Sunday, September 30, 2007


I'm getting an idea for VoiceThread. I found out how to add students to an account. I saw how I can draw on the screen. I think I am going to put a blank white page out on the computers and let the students draw and describe exponents. This way, they can write a blog or wiki entry with exponents and not have to worry about how to get it displayed online. They will also be able to verbally describe the process.

Next week, I only see the sixth grade in computer class once. So this week, I will walk them through creating a blog entry on Classblogmeister. Once they create the entry I will have them watch my VoiceThread and comment on it. Next week, I will have two classes to describe how to access and create a VoiceThread. Once it is created, I will teach them how to attach their VoiceThread to the blog.

I password protected the blog entries for now. I'm going to have them tag the VoiceThreads as smsmoro6 for ease of locating everything. It will also give us an opportunity to discuss threads.

I like the fact that the students don't have to have an email to use the VoiceThread when I set up an account as a classroom.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Wikis vs. Static Web Pages

I initially was so happy when I learned to create and upload web pages. It gave me better access to present my classes to the parents of the school.

When I learned about wikis last March, I was determined to change those static pages to wikis. I did so over the summer. Today, I'm reaping the benefits of having those pages so edit friendly. It took a short time to update my math class wiki. I do lose out in the ability to control exactly where content is placed. It is a much plainer looking web page, but plain is not really bad. For the last two years, I never go any further than putting up information about Chapter One. Today, I quickly added a note to the students and parents about Chapter Two. It is much friendlier. I don't have to worry about creating and then uploading files. I don't have to worry about conflicts with the ISP's need for me to be on a Windows machine with a particular browser. I'm quite happy!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Little Kid Day

I spent most of the day with my smaller students today. I really love working with Kindergarten. They can be very needy at the start, but they have a real excitement for the little things. I showed two classes how to use the stamper, and change its size, and draw with the pencil tool on top of the stamp, and they were just so excited. They made some cute drawings, too. A few of the kids entertained themselves by comparing the printout to the screen. It fascinated a couple of them that the drawing was the same as the one on the screen. After teaching six years, I hadn't really heard a Kindergartener notice or comment on that before.

My third graders were busy adding stickers to an ABC chart. They've almost all mastered adding and removing stickers, flattening them, and saving every three stamps. It's a good skill since Kid Pix tends to close for no apparent reason on my iMacs. They are older (three-five years) and were upgraded from OS 9 to OS X, so maybe that has something to do with it. At least this year, I can feel confident in reminding them to File - Save As often.

The second graders are also almost done with their ABC stamper chart. So, next week we can finally begin a new project. They seem to enjoy the size of the project and coming to its completion. They love to see the printout.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

On Your Mark

We've lined up at the starting gate. The sixth grade math classes received their Classblogmeister user names and passwords. We had enough time to let everyone choose the template for their page and select a title and description.

I had hoped that I'd get to introduce the to the first topic, but that will have to hold until next week. I'm looking forward to their answers. I am curious how many of them have taken advantage of using the Schoolnotes homework list, the wiki for the class, or the podcasts I've created. I've had the Schoolnotes account for years and the wiki for the class used to be a web page. I've never taken the time to ask who used those accounts. I can see Schoolnotes is used by the way the counter rises. When the wiki was a web page, it was just too cumbersome to update too often, so I'm sure that wasn't too useful.

The podcast is brand new. I only learned how to make them this month. My first stumbling block there was finding out that I really should publish an audio only files as well as a view podcast. In addition to the podcast, I also ended up publishing slideshows to support the audio. For me, the screen on the iPod is just too small to view. Maybe it's my "old" eyes.

Anyway, I ended up "locking up" the student's files with a password. I'll keep the student's work private until I really see how it goes along. My work is public, though. I continue to look forward to how the whole thing fleshes out over the year.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tired but happy

I just spent the last two hours, give or take, reviewing two classes of wiki updates. The seventh grade especially liked the Fair(y) Use Tale explanation of copyright and fair use. The eighth grade was not as taken with it. For the most part, it seems like the students all took away at least one new idea about copyright and fair use. It's a hard topic for me to wrap my mind around.

They can't wait to see who their partners are from the other classes. Next week, we'll upload the avatars and let them guess, then I'll tell them who their partners are. I'm just too tired to look for photos for the blog these days.

Tomorrow, I'm finally getting the sixth grade going on Classblogmeister. I'm looking forward to getting that project off the ground as well.

The plans of the summer are starting to click! I'll be teaching the fifth graders Classblogmeister sometime this year and I'll save time off of next year's start up. Life is good!

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Wiki Continues

I am pretty happy with the progress on the Copyright vs. Creative Commons wiki entries. The seventh and eighth graders have done a brain dump on what they think copyright and plagiarism are. They wrote their thoughts on how what they feel their rights are as far as using images from the Internet on their web pages and classroom only PowerPoints. They also reflected on how they'd feel if someone displayed a Kid Pix or Gimp picture they created on a different web site, how they'd like someone to make money by using their image on a brochure, and how they like to see their image edited on someone else's web site.

In my heart of hearts, I wish they'd write more. Tomorrow they're going to start viewing a video on Teacher Tube: Fair(y) Use Tale. They're also going to read through Copyrights and Wrongs. I'm going to have each class add a link to the group's project. After viewing the movie and reading the web site, they're going to be writing up what they've learned.

Tomorrow's main lesson is how to add a link and how to use the discussion tab. They are eager to learn who their partners are. I told them that next week we'll add the avatar. They can try to guess who their partners are and the second class of the week, I'll let them know the names of the other group members. I think this is heading in a good direction. I still can't wait to see the final result.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Time to Document

Every year, I go through my old cryptic notes of what I did last year. I also have an Excel spreadsheet where I keep track over almost 300 things I want K-8 to accomplish. Enter Google Docs. I am creating a file for each grade.

Now, when I complete the work week, I'm going to try to update Google Docs. I just completed my tasks for grade four and five for the last two weeks. They were writing short paragraphs in Word and reviewing key tasks from last year. Grade four was writing about their favorite DreamWorks film. Grade five was writing about their favorite prayer. Even if you don't want to do those exact prompts, I'd be happy to include you as a view of the document. Leave a comment and I'll be happy to add you as a viewer.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Wiki Again

I got the eighth grade to update the wiki. I am doing a collaborative project on plagiarism, copyright, and creative commons. They are each assigned to a group. There are 21 groups. Most have three group members. A few groups had to have two members.

It is always interesting to see how kids answer questions. I gave them some discussion questions to see what they knew in advance about these topics. Over the weekend, I'm going to have to write up a sheet to explain to the seventh graders how to read what the eighth graders wrote, how to respond, and how to add to the work that was started.

Next, I am going to have them read through two web sites I found, from colleges a and b, that attempt to describe plagiarism. There is also one web site on copyrights. My intention is to have them use the discussion tab to tell how far they got, what is confusing, and where they need help. Hopefully, after several editing sessions, they will have a feel for these two terms.

I have a video to watch that introduces the idea of fair use. I'll be interested to see how this all develops. They seem intrigued by working with the other classes through the wiki.

Avatar Creation

The seventh and eighth grades used The Gimp to create a 300x300 avatar for their wiki. It took one 42 minute class to review the tool and get started. By the end of the second 42 minute period, all the drawings were complete. At this point they are xcf files. I will be opening them and saving them as JPGs this weekend. I think in the long run it will just be easier to do that.

This week, I showed the seventh grade the Wikis in Plain English video and had them sign into Wikispaces just to make sure everyone got in. Afterwards, those who had to finished up the avatar and the rest played Concert Tour Entrepreneur. The eighth grade also saw wikis in Plain English, but they were interrupted by having to help out in the office. In both classes, we talked about what collaboration is. We discussed parents who have to collaborate in their office, outside the state, and outside the country.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Podcast with images

I have finally gotten around to making a podcast with images. It's not a video podcast, per se. I also did it a little different than the first audio podcast. I only used GarageBand on the iBook to create the audio sections. I did end up saving each piece of audio for each associated image in a separate GarageBand file.

Now, my steps may be more convoluted than they need to be. I'll learn that as I go along. In GarageBand, I took each file and chose File - Export to iTunes.

I created jpg images of PowerPoint slides with <3>.

I opened iMove HD and imported images and sounds. I used the File - Share option when I was done and compressed the movie on Expert Settings. It seems like if I export as Movie to MPEG-4, I am able to see the podcast as a video podcast on my iPod.

Finally, I loaded the file up to my podomatic account. On their help screen, I found out that I could copy my RSS link to the files into iTunes. I created an iTunes account and after I submitted the RSS feed, they said they'd get back to me on the feed's entry into iTunes. I'm hoping it's a free service.

I showed my students how to access the podcast from my classblogmeister account which I have linked through my schoolnotes account.

Several hops, skips, and jumps later, I showed my math students. They seem to think it's a good idea. I'm very curious to see how many students actually use it. My first podcast was just a welcome to class. My second podcast is study notes for our first chapter quiz.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Just Caught My Eye

Speaking of exciting projects, I just watched this video: Pangea Day Needs Your Video. It really caught my eye. I found it via a forum post.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Animoto and VoiceThread Here I Come

In my constant search for new and exciting projects two products keep coming up: Animoto and VoiceThread. I had my son looking over my shoulder as I watched Wes Freyer's post from China. He was absolutely taken by both projects. I am now forming an idea for a project. I'll definitely work with Animoto with the seventh and eighth graders. I think I will have them take photos around the building of all the various grades. We will then produce a multitude of school videos. Afterwards, I will have them vote for the "best of show". We can show the videos at the end of the year, or perhaps a special assembly. I'll have to talk to the principal. I'll have to see how we can arrange to sign up for accounts or if one general school account will do. I have to look into the store limits.

I loved the book review on Wes Freyer's Wiki. It was for Eragon and Eldest. I think that I can work out this type of project for the fifth graders. Again, I have to check on account/ space requirements.

I love my job!

Red Cup/ Green Cup

One more day to go until the end of my first week with students. So far I am happy with the new cup system. I taught the first to eighth graders about it. The funny thing is that some ninth graders visited since they had off for school and they thought the cup idea was great.

Now I have to teach the kids not to wave the cup in the air. I hadn't thought about that.

A few eighth graders created some really nice avatars for our wiki. The avatars will be uploaded, perhaps, next week. They'll also use them for their blog. I didn't see too much work out of the seventh graders. They have less experience in using The Gimp.

The third graders were really happy with the Kid Pix sticker project. The second graders are doing well with a very similar project using stampers.

The fifth graders got a review of how to access the file server. I started with learning how to open a file that is already saved at that location. I just had a blank document called computer_prayer. They wrote a really short, three sentence paragraph about their favorite prayer, why they like it, and who taught them the prayer. We reviewed spacing between words and after punctuation. We also reviewed why there might be red and green squiggles.

In math class, we worked together to draw a bar graph. Tomorrow, they will draw a bar graph of their own for homework. We will also learn/review range, mode, and median. I'm almost ready to start using Accelerated Math.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


At some point over the summer, I learned about Survey Monkey. I created a survey for the first day of class for sixth through eighth grade. I am planning on having the students collaborate across three classrooms on the topics of plagiarism, copyright, and Creative Commons.

One question I asked is specifically aimed at this topic. The results were interesting. The first set is 39 seventh grade responses. The second set is 21 eighth graders. All entirely unscientific in nature, but it does seem that most students just want people to look or listen to their work. An overwhelming number also don't have a feel for why they should worry about this. It will make a good follow-up after we go through the wiki project. I'd like to know if their feeling change.

Question: You may choose more than one answer. How should people be able to use YOUR content on the Internet (both what you create at school and outside of school)? They should be able to:

  • only look or listen to it. (57.1% - 12 students)
  • share, distribute, and remix it as long as they give you credit EVEN IF they make money from the new form (0%)
  • share and distribute but NOT remix it as long as they give you credit EVEN IF they make money (4.8% - 1 student)
  • share and distribute but NOT remix it as long as they give you credit AND don't make money from your work (9.5% - 2 students)
  • share, distribute, and remix it as long as they give you credit AND don't make money from your work (9.5% - 2 students)
  • share, distribute, and remix it as long as they give you credit AND don't make money from your work AND use the same rights that you've given others (9.5% - 2 students)
  • share, distribute, and remix it as long as they give you credit AND use the same rights that you've given EVEN IF they make money from your (0%)
  • Do I really have to worry about this? (42.9% -9 students)
  • only look or listen to it. (61.5% - 21 students)
  • share, distribute, and remix it as long as they give you credit EVEN IF they make money from the new form (15.4% - 6 students)
  • share and distribute but NOT remix it as long as they give you credit EVEN IF they make money (5.1% - 2 students)
  • share and distribute but NOT remix it as long as they give you credit AND don't make money from your work (5.1% - 2 students)
  • share, distribute, and remix it as long as they give you credit AND don't make money from your work (7.7% - 3 students)
  • share, distribute, and remix it as long as they give you credit AND don't make money from your work AND use the same rights that you've given others (10.3% - 4 students)
  • share, distribute, and remix it as long as they give you credit AND use the same rights that you've given EVEN IF they make money from your (5.1% - 2 students)
  • Do I really have to worry about this? (46.2% - 18 students)

I also surveyed their use of social bookmarks, social networks, wikis, blogs, RSS readers, and other tools. I think I will use SurveyMonkey again this year. One last interesting note:

Would you like your teachers to use an online survey like this in other classes?

Seventh Yes (65.8% - 25 students) No (34.2% - 13 students)
Eighth Yes (76.2% -16 students) No (23.8% - 5 students)

So, as a once or twice a year thing, it probably will be a useful tool.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Students Day One

Today was day one for specials. I explained the cup system to the first graders. They "got it" right away. We went over the rules of the class. There were four children who were new to the school. They were able to use Kid Pix to draw a picture of themselves with the chalk/crayon/marker/pencil tool, switch colors, use the firecracker, eraser and undo guy. Only one child will need to complete the picture next week. Next week, we'll review Math Blaster so that the child can complete the drawing.

I missed one seventh grade due to Mass. The other seventh grade made it through pretty much everything I set out. I reviewed the rules and showed the CommonCraft "Social Networks in Plain English" video. We spoke a bit about why I am using Firefox this year and the fact that our home page is now They had to navigate to the seventh_grade tags and select the wiki page. From there they took the seventh grade SurveyMonkey survey. Finally, they used the graphic organizer (Who I Am) listed by Dan Meyers on his First Day of School Wiki to prepare for making an avatar on Thursday. It was a busy 42 minutes.

Math class focused on reviewing the different types of charts they will see in the chapter and we created a frequency table on meals the students make at home: breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

First Day Tasks

We start with half-days all week. I had the digital camera out and took photos of the students in the auditorium waiting to be welcomed by the principal. At the end of the year, I take the photos from the whole school year and on the last day of school we have a big slide show through iPhoto.

The Internet and server are still behaving. I cleaned up the old files from last year and made sure The Gimp will display the same screen to all students for the first class next week. One computer needed to be reinstalled. I also removed Safari from all the docks and set up Firefox to be the browser. I also set the home page to be

I am going to have (for me) very large third and fourth grade classes. I'm going to need all my desktops (16) and laptops (6). I'm going to have to set out new rules for assigned seating to handle crowd control. Luckily, this is my sixth year and I know most of the pairings that will work well. I'm also instituting a cup system for help. Green cup up - all systems go. Red cup up - help. I will save my sanity. I used to split the group with library and with 11 in the room, the Mrs. Oro's were difficult to keep up with.

I'm looking forward to presenting social bookmarks to the fifth through eight grades and having them take the survey I've prepared. Fourth and fifth are also going to be writing in Word and saving on the file server. First through third will be working on Kid Pix and Kindergarten will get a welcome to the room, we'll sing a song, and they'll try out A to Zap!

The plans are in place.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Teacher Day

My prayers were answered. The Internet and file server connection were all working today! I'm ready for the students tomorrow. My day will be quiet. Special classes don't start until Monday, so I'll be loading up Accelerated Reader, Math, and Math Facts in a Flash with students. I also have to get some photocopying done for math class. I'll see those students for a short bit.

I'm just updating PowerPoints for the first day of class. I spent so much of the summer preparing. Now it's time to put it in action. I can't wait for the students to take the SurveyMonkey survey's and start working on the blogs and wikis.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Good Day at the Ranch

I got a welcome podcast up on Classblogmeister. It may have taken more steps than necessary and I want to have an enhanced podcast eventually with multiple images, but I have a welcome podcast!

I used a podcast creation guide from Apple that I found on Google. I found background music at Mixed it up in GarageBand. Exported it to iTunes. Uploaded it to a podomatic account. Finally, added my citation for the music and downloaded it to my iPod.

This makes up for the Internet being down in the school. I'm still crossing my fingers that it's up on Tuesday after the workers in the building finish their work.