Robin Martin

Now that I have your attention…..

I found this site:
with sounds of nature from all around the world.

Use these:
-when students enter your room to get their attention
-as the background for student quiet time for reading
-as a writing prompt
-to have students identify what is happening in the sound recording
-to have students identify where it is happening
-during basic when you want students to be quiet and relaxed instead of noisy
-give them the assignment to find other nature sounds you could use
-at club time
-students can draw or create something that goes with the sounds
-in a presentation as your background music
-in a podcast and have students narrate what is happening
-in a video to accompany images of the nature sound
-when students are reading or working on a project
-to create some “relaxation” time in your classroom

SAMPLE: I found that clicking on the “More info” link plays better than the LISTEN button.

Nature sounds











Did you also know that Discovery has over 3000 sounds in their library as well? Here is a sample:

Loon – 



Robin Martin

Ever since we have implemented some portable devices and carts in our middle school the paper and toner budget has exploded. For a school grades 6-8 with 1100 students, we use over 380 cases of paper and over $12,000 in toner. It would have been higher, but our principal stopped purchasing toner at the end of the year. Look at your toner/paper usage over the past several years and see if it is up or down.

How do you model going paperless? We try by using Google Apps for Education to share documents, minutes of meetings and lesson plans. I use a digital calendar as well as digital photos and do not print them unless I order a book. If I need directions, I no longer print them, but I can “send” them to my car and pick them up with my in car navigation system. We use Google Forms to collect data, order teacher day lunches or faculty spirit wear. Some teachers are no longer creating posters, but using things like Glogster and now the new Board builder in DE.

Our school no longer prints report cards, monthly newsletters or special events. They are all sent electronically and posted on our web page. All lunch money information is electronic, as is our library card catalog, some curriculum supplements and minutes from curriculum or department meetings in our school. Our secretaries reuse discarded paper as passes, requests for materials and more.

Some of the English teachers use Google to share writing documents and they have a threaded conversation in the comments area with the student. There is also a way for a teacher to leave a voice comment on a Google Doc. Create a writing prompt here in DiscoveryEd. instead of paper!

Let’s model conservation for our students and colleagues. Read this blog post about a paperless classroom : Even though the is not active, you can scan through the older posts for some good ideas.

In addition to all of this, my pet peeve is recycling all of the used paper. I have seen maintenance people dump the recycle bins into the trash bin after school. But I’ll leave that for another day

What is your school doing and what do you do to reduce the amount of paper in your classroom?

Robin Martin

Women’s History Month has been celebrated since the 1980’s in honor of those that cleared a path for today’s young women.

Traditionally history has highlighted only a few women of our past including Susan B. Anthony, Madam Curie, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sally Ride, Sandra Day O’Connor, first ladies and a few others. Bringing more attention to the important women in our nations growth has been an primary cause for the National Women’s History Project.

The NWHP offers materials to help schools celebrate Women’s History Month. This year the theme is: Celebrating Women of

Character, Courage, and Commitment. There are honorees celebrated at a dinner and a celebration poster is produced for purchase. To see them and a biography of each one, click here. This site should be your first stop when searching for information on how to celebrate Women’s History Month.

Additionally you can do many things to add HERstory (not history) to your classroom. Let’s get started:

  1. There are over 480 resources in the DiscoveryEducation library of assets if you search for women/history. Be sure to use them!
  2. Whatever you are teaching find a way to interject a woman who contributed to that field.
  3. Create a bulletin board of famous women and have students choose one to add.
  4. Have your students suggest women they know who were important.
  5. After they make a suggestion, they can make a 1 minute biography to share with the class.
  6. Bring a current newspapers, magazines, newsletters and have students scour them for any women who have made positive impact on their community.
  7. Interview female teachers in the school to discover what contributions they have made to the school, their college, or community. Highlight them in a special edition of a school newsletter.
  8. Try to find mom’s, aunts, grandmothers of students or staff who have done something important and share their story.
  9. Make a video collage of the female winners of Oscars from this year. Label what their contribution was to the industry.
  10. Make a list of women’s firsts such as first women in space, first gold medal winner, first admiral, first governor, first senator, and more.
  11. If you have female politicians, have your class write them letters of appreciation.
  12. Let students debate which womens’ contribution was had the most impact on our country.
  13. Make a presentation with each student contributing a slide with a photo of their selected woman along with a very short biography. Keep this, and each year add more.
  14. Make a display of books in the library that are biographies of women.
  15. Create podcasts of student created biographies and use them in following years.

    Woman airplane pilot, Ruth Law, in her plane. IRC,  2005 . Image. Discovery Education. Web. 4 March 2014. .

    Woman airplane pilot, Ruth Law, in her plane. IRC, 2005 . Image.
    Discovery Education. Web. 4 March 2014. <>.

Oh yes we could make 100 or 200 ideas for Women’s History Month. Does your school do anything special? Every few years we have a Women’s History Day and ask teachers to dress and be a historical woman for the day. Students try to guess their personality based upon the costume, and some facts they tell.

Even if you do not have time for a big celebration, print a photo of someone your students ay not come in contact with and put her picture on your classroom door. Teach them about just ONE important female in our history. Leave a comment/suggestion of what can be done during Women’s History Month.


Robin Martin

Hawk Mountain was the first raptor sanctuary established in the world in 1934 by Rosalie Edge. her mission was to stop the shooting of birds of prey from the mountain top. Today there are many trails, bird count volunteers and education programs for the public to attend year round.

On Sunday, November 10, several PA DEN Stars gathered for  a chilly event. After meeting in the Visitor Center the group first stopped at a short class on raptor identification. We were able to view two birds up close as the instructor spoke about their special qualities. She had a red-shoulderd hawk as well as a small owl. Following the class we went on to the South Lookout for our first glimpse of the valley and range of mountains. The trail was very rocky with peaks of stone spread throughout the trail. Our Hawk Mt. leader Rob, talked us in to the “short cut” trail which was quite steep and rocky.

Arriving at the head of the red trail, we were in awe of the beautiful scenery

at the pinnacle. Two weeks earlier would have shown the splashing colors of autumn. Today there remained some deep red and many brown trees. We often took the blowing leaves as potential raptors, but binoculars proved otherwise.

All in all the mile and a half trail walk was moderate, the bird count while we were present was low ( 1 bald eagle, 1 goshhawk, 2 red shoulder hawks and a peregrine falcon) but improved later in the day.

If you are ever passing through Pennsylvania, it is worth the side-trip to stop here in the fall for a view of some of mother nature’s finest raptors.

Thank you to Diane Galm for organizing the adventure.


Robin Martin

Try something new for the start of school this year. Here are some suggested activities form some leaders in education. There are suggestions about seating assignments as well as thoughts for making new students feel at home in your room.

  1. Robert Byrne:
  2. Tom Barrett – 36 Ways to get to know your class better:
  3. Edudemic – 5 Ways to Make New STudents Feel Comfortable:
  4. Edgalaxy: 10 Great Classroom Ice Breakers:
  5. Larry Ferlazzo:
  6. Jerry Blumgarten – Cybraryman – Seating charts: and getting organized:  First day of school:
  7. Educational Technology and Mobile Learning:
  8. Teachers Pay Teachers:
  9. Larry Ferlazzo:
  10. Edutopia –
  11. Edutopia: You only get 1 first day:
    What message are we sending parents with first contact:
Explore each of the above sites in detail, as many of them have numerous links on the page. Tom Barrett’s page includes a crowd sourced selection of ideas. Add a page at the end and make a suggestion! But most of all have a great start of school and make it memorable for everyone, including you.

image from:

Robin Martin

Today is our first teacher day! So this will be a simple idea and not time consuming! I confess, I am a gamer. I have been obsessed with Angry Birds, Candy Crush, Solitaire, PopWords, Sunny Seeds, and Word Warp. I like puzzles that have a definitive goal and ending. My son likes FPS (first person shooter) games like Halo and BioShock. He also likes civilization building games. My daughter loves Sims and was quite addicted to ZooTycoon and RollerCoaster builder games. We all like games but different kinds of games.

When I was at the Games in Educaiton Seminar last week, Peggy Sheehy asked everyone to stand up. Her first question was for anyone who considered themselves a gamer to sit. Only 10 out of about 50 people sat down. Next she said if you play a game on your device or computer even Words with Friends, sit and about 3/4 of the room sat down. Following this she said sit down if you play board games and all but one lady was seated. Finally Peggy got her to sit by admitting she played card games. What is the point? There is a little part of people that likes a game for various reasons.

Last year I downloaded a game called DoodleJump because it had a good write up in a magazine. After failing to achieve the goal, I realized how many different science principles I had to know to progress. It was very subtle, but important to the game. Even without knowing those principles, the game helped me to learn them. Make the car have bigger wheels would be beneficial in one place and small wheels in another.

TanZen is a visual puzzle using tangram concepts to complete a puzzle. Again there is some thinking ahead, looking at remaining shapes. Good for visual thinking. UnBlock Me is the same as you try to get the little red block out of the puzzle. You need to think and plan ahead to move different side blocks.

Word games are plentiful as well. I like PopWords, WordWarp, Words with Friends and Hanging with Friends. It offers the opportunity to play against others online. You can invite someone else to challenge you. These are good for the classroom if students can challenge each other either in the same class or grade.

There are many number games like Sudoku, and Sunny Seeds. Both of which can be completed by students who can add or need practice adding.

Visual challenges include something like Logo Quiz or Dots. Logo quiz might be better for adults since many of the logos are probably not familiar to students. There is always the simple game of Shanghai or Mahjong. Just match the tiles to remove them from the screen.

These are a few of my favorite games I use to pass time. Games can be done as a group in your classroom. Problem solving as in pairs or small groups help others learn some of the thinking process of others. There are thousands of games in the iTunes store from which to choose for your classroom. These suggestions are just what I have been experiencing in games that I enjoy!

Robin Martin

If you have been following along then you will love today’s resource! By this point you should be working on creating a PLN, a Twitter account, a blog and more. The idea is to learn and contribute. Tom Barrett has produced a series of “Interesting Ways…” documents that are crowd sourced ideas. You will see what I mean when you open one.

I love that he created the document and encouraged others to contribute ideas so it remains a “living document” for everyone to use in their classroom. So the idea is not to create your own documents, but browse through Tom’s and add your idea to the end of the document.He has a collection of 39 different ideas that you can contribute to very easily. Choose one flip through it and find several ideas you can use in your classroom. I’m sure you will find many.

Use crowd sourcing in your school or classroom. Have students explore different websites for facts an create just ONE page of information. Use as a study guide. Each teacher on the staff can contribute one page to a crowd sourced document of ideas for team building in the classroom, or ideas for different science labs, writing ideas, book projects, or anything you want to share with others. So start your own crowd sourced document!

Robin Martin

I am not an expert geocacher. I am a novice and have only found about 15 caches over 4 years. Most of those were found at DENSI events. But I love being outdoors, searching for a goal and finding a prize. Geocaching is the largest cooperative game being played worldwide.

There are great resources out there for using geocaching in your classroom, school grounds or the community in general. If you are new to geocaching, I would strongly recommend you visit  This site is the manual for what to do, how to participate, plan an event or get involved in organizations that sponsor events.

After you have visited the above site and want to get started I have a few recommendations:
Purchase the app for your phone – it is cheaper ($10) than purchasing a navigation device ($100) If you decide you like geocaching, then explore different GPS devices you might want to have.
Create a Geocache name for yourself. When you look on the site you will see name of people who placed caches and names of those who find them. Be creative. Use your Twitter handle.
Look up some local caches to find first on the site above. You know your community and the lay of the land, so you may be more successful. There are 2 covered bridges within 3 miles of my home, so I started with the Chester County covered bridge tour!
Go with other helpers. You will laugh, be frustrated and cheer together!
Keep a little kit of things you might need: 2 pencils, 2 pens, a small tablet, garden gloves(some places are messy or filled with spiders), camera or phone with camera(document your find), a rag (you never know), and tissues.
Bring some small items to trade at the cache you find. If you take something, leave something. I have used little erasers in cute shapes, fast food toys, fun things you can find at a Dollar Store.

You can adapt geocaching for just about any subject of your curriculum. Our geography teachers created a scavenger hunt with geocaches within our school campus. At each station, there was a poster with 9 photos on it like in a tic-tac-toe chart. Each station had the photos in different boxes. So when the students went from place to place they had to write down which box the volcano was located, or the tundra, arctic, rainforest etc. When they return they check their answers on a large master board. They are given the waypoint of each location on paper before leaving the classroom.
This can be done creatively with different facts from whatever students are studying. THe point is to teach them about location, geolocation and following directions!

Additional resources:
Educaching: GPS Based Curriculum for Teachers -Includes standards aligned lesson plans.
Geocahing in 16 steps:
Explore resources on YouTube, Diigo or Google search for geocache
Review the different tab of information here:
GPS Lesson Plans –
DEN Guru Connie Mulligan’s resources for geocaching:
This blog post from 2011 still has good ideas:
This should be enough to get you started with geocaching. Within each of the above resources, you will see many links to other sites that will be helpful as well. Get out and enjoy nature!

Robin Martin

Does your school have a subscription to DiscoveryEducation? In years past our state of Pennsylvania paid for this resources for students and teachers to use in the classroom. That changed and now our Intermediate Unit coordinates the purchase of these services for schools. I cold write a blog post each day for a year and still not cover all of the ways the resources can be used in the classroom. Most people are aware of the fabulous videos and tech books produced by Discovery, but did you know there are many FREE resources that you can use and suggest to your parents as well?

When you arrive at look around at the links and resources suggested. There is no need to log in to access these great educational products. The categories include Administration, Teachers, Parents and Students. Each has activities designed for that group.

Contests are available for just about every age group and are found in the parent section. Review them early, as the deadlines which sneak up on you quickly!

If you want a unique puzzle or looking for some lesson plans, these are true tested by educators. Yo can’t miss with the different puzzle types you can create here. Have your students create something for your class as a homework assignment. Get them involved. On the puzzle page you will also find a link to subscribe to the DiscoveryEducation Newsletter. Take a look at the calendar of events on this page as well, sharing special events for the upcoming week/month so you can plan to coordinate it with your curriculum.

Need some time filler activity? Take a look at the Brain Boosters in the teacher section. There are over 100 ideas you can use with your students. There are so many resources available for free including the many excellent webinars you can watch from the comfort of your own sofa with slippers!

One of the BEST parts of DiscoveryEducation is the DEN or Discovery Education Network. Make this a first step in creating your PLN (professional learning network). Connect with other teachers across the US and other countries. By reading the ways to connect ( you can select which way you want to be professionally involved in furthering your knowledge.

So if you only have time to get involved in one professional group or activity, choose the DEN. You might just find an educator who is looking to connect with you and your classroom!

I know this post may be preaching to the choir, but share it with your educators who are NOT connected. Perhaps they might find a nugget of something they could use in their classroom.  Enjoy!

Robin Martin
Wikipedia explains augmented reality as
“…a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data… which the view of reality or real life is digitally modified”
Think of this as if you are looking at a flower and someone places a transparency in front of your eyes and on that is a large photo of a bug. AR adds a layer of information floating in another level. This is not to be confused with alternate reality which is considered like a parallel universe. Virtual reality is a computer simulated environment that mimics real world.
So how is it used? One new educational company has a deck of alphabet cards, when scanned a figure pops up from the card. The figure is on the card that correlates to the first letter of the word. So scanning the A card an alligator graphic might pop up. The new IKEA catalog has pages that can be scanned for additional information. One page offers an image of a sofa that you can move around your home to see if you like the fit before you buy it.
There are apps that I have seen used on an iPad to view AR created materials:
  1. Layar
  2. Aurasma
  3. AroundMe
  4. Acrossair
  5. FreshAir
  6. ThingLink
  7. IKEA Catalog 2013 app – scan certain pages to see furnishings come alive or videos about products.
  8. String – download the targets here to play:
  9. Aris – to create an adventure
  10. ZooBurst – for the PC to create pop-up style books – FREE
  11. NASA Spacecraft 3D – mixed reviews of moving robots and vehicles from NASA
  12. StarWalk – hold your device up to the sky and see constellations appear along with other sky info.
Sites for more information about Augmented Reality
  1. Flashcards for learning the alphabet:
  2. Imaginality:
  3. Augmented Reality videos:
  4. Cybraryman’s page of AR resources:
  5. TripWire Magazine offers 45 Brilliant Augmented Reality iPhone Apps
  6. Marco Tempest Magic of Augmented Reality as a TED talk.
  7. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore:      (
  8. Website iPhonness has 32 articles about Augmented Reality and how it is used on the iPhone
  9. 40 Best iPhone Augmented Reality apps:
  10. AR Expo in June:
  11. Two Guys and Some iPads –
  12. The Future of Tech:
  13. Kleinspiration blog:
  14. Wiki I created with more resources:
  15. – The Company is the first augmented reality software platform to connect universally with digital eyewear, smartphones and tablets, integrating multiple devices into one platform.
Applications to create Augmented Reality products
ARIS – to create an AR game:
This is so much more to AR than what is listed above. It is a changing technology daily! To stay focused on this topic is very difficult and time consuming. Just follow the link in #11, Two Guys and Some iPads! They are on the pulse of AR and using it in the classroom. Watch for their solar system app real soon.