Friday, December 9, 2011

Cool things in Anson County

Back in October I had a chance to visit Anson County Schools.....way down there on 74 from Gaston County. Although the purpose of the meeting was to sit in on a planning meeting between Anson County and Discovery Education, I ended up getting so much more than just that out of the meeting. After the meeting (at which very neat plans were made for implementation and training of Discovery Education's resources in the county) concluded, those of us visiting were given the opportunity to tour Anson County School's very own planetarium and science center.

All I could think! Not only does this school system have their own planetarium, but the connected science center is home to live animals, materials for every science experiment you can imagine, learning stations for a variety of units and topics, and awesome technology including 3 SMART Tables. Check out the pictures! Wouldn't you love to be a student (or teacher) who gets to be a scientist in this amazing lab? 

Check out this amazing center all about trees and soil!

Wouldn't you love to be student using all these supplies to do amazing science experiments?

And even get to wear a lab coat like a real scientist!

They didn't forget about technology...check out the SMART Tables

They have snakes....

And hissing cockroaches...
And iguanas oh my!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Polar Express and Holiday Ideas

Every year as the holidays draw near, it seems like I see more and more great ideas to use in the classroom. Keep reading to see a few of this year's favorites!

Monday, November 14, 2011

My (P)Interesting Obsession with Pinterest

Have you checked out Pinterest yet? Pinterest is a site that basically lets users create virtual pinboards. You can create different boards to keep your pins organized, and you can also browse the boards of other users. So what is a pin? According to the Pinterest site, a pin is an image you add to Pinterest. It is super easy to install the Pin It button to your toolbar in any browser by following the directions here.

Pin It button
Once you've installed the Pin It button, you'll see this in your bookmark bar 

Yours most likely won't have a pink background...but that's how I roll in my browser themes :)

Once you have the Pin It button installed, you're ready to start pinning! Basically, anytime you see something you like on the web and want to remember for later, just click the Pin It button. As long as there are images on the page, Pinterest will pull all of those images and ask which you'd like to Pin. For example, the last page I pinned consisted of these images

I was able to click Pin This on the image I wanted to add to my board. The next step is choosing which board to add your pin to.

From here, I can simply choose the board I want to add to (or choose create a new one). You can see in the picture above that I chose to add this pin to the board called SMART Activities and Sites. You can also choose to add a description to your pins, and if you have your account connected to Facebook and/or Twitter, share your new pin with those followers as well.

Even if you're not into pinning, I have observed Pinterest quickly becoming my go-to place for finding great ideas and resources for the classroom. You can look through pins without having accounts- so you can search for a keyword you're looking for, or just look at pins in a certain category. The list below only show about half the categories available, but I wanted to make sure you saw that Education is there!

Here's a link to the education category on Pinterest:, and check out a small shot of what I saw when I clicked it a few minutes ago:

Right now, there may be a wait list for Pinterest accounts. If you'd like me to send you an invite, just post a comment with your email address.

So what are some of my favorite resources I've found so far on Pinterest? Check them out below!

So, what are the best pins you've found?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


We all remember last year's initiative that pledged to place a SMART Board in every classroom in Gaston County. As we enter the second year of this initiative for most teachers (and the first for others), I wanted to take a few minutes to remind everyone of a few resources that are available to you. Click through to read more!

Monday, August 1, 2011

How do I keep up?

Last fall, I wrote this post for the now defunct and re-purposed Gaston Digital blog. As I was thinking about what tools help me quickly find resources, especially as we get ready for a new school year, Google Reader is the what came to mind. So I'm stealing (from myself) this to share with you here! At the end of this post, I'll share some of the ideas I've seen for back to school and some of my favorite blogs to follow!

As I was collaborating with a few of my teachers earlier this week, one of them asked me a question I thought was quite interesting. The teachers were 1st grade teachers from one of my schools and we were meeting to discuss, find, and create lessons and activities for them to use on the SMART Boards they will all soon have in their classrooms (Yay for generosity from private donors!) I was teaching them about Diigo so that they could begin compiling all the interactive sites they were finding, and after everyone signed up for Diigo I shared with them one of my Diigo lists for SMART Resources. Of course since there was a SMART Board in the room, I had to spend lots of time playing, so I was showcasing some of my favorite activities to use for teaching math using SMART Boards (and why do they all have to be from the UK? come on, US we need to get on the ball!). So getting back to my point- the question that was asked as we were looking at all these resources was 
“Gosh Leslie, do you go home and sit with your computer all night to find all this stuff?”
 Okay, well honestly I used to practically have my laptop attached as an extra appendage all the time. These days I’m not quite as bad when I get home, and I’ve realized that sometimes I just need to power off (the laptop anyway, I seriously would have trouble breathing without the iPhone…or I at least couldn’t sleep, thanks to Sleep Cycle).  But really and truly, since I’ve figured out what the heck a PLN is, I haven’t HAD to spend hours and hours searching for the things I used to have to. It comes to me- kind of like magic!
Now, one huge component to my PLN is Twitter. But, since Twitter is blocked in our county right now, I won’t say a whole lot about it. What I will talk a little about is using Google ReaderScreenshot of my TechNews folder in igoogleWay back when I started reading blogs, I remember saving them to my favorites list and taking time to check them every once in a while to see what people were saying. I admit that in those days I was also following blogs of my friends to keep up with what their families were doing or blogs where people would post new recipes and things like that. These days though, following great blogs are a great way to keep up and find new resources without having to put hours and hours into searching for things (which is good to still do sometimes).  Once you have found educators or instructional leaders that you can learn from, one of the easiest ways to keep up is to subscribe to new posts in a reader- such as Google Reader. All you have to have is a Google Account, and it is super simple to set up. Once you have your reader set up, all you have to do is make time to read new posts that flow in! For teachers who want new ideas, teaching strategies, and ways to integrate technology but don’t have much time- finding good blogs to follow can be a great way to get started! So as you are at home relaxing this summer, take a few minutes to set up your Google Reader and subscribe to a few blogs. You may be surprised at what you find!
Once you’ve set up your reader, here are 5 great educational technology blogs to get you started:
iLearn Technology

And here are a few of my favorite elementary blogs:

Lutton 519



If you want to subscribe to several great elementary blogs, click here!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thinking About a New Year

At this point in the summer, we are always hard at work planning a new year. In some ways, this is my favorite part of the year. I love the refreshing feeling of being done with one year and getting ready for a new one. At this point, several facilitators are working together on different projects and it is so great have a little time and space to collaborate and have people to bounce ideas of off.

As a teacher, this is the time in the summer when I was thinking about the previous year and what I wanted to do differently in my classroom in the new one. As a facilitator, I think about the same things. We know that this year brings a lot of changes to not only our district, but to our state as well. We will be gearing up for next year's Common Core implementation by teaching Revised Bloom's Taxonomy, focusing more on the STEM initiative, and even trying out a few exciting new technologies that will help with both of those things! This year will be a year of change for everyone, but I still think it will be a great one.
Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights.  ~Pauline R. Kezer
What changes do you hope to make in your classroom this year?