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

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

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 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:

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 and then for each child add + and their code/pattern: 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!