Friday, December 10, 2010

Amazing Attendance at Bethany Middle School Evening Winter Concert

I was blown away last evening by the number of parents, siblings, relatives and friends that attended the winter concert. There was a bit of delay at the beginning because the bleachers, usually reserved for the choir, band, and strings students (when they are not performing) were filled to capacity with folks who came out on a very chilly night to enjoy the performance. I have never seen a crowd as large as the one that attended last evening, and that is a great testiment to our wonderful music teachers' ability to be so inclusive. The numbers of students participating in band, chorus, and strings has swelled to monumental proportions. Amazing! Here is a shot of the choir. I had to go to the very back of the gymnasium in order to fit its expanse into the capacity of my wide-angle lense. Go Amity! Go Arts!

Rich DiGirolamo -- Recess at Work (from Lunch Time Leaders Podcast)

One of our parents teaches social studies in Wallingford, CT. For a few years now, he and selected students have taken their lunch breaks to connect with leaders and experts in their community and beyond. What a great experienc it is for his students to prepare questions and interview such a variety of interesting individuals.
I recently listened to their latest interview with a motivational speaker. It is well worth the 20 minutes. The interviewer was well-prepared, and Mr. DiGirolamo's responses were specific, useful, and inspirational. I hope you will take a few minutes to visit the site. I'm glad I did. It would be nice it these students had a wider audience. Ted Talks are great; these interviews come close!

Rich DiGirolamo -- Recess at Work

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Very "Gleeful" Winter Concert

I am staying late at school today in order to attend an encore performance of our middle school's holiday concert. Under the direction of Rob Fragione, band; Lisa Serio, strings; and Brennan Orie, chorus, well over 50% of the student population is involved in performing in and/or producing this wonderful, entertaining event. When I first entered the auditorium this morning to take pictures, I wondered why nearly all the folding chairs were empty. It was because most of the kids who were performing in the concert were seated on the bleachers, ready to take their places on (or in front of) the stage when called. Here is a picture to illustrate my point:

The concert was comprised of wonderful band numbers, string pieces, and choral pieces - many inspired by the hit television series "Glee." There were also short skits and a video interlude which morphed scenes from Glee into scenes shot at BMS with our own talented youngsters,

Even though I saw the performance this morning, I like to support the kids by attending the evening presentation. They are usually all dressed up and shining for their moms, dad, siblings, and other friends and relatives. It's a really festive, feel-good time, and it's worth spending over a 12-hour day at school.
I got some really good photos this morning, and while I'll take fewer this evening and mainly sit back and enjoy the concert, I know I'll be tempted to raise the camera to capture a few more.

Here is an accidental shot I took this morning. It has not been PhotoShopped at all. I was capturing the kids as they filed down to assemble in front of the stage, and just as I pressed the shutter button, someone stepped in front of the camera. It wasn't until I downloaded the pictures that I saw what an amazing picture I'd captured. Perhaps the "ghost" of Christmas past, present, or future really exists and was in attendance.

I also want to mention the talents of our wonderful faculty who participated in the concert making it even more a family affair - Brian Goldstein on drums and Cornell Bialicki on the keyboard. What great additions to our arts program. Thank goodness the Amity District offfers such strong support for the Arts.
Oh, we are also having a book fair in the media center organized by our wonderful media specialist, Faith Miller. I'll probably shoot a few pictures to capture that as well.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Another example of using "Go Animate"

Well, our first grade buddies are showing up tomorrow, and the kids will be using the program to create a "get-to-know-you" dialogue between themselves and their buddies. I decided to try one more animation that might serve as a model for the kids. Since I'd already created my one free character, I had to use the two free stock characters supplied for me. I think it came out pretty well. Thanks to our media specialist for researching this web 2.0 tool and making a direction sheet for us to follow. exciting news by cstanley4

Like it? Create your own at It's free and fun!


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving via GoAnimate

Here's a lame little video I produced using GoAnimate. Mrs. Miller, our media specialist,  recommended this program for the kids in the sister-school project. The selected students will be using this program next week to create a dialogue between themselves and their elementary buddies. It will be fascinating to see what they come up with. Happy Thanksgiving by cstanley4

Like it? Create your own at It's free and fun!

Enjoy, and have a great holiday!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Time Flies

I can't believe it's been a month since my last post. I am going to have to schedule a time to update this blog on a more regular basis before the number of things I want to share becomes unwieldy.
I have been playing around with an on-line video editing app called jaycut, recommended by Steve Dembo from Discovery Education. In attempting to string together some clips from a recent Taekwondo assembly at our school, I found that Windows Live Movie Maker - used with Windows 7 - just didn't work well on my classroom computer. My teaching computer is about 5 years old. It was upgraded to Windows 7 this fall, and while most applications work well, there just wasn't enough memory for Windows Live Movie Maker to do the job. In Jaycut, I got the clips assembled, but I'm still having trouble getting the transitions to show up as part of the rendered video. I also need to figure out how to add title and credit slides. The basis services on the site are free, and it does allow you to download the movies you create, so that's a plus.

Today, one of our science teachers brought her students to the lab to play with Our media specialist had introduced her to the program, and she decided to have some of her students give it a try. I had heard of the program, but never played with it. Since our media specialist thought it was an easy animation program, I decided to experiment.

Our staff is adopting the practice where we don't have to know a program 100% before we give the kids the opportunity to use it. In fact, students are recommending programs, and we are listening. There are so many new web 2.0 tools available for kids to use in producing projects for their curricular courses that  it's hard to keep up with them all. That's why students as well as colleagues are such valuable resource agents.

Go Animate  is a really neat free program in which one can select a number of backgrounds and props, create a character, and type dialogue for the character(s) into a text area which the program then converts to speech. The kids are going to use this program to create a dialogue between each 8th grader in the program and his/her first-grade buddy from an elementary school in central CT. I am sure the kids will amaze me with their facility with animation. They always do.
Here are the programs that I'm experimenting with:

Saturday, October 23, 2010

DEN Tech or Treat Virtual Conference-October 23, 2010

Last Saturday, I attended the face-to-face CECA pre-conference sponsored by Discovery Education at Smith Middle School in Glastonbury, CT. This Saturday morning, while sitting in my nightgown at my laptop, I tuned into a virtual conference. There were a number of sites (not in CT) where educators were gathered together ( some in Halloween costumes) to watch the live steam projected onto a wall, but there were also hundreds of other educators tuning in from their homes all across the world. I did not plan to stay but a few minutes, but I ended up absolutely glued to my laptop as one presenter finished, and another began. I participated in the conference from 8:30 until 11:45 a.m. Then I had to force myself to shut down the computer and go for a lovely ride with my husband  through the beautiful fall scenery . We went to Lyman Orchards; my husband had a craving for apple cider donuts. Luckily, I care nothing about donuts, so I wasn't tempted to have more than a donut hole. The place was mobbed, and I was glad to see folks outside enjoying the lovely fall afternoon instead of sitting home glued to their computer or the t.v.
Anyway, getting back to the virtual conference, Steve Dembo moderated it. He is a man of amazing energy, but, as I said in an earlier post, he does not let his ego get in the way. He is a wonderful, enthusiastic educator.
The first session by Gail Lovely offered hints on "It's not the Technology, it's the Education. She went through a slew of wonderful resources. All of the sessions were recorded and will be available on the DEN site soon. That is great because I'll have to go back and watch the session again in order to digest all the great information. Of course, that is no substitute for being able to participate live in the chat, sharing your ideas and getting feedback from others in the room. Here is the address she provided with the links to her presentation uploaded to slideshare:
Next, Porter Palmer gave us "Out of the World Ideas for Showcasing Student Work."
This should be a very helpful resource to meet our goal at Amity to share more of the wonderful projects our students produce.
Finally, I was about to close the cover down when my hero, Whitney Mihoulides, our Northeast representative who encouraged me to become a DEN STAR, presented her session entitled "Digital Storytelling in a Web 2.0 World." Needless to say, she did a terrific job, and it will take me a lot of time to investigate all the wonderful resources she introduced us to. She introduced us to a brand new resource from Discovery Education on tools to help students tell their stories digitally. While it is aimed at K-5, there are many resources there which can be adapted for older students:
She also told us about Photo Peach, an online site where one can upload photos and tell a story through a web-generated slide show.
Well, it's nearly Sunday, and I'd best get to bed.
I hope someone reading this blog will find something useful. Please leave me a comment.
Thanks! and Good-Night!

Lingo: The coolest dictionary known to hombre!

I participate in a lot of online webinars, and I always learn something new to bring to the classroom from other teachers and technology gurus from all over the world. I always have a Google Doc open during the webinar, and I take notes and copy links into that document to reference later. Of course, time is often an issue. Tonight, I was scanning through my notes (over a year of webinars), and something made me click on the following:
This is an amazing tool. All you have to do is go to the site, type in any web address, and the page opens. When you click on any word in the web page, a box appears with multiple definitions for the word. As an experiment, I entered my blog address, and it was simply amazing. I got a definition - pretty accurate- for every word I clicked on. The only word I had a problem with was "fixed" and in "fixed" intelligence. It did not give me the definition to fit that context, but it did give several other definitions.
When I closed the web page and went into lingro again, it told me the history of the clicks I'd made on the page and generated a list of words I'd clicked on. That's all I had time for, but I suspect it will do much more, including translation. Give it a try. Just think, we could upload any document a student needed to read to Google Docs, and then plug the web address of that document into lingro, and the student could have an annotated copy of the text with definitions of unfamiliar words available at a click.

Discovery Education at Bethany Middle School

Thanks to Warren Gohsler, all of the students in our middle schools have been uploaded to the Discovery Education Database. That means that our students have access to their Discovery Student Centers from home.There they can view any assignments or media their teachers have assigned to them. In addition, they have access to a huge database of full videos, video clips, and associated materials on a number of different topics of interest. Not only can they receive individualized instruction, but they are also free to be self-directed, independent learners. This past week, every 7th grader successfully logged into the network. They were given a few minutes to explore topics available on the site, and I was very gratified to get a "thumbs up" from most of the kids. Life-long learning rules, and it's not confined to the walls of our school. We are very fortunate to have a district that recognizes the value of putting tools for independent exploration in a safe environment into the hands of all of our students.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

What a Rush the Discovery Education pre-conference for CECA was!

 reposted from my DEN blog-
The CECA pre-conference at Smith Middle School in Glastonbury, CT, was awesome. I learned many new things. I can hardly wait to test the Smart Board media player with a streaming video. I did not know until today's session offered by Howard Gunther and Robin Metaj that picking up one of the markers will pause a video playing in the Smart media player. You can annotate right on the still clip and save that to a Notebook 10 file by clicking on the camera icon. Next, you click on the red x to get rid of the writing, put the marker back in the tray, and the video continues. That is such a neat feature. The session by Steve Dembo on 50 ways to Spin a Digital Story was also very informative. I learned about several new tools that I had never heard of before. I am most anxious to try, an online video editing tool. I also got more information on Google Earth and am encouraged to learn even more. Glogster was at the conference, too, and they announced that they are starting an anti-bullying campaign on their site very soon. That message needs to be spread far and wide.
Great bagels and coffee and juice for breakfast; nice sandwich box for lunch; great prizes to end the session; and the conference was offered for free. Who could ask for more. This is the second face-to-face conference I've attended organized by Whitney Mihoulides. I understand she has organized and managed another 16 in addition to the two I attended. She is amazing. Steve Dembo, who is in charge of the whole Discovery Education Network, is also an incredible human being. He's really a celebrity, but he's real people. I didn't pick up on any ego at all- just a real belief in his product and a great enthusiasm for sharing.
Could it get any better? Yes! I won one of the prizes. I got a small DVD player, a collection of Discovery videos including one on Nefertiti, a mouse pad, and a polo shirt with a Discovery Logo. Guess what I'm wearing to the CECA conference on Monday! My hubby and I are staying at a hotel in the area, and I've plugged the DVD player into the large screen TV in our room. The video (watching one on sharks, now) is awesome on the big screen. Thanks, Discovery for a really great day.
I can hardly wait to share what I've learned with my colleagues back at my middle school.
Finally, thanks to Smith Middle School for hosting the conference. You have a gorgeous school. What a nice environment for collaborating and learning. Oh, and  I can't forget to thank the Connecticut DEN Leadership Council who helped organize and run the conference. Great job, guys! Love your blog.

Learning so Much at the Discovery Education preCECA Conference

It's Saturday, October 16, and I'm at Smith Middle School in Glastonbury, CT. It's a beautiful Saturday, yet I and over 100 educators are attending various workshops on Discovery Education and how it beautifully interacts with SmartBoard and dozens of Web 2.0 tools. It's an exciting day charged with excitement, and I'll report out on some of the things I learned in another post. Thanks so much to Discovery Education and the Connecticul Council for such a wonderful learning experience.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Discovery Streaming on the iPad

Here is a link to the Discovery Education Streaming portal available on the iPad through the Safari browser. I really believe that having this available will inspire any students lucky enough to have access to an iPad to extend their learning outside the classroom.

Of course, Discovery Education Streaming is also avaliable on their home computers and laptops, as well. Things are in place, and soon all of our students will have the ability to log into their own personal learning center at Discovery Education.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Playing with the iPad

Edited on October 16, 2010. Duh! iPad has a built-in microphone - I should have known that. I played with an app on the iPad where I talked to an animal, and he repeated what I said. Cute - but useful??? Then, our media specialist showed me a free app - dragon dictation - you click on the red record button and speak, and when you hit done, what you said is translated into text which you can edit - and then email, tweet, blog, etc. Now, that is very exciting and very useful! I could almost live without the camera.

I am so excited.I got to borrow an iPad for the weekend. Previous to this opportunity, I wasn't too keen on the iPad. It didn't support Adobe Flash.I was disappointed that I couldn't view my live webinars from Classroom 2.0, which are delivered through the wonderful Elluminate platform. That kind of soured me. However, after playing with all the other wonderful features, I'm becoming a convert. First of all, I found that some of the archived sessions of Classroom 2.0 webinars have been recorded and are available in Vimeo. The clarity of the chat and slides was great. I just read that Discovery Streaming is adapting so delivery of content on iPad will be possible. I was able to stream NPR live as well as listen to archived sessions. I looked at some of my videos I uploaded to YouTube, and the clarity full-screen was awesome. The iPad is very easy to hold. I love the keypad-so much easier than my iPhone. Google apps editing is coming. The fact that I can sit in my backyard and update my blog is awesome!Finally,I can't believe how great the battery life is. Is this going to revolutionize education? It is certainly going to help.It's a natural for kids. Actually, they do great on the small screens of iPods and iPhones. If the new generation of iPad gives me a microphone  and a camera so I can participate in conversations online and take and store pictures,I'll definitely find a way to get one. With G3 I'd give up my iPhone and use the pad.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day 2010

Well, Labor Day is nearly over, and it's been a very nice weekend. We have been back to school for an entire week, if you count the professional day on Monday. It seems as if we never left. Everything went quite smoothly, and we are fired up for another leaning adventure.
Anyway, I was looking at some of my  favorite blogs this evening and happened to click on Bob Sprankle's blog. He is a computer technology integration specialist at the elementary school in Wells, Maine. He was one of the main motivators I had for getting involved in developing a Personal Learning Network through webcasts, Twitter, and blogs.
His most recent post was about his "Summer at Yale." He hadn't actually been in New Haven, but he had found a whole course offered free from iTunesU on the Civil War taught by Yale Professor David Blight. Bob had downloaded the lectures and was able to listen to them at his convenience. Bob blogs: " All summer long, I mowed the grass with Prof. Blight. Took long walks with Prof. Blight. Went jogging with Prof. Blight. Drove to the beach with Prof. Blight. Most of the time, when one hour’s program ended, I went right into the next lecture, not having to wait for days as his students had to do when it unfolded in “real time.”

Bob offered a workshop on podcasting at a conference this summer, and he said most of the attendees of his session said their best "take-away" was the information on iTunesU.
Hence, I decided to share it in my blog. I hope someone discovers or revisits this resource as a result of this post. Happy Learning!!!!!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

It's All in the Mindset

Blogging is not easy for me. I read other educator's blogs, and I'm impressed by their deep and philosophical posts. Compared to them, my posts are rather shallow. I tend to report on things I've learned from those other teachers instead of waxing eloquent with my own thoughts. Oh, well - that's not my style. I do hope that the links I mention in my blog are helpful to others. Not many people leave comments, and it gets kind of discouraging thinking I'm writing for an audience of one - me. However, I do have a traffic reporter, and I know that at least 20 or 30 people are looking in a week's or maybe a month's time. I guess I'll have to be content with that. I am of the growth mindset, so I'm willing to take a chance and keep this blog going, if for no other reason than to stretch my own learning. That leads into the title of this post.
This evening I tuned into the Classroom 2.0-Future of Education webinar series. At least once a week Steve Hargadon interviews a person of note who has written a book on the changing face (or not) of our educational system. Tonight he spoke with Carol Dweck - Stanford University professor and social psychologist. Her book, Mindset-The New Psychology of Success - speaks to the "fixed theory of intelligence" and contrasts it with the "growth or incremental" theory of intelligence.

Basically, she is putting forth advice to parents and teachers to praise kids not because they are so "smart" but because they have worked so hard on whatever project they've completed which is receiving praise. According to Carol Dweck, those folks who have the fixed theory don't do well with failure and are hesitant to take chances. On the other hand, folks who've developed the growth theory deal better with failure and "are likely to continue working hard despite setbacks." There is no harm in praising our children/students as long as we phrase it correctly.
I am embedding a slide share that outlines Ms. Dweck's research findings.

Here is a link (dropped into the chat during the webinar) to an article in New York Magazine entitled "The Power(and Peril) of Praise. The article is interesting in and of itself, but it is also important to read through the dozens of comments from folks responding to the text. This is truly a collaborative world we live in, and I often learn much more from the commentary as I do from the article.
If you haven't participated in any of the Classroom 2.0 webinars, I highly recommend them. They are a great source of professional development.
Hope everyone enjoys the last remaining days of summer vacation when we have time and energy to engage in these professional development offerings.
Here is the link to the Classroom 2.0 archived webinars:

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Experimenting with Glogster EDU

One of the sessions I attended at the Discovery Education Spring Conference in May of 2010 was on using Glogster -an online poster creation tool. It offers both free and subscription plans for educators. Many teachers have had their students create posters in Glogster as alternative web-based projects for topics they are studying in school. Glogster provides a number of tools. Students can add graphics from the site or upload pictures from their local computers. They can add videos from YouTube or upload videos they have created. There are all kinds of fancy boxes where students can type information. There is even a application which allows you to capture your picture and voice (or just audio) from your webcam. You can also attach any type of file which will open in a separate window. There is a paperclip in the bottom-right hand corner of the glog that is the access to uploaded files. I took the embed code from Glogster and will paste it into this post. My glog is just an experiment to showcase some of the options available in creating a poster.

I did have a few problems. When I recorded audio using my webcam, the recorded segment cut off some of my comments. Also, somehow I had marked the glog as private, and I can't seem to find a way to change it to public.

Well, that didn't work so well. The Glog is too wide for the blog. If anyone knows how to fix this, I'd appreciate a comment. I'll paste the web address below, so you can view the blog on the web.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thanks to Paul Bogush- a fellow educator and blogger supreme

I met Paul Bogush through twitter. He is an amazing educator who waxes eloquent on his blog. My posts are much more mundane, but I certainly enjoy reading his blog, and his posts certainly make me think. I saw the word matching gadget from Free Dictionary on one of his classroom blogs and decided to add it to mine.
Here is the link to his  main blog:


We educators are so lucky to have the opportunity to reach out and share with other educators. So often, teachers are isolated in their classrooms, locked into 42 to 50 minute periods, with hardly a free moment in the day to connect with other educators in their own schools. Now we have the ability to not only connect with our colleagues in our own school but with dedicated teachers from all over the world. What a great way to learn, be inspired, and reflect on how we can become better teachers ourselves.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mrs. Miller's Bethany Book Blog

Summer vacation is nearly half over, and I haven't done as much reading as I would like.
I am anxiously awaiting the publication of the third book in the Hunger Games Series, Mockingjay.
I was just looking at Mrs. Miller's book blog, and she had added a couple of new posts. If you are looking for some good titles, read her current posts, and don't forget to click on older posts. She has an intriguing selection of books reviewed there. I hope to read a couple of them, myself.
Hope everyone is enjoying vacation!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Discovery Educator Network Blog-Den Summer School 2010

The wonders of our Discovery Education Streaming subscription just keep getting better and better.

Want some free professional development? This is copied from the DEN site:
"Who ever said summer school isn’t fun? Get ready for your school year with an amazing series of free professional development sessions from the Discovery Educator Network (DEN)!
DEN Summer School begins August 2. Click on any of the session titles below for more information and to register. All sessions start at 11AM ET."
Here is the link: (You may have to log in; I am not sure.)

Backyard Wonders

It's summer, and I am so grateful to have time to enjoy my backyard. The raspberry bushes started producing berries about 3 weeks earlier than usual, and I picked several quarts of them this season. Now, with the heat, they are pretty dried up. The birds are enjoying raiding the remaining berries, and we've enjoyed such a bounty of fruit that I don't even mind.
Speaking of birds, we have a family of blue-jays in our yard again this year. One of the fledglings either was pushed or fell out of its nest the other day. While she was learning to use her wings, I had the opportunity to get a number of pictures of her. And now, it seems she has a brother. Here is a picture my husband captured of the siblings getting a drink from the waterfall by my pond:

Their parents were not far away, and they were keeping a close eye on their offspring. Isn't this just a wonderful picture? What a treat!

On another note, I have to praise my iPhone and stress how this mobile device enabled me to share an ode to my backyard with my local newspaper. Jim Shelton, a reporter for the New Haven Register, has called on folks to report on "a handful of summer." I had ripped the invite with his email out of the paper, and it was sitting on the table in my garage. I was viewing the backyard through the screens on the back of the garage, and I got inspired and jotted down a quick description of how my backyard represents my own personal "handful of summer." If I had had to go into the house, boot up my laptop, and write my message, it might never have happened. However, since I had my iPhone right there, I logged into my gmail account, went to compose mail, added the address from the register, typed my blurb, and hit "send." I heard the familiar whoosh, and it was on its way.
On Monday, I taught a professional development session on the wonders of using our Discovery Education subscription, and while I was at school, my husband told me a man had come pounding on our door asking for Carolyn Stanley. It seems that Jim showed up with a small camera and asked to go into our yard. He filmed a video which made the electronic edition of the paper along with the piece I had written. How exciting to share and be  recognized. That's the power of 21st century leaning offered to our kids. That's what will keep education engaging for them.
Here is a link to the article at the New Haven Register online. You'll have to scroll down to see the link to the video and even further down in the article to see the piece that I wrote. Enjoy.
I hope you'll leave me a comment if you like it.

Happy Summer - I'm up late and had better get to bed.
This has been an exciting evening of learning and sharing.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

So Many Blog Posts Floating in My Brain

Oh, my.
I feel terrible. I have so many posts floating about in my brain that I never got posted into the blog. I especially want to add a belated post about my experience at the Discovery Education Network Spring Conference that I attended in Massachusetts in May. Watch for it.
So - just to get back into the swing of things, I am reporting on a webinar I attended tonight hosted by Steve Hargadon of He interviewed Heidi Hayes Jacobs about her new book Curriculum 21: Essential Education for a Changing World
Lately, I have not participated in as many webinars as previously, and I've really missed the collaboration in the chat with other educators around the nation and world. I had heard Heidi speak at a professional development session, but I did not get nearly as much out of that as I did listening to her in a video window in Elluminate and being able to comment on what she was saying in the chat. That made the experience much more immediate and engaging. This is really an aspect of education that we need to offer to kids. NASA does some webinars for students during the school day. It will be exciting if we can get our school signed up to participate in one. Ideally, we'll have each student at a computer, logged into the webinar, and able to participate in the chat.
The Classroom2.0 webinars as well as the Future of Education webinars are archived for later viewing, so they are a great professional development resource.
Here is a link to the archive page:

I hope everyone is having a great summer. What a wonderful time to refresh, renew, and have time to connect with other educators in preparation for another school year that will be here sooner than we can imagine.

By the way, I am keeping a daily diary of my summer 2010, just so it won't slip through my fingers.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Picasa as a Photo and Video Editing Tool

This weekend I bought my husband and me a new toy - a Toshiba netbook. It has 3 USB ports, a 250Gb hard drive, 3Gb of memory, and a built in webcam and microphone. I recorded a short (28second) video of myself with the web cam. The file saved as a .avi file - about 828Mb in size. I absoulutely did not want to take up that kind of space on my hard drive, so I remembered that I'd read in another educator's blog post -about PICASA - a free picture editing tool from Google that also works to convert video files from one format to another.
I downloaded the application from the web:
After I installed it, I saw some movie editing tools. I was just experimenting, so I clicked on a film clip icon, navigated to where that webcam video was stored, and clicked on export. It exported to a .wmv file - a format that plays nice with Windows free Movie Maker software, and it was only 28MB in size. When I played the clip in Windows Media Player, I did not notice any degradation in quality from the .avi clip.
I also played with some of the photo editing tools. Picasa is not PhotoShop, but for a free application, it give you some pretty neat options.
I will be experimenting with how Picasa works with other video file formats. Hopefully, it will be another tool in our arsenal for helping kids to download and work with video.

Oh, I figured out where I got the info about Picasa. It is on the Connecticut Blog for Discover Education Network. The folks who blog on that site offer a wealth of hints and information:

Be sure to check it out!!!!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Bethany Middle School enters the New Haven Register's "Decorate the Box" contest

Sara Frank's art classes have been busy designing the outside of a New Haven Register newspaper vending box. We would like everyone to vote for Bethany's fabulous design. Click on the link below, look through the entries, and vote for Amity Middle School.

If you are not registered with New Haven Register, you will have to register to vote by creating a username and password. Sorry! Sara and her students appreciate you going to the trouble to do this to make us a winning school.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Reading Is Magic!!!

Danny Magic is coming!

Mrs. Kazdan challenged Bethany Middle School students and teachers to read 1,000 books between March and April of 2010. As of April 26, we have read 1,308 books. The assemblies with Danny Magic will take place this Thursday, April 29. Congratulations to all. Watch for another post highlighting the presentation.

Here are a few of the "Reading is Magic because...." slogans the homerooms came up with:

Reading is magic because it opens a whole new universe in your head.
Reading is magic because it takes you to a magical place.
Reading is magic because it can take you ANYWHERE!
Reading is magic because it makes you smarter.
Reading is magic because you can live in someone else's footsteps.
Reading is magic because even when there aren't pictures, you can create a film in your imagination.
Reading is magic because it enlivens a dull day.
Reading is magic because it makes the world around you disappear.

Keep Reading, Bethany Students! You Rule!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Blogging From a Live Event

I am not very good at it, I guess, but I did give it a try at the Celebration Of Teaching and Learning in NYC on March 5, 2010. See previous blog post. I did not lug my laptop with me, so the post I entered was from my iPhone, and I find it a bit laborious to type a lengthy entry from that communication tool. In addition, the whole debate on multi-tasking and whether or not we can really do it well was debated in the audience. I know I have a difficult time, when participating in webinars, to really attend to the speaker while I am contributing in the chat. I honestly don’t think kids can attend to a “lecture” from a professor while they are checking email, facebook, etc. as seems to be the practice at MIT.Obviously, I had trouble blogging while attending the live session.

It was a real thrill to see and listen to Rachel Dretzin and Doug Rushkoff in person. I even got to speak with Rachel personally after the session. I want to revisit the video, which can be viewed live, at the following site:

I hope to make a video of my own and upload it to the site.

My superintendant asked me how I enjoyed the session, and I will paste some of my response to him here in this post. I would love for others to comment on what they think about the issues raised in the documentary.

I think we need to really evaluate the debate about the need for memorization –and how important it is to today’s students, most of whom have some sort of web-enabled phone at hand. Although some educational technologists dismiss the need to memorize, I feel we short change our students if we do not help them to exercise that ability to memorize (not for rote but for connection purposes).

In addition, the authors of the documentary focused on the segment where a student proclaims that he’s never read a book but gets the overview from Sparks notes online. I think even the most forward-thinking educational technologists would agree that a synopsis is not replacement for experiencing the original piece of literature. Then again, norms are changing! I don’t really know where I sit on this issue. Every school has differing opinions of which “classics” to read. I think student need to experience literature – even if they are forced to read a particular book by the curriculum for their class. Of course, how students discuss the book can be enhanced by technology. A teacher-led discussion should not be the only option. Using book groups, nings, shared reviews on line, fan-fiction blogs, etc. are just a few of many options available.

Finally, on the issue of digital citizenship, the presenters showed the clip of kids in Korea being taught (indoctrinated) in cyber ethics (top down) from the time they are very small. Doug Rushkoff questioned in the documentary whether this “top-down” method would work in the United States. It is clear that we need to teach this from a very early age. I haven’t had time to investigate, but I understand Carnegie Mellon has just made a curriculum aimed at k-12 available. Digital Citizenship most definitely needs to be an essential part of our curriculum from the earliest years of school right through and including higher education.

I have not even touched upon the whole issue of gaming and virtual environments that comprised a significant portion of the documentary, but that will have to wait for another post.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Frontline's digital Nation

I am at the Celebration right now listening to Doug Ruskoff and co-presenter right now. I am having a great time and have already made a lot of new contacts.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Celebration of Teaching and Learning

I'm excited. Well, I'm not really excited about having to get up before 5:00AM in order to get there on time, but I am excited about having received a free admission to attend the 2010 Celebration of Teaching and Learning at the Hilton Hotel in New York City. There are so many featured speakers and workshops, I'm having a hard time trying to pick and choose. I also love to visit the vendors - and maybe get freebies for my classroom.
I participated in the Seedlings webcast this evening on EdTechTalk, and Cheryl Oakes suggested I blog from the conference. I'll have my iPhone with me, so maybe I'll give it a try. I should take my laptop, but I'm just not into lugging it around with me all day. Anyway, I'll try to report out on some of the exciting things I learn.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Pleasure of Meeting Lihongyan

Today, I had the pleasure of meeting Lihongyan, a teacher of English in China, who has been visiting our school in Connecticut. She is a gracious,lovely lady, and we hope to be able to continue communication with her even after she returns to China.
She says that she has enjoyed her visit here and has learned a lot. She had a very good time and felt the staff helped her a lot. She would like to share her experience with the teachers in China. From here, she will be visiting New York City and then on to Washington D.C. before returning to China. I hope the weather moderates a bit so she does not freeze to death while sightseeing. The picture above is of Lihongyan, Bo Wu, and Sara Frank.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Exciting Video Projects at Bethany Middle School

Here is just one example of a claymation PSA project the students in Mrs. Saisa's classes are producing. I think this one is awesome, and the message is so important.
I hope to feature more great student productions on this blog in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Google Shared Documents

I had three young ladies in my lab this afternoon. They had come in to work on a script for one of their classes, and I watched as each opened a separate Word document. I suggested that they might like to log on to their amitybethany accounts and share one document. One of the girls had had more experience with using Google docs than the other two, so she initiated the document and shared it with them. They were sitting side by side, each editing the document and were quite pleased to see the document update as each saved a new entry. One of the young ladies asked if they could still work on this at home from their individual computers, and I said, "That's the whole purpose of Google docs." They were all pleased with what they accomplished and are going to let me interview them tomorrow on how it went when they collaborated from their home computers.

Even more exciting is the news that users can upload Word documents from their computers to Google docs - even files larger than 578kb, which was the size limitation previously. Now documents can be uploaded and shared even with a number of pictures embedded in the document.

It seems to get better and better. I hope we will not be disappointed in the future.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Discovery Time Starts Again

After quite a few days away from the computer, I opened my email this evening and started following links. I found my way to a blog by Michael Zimmer, a technology integration specialist at Hopkins Country School District in Madisonville, Kentucky. I followed a link in his blog to which he said English teachers were using with their students.
I created a quick PicLit and then joined in order to embed it here. It's kind of fun playing with pictures and words, and I'm sure the students will come up with much more creative products than mine:
PicLit from
See the full PicLit at

We'll be back to school in a brand new year on Monday. Let's hope our increasing use of technology in the classrooms will engage and inspire our students to produce wonderful work.