IETC 2014

IETC 2014

News tips workshops

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 11-9-2014

It’s time for IETC 2014, the Illinois Education & Technology Conference.
We are looking forward to once again seeing good friends and making new friends.
We’re always excited to share ways to collaborate, instruct, moderate, and expand the use of technology.

Our first IETC 2014 event will be this Wednesday, September 12th, when we will be presenting a Pre-Conference Workshop, “Google Magic: Captivate, Motivate, and Educate Your Students”, from 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. in the Plaza D Meeting Room. Although registration for this workshop is closed, we always learn from our attendees.
We promise to share tips and ways to use Google Apps for Education each day as we attend IETC 2014. Follow us on our Facebook Page or on Twitter, @nbrach and @brachsmith.

IETC 2014

We will host two sessions on Thursday:
Session II:  11:15-12:05 – “Digital Storytelling for All”
Digital storytelling? Uhhh, no thanks. I don’t teach Language Arts. We know, we know. We’ve heard it before. You might not realize what is involved in digital storytelling. Or maybe we can convince you to incorporate it into your classes no matter what subject or age you teach. Students want to create content. Attend this session to find out how! (CCSS will be addressed in this session.) (Audience: All grade levels).

Session III: 12:15-1:05 – “The Classics”
With all of the new technology introduced on a daily basis, sometimes you forget what you’ve already learned. Or, maybe you missed it the first time around. Join us for a technology integration “refresher.” We’ll talk about things that we’ve loved from the beginning of our technology adventures that we think have stood the test of time! (Don’t worry, we’ll be sure to point out all CCSS integration.) (Audience: All grade levels).

Yes, there is a walk for me before the end of the day.
But not until we work to finalize our presentations so that our friends can have workshops where they will learn and have a great time.

See you soon!

[Tweet “Looking forward to #IETC 2014 and our sessions on Wed. and Thurs.”]

audioBoom with a Big Boom

audioBoom with a Big Boom

iPad News tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 10-12-2014

Yes. That is not a “typo”.
If you have an “Audioboo” account, as of this past September,
they have a new name
and a new look.

No worries.
When you log in, you will find your “boo’s” still online and enough changes that you won’t be disappointed.
You still get ten free minutes of audio with each recording,
and you can share them with a QR code, image, and a shortened URL link that links to each of your audio files.

Check out the page specifically for “Educators”.
There you will find examples of audioBoom in the classroom with the message that you can give your students a “voice”.
In addition, you will find podcast resources and professional development tutorials.
When you visit the link for “widgets”, you will find embed codes for your audio posts with design choices to fit your website or blog.

Finally, there’s an app for that.Audioboom App
Download the app, allow access to your device microphone, and you will have the easiest way to create an audio file.
We hope you will experiment with this site and give your students a voice.
[Tweet “Audioboo has added an “m” to its name and a new look…”]


Last Minute…

classroom management News tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 12-16-2012


I admit it.

I enjoy a trip to Staples and OfficeMax more than Macy’s.


Since retirement, I have been sifting through boxes, drawers, cupboards, shelves, and closets.

“A place for everything, and everything in its place.”

My main goal is to keep only the essentials, 

and there has been a great deal of donating, shredding, and throwing away.

Those things that I keep, though, need to find a place in a house built in the 1880’s and,
quite frankly,
it is very short on storage space.

A set of empty shelves now needs some containers to store some photography equipment, and a rainy day shopping excursion online found me “in the Container Store”.


So, since this weekly tip needs to deal with technology somehow,

Cord Control in the Office

Stocking Stuffers for eReaders

One more thing:

There is a discount program available for the “Organized Teacher”.

But hurry!

The program ends on December 31, 2012.

Get Organized!

classroom management News tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 9-16-2012

I know.

It’s a little late.
School has started and organization feels like it has slipped through your fingers.

If you are anything like me,
I knew where everything was,
but it was often  buried under a stack of papers/things on my desk.

Progress reports should be going out soon.
Some of you have “Open House” behind you.

Maybe with a chance to catch your breath,
you might find one or two things in this article that will help you feel a little more “together”.

Dana Truby and Megan Kaesshaefer have contributed a post titled:
100 Classroom Organizing Tips” for

Some of them are “techie”, so I invite you to search through all 100.

Good ideas submitted by real teachers with “real good” ideas!

After your morning coffee or tea, make sure to take some time for you and your family.
We hope that includes time outside and some good, fresh air!



News tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 6-3-2012

…provides a quick and easy way to add voice to presentations. is free and easy.

This site supports both Keynote and PowerPoint presentations, as long as they are uploaded in Pdf format.

The voice is added to your slide, and while it is “robotic”, the nice feature is that it can be quickly edited through typing, while recorded voice editing must be done with “retakes”. The other advantage to the “text-to-speech” option is the ability to collaborate. With student presentations, they can still work in groups and each member can provide ‘input”.

A paid membership will provide additional features that include translations into twenty other languages. An “educational account” reduces the cost by 50% and would be worth considering for a school with a large ESL population.

Below is a “quick presentation” I made, and found that the site is very easy and intuitive to manipulate.

The best part is that, even though the voice is “robotic”, it does seem to pause and add inflections in just the right places. Plus, the “English” English added a “bit o’ class” to our personal invitation. I bet you didn’t even know that we had an English “Roadie”.

And yes, you can “share” your presentations with a link or “embed” code, or on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.


News tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 4-29-2012

Whenever I think of “sharing” anything,
for a “nano-second” the phrase “chair-sharing” pops into my head.
It’s a connection that I can’t “shake”,
and is so old that my students cannot even relate to it.

Years ago,
when my children were young,
and Sesame Street was just as young,
the “Golden Hour” was when they sat transfixed watching our local PBS channel and their favorite show.

I seldom watched the skits,
(I knew my alphabet, how to read, and my numbers),
but I listened while I used my “Golden Hour” to clean, pick up, and do the dishes.

Over and over again, I heard Bert and Ernie as they solved life’s little problems,
and reinforced the lessons I tried to teach my children.

With a house filled with children,
“sharing” was an absolute.

So, today, on this rainy Sunday,
I would like to teach you something about “sharing”.

It’s free,
with nothing to download,
nor to join,
and easy.

You can share your screen, or part of your screen with another computer, a tablet, or a smartphone.

With an email, that contains a link or a code,
all that is needed is a quick “run” of a java app,
and your screen is instantly and clearly shared with anyone else.
You also have the option of texting the code and link to a smartphone.

Once the “share” has started, you can pause the share, and resume it.

What a quick alternative to creating “screen-shots” when all you want to do is “share”.

Check it out.

Sharing is a good thing.

Poems for the Poet

News tips writing

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 4-15-2012

April is “Poetry Month,
and with rain in the forecast,

(It IS April…)

why not help your students start their personal “Poetry Anthologies”.

The website is an old friend,
and can make the task fun and easy.

When searching the theme, “Poetry”, the site offers 163 results,
including online tutorials, templates, and guides to many types of poems:

  • Acrostic
  • Catalog
  • Diamante
  • Haiku
  • Rebus
  • Riddle
  • Shape/Theme
  • Sports

as well as lessons to identify and teach poetic terms:

  • Alliteration
  • Assonance
  • Metaphor
  • Onomatopoeia
  • Rhyme
  • Simile

Need more help?

offers a list of poems that students will enjoy adding to their poetry collections
and a page filled with “how-to’s”.

It includes a free downloadable Microsoft “Sestina” template that can be used to guide your students’ writing.

(I know! I didn’t know what a “Sestina” was either!)

So, if you’re looking for something fun to teach,
and something fun for your students to learn,
try poetry.

It just sounds like a “Spring Thing” to me…