Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Animoto for Educators - School Videos

At the beginning of the school year, instead of going through a syllabus on paper - I have created a video that gives my students an idea of what we will cover over the course of the year in Language Arts class.  I use Animoto to create my video.  You can view it here:  Beginning of Year Video.

If you like integrating technology - you might want to apply for an educator's subscription through Animoto.  This way you can make videos that are longer than 30 seconds.  You can also sign up your students and they can make videos of a longer length as well.  I did this with Greek Myths and the students loved it.  If you would like to see what we did on Animoto with Greek Myths just comment and I will get back to you.

I definitely prefer using Animoto over Movie Maker.  I find that Movie Maker freezes up and has glitches.  You should check it out for creating movies, book trailers, and video slideshows in the classroom.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Two years ago, I started using Edmodo in my 6th grade Language Arts classroom.  If you are not familiar with Edmodo, it is a social network type site; however, it is made specifically for educators.  It is has a browser similar to Facebook so it is user-friendly.  I enjoyed using Edmodo as a means to communicate with my students, as well as, the parents. 

Last school year, my team decided not to use Edmodo as they had never used it and were not ready to jump on the Edmodo wagon.  By the end of the year we were the only 6th grade team not using Edmodo in the classroom.  Looking back, I don't know why I didn't go ahead and start using it.  Maybe because it was a team decision.

This year, my team has already decided that we will instill Edmodo right from the start.  I am excited about this.  I am already thinking about new ways to use Edmodo in my classroom.

1.  Communication - obviously, I will continue using it as a great communication tool to update the parents on what is happening and what is coming up in my class

2.  Assignments - I will post assignments, handouts, review sheets, test dates,articles, videos, etc that we covered in class

3.  Reading Response - this will be new for me.  I hope to have laptops periodically and have students blog about their reading.  This way I can respond to their blog instead of collecting 85 notebooks.

4.  Writing - I hope to do more writing (similar to reading response) but reflecting on themes, life events, etc on their blogs instead of in notebooks.

I am always looking for new ideas.  Please share if you use Edmodo or blogs in your classroom. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Every summer I try to read one adult book along side all of the young adult/teen fiction I try to catch up on.  Last summer, I read Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.  This summer, my dad and best friend's wife recommended I read Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.  This World War II story of survival, resilience, and redemption is amazing.  Louie Zamperini grew up in Torrance, CA and is quite a handful growing up.  Guided by his older brother, he turns to running to turn his life around.  He trains and competes in the 1936 Berlin Olympics and even crosses paths with Hitler.  Crazy, right!  He joins the army air corps and prepares for battle.  While on a search mission over the Pacific, his bomber goes down and he and 2 members of the crew begin a gripping survival story that takes you in to the heart of POW camps in Japan. 

I was glued to this story and think there are many teachable moments.  I think this book should be read in all high school classrooms.  It would be a great companion piece to Night by Elie Wiesel as it tells a side of WWII that we don't hear too much about - what happened to those captured by Japanese.  I highly recommend this book!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Wreck This Journal

In my Pinterest searching, I came across this very cool writer's notebook called - Wreck This Journal.  You can find it here.  It seems like a very cool way to bring creativity in to my classroom.  I think the journal is geared to any and all writers.  However, it makes you think outside-of-the-box when it comes to writing.  For example, one page is dedicated to just scribbling.  One page tells you to pour water on it in the shower.  I guess the job is truly to wreck the journal.  But, I do think it has a lot of writing possibilities.  Have students do the strange yet clever journal topic.  (Maybe hold off on the shower prompt).  Students can reflect on how it felt to color outside the lines or do thumbprints on a whole page.  What was running through their minds as they did this?  I think this would make those students who are perfectionists or those who are shy really come out of their writing shell.  I plan to check it out and figure out more ways to incorporate it in to my classroom.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Amazing Giveaway...

There is an amazing 1,000 follower giveaway over at Kleinspiration.  If you see or read this blog, definitely check it out!!!