Sunday, November 8, 2009

NJEA 2009 Convention High Tech Hall - Forget the free yardsticks and hand sanitizer!

This year's NJEA Convention High Tech Hall surpassed my expectations. We started out small last year with the Technology Integration Showcase, but this year we really did it right. Thanks to Darryl Ensminger and his team from the NJEA for all their hard work. All of the presentations and classes can be accessed here: My presentation, Everyone's a Winner with Top 25 Free and Easy Web 2.0 Tools was so much fun. I got meet so many new faces, plus catch up with some old friends. Attendees were happily surprised by all of the technology offerings and many commented to me how worthwhile their stop in the high tech hall was to their professional development.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Engaging Parents

The students are already engaged, but what about the parents? Back to School Night was my first chance to really engage parents in Connections. I tried a new approach this year. I spent almost zero time talking about rules and regulations and more time helping parents get a handle on exactly what my class, Connections, is. I used Slide Rocket again and it definitely get more attention than a Power Point. Parents this year, seemed really impressed by the our class blog and twitter account.
One of my goals for the year is to have more parental involvement, whether it be commenting on our blog, following us on Twitter or skyping into the classroom.

We had a great Back to School Night last night. I saw a great deal of enthusiasm and interest from parents. I hope the excitement and interest carries on.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Smart EdTech Strategies for Tough Times

School has started so I am super busy. However, I am excited to attend an event on Friday, September 25th called "Smart Ed Tech Strategies for Tough Times" in Jersey City. For the event itinerary click here.
To register:

I'm most excited for the keynote: Using Emerging Technologies to Improve Student Achievement by Chris Dede and Timothy E. Wirth Professor in learning technologies at Harvard University.

If you can't attend, I'll be tweeting and blogging live. I am sure to get some great tips and websites!

Photo credit:

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Search, Learn and Share GTA Boulder 09

I was lucky enough to present at Google Teacher Academy in Boulder yesterday as a Lead Learner; "learner" being the key word because I learned so much and shared so many ideas with new and old Google Certified Teachers and actual Google developers. The presentations by my fellow lead learners (including the Google Lit Trip Guy, Jerome Burg, Lisa Thumann, Kern Kelley, Christine Archer, and Ken Shelton) as well as by Google developers such as Ronald Ho, Aidan Chopra, and Mike Springer were unbelievable and by the far the most inspiring and mind-blowing I have ever seen. In my Docs rotation, at one point I had 4 actual Google Doc team members with me. The pressure was on to impress, but I was blown away by how helpful and receptive they were to educators' ideas. I think they were suprised at students and teachers use Google Apps.
However, my personal "aha moment" occurred when we went on a tour of the Google office (the lobby of this office had a rock wall, pool table, ping pong table, and a Rock Band Competition going in- definitely the most "Googley" lobby I have seen so far). Our tour guide, a member of the Geo Apps Team was asked how one could land a job at Google. Our tour guide told us its easier to get into Harvard than to get a job at Google. Our gracious guide and many of the Googlers reiterated that day that Google is not looking for people that can remember facts, but people who know how to find answers. Right after the tour, Lucy Gray showcased the new Google Search Curriculum and I am definitely going to start out the school year using this - kind of a mini search boot camp. After reflecting on last year, teaching students to search smarter, not harder is definitely on my to-do list for this year. It also made me recall a blog post I shared with my students and their parents last year, "Google's Advice to Students: Major in Learning and Google's Study Tips for Students.
On Wednesday, August 12, 2009 5:00 pm
Pacific Daylight Time, Google is offering a free Webinar on the new Search Curriculum. Check it out!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Google Apps for Education Review

This year I piloted Google Apps for Education in the classroom at
I bought a domain at GoDaddy and it took me about a week to figure out proxies,domain, etc. It probably wasn't the best way to configure everything, but it worked! I decided to block their access to Gmail and Talk because it was more than I could handle for the first year. The students had access to everything else.

They had Gmail addresses, but they were only used to share documents, spreadsheets, presentations and forms. Creating accounts was easy, I created a spreadsheets and the Apps team created all of the accounts for me. Let me tell you that when ealing with middle schoolers, that spreadsheet was the key to survival! I can't tell you how many times I looked up usernames and passwords!

The first marking period of school, I felt like a computer applications teacher, showing my 6th graders how to login, manage their Google Docs, share Docs, create a Google site, etc. Not to mention how easily 6th graders forget passwords! It was exhausting.

After laying the groundwork, I started to see everything coming together.

By the 4th marking period, they were so adept that they figured out how to do things I never even knew about such as transitions and animations in Docs Presentations and creepy crawly spider gadgets in sites. They were using Google Apps for all their classes, not just mine, and they were even creating their own websites at home for fun! Some even organized end of the year parties and made digital yearbooks of their own.
I am so proud of my students from last year. To check out some cool projects we did, check out HartmanHoopla, a blog co-authored by my students and I.

Above everything my students learned last year, they possess 21st century technology skills and tools that will help them succeed in the future and tools to discover their passions, such as the Hannah and Cailin who have their own YouTube Channel, website, and Twitter account. These two young ladies are just getting started! It's unbelievable what 6th graders can do when you give them access to tools such as Google Apps for Education.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Power of the Network

A couple of weeks ago, I saw tweet on Twitter by isenbergs asking if anyone was willing to catch an egg. Intrigued, I DM'd her and we started networking . Basically, my students needed to "catch an egg" sent by a group of third graders from Saltsburg, PA live on Skype.
It was a cross country egg toss and the objective was:
"To design and construct a protective structure within a cardboard box that will prevent damage to an egg or eggs which will be mailed to another classroom. An egg without any visible cracks or damage is scored as a success."
Click here for the rules.
Each group had to construct a case for an egg and mail it. Then my students had to open the package, LIVE on Skype. The other teacher, Ms. Jake, recorded the grand opening. We received the package at 1:19pm today and Skyped at 2 pm. The box was very carefully wrapped with warnings on it such as "FRAGILE" and "OPEN WITH CARE." The 3rd graders stuffed the box with broken popsicle sticks, cut up straws, and twine. They also created a paper box inside, placed it in a ziploc bag, and secured it with rubber bands. We couldn't wait to open it! It was so great the they actually got to watch my students open the box live on Skype.
Sadly, the egg was cracked, but it was a good try Saltsburg Elementary!
We blame it on the postman! Better luck next time. I was surprised at how empathetic my students were and they were all genuinely upset! Some wanted to beg the cafeteria manager for a hard boiled egg to hold up to the camera.
Anway, the moral of the story is now we have even more CONNECTIONS. My students are starting to write children's e-books on themes we have been studying throughout the year and now we found a class to send them to for review. It's all about CONNECTIONS.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Summer's OFF? Not if you're a TEACHER!

This summer I am taking PD on the road and heading down to The Center for Mathematics, Science and Computer Education at Rutgers. Hopefully, I will even get to visit the grease trucks!

Here is a list of courses and information:CMSCE Summer 2009 Workshops
While all of the course are worthwhile, here are my course descriptions:

8/17/2009 Web 2.0 Tools for Special Educators

As a special educator you must have the tools to teach to different types of learners. What better tool bag to use than engaging Web 2.0 tools? This course will encompass classroom and time management tricks, graphic organizers, text to speech and speech to text programs, study skills, and best of all-they are all FREE! These web 2.0 tools support the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework. This class is not limited to special educators, but will focus on supporting and engaging all types of learners.

8/18/2009 Turning on Wiki

Why wiki? You may have heard of a wiki, but how can you implement it effectively in your classroom? This course will showcase best practices and provide strategies for using a wiki for instruction, assessment, and virtual student collaboration in a K-12 setting. Additionally, we will also address security and privacy issues and examine sample permission slips. You will leave with a wiki set up and ready to rock. Wikify your school, classroom, a unit of study, or a simple project this summer.

8/19/2009 Google Maps and Earth

Have you ever wanted to take a class trip to Ancient Rome, go inside a volcano, or dive underwater with Cousteau? Well, with Google Maps and Earth 5.0 you can. This class will cover the steps to creating and collaborating on maps and virtual field trips as well as ways in which you can use Google Earth to enhance your instruction and engage learners in Math, Science, Social Studies, and Language Arts. Note: If you do not already have a Google account, please create one prior to the course. You do not need to have a Gmail address to create an account. You may create a Google account with any valid email address. Also, please download Google Earth 5.0 prior to this course.

8/20/2009 Google for Science Teachers

We have all used Google Search, but how can the plethora of FREE Google Tools streamline your tasks, enhance your instruction and engage learners in your science classroom? We will examine and utilize tools such as Google Docs, News, Scholar, Maps, Earth, and Reader. You will leave this course with new tips and tricks that will start your year off on the right foot. Note: If you do not already have a Google account, please create one prior to the course. You do not need to have a Gmail address to create an account. You may create a Google account with any valid email address.

8/21/2009 Google for School Administrators/ Guidance Counselors

The many free tools of Google can help you streamline and organize your tasks and responsibilities as an administrator or guidance counselor. By implementing Google Docs, News Alerts, Reader, and Blogger into your daily grind, you will see a direct increase in your productivity and a decrease in your stress level. All the Google tools are free and technophobe friendly. Note: If you do not already have a Google account, please create one prior to the course. You do not need to have a Gmail address to create an account. You may create a Google account with any valid email address.

Hope to see you there!
Picture credit:

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Google Sites- the New Research Paper

Big Foot, NJ Devil, Mothman, Vampires OH MY! We recently finished our research unit on History's Unsolved Mysteries. Each student created a Google Site on their topic and embedded their research paper using Google Docs. Some students even went crazy and embedded surevys and presentations about their topics using Google Forms and Presentation. We also found some very interesting Gadgets to add to our sites such as creepy crawly spiders and maps.
Here are some example sites:


Have fun exploring!

Google Docs Drawing Example

Google Docs released new drawing tools and my students were quick to incorporate them into their writing. We recently went on an overnight class trip to the School of Conservation @ Stokes State Forest. When we came back the students wrote stories about their trip from the point of view of an object (living or dead) from Stokes.
Here is a link to one student example: Rainbow Bridge by Michelle K.
Here is a second example by Madeline A. from the point of view of a deer.

FUN = New Math + Connections

We needed a break from our current unit, "Forbidden Foods" so when I came across Craig Damrauer's site, New Math, I thought what better way for a language arts teacher to incorporate math and equations in the classroom? Before we even looked at the site, we reviewed the components of equations and I asked the students for some examples of equations. I got everything from:
1+1=2, butter+fly = butterfly, and 2x=18. Then I told the students we were going to do some "New Math" and they groaned. At first they didn't get Mr. Damrauer's newest equation- "March+Optimism=April." However, after discussing what optimism means and how horrible the weather was here in Sparta in March, they GOT it and begged for more. Some they were able to get right away, others they really needed to analyze. Check out Mr. Damraurer's other equations to see for yourself. Next, my 6th graders wrote their own and put them up on the Smartboard. Here are some of our best equations:
time*love = relationship
evil + annoying = little brother
school = learning-fun
hotwheels^5 = race car
black eye = fist + face
log cabin = lincoln logs^5
fish tank^2 = aquarium
disaster = money/economy
After class, I decided to email Mr. Damrauer the equations and guess what? He loved them and wants more.
I only did this with 2 classes, can't wait to see what my other 3 classes do. Will post more equations tomorrow, but I have to admit my favorite one by Mike V. in Section 2 was "Connections = Mrs. Hartman+Fun"

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Press Play @your library -Teen Tech Week 2009

Next week, March 8-14, is Teen Tech Week and we have some great events going down in the Media Center at Sparta Middle School. There will be classes on databases, digital books, audio books, videos and dvds, listening libraries, flip cameras, etc. It's all about advertising our media center's non-print resources.
Students can sign up for classes during their lunch periods.
Here is our list of classes:
Monday - Become a Google Guru
Tuesday- Garage Band
Wednesday- Flip for Flip Videos
Thursday- iMovie
Friday- Teen Screen Festival Viewing.
Also, after school on Wednesday is a Dance, Dance Revolution contest and Thursday is a Guitar Hero contest.
There will be door prizes for students who sign up for the classes and raffles such as graphic novels, tutoring minutes, google pens, and gift certificates to various establishments in Sparta.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Letters to Baghdad

A little before Christmas,I received an email from a mother whose son was stationed in Baghdad over the holidays. My students jumped at the idea of sending him cards and they especially wanted to let him know who won the election, what football teams were winning and how the economic crisis was effecting the world.
Last week, Lt. Robert Forrester emailed me thanking the students for the letters, but even better, he wanted to come in and talk to them about his experiences in Iraq.
Here is the slide show Lt. Forrester made and some pictures from today's event.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Be the Change in Darfur

The 6th graders in our middle school just completed a unit called, "Be the Change." They chose to help Darfur refugees in Sudan by raising money to purchase solar cookers. When the NJ Coalition for Darfur found out we were doing this, they were very interested because we were the first middle school to help. They wanted us to create curriculum and a presentation to show to other middle schools. The curriculum is not complete yet, but here is a slide show:

The students were amazing; whether it was figuring out the marketing plan for the bracelets, making posters and flyers, giving up their lunch to sell bracelets, dancing for bracelets, counting money, we never heard one complaint. They always wanted to do more. We have sold almost 1000 bracelets and made enough money to buy about 80 solar cookers.

Mr. Barkley Calkins, Director of the Nonprofit Sector Resource Institute, a funded arm of Seton Hall University’s Center for Public Service, is coming to speak to our 6th graders about public service and the situation in Darfur.

We cannot wait until warm weather, we are going to build an attempt to use solar cookers in the parking lot!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Military Madness

Let me start out by saying that my post today surprisingly, is not about technology. Its about the good ol'fashioned skills of letter writing and sewing!
The theme of this month has been "military madness." At the end of January I found out a student of mine earned first place in a holiday card contest for Veteran Hospitals sponsored by the NJ Elks called the "Kids Care Holiday Cards." Leslie A. embroidered felt and turned it into a holiday card using cardboard backing. It was the most beautiful holiday card I had ever seen. The message on the inside was even more beautiful than the outside if that is possible. It involved no technology at all, embroidery is a skill passed down by many generations in her family. However, the Elks reluctantly added a new category this year for cards designed on the computer (not even close in competition). The pictures I have here don't do it any justice. When we submitted it in November, I kept hoping to hear from the Elks, but surprisingly they didn't notify winners until after the holidays. We had forgotten all about it.
Winning this contest was a great honor for Leslie. Leslie struggles with academics and is very introverted. It was so nice to see a student be honored for something non-academic. Her parents told me this was the first award she has ever won. Sometimes as teachers we get so wrapped up in grades and homework and progress was nice to recognize Leslie for the great talent she possesses.

Another surprise was an email I received from Mr. Forrester. Before Christmas we adopted him as our soldier overseas and wrote holiday wishes to him. We could only hope that he received our letters before Christmas. We never expected to hear back from him. Then I received an email from him this week:

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

Caveats: NONE

Mrs. Hartman,

While I was over in Baghdad over the holidays, I received a HUGE bunch of letters from your students! Well, I made it back a few weeks ago, and wanted to see if maybe I’d be able to stop by personally to thank the class for the great gift! I actually took them around and showed a lot of people, and it made them all smile. I even have a slide show I put together for a Boy Scout troop I talked to with some pictures and stories and whatnot that I’d be more than happy to share with your class and/or anyone you would care to invite. Anyway, just an option, but I’d definitely like to stop in some day to say “thanks!” if possible!

Please let me know!"

Our soldier is coming in next Wednesday and the students can't be more excited. They have touched the lives of other people and made connections to people they would never have met. Our theme this marking period is "Be the Change" and my students have definitely achieved the objectives.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Where have I been?

So much has been going on that I had to take a time out from blogging, well on a personal level. My class blog, Hartmanhoolpa, has been going strong. Between our "Be the Change Unit" and the inauguration we have been crazy busy. Our anewbirthoffreedom google site is hopping with action. I was hesitant about doing the whole wiki/google site thing because I was dreading the teaching of wiki and all the responsibility that comes along with it, but luckily 3/4 of my students wikied last year, so life is good. The students are crazy about updating the google site. Not only are they researching and discussing the inauguration, but we are also tracking the first 40 days of his presidency and analyzing every move using google maps, calendar, and sites. During the actual inauguration they were live blogging with students from CIS 339 in the Bronx.
More importantly is the work we are doing to raise $ to buy solar cooker for Darfur refugees. I bookmarked a NJ Darfur site from the NJEA magazine (yes, I actually read it) in October and then this idea formed. We are actually now in contact with the organization and are in the process of setting up Skype chats with Darfur refugees. The hardest part of this is teaching empathy, if that is possible.

Also, I have been busy teaching my Google Guru classes and attending conferences. For the first time I co-presented with Patrick Higgins at the Classroom 2.0 Learning Institute. We had a great time.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

7 Things You Didn't Need to Know About Me

Lisa Thumann tagged me in the 7 Things you didn't need to know about me meme. Lisa told me I better post something new on my blog so here we go:
1. I have never skied or snowboarded.
2. I have never ridden a roller coaster that goes upside down.
3. The day I decided to transfer out of my TCNJ teaching program to go to the Fashion Institute of Technology, I got in a near fatal car accident that forced me to stay in central New Jersey, so in turn I decided to finish my teaching degree- and here I am.
4. I have lost 30 pounds over the past 3 years by doing Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred and following the Abs Diet for Women.
5. I have very sensitive ears.
6. I have seen Tiger Woods in his underwear - I was working at a private golf course where Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and Roy Jones, Jr. were golfing and staying. MJ was upset that Tiger overslept and carried him down the stairs in his underwear. I got to be their waitress for the day, which meant I was allowed to follow them in a golf cart and watch them golf for 6 hours while making sure there was enough "beverages."
7. My dad created Smart Balance. I started working at the company when I was 12 filing, sorting mail and sorting redeemed coupons back in the day before there were coupon clearinghouses. I'm not sure why I didn't decide to make it my career.

I going to tag:
Patrick Chodkiewicz
Brad Davis
Edwin Wargo