Posted by Libby Hamilton on Thursday, Mar 4th, 2010.

FREE! That is my favorite word. I guess it started years ago when I first started teaching and made very little money. I loved finding free or really cheap things that I could use in my classroom. That joy has never gone away and I still love finding things that are free that can be used not only by me but you in your class.

 I read and follow several blogs daily. Most are geared toward education and technology. The greatest thing is that most people in education feel the same way and are very generous and love sharing their free stuff. Now that the Internet exists most of my favorite free things are somehow connected to the Internet. Either sites that offer something such as a sample, free lessons, free graphics, free templates, etc. I am sharing some free sites today that might be fun to use in the class. Check them out!

1. Free Audio Books - Website - Books Should Be Free is a provider of free audio books.  There are hundreds of free audio books in a wide range of genres.  All of the books in the collection are either public domain or Creative Commons works.  These can be downloaded from the site or from Itunes.  These audio files could be used many ways. 

2.  I Love Schools - Website: I Love Schools is a website that offers a free service that helps teachers get supplies for their classroom.  You simply register and then start building a Wish List for new, used or in-kind products and services.  ILoveSchools will then match your need with donors in your community or accross the country!  What a great way to get needed items with school budgets tightening!

3.  Free Video - There are many sites that offer videos other than youtube.  KidsKnowIT Network has educational "movies" over Science, History, Math, Memory, and Spelling. These are simple animated movies, not very high tech and more suitable for elementary.  They also have online games that could be used with your SMARTboards over the same subject areas.

More to follow!

Posted by Libby Hamilton on Friday, Jan 29th, 2010.
Azle teachers have a wonderful asset that many area not even using. Each teacher in the district has a website. This is provided to your from the school district at no charge. I know of teachers that use outside websites to create a classroom website and PAY their own money to have that site.

School Center websites are actually very easy to work in and can be a wonderful tool for the classroom teacher. You can use your website to: post a classroom calendar, your schedule, and supply lists. But, did you know you can also use it as a place to "post" documents such as spelling or vocabulary lists, handouts, worksheets, your class syllabus, test reviews, post links to educational websites, links to the textbook website, use it for special announcements and on and on. I know as a parent I would have loved to have been able to print at home the spelling list my son forgot to bring home!

I realize that it is not easy to add one more thing to your already lengthy list of things you need to do! But, I truly feel that creating a website that works for you can be a wonderful asset and in the long run actually save you some time. Remember, web pages are a work in progress, get it started, get comfortable with working in the site and add to it gradually.

If you are stuck and don't know where to start get on the Internet and start by looking at other school district/campus/teacher websites to get some ideas. See what other teachers are putting on their web page that teach the same course or level that you do.
Posted by Libby Hamilton on Tuesday, Jan 5th, 2010.
Even though I love the computer and rely on the Internet daily for all kinds of things including news I still enjoy reading the morning newspaper with my coffee. While we were on break and I was in my home state of Missouri I was reading the St. Louis Post Dispatch and came upon an article titled "Plenty has changed in 10 years" written by Jocelyn Noveck for The Associated Press. It was fascinating! Since I write about technology I will focus on just the changes involving the tech things!

Do you remember when someone talked about a blackberry and it was in the context of jam or a cobbler? Blackberrys are now essential for many including President Obama were introduced in 2002 and the smartphone version is now used by more than 28 million people, according to its maker, Research In Motion. I know that I am totally lost without mine and am even more in love with my new one that I was with the old one.

Blog? This is one and according to this article there are over 100 million Web logs out in cyberspace! I remember not so many years ago when I became involved with Discovery Education and needed to subscribe to a blog to stay abreast of what was happening. I didn't think it was really a big deal so I subscribed or let me say I tried to subscribe but it was blocked by the filter. At that time I had to submit the request to my building principal who then forwarded it to the technology director who then forwarded it to the director of finance who then sent it to the superintendent. When the superintendent approved me subscribing to the Discovery Ed blog it then followed the same path in reverse. Boy have we come a long way baby!

Are you connected? It seems everyone is connected wirelessly now. Surfing the Internet has never been easier. You can use your cellphone to surf or simply use your new netbook with a built in card that will connect to the Internet anywhere.

GPS? I guess it is impossible to get lost anymore-well almost impossible. You just need to make sure to give the GPS the right information. The paper mentioned a couple that made a 400 mile mistake this year by typing "Carpi" rather than "Capri". I've heard of devices that can be put in cars so you can know where your teenager is in your car. I personally like that one since my son is way too close to 16. I hope to own one before he turns 16!

There are many more to follow tomorrow!
Posted by Libby Hamilton on Monday, Jan 4th, 2010.

Welcome to a new year and the start of a new decade. It seems that part of starting a new year is reflecting on the year that has passed and the changes it brought to our life. I always think back to my maternal grandmother when I think about how far we have come. My grandmother was born in Indiana and as a young girl moved via covered wagon to the Southeast corner of Missouri. By the time she passed a way she had seen man travel in wagons, cars and jet planes. She had ridden in all three. That may not sound like much to us in 2010 but it always brings to my mind how quickly things really do change. As I prepare for the new year I can't help but reflect on the many advances of the most recent decade, how they have affected not only me, but my students and the way we teach.

Of course, most recently we have the new SMARTboards in Azle ISD classrooms. When I was in college taking my education courses one of the course requirements was writing on a blackboard. We were graded on how straight our writing was and the formation of the letters. This was a chalk board and we used chalk. Now we have a SMARTboard and we can write on it with a pen that is just plastic and doesn't even have ink!

I know that in 1992 when I first came to Azle I was so excited to have a computer in my classroom. Looking back now I wonder why I was so excited about that old Apple IIe that really couldn't do much. If I had been told in 1992 that in 2010 I would have taught students how to use computers, own several desktop computers of my own and have a device called a "laptop" that I could carry with me--- I wouldn't have believed you.

On those old Apple IIe computers we had to a 5.25 inch floppy to store our files. When they finally becam double-sided, double density they still only held about 1.2mg of data. In the 1980"s the 3.5 inch floppy arrived and was introduced by Sony. A smaller package but it didn't hold much more than the 5.25. Today online I found a site that still sells 3.5" floppy disks at 39 cents each. They advertise on their site - a 2 GB flash drive for $9.99 that equals the storage space of 650 3.5" floppies! In the early 1990's there was no Azle network, a p drive, a cd drive, flash drive or dvd. Now new computers don't even have a floppy drive. I can't tell you the last time I even used a floppy drive let alone where any floppies are. This summer when I moved things to my office I threw them all away. I think if you were to ask many students they also don't know what a floppy disk is either.

Talking about storage - I remember when I got my first flash drive I was the first person in the building where I taught to have such a wonderful device! It would hold 125 MB of data! I thought it was so amazing. I guarded it with my life and now I have 10 small ones, and 2 that hold over 100 gb! I've backed up my whole p drive and have space left.

What about cameras? I remember buying film, loading it in the camera and when the roll was finished you would take it somewhere to be developed. Back in the old days, it had to be sent off, then we got 1 hour developing and thought how great. Now-I never use film anymore, we all have digital cameras and many have cameras on their phones. To think about growing up and the only phone we had at home was attached to the wall and had a cord and to know who was calling you had to answer the phone first!

More tomorrow!
Posted by Libby Hamilton on Wednesday, Dec 16th, 2009.
At one of the SMARTboard trainings I was asked to look for Reading Fluency websites that could be used with the SMARTboard. As I have had time I have been surfing around looking for some. I have used some search engines and I Keep Bookmarks. If you are not familiar with I Keep Bookmarks, watch here for more information about that site tomorrow!

Now on to Reading Fluency! The first site that I found was part of Scholastic. Scholastic has been around a long time. This site is limited and I'm not sure that it is the best, but it could be helpful. It presents a sentence, the "computer" voice reads the sentence aloud and asks the student to identify a word in the sentence by clicking on it. I see it being more useful for English learners.

Another site is Their slogan is "Where children have fun learning to read!" Per their site they opened in September 2002 as a free public service to motivate children to read with phonics. They say they are perfect for preschool, Kindergarten, First grade, Second grade, English development and special education. This site is interactive and would work well with a class and your SMARTboard. This site would be appealing to the younger students.

Due to time constraints I will add more to this section!

 Scholastic Reading
Posted by Libby Hamilton on Friday, Dec 11th, 2009.
Make learning fun! Use your SMARTboard for educational games. It really isn't as hard as you think and I'm sure your students will enjoy them. They can be also used for review and rewards.

I have found several sites that have templates that you can download and adapt to your subject and level. You can adapt that old worksheet in to an interactive form, have the students write questions, use resources from your textbook, etc.

The first link contains a nice group of game templates, directions, and some have the actual music from the show--it includes The Price is Right, $100,000 Pyramid, Hollywood Squares, The Weakest Link, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, The Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, Family Feud, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader, Deal or No Deal, Concentration and Survivor.

The second link from Ardsley Middle School contains some of the same games and they are already in SMARTboard notebook files.

The third is an Instructional Technology website. They offer some that are different such as Connect Four, Boogle, Chutes and Ladders, Monopoly, Yahtzee, Sorry, Hollywood Squares and Fly Swatter.

The fourth site for today is from a school district in my home state of Missouri - Wright City. They have several of the same but some that are different like football, golf, Koosh ball template, and a Getting to Know you game.

The last one is a site that has links to many sites with game templates.

Open them and check them out, if you like them download them and add your content. I think the students will enjoy them!

Posted by Libby Hamilton on Thursday, Dec 10th, 2009.
My most recent blog was more appropriate for teachers in lower levels. So, I thought today I would address using the SMARTboard at the secondary level. I know that when you pull up websites it seems that many are very elementary. It does take some searching but there are lessons for secondary out there and hopefully I can help you find some.

The first site I would like to show you to is the SMARTboard site itself. It is located in the Educator resources section. Please note the link below. It is divided into two sections -grades 7-9 and 10-12. You can select a grade level and it then offers you the option of filtering by subject. You can also use the search feature if desired.

The next site that I have included is the Instructional Technology Department at Wichita Public School District. I have found that many major school districts and technology departments set up webpages with links for their staff. They are out there for you to use as well. On this site when you click on the Lesson Title it will offer you the option of opening or saving the lesson. I always suggest opening it first to see if it is something that you would even like. If so, then download it and save it to your computer or p drive. It will be in a SMARTboard notebook file.

Jeopardy type games are very popular to use with SMARTboards. I found this site just today and haven't really checked it out completely but it lets you build your own Jeopardy games online. This site is a project by Matt Johnson, an undergraduate at Washington State University. When you save your template you are given a URL to play the template. It looks easy and fun to use.

Don't forget, you can subscribe to this blog and when I update it you will be notified!

Posted by Libby Hamilton on Tuesday, Dec 8th, 2009.
I love finding educational sites that can be used with your SMARTboard. One of my favorites has become "Teachers Love SMARTBoards". This site is a winner of Edublog's 2008 Best Ed Tech Support award. Make sure to check out the archives because there are tons of great resources to be found.

I remember what it is like to be an elementary teacher and not able to take your students out for recess. I think using the SMARTboard during recess time can be entertaining, educational and fun. I have included in the links area some seasonal games and educational games that would be fun for recess.

If you have ever used the Shel Silverstein book "The Giving Tree" at Christmas, the guy from "Teachers Love SMARTboards" blog has a cool SMARTboard lesson on his site. Look for the link.

I have added a link to North This site includes holiday stories that are read aloud and many activities including educational ones such as: alphabet, Math flashcards, Math Riddles, telling time, and many others at the Elf Pal Academy.

Another site, Merry contains matching, patterns, trivia, tic tac toe and many others that can be fun as well as using memory and other skills.

As always I would recommend checking them out before using with your students. Look for more educational links to use with your SMARTboard again tomorrow.

Posted by Libby Hamilton on Monday, Nov 23rd, 2009.
I will be updating this "blog" hopefully daily with tips, tricks and links that you can use in your classroom.

You can subscribe to this blog and when I make updates you will be notified and won't miss something exciting!

If you need help locating a resource for use in your class please feel free to email me at any time. I subscribe to several blogs myself and am always looking for new and exciting ideas incorporating technology in your classes.