Digital Storytelling Made Easy with PhotoPeach

I am always looking for interesting ways to make digital storytelling simple and adaptable in my classroom. PhotoPeach is an interactive and easy to use website that allows users to tell a story using photos. Photopeach allows users to upload photos, background music, captions, and comments. It is such an easy way to make digital storytelling a reality in your classroom.

Here are the instructions directly from the PhotoPeach website:

How to Create PhotoPeach Slideshows

1. Upload Photos

First choose where to upload the pictures from: your web album of Picasa, Facebook, or your own computer.

If you choose to retrieve the picture from Picasa or Facebook, you will be forwarded to the login page for the respective service, where you must confirm that PhotoPeach can access your photos for this purpose.

2. Arrange Photos

Now, all the pictures are ready to be presented in the slideshow. You can change the order the photos should appear in by dragging and dropping, and when you are satisfied, click “Next”.

3. Add Music

Now, enter the title of the slideshow and add music. PhotoPeach allows you to directly search for the desirable track on Youtube without leaving the site.

4. Done!

Click “Finish” and your slideshow is ready.

Now, add captions on the slideshow, and try embedding slideshow into your blog, facebook, myspace, or posting to twitter with the buttons below.

“Steal, Modify, and Share” Lessons with Better Lesson

I just discovered a collaborative website called Better Lesson that allows teachers to share lessons plans and activities. My first year I spent countless hours designing lessons and grading often in  isolation from other teachers. My second year, I  co-planed with another teacher in my department and my job became a lot more fun and interactive. I had someone to bounce ideas off of and collaborate with. It was a wonderful year teaching. If only I discovered Better Lesson earlier in my career, my life would of been a whole lot easier. As soon as I got on to the website,  I found myself downloading a number of lessons that I could use  next year and sent links to teachers I work with. Better lesson offers 25,000 lesson plans  to teachers for FREE. It’s time to Steal, Modify, and Share a lesson with Better Lesson Today

According to New Schools Venture Fund, ” Creative teachers across the country develop outstanding lesson plans—often in isolation. Teachers lack ways to share ideas and create more effective, inspiring lessons based on their collective knowledge and experience, rather than start from scratch each time.”

New School goes on to discuss the benefits of Better Lesson. They say teachers are “frustrated by constantly “reinventing the wheel”, former teacher Alex Grodd founded BetterLesson to provide all teachers access to the best instructional content available. Through its file sharing and social networking application, BetterLesson helps teachers connect and share lessons, best practices, and ideas within communities of practice. BetterLesson differentiates itself through a unique content management system that allows educators to organize and share lessons, units, and courses in an intuitive, sequenced structure. It also provides teachers with recognition for their creative achievements and facilitates collaboration both within and across real-world learning.”

It was founded by Alex Grodd (Founder & CEO)  who is a “Teach For America alum who taught 6th grade English at Roxbury Preparatory Charter School. He founded Better Lesson to address the challenges he faced in the classroom.”

Google Form is a WONDERFUL resource that is under utilized in education

I have been using Google Forms  for a little over a year now. I originally used it in some basic ways like making a websearch assignments, but this semester I “fell in love” and slightly became obsessed with Google Form.

I have used Google forms in multiple ways this year: from creating rubrics for projects, to student information logs, to contact with parents, and even grading homework assignments. Google Form is a WONDERFUL  resource that is under utilized in education.

Next year I plan on creating a getting to know you form with all my students information on the  first day of school  including parents names, phone numbers, emails. textbook numbers. Having all this information on one Google form spreadsheet can save me time and frustration. Another advantage to using forms is that it will be available electronically from any computer.

Here are some links to some useful forms I created. Feel free to share and modify.

Interesting ways to use Google Docs from my previous post.

Great post from the Pursuit of Technology Integration written by Michael Zimmer on how administrators could use Google Forms in classroom informal walkthroughs. Here is his sample form: ” Here is one already created that you could use as an example to start with.”  Nice idea and I bet it makes walkthroughs a lot easier for administrators

Technology find :)

Great post from Technology Tidbits: Thoughts of a Cyber Hero written by David Kapular. I love finding posts like this and thinking of new and exciting ideas to use in my classroom. I plan on trying out a few of these programs this summer and modifying my plans for next year.

He said, “After the success of the first presentation, 50 Sites in 60 Seconds, I’ve decided to turn this into a bi-annual project. Today I’m releasing version 2 which includes 20 different sites from the last.  I use it as a professional development tool and help organize all of the sites I review.”

Jing it

I can’t not even begin to count the countless hours I have spent over the phone teaching my parents to use technology. I taught my parents to use Facebook, send an attachment, upload photos, and even create a Google doc spreadsheet for my father’s business. I have spent numerous hours explaining how to do each step over the phone walking them through each step. If only I knew Jing could solve all my problems and explained it in a matter of minutes 🙂 rather than hours 🙁

Jing is a fast and easy way to capture images and create videos of what you see on your screen. Jing is free software you can use to make a narrated video (if you have a microphone) showing how to do something on a computer. It records your mouse, and everything you click on and show on your screen. Karen had been teaching lessons using a computer and LCD projector.

I am making tutorials explaining and demonstrating the different steps to make a documentary video in class. I will post the screen captured tutorials on a website for my students. After I have saved each video tutorial, I can add arrows or captions to the windows to highlight important features. This feature can allow you to personalize instructions for each student. The best part about Jing is that you can download this neat program off the internet for FREE.

For more information: What is Jing?

Vietnam Guest Speakers

Guest Speaker Richard Lorenz, said a “ a hero is someone who does something extraordinary.”  On Wednesday April 27th my classes at South Western High School had the privilege to have to local Heroes speak about the experiences in the Vietnam War.  William Fissel and Richard Lorenz presented to my 11th grade American History Classes.

One of the guest speakers was William Fissel, a South Western graduate, class of 1964.  He is a long time resident of Hanover whose children and grandchildren are proud Mustangs. He along with other SW classmates were drafted to fight in Vietnam in 1967. Mr. Fissel was part of the “Mekong Delta River Rats.” This was a joint venture with the Navy and the Army.  He provided critical aid and supplies to soldiers in the form of defense, c-rations, and military supplies.

The second guest speaker was Richard Lorenz, a grandfather of a current South Western junior.  Mr. Lorenz was on active duty in the USAF in October 1965 at the height of the build up in Vietnam.  He was selected to serve as an aircraft maintenance officer.  He was actively involved in two activities critical to the mission in Vietnam – the air rescue of downed pilots using a specially equipped C-130 and aerial delivery systems to deliver supplies to field army units.  His unit was apart of the “Blind Bat” mission.  This unit conducted night flare missions over the Ho Chi Minh trail over Laos and Cambodia in an effort to detect and stop North Vietnamese troops that were entering South Vietnam.

Both Mr. Fissel and Mr. Lorenz spoke about their phenomenal experiences of the trials and tribulations in the Vietnam. War.  Students learned about advanced Air Force technology, fighting during the war, and personal stories about local graduates killed in action, as well as the residual effects of the war that are still experienced today. Mrs. Seideman said “although we strive to provide the best instructional experiences we can for our students, we cannot replicate the experiences Mr. Fissel and Mr. Lorenz presented.”

There were many positive comments about the quality of their presentations. Junior Breanna Ruppert said, “I really appreciated the fact that you came and allowed us to learn from your first hand experiences instead of just learning from text books and etc.”  Junior Haley Brigs said, “It made the whole thing much more real and personal, seeing people who actually went through it and saw all we talked about. I think it’s terrible the ways some were treated when they came home, regardless of if us as Americans agree with war or not you did an incredible thing fighting over seas for us and for those you were told to help and protect.” Mr. Fissel and Mr. Lorenz are a true inspiration to all and their contributions are greatly appreciated! Thank you for serving our country and we are proud to call you a hero.

Is there Value in Direct Instruction?

I just received a PLC email from my old school about the value of direct instruction. “In our pursuit of research based teaching methods (aka “best practices”) , see this interesting article on the value of direct instruction. A brief Picture 2summary of the results of one study: We find that students score higher on standardized tests in the subject in which their teachers spent more time on lecture-style presentations than in the subject in which the teacher devoted more time to problem-solving activities… Another way to state the same finding is that students learn less in the classes in which their teachers spend more time on in-class problem solving.”

Ever since John Dewey explored hands-on learning at the University of Chicago Laboratory School more than a century ago, lecture-style presentations have been criticized as traditonal and outdated methods. The Program on Education Policy and Governance (PEPG) at Harvard University found that students did better on asesssments if their teacher’s used lecture-style instruction. If you carefully read the results, the study explains progressive teaching methods might also be Picture 1beneficial if properly combined with lectures.

If you look at the graphics to the left, they show that teachers use a combination of different teaching methods. The results indicate that there might be an adverse impact on student learning. Today’s classrooms require a combination of mini lectures, collaboration, digital literacy, and problem based learning. See a previous post about project based learning called Doing History.

Check out the articles I referenced:

Mrs. S you said last lesson was your “favorite”

Yesterday, I taught one of my favorite lessons (soon to be a future post) connecting the legacy of the Civil Rights movement to today. When I told my students this lesson was  one of my favorite lessons. One student raised his hand in the back of the room and said “Mrs. Seideman you said the lesson last week was your favorite on Vietnam” and then another student said “no the impact of WWII on the homefront was.” After a few minutes of discussion, most of my class agreed  that I claim a lot of lessons are my favorite.

Most people would say choosing a favorite would be easy. For me it’s easy to choose my favorite, Ben and Jerry’s Fish Food ice cream, my border collie, watching the Notebook, and snuggling with my husband have to be on my top ten list of favorite things to do.

Do you enjoy history more this year than previous?In terms of teaching, I have so many favorite lessons and I will admit I claim them all the be my favorite. My response to my class when they said I always say a lesson is my favorite was good then I am doing my job. Teaching is unlike any other profession in the world-You have the unique power to change a students life in so many different ways. It requires passion, compassion, strength, creativity, and an unbelievable ability to “run” on limited amounts of sleep. All of these characteristics make a good teacher GREAT.

To many teachers get burnt out and forget the real reason they entered the classroom: to make a difference in a child’s life. A history teacher in my department who was nominated for teacher of the year said it best “we are there for the kids.” When meaningful connections are made with students and the content, schools truly are a special place to be. I am happy I choose my profession and I am proud to say (even in this economic climate) that I am a Teacher.

Education Evolution

Watch this short video made by a middle school class from Texas, taught by a friend of mine. We need evolution reform! Our current system, which may have worked 100 years ago, is outdated, and today’s children need a more interactive, more interesting, more collaborative learning environment. Help him spread the word.

Complete restructuring of a classroom, student class placement based on ability/interest, collaborative technology use and evaluation rather than multiple choice and worksheet? As blasphemous as the idea is to people, if kids find education more fun, they are more motivated, and thus they are more apt to learn.

Teaching Post 9/11

September 11, 2001 was a defining moment in American history. It is so interesting that many of the children who were 8, 9, or 10 years old when the World Trade Center towers fell and the Pentagon burned are now in college.  According to CNN news article, The 9/11 Generation’s Bogeyman is Gone, the 9/11 generation is made up of two subgroups, one who were in high school and college and the other who were in elementary school.

t1larg.huot.irptThis generation has grown up in a world very different from our parents generation. We are familiar with increased security, terrorist threats, and an increased awareness of the world. We have  grown up accustomed to long lines at the airport and terror alerts. Since 9/11 this younger generation has feared names like Sadam and Bin Laden.

I as well as my students were forever effected by 9/11/01. I remember exactly where I was when the WTC was attacked.  I was sitting in my US government class in high school. I remember the silence of  the halls. I remember my friends getting called out of class to go home because their family members were unaccounted.This new generation of students are used to filtered news; many watched live television reports of the attacks in their living rooms and classrooms. I remember the  overwhelming sense of pride and love for our nation. I wore red, white, and blue and felt an urgency to plant a tree in honor of the victims of 9/11. These feelings will never leave me.

As a teacher, I think it is so important to educate our students about 9/11 and the residual effects. I used the capture and death of Bin Laden to talk about 9/11 and the War on Terror. I use letters, personal stories, interviews, and newspapers from the day to honor and pay tribute to the men and women who defend our freedom.

For more information on teaching resources visit:

Dipity Timeline Increases Enagement

I heard about Dipity Timelines from Richard Byrne at Free Technology for Teachers and thought you might like to hear about it. I had my students create online timelines today on the Civil Rights Movement. They turned out so much nicer than paper timelines from last semester. My students even embed videos and images into them.

Why use Dipity? My students were so engaged that I could have left the room while I was “teaching” and they would have been on task (I didn’t leave the room). It’s true like the induction presenter said last night- student choice and technology improves the classroom climate and student engagement.

How do students “turn in” their timelines? I read Lisa Nielsen‘s blog the Innovative Educator and she said that teacher’s of the 21st century Don’t Say, ‘Hand It In.’ They say, “Publish It!” That is exactly what my students did. They published, copied their link,  and pasted into an assignment on Edmodo. I not only saved paper but grading was a lot easier with my Google Docs Form rubric (see below).

Here are some sample student projects:

How did I grade them? Here is the rubric