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Professor Garfield: Comics Lab

  What it is: Professor Garfield: Comics Lab here students can write, assemble and print their own comic strips. The comic strips can even be saved on Professor Garfield. The Comics Lab allows students to develop creative writing skills while learning how to develop plots and story lines....

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Pinterest: My new obsession

Posted by admin | Posted in Classroom Management, collaboration, Create, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 01-08-2011

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What it is:  Pinterest is a new obsession of mine.  I signed up for the invite-only version a while ago but hadn’t done anything with the service since.  In between Reform Symposium sessions I wandered back on to check it out.  Wow. I know there are other tools out there that do what Pinterest do but none that are so immediately user friendly and visually appealing.  I am impressed and addicted.  Pinterest lets you “pin” things from around the web on virtual pin boards.  You can create as many boards as you want and share them with others.  Each time you pin something you can give it a description and tags if you want. Pinterest does the rest and automatically cites the source and provides a trail to get back to the original.  As a teacher I love Pinterest for pinning all of those great ideas I find around the web visually.  I can write a quick reminder to myself about what I was thinking when I pinned it or how I want to use the tool.   SO great!  A lot of times I come across some random craft or picture that spurs an idea for something I want to do for the classroom.  Because it isn’t a tech-tool or related to education it often gets lost.  Pinterest is helping me grab all of those ideas and keep them around so I actually put them to use.  Very nice.

How to integrate Pinterest into the classroom: Pinterest is a great way to organize yourself as a teacher.  Gather up all those ideas you see online and then share them with other teachers (who may or may not be Pinterest users…it really doesn’t matter).

Because you can share Pinterest boards with non-Pinterest users, this is a great way to share things with students.  The resource could be anything- pictures, a website, a video.  Create a board for every unit that you do and share those boards with students so that they can continue exploring and learning.

Students can use Pinterest too, invite young students to help build boards in a class Pinterest account.  Create a board for every letter of the alphabet and let students add pictures that they come across to the letter board that it matches.  Pinterest has a bookmark tool that you can put in your bookmark bar to make this as easy as one click!  Students can put their first name in the description so you (and other students) can keep track of who found what.  Like a year-long web scavenger hunt!

Older students can create their own Pinterest boards.  Pinterest would be a great place for them to collect images that they feel say something about them-an identity board.  These boards can be shared with others and added to all year.  Not only will you get to know your students better, but other students will find connections they didn’t know they had.

Pinterest is a nice visual way for students to share their web findings.  Pinterest even lets students decide if they want to be the only contributor to their board or if they want to open it up for collaboration so others can add their findings to the board.  Way cool.

I have two Pinterest boards that may be of interest to you, one is Classroom Inspiration where I am keeping ideas of things I want to do with students or for our classroom.  The other is School Design where I am collecting inspirational designs that I want to see in our school when we build our own building.

Tips: Right now Pinterest is an invitation only site.  You can sign up to receive an invitation (I received mine in about 10 min) or you can let me know you are interested in an invite and I can get you on the list.  See that? It is worth reading to the bottom of posts- VIP access! Leave a comment if you want an invite and be sure to use a real email address because that is how the invite gets to you.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Pinterest  your classroom!

Reform Symposium kickoff, prizes, iPad giveaway-what could be better? #RSCON3

Posted by admin | Posted in Reform Symposium Conference | Posted on 28-07-2011

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The countdown is over, tomorrow is the kick off to the Reform Symposium virtual conference!!  The virtual part of that name means that everyone is invited to attend, no matter where you are in the world, what time it is, or what you are wearing.  So, no excuses.

I’m doing one of the Keynotes tomorrow and I hope that some of you will stop by and cheer me on.  I love presenting in Elluminate and I also hate it.

Love:  I can wear my jammies, I can be cuddled up with my pups, I can interact with people from all over the world, no travelling.

Hate: I can’t actually SEE anyone so it is hard to tell if I am boring people to tears.  You can let me know I’m not by chatting and emoticoning during my Keynote.

As if the incredible line up of presenters and Keynotes wasn’t enough, we have prizes.  Check out this prize page for the lineup.  Even better? There is a Grand Prize.  It is GRAND. How would you like to win yourself an iPad 2 including a bunch of fabulous edu apps (including an app from yours truly)?  You would?  I thought so.  :)

I’m not quite finished with the great news…even if you don’t win that outstanding prize, you can be a part of creating an iPhone and iPad app by filling out a survey (this also happens to be the way you register for the prize).  The Reform Symposium is a worldwide community of educators who believe in the mission of authentic 21st century learning, and the exchange of ideas and resources. By filling out a 5 minute survey with your thoughts of teaching creativity, innovation, collaboration, empathy, citizenship, digital literacies and student assessment, we aim to publish your thoughts within a FREE Reform Symposium iPhone and iPad app and accompanying mini-site late August/early September. This survey will be available at the start of the Symposium and closes at the end of the last session on the 3rd day. (So please don’t start looking for the survey to fill out just yet.)

The fun starts tomorrow, join us for any or all of the days.

The app donated by me was actually an app that my brilliant husband @jtenkely created.  A digital version of pick up sticks…I’m only a little addicted. You can check it out in the app store here.  There is also a Classic version of Pickin’ Stix without all the fancy stick choices.



Ideas to Inspire

Posted by admin | Posted in Classroom Management, Grade Level, inspiration, professional development, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 27-07-2011

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What it is:  Ideas to Inspire has been a favorite of mine for years, it recently got a design boost that makes it even more useable!  Ideas to Inspire comes to us from @markw29, Mark invites teachers from around the world to share their inspiring ideas for using technology in the classroom.  These are pulled together as a presentation that teachers everywhere can benefit from.  Ideas to Inspire has a handy new filter tool that let’s you find the exact resources and ideas you are looking for easily.  Inspiring ideas include: Amazing art, A to Z of ITC, audio, books to engage boys, ideas for classroom blogging, games to enhance learning, creative geography, geography gaming, get to know your new class, GIS and GPS, Google forms, Google maps, Google search, ICT control and modelling, ICT in the early years, interesting images to use in the classroom, incredible science, inspiring writing, interactive math, Internet safety, iPad, iPod Touch, learning platforms, making your lessons ESL/EAL friendly, mobile phones, Moodle, netbooks, Nintendo DS and DSi, Non-tech strategies, ways to present Internet research, Prezi, Primary Pad, Purple Mash, QR Codes, student voice, super science investigations, super snow day activities, supporting math, supporting spelling, techy tips for non techy teachers, things to do with digital images, Twitter, using backchannels in the classroom, using video conferencing to support the use of quality texts, Wallwisher, webcams, web conferencing, Wii, wikis, Wordle, document cameras, supporting writing, search engines, marvelous music, interactive whiteboards, Google docs, ICT shopping list, creative curriculum topics, pocket video cameras, teaching reading comprehension, Voicethread, YouTube and (if you can believe it) more!

The new filter let’s you filter by curriculum linked presentations or interesting ways to use: hardware, software or online tools in the classroom.

This great resource is not to be missed!

How to integrate Ideas to Inspire into the classroom: Sometimes we could all use a little inspiration.  Ideas to Inspire is just the place to stop for some guaranteed inspiration! I love that the ideas shared on Ideas to Inspire are collected from classrooms and teachers around the world.  That tool you have been using forever in your classroom? Someone, somewhere has thought up a great new innovative way to use it in your classroom for learning!  Does not get better than that!

For those of you who are enjoying the last few weeks (gulp) of summer, be sure to stop by Ideas to Inspire while you have some time to be inspired and make plans for the upcoming school year.

Tips: Fair warning: this website will suck you right in and make you want to spend hours exploring. :)


Visual.ly- Infographics Galore!

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Art, Create, Evaluate, Geography, Government, History, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, web tools, Websites | Posted on 25-07-2011


What it is:  I am a geek for infographics. I love the way they convey ideas so clearly (especially for visual learners like me!).  Visual.ly is infographic geek heaven.  At Visual.ly you can search all the best infographics from the web in one convenient place.  Do you (or  your students) have infographics to share? Upload your infographics to Visual.ly and share them with others.  Visual.ly even has a lab where you can create your own infographics!  Way cool!  Right now the create feature is limited to a Twitter infographic.

How to integrate Visual.ly into the classroom: Visual.ly is a great place to find infographics on any subject.  Search infographics by subject or keyword.  Use infographics to introduce new concepts, to begin a research project (is the infographic accurate?) or for review.  Infographics are brilliant in the way that they help communicate complex ideas in a clear, compact and visually appealing way.

Visual.ly can help students better understand infographics so they can create their own.  Right now Visual.ly only has the option for creating a Twitter related infographic (see mine below).  This is great if your class has a Twitter account, students can see what their connections online look like (of course just part of the story!).  You don’t have to wait on Visual.ly to finish their creation tool, use Excel, Numbers, Pages, PowerPoint, Keynote, etc. to create your own infographics!  Any time data is involved (science, math, geography, economics, history, government) students can create an infographic to visualize the learning.  It would be fun to create a class infographic bulletin board for the first weeks of school.  Collect data about students and use picture, shapes, etc. to create a customized infographic.   If you do this, come back and share pictures!!

Tips: Because infographics are user-created, some may not be appropriate for all classrooms.  If your students are going to spend time on Visual.ly, make sure you preview first!

**By the way, Visual.ly if you are listening, it would be AWESOME if you had an education version!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Visual.ly in  your classroom!

#RSCON3 How a blog post and Twitter conversation started a school

Posted by admin | Posted in Reform Symposium Conference | Posted on 22-07-2011

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Today is Friday! The day elicits joy in and of itself but this Friday is a particularly exciting Friday because it means that we are exactly one week away from the Reform Symposium virtual conference!!  I’m excited for the learning and sharing in store for all of us next week.  If you aren’t familiar with the Reform Symposium check out my last post HERE or search the #RSCON3 hashtag on Twitter for all the latest buzz.

In the past I have only done the behind the scenes work as an organizer of the conference.  This year we had a last-minute shift in our Keynote presentations leaving one slot open.  I was honored when @ShellTerrell suggested that I take the spot and talk about the school I am starting.  I’m excited to share the journey with all of you and better get my tush in gear if I have any hope of being ready for that.  :)

I hope you will join me for my Keynote next Friday, July, 29 at 4:00pm MST (if you want to translate that into a different timezone you can choose that here.)  I’m looking forward to sharing Anastasis Academy with my PLN who played such a LARGE part in making it what it is.

I’m only a small part of this 3 day FREE conference, take a look at the presenter page and you will quickly understand why I was so honored to be asked to be a part of that group-greatness!

See you there!


One more thing- if you are interested in lending a helping hand during the conference, we are still in need of some moderators!  You can learn more about what is involved in moderating here.

Brown Sharpie: Mathematical Cartoons Inspired by Sharpie Fumes

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Blogs, Create, Math, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 21-07-2011

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What it is: Math geeks, eat your heart out…Brown Sharpie is for you!  I found Brown Sharpie by accident today as I was perusing the app store in iTunes.  Brown Sharpie is a collection of “mathematical cartoons inspired by sharpie fumes” drawn by Courtney Gibbons.  Gibbons is an aspiring mathematician and the cartoons were created as she completed her undergraduate and graduate degree.  Many of the cartoons reference higher math and may be too complex to use in the k-8 classroom.  There are a few here and there that could be used with younger students with a little explanation.  High school, college math students and math geeks are the main demographic for these cartoons. The cartoons are shared blog-style so you can search through them using the “next” and “previous” buttons or you can view by tags using the “view by…” word cloud in the right side bar.


How to integrate Brown Sharpie into the classroom: The Brown Sharpie cartoons would be a fun start to math class.  Put a cartoon up on a projector-connected computer each day for a little math humor to kick off class.  The cartoons will give you the opportunity to discuss current math topics as well as give an introduction to math concepts not yet touched on.

Why not hold your own Brown Sharpie day?  Give each student a brown fine-tipped sharpie to create their own math cartoons?  These can be shared on a class blog, website or wiki.  This will help your visual learners and artists think about math in a whole new way!  Students of any age can create a Brown Sharpie cartoon of their own!

In addition to the blog, Brown Sharpie is also a free app in the iTunes app store.

Tips: Some of the cartoons are PG-13 with alcohol or relationship references.  Best to preview the cartoon before displaying before your class. :)

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Brown Sharpie in  your classroom!

PBS Learning Media 14,000+ k-12 resources!

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 20-07-2011

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What it is: PBS Learning Media is a fabulous collection of 14,000+ resources that are separated by subject area.  The collection reminds me a lot of the popular Discovery Streaming with one big difference- the resources on PBS Learning Media are free to use!  Resources can be searched by grade level, media type (document, image, interactive or video), language (English, French, Spanish) and accessibility (caption, full mouse control, display, transcript).  Resources include great descriptions of the resource, the grade level appropriateness and the ability to add the resource to your favorites.  PBS Learning Media is a great stop for high quality resources that will meet the learning needs of your students.  Many of the resources have associated support materials for both students and teachers.

How to integrate PBS Learning Media into the classroom: The resources in PBS Learning Media are wonderful for all grade levels.  The site is easy to search and “favorite” so that the resources you need for your classroom are always at your finger tips.  PBS Learning Media is a great place to find videos that enrich learning in the classroom, can be used for anticipatory sets to introduce a concept or to illustrate a difficult concept.  The interactive resources are the high-quality games you find on the PBS and PBS Kids websites.  Some of the games are appropriate for an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer and played with the whole class, while others work well in a computer lab or computer center activity.

PBS Learning Media would make a good media center on classroom computers for students to explore areas of interest in learning, research and make connections in learning.

Tips: If you don’t already have a PBS account, register for a free account to gain access to more than 5 resources at a time. :)

Please leave a comment and share how you are using PBS Learning Media  your classroom!

Pegby: Online Collaborative Peg Board/Organizational tool

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Classroom Management, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 19-07-2011

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What it is: Pegby is a neat online organizational tool that has fantastic customization features.  With Pegby, students (and teachers) can share boards enabling them to collaborate with friends, family, coworkers and classmates.  Pegby is organized by a series of columns, students can decide on the number and organization of columns.  Columns can be easily expanded and collapsed so students can focus on exactly the columns they need at any given moment.  Students (and teachers) can add cards to each column.  The cards look just like a 3×5 note card and can include a title, content, tags, attachments, a due date and color coding.  Note cards can be dragged from one column to the next, shared with others or added to a stack of cards.  Students can filter all of their cards by tags to find exactly the cards they are looking for when they need them!  Pegby lets you have multiple boards so you can organize life to your heart’s content.  A Pegby board can be downloaded as a .yaml file (not familiar with that file extension, it is a unix executable file.)

How to integrate Pegby into the classroom: Pegby is one of those tools that I get totally geeked out about.  I love the 3×5 note card look, the columns, the tagging, the associated calendar dates.  A recipe for edu-love I tell ya!  Pegby is a great tool for organizing your teacher self this year.  Add ideas for the school year, tasks, lesson plans, to-do items, etc. to your board as cards.  Create columns that make sense to you and organize to your heart’s content!  Want one better?  Share your board with colleagues so that you are all on the same page and can share lessons/resources/task responsibilities.

Older students can keep their school year organized by adding assignments, tasks, uploading work, taking/keeping notes and sharing their board with Pegby.  As students work on and complete tasks, they can move items from one column to the next.  Those unit tests won’t be a problem because they can tag pertinent information and easily study and review tagged information.

Pegby would also be a great tool for organizing research projects (even collaborative research projects).  Students can decide how they want to organize their research and notes, tag information and attach documents.  All of the research is in one place and tagged for easy reference when it comes time to compile the research.  Pegby could be a useful tool for students attending college classes online.

Does your school use standards to keep track of learning?  Why not create columns of Standards headings, and associate each standard with a note card?  Students can upload any files or work associated with the standard.  OR instead of making each column a standard heading, columns can be associated with mastery level of the standard.  As a student moves through levels of mastery, they can move that standard card from one column to the next making stacks out of the standard subject.  Students can keep track of their own learning, share their “Standards” board with teachers and parents.

Is your class collaborating with other classrooms? Create a collaboration board where all involved classes can organize a project together.

For younger students, create a class Pegby that can be accessed on an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  The Pegby can be added to and organized as a whole class.  Make Pegby updater one of your classroom jobs that happens first thing every morning.  Each student will have the chance to be in control of the board throughout the year and all students will benefit from observing and helping organize the day.  (Something we don’t model enough for kids in my humble opinion!)

Tips: Pegby does require a verified email account for access!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Pegby in your classroom!

History Buff: Primary source newspapers, historic panoramas, audio

Posted by admin | Posted in Evaluate, History, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 18-07-2011

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What it is: I’ll admit it, when it comes to websites, I’m a judge-a-book-by-it’s-cover kind of gal.  If the website isn’t user-friendly and visually appealing it is an almost guaranteed skip for me.  History Buff is one of those forgettable websites. It isn’t overly visually appealing, it isn’t even really obvious how to get started.  I nearly skipped it.  History Buff has something going for it though: thousands of primary source newspaper made available digitally.  Students can search through newspapers from the 1700 all the way until 2004 and see the scanned version of it digitally.  I have to admit, it is pretty cool to be able to “hold” history in your hands that way.  To interact with the “actual” newspaper is pretty neat…worth the lack luster of the site even.  To search for articles, students just need to  choose a time period folder, choose a subfolder and go to exploring these primary source documents.  History Buff also boasts historic panoramas.  Students can view a virtual tour of Colonial America, the Henry Clay Ashland Estate, the William Henry Harrison Homestead, Daniel Boons gravesite, Davy Crockett’s childhood home, Anna Jarvis Home, the site that marked the end of the Civil War, historic sites for Abraham Lincoln, the national historic site for James Garfield, the William McKinley monument, the birthplace of Thomas Edison, Warren G. Harding’s Tomb, and the homestead of William Howard Taft.  A reference library on History Buff contains articles and audio on a variety of events and even hoaxes in the news. Students can also find facts about any state and interactive quizzes.

How to integrate History Buff into the classroom: History Buff is a website that can help history come to life through story, virtual tours, audio and primary source news papers.  I suspect that most students fall into the judge-a-site-by-it’s-cover category like me.  For this reason, if I was using it in my classroom, I wouldn’t send students directly to the website to do a lot of digging on their own.  Instead, I might direct them to the portion of the site I knew we would be using through a classroom website, wiki, blog or use a Weblist or Symbaloo to link to them.  It is amazing how changing something as small as the entry point into a site can change a students attitude about the site (heck, I’m like that too!).

Once I got into History Buff, I really appreciated the connection to primary sources and the way that the “actual” newspapers bring history to life.  I REALLY liked the hoaxes in news section and suspect that students will get a kick out of it to.  Your kids will be asking, how can people be SO gullible?  These kinds of stories are wonderful discussion starters and will make students think critically about their own news media.  As a fun extension, have your students write their own hoax news stories.

Okay, now for demystifying the navigation of this site. See the itty bitty brown words in the left sidebar that are all squished together? That is the navigation. For real.  I didn’t notice it at first either!  Go ahead and click on one to test it out…not so bad when you know what you are looking for, right? Right.  For your convenience, I’m linking to each page of the site below so you can easily find what you are looking for.  :)

Tips: History Buff has a newsletter you can subscribe to if you are, you know, a history buff.  Just enter your email in that box under the header and click “subscribe” and you are on your  way to becoming even history buffier…or something like that.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using History Buff in your classroom!

Automatoon: Create HTML5 animations

Posted by admin | Posted in Create, History, iPod, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, web tools, Websites | Posted on 13-07-2011

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What it is: Oh. My. Word.  I’m slowly but surely making my way through my Google Reader and stumbled on a post by @rmbyrne on his EXCELLENT blog Free Tech 4 Teachers about Automatoon.  I immediately started playing with Automatoon and cannot say enough about how COOL it is!  Automatoon makes it simple for students (or teachers) to create animations within a web browser.  My very favorite part? It was built-in HTML5!! Do you know what that means? It works on iDevices (like the iPad and iPod touch).  A non-flash animations site! Pure genius.  This is one of the easiest animation programs I have seen.  Students can draw characters in pieces (kind of like a puppet or paper doll) and then create points where the pieces connect.  The drawings can animate by moving, bending or adding pieces to the picture.  SO cool!  After watching the demo video, I think even young students could have Automatoon mastered in no time.  The tools built into Automatoon are pretty robust for what a simple program it is to use.  Your students will look like animation masters, bringing their creations to life.  When students are finished creating their animations, they can download them as a zip file to be uploaded to any site.  There are two ways to login, students can login with a “throwaway” login that will not save their animation (but will let them create and download a quick animation) or login with a Google account.  This is fantastic for schools that take advantage of Google apps for education!

How to integrate Automatoon into the classroom: Kids of all ages love cartoons and animations, Automatoon gives them the tools to be the creator of those cartoon animations.  Students can create animations to animate processes in science (think the water cycle, plant life cycle, rock cycle, etc.), vocabulary words (in either native language or a second language), animate a piece of creative writing, animate a persuasive argument (think advertisement), animate a “book report”, animate solving a math problem, animate a story problem or animate an event in history.  The possibilities are really endless on this one, students will only be limited by their imaginations.

Automatoon is easy enough to use that with a little pre-planning, students could create animations in 5-10 minutes.  This is handy for those situations where you have one or two computers in the classroom or a limited time in a computer lab.  After learning how to use Automatoon, students can quickly create animations to illustrate learning.  Automatoon is a FANTASTIC little tool for your visual learners…they will “get” it.

Are your students having a hard time understanding a math or science concept or a vocabulary word?  Why not create an animation that illustrates the concept/word and share it on an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer?  The animation can be saved on the classroom website so that students can go back and access it throughout the year.

If you have a classroom website or wiki you could create a classroom animation collection.  Students can upload their creations to the class site for a great collection of learning.  It would be neat to animate sight words (Snapwords style), math or science vocabulary and create a visual “glossary” online that all of your students have contributed to.  Classes can add to it every year or you can work with other classes around the world to create a collaborative glossary.  This would also be a great tool to aid students in creating their own “e-textbooks” about any subject.  Students can create animations to embed in their other research, reflections and links.

Way cool.

Tips: Be sure to watch the intro video (above) to get a 5 minute low down on how to use Automatoon…very useful!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Automatoon in your classroom!

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