Archive for Share it Forward

Share it Forward: Teachers I Admire

This week for Share it Forward I’m going to pass along some of the blogs and websites of teachers I admire!

1. Beth Newingham:

Have you checked out Beth’s blog lately?! Wow. This teacher inspires me and makes me want to keep working and blogging…maybe someday I’ll have resources and experiences that will be worth sharing 🙂 I love that this year she is posting a Top Ten list each month, and she is clearly not just throwing these lists together! Each one is full of links, ideas, resources and other materials that make this nerdy teacher green with envy.

You also should NOT overlook her website: How does she have time for all of this?! Love it.

2. Angela Bunyi:

Angela’s classroom library and resources are amazing. Her blog is FULL of ideas for reading and writing workshop and she tells it like it is, something that I really appreciate! Seriously, her blog is worth reading and go back into her archives, all her ideas are relevant and awesome.

3. Two Writing Teachers:

This has been an invaluable blog as I’ve started using Writing Workshop in my classroom this year…or at least my version of Writing Workshop. These two exceptional writing teachers share ideas and stories from the trenches of teaching writing as well as encouraging teachers to be writing themselves! You must check out their tabs at the top with quotes and tools. This blog is worth adding to your reader!

When I was writing this post I also discovered that The Two Writing Teachers have a website! (I usually read them from my reader, so sometimes I miss things!) This will be a new go-to resource for me! Everything is so organized and user friendly!

So there you have it, three blogs that I read on a regular basis and scour for ideas! There are about 60 other blogs that Google Reader brings me, but those can wait for another day 🙂


Leave a comment »

Share it Forward: Week in Rap

Oh my goodness, this week was crazy! I felt like every day I went from dawn til dark without stopping…and then, when I crawled into bed I just didn’t have the energy in my tired fingers to type a blog post! (Insert big sigh and whiny voice here 🙂  But this weekend has cured my sleepiness, and here I am on Sunday morning with a big mug o’ coffee and nimble, rested fingers ready for typing 🙂

Up first: SHARE IT FORWARD! Yes, my little Sunday tradition where I share something I have read, found, or used during the week. This week it is resources for Current Events.

Social Studies is often sorely overlooked in 4th grade because of all the other TAKS tested subject areas… so recently my team and I have decided to insert a little “Current Event” block into our schedule to keep our kids up-to-date about what’s going on in the world.

Through out the week we use to talk about current events and watch current event videos. Then on Friday we will use Flocabulary’s Week in Rap to look at things that happened around the world here is the Week in Rap from this week:

The Week in Rap – March 25 from Flocabulary on Vimeo.

We watched the Week in Rap for the first time on Friday  and my kids LOVED it. We had to watch it a twice and then we talked about all the events that were mentioned. It was only 10 minutes before lunch, but it sparked tons of good conversation. The Week in Rap is published each Friday and once you start showing it in your classroom your kids will beg you to watch it each week.

Note: Flocabulary also publishes other videos and they are all fantastic! Take a look at this rap about the 5 elements of a short story: Plot, characters, conflict, theme, setting –yes these are the 5 things that you’re gonna be needing when you’re reading or writing a short story that mad exciting! (trust me you will have this rap in your head!)

Flocabulary – Five Things (Elements of a Short Story) from Flocabulary on Vimeo.

Some Other Awesme Flocabulary Videos:

MLK: Let Freedom Ring (Black History)

Year in Rap

Leave a comment »

Share it Forward: Picnik

Last summer I wrote a post about my love of Picasa...and that love has not waned. In fact, it has only grown stronger with time. I now have  Picasa app for my iPhone, I organize all my classroom pictures with Picasa–I love using Faces so I can find pictures of my students quickly and easily. I *heart* Picasa!

Since then, I have discovered Picnik, a photo editing website that is linked with Picasa that allows you to edit your pictures FREE online. You can also edit pictures from Facebook, Yahoo, Flickr, MySpace and Photobucket. Additionally, you can edit pictures you find online or from your webcam. It is super easy and convenient!

You can do basic editing: Cropping, rotating, adjusting :


Here is a picture of me and my new little surrogate nephew, Jack.

Picnik 2

Rotate, adjust color and lighting. Now I can save it right back to my Picasa album as a new file or over the old file.

I can also use the “Create tools” to add stickers, frames or special effects. Or to censor someone’s face out of the picture as you’ve seen countless times on this blog.

How to Censor Faces in Pictures

I started out trying to do this “how to” with pictures, but it’s so much easier to show you using a screencast:
1. Open a picture in Picnik and click on the “Create” tab at the top of the screen.

2. Go to the “Effects”

3. “Focal Pixelate” To obscure someones face you will need to check the “Reverse Effect” option.

4. You can adjust the size of the pixels and the focal point to make sure that the face is completely obscured.

5. Save your picture and embed into your blog…easy peasy!

Pixelate 2

Other Features:

Create collages and fancy collages

Create shows

And more!

Check out Picnik!!

Leave a comment »

Share it Forward: Capzles

I read a blog post a couple weeks ago about Capzles, an online tool that can be used to make interactive timelines! Sounds cool, huh? I’ll admit I haven’t used this with my students yet, but it is on my list of tools to try. The timelines can have pictures, videos, links to websites, audio, and you can organize it all in a really intuitive format. (see the examples below) If you are interested in learning more you MUST check out this blog post and video by Kelly Tenkely at iLearn Technology…she also has made a fantastic video explaining how to create a Capzle!

Even though I haven’t had time to use this tool to create with my kids, I spent some time exploring the archives of Capzles that others have made and I found some great resources that I can use in my classroom now, and in the future. Like this Capzle about traveling across the regions of Texas! My kids will have love to looking at the pictures from each region! I’m going to embed this in my classroom blog for Tuesday!

Or here is one where a teacher goes around to different people with a video camera, asking them “Why should my students learn about history?” This would be such a neat way to start the year off in Social Studies!

To use Capzles you need to create a free account and unfortunately you do need an email…but you could create a classroom account or use a burn email address to create accounts for your students! Then you can go to work. It is super easy. And if you don’t have time to create, I suggest you explore some of the already created Capzles!

And then go ahead and share it forward!

Leave a comment »

Share it Forward: Fake Facebook

When I read this blog post by Free Technology for Teachers, I literally LOLed. My Fake Wall is a website that allows you to make a fake Facebook-like page. Why did I think that was funny? Because last year I did this with a fourth grade teacher for characters from a book! I duplicated a Facebook page in Publisher and the kids came in and manipulated it to look like that character’s Facebook. The kids loved it…and now someone has stolen my brilliant idea and made it into a wonderful website. Ay, yi, yi, if only I would capitalize on my wonderful ideas 🙂

So this is how it works:

You create an account (email required), and then click on “Create a Wall”.  Enter your person’s name, and then you can add pictures, information, friends and conversations to create their Fake Facebook wall! Cool. I tried it out and made a Fake Wall for “Jess Aarons” the main character in Bridge to Terabithia, the book we are reading right now. It was helpful that they made a movie about this book so I could find lots of pictures of the characters. Here is what I made in about 10 20 minutes:

Click on the picture to go to the full Jess Aarons' Fake Wall

Click on the picture to go to the full Jess Aarons' Fake Wall

I had so much fun doing this! I kept thinking of other character connections and events from the story I could add! As I added new events, I could drag and drop them into a different order! What a unique way to make a timeline of a story and show character interactions! I think I will use this with my class at the beginning of a novel unit and we will add characters and events as we read. I will create a class account and let the kids log in and add their own content…what a new collaborative tool

I also found this example FakeWall for the Greek god Hermes, hmmm, maybe I could add this as a project for my Greek Mythology Unit?

Go ahead…Share it Forward!

Leave a comment »

TenMarks: Free Math Website!

Here’s a little “Share it Forward” for you…I know it’s not Friday, but what was I thinking making Share it Forward a Friday event? Friday is the day reserved for lounging on the couch contemplating the weekend! No, Share it Forward is much more suited for Sunday afternoons, the day reserved for reading all the piled up posts in my Google Reader! So here it is!

This is a screenshot of my account. I entered myself as a student so I could try it out!

This is a screenshot of my account. I entered myself as a student so I could try it out!

I ran across Ten Marks on Free Technology 4 Teachers a few months ago(if you don’t follow this blog add it to your reader now! I get so many great ideas and resources). I bookmarked it with every intention of trying it out, but of course I got busy and forgot about it. I came across it again a few weeks ago and decided to give it a try. It is a FREE service, which always makes this Nerdy Teacher happy, and after you register as a teacher you can enter your whole class just by using their first names! No email addresses necessary. Big time perk. The site randomly generates a number to go with the students’ first names, I wrote these out on note cards for my forgetful kiddos.

Here’s how it works. The kids log in and choose from grade appropriate “albums” such as ‘Fractions and Decimals’, ‘Number Sense’ or ‘Measurement’. Then they choose a specific “track” or lesson to work on. The track is basically just multiple choice questions related to the topic. The beauty of the site is, if the student doesn’t know how to solve the problem they can choose to “watch a video” of the concept. They can also choose up to 3 hints. This is perfect for your struggling learner and your high achiever, it gives both the support they need.

The other neat thing about this site is that the kids have the freedom to choose what they want to work on, and they don’t have to finish a track or album in order to try a different one. They can do 10 questions in decimals, and then go do 5 questions in measurement. I wasn’t sure how my kids would react to this site because it didn’t have a whole lot of bells and whistles, but they LOVED it! They loved the freedom and were really motivated every time they got a question right! “Miss, I got it!!” rang out through the computer lab, like music to my ears!

Oh, one incentive it does offer, is that when they complete 6 tracks a game is unlocked in the reward zone. So simple, yet so effective! One of my lowest students in math BEGS me to let him go on this program! What?!

Picture 2

Other Features:

  • TenMarks automatically sends you a report of usage and how your students are doing each week. This is especially nice for an absent minded teacher like me, I don’t have to remember to check the site. Yes, please.
  • You can create “classes” for your students if you teach more than one section, or if you want to use just one account for your grade-level (this is what we did!)
  • There are also Album Certificates you can print out as your students finish an album.
  • Check out the Teacher Zone where you can access all the videos and resources to use with your class
  • Curriculum is linked to state standards

I HIGHLY recommend this site for teachers, or for parents.  Go ahead, share it forward!

Leave a comment »

Race to nowhere. What do you think?

One thing I really struggle with as a teacher is the amount of Standardized Test prep we have to do to get the kids ready for our state testing. It kills me to see kids who are stressed out about a test…and they are 9 or 10 years old. I’ll never forget my first year teaching  when I asked my reading class “Why do people read?”, and the first answer I got was, “To pass the TAKS test.” Is there something wrong with this picture?

This is a video that was posted on CoolCatteacher blog last week. This documentary is sure to bring up some sensitive questions– and sure it’s sensationalized and the filmmakers have an agenda, but I’m definitely going to see it when it comes out; and I hope it stimulates some good conversation.

Leave a comment »