Nebraska Books Project

This year my 4th grade students were able to participate in the Nebraska Books Project hosted by the state of Nebraska.  (More info here.)

The official blurb from the state is as follows.

"The NeBooks Project is a partnership between schools, state agencies and non-profit organizations across Nebraska for the common purpose of providing quality instructional materials. The initial focus of this project was creating Nebraska focused eBooks for use in meeting 4th grade Nebraska History standards. As the project has continued to grow and gain momentum, we want to encourage the writing of eBooks in all content areas to be added to our eBook Library."

We spent many hours researching local events and history, making phone calls, sending emails and cooperating with anyone who could offer us assistance.  We had some amazing help with photos from several state agencies and local museums as well.

We learned a lot about plagiarism and proper etiquette when you have 75 students sharing a document on Google Drive as well.

Our book is a work in progress, so please let us know if/when you find mistakes and we can get them corrected.

You can view our book on an iPad or Mac by clicking this link.

3rd Grade Thanksgiving WallWisher

The students just started learning how to use WallWisher to create bulletin boards for a class where they can post notes and pictures as we discuss a topic and they can gather resources too.  We started out by making a new wall to showcase the things we were thankful for this time of year.


The students did not have to write in complete sentences, but they did need to find an image using Google and and post the URL correctly into the attachment field.  It's pretty neat to think that a few years ago, most people didn't know how to use tabs for browsing the internet, and that after only a few minutes, the students were going back and forth between tabs to search for photos and work on their wall.

We liked WallWisher since it was faster than blogging and they could see all comments and pictures at once, but it's much harder to comment.

3rd Grade Blogs

Third grade has been busy with their blogs!  The students created search stories by using the Search Story Creator from Google.  The students were excited to see their searches come to life and watch each others videos too.    Be sure to check out their search stories and Wordles by checking out our class blog.

We also created Wordles for Spring using and the students came up with Vocabulary that made us think of Springtime.  We might try this activity using Tagxedo since we agreed that it makes prettier word clouds.
  Wordle: Untitled

World Education Day

This is awesome!  Kids from all over the world can log in and play/compete against each other as they answer math facts, spell words, and test their science knowledge.

The World Education Games is the exciting event for ALL schools and students around the world. It runs from 6-8 March, involving 5.5million students from over 200 countries and territories. Practice opens on 1 February. This is the global challenge to get ALL students (4-18 years of age) excited about learning, and to give the top students in each school an opportunity to see how they measure up against the best.

The format is:
1 February – The Games open for Practice
6 March – World Spelling Day
7 March – World Maths Day
8 March – World Science Day
23 March – Award Presentations at School Assemblies

The Future of Kinect

If you haven’t already seen a Kinect, they are awesome, and they have been made even better by a community of do-it-yourselfers that have hacked the Kinect for a multitude of uses.

If you have really never seen one, the Kinect is a camera designed for use with the XBOX 360 that “sees” in 3D thanks to a pair of cameras sitting in it’s bezel.  It allows users to interact with games on the XBOX without touching a controller.  The camera can read thousands of reference points on people and turn those into input for their games.

One of the guys responsible for the Kinect ws Johnny Lee Chung.  If you have never read any of Johnny Chung’s blog, you are missing out on a lot of cool uses for the Kinect and technology in general.  He even has a section on using a Wiimote as a interactive whiteboard.

What excites me about the connect is what the future can hold for this cool device, Microsoft saw enough of a potential to fully support it on Windows devices, and coming February 1st, 2012, you will be able to purchase it for your PC and have full support too.  Microsoft has created an educational support page already, but there are limited resources as of yet.

I can foresee the Kinect taking the place of an interactive multitouch whiteboard given its ability to track objects.  For a fraction of the cost of  SmartBoard, teachers could turn entire walls into touch surfaces and allow students to become fully immersed in media.  Imagine a virtual field trip where students could “swim” through the ocean and be able to touch animals to find out more about them, swim side by side with them, and rotate them to see what they look like.  My mind goes crazy just thinking about how more interactive learning could be.

My only wish now (besides wishing that I had one) is that I was smart enough to develop applications that would work with it.

If you are interested in seeing more of what the Kinect can do, check out the videos below. 


Doodle for Google 2012

I am super excited for my students to participate this year!  Google has changed things up this year and 50 kids are eligible to go to New York now.    Every year we have entered, we have had someone make it as a state finalist, and two years ago, we had students take 5 out of the 8 top spots for Nebraska.

This year is a little different all around though and a new theme as well.  This year’s theme is “If I could travel in time, I’d visit… ”

I’m excited to get rolling and can’t wait to see what my students come up with.

On a side note, I give students the chance to use a variety of mediums for this, but it seems that colored pencil is a favorite for my younger students, and ArtRage (free 30 day trial) seems to win for the older students.  I would highly recommend ArtRage for any and all art projects, and it seems to be a good transition program to help the students learn about layers and paint.

Ted Talks

If you haven’t watched this video, it is pretty enlightening to see how Facebook, Google and others have tailored the internet for each user.  It’s pretty amazing to see how much information is given to them when you search and how they can be tailored based on what kind of computer you are using, who you click on in facebook and a whole bunch of other factors.  Reportedly Google has 57 checkpoints to match you to your results.  I haven’t tried it, but if you are next to someone, have them do a Google search and see if they get the same results you do.


JamStudio is a great website and my students love making music through it.  It’s important to learn the ropes though before using it with kids as there are a lot of things that can go goofy with it during a 30 minute period.

Part of the ISTE standards have students using digital tools to make an original musical composition and this program is a great way to meet that and let the students explore on their own after  a little instruction.  Students in my class also have the oportunity to share headphones throughout class to hear what their classmates have done.  I have also had students rotate and play musical chairs where each students adds an instrument until all the instruments have been chosen and they return to their seats to hear the collaborative efford.

Domo Animation

You can create some pretty great animaitons on Domo.  It’s free, you can sign up to save, and it is very high quality.

In the classroom you could use it for book reports, short stories, introductions for students, summary of a unit or year.

There are a few caveats though since there are some content items that I would not allow students to use in the classroom.  Some of the characters can shake their middle finger, shoot guns, etc. and those items I would not allow them to use as I would also not post them onto any internet outlet.