Monday, December 13, 2010

Project PLN #4

I wanted to share this issue of Project PLN with all of you before the holiday break. For those of you who do not know, Project PLN is a monthly magazine that I put together with a friend that collects blog posts on various topics. This month's issue is all about great web tools. There are some great tools in this issue that you should check out. Take a look around and see how you might be able to use this in your classroom.

Project PLN Issue 4

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Edublog Awards Voting

I wanted to send this out before the voting closes on Tuesday at midnight. I would really appreciate it if you would vote for my blog, The Nerdy Teacher,  in the Best New Blog and Best Teacher Blog. It turns out that the school district could win a year long blogging subscription which teachers could use with their students.  When I have a chance to bring free tech to the district it is always a great thing. Please stop by here and here to vote for my blog and hopefully I'll be able to bring some new tech to the district. Thanks again for your continued support and enjoy the holiday break!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tech Tuesday 12/7

Happy December everyone! This school year has moved along so quickly. The end of the year is moving closer and I have some goodies to share with all of you and a little self promotion. Take a look and what I have and let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

Voting is now open for The Edublog Awards and I've been honored to be nominated in the Best New Blog and Best Teacher Blog for my personal blog The NerdyTeacher. The Edublog Awards recognize amazing educational blogs from all over the world. I share this with you not just to get votes (Please vote), but to share with you the other amazing resources out there. As you vote, checkout the other sites. I read many of them regularly and share their finds with you often. This is worth a look. Thanks.

Holiday Fun

For all of the teachers that are looking for holiday themed fun for their classroom, take a look at this Livebinder from @2Sparkley. It's a wonderful collection of goodies that includes, coloring, crafts and much much more.  Here is the link if the district computers are not displaying the image below.

Holiday Binder

Digital Hamster

This is an adorable little widget you can add to your website that is completely interactive. Students can feed it or make it run on the wheel. This would be fun to put up on the Smartboard. The best part is that you do not have to clear a cage! Check this out.


This is a great interactive site on Chemistry. There is a wealth of information on chemists and various experiments that teachers can set up for their students. This is great site to share with your class that could be a tremendous resource for the classroom. Take a minute and check out this great site.

Take a moment and look over these amazing resources and give them a try!

- Nick

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tech Tuesday 11/30

Here is another Tech Tuesday blog post for everyone. See what you can use in your classroom. I also wanted to remind you that I will be moving to a twice a month updating schedule. This will allow me a little more time to find the best of the best to share with you. It will also allow me a little more time to work on my Masters. :-)

Happy Tech Tuesday everyone. Here are some great resources that could spice up any lesson plan. Take a look at some of these sites and see how these might be used in your class.
Web 2.0  Projects - First, here is a Wikipedia definition of Web 2.0 - The term "Web 2.0" is commonly associated with web applications that facilitate interactive information sharing, interoperability, user-centered design,[1] and collaboration on the World Wide Web.

I have have tremendous success with struggling learners and reluctant learners by incorporating more Web 2.0 into my lessons and allowing them to use Web 2.0 in their class projects. I have found that allowing students to use tools that allow them to collaborate with one another really allows growth in understanding. This link will take you to some great student examples of Web 2.0 tools. You will find examples of Blogging, VoiceThread, Wikis, Nings, Animoto, Photopeach and Xtranormal. I highly suggest you take a look at Xtranormal because there is a rapping Einstein that will have you rolling. Do not feel overwhelmed with all of these new tools. Just think about adding one to your lesson at a time. You might just want to have some fun with it and present it to the class as a part of something you are teaching. That might spur kids to experiment with the tools themselves and use them for their next project.

Stag'D! - Here is a great site that I heard about from @ktenkely and her blog iLearnTechnology. Check out the complete review that she gave the site here. Long story short, Stag'D allows students to tell stories in 3D. I can see this being used in many different ways in my English class. I could have students use it to re-create events from stories we are reading to emphasize themes, symbols, motifs, etc. Social studies classes could use this to re-create historical moments or speeches. It is another fun and interactive tool that allows students to not just learn material, but to create with it. Creating with the new information has made a real difference in my classes and I think Stag'D is another great tool to facilitate that creativity.

Here is a great collection of Copyright Free and Public Domain Images. I'm not sure if I shared this exact link or another one with similar free pics, but we can never have enough resources in our pocket as teachers. This is worth linking on your class website, the school website and even the library website so students can use pictures for projects and presentations without violating copyright laws.

I hope you take a look at these sites and pass them around to others if you find anything worth while. As these students spend more time collaborating online with their peers, it is important that we start to look at tapping into these great resources to connect them to learning inside of the classroom. If you are looking for something specific, don't forget to drop me a line and I'll see what I can do.

- Give it a try!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

5th Hour Freshman English Special Project and Tech Tuesday

My 5th Hour Freshmen English students wanted to create a special project for the students of Van Meter High School. My other classes were working on various projects to introduce the students of Van Meter to Michigan, Detroit and our city of Grosse Pointe. They thought it would be cool if they gave a tour of the school but did it with a Lip Dub. I supported the kids in their project, but told them this project would be on them to organize and execute. For two weeks, the kids broke into groups and worked on various parts of the project. Some students were in charge of props and others were in charge of getting permission from the administration to film at school in the morning. A couple of students had their math class figure out the distance that could be covered during the length of the songs that were chosen! It was so exciting to see the students work on something they were passionate about. My only rules were that everyone participate and that they write a short reflective piece (That can be found here). Please feel free to comment on the Kidblog; the kids would love to receive feedback from other people. The kids worked hard and what you are going to see is the completed video. The students are still editing to come up with a directors cut with bloopers, credits, etc. More than anything, this truly shows what students can accomplish when they are give the chance to be creative. I hope you enjoy the video.

The songs in this video are Happy Together by The Turtles (Covered by Simple Plan), Our Time Now by the Plain White Tees and Here It Goes Again by OK GO.

A final thanks goes to Mr. Geresy for putting the video together and hosting on the new video site. If you have not checked out the site, make some time to do so. It is very cool. 

Animated Gettysburg Address by Adam Gault

My friend Kelly shared this on her blog the other day and I thought I would pass it on to everyone. I thought this woudl just be good for Social Studies teachers to use, but I really think it could be used in English classes as well. Teachers could have students create similar project for other famous speeches or poems studied in class. By concentrating on literary terms like tone, students could create visual representations of the speeches or poems. It would be a great way to allow student to dive into a piece of writing instead of just letting them read it or hear it in class. Let your mind run wild with the different possibilities.

Skype Education
As some of you may know, the teachers in our district can now use Skype in the classroom. There have been resources shared about connecting with teachers on this site, but now Skype has joined the conversation. Starting in December, Skype is going to launch their Beta Skype Education system. Teachers can sign up, for free, and list their information for teachers all over the world to see. This will allow teachers to connect with other classes from around the world. I’m very excited to see Skype enter the educational field and create a space for educators. Take a look at the site and sign up when you get a chance. Opening up your classroom to the world is one of the best things you can do for your students.

Lastly, here is a quote I read on my Google Reader I would like to share.

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

I hope everyone has a great day and a wonderful break. All of us have earned it. Happy Thanksgiving.

- Give it a try!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tech Tuesday 11/16

Sorry for the lateness of the post. I had it ready to go, but I forgot to send it out out today. My students just wrapped an amazing project I'm excited to share with everyone once the finishing touches are in place. Look for it next Tuesday. On to the tech!

Study Jams 

Scholastic Study Jams are awesome! This site is a Scholastic site that focuses on Math and Science. Students can learn about Volcanoes, Photosynthesis, The Universe and Creating Equations From Word Problems. Each concept has video, slide shows, important vocabulary and tests. Using fun and unique ways to present material, Study Jams is a great way for teachers to re-enforce concepts in the classroom. Parents should consider using Study Jams to allow their children to explore areas of interest outside of school. When I think back to my struggles in Math and Science, all I had for support was Math Blaster. Sites like Study Jams by Scholastic are great resources to help children understand concepts they might be struggling to understand. I highly recommend checking out Study Jams for use at home or in the classroom.

StoryLine Online

StoryLine Online is a great site that has actors read children books. I stumbled upon it on my Google Reader and thought that this would be something all teachers and parents could use. Below, you will see Jason Alxeander, from Seinfeld fame, reading the book Dad, Are You the Tooth Fairy?

The site is free to use and supported by the Screen Actors Guild and it worth a look. You can show Betty White reading Harry the Dirty Dog or To Be a Drum read by James Earl Jones. There are activity guides that can be downloaded with each story and used with the children before and after the story. I think this is a great way to bring something a little different into the classroom. 

That's it for this week. I hope these couple of sites make their way into someone's classroom in the future. I hope everyone has a great week. Remember, give it a try!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Tech Tuesday for November 9

Blogging in the Classroom K-12

I was in Kansas City, MO this weekend and I had a chance to present with some amazing friends of mine. Becky Goerend, Kristina Peters and Shannon Miller all use blogging in very different ways for their students. Here is the video of our presentation. I'm near the end talking about how I use it with my students daily and how I use it to connect to students I work with in Van Meter, Iowa. If you would like to connect with any of these teachers, please let me know and we can set something up.

This is it for this week. It was a busy weekend in Iowa and Kansas City. I had a chance to spend the day in Van Meter and actually meet the students that my Freshmen are working with this year. It was a great experience. If any teacher wants to connect their classroom with another for different types of projects, I have people lined up waiting to work with you. Just send me an email and we can make it happen.

Starting in December, Provenzano's GPS Tech Guide will go from a weekly update to a bi-weekly update. I want to provide everyone with the best content out there, and it is easier to search over two weeks than one week. As I get deeper into my Masters and as essays pile up, I do not have as much free time to devote to this venture. I wish I could do even more for everyone out there, but I have my responsibilities in the classroom I cannot ignore. I will still always be available to help anyone out if they have questions. Thanks for being a great staff!

- Nick

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tech Tuesday for Novemeber 2

This week will be a short Tech Tuesday because I will be presenting on Blogs, Tweets and Skype. Below I will post my presentation for anyone that could not attend my song and dance. Yes, there will be singing and dancing. I'm a full service presenter. :-)

The Balancing Act

I've been asked to be the educational blogger for a show on the Lifetime Television Network called The Balancing Act.  I'll post once a week on various educational issues for parents from a teacher's perspective. I think it is a great chance for parents from all over the country to actually hear from a teacher about how they can help their kids at home after they have spent the day with us. This is an exciting new adventure for me and I appreciate all of the support teachers have given my other blogs. That gave me the confidence to tackle this and see what happens. Feel free to share the site with others.

Blogs, Tweets and Skype

This presentation will not make a ton of sense without me being there to voice over (I will do a screen cast when I have time), but there are some great links and videos that can help explain Blogging, RSS feeds, Twitter and Skype. It's worth a look and feel free to email me with any questions.

Carryout text

Here is a very cool site that takes the text you type and convert it to MP3 files. This is something that could be great for students that have a hard time reading and understanding notes in class. Special Ed departments could use this for struggling students.

The site is currently in the Beta testing phase and might have some bugs, but it is currently free and worth a try if you are looking for a way to help certain students.If you know of teachers that do not read this blog but would benefit from something like this, please pass this along to them. I think this could do great things for some students and their teachers. Thanks to @MZimmer557 and his blog for sharing this great site.

That's it for today everyone. I hope you learn some great things in your Tech PD and use them in your class. Don't feel rushed to use them, just give them a try!

- Nick

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tech Tuesday 10/26

Hello everyone! I hope this Tuesday find you well. I only have a couple of resources today and a cool experience I had while at a conference on Wednesday.

I was at the #140 Character Conference in Detroit on Wednesday. This was my first non-education conference and it was exciting. The focus on the conference was on social media and real time communication in different parts of the business world. I was asked to be on a panel to discuss my use of social media in my classes. Here is the video of my panel.

We received tons of positive feedback from people on Twitter. It actually went so well that I was a trending topic on Twitter in Detroit!  

Here is a cool article from that summed up the event and mentioned the education panel.

Overall, the conference was very interesting as I talked to people who were interested in the things I was doing in the classroom. I really started to get a better idea of the perception of education by "outsiders". Educators are really viewed as reluctant adopters of new technology in the classroom. I would to agree with them. Not all teachers are reluctant to integrate technology into the classroom, but there are many. To be honest, the people that I'm talking about are the ones that hit delete when my Tech Tuesday email appears in their inbox. 

I'm not going to go on a rant and tell everyone why they need to use tech in their classroom. I will say that there is a perception of teachers and technology that is fed by reluctant teachers that overshadow the teachers that are being innovative with technology. It's not just using the tool to make kids smarter, it's about using technology to give students options and diversify the amazing lessons that are already in place. Consider trying to bring one new tech tool to your class by the fourth marking period this year. See what type of impact it can have on your lessons and the students in the classroom.

This is a great site for English classes. A student can type in any verb and the site will show the different conjugations. It also has a translate function! It a very fun and simple site that teachers can use with younger students to show them the different conjugations of verbs. Share this with students so they can take it home and use it there.

Like Geometry? Eucliding Me, Right?

Here is a great article on Geometry and it has some fun sites to use in class to break up the week. One of the site focuses on the Geometry of Baseball. Math teachers are always telling me that it is tough to use technology in the classroom. Well, I hope these games help with that problem.

Punctuation Practice

Here are a great collection of sites that would work wonderfully on the Smartboard that allows students to practice their punctuation skills. Take a look at the different sites and see which ones would work well with your students. Good punctuation is something that is tested on ACT/MME exams. The more practice students can get, the better.

I hope everyone enjoyed this weeks Tech Tuesday and I hope you try something new and share it with other teachers.

As always, give it a try!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tech Tuesday for 10/19

Happy Tuesday everyone! I hope October is treating everyone well. The next few weeks are going to be busy for me as I embark on a few conferences and get started on some exciting new web based projects with  my students. More details will come in the future. Here some good resources for you to use in your classroom. Enjoy!

Digital Storytelling

I'm not even sure why I write a blog. Kelly Tenkely always has an amazing collection of web tools for teachers to enjoy. As teachers look for more interesting ways for students to present information, Kelly has collected 31 great digital storytelling tools in one place. Kelly's site, iLearn Technology, always has a great collection of web tools for teachers to integrate into their curriculum.

Digital storytelling is a fun way for students to present projects. Book reports can be replaces with exciting and interactive presentations that really allow students to work with the material instead of just writing up a report. As education becomes more and more digital based, digital storytelling is a great way to start getting young students used to using web based tools.

Fun Halloween Interactive Games

Here is a great collection of interactive Halloween games for our younger students. There are fun math games, description games, matching games, Halloween Dress-up Games and many more great games for the interactive whiteboard in your classroom. As we get closer to Halloween, consider adding these to class for your students to have fun and learn at the same time. Thanks to Karen Ogen and InTech InSights for compiling this great list.

Education Revolution

Quite simply, if you care about education, you should watch these videos. Sir Ken Robinson gave two talks about what is ailing the educational system. He says that education needs a revolution to save our students. He uses this quote from President Lincoln,   

"The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country."

I love this quote when thinking about education. Education is at a crossroads and fixing a broken system is not going to cut it.

The first talk was in 2006 and his follow up talk was in 2010. He is very funny and makes excellent points. If you think education as a whole is heading in the wrong direction, watch these videos and share them with other teachers. Click here if you can't watch the videos on the page from school.

140 Character Conference

Lastly, I want to share with you a very cool event that I will actually be speaking at on Wednesday. The 140 Character Conference is a national conference that is coming to Detroit. According to the website,

"Since the launch of the #140conf events, conferences have taken place in: New York City, Los Angeles, London and Tel Aviv. At these events we have explored the effects of twitter on a wide range of topics including: Celebrity, “The Media”, Advertising, Politics, Fashion, Real Estate, Music, Education, Public Safety and Public Diplomacy.

The #140conf events provide a platform for the worldwide twitter community to: listen, connect, share and engage with each other, while collectively exploring the effects of the emerging real-time internet on business.

Our schedule will be unique and fast paced. It is our intention to provide a platform for as many people as possible to share their thoughts and engage in conversation with the attending delegates. You will find individual talks set to: 10 minutes; “Featured talks” 15 and the various panel discussions are set for 10 to 20 minutes.

The take aways from this event will provide the attending delegates knowledge, perspectives and insights to the effects the real-time internet will have on both “we” the people, business and society."

I'm really excited to be speaking at this conference on the importance of Real Time Communication in Education. I've seen the amazing impact RTC has had on the students in my classroom and on teachers around the world. I can't wait to meet with people from all over the area to discuss the value of Social Media on society. I'll be speaking at 10:15. Look here,

 You can watch me live on the 140 Character Conference site. It should be a blast. 

I hope you take a look at some of the things I have shared to today. I'll have some more info in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

As always, give it a try!

- Nick

Monday, October 11, 2010

Tech Tuesday #101

Happy Tech Tuesday everyone! Here is post #101. It's filled with some goodies I hope you enjoy. See if there is anything you can use in your classroom.

The Tower Pulse

The Tower Pulse is brand new with some exciting new content. We have the video of the surprise teacher dance at homecoming. Thanks to Lisa Kurtz for taking the time to teach us the dance moves. We did our best and the kids loved it.

We have some interesting articles on what teachers are doing in the their classrooms and a fun video of Michigan vs. Michigan State predictions. Stop by The Tower Pulse and see what the kids are doing.

Project PLN Issue #2

The October Issue of Project PLN is out and worth a read. Project PLN is an online collection of posts by teachers from all over the world that I have collected with the help of a friend. Please take a moment and read this month's issue. The focus is on great ways to start off a class or a new unit. There are some very exciting ideas being shared by some great teachers.

projectpln10 - Project PLN Issue 2

The November Issue is going to be all about Administrators. Are you and Administrator? Do you have some advice to other Admins or teachers? If you are interested in sharing those ideas, please send an email to and you could be published in the November issue! I hope to see some submissions from Grosse Pointe Public Schools.

Interactive Water Cycle Game

Here is a very cool site shared by InTec InSights: Technology Integration Ideas for your Classroom. This is a game designed for the Smartboard that allows student to interact with the Water Cycle. Students can move the water around and see liquid evaporate and move into the sky. This is a fun way to see the science happen and allow students to interact with the concepts. A new and exciting way to present a simple concept for students. Check this one out.


Glogster has been on my "to blog about" list for a while now, then I found this post that explains the uses of Glogster better than I could. Before I send you to the site, let me explain a little about what Glogster is to see if it is for you and your students. Glogs are graphic blogs. They are places where people can present ideas through a visual medium. Think of them as digital poster boards. People can add  many different types of media (Video, Songs, etc.) to their glog and share it with anyone they want. Glogs can be embedded into blogs like this,

Click on the link to see the interactive Glog. This one takes students to different glogs about the different literary terms. Each literary term has its own glog with pictures, definition and an audio example. It is a fun and interactive way for students to present information. Here are four examples a coule of students created for a presentation on The Great Gatsby.

If you are curious on how to integrate Glogs into your content area, check out this site that provides some great examples. Thanks to InTec InSights: Technology Integration Ideas for your Classroom for putting together a nice post.

Bloom's Digital Taxonomy

Here is a great piece that has taken Bloom's Taxonomy and configured it to apply to our new digital world. The graph showing the Higher Order Thinking Skills is amazing! If you are thinking about integrating more technology into your classroom and are looking for the best ways to do so, this wiki will show you how to get it done. Thanks to Andrew Churches for putting this great wiki together and sharing it with the rest of us.

The Learning Progression in the Interactive Whiteboard Classroom

I wanted to share this last bit of information with you before we end our weekly Tech Tuesday. A very good friend of mine, Julie Lachance, is an amazing educator. How amazing? She was selected by ISTE as the Outstanding Young Educator of the Year 2010 and was named North Carolina Instructional Technology Educator of the Year for 2009. She is also a heck of a bowler. Anyway she put together a very helpful chart on how teachers use IWBs in the class room. Take a look and see where you are on the chart and what the next step is.

Thanks to everyone for reading the blog and sharing your thoughts and ideas with me. I've got some really cool things going on next week that I can't wait to share with you. Keep your eyes peeled for some exciting stuff.

As always, give it a try!


Monday, October 4, 2010

Happy Tech Tuesday! My 100th Post!

100 Posts! Who would have thought I would have made it this far. Thanks to everyone that has read this blog and sent me emails of support. I only keep doing this because I like knowing that I'm helping teachers help students. I have a few things here that I think are valuable. Take a minute and see if you find something useful. Please feel free to comment or send me an email with any thoughts or ideas about any of these tools or one that you have heard of that you would like me to share with others.

The Tower Pulse

The Tower Pulse is a new online component of Grosse Pointe South' student newspaper The Tower. Kelli Fimbinger and I are the adviser of The Pulse and we couldn't be any prouder of the work our students have put in to make this possible. This came about because one student was passionate enough to bug Jeff Nardone into convincing us to make it happen. :-) We are looking to have the site updated 3 times a week with new content in the sports, entertainment, clubs and features sections. We will grow as the weeks pass to include a variety of different content. Creating this site was not as difficult as it might seem and other schools might want to consider bringing this to your students. Check out this exciting new part of the South family and please leave a comment for the students. They would love to hear the positive feedback.

Connected Principals

I spend a good deal of my time looking for great sites for teachers to use in their classroom to help students learn. I always try to find something for everyone, so when my Twitter friend, George Couros, started a blog dedicate to Principals, I had to make sure I shared it with the administrators in Grosse Pointe. In the blogs about me page it says, "This blog is the shared thoughts of school administrators that want to share best practices in education. All of the authors have different experiences in education but all have the same goal; what is best for students." I think this says it all about this blog. George has worked hard to bring great administrators from all over the country together to share their ideas regarding education. Just as it is important for teachers to talk to other teachers and learn from one another, it is just as important for administrators to talk to others outside of their district and see what they can learn. I would love to see Grosse Pointe administrators join this blog and share what we do in the best district in the State of Michigan. Consider that a challenge. :-)

Connect to the World Using Twitter

The other day some fellow teachers were giving me a hard time about using Twitter. They cracked jokes about not caring if I was going to the supermarket or pumping gas. I'm not going to argue those points. That information is not important. However, it shows the lack of understanding of how Twitter can be used. Twitter, like most social networking tools, is what you make of it. It can be used to share your every waking moment with the world, it can be used to share bits of celebrity gossip, but it can also be used to connect with like minded professionals. I have used Twitter this year with my students and it has been working out great! I post the days' homework for each prep on Twitter and those Tweets are sent directly to my website.

Students and parents can see the information on the front page of my teacher site. They can also check it from there phone if they have signed up with Twitter. Students have already commented that it has made getting assignments a little easier at the end of the day. 

Here is a video a good Twitter friend of mine has put together. Shelly Terrell is an amazing person and she gave a Keynote Speech at a conference about using Twitter to connect with other teachers. I know have written a few posts on using Twitter, but I feel that it is important enough to harp on until more teachers get on board. Twitter is not a fad and it can be used to make yourself a better teacher and solve some problems you might be having in the classroom. It is the best Professional Development I have ever received and it is available 24/7. Here is a video that explains using Twitter to connect to other teachers worldwide. It's only 3 minutes, so please watch it and keep an open mind. 

Progressive Phonics

Progressive Phonics is a site I learned about from Kelly Tenkely's blog iLearn Technology and she got it from @rmbyrne's blog Free Tech for Teachers. Progressive Phonics is a free site that provides phonics books for download. You can print as much as you would like and all it requires is a simple registration. Instead of re-inventing the wheel, please click here for Kelly's full review of the site. I will say that this is a very cool site that would be very helpful for teachers of younger students and parents looking for good resources to use at home with their own children.

Professional Development 2.0 – the eBook

This is an e-book put together by my good Twitter friend Jason T. Bedell. He tackles some very great topics about growing as a teacher and using web tools to not only enhance the learning of the students in the classroom, but it also provides information on how these tools can make you a better teachers. It is a free book you can download and read at your own pace. Some of the topics include, social networks, bookmarking, blogging, unconferences and much much more. I would really like the administrators of the district to look at this e-book and see how the teachers in your building could be using these tools to help our students. Click here to go to Jason's website. 

As always, thanks for stopping by and give it a try!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Happy Tech Tuesday! 9/28

Happy Tech Tuesday everyone! I hope the school days are treating you well. I want to give a shout out to the Varsity Boys Football team from South. After 8 long years, they finally beat North. Congrats to them and the North team for playing such a great game.

I have a handful of goodies this week I found on my Google reader that I can't wait to share with you. Take a look around and see how you might be able to incorporate them into your class.

Rocks and Minerals

Here is a great blog I found that has collected a bunch of different Rocks and Minerals sites for students. Some are very interactive and would be great on our Smartboards. They range from Elementary school through Junior High. Some of these would be a great way to introduce a unit on Rocks and Minerals or provide a review for a lesson already covered. Thanks to InTec InSights for putting together this collection.

Disney's Planet Challenge

According to their website, "Disney’s Planet Challenge (DPC) is a project-based learning environmental competition for classrooms across the United States. DPC teaches kids about science and conservation while empowering them to make a positive impact on their communities and planet." 

"Beginning this year, DPC will offer two tracks of competition: the Elementary School track (Grades 3-5) and the BRAND NEW Middle School track (Grades 6-8)!"

Registration Deadline Friday, December 17, 2010

Project Submission Deadline Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Winners Announcement The Second Week of April, 2011

Winners Celebration May, 2011

I think this would be a great way to include classes in a very fun and important project that can have a positive impact on them and the environment. Take a look at this project and I really hope some of you bring this to your class.
Pay Attention

The video is a little long, but it brings up an interesting point regarding cell phones in the classroom and the overall use of technology in the classroom. This is some really good food for thought and we continue to battle students and cell phone use. Maybe it's time to rethink our policy regarding cell phones.

What is the difference between social media and social networking?

Here is a great post by Jason T Bedell about social media and social networking. His blog has tons of great information for teachers interested in integrating technology into their class. Take a minute and see what he has to say.

Lastly, if any of you have taken and used some of the items I have shared on this blog, I would love to hear from you. Please send me an email and I would love to talk to you.

As always, give it a try.

- Nick Provenzano

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tech Tuesday 9/21 :-)

Happy Tech Tuesday everyone! I'm here once again to bring some great tech tips for you to use for yourself or to share with your students.  We are heavy on the Smartboard info today, so see if there are any new ways that you can use your Smartboard in class this week.

Comparison Shoot Out by Fuel the Brain

This is a fun little game that would be great on the Smartboard. It helps kids work out their Math skills in a fun and interactive way. There are three different levels of difficulty with the third level shown above. This could be used as a review for a unit or just some learning fun. It's worth checking out and using in class. I payed with it for a few minutes and refreshed my fraction knowledge.

More Smartboard fun! Take a look at all of the different activities that Scholastic has put together for Interactive Whiteboards. They have lessons for Language Arts, Social Studies and Science and Math. Scholastic always has wonderful lessons and it is great to see that they are expanding their work to include IWBs. Take a look at what they have put together and how you might use the different lessons in your classroom.

Another great collection of interactive games for students ranging from age 3 to age 14. The site focuses on Math and English and the games would work great on the Smartboard. This is a British site, but the games are fun and easy to use. This is another great example of a site using the power of IWBs to create engaging lessons and games that can help students learn while interacting with the content. Teachers are always saying that they want to use their Smartboard for more than just taking notes or showing movies. This is another site that can help change the way you run your class. Instead of using handouts, use the Smartboard with this site and have the class show you what they have learned.

Lastly, here is a collection of free stock images for teachers and students to use. This collections is being shared with us by Thomas Boito from his blog, EDge21. Sometimes it can be tough to find the right picture to use for a lecture or presentation as we follow strict copyright laws. This collection can make that picture hunt easier for you and your students. Flip through the pages of the Livebinder and see if there are any pictures you or your students could use.

Give it a try!

- Nick Provenzano

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tech Tuesday for 9/14

I hope everyone is having a great week so far. Here are some great ideas and tech tools for your considerations.

Learning to Blog Using Paper

This is a great project for younger students if you are considering blogging in your class. By using regular sheets of paper, students learn how to "post" items and "comment" on blogs. It's a very fun and simple idea that the kids will love. I think it is very important to start thinking about blogging in the younger grades because they will need to know how to do this as they get older. Teaching them how to do it know, will save them stress later on. Thanks to McTeach for sharing.

10 Great Ways to Use Your Document Camera

Here is another great post from Mr. Zimmer. He has some interesting ideas for using the Document Camera in the classroom. The one that stood out to me was turning the head of the camera towards the class and using it as a recorder for presentations. Great idea! Look at some of the other ideas he has on his blog.


A cool site passed along by Mr. Zimmer that provides various brain teasers, riddles and logic puzzles. This could be a really fun way to start or end a class. There are many different categories to choose from and different levels of difficulty. This site is worth a look if you think your students would be up for a challenge.


Voki is a fun site that allows the user to create a talking cartoon person. You can choose from historical figures or crazy combinations on looks. You can record your own voice or have the computer speak for you with text you created. This could be something fun and different to add to a site or have students create for their presentations. Additional Instructions and Project Ideas:

Project PLN

One last plug for the online magazine I created with my friend Kelly. Our goal is to bring some of the best blog posts and ideas on a selected topic to as many teachers as possible. We have  had over 4,500 hits so far and I really think it is worth your time if you have not read it yet. This issue is all about Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) and how much individual teachers have benefited from them. Take a second and read a few articles. You just might be inspired to start your own PLN.

That's it for this week. If you are ever looking for anything specific, feel free to leave a comment on the blog or send me an email.

- Give it a try!

Monday, September 6, 2010

1st Day of School

It is the first day of school and I hope that everyone is not too sleepy. I have a few interesting sites for you to check out. Don't forget to take a look at my New Teacher Tech Survival Post. You do not have to be a new teacher to find this post valuable. Take a look and see what you might be able to use in your classroom.

Blogging Rubric

More and more teachers are starting to have their students blog for class and that is a great thing. I found this great rubric that teaches can use with students to help guide their blogging. It's a very simple rubric that can be altered for an individual teacher's need. This rubric does not have to be used for grading. It can be used as a guide for students as they get used to the blogging format. Check out this rubric to see if you can use it in your class.

Project PLN

Here is a project I have been working on this summer with a friend. Project PLN is a monthly magazine dedicated to education. Every month, Kelly Tenkely and I will select a handful of blog posts, videos, images, etc on a selected topic and publish in this online magazine format. Our first issue is on PLNs and the impact they can have on education. Please check this out and pass it along. We will have new topics every month and are excited to see what other people have to share. Thanks for reading!

Flip Cam Uses Across The Curriculum

This summer, I won a Flip Cam from @SpecialK12 while at the ISTE Conference in Denver. I was really excited about getting a Flip Cam because there are so many different things I can use it for in my English classes. This post shows different possible uses for Flip Cams in Science, English, Social Studies, Math and Foreign Language. Reasonably priced at $150 for the standard definition Flip Cam and $200 for the HD version, the Flip Cam is a smart investment for teachers looking to add extra dimensions to their lessons. Flip Cams are very easy to use and are ready out of the box. Take a look at the potential uses of the Flip Cam in this post and see if a Flip Cam would be right for your classroom.

Save The Words!

Thanks to Kelly Tenkely and her site iLearnTechnology for pointing this site out to me. Save The Words is a very cool site that has collected "endangered" words. The main page is filled with words scattered all over the page. As you scroll over the words, they scream out to you to "pick me". If you find a word that is near and dear to your heart, you can "adopt-a-word". By adopting a word, you are promising to use your new word in an effort to keep it alive for others to enjoy. The site offers a word of the day that could be a great way to introduce new words to your students. As the English language continues to evolve, it is nice to see a site dedicated to saving as many words as possible. Without sites like this, how would we ever know which of our math teachers are masters of logarithmotechny? Check out this fun site to see how you might be able to use it in your class.

Here a couple of videos worth watching as the school year starts. Sometimes we dive right into our lesson plans because know what we want to do. Sometimes, we should take a minute to get to know our students and maybe adjust our lessons down the line. Take a look at these two videos and see if you take into consideration the type of learners in the seats instead of the type of teacher you are.

Lastly, I want to leave you with a couple of other videos to get you through the first day. Enjoy.

What do you make?

We might feel this way after the first day of school, bit it only gets better from here.I hope everyone had a great first day and I know each and every one of you is going to have an amazing year.

- Give it a try!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

New Teacher Tech Survival Kit

We have many new teachers in the district this year and I thought it would be helpful to compile a list of great tools that every new teacher should consider when starting their teaching career. Do not feel pressured to use every one of these tools right away. These are just suggestions based on my experience and the experience of many other veteran tech teachers when asked. If you have any questions about any of the tools listed here, please do not hesitate to contact me.

RSS Readers

There is a ton of information on the Internet, it is tough to keep up with your favorite sites. Often you find yourself wasting time to check websites that have not been updated or you miss other sites that are are updated constantly. By creating an RSS Feed, updates to your favorite website can be sent to one spot for you to read. I prefer to use Google Reader. It's easy to use and you can access it from mobile devices. Here is a cool little video that will explain the process of RSS Feeds.

Tube Chop

Here is a great site for teachers that want to show some YouTube videos but might only want to show certain selections. Tubechop is a website that lets you take any YouTube clip and chop it down to size. It is very simple to use and does not take very long. Just select the video you want, select the portion you want to watch and click the chop button. You will be given a link or a code to embed into a website. This site can come in very handy if there is a specific part of a clip you want to show your kids without constantly resetting the video player. This can save you time in the long run. Check this site out.


Livebinders is a great site. It is a great way to keep any or all of the documents you have for a unit or an entire class. I have created a binder for my Graphic Novel Class. It's labeled as Pictorial Literature and it was a way from me to keep an organized binder of all of my new materials I wanted students to have access to. I was able to create individual units on each tab of the virtual binder and cut and paste my documents. Each assignment was clearly labeled and easily accessible for my students. As the Semester went on, I uploaded and linked more work to the binder. Each Binder has a 100MB capacity. I find it hard to believe that people are going to cross the 100MB mark, but you can always create another Binder. The Binders do not have to be teachers only though.

Students can use binders for projects. I hate having to carry around a bunch of different projects that students have created. They were frustrating in paper form and are a different type of frustrating if they are sent to my email or are burned to a disc. I use a Mac (Love it!) and might not be able to check the assignment at home if they used some weird program I don't have. Also, I just don't trust what kids put on their flash drives or email to open it at home. Livebinders allows anyone to create the binder and store on their website. With the ability to upload PDFs, Pictures, videos, etc, the students will be able to create a full presentation that a teacher can check from the comfort of home. For Social Studies teachers, I know you like to use binders for current events and other projects. A virtual binder would be a great way for students to link to current events and other important Social Studies materials that you can check at your leisure. Also, this is a free service, so it will not cost your students, or you, a dime.

I find it is a great way to store all of my documents in a easy to use location without taxing the school's servers. It also allows you to access handouts from the Livebinder that might have been previously saved at school. The Internet provides teachers and students with options, so it's important to try them out.

Drop Box

Drop Box is a service I use and love. I wrote a post about it last year. You should check out this post and see how you can use Cloud Computing in your life. Drop Box Post. If you are not sure what cloud computing is, watch this video to see if Drop Box is for you.

Social Bookmarking

In the old days, when you found an interesting website but did not have the time to read it, you would create a bookmark in your browser and read it later. That worked fine unless you wanted to read that page from a different computer. Social Bookmarking sites, Diigo or, allow you to bookmark sites to be read at a different time and place wherever you have computer access. The title link will take you to a post I did on using Diigo with students. It has made my life a little more organized, which is a huge help as a teacher. Below you see a video explaining Social Bookmarking and using Diigo and are both great bookmarking sites. Try both out and see which you prefer.


I have written multiple posts in the past about the benefits of using Twitter as a teacher. For some reason, it has been slow to catch on with others. I can honestly say that I have learned more from the connections I have made through Twitter than any PD or grad class I have taken. When I have questions, my Twitter teacher buddies will have answers in minutes. You can follow me @TheNerdyTeacher and I would be more than happy to connect you to the teachers I chat with daily.

Why You Should Tweet!
Twitter in the Classroom
Hello Twitter World

There are many more articles and posts out there about Twitter and how it has helped connect teachers from around the world. It is an amazing tool and you should seriously consider using it.


I love using Wallwisher! I wrote a post on using it last year. It is great for peer feedback for projects. Check it out.

Using Wallwisher in class.

Here is a screen cast I had to create for a grad class. Embarrassing, but helpful.

A collection of sites:

Below are a list of sites that I cannot live without. They are blogs and sites written by some very amazing people that will go out of their way to help you. I don't have the space to really list all of the sites I follow, but here are just a few to get your RSS feed going. (New post on using the SMART airliner) (Yup, self promotion)

I hope these sites are just a jumping off point as you continue to explore the wonders of Social Media and how it can make you a better teacher. Give it a Try!


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Happy Tech Tuesday

I am so excited to welcome everybody back to school today. I hope everyone had a relaxing summer vacation and are ready to jump back in and show everyone which district has the best teachers and students.

These next couple of days will be filled with PD, so I hope that everyone takes the time to try something new and learn a few tricks with Notebook software, Clickers and other tech that might be new to you. I have a collection of helpful sites that you should take a look at and see how they might help you in the classroom this year.

SMART Notebook Software from Vanessa Cassie

As more teachers get used to using Smart products in the building, they will want to work with the software at home. This link will show teachers how to download the software to your computer at home. It is a free download, so put you credit card away. Once it is downloaded, you will need to get the activation key (Product Key) from an email sent out by Steve Woloszyn today (Tuesday). This will allow you full access to the software to create lessons from home and use them at school. (Side Note: Vanessa has tons of great Smartboard resources on her site. Check out the different sites and lessons that could be great for your class. She is great at responding to questions if you have any. You can follow here on Twitter @VanessaSCassie.)

Critical Past - A Must See Site For ALL Social Studies Teachers

Critical Past is a site that has collected over 57,000 historic videos and over 7 million photographs. Here is a clip of an instructional video from 1943. It is a video on how to fly the P-47 Thunderbolt Aircraft. If a teacher wants, they can purchase different videos for download. Otherwise, viewing the videos are completely free.

A site like this is perfect for Social Studies classes. With the enormous amount of pictures available, teachers can use them as part of their lectures or important examples of how people lived during specific time periods. As a History nerd, I found myself lost in the site for almost 30 minutes watching one video after the other. Kids could get just as lost with different assignments that could have them explore the archives and uncover something interesting to them. Please take a look around this site, it is too good to pass up.

Spell With Flickr

This is just a fun little site that takes letters from pictures found on Flickr and uses them to spell out whatever you want. Once the picture is created, you can copy the code from the site and place the pic wherever you want. Here is one of Grosse Pointe South High School. It can also be helful if you need to create a ransom notes. :-P JK.

G R o s letter S The letter E, from Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle letter P o IMG_5617_4 N letter T letter e letter S O IMG_5703_3 T letter H letter I G letter H s C letter H hangman tile blue letter O letter O L

I'm just getting warmed up...

Print What You Like

I have to thank Kelly Tenkely and her site, iLearnTechnology, for pointing me to Print What You Like. This site allows the user to print what they need from a web page instead of the entire page. This is a great way to save on paper and ink as schools look to save money. The site is very easy to navigate and should be looked at by anyone that prints from websites. I know I will be showing this to my students during our Research Paper Unit. All too often I see mounds of paper in the Library that kids discard because it wasn't what they wanted. Imagine how much money could be saved if students and staff use this site when printing. Try this site out.

Twisty Noodle

This is a very simple and free site that offers coloring and handwriting practice worksheets for teachers. You can search various topics to find specific worksheets for your students. Sometimes it is hard to find a specific sheet for your class. Twisty Noodle can help you solve that problem.

7 Technology Alternatives to Standard Homework Assignments

The Pursuit of Technology Integration Happiness is a wonderful site I have blogged about in the past. Mr. Zimmer offers great resources and ideas for tech integration. In this post, he provides 7 typical assignments a teacher might give in various subjects and offers a tech alternative. Check out his site to how you might be able to add a little tech spice to your homework assignments.

Bloom's Taxonomy for Web 2.0 Tools

Kelly has done it again. She has created an amazing, and simple, post explaining how the different web tools apply to the different levels of Bloom's Taxonomy. Not only that, but she uses a picture of a peacock to demonstrate it! Check out the site and see how you might be able to incorporate the different tools on Bloom's lists to better help the students in your class.

I could go on, but I need to save some good stuff for next week. :-) Please take a look at the different sites here and in previous posts. Try to take it one step at a time, but please give it a try!