Duplos- The New Word Tiles

13 Jun

I must say that the idea presented at FilthWizadry is brilliant! I can think of endless uses even in 5th grade! Guess I will be checking out the garage sales in order to fine them. I’m thinking that Legos might even work better for older kids. I think I may add this to my word wall practice!  Thanks for the suggestion FilthWizardry!


My Top 10 Tech Tools

12 Jun

I’ve been asked many times before “what are your top 10 technology tools for the classroom?”  So I have decided to answer that question here.  I have tried to include free resources, subscription resources, things gear directly to the students, some gear toward the teacher side of things.  I hope that you find a new resource or at least a new use for a resource you have tried in the past.  Here they are in no particular order.


10- http://edu.glogster.com/ I use this site for a variety of projects.  In the beginning of the year, students create an “All About Me” glog.  Later they research types of weather, the creat and “I Have a Dream” glog, and other short projects as time permits.  This is a free resource!

9- Flip Cams- we use these to create commercials about text features, practicing reading fluency, making a how-to video; the applications are endless!  The cost of a flip cam starts around $50, but prices vary widely so do a little research before hand.

8- Photostory– I love using photostory to retell a story.  I’ve had students make book trailers with photostory, and they turned out wonderfully!  Free download!

7- Discovery Education Streaming– I’m not sure I could teach without this resource!  It provides endless videos on every educational topic I can dream up.  I use it to introduce topics, show real life application of skills we are learning, and as a way to build background knowledge.  Discovery Streaming is a subscription service, so I am very grateful to my district for providing us with Discovery Streaming.

6- Clipart.com’s School Edition– LOVE this resource!  I use this daily to pull up photos for our vocabulary words, use the images for smartboard lessons, students use it for all of their projects, clipart for newsletters, the possibilities are endless!  This too is a subscription service provided by our district.

5- OneNote- OneNote comes within some of the Microsoft Office Suites.  Our school uses it for our staff notebook.  We have saved thousands of dollars using this as opposed to providing every staff member with a hard copy notebook.  We keep all of our data, staff documents, schedules, PD info, virtually everything in one place.  It is stored on our school server, so only current staff have access to it.  It provides easy access to anything we need/want without having to dig through pile of paper.  I also have a onenote notebook for my class.  I keep my lesson plans, student notes, parent notes, data, and all of the other documents I might need in my onenote.  It is FABULOUS!!  I do plan to start a notebook for my students this year as we now have individual student logins to our network.

4- LiveBinders is a new (free) tool that I am very excited to use in the coming year.  I have already started linking information my students will need for reading and class projects.  This is my summer project 🙂

3- Smartboard and SmartNotebook software- I use these all day everyday!  I can’t imagine teaching without them!  I could go into all kinds of detail, but I will save that for a future post.  Suffice it to say that if you don’t have one, beg, borrow, plead, write a grant do what it takes to get one!!

2- Delicious– Some people are partial to Diigo, but I am partial to delicious, probably mainly because I have built up a good network and several teachers at our building use the site.  Delicious is a social networking site that allows you to bookmark a site (stored online so you can see it from any computer) and share sites with colleagues and friends.  I have well over 1000 bookmarked sites and am able to refer back to them any time!

1- Vistaprint– I discovered vistaprint last summer through the Proteacher forums.  Vistaprint was created so that small businesses had a cheap way to custom print PR items.  Teachers all over the place have latched on to this cheap printing services to help customize their classrooms.  I have printed custom banners, posters, postcards, business cards, shirts, stamps, canvas bags, and countless other items for my classroom.  If you sign up for their email deals, you will be able to get in on some truly fabulous deals.  They constantly offer free items and reduced cost shipping.  Last summer I scored 40 items for only $25!!  I designed each item and it really made a huge impact in my classroom.  Here is a link to some of my creations.

I hope you have found these helpful!  What are your favorite technology tools?








10 Jun

I just discovered a fabulous new (t me) tool that I have already started using in preparation for next year.  LiveBinders is a way to create an online binder.  Much as you would clip things from a newspaper, cookbook, or magazine,  you can clip webpages, photos, or files and put them into a digital binder.  I have already started 2 binders:  Reading and Class Projects.  You can then share the url or embed the LiveBinder in your classroom website or blog.  I have included my reading LiveBinder below for you to see.


30 May

I have decided to revamp my site a bit.  My primary focus when I started the blog was technology.  Now that I am back in the classroom, there are many other topics near and dear to my heart.  I will not abandon technology- how could I, it’s a prominent part of my teaching, but I will broaden horizons a bit.  Hopefully this will also mean that I start updated the blog more than once a year 😉

Cute, Free Clipart

12 Jul
  • This site has really cute clipart!  The clipart is free for teachers and they have all kinds of themes to meet all of your needs.  Similar in style to DJ Inkers.  Did I mention it’s free???
  • tags: clipart graphics

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

To Friend or Not to Friend

6 Apr

“To friend or not to friend, that is the question.”  Shakespeare?  Ok, so I took a little liberty with Shakespeare’s quote. 

What am I even talking about?  Well Facebook of course!  I recently read an older post on One crazy teacher to another’s blog a post on friending your students on Facebook.  This is a dilemma to be sure!  I teach 5th grade which means my students are technically not old enough to have a Facebook account, but they do.  Should I friend them?

I am friends with several students from years past- I love reading about their struggles and triumphs in life as the approach the end of their K-12 education.  It is nice reliving the feelings of anxiety about prom or the big game (or test).

I am not concerned with my content being inappropriate for my students, my 10 yr old daughter is my “friend” so that keeps me in check!  I honestly don’t know that I have a sound rationale for not friending the few students who have asked.

Facebook would give me insight to their lives that I would not otherwise have.  Many people will post things on Facebook that they would never say in person- that would hold true for my students as well.

I have not yet decided for sure whether I will friend current students.  I am leaning more in that direction, they could always use and ally and role model in the cyber world, just as I am in their school world.

I would love to hear comments on this topic.  Have you friended students?  Why or why not?

Book Trailers

28 Mar

My 5th graders recently began making book trailers.  What is a book trailer you ask?  It is similar to a movie trailer- a short video that tries to get you to read a book.

We began this with group trailers.  I read The Gold Cadillac by Mildred D. Taylor to my class.  They worked in small groups of 2-3 to create a book trailer using Photo Story.  Students found photographs at Schools Clipart for their projects.  They then either used the music maker within Photo Story or music from FreePlay Music for their trailer.  We looked at examples of other trailers such as the one here and here.  Talked about the role of images and music in the trailer, and learned how to give enough information to hook a person, but not so much that it became boring or gave away the ending.  I have posted below a couple of examples from our class.

We are in the middle of creating individual trailers now.  I will post an update once the students finish those.

This project was a lot of fun and the students really got into it- even those kids who are virtually non-readers.  They all enjoyed reading the books, because they were thinking about how to turn it into a trailer.  I am so proud of how they are turning out!

I plan to share any comments left with the student, so if you are as impressed with their work as I was, please leave a comment.