Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My Age is 27 B.G. (Before Google)

I am not paid to write about any fabulous tool provided by Google.  As an educator, I would be remiss if I did not sing the praises of all things Google.  It's a Google World people, and we simply bounce around in it.

In preparing for a Google Tools workshop I will be conducting, I found a tool that I showed to my friend and guru, Angie Urling (the man REALLY knows your name now.)  I tried to get my other go to girl Rachel to elaborate as to the effectiveness of this tool, to no avail.  Angie had never heard of it, so I thought maybe I should blog about it.

It is called Google Scholar.  Formerly a Title 1 slave, I was forever looking for research that I could expertly present in our Title 1 Plan that would provide research-based, proven initiatives in our quest for AYP.   Sloshing through all of the NON research-based articles got to be a pain in the neck.  However, Google Scholar eliminated that problem for me.

In Google Scholar's ADVANCED SEARCH, I found a screen that rivaled the ERIK system that I used in college.  Ahhh Google, you never cease to amaze me.  I could sit and tell you all about Google Scholar, but what need this tool satisfies for you might be completely different from my needs.  So go and check it out!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Why Pay for it when it is FREE!!!

Does your county pay for Edline for the high schools but not for the elementary schools?

Elementary schools... now is the time to show that we, too are viable users of quality internet!  You can have all of the services of Edline.. but for FREE!!

It is called Hotchalk.  Free services allows you to choose your school, set up a classroom, and allow parents to know what is going on.  You can post messages to parents, post assignments, allow parents to see their child in a gradebook, etc.  Why pay for it when you can get it free???

I actually laughed out loud!

I saw the original Tom Cruise video.. and was sickened by his hubris.  However, I can actually watch his video now and love it.  PLEASE WATCH IT!!!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Zam slammed... But here is a new one.

The last couple of times I have tried to use zamzar to download a video from youtube, my failure rate has been at 100%.

However, seems to do the trick.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Oldie but Goody

Situation:  I prepare and execute all media shows during my church service.  The pastor emails his notes and scripture to me, and I create a visual presentation that I run during the pastor's sermon.  In addition, I must type in all songs so that they are flashed on the screen during the hymn, eliminating SOME of the need of hymnals.  Much of this has to be done in advance, because it takes time to find pictures or backgrounds that lend themselves to the sermon at hand. 

Problem: Transferring what I have created from my home computer to the church computer.  The computer at the church is an older model where USB ports are not easily accessible.  There have been times when I have wanted to import video clips, making files too large for the use of Google.

Solution:  I found an online storage place called X-Drive.  I log in to X-drive, upload whatever file I want (I get 5 gigs free of storage) and then download it from the net when I get to church that morning.  Problem solved!

If you need an online area to store large files (such as movie clips, sounds, multi-media presentations, etc, then I suggest you get a FREE X-drive account!

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Wolf Got A Bad Rap!

Of course, anyone who is familiar with the fractured fairy tales knows that traditional children's stories are told from a different point of view. This will be important to remember in a few moments.


A student told me about a website full of games called  While he was showing me the site, he wanted to impress me with his deflike skills, choosing Anti Pacman as a demonstration game.  We were left a little to the imagination because the directions were not self evident (at least not from my viewpoint from above), but we were quickly able to realize that you controlled using the direction keys, and toggling between by using numbers 1, 2, and 3 on the top line.  The coolest thing about this game?  You are the GHOST... and you gotta keep that pesky rodent from eating everything on your board before you eliminate him.  It's a fractured arcade game!

Try it out!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Our very first PSA

We have a group of fourth graders that have an advanced expertise of bullying.  Call it first hand knowledge.  So we had them create and film a public service annoucement that I edited and put on the web.

You can see it here.

We bought a Sony Handycam and I finally got the usb to transfer video.. but I am not in love with the resolution.  Anyone have any ideas?  A firewire purchased from walmart won't hardly stay connected and I literally have to sit and shove it into the computer to keep it connected and to allow it to transfer video.  I would appreciate ANY suggestions!!!

Keeping Ornery Hands Busy!

The first round of teacher webpages were completed by my three LOVELY gentlemen that I have to test for our high stakes testing.  They are always very good for me, but they tend to get into trouble with other teachers.

Please click on our STAFF page and check out Mrs. Peery's page, Mrs. Sammon's Page, and Mrs. Alvis' page.  You can look at Mrs. Chaffins, but I had a major hand in finishing hers.

So how did the boys do? I know there are some typos that I need to fix... but they got to choose the gadgets at the bottom of the page for the teacher they created the page for.  Do you like?

MicroPoll : Discipline is best delivered...

Find out what people REALLY think... for free!

In perusing another site, I found Micropoll.  With Micropoll, you can create your own free poll and post it on any site you are webmaster.


Cast Your Vote! Did I mention that I am totally impressed?

Little did I know that our very own TV station jumpstarted high school students into filmmaking!

WVVA asked for each high school to submit a PSA on The Pitfalls of Drinking and Driving.  They have posted each local high school's submission and are taking votes for the best one.

Please watch and vote!

Time is not on my side... no it's not... x 3

I have tried in vain to get teachers to embrace the idea of using the net as a way to communicate with their parents.  Not only could they eliminate the barage of phone disturbrances..err I mean calls during their planning by simply reading parent email and responding when they felt necessary, but they could save many trees by posting their homework assignments on their page (since they already have it in a typed form anyway).  It's hard to hear screaming in a written form, do you know what I am saying?  (please enunciate that last part very clearly.)

A completely separate situation that I encounter is every child, whether of a well behaved variety or otherwise, begs to come to spend time with me in the slim hopes that they can get extra computer time.  Whether teachers like it or not (and most times not), kids are fascinated with technology.  They are not the least bit afraid of delving right in and mastering any digital form.  I was amazed at the number of kids in my school who maintain (albeit loosely) myspace pages.  Did I like that? Not really, but it was the act of maneuvering in an unknown territory that excited me. 

My third issue is my ingrained belief that discipline should be proactive instead of reactive.  I am from the school of positive behavior support instead of reactive screaming unhappiness.  Call me the deal maker if you will.  If I can use technology to lure poorly behaved children from the dark side into manageable, productive students in a classroom with the promise of more technology utilization, so be it.  Let me catch them being good instead of focusing on the bad.  I am TIRED of the most well recognized student being the student who misbehaves the most!!!  (I have a vested interest in this because my son often gets overshadowed in school because he happens to be very well behaved.)

So with all of these issues swirling in my head, I decided to act.  We maintain a school google account because we use several of google features on our webpage.  (It helps me get other people besides me involved in the webmastering process without actually having to have a big technological background.)  I am starting with the three LOVELY gentlemen that I have to test for WESTEST and we are going to build three teacher's webpages through google pages.  I will then link these three teacher pages to our main school site.  After initial setup, I am going to get homework sheets each week and allow these boys (behavior permitting) to design and develop the page for that week.  My goal is to maintain a page for EVERY teacher in the building, with one student assigned per teacher.  It will be the responsibility of the student to get the necessary info from the teacher (i.e. homework sheet) to type into their webpage.  The only work I will be responsible for doing is typing in the password to allow that child to get into their page (I am not THAT ignorant!!!)  and evaluating before posting.

Any thoughts on this idea?  Anyone run into pitfalls trying this out?  I will document my process as this goes on.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Virtual Keyboard WASHOUT

My county purchased 100 numonics boards to put in Title 1 classrooms, for which I am eternally grateful.  Anyone who has ever gotten one of those boards knows that the virtual keyboard is a pain in the behind to get to work.  Very often, the teacher ends up walking back and forth from the cart to the board to do their bidding.

NO LONGER is that necessary MY FRIENDS!!!

If you go to START..
Make sure you are in CATEGORY VIEW (not classic view)
On the left hand menu you will see ON SCREEN KEYBOARD - click on it



Also, if you get a wild hair up the hiney and click on MAGNIFIER, it makes the whole screen bigger!  It is the ZOOM without the board!

Friday, May 9, 2008

You were always on my mind... You were always on my mind.

What is this.. a math extravaganza?  Is Math all I have on my mind today??  I found this site that might be good for algebra teachers to peruse.

ALGEBRA by COOLMATH  has lessons about algebraic concepts that might be just what some students need to finally grasp solving for the unknown!  Ok, I know algebra is much more than just solving the unknown...  so maybe I need to visit coolmath's algebra section to brush up!

If I had only known...

If I had only known more about finance, maybe my stupid retirement would not be in such dire shape.  If a teacher would have taught me a little about WORLDLY math in addition to just geometry, I might be a richer woman today.

Finance Freak is a site that teachers can use with their students to teach them the concepts of real world math.  Let's educate our kids about their finances, since nobody bothered to teach their parents anything about it!  When I saw Jim Cramer's site on it, I knew it had to be good.

Beyond the three R's

We are inundated with reading and math interventions in both a book and virtual world.   I guarantee every training that is offered by a county gears at one of these two subject areas, as they count on the holy grail of high stakes testing.   Where does that leave our science and social studies teachers?  Who is fighting the good fight in their honor?

I found a site, albeit small, by accident that provides a little nourishment for those science teachers wanting to ascend into technology integration within their classroom.

SCIENCE MONSTER allows advertisers to pay for the content so that you do not have to (via subscription.)  MUSIC TO MY EARS!  Check it out!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Opinions are like .......... everyone has one!

I am the webmaster for my school website.  I try to update it often, because it takes me very little time to make it happen and no one is going to end up wading through stagnant water (so to speak.)  I found this really cool site called Toluna, and if you check it out you realize it allows you to create one question polls that you can post on any site you author.  All it takes is a simple registration, and in moments you can have students comment on a topic that you can turn into a class discussion.

You can see the polls that are currently displayed on our NEWS page of our website.  Take a moment to vote and see what happens when you do!  If you click on opinions or results at the bottom, you can see a breakdown of the demographics of voters.  How sick is that??

Monday, May 5, 2008

State Social Studies Fair Winners!

Want to see if your county had any students place at the State Social Studies Fair?

State Social Studies Winners Listed by County


Official WV Social Studies Fair Site

Did you know we are the only state to have a statewide Social Studies Fair Competition?

More on Acuity

From what I had received in email, there will be someone in charge of heading up Acuity at the state department level.  My understanding is that Acuity is the new iKnow.  The webinar being held is from the Acuity site - not from the state dept head.  When I find out more information I will try to answer the questions.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Since I am preferential to my blog readers...

I am giving you a heads up.

No longer is iKnow the way to go.  We are heading into the Acuity Promised Land, and I like to be in the know before I have someone who halfway knows what they are doing try to teach me something to bore me.  In addition to which, I am not sure how people above me on the food chain feel, but I like to hit the ground running!  I begin my prep work DAY ONE... getting my teachers ready, spacing out our training so that they are providing the best tools to help educate our kids.  The new westest is coming next year whether we like it or not.  Why not have the Acuity program in place in the beginning? 


They are having a webinar on May 22 to present information about Acuity.  I am signed up for it, and I am giving you a heads up so that you can be prepared.

That way.. we can say to the makers of WESTEST 2. .... BRING IT ON!

Idle Hands Are The Devil's Workshop

I have the program Adobe Photoshop that was purchased along with Adobe Premier by the leaders of our inaugural TIS group where I met my BFF's.  I never even opened it, but recently dug it out of a box so that I could see if Photoshop was as cool as Premier. (I used Premier all of the time.)  Well thanks to the art of the magic lasso and MAG MY PIC, I am rearranging my favorite photos and then applying them to magazine covers.

It is so easy, anyone could do it!  Here is my latest creation...



Special Thanks to the folks at Disney Pictures for producing this swashbuckling feature!

TIS' ya bettah listen!

The state department just informed all new TIS of a new wiki that details what you must do to go through the renewal process for your certification.

Remember - you have to be in a technology related position in order to apply for the renewal.


Also.. if you are worried that they might not approve a training you are attending, please fill out Elective Study Request form and email Vicki Allen to find out who you should submit the form to for approval.

Form 30 is on the wiki.  All information that you need will be on there as well.  Good luck!