Pinterest in the classroom

Every once and a while I learn about a cool website and I get completely sucked in to website or application that to me seems to have endless uses for the classroom.


Pinterest is one of those sites.

While I am sure that it is not new to a lot of you out there, it is to me and I am amazed how many resources are available for teacher on this social networking site.

So how exactly does Pinterest work for the classroom?  Well the premise behind it is simple.  People post pictures they have taken or find on the web.  The pictures link to that person’s site or the site where they found the picture.  For example here is a screen shot of a search for process charts on pinterest -

Screenshot of a search on pinterest

If you see a picture that really catched your attention – you click on it.   Then you have two options, you can pin it to one of your own boards or you can follow the link to the site or do both.  For example, a search in the education board led me to this “pin” -

When you click on this photo it takes you to the website.  Which most times opens you to a great website with lots of valuable information.  Having only just started searching the site, I have already come across some great ideas through visuals and descriptions and the great thing is, if you are just in the mood to scan you can repin a post to your own board and save the research for later which I find so helpful because all these great ideas are in one place!

The site is truly worth taking a look at, especially if you are a visual person.  It is also a great way to connect with other educators around the country and share great ideas and for all the iphone users out there it is an app!

Because of Irene and Twitter

So what does one do, when one is in the middle of a hurricane?  Goes on twitter of course!  And when you have hours to spend on twitter because the cable is going in and out, you can get lost in the world of resources that are shared by educators who have embraced web 2.0!

I was very reluctant to twitter at first, but slowly, I am getting into the idea, if for nothing else the volume of information out there and the endless ideas that are being shared.  Some of which are, in my opinion awesome, cool, and just to good not to consider for your classrooms;

Faux Facebook Worksheet

So I kinda thought this was one of those things that could be helpful as a pre-assessment activity.  Soooo many of our students know Facebook better then basic multiplication and division that this template is such a easy way to get them engaged because they basically create a Facebook page and can do it without the internet.

What I like about this resource from @tcbird1  is the fact that it is self explanatory for most kids.  It provides a lot of places for pre-assessment for students.  What I caution is the idea of making this the main assignment.  As a PBL minded educator this is not a project and it is definitely not a problem – but it could be used in conjunction with other activities very nicely.

Story Board Work Station – Math

I think that this resource is great.  It is clearly geared towards lower grades but I could see my middle schoolers using this.  What I like so much about it is the cross content aspect  - as it specifically asks students to apply concepts they have learned in Literacy to complete a math problem.  The resource, which comes from @plnauge is such a great place to start if you are looking to set up a math center quickly but with one that really creates a simple problem.

(#) Hash tags

When I finally dove into the Twittersphere, I noticed these (#) tags at the end of tweets.  At first I ignored it but slowly I started to click on them and now I can’t live without them when I am on twitter.  The hash tags collect all the tweets that have the tag and put them into a thread so you can read them all together.  Makes it very easy to focus on one thing in the very big twitter world.  Some must follows in education are #edchat, #edadmin (if you want to know what is on the mind of school administration), #sschat, #scichat, #mathchat, #engchat, #PBL,  #midleved (for us middle level people) and #nwp (The National Writing Project.

Technology Tibits

One to of the other great things about Twitter is the fact that some many people who tweet also have blogs and some of the blogs are an amazing amount of resources at your finger tips.  Once such must is Technology Tibits.  David Kapuler @dkapuler is a great site for all things web and tech.  Applications abound and quick reviews of what they do make it easy to pick and choose what works for you.  The site also lets you subscribe for a quick and easy email of the latest and coolest programs out there.


Because of Irene, I have learned the power behind twitter and have built my PLN, ten fold to connect me with amazing educators worldwide who are ready and willing to help, support, and guide in the education world.  If your not on twitter – you should be!!!

Earthquakes, Tsunami’s and Youtube!

So I am probably behind the times on this – but if you are studying earth science, specifically EARTHQUAKES then this site is a must!

USGS – Earthquake Hazards Program

This site shows the most recent earthquake activity which is completely fascinating.  Just check out how active the US has been with earthquake activity in week preceding July 10th

Earthquake activity July 3 – July 10

I think that studying earthquakes is one of the best activities in science – mostly because odds are – they are really happening somewhere in the world.  Plus with all the technology now a days, it is easy to have real footage of earthquakes at your fingertips or well at least through a quick search on youtube,

When I was supporting a 7th grade science teacher during her unit of study on the earth – it was shortly after the earthquake in Haiti.  One of the best pieces of earthquake footage in my opinion came from a stationary camera in Haiti – take a look for yourself.

What makes this video so great in my opinion is that it takes out the human side of earthquakes, the side we normally see of the tragedy and leaves the science – what it looks like and in many ways what it feels like to be in an earthquake.

Another series of great videos that we used this year from the Japan earthquake highlighted more of the devastation of tsunami’s.  What really stood out when we showed the footage to our students was their confusion with the tsunami waves.  They had this vision that a tsunami looked like a huge wall of water and a 50 foot wave crashing over a city.  The idea that it was a smaller wave but a continual movement of water was difficult for them to comprehend and something that they only really began to understand after watching the videos below.  Check them out;

This is just a general video of the wall of water and how it moves towards the coast.  It is interesting to see how quickly but in many ways how slowly it moves.

In this video you get a good picture of the general size of the waves.

In this one you have a better idea of the destruction of water.

Schoology – thoughts?

I was fortunate enough to attend the ASCD conference this spring in San Francisco.  It was a great chance for me to listen to the best of the best speak and share on the trends and movements in education while at the same time also networking with the best and the brightest educators from around the country.

Anyone who attends a major conference will tell you that a must do is the exhibitor hall where the latest and greatest market their product in often times very elaborate very exciting displays and demonstrations.

Once such exhibit that I had the chance to talk with was Schoology.  I think that the premise is fantastic.  For those of you that have not heard of it or seen it in a quick summary check out the screen shot below:

That’s right – Schoology is “Facebook for School.”  It looks like Facebook, it feels like Facebook, it interacts like facebook, it is “Facebook for School” and it even has its own app!

So, of course I have created my schools account, but I have yet to really jump on board because I am super curious if anyone out there is actually using it. I mean I know that there are few kids out there especially by middle level that do not have a facebook account, but I am curious how they take to the Schoology version.

Do the kids like it?  Have they taken to it like Facebook?  Do the teachers use it to communicate?  Any thoughts, experiences, anything that anyone can share about it would be awesome.  I want to believe that this could be a great addition to the means in which our teachers at our school communicate with our students, but I want to hear what others think—

Creately via Twitter!

I tend to receive a far amount of tweets from a few key educators and educational institutions that have saved me the time scouring the web looking for the next great tech gadget, program, app, etc!  It has been pretty cool seeing what is out there all thanks to retweets. You go twitter!!!

One such interesting program that I have just discovered is Creately which allows you to create all kinds of charts with pretty cool graphics, text boxes, linking, etc.  It is similar to the app on the Ipad called Popplet (which I am not a huge fan of because I see it as far more limited unless you spend the money to have the upgraded version.    But then you still don’t have as many options as this).

In the short time I was playing around with it, I came up with a quick chart about the first social studies unit we do in Grade 7 -

My first Creately!!!!!

Now, in my opinion the benefits of this program are endless in the classroom.  Students in groups can make one big presentation and you can easily save them (unlike Popplet) and there seems to be many more graphics and options unlike Popplet.  As a teacher this is a quick and easy way to engage students and incorporate the technology aspect we are always searching for (and work in that Common Core too!!!)

It also seems to be very easy to work with, and I do believe upper elementary students can easily move through the program.  Of course, if you upgrade you have even more options.  Additionally you can use it online and offline.  However, it still does not have the one thing that I have been searching for (unless I missed it) which is the app/software/interent program which allows you to move between computers, tablets and the internet. :(

The teacher desk…ugh!!!

So before I get into this post – I want to be very clear, I have a desk.  Largely because I don’t have a classroom, rather an office as the schools academic coach it is a necessity that I have a place to hold meetings.  However, that said, I will also say that I did not have a desk until I became a coach.

I do believe one of the best things that a teacher can do is get rid of their desk.  Yes I know that the thought of getting rid of your desk is in many ways inconceivable, however, I do believe that the day my desk was taken from me was one of the scariest and most liberating days of my life as an educator.

My desk was an integral part of my teaching.  I could not imagine a single day without having it as a focal point in my classroom.  It was my space.  The untouchable area.  The “don’t go near that spot” in the classroom. And my students knew it.  They knew not to go near the desk.  Even when I asked them tog et something off of it they tiptoed around it like it was holy ground.

I had no intention of removing the desk from my classroom.  However, my supervisor saw otherwise and all but took the desk out of my classroom, amidst my protests.  I was devastated.  My whole world as I knew it as a teacher was flip turned upside down.  Yet as I stood in my doorway watching my classroom crumble, my supervisor looked at me and said, trust me – you will thank me for this.  At the time, I wanted to scream at her.  But in time – I thanked her time and time again.

Losing my teacher desk in many ways, gave my classroom over to my students.  It is easy to say my classroom, but in reality a productive thriving classroom is one that belongs to the students.  There was no longer the my classroom/your classroom with my students.  Every part of the room belonged to them and there was a new sense of pride and ownership.

I also discovered that without my desk, I did not find myself buried in paperwork because there was no were for me to pile it.  I had to regroup and review more often.  My students received feedback on their work faster, my room was cleaner and overall production in my classroom was better.

Even now in my office, I find that my desk is more of a place for students who need some space to do their work.  Most of them don’t know what to do when I tell them to sit there.  They are all used to the “untouchable” area of the the teacher desk, yet I find when they do sit there and get to work, their are quite productive and consider it a privilege to work in the usually off limits space.

As a coach, when I tell teachers they should get rid of their desk, the have the same look of horror on their face that I had over five years ago.  And while I do not just remove the desk from their room the way my supervisor did, I encourage them to let go.  To remove the paperweight, the clutter spot, the off limits section of their classroom.  Time and time again, I find if I can get them to trust me enough to remove it, they find they have similar experiences that I had in liberating themselves from paperwork and creating a more student centered room and not a teacher centered one.