Sunday, August 8, 2010


#11 The tool I enjoyed the most was creating a Photo Story. I was surprised how easy it was to create one. The kids could pick it up very quickly and share their knowledge with others. We could let the kids do the teaching! One lesson that popped up in my head was a unit on Heroes. In second grade they do a heroes study. The kids could create a photo story with great pictures of the people we are studying. Once they take control of their learning the knowledge really sticks. Plus they would love to share their work with their peers.

This experience has transformed my thinking about technology by making me bite the bullet and explore what it has to offer. I sometimes have difficulty with change because I want to stay in my comfort zone. This has allowed me to come out of my technolgy shell and explore.

One unexpected outcome was that I should not fear technology but embrace it. I now have a solid platform to really explore and learn. After all, this is the future of education.

#10 Almost There

Whew! I am glad I know a little about this one. I have had the opportunity to play with my itouch a little this summer and have really enjoyed it. Some of the free apps I have added are:
Dragon Dictation, Baby Flash Cards, German Tutor and iRewards.
Dragon Dictation does require a small microphone and lets the kids dictate into the iTouch and the app writes out what you are saying. I have found that a lot of the kids mumble and so the dictation can be off on a lot of words.
Baby Flash cards is just a simple vocabulary app I tested on my 13 month old. It shows pictures of foods, animals, colors, etc. A little too young yet to get much out of it but I can see the bebfits for babies and kiddos a little older.
German Tutor is an app that teaches basic German vocabulary and phrases. I am German and I used to be pretty fluent. However, I am so rusty from lack of use that I have forgotton so much. This is a great refresher course and I have used it with my 6 year old, who is just beginning to learn some of the language. The apps also come in Spanish, French, and many more!
I know the kids love the hands on appeal of the itouches and it is a great motivator!
I cannot wait to see it in action this year.

Tool #9

#9, #9, #9
I had heard people were getting viruses from Jing, so I stayed away from that one for now and just focused on Skype.
Skype would be a great way to get kids to interact with one another across the country and globe. You could have online book clubs, weather talk, take and virtual field trips.
Personally I would love to experiment with an online book club. I love reading and often times when I finish a book I have a lot of questions I would love to discuss. I can only imagine how involved the kids would get, especially with popular book series like Diary of Wimpy Kid and Harry Potter. Kids could have amazing discussions about how they interpret and connect with the stories. And, it is not limited to a grade level or reading level!
I will definitely try to implement this in my personal and professional life.
Tool #8
I am using You Tube to embed two videos from School House Rock. These songs will help my kiddos remember the information through song. The ones I chose were " How a Bill Becomes a Law" to help with 5th grade government objectives. It is a simple retell that the kids can understand.

The second one I chose was Naughty Number 9. This video helps students remember the tricks to remember multiplication of the 9's through song. I remember this from when I was a kid. The tricks they give you are great and the kids will remember them!

Tool #7

Creating a Photo Story
This is a great tool for the kids to research and play with new information. I can see kids using this to research and share with their peers.
I created a Photo Story of the teachers at Meadow Wood. A lot of our special Ed students have autism and short and long term memory issues. This photo story would provide a visual to the all the new teachers and office staff they will encounter throughout the year. They will be able to put a name to a face and hopefully get to know MWE!!
Here it is:

Tool #6

Tool #6
Wikis are a new idea for me. I really did not know what they were until now!
I looked through some sample wikis and found one called Grade One Classroom Wiki.
Students created a story and used it to share and collaborate with other first grade classrooms. Here is the link below:
I also thought you could create one for special ed teachers when you have a student that you need to collaboarte about: For example, without naming names, describe the kiddo and ask for suggestions from your colleagues. I always get ideas from my peers, someone always sees a way to think outside the box or in a way I never would have thought.


Tool #5
I browsed Diigo and Delicious for resources to use in my special education tool box. I found 2 great resources that offer tips, tools, links and resources for kids and teachers in special education. It will be a quick reference when we need to try a new idea pr strategy with our challenging kiddos.
The two I have included were: 100 Useful Tool for Special Education Students and Educators and Do2Learn: Educational Resources for Special Needs Students

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Seven Search Engines for Students

Seven Search Engines for Students: "A major concern that teachers, parents, librarians, and school administrators have whenever their students search for information on the Internet is having the students stumble across inappropriate materials. One way to alleviate that fear is to create your own search engine using Google Custom Search, but that could become very time-consuming. Another option is to have students use search engines intended for academic and or child use. Here are seven search engines for students of all ages.

Sweet Search is a search engine that searches only the sites that have been reviewed and approved by a team of librarians, teachers, and research experts. In all there are 35,000 websites that have been reviewed and approved by Sweet Search. In addition to the general search engine, Sweet Search offers five niche search engines. The niche search engines are for Social Studies, Biographies, SweetSites (organized by grade and subject area), School Librarians, and Sweet Search 4 Me (for elementary school students).

KidRex is a new kid-safe search engine powered by Google custom search. KidRex uses a combination of Google's safe search mode and their own database of filtered keywords, phrases, and websites. In the event that a questionable website does get past the filters, KidRex has a site removal request form.

Ref Seek is a search engine designed for academic use. Ref Seek seems to eliminate the advertising and paid links found on Google, Ask, Yahoo, and other commercial search engines. Ref Seek's intention is to serve only search results that are academic in nature. The difference between Ref Seek and a generic Google search lies lower than the top results in search returns. As you compare search results between Ref Seek and Google you will find that the second and third pages of search results on Ref Seek contain results that seem to be more 'academic' than what is found on the second and third pages of a generic Google search.

Famhoo is another option for kid friendly searches. Famhoo draws on the collective results of the major search mainstream search engines like Google, AOL, and Yahoo. Famhoo simply provides a stricter family filter than the filters available on mainstream search engines.

Ask Kids is the kid friendly, kid safe version of the popular search engine Ask Kids is divided into five categories of which one is a general search option. The five categories are School House, movies, games, images, and video. The School House category provides students with suggested topics and links to resources for those topics. The School House also serves as a general search tool. In the other search categories Ask Kids makes suggestions for search refinement. A great aspect of the search results that Ask Kids provides is the option to refine searches based on a student's age.

Wolfram Alpha is billed as a computational search engine and this is exactly what it does. If students have any questions involving numbers, Wolfram Alpha is the place to go. Wolfram Alpha can be used for other searches, but it's not nearly as useful for general inquiries as it is for computational questions.

Google Scholar is one of Google's lesser-known tools. Google Scholar is a search engine designed to search scholarly journals, Supreme Court records, and patent records. In some cases the results will link to abstracts of books and articles that you will then have to obtain from a library or book retailer. In other cases results will link to fully viewable documents.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Beyond Google - Improve Your Search Results
Mashpedia - The Real-time Encyclopedia
Wolfram Alpha for Educators - Free Lesson Plans


Positively Influencing Behavior Challenges With ADHD Students

Positively Influencing Behavior Challenges With ADHD Students: "No matter where an educator teaches, behavior management is essential. Unique strategies should be adopted when dealing with ADHD and ADD diagnosed students"

Tool #4

Tool #4
I have finally finished this tool. In Google Docs I created a modified rubric for writing. A lot of our special education students need to be graded on a different scale based on their IEP goals and needs. It is not fair to grade them with their peers when they are reading and writing on a grade levels way below where they should be. This rubric allows me, the special ed teacher, as well as the regular education teacher to grade their writing on their abilities. It is also a great tool for parents to see what they are accomplishing in their writing as well as documentation for their IEP goals.
I then subscribed to several news sites on Google Reader. They included: NPR, which is a great source for current events and it has audio for those that have difficulty reading higher levels. Plus I get to keep up with current events myself. Suite 101 which has articals related to special education. Free Technology for Teachers provideds free resources, lesson plans for technology in teaching. This will help me keep up with the current trends in the tech world.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tricky Tool #4

Okay, maybe I am tired but I am having a hard time figuring this one out. How do you get the Google Doc on your blog? I tried several of the gadget buttons but it would not add the link. I did create a great writing rubric from Google Docs and it was soooo easy. I just do not know how to get it on my blog. Argggg!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tool #3

Today I have created 2 samples of images. I posted both on my blog.
First, I created a trading card with the site: Big Huge Labs, using my son's picture (he loved it, but was a bit embarassed). In class the possibilities are endless. You could create trading cards of animals, famous people, characters in books, vocabulary words etc.

Secondly, I used Image Chef to create a word image. This would be fun to use with poetry and vocabulary. A student could research a word and use the image that best fits that word. It could also be used at the beginning of school to create name tags.

I tried to use the cartoon strip but could not figure out how to place it on my blog. Plus it was not the whole strip just one section. I might play with that one some more. My students would love to write their own text to cartoons!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Tool #2 PLN

I beleive the philosophy of the personal learning network is grand. I totally agree with the notion that we must collaborate with one another to address problems and build on ideas in teaching. New learning must provide reflection on the process of learning so that we can support the needs of our students. I am excited to become a part of this new journey in collaboration.

I added 6 blogs to my page:
Cool Cat Teacher
Always Learning
MWE Purple Martins
A Chat with Mary

A few points from the comments on the Always Learning blog I found interesting were
I totally agree that sitting around talking with fellow teachers and learning from those discussions is the highlight of workshops. That interactive discussion where we are allowed to share ideas and experiences in very valuable and more fun.

I also agree that in the age of technology if you do not "use it, you lose it". There have been many times when I am so gung ho about what I have learned in a technology workshop and then gone back to reality: paperwork, my kids, lesson planning, etc that I feel the wind has been taken out of my sail. It must take a strong commitment to yourself to use the tools immediately in the classroom. It will be hard to do but well worth it.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Tool #1

I have just started my first "tool" for the course and it was not that bad. The kids are in bed, so I can really start to use my brain again. Starting the Blog page was pretty painless. The hardest part was finding a title. I added a section on a few books I have read this summer. I also added the Avatar which was fun to create. I love having an English accent. Time for bed!