Monday, December 5, 2011

Laptops as Netbooks

This year at the Creeks, we have reimaged our laptops to work like Netbooks. This holds some benefits (faster computers, automatic login, etc.), but also means we have to get creative with saving documents as students do not have access to their H or S drives.

Here are some ways to save documents from laptops!

1. Flash Drive - Encourage students to bring flash drives or use one "class" flash drive to pass around. This option allows for minilessons on saving to a flash drive and safely ejecting a flash drive, which are two valuable skills for our students!

2. Google Apps - Since Google Apps automatically saves in the cloud on the Internet, have students complete projects within Google. Google has comparable products to the Microsoft suite. Below is a comparison chart:
  • Documents - Word
  • Presentation - Power Point
  • Spreadsheet - Excel
The best part of Google Apps? It allows students to focus on content since the products are a lighter version of the Office products. Instead of getting caught up in animations, students can focus on their thoughts and ideas.

3. Fileway and Edmodo - If your students are creating projects in Microsoft Office or Smart Notebook on the laptops, try using a storage tool like Fileway or Edmodo to keep the files. Students can save their documents to the desktop of the computer (short term only), upload the document to one of these tools and then delete the file from the desktop. When ready to work on the file again, they can return to the storage tool and download the file, again saving as a temporary file that will be deleted once the student uploads the new version of the document to the storage space.

For more information about Fileway and Edmodo, check out the links below.



Happy saving! As always, let me know if you have questions or need help!

Friday, December 2, 2011

App Smackdown of the Week - Vol 3

This week, I again got to work with my awesome teammate, Sarah Daugherty, on an Appy Hour. This time, we focused on Math apps.

What I love most about these sessions is that the teachers are give TIME - to play, explore and think about what will work in the classroom. We get to be true facilitators, asking questions, providing ideas and joining in the collaboration. I'll be offering sessions like these at the Creeks once a month in the spring.

Want to see some of the awesome apps the teachers found? Check out their favorites by following the link below!

What are your favorites? How do you use iDevices in Math?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Alli's App Smackdown of the Week - VOL 2

This week, I got to work with my awesome teammate, Sarah Daugherty, on a professional learning session called Appy Hour - Language Arts.

The teachers there did an awesome job participating in a Wallwisher, posting their favorite apps to use in Language Arts activities. Check out their favorites by following the link below!

Some of my favs on the list?

Dragon Dictation - great for fluency!
Magnetic ABC's - word work, anyone?
FlipCards - Practice vocabulary...great for ELL students!

What is YOUR favorite Language Arts app?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Alli's App Smackdown of the Week

The title of this post is taken from something AWESOME we did at edCamp Plano called the App Smackdown. Everyone took turns going to the microphone and taking 2-3 minutes to say what cool apps and sites they were LOVING at the moment!

So in honor of are 5 apps I am LOVING right now!

1. Songify - Simple recorder that turns your spoken words to sound! Cool for poetry or for having students explain science processes like the water cycle or math problems! Share via a classroom Twitter account and your parents will be impressed!

2. Breakfast Maker - This app lets you decide what you want for breakfast and helps you cook it! Why is this educational, you ask? Well, what a great prewriting activity for a how-to writing or a different way to teach sequencing! If you like this one, you'll also find others like Thanksgiving Dinner Maker, Snowman Maker, Pizza Maker, etc.

3. StoryKit - Create your own stories and illustrations or change some old favorites!

4. Idea Sketch - A great mind mapping App! Organize pre-writing, brainstorm ideas, work on word and vocabulary associations all from your iTouch.

5. Google Earth - Just like the desktop version of Google Earth, you can "fly" to any location, view pictures and videos and learn more about Geography! Great for charting explorers' paths, finding the birthplace of a famous person, learning about local and national landmarks and more!

What apps are YOU loving right now? Tell me in the comments!

Please comment if you read this post so I am held accountable for writing more!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Teaching Voki to Students

One of my favorite Web 2.0 tools is an avatar creator called Voki ( Click on the Voki below to learn more and check out the links to some screencasts that can be used to teach Voki to students!

Creating an Avatar in Voki

Adding Sound to a Voki

Backgrounds, Players and Sharing

Adding a Voki to your Google Site

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Screencasting using Screenr

I have been working on a series of screencasts for a teacher who will be introducing Glogster to her students next week.  I used a tool called Screenr, which I love because it limits my recording to 5 minutes or less. 

(For those of you that know me, this will give you a chuckle as I am the most long winded person on the planet!)

Besides limiting me to only the most important words I want to say, the other great thing about the 5 minute limit is that it helps me to chunk my lessons so that I cover only a small amount of information at a time.  When I teach live, I try to chunk instruction also so that students get a blend of instruction and hands-on application so it works out very well for me.

Screencasts are awesome for use in the classroom also because it changes up your instruction and helps with engagement.  There are many tools for this type of instruction out there and many can be used for students to create screencasts or video presentations as well.

Want to see Screenr in action and learn somethings about Glogster?  Check these out!

Glogster for Kids Part 1 – Intro to Glogs, changing the Glog wall and page wall, adding graphics and text

Glogster for kids Part 2 - add an image, link and edit text

Glogster for Kids Part 3 – adding video, sound and saving/publishing

Want to learn more?  Let me know!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Back to School Changes

Hi all!  It is that time again, time for a brand new year!  I am very excited to spend my second year helping teachers to integrate technology at "the Creeks!"

This year brings some technology changes to our district.  See below for information on what's new in CISD!

To make this presentation full screen (recommended), click on the square icon next to Slide 1/13 above.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Alternative Presentation Tools

Teachers are always asking me for tools that provide an alternative to the same old Power Point presentation. If you wonder this too, check out this post from the Blog "Stretch Your Digital Dollar"

Powerpoint Shmowerpoint: Teach kids to create really engaging presentations

Summer is a fantastic time to play and learn!  When you need a break from the heat, try some of these tools on for size!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Digital Storytelling

I love technology and I love writing stories.  For me, digital storytelling is super exciting because it melds the two together.  I will be teaching digital storytelling at the CISD Summer Conference and hope some of you will be attending.  I have been working with several new tools to prepare for the session.  One that I just had to share was 

Storybird has a variety of  artwork in its art gallery that students choose from to illustrate their books. I think this is awesome because it acts as an artful resource so that the students can simply focus in on their writing and thinking.  I also just now learned that teachers can create accounts with sub-accounts for easy!  Teachers can also create assignments for the students within Storybird!  Not only that, students can invite others to collaborate on their stories and purchase the completed stories in hard copy form!

Here's an example:

Season's Greetings on Storybird

I am looking for a class to test with...any takers????

Monday, May 23, 2011

Things I Love About My Job (A Non-Comprehensive List)

This year has been tough to say the least.  Beginning a new faction of a career is never easy, no matter how exciting that new thing is. (And for the record, my perfectionist nature makes me a terrible new person.) As I reflect on the end of the year though, I am awed at the incredible growth my campuses have experienced, the growth that I have experienced too.  And though we have further to go and more mountains to conquer, though I have way more to learn, let me tell you some of the things I have loved about this year...

  1. Seeing a teacher's first tweets after seeing the beauty of a Twitter PLN
  2. Hearing the chatter of students as they Glog for the first time
  3. Experiencing chicks hatching live because of a well placed webcam and UStream
  4. Answering Team C's question of the day while collaborating with the head of the team on any and every tech tool known to man
  5. Spreading QR code love to some tech savvy and brave teachers when others just saw crazy black and white bar patterns
  6. Taking Kindergarteners to the moon with Google Earth
  7. Designing and training some awesome sessions with some super smart teammates, especially the one held in the Cottonwood, library.
  8. Getting excited to learn again...can anyone say, Flubaroo?
  9. Planning lessons that excite and challenge kids, teachers, and sometimes me.
  10. Visiting many types of classrooms and being knocked out at the talent, commitment and teaching methods my teachers have.
That is not a comprehensive list, but it does contain some highlights...What have your highlights been?

Thursday, May 12, 2011


My pal and fellow teammate Polly just shared with me a cool new website called WebDoc.  I am still playing with it, but check out what it can do!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

So I Have the iTouches, Now What?

It's an exciting time at the Creeks!  Both campuses have gotten some iTouches and have begun implementing their use in the classroom.  Now that we have the resources, it's time to figure out the best way to use them!

Here are my top 5 tips for starting out with iTouches:
  1. Take time to play. Become familiar with the apps available to you.  If you don't know how to use them, you won't be able to assist your students to get the most out of them. (And it's fun!! :)
  2. Make an date with your i-Teamer and/or your team to plan.  Remember that technology integration is not about using technology just to use technology.  Work together to find apps that naturally enhance your classroom curriculum.  The iTouches should be another tool in your teacher arsenal. 
  3. Prepare a classroom management plan.  Just like you wouldn't have students on lab computers doing whatever they found, you don't want your kids to be randomly searching and using apps.  Take time to discuss which apps you will be using and behavior expectations at the beginning of every iTouch use.
  4. Think outside of the App.  Remember that apps are just the beginning.  With Safari, you can create web shortcuts easily on your home screen so that students can use the web on the touches.  Also, think about some of the utilities like the camera, voice memos, iTunes, etc.  They can bring a whole new level to your iTouch use.
  5. Start slow and breathe.  There are many resources and channels that can help you to build your knowledge.  No one is an expert over night.  Start by getting comfortable with one or two apps and build.  Use resources like Twitter, YouTube and Podcasts to learn more about what others are doing.  I highly recommend Tony Vincent's Learning in Hand site.

Got some ideas of your own?  Let us know in the comments!!!

    Tuesday, April 26, 2011

    Becoming a Technology Integrated Classroom

    In the rush of our daily teacher lives, sometimes it is an understatement to say we struggle to "fit it all in." We are pulled in many directions - and it is overwhelming to say the least.

    I say this because I know folks think sometimes that technology is just another straw on the fire. I am here to tell you, it doesn't have to be.

    The goal of technology integration is that it becomes second nature - that technology is folded in to the planning process because it makes sense, not because there is a cool tool or because you "have to".

    There is a great article in this week's TCEA e-newsletter called Technology Integration Process that outlines the goals using a real teacher example.

    I invite you to read the article and then participate in a discussion by commenting on this post or by visiting my Technology Integration VoiceThread here.

    What does Technology Integration mean to you?

    Is it attainable based on the description in the article?

    What steps have you taken or how will you take steps to make your classroom more integrated?

    Sunday, April 10, 2011

    Are You More Techno than a 5th Grader?

    Ever wonder past the awesome tools and projects technology gives us? I do. I think a lot about the basic skills behind creating, producing, collaborating and ooh and ahhing. Because we can create Glogs, stream video projects, backchannel our lessons via Today's Meet, use cool apps, etc. until the cows come home, but none of it matters if a student doesn't have basic skills like saving.

    So what technology skills do students need to know and by what grade?

    My AWESOME teammate, Sarah Daugherty* (Shout out!) thinks about it too. In fact, she just recently took a look at our Technology TEKS and created the Glogs below that illustrate what technology skills each grade should know. I think they are an awesome reference and invite you to take a look and refer to it often when planning.

    Does this mean you should drop all curriculum tomorrow in order to accomplish mastery of these skills?  NO.  Does this mean these skills should be taken into consideration when planning and integrating technology?  ABSOLUTELY!

    1st Grade
    2nd Grade
    3rd Grade
    4th Grade
    5th Grade


     * I am linking these with Sarah's permission, probably because she knows the utter frustration I will experience at a certain poster printer** in her honor later this week.  :)

    **No ill will re: the poster printer is intended.

    Tuesday, April 5, 2011


    The Kindergarten classes at Cottonwood Creek are incubating chicken eggs! We've used, a camera and a laptop to bring you the first annual Chicken Watch! Check out our eggs below! (If you see a big black box, don't worry, our broadcast may be off air depending on the time!)

    Live TV : Ustream

    Friday, April 1, 2011

    Edcamp Plano

    Registration for edcamp Plano begins today!  Edcamp Plano is a free unconference designed to allow teachers to collaborate, learn and share ideas about technology! The inconference set up means there is a relaxed and fluid atmosphere.  Educators meet over coffee the first hour and break into impromptu sessions after.  If you like a session, stay, if you don't, you can move to another one.  If you want to present a session, simply sign up on the main board the day of the event.  All are welcome to attend and/or present!

    Learn more about edcamp Plano at the official wiki for the event. Registration is easy! 

    If you are a teacher at one of the creeks, this event has been approved for flex credit consideration.  You will want to sign up in Eduphoria as well as on the unconference website in order to be eligible for credit!

    Sunday, March 27, 2011

    My Latest Obsession

    I got on my computer tonight thinking, I'll just clean up loose ends from last week, maybe check my Twitter feed and then bask in the last few moments of my weekend.  Here I sit (lay wireless!!), 2 hours later. Yes, blog readers, I am obsessed with a new tool.

    Let me introduce you to the best organizational thing since the invention of the Trapper Keeper, the LiveBinder.

    What is a LiveBinder, you ask?

    It is a collections of weblinks and resources organized as if you were looking at a 3 ring binder, complete with tabs and subtabs.

    I have seen them for awhile now and have graciously used and suggested resources from some very awesome ones, even started my LiveBinder shelf of favorites.  But today, well, today I have started creating one.

    Let's ignore the fact that I am a bit organizationally challenged by nature and that creating these is one of the easiest things I have encountered all year.

     There is a library of LiveBinders that other people have created for education. A public library.

    At the very least, I will be recommending teachers search this library and use resources and references as needed.  However, I will also be suggesting uses in the classroom for creating LiveBinders as well.  The binder I am creating is one my co-trainer Toni and I can use to train my upcoming PD series, Engaging Students through Web 2.0.

    Among other things, I see teachers using this resource for:
    • Resource libraries for student units
    • Student ePortfolios
    • Educator PLC resources
    • Team Planning Resources
    • Author Studies
    • Book Units
    • And More*
    * Stopping my list because as I mentioned is late on Sunday evening.  :)  There's many more I could see and would be happy to discuss with you!

    I will list some favorite LiveBinders of mine in an upcoming post!  For now, check out LiveBinders at the link below.

    Tuesday, March 8, 2011

    PD Nerdiness

    I have said it before, I will say it again:

    I am a PD nerd.

    I am sitting in a PD session right now that 2 of my teammates are running. Today's session is on Web 2.0 tools for Elementary Language Arts/Social Studies. I am not here to help, I am here because I want to learn. 

    I have seen the tools they are showing before, but I am still eager. I think PD is all about what you make of it.  I search for nuggets I didn't know or see, I practice things I don't usually have time to practice and think about how I can make the skills being shown a reality in my classrooms.  It shouldn't matter if I have seen a tool before or have used something extensively...I am in control of my learning.

    If I hadn't come to this session, I never would have thought about the COOL things I could do with 

    Like Wordle,  it lets you create word clouds only with Tagxedo, you decide the shape!  Teaching about chocolate?  Use a chocolate kiss!  Teaching the Civil War?  Place your vocabulary in the shape of Abraham Lincoln's head!

    Here's my new ode to Dr. Seuss's Cat in the Hat!

    Interested in laughing at me over my PD nerdiness?  Want to look at more Tagxedo integration ideas?

    Let me know!!!

    Thursday, February 17, 2011


    I just got a cool reference website in my Twitter feed that is worth sharing!  The site is called Fotopedia and it is a visual encyclopedia full of images and information!

    All you do is search the site based on the subject or topic you are teaching. Some examples I tried were Landforms, Fish, Texas, Presidents, etc.  Your results bring you a collection of photographs illustrating the subject along with an informational description with links to Wikipedia articles**.

     Check it out!

    ** As with all things Wikipedia, make sure to take facts with a grain of salt since anyone can add information.  This is another great avenue to discuss with students how not everything you read on the web is the most reliable information and to search with caution.  :)

    Sunday, February 13, 2011

    TCEA 2011 - The Backstory

    So my first TCEA as an attendee has came and went.  I tried to soak up every ounce from it.  It reminded me what I came to CISD to do - integrate and teach technology and excite others regarding technology.  But the truth is, behind my twitter updates and blog check in's, something else was going on.

    I was sick.

    Not just a little cold, or a sniffle, but full on, shivers and fever sick. The kind of sick where every ounce of your body hurts.  The kind of sick where you know you should be in bed or at a doctor's office or curled up somewhere near your mommy.

    That being said, TCEA still rocked.  I still learned so much.  I was able to find energy and enjoy.  But it reminds me that at the end of the comes down to a choice.  We all can choose to curl up and get in bed or we can choose to fight through and get the most from the day.

    I am glad I did...I would never be able to share this cool resource if I didn't!

    50 Ways to Integrate Technology Tomorrow

    Thursday, February 10, 2011

    TCEA - So Much to Learn, so Little Time!

    TCEA rules!  Here is a Weblist of some of the things I am excited about...I'll keep adding to it!

    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

    TCEA Day Two: TATN

    Today I am attending TATN at TCEA.  TATN stands for Technology Applications Teacher Network.  Many of the presenters today are classroom teachers sharing ideas of how they have integrated technology into their classrooms.

    So far, I have learned about movie mashups, using Prezi for problem solving in Math, bilingual activities for grades k-2 and more!

    Here are my favorite links to resources so far....

    Pam Cranford's Blog:

    Some SMART resources from Tequipment:

     Learn more about TATN and see some of the lessons shared today here:

    Monday, February 7, 2011

    Shape Poems

    Just got a great tweet from TCEA for younger grades - these are sites that allow students to create shape poems. Easy enough for K-2, but great for 3-5 writing too! Check them out!

    TCEA 2011

    I am excited to be blogging LIVE from TCEA 2011 in Austin, TX. This is my first time attending as an attendee and not an exhibitor/presenter! I have already learned a bunch at Google Academy this morning. It reminds me how much of a PD NERD I am...I love to learn!!!

    More to come...

    Monday, January 10, 2011

    Becoming a Glog-star!

    Happy New Year, Blog Friends!

    For my first post of the year, I'd like to share with you GLOGSTER!  It is a digital poster creation site that it SUPER easy to use!  I created the Glog below in about 10 minutes.  The best part is that through Glogster EDU, I can register as a teacher and then create up to 50 student logins.  I love this for Elementary students because there is less concern of working online because there is no "sign up" element.  As a teacher, I can easily manage students and check out their Glogs.

    Try it today!