Thursday, March 27, 2014

NYC & Google Apps

This past weekend I had the absolute pleasure of spending Saturday with the most fun and energetic teachers at the Brooklyn College Academy in Brooklyn, New York. They were not only outstanding educators, but the friendliest and most helpful group ever! Thank you, thank you, Brooklyn friends for everything!

Another extra-special treat was to take my daughter, Ashlyn with me for a quick Mom/Daughter weekend in the Big Apple! While we were in Times Square Ashlyn got an email congratulating her on being accepted to her dream school the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University! Can you believe the timing? It was incredible! We saw Newsies and Pippin and loved them. We also got a very special, private backstage tour of Wicked. We even got to stand on the Wicked stage. Ashlyn was in heaven! Thank you, Laurie for making that happen!

Ok, now back to work.... While in Brooklyn,  I had lots of interesting conversations with different teachers about technology tools they were currently using. We had great discussions about the use of Google Docs/Google Drive. Big thanks to the lovely teacher that shared about the Google Docs App you are using for recording voice for providing students feedback. I hope this is the same app you showed me, if not, please let me know.

If you are using Google Docs/Google Drive with your students you can add more tools and resources to your documents by installing Google Apps. It is a simple process and you can find all kinds of things you may need to enrich student learning with these apps.

1. Go to your Google Drive account and click on Create, as if you were starting a new document. Look at the bottom of that window and click on Connect More Apps.

2. Browse the apps or use the search bar for something you need. Click on the apps to install them to your account.

3. Some apps will now appear in the Create menu options. Others will appear when you actually select an already created document. Just right click on the document and choose from the added apps.

Isn't that easy? Now you can have all kinds of helpful tools to make your documents and lessons more exciting! Here are a couple of Apps that you might like:

GeoGebra: An app for Geometry and Algebra work.

Kaizena: This app lets you annotate on a document and record voice comments. This is great for editing writing. You can type, write, and record your comments on the student's work. This is awesome! Thanks for sharing this with me, my lovely Brooklyn teacher friend!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Love New Tools

Just gotta share some of my latest finds with you. Hope you will like them as much as I do!

Winter may make us want to hibernate and get lazy, but in the classroom we have to get kids up and moving! The more activity we have, the more learning! This site was a true find recently when I was checking my Twitter feed. It is called Go Noodle. Hilarious name, but awesome concept. Here you will find videos to get your kids up and moving. Whether they are doing Zumba kids or deep breathing, you will find a brain break to help students focus. Couple of things about this website. First, you have to use a computer because it is Flash based. Sorry iPad folks. Second, there is a free version and a paid version. Great resources in the free version, but more obviously in the paid version. Set up a free account and give it a try!

 You probably know that I am a big fan of the app Write About This! I have used Write About This with different elementary grade levels and kids always love it. The concept is they select a photo and then write about the photo. In the app they can also record narration. This has worked great because students can either record their thoughts prior to writing or use the record feature to share their written work. 

Well, now the app creator has a new tool we can use with this same concept. Tell About This provides students with pictures to select, but instead of writing about the photo they record themselves telling about it. Can you say Speaking and Listening Common Core Aligned? Yeah! This is so handy for ELL/ESL students, special needs kids, shy students, or as a presentation tool. I am already jazzed about this one and hope you will use it soon also!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Book Worm

I am always on the lookout for new books to use in my lessons. Here are 3 I picked up recently and thought you might want to share with your students also.

 A Butterfly is Patient by Dianna Hutts Aston & Sylvia Long

Spring will arrive sometime. Be prepared with this beautifully illustrated and content filled picture book about butterflies.

All Hail the Chief! President's Day is the perfect time to read and share biographies. This newest biography, I am Abraham Lincoln, written by Brad Meltzer is a winner! Appropriate reading level for K-2nd. 

This next book is out of this world! Mousetronaut written by astronaut Mark Kelly is a perfect kick off to your space unit. Make sure to read the author's notes in the back to get an even better understanding of the story. 

Winter Olympics

USA! USA! Let's all cheer for the Olympics! The winter games are an excellent time to do some award winning learning! Here are some resources to help. 

1) NBC Learn: If you haven't checked out the new video series by NBC Learn you need to zip over there now. Students will learn about science, math, and engineering through several of the most popular winter sports. You won't look at the half pipe and figure skating the same after watching these. 

2) Visa 360 App: If you've ever wanted to be an Olympian now is your chance. This cool app lets you experience the view and movements of an Olympic athlete. You can ski downhill or dance on ice with this free app. 

3) TTJunior/Tween Tribune: Keep up with current events including the Olympic games through this online newspaper. 

4) Greg Tang Math Olympic Challenge: Make sure to join the fun with Greg Tang as he encourages kids to practice their math skills while competing for a chance to win some of his books!

5) Time for Kids Olympic Resources: News, activities, printables!

6) Olympic Videos, Sites, and More from Technology Rocks Seriously!: Love when lots of resources are all put together and easy to find. Technology Rocks Seriously does it again with this handy site full of Winter Games fun!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Shadow Puppet and More

If you are in the winter blahs, I have a couple of apps that just might perk you and your students up! These free and easy to use apps are not only fun, but can be used across the curriculum.

The first app is called Shadow Puppet! It is not anything like I thought it would be based on its name. This app helps your students to put together simple slide shows with narration. You can share and even download the finished products. I found it over winter break and can't stop thinking of all the ways we can use it in the classroom. Here is a simple one I created as an example: (I already apologize that my voice is not very exciting, but I was just giving it a try. Focus on the lovely pics! LOL )

 Ideas for Classroom Use:

  • All About Me Presentation
  • Share Writing or Project through Pictures of the Process
  • Demonstrate a Science or Math Concept
  • Use to Report on a Place, Historical Event, or Person
  • Share Personal Hobbies, Passions, Trips
  • What I Did Over the Summer or Winter Break
  • How To Presentations
Chatter Pix for Kids is the next app to make you smile! This rather novel app has you insert a picture and then record your voice. Your picture comes alive and talks! Kids will love this! It would remind you of Blabberize or even Voki, but you use your own photos. What a fun way to have students share information or even to use for Mother's Day to say sweet things about their mamas! Check this out: 


I made my Chatter Pix, then emailed it to myself. I downloaded it and then uploaded it to my blog. You can share your Chatter Pix through email, download it and send, or on social media. 
Ideas for Chatter Pix: 
  • Character of a Book Talks
  • Famous Person Talks
  • Teacher Gives Directions or Announcements
  • Have students make one to share at Open House or Parent Conferences with the student's thoughts about their own learning and goals for the next quarter!
  • End of the year memories!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Learn About Hawaii

This winter has been rough for so many of us. It is time to think happy thoughts and let our minds travel somewhere tropical and warm. Let your students escape the winter blahs also with a mini-unit on Hawaii! Here are some resources to get kids learning about volcanoes, sea turtles, and islands.

See Turtles: Site with lesson plans and information about sea turtles

Do Go News: Lots of articles, pictures, and videos about Hawaii!

Volcanoes: Weather Wiz Kids gives students all the facts on volcanoes and other weather related topics. 

Volcano Info: Games, facts, videos, pictures of Volcanoes

Go Hawaii: This site gives all the basic information about each of the Hawaiian islands


I got home from Hawaii this weekend and I had a package waiting for me. I was anxious to see how my latest creation turned out. I am happy to announce that I'm Over the Moon about my latest photo book! I love to make photo books for my family and friends. I have books for special vacations, holidays, and family yearbooks. I have used several companies in the past to create my books. I really like Shutterfly and Mixbook. But I have a new favorite... Blurb! I came across Blurb on Pinterest while looking for something else and I am so glad I did.

My 2013 Family Yearbook just came in and I am pleased as punch. My family says it is the best one I have ever made because the quality is superb! I enjoyed creating the photo book on Blurb because they have software you can load to your computer and you don't need the Internet to run the software. That was so nice because I didn't get bogged down uploading pictures. When I was finished it took just a few minutes to upload the finished book to their site and place my order. The production and delivery services were fast. I had my book within a week. Needless to say, I am already at work on several other photo book projects because I am so thrilled with the result.

Couple of notes about my family yearbooks or memory books I put together each year:

  • I like to put my book together from January to December. 
  • I use very little text and concentrate on using really meaningful pictures that tell our story for the year. 
  • During the year, I put my pictures in folders based on the months of the year and big events, this makes it easier to find pictures when I get ready to work on my book. However, it still takes a long time to select the right images. 
  • I select my pictures and save them into a folder just for the book. I create subfolders within that folder of pictures for each season of the year so it is easier to put pages together in order. 
Photo books are the perfect way to capture memories from the classroom also! Class books for field trips, concerts, yearbooks, etc. are fun for everyone to remember the learning that has taken place. Give Blurb a try. The pricing is very reasonable and the product is top quality.