Tuesday, April 14, 2009

So, I was looking for a unique way to publish our latest Book of the Month responses and I happened upon this great site called Issuu (issue).
The process itself is VERY easy, with just a few quirks:
1. Create a document in Word, PowerPoint, Excel...
2. Make sure that it is JUST the way you want it, because once you download it to the site, you cannot change it. (This is one of those quirks.)
3. Sign-Up and Log-In to the site
4. On the HOME page, you'll find a box that says "Upload a Document"- click there
5. Find the document on your computer and enter in all the defining information
6. Hit Upload
7. Wait for the document to be converted by Issuu
8. Soon it will be on your published shelf
9. Now click MORE, then CUSTOMIZE and EMBED
10. This is where you can choose options for presenting it... size, one-page vs. two-pages, auto flip?, background...
11. Everytime you make a change in your choices, it changes the embed code. When you have it just the way you want it, then you can copy the code and post it on your blog or website.
12. Back to that quirk- once you publish it, if you see an error- sometimes the font was changed some on mine- you must adjust your original document and then go through the whole process again.

Side Note- A plus of this site is you can search through a database of all their online publications! Happy reading! :)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Mail Merge - Patricia Wallace

Before I begin, let me first state that I am deeply honored to be selected as a 'Geek'. I am still in the learning stage of my craft as an educator and am very fortunate to be in an environment that encourages learning and sharing of ideas and then kind of doing an ‘a-la-carte’ to tweak new information and strategies to fit your needs and style. I must admit that as a ‘newbie’ to Chets, I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to give something back to our community by having something to share that I think will be beneficial to all who chose to use it.

So let’s begin… What is mail merge? Mail merge is kind of an ‘old school’ technology tool available in MS Word. It is a merge of your data stored in MS Excel or MS Access into a Word document (i.e. labels, letters, brochures, etc.)

There are many videos and tutorials available on the internet on how to use mail merge. The help with MS Word has demos available as well. Here are my 'basic' instructions...

What are some of the different ways I’ve used mail merge? Throughout the year, I use mail merge for customizing my student's labels. Also, I use mail merge for progress reports. And when the time comes, I most definitely use mail merge for diagnostics letters home to parents.

Why do I love to use mail merge? My kids love to see things customized for them. Mail merge is a great tool that allows me to individualize labels and letters home such as progress reports or diagnostics letters. I setup one individual, and then mail merge will automatically setup all other 60 students with a click of a button. No more do I need to first print off all my labels or letters then hand write each student’s information. What an awesome way to save time!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

SMART Board Uses Within the Classroom

When I think about what you can do with a SMART Board the words ANYTHING and EVERYTHING come to mind. Anything that you would do or write on your whiteboard could be done using the SMART Board and you would look so much smarter doing it on the SMART Board. I really consider myself a novice when it comes to everything that a SMART Board can do, but what I have learned to do has really been on a trial and error basis. With anything new, especially technology, it just takes time to play around with things to figure them out and that's pretty much how I have learned to do what I know how to do on the SMART Board.

How I see it is whatever you normally write or do on your whiteboard, you could do using a SMART Board and have it instantly saved to your computer. Here are a few ways in which I use the SMART Board within my classroom:

During Skills Block we use the SMART Board to play educational games online.

During Reader's Workshop, we have used the SMART Board to work on our test taking strategies and practice taking sample comprehension assessments.

During Writer's Workshop, you can use the SMART Board to edit student writing.

During Math and Science you can also use the SMART Board to play any interactive games or present information to your students. The SMART Board is simply a great tool that you can use to enhance your teaching and get your kids really excited about learning.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Personal Learning Networks (PLNs)--Suzanne Shall

Learning networks are not a new phenomenon, but they are drastically changing due to global connectivity. Unlike the localized teacher learning networks of the past that heavily relied on face to face correspondence with colleagues across the hallway, today's learning networks provide teachers with the opportunity to collaborate with peers around the world. They are rapid, in real time, 24/7, and free. This diverse network has teachers connecting, collaborating, and contributing through the use of many PLN tools. Alec Courosa's diagrams give you the visual for comparing the changing PLNs.

Today's networked teacher is a life-long self-directed learner who seeks to be a contributor and producer rather than just a consumer. This two-way street allows them to get and to give, to construct their own knowledge and provide to the knowledge of others. You can see that the networked teacher does not forgo typical teacher tools like collaborating with colleagues and digital resources, rather embraces those and adds a plethora of new tools to their bag of tricks.

At Chets, our vision for this year has been to immerse ourselves into as many PLN tools as possible to move from being typical to networked. Many have embraced PLN tools like classroom blogs, grade level wikis, digital photo sharing, google docs, and social networking sites to embark on this journey. We know that we have only begun the journey to connect, collaborate, and contribute, but we are proud of our accomplishments.

Like always, we continue to share our practice with others. We host on average close to 400 educators annually at CCE. They come from across our nation to tour our school, watch classroom instruction, rummage through our student work in portfolios, read our standards based bulletin boards, take notes on our rituals and routines, and capture through photographs our artifacts. We debrief their observations, discuss our professional development, and talk with them about our communication. Because of our change from typical PLNs to networked PLNs, we also spend a part of our day on digital connections. We teach them how to access our blogs, wikis, and webpages, and we introduce them to our Setting the Standard ning. We invite them to be part of our PLN so that when they walk away from our school, they can continue to connect and collaborate with us. With these easily accessible PLN tools, we are contributing to their professional learning, in turn, impacting the children they teach. In this global society where connectivity reins, one has no option but to become a networked teacher, or fear being left behind. I am thankful that we openly embrace the change. I encourage each CCE teacher to continue to connect, collaborate, and contribute. And, if you want to learn more about building your PLN, visit http://sites.google.com/site/buildingapln/.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Connecting Online to Support a Cause - Laurie Thomson

We are SO excited about the upcoming relay that will be held at Chets Creek! Now, we know we are all a part of the CCE team through supporting fundraisers and walking at the event. But, don't you want others to know that you are on the team too? Don't you want to brag to your family and friends about the great things you are doing to support your school?

If you do, then you are ready to "officially" join our Chets Creek Relay for Life Team! Follow these simple directions below to see how you can become a known member of our relay walking team.


1) Visit this website www.relayforlife.org/intracoastalfl

2) Look on the right side of the page for TOP TEAMS. Click on Chets Creek.

3) Look in the middle of the page for JOIN OUR TEAM. Click it.


5) Scroll down and set your fundraising goal. It can be ANY amount! Raising $100 gets you a free t-shirt on relay day. Then, click NEXT STEP.

6) Choose NEW USER. Then, click NEXT STEP.

7) Contact Information: Fill out the information it asks for. Leave anything blank that you do not know the answer to. Write down your USER NAME and PASSWORD, so you won't forget it. Then, click NEXT STEP.

8) Waiver: Click at the bottom to agree. Then, click NEXT STEP.

9) Now, just review your information and click COMPLETE REGISTRATION.

Congratulations! You are a registered member of our team! Now, the fun part can begin. This website can be extremely helpful for a lot of reasons. Some of the things I am going to teach you about are personalizing your page and sending out emails. First, personalizing your page...

1) Visit this website www.relayforlife.org/intracoastalfl

2) Use your USER NAME and PASSWORD (that you created during registration) to log in.

3) Look in the top right corner for MY PARTICIPANT CENTER. Click.

4) Scroll down and look int middle of the page for FIRST, EDIT YOUR PERSONAL PAGE. Click.

5) Look for number one and under it there is the link EDIT THE ENGLISH VERSION OF THIS PAGE. Click.

6) Once you are there you can add a picture and add your own personal reason to relay. Make sure to SAVE MY CHANGES.

Your personal page should be ready to go now. Here is how you send out emails to family and friends to let them know about this great cause and how they can help...

1) Go back to MY PARTICIPANT CENTER. Scroll down and look for number two. Click on EMAIL YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS.

2) Scroll down and look for SOLICIT GIFTS. Click on INITIAL ASK FOR DONATION.

3) Now you can add in email addresses to send the letter to. Family, friends, neighbors, anyone you think might want to support the cause. You can even personalize the letter (it is at the bottom). By making it personal, people might be more willing to give. :)

4) At the bottom, press SEND. You will know it went through if it says, THANK YOU! YOUR EMAIL HAS BEEN SENT.

Thank you for taking the time to support such a great cause and such a great school! We are counting down the days until the relay...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Using Video in Voicethread by Debby Cothern and Michelle Ellis

We first set out to learn how to use our new Flip Video camera a few of our wonderful parents gave us for Christmas. We immediately when to Maria and Cheryl's blog post for the Flip Video We followed their directions and upload a video onto our computer.

Next we wanted to turn our video into a movie, so we then went to Rachel's blog post on Windows Movie Maker. We took our video and add a title, and video transitions. Once completed we resaved the movie.

Finally we needed some way to embed it on our class blog. We tried a few different online companies but we were not successful. So we remembered Debbie Harbour doing the break out session on using Voicethread. We knew she only used snapshots and student voices but after talking with Melaine she said yes, it should work. So we opened Voicethread and made an educator's account. We then clicked on "create". Once it sent us to the new screen it gave us the promte to upload, we upload the video from our computer, from the movie maker folder. You double click on the movie you want, and it will upload the movie.

When you are done uploading the movie, you will click on the "embed" button on the bottom of the screen. On the embed screen, you will see a box with a code. Click on the code and it will highlight and you press copy. Your final step is to copy that code into your blog post. Below you will see a powerpoint of computer screens you will see when following these directions. Adding videos onto your blog is an important way for you to share information with your parents.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Motivating Student Bloggers - Ashley Russell & Beth Young

Student Blogs have been a really great addition to our classroom practices. Blogs are a great way to get kids INDEPENDENTLY working on expressing themselves and reflecting on their lives. All the while they are learning to word process, access the web, and other "basic" computer skills. (I say "basic;" because even though there are many adults today who have no idea how to manuever around the web or even what a blog is, it is a landmark element of our lifestyle these days- proffessionally and socially!) With that said, the following are some tips for starting a class of student blogs and strategies we've used to keep them movtivated in their blogging.

(Not as complicated as you think! :) )

We used http://www.edublogs.org/ to give all our students individual blogs. This site is designed for this purpose so they have very clear directions to help teachers out. They also have a fabulous feature that allows the teacher to have administrative access to each blog along with the student.

TIP 1: Use the tutorials by Edublogs to help you: http://edublogs.org/eduvideos/blogusercreator.swf

TIP 2- Create a code/pattern for logins and passwords that allow you to keep track easily. For example, all of our kids were given their initials + class number + ccekid .

TIP 3- Eliminate the need for each child to have an email or to have to use a parent's email. Edublogs give you directions for using YOUR gmail email to give each child a pseudo email. All you do is take your email like myemailaddress@gmail.com and then for each child add + and their code/pattern: myemailaddress+sc15ccekid@gmail.com Any mail for them comes to your email. The nice thing is that there isn't anything that they need from the emails. They will get comment updates, but they can be taught to check those for themselves within the blog dashboard.


1. Introduce the idea of blogging as an exciting opportunity and relay to students the real privilege that it is. We pumped them up for a few weeks before we even gave them out: "We are looking for responsible students who we can trust with a blog..." We also used our blogs as examples for inspiration: "Who would like to have their very own blog like Miss Russell and I?"

2. Take the time to educate the whole class on what a blog is and all of its capabilities.

3. Give students the tools to be independent, instead of being frustrated and having to rely on an adult. For this purpose I typed up detailed instructions for the children and then went through them with the entire class. I also set up a few of my more independent thinking students up with blogs ahead of time, allowing them the opportunity to get ahead of their peers on the learning curve. Then it was these students who helped me to support the rest of the class when they received their blogs.

4. We got a great idea from Chascin and Rice about having Tech Tuesday Lunch Bunches. Students were invited to come to lunch bunch on Tuesdays to learn a new "trick" if they blogged a certain number of times during the week. This is where I taught them how to add pictures, tags, links, check comments...

5. I would give notes with the directions for a Tech Tuesday Lesson, again allowing students to be more independent and allowing parents to support at home if needed.

6. We have students journal regularly for homework. They have to "quick-write" for five minutes, not putting their pencil down, writing ANYthing that comes to mind on a topic I've given them or sometimes a topic of their choice (which we brainstormed ideas for and later they could use for their blogging as well). We then upgraded the challenge. We said you could, in lieu of writing, blog for ten minutes straight instead. This was the main way we got kids engaged in their blogs! They had an excuse to get on and something to 'jump start' their thinking.

7. I (Beth) created a post for my students that included samples from different student blogs and comments that showed different options and ideas for blogging and how to comment well. This was a great tool, especially because it was based on the students' work- work that I found they were already doing well! :)

The KEY Ingredient to Motivating:


If you comment on a child's blog, you are then validating their work and they see it as a very personal type of encouragement from their teacher! Let's face it, our words go a loooooooong way with each child. When I comment, I also then try to offer them insight as to what I, as the reader, would like to see them write about next and what I really felt they did well in the post. It pays off! Check out Trinity's post on her new hermit crab and my comment with suggestions and then read her reaction to my post!

A great tool to keep up with all your student blogs (32 in our case!!) is to use Google Reader.

Check out some of our student bloggers:


Try it out! You'll find the rewards are greater than the effort it takes to create and maintain!

-Beth Young and Ashley Russell

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Google Earth - Toni Chant

Ok, so if you were to ask my husband about my geographical abilities, he would probably (but kindly) agree with me when I say I am, at times, geographically challenged (GC). I know, that's not very good for a sailor, but that's why I married a geographer. Anyway, if you keep sailing you are bound to hit land sometime! :-)

That reminds me of when I was a kid and had to learn about geography. Aside from the fact that English is my "third" language, anyone who has seen "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" might attest to the idea that Greeks think about family and food first. Thus, my parents were never really good at navigation either.

A hard and cold reality was established when I was nine. My brother and I were sent ahead to Los Angeles, California to live with our dad until my mother could join us. On the flight there, my brother was chatting with another passenger and I overheard my brother say that we were moving to L.A. "What, we're moving to Louisiana?" I muttered. I guess memorization of the 50 states and their initials did not serve me well.

Here we are -- many, many years later -- and this wonderful thing called the Net is available to us. With it comes a plethora of resources and opportunities to help those of us who are GC. One such resource is
Google Earth.

Google Earth has taken my students and I on many virtual adventures. We have explored hometowns, favorite theme parks, and constellations, just to name a few of our highlights. We have also watched as day breaks in our part of the world. We explored the origins of
natural resources and the products that emanate from them. We have traveled around the world as we learned about how others celebrate their holidays. Most recently, due to the cold weather, the topic of manatees and their need to migrate to warm water was examined.

So, what can Google Earth do for you? Click on the link to see the latest and greatest options available to teachers as the world comes alive, spins and whirls at the click of the mouse.
What's New in Google Earth 5.0

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Using a Wiki to Support a Grade Level - dayle timmons

Wikis are collaborative web pages. The most well-known of course, is Wikipedia. The idea is that everyone can contribute and add to the common knowledge.

Wikis have lots of uses. For first grade, we was looking for a way to house all of the Resources that are used by first grade. We decided on a wiki because we wanted all of the teachers on the grade level to add to the combined knowledge.

The idea of a Resource Book for the grade level is not new. Years ago we created a three ring binder of paper copies of resources, but, over the years, notebooks disappeared and if a teacher wasn't organized about putting in new pieces, soon some notebooks had things others didn't. Next we tried using the shared file at school which worked for files, but didn't really have the capacity for video, links, blogs, etc. Besides it was not online. If you were working at home, the files were not available.

The first grade wiki houses links to reasources such as books, files created by teachers, videos, photo and slide shares, web sites and blogs. Teachers still need to get in the habit of adding things as they create and find them. However, I think as they begin to use and depend on it more and more, the wiki will become part of what we just do as a way to share and collaborate. For the first grade wiki, all teachers that teach first grade at Chets Creek will have access as an author and collaborator of the site. It is open to the public to review but the public does not have access to edit. While we could have opened it up to everyone for editing, we decided to hold the editing for now, to just our community. Take a look and tell us what you think!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Blackboard - Karen Meissner

My “Blackboard Journey” began after receiving an official e-mail notifying me of my Out-of-Field Status for ESOL. In a “state of panic” I registered for my very first online class through the Schultz Center.

On November 17th, I arrived at the first mandatory session at the Schultz Center with filled with anxiety about taking the class due to my limited knowledge of technology. The facilitator had us log onto the Schultz Center’s website (http://schultzcenter.org/) and instructed us to click on Distance Learning and click on Blackboard. She then instructed us to sign on with our user name and gave us the “password.” She instructed us to click on ESOL-Applied Linguistics-Fall 08-Cohort 2. This was all happening very quickly and, being the “technically challenged” person that I am, I was barely keeping up as she went through the Blackboard “menu items.” I remember her talking about how to add a “thread” on the Discussion Board (and thank goodness the word “thread” stuck in my mind or I would have never been able to post my first response). I was totally overwhelmed, but quickly wrote down the due date for the Modules and kept telling myself that I had to do this to fulfill the ESOL requirement.

The next weekend, when I logged on to check it out, I immediately knew I was in over my head. The “Welcome Karen” page offered Quick Tutorials for using Blackboard, but I didn’t even know where to begin and had faith that someone at Chets could help me figure it out the next day. So on Monday afternoon I logged on again and called K.K. for help. She was busy and told me to walk across to Melanie’s office. And so, within the next 30 or so minutes I had walked back and forth to Melanie’s office three times with her coming to my aid each time. Melanie quickly taught me to use the “menu” to “navigate” in the Blackboard program (and it is called the “Navigation Bar,” not “menu”). She showed me how to “widen” the text so that I could read it on my “old” laptop without maneuvering the arrows (and this was especially helpful when I learned to print the materials so the words weren’t “chopped” off). Then she helped me with Discussion Board by helping me find the “thread” and showing me how to click, drag & highlight text for copying and pasting from the instructions to the thread message box. Besides showing me how to navigate, the most useful thing that Melanie taught me was to just “do it” and not be afraid to “click” on something to check it out.

Other friends who’ve been helpful to me and have mentored me on my “Blackboard Journey” are Michelle Nelson and Toni Chant. They both have helped me learn to print just about everything from Module pages, to documents, to assignments. Toni even showed me how to print a Course Map (it has all the course info and folder contents—AWESOME! I just wish I would have understood it all a little sooner.). By no means do I deserve to be a “Geek from the Creek,” but I have learned so-o-o-o much since that November 17th class. And, as I currently work on Module 4 (out of six) of the course with the unending help, support and patience from my peers, family and facilitator, I know I’m going to finish this course and be at the last meeting at the Schultz Center on February 23rd. If you need help don’t hesitate to ask any of the before-mentioned people—just kidding!—I’m eager to help someone else! Happy Navigating!

Karen’s Blackboard Bullets:
“Welcome Page”: To access your course Click on it in the My Courses box.
Navigation Bar: It’s found on the left side of your screen (the folders are brown rectangles).
Announcements: Click on the View All tab so you don’t miss anything posted by the facilitator.
Syllabus: Course requirements and an “assignments due dates” sheet are found in this folder.
Pre-Test and Post: There may or may not be anything in this folder, as it is my understanding that these are used at the discretion of individual facilitators.
Module Folders: The assignments and necessary materials (documents, power points, movies, etc.) are found in these folders.
Discussion Board: Click on this folder for complete instructions and to add a response. The Thread icon is found in the top left corner to add a response. After you type your response in the Message box you can then choose to Cancel, Save, or Submit. If you choose Save to edit your draft later, click on the Display box arrow to Show All and click Go to find your draft.
ESOL Resources: This folder is filled with ESOL strategies, websites, and lesson plans.
Communication: This folder has different tools for communicating in it. (I haven’t had a need to use it so far.)
Bb Tools: This folder is where you access your grades for the course you are taking. It also contains the actual Blackboard Academic Suite User Manual and other organizational tools.
Bb Support: This folder has the needed Plug-In Links to view multimedia content and the needed technical requirements to complete this course. And some additional help for opening and saving PDF or ZIP files.
Tools: This small box under the Navigation Bar contains a Course Map that when you click Expand All gives you a complete view of all folders and their contents. I found this helpful to have a visual of all the assignments in the Modules and Discussion Board.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Scrapblogging - Julia Lewis

I am notorious in my family for collecting thousands of dollars worth of scrapbooking materials...but never actually scrapbooking! While browsing blogs to get ideas to "beautify" my blog last summer, I came across digital scrapbooking on http://www.scrapblog.com/. I spent an entire day playing with the site and creating my first digital scrapbook! There are several different things you can do on the site:
1. Create a digital scrapbook including pictures and/or videos

2. Create a calendar
3. Create an image to use for things like newsletter headers, blog headers, a sign, etc.
4. Make holiday cards

I am sure there are other useful tools that I have not yet discovered on the website!

To get any of the projects started:
  1. Go to www.scrapblog.com and create a FREE account so that you can save your projects.
  2. Click "create new scrapblog."
  3. You can then choose whether you want to start with a theme or with a blank page. If you choose a theme, you can still add to it or delete objects and pictures already on it.
  4. Next, upload the photos or videos you want to use by selecting where you want to take the images/videos from. Then select the images or videos and click "upload."
  5. You are then free to create! You can choose from hundreds of stickers, backgrounds, and frames. To add anything to your scrapblog project, you simply click and drag!
  6. You will want to click "save" every now and again. After you click "save," it will ask you if you want to publish it. Click "no" to continue working on it, or "yes" if you are done. (If you want to save your work as an image, click on "file" then "Export as JPEG."
  7. After you have published your scrapblog, it will ask you if you want to share it now. Click "yes, share now," then click on "copy and paste" to get the html code to embed into your blog! If you choose "share elsewhere" then "Blogger," scrapblog.com will automatically put your scrapblog on your blog!
There is a quick video that shows you the basics of how to get startedunder the "quick tour" section! There are more detailed videos under the "Get Crafty" section.

I will warn you that this can be highly addictive! If you have any questions, feel free to ask me!