Friday, December 21, 2012

Keep Library Books Safe over Vacation

We have been reminding students all week that they will be on vacation for eleven days and some won't have a libary class again until January 8th. That's a long time to have a library book checked out.

The best place to keep your school library book is right in your backpack. Take it out to read and enjoy during vacation, but when you are done with it, pop it right back in that backpack. That way when school does start again, you will be ready to come back and return your library book.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Giving Tree

Our Giving Tree in the Lobby has filled up quickly!

All of these items will be delivered to the Food Pantry on Friday.


Make a Snowflake

My 9:30 third grade class just showed me a very cool website called Make a Flake.

One of my students has made lots of snowflakes including this very cool one by clicking the pair of scissors and snipping off parts of a triangle just like with a piece of paper.

Once you think you are done, click on Preview Flake to see what it looks like. Then you can cut some more, or choose SAVE My Flake. You are asked for your name (which means you agree to this website terms of service), and then click SUBMIT.  The site will generate a unique snowflake number for viewing in the gallery.

By: Annika
By: Me!

Try it!

Christmas Concert Programs

All decorated and ready for the concerts today
Today is Concert Day! 

See the links below for concert programs.

First and Second Grade Program Cover

Kindergarten Songs 9:30 program

First Grade Songs 11:00 Concert

Second Grade Songs 12:30 Concert

Look for programs by the door
Third and Fourth grade students designed their own covers and added a personal message to their programs. Some students may have brought that program home to share and bring back today, but most will be in the classroom with the students. There will be additional programs at the door.

Third Grade Songs 2:00 program

Fourth Grade Songs 7:00 p.m.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

After School Class for Me!

Today I was able to take a class called Blogging: Part II given by our school district technology staff over at the high school.

I learned several new things about this adventure called Blogging. You will see a different look to my blog. I decided to eliminate the fancy background and just go with a plain color for the winter. We'll see when spring comes if I change my mind again.

Also, at the top of the blog there are now PAGES, or links to other places that I think are important. So, now there is a 'page' to my SES Technology site which isn't really part of this blog, but with this link at the top it appears to be. This is a great discovery, as I want to have students visit the blog more often and find content of use to them. I am hopeful that this will be a useful way to do that.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

New Books in the Library Media Center

Our fall new books have been circulating nicely with students enjoying Michael Buckley's The Sister's Grimm: Fairy-Tale Detectives series; cat, horse and dog non-fiction titles; and additional Dear Dumb Diary series books.

New this week are some sports themed chapter books with several focusing on hockey now that winter is here. Titles include:
  • Hockey Heat Wave by C. A. Forsyth 
  • The Freaky Joe Club: The Mystery of the Morphing Hockey Stick by B. J. McMahan 
  • several in the Amulet series including The Stonekeeper's Curse 
  • a dozen or so Cat in the Hat Learning Library titles like:  If I Ran the Dog Show: All About Dogs 
And finally, Madonna has written a book of fiction called The English Roses featuring a beautiful painted cover with rainbows, roses and  girls walking in the rain under golden umbrellas.

Look for these and other new titles in our Elementary Library Media Center.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I have tried on this blog to review  a few books that I have read and enjoyed, but I wondered who else might be out there doing this work that I could just link to.

Today's find is Kidsreads a division of the Book Report Network. There is a LOT of great content. Here is their promo from the About Us page of the website:
"Ever craved a good book and just not been inspired by anything you see? Or felt annoyed that you bought a book that was merely so-so? Or closed a book and JUST wanted to talk about it? Or wished you had a place to discover new books?

We know what this feels like. The Book Report Network aims to solve these reader dilemmas, with thoughtful book reviews, compelling features, in-depth author profiles and interviews, excerpts of the hottest new releases, contests and more every week. We hope you'll visit our websites and discover why since 1996 the Book Report Network has been the best place online to talk about your last great read --- and find your next one."
I especially like the tab labeled SERIES that gives you the ability to find a series alphabetically. Short explanations like the one below have links to a more detailed book review, the Kidsreads' author site and a list of the suggested ages for enjoyment of the series.
A Series of Unfortunate Events written by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist
Ages 10-up
Thirteen books have been published in Lemony Snicket's darkly hilarious collection. Explore our feature and find out more about these unusual books and their mysterious author, Lemony Snicket. You won't want to miss this unique and very funny reading experience!

The Awards area found in the FEATURES tab has listings for 2010, 2011 and 2012 of titles chosen for all of the major children's book awards; again, with reviews and author pages links on the site.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Easy Tech Prescriptive Keyboarding at

Students have the opportunity to work on Keyboarding lessons at our subscription site even when they are not able to advance in the regular lessons. Keep reading to find out more details.

When you first start the Prescriptive Keyboarding Lesson, Miko, an animated host, comes on the screen to show you around. Take her INTRO to find out more about the program and practice the basics of keyboarding using Touch Typing.

Choose the Computer Basics balloon (shown below) and be reminded about what a keyboard looks like. It has six kinds of rows: letters, numbers, punctuation,  the space bar, control and function keys.
Click PLAY on this screen or move the balloons with the white arrows for practice with one of the rows.
When a student completes this lesson they can print a Certificate of Completion that gives a score of 17/17 for a perfect lesson.

The other four balloons are for each of the rows on a keyboard: Home Row, Lower Row, Upper Row and Number Row.
Here is a screenshot from Computer Basics for practice with the CAPS LOCK key..

After the INTRO, click on the PRACTICES button to hear Miko tell you about the other choices and show your keyboarding statistics including accuracy, average time and number of exercises completed. Students are prompted to take an initial assessment and then will have suggested skills to work on. My choices based on my skill assessment are Basic A, Basic 8 and Basic 9.

This is the Practice Page with student STATISTICS and suggested lessons for practice.

Library Button: To go back to the balloons for an overview of keyboarding in general, click on the Lessons button.

This is the Basic A lesson. As you type it keeps track of your keystrokes.

Here is the result. You can try again, or click DONE to go back to the lessons.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

TOUR THE MAYFLOWER / Follow the Pilgrims

Third grade students are taking a virtual field trip this week in the compuer lab with this link at Scholastic --The First Thanksgiving. Once on the website students have so many choices of tabs including The Mayflower, Daily Life, The Feast, Historical Letters and the popular favorite: Video's and Photos.
On the Mayflower tab students can choose to Journey on the Mayflower; a narrated video slide show of the crossing of the Atlantic, or Tour the Ship to see a photograph of each area with a description that can be listened to by clicking on the speaker icon.

Other tabs include:
  • Daily Life depicts Housing, Clothes, Food, Chores, Games and School. 
  • The Feast has ten interactive slides, again with narration. 
  • Historical Letters has six letters from both Pilgrims and Wampanoags that you can read. You can also listen to someone imitating the way each of these people would have spoken in 1620.
  • Videos and Photos Here are 14 video tours and slide shows, some short, some long, with characters from Plimoth Plantation talking all about life in the 1620's for the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

SLIMEKids -- Reading/Language Arts Resources

Here's a great name for a website. SLIMEKIDS. What does that stand for? It's School Library Media Kids!

SlimeKids was created just last year by Andy Fine from Minnesota. He has done a fabulous job of putting together resources for everyone. Students will find book reviews, school games (including keyboarding!) search engines, reference tools and a lot more; all organized in an attractive, easy to use website. Here is the description from the website:
"SlimeKids features an extensive collection of book trailers organized by year and by grade level as well as numerous language arts-related games in such categories as spelling, typing, vocabulary and grammar. Additionally, the website showcases an array of exceptional literacy-related resources such as author and book review websites as well as superb learning tools including reference works and search engines."

There is so much great content here. For example, take a look at the Authors page. There you will find links to some of the most popular authors for students like Jon Scieszka founder of the 'Guys Read' program and author of the Time Warp Trio series and other wonderfully wacky books like Squids Will Be Squids, The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs. Another popular author, Kate DiCamillo's page has a link to a website just for her Mercy Watson series.
Oh, I could go on and on. SO sorry I didn't find this before last week's Family Reading Night to put on the list of FABULOUS reading websites. But, here it is now. I'm going to spend quite a bit of time exploring here soon. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Black and Orange Day Programming

Tomorrow's Black and Orange Day program brings favorite storyteller and musician, Kevin McMullin back to Spooner Elementary for a day of fun. Students will attend the programs in the amphitheatre during their Fine Arts block, so will miss music, physical education, library, computer and art classes for this one day.

However, teachers have been asked to bring students to the library to allow time for checking out a new book. Just remember to return your library books and you may check out something new tomorrow.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Sports Themed Titles @ Spooner Elementary

I almost forgot to post the list of books with a sports theme that you can find in our library. Find it at this link: Sports Titles for Elementary Students. It's another PDF file, so once on this page, just look at the bottom to open the document.

Everyone coming to the Family Reading Night Open House will receive a bookmark with a shortened list of these titles.

It's almost time to start the fun! Let the reading begin!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Family Reading Night - Fall Open House - RAILS READ

Exciting news! Tomorrow is our Fall Open House and Family Reading Night. The event begins at 5:00 p.m. with hot dogs for supper served in the lunchroom/gym.

Activities will take place throughout the school. Be sure to stop and see me in the Library. Any student with NO overdue books may check out one book from any of the student areas on Family Reading Night.

I hope to check out LOTS of books.

The first grade staff will be in the computer lab helping students find reading websites to visit. Some of the third grade teachers will have laptops in the media center for more exploring.

Second grade students will be singing and people will be reading all over the building.

Here is the link to my document with Websites for Family Reading Night 2012. Look at the bottom of the page and click on the PDF file link to see suggestions for exploring reading with your family.

RAILS ARE READERS, so wear your favorite sports jersey. See you there!

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Tomorrow, Friday the 12th, the food nutrition department will be offering our second “FREE” meal to the students this school year.

We are offering a homecoming/tailgate sort of menu. We are featuring hot dogs/ brats, sauerkraut, baked beans, potato triangle, a tomato/cucumber salad, pineapple tidbits and orange smiles.

November’s“FREE” day will be November 14th, we will be offering a Thanksgiving meal. Mark this date on your calendar.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Recommended Websites

Here is the updated link to the SES Technology site on the Spooner Area School District website that I maintain.

I have added the new subscription websites and clues for how to log in. You may need to check with me or the classroom teacher for the current password or username. Added today are IXL Math, BrainPop Jr. and Soar to Success.

Remember that you can sort this list by any of the three columns in alphabetical, or reverse, order.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

High 5 Afterschool Program

The High 5 Afterschool program started the fall session on September 17th. My assignment this year is with 2nd grade on Monday night from 3:45 to 5:15 pm. Mrs. Collins, our Community Education Director, has changed the format a bit so now students meet in the gymnasium to have their snack together. There is time to finish homework also.

When I arrive, we move to the computer lab where I have students completing a rotation programs with the following focus: Reading, Math and Cross-Curricular. Last night we finished our first round of programming with a visit to one of our newest subscription websites, BrainPop Jr.

There was a lot to see and do so we ran out of time. We are all looking forward to the next opportunity to try again.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Design a Bookmark Contest

Sally Sundeen, newly hired children's librarian at the public library came to visit and brought some news to our school the other day.

From now until October 15th students in 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade will have the opportunity to design a bookmark for the Spooner Memorial Library. Design sheets are being handed out during classes all this week.

After a winning entry is selected, that student's design will be printed on bookmarks to be handed out at the public library and at our elementary school library.

Be thinking about what could go on a bookmark that YOU could design.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

New Subscription Websites

What an exciting first week we had! It is wonderful to be back and to see the students. I truly do miss them over the summer.  Everyone is ready to start learning new things. So, my first item is new websites.

Our district is now subscribed to IXL Math for each classroom. Here is the description as found on their website IXL Math:
  • "IXL's math skills are aligned to the 2010 Common Core State Standards and the 2005 Wisconsin Criterion-Referenced Test Frameworks, providing comprehensive preparation for the Wisconsin Knowledge Concepts Examinations (WKCE). With IXL's state standards alignments, you can easily find unlimited practice problems specifically tailored to each required standard.
  • Even better, IXL automatically tracks student progress and displays proficiency scores in the state standards reports. These reports allow you to quickly evaluate student aptitude and identify trouble spots."
I signed up for a teacher account and was surprised to get an email today with a weekly report on my students. I haven't assigned any students yet, but I am planning to use IXL with my afterschool class starting next week.
The other new web subscription this year is for Brain POP Jr for grades K - 3 and for the full BrainPOP service. I used this one over the summer on the iPad with limited success as the full site does use Flash. While it is a subscription service, they do have Free Content.
Students will have access from school and at home 24-hours a day. The Featured Movie changes every day with a variety of topics like milestones, historical figures, holidays and current events.  Just ask your teacher for the username and password, and check out the fun learning using BrainPOP.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Book Fair -- Buy one, get one FREE

If you are coming to Open House on Wednesday, August 29th, be sure to stop by the Media Center and check out the Scholastic Book Fair.

There are fun books for pre-schoolers, a lot of hardcover non-fiction, reference books, chapter books, picture books, posters and a table full of surprises you will just have to see to believe.  Star Wars, Titanic, Pokeman, 39 Clues, SkippyJon Jones, and lots of other favorites. A Ball for Daisy is one of the new titles I have not seen, but it was the 2012 Caldecott Medal winner.

While you are there, check out the "new" media center classroom. It sure doesn't look the same. We have different tables, and brand new walls that go all the way up to the ceiling to help keep the sound from the hallways drifting up and over into our teaching area.

Mrs. Nowak has done lots of preparation work to get it looking snazzy for the start of school. Nice work, it looks great! I'll remember my camera tomorrow and get a photo posted so anyone reading this can see.

Tomorrow the elementary staff will gather to start our first official day. We have new staff to meet, new materials to discuss and a bit more work to get it all ready for the Open House and student's first day.

Early to bed everyone!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Getting Ready to Start School

Well, the weather has turned. It's much cooler lately than it has been and the days are getting shorter, so that means school must be right around the corner. Way back in June it seemed like summer would be so long...I could get so much done...and I did! Two weddings, a family reunion and lots of visiting with friends and family; plus the time to read many great books and work outside in the sunshine. It was a wonderful summer!

With just two weeks to go before staff begin our work week, I visited the school yesterday and was able to participate in a discussion out in the school garden. Here is a blog featuring the work of
the AmeriCorps Farm-to-School volunteers and our fabulous local master gardeners at Helping Hands Garden. They keep so busy with the garden that the posts don't appear that often, but it goes back to 2007 when the garden was first started through the 4-H Afterschool program. That blog was my first attempt at documenting a project through blogging. I've since turned it over to those currently supervising the project, but it's still fun to check in to see how they are coming along.

I also got a chance to spend some time in the library office sorting and cleaning. The custodial staff is doing an incredible job of getting the building in shape for the start of school. I am excited to see the new space in the library media center all walled off and ready for classes.

Enjoy these last weeks of summer. See you in the hallways soon!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Picture Book Review

One of the joys of summer is having extra time for reading and reviewing books. The public library has a wonderful selection of picture books for elementary students. Here are my picks for this month.

First is Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy by David Samar and Jacky Davis, a Dial book published in 2009. Lulu and Sam are both at the playground. Lulu wants to play with Sam, but Sam isn't interested. This sweet story shows how the children decide by cooperating to find creative play they both enjoy.

For this next  book called Cock-a-Doodle Quack! Quack!  I am going to link to a marvelous blog by Leah Kulikowski, children's librarian at a Kansas public library, who has fantastic ideas for picture book story hours. Sunflower Storytime. It's a fun book for toddlers and anyone who likes to make farm animal sounds. Just looking at the cover makes me smile.

Finally, these two were my favorites about Skippyjon Jones, star of dozens of books, and his own website. Check out this link for tons of Skippyjon Jones fun. If you've never experienced these books by Judith Schachner about the 'Siamese cat turned Chihuahua' you are in for a treat!

I borrowed two titles: Skippyjon Jones and the Big Bones, featuring Darwin the neighbor dog, published in 2007 by Dutton. In this book Skippyjon Jones goes in search of Skipposaurus, a legendary dinosaur. Of course when he gets into trouble, El Skippito comes to the rescue, with a little help from other, of course! One of the many delights of reading these books are the poems like this one: 

"Oh I'm Skippyjon Jones
and I bounce on my bed,
'Cuz I  love to eat pickles
That tickle my head."

Published in 2006, Skippyjon Jones in Mummy Trouble reminds us that "Skippyjon Jones did his very best thinking outside the box". Skippyjon Jones' mother warns him that what he's reading is TABOO, so off to his room he goes to jump and think about the forbidden 'Curse of the Cat Mummy' . Suddenly, Skippito Friskito appears and he's off to see 'Old Egypti-ito'. These books are always fun read-alouds. 

As Skippyjon Jones encounters 'King-Tootin-Kitten-Kabootin', I had to wonder if the author had ever watched the Three Stooges episode where they encounter 'King Rootin-Tootin'. Maybe it's just a good way to make a rhyme. 

Great fun -- highly recommended! Keep reading, just one week left to finish up the summer reading program at the public library.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Lost in Cyber-Space?

Have you ever gotten "lost" while looking up something on the computer? That's what happens to me, especially in the summer!

Today I was looking at some of the other links on our school district website like this Websites to Check Out link: -- just reminding myself what was there, and got immersed in the lesson plans at Education World.
I downloaded a number of PDF files related to Dolch sight words -- Samson's Classroom,  and then noticed the Internet Scavenger Hunts.  I didn't find one that really interested me, but I DID find this link to image editing sites.

The graphic at the right was created with Image Chef using their Word Mosaic. I've created other "word clouds" like this using Wordle and Tagxedo.  They're fun to use with lots of choices for lettering styles and colors. My High 5 afterschool club students enjoyed using these tools also.

This Word Mosaic is a bit different from the other two, as it gives the choice to use a font which mixes styles and sizes of text. Normally, if you want to see a word stand out, you type it into the text box several times. In this Mosaic, it looks like I typed FUN in more often than Reading or Technology, but I only typed each word once and then selected the "mix" font option. Nice result and lots less typing for students. I like it!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Mad Science at the Public Library

"Mad Science" was the name of the program at the Spooner Memorial Public Library today. When I arrived the room was full of kids and adults. What fun it was to see some of my students there to learn about science presented by a very entertaining scientist from the Science Museum of Minnesota, whose name I did not catch!

Did you know that there is an invisible elephant that sits on the top of your head? That's a force called gravity and it's pretty powerful. According to our guest gravity is what holds the moon close to the earth and what keeps the earth in orbit around the sun.

His topic today was air and what an amazing substance it is. We saw a smoke tornado that was used it to blow out the light of two tapered candles from across the room. A hair dryer became an anti-gravity machine to suspend a ping-pong ball in the air. That was pretty cool! Then he brought out an even bigger blower, used it to blow air and ping-pong balls at the audience, then attached it to his "hover-craft". A girl in the front row was invited to sit in the center and when the power was turned on, she glided across the floor powered by air.

By taking all the air out from under a giant rubber circle with a handle on it, he was able to lift a wooden library chair high off the ground.

Everyone who attended was invited to pick up two handouts, one with an experiment and Mad Science word find; the other a notice to go to the Mad Science Facebook page to enter in a drawing for a free remote controlled robot. One robot given away for every 100 entries.

Thanks Spooner Memorial Library for another great summer program!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The 39 Clues

The 39 Clues series was very popular at our school last year. The only one that I could find on the shelf to read was #2 which featured clues about the life of Mozart, I thought our music teachers would like that one!

Now that it's summer, book #1 The Maze of Bones has been on my reading list and was found at the public library. Anytime you start a series it's always good to read the books in order. It is especially good to catch the first one which gives you the background information you need to understand the story and introduces the main characters. In The 39 Clues 14 year old Amy, and her 11 year old brother, Dan Cahill are orphans, who live with a strict Aunt, but have a wonderful grandmother called Grace, who they visit at her mansion every weekend.

Grace Cahill's death at the beginning of this book reveals a challenge to her relatives through a video played at the reading of her will. In the video Grace reveals that the Cahill family has had "a greater impact on human civilization than any other family in history." She challenges them to form teams to go on a "quest of vital importance to the Cahill family and the world at large." But, only one team can succeed! "It will be the greatest, most perilous undertaking of all time." The teams will receive the first of 39 clues that leads to "The most important treasure in the world and make you powerful beyond belief...or it might kill you!"

Or, they can take $1,000,000.00 and leave the room. Talk about exciting! They have only 5 minutes to decide. What would you do? One million dollars or a great adventure with the promise of vast wealth and power? Luckily for us, they decide to burn the one million dollar voucher and the quest begins.

Credit: Historical Society of Penn.
The Maze of Bones centers around Benjamin Franklin, so off the pair go to Philadelphia where young Ben spent much of his time. This is a fast-moving story with lots of action and problems that crop up for the siblings. They don't always get along or agree on what to do, just like real life, which adds to the fun.

This Scholastic Books series has been written by nine different authors for 8 -12 year old students and includes eleven titles. There is a second series called Cahills vs Vespers which continues the adventures. A movie based on the series is scheduled for release in 2014. Our school library acquired several copies of The Black Book of Buried Secrets, which is a fabulous guide to all of
The 39 Clues characters, their talents and even some of their secrets.

The 39 Clues link  Takes you directly to a page where you can interact online by signing up, finding out what "branch" of the Cahill family you belong to, and entering into the search. Each new book comes with a packet of CLUE cards to add to the fun. The first contest ended in March of 2010. Take a look at the six lucky  kids from around the world who were the First Series Winners - 39 Clues.

A Scholastic Reading Club link has activities and contests for groups of students. Looks like a great opportunity for a middle school afterschool club. This link also has good synopses of each of the titles. The new series Cahills vs Vespers has three titles so far, plus a stand alone novel called The Cahill Files: Operation Trinity. The fourth book, Shatterproof  is due out on September 4th just in time for back to school.

Rick Riordan author of The Maze of Bones, and other 39 Clues titles. Has also written the Percy Jackson series (featuring Greek Mythology) and The Kane Chronicles (Egyptian Mythology). He has a fantastic website with links to activities based on each of these series. I better stop now, there is a whole new post I could do about Mr. Riordan.

Join the Adventure -- Hunt for the 39 Clues!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Three Great Books

This week’s blog post is about the books I have been reading and listening to.

Wisconsin public radio features a marvelous program called “Chapter-a-Day” aired Monday through Friday  at 12:30 p.m. and repeated at 11:00 p.m. Currently I am enjoying listening to Jim Fleming read from First Family: Abigail and John Adams by Joe Ellis. "The story of the premier husband and wife team in American history is part political history and part love story." 

If you miss a chapter, the five most recent chapters can be found online where you can listen at you leisure.  Having just been separated by John’s four years of service in Paris; Abigail and John Adams are about to be reunited in 1785 at the end of the chapter that I heard today. Thomas Jefferson also comes to Paris, while the Continental Congress labors back in America to provide the legal and governmental structure for the new country.

The other audio book I am enjoying is one that I borrowed from the public library. Mark Twain: A Life, written and read by Ron Powers. Read is too simple a word though, as the author takes on the persona of Samuel L. Clemens when he quotes from the writings of Mark Twain. On nine CD's, this audio book runs 11 hours. I find it a fascinating exploration of Mark Twain’s life and the times he lived in. In 1861 Sammy Clemens is about to going traveling with his older brother, Orion, who has just been appointed Secretary of the Nevada Territory. Sammy moves west to get away from the advancing civil war, He assumed it would be just a few months before the war was over, but it turns out to be a six year stay in the West. 

My final recommendation is a book for young people called Louisa May and Mr. Thoreau's Flute, a picture book with woodcuts by Caldecott Medal winning artist, Mary Azarian.  Set in Concord, Massachusetts it tells the story of eight-year old Louy, as she was known to her family, and her friendship with local teacher Henry David Thoreau, also a young man at the time. It's a lovely story that ends with Louys' first poem; To the First Robin.  

Remember, both children and adults can participate in a summer reading program at the Spooner Memorial Public Library ~ Happy Reading!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Can I really make a video tutorial?

Today many of my classmates have disappeared and we are down to just three students. That's great for me because I can get lots of personal attention. I'm a bit distracted by the news from the Duluth/Superior area about flooding, but have been working on understanding how to make video tutorials.

Here's a link to my first video: How to make a Google Doc using Word   It's just 1 minute and 40 seconds long. Oops! Forgot to name my document. Not great! But, it's a start.

I used Jing, a screen capture program that I've had at home for quite awhile. I had never noticed that you can do video captures also. It's a free program that doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles, but seems to do a nice basic job.

Now, if I could only remember how I got to this point. More practice needed.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Taking a Class: Google Apps!

Here I am on my second day of summer school class right here at Spooner High School. Facilitating the Future has brought Julie Thompson over from Hayward to Teach Google Apps to an enthusiastic group of educators from around the region.

Our school district already uses Google Docs and Calendar, so I knew a bit coming into the class. There is always something new to learn though! We've joined a Google Group, created a survey using Google Forms, chatted with one another using our GMail accounts, imported and exported Google Calendars and made a fancy iGoogle page with lots of widgets.

Today we are working on Google Sites, which is what I used to make my SES Technology page, so I got to spend some time thinking about ways to improve the look and flow of my web pages. Take a look and see what you think of My New and Improved Web Site.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Summer Vacation -- iPad Adventures

My trip to Western Minnesota for an overdue visit with my family was great fun. I took my iPad along and shared it with my 11 year old niece; she enjoyed an app called JoiningHands. This seemingly simple app features various characters with hands that have to be matched. Peablins have 1, 2 or 3 hands which can spin around to match other Peablins. Brufflins have two inflexible  hands at "10 and 2", Poeglins don't get along well with others, so they require space around them. Take all these characters and imagine a game board that looks like a bee's honeycomb with rocks in some of the cells to form a wall barrier, pretty pink hearts for "safe" cells and golden stars to collect when landed on. Now arrange these characters so they all hold hands. Well, except the Poeglins, who have to stay a space away from all others. It's a strategy game that is fun for all ages. The current price is $2.99 at the app store.

My 80 year old mother, on the other hand, most enjoyed an app called Whirly Word  from Mighty, Mighty Good Games. Like many word games, this one presents a game board with 3 to 6 dots to fill complete to make a word. They are arranged alphabetically within their numbers, in other words, all the 3 letter words will be alphabetical, then the 4 letter words and so on. The pot of words is arranged in a nice big golden circle with an enter button in the center. You can Whirl the letters to see different combinations. Mom regularly plays a game called Text Twist every night on her laptop so she enjoys a good word game. Thanks for the recommendation mom, this one is free!

Tomorrow I start my summer school class, Technology Adventures and Google Apps at Facilitating the Future being held at our high school. Should be fun!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Change Has Started

Today, with the help of the school district custodial staff, Mrs. Nowak and I changed the layout of the library/media center. You will be surprised to see how it looks now! The shelves were awkward and very heavy, so we tried taking all the books off the shelves to make it easier. That worked pretty well, but we ran out of time to put the books back where they belong.

If you are coming to summer school next week, things might look like quite a mess in the library. Several summer helpers will be working the rest of this month to restore order.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Summer Reading at the Public Library

I stopped at the Spooner Memorial Library today to pick up a few items and browse through the book sale. I found a copy of the seventh, and final, Harry Potter book; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in good condition that I thought we could use at the elementary school. 

Then I moved into the children area where I filled my bookbag with lots of interesting picture books to think about new titles & authors to recommend for our school library. Such fun!

Next thing I knew there was a student asking me how to sign up for the summer reading program. How wonderful it was to see her. We found someone to help her get signed up, and then she was off riding her bike again. Pretty soon, two more students appeared, and they too were signing up for the summer reading program. Hooray!

My pick of the day is a paperback book called Books can be Deceiving: A Library Lover's Mystery by Jenn McKinlay who also writes the Cupcake Bakery Mysteries. This is a new author for me, but I love mysteries, especially those with a theme like the Goldy Bear Culinary series by Diane Mott Davidson. 

Happy Reading & all you kids -- go visit the public library. It's a great place to meet. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Last Day of School

It does not seem possible, but here we are at the last day of this school year. This morning's assembly featured a fitting tribute to all of the dedicated volunteers who give so much of their time to students in our school district.  There was a nice reception in the library afterwards. Thanks to the AmeriCorps team, also volunteers, who worked hard to pull this together.

This morning, I was able to show students their completed "Kindness Chain", made after the Rachel's Challenge program undertaken by the high school student body. Our students were challenged to complete a chain of kindness that would stretch from one end of the library to the other. They accomplished this, and more, with 714 links on the final chain. Well done students!

Congratulations to all of the 4th grade award recipients. Seeing the Good Citizen and the Academic Awards presented is always a highlight of the final day. I will miss you 4th graders and look forward to your switch day next spring when you get to return for the morning. Have a wonderful summer!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Winding Down for the School Year

As we approach this last full week of school, students are completing lessons on the subscription site and getting some extra reading time in with Raz-Kids. I will be sending home a reminder about continuing to visit these websites to keep skills sharp over the summer.

The Spooner Memorial Public Library will be sponsoring a very special program Tuesday night, May 22nd at our school called Astronomy for Everyone: Size & Scale of the Universe featuring Astrophysicist, Dr. Kevin Manning. Find out more at his website Look up at the Stars. His presentation includes hands on activities and a chance to view the night sky with a powerful telescope.  Meet in the gymnasium at 6:30 p.m.

This will be a kick-off event for the summer reading program sponsored by the public library called "Dream Big - READ". Students may begin signing up for summer reading fun on June 6th. Prizes will be awarded throughout the summer for reading in 15 minute time blocks, completing the reading log & bringing it back to the public library for a prize.
  • 1st prize   paperback book and bookmark from SpoonerKiwanis Club & Washburn Co. AODA
  • 2nd prize  Free video rental & finger beams from Schmitz's Economart
  • 3rd prize  Light-up bracelet & M&M bite size cookies
  • 4th prize  Aeroprop & Movie pass from the Palace Theater
Story Times are on WEDNESDAYS.
  • July 11   1:30 pm  Zoomobile - for animal lovers of all ages
  • July 18   1:30 pm  Mad Science - hovercraft & the amazing power of air
  • July 25  10:00 AM and 2:00 pm Fantasy Corral Petting Zoo
  • Aug. 1    1:30 pm  Jason Love - Magician
The public library has a great list of websites for Book Lovers and for summer reading Websites for Book Lovers.

Let's meet at the Public Library over the summer!


Saturday, May 12, 2012

ASSESSMENTS for Learning DOT com

Our Spooner Area School District subscribes to a digital learning environment called  where they say: "Today's students love technology. They want to master the Web, the computer and software tools to make smart use of the technology. We provide that opportunity, while at the same time, supporting them to improve as learners, ready for the 21st century."

Throughout the school year students in 1st through 4th grade have logged into to access lessons all about technology. They have learned about word processing, spreadsheets, data-bases, email, web searches and keyboarding.

At the end of the year 4th graders always take a Technology Literacy Assessment to measure their progress with technology training. This year, in addition, 3rd graders will also take this assessment. We've spent the last couple of weeks reviewing and talking about things like "what is a URL?"

I brought an old 3.5" diskette in to show students about how the little icon they see in the corner of our word processing program, which to them just means "save", used to be the way we old-timers would actually save our files back before flash drives, CD, DVD's and cloud storage solutions. They were interested to see the "floppy" disk inside and crowded around to get a chance to touch it.

Monday begins our assessments, so now I know the school year is winding down to a close.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mega Math Index

Thanks to the wonderful staff in the technology office, we now have indexed pages to all the Mega Math units for each grade. There are several ways to get to these pages. You can use this link Mega Math Kindergarten which links to the kindergarten index.

Once on this page, just look at the top to notice the unit numbers that will take you to an array of activities based on each unit.

Each grade has their own Mega Math page just like the kindergarten one.
Another way to access all of the pages at once is through my SES Technology page Website Links from Class.
Enjoy exploring Mega Math activities.

Monday, April 9, 2012

National Library Week, April 8-14—You belong @ your library.

National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use.

See what best-selling author and Honorary Chair of National Library Week, Brad Meltzer, has to say at YouTube about the impact of libraries on his life.  "Without librarians, I wouldn't be a writer today."

At Spooner Elementary we'll be having a special prize drawing for every student who returns a book during library class this week. Just bring back your book and fill out a ticket with your name to enter the drawing.

Activites in the Media Center will be going on all week. You Belong @ Your Library!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

At a recent staff meeting of the school district, I  was asked to give a presentation about a program called Leadership Washburn County or LWC. The LWC program is celebrating it's tenth year of programming in 2012. Over 100 men and women who wanted to improve their leadership skills and who live, or work, in Washburn County have completed the program.

Recruitment begins in mid-summer for a new class which starts in September with an overnight retreat at  Heartwood Conference Center. Applications for up to 14 people are submitted and approved by the board in late summer. Participants meet once a month for a day long session focused on issues of importance to our area. Graduation is held in May at the end of a half-day session featuring Arts & Culture.

Further information can be found here: Or, contact program coordinator, Beverly Stencel at the Washburn County UW-Extension Office, at 715-635-4444

My graduation was with of the class of 2003; Since then I have been a session planner, presenter and am currently serving as president of the board of directors. In thinking about the 10 year anniversary of the LWC program, the board decided to try a few new things including starting a newsletter, offering a one-day alumni seminar that happened in January, and a new Summer Camp.

The summer session will be held at Hunt Hill Audubon Sanctuary for those who are unable to attend the full 9-month session, which is often difficult for teachers who are just starting their own fall term. Summer Camp 2012 will be held June 20-22, 2012. Applications can be found at the link above and are due by Friday, May 18th.

These themes will be covered over the three days of camp:
1) Foundational Self-Awareness;
2) Working Well With Others; and
3) Understanding Your Community

I encourage you to check it out. It's a great opportunity to find out more about yourself and Washburn County.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Family Math Day was great fun!

Lots of students, families, HS helpers and community volunteers made their way around the school and stopped by the computer lab during Friday's Family Math Day. We had websites ready to go all about math and laptops in the library too. The book fair in the same space seemed to be very popular.

For anyone who forgot to pick up a handout there are links on my SES Technology page found on the Spooner Area School District website, or click below for the direct link.

You can sort each of the three columns using the SORT button. Try sorting in the Subject area column and look at the Math links.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Math Expressions to be featured on Family Math Day

Family Math Day Links:

MATH EXPRESSIONS is bookmarked in the MATH folder under Elementary Links in the computer lab and on the laptops at school. From home you can click here to access games, online textbooks, definitions and manipulatives that match our Math series. .
Also related to their math units is a page called MEGA MATH. We are working to get this link on the website, but until then try this link:  You need to know what unit they are working on, so it's not too user friendly right now. We've been going to this site in TECH class lately, so you student might remember which "color" is theirs.
Stay tuned for further information about a more user friendly link. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Spring Green for St. Patrick's Day

Not quite St. Patrick's Day, but our school has "gone green"! It's been a fun day here at Spooner Elementary. The weather is beautiful and I wish that I had windows in the computer lab.

We are working on math web-links that go with our math curriculum. One fun site for 1st and 2nd graders this week was Mega Math at  This long link brings up a list of the units they are working on. Both grades are on Country Countdown. Students can continue this work at home by clicking on the link above.

More next week as we prepare for our annual Family Math Day on Friday, March 23, 2012.

Monday, March 12, 2012

World Read Aloud Day was March 7, 2012

Today there was no school which I think must have helped everyone adjust to the change in the clocks yesterday. "Spring Ahead" is just what the weather is doing lately too.

Last week we celebrated World Read Aloud day on Wednesday the 7th with some choral reading in library classes and with a special Skype visit with author, Barb Rosenstock. She read to our afterschool groups her new book The Camping Trip that Changed America a story about Teddy Roosevelt meeting John Muir and how their friendship brought about important legislation to protect wild lands in America.

Ms. Rosenstock graciously answered questions from the audience and showed us her favorite books. Special thanks to afterschool leader and library volunteer Carol McDowall for arranging this special visit for our students.

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Day to Celebrate Presidents

"George Washington, the first president of the United States, was born on February 22, 1732. His birthday is celebrated as a federal holiday in the United States along with Abraham Lincoln's birthday on "Washington's Birthday" — the Monday before Washington's birthday and after Lincoln's February 12 birthday."  Source: Today in History from the Library of Congress 

Thanks to this federal holiday I am enjoying some extra time at home today. So, naturally, I am reading education blogs & trying to catch up on the swirl of ideas and cool links out there on the "web".

The above link to the Library of Congress has links to documents about President Washington including his inaugural address. There is also a link to videos demonstrating dance steps that would have been common in Washington's time. These are elegantly staged and show overhead shots of the dancers in full period costume.   I thought about Mr. Kern when watching. He will love these!

Here is one that you might like: The Kid Should See This.

Here is their explanation:
"There's just so much science, nature, music, art, technology, storytelling and assorted good stuff out there that my kids (and maybe your kids) haven't seen. It's most likely not stuff that was made for them...
But we don't underestimate kids around here. Kid-friendly not-made-for-kids videos for all!
Collected by Rion Nakaya and her three four year old co-curator."

Discover something new today!

Thursday, February 9, 2012


February means PowerPoint. 3rd graders are finishing up work on their Inventor presentations, while 4th graders are just starting this week on a presentation about Native American Tribes of Wisconsin. It was interesting to hear the kids say "I'm done", when they finished their typing. Some even asked if they could print. Next time I should do a better job of explaining just what this multi-media presentation is!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Welcome to my Spooner Area School District blog

I will try to share some thoughts, from time to time, about what happens in the areas that I work with.

Currently I am assigned to the elementary Library Media Center where K-4 students come once each week for a technology class in our computer lab, and another class in the library media center when they have the opportunity to check out books.

We are just at the start of a new quarter beginning tomorrow, which means we are already half-way though the school year. Time continues to fly by!