Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Summer Stuff


This summer is quite different for me. Usually I kick off the summer with a trip to the beach to relax and unwind. Not this year! I hit the ground running in June and have hardly stopped to take a breath. Here are a few reasons why summer is keeping me hopping.

1) Catching Up with Friends at Workshops
It has been so much fun to visit with great friends at different trainings/workshops throughout the last month. Teacher friends really are the best!!



2) Gearing Up for Vegas!
There is just nothing like Vegas in July when teachers take over the city! This year I will be seeing lots of great pals at the SDE National Conferences for Differentiated Instruction, Kindergarten, and First Grade. It is an exhausting, but energizing week for me. I plan to attend the Blogger Meet Up on Wednesday night and hope to see lots of you there as well! By the way, I have handouts for the sessions posted on the right hand side of the blog under the yellow banner that says,"Lori's Latest Links." I am adding more resources daily so keep checking in with me!



3) Books I Am Reading
There is nothing I enjoy more than reading a new book! This summer I am reading both fun and professional titles. I am diving deeper into writing instruction for older students and reviewing key concepts about reading for elementary students. I am also taking time to relax and get lost in a sweet, funny story.







4) Getting the Birdie Ready to Leave the Nest
Probably the hardest part of this summer, but most rewarding is helping my daughter prepare to go to college in the fall. We are buying cute dorm room decorations, towels, and bedding. I am filling out financial aid applications as quick as my fingers will type and we are cherishing every minute together as a family. Such a bittersweet time for all of us, but we are excited about our baby girl's new adventure!


5) NEW JOB!
As if we didn't have enough changes going on around our house, I have just taken a new position as the Coordinator for 21st Century Literacy for Springfield Public Schools. I just moved into my new office and haven't even had time to decorate it yet. It has been such a blessing to be able to travel all over the country and share ideas with teachers the last 3 years. What an awesome experience! I will continue to do workshops, conferences, and trainings throughout the year just not as many. This wonderful opportunity popped up and I had to take it because it involves the things I love most about teaching: Literacy, Technology, Teachers, and Students! I can't wait to share with all of you the new things I am working on and learning this year.

Love These!

Summer Time is the perfect time to check out new tech tools! We are more relaxed and have time to just play with some great apps/webtools for the classroom. I have some real winners for you today!


Shadow Puppet EDU: I've been sharing with you about the app Shadow Puppet since Christmas! I have loved using it with students to create videos. Just this week Shadow Puppet premiered the new Education version of their awesome app. Now you can not only add your own pictures, videos, music, and narration; but you can select pictures and animated gifs from a new gallery of resources from the Library of Congress, NASA, etc. Fantabulous!!! Download the free app now!


Biblionasium: Shout out to all my BOOK LOVERS! This website is perfect for you and your students. Biblionasium combines record keeping, student book recommendations, and guidance with book selections. The best part of this online reading community is that it is free! No more tracking down reading logs. Everything is done online to keep your students organized for independent reading. I know you are going to want to use it in the fall, so go now and setup your account. Your students will love talking about the books they are reading and getting recommendations and reviews from other students. Reading is going to come alive in your classroom this year!


Kahoot: This game based student response website is a HOOT! It is perfect because it doesn't matter what type of technology you are using in your classroom.. iPads, computers, Chromebooks, etc. It Works! Now your students can answer questions, play review games, and interact with your content in a fun and engaging way for FREE! I especially love it because it is colorful and much more eye catching than some of the other student response apps/sites/devices. Go to Get Kahoot to register and get started.

Newest Appleseeds Post


Here's my latest post for SDE's Appleseeds Blog:



Finding the balance between using technology and being unplugged has become a real challenge. We benefit so much from having tools to help us learn, create, curate, and communicate, sometimes it is easy to get distracted by our resources and miss the very best moments of life. Let me explain.
If my family had a mantra, it just might be, “Let’s Hit the Road!” We love to travel and take vacations. It doesn’t matter if it’s a beach, the mountains, or anywhere in between. We are always ready to explore. Recently, we took a weekend trip to Chicago, one of our favorite places. We visited the Bean, had our deep dish pizza, and made our way to check out life under the sea at the Shedd’s Aquarium.
An interesting conversation emerged within minutes of our peering into the water tanks filled with colorful fish and peculiar eels. My son, Austin, was the first to notice so many people snapping pictures of anything that seemed to move without much thought to what they were photographing. Austin stated that as much as he enjoyed taking pictures, the aquarium should be experienced without photos. He said the memories made would be stronger if you actually interacted with the exhibits, animals, etc. by observing and reading the information provided by the aquarium. We all agreed and we leisurely moved from room to room taking in the sites and chatting about the unusual critters we noticed. We had a very relaxed and enjoyable tour.
The next day we were watching the local news as we prepared to go back out into the city and a story caught all our attention. The newscaster was reporting on recent scientific studies that seem to show our brains will remember more in places like museums and zoos if we experience them with our own senses and not through the camera lens. When most people take pictures at events or new locations, the shots are usually random and without much understanding of what they are photographing. The argument can be made that we take those photos to remember things later, but the research goes on to show that the chances of us actually looking at all those random pictures are slim to none. So, my brilliant son was correct! We all felt a lot better about not having nearly as many pictures on our phones and cameras from our travels the day before. There is power in just living in the moment and creating our own memories without the worry of snapping pictures at every turn.
I believe we need to remember this idea in the classroom as well.  As we choose technology and digital tools, we want to balance them with hands on learning and rich discussions. We must live in the moment and have students experience learning with all their senses so that they will not only retain the information, but also create their own mental images of the content. It is certainly ok to snap a few pictures along the way. We just don’t want to miss something amazing while we are adjusting our cameras.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

June 19 Training


Photo Credit: Google Images: http://www.mattheweckert.com



Thursday, May 29, 2014

New SDE Blog: Appleseeds!


Now that it is summer, I hope you will have time to relax and catch up on some reading! Need a new blog to check out? Visit SDE's new blog called Appleseeds! The great thing about this blog is it has posts from lots of different people. You will find posts by familiar folks like myself, Laureen Reynolds, Ricky Mikelman, Jim Grant, etc.

Here is one of my recent posts from Appleseeds:

We all have things that we like to avoid or side step if at all possible. I personally put off exercise, and always take the easiest option available when it comes time to sweat. I just don’t get the appeal of the boot camp-type fitness programs some love when there are so many other happy things to do like go shopping. I am a fair weather athlete also, so you aren’t going to see me out running in a foot of snow or taking Zumba in a room without air conditioning. I will admit it. I tend to exercise in the manner in which I am most comfortable. I walk on my treadmill while watching Kathie Lee and Hoda and still do Dancing with the Oldies in my basement.
Technology integration is a lot like my exercise attitude for many educators. We avoid it if we can and we use the tools that make us comfortable. I can completely and totally understand this based on my attitude toward exercise. It is true that we are so busy that we don’t really have time to investigate and navigate new resources. Some of us don’t even use technology in our everyday lives very much at all, so it seems silly to make time for it in the classroom. The problem with avoiding or not using technology in our personal lives is that we really won’t understand how to integrate it into classrooms, or even why we should. The more we use technology tools to communicate, complete tasks, pursue our passions, etc. in our personal lives; the more the integration of those same tools will make sense to us in our instruction because we are living them out in our real world experiences.
Even though I cling to my favorite lazy girl activities when it comes to exercising, I have been pushing myself to explore new fitness worlds. I’ve found YouTube videos of sensible routines I can do without killing myself. I’ve come to look forward to my stretching and slowing down during Yoga and I will even finally jump around and sweat with that crazy intensive workout DVD my daughter loves so much. I have found that the more I try new things and make them part of my daily routine, the more I actually enjoy them and see a purpose for them in my busy life.
I encourage you to do the same with your technology skills. Stretch your muscles by using social media resources like Twitter or EduClipper to find new ideas for you classroom. Create picture collages of your darling children and puppies using the Pic Stitch or Pic Collage app. Make your own slideshows and videos using Animoto or Photo Peach to celebrate meaningful life events. The more we use technology tools in our personal lives, the more we will see the benefits of technology in our classrooms. The more I try to exercise, the more I understand the importance it serves. We must live some things in order to learn. Technology is best learned when we live it!

Updated Apps & New Stuff

Keeping your apps updated can be a real challenge, but it can be worth the hassle! With the latest updates of some of my favorites comes exciting new possibilities in the classroom.


Pic Collage Adds Video! You can make your collages even more engaging with adding a You Tube video that goes along with the theme of your photo collage. This is so much fun! Now when you click on the plus sign to add things to the collage, the menu includes Video. When you share the collage through email with someone, they will also see the video. So excited about this new feature!




Shadow Puppet Also Adds Video! In the last few months I have been raving about Shadow Puppet and their ease of use to put together a simple video with photos and your recorded narration. Now they have added a video option so you can insert both pictures and video. To make it even better, you can also add background music from iTunes or a small gallery of background music selections provided. These are fantastic additions to an already wonderful app!



Haiku Deck: Did you know that you can control your Haiku Deck presentation from your iPhone? Yep! Just install the Haiku Deck app on your phone and with a couple easy taps you sync your phone to your presentation and you can move your slides without touching your iPad. Lookin' techie now!



New App for You!
I came across a very simple, but pretty neat app called Stories on Stix. This is a story starter app for writing. You tap on Choose Sticks and the app randomly selects different Who, What, Where, When, Why, and Detail ideas for students to piece together in a creative writing story. I wouldn't use this all the time, but it would be great when kids are stuck and are out of their own topics. It could be used whole group as a writing warm up. It would also be a good one to use for teachers to think aloud before, during, and after writing. Students type their stories right on the app and can be shared!




Kids React to Old Computers

This video is getting quite the buzz this week! I loved watching kids react to an old Apple computer. Technology has certainly come a long way, baby!