Saturday, December 29, 2007

What technology will my child see in his lifetime?

A conversation with my father sparked this post. Today Dad was introduced to the Nintendo wii bowling game. For those unfamiliar with the system, a player straps a remote to her/his wrist and then becomes an active player in virtual sports. The remote serves as a tennis racket, a golf club, a bat... or with some add ons, boxing gloves, steering wheels.... the list goes on! A sensor bar on or below the tv "reads" the player's movements. So, using the remote, my dad was bowling in our living room.

Do you remember this??? The old Atari that allowed us to play games like Pitfall and Pong.

And this???

With each new entertainment or computer system that came into our home I can remember thinking...."this is so cool! It can't get better than this!" and with each advancing system the images became clearer and more vibrant, more engaging, more user friendly, more entertaining! I wonder what is coming next. In the 80s I would never have been able to wrap my head around the concept of a virtual environment, like Second Life, or the virtual gaming of the Nintendo wii! What technology will my child see in his lifetime?

From records, 8 tracks, cassettes, and CDs to mp3s and ipods.... what is next?

I can't even imagine, but I can't wait to find out! What do you think??

BTW, images are from wikipedia.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Juggling 21st Century Skills and PSSAs

Teachers face many challenges. The world is a rapidly changing place (understatement) and we sometimes find ourselves scrambling to keep the pace. I've been devouring books lately, audio and print, and have been really intrigued by the comparisons between 20th and 21st century skills. The above diagram outlines the skills I am referring to and is linked to its source which gives more detailed information.

NCLB has brought about state level standards and testing which require attention as well! As I sit in trainings about these skills, some wonder how teachers are to incorporate these 21st century skills in light of the testing. I do not see these as separate. Let me explain, using third grade as my example.

For me the standards set the curriculum but not HOW I teach. Therefor I can create lessons which encourage cooperation, collaboration, higher level thinking, and technology as I address the standards. Last quarter my students were to learning about ecosystems in Science. Rather than just read the book, complete the worksheets and activities, and recite the information back on a test..... we used a wiki.

On this webpage (Wiki) I placed links to sites dealing with the various ecosystems we were studying so each ecosystem had about 4 sites. This way my students were using the internet as a research tool. In small teams students had to explore the sites in order to be able to report back plant and animal life, as well as climate of their ecosystem. All notes were kept in an inspiration template. Each group created a poster of their ecosystem and "taught" us about their ecosystem. This was a mini jigsaw activity.

I was exploring with voicethread at the time and did not have parent permissions for students to participate, so I created a voicethread as a study guide for them. The next time I do this activity I will still have students create posters, but we will scan them. The scanned images would be used to make a class voicethread.

Ah, yes, PSSAs.... the test I used was written in multiple choice format so that students learn how to take that type of test. Grades, yes... I used students' work on the project and the test for determining a grade.

I know we get overwhelmed, but there are ways to address the curriculum by using 21st century skills. I feel that is important because these are the skills that our students will need in the world. If you made it this far, thanks! Here is a spot where a group of us are talking about teaching these skills.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

CFF Hearings

As I was sitting down to catch up on some email last night, I saw on Twitter that PCN was showing senate hearings on the CFF project. As I tuned in I really was at a loss. I had some many thoughts swirling around in my brain. I really wanted to discuss what I was watching. I put a message out on twitter that I was also watching the hearings and was looking to chat about it. One of my mentors from Keystones (and a CFF coach very in tune with educational technology issues) opened a skype chat. She and I were typing furiously, sharing ideas and opinions when another Keystone joined the conversation!
Yes, I know I am a geek, but more than that, I am a connected geek! Everything that I just described happened within ten minutes or so. Three PA educators were having a discussion about the state of educational technology and technology integration issues in PA.
How often have we watched shows or read books and can't wait to get involved in the lunchroom discussion, wondering what others thought of that episode of Lost? By using technology these types of chats, or backchannels, can happen in a timely fashion.
As for the content of the hearings, I am going to be looking for a blog entry on that from The Connected Classroom.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

CFF Training on the APPLE Side

This training consisted of how - tos, technology integration in action, and theory behind 21st century skills. We also practiced coaching! We were given a piece of paper (the only paper we used during the entire two day..everything else was digital) and asked to make a paper airplane. We flew our planes. My plane took a nose dive! We paired up with someone whose plane went really far and then the "expert" helped us improve our planes. The expert was not allowed to touch our planes. Through guided practice, verbal and visual directions, my plane flew across the room the second time. Needless to say, the time "flew."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

CFF Training on the PC Side

Day 1: For the next two days I will be exploring technology integration tools using the Levovo laptop that all of our PC teachers will using with the Classrooms for the Future grant. During these sessions we will be exploring ways to integrate 21st century skills. Right now we are learning about blogs and everyone is learning to create one. I have some nice, easy "how to" directions for anyone interested! I will keep you "posted." Pun intended.

Day 2: Today we completed two interactive activities. The first was a google earth activity where we had to plan a trip and complete an estimate of cost for the trip. My group spent most of our time trying to embed a picture with the placeholder. The other major project was completing a timeline using Learning Essentials (templates that go with Microsoft Office). Our timeline dealt with events of the Civil War and looking at ways communication occurred in 1863 vs. communication paths today. One of my network friends was attending this same training in Pittsburgh. Get this, he skyped in a Civil War expert to help his group! Cheating, I think not. Using available resources creatively... YES! Bravo, MB!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

MEOW - Meeting Leopard

Friday night my copy of OS X Leopard arrived! The back up and installation took about 3 hrs. The only negative thing I noticed was that my documents need to be organized. For some reason all of my movies and documents are smooshed together. That's minor.

iChat has some minor glitches. A friend shared his screen and then we couldn't get the cameras back on. I had to restart.

I really like the organizational features! The dock houses the applications, documents, and downloads, but the new part is that, with one click, you can see your apps. in a stack or grid format. Documents show in a cover flow, and downloads are either a stack or grid. I really wanted to try out time machine but my external hard drive is not large enough.

The new photo booth background have kept my son pretty busy. Ok, I like it too! I am anxious to try Time Machine, the back-up feature new to Leopard. Unfortunately, my external hard drive is not large enough.

I have to say, this is one nice kitty!

Saturday, October 13, 2007


As I have been reading feeds and checking out blogs lately I have noticed that many of them have a common thread. Many of my new pals are feeling overwhelmed. I have to admit that I am feeling the same way. I have spent some time thinking about all of this...

When I stop to think where I was less than five months ago... I was a third grade teacher very excited about integrating Palm Pilots, Inspiration, Appleworks, and Knowledge Box into her classroom instruction. I had never heard of wikis, twitter, skype, and the like. Along came July 2007 and the Keystone Technology Integrators Summit. Little did I know that my life was about to change drastically. Every minute of every day I was being exposed to new technology and tools, new people and ideas, new ways to keep in touch! Mike B. was so right on at the Summit, Day one, when he said something like, "you are going to learn new things but, for me, it was more about the people and the connections I made."

There are times that I do feel overwhelmed by all of the tools and technologies that are created and evolving almost daily. Then I stop. I take a second to think about all of the wonderful people I met, the ones who have become my network. I am not in this alone. There are others who share my passion. If I get stuck, if I need to vent, if I can lend an ear or some advice, my network is a click away.

So, as I reflect back, I realize how lucky I am to have had the experiences that I have had, to learn more about how our digital natives learn, to experience some pretty awesome tools to enhance learning and teaching, to connect with others who are just as excited about this stuff as I am, and to be able to have some really incredible brain food! The learning curve is steep right now, but I am truly enjoying the ride! P.S. Kristin H. this is all your fault ;)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Virtual Bookclub

Would you like to join a book club where the meetings happen virtually? You read a book and then join others in a virtual environment to discuss the book. A group of us are doing just that! The book that we have chosen is Wikinomics, How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything. Our group meeting will be set up here. Feel free to join!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

K12 Online Conference

Just when I thought life couldn't possible get more exciting, along came the K12 Online Conference. This is a conference that spans the course of a few weeks and meets no where and everywhere! Presenters upload their content or arrive virtually. There are some sessions where participants can go and chat about what they've seen, heard, and experienced. Can you imagine? A conference that comes to you, when you are ready for it! As David Warlick, the first keynote speaker and respected blogger, said, we are redefining the boundaries!

A link to the entire schedule is here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


I have been reading and thinking about Thomas J. Friedman's book The World is Flat. Friedman spends the first few chapters of his book giving examples of ways in which the world has been flattened. In my mind I replaced flattened with the word "connected." If I have learned nothing else over the last 3 months it is that our world can be connected!In my new roles as Keystone Technology Integrator and Classrooms of the Future Coach I have been introduced to a multitude of new concepts and applications. Whenever I have questions, need advice, want to share something new, or get feedback all I have to do is send my request through my twitter feed, skype pals, ichat buds, posts on blogs or wikis and (almost instantly) I am connected!

These web2.0 tools have enabled me to be connected, giving lifelong learning a whole new look! Can you just image the educational implications here!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Classrooms For the Future

This week was an exciting one! Our district was awarded of $360,000 in a state wide grant initiative to bring high schools into the 21st century. We have a technology supervisor who is incredible! She has brought many grants into our district. To make a long story short, I was asked in April if I would consider putting my resume into the state so that I may have an opportunity to apply for the "coach" position that accompanies this grant. As of Tuesday night I have become our district's coach which means that I will have the opportunity to work with our high school teachers to assist them in integrating the technology coming as a result of the grant.

This is an incredible honor for me! In the same breathe it has been one of the toughest weeks in my teaching career. I have spent four weeks with my 3rd graders and feel that I have really connected with them. After sharing the news with them, writing to their parents, and going through a box of tissues, I am packing and getting ready to go to "boot camp" next week. Having spent the day with the long term substitute teacher filling in for me, watching her interact with the children today, I can honestly say this is going to be an incredible year!

An old friend once told me that you don't grow unless you step outside your comfort zone. So, here I go!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Uses for Video iPods in the Classroom

I have been asked recently, "How do you use video iPods in education?" While I have my own uses I thought this would be a good opportunity to do a bit of research. Here, in random order, are some ideas that I found from various sources (sources listed below):
*Share video (purchased from iTunes store or other sources - they have "Schoolhouse Rock" clips!
*Capture and convert streaming video (teachertube...) to share in the classroom.
*Use iPod to hold video that you make with your class.
*Use Apple's iQuiz to create and share quizzes
*Share audiobooks (great for differentiating instruction).
*Creating and sharing podcasts.
*Listen to podcasts found online. (Apple has iTunes U which has some incredible material.)

If you are looking for a more comprehensive list, visit

Other sources:
Apple's resources
iPods in Education

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Sending Text Messages with iChat

I was listening to the MacCast and learned that it is soooo easy to send text messages using iChat on the Mac! All you do is add a person, select AIM acct., enter +1 and the mobile phone number with area code as the person's name, and then you can start sending text messages via iChat! The messages come back to you in iChat. There is a link to click when you want the messages to start going to your phone.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

A Visual Search Engine!

By listening to a podcast (can't remember which one) I heard about a visual search engine, called Page Bull, which I found to be very helpful!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


How many times have I bookmarked something only to forget what computer I was on at the time and what web browser I was utilizing?!? Since July I have been using, a social bookmarking site. I added a tool to Firefox and, when I bookmark a site, I can add tags to organize it. Then, these links are available to me on the web, on any computer I choose to use!

We The Teachers

Tonight I learned of a site created by a teacher and her husband that is packed full of resources for teachers in a variety of grade levels and subject areas. I came across everything from PowerPoints and handouts (pdf) to lesson plans. This is an awesome, free way for teachers to share! A login is required but it is FREE! Have fun.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Video iPod to TV

I love social networking! Thanks to a pal on my twitter feed I learned of a $2.10 cable for connecting a video iPod to a tv (which, thanks to PTA, all of our classrooms possess). After hooking it up I was able to get audio but no video. A dear, sweet techy cousin found this link for me... and now it is working! So basically, I had to go to Video>Video settings>TV out and turn it on. BINGO! Thanks to all involved and now my third graders can experience the cool Schoolhouse Rock videos that I purchased from iTunes!

Friday, August 24, 2007

All Charged Up (How's that for poor grammar?)

After using Palm Pilots with my 3rd graders for several years, I finally found an inexpensive, easy way to charge the Palms. The back story is that this summer I had the good fortune of hearing Tony Vincent speak at Shippensburg University (PA Keystone Summit). Later I explored his website and learned that another teacher uses baskets to manage the plugs, boxes, and wires. The picture illustrates my variation. I used a crate to hold all of the surge protectors and chargers. Then I laced all of the wires into the smaller green basket. Finally I used the purple caddy to hold the palms. This makes it easy to store the palms as well. After they are charged I can unplug them, grab the purple caddy, and lock it in a cabinet.

Our tech. supervisor has purchased a set of video ipods for use in the district this year! Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Learning in the PALM of your Hand

Thanks to an ambitious technology supervisor and the EETT grant, my Palm Pilots are charged and ready to go! The students use Palms in writing workshop, in response to literature, to take notes in content areas, and to complete self-checking math fact practice quizzes. I have found Tony Vincent's website extremely helpful! This begins year 4 of handheld learning in my room!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Tonight on twitter, I learned of this site..... from Kristin Hokanson, an awesome person I met at the Keystone Summit! At 9pm this evening the site hosted a show called "Women of Web2.0." Through iTunes I listened to some very inspiring educators and how they plan to use Web2.0 tools, and technology in general, with their students this year. Kristin was one of the speakers and she shared several important points. The one that I want to share is that teachers are all in different places when it comes to integrating technology. Comfort levels differ. That's ok! The important thing is to work a step at a time, like we do with our kiddos. Take them from where they are - and move them forward.

Kristin also mentioned that these tools are enabling us to make our classrooms connected. No longer are our classrooms these little isolated rooms with four walls..... they can become global. So, one of my goals for this year is to share what I have learned about Web2.0 tools in my district. I hope to offer a class before winter.

Friday, August 17, 2007

I have been tagged...

Tag! I'm it! Jennifer Moylan tagged me this week! In an effort to make our presence known as bloggers, we were excited to follow her tag and pass it along to others. By tagging others, we can create new connections and learn from what others know.

Here are the rules:
Post these rules before you give your facts.
List 8 random facts about yourself.
At the end of your post, choose (tag) 8 people and list their names, linking to them.
Leave a comment on their blog, letting them know they’ve been tagged.

So, here are my random facts:
1. My husband, son, and I have been raising chickens that lay rainbow colored eggs.
2. I have been teaching 11 years, one year in 4th grade and the rest in 3rd grade.
3. Thanks to my technology supervisor I have been using Palm Pilots with my classes for 4 years.
4. Our family loves to ride ATVs, especially in mud!
5. Making jewelry is one of my favorite hobbies.
6. I have one younger sister and a total of 7 step-siblings.
7. Integrating technology is one of my passions.
8 I am hopelessly addicted to diet Pepsi.

Unfortunately I know few people with blogs. I hope to teach a Web2.0 course in our district this fall, so I am going to tag just two people for now.

I tag:

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Journey North Tulip Project

While taking a professional development course last year, another 3rd grade teacher stumbled across a website that we both made use of last year. In our Science curriculum we study plant parts, growth, life cycles... and this site allowed up to participate in a project with tulips!

After examining the bulbs, we planted them with the help of 7th and 8th graders. Then we reported online when we planted the bulbs, when they emerged, and when they bloomed. We became part of a constantly changing map. We were able to predict when we thought spring would arrive in different locations all over North America and Canada as well as view patterns in nature.

Journey North offers quite a few projects.... I would love to try out the monach migration project next. Our bulbs are already on order for this year.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Class Pet

Meet Googles, our Webkinz class pet! Children earn reward coupons that they can use toward special priviledges, such as skipping a night of homework, extra Palm or computer time, craft area time, using a special chair... and now my third graders can earn time caring for our class pet. On the Webkinz site, Googles becomes a virtual pet. The children will encounter many different learning games as they help to make sure that Googles is happy, healthy, and well fed!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Podcasting with Garage Band

Apple support offers this information regarding podcasting via Garage Band.

Class Website

I communicated to students and parents through this site:

Our Vision

At the Keystone Summit, we were placed in small groups that met once a day. Each groups was to come up with what we thought the classroom of the future would look like. Here is our vision...

Keystone Project 2007