Thursday, December 07, 2006

ZOHO Polls

I wanted to share with you a cool little tool I found out about today. It's called Zoho Polls. It's a free web application that allows you to create an online poll in 3 quick and easy steps. You can make your poll public or private (email invitation only).

I remember my daughter's Kindergarten teacher doing polls every now and then, and I believe this would be another interesting way to "conduct research." Try out my ice cream poll, and see what you think.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

USB Microscope Pictures!

In our first meeting, Beth mentioned that she would like to play around with a USB Microscope. I just finished playing around with the ProScope that my friend loaned to me, and I wanted to share with you two images I took with this awesomely easy-to-use tool (see below). Beth, I'll bring the microscope to you on Monday.

This is a picture of my thumb print on my left hand.

This is a picture of the hair in my ponytail.

Monday, December 04, 2006

What Next?

I've been thinking a lot about you and your students, and wondering how the China unit is going. I've been keeping up a little bit through Brelle's blog. It seems like all is going well.

I told you all I would contact you today to ask for input on what would be helpful to you at this point. Since we aren't going to be able to meet today, and your China unit will be completed by the January meeting that we've set, what would you suggest? Would you like to meet as a group or would you prefer to meet individually, or maybe a combo? Originally, I was supposed to work with "the group" for four one-hour sessions, but we have some wiggle room, so don't worry about going over our allotted time. Instead of responding via email, why don't you all post your ideas and thoughts as a comment to this posting.

I do have one piece of technology to suggest that would lend itself to collaborating and sharing resources for this China unit -- a Wiki. Here's a quick definition from Wikipedia:
A wiki is a type of Web site that allows the visitors themselves to easily add, remove, and otherwise edit and change some available content, sometimes without the need for registration. This ease of interaction and operation makes a wiki an effective tool for collaborative authoring.
If you get a moment, check out these links for examples of how teachers are using wikis:

If you do decide (either individually, or as a group) that you would like to explore creating a wiki, I just found out that Wikispaces is giving away "free K-12 Plus wikis. That includes all the features and benefits that normally cost $50/year - for free. No fine print, no usage limits, no advertising, no catches."

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

China Unit Plans

I did some searching on the internet and found two China unit plans written by 2nd-grade teachers in Colorado. They come from this site. (BTW...on this site you will find many rich unit plans for all grade levels, including Kindergarten.) While these particular lessons are geared toward 2nd-graders, I still think you might find them full of useful information. If you're interested in looking at them, click on the images below to download:

Monday, November 27, 2006


My co-worker, Lauren, shared this site with me the other day. Perhaps you can use some of the video in your China unit...

Here's a little blurb about it:
See the Destination... Before you See It
A fun and reliable way to learn about your next international destination. GeoBeats is an interactive media company whose mission is to inform travelers about international destinations through the use of video.
When you go to the page, just click on the drop-down menu in the top right-hand corner of the page, and select China - Hong Kong. Then click on the drop-down menu to the right of that, and select one of the sites in Hong Kong.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Google Earth Resources

What Do SMARTboards and Knitting Have in Common?

You'll have to read to the end to find that out! :-)

OK....I've gone into the "cave" in my head where I've been able think about some things you might consider for the China unit you are about to enter into.

First, the one thing that stuck out in my head from our last session is that, for at least a few of you, it is important that if you choose to use the SMARTboard, you want it to be because no other tool will work as well. Because you have one SMARTboard for the whole Lower School, and getting it in your classroom and setting it up requires you to jump through some hoops, you want to make sure that it's a tool that is going to be really beneficial to your students and you.

I want to encourage you, then, to use Google Earth with the SMARTboard as a way to engage students in the experience of "flying" to China. Would all the bells and whistles of the SMARTboard be used? No. Could you just as easily project the image onto a screen or a wall? Yes. The main benefit of using the SMARTboard for this experience is that you will be able to use the SMARTboard record tool to document your trip, which means your students can experience their trip over and over, and you can burn your trip to a CD and send it home for parents to experience, too. Brelle, you might even be able to figure out a way to post the video of your trip on your blog!

I know you will be starting your China unit this week and that this was supposed to have been the big intro to the lesson. Maybe what you can do in a couple of weeks after your students have learned a little bit about China, is “revisit” your flight with your kids. If you wait until just before or just after the holiday break, the trip might be even more magical, because your students will have learned a whole bunch about China. Just a thought…

So…to get you up to speed on setting this experience up, if this is what you wish to do, I have two options for you:

Option #1: You can take the suggestions I’ve given you and the resources I've pointed you to in this Google Earth Resources post and the Whiteboard Resources post (I will keep updating these with new information, so keep checking back), and work through this experience on your own time and in your own way.

Option #2: I can schedule individual meetings/tutorial sessions with each of you at your convenience, and we can walk through the set-up of the SMARTboard and rehearse the flight experience together.

I wanted to say one more thing about SMARTboard use. I think this piece of technology is the kind you almost have to start using in a very flat way before the ideas start flowing about ways you can use it more creatively and interactively. It’s a tool that will feel like a third arm for a while. Since I’m a knitter, and at least two of you in the group are, too, I will use knitting as an analogy. When I first learned how to knit, just holding the needles and managing the yarn felt clunky and odd – kind of like managing a third arm – and I didn’t have the skills or confidence to jump right in and knit a really difficult pattern – I knit simple dishcloths. After knitting for several years, it no longer feels odd to use the needles and hold the yarn, and I can knit more complex patterns. I am, by no means, an advanced knitter, but I once knew a woman who was, and could knit without even looking at what she was knitting! The tools had almost become a part of her! I would imagine that advanced knitters have internalized patterns and stitches to the point where they don’t even need to follow step-by-step patterns; they just envision what they want, and know intuitively how to put their creations together. I think using a new piece of technology like a SMARTboard is very similar. In the space of one month, it will be impossible to learn all the intricacies of this tool. It’s a start, though, and perhaps this experience will give you the confidence and spark to do some more experiments in your classroom.

I will follow up with each of you individually by the end of this upcoming week to see what your thoughts are. I also encourage you to share your thoughts and ideas within this blog.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Bear with me...

Hi, everyone. I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!

I want you to know that I haven’t forgotten to come out of my cave and share with you the recommendations/ideas that I have re: your China unit. I have been drafting a blog entry that will speak to what I’ve heard you all tell me, offer ideas for integrating the technologies we’ve dabbled with, and share suggestions for maximizing our very limited time together.

I have done some research on the internet, found and contacted an expert in the field of integrating SMARTboards, and come up with my own ideas for you. I will share that with you via the blog before the weekend is over.

I felt that the session the other day was clunky and rushed, and one of the things I would like to do is figure out a way to “train” you on the SMARTboard a more comprehensive way. Obviously, a deep training of this sort will take more time, and your China unit will be a thing of the past by the time we can set something like this up. We'll see what we can do....

I am also aware that some of you may be forming your own ideas about what you would like to do. If you are (and even if those ideas are not completely formed yet), I encourage you to share them via the blog. Also...perhaps at this point, it might be beneficial for me to meet with each of you individually a few times.

So....this post is mainly for me to say, Bear with me! I will be posting again soon!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

China Links

I wanted to post an entry where we can "grow" a list of China Internet Resources. I'll be curious to see if you can add to this list, too.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

How to Share Blog Posts

Brelle wanted to know how she could forward the Whiteboards blog post to some other teachers in the lower school. Here's how you do it. At the bottom of every post, there is a tiny envelope icon with a black arrow on top of it

Click on this icon, and the following window will pop up:

Just fill out the form and click "Send Email." That's all there is to it!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

If you like maps, digital photography, and sharing with others, you might like....

For those of you interested in Google Earth, you might also be interested in taking a peek at this new Web 2.0 tool called Everytrail. EveryTrail is an online platform that enables you to visualize your travel and outdoor activities and share these with likeminded people from all over the world. With EveryTrail you can easily upload GPS data you recorded while out on the trail and add your photos and notes, to create a visual record of your outdoor activity.

Check out this person's hike through ZhangJiaJie Park in China.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Wanna Be My Buddy?

Hi! I had this idea yesterday after working with Robby S. and Dianne G. Have you all ever used iChat (see icon above)? It's an instant messaging tool (that can also allow you to incorporate audio and video). I have never used instant messaging as a way of connecting with the teachers with whom I work, and I would love to test it out with you all if you're open to it. If you are interested in trying it out with me, here's what you need to do:
  1. First, you have to set up what's called an AIM account, which will, in short, just give you a screen name and password to plug in to iChat. Click here to set yourself up with this. Be sure to write down user names, passwords, screen names, etc.
  2. After you go through this process, you will need to open iChat on your computer, and walk through the little wizard that gets you set up. I think you will come to a screen that looks like the pic below. Here's where you type in the AIM info.
  3. After you go through this process, you will probably see your Buddy List which will might look like the picture below. If the word "offline" appears, you will need to click on it, and choose "Available." Choosing "Available" should make your Buddy List window expand.
  4. In your drop-down menu items, choose Buddies-Add Buddy.
  5. Click New Person, and type in the information as it appears in the picture below.
  6. The final step is to send me an email with your Buddy Name, so I can add you as one of my buddies. Once we both add each other we will be set up to chat. You will know I'm online (and I will know you're online) if my name in your buddy list is no longer grayed-out.
  7. To initiate a chat if we're both online, just click on my name in your Buddy List and then click on the letter A at the very bottom of the Buddy List window.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Online Bookmark Managers

In prep for our next meeting, I thought I share a little blurb I wrote for our ENews about online bookmarking. It explains what these tools are and what they will do for you. The most comprehensive hotlist of online bookmark managers I've found is this one; (when you go to the page you will have to scroll down a bit to see the list.) I share it with you to show you how many of these tools are available to you. Also know that while I will be getting you set up with SiteJot on the 20th, if it ends up not working for you, you can try out another one.

Click on the picture below for the article:

Monday, November 13, 2006

Digital Microscope

Beth had mentioned she was interested in exploring digital microscopes, and I seem to remember that a couple more of you expressed curiosity, too. One of my colleagues is going to loan me a digital microscope that she has used called ProScope. So...just wanted to let you know that I will have it in hand when I see you again on the 20th.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Leaf/Tree Identification Sites

Hi, Beth. I found the following leaf/tree identification sites on the Internet. I hope one of them suits your needs!

Project Cam

I wanted you all to know about another technology/service that is available to you for free, and that you might be interested in exploring for your China unit. It's called Project Cam. Developed by Cable in the Classroom, Project Cam is an online environment with video, chat and file sharing capabilities. It allows educators, students, and experts to make live connections to other learners and experts via webcams and high-speed internet. Here's a blurb about a project that a school from Columbus did with a school in China.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Google Earth Article

Here is a link to a Google Earth article from Edutopia that I thought was interesting:

It will give you a nice overview of the possibilities for classroom use.

My co-worker, Peggy, said she would be happy to connect with us some time via iSight/iChat to show you all the fabulous ways you can use Google Earth to enhance your curriculum.

Just something to think about....

Oh...and here's a pic of China I "took" from Google Earth....and one of Beijing

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

You're Now Co-Authors!

Hi! I am experimenting with something. I just invited each of you to be co-authors of this blog. This means that you can contribute entries to the blog (in addition to contributing comments like Brelle did yesterday). thought is that if you find information that in any way relates to what we’re doing, or if you just want to spout off at the mouth about something, you can now post an entry.

If you want to, go ahead and share your blog with parents, friends, co-workers, etc., and see what happens. It’s out there for the world to see, which means, in theory, that anyone can be a part of and contribute to this learning experience. How cool is that!? :-)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Initial Planning Meeting Re-cap

The purpose of our meeting yesterday was for me to get to know you a little better. Here are some tidbits about each of you that stand out in my mind:
  • Sarah -- I'm intrigued by your experience teaching in Brooklyn. I'm sure you learned a lot there and have brought your rich experiences to Columbus Academy. You mentioned that you don't know a whole lot about technology, and I just want to assure you that you don't need to. All that's needed is a willingness to jump in a try.
  • Marilyn -- I love what you said about enjoying watching your students evolve. You must be a great observer, and this is a wonderful skill to have as a teacher. When you're integrating technology, often what is needed is this ability to step back, pause, breathe, and observe how your students interact with the tools you have given them.
  • Elaine -- I can tell that you have fun with your students! I enjoyed hearing about your love of watching your students as they process their world. I appreciate that you want this technology integration experience to be focused on the students.
  • Brelle -- I called my co-worker this morning to tell her about your "Letter M" iMovie project using the iSite camera. Thank you for that idea! I'm filing it away for future use! I get the feeling that you are game for just about anything relating to educational technology, and I'm looking forward to showing you lots of interesting tools. (P.S. I want to taste your famous apple pie!)
  • Beth -- I connected with what you said about how students are in their element in science. It's lends itself to concrete, hands-on activities that kids really tune in to. You have given me several technologies to research (probes, microscopes, leaf-id resources). I will do that over the next several weeks. Hopefully, we'll get you set up with what you want.
Here's a re-cap of what we discussed and where we're headed. If I have left anything out or missed the boat, please let me know:
  • You will be doing a big unit on China over the next couple of months and would like to integrate technology throughout in ways that are appropriate and meaningful for the children, and manageable for you.
  • Your principal mentioned his vision for technology integration. In short, he is interested in having you all use the laptops to present information to you students (computer hooked to projector) and having your students use the laptops in small stations.
  • While we have not yet decided on a specific lesson or activity in which you will use technology, we did talk about technologies you would believe would complement the two models of instruction your principal suggested. Based on this discussion, we decided that in our next meeting on November 20th, I will:
    • show you how to use a SMARTboard;
    • introduce you to several online bookmark manager sites, and then show you how to sign up for an account and start populating it with Web resources;
    • facilitate a discussion about next steps in your professional development.
There were some miscellaneous topics/questions that came up that I will list below. I just want to keep them on our radar:
  • SMARTboard grant -- did a little research on this, and here's what I found.
  • Science probes and microscopes compatible with Mac's -- I will be researching this for Beth.
  • Leaf identification sites that are simple and easy to use and read -- I will also be researching this for Beth.
  • Bloglines -- This is the RSS aggregator that will keep track of all the blogs you are subscribed to. This was just something I wanted you all to know about. You can sign up for it if you want to. Beware, will make you OBSESSED with blogs!!!
  • Brelle (I think) mentioned it would be a neat thing if you all made some sort of presentation to the staff about your experience in this project. Just something to think about.
  • Your principal mentioned using LOGO to teach math. This may be something I discuss further with him.
  • Your principal also mentioned using Tom Snyder software. I will do a little digging to see if there is something from this company you might be interested in integrating.
  • I believe it was Marylin who mentioned she was interested in iMovie. We can explore this technology, too.
So...have I left anything out? Let me know. Our next meeting will be

Monday, November 20th
3:30-5:00 p.m.