Sep 24

A few years ago I read Mindset by Carol Dweck.  The book helps all readers realize their potential academically, personally, and professionally. As an educator I use growth mindset terminology and try to keep my classroom as positive as possible. This week I showed a PREZI with embedded video called, You can grow your intelligence 2.  It was absolutely one of the most powerful lessons I have done with my students. I LEARNED more about my students and to value their gifts. I was able to reinforce science related vocabulary  – controlled variables, experimental design, and neurons. I was reminded of how embedded video can make a presentation more powerful.  I was able to inspire my students to work harder.  I hope this link and post inspires you to try this one out!


Apr 07

Let’s make a list of our favorite activities that keep students moving and learning!!

 The list has been started (see below) and can be added to at:

 More Student Engagement resources can be found at:

 Activities to keep students moving and engaged:

 Scoot – Place 1-3 numbered questions on a note card on a desk. Student A may start on #9, the student just has to keep up with the number of the question as they write answers. Play a song, ring a bell or just shout SCOOT after enough seconds to complete each card – shoot for 30 seconds or less. Students must move from desk to desk until they have answered all of the questions. They love it!

 Adaptations for Scoot: Scoot for any reason –

Have students write a note down from the over head then scoot to another desk and write the next note.

For review, have students open their notebook to the last lesson’s notes, give each student a highlighter, they are to scoot to another desk and highlight the answer to a question that should be found in the notes. 

Have each student get out a sheet of paper. Write the brainstorming topic at the top of the paper. Scoot to another desk to write an idea, when you scoot the next desk you may not repeat an idea already on the page – many students end up with several new brainstormed items – when they return to their desk they have a whole page of them!

Channel your inner Cheerleader – how can you make any vocabulary word or list of things to know go with a physical movement? Use your hands, arms, legs, body and MOVE!

Ex. Blood travels through the body from the heart to the lungs back to the heart and then all over the body. Students can “cheer” this – hands over heart, hands over lungs, hands back over heart, then hands/arms stretched way out, repeat – this goes great after a little practice and “Ready, OK!” Math has students act out slope with their arms – there are dozens of ways to get the body moving. Add music and have some fun with this one!!

 Voting or Agree/Disagree – for any agree/disagree or choice type questions try any of these. Thumbs up/thumbs down, stand up/sit down, or line up to the left/right of the room.  Addition to line up – Once in a line partner up with someone from the other line and discuss your point of view.

 Corners – for questions that aren’t yes/no, A/B, agree/disagree – use walls, corners or areas in your room for voting. Place letters or vocabulary words in these areas and have students move to them. Students can discuss why they picked where they are and so much more. Teachers get a visual of how many students understand concepts. Ex. Corner choices can be open: Strongly disagree, disagree, agree, strongly agree or A, B, C, D or which type of organism does this picture represent Animal, Plant, Fungi, Protist? etc. You ask or hold up a question/picture/object and students move to the area they think matches their best answer. This is most fun when the question has more than one right answer so students can argue/discuss.

 Silent Graffiti – On a large piece of paper bulletin board paper or the whiteboard have students come up and write what they know about a topic/question you present/etc, what questions they have, what connections they make to what another person wrote, anything – this is great feedback for you, gives students a chance to move, and THINK!

 Circle the Wagons – Divide students into two groups. Group one makes a circle with all bodies facing one way. Group two makes an inner circle with all bodies facing the opposite direction. When the music starts (or you say go) have students walk. When the music stops (or you say stop) they must share something with the person they ended up standing closest to. This takes some practice but once they get the hang of it, it is pretty effective. Example a question might be – name one thing you learned from today’s lesson. The inside person shares then the outside person must share something different that they learned. So this enough and you’ve reviewed the entire lesson!

 Pop corn Vocabulary game. Vocabulary review game. The teacher creates cards in a matrix.


I have …Red               Who has….What color is the background of the SC flag?

I have …Blue               Who has…..What color is a basket ball?

I have …Orange          Who has ….What color is a cardinal?   

 Cut these cards up – (best to use card stock) start with the first card – the teacher would ask the person with ‘red’ to begin. They would stand up and read “Who has…What color is the background of the SC flag?” The person that has the answer to the question ‘pops up’ when they have the answer and says “I have…Blue! Who has….” And the game continues until all vocabulary words have been used.

 Do the Flamingo! 

This is an adaptation of think-pair-share. Pair up students – the person talking must balance on one leg (like a flamingo)- they may talk as long as they do not put down a foot. Once they lose their balance they lose their turn and the other partner may talk as long as he/she balances on one foot. FUN!

Dec 08

It is a special time to be in Mrs. Berry’s 8th grade Flight and Aerospace class. Students are following the historic last space shuttle mission. However, the space shuttle is traveling to the space station carrying an unusual cargo “butterflynaughts” or painted lady butterfly caterpillars. NASA Scientists are studying the effects of gravity on this pollinators’ life cycle. CMS students will be comparing their control group of caterpillars (grown in gravity) to those being grown on the space station. Funded and sponsored by NASA, the National Space and Biomedical Research Institute, and BioEd Online the resources available for students to participate in this real world learning situation are phenomenal. Students created data logs and wikis to share their research and findings. Exciting footage and links can be found on Mrs. Berry’s website.

Great links:

Mrs. Berry’s website

Student Wikis

Local news story

Apr 03

It is just no fun to post a blog that no one reads. I miss the scrolling feature on the DEN website that alerted readers to new posts and titles. In order to read the blogs of other DEN Stars I have to dig for them. I think it needs to be made easier. I may start a discussion board thread to see if there are others out there who have had similar thougths and have ideas for enacting change.

Apr 01
Mar 23

March 17-19 I attended the etvStreamlineSC (SC’s subscription to Discovery Streaming) Workshop event. This was a wonderful opportunity all coordinated and managed by Debbie Jarrett and Donna Thompson, SCETV’s most valuable assets. They deserve huge kudos for a great series of sessions.  I learned incredible amounts of information from the presenters!

I attended “Exciting Internet Tools” with Jason Karkow from Discovery check out his presentation posted on his blog at It is going to take me weeks to explore all of the sites Justin shared. My favorite –!

I also attended several presentations on the newest version of Google Earth presented by Tom Taylor. Tom has an awesome website with tons of resources if you are interested in learning more go to www.geopackrat.comMy favorite tip – using streaming video in your placemarks!

To branch out a little I convinced a dear friend, Angela McCord, instructional coach at Irmo Middle School to co-present with me on  Our handout and presentation can be found at password is Morris.

If you have not had a chance to play with the builders on Discovery Streaming you are really missing out. Streaming’s images and editable video can be used in a variety of programs from voicethread like above to photostory, SMARTNotebook10, and so much more! Remember if you use Streaming content in any publishable form you must password protect or make private that product. That being said – thank you Discovery Education and SC ETV for providing such a rich resource for educating today’s students!

Mar 10

Confused by copyfight? You are not alone! 

Copy right rules and laws are so difficult to follow. It seems the more I study them – as they apply to teachers and their classrooms or working with colleagues in professional development situations – the more confused I get! The best tips I found to simplify copyright is #1 don’t take anyone else’s idea/work and try to sell it as your own, #2 link link link – using hyperlinks allows you to share information while still giving credit (and hits) to the site or provider/owner of the information. Other than that I just keep muddling through doing my best not to violate copyright. For an entertaining and educational review of copyright check out these wonderful linked resources!

Fair(y) Use Tale  Click on streaming to view.


Explore Copyright Bay 

Click on Fair use Bay then go to Background Beach


                        Copy-Right or Copy Wrong? By Bob Spankle

A real world application!!


Mar 04

Use Streaming Discovery image bank to create dynamic interactive student projects or teacher presentations with VoiceThread.*  VoiceThread is an online media album that is FREE to educators.  Explore this emerging technology as a great resource and an alternative to PowerPoint.  You’ll love the collaboration and interactivity this new media allows. Go to, click on What’s a VoiceThread anyway? Enjoy!  *In order to avoid violating copyright, Voicethread’s using Discovery Streamline content must be marked as private.

Apr 14

Middle School
has highest StreamlineSC (Discovery Education Streaming) users in the state! Mrs. Sharon Takach and Mrs. Deannie Durant! According to Mrs. Debbie Jarrett, Marketing – Content Coordinator – Technology Trainer for StreamlineSC (Video on Demand) at SCETV, “We’re looking at some of the top users in the state. We’re hoping to highlight/recognize them in some way.”  Debbie visted CMS to see just how Sharon and Deannie use Streamline content. Debbie said it is wonderful to see all the things she advocates when training SC teachers in use with students at CMS.   Just how are teachers using StreamlineSC with students? They use it to

  • research ideas for lessons
  • remediate learning in all content areas
  • enrich learning in all content areas
  • show videos with closed captions (great tool to improve reading skills)
  • help students respond to what they see with  writing prompts
  • help students think about to what they see with quizzes
  • and much more!

How can I do this with my students? USING STREAMLINESC WITH STUDENTSThe Power of Differentiation!My Content is critical – use it! It is a place to book mark or make a link to the videos, writing prompts and other things you find useful! 

Differentiate instruction with StreamlineSC by creating enrichment or remedial assignments for your students in Assignment builder.  Sample: In assignment builder you can choose writing prompts, interactive websites, full videos or video clips and quizzes for students to complete ON THEIR OWN or in the computer lab with you!  To do this follow the assignment builder steps. To use a prompt, quiz or assignment already on the site you have to go through a few crazy steps.  You have to be in one of the builder sections. Choose the activity (prompt/quiz), click “copy”, drop down using the arrow and find your my content folder, select copy again. Then go back to “My Content” on the silver tab and find what you just saved.  Make sure “edit” is showing from the drop down menu and choose Go in the green circle.  You will see 5 tabs across the top. You have to go through EACH tab. In the first tab “general information” you must pick a subject area. Then click through each of the other tabs – you can make changes if you wish. Keep clicking until you get to the Summary Tab. On that tab you get two choices.

  1. The assignment code – students will go to this address and put in the awkward code OR (I like this choice better)

  1. A full address that you can just post or make a link to clip art on your website
Apr 08

Question:  Please clarify something for me – I was looking at our school website and clicked on the resources spot.  I like all of the info that is shared about gangs/gang violence.  However, it lists Wikipedia as a source.  I thought this site was kind of off-limits.  Several workshops,etc that I have been in have said not to use it because it is unreliable.  My kids always want to go to this site, but I refuse.  You are the expert.  Is it a good site to use or not?  It sure has lots of info. 

Answer:  Well let’s put it this way —- Penicillin is a good drug for a lot of bacterial diseases – and not good for others (the MRSA strain of staff) and in other cases it can kill you (if you are allergic to it). So Wikipedia is not much different – if you need a current topic like gangs it is an awesome resource because a book published on LA gangs will be full of incorrect info before it ever hits the book store.  If you want info on a classical author – there are good sources in print. If you are a true language arts teacher who hasn’t bought into collaborative resources like blogging, podcasting and wikis then Wikipedia is going to really bother you UNLESS you teach (and the students truly learn and take to heart) that all encyclopedias (including wiki) are sources of general info. There may be mistakes even in encyclopedia ‘Gigantica’ so the rule of thumb is to ALWAYS use multiple sources (and not just encyclopedias) for a research topic, and be able to identify a good source from a not so good source.   This is the best internet answer I found.   Negative: “Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia compiled by a distributed network of volunteers, has often come under attack by academics as being shoddy and full of inaccuracies. Even Wikipedia’s founder, Jimmy Wales, says he wants to get the message out to college students that they shouldn’t use it for class projects or serious research.”

   Not so negative: “Wikipedia is about as good a source of accurate information as Britannica, the venerable standard-bearer of facts about the world around us, according to a study published this week in the journal Nature.” Entire article at: 

Wikipedia survives research test: 

Decide for yourself: Great activity from 

Last thought (it is so nice sharing an office with a Literacy Coach): How unbiased and accurate is a newspaper article, magazine article, movie and even encyclopedia publisher? Honestly there should be none but….  humans are just that – human. They are going to put their spin on whatever they say/write/produce.  Case in point – Al Gore wins a Nobel Peace Prize, what is his scientific background?!?!?! With that said what is a reputable source for accurate information – does that depend on the topic? Ex. The war in Iraq. So my answer to your question is I wouldn’t use it to pass a history course or write a formal essay. However, I think Wikipedia is a source just like any other – I use it all of the time for clarification and quick info – and great pictures that are copyright free.