Presenting the Oak Grove Digital Archive

The teachers at Oak Grove Elementary decided, during a faculty book study meeting, to create a digital archive on their school website to display all the wonderful projects there students were creating for STEM, PBL, and 21st Century Learning.  They wanted a way for parents and students to have “copies” of the three dimensional group projects the students were creating. Also, they wanted to showcase digital projects that their students were creating with iPads and other devices.  Take a look here:

The Oak Grove Digital Archive

The newest step in this adventure is to also post QR codes around the school.  Parents can scan the QR codes to see the virtual projects or read more about the things their children have been creating in class.  It is a physical way to display work in the hall with a digital link.  Take look at some of the teachers’ displays:

I’m really excited about the ways teachers are taking technology to the next level at Oak Grove.  Stop by their site and see what you think!

Spanish on iPads

I have had a few requests for good Spanish apps.  I haven’t found any I LOVE, but I did find something in iTunes U.  For those of you who took the last inservice, you know I professed a love for Boyne City Schools.  They have issued iPads to EVERY student, so they have tons of units in iTunes U that students can complete on the iPads.  And lo and behold…they have a 5th grade Spanish unit (but I think it would work for 3-5)!!  It has some great videos, and ideas for activities to do on the iPads. If you want to take a look on your teacher iPad, first download the iTunes U app.  Then search the catalog for Boyne City Schools.  The unit is called 5th Grade SPN Resources. Check out the other units while you’re there!
And, because of that unit, I found a new app that I love! It’s called FaceTalker!  It’s free, and could be used in any subject (or grade level).  I don’t like a couple of the available themes, but they aren’t too too bad, and I won’t download them on student iPads.  The idea is that you take a picture (with the camera or one you already have–think famous American), and then make the picture talk.  (It reminds me of a modern version of Blabberize).
Here the links to all these things (use your iPad to click on them):
I’d love some suggestions for good, kid friendly apps for Spanish that are free.  If you know of any, please let me know!

Mission 005 — Latitude and Longitude

Mission 005

Need a fun, cross curricular way to introduce Latitude and Longitude to your students?  Here’s a Math/Social Studies Lesson using spies, secret codes, and google earth.  What can be better than that?

It addresses Math SOL 4.15, 5.14 and Global Studies SOL GS.1.

First, make sure students understand how to use Google Earth to find specific points on Earth using latitude and longitude.  You will want to make sure that the status bar in google earth is showing (View>Status Bar) so that you can clearly see the latitude and location of your point on the globe. You will also want to cut off all layers except those that show countries.

If you are using the Google Earth App on an iPad (or iPod), make sure to change a few settings.
Check out How to Change Settings in Google Earth by Tina Coffey on Snapguide.

Students also need some background in finding patterns in a series of numbers.  It may also help if they’ve done a bit of code breaking before (although it’s not necessary).  Then, present groups of students with their secret envelope and access to Google Earth, and sit back to see what they can figure out!

Here’s are the documents to create your own Mission packets:
Mission 005 – Latitude and Longitude

I’m working on a follow up STEM activity that has students designing their own codes.  I’ll add it when I’m done.


Character Counts with Technology Too! (Trustworthiness)

trustWhat does it mean to be a trustworthy digital citizen?

Here are some questions for your students to consider:
1. What does it mean to be trustworthy with technology devices at school?  
  • Computers?
  •  iPads or iPods?
  • Printers?
  • Laptops?
2. What does it mean to be trustworthy online, at school and at home?
  • When doing research online? (copyright)
  • When gaming, especially gaming with chats?
  • When uploading photos or videos to websites? (consider what types of pictures you are uploading?  Have the people in the picture given permission for you to upload it?  Is it something you want the whole school to see?  Your grandmother to see?)
  • With passwords or personal information?
3. What does it mean to be trustworthy with a phone, iPad or iPod Touch or any other device that allows you to send text messages and pictures?
  • With what you text…
  • With who you text…
If you need any more discussion starters or information on a specific topic, let me know.  It really will work best if you integrate this within other topics so it’s more of a conversation than an “internet safety” lesson…use those teachable moments. Blogging and using devices like iPads or laptops will hopefully help those moments arise more organically.  🙂

Flocabulary (Hip Hop Videos for the Classroom)

Have you heard of Flocabulary? It’s a website that does hip hop songs to help students remember certain facts. It started with SAT vocab, but has expanded to all levels and subjects. To have access to all the videos/songs you need to pay a fee, but a few are free…including the one for Egypt, which you can watch here.

Note the lyrics below the song (they are clickable) and the resources to go with it on the right hand side of the page. I will warn you…you will be singing the chorus to this in your head all day after you hear it, or at least I did! 🙂

There are other free videos too worth checking out on the site, including Confessions of a Planet (Space), On Trial! (Test Taking Vocabulary), Let Freedom Ring (Civil Rights), This Ain’t Working (American Revolution), Place Value, Scientific Method of Madness, and more!  There is a vocabulary section broken down by grade level and tons of other great videos in the paid version. You can also download songs in iTunes (for $.99 each).  Take a look (and listen).  I think you will love these!


QR Craze

You’ve seen them, right?  On the corners of mailings, on the windows of businesses, maybe even on the tags of things you buy.  You may have even used them…used your phone to scan one and get coupons or reviews for a business or more info on a product.  But did you know they are being used like crazy in classrooms?

Here’s one of my favorite videos about the use of QR codes in the classroom.

And here’s one based more for elementary school:

So basically to use QR codes, you need the following things:

  • QR Code Generator (usually a website that will easily make the code for you)
  • A device with a camera to read it(iPod touch, iPad, cell phone, or computer with webcam)
  • QR Code Reader (which you download to the device with a camera

Want to create a QR code?  It’s easy…your students can even do this!

Here’s a few QR Code generators:

Here a few QR Code Readers:

And here are some cool links to use them:

And here are some ideas for using QR Codes in the classroom:




Newspapers in Education (Roanoke Times)

If you teach in the Roanoke Valley, you have access to Newspapers in Education. If you’ve used this service in the past, chances are you received paper copies of the Roanoke Times delivered to your classroom each day, for FREE. Now the service has improved even more…the Roanoke Times can now be viewed in a digital form, online, for FREE. It’s available for use in the computer lab, on your laptop, on your activboard, and even at home. And students can access too! It looks exactly like the paper version, but since it’s digital, it’s even better.


Electronic Edition of NIE

With the digital version you can

  • search for specific things using a search box
  • email or print articles with both text and pictures
  • get inserts from any area in the county
  • see past issues of the paper (up to a month)
  • highlight certain sections, scan headlines, flip through pages
  • And yes, you can get the coupons!! 
Article Options

Article Options

Back Issues
Back Issues

I can see this tool being used by students of all ages.  Students can use pictures as writing prompts, find and highlight certain words, view articles about their community, or use the coupons for math lessons.  The weather section is great for all sorts of science and math activites, and  older students can print or email specific artilces to their teachers along with their reactions or summaries. 

In Roanoke County, we’ve set up accounts for our elementary schools to use.  Just visit  Newspapers in Education (  Please see your ITRT for the student login/password (hint: it’s the same student login/password as the computers in our school).  If you work for another division in the Roanoke Valley, or want your own teacher account, just enroll!  You can also contact Trent Currin at 540-981-3286 or email her at