Resolutions for a Technology New Year

Resolutions, which mean one wants to stop doing something that keeps being repeated, or starting a new habit that one wishes they would begin but aren’t brave enough to do so, are often laughed but not usually followed through. Your TRT has compiled a list to reflect on, and I’ve numbered them starting with areas that are the easiest to keep and not break. To whit:

1. I WILL NOT GO IT ALONE: I find it much easier, when experiencing stress or problems, to have a buddy beside me to help carry the load and share the experience together. Have you wracked your brain for ideas on how to get a concept across to your students and go blank? Are you feeling like you need to do something new with your lesson plans? Do you feel all alone within your four walls? Invite me to help plan with you, coteach, look for resources, ad infinitum. How do you start? Give me a time, your lesson plan/ideas, and we’ll plan together. The least effective way is to say, “Drop by anytime.” Coming in cold and winging it is not the best way. Mrs. Bean and Mrs. Barrett are the queens of following the proper procedure; we’ll plan ahead of time before I come in the room.

2. I WILL TRY SOMETHING NEW: Kids love NEW things! Can they predict four weeks ahead of time what your class will be like? Do they enter your room with anticipation or dread? When they see YOU learning, THEY want to learn. Do you teach Math? Use an Excel activity. Science? Use a Thinkfinity activity. I have tons of ideas.
Why not start reading blogs? Check the blog list to the right and see if there’s something that interests you. Make a comment on somebody’s blog and start a discussion. Tammy Worcester has a wonderful post about leaving comments–make a blogger’s day!

3. I WILL GIVE MY STUDENTS A FUN TEST: Do you know how your classes learn best? Give them the multiple intelligences test. You’ll be surprised how easier they will grasp concepts if you can focus to their styles.

4. I WILL PUT MYSELF IN THEIR SHOES: Have you signed up for Tech Tuesdays? Become a student again and learn the latest in technology integration. Sign up for an online class with PBS’s Teacher on Line. CII (WHRO) has classes on line that are cheap and short (we’re members).

5. I WILL QUIT SAYING “I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH TIME”: Who does? Instead, reach out to others. See #1. What would it be like to join forces with your team and have a big cross curricular unit where you all teach together? Reserve the lab for half a day and coteach with the TRT! Change venue–what would it be like to set up the COW laptops in the cafeteria? Think big and reach for the stars.

6. I WILL GET TANGLED UP IN A WEB: Have you ever heard of Web 2.0? Wiki’s? Blogs? Join Classroom 2.0 and see what teachers across the world and collaborate together. Let me show you the possibilities.

7. I WILL CHECK IT OUT: Visit the library and try a document camera, data projector, new book, online resources, or visit a colleague’s class during my planning period.

8. I WILL STOP THE VIDEO: Oddly enough, kids don’t always get ecstatic over seeing videos in their entirety. Break the video into segments and discuss each one. Be brave and explore the teacher center in Discovery Education.

9. I WILL STOP TALKING SO MUCH: Be a facilitator and have your classes work in cooperative groups. Start with Marzano’s technology integration strategies.

10. I WILL BRING A COW TO CLASS: When was the last time you used one of our Carts on Wheels? If it’s been awhile, invite it back! I’ll be happy to train you and show you all the cool things we can do.

and finally…

11. I WILL LAUGH MORE: Science has proven laughter relives tension, stress, and makes us HAPPY. Why not try watching or looking at:
a) The 16th Century Help Desk (YouTube):
b) The Best of Sign Language (London’s Daily Telegraph). True signs seen around the world. This is a non educational site.
c) I Love Lucy- Vitameatavegamin (YouTube). This is a very famous sitcom from the 1950’s–my favorite of all times.

Got Bulletin Boards?

I was looking at the hallway outside my office door and thought, “This place needs some PIZAZZ!” Nearby was a tired, wimpy, old, blah, worn out bulletin board—about as exciting as old dishwater. The principal of the building gave me permission to put one up, and I suddenly realized, after everything was torn down, “What am I going to put up here?!?”

Have you felt the same way? I started looking for bulletin board ideas and didn’t realize the great sites that are out there, and thus, I thought I’d share with you:

==>Classroom Bulletin Boards/Displays: Pictures teachers have taken of their bulletin boards

==> Kathy Schrock : Need I say more?

==>Instructify/Spruce Up Your Bulletin Boards: Bulletin board BLOG (yea!)

==>Music Bulletin Boards: Here’s for you Mrs. W!

==>Teacher Vision: All levels/subjects

==>Computer Lab Bulletin Boards:
a) Bulletin Board Pro [blocked by Websense]
b) Kims Korner (plus many other topics)
c) [discussion links]

1/2/09 update: Here’s a GREAT Ning to join with a slideshow of computer lab bulletin boards, management idea pictures, etc.: Go

I’ve Used My Digital Camera—Now What?

Digital cameras are a great way to extend your instruction and permit students to create projects that prove their understanding of concepts taught in the classroom. On January 30 at Olive Branch we’ll be having workshops showing how to integrate technology ideas in your lessons using digital cameras.

The JT art teacher recently sat down with me to plan for a unit about Andy Warhol coming up in January. I found a great website that uses this concept (not all topics are free), but an example of one use is the Warholizer at BigHugeLabs. Students take a picture, upload it to the website at, and voila, instant Warhol art!

Another site that I found from reading Karen’s blog is Befunky* which allows you to “cartoonize” your pictures. Save it as a jpg and load these up to PowerPoint backgrounds, pictures for word processing–possibilities are endless! [*after looking at it again, some of the sidebar advertisements are not appropriate for school settings, so you will need to prepare the pictures at home]

The Flickr site has a myriad of possibilities, such as framing (left) or I “hockneyized” my style of shoes (middle), and changed them into bead art (right):

Check it out and prepare to let your technology integration creativity flow!

January 9, 2009 update: Here’s another site that looks great:

Are You Feeling Alone in Your Classroom?

The morning bell rings, kids are all nestled in their desks ready for learning, you close your door, turn around to face your class, and all of a sudden, do you feel alone? Have you ever said, “Oh, if I could only have some help?” Do you feel like you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders and wish somebody could take up the slack and carry the burden with you?

One of my colleagues, Nancy Butler, has written a wonderful post about the help that’s there for teachers and staff, ready to be taken advantage of! Here’s how you can develop your PLN and make your days a little easier: table-pln-10gifts In fact, the first person from OB and JT that leaves a comment will get an extra goodie in their stocking!

A Technology Website Potluck

Here are some sites that I’ve found from reading technology integration blogs which look useful for your classrooms:

Freestock photos at Need a picture for a project/PPT/other instructional need? Use of their pictures is pretty wide open with a few exceptions. You can read the license restrictions here :

Glogster: Mix graphics, photos, videos, music and text into slick Glogs. Although I have not explored this myself, it looks like it holds promise for projects (I’m wondering vocabulary review for Science, Social Studies, Math, ad infinitum).

Pixisnap: Create photo mosaics and Polaroid pics in a snap with Pixisnap!
Turn your lifeless picture to awesome photo mosaics or cool Polaroid
and make them your desktop wallpaper or Myspace background.

Pics4Learning: Need some safe pictures for students to use for PPt projects, PhotoStory, or the like?

Speakaboos: Online childrens’ stories for K-3. Some reviews mention that there are empty spots with graphics, but well worth the time to look (seems that it’s free). Great for reading teachers.

New York Public Library’s Digital Gallery: NYPL Digital Gallery provides free and open access to over 640,000 images digitized from the The New York Public Library’s vast collections, including illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints, photographs and more.

MOOM: Museum of Online Museums has online exhibits covering a vast array of interests and areas.

World Maps Like You’ve Never Seen

Are you looking for maps that show total population, or other such statistical information? Instead of just having to refer to a chart (boorrriinnngggg), this can give you an immediate “snapshot” for the information you seek. The site is, and quoting from their homepage: Worldmapper is a collection of world maps, where territories are re-sized on each map according to the subject of interest. Many thanks to Liz!

Should Schools Change?

Short note: If students had to summarize in one sentence their schooling experience today, they’d probably say, “Pass the SOL test.” How can schools change beyond just preparing students to pass the test? This is an interesting video from TeacherTube about 21st century learning–food for thought: Learn to Change (I haven’t figured out yet how to get the video to pop up in the screen, as you can tell!)