Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Daily Lit: Summer Reading Delivered to Your Device

As the summer approaches, it's time to give our students ways to read, reflect, and synthesize EVERY DAY whether they are coming to school or not. I recently stumbled upon Daily Lit, a site that delivers a short chunk of literature to your phone, ipod, Google Reader, or computer each day. (You choose the time it arrives.) Each installment takes about 5 minutes to read, but you can order more installments on demand if you get "hooked." It sounds like a perfect way to keep summer readers on track. There are many free titles, but some of them cost money. I am going to try this for a few weeks with a free title. It seems like a great way to keep my summer reading on track!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Boom Writer: Crowdsourced Writing for Kids

The "Father of Edcamp," also known as Dan Callahan, shared this resource at EdCamp Philly 2011. It is called Boom Writer, and I LOVE IT. A teacher puts in the first chapter or story starter. Then students write the following chapter individually. After all the submissions are in, students vote on the best chapter. The graphics are very kid friendly, and it could be a really engaging summer literacy activity! Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

EdCamp Philly 2011: A Reflection

The second annual (Can you believe it?) EdCamp Philly was on Saturday, May 21st. I had a fantastic time seeing old friends, learning new tools, and debating some great educational topics.

For me, the biggest takeaway came in the form of a question: Have I saturated my taste for new tools? While I'm always looking for more engaging ways to reach students and teachers, I think I'm more interested in refining my pedagogical philosophies than adding to my "tool box."

In an effort to sharpen my focus on quality instruction, I am going to reduce the feeds in my Google Reader, reread a few of my favorite Marzano titles, and research for my dissertation.

While I'll never fully lose the curiosity and desire to learn about new tools, a focus on instruction will drive my summer.

Thanks, EdCamp Philly. I needed that.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Choose Students Randomly

A few weeks ago I finished reading Mike Schmoker's book Focus. While I find some of his comments a bit flip regarding the use of educational technology, he offers a path to clarity in a crowded educational world. One thing he notes is the necessity for choosing students randomly during class discussions and interactive lectures. To help you with this task, try RANDOM. This site offers a variety of services, including the ability to randomly select items from a list of names you provide. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Spy Pig: See Who's Reading Your Gmail

As my district prepares to move to Google Apps for Education, several people have asked if Google offers the ability to see if your email has been opened or "read." While I know that most people may open or "see" an email on their phones or computers without reading them, some people rely on this in the workplace for accountability purposes. Well, Spypig is a free plug-in that allows you to add this functionality to your Google account. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Quiet Write

Using the computer to write can be incredibly efficient. Or not. Sometimes it is very easy to be distracted by the many tabs, tweets, and media streams that permeate our modern writing machines. A great solution for this problem is Quiet Write. When you use Quiet Write, everything else stops. (You can't even SEE other programs or options if you put your browser into full screen mode.) I've been using it as I complete sections of my dissertation each evening, and it has helped my productivity immensely. I also think it's a wonderful tool for universal design. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Who Am I: History Mystery

Who Am I? is an activity developed by the Smithsonian Museum to help students learn about US History. It features 6 prominent historical figures in US history, and students have to use clues to uncover the identity of the individual. I really like this site because it encourages problem solving and synthesis. Plus, the visuals are engaging to students. Thanks to Richard Byrne for sharing this resource.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

My New Website for Work: Any Ideas to Improve It?

Every month, I write a newsletter for my district to share tips, tricks, staff development opportunities, and exciting tech events. Previously, I've done my newsletter in a wiki. This did not give my much flexibility with formatting. So, I've redesigned the newsletter in Google Sites. It is below. Please offer comments and suggestions. I want this to be the best possible newsletter for the teachers and staff!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

It's May. That Means It's EdCamp Philly Month!

There is less than a month to go until this year's edcamp Philly! (Are you registered yet?) As the time draws near and things get a BIT crazy, I thought I would share a few heartfelt comments about my fellow organizers. (insert "ahhh" here)

Our edcamp Philly team is by far the most collaborative, energizing, supportive team on which I have ever served. No one on the team is receiving a single penny for their service, but everyone is always willing to help out. I SMILE when I see edcamp emails piling up in my inbox. There are no egos, dramas, or haters on our team. After working and learning with these folks for over a year, I consider them to be true friends.

This just reinforces the concept that doing work about which you are passionate transforms your life. What drives you?

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