Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Jott - Improve Productivity

Introducing your very own personal assistant. No, you don't need to hire anyone. Instead sign up for a free account at Jott. Use your voice to help you remember things, to make lists and to organize your life. Why write things down anymore, especially if you are on the go most of the day. Pickup your cellphone and start jotting!

Added thought: There is always a student that struggles with copying down the homework. It never seems to get into the agenda book before the bell rings. Items may be missing due to visual motor challenges. Why not have the student send themselves a jott, using their voice to record the daily homework? It gets sent as a text message or email. Problem solved!

Connection to occupational therapy: modifying the task

Qipit - Camera Click and Share

Take a digital image (from your cellphone camera or digital camera) and turn it into a sharable document.

- Scribbled ideas on napkins
- White board teacher notes
- Handwritten notes from a meeting

Check out's free. Their blog provides all sorts of tips and suggestions.

VoiceThread - Create, Comment and Connect!

My New Favorite Tool! Why?
It's Simple (the less clicks it requires, the more we are apt to use it)
It's adaptable (can be used in may different ways)
It's free for everyone (and the Pro version is free for K-12 educators)
It's just plain cool!

VoiceThread is a program to upload images (photos, documents, powerpoints, videos, etc.). But it's better than that. You can add your voice to comment about what is on the screen. Others can add their voices to keep the conversation going. To see a fun example, watch this voice thread of an old family photo.

Browse the examples under presentations, travel, family and classroom. We can use voice threads for social stories, how-to demos, digital story telling, skill practice, monitoring students' reading progress...I could go on and on. Families can document events in their lives and share with relatives and friends.

After showing this to a group of special educators here at Hosmer, I instantly got examples emailed back to me. The creativity is contagious. Go try it!

Life Long Learners

John Schinker from Taste of Tech wrote this post on being responsible for your own learning. Daily we are faced with new technologies to learn and integrate into our practice. We cannot wait for others to take our hand and show us. We must dive in, experiment and try things out. I love this quote he included:
“The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” — Alvin Toffler
Stay tuned for some programs I have discovered recently....

Photo Citation: Ben Werdmuller

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Russ Hoyt Talking on Siblings

Come to the Watertown Special Education Parent Advisory Council meeting on Wed., Nov. 14, 2007, 7:00pm
Lowell Elementary School Library, 175 Orchard St, Watertown, MA.
Childcare will be available.

Come listen to Russ Hoyt, early childhood director for the Groton-Dunstable Regional School District (or Mr. Russ as he is known to the children in the Boutwell Early Childhood Center). In addition to his professional career, Mr. Hoyt has a personal connection to Special Education. Russ’s oldest brother, Rick, was born with cerebral palsy and cannot walk, talk, feed or care for himself without assistance. However, Rick has run the Boston Marathon 26 times, completed the Ironman Triathlon 5 times as a team with his father, and he graduated from Boston University. Russ will share with us the story of his family, his relationships with both of his brothers, and to pass on some ideas and some research findings on how to support healthy sibling relationships. All are welcome.

If you are not familiar with Russ's brother and father, watch this four minute movie on their endeavors...quite inspirational!
What can you imagine?

Close Your Dictionary

Tagging - the act of labeling your luggage for quick identification at the airport carousel
Wiki - short for wiki sticks, those waxed pieces of string that allow you to create shapes, letters or just about anything
RSS - IM speak for something (I'll have to ask my daughter); much like POS, standing for "parent over shoulder"
Blog - an extreme of "bog", as in "I got really blogged down by this project"
Podcast - a fly fishing technique
Social networking - what goes on in the teachers' room around the copy machine
YouTube - "No, I'm not jumping in this cold river with my inner was your idea so you tube!"

Welcome to Web 2.0. Go directly to Atomic Learning to update your definitions. This tutorial by Vickie Davis from CoolCatTeacher is free for the month of November. Hurry on over!

Image citation: jrtcollector

Friday, November 02, 2007

Living Sensationally

How do you respond to sensations around you? Are you someone who seeks input, someone who does not notice, someone who avoids it or someone who is too sensitive? Although you have a predominant way of reacting to sensory information, you may have characteristics of all these. Understanding how we are alike and different in our sensory world promotes acceptance and tolerance of each other's behaviors and reactions.
It is part of being human.
Take a moment to think about how you feel riding the subway downtown.
Do you love the experience of sight, sound and movement...or do you cringe at the thought of someone standing next to you?
Does shutting out the experience altogether by plugging into your ipod seem like a great solution to you?
Do you love the jerky bumpy ride with frequent stops...or do you leave the train frazzled and racing to get above ground again?
Perhaps you are oblivious to the activity going on around you and even miss your stop.

I'm still waiting for my copy of Winnie Dunn's book, Living Sensationally, to come in the mail. If you want to get a taste of the book, read this review from the Times.

photo citation

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Become Involved...Your Child Will Benefit!

Hear Ye Hear Ye: Parent Volunteers Needed in Hosmer School Library

Parents can volunteer during their children’s classes and would be able to see what the children checkout. In addition to checkout/checkin responsibilities, volunteers will shelve books and complete various library projects to make our library a better place.

If you are interested in volunteering, please contact me at:

Kara Schwartz
Hosmer School Librarian

What an opportunity! Why do it?
The research overwhelmingly demonstrates that parent involvement in children's learning is positively related to achievement. Further, the research shows that the more intensively parents are involved in their children's learning, the more beneficial are the achievement effects. This holds true for all types of parent involvement in children's learning and for all types and ages of students.children perform better in school when parents get involved in their education, and volunteering is a great way to get involved.
Check out this site to read more.

Need more information? The Harvard Family Research Project from the Harvard Graduate School of Education shows the relationship of family involvement with child outcomes as seen in their figure below.
We would love to see you in the library...and your child will benefit from your involvement!

Clip art from Discovery Education