Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Grant Database is free grant finding resource for teachers and schools
Have a great idea and looking for a grant to help fund it?  Need some help figuring out where to start?  Check out Get Grant Funding:  According to Big Deal Media,

"GetEdFunding is CDW-G’s website to help educators and institutions find the funds they need to supplement already stretched budgets. GetEdFunding is a free and fresh resource, which hosts a collection of more than 2,100 grants and other funding opportunities culled from federal, state, regional and community sources and available to public and private, preK–12 educators, schools and districts, higher education institutions and nonprofit organizations that work with them. The site offers customized searches by six criteria, including 43 areas of focus, eight content areas and any of the 21st century themes and skills that support your curriculum. Once you are registered on the site, you can save the grants of greatest interest and then return to read about them at any time."

Doodle4Google: If I Could Invent One Thing to Make the World a Better Place...

Draw your own doodle about:

If I Could Invent One Thing to Make the World a Better Place...

Welcome to the 2014 Doodle 4 Google competition

Before there was an airplane, there were doodles of cool flying machines. And before there was a submarine, there were doodles of magical underwater sea explorers. Since the beginning of time, ideas big and small, practical and playful, have started out as doodles. And we’re ready for more. One talented young artist (grades K-12) will see his or her artwork on the Google homepage and receive a $30,000 college scholarship and a $50,000 Google for Education technology grant for his or her school.

Closing date for entries is Thursday, March 20th.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Mobile Learning Conference

Learn how mobile devices can empower learning April 25, 2014 Registration: 7:30a - 8:30a | Conference: 8:30a 3:30p Kalamazoo RESA, 1819 E. Milham 
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Learn how mobile devices can empower learning

April 25, 2014

Registration: 7:30a - 8:30a | Conference: 8:30a 3:30p

Kalamazoo RESA, 1819 E. Milham Ave., Portage, MI 49002

Call for Speakers is open until March 1st. If you are using mobile devices in your classroom, share your experience with others.
Online Registration is now open. If you are using or would like to start using mobile devices in your classroom, this is an experience you should not miss.

Goals of the Conference:

A. apply at least one new skill in using mobile technology personally;
B. demonstrate leadership by teaching and modeling the use of mobile technology to others in their district; and
C. identify at least two ways mobile technology can be used to support instruction and student learning
Cost is $65 and includes breakfast snacks, lunch and a chance to win technology prizes, including an iPad.
Conference is sponsored by MACUL, REMC Association of Michigan and Kalamazoo RESA. Contact Tina Tribu if you have any questions.
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©2014 Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency | 1819 E. Milham, Portage, MI 49002 Tel: (269) 250-9200
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Audio Comments in Google Docs

Providing rich, timely feedback for our students is one of the most important things that we do as educators.

When writing or typing a comment, we may find it difficult to convey the exact intent of our message. If only we had a convenient way to express our thoughts audibly.

Well, now we do! is a free service that easily connects to our Google accounts and creates audio comments, text comments, and resource comments on students' work. Simply move your documents, either one at a time or as a folder, to Kaizena and you can enter multiple comments to a single selection of text, whether it be a letter, word, phrase, or paragraph.

While leaving audio comments may bring clarity to your suggestions, leaving a resource comment allows you to link an online resource for the student to visit and review. A resource might be a news article, a video, a reference site, or notes from a lecture.

If you tried Kaizena when it was first released, you may want to give it another try as this service now works flawlessly. Bring greater meaning to what you are attempting to convey!

For an overview of how Kaizena works, please visit this video.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Chromebooks in the Classroom: Differentiating Math with Socrative and Sumdog

In the last month, we deployed 640 chromebooks to the elementary schools and community high.  The possibilities these devices bring to the classrooms can be amazing and overwhelming all at the same time.  It is our goal, as technology integration specialists, to help teachers create engaging lessons using these devices that foster unique, customizable learning opportunities for all students.  With this goal in mind, Paul and I set out to create videos to demonstrate how teachers, right here in PPS, are using these devices with their students.  The short video below is our first attempt.  It features Todd Chappa, 3rd grade teacher at Lake Center Elementary.  In the lesson, he discusses how he uses the tools and to help him differentiate instruction in math and make it possible for him to effectively run small group instruction.  We hope you find it useful and that it sparks a fire of inspiration for you with your own students.

A BIG thanks to Todd for letting us invade his classroom and share his techniques.  If you, or a teacher you know, is using technology in a great way in your classroom and would be brave enough to share, please let us know!

Friday, February 14, 2014

What Students Remember Most About Teachers

February has always been my least favorite month of the school year as a teacher.  The weather is cold and snowy, so we have too many days of indoor recess.  The days of sunshine are few and far between.  Winter break was a long way in the past and spring break is barely a dot on the horizon.  This time of year, the kids are grouchy, the parents are grouchy, and the teachers...well, you get the picture.  It is this time of year that I always need to remind myself about why I teach and the importance of what we all do for our students.

As I was going through my emails today, I came across this great blog post forwarded me by a colleague.  It really hit home.  It is a letter from a veteran teacher to a new teacher about what students remember most about teachers.  In it the author, Lori Gard, describes what really matters to our students.  Here is a brief expert:

Because we want our students to think we’re the very best at what we do 
and we believe that this status of excellence is achieved merely by doing. 
But we forget- and often. Excellence is more readily attained by being.

Being available.
Being kind.
Being compassionate.
Being transparent.
Being real.
Being thoughtful.
Being ourselves.

And of all the students I know who have lauded teachers with the laurels of the highest 
acclaim, those students have said of those teachers that they cared.

If you, like me, need a February reminder about why we teach, check out the full post at  It is worth the read.

Happy Valentine's Day

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sound Gecko: Read the Web with Your Ears!

This great site was recommended by one of our fantastic first grade teachers at Angling Road...Thanks Johnna Kline!

I spend a lot of time in my car....A LOT!  One thing that gets me through all that time behind the wheel is listening to the radio.  Music and NPR are frequently the companions that get me through the day.  There are also a ton of web articles out there that I have bookmarked to read....if I ever spend enough time at my desk to partake in that particular activity.  What if I could listen to these articles while I am driving from place to place instead of having to sit at my desk and read them...SWEET!

This is where Sound Gecko comes in!

Sound Gecko is a great app/website that will take websites and articles on the internet and read them aloud.  There is a free version that will allow you to listen to 30 articles a day, or you can upgrade to the premium subscription for $2.95 per month for unlimited listening and many other fancy features.  

Now this isn't just great for our personal use.  Imagine what a great tool it could be for our students, especially those who struggle with reading and/or need things read to them as part of an accommodation in an IEP.  They can do research and put the sites into Sound Gecko, stick in their ear buds and be ready to rock.

This site is SO easy to use.  All you need to do is enter (I prefer copy and paste) the website address (URL) for the site you want read to you.  You then enter your email and you are off and running.  So simple!

There are apps for Apple devices, Android devices, Windows Phone and there is even an extension in the Chrome web store that would send a web page to Sound Gecko with the click of a button (great for chromebooks!)

Check it out today, and let us know how you might use it with your students!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Blogger: Blogging with Students

I am currently in the midst of a blogging project with my 4th grade computer students.  Yes, you read correctly, I am teaching my 4th graders to blog.  There are so many wonderful higher order thinking/writing skills students can practice while blogging.  Blogging allows them to create a web presence that is uniquely theirs to express their learning or ideas.  It also encourages them to evaluate and analyze what others are saying and write kind, yet critical, comments in response.  These comments then spark further conversation and analysis.

Now, there is a process to teaching students to blog.  I wouldn't jump right in and given them a "have at it!"  I think it is critical to teach each component of blogging on paper before you set them loose on the world wide web.  In order to do this, I have adapted a lesson I first learned about from the blog Notes from McTeach.  In her blog post, Karen McMillan discusses her adventures in teaching her 7th graders to blog using paper.  What I really liked about her lesson was the emphasis she put on developing her students commenting skills.  I have been working through this process with my 4th graders and it is really interesting to see the thought they put in to their comments.  Providing comment starters, like the ones shown in Karen's blog post were critical to get my students beyond the "it was good" response.

Richard Byrne, from Free Technology for Teachers, recommends blogging to all teachers.  He offers up three possible ways to use blogs in the classroom: Distribution, Discussion, and Demonstration.  To learn more about these three ideas and to check out his "Complete Guide to Using Blogger in School" take a look at his blog post The One Activity I Recommend to Every Teacher.

If you would like to discuss ways you could integrate blogging in to your classroom, we are here to help.  If you have used blogging in your classrooms and/or with your students, I would love to hear about it.  Please leave a comment and share your experience (both the trials and tribulations!).

Monday, February 10, 2014

QR Wild: QR Code Scavenger Hunt
Looking for a fun way to get your kids up and active while also engaging them in the content of the lesson?  Why not create a QR code scavenger hunt?  Students can use the QR codes to access information and clues to their next code.  PE teacher?  Have each code be a different physical activity the students need to complete.

According to the website:
QR Wild® scavenger hunt games are perfect for trade shows, conferences and educators! Your audience scans trackable QR Codes placed at physical locations that you'd like them to visit. As the game pieces are scanned the player earns points and unlocks "badges". You can even display a scoreboard online!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Digital Learning Day 2014: February 5th!


What is Digital Learning Day?

Digital Learning Day is making a difference in the future of education, inspiring educators to incorporate digital learning into their schools and classrooms year-round. Digital Learning Day is about giving every child the opportunity to learn in a robust digital environment everyday, with the goal of success in college and a career. Every February, thousands of educators come together to celebrate digital learning and the successes they have had by integrating digital learning into their schools and classrooms. Help us continue to make a difference in the future of education by participating in Digital Learning Day today.

Why is it Important?

On February 5th, 2014 Digital Learning Day will celebrate the impact digital learning has on education across the country.

What are some schools across the country doing?

One school is hosting a technology showcase for parents and community members to show off student work & hold mini digital learning lessons.
Another school is using Google Hangout to debate technology in education with other classrooms.

How can I get involved?

  • Go to and Take the Digital Learning Pledge
  • Sign up for the daily digital education tips
  • Check out the teacher approved tools and resources
I would love to hear about what you are planning for Digital Learning Day.  Please leave a comment to share your great ideas!