Rebranding and Reblogging

Periodically, I like to reintroduce myself to blog/newsletter readers and (re)define the purpose of this blog/newsletter for those of who may be joining this program already in progress. In addition, a couple of recent developments will be new to almost everyone.

E-Mail Subscribers

I want to thank subscribers to this blog.  Many of you have subscribed via the e-mail newsletter link on Open Court or Treasures  You may not know that what you’re reading is a blog at all, but thank you!  Blog reading is pretty painless, isn’t it.

Who Am I?

I’m Mathew Needleman.  I’m just one guy, a teacher and sometimes filmmaker.  I write all the content on this blog and do not accept guest posts.  The most prolific periods of my blogging have been while serving as a Literacy Coach and Intervention Coordinator in the elementary grades during which time I blogged about things like reading comprehension, reading fluency, and writing with a dash of technology thrown in occasionally.

I was recently hired as an Instructional Technology Specialist.  I assist 130 schools with integrating technology into their curriculums particularly in support of the Common Core Standards and Language Learners.  I’m still focused on good instruction but my focus has widened to include not just language arts and all grade levels K-12.

The focus of my blogging going forward will likely shift to include more technology but only as it relates to instruction.  I’ve never been interested in technology for technology’s sake.  If you can do it better with a pencil and paper, please do.

My Other Sites

I maintain a number of additional web sites.  I’ve made the decision to revive my dormant independent digital film studio, at Needleworks  Needleworks Pictures hosts my personal  artistic pursuits unrelated to education and will have more information about my latest moviemaking project shortly.

I’ve spun-off all education endeavors (Open Court, Video in the, and this blog the most popular among them) and linked to them all from Needleworks All of my web sites are free but sometimes advertiser supported.  No advertiser support has ever influenced the content of any of my pages.  In addition to web sites, I also make iPhone apps which are not free and quite costly to produce.  More information about the apps is available at the Needleworks Education site.

My Outside Associations

Although I don’t intend to ever post anything offensive or controversial, it’s worth noting that although I work for a school district, everything I post here is my own opinion and not the opinion of my employer.

I am an Apple Distinguished Educator.  I was chosen for this program because of my fondness for Apple products.  I am not required to post about Apple and only do so when I choose to.  I am allowed to be objective in posting comments about Apple products.

I’m a member of the Adobe Influencer Program.  In exchange for passing on some information about Adobe news I’ve been given something akin to advanced press access to some Adobe announcements.


I thank everyone for sticking with me, particularly in this long dormant blogging period.  I hope to have new content soon.  If you have any questions, feel free to post them below.


Video in the Classroom Mini-Carnival #5

Here are a few new examples of classroom videomaking sites worth checking out from around the web.


Mr. Alonso’s 4th grade classroom.  I particularly enjoyed, The Secret to the CSTs.

Mrs. McKillop’s 4th grade classroom in Elk Grove.  Here is their award-winning movie, The Power of One.

Middle School

Mr. Mayo’s Middle School Films.  I particularly enjoy the middle school brand of humor.

Mr. Hodgson’s claymation literary terms (alliteration, hyperbole, etc).


If your in the L.A. area, please take an iMovie class with me this summer at the County Office of Education.

Also check out my own classroom videomaking at Video in the

Earlier editions of the Video in the Classroom Carnival can be found here.

Your Days in a Sentence

Thank you for submitting your sentences.

Elona Harjes had a Dickensian week:   It was the best of times; it was the worst of times- it was the end of semester.

Gail P also sees an end in sight:  I know we haven’t reached the middle of the year yet but I can already feel this vehicle’s momentum shifting to accommodate the race to the end of the year.

Bonnie K is looking forward to merit pay:  It’s been a tough week, dealing with the “small” election in Mass. I want to remain positive and will. Obama is my guy-BRAVO to his first year in the White House!
What can I say, I’m a political junkie and proud of it. Wait until we get to education reform.

Several teachers got teaching workouts this week…

Illya: What a wild week of work with grades, visiting student teachers, traveling, planning and teaching; now I’m looking forward to a calming weekend.

Mike says, “I taught/coached/presented to about every age group this week from 10 year olds to 60 year olds – some age groups are easier than others.”

Band leader, Joel reports, “This week was pretty busy in that I had no students on Monday, great classes and sectionals Tuesday through Thursday; however Friday’s classes were inexplicably bad; in other news, I walked 45 minutes, ran 15 minutes, Wii Fitted 100 minutes, lost 1.5 pounds, removed comments from my blog, got a haircut, downloaded MP3s, and watched the entire seventh season of 24.”

Nina Liakos: Teaching advanced (ESL) students for the first time in a long time, I have to figure out ways to ensure that the most highly proficient among them are sufficiently challenged.

Maggie:  Subbing for the first time last week reaffirmed my career choice and gave me confidence in my teaching abilities.”

Sara P-C: nothing improves my 5th grade students’ writing faster than having them score each others’ anonymous essays in groups – “mrs. p-c, it’s so messy, i can’t even *read* this!” “what is this person trying to say here?” “he’s missing his entire conclusion!” – welcome to my world, little friends…

Catalina: I had low key week since students were taking their semester exams.

Cynthia Calvert: I wonder why we senior English teachers feel we must assign research papers! Aug-h-h-h-h-h!!

Some teachers managed to get out of their classrooms…

Anne Mirtschin: After an amazing, exciting and exhilarating week of wildlife safaris in South Africa, where we were burgled by starving baboons in our apartment (with closed doors) and narrowly avoided an elephant stampede by mere seconds, I am now home safely on Australian shores.

Jim: Took a friend to the hospital today for a test on this beautiful sunny day.

Dkzody: A deluge of water made recruitment a soppy adventure.

Others need more time…

Mary Lee: I’d be fine if I didn’t have to go to any meetings!

Sheryl A. McCoy: Time, out of synchronization, speeds through the week leaving little time for reflection.

Janet Morrison: The emotional rollercoaster was in working order this week as I went from success to suck to success.

Some need to step away from the computer…

Cheryl Oaks: This week the technology gremlins appeared to cause havoc.

Ianin Sheffield: Lipsmackin’, Slidesharein’, Opensourcin’, Animotovatin’, GoogleDocin’, Tinychatin’, Flickrmakin’, Hivemindin’, Evernotein’, Youtubein’ – EdTech!

And rounding out the week …

Kevin Hodgson: The planning for a benefit concert of student and staff musicians at our school in a few weeks to support both schools in post-Katrina New Orleans and the Pennies for Peace organization is coming together but we are left with the question: what about Haiti?

From Middle Earth Ken Allan: Another wet and cold summer day with a sky choked with cloud and the wind howling lets me understand why so many people do not subscribe to this idea of global warming.

Tracy Rosen leaves us on an uplifting note:   My week is ending brilliantly as the sun stays out longer each day, brightening my world, my mood.

Day in a Sentence

This week I am hosting “Day in a Sentence” from Kevin Hodgson’s excellent blog.  This is a no-pressure activity for teachers to reflect upon their week and come up with a single sentence about it.

Here are the simple rules:

  • Boil down your week or your day into a single sentence
  • Use the comment feature here to share your sentence (comments are held in moderation so they won’t show up before Monday)
  • Please leave your blog address (if you have one) so that I can link to you
  • I will compile all of the writing for release in a new post on Monday


Video in the Classroom Carnival #4

Video in the Classroom Carnival #4 comes a month early.  There were just too many good tips and examples to hold off another month.

Video Production Examples from the Trenches

Mr. Moses’s middle schoolers’ productions.  I particularly enjoyed The Clumsy Ninja for its dry sense of humor and well thought out shot selection.

Los Angeles County Digital Voice Award Winners

6th Grade Puppet Shows from Kevin Hodgson’s class.

Kelly Dumont’s elementary film festival winners.

Professional Examples

Alec Couros posts a list of tons of great Youtube videos for teaching technology and media literacy including my own, Mr. Winkle Wakes.


The Substance of Style. A series of film essays on the influences of Wes Anderson.  Watch these to help train your eye on what to look for in teaching and evaluating film.

Literacy Status:  Its Complicated, Tom Woodward asks us to think about how we’re teaching literacy.  Have we redefined it?  Have we let tools take over technique?

Let the Beat Build.  Dan Meyer explains why this music video rocks.


Everything You Always Wanted to Know About iMovie ’09 (But Were Afraid to Ask) from Yours Truly.

The Best Cinematic Tutorials Online from Smashing Magazine.

Normalizing Audio in Final Cut Pro by Larry Jordan (also check out his free FCP newsletter)

Lesson Plans

Case Study:  Video Production in Elementary

Video in the Classroom Carnival #3

Frank Guttler lets us into his planning for his class at Poly High in A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words and reports on his journey to Doha to see How Flat the World Is.

Christina shares her classroom holiday movies.

Joe Brennan presents the best resources for Making Movies on the Web:

Bob Sprankle shares his own digital story, The Wind Blows It All Away.

Kevin Hodgson relates digital storytelling to traditional teaching objectives in When Stories Go Digital.

Dan Meyer wonders if teaching How to make movies is enough to teach one to make art?

Shannon Tobaldo presents her eighth grade students’ work.

Larry Ferlazzo presents his own Digital Storytelling Resources.

And Karen Foerch taught me a new trick for downloading Youtube videos…
Every youtube video has it’s own url. Go to the video you want. Make sure you see the video you want. Go to the address bar and type pwn after the www. like this:


It goes to another page. Download as an mp4 and save.

Royalty Free Zone
The Free Music Archive is a promising looking source for music.

Submit an article for the next Video in the Classroom Carnival here.

Video in the Classroom Carnival #2

It’s time for the irregularly scheduled Video in the Classroom Carnival featuring posts  about intergrating video production and digital storytelling in the classroom.  Please submit your own articles to the next carnival here.


How to create clay animation movies by Kevin Hodgson.

Dan Meyer wants students to stop relying on musical soundtracks to convey emotion.

Alice Mercer has ideas for storyboarding.


Kevin Hodgson shares his presentation on The Writing Processes of Digital Storytelling.


50 Incredible Stop Motion Videos from Smashing Magazine.

Christina’s Superstar Video from the Early Childhood Blog.

Carnival of Education #191

It’s been an honor and a pleasure to find these gems from the edublogosphere this week in this the It’s October 1st, Are You Sick of Halloween Yet? edition of the Carnival of Education.

Classroom Management or How to Deal With Students Coming Down From a Halloween Sugar High…

Elona Hartjes reminds us that a Positive Attitude is Key to Maintaining a Positive Classroom Environment.

No Trick or Treater Left Behind

NCLB:  Looking Backward and Forward in eduwonkette.

Teachers to the Rescue! Is it always a problem when students don’t understand? asks Mark Pullen.

Can We Even Reach Every Student? asks Joel in So You Want to Teach.

Courage, Do You Have It? in the Reading Workshop discusses what it takes for students to face failure and still succeed.

Some districts give high test score credit to students who don’t even show up! in the Core Knowledge Blog.

Things To Do Instead of Trick or Treating…

The Trash Can Game:  Teach Kids to Reduce Trash by Judy Sommers.

Make Ice Cream or at least give students the skills they need to be the ice cream makers of the future by Diane Weir.

Make Lemonade.

Play Some Video Games, or wait, will it make kids more or less obese than eating Halloween candy?  Sharp Brains weighs in and then offers Brain Teasers for when you’re done.

Get Philosophical with Miss Profe.

Get a Master’s Degree in Right on the Left Coast.

I Found A Piece of Educational Technology in my Candy…

Larry Ferlazzo, dressed as a top ten list for Halloween this year, presents the Best Web 2.0 Applications for Education in 2008.

Tech & Te(a)ch Is edtech helping or hurting? asks Travis a Wittwer.

Tom Woodward had something to say about this too in There Are No Shortcuts.

Scott McLeod surveys to find out if we’ve made any progress in technology integration since last year.

Thanks to Skype, Pat’s No Longer on the Outside Looking In.

Mark Graybill tries out open source operating systems in class and reports the results.

Trick or Treat or Math and Science…

SteveSpangler (the cool science experiments guy) tells us how to make Giant Soap Bubbles.

The Science Goddess is back from being AWOL to ask What Is the Purpose of Teaching Science?

Mrs. Bluebird asks Science Lab to Stay After Class.

Nucleus Learning tells us How to Teach Science.

Math Is Fun Too

Green Eggs and Math. Mister Teacher  hates open-ended questions.

Bobbing for Votes

A Mathematician for President (hint: he’s not currently running), the story of James Garfield by Let’s Play Math.

Election 2008:  A Lesson on Media Bias by the Tempered Radical

Scary Costumes

Grades:  A Necessary Evil by Travis A Wittwer who trick-or-treated by this carnival twice.

Tweenteacher finds herself in a passionate battle between angry fans of the Twilight novels and asks what her role is in the debate? Then she reviews Breaking Down by Stephanie Meyer.

Reign of Terror in NYC Educator.

Instincts in Under Assault:  Teaching in NYC.

Trick or Treaters Who Can’t Get Along…

Is TSL the Answer? Should we reduce Total Student Loads? asks Joanne Jacobs.

Essential Conflict in Leader Talk argues that a little conflict is just what the field of education needs.

Old Andrew reports on the second part of his Holiday from Hell.

The Real Job of Socialization in Life Without Schools

Education Problem Solving 101 by Dave Saba

Law Vibe reports on NYU Students Paying Cash for Class.

In this corner, learning styles are important…now fight it out…enjoy the match at Lead from the Start.

Students suspended for a barbecue in the school parking lot.

$700 Billion Dollar Candy Bailout

Blues, Basements, and Bailouts: A kid’s eye view of the crisis and other thoughts from Bellringers.

The Culture of No Fail Failure, History is Elementary, asks if we’ve sunk to the point where we no longer allow failure.

Wholesome Costumes

Family values in my home town by Nancy Flanagan.

After the Candy

How Do You Still Love Teaching (Let Me Count the Ways?) asks Tracey Rosen.

A Musical Interlude

Are First Act Musical Instruments Worth the Price? asks Thomas J. West.

Bill Cowher’s Piano Lessons

Trick or Treating Without Leaving the House:  Homeschooling

Homeschool Memoirs

Does Anyone Still Read Books Anymore?

Jane Goodwin does.  How about that jacob in Sarah, Plain and Tall?

And the story of The Milkman.

And that’s all folks!  Submit an article to the next carnival here.

Carnival of Education Coming

I’m honored to be hosting the Carnival of Education this week.

I hope you’ll join me in what promises to be an exciting assortment of articles related to education.

I’ll compile the entries and post them here on Wednesday, 10/1. Please get your articles in by 9/30. See you there!

Submit Your Entry Here

Digital Storytelling Carnival #5

Welcome to the bi-monthly Digital Storytelling Carnival. Lots of new posts to check out if you haven’t already. Thanks for stopping by.

Classroom Ideas

Caught On Video, Bob Sparnkle suggests several ideas for integrating video production in the curriculum.

Wildlife documentary filmmaking by Scott Floyd.

Split screen inspired by Radiohead by Dan Meyer.

Let Them Remix Videos by @Edu.

Clay Animation

Sir Kevin Hodgson presents several articles on clay animation in the classroom. If you haven’t subscribed to his blog, you may want to:

Behind the Scenes of Stop-Motion
Lego Animation experiments
Creating with Clay

Clay animation in the classroom
PIvot Animation


Gail Desler explains the importance of storyboarding in digital storytelling.


The Best Ways for Students to Create Online Videos Using Someone Else’s Content by Larry Ferlazzo and the Best Ways for Students to Create Online Animations.

Converting VoiceThread to video by Kevin Hodgson

Making Youtube Videos a Little Clearer from

Web-based animation by Wes Fryer.

Digital Storytelling, online moviemaking site.


Experiments with the Flip by the TechChicks.

An alternative to the flip by Susan Sedro.


Digital Storytelling as a Disruptive Change Agent by Wesley Fryer.

The Art of Digital Storytelling from TechLearning.

The Power of Digital Storytelling by Alix E Peshette.

100 Helpful Web Tools for Every Kind of Learner by College@Home.

On EduPunkism by Educatorblog.


Bonnie Kaplan reflects on her participation in digital storytelling workshop.


The Piano, teaching film narrative from Clif’s Notes.

Three Cheers for Tacky by Nicole Green, a first grade readers theater production.

Terry Shay’s first animations.

Steve Kimmi’s Storm Stories Voicethread.

NEA Video Project: I Am An Educator

World Domination from the Horizon Project.

Literacy Institute Digital Storytelling by Angelea Maiers using Animoto.

Roll it Gal animation by JakeT.


Education Week reports on states’ funding or lack thereof of technology in the classroom.


AFI’s Hometown Claim to Fame contest.


Apple’s summer camp is free and available to students.

Apple’s downloadable Moviemaking Curriculum.