Thursday, April 26, 2007

Lesson Planner

Writing lesson plans can be tedious.

Don't get me wrong. Creating lesson ideas is a fantastic process! And thoughtful planning is a key to successful implementation. But, finding the standards, typing the standards either full text or with some 'secret' code, delineating the process in either prose or steps, recording materials needed, resources available, homework, reteaching, and assessment can be tedious.

But, my life is suddenly easier . . .and yours may be, too, if you use This is a great FREE tool. Register and start planning or borrowing plans from others. There is a simple "double-click" process to select appropriate standards from your state. There are save, email, and print options. The template is easy to use and has standard word processing editing tools available.

Give it a try, I think you'll like it.

I've inserted a lesson I wrote up using
Time: 30-45 minu
Teacher : Deborah White
School: Asa C. Adams School
Grade: 2
Subject: Reading/Language Arts
Unit/Theme/Skill: An Innovation on "Little Cloud" by Eric Carle
Standards Taught:
ME 2 Rd - A.1 Seek out and enjoy experiences with books and other print materials.
ME 2 Rd - A.3 Make and confirm predictions about what will be found in a text.
ME 2 Rd - A.7 Ask questions and give other responses after listening to presentations by the teacher or classmates.
ME 2 Rd - B.2 Draw logical conclusions about what will happen next or how things might have turned out differently in a story.
ME 2 Rd - C Students will demonstrate an understanding of how words and images communicate. Students will be able to:
ME 2 Rd - D Students will apply reading, listening, and viewing strategies to informational texts across all areas of curriculum. Students will be able to:
ME 2 Rd - E.1 Tell about experiences and discoveries, both orally and in writing.
ME 2 Rd - E.2 Respond to stories orally and in writing.
ME 2 Rd - F Students will write and speak correctly, using conventions of standard written and spoken English. Students will be able to:
ME 2 Rd - F.1 Edit their own written work for standard English spelling and usage, as evidenced by pieces that show and contain: - complete sentences. - initial understanding of the use of pronouns and adjectives. - evidence of correct spelling of frequently used words. - few significant errors in the capitalization of proper nouns and of the words that begin sentences. - few significant errors in the use of end stop punctuation (e.g., periods, question marks).
ME 2 Rd - G.1 Dictate or write stories or essays which convey basic ideas, have sequences that make sense, and show evidence of a beginning, middle, and ending.


Read Little Cloud by Eric Carle. Engage the students in the reading of the book, soliciting observations and predictions. If a student doesn't make the connection between the book and the activity of cloud-watching, teacher should ask, Have you ever looked at clouds and noticed their shapes? Do the shapes ever remind you of anything? After this point has been made, teacher should ask the students if they are familiar with the word, drift. Help students clarify their definition. State: I like to imagine snow drifts are different things just like Eric Carle and I like to imagine clouds are different things. You are going to create a page for a class book called "Spring Snow". Your writing will follow Eric Carle's style in this book. Using the white board, the teacher will write, Spring Snow drifted. It changed into . . .(student completes sentence) Spring Snow liked . . . (student completes sentence).

But first you will gently tear a shape from the white construction paper to make your Spring Snow drift. (demonstrate) You turn it this way and that way until you see something in it. (demonstrate) Use your glue stick to glue your snow drift onto the brown paper. We will be making a book with your pages so please make sure you hold your paper this way. (demonstrate which way you want the children to hold the paper) Then you will use a marker to carefully write your sentences. On my page I am going to write . . .(demonstrate). Any questions?


Student may use keyboard for writing component.

Take dictation for the sentences.

Provide a personal model for desktop use for copying.

Assign a peer partner.

Notes & Materials:
\"Little Cloud\" by Eric Carle
white construction paper
brown construction paper
glue sticks
white board


Class Performance:

Teacher observation of final product including creativity of snow drift, adherence to format, use of rich descriptive words, correct spelling of known words, legible penmanship, correct sentence format.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Volunteers and Techies

Volunteers can make a program. Last night, 5 community members with Linux technical expertise met me at school to see if our recycled machines were dead. Great news, the tech-gurus not only got everything up and running, they taught me how to trouble shoot some basic issues!

Yes, I've begun that long journey to the tech side. Actually, it's not even close to that but, I have learned a few tricks of the trade. And if I can learn them, anyone can.

What I learned:

~how to reset the boot order
~how to reset the memory card
~how to disable the hard drive
~and most importantly . . .checking the cables

Pretty simple stuff, but a whole new level of skills for me. Tech people could train all of their users on the simple stuff. It takes patience on the techie's part, practice on the user's part, and a sincere belief on both sides that the user can't make the situation worse by trying some strategies.

You can do it!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

New Feature at Google Maps

Google Maps has just released a cool new feature for non-techies. Originally you had to be a programmer type if you wanted to create a mashup. (A mashup is when a web application allows users to develop new content by allowing some programming privliegds. Or at least that's the best that I can infer from perusing Wikipedia's definition.) Now, Google Maps has added user friendly tools so that people can create their own personalized maps. Maps can be created and have placemarks, lines and shapes, notes, photos, videos, and audio to them.

This has great potential as a classroom tool. Think of all the subjects that can be mapped and personalized with student research! I'm planning on using this with my first graders next September when we do our unit on "Our Community".

I did a quick map that you can look at here. My Town is just a quickie done to see how easy this tool is in reality. And it is easy. Let me know if you or your students make a map. I'd love to see the results.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

My new scrapblog


Have you discovered Scrapblog yet? Scrapblog is a cool, new web based application. It's a user friendly digital scrapbook. It's free. The finished Scrapblogs can be published privately and only accessed with a password or published publicly. They can also be printed. It's a great tool for classroom teachers and students that can integrate photos, videos, audio, and text into a finished book. The format is user-friendly. I found that uploading most, if not all, of the photos that I thought I might use all at once made the whole process seem speedier.

Just off the top of my head, I can see these being used to document field trips, project-based learnings, units of study, and reports of all kinds.

The post above has one I did to demonstrate some of Scrapblog's features. It was embedded from the Scrapblog site.

It's Budget Time!

It's that time of the year when most school budgets are in the process of being developed, presented to governing bodies and (hopefully) approved. Many of the costs of education are out of local control~heating, electricity, gas for buses, health insurance~to name a few. Fortunately, one area has a viable alternative. This alternative might not cut costs but it definitely will give a school more for their dollar. This alternative is (obviously) the use of Linux and Free and Open Source Software.

Besides saving money, the use of Open Source allows students (and some teachers) the opportunity to become more than just end users of a product. The opportunity to explore the technical side of an operating system and to tinker and tweak with software programs is a powerful educational tool and may be the carrot for a reluctant student.

Linux Insider posted an article today (04/03/07) by Lisa Hoover. Her article, Stretching the Education Dollar with Linux is a good overview of information about switching to Linux. It is a good article to share with administrators, technical folks, and yes, even classroom teachers. I appreciated the section that compared the different Linux distributions that are geared for education. Read the article. Share the article with the decision makers. You might end up with some very cool technology.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

My Session at FOSSED 2007

I will be presenting at FOSSED 2007. (Free and Open Source Software in Education)

Here is a description of the session.

"Ok, I've got Linux/Open Source in my what?"

This session is for non-technical classroom teachers. Other sessions might teach you about the applications that are available with a Linux Operating System. This one will help you learn to think about how to use the application to enhance your teaching. Get lesson plans and ideas that you can use in your classroom or in the computer lab to integrate technology with your everyday curriculum. (If you are a technical person who has to work with classroom teachers, this session might give you an insight into teacher-think.

FOSSED 2007 (Free and Open Source Software in Education Conference)

The FOSSED Conference for 2007 is open for registrations. (Free and Open Source Software in Education) It used to be called NELS (North East Linux Symposium). This is a much more descriptive title.

The conference was originally for those techie types. However, a few of those techies were actually classroom teachers in disguise. They quickly realized that teachers were an essential element for the successful adoption of Free and Open Source software. Consequently, they added a teacher track to their original Maine symposium. It was such a success that they quickly added a teacher track day to their New Hampshire symposium. This year, with the new and improved title, will have 3 locations-Gould Academy in Bethel Maine, June 19 -22, 2007, UNH in Durham, New Hampshire, July 8-11, and Gallaudet College in Washington, D.C., August 5-8 2007. This expansion demonstrates that the organizers, David Trask and Matt Oquist are amazing folks!

This conference should be a mandatory event for at least one classroom teacher in every school. The sheer amount of knowledge and skills and contacts that an attendee walks away with makes this an investment in the success of technology integration in classrooms. I attended last year and was impressed with presenters who were willing to share not only during defined sessions but also after hours in the dining hall, in the hallways, in the dorms, and in the local pubs. It was a 24/7 learning experience. It also changed how I use technology in my classroom. Instead of using it for mere drill and practice or publishing or beginning research, I know look at how technology can enhance everyday lessons, improve home/school/community communication, motivate and engage learners, broaden and deepen learning experiences, facilitate differentiation, in short, help me a much more effective classroom teacher. It also gave me some tools for talking with techie types as well as provided me with some perspective on the techie jobs.

Check out this conference! Come to this conference!
See you at this conference!