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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Technology Adventures

One of my gains for 2013 was a new business venture. As a blog designer, I get a lot of questions about "how do I... "  the rest of that question has an endless (or so it seems) amount of possibilities.

My bff was a programmer turned teacher turned homeschooler... she is one of those modern workers who have had a variety of careers. I guess I am too! Her goal in 2013 was to combine her love of programming with her love of teaching.


We decided to join forces. We are a weee bit crazy as with husbands, careers, and children underfoot we took on graduate school. She is done and I have ONE class left!!! So... we have taken on a whole new venture! 

(Cuz you know 7 kids, 3 dogs, 2 cats, a hamster, and a lizard are just not enough chaos for the two of us... we needed something new. Oh... and don't forget the hubbies. LOL! Okay... so we may be a teeny tiny bit insane.)

I am so excited to be FINALLY able to share with you what has been keeping me so busy. We have spent hours and hours (more like days and weeks!) creating videos, combining through ideas, and YES even designing lesson plans! 

Together we take you from the basics (like how to create a blogger account) to the advance (like creating CSS code for umm...). Plus we explore other technology resources along with our two teenage sons!

Can you guess what end of the scale I am on?
Can you guess what our sons did over the holiday break? 

There is still so much more to do for this to be ready for you but I just couldn't keep it a secret any longer!!  So when you have a moment stop by and see me at Technology Adventures.

Technology Adventures

The site is scheduled to be completed by February 15 so if you notice things are a bit off... excuse us as we continue to polish and shine our new venture. I would love to hear your feedback on the site. 



Friday, January 25, 2013

National Geographic

So my last class was all about Social Studies and Geography. It is finals week so I can finally share with all of you some of the great resources I discovered during the course.

Did you know National Geographic has an Education Website? 

It Does!

This site covers current events! It has lessons plans, videos, a map creator, pictures, student resources, access to standards, and so much more! I have added it to the resource section of my own classroom website for my students to use. 

This is a brand new resource and still in BETA format. So if there are any suggestions of changes, things you want to see, etc...just let them know. 


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Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Incredible Edible Cell

My son came home the weekend before Winter Break with information on how to complete a project that was worth 40% of his grade. This was on a Friday and the project was due on a Monday. Now normally I would complain about not receiving advanced notice from my children about such a thing but the paper was dated on Friday.

The teacher gave NO NOTICE!

This is a pet peeve of mine. We live paycheck to paycheck... well we did when we were working. Now we have no income and a giant project due on Monday. The school is aware of our circumstances yet no help with this project was given. Sigh... 

To further irritate me, he was given a rubric with little to no information on what to do and was given the advice to google for help. So I googled. I found a lot of information on the Incredible Edible Cell Project. This site is particular good for information on cells.

We were also told no jello. 
Most edible cells are made out of jello. 

Alternatives I found were a cake and a pizza. Since he got extra credit for creativity, we came up with the idea of a cookie and a pie as well. We went with a pie.

How to make...

Using the site I gave you above we had a pretty good idea of how to put the pie together. We filled the pie crust with chocolate pudding. Then we used a melon-baller to make just the right size in the orange to insert the peanut butter cup. Then we stuck the nucleus (orange) into our pudding pie. We surrounded it with the other items and finally labeled it with toothpicks.

WALA... one edible cell!

The pictures make a backwards L in the order in which we added the items so you can kinda see step-by-step what we did. For the tooth-pick labels I cut strips out of index cards, folded the strips in half, and the stuck the toothpick in gluing the two sides together. 

What we used... 
Cell membrane = Graham Cracker Crust 
Nucleus = Inside of the Orange 
Nucleolus = Reese Mini PB Cup 
Nuclear Membrane = Orange Peel
Cytoplasm = Chocolate Pudding 
Smooth E.R. = Gummy Worms 
Rough E.R. = Sour Gummy Worms 
Golgi Bodies = Blue Laffy Taffy
Ribosomes = Candy Sprinkles
Mitochondrion = Twix
Vacuoles = Chocolate Chips
Lysosomes = Orange M&M’s
Centrosomes = Marshmallow 

Cost: about $50! 

And I already had some of the ingredients on hand (sprinkles, chocolate chips. marshmallows, and M&M's). I also bought as much as I could from Dollar Tree (Twix, Gummy Worms, & Sour Gummy Worms). Sigh...

Cute... fun... expensive project 

and yep... 
He got an A!

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Assessments OF Learning & Assessments FOR Learning

Are assessments and evaluations the same? I have heard this question so many times that I am starting to have dreams about them. While different they work together.

I recently found this Slideshow on assessments and thought it would help some of you out as well.

I love the quote "When the cook tastes the soup, that is formative assessment; when the customer tastes the soup, that's summative assessment." ~ Paul Black. This helped me really cement the ideas of each one in my mind.

I use many different types of assessments and evaluations in my classroom. I believe we all do as teachers. My favorites are observation and portfolios. What are your favorite methods?


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Guest Post: Internet Safety

Today is the last day of guests posts and then I will be back and hopefully caught up. It is surprising BUT I can actually (FINALLY) see the bottom of my inbox! Even better news is that I am also caught up on homework and the kitchen is unpacked and stocked.

My current course is all about Technology. This week... my final is due. A webquest. I actually had to complete two for this course... both of which I will be sharing in a few weeks when they have been graded and there is no chance that it could be plagiarizism to post it.

So my focus has been on technology. How can we better implement it into our classrooms? What knowledge is needed to be successful? And most important of all... how to keep everyone safe. Please welcome Lewis as he shares his tips of internet safety....

Depending on their age, a classroom full of children on the internet could be a teachers worst nightmare. Especially when you can't keep an eye on everyone at once. Of course, a lot of school networks use special software to block out unsuitable websites, but not all. When it comes to internet safety in the classroom I believe in a combination of software and good guidelines to help keep kids safe.

Teaching kids how to use the internet and informing them of it's dangers and rules is something that should be implemented from a young age. Too easily do some parents let their children use Facebook or Youtube and forget what's lurking around the digital corner after a few misjudged clicks. Parents and teachers should be teaching children about the dangers, and setting down a few simple rules that we all abide by.

These rules include setting secure and obscure passwords when setting up accounts. Or never arranging to meet a stranger that has talked to you in a chat room. Younger children should never be posting their address or telephone number on social media sites. Older teenagers should be taught about the risks of purchasing online, and how you need to be careful when giving over credit card details. As you can see these are all simple rules and guidelines that we take for granted and forget to teach our kids, but can make all the difference.

But teaching kids how to be safe can only go so far, we all know how curious children can be, and as well as informing them of the dangers we need to protect them from themselves. Luckily, software has been developed for this exact purpose; keeping children safe online.

There are two different types of software that can make classroom life easier for the teacher. Each of them applicable depending on the age of the children and the teachers specific needs. The first is 'Parental Control Software' which will filter and block web pages depending on the content. This sort of software will scan a web page before displaying it for things like profanity, alcohol, pornography etc (you can set how strict the software should be yourself) and will block the page if it deems it inappropriate.

The second type of software – which can be used in conjunction with the first – is 'Computer Monitoring Software'. As the name implies, computer monitoring software will keep logs of everything that happens on the machine it's installed on. Screenshots will be periodically taken, and everything from websites visited to keystrokes typed will be recorded in a log for the teacher to look over if anything is suspected. Computer Monitoring Software runs in complete stealth in the background of the computer, so students won't know they're being monitored.

So a combination of a good education of the facts, parental control software and computer monitoring software can go a long way to securing internet safety in the classroom. That being said, nothing beats a teacher with a watchful eye!

If you'd like to take a look at some Computer Monitoring Software, head over to the the Gecko Monitor website at

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Guest Post: Technology in Elementary Schools

I have been busy working on a few secrets that I am not yet ready to share with you but in the mean time, I have received several quests from people wanting to do a guest post on my site... so here is day 2 of guests. Please welcome back Eve!

Use of Web 2.0 Technology in Elementary School Language Instruction

If you teach young children or have a few of your own, you know that the importance of technology in teaching language to today’s elementary school kids can’t be emphasized enough. Over the last few years language teaching has quickly progressed from static Web 1.0 (searching, reading on the web etc.) to interactive Web 2.0 solutions (user generated content).

Web 2.0 makes immersive language learning possible

Learning a foreign language in your own country from non-native teachers lacks a vital aspect of language learning – an immersive cultural experience. Without any knowledge of or interaction with the related culture, learning a language remains an incomplete and slightly stilted experience for elementary school kids. Nowadays several schools and teachers are coming up with Web 2.0 solutions for forming “language learning partnerships” with students, teachers and teaching institutions in the target countries, wherein using Skype, NetMeeting and similar technologies, students and teachers of two different countries can interact in real time. 

This exposes foreign language learners to not only the native way of speaking the language, but also to the target culture, colloquial phrases, body language etc. Most importantly, interacting with children their own age from the target country introduces an element of fun and collaboration to elementary school language learners, thereby making learning that much easier and effective.

Web 2.0 language learning tools

The introduction of a plethora of online and downloadable Web 2.0 language tools has taken interactive language learning one step further. If you’re looking for an enjoyable audio-visual language learning experience for elementary school kids, you can try Babbel, which offers you a customized selection of multi-media courses depending on the proficiency of your kid, along with entertaining exercises and games. Babbel is also available on mobile devices. 

Lingro is another unique service which facilitates vocabulary building while reading web pages and documents written in foreign languages. 

TypeIt provides online accent keys to augment your keyboard for typing foreign languages, which can then be emailed or copy pasted elsewhere.

Educational technology gadgets for language learning

If you’re a modern young parent with a pre-schooler, chances are you already prefer educational technology gadgets over Barbie dolls for your child’s birthdays and Christmas. These play-and-learn toys are becoming increasingly popular with kids as well as parents, not only because they make education a fun activity for kids, but also because knowledge imbibed in the form of entertainment tends to be enduring. 

VTech MobiGo Touch Learning System is one such toy gadget which supports kids’ language and other learning needs through educational games in a mobile platform. Playschool Alphie – a fun little robot – is another hit with kids which also helps with vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar etc. My Own Leaptop is a laptop like device to help kids quickly learn the alphabet in an environment of music and pictures of animals to hold your kid’s interest. 

You can also try out gifting-special technology deals for more traditional and general-purpose gadgets which can be used for children’s learning too, using downloadable language tools and other educational apps.

Web 2.0 instruction tools for language teachers

Web 2.0 technologies have opened the doors to teachers also, for easily creating tests, interactive exercises, home assignments etc. When it comes to language teaching, one of the most useful softwares is Hot Potatoes which is an open source freeware suite, containing six applications to create interactive multiple-choice, short-answer, jumbled-sentence, crossword, matching/ordering and fill in the blanks exercises on the web. 

Quizlet lets you create and your own flashcards with your students. 

If you’re looking to create multimedia exercises for language learners you can look at JClic, which uses Java to allow you to do just that. If you want to keep it simple, you can go for fun language games involving flashcards, colour matching and grammar exercises in foreign languages.

Future of Web 2.0 tools for learning language

A recent study published in the “International Journal on New Trends in Education and Their Implications” has tried to identify the future trends in the use of Web 2.0 tools in teaching and learning languages, through interviews conducted among a group of teachers and students. In the interviews, teachers pointed out that interactive technology enabled coursework was not only fun and engaging to students but also enriching to teachers as it differs from traditional teaching methods. They also emphasized the ease of creating more engaging course materials and exercises using Web 2.0 technologies. More and more integration of interactive technologies in language teaching seemed to emerge as a clear future trend. 

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Guest Post: Ground Hogs Day

Working with Honey Bunch Blog Designs has given me the opportunity to meet so many amazing teachers! I am so happy to be part of a community of teachers who are so dedicated to their students and teaching profession.

Today, I want to introduce you to a blogger who's blog we recently designed. She has some great things to share with all of us and so today I am loaning her my blog while she shares some fun activities for Ground Hogs Day. Please welcome Jazzy Grandma...

Well, we are off and running! Finished our first full week back. It was a good week. The kids were glad to be back. I can see so much more maturity growth at this point.

Kids really do grow up some in 3rd grade. It's amazing to watch the change. We will begin having meetings on our new evaluation system next week. That should be interesting.

I have been busy creating new materials. Much of it went along with my guided reading this week. It's fantastic to spring some new things on the kids. I have a compare and contrast form I used in reading. The kids compared/contrasted the main characters from their basal story and leveled reader. I have them use bullets to separate their ideas. I also had a place for them to illustrate each character.

I am offering this freebie in both of my stores on TPT and TN. Please just click and grab.

I have also created a Groundhog Day Activities Packet.

I've included two pages from the packet for you to see. Please check it out. Leave me a comment. And, I'd love for you to follow my blog. I am so excited to have entered the blog world!! Have a great weekend!

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Textbook & Teacher Resource Secrets!

Yesterday... I shared with you my Gains for 2013. One of the gains I am planning on is recovering financially from my bankruptcy. I want to never be in this situation again!

For me, I can't control if my cancer returns. I am in remission but as any survivor will tell you... each day we are given is a gift. No one can guarantee it will not return nor can they say when it will return. It is a wait and see kinda thing. The best thing I can do is plan for the what-ifs and pray that it will never come to pass.

One of the things I am doing is learning to manage my money better. So today.. I have a great secret for you!

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this place! I started using it as a cheap alternative to buying my book. I can choose my due date which means that I can rent them for the time I need them rather than some arbitrary choice of 30 or 60 days like other sites.

BUT I really fell in love with this site when I discovered you can rent teacher resources. Check this out.

I can rent books like this for 30 days. Make copies of the 1 activity I like in the book and use it with my class and mail it back. This will save me soooo much money. So this is one of my money saving secrets... as an added bonus it decreases the amount of clutter I have in my home and classroom.

What tops to do you have for saving money on teacher resources?

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Happy 2013!

I know... I am late! Way late!! But I have some exciting news to share and a freebie. =)

Have you seen this commercial??

Every year I hear about people making new years resolutions and afterwards I hear about how they failed in achieving the goals they set. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this positive new spin on creating a new years resolution!

What will you gain in 2013?

This is what I am using with my students. What changes, gains, or milestones will you reach in 2013? I created this fun worksheet for my own use to list the top 10 things I will gain in 2013. I have added it to the front of my lesson planner as a reminder of my goals for the year. Click on the picture for your free copy. 

So what do I plan to gain in 2013?

So here is my exciting news and the reason I was MIA! 

I moved!!!

Yep...  we are no longer living with family. No more 5 people to a single room! It is amazing how big a two bedroom apartment can feel when you have lost everything but we are so grateful for the family who took us in. Our home has that whole "first apartment feel" but we couldn't be happier. 

So #1 on the list has been achieved!

For me, 2013 is all about rebuilding. A new career, new business opportunities, new furniture, and a healthier lifestyle. I am so excited about the year ahead. What do you have planned? 


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Potato Chip Champ

I am so excited today to share with you Maria Dismondy's new book!!! I have had this guy in my hands now for a month and love it. To tell you the truth, the message hidden within its pages arrived in perfect timing and left me in tears the first time I read it.

Shhhh! Do not tell my boys. 
They will start laughing again!

Isn't this such a cute picture of Maria? I just love it! If you have not met Maria yet, let me introduce you to her. I first met Maria through her blog "Be the Difference." It is an amazing site that focus on character education for parents, teachers, students, and adults! YES, even adults can learn something amazing from Maria. 

Her latest book (her fourth one!) is called The Potato Chip Champ. Its funny... my sons were saying she needed to write a "boy book" and here it is! Maria writes all of her stories based upon her own experiences as a child. Due to this each story feels real. I love this characteristic of the story. 

This story arrived at my house at the perfect time. My sons all had a bad case of the "I wants" (it was Christmas, can you tell?). I have tried so many times to teach them 'the reason for the season' but the "I wants" remained. 

This book did a great job at curing that! The message of empathy, respect, responsibility, integrity, and forgiveness were beautiful woven in between the pages of the story. This book was a home run in my home and the boys each took a turn taking it to school to share with their classmates. 

My sons came home super excited! After reading the story, their class decided to focus on random acts of kindness rather than I wants. They came up with a contest... they would create a paper chain to see which class could do more random acts of kindness by winter break than the other. 

When the other 3rd and 4th grade teachers heard of the competition between 2 brothers and their class. They joined in. So now it is a 3rd vs 4th grade challenge. I am eagerly awaiting the school assembly to see which child won. 

What a great idea. Can you imagine what a difference we can make if we all choose to honor others and focus on our character than the I wants? 

Leave a comment below with how you would use this book in your classroom. I will be randomly drawing a winner for your own signed copy!!!

Thanks Maria for another great lesson!!! I can't wait to read your next book! 


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Moving Freebies

As part of my New Year plan to be more organized, 
I have decided to remove my freebies from TpT & TN 
and move them all to google docs! 


I want it to be easy to access these items in a single click.

It takes a lot of time to upload products to TN & TpT,
this means I can create more.

When I figure out the link to my google docs page,
you will be able to access all of them at one time.
This means you can get more freebies faster!

We all win!

You can read more about this great idea at

Read more about Giant Children and 
its great poetry collection!

I so need to spend some time each month studying
this amazing way to teach!

Speaking of Amazing-ness... 

I have more freebies available but I will share those and their links in another post another day. I hope you enjoy a look at these past blog posts and freebies! 

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