December 15

Bigger is not always better

I have recently started tutoring for Rocket Learning and I accomplished more in 1 hour with those students than I have all week in my regular class.


Well, my guess would be that it is a lot easier to have productive lessons and meaningful conversations with 5 students than it is with 34 students.  Hmm, anyone else agree?This is really not an earth shattering notion but I have been thinking about it since yesterday.  We read and discussed a nonfiction article and we were able to identify story elements, main idea, make inferences and compare the main character’s life to each of our own.

Rocket Leaning uses a similar lesson plan layout to the one I use in class (although I don’t use these cool rocket related terms):

  • Ignite: Anticipatory Set (Music, Poems)
  • In-Flight Writing (Pre/Draft/Edit/Publish) or Prepare for Liftoff (Phonemic awareness/ Phonics/Vocabulary/Fluency)
  • Refueling – Test Prep/Practice
I know more about these kids than some of the ones who have been in my class for 16 weeks. I learned who the shy one is, who the jokester is and who the ringer is (I call bright kids who make sure that they correct your mistakes, answer all questions with depth and share often with the class, ringers.)
Size does make a difference and whoever said that it didn;t wasn’t being honest.  … With a smaller group, we have the opportunity to make connections that aren’t possible in larger classes.  Who said that bigger is better?  No one in a classroom of 35, that is for sure.
 Smaller is better and leads to conversations while bigger is … just plain harder.
December 11

Season’s Greetings to my PLN

Get your twitter mosaic here.


These educators, organizations, news providers, administrators, forward thinkers, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, and daughters are a part of my PLN and I want to wish each and everyone of them a Happy and Safe Holiday Season.

Thank you for your words of wisdom, support and resources.  

I am glad to call you friends. 



December 10

Be a part of the AfterGlow

Please mark your calendars and adjust your schedules to join presenters, participants, and organizers of the 2011 K-12 Online Conference in an “AfterGlow” Closing Live Event on Monday, December 12th at 6:00pm PT / 7:00pm MT / 8:00pm CT / 9:00pm ET. If you’re located outside North American timezones, please use this link (2:00 AM Tuesday, December 13 GMT) to determine the event time in your local area. “The Afterglow” is a fun, celebratory event held in Blackboard Collaborate. It will provide opportunities for presenters to share the stories behind their presentations as well as give participants a chance to ask questions of the presenters. The Blackboard Collaborate session link is: This link may be shared with others on Twitter, Plurk, blogs, etc. Please cross-post this information on your own blog, if possible, so we can amplify this live event and draw a big crowd of educators! (HTML code to cross-post is available.)

'Northern Lights' photo (c) 2008, Image Editor - license:

The MC for the event will be Susan van Gelder, who will ask the questions of the panel members and facilitate the conversations among presenters and participants. The panel will consist of all of the keynote presenters for the conference, but all presenters are encouraged to join us and come prepared to “raise your hand to take the mic” during the session if desired. Everyone can contribute actively in the chat conversation. The webinar will be an hour long and not every presenter may have an opportunity to share. There is a possibility the conversation may continue after the ‘formal’ closing of the webinar into a post-show. Participation of the presenters is optional during post show as we know everyone’s time is limited.

In addition to joining our upcoming live event, we invite you to check out and comment on a special “backstories of the 2011 K-12 Online Conference” Voicethread. Several of our presenters have already chimed in. Please add your voice and commentary!

Organizers of the 2011 K-12 Online Conference wish to express appreciation to Steve Hargadon and the Classroom 2.0 Live community for providing the “virtual meeting room” for our Afterglow live event. We hope to “see you” virtually in Blackboard Collaborate Monday night! (Use this link for times if you’re outside North America) Please invite other educators you know to join us too!

December 10

Tools to create, produce and publish


Here is my presentation from K12 Online Conference of 2011.

Here is a link to a wikipage with more resources.

December 10

I lost a student Wednesday

Wednesday night, I lost a student. He did not drop out, he did not move to another city or state, he did not transfer to another school, he was not suspended, he was not expelled – he was shot and killed not far from his house.

He was a 9th grader, he was 16, he was opinionated, he was immature, he was a class clown and disruptor.

He was also a son, cousin, nephew, student and a child.

His death is a reminder to me to take the students as they come and love them, nurture them, redirect them, discipline them, teach them, be a role model for them, cry for them and pray for them. 

We have no control over what happens outside of our classrooms, so we must make the most of the time that we spend with them.  Tuesday I told him that he had to record a poem for me and asked him what he would say if someone handed him a microphone and gave him an audience.  He thought for a minute and then he tried to take the computer to start recording.  I told him that he had to plan it out first. I told him to keep it clean and he did the best that he could: he paused for a curse word and he used screw instead of the other word he wanted to use.  The lyrics are hard to understand but the gist is: life is hard, girls are looking for baby wipes for their babies, he hears the clink of handcuffs and people are doing wrong instead of doing right.  He rapped about what he knew and I let him record it.  I let him record it because it was the only assignment that he wanted to do in weeks. I took advantage of his engagement and pushed him to complete the assignment.

I made him write out the rap, revise the rap and practice saying the rap.  And he did because he felt as though he had a story to tell. It was important to him so I let him tell it.  He composed this: Mike’s Tales from the Hood

That was Tuesday and Wednesday he was gone. Who knew it would be the last story that he would tell me.  I am glad that I gave him the mic.


My Scholars are..

December 9

Are you online yet?

My presentation will demonstrate how to use a variety of tools for teachers to help engage students and for the students to produce creative work. We will examine the uses of:

1.      Google Docs for collaboration, Google Forms to gather information

2. for ePortfolios and easy websites

3. for avatars, presentations and prior knowledge assessment

4. for student blogs

5. for an assignment blog

6. for a class blog

7. for photomovies

8.      Audacity for podcasts

9. for how to videos

10. for updates

11. to create on online classroom

12. to gather ideas and other online tools

December 7

Create, Produce and Publish

This post contains links to resources related to my presentation.

I enjoyed presenting some of my favorite Tech Tools to the online K12 Conference Audience and I hope that everyone gets a chance to play with at least one of the toys (tools).

Some of the tools that I talked about are ones that I use on a daily basis.  I hope that you too will find a use for some, if not all of them.  If you are not familiar with any of them, take the time and investigate one of them a week.  Investigate the uses for yourself and/or for your students.

 It is only by playing with a new toy that we get proficient at using it.

Being able to share what I love is a great way to push myself to do more and learn more.  So thank you for helping me to be better.  You all are members of my Personal Learning Network and I am happy to share with you some of the things that I find to be important resources.


Link to Tech Resource blog


Link to Tech Resource blog



“How To” Post a blog on Edublogs




Blog and blog some more

View more presentations from VR Burton


Link to Tech Resource blog


PBworks presentation

View more presentations from VR Burton



Link to Tech Resource blog



Link to Tech Resource blog


Creating wordles

Link to Tech Resource blog


Link to Tech Resource blog



Google Sites

December 1

Facilitators r Rockstars

K12 Online Conference to check out – Hardware is Not Enough – The Teacher/Facilitator Partnership by Kim Cofino (@mscofino)  and Chrissy Hellyer (@nzchrissy.) 

Their presentation is part of the Team Captain’s strand of the conference and they discussed examples, resources, strategies, processes and resources that can aid the relationship between teacher and facilitator.

After watching their video I am reminded why I talk sooo much about tech integration.  I am a classroom teacher who has dived head first into the tech integration world.  One of my co-workers, Devin Howard, always jokes about how he invited me to participate in an Intel Workshop years ago and I have left him behind. He makes this comment because that first Intel Workshop turned into 2 and then I took workshops on using digital cameras, flip cameras, wikis, blogs, voki, etc…  Once I got bit by the technology bug, I was forever transformed and wanted to transform the world right along with me.

I am not an official Technology Facilitator at my school but I do facilitate as often as possible. Whenever and wherever I can get someone to listen to me about Web 2.0 tools, I talk about them.  Kim and Chrissy talked about the need for a working relationship between the teachers who want and need resources and the facilitators who can help them take their lessons to a new level. They discussed the Who? What? Where? Why? and How? of fostering these relationships.  I needed this reminder/peptalk because there really are people who do not yet see the need for these collaborative efforts and it is, at times, disheartening. 

Wednesday I presented a session at LaCUE called Are You Online Yet? and my goal was to have the participants create a Twitter account, a blog and a wiki.  There were only 4 people (5 including the tech support guy who sat in and contributed) in my session BUT I felt good because everyone there left with a Twitter account and a blog.  We were not able to create a wiki because we spent a lot of time on Twitter and creating their blog.  They had questions and I provided answers and examples. WOW I facilitated!!! 

I feel good about the work that we did because as we began our work one of the teachers asked why she needed a blog.  She said “I don’t have anything important to say.”  I felt heartbroken and I had to fight back the tears because as a classroom teacher I hate it when we feel like we are not valued as an integral part of the education process.  The facilitator in me immediately jumped in and I told her that she had lots to say: the good and bad of a lesson, news about what was going on in her class, news updates that she might want to share with parents and colleagues, etc. Her next question was ‘Who will read it?’  Again the facilitator spoke up and said “Anyone you share a link with will read your posts.”

I talked to her not as a classroom teacher; but as someone who is available and ready to jump in and assist with ideas, resources and support. It was wonderful to be able to help teachers create an online presence.  That same participant who did not feel as though she had something to say went from creating a personal and classroom blog to considering how to create a blog for her school. 

In their presentation, Kim and Chrissy (and others) spoke about ways they could help one another.  We need to create more of these connections. I made a point of making sure that everyone had my contact information so that they could contact me if they had questions or needed help with anything. I did this because just like Kim and Chrissy said “Hardware is Not Enough – The Teacher/Facilitator Partnership” is important. 

Their presentation helped to invigorate my efforts to educate my colleagues at my school.  I took it upon myself to create a wiki and blog for the school and have not gotten any real support from others but thanks to Kim and Chrissy, I will continue to try to create an environment that promotes collaboration and facilitation.