Monday, January 24, 2011

A Three-Year-Old's Handwriting on the Wall

I spent much of last weekend, painting the walls in my house.  As any good home seller would do, I was trying to “spruce” up the look of the house while we were trying to sell it.  It was during this painting process that I realized my son has some pretty good penmanship for a three-year-old.  I saw numerous examples of it strewn across our walls in inconspicuous places.  Since this writing was done without my knowledge (and I assume his mothers’), I can’t be sure he meant to make any of the letters that he made but they were pretty well formed.  That made me think about how much he’ll truly be “writing” when he gets to school.  I rarely write any more unless it is a grocery list or a to-do list.  My son is very adept at navigating a mouse and most computer sites so I’m not sure how much writing he’ll ever need to do.   
Statistics say we send 294 billion e-mails and nearly five billion test messages every day.  I quickly embraced e-mail when it became common use but I fought the use of texting.  As a former language arts teacher, I couldn’t bring myself to intentionally misspell a word just to make it more convenient.  Eventually I succumbed to the pressure of my friends and family and started texting, but I cringe every time I receive a message with an incorrect spelling.  And I have, on occasion, saved time by taking the shortcuts.  But I’m not sure that’s a world I want my son growing up in. 
It appears that writing instruction is still going on in the classrooms I visit and with the teachers I speak to.  Will there still be an emphasis for writing instruction in two years, five years?  I hope so.  I have a feeling my most treasured possession will be a construction paper card from school with a handwritten, “I Love My Daddy” on it.
If you want to read more about whether penmanship is a lost art, you can link to this article by CBS News entitled, “Is Penmanship Being Written Off?” here

Tech Tuesday 1/25/11 - Iphones, Google forms, and Walk Throughs - Top 10 technology tools for teachers - Fun science games for kids - teach kids money management skills

Monday, January 17, 2011

The "Skype" is the Limit

I believe that I embrace technology as much as the next person.  I surround myself with it and crave every new technological idea that comes out.  However, I was slow to get on the “Skype” boat.  I thought video chat was a fad that could only be used by teenagers who were grounded from visiting their friends.  I had no idea it could be such a powerful tool in the field of education.

This past week I had the opportunity to facilitate a video chat discussion regarding the use of Response to Intervention (RtI) at the secondary level with an outstanding high school staff from Berkeley Springs High School in Berkeley Springs, WV.  What started as phone call exchanges and talk of doing a phone conference morphed into an incredible exchange of ideas and questions through a video chat.  I believe that the people who attended on my end came away with some great ideas for implementing RtI in their schools and a good resource to consult during the process.

Most importantly, it was easy!  Granted I had incredible help from our technology coordinator and the technology coordinator on the other end of our chat but by all accounts it was very simple to set up and conduct.  I’m looking forward to doing more video chats through Skype to allow the principals I work with the opportunity to gain new ideas without having to travel outside of the area.  We’ve started on a small scale but I hope to expand it.

In the interim, check out the video capture we did of the chat at  It should be posted this week.  Also, there is a wonderful article about how teachers are using Skype to teach in an under-developed portion of New Delhi (  These are just some of the ways that video chat is becoming main stream.  If you’d like to learn more about using Skype in your classroom or school, sign up for an account ( and review the upcoming Skype Education directory that will link numerous classrooms and individuals looking for an opportunity to video chat ( )

Tech Tuesday 1/18/11 - Foreign language resources - Google science fair – cool flashcards - useful sites for teaching vocabulary – math resources

Monday, January 10, 2011

My "must have" apps

These are apps that I couldn't live without.  Let me know if you need more information on any of them.

GOOGLE  MOBILE APP – This app links to Google’s applications so you can easily navigate to them.  It is available on for the IPad, Iphone, and Ipod Touch.  I use the calendar feature to keep my schedule updated.  I use it to keep my Google Docs easily accessible.  Iif you aren’t familiar with Google Docs, then you are missing out.
DROPBOX – This app allows you to sync your files across multiple computers and devices.  It is available on IPad, IPhone, IPod Touch and on the Android market.  I use it to store my presentations or anything that I need easy access to.
FLIPBOARD – This is by far the coolest app I’ve stumbled across.  It is for the Ipad only.  If you are someone who has Facebook and/or Twitter accounts and likes staying up on blogs and news then this is the easiest format to read everything.  It takes your selected information and puts it into magazine format for you to read.  Very cool!
abcNotes (free) – This app allows you to create sticky note reminders and store them on your device.  It is available on the IPad, IPhone, and IPod Touch.  Once you create the notes you can then email them.  I’ve used the sticky notes when organizing information for a presentation.  I then email myself the notes and copy and paste them as organized into my presentation.
TWEETDECK – This app is really for those Twitter and/or Facebook freaks out there.  Tweetdeck is available on IPad, IPhone, IPod Touch and on the Android market.  It allows the user to organize their Twitter feeds into columns for easier reading.  You can also add your Facebook account as a column.  I separate my columns into “Education”, “Sports”, “Education Organizations” and “Miscellaneous”.  This way I’m assured that I don’t miss any tweets that come through.  I also have a column with the search term “#edchat”.  This column provides me with any tweet that has “#edchat” in it.

Tech Tuesday 1/11/11 - find lesson plans for your Smart Board - virtual field trips - 11 science sites to check out - 11 language arts sites to check out - Social Studies sites - Art and Music sites - videos to learn new teaching techniques - Health and PE resources