Sunday, November 16, 2008

Google Teacher Academy NY 2008

Getting ready to present at the NY Google Teacher Academy. So excited to see everyone and meet the new GCTs.
I am thrilled to be working with fellow GCT, Jesse Spevack on our Inspiring Idea below:

Here is an updated version of my Google Docs presentation (new examples, plus the footnotes feature included)!

I am so lucky because not only do I get to share, but I also get to sit in on other presentations. Also, my little sis lives in NY just minutes from Google NY- hopefully I'll have time to see her!

Saturday, November 15, 2008


I am planning my presentation for GTA NY and I can't stop making screencasts. I don't know what took me so long to get on the screencasting bandwagon. In using Google Docs this year with my 6th graders, some take to it right away and with others, I find myself repeating the same steps over and over and over...Here are three screencasts I made using Jing. The first is a "how to" on inserting charts and gadgets in Google Spreadsheets. The second is a "how to" on using Google Docs templates with students. Finally, the third is a "how to" for students when they would like to do some peer editing. My screencasting was inpired by Jesse Spevack's awesome screencast on "How to Create a SELF GRADING Quiz using Google Forms.




Monday, November 3, 2008

NJEA Technology Integration Showcase

PLEase, PLEase Me: Building Your Personal Learning Environment

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Magical Moments

For the past two weeks, one of my 6th grade classes has been collaborating with another 6th grade class at CIS339 in the Bronx using Google Docs. Both classes are participating in the National Writing Project's Letter to the Future President contest. But if no one from our 2 classes wins, it won't matter. We have already won this week. We have made connections with a group of students we would never have met. My students have been working on their letters, not only in school, but also outside of school and it is not homework. They couldn't wait to get home and work on their letters. They couldn't wait to get feedback from their partners in the Bronx. When they were editing their letters and their partner was online at the same time, they were so excited! They couldn't believe the magic of google docs. One student opened his letter and saw that his partner was reading his letter at the very same time he was proofreading and he actually said, "Mrs. Hartman, this is magic!"
My magic moment came at 9:13pm on Thursday night. I knew some of my students were behind on their letters due to absences, so I wanted to check how far along they were. When I opened my Google Docs account, I saw no fewer than 14 of my students were online working on their letters! I was able to give them suggestions and feedback in real time. The next morning, they came running into my homeroom, saying, "YOU were looking at our letters!"
Yes, I was. But not only are they writing for me, but they have 2 other sets of eyes on their work and the knowledge that their work will be viewed by whomever is judging the Letters to the Future President contest. It creates a new kind of accountability.

The class we are working with in the Bronx has a very special teacher. Mr. Spevack. Mr. Spevack is a fellow Google Certified Teacher and was just featured in an interesting article in the Village Voice about his students and technology in the classroom.

I will be posting some video documenting our journey and some more stories about our collaboration project in the future.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

NJAET Presentation 21 Free Language Arts Tools

On Tuesday, I am presenting at NJAET on 21 Free Tools to Engage 21st Century Language Arts Students. Below is the presentation. Click here to access the Link Library.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Chicago GTA Recap

I haven't had time to blog about the Chicago GTA. It was truly an awesome experience. I have never been to Chicago before, but ever since watching the show "Perfect Strangers", I have wanted to ride the "L" or elevated train. After I landed at O'Hare, I was able to live my dream. I hopped on th "L" with the help of several friendly attendants and $2 and 40 minutes later, I was at my hotel. I wish I had more time to sight see, but I had a great view from my hotel, which was just across the street from Google Chicago. Last year my students created a Google lit trip about the novel Chasing Vermeer, which is mostly set in the Hyde Park section of Chicago and I really wanted to tour the area. However, I did meet several teachers who worked with Blue Balliett before she became a full-time author. I will definitely have to travel back to Chicago because I missed the Magnificent Mile and Oprah! I met up with Lisa Thumann and Cindy Lane (aka Google Earth Girl) and then we had dinner with the GTA team.
The next day was all Google all the time. One inspiring idea from Kern Kelley was that all of the seniors at his high school were gifted with a domain names as there graduation present. What a great idea for a gift that keeps on giving! I was able to meet so many people F2F, that I knew only by Twitter name. Even though I was at the GTA to present on Docs and Apps, I took away as much as I did from the GTA at Googleplex 2008 as an attendee. The atmosphere is so motivating and I swear its not just the food and the Starbucks machine, the giant bean bags and the PS3 Rock Band... when you are there all you want to do is "keep on moving forward." You are in an environment where you want to perform and question and succeed. Can't wait until NYC GTA on November 18th! It will be a Google trifecta for me!


If metacognition is thinking about thinking, I have been doing a lot of thinking about teaching lately. The new class I am teaching this year, Connections, has made me really question myself as a teacher. I love the class and I love teaching it, but it is the most challenging class I have ever taught. It forces me to constantly assess my teaching methods and assessments, which is a good thing, but I am also constantly planning and creating new material and curricula. I also have 120 students with a vast spectrum of ability and maturity.

I've been spending quite a bit of my time focused on all things Google. One of Google's "rules of thumb" is "to do one thing really well." The most important thing for me to do really well is to be the best mom- and some days I know I am. BUT, I also want to be the best teacher and the best tech ed junkie, and the best professional developer and I can't do all 3 things really well (to my standards). My Google
Reader is full and I have so many great sites and ideas bookmarked in from my Twitter network that I don't know where to start.

Another Google rule of thumb is "great is never good enough." I have started teaching a lot of professional development classes to my fellow teachers. I enjoy it, but there is quite a bit of planning that needs to be done to get everyone to be a Google Guru. My colleagues and friends deserve greatness.

This year has been one of the best years of my professional life. Never in a million years would I have thought I would become a Google Certified Teacher or had the opportunities to learn from so many prolific and intelligent people. I am so grateful for all the choices and opportunities that have come my way and how supportive my family, friends, colleagues, and students have been. I keep thinking to myself that if I just keep working hard and saying yes to every opportunity, I will figure out which hat I really want to wear.

I really need to take off this thinking cap and go to bed!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Chicago GTA

Here is my Docs Preso from Google Teacher Academy Chicago:

Link Library:

Thanks to everyone who collaborated: Thomas Barrett, Tara Rossi, Barry Bachenheimer, Liz B. Davis, Lucy Gray, Kenneth Shelton, and many others.
I met so many amazing people and can't wait to collaborate with them.
Apply, apply, apply to GTA NYC!!!!!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Back to School Night O8, Live from Chicago...

It's Mrs. Hartman!
I had the wonderful opportunity of presenting at the Chicago Google Teacher Academy, so I had to miss Back to School night. It gave me the opportunity to really try out Sliderocket.

I have never missed a BTS night before, but I am hoping parents will like the presentation, plus those who cannot attend will be able to view it on our class blog, Hartman Hoopla.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Two Perspectives on Google Docs

This week I am presenting Google Docs to the 50 or so new Google Certified Teachers in Chicago at the next Google Teacher Academy. I can't believe I get to go back to Google again, and this time to Chicago, a place I have never been before. I thought it might be interesting to get some reflections on using Google Docs from a wide variety of educators and administrators. I asked Tara Rossi, a special educator from my school, Sparta Middle School and Barry Bachenheimer, a fellow GTA and Director of Instructional Services in the Caldwell-West Caldwell School District. They both provided great sound bytes about Google Docs and I cannot wait to share them during my presentation. I am also excited that Google has announced the next Google Teacher Academy in the Big Apple on November 18th! It was a life changing experience. Many people have questions about sharing and Kevin Jarrett did a great blog post addressing many questions. My advice is to apply early and get your students involved.

This past week, two exciting things happened. I launched Google Apps for Education with 120 6th graders in my Connections classes at The students were so excited and kept asking if they could work at home. One of my students responded for me, "Yes, of course you can do this at home, that is the whole point!" which made me smile.
Last but not least, Sliderocket is now free for everyone! I just made my Back to School presentation and now my students can use it as well. After this crazy week of Back to School Nights and Google Teacher Academy I will post my Google Docs presentation and Back to School Night 08 using Sliderocket.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Make a Trading Card of Yourself and Your Students

Use Big Huge Labs to do a fun getting to know you activity with your class. I love the trading cards! We are using the trading cards for group work and partners. When the students completed their cards, we laminated them and hung them up for Back to School night.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Two Great Opportunities to Start Off the School Year

This is cross posted as Tech Dossier.
Best Buy is offering $2million dollars in technology education grants, click here to apply. Deadline is October 12th, 2008.

Sometime in late September, I will be offering a class called, "Becoming a Google Guru" to all faculty at Mohawk Ave and Sparta Middle School. It is a series of 12- 1 hr classes before school (7:45-8:45). Any teacher who attends all 12 classes will be entered is a raffle to win a sweet prize!
Here is an overview of the class:

Class #1 - Creating Google Account/iGoogle Homepage, Quick Overview of Everything Google and the Google Philosophy
Class #2 - Google Advanced Search/Scholar
Class #3 - Google Books - build your classroom library
Class #4 - Google Docs Part 1- word docs and presentations
Class #5 Google Docs Part 2 - spreadsheets, widgets, forms, calculator - geared towards math teachers
Class #6 Google News Archives
Class #7 Google Sites
Class #8 Google Maps/Earth ideas for the classroom - geared toward Social Studies teachers and science teachers
Class #9 Google Notebook
Class #10 Google News and News Alerts
Class #11 Custom Search Engines
Class #12 Even More Google

Dates are coming soon so stay tuned!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

New Methods in Research

Next week I'll be teaching educators in Grades 5-12 about new methods in writing the research paper. Our high school is under construction and we will not have a media center this year. There needs to be many digital alternatives. I've put together a Google presentation outlining the course and all the links. Any feedback would be appreciated. Any sites I left off that are vital?

Monday, August 11, 2008

There is no plan and I am a planner.

I recently read The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You'll Ever Need by Daniel H. Pink, the same author of A Whole New Mind.

It was my first graphic novel and a quick read and I think it is a great read for parents and students in high school or college. But it is especially a great read for new and seasoned teachers.

Pink's lists 6 essential lessons for thriving in the world of work. Here they are with my teacher twist on each one:
1. There is no plan. Snow days cancel field trips and last minute assemblies wreak havoc on your lesson plan. You're teaching 5th grade this year, but you might be teaching 8th grade next year.
2. Think strengths, not weaknesses. Always focus on what students are doing right instead of wrong.
3. It's not about you. It's about the students. Pink states, "The most valuable people in any job bring out the best in others." That is exactly what we as teachers need to focus on.
4. Persistence trumps talent. Encourage and value the student who comes to every extra help session just as much as the ones who ace every test with their eyes close. Later in life, persistence counts more than talent.
5. Make excellent mistakes. "Too many people spend their time avoiding mistakes" and then they never do anything. We need to teach students that it is okay to make mistakes, "each time they make a mistake they get a little better and move a little closer to excellence" (Pink).
6. Leave an imprint. You don't want to be the teacher that everyone forgets, you want to be the teacher that everyone remembers, the teacher who gets emails from her students 30 years from now.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Using Technology in The Language Arts Classroom

Slide show for this week's class, "Using Technology in the Language Arts Classroom."
It is a two day class, three hours each day.
Quick overview of a variety of tools and sites for teachers of grades 5-12, but mostly grades 5-8.
Any suggestions or additions are much appreciated.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Assessment in E-Learning Wrap UP

This Slide Rocket Presentation is the final piece of my Assessment in E-Learning Course. We had to identify four assessment tools and how they will be used to assess learning in an online environment. Since I am using Moodle in the fall as well as Google Apps for Education I had many ideas, but narrowed it down to only 4 tools.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Moodle Precourse Survey

The following survey was created for my upcoming students as we begin our foray into a Moodle Course.
Had to take a screen shot in case my Zoomerang Survey expires.

Customizable Search Engines

Just created my first customized search engine using Google. Hopefully it will be a great resource for teachers teaching the research paper process.
Check it out

Friday, July 18, 2008

Bloom's Discussion Cube

This week in my Assessment in E-Learing class we debated the use of Bloom's Taxonomy and when students should become aware of it. I think that 6-8 grade is a great time to introduce it. There are fun ways to do it such as creating Bloom's Taxonomy Discussion Cubes. We had to break down the activities and objectives of a lesson on Studying the First Amendment: Exploring Truth in Journalism by Christine Casey.
One idea I had was for each group of students to create their own news network on Ustream, but each network would have to decide upon its own "spin" to a local news story that would be covered by all of the student created UStream News Networks. It would be interesting to evaluate how each news station reported in the same local story.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Jigsaw Assessment

This week in my Assessment in E-Learning class I participated in a Jigsaw Activity with 3 other students (including Patrick Chodkiewicz of Edu-Connectivity) regarding different types of assessment tools. While I was researching my tool, Blogger, I came across this great Teacher Tube Video:

I can't wait to use this Jigsaw activity with my own students next year when I pilot a Google Apps for Education program in my classroom.

Google Doc Jigsaw Assessment Tool

Friday, June 27, 2008

Comment Quotas and Student Blogs

Note: This post is in response to my E-Learning Assessment Class
In Sarah Hurlburt's June 2008 article"Defining Tools for a New Learning Space: Writing and Reading Class Blogs" she poses this important question about students bloggers:
"Are there other ways besides comment quotas to enforce student reading?"
Hurlburt answers this question:

"When a topic or assignment is directly connected to a larger assessment
exercise, such as an exam or a paper, students also read each others’ posts
as a way of studying the material through exposure to different approaches
and observations. Obviously, there is a risk that some of the material
posted will perpetuate incorrect information, but it must also be noted that
for a post to actually propagate a mistake, its errors must be indistinguishable to
the average reader. This is often not the case – in fact, the process of
identifying which material is useful and on target and
which material lacks the necessary substance significantly contributes to
the larger goal of developing critical thinking skills. Furthermore, as long
as the instructor comments, even if no one else from the course does, the
instructor can ask questions that will point both the original author and
any other readers in the right direction, without necessarily rejecting the
post out of hand."

As a teacher, I usually assign comment quotas to mys students, such as every student must read and comment on at least two other student blogs per week and follow up on any comments on their personal blog to earn full points for the week. If students are blogging about novels we are reading, they are usually blogging about personal connections they are having with the novel and answering discussions questions about the novel in their blogs. When students know that by reading other students' blogs, it will help them study for a final exam, they have a vested interest. Next year I will be working on a collaborative blog between my students and students from another state, NY. They will be working as groups to create blogs that can be considered "grass roots campaigns" for global development issues they feel strongly about. I predict that because they do not know these students at all, they will be scouring the blogs to find out what they "look" like virtually and to see if they have any shared interests. Since we won't be letting the students email, commenting by teachers and students is one of onnly 2 ways that they will be able to receive feedback (the other way will be a discussion board). Leaving comments will hopefully be at an all time high because I find students comment more on a blog when they don't know the person f2f, they are more comfortable commenting when there is anonymity and no assumptions based on physical appearance.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Even More

Today I attended the Google Teacher Academy. It was phenomenal, a life altering experience for sure. I have tons of notes to review and ideas to post, but my brain is spinning right now. I need a day or two to soak it in. The two key words for today as stated by Christopher Fitzgerald Walsh of Big Tree Learning are "even more" - literally, this means click on "even more" under the "more" google button. There are so many apps under the "even more" that can be used in the classroom that I haven't really explored until today. But "even more" has a deeper meaning for today. Even when you think you know everything possible about google apps, there is even more. Even when you think you can't add one more rss feed to your blogger, there is even one more that is a must read. Even when you think your PLN is at its limit, there are even more incredible people out there to learn from. Even when you think there is there is no room left in your stomach, there is even more in the google micro kitchens. There is even more to life than we will ever know.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Left Brain or Right Brain

On my long flight to San Jose for the Google Teacher Academy, I finally got the chance to finish a book on my "to do" pile: Daniel H. Pink's A Whole New Mind. In the book he writes about the age we are entering, the conceptual age. "In short , we've progressed from a society of farmers to a society of factory workers, to a society of knowledge workers. And now we're progressing yet again- to a society of creators and empathizers, of pattern recognizers and meaning makers" (Pink, 50). To survive in this age, Pink says that we need to ask ourselves three essential questions about our jobs/careers:
  1. Can someone overseas do it cheaper?
  2. Can a computer do it faster?
  3. Is what I am offering in demand in this age of abundance and conceptulization?
How are we preparing today's students to answer these 3 questions?
Pink gives examples of schools such as
CHAD in Philly that are preparing students for the conceptual age, an age of designers. He also notes the Rainbow Project , a new standardized test developed by psychologists appears to better predict who will succeed in college. Instead of taking a test like the SAT's, students are give 5 New Yorker cartoons and asked to write captions, or write a story using only a title as their guide. The are also presented with real life challenges such as trying to convince friends to help them pack and move. The Rainbow project is trying to replace the SAT, but make people more aware of the role the right brain plays.

Pink also talks about the new Six Senses of the Conceptual Age, Design. Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play, and Meaning. He devotes a one chapter to each sense and gives examples of how one can develop these senses:
Design - Choose a household item that annoys you in any way and recreate it. Send your new sketch to the manufacturer.
Story - Write a mini saga about someone's life; it cannot be more than 50 words.
Symphony-Look for solutions in problems. Ask yourself these 2 questions about any object: 1. Where else would it work? and 2. Would flipping it work? or Create an Inspiration board- put anythings that speaks to you from quotes to scraps to leaves on an empty board.
Empathy - Play "Whose Life" - ask a random person for their bag and have them remove only their personal identification. Then determine who this person really is by what they have in their bags.
Play- Play video games such as the Wii or Play Station 3.
Meaning-write gratitude letters to people who are special to you on YOUR birthday.
The book was a great deal to take in ,especially before GTA tomorrow. Somehow I am going to use this in my Connections classroom next year. Maybe I will come up with something on my plane ride back to NJ if my head in not completely "googled."

Image from:

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Learner or Teacher Center Post for Assessment in E-Learning

Note: This post is in response to my E-Learning Assessment Class
Partner Interview:
This is Erica Hartman. Here is a little about her:

FAMILY: She is from Bergen County, NJ but now lives in Northwestern NJ with her husband, Todd. She has a daughter, Jaylin. Todd is a high school phys. ed teacher and a basketball coach at a high school in Central NJ. Her daughter Jaylin is 3 and a half and is full of fun.

EDUCATION BACKGROUND: After graduating from The College of NJ, she has been a 6th grade language arts teacher at Sparta Middle School for the past 6 years. Erica finished her Master's in Technology Education at NJCU in May 2007.

WHAT SHE WANTS OUT OF THIS CLASS: She would love to get new assessment ideas for her classroom because next year she is going from having 60 students to 120 and needs a fast and efficient assessments.

INTERESTING FACT: Something interesting about her is that on June 24th she is going to Google for the Google Teacher Academy! Also, she has a friend and colleague in this course, Pat Chodkiewicz.

Link to class wiki

After taking the quiz, Assessment: Learner Centered or Teacher Centered, I agree with the results because I feel my classroom is very learner centered. I always ask myself 2 questions when I am planning a lesson:1. Is this fun? 2. How can I be sure they are learning? If I can answer both those questions, then I am confident about the lesson I am facilitating. I believe that assessment comes in many forms and I am a big fan of exit tickets and parking garages (students park their car in a column such as "I am confident about my knowledge today" or "I have more questions"). One of the best forms of assessments I have used recently is a cell phone poll. I post a question on a smart board and students use cell phones to text the answer ( The answers appear on the screen in the form of a graph.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Google Cake

On Friday, my 7/8 Language Arts class threw a Google party (they were in my Google Application Video). We totally broke the "no sugar law" but we had a blast playing Apples to Apples and Imagine If... and listening to great hits of the 80's . Going to miss these guys when they move up.

Friday, June 13, 2008

End of Year Technology Survey

I always like to get a feel for what my students enjoyed doing the most at the end of the year. I created a 5 question Zoomerang survey about technology integration.

Their favorite Language Arts project that involved technology was Photostory (57%). The comments mean more to me than the numbers:
"The project we used the most technology on was the photo story. It was a whole new experience for me. We wrote a fairytale and recorded it onto photo story and we had to choose a picture that described the scene.I think it was a good project and i enjoyed it because it involved creativity and wasn't just an assignment that everyone else was doing the same."

"the language arts project that enjoyed the most with technology involved would be the photo story. it was sooo fun! i loved how we were able to talk in the microphone and then you would hear it and it would be you saying what you just said. it was my first time doing this kind of project and i cant wait to do it again!"

Wikispaces came in 2nd (34%). Here are some comments:
"The best technology tool i learned about this year was wikispaces because when we were reading the book Esperanza Rising we would have to answer questions on the wikispace but other people would answer them too so you could compare your answer. I think that is an effective way of teaching while reading a book."

" The best technology tool learned this year would be wikispaces! itwas the best because it was on the coumpter and i love the coumpter. I answered every single question and made some of my own."

Voicethread came in 3rd, followed closely by Google Docs. We only had one working computer in the classroom, so I am sure the results would have been different if we had 4 or more computers. The two projects that involved Voicethread and Google docs were done in the classroom and students were very frustrated with the lack of computer access.

Their favorite NEW web tool was (the fruit machine!), closely followed by and Notestar.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Okay, class take out your cell phones...

David Pogue listed a bunch of cell phone freebies in the New York Times on June 6th. Many of them can be used in the classroom. For example, Jott is a personal transcription service- students can record their homework assignments into their cellphone and it will automatically send a text message to the phone and an email to the account that was used to sign up. Having a disagreement in class? Just call ChaCha - 800-2CHACHA. She can answer any question, such as who wrote the lyrics to "Walk Like an Egyptian?" For some reason we were having that discussion in class today.
Last week a bunch of teachers were writing curriculum for a new class and Patrick Higgins took a poll using Poll Everywhere.
He asked us what we were most apprehensive about regarding the new curriculum. Everyone took out their cell phones and answered. Bam! Animated graphs display real-time results in PowerPoint or in your web browser as people vote.There are endless possibilities for the classroom.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Horses are Cool

One of my students created her own wiki, Horses are Cool, and it really is wonderful. I love her disclaimer, "By the way, this wiki is for educational purposes so please don't put peoples names or gossip about people on here. If you want to do that, go somewhere else and get in trouble by yourself. Thank you." She updates it weekly and is also one of my Hartman Hoopla class bloggers.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Going to Google!

I got the best news yesterday, I am going to the Google Teacher Academy at the Googleplex! I am so excited and have already "met" a bunch of people who are going. However, I need to thank a bunch of people who helped me get here, especially my students in Period 7/8 who pretty much came up with the concept of the video. Also, Pat Chodkiewicz for being an excellent Director of Photography and Patrick Higgins for teaching me all things tech! I will be forever grateful to them. Check out the video!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

NJAET Conference

Just found out I will be presenting at the NJAET conference on Tuesday, October 14 at Georgian Court University. Here is a short description:
Presenter: Mrs. Erica Hartman
Position: 6th Grade Language Arts Teacher
Organization/ Business Name: Sparta Middle School
Workshop Type: Hands_on
Workshop Length: 70 Minutes
Workshop Title: 21 Free Tools to Engage 21st Century Language Arts Students
Workshop Description: Trying to make it all work in a one computer classroom? As teachers we need to be in
the continuous loop that is Web 2.0 technology. The priority is to reach and connect with students. Here are 21
FREE web tools/sites you can use to stay one step ahead of your tech savvy students. They are short, fast, easy,
and free. All you need is one working computer in your classroom.
Hope to see you there! I am a bit nervous because it is my first big presentation by myself!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Teacher for a Day

Edutopia just released it Reader's Survey for 2008. I was so happy to see one of my favorite blogs, The Cool Cat Teacher blog make the list. Not only do they list the best tech tools, blogs, etc., but they also list "Who from the past or present, You'd like to teach your class for a day?"
After thinking very long and hard, I chose my dad. He didn't want me to become a teacher and often asks me what I do all day!? I think he would make a great teacher and would come to like it if he actually tried it. He is just crazy enough that the students would dig him. Who would you pick to teach your class for the day?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Must SEE Video of the Week

I received a email from Barbara Feldman about this video made by Don Crowther.
Like I always tell my students, "It doesn't matter if you win or lose, it's how you play the game."
I am going to show this to my 6th graders in homeroom to pump them up for the NJ ASK tomorrow.
They keep asking so many questions about the NJASK such as: "Why do we have to take it?"
"Does it count?"
"What does it mean?"
I tell them this their one chance to show how much they have learned and how much they know. The only person it really matters to is YOU! If, at the end of testing, you feel like you did your personal best, then that is what counts. So I guess it really is about "how you feel at the end of the day."

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Friday, April 11, 2008

Announcing Our Class Blog

Here is our class blog, Hartman Hoopla. Trying it out for the rest of the year. The content is student created, kind of like in "A Week in Review" format. Each week a student is chosen using the Slot Machine from
Hopefully, we can start out next year in September and invite parents to comment.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

American Idol Rejects

3rd Marking period Independent Reading Projects- Students could read any genre they please. Their project was to write a rap/song/poem or to make a collage. Both projects had to include a written reflection. Out of 65 students I got 60 collages and 5 songs. The songs were unbelievable. The students recorded them using Audacity and then we uploaded them into gcast. From gcast we can listen to them or you can upload them into your iTunes. We now have an all-out iTunes war going on. Whose song will be downloaded the most?

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Oh, Crapitalization!

Grading research paper before 3rd Marking Period papers. I've proofread, a buddy has proofread (even made the buddies read the second drafts backwards), Microsoft Word has spell-checked, the 6th grader writer has proofread (a very big assumption), but still sooooooo many mistakes.
So, I hand back the papers, covered in red ink, and a student who sits in the back looks over my comment, grade and proofreading marks and exclaims, "Oh, crapitalization!"
That sums up the day perfectly.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Better in the Middle

I have always felt that middle schools suffered from "the middle child syndrome." But you can get help - at the NJMSA. Last Friday our 6th grade guidance counselor and I traveled to Kean University to attend and present. Our topic was Easing the Transition from Elementary School to Middle School. While the guidance counselor did a great job of explaining our transition program and the research that backed it, I explained the technology aspects. We created a wiki,,
for examples on how technology can be used as a tool to aid in transitions for parents, teachers, and students. Everyone who attended our session was eager to join, some wiki-ing for the first time ever. Hopefully we can all come together with some ideas on smoothing out the transition process and pay a little more attention to the needs and concerns of the "middle child."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


On Tuesday, March 18, my Language Arts partner and I attended the NJECC conference at Montclair State University. We were really looking forward to hearing Marc Prensky ( the man who coined the term "digital native) speak, but unfortunately he became very ill. We attended sessions on iLife, Leopard OS, and Improving Writing with Technology. While we didn't have time to take a ride on the Cisco bus we got some great classroom ideas for language arts teacher. Here are some:
  1. Give each student a topic to write an essay on. Collect them and give them out to a different student to rewrite.
  2. Create a class blog. Have students who are finished early with their work update the blog on a weekly basis. Include topics that were covered, asssignments we are working on, pictures of projects, links for topics we are researching, etc. Then, invite parents to comment on the blog. This is a great idea for many reasons. First of all, the author of the blog could simply be "The Class" so there are no privacy issues. Second, it keeps parents in the loop. Finally, it differentiates instruction. Writing an article on the blog could be a reward for some students or something to work on for others that tend to finish early.
  3. Instead of using a notebook as a Daily Writing Journal, have each student create a blog at the beginning of the year. They must post at least one blog for every school week. Also, they must comment on 2 other student blogs each school week.
Here are two groups/networks to join for ideas about improving student writing through technology:

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Last week I was given the opportunity to attend and teach at the Turning on Learning conference at Montclair State Universty.
It was interesting to get out of the classroom and see what other teachers are doing and how technology is being used in other school districts in Northern NJ. Actually, it was just refreshing to have an uninterrupted adult dialogue that didn't have to do with Disney Princesses or chocolate Teddy Grahams. Patrick Chodkiewicz and I had a great time teaching a class on using wiki in a Language Arts classes. We created turningonwiki - a guide to starting a wiki.
The classroom set ups at MSU are a tech dream. They have Mac Book carts for each classroom, podiums with speakers and projectors, DVD/CD players,wireless Internet - my dream classroom.
It was the first time I had ever attended a conference on technology or taught at one and looking back it made me realize how lucky I am that I even know what a PLE is and that I am surrounded by people who encourage me to "push the envelope" when it comes to using technology and are willing to use technology even when it can be scary. I am also grateful that I teach children and not adults - not that I didn't enjoy working with my peers. It's just that students are so accepting and appreciative of technology.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Top 15 Educational Tools/Sites for Middle School Language Arts

These are the top 15 websites for use in a middle school language arts class. My students either used these tools or were exposed to them. They generated this list and rated them on Survey Monkey. I will post survey results as soon as everyone has taken it, but here is the list:

  2. Quizlet
  3. Exploretree
  4. Survey Monkey
  5. Spelling City
  6. Writing the City
  7. Legacy Project
  8. wiki
  9. Skype
  10. Quintura
  12. Voicethread
  13. Google Earth
  14. Notestar
  15. 21 Classes
Next year's tech resolutions: