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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- 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-’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?








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 😉


11 Jan

I tried out blabberize in my classroom a couple of months ago.  I had made “blabbers” several times, but had never had an idea of how to use them in the classroom.  Students were researching planets in reading class.  The other 5th grade teachers were having them write a paper.  I wanted to try something a little different.  So we blabberized them!

First each student was assigned a planet and had to research it.  Then they had to write a script speaking as though the were the planet.  They were required to give a certain number of facts in the script (although I can’t remember how many I said now).

Each student found an image of their assigned planet on Schools Clipart (a site paid for by our district). They then read the script into blabberize using microphones.

Here is one example of a finished product.

The students loved the project and used much more creativity than I would have thought. I would love to use blabberize again, have you used it in your classroom?  Do you have other ideas?

Wordle and Animoto in the Classroom

25 Jun

Last month a coworker asked if I would be a guest presenter at her daughter’s school.  Each child in this 3rd grade classroom had the opportunity to invite a guest.  I accepted the invitation, met with her daughter and we planned a presentation of animoto and wordle.  Two of my favorite tools.

We started with animoto.  Due to CIPA I couldn’t allow this group of students to create their own animoto videos, so we decided to do a class video.  I allowed my coworker’s daughter to choose the topic.  She chose rain forests.  I pulled up my account and typed rain forest into the search engine.  The students then took turns selecting images from the hundreds available.  I saved those images and we imported them into Animoto.   The video was created while the students worked on their next project- Wordle.

Our next project was wordle.  I have posted on wordle more than once.  It is one of my favorite tools to use with students.  They love using it, it is very simple and quick to explain, and they can customize to their hearts content.  Since they were down to their last few days of school, I gave them the topic of summer.  They creations they made were wonderful.  For 30 minutes, you could have heard a pin drop.

This is the one thing I love about technology.  Once the kids get into it, they become completely engaged.  I would love to hear how you have used either (or both) of these tools in your classroom.

Finding Balance

18 Jan

Technology has always been a love of mine.  Last year I began to really allow technology to infiltrate my life both personally and professionally.  I joined many social networks, twitter, facebook, and started this blog.  I began scouring the internet for the most valuable technology websites and resources for the classroom.  All of this computer time had some unintended consequences.

I began spending more time on the computer than with my kids.  I am a mom to three kids (2, 6, and 9).  One of my kids has some significant emotional and behavioral concerns.  His needs increased by a lot this fall,balance1 and I I needed to refocus my priorities. I stopped using the computer at home except to occasionally check email.  I neglected this blog, and most other social network outlets.

As I sat down to write some new year’s resolutions over the past few weeks, I realized that I need to continue with my “online life.”  I had taken more or less two months off and needed to get back into it.  In my position as a technology resource teacher, I need to stay on top of the latest tools and resources.  Twitter, my RSS feeds, facebook, and several message boards are the main source of professional development that I get.  If I completely neglect them as I have lately, I am not growing.

I need to find a balance.  I have not found that yet, and probably won’t for a while.  My blog and twitter posts will be sporadic, but not as sporadic as they have been lately.  I am going to be more diligent in posting about resources I am finding.  Einstein once said Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.”  While I have been at a standstill for a while now, I intend to keep moving and in doing so, find and maintain a balance.


28 Sep

This doesn’t really have anything to do with education or technology, but I’m blogging about it anyway!  This week I had the unfortunate opportunity to learn a very important and basic lesson.


Wednesday I was in a hurry.  Our team was having a little potluck lunch and I had to make something.  I ran down the stairs, not bothering to turn on the lights because I didn’t want to wake my 3 kids.   I got to the bottom of the staircase and missed the last step.  Now I swear some little elf came and took the step away during the night and then replaced it before my husband ran down to see why I was lying on the floor in tears, but hubby says not.   I spent much of the morning at the Dr’s office getting x-rays to learn that nothing was broken, but I had done a lot of soft tissue damage.  Ligaments, tendons, the connective tissue btween the two bones in my leg were all torn; possibly even my achilles tendon.  I have been on crutches since.  Not my idea of fun!

I have since learned my lesson.  I now turn on the lights before going down the stairs and I try not to rush down them (ok, this one isn’t hard since I can’t “rush” anywhere right now.)  I have learned all about stupid things people have done to injure themselves, of course nearly every story is about someone else.  Which leads me to believe everyone thinks this is an eqally stupid way to injure oneself.  Hey, what could I do?!??  The elf stole the step!!!  I swear!!