Friday, December 27, 2013

Are You Slow? I Hope So.

I have long been a proponent of slowing down, even backing up sometimes, to better serve our students and ourselves, in turn. While the new calendar year is not the beginning of a new school year, I do think it is an opportunity to try something new or take a fresh approach in our classrooms. I recently read a blog from my favorites at Edutopia, and while I know it is not possible in full, or maybe even in part right now, I love the mindset behind it. I have linked it here so that you made read it with ease and in hopes of inspiring you to try to slow down just one thing you do with students. Check it out, slowly.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The First Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving right around the corner it's a good time  for a history lesson. The best way to inform students about what life was like in 1620 is to take virtual field trips and view reenactments and primary sources from that time. The folks at Scholastic have a great set of goodies to use with your interactive whiteboard. You can visit Plimoth Plantation, watch videos, learn about the Mayflower, read historic letters, and so on. Check it out - I've linked it here.

Enjoy the feast!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Do You Want to Argue About It? - Yes!

You all have been very patient with me...It's been a long time since my last post - here anyway. I got so sucked into Connected Educator Month and my Twitter series on it that you've been a bit neglected. Hopefully you tuned into some of my Tweets and checked out a few things I mentioned.

I have also been incredibly busy with my work for SDE (Staff Development for Educators)  - most recently working on some Common Core stuff. With that in mind, I wanted to share with you something that came across my email a couple of weeks ago and hopefully also give you a helpful hint.

On on f the big shift or changes that the CCSS brings to our instruction is this element of teaching students how to write for argumentation - in the good way. For older students, check out this simple, sweet getting started tid-bit from Dave Stuart's Non-Freaked Out Approach to the Common Core.

For those of you that teach younger students, who don't yet write here's what I'd like you to remember: Asking students to form opinions and justify them verbally is the beginning of writing for argumentation. So, if you read them a great book, ask: What was your favorite part? THEN ask them: Why do you like that part so much? OR - you read a great book and you ask: How do you think that person felt? THEN - What told you so? or What makes you think that? Believe it or not you've just begun your instruction on writing for argument; your instruction in asking students for evidence about what they believe. Not so hard - right? 

I'll try and send some more Common Core tips your way over the next few weeks and months.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Are You a Connected Educator?

CEM - Connected Educator Month - is well under way and I  want to make sure you are a part of it if you want to be! My last post was about my Twitter series for the month (which by the way now has a hashtag: #conedu13 so you can search for it). But if you want to just see what other s are talking about and if you want to be connected long after this month is over, you might want to try participating in a Twitter chat. Relax, you don't have to actually tweet anything but Susan Bearden had a great article on the Journal a few weeks ago that will help get you started. I've linked it here. So go on and get your digital groove going! 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Connected Educator Month Means a New Twitter Series

October is Connected Educator Month (CEM). It's a chance to connect with passionate educators, begin or build your PLN, and learn some cool ways to integrate technology into teaching and learning along the way. In my work for Staff Development for Educators (SDE) I do a lot of technology and Common Core workshops so I am always looking for new ideas and resources. I am signed up to participate in CEM and so can you by clicking here. In celebration of this chance at collaboration and learning I have also decided to create a new Twitter series for October. Each weekday I will tweet a tech-related idea, a great site or app, an article worth your time...something to do with technology in education. If you already follow me, you'll see it each day. If you don't follow me, go to Twitter right now, search for my name, and click the little blue button that says: Follow. If you don't have a Twitter account, create one. It will be your first step toward becoming a more connected educator. You don't even have to tweet, just follow those that share your professional passions and then follow some of the folks they follow, and so on. You can stay up to date all month long by searching #CE13 - that's the official one for everyone. To see my tweets, you can search by my Twitter handle @LaureenReynolds. Hope to see you around the virtual water cooler!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Dot Day is coming!

Many of you know about the wonderful books by Peter Reynolds (no relation). If you don't know of them, stop reading this right now and order or borrow them. If you've never participated in Dot Day you can read more about it here and here (some ideas). It's free and fabulous. All about teaching creativity. Sign up here and have fun! You can also sign up for some International Dot Day's Skype in the Classroom time with classrooms around the world to see what they are doing for Dot Day. Don't miss this chance for collaboration and creativity!

Library Cards Still Important

September is National Library Card Sign-up Month. Now, I know a lot of folks read on their tablets and e-readers, but the library still has a lot to offer. For one, it's free. Two, it is an opportunity to actually see and flip-through books, talk about books, and perhaps be enticed by a genre one may not think to search for online (by the way, this happened to me with the Twilight series and I was instantly addicted). So, as you get ready to welcome parents for open house this month (or even conferences later in the fall) consider setting up a spot in your room where parents can  sign their child up for a library card if they don't have one. If you can stock that spot with a volunteer, even better.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Technology Integration Irritation

Many of us struggle with using general technology and there isn't always someone in our midst that can help - or help in any reasonable time frame. With technology a little higher on the list this year for many schools due to Common Core expectations I thought this might be useful. Check this out from Jacqui Murray's blog: Ask a Teacher...Anything

Monday, August 26, 2013

PBS Learning Media

I think I have mentioned this in the past but it came across my desk again recently and wanted to remind you all of it as well. Many of you are back to school already or will be soon. And, many of you will be looking for ways to incorporate technologies and create lessons that are standard -friendly. So check it out. It's free and you really couldn't ask for a more reliable, trusted resource. PBS LearningMedia

Friday, August 9, 2013

You'll Never Have More Time Than at the Beginning

I know that at the beginning of each school year you likely go to your classroom a week before you're required to and start getting things ready. I also know that it feels like there is never enough time. At the start of the year though, you actually have a bit of flexibility. Specials schedules may not have started yet, pull-out services haven't been established, curriculum expectations may be slightly lighter... so it's a great time to take the time to get to know your students and let them get to know you. Scholastic has a nice set of ice-breakers on their site right now. I've linked it here. See if one or more appeal to you.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Gearing Up - Try Something Different and Save Yourself Some Time Along the Way

Well, it's that time again. Time for all of those shiny new things we bring into our classrooms each August. Time to make our spaces look clean and crisp for the first day of school. Every bulletin board will be full of student names on apples and welcome messages. The bookshelves will be organized perfectly, our materials in order, desk tags with all kinds of colorful bit of information will be put in place. It will be perfect. But...perfect for who? You or them?

I propose you try something new thing year. something that might make you a little uncomfortable. Leave your bulletin boards at the ready, but empty of decoration besides a background and border. Give your students sentence strip pieces with their names written on them and let your kiddos decorate them on the first day. Ask them about the kinds of things they'd like to see in the room and do what you can. Have them bring a favorite t-shirt, share them, and then hang them up. In other words, make it their room. Not only will it save you time and money, it will also be a big step towards building a classroom where students are invested and involved.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Two Exciting Developments

July brought a couple of professionally exciting events: the release of my newest book and my summer Twitter series.

My new book is called Simple Steps to SMART Success - all about how to make friends with your SMART board. You can check it out at Crystal Springs Books. It's got downloadable, ready-to-use interactive pages and step-by-step directions for building more. Full color and lots of screen shots to help you on your way. It also has websites you can visit to hear and see me go through each SMART Board activity. Totally cool!

My Twitter series was spurred by two things I actually found out about on Twitter. The New York City Public Library's summer exhibit is called The ABC of It. It's a celebration of children's books for readers of all ages. On the same day I read that, I also read an article stating that teachers worry that students will find the non-fiction/informational text required by the Common Core State Standards boring. Not on my watch! So...each day I am tweeting a new non-fiction title that will captivate and enthrall adults and kiddos alike. If you follow me (@LaureenReynolds) on Twitter you will see it each day. You can also use the search feature on Twitter to see what I've tweeted so far. It's #gr8lit. I am having a lot of fun and hoping to shed a new light on how fabulous informational text can be.

What Can a Four-Year Old Learn by Using Tablets? It's not what you think!

Well, July has been an incredibly busy month. I was in Las Vegas and Chicago for SDE's national conferences and am getting ready to go and see my good friends in Rutherford County, TN on Monday. All of that airplane and airport time allows me a good bit of reading time. I'll be doing a lot of work with Preschool and K teachers this fall so I've been doing some extra reading in that area. The NAEYC has a great article about Preschoolers using tablets and the surprising things they can learn. It has little to do with number and letters and more to do with 21st Century Skills. Check it out.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Time and Technology

No matter what the new thing is that we are trying to integrate into our instruction, time is generally our specter. Integrating technology is no different and it's one of the biggest pain points I hear from the teachers who come to my workshops. In the past, I've blogged about some sites that review educational apps (see the links tab above). While at ISTE last week in San Antonio, I came across a new one: Graphite. Today, eSchoolNews posted an article about this service so I thought it might be of interest to you all. Check it out...

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Positive Behavior Supports

I am on my way back from the ISTE conference (International Society for Technology in Education) and was checking email when I came across an article about some Michigan schools ready to adopt PBS - Positive Behavior Support (System). I've know about this philosophy for a long time thanks to the folks at the Northeast Foundation for Children - The Responsive Classroom people. Thought it was interesting that it made ASCD's Smartbrief today as I don't always hear a lot about schools trying to support positive behavior in a structured, systematic way. It's so necessary and can set our students up for even greater success. It makes a difference, I've seen it personally. So here's the link to the article and check out the NEFC too.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

In The Big Easy

Greetings from New Orleans where I am speaking at  workshop sponsored by SDE (Staff Development for Educators) titled Uncommon Teaching in the Common Core World. Had a wonderful group of teachers with us today while we tackled some complicated stuff and had a little fun. One of the techniques I talked about this morning was asking good questions to build the higher level thinking skills that the CCSS are looking for is called Socratic Questioning. This kind of questioning (which leads to other questions) is a change in instruction for a lot of us so I promised the group I would get them some more information. I also thought it would be of interest to the rest of you so I've linked you to several easy-to-handle articles. Enjoy!
Socratic Questioning
The Power of Socratic Seminar
The Role of Socratic Questioning
This last one is about teaching kids to think more deeply and philosophically, using conversation to do so.
Talking to Think

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Celebrate All Your Students Did This Year!

The end of the school year is right now for some of you and just a few weeks away for others. It's always nice to look back and  revisit some memorable moments your students had. Yesterday, Richard Byrne's fabulous blog gave some easy ways to do that. 5 Ways to Digitally Celebrate Your Students' Year 

If you were not the best historian this year, then put it on the books for next year. Start by challenging yourself and your students to take 3 images each day of something going on in the classroom. By the end of next school year, you'll have a bunch of images to choose from. If you start on the first day of school, you might also consider putting together a mini-version for your school's open house/back to school night. It's a great thing to have showing as parents are entering and milling about.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

PBS Stands the Test of Time

PBS has been around for a long time. When I  was growing up it's where I watched Sesame Street. It has changed with the times in may ways. A while back I mentioned that PBS had made some of its video clips available for free online viewing. (I think there's a link in the "links" tab at the top of the page.) Well, now there are two other things I'd like you to know about.

1. has some terrific interactive whiteboard activities and games available for free.

2. PBS LearningMedia now features more than 30,000 free digital teaching resources. These new resources include content and lesson plans revolving around PBS television shows such as Constitution USA, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, and Shakespeare Uncovered.

So check these fun spots out. You can search for activities and lessons by grade level and you'll likely find some other cool stuff while you're there.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Field Trips Go High-Tech

As the end of the year approaches some of you are going on field trips while others are thinking ahead to next year and some things you might like to try. As always, I want to encourage you to include technology in most things you do with your students. It's expected by the Common Core State Standards and can really enhance the learning experience for your kiddos. With that in mind I've linked you to an article that I read from the folks at Education Week: Mobile Apps Make Field Trips More Interactive

Remember too, that even if you don't have tablets or smartphones available, having students using a digital camera to document the trip and a website like Animoto to create a digital show with annotations about the images also counts as technology integration too.  :)

Get out there and explore!

Good News For Android Tablet Users

There's always a lot of good information about iPad apps and how to use them in your classroom but the same information for Android tablets is less abundant.  As  I was catching up on my reading of one of Richard Byrne's blog Android 4 Schools I came across this tidbit that I thought was exciting:

Google announced a new service that could make Android tablets a stronger challenger to iPads in education. Google Play for Education (not live yet) promises the features that many of us have wanted for a long time.
Google Play for Education will be an app store designed specifically for teachers and students. Developers will be able to submit their apps this summer. Some selected developers announced at I/O include NASA and PBS. The best part of Google Play for Education will be the ability for teachers (or administrators) to purchase apps and push them out to all of the devices in their schools. If the entire school is too big of a group, the option to create smaller groups of devices will be available too. Teachers will also be able to use Google Play for Education to push video and documents out to all of the devices in a group.
One thing to keep in mind about pushing apps and videos to Android devices through Google Play for Education is that all of the devices will have to be part of a Google Group created through Google Apps.

So, stay tuned!

Monday, April 29, 2013

How's Your Connection?

I speak to teachers all over the country, in big cities and in small towns. Because I talk a lot about ed tech these days I hear many teachers complaining about how slow their Internet service is at school. Recently, at a SMART board seminar I was running in New Jersey fro Staff Development for Educators (SDE), we talked about ways around this problem when it comes to using videos on SMART boards. Just the other day I came across an article from the folks at Tech & Learning magazine titled: BYOT: No Internet Access, No Problem. I've linked it here for you. Check it out and get your brain juicing about how to integrate technology without relying on the Internet. Pretty good stuff!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Pass the Poetry Please!

April is National Poetry Month and, although I'm a bit lat in getting it to you I wanted to share an app I came across in another blog I read: Free Technology for Teachers. It called the Josephine Hart Poetry App and is free for now. Here's the description from the App Store. Read it then check it out. What a great way to get your students interested in poetry!

Great poetry read aloud by great actors.

The Poetry App will draw you into a parallel universe of over 100 poems from sixteen of the greatest poets of all time, accompanied by video and audio narrations from over 30 world class actors and performers including Juliet Stevenson, Bob Geldof, Simon Callow, Dominic West and Roger Moore.

For the poetry lover - enjoy a wide selection of great poems, chosen by Josephine Hart and explained through her essays and introductions.

For the poetry novice - explore the power of poetry through the narrations of world-class actors.

Read poetry from 16 of the greatest poets through the ages
Listen and watch powerful narrations by over 30 world class actors and performers
Read in-depth introductions and essays by Josephine Hart on each poet and their poems
Create your own poems with the ability to record your own narration
Share everything through Email, Twitter and Facebook
New favorites library – allows you to download audio and videos for viewing without and Internet connection. Download your favorite poems and take them with you anywhere.

Remember, however, that not everything is what it seems and additional content has been hidden throughout the app such as Bob Geldof readings and interviews with Josephine Hart and Jeremy Irons.

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Little Bit Tech and a Little Bit Common Core

I am busy getting ready for a few upcoming programs and came across another interactive field trip that I thought you'd want to check out. It comes from the folks at Scholastic and has to do with immigration. Not only can you tour Ellis Island, there is also a section that allows you to "hear" from the young immigrants of today and examine some immigration data - all very Common core friendly. I've linked it here.

On the tech side of things, the best way to take a virtual field trip with your students is on a screen (at worst) or on an interactive whiteboard (at best). I've placed a link to a site that will in turn link you to dozens of organizations that offer some kind of virtual field trip. There are some pretty cool things available from the National Parks Service and the Museum of Natural History, just to name two. Check it out in the Links tab above.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Speaking in New England about Common Core Plus the Library of Congress and Primary Sources

The Common Core State Standards are on the minds of many folks these days. I'll be speaking at a wonderful event hosted by SDE, Staff Development for Educators, in New Hampshire on April 8 and 9 about reaching those standards through centers, great read-alouds, and writing projects. I'd love it if any of my local followers stopped in to say hello! There will be other terrific speakers there as well, covering a wide variety of topics, not just Common Core. Here's the link to the brochure if you want to check it out!

As I was preparing some handouts for the event I came across a tidbit from the Library of Congress that helps you help students understand and use primary sources. There's a link to the Library of Congress' collection of primary sources and their student analysis guide on the Links page above. Check it out.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Are You Up For 39 Clues?

Recently I was reading a professional magazine and I came across a cool webcast opportunity that's free to sign up for - happening on March 5th. It's tied to the book series The 39 Clues and it's being hosted by David Baldacci. He's going to take students on a virtual field trip of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. He'll explore some of history's great mysteries, introduce students to museum curators, and go behind the scenes at the museum to investigate fascinating moments in American history. If you want to know more I've linked to the article here and or you can go straight to the signup at Scholastic.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

You Can Do Wonders with Only 1 iPad

Yesterday I was getting ready to speak at SDE's Alabama Conference for K Teachers where one of my sessions is about using iPads in the classroom. Looking through my piles of printed goodies, I came across an article from December 2012 from the folks at Tech and Learning magazine. It's called 29 Ways to Use the Only iPad in the Classroom. I thought you might be interested so I've linked you to that article above. Enjoy!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Reading is Always a Trend in Education

Reading will always be important even if done on a screen so let's keep some focus there. I just added a widget to the home page pf this blog. You'll see it on the right hand side. It's called "Reading Tip of the Day". It originates from the Reading Rockets website. These tips might help you and can be a great thing to pass on to parents here and there. Enjoy!

Monday, January 21, 2013

More Standards?!

I know most of your heads are full of Common Core State Standard stuff - which I think is a good thing . They are asking us to teach less stuff better and more deeply. Yeah! I just thought I would share with you the public release of a draft of the NEXT Generation Science Standards put out on Jan. 8 for feedback. Even though Common Core doesn't have a specific set of science standards, so many things within the ELA and Math section tie nicely to other content areas. If you're interested, take a peak. There's a link in the "CCSS" tab above. Happy reading!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Black History

With Martin Luther King Jr. day on Monday and Black History month approaching I thought this tidbit from Richard Byrne's amazing blog Free Technology for Teachers was a goodie not to miss. This latest interactive from Scholastic takes students on a virtual trip from a southern plantation to freedom in Ohio. The trip is divided into four sections; On the Plantation, Escape, Reaching Safety, and Reaching Freedom. In each section students can listen to short narrated stories and browse through slideshows. The slideshow images are accompanied by short narrated captions. The link is all set for you in the links tab above. Thanks Richard!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Cleaning Out

A new year is a great time to clear out the old so to speak. My husband repainted my office last week and in the process I found myself going through my filing cabinets and bookshelves. I came across lots of things I had forgotten about and one of them is Shelfari. This is a free social network where users can create a virtual bookshelf to show what they've read, see what their friends are reading, and recommend, collaborate, and communicate about these books. Students can rate or review books on their bookshelf and invite friends to join their network and set up a shelf of their own. Students can even personalize their shelves by creating different sections (and book covers for each section) of their shelf. Go ahead and check it out. There's a link to it in the Links tab above.

Friday, January 4, 2013

New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year! Well, it's time to make those resolutions again and clearly mine is going to be to try and post more stuff. I am shooting for 2-3 times a month, which would be a big boost!

So, here's the first: I came across this information in a blog I read daily by Richard Byrne - Free Tech 4 Teachers - and it addresses Internet safety. There are videos for all grade ranges starting in Kindergarten about how to stay safe while you surf. While I want your students to use the fabulous Web tools that are out there, it's important to keep them out of murky waters online. Click the "Internet Safety" link on the Tech Bits page.

See you soon!