Sunday, July 14, 2013

Showcasing Awesome Tech-Integration Projects

Project Showcase:

Lakeland's Poetry in the Park

Authentic learning is important to Mrs. Pittinger’s Third Graders. Last spring, students' poetry was hung in trees at Central Park in Lewisville for park visitors to read and enjoy.

The poems were written by the students, using a free-verse “start-stop” format and apps like Instant Poetry. Customized images using apps like DoodleBuddy and Skitch were created by students to illustrate their work. Additionally, QR codes, with an invitation for readers to post comments on the Class’ Blogsite and to listen to audio recordings of the poems were included.

This project enabled students to create and publish free-verse poems for an authentic audience, while strengthening their writing skills. By writing letters to the Central Park Manager, requesting permission to post their work, students also learned how to interact with city government.

The students enjoyed this opportunity to share their public art with the community of Lewisville.

Sample student poem:  Recorded using QR Voice 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Kindergarten's QR-Coded Audio Letters to Santa

So excited to begin a new project with my Kindergarten students that will involve creating QR-coded audio letters to Santa. The project will begin by having the students create a picture of Santa using a drawing tool such as KidPix or Tux Paint. The picture will be saved and then printed.

The next step will be to brainstorm what students might say if they could talk to Santa. Since most of my students are English language learners (ELLs) it is important for us to practice speaking as much as possible. Students will use Vocaroo to record their own audio letter to Santa.

online audio recorder

Not only is Vocaroo simple for little ones to use (one button to click to record) but the sharing options are fabulous! There is a QR code link (see bottom, right corner in the image below) that easily converts the audio recording to a QR code.

Vocaroo has no limit as to the length of the recordings, but I will try to keep my students' messages under 1 minute. The Vocaroo site stores the audio files online for a short time (I have had one that has lasted for a couple of weeks). There are, however, numerous download options available if there is a desire to keep an audio file permanently.

The final step will be to print the QR code and attach it to the student's drawing. We will post these as a hallway bulletin board display and then send the completed project home as a Christmas gift for parents to enjoy.

Here is a sample:


Scan the QR code and listen for yourself!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Digital Passport - Our Favorite Digital Citizenship Site

The best tool that I have found for reinforcing digital citizenship in elementary school is the Digital Passport site sponsored by Common Sense Media. My 3rd-5th grade students LOVE the videos and beg to play the games that focus on digital safety, respect and community.

The introductory activity on the site shows students how to create a strong password using a combination of letters, numbers and symbols. (This skill was exactly what we needed before creating our Google Apps passwords this year).

There are also five different modules that actively engage the students and cover timely topics such as:
  • Communication - "Twalkers" teaches students why it is not wise to multitask when using a cell phone.
  • Privacy - "Share jumpers" explains when it is appropriate and not appropriate to share info. online.
  • Cyberbullying - "Evolve" encourages students to become upstanders who take action to stop cyberbullying.
  • Search - "Search shark" provides practice to help students become adept at keyword searching.
  • Creative Credit - "Mix-n-mash" focuses on copyright issues and teaches students to value someone else's creative work.
Each module takes my students between 15-20 minutes to complete so students can finish a module during their regularly scheduled time in my Technology Applications class. (Note: After 15 minutes a screen will pop-up asking students to press the Reset button if they are going to continue working).

I LOVE the site, as a teacher, because it is free and the teacher management tools are fabulous!  Following is a "sneak peak" of what my teacher account looks like:

The online educator materials explained how to easily create .csv documents to import my student data and set up accounts for my 450+ students. There are online reports that allow me to see exactly how my students are performing, and I have teacher options available that allow me to control when students are permitted to access the modules.

We have successfully completed two of the modules and have had no issues with site availability or performance. That, in itself, is a rarity among free Internet-based tools.

Kudos to Common Sense Media for creating a quality product and then providing it at no cost to educators/students!!!

Click here to visit the site and complete the educator registration - DIGITAL PASSPORT:EDUCATOR REGISTRATION

Friday, August 10, 2012

Computer Lab Posters and "Techno Lovin' Birds" Theme

The school year is nearly upon us! It is time to create an inviting learning environment in the computer lab. I have decided to go with a variation of the popular angry birds theme which I am calling "Techno Lovin' Birds." Our campus mascot is the roadrunner so this theme will be perfect for my grade K-5 students. Since my school mandates that 75% of the room be comprised of authentic student work, I have to give careful consideration to the content of the remaining 25%.

My first task was to search and locate the font that is used for angry birds. I discovered that it is called Feast of the Flesh and can be downloaded for free (always a great thing for teachers!).

Since angry birds are so simple to create, I used the shape tool and made a roadrunner variation. Here is the poster that will be placed over my classroom sofa to create a collaborative work space. (I will be happy to share any of my editable documents if you would like them. Just shoot me an email using my address below).

I also need to post the 3-2-1 grading scale used and our classroom rules or, as I have called them, technology reminders.

Other excellent sources that I have found for lab posters:

Always on the look-out for other good stuff. Please share!
Contact me via email at:

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Using Pixlr to Create Transparent Image Backgrounds

Getting Started with my Classroom Website
Online Image Editing 

Happy Fourth of July! I started working on my new classroom website using the district's approved Moodle-based tool, but I quickly discovered that I was going to need to do some simple image editing (create transparent image backgrounds). I decided to explore some of the advanced editing options available on the Pixlr website. I have used the Pixlr Express portion of the site previously but never took the time to look at the more robust version of this tool. After some trial and error, I discovered a way to make my image backgrounds transparent.  I have to say that I am pretty impressed with the options available for online image editing in Pixlr. I will be using this site more in the future and hope to incorporate it into some photo editing lessons next year. In the meantime, I hope these steps for creating transparent image backgrounds may save someone else a little time:

1. Go to Pixlr and choose to Open image from computer
2. Go to Layer>New Layer
3. Double-click to unlock the image layer. Drag to move up in the layers toolbox. It will now be placed above the new layer.

4. Use the magic wand tool to select the background area in the image layer.
5. Go to Edit and Cut. The background area will now be checkered gray and white which means it is transparent. Repeat this step until all the desired background areas are removed.

6. Go to File>Save and select .png in the format pop-down menu to save your new image with transparent background.

So easy! (once I figured out the steps).

Thursday, June 28, 2012

And so it begins...

I have been truly blessed to explore a variety of teaching assignments/opportunities in my 28 years as an elementary educator. Classroom teacher, Literacy and Science Support Teacher, Library Media Specialist, Instructional many rewarding learning experiences! Next year, I find myself pursuing a new opportunity serving as the Technology Applications teacher for grades K-5 in a large school district located north of Dallas, TX. Join me as I develop my curriculum, incorporate technology tools and begin "TECHing" it one day at a time.