Friday, December 11, 2009


My students just finished up making short podcasts on an energy source using iTalk yesterday. Originally I had wanted them to be able to go back and edit their recordings and add in sound effects and pictures, but with the limited amount of time we had I think the iTalk application worked out really well. It was very easy for the kids to use and they really enjoyed being able to record themselves. As you might expect, it went really smoothly with my small classes, but got a little stressful with the larger ones when I ended up trying to download several recordings at the last minute.

There were a couple of really cute podcasts I got, including one where they decided it was ok if the windmills killed some birds because you could just take them home and cook them for Christmas dinner. You gotta love the creativity! I think they could have been even better if we had done this project after the talked about persuasive writing in their Language Arts classes. There is a lot of potential for interdisciplinary projects with the technology if we can find a way to make the timing work.

On another note, I am excited to get a chance to test out one of the Activslates today in class. It was incredibly easy to configure and get set up, but might take a little time to gt used to using. Hope it goes well!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bring on 2010!

Well, for the last 4 months I have listened to my coworkers discuss what is working on the technology and what they would do differently in the future and I must admit I am just chomping at the bit to get my chance.... and that chance is only about a month away. Pierce and I are going to be working with the iTouches and the MacBooks and NetBooks next semester. I am a little nervous about handing this technolgy over to the kids. I tend to be a bit of a control freak when it comes to doing something a certain way in the classroom... but I am also pretty excited about them being able to research in the room! In some ways it will make my life much easier, in other ways much more complicated!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Making Progress

We had a few technical issues with our netbook computers and needed to have them reimaged which was accomplished so they are back in working order. Over the last couple of weeks I have been in contact with the ESL Newcomer teacher at Landrum MS who is doing some remarkable things with her newly arrived ESL students using iPods. She was able to show me some great sources for videos as well as some of her student's projects which are really amazing. i have also been in contact with my teacher friend who assisted with podcasts in Australia last year. I'm hoping in the second semester we can set up some podcasts so we can hear some from her students and she can let her students hear some of ours.
I have been giving the Journalism students their student email accounts and we have begun using them to access a class Wiki. They are excited about the possibilities and wanted to add their classmates as their friends immediately. This is still a work in progress and after one initial glitch in accessing the site, it has been going smoothly. As we move towards final exams, we will be using the netbooks to finish up projects.
I have been researching applications for my Broadcast, Journalism and Electronic Experiences and have found several that are going to blend in very well with my class activities. The Electronic Experiences classes are especially anxious to get to use the iTouches.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


I am in the process of having my students take their CBQ tests online using the netbooks. This will save a lot of time and give them practice with real life.

My frustration is that I have spent 2 hours of class time getting each student their username and password. Then we go through the lengthy process of inializing the GMail account.

I am at the finish line of getting this completed and we are close to taking CBQ's online..

I know even though it took me a good chunck of time up front it will be worth it in the long run.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tomorrow I am starting a project with my 6th graders. It's a pumpkin pie recipe. They have to go an find a recipe on pumpkin pie and answer various questions about fractions and multiplying them. This is a 3 day starting tomorrow and concluding Monday and Tuesday next week. Since next week is Thanksgiving week I am hoping this project will keep them interested and diciplined due to the holidays....will keep you posted on the turn out

Sunday, November 15, 2009

How time flies by! I have to apologize for not adding to the blog every week. I'm still trying to get in the habit of using it. With all the wonderful developments in technology it would be great if we could figure out a way to add some extra time to our days or at least reduce work somewhere else! It's just becoming impossible to keep up with all the tasks we all have to do each day. I've been very busy with all my classes creating their iMovies about themselves. They are making progress ever so slowly. We are now working on adding images & video of pictures of family & friends from home as well as learning to use the digital sill cameras & the Flip video cameras to record around school. Students are learning in small groups about proper procedure & policies for camera use. This includes proper downloading of images/footage and getting it to their iMovies and deleting from their cameras. The students will then reinforce their newly acquired knowledge/skills by teaching their classmates.

In addition to the Flip cameras coming in, Gail & I were finally able to get to Best Buy to purchase our items with our grant we won last year! Yippee!! So, now I have a new all-in-one printer/copier/scanner which we'll be able to use for kids to scan any photos in to their files. (My old scanners don't connect to the new Macs & most weren't working anymore too.) Not all of our kids have digital cameras or cell phones to take pictures. Plus, I encourage them to bring in any older photos of their parents, grandparents, etc so they can get them digitized. This is part of my genealogy interests I've acquired from my Mom.

In using all the new Mac applications and the new equipment, I am barely able to keep ahead of the kids right now! Next on the agenda, is learning all the ins and outs of iDVD for the kids to then turn their movie in to a DVD. After that, time allowing, I hope to have them design their own DVD covers in iPages. Needless to say, they are very excited about all of this! By now though, my students are well-grounded in creating Garage Band music loops, iPhoto slideshows, editing images in iPhoto, photographing and videotaping themselves in Photo Booth and importing all in to their iMovie. They know how to add titles, transitions, video & sound effects, and import their music loop for background music. They know how to access the Video Tutorials to use whenever they need more help. And they usually show me something new every day too! So, we are having lots of fun while we're working hard every day!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Art Teacher Conference

I am ever so thankful that there is the TAEA Art teacher conference coming up this Thursday-Sunday. Since I missed last year due to Mitchell, but it was worth missing (sort of! *laugh). One of the classes I am taking is called "Boxes with Fires: Wisely Integrating Technology into the Art Classroom" which will include integrating digital technologies such as PPpresentations (which I know already, but...), podcasting art style, imovie, wikis, web sites, mind mapping, social bookmarkings, blogs and improving student learning to stimulate educational reform. This is one of many technology classes offered this year, which I have not seen in the past. So, for this year, I'm not going to all the hands on cool art project classes, but things like this. Hopefully this can help us get technology used effectively in the fine arts wing as well... something besides just using the computers to look up images and play games on. I know there's gotta be something more! Can't wait!
I'm also going to be attending 4 upcoming different web classes on how to keep the SBISD web art page updated with the new branding stuff. I am looking forward to being the photographer and co-webmaster for that endevour! So hopefully, that will help us all also with stuff that we want to put on our website here at school...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I made it....

I am in the Power to Learn training meeting on Digital Storytelling....Learning lots of new things that I cant wait to try in class.   

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

MacBooks and video

I have begun using the Macbook computer to download and edit videos with my students. It took a while to find the correct firewire as I did not receive one with the computer and my video camera is not the flip camera. We did purchase some additional flip cameras, so I'm hopeful that I'll be able to let the students work with them in the next week or so.
Ms. Ringler did have her students out learning to use the flip cameras this week and we have been working with students after school on editing their movies. My Broadcast students are about ready to upload their first videos to be viewed and entered in a district contest. We are excited about the steps we are making toward getting all the devices working together and in the students' hands.
This week we will get further training on the storytelling aspects and hopefully I will be able to immediately use that with my students.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cross platform issues

I've hit a couple of snags working with PC computers in my room and Macs in the broadcast lab. I tried to download a digital video tape to my PC laptop to show the students and allow them to make comments about how they would change the shots taken in the video, but it did not load correctly in 3 tries...although I've successfully loaded videos to that laptop before. I then decided to leave it on the MacBook where it did load successfully, but my projector does not have a cord that connects with the MacBook. It was a day of frustration for me and the kids as they wanted to see the video they had taken and I was unable to get it loaded for them and show it during that class period. I'm going to have to consult our more experienced Mac users and find some answers. I definitely see the need for more video editing, transferring, music background information and assistance. I love the MacBook, but still need to use my Dell for many school functions. I'd like to get efficient so I don't have to carry 2 laptops around with me and alternate which one is used for which function.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Where are we keeping the calendar of sign in/out of items? I would like the chance to learn on one of the touches before asking my kids to do something with them. I'd like to use them during our week of Via Colori, our sidewalk drawing event which will fall in the first part of November, but I am not positive of the date yet. Probably the second or third week. We hope to have many guests artists attend to design squares and I'd like to try to get them to talk to the artists on tape. I can do this with video cameras and imovie if I need to. I will only have about 6 groups working on each square, so I would only need 6 of the touches; one for each group. Thanks.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Netbooks in action

I have had my Journalism students working on their projects using the netbook computers yesterday and today. They love the cute little computers, but I'm having to point out which applications they can use and which they can't on the little netbooks. They are learning it is possible to type without a Microsoft product. We are discovering there are certain times you really need the big computers and other times it's great to use the baby netbooks. The only problems so far are getting all the netbooks to connect at the same time. Some of them seem to have a few quirks and we are working on identifying those.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tech Apps Classes

Since the Mac Lab is brand new to all my students, all classes have been working with the iLife applications in creating several products. They started first with the Photo Booth and used the different effects in it to create really silly pictures of themselves & their classmates. From there we went to iPhoto and brought all those pictures in where they learned how to edit them some more with cropping, rotating, and more types of effects. Afterward, they created a slideshow of their images and exported it as a final product. Next, they learned how to record themselves in Garage Band, edit their recording and add music and sound effects. They they exported it as a podcast. Currently, they are scripting their first movie which will be all about themselves and their lives from family, friends, school and goals. They will use Photo Booth to shoot this & if our new Flip Cameras come in, they will use those as well. From there they we'll learn to import all of this in to iMovie and edit it into a real movie. Our plan is to post all their work, for now, on our school's Intranet; if it will work. By doing all of these projects up front, my plan was to have a cadre of 6, 7, & 8 grade students with a basic working knowledge of the different applications and their processes so they would be the leaders for the rest of the school as teachers begin to delve in to all these wonderful acticities. That's about it for now, but I think they've been pretty busy!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

My 1st Attempt With the Touches

This week I used the iPod touches with my classes for the first time. The students used the Piqqo Project app to learn about a couple of projects people in other countries have set up to conserve energy and then wrote summaries about what they had learned. Overall, I was very pleased with how well the students stayed on task and were enjoying getting to learn in a new way. I think they really enjoyed being able to see the videos and pictures that went along with the written information. Doing it did point out some of the difficulties with web based apps though. If you are planning on using a web based app, make sure to check it out in your room with several of the touches ahead of time. Even after getting the app set up to work in the district (thanks Karen for your help getting that done!), we still had a few touches that couldn't get what was needed for the assignment. I'm looking forward to using them again!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Early Steps

My students are working on videos for a district project where they create 1-2 minute videos titled "I Am Inspired By." We should begin shooting the video this week. I'm hoping we can have them ready to post in the next two weeks. I think they will be excited to see their own work actually completed and "out there" where other people can view it as well. We should also have our first newspaper edition ready to go soon and will spend some time making selected articles into a NMS news podcast as well.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Getting Started

Our iTouches and MacBook computers have arrived. We have begun looking at applications we feel will best utilize the equipment we have. So far we have worked out a process for signing the equipment in and out and reserving which teacher will be using it. We are trying to add some additional equipment to make sure we have what we need to get the biggest bang out of each item we purchased. If feels like we are finally on our way to getting our projects going.

My students have been working on getting their initial activities going that will lead up to actually publishing their work on the Internet and making movies we can upload and play on our iTouches. There are a few technical snags as we work out all the parent permissions and try to make sure we are all on the same page, but it looks like we are ready to begin actively using our equipment any time now. We really want to get the items in the students' hands to see what they do with the opportunities we have planned. I'm betting they will come up with lots of ideas we haven't thought of yet.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Magnet for Modern Learning

Just an interesting article I found on facebook regarding magnet schools integrating arts/ science and technology...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Project Based Learning

Tracey and I met with the 4 core teachers last week. Each one of the 4 core teachers took one of Jennifer Blaine's books on Project Based Learning. They are going to read and share with all of us! We want to put the technology in the kids' hands so that the tools are there when they need them. I was so inspired by Chris Tovani and Sam Bennet and how everything they talked about is what we are trying to do! This is a really exciting time! Starting with the end in mind, Finding the "Big Ideas", such an inspiring way for kids to learn!

Monday, August 31, 2009

First and Second Weeks of School

I agree with Lora that it's been a fast and furious start this year. I can't wait to see where this year will take us. We had some training on using some technology websites this year before school started and I've already had an opportunity to incorporate one of them, BrainPop, into my Electronic Experiences classes. The students liked it, and it sure beat my standing there telling them things I could show them in a cartoon format. We are anxiously waiting for the arrival of our grant equipment and I have already begun planting the seeds in my students' minds about podcasting and using our new technology devices to post our news stories online this year.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

1st week of '09-'10

Well, we're off & running. Literally! It's been a non-stop first week of getting students settled into the right classes and everyone getting back into the routine of school. It's going to be an eventful year for sure. Besides this big grant, I am starting over with all new iMacs in my room!!! The kids are very excited too, but due to unforseen network and log-on issues, we have as yet to actually use them. Hopefully this will be a thing of the past very soon.

As for our grant status, we've received e-mails from Karen on the year's dates for staff development, so everyone involved should start making arrangements now for those subs. We are anxiously awaiting our new equipment too!

Diana was so eager to start that I've lent her one of my iTouches I purchased last year for the tech apps classes. She's been online at the iTunes store researching possible Apps to use in her science classes this year and we've downloaded many that she's been "experimenting" with to determine what might work & how. It's very exciting to see her jump right in and think about how she will use these activities within her classes with the 6th graders.

It's going to be an exciting year! Are you ready?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Making Connections

It is amazing how many people are willing to help you. Working through the Library2Play activity this summer I commented on a post by a teacher in Australia who has recently started podcasting with her students. I told her about our project and she offered any help and suggestions based on her own experience. If you are interested in checking out her blog, it is Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age. Happy exploring.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Power To Learn Grant Purchases

As it stands, as of July 9, 2009, here are the items we plan to purchase.

Item Cost per item Quantity Total
iPod Touch $ 189.15 30 $ 5,674.50
Protective cases $ 24.74 30 $ 742.20
Sync Cart $ 1,899.76 1 $ 1,899.76
Macbook $ 1,196.04 5 $ 5,980.20
Rock Star $ 16.48 8 $ 131.84
Thumb Tack microphone$ 12.99 15 $ 194.85
Flip camera $ 128.00 4 $ 512.00
iTunes card $ 100.00 1 $ 100.00
Asus EPC1000 netbooks $ 413.00 21 $ 8,673.00
Cart for netbooks $ 1,046.00 1 $ 1,046.00


PowerToLearn Grant

This blog has been established for the teachers and administrators from Northbrook Middle School who are involved in the grant to use technology creatively for our students. Teachers involved in the project will create weekly posts to this blog throughout the 2009-2010 school year.