Archive for March, 2008

Math Acces Quick Start Guide

Acces IconThe EduAide software – “Acces” has been upgraded to a much friendlier format.  You no longer have to have the manual and enter codes, you can browse the questions through the program itself.  This updated program was recently added on all the math teacher computers on campus.   Look for this icon on your desktop to access the program.

Instead of trying to schedule a time with everyone to show how it works, I created  a short video tutorial to help get you started.   

Math Acces Video Tutorial

 For more information and tutorials please see:

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Graphic Organizers

Graphic Organizers are a long time tool of teachers.  They are a great tool to be used in any subject area, fit a variety of learning styles and are well researched as to their effectiveness.  Robert Marzano talks about the effectiveness of using Advance Organizers in his book, Classroom Instruction that Works and A Handbook for Classroom Instruction that Works.   

When the information you are presenting is unfamiliar to students, and when the relationships among pieces of information are complex, you might want to present students with graphic organizers that have much, if not all, of the information already filled in.  Using this tool, students can develop a familiarity with both the information and the relationships among the pieces of information before the initial process begins.  (pg 285)

If you feel students will be able to understand new information on their own, you can provide them with blank organizers.  A blank organizer provides conceptual “hooks” on which students can hang ideas that might seem disconnected without the organizer. (pg 286)

I also like to use them as a note-taking sheet while researching online.  It is so much harder to plaguerize when students have to take short concise notes about what they are reading.

How to make Graphic Organizers? 

Inspiration is a great tool to create graphic organizers.  It has premade templates and can easily be modified to fit the situation needed.  Teachers could even create(or modify) a template and post it in a shared location for students to begin using as a starting point. Inspiration is a great brainstorming tool as a class or as an individual and can be switched from graphic format to an outline form with the click of a button.  I have included a quick start guide for Inspiration 8:   Getting Started Guide to Inspiration 8

 Publisher is another tool to use, but it has to be manipulated more than using Inspiration. Publisher 2002 User Guide

Why do or don’t you use graphic organizers in the classroom? 

On a side note: Listen to an interview conducted by ASCD with Robert Marzano about his new book The Art and Science of Teaching:  


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Excel – Fill Tool

Excel has many useful shortcuts to help the user enter data quickly.  one of the fastest to learn is the “fill” tool.  Basically it helps you fill in sequential data without having to type in every cell.

If you are trying to number each cell you do not have to type in each number as you go down.

  1. Type the first 3 numbers in the series you are wanting to use, example 1,2, 3.
  2. Click and highlight the three cells.
  3. In the lower right corner a handle will appear.  Click and drag on the handle to fill in all the cells needed.

To fill in a row of cells with the same data:

  1. Type in the information you want in your cells.
  2. Copy that info into the next cell.
  3. Click and highlight the cells with the information.
  4. Click on the handle and drag down to cover the cells that you want the cells to fill.

For those who are visual learners, here is a quick video tutorial on this skill:

For more tips and tutorials on Excel, see:

Excel Tutorials from Microsoft:

Excel 2003 Tutorials on YouTube:

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Blogging Part 3 – Students Who Blog

In my recent blog readings, I have come across the prevailing thought that the importance of blogging is not just to make your voice heard, but it is the ongoing conversation that happens after a blog/piece of writing has put out there and others comment back to extend the conversation.  It is not just the writing workshop process happening in the classroom, but it is taking it to the world.   When you have to clarify and defend what you say, you improve your ability to write with a clear focus on your audience and purpose in expressing yourself. 

Students who blog have a great opportunity to see their writing read by others and even get feedback on their thoughts and insights from “real-world” people and not just their teacher.   How powerful is it to know that anyone in the world can read what you wrote and make comments.  Remember – Comments can be moderated so that the not so helpful ones are not made public.  

What are some examples of student created blogs?  Here is a list taken from Will Richardson’s Book  Blogs, Wikis, and Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for the Classroom.

  • learn how to blog – nothing better than a hands on experience for learning
  • class writing assignments/ ongoing portfolio of writings – blogs would keep all the writing organized and students can look back over time and see how their writing has changed over the year.  This could also be a showcase of their best work.
  • express opinions or insights about class topics – Blogging is not just for LA classes, students can give insight on:
    • history topics
    • pieces of music
    • what makes learning a new language hard
    • how science and math can be found in everyday life
    • write editorial pieces about current events
    • discuss class activities

Any other ideas? 

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Blogging Part 2 – Teachers Who Blog

Once you have read a few blogs you may decide you want to start one of your own.   This technology tip is for teachers who want to begin a blogs.

Check out these blogs from math teacher Karen McLinden.  Students are asked to respond to a post during a specified amount of time.  Some are math topics and some are topics about recent events in the lives of the students.

  • What are other kinds of blogs that teacher’s have started?  Here is a list taken from Will Richardson’s Blogs, Wikis, and Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for the Classroom.

    • Reflective Journal that focuses on:
      • Your teaching experiences – The good, the bad, the ugly.
      • Your own learning – Professional development – What do you do with those ideas?  Did they work?  What would you do again?  What would you never do again?  Have you seen a good teacher in action?  Advice that you need to remember.
      • Share your experiences – Give how-to’s for another teacher, Describe lessons that you taught and how they went, share technology integration that you have attempted.
    • Class Blogs:
      • Literature Circles or online book clubs
      • Class related info – i.e. calendars, events, homework, supplies, wish-lists
      • Post questions on class topics for students to respond to – can focus on literature or skills
      • Post writing prompts and have students expand on them as part of their comments to you
      • Showcase student work  or provide example of good classroom work
      • Gather internet resources for class assignments
      • Link your class to another class in the world for a joint project or just an ongoing conversation

    Any other ideas?  Please add your ideas in the comments section.