March 28

Learning and education in the Google Cloud!

Learning and Education in the Google Cloud

If you want to learn how to use Google tools for educational purposes; then you should definitely head over to this website!

All Google Tools are here- and you can join and receive updates; plus they’ll let you know when they come out with a new tool!! Collaborate and share your Google docs with other Google educators and fans out there! It is pretty awesome stuff!!

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March 11

PLURK

Plurk_badgeI just started using PLURK– very new to it and not sure what I’m doing but my friend Kevin Honeycutt… who is so smart, amazing with educational technology (and a MUST to follow) said I should try it out!!

When Kevin tells me to try something out….I usually listen!!! So here I am, I have not a friend in the PLURK– I can’t even find him there!!! Don’t think I’m going to give up though… I am a model of what I tell my students- PERSERVERENCE is key! Plus, I love a challenge and do like to learn new things, especially if I can find a way that it will have applications to the classroom!

Stay tuned…

(“don’t turn that dial”- most kids wouldn’t know what that meant in today’s world as there are no dials to turn- not on the radio and not even on the television!!!)….

…as I will post more information about PLURK and how to use it once I figure it out myself!! :0)

To follow Kevin Honeycutt– check out his Central page. This page contains all his current blogs, projects, and ongoing activities. (I think someone gave him a 48 hour day….??? Not fair!)

http://kevinhoneycutt.org/

Plurk site: www.plurk.com  (if you find me= friend me: EducatorsHelper!)

March 2

Kids are authors contest- held by Scholastic

 

Kids_are_authorsScholastic is hosting a “Kids are authors” contest!

What a great way to get your students motivated to write and read! If  you look through the past and previous winners,  you may recognize a book or two that you may actually have in your own classroom library! I only wish I knew about this sooner because now I will feel as though I am rushing my students to prepare to submit their writing and artwork for the contest…but…here’s a great ‘but’… you can enter the contest by submitting something written by your class as a whole. That is where I noticed the books that I have in my clnotebook and pencilassroom, those are the ones where the books where written by entire classrooms. You can clearly see in those books (and actually not so evident in some newer ones) that the illustrations were created by children. The ones created and authored by intermediate and middle school students; well, those are not clearly evident that they are illustrated by children. They are actually amazingly illustrated and that’s why I am sharing this today!! Showcase your students’ talents, post what you’ve submitted somewhere online too, so we can celebrate their endeavours and attempts; regardless whether they win or lose, they should always know that if they tried that already makes them a winner!!

 

http://www.scholastic.com/bookfairs/contest/kaa_about.asp

http://www.diigo.com/annotated/ddd7d8501d32a564e7698c01cc330815

Entry deadline is March 15th, 2011!

February 27

Great tool for a learning center!

learning_palette_001I bought a Learning Palette to work with my daughter and decided to take it out today. After 5 minutes of trying to figure out how to use it (that was the hardest part) she has been using it for 30 minutes now! It really is an awesome tool!! To her, it’s a toy but she’s learning and practicing math and literacy skills. I’m happily surprised and very pleased with my purchase!!

This basic Learning Palette came with a few Math and Vocabulary/Language ‘palettes’ which lock into place. Then whomever is working on the activity, child/student has circles/answer-tiles that need to be placed, with the cooresponding  question. Each ‘palette’ can be turned over to check answers; so the activities are self-correcting. This made me think that it would be a great “Learning Center” to implement into any classroom.

All a teacher would need to do is to teach the class how to use the palettes and then place them wherever the teacher wants them to be: Learning Station, Take it to your seat center, etc.  (The palette itself isn’t heavy so it can also be taken back to a student’s desk as long as the pieces are pieces are all kept together…don’t want any of the colored circles to go missing!!)

This really is a great versatile tool- These “Learning Palettes” remind me a bit of the Versatiles that are made by Cuisenaire but everything everything is visually in front of the student, whereas with Versatiles, a student needs to refer to a worksheet or book and then to the Versatiles which can get a bit confusing (especially for the younger students.) Learning Palettes are available for grade levels too; there are reading comprehension palettes, math grade level palettes, phonics palettes… and as I learned Usborne is producing more as they are quickly becoming a very popular teaching tool!! (I am not surprised!!)

Check out these and other Learning Palettes here: http://bit.ly/e7LS9S

If you have used Versatiles in your classroom, you’ll see why these are a better substitute for the primary grades! I wouldn’t promote anything I haven’t purchased myself… so check them out and let me know what you think!!

February 21

EduTecher

edutecher

EduTecher

I wish I had come upon this site sooner than this morning at 5:00 a.m. but better late than never!  What a neat place to find all kinds of Web Tools and resources for integrating technology into the classroom!!

I’m still checking out EduTecher but I did join, which was free! I’m going to continue to check it out and report back, possibly even linking to what may be some great tutorials on resources to integrate or even lessons to implement immediately!  What I did not want to do was withhold information that you could start using today too… so here is the link to sign up for free….http://newedutecher.net/zkk15

Let me know what you think of EduTecher! If  you are already a member- please leave a comment… do you have a favorite EduTecher video, resource, link?? Leave a comment!

February 16

Developmental Studies Center: Webinars!

DevStu_pic

Developmental Studies Center

Developmental Studies Center is one of my MOST favorite (I’m not even sure I have the correct name for what they truly are…) “Family”/supportive curriculum programs ever. I have known and used products and programs from DevStu for years but here is how they differ from 99.9% of every other program and company out there. When you purchase a ‘product’ from DevStu; all these wonderful and supportive people begin to call you and ‘they’ feel like little tickles under your teacher wings; it’s like that feeling you have when you call a company and an actual person answers the phone. You get taken aback for a moment because we have all become accustomed to being nothing more than a number in this (what to me has become terrible) technological-computer based run, customer service industry!! It’s truly refreshing!!

 They are the support you need as an educator and strangely when you are waiting for it to come from your district and/or school (and it doesn’t) here it is from a place where you feel like you may be a stranger…but don’t fear it…accept it and embrace it…join it and become part of the family. (You’ll enjoy it as I have!) That is why I feel using the word “company” to describe DevStu is truly a disservice; companies are no longer resemble anything similar to this. Calling DevStu a company would underestimate what has been established, the relationships they create with educators, schools, and students; it would devalue what Developmental Studies is truly about.

They (the support team; whether you need assistance with Math, Writing, Reading, Vocabulary) are always there … no matter the time. If you are in need- swoop…they there are supporting your wings while your struggle/adjust; making sure you don’t fall or falter all the while guiding you until you are soaring again. 

Dev-Stu is not just a system but a family… The entire organization is true and devoted to what their mission states:  They want to see educators succeed because they know and have seen the results of this. When educators have the skills and tools to succeed; this will lead to student achievement. (If only we could take care of poverty issues too…but that’s a whole different subject…)

I have used many of their ‘programs (I really don’t like to call them programs…because that is not what they are…but for a lack of a better word…) I have never been paid to write for them… I’m speaking from the heart when I state that I believe in their materials, professional development; because they put time, research and effort into each one of them. It’s not simply about money making as a bottom line (and after being in education for so long- it’s very clear when a company wants your $ or wants to see you and your students succeed)…

I cannot tell you why DevStu is so different and why this is the case… Maybe the company was started by an educator looking for a better way (I don’t know the history of the company); but if you are looking for worthwhile valuable materials, programs, and tools that are research based…. Check them out. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. {If you are- I’d be very surprised and I’d truly want to know about it!!}

Here is a calendar of some FREE Upcoming Webinars I found that they are hosting, on a variety of topic… Please leave a comment to let me know if you’ve had experience with DevStu; good or bad—

http://www.eventbrite.com/org/55589421?s=3154703

February 16

Sneak Peek: New Discovery Education Tools/ Programs!!

DEN_pic

 

Get a sneak-peek at Discovery Education material…before it’s released to anyone else!!

When…you ask??

Thursday, February 17

at 8:45 PM ET

 

Meet Jeff Corwin and his favorite fuzzy, furry, and wild friends! Learn about the programs your colleagues are using to increase/drive student achievement.  Learn about great engaging curriculum and programs that will have your children ‘awed’ into silence! There’s more too….

Puzzlemaker… Math Fun Games… Science Stories- Loads of great fun to be had!!

February 15

Number 1: Really Mr. Duncan???

What exactly are we preparing students for by overtesting them??
What exactly are we preparing students for by overtesting them??

I am posting some information from feeds (from other sites.) This one came from Stephen Krashen’s… Yes, THE Krashen who has spent decades researching how students/children learn a second language; another few decades researching the effects of poverty on children and reading; reading, reading aloud to children, silent reading, sustained- silent reading, and I could keep going but it seems pointless because noone out there in “Mt. Olympus” seems to care what research has to say anymore.

When did it become the priority of big business; those who have NO KNOWLEDGE of educational pedagogy, to determine how effective teachers are based upon a single test score? Have they even bothered to read child (developmental) psychology books; though it doesn’t seem so. When are educators going to start speaking up!!! If we don’t start to band together and demand some respect for our profession; we will continue to be treated as though we know NOT what we do!!

 

I’m becoming very disenchanged with public education! My fellow colleagues seem to sit around and moan and groan but refuse to act! How can we make any changes with this type of attitute?? We need more of you to start speaking up!!!! VOICES?? Anyone????

 

Number 1: Really Mr. Duncan?? (by Jim Horn)

Arne Duncan proclaimed a couple of days ago that he wants the U. S. to be #1 in educational achievement but that we have “a long way to go.” But that’s okay, boys, we’re in a hole, so keep digging.

Since Duncan came to Washington to sit as ED’s titular CEO while the Gates and Broad Foundations runs the show, the hole has gotten deeper as new shovels are brought in to replace the old ones. The urban schools that were blown apart by NCLB’s ticking time bomb have been turned into corporate segregated charters run like prisons, and more public schools are exploded each spring as the scores come in, telling us where the poorest children in America will be added to the penal charter list, as two-year temps from TFA and alt-cert neophytes take over the duties of teachers.

 

Meanwhile, the Gates-Broad team hire the high priest of the stats world to devise ways to use unreliable and invalid tests to keep or fire teachers, despite the mountain of scientific evidence and common sense that tells the rest of us that this is unfair, unethical, and just a bad idea. Other Gates goons are working to shut down or re-make teacher education programs to focus on those same test scores. Still others are being farmed out to conservative and neolib state legislators and governors looking for ways to take away teachers’ collective bargaining rights, due process, and any remaining shreds of academic freedom.
 

 

 
Meanwhile back at the school children are choking on the growing mountain and tests that fatten the corporate leeches who publish them. Children learn to read by racing through nonsense syllables and despise reading by the time they get to junior high. Librarians are fired and book collections dumped or allowed to collect dust. Students are paid to graduate a year early to save money, while class sizes swell to overflowing.
 

And with the number of schools increasing every year as the NCLB explosive device ticks on, Duncan is sent out to announce more and harder tests will be waiting if NCLB is ever reauthorized. Pre-tests, post-tests, and practice tests in between, all geared to a core curriculum designed to leave everyone equally unprepared for the tests of living.
All of this is occurring in an atmosphere of Zero Tolerance and No Excuses, with the human rights and civil rights agenda a relic of a bygone era. Resegregation, repression, constant surveillance, and a cold uncaring has settled on our schools and teachers, with parents even now being graded for their willingness to keep their children in a meaningless academic choke hold.

Number One, Mr. Duncan? See what other countries have done to become #1, and then tell me you’re not kidding. See how many turned adequate funding of school programs into a contest of winners and losers. See how many destroyed their teachers’ professional standards and unions, and how many encourage the media to treat teachers like dirt. Check to see how many of those countries have the disparity between rich and impoverished that we do in the U. S., and how many ignore the needs of the poor beyond the school walls. How many of those top countries have our percentage of children living in poverty? Check to see how many make it more difficult for their teachers to get advanced degrees by making loans more difficult to get and to pay back. Meanwhile, continue your never-ending road trip of stumbling through your lines written by someone else. See how many of those black men you are courting are willing to enter what once was a profession but is quickly becoming another Walmart job. Keep digging, Arne–I can still hear you talking.

 http://www.schoolsmatter.info/2011/02/number-1-in-world-mr-duncan-really-you.html

January 10

INFORMAL Running Reading Records

children reading books

Want to have a quick view into whether a student is increasing or decreasing, according to their “Guided/Instructional/Independent” Reading Range but don’t have the time or don’t need to use a formal Running Reading Record. Why not use an Informal one? There are all types of Informal RRR’s and not only are they very simple to use in your classroom, they are very effective at giving you an accurate assessment into the student’s world of reading.

Here are a few links and also a downloadable guide from ASCD which you can begin to use immediately in your classroom. The greatest thing about the downloadable Informal RRR is that you can use them with any book you have in your classroom; no special materials or purchase is required!!

Informal running reading records Downloadable Informal Running Reading Record Tool

Links:

ASCD

Reading A-Z

If  you have Informal RRR’s of your own that you use- please leave us a comment and a link back to your website or a place where we can find them.  All help with the increasing of literacy is always appreciated!!