrong. I quickly decided to try photostory instead and it worked out just as well. We were able to record paragraphs we wrote about Whale Songs and put them to a picture. The kids really enjoyed being able to hear themselves read, so I think it will be a good tool in improving fluency and prosody in their reading! In addition to this, Aimee and I worked together to make a Whale Song "edusymphony" to build background knowledge before reading! It worked really well at getting the kids familiar with terminology before reading and I saw great results in comprehension! Enjoy the photostory below... the edusymphony will be coming soon!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Audacity and ELD

As I begin to venture into some new techy territory, I have been trying out recording students using Audacity. At first Kelly showed me this free recording program so I could create a Smartboard center for sight words that was more effective because the kids could see AND hear the sight words as they worked independently. They love it! They record themselves saying the sight words and then use it in a game.
I decided to try out Audacity during ELD also. I am teaching the NEP group of students and we are working on a ton of vocabulary but also different sentence starters and frames. I started recording students reading their sentences or just sharing ideas using these frames. It has greatly increased engagement and the students can hear themselves using correct word order and new words! They think it is hilarious!! I love how it has removed any shyness or insecurity about trying new words and sentences in English.
Audacity is super easy to use and I feel it can be used in any subject.
My next goal is to use it with Reading. Since retelling and summarizing is such a difficult and necessary skill, I will have students record themselves retelling a story while referencing their graphic organizers. Then the other students can "grade" them by listening and filling out their own graphic organizer and determining if the retell was sufficient or correct.
Stay tuned!
It sounds like everyone is doing such amazing things in their classrooms!
See you in Nov!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Digital Learner's Blooms Taxonomy

Greetings all..A colleague forwarded a link to this wiki: Digital Verision of Bloom's Taxonomy and I thought it would be good to share with everyone.

I have spent a lot of time perusing the site and am finding it useful as a reflection tool as I plan the my instruction using some of the newer educational technology. I have been thinking about (and planning) my collaborative project with Doug and I have found that the site helps is helping me to refine my vision of what I want the final product to look like.

Also, I find it is helping me in my conversations with my peers who resist using technology due to their frustration at seeing students merely copy and paste.

With that in mind I think the website above is a good way to begin thinking about higher level uses of instructional technology and help teachers reflect on what kind of digital products they would like for their students.

Anyway, I hope everyone finds it useful...

Oh, one final thought.. When you are using technology in instruction, are you Searching, Locating, and Finding, OR are you Animating, Publishing, and Directing?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Blogging in the Classroom

I have accomplished a goal of mine- I had some of my students post on our classroom's blog! During centers two weeks ago, 7 children in one of my reading groups wrote about their favorite books they have read this year. They explained why they enjoyed the book and then posted it on the blog. Then, I sent the link out to my Monaco colleagues and asked them to comment on the post. The students in my class were ecstatic to see the comments and felt proud of what they had accomplished.
The best part of the project was that now my whole class wants to participate! They are proud of what their peers have done and would love to become a part of the blog.
My kids are using 'techy' words too, which is pretty cute. I'm looking forward to another group of readers posting this week :)
If my seven and eight-year old students can blog, yours can too!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Special Ed/Music Project

Keep a lookout for the new "Edusymphony", a collaborative project between me and Kelly Buerster. Using music and video for support of literacy. Finished project will be posted here and on the Sped site.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


So recently I have been using a lot of the pre-made lessons from the Harcourt website. I used it sparingly last year and found it does make life simpler. Now I am using the whole group powerpoints as a jumping off place for my lessons. My issue though is I would prefer to use the Smart Board. I am wondering if anyone has any ideas on how to easily convert the PowerPoint presentations into Smart Notebook. Or there might even be some other websites, lessons etc that some of you use. I would appreciate any advice. THANKS!!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Assigning Partners

This is a picture of where most of our whole group instruction takes place. This year we have assigned partners for the Oral Language time of StoryTown. I found designating partners to be a better way to hold students accountable during think-pair-share. I have two ways of assigning partners in my room. One way is more of the old fashion way where I list their names in different colors on an alphabet poster. One partner being assigned the uppercase letter and the other the lowercase letter. This way I can specify which group is speaking first and monitor student participation. The other way I assign partners is through the random generator application on Smart Notebook. This is a quick way to pick partners or call on students individually. I noticed that using this type of technology gets students excited and engaged in the upcoming activity! I also love using the random generator for sight words! Has anyone else discovered a fun way to use the random generator?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

There's Tons Going On

The clickers have been an amazing asset for my classroom. I continue to use them on a daily basis, mainly for exit slips in math and reading (vocabulary questions) with the occasional science quiz. Due to the instant feedback provided by the SRS system, the students know exactly which questions they missed and are more inclined to listen when I review the answers. The class loves to see their collective percentage and we all celebrate the days (which are becoming more and more frequent) when they surpass the 80% plateau.
The SRS system also provides me with valuable feedback that determines my math groups on a daily basis. My digital exit slips establish my math small group instruction for the following day and are ever-changing depending on the students who had difficulty with a concept on the exit slip the previous lesson.
I love the clickers. My students love the clickers, and they’re improving my instruction and increasing my student’s engagement. What’s not to like.
I’m also venturing into cyberspace with Liz Springer’s class as we will be viewing and responding to a video representation of a StoryTown reader’s theater lesson. This will be my first experience assisting the students with blogging. I have to say it’s a little intimidating, but I’m glad that others have experienced success; it motivates me to try new avenues of engagement and communication.
In addition to the technology I’m using with my students, I have also set up a wiki for the teachers in my building to share ideas and concerns. It has not officially been rolled out, but I was reading a plethora of emails involving teachers who wanted information about the curriculum, their instruction, and good websites, but I had no idea if and how other teachers were responding. So, I figured it might be easier to start threaded discussions on a wiki so everyone could view responses and provide their own input. I’m hoping it’s utilized often and becomes an asset for our team.
My last initiative was inspired by a website called, which is a web-based program that sends a text message, multiple-choice question, to a specified cell phone. The site allows for up to 30 participants answering one question per day. I am still in the preliminary phase, but I hope to send a permission slip home soon. I realize that the message will have to be sent mostly to parents, but my goal is that parents will be encouraged to ask their child what the comprehension question is about, which will lead to more academic conversations at home. I will post an update regarding the effectiveness and success (or failure) of this idea in the near future. In the meantime, check out the site.
I hope everyone else is well and I look forward to seeing many of you in the near future.
Sorry for the obscenely long post.
Robbie Robinson

~A Must See ~ Global Learner Newsletter

I'd like to announce the first ever Global Learner Newsletter. You can find this newsletter by visiting the Global Learner Google Site. Scroll down about an inch and you will see a heading titled Newsletters. Click on Fall 2010 to be taken directly to our newsletter.

Why have I created a newsletter you may ask? Well, several reasons. First, I wanted an efficient way to let everyone know some upcoming events. Second, I'd like to begin showcasing ideas, lessons and resources occasionally. Finally, it is an interactive newsletter allowing you to view links and RSVP for upcoming events.

Check it out, it's worth it! Also, if you have ideas for future newsletters, please let me know and we can collaborate on the next one!


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tablets In the Classroom

A few years ago, Dave gave me a small digitizing tablet to try out in my 5th grade classroom. I used it a few times, but ended up using mostly the SmartBoard during technology-infused lessons.

This year, however, I have 37 students in a very small classroom, so I've looking for ways to engage a large class and get technology involved any way possible. With the tablet, I have been able to, from anywhere in the room, demonstrate and work injunction with students.

Instead of standing in front of the room, back to the class, working on a whiteboard, I've been able to show the same steps of problem-solving while walking around, monitoring the working students. Plus, students love to show their own work in front of the entire class using the tablet at their desk. No need for kids to get out of their desks to watch a classmate show their thinking on a screen in front of the room. Anybody have any experience or other ideas for tablet use in the classroom?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Smart Casting Lessons

I have had a number of parents comment to me that they are unable to help their students with the work we are doing in class because they do not know how to do the work themselves. Some have asked for the book that we are using in class so that they can check the work and help their children. Unfortunately we are not using one book. Anne and I were discussing how we might help support parents and thought that creating a smart cast of each lesson would be a great start. We hope to get to the point where we can post them on a blog or web page so that parents can access them from home. We have been working on creating the smart casts and it has taken a bit of work. I had some microphone issues that I was able to work out with a wireless microphone. I have also had to go through several takes to get a presentable project. At first I tried to smart cast my actual lesson as I was presenting it to the students. It was helpful for me to reflect on my classroom, but may not have been a good tutoring tool as I was not just working on the skill, but also dealing with class issues and questions. I think that making a list of questions students ask during the lesson and then creating the smart cast after school without distractions and addressing the questions that arose is the best strategy.

Photo Story Project

Anne and I decided to have students create a photo story explaining the steps of a specific math skill they had learned in Unit 1. We did a lot of pre-planning and the project evolved quite a bit. We had a check list and rubric as well as a rough outline of each skill students should use as a “script”. As I introduced the project, my students were a bit confused because they did not want to plan; they wanted to be on the computers. They also struggled with the over all concept of the project at the beginning. After the first day, I created a more structured “script” and that seemed to focus them and help them understand what to do next. The students were very engaged the entire time. I had a few students, as they were working on their skill, say, “Oh! That is how you do that.” Or “Now I understand what we are doing.” It was a project that really asked them to take what we were doing in class and make it their own.
We had a number of projects that turned out great and every student was proud to share their photo story with the class. There were a few technology issues: slides in the wrong order, recording issues, and lost or unsaved projects. I think that students will have a much easier time on the next project because they now have an idea of what to do. Also, I have a better understanding of how to support students, step by step, in order to create a finished project. I always seem to forget how much structure students need as they are being introduced to a new technology. They are not just wrestling with the higher order thinking skill of synthesizing their knowledge into a project; they are also learning how to use the technology.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Technology Centers

I have had great success using technology as a reading and math center. The kids really look forward to it each week. I do have difficulty with the accountability piece. I have been creating worksheets that go with the technology center for them to complete, but I was wondering if there are any ideas for websites that have activities created to go along with their website, especially when the Storytown technology centers are lacking. Let me know if there are any ideas!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Theme 1 Reader's Theater Grade 5

Hi All,

Check out my adorable 5th graders as they act out our first reader's theater of the year!

proposition 62

Please join the conversation with my HS students as they consider this week the "person-hood" amendment for Colorado voters in 11/10. The class blog can be accessed here.

Thanks, Doug

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Free digital textbooks? A good idea? (YES!)

"CK-12 Foundation is a non-profit organization with a mission to reduce the cost of textbook materials for the K-12 market both in the U.S. and worldwide. Using an open-content, web-based collaborative model termed the “FlexBook,” CK-12 intends to pioneer the generation and distribution of high quality educational content that will serve both as core text as well as provide an adaptive environment for learning.

The content generated by CK-12 and the CK-12 community will serve both as source material for a student's learning and provide an adaptive environment that scaffolds the learner's journey as he or she masters a standards-based body of knowledge, while allowing for passion-based learning. " from the website

I like the idea! Do you?