Denim Column

About The Author

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Alabama, United States
Educator and Lifelong Learner, Asst Principal at @cmslions, #NBCT, #EdD from @ucumberlands, @Google Educator Lvl 1 & 2, Google for Education Certified Trainer

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Don't Be a Knot on a Log


My friend, Julie D. Ramsay from eduflections, recently presented a post titled "It's Time to Let Go."  As I wrote my comment to this post, I felt it was important to share with my blog friends.  What are your thought? 

I often tell my students not to be “knots on a log.”  We discuss the fact that a knot on a log serves no purpose.  It never grows.  It does nothing.  Students should be responsible for their own learning.  I am simply a facilitator in their learning.  Many of my students have to adjust to this type of learning.  I am not discounting their great teachers from previous years.  I just tend to have a different teaching style.  When someone peeks in the door of my classroom, they will see organized chaos.  To them, it is probably disorganization.

However, within the walls of my classroom, my students are learning.  They are choosing topics to research to use in online creations.  They are reading and responding.  They are writing.  They are managing their own behavior as they move through activities.  They are free to ask questions and seek the answers.  Much of the day, my students are moving about the classroom, spread out in the floor, sitting around computers, or working in small groups.  The standard rule “Stay in your seat and raise your hand” just doesn’t work in our classroom.

Why do I choose to let go?  Children are expected to make wise choices.  However, we often limit their choices in the school setting.  Students should be allowed to grow-to become a flowering tree-rather than be a knot on a log.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Adding Tabs to Blogger

Have you noticed how some blogs have each topic of their blog organized neatly under tabs at the top of their pages? Would you like to know how to do that?  It is super easy!

1)Go to DESIGN at the top of your blog.
2)Select PAGES in the left column.
3)Choose NEW PAGE at the top of the screen.
4)Select BLANK PAGE.
5)Name your page, and add your information.
6)Click PUBLISH.
7)Change SHOW PAGES AS to the location where you want the tabs to show. I chose TOP TABS.
8)Click SAVE ARRANGEMENT on the right of your screen.

Viola! That's it! 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Social Media Manners

Your mom always taught you to mind your manners.  Do you think about your manners when you are involved in social media?  As I was preparing a presentation on "Extending Your Reach Using Social Media," I was researching etiquette in using social media.  Through my web searches, I have derived a list of the top 10 rules of social media etiquette that I think are most important.  What would you add?

1)Acknowledge when someone follows, comments, or retweets. A thank you goes a long way!
2)Keep your posts positive. 
3)Be careful clicking on links.  If it looks suspicious, it probably is.
4)Don’t be afraid to interact with businesses. I have had some really great opportunities and received some really great products for free by simply responding to a Tweet or blog post.
5)Give credit where credit is due.  We all have great things to share.  Be sure you acknowledge the source.
6)Complete your profiles and add a picture.  We like knowing there is a real person on the other end.
7)Don't put anything on the Internet that you wouldn't want your boss to read.  They do check!
8)Spellcheck everything before you send.
9)Post regularly but not too often.  We want to read what you share, but if it becomes too frequent, we often skip over your posts.
10)Don't follow someone just for the sake of building your number of followers.  You will find yourself overwhelmed if you are trying to follow to many people.  Follow those who share what is important to you.

Bonus:  Learn to use hashtags.  Hashtags are keywords or phrases that users search to find topics of interest.  They always begin with #.  {Click here} for an extensive list of educational hashtags.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Feeding Your Blog into Facebook and Twitter

My blog feeds directly into Facebook and Twitter. When I write a blog post, it automatically shows up in my Facebook and Twitter feeds. How did I do this? Follow these simple instructions.

 *This post was updated on January 20, 2013 with new directions.

1)Create a Facebook page. 
  • While logged out of Facebook, scroll to the very bottom of the page. You will see CREATE A PAGE. Click that.
  • Under category, select EDUCATION for educational blogs.
  • The company name will be the name of your blog.
  • Agree to the terms, and click GET STARTED.
  • Follow the onscreen instructions. If you have a personal Facebook account, you will use that. Otherwise, you will need to create a personal account.
  • Continue following the onscreen instructions for setting up your page.
2)Make sure you are logged into Facebook, and enter this into the address bar. Be sure to authorize the app.

3)Once the app is authorized, you should see this screen. 

4)Click ADD A NEW PUBLISHING PLAN.  Enter the name of your Facebook page, and click CREATE PUBLISHING PLAN.

5)Beside SOURCES, click ADD NEW.  Enter the URL of your blog, and click ADD SOURCE.  You will see the following edit screen.  Choose the options for your posting.  Click SAVE.

6)Beside TARGET, click ADD NEW.

7)Under CHOOSE TARGET, select the Facebook page you created.  Click SAVE CHANGES.

8)Be sure to slide the arrow to ON.

9)You can now begin promoting your Facebook page on your blog. By adding this code, you will be able to create a FIND US ON FACEBOOK gadget like you see on the left side of my page. Be sure to change the highlighted section to the URL of your Facebook page.
<div id="fb-root"></div>
<script>(function(d, s, id) {
  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];
  if (d.getElementById(id)) {return;}
  js = d.createElement(s); = id;
  js.src = "//";
  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);
}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script>

<div class="fb-like-box" data-href="" data-width="292" data-show-faces="true" data-stream="false" data-header="true"></div>

1)Sign up for a Twitter account. You will put in your blog name later, so use your real name here. If you already have a Twitter account, you will have to use a different email address. Click SIGN UP.
2)Change your username to your blog name. You are limited to 15 characters, so you may have to get creative. Click CREATE MY ACCOUNT. You will need to confirm your account before making any changes.
3)Go to the website
4)Sign up for an account.
5)Fill in the FEED NAME (blog name) and Blog URL. You do not have to change anything else on that screen.
6)Under step 2, click TWITTER. Make sure you are logged into your Twitter account.
7)Click the AUTHENTICATE TWITTER button. You will see your Twitter handle once it is authenticated.
8)Click ALL DONE. If everything is right, you will see CONGRATULATIONS. Your blog posts will now automatically feed into your Twitter.
9)You can now begin promoting your Twitter profile on your blog. By adding this code as a gadget, you can create a FIND US ON TWITTER button. Be sure to change the highlighted section to your Twitter URL and Twitter name.
<a href=""><img src="" alt="Follow TeachingCalling on Twitter"/></a>

I hope this helps! Be sure to leave your Facebook page and Twitter profiles as a comment, so I can follow you. I would appreciate you following me, too!

Rome Wasn't Built in a Day: Tips on Integrating Technology into Your Classroom

"Rome wasn't built in a day" and neither is your technology integrated classroom!

My classroom is a technology infused space for my 4th graders to grow and learn. Here are a few tips that will help you integrate technology into your classroom.

1)Embrace the technology movement. We live in a society that revolves around technology. This is obvious from the Christmas gifts bought and received this year. I purchased a Kindle, Wii, iPod, USB turntable, DVD player, etc. My students received iPads, Kindle Fires, Kindles, iPod Touches, and cell phones. (I know this from our interaction on Edmodo.) Since we are all surrounded with cool pieces of technology, embrace them and use them.

2)Start small. You have someone in your school who is a tech guru. Don't try to be that person overnight. Take small steps, and it will all fall into place. Begin by using a favorite website (i.e. VocabuarlySpellingCity) with your students during literacy centers. Browse Pete's PowerPoint Station for presentations that correlate with your lessons. Download interactive whiteboard lessons from Promethean Planet or Smart Exchange. Allow your students to create some sort of web based projects (i.e. ToonDoo, Voki, Glogster, etc.) over the course of several weeks. You will find ideas on my Livebinder, Integrating Technology into the Language Arts Classroom, that can be used in any curriculum area. 

3)Don't be afraid to ask. If you see a colleague doing something you would like to try in their classroom, ask questions. No one has ever refused to answer my questions. Email those people that are doing things you would like to try. Tweet your questions. 

4)Get involved in a PLN (Personal Learning Network). Create a Twitter account, and get involved in educational discussions. You will find more tools than you will ever use from teachers who have used them effectively in their classroom. Find those "Twitter Stars," follow them, and follow the ones they follow. My Twitter handle is @WhiteheadsClass. Create a Diigo account to bookmark your favorite sites. Join Edmodo. Not only is it great for classroom use, but it is a fantastic professional tool. You will network with teachers across the world where you can ask and answer questions, find new tools, and share ideas.

5)Use what you have. The biggest complaint that I hear about integrating technology into the classroom is that they don't have the tools or the time. Let me tell you, my classroom is severely lacking in tools, but I make do with what I have. I am lucky enough to have a Promethean ActivBoard mounted in my classroom, but other than that, I have 2 desktop computers-one is a 2005 model with 256 MB of RAM, and the other is a donated computer that is probably about that old (I'm not real sure about its specifics). I have a couple of Flip Cameras, a digital camera, a USB mic, and a webcam. That constitutes our tools. We don't have a scheduled time to go to the lab and work as a class. 10 minutes a week in the lab is max! But, we take advantage of every minute we have. Step foot into my classroom, and you will see students on the computers creating, researching, and learning. Every student in my classroom is given an opportunity to use the computers everyday. They may have to partner up, but they get their chance.  I scheduled 15 minute intervals during our literacy centers for the students to work of the students choose to work on their projects at home because they want to do it. (I don't require them to work at home because several of my students don't have Internet access at home.) Don't make excuses. Make a schedule

6)Share your students' creations. Everyone wants to be complimented on the hard work they do. Take time to email your students projects to their parents. Post them on your class website. Tweet them. Share them on Facebook

Thank you for taking time to read this post. I hope you have found something that has motivated your to integrate technology into your classroom. Please feel free to share your tips with my readers. We are all in this together!


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Pampered Chef Online Party

I am hosing an ONLINE Pampered Chef party, so you don't have to actually GO to a party! It's all done online :)

All orders can be placed online and shipped directly to you! The website is SAFE and SECURE and your card will not be charged until we finalize the show and submit all orders together on January 25th.

Here is how to order:
1- Visit
2- Click Shop Online and enter Cara (no last name is needed) as your host
3- Shop away!

Don't forget those upcoming birthdays, bridal showers, anniversaries, housewarming parties, etc! There is something for everyone in every price range and within your budget!

Spend $75 and receive a Mix n Scraper FREE!

Do you want to earn FREE Pampered Chef products? Host your own Pampered Chef Facebook show! Want free products AND a paycheck? Ask my sponsor, Kristi,  how! Feel free to contact her at or 205-242-2250 with any questions.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

My New Year's Resolution

The following Bible verses sum up my resolution for 2013.  I want to live every moment for God! 

Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in Him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute! Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

Philippians 4:4-9 (The Message)