Monday, December 30, 2013

Stationery Studio Contest- December 30--UPDATE WITH WINNER

As you know, Stationery Studio is the software that started my journey with FableVision Learning so many years ago. I saw it at a conference and was blown away by how well-designed it was and how well-suited it was for elementary education. My elementary has a site license.

SO, I want to give away a copy so you can see what I found so fascinating. (You can also download a trial copy) All you need to do is share the Facebook post or retweet the Tweet for a chance to win.

Stationery Studio is on special until midnight on December 31, so if you don't win, you can buy your own copy for 50% off.

Here is what Peter H. Reynolds says about Stationery Studio:

Product Features
An award-winning, intuitive software tool for writing at the computer and by hand, Stationery Studio includes:
  • Over 400 curriculum-based borders & shapes featuring art by Peter H. Reynolds — including portrait, landscape, and envelope options.
  • 59 teacher-friendly classroom activities by Dr. Peggy Healy Stearns that support national standards.
  • An easy-to-use word processor, featuring all the basics — and none of the confusion.
  • Simple tools for customizing line style, line width, page layout, and more.
  • Ability to use all installed fonts and special dotted fonts to guide handwriting practice.
  • Multiple formats for printing activity sheets, awards, invitations, and letters.
  • Compatible with all interactive whiteboards and AlphaSmarts, including the NEO 2. All popular add-on packs now included!

Dave Tchozewski won the free license. Since he is an Ambassador and already has the program, he may donate it to whomever he likes. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

On Digital Citizenship: A Digital Footprint Lesson

I teach a class called, "Intro to Computers" which has both high school and dual enrollment (college + high school) sections. This term I was teaching the high school only section and I wanted to find a way to talk about digital footprints without be preachy. I wanted for kids to be aware of the mark they are leaving on the world.

I sought volunteers via my own Facebook and was overwhelmed by how awesome my online friends are. I had many more than I could use in the time allotted. I chose three college students (two the kids might know and one they didn't), two authors and a few educators.

The students were asked to look at the Tweets WITHOUT reading the profile (which I realize is hard to do). I asked them to describe the person with five characteristics based solely on their tweets. The results were amazing. 

The students then decided if they would hire the person (again, based on their tweets) for a variety of jobs and to give rationale (quoting actual tweets). The potential jobs were teacher, principal, and grocery store clerk. I also asked if they would buy the person's book if they were an author of children's books. Again, the results were amazing.

Finally, I took screen shots of tweets (and retweets) from the Twitter timelines of students in the class, obscuring the names, and we pretended that this was a fictional person named, "Brenda Bunch." (The associate in the room at the time is named Brenda). This proved to be the greatest lesson of them all. Here are some words the students used to describe "Brenda Bunch": "self centered, un caring, uncreative,un prepaired, not smart, likes to share her opinion, doesn't really care what people think, mean, demanding, likes the weekend, depressed, She is very innaproprate and uses vulgar language."

I asked students to email me their thoughts, I received this from one student, "Before I started this project I seriously thought it was pointless and I would get nothing out of it. After working on the project for a class period, and viewing peoples profiles it made me realize tweeting one bad word can make you look like a very bad person. If someone tweets something about someone, subtweets them, says a bad word, or is a very negative person it can make them look bad. After finishing this project it made me realize to never be negative on twitter or say anything bad because this could effect you in your future while getting a job, and people reviewing your profile before hiring you for a job."

To take the lesson one step further, I asked a friend in college admissions at a local University to look at the "Brenda Bunch" tweets and to see what possible repercussions a student could face, she noted that several tweets would disqualify "Brenda" for scholarships. About one retweet, she wrote, "sounds like there are some mental health issues...might be flagged as a student to watch when they enter college"

We then talked about this project in class and it was an eye-opening discussion. I've long been concerned about the idea that kids don't see what they retweet as a reflection on them. One of the college students is one of the smartest people I know, and he was described as not being very smart. I shared with the students what I knew to be true about the people we profiled.

I also shared that an awesome author, Samantha Berger, wrote this on Facebook:
which came at the perfect time. I'm always nudging my students on Twitter about the types of things they are saying. Reading this post reminded me that I was once a teenager and I would have torn up social media. All of my nudging, and the point of this lesson, is not judgment, but just a wakeup call.

I myself have used Twitter to snark. Most of the time, I have removed the Tweets (which I know doesn't remove them from the world). It's important that we all take a look at our footprint and readjust our sails. 

Do I think that this lesson will change the way these kids tweet?? No, not all of them. But if it gives them pause before they hit send, then I think it had the desired effect.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Best Books I Read in 2013-revised again

I've been seeing "Best" lists all over and I thought instead of just mentioning the ones that 'got it wrong,' I'd do my own list. All of these books stayed with me after I read them. If you don't know me very well, that's truly amazing (very short memory) These are in no particular order. Nearly everyone on this list created a Celebridot, check them out and support them!!

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt. This is a fun and sweet book.

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan. I made a decision that I'd only support authors who created I asked Holly to make a dot and then bought her book (twice)

Seven Stories Up by Laurel Snyder (not technically out yet, but I read it this year) Available January 28. A truly thought-provoking book. What if a few events changed everything???

Crankenstein by Samantha Berger illustrated by Dan Santat. Super fun with great illustrations.

Beholding Bee By Kimberly Newton Fusco. I heard so much about this book, I had to buy it. It's so great! It really stayed with me.

The Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech. Everyone who has followed me on Twitter or friended me on Facebook knows I ADORE Sharon Creech!! However, this book is so good. I love how reading a book by Sharon Creech takes you on a that you hope never ends.

The Real Boy by Anne Ursu (If this book doesn't appear on a best-of-2013 list, I immediately discount the list) The writing in this book blew me away and I tweeted and Facebooked favorite quotes. Example, "There is a way the truth hits you, both hard & gentle at the same time. It punches you in the stomach as it puts its loving arm around your shoulder."

Bobby the Brave (Sometimes) by Lisa Yee. I related to a character in this book and Lisa's style is SO FUN!

I'm Bored by Ian Michael Black and illustrated by Debbie Ohi. Loved this!!

The Museum by Susan Verde and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. I read this book, right before it came out, to a group of first grade students. One girl exclaimed, "I don't just give it two thumbs up, I give it two thumbs and two whole feet."

Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different by Kristin Tubb. I love Kristin...and I loved this book. The first book I read of hers was The Thirteenth Sign and just knew I had to read more.

The Saturday Boy by David Fleming. This was a surprise. Janet Reynolds from Blue Bunny Books knows me so well, she just sent me this book. I LOVED IT!!

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo. I'd heard so much about this lives up to the hype.

Baby Penguins Everywhere by Melissa Guion. What could be cuter than a book about penguins?? I really cute story to go along with the penguins!!

The Smallest Gift of Christmas by Peter H. Reynolds. I had the opportunity to read this last summer and actually hear about it the summer before that. I love Peter and I love this book!!

Little Chicken's Big Christmas
 by Katie Davis and Jerry Davis Kindle Book. Katie told me in September that this book might be happening, I was SO excited. I love Little Chicken!


Journey by Aaron Becker. I wordless picture book told in breathtaking art.

The Story of Fish and Snail by Deborah Freedman. How could I have forgotten a tale encouraging kids to #BeBrave??

Update #2

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers. It's a really fun book and really creative...and you know how much I love creativity!!