Posted by Jason Faminoff on Thursday, May 8th, 2014.

PBS Gives Parents More Control Over Kids' Screens With New App



Screentime is something just about all modern parents struggle with. How much is too much? Is an app collecting personal information? Is my child actually learning?

A new app from PBS KIDS aims to give parents better tools for controlling what their kids are doing online-at least on the PBS KIDS' site-and eventually on PBS KIDS mobile applications too. The PBS KIDS Super Vision app lets parents enter a code from the website into their phones, and then track kids activity on the site in real time. You can see how long they've been watching videos, which shows they watch, what games they play and more. It also tells parents what the purpose of the games or shows are-for example one might be designed to build interest in science-and suggests activities families can do together afterwards to reinforce those goals. One of the best features, however, is a way to shut the site down altogether, remotely.

Parents can set a play timer that will give their kids either a set amount of time, or a hard stop time to get off the computer. When that time comes, the app or video stops and kids are presented with a message prompting them that it's time for something else-it might note that it's bed time, for example. Best of all, it means you can monitor what your kids are up to remotely-because the app is token based, you don't have to be on the same network or even nearby to control it.

PBS KIDS has an amazing selection of apps and shows for children, but this is a great tool for parents. In the demo given to WIRED, the monitoring function was really well done, and the remote shut down feature was something truly novel. We're looking forward to trying this one out. The app is free.

Posted by Jason Faminoff on Tuesday, Apr 15th, 2014.
He is only five-years-old! Let's give kids some props: children today are smart when it comes to tech. Just watch the following story: http://www.chron.com/news/media/Xbox-security-flaw-exposed-by-five-year-old-boy-119958.php

Here at Oppe your child uses computers and iPads in the classroom everyday. It is common to see them reading on apps like RAZ-Kids or doing math on Reflex Math. This is real world stuff. We use tech to prepare children for future success.
Posted by Jason Faminoff on Thursday, Apr 3rd, 2014.

Originally Posted by Jeff Liwag on Thursday, Apr 19th, 2012.

TEAlogo.png STAARlogo.png It's that time of the year again. Next week, schoolchildren all over the state of Texas will take a test. This year, though, instead of the TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills), they will take the STAAR (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness). The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has resources  on their site  for parents and students to be familiar with -- and prepare for -- this new high-stakes test. Also, GISD's Instructional Technologist Mariana Mueller set up  this page  which is chock-full of resources as well as  another page  with all of GISD's Instructional Technology Resources.

Posted by Jason Faminoff on Thursday, Apr 3rd, 2014.

Science is awesome. It is a great way to learn about things, like balancing eggs. As we are approaching Eastertime, here is a great experiment your can try at home: http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/activities/funscience/balancing-eggsperiment/ 

I hope you have lots of fun!

Posted by Jason Faminoff on Wednesday, Mar 26th, 2014.

Being a parent today in our technological world is tough.  You want to protect your kids from things like cyberbullying and other dangers that are out there.  Where do you start?  What do you need to do?

As a Dad I must admit that the idea of internet security seems intimidating.  The good news is that you do not have be a genius to help your kids out.  There are some great tools available to help you learn how to protect your kids online like from Microsoft and Club Tuki. 

  The first tool is Microsoft's Family Safety & Security Center-just click here to be taken directly to Microsoft's website.  I like this website because Microsoft gives you some ideas of how to help your children surf the internet safely. It even includes a step-by-step guide to help set up parental controls on your family computer.  It is worth the read. 

Another great tool I recommend is the Club Tuki.    Click here to download the Club Tuki browser directly.

This browser provides free parental control software, internet safety videos, 32-page Internet Safety Guide, and most importantly, a free Shrek browser for kids of which combines the most fun and safest content on the web for kids and access to Clubtuki.com.

There are many other tools available to help protect your kids online.  What are some of the tools you use?  What do these tools do and how do they work? 

Posted by Jason Faminoff on Thursday, Mar 20th, 2014.

Did you know that your early elementary students may be smarter than college students?  This may suprise you, but new research suggests it is true! And it may explain why my Kindergarten student frequently beats me on the Wii.  Please enjoy this interesting article about the awesomeness of early elementary students.

File photo of preschool children in a classroom. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta) - A recent study revealed that preschool-age children are better at figuring out how to use technological gadgets than college students.

CBS News is reporting that researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, tasked 106 children between the ages of 4 and 5 and 170 college students with figuring out how to use a gadget with which they had no prior experience.

The gadget worked by placing different clay shapes in special boxes to determine which combination would cause a box to light up and play music .

Ultimately, the younger children were reportedly much faster at figuring out the correct combination, CBS News learned.

"The kids got it. They figured out that the machine might work in this unusual way and so that you should put both blocks on together," senior study author Alison Gopnik was quoted as saying in a column last week for The Wall Street Journal. "But the best and brightest [college] students acted as if the machine would always follow the common and obvious rule, even when we showed them that it might work differently."

Researchers involved in the study said the results raised questions regarding "what makes children more flexible learners."

"[A]re they just free from the preconceptions that adults have, or are they fundamentally more flexible or exploratory in how they see the world?" Christopher Lucas, study co-author and a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, said in a press release obtained by CBS News.

Experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta generally recommend, however, that children step away from their gadgets and engage in more physical activity .

"Children and adolescents should do 60 minutes … or more of physical activity each day," the CDC website notes. "This may sound like a lot, but don't worry! Your child may already be meeting the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans."

The site continued: "Encourage your child to participate in activities that are age-appropriate, enjoyable and offer variety!"

The study will be published this May in the journal Cognition.

Posted by Jeff Liwag on Thursday, Apr 18th, 2013.

You know about the show. How about their site? "Between the Lions" is one of my most favorite shows that I shared with my own kids. I love reading, and this show absolutely helped my own kids develop a love for (and of) reading along with "Reading Rainbow" and other educational shows.They have a site (free -- it's by PBS) that is wonderful and chock-full of material and resources that teachers and parents can share with their kids. It has videos for learning early literacy, phonics, and phonemic awareness as well as animated videos of stories old and new. Games are available, if that's your thing too.
Check it out at




Special shout-out to the awesome Mrs. Dana Ashbacher of Crenshaw for sharing this site with me!

Posted by Jeff Liwag on Thursday, Feb 21st, 2013.

Not many people know about this, but Study Island has a lot more to offer than just STAAR practice! We have had access to flash cards and animated videos of lessons, but now we can access the Teacher Toolkit. There are lesson plans, animations, "virtual lab," teacher videos, educational videos, project-based learning, and even Khan Academy videos for Math, Reading, Science, and Social Studies.


Posted by Jeff Liwag on Friday, Jan 25th, 2013.

" Cool Tools for Schools " is a veritable treasure trove, a plethora of plenty, a panoply of instructional technology. It is a wiki dedicated to collecting the best web tools for use in the classroom -- neatly organized so you will not be overwhelmed. Each category is organized in tables with a brief description for each tool.

Check it out at cooltoolsforschools.wikispaces.com

cooltools.png coolaboration.png

Special shout-out to ECU's Tech Guy Patrick Burke !

Posted by Jeff Liwag on Wednesday, Dec 5th, 2012.

Kerpoof is an online multimedia creation site from Disney. On Kerpoof, teachers and students can create animated movies, cartoons, storyboards, greeting cards, and more. Not only is it feature-rich, it also has tons of teacher resources and ideas. An account is not required to use it, but users will benefit more with one -- all for the low price of free. Check it out at kerpoof.com


Here are two videos, the first one a tutorial by a teacher, and the second one a demonstration by Kerpoof:

Posted by Jeff Liwag on Tuesday, Oct 30th, 2012.

Have you ever needed a photo for your paper or presentation but were afraid of running into copyright issues? Here are three great sites that might help:

Tech4Learning's Pics4Learning is a simple and straight-forward site. Self-billed as a "safe, free image library for education. Teachers can use the copyright-friendly photos and images for classrooms, multimedia projects, web sites, videos, portfolios, or any other project in an educational setting." To learn more, go to www.pics4learning.com


Fotopedia is a website and an iOS app that is slick, fancy, and gorgeous. When you go to the site, you will be greeted with a "reminder" that features their app on an iPad and an iPhone with a "Download" link. When you click on the link, it will take you to the iTunes App Store. When you press the Right direction key on your keyboard, it will take you to their other features such as "Retina Display" support for Apple products, the Fotopedia magazine, their service on Flipboard (a mobile magazine reader), and finally, a search box. This is where you type your search term. Try it at www.fotopedia.com


Finally, there's the unfortunately-named morgueFile. Don't worry, it's not a collection of morbid photos from a morgue. They explain that a morgue file is "popular in the newspaper business" and is merely "a place to keep post production materials for use for reference." This site offers free high-resolution photos for public use. To learn more, go to www.morguefile.com


Posted by Jeff Liwag on Friday, Oct 12th, 2012.

Educreations is an interactive whiteboard app for the Web and the iPad. You can use your computer or an iPad to record a lesson, annotate a photo or PDF document, or write a simple text message. With this app, you can have your own Khan Academy! Somebody said, "Educreations is like today's 'Etch-a-Sketch!'" But I disagree. You can not only draw or write using Educreations, but you can also record your voice as you demonstrate a lesson or teach a concept, insert a photo or PDF and record your annotation, and upload the resulting video to the Educreations website and share it with your students, parents, and the world!

Here's a brief video by iTutor demostrating the app and explaining how to use it:

To learn more, go to their site at www.educreations.com

Posted by Jeff Liwag on Thursday, May 17th, 2012.
Posted by Jeff Liwag on Tuesday, May 15th, 2012.

We set up a page to access tips and resources on how you and your kids can stay safe online. Please go to the "Online Safety" page under "Parent Resources" on the navigation pane on the left or click here .

Posted by Jeff Liwag on Tuesday, May 8th, 2012.

"Discovery Education is Proud to Salute Your Important Work"

"Each day in classrooms across the nation America's teachers give the gift of education.  With passion, dedication and sacrifice they deliver to students a wealth of presents whose value is expansive and enduring."

Click here for Adam and Jamie's message.

Retrieved from http://www.discoveryeducation.com/teacherweek/2012.cfm

Posted by Jeff Liwag on Monday, Apr 30th, 2012.

The internet, the last bastion of true freedom, independence, and self-expression, is truly one of the most important inventions in history. However, just like the real world, it can be a dangerous place. It is critical that we all learn how to protect ourselves and our children from malevolent elements lurking on the web. The government has set up " On Guard Online " to help in this regard. They have information and resources on avoiding scams, securing your computer, mobile apps, and more for almost everybody. Click on the link above or the image below to go to the site:


Posted by Jeff Liwag on Monday, Apr 30th, 2012.

The Texas Wildlife Association (TWA) offers free distance learning programs. Here are the details:


TWA Distance Learning Programs are…


  • · Interactive
  • · TEKS aligned
  • · 45 minutes long (program times: 9:00 am, 10:30 am, 12:45 pm, 2:00 pm)
  • · Reinforced with post materials
  • · Broadcasted via videoconference


Ø  May 1 - Urban Animal Encounters: Urban Occupants!

Ø  May 8 - ASI: Animal Skull Investigation

Ø  May 17 - BATS: LIVE on the BIG Screen!

Ø  May 22 - Urban Animal Encounters: Skunks and Armadillos!


Viewing Distance Learning Programs:

 - Visit Connect2Texas ( www.connect2texas.net )to view our program calendar ( please choose Texas Wildlife Association in the dropdown menu ), class descriptions, and to register.

 - Sites must create a Connect2Texas profile, which includes basic questions about your school as well as connection information (please consult with your school/district technical contact).

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

Kassi Scheffer
Texas Wildlife Association - Education Program Specialist

(210) 826-2904 ext. 113
(800) TEX-WILD


Texas Brigades - Program Coordinator
(210) 556-1391


Posted by Jeff Liwag on Thursday, Apr 19th, 2012.

TEAlogo.png STAARlogo.png It's that time of the year again. Next week, schoolchildren all over the state of Texas will take a test. This year, though, instead of the TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills), they will take the STAAR (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness). The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has resources on their site for parents and students to be familiar with -- and prepare for -- this new high-stakes test. Also, GISD's Instructional Technologist Mariana Mueller set up this page which is chock-full of resources as well as another page with all of GISD's Instructional Technology Resources.

Posted by Jeff Liwag on Wednesday, Apr 18th, 2012.

Is learning a new language on your bucket list? Perhaps you have always wanted to become more worldly and sophisticated? How about impressing your friends with your German? Or maybe order Italian speaking Italian? Here comes the BBC with Languages, where you can do one or all of these for free!


BBC languages

Posted by Jeff Liwag on Wednesday, Apr 18th, 2012.


Take your class to the Scandinavia Wildlife Park in Denmark, and watch Siku - LIVE!



See all the fish and other marine life in a 142,000 gallon, three-story high Aquarium of the Pacific off the coast of Catalina Island in Long Beach, California!



Look at moon jellies in the Vancouver Aquarium!


Posted by Jeff Liwag on Tuesday, Apr 17th, 2012.

The iTunes App Store serves up almost a million apps (if not more than by the time you read this), and thousands of those can be used in educational settings. However, searching for apps that you can use in your classroom is harder than finding a semicolon in a program's source code. Enter the Texas Computer Education Association, or TCEA. They maintain a list of apps they have tested and recommend for use in the classroom in a Google Docs spreadsheet.

Edudemic, an instructional technology blog, took this document and listed interactive books to give you an idea of how exhaustive TCEA's list. You may read it at http://edudemic.com/2012/02/1000-apps.

Posted by Jeff Liwag on Tuesday, Apr 17th, 2012.

Programming project comes to primary schools

Volunteers have kicked off a project to set up after school clubs that teach young children how to programme computers.

Called Code Clubs , the sessions will aim to instil the basics of computer programming into children aged 10-11.

The clubs will be built around practical hands-on tasks that will include children making games and eventually controlling robots.

It aims to have 25% of the UK's primary schools running a Code Club by 2014.

(Read the rest of the article here .)

Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-17740143

Visit Code Club's site: http://www.codeclub.org.uk

Posted by Jeff Liwag on Wednesday, Apr 11th, 2012.

Square Off is a space-themed game on BrainPop for practicing and understanding perimeter and area. Developed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the object of the game is to surround spaceships in a rectangle to make them yours. Check it out at brainpop.com/games/squareoff

Other great Math games can be found on the NCTM website at calculationnation.nctm.org/Games


Posted by Jeff Liwag on Monday, Apr 2nd, 2012.

Jenny Eather, the creator of " A Maths Dictionary for Kids " has outdone herself. She created another section on her site for teachers, and this one is a much-needed resource. She put together " Maths Charts ," a site where you can print all sorts of charts you would need for teaching and learning mathematical concepts. Check it out at  www.amathsdictionaryforkids.com/mathsCharts.html

math charts for printing

Math dictionary for kids

Posted by Jeff Liwag on Monday, Apr 2nd, 2012.

ChronoZoom (Beta) is an astounding timeline web app from Microsoft Research. It is a stunning interactive timeline of the 13.7 billion year history of the cosmos up to modern times. You can move the slider up top, zoom in and out, and learn a tremendous amount of knowledge about the known universe. Check it out at  chronozoomproject.org

ChronoZoom timeline from Microsoft Research

Posted by Jeff Liwag on Thursday, Mar 29th, 2012.

Kathy Schrock is an Instructional Technology superstar. She works for Discovery Education Network now, but she still maintains her blogs pretty regularly. I want to highlight a terrific resource on one of her blogs -- Bloom's Taxonomy and apps on various platforms :

Bloomin' Web

Bloomin' iPad

Bloomin' GoogleBloomin' Android

Posted by Jeff Liwag on Friday, Mar 23rd, 2012.

The BBC has a fantastic site for education -- http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/, one page of which is chock-full of science clips: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/scienceclips/index_flash.shtml

BBC Science

Posted by Jeff Liwag on Thursday, Mar 22nd, 2012.

Triptico is a desktop app that teachers and students can use with an interactive whiteboard (SMART® Board, Promethean®, StarBoard®) or any computer with Adobe Air installed. It contains a plethora of handy classroom tools that are easy and attractive.




Get it from http://www.triptico.co.uk/

Posted by Jeff Liwag on Wednesday, Mar 21st, 2012.

Numberlines - an interactive number line web app for interactive whiteboards, touchscreen devices, or any computer:

Click on the image or go to: http://www.amblesideprimary.com/ambleweb/mentalmaths/numberlines.html

Posted by Jeff Liwag on Tuesday, Mar 6th, 2012.

Here's a great cartoon-based site for teachers, students, and parents for practicing math skills: http://www.mad4maths.com/

Mad for Math

Posted by Jeff Liwag on Wednesday, Feb 22nd, 2012.

Our teachers and students use a lot of web applications and programs to enhance and reinforce learning as well as for professional development. It's all great but keeping track of usernames and passwords can be a nightmare! THANK YOU, OPPE PTO for helping purchase BrainPOP, ReflexMath, and More Starfall!

These sites are all accessible from anywhere you have an internet-connected computer (and some even work on mobile devices). Here's a list of the different sites and/or programs, with the corresponding login credential format:

Study Island
URL: www.studyisland.com  
Teacher Username: firstlast (may vary if teacher changed default)
Teacher Password: (varies)
Student Username: lunchnumber.oppe (e.g., 66666.oppe) 
Password: 99999

URL: www-k6.thinkcentral.com
Teacher Username: firstlast
Teacher Password: (varies)
Student Username: lunchnumber
Student Password: 99999

BrainPOP / BrainPOP Jr. / BrainPOP EspaƱol
URL: www.brainpop.com  
URL: www.brainpopjr.com  
URL: esp.brainpop.com  
Username: oppe12
Password: (ask Jeff)

URL: www.reflexmath.com
Teacher Username: (varies as teacher set up their own accounts)
Teacher Password: (varies)
Students: they log in by typing their teacher's Username, and clicking on their class name
Student Password: 99999

Accelerated Reader
URL: hosted78.renlearn.com/234245
Teacher Username: firstinitiallast
Teacher Password: (ask Jeff)
Students: lunchnumber
Student Password: 999

Learning.com / Easy Tech
URL: www.learning.com
Teacher Username: firstlast
Teacher Password: (varies)
Student Username: lunchnumber
Student Password: 9999

More Starfall
URL: www.learning.com
Teacher Username: jeff_liwag@gisd.org (one login account per school)
Teacher Password: (ask Jeff)
Student Username: (click on teacher's name then student avatar)
Student Password: (color, shape, number chosen by class)

URL: galvestonisd.edmodo.com
Teacher Username: GISD Email address
Teacher Password: (self-selected)

URL:  https://secure.istation.com/Account/LogOn?domain=oppees.galveston.tx&ReturnUrl=&partner=TX

Teacher Username: refer to email
Teacher Password: (if forgotten, click "Forgot your password?") 
Student Username: firstnamelastinitial (unless name is common)
Student Password: (randomly-generated six-digit number, refer to login card)

Think Through Math
URL: lms.ttmtexas.com
Teacher Username: refer to email sent by Istation
Teacher Password: (refer to email sent by Think Through Math. If forgotten, click "Forgot your password?")
Student Username:g+lunchnumber+g (e.g., g12345g) or g+lunchnumber - please refer to the login cards
Student Password: 9999

Project Share / Epsilen
URL:  projectsharetexas.org

Teacher Username: GISD email
Teacher Password: (varies) 

URL: teachscape.com

Teacher Username:  firstlast
Teacher Password: (varies) 

Gaggle-student email and collaboration
URL: www.gaggle.net

Teacher Username: firstlast
Teacher Password: (varies)
Student Username: firstlast
Student Password: lunchnumber



In the interest of creating a place for collecting this information, I will try to keep this post sticky and updated as the need arises. Also, you may download guides and How-To's below:

Posted by Jeff Liwag on Thursday, Feb 16th, 2012.

The Greta Oppe app for Android is out! Go to the Android Market and search for "Greta Oppe" and stay updated with the latest events and photos from the Oppe Campus of Coastal Studies.

Note: The app is free, but the app builder includes a third-party advertisement on the bottom of the app. Please be aware that these ads and their sponsors do not reflect the views of and are not approved by Oppe Elementary and its employees, and that proceeds from ad-generated sales do not benefit Oppe or any of its employees either.

Posted by Jeff Liwag on Wednesday, Feb 15th, 2012.
Posted by Jeff Liwag on Monday, Feb 13th, 2012.

Here are two fantastic sites (you can access and use them both on mobile devices) for easy differentiating:

The Differentiator is a site for teachers to differentiate content and activities for a given objective. You start out by picking a verb from Bloom's Taxonomy, then the content, resources, end product, and groups. It's as easy as clicking!

Respondo is another site put together by the same person. This site aims to help the teacher to come up with "creative literature response questions."

All credit goes to  ian@byrdseed.com

Posted by Jeff Liwag on Monday, Feb 13th, 2012.