Tag Archives: classroom

My First Prezi

12 Apr

Great teaching tells you that along with verbal/auditory instruction, you should also use kinesthetic and visual instruction.  So, from day one I have been using PowerPoint.  What a great program that I can use to add effects, images, bullets, videos and all kinds of groovy things.  I used it for Jeopardy, Family Feud, Who Wants to be a Millionaire and all other kinds of reviews.  However, over time, I began to see PowerPoint abuse – slides with no pictures and too many bullets.  Slides with repeated format, each slide had a picture on the same side with writing on the same side.  Too much info, not enough info, poor color choices, bad video … the list goes on.  That led me to Prezi.  With some prompting from my friend MJ – thank you – I created my first Prezi.

Continue reading

iPad 2 or Laptop?

11 Apr

The debate is thick as to the type of niche that iPad fits in the technology world.  I love my laptop, I love my desktop at work, and I love my iPad.  So, which device is the correct one for a majority of my personal use? That all depends on what I will use the device for, and iPad keeps blurring that line every day. Continue reading

My Yellow School Bus

8 Apr

When I opened my email to see that I had four school buses reserved for prom, I was a bit shocked, who takes yellow school buses to prom? Prom was a week away, I had scheduled the buses five months before, why was I hearing about it now.  After more than a few phone calls and meetings, it was decided, based on Ed Code and board policy, we would hire our school buses before we would hire a charter bus.  What I did not expect was the reaction of the students and parents.  There were a few complainers, but most of the attendees, “Hey, it’s just a ride, who cares how we get to prom.”  Within two days of hearing about our school buses, I had over thirty parents and students volunteering, collecting decorations and ready to meet at our transportation department to decorate and get our rides to prom ready for the students.

Continue reading

The Next Big Thing

7 Apr

Just a few days ago I heard my daughter banging her hair brush on a metal bowl on our kitchen island.  After a bit I was annoyed, so when I looked down to see what she was doing and tell her to stop I noticed she had stopped hitting the bowl and slowly started hitting the island – which is made of wood – instead.  Then she started hitting the bowl again, then up to the glass casserole dishes, then back to the island and back to the bowl.  She looked up to me smiling as if to say, “look what I figured out.” For me it was amazing as I got to see a real life education lab right in front of me; my daughter, testing out a theory, finding a solution and feeling proud of her discovery.  Continue reading

My List of Favorites for Google Voice

5 Apr

With so many great features, what’s not to like? Here are a few of the things I like to do with Google Voice.

  1. It’s Free, who doesn’t want a free phone number?
  2. Are you afraid of texting? Do you not have a texing plan on your phone? Well, Google Voice has texting, and IT’S FREE.  Now, instead of sending texts on your phone, feel free to type them out on your keyboard or reply to them like an email. Many of my older friends appreciate this.
  3. Like email, set up your account to have SMS messages forwarded to your email account.  Then, reply to the text just like you would an email, the text will show up on your students phone like any other SMS message.
  4. In this age of connectivity kids want and appreciate access, in fact they expect it.  So, I teach them about when is a good time to reach me and when is not a good time to reach me.  I also have each student text me, that has a texting plan, with their name.  I then add that student’s name and number to my Google voice account.  Now, if a student is absent or if I need to see them for some reason, I can text them.  Additionally, when I get a text, I know who it is from.
  5. I can turn off my phone.  Google voice has a great feature that allows you to put a do not disturb on your number.  Normally a call or text will forward a call or text to your Google voice number, you can tell your account you don’t want any calls and you will be left alone.  It’s a lot like turning off your phone.
  6. Create a phone assignment, have your students call you and leave a one minute voice mail response to a homework question.  This is a great way to hear from all of your students on a specific item.  Then, the next day, pick your favorites and play them for the class.
  7. Record a podcast.  It’s not very fancy, but have your kids prepare a talk, call your voice mail, record what needs to be said, then download the mp3 to use however you like.
  8. For leadership, this is a great way for my kids to practice leaving a voice mail message.  The kids often have to contact businesses and business owners, I have them call me pretending they are calling a business and to leave a message for a manager or for the owner.  Then, we can have a discussion in class and review how they did with their phone etiquette.
  9. Conference call, have everyone you need to talk to contact your Google Voice number, as people call in, keep adding them till everyone is there.
  10. If you get a really good voice mail, share it with your friends or students via email.  Post it on the web as an example for students to listen to or download.  Either way, Google voice makes it easy to share media.

Voice, Google Voice

3 Apr

When I was four years old I remember my family – with great interest – sitting around the kitchen table and teaching me the home phone number. It took a while, or felt like it did, as we went over and over again the seven digits that would connect me to our house phone.  At the time we had a rotary phone and one of those new age push button phones, a gift from grandma and grandpa.  Now, with hundreds of numbers stored in my iPhone and on my computer, I have the option to create another new phone number using Google Voice. Continue reading

My Top 10 Uses with Evernote

29 Mar

With a new iPhone update and an Android update to come, I have grown to love Evernote more and more.  Note taking has never been easier on my iPhone – so with some playing – I have come up with more than a few uses for this app.

  1. Now that I have the ability to add media and text in one note – I do that all the time.  In class, I will take a picture of what is on the board from our discussion, share about 30 seconds of my closing thoughts by using the recording option, label and tag the note to search it later, and then share it.  I like this in that it frees up my kids to engage in discussion and they can take the notes down later.
  2. Books: I’m always coming across books that I need to read, so I have a list going of my favorite books, and I started adding pictures of book covers.  If I have time I add links online where I can buy the books.
  3. To do list – I start one of these every day and add check off items finishing all I can before I leave work.
  4. I taught my students how to take notes on this app – so much easier and more usable than a notebook in that they always have their phones with them.
  5. I take pictures of documents; I have my students do the same.  That way if something is lost I am not making more copies and the kids have a digital copy as a jpg or a PDF file. Homework should not get lost any more.
  6. Screen Capture: with so much content blocked on my school server, I have used the screen capture tool of Evernote on my computer to take shots of sites I cannot access at school.
  7. Geo-tagging: this is more for admin, while walking around I thought how neat it would be to tag places where certain issues arise, such as where kids hang out during lunch or after school, graffiti, fights, or slow lunch lines.  Then, after tagging that several times with the GPS in my phone, sharing that Evernote file with my staff and ask them to keep a specific eye on an area.  I could easily show them what is going on and where certain events are taking place. It would be so easy to track a pattern and identify what is really happening.
  8. In leadership I started having kids create notebooks for projects.  Rather than fill out committee handouts the kids can now post all of their information into the file.  Then, if I need an update, say how the float is looking for homecoming, I can have a picture, video, and text showing me everything is done or in progress and find out the status of the group.  Afterwards, I now have a file that accurately and completely demonstrates what that group did and can now use that as part of the student’s grade as well as a living history for the class.
  9. Collaboration: as I work in class I have encouraged other teachers to start using Evernote. We try to share ideas back and forth.  It’s not perfect, but it has started a dialogue and forces us out of our rooms once in a while.  It helps me keep track of lessons online rather than going to my file cabinet or looking for my planning book from two years ago (or more).
  10. I had the kids create a notebook/scrapbook on Romeo and Juliet.  The girls were Juliet, the guys were Romeo, and they had to create a notebook with notes that detailed the life of the two young lovers from right before to the night they met.  I encouraged my students to include media: they recorded dialogue, added pictures, and one group went all out and shot a short dance sequence in costume.  So much fun and great presentations at the end. This challenged the kids with their analysis skills and it engaged them with access to a new medium.

Endeavors with Evernote

24 Mar

The routine is always the same, kids come to class, pull out their notebooks, and prepare for the day.  Invariably, there are one or more students who give out the proverbial cry, “I left my notebook at home!” This is not a huge problem at my school, but students coming unprepared is a problem.  In this day and age of digital access as well as the growing need of student collaboration for success in the real world, I turned to Evernote. Continue reading

Taking Notes in the Digital Age

17 Mar

My note taking preferences have changed over the years.  My favorite ways of interacting with speakers and lectures is to use Evernote and Twitter.  I like being able to save, share, and then re-live the topic that was discussed.  I love the interactivity of the note-taking and the power it gives me to go back and research the topic as I lived through it at the time.  Now, how do I convince my students there is a benefit to this process? Continue reading

Blogging for English

12 Mar

In every classroom in the United States that teaches writing – good writing – the goals are the same: write often, get feedback, make improvements, write again.  As an English teacher, my issue has always been, and will always be, managing the comments and feedback on every piece of student writing.  It’s laborious, time-consuming and leaves me carting papers all over the place, from work to Starbucks to home and back again.  After thinking, reading, asking questions, and researching late at night, there was only one thing to do, start a blog in my English class. Continue reading