It’s a good day…

To begin blogging again!

Something has been missing lately and I finally figured out what that was-a creative outlet to release my never ending thoughts. So before I start to type every minute detail that has occurred since last year…I will spare you and just start with this:

(After some digging I found out that this gorgeous print is sold on etsy. I may have to hop on over there soon too.)

This is a beautiful quote I happened upon while clicking through Pinterest. I was taken back by how simple the words were but how heavy this sentence left me feeling. This quote is now displayed proudly in my classroom to remind my students (and myself) how our thoughts affect our actions, which affect our whole day.

More to come later…


Final reflections?

So the course of Power Tools in Education has ended, and I am struggling to put my final thoughts into words. Why am I having this road block? Well, after several days of thinking and typing only a few words, I have concluded it’s hard to explain something that just is. For instance, how do you explain a habit or a idiosyncrasy? That’s how I feel about explain how I use some of these technology features in my daily life…it’s hard to explain something that is now a habit. Reading my Pulse RSS feed on my iPad, checking classmates bogs, and even scrounging around the Internet for educational websites…it has become a part of my life.

Not only has this course exposed me to more “teacher friendly technology” such as specific apps like StoryCreator, or websites like Scholastic; it has also provided me with skills that I’ll use in the classroom, like working on an IWB. I’m crossing my fingers that I get to student teach in a classroom with an IWB because I think it not only has great lessons, but it also gets kids engaged and active in their our learning experience. For my own IWB lesson I used SmartExchange. This site has a plethora or SMART lessons to download and then adapt to our own classroom needs.

But additionally, this course provided me with opportunities to learn more about the abundant (and almost underground) Web 2.0 teaching world I had never even imagined that existed! What amazing adventures students and teachers are having with the Flipped Classroom! To think that I could “teach” a virtual lesson and then spend class time on the actual learning experience is so practical, yet is innovative.

All in all, this class really got me jazzed up about using technology in the classroom! I’ve had many of these tools at my fingertips but now I am able to use them in a more productive and educational way….and the best part of all, I WANT to use them more.

Just as Ariel says in her song “Part of Your World”:

I’ve got gadgets and gizmos a-plenty
I’ve got whozits and whatzits galore
You want thingamabobs?
I’ve got twenty!
But who cares?
No big deal
I want more.

I have the tools…but I want more, and I want to use them more.

I guess we will see what happens… 🙂

Education website I love!

For an assignment we had to review a few educational apps/websites. I reviewed the website It’s a FREE website full of educational kids games! I used it in the Autism K-2 self-contained classroom that worked in this past school year. The kids LOVED it, especially when we hooked a computer up to the interactive white board…big screen!!!


Featured in The New York Times App Smart Column, in Disney Family Fun Magazine, and on, this teacher-created website provides a fun and educational space for elementary students. With free online Flash capabilities, students grades K to 5 are invited to play educational and kid-friendly games. Easy to navigate, children can meander through the site, engaging in age-appropriate virtual games and activities. This site is divided by grade levels as well as into categories, Letters, Numbers, More (shapes, Social Studies, Art) and Holidays. Children can play independently on the computer, or join together playing the game on an interactive white board. This is a safe website, does not require a login to play, and can be used even with young students (Kindergarten). Additionally, this website has developed games for the iPad that can be downloaded at a minimal cost.

I would recommend this website for teachers, parents and their kiddos. Teachers can model and enhance lessons, and students can play virtual educational games. Mom or Dad will be happy to know their babies are involved in learning games with age-appropriate content. It is a safe website that you can trust, and feel good knowing your children are learning at the same time.

The only real downside I see is that it does have banner adds which may distract or even lead kids to other websites. Also, you can’t save data or student progress, but it will provide you with a raw score and percentage correct at the end of most games on the screen.

PS….for lower grades, you don’t have to be able to read the directions as many of the games tell you what to do! It’s a nice feature for your students who are young, struggle with reading, or who are even English Language Learners.

I hope you all try it out. Let me know what you think and feel free to share more engaging educational games that you use in your home or classroom.

Let’s make learning fun!

Food for thought

“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is most important.” _Bill Gates

Bill is on to something here… I believe that we, as educators, have a responsibility to use technology as a teaching tool. We must first learn how to use it, then teach our students appropriate ways to use technology in their educational journey.

This quote is very telling to my current endeavors, as I have been working on an IWB (Interactive White Board) lesson for class. We recorded ourselves teaching the IWB lesson to several classmates and are now in the editing phase. It’s a (dare I say, painful) process to watch ourselves on video, but it’s a tremendous opportunity from which to grow. I am seeing how I teach, what I need to change, and what I like. I also am getting a “student’s view” of myself, how I express myself and explain lessons, as well as how I interact with the IWB. Through this experience I was able to download the SMART software on my laptop and dabble in IWB lessons. It’s a bit overwhelming at times because the SMART software seems to provide endless opportunities. I have only begun to learn how to operate and navigate this software, but I am excited to explore more and see what I can create. I look forward to the times in student teaching that I will be able to actively engage students in the lesson by using technology, and the IWB.

Times are changing and technology is transforming the classroom. So long are the days of endless worksheets, copying notes from the chalkboard or overhead projector, or going to the “computer” class elective to play “Oregon Trail”. The availability of technology in the classroom has replaced these antiquated ways of teaching and learning. With this digital evolution, I too must evolve in my own learning and teaching methods, and I feel that this class is a catalyst for such change.


A few weeks ago we did a project on a Web 2.0 tool called infographics.  Before this class, I had never heard this term “infographic”, but to my surprise I did have previous experience with them.  You know those posters on Pinterest that display information beautifully in a poster-like format?  Well, that would be an infographic!  By visually representation data in an organized way, you may display a select amount of information that is aesthetically appealing with a functional purpose.  For this assignment we needed to create an infographic that we would use to help teachers understand how to better communicate with families.  I used piktochart to create mine; a user friendly site that made my infographic possible.  If I create another infographic I would likely use this website again.  I was able to login using my Google email and access my previously saved pieces.  Additionally, I could download my infographic and even link it to the website…..I still need to work on embedding though.

Effective Communication with Families Infographic

Have any of you tried to make infographics before?  What do you think of Piktochart as a infographic website?

A Lego school?

Today is a day off from work, but that doesn’t mean it’s a day off from school work. I started my day off with a quick trip to Starbucks and hunkered down on my iPad to read my RSS feed. (I’m using the “Pulse” RSS app from the Apple App Store…it’s free and very user friendly!) One of my semester long assignments is to create and maintain and RSS feed. I already spend too much time on my computer or iPad so this assignment is actually a great way for me to be more productive…more “bang for my buck”, so to speak, when it comes to the time I spend browsing websites vs using an RSS feed. This app allows me to get all my news, headlines, social networking updates, and even my pop culture fix, in one spot. I also feel like I’m more in tune to the world, because it is so easy to get the news! There is no excuse for not knowing what is going on in our world with an easy to use app such as Pulse.

So one of the stories that caught my eye was this one: Lego school in Denmark

It’s a quick read about a new school Lego is opening in Denmark…no, it’s not to become a Lego builder, but they do claim to be engaging and promote learning through a creative lens. The article says, “The school will emphasize fun, creativity, and “playful engagement” to help make learning more enjoyable, but it will still follow a standard curriculum.” Sounds pretty good to me! I think it’s always beneficial to students when they are engaged and motivated to learn…if the Lego company can promote this idea through a school, even better!

I wonder how they will use creativity and fun to engage the students however. I also wonder if they will incorporate technology with their learning too. I think I’m going to investigate a bit more to see. Have any of you heard of this school? What are your thoughts on playful learning? Do you know of any schools like this that also use learning technology?

Technology: How and why should we use it?

“There can be infinite uses of the computer and of new age technology, but if teachers themselves are not able to bring it into the classroom and make it work, then it fails.” _Nancy Kassebaum

Power Tools for Educators.  This is the name of the class for which I am creating this blog.  So what does it mean?  What are “power tools”?  How can these “power tools” be used in the classroom?  How can technology be a teaching and/or learning resource?  And, why should we as pre-service teachers learn about technology and use it in our classrooms?  These are the questions that I have been wondering about since I signed up for this class.

It has now been two weeks since class has begun, and as I muddle through the readings and online assignments, I have discovered a few answers to my questions. I am starting to understand the term “Power Tools” and all that it entails….techy gadgets and devices, apps, widgets,  RSS feeds, blogs, online portals, digital books, wikispaces, etc.  These are all resources that can enrich the learning experience and bring meaning to content that may otherwise remain matte.  Technology is being used in our graduate course more and more, so I am seeing through example how to incorporate these ideas into my own classroom in the future.  I am exploring, experimenting, discovering, and making mistakes left and right.  Yet, through this class I am learning more about the power tools I can use in my own classroom, how to use them, and the impact that technology’s presence has in the classroom.  I’m trying to keep my head above water learning the content but also about the new language and vocabulary that exists within the technology world.  Although I do not claim to be extremely tech-savvy before this class, I did feel that I was fairly ‘up-to-date’ with technology.  I had a Facebook, a twitter, a Pinterest page, a LinkedIn page, and several gmail addresses…but this is only scratching the surface when it comes to ways I can use technology.

There is so much more to discover:

  • Currently, I am still working on understanding the RSS feed and the things I want to follow.  What do I want to read? Who should I follow?  What can I follow?  There seems to be an infinite number of options, how do I select only a handful?
  • I am learning how to customize this blog.  I’ve had blogs before, but have never had one for academic purposes.  I wonder what should I share?  How much do I share?  What direction do I want my blog to go?  Should I be writing in academic language, or can I express myself with a relaxed style of writing?  Who is my audience?  And even down to the little things….what color font do I want?  Can I remember the CSS and coding I did back in undergrad for my web design class?

Obviously I have more I want to work on, but those are two of my priorities.  I find the internet to be an excellent resource with endless possibilities, but at the same time, it has endless possibilities!

Technology can be extremely inspiring, motivating, and enriching, while at the same time be overwhelming and extremely distracting.  

Through my journey in Power Tools, I hope to find the answers to all of my questions either in class or in my own explorations… More importantly though, I also must try to figure out where the line is between finding the proper resources and learning how to use all their features, and being completely distracted and lost in the deep sea of the World Wide Web and 2.0 Technologies.   Learning how to use it and why to use it, as pre-service teachers, is vital.