Monday, February 24, 2014

Example of an Interesting Infographic: Girl Scout Cookies (Thin Mints, Please!)

I've been asked a lot recently to buy girl scout cookies, so I began thinking, what is the most popular kind of girl scout cookie? Here's an infographic that shows some interesting things about the famous Girl Scout cookies. Which is your favorite? I say Thin Mints. But the coconut one is a close second :) 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Alternatives to Google Reader and RSS feeds

Wherever you see this icon, click to add the RSS feed
to your reader.
In the world of Google, there are many, many tools and options for us to use in school and in our daily lives. One great tool is called Google Reader, however, Google Reader has been discontinued. But before we go to alternatives, let's back up to what a "reader" is, exactly. Google Reader and any other "reader" tool allows you to "subscribe" to sites/blogs/news, etc and streamlines those sites into a custom "newspaper" type format for you to read. Instead of sifting through a bunch of garbage that you don't care about, these "readers" allow you to read about the news you want, check topics you care about, and be a more informed citizen in an efficient way. Since Google Reader has been discontinued, here is a list of great alternatives that allow you to subscribe to RSS feeds. (RSS feed is just what you use to subscribe to that site within your reader.)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Canva: A great option for creating Infographics

Canva is a great option for creating infographics. Infographics are just that: information and graphics. Students can put together the two elements to create a dynamic learning or review piece. Students can do this on paper but many students struggle with drawing, so their pictures are often times unrecognizable, which takes away from the learning. Using infographic makers online gives the students a much richer experience in creating a product. Students can use pictures off the internet to add a greater dynamic to the learning experience. Canva gives the students a wide variety of templates, options and capabilities in making an infographic. After registering for a free account, Canva guides you to choosing a template to get started. You can use a pre-made template or start from scratch. With your project open, you can design your canva/infographic with images from canva or uploading your own. You are given many different types and styles of text boxes to add information to your project. You can change the background and also add "pages" to your infographic so you can add more detail/information. Many other infographic sites limit your work to just one page. Canva gives you more space. 
Application for Education: Canva can be an online tool that your students use to show you what they know about a certain topc: Battle of Shiloh during the Civil War, character profile of Tris is from Divergent. Helpful tips and tricks to solving math problems, etc. As a teacher, you can also create your own and share them via the web for your students to benefit from. Sharing options include a link, and image, or a pdf.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Tablet Cart Day #2

Yesterday was the second day I had the tablet cart in my class. Things went very smoothly with the device. The students got logged on quickly, got to the project in a timely manner, and got to work. We were able to maximize our learning time because of the kinks we worked out the first day we had the tablets. There is no smooth/easy road when it comes to bringing in new devices into a school building. It takes time to figure everything out. Some problems do not come to light until the devices are in the hands of 30 students getting heavy use. The issues that occurred on my first day with the tablet cart were issues we had no idea about until the devices were put into action. When they were put into action, and we discovered some things that needed to be taken care of, we found solutions and resolved the issues. My intent is to not air my frustration, but help others and share what I learn with other teachers so we can get the most out of what we have.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Using the Measure Tool in Google Maps

Google is awesome in pretty much every way. Google Maps is a great tool for a wide variety of things in school, and one feature that particularly helpful is the "measurement tool." However, sometimes, the measurement tool is not "available" so in order to activate the measure tool and use it, follow these step by step instructions via images....

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Using the new Tablet cart? You MUST read this

Trick To Log in faster with the Tablet Cart
After the initial log in, when the computer is working to get logged in, (the blue screen with the white avatar, loading and applying settings, etc.) the trick is to shut the lid and then reopen it right away. Once you open the lid, it will show the "locked screen" which asks you to enter the password again. Once you enter your password, the computer goes right to the start screen (all the tiles). Internet connection was still strong, everything seemed to work great. So for the rest of the day, I told my kids to do the trick and we were all just a real happy bunch of people, working away on blogging, learning, and creating.

Other things I noticed:
-about 5 computers per class period were connected to the internet with "limited connectivity" which prevented Internet use. This frustrating problem seemed to go away if I went into settings, turned off the Wi-Fi, then turned it back on and reconnected. This worked most of the time. 
-Students love to mess with the stylus. So I was watching them like a hawk to keep that stylus put away to prevent unnecessary problems like losing it, breaking it, or jamming it in the wrong way. 
-Students love to take off the screen and despite my many, many pleas, a few still took it off and then couldn't get it re-attached. 
-Students were frustrated with the mouse touch pad. When typing, the hands hover over the touch pad too closely, causing the mouse to inadvertantly jump around the screen when trying to type. This is about the most annoying thing in the world, so I showed my students how to toggle the touch pad on/off.  "FN" + "F5" does this.  A helpful command when using the tablet cart. 
-About 3 or 4 computers per class said "No log on resources available for this computer." This prevented the students from being able to log in. To solve this problem, the only thing I could come up with was to restart it. Seemed to work, but just took time. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

You're/Your grammar quiz with Quizbean

Quizbean is another online quiz tool that is smooth, sleek, and easy to use. Create a free account in seconds and you are ready to make your first quiz. With Quizbean, you can set up a class and add your students so they can log into the quiz, which allows you to track their progress. Students can take the quiz without logging in, but you will not see their results. This is an option if you just want to provide some online practice for review. With Quizbean, you can quickly add students to your "class" by having them click a unique link and enter your teacher code. This saves you the time of entering each student's email address yourself. Quizbean gives you many options of sharing the quiz. You can email it, send it to a class that you have set up, provide a url/link, or post it to social media like Facebook or Twitter. The free version of Quizbean allows you to create 6 quizzes and add 52 students. For $5/month, you get 26 quizzes and 101 students. For $10/month, you can unlimited everything. With the budgets coming due soon, this may be something you would like to request. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Are You Ready?

Imagine it. Darkness. Your beating heart. Silence except for water dripping from a leaky pipe. Huddled in a basement, shaking, waiting for that dreadful sound. Supplies piled up in a corner, well, whatever supplies you managed to collect as you pillaged every house in the block, barely escaping back to your safe haven deep in this remote basement you found. The eerie quiet is disrupted when you hear it. That moaning. That shuffling of feet, scraping the pavement. The thud of flesh hitting the front door. Banging, banging. You peak up, over the window sill and know they have come. You see them, ragged and torn. Half their face eaten off, intestines and liver dangling from their spliced stomach. Their eyes are dead, blank stares. Their skin a milky grey, bruised, raw. They move forward in a rhythmic dance, their only goal is simply to feed. No longer a he or a she, but an it and as it moves forward, it is not alone. An inexperienced survivor across the street made a noise, attracting a herd. The mindless creatures shuffle towards the sound, away from you. You lean back, retreat towards your corner, dreaming of shrimp and tilapia, clutching your crossbow, thankful you didn't have to use it. You are safe, for now.  But are you? Have you made the right preparations? Have you taken the necessary steps to survive? To live? Some say it's inevitable, some say it will never happen, but not preparing is a risky move. Will the Zombies come?
Gather supplies, non-perishable foods that will last a long time. Stock up on beef jerky, canned milk, and as much water as you can get. Don't forget dried fruit to ward off scurvy. Noise attracts them, so if you have a firearm, make sure you have a silencer. A sword, crossbow, or knife is preferable, due to the silent nature of those weapons, but the downfall is you can not engage the zombies from a distance. You have to get close.  The key is to stay together. When moving from camp to camp, don't allow for any stragglers. They are the ones to surely get picked off first. Move in a group and watch each other's back. Always be on the look out. If you see a herd, you must flee, for the sheer number of them are too overwhelming to take on. You also must be on the look out for humans. The dire straits of the impending doom, the world on the brink of extinction, causes people to lose themselves, lose their spirit, their hope. When this happens, they turn on their fellow man. Stopping at nothing to survive. You must not let this happen to you. You must not lose yourself amidst the chaos and darkness. Keep your soul, your spirit. Keep your humanity and maybe, just maybe will be able to save all of mankind.
This past summer, I had the chance to sit down with a neurologist at Sanford hospital and talk to him about Zombies and the nature of the Zombie brain. I asked him, "Sir, are Zombies real?" His response, "No." I countered, "Can a person turn into a zombie?" "Um, no."  Undeterred, I continued, "Sir, I was watching this show, called the Walking Dead, and they had a part in one of the episodes about the brain stem being alive, but nothing else. The brain stem would just flicker with life, but nothing else. How do you explain that?" (Clearly annoyed by my line of questioning, the neurologist explain): "You see here, young man, the brain stem is the highway between the brain and the body. It is the most essential part of the body. If the rest of the brain is dead, but the brain stem still flickers with life, then maybe, just maybe, the body would make involuntary movements."  Intrigued, I went on, "So could they walk?"  His response, "Well, maybe if you held them upright, they might shuffle forward."  Eyes wide, I continued, "So, zombies could happen?"  His response: "No and get out of my office." 

Well, my fellow humans, I guess that's it. No zombie apocalypse for us anytime soon. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Great Concept Mapping tool:

Here is yet another great concept mapping tool providing by my good friend "internet." allows you to create sharp, fresh looking concept maps that help organize thoughts, opinions, outline a plan, show what you know, develop, create, discover, etc. With it's easy to use interface and sharp looking colors, your students will be begging you to assign more and more concept maps! is a free service. Create an account in seconds and you will be on your way. saves your work automatically, so you can work worry free that you will lose everything. Once your product is finished, you can export it as a JPEG (image) or a webpage outline. You can also work on concept maps as a "team" to create collaboration experiences that enrich the curriculum. This could be a tool you might want to try using with colleagues as well, if there is a event to plan, a special day to organize, or if you want to bounce ideas off each other. is a tool that should have a spot in your teacher aresnal. Below is an example of what you can make with

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Gibbon: A must use tool for learning

Last night, as I was sitting in my giant, round, comfortable chair, day dreaming about my new computer and sunsets, I suddenly jolted upright because a thought dawned on me: wouldn't it be cool to have a tool that you could provide your students to allow them easy and instant access to online material? Well, I quickly scampered to my computer and started searching. I found a site called "Gibbon" and I'm excited to start using it. With Gibbon, you are given the opportunity to create "flows" which are simply streams of online articles/websites that you find. When you create a "flow", you can then add anything to it, which makes it available to your students. You would simply post the flow link on your website so the students would be able to access it. If you find a website you would like to use, simply copy and paste the website into your flow and it's instantly added. But it gets even easier: Gibbon has a Google Chrome extension which makes adding to your flow much more efficient. The Gibbon Chrome extension can be added through the Chrome store for free. As you are searching the web for articles/websites you want your students to have, simply click the Gibbon icon in your chrome browser, choose which "flow" to add it to, and it's done. That easy. You can also create your own personal "playlist" to track topics and articles that are of interest to you. This is a good way to promote learning and to keep providing your students with good reading material. It's free. It's great. Try it out. What have you got to lose?