Professor Garfield’s Infinite Learning Lab

Want a fun and engaging resource/web site to engage your students? PPS teachers are able to access—for free—Professor Garfield’s Infinite Learning Lab. Students are able to watch engaging videos while also practicing concepts in Life Skills, Math, Science, and Reading. Moreover, the teacher can keep track of the progress of students’ work and record data of their work. While students are having fun, the teacher can keep a record of assessments and plan accordingly for differentiated instruction, progress, and student learning centers. As written in a Superintendent’s Memo:

A teacher management system has been added to the Infinite Learning Lab (, a collaboration between the Virginia Department of Education and the Professor Garfield Foundation. The Infinite Learning Lab provides engaging, animated, interactive lessons for students in mathematics, science, language arts, Internet safety, and life skills. New lessons are added throughout the year.
The teacher management system allows teachers to create individual accounts for students to assign specific lessons based on individual need and track student progress. Students will be able to earn online badges based on the lessons they complete.
The accounts are provided at no cost to all Virginia educators and students. Although anyone using the Internet may access four lessons on the Infinite Learning Lab Web site, only account holders will be able to access all the lessons available.
For teachers to have an account, the division superintendent must assign a designated division account administrator for the Infinite Learning Lab. That person will be provided information on how to create accounts for school account administrators who can then create individual teacher accounts. The division account administrator will be able to monitor data for all students who use the Infinite Learning Lab in their division, while the school account administrator can monitor data for all students within their school. User guides for both students and teachers (available on the Web site) will explain how to use the system.

For access information, please see me for login details and how to set up your students’ accounts. Mrs. Ross has already jumped on board! 

Books Should Be Free—Honest!

Imagine having scores of books available for students to listen to as they read along in their own books, for FREE! Books that are on the public domain (AKA no copyright) can be even be downloaded to podcasts. I’ve not checked out the particulars for any fees for downloading, but there are no costs to listen to online. There are multiples of categories, including children’s literature and historical fiction. Have fun browsing their site at

Make A Comic Strip: Sequencing

Need a new and different idea for project based learning for sequencing or time order? Go beyond worksheets and have students create a comic strip and demonstrate higher order thinking. Two sites that are particularly easy to manipulate and complete in a time intensive pacing environment:

Lesson plans and the link to creating a comic strip page are here. Ideas are given on the jump page and suggestions, and once you are ready, students can make their comic. Suggestion: Save this page on the H drive and save yourself some time from having students type in the URL.

Similar to above, but Professor Garfield has more color and of course, has Garfield in as the main character. To try it out, click here.

For Further Reading:

Free Technology Tips for Teachers

Random Name Generator: Choose Students and Have Fun!

Are you needing a new way to choose students to answer a question, go on an errand run, ad infinitum? Instead of choosing names out of a hat, how about having an interactive site do it for you? Enter your students’ names, and let the “machine” or “typewriter” do it for you! also has free templates for
Arcade Game Generator
Countdown Timer
Keyword Checker
Venn Diagram
and others to choose from!

New Year, New Toolbox: PBS LearningMedia

Announcing a great new resource for teachers! From a recent notice:
( offers thousands of curriculum and professional development resources from the best of public media and its partners…for free! The new media-on-demand service is designed specifically for educators and provides a variety of resource types — videos, interactives, documents, audio and images — all curriculum-targeted for classroom use. Start searching, saving, organizing today!

I checked the site and am impressed with the availability of interactive games, media, documents, lessons, and multiple resources for you. Register at the link above.

A VSTE Goldmine: Excelets (Interactive Excel)

Do you teach Box and Whiskers plots? M&M Graphing Activities? Would you like to incorporate Excel activities more? The Hampton Roads MODSIM Initiative Wiki, a confederation of individuals from the business, K-20+ education, government, industry, and training sectors of Hampton Roads (Norfolk/Virginia Beach/Portsmouth area), has set up a Wiki that aims to introduce technology-based tools into the K-20+ curriculum and wishes to:

•Help students develop problem-solving, analytical, and higher-order thinking skills.
•Help teachers and students understand the interdisciplinary nature of science, engineering, and technology.
•Increase technological literacy.
•Enhance and enrich teaching and learning by providing real world applications of engineering, mathematics, and science concepts.

While a vast majority of the items are for middle and high school students, pay close attention to the Excelets tab at the top, which includes interactive Excel activities for:
• Flipping pennies
• Counting coins
• Number lines
• Fractions
• Box-and-whisker plots
• Area and perimeter
• Orbital motion
• M & M’s counting
• Temperature scales
• Acceleration due to gravity
• Solar system
If you scroll all the way to the bottom of the page, you’ll also see a link to Spreadsheets in Education.

Take a look also at the Scratch Tab and look at the projects students have made—would you be interested in trying this in your classroom? If so, let me know, and I can show you how it works.

Free Interactive Websites for K-2

TaxsonKristy Taxson, “new kid on the block” in our Instructional Technology Department, AKA Promethean guru/expert, has developed a list of a plethora of interactive websites for Kindergarten through Second grade on her blog at If you are in one of my two buildings where Kristy and I team together, feel free to pull her aside for a run through of the sites.

I Still Hate Taking Tests: Ways to Help Your Students Relax and Get Some Writing In Too!

As I sat down and stared at my test yesterday, the usual symptoms occurred:
• Tight chest
• Head felt light
• Tight stomach
• Waves of doubt
• A blank mind
I read the chapter five times, took notes, rewrote the notes, typed the notes, took practice tests, and sundry other things to prepare. I told people about the chapter, was able to apply examples to vocabulary, and even shared in our Sunday School class examples from the chapter that tied in with the topic of interest!!! And, once the test appeared, the cognitive abilities DISAPPEARED. Poof! Blank brain! Everything fizzled out like a TV tube back in the 60’s would do once the set was unplugged: the picture shrunk to a little white light in the middle of the screen, then a little speckle of light showed, and as the glow slowly evaporated, all that was seen was nothing. That was my brain.
Do our students do this during Benchmarks and SOL testing?

Tech & Science on shares research on how to help your students cope with test anxiety (I might even try this!!!!!) by writing down their feelings for ten minutes before the test. Read about our “test obsessed culture” and see how you might also be able to tie in writing with this at Researcher Finds Easy Solution for Test Anxiety.

Writing with Wordle

One question an ITRT/TRT often encounters is, “How can I do an integration activity that doesn’t take a long time?”As I walked through the building today, I spied writing sample papers in the hallway and stopped to read them. One thing that jumped out at me was how effective Wordle would be in pointing out how specific words, if used over and over, would show up as HUGE and let the writer know that style needs to be touched up. For example, in the following Wordle, “differences” was used quite often:1. What has impressed me the most from past experience with Worlde is that constructive criticism can take place without the student feeling offended or defensive; the teacher can hand the learning over to him/her by having them own their own growth!

Wordle can also point out key ideas. For example, in a previous post, guess what theme is important between a TRT and classroom teacher?

Instructional Technology: a friend for harried teachers!