Thursday, December 22, 2011

Electronic Eye - a column I write for VOYA

Four times a year I write a column on online and electronic resources for VOYA. This is a professional journal for school and public librarians. It stands for Voice of Youth Advocates. This is the latest one and reviews resources for electronic audiobooks.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


This is my last minute present from my son to my darling sister-in-law. It is a candle holder that has been decopagued with tissue paper that was stamped with snowflake designs. We put a silver cord at the top of the canning jar. We took pictures along the way for fun with the Blogger app.

I have this beautiful theory that it would look lovely hanging from a tree this summer. But maybe that's just because I am already dreaming about summer.

Happy Winter Solstice!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Gingerbread house in 7.5 graham crackers

This was today's "First Day of Winter Break" activity.  It is the world's easiest gingerbread house recipe and takes only seven and a half graham crackers and no milk carton in the middle. 

Since I had so much fun, I decided to write the plan down for you in graham crackers and royal icing. 

The 7.5 graham cracker gingerbread house plan.  Make the first floor with the crackers on the left.  Place the "top" graham cracker on the top of the floor.  Create the roof with the graham crackers on the right.  Decorate! Happy Holidays! 

1. Make royal icing. Here's a recipe from the Wilton Cake People! 

2. Put icing in a Ziploc bag. This helps keep the icing from drying out too quickly. Cut off one corner of the bag for piping.

3. Make the first floor by piping icing on the edges of the first floor pieces and creating a box with them. The inside piece gives the house extra strength.

4. Coat the bottom of the top piece with royal icing and lay on top of the first floor.

5. Affix the inside of the roof pieces to the top of the first floor in the center. Use them to brace the triangular side pieces.

6. Coat the bottom of the roof pieces with royal icing and lay on top. The roof pieces should touch the triangular side pieces as well as the internal

7. Pipe additional icing at the edges.

8. Decorate! Consider adding features like a dormer window or a massive chocolate cookie snowman.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu - surely on the short list for the Newbery?

When I was a kid, there was an animated movie version of "The Snow Queen."  A sliver of ice falls into the eye of a young boy named Kay and it works its way into his heart, turning it cold and making him fall prey to the beautiful Snow Queen.  His friend Gerda has to journey to save him, even though he doesn't feel as if he needs saving.

I still remember the dialogue as Gerda fights to get her friend back.  "Kay shall remain with me," says the Snow Queen in her icy and measured voice. 

This Hans Christian Andersen story is the backbone of Anne Ursu's new novel, called Breadcrumbs.  But what I like about this version more than anything is how real the characters of Hazel and Jack seem to be.  They have always been best friends but now they are in the fifth grade and Jack appears to be pulling away from Hazel.  This is something that Hazel cannot understand or accept, and she has had to accept much in the last year with her father leaving and re-marrying.  Hazel is completely misunderstood by her teachers and classmates and only has her mother and Jack to turn to. That, and her wild imagination.  This is something that she and Jack had always shared.

Hazel and Jack's other friend Tyler are the only ones who believe that something is wrong when Jack doesn't return to school after an incident where a piece of glass flies into his eye.  Hazel is the only one brave enough to recognize that she has to follow him into the woods to find him.  And she does so with a hastily-packed backpack filled with energy bars and a baseball signed by Joe Mauer.

Hazel, while brave, is also filled with self-doubt.  She often feels small, "like a splotch" or a little feathered dinosaur that has to go up against a T-Rex.  But she continues with her quest despite her fears and doubts.  I love that this book shows a courageous character who struggles and stumbles and then gets back up. 

The book has already won several accolades and I am very hopeful that it is at the front of the minds of Newbery committee members.  

Here's the awesome discussion guide from Anne Ursu's site.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Roanoke : Theories need evidence

The students in one of classes that I taught today presented their theories about what happened the "Lost Colony" of Roanoke. I have an activity that asks them to weigh twelve evidence cards against their theory in an effort to see whether or not there are enough facts to support their ideas. They put the evidence cards on a chart that they draw. I have this lesson available at my Teachers Pay Teachers store. 

I've done this a lot in the past but this year I decided to use my iPad and Flip cameras to record them presenting their findings. They did a great job with that. They chose to take several takes to get their ideas down straight.

In the process of weighing the evidence, a few discovered that they no longer liked their initial theory, which I think was a great outcome.

Here's a copy of the chart with all of the evidence cards placed on it.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Pedro's Journal Google Earth Lit Trip

I'm thrilled that my Pedro's Journal Google Earth Lit Trip is now available on  Jerome Berg, who runs the site, did a great job helping me to edit it and make it even more useful.  Check out the Vimeo that he made for it as well!

GLT Pedro's Journal from GoogleLitTrips on Vimeo.

This Google Earth lit trip can also be used as a part of my Pedro's Journal novel study which is available on my Teachers Pay Teachers store. This novel study features work on words for historical fiction and can help work on skills for students who have NWEA RIT scores in 191-200, 201-210, and 211-220.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

RIT scoring the novel study -- The Maze Runner by James Dashner

This is the first year that my school is using MAP data from NWEA.  We are all working really hard to understand and apply the data.  In addition to attempting to create a links page of free online games that target different RIT scores, I'm also looking at many of our literature circles and novel studies to see what RIT scores they target.  

This one for the Maze Runner by James Dashner works well for students with RIT scores 211-220 and 221-230.  The reason for this is because it helps students analyze character and make inferences.  It's available at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Dystopian Fiction Weekend!

So while the rest of everyone is enjoying Thanksgiving, I'm in the middle of a reading marathon of Dystopian / Post-Apocalypic / "The-future-is-not-so-bright" books for YAs and middle grade.  The reason?  My Scholastic Book Fair, which starts on Monday.  There must be an entire CASE just devoted to it and, while I thought that I was well-schooled in the genre, I was serious mistaken.

So take a look at my growing Shelfari widget on the top left.  I've got a few more to go before Monday. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

THANKSGIVING! World Harvest Festivals!

Looking for a different way to celebrate Thanksgiving with your class this year?  I'm promoting the notion that kids need to learn more about the world by sharing information about harvest festivals around the world. Here's my FREE research idea which can be downloaded on my Teachers Pay Teachers Web store!

It uses some ideas that I've been working on as a part of my THANKSGIVING: WHAT'S ON YOUR PLATE collection of ideas.  There's a SmartBoard Notebook file that is very interactive and contains some really cool original clip art and there's also a PowerPoint and paper version of it as well.  The paper version would make a great Thanksgiving themed literacy center!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Making Sense (and peace?) with NWEA MAP Data

Two weeks ago, my world was rocked by the fact that I had to make certain that everyone in my school of 518 5th and 6th graders took an online assessment called MAP.  And not only took one online assessment, but did so THREE TIMES!  MAP,  which stands for Measures of Academic Progress, has been created by the NWEA (Northwest Evaluation Association). 

Administering the MAP can be a logistical nightmare that involves signing each machine in to a separate student since the students cannot log themselves in.  But we worked through it in two weeks with two computer labs set up specifically for MAP. 

And now we are onto the data evaluation and use portion of MAP.  All of my kids in all of their classes have been assigned RIT scores and ranges.  Each range has goals and objectives that students should work towards.  The idea is that teachers can create groupings around the RIT scores so that they can differentiate instruction and tailor each student's learning to their strengths and deficits. 

So I decided to see how this would work by taking a novel study that almost all of my social studies teachers use in the fall.  

That novel is Pedro's Journal by Pam Conrad.  
This is a short journal form novel that imagines that Christopher Columbus had a ship's cabin boy named Pedro who could read and write and had many opinions about their first voyage together.  He was also given great access to the "Captain" as he calls Columbus.  

Firstly, let's talk Book Metrics: How do we measure whether a book will work for a reader?

My perception has been that this book is not all that difficult to read, as I look at the numbers, I may  be mistaken, however.  The LEXILE level is 1030L, the DRA level is 40 and the Accelerated Reader level is 5.8.  The high AR level and Lexile must have much to do with some of the vocabulary that helps set the historical setting: like bonaventure and mizzenmast.

Secondly, let's talk RIT Levels:  

The vocabulary list generated from this little book is huge!

As are the inferences that can be drawn about the conflict of the two main characters, Pedro and Columbus.

Here's what I think can be taught with Pedro's Journal.

RIT GOAL STRAND: Read for a variety of purposes.
·         Classify Text as Historical Fiction (201-210)
·         Identify Characteristics of Historical Fiction (211-220) 

RIT GOAL STRAND: Text Components
INFERENCES (191-200)
·         Infers a character's feelings in simple literary text       
INFERENCES (201-210)
·         Infers the conflict (term not used) in a literary text
·         Infers the conflict in a literary text
·         Analyzes to determine the problem presented
INFERENCES (211-220)
·         Infers the reason behind a character's actions
·         Evaluates character development in literary text
·         Infers the qualities (emotional and/or physical) of a character based on information found in literary texts
·         Infers the reason behind a character's feelings/emotions

And since both are on a journey, one can take kids on a great GOOGLE EARTH journey.

So I've created a novel study for my teachers to use that fits all of these objectives.  It is for sale at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  

A freebie that allows people to use Google Earth to understand this story can be downloaded at my Teachers Pay Teachers store as well.  

I really wish that I knew how other people were using and hopefully enjoying their MAP assessment data. As I was watching the students take their test, I could see how hard many were working.

I am also discovering that there are many school districts out there that are aggregating games based on RIT scores.  Here is one example: from the Belle Plaine in Minnesota.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Linky Party for Veterans Day -- Patriotic Lesson Plans

I will admit to not being the most patriotic teacher in the nation.  In fact, I'm the kind of person who stands in respectful silence while the pledge is being recited, after coming to the realization that it didn't feel good to pledge allegiance to just one country.  I spend time working with my staff on activities that build conflict resolution skills, hoping that small steps will work towards having a more peaceful world.  

But the patriotic holiday that I embrace wholeheartedly is Veterans Day.  I have deep respect for and want to honor the men and women who have chosen to give their time and sometimes their lives for our country.  

I think that my school does a great job celebrating Veterans Day each year.  We put up stars in our halls celebrating the veterans in our lives as one massive "Wall of Honor," and I help one teacher put on an extended 30 minute television broadcast on our closed circuit television system.  You can hear a pin drop in the school when our program goes live. I know that it makes the students who's parents are in the armed forces feel very supported by the fact that we honor their family.

I've put a few free activities on my Teachers Pay Teachers store but I wanted to hear from other teachers about what they do to celebrate this day and other patriotic events.  Teaching about our country and how to be a good citizen in this nation IS very important but it is also important to find a way to do it that feels comfortable to the teacher.  I think that this a very difficult balance to create. 

So I'm creating my FIRST EVER LINKY PARTY to see what other people are doing in their classrooms to achieve this balance. Join me by putting a link to your citizenship or patriotic holiday lesson plan below!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Red Ribbon Week is October 22nd through 30th!

Red Ribbon Week is the oldest drug prevention campaign in the country and it honors DEA Officer Enrique "Kiki" Camerena, who died while doing his job.  For more information, you can check

My school is planning to celebrate this week with age appropriate activities for our 5th and 6th graders.  We are definitely going to be tying red ribbons on our chain link fence.   Here are two activities that I'm planning on doing with my character education teaching partner.  BOTH ARE FREE on Teachers Pay Teachers.

  • Circles of Support -- This lesson plan allows students to reflect upon the people who "have their back" in times of trouble. It's not very long but should have a strong impact. 
  • What is Peer Pressure? Notebook Slides -- This lesson plan is on SmartBoard Notebook and lets students identify the ways that peer pressure affects their lives and how they can work together with their classmates to reduce the peer pressure that they feel.  

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Google Earth Landforms

My fifth grade teachers have all hit the geography lesson that deals with learning the names and differences of landforms.  This can actually be somewhat challenging.  Can you tell the difference between a mesa, a plateau, and a butte? And did you know that there IS a difference between a marsh and a swamp? 

So for the last few weeks, we've been having some fun in the library with this learning target.  The challenge for me is that I get to try to help my teachers teach the content within their own teaching style.  One of my teachers is very into collaborative learning and is very good at it.  He runs screaming from any project that is too boilerplate.  Another one of my teachers is great at getting an amazing product from her kids that they can feel proud of.  

But they all were interested in using Google Earth to enhance their lesson. 

So I've created three different lessons that deal with landforms on Google Earth as well as some tech coaching on how to use it.  The lessons are available on my store at Teachers Pay Teachers.  I had fun creating original icons for each landform to go along with the landform's definition, some of which are above. 

My favorite part was attempting to help 5th graders through the multi-step process of sharing their own placemark on Google Earth.  I already know that kids do NOT read multi-step help manual sheets.  So I tried something creative. I chopped the steps up into separate cards and joined them together on a binder ring.  This way, the students could focus on one step at a time and not get lost in the full process. 

The collaborative lesson was really fun!  I started by giving each team of five a different placemark in the world.  I tried to make them fun places that they may not have seen before like Angel Falls in South America or Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa.  They then had to placemark all of the landforms they saw around that location.  They were excited enough about their findings to actually go through the six step process that they needed to go through in order to share their placemark.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Popular Clone by M.E. Castle

I just reviewed this for School Library Journal and liked it.  It has a "Diary of a Wimpy Kid/Alex Rider/Mysterious Benedict Society" vibe, if you can imagine that.  Our hero is Fisher Bas, son of Nobel prize winning scientists and no slouch when it comes to science experimentation of his own.  He would much rather hang around his house an conduct his own research accompanied by his sidekick, FP (a "flying pig" that his mom created on a dare).  He can also always count on the sage advice of his sentient toaster who happens to speak and dream in an English accent.  All of the appliances happen to be intelligent in the Bas household, by the way. But the toaster is very special.

So Fisher has decided to achieve this dream of not having to attend school where everything is ruled by thugs that he calls "The Viking" by using his mother's new growth hormone to grow his own clone.  This experiment succeeds but what he does not expect is that his clone will have a mind of his own and also has the skills to become wildly popular at school!  Can he rein in his own clone? And why is "Two" so socially successful when Fisher does not have the same skills?

While trying to manage his clone, he's also having to deal with the dangerous Dr. X, who has his own nefarious plans for Fisher's mother's growth hormone. 
This is a very fun book.  I wish that the cover were a little different.  I feel that it might keep more mature readers from picking it off the shelves.  I'll do some experimentation myself at school this week.  My hypothesis is that the cover will make it a tough sell even to its target demographic of intelligent boys from ages 9 to 13.  I think that the fact that it has a lethal popcorn gun might help sell it, however. 

I especially liked page 161 where 'Two" attempts to quote Napoleon: "Don't stomp a slug unless you want goo on your shoes." Fisher One protests that Napoleon never said that and "Two" says: "But Wikipedia!

 To see more about my "love/hate" relationship with Wikipedia and to download my FREE SIM GAME on how it is created, click here.

And at least one other blogger has reviewed it.  Click the icon below to find out out what Donna and her 5th grade son have to say about it. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Voice Thread! COOL and FREE!

This is NOT the best application of VoiceThread ever but it is serving my need to create a book talk "video" for my third annual "Sakai Reads" all school read program.  Every year I manage to convince the teachers, students and parents to join me in a theme-based all school "read" based on the "One Book, One Community" model.   It's pretty amazing that they are willing to do this with me! This is our third year for it!  Each student in my school chooses a read and participates in a parent led book discussion.  We call this year's theme "Building Community" but it really has more to do with being able to place yourself in the shoes of another person.  What does it mean to have empathy for another?  I've selected fourteen books this year and they represent many different genres. I'm looking forward to having the students select their choices!

Since I can't book talk the whole lot to them as much as I'd love to, I made this VoiceThread last night by uploading the book covers and a few slides that I made with PowerPoint.

VoiceThread is at its best when you allow others to comment on your slides.  Commenters can make videos with their Web cams, they can record their voices,  they can type in a text comment and they can even draw on the screen.  

As you can see, it embeds nicely into a Web site.  My only frustration with it is that it takes some time for it to transition between slides and upload the new audio. 

Last year two of my teachers had their students create an original poetry VoiceThread where they shared one of their poems partnered with a slide of art.  It was really a cool and relatively easy project.  Almost all of the students were stunned about what their voice sounded like!

VoiceThread also has a program called VT Educator where teachers can get a little more storage space if they can prove that they work for a school.  VoiceThread also has very affordably priced subscriptions.  A teacher or a school might choose to purchase a subscription because it allows users to create their own profiles which makes commenting much easier and also sensible. 

Also, Scipi from "Go Figure!" has encouraged me with a TOP TEN award from TeachingBlog Addict! Cool!

Top 10 TBA

Sunday, September 25, 2011


WikiGame: This could become very addictive!!! This is a game where you race around Wikipedia trying to navigate from one article to another through the fewest clicks.  It's like "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon."  I just won with Eight clicks from Hilary Clinton to Frogs. 

My own, much more basic "Wikipedia the Game" is an attempt to help kids become more mindful and reflective about using Wikipedia. It is available as a FREE DOWNLOAD at my Teachers Pay Teachers store. It's also one of the activities in my "Info Bootcamp" unit. It simulates the element of chance in creating an article that can be edited and "improved" by anyone out there.  It's only available for SmartBoard Notebook right now.  It's best run as a full class activity.  Play begins with a roll of a die.  For each side of the die, a student has to do one of six things: either add their own fact, reveal a fact from a pile of useful information, reveal a fact from a pile of opinion facts, REMOVE something, or allow the hacker to add something by rolling the "hacker die."  Game play can go on indefinitely but I usually limit the game to less than ten minutes.  That is more than enough time to get my point across that there is some chance in how good a Wikipedia article is. 

I've created three "game board" slides that on three subjects that my students are very familiar with: SpongeBob, pizza, and the Sasquatch. 

What I've learned from playing this with several classes now is that my fifth grade students are more engaged with my ACTUAL lesson, which is to point out some ways that they can begin to distinguish whether a Wikipedia article has merit.   Some of these points include looking at the amount of references and notes at the end of the article, noticing whether the page has had a rating, and looking for other signs that the article needs to be "cleaned up."

There's also a Wikipedia article "Flow Chart" so that kids can see that there are many hands involved in the process.

I also make the point that sometimes teachers will insist that students not use Wikipedia and that my goal as a librarian is to make them aware of other sources that have greater credibility with their teachers.

Some of the things that I've discovered about fifth graders while playing the game is that they get the difference between opinion and fact.  They noticed that sometimes the best facts can get removed from a Wikipedia article, making it less strong.

Since I chose to use the Sasquatch legend as one of my game boards, I have the opportunity to talk about articles that have to be protected because they are controversial.   The Sasquatch article was once a big battle ground between the cryptid believers and the non-believers.  The Big Foot followers kept writing the article as if he truly existed and they had incontrovertible proof. Wikipedia finally had to come down on the side of those who are still skeptical and have blocked editing on this article. 

Finally, I've come across Wikipedia's actual FAQ for Schools!  This is what Wikipedia has to say about credibility:

It is possible for a given Wikipedia article to be biased, outdated, or factually incorrect. This is true of any resource. One should always double-check the accuracy of important facts, regardless of the source. In general, popular Wikipedia articles are more accurate than ones that receive little traffic, because they are read more often and therefore any errors are corrected in a more timely fashion. Wikipedia articles may also suffer from issues such as Western bias, but hopefully this will also improve with time
I'm in agreement with them. My school librarian's point that I try to make is that taking any resource at face value leads to sloppy scholarship at best.  

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Big Nate! I'm a BIG FAN!

I love any book that I can recommend to a reluctant boy reader and they actually might walk out of my library with it.  Big Nate works it well and I'm glad to say that he has three books out now and more are on the way from Lincoln Peirce.  I liked this Book Trailer for it. 

Why like Nate? He isn't afraid to make up some hilarious nicknames for his teachers, he will take a speed eating dare with whatever vegetables are surplused in the cafetorium, and has a "do-gooder" arch nemesis.  In other words, he's very relatable and funny.

So I created a Lit Guide for it in the hopes that one of my teachers would use it with her small group of reluctant boy readers who like graphic novels like the Amulet series.  It's for sale at my Teachers Pay Teacher's store.  I created a card game to go with it.  The object of the game is to collect DETENTIONS.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dark Life! Fabulous Sci-Fi by Kat Falls

I'm always looking for great sci-fi and I fell in love with this one last year.

It's Dark Life by Kat Falls.  What I liked the most about it was there aren't that many books out there where people attempt to colonize the seabed.  I thought that Kat Falls did a great job coming up with all the ways it could happen.  Just when the reader became skeptical about the science, she came up with a reasonably plausible explanation. Although the science teachers at my school did not buy the idea of the liquigen capsule taking care of the air pressure issue. 

We ran some science class based book discussion groups last year and this one was the hit of the series.  I wrote some questions for these parent-led discussion groups and have posted them as a free download at my store at Teachers Pay Teachers.  Eleven meaty questions for free!

I've got the sequel, Rip Tide, on my list of reads.  I'm wondering where she can go from here because I felt like she already had to reveal much of the surprise of living under the sea.  

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Info Bootcamp 2011 -- YEAR FOUR of molding FIFTH GRADE MINDS!

Every year I get the ability to spend the entire day with one 5th grade class.  The teacher doesn't set a goal... it's all up to me what I want to teach them.  Since I know that this is the last time that any librarian is going to get this amount of access to their minds, I feel a great responsibility to really make a lasting impact.

Here's a collection of three lessons that I've been working on for this year's fifth graders.   It is available as SmartBoard slides for sale for $5.00 on Teachers Pay Teachers.   I'm including two lessons that I taught last year, information privacy and the World Wide Web and I'm adding a new one called "The Wikipedia Game."

I really like "The Wikipedia Game."  It is my attempt to show kids the element of chance in how credible a Wikipedia article is.  For each roll of the dice, there is a different outcome to the article, including a "hacker" adding a one-word tribute to themselves.  I already played it with two of my ten fifth grades and I think that it was a highlight of the day.  Here's a screen shot of the actual game.
Wikipedia GAME screenshot

Of course since I had to come up with something that most fifth graders felt very confident about and was still very fun, I chose SpongeBob SquarePants.  This was a MUCH better choice than Parkour or Justin Bieber, I'll tell you.

Part two of INFO BOOTCAMP features my favorite fake Web sites including my beloved Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus, which I am so sad to say will not be showing up in my backyard tree at any point in the near future.  If you don't know about this sad creature that is not yet on the endangered species list but SHOULD, please check out his advocacy page here:

I do recognize that I am a very lucky librarian in that I even get to run bootcamp every year.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Study Island -- Great resource, BIG learning curve

Okay, so I've spent so much time on helping my teachers implement Study Island over the last two weeks of school that my four-year-old now asks what road we take to get to Study Island.  Obviously, I need to come up for air. 

If I were go back two weeks and do some things differently, I would...

-- Recognize that the pre-tests for each section are actually NOT diagnostic.  I always thought that pre-tests were diagnostic.
-- Find more time for teachers to play games and commit to the student's joy in using the resource, which I don't think that they are doing at this time.
-- Not expect that the huge amounts of reports that they have available will allow me to do whatever I want. 

Despite the rough and rocky start for my teachers, I really think that it is a great resource with good live chat support. 

I'm actually putting most of my "library bootcamp" curriculum on it.  

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Google Earth -- Great Classroom Tool -- Make some PLACEMARKS today!

How to use Google Earth in the Classroom

Christopher Columbus set off
from the Port City of Palos in Spain
and your students can follow his
journey in this lesson that will help
you get used to using placemarks.
I love, love, love using Google Earth with students and I want to encourage YOU to do the same.  It's a lot easier and more manageable than you might think to make your own .kmz placemark file or to find one that has already been created.  One of my favorite lessons is available for free from my Web store at

These are part of the Placemarks that are included in my following the voyage of Christopher Columbus curriculum unit. To download FOR FREE, please go to my Web store!

Looking for KMZ Files.  A .kmz file is a downloadable file that contains place marks for Google Earth.  While they are easy to create, you can also find already created ones online.  Use the terms .kmz or "google earth" along with the subject you would like to find in a search engine. 

Other places to check: – A lot of teachers are helping to make lit trips for the books that they teach.  I did see that Watsons Go to Birmingham has one as well as My Brother Sam is Dead.

Working with KMZ files.  If you click on a kmz file, Google Earth should automatically load.  The placemarks will be located in the PLACES window on the left side of the screen.  It will be located in the TEMPORARY PLACES folder.  You will need to remember to use the plus sign to reveal the information contained in a folder.  You navigate to the places on the Earth by clicking on the place marks in the folder.

If you close Google Earth, you will be asked if you want to save the place marks that are in temporary places to your MY PLACES folder, which is also in the PLACES window.

Note, you can upload a kmz file to a Web page or a Moodle so that students can use them individually on a computer.


First, you will want to make a new folder in your MY PLACES folder.  Right click on my places and choose "Add a new folder" from the drop down menu.  You will eventually drag all of your place marks into this folder. 

Then use the search box which is at the top left of the screen to find a location that you want to put a place mark on.   Use the navigation tools at the top of the screen to zero in on the exact location that you want to put a placemark on. 

Then, you need to click on the yellow PLACEMARK ICON which is at the top of your globe’s screen.   A placemark will be attached to the globe at the center of your screen and a window will pop open that will allow you to name your placemark and add a DESCRIPTION of the location.  This description will be seen in a white “call out” box on the screen. 

Note also that your placemark has been put into your MY PLACES folder in the places section on the left.  You will have to drag it into your folder at some point. 

It’s important to note that you can only move the placemark around while the window is open.  Once you click the OK button, the placemark is locked down and the only way to fix it is to go over to the Places window and right click on the placemark.  This will allow you to select “Properties” from the drop down menu which will bring the window back up again.


Right click on the folder of Placemarks and select “Save Place As”.  This will bring up a dialog box that will allow you to save your placemark file in a location on your computer. 
How to add a photo or a video in the little “call out” window. 

This involves knowing the HTML code to embed a picture:

<IMG SRC=”put-the-image-location-here.gif”>

You can find the image location by right-clicking on an image and selecting “properties.

Or you can put any HTML code for embedding videos in as well.

My reason for blogging...

I work in an amazing school library that serves students in 5th and 6th grade but increasingly my job is also taken up with helping my teachers learn how to use and manage their technology.  A lot of this is "tech coaching" in the ten minutes that we have during their prep but some of it actually turns into stuff that I write out for them to refer to later.  

In addition to that, I also write reviews about Electronic resources.  I thought that I'd add links to those as well. 

And I'm also starting to sell some of my better curriculum activities and units on Teachers Pay Teachers.  Please consider visiting my store. Most stuff is FREE right now!