Thursday, October 13, 2011

Write On!!!

I have to share a fabulous resource for writing!  It was featured on the ilearntechnology blog a few weeks ago, but was first tweeted by @johntspencer.  This website is a tumblr webpage where students can go daily for new, quick picture writing prompts.  The pictures and topics are geared for middle school grades, however, some could be adapted for upper elementary grades as well.

                                           (example writing prompt)

I love the fact that students can quickly go to the website, (either using 1-1 computing or by having the teacher display the site on a projector or IWB) find their creative writing inspiration, and write away!  If students have 1-1 computers, why not have the students blog their responses instead?!?  If students do not have a blog account a simple writing notebook would suffice.  The pictures and topics are really wonderful and can inspire the most reluctant of writers in your classrooms.  I hope you find this website as inspiring as I did!!


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Geek Speak: Let the kids teach!

Is it really already October?!?  I was amazed to see this on my calendar this morning.  The first few months of school always seem to fly by.

Recently, I had to create a student achievement goal for this school year that is linked to my performance pay for the year.  Because so many of the ed tech state standards are performance based and hard to measure with quick assessments, my asst. principal and I thought it would be best to stick with something easier to assess (at least for my first year as a tech teacher).  So it ends up that my student achievement goal is linked to my 6th graders knowing various content technology vocabulary.  After choosing various words, I knew that there would be certain words on my list that would not be covered teaching my project-based units.  I had to come up with an idea to cover them all.  Then after doing a little searching and some help from Ask A Tech Teacher, my "Geek Speak" project/vocab. wall was born!

What is "Geek Speak?"  Geek Speak is just a funny coined phrase you can use instead of "technology vocabulary."  Something that middle schoolers might buy into more as well.  I chose a bunch of technology vocabulary that would act as my "geek speak" words and posted them on one of my walls in my tech lab (see image above).  (I currently just finished hanging this up.)  Next, I am going to have each student in all of my classes choose a word from the wall.  They will then have to come up with a 2-3 minute presentation on their chosen word.  You can set different parameters for their presentation, like have them try a new Web 2.0 tool to present, have them create a visual representation of the word, use powerpoint/prezi, etc.  How you want them to present is really up to you!  After each student presents (I plan on having 2-3 students present at the beginning of class each day) have the class record the word and definition in a log (either online or paper/pencil) to keep track of vocab. meanings.  All words will be covered by the end of presentations and students will have more ownership of their learning!  I am really excited to try this out...AND of course let you know how it goes.:-)

Until next time....

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Apple on the Brain!

Lately, I have really been looking into (and secrectly wishing, hoping, and praying about) getting a class set of either ipod touches or ipads for my technology classes.  I am constantly amazed at the quality of educational apps that are now available.  There are so many amazing learning opportunities my students could experience with these apps!  For a school filled with PCs and zero Apple products, it would also be great to expose my students to the wonderful world of Apple!

There is a wonderful blog out there called Learning in Hand, created by Tony Vincent, that has so many wonderful resources for using moble devices, such as the apple products I listed above, in the classroom.  Just recently, I read one of his blog posts titled Myths about iOS, iPad, iPhone & iPod touch that I found very informative for anyone with, or wanting a class set of these amazing tools.

For those of you that have ipod touches or ipads, how are YOU currently using them in the classroom?  I'd love to hear your ideas! 

(Talking Tech Teacher)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Why I love Wikis!

My love for wikis came from one of my NAU Educational Technology Master's classes called Creating Learning Environments.  I was amazed at how my professor was able to create a user friendly Master's level course with just a wiki!  No Blackboard?  No Vista?  No Moodle?....No need!  Not with a wiki, anyways.  The more my class trudged on, the more I was amazed with just how capable a wiki actually was.  The more I used our course wiki, the more fascinated I became with them.  I then decided to start using them on my own for some of the project-based assessments that I had to create for my various classes. 

Today, I still love the fact that wikis allow for easy WYSIWYG editing, easy collaboration, easy organization....and are completely free!  I now have a classroom wiki (  instead of a classroom website because of all the advantages a wiki offers me.  I do love that a wiki allows me to design and organize my own site however I choose.  I can upload files and images, and even embed several Web 2.0 tools to further the usefulness of my wiki.  I can make students contributors to my site as well if I so choose.

Wikis are not only useful as classroom websites, but can be great for presenting information on a topic, or a great place for a group working on a project to share ideas and documents as well.  I even use a separate wiki site as my professional e-portfolio.  Students could do this too!  I often present lessons and units on my classroom wiki for a real online learning experience.  There are many different wikis out  there to choose from, but my two favorites are Pbworks and Wikispaces.  Both sites offer educational memberships. 

I hope this post gets you thinking about using wikis in your own teaching adventures!

(Talking Tech Teacher)

Sunday, September 11, 2011


As I started looking into planning for this year, I knew that my teaching methods would look and feel quite different from 4th grade.  As a tech teacher I also knew I wanted my students to take charge of their own learning with me acting more as a facilitator.  Tech class is really the ideal place to use constructivist teaching to the fullest!  Because my school is also in the process of becoming an International Baccalaureate school, I also had to follow their set of goals and objectives.  I found the answer to my problems....Project-based learning (PBL)!!!

Project-based learning allows students to take charge of their learning by creating authentic representations of their learning.  Project-based learning should be linked to real life scenarios, which helps students find purpose and motivation during the learning process.

PBL should:
  • be well organized, scheduled
  • promote teamwork
  • framed around essential questions
  • provide multiple opportunities for varied assessments
  • focus on skills driven approaches to teaching and learning

Give students a real life problem to solve (Essential Question), set some parameters, and watch the magic happen!  While I have only just begun to dig into this fabulous way of teaching, I have found it to be quite effective thus far.  Centering my units around PBL will help enhance student engagement and achievement.  I can't help but think of the famous quote by Confucius, "I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand."

Here are some resources that have helped me get started with PBL:


Wednesday, September 7, 2011


So, I'll confess I have a new web obsession.  Pinterest.  It's my favorite new find of this past summer, and if you've never heard of it, you MUST check it out!  With Pinterest you can create a board or boards to "pin" things to that you find on the world wide web.  You can create boards with themes so that your "pins" are organized as well.  It's so much more visual than old fashioned bookmarking.  I also love pinterest because once you create your account, you can follow others and see the types of things they are pinning that interest you AND others can follow you too.  If you feel like collaborating ideas, you can also allow others to pin interests to your board/s by inviting them as a co-author.  I love signing on and looking at all of the items that were pinned each day by friends that I follow.  It is such a huge source of inspiration for fresh ideas for a number of things.  I find that I enjoy looking at fashion, decorating, design, cooking, teaching, and technology pins.  My own mother (with whom I also turned on to Pinterest) can't stop finding and actually creating things for her classroom with the ideas she sees on Pinterest.

For now, I have mainly used Pinterest for my own inspiration.  Pinterest could easily be incorporated into the classroom too!  Students could create boards based on various content areas or for different projects they are working on to collect web resources and ideas.  Students could collaborate on a board if they were to be working on a group project as well.

I love Pinterest, and I hope you do too!

Explore and sign up for Pinterest here:

Follow me on Pinterst here!:

Happy Pinning!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Tech Lab Bulletin Board Ideas: Do they exist?

Well as I mentioned in my last post, I switched positions this year from 4th grade to middle school (6th-8th) technology teacher.  With the change in position, came a room change as well.  My room would now be one of my school's two tech labs.  As much as this excited me, it was also a daunting task as the tech lab needed a major overhaul, and it is quite a large room!

About a month ago I began my tech lab reno.  I was lucky enough to have my mother, who was in town visiting, help me for a few days and get the actual cleaning and computer set-up configuration completed.  Then there were the walls.  The large, blank walls.  Oh yes, and some really blank bulletin boards too.  I began searching online, then searched some more and just had a REALLY hard time finding quality tech lab bulletin board ideas and/or tech lab posters.  If it wasn't for the Elementary Tech Teachers, Teachfactory, and Pinterest I would have been left without any inspiration at all.  (Just so you know, I feel quite advanced when it comes to searching the Web.  There really isn't much out there in terms of computer lab decor--try searching for yourself, you'll see!)

Anyway, with a few ideas in my brain, I was able to come up with some cute concepts to decorate my walls/boards.  (See my photos below).

I am actually still in the market for come neat technology posters for a few smaller areas in my lab.  More specifically posters about technology tools, Web 2.0, tech quotes, etc.  If you know if any place that has some great posters and prices be sure to leave a comment!

Overall, I am happy with the outcome.  I'm sure I'll be tweaking things as the year progresses.  I'd love to see other ideas of tech bulletin boards as well, if you'd like to share!  Happy decorating!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Back to School: Middle School Tech Style!

This is my first year as a Middle School technology teacher and boy have I already learned a TON! People keep asking me "How do you like it?" I LOVE my new position but it is really different from my last 6 years as a 4th grade teacher. You almost can't even compare the two. I do miss the 4th grade age from time to time, but loving the fact that I know so many of the middle schoolers from when they were 4th graders.:-) I also enjoy the fact that they can do so much more independently! I love technology so the content is awesome. I feel like the first year you teach something new, it's a complete "learning" year, especially for the teacher, as I am already finding out that there actually is quite a difference from 6th grade to 8th grade. Also, planning tech projects for a project-based learning type of class is also different and takes a lot of organization. Overall I must say "so far, so good" and I hope to share my experiences with you right here on my blog....TBC...:-) Lauren <3 Here are a few pics of my new tech lab!