Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday Resource: Journals

No! Come back here! This is some cool stuff!

First of all, as I said in a previous post, I was going to look for some journal prompts that I can use with my students when I can't think of anything else and neither can they. But what I really wanted, especially in light of recent conversations on Google+, were more creative journal ideas. I wanted things I might think are cool or interesting or feasible, but that I hadn't thought of myself, in spite of my humble brilliance. (It took three tries to get the wording right in my search. So much for humble brilliance.)

I collected a range of ideas because you are a range of people.

Our friends at Ranger Rick had some great ideas, including a moon journal, etc. This particular link is for a nature journal. Whether or not it would work for a classroom teacher would depend on if there is any nature around, but it seemed like something homeschoolers and parents who still have some summer vacation left might like.

This second link I only included for the links at the bottom. If you scroll down, though, you'll find journaling links geared more toward teens and adults.

Jennifer Cummings' creative journaling page has more creative prompts, and not all of them involve writing. One of my favorites was number 5: "What is the worst book you have ever read, and why was it horrible? Why did you read it?" How often, during their schooling, are children asked about their favorite book? It's a nice change to write about one you strongly disliked!

TeacherVision's page has a zillion links. Really. These include different types of journaling as well as topics. This page seems to cover a whole range of grade levels and ages, including adults.

This next link is where I initially got the idea to look for nature journals. It includes journals for adult learners as well.

Finally, there is Notebooking, which includes a wide variety of free pages. Some of these can be used for journaling, and there are pages for various forms of religious/spiritual journaling as well.

You'll note that I try to include only practical links in my Monday Resources. While a theoretical link may appear, it's only when there is practical information somewhere on the page. In today's case, either you like journals or you don't. You either want to try it yourself or with your students, or you don't. If I were going to try to actually sell you on an idea, it'd be the idea that Bret Favre needs to retire. Permanently. Really. Maybe I should journal about that.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Rest in peace, Connor.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Monday Resource: Blogging With Students

Good evening! As you know, I try to bring you a weekly resource that you may find helpful in educating your students or children. My first thought for this week was to present some journal prompt sites, since that's something I'm often looking for during the school year. However, my love of technology (I'm having a great time on Google+ this week) and my own experiences with blogging (and trying to blog with my students) instead inspired me to seek out information on blogging with students.

I got my initial links here, in case you're wondering. Now, last year I created one class blog, and put on it the work of individual students. However, I discovered today a better plan: I have set up an account, and when I get my class list, I can give each student his or her own blog within that account.

I apologize in advance for the links. It looks like all of the links beyond this point all go to the same place. I strongly recommend clicking on tabs!!

Here are some sample blogs (of real students) using that blogging platform (Student Blog Examples is the last tab). That awesome site includes a video tutorial on how to set up those blogs (click on Setting Up A Blog, and then the second link from the left beneath that tab). Greta Sandler, the awesome author of that whole resource section, has everything you need (click on the various tabs for subheadings), including setting up a blog, internet safety, etc.

My favorite part was her great introductory activity under setting up a blog: Learning to Blog Using Paper (again, under Setting Up A Blog).

Feel free to check out the other Google links as well! Please let me know which you liked best. I hope you enjoy blogging with your students!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Monday Resource: Keyboarding

This topic has come up in conversations at my school and perhaps at yours as well. There are many people who believe that it is only necessary to be able to hunt and peck on a keyboard, just as there are many who believe that being able to print is sufficient. I'm not really going to get into that debate, although I will suggest that at some points students will be in high school or college, and the quicker they can type their 5-page papers, the happier they'll be. I'll also say that I absolutely hated typing class in both 8th grade and business college.

Luckily, there are plenty of web sites that teach typing, and I'm sure most of them try to make it fun. A simple search of keyboarding for kids brings up a list of web sites. My own 4th grade students liked Dance Mat Typing, but it requires flash and is really more suited for children who are at home, as opposed to those competing with an entire school for access to limited computer bandwidth. The site is produced by BBC, but my students enjoyed listening to the accent.

Learning Games for Kids has a number of different keyboarding games. For example, Homekey Kenneys has a sort of whack-a-mole concept in which the player types a homerow key to eliminate the little guys.

I have only looked for tutorials with QWERTY keyboards, but I'm sure there must be other types out there as well.

If you have another keyboarding site you like, please leave a note in the comments! Thanks!

Thursday's Teacher In The News: Larry Brookhart

Originally, the Thursday Teacher spot was going to highlight a teacher's blog. The thing is, though, that there are huge numbers of awesome teachers but not huge numbers of blogs. There are also other web sites that collate those blogs. You can click here to find teacher blogs, because I do want you to have access to them.

Instead, this space on Thursdays will be devoted to teachers in the news. Teachers and other readers don't often have the time or inclination to be searching the internet for such information when they have so many other things to do. Nevertheless, there are a lot of cool people out there doing a lot of cool things. I hope to introduce you to some of them!

Our first Teacher in the News is Larry Brookhart, an elementary school teacher on Cape Cod. As the article shows, he and Tom Leach created an observatory and classroom out of a storage room. This project doesn't just benefit the students at the Harwich Elementary School; local residents have enjoyed looking through the powerful telescopes as well.

Please read the article, and as always, feel free to leave comments below (including ideas for other teachers in the news). Thanks!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Monday Resource: Graphic Organizers

Happy Fourth of July! It's summer, that time of year when I bookmark sites so that I can find them when school starts and I don't have a lot of time to be hunting around. So today begins our first Monday Resource. I hope you find it helpful!

The one thing I spend the most time doing research on is finding graphic organizers. I am not the type of person to decide that one version of a story map, a spider web, and a Venn diagram will meet all of my needs and be the perfect fit for all of my students. I am extremely aware of the fact that there are different sorts of thinkers with different needs. For example, I am a linear thinker. That means that things like lists and the Cornell Notes template are perfect for me. But they're not for everyone.

Imagine my delight when I found the graphic organizers at They have pages and pages of free, downloadable (and printable) graphic organizers. According to the sidebar, they have numerous other resources as well. The wide variety of graphic organizers makes this site's materials useful for any age, including college students. Students in any setting can download any of these themselves to meet their own study needs.

The sidebar also shows journal topics, which are divided into categories including Creative Response and Values.

Please leave a note in the comments below if you found a particular graphic organizer you liked, a particular resource from, or you have links to share for other graphic organizer sites that you like!

Thanks for stopping by!

The Plan, v.1

I am participating in A Round of Words in 80 Days, and one of my goals is to create a written plan for each of my blogs.

This blog is the least used of my "blogging" blogs (we won't count the tons of WordPress blogs that I have whose original intents are long forgotten!). My other two blogs are Pawny's Pen for writings, and the somewhat-abandoned Desert Duck, for boring life stuff.

I think my original intent of this blog was to write about teaching, share ideas, talk about my own philosophies, etc. I find that talking about what I think makes me think about what I do. Metacognition stuff. I also know that I have looked for teacher blogs myself. I look for ideas, of course, but I also want to "visit with" other teachers. What are they doing? Thinking? What works? What are their ups and downs? Because the teachers in Snarkyville are so isolated from each other (and we don't want to talk about school stuff on FB, there's no real professional support.

At the same time, I want a blog that's interactive. I want teachers and parents and other readers to have an avenue to communicate and to be glad they stopped by. I want a blog with resources. I appreciate resources aimed at classroom teachers as well as those aimed at homeschoolers, and have used both. But I hate using search engines because I often end up with links to pay sites.

So, keeping in mine what I do with my other blogs or want to do, I will start with this rough draft plan:

Mondays I will provide information about one teacher resource site. If it's a pay site, or pay with some free stuff, I'll say so. I can do these ahead of time and schedule their posting. This will provide weekly information, especially for new teachers or teachers new to the web.

Thursdays I would like to visit web sites by teachers (just as I have my Wednesday Visit on Pawny's Pen). I remember some really awesome sites, even if they didn't match the grade level I taught. But I would like to share what other teachers out there are doing.

Weekends (Saturday or Sunday), I'll write about my own teaching journey -- my own news from Snarkyville.

My question to you: If you were a teacher, parent, or other visitor to this site, what sort of content and features would you be looking for?