Saturday, April 30, 2011

Text to Speech on a Blog

 So I usually don't promote commercial sites, but this one looks interesting and seems to be free for basic use.

The site I came across is and it says it converts text to speech on blogs. I have yet to try this but thought it looked interesting.  I think it could be useful for making blog entries more user friendly for all of our students.  I have a blogging assignment coming up soon and will try it out and post a followup but thought I would put it up here as well.

Info from the site:


Your posts where and when your readers choose! Turn your blogs into audio-to-go!
  • Your readers like your blog posts but may not have time to read them online?
  • Reach hundreds of millions of iPod, MP3 player and mobile phone owners... anywhere?
Odiogo empowers you to convert your blog posts into high quality audio files. Check the demo out!
Odiogo is compatible with all blog engines that publish RSS feeds such as Typepad, Blogger, WordPress or Overblog. Enroll in the service now and we'll let you know when the audible version of your blog is ready. The generated MP3 files are stored on our servers. You don't need to worry about technical integration tasks or bandwidth.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Social Media

As social media continues to rise, how do we as educators embrace and strategically begin to use it. We had a great discussion yesterday about creating a district-wide blog for our students. What should our next step be to getting that process started? Here is a thought provoking video:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Persuasive book reports

I just published my students' persuasive book reports on my blog:

It not only helped students become better writers, but improve their presentation skills as well. Having them persuade each other to read their book and really explain why was a challenge at first, but my teammate and I kept revisiting and modeling and I think we came up with a pretty decent product. They also were engaged in completing a quality paragraph and poster, along with practicing their presentation. Check them out!

Plans for next year

1. I have found that some of my students don’t do the warm-up problem unless I walk around and check. To solve this for next year I am going to have all my warm-ups on clickers. I will have a whiteboard outside of my room that tells my students if they need to pick up a clicker or not for the day. I will prepare multiple warm-ups over the summer so if one morning I don’t have one prepared, I have some to use. This will ensure that every student must do the warm-up.

2. I hope to have stations every day for the first 30 minutes of class. The class will be divided into groups of 4. Half of the groups will be doing story problem groups. The other half of the group will be on This will allow me to gather the data I want from and I will only need 1 computer cart.

3. I will have a wiki that my students use often. I will include math games that review basic skills such as multi-digit multiplication and long division. It will also have power points we will use for the day, notes on how to solve certain problems, and activities students will need to complete using a computer.

4. At the beginning of the year I will have students use the smart slate to write the correct answers for the warm up. One goal for next year is for me and my students to use the smart slate more often.

Persuasive Book Reports

My teammate and I had our ELD classes create persuasive book reports and then they video taped them. It was such a great opportunity for these students to build their writing skills and practice their speaking skills through presentation. Afterward, they reflected on this learning activity. So many realized how important good grammar and clear voices are. They also commented on how it was fun to try to persuade people. For some unknown reason my 4 videos will not convert or upload correctly. I will keep trying, but for now check out half of them on Katie's class blog at

Film Fest Fun: April Update

This post MUST start with a HUGE thank you to Kelly for helping me with my submission to the Film Fest. It has been an incredible experience that my students absolutely enjoyed. We created an Earth Day Public Service Announcement that was written and performed by the students. The main players researched Earth Day facts using a powerpoint and united streaming videos I created and the whole class performed an Earth Day song. It was a learning experience to combine all the necessary skills into one final product but I am so grateful for all I learned. The bluescreen proved to be a challenge that at first made me worried about the final product. However, as I spent the weekend editing all the shots, I found myself pleasantly distracted from the lack of bluescreen by the amazing information and performance of my kiddos! And that is what it is ALL about. They did amazing and I am so proud of them! I feel inspired for next year and hope my students do as well.
I will attach it as soon as I have the final product!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Voicethread-May Blog

Okay, so i am early,but wanted to share the first voicethread created by a couple of students in my classroom. I know...I am slow, but still learning. The voicethread was a great way for the children to create a story, write their ideas, and practice fluency. I also created my class blog. So now, I have a class wiki, blog, made moviemakers,photostories, vokis and voice threads with the students. They all need some more work,but I have learned so much this year. I also have improved on the smartboard and have been able to help others this year.
I have definitely achieved what I wanted to do this year,which was to become more comfortable with technology and integrate new ideas into the classroom. I have a long way to go, but this has been a great stepping stone for me.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Creating Fables - March Blog

With my ALD group, we have been writing fables. I found a great website that displays and awards fables created by students from around the world, so it was not only a great writing lesson, but also a great geography lesson! The website is Once my students saw how others around the world were writing fables, they became very invested in the project. Once they are done with their revising and editing, they will be publishing their fables as a Windows Photostory, which they are also very excited about! Look to the next blog for an example!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

just asking and wondering ....

Please view this video

From Wikipedia: Khan Academy is a not-for-profit educational organization created in 2006, by Salman Khan. With the stated mission of "providing a high quality education to anyone, anywhere", the website supplies a free online collection of over 2,200 micro lectures via video tutorials stored on YouTube teaching mathematics, history, finance, physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, and economics.[1]


Of concern to middle school / high school global learners / 21st C teachers :

Why do we still have and pay for print textbooks? Why not get them "free" such as from the CK-12 organization? My ACHS 9th grade biology textbooks cost almost $100 each, are not replaced by the district and are "gang-grafittied" which makes them unusable but still used within 5 years. This is repeated in the other core areas.

Why not provide all students with net-books to be used instead of textbooks. The cost savings over years would be in the thousands of dollars! And yes, students might access facebook, myspace etc. So what? That is the 21st C student and we need to embrace the shift of paradigms.

Why not use educational sites such as Khan Academy as a primary resource in the classroom?

Why do we continue to teach / educate the same way as always? Why not let the "digital natives" / "our students" show us the way?

just asking .... and wondering ...


Friday, April 15, 2011

Practice with BlueScreen effects in MovieMaker

Kelly will be glad to help you with adding BlueScreen effects to any video projects you may have coming up.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Canada 2.0

For the last month my students have been emailing their pen pals from Canada. We exchanged a video and hope to Skype soon. For those that haven't heard of it, ePals is a great website for meeting classes. Initially I helped the students draft their own emails and edit for spelling. Now I'm letting the process occur more organically and allowing the students a lot of freedom to send their own emails. With ePals all the incoming and outgoing emails get sent to me for approval so I feel it is very safe. Some students have even showed their parents their emails and sent an email from home. They are all have their own email and password and are proficient at composing, attaching files, and sending and replying to emails.

We used Google Earth to look at our partner school and we sent and received pictures from our respective schools. It has been a blast!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

On students can create personalized speaking avatars. This is a great way to teach the students how to present what they have learned. This can be used in many creative ways in the classroom,and the children will be motivated. Below you can find the voki that I created using Voki for Educators.( I made this really quickly as an example, but am very excited to use this project with my students.This activity will allow them to focus on structuring their sentences and become better writers. It is also great for our second language learners because they will be able to hear their mistakes that they have written. Some words like Sacagawea, are difficult for the character to say, but you are able to spell it phonetically so the character can pronounce it more clearly. Some ways to use in the classroom: 1) Create a character to give a book talk/book report. 2) Create a character to persuade. 3) Create a character to summarize or paraphrase a story. 4) Bring a fictional character to life. 5) Teachers can use this to grab their attention and motivate them about a topic.(introductory) I even thought about implementing this for our IB exhibition. Children have chosen people like Elvis Presley, Christopher Columbus, and Rosa Parks. They can create a character on and the character can tell a story about their life. On the children can type in the text and choose a voice,or they can record their own voice. Once you create the character you can send it to an email address or post it to a blog. There are many lesson plans and ideas for educators on the website, so check it out, if you haven't looked at this before.

I just made a new Voki. See it here:

Sunday, April 10, 2011


When writing these posts I usually try to set goals for myself. I heard once that if you make your goals public you are more apt to achieve them, so I here's my goal for this month: Engage my student teacher in more technology.
She is feeling more confident with technology each day, but I know that more practice and guidance from me, she will become proficient in technology usage.
This month my TC and I will be implementing clickers into math and reading which will allow us to collect and analyze data more closely.
I'm also teaching her how to create more engaging, yet simple, smartbaord resources for her to use in every subject.
As for my March projects, they both were a success! The kids created Toondoos that revolved around the beginning, middle and ending of a Junior Great Books story we had read. They blogged about the experience, but I have yet to click 'publish' on that one..still figuring out some details.
Happy Spring!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Great Ways to Use a Blog: Concept Cartoons

I was poking around the Adams14 Instructional Technology Site and reviewed the slideshow about creative ways to use your class blog. I was especially inspired by the idea of Concept Cartoons, which is a site that uses comics to introduce science concepts. While this program is for purchase, I think you could use ToonDoo or any other graphic/comic program or application to create your own comic to spark inquiry. Thoughts or ideas?

Monday, April 4, 2011

One Laptop Per Child

So I recently applied for a teaching fellowship in Rwanda with SEVEN Fund which is a non-profit organization working to find enterprise solutions to poverty by investing in local entreprenurs. They are working specifically in Rwanda in all fields. The fellowship would allow me to travel to Rwanda this summer and experience the schools and current practices. I have read about the One Laptop Per Child program that Rwanda has been involved in and their President is committed to continuing.
If I am chosen for the fellowship my goal is to use what I have used as a Global Learner to support this program and communicate with schools in Rwanda using my class blog. I would also create lessons on solutions to poverty and do several presentations upon completion of the fellowship.
If I am not chosen, I still feel very compelled to be a part of this global movement to support education and eliminate poverty. I will still used what I have learned this year to create lessons and virtual resources to increase awareness and action.
I would love to hear any thoughts or ideas on how to integrate technology into lessons on poverty!!
Thanks and cross fingers for me!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Graphing Data on Cities

I was unable to do many technology related lessons because of CSAP and my student teacher is taking over. We did a project that had students researching the 10 day forecast, demographics, and population over time for a chosen city. For the 10 day forecast we used . For the demographics we used (use “other free lookups” and then click the first time your city appears). For the population over time we used It was awesome because the students were excited about being on computers and looking up information of the city of their choice. I created a packet that gave directions on what to do and tables for the students to write their information. I provided graph paper and the students had to decide which graph to use for each set of information.