Sunday, November 28, 2010

A glimpse at my years in high school for the Blog Challenge!

Way back, in high school, I was considered a "B" student. I was shy, yet a leader in some small organizations like Sunday School, Future Teachers-yes way back then, I knew I wanted to be a teacher, and I was a little bit on the edge in my classes. I questioned everything!
If we were given an assignment, I wanted to find out a way to do the assignment, but to do it differently. When we studied Civics, instead of doing a huge project, I invited the city planner of a neighboring community to speak to our class. I had to set up the interview questions and make sure that it related to our course work, which I did, and it ended up being a great experience. Maybe that led me to be a webcaster on Edtechtalk and interview educators for Women of Web 2.0 and now for Seedlings.
I was co-chair of my junior prom, 'Barefoot in the Park', I traveled to Europe that summer and when I graduated from Suffield High School and was accepted as a student at the University of Maine, and never went back to live in Connecticut. I graduated from Univeristy of Maine, both undergrad and graduate school and have lived and worked in Maine since 1974.  I did travel back this summer, to Suffield,  for our 40th Reunion, which was a blast! It was like the years disappeared and it was like the old days, the the girls riding around in Lana's car looking for things to do, but really it is about talking, planning and living life.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Making a Transition Plan for your High Schooler

cross posted at

Since 2004 IDEA re-authorization, schools have been charged with creating transition plans for students with IEP’s to include specific plans on how the student will be prepared for life after high school, whether it be work, post secondary education, or both. Let’s look at where you might begin with your middle or high school students as they being thinking about careers.

This is where I am going start with my students.

First, register at Princeton Review and then click here to take the career interest 24 question survey. Be sure to save your registration information so you can save materials and go back and look at what you have saved. As with most surveys answer the questions fairly quickly.
Once you finish the survey you get a an Interest Color and A Usual Color. Mine happen to be Interest=Green and Usual=Red. Then about 50 careers are generated from my interests with links to each career that give me more information including facts and figures about salary, the options to move up the career ladder, what the present and future may hold, and even what someone in this profession might read.
This site is also linked to SAT’s, ACT’s and college information.

The other Career site I found was Office of Science Education
Here I began with 127 careers, I chose 2 categories, narrowed  my choices down to 10 careers. Next,  I selected about 30 skills I felt I had or would like to have, finally I ended up with 5 careers if I had a Master’s degree and 3 if I had a Bachelor’s degree. This only took about 10 minutes to get to the 8 careers I ended up with.

Another great website will send students to look at what their career may eventually pay them.This website would be a great site to look at with groups of students so they could read, collect data and report out to the group the variety of jobs they might be interested in.

If you are on holiday, share this blog with your students, let them begin the search. One nice result, I still have teaching in my career choices, but also  a few in the science field I did not know about. I wonder what my students’ career options will be?


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hosted the Day in a Sentence Week! November 15, 2010

Thanks for all who participated during this really busy week.
To see the original gathering spot, check out Wall Wisher  . Here you will find sentences and links to many bloggers.

Bonnie wrote: Big Week Coming: NWP in Orlando and lots of wordcount coming for NaNoWriMo!

LynnJacobs wrote: As the bell rang today, releasing the students (and us) for a week's vacation, I was slammed with a boisterous, nasty head cold that continues to build tonight.

Murcha wrote: I loved being part of the Global Education Conference this week - heard global presenters, made new friends, shared stories. A Mirtschin (Australia)

Mr. Wood: I love the way you manage your own learning.

Tracy wrote: I caught a young student holding hands with a classmate who is in a wheelchair with no oral communication skills, little movement - encouraging!

Cheryl wrote: "That's what I am talking about!" Seems to be what I repeat for most things! Especially when my students tell me of their successes!!

Bonnie, I hope the NWP was a successful week for all who participated. Lynn, I hope you get through your nasty head cold quickly! Murcha, we are glad you are part of our Global connections! Mr. Wood, excellent sentence, I am sure it motivates your students. Have a great week, and look for a note from Bonnie signaling the beginning of another DAIS.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The important thing about being thankful
I just read some student blogs this week, they wrote about animal research using Margaret Wise Brown's book as a model, The Important Book, I borrowed their idea.

The Important Thing about being Thankful
is that the glass if always half full.
It is an adjective,
it is useful,
it describes me most every day.
But the important thing about being
thankful is that the glass is always half full.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Let Universal Design for Learning, be all about “Assisted” Technology for All

cross posted at

Our goals for our students include independence as life long learners. When you work with challenged learners it is imperative to focus on their independence and life long skills and practice using those skills. Here is the how to: Help your students achieve independence as a life long learner, anytime, anywhere.

In September, we introduced our students to the suite of Google Apps. All students were given a user name and password for our school google domain. Once logged in, a calendar was introduced as a way to keep track of assignments, family vacations, days off, tests and quizzes, Homecoming, Sporting events, school plays, Marching Band and the end of first trimester. Next we shared how to access their email, a google doc, how to answer a survey in a google form and finally how to make a presentation. All of these options are located in our google domain. This google introduction took about 3 weeks as we shared how to use these apps and how to find purpose while making good choices.

Most often, the use of google apps allows for collaboration, whether that be a shared calendar, a shared presentation, a google doc or a shared spreadsheet for data collection. Shared calendars not only serve as a reminder of when a project is due for a student,  but it’s also a way for the teacher to see when an important competition is scheduled, and then it’s a reminder for a teacher to attend that school event .

Our students even chose to use google presentation as they prepared for classroom slide shows. They were able to use  google presentation with the teacher as editor, or with peers as collaborators on their projects.

The most powerful reason for using google docs is that the app allows for  a teacher to be editor across time or space. Also, the teacher  can choose to open the document at a later time  and leave editing comments and questions for her students. There are never enough hours in the school day to work with all students, however, by going digital, the opportunities for revisions and edits extend far beyond the walls and hours of the classroom. One evening I told my students that I would be online to edit student work. One student left me a note the he had his essay ready to be edited. I edited the work, left him questions and comments with suggestions for changes. He immediately started making changes on the document as I was working on it. We chatted using google chat and in less than 20 minutes, he had a revised document and was ready to turn in the paper the next day.

The next focus was teaching our students with some excellent web 2.0 tools. We chose to use Animoto, an online slide collage production tool, complete with Text, titles, spotlights and music. Finally,  we taught our students how to use Quizlet. Quizlet is a vocabulary flashcard online tool. One  Friday afternoon  we shared this app with a student, he had not done well on his previous English quiz. During the weekend he taught himself how to use Quizlet, added his vocabulary words and on Monday he re-took the quiz and passed with 100%. That is the power of student choice, student digital access and student designed toolkits.

Until recently, classroom tools have been teacher chosen, teacher driven and teacher taught. This week, each of our students began designing their own toolkit with powerful online tools. We hope that by having students design their own toolkits, that they will have a reference spot to go to when they are completing school assignments or long term projects. Since these toolkits reside on the web, it provides our students anytime access and choice in which tool to use and complete their assignments.

This week our students created their toolkit from a google doc template. They added their own tools, selected colors and personalized their templates. Then they published their google doc to the web. Finally, by giving their toolkit webpage a tiny url, our students are able to find their toolkit no matter where they are.

Stop by for another installment about our continued use of webtools in our toolkits. These tools allow for all our learners to be independent life long learners.

This blog post is part 2 of multiple blogs about  UDL, toolkits and independent learners.
For more information, check out the toolbelt theory by Ira David Socol  or the UDL tech toolkit started by Joyce Valenca and Karen Janowski, Finally, from,
we have teaching every student.
What should your students consider for their digital toolkit?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Am I a writer? What is my life as a writer like?

What is your life as a writer like? Do you write for work and or pleasure? What kind of things do you have to write as an adult? When you do write is it texting, computer, paper, journal or other?

My life as a writer, adult, educator, blogger, parent, friend, learning network...  Never in my wildest thoughts as a student back in my K-12 education years did I ever consider that I would be a writer. When I was a student I wrote out of necessity. I wrote answers to tests, quizzes, short stories, research papers and letters to friends and send them through snail mail.
Today, I write for, for, my own couple of blogs, SEEDLINGS @ edtechtalk,  a weekly newsletter to my students and our Skills Cafe, my IEP's, accommodation notices to students and staff, keep up with my Facebook pages, Twitters and texting on my cell.

I am glad I learned to write!