Saturday, June 30, 2012

Hey Michigan - Happy Social Media Day! #smday

That's right - it's official...

June 30 is Social Media Day

Michigan is the third state to officially declare Social Media as an official day of celebration.  I must admit that as a Michigan teacher who is a strong advocate for social media, I'm a bit disappointed that the presence of this event wasn't as large as I would have expected.  Michigan has a strong social media presence, yet no one contacted me (nor any of my educational networks) to help promote the positive vibe of this day.  In fact, I happened to run across this myself by seeing it on Mashable.  You can read the write-up Katrina Ball did here.  I truly hope this isn't a buzz to 'look good' with no true foundation to move in a forward direction.  Nothing irritates me more than having things 'look good on paper' without real passion for change.
Social Media Day Detroit is being held at Sound Board at the MotorCity Casino Hotel. It will focus on entrepreneurs, start-up companies and local social media communities with an expected attendance of 1,200.

Join Michigan's Social Media Network:

I'd love to connect with Michigan teachers and companies.  I've created a list on Twitter where I'll add fellow Michigan educators, start-ups, etc... If you'd like to be added to this Twitter list, please fill out the brief form below.  I encourage others to follow that list by clicking here.  Additionally, I invite you to follow the individuals named on the list to help further grow your personal learning network, or PLN.

Mark your Calendars: You're Invited!

Michigan Teacher Blogger Meet-Up: July 29 from 2 - 4pm at Biggby Coffee in Northville

I've teamed up with a few Michigan teachers, bloggers, and authors to host a Michigan Meet-Up. This is our first annual MI Meet-Up, so the event is informal in nature.  Our intention is to have the event in a relaxed environment where we can all briefly network and meet face to face.  Everyone is welcome: teachers, bloggers, start-ups, businesses, etc.  Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.  You can read more about this event on Maria Dismondy's page - click here.

Be The Difference
It's a Sunday, so you can make it!

TT Blog Swap: Number Talks by Heidi

My name is Heidi Samuelson.  I'm excited to be apart of the TT Blog Swap and Hop today!
Thanks to Erin for allowing me to "swap" blogs with her for a day!  I love reading her blog!

Have you ever heard of "Number Talks"?

I've been a using Number Talks for the past year and become a big fan of this wonderful technique to get kids talking about math.  Listening to my kiddos as they talked about the different card patterns really gave me an understanding of what they "thought" about numbers and helped me see the ways they used strategies to create numbers.

I devoured the book by Sherry Parrish:

Number Talks:  Helping Children Build Mental Math and Computation Strategies

which gave me a ton of information and ideas on how to use the number talks in my class.  The book came with a dvd of how number talks are conducted in different classrooms and was very helpful!  You can also find number talk examples on YouTube if you search for the keywords: number talks.

Sherry talks about using dot images, rekenreks, double ten-frames, and number sentences to guide the number talks for different addition strategies...("Counting All and Counting On"..."Double or Near Doubles"...and my personal favorite "Making Tens").

Dot image cards are easy to create using those cool bingo dot stamp bottles or brightly colored round stickers you can find in Walmart, Target, or an Office Supply Store.  I used the largest index cards (I think they were 5X7) and created the dot images that Sherry suggests in the book.  I labeled the cards in subsets of A, B,C....etc and then each subset had 3 cards to look at in one number talk...A-1, A-2, A-3....I punched a hole in the set of cards A-1 through I-3 and then hung them on a hook near the area where we conducted read alouds....whole group games...(in other words my "meeting area")...or as we like to say in the South "the meetin' area :)

I also created a powerpoint slide show of the dot images so that if we had some "down time" and the projector was going, I could flash some images and see what they thought...

Sherry suggests using 3-5 cards or images during a number talk time and asking the questions:

"How many _____ do you see?  How do you see them?"

Double Ten-Frames are something I use with my calendar.  I have the kids use coins to fill in the frames as we add another day....I have 2 ten frames on the the beginning of the year we just use dots to fill in the ten frames as the days go by...then we use nickels....then move up to dimes...for the final quarter I'll have the kids fill thef first ten frame with dimes and the second with nickels... somewhere towards the end of the year we add a third frame and use pennies...

I created a powerpoint for all the double ten-frame sets recommended in Sherry's book to use with the projector....I think I'll go ahead and print the slides onto cardstock, laminate, and ring together to keep at the "meetin' area" to use with the number talks this year.

My mom and dad created Rekenreks using bamboo skewers, pony beads, and small  blocks of wood from my dad's woodshop.  The kids enjoyed using these small versions of the rekenreks to solve problems and work out story problems.

 I created a couple of PowerPoint shows to use with the Rekenreks Sherry talks about in her book...there's also a great app called " Number Rack" that I use with the kids...

You can manipulate the amount of bead rows you show as well as open a large mystery box to cover some of the beads and ask how many do you see? many are covered?

 You can even add as more than one line of beads to help practice with the double digits.

Number Talks has been a great addition into my math program.  It allows the kids to use "Math Talk" and explain to each other what they see and how they see it.

Click HERE for a download of the Rekenrek Powerpoint I created to use with the Number Talks this year.  I hope it goes as well as the iPad app did last year :) You can also get the download of the powerpoint by click on the picture below!
Thanks again to Erin for letting me guest post today!! 

Hope you are having a wonderful day!

Be sure to hop over to some of the other blogs that are sharing this wonderful day and if you get a chance...hop by the "swamp" sometime!

Check out all the other blogs that are participating in the TT Blog Swap and Hop 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Introducing: Marquin Parks and Wrinkles Wallace: New Series Great for Bookclubs!

From Teacher to Author - Congrats to my dear friend, Marquin Parks

Last summer when I joined the National Writing Project, I had the pleasure of working with a truly creative and inspirational author named Marquin Parks (click here to follow him on Twitter).  Marquin was always very excited about the book series that he was working on and ready to share his creation with the world.  

He told some great stories and really inspired me to work on some more creative projects and not simply focus on my blog.  Because of The Writing Project and Marquin, I now have two books that I'll be featured in that are being published this summer.  So I've personally been waiting for his fantastic book series to get out of his head and onto paper for quite a while. I was very excited to learn last week that the time has come, and Wrinkles Wallace: Knights of Night School isn't just an idea anymore, it's a real book - rapidly soaring up the charts!

I'm especially excited to support Marquin because he is a teacher and a friend.  He knows what kids love to read, especially boy readers.  Last summer, I spent four weeks with Marquin on the Eastern Michigan University campus.  We spent hours each day collaborating with other writers.  I am so proud to see his work reach publication.  I know the readers of this blog will be excited to support him on his first book!

Readers are sure to be hooked on the quirky characters, fast pace, plot twists, and constant humor of Wrinkles Wallace: Knights of Night School.  They won’t be disappointed because Marquin has already finished the next four books in the series!  E-readers will also be very happy to know that the book will be available for Kindle, Nook, and Google e-books.

The Amazon Book Summary:

Follow the zany adventures of Wrinkles Wallace and his classmates who have to come together as a team to outsmart their teacher and pass 5th Grade. After all, they’ve failed it a number of times--so many that Wrinkles is already 28-years old. The students deal with real-world issues and themselves in order to overcome the antics of their diabolical teacher, Mr. Sittin’ B. Quiet. (By the way, he’s only ten.) Join them in this upside-down world where non-stop humor serves as a guide to character-building and success.

Marquin has graciously offered to give a first edition, signed copy of his book away to one of our lucky readers!  Simply enter the give-away below... this will be a fantastic addition to your classroom library!

Enter the Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 Connect with Wrinkles and Marquin

Facebook                    Twitter 


Classroom 2.0: The Book Project

Classroom 2.0 Announces its 5th Anniversary of The Book Project

Classroom 2.0 is a popular Ning started by the amazing Steve Hargadon.  As a frequent visitor to the Ning, I  always look forward to The Book that comes out each year because there are always so many innovative resources that are shared by such quality educators.

What is Classroom 2.0:

Classroom 2.0 is a social site where individuals can join, for free, to collaborate with each other, learn about digital tools, and have their imagination sparked by the creative ideas others post about.  The community consists of over 67K members from over 188 different countries. 

Visit Classroom 2.0

I recently had the pleasure of meeting up with Steve among many other friends at The ISTE Conference in San Diego.  I'm in the process of composing a series of posts from the conference that will come out over the next few days.  In the mean time, feel free to check out the #ISTE12 feed.

In the Photo: 
@tomwhitby, @stevehargadon, @kleinerin, @teachingwthsoul, @flourishingkids, @nesticos, @ron_peck
(I've linked each name as they are truly great people to follow on Twitter)

What is The Classroom 2.0 Book Project?

The Classroom 2.0 Book consists of quality, innovative resources for teachers.  This year's book project was put together by three fantastic powerhouses in education: Steve Hargadon, Richard Byrne, and Chris Dawson.  They opened the invitation for submissions to their networks, very large ones indeed.  After the submission deadline, the three worked with a committed and tireless pace to select the first round of entries.  The first round of entries are all from well-recognized names who put together a fabulous collection of resources.  Please click here to view the entries.  Over the next few weeks, smaller cohorts of entries will be added to The Book Project.  

I'm honored (and thrilled) that my submission was selected for the first cohort of published submissions.  My submission focuses on digital writing as a medium for process and product.  As a member of The National Writing Project and continuous collaboration with dear friend, Troy Hicks, digital writing is something I value greatly.  

{click here to read my submission on digital writing}


{click here to see the complete list of submissions}
(a fabulous list)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Michigan Meet Up with Be the Difference and Funky First Grade Fun

Books that Make a Difference

I'm sure many readers will remember Maria Dismondy, our friend and Michigan author who is making spirits bright, one book at a time.  We at Kleinspiration first met Maria in January, when she was launching her book Pink Tiara Cookies for Three and later took a look back at her earlier work, Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun

Maria's Linky Parties

Along with being an author, Maria is also an excellent resource to the educational blogging community, and is the host of a couple of very important linky parties that you may be interested in. 

The first is Make a Difference Monthly, which facilitates bloggers linking up all month long about a given idea on how they would teach a specific character trait.  Great suggestions for videos, books, songs, etc are all on the menu at this party.

The second is Things I Love Thursdays, where bloggers can link up about products they love and take a break from the daily grind.

Michigan Blogger's Meet Up

I am excited to announce a meet up that I am going to be attending along with Maria at Be The Difference and Kimberly at Funky First Grade Fun.  If you are a blogger that writes on the topic of education, child development, or are a teacher, join us at the Michigan Bloggers Meet Up.  We are meeting in July over coffee at the Biggby Coffee in Northville

It's great to see educators sharing ideas and working together to help improve our children's experiences.  After spending a week at ISTE 2012 I've seen first-hand how a meet up can result in great ideas, conversation, and collaboration, so I'm happy to invite any Michigan blogger that writes on the topic of education, child development, or teacher to join us at the Michigan Bloggers Meet Up.

Be The Difference

Please {click here} to visit Maria's website!

You'll love the fun design of her site and the many great books & resources.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

How to Utilize Survey & Polling Tools with Web 2.0 OER!

Getting stuck on a web 2.0 tool?  
Check out Web 2.0 OER the user's manual to everything web 2.0.!!!

Many people contact me to write a review of their site, and I love to help out.  When Mohamed Amin Embi (Ph.D) asked for me to check his site out, I was overwhelmed with the potential of this amazing tool. In today's classroom, we are all using some form of technology on some level.  Whether we consider ourselves experts or we're just getting started, we could all use a helpful tip every now and then.  Some of the most useful technology tools out there have little glitches or specific terminology that can kill our efforts to use them.  Dr. Amin has set out to help get us past those glitches and using the technology in the way that best suits our purposes.

This resource really is THE BEST "go to" site to teach you about All things Technology!

I highly recommend checking it out!  You'll be SO GLAD you did!

Web 2.0 OER (Open Educational Resources), initiated by Dr. Amin, is dedicated to providing an easy-to-follow guide and just-in-time training on various Web 2.0 tools that can be easily integrated into teaching and learning.  I know teachers everywhere will really fall in love with this time saving resource.  The tools presented by Dr Amin are amazing and truly useful to all teachers, regardless of grade level, the type of school you teach at, or experience level with technology.

Web 2.0 Survey and Polling Tools is the first in a series of reviews that we will be doing at Kleinspiration for Dr. Amin's guides to Open Educational Resources. Having previously reviewed his original guide to Web 2.0 here last year, Dr. Amin reached out to me this year to let our readers know about some new tools available that he has created which we will be reviewing in depth over the next few months.

Here is an example of the content included for learning about the survey and polling tool, Survey Monkey: (this is just one example many tools included in the site)

Survey Monkey

Dr. Amin starts you off as early in the process as possible-getting a username/login

Moving into product application, the step by step instructions help you stay on course to success.

 Integration to your routine is made easy, as Web 2.0 OER takes you from step 1 of a project all the way through completion and application.

The Scribd Book on Survey Tools
Web 2.0 Survey & Polling Tools: A Quick Guide

Other content includes this same format of information for web 2.0 survey tools such as: 

Obsurvey, Polldaddy, Survey Tool, Kwik Surveys, Flisti, Poll Everywhere, Zoomerang, Fluid Surveys, and Quizsnack

and other web 2.0 tools such as:

Facebook, Twitter, Blog, Wordpress, LinkedIn, SlideShare, YouTube, Flickr, Scribd, Flickr, Evernote, VoiceThread, WallWisher, WikiSpaces, GoogleDocs, Skype, Elluminate, ZohoShow, Delicious, Diigo, Jing, GoAnimate, FlipSnack, Zoho Challenge, Issuu, Myebook, Calaemo, Sliderocket, and much more

These are just a few of the amazing FREE resources available on Web 2.0 OER.

Click Here to Check Out the complete guide to Web 2.0 Tools!

Please feel free to blog about this great resource and share the wonderful information Dr. Amin created to help educators and students.  I am so thankful for the generous work he's done for education and I hope we can spread the word about this wonderful

Please support Kleinspiration and sign up for our newsletter to get great tips sent to your email.

You can join my network and follow me on Twitter and on Facebook.

And you can follow Dr Amin here.

Disclosure: Web 2.0 OER is a contributing sponsor of Kleinspiration.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Mastery Connect: Expanded Features for Free Users

Mastery Connect, winners of the 2011 Edublog Award for Best Mobile App, understands that they cannot achieve their goal of helping teachers share and discover common assessments, track mastery of standards, and collaborate in a global professional learning community by resting on their laurels.  That is why they are taking the giant leap of expanding their free services. 

Beginning this month, teachers with a free account can now create an unlimited number of MasteryTrackers. In addition, teachers can add an unlimited number of assessments to their trackers to assess and re-assess for mastery.

In combination with the ability to use the MasteryTracker, free accounts can take advantage of the time-saving grading tools of GradeCam Bubblesheet Scanning, iPod/iPad scoring, and browser-based assessment up to 10 questions. All users can continue to share and utilize assessments with any number of questions. Premium users will continue to enjoy scoring up to 100 questions as well as all the great features of reporting, exporting, sub-standards, and much much more. 

You can learn about these recently released features, in addition to their new interactive video tour on the Mastery Connect blog.  In an age where teachers are being charged for everything from apps to lesson plans to tech gadgets, it is incredibly refreshing to see a company such as Mastery Connect expanding their free options rather than looking for new ways to charge for services.  I applaud Mastery Connect for this decision and hope that many others will follow suit. 

Disclosure: Mastery Connect is a sponsor of Kleinspiration

Monday, June 25, 2012

Coming Soon: EduClipper-It's Like Pinterest for Teachers!

Pinterest has been well publicized as recently becoming the number three social media platform, and the teaching community is a big reason for their success.  The ability to see an image, lesson, or idea and "pin it" to share with a thousand or so of your closest allies is a feature that has differentiated Pinterest from other social media platforms in a way that has produced unparalled growth. 

While the rest of the world is sharing pins of recipes, home improvement ideas, and holiday decorations, the educational community has created it's own little niche in the Pinterest movement, sharing ideas and pinning just about anything from lesson plans to classroom layouts, planners, organizers and Hey Girl pictures.  Uh oh....Hey Girl pictures?  How am I going to open Pinterest in class without unwillingly bringing up a picture of Ryan Gosling, an angry orange or a dog in a spiderman costume?

As a Pinterest user, I follow people because they share great stuff, but deep down inside I know that they also on occasion share nonsense, and I don't need to broadcast that to my classroom.  We've all been there before.  That moment where your Pinterest account's "funny" board suddenly becomes not so funny as you accidently show it to a colleague, student, or parent.  You then rapidly click away to act like it wasn't there (but it was) and then wonder if they saw it.  Or even worse, the students simply go crazy on it and you've distracted your entire classroom.  Eventually, you simply avoid using the tool altogether in class. 

Why hasn't somebody created a kid-safe, classroom safe version of this fantastic tool?  A tool with all of the great functionality but none of the nonsense and spam.  One that I can pull up on my whiteboard, iPad, or even send students to link to?

Well now they have!  Adam Bellow of is putting the finishing touches on eduClipper, a resource for clipping, marking, saving, and sharing great ideas in a school friendly and kid safe forum.  Users can share clipboards to users and non users alike.  The motto of eduClipper is "Clip Anything, Share Anything" and it suits the product perfectly.  Videos, lessons, images, whatever you want to clip and share, you can do it.  You can even share it back out on your regular social media platforms.

eduClipper is currently in beta, but you can still be one of the first to spread the word about it!  Check out the video below to learn a bit more about how it all works.

Click here to help spread the word about eduClipper.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Inspiring Classroom Design

Pinspiring Classroom Design by: Erin Klein

I invite you to check out my guest blog post on the fabulous Kindergarten Lifestyle blog.  My good friend, Jeannie, was gracious enough to allow me to share a few classroom design tips with her audience.  You'll find ideas on the following: Getting started with Classroom Design, Does Color and Layout Really Matter, and My Favorite Design Elements for Classroom Spaces.  Plus, you'll see photos of classroom designs and layouts, including my former space.

{click here to see my Classroom Design post on Jeannie's blog} 

I'm excited to change it up this summer to create a Garden Theme where I bring the outdoors inside.  I have a lovely brook that runs right beyond my stained glass windows.  Looking out, you immediately see the breathtaking Children's Garden.  Therefore, I plan to accessorize with Sunflowers and Bees.  I'll be sure to share photos once the project is complete.

Also check out one of my most popular posts, Interior Design for your Classroom:
That's right - Classroom Couture !
Photo Credit: Schoolgirl Style by Melanie

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Digital Storytelling via Little Bird Tales by Jeannie Partin from Kindergarten Lifestyle

Welcome guest blogger, Jeannie!  

I encourage Kleinspiration readers to check out Jeannie's site and become a follower of her blog.  You'll certainly want to start following her on Pinterest (click here), Facebook (click here), and Twitter (click here).  She also has amazing products at her Teacher Store, please click here to follow her on TpT!

Hello all! My name is Jeannie Partin. I am the author of Kindergarten Lifestyle and I am super excited to be at Kleinspiration today! I have an awesome website to share with you today that will provide tons of great learning experiences for your students and help create memories that will last a lifetime. The possibilities really are ENDLESS!

The website I want to share with you is LittleBirdTales.

This website allows you to create photo albums and/or picture books with narration. 
It's FREE to use and super simple.

Here is how I used this website this year in my classroom:

Each year in my kindergarten classroom, we conduct an entire research unit on animals. One of the standards we have to meet is having the kids "present" their research. Typically they make posters, dioramas, book jackets, etc. This year was the first year I chose to try a ditigal storybook and I'm so glad I did. Check out our "Safari Research" presentation HERE.

Pretty cool, huh? This was a hit with the kids! I mean they NEVER got tired of seeing the animals they chose and hearing themselves and their classmates present their learning. It is still one of the most amazing activities I've done with my kiddos. It's very simple, but was a "thumbtack" to post all they learned about the various safari animals.

Something even cooler is that you can purchase the Mp4 download for $.99. (Of course you can view online for FREE anytime). That would be great to put in a listening center. Parents can also purchase the Mp4 as a wonderful keepsake! And, even as a teacher - I know I want to keep this to remember those sweet little ones - just hearing their voices brings back memories....:0) How special!

I am thinking of other ways I can use this wonderful resource:

*Books on Tape - well now Mp4 format. I never seem to have enough books for the listening center. I could totally read a book and download it as an Mp4 - and put in the listening center --- ANY book!
*Fluency center - kids can record themselves reading and listen to themselves.
*Retell center - kids can draw illustrations of the beginning, middle, and end of a favorite story and retell it.
*Writing center - kids can draw original pieces and narrate their stories - what creativity that involves!

Here is a quick video that explains even more you can do with Little Bird Tales
 (it's less than 2 minutes long).

I hope you enjoyed hearing a little about this awesome website and how you can use it with your students. Using technology in the classroom doesn't have to be tedious and difficult or take up lots of time. This site is super easy to use and we made our books in little 5 minute pockets of time....

In the comments below, please let us know your ideas for using this website's digital storybooks.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Bring the Zoo into Your Classroom: Awesome Live Animal Cams at The Columbus Zoo!

An Interactive Zoo Experience for your Students
bring the animals into your classroom - live!

Can't take a trip to the zoo, try bringing the zoo to you.  Nationwide Insurance and Jungle Jack Hanna have partnered with the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium to let you see animals in real time.  They have live video cameras that you can control (scroll up, down, side to side, etc) to see the exhibit in real time.  I was amazed how cool this virtual experience was and instantly began thinking of ways to use this site with my students next year.  We do a non-fiction unit in second grade where each child selects an animal to study.  They publish and share their wonderful books with their friends, and I know this site will be a wonderful resource to dive into as they explore the animals in their habitats and learn interesting facts.  Currently, they have four live exhibits for your viewing pleasure: Alaskan Brown Bears, Discovery Reef Aquarium, Humboldt Penguins, and Australia and Islands Aviary.  

{click here to visit the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium}

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Sprout Labs: Fun Science Apps for Summer!

Sprout Labs: High Quality & Interactive Content
about Plant and Butterfly Lifecycles

Plants HD delivers high-quality interactive content about plants and their lifecycle. The app provides an in-depth look into topics such as seeds, germination, pollination, flowers, trees, fruits, and dispersal. Scientific information about the various topics is combined with quiz and game to enhance the learning. This app was designed to make learning fun and interactive as it should be!

Butterfly HD delivers high-quality interactive content about butterflies and their lifecycle. The app brings to life one of nature's most amazing transformations.  Flip through curated HD photos and videos, read content or have it read to you, listen to music while reading, or just play a game. The content correlates to State Science Standards in the USA but is applicable to kids worldwide.

I'm happy to announce that Sprout Labs is giving away 4 promo codes to Kleinspiration readers!  Each app is $1.99 in iTunes, but you could get one for free simply by filling out the form below.  Through Random Number Generator, I will select four winners!  Best of luck!

Enter the brief form below to win your free Sprout Lab Lifecycle App!

Friday, June 1, 2012

20 year old edtech entrepreneur secretly lived inside the AOL office in Pal Alto, CA

Imagine living in the AOL office... and not being an AOL employee

Last night, I was passing time while browsing Facebook when I realized my friend, Eric, had a lot of unusual buzz going on regarding some recent media attention.  You might remember Eric from my posts on ClassConnect - a FANTASTIC and Free resource for teachers and students.

After a quick visit to his page, I was amazed to see the following two short videos.  Both are a must see!  I got so excited seeing my name on some of the files when the ClassConnect site was being featured in the background.  Plus, the videos are interesting because they give you a look inside the AOL office and Eric's new home.  I think you'll agree after watching the video segments that Eric is simply a guy that you can't help but root for - he's got such ambition and drive while maintaining a sense of humor and charm.

In all fairness... Eric did send out a Tweet back in March asking for a spare sofa spot...

 Daniel Terdiman has a nice post including images explaining 'The Secret of How to Live at AOL."

My favorite question Eric poses...

If you were to invest in a company, would you invest in someone that closed up shop and went home or would you invest in a person that against all odds figured out a way to pull everything together when everything was literally stacked against them? 

I'm so fortunate that Eric and I had the chance to present together at this year's annual Michigan Reading Association conference.  I really believe in what he is building with ClassConnect, and I get so excited sharing his product with others.  I encourage you to click here and check out my post on ClassConnect: Dropbox + Pinterest + SMART Exchange for Teachers + Common Core = ClassConnect 

Eric's confidence has helped to propel his success.  I always get a laugh when I see his business card...

If you'd like to join the 11,000 teachers on ClassConnect - please click here!

Why I Love ClassConnect: