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River Oaks Elementary School

Gifts to the ROE Library!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

View this clip to find out about the beautiful new books donated to the ROE Library!

Professional Reading

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Blogging & Digital Storytelling:
Learning Tools:
 Digital Diet: Downloadable Guides (21st Century Fluency Project) 
Global Classroom:
 Guide to Globally Connected Learning (Langwitches)
What if the next Steve Jobs is sitting in your classroom right now? (Wanderings)
Become a Gmail Jedi Webinar & Outline (Cory Pavicich)

Online Learning Resources

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

5th grade students are exploring alternative energies by inquiring into renewable and non-renewable natural resources, sources of energy, and sustainability of energy systems.

Searchasaurus (EBSCO) is proving to be an excellent source of kid-friendly magazine articles for their ongoing portfolio project that documents their readings, discoveries and reflections. As part of the embedded research components, students are required to locate and analyze relevant, current, and readable sources of information.

Searchasaurus has the capability of easily narrowing searches by format type. Lexile levels for readability are listed next to each article. 5th graders are able to determine immediately whether an article is within a 750-950 range that is typical for grade-level text, or will offer a greater or lesser challenge to them. They can sort by 'Date Descending' (pull-down option at top right of screen) and view articles with most current ones now at top. They are also easily creating citations with the source information readily listed at the top of each article, as well as using Bibme to create citations independently. 
Searchasaurus is just one of many excellent online resources available to our students as part of HISD subscriptions. Download or print the brochure above and visit the ROE Library site  for additional options to access high-quality learning resources for students' projects and assignments! (A printed brochure including necessary unpublished passwords will be coming home with students this week).

BrainPOP Educators

Friday, October 21, 2011

BrainPop, BrainPop Jr. and Brainpop EspaƱol are excellent resources for introducing new concepts to students. With these short clips, complex ideas are illustrated and made easier for kids to understand. Teachers can create a free BrainPOP Educators Account to access excellent community resources. There are lots of graphic organizers that are downloadable and adaptable for a range of subject areas. There are diverse types of note-taking forms and templates for foldables & flash cards too. ( I adapted and used one called Pause Points for lessons on Online Safety and Digital Citizenship in 3rd-5th grade earlier this year). Find BrainPOP blog updates on upcoming webinars and useful instructional ideas there too. It is well worth registering for an account! You can follow @BrainPop and  BrainPOP edu on Twitter too.

News & Current Events Sites for Kids

Friday, September 30, 2011

Concise high-interest informational articles are not only excellent to use in building students' non-fiction reading comprehension strategies, but also as models of expository writing.  They help students to connect with their local, state, national and global communities and can be useful for classroom inquiry & research too.

Here are a few great sources:
  • DOGO News: is a safe friendly environment for young kids to stay informed about current events. 'Dogo' means small or young in Swahili. Articles are short and focused with interactive videos and an integrated dictionary. (Sample  Article: If the World Were a Village of 100 People...)
  • Wonderopolis offers terrific inquiry-based models of this genre. Browse 'wonder' categories along the right-hand side of each page or explore their awesome archive of past wonders.  Notice the structure that kids could adapt and draw upon to inspire both their research and writing organization. Questions grab the reader's attention and are always followed by an explanation and some how-to advice. 'Words to know and use' help to build understanding and increase vocabulary. (Sample  Article: Why Do Airplanes Leave Tracks in the Sky?)
  • KidsPost is a kid-friendly extension of the Washington Post. (Sample  Article: Ever Wonder...How Animals Clean Themselves?)
  • A Smart Exchange keyword search for expository writing is another great source. There are many notebook files to download & adapt that will build student's conceptual understanding.
  • Find more resources on the ROE Tech. Toolbox and ROE Library Magazines pages. Also, do a keyword search of the Searchasaurus database. Many articles from kid's magazines are available in both PDF and HTML formats.

Resources for Teachers: 
25 Great Ideas for Teaching Current Events
10 Ways to Use Current Events in the Classroom (Big Universe)
Article of Week with Middle Schoolers (adaptable for elementary students)

September 17, 2011: Constitution Day

Monday, September 12, 2011

Constitution Day and Freedom Week are here! Constitution Day commemorates the signing of the September 17, 1787 signing of the United States Constitution. The purpose of Freedom Week is to educate students about the sacrifices made for freedom in the founding of our country and the values on which it was founded. There are many excellent online resources to support learning about this document. Here are just a few:

Digital Communicators: Wednesday Morning Elective Class

Sunday, August 28, 2011

We will be creating and publishing digital images, stories and informational writing across the year using a variety of technology tools.  Our individual and collaborative products will be published online in an anthology format full of informative articles, creative images, and fiction writing. We will use tools such as Storybird, Zooburst, and and Wikispaces, to name just a few. Student investigators will also interview, survey, and take photographs to gather facts about happenings around our school, and publish articles on our class site to share with our school community. We will also focus on meeting project deadlines, giving/receiving feedback on our work, choosing graphics for message impact, and digital citizenship.

ROE Technology Toolbox & Grade Level Websites

Sunday, August 21, 2011

I'd like to introduce the ROE Technology Toolbox, a new site that organizes Web 2.0 creation tools for students. These tools are excellent options for students with teachers to build global connections, create presentations, collaborate within and among classrooms, record voice and sound, make charts and graphs, and edit images. While the year progresses, more tools will be added as we learn about them. Look for links to student projects too. New Technology Applications TEKS will be officially adopted in 2012-2013 so we are beginning to phase them in this year. The last revision took place in 1998!

Grade-level websites are in development over the course of the upcoming school year too, and they can also be accessed on the homepage of the Tech. Toolbox site. Each grade level is collaboratively developing new pages with updated learning resources for each of their IBPYP planners and including specific subject area resources also. Over the course of the upcoming school year, all of these sites will evolve to provide great learning opportunities for our students across the curriculum.

Back to School Overview

Monday, August 15, 2011

Creating Virtual Pinboards with Pinterest

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Pinterest can be a great teacher tool for creating virtual pinboards of all the inspiring images and ideas we encounter online for later use in our work. Visual bookmarks are 'pinned' while at the same time citing back directly to the source. Here are some instructions on how the pinning process works.

You can add your own notes and descriptions, as well as tags that will define and organize your boards for you. What a great way to expand your PLN while organizing, sharing, and discovering great professional ideas! For now it is by-invite only. Email me for an invite, or sign up directly with Pinterest, and you will receive one a short time later. My boards are viewable here. I have collected quite a few Reading Strategy ideas and kid-friendly Infographics so far.

Summer Learning Notes

Monday, August 8, 2011

Ideas and resources from my summer learning:

Conferences and Online Learning
* TIBS: Internationalism in IBPYP @ Rice U.
* SimpleK12 online webinars 
* TCEA Summer Conference:Technology Learning in Elementary Classroom
* Edutopia Summer Boot Camp

  • Fall 2011 Lunch and Learn Webinars via TCEA
  • iClassroom (T. Harkey--mobile learning considerations)

New Tools

Wix: flash-driven website builder
Popplet: interactive mindmaps and concept-mapping
Edistorm: share + organize ideas via online sticky notes
Juxio: interactive posters
Sliderocket: sleek slide presentations
Vocaroo: easy audio recorder
Wetoku: quick video interviewing tool
Screenr: screencasting
Class Blogmeister (integrated classroom + student blogs)
Google: What do you love? Search

Many more great free webinars are coming up soon sponsored by Simple K12--see full list HERE. On-demand webinars are accessible also. 

(backchannel notes)

More Summer Reading Ideas & Recommendations

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Find great e-freebies if you have an eReader via KindleKids Corner

Howard B. Wigglebottom Animated Books (free!) by Howard Binkow

13 online stories and a new one added each month at Barnes & Noble Studio

Find resources on ROE Summer Reading page that include information on local reading incentive programs and much more!

Student Book Recommendation: (submitted via this form)

by Roald Dahl is a fascinating book about a little orphan girl who suddenly hears a noise and looks out her window where she sees a giant monster sort of thing. She really doesn't know what it is. Later on in the book she finds out what it is, what he likes, and what that weird noise was. They soon become friends and the giant has a mission for the girl. But I can't tell you what that is. You have to read the book!

--By Bailey (3rd Grader) Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

Additional sites with recommended mobile learning apps:

Mobile Summer Reading & Learning

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Here are a few great resources with mobile
 learning apps for kids and families to explore during the summertime.
Image from: (CC) Geoff Peterson,

ArticlesSmart Rules of Thumb for Children's App Use

             Importance of Summer Reading (Big Universe)
***Cross-posted to SUMMER READING @ ROE Library page

Summer Reading: Feed Your Brain!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Click for full-page view.
Summer Reading: Feed Your Brain!
Summer months give kids an important opportunity to read for complete enjoyment and to discover new books. Also, research demonstrates that children who don't read during the summer can lose up to three months of reading progress. Students will bring home a Summer Reading ‘Millionaire Club’ Ticket & Flier this week. On the back, they can record books that are read over vacation. In August, be sure to return the completed signed ticket to the ROE Library. Each student will receive a special bookmark to recognize their efforts. There will also be a prize drawing from all the completed signed tickets!

Keep kids reading all summer by visiting the ROE LIBRARY online to explore a range of helpful reading resources, including a selection of summer reading lists. Access to and recommendations for online children’s e-books can be found there too. Learn more about other great local reading incentive programs, including…

  • HISD Millionaire Club Readers: Read & log 10 books & earn a special bookmark of your choice in September at the ROE Library.
  • Barnes & Noble: Earn a free book when you read any 8 books.
  • Borders: Read 10 books get 1 free.
  • Houston Public Library: Read 10 Books—get 1 free book! Read 20 Books—get 1 free book & voucher for a free ticket to a Houston Astros game & a coupon for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
  • H.E.B: Read 10 Books and mail in for a T-Shirt,
  • Half Price Books: Read 600 minutes and earn a $5 Back-to-School Bucks reward.
Happy Summer Reading!

New Books @ROE Library!

Friday, May 20, 2011

These beautiful new books have been generously donated to the River Oaks Elementary Library by Brett Merfish, in honor of her parents, Sherry and Gerald Merfish. She is an alumnae of River Oaks Elementary's Class of 1992!

River Oaks Elementary gave our daughter Brett a wonderful foundation and contributed greatly to her lifelong love of learning. Gerald and I are very touched by her generosity and strong desire to give back to an institution which was meaningful in her life. I hope the students enjoy these wonderful additions to the library and that they too will be infused with a love of reading!" said Sherry Merfish.

New to our collection are books on a range of subjects and genres -- biographies, non-fiction books on life science topics, Texas fairy tales, poetry, mythology, and both realistic and fantasy fiction. Our ROE students look forward reading and learning from each one of them!

Technology & Learning Meet the Future

Thursday, May 5, 2011

ROE students in Mr. Vialard's and Ms. Eastman's elective classes had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Viramontes, Houston I.S.D. Chief Technology Information Officer. Mr. Viramontes held a thought-provoking discussion with them about the evolution of technologies and the possibilities we might encounter as learners in the future. When asked about their career aspirations, students' responses ranged from U.S. Marine, pediatrician, marine photographer, video game designer, geologist, Olympic skiier, physicist, writer, engineer, and equinologist, to name just a few. Mr. Viramontes pointed out that technologies are critical to performing in these careers both now and in the future. He talked about how new ideas and developments grow out of problems or needs we have, and that kids like them are the key to the innovations that are happening with technology. 

Our conversation also focused on 'device learning.' Information technology is now held in our hands like never before. Our portable touch screens allow us to be able to study and learn wherever we are with convenience, speed, and mobility. Students have flexible opportunities to learn because of convergence of technologies in single handheld devices--e-books, cameras, games, voice/video recording, music, cameras, GPS systems--all tools we find together on our phones and tablets! 

Mr. Viramontes also discussed future learning through 3-D experiences. We considered the potential of holographicspersonal-area networks (PAN) and wearable technologies too. Through satellite and holographic technology we will be able to project people, places and things into our learning spaces and also be able to manipulate and walk around these streaming images. New dimensions in technology will also involve more of our senses, including even smell! 

We thank him for sharing his expertise and facilitating this exchange of ideas! Thanks also to Mr. Vialard for connecting us together for this visit and for his iPad snapshot posted above! Here are:

Finding Copyright Friendly Images

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Tale of Two Fish, a set by yiibu on Flickr.

Adding images to your projects helps to communicate your ideas. Create some of your own from an array of tools -- draw and scan, take photos, use online tools or a Paint program (like Sketchfu) to make your own original designs for images and diagrams. Sometimes you'll need to borrow things from other creators too. This can be tricky because of copyright restrictions. Any creative work you find online is fully copyrighted unless stated otherwise.

Analyzing the 
Tale of Two Fish photo story has helped 4th and 5th graders understand the difference between strict copyright protection with 'All rights reserved,' and 'Some rights reserved' Creative Commons licenses. CC licenses have developed as a part of the worldwide trend of sharing creative work online, and have made it possible for us to find and use images without making copyright violations.

What search tools lead to copyright friendly images?
Nettrekker Image Search
World Book Advanced Image Search
(Citations already included with each image)
In Flickr, select 'Search Creative Commons Content'

Under Usage Rights, select 'Labeled for Reuse'
& Under SafeSearch, select 'Strict Filtering'
Nettrekker and World Book Online are excellent image search options. Pics4Learning is another copyright friendly image library with permission granted to teachers and students for use. Citations are included with each image too. FlickrCC and Google Images-Advanced Search are powerful image search engines, but students must narrow searches with strict filtering and select 'Images Labeled for Reuse.'

How should you cite images?

Of course, it is important to give credit to the original creators of the images you use. Most licenses include a requirement of 'Attribution,' which means you must credit and link back to the original author. 4th and 5th graders are finding that an online citation maker like Bibme or OSLIS Citation Maker can help to build correct source citations. These tools provide templates for all kinds of source types, including images, books, and websites. Simply fill in the required source information, and the citation is created and formatted for you. Then you can copy and paste the citation information as you build your list of sources.

Numerous  links to additional copyright-friendly image search tools are located on the ROE Library site. 

Further Reading: 


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

'Once you have learned how to ask relevant and appropriate questions, you have learned how to learn and no one can keep you from learning
what you want or need to know.'

'If we hope to see inventive thought infused with critical judgment, questions and questioning must become a priority of schooling and must gain recognition as a supremely important technology.'
-- Questioning as Technology by Jamie Mackenzie

Questions can move students beyond the surface-level of any kind of learning. Kids are full of curiosity, but they can learn to develop questions that lead them to dig down and reach for deeper thinking and knowledge building. Questions not only jump-start this process, but also fuel motivation to learn too. Essential to knowing how to learn in the 21st century is this ability!

Students can learn to distinguish between different kinds of questions. What makes some questions easier and some harder to answer? Sorting and creating categories for questions is helpful to get kids thinking this way. Which of our questions are open-ended and which are closed?  Which will be quick  to answer and which will be more challenging? Why? What other categories of questions can we make? QAR (question-answer-relationship) is yet another way to analyze questions and strategically search for answers.

2nd graders collaboratively brainstormed questions about the cycle of
the moon as part of their Unit of Inquiry about cycles in the natural world
for 'How the World Works.' Then they analyzed, categorized, and
color-coded them as thick or thin questions
. 3rd graders did the same
as part 
of their study of complex societies on the topic of the Inca
of South America 
for 'Where We Are in Time & Place.'

 (Question Cube template)

'Thick and thin'  is one way for students to categorize questions. 'Thick' questions demand deep thinking and making connections among new ideas. 'Thin' questions are important though too! Kids can't ask or answer those high-level questions without exploring some basic knowledge and comprehension questions about  Form and Function first. These lead to those 'thick' high-level questions later. 

As kids become aware of patterns and categories of questions, they begin to understand the kinds of questions they can ask in order to accomplish the thinking they need to do. 
As a result, they become better equipped to seek answers too. As researchers--students seek specific information that allows them to explore a particular topic. All information they find filters through their questions. Without the anchor of questions to guide them, they quickly become lost and overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of information.

Interesting Reading:
The Question Mark: A an educational journal devoted to questions, questioning, strategic reading and quality teachingBeyond Cut & Paste: Engage Students with Questions of Import ( Power of Questions: Angela MaiersCuriosity: M. Ross on Classroom Habitudes by Angela Maiers