Monday, December 17, 2012

Zimbra: Away Message, Password Change, Back-up

Here are a few tips for your Zimbra account:

Create an Away/Vacation Message:

In case you will be away for the holidays and you want to create an away message, check out this post for directions:

Password Change:

Go to the following link: and select “PW Change” on the left side of the screen. Select “Update and change your current password,” and follow the directions.

Backing up Email/Calendar/Address Book:

Some people in our district have asked about backing up email. The file created by Zimbra when backing up information will be readable only by importing the file into Zimbra, or Zimbra Desktop. This means that you won’t be able to read the information if you open the file on your computer. The biggest reason for backing up the information would be leaving the district.  If you are still interested in backing up the data, follow these directions.

To backup email, select “Preferences,” then “Import/Export,” then under “Export” you can select “All Folders,” then choose the folders you would like to backup, then select “OK.” From the “Import/Export” screen, you may also backup your Address Book, Calendar, Tasks and Briefcase. Select the box next to “Advanced Settings,” and select the boxes next to the items that you would like and select “Export.”

The file(s) will be downloaded in a zip file in your Downloads folder.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

How Kids Teach Themselves

21st Century Learning...these buzz words can cause excitement for some educators, while others cringe at the words and run the other direction. Well, this post is geared towards the latter as a way to bring hope and encouragement.  It is possible to abandon the anxiety that some educators feel.    Thoughts of "I don't understand technology" or "what if the students know more than me?" can keep us from experimenting with tech tools in our classrooms.

Sugata Mitra, a Professor of Educational Technology in the UK, speaks in this Ted Talks video about his experiments in the slums and rural villages of India to discover how kids teach technology to themselves and others, even the non-digital natives.  I think that this can be said about many things, because children do not face the same type of fear that we do as adults and educators: the fear of failure.

So, how does this bring hope and encouragement to educators?  I think Mitra's studies remind us all that we should embrace childrens' freedom to try new things, whether we fail or not, because you never know what good can come out of it.  Don't be afraid of your students who know more than you do...but rather ask them to teach others (and yourself).  You can integrate it into a lesson and have them write about their experience teaching others.  There are endless possibilities...and remember, your fear of blowing something up by playing with an ipad or computer is highly unlikely, so go play and discover with your students the amazing capabilities of technology tools.




Monday, December 10, 2012

More on InstaGrok

As a follow up on my research tools post I came across this article about InstaGrok this morning.  It highlights how this search engine organizes information.  Here is the link to one of my favorite blogs The Last Back Pack. Happy searching!!



Sunday, December 9, 2012

Digital Citizenship Lesson Plan & Poster

Many of our students can be connected to the world 24/7. Digital citizenship is one of the necessary elements they need to learn to navigate the online world safely and effectively. As students access the Internet in our classrooms we have an opportunity to teach them digital citizenship skills.

As I reflected on my time working with students creating websites I realized there were many issues I did not address initially, leading me to do a lot of clean up once the students got started. One of these was having a student post her picture, and her personal information on the website she was creating for my class. Yikes!  Thankfully, I caught it quickly and used it as a teachable moment.

Instead of having to find out the hard way you can access a lesson plan that both introduces students to Edmodo and the expectations of being on an online community. The lesson revolves around five principles: communicating responsibly, reporting cyberbullying, respecting each other, giving proper credit, protecting information. The lesson plan is primarily for K-8 students, but can also work for high school students. You can access this lesson plan through Edmodo’s Digital Citizenship Starter Kit.

Edmodo recently promoted this kit by sending out free posters. The promotion has ended, but you can still access a mini-version of their poster through the starter kit. Our office happens to have an extra poster, so if you’d like to be a recipient of this please let us know.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Linda Yollis Nominated for International Edublog Awards



Linda Yollis, a 2/3 combo teacher at Chaparral Elementary, class blog has been nominated for several international Edublog Awards!  The purpose of the Edublog Awards is to promote and demonstrate the educational value of social media.

She is nominated in the following categories:

1.  Best Class Blog -  Mrs. Yollis' Classroom Blog

2. Influential Post - Mrs. Yollis' "November is Family Blogging Month"

3.  Three former students are also nominated. You can choose! :-)
Come Somersault With Sarah (4th grader/Bay Laurel)

              Jaden's Awesome Blog (5th grader/Chaparral)
              Miriam's Magical Moments (5th grader/Bay Laurel)


Click here to be taken to the voting page. Use the DROP DOWN MENU to choose a category and vote.

You do not need to sign up for anything to vote.
You can vote daily and on multiple devices! (laptops, smart phones, ipads...)
Only one vote per category per day will be counted per IP address.
You can forward this email to relatives or coworkers (if appropriate).
Daily voting end this Sunday, December 9.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Search Engines for Students and Teachers

There are so many search engines out there now that I have been wanting to put together a list of some of the best and most unique sites available.  Here is that list, but before we talk about the tools we need to address the research process. There is a difference between finding information and thinking about the information that you find. As teachers we need to focus on the process of thinking about what the final product needs to be. Student's need to know where to go to get information and how to use the information they get. Of course I love Google and all things Google! They offer some very powerful tools, but there are other great search engines out there that should not be over looked! Having said that the first one I am going to mention is Google and the Search Education Curriculum

The next is InstaGrok this one is an interactive tool that offers so much information on a subject take a look: is a visual way to serch the web. Users put in their topic and Oolone generates thumb nail websites that can be viewed

For younger students KidRex is a great search engine that has been developed by kids for kids.

WolframAlpha is more than a search engine. It gives you access to facts and data. It calculates answers across a range of topics including science, nutrition, history, geography and more!

SweetSearch is a fast search engine for students it enables them to determine the most relevant results from a list of credible resources, and makes it much easier for them to find primary sources. It also offers teachers resources on how to teach research skills, as well as subject specific engines dedicated to biographies, Social Studies. There is even a SweetSearch2day site that is a daily assortment of the best content on the web.


Friday, November 30, 2012

Free eBooks for Teachers


Teachers in L.A. County can access free ebooks through the LACOE ITO eLibrary.  These resources are accessible  for teachers to use, but not students.  However, teachers can download eBooks on any device and share it with the whole class.  For example, teachers with iPads can download a book and then project it on the screen to read as a whole class!

There are currently about 500 books available, ranging from elementary, teen, professional development and more.  They will be adding to the collection in the future, so get access now and more will be provided later on. Don't be intimidated by the lengthy step-by-step process!  Your first time is a lot of setup, but you won't have to do this full process the next time you want to check out a book!

To get access, you can apply online.  Click here to be directed to the LACOE website to get a library card.

Here are the steps to download an eBook on a an iPad or tablet:
1. Go to the App Store and type in Overdrive
2. Install the app and type in your Apple ID
3. A window will open and prompt you to enter your Adobe ID
4. Choose the option to create a free account with Adobe
5. Fill out the appropriate fields to create an account
6. In the upper right hand corner, click on "Get Books"
7. Along the bottom, click on "Settings"
8. Click on "Authorize" under Adobe Authorization
9. Type in the username and password that you used to create your Adobe ID in step 3
10. Along the bottom, click on "Get Books"
11. Click on Get a Library and follow the prompts to find Los Angeles county office of education
12. Tap on the star on the left of Los Angeles county office of education, which will make it a favorite
13. Go back to "Get Books"  and click on the library you just added to your favorites
14. Browse the books and click "add to cart" if its available.  Some titles may need to "place a hold" if it is not currently available.
15. Tap "proceed to check out" and enter your library ID that you signed up for previously through LACOE
16. Download the book!  You're finally ready to read!

For computers:
Download adobe digital editions

Monday, November 26, 2012

On the Horizon: Smartphones in Your Classroom

Welcome back from the holiday break, I hope you all had a restful, or at least joyful holiday celebration and break!


Of the things I did was find an app. that adds a bunch of fun and useful features to my phone. There are so many uses for Smartphones in life, and in the classroom. I was startled by the fact that the number of mobile devices in schools jumped from 29% in 2011, to 49% presently. Once enterprise wireless is complete at your school, students with Smartphones will be able to use them in class. To prepare, you can test them out on your phone and find the ones that you expect would be best for your classroom. A few are summarized below:


Student feedback and formative assessments:

In class polling/quizzes can be used to solicit student feedback and a formative assessment tool. One that only requires the cell phone to have text messaging capabilities is Poll Everywhere, and another that requires at least a web browser (most non-Smartphones are capable of web browsing) is Socrative. They claim it takes 3 minutes to set up and 20 sec. to load, complete the demo here. Or use the polling or quiz feature in Edmodo, students would need to have the app downloaded to complete this.

Sharing In-Class Readings and Handouts:

There are quite a few apps that allow for the storage of handouts, but do require that the students use Smartphones.

Dropbox, and Box allow for simple and secure sharing of documents. As does the Library feature in Edmodo.




Some apps can help with conducting and organizing research. EasyBib creates accurate MLA, APA, and Chicago style citations, the link for the iPhone is here, and the link for the Android hereEvernote, help students organize their research by storing web clippings, recorded audio clips and written notes. You can also create a Notebook that you can share with students. Your Smartphone can be turned into a scanner that creates documents using images with Genius Scan. Google Drive fka Doc.’s and the Google Search App can be helpful resources for research.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Classroom Management Tool

This week while I was visiting my usual schools I came across two teachers using a fantastic new tool.  The teachers are Andy Hedin and Debbie LaChapelle both are 4th grade teachers at Lupin Hill.  The tool was ClassDoJo a class management tool!  ClassDojo is an online tool that helps improve behavior in the classroom. It also creates and generates data on behavior that can be shared with parents and administrators.  When you visit the ClassDoJo site you will be prompted to sign up as a teacher, student or parent, it's free!  Once your logged in, the site will take you through a demo tutorial to show you how to set up your class.  There is even a demo class that you can use to learn with.  The teacher's that I saw using this tool loved it!  They had it projected on their screen during class time so students could see the entire class.

As you can see each student's name appears with it's own avatar, chosen by you.  When a student is on task you can reward them and a green circle will appear with a number inside the number is the number if positive rewards they have received. Check out Bradley Pitt he's been caught being good!  The same is true when a student is off task a red circle will appear with a number inside indicating the number of reminders the students has needed.  The coolest thing was that a sound goes off (different for on task and off task) that the kids can hear. "They immediately check the screen to make sure it wasn't them and get back to work when they hear it." Another awesome feature is that is can be run remotely using your smart phone or iPad.  This way you can be any where in the classroom and still be able to give out rewards and reminders when needed.  I have attached a video tutorial below to tell you more about this great tool.  Give it a try, remember it's FREE!








Monday, November 5, 2012

Edmodo’s Search Feature Finds Resources for Your Lesson Plans

The “Discover” feature on Edmodo allows you to search other teachers that are teaching the same topic, and posted lesson plans throughout Edmodo. All of the directions to use this feature can be found by clicking here. At this link you’ll find out how to add the resource to your Library, and share with others.

If you find that you are not able to use this feature, you may still have the old version. See the note at the bottom of this page to upgrade.*

There are 2 ways to search for resources for the content you are teaching in your classroom. Here are the notes from the Edmodo Help Center:

How to Browse Topics

1) Two ways to browse topics to get to the Topic page:

  • Suggestions Tab: Check in and then click on the topic you are currently teaching directly under the check in box, or click on “view the topic page”.

  • Browse Topics Tab: Type your topic in the “Search Topic” box and select the topic from the dropdown list, or click on the topic selection below the search field. Click “More” next to the topic to further break down the topic.

2) View the Topic page:

  • Who Else is Teaching: Top left of page, view other teachers checked in to this topic

  • Current Trending Resources: Left section of page gives you top publicly shared links in Edmodo communities. View how many times each resource has been downloaded by the blue +number at the bottom of the resource box.

  • Related Topics: Upper right section of page, click related topics to view topic pages.

  • Top Content: Most popular resources on that topic, based on view counts and added-to-library counts.

*If you have not switched to the new version you will need to do so to have access to this feature. You’ll know if you don’t have the latest version, because your home page won’t look like the picture below. Click here to find out how to switch to the latest version.


Friday, November 2, 2012

SMART Notebook 11 Patch - Update Today

SMART has released a Notebook 11 Patch, that addresses issues with orientation, Notebook not loading, the multi-touch feature and more. To update your software follow the directions:

  1. Click on the following link:

  2. Click “Show” next to “Download service pack 1 for SMART Product Drivers 11”

  3. Click “Download”

  4. Open the file

  5. Run the installation, and follow the directions

If you have not already completed a firmware upgrade, make sure you do so. Directions for completing this can be found here:

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Science 360 App

This free app provides one location where pictures, videos, and content can all be found at the touch of your hands.  The interactive information on this app has been compiled by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and includes the following features: