Using new technologies in the classroom

The Magic of “Interactive” WhiteBoards


This video below displays the true magic and capabilities of the Interactive White Board. I have been so blessed to have one in my classroom and the children just love it. However, what they love most is when it is their turn to “touch” or interact with the board.

When I first integrated the Interactive Whiteboard into my classroom, I was unsure of how to involve each and every child. I must admit that I used it to show short videos and read-aloud animated story books. However, as I became more comfortable with its capabilities, I learned how to manage my students so that each child truly interacted and had a turn at some point in the day. This took practice and patience (from my students). I finally came to the point that each time we sat down for a lesson or activity at the IWB, not each child would have a turn. I helped them understand that if they did not have a turn at that moment, that they would later. Since tracking who had a turn was a challenge for me, I gave each child a number. They learned their numbers so quickly. Whenever it was time for a child’s turn, I simply called out the next number. And believe me-no one forgot when it was their turn, who had a turn already or who was absent and couldn’t have a turn!

I must emphasize that the most important feature is its capability to interact. The worst thing that it can be used for is a tv or movie player. Let’s face it, our students go home and watch tv-and most likely – alot. Their brains need interactive stimulation. They need to stand up and move their bodies and fingers. They need to think about the appropriate action. They do not need to just sit and listen. The IWB should not be used as another “teacher” who just talks and provides knowledge.

So, I encourage you to allow the students to interact with the board. Remember-its not just a whiteboard. It’s an Interactive White Board!




Wow! Science Lessons on a 3-D Animated Sphere


On this mornings digital New York Times, I read about a new technology that I did not even know existed. Sure, I’ve seen some amazing computer screens and animations on Iron Man, but never anything similar for real people. So, I began wondering why this was such a treat for me to read about. To be honest, I find it difficult to find interesting technology lessons that deal with Science. What about you and the technology that you use in the classroom? What subject do you use technology in the most? Perhaps it is a digital Math curriculum, similar to Pearson Success net. Or maybe you incorporate iPad’s or Interactive Whiteboard lessons into sight word games and lessons. It is even possible to use Brain Pop and Brain Pop Jr. to teach Science in a fun way. How about Geography and Astronomy? The more specific a topic becomes, the trickier it can be to find technology to use in an interesting way in the classroom.

“Earth on a Sphere” or the “Magic Planet” is a two foot 3-d model of the Earth. It is not projected onto a flat surface. It is actually projected onto a spherical screen, using four projectors! It is the aspiration of the inventor, to one day have such models in classrooms, just like interactive whiteboards are becoming more common. Currently, there are 85 models in institutions around the globe. Most of them being in museums.

Lessons have already been made for classroom use; however, they focus on older elementary age levels. One such lesson was created by an 11-year old girl. She researched how global warming affects animal life. She then projected her results onto the sphere to show how climate warming actually affected the turtle population and how warming caused more female turtles to be born.
In the videos below, the movement of airplanes is shown over time lapses across the globe. In addition, the illumination of lights at night is shown on the 3-d Earth on a Sphere. Even a visual of the ocean currents during a Tsunami are shown. This information in a 3-D model is genius and I hope to see one in the future!

What do you think? Is this something that could be used in your school or classroom? If so, how? I would love to hear your ideas!



New York Times Article:

Science on a Sphere Information:

English: NOAA's Science On a Sphere ® in the P...

English: NOAA’s Science On a Sphere ® in the Planet Theater at the Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, CO (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Incredible Insect Activities!

To start off our insect lesson, we compared what we know about the traits of animals, people and insects. However, this may be better for the end of an insect unit.



Here are my favorite Pinterest inspirations from other amazing teachers! Just click the picture to see the website of the original creator of the activity.










Firefly Craft- Add a glow stick inside of a mountain dew bottle! (idea found on Pinterest)














We just completed a fun “Hungry Caterpillar” activity, using real fruit and a caterpillar toy to retell Eric Carle’s story. My students also tasted each fruit, just as the caterpillar did!





























Pumpkin WebQuest


Image by DrBacchus via Flickr

A WebQuest is like a field trip online-for kids. I made this one about Pumpkins because when I searched online, I could not find any that were useful. Most links on existing WebQuests, had links that no longer existed. This was really frustrating because I have some students that could benefit, but they too would become frustrated if the links did not work. I was inspired by what I found online. So, I hope others can benefit from this webquest! Enjoy! You can begin the quest below, online-or you can print the student page so that the student can write on it, to document their journey. Be sure to read the teacher form to find out the many uses of this WebQuest. Have fun!

Pumpkin WebQuest-teacher form

Pumpkins WebQuest-student form

Pumpkins WebQuest


You are going on a WEBQUEST! Your job is to be a detective and find out many facts
about pumpkins. After the WEBQUEST you should know the following:

· Different types of pumpkins-similarities and differences

· The life cycle of a pumpkin

· When pumpkins should be planted, how long they take to grow and when they are harvested

· Many uses of a pumpkin

· The weight and size of pumpkins

Tasks- Your Job

Task 1- Mouse practice!

The first thing a Webquest detective needs to know is how to find the hidden pumpkin pictures. Click the mouse on the
underlined words. Good Job, you found the first set of pumpkins!!! What did they look like?

Task 2 – Pumpkin Types

Pumpkins come in many shapes and sizes. Click on the following links to see! Styrian and little green seed


Pumpkins with the name Baby Boo Canyou guess why one of these pumpkins is called Tallman? And Still MorePumpkin Pictures

Grey Pumpkins

Draw a picture of your favorite pumpkin. Try to list its type and use the correct colors too!

Task 3- Life Cycle

Learn about the life cycle of a pumpkin. (You can ask for this to be printed and then you can cut and glue the pictures in order) Now, draw the life cycle in order. Start with the seed.

1. _________ 2._________ 3._________ 4._________ 5.________

Task 4- Pumpkin Patch

Did you know that pumpkins grow in patches?
Click on this link to see how it starts.

Can you draw your own pumpkin patch? Try it and count how many pumpkins are in your patch.


I am so proud of you! You have completed your detective work! Now you can choose
a product to make, so you can teach us about what you learned! Here are your
choices. Circle the thing you have chosen.

Option 1- Create a non-fiction book with each page containing new

Option 2- Create a pumpkin poster that contains facts and
illustrations or even the life cycle of a pumpkin

Option 3- Create a Power Point about pumpkins

Option 4- Create a short informational video, using a web-cam, iPod
video recording, etc… which tells the details learned during the WebQuest

I am so excited about what you will make!


Your Teacher

Now, celebrate by playing a game: -or- find out more about pumpkins at:

Listen to this wonderful story on YouTube, based on the book “Spookly the Square Pumpkin”






Sid the Science Kid encourages Critical Thinking and Collaboration

Have you seen Sid the Science kid, yet? The first time I saw my six year old watch this show on PBS, I saw how involved she became. The characters are interactive and when I watch the show, I learn something new about Science. It is amazing to see these students in the classroom and home setting. In the classroom, the teacher shows the children the steps of the scientific method: “Observe! Compare! Contrast! Describe!” Scientific journals are also used in Sid’s classroom. I get some great teaching ideas from Sid. I am grateful that PBS has created such a wonderful learning experience for our youngest scientists!

The best part of this show is that you can show students each episode, from your computer-at school! I project it onto the screen in my classroom and then my students take part in many of the activities afterwards. For teacher resources, you can visit this link: Also, I discovered a blog, where a mom and her boys, test out experiments from various episodes. How amazing! Here is that link:

These are some of the topics that Sid teaches:

  • Exploring habitats
  • Little creatures in a forest
  • Sid and his mom talk about air pollution
  • Force, inertia and elasticity
  • Friction, light, and shadows
  • Ways to make less trash
  • Internet Safety
  • Recycling

There are even games that go along with each topic. I just played the weather game. I had fun spinning the weather wheel and then dressing up the character with appropriate clothing! You can even sing 1-2 minute video song clips about his Science topics. What I like the most is that this program and interactive website meets children where they are at. It encourages critical thinking by asking higher level questions, like why? and how? Sid models collaboration as he engages in problem solving discussions. The children are engaged as they learn from Sid! Most of the games on this site can be played on the interactive whiteboard as well.

Sid has an “Investigations” clip video where a real class makes applesauce. Our class viewed the short clip from and watched how the students figured out the best way to use heat to make applesauce. We then decided that we needed ingredients and a recipe. So, for shared writing, I wrote what they children shared!

Then, I had each student then cut up about ten apples. They did it with plastic knives and has so much fun! They then added them to the crock pot along with sugar, water and cinnamon. We cooked it from 10am to 2:30pm on high heat. At 2:00, I let them each stir and mash the cooking apples. Then when the applesauce was ready, I scooped it into a cup, gave them each a fork-and they enjoyed. Every single student enjoyed eating it! I can’t wait to do it again next year!


This is what the apples looked like at 2:00.


Yum! This is how we enjoyed eating our applesauce!


Here is our shared writing poster.

Brain Pop Jr. is a great online tool for teaching!

                             images from google

If you have never used brain pop jr. or brain pop…you have to try it! Educators and parents can use brainpop jr. It is appropriate for younger students (I would say up to first grade). However, brainpop ,is for older kids. There is a cute little robot named Moby that guides the lessons and his friend does all the talking and explaining. It has such great content and depth, but is at the children’s level. One of my favorite lessons is about story characters. Moby gets dressed up with a Goldilocks wig and re-enacts the story. Hearing my students laugh and learn, at the same time, is such a wonderful thing to see! Some of my other favorite topics on brainpopjr. are: recycling, animal habitats, space, rocks & minerals, holidays, bike safety, family and so much more! Their website is:

Here is a link at the educator’s section that shows how a teacher uses brain pop in her classroom and in the computer lab:

So, there is a catch. Daily video’s are free. To view everything, you must subscribe. I never had to pay a dime because our PTO paid for it. You may even could write a grant to cover the costs. It is worth every penny, though. If my school ever stopped paying, I would do it myself. I cannot imagine teaching Science or Social Studies without brainpop jr.!

Poptropica is like facebook for children!


Poptropica (Photo credit: grace mcdunnough)

“Poptropica® is a virtual world in which kids explore and play in complete safety. Every month, millions of kids from around the world are entertained and informed by Poptropica’s engaging quests, stories, and games. Kids create a “Poptropican” character to travel the many Islands of Poptropica and use gaming literacy to enjoy a narrative that is often rooted in factual history. Problem-solving skills are honed as kids discover and solve mysteries unique to each Island. There are always new areas to explore in this ever-expanding world where kids can collect objects, read digital books and comics, watch movies, and compete in head-to-head competition. Parents can always trust that their children are playing-and learning-in a safe, online environment.” (direct quote from their website)

I must admit, I felt a little guilty for letting some of my students use Poptropica during free stations (or a no recess day, due to rain) in my classroom. I knew there must be something amazing to it though, and I am so happy to have found out that Poptropica is truly educational fun! I plan to use it as an incentive now in my classroom!

Students can blog too-read all about it!

Ok-I am sold! I will begin blogging with my students. Thanks to my “Kindergarten Teachers United” Linkedin group member, Sharon D., for sharing this idea with me. Kid blog looks so easy to set up and I am about to do it. I am excited to share me and my students journey with blogging in the classroom! Stay tuned for updates!  “” creator, Matt Hardy, was featured in the front page story for the Sunday Pioneer Press. Here is one quote from Matt, who is also a 3rd grade teacher in Minnesota:

“With blogs, it’s more about the ideas,” he said. “It’s not so much about the original post as it is about the discussion that follows, that trail of comments that comes afterward.””

What activity or lesson will your students remember?

International Recycle Symbol

Image via Wikipedia

Last year, my students loves our group recycling project. Parents sent in plastic containers and boxes, the week before and students were asked to create “anything.” While learning about conservation, they children had free reign to create inventions and toys. It was amazing to hear them confidently explain what they made and what its use was. One student made a machine out of a milk jug. It was the magic machine, complete with a red button to make it start! Now, I plan to make a “Creation Station” complete with recyclable containers, donated by parents. I am so excited to begin this station for the first time! At home, my daughter made a fashiony outfit out of the trash from the new crock-pot box. Children are so creative! We just have to give them the stuff to create with.