Archive for Tools

Where to start confessing…

I don’t know where to even begin confessing…About a month ago I started a new job as a Technology Integration Specialist and I’m just beginning to figure out what on earth that means! I’m planning to continue sharing resources and ideas, but they might look a little different because I’m not just teaching 4th grade anymore!

Confession: I really miss being a classroom teacher! I hear from other specialists that I’ll get over this, but right now I miss having my own students and classroom and I miss knowing what I’m doing! Ok, so it’s kind of nice not having grading and the million+ other things that a classroom teacher has to do, but it’s also very weird. We’ll see, maybe by the end of the year I’ll never want to go back to the classroom…Speaking of here is one of the things that I get to do in my new job:

1:1 iPads in the classroom:

I am SUPER lucky to be working with an amazing second grade teacher to facilitate a 1:1 iPad pilot. Yes, you read that correctly, 1 iPad for every student. Swoon! (I’d go back to the classroom in a second for 1:1 iPads!!!) Not only was I given an iPad to use, but I have spent many hours working on plans and ideas for iPad integration in the second grade classroom. Check out my Diigo resource list here: iPad Resources

If you are lucky enough to have any iPads in your classroom you should check this out…I will continue to add to the list as I find more ideas and resources!

One that we are really excited about is ePud Bud and this could be used in any classroom, not just the iPad blessed ones!

You can use this website to make your own eBooks! You can scan pages in or have kids create them, but they can be loaded on any device or viewed on the website. Cool, cool, cool!


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How many is too many?

Blogs that is…how many is too many blogs?  I decided I needed some new blogs to follow. So I casually started surfing the web–2 hours and about 30 blogs later I couldn’t stop. Each amazing Media/Library blog led me to another amazing blog (darn blogrolls!).  

This wave of additions to my Google Reader got me thinking that my Reader could use some sprucing up. I went through and reorganized my favorite blogs into folders and then discovered “Bundles”. Eureka, I can share my folders with the world! So, I have added a tab on the top of this blog “Blogs I Follow” where you can check out what blogs I follow (I know, very creative labeling). Just another discovery on a hot summer afternoon 🙂

PS. I’m kind of a Google Reader evangelist, so if you don’t have a reader or don’t know what a reader is, click here to watch a great video explaining Google Reader in Plain English.

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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!!

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DIY: Dry Erasers

“Miss O., can I hand out the socks?!”

This may not be a normal request in your classroom, but it is in mine!

When I posted the other day about using page protectors to create instant dry erase boards, it reminded me of another idea! I got this idea from my cooperating teacher when I was student teaching. I was perplexed when all the students brought a sock with their school supplies, then Mrs. Huisman explained that the socks were used as dry erasers. Brilliant! Of course, I forgot about this until later…

When I started using page protector dry erase boards on a regular basis, I would hand out tissues to everyone to erase their boards. But then cold and flu season hit, and we did not have tissues to spare! Then I remembered those socks. I made a run walmart and picked up a class set of socks (only one per student, not a pair!). Then I put one skinny marker and one thick marker in each sock.

DSCN1488 DSCN1489 DSCN1492

Ok, clearly these socks have been used! 🙂 The great thing about storing your dry erase markers this way, is that you get your markers and erasers handed out in one step…and the kids can’t see what color marker they are getting, no arguing… perfect. I store my markers in a container like this:


Remember that container from my garage saling this summer?! I have put it to good use.

So there you go, DIY dry erase boards and dry erasers! Unfortunately, I do not have an idea DIY ideas for making dry erase board markers…we have these on our school supply list at the beginning of the year.

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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!

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Page Protectors: Wipe-off Review

This is a super simple resource that you can use for anything. All you need is enough plastic page protectors and dry erase markers for your whole class.

I have found that there are some papers that we use on a regular basis in the classroom, but it bugged me to have to make/waste copies. So, in an effort to be green, I made a very small investment in a big box of page protectors. (I think I got mine at Staples for about $8 for 50) Tip: Get the crystal clear or diamond clear kind, not matte, they erase better.

So when we do an activity that needs a paper resource, but not one that the kiddos will turn in, we pull out the page protectors and slip the page in. It might be easier just to show you…

For comparing and ordering fractions we use fraction bars, but it would take a LOT of paper to do one homework assignmnet! So I have the kids slip their fraction bars into a page protector and wha-la, they can shade to their hearts content!

Here you can see the fraction bars in action!

Here you can see the fraction bars in action!

Other things that we put in page protectors:

I also have a template of each of these on my SMARTBoard Notebook so that I can show them on the board too, check them out here:  Math Templates.

You can also find a complete list of SMART templates here: SMART Resources

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How many Webtools Can I Put in One Post?

Yesterday I spent the afternoon “putzing” around with different web 2.0 tools that my friends in the blogosphere have recommended. I discovered Weblist, a great way to organize websites, videos, documents, pictures etc…for your kids to access. So naturally I decided to create a Weblist for a webquest I created last weekend on “Temperature Around the World”.

My Webquest for Temperature Around the world uses another website I discovered: WunderMaps…oh sweet website that fulfilled my every need! I was looking for a website that would show current temperatures around the world, and this one went above and beyond! There are so many different ways to could use this in your classroom– weather patterns, geography, science..

I used Weblist to create my Webquest using Wundermaps. (Say that 5 times fast!) But I didn’t stop there. WunderMaps and Weblist are new for my students, and even though I am going to show them how to use both tools, they are bound to be forgetful.

So, enter webtool number 3! I used Jing, a screenshot/screencast tool that allows me to create a narrated screencast for FREE. Oh, wonder or wonders. I uploaded the Jing screencast of how to use Weblist and Wundermaps onto my Weblist so that my students can watch the video when the forget everything that I taught them, as they are apt to do!

FINALLY, I linked all these wonderful tools my my little blog here so that you could benefit from my Web tools extravaganza! More about how this activity goes in a coming post 🙂

Here are the links to the content I created:


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