Category Archives: Technology

Turn Your iPad into a Wireless Slate

So today in Pre-Algebra, we discovered something pretty awesome.  Splashtop is an app that turns your iPad into a wireless slate.

It’s super easy and just a bit less expensive than a $439 Airliner Slate!

  1. You buy the app – on sale right now for $6.99. (Regular price is $19.99).
  2. Install it on your computer as well.
  3. Create an account.
  4. (We also had to buy an “Anywhere Access Pack” for $10/year but that might depend on your network.)

It’s that easy!

After testing it out in the math classroom, I went back and installed it on my classroom computer and iPad at lunch.

Can’t wait to try it out tomorrow 1st period. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Video Time Machine iPad App

I am currently working on compiling lists of my co-workers’ favorite iPad apps and while I’m just starting the process, I have to share one app right away because it is FREE this weekend!

I  just started this process and want to go through the list of all the other apps, so look for lists by subject very soon.

Meanwhile, check out Video Time Machine.

If you teach history or just love history, pop culture, sports, music, television ads and complete randomness….this is for you!

Tweedle Ian just watched the NBA 2003 Best Plays (the year he was born) and wanted to watch more videos, but I stole the iPad from him so I could write this post!

One of These Words is Not Like the Others

Right now we are working towards increasing vocabulary and improving vocabulary comprehension. These activities are all variations of the same concept using different formats. Students must find similarities and differences between words in a list.

On the SMART Board
There are several tools you can use including:

Word Sort (with headings of Same and Different) This would require one page per set of words, but as a presenter once told me, “Pages are free” so it really doesn’t matter if you use 100 pages.

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The multiple choice activity works also. You can do up to 10 questions per page.

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The easiest? I just make lists/groups of words and cover them with the disappearing box. A student reveals a set and then they all use their dry erase boards to write their answers. I let them work in groups for this so they can have some discussion about the meaning of the words.

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  • “Clickers” – I wrote a grant for Senteo Interactive Response System a few years ago and using these hand-held devices is the closest I can get to BYOT in my Resource Room this year. The students love using clickers and I am collecting ideas on how to use them to share in a future post.

Old School Method

Using index cards, I made a set of cards for each of my round tables. Three cards were similar. One didn’t match up. Students rotated to each table in pairs and had to discuss and write down the words that did not belong. This activity keeps them moving and lets them interact and discuss ideas with classmates.

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One station in the rotation….I said the answer is “rat” because all the others have wings and feathers. Most of them said “eagle” because the others “walk around on the ground.” Who’s correct?

The title of this post made me think of Sesame Street and a popular segment. Who remembers this?

Using Edmodo to Encourage Editing

Do you ever have ideas that come out of nowhere or get a result that you never expected? Like when a decently planned lesson all of a sudden takes a turn for the best and you are like “Yesssss!! This is why I love my job!””

That was me about three weeks ago when I decided to try to use Edmodo with my Resource Room. My original goal was to get them used to signing into the computer, logging into Edmodo, and typing a reply (hopefully with capitals and punctuation).

Here is what I did:

1. I loaded a picture on Edmodo.

2. I gave these directions: Ask three questions about the picture. Answer two of your classmates’ questions. Use capitals and periods.

3. I set them loose and didn’t fuss about their grammar, punctuation, etc. I was happy to see them responding and interacting and looking at their question words. Almost everyone completed the task in the allotted time.

Class ended and when I returned to my room, my iPhone had 47 notifications from Edmodo!

4. During my prep period, I logged into Edmodo and used the Screen Capture Tool in SMART Notebook and copied their work. All 47 replies.

5. I created some editing icons for punctuation and capitalization and included a smiley face.

Fast-forward to the next day for our Bell Ringer….

6. We edited those sentences and man, were they engaged! My room is a safe place and no one was embarrassed about their mistakes. They gracefully came to the board, made their corrections with my editing icons, or rewarded themselves with a smiley face.

The photo prompt for this Edmodo discussion was a spooky door in the middle of the woods.

During this activity, I had to give a mini-lesson on how to use the shift key for capital letters and question marks by putting a photo of our same keyboard on the SMART Board. I made students come up and practice “holding down” the shift key and then hitting the question mark.

The best part came when we returned to the lab later that week and I provided another photo prompt with the same directions.

And I heard things like,

“Am I allowed to edit my reply?” (Ummm…absolutely!!!!)

“Oh no! How do I fix that sentence?” (Let me show you!!!)

“Can we do more than two replies?” (Not a problem!!)

“We’re gonna blow up your phone today!” (::::::Insert their evil laughs:::::::)

My kids were excited about writing and they were recognizing their mistakes and they were fixing them!

Imagine their delight when on our second day of “Edmodo Editing” we had twice as many smiley faces!

We’ve done a few more photo prompts. On the fourth one, I told them I would be taking a grade on their work. The easiest way for me to do this was to print the post and all the replies. I cut them into strips and put them in piles. I then gave them a percentage on their use of capitals and punctuation. One girl did three sentences and another did 12 so this was the only fair way to do it. (Grading writing is always tricky for me.) I can also use these work samples for their IEP objectives.

Next we will be moving onto prompts related to short stories we read in class. The first one will be from the true account “Forty-Five Seconds Inside a Tornado.” (Explain how you would stay safe during a tornado. Describe what it would be like to be in a tornado. Give two details you remember about the tornado that hit Waco.)

I see this activity evolving into bigger and better writing and editing experiences throughout the year.

And to think it all happened somewhat accidentally….

Ideas for SMART Board Tools: Sentence Arrange

The “Sentence Arrange” tool in SMART Notebook is a great tool for sequencing and ordering and can be used in all subject areas.

You can find this tool in the Lesson Activity Toolkit.  Basically you enter single pieces of information –  in sequence – on up to 8 separate lines. The lines are shuffled and students must reorder them. Like most of the activities in SMART Notebook, it has a self-check feature.

I have used this for whole class instruction, stations, and individual practice.

The screen shot below shows how we used this tool for learning the Scientific Method.

Stay tuned for another clever way to memorize the steps of the Scientific Method!

Here are some other ways I have used “Sentence Arrange” in the past:

  1. Memorizing the Preamble of the Constitution
  2. Learning PEMDAS in math
  3. Sequencing events in a story
  4. Ordering numbers from smallest to largest
  5. Memorizing the 7 base metric units
  6. Ordering presidents
  7. Sequencing battles in a war
  8. Memorizing lines of a poem

What other ways could you use this tool in your classroom?

Share your ideas here!

Teaching Figurative Language with Media

I found a few video clips from YouTube that help advertise different types of figurative language and literary terms in class.  To read more about my philosophy and approach to using media and visuals, read this post.

With SMARTBoards and Edmodo, it is easy to share these videos with students during class or at home.

Onomatopoeia is usually pretty easy for students by the middle school level. As part of my effort to reach all learners with visuals and a media tie-in, I love to introduce onomatopoeia with this seemingly unrelated, but ironically related, video.

Nothing says personification like talking teapots, dancing silverware, and frisky feather-dusters.

This YouTube video covers the following: symbolism, foreshadowing, flashback, atmosphere, and plot twists with Disney clips. There is a short “quiz” at the end.

You could also use BYOT to have students create their own videos on these concepts.

For example, this video featuring “Hyberbole Man” would work for older students 7th grade and up. It is full of hyperboles and is probably pretty funny to teenagers. Better yet, it might be a nice kick-off for a project where students create their own hyperbole movies.

Lastly, this video links figurative language to pop music lyrics.  With examples of Katie Perry, Selena Gomez, Green Day, Uncle Kracker, and Taylor Swift…this should be pretty easy for students to relate to.  I think students would enjoy listening to music and finding lyrics using figurative language, as well as making their own videos.


How do you teach figurative language in your classroom?

Do you have a favorite app for making videos?

Please share your ideas!

People, Places, Things and a Good Idea

During the first few weeks of school, we’ve spent a lot of time working on identifying nouns and distinguishing between common and proper nouns.

Friday we went to the computer lab and used Wordle which is a tool that helps you build “word clouds.”

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My directions were simple since this was the first time using Wordle with my students.

Students had to type the word “noun” five times which then made it larger than any other words on the poster. They had to include 5 proper nouns and 10 common nouns. Ideally, the words were supposed to be related to the Olympics which we have been learning about, but a few other nouns snuck in there it seems.

They then got to play with the layout and font to make it their own.

In the coming weeks, we will add other parts of speech.

Some tips:
Have students type their list in Word first so that they can spell check and save their list in case of technical difficulties. Our filter was blocking Wordle on some computers which was a little frustrating. I had to send some of their word lists to myself through Edmodo and make a few posters on my classroom computer.

We don’t have color printer capabilities for the students so I had to add my own brightly colored paper to the bulletin board. I am excited for them to see their work on display when they come to class today.

10 Things That Made My Day

Did you ever have one of those days….

when everything was…

GREAT??

Today was one of those days.

I had a 5 hour meeting today to help me prepare for my new Resource Room class. There were 10 teachers/speech therapists at this meeting and our agenda was full.

I now have so much knowledge I am bursting at the seams and it only seems right to pass things on to you.

10 things That Made My Day:

1. Unique Learning System – Our district has a license to this program and it looks awesome. I think if you teach students with disabilities you should check it out. There is a huge Olympic 2012 unit I just downloaded for free. I know it will be after the fact, but I’m going to use this unit for the first few weeks of school. I think we will be able to do lots of research and writing and can utilize so much media.

2. News 2 You – A related site to Unique and just as neat. Again, you have to pay for a license but it might be worth it.

3. BUMP – – I always love when I learn about nifty apps. This app will make sharing pictures so much easier with the girls.

4. Dictation Dragon – A speech to text app that I can use on the iPad with students and also put on my iPhone! This was the one thing I missed about my Droid.

5. QuizCast and Studylicious – I have to look into this more but these two work together. You are supposed to be able to put your own content into a quiz format for the iPad.

6. Appsfire Deals – Every day this app gives you a list of paid apps that are free!

7. The Five Finger Pinch and other fun gestures I had no idea existed (but it does explain why sometimes apps mysteriously close on my iPad.)

8. My new Vera Bradley Smartphone Wristlet in Paisley Meets Plaid arrived today! Finally a wristlet that fits my iPhone when it’s in its case. I bought it new on eBay and got a great deal! ($49 retail. Mine = $34.50)

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Isn’t is lovely? And smart?

9. I’ve been saving my school clothes for, well, school. But I figured a school meeting was school-ish enough. So I wore a new shirt today! Gotta love the feeling of wearing brand new clothes!

10. I was driving home for lunch and saw a little boy sitting on the corner at a lemonade stand. Bless his heart! The sign said:

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I was going to stop on my way back to the school, but by then he was gone. I so wish I would have turned around and gone back when I first saw him. Some people are addicted to pop, but I love lemonade and I thought his attempt to make some money on a hot day was precious.

I feel like somehow that lemonade stand was a reminder of something that is so cliché but definitely worth repeating. You all know it…

“When life gives you lemons….”

Honestly, I’ve been a little stressed lately and feeling overwhelmed with all of this school stuff happening so quickly and at the last-minute.

However, after today, I am feeling refreshed, inspired, and excited.

Today I am making lemonade.

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