Newsela and Blendspace

Newsela — (Grades 2-5) This site provides current event articles on various reading levels (sports, health, science, arts, kids, etc).  Each day there are new articles that you can assign to your class (or read in small groups).  Each article has about 5 different reading levels (by lexile level)…so students can read about the same topic at their own level.  There are quizzes students can take, and best of all, there is a search bar that allows a teacher to search for articles that relate to certain reading skills (Author’s Purpose/Point of View, Text Structure, Central Idea, etc).  It might be another resource to add to the list of ways to engage your students in Reading.
Blendspace — (All Grades) Love, love this resource!  Blendspace allows you to create collections of web resources on a certain topic (videos, websites, pictures, etc).  This resource would be great to use with your students in the computer lab, as a small station within your classroom, or even as a way to organize materials you will present to your students on your Activboard.  You can add quizzes and monitor student progress too, if you want.  There are even tons of lessons already available that you can use immediately with your students. We are going to be encouraging you to move away from Portaportal (due to all the ads), and this is an excellent resource to take its place. :)

Admin Retreat Presentations

stem crazy with julie

I had the opportunity to present and co-present at the Admin Retreat this year on two topics: Augmented Reality and Engineering and Design Thinking.

Admin Retreat
Here are the presentations below:


And the handouts that go with them:

Augmented Reality

Engineering and Design Thinking

Read, Give, and Share Books Online!


wegivebooksI just found an amazing free resource and I wanted to pass it on to all of you. We Give Books is a free online library of children’s books that enables your kids to help other children around the world while they’re reading. The best part is, your reading will directly impact the great work of non-profit organizations around the world! Their tagline says it all, “combining the joy of reading with the power of giving.” It’s the perfect tool for parents, teachers, caregivers, and anyone who loves children’s books!

When you go to, you’ll be able to read a special selection of books without a We Give Books account, but you have to sign up to access their full library. It’s definitely worth it, though. It’s just a quick form, and once you’re signed up, you’ll have access to over 150 quality children’s books! There are a lot of familiar classic titles, and even more new ones for us to discover. You can sort the books by age level, genre, author, and seasonal selections in the “Featured” section, so everyone can find something they like.

On the Causes page you can learn more about where your donated books are going. This fall, We Give Books is focusing on early childhood literacy across the United States and supporting great causes like Jumpstart for young children. In the winter, you’ll be able to read to support global literacy and give books to non-profits like Room to Read. They also give you the option to donate to help your book donations reach even more children.

We Give Books is a program of the Pearson Foundation and Penguin Group. Penguin works with its authors to provide an outstanding selection of online books while the Pearson Foundation donates print books to charity partners. We Give Books is a great way to get your children excited about reading and to teach them about the importance of helping others.

Basic CTRL Key Shortcuts

We have these basic shortcuts hanging in our computer lab, and we teach students to use them when needed.  There are many more, but these are basic ones students find fun using.  If you want a list of them in Word Format, here it is: Basic CTRL Key Shortcuts

CTRL+C (Copy)

CTRL+X (Cut)

CTRL+V (Paste)

CTRL+A (Select All)

CTRL+Z (Undo)

CTRL+Y (Redo)

CTRL+O (Open)

CTRL+N (New)

CTRL+H (Hide)

CTRL+F (Find)

CTRL+P (Print)

CTRL+Q (Quit)

CTRL+U (Underline)

CTRL+B (Bold)

CTRL+I (Italic)

CTRL+Shift+> (BIG Text)

CTRL+Shirt+< (Little Text)

Pinterest Folks to Follow!

Pinterest Logo

By now, many of us have heard of  Pinterest.  For me, it took me awhile to “get it,” but now that I have, it’s been a place I go often for teaching tips, recipes, decorating suggestions, and so on.  There are some great resources out there for teachers!  Here are some of the ones I follow for good ideas:

Here are some suggestions for using Pinterest as a teacher:

If there’s anyone I’ve missed that you enjoy, please leave a post and let me know!

iPod Apps for Your Classroom

I’m loving the way AppsFire allows you to share ipod touch/iphone apps in an easy, friendly, visual way. For those of us who are really looking at ways ipods can impact teaching and learning, this is a great way to share apps we’ve found! Here’s some of the ones I’ve found through various resources…from the teachers I worked with over the summer, from this ipod touch article from Your Tech Weblog , and from conferences. They are mainly elementary and middle school apps (with more for elementary). And…most are free (are 99 cents)!

Update: I’m adding this widget (it will continue to be updated) to the Resources/Handouts Page of this blog.

Wall Wisher

Wall Wisher is a website that allows you to create a virtual wall where “sticky notes” can be added on any topic.  Here’s an example of a Snow Day Wall (feel free to add your own ideas)!  It’s very simple to make and add to a wall, and you can moderate everything that appears on it (making it safe to use with your students).


Make Your Own Wall

Step 1: visit the Wallwisher website.


Step 2:  Create a URL for your wall, and choose your preferences.  Make sure to check the box that says “I want to approve every post before it shows up on the wall” if you want to manage posts.


Step 3: Choose a theme for your wall.


Step 4: Choose a picture for the top of your wall, as well as the title and subtitle that will appear at the top.


Step 5: Enter your name and email address (use a real one because this is how you will receive a password to login and manage your posts)


Step 6:  Click done.  Your wall is now ready!

Post on a Wall

Step 1:  Double click anywhere and type your comment.  It can only be 140 characters long, but you can link to pictures or videos on the internet.


Step 2: To manage your posts, log in to the site.


Step 3: Click approve on posts for them to appear.

Other Options


To change your password, Build a New Wall, or View all your walls, click on Me > My Home.

Classroom Use

There’s a ton of ways this can be used in a classroom!

  • Use for KWL charts–have students post stickies about what they know, what they want to know, or what they have learned about a topic.
  • Gather data on a topic (especially great if you want to collaborate with another classroom).
  • Writing sentences (pick a topic, like What I want for Christmas and have students post).
  • Answering questions.  Writing Questions.
  • Birthday, Get Well, or Special Holiday Wall.
  • Facts on a topic.
  • If you have a class blog, you can embed the Wall write on the blog (just like I did above).
  • Post links for students to visit.
  • Link to pictures and videos on a topic
  • Vocabulary–post a word and have students make sentences using that word.
  • Field Trip–have students post what they’ve learned or their favorite parts.
  • Gather strategies for solving a problem.
  • Respond to a novel.
  • Book Reviews.
  • Veteran Honor Wall, Going Green Pledges, Red Ribbon Pledges, etc.

For more ideas, visit Tom Barrett’s Interesting Ways to Use Wallwisher in the classroom.