Archive for the 'Pennsylvania' Category

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.
Robin Martin

Chrome has become my browser of choice for the past year. I like the way it looks and how I can personalize it. Did you know that there are many Chrome apps and extensions that can help you work and play more efficiently?

When you open Chrome, open a new blank tab and look at the bottom of the screen. You should see “most visited”, “apps”, “other devices” “recently closed and “web store”. Let’s explore the web store.

There are hundreds and soon to grow to thousands of apps and extensions sorted by categories, but we will begin with searching the Education category.

  1. Wouldn’t it be nice to leave voice comments on a document, rather than a written comment? Well you can, with the app “voice comments”. You can open documents with voice, record comments and share them with your students. This way you can place emphasis on the words you choose and they will hear it in your voice! This video will give you an idea on how to use voice comments
  2. PicMonkey is a simple way to edit images or create a collage.
  3. InstaGrok – This is a visual type of dictionary that connects words, video and websites. Try it by typing in excalibur and see the results. Click on any of the connecting circles to see more results.
  4. Pixton – This is a comic maker. Use it to create a scene to explain a scientific process or have two characters from a book talk to each other about the plot.
  5. 3D – This is a 3D creating app. Students can play and explore how to make something curriculum related.
  6. StudyBlue – Flashcard apps are plentiful. StudyBlue will let you share your stack with other students in the same class.
  7. BrainPop Featured Movie – This is a back connection to the BrainPop site and the free movie a day. This might be a good reminder to see what they are featuring each day.
  8. Feedly – Since GoogleReader has been discontinued, Feedly has become a popular way for people to curate their blogs into one readable format.
  9. Used to play video with included notes. Add notes and it attaches the note to the specific time in the video. Can replay the video from the point in the notes by clicking.

This is a short script that adds some functionality to your browser. You can see which extensions are installed because they place an icon on the right side of your browser bar. By clicking on the extension, you have a shortcut to a process. For example, if I click on the extension for GoogleApps, it will take me right to my calendar. There is a number that overlays on my calendar that tells me how many new items I need to check.

  1. – a URL shortener – This will take those very long URL and shorten it to about 10 characters. While shortening, it will also generate a QR Code if you want it.
  2. Ginger – spelling and grammar checker
  3. Pinterest – clip interesting things directly to your Pinterest account.
  4. Diigo – a bookmark curation extension to collect sites and their URL.
  5. Other sites with GoogleApps and Extensions information.
  6. Review of apps and extensions:
  7. Chrome apps organized by grade level:

You can change the look of your Chrome browser with different themes. Once you open the Chrome Store, look at the bottom of the left column for Themes. You can choose from many styles of colors, designs and artists. Enjoy the fun and change often!

Chrome Web Store






Robin Martin

What are those crazy little black square anyway? Now you see them in magazines, newspapers, grocery stores and even on a billboard! Quick Response Codes were created for the auto industry in Japan, and have bee adopted by many businesses as a new means of communication. The blocks are much like the bar code we commonly see on packaging and hides information that can be a photo, video, image or audio message.

Why to we need them? More information can be stored in this type of image than a simple bar code. For example:

  • Create a welcome video of yourself, put it on a wiki. Create a QRCode (more info below) that will go right to that video when the code is scanned! Great for “Sneak-a-Peak” or Open House for parent to learn a bit about you.
  • A QRCode can be on a book as a book review for others to see a video or text that students or teachers have created.
  • Science teachers have made QRCodes for each station of a lab. Students scan the code to see the directions.
  • In a magazine a company places a QRCode with a celebrity endorsement of the product and  a link to a coupon!
  • QRCodes in a grocery store can be scanned for recipe information, nutritional information or cookbook of ideas how to prepare the food.
  • Museums are using QRCodes at different exhibits to add an audio file so you can listen to someone telling more about the items on display.
  • Create a scavenger hunt around your classroom or school with the QRCodes scaning to videos that students have made or posters about your content.

The real first step begins by creating the content you want people to see when they scan the code. Decide what the code will reveal. Will it be a text document to download, an audio recording that will play when scanned, you get to chose. Take a look at this site as a qrcode generator: On the left side of the page you can select what type of data will be revealed when you scan the code you create. There are so many choices from websites, to a PayPal purchase link! This site takes you through the process step by step.
So let’s create one together.

  1. Here is a video about how to cut a mango: That will be our target. Copy the URL.
  2. Go to and select YouTube video on the left side in step 1.
  3. Now in Step 2, in the Video ID box type “How to cut a mango”
  4. In the Video URL, put the URL or web address of the video (see above YouTube address).
  5. Click in the circle “Embed URL into code as-is”
  6. Step 3 allows you to select the foreground color of your QRCode. I would suggest using a color that is not too light as it is sometimes difficult to scan correctly. Click in the color box to select a color.
  7. Finally you will see a preview of your code and under that preview is a download button. Download the code and print it out in a size that will fit on a 3 x 5 card. Too big (8 x 11) might be too pixelated to work properly too.
  8. Print the code and post it in your classroom for people to scan.

You can scan a qrcode with an app for any device including a computer. If not sure what to use, look it up on Google to find one and install it. I use  “Scan” on my iPhone and iPad mini and “QRJournal” for my laptop/desktop. One of the features I like about these apps is the way it keeps each code, so I can go back the revisit a site another day.

Now go back and scan that code for the mango video and you should be taken directly to that site. Look for these codes in the newspaper and scan a few to see how the media uses the codes to promote products, then you can use codes to promote learning!

Once you master the creating of qrcodes, try some of these ideas to make codes different colors, or that have graphics included as a part of the code!
My resources are here: on my diigo account. The links include lesson ideas, how to make codes with graphics and creative uses on YouTube. Help yourself.