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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

I have heard of this site before, but really did not have any ideas about how to use it. After attending workshop with Jim Gates, he shared some fun ideas for any classroom. WA is a mix of search engine and computation. If you wanted to know how much caffeine was in tea the search would respond with a page full of information about general tea for 12 ounces, how it is compared to other foods, and minerals that might be found in tea. Change it to green tea and see the difference. Look up the calories in a candy bar, then compare two different candy bars and you will see nutritional information about each one.

It is a wealth of information right at your fingertips and is FREE. Yes you can get much the same information on Google or Bing, but WA provides more information that you didn’t ask for, but applies to your search. To get a better idea, visit this page: and see some samples of searches. Find something you can use to kick off a lesson or end a lesson. Give your students some bizarre fact that can be memorable. Here are some categories that Wolfram Alpha offers some data:
Assign your students the task of creating some comparison searches. There are hundreds of ways you use this comparison information in a math lesson too!
Robin Martin

For each of the days of August I will share some simple ideas you can use in your classroom. Try them before school begins so you have time to explore all of the ways you can integrate these skills into early lessons.

Where do you keep your bookmarks? On your school computer or your home computer? What if you need a bookmark and you are not in one of those places? There are so many different ways you can keep your bookmarks online so that can be accessed from any computer or device connected to the Internet. Let’s explore a few.

The most visual way I have found to share your bookmarks is through This is a site that allows you to add an icon to a button that takes you to the designated site. The buttons can be organized by topic, by tabs. There are good learning tools and videos to help you create your Symbaloo. You may want a tab for SharkWeek, one for Photography skills, or whatever you may be studying. There are many samples you can view or subscribe to, here is a sample of a Symbaloo I created as a start page for some school computers at our school:

Another visual way to keep and share bookmarks is through a site called This actually adds the title and an image from the page you are bookmarking, along with a bit of text to tease the viewer. You can organize by tag, but with this service, I bookmark by topic. I have a general for interesting web ideas:  another one for good photography links: and one scoop for recipes: There are thousands of scoops you can follow and even suggest a link for that person to add to the scoop. This also has a button you can add to your browser that makes it easy to curate.

Diigo or Delicious? There is a debate about which service is better, but actually both have excellent merits. First choose one and create an account. Then look for a little script button that you can add to  your browser. This is what makes it easy to curate different web links. But the real powerful part of saving so many bookmarks is to be sure and “tag” the bookmarks. Tagging is simply the process of identifying key words that are meaningful to that link. If I bookmark the site for the Grand Canyon I might use tags like; geology NPS or National Park, science or Arizona. A bookmark for a lesson for using Scratch programming in the classroom might have the tags; programming, scratch, lessons, lessonplans. You make the tags whatever is meaningful for you.

Google has a bookmark extension you can install in your browser. It will crete a small button that you can click when you want to save a bookmark. Again, use tags to organize them. Of course you need a Google account to do this and that is free. More information can be found here:

More sites to consider are:, Weave (Add-on) for Firefox,, There are so many more, so please add a comment if you use anything different. But if you do not currently have a bookmark keeper, pick one and get started!

Robin Martin

Copyright Symbol from

For each of the days of August I will share some simple ideas you can use in your classroom. Try them before school begins so you have time to explore all of the ways you can integrate these skills into early lessons.

Although this does not require a project for students, knowledge of copyright infringement is important for everyone. Today’s teen does not see a problem with creating a music mix CD of songs they have in their iTunes account and giving them to friends. Actually most people think that if they own the music they can remix or burn it and give it away. That is not the case and is a violation of copyright law.

Showing a video you rent without the proper license is highly illegal too. As teachers we need to know what is legal and what is not. We must teach our students in every class about proper use and citations of information. This is not a job just for the language arts teachers, it is the responsibility of al teachers. Model proper behavior and cite your sources for anything you use or put up on the board in your classroom. In any presentation, have a citation page at the end so students see you have done the proper thing with citing your work.

A few tips her will help you stay compliant:
  1. Cite EVERYTHING you use, including text, facts, photos, images, video and music.
  2. Print this chart and post in your classroom (yes it is allowed!);
  3. Share what you learn with your students and the teacher next to you.
  4. To show a video you rent legally, option a license from this site: This will cover your school 24/7 or any video performance. The license is for a school.
  5. This is from Robert Byrne’s blog, “Free Tech 4 Teachers” at  It is a review of the site Copyright on Campus and is worth your review.  Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include—

    (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; 
    (2) the nature of the copyrighted work; 
    (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and 
    (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. 

    The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

Resources to review:
  1. The Media Education Lab – from the University of Rhode Island has curriculum resources for K-12.
  2. This presentation was created by Wed Fryer and offers many good suggestions for teachers:
  3. I have collected over 60 sites which contain information about Fair Use, copyright, intellectual property and more.
  4. A very cute video that follows copyright law by using Disney fairy tales:
  5. Creative Commons License – to protect your own intellectual property, read this site!
  6. Don’t forget all of the great resources you can find in DiscoveryEducation library as well. But remember they are exclusive to subscribers to DE services and may not be redistributed.
Robin Martin

I would classify Edmodo as an online communication tool for a group of people. That group can be teachers, teacher/students/parents, a social group, grade level or department. Using Edmodo can be a substitute for a face-to-face meeting or eliminate off task activity. As a part of DiscoveryEducation Network, I have used Edmodo in our Summer Institute for organization, planning and communication with others.

When using it with a school, the set up begins by applying for a district account. Someone needs to be the designee for your district, then you can have them set up your school’s account. All schools do not need to be participating or involved to set up your account. There are a few videos on YouTube to step you through the process.

Now to begin with, create a group for your students, give them the code and invitation to set up accounts. Teachers can use this as a kick off for a discussion about the unit of study asking students to either tell what they know about the subject or student can enter questions they might have about the topic. It can be done at home or in the classroom if you have computers or devices for them. This makes a nice pre-assessment.

There is a library for the teacher to upload documents for student access, trying to keep things paperless as possible. Teachers can also assess the work that students submit and apply the grade according to an uploaded rubric.

In addition, teachers can award badges to students for exceptional work at any time. The badges are up to the discretion of the teacher.

All in all this is an interesting way to teach students about having an online presence, security of their passwords and acting appropriately with classmates in a discussion. Another aspect that I particularly like is the ability to give parents a log in to see only their student’s work. They cannot correct or change anything, just view.

Act fast to review this program, as they have their EdmodoCon this week! It is an all day online webinar filled with examples of how people are using it in their classroom. Some of the sessions are tutorials filled with teaching ideas as well. Here is a link to the schedule and registration. Don’t sit there, register now!

Robin Martin

I had the great fortune of attending the Common Core Conference at Discovery Communication HQ in Silver Spring, MD. This two-day workshop was full of seminars and networking with other teachers. One session was delivered by Rabecca Hart about using eVocabualry tools in the classroom. Here are her recommendations: (Thanks Rabecca!)

  1. Visit and create a character that can speak the vocabulary challenge of the day or week.
  2. Create a class discussion URL on Then have students go to that URL to have an in class discussion about the word of the day. Students can write what they think the word means.
  3. Visual Thesaurus to find definitions, synonyms, because it is a graphical dictionary. Try it, it is FREE. Put this on your board as students enter the class with a word of the day from your lesson.
  4. is a very commonly used word cloud website. You can change the color of the background, the font and even create a custom color palette. Try a new world cloud sites like:  My recommendation for using word clouds is to type your words into a text document first. Then copy and paste each time you want to change an option. Don’t forget to try to show your clouds into different shapes. Another world cloud site to try is Try them all and see which fits your style.
  5. If you are feeling more creative, try using to create a short animated video. This site will step you through the process.
  6. This site:  will translate your English words into a visual dictionary, define what parts of speech are included in the visual and allow you to see it in Spanish, German, French, Dutch and Italian.
  7. If you want to translate to another language try: which includes a dictionary, thesaurus and more.
  8. So if you have started from the first listed site and worked the list, the next step is to create a tactile type of learning vocabulary that includes the use of QR codes. The first suggestion is to try You can choose a color, type (video, voice, link to a site and many more (look on the left side of the page). Follow the directions on the page, download, print and post in your classroom. Students need a device with a qrcode scan app in order to read the code. That device can be a tablet, laptop, iPod or smartphone that can have a qrcode reading application installed. In addition, you can try  which will play voice you record. One new site; will allow you to add voice or images to a qrcode.

    So experiment and find the one that suits your style.



Robin Martin

If you have been to a Lodge workshop, then you will remember the laughter, fun and learning that took place. I too did this activity with students in my school and it was a blast. So now what else can you do with Lodge songs? Did you know they were a part of DiscoveryEducation library of resources? Well they are there for all of you to be creative with your students.

Not only do you have Lodge himself singing the song, but the lyrics are in .pdf as well as some teaching resources to compliment the songs.. For example, search for Lodge and song to reveal 47 songs. I chose the Bill of Rights. The page had the song, lyrics and a teachers worksheet to use with the music. Click on the “More to Explore” tab and additional DiscoveryEd assets will be there for you to choose more resources for your lesson. I love all of the connections.

If  you are teaching the Bill of Rights, you can use this as a hook as students are entering the room, or background for reading time about the Bill of Rights. Why not create a slide show to go along with the lyrics in the song as a kick off to the unit or as a study guide video for a chapter assessment? Students could put together the slide show for a class assignment as well. The point is, explore other ways you can use these clever songs about match, science, social studies and more, in many ways in your lessons. Try a comic application like Kerpoof to illustrate the song. Try a collage of images that explain the song.

Not sure what to use to make this song into something exceptional for your class? Visit Alan Levine’s wiki site, CogDogRoo or the updated site 50+Ways. The second site is organized by type of tool to use to create your story. Looks like Alan got a new dog!

Leave a comment about how YOU have used Lodge McCammon’s songs in your classroom.


Additonal Links to Lodge McCammon’s information:

I Am Lodge:

Lodge’s Facebook:

The Friday Institute Bio:

Sample of a Lodge video challenge(contest is over):

Lodge and FIZZ:

Twitter: @pocketlodge

Songs and description:

Robin Martin

BeFunky.comIf you have not created a cartoon animation of yourself as an elf, Santa or trekker, then here is your chance. Make a fun avatar for use on your website or send an e-card to a family member. These are fun, but check them out completely before using with students. Some sites contain partial nudity or characters in skimpy outfits. In addition, be careful of some of the ads that are used with these web sites. You too can be an avatar and be ready for the sequel.

  1. Yearbook yourself
  2. Create your own Marvel Comic SuperHero
  3. The Hero Factory
  4. Bless This Chick
  5. Spud Yourself
  6. Simpsonize Me
  7. Elf Yourself – not available until November 1st
  8. Terminate yourself – turn your face into “The Terminator”
  9. Madmen Yourself – men and women
  10. 12 sites to cartoon yourself – preview yourself – not sure about some of the images for school
  11. Santa Yourself
  12. Scrooge Yourself – available at holiday time
  13. Many many create yourself and make items site – preview before using with students
  14. Jib-Jab
  15. Animate yourself – preview before using with students
  16. Trek Yourself – make yourself a StarTrek character
  17. Build your Wild self
  18. Make an Anime
  19. Lego Yourself – make a LEGO character
  20. Create an M&M piece
  21. My Avatar Editor
  22. Monster Mash by JibJab
  23. Make a Western Style Wanted Poster
  24. Mr. Picassohead
  25. Make a beast!
  26. Diary of a Wimpy Kid! – wimp yourself too
  27. Avatar in video using webcam
Robin Martin

I didn’t know there was such a critter as the sea butterfly? Or that in 40 years seafood would be off the menu. How about underwater gardening? All of this and more can be viewed on the Discovery Show “Wild Pacific”. Not only is it filled with facts and critters you have never heard of, but the filming is extraordinary! It has been on for hours and to me one of the most interesting segments was the one on “How they filmed Wild Pacific”. Not only can this show be used to show science facts and study of oceans, but it can be viewed as a critique for film making. Obviously we can’t take our students to Fiji to film sharks eating the Albatross that floats on the sea, but the description of filming techniques was really moving. By the way, the underwater garden was a beautiful display of coral growing on special tables. They are replanted into areas that need a boost. This in-turn makes the reef healthier for the life-cycle of the sea. Look for this on the DiscoveryChannel. Not sure if it will make it to the streaming library, seems like it would be a great DVD for sale.