Monday, July 18, 2011

10 Lessons from Ron Clark Academy

A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to attend a conference at Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta.  It was the absolute best professional development in which I have ever participated.  It changed the way I thought, planned, and conducted myself in my classroom.  The staff's creativity and enthusiasm was contagious.  I clearly remember the excitement I felt as I dared to imagine the possibilities at my own school.
I am headed back to RCA in just a few short weeks - this time for The End of Molasses Classes book release party.

I started calling friends as soon as I saw the notice!  When I called C, I started with," I am not sure exactly what the book is about...".  She responded, "If Ron Clark wrote it, it has to be good."  (She was with me last time.)  So, we (me and 4-5 friends) are taking a road trip.  Why go back?  I remember my last visit and the 10 lessons from RCA:
1.  Be passionate ~ About your subject, yes, but also, about your kids.
2.  Let your imagination go wild ~ Honestly, I would not have thought to invite a graffiti artist to my school in the middle of the night nor would I have dreamed to install a disco ball in my math class.  Both sparked excitement and enthusiasm in the students of RCA.
3.  People want to support people who are making a difference ~ I was amazed at the people who support the school's efforts.  It is clear to see the staff's vision and impact.  Businesses, parents, universities and celebrities have joined their efforts to change the world one child at a time.
4.  Be persistent ~ Teach and re-teach. Ask and ask again.  Make a goal and work toward it everyday.  Keep doing what is right and know that a breakthrough is coming.  Do not grow weary in doing good.
5.  Every child matters ~ Every student has a destiny that only he or she can fulfill.  It is our job to help them reach their fullest potential.
6.  Every child can learn ~ It must be the inherent belief of educators.  It is my responsibility to ensure an environment conducive to high achievement.
7.  Have fun ~ School should be fun; life should be fun.  Sometimes, adults forget to have fun.  Plan for fun.  I played school as a child.  Why? It was fun for me.  Recapture and use the memories of the childhood play to infuse life into the classroom.

A slide to get from the 2nd floor to the first?  Oh, yeah!  Slide certified:)
8.  Bring your whole self to the classroom ~ Embrace your own uniqueness and use your gifts and talents to reach and teach kids others can't.
9.  It's about the kids ~ Without students, we wouldn't need teachers.
10.  Essentials are essential ~ Setting expectations is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves and for our students (Inspiring Teachers).  The Essential 55 is a collection of expectations that address respect, manners, and an appreciation of others.  As a result of our previous visit, we developed our own Essentials for Excellence, expectations that are essential for a lifetime of success.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Personalized Pop Art Project

     Some months ago, I had the opportunity to Skype with Monica Hardy and learn more about her "Me Videos" project. The 3 minute videos give her math students an opportunity to introduce themselves, share what is important to them, and give insight to their personalities.  I loved the idea! 
     This morning, I was thinking about the George Rodrigue exhibit and how I could actually combine both art and the opportunity to get to know my students within the first few days of school.   What if I challenged students to take a picture that had some significance to them and turn it into pop-art?  
     I grabbed my camera and ran outside to try a few.  The result - a fun and easy project that will provide some insight into each new friend and will yield student created products that will be perfect for displaying in the classroom.                                                                                      
Original Image

Image transformed using Pop Art Lite app

Original Image: Water Lily

Image transformed using an online Pop Art Generator

Original Image: Stump that looks like a bear
Image transformed using Big Huge Labs online

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Blue Dog: Educator Preview

My favorite Louisiana artist, George Rodrigue and wife, Wendy, will kick off the Blue Dogs and Cajuns on the River exhibit with a private workshop and exhibition for teachers.  Educators will meet the artist and his wife, get a sneak pick at the infamous Blue Dog, and have access to resources for the K-12 classroom.

When: Thursday, July 21 @ 10AM
Where:  LSU Museum of Art at the Shaw Center in Baton Rouge, LA
Cost: Free, but pre-registration is required.  Reserve a spot today!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Blog Makeover

Ahhh, summer!  A chance to reconnect with what you love.  Stay up late, sleep in, read a zillion new books, and blog.   I realized that I have over-extended myself through the years with the many blogs I have started and then neglected.  This blog, for example, has been in existence for 3 years and I have a whopping total of 15 posts!  It is not that I have been so busy that I haven't posted.  No, I just haven't posted here.  So today, inspired by SM, I revamped the look of my blog and I have promised myself that I will limit the number of blogs I nurture to two - one dedicated to ALL things related to school and one lifestyle blog.  No more compartmentalizing my education-related blogs, if it has to do with teaching and learning, you will find it here.
   To celebrate, I created a new header with ActivInspire, uploaded a snazzy background with Blogger's helpful Template Designer, and even changed the web address to something more inclusive and less stuffy and formal. Thanks for visiting School Stuff :)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Medical Practice

Spanish speaking students practiced medical terminology in the classroom infirmary. Armed only with steno pads, students diagnosed and prescribed treatment for numerous patients suffering from head injuries to broken limbs

We Be Styling!

Students strut their stuff on the catwalk while modeling favorite fashions. Classmates emceed the event in Spanish!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Following a Paper Trail

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Digital Images in the Classroom

Making up abut 65% of the population, visual learners absorb and recall information best by seeing. These learners think in pictures and create mental images to retain information. They learn best by seeing information through the use of maps, charts, and pictures. At the Mobile 2011 conference, Ty Richardson helped us imagine a classroom in which students get the "big picture" through a series of little pictures designed to scaffold learning.

Photographs can enhance learning experiences while fostering creativity, but just how does one go about incorporating Teacher-Made and Student Created Multi-media in Instruction? Ty recommends starting with iPhonography, utilizing the iDevice's built in camera. These devices provide great pictures that can be used across the curriculum.
Images enhance understanding. Images provide context clues. Images evoke emotion. Images allow students to interact with content.

Ty shared many ideas and apps to help jumpstart the creative

Ideas and Recommended Apps:
- Comic Strip+: Allows students to take photos and tell their stories via comic books. Students can give a visual representation of content.
- StoryRobe: Allows students to take photos or video and add audio to an original story. Every student can now be a published author!
- Motivation: Students can take their own photos and created motivational posters.
- Other recommended apps: Pages, story kit, sonic pics

-Rulerphone: Camera app that allows students to take measurement of any object they can photograph. Students include "business card" to provide scale.
- Protractor: Allows student to take a photo of an object whose angle needs to be calculated. App provides angle measured and complimentary and supplementary angles.

- imicroscope: Allows students to magnify and take pictures under the microscope
- SciSpy: Students can take pictures of flowers, insects, and wildlife and upload them to the scientific community (for classification and research)

- Wordlens+: Allows for translation of any sign from English to Spanish and vice versa
- Google goggles: Free translation
- Flash card Creator+: Take pictures and provide voice over to various objects. Create flashcards based upon pictures taken. Can be used in any subject.

BEST of the REST:
- Quickmark: Read and create bar codes and QR codes
- Skype: Virtual career day, distance learning and collaboration
- Sekaicamera+: virtual scavenger hunt
- Star Walk: AR app for reviewing constellations

Need more ideas?

- Hipstamatic
- Instagram:
- Camera+
- Genius Camera
- Pano: Stitches multiple pictures together
- Filterstorm: Photoshop for iPhone
- 100 Cameras in 1: HDR
- Geotag Photos
- Breadcrumbs
- Mover+: Allows for easy photosharing
- Photosync
- Timelapse
- Slow shutter
Big - owlebubo: wide photolens that functions as a macrolens
Zoom lens
Romotamatic- allows for remote control of iPhone camera
Pocket Microscope for iPhone from amazon

Becoming a Mobile Learner (iSchool Initiative) by Travis Allen

Travis Allen of ischool Initiative is a fulltime student armed only with an iPad. Now completing his second year of college, he has been able to complete all coursework on the mobile device including in-depth projects filled charts, graphs, and images. While Travis does not suggest schools ditch traditional paper and pencil and adopt his way of thinking, he reminds educators that everyone learns differently and schools should allow students to learn the way they learn best.
Teachers should not incorporate technology simply for technology sake, but use it as a tool to enhance student understanding. Travis says, "As a digital learner I don't go out looking for cool apps, I encounter a problem and I go out and find a digital solution."

So which apps is Travis using?
Organization: iStudies Pro

Taking notes in Pages and on Flash cards (cranberry)
Fun Apps: Star walk and The Elements
Textbooks: Course Smart: textbook app or read online version
Discovery software- teacher develop their own book utilizing their own pics and videos
iAnnotate- allows you to annotate over a PDF
JotNot- scans document and turns it into a PDF

Interested? See how Kearns High has embarked on a digital revolution.

Putting Mobile Back into Mobile Learning - Dr. Mark van Hoof't

You cannot do mobile learning in the classroom.  Handhelds should not simply replace pen and paper.

Desktop technologies operate in their own small world.  Mobile technologies take place in the world.

Mobile learning goes beyond the technology or delivering content to devices.  It means being able to operate successfully in and across new and ever changing contexts and learning spaces - Pachler, 2009

Mobile Learning means real and Digital realms augment each other. (Layers and wikitube) Wikitube- allows for more than just pin points
Mobile learning means learning as constructivist, situated, collaborative, informal and lifelong. Mobile learning means emphasizing 21st century skills.

How do we do this?
Sample projects
-Frequency 1550 -A Mobile Learning Game (living history project) video footage
-London Street app: You Are Here
You can do this yourself by using the program, History Pin
-Environmental Detectives: done at MIT video on You Tube
Directive Game simulation
-Cloud Bank - crowd sourcing running on Google Android; wiki type project
To help foreign workers in UK to learn slang 
-MyArtSpace (now Ookl) Way beyond running around a Museum with a worksheet
Allows students to create original products and well thought-out presentations to document their learning of the museum. Kids prepped prior to attending the museum. Attended museum, captured info, pics, and clips to be utilized later in presentation.
-QR codes You Tube video of Sigml 2009Washington DC Use a physical space and augment it with digital content.  Audio actually works better than video so that participants can look at the object while listening to significant audio clip.

Food for Thought: Importance of "place". The question is how to best balance physical and digital "places" to get the best out of both. (Milgram's Reality-Virtual Continuum(1994))

As educators, we must meet learners half-way and take advantage of the technology skills they already have, but teach them how to use these skills for learning, Learning lasts a lifetime.  Wevmust show students how to take advantage of how to utilize technology for this purpose.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The GeoHistorian Project - Dr. Mark van't Hooft

K-12 students are stepping back in time as they research, write and publish local history. Dr. Mark van't Hooft of Kent State University's Research Center for Educational Technology believes it is important to have students recognize social studies is more than just facts in a textbook and he is helping change students' perspectives through the integration of technology coupled with primary sources. In The Geohistorian Project, students Create Digital Stories about local history. The project is divided into 4 weeks with 4 tasks: 1. Discussion of the Importance of stories 2. Conducting Historical Research- students in groups visit specific locations; share research, digital pictures, and stories on wiki 3. Composing "The Story" - students are required to create a storyboard and then write the story 4. Editing Audio/video - used Photostory Once finished project is verified by the local historical society and published, students will post QR codes on locations so that others can view student-created historical content (audio, video, images). Learn more about the GeoHistorian Project at or experience it for yourself during tomorrow's Mobile Scavenger Hunt in downtown Phoenix, AZ!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Tips on Tipping

Math students practice a practical consumer skill as they calculate restaurant bills and appropriate tips.

The Geometry of Kites

After designing and creating geometrically accurate kites, students take advantage of the beautiful spring weather to see if they will fly.