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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Daily Newpaper format from Twitter!

A great new concept I discovered today -- a daily collecting of Twitter feeds from the hash-tags and people that I follow all formatted into a daily newspaper style format.

A great way to help put all of my info and #tags into a single, readable location.

Check it out!

Writing Prompt after Reading....

On Thursday of last week (1/27/11) we were reading our chapter in the book "Stuck in the Principal's Body" and after we finished reading, had the discussion about what we had read to help with comprehension, we still had some time. So I walked up to the board and wrote "If I Were A Snowman I would..." and ask them to finish the sentence as well as create a story of what it would be like to spend a day as a snowman.

After the groans and getting the paper and pencils all set we started talking about what it would be like and rather than have the students write it I had them "dictate" their individual stories to a peer tutor to do the actual writing.

This was a great success. The peer tutor was not allowed to change the word choice, the sentence structure or grammar, they were there to just document what the student was saying and try to at least get some sentences with some punctuation.

This process freed up the students to use their imagination, especially after having more "snow days" than "school days" in this winter month of January. Their stories were great and they were very proud of them as the peer tutors read them aloud, one by one.

Everyone participated. Everyone enjoyed the process and all became "writers for that day." One young man decided to take the "art" time after we had finished to illustrate his story - and several notebook pages later we had a complete story and illustrations.

I think I'm going to try to get him to work on it again and we will craft it into a book format using the technology available. This would be a big boost to him and for his classmates.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Teaching Students with Exceptional Needs Is Fun!

When we returned from Winter Break in early January I thought it would be a great time to start working with my students (a mid-to-high functioning CDC classroom) on learning about the body, how the body relates to others and how to take care of the body and others... so the first day back we all sat around a table so that I could get their input on what they would like to know. We made our list of body parts or systems that they would like to know more about; then moved on to how do we take care of our body and finally ended the session by planning our full semester of Science topics to cover a topic per week that everyone can help with and participate in learning.

We started with the BRAIN... since that's the most important organ in the body we had to understand how it works, what it's composed of and what the pieces do in working together as a team.  We have incorporated Graphic Organizers, we have written songs and sung songs about the brain, but the most fun they had was when we took play-dough and made a copy of each lobe of the brain. We divided up and everyone took a lobe using a different color then at the end we had to put all of the lobes together to make one brain - this generated individual thinking of what we had learned, but then required team work in making sure that each person's lobe would fit together in the outline of the skull that we had made on poster board.

To make it even more fun, we listened to the cartoon characters "Pinky and the Brain" sing the "Brain Song" that identifies the different parts of the brain. I put the you tube video on repeat and it played over and over while we worked individually and together to make "our" brain.

We laughed, we sang, but even more importantly - we learned to work both individually and then come together as a team to make all of the pieces work together.

You can too can make learning fun!

Mr. Don.

Special Needs Parent Magazine...

Here's a link to a great magazine that helps parents of special needs children.

They have good online information and a great resources page as well.


iPAD apps...

One of the best iPhone apps for kids is  Kinder Hangman - 

It is designed to improve vocabulary of kids and help them remember new words. iTune link is 

This iPhone app works to improve the child's development and can be used to prepare kids for school. It is intended for kids of 4-6 years. 

Thanks to for listing it!

Monday, January 10, 2011

A great site on using Google Earth in the classroom!!

Thanks to @web20classroom, Steven W. Anderson,  who provided the link below from Twitter. 

Check it out for a great site on using Google Earth!!

Remember that Google Earth is free, but you must download it to the computer you are going to use it from!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Weblog Code of Conduct....

Here are a few sources for weblog guidelines that can help you as you create your own weblog code of conduct:
  • Working Smart weblog guidelines: Michael Hyatt of Thomas Nelson Publishers offers his take on the ins and outs of blogging. This blog entry is entitled, "Corporate Blogging Guidelines, Draft #2," and is directed toward employees.
  • weblog guidelines: This site, which is dedicated to women bloggers, keeps its Community Guidelines short and sweet with only two rules. Content is directed to participating bloggers.
  • weblog guidelines: These guidelines are directed to journalists who blog, as well as to responsible and ethical bloggers who are not journalists. They are modified from the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics.

20 Characteristics Common Among Unschoolers....

My father was unschooled and he met 80% of these characteristics. He inspired me to learn, to go to school and to never stop learning, even though school was over. Thanks, Dad!

They are driven by passion: No one asked or seemed to care.

They have a love of learning: No one acknowledged or respected my learning as a person. I was more of a future core, number, or graduation rate tally.

They want you to know that school isn’t the best place to learn lessons on socialization:  Actually, socialization wasn't part of family structure no matter where we were. 

They are happy: I was happy in school. But unhappy when I began to learn more than my parents.
They have interesting careers that they enjoy: There was no time at school devoted to helping me figure out what career I would pursue, instead the focus was on what grade I might get.
They are artistic in some way: There was not an opportunity to explore my artistic side at school. In fact, I think they preferred we believe we were not artistic as that would take away time from doing well on tests.
They are creative: Their creativity was different. It was their hands in crafting; not in technology. Teacher told us the assignment and we were assessed their way.

They have a concern for the environment: Environment? What environment? Side note: There were cigarettes all over the smoking section (yep, we had a smoking section) at our school. This environment will last forever. 

They consider learning in the world far more authentic and valuable then learning in the school world.
School is for learning. If you spend time living life, you’re being lazy. You should be studying. But then when I was reading for pleasure, the question was asked over and over; "Why do you always have a book in your hand?" My answer: "I enjoy reading." 

They are white. At least all the ones I’ve read about. Looking to be proven wrong here. Yep. We were.

Many educators know what Kozol writes about so eloquently. Our schools are grotesquely segregated.
They deeply consider whether college is the right choice for them rather than it being a given.
College readiness was all I knew. Didn’t matter what I were interested in. Just that I were ready to go into debt to pay for more school. I had scholarships for part of the schooling. Drop out when the money became easier to make than pursuing the grades. 

They don’t believe that they are an exception because they are especially self motivated, driven, or smart, though they like to be called that. Rather unschooling has empowered them to be this way.
I was motivated to prove to my Dad that I could achieve more and more and more...

They are adventurous. For some that means local adventures, and others world adventures.
Adventure takes time away from learning.

They are grateful that they were unschooled for the most part.  My mom decided to go back and get her GED. I was proud of her. I'm now completing my BA and becoming a teacher. 

The unschooled are grown or growing up and they seem pretty happy, driven, and passionate, but then so do I!

Posted by The Innovative Educator reprinted from blog posting here.

The Truth About Leadership

Chris Kennedy of Vancouver, BC Canada has done a review of the book titled "The Truth About Leadership" on his blog... check out their 10 "Truths" about leadership here.   A great read!!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

FB Alert!

A Face Book Privacy Alert!!

FB ALERT; As of 01/08/2011, a NEW PRIVACY setting called "Instant Personalization" shares data with non-Facebook websites and it is automatically set to "Enable." 
Go to Account 
    >Privacy Settings 
    > Applications and Websites (bottom left of window)
    >Instant Personalization 
    > Edit Settings, and un-check "Enable". 

BTW, if your friends don't do this, they will be sharing information about you.

Watch the video on the facebook site and read the information provided and make your own choice. 

I did and decided that I don't want my information shared unless I control it! So I unchecked the Enable button. 


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Glossary of Instructional Strategies

Compiled and copyrighted by Kelly Jo Rowan this is a great alphabetical listing of Instructional Strategies that can be used for any type of classroom. Great listing and updated frequently.