I’ve Moved…

Please follow me at http://csrncomputers.blogspot.com/.  I’ve found it easier to blog from one site, so I’m still leaving the posts here for the time being, but I keep the other blog updated.


Thanks for the follow!



Digiteen and Digitween – Middle School Flat Classroom Projects – Underway!

What’s Happening in Digiteen and Digitween 12-2

The most critical thing that’s happened in Digiteen is that there are now 2 projects:  Digiteen, for students 13 and older, and Digitween, for students under 13.  Digiteen students use the Ning and wiki to communicate with their partners.  Digitween students use Edmodo and the wiki to communicate.  The wiki has been revised in Digitween to allow the younger students to have a choice in what competency area they would like to cover as a small group.  They will be collecting media instead of written words to depict their topic.  Teachers are assigned as guides in each competency section as well.  In both groups, there will be student mentors assigned to each awareness topic to help guide the students as well.
This week the students are finishing their handshakes and will be starting their research on their awareness topic and competency area.  They will also “meet” their small group members online.  Several meetups via Blackboard Collaborate and Skype have happened in the few short weeks we’ve begun the project.  More are scheduled this week and next.  Teachers and students are excited to meet their new online partners!  More to come in the weeks ahead!
More information:  www.digiteen.org
Edmodo:  www.edmodo.com
Digiteen Ning:  http://digiteen.ning.com/
Digiteen 12-2 wiki:  http://digiteen12–2.flatclassroomproject.org/

PD Event Evolving in Google+ Hangout – Join Us!

English: Google plus one

English: Google plus one (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


For the past few weeks, a handful of educators from around the world and myself are planning a global virtual event.  This event sparked from a workshop at the ICE 2012 Conference, Amazing Race for Educators.  Teachers spent 15 minutes at each station, learning about the Web 2.0 tool or software item, and then they added how they could use the tools in their classroom.  My colleague, Catriona Lynch, and I thought it would be great to use the idea for the teachers in our schools.

We have been using a Google Doc and recording in Google Hangout to discuss our plans for our Educator Workshop Day.

So far, we’ve met twice on Google + Hangout and have recorded both sessions:

Session #1 link:

Session #2 link:



These are the teachers involved in the sessions so far.

Jose Popoff – Honduras
Joe McNulty – Pennsylvania
Janet Barnstable – Illinois
Armando Vezza – France
Ashwin Baburaj - India
David Karnoscak – Illinois
Jackson Bronsting – Illinois
Katherine Zablatnik – Austria

Our Goal

Have at least 9 sessions an hour, 3 simultaneously, through Skype, Google+ Hangout and whatever else we decide!  These are the tools we want to make sure the teachers are exposed to:

Important Tools

Number 1 Tool Choice

Google Earth  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAsBPVaVboQ&feature=relmfu
Google Forms-using flubaroo  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gP428HUfkHM
Google Docs  docs.google.com
Skype http://www.howcast.com/guides/587-How-to-Use-Skype
Google Hangout

Number 2 Tool Choice

Socrative.com http://socrative.com/ (apple and android apps available!)
Khan Academy http://www.khanacademy.org/
Prezi  http://www.grovo.com/prezi
Edmodo  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nM_AvFW9mEk
Screencasting: Camtastic, Screen Cast-o-Matic, Jing

Number 3 Tool Choice

Twitter  http://www.grovo.com/twitter
TED Videos:  http://www.ted.com/
Edmodo  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nM_AvFW9mEk
Google Chrome  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QRO3gKj3qw&feature=relmfu
Nearpod – for schools with classroom sets of iPads


Next Meeting:

Thursday, 11:30AM Central Time on Google Hangout.  If you’re interested in joining to add your insights and/or volunteer during the event, please contact me!  We’re looking for educators willing to share their expertise!



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iCollaboratory Event

Friday, April 20th, was the annual iCollaboratory Event to show educators in the Chicago/Joliet area how to use the iCollaboratory with their students.

The presentation is here: http://goo.gl/nlvMa.

For 2 years I’ve participated in the iCollaboratory projects with the 5th graders in our school.  The projects we’ve done are:

  • Scariest Stories and Fall Poetry
  • What I’m Most Thankful For
  • Moon Over Us
  • A Day in Our Neighborhood
  • Songs My Family Taught Me
There are many others to choose from, but these fit our schedule and level.
Each project:
  • students take a survey
  • create a web page
  • add their writings, images, voice, and/or video to their page
  • comment on others’ projects
When the students know they are writing for an audience, their quality level increases.  It’s great to see…and read!
If you’re interested in joining or learning more about the iCollaboratory, send an email to [email protected]


The Digiteen Project – It’s On!

Last February began the Spring Digiteen project for middle and high school students around the world.  This Flat Classroom® Project gives students an opportunity to explore digital citizenship as they find ways to become a responsible and reliable online learner.

The project is carried out in 4 waves:  handshake, research, project creation, and reflection/celebration.  These waves are essential to the understanding and creation of digital citizenship.  Students are assigned a small group and topic.  They are responsible for finding and sharing references and information about their topic.  After, students take the information shared and create a project from it.  Then they share their project with their community. When complete, they celebrate with other classrooms and reflect on their successes.

The handshake is where the students introduce themselves (via Edmodo or Digiteen Ning) and the classroom participants respond with their greetings.  The research wave is where the students have an assigned topic to find information about their topic and share it on a collaborative wiki.  This is the wiki for the present project:  http://digiteen12-1.flatclassroomproject.org/.  To create a presentation, students use many different tools including:  Power Point, Google Presentation, Glogster, Xtranormal, and other Web 2.0 tools.  This is shared on Edmodo and the Ning for other students to view and presented to local communities.  Finally, the students have the opportunity to reflect on the project via Edmodo, Ning, or through a Summit using Blackboard Collaborate.

Presently, the students are gathering information on the collaborative wiki.  They are learning to cite their sources correctly using MLA formatting.  They are also learning to communicate to their partners via the discussion posts on each topic.  We have students in grades 4-10th grades (ages 10-16) participating in two teams.  Although difficult to understand at first, the teachers in the project are guiding and encouraging their students to look for the best information and follow the guidelines as described in the weekly meetings where teachers gather.

This year we’ve added student mentors to the program.  I have a group of 10 student volunteers (7-8th graders) who have participated in the project in the past.  They are each assigned a team where they follow their posts in Edmodo/Ning and additions on the wiki.  They are available if students have questions as well.  The students met a group in Florida last week.  One of their questions was, “Why are we doing this project?”.  The students understood that question because some of them had asked the same thing.  One of the students replied, “So we can be the same online as we are in person.”

I am very proud of the way the Digiteen teachers have been guiding all of the students.  I’m also happy they ask for guidance when a question arises and that the “veteran” teachers are available if “new” teachers run into an issue.  They also “check in” via the digiteen google group or weekly meeting to let other teachers and myself know where their students are in the project.  One of the lead teachers, Melanie Kells, has been prompting the students with discussion posts.  Other teachers have been preparing for “meetups” where students communicate synchronously via Skype or Ning chat to get to know each other and share other interests.

With over a month to go, 13 schools  from Japan, Canada, China, and USA have been very busy.  Over 400 students have been researching digital citizenship in small groups with specific topics for over a month.  We’re at the half-way point now, and motivation, interest and goal-orientation is growing.

If you are interested in having your students participate in the Digiteen Project, more information can be found here:  http://www.digiteen.org/apply.html.

ICE 2012 Conference Day!

Thursday I attended the ICE Conference which is a huge tech fest in Northern Illinois.  I took these notes:

Wiki of all presentations:  http://www.icewiki.info/


Thursday’s presentations:  http://www.icewiki.info/Thursday-Sessions.html

ICE Tech Teachernof the Year: Josh Stumpenhorst, 6th grade teacher from Naperville.

Keynote speaker: Peter Reynolds FableVision – top of children’s museum in Boston

Change schools to more wonderful places

We have tools for revolution – takes time

The Dot – be brave and make your mark.

These are the ones I attended:

Jon Orech
Set the Table for Student Achievement
1. How can you make your classroom:
A. Inquiry based
C. Student-centered
2. EduCon – favorite conference to attend
3. Sylvia Martinez – good quotes
4. Develop writing situations with authentic and purpose
5. Replace “completion” with “creation”
6. Digital citizenship project
A. Freshman yr Ettiquette
B. sophomore yr digital citizenship
D. Senior yr Digital tattoo

Tech camp Epiphany School
2 days at beginning of school year – junior high teachers ran a session

Edmodo – all students in junior high have accounts


Available technology
3 laptop carts
2 iPad carts
2 labs

Printer codes

Digital citizenship
Reliable websites
Saving paper – turn in to Edmodo
Technology in ev classroom
Fundamentals – saving and set up folders by subject
Edmodo prezi glogster tagxedo google docs voice thread?
Letter to parents in summer
Moral and ethical knowledge – digital citizenship
Create avatars

Logistics – need time to think through
Evaluate the needs
Had the teachers teach the sessions – teacher input
Suggestion: team teaching


This is what I’m thinking:

One day for each grade in junior high – 2 labs (cart and lab)

Brainstorm tech days…one day for each grade in junior high. Jr high teachers will teach on those days

Get google dashboard


Unblock This!
Librarian K-12

Edweb.net social


Slide rocket part of google apps suite

Think critically

Shannon Miller – librarian who won shorty award for getting her students connected

Ways to get them to fulfill common core standards
Toolbox -trust!

Banned websites awareness day oct. 3

Kids should give them a chance to filter themselves. Requires a lot of skill.

Eric Sheninger social networking hero. @NMHS_Principal

Tom Freiman -How America Fell Behind

Cosn – acceptable use policy


Twitter used in Social Studies classroom
Facebook for discussions and comments


Brain Based Differentiation

For our teacher inservice on Friday, March 2nd, our presenter was Kathy Mears, the assistant superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, gave us strategies for brain-based differentiation.

I took notes right into this blog…sorry for the length!

If you can read through this, please comment by reflecting or adding any information you have!

First activity: KWL – for students
What do you already know?
What do you want to learn?
What did you learn?

Based on Bob Marzano
Kids learn more when you do these strategies:
1. Identifying similarities and differences
2. Summarizing and note taking
3. Reinforcing effort and providing recognition
4. Homework and practice
5. Nonlinguistic representations
6. Cooperative learning
7. Setting objectives and providing feedback
8. Generating and testing hypothesis
9. Cues, questions, and advance organizers

What can I differentiate?

Parts of Brain:

Frontal lobe: tap forehead to bring blood to brain to help think better-thinking part of brain, doesn’t develop fully until 25-28. Help develop frontal lobe by giving them choices, more responsibilities.

Top of neck: cerebellum
Function: motor control
Walking and writing helps students remember things.

Back of head: occipital lobe
Controls vision
Must be stimulated by light the first 2 years of life

Side of head: Parietal lobe
Information comes in and is sorted

Above the ears: temporal lobe
Language, vocabulary, speech, listening
Women’s are more developed than men.

Need all lobes for reading. Make sure all are activated.
What is reading? More of an auditory task – blind children can read.

Important to grow prior knowledge: grow dendrites. Dendrites grow when you learn something new.
KWL activity will help dendrites grow.

Teachers need to try to physically change students’ brains by doing the activities.

How are we changing students brains?

Babies in utero need to hear languages as much as possible to increase their dendrites. Terrible twos: tell them it’s wrong, why it’s wrong, and have them respond to increase dendrites.

Cooperative learning: tell what you heard, not your opinion.

All students raise hands so blood goes to brain. Stand up and ask someone what they know. When hands raised, hold 5 fingers if you know the answer, 3 if kind of, and fist if have no answer.

We shape the brain by our activities: reading, sports, etc.

Children with disabilities – burn more calories…get hungry faster. More difficult the activity, more calories are burned. Feed them!

Brain based diff is for all students and focuses on activating the brain, prior knowledge, movement, participation, reflection,eyt. Leave things open ended.
Brain based diff will assist teachers to meet the needs of all students.

For students:
1. Provide outline, slides
2. Provide blank notes
3. Provide quick referral material

3 times a week reflect.

How to be reflective:
1. Planned partners – by season:
A. Spring – like abilities
B. winter – diff abilities
C. Summer – pick own
D. Fall – opposite sex
2. Report what others say
3. Give choices to reflect on same material

Teaching reading is everyone’s job.

Differentiation of Reading:
Vocabulary is critical.

Need to know common vocabulary words that go across curriculum.

Direct vocabulary instruction: if vocab words are taught vs assigned, students retain better.
1. Teacher provides: description, explanation, example of new term
2. Students restate in own words
3. Students create nonlinguistic representation – symbol about them
4. Students do activities
5. Students asked to discuss terms with someone
6. Students do games to play with terms

Use Frayer Model Diagram

Children have a right to learn without penalty.
They will learn 40% more when they compare/contrast.

Word map – example



Word association activities
Idea completion activities: add because at end for them to finish
3 minute vocabulary walk -do twice a week
Shades of Meaning – weakest to strongest words

Independent reading comprehension: 93-97%

Utilizing various texts.

85-90% is nonfiction – children need to learn this (technical information)

Vary reading levels.

Best readers: do things before, during, and after reading.
Background knowledge very important – experiences are critical.

Easiest way to teach fluency – reading together outloud
-start with prayer

5 components of reading
1. Phonemic awareness
2. phonics
3. Reading fluency
4. Vocabulary development
5. Reading comprehension

5 essential components of reading

Have student-friendly definitions.

Skills for 21st Century Learning
Communication – oral
Creative technology
written communication

Read together and pray together every day.
Learn to learn

Research Based Strategies
1. Make connections
2. Make inferences
3. Ask questions
4. Determine importance
5. Create mental images – visualize
6. Synthesize

Strategy for before reading:
Anticipation guide
-make connections and inferences
-differentiate- make a guide on 3 diff articles- easy, med, hard

Review the text
-look at pictures
-give kids sticky notes
-3 min
-read graphs
-teach them how to think – model it
- think aloud
- ts, tt, t???
Sticky notes, bookmarks, highlighters

iAuthor – create your own textbook and publish it
Dragon dictation – iPhone app writes what you say

Teach students to take notes
Coding the text
- use sticky notes
-assign codes
-create own codes
Small groups – A and B group – 2 min
- fill circle with questions
- research the questions during reading
Use various formats, share, after reading
Reading map – list everything about topic, read articles, circle true facts, cross out false, don’t know ask someone else.

Flipped classroom – watch a lecture at home, do work in class and teacher walks around guiding

Keep teaching reading skills
Provide audio assistance, flipped classroom, auto summarize

Students still learn if doodling

Most important thing to start: compare/contrast

The perfect example for differentiated assessment – first page on a test is all objectives where everyone takes, second page is what most students know, the third page is a page to challenge.

We need to model what we want, provide time for application.

Hippocampus – creates new memories

Memory – repeat 20-30 times before mastery

Use music for memory

Children need sleep and homework

Triangle flash cards – show relationships
Fewer flash cards better

Give the answer first..flipped classroom

Multiple exposures for repetition

Bloom’s taxonomy

Bloom’s verbs…ask why!

Kids should be writing the questions, not teachers

Question points – use a cube with questions on them
- examples on Karen’s website

You have to give something up in order to do something new.

Try again if you don’t do it right the first time.

Alphabet review

Please comment!  Thank you!

Tech Fest Here We Come!

Several of my colleagues and I presented at our first annual Technology Fest for our Diocese.  This was done in 7 schools, allowing teachers to choose from a variety of presentations.  We’ve been gearing up for this day since last February, 2011, and it was a great success!

My colleague, Catriona (@trina789 ), and I presented to two audiences (3-5 and 6-8) about Global Projects.  We concentrated on these global organiziations:

iCollaboratory (www.icollaboratory.org)
Kidlink (www.kidlink.org)
Flat Classroom Projects (www.flatclassroomproject.org)
Global Classroom Project (http://globalclassroom2011-12.wikispaces.com/)
Here are the presentations:

My school colleagues presented about these projects/areas:
Clickers in the Classroom (Diane Ratajczak and Leanne Buhr)

Twitter for Teachers (Ryan Wolcott)

Global Monster Project (Karen Latz, Renee Gambino, Shari Molskness)

Global Read Aloud (Diane Ratajczak and Leanne Buhr)

Landmark Games (Lynne Shemaitis and Connie Kabellis)

I am very proud that they stepped out of their comfort zones and shared their experience and enthusiasm!  What a day!

Two Amazing Experiences in One Day!

I had the opportunity to work with students in Indonesia on their English skills and then learn about a teacher’s trip in Nepal in just 2 hours!

The teacher in Indonesia is Endang Palupi, an ESL teacher at a school district in Pekalongan.  She contacted me via Skype to see if I could talk with her students.  I was happy to accept and asked my own children, Danny (11) and Meghan (14) to speak with them, too.  We found out they love Justin Bieber!  They like to eat, megono rice, a traditional food in their city.  They also taught us a phrase, selamat malam, which means Good Evening or Good Night.   I showed them the snow in our backyard.  They liked that because they only have 2 seasons in Indonesia and do not get snow.  We spoke for over a half hour and I hope they enjoyed our conversation!


teacher and friend from NepalAnother teacher and director of SAV School from Nepal, Govinda,  contacted me via Skype and wanted me to view his slide show of his trip to visit relatives in his country, Nepal.  We used the presentation tool, Discovere, which is low bandwith and free.

A Visit to Nepal

An Interview with Govinda Prasad Panthy


These type of connections make me realize the world is truly flat and ultimately good.  There are good things happening and I am fortunate to know these wonderful people in all parts of the world.




What’s Happening in the Lab with Grade 1

Students in Grades 1 & 2 start the year reviewing favorite games from last year and learning to navigate to my school page with the links to the games.  Then, they work on typing skills using Dance Mat Typing.

These are a mix of games they play in the first Trimester:

Curious George Games

PBS Kids

BBC- Number Time

Peep and the Big Wide World

Starfall Learn to Read

ABCYa Grade 1

Art Pad

Kerpoof student

During the Christmas season, they have a lot of fun games to choose from:

Christmas Games

Decorate Santa’s Room

More Christmas Games

Norad Santa Tracker

Santa Games

Recently, the students are using Kerpoof to create a page for Wonders Around the World Voicethread project.  They have also played a few math games:

Math Arcade

Math Games

That’s what is happening in 1st grade!