making Educational Technology a breeze... sharing a love for technology with other educators!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Our Very Hungry Caterpillars

I love using Animoto with my younger students. They create wonderful pictures on a theme that we are studying and through this cool website, their work becomes an award-winning movie (well in our minds anyway)!
Animoto allows you to select a theme, upload pictures, add text, choose music--and in a flash a video is produced. My kids all think it's  magic and you know, in a way it is!
Check out my 2nd grade's latest creation - a take on Eric Carle's Very Hungry Caterpillar:
 Our Very Hungry Caterpillars

Saturday, June 23, 2012

EDMODO - Not Just a Great Place to Network...

I discovered Edmodo about a year ago through a workshop I attended. It has been a fantastic addition to my Professional Learning Network (PLN) and a great source for ideas and solutions.  According to Edmodo, they "provide teachers and students a secure place to connect and collaborate," reaching over 7 million educators and students globally.  But it is just so much more.
I have used it to connect with communities I am interested in as well as join groups that are formed for more fine-tuned specialties. You can create groups (public or private) and share resources via a library, create polls, quizzes, assignments, notes, alerts, and more.
It is a great way to teach with Social Media for your students: facilitating discussions, feedback through polls, or using assignments and grading on the go.  Edmodo is web based and offers mobile apps so everyone can access the site. A plus for students!  My colleagues test drove it in our middle school classes this year and the response was positive--and the kids loved it!

Following that success, we decided to change our school PLN to the site to facilitate more sharing among our teachers. We used the last part of our faculty meeting to get everyone into the computer lab to sign up and into our Group. So far it has been a place where idea and resource sharing is building!
Safe Surfing!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Social Learning Summit!

April 21, 2012 -- Join the partnership this year between Discovery Education and Classroom 2.0 as they present a day of learning -- The Social Learning Summit -- a worldwide one-day free virtual conference! The theme this year is the use of Social Media and Web 2.0 in teaching and learning. Come join the fun (and learning)! The conference URL is

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Looking like a Movie Producer was never easier!

I have been using a digital storytelling website in my classroom for the last year that I absolutely ADORE!  It's fast and easy and makes me (and my students) look like a movie-making genius (ok so the secret is out). The site,, is fantastic for creating all types of wonderful videos with a plethora of themes.  It's as simple as uploading pictures/images & sorting them, choosing a theme, choosing music, and pushing a button! Animoto takes care of the rest. Within a few minutes, the video is finished and ready to download or share.
Last month, I had my 2nd grade illustrate the parts of the Lifecycle of a Butterfly in MS Paint. I saved the drawings as jpg files and uploaded them to Animoto. We picked a theme (sky and clouds) and a song "Elusive Butterfly" by Geoff Byrd - and let Animoto do its magic. The students, teachers, and parents were thrilled.
Recently, I did the same as they drew different scenes from the Nativity story (music by Steven Curtis Chapman -- O Little Town Of Bethelehem). It was beautiful. Check it out.
Animoto offers several pricing plans from Lite (free/limited) to professional, but educators can apply for a free Animoto Plus account for use in the classroom.  It's     worth it whatever plan you choose !

Saturday, October 22, 2011

SYMBALOO - a great visual website bookmarking & sharing site

I love sharing websites finds with my colleagues! Most of the online resources that I have used for sharing or bookmarking my favorite websites have been linear tools that I can put into a category--not always user friendly for the people I share with regularly. Recently at a workshop (NJAET) I was introduced to a visual bookmarking and sharing site called Symbaloo. It is wonderful - as I am a visual person - I can organize my sites by color tiles all at a glance.
The best part is that I can also share my "webmixes" with others through a simple link. I even used a "webmix" for a recent Professional Development workshop on literacy and technology. (Click here to check it out: Casey PD)
My tiles are tabbed and include educational technology websites, classroom links, and professional resources. And again, they're all in one place -- easily editable and organizable! You can also access from any computer -- simply log in on any device with internet access.

Like any of the new Web 2.0 tools, there seems to be several levels that offer different accessibility. The SymbalooEdu site has a free version, as well as various subscription options -- obviously with added features as the price goes up.  So far I have been fine with the free version. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

ISTE 2011 - Final Day !

Now it’s time to say goodbye…

Well, the conference is finally over – I am tired and my brain is full! What a great way to start my summer break.  Philadelphia was showcasing all that is good about it this week. We learned so much, took in some local sites, sounds, and food, and made some new friends… I am the eternal student!
Today we started early with a workshop on Copyright Clarity-Using Copyrighted Material for Digital Learners with Renee Hobbs (founder of Media Education Lab at Temple University). I admit, this was most interesting for me since I am hyper aware of what I am teaching the kids on how to use digital media. I felt so free after this session--there is so much mis-information out there about use of digital media, not only in the classroom, but in general.  

After absorbing all we could about Copyright law, Marcie and I headed over to a Promethean session on Partner Created Resources.  One of the sites we visited was MyVocabulary – a great interactive site dedicated to building vocabulary skills, as well as VocabularyCity—both free resource sites that work really well with interactive boards.  We also visited the Georgia Aquarium—there’s so much out there!
We took a few minutes to tool around the Exhibit Hall to visit with some of our favorite vendors and... 

Back to work…next up was a very interesting and enlightening session: “Yeah, But…Answering Top 10 Arguments Against Change.”  The presenters were authors of a book called Personal Learning Networks: Using the Power of Connections to Transform Education, Will Richardson and Rob Mancabelli.

The session focused on the changes we face moving into the 21st Century classroom and the reasons why people are resistant to those changes—and more importantly how to overcome the “yeah, but” response.  The audience used FluidSurveys (an online instant feedback response site) to report the major reasons that people give for why —Time (lack of it), Tradition (we’ve always done it this way), and Fear (teachers don’t want to their students to know what they don’t know) were leaders n the list. 

This was an eye opening session! I hope to bring the strategy back to my colleagues (and maybe use it as a possible tool for planning some personal goals) when we meet again.
We also forgot to mention another workshop—Math 2.0: Scenes from a Dynamic math Classroom. Ihor Charischak, the moderator, said that math must be engaging to be successful. “It must be a ‘Wanna Do curriculum, instead of Hafta Do,’ where teachers create a dynamic classroom.  He noted that in order for that to happen, teachers must move from drill and practice to a Math 2.0 model. Once again, we heard the theme for multimedia textbooks and the use of Cloud resources – creating a collaborative environment that is based on the standards.  Some of the resources he demonstrated were Geogbra, GoogleDocs, Sketchpad (for drawing shapes and measuring angles, and Greenglobs (for x,y coordinates and graphing equations).  

He focused on interactive projects that connect math with tech integration and collaboration (another big buzz word). A shout out to Marcie as the Stock Exchange game was one of the tools mentioned—also a Traveler Activity (used on the audience) and a Shopping Spree activity which used spread sheets.  

All in all, the conference seemed to have a connecting thread—interactivity, global awareness and connection for our students. And more than once we heard the importance of FUN being part of the successful learning environment. 

Well, it's time to rest, and to disseminate all the great information now that we’ve said goodbye to ISTE2011! We hope you will check out some of the links provided and offer some feedback.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

ISTE2011 - Another Great Day !

Greetings All! Day 3

Marcie has summed it up pretty well so I thought I'd let her take the lead (since I am very very tired right now & my brain is full). I will add comments along the way.../suzanne

Well another great day at the ISTE's a little bit overwhelming...actually a lot overwhelming but so useful.
Biggest thing I think we realized today is that we need to get rid of our textbooks (eventually anyway... ok maybe not math) but SS and Science are completely moving online now and they are soooo interactive! and no these aren't just the kind of textbooks you just read online, they are completely interactive so you are appealing to all your VARK (visual, auditory, read and write, kinesthetic) learners, (how's that for differentiation!) (I totally agree-these new interactive "tech books" encompass an exciting way to bring plain old text to life./smc) This was a funny video that hit home with Suzanne and me! (very funny/smc)
Joe's Non-Notebook
Our kids today need interactivity to learn, they need multimedia textbooks that they can interact with to learn. ..oh yeah and we need more laptops to do it...but that's another issue! LOL (maybe netbooks, too/smc)

Anyway we attended a seminar today that explained the brain and how engaged learners (today's digital native kids) learn more when they are having fun. It is proven research. If we create lessons that are fun, collaborative, and appealing, they learn more...that's all there is to it. (we also were given statistics on the attention span of varying age groups in relation to lectures...a hint: not very long- so kids & adults are checking out much faster than we know/smc)
This video is a good case in point. So funny! Fun Theory

We also learned about the importance of global connectivity! There were several schools on a panel for a seminar that we attended who are not only connecting (via skype) with schools from other countries to discuss topics, but they are sharing blogs and doing projects together. It is awesome. One of the panelists was a principal who assigns countries to each of her grades and they search for teachers and schools to skype with...(i.e. 1st grade Germany, 2nd Grade Australia, etc) There was another panelist, Kathy Cassidy, who is a first grade teacher (hear that lower grades, we know some of you were wondering about this) and has a blog for each of her students. You can find it at KathyCassidyBlog . The kids post pictures they've drawn and other kids from all around the world in fact comment on them. The blogs are so cute because the kids still use their creative spelling. (This was my favorite and most energizing workshop for ideas of the day/smc)

They all said the best way to work with parents is to communicate right up front early in the school year that this is what you intend to do and most of them will get on board. She avoids last names and putting names with pictures, but other than that she uses everything, photos, video, etc! But to be honest...all the talk at the convention lately is that we all worry too much about internet safety and that it is getting in the way of real student learning! One of the speakers told us to review the Child Internet Protection Act (CIPA) which can be found here. (There is also a great article in the Learning & Leading magazine this month regarding the debate over using real names over pseudonyms so children learn to take responsibility for what they write...hmmm, interesting. /smc)

Great day!!!!! Tomorrow it's all over!
Marcie and Suzanne