Like Pixie 2? Try Wixie!

This is for all my students!

Great new opportunity out there for you to try at home.  Right now you can try it for free.  It’s called Wixie and it’s just like Pixie 2 that we use at school but it is an online version.  That’s right you can use it right on your Internet Browser without downloading anything to your computer. It has some new things too!  Like when you click on the paintbrush/pencil tool you can select to draw with a Crayon, Paintbrush or SprayCan.

Click the link below to try Wixie TODAY!

Parents to learn more about Wixie, read all about it on Tech4Learning’s website

Reflections from MSET 2010

So I’ve been absent from the blogging world since last summer.  I have been knee deep in several projects that have demanded my full attention this fall and into this spring.  The first project being finishing up my masters.  Graduation is set for this coming Saturday, May 15th and I can’t wait to get my diploma and walk the stage.  I am a soon-to-be-graduate of Loyola University with a Masters in Educational Technology.  Another project I have had in the works is becoming a mom and starting a family with my husband.  We are excited to welcome our little one to the world later this summer.  Both projects have kept me busy, exhausted, and with very little free time on my hands for blogging and other self-indulges like reading a book for pleasure.

So, now I’m back.  Hopefully for good!  Only time will tell.  =)

On Friday April 30th, I attended the MSET, formerly MICCA, conference at the Baltimore Convention Center.  This is my third time attending and I felt like an old pro as I was able to quickly and effectively park my car (for only $8 for the day I might add), take the covered walkway over to the Convention center and get checked in.  I had already taken a look at the sessions on the MSET website so I had a pretty good idea what I wanted to attend.

Unfortunately because the conference was held on a Friday and a Saturday I was only able to attend Friday.  The keynote on Friday was disappointing to me.  I thought I would enjoy it much more as Dr. Zhao was speaking to the difference between American education and other Asian countries.  The focus seemed to be more on high school education reform and less on elementary school.  The room was standing room only so after standing for a little bit and not getting much out of it, I ended up retreating to the lobby and gearing up for my sessions.  Below is a run down of what I did next:

Session 1:  Tech4Learning Booth – This year I didn’t present for Tech4Learning, but I spent some time helping Scott Loomis out at the Tech4Learning booth.  He had some great new examples that he was sharing with fellow teachers on some of the new and exciting things that can be done with Pixie.  One of them was making mini-books.  I was so excited by it that I just this week used the template he shared to make my 4th graders Geometry projects into a mini book.  I also got to see first hand a little of the workings of Frames.  I have a copy that I received from Scott last year but have never used loaded it onto my computer.  After seeing some of the options, I may have to remedy that situation.  =)

Session 2:  50 NEW ways to use Discovery Education – This session was packed with information.  So much that we didn’t even get through all 50 ways!  During this session we started to see the limitations of the wireless network at MSET.  It was awful for presenters that spent so much time creating web-based presentations and then had to stand there and struggle when the Internet was not cooperating.  Matt Monjan from Discovery Education did a great job powering through though!  Kudos to him!  My 3 favorites were: 1.  Using images in conjunction with Blabberize.  Students can write stories from the perspective of the person, thing, or place and have their picture come alive with a moving mouth created through Blabberize.  2.  Recording your own narration for video segments.  This is great for lower level students.  You can easily pull editable clips into iMovie and rerecord your own narration.  Use different vocabulary.  Make it serious, make it silly, it’s up to you! and 3.  I loved the songs that are now included within Discovery Education.  Lots of great songs that can be downloaded and then added into PowerPoint or other applications for use with students.  He showed us an example of counting by 12’s.  =)  If you want to see more of the great new ways, you can download the presentation.

Lunch – I had a great lunch of crab cake and pub fries at a restaurant across the street with Laura Hook, a tech teacher from Lisbon, and Debbie Tarash, the media specialist from Guilford.  We enjoyed being outside on their back patio in the sunshine.  Most of the conversation had nothing to do with school or technology however there was some work thrown in here and there.

Poster Session Perusal –  I had an opportunity to see a few of the poster sessions.  Most of the poster sessions were awarded grants of $700 to fund part or all of their project.  I really enjoyed seeing Lorraine Quinn, tech teacher from Bellows Spring and her Lego Robotics demonstration. Definately got my “gears” thinking about next year.

Session 3: Using VoiceThread to Inspire Conversation Beyond the Classroom –  This session was probably the most disappointing to me.  I really wanted to walk away with some samples that I could view later on and spark my imagination.  Unfortunately due to lack of Internet we spent too much time getting logged in and little to no time actually seeing some examples.  I did however, start to reflect on how I could incorporate VoiceThread into my lessons.  The more I thought about it the more it fit with my 4th graders.  Since writing and communication are high on the priority list in that grade, I think that the potential of VoiceThread will offer these students the greatest benefits.

Session 4:  Internet Safety:  Don’t Preach, Empower – This session was offered by someone from the Archdiocese, so needless to say it was very religious in nature.  Not to mention she started off her presentation by telling the audience that she her employment with her employer was terminated that morning.  The links she offered were some old favorites and a few new ones that I have enjoyed exploring more independently.  I posted the links on my page.

All in all I found this years MSET conference to be productive, dispite the disappointments and I learned some new and exciting things that I’m eager to share on my Web 2.0 blog and with my students.  After my last graduate class with it’s differing opinions and views of technology in education, I needed the MSET conference to get me motivated and energized for my job.  But with only 6 more weeks with students I doubt I will get all of my ideas accomplished but plans are definitely in the works for next school year!

NECC 2009

Well I made it to NECC! (National Educational Computing Conference)  Usually riding the metro into DC for the day doesn’t bother me, but today with the tragedy on the Red Line last week, I have to admit I was a little on edge as I boarded my train.  But I got here safely, checked in, registered for some Bring Your Own Laptop (BYOL) sessions,  and got my bag of goodies.

The first thing I did was find a quiet table and start to devour the schedule.  There is just so much to see and do in the next four days, that I’m finding myself moderately overwhelmed.  This conference really is HUGE! The Program Guide itself is just shy of 200 pages!!!

I have decided to focus on Digital Storytelling, Digital Citizenship and Professional Development of Staff as my three big ideas, so most of my sessions I have selected speak to that focus.  The session I’m most looking forward to is my BYOL session on Monday titled “Building a Digital Story in an Hour”.  I figure if I can build a digital story in an hour, fifth graders can build one too right?

I hope I can soak it all up and gather some exciting new ideas, insight, and fun gadgets that can be used to improve my use of technology in my classroom along with the learning of my students.  I’m sure by Wednesday afternoon I will be eager for the fall so I can start to integrate some of the new things I learned with my students.

Internet Safety and Cyberbullying Workshop

Children in grades three through five participated in an Internet Safety and Cyberbullying workshop during technology classes this week.  This workshop was a collaborative effort between Mrs. Clifford and Mrs. Trudden.  Please take a moment to review the key topics that were covered and continue the discussion at home.

Topics covered were:
❀    Website and Ad Safety
❀    File Sharing
❀    Cell Phones (Texting)
❀    Email, MySpace, and Facebook
❀    Make Safe Online Choices
❀    Cyberbullying
❀    Warning Signs of Cyberbullying
❀    Real Life Consequences

Also, remind your child to always think about being a Technology PALS when they are evaluating their use of technology.

P – Protection (about your identity and reputation)
A – Appropriate (about inappropriate sites)
L – Legal (about plagiarism, copying software/music)
S – Safe &   Responsible (about handling computers, software, equipment, backing up)

Some helpful links to reinforce these concepts can also be found on the following websites:

Our Full Presentation is available below

Virtual Field Trips

As I’ve noticed in the past few years field trips are becoming few and far between as a part of the education of elementary school students.  When I began teaching ten years ago we went on six trips a year.  We also had two in-house trips where someone came to us.  These days it seems elementary students in my schools only go on one or two trips per year.

This begs the question of teachers:  How are we able to still give students the experience for learning outside the classroom without leaving the classroom or school building?  Answer:  Technology!

During the past month I came across two items that spoke to the idea of Virtual Field Trips.  It’s no wonder that with the cost of buses, fuel, admission prices going up these online tools are becoming more utilized.

Teachers who are interested in learning more about Virtual Field Trips and all that they can offer you in your classroom check out the following article from ISTE Learning and Leading by Kimberly Ketterer.

Parents!  Keep in mind that Virtual Field Trips are not only for Teachers to use.  They are a great way for you to incorporate them into your child’s time home from school or their summer vacation.  If you are like me, you probably don’t have the extra money to fly to Chicago just to check out the Field Museum, but if you have access to a computer with an internet connection you can experience it online!  Most libraries have computers that are available for just such an experience if you don’t have reliable internet at home.  Remember to take headphones (walkman headphones are fine) with you though….some virtual trips have great sound files to listen or movies to watch.

Mrs. Smoke has put together a great list of some links to the best Virtual Field Trips for kids.  What’s even better is that she has added grade level ranges to most of her suggestions.  Check them out!

Don’t forget these other great interactive websites that also serve as great Virtual Trips to local points of interest!

Bayville (5th Grade)

Maryland Roots (4th Grade)

Read Books on your iPhone/iPod Touch

I have finally been able to catch up on some much needed reading in some of my favorite blogs.  I stumbled across a post on Dangerously Irrelevant about digital copies of books.  With the invention of the Amazon Kindle and other Book Reading devices, they have changed the way we read books and gather information.  Now, as an avid reader of books in their traditional form, I simply enjoy the feel of a hardback in my hands while I’m reading.  I don’t know what it is but I love going into book stores, especially older ones with their shelves to the ceiling and huge wingback chairs to sit and lounge while getting lost in an author’s cast of characters. My favorite being Elliott Bay Books in Seattle.

Most recently, I considered getting a Kindle for use when I travel.  Usually when I go on trips, I devour 2-3 books therefore taking up space in my carry on bags.  When I saw the Kindle, I thought, “WOW!  I can take my books with me in a more compact form.”  But at $359 at, it’s a steep price tag for a few trips a year.

Now looks like the genius’ at Apple have designed an app that you can download for free that turns your iPhone/iPod Touch into your very own small version of a Kindle.  This would allow me to pack as many books as I would like, and the option to purchase more during my travels, fitting in my pocket.

Thinking back to education, what use does this pose for the classroom?  Instead of children lugging home textbooks in their backpacks, what if their textbooks were all on a device that can fit into their pocket?  What if books were on a device that would allow us to change the text size larger or smaller to fit the needs of students with vision impairments?  There is also a text to speech feature that can read your favorite books, newspapers, and magazines to you. The iPhone/iPod Touch also allow students to listen to podcasts and classroom lectures as well.

This poses some food for thought about the use of technology both in schools and outside it.  Devices like the iPhone and the iPod Touch are paving the way for children as digital citizens in our world.

Happy Holidays!

I wish everyone out there a very Happy and Safe Holiday season!

My winter break is proving to be a busy one already.  Keep an eye on this blog for some changes in the New Year!  More updates coming soon!

Looking for something fun to do over Break?  Check out Xtranormal a web 2.0 program that allows you to make movies.  If you can type you can make a movie!  Kids, remember to ask your parents before you create an account.  I learned about this site from Mr. Robb at Bellows Spring Elementary and enjoyed making the movie below.

6 + 1 Writing and Technology

Mrs. Chun’s First Graders integrated technology into one of their writing assignments.  The assignment was based on the book Don’t Take Your Snake for a Stroll by Karin Ireland and David Catrow.  Students used Pixie to create their own organized sentence following the pattern in the story.  They illustrated their sentence and then we compiled them into a class movie.  Check it out below!


Congratulations Summer Vacation Contest Winners!


To better view examples,  choose Download to watch the QuickTime Movie in Full Screen view or select the Full Screen Button to view SlideShare presentations.

First Place:  Alex Taber

Flat Stanley\’s European Vacation

Second Place:  Christian Stone

Third Place: Hannah & Phoebe Chan

Fourth Place:  Brian Weinberg

Mr. Robb, Technology Teacher from Bellows Spring Elementary School was very impressed with your work.  He had a tough time judging the entries.

Everyone did so well!  I’m so proud of all your work!  AWESOME JOB!  It was truely “TECH”-tacular