"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body"
~ Richard Steele ~

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Flattened Classroom Presentation

It has been a month since I completed an entry which is definitely a poor practice on my part. Starting a new charter school is a lot of work and time. The challenges that come with the job are exciting but time is always my enemy.

I have recently been working on a presentation for a Slate conference Dec. 4, 2012. It is on "Flattening Classrooms". Connecting globally is an exciting opportunity for students. I am just starting down this path and have a lot to learn but I am very passionate about bringing the world into the classroom. All the information I will be sharing can be found on the this wiki. I am thankful to the many people who have guided me on this adventure. If you have not followed Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay, I highly suggest you begin this moment. They are continually looking for ways to help others learn how to collaborate globally and freely share their vast information.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

AWSA Presentation

On Tues, the Catalyst staff will be presentation at the AWSA on how we implemented the flipped approach into Catalyst Charter Middle School. We have adapted this approach to meet our blended style. Below is a link to the wiki with all the information from the presentation. It is basically a flipped lesson on how to start this approach.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Cool Cat Teacher Blog: 10 Ways to Listen More. Talk Less. Teach Well.

Vicki Davis wrote an amazing blog entry today about listening. This is often a skill that is lost in conversation because we are busy thinking about our next comment. Listening demonstrates respect, which is mention daily in my classes. Thanks, Vicki, for sharing your thoughts.

Cool Cat Teacher Blog: 10 Ways to Listen More. Talk Less. Teach Well.: "Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you'd have preferred to talk." Doug Larson So often, people don't hear w...

Monday, October 1, 2012

Digital Citizenship

Digital Citizenship is an important skill that needs to be taught in school. All our students are very active digitally, but do not always understand the responsibility that comes with it. Student take classes to learn to drive but they are generally not required to take a class in using a digital device.

Digital citizenship encompasses a wide area of topics from digital literacy to digital netiquette. Students need to be taught the necessary skills when communicating digital.

Below are resources I have used this year.

Brain Pop has some basic videos on digital citizenship along with activities to teach vocabulary connected with the topic.

Common Sense is a collection of lessons and videos on this topic. Excellent materials and current videos on various areas relating to digital citizenship.

I belong to an Edmodo group that shared some of their own resources. Cajon Valley School District shared their page of resources.

Google and Youtube teamed up to do an excellent series of called Curriculum: Understanding YouTube & Digital Citizenship. This is a well-organized series that worked well when we did a tech boot camp. 

I know I will be coming back to this topic several times this year to review important practices.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Power Searching in Google

Just saw a post about power searching in Google. I believe this is a skill we need to instruct our students in. Many do not know how to use the advanced features to search, especially when it comes to images that are considered Creative Commons. Google Power Searching Class This looked interesting.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Google Drive and Documents

Yes, I like Google Apps. There are times when they do not do everything I want, but in education it make a lot of sense to use Google. Student have access to the program no matter what device they are on. They can save and find their documents at home and it is easy to share with others.

I have followed Richard Byrne's blog and below I embedded an excellent resource on Google Drive and Document.
Google Drive and Docs for Teachers 2012

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Teaching 6-Traits Using Mentor Texts

Mentor texts are a valuable source when teaching 6-traits. Students need the process modeled  continuously and children's books are excellent tools for this strategy. This PDF resource lists the traits by categories and list books for modeling of each one. I hope to keep this list handy when I am looking for a books to use as a mentor text.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Book Trailers

Book trailers are an amazing way to connect students to books. The biggest barrier I have found in getting students to read is finding a "good" book. Usually, I will do book talks for the class or give a brief overview before sending students to the library. There are, however, many great book trailers out there to start. Two can be seen below.

Here is a link to a blog that continually adds trailers. 

I hope to start a section on my Google site that will have trailers for students to check out when they need a "good" book. My bigger goal, is to do my own trailers for students of favorites that I have read and loved. An even bigger goal, is to have posters on the walls with QR codes that will take students to the trailers. This is part of the approach I hope to take with a flipped lessons. So many goals and ideas floating around in my head to meet the needs of students.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Learned a new tool for making webquests that I am loving. Zunal is an easy site that allows you to add photos, videos, texts, links, rubrics..everything I needed to do a project.

It had an easy learning curve and took me longer to make the this one because I late discovered things I could do that I didn't know at first. It is very organized and lets you add both interactive items like videos and links as well as directions for students to follow. You are allowed only one webquest to make for free before upgrading but it is worth the small fee.

Also, there are a lot of interesting and useful webquests that are a great addition to my bag of tricks to use in the classroom.

Sunday, July 29, 2012


Each day more opportunities arise in my PLN. Lately, I have been spending  a lot of time trying to learn new skills and enhance my knowledge base. It seems that every time I think I have a handle on something, a new approach, strategy or research comes along. I guess that is what makes me a life-long learner.

Today, I found out about several FREE virtual conferences. They offer the ability to learn wherever you are. No need to travel which helps with the budget issues and I did say "free".  Be sure to check these out and add them to your calendar.  

Learning 2.0 (http://www.learning20.com)
August 20 - 24, 2012

Check out the list of topics as well connecting globally with other.

Library 2.012 (http://www.library2012.com)
October 3 - 5, 2012

The Global Education Conference (http://www.globaleducationconference.com)
November 12 - 16, 2012

Sunday, July 15, 2012

What is you PLN?

I love to learn. The problem is time. It keeps getting in my way. So, I need to limit myself on how much time I spend on the internet reading new topics and researching interested approaches that I can bring back to the classroom.

One blog that I follow is  Cool Cat Teacher because I find new gems about flattening my classroom and collaborating with others. Today Julie has put together a great package of ideas about the Ipad that I need to spend some time reviewing. I attended a meal with her while I was at ISTE and had the opportunity to ask how she was able to maintain a blog, Facebook and tweet at the same time. She said she scheduled it into her day along with other essentials like exercise. Smart woman!  I think she knows what she is doing. Time can be easily lost wandering the internet. I need to start to put this into my plan of action as well.

Another great blogger I follow is Richard Byrne.  Richard continually finds ideas and strategies for using technology. I have used many of his ideas. His posts offer ways to integrate technology into the classroom.

What I appreciate about these two bloggers is the way they organize their blogs. Yes, I love to see things in neat lists with headings. I also love it when the ideas can be applied to my classes. It is definitely a win-win situation following two exceptional educators.

If you haven't started to expand you PLN, start with just a couple of great bloggers. Try to keep it simple when you start or you will be overwhelmed by too much information.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Real People

ISTE was amazing. The energy found at this event just added to my own excitement. There were so many talented people there with innovative ideas that I didn't know where to start. One of the most exciting events was presenting at the Flattening the Classroom Poster table. Earlier in the year I became a Flat Classroom Certified Teacher. This experience opened my eyes to the opportunities in the world for my students. Working with with Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay was amazing. To meet them in person was the icing on the cake. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

ISTE Coming Up

Has been an exciting summer so far and school only ended a week ago. Summer school started this week and classes have gotten off to a wonderful start. It takes a few days to get into a schedule but today students were introduced to Kidsblog. This collaborative tool offered students an opportunity to reflect on what they have read independently as well as demonstrate their understanding of reading strategies that have been modeled in class. Achieve 3000 is also a new software program that is being piloted in reading class to strengthen non-fiction reading. Looks like it will be an effective means to monitor growth.

A new "Flipped Lesson" video was uploaded today to the Flipped Learning site. This lesson models using "visualization" to determine importance in a non-fiction article. The image is linked below.

Another exciting event coming up this week is ISTE. I have never been to this event  before and cannot even imagine what I will experience. I am anxious to see others that I have either gotten to know through blogs or twitter. I received an e-mail from the Flat Classroom innovators, Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsey yesterday. They wanted Flat Classroom Certified teachers to help with the poster session they are doing. I am honored to be a part of this experience. My flat classroom project was on a small scale but hopefully I can inspire others to start their own project.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Trying a new adventure...Flipping a lesson. I am in the early stages of this plan. My first roadblock was trying to figure out how to do a video for modeling reading strategies. I wanted to demonstrate the process of "determining importance". First, I needed to find an article that was a PDF to upload to the app on Explain Everything for the Ipad. I still am not sure if this is the best route yet to modeling reading strategies, but I will continue to explore. The app was easy and the only glitch was how to look back and forth between areas on the sheet. I made the mistake of turning the Ipad, thinking I could view the document in landscape. The problem was that the video ended up sideways. After several hours of trial and error...I embedded the video on my google site.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Non-Fiction Blog

Non-fiction reading is a hot topic and has been for some time now. Students need a balance of fiction and non-fiction to be well-rounded, critical readers. I found a blog, Non-Fiction Detectives that give excellent examples and resources for any teacher of reading. I realize that some of the posts may be for elementary but these are prime examples to use in the middle school when modeling strategies
.The Nonfiction Detectives

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Glogster has been a learning experience for both students and myself. We used Chromebooks to do the project. Sometimes the videos work and other times we struggled. We didn't know if it was a network setting or the application. Overall, this program did an excellent job at offering a variety of tools that met our needs. We were able to add videos (with a little tweaking), text, images and links.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Flipped Classroom

Flipped Classroom

Created by Knewton and Column Five Media

Read to Learn

As I begin to plan for summer school, I continue to research how I can best meet the needs of the middle school readers. I just read the Read to Lead  Task Force Report. Research shows that intervention needs to happen early...even before students start school. That leaves me to wonder where I can fit into this puzzle. There is no room for blame when it comes to RTI. It is all about taking the data and running with it. My hopes, this summer, is to make a difference in each of the students that cross my path in summer school. 


Recently, I have discovered Pinterest. Being a "yellow" when it comes to organization, I am loving this board for organizing my thoughts, links, and images. It is an easy tool to use and makes it even easier to find something you saved. Being a visual learner, this has worked well for me. There is an easy help section to get you started. Start pinning!

Friday, May 18, 2012


Starting a new adventure....Glogster
In social studies we will be studying South America. I was looking for a new way for students to demonstrate their understanding. So far I am liking how they can easily record their thoughts on this program. The second challenge will be to do it with Chromebooks. More to follow.