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Saturday, October 29, 2011

National Writing Project - About Using Google Docs

This is a great resource on using Google Docs from the National Writing Project.

Check it out here!  You will be amazed at what all you can do and how simple it is!


Saturday, October 22, 2011

A great site on Emerging Perspectives on Learning, Teaching & Technology in Education

The University of Georgia has created a wiki site which provides an enormous amount of content and information on teaching, learning and technology. Check it out HERE!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Today is National Writing Day!!

Initiated by the National Council of Teachers of English in 2009, October 20 is the National Day on Writing!

Outline for writing mini-lesson in second grade

Reading/Writing - TEACHERS
A chatboard for teachers of reading and writing

Sequence of Events (Middle, Reading/Writing)

Journal Writing Ideas (Elementary, Reading/Writing)


Teaching Writing to 37 Second Graders

Please remember to help us while you browse these resources.

Use Picture Books to Teach Creative Writing

Practical Tips for Teaching Elementary Writing

A Simple Way to Improve Students' Essay Writing

Writing Like Picasso

Writing prompts for October 20:

In 1883, the first vocational school in the United States was opened in Baltimore, MD. A vocational school specializes in training students for specific jobs. If you were to choose a job you might like to be trained for, what would it be? What are three things you would have to learn in order to do that job?

In 1956, a German doctor, Hannes Lindemann, began his successful attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a kayak. The trip took 76 days. The kayak was only 17 feet long, and had to carry all the supplies Lindemann needed for the entire journey. What are three problems a person trying such a trip would need to solve?

In 1859, the Minerva Club, the first club exclusively for women, was organized in New Harmony, Indiana. Some people think that there should not be any organizations for just men or just women, others disagree. How do you feel about this? Give reasons for your opinion.

Writing prompts for the remainder of October

NCTE resources for National Day on Writing:

Brought to you by Teachers.Net Gazette. Your support is appreciated!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Bloom's Taxonomy --- So many options!!

This website is a great tool for so many of the ways to look at Bloom's Taxonomy... Check it out by clicking HERE!!!


Friday, October 7, 2011

Maths Teaching Ideas: 10 Great Maths Games Sites

Posted by Pooky Hesmondhalgh on July 11, 2011 at 8:56 am

Online maths teaching games can be a great way to engage students in maths learning, even if they aren’t very motivated in class. There a huge range of sites available and I’m recommending ten that were highlighted to me by Vijay Krishnan, a maths tutor who has found that these sites have really improved his students’ maths abilities.

This was tweeted earlier today and I wanted to share it here as well as use it in my classroom!


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Interesting TED talk about Leadership...

I hadn't really thought of the first follower being so powerful. I've always been taught that the leader is the most important. This talk from Derek Sivers on has provided a new insight.

This is also a part of classroom management from the view of the "ripple effect" -- it's true that if you have one that does something then others follow -- but if you understand that the "first follower" is the key to handling the ripple effect in a classroom, then you can manage control much better.

Watch Derek's video HERE.


Every Teacher Should Have a Blog (and why!)

I first ran across this video from the website "Free Technology for Teachers" and since then I've referred several of my fellow educators to the site for understanding why it's a good idea to use a blog as a teacher.

So for those of you that have asked where they can find it, I've posted a link HERE to Richard Byrne's website.


8 Tips to Engage Students--from ASCD...

Tymeesa Rutledge wrote an excellent article from ASCD's March conference on "Eight Tips to Engage Your Students" -- these are practical and worth looking at. Sometime we forget the common sense approach to classroom setup, management and student engagement.

Click HERE to see the entire article.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Fall Break - Relax, Refresh, Reflect and Renew!

One of the great parts of a modified nine and two calendar is that after nine weeks of instruction there is a two week of break for both the students and the instructors. Those two weeks are broken into intercession and professional development as well as time off.

What will you do with the time? Will you relax, reflect or renew? Either way you and the students will be refreshed and ready for the next nine weeks of exciting instruction.

Relax - Since school began there has been a constant pushing and pacing to get the material covered, the lessons taught and rules and consequences practice and in place, just in time for a two-week break. So take the time and modify your schedule. Do something that will allow you to relax. Change your routine around. Enjoy time with friends. Work on your hobby or visit places of interest that you can do as the Autumn season allows us to enjoy. The important thing is to make time for relaxation. To clear the mind and to change the routine so that you are doing things differently.

Reflect - Now that you are more relaxed, you can start to reflect on what worked, what didn't work and how you might do things somewhat differently in your classroom when school returns to session. This is a good time for self-reflection and for determining, without the pressure of a daily schedule, what really did work in the classroom over the last nine weeks and what didn't. If you are a list maker, then make a list of things to do again and things not to do again. Put the list aside for a couple of days and then look at it again. With fresh eyes and a mind that is clear you can then focus on what made the classroom work for you and for the students.

Renew - You ask isn't this the same as relaxing? Not really. To renew is to "become new or as if new again," according to the dictionary. So, maybe you need to read over your lesson plans, your text book, visit some websites and see what others are doing in your area of expertise. Perhaps a renewal would be to personally recommit to be a life-long learner and to teach the students that same trait. To help them to understand that just because you are "out of school" we never really stop learning. What can you do to renew? Glad you asked. Here are ten great renewal techniques for all educators:

#1 - Laugh. Out loud. Completely and deeply find something that is funny and laugh out loud. This can be such a cleansing and laughter remains one of the healing mysteries.

#2 - Listen to music. Put your iPad, MP3 player or anything that you can listen to music with and turn off all of the other media inputs. Really listen to the music. Use headphones that totally cover your ears so that you can become engulfed in the music. Listen to how the music flows, get lost in it. Enjoy your favorites and get lost in your own concert.

#3 - Eat right. When we have time off we don't eat on the same schedule. Just because we can doesn't mean we have to eat those types of foods that will add additional sugars or fats -- those that taste so good. Instead, focus on eating foods that will help you to relax without adding to your waist.

#4 - Breathe. That's right, breathe. Inhale deeply and exhale slowly. For some of us we have been so busy that we've even been overheard to say, "I'm so busy with school I don't have time to breathe!" So, breathe! Take deep breaths and exhale completely. The mind, heart and especially the lungs will thank you for it.

#5 - Exercise. Yes, even if it's just for a short time. Exercise doesn't necessarily mean power lifting at the gym or training for a marathon. A short walk around the yard or simply standing up to stretch during a break can offer immediate relief in a stressful situation. Getting your blood moving releases endorphins and can improve your mood almost instantaneously.

#6 - Sleep. Get some rest during this time. Unfortunately, lack of sleep is a key cause of stress. This vicious cycle causes the brain and body to get out of whack and only gets worse and worse with time. Make it a point to get the doctor-recommended seven to eight hours of sleep. Turn the TV off earlier, manage your time, and do your best to get into bed. It may be the most effective stress buster on our list. Don't try to make up for the lost sleep during the school year. Now is the time to start a better habit of time management and getting the proper sleep.

#7 - Change your attitude. When you have a positive attitude you will feel better, work better and see things in a better view. Over time you’ll learn to meet negativity with a positive reaction. A positive attitude will keep you from slipping back so easily into feeling overwhelmed. Don't let the attitude of a few make you join their negative ways -- keep the positive attitude and those with negativity will go away.

#8 - Plan. Plan. Plan. Yes, as educators we do a lot of planning. But this is more time management and planning of our day. Since you have some time now to look back at your daily schedule, then make some rules for your day. Drowning in papers. We’ve all been there, and it’s not a great place to be. To the extent you control your daily schedule, make your workload work for you. Time-management skills are vital to planning, prioritizing, and completing tasks. Set hourly or daily goals, but be realistic. If there’s no way you will complete a project in two days, do not push yourself. If, in the end, you’re left with some extra time after completing your project, consider it a few spare moments you can catch up on email or get ahead on your next task.

#9 - Just say no. Don't over commit. Sometimes we are asked to serve and to do and to work and we feel that we should. But there are limits to our commitments. We have to have a balance of time with our students, with our families and for ourselves. If you have no time left for you, then you will begin to regret the time you spend with others and it will add that much more stress. Take this time to look at your commitment and prioritize those things that you really want to be involved with and those that you don't want, just politely disengage yourself. You never know, but there maybe someone else who wants and has the time to volunteer, but doesn't because there are others already in place. Rotation of volunteerism is good.

#10 - Don't sweat the small stuff. Focus on the things you can change, you can do and you are prepared to spend resources (time, money and energy) doing. Then let the rest of it go. Identify what and who you want to be and do those things that support that decision. You will be much happier and your stress level will be reduced as well.

Enjoy the time provided in the nine and two calendar. 

Our next break will be coming up after the next nine weeks of instruction and what you don't get done in this two week time of renewal and reflection you can continue. Enjoy the break and don't forget -- Laugh often, laugh deep and take care of you - you are an educator. You are priceless!


Sunday, October 2, 2011

If You Can Type: You Can Make Movies!!

This website is great for educators of all kids... the kids will love the avatars and you can control the content.   Check it out HERE!


A Great Inspirational Video from a "Pencil"

What's inside of you is the most important part!

Power Point -- Great video on what NOT TO DO!!!

Don McMillan: Life After Death by PowerPoint

Here's a great video on what not to do when creating your next power point!!  

Thanks to Don McMillan for posting!!


So how can we fight Engagement Deficit Disorder?

How do we RE-ENGAGE students who have checked out?

Read Caitlan Tucker's blog and her 10 ideas on how we can re-engage our students in the classroom. 

Free High School Books in digital format!!

Here's a great website that lists how to get 20 popular high school books.

Every year, thousands of American high school students read a common selection of great novels — classics loved by young and old readers alike. Today, we have selected 20 of the most popular books and highlighted ways that you can download versions for free, mostly as free audio books and ebooks, and sometimes as movies and radio dramas. You will find more great works — and sometimes other digital formats — in our collections of Free Audio Books and Free eBooks. So please give them a good look over, and if we’re missing a novel you want, don’t forget’s 14 day trial. It will let you download an audio book for free, pretty much any one you want.

Click HERE for the blog posting of the 20 most popular books in digital format....

Alternative Assessments

40 Alternative Assessments for LearningBy: Charity Preston

When people think of assessment, pencils and bubble sheets may be the first things that come to mind. Assessment does not always have to involve paper and pencil, but can instead be a project, an observation, or a task that shows a student has learned the material. 

In the end, all we really want to know is that the skill was mastered, right? Why not make it fun and engaging for students as well?

Many teachers shy away from alternative assessments because they take extra time and effort to create and to grade. On the other hand, once the assessment guidelines and grading rubric are created, it can be filed away and used year after year.

The project card and rubric can be run on card stock (one on each side of the page), laminated, and hole punched with other alternative assessment ideas. Keep them all together in a binder or with an o-ring. Assessment just became a snap!

Here are 40 alternative assessment ideas to get you started! CLICK
HERE for Charity's blogpost....

Creating your own eBooks for use on the iPad or Tablets...

I ran across this blog on how to create your own eBooks and immediately thought how I could take my lessons and create them as eBooks so that my students could download them afterwards and use them as extensions, review, or in case they missed a lesson or wanted to study for assessments later in the term.

Click HERE to so to the original blog entry from


LiveBinders!! A great new tool for all teachers

LiveBinder is a great new tool for the Educator2.0 that wants to share their work with others or have their work online and be able to use it interactively!  Check out their website HERE.


I found the following poem (written by Lee Crockett, Ian Jukes and Andrew Churches) on Tony Gurr's All Things Learning blog.  Take a look at Tony's blog and follow it, too!!

In coming closer and closer to the end of my teacher education program I thought it was appropriate to re-post the poem as part of what I intend to become -- along with a continuing reflective educator!

What is a Teacher?
A guide, not a guard.
What is learning?
A journey, not a destination.
What is discovery?
Questioning the answers, not answering the questions.
What is the process?
Discovering ideas, not covering content.
What is the goal?
Open minds, not closed issues.
What is the test?
Being and becoming, not remembering and reviewing.
What is learning?
Not just doing things differently, but doing different things.
What is teaching?
Not showing them what to learn, but showing them how to learn
What is school?
Whatever we choose to make it.

(by Lee Crockett, Ian Jukes & Andrew Churches)

140 Ways to Change YOUR world (and others' too!)

A great website for 140 ways to change the way you look at life and the way you do things.

Read it often and let it get into your "action" memory!!


Parent Communication & Relationships!!

A former teacher and instructional coach, Elena Aguilar is now a transformational leadership coach in the Oakland Unified School District.

In honor of Edutopia's 20th anniversary, we're producing a series of Top 20 lists, from the practical to the sublime.

Twenty Tips for Developing Positive Relationships with Parents

In our busy day of juggling papers, lesson planning and managing sometimes more than a hundred students, we can easily forget the group that could lend significant support in our charge as teachers -- parents and families. Consider these tips for improving connections with this valuable group:
1. Smile When You See Parents
Greet them. Most parents only occasionally interact with teachers so make sure that at least 90 percent of your encounters with them are positive, warm, and friendly. The impressions left from fleeting encounters in the hallway last a long time.
2. Learn Their Names
(If you have a self-contained class.) Learn how they like to be addressed (Mr. ____? SeƱora? By their first name?) and how to pronounce them correctly.
3. Declare Your Intention
Tell them that you want to partner with them, that you appreciate their support, and look forward to working together.
4. Communicate Often and in Various Forms
Provide information about what's going on in your class (weekly would be ideal): what students are learning, what they've accomplished, what you're excited about, what they're excited about, and the learning and growth you're seeing. Suggest things that they might ask their child about: "Ask them to tell you about what they learned last week about meal worms," or "Ask them to read you the haiku they wrote."
5. Make a Positive Phone Call Home
If you have a self-contained class, call all homes within the first couple of weeks and then at regular intervals throughout the year. If you teach many students, identify those students who perhaps need a positive call home.
6. Lead with the Good News
Give positive praise first when calling parents or meeting with them to discuss a concern. Every kid has something good about him/her. Find it. Share it. Then share your concern. Adhere strictly to this rule.
7. Find a Translator
If you can't speak their language, seek a translator for at least one parent conference and/or phone call. (For obscure languages, you can sometimes find a refugee center or other public agency that can help). Reach out to those parents as well; do whatever you can to connect.
8. Your Language is Powerful
It communicates an awareness that there are many different kinds of families. Be careful not to assume a mother is, or isn't married, or even that if she is married, she's married to a man. Learn to ask open-ended questions and understand that sometimes parents/guardians might not want to share some information.
9. Ask Questions about the Child
"What kinds of things does he enjoy doing outside of school? Who are the special people in her life -- family or family friends? What do you think are her best characteristics? What was he like as a little boy?" Demonstrate an interest in knowing your student.
10. Listen to Parents
Really listen. They know a whole lot about their kid.
11. Smile at the Child When talking to a parent in front of a child, smile and make eye contact with the student to demonstrate that you care about him/her. Recognize what he/she has done well in your class in front of the parents. Then share a concern, if you have one.
12. Invite Parents to Share
Distribute a survey at the beginning of the year (if parents don't read/write in English, students can interview them and relay their answers). Find out what parents know about and what skills they have. Invite them in especially if it connects the curriculum and content. Let them share with you their cultural traditions, interests, passions, skills, knowledge.
13. Let Parents Know How They Can Help
Many want to help but especially as kids get older, parents aren't asked for help as often and don't know what to do. There's always some way they can help in the classroom.
14. Be Very Specific
Provide ways parents can support their child at home: "You can help your child with her math homework by asking her to explain how she got an answer," or "As you're reading stories at night, ask your child to make predictions. This strengthens reading comprehension."
15. Be a Broker of Resources
If they share a concern, be prepared to point them to a direction where they can find help. If you share a concern ("Your daughter spaces out and doesn't pay attention") be prepared to suggest what the parents can do.
16. Explain Your Instructional Decisions
Take the time to do this and help them learn about the education system if they're not familiar with it. Help them understand what you're doing and why.
17. Invite Parents to Participate in Making Some Decisions
Invite their input, give them information that will help them form an opinion, and listen to their conclusions.
18. Thank Parents
Both individually and publicly for their support, perhaps in your weekly newsletter. Recognize what they do to help your class and how it's impacting students.
19. Share Every Success
Let parents know what their child is doing well, what academic skills, social skills or knowledge he's mastered.
20. Invite Parents to Celebrate and Break Bread Together
Communities are strengthened when people come together in celebration. Start the year with a potluck. Share food and stories about food. We all bond over food.
Visit Elena Aguilar's blog at:

If you like this, you might also like

Occupational Health Tech/Regent University Graduate Student

Research indicates that children are more successful in school when their parents communicate with their teacher and become involved in their child's educational process. Good parent/teacher communication is critical in the improved teacher student relationship. Better teacher/student relationship results from positive parent and teacher communication that could make a vital difference in the overall child's future.
Another way to effectively improve parent/teacher relationships is the use of technology. Many school districts have instituted the use of "" which gives parents access to their child's grades/reports. Parents have the option of communicating with teachers through this valuable educational tool. It helps open channels of communication between the teachers, parents, and students.
Here are some additional tips for developing positive relationships with parents:
1.It is important to let the parent know that you are genuinely interested in their child and the child’s progress.
2.Ensure that you will help the child in any way with their difficulties.
3.Always make eye contact with the parent when talking to them in person.
4.Establish respect by addressing the parents as Mr., Mrs., or Miss.
5.Have an open door policy where the parents can feel comfortable discussing their child with you at any time. If a child has a special need, ensure the parent that their child's educational need will be met.
6.Let the parents know what your goals are from the beginning.
7.Ask questions about the child (i.e. likes, dislikes, hobbies, home responsibilities).
8.Invite the parents to the classroom so they can see the classroom environment.
9.Invite parents to visit the classroom once a month and sit in on lesson discussions. If the parent has a disability, offer to assist them in anyway to make them confortable.
10.Be honest with the parents when discussing their child.
11.Do not be late for parent/teacher conferences.
12.Monthly send positive memos home to keep the parents informed of their child’s progress.
13.Encourage parent/child board games to help build vocabulary skills, i.e..scrabble,upwords,boggle.
14.Keep the parents informed of the accomplishments citing areas that need improvement.
15.Keep a positive attitude when talking about the child.
16.Talk to parents often and be polite.
17.Invite parents to celebrate birthdays in the classroom.
18.If the parents have trouble speaking English, be patient and ask someone for help.
19.Let the parents know that you appreciate their help by sending a thank you note home or acknowledging them in a PTA meeting.
20.At the end of every person to person meeting, thank them for their time with a warm handshake.
21.Walk them(parents,guardian)to the door.
22.Ask for permission for a home visit monthly with students who are having difficulties.
23.Establish areas where the child has the most problems and work with the parents to find a solution. When parents ask questions about their child, answer precisely and accurately. Help parents to feel important in their child’s education.
24.If a parent calls you and you are unavailable, be courteous and return the call.
25.Encourage the parents to look over homework for neatness,completeness, and accuracy.