Monday, December 24, 2012

Photo Cube

Photo Cube

I just discovered Photo Cube and decided to make one for my blog. I'm sure there are many ways to use this tool. I bet my students would love adding one to their blogs.

It is just a matter of browsing your photos and uploading them to the Photo Cube page. Then you copy the HTML code and add it to your blog or website.

How could you use this site in your classroom?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Feeling Helpless? Read and Share it Widely

Friday marked another horrible school shooting rampage. This time in Connecticut where 20 students (mostly kindergarten aged) and 6 adults lost their lives. As we got the news from our phones during our lunch break, we discussed how we would probably be required to review and practice our lock down procedures. And sure enough, that is what happened as grade level chairs were summoned to the office for just that reason.

As I reviewed the procedures we have in place at my school, I couldn't help but wonder if there wasn't more we could do. Well I got my answer today as I saw a tweet that lead me to this guest post by Kris Still on his wife's, Beth Still, blog.

Preparing for the Worst Case Scenario

Please share this post with everyone you know who has a child attending school or a family member in the education field. Kris gives us some sound ways to properly prepare to protect ourselves and the children faithfully placed in our care everyday. Go out immediately and start gathering the materials he talks about or seek funding to get these items into every classroom as soon as possible. Let's be as prepared as we possibly can be should such a horrific event ever enter our school. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

From Mystery Skype Call to Mystery Location Call

For the past couple of years, classrooms around the country and the world have been participating in Mystery Skype calls. (You can read more about that here.) These "learning calls", as Silvia Tolisano likes to refer to them, are a great way to integrate technology into your lessons. By following Sylvia's suggestions for giving students jobs during the Mystery Skype calls they are all actively engaged in the process. As many of my PLN (personal learning network) friends have mentioned on Twitter, their students eagerly look forward to each Mystery call and beg to do more of them.

This year some of the teachers who have been doing Mystery Skype calls are now turning to a newer tool to use for video conferencing - Google Hangouts (GHO). While those of us that have tried GHO are excited about the improved quality of the calls and being able to conference with up to nine other classes at one time, it caused a dilemma. What do we now call these Mystery calls? 

Well, tonight during a GHO with several others, we were working on a collaborative Google document for some projects we are working on. In the section where we had typed Mystery Skype Call, I changed it to Mystery Location Call (via Skype/GHO). Everyone else working on the doc liked the name change. So from now on I plan on using that wording when I write about or tweet about them - Mystery Location Call.

You can read about the first Mystery Location Call I did using GHO with Bill Krakower's class here. And below is the animoto video Bill made of our call.
Make your own photo slideshow at Animoto.

I hope that others will agree to the change of the name from Mystery Skype Call to Mystery Location Call.

Have you done a GHO yet? How have you used GHO to connect with another class?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Day 5 - Connected Educator Month

Today I am the official tweeter for @ConnectedEd. Each day during the month of August one person will assume the profile of @ConnectedEd and send out tweets about their connectedness. Here is the link to the list of tweeters for the month. Thanks, Karen, for setting this up.

1. I began my morning at 8:00 and sent out my first tweet after I got logged in and changed the profile to reflect that I was the tweeter for today.

2. I was lead to a YouTube video of Jarrod Lamshed and George Couros (to whom I am already connected -we presented on a panel together at ISTE11) singing karaoke to Justin Bieber's "Baby" by my friend @wmchamberlain's tweet. I decided to check out Jarrod's blog since it is titled "Connected Learning". Loved following this journey and I am now connected to Jarrod. 

3. I didn't get many takers when I tweeted about filling out this survey. Either people don't like filling out surveys, or they aren't sure how they are going to work on flattening their classroom walls.

4. I saw my friend @ncarroll24 had written a new blog post entitled "Schoolmares" so I hopped over to her blog, read the post, and left her a comment. Later in the day Nancy sent out a tweet thanking me for the comment.

5. Discovered Ellen (aka @play@cre8) because she retweeted (RTed) that I was the @ConnectedEd tweeter of the day. I saw her RT in the TweetChat stream and clicked on her avatar which led me to her blog. Funny thing is Ellen, whom I did not know until today, and I were in the Google Power Searching MOOC together this summer. She wrote about an interesting happening in that class here. I left a comment for her and am now following her on Twitter.

6. I spent part of the afternoon working on lesson plans and things for the beginning of school. I start back tomorrow and the students come on Thursday.

7. Unfortunately, I have a terrible head cold, so I took some medicine after I ate dinner and it knocked me out. I woke up and realized I had missed one of my favorite chats. I am a member of an Edmodo book club and we are reading Tony Wagner's Creating Innovators. Jeff McCouch set up the book club and moderates the #cistudy chat on Sunday evenings at 7 CT.

8. I read through the #cistudy tweets and RTed several as @ConnectedEd. One of the teachers who joined the #cistudy chat tonight was Dana Sirotiak, a 7th grade teacher from New Jersey that I connected with face to face last week.

I was presenting for the 21st Century Community Education Conference being held in New Orleans. A Twitter buddy, Bill Krakower, told me Dana would be attending the conference. So Dana and I and her traveling partner, William Diaz met and had dinner while they were in town. I love making connections like this.

9. So as I wrap up my day as the voice of @ConnectedEd, I think all in all it was a good day. I wish I had been feeling better because I wanted to host a Google Hangout or two today and connect with members of my PLN. I believe I sent out over 50 tweets and have others tweeting with the official #CE12 hashtag. So I'm off to bed to get a good night's sleep on the eve of the beginning of my 2012-2013 school year.

10. I am glad I had this opportunity and I am looking forward to the rest of the Connected Educator Month.

Day 4 - Connected Educator Month

I am spending this Sunday catching up on my posts for Connected Educator Month (CEM).

Saturday got off to a slow start as I slept in and nursed my head cold. Yuck! I spent the morning adding links to a Google doc that I will share with teachers at my school next Tuesday during one of our PD days. I have been gathering Common Core State Standard (CCSS)sites that I think will be helpful to them as we transition from our state grade level expectations to the CCSS.

 In the afternoon I went to school. I saw Brenda, my principal, and we chatted about what I would be presenting to the staff on Tuesday. She was so grateful that I have put together the Google doc to share with others.

 Tracy, the other fourth grade teacher, who will also be teaching math, science, and social studies to two classes of fourth graders and I did some brainstorming. I went over some Kagan structures with her, showed her how to log into our BrainPOP subscription, and set up her eBoard note. We created a 4th Grade folder in Dropbox so that we can easily share files.

Again due to not feeling well, I took an afternoon nap. I was supposed to attend a bon voyage party for friends who are moving to China for the next four years. I decided I was in no condition to party, so I dropped off dessert at Janet's house (the hostess) and said my good-byes to Vicky and Dwayne. Vicky and I talked about her Skyping into my class after she gets settled in in her new home.

Day 3 - Connected Educator Month

I am spending today catching up on my Connected Educator Month posts.

I hate having a head cold. You know the feeling - your head feels like the biggest bowling ball in the world and your neck aches from holding it up. I usually get a cold shortly after school starts each year. I always blame my students for giving me one. LOL  Well, maybe it will be over by the time I get to meet my new students for the 2012-2013 school year on Thursday, August 9.

Today my connections were on the local level. I went to school on the last Friday of my summer vacation to meet with the other three teachers on my fourth grade team. We discussed our schedule, the start of our transition to the Common Core State Standards and worked on setting up our classrooms. Since I will be teaching science along with math and social studies this year, I have reached out to several other fourth grade teachers in our district who have taught science to share any resources they might have to get me going. (Thank you Patti and Amy for sharing with me.)

After going home and taking a nap through an afternoon thunderstorm, I attended the Tim McGraw - Kenny Chesney Brothers of the Sun concert at the Superdome.
Kenny Chesney & Tim McGraw

Picture Credits - Cold; Tim and Kenny 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Day 2 - Connected Educators Month

I was invited by Michael Graffin (Australia) to join the Hello Little World Skypers in May of this year. Since joining this group I have really expanded my global connections. There are over 100 educators from around the world who are members of this group. They use the IM feature of Skype on a daily basis to connect and collaborate. They share links to things they are working on, offer help with web tools to anyone who needs it. and share stories of what they are doing to integrate technology into their classrooms. Here is a map showing the location of the members who added themselves to it. You can get more information about them on their wiki.

Today I was and will continue to be busy being a connected educator.

8:00 - I did a Google Hangout with Theresa Allen (IL) and Janet Barnstable (IL) to work on the virtual PD we are presenting to Theresa's faculty on August 20. Steve Sherman joined us from South Africa, where he was presenting to a group of principals.

9:00 - I attended a session of the TxVSN virtual conference on blended learning. It was called "Preparing for Blended Learning" and the presenter was Lisa Fraine from the Florida Virtual School.

10:00 - I had a phone conversation with Tracy Zelden, a new teacher, who is joining our 4th grade team at my school this year.

10:15 - I did another GHangout with Dana Racanelli, in Texas, as she presented at a workshop to her teachers. We were joined by Lorraine from MA, Jose from Honduras, Jose from Spain, Steve from South Africa, Theresa from IL, and Janet from IL.

1:30 - I am doing a presentation with my buddy, Jan Wells from Kansas, for the TxVSN Virtual Conference. Our topic is "We Flatten Our Classroom Walls, Do You?"

6:00-8:00 - I will be doing a podcast with Jeff Bradbury of TeacherCast to discuss how teachers who participate on #4thchat on Twitter collaborate in our classrooms. Kim Powell from MI , Bill Krakower from NJ, and Nancy Carroll from MA are scheduled to join us.
** Update - Due to scheduling conflicts, our podcast interview had to be rescheduled. I felt a head cold coming on so I went to bed early. **

Okay, I off to continue my connected journey.

What are you doing to be a connected educator?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Choose2Matter - Day 1 of Connected Educator Month

I am glad that I was invited to join the Facebook group Choose2Matter. (Was it created by Angela Maiers?) I received an email on July 26 notifying me that Paula White had invited me. At that time there were a couple of hundred people, mostly educators, in the group. Today as I was checking out the latest activity from the group, I noticed there are now over 4,600 members.

Today is August 1 and it is Day 1 of Connected Educator Month. Being a member of Choose2Matter is a great way to be connected. I know that I will learn much from the people in this group. 

As I was reading the posts about how members of the group choose2matter, I came across the imagine above posted by Donna Baumbach that she created here

Here is how I choose2matter:
1. I will ask my principal to make Choose2Matter our school's theme. 
2. Print and proudly display the above poster in my classroom.
3. Continue my journey as a lifelong learner everyday.
4. Learn alongside my students everyday.
5. Tell and show my students each day that #youmatter.

I hope you Choose2Matter every day!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Finally, My ITSE12 Reflection

How does this happen? Seems like it was a week ago that I was so excited to be heading to beautiful San Diego for ISTE12, and now here it is two weeks after that event and I'm finally getting my reflection of my time at the conference posted. I know I needed some time to process my adventure and learning before I wanted to write about it, but I honestly didn't think it would take this long.

Being able to present at ISTE on a panel with Beth Still, Josh Stumpenhorst, and Nicholas Provenzano was an incredible experience and helped me hone my presentation skills. Presenting about Building Your PLN with Twitter Chats with Jan Wells, JoAnn Jacobs, Joan Young, and Jason Seliskar at ISTE Unplugged was an extremely emotional experience. (I broke down in tears.) Attending sessions and parties allowed me to deepen my relationships with present PLN members and begin building new relationships with new people I met.

I learned from Vicki Davis to think about your three big take-aways so that you didn't feel overwhelmed by everything a conference like ISTE has to offer, or get upset with yourself because you didn't get to more sessions. 

As I have spent time reflecting on my take-aways, I first had to revisit the goals I set before heading to ISTE. My most important goal this time was to spend lots of quality time with Jan Wells, my Skype buddy and virtual co-presenter from Kansas.  Jan and I have been collaborating for three years and would be meeting for the first time face-to-face. You can read more about that here

My second goal was to help ISTE newbies navigate the hugeness of this conference and get connected. I hosted a BYOBreakfast in the Newbie Lounge on Monday morning to get things rolling on that goal. I met and had wonderful conversations with newbies and they were grateful for any advice that I or others shared with them. 

I also had a third goal to spend some meaningful face-to-face time with as many of my PLN members as I could fit in during my time at ISTE. I made this a goal after I left ISTE last year feeling very badly that I didn't get to have meaningful conversations with more PLN members. I was going to make sure that didn't happen again this year. Due to the fact that I shared a house with 15 members of my PLN, this enabled me to do so with them. Each day I sought out other PLN members and had great conversations with them too. 

Do you notice an interesting trend with the goals I had pre-ISTE? I had set goals about conversations and connections with people. I was not worried about learning about the latest tool or teaching technique. Why? Well, I can learn about those things while sitting at home thanks to Twitter. 

So now on to my three best take-away from ISTE12. 

Take-away #1 - Conversations
 I'm not the best at setting goals and carrying them out, so I am extremely pleased that I was very successful about accomplishing the goals I had set before heading to San Diego. ISTE12 will go down as one of the best for the amount of time I spent having meaningful conversations with lots of friends, both old and new. It feels good to be able to say that. 

Take-away #2 - Student Directed Learning
I spent some time thinking back over what I heard during presentations and conversations this year. There didn't seem to be as much talk about tools or devices. I heard more about collaboration and next steps. I also heard less about blocked sites and more about best practices that are happening in classroom all over the country. I heard more about how schools are trying to let students have a hand in their own learning and follow their passions. Helping our students become life-long learners is so important to their successful futures. So is teaching them how best to use the tools and sites that exist, but are always evolving. I will definitely be keeping student directed learning on the front burner this year. 

Take-away #3 - Priceless
I made the right decision about spending the money to attend ISTE. Registration $300, travel and board $1,000, learning and memories priceless. Getting to spend eight days with Jan really was priceless. 

                                       Photo credit - Peggy George

What are your three take-aways from ISTE12? Are you planning to attend ISTE13?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Erin's Hosting a Huge GiveAway

I'm not to sure about linky parties and such in the blogging world, but I occasionally find some great giveaways and resources by following them. Today I discovered that my friend, Erin Klein, who I just saw last week at ISTE in San Diego is hosting a HUGE giveaway. Since I can earn more entries for a chance to win if I blog about her contest, I thought "Why not?" You can entry to win fabulous prizes by visiting her blog. Kleinspiration.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Meeting My Skype Buddy

One of my New Year's Resolutions for 2009, was to get into social media and learn how to build my personal learning network (PLN). By the summer of that year, I was feeling pretty comfortable with Twitter and Nings. I decided my next step was to find another like-minded teacher and figure out how I could connect our classes.

Enter Jan Wells, a fourth grade teacher from Kansas. Jan and I "met" on a Ning hosted by Jen Wagner. We both joined the Skype Buddies group on that Ning, and I responded to a discussion Jan had posted. We chatted back and forth on the discussion thread and realized we were very similar in our approach to teaching in our classrooms. We exchanged email addresses and eventually started IMing each other on Skype. By the time school started that year, we had a very rough plan for connecting our classes through Skype and projects hosted through Projects by Jen. We became Skype buddy classes. You can read more about our Skype adventures here.

Since 2009, Jan and I have been Skype buddy classes, presented together several times for virtual conferences, backchanneled on the Classroom 2.0 Live webinars, and interacted on Twitter. Fast forward to ISTE12 in San Diego. For the first time in our three year relationship, Jan and I met face to face at the San Diego airport. She flew in from Kansas on Sunday and decided to wait for my arrival. When I landed several hours later, we had a joyous "reunion". Yes, it was a reunion, because we had built such a strong relationship online thanks to social media. We were like two high school friends reconnecting at a class reunion. We picked up our conversation right where we had left off on Twitter for the days preceding our trips to San Diego.
Jan Wells Meeting at San Diego airport

We were picked up at the airport by Tim Gwynn and went to the hacienda where 15 members of our PLN are staying during our week at ISTE. It still amazes me how my connections on social media (mostly Twitter) have lead to some unbelievable opportunities and personal interactions with so many wonderful educators from around the world.

What wonderful opportunities have unfolded for you because of social media? Have you had one-of-a-lifetime experiences because of your PLN?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

2012 DENny Awards

I have been a Discovery Educator Network (DEN) STAR and part of the Louisiana DEN Leadership Council since 2009. As part of this wonderful organization, I have participated in so many wonderful events sponsored by Discovery Education including Day of Discovery in Silver Springs, Maryland and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the DEN Leadership Council Symposium in Boston, the DEN Summer Institute in San Diego, and virtual conference days every fall and spring since I joined.

On the evening of May 17, at the fourth annual DENny awards, I was honored with a PL DEN Award for my 365 Day Project.  Unfortunately I was unable to attend the live presentation of the awards, because I was helping prepare for our annual Parent Volunteer Breakfast which was being held at my school on Friday, but I would like to say how truly honored I am by this award. Below is the recording of the DENny Awards. (Mine starts at 9:27.)

When I got home Thursday night I found out via Twitter that I had been honored with a DENny Award.

I would like to thank Discovery Education and the DEN for this honor. I would also like to congratulate all of the other DEN members who received DENny Awards for 2012. I am inspired by all of you.

(Note - I crossposted this on on Louisiana DEN blog.)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Student's Self Evaluation Based on Marzano's Levels of Understanding

Like many people I know, I love Pinterest. But unlike many people I know, I use it more for educational idea-gathering than for fashion ideas and recipes. Today, I found this pin and was inspired to turn it into this Google document that I can use with my students.

Hopefully many others will find it useful as well. Please feel free to pin it, share it, or embed it. Just remember to give credit where credit is due like I did. 

Have you found a great educational resource on Pinterest? Please share it in the comments. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

3rd Twitter Anniversary - February 25, 2009-February 25, 2012

Wow, I can hardly believe that it was three years ago that I was struggling to understand Twitter. Today I can't imagine my life without it. February 25 is my Twitter anniversary. I joined on that date in 2009 and have blogged about my anniversaries here and here.

Here is an update on my Twitter stats:
       Followers 5,139
       Following 1,240
       Tweets 16,008
       Listed 341
I know my number of tweets has increased dramatically this year due in part to being a moderator for #4thchat on Mondays at 7 pm CST. I also try to participate in #elemchat on Saturdays at 4 pm CST. Some of the other ed chats I ave contributed to are #edchat, #ntchat, #gtchat, and #tichat when I can fit them into my schedule.

If you are on Twitter but can't remember when you joined, you can find out by typing your Twitter handle into When Did You Join Twitter. If you are not on Twitter, I can't imagine why not. Everyday I get to learn new things from my PLN (personal learning network) and each week I do my own professional development hours on topics that interest me.

When is your Twitter anniversary? Can you share one reason why teachers should be on Twitter?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Themeefy - My First One

Themeefy is a new way to collect, curate and publish artifacts from the web to a personal theme magazine. You can use the resource tabs to search for items on your topic or include your own links. I made my example in less than three minutes. You have a sign up for a free account.

I could see this being used as an ePortfolio. Oh, if only my 4th graders had email accounts.

How would you use Themeefy?

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year's Resolution Project for Your Class

Ally, aka as @FlyontheCWall, was on Twitter today asking for an idea of a great way to display her students' New Year's Resolutions.

I remember that I used to have my students write their resolutions on their silhouettes.

Here is how we did it. I would have the student sit on a stool with their shoulder touching the board. I would tape a piece of black construction paper to the board behind their shoulder. Then I would use my overhead projector to reflect their silhouette onto the piece of paper. I would quickly take a pencil and trace around the shadow they were casting unto the paper. Next, the student would carefully cut out his "head" and write his resolutions on it using white crayons or chalk.

Here is one I made using a silhouette clipart and the Paint program on my computer to give you a visual representation.

They look great on display on the windows, bulletin board, or lining your hallway.

Do you have a New Year's Resolution project you do with your students? Please share your ideas with a comment.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


Alright I've decided on a theme for my #365Project. Now let's see if I can keep it updated properly. I will try to add a picture of one tweet from the day that helped me learn and connect with the members of my PLN. Sounds easy enough. We'll see what happens. You can follow my progress on my #365Project by visiting my Posterous site


Posted via email from Paula's posterous


I enjoyed another lazy day of my Christmas holiday. Finished reading Mockingjay, the third book in the Hunger Games trilogy that I started reading on December 26, and watched the Saints earn a playoff berth by having a great game against the Panthers.

I cooked dinner, ate and then took a long early evening nap. Of course, when I woke up I picked up my computer to see what was happening of this first day of 2012 on Twitter. I read tweets that took me to several great blogposts, and I even left some comments.

A tweet from Joan Young led me to this post by Karen McMillan. After I read it, I tweeted #youmatter to various members of my PLN (personal learning network) and wished them a Happy #YouMatterDay.

Who matters in your life? Remember to tell them #youmatter and Happy #YouMatterDay to you.