Week 4

  • New Tool: First there were the little magnetic letters for kids to play with on the fridge, then there were magnetic words to create poems out of, and now there are virtual magnetic poems to create. Not just poems, either. You can create an entire virtual magnetic story on Kids’ Poetry Page. You choose which kit you want (Kids’ Kit, First Words, Best Friends, or Story Maker), choose which magnetic surface you want (fridge, white board, or locker), and start creating. Once your poem is finished, you can publish it online and/or email it out. This would be really fun to do whole group up on the Promethean Board or Interactive White Board because they kids can use the pen to drag the magnets over to where they want them. It could also be easily done individually on the computers. Though this seems to be created for younger students, middle and upper schoool students would also be able to use it to create great works of literature. You can email your poem or print it out after it has been published. Check out the poem I came up with:
  • Computer Tip: Ever saved a file on your computer and then forgotten where you saved it? I do that all the time. Well, there is an easier way to find that missing file than actually trying to remember what you did with it. Click on the start button (that’s the button on the bottom left corner of your screen) and type in the name of the document (you don’t have to have the whole name). Hopefully the file you are looking for will pop up. Unless you’ve forgotten what you named it…. Anyway, here’s a picture to help you out:

  • Relevant Article: This article is an amazing example of student-centered learning. It specifically reminds me of a project Ms. Kirbo and I wanted to do with her first graders last year. We (Ms. Kirbo and I) really, really, really wanted to write and perform a play with the students. Unfortunately–or rather, fortunately–they had other plans. Thus, the Kirboland Zoo was born. It was an eye opening experience to say the least. Check out this teacher’s story of his one great lesson this year.

Week 3

  • New tool: Blogging is one of the most basic Web 2.0 tools out there. Most people have read a blog (you’re reading one right now!) and more and more people are taking the leap into blogging themselves. Not only is blogging a great way to get kids writing, it is also helpful in teaching students about self-editing, peer reviewing, and digital citizenship. Kidblog.org was designed with teachers in mind. A teacher creates an account with his/her email address and then assigns usernames and passwords for each student in the class. You must be logged in to read or comment on the posts so there is no worry about outside people posting inappropriate comments. Our own Sarah Stephenson’s 2nd grade students have started their blogs this week. This is the link to it if you want to see the set up (remember, you won’t be able to read or comment on the posts but you can see the arrangement and recent activity). Sarah and I would be happy to share our thoughts and experiences so far if you would like to talk to us. Check out her 2nd graders blogging on the Mustang Minute here.


  • Computer Tip: Has your computer ever frozen on you? I know mine has. You can always turn your computer off and on again but there is another option you can try first. **Note: This tip is for a PC. If you have a Mac, check out this article** If your computer is frozen and you can make any application open or close, hit Ctrl Alt Delete (just like when you are starting up your computer). You should get a screen that looks like this

  or possibly like this   From here, click on Task Manager. You should get a screen that pops up and lists all of the applications you have running at the moment.

    Click on the application you were using when the computer froze and then click End Task. Keep doing this until your computer starts working again. If you’ve closed all the applications and it is still frozen, you’ll probably have to go ahead and restart your computer.

Week 2

1. New Tool: Blabberize is a free site that allows you to upload a picture and make it “talk”. Once a picture of an animal or person is uploaded, you outline its mouth and record yourself talking. While this site is kind of silly, I can see it being used in the classroom as a fun way to introduce a lesson or as a presentation tool to express student creativity. Here are some more lesson ideas from others. Check out my Cat in the Hat example here!

2. Computer Tip: Did you know that you can use shortcuts on your keyboard to do things you would normally do with your mouse? There are so many but here are a few for you to start with (this is for a PC–Macs may or may not have the same shortcuts):

CtrlA: This higlights everything on a page.

CtrlC: This copies whatever you have highlighted.

CtrlV: This pastes whatever you have copied.

CtrlX: This cuts whatever you have highlighted.

CtrlP: This prints the page.

CtrlF: This opens a box that allows you to type a word you are looking for on a page and it will search for it.

CtrlB: Bolds what is highlighted.

CtrlU: Underlines what is highlighted.

CtrlI: Italicizes what is highlighted.

3. Relevant article: Music can often change the mood of the entire class. It can wake up tired students, break up long stretches of work, or make something boring seem fun. I like to use music when teaching writing because it will often help students tap into emotions that they are trying to include in their writing. This article gives specific examples of how music has changed one classroom.

Week 1

1. New Tool: The first tool I’m going to share with you is called Flipsnack. Flipsnack is a free Web 2.0 tool that allows you to upload a PDF file and turn it into an online book. We have already started using it in Kindergarten and First Grade. Almost any file (Word, PPT, etc) can be saved as a PDF or you can scan student work on the scanner to make a PDF. Check out Ms. Kirbo’s book, The Purple Cow.

2. Computer Tip: Many times your internet will go out and you can’t figure out why. Most of our laptops have an internet button or switch somewhere on the keyboard that, when pushed or flicked, will connect or disconnect the signal to the internet. The button or switch usually has this picture next to or on it: . Look around your computer to see if you have a button or a switch. If you have a button, the light on it will probably be blue or green when it is turned on and yellow/orange or red when it is turned off. If you have a switch, when it is on you will not see any red. If you do see red, it is turned off. Come see me if you need help finding this on your laptop.

3. Relevant Article: We are coming up on the 10th anniversary of September 11th. I’m sure you are just like me in that you can remember exactly where you were and what you were doing when you found out about the first plane crashing into the WTC. My students came in to tell me that they heard that a plane crashed into the Civic Center so I looked out my window to see if I could see any smoke (I was working downtown at that point). When we didn’t see anything, we turned on the news and were able to watch everything in real time. Most of our students, though, weren’t even alive when 9/11 happened. Click here for an article that has some ideas for discussing the events of that day and honoring the men and women who lost their lives during the tragedy.