Monday, December 29, 2008

Teacher Appreciation Evening Event @ Chandler Barnes & Noble

I was doing some last-minute shopping at Barnes & Noble Booksellers in the Chandler Fashion mall last week, and by sheer chance ended up having a great conversation with Sibley Giles, Barnes & Noble Community Relations Manager. She told me about the store's upcoming Teacher Appreciation Evening, scheduled for Friday, January 23, 2009 at 6:00pm. She wants to host an evening for teachers that will include not only fun and relaxation, but information teachers can put directly to use in the classroom.

What better place for ASSET Innovators? I told Sibley I would attend, and offer whatever information I had about PBS resources...and I could use some help! I hope my fellow Innovators will join me in Chandler on January 23, 2009, 6:00pm, at Barnes & Noble Booksellers--this should be a great opportunity to spread the word about PBS!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

PBS Teachers Happy Holiday Hunt!

Need a stress breaker or are you stuck in the house due to all the white stuff everywhere? Play the Happy Holiday Hunt and you could win Lindens from PBS Teachers Connect in Second Life!

Participate in the PBS Teachers Happy Holiday Hunt by joining our Ning at:

Whether you are new or experienced, come have fun searching for these locations in Second Life! And, at the same time you will learn about the vast array of standards and research-based resources available for education use from PBS!

Once you join the NING environment, you will meet other educators interested in assisting you in your journeys into Second Life. If you have yet to explore Second Life, this is a great way to start. If you are already in Second Life... look me up - Kimmer Jameson (a.k.a. Kim Flack)and join the fun!

Why bother? Well, for those who are experienced SL adventurers, we think that you will find some new resources from PBS you may never have known before. If you are not yet experienced in SL, this is a way to demystify the Grid and see some of the best sites it has to offer.

$3000L (Lindens) will be rewarded along with other fun prizes Second-Life-Style will be awarded on January 18, 2009. Where? Why in Second Life of course!

Find more photos like this on PBS Teachers in Second Life

Note: Second Life® and Linden Lab® are trademarks or registered trademarks of Linden Research, Inc. All rights reserved. No infringement is intended.

Monday, December 15, 2008


The PBS KIDS GO! Broadband Player reaches millions of children every week. Since The Electric Company powered up on the site, The Electric Company channel has received hundreds of thousands of hits!  Take a few minutes in this crazy pre-holiday break week to visit with your students.  See what you think of this show's comeback - headed to Eight airwaves in 2009!   Make sure you click the button for Top 10 to find the link directly to The Electric Company.

AND - check out the electrifying behind-the-scenes footage of the making of The Electric Company show open! A BIG THANK YOU to Sesame Workshop for sharing these resources with us at ASSET-Eight so we can pass them on to you!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

DTV Countdown!

Recently on each newscast I watch, I notice there is a running script along the bottom of the screen reminding me of DTV - Digital Television - and what I need to do to get on board. DTV is coming, ready or not. The major network national news has also started to run a quick feature, the same as they countdown to Christmas, they now countdown to DTV.

The DTV transition is comprised of two parts. Broadcasters must upgrade to digital transmission, and viewers of over-the-air TV must upgrade to digital reception. Even with a converter box (or set-top box), your current analog television will not be capable of taking full advantage of DTV. To enjoy the full picture quality and benefits of DTV, you may want to purchase a new DTV set. But before you do, there are a few things to consider.

Take a look at the Eight site for more specifics - and to find out how you can get a coupon for a digital converter box, if you need one, from the link above.

In the meantime, have a good laugh about how we are all in this together trying to figure out DTV and what it means for the future of broadcast television... watch the whole thing... you won't want to miss it!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Are YOU a PBS Teacher?

Thoughts from Second Life...

Last night I had the privilege of presenting in Second Life alongside Malinda McCormick, the Director of Education from San Antonio's PBS Affiliate Station, KLRN, and Shawn Rider from PBS National on ISTE Island. We had a wonderful host, an ISTE Docent, Kevin Jarret, who helped manage the crowd and help newcomers to Second Life (a.k.a newbies) and 48 people from all over the world attended. The crowd was primarily from the United States (2 from Tucson, AZ) but 1 in particular introduced himself to us from Australia.

I have attended and participated in many events on Second Life (SL) and enjoyed 2 keynotes from NECC last summer in the comfort of my own Phoenix home in my SL attire. I got inspired and really excited about all the possibilities that could happen for us as education professionals in this brave new world.

But, last night was the first time I had ever been a part of a formal presentation team, as part of the ISTE Speaker Series on Second Life. What an experience! We shared a PowerPoint presentation of PBS Teachers, PBS Teachers Connect, PBS TeacherLine, and PBS TeacherLine Peer Connection. After our presentation, we turned everyone loose with a web scavenger hunt and asked all to return to be entered into a grand prize drawing of $5,000 Lindens, donated from Shawn. (If you are a SL addict, your eyeballs just popped out of your head with that kind of prize at stake.) Everyone, however, received a consolation thank you gift of a pixelated PBS Teachers lunch box - complete with chocolate milk, an apple, a sandwich, and cookies (even though they are a sometimes food!).

There are tremendous possibilities for all of us within Second Life. I hope you will take some time to ignore all the bad publicity and experiment by creating an avatar and asking a SL resident for some help. Everyone you find on ISTE Island, and with the DEN (Discovery Educator Network), and on Lighthouse Learning (Kathy Schrock's space), and in Bernajeana's Storytelling area (Bernajean Porter) are incredibly friendly and helpful and excited about professional development in this virtual arena. Look for PBS TeacherLine of Texas and an incredible reconstruction of the Alamo. Find AzTEA as well. And... stay tuned for ASSET-Eight... its in the works!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Dr. Robert Needlman - Reach Out and Read!

I attended the Fall 2008 Annual Reach Out and Read Arizona Statewide Meeting today. Wow! I snuck in the attendee list at the last minute yesterday, promised to bring a bag of PBS goodies as a give away, and offered to leave materials for attendees on a community table in the exhibit area. Was I ever glad I did!

If you are not yet familiar with AZ Reach Out and Read, now is your chance! This organization spearheads pediatricians and others in the medical community to distribute materials on literacy to parents and books to families as a "prescription for reading!" Dr. Robert Needlman, M.D., was the keynote speaker and presented "Primary Prevention of School Reading Problems." It was just incredible to learn about what a difference books and early reading makes in children's lives. He reaffirmed much of what I already know and much of what the PBS KIDS Raising Readers Initiative is working on, but he also gave me new food for thought.

Did you know that research shows 1/3 of those mothers who have less than a 12th grade education are reading to their children despite their own educational barriers? Did you know that only 70% of those mothers with college degrees read to their children? Did you know that children's vocabulary at age 3 and 4 is the greatest predictor of school and reading success for later years? That is just the first bullets that pop out from his presentation today.

So... why is all this important to you? Well... WNET's Reading Rockets website offers webcasts and podcasts, and all sorts of other great resources. BUT most importantly, you can view Dr. Robert Neddlman yourself and find out more in "Toddling Toward Reading" hosted by Reba McIntyre! You can share this with your colleagues and parents. (It does make great parent newsletter material, btw.)

I hope you'll take the time to explore. Thank your pediatrician if he or she is involved with Reach Out and Read. Consider sharing these great online resources from PBS with others! It is just too good to keep all to yourself.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Go Back in Time

Travel back in time to visit five of the families who lived at 16 Elm Street in Ipswich, Massachusetts over the past 200 years in this interactive game from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. Students will match primary source materials and museum artifacts to the appropriate time period in order to learn about the everyday lives of Americans from different eras of our nation's history. This activity is one of the educational resources included in the online exhibition entitled Within These Walls.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Feeding Our Minds and Bodies

Produce for Kids (PFK) is a great resource for helping parents and kids understand the benefits of good nutrition and regular exercise. PBS KIDS partners with PFK to spread the word, and so I wanted to forward the information on to you.

You can find PFK at There is a collection of links providing ideas for addressing nutrition and exercise in your classroom as well as some great kid-friendly recipes.
Another great place to find resources about kids and food is at PBS Parents. Go here to see all they have to offer.

These are both great resources and I encourage you to take a look and pass them on.

Literacy Celebration

Thanks for a great day. I think next year it will be an even bigger turnout. Carol

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Power Up! Grades 6-8 Science

This tool, created by Science NetLinks, challenges students to think about the positive and negative consequences of various types of power. The site provides students with a specific monetary budget, which they can use to purchase power plants for their city. As students choose their types of power, they learn how much power the plant provides, how much it costs, and the effect it could have on the environment. While this page links to the overview of the tool for grades 6-8, you can access reviews for additional grades and benchmarks using the navigation tools at the top of the overview.
Check it out:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

15 year olds

I was reading the PBS Media Infusion blog this a.m. because the headline caught my eye... Meeting the Needs of Adolescent Learners with Media and Technology. I wondered how many secondary teachers reading that headline bristled. These days it seems Adolescent Learners = Intuitive Media and Technology. It is second nature to them. It is an extra 2 or 3 steps for most of us.

Let's see... a 15 year old... born in 1993 right? Am I doing the math correctly? It is 2008 last time I checked :) but those who know me well know how math challenged I am. So... in 1993 I was teaching special education and still doing IEPs on NCR paper... remember that stuff? You would practically break a hand trying to press hard enough to write 6 copies at once. I would take my students to the Apple IIE lab - the old computers - to play things like Oregon Trail - on Fridays for a break. The TV/VCR carts were coveted by the coaches headed off to games. The Mac Classics were reserved for the school newspaper and yearbook classes. We still had a card catalog in the library. But... these guys... these 15 year olds were still babies.

Fast forward 5 years to kindergarten - these kids had parents who were probably just starting to use email for work and the internet to get tips and tricks on parenting. I think it was in 1998 I was working on my 2nd yearbook with a class of students and it was all digital EXCEPT for the photos - that technology was still too expensive. Barney was all the rage though with these kids headed to school for the first time, right?

Fast forward 5 more years and these kids are now 4th graders - 2003. The internet is everywhere. Teachers are streaming video segments maybe if they have access to projectors and even better might get a chance to touch a SmartBoard. These are the kids going home to watch Spongebob and Nick. They play with PS2s. They probably can help their parents with their cell phones - but cell phones are probably mostly still in the high school... not yet made it to the "latch-key kids". Isn't 2003 still pre-iPod boom.

2008. 15 years old. Headphones in ears. Backpacks designed to sport MP3 players with a headphone hole. Texting has its own grammatical structure. Digital photography is everywhere and anywhere. Digital video is anywhere and everywhere too. So look around your classroom... what items do you have in your teaching that are part of this revolution that occurred while we were busy standing at the copy machine and worrying about highly qualified paperwork. In our effort to make sure everything is standards based and working to help students pass standardized tests, technology quadrupled its stronghold.

So what are you doing to make sure - not only is your curriculum rigorous... but is it relevant? Do these 15 year olds wake up in the morning and get excited about what you have to say and share with them? Do you know the latest abbreviations to interpret the notes in class? Do you ever allow your students to use the computers they carry around in their pockets (aka cell phones) as calculators and collaborative tools? Do you let anyone else touch the computer in your classroom besides you? If you need help knowing how to find relevant digital content, you might go to a sight like or and ask a 15 year old to help you search, download, and even stream video or "play" with flash interactives. Better yet, have them assist you in posting a comment to this blog, or help you set up a class blog... and encourage the discussion beyond the walls of your classroom.

We have one chance to get these kids ready for the real world. The media is all around them. It is all around all of us. Isn't it up to us to help them interpret it appropriately and provide them with the proper filters to understand credible sources? Isn't it up to us to show them we are learning along with them and they have something they can teach us as well?

© FNO Press, 2004

Copyright Policy: While the copyright for this cartoon by Jerry King belongs to From Now On, readers may distribute and republish provided they reproduce the credit with a link to Jerry's Web site and to From Now On

Monday, October 20, 2008

Teaching That Makes Sense

Another teacher at my site discovered a wonderful website with posters, downloadables, lesson plans and more. The focus of the website is primarily reading and writing, but there is a wealth of information that can be used by teachers of all subject areas.

Web address:


Help Design New PBS Online Video Player

If you have yet to visit PBS Teachers, NOW is the perfect time! PBS Teachers offers a collection of Web 2.0 tools now for you to collaborate with other educators from across the globe, along with ways for you to tag and collect the great teaching resources you find. Create a free account for PBS Teachers Connect and get in on the fun.

ALSO! How often are you asked for your input? Look for the discussion How do you use online video to enhance learning? and offer your thoughts! I know you are all super experienced users of Discoverystreaming. Please share your ideas directly on the PBS Teachers Connect sight and continue the discussion!

Would you like to help PBS Teachers build a new online video player that meets the needs of educators and students? Please get involved by letting us know how you use online video to enhance learning. How do you find online video? How do you plan for lessons that include online video? How do you share the video with your students? What features and functionalities would the ideal video player have?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Social Studies "Think Critically to be Creative"

Building a sod house? It's not as easy as it seems! In this interactive activity, taken from the OurStory series produced by the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, students will attempt to build a sod house by making choices regarding the construction of their house. Too many wrong answers and the house will collapse! This engaging and lighthearted activity will help students understand the challenges settlers faced while trying to survive on the open prairie. OurStory is a series of modules designed to help children and adults enjoy exploring history together through the use of objects from the Museum's vast collections, quality children's literature, and engaging hands-on activities. Ideal for afterschool use, OurStory resources will allow students to think critically, to be creative, and to achieve academic standards both in and out of the classroom.
Here is the interactive web site:

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

great websites to share

Good afternoon from still warm and sunny Arizona. :)
Just wanted to make sure everyone knows about these two wonderful websites:

This is a bilingual site for families and educators who are helping children become successful readers. Tons of downloadable info' in both Spanish and English.

Here's where the website's name comes from:
The name "ColorĂ­n Colorado" comes from a playful phrase that is often said at the end of stories in Spanish-speaking countries. There's no literal translation, but the phrase is similar to "…and that's the end of the story!" or "…and they lived happily ever after."

This site is another reading site with an emphasis on best practices for struggling readers.

Who do you know?

In-home care providers provide love and nurturing to our youngest Arizona children. No matter what grade you teach, I would bet you know someone who takes care of children under age 5 in their own home.

ASSET-Eight has extended the deadline for the In-Home Caregiver Recognition Awards to Wednesday, October 15 - 5 pm. Please think about who means a lot in your community by serving families with young children.

Find more information online at the ASSET Early Childhood website. We look forward to hearing from you!.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Brain Warmups

Here is a great website to get the kids thinking in the morning. I like to give kids Plexers or Brain Teasers to get them thinking to start the day.

I write them on the white board and go around the room.

I give each student about 25 seconds to answer.

These are a lot of FUN!!

Here is the site:

Monday, September 15, 2008

Web School for Language Arts

Over the years, I have found that teaching language arts can be a cumbersome task. There is so much to cover. Fortunately, I found a web site that tunes in to the important pieces of Grammar that need to be taught.

The web site is called Web School (

I use a game called Mad Libs. This is where the kids are given a topic and they fill in the blanks with nouns, adverbs, adjectives, etc.. This helps them remember in a fun and meaningful way.

We do this as a whole group activity. When the puzzle is finished, it is read out loud.

**In some puzzles, names are used. Please do not use a child's name in class.

Pre-Lesson Extensions

Before I start a lesson, I usually like to get the students warmed up and ready to tackle the information. This is where I incorporate short video clips from the IDEAL Portal.

Here is a sample format that I use:

  • Introduce Place Value in Math
  • Have students take out Journals for note taking purposes
  • Go to IDEAL Portal and search for place value videos
  • Select 4th grade
  • Download video clip (1:30-2:00)
  • Show on TV screen
  • Begin Lesson

I have found this tool to be invaluable in helping all learners, especially visual learners, increase test scores on Benchmark tests and the AIMS.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

An Invitation to ALL Arizona Educators

ASSET would like to invite Arizona educators to invigorate yourself as a professional and collaborate with your 21st Century learners in new ways. Let PBS support your daily teaching efforts with standards and research based broadcast and online resources. Let ASSET provide the means to connect you with professionals across Arizona, and across the nation with PBS TeacherLine online professional development.

Starting in September, educators will have the ability to become an ASSET Educator. This is a new membership opportunity for Eight Public Television. Why become a member? Well the list of member benefits includes all the attributes of an Eight membership, but also a whole collection of services, discounts, and resources we know Arizona educators will find valuable. Take a sneak peek at what membership includes: Become an ASSET Educator.

ASSET honors the efforts of the individual educator. Classroom Innovators are exemplary educators from across Arizona who applied to assist ASSET with reaching the mission of Eight-ASSET into their PreK - 20 school and community. Because we know home is a child's first classroom, ASSET also honors in-home care providers, and those considered family, friends and neighbors who care for Arizona's youngest students birth to age 5. In the coming days, weeks, and months, you will be able to find glimpses into those Arizona classrooms here in this blog. Our Classroom Innovators will contribute stories of their students and teaching challenges here in this blog. This will be a collection of what efforts are taking place at the most critical level of education - the classroom and the home.

I invite you to check back often. I invite you to respond and pose questions and dig deeper. I encourage you to become involved in the community that is ASSET Educators! Cheers to innovation and the passion that lies at the heart of all good teachers.  And to anyone who thinks teaching might be easy... and integrating technology just isn't all that hard... I encourage you to consider this analogy graciously provided to us via You Tube by a creative commerical team: