Sunday, January 18, 2009

Two Awesome Web Sites

I just recently discovered these two gems and wanted to share them with you. The first is a web site that allows you to develop mind maps is you will using a web based program. This site is The tag line is to think creatively. You can also collaborate with others.

The second web site is On this site you can upload a document that will format it like a magazine, you can save the doc as a PDF. You can email the document out and it looks like a real magazine.

Both sites require registration but there is no fees associated with them.

Enjoy, James.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Technology and Teaching

I've been teaching for nine years now, and always amazes me the rapid changes in technology and how that technology impacts our daily lives. The best comparison I have is my mother. She began teaching third grade in 1966. When I began my teaching career she gave me boxes of 3 ring binders, 36 of them to be exact. Each binder represented a week in school. There was the lesson plan, the things to be copied, and notes on future plans. Wow, have we come a long way!

In today's ever changing world we can't develop a curriculum and successfully use it for 25 years. We won't be successful, and our students won't be prepared. I love that I can get on the Internet and within an hour find numerous lesson plans that I often adjust to meet my student needs. Think about how much planning time is eliminated with the use of technolgoy.

In my classroom I have 4 student computers, my computer, a projector, and full Internet access. It is awesome to see my student's eyes light up when we go to Google Earth to see what modern day Rome looks like when we are discussing Ancient Rome. Or, when I dispaly a copy of our social studies book on the projector meeting different needs. Using Powerpoint to share information, or stream video to engage them in a real conversation. My new favorite tool is I-Tunes. When working on individual task I can softly play in the background music that is related to our curriculum, maybe an Italian opera.

We are in the beginning stages of blogging. We use On this site students set up their own blog page, enter responses for the assignment which are emailed to me. They are not posted until I approve them from my email. May sound like a lot, but I would prefer to read emails in the evening than grade a stack of papers.

We have to be careful though. In my opinion nothing replaces a good novel in print form or a child's piece of art work hanging on the wall. Being a Classroom Innovator has helped me understand with even more depth the importance of technology, but also the importance of balancing technology and traditional resources.