Friday, July 29, 2011

Reasons for having a Classroom Blog

I've become a big fan of blogging in the past year as it makes it much easier to maintain a web prescience and update resources that most other content management systems out there.  I plan on using a classroom blog this year instead of a newsletter.  Here's a post from Free Technology for Teachers that I found timely, as the author talks about why teachers should have classroom blogs.

Here are my plans for my classroom blog:

1. Link to Weekly reading log form that I created using google docs.  This way, I can quickly compute how many minutes kids are reading, what they are reading, and can even ask a quick question like what genre they are reading or where they like reading to help get a better sense of how I can support their reading.  If it works, I might do a math type log as well, as I did Math logs once, and the students really enjoyed keeping track of the number of math problems they completed.

2. Current and Upcoming Events in the classroom.  This will hopefully replace the newsletter.  For those parents who need a hardcopy, I can just print out the pertinent newsletters once a day.  I'm really excited about the prospect of putting up pictures of student work, possibly using the ELMO in my classroom to help with that.

3.  Homework.  I can just post homework to this page so that there never is a question of what the students' homework is or if they forgot to bring it home what they should do.

4.  Rubrics.  I'd love to get to the point where I have rubrics for units of study up on the blog.

One thing I will need to do is figure out a service that will email people with updates to the blog, as that is the manner in which most parents receive their newsletters from teachers.  I also need to find out the policy on student work on the internet, and what I should do with student names and the such.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Update to Great Webtools for Teachers

Wordsmyth: a dictionary that includes a simpler dictionary with pictures for younger readers.
Lexipedia: a theasaraus with some interesting word maps

Here's the latest updates to Great Webtools for Teachers.  I might need to reorganize that post to make it easier now that it has over 25 links in it! 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Guide to Transforming Past Lessons to 21st Century Lessons

Here's a great guide from Michael Gorman that goes through ten steps to transforming past lessons for 21st century learners. There are some great ideas there, including:

"3. Incorporate at least two 21st century skills – You may wonder why I state two. First, I don’t think it will be difficult… and 21st century skills are so important to our student’s futures. You may actually find your project will incorporate a large number of these important skills. Second, in using two 21st century skills, you will be sure that one is measurable on a rubric. Research indicates that the three easiest 21st century skills to measure include critical thinking/problem solving, communication, and collaboration"

Ten Steps to Transforming Past Lessons for 21st Century Learners | 21 st Century Educational Technology and Learning

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Resources for Creating Thinking Maps

Listed below are resources for creating mind maps, thinking maps and outlines online. These are great in all stages of the learning process and can really help students use and develop higher order thinking skills.

Free Technology for Teachers: 7 Tools for Creating Mind Maps and Outlines Online

Monday, July 25, 2011

Best Resources for Information about Finland's Education System

Here's a listing of the Best resources for information about Finland's education System. As a part Finn myself, I find myself drawn to articles and information about the success this country has had with education.

Finland's high-quality, consistent education system eschews tests, reveres teachers - Boing Boing

Friday, July 22, 2011

Updates to Great Webtools for Teachers

25 Great Free technologies for Teachers and Students

This is a listing of 25 great free technologies for teachers to use from Edgalaxy. I added it to the list of Great Webtools for Teachers

Videos that Illustrate qualities of a great (language) learners

Larry Ferlazzo has a great post with videos that demonstrate qualities that four qualities of a great language learner. I think these also are great for any learner!

Here's the qualities that Larry Ferlazzo targets:

"An appetite for learning, perseverance

Being willing to take risks

Being willing to make mistakes and learn from them

Wants to help and teach others"

The Best Videos Illustrating Qualities Of A Successful Language Learner

Bad Teacher Education Is To Blame, NCTQ Study Concludes from Huffington Post

Interesting study that suggests that teacher education programs are not adequately preparing teachers to be successful teachers. Looking at my own experience, and those of new teachers I know, I would agree that you do not feel very prepared to be a teacher when you finish your student teaching. I also wonder if this is related to the high rates of teachers leaving the profession within 5 years.

Bad Teacher Education Is To Blame, NCTQ Study Concludes from Huffington Post.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Brown Sharpie: Mathematical Cartoons

Some of the cartoons are a little PG-13, but I think there are some that could be used as a quick comic to engage your students at the beginning of class.

Brown Sharpie by way of iLearn Technology.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Best Resources for Free eBooks

So, I happen to be a voracious reader, and I find myself constantly looking for ways to find free books and articles.  Here are some of the best places that I've found so far:

Project Gutenberg: The first place to look for out of copyright books.  It also has some more recent books, including books that are in the creative commons.  It focuses on putting books in ePub format for use with eBook readers.

Google Books: A great service from Google.  It's primarily has books to purchase, but it has a large collection of free books, mostly books that are not copyright.  You can find some really strange, unusual books, such as 16th century anatomy textbooks as boingboing suggests here.  Plus, there is a Google Book app for your iPad, iPhone and Android devices to read all the books you find on there.

As I find more resources, I'll post them.  Feel free to post you're favorites in the comments.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Free Companion Book to America The Story of Us

"History Channel is giving away copies of the America the Story of Us
companion book to teachers. To get your free copy (retail price
$29.99), you do have to pay $3.95 for shipping, call History's customer
service at 1-800-344-6336."

Heard about this from Free Technology for Teachers who heard about it from Jeff Naslund.  Very Cool!

Thursday, July 7, 2011


A great new website is tubechop which allows you to cut out the interesting parts of youtube videos and share them.  This could be great for teachers, as you won't have to sit through a 5 minute video to show kids how crayfish eat.  From The Innovative Educator

There's an app for that...

Sure, that phrase is way over used, but I like how this website organizes the 14 apps that they recommend for iPads.  Teachers at SLP who are getting iPads might want to take notice of these apps. 

The best apps that I saw on this site were Wix, a way to organize resources that you find in one place and Show Me, which allows anyone to create tutorials about a topic or concept. 

Free Activities for Learners with Severe or Profound Special Needs

Looks  like this might be a great list of switch activities for Sped Students.  Will be saving this link and looking it over if I have any students who might need this next year. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Keep Youtube Clean

Here's a way to keep youtube cleaner.  It's a browser extension for chrome, firefox and safari.  Allows you to search and view youtube videos without seeing ads, related videos or comments.  From Free Technology for Teachers.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The True Reason for Summer Break

I love my summer break, but I admit I believed that our summer break was a carry over from an agrarian society.  Instead, it appears that vacationing elites might have had a hand in it as wellFrom huffington post