I'm very excited to announce that I have been selected as a winner in Kaplan's First Year Teacher eBook contest. Among the submissions entered, mine was chosen as one of the top three, making me the recipient of a (guaranteed-not-to-go-to-waste) $50 Amazon gift card.
The press release is located HERE:
And, the book will be available for FREE beginning Monday, May 14th on Amazon. It will also be free during the month of May on the Apple iTunes store, in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week.
It's no secret that I absolutely LOVE Screenr. And why not? The more I think about it, the more uses I come up with for Screenr in the classroom. One of my favorite uses is to create technology tutorials for my students to watch in the computer lab, eliminating some of the time I usually spend answering questions about page margins and inserting headers or footers. But, I've also begun to think of Screenr as a great tool for using with the IPEVO p2v document camera (which doesn't record on its own). Recently, I "played" with Screenr to see how well it would work for creating stop motion animation videos. You can see the results embedded below and--while my first attempt is far from perfection--it definitely shows potential. To create this video, I used clipart and a background from Smart Notebook software. I think that, given more time and a little more practice, this could become a great alternative to more expensive stop animation software programs. What do you think? Please feel free to comment on how you could use Screenr in the classroom.
For those of you who may be interested in National Board Certification and becoming a Master Teacher, I have recently applied for certification and will be going through the process during the 2012-2013 school year. I have set up a new section on my website devoted exclusively to tracking my journey. You can read all about it HERE. Feel free to send me a message if you would like to share your own NBPTS experience.
SMORE is a new online program that allows you to design dynamic online newsletters for free. (ah, free! one of my favorite words, especially when it comes to education!) Right now, you have to request membership and wait to be approved before you can use Smore, but it is well worth the wait! Although Smore bills itself as a tool for creating flyers, it could be used to create any sort of web document; this would be an excellent site for creating a classroom webpage or a class/school newsletter. The themes are beautiful and simple, giving the pages a clean and modern look. Editing content is as easy as using Power Point, so even the web novice would be able to build online documents with ease. More experienced with building web pages? Try spicing up your newsletter by embedding pictures, links, or videos. Another great feature is that viewers can leave comments on the newsletter through Facebook, creating real-time feedback from viewers.
NOTE: I'm currently using Smore to build the newsletter for the members of my local chapter of the National Writing Project. You can view my document HERE.
MakeBeliefComix is a great website for creating comics and discovering writing prompts. This site offers tons of free black-and-white printables that can be photocopied and colored (using markers and crayons saves printer ink!). You can also generate your own original comic strips by choosing from their existing selection of characters, objects and speech bubbles. Another great feature are the Digital Writeables, which allow visitors to complete a comic by typing in their text and printing. One wonderful addition that sets this website apart from others is that it features a section for students with special needs, explaining how this site can be used to help all learners express their thoughts. There is also another great section for educators that gives tips on how to use comics in the classroom.
It seems that the latest social networking website taking the Internet by storm is Pinterest. Pinterest is an "online pinboard" that lets you "organize and share things you love." The majority of my friends are currently using Pinterest to share decorating ideas and do-it-yourself project ideas. Of course, I do enjoy pinning pictures of nostalgia-inspiring 80s pop culture, but I also recognize the educational potential of Pinterest. It's a great way to collect pictures of classroom projects, to share helpful websites with others, or showcase student projects to a wide audience. You could even have students create pin boards of websites or news articles for research. Or create a pin board of recommended reading as a class. the possibilities are endless.
Unlike the rest of my posts on this blog, this entry has absolutely nothing to do with technology. But, everybody needs a break every now and then, right? Sometimes I feel techy; sometimes I feel artsy! If you want to see what happens when I'm feeling particularly inspired to create some English-teacher-art--including my Edgar Allan Poe cabinet and my Harry Potter sorting hat--visit my creative page (still on the Me and My Laptop website) HERE. And I'll keep adding to it... y' know, when I feel artsy.
I just recently discovered GoodReads after receiving a Kindle Fire for Christmas. This is a great website for the reader who wants to know what to read next. After signing up for a free account, the website prompts members to rate books that they have previously read, and then uses these ratings to create customized suggestions. You can also share what books you are currently reading, create a list of books that you want to read, and view what your friends are reading. Read reviews from other GoodReads members, get information on popular new releases, view events in your area, take a trivia quiz, or join a group. This is a great networking and research tool for the book-lover, the casual reader, or the reluctant reader who has trouble finding the right book.
By visiting Scholastic Scope online, viewers have access to tons of free resources, including PDF files of stories and readers' theater pieces, vocabulary and grammar worksheets, ACT-style quizzes, essay writing prompts, and much much more! I'm truly amazed that there is no log-in required to view these materials. There is even information regarding how the materials align with the Common Core State Standards. According to the website, these materials will be password-protected in the future, so visit their website and save these files while it's free! I plan on using many of the resources (my school has a subscription, so I will be able to access information even after it is password-protected); I'm particularly interested in the readers' theater pieces because they are a great way to expand students' background knowledge regarding literary masterpieces.
I was first introduced to Energizing Brain Breaks at a workshop run by my local ROE focused on implementing the Common Core Standards. One suggestion for breaking up the monotony of classroom instruction--while simultaneously providing some cerebral stimulation--was the idea of giving students "brain breaks." Brain breaks are a wonderful activity for kinesthetic learners--or really anyone who doesn't like sitting for an entire class period. They also create a mental challenge for students. Specifically, these brain breaks are intended to "cross the mid-line of your body which helps both sides of your brain engage." You can purchase the Energizing Brain Breaks books and DVDs on the official website--my local ROE bought several copies to give away to teachers at the CCSS workshops and I snagged an extra from my principal. Several of these brain breaks can also be viewed completely free on David Sladkey's YouTube channel. (Kuddos to Mr. Sladkey for creating and sharing this fabulous resource with educators everywhere!)
For individuals interested in buying Sladkey's book or DVD, prices as of 12-29-11 are listed at $14.95 for the book, $11.95 for the DVD, or $21.95 for both items, with 50% of the proceeds benefiting Rise International, an organization which helps to build schools in Africa. (Spend a little AND help a little: it's a win-win, right?)
Dr. Jessica Pilgreen, Ed.D.