To blog…or not?

January 6th, 2009

I started the school year with lots of enthusiasm and good intentions for maintaining my blog. After all, I had been recharged this summer at the DEN Institute. Alas, intentions quickly gave way to grades, parent conferences, and the need for sleep. As the year 2009 begins… Okay, a week into 2009, I am contemplating my blogging engine. Do I keep my DEN blog? Do I start a separate blog for the 265 picture challenge? Do I start a separate blog for myself and the pictures? As of now, I haven’t really decided what to do. I’ll let you know when I do.

Free Rice Expands

September 14th, 2008

Free Rice has long been a favorite mind builder of mine. I could have said time waster but I figure it builds my vocabulary so it is a good thing. Besides, building your brain is healthy. The exciting news is that now you can help feed the world and expand your mind in many ways beyond vocabulary. The new freerice has multiplication, geography, grammar, chemistry, art, and even foreign language appliscations. So, don’t just sit there. Get learning!

Have You Stopped Cheating on Your Taxes?

August 19th, 2008

     When I was little and would use some statistics to argue a point my father’s favorite reply was, “Figures lie and liars figure.” It took me many years before I really understood what he meant. There is a great article in this month’s Language Arts, NCTE Journal for elementary teachers, Learning to Read the Numbers: A Critical Orientation toward Statistics. Phyllis Whitin and David J. Whitin write about literacy in today’s data – driven world. They argue that literacy involves understanding what data counts and what to ignore.  They point out that if numbers are not analyzed and challenged, one set of data becomes as reliable as another.  In their conclusion Whitin and Whitin assert that “Teachers can play a key role in helping children to develop a healthy skepticism toward numerical information.”

                As a fourth grade teacher I guide my students in showing numerical information in a variety of ways. We use bar graphs, pie charts, and line plots. I teach them the importance of labels and titles. After reading this article, I realize I need to do more with getting my students to question data and to experiment with different representations.

PB Wiki

August 15th, 2008

 PBWikis just announced a great new resource for educators: classroom accounts for students without email accounts. Now you can easily include your K-8 students in a wiki without the worry of an email account.If you don’t already have or use a wiki, now is the perfect time to start!!

What can you do with a wiki?


  •  have students create and share book reviews
  •  a poetry Wiki and a picture book Wiki
  •   book reports on their pbwiki
  •  post research work and projects
  •  as a resource which parents can access
  • Check out PBWiki’s Daily Peanut Educator’s Corner for more great tips and ideas.

    Thanks to adinasullivan and cliotech for the head’s up on this great new resource!


    21st Century Learning – Back to School List

    August 11th, 2008

    As we head back to another school year I wonder what people have asked their students to bring. What tools do you consider necessary? My students will be bringing marble notebooks, pencils, and rulers. I also asked my students to have a flash drive and parent permission slip to blog. Check out what tools some colleagues think are important for the 21st century learner.

    21st cl

    Is Your Wiki Widgetized?

    August 7th, 2008

    Thanks to Jen Dorman and the CB (Central Bucks) workshop this week my wiki is well on its way to being widgetized. Unfortunately, the computer lab was slow due to summer upgrades. So, I haven’t been able to actually add the widgets to my class wiki. I am going to add a grazr widget with links to my DEN blog, quizlet  for flashcards, and GCast  to start. For more great Web 2.0 tools check, or . Happy widgetizing!

    DEN Mid-Atlantic Regional

    August 5th, 2008

    Thanks to Jen Dorman for this leak to the presentations shared in Long Branch.

    The Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference

    August 2nd, 2008

    Or, just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water. (Cue “Jaws” music.) Discovery Education (courtesy of MA’s own Geeky Bird Matt) put on another fantastic day of collaboration, food, prizes, professional development, and did I mention food and prizes!?!
    Mid-Atlantic Regional 3Leadership Council member, Jen Dorman, gave a fantastic presentation on building a better builder. She demonstrated lots of great ways to use the builders to differentiate your quizzes and assignments. I especially liked the idea of embedding various widgets such as: VoiceThread, YouTube, swivel, blabberize, polldaddy, and into the assignment. Thanks also to Jen for the head’s up that Voki now has some less than appropriate ads placed on their (and your) creations.
    Beverly demonstrated the many uses of photostory, moviemaker, and adobe premiere elements for digital storytelling. I especially liked her suggestion of having each student do one slide at the beginning of the year as an “about the author” for all year. Also, I will definitely take everyone’s picture in front of the green screen that first week. Great time saver idea.

    Other people attended break-out sessions on Personal Learning Networks and Power Point. So many great ideas and so little time. We wrapped up the day by signing Matt’s posters on one great thing we learned ( Only one, Matt?), one thing we wanted to learn more about, and our ideas/wishes for webinars. Then, it was off to dinner outside the mansion at Monmouth University, pictures with the bride and groom, and a few more ideas shared….Check Matt’s Blog for personalizing closed caption videos and even for creating captions for videos without them. Looking forward to some working time tomorrow!

    Vocabulary – Literacy – and the Digital Native

    July 28th, 2008

    Interesting article shared by Jen Dorman this morning from NYT .  I know, as an elementary , (primary and intermediate) vocabulary is a strong indicator of reading strength. The Report of the National Reading Panel  (2000), for example, concluded ” the importance of vocabulary knowledge in the development of reading skills. As early as 1924, researchers noted that growth in reading power relies on continuous growth in word knowledge.The more words a child knows (uses & recognizes) the better they read.” (pp. 4-15).  Through wide independent reading, students come in contact with more literary vocabulary than they ever could or would through spoken conversations. Unfortunately this becomes a vicious cycle affecting the weaker students. The more the students read, the more vocabulary they learn, the less a student reads, the farther behind she falls. My questions are this:

    Do children who are computer literate but no so literate in the world of text acquire as much new vocabulary as the textually literate? Does it matter?

    Would love to hear your thoughts on this.

    Keep Watch for The Comet’s Tale!

    July 24th, 2008

    We had a great sneak peek today of a new Discovery show, The Comet’s Tale.  Producer John  Grassie, who incidentally was just nominated for an Emmy for Human Body,


    introduced us to this cool new show. Good luck John! The videos and graphics were incredible! We had a chance to share our perspectives, as educators, for “backing students into” more difficult content.  How cool is that?!! Someone asked and listened to educator’s opinions. I just love Discovery….Boom de yada!