Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hunting for Treasure

Today I finally got around to trying geocaching. I've been hearing about other people in my PLN who have tried this out, and I thought it sounded like a bit of fun.

So what is geocaching? Geocaching is a treasure hunt with a GPS. You are given the location for a hidden cache and some clues to get you started. You head off with your GPS (or in my case, my iPhone) and start searching. The cache may vary, but generally consists of some form of logbook and may have small items you can trade.

To get started, you sign up for an account at I also bought the Groundspeak Geocaching App for my iPhone ($12.99 but very helpful on my hunt). Groundspeak took my location and found some hidden geocache points close by. I followed the arrows, and then as I got closer, had to rely on my eyes and brain a lot more.

I took along my hubby, his mother and our dog. It was an adventure for all of us, and we were very glad to have found the two caches we set out to find.

If you haven't tried it out already, I recommend it as a fun way to spend some time.

Blogger Behind This Blog #7

A few weeks back we travelled up to Sydney for the City to Surf. For many years I've been meaning to get around to running this race, but for whatever reason, haven't pulled it off. This is a fourteen kilometre road race, beginning in Sydney City and ending at Bondi Beach.

This year I had a training program that I found online and I stuck pretty closely to it. It was a fairly hard training program - with a long run on Sunday, 30 minute run on Monday, intervals on Tuesday and medium run on Wednesday before I finally got to a rest day on Thursday. I found it tough, but always seemed to find the energy when I needed it, and didn't get sick at all, even when running about 50km in a week. (I used to get tired, sick, or sore when I went over 30km in a week). I tried to include some hills or mountain running in the program in preparation for the dreaded "heartbreak hill".

We stayed at a hotel in Sydney and hooked up with some friends who were also running the race. We went out for dinner together to load up on carbs and then hung out for a while at the hotel before crashing for the night.

On race day we met up for a hotel breakfast - something to sustain us but not overfill us - and headed down to the starting line at Hyde Park. There were people EVERYWHERE! With a record 75,000 competitors it was the world's biggest running event. Once in position we did a lot of waiting before we actually got to move anywhere, and even once we started to move, it was quite slow. As it was my first year running, I was in the 'blue' group which is made up of the masses - the slow people and the first timers.

For the first five kilometres I focused on running and weaving. I found that I couldn't go more than about ten strides before having to weave around walkers. I tried to use the footpaths as much as possible, but didn't want to be seen to be cheating either! Please understand - I'm not blaming the walkers, just expressing my frustration as a runner.

The weaving continued for most of the race and I don't feel I ever actually found my pace group. Usually in a race I find a point in time when I'm not overtaking people any more - when I'm with people of a like pace. I was feeling unusually strong throughout the race and was running well. I didn't stop for hydration as it was an opportunity to make greater headway through the crowds. I was listening to my run playlist on my iPod, which always helps to put more speed and power in my pace.

Heartbreak Hill didn't end up being so heartbreaking after all. I ran the whole thing and found it quite a non-event given my prior preparation. There was a great atmosphere with people along the sidelines cheering and runners in crazy costumes. The weather was perfect for running and I found the kilometres were flying by.

As I came to the last stretch along Bondi Beach I felt a tingle go through my body. I was almost there, and all these people were cheering us along. Crossing the finish line was a real let down. I felt almost disappointed. One moment I was running this race, enjoying the music and mood, and caught up in the weaving. The next moment it was all over. We walked through a couple of gates, picked up our medallions and then the weaving through crowds continued as we tried to get to the water stands to rehydrate.

I met up with the others from my group at our meeting point. It took awhile for everyone to find it and none of us were really sure what time we had run due to differences between race start time and our actual time. I had started my stopwatch at the beginning of the race, but was slow to press it at the finish line. I had run it in a good time - good enough to get me into a better starting position for next year. You can see photos of me running and a video of me finishing here.

We decided to cab it back to the hotel as the lines for the free buses were ridiculously long. We showered and ended the experience with a great steak lunch down at Darling Harbour.

Can't wait to do it all again next year, but training for the Canberra Times Fun Run in the meantime.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday Fun - 28/8/09

I want to pause for a moment to brag about the wonderful kids I teach. They are a lovely group of kids with an interest in learning and willingness to focus on a task and get the job done. I am impressed with how self-directed they are and also with how well they cooperate together. For the most part, I can trust them to do the right thing. The teachers who have been taking my classes while I do courses and executive duties tell me that they are delightful to work with.

On Monday I arrived at school to this message:

And this morning I was greeted by a student who had written me a poem.

I feel so spoilt to have the pleasure of working which such great kids.

Fun This Week:

ABC3 Promo
In Australia we are in the process of getting a selection of new free-to-air television channels. One of these will be ABC3, a television channel aimed at programming for children. They are currently calling for primary school students to create promo videos for their channel.
I was recently challenged by the need to create more opportunities for students to write for a real purpose and audience. When I saw this competition, I thought it would be a great opportunity for students to write/create a persuasive text for a real purpose.
This week students from both Year 4 classes formed small groups and began thinking about and planning their approach to this task. They are feeling very motivated by this project and (in my opinion) should be able to create some high quality video promos.
For more information about the competition, visit ABC3 By me.

Listening for the Author's Voice
Last weekend I was reflecting on how I teach my students to write. I was going through the First Steps Writing resources and considering what I'm doing well, what I'm not doing well, and how I want to implement First Steps further in my writing program. One thing I realised I wanted to put greater emphasis on, is the concept of personal voice.
Trent Lorcher at Bright Hub provides some tips on how to explain 'personal voice' to students. I shared this with my students and then we investigated the voice of different authors we know using the following chart:
Students then went on to do their reading for the week and jotted down notes about the voice of their selected author. They discussed this further with their Cooperative Reading Group on Tuesday. The next step is to help children to get a better sense of their own voice.

Bringing Dance to Life
We are going to perform some dances for our assembly next week. The students chose from two themes - 'flight' or 'fireworks'. We explored these themes earlier in the term and students had a chance to create dances in small groups. We are now asking them to fine-tune a dance to share with the whole school. They began practising their dances and we pulled out some scarves for students to use as costumes. It's beginning to look really effective and the kids are keen to perform next week.

The Year 5/6 students performed in Wakakirri this week and did a really great job. Their dance was spectacular as were their costumes and backdrop. The rest of the school got to watch it on Monday afternoon.

Textiles and Design Homework Projects
Students have been handing in homework projects they created using their textile and design skills. Don't they look great? We plan to share these with the school community at the assembly next Friday.

Place Value and Multiplication Tables
This week we explored place value in Maths and practiced multiplication tables. There were some great interactive websites for this. The Crickweb Maths Teacher Toolkit had some handy place value activities. Woodlands have some great interactive times tables games. My favourite for using on the interactive whiteboard is Hit the Button. We also made our own whiteboard page. Students gave some digits from their phone numbers and I wrote these up on the board. We then ordered these four-digit numbers from smallest to largest, simply by touching and dragging them. You've got to love having an interactive whiteboard!
Students also played with a range of other manipulatives to practice their tables and place value including dice, tables wheels and wind-ups. They rotated through the activities over the week.

Making Movies - Second lesson
Students continued making their movies this week and some finished them, ready to share with parents at our upcoming Learning Journeys. We had a bit of a set-back this week, as many students wanted to include songs, and we needed to find something appropriate that wasn't protected with copyright.
I need to find some Creative Commons songs and collect them together into a common pool that students can select from. That will be one of my jobs this weekend. Any suggestions? I'm also looking for a site that collects "kid safe" songs and won't be blocked by my school.

Senior Sport
In Terms 2 and 3 students in Years 3-6 select a sport to attend on Friday afternoons. Options include things like tennis, indoor soccer, aerobics, circus and ten pin bowling. This term I have been going along to supervise ten pin bowling. The kids love it and are so supportive of one another. It's a great way to end each week.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tech Tips Tuesday

This Week's Tip - IWB Pages

I've been playing with my Interactive Whiteboard more than usual this week. I designed some pages to give other teachers ideas for how they can use their boards. I'm trying to get teachers to turn their boards on at the start of the day so that they are more likely to continue to use them throughout the day. If you have a Smart Board, you can create similar pages of your own.

This first page is a fun way of marking the roll. I used this one for the teachers' staff meeting, but I use the same idea with my class photo. It is simple to make and the kids love it. When they arrive each day, they choose the face that best fits how they feel, and drag it over their face. I can see at a glance how students are feeling and who is yet to arrive. This is great for creating a class community and learning environment. To start fresh the next day, select the faces with a click and sweep action and delete.

To Make This Page:
Step 1: Scan or upload a class photo
Step 2: Insert photo
Step 3: Use text to add a heading
Step 4: Save emoticons from My Emoticons
Step 5: Insert emoticons and place beneath photo. Right-click on them and choose the "Infinite Clone" option.

For another option, you could make a simple line and students determine their mood on a scale between happy and sad. They write their initials to place themselves.

This page is for students to self-regulate as they are finishing their work. You write in the explicit quality criteria for the dot points and set the timer for the desired time. When students have finished the work they move their photo (not shown) or name across the line and hit the little sound icon (near the balloons) to hear a cheer.

To make this page:
Step 1: Make headings (I used a rectangle shape and then a text box)
Step 2: Divide page with a line
Step 3: Add bullet points (you need to put a space before pressing return/enter in order to keep the dot point)
Step 4: Insert timer and balloons and runner from the gallery (search for 'timer' and 'cheer' and 'race')
Step 5: Insert small photographs of students (100 x 75 pixels) or write/type names in individual text boxes.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Want-tos and Have-tos

Today I'm feeling torn between the want-tos and the have-tos. Spring is almost here and it has me feeling energised and inspired.

It's another gorgeous day and I want to: go for a bike ride, take photos, paint, garden, write blogs, play with the computer.

Unfortunately I have work I need to catch up on. I have to: do uni work, prepare lessons for the week, and prepare a PD session for Wednesday.

I'm thinking there may be some way of balancing the two. Maybe half an hour of a have-to can be rewarded with ten minutes of a want-to. I'll give it a shot and see if that will leave me feeling satisfied at the end of the day!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Friday Not-so-fun

I spent Friday curled up on the couch snoozing, sculling down liquids and gobbling down food in an attempt to help my body fight what I assume is swine flu. The doctor said it is a virus and that I am contagious. Given that I had the flu injection earlier this year (which should cover me for most of the known flus they have vaccines for) I expect that it is probably swine flu. The doctor said that they aren't testing everyone for swine flu now, but only those at risk - asthmatics, elderly, pregnant women, and people with a temperature over 38 degrees Celsius.

I've been achy, coughing, and OH SO TIRED! It wasn't all bad though, as I got to enjoy a lazy day while it rained outside my window. I love the rain. And, today (Saturday), I'm actually feeling a lot better. I woke up this morning to find my feet tapping (something they do when they want to go for a run) and as I prepared my usual coffee and porridge, I looked out at the gorgeous day and felt it would be a perfect day for a bike ride. Obviously, I'm not going to put my body through any of that today - I still need to rest a little longer. But it's good to see I'm well on the road to recovery.

So, I spent even less time in the classroom this week and when I was in there, it had it's own little elements of higglety piggletiness.

Fun This Week

Chance and Data
We covered Chance and Data in Maths this week. I taught one lesson on this for my own Maths class and one lesson for Mr Tucker's class. (His relief teacher had to go to her sick child and I was off class for my executive day, so I went back on his class to fill the gap.) We explored ideas around rolling dice, pulling counters from a hat, tossing a coin, and spinning a spinner. Students really enjoyed these activities. For teachers in Australia and New Zealand, there are some great Chance and Data activities available on Scootle that allow students to explore these concepts.

Textiles and Design Projects
This week we introduced students to the next phase of their learning in our Textiles and Design Unit. We told them that they need to create an item that they can sell at school (at a fete, or market day or other). They need to consider the needs of their clientele and design something that they can make in three weeks using easily accessible resources and drawing on the skills they've learnt so far. We talked about the need to create quality items and determine a fair price. We also suggested that students speak to their proposed clientele prior to making their items in order to determine if their is a market for their product. It is exciting to see the ideas that students are coming up with and their enthusiasm in getting started with the process.

Cooperative Reading
I used my iPhone to record students thoughts about our Cooperative Reading Groups. I plan to use this information to make some adaptations. Here is a summary of their thoughts:

  • You can discuss your books and how you're enjoying them
  • Learn more about how to write better stories
  • Small groups with different books and we tell each other about those books
  • Get to space out the reading time
  • Have little groups and get to discuss your ideas and can have your own opinions
  • We share our ideas with people
  • Learn how to use a roster
  • Allowed to read a book and do activities to get you more into the book and learn how to write better stories
  • People are enjoying their books and having fun
  • After we read we write it all down and the teacher gets to see what we're reading and then we share it with our groups too
  • Get to experience new authors and how they create characters, settings and plots
  • Most of the activities are too short
  • You get through the writing activities too quickly
  • Some of the Reading Response Journal sections are too easy
  • It's hard to know what to write in Reading Response Journal
  • Reading Response Journal is too repetitive and can get boring
  • People with large books are having trouble finding the time to do their allocated reading AND the writing tasks.
  • When there's too much talking it's hard to concentrate
Based on these responses, it seems that students find the discussion time very beneficial, but the Reading Response Journal needs to be re-worked. Perhaps it would be best to have a focus for each week and students write to that focus and share about that focus during their discussion groups. For example, one week might be focused on "interesting words and phrases", another on "descriptive passages", another on "characters", another on "author's style", another on "my perspective" and so on. That would mean there would be less repetition and that students would focus on these areas in greater depth.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Blogger Behind This Blog #6

I went to see Pink perform last night. It was fantastic. She puts on a high-energy, exciting performance and changes costume for every song! I think she must have liked dressing up when she was a kid. I've enjoyed Pink's music over the years and have found it very motivating when I go running. Motivation is VERY necessary for running - particularly for long distances.Pink is someone I know I could never be, but who I admire on a different level. I'm fascinated by her. I look at my own life and feel somewhat nerdy and boring. I generally play by the rules and have a 'nice' disposition. I make sensible decisions and have long term goals. In some ways I'm naive and oblivious to the problems of the world. I see Pink representing all that I'm not. She seems to live life on the edge. She's active (VERY active) and writes her own rules. She sees the world with all its problems and doesn't gloss over them. She inspires me to approach the world with a little more grunt from time to time.

By the way, I took this photo with my new camera - cool, huh?

Tech Tips Tuesday

This Week's Tip: Learn Vocabulary the Interactive Way

One of the things that I think has the potential to improve my students' writing further is the development of a more comprehensive vocabulary. I find that ten year olds tend to use a great deal of slang when relating to one another, and this creeps into their writing. Too often the way they write sounds like a conversation with the reader - filled with colloquial terms and slang. I would like for my students to develop their vocabulary through reading and enrich the vocabulary in their own writing.

Today when students met in their Cooperative Reading Groups, they collected a range of interesting or unusual words and phrases from the books they are reading. We then used Visuwords on the Interactive Whiteboard to explore these words further. Groups took turns to offer up a word which we then typed into Visuwords. Visuwords displays a diagram to show related words. It has a key to show whether the grammatical features of words and how they relate. When you move the mouse over a word you see it's definition, and when you double-click on it you see additional related terms. It leads to a great discussion about words and helps students to think more about the meanings of words. I was surprised by how enthusiastic my students were to explore their words. Some stayed on into recess to type theirs in.

For vocabulary development that's fun and engaging and doesn't require a stack of dictionaries, I recommend Visuwords.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Friday Fun - 14/8/09

Fun This Week

Maths - Volume
This week I held a Circle-Time Maths session to teach Volume. It went as follows:
Check In: My name is... I think volume in Maths is...
Mixer: Show students the definition for 'volume' using the Mathletics Dictionary. Also look at related terms. Students are each given a box and sort themselves in order from smallest volume to largest volume.
Main Activity: In groups of four, students use informal units to compare the volume of their boxes and to check whether they ordered themselves correctly.
Debrief: Discuss student findings from their measurements. What did they find easy/difficult about this task?
Energiser: Beginning with the largest boxes, students add their box to a 'box sculpture' in the middle of the circle. Try to add all boxes without the tower falling.
Check Out: My name is... and one thing I learnt about volume today is...

My Reflections - This lesson didn't go as well as I would have liked. It was difficult for students to measure the volume of the boxes as the units didn't fit nicely, and they all tried to measure their boxes at once which meant there weren't enough resources. It did lead us to a discussion about the value of having formal units and a systematic way of calculating volume. Unfortunately, due to the fact that I only taught my Maths class once this week, and my relief teachers chose to 'leave volume to [me]', I didn't get to explore the whole length x width x breadth idea with them. I'll have to make some time for that next week. We didn't get to the tower building energiser either due to time constraints. I guess it's just one of those lessons that held a lot of promise, but didn't quite make the cut.

Movie Maker
In lab time students had the opportunity to create their own school movies using a bunch of photos and videos that have been captured recently. This week the focus was on using the Movie Maker storyboard to sequence images and add transitions and titles. In our next session I will teach students how to include audio files and alter the length of time their photos are displayed. I was impressed by how quickly students picked up on the skills - some took it even further than I demonstrated. It emphasized two things: how easy Movie Maker is to learn, and how quick digital natives can transfer skills from one program to the next.

Cooperative Reading Groups
Cooperative reading went really well this week. Students are becoming more familiar with the way it works and are focused on the tasks they need to complete. I find it really exciting to see that my students are all working on different tasks and at different paces with minimal assistance from me. I have the enjoyable job of shoulder hovering as they work and giving them tips for how they can stretch their skills further.
Before Tuesday's Group Discussion time I played video snippets from the group I sat in on the week before. This allowed me to give students some more direction in the way these groups should function. I sat in on another group this week and enjoyed hearing students discussing their books and the connections they have with each other, with movies they've seen and also with events in real life.

On Friday we had a special visit from the puppy of one of my students. We made a circle on the floor and Bruno (?) went from person to person to 'say hello'. He was very cute and it was nice to watch students interacting with him. Some of the kids worked out that he was more likely to come to them if they tapped the floor and called his name. Others discovered that he liked having his belly scratched. It was just a short visit, but it's always nice to have an animal in the classroom for students to interact with.

The staff of my school are in the process of defining how we approach student enrichment. Our Enrichment Committee feels that all students have the potential to be gifted and talented in one way or another, and we feel that teachers should work to identify each student's potential and provide opportunities through which students can grow. Part of this involves understanding how students like to be acknowledged for their achievements. We are conducting a survey across the school to gather this information. I created a survey using Tiger Survey and the Year 4 Students completed it in about five minutes during lab time on Friday. (You can see a PDF print version here.) I'm going to get some computers set up for it in Year 3 next week so that students can take their turn at some point during the week. The most popular options in Year 4 were "a class reward - class party/free time etc", and "opportunities to learn about things you're interested in". The least popular was "teacher contacting your parents to let them know what you're good at". Fascinating!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tech Tips Tuesday

This Week's Tip: Meet Me at the Corner

This week I discovered another video resource that is free, online, educational and isn't blocked by my school. Meet Me at the Corner provides a collection of video podcasts featuring children exploring the world and its wonders. During each episode a child host serves as a tour guide leading the viewer to sites of interest to children. Each episode comes with follow-up activities and additional resources.

While the creator of this site tells me that it is designed for children in America, I found that the children in my class enjoyed it too. Many of the places visited are in and around New York City (my favourite place in the world) so I derived pleasure from sharing some of these places with my students.

The most recent video was about Homing Pigeons, which tied in nicely with our recent reading of Mo Willems pigeon books. The video makes a great tool for developing prior knowledge before reading the books, or can be used after the books to inspire further research into raising pigeons.

If you have a student who likes to make things with their hands or a reluctant reader who likes pop-up books, I'd recommend watching the video: Robert Sabud & The Pop-Up Book. Robert Sabud explains the process of making a pop-up book and shows us how to make a pop-up card.

I look forward to using this site some more with my students and sharing it with other teachers across the school.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Friday Fun - 7/8/09

I really enjoyed this week as it was a nice balance of classroom and administration. The classroom felt settled and successful and the students were engaged in the lessons. In my administrative role I achieved a lot - planning, paperwork, phone calls, supporting teachers, and observing lessons. I've given a couple of lengthy explanations today in case you would like to replicate the things we've done in your own lessons.

Fun This Week

Skilling with Textiles
We launched into some skill development with textiles this week. I conducted an online survey with students (using Tiger Survey) to determine students' prior skills with knitting, sewing, crochet etc and to find out what equipment they had access to. I asked students to volunteer to be coaches if they classified themselves as experts with particular textile skills. Students then selected which groups they would like to join to develop their basic skills. As we didn't have quite enough equipment for the first session, some students created God's Eyes and then brought in some extra equipment for additional sessions.

The knitting coaches were a little nervous about starting their group as they weren't sure how to cast on. At recess, in the staff room, I found out that our librarian knew how to cast on and had some time that she was willing to share to teach it to the coaches. While she explained it to them I recorded the explanation using my mini camcorder so that they could revisit it later if they needed to. They practiced during their lunchtime and were ready to start after lunch. I was amazed by how well they remembered the instructions and were able to teach the others.
Students were allocated an area and then the coaches ran their sessions with minimal support. They were responsible for ensuring their materials were cleaned up and their areas tidy at the end of the session.

As students complete one skill area, they are welcome to move to another group to try out a new skill. At this stage the emphasis is more on trying new skills than on creating a finished product.
That said, the students with the weaving looms have successfully made beanies and scarves; the sewing group have made little cushions; the crocheters have made snakes and lizards (from a basic chain); and the knitters are well underway with knitting rows. Mid-week another group started up with french knitting using cardboard rolls and paddle pop sticks.

I've been impressed to see that the kids are loving it all so much that they are even doing it during their lunch breaks and asking to take it home. Two students have already created textiles projects at home and turned them in. It's great to see their enthusiasm.

Touch Footy
We are preparing students for a Touch Football Gala later in the term, so after our Maths sessions we go down to the oval to do some skill-building. Some of the boys are particularly keen about this and they are grabbing a ball to continue practice during lunch. We are hoping to get some mini games started next week.

Munching in Maths
For one of the Maths lessons I bought a bag of apples and used them to help students apply maths to everyday life. I must say that I was particularly lucky as the numbers kept working in my favour.

We weighed one apple (125g) and then students tried to calculate how many apples there should be in a 1kg bag. Some worked it out by adding 125 repeatedly and keeping a running total. Some worked it out by doubling and tracking the number of apples. And others worked it out by dividing 1000 by 125. As it turned out, for whatever reason, there were actually 9 apples in the bag instead of the 8 we calculated mathematically! We also discovered that it was possible that the scales weren't so accurate.

We then created a new word problem that required students to determine how much one apple would cost if the whole bag was $4. I passed out some calculators for students to use to assist them. Students were a little boggled by the decimal result they got 0.44444 and thought it must be wrong. One of the students worked out what it meant and explained it to the class. So then I asked students to work out how much 2 apples would cost; 3 apples; 6 apples; 5 apples and we discussed how to work out the answers mentally. Then I flipped it around the other way - how much would half an apple cost? A quarter? As you can see, the numbers were very favourable as they were easy to multiply and divide.

One of the students called out "Can we EAT the apples?" So we launched into yet another problem to be solved - How much apple can each student have? With 9 apples and 25 students, there weren't enough for one each, so we would have to divide them into halves. Students calculated that we would have 18 halves - still not enough pieces. But then we realised that if we cut them into quarters, we would have spare pieces. I demonstrated this on the board as an example of division with remainders (which we learnt earlier in the week). 36 pieces would give us 1 quarter each, then 11 remaining pieces. One student decided that they didn't want any apple, so then we were looking at 24 students and 12 remaining pieces. While they munched on their apple I asked students to think about what they know about the relationship between 24 and 12. One student pointed out that 12 is half of 24. So how does this help us with dividing up the remaining pieces? Another student realised that we could cut the remaining quarters into half again to make another 24 pieces. So what would these pieces be called? One student worked it out and another explained how they came to the answer. They then worked out how many eighths they had had altogether.

You could feel the energy in the classroom as students buzzed from one calculation to another and solved the real-life problems.

We explored anger through our dancing this week. We told students the story of a farmer who was angry because some of his workers broke the machinery. There were three parts to the dance music - the angry farmer who stomps and shakes his fist, the trembling workers and the broken machinery. Students explored these roles through dance and then worked in small self-selected groups to create and present their own dances. I was captivated by the way they told the story through dance.

Leadership Assembly
We had a school assembly to recognise and welcome in the new SRC and Enviro Squad for the second half of the year. Students also received certificates for their achievements in the Computer and Science competitions.

8th Teaching K-6 Carnival

Welcome to the August edition of the Teaching K-6 Carnival. This month I received a large number of submissions that weren't really relevant to the purposes of this Blog Carnival. I culled a large number of them, keeping only those that I felt contributed to my role as an educator of students in a K-6 setting. I also added a few extra posts to the mix - favourite posts that came to me via my RSS feed reader (Google Reader) this month. I hope you enjoy this month's edition and find something that you can take away to use in the classroom.

Brain Strain

Steven Germain shares his thoughts on what it takes to make a good teacher in his post: My 10th grade report card qualifies me to have an opinion... posted at Rough Fractals. This post helps us to reflect on our own schooling and to consider the perspectives of our students. He challenges us to teach with guts and a bit of nuttiness!

Gripes and Brags

This month I'd like to brag about Kelly Hines. She has been posting about some of the things that she has been doing in preparation for the new school year. You can read how to Set Up for Success and Set Up for Success: Procedures at her blog Keeping Kids First.

In the News

Margaret Garcia presents Sarah Palin’s Stand on Special Education posted at Nurse Practitioner Schools. She seeks to clarify misinformation that was published in the Washington post.
Pam Hook of Artichoke shares her thoughts about Cyril Taylor's book "A Good School for Every Child". Pam raises important issues about the way that we perceive ICT in education and the many factors that influence improvements in student learning.

Innovate - Beyond the Slate

Dave Winter shows how kids are learning through video games in his post: Seeing is Believing posted at Reality Check.

Kelly Hines presents If No Textbooks, Then What? posted at Keeping Kids First. This post shows her innovative teaching as she moves away from textbooks in Science, Social Studies and Maths.
Dean Shareski challenges us to consider "Are We Text Snobs?" at Ideas and Thoughts from an EdTech. He reminds us of the importance of visual literacy and the need to teach students how to use video, audio and imagery.
In 25 Predictions for the University of the Future posted at Associate Degree Blog, Emily Thomas shares some ideas of how education is changing. This post may help you to think about the sorts of skills that students will need as they continue their education in the coming years.
Kelsey Allen shares Comics in the Classroom: 100 Tips, Tools, and Resources for Teachers posted at Teaching Her suggestions cater for a range of ages and also provide tools students can use for creating their own comics.
Fiona Lohrenz gives ideas about Formulating A Day Care Mission Statement posted at Child Care Only.
DeMarcus suggests effective ways of Teaching Kids to Manage Anger at Self Improvement Articles. He encourages readers to consider how they might make this learning fun and engaging.

Look No Further

Patricia Turner presents 50 Reasons to Love Your Local Library posted at Online University Lowdown.
Allison Johanson presents 25 Must-Have Firefox Extensions for e-Learners posted at Best Online
Martha Jackson presents Top 50 Online Education Blogs posted at The .Edu Toolbox.
Jill Gordon presents The 100 Best Open Education Resources on the Web posted at MasterDegreeOnline.

Miranda presents 25 Essential Free iPhone Apps for Lifelong Learners posted at Top Online University Reviews.
Linda presents 50 Fun iPhone Apps to Get Kids Reading and Learning posted at Online Ultrasound School.

Why not submit your post for the next carnival?

The Teaching K-6 Carnival is posted monthly on the 7th. I am collecting submissions throughout the month, looking in particular for posts that discuss and exemplify innovative teaching and the integration of technology in the K-6 classroom. I also invite a few "brain strains" to keep our minds alert and challenged. Please submit only articles of which you are the author and refrain from using this merely as a sales pitch. For full details, please read my call for submissions.
If you have a relevant post that you would like to submit to the next edition of teaching k-6 carnival use our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tech Tips Tuesday - 20 Free Learning Technology Resources

Today I share with you a guest post from education writer Karen Schweitzer. Karen is the Guide to Business School. She also writes about online courses for
Thanks for putting this great collection together for us Karen.

20 Free Learning Technology Resources

Looking for free online resources to integrate technology into the classroom? The Internet is loaded with a variety of interactive games, activities, education technology blogs and podcasts to help you successfully implement new technology. Here is a list of 20 free learning technology resources to try:

BrainPOP - BrainPOP offers curriculum-based educational games and activities for students of all ages. The site's educator page also provides free tools and tips to help teachers use these games in the classroom.

Virtual Field Trips - The Education Network features virtual field trips that can be used by students who want to visit fun and exciting places that they might not otherwise be able to see. This site also allows teachers to create, add, and edit their own virtual field trip.

FunBrain - FunBrain offers interactive games and activities that teachers can use in the classroom for grades K-8. The site also provides fun movies, web books, and comics.

BGFL - This interactive whiteboard site provides games and activities that cover all subjects.

TeacherLED - TeacherLED offers resources to make introducing interactive whiteboards in the classroom easier. Resources are provided for several subjects, including math, literature, and geography.

Eduscapes - This site features tips and tricks for introducing interactive whiteboards in the classroom. Eduscapes also offers tutorials, workshops, assignments, curriculum ideas, and activities.

Free Technology for Teachers - This blog provides information and reviews on free technology as well as tips on how to implement new technologies in the classroom. - Designed for parents and teachers, features powerful learning tools that teachers can use with students. Activities are available for students of all subjects and grades. - This free game and activity site ignites lifelong learning in children through interactive games and social communication tools. offers activities that cover every major school subject.

Grammar Girl - Grammar Girl is a free podcast from Mignon Fogarty that presents short, simple memory tips for troublesome grammatical rules. Each episode is short and easy to listen to.

Eight Planets - Eight Planets offers overviews of the planets and moons through a free multimedia tour.

High Techpectations - High Techpectations is a blog that provides resources and ideas for educators as well as weekly technology site suggestions for teachers.

ABC Ya! - This free computer activity site provides fun games and lessons for elementary students. Each game and lesson has been created or approved by teachers.

SMART - SMART offers customizable interactive whiteboard resources for teachers to use in the classroom. This interactive site covers all subjects and grade levels. - This free mathematics podcast is an excellent resource for classroom teachers. seeks to explain math through real life topics.

The Innovative Educator - The Innovative Educator blog features a wide range of tools and resources that educators can use to enhance teaching and learning.

ClassBrain - ClassBrain provides many different interactive learning games for students of all ages. Games can be played online and may also be used with interactive whiteboards.

American Museum of Natural History - The American Museum of Natural History provides several virtual tours that are wonderful for teaching students about history, space, and natural forms.

EdTechTalk - EdTechTalk's weekly podcasts provide information for learning about the uses of technology in the classroom. Podcast options include 21st Century Learning, EdTechTalk K-12, EdTechBrainstorm, and several others.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

ATESOL ACT Innovations in Technology in ESL Teaching

I was invited to present at this workshop. These are the slides and handout that I used for the presentation, however you won't be able to view the video I used or the audio recordings. For those who missed them, the video showed some ways that we have been using the Flip Camera in the classroom. You can read my post about this here. One audio file was students discussing what the "Mystery Object" might be, and the other was a Book Chat where students discussed their opinions of the characters, setting and plot from Rowan of Rin by Emily Rodda.