Monday, April 30, 2012

Global Village School needs volunteer tutors- celebrates GED!!

Last year several of my student "Junior Media Specialists" and I started a book drive for the Global Village School. The book drive was our way of giving books to the girls at the school, who are all refugees or victims of war in some way who have come to America. The results astounded us- we ended up giving them an entire library of over 2,000 books!! The school now needs volunteer tutors over the summer. Check out the link to their newsletter if you are interested. also- they are celebrating the completion of a GED by a student who has been here for a year. Yes, you heard me, one year!! amazing....

Creative Writing Teachers REJOICE

Remember the good times we had watching "Pop Up Video" on VH1 (or am I totally showing my age...?)  The VH1 site has an option to make your own Pop Up Video subtitles tosome popular videos-  but that might not work for most (read 'all') classrooms.... An alternative I found is the "Pop My Video" app, which is one dollar and tons of fun.  Pop My Video is a fun app that lets users add pop-up bubbles to the videos on their iPhones, iPad or iPod Touch devices.  Same concept as "Pop up Video", but use your own content to create the pop-ups. If you remember the music videos from the past, the pop-ups contained extensions of the content or secrets you might not know while watching the actual video.  What a great way for students to extend their knowledge and make otherwise dry topics more exciting. And it’s only a Dollar… Pop My Video is an Erela, Inc. App. All rights reserved 2011   Sandi Dennis, Media and Instructional Technology Specialist, City Schools of Decatur, GA

Thursday, April 26, 2012

ipad Common Vocabulary Printable

One of my favorite teachers and co-workers, Alison Eber, created a great printable for teaching common ipad vocabulary for students who are getting acquainted with the device in a classroom setting.
Check it out and download it here!  Her blog is also found here- great tips for classroom teachers looking for inspiration when teaching reading and writing using technology!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Monday, April 23, 2012

Coca Cola uses technology to find missing Rockwell paintings

Coke has created a special blog post for blog readers and viewers of Antiques Roadshow to track down a few Coke-themed missing Norman Rockwell paintings.

The artwork, which shows people drinking Coke, has been valued by an appraiser at up to 500,000.00 per painting.
Sent from the iPhone of Sandi Dennis

Friday, April 20, 2012

Photos as Writing Prompts

I recently reunited with a former student from my 5th grade classroom who told me "You're the reason I became a writer!"  Wow.  That is actually one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me.

This little guy really spoke to me this morning and made me want to write about writing....
When I taught 5th grade, my students arrived every morning and saw a large picture projected onto my classroom screen.  Yes, it was with an old-fashioned slide projector; and yes, I actually used Kodak slides.  But the concept of starting your day quietly free-writing appealed to me on so many levels, and I never changed my feelings about  the importance of starting the day writing down ideas.
Today, I usually start the day writing down my to-do list or ideas for blog posts or student projects.  Sometimes I start by writing e-mails.  Nonetheless, I am still writing before the sun comes up.  What are your thoughts about writing at school?
  • School is a place where you will sometimes have quiet thinking time- and that is a skill that must be practiced by students and adults.  
  • Writing down ideas with no fear of being judged or graded or evaluated might just produce some amazing work.   
  • A picture is worth a thousand words. 
  • How can handheld technology such as ipads make this process even better? 

I recommend allowing quiet free-writing time daily- even if it is just five minutes.
Display a picture per day and ask students to journal with no fear.
Discovery Education has great still images- and you can incorporate many other subjects such as Science, History, Civics, etc.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

iTunes U

Have you tried iTunes U?

Everything works together.

The iTunes U app integrates with iBooks, iCloud, and other apps to make it easy for students to keep up with your course. For example, new iBooks textbooks2 and other books for the course are available right from the app, where students can tap them to start reading the assigned chapter. Notes taken in iBooks are consolidated for easy reviewing in the iTunes U app. If an assignment includes watching part of a video, one tap goes straight to a specific spot in the video. And iTunes U keeps documents, notes, highlights, and bookmarks up to date across multiple devices.

We are considering uploading all of our district's professional learning job aids to iTunes U.

Guyku- Haiku for Boys
Great Free Poetry Resources at the Guyku Haiku Website

Make a point of visiting the Guyku Haiku website, based on the book Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys (written by Bob Raczka and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds). FableVision partnered with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to create this playful website, which offers a multitude of fun, free activities and resources for educators who want to spark a passion for poetry in young writers.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Check your Web Footprint

A Complete Guide to Privacy Settings: Facebook, Google+, Twitter--- Check Your Web Footprint

Livescribe Pen

Livescribe pen- on bottom is camera - on top is microphone. Http://
Saves to evernote, google docs, etc. Pen 99.00, notebooks 5.00.
Pencast is publishing site in cloud.

Presentation Tube

This site allows you to record all aspects of a presentation in one package-- PresentationTube videos are hosted at YouTube servers to provide a rich experience that relies on many features of the YouTube APIs with no ads, no banners, and unlimited bandwidth and storage space.   Check it out!

Summer Camp for Teachers!
I attended the Discovery Educator Network Summer Institute in San Diego, California in July, 2011.  It was the most inspiring, motivating, and enriching professional learning experience I have ever had as an educator.  I tried to break it down and figure out why it worked so well for me.  I have been in so many professional learning situations, both as an instructor and a student in my 23 years in education, that I am a pretty tough customer.
I think the top three reasons it worked for me are:
1- It was highly selective- the attendees had to apply and have a common outlook on education and somewhat common knowledge base.  This kept the sessions from being uninteresting or repetitive.
2- It allowed numerous opportunities for networking in unstructured environments.  If you are reading this blog you are networking and learning from me.  Those personal connections are what benefit me at my job day after day during the year.
3- It was a perfect combination innovative and creative and traditional.  Some elements of typical summer camp were involved (leaving home behind in order to focus on learning, meeting your new suite mates, meal times together, planning projects together, etc.)  But there were also some unexpected elements such as surprise field trips, awesome visiting speakers, and a brisk, rich schedule.
If you haven't attended a summer Ed Camp- I highly recommend it.  Get a sitter for the kids and pack your bag- you won't regret it!

Shakespeare in Bits

Apps for Shakespeare Readers (both by choice and by teacher requirement) will help break the works down into "bits".
You can try a few scenes using the free version (called "freemium")- then the entire work by purchasing the app(s).

Cyberbullying Lesson- At a Distance

The Netsafe Project from New Zealand is our base for resources to use when teaching cyberbullying and cyber safety.
The Video "At a Distance" will be shown to our 4th and 5th grade students in the near future, and our school counselor will follow up with classroom discussions.  It is a powerful video showing how a small incident can be completely blown up into a cyberbullying incident -- which can be extremely hurtful and painful for a young child.

Download You Tube Videos- Keepvid- Free and Easy

You Tube Videos- How to download for your classroom

Since You Tube is blocked by our Filter-- Here is a way to download FROM HOME, save, and use at school.
  1. Find your You Tube movie
  2. Go to
  3. Right Click and PASTE your URL inside the blue URL box at the top and click the DOWNLOAD button
  4. When the file type choices appear in green box, click the link to "Download MP4"
  5. Now you have a saved copy of your video
  6. Save it to a thumb drive and you can double click the file any time to play it


Pearltrees is a FREE online collaboration and organizational tool that provides a structure for teachers or students to gather, share, and organize resources.  Your links, or “pearls”, are connected into  “trees” and can be easily embedded onto a website, blog, or Facebook/Twitter account.
I quickly searched and found fantastic pearltrees for DISCOVERY EDUCATIONTEACHER TECHNOLOGY,APPSPROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT, and numerous other topics.  The search box in the top right will open up many trees for you.  You can “team up” with others and collaborate on a pearl tree.  If you find a tree that interests you- click it, then send a request to connect to that tree’s owner.
Your delicious bookmarks may also be imported with one click to form a tree that can be edited and re-arranged.
How to get Started: Create a free account and I suggest the video tutorials on You Tube.
Pearltrees would be a nice presentation tool for professional learning, or a great product for student use.  (Note: My district’s filter blocked the site due to the “social network” sharing feature.  I have requested an un-block!)
Pearl Trees Basics
Post tiny URLs of your pearltrees below so we can connect!
Sandi Dennis is a DEN LC Member and Blogger for Georgia, and currently the Media and Instructional Technology Specialist at The 4/5 Academy at Fifth Avenue in Decatur, GA.  Her blog can be found at

ipad- Multimedia Tools 2012


ipiccy== Great FREE photo editing site that does not require sign-up.

Photo Collage in Picasa

An oldie but still a goodie!  My PTO wanted a photo of the library books they funded with our annual book fair.  We took a digital photo of each cover, and popped them into a photo collage.  Viola!  An image that can be shared or used as a screen saver in the media center.
Just put your pictures into a single folder, upload into Picasa (Picasa is a free download).  Choose the pictures you'd like in your collage, and click "make collage".  You can shuffle the pictures and shuffle the layout.  Very nice and very easy!

Fun Book Club Reminder- made with good old Power Point!

I wanted to share our book club reminder poster because it makes me smile on a Monday morning! :)

14 Software Applications to try before the next school year begins...

I got this poster from posted by TechKing...  see my post today about  I could spend hours on this site reading statistics.  (I know, I need to find a new hobby).

If  you haven't already seen it, is a fantastic collection of info graphics and statistical data. takes a concept and breaks it down into small chunks of facts.  Use the search box to find thousands of topics.  Students could research facts and check accuracy, or predict future statistics or trends using posters.
Sample Posters:

My Fake Wall

Note: The "My Fake Wall"  site appears to be down.  

Here's an interesting link to a Power Point template students can use to make a Power Point that looks an awful lot like Facebook for a historical figure.
Original Post:
You can use this site to make Facebook look-alike 'walls'.

Panem ID Card Generator

Get ready for the Hunger Games movie- make your Panem ID card today!
What district will you get assigned-- and what occupation?

Tammy's Tech Tip- Sites that Generate a URL

This is a great list of sites that generate a URL for student products- brought to you by Tammy Worcester, who has awesome tech tips and presentations- you can sign up here for her tech tips e-news.
Web Tools That Provide a URL
Vocaroo * - Audio recording tool
RecordMP3 * - Another audio recording tool
Drawz It! * - Drawing tool with shapes, stamps, and a text tool
Scribble Maps * - Mark up a Google Map
Google Docs ** - Students create word processing documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and drawings and then “publish as web page” to get a URL
* No accounts or passwords required
** Students will need a Google account

Web Tool Recommendations

I'm re-posting a great post by another Sandy- Sandy Millen.  See her entire post here- what a great collection of Web Tools!
A SMALL PLUG- On Wednesday 21st March 2012 Sandy Millen will be doing a presentation at the IATEFL Conference about ways teachers can encourage students to use online tools, based on action research done in her classes. Subscribe to her blog to find out the results if you can’t be there!
The famous ones
Skype - phone calls through the internet, including video. Simple, effective, reliable, and it works all over the world. It can be used to bring experts or other teachers into your classrooms. You can use the ‘chat’ feature to share files and write in vocabulary. You could use Skype instead of traditional listening tracks to Skype friends in the UK/US (or other countries!) For example: “With my [Shelly Terrell's] 4 to 6 yr-old German students they learned how to do origami from @EHerrod‘s son in the UK via Skype”.
YouTube - even those who hate tech will still try it! It’s easy to forget how helpful thousands of the clips can be, although some schools block it.
Facebook - the groups function is useful for educators
TED - hundreds of inspiring videos by thinkers and leaders in every field imaginable
Voice recording
Vocaroo – voice recorder. Easy to use (single click), no need for registration.
Soundcloud – voice recorder with the added facility of voice commenting. SImple to upload to the internet and share. James Taylor wrote a post about it. Audioboo is useful for this too.
Fotobabble – upload a photo and record yourself talking about it for one minute. Some fotobabbles on this old blog  (see November/December archives)
Voicethread – comment collaboratively on slides/pictures/whatever you want
Voxopop - create talk groups to get your students discussing things together
Voki – create avatars to do your speaking for you. Shelly Terrell created this guide to using vokis
Audacity – downloadable software which can be used to record students and put together podcasts
You can also record voices on a smart phone
Videoant - video annotation which is easy to email to students/observed teachers
Jing - create video annotation to provide feedback to students or show them how to do something. Students can also create their own files. You can make screenshots with it too. Great for essay feedback, and useful extra listening practice. Teacher Training Videos guide to Jing
Bookmarking / link collection / organisation
Evernote - online notetaking and bookmarking
Dropbox - cloud-based file storage, useful for sharing files with students
Pinterest - an online noticeboard to organise and share things you like. Shelly Terrell has Pinterest boards on various ELT topics. There have been recent worries about copyright issues related to the site though. - a way of bookmarking links in a magazine-type layout
Lino-it / Wallwisher - online noticeboards where you can post notes, videos, pictures and more. Here is an example of a lino-it created by @clivesir about bringing fun into the classroom. He likes to use lino-it for feedback. Both are great for letting students weigh in on a topic, no matter their location.
Ready-made materials
Movie segments to assess grammar goals - activities based on films, through which teachers can present grammar points
EFL smart blog - a blog for students with complete mini lessons, including authentic listening and accompanying activities
Knoword - a vocabulary guessing game based on randomly generated dictionary definitions
Speakout video podcasts - the link takes to the pre-intermediate video podcasts. Each unit of the book is accompanied by one podcast.

Tools for teachers to create activities / materials
Triptico - a single software download providing loads of free tools; especially good for classrooms with interactive whiteboards (IWBs). Word magnets are good for colour-coding grammar explanations. The card game is good for randomly choosing speaking topics. It’s really easy to use and @David_Triptico is constantly adding new resources to it.
Quizlet - a great tool for vocabulary where students (and teachers) can create flashcards and immediately play games with them. Students really enjoy using it.
Hot Potatoes - freeware including “six applications, enabling you to create interactive multiple-choice, short-answer, jumbled-sentence, crossword, matching/ordering and gap-fill exercises for the World Wide Web”
Socrative - “a smart student response system that empowers teachers to engage their classrooms through a series of educational exercises and games via smartphones, laptops, and tablets” and it’s free [this was my personal favourite discovery of the chat]
Puzzle Maker - a site which allows you to create printable wordsearches, crosswords and other puzzles. Crossword Maker just lets you create crosswords. Wordsearch Maker creates wordsearches. Nik Peachey describes how to use the latter here.
Wordle / Tagxedo - word cloud generators. Could be used for simple ‘word find’ activities such as ‘Spot the word with a prefix’
Language Garden - language plants make sentences, poems and grammar look beautiful, as well as providing visual prompts for students.
Creative tools for students
SP-studio - create cartoon characters based on the style of South Park cartoons. Kids can then create profiles for their cartoon characters.
Survey monkey - helps students to practise question forms by creating online questionnaires, as well as finding out more about their fellow students. Very easy to use.
GoAnimate - online video creator
iMovie - kids can create “movie trailers” about books they like
Google Docs - word processing, spreadsheet and presentation software available online for collaboration, sharing or private use. Can be used for essay writing and other writing assignments as well as for individual vocabulary banks for students.
Tools which you can integrate other things into
Edmodo - a closed social network for education (my post about Edmodo) – I use it to share resources with my students.
Wikis – but you need lots of tools to put in them. Some wiki providers include pbworks and wikispaces. They allow embedding of other tools.
Blogs – spaces to provide information, links and create online texts. Some providers include wordpressedublogs and Posterous (see below). They allow embedding of other tools.
Posterous - it focuses on all four skills; it’s easy to use; there are free apps on various platforms. Intuitive, and great for introducing blogging to students.
Moodle - a tool for creating complete virtual learning environments (VLEs). It allows embedding of other tools. Safe for kids too.
Glogster - good for project work. It allows embedding of other tools too.
For independent learners
English Central - students can use this outside the classroom to practise listening, reading and pronunciation as well as improve their vocabulary.
Lyrics training - students can listen to songs and complete the lyrics
Accessible for free on many platforms
No (or at least very easy) registration
User-friendly for both teachers and students
Supports various skills
A way to make English a tool, rather than concentrating on the language aspect
Easy to use
Offer various activities
Allow students to practise their English in a meaningful way
Justified from a pedagogical point of view, not just because it’s a cool new toy
Ease of integration with other tools
Show the real pedagogical value
Through their students - if you get the students enthused, they will tell their other teachers
Start with showing them examples of why they can get excited, not how to use web tools
Show them how much time it can save them, although at the beginning it feels like they take more time
Lead by example
Introduce things in small doses
Give them a task that must use a web tool / taster sessions
Present them with simple, quick and practical classroom uses of these tools
Go back to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and help them see why they need a tool
Encourage them to play with tools for personal use first, for example by making birthday greetings
Visit their lessons and suggest alternatives
Do workshops which teachers bring their own laptops to - doing IT is better than watching
         BUT: We shouldn’t feel we have to. Some teachers don’t have this option, and others are really not interested. Gareth Davies wrote a blog post expanding on this after the chat.
Be consistent – don’t flit from one tool to another.
Don’t get swept away with new tools.
Don’t try to do too much too soon.
Play around with tools to help you become more confident.
Test things out throughly before you introduce them. OR Experiment together with the students. (a language learning task in itself)
Introduce them in small doses
Make sure you have a plan B, just in case the tech fails. Don’t freak out! You could teach the 3rd conditional – If they program had worked you would have seen…
Ask students to share their favourites too – they might know about tools you don’t
If students know that the tech exists, they can decide whether to use it or not.
Prepare for excitement from kids! Never be afraid to learn with them.
Some tools may seem too childish for adults.
If something doesn’t work the first time, try to analyse why and work out what you could do differently. Don’t just assume the tech was wrong. It might work with one group of students but not with another.
Make sure that the pedagogy comes first – don’t just use tech for the sake of it.
         Remember that you can often do the same things without tech – do you really need it? If you can’t justify why the tech version is better, there’s no reason to use it.
Some of these tools are not available in every country or at every school. Technology is still far off for a lot of teachers. You also need to make sure all of the students have access to the technology outside the classroom.
Remember that some teachers are limited to time – they have to finish a coursebook and tools take time and have to be appropriate. Ideally, you need to use a tool that will allow students to USE what they studied in the coursebook.
Independent English – my new blog to share technology tools with learners and help them work out how to use them
A post from my blog about ’Teaching 2.0 in the one computer classroom‘ featuring Triptico, wordclouds and powerpoint
Ideas for using word clouds and voicethread from Marisa Constantinides
Resources for English and Spanish second-language learners. The home page is in Swedish, so click on English/EspaƱol to find the links.
Ozge Karaoglu‘s A-Z of web tools
Russell Stannard‘s Teacher Training Videos – step-by-step guides to many tech tools
Steve Fulton‘s experience of having trouble with technology in the classroom.
Arizona K12 Centre Technology Integration Matrix
On Wednesday 21st March 2012 I will be doing a presentation at the IATEFL Conference about ways teachers can encourage students to use online tools, based on action research done in my classes. Subscribe to my blog to find out the results if you can’t be there!


Sign Up Genius
 I've started using the free site "Sign Up Genius" in many areas of my life.  My students can sign up for appointments with me (see a sample) , staff members can sign up for professional learning, parents can sign up for volunteer opportunities, etc.  The site has numerous templates and three types of survey styles: Munchie Genius, People Genius, and Party Genius.

If you haven't tried it- just sign up for a free account and get started.  Users do not need an account in order to sign up for time slots.  If users select "I don't want an account" they will still be able to sign up, they just will not get an e-mail reminder.
I recommend you give it a try!

Photo Editing Sites- in a great Live Binder

Here's a great Live Binder with photo editing sites all in one place:

Better Check That Source! Web Misinformation and Reliability of Sources

This article from the Education World site has great information about validity of sources.
I also use Brain Pop's movie/quiz combo to teach reliability of web information.

Who Said That?
Students complete a tutorial on Web literacy and use what they learn to evaluate a Web site. (Grades K-2, 3-5)

Digging for Gold!
Students complete a tutorial on Web literacy and find the answers to an online scavenger hunt. (Grades 6-8)

Sites and Stereotypes
Students use online resources to create portraits of present-day American Indians. (Grades 6-8, 9-12)

True or False?
Students complete a tutorial on Web literacy and identify Web hoaxes.
(Grades 9-12)


Media Awareness Network
This site provides a thorough discussion of the characteristics, interests, and needs of students in several age ranges; explores the online strategies most likely to appeal to each age group; and explains the media literacy skills students should learn.
Evaluating Internet-Based Information: A Goals-Based Approach
In this article, Internet educator David Warlick discusses the uses and abuses of modern informational tools. The site includes a Web-based form for evaluating Internet content sources.
Privacy Playground: The First Adventure of the Three Little CyberPigs
The Media Awareness Network provides this downloadable tutorial for kids in the primary grades. Cartoon characters teach young children to protect themselves from online dangers and scams. You'll have to plan ahead; the free software takes almost 40 minutes to download. You'll also want to turn off the sound; the music is annoying and tedious. The information is good, though. The format is appealing, and the video includes questions to keep students involved and a pause button to allow for classroom discussion. The site also provides a teacher's guide and printable student work sheets.
Information Literacy Standards for Student Learning
The American Association of School Librarians provides standards for information literacy.
Ten C's for Evaluating Internet Sources
The University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire provides these criteria for evaluating Internet resources.
Better Read That Again: Web Hoaxes and Misinformation
This very thorough and informative article on Internet sites that are not what they seem provides fascinating examples of the dangers to people who cannot distinguish between the true experts, the merely misinformed, and the truly ugly in Web site creators.


Study The Way You Want. Studying for an exam is now easy, simple, and fun with Cram. Cram's multiple-choice testing mode resembles the type of tests you're used to from images, to multiple answers, to timed tests. When your test is over, Cram grades and records your test performance so you can track your progress.

Great teachers understand that simple regurgitation of information is not our ultimate goal. However, there will be times when students must do so in order to pass an exam.
I offered to purchase this somewhat pricey app for my son - we will see what he thinks about it and I will update this post after he tries it out.
Cram allows studying of flash cards and multiple choice items on Macs, iPhones, and iPads.