Tech Salad

With Crunchy Bits and Bytes

Month: November 2011


I have blogged before about Mrs. Rohrer and her use of digital tools to help her students understand  color and form. Now Mrs. Rohrer is bringing iPads into her classroom to help kids plan their final watercolor project.

The students have been exploring color mixing and layering in preparation for this project. In a couple of weeks, they will sketch their tropical paradise and plan their color scheme using the SketchBook Express app (iTunes link), a favorite of mine.

Screen shot 2011-11-29 at 8.44.09 AM

While the activity will not replicate the watercolor experience exactly, it will give students a great opportunity to better imagine what their finished product will look like. They will be able to layer colors, do, undo, and redo without their “paper” getting too soggy, a common problem for watercolor artists. After they have experimented, students will execute the final project using actual watercolors and paper.

Here is the sample Mrs. Rohrer has created while practicing wiht SketchBook. Look for her students’ work on her own blog by mid-December.


Comic Word Search

Yesterday I took my children to a local bakery for a treat. On their way in, they picked up a kids’ menu with puzzles to keep them occupied for a few minutes. Granted, my children are getting a bit old for these, but they like the paper and crayons too much to give it up yet.

The word search included terms related to the menu choices. As I said, my kids are old enough to do this in just a few minutes. It turns out the entire family was still searching for words when the food arrived.

I did not bring a copy home, but I have used Discovery Education’s Puzzlemaker to create something similar.

Screen Shot 2011-11-24 at 12.05.24 PM

How is anyone supposed to find anything there? I’m sure the person who put this lovely menu together wanted it to be kid-friendly. That explains the Comic Sans. Maybe some people think  it looks cute, but it is impossible to read any word in there.

The volume of writing against the use of Comic Sans is endless, mostly based on its ridiculous appearance. Anyone who defends it as a more readable font seems to be writing based on anecdotal evidence rather than on solid research. Teachers argue it is kid-friendly because it looks like a kid wrote it.

As the same teacher how easy it is to grade 30 hand-written essays, and the readability assessment might change.

I did find one instance in which using Comic Sans is good, and this is based on research. It seems using quirky and funny fonts in more than just titles and labels causes disfluency. Readers read more slowly than they normally do when they run into these fonts. The additional effort the brain has to make to decode the words makes the information more memorable.

Let’s look at that again. Readers read more slowly. It is harder to read. And teachers use this with emerging readers in elementary school. Does this make any sense?

Cord Management

No matter what electronic equipment you are dealing with, it is important to keep in mind that cords have wire inside of them. It sounds obvious enough, but sometimes people forget that creasing a piece of wire repeatedly at the same spot causes breakage.

Here is a brief video to help you keep your laptop’s power adapter in working order.

Mrs. Ray’s and Ms. Townsend’s Anthology

Mrs. Ray’s students have been writing poems about the Blue Ridge Mountains. We are collecting all of them, along with original artwork in an ePub anthology.

So, students, here is the template you will be using. Download it, open in Pages, and follow the instructions. I will see you at the end of Block 2 on Friday.

“This was the best Math class ever…”

I just got back from my office after spending the last 90 minutes with a large group of rowdy 6th grade kids and a cart loaded with iPads. It was loads of fun.

We played fraction tic-tac-toe as a warm-up, using Doodle Buddy and the Promethean board. Then we launched Motion Math and worked our way through simple fractions, decimal numbers, percentages, negative numbers, irregular fractions… The game got everyone ready for tomorrow’s quiz.

As we were returning the iPads to the cart, a kid came over to ask if we could do it again next week. I hope so. He said, “This was the best Math class ever,” and went back to his seat.

Activote Help

Yesterday’s session on getting the most out of our Activotes turned out to be lots of fun.

I have zipped the flipchart and anyone interested may download it. If you do, you will get the tutorials, if not the great discussions we had on engaging students.


This is my fifth year as the ITRT at the Goochland Middle/High Complex. After all this time, some people might start getting a bit bored with their job. I can’t get bored. There is always something new to do.

This past week John Hendron showed me how to add a photo gallery to a post on our website. He created the first one to showcase pictures from our Veterans Day ceremony. I followed his example to showcase pictures taken as our volleyball team boarded the bus on their way to the championship.

Visit our news archives to see the Veterans Day gallery and the Volleyball Send-Off gallery.

More Claymation Fun

Trying to troubleshoot some issues the students were having at the middle school, I created my own silly claymation.

I shot each frame using a document camera, saving each with a number. Then I added them to an iMovie project with a duration of .2 seconds per frame. Quick and easy. Now I’m ready to make my own Wallace and Gromit feature film…

Claymation Fun

Over the past few weeks, both GMS and GHS students have been exploring claymation. Students have been using FrameByFrame and iMovie.

GMS students in Ms. Tolson’s class will be publishing their projects to their YouTube channel soon. You can see examples from last year there already. Here’s one of my favorites.

Mrs. Bachmann’s students were interrupted as they worked on their projects this week when we had an emergency evacuation. The movies will be posted on Mrs. Bachman’s blog later this week.

Here’s what the video production students reported.


For Mr. Dacey’s Students

Here is the image we will be using in class today. Hold with your finger, then select SAVE IMAGE.


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