Wednesday, October 15, 2014

GTSD Tech Buzz - October 2014

The October edition of the Tech Buzz was sent to GTSD families today. To accompany New Jersey's Week of Respect, the main topics are Safety on the Internet and COPPA.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

October Booktalks (grades 4 and 5)

One of my many goals for this year is to take some time each month to encourage my middle grade readers to broaden their reading horizons. Our students love to read nonfiction, I suspect it is in part due to their innate curiosity, but also because it is easier to find books in the nonfiction section.

With that in mind I decided to book-talk a few fiction titles to each of the 4th and 5th grade classes. I adlibbed a bit, read a from the back cover, and sometimes just started reading from page 1, stopping just as things were getting interesting.

My success rate is pretty high -- only 3 books out of the 29 did not go home with a student. The true results will be revealed the next time we meet... Did they read the book? Was it interesting to them? Do they want more?

4th grade Book Talks
  • Potterwookiee by Obert Skye 
  • Inkheart by Cornelia Funke 
  • The Big Field by Mike Lupica 
  • The Report Card by Andrew Clements 
  • Spiderwick Chronicles: The Field Guide by Tony DiTerlazzi and Holly Black 
  • Lawn Boy by Gary Paulsen 
  • The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl 
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman 
  • 43 Old Cemetery Road: Dying to Meet You by Kate Klise 
  • Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat by Lynne Jonell 
  • A Nest for Celeste by Henry Cole 
  • The Monster’s Ring by Bruce Coville 
  • Dodger and Me by Jordan Sonnenblick 
  • The Doom Machine by Mark Teague 
  • Hocus Pocus: A Tale of Magnificent Magicians by Paul Kieve 

5th grade Book Talks
  • Found by Margaret Haddix 
  • Confectionately Yours by Lisa Papademetriou 
  • Three times lucky by Sheila Turnage 
  • Adventures of Nanny Piggins by R A Spratt 
  • Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli 
  • Missle Mouse by Jake Parker 
  • What Happened on Fox Street by Tricia Springstubb 
  • War Horse by Michael Morpurgo 
  • The Puzzling World of Winston Breen  by Eric Berlin 
  • Masterpiece by Elise Broach 
  • Tennyson by Lesley Blume 
  • The Barn by Avi 
  • Chickenhare by Chris Grine 
  • Giants Beware by Rafael Rosado and Jorge Aguirre 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

EBSCO Points of View

EBSCO's Points of View Reference Center (subscription service) is an excellent resource for students engaged in debate, research, or interested in learning about ideas touched by controversy. The writing and content of this database is geared toward high school students and older. However, there are topics that support middle school curriculum and interest.

Points of View includes 343 different topics, each with 4 foundational essays (overview, point, counterpoint, and guide to critical analysis). In addition, each topic is associated with hand-picked support documents that include magazines, academic journals, books, radio/tv transcripts, and more.

EBSCO has produced a Common Core Standards alignment document, showing how use of this resource supports specific standards. In addition to this general resource individual topics include references to relevant Common Core and state standards.

For a brief overview of this resource watch the below tutorial. GTSD staff who would like to know more about how to use EBSCO resources with students or for professional development are invited to contact Mrs. Bond.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Video: The key to success? Grit

Interesting Ted Talk on why some students are more successful than others, and it has everything to do with good, old fashioned grit.
Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it's a marathon, not a sprint.
Visit the source page for this video to find a Grit Scale quiz.

h/t Brian Marks ‏@Yummymath

Monday, September 29, 2014

Google Apps: Chrome Bookmarks

Do you have post-its with web addresses all round your monitor? Is your desktop cluttered with shortcuts to sites on the Internet? Do you find yourself typing certain addresses into the address bar on a regular basis? Worse... are you using a search engine to access regularly used websites?

Consider using the bookmarks feature of your browser. Browser bookmarks are intended to provide quick access to frequently used sites.  Since we are a Google Apps for Education school, this post will focus on Chrome Browser; just know that nearly all browsers provide similar functionality to save links to favorite places on the Internet.

One of the reasons we ask that everyone in our district use Chrome is the ability to access all of your "stuff," regardless of which computer you log in to.  For more information on how Chrome works, visit a post from last year, Google Apps: Google Chrome.

Where is the Bookmark Bar?
If you do not see a menu bar below the address bar, press Control-Shift-B. Alternatively, press the Settings icon (upper right corner, 3 parallel bars), hover over "Bookmarks," click "Show bookmarks bar."

How To
  1. When viewing a page that you will want to revisit at a later time, click the white star icon at the far right of the URL bar.
  2. A small pop up box will appear, confirming that a bookmark has been added. The star will turn yellow; anytime you visit a page that has a yellow star, you must have bookmarked it at some point!
  3. To change the text that appears in the bookmark bar, edit the text in the name field. 
For sites with an identifiable icon (Gmail, Drive, Blogger, Yahoo, Amazon, Apple, etc.), removing the text shows only the icon. Below is a screen capture demonstrating how this abbreviated view looks. (Apps shortcut, Gmail, Tasks, Drive, Calendar, Quizlet, Blogger, Youtube, Classroom, various district sites, and a folder containing frequently used web 2.0 tools)

The default location for bookmarks is the bookmarks bar. But what happens if you have a lot of bookmarks, and they don't fit on the screen?

To reorganize the order in which bookmarks appear on the tool bar: click and hold, then drag and drop to the desired location on the bookmark bar.

Right-click on top of a bookmark on the bookmark bar to:
  • Open the link in a new tab or window
  • Edit the bookmark name or location
  • Delete the bookmark
To create folders, access the Bookmark Manager through Settings icon > Bookmarks (or use the keyboard shortcut Control-Shift-O). This will open in a new tab, showing all bookmarks and folders. From here, you may manually add new bookmarks, create folders and subfolders, and move individual bookmarks.

Using a Bookmark
When you want to visit a bookmarked page, simply click the bookmark and it will open in the current tab. To open a bookmark in a new tab or window, right-click on the bookmark and select the appropriate option.

Tips for Success
  • Students should be encouraged to bookmark frequently used pages.
  • As students engage in information seeking, encourage them to bookmark pages in a special folder. Should additional information be needed, students will be able to quickly return to the page for clarification or missed details.
  • Browser bookmarks can not easily be shared. For this, consider using a social bookmarking tool like delicious or diggo (pay attention to the Terms of Service, as well as the "social" aspect -- many do not provide the required privacy protections for underage students).

Additional Reading & Support
The Bookmarks page on Google Help Site provides additional information and support on this topic.

GTSD staff are encouraged to contact Mrs. Bond for assistance with this or any other Google Apps for Education tool.