Sunday, March 23, 2014

Presenting at CUE 2014

I always love going to the CUE Conference in Palm Springs, but this one stood out from all the rest because I had the opportunity to co-present a workshop with my friend, Sandy Patterson.  In our "iPad Projects for the 21st Century" we highlighted some amazing lessons that Sandy had taught to her 2nd grade students.  We were able to share video clips, apps, and creative ideas to implement technology into the curriculum using Common Core and ISTE Standards.  

If you would like to see the resources from our presentation, you can see them here: irockcommoncore blog.

LUSD teachers and admin attend the CUE Conference 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014 - Information Text at its Best

Have you seen (pronounced "news - ell'- uh") It is a great online resource that can be utilized in classrooms to give students exposure to information text in the form of current events. Teachers can set up a free class account, with each student getting their own user name and password. The Lexile levels of each article can be easily changed, plus there are Common Core type quizzes for some of the articles.  Here is an introduction to Newsela by one of its CEO's.

On a recent visit to Robert C. Fisler School in Fullerton, CA, I saw a teacher using Newsela in a very innovative way.  She got her idea from a blog by Ron Peck where students used Wordle and Animoto to share what is happening in the world in 30 seconds.  I adapted what I saw there to create my own lesson to teach students about Newsela.  Here is what I did in my lesson on a news article called,  "Arctic heat release may be altering paths of hurricanes, other storms."

Here are the steps I used in my lesson:

1. Each student got registered for NewsELA.  (The teacher had already registered the class and got a group code for students to input.)
2. We read a news article about the Arctic heat release and how it affects weather patterns.
3. They copied the text and pasted it into the Tag Cloud app.
4. They created a Word Cloud, and learned that the largest words in their Word Cloud are the ones that show up the most often in the news article, and contain the main ideas.
5.  We read closely, and found the large words from their word cloud in the news article.
6. They filled out a graphic organizer where they added the main words from the article.
7. They summarized the main ideas into short phrases, and wrote them on their graphic organizer.
8.  They used the "Drawing Pad" app to write their title of their movie, and saved to their camera roll. (Some just used the title feature in iMovie, or Animoto.)
9. They used the Drawing Pad app to create the phrases that tell the main ideas of the article.  (The ones we wrote on the graphic organizer.)  Only one idea went on each page.  (Some learned that the hard way).  Some classes I taught this in used Big Words rather than Drawing Pad.)
10. They searched Pics4learning and for weather pictures that would go along with the news article that we read, then saved them to the camera roll.  We needed at least 4 or 5 pictures.  

The next day they took all their media and made a short 30 second (or so) movie using iMovie (or Animoto).  This is what I told them should be in their movie and in this order:

1.  Title (could be over an image, or just a title made in Drawing Pad).  Most liked putting it over an image which looked GREAT!  

2. Their Word Cloud picture 

3.  A weather picture

4.  Powerful words phrase

5.  Picture

6.  Powerful words phrase

7.  Picture

8.  Powerful words phrase

9.  Picture

10. The Word Cloud (same as before)

They learned how to add music from the theme music found in iMovie, and made sure the music matched the type of news article that they reported on.

Here is a student sample from the very first time trying out this process.

Next Steps:
Create a rubric for future Newsela movies.  

Decide how you want to assign the different types of news articles for the next one they do.  Will they choose, or will you assign?  It would be great if they all did different ones (or partner up) so they could become the expert, then share their knowledge with the rest of the class.

I think a poster would help so the class can remember the steps to take when they do this again.

Have you used Newsela?  What other sources do you use to give students access to information text? 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Making Blog Comments - A Haiku Deck for Students

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad Here is a little Haiku Deck I used to help teach students about making blog comments.  I love Haiku Deck!

I love how you can create presentations on your iPad or your computer.  Plus they have copyright friendly images that you can use to enhance your presentations.  Check it out!  Have you used Haiku Deck?

If you would like some more info on creating great blog comments, then check out Mrs. Yollis' 3rd grade website.  She has a couple videos her class created.  

Monday, October 28, 2013

Newspaper Generator

Have you tried out the Newspaper Generator from  I recently discovered it, and think it could certainly find a place in the classroom.  You just go to their website, click on newspaper generator, and start typing.  When you are finished you just click on download, then decide where you want to save it.  It will be saved as a JPG image similar to the one you see above.

The newspaper generator could be used to introduce a new topic to students.  Everything just looks so official when it is in print!  I am going to use my example above in a training I am doing for teachers on iMovie.  I just thought it would be a fun way to introduce the topic.  Can you think of other ways you could use the newspaper generator? 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Instagram for the School District

I am a believer in Instagram!  Not only is it a fun way to document your life with pictures, or to share what is happening in your classroom, but it is also a great way to highlight all of the great things that happen throughout your school district.  Now that I am a Technology Teacher on Special Assignment, I have taken on the responsibility (or should I say fun?) of uploading pictures to our district Instagram page.  You can check out the Lakeside Union School District at "lakesideunion"  on Instagram.

I added a widget to our district website that shows the latest three pictures that were uploaded to our Instagram site.  If you are interested in doing the same, check out "Snap Widget."  If you add the free  widget to your website or blog, there will be adds on your page.  I decided the ads had to go, so I emailed the company and was pleasantly surprised when they offered me a nice discount.  You can even try it out for no cost at all to see if you like it. 

Are you using Instagram in an educational setting?  If so, please share, and don't forget to follow us at "LakesideUnion."

Friday, September 27, 2013

A New Endeavor

The new school year has been in session almost a month now, and I miss the students!  Don't get me wrong, I love my new position as a Teacher on Special Assignment in Technology, or as our superintendent calls me, a Transformation Coach.  I am to help transform teaching and learning in Lakeside.  That is a big task!

On Tuesday night of this week at Lindo Park School (where I have taught for 20 years) parents gathered in classrooms for Back to School Night, and I was home.  I had mixed feelings as I visualized what the classrooms looked like with excited (and some nervous parents. I missed meeting the parents of my new students, I missed the visits from former students who dropped by with their siblings, and I missed the excitement of getting the room and presentation ready.

Even though I am not working with the students everyday, I still have an opportunity to make a difference in their education, by teaching their teachers.  I will train teachers in my new Transformation Classroom where they will be released from class to come learn integrate technology into their curriculum in 21st century ways.  I get to attend meetings and network with others in my field, such as at the meeting at the San Diego County Office of Education on Monday, or the meeting at National University on Thursday.  I get to train teachers how to implement the digital portion of our new Language Arts curriculum (Wonders), and I get to edit our district website "" and train all the site editors) , plus educate staff personnel on how to sign up to view our district's Instagram site. (Search for "lakesideunion?")

Yes, I will miss the students, but am still very excited about my new position as a Transformation Coach at the Lakeside Union School District.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Creating QR Codes with Just One Click

Do you want to know a quick and easy way ever to create QR codes?  By going to this website you will see just how easy it is.  Just click on the QR Coder and drag the button onto the Bookmarks Toolbar on your browser.  When you click the button it will create a QR code of the page you're visiting.  Then just copy the QR Code and paste it wherever you want it to go.  Voila!  You can even highlight text on a page and the button will then create a QR code based just on that text.  

If you can't see your Bookmarks Toolbar, then go to your web browser such as Firefox or Safari, click on Bookmarks, then Bookmarks Toolbar.  (In Safari it is called the Bookmarks Bar).

Here is what my Bookmarks Toolbar looks like:

Now when I need a QR code I just click on QR Coder, and a QR code is immediately generated.  (Kind of like clicking on "Pin It" when you want something to go to Pinterest.)  Try it out!  How do you use QR codes in your classroom?