Category Archives: Projects

Common Sense Media – Certified Educator

Certified Educator BadgeEver since I started teaching “computer” 5 years ago, back before I was a “Technology Integrationist” (labels — don’t you just love them?) I used a web based resource called Cybersmart Curriculum. I knew that it was important for students to know how to act and react to what they were doing and saw on the web. The Cybersmart Curriculum became part of Common Sense Media and as a mom I’m always hitting up that website to check on things like if the new Captain America movie has too many profanities or should my 5 year-old-play Grand Theft Auto (actually a no brainer, but you get my point)

Recently I applied to become a Certified Educator of Digital Citizenship  through Common Sense Media and their curriculum and this morning got my certification!

It’s a great tool for any age level and I’m a big fan of their curriculum. It’s split up according to grade level and different themes from internet safety to creative rights and copyright.

Poster made my 2nd graders about online safety

2nd Grade’s Online Circle


This year my 2nd graders learned and discussed which people in their lives are safe to talk to online. We made a great poster of their “online circle” as a reminder of friends, family and community members were on their green list of connections online.  Not only did they have a blast creating the poster but they gained digital citizenship knowledge for the future, since let’s face it they aren’t hitting each other up on Instagram and Tumblr just right now.

I think that’s the important point of teaching even Kindergarten and PreK about digital citizenship. The Internet is just part of our lives now. It’s as important to know who to connect with as learning “Don’t talk to strangers” or “Look both ways before your cross the street” Common Sense Media has put together wonderful tools to help educators and parents teach students how to “Look both ways.”


TreeRing – The website I’ll be hitting up all Easter break.

A few years ago I was charged with coordinating with students to create our school’s yearbook. At the time we were using a service where we would have to create ad revenue in order to even get the thing printed and the yearbooks were in my opinion too expensive. So I did some research and came across what I think is an awesome service called TreeRing (

Not only did it bring the cost of the yearbook down, we no longer had to deal with ad space and each student gets a personalized 2 page spread.   The price was so great we were able to tag on a couple of fundraising dollars to the price.

The social aspect of the TreeRing was what really caught my attention. The integration of Facebook and other social networking platforms to add pictures and being able to tag friends and comment on photos throughout the year on the TreeRing website itself makes building the yearbook a social event which culminates in the finished printed product at the end of the year.

Why will I be spending so much time on TreeRing over Easter break? Because the horrific winter and all the snow days we incurred, my yearbook team didn’t get to meet as often as I would have liked and I have to put the “finishing touches” (read “finish the book”) before the end of the month. Even if I don’t get everything done I can extend the print date and the staff at TreeRing has always been amazing.

So if you are looking for a new social expreince for your school’s yearbook check them out.

A Simple Recipe To Create A Better Yearbook

Science Expo 2014

When the science teacher, Patty, approached the art teacher and me this year about working together to create a science expo as opposed to our usual science fair, I was stoked. Usual the science “fair” consists of experiments and inventions and it’s gotten pretty stale.

Patty had this fabulous idea to give the students (5th through 7th graders…I’ll get to the 8th graders later.) a choice on how they would best like to express a science concept or topic. They could either use art or technology or do the usually experiment or invention. The art teacher, Grace, got many willing participants and I got 6 groups, mostly 6th graders, who wanted to make a Mr. Parr type video for their projects.

It was a long 3 months.

Between research papers and keeping the kids on track with creating lyrics and then realizing that I never really asked them how they planned on creating the video, only to be surprised that they all were mostly done creating PowerPoint presentations with images and the lyrics….well let’s say it was stressful but well worth every minute.

I helped my students edit everything they had created together using Camtasia. They provided the music (lyrics sung by them) and the PPT and I sat with them and put it all together. I am so proud of them all and the finished products.

For the most part they kept on task and had something to teach the viewer and they were entertaining.

My 8th graders had a separate assignment for the expo. They were charged with completing both art and technology projects based around a notable person in science and/or art.

They all created podcasts “interviewing” their subject. They each wrote a script and then had someone read the scrip with them while recording using an iPad. Our recent implementation of Google Apps for Education really came in handy since there was alot of sharing of music, raw voice recordings and pictures for this project.

My personal favorite creative idea was from a student, Matthew, who’s scientist/artist was Michelangelo and he used his father, who speaks with an Italian accent, as his partner in the interview.

Along with the podcasts the students had to find a picture of their subject and then use photo editing to place themselves in the picture with their subject. We don’t have Photoshop or anything awesome to do this in school, so I showed them how to do it in MS Paint.

The finished work is impressive considering the time and tech restraints we worked with. I’m looking forward to next year’s Expo since we’ve decided to start working on it in September and make it a year long journey.

You can check out some of the winning project videos, the “Mr. Parr” videos and the podcasts here at a site I created to showcase the expo.

lego car

Lego car created for one of the Science Expo projects.