Monday, December 1, 2008

Great Finds for Microscope Minds

FREE access to a scanning electron microscope!! What former-science-teacher-now-technology-specialist could resist? While looking for more ideas for our Digital Blue microscopes I found a fabulous website called Bugscope. The "project provides free interactive access to a scanning electron microscope (SEM) so that students anywhere in the world can explore the microscopic world of insects. This educational outreach program from the Beckman Institute's Imaging Technology Group at the University of Illinois supports K-16 classrooms worldwide."

Students mail insects to them, teachers schedule a time for viewing your specimens online, and you all get to have an online chat with members of their team. They provide tutorials and more resources for teachers, so go take a look! By the time classes are ready for insect lessons in the spring, we will have plans and schedules in place. We can't wait to compare the pictures from the different microscopes - and hopefully tiny critters from different regions. Plan ahead and collaborate with us at elementarytechteachers .

Don't forget - microscope projects work great on interactive whiteboards too.

Another great find for microscopes - check these awesome activities, resources, time lines and much more at

See more reviews and prices for the microscope.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Winter Wonderland Project

Integrating technology changes with interests, needs and available technology. A great group of educators have come together and designed winter projects for elementary computer labs using Web 2.0 tools. Their ideas are so flexible that computer lab and classroom teachers can take advantage of their site. It is well organized with instructions, descriptions and links to a variety of tools. Web tools provide limitless ways to collaborate, differentiate, integrate, and many other educational best practices that you can throw its way.
Check it out at
Hope to see you there!

A BIG Thank YOU to Amber, Nedra and Vicky from Elementary Tech Teachers for this project!!

Visit Elementary Tech Teachers

View my page on Elementary Tech Teachers

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Trade- a-Trick With Technology Teachers

Elementary Technology Teachers teach various hardware, software, and interactive devices and integrate technologies. We spend time teaching how to use technology so that students can apply these skills in other areas. ISTE's National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) are designed for students, teachers and administrators. With these standards as guides for educators, tech teachers support all of these groups in their efforts to use and integrate technologies in their own lessons, classes and schools.

In our school we have found it beneficial for students in the lab to learn about and interact with the SMARTBoard, Airliner Tablet/wireless mouse, Senteo (student voters) and the document camera. Other devices are used in the lab too – cameras, probes, video camera, and computer microscopes. Students learn how to use interactive devices and apply tech skills in their classroom without the "regular teacher" spending as much time teaching tech skills. With the different tech skill levels of teachers and students, both groups have enjoyed teaching each other.

Fortunately, SmartBoard and Promethean lessons for curriculum topics are springing up everyday. In our quest of encouraging everyone to integrate technologies, we find that we do not have many of the tech How-To... lessons for interactive whiteboards. We technology teachers are joining together to create and share lessons in support of our schools’ technology needs.

I have have invited elementary tech teachers in my district to old fashioned face-to-face-make-and-take sessions to create and share Technology How-To... lessons with the new SMART Notebook version 10 tools and the interactive toolkit. Kind of like a Treat-Trade at holiday time - we will Trade-some-Tricks for our technology classes.

We would like some more input and share ideas with you too. Consider the Elementary Technology Teachers ning and join a conversation. Hope to see you there - or share your comments here!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Try a Puzzle on Your Whiteboard

James Hollis has a great blog where he shares - and encourages us all to share - ideas for whiteboards. Try this idea that was shared on his blog on your whiteboard to generate more interest in your next lesson. See his blog here: Teachers Love SMART Boards

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Whiteboard Challenge

The Seven Wonders of the Whiteboard Challenge - is another great collaborative effort by motivated educators. The use of interactive whiteboards in classrooms has taken off in recent years - and has really exploded in recent months. I just found this wiki and want to help spread the word.

SMARTBoard and Promethean, the two types that I know about, are purchased for schools to make teaching more effective. Many schools have found - as with every educational effort - that it still depends on the teacher using the product. Websites are springing up all over to help new and experienced users make the most of their time learning to use this new technology. The Whiteboard Challenge includes more of the the best resources too. Check it out soon...and spread the word - it's nice to share!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Calling for Collaborative projects for SCRATCH Posts

Technology classes are preparing projects to post on our pages at wikispaces. At least one section will be favorite projects created in Scratch. Since the conference at MIT, a group of us who met there are planning collaborative projects. Our classes are in states from each US coastline and a few in between.

Consider using Scratch in your classes and sharing Scratch news, ideas, and projects too. Contact me - JoNelle Gardner, Technology Specialist at or watch us grow at:


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Scratch@MIT Conference

We just returned from presenting at the Scratch@MIT conference at MIT in Boson. If you are not familiar with Scratch, it is a new programming tool developed at MIT. Students imagine, create, and share games, animations and more. This past year we used the software in my fifth grade elementary technology classes. Also, students formed a club to continue to learn more ways to program using Scratch. I did not realize how important Scratch has become and what a huge impact Scratch has had world wide until this conference.

Participants all over the world ( US, UK, Australia, Russia, Korea, Taiwan, Poland.....) shared ways we incorporate Scratch in schools and groups in elementary through high school levels. Great things happened each hour including new ideas, resources, research partnerships, and collaborative plans for the new school year.

Four students from various countries were featured during Mitchel Resnick’s Opening Keynote (see video). My students will be surprised when I come back with videos and photos of famous Scratchers. More than once these students heard that they were like rock stars of the Scratch community.

The organization of the conference had other choices that were new for me. One way that worked very well was to have three presenters in a room. In one hour, each presenter gave a 10 minute talk. The rest of the hour was a Q&A session with the audience.

My first session choice began with Tracy Ho sharing her case study of student performance using Scratch. I was most interested in her findings of the patterns of events in which students learn, transfer, and apply Scratch. Tracy is a professor in the music department at Taipei Municipal University of Education, Taiwan. Jeanene Bluhm de Carvajal, founder of the Thomas Jefferson Institute, shared how they implement Scratch to help develop student creativity in their schools in Mexico. Krystof Haber, who has spent eleven years teaching Indigenous students with the last eight years at Antarringinya Centre in Australia, shared his unique teaching experiences with the audience. We were incredulous to learn how he uses Scratch to keep students engaged in having fun learning. His Australia Aboriginal students come and go, so Scratch offers the tools of engagement that he needs and that they love.

Friday at 9:30 am, we (JoNelle Gardner and Audrey Cageao) presented with a professor originally from Spain and another presenter from Russia. With three presentations for the hour, the audience got to hear and talk to:
• Teachers who use Scratch in their technology classes. Audrey shared how she introduces, guides, and supports students in their Scratch experiences. I (JoNelle) added how I integrate Scratch with science, math, language arts and technology via student wiki websites
• Creator (Juan Carlos Olabe) of a supportive website that has and extensive lists of Scratch video tutorials
• Head of a laboratory and coordinator of (Yevgeny Patarakin) and learn how young programmers in Russia are using Scratch

Other conference sessions were also incredible. It was great listening to educators of all levels and regions of the world who are ready to lend a hand and work together.

I met educators and high school students from Arizona who are involved with Kimberly Scott’s wonderful program called COMPUGIRLS. These girls use Scratch with themes of social justice – very inspiring. We exchanged contact information to video conference with my computer club this year.

During Karen Bennen’s (from MIT Scratch Team) Scratch-Ed session, she brilliantly led the group in sharing, learning and supporting professional development for an upcoming new website for the community of Scratch educators.

I’ll describe more sessions in the next blog entry. Until then you can see more about the conference at
Conference Program:

A HUGE THANK YOU to the Scratch@MIT TEAM!! Mitch and his team are marvelous. They all are an enthusiastic bunch and show a genuine joy for what they are doing and sharing with us.
And ooooh my… to the fabulous caterers too - you are the best!!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Great Games That Make You THINK

Students LOVE games, and in school we want more learning games.
provides many games that make you THINK. With a wide variety of levels, it is challenging, fun and appropriate for all of our grade levels - YEAH! So far we are playing Inch Worm I and II and Frog Jumpin'. These games involve strategy and trial error in a fun engaging environment. I set up games and competitions in the technology lab. I allow students to either "play and practice" a Zoopz game OR compete with classmates.

Competition Rules (or rules that have evolved so far:))
- No help from others.
- Players must be in this classroom to be in the competition.
- Students may play and practice outside of this class for the next competition.
- I choose one or two games for the day.

Play and Practice:
- Students who choose to "play and practice" may help each other, but not be in the competion for the day.
- You may play any of the games in Zoopz.

Top Scorers in each class get their cut-out name prominently displayed in the hallway. A list is displayed for high scores too - I decide for each class what scores get to sign the TOP SCORES list (eg. all students who beat at least level 10) I created a Word document with table and clip art and edit it for each class.

Please leave your comments here to share your top or other great games for technology labs.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Collaboration Projects with Voice Thread

Collaborative projects outside of our classroom walls has been a goal this year. This week we added more to our growing list. Some classes are collaborating with other elementary technology classes. Other technology classes are collaborating with Lou Anne Cornwell and her high school marketing class in our community. View the Voice Thread below and you will agree that this is an idea for all ages. Consider projects for your classes. Voice Thread has updated and now includes video and more! Give it a try!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

When Donkeys Fly

Look- she emailed us. It's Ginger Hodge! Yeah!!!
She sent us pictures. Whoa!!!!
Will she videoconference with us? Whoooooo Hoooooo!!!!!!!

These remarks along with many excited squeels were heard in the 3rd grade technology class over the author and her book called When Donkeys Fly. It is a new inspirational book for all to enjoy - along with absolutely beautiful illustrations. Our students love the story, it is great for a read-aloud read to one or to a big crowd. The message at the end reels the children in even more.

We are fortunate enough to be in on some of the production and pre-printing processes. Ginger Hodge and C.B Markham, the author and the illustrator, have let us in on some of the steps of writing and editing a book. Some of my classes have received messages from the author and pictures from the illustrator. The curious students come up with quite a range of questions and comments. Ginger answers them through email and has even visited the school.

Students are impressed that we are using a paperback book stamped with SAMPLE COPY - Final Printing will be hardcover with spine. They feel special- they get a sneak preview of a book that will be out this June - and they are seeing it weeeeeks ahead. We are using C.B.'s illustration examples and they are allowing students to do animation projects with the digital images. How cool - using a real illustrator's pictures in class projects! We can't wait for finished products - the book and our projects.

Toward the end of today's class period, the students asked if Ginger will have a videoconference with our class. I had just told them that she lives near our school, but this class has not met her yet. What fun it would be. A videoconference - students will see the real author in her real place where she writes real books.

"How authentic can you get?" thinks the teacher in me. "How saaa-weeet!!!!" scream the children.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

We are Crazy for More Crazy Talk Animations

We are all going crazy for Crazy Talk animations. Students ride a roller coaster of emotions when their voice combines with animated characters. Many young students are hearing a recording of their own voice for the first time - this is new enough. Add watching a frog's mouth actually move in sync with their words, and see the facial moves show gets crazy!

Sally practiced a poem that she chose about taking care of the earth. Click below to enjoy her video.

Many classrooms on the Kg-first grade hall have trees painted on the walls. Mrs. B's tree has transformed into a singing sensation. Students can't wait for their turn to bring their tree to life! Jack's classmates cheered his job well done with Way Up High in the Apple Tree.

Other educational uses of videos and animations:

Our technology class in SC joined a collaborative project in Oregon about where toys are made. They are developing their scripts, recording each other, editing their work, and are looking forward to seeing their toys come to life on a video.

Students who needed more incentive to learn their math facts practiced and practiced to be able to earn their turn with Crazy Talk. Each student recorded themselves reciting math facts and chose their crazy character. The video clips were combined to make a very crazy math facts movie. After joining in with so many characters reciting their nine-times-tables, students can surely say them in their sleep now.

One class has brainstormed an impressive list of video topics. Many second graders want their character to teach a lesson like tornado safety, fire drills, or how to be a good friend. Videos clips of each student was combined to make a class video of good friends who like to stay safe.

Another class has big plans to enhance a language arts projects on personification - I guess we can just say that this time their ideas will be super-personified.

To see more of our CRAZY TALK5 video clips go to We hope these spark ideas for your school. Share your idea with us -we would love to hear from you!

contact JoNelle Gardner, technology teacher at

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Get Your Cat to Teach Reading - Crazy Talk 5

"Get your cat to teach reading," my email to the district office read. I had previously received a picture of a cat, Steve McQueen, via email and in return I made a video clip. The animated video is of Stevie the Cat reciting a poem about....cats. This clip is making the rounds in classrooms and sparking many ideas of how to motivate students.

How did the digital photo transform into an animated video? With CrazyTalk 5 you can transform photos and images into animated characters with suprizing ease. As with most technology I have found that you can use a little or use a lot - the results are impressive. Upload an image and then manipulate the face with a few puppeteering tools. Use Crazy Talk's recording tools, text-to-speech or even your own sound file for the voice. Another click of the mouse and characters reward you with their crazy moves.

What about the part regarding motivating students? Animated characters are a given for motivation. Admittedly no big news there. The big idea is to integrate creating characters to motivate students to build their communication skills of reading, speaking and writing. Students create scripts and practice recording - writing, reading, and speaking. It is up to us to help our students build these skills well.

So many ideas have come out of Stevie the Cat. Biographies, poems, storytelling, story characters, speeches, my pet, your pet, and many more.

I took pictures around our school to make clips of a cast of characters to play on our morning newscast. Who am I? Where do I live? Can you find me? Interest is building, questions are being asked, ideas are blooming. But they have to wait to find out, "How did she do that? When can I do that too!"

Here is the first announcement below. More applications with examples next time, but first meet Digiraffe- our own digital giraffe!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Podcasting, the Super 3 & Tech Lab Activities

Podcasting can improve your child’s reading and writing skills. It’s true. The steps in the Super 3 plan / do / review creating good podcasts require many skills. Students communicate with peers, think through ideas, write (or type) scripts, record, evaluate, and edit-edit-edit. Their favorite part seems to be the challenge of making a satisfactory recording. Students repeatedly listen and record while building fluency skills with each edit.

Some of our 2nd and 3rd grade technology classes are practicing these skills to make their audio and/or video projects. Topics students have chosen include riddles, similes, vocabulary, science, websites, and software. Find more ideas here.

With new 2nd and 3rd graders going to Ms Gardner for technology classes, let’s repeat safety on the Internet. Find out more about potential dangers online. is a positive place to learn Internet safety. There are no links to outside sites. Go with your child to for more information.

Students have learned how to format clipart, borders and text in Microsoft Word.
Our hallways are newly decorated with student-made Valentine's Day and signs for Jump Rope for Heart.

Many 4th and 5th grade technology classes are using technology to use reliable resources on the Internet, create electronic presentations, and evaluate their work. Project presentations integrate technology with classroom topics such as presidents, national parks, geometry, and the Revolutionary War. Students learn basic and advanced features in Photo Story 3, Microsoft Word, and Power Point.

iSURFFers say, THANK YOU PTA!!!!!!!!!!!
Students Ready For the Future -iSURFFers - are learning how to save their work with flash drives thanks to our generous PTA! With the purchase of 30 flash drives to use in the lab, our PTA has made it possible for our technology students to practice proper care and functions of flash drives. THANK YOU PTA!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Field Trip, Videos, and Wikis

Last month Gold Hill 4th graders spent two nights at Barrier Island, an environmental camp on Seabrook Island, SC. Included in the three days of classes were lessons and activities about early Native Americans. Students learned about the history and culture of Cusabo tribes along the rivers and the coast of SC. In other classes, students learned about regional plants and animals, their adaptations and how Native American tribes respectfully lived among and used their natural resources.

We incorporated lessons learned into our On theTrail of the First People Project led by Karen Kleigman in NY at MidLink Magazine. Karen's organization of the project offered many new technology choices. The detailed instructions made this highly collaborative project easy to follow.

We set up a videoconference with Adam Dugger's class in NY- Hi y'all! During the Q& A it was evident that ALL students were amazed at the weather difference (unusually warm December in SC), the wide sandy shores, the frequency of bottle-nosed dolphin sitings, the palmetto trees in the maritime forest, the huge horseshoe crabs, and sleeping in cabins on the beach!

Back at school, our students created videos with Photostory3, a free download from Microsoft. Per Karen's instructions, I uploaded an example of student work on Google Video (Beta). I had a gmail account so this part went quickly.

Also with Photostory3/Google video I added a video documenting how we started using wikispaces.

See these videos and the project wiki for more information of starting wikis and other projects at your school. Better yet...go see see Karen Kleigman's presentation at FETC 2008