Track One, Thing 2: Photo Fun

I am back at Cool Tools, after a one year hiatus and here is
my first post of the Cool Tools 2014-2015 season! I decided to do more work on photos. Photopin seemed interesting. Imagining that I will soon be faced with the inevitable Black History Month biography reports, and students’ desire to research celebrities, I did a search for Beyoncé! (Hey! WordPress just added the accent mark in her name automatically!) and I found this:

Beyonce picture

Photopin ( uses, but says it is not associated with, Flickr and searches only for permission-to-use (to one degree or another) Creative Commons marked images. This one is free to Share. Photopin is possibly an opportunity to teach students about copyright and how to use a site other than Google Images. I do like how the photo credit info below is simply a “copy and paste” from the site. That is helpful.

photo credit: <a href=””>luf sugarskull</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;


Pinterest: A Cautionary Tale

Today I arrived at school eager to set up my Pinterest lesson for the 6th grade. But to my horror, Pinterest is blocked by my district! I imagine it is blocked because of its social network quality but I am not sure.

I filled out the blocking software’s appeal application and then emailed the district’s Help Desk, telling them that I needed Pinterest ASAP and that I had learned about it on Cool Tools for Schools!  After a clarifying phone call, the good people at the Help Desk saved the day by authorizing my laptop’s access to Pinterest. Hooray!

Thing 6: Curation Tools

Pinterest and I spent the day together! I have been on it before, having first been introduced to it at a Summer 2012 Tech Camp. As you may know from reading my other blog posts, I am NOT a fan of social media. I do not have a Facebook page, and only signed on to Twitter as a Cool Tools assignment. But today I took a deep breath and signed up for Pinterest.

I decided to create my 6th grade lesson for tomorrow at the same time that I learned Pinterest. The teacher had asked me to give an introduction to the Great Wall of China. So I created a Great Wall of China board. I figured out (with some help from the Help page) how to add the “Pin It” bookmarklet to my toolbar. I then played around, looking first at other people’s boards for Great Wall photographs. I tried to use the Pin It button to add them to my new board, but soon figured out that the bookmarklet is only for when I am “out” on the web, not within Pinterest. A short learning curve, I think I have it now.

After searching through other pinners’ boards, I did go out to the web and found some terrific short videos on the UNESCO site. I was pleased to find that these are as easy to pin as images.

I debated whether or not to make my board private, but decided that in this case, I would be wild and crazy and leave it public! To tell you the truth, I am not thrilled that my actual name is on Pinterest for anyone to see, and might figure out later how to devise a pseudonym.

Why not go to Pinterest and check out my first board, Great Wall of China?

Should students be encouraged to blog?

I just read Polly’s email about kidblogs. (Yes, indeed, I am a little behind!)

I certainly see the value in teaching students how easy it is to create a blog — I think this naturally synchs with lessons on web site evaluation. But, honestly, shouldn’t we (the “publishers” of the blog to which our students contribute) insist on excellent writing? Otherwise, aren’t we just encouraging our students to just write whatever comes to mind without regard for spelling, grammar, and good editing?

Readers, I am interested in your thoughts. Please respond!

Thing 4 : Photo Sharing


Library warning poster

Happy New Year!

I spent a couple of hours on Thing 4 today. I can imagine using Flickr for the images, especially because you can search for images that are free to use, without worrying about copyright. Thank you for showing us how to search for those kinds of images.

I was glad to see that you can do this kind of a search without having a Flickr account. This will make it much more useful for teaching at the elementary level. I wonder, though… Is there a way for students to search for only “safe” images? I hope so, as I really dislike sending kids to Google images every time they are doing a report.

Also, I wonder, are we giving full attribution just by having the image be “clickable” (leading the reader back to the Flickr source) or should we really be typing up an attribution caption or footnote?

I am looking forward to seeing which images others in our group chose to include. And again, Happy New Year!

Thing 3: RSS

Today I opened a Netvibes account. I chose Netvibes rather than Google Reader, because I like to give “the little guys” competing with Google some business. Years ago I was an avid user of Bloglines. When I read that they were closing down (but did they actually close down? I am confused.) I moved away from it and never found another reader.

I set up my Netvibes dashboard with some difficulty. I found two tutorials on youtube that helped me quite a bit. I now have deleted some already set up widgets, changed the weather to Rochester, and added 3 feeds. I chose LJ InfoDocket, Cool Tools, and The Onion, because everyone deserves to laugh at least once a day.

Thing 2: Online Communities & Personal Learning Networks

I just created a Twitter account, but at this point, cannot imagine doing anything other than reading others’ tweets. The timing of this is interesting. Last week I hoped to “stream” the school board meeting. I knew it was an important meeting, and that my school’s future was on the line. When I realized that the District was not streaming the meeting, and I was too tired to jump in my car, I remembered that the education reporter for the Democrat and Chronicle is a tweeter. And sure enough, even without my own account, I was able to follow the meeting by reading her tweets!

I have now signed up to follow that reporter, another education reporter, NPR news, John Schu, and the Flower City Parents Network. John Schu is certainly going to keep me busy with all of his children’s book recommendations and retweets from children’s authors and independent bookstores. Should be interesting!

Favorite Halloween Stories

I am working in a school where I teach each classroom every other week. This week I taught my 4th, 5th, and 6th graders. The logical thing to do, of course, was to read scary stories. For my 6th graders, I read them one of my favorites, Patrick Bone’s Bloody Mary. To “activate prior knowledge” I asked the students what they knew about Bloody Mary. Most have heard the legend, many said activating the curse involves turning around 5 times. My memory of the curse is more like Patrick Bone’s. You can find the story in Bruce Coville’s Book of Monsters. I have a ratty old copy that is poorly held together with book tape. This book is a perfect example of “Don’t judge a book by its cover!”

I read The Boy Witch by Vivian Vande Velde to the 4th and 5th graders. This story is in her book Curses, Inc. This story involves word play so I always type up the titles of the curses that the boy witch tries and post them to my easel as I read them to the class.

Thing 1: Blogging

Yikes! I think I just created my very first blog. First rule: Limit the explanation marks.

I am a new member of the Cool Tools for Schools group. Creating my very own blog is our first assignment. I chose wordpress because my daughter already writes a blog using wordpress. Maybe she will help me! (Uh-oh, already broke the rule…)