Monday, July 30, 2012

Happy Connected Educator Month

What does it mean to be a Connected Educator?

When I began my teaching career a few short years ago, I never would have imagined having such an expansive network of people that I consider colleagues and friends.  During my undergraduate studies, we used the Internet to collaborate with each other.  We also developed projects and presentations using various software programs.  As I completed my graduate program, I was required to set up a blog and use certain web 2.0 tools.  What I found interesting was that I wasn't allowed to choose the host for my site.  We all were required to follow a rigid set of guidelines that were actually rules, not guides.  Each rule was assigned a point value.  Each blog in our class looked like a replica of every one's site.  There was no room for creativity - only control.  Perhaps this was because much of the Internet was unknown.  Perhaps I should have felt lucky that I was even allowed to do these sorts of tasks years ago.

I can't stand by the idea that control should ever trump creativity.  This is why I'm so happy to have the liberty to connect with the people I decide to include in my network, create projects that are of interest to me, and write posts that I determine are worthy of writing.  I'm no longer bound by a rigid point system that only awards gold stars for following directions rather than thinking critically or failing miserably but learning immensely. 

After overcoming my fear of Twitter, I've grown to rely on the tool almost to the point of being dependent on the resource to shape who I am as an educator.  It's not the tool that helps shape who I am; it's the way the tool is utilized and who I connect with that make it an invaluable resource.

People always ask me how Twitter can be such a powerful tool.  Once recent example includes a conversation I had with my friend, Michelle.  We were discussing how great it was that our friend, Summer, was going to join Michelle at her school, Anastasis.   I was quite interested in finding out more because I've followed Anastasis Academy since it's beginning.  Blogging mentor to many and #edtech pioneer, Kelly Tenkely, started this school.  As Michelle and I continued our conversation over Twitter, many other people began to add questions and thoughts to our conversation.  We mentioned that we should Skype one day to further the dialogue.  Well, that comment added a few more friends in our PLN, personal learning network, to the conversation.  It was decided that since so many were interested in hearing about the philosophy of Anastasis and what it was like to teach at this amazing institution, we should all Hangout on Google.  Within hours, we had a time coordinated that all ten of us could meet.  Two days later, we all joined each other's company in a Google Hangout to continue the conversation.  It was insightful to say the least!  What was meant to last 20 - 40 minutes lasted nearly two hours.  It was a wonderful experience talking with everyone.  Truly, we were among friends discussing our passions, sharing our concerns, and celebrating our successes.  

Yesterday I traveled an hour down the road to meet a group of teachers and bloggers for the Michigan Meet Up. About a month ago, Maria decided we should host this event for any teacher or blogger in Michigan that was interested and available.  We had people from all over the state join us for coffee.  It's always a pleasure meeting the faces behind the blogs you follow.  There truly are people behind the networks.  It's such a joy to connect in person!  You can read more about this event by clicking here or by clicking here.  

Josh Stumpenhorst, 2012 Illinois teacher of the year, recently published a post titled, "Does Twitter Matter."  If ever a post will persuade you to believe in the power of Twitter, this is it!  Josh has had some amazing opportunities, and I'm happy to have such an amazing person in my PLN.  Josh is a great example of how Twitter can connect you with great teachers across the country.  I recommend connecting with him on Twitter and his blog

This summer, I've had a few amazing opportunities come my way due to social networking and staying connected with other friends in the community.  I was able to travel to San Diego and present with a fabulous group of educators.

I even gave an Ignite Talk while at the ISTE conference.  This was a challenging and rewarding experience.  I'm blessed to have been sharing the stage with a few wonderful friends.  We each had 5 minutes to present while the slides auto-advanced throughout the entire segment. 

This summer I also started doing webinars for SimpleK12.  I recently participated in their day of learning focused on the Common Core.  On August 17, I will be their Spotlight Presenter doing several sessions on the Common Core.

You can sign up for each webinar.  They're free! You can attend your session in your pajamas!  I'll be doing four separate webinars on Friday, August, 17.  They are as follows...

Create Common Core Content with Confidence!
click here to register

Create Engaging Lessons to Support the Common Core
click here to register

Integrating Technology to Enhance the Common Core
click here to register

Project Ideas for Elementary Students that Align to Common Core Language Arts
click here to register


This summer I received an invitation to attend the first ever Bammy! Awards held in Washington D.C.  Because of Twitter, I've been able to connect and collaborate with so many distinguished professionals.  I'm beyond excited to attend this event.

Jeannette Bernstein  writes, "The Bammy Awards are presented by the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences, made up of 164 of the nation’s most prominent and influential education leaders. The inaugural black-tie event will take place on September 15, 2012, at the landmark Arena Stage at the Mead Center in Washington, D.C. Awards will be presented in 24 categories. In addition, Linda Darling-Hammond, John Merrow and Diane Ravitch will receive special honors for their distinguished lifetime achievements."

Amazing Grades! launches tomorrow.  This summer, I worked on a chapter to contribute to this book.  It will be available on Amazon August 1, 2012.  You can purchase the pre-release  at 60% off by clicking here.

Amazing Grades is a worldwide goodwill book with 101 best selling authors and experts, from 13 countries around the world, sharing their strategies for getting better grades faster.

Amazing Grades is the result of a year's collaboration by 101 authors and is the first book ever to include 3 learning style strategies so that students can master the information in their own style and improve their grades faster. There are video strategies, (scan tags which include related videos); auditory strategies (all authors read their chapters aloud) and kinesthetic strategies so that students can interact with the material in the book.

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.

I'm honored (and thrilled) that my submission was selected for the 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. 

You can download my free chapter on digital writing by clicking here.

Staying connected is important.  I love the connections I've made.  The people I meet inspire me to be creative.  Tomorrow I have a panel conference call with Georgia Pacific to discuss conservation in the classroom and how it relates to nature and education.  This Friday - Sunday I'm attending the annual ScreenCast Camp hosted on the TechSmith campus.  Next weekend my buddy, Eric, from ClassConnect is flying me out to meet his team and visit in Pal Alto, CA.  This is why I love Twitter ~ it's the best way to get connected and stay in touch with exciting happenings in the world of education.  

In honor of Connected Educator Month, I encourage you to click here and see some great ways you can get connected today!

Make your Centers Interactive and Engaging with Hot Dots Technology from @ed_insights

Hot Dots come in MANY different subject areas & age levels!
an easy way to integrate technology 

- scroll all the way down to enter to WIN a set - 

A bit of honesty... about my original views on Hot Dots...

I've seen Hot Dots before, and I've been interested in getting a set for my classroom.  However, I had a few concerns and questions:
  • They looked fun, but I wasn't exactly sure of their function.  
  • What exactly do they do?
  • What do you get when you purchase Hot Dots?
  • They're really expensive; are they worth the cost?
  • Are my students going to know how to use these?
  • How am I going to manage this technology?
  • Is this product durable?
Sometimes I'm glad I'm not always right...

If I wasn't a partner with Educational Insights, I probably wouldn't have tried Hot Dots out as soon as I am now.  I'm typically not attracted to products that are in the form of question and answer format.  I find this type of activity to be dull and more of a test-prep tool.  My thoughts were that if you added a self-correcting pen and called it technology, the children still wouldn't buy in to the whole activity.  After all, kids are smart!

This wasn't the case.  Sure they can be used for test prep, but that is not the way it felt while interacting with the Hot Dots set.  I felt like I was playing trivia.  My husband, Jason, and I were sitting on the couch when I opened the set.  I started quizzing him about the Human Body.  We were having a fun time answering the questions (until Jacob ran up and took my pen).  Jacob, my four year old, was so interested in what the pen was doing and how it was making the cool sounds.  Of course, Riley, my eight year old, was over two seconds later.  She was fascinated by the cards and asked if they were for her.  Her birthday was 3 days ago.  I told her they were for her to practice with for now and I'd bring them to school in September.  She loved the challenge and immediately finding out if she was correct or not.  This sparked Jacob asking where his cards were.  I ended up ordering a Hot Dots Jr. pen and Jr. card set for him this evening.  You can see the set I ordered him below under the Jr. section.

I also found that they're not expensive at all.  I've always seen the $50+ price tag attached to Hot Dots.  I didn't realize that was if you planned to purchase the pens in bulk, or as a set of six.  I learned you can actually get started with Hot Dots for around $19 ~ yay!  You can purchase a pen for around $9.50 and get a set of cards for around $9.50 as well.

When my package arrived, I received my Hot Dots pen and three card sets.  I was excited to see what these gadgets did and how they could engage my children.  Because I actually took the time to try out each package, I feel like my mind has been changed about this product.

I love trivia ~ and Hot Dots offer me a challenge while giving immediate feedback:

Yes, I'm hooked!  In the video above, you can see the feedback the pen provides for correct and incorrect responses.  Each pen type makes different sounds.  The dog pen barks.  You also get a good glimpse of what the cards actually look like.  For me, this is huge.  I enjoy seeing the materials that will be in the student's hands.  If the the layout is not aesthetically pleasing, the children will not be that engaged and could become distracted.  The Hot Dots cards are great!

I received three sets of Hot Dots cards: Synonyms, Context Clues, and Human Body.  By far, my favorite set is Human Body.  The Human Body cards are larger and include colorful illustrations and pictures.  They are developmentally challenging (which I love!).  They're not too easy, and they encourage critical thinking. 

What I recommend to get as your 'starter kit:'
 1 pen & 1 set of cards = about $19

I love to shop.  I love it even more when the experience is stress free.  Because my time is often limited, I like to get great things without spending a lot of time or a lot of money.  Therefore, because Hot Dots are a bit on the pricy side, I'd like to make a recommendation for what I would purchase.  In fact, I've already ordered another set of cards.  

First, you need a pen.  There are 3 choices:

Please click here to see the pens on the Educational Insights website.

You can also  buy a pack of pens.  They come in sets of six.  

Then you need a set of cards. I'll feature a few of my favorites below.

I'd start with one set, see how you like it and how you'd use it with your students.  Then get more.

*Click here to see all of the Hot Dots Items from Educational Insights*

Here are the Human Body cards I love:

Even if the human body isn't in your standards, I recommend getting these cards.  I find that we are all interested in learning more about ourselves, and these cards are informative while interesting.  They'd be great to place in a discovery center.

If you do word work or vocabulary building, you'll love the context clues set:

Again, there are so many card sets to choose from.  Please click here to see all of the sets available.

What I really Love about Hot Dots:

I go bananas over products that are ready to use upon arrival.  The less I have to learn, the better!  I don't have time to read a big instruction manual or teach myself how to get creative with a tool.  With Hot Dots, I opened the clear wrapping of the card set and placed a battery in the pen.  Bam - ready to go!  

I instantly thought of several ways I could integrate this feature into my existing curriculum and schedule.  In fact, I got really excited because I quickly began to brainstorm how Hot Dots would actually enhance my current schedule.   

They're affordable and portable!  Now that I have one pen, I'd like to purchase another so that I can have another partnership working together during our workshop time.  I especially love the corrective feedback Hot Dots provide.  Now, when I'm working with a small group, I know that my other learners are engaged and receiving appropriate guidance or affirmation for their thinking.

Because the cards are so different for each subject area, the engagement level will stay high since the content is so varried.  There is always sometime new to learn!

My students always gravitate towards the National Geographic books and the 'Did you Know' books when we have book orders.  They love finding out interesting facts.  Hot Dots Science cards are going to be a bit hit in my class this year! 

Hot Dots Jr. - A Fantastic Classroom Tool:

I am a second grade teacher; however, I have a four year old who will enter junior kindergarten this year.  I couldn't close this post without highlighting the Hot Dots Junior program.  Here is a great video that goes in detail to explain what sets are included in the Junior set.

I've ordered the Jr. Problem Solving set for my four year old, Jacob:

There is also a Hot Dots Jr. app available for $0.99 in iTunes:

I did buy the app - Jacob loves it!

App Description:
Getting ready for school has never been this much fun! With the coaching encouragement of Ace – the Talking, Teaching Dog™, kids will laugh as they play, practice and successfully learn colors, letters, numbers, shapes, patterning, sequencing and more with these 72 engaging challenges for kids to master!

You can WIN a Hot Dots Pen & 2 Card Sets!

You can go ahead and grab a pen from an Amazon link above and pick out a card set, too.  Then, if you WIN, you can pick out another pen and an additional 2 card sets.  I'm thinking that Hot Dots would be a great addition to Daily 5, workshop for math or reading, centers, and science/social studies.  I love these sets because they're fun, affordable, portable, interactive and teacher/student - friendly!  The more card sets you have, the better!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclaimer: I am an affiliate of Amazon.

Guest Post: The Cornerstone for Teachers

Angela Watson of was a classroom teacher for eleven years, and currently works as an instructional coach and educational consultant based in New York City.

Do you hold your breath each time you turn on your classroom computers, hoping they'll start up and the wifi will work?

Do you dread the moment your turn on your LCD projector and realize the bulb is out (since the school has no money to replace it)?

 Have you sighed in frustration when a perfectly planned lesson has to be scrapped because the district blocks the website you need?

I think every teacher who tried to integrate technology has experienced these kinds of things. The concerns are legitimate: every additional piece of technology integrated into a lesson is another opportunity for something to go wrong, and often we're too busy playing Whack-A-Mole with the other problems in the classroom to dredge up the energy to add another variable to the mix. The same thing happens to me as an instructional technology coach. I used to get embarrassed when doing professional development and something would invariably go wrong. I’d apologize for not knowing how to work a finicky laptop or having the wifi drop in the middle of a session, assuming everyone thought I was an idiot who had no business advising other people on how to use technology when clearly I couldn’t even get a Promethean board to display properly. Then I realized teachers didn’t think it was ME wasting their time; they thought it was the technology itself. They had given up on trying to make it work, and my failure just reconfirmed their perception that technology is a huge pain that's not worth using.

That’s when I shifted my outlook: I embrace the tech failure. Expect it. Plan for it. Take away its power to catch me off guard. Nothing works right 100% of the time. If you allow yourself to get irritated over technology mishaps, you’re either going to be frustrated all the time, or stop using it. Number two would be a tragedy, because once you get past the learning curve or tech glitch, the stuff that happens is powerful. Technology can connect students with people, ideas, and information all over the world in mind-boggling ways. It can deepen their understanding of important concepts and give them authentic opportunities to practice skills that we can’t possible replicate otherwise within our four walls. It is ubiquitous and cannot be ignored.

Remind yourself of the power of technology so you’ll be able to summon the energy to give it another shot. Have a back-up plan, and make it a good one so you’re not so annoyed about having to drop your lesson. You can prepare a couple of general activities that can be used anytime throughout the school year when your regular lesson is cut short. Assign a few tech-savvy kids to be your in-classroom IT support; they can help troubleshoot the machines and research solutions. Use your tech problems to model problem solving for the kids and be an example of how to respond when life doesn’t go your way–you’ll be equipping them to handle their own tech problems and respond with resiliency and determination in the face of setbacks. When our students encounter something that is difficult or frustrating, we encourage them to push through it. We tell them keep practicing, keep problem-solving, and eventually their efforts will be worth it. It’s much more fun for us to play the role of “expert” in the classroom and not place ourselves in a position where we, too, have to keep working on something that’s hard for us.

Technology mishaps keep us humble; they force us to stay in the position of learner. And THAT, if nothing else about tech failure, is a good thing.

-- Angela Watson

The Awakened Devotional Study Guide for Christian Educators

Angela has offered to give away a copy of either or both of these books to one reader of Kleinspiration!

Here's how the contest works:  

Simply leave a comment below sharing a connection you had with Angela's guest post.  Winners will be selected this Thursday via  Be sure to check back Thursday evening to see if you won!  I'll post the winner on the Kleinspiration Facebook page, too.

You can have the print version or eReader (ePUB or MOBI for Kindle). 

Awakened provides simple steps to help you feel peaceful and energized no matter what’s happening around you. Drawing upon principles of stress management, cognitive behavioral therapy, spiritual truths, and personal experiences, Awakened helps you develop thought habits that produce an unshakeable sense of contentment, motivation, and purpose. Learn how to renew your mind and take a fresh approach to the challenges of teaching!        

The Awakened Devotional Study Guide for Christian Educators is the latest release (July 2012)! This workbook is designed to deepen Christian teachers’ understanding of the principles in Awakened, elaborating on what the Bible has to say about renewing our minds. For each Awakened chapter, this guide provides an opening reflection, devotion, further scripture reading, application questions, “to do” challenge, and a prayer that invites God to help you in applying the principles to your life. Click here to get a special discount on both books together.

Congrats # 3 - Marie Claire Please contact me at: 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

@ABCyaGames Fun Math Fact Shoot Out!

Math Fact Shoot - Out Game to Practice Math Facts

ABCyaGames has many games for many grade levels.  I love to feature fun activities from their site.  Every time I prepare a post for ABCya, my kids come running up to the computer.  They love the sounds of the games and the bright animation bouncing off the screen.  

I recently found Math Fact Shoot-Out.  This game, like all game on their site, is super easy to get started and to play.  Once you click 'go,' you are prompted to select a level (easy, medium, or hard).  Then you pick the math operation you'd like to play.  Finally you choose your player.

Check out my game play...

{click here to play Math Fact Shoot Out yourself & have fun}

Disclaimer: ABCyaGames is a sponsor of Kleinspiration

Saturday, July 28, 2012

@MasteryConnect invites you to continue the social conversation - you could win an iPad!

 Mastery Connect reaches out to users to get connected, socially!

Preparing for 'back to school' time is an exciting part of the year.  Not only are we organizing our space, but we are also beginning to design our curriculum.  Much of this process involves getting acclimated to new tech tools we may have inherited over the summer.  While some of us open a new gadget, others may practice a new web tool.  If you haven't checked out MasteryConnect as a new web tool, I highly recommend exploring the potential this site has to offer.

Win an iPad courtesy of MasteryConnect:

MasteryConnect is not only a great web tool to explore, they're also offering a chance for teachers to WIN an iPad simply by connecting, socially.  In their most recent newsletter, they stated...

"At MasteryConnect, we love hearing the success stories of teachers and administrators who are cultivating Professional Learning Communities all across the country.  We're always excited to check out your timeline, read the gems you've tweeted, and pour over the pins you've collected.

To continue the conversations we have started, we want to expand our networks.  Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or follow us on Pinterest.  If you connect with us on any of the three platforms by August 12, you'll be entered in an drawing to win an iPad!"

That's it... follow MasteryConnect on Facebook, Twitter, & Pinterest to Win an iPad!

To see the full contest on MasteryConnect, click here to connect to their site.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Award Winning Children's Author, Maria Dismondy, invites bloggers & teachers to connect!

Maria Dismondy invites bloggers to Link Up and get Connected!

I'm hosting a Michigan Meet-Up with Kimberly and Maria this Sunday, and we'd love to have you join us for coffee and conversation!  Teachers from all across Michigan are gathering at the Biggby Coffee in Northville.   Please click here and rsvp so we have an approximate head count.

Be The Difference

Maria also hosts two Linky Parties:
click here to link up

*You can get the special badges below for your site ~ click here for the cute options*

The first is Make a Difference Monthly. Bloggers can link up all month long about an idea on how they teach a specific character trait. In one month alone, she had twenty bloggers link up with ideas, videos, books, songs, etc. to teach respect. She would love to get more participants since this is a great resource for both families and teachers to find ways to incorporate character education into the home/classroom.

The second is  Things I Love Thursdays. This linky party occurs weekly, every Thursday.  Bloggers can link up about a product they enjoy. It's a great break from daily blogging about the same old stuff!

More can be found out here:

From Evernote to Dropbox - see how to use these resources and more as powerful research tools!

Web 2.0 Tools in Education Series
Research Tools: A Quick Guide

Wouldn't it be nice if there was a resource that explained, in detail, everything you needed to know about research tools for education: what tools were available, how to sign up, getting started, etc.?

Research Tools
click here to download the free e-book 

Luckily, Dr. Mohamed Amin Embi (a brilliant mind) has been developing an educational series of web 2.0 tools.  Now, we can all get more comfortable with the language of the researching tools we may have been avoiding.  This e-book is available for free through Scribd.  You can view it online for free, download it for a cost, and even print a copy to organize in a binder (Scribd members). 

Web 2.0 Research Tools - A Quick Guide

For this great resource and more, follow on!

@MindMaple is hosting a contest for creative teachers to win a $250 gift card from Amazon!

MindMaple if offering Creative Teachers $250 from Amazon!

MindMaple is an awesome sponsor of Kleinspiration, and I'm happy to tell our readers that they're offering a great contest where the winner will receive a $250 gift card from Amazon!  Their software is very easy to use.  Plus, it's fun creating mind maps!

I recently did a post on the MindMaple map my daughter, Riley, created on Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse.  Riley will be in third grade in September.  Below, you can see the map she created.

Now, until September 1, you can submit a map of your own as an entry to win the contest.  The winner will be announced on September 3.  It's super easy to enter...

Enter to Win $250 for Amazon purchases from MindMaple:
click here to see the contest

1.  Sign up for MindMaple: click here for the free Lite version and here for the full version ($9.99)
2.  Make a MindMaple Mind Map of your Favorite Book (just like Riley did)
3.  Email your Map to:
4.  Like MindMaple on Facebook - click here

{click here and scroll down to see the last MindMaple winner}

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

@Mentor Mob - Create & Browse Playlists: Great Tool for Flipping your Class!

MentorMob: a VIP Version of your Internet

MentorMob is a free site that allows you to browse content to use for lessons or professional development.  You simply view playlists (a bunch of files/sites put together into one strand) or create your own playlists.  At first, I just used the browse feature to see what other people were creating.  Then, I began to grow more confident thinking I could develop my own playlist.  

To view a playlist:

Once you have found a playlist you'd like to see further, just click on it.  At this point, you have two options: you can click the big next arrow at the top of your screen or hover your mouse to the left of your screen to expand a table of contents for the playlist.

Sounds fun, right?  Guess what... you can embed these nifty playlist right into your site:

Create your own Playlist on MentorMob!

You can add these playlists into your Edmodo site, ClassConnect account, class blog, etc ~ sweet!
Additionally, the MentorMob site makes it super easy to share your playlists via Google+, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn since they're all integrated into the platform. 

To create a playlist

You do have to set up an account to create content (but not to view).  No worries though, you can sign up by using your G'Mail or your Facebook username.  It look me less than four seconds.

Once you're logged in to MentorMob, click create at the top.  You can enter content by: pasting in a link (which is all I did), uploading a file, or adding a quiz (I tried this feature, too).  I threw the lesson below together in about 8 minutes.  I knew I had an Educreations lesson I made already created.  So, I decided to do a place value playlist to show as my example.

I thought I'd start my playlist with an animated segment from Scholastic's Study Jams to serve as my anticipatory set.  Then, I wanted to add my actual lesson.  I added my Educreations clip on place value (lesson 10.8 from Everyday Math).  After that, I added a fun game (Base Ten Bingo) from ABCya Games.  You can have the kids play this on your interactive white board or on the computer.  My final (4th) step is a brief 4 question quiz ~ it's fun... you should try!  This was very easy to create.

Create your own Playlist on MentorMob!

I now have many options for my playlist:
  • leave the playlist/lesson for a substitute
  • flip my classroom
  • post on my class site
  • add to Edmodo
  • share in my e-Newsletter
  • save as public to collaborate with other colleagues
  • have kids view it in centers (like a 'new' webquest)
  • send home via email to parents when kids are absent
Yes, I'm quite excited about the many, many possibilities.  Plus, I have a new hobby ~ creating playlists!  My former middle school students would have loved creating playlists.  Imagine allowing students to create content?!?  #LoveIt

I recently had the pleasure of visiting the MentorMob team in Chicago.  I met Eric and Vince out in California at #ISTE12 this summer.  We first hung out at the Social Ed Con gathering.  Then, Vince and I both gave an Ignite Talk.  We even watched our friend, Eric, from ClassConnect jump in a pool (fully clothed) and sing karaoke during the Edutopia VIP event.  When I flew back to my parent's home in Chicago, I took a trip to visit my new friends.  My daughter, Riley, joined me (of course, American Girl IS in Chicago!).  It was a pleasure getting to meet the team.  They're all so incredible, charming, sweet, and informative.  It was like joining a group of friends I've known for years when I arrived in their office.  They were all so nice to Riley and I.  We loved meeting everyone ~ thanks MentorMob!

Collaborate with Colleagues to Create Content

Free & Accessible to the World!

Give-Away: GeoSafari Jr. Talking Bug Net!

GeoSafari Jr. Talking Bug Net Give-Away!

I was so excited when Educational Insights offered me a few choices for a give-away.  I typically select products that fit a second grade audience because I teach second grade and my daughter is seven (tomorrow she turns eight!).  However, when I saw the talking bug net, I had to pick it for my four year old son, Jacob. 

Technology for Tiny Hands

Jacob LOVES playing with his bug net.  He's learning so much, too!  The bug net has sensors that detect what bug is placed in the net, so it can tell you fun facts about each bug.  After you learn about the bugs, you can quiz yourself.  The audio from the net will ask questions about each bug.  To answer, you simply place the bug inside the net.  You'll be informed if you need to try again or if you're correct.  It's amazing!

See how cool the talking bug net is...

Honestly, I have learned so much about bugs from playing with Jacob.  Even though I thought this would be better suited for Jacob, my daughter, Riley, enjoys playing with it just as much!

Jacob is now my little bug expert ~ he loves spotting out bugs as we're walking outside.  He feels so proud when she shares his expert knowledge with others.  I love his little smile!

You can win your own bug net, too!  This would be great for a discovery or science center!

- a $29.99 value - 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Teaching History through Story -Telling: The Pilgrim Adventure (with free teaching unit)

I've always enjoyed a good story that explains history as if you're living it in the current time.  Susan Kilbride, a home educator, realized that teaching history by telling stories of the people who lived it was quite powerful.  Thus, Our America... The Pilgrim Adventure was written.  

This series is a fun way to help teach children about history.  I've also found that incorporating content area text into language arts is a great way to integrate the standards in a cross-curricular manner.  This book is best suited for ages 10 and up. 

Book Summary:
Finn and Ginny's parents are lost back in time, and the two young twins have decided to go back to early America to find them.  Their search takes the twins to the Mayflower where they discover tat the Pilgrims had far more adventure than they had ever realized.

This first book in the Our America series is designed to teach the real story of the Pilgrims in such a fun way that the reader won't even realize that it's educations.  The Pilgrim Adventure is based on actual accounts written by the Pilgrims themselves, and kids who read the is book will find that by the end of the story they may know more about the Pilgrim's adventures than their parents do.  

Tina from

My 11 year old son, who has no desire to learn from a textbook about the pilgrims and memorize boring dates, eagerly read “The Pilgrim Adventure.”  A living book, “The Pilgrim Adventure”  combines real facts with some fiction to make the subject more appealing.

Free Companion Unit Study to The Pilgrim Adventure:
On Susan's site, she has resources to support her books.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Beautiful Classroom Design Themes from Schoolgirl Style & a super give-away!

The cutest classroom themes by Schoolgirl Style

Melanie is the magnificent designer behind Schoolgirl Style.  She's a friend of mine right here in Michigan, and I'm so fortunate to have connected with her to offer Kleinspiration readers one of the best give-aways ever!  Melanie is one of the most creative and crafty people I know.  I admire her attention to detail and the way she so elegantly incorporates the necessities of teaching without sacrificing quality design. 

Melanie's newest classroom theme is "Camp Learn A Lot;" however, she has several selections within her classroom design portfolio for the winner to select.  One lucky reader will be able to choose an entire theme from Schoolgirl Style - so, YES, my friend... you will be ready to kick off the school year in complete style!

What I really admire about Melanie's designs are the way they enhance the existing environment without completing the space prior to the children arriving.  As a second grade teacher, I really enjoy when the kids arrive in the fall.  I intentionally leave parts of my classroom unfinished so that they can have ownership in helping to design and complete the space we will all share throughout the year.  I appreciate how Melanie's designs reflect this idea.  Her themes allow a teacher to lay the foundation, or framework, of the classroom so that the environment is inviting and comfortable but still allow for the learning community to add their personal touch regarding the space design.  

As the winner, which theme will you select to design your classroom space?

*click each image to see the full design set and materials*

Camp Learn A Lot:

Animal Adventure Collection:

Primary Apple Theme:

 Apple Theme:

Happy Honeybee Collection:

Garden Party!

The Rainbow Collection:

The Owl Collection:

Polka Dots & Dasies:


 Rockstar Theme:

Gingerbread Party!

Happy Halloween!

Bird Theme:

Carnival Theme:

Enter the amazing give-away below & be sure to check out Melanie's site!

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