Friday, December 20, 2013

3rd Grade - Christmas 12/2013 - Technology & You

3rd graders, please answer these 2 questions over the Christmas Vacation....

(click "Read More" to see the questions)

4th Grade - Christmas 12/2013 - Into the Atmosphere

Have you ever looked at the sky and just watched the clouds go by?

Have you watched the stars imagined the earth spinning?

Have you ever wanted to watch a sunset but dind't have the time?

Time lapse photography is a great way to see things in a way you haven't.

Your assignment...

5th Grade - Christmas 12/2013 - The possibilities of technology

Technology provides a wide range of possibility and opportunity.

There is possibility to create in ways previously unavailable. Opportunity to see & experience things previously out of reach. Possibility and opportunity to discover and question all the things in your world.

The greatest power of technology is that possibility and opportunity to question what you see & find answers for yourself.

Your assignment...

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

"Why isn't my comment posted?"

That is a questions I get a lot.

Students will do the homework assignment, maybe even re-post a comment multiple times, and never see it published.

Before I get into why a comment isn't published let me remind students of the only appropriate way to sign a comment:

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

5th Grade - Thanksgiving 11/2013 - Who's Coming to Dinner?

Imagine you are hosting Thanksgiving. You can invite one person to eat with. That one person can be anyone at all. It must be a living person, but other than that you can choose anyone in the world to share Thanksgiving dinner....

Who would you choose? Why them?

Your assignment:

4th Grade - Thanksgiving 11/2013 - How to Cook a Turkey

You are in charge of cooking Thanksgiving dinner. You have to cook a turkey and 2 side dishes (a side dish is usually mashed potato, mac & cheese, stuffing, etc).

How are you going to cook the turkey? What side dishes are you going to make?

Imagine you have no help from your parents, what & how are you going to prepare for Thanksgiving dinner?

Your assignment:

3rd Grade - Thanksgiving 11/2013 - What is Thanksgiving?

What is Thanksgiving? Do you know where the holiday came from? Do you know some of the myths of thanksgiving?

For me Thanksgiving is about remembering how we got to where we are. Remembering those who came before us to help us get where we are. It is a chance to get together with family and friends and think about our history as well as look to the future. And honestly, for me, it's also a little bit about football. Eating and watching football has always been a big part of Thanksgiving in my family. We have a football tradition, every year we play the "Turkey Bowl". The Turkey Bowl is a 1 hour touch-football game where we split the family into 2 teams and play before we eat. It's all in fun, and it works up an appetite.

Your assignment:

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Blog homework - "how to comment" tutorial video

There are often assignments for students that require them to comment on a blog post.

We do a number of these assignments in class, but there are also homework posts.

The regular homework assignments are:

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Blog homework practice post

This post is for 3rd-5th graders to practice leaving a comment

Over Thanksgiving, Christmas, February, and Spring Breaks all 3rd-5th graders will have homework. The homework will be in the form of a post on this blog. Student will have to read the post, follow the directions, and leave a comment as directed to complete the comment.

This post is a practice forum for leaving comments...

Remember - Comment as "Name/URL" and use your first name and last initial (proper capitalization, no URL)- please respond in full and complete sentences - double check your work before posting your comment.

Monday, November 18, 2013

5th Grade Bloggers

In the ongoing experiment about the best ways to use various tools within the elementary environment I have been letting one class create, manage, and curate their own independent blogs. Ideally we will expand beyond this one class, but at this time a single class is the ideal setting to test the limitations & possibilities of independent student blogging.

The list of their blogs is on the right hand side of this blog.

One of the things I like best about it is seeing the excitement they have in writing & publishing on their terms. It is also great to see the focus and dedication they give to their design and layout.

A brief glimpse of the independent writing & design during their class period today...

Blogging is a great way to create a positive digital footprint, a portfolio of independent (and sometimes directed) writing, meet a number of the Common Core learning standards, and maintain a creative outlet they are excited about and proud of. Authentic learning & true publishing beyond the bulletin board...

Friday, November 15, 2013

Missed Parent-Teacher Conferences

As a teacher with roughly 700 students it is not possible to have all the conferences in the time allotted.

If you were not able to meet with me, Mr. Casal, during the Parent-Teacher Conference times but would still like to speak, feel free to email me to set up a time...

I am happy to connect via email, phone, in person, or via Skype/Google Hangout. Which ever medium is most convenient.

If your child is in Kindergarten or 1st Grade, Mr. Waisome is the lower grade computer teacher. He can be contacted via to schedule any needed conferences.

Thank you

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Google Apps for Students

PS 10 has been a Google Apps for Education (GAFE) school for over 3 years. Teachers have been using Google Apps for email ( and collaboration. This year we have begun to roll it out to students for instructional use. Grades 3-5 have accounts. Grade 2 students will get them closer to June.

No. Students do not have email. Just wanted to get that out of the way.

The following document will be going home with the student's login name and password. These accounts are strictly for school-related purposes so parents are encouraged to look at the types of things students are using Google Apps for. With this login information students will be able to access schoolwork at home, share files with their teacher (without printing), and begin to create an authentic digital portfolio.

Many middle and high schools are using GAFE, as are many colleges & universities. Various governmental agencies are using Google Apps as well. Having PS 10 students use Google Apps puts them at the forefront of a technology used globally on a daily basis.

Students will also be issued, via their Google Drives, and will review in class, the PS 10 Student Code of Ethics with Digital Tools and Accounts.

Feel free to contact Mr. Casal with questions or concerns at any time.

All documents related to PS 10's GAFE platform can be found here.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Social Media @PS10Brooklyn

I am often asked about how we use "social media" here at PS 10. It is a question that is both very simple & easy to answer and one that is also complex and nuanced. Let me elaborate...

Social media as defined by many people includes things like Facebook and Twitter. According to the Department of Education's social media policy for staff, social media is defined as:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The most astounding fact about the universe...

This is the first student blog assignment of the year...

What do you think is the most astounding fact about the universe?

The renowned astrophysicist, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, had this to say about the universe...:

It is a lot to hear & take in, he is an exceptional scientist after all. But we are all members of this universe, and scientists in our own right...

  • What did the visuals of the video make you think about? 
  • What did his words make you think about? 
  • For you, what is the most astounding fact about the universe? 
  • What do you think about when  you hear the words "the universe?"

Post your answer as a comment

Remember - Comment as "Name/URL" and use your first name and last initial (proper capitalization, no URL)- please respond in full and complete sentences - double check your work before posting your comment.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Free apps for free apps...

Occasionally I will be posting things applicable to teachers as well as students and parents. Today is one of those days a post is applicable to everyone, and anyone, with an iPhone or iPad...

One of the best ways to get use to the wide variety of possibilities of the iPad is to take advantage of free apps.

Here are a few free apps that alert you to when other, paid apps, are on sale. Once you "purchase" an app, free or paid, you get all future updates for free too. So, if you find a $4.99 app has gone free one day, download it, it's free, and you'll get all future updates for free too. Any app is worth a test run if it doesn't cost you anything...

Monday, September 30, 2013

Catching up & moving forward...

The last two weeks have been a frenzy...
... we are getting all classes set up & doing basic vocabulary review

  • Desktop
  • Dock
  • Icons

Some quick-key reveiw

Friday, September 13, 2013

Week 1 is in the books!

The first week of school is officially behind us!

This week was an entire week of firsts. Every period was a new class (with one exception - Ms. Bookman's class is the only one that has Computers 2x a week). We got all of the "first day" stuff out of the way, the rules & routines...
... next week we get into the nitty gritty....

  • 2nd grade - we'll be reviewing login procedures, basic vocabulary and discussing password creation
  • 3rd grade - same as 2nd plus organizing last year's work into new folders - a quick folder creation & management lesson
  • 4th grade - same as 3rd plus the beginning a re-fresher Word document (a quick assignment to review what was learned last year).
  • 5th grade - same as 4th, but the goal will be to start & finish the document in less than 20 minutes

Each year I build on the last. Each year we start by reviewing the previous year. The initial document is a way to do a quick assessment of the things remembered & forgotten (much like the initial reading assessments all teachers give in September). As the grades progress the document should be easier and easier to handle, hence the diminishing time allotted.

The next 2 weeks will be about all of that as well as troubleshooting. After a summer of shut-down the machines often need a little fine-tuning. We also ensure all student accounts are functioning properly, software is updated, and so forth. By the beginning of October we will be full-steam-ahead on projects and Google Apps for all grades...

Looking forward to it!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Welcome to the 2013-2014 school year!

Welcome back!

As we begin the 2013-2014 school year I want to give everyone an overview of the approach for this year and the new platforms we will be using.

In the past everything was centered around the "mrcasal" name. There was,, @mr_casal, and so on. This year I wanted to try something new. I wanted to center everything not around me but around what we do in the PS 10 computer lab, starting with the focal point of the year, this site. is the new hub for everything we do in the computer lab (with Mr. Casal). Instead of one site for curriculum ( and a different site for blog work ( I have put it all here, at

For the 2013-2014 school year everything we do will be based off of this site. There will be blog assignment homework for students in grades 3-5 just as there has been in previous years. Those assignments will be on this site,

In addition to posting student blog assignments & curriculum on this site, I will also be updating it periodically with happenings of the lab. I'll post information about assignments, activities, portions of student work products, and general artifacts of the lab.

As always, I am a huge fan of Twitter. @PS10Tech is still active and will still serve as primarily a live student in-lab publishing tool but I will also be using it to post news & information about the lab.

A quick overview of what students will be doing:
(for more in depth curriculum outlines use the grade-by-grade tabs at the top of the page)

  • 2nd grade - Microsoft Word to support the writing process - creating & saving, typing, editing, revising, formatting, inserting pictures - by the end of the year 2nd graders should be able to create, from a blank page, a fully edited & revised publishable piece of original writing.
  • 3rd grade - Microsoft Word - a review of all things covered in Grade 2 + longer form writing assignments, Microsoft Powerpoint as an alternative publishing tool, proper internet reseraching techniques and blog commenting
  • 4th grade - Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and internet research review. 1 research-based presentation. Blog commenting. Student blog post creation on a shared class blog
  • 5th grade - Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and internet research review. 1 research-based presentation. Blog commenting. Independent student blog creation

The goal is to support the writing & publishing process across the grades by giving students exposure to a few of the most common content creating products. In addition, each grade builds upon the previous, ensure the core skills are reinforced while also moving more and more rapidly as the years progress to cover more and more ground.

Do we get to every aspect of technology in a year? No. Each class gets 50 minutes a week in the lab, no where near enough time to cover a fraction of what's possible. The goal, however, is to give each student the core skills to present & publish their ideas in the most possible ways. Ideally, they'll leave me & walk in to middle school with skill ahead of the expectation curve.

The biggest new thing for 2013-2014 is that every student in grades 2-5 will have unique Google Apps accounts. They will not have email access, but they will be able to use Google Drive to create projects & have access to their work beyond the computer lab, and beyond the walls of PS 10. The student are of the Google Apps domain is restrictive & customizable so some classes and/or grades might have more or less access than others. The full details will be outlined in a future blog post.

If you have any questions; student, staff or parent, feel free to post a comment here or email me.

Looking forward to a great year!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tweeting with Students

Recently, I decided to create a Twitter account for my classroom (the computer lab @PS10Tech).

I was inspired to do this by Ms. Glembocki, a 2nd grade teacher here at PS 10. Ms. Glembocki tweets fairly regularly, sharing news and information about her class with her followers, many of whom are parents. Recently, Ms. Glembocki decided to assign a student tweeter for every day. It's a new classroom role for the students. One student a day is in charge of her twitter account, and the student uses an iPad designed specifically for classroom use to tweet the happenings of the day. Students introduce themselves and sign each tweet. In addition, she uses the hashtag #2310st to designate the tweet is coming from a "student tweeter of class 2-310." Her 2nd graders "live blog" the day. It's a fantastic idea and I wanted to do it for my lab.

The subtle difference between Ms. Glembocki and me is roughly 570 students. She has her self-contained class of 30, so managing a single tweeter a day is not a daunting task. I, on the other hand, see five classes a day, or roughly 150 students (for those of you keeping track of the math, I see a couple of classes more than one period a week and not every class is 30, so the unique student count is just shy of 600 total per week). It would be a bit much to manage five or more tweeters a day on my @Mr_Casal twitter account...

... And so was born @PS10Tech. This is the account solely dedicated to documenting the happenings in my computer lab, tweeted 99% by students.

Why I use Twitter with students:

  • It's writing
    • It's writing in a new medium
    • It's writing digitally
    • It's writing for a broad audience
  • It's publishing
    • It's publishing, instantly
    • It's publishing beyond the classroom walls
    • It's publishing for a global audience
  • It's limiting
    • I love the 140 character limit as it forces you to write efficiently, concisely, and with purpose
And we have protocols:

  • All tweets will be written exclusively on a single @PS10Tech dedicated iPad, displayed on the board (via AppleTV)
  • All tweets must be written using proper sentence structure, spelling, grammar, capitalization, etc. Twitter is writing, and writing in school, and these tweets represent not only the lab, but the entire school community as a whole.
  • The first tweet a student composes must be an introduction:
    • "Hi, I'm firstname from class.  - FL #ps10st"
    • The "-FL" represents the signature, in this case "-FirstinitialLastinitial"
    • The hashtag #ps10st is added, representing a "ps10 student tweeter"
  • Folow up tweets by that student may include pictures of students working and/or pictures of student work products
    • Any tweet documenting studnet work or students working mush have the hashtag #ps10sw to denote "ps 10 student work" in addition to the hashtag #ps10st
  • Before the "Tweet" button is pressed, I, Mr. Casal, must approve the content. If the "Tweet" button is pressed without my consent, the tweet will be deleted and the student will no longer tweet
    • Pressing the "Tweet" button is publishing to the world on behalf of the PS 10 community, so it must be approved
We spend a full period discussing the basics of composing a tweet and the technological aspects of it.
We also spend much of that period discussing appropriate writing and the reach Twitter has. @PS10Tech only has 18 followers (as of this writing) and we discuss what that means. We also discuss my 800+ followers and how I can "retweet" or re-publish the writing to my 800+ followers.

The biggest demonstration of the power & reach of Twitter is a conversation I had with a college classmate of mine, Dave Kerpen:

The @PS10Brooklyn hashtags (#ps10st#ps10sw#ps10bk) have gone well beyond the PS 10 followers and well beyond my followers... Those hashtags have gone out to 50,000+ of Dave's followers... Twitter has powerful, instant, broad, and global reach. I demonstrate, illustrate, and stress this point to all my students. We are no longer writing for ourselves, we are writing for the world to see.
(big thanks to Dave for helping illustrate this point!)

What about student accounts?
The big question I always get from students: "Can we sign up for our own Twitter account?"
With the follow-up being, "If I sign up at home, can I log in at school?"
I don't say this to be mean or controlling or negative. I do it because online social media platforms with elementary school students is a bit of a tricky situation. Twitter does not have an over-13 age restriction (like Facebook does). Anyone, of any age, can sign up for a Twitter account. But, you need an email to do it and most email providers require users be over 13... See, a bit of a tricky situation...

... I tell students they are more than welcome to discuss tweeting with their parents and make a decision at home whether or not to have a Twitter account, but since we can't permit every student to have a personal account, we will only use the single @PS10Tech account for all students.

I do hope this inspires students to have the conversation with their parents about writing online, but a personal Twitter account for an elementary age student is 100% between the parent and students.

My final thoughts...
I think Twitter is a great way to introduce another form of writing and publishing to the classroom. Since I only see most classes once a week, having a class tweeting allows me to integrate another writing and technology platform into the 45 minute period. With Twitter I can now have students working on a PowerPoint, commenting on a blog post, and tweeting all in a single period. As classes have gotten accustomed to the tweeting protocols, I am able to have 3-4 student tweeters per period. Tweeting has opened up a whole new avenue of technology, pubishing, communicating, and docuementing.

The best feedback I've gotten on this to date, aside from the smiles and excitement from students, is from a parent. She came up to me and said "I love the Twitter account. I have it open at work and follow along with what you guys are doing. It's so cool. I even showed my co-workers how my daughter's school was tweeting."

Writing, publishing, documenting, engaging... Twitter is an amazingly powerful platform and @PS10Tech is a way to introduce my students to this amazing tool...

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Twitter @PS10Brooklyn - Our hashtags!

In the previous post, Twitter @10, I wrote about Twitter as a platform and offered a solution for following Twitter users without actually have a Twitter account, or even a smartphone.

The previous post also listed all the teaches with Twitter accounts at PS 10.

This post is more geared toward people with a Twitter account looking to get a more streamlined PS 10 experience out of the Twitter platform...

... PS 10 has a school-wide Twitter account, @PS10Brooklyn, which we use to publicize general news and events related to the school. We also use @PS10Brooklyn to share & promote the great things teachers are doing in their classrooms.

With so many teachers using Twitter, and so many great things being published, it can be a bit daunting to follow all the teachers or hope @PS10Brooklyn will promote all teacher posts (it wont, it can't, just not enough time in the day).

To make the filtering of PS10-related tweets we have created hashtags for the school. Hashtags are basically searchable/filterable terms to simplify finding things.

The PS 10 hashtags are:

  • #ps10bk - this references general happenings within the building
  • #ps10st - this references a student doing the tweeting. Tweets with this hashtags are written, with supervision, by students from the teacher account. 2 examples of this are:
    • @MsGlemboki - she also uses #2310st to further filter class 2-310 specific student tweeters
    • @PS10Tech - the Twitter account for the Lab, 99% of tweets are student writen
  • #ps10sw - this references student work, or students working. This hashtag will showcase student work products and student efforts throughout the building

You can also follow these hashtags in a very visual format from a browser, without a Twitter account, by visiting our TagBoards:

Hopefully these options will help make the PS 10 Twitter experience more enjoyable for all members of the PS 10 community, not just the twitter-ers among us...

Monday, May 6, 2013

Twitter @PS10Brooklyn

Twitter is a great resource. It is no longer just Ashton Kutcher talking about what he ate for breakfast (although, I'm sure there is probably still a lot of that going on).

These days teachers are using Twitter as another method of communicating with parents. There is a PS 10 Twitter account that posts school announcements, shares classroom work, and in general acts as another way to connect the school with the community. A lot of parents have signed up for Twitter (its free) just to follow their child's classroom feed or the PS 10 feed. There are many teachers who speak highly of the home-school connecting Twitter fosters and the instructional engagement it supports.

So, Twitter has value as a communication tool. But what if you don't want to sign up? What if you have no way to check Twitter? If you don't want a Twitter account, or don't have a phone capable of downloading an app, you can follow Twitter via text. Here is how it works:

Just text Twitter at 40404 and then type any of the following commands:Follow [username] - allows you to receive updates from that user.OFF or STOP or LEAVE - turns off receiving updates from the users you are following.ON - will turn on device updates and you will start receiving tweets again.WHOIS [username] - retrieves the profile information of the user.STATS - returns the number of people that you are following.GET [username] - retrieves the latest update that user has posted.
taken from: 

Feel free to follow any or all of these PS 10-based Twitter accounts!
A full list on Twitter available here:

Official school account:

Ms. Scott, Principal

Ms. Watson Adin, Assistant Principal

Madeline Seide, Parent Coordinator

Mr. Casal, Technology 

Ms. Buie, Kindergarten

Ms. Camastro

Ms. Fajgier, Kindergarten

Mrs. Reyes, Kindergarten

Mr. Bowen, 1st grade

Ms. Buntley, 1st grade

Ms. DeGennaro, 1st grade

Ms. Glembocki, 2nd grade

Ms. Graham, 2nd grade

Ms. Karamitros, 2nd grade

Ms. Baron, 3rd grade

Ms. Bookman, 3rd grade

Ms. Chan, 3rd grade

Ms. Hackett & Ms. McMahon, 3rd grade ICT 

Ms. Mazzola, 3rd grade

Ms. Bruckler, 4th grade

Ms. Kertesz, 4th grade

Ms. McCormack, 4th grade

Ms. Morrison, 4th grade

Ms. Venier, 4th grade

Ms. Cypher, 5th grade

Ms. Henderson, 5th grade ICT

Mr. Magliano, 5th grade

Mrs. Reitzfeld, 5th grade ICT

Ms. van Doren, 5th grade


Ms. Thill, Lower Science

Mr. Ellis, Music

Computer Lab - tweets from students during computer class

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Welcome to Tech@10!


This blog is centered around technology here at PS 10.

In a sense it is an extension of Mr. Casal's blog, but it is very much it's own being and will encompass far more than what Mr. Casal's blog does.

Tech@10 will:

  • post updates about technology at PS 10
  • be authored by both Mr. Casal & Mr. Waisome with updates relevant to their respective classes
  • have student authors creating original blog posts 
  • cover topics both in and out of the computer lab
  • be open to all areas of technology, for staff, students, and parents alike

Welcome to this new endeavor, we hope you enjoy the updates!