Monday, December 8, 2008

Scholastic's Computer Lab Favorites

Scholastic's Computer Lab Favorites provides an engaging way for teachers to introduce new concepts or reinforce skills. Select either K-2 or 3-5 grade level groups and then either look at all the subject areas or select a specific content area to see what's available. There are many fun, learning activities for many different subject areas.

In addition to the activities for the students, Scholastic provides lesson plans and a list of resources to help teachers. It's well worth taking time to check out this site. Then when you have more time, check out all the other resources that Scholastic provides for teachers.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Storyline Online

Created by the Screen Actors Guild Foundation, Storyline Online presents 19 children's books read by professional actors such as Melissa Gilbert, Sean Astin and Elijah Wood. As the books are being read, pictures from the book are interspersed with video of the actor reading the story. Each book also includes related activities that can be used by parents or teachers.

I've used Storyline Online with my 4th graders to model how they should read with expression as they create their podcasts. The books are fun and, as would be expected, the actors are wonderful.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Highlights for Kids

I remember that as I was growing up I would be excited to read Highlights whenever I would go to the dentist or doctor. I never had a subscription to the magazine, but I always enjoyed looking at the Hidden Pictures, reading The Timbertoes and the Goofus and Gallant Moments. Now children can go to the web site and enjoy some of the same things.

Listen to a story, try one of the easy science activities or create a gingerbread house. Play some of the games online or print them to try later. There are so many activities that it will take some time to explore all the possibilities. Best of all, it's still the same Highlights that I remember enjoying when I was younger.

Keyboarding Sites

Being able to find the letters on a keyboard is an important skill for students. The following free web sites give students the ability to learn about keyboarding and practice their skills at home.

The first site is Dance Mat Typing, an introduction to touch typing for students from 7 - 11 years old. This site is one of the many BBC Schools learning activities and is a fun, colorful, instructive means for students to learn about typing. Students are shown how their fingers should sit on the keyboard and which finger types each of the letters. Having used the site with many of my students I know from experience that the activities keeps them engaged.

The next site is e-Learning for Kids. Again, in addition to this keyboarding course, there are also math, language arts, and health and life skills courses. It's well worth investigating all the resources. Once again, the activity is fun, colorful and students learn the correct way to keyboard.

Regardless of the site used to develop keyboarding skills, parents should take the time and sit with their child to make sure that the correct fingers are used for each letter. Sometimes the students get so caught up in trying to get through the activity they forget the purpose and just use any finger to get the job done! To make the activities even more challenging, try covering their hands on the keyboard with a cardboard box big enough to sit over the keyboard and their hands or cover with a light cloth. This forces the children to develop finger muscle memory since they can't peek at the letters.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thinkfinity presents a treasure trove of free, online resources for teachers and students. As part of the Verizon Foundation's literacy, education and technology inititiative, Thinkfinity's goal is to improve student achievment not only in the classroom, but also beyond by providing quality content.

There are several ways to interact with the site. Teachers and students can browse through the featured content or search for specific topics using keywords, subjects, resource type and grade level that are provided by Thinkfinity's national content partners. These partners include the International Reading Association, National Geographic Society, as well as many others.

Plan on spending some time browsing through all the different activities and resources, it's well worth it!


GameGoo provides fun, educational games that help Kindergarten through second grade students develop early reading and language skills. As children play the online games they are actually practicing the skills that will help them become better readers. Standards based, and with supportive audio, this site is a great, fun way to help students as they learn to read.

Developed by Earobics, a well known provider of language and learning software, GameGoo is a free online site. Teachers can safely use GameGoo games in the classroom as learning centers to reinforce instruction. Note: since audio is an important component of this program, headphones would be helpful.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tux Paint

Working in an elementary school I've learned to appreciate applications that I can suggest for my students to use at home. These programs need to be safe, easy to use and have the ability to be integrated with the curriculum in multiple ways.

One of the programs that I'm using this year is Tux Paint. Tux Paint is a free drawing program that can be used by children preschool through sixth grade. Besides the fact that the program is free, I also like the fact that it is available for Mac, Linux and Windows and by following the easy to use directions I'm able to add custom stamps to help students with their projects.

We're presently using the program for students to create illustrations to go along with their fairy tail retells. It's easy for students to use, has been extremely stable and includes a number of features that high end children's drawing programs include.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Welcome to Technology in the Clouds. A blog created to communicate with parents who have children in the K-4 schools in Mount Laurel, NJ. This blog will carry information about ways in which technology can help their children learn through the use of technology.

I chose the name Technology in the Clouds for a couple of reasons. First of all, because we should be reaching as high as we can when using technology and secondly, due to all the Web 2.0 applications that are now available. One of the terms that I hear bandied about is Cloud Computing. I thought I knew what Cloud Computing meant, but just to be sure, I googled it. The best definition came from O'Reilly Radar and says:
"Any web application is a cloud application in the sense that it resides in the cloud. Google, Amazon, Facebook, twitter, flickr, and virtually every other Web 2.0 application is a cloud application in this sense. However, it seems to me that people use the term "cloud" more specifically in describing web applications that were formerly delivered locally on a PC, like spreadsheets, word processing, databases, and even email. Thus even though they may reside on the same server farm, people tend to think of gmail or Google docs and spreadsheets as "cloud applications" in a way that they don't think of Google search or Google maps."

So let's reach for the clouds and find ways in which we can help our students learn, create, collaborate and share with with others.