At the Beginning

Posted by Christine S on 7:20 PM

Gosh, it is hard to believe that it has almost been six years since I got married. I look back and it feels like it was yesterday. Yet, at the same time, I feel like I have known Bob a lifetime.
You may be wondering the purpose of the video above. Well, when you get married, there is the ever important "first dance." I am not much of a music connoisseur. Bob knows all about music. He listens to all sorts of music.
When I started dating him, I was flabbergasted by all of his CD's. I have seen collections but nothing that can even compete with his collection. You name it, he probably has the CD. If he doesn't have the CD, he's got it on his ITunes. He jokes that he has several days worth of music.
Anyway, back to the "first dance." Bob and I were at a loss when it came to figuring out our song. Our tastes are very different. I tend to listen to more pop and rock whereas Bob listens to country, instrumentals, and new age. We both like Enya and Lorenna McKennit with a few other odds and ends but that is all. I listen to Matchbox 20 and he listens to the Partridge Family.
That left us trying to figure out what song went with us. Well, I happened to mention the movie Anastasia one day. It was a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon toward the end of the school year. We were just hanging out chatting.
I recalled a song by Richard Marx that I loved. Bob, honestly, had no idea what song I was talking about. I couldn't put the song into words because it had been several years (4 to be exact) since the movie had been released. I remembered the tune but drew a blank to its title.
Bob, being the music junkie that he is, took me to a site (not napster) that allows you to look for tunes to download. So, I began searching. About 30 minutes later, I stumbled on "At the Beginning" by Richard Marx and Donna Lewis. I played it and felt a connection to it almost immediatley. Bob seemed to like it as well. He still was not ready to committ to it but he was ready to add it to our list.
Several days later, rather unexpectedly I might add, Bob agreed to "At the Beginning" as serving as "our song." The song seems to fit us. So, if you have a moment, check out the video above. It is a beautiful song. Later!


At the Beginning

Posted by Christine S on 7:15 PM


Using Technology in the Classroom

Posted by Christine S on 11:25 AM

     This past year, I have found myself using technology in the classroom frequently.  I find myself evolving into a Web 2.0 teacher.  I am learning, networking, exploring, implementing, testing, retesting, creating, sharing and having fun.  I have found many useful websites out there to help with my instruction.  Take Quizlet for example.  Quizlet allows you to input vocabulary terms to study.  It creates flashcards, games, tests and so much more.  Best of all, it is free!

     I have also utilized PowerPoint so much more this year.  I taught my 2nd graders how to create PowerPoint presentations.  I broke the students into groups and assigned them tasks to research.  Each group was given a folder that contained some research I printed for them, books, and graphic organizers.  I provided graphic organizers to help them organize their information.  The students were then responsible for writing a report that could later be made into a PowerPoint display.

     As the students improved in their researching techniques and the use of organizers, I provided them with less and less information.  They are now at the point they can find their own information using the computer, books, library, and other sources.  They have even learned how to draw their own graphic organizers. 

     The students have also improved in their use of PowerPoint.  At the beginning of the year, I had to sit with them to create the slideshow.  Now, they are able to create the shows themselves with little assistance from me.

     We also took those PowerPoint slideshows a step further and began using Voicethread.  Voicethread allows the students to add their own voices to the slideshow. I then post the final product to their blog for their parents to see.  I honestly feel using Voicethread helped with my students’ fluency.  They now recognize when their reading does not sound fluent and will determine they need to re-record on their own.  They LOVE doing it and constantly beg me to let them make a show! 

      This leads to blogging.  I have actually had a blog for several years now.  It has been within the past two years that I have begun to use the blog in the classroom.  Initially, the blog served as a way I could keep parents informed.  I could post the newsletter, cool links, videos and so much more for the parents to see. 

     Then, my use of the blog evolved even more.  I began showing the students how to write a blog entry.  They begged for the chance to blog, especially my weaker writers.  They wanted to share their work with the world.  They wanted to tell everyone what we were doing in class (acting as reporters so to speak).  They loved seeing their names and their work on the World Wide Web. 

     Next year, I plan on implementing technology even more in the classroom.  I hope to be able to utilize making videos, sharing documents (GoogleDocs), and so much more. Isn’t’ technology grand! 


YouTube and its other uses!

Posted by Christine S on 10:05 AM

     Okay, I will admit that I am an occasional Youtube viewer.  Sometimes I am looking for a music video or a television show or even news report.  I started watching videos on Youtube several years ago and never once considered its uses in the classroom.

     Then, quite by chance, I stumbled on a School House Rock video last summer. I forget what I was looking for but I was surprised to find that.  I remember the catchy tunes on Saturday mornings that helped me to learn verbs, nouns and conjunctions.  Who doesn't recall that catchy phrase, "Conjunction Junction, what's your function?”  I loved those as videos as a kid. Then it struck me, why not use them in the classroom?  So, this past fall, I began exploring the uses of Youtube, TeacherVision, and so on in the classroom.

     I discovered that the kids are so much more likely to remember what they have seen in the video rather than just hearing me tell them the information.  You can find SO MUCH good stuff on YouTube. Bill Nye, Science Theatre with Dr. Matt, School House Rock, and so much more. You just type in what you are looking for (ie. food web) and check out what pops up.

     I would just recommend viewing them at home first.  Once you have selected the video you want to use, add it to your favorites.  You will need to create an account which is easy to do.  Then, in the morning, go to the site (you must use the teacher port because the site is blocked on the student ports) and open the videos you wish to use.  I would recommend doing this in the morning to allow for load time.  Even though we have Comcast through the county, it is much slower than your home computer.  The county is working on fixing this problem but in the meantime, I have found loading the videos in the morning reduces wait time.

     I also add the videos to the class blog.  Youtube (as well as most of the other video sites) has the neat feature of embedding the videos into a website.  This is a wonderful feature.  I frequently embed a video that I think parents should see with their children.  You can also control what is shown on your website by not permitting related videos to be shown, having a border, and so on.  I just love the feature and my students' parents have responded well to it.

     I also discovered YouTube can serve more than just a place to watch videos.  I have gotten into making my own videos (using IMovie - yes, I am a MAC fan!) and uploading them onto Youtube.  I made the video below in about an hour and used it at a PTA program for intermission.

      Well, that is all for now.  Have fun surfing!


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