Guest Post: Miffy’s Trip to Chicago

Conferences SMARTBoard

I would like to introduce our readers to Miffy.  Miffy is our classroom foreign exchange student from Hilversum, Netherlands.  She is a perfect example of how using distance learning projects can connect student from across the globe.  We are excited, as a 4th grade class, to communicate with our classmate “Illini Bear” via our classroom blog.  Miffy just posted on her page  and I thought you might all enjoy a recap of our busy weekend last weekend through Miffy’s perspective.  She was a very well-behaved traveler! 

Miffy at IETC

Wow. I sure was busy with Mrs. Smith last weekend. I got to go with her to Chicago. That isn’t all. We also went to Springfield. But I didn’t get to see any of the Abraham Lincoln sites. We had to go to the Crowne Plaza hotel to present ways to use the SMARTBoard in the classroom. The room was packed full of teachers, administrators, and technology specialists. I was kind of nervous. Especially once I had the microphone clipped to my dress. Since I haven’t used the SMARTBoard too much, I was glad that Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Brachbill (Mrs. Smith’s mom) did most of the talking. They didn’t even get through their list of 10 ideas because the crowd kept asking them so many questions. It was pretty fun!

After we finished packing up all of the technology equipment, we went and listened to some other people speak about using technology in schools. It seems Mrs. Smith finds that to be pretty interesting, because she talks about it with anyone who will listen! I was pretty excited for what came next.

Check Out That VIEW!

We got to head to Chicago. That is me sitting on the dashboard of the car so I could see the city skyline. It was pretty incredible. The town where I am visiting, Tuscola, is pretty small, so getting to go to Chicago is a pretty big deal. We walked down Michigan Avenue. It is called “The Magnificent Mile”. There are a lot of shops and restaurants, and it was really crowded with people. I got to go to the famous Gino’s Pizza place where we stuffed ourselves full of deep dish Chicago Style pizza. It was YUMMY!

Miffy at IASB, IASA, IASBO Conference

On Saturday morning there was more presenting. This time we presented general technology ideas to a HUGE room with more than 300 people. The audience was school board members and administrators. Mrs. Smith and her mom wanted to make sure they knew how important it is for kids to get to use technology in school. They seemed to like the presentation because they laughed a lot and asked quite a few questions. This time I didn’t have to wear a microphone on my dress. I just had to stand really close to the microphone on the podium so the people all the way in the back could hear me.

The Magnificent Mile

 After the presentation, there was a huge festival downtown where they had a parade and fireworks. They lit up all of the trees along Michigan Avenue. It was really pretty! I had a really great time with Mrs. Smith, but it is nice to be back in Tuscola. I can’t wait to tell you all about my Thanksgiving with Benito! Talk to you soon, Miffy

Blogging Maniacs

Blog reflections writing

The start of school is behind us and we are into our 2nd week.  I introduced the students to our class blog which is being hosted at and I have been amazed at how excited and focused they are on their writing.  Not only are they generating thoughtful posts on which they are experts.  They are also generating thoughtful comments on each other’s blogs.  Now I have never been an expert on writing by any stretch.  But I do know that in the past I have struggled to get kids excited about writing.  By weaving technology and writing together, I have been successful at getting  a much higher level of buy-in from the students.  This is year is no different.  Plus, they are writing for fun.  Fun…that’s right…fun.  I am only requiring the kids to post one entry on his or her blog each week as part of the overall spelling grade.  Most kids are posting more than that already.  My daughter included.  Not because I asked her to.  Not because she wants to impress me.  Not because she wants to have the most entries in the class.  But because she WANTS to post.  She wants to have content on which others will comment.  The comments of the other kids and the feedback received by the parents of the other students in my classroom are driving her to want to post more work.  Will this be a phase?  Will it get boring and end soon?  I have no idea, but I am enjoying it while it lasts!

If you want to head over to and check out our “student blog” link on the homepage, I am sure the kids would love to have even more comments.