Thursday, October 11, 2012

Curriculum Video

In this curriculum video, Lauren and Lisle help explain the concept of Absolute Value. My students had a lot of fun learning the song and being video taped. I think this is a great way to allow students to get involved in the learning process. When they are actively engaged, I believe they will not only learn but remember the concept. No more learn and dump. I wish our curriculum allowed teachers more time in the classroom to let students explore and create. I am going to have to continue thinking about how I can make that happen. Thank you to my students who willingly participated in this video.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Tweetin' on Twitter

Twitter continues to be amazing and provides connections with so many interesting people. I may not know them personally, but definitely appreciate the educators that I follow that are providing and sharing great information all of the time. I've been using Twitter for about a year now, use TweetDeck to manage and view multiple groups at one time, and have added approximately 25 new people to follow in the last eight weeks. I have enjoyed learning what different grade levels have been studying and the approaches taken during instruction. As a middle school teacher, it is interesting to me to see how students are learning in elementary and how I can help students transition to high school.

One group that I enjoy following is #tt4t. Even if I didn't work for Bellevue Public Schools, I would recommend to anyone and everyone to follow this hashtag. While they work, these technology trainers tweet out what professional development they are providing, are generous with sharing new concepts that they have learned, and are constantly publishing videos for staff to available for help. Following these trainers also expands my online PLN because they are meeting new individuals at technology conferences and adding new people to follow, which allows me to add them as well.

I will definitely continue to use Twitter more professionally than personally. Need an idea for a lesson? Need to ask a colleague a quick question? Need advice from a variety of people? Need technology information? Missed a great article? If you said "Yes" to any of these questions, Twitter is a powerful resource for you to use, no matter what your profession. Twitter allows you to expand your walls and think outside the box. One of my colleagues who has met some of the people that they "work" with on Twitter even said that the people were just as great in person as on-line. So, keep on tweetin'!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Great Information from: "Free Technology for Teachers" blog at

On Twitter, Richard Byrne is one of my favorite instructional technologists that I follow!  There is so much information but the posts are never overwhelming in my opinion.  If you are not following Richard, consider doing so right now, as you will not regret spending the time to read anything that is posted or contributed to his website blog.  I always look forward to his tweets on Twitter when his new blogs are published.

One of my favorite areas to explore is the "Free Download" section.  I really like the "11 Techy Things to Do in a School Year." This download makes creating a technology tool for your students very simple.  I am about half way done with this guide and have done the following in the last year, thanks to the technology trainers professional development courses in Bellevue Public Schools.  I have created a math website for my parents and students, have been using Twitter for over a year now, created blogs (yes, more than one) and videos (love Animoto, Photo Story and ScreenR), and use Google Forms to create class take home quizzes that are automatically corrected using a script called "Flubaroo."  Results can even be automatically emailed without a teacher picking up a pen to correct a paper.  "Google for Teachers I and II" are also must reads.  I still have a lot to learn about Google, but I my favorite part about it is no longer wondering what flash drive I need to have to access a document - it's all on my drive!

There is so much technology that I could incorporate into my classes, but we all know that we need to vary our delivery devices to keep our content fresh and interesting.  The novelty of using hand-held clickers can quickly wear off and videos can get boring.  I was recently reminded that I had wanted to try creating a math lesson using QR codes. I definitely found some inspiration to do so on this blog and found other great resources in the process.  I discovered that some educators are using QR codes for class coupons (now students won't lose them, and there is nothing to copy) and interactive bulletin boards.  If you need information to get started, this article on QR codes for Classroom Use is very informative. From there, there are tons of other great resources and ideas.  Recently at a conference, I was discussing QR codes with one of my daughter's past teachers who had used a QR code to share her contact information with parents at Back to School night.  She still provided business cards but found that many of her parents and students loved having her information right on their phones. This would have been a great way for me to get students more involved on a daily basis using our class website to access their resources consistently.

A blog is a great way to share information with students as well - I think of it as an online newspaper. I'm not quite ready for this commitment - I currently have three blogs going but have not spent much time writing on any one of them (until this class). I really wanted to incorporate blogging with my English students last year and used KidBlog. I had one class out of three that were super excited about this opportunity. I primarily used Edmodo to share daily news and for a large research project and to share online materials for research with my students, I used! to guide and interest my students. It's not that I don't enjoy blogging, but my priorities lie in updating the class website and homework calendar to make sure students have current information.  I love using technology in the classroom and am passionate about learning about different tools. The important thing to remember is that you don't have to do it all at once - it's better to build a good product that is useful, than to have a half dozen that few use.  Just my thoughts.....

Favorite Podcasts

There are so many interesting pod-casts that sometimes it's hard to narrow it down to just a few. One of my very favorites is CNN Student News. One of the reasons I enjoy it is because it provides engaging activities to complete with students that really gets them thinking about current events, both international and nationwide. You could even create a clicker activity to go along with it, incorporate class discussion blogs, and if needed, give quizzes to students via a Google form - quizzes are already made by CNN and provide opportunities for differentiation. When I taught a Broadcasting course to 7th and 8th graders, this was a daily warm-up activity. I downloaded the podcast through ITunes daily instead of accessing CNN Student News for each class, and then saved it to my desk top to avoid buffering issues and lengthy downloading times. You can access the podcast either through ITunes or through CNN.

Jillian Michaels also has a good podcast, called the Jillian Michaels Show. As described on the podcast page, Jillian gives you "tools to find health and happiness in all areas of your life."  If you enjoy working out to Jillian's DVD's or watching her on the Biggest Loser, I recommend you listening to her show on a podcast because she discusses all kinds of issues from being a new mom to choosing good foods to eat to how to read nutrition labels correctly and is much different than the drill Sargent you watch making you sweat and ache from hard exercise.  Each show is about 45 or so minutes long, but, you can always pause it and return to it later.

When I taught English last year, I enjoyed Grammar Girl. These pod-casts are relatively short and great for introducing new concepts, most of which are appropriate to share with students. Although I am certified to teach English, I dreaded teaching grammar, but knowing Grammar Girl was there as my resource made teaching much easier - especially if you've ever seen the worksheets created by the textbook company.  Definitely not written at a 7th grade level!  I learned so much and was able to refresh my memory on the rules as well.  Grammar Girl also has her own website with additional materials and detailed information. Even though I didn't consistently use these in my classes, I posted the link to my Edmodo account for students to access and use as a teaching resource, especially if they had been absent. I always tell students that the 10 or so minutes in the car listening to a podcast or studying electronic flashcards is powerful way to spend catching up on a class or reviewing for a test, and pod-casts are a great resource to facilitate the flipped classroom concept.

These are just a few of my favorite pod-casts.  My next goal would actually be to create my own podcast perhaps on the daily lesson.  I have about 12 minutes to teach 7th graders a concept each 43 minute period- the perfect length of time for a podcast.  I could alternate between videos and pod-casts to get my curriculum flipped.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Screen Cast - So Great!

I just got done making my first screen cast using Screenr.  All I can say, is "Wow! I wished I would have made this sooner." Last year, I had my students demonstrate how to get to a certain website, log in, and access information.  But, if I would have had a screen cast, my students could access this as many times as needed and throughout the year if need be.  The tutorial that I just completed is on how to access the online math text book.  Recently I assigned an assignment, and while I gave my students a hard copy, I wanted them to answer the questions online so that they could get immediate feedback plus appropriate activities to help them do their best on their first summative assessment.  Some of my students chose not to access this tool and they didn't have a good reason as to why.  Posting a video tutorial like this can help parents work with their child and making sure that they complete their assignment.  In my opinion, I don't think it leaves room for any excuses as to why they couldn't complete their assignment.  This is just another powerful way to flip certain elements of my classroom.  While my first attempt is not perfect, it has excited me to create more video tutorials.  Check back again for another one.

Friday, September 28, 2012

You Tube PlayLists

Today I had the opportunity to create my first YouTube Play List. I already collect videos and post them in the appropriate math unit on my class website: The play list is another way to curate videos in one collection.  Check out my YouTube Math Video Play list.