Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thinking of a new book for the holidays?

Amazing Grades!
101 Best Ways to Improve Your Grades Faster

This past summer I was asked to contribute a chapter to a collaborative project that was happening worldwide.  Pat Wyman, international best selling author, has assembled experts from 13 countries around the world to add their best-practices for improving grades. 

I received the published hard copies this summer and have enjoyed reading the ideas shared by so many professionals.  I like that there are such a variety of tips and strategies shared that reach so many facets of learning.  

You can listen to each chapter and watch corresponding TED Talks and videos!

The book is interactive, too!  It has visual, auditory, and kinesthetic features.  On the first page of the book, you're prompted to download the free app at the provided url address.  Throughout the book, you'll notice many icons, similar to QR Codes.  These icons allow your smart phone to scan them for additional information provided by each author.  For example, some authors encourage you to view a TED Talk or a video that shows examples of their strategies.  By scanning your smart phone over the icon, you'll be instantly connected to the specific video the author wanted to share.  It's pretty amazing!

In the  chapter, "Balance Your Brain to Boost Your Grades," the reader can scan the two icon squares to view videos of the Brain Gym activity referenced in the reading.  No worries if you don't have a smartphone, the website addresses are always listed directly by each square icon.  So, you can just type it in to your computer.  Though the interactive components are an added benefit, they aren't necessary to the understanding of each chapter.  So, don't worry if you don't have Internet access.  You can still enjoy the wealth of strategies and tips within the book.

The book is divided into 8 parts:
1. Life Skills (17 chapters)
2. Study Skills ( 20 chapters)
3. Subject Area Learning Strategies (24 chapters)
4. Learning Differences (8 chapters)
5. Special Factors that Affect Learning (9 chapters)
6. Special Section for Teachers (13 chapters)
7. Special Section for Parents (7 chapters)
8. Planning for the Future (1 chapter)

Each chapter has an audio file that the reader can listen to.  Each author has pre-recorded their voice to narrate the chapter being read aloud so all individuals can read the book or listen to the book being read aloud by the actual author of that particular chapter. 

This book has something for every learner - the perfect gift for the holiday!

Some chapters, like "Visual Skills Needed in School: Do you have any of these symptoms," includes helpful checklists for students and/or parents.  Each chapter is brief and to the point, yet offers enough information to learn helpful strategies and statistics.  

My sister, who is visiting for the holidays, picked up a copy of the book while our children were in the kitchen making a pumpkin roll with my mom.  After flipping through the book, I caught her reading with deep focus on one section.  I asked her what caught her attention.  She replied that it was a chapter titled, "Conversations with a Doctor About ADHD."  The author of this section provided much helpful advice.  Dana, my sister, paused to share a few bits of information she learned from the chapter, including a question she's going to take back to her son's pediatrician.  Author, Stephen Guffanti, M.D. is a practicing physician, author, and parent.   Guffanti has ADHD and dyslexia. 

I'm honored to be included in this book with such amazing professionals and experts in their field.  

Special Holiday Discount for Kleinspiration Readers and Military Families:

I have a few copies of the book left from conferences and workshops that I hosted this summer.  In honor of the holiday season, I'd like to offer the remaining books at a special discount for my readers.  I have 21 copies of the book left.  I will offer the books on a first come basis. 

The book retails for $24.97.  However, I've created a special pricing button for readers of this post.  I'm offering the book at 25% off for a limited time through December  2, 2012.  With the 25% off, the book comes to $18.73 plus $4.75 shipping and handling.  

I'm happy to personalize the inside book jacket to individuals wishing to give this as a gift for the holiday season.  Simply click here to contact me with your personalization request.  

All purchases are through my secure PayPal account.  You can also purchase the book from my Teachers Pay Teacher store; however, the discount is not being offered through my Teachers Pay Teacher store.  For the 25% off, click the "Buy Now" PayPal button below to process your transaction.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

EdTech Start-Up @Citelighter is Donating Funds to Support Hurricane Sandy Classrooms

Citelighter is donating money for relief support to Sandy Classrooms

Many homes, schools, and businesses were affected by the recent devastation brought by Hurricane Sandy.  The team at Citelighter has decided to donate relief support to financially support classrooms that were struck by this catastrophe.  

Citelighter is an educational start up company looking for feedback from teachers to help shape their product they're building for students.  By taking just a moment to offer your professional feedback, Citelighter would like to thank you by donating to the Sandy classrooms on your behalf.  

{click here to take the survey - we appreciate your support}

In return for filling out their survey, Citelighter will:

  • Donate $1 per submission through to classrooms that were flooded by Hurricane Sandy (note: a friend of Citelighter has a classroom in Staten Island, where they will be hand delivering supplies as well).
  • Send your principal, boss, or friend a nice note detailing your willingness to do a good deed for a classroom in need and to help “Save Research” (please note that all your survey responses will remain completely confidential)
  • Enter you in a drawing to win Citelighter Pro for your entire class.

A note of thanks from the guys at Citelighter:

Thank you in advance for your responses, and for giving Citelighter a place in your classrooms. Please forward this survey to any of your colleagues and friends who are teachers so that we can raise the money to help fund this project do our part to help “Save Research.”

@edcanvas An Interactive Lesson Board!

Edcanvas: The one place to organize, present and share knowledge

I recently ran across Edcanvas on Pinterest.  After checking it out, it reminded me of a blend of a few different sites all rolled into one.  The concept seemed great: take your favorite videos, images, documents, and such to add to a single board in effort to have your content easily organized.  I had to try it out to see how easy it was.  If the user-interface was not simple to navigate, no matter how fantastic the idea was, I would not use the site.  

I was able to quickly sign in using my existing Google/Gmail account.  Users can also sign in via their Facebook accounts.  After logging into the site, I was prompted to watch a brief 38 second video.  This impressed me.  So often, I find companies have a massive tutorial system for users to learn from or their demonstration video tends to run longer than four minutes.  In my opinion, videos should stay within 45 - 90 seconds.  Here is the brief demonstration video:

When the video ended, I figured I'd throw a brief example together and see how this new tool could work for me.  I added a website, YouTube video, image, and game website.  I was disappointed when I went to play my canvas.  This is where you see your work come to life; your interactive board plays your content for you.  As soon as the game website came up, I was booted from my canvas.  While I'm sure this has more to do with the game site than the Edcanvas site, I was still frustrated because I use the ABCya Game Site a ton in my classroom.  So, I knew I wouldn't be able to add those websites into my canvas creations.  Frustrated, I decided to view a canvas created by someone else.

As I viewed this example, I clearly began to see the benefit these canvas boards could have for education.  To see the photosynthesis example, click here.  I like how the creator of this board included questions on the right side of the content.  When you push 'play canvas' on the upper left corner, you'll be able to navigate through the content.  This example has a variety of media included so you can see the potential of integrating several pieces of content.  

There are several ways to use this tool.  They mention the following: student assignments, flipped classroom, 1:1 environments, and presentations.  Regardless of your intention with the site, I recommend checking out a few of the gallery examples.  There are some nice boards already created by teachers for you to view and use.  You can click here to connect to the Edcanvas gallery of content (you may have to log in first). 

The more I play around with the tool, the more it reminds me of a presentation tool.  I use SMART Notebook, Educreations, MentorMob, and Claco to create many of my lessons.  This tool seems like another way to curate content and keep topics organized for lessons.  I only wish there was a way to embed the boards into a website or blog and to drag sub boards onto main boards.  For example, it would be nice to be able to have a science board and then layer your photosynthesis boards and other science related boards on top of the main science board.  I guess I'm always thinking of more ways to organize.  Lastly, the sharing and social features are nice, but I didn't see a way to print a board.  I might have missed this, so if it is there, it's not easy to find.  There are many boards that have printable files, like Word Documents or PDFs, but I couldn't figure out how to print the page.  So, if I wanted to use a canvas board another teacher created, I wouldn't be able to access the printable content.  If you've had experience using Edcanvas and have figured out how to access the documents within the boards, please leave a comment below for the readers. 

Update: from Edcanvas
 - thanks to Twitter -

One of the many reasons I love Twitter is the ability to connect, quickly.  Moments after this post went live, one of my dear friends, Lisa Dabbs (@teachingwthsoul) connected me to one of the co-founders of Edcanvas who had immediate answers to my questions within this post.

I'm happy to find out that Edcanvas does have printing options.  I figured they did, I just didn't find it quickly enough.  Thanks Amy for your prompt response.  Now users can have full access to any canvas they choose to borrow and use from the gallery of archived content.

 Amy, an Edcanvas co-founder, and Edcanvas both replied with additional information I had questions about.  I'm excited they do have an embed feature to share canvas creations on websites and blogs.  I'm excited to continue exploring this great new site.  I know it has tons of potential!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My 2012 Edublog Nominations #eddies12

2012 Edublog Award Nominations

The following are my nominations for the 2012 Edublog Awards.  My goal with this year's nominations was to nominate people who I did not nominate last year or to highlight a new site.  I wish we could nominate three for each category.  There simply are too many great and deserving sites and people to celebrate.  Regardless if you're in favor of the awards or not, I appreciate this time of year to discover a few new sites to try and people to add to my PLN. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

10 Apps & Sites for Digital Storytelling & more!

Have your Students Tell their Stories Digitally!

What is digital storytelling?

Students can tell their story in a digital manner the same as they would orally or on paper.  Digital storytelling is simply applying one's creative ideas in a manner that allows him or her to add multimedia (video, images, and audio) to their voice. 

Why use digital storytelling?

Using technology can be engaging.  We use a variety of mediums to tell stories in our class.  Many of our stories start out as oral rehearsals.  We tend to incorporate a variety of webs, outlines, fold-able templates, and graphic organizers to start our planning process.  Sometimes I use MindMaple and Popplet to brainstorm ideas.  Then we begin drafting our story using pencils and paper.  However, Google Docs and Storybird are a great way to have students draft their stories on the computer.  When we share our work, students enjoy the choice of creative outlet to express their learning.  This is where we use a variety of tech tools to support our publishing efforts. 

Which tools are best?

Personally, I like tools that are free and easy to use.  If a tool is great, I don't mind spending the money to access the paid version.  However, I've found that there are too many free sites and apps that are just as wonderful as many of the paid versions that do similar tasks.  

I often get asked if I prefer iPads or laptops.  My answer is always the same... it depends on the comfort level of the teacher, what the device will be primarily used for, and the age group that will be using the device.  In general, I've found that mobile devices (ie: iPads) work best for younger children.  The touch feature and size of the device is a benefit for primary aged learners.  As students get older, I do believe there are limitations with mobile devices.  Regardless of device, there are fantastic sites and apps available for each system.  

A few of my favorite tools for digital storytelling:
(the descriptions below were taken from the tool's site)

(available as an app and a website)
- yay -

Enhance your digital classroom with Animoto. Turn photos, video clips and music into stunning video slideshows which can bring your lessons to life.


Sonic Pics for itouch devices. Narrate your photos like never before, flipping to each image as you are ready to talk. You choose the timing. SonicPics makes it easy to make slide show movies on your iPod touch or iPhone.  
Capzles: Time Captured. All of your media, your life, your stories. Together like never before. Create rich, multimedia experiences with videos, photos, music, blogs, documents and more. 

Motivate students to participate. Improve message comprehension. Introduce technology in a fun way. Utilize Voki as an effective language tool in the classroom and create individual avatars.

Glogster provides a digital platform for students to create a multimedia poster. Import video (from a file or YouTube) or images. Glogsters are great for book reviews, describing important events in history, showing a detailed description of a novel's setting, displaying images and video from an engaging science experiment... Easy to create - Students love making them!

Storybird has become one of my new personal favorites. This free site allows teachers to create an account and invite students so that projects can be monitored. If you simply decide to allow students to create their own accounts, which is what I did, they can send you the link to their project. Students take ownership in selecting their illustrator's artwork and developing their written work as an author. These beautiful books can also be printed to share. 

(available as an app and a website)
- yay - 

MindMaple is available in a free Lite version, which is what I use.  Students can plan out their ideas and organize their stories by using this digital graphic organizer.  They love to add color to organize their thoughts and ideas.   I really love that this site is available on both the computer and on the iPad.  

The free iPad version allows students to create and edit collaborative mind maps with a user-friendly interface.  There are numerous features to assist in making each map unique and fun!  The app also has Dropbox integration for collaboration with ease.  Click here to download the app while it's free and try it out... the possibilities are endless.

PowToon is the brand new Do-It-Yourself animated presentation tool that supercharges your presentations and videos!  Simply drag and drop the designed elements into your slides.  Save massive amounts of time and money by creating Presentoons that bring the WOW!-factor to product demos, business presentations, social media clips, and much more.

PowToon wants to also make a difference in the education sector and our tool is designed to allow education professionals (and students) to create content that is visually engaging, captivating and fun to make.  

Meograph helps easily create, watch, and share interactive stories. Our first product combines maps, timeline, links, and multimedia to tell stories in context of where and when.  Click here to see educational examples. 

Authoring is structured into a few simple prompts on an intuitive interface. Viewers get a new form of media that they can watch in two minutes or explore for an hour. Sharing is easy: the two most viral types of media are videos and infographics ... Meograph is both.

This is the only tool I'm including in this post that I haven't tried.  I just found out about it and thought it was worthy of sharing.  I plan to give it a try soon.  I'm not sure if this would be best as a teacher tool or for student use.  I'm anxious to explore it further.

A Creative Learning app for the iPad that empowers kids to draw, animate, and narrate their own cartoons and share them with friends & family around the world.  Creating cartoons with Toontastic is as easy as putting on a puppet show - simply press the record button and tell your stories through play! Once you’re done, share your cartoons with friends & family around the world.  This is one of my kid's favorite apps.  Period. 

(available as an app and a website)
- yay - 

ZooBurst is a digital storytelling tool that lets anyone easily create his or her own 3D pop-up books.  Using ZooBurst, storytellers of any age can create their won rich worlds in which their stories can come to life.  ZooBurst books “live” online and can be experienced on your desktop or laptop computer, or on your iPad via the free ZooBurst mobile app. Authors can arrange characters and props within a 3D world that can be customized using uploaded artwork or items found in a built-in database of over 10,000 free images and materials.

Other great resources:

My friend Shelly put together an amazing slide show sharing fabulous tools and ideas for digital storytelling.  She has an amazing website at Teacher Reboot Camp.  Click here to visit her post on digital storytelling where she shares 20+ tools and additional resources for getting started.   I'm embedding Shelly's presentation below; be sure to check out her site by clicking here!

Assessing Digital Storytelling:

My kids often collaborate on the assignment objectives before we begin working on our project.  As we start our work, they refine their expectations.  We make anchor charts to determine what will guide their process.  They use quality mentor work to set the bar for their work.  We use professional mentors and student mentor examples to shape our perspective. 

When I use rubrics, they're often created by the students.  They discuss what they are aiming for in their work.  I like using RubiStar because it's free and easy to use.  Additionally, the site allows you to edit each box, or cell, so that you can enter the exact language your class developed for their project.  They also offer several prompts to help guide the process of creating your rubric.  You can use their examples without editing, too.  There are a ton of subjects and project ideas to choose from!

When you click on any of the topics, there are many options to customize your rubric for assessment:

When I taught middle school, I often let my kids develop their own rubrics to self-assess their work.  Each rubric was similar but had a different focus.  This allowed me to see what they wanted me to focus on when offering feedback for their projects. 

Here is an example I quickly put together for this post to show for digital storytelling:

Magic Santa Sends Personalized Video Letters!

Magic Santa allows your child to receive a personalized video greeting!

This is, by far, the best letter from Santa I've seen.  I was so surprised to receive a letter from Santa in my email.  My sister tipped me off that perhaps I should check my email (she had a feeling he'd sent a cool letter to my kids, Riley and Jacob).  I'm sharing with you the letter that Jacob received.  

Here is how it works... 
I received an email with a link.  I clicked the link, pushed play and the video began.

Santa opened the drawer for Michigan, where we live!

He reached into his magical drawer...

and pulled out Jacob's card! 
(you should have seen Jacob's face)

Then, Santa inserts the card into his magical machine.

Instantly, images of Jacob's sister and his family appear as Santa mentions how good he's been.

Finally, the machine sends out a special, magical, and personalized ornament.  

Santa hangs the special ornament onto his very own tree.

Click Here to Create your Own Magical Letter!

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Giving Thanks to Teachers Giveaway Day 3

Hi all!  Thanks so much to Erin at Kleinspiration for hosting me today!

We wanted to do something special for you all since it is the time for giving thanks to those we are truly thankful for and since I am thankful every day for my readers and my bloggy friends, I thought a fun giveaway was in order.  :)

We have teamed up with some super fun friends below who have agreed to help - yay!  Make sure to visit each one of these blogs on the date listed below their name to get your freebie and enter for a prize pack valued at about $40, which includes approximately 800 pages!  Wow!

The theme of the day is the Beach Theme!  Perfect for bringing the sunshine into your classroom even on the snowiest of winter days.  :)

First up:  A freebie!  Do you do quick formative assessments in your class?  I know we seem to be constantly assessing, but Exit Slips are a fabulous, fast, and painless way to see whether the students understood what was taught that day.  Or use them to preassess the next day's lesson too in order to plan accordingly!  Here are some Beach Themed Exit Slips to print, cut apart, and use the next day you are in school!  Enjoy!

Ok - I know many of you want to also get entered for the awesome giveaway below!  Remember, it is only open for today only!  Ends at 11:59 pm ET so make sure to get entered!

Here are the items up for grabs!  Worth $40 and includes approximately 800 pages (depending on which grade level you choose)!

Get entered below by doing as many or as few items as you would like!  It's up to you, but the more you choose, the more chances you have at winning!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck to all who enter from Kleinspiration and The Organized Classroom Blog!  See you tomorrow at The Lesson Plan Diva for Day 4!  I sincerely do appreciate you all and hope you will enjoy the 8 days of freebies as a token of my appreciation in the Giving Thanks to Teachers Giveaway!

Have a wonderful holiday all!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Perfect Pencil... old school tech!

Quality Pencils for your Classroom

This summer, I received a variety of pencils from the company at Pencils.Com.  My daughter used them a lot over the summer, and they were great!  However, I didn't realize how truly wonderful they were until the other day.  

Anyone who knows me well understands my compulsive behavior towards pencils and sharpeners.  I feel like I've been burned too many times with poor pencils and sharpeners.  I also get annoyed by the sound of the sharpener during class.  Plus, they're a mess.  I could probably write an entire post about my pet peeves regarding pencils and the sharpening of pencils.  I aim to run the most independent classroom I can.  My students have a lot of ownership of their space and their learning; however, I'd say the only aspect I am not comfortable with is letting the kids sharpen their own pencils. I trust my students, but I don't trust the cheap pencils and poor sharpeners. 

Pencils can be an expensive material for the classroom.  I get outraged when they continue to break or the lead simply falls out.  To me, this is outrageous.  Then, when you try to sharpen them... they grind down to half the original size.  What really bothers me is the 'fake sharpened pencil.'  This is the one where it looks beautiful on one side, but the lead is not exposed at all on the other side.  It's hard to get an evenly sharpened pencil. 

During writer's workshop the other day, I had several students request to sharpen pencils.  They had already used the two spare pencils at their seat.  I realized it wasn't the children's fault.  The pencils were simply breaking.  I remembered the gift of pencils I received over the summer and decided to bring in a few for some of my students to try.  Amazing!

I use the Forest Choice #2 Graphite Pencils in my class now.  I had to find the exact ones online that the company sent me.  Here is the link: click here to see the pencils in a pack or 12 for $2.95 or click here to see the pencils in a pack of 144 for $22.95.  I also found them on Amazon (disclaimer: I am an affiliate).  I encourage you to try one box - you'll be hooked!

We do a lot of writing in my class. The students draft amazing stories in workshop, compose thoughtful reflections in reading, and show the details of their work in math, so it's essential that we maximize our time on task.  Every teacher knows that every minute counts.  I don't have time to waste on pencils issues.  Though this may sound silly to some... I guarantee teachers out their understand my crazy pencil pet peeves.  

Other fun products and pencils...

When I decided to write this post, I checked out the website.  At first, I was overwhelmed by the mass amounts of pencils.  What an industry!  Then I recalled the variety of leads I had to use in my drafting classes for interior design.  A good pencil is a necessity... the lead is even more important!

For the classroom, you can find fun scented pencils like Caramel Apple, Coconut, and Bubble Gum.  They even have amazing colored pencils that come pre-sharpened.  I also like the variety of themed pencils they offer for nearly any occasion.  How fun!  Simply click here to view the selection of school pencils. 

The site also has notebooks, journals, planners, rulers, sharpeners, erasers, gift sets for young artists and more!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Pop Blends: a Fun Phonics Game for Centers!

Pop for Blends
enter the give-away below

Pop for Blends is a fun phonics game that is simple to learn and fun to play.  I loved that I could just take off the plastic wrapping, read the brief directions posted on the side of the box, and begin playing.  I couldn't wait until school to try it out with my students, so my husband and I actually sat at the table and played for about fifteen minutes. 

There are over 25 different blends and 100 total cards included in this game.  Additionally, there are two different ways you can play.  

Option 1:
- Place the popcorn box in the middle of the table.
- Take a popcorn card out of the box.
- Spin the spinner to see how many words you need to say.  For example, if you took out 'bl-' and spun the number 3, you could say blender, block, and blue.
- If you said a correct word or words for the blend or digraph, keep the card.  If not, place the card in a separate pile of "un-popped" cards.
- If you draw a "POP!" card, return all your cards to the box and remove the "POP!" card from play.
- Take turns playing until the popcorn box is empty.
- The player who has the most popcorn cards at the end of the game wins.

Option 2:
- Use the spinner to see how many cards to pick and say one word for each card.

You can get this game from Learning Resources for $9.99 - Click Here!

Thanks to Learning Resources, I'm also giving away a game on this blog!  
Simply enter below to win!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Scholastic: Common Core Fact vs. Fiction

My Interview with Scholastic
Common Core: Fact vs. Fiction

Scholastic is the home to some of my favorite teaching resources, and I'm honored to be included in their most recent edition of Scholastic Instructor.  The article I'm featured in focuses on the inclusion of expository text in reader's workshop.  

One of my favorite researchers, Nell Duke, states a surprising statistic highlighting how little non-fiction we tend to incorporate in our teaching.  I find that students are naturally curious.  My students crave non-fiction.  They love to seek answers to their questions and dive deep into non-fiction books.  However, I do find that we spend a substantial amount of time focusing on fiction.  I work hard to create a balance of literacy in my classroom. 

I'm quoted in the article stating how I incorporate digital media into our studies:

“We live in an exciting time where our information isn’t solely from thick textbooks but rather from websites, blogs, and magazines,” says Klein. “By introducing students to print-rich materials and digital media, we are shaping an authentic experience for the way they take in information.”

For the full article, please click here to read.  The piece explains why we should include non-fiction in our instruction, what informational text is, what does the Common Core call for, and a few great suggestions for putting this process into practice.  I'm sure you'll recognize a few of the fabulous teachers mentioned in this section!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

@MasteryConnect Partners With Solution Tree

Recently, our good friends at Mastery Connect partnered with Solution Tree to become a technology partner for their professional learning communities. This is very exciting news as it is a great convergence of connected educators, professional development gurus, and technology leaders.  The team at Mastery Connect was also very honored to present at Solution Tree's "Professional Learning Communities at Work" institutes this past summer. 

As the school year rolls on, many of us are looking for better ways to collaborate, share, and effectively manage our time.  Mastery Connect provides many great solutions to the struggles that educators face.  Mastery Connect is a learning community which helps foster mastery of the common core, facilitates discussion and sharing amongst educators, provides unique tools for tracking results, and has many, many more features.  

Below you can see a great video titled What Educators Are Saying, which includes and endorsement for Mastery Connect from Solution Tree's Rick DuFour.


"Thanks to MasteryConnect, educators can connect with colleagues throughout the nation to develop and share common assessments around the Common Core Curriculum. Educators can now extend their professional learning communities beyond their schools. This ready access to expanded expertise is exactly what we have been hoping would become available to educators." - Dr. Rick DuFour

To join the Mastery Connect community, click here

To learn more about Solution Tree, click here

Disclosure: Mastery Connect is a sponsor of Kleinspiration

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Introducing @LiveScribe Sky: the first Wi-Fi Smart Pen with @Evernote Integration

Imagine an Interactive Pen for the Classroom!

- Launching the World's 1st Wi-Fi Smartpen

I received the LiveScribe Sky Pen last weekend... before it officially launched this Monday.  It took everything I had to not post early about it, so I took the week off to redefine the way I originally planned on writing the post.

Originally, I wanted to share how amazing the tool was; however, after a lot of thought, I've decided to share how I'm using the tool in my classroom.  There are so many sites that are sharing the fantastic features of the pen (Mashable, TheNext Web, Computer World, and the Livescribe Blog) .  I thought it would be helpful to refrain from sharing what the pen did to how it could actually be used.

In effort to show how I'm using it, I should provide a bit of background for what differentiates this pen from regular pens and previous versions of the smart pen, like the LiveScribe Echo.  

In my opinion, the two major differences are: the new Sky pen does not have any wires and it automatically syncs your notes to Evernote!  This is a fabulous feature.

Creating Digital Portfolios was Never Easier:

I put together a ten minute video that briefly shows how the pen works and how I use it in my second grade classroom.  Towards the end of the video, I even share how my four year old son, Jacob, and I used the pen together to practice writing his name.  

Watch the video below to see how I use the Sky pen in my centers for 
Social Studies and with my pre-K son to practice his letter formations!

see how I use the pen - push play for the video above

How to purchase your Sky Smartpen from Livescribe:

You can click here to connect to the Livescribe site.  The 2GB pen starts at $169.95.  A good rule of thumb is that each GB gives you about an hour of recording time.  So, the 2 GB offers about 2 hours of recording time before you have to start deleting recordings.  Keep in mind that the recordings aren't lost, they're saved in Evernote!  I would recommend the 4GB pen for $199.95.  This is the model that I have.  For about $30 more dollars, you double your recording time.  You can also get the Sky pen from Best Buy and Amazon.

I look forward to taking the pen and notebook with me to conferences and workshops.  I get excited about the possibilities!  I'm even looking forward to sharing student work at conferences with the Sky smart pen.  As a parent, if I were able to view my child's work this way, I'd be speechless!  In fact, when I shared the work we were doing with one of my student's parents, she had to know right then how to get one for herself.  She said her family must have this for when her children go to summer camp to write letters to each other.  What a thoughtful idea!

There are also other ways to get a pen for your classroom.  You can set up a Donors Choose account or raise money through fundraising.  I'd love to hear of creative ways you would use this technology in your classroom.  Feel free to leave your comments below this post.

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