Monday, April 28, 2014

EdCamp Birmingham

This weekend I had the opportunity to go to EdCamp Birmingham.  Every single session was fantastic!  I walked away with so many thoughts and ideas!

My first session was led by Tom Murray (@thomascmurray) and was a discussion on what makes good PD. We brainstormed a list of characteristics of ineffective and effective PD and developed a plan on how to implement in our schools.  I learned about several resources I want to look into further including free webinars at: Simple K-12, Utah Education Network, and  Twitter chats were also discussed as a great way to connect with other professionals around the world.  You can check out Jerry Blumengarten's webpage, Cybraryman, for a complete listing of chat sessions.

The next session was my favorite, on Minecraft.  It was a casual chat with other educators who had started a Minecraft club or used it with their classroom students.  I really want to learn more about Minecraft and look into getting a server in one of the schools to play with.  Anyone try it in their classroom?  I'd LOVE to hear from you!  There was a teacher from Huntsville in the sessions that we all got to learn from.  She has a 5th grade classroom which she teaches through games.  I got a list of games that I want to explore.

Amanda Stone from Trace Crossings presented on the Maker Movement.  She showed us some of the tools her school is trying out including Makey, Makey and Little Bits.  Check out a video about Makey, Makey below:

Have you ever been to an EdCamp?  If not, I highly suggest it.  It's quailty, FREE professional development. The next local EdCamp will be in Birmingham:

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mother's Day

2nd graders at RES recording special Mother's Day messages for their moms. We took short clips of each child talking about their Moms.  We then put them together

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

EdCamp Birmingham

If you haven't had the chance to go to EdCamp, you are missing out!  It's free and it's in Birmingham!  Sign up today!!!  I'll be there!  Will you?

Science of the Olympics

As the winter games approach, here are a few resources for the classroom centered around the Olympics.

TeachersFirst's Resources for the Sochi Olympics- I really liked the article called "Fractions of a Second: An Olympic Musical".  The kids can hear the duration of the fractions of a second that it took to when a medal.  

List of Brainpop Movies:

Google Tie-In:

Differentiated Instruction- Article

I thought this was a great resource/ article on Differentiated Instruction:

Easier to Read Google Form Responses

Speaking of Tammy Worcester (see previous article)...I found this tip, too!  I have really started using Google Forms a lot this year and the one thing that really bugs me is when you get a lot of data it spreads across pages and pages to the right and doesn't make analyzing the data very easy.  Check out the article below that gives you a formula to transpose the data so your columns become rows and rows become columns to make viewing the data easier.

Google Forms and BatchGeo

If you haven't checked out Tammy Worcester's website, you should!  I went to one of her sessions last year at ISTE and really came away with a lot of great tips!  As I was browsing for teaching ideas, I came across one of her lessons that involved using a Google form to collect information on important locations from a class.  Using the resulting spreadsheet and a website called, the teacher is able to collect information and then map the resulting cities and states.  See the direct link for the lesson plan here:

I decided to try it out with a classroom at Green Valley this week.  Luckily Mrs. Giles, a third grade teacher, was willing to play with me.  I asked the children to brainstorm a list of important places to them and gave them a few examples from my own life. For each place I moved, I entered in the information into the form pictured below.  The students did the same but they added places where their parents were born and where they liked to vacation.

Using the forms resulting data, I went to, entered the data in by simply copying and pasting, and voila! our map was created!  When you hover over the live map the information such as the child's name and why the place is important is displayed.

It would be so cool to see what the map would look like for an entire school!  What if you had a live form on your website and people who visited filled out the form?

What types of uses could you see for the classroom?

Accessibility Tools for Windows

You probably already know about these tools.  As a teacher, I knew they were there; I just never used them!  I was helping an instructional support teacher recently and really started to dig in them deeper.  These are accessibility options on any desktop computer running Windows.  To find this menu, I went to the pearl (start circle on lower left-hand side of the screen) and typed in EASE OF ACCESS CENTER.  Here’s a description of what they’ll do:

  • ·         Start magnifier- magnifies what you hover over with your mouse
  • ·         Set up high contrast- for kids with visual issues, changes the whites to blacks and blacks to whites.  To select, click on SET UP HIGH CONTRAST and it tells you the short cut buttons to push. (It’s left alt, left shift, print screen buttons all at the same time.)
  • ·         Start on-screen keyboard- just that; It lays an on-screen keyboard on the screen so the kids can click to select keys.  Useful for kids that have a hard time tracking form the screen down to the keyboard.)
  • ·         Start narrator- reads what is on your screen for non-readers or emergent readers
  • ·         Make the mouse easier to use- sets the sensitivity for the mouse
  • ·         You can go into more details settings by click through the EXPLORE ALL SETTINGS options. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Professional Development Opportunity:  

You are invited to the following event:
Event to be held at the following time, date, and location:
Saturday, February 22, 2014 from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM (CST)
Samford University
800 Lakeshore Drive
Homewood, AL 35229

View Map

Share this event:
Come learn about the Maker Movement (MakerSpace).  Sessions will include (the focus will be on making, designing, technology, and STEAM):
1.    Augmented Reality
2.    Hacking and Remixing Music (anyone can do this)
3.    Coding
4.    Google Apps
5.    iPad Apps
6.    Robotics
7.    Tinkering and Technology
8.    Creating Movie, Games, and Apps
9.    Electronics and Technology (make brushbots with toothbrushes)
10.  Writing and Technology
11.  Minecraft EDU
12.  Plus break off sessions you create
*This is a different style workshop.  Closer to time, you will be asked to bring some household items in order to build and make things planned for the sessions.  I guess you can say this is like a MAKE AND TAKE workshop integrated with TECHNOLOGY.

There will be a limit of 100 for the event.  Register early!

Share this event on Facebook and Twitter

We hope you can make it!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

eLearning Spring 2014

As most of you know the state provides a great line-up of on-line professional development opportunities.  I know many people who have taken advantage of these in the past and have loved them!  I plan on doing a couple myself this Spring.  Have you taken any or do you plan on signing up for one?  Let us know by commenting below!

Email regarding:  eLearning Spring 2014 Semester Line-Up

There were so many returns of my previous email, I modified it to keep email servers from thinking it was spam ... hopefully this email will make it to its intended audience.

Happy 2014! I hope everyone has had a chance to thaw out from the deep freeze we’ve endured for the last few days and that you are happily engaged in the beginnings of a new school semester!

I wanted to take a few moments of your time to remind you that eLearning’s Spring 2014 Semester, our 23rd, begins on February 5th with registration through STIPD open now. As before, all of our courses are free and most are 6-weeks long – earning 30 clock hours each. We also offer eight courses in the EDU55xx series that can eventually earn ACLD-approved PLUs with additional work.

I have added the semester schedule below for your convenience but wanted to point out some specials we have this semester along with some old faithfulls that always seem to draw a crowd. Don’t forget to enroll early to save your seats – unlike previous semester budgetary circumstances will force us to limit enrollment in some classes.

EDU4421              Data Driven Decision Making

EDU4422              Classroom Management in the 21st Century

EDU4432              Digital Storytelling in the Classroom

EDU4437              Visual Strategies to Improve Student Thinking

EDU4443              Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities

EDU4474              iPads in the Classroom

Don’t forget to look over our classes geared for Elementary and for Middle/High School teachers along with EDU55xx series designed for school and district leaders. You can find our COURSE LISTING below or on our COURSE LISTING webpage. Instructions for enrolling using STIPD can be found on our REGISTRATION webpage and specifics for our PLU courses can be found on our PLU COURSES webpage.

Call or write if you have questions or comments on how we can improve our eLearning project!
Tom Dreilinger
State Project Director
e-Learning for Educators-Alabama
Technology in Motion, ALSDE

                Spring Semester 2014
(Feb 5 - Mar 25 for 6 week courses)
                21st Century Classroom
EDU4401              Webquests and Hotlists

EDU4403              Virtual Tours

EDU4404              Learning Styles

EDU4405              Best Web Ed Resources

EDU4421              Data Driven Decision Making

EDU4422              Classroom Management in the 21st Century

EDU4432              Digital Storytelling in the Classroom

EDU4437              Visual Strategies to Improve Student Thinking

EDU4443              Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities

EDU4462              Using Google Docs

EDU4464              Using Moodle in the Classroom

EDU4465              Wikis & Blogs & Podcasts

EDU4471              Using Promethean Boards

EDU4472              Using Smart Boards

EDU4474              iPads in the Classroom

EDU4499              Teaching First ELLs

EDU6611              Becoming Online FAC (10wks/55hrs)

EDU6631              Teaching Students in Blended Classrooms

                Elementary School
EDU1103              Early Childhood Book Reading Practices

ELA2412               Vocabulary in ES

MTH2512             Complexities of Measurement

REA2451               Reading First

SCI3671                Physical Science for K-2

SCI2611                Electricity and Circuits for 3-5

                Middle/High School
CCTI202E              College, Career, Academic Planning (4wks/20hrs)

ELA3412               Vocabulary in MS

HIS3712                Media and History - Cold War

MTH3512             Using Models to Teach Functions

REA3455               Kids, Content, Comprehension

REA3475               Reading Intervention for Struggling Read

SCI3673                Physical Science for 6-8

                School and District Leaders
                (can lead to a PLU with additional work)
EDU5501              Data-driven School Reform

EDU5502              Integrate Tech w/Curriculum

EDU5503              Internet Safety for Schools

EDU5504              Smart Budgeting for Technology - TCO

EDU5505              Leading School in Web 2.0

EDU5506              Developing Your PLN

EDU5507              Special Students in Regular Classrooms

EDU5508              Google Docs Administrator

                ACLD-approved PLU Courses
PLUACLD199      pre-requisite: EDU5501
PLUACLD200      pre-requisite: EDU5502
PLUACLD201      pre-requisite: EDU5503
PLUACLD202      pre-requisite: EDU5504
PLUACLD203      pre-requisite: EDU5505
PLUACLD204      pre-requisite: EDU5506
PLUACLD205      pre-requisite: EDU5507
PLUACLD206      pre-requisite: EDU5508

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Flubaroo & Slide Speech from GAFE Summit | 2014

A few months ago, I submitted a couple of ideas for the Google in Education Southern Summit.  This is the second summit of it's kind at The Lovett School.  I was fortunate enough to have attended the first, back in September of 2012.  The original summit was the first time I realized how many of Google's products I wasn't using to fidelity.  It was my first experience with a Chromebook and the first time I introduced to the idea of creating your own Google Map for the purpose of instruction.  That conference also presented the idea of using Google Apps for Education as an LMS.


This year, I presented on two tools that can be used with Google products.  The first was Flubaroo. This is a script that enables a multiple choice assessment created using Google Forms to grade itself.  A very usinful tool indeed.  The presentation I used is embedded below.  It is filled with videos and links that will help answer any questions you may have about using this script.

Slide Speech

The other tool I presented on was Slide Speech.  This tool enables a presentation to have a voice... literally.  Simply type what you want each slide to say in the Speaker Notes section of the slide, and Slide Speech will read it for you and automatically advance to the next slide.  John Graves, Slide Speech's creator, joined me via Google+ Hangout and spoke with the participants of the session about the features of Slide Speech and answered questions live from his home in New Zealand.  Click here to see the sample Slide Speech he shared during the session and watch the entire presentation below.

There were several other useful sessions each day of the two day conference facilitated by Google Certified Trainers, Teachers and Vendors that provided great ways to integrate the tools in Google Apps for Education Suite in your teaching practice.  The best way to keep up with the GAFE Summit happenings throughout the year is to check their website ( and to follow the hashtag #GAFESummit on Twitter.

Google Glass

Daniel Rivera lead a session on using Google Glass.  Here's a short clip of my first time with the device.  

YouTube Options

If you use YouTube in the classroom and want to get rid of all of the suggested videos and comments surrounding the video you want to show,  simply install YouTube Options.  This Chrome Extension that allows you to only show the video you want to show.

TechSmith Snagit

TechSmith showed off Snagit which is a free tool that can be found as a Chrome Application and Extension.  (Be sure to install both before attempting to use this tool.)  This makes creating screen shots a snap.  Once correctly installed, you will be able to make simple annotations, add a few arrows and shapes and locate all your screenshots easily in your Google Drive account in a TechSmith Folder.


One of my favorite tools shown by a vendor this year was Synergyse.  This is Google Apps training made easy.  It costs $10 per year and is free for students to use. (Check the details at the website about accessing free student accounts.)  Check out the video below to see this service in action.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

QR Codes and Vocaroo

A teacher recently asked if I could help out with a project for her classroom.  Her students were writing personal narratives and she wanted them to be able to record them reading it, create a QR code for the recording, and then insert the QR code as an image on their writing.  I typed up the instructions below for anyone interested:

The White House Film Festival

Some might be interested in this...

Let me know if you plan on participating!  I'd love to help!


Minecraft in the Classroom

I love working in a classroom and hearing kids talk about technology!  I happened to be in a 5th grade classroom before the break when they were presenting cell projects.  The teacher told the students they could create an animal or plant cell out of any materials they wanted.  One child loves Minecraft and created his cell using it!  How creative is that?!  Check it out!

Do you use Minecraft in the classroom?


Online Google in Education Training

Great resource for online Google training:

Just for Fun

Ha! we go too far with making everything 'digital'?  There are just some things paper is better for. 

Teaching Videos

Alisha Chiaramonte recently reminded me of a great website for teacher videos,

From Alisha,"The link has many great videos of Common Core lessons. There are videos where you can watch a lesson being taught to a real classroom. For some of the standards you can type the number (ex: RL.3.2) and it will go to a list of videos/lessons that pertain to that standard. Most of the videos are pretty short."

I particularly like the videos by Ms. Noonan on classroom management.   There are also some great videos on teaching empathy and Emotional Literacy.

Check it out!  If you have already, what videos spoke to you?

Guest Blogger / Hour of Code

I asked a class that was participating in the Hour of Code to share with us what they liked. Enjoy this post by Shelby, a third grade student in Mrs. Carns' class.  

I would love to see other guest bloggers! I can't think of a better way to emphasize writing for an authentic audience. Interested? Let me know!

By Shelby

Coding is like making your own game. You can program your character to do all sorts of things. Coding is awesome! If you never tried it you should. You don’t have to want to be a computer expert to do it. You could still do it if you wanted to be a football player. I learned that coding is very important in life. My favorite part was when I completed the level. Mrs.Carns’ class is participating in a hour of code. There were videos to watch and then activities to do. It’s a great activity if you are a beginner in coding.     

Hour of Code pics

We had so much fun trying out some of the Hour of Code activities these past few weeks!  Cameron added a Week of Code button on the computer lab home page which targets some suggested activities. For the first session that I worked with students they worked on the Angry Bird maze activity.  It was short and simple enough to capture their attention.  From there we moved onto the Tynker puzzles which the kids below are trying out.  The puzzles had a wider variety of activities including completing puzzles, building games, or free play activities.  They also varied by grade-levels.  The kids loved all of the puzzles!

What did you do for the Hour of Code?  Comment below!

Kids at GSES trying out Tynker

Kids at GSES trying out Tynker