Monday, May 14, 2007

Baby Steps

Finding it difficult to take the time to learn all the wonderful free tools that are available? It might be beneficial to think in terms of taking baby steps, small chunks of time to explore resources that are new to you.

I’m inspired by Doug Johnson’s Blue Skunk Blog to create a list of five new things to learn. (of course, he recommended 23, but we’re talking Baby Steps here!)

Take 15 minutes each day this week to learn about these five resources. Model lifelong learning by becoming a lifelong learner yourself.

1. Explore the interactive links at

You knew was an excellent website. Now take advantage of the free, online resources which provide a number of engaging activities for your students.
Go to > click Student Materials (on left) > click any activity in the Student Materials Index > click “visit this interactive tool at….”

2. As an alternative to rubrics, create your own Checklists

(often more helpful for our students that benefit from linear information) at (And I just read Alfie Kohn’s article, The Trouble with Rubrics and find myself agreeing with what he has to say.) At the 4Teachers website, click PBL Checklists > then in English or Spanish and customize using their templates. This is an awesome tool for providing the structure that benefits many students.

3. Explore TeacherTube

There are just-in-time tutorials, as well as teacher created videos that you can use in your classroom.

4. Explore the “Power Of Color” in Microsoft Word with your students

Format > Background > choose any color. Play with text color and background color combinations to see if different students have preferences.

5. Simplify Typing Your Name

Tools > AutoCorrect Options > Add your initials in the “Replace” box > Add your name, title or whatever in the “With” Box. Click OK and the next time you need to type your name, type your initials, hit the space bar and Voila! Your full name appears! Another possibility: I use this all the time when typing my blog address – I type “TES” and hit the space bar and my blog URL appears. It’s all about efficiency!

Just some ideas to get you started. If this is helpful, I'll add five more next week. Let me know what you think.

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