Archive for January, 2012

Inspired by Another.

Posted: January 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

A fellow CPS teacher, Matthew Murphy, created a killer-diller video discussing how to combat the shrinking tech budgets and to boot, the video made me giggle multiple times. Hee-hee.

One line he used was based off an old saying “You go to war with the army you have not the army you want.” Matt stated “You go to class with the school you have not the school you want”.

It was a bit like a kick in the backside, I mean how many of us have said “Oh I could totally integrate technology into my classroom if I had 35 iPads or if everyone of my kids had laptops or if they all have internet access at home….” but ya know, it isn’t always possible and may not ever be possible in the schools in which we teach. So where does that leave us? pining away for gadgets and pouting until we do – reverting to using nothing but poster boards for projects and 5 year old textbooks? No! I say no! We look around within our schools, see what we have and take the keyboard by the homerow. Hee Haw!

For me. In my classroom, I will dispose of all my pens except 5 and nothing but a pile of ‘just in case’ index cards. I

shall retire my copier code (my copier code was passed around the teachers like lip gloss is pass between the 7th grade girls anyway .. so no big loss). I shall put out a call to my teachers to decrease their allotted copies.. yeah that might not go over so well..but a girl can try.

Maybe an incentive? iTunes gift card? Extra planning period, sponsored by moi? Just. might. work.

Thanks for the inspiration, Matt, but  dap nabbit.. I do wish for about 125 more iPads in my school next year. Grrrrr.


Many of us who have iPads in the classrooms are finding such amazing ways to change our teaching. Old ideas being elevated and new ideas blossoming with the help of these tools. The 3rd grade teachers at Tarkington are no exception.

There are numerous recording apps and some of the best ones are free as bird, which of course we teachers love a dove (two feathered friend references in one sentence… niiice). Back to business.

We have been using the recording apps for a variety of tasks. Some of our bi-lingual students can vocalize but are still struggling with the written word, so they are recording their essay responses. Some are using it to record math concepts they have to memorize and developing their own study guides and so on…

But here is the one that gets a gold star.

Our 3rd graders have an affection for run-ons. I mean who really needs periods or commas anyway? Duh. Even still they do make reading go a bit more smoothly. Just a bit. During writer’s workshop as the editing process begins, the students have a chance to record their work. As they listen back, they are instructed to pay attention for when they take a breathe, when they do it is a very good indication that there should be a punctuation mark there.

Such a simple way to aide in the proofreading process, instead of the students just staring at the words and saying “I’m done.”

Now. I am done.

As I followed the CES in Vegas via numerous blogs and podcasts it brought me back to a thought that often runs through my head …Are there any brand new ideas anymore. I mean the creation of the wheel.. yes totally new idea but was it, really, I mean there was a circle before that? Right? Ok the lightbulb. See. New idea. But in fact there was the sunlight and candles. Perhaps everything is just an evolution. A build upon, something greater than what was, a one up.

But gosh golly if every time I look at a Doodle Google, I think now that is clever. Taking the simple 4 letters, two repeated and create magic. Designs that evoke laughter and thought and mystery and a curiosity ultimately leading to a new bit of knowledge. Many of my students knew about SOPA the next day in class, wanna know how?

I am fairly certain, I just heard someone say “yes”.

The dang black box over the word Google. Simple gesture caused them to sit up, take notice and become aware.

Even if I am not using the actual Google page as I don’t very often anymore, I do admire it and often visit the gallery just to oodle the

doodles. I often think they would make excellent leaping off points for a student’s research project. I mean do you know who Park Wan-suh is? I didn’t until

Let’s not forget the Doodle 4 Google contest is once again open!

A good Web 2.0 just makes me giddy and Montage is no different. After spending sometime on debating if introducing this to the students was a bit of “cheating” when it came to internet research and I definitively decided – Nope. Maybe a little but just because we can walk everywhere doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t drive.

Down to business, the Web 2.0 app, Montage is basically a feeder, but it works via topic rather than site and you don’t need to subscribe for any length of time to receive results. 

Now teacher’s are supposed to know EVERYTHING right? Well we did at one time when they used to supply teacher manuals a decade ago. For now we might have to freshen up on a topic we are teaching or research some new developments. And here arrives Montage.  Perfect way to gather all the latest and greatest on a topic.

After choosing a topic as I did – Internet Usage – the app seeks out recent posts about the topic and you have a layout of summaries from the topic. Bam! Here ya go…. The Internet! 

Impressed yet? I will hit you with another, you can edit each section, choose a different news post or even a different image…if it is a person you can have the their twitter tags running along the side.. Now I bet you are thinking of how you can incorporate this into your class.

  • Set up a page of research for your students to use so they are not just spending out -not- finding “anything” on the web as they explore a topic.
  • Discover current info about an author or any topic.
  • Use it as an assessment tool for older students (yes it requires a login but alas we just have to work around it like an abundance of Web 2.0 apps)
  • Fresh up your own knowledge.
  • Help your 8 year old research the Ray Emery, goalie for the Blackhawk, oh wait no that is WHAT I am using it for this evening.

Because no one is awake at my house and none are my friends are awake and I just found something so uber cool and .. and *looks around* and I have no one to share it with, Helloooo Blog.

Looking through my feeds I came across an app that I can not waaaaaait to get on all my student’s iPads and I can not waaaait to hear the reactions from my teachers.

Have a I pumped it up enough? Huh Huh? Alright so it is called  Pic Collage. And it is sold for the bargain price of $0.00. The ideas of how it can be used are literally falling out of my ears right now. In Reading to summarize a book, to explode post-its, to design a character profile. Or as a way of self expression, creating an all about me page at the start of the year and make a new one at the end of the year to compare changes and learning growth. The fact that my 3rd graders can complete research in such a seamless manner, just yay! Here even is a class who uses it for Math Review. And to see what my teachers will drum up… Eeee!! (Two exclamations, even).

Basically, opening up a new page you insert a photo. A photo which you can take on the fly or one from the library, blah blah that is nothing new and thrilling. But here is the super nifty feature, especially for the younger set, is the “Photos from the Web” choice. I had expected it to bounce me to Safari where I would have to use Google Images, which always leds the students down some path of distraction. But did I go to Safari? Nooo..No Siree Bob. It was just a dandy pop up search window (still in the app, mind you) and I typed in “Tiger” up came pictures, choose one, and I went to add text.

Just. So. Gonna Work.

Check it. Enjoy. I am actually mildly disappointed we are off Monday. *cough cough* I am sure Tuesday is going to be a great school day!