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! 

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.

Math Website: Easy Calculations

Imagine an online calculator that can do any/all of the following:

Calculators and Converters
Basic/Scientific calculator
Area Calculators Numbers
Statistics calculators
Trigonometry calculators
Analytical Geometry
Algebra Calculators Date and Day Calculator
Matrix Calculations
Mortgage Calculator
Unit conversions
Health Calculator
Bandwidth Calculator
Hexa, Decimal, Binary Conversions
Physics Calculators
Chemistry Calculators
Color Converters
Funny Math
Medical Calculators Integration Calculators
Finance Calculators
Engineering Calculators
Tax calcuators
Differentiation Calculators Budget Calculators
Sports Calculators
Download Calculators
Check these out at

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.

New SOL resources from Portsmouth’s ITRTs

PPS ITThe TRTs have produced and compiled a wealth of resources (flip charts, Quia activities, PowerPoints, interactive worksheets, ad fininitum) for your use in the classroom for the upcoming SOL tests.

Unlike last year where we posted them on the Y drive (don’t forget to go there to get “stuff” for your planning!), this year they are posted on a Wiki for all elementary SOL tested subjects. The link is and can be accessed from home or anywhere.

Let me know if I can be of assistance.

Will Passion Produce Higher Test Scores?

64-004-3C39AE7AWhile sitting on my couch in my tiny little abode in China, I was preparing for my class the next morning. I sat reading journals from a homework assignment the previous night. Students had been given an assignment to share an important experience in their lives, and so I sat and read while seeing mountains from my window. I was transfixed while learning about a different culture while seeing the classic Chinese landscape outside.

I imposed an ice cream break around 9:00 PM and bounded down the stairs to the street below. Making my way through the crowd towards the tiny shop at the end of the street, I glanced at at my classroom’s windows in the school and noticed that the lights were still on. I shook my head and scolded myself for forgetting to turn them off when we dismissed that afternoon. Detouring from my encounter with the Magnum ice cream, I took two steps at a time to hurry upstairs and diminish the glow emitting from the windows. As I reached in the door to reach for the switch, I jumped at seeing a classroom full of students.

“Why are you here?” I gasped.

Books were open everywhere and students were huddled in study groups. They looked up, smiled, and said, “We’re studying and are preparing for tomorrow’s class, teacher!”

Overwhelmed and amazed, I stood there taking in the site before me. The students’ passion for learning and self discipline, as well as a joy for it, made me realize that it was passion for learning and education which drove them to push themselves. It also made me realize that passion was infectious and enveloped the whole room as well as the whole school.

When our time teaching at the school was finished and we had packed for our return home, I had summoned an aide to hire a cab to take us to the airport two hours away. As we stood at curbside that last morning, imagine our shock as we looked down the narrow street and saw a crowd approaching us: the whole school had gathered and walked up the street to say goodbye to our small group of teachers. The passion for learning, for each other, and for the visiting staff hit me hard. Could I take what THEY taught ME back home?

My teaching in the US was never to be the same again.

Passion produces results. Passion is infectious. Passion, with joy, is persuasive. Passionate people make others want to do likewise. You ask yourself, “What is it that they have that I don’t?”

Where does technology tie in to this?

The 21st Century learner is not passionate about worksheets, and an inundation of black ink on paper can cause one’s eyes to roll. As with a movie that starts at the end and then works its way back to the beginning of the timeline, let me share last week’s Shout Out:

Miss Webb came to see me in my cubicle after our Science lesson, totally stoked, wide-eyed, smiling, and said, “THAT LESSON WAS AWESOME! Did you see all the learning and all the higher level thinking that occured? WOW!” Sarah had The Look. “I was nervous about this lesson at first, but wow–I’m so glad we did it!” Her class produced Voicethreads for Science 3.10 (Interdependency), and after planning for it for about a week during planning time, we introduced the activity to the class. In short:
DAY ONE–>After reviewing the SOL strand, Miss Webb broke students into cooperative learning groups. Each student had a laptop and chose pictures that supported each bullet of the SOL.
–>Students wrote a script on their storyboards for each picture.
–>Students had to support their answers, not only in writing, but in small group interviews with Miss Webb for approval.
–>Students returned to the Cooperative Learning Groups and practiced their scripts
–>Students practiced reading with Miss Webb
–>Students recorded their VoiceThread
–>Afterwards, the class got back together and listened to each others’ presentations.

Students hit all levels of Bloom’s (application and synthesis especially), tied in writing with a Science activity, worked in cooperative groups (ties in with research about positives of working with peers), and learned technological skills along the way, such as importing multiple pictures by pressing the control button while selecting items to import. Although we had technological difficulties, here’s an example (students agreed it sounds like a rap video!). We’ll be rerecording next week: