Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Quilts of Healing and Sweet Dreams

Inspired by the children's book The Quilt Maker's Gift by Jeff Brumbeau, Mrs. Saisa (literacy enrichment teacher) and Mrs. Mahon (health teacher) paired up with students in their classes to create quilts and pillows to be donated to the Yale New Haven Pediatric Center. Mrs. Saisa, for a second year in a row, has spearheaded this project along with teachers and students from Bethany Community School. This community outreach project which emphasizes the importance of giving to others, is a real labor of love. Mrs. Saisa and Mrs. Mahon, with generous contributions from students and staff at Bethany Middle School, spend a great deal of personal time gathering materials and organizing this wonderful service project. This year the project generated 23 pillows, 51 pillow cases, and 89 fleece blankets which will definitely bring joy to the children who receive them. I could not include all of the photos in this post, but the ones included will give you an insight into how much joy the project also brought to the creators.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Pic Collage for iPad and iPhone is really neat

I am cross-posting this entry from the entry I made on the DEN blog for CT.
Some students at my middle school had been asked to create a collage of family members as part of their Spanish unit on vocabulary having to do with the family. When they asked for help in printing their collage, I discovered they had created it on their iPads using a free app called Pic Collage. After downloading the free app, they were able to select a background and then add pictures from their pictures library, live shots from the camera, or pictures from a Facebook account. Once the pictures were added, they were easily able to size, rotate, and send them to the back or in front of other pictures in the collage. There were even simple editing tools for brightness, contrast, effects, etc. Once they were satisfied with their layout they had a number of options such as saving their masterpiece to their picture library, or uploading it to Twitter or Facebook, or emailing it to someone. Since they needed to print it out, they had mailed it to themselves at our school Google domain. Once the email was opened, the picture appeared. To facilitate printing, I had them right-click on the photo and save it to their network folder. They then opened it using Windows picture viewer – chose a size- and printed it to the color printer. The collages came out really nice. I am sure that app will be used for lots of school projects from capturing events during field trips to photographing student artwork displayed around the building and putting it together in a nice collage.
Inspired by the students, I created the collage show here using pictures I’d captured on my iPad at the Westchester Day of Discovery in White Plains, New York. Hall Davidson was the keynote speaker, but I also got shots of Cindy, Max, Whitney, and Leslie.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

No School at Bethany Middle School -oh, my!

I feel so bad for all those families in Bethany who had their power knocked out as a result of the freak nor'easter that hit New England this past Saturday, October 29. Because all of Bethany is without power, we have not been able to hold classes. Hopefully, power will be restored soon, and our family of learners -students, teachers, administrators, and staff- will be back and raring to go.
I imagine we will still have the judging of the best decorated lockers for Halloween. One of the students in Mrs. Habersang's Student Council group made a great poster advertising the contest.

Judging was supposed to take place on Friday, but it was changed at the last minute to Monday. Little did we know what lay in store for us.
When I left on Friday, I thought about touring around the school with my camera, but I decided to wait until Monday since some students were not finished. Little did I know that we'd not be in school on Halloween or the day after or the day after that. I did get one locker and some shots of teacher's doors, however.
 Mrs. Mahon's Room
 Mrs. Huitt's Room
Mrs. Kazdan's Room
I also did a poster for my door -using multiple layers in Photoshop. I think it came out pretty neat:
Finally, when I left school on Friday afternoon, I took one last picture of our fantastic, spooky tree at the end of the parking lot. It was hard to shoot because the sun was behind it, nearly blinding me. Who knew that 24 hours later, it would be covered with snow! I wish I had a picture of that!
So - a belated Happy Halloween to all. Here's hoping we'll have an easy winter - and very few snow days!!!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bringing Literature Alive -Examining the Scene of the Crime

8th graders recently read "The Landlady" by Roald Dahl. Because Mr. Dahl leaves readers to draw their own conclusion to the ending of this "grisly" tale, the English teachers gave the students the opportunity to finish the ending. One of the teachers set the scene for her students -and gave them an additional option of examining the crime scene and writing up what they think happened from the evidence. The students really enjoyed the exercise.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Fabulous Mural Adorning the Entrance to the Life Arts Wing

I've been meaning to post about this wonderful piece of art work that was in the making for the entire school year 2010~2011, but it's taken until now, the start of another school year, to get it done. Rather than recreate the wheel, I am pasting the content of the article that our own, wonderful art teacher, Mrs. Frank, wrote about the project, and then I'll put in several photos showing the progression.

Art News from Mrs. Frank
When students walk down the long hallway leading to the art room, they are greeted by a colorful and vibrant wall sized ceramic tile mural entitled
“Express Yourself.”
8th grade art elective classes recently completed work on a yearlong project. The students made clay tiles by hand and created figures. This is an activity which expresses their individuality and uniqueness. Some examples of tiles include reading, singing, playing guitar, baking, dancing, and playing sports. Some figures are ‘stepping outside the box,’ and oneis an astronaut flying in space. One student said her dream was to ‘paint the sky’ and she created her figure holding a paintbrush with swirls of paint in the night sky.
Students learned about the artist Keith Haring, and modeled their work in his style of bold lines, vivid colors and active figures in motion. Haring was known for his subway drawings, murals, and strong messages of life, love and unity.
This art work was funded by a $1,000 School Arts Mini Grant from the Jamie Hulley Arts Foundation. I would like to thank Judy Primavera for her encouragement and support throughout this project.
When I walk down the hallway to my room seeing this wall of color just makes me smile. I’m so proud of my students!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

My blog is visible again!

Well, that was scary. I have put a lot of time and energy into this blog even though I don't post everyday, and when I kept getting the error message that the page could not be displayed, it was disconcerting. I have learned from my son to check the forums when I'm having a problem, and that is just what I did. Come to find out there was a post from another blogger with the exact same problem. One of the responders told her to go to her layout tab in the dashboard of her blog and see if she had the blogrolling gadget because that was causing problems. I followed the advice, found the offending gadget and removed it, and Voila! my blog was visible again. So, if anyone has a problem with a piece of software or a driver for one of the devices hooked to their computers, or trouble with an online application, go to the forums and check for solutions. It is not always as easy as this fix, but it's a start.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Help. My page won't display.

I don't know why, but I'm getting an error message. My page displays and then says it can't be displayed . Why?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Featured Teacher Me! Really!

On Saturday, August 27, 2011, I was honored to be the featured teacher guest on the weekly Classroom 2.0 webinar which airs most every Saturday at noon EST. I have been corresponding with one of the founders and moderators of the site, Peggy George. She and a number of other fabulous educators (including but not limited to Kim Caise, Lorna Costantini, and Tammy Moore) host a one to one and a half hour webinar "dedicated to supporting teachers with resources and practical suggestions for incorporating Web 2.0 technologies into their teaching and learning."
Right at the end of the school year, Peggy invited me to share my story on one of the August sessions. Just a week prior, our own Megan Wilson (iPodsibilities), a special ed teacher in Orange was the special guest, and she taught the audience how to create eBooks. I was actually terrified to accept but equally terrified of passing up the chance to share my simple story of me as an evolving teacher who in small ways, combined with the rest of our wonderful teaching staff, has attempted to bring our school into 21st Century Learning. As I said in a disclaimer, there are hundreds of other technology integration teachers who are way more advanced than I am who could be telling their stories, but I would do my best to offer something of worth to other teachers. I hope I did that. Below is a screen shot of the intro about me and a link to the recording and all the wonderful links that the organizers, the participants in the chat, and I added to the blog.

Make sure to click on the link to the LiveBinder in the resources list. There are also tabs in the Classroom 2.0 LiveBinder to previous shows - including Megan's.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Wonderful Resources on

If you haven't looked at the site,, it's worth some investigation time. Educators find it particularly useful because they can upload a slide presentation they have created and then narrate the slides to share with other folks all over the world.
Since our district is moving to Google Apps for Education district wide- it's been piloted at the middle schools for the past 2.5 years- I thought this slideshare presentation by Liat Rothfeld would be of interest in that it gives a nice overview of Google Docs and Google presentations.  In it she also covers how to set up a personal Google account -which is optional. Users of will have accounts already established for them.
I have copied the embed code for the presentation, so enjoy.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Discovery Education Summer School - what a resource!

I can't believe it, but I actually attended every session of DEN summer school (live, interactive webinars) that ran from Monday, August 1 through Thursday, August 4. Each of the sessions was rich with resources and advice to help us become better practitioners who help students to discover the excitement of learning and the satisfaction that can be derived in telling and sharing their stories.
Of course, many of the sessions went a a breakneck pace, and I found it hard to keep up. Thankfully, the magnificent Porter Palmer kept everything on track and made sure that all of the sessions were recorded, so we (and others who missed the live presentations) could go back at our leisure and sample segments we wanted to review. The link to the archives was just posted recently: link to DE Summer School recorded sessions
Those were lovely summer days, and being tied to my laptop for 4 hours was a bit of a challenge. I even suggested to Porter that they need to build in a little time for "potty breaks." However, the new things I learned really made me excited to go back to school in a few weeks rather than dreading it. Also, the fact that I was able to set up my laptop on a table at the back of my garage, which is all screened in and looks out onto the back yard, really helped the experience.
In a future post, I intend to highlight four or five of the resources I learned about and then found the time to explore.
In the meantime, my thanks goes out to all the wonderful educators at DE for their tireless work in helping us become better teachers and learners and for offering such exciting resources for our students.
Also, thanks so much to our district for subscribing the Discovery Education so that all of our staff and students have access to thousands and thousands of exciting resources to use on personal leaning adventures.
Finally, I understand that our Middle School Science subscription (an add-on to DE paid for by the State of CT for all middle schools in CT) will be expiring in June of 2012. I know for a fact that our science teachers use this resource with their students and think it's terrific, so we all need to petition the state to extend the subscription.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Last Day of School for Students and "The Wave"

It has been a tradition for a number of years to wave the buses, carrying all of our students off to summer vacation joys, out of the parking lot. We broke with tradition this year in a couple of ways. Instead of standing on the pavement outside the lower entrance to the school, we went over to the green underneath the gigantic tree. Also, other years I had simply taken a number of still shots to commemorate the event, but the iPad makes capturing video so easy that I decided to film the event. Sara Frank kindly took some still shots. You'll see her in the video. I chose a couple of the still shots to display on our web page, but I uploaded the video from the iPad to my YouTube account, and I will embed it in my blog. I really like having the video - the sound and the motion capture the exciting yet bittersweet event far better than the still shots ever could. In all, the school year 2010~2011 was a very successful year for students and staff alike, and I heard a number of 8th graders saying how much they would miss the middle school and all of their teachers. That speaks volumes. Enjoy - and have a great summer!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Some times paper and pencil, crayons, markers, etc. can be the technology of choice

The 7th grade English classes recently read Seed Folks by Paul Fleishman. Not only is the book a wonderful story of how a community garden enriches the lives of all its participants, but the book is also rich in imagery. Each year, the students are asked to pick out a favorite simile or metaphor to illustrate. I have wanted to capture some of these student creations for years, and I finally got a chance. Of course, the technology of the scanner and the blog are what enables these wonderful creations to be shared with a wider audience. Enjoy them.

and this last one is my favorite: