Wow! Did that Year Fly By

What a year this has been.  My first year in the Junior High has flown by.  I have learned a lot of different things about 7th & 8th graders.  The main one is they are having a tough time deciding if they are ready to become young adults or cling to still being a kid.  I tried many new ideas this year with some failing and others hitting the mark.  I t was a year of growing & testing but I have emerged with lots of teaching ideas from the experience.  Twitter was a great addition to my Personal Learning, along with our Panthers Tech Bootcamp (which I passed) and my first experience with an Edcamp.  I am grateful for all who have helped me through the school year to become a better teacher.  I still have so much I want to learn & experience and I hope to take next year group of students on part of my journey.  Here is too a relaxing (camping here I come), learning ( 2 summer classes) and bittersweet summer(my baby will be going to college in the fall)!

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10 Self Help Sites for Technology

My daughter is graduating this weekend from High School so I decided to add my own guest post.  When I saw this post I thought about all the students & teachers it might help.  Plus I have a quick post for the week.

Top 10 Self Help Sites for Technology by David Kapuler

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When using technology it is inevitable that one is going to need help.  A lot of valuable time can be wasted trying to search online or find someone that can help meet your technological needs.  So I’ve created a Top 10 list that will help teachers and students become their own tech.  These sites focus on all aspects of technology (OS, hardware, software, etc) and will help users find what they are looking for quickly.

  1. Atomic Learning – Probably the most popular educational solution for self-help tutorials on a variety of technology areas.
  2. Woopid – A excellent site for 1000s of free video tutorials on technology. Also, a person can request a tutorial that is not found on the site.
  3. Learn That – A great site for free tutorials on a variety of subjects included technology.
  4. Lynda – A paid site similar to Atomic Learning that focuses on software training.
  5. Tech University – A wonderful site for the Mac user/enthusiast.
  6. Internet 4 Classrooms – A very nice site with tutorials for Mac and Windows users and lots of links for the K-12 classroom.
  7. Explania – A fun site with animated tutorials similar to Brainpop. Also, a user can create their own channel for videos and embed videos into their blog/site as well.
  8. Total Training – A great site with lots of tutorials for a monthly fee, similar to Lynda.
  9. VTC – 1000s of video tutorials that can be viewed online or purchased as a CD; does require a monthly fee.
  10. Say it Visually – An interesting site where they create/design videos to meet your needs. They specialize in taking complex topics and making them easy to understand.

David Kapuler is an educational consultant with more than 10 years of experience working in the K-12 environment. For more information about his work, contact him at and read his blog at

New Web 2.0 tools are “springing up”

I finally had a chance yesterday to sit down (of course it was Mother’s Day) and look over my notes from NETA.  I love to go to NETA since I always come home rejuvinated about technology and what I can teach my students.   This years NETA was no different.  Keynote speakers such as Rushton Hurley ( ) and Richard Bryne ( made this conference a great learning experirnce.  Here are a few of the new sites I was introduced to: : Your free video editor :is a cloud-based platform that empowers everybody to easily create new music or enhance their existing musical talent and share it with friends.  is a tool to browse easily and efficiently in Wiki content, inspired by the mindmap technique. is a an online stickies wall. It is similar to Wallwisher where you can post stickers, add photos and movies. You can also upload links to documents. It is collaborative and can be embedded into blogs and wikis. This could be a great presenting tool for students. :a web app that makes it dead easy to make stunning, animated timelines that work in your browser. :is a way to gather all your knowledge and store them in a 3 ring binder

Enjoy these new tools and I hope to have more to come.

Lip Dubs

I always felt as if I knew what was happening but this past week at my NETA Conference I saw a cool way to get school spirit going.  Lip Dubs!  I decided to do some research and found out that they have been going on since 2008.  Where was I at!  Nebraska.  I would love to orchestrate one but I need to figure out how much time and school involvement it would take before I start to even pitch it to my principal.   It would make an awesome end of the year activity……………

Here is an excellent example:

Paper Cranes for Japan

My 7th & 8th grade Gifted classes were given the challenge to give back to others. The project we took on was Paper Cranes for Japan. After hearing about the devastating earthquake & tsunami that ravaged the coast in Japan the students were ready to get to work.

Student Rebuild through the Bezos Family Foundation is paying $ 2.00 for every paper crane made and sent to them.  These cranes will generate $100,000 to Architecture for Humanity.  The paper cranes will then be woven into an art installation – a symbolic gift from students arounf the globe to Japanese peers.

Our goal was to make 5,000 cranes school wide but the cranes have been coming in so rapidly from around the word that they have moved up the deadline to receive cranes for the 15th of April.  So we will be sending our box filled with over 200 cranes to be counted!

Here is a helpful video our students used to learn how to fold the cranes





Dance Off using Stykz


Stykz is freeware, meaning it’s completely free to download and use to create animations that you can show off to others or import into other applications. No hidden costs, license or permission are required to use Stykz to its fullest.  Stykz is the first multi-platform stick figure animation program in the world, so you’ll be able to use Mac OS X & Windows to create, edit and preview your animations.  Stykz is frame-based, letting you work on individual frames of your animation to make it just right. Onionskins let you see what was in the previous frame so you can make adjustments to your current frame easily.

I had read another blog where they were having Dance off with Stick animation.  How appropriate for 7th & 8th grade students who always ask to listen to music while they work.  After looking at the site I decided to give it a try.  The students worked hard and asked if their stick figures could do things they normally would not.   Of course, that is the fun of the program.  My students were given the task to create a 30 sec stykz (about 300 frames to design).  Since Stykz does not at this point have the ability to add music. I had the students create their own on garageband and then download it to iTunes.  With their stykz’s completed they exported them as animations to the desktop and then imported the animation into iMovie.   They could add titles and other bells & whistles from there.  The music was added and then exported as a quick time movie.  Most of the students downloaded them to You Tube

Here is an example:

I Love Stories with Holes……..

Lateral Thinking Puzzles, unlike most puzzles, are inexact. In a sense, they are a hybrid between puzzles and storytelling. In each puzzle, some clues to a scenario are given, but the clues don’t tell the full story. Your job is to fill in the details and complete the story. Obviously, there is usually more than one answer to any given puzzle, but, in general, only one solution is truly satisfying.
You can try solving these puzzles on your own — that’s certainly a legitimate way to go about this — but usually you can have more fun if you involve other people. The way this works is, you look at the answer (maybe you want to try the puzzle on your own first!), then read just the clues to your friends. Your friends must determine the answer by asking questions about it, which you may answer only with yes, no, or doesn’t matter. You can adjust the difficulty of the puzzle by varying the initial clues, throwing in red herrings, and so forth.
Warning: For some reason, these puzzles have a tendency to be rather morbid.

Here is one to get you started:

A man is lying dead, face down in the desert. He’s wearing a backpack.

Good Luck  Send me a comment with your guesses

EdcampOmaha- Unconference

I went to my first Edcamp in Omaha this past weekend and I had a great time but an overload on awesome ideas to use in the classroom.  I really liked how this “unconference” was set up.  I had a date, time and place but the rest of the day was up to us the attendees.  As I arrived there was a large empty sheet of paper with 4 rows of  squares and times.  As the conference started we were told to go write in one of the time slots an idea for a presentation.  As others discussed what to do I just sat and watched the presentations go up.  Now was the hard part!  I had to choose out of 4 ideas which presentation I was going to attend and I had to do this 3 more times.  I tried to go to ones that my friends were not attending so we could compare notes at the end of the day!  What a day it was.  I had a great session on Google Applications which gave me great ideas as to what to work on this summer for next years class.  I of course went to one called Web 2.0 and I actually got up and presented  on Stykz.  I didn’t think I was going to but the excitement and enthusiam of all the attendees got into your blood and you wanted to “show off” also.  Lunch was on our own so we left with 4 new friends and had a great lunch getting to know each other besides our Twitter profile.  Then it was back to the last two sessions one which was on authentic learning and had a great discussion then the last one was on classroom habitudes and how to teach 21st Century learning habits and attitudes.  The day ended with all of the attendees getting back together for wonferful door prizes ( I won NETA Registration for the 2 days).  As my friends & I headed home we were all exhausted but fired up for another couple of months of teaching.  Thanks to all who had a hand in this unique un-conference!

First Days of Spring……. one day closer to Camping

I love waking up in the morning and hearing the birds chirping. I know that we are getting closer & closer to warm weather and camping. I love camping! We have a 26′ travel trailer that we live in on the weekends whenever possible. I have several different camping sites I love and I can’t wait to become a host couple for these camping areas. Nebraska Game & Parks hires people to camp for two weeks at a time and consider them the experts for the campground. These “experts” take care of emergencies, making sure the bathrooms have what is needed, sell firewood and just be there for questions on what to do in the area.
Here are my top 5 camping areas in Nebraska ( which with the price of gas I will have to visit a lot this summer)
Branched Oak5. Branched Oak By Lincoln






4. Indian Cave by Nebraska City





Pawnee3. Pawnee by Lincoln



Weigand1024x6812. Weigand by Crofton




Ponca1. Ponca State Park by Ponca






What do you think about when Spring has Sprung?