September 19, 2011

How To Ensure Your Privacy In Facebook

Some of us love our Facebook, some of us hate it, but most of us are on it.

So what do you do when one of your students sends you a Friend request? It can feel like it oversteps your professional boundary, but they're so don't want to reject them! Here's how to set up your privacy settings so that you can accept their request and still keep your privacy.

 First Create A Friend List and put your kiddos on it (their parents too if you feel like it)
(If you can't see these screenshots, just click on them...)

Go ahead and add people to the list.
  Now Change Your Security Settings To Exclude That List.

 Now whenever you post a status, this list will not see it, unless you change this setting.

You can lock down everything and make it seem like you're just never on FB, or you can leave up some pictures, etc. And the cool thing is, you can always change this on the fly...if you post a status or photo you want everyone to see, you can change it right from there. Just look for that little Custom gear!
*Do pay attention though...when you change this setting in a status update, that change becomes your new default so be SURE you change it back!

Voila. You're back to having a Professional AND a Personal life! :)

September 07, 2011

The "Worst Parent EVER!"

Ever had one of those? a Worst Parent Ever! moment?

Last night was my official inauguration into the Worst Parent Ever club. It was the night before the first day of school…correction: the night before the first day of Middle School for my brilliant, geeky, funny but sensitive and sometimes pessimistic youngest guy. He’s awesome, and his new school is going to be awesome and everything was awesome… until bedtime. The Man and I always do one last email check before bed (geeks through-and-through), so we both discovered the email at the exact same time.

And gasped at the exact same time.

It was a friendly little note from the director of Jordan’s new school:
What a great first day at school! The kids did an amazing job and it was wonderful to see our new and improved campus filled up with happy faces. Clearly we are going to have a great year.”

Yeah. Alternate reality, right? Whose life did I accidentally slip into just now? The first day of school is tomorrow. It’s tomorrow!


We missed the first day of middle school. Epic. Beautiful. Glorious. Swan-Dive-Into an empty pool-Failure!

To my credit, they did start a day earlier than the public schools this year and the rest of us are all public schoolers. But on the “ridiculous fail” side, I honestly clicked that stupid “First Day Of School” link no less than 25 times this week and apparently never actually read the message there even once. So Brilliant.

We laugh in this family. It's a dang good thing.
We decided he can use this excuse for just about everything now. Doesn’t all of life hinge on that first day of middle school?
How many job interviews could he be late for and say, “Yeah, well…my parents made me miss the first day of middle school and I’ve been catching up ever since.” Who wouldn’t have pity on that kid, right?
Card games lost: “I missed the first day of middle school.”
Girlfriends dumped: “Yeah, I missed the first day of middle school.”
Fails the math final: “It must have been what I missed that first day of middle school.”

So as it turns out, we’ve given him a great gift after all, you see.
He now has,
The freedom to fail.
(...oh, and also we bought him the large size at Cuppa Yo after school today).

That's also why I decided to go ahead and write a post about my most fantastic parenting failure to date. Giving ourselves the freedom to fail is the starting place for so many great stories, so many courageous successes! And now I bequeath that to you.

You, my dear friends, now have the freedom to make a creative and far-reaching plethora of legitimate mistakes and all the while, you'll be able to say:  "Yeah, but I had this friend once who totally spaced her kid's first day of middle school."

See that? I can be generous that way (...which probably mostly has to do with the fact that I had the large size at Cuppa Yo today too).

Go ahead. Fail. Laugh. Try again. Laugh some more.
That'll be the policy in our family. At least for as long as there is a Cuppa Yo.

And Jordan?
Jordan's been busy all afternoon coming up with reason after reason why he's the luckiest kid on the block...having not had to go to the first day of middle school.

Geez, I love him!

September 06, 2011

First Class Email Magic

My job is fun...mostly because people insist on being fun.
Really! Here's an example.
I often get asked questions about First Class email. I'm not the authority on it, but we can usually solve whatever the issue is and then after we've finished, it never fails that the person then asks me this:
"Hey, do you know how people get that cute little icon in front of their name when they send emails?"

I love how many people insist that if there is a way to make email more fun...they want it. So this is for you my fun friends. Have a penguin or a popsicle if you must. Mine's a sailboat, and maybe in January I'll find a palm tree!

But first we'll do the important one. Here's a short video on how to create your email group lists (for classroom parent lists and such) and also how to share them with your team so that they don't have to type those email addresses in too!

How to Create and Share an Email List in First Class

   ...and How to Add that List to your Contacts once you get it.

How to set your Cute little Outgoing Mail icon in First Class

How to make an automatic signature on your outgoing mail in First Class

September 02, 2011

How To Introduce Your Brand New Smartboard

Here she is, implementing New Technology with sagacity and charm
Our entire school got new SMARTboards this year. Every classroom, every teacher, whether they wanted one or not. We didn't exactly do this on purpose. I'm a big believer in letting the teacher decide how and what will be their best use of technology, but our parents got really excited about this one. And when parents get this excited about spending money on their just nod your head and say, "Rock on Bro!"

So there it is...all shiny and white and new...
 And the kids are gonna be Soooo excited!

Now if you could just figure out what to do with it.
Here are a couple of ideas that may give you a jumpstart.
There are a bunch of great "Back To School" Notebooks on the Smart Exchange website. Here are a couple I recommend:

Simple Attendance Taker for K-2

For the younger kiddos (about K-2)
This is one page of pure learning simplicity. You just change the names on the apples to your kid's names. The kids touch their apple and it disappears (with a cute little chewing sound). This way they all get to touch the board the first day (that matters if you're them! :))

Back To School Activities for K-2
Back To School Activities for 3-5
I like these next two, because they're longer and give a great overview of a bunch of SMARTboard functions.


Also, the teacher notes (little pull downs on the top left) for each page are really well done.

Just click the links, download them and start playing around. You don't have to be plugged into the board in order to get yourself oriented to the software and you can't hurt anything. No matter what you do on this first week back, if you let them touch the SMARTboard, you'll for sure be the uncontested, most awesome teacher ever.

I'm just sayin...

DOWNLOAD  Software Now
Also, If you haven't downloaded the SMART Notebook software, here is the post about how to do that. (Highland: I'll email the code out as soon as I get access to my email account, but you can download and get started without the code and add it in later)

September 01, 2011

Why I Keep Playing With Kindergartners

Photo Credit: Jessica Miller
On the first day of my first year as a Kindergarten EA, I was sent outside with the class while the teacher finished prepping for the rest of that long day. I was wearing my long white flowy skirt (I know...white and Kinders...*shrug *) and holding hands with two little girls.

"Hey you guys! Let's play Duck, Duck, Goose," I said, and the kids cheered.
Then a tiny hand tugged at mine and when I looked down, two blue eyes were gazing up at me. "We should play Duck, Duck, Swan, and you could be the swan," she said, very seriously.

I haven't needed to question my decision to go into education since that day.

It's been a long year. No, it's been a really long 6 years. I guess I'm a grown-up now, because broken friendships and mean people have finally left their mark and I'm more cynical and jaded than I ever really wanted to be. I was agonizing about this to my dear Best the other day.

"I'm a freak," I said, "why have so many people treated me this way? How do people just walk away from people they seemed to care about and never look back?" My Best is wise (which is why I married him of course).

"You're not the only one. Everyone has the kind of broken friendships that hurt and will never make sense to them. That's just human. You're not a freak. You're just acquainted with the real world now."

Both things are true. I am more cynical than I ever wanted to be, because a lot of people are meaner and more selfish than they really need to be. Bleh.  And, it's true that I'm not the only one who has been on the crummy end of selfish decisions. People everywhere know what this feels like. But I don't want to live jaded. I'm determined to live into beautiful, into kindness, into selflessness. And that's why I keep hanging out with Kindergartners.

They tell me I'm pretty. They ask me if I could teach them how to do something. They want me to swing with them. They listen if I have a story to tell. They want me to like what they like and not just because it would give them a higher number on their Facebook friends list.

Kinders are the real deal, my friends. These are the people I aspire to be like.
School starts in 5 days. Today I signed up to do the Kindergarten Tours where I show them where the bathroom is and introduce them to the nice office lady who has the band-aids.


May 11, 2011

4 Things To Make Life 4 Million Times Easier!

I. Make yourself a Google Account!
so that you can
  • A. Make an iGoogle Page (This is a lifesaver when you find yourself on someone else's computer because yours got left home or it got in trouble and had to go see Roy)
  • B. Use Google Docs (Why use Google Docs sometimes? Collaboration. Cross Platform. Available anywhere. Fill-able Forms.)
  • C. Take a Look at Google Calendar (I have 12 different calendars all stored in the same place, all color-coded. The Husb and I can access them from anywhere...even our phones. Saved my life SO many times!)
  • D. Consider a Blogger blog to put your class newsletter on. This is a super non-threatening way to delve into the techy-classroom stuff. Get your feet wet with a simple Blog style newsletter instead of an email one. It will be on the web, but you can make it so it's not searchable...only people with the link can get to it, so that's cool. Don't wait until you have time to make the perfect class website. You can literally have a cute blog up in 5 minutes and down in less than that if you change your mind. It's totally worth trying!

II. Magical Mac Tricks You May Not Know.
  • Touch Pad Finger Zoom and Right Click trick
  • Keyboard Short Cuts. CMD-X,C,V,A,Z. Know them, Love them. Do you have others to add to our vast storehouse of treasures?
  • Screen Capture. CMD-Shift-3: Captures the whole screen and saves it to the desktop. CMD-Shift-4: Gives you a little crosshair cursor. Drag it around what you want to capture and it will snap a picture of that and save it to the desktop.
  • Magnifying Glass Search in the Upper Right Corner. Did you know this was there? Use this to open applications and documents. So Awesome!
  • Hot Corners. They can be annoying or really awesome, depending on how you like to work. I set the bottom right corner to show my sort of mimics a PC tool I used to love!

III. Awesome App Tricks You May Not Know!
  • Sticky Notes are SO cool. Type in Stickies in the Search bar up there. The application is self explanatory, but if you want it to open every time you turn your computer on, click and hold the icon in the dock until you see Options pop up. Choose to Open at Login.
  • First Class is your default mail, but it's probably not set up to be the default when you're browsing the web. Irritating! That's ok, here are the instructions about how to set it up so that whenever you click on an email link from a website, FirstClass will open instead of MacMail. Click Here to Download the Instructions. Here is an email link to use so you can see if it's working.
  • Here's another FirstClass trick to make life easier. Save your name on the login screen so you only have to type your password. Here, I'll post a picture of what I'm talking about.
  • Make folders in your FirstClass to help organize your emails. Click on your inbox (or whatever folder you want to put your new folder inside of) Then go to File>New>New Folder. Now you can drag emails into folders.
IV. Web Browser Organization!
I recommend using Firefox as your Web Browser. It just plays nicer. But even in Safari, there are a few good tricks to know.

If you're in Safari:

1. First, Show the Tab Bar. Go to the View Menu and click Show Tab Bar. Phwew. Now you can keep track of where you are when you're surfing.
2. Now Get a Home Button. Go to View and Customize Toolbar. Drag the little house button onto the top toolbar. Phwew. Now we have a home key. Everyone needs a home that's easy to get to.

Now for either Safari or Firefox:

  1. Set iGoogle as your Home Page: Open up your iGoogle Page. On the Menu, go to Firefox(or Safari) >Preferences>General. Under the Homepage Bar click the button that says Use Current Page.
  2. Set your browser to open a new tab instead of a new window: Go To FireFox(or Safari)>Preferences>Tabs>Open Windows in a New Tab
  3. Remove anything from your Bookmark bar that you don't use: In Safari you just drag that baby off there and Poof! In Firefox you can Right Click and choose Delete.
  4. Make yourself some Folders up there: Right Click on an empty space on the bar. Safari gives you one option. Firefox gives you a bunch.
  5. Now Surf and find something you want to Bookmark. In order to save it...just do this: See the cute little picture in front of your address bar at the very top? Drag that into a folder you just made on the Bookmark bar. Link saved. You love this, don't you? You can also go into the bookmarks menus and get more specific with your organizing if you like, but this is the easiest way to deal.

May 10, 2011

YouTube In Your Classroom

YouTube is awesome.
And frightening.
But Awesome.
There are so many good, good educational things right there at our fingertips, but there are all those ads and crazy people are allowed to upload things as often as nice, smart people can be scary to use it in your classroom. I totally get that.
There is a solution.
You can download the clips you want to use right onto your desktop. They come down without the ads and you don't have to be connected to YouTube at all to view it, so this also solves any internet connection issues you might have during the day.
Definitely preview what you're going to show, because the crazy's are out there and they post crazy stuff, but this little ClipNabber trick puts the safe and Awesome back into YouTube for you!

Here's the link. You won't need to download anything if you use this link.

How does it work:

  • 1. Find the video you want to download from YouTube.
  • 2. Copy and paste video URL at
  • 2. Click on “Nab” button.
  • 3. It will bring in the video and give you options of FLV (Low), (Med), or (High) (sometimes you'll only get one option). Choose one.
  • 4. In the Dialog box you can choose save and it will go to your Downloads folder (or wherever your downloads default to)
  • Save it on your desktop or in a folder where you want to keep it and play it by double clicking on it. (It comes in small. Use the bottom right corner to enlarge it.)

Also...Don't forget that you all have a Discovery Streaming Subscription. These ones are safe. PURE education, and also downloadable.
If you don't know your login information and how to use it, let me know. I'll be happy to help!

Happy Watching!

April 08, 2011

Smart Board Tutorials

I did some poking around on the SMART Website, and... shoot! There's a lot of stuff there.
But I did the work for you and pulled out the gems. If you're anxious to learn to use the SMART boards, I think you'll want this.
  • First: Take a look at this 4 minute video. It'll totally inspire you and maybe teach you a couple of things in a really painless way!

  • Next: Here are some online tutorials. They are basic and not entertaining, but they get you the information you need to start feeling comfortable with the Boards and you can do it in front of your fireplace if you want (that's always a big deal for me...Central Oregon know).
(PS. A word to the wise...Don't bother with what is called the SMART Learning Space. Bleh! Unless you're in the mood to poke your eyes out with blunt objects. Go with these little videos instead to get a hold of the basics! They're only 3-6 minutes each, so that's awesome!)

1. Finding What you Need(4:01)
2. The Ink Layer(2:55)
3. The Lesson Activity Toolkit(5:40) (Ahha! This one's totally helpful. This will get you started creating cool whiteboard lessons. And it's only 6 minutes long, so...Yay!
4. Managing Pages (2:55) (You'll want to understand this when you start getting the hang of creating lessons. This is necessary for organizing them.)
5. Properties Tab & Page Recording (3:40)(more advanced stuff here)
6. New Tools in Notebook 10 (5:59)(Skip the first 2 minutes of's a tool we don't have at this point. The rest is good info though.
  • Finally: Here's an awesome tool. Print out this little document and it walks you through the creation of an interactive lesson. A GREAT way to get the gist of the Smart Board tools.

Phwew! That took awhile, but they're good resources. I sure hope it helps some of you.
Happy SMART Boarding my friends!!

FYI-Here is the webpage that I pulled all these off of. It was hard to I'm saving it right HERE!

March 30, 2011

Downloading the Smart Software

I'm on a theme.
My Theme is:
Put the important stuff all in a place where it can stay and is easy to find. Gaze to the right side of this page. Nice little Topic list, huh? Printers, Smart Board, Laptop Cart...(I'll keep adding things as I realize you need them. Also, I'll try to make it fun to go fishies to feed...that matters too! *grin *)

So on that theme, here's the place where you can download the SMART software.
If you got a new computer, you'll probably need to do that.

Here's the link.
SMART Software Download

And I have a code that works, but I don't really want to post it here so just drop me a quick email and I'll send it to you in a flash!

Let me know if you need any help.

February 21, 2011

Sheesh, I love a good Quote!

On the trip over to  Portland I happened across some quotes that ended up being just too rich to ignore as I was heading into 2 days of educational technology saturation.
Here's some of them. They’re pretty awesome.

  • “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home.” Kenneth Olson, President/Founder Digital Equipment Corporation 1977
  • “Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value.” Marshall Ferdinand Foch, French Military Strategist and future WWI Commander, 1917
  • “[Television] won’t be able to hold onto any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.” Darryl F Zannuck, Head of 20th Century Fox, 1946
  • “This telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” Western Union Internal Memo, 1876
  • “Nothing of importance happened today.” Written by King George III of England on July 4, 1776

It got me really thinking about how a person/organization can avoid making short-sighted mistakes with technology. In an environment where change is the only constant and fads and trends go viral with the same alacrity, how do we know when something has real merit? How do we recognize the game changers when we see them? How do we plan? These are especially important questions when we’re talking about educational technology, because the decisions we make about what “gadgets”…ok, “tools” are important today directly impact the futures of our kiddos for better or worse.  I really want to have some excellent foresight and nail this thing at least a little better than Darryl Zannuck did…for the kiddos sake, you know?!

I suppose that’s why when I wound up with Joe Morelock at my table this afternoon, I just had to ask him what was behind the decision he made 3 years ago to just hand a 3rd grade teacher a whole pack of iPods. The tool was brand new and certainly not yet a legitimate educational adoption, at least not the way most of the industry sees it. He asked me, “Do you want the real story or do you want me to make up something good?”

Real story, please.

It goes like this: He was at a birthday party with his young children. All the dads were doing the dad thing (which nowadays means, so he informed me, that they stand around and show each other pictures of their kids on their iPhones). Some 3rd grader came up to him and said, “Hey, can I see that?” So he handed it over. The kid had never played with an iPhone before but started immediately playing games and moving things around as if it were an old friend. Joe said, “at that point I just thought, huh…there’s something there. I didn’t know what it was, but I went ahead and got 30 of them, because I wanted to do it right and gave them to Julie.” (Julie is the awesome teacher who also knew nothing about the tool but took them and implemented them into her instruction in phenomenal ways).  “I figured even if it turned out to be nothing, I could find some place to use 30 of them somewhere in the district, so it was worth trying.”  He looked up at me then, almost apologetically, knowing I wanted a better answer. I didn’t though. His answer was just what I expected, especially after reading those quotes the day before. I kind of think that’s how all great things happen…someone opens their eyes for a moment and notices something. They think to themselves, “huh, there’s a thing here,” and for whatever reason that thinker is allowed to try it. Somehow they find themselves unhindered by protocols and naysayers and they get to just try it. And sometimes it works and changes the entire game.

My take away:
Listen and pay attention to the little people. (Yeah... so, this was already my life policy pre-conference).
Believe my gut instead of the naysayers when it tells me “there’s a thing here.”
Accept that I don’t always have to be able to explain the thing but I do have to let myself (or someone who is amazing) try it.

And, just because I love a good quote, here are a couple beauties I picked up over the weekend!

  •  “Never memorize what you can look up in books.” Albert Einstein
  • “I don’t set trends. I just find out what they are and I exploit them.” Dick Clark, American Bandstand

February 20, 2011

There's a Thing happening.

Marena and I are at the Instructional Technologies Strategies Conference this weekend. I might have snuck into a conference session this morning that I wasn't signed up for...

The thing was, I wanted to hear about Canby. I had to hear about Canby.  So I might have snuck in...

You see, in Canby
"There's this thing happening. We don't know what the Thing is, only that there IS a thing." 

They're using iPod Touches and iPad's in classrooms. I love technology, but I'm definitely not a gadget girl, so the iPad certainly doesn't twitter-pate me. However, what these teachers are doing with this little tool does! Oh my heart! Here's why. If you have a second to look at this achievement data, it's kind of awesome.

I'll summarize. Canby deployed 30 iPods 1:1 to 3rd grade students who then used them to practice reading fluency, math skills, writing. The little gadgets sat on each student's desk day after day. Little readers would record their voices into it as they read an unfamiliar passage and then listen to themselves. As soon as the first listen was done they would have this overwhelming urge to do it again! So they it again, and again, and again. (*We actually did this together this morning, and I will say, the urge keep trying to make it better is unbelievably compelling) Now any reading teacher knows this is the way to build fluency, and that's exactly what happened. The Oaks scores for this third grade classroom, completely outpaced district scores.

The same thing happened in math. A couple of little apps on the iTouch that lives right there on the student's desk means that when there is 5 minutes left before lunch, the teacher can say, "Hey...pull out "Numberline" and play for a couple minutes would you?" Of course the kids jump right to it, because they get to play a game. But this game requires them to take a mixture of fractions, percentages and decimals and put them in the correct place on a number line for speed and time. (Can you do this?...Which is higher, 0.21 or 2/8; 7/16 or 48%?) They play these little games for maybe 5 minutes every day, and a teacher can love it as much as the students, because there is NO transition time wasted. And by the end of the year, these students have actually gotten the equivalent of at least 2 full days practice on decimals, percentages and fractions. And their Oaks scores are reflecting that.

Of course, it's brilliant.
The gadget is a calculator when necessary, a dictionary that will tell them how to pronounce a word, a thesaurus and a spellchecker, a self-correction tool and a motivator.
-They use it for their writing. They'll finish their first rough draft and then read aloud. When they listen back they can hear for themselves what ought to be changed.
-They use it for their reading. When they come to a word they don't know, they look it up instantly. No long stroll across the room to the dictionary shelf, by way of the pencil sharpener, drinking fountain and turtle tank, by which time they return, reading is over. (You know this kiddo!)

intrinsic motivation.
appropriate scaffolding.
active engagement.
student ownership.
differentiation. about multi-functional. Is it all the tool? Of course not. This grand experiment is being done with really good teachers...who love the tool that's helping them accomplish their goals. It's just a tool, but it's an unquestionably good one.

Canby is pretty jazzed about what they're doing. They went from having 50 classrooms with iPod devices last school year (2009-100) to deploying the same to over 100 classrooms this school year (2010-11). Now they're starting to add iPads...260 of them this year.

It's kind of awesome.
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