Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ideas for Writing Projects/Essays

What a great idea from @chrislehmann! His Elluminate speech referenced a Spanish IV project. The students’ wrote an essay about themselves; specifically, what people see on the outside vs. what the student possesses on the inside. The Spanish students learned and created masks to reflect their outsides and insides. They then cut up pieces of their essay and used that to decorate their masks. What a neat project to do at the beginning of the school year. This would be a great way to learn the students and their inner passions/fears/beliefs.

Another essay I used was about the students’ favorite song. This essay would be a great vehicle for teaching persuasive writing. They followed this template and had to convince me if their favorite song would be remembered years from now.

I guess what I am getting at is tweaking the writing projects to reflect more of the student. Sure, you can still practice the various forms of writing but gear them toward the student and his/her interest. I think this would motivate the student to write and write more passionately.

Start the class with Local Trivia

Every morning I receive an update from KWTX in my Google Reader. They are almost always interesting and great for curious minds. Here is an example of this morning's update:

"Good morning, it’s Monday December 20 and it’s shaping up as a pleasant day in Central Texas. It’s the 124th anniversary of the opening of the Texas hotel where nearly a half-century later a future president had his first date with a future first lady. Do you know what it is?"

When you click on the link, it takes you to the rest of the story. I thought this would be neat to write on the board each morning (omitting the weather reference). Then read the class the answer. This would build the students' knowledge of local history and trivia. This would make a great addition to a Texas history classroom. To take it a step further, I might add a few of these on a test as bonus point items.... just a random thought this morning!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

More Web 2.0 Tools

Thanks to @jholland for the great list of Web 2.0 tools. I really enjoy the image generators and effects!

T’was the Night Before Finals

T’was the Night Before Finals


B.J. Williams

T’was the night before finals, and all through the school,

Students were gaming, because that was the rule.

The grades were all posted on Grade speed with care,

In hopes that exemptions would keep all kids from here.

The students each struggled with an empty head,

While teachers all hoped they’d remember what was said.

When some with a scantron, and I with pen of red,

Had just written keys for bubbles filled with number two led.

When out of the office there rose such a clatter,

I gave up grading to see what was the matter!

To the edge of my room I flew like a flash,

Unlocked the door that’s a security latch,

A student was mooning, bottom as white as the snow,

And gave a retching to all who happened to see the show.

When what to my wandering eyes should appear?

But a smart student who knew how to escape from here!

He coughed and he spewed, for this he knew,

Would help others believe that he had the flu!

Then, more rabid than beagles, my student’s they came,

I greeted them wearily, and mumbled their name,

“Now Justin, now Ali, now Zippy and Bob!

On Trenton, on Kristy, and good old Rob Dawg!

To the front of the class, a seat between all,

Pick up a scantron and take the test for the fall!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

My students were blown away with numbers like pi!

So up to the test they would write what they knew,

Along with a lot that they had guessed on too!

And then in a twinkling, I heard all through the class,

The pencil’s led marking, student’s hoping to pass.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

I noticed a cheater, their review placed neatly on the ground!

They were dressed in defiance, from their head to their foot,

And out of the classroom I gave them my boot!

His bundle of books, he threw on his back,

He looked back at me and said, “You don’t know Jack!”

His eyes – how they twinkled, his smirk no less,

But my smile came knowing he was headed to ISS!

My droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And then I saw the student who really didn’t know!

The stub of his pencil he held firm in his teeth,

And smoke from his ears circled his head like a wreath!

He had a blank face, and a grasp of math as firm as jelly,

He was perspiring too much, which made his odor quite smelly!

In class he was silly, paid less attention than an elf,

And so now I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.

A wink of my eye, and a nod of my head,

And the student now knew, his grade was dead!

He spoke not a work, but continued his work,

And wished now in class, he had not been such a jerk!

And laying his pencil beside his test,

He conceded to fail, as he knew not the rest.

He rose from his desk, and in exasperation gave a whistle,

As his grade plummeted, like a tomahawk missile!

But I said to him, as he walked down the hall out of sight,

See you next year! Maybe then you’ll get some right!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Do you need a Web 2.0 tool?

Look no further than this site from Jeff Thomas from Houston, TX:
Be sure to also check out the slideshow and video of the day as well as other goodies on the left hand side.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

So Funny, and So True

"You're sitting in a chair in the sky!!!!"

Here is the original tweet from @ktenkely:

"Was just reminded about video hilarious & illustrates difference between digital native & immigrant worldview #edchat"

Here is that video....

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ten Tools for Tuesday

Festisite - A neat site to make some creative items. Use the personalized money generator to put your kids' faces on money. Make a bulletin board and hang their money when they score well on an exam. Introduce Mt. Rushmore or the statue of liberty by putting a photo of your student on it.

Wondersay is a really simple and fun idea. With Wondersay, you can use any simple sentence or twitter account to generate a cool animation! Wondersayings are easy to create, customize and share. No software programs to download (it's all online), no sign-up or passwords (save them by copying the link or embedding them in your website), and all for free. Click the example below to see an example of a Wondersaying I made.

Cool Iris - It's simply the fastest and most stunning way to browse photos and videos from the Web or your desktop. Effortlessly scroll an infinite "3D Wall" of your content without having to click page to page, whether you'e on Facebook, Google Images, YouTube, Flickr, Picasa, Kodak Gallery, or any supported site. Or channel surf the latest news, TV episodes, movies, and music videos all from within Cooliris.

Livebrush - Livebrush is a drawing application. It employs an easy-to-use brush tool that reacts to your gesture. By combining simple motion controls with brush styles, Livebrush offers a fun and unique way to create graphics.

Word it Out - Simply enter some text and create your word cloud. You can keep your word cloud secret or share it. You can even embed it onto your webpage. The settings are also customizable.

Kaleidocycle - Upload your own photos and create a foldable cube. Create your own Rubix cube of review terms, images, etc.

Random - Check out the free random things you can do at this site. Play the coin flipper, dice roller, or card shuffler as a means of classroom collaboration

Where's George? - Do you ever wonder where that paper money in your pocket has been, or where it will go next? This is the place to find out. All you need to do is enter the denomination, series, and serial number of any US dollar bill, and your current USA ZIP or Canadian Post Code in the box below.

On my Birthday - Find out everything (and I mean everything) that happened on a specific day, such as your (or your students') birthday.

Spell with Flickr – Simply type a phrase or word in the box and watch the letters pulled from Flickr. If you do not like a letter, click on it and another pops up. What a neat way to practice spelling or vocabulary words.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

'Tis the Season (for my favorite Christmas videos)

Today was our department Christmas party. I cannot help but to think of some of my favorite videos/video clips for the holidays....enjoy! (Not appropriate for school viewing.)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Top 10 Sites for Teacher Resources

Teachers often ask me for good (free) sites to find everything from lesson plans to interactives, and other premade goodies. I have compiled a list of ten sites that are my “go to” sites for time savers, resources, and new materials. The following are in no particular order:

1. Thinkfinity – What I LOVE about Thinkfinity (in addition to the numerous contributors and content types available) is the SEARCH option. You can modify your search to include interactives that students can complete in a computer lab setting by simply placing a check mark next to this option.

2. Awesome Library – A great site for lesson plans and content related sites. Click on the appropriate topic and explore project ideas and multimedia resources.

3. Classtools - allows you to create free educational games, activities and diagrams in a Flash! Host them on your own blog, website or intranet! No signup, no passwords, no charge!

4. SAIL On – A great resource provided by 9 public school districts in the Houston area. Simply hover over your level, then click on the desired grade and content area. Provided are web sites, interactives, and lessons matching specific TEKS.

5. 4Teachers - ALTEC, the umbrella organization for the 4teacher tools, manages the Technology Rich Classroom (TRC),Title II-D initiative in Kansas. Take a look at the powerful 21st Century learning taking place in these classrooms!

6. Teacher’s Domain – I really like that the media is provided for you. Many of the video clips mentioned in the lesson are viewable from this site.

7. Teachers First – To browse, hover over “Classroom”, “Resources”, and click “By Subject/Grade”. I really like the “weekly brain twisters”.

8. Super Teacher Tools – This site contains templates for classroom review games, management tools, and tools for fun.

9. Pete’s PowerPoint Station – Do you need a PowerPoint? Look no further than Pete’s. Be sure to also check out Greta’s games for interactives.

10. ETRIP – Created by my school district, ETRIP is filled with links, lessons, and resources for using technology in your classroom.

Please share some of your “go to” sites here!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

12 Days of Whataburger

Even before I became pregnant, I have been a HUGE fan of Whataburger. I mean, who can resist those tasty fries, burgers, and chicken tenders? I find myself pulling in to a Whataburger at least once a week now for breakfast.

This morning was no different than other mornings. I was running late and had forgotten an important paper at home. I wrestled with fussy children this morning who didn't want to get dressed, didn't want to go to daycare, and didn't care that mommy was running late for work. As I realized my paper left behind, I called my husband and asked him to scan it for me. I pulled up to the Whataburger drive-thru and ordered my breakfast.

When I pull up to pay, the lady behind the window says "Someone has already paid for your breakfast." I quickly look around to see if I know anyone. She says, "A stranger paid for your breakfast." I immediately burst into tears. That person will have no idea what this meant for me. I was having a horrible morning and really couldn't afford my breakfast. This stranger made my day, and his/her $4 gives me hope.

I don't want to get too emotional but, do something nice for someone else. Even something as small as $4 breakfast can make someone's day. And if you love Whataburger, sign up for the 12 Days of Whataburger, and buy someone else a tasty breakfast.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Idea to Practice Spelling Words

Notes From McTeach: A Little Low Tech

I came across the above blog post today. What a neat idea! Have the students create art using their spelling words. This is a great assignment! I thought about tweaking it some for TAKS. In ELA, there is an entire section of the workbook titled "Confusing Words". This section includes words such as "affect/effect", "lay/lie", and even words such as "compliment/complement". It would be neat to:

1. Assign the student a confusing word.
2. Have the student create a picture describing/defining that term.

For example, a picture for "lay" could be a book on a desk. Then have the student share why this picture defines their term.

Thanks to McTeach for the great idea!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Vocabulary Flashcards

I came across this idea today from @harrisonmike and @johannastirling. The idea is to use photos from Flickr to create flashcards. It would be neat to assign students vocabulary terms, give them a FlipCam or digital camera and set them loose. (It would be even better if the students were allowed to take them home, but school would be fine too.) Students will then capture the term in a photo, then have fun editing it using Picnik. After the photo is edited, the students could work together using Google docs to create a presentation over the assigned terms. They could then present them together.

Or, put the photos in Photo Story and create a movie over the terms. After the presentations are over, students could submit their photos to this Flickr channel, or the teacher can create his/her own Flickr channel to publish the students work.

Thanks @harrisonmike and @johannastirling for the great idea!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Awesome Drama/Short Story Project

You need to have the students bring a cereal box (empty of course).

1. In partners, assign a story (fable, fairy tale, something that they can read). They will read (The 3 Little Pigs for example) and with their partner, create a cereal box promoting the story.

2. First, cover the cereal box with construction paper.

3. Next, create a cover for the box. This should include the title, a picture, and maybe a caption (a quote from the story or maybe even a review like “Coach Smart gives The 3 Little Pigs two hooves up!”)

4. For the side, instead of nutritional facts, here they will list the cast of characters, using terms such as antagonist, protagonist, major and minor characters.

5. For the back, they will cover it with the facts from the story and pictures. These would include: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution.

Awesome idea!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Way to Intro a Book Report

This idea came from an interesting blog post by Shelly Terrell. I think this would be a fantastic video clip to play before having students compose a book report or any research/writing assignment. Thanks @ShellTerrell for the great idea!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

Postcard Puzzles

I found this online from Edutopia. While not utilizing technology, this activity is another great way to get the students writing and teaching grammar (parts of speech/parts of a sentence):

Postcard Puzzles - Cut a bunch of postcards and give one piece to each student. They have to find the matching students, put the puzzle together and write questions about the postcard that apply to what I (the teacher) may have done over the summer. Then, share with the class.

You could also adapt it by making the postcards pictures of characters from a story. Then, the students have to answer some questions about that character (an idea to teach characterization).

New Spice | Study like a scholar, scholar

Grammar Practice

I get so many great ideas from Larry Ferlazzo. Here are three that can be geared for practicing grammar, specifically any part of speech or parts of a sentence:

1. Revised Image Go Round: This is a neat activity (sort of like the image go round I borrowed from Corrie at ESC12). Put 2-3 pictures at a group. Students look at the pictures, imagine what probably happened BEFORE the picture, and write sentences speculating about what might/could/may/must/can't/couldn't have happened to the people in the pics or suggest what they should/could have done to prevent their situations. Don't forget to number the sentences according to the numbers of the pictures. This could be used to practice any part of speech or part of a sentence….

2. Create a cube: This would be neat for your kids to create and share…it’s a cube all about them. They can pull in audio, video, pictures etc. This would be neat to use as a “get to know you”, intro to the personal narrative, or intro to researching biographies/people….

3. Create an Animoto over a "Dream Vacation": With this new unit about journey, here are some pictures of the place I would like to visit if money were no restriction. Can you guess what place that is? Write your guesses in the comment area, using the parts of speech we just learned.

4. Using Voicethread: I have seen many teachers using Voicethread. Have students type or read their sentences regarding your prompt. Emphasize use of the part of speech you covered in class that week. Then, play the voicethread back for the class, having them count the specific part of speech covered. The one with the closest answer wins....

Monday, August 16, 2010

Music Videos and Irony

I love Toby Keith and so many of his videos contain irony. I mentioned in a previous post his video "It's a Little Too Late" to teach the short story "The Cask of Amontillado"...well, you could also use that video to teach irony. You could also use "Who's your Daddy" as well..

You could also use "The Reason" by Hoobastank, especially for teaching a twist at the end of a story.

I have so many ideas and I am fortunate to share them with this blog. I just really miss the classroom. I hate not being able to use these great ideas. I wonder if I should return to the classroom or keep on in my role as a campus technologist...I know I am hormonal right now (being 7 weeks pregnant) but I just feel this tug in my heart that I cannot ignore.....

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Letter Writing

I used to teach 7th grade and was always looking for creative writing assignments. I used "Letters from a Nut" to teach letter writing. My favorite was the letter from a guy who left his sword in a hotel. Then, I would have the students write a letter about some fictional situation.

Again, I am still watching "CBS Sunday Morning" and came to the section about funny letters from camp. It is called "PS-I hate it here!" Again, what a neat way to teach letter writing. I think the kids would get a laugh out of these funny letters about camp.

The Hero Unit and Princess Bride

In many English courses, there is a unit about a hero. Whether it is King Arthur, Julius Caesar, etc there is a hero unit. In this unit, stereotypes are explored and discussed. In the past, I used a research project based all on heroes: a literary hero, a historical hero, and a pop culture hero. Students had to research one person from each category and then conclude by defending their argument that indeed that person (such as Eminem) is a hero and fits the category of a hero.

At my last school, we taught King Arthur as our hero unit. I just watched "CBS Sunday Morning" and they covered Rob Reiner, who directed "Princess Bride". Of course, my light bulb went off. It would be really neat to show clips from "Princess Bride" or the movie in its entirety and discuss the heroes, stereotypes etc.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Quick Post about Wolfram Alpha and Back to School Activity

I received this in my Diigo groups update and wanted to share a quick idea:

Taking just a few of these questions, create a get to know you activity for the students. Use WolframAlpha to answer the following questions:

1. What are your two favorite colors? What color do you get when they are mixed? (use "mix red and blue" in Wolfram Alpha as your search)

2. Type in your birthday and research.

3. Type in your name and research.

4. Type in "growth chart, age and height" and see how tall you will be!

5. Type in "words that rhyme with...your name, your nickname, this class!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Few More ELA Resources

I have been busy the past two weeks. I have taught the EOC Exam for Eng I and II, attended grad school classes, and been sick. So, for my two readers of this blog, I give you a few more resources and ideas for ELA class (in no particular order)

Education World: There are templates here for ANYTHING you might need. From awards to calendars, you can find it here. There is also a Language Arts section with templates for book reports and newsletters.

Word Games - What a way to practice and enhance vocabulary! This site is loaded with word games such as crossword puzzles to sudoku.

Picture Sandbox - Do you need images? There are millions to choose from here.

Videos for Class - Izzit has many short video clips complete with questions. Similar to CNN Student News, this site is a great way to practice TAKS skills such as summarizing and synthesizing information.

Synonym Finder - This would be another great tool to enhance vocabulary. This tool would also be helpful when writing.

The Human Calendar - I thought this is a great idea for a class calendar. Take pictures of all of your students and make a calendar.

Teen Chat Decoder - Not sure how to use this one...maybe have the kids re-write something using this decoder...or summarize a short story using this language...maybe Romeo and Juliet summed up in teen chat???

Wordia - I like the videos here. This is another great tool for vocabulary development. Simply type in your term, the definition comes up with a matching video.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

One More Music Video Idea

I forgot...I used to practice open end response questions with music videos. I used "Goodbye Earl" by the Dixie Chicks and always asked:

"Should the girls be held criminally responsible for what they did to Earl?"

Short Stories and Movie Videos

I am always looking for neat extensions to anything. Yesterday, a few English teachers and I were discussing a few of our favorite short stories. I mentioned William Faulkner's A Rose For Emily. Someone mentioned she shows Tanya Tucker's Delta Dawn video and discusses the similarities between the characters Delta Dawn and Miss Emily.

Then someone mentioned The Cask of Amontillado and I mentioned Toby Keith's "It's a Little Too Late" and how these two settings are the same. Then as a class we also mentioned irony.

I love literature...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Lord of the Flies "Stuff"

A friend needed some of my Lord of the Flies worksheets. I placed them all here:


Friday, June 11, 2010

Grad School 2.0 Tools

Today, I attended my first face to face class in grad school at Tarleton. Dr. Worrell (@DrWorrell) is awesome and has so many cool tools and great ideas for implementing technology in the classroom. She shared the following great sites today:

1. Kathy Schrock's Guide for Educators - Too many great tools here to name..I really liked Alternatime as one of her timeline resources, Best WebQuests, and Ask Kids ( a really cool search engine for kids).

2. Six Word Memoirs - I do not remember how I stumbled upon this site but what a fun writing assignment. Sum up yourself, the main character in our story, the plot of a novel or conflict in a novel, in six words. Divide the class into groups or partners and assign each a character, setting, conflict, lit. term, anything related to a story and have them make a six word memoir.

3. Social Media Posters - I am trying to find ways of using and promoting the use of social media within my campus/district. This is a neat assortment of posters that convey the importance of social media.

All in all, grad school is exciting and overwhelming at the same time. I seem to be juggling things ok, but this is only week 1. Keep your fingers crossed for me...:)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Plethora of Web 2.0 Tools and Writing Ideas

A plethora??? Yes, a plethora of goodies this week and my ideas as to how you can use them can be found here (in no particular order).

1. Social Networking - So Twitter is blocked...there are a few alternatives you can try. Yammer is really easy to use and provides a threaded discussion anyone can follow. You invite people to join your group, similar to Edmodo. Zonkk is another option. Zonkk allows you to customize your own web address and looks similar to Facebook in layout and capabilities.

2. iEtherpad is going problem, try or TitanPad. Both sites work in the same collaborative fashion.

3. Two really neat writing resources are Son of Citation Machine and Thesis Builder. These are both handy if you are writing any type of research paper.

4. I'm Under Arrest for What??? - I thought this would be a neat addition to a literature unit including Ben Franklin and his virtues and aphorisms. After studying Franklin's 13 virtues, have students compare those with these weird laws.

And to conclude here are three more misc. tools that I thought were simply too cool not to share:
1. SAIL On - Do you need interactives for your subject area? Look no more...
2. Movie Soundtrack Player - Simply type in the movie title and the entire soundtrack pops up. You can listen/play each song from the movie. This would be a neat addition to a literature or short story study. Create a playlist/soundtrack for a short story. Or listen to the soundtrack of a novel turned into a movie, such as Romeo and Juliet.
3. Clipart for History - Similar to Phillip Martin, this site has some really neat clipart you could use in a history/social studies classroom.

Have a great week!