Week 7

**Sorry for the late update! Being sick for a week really throws my schedule off!**

  • New Tool: Some great tools we’ve been using for a long time in math are math manipulatives. You can now find virtual math manipulatives online. On Math Playground you can find everything from pattern blocks to geometry boards to fraction scales. All of these can be shown up on your IWB and manipulated using the pen or wand. This could be done as a whole class activity or as a center. This website could be used by all grade levels and could be given for students to use at home for extra help.
  • Computer Tip: The new version of Microsoft Windows that we have on our computers has a neat function called Snipping Tool. If you go down to your Start menu and type Snipping Tool in the finder, it will come up. This tool allows you to quickly capture a shot from your screen.  Like this:


  • This can be helpful if you need to copy what is on your screen and paste it on a document for students or parents to see. This is also helpful when trying to explain to your IT department what exactly your computer is trying to tell you. Just snip a shot of the error message (or whatever is wrong) and paste it into an email to send. Here is a link to a tutorial about how to use Snipping Tool.
  • Relevant Article: With our first MVPS Twitter chat under our belts, I thought I’d give you guys a few resources to use to try to figure this whole Twitter thing out. This first one is a slide show that is a quick tutorial of Twitter. This next article is an explanation of what a Twitter chat is and why so many educators are using it. The third article is an explanation of what hashtags (#) are and how they are used. And, lastly, we have Katie’s wonderful explanation of how to participate in our future chats (How to Participate in a Twitter MVPS Chat).  I hope this all makes Twitter just a little easier for you to understand.

Week 6

  • New Tool: Voki is a free Web 2.0 tool that allows you to create a talking avatar. Start by choosing your character (either from the choices they have or by uploading your own pictures) then add sound. You can type in words and pick a voice or you can record yourself talking. You will then get a link to share your Voki with others. This would be great as a presentation tool for students to use or for teachers to use to share information with students. You could even create a Voki to put at a computer center in class for students to hear instructions. Here is how Angela Johnson is using Vokis in her Spanish classroom.


  • Computer Tip: Having trouble reading the small text when you are on a website? There are two ways you can change that. In the bottom right corner of your screen, you should see a number next to a magnifying glass and an arrow. If you click the arrow you can change the amount of zoom on your screen to make the whole screen bigger. If you just want the text on a website to appear a little bigger, go up to View on your Menu toolbar and choose Text Size. Change it to the largest size.


Week 5

  • New Tool: Making a Jeopardy game is a fun way to review lessons but can sometimes be too time consuming to create when using tools such as PowerPoint. Jeopardy Labs allows you to easily make Jeopardy games online. They even have a bank of already created games that you browse through. This video tutorial shows you how to use the site. Wouldn’t it be fun to see a Mount Vernon Jeopardy game for the 40th anniversary? Hint hint… 


  • Computer Tip: Here is an easy way to look at two open windows at the same time. When you right click on the taskbar at the bottom of the screen, you will see the options to Show Windows Side By Side or Show Windows Stacked (one at the top of the screen and one at the bottom of the screen). You might want to do this if you need to compare the two screens or if you need to type on one while looking at the other. This will save you from having to click on each screen one at a time.

  • Relevant Article: I started to post a different article this week, but I read this one last week and can’t get it out of my mind. As a librarian, I am always trying to find ways to get kids to love to read. I think that James Patterson (one of my favorite authors of adult and kids books) says it best when he says that if we want kids (especially boys) to love reading, we have to encourage them to read what they want to read. Not only encourage–praise them. Even if it isn’t something we think has “literary merit.”  Sports Illustrated, Guinness Book of World Records, comic books–if they are reading something, I’m happy. I know that there will be times when kids will have to read a book for a school assignment but how much of their reading time is being taken up by reading books that they don’t want to read? Are there times when we can take away assigning a required text and instead assign a theme? That way they get more choice in the book they are reading but still hit on the concepts we are trying to teach them. Also, how often are we modeling reading for pleasure for our students? When we have silent reading time, are we reading also? Do we talk about the books we are reading with our students? How might these changes impact our students?  This article is really good and it gives some great websites for finding books (especially for boys) so if you have 3 minutes, check it out.