Saturday, February 09, 2008


Resources from METC 2008

We had a great time at METC 2008! Thanks to those who attended one of our sessions. Here are some pictures take at SqoolTechs Sessions:

Here is the complete collection of METC 2008 photos:

Here are links to the sessions that we presented at METC. Feel free to share these with other educators. If you have a resource to share, login in to and join the conversation about teaching and learning with the Internet.

Here is a printable handout with information about all the sessions. On the 2nd page you will find instructions for creating a free account at SqoolTools:

The ABCs of VLEs:

Reading, Writing, and VLEs

Math FACTS (Free, Awesome Cool Tools for Students):

You Mean I Am Supposed to Teach Science, Too?

FREE Educational Videos (coming soon as

Request a FREE Virtual Classroom at

Happy Teaching and Learning!


Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Resources from MITC 2007

Here are links to the sessions that Vince and I presented at MITC. Feel free to share these with other educators. If you have a resource to share, login in to and join the conversation about teaching and learning with the Internet.

Here is a printable handout with information about all the sessions. On the 2nd page you will find instructions for creating a free account at SqoolTools.

The ABCs of VLEs:

Math FACTS (Free, Awesome Cool Tools for Students):

You Mean I Am Supposed to Teach Science, Too?

Request a FREE Virtual Classroom at

Happy Teaching and Learning!


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Friday, September 21, 2007


Seeking Beta Testers for

SqoolTechs recently launched SqoolTools is a virtual learning environment, built on Moodle open source software, that allows K-12 teachers to create courses to either support classroom instruction or to deliver instruction completely online. SqoolTools is currently in Beta Phase. We are testing the best ways to deliver and service SqoolTools accounts. In addition, during the Beta phase we will be integrating instructional resources and other features that improve the functionality of the base software.

We are seeking teachers to serve as beta testers. Your responsibilities as a beta tester are to use the software for instructional purposes and report any issues or problems that you experience. You may be asked to periodically provide your opinion by completing an online survey.

In exchange for your participation as a beta tester, you will be provided with a SqoolTools account free of charge during the beta phase and for a period of one year following the close of the beta phase. If you would like to participate as a beta tester, read the details and complete a brief survey. Please note that the window of opportunity to become a beta tester is brief. We will be making our selections during the next week.

Happy Teaching and Learning!



SqoolTechs will be at MITC!

Vince and I will be at the 2007 MOREnet Instructional Technology Conference (MITC) held October 14-16 at Tan-Tar-A Resort in Osage Beach, MO. Join us for one of the following presentations. NOTE: All presentations will be made available online so that teachers can easily share the information with others in their district. Follow up support will be provided through email and discussion forums. I will post the urls to these presentations shortly after the conference.

The ABCs of VLEs
3-hour pre-conference session
Sunday, Oct. 14, 9 a.m. - Noon

Is the concept of Virtual Learning Environments new to you? Are you ready to take the plunge into blogs, wikis, and other Web 2.0 tools. Attend this session to learn the basics of how Moodle can be used to support traditional instruction by easily integrating collaborative tools. You will be provided free access to your own virtual classroom for a year. Time will be devoted to getting your virtual classroom up and running. Bring your class list with you!

Math FACTS (Free, Awesome, Cool Tools for Students)
Tuesday, Oct. 16, 8:45 - 9:45 a.m

Explore all of the best K-6 math tools the web has to offer! From basic addition to geometry and fractions, from virtual manipulates to interactive games, from online calculators and converters to graphing tools. You will leave this session with resources for every math topic you teach. A laptop would be beneficial in this session, but not necessary.

You Mean I Am Supposed to Teach Science, Too?
Tuesday, Oct. 16, 11:15 - 12:15 a.m

In 2008, expanded MAP testing begins in Science. The grade-span tests will be administered in Grades 5, 8, and 11. With the push to meet AYP in communication arts and math, many teachers have been forced to skimp on science instruction. Are you in need of resources to help prepare your students for the upcoming Science MAP tests? Attend this session to discover online science tools and resources that have been aligned with the GLEs. A laptop would be beneficial in this session, but not necessary.

Happy Teaching and Learning!


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Thursday, June 07, 2007


World Class Thinking

I recently read a book that has been on my list of must reads for quite some time. It contained no instructional strategies, no technical know-how, and no educational resources. While it is not a book that is considered to be an education-related book, I quickly became aware how the ideas presented in the book could be used to bring about change in education. I saw similarities to Ruby Payne's work toward closing the achievement gap and the model for adoption and diffusion of innovations of Everett Rogers.

The book is entitled "177 Mental Toughness Secrets of the World Class: The Thought Processes, Habits, and Philosophies of the Great Ones" and was written by Steve Siebold. Siebold's premise is that the underlying cause of problems is how one thinks, therefore if you improve the cause (thinking) the effect (problem) takes care of itself. One of the greats that he quotes is Albert Einstein who said, "A problem can not be solved at the level of consciousness in which it occurs." Siebold describes the 5 major levels of consciousness or awareness: poverty-class, working-class, middle-class, upper class and world class. He details the differences in the ways those at each level of awareness think and act. While there is an implied parallel between income level and and the conciousness level, it is important to note that you can be a middle class wage earner but think like the world class.

As I reflect on the 26 years I spent in public education, I realize that most public education institutions are functioning at the middle and upper class levels of awareness. This mindset clearly contributes to slowing the process of change that must take place in order to improve our schools.

As I was reading, I pondered this question: How can aligning the mindset of key stakeholders with the mindset of the world class improve our schools? I recorded the ideas that relate to education and the process of change. I then arranged those ideas into a spectrum. The intent is that the spectrum will help educators gauge their thinking and actions. The closer that thoughts and actions of key stakeholders are aligned with those of the world class, the better our schools and educational institutions will become. As we strive to improve our schools and prepare our students for the future, perhaps the best place to start is with our thoughts and actions. We live in a global society. Isn't it time for more world-class thinking?

You can download the spectrum, a work in progress, from:

If the ideas presented in the spectrum spark an interest, I highly recommend that you read the entire book.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Your Voice Needed to Support Ed Tech

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings is requesting feedback about how the integration of technology in education impacts the learning process. Ed tech advocates are cautiously hopeful that the information gathered will prompt increased funding for technology in schools.

Specifically, the input requested is in regard to the following 4 questions:

  1. In what ways has technology improved the effectiveness of your classroom, school, or district?
  2. Based on your role (administrator, parent, teacher, student, entrepreneur, or business leader), how have you used educational data to make better decisions or be more successful?
  3. In what ways can technology help us prepare our children for global competition and reach our goals of eliminating achievement gaps and having all students read and do math on grade level by 2014?
  4. What should be the federal government's role in supporting the use of technology in our educational system?

It is unfortunate that none of the questions directly relates to sustained, high-quality professional development and on-going support which is the key to successful technology integration. However, comments to question 4 could easily include the importance of professional development for educators.

Please take time to make your voice heard by submitting your comments, online at:



Saturday, May 19, 2007


Gamequarium Back-up Site Now Online

The Gamequarium Back-up Site is now online at The back-up site contains the identical content as My goal is to make Gamequarium available 100% of the time. Please take time now to add to your bookmarks.

Why was it necessary to do this? My current hosting company has recently had its servers hijacked by hackers on several occasions making Gamequarium unavailable for a period ranging from a few minutes to a few days. The hijacking attempts have started again this weekend. While my hosting company has so far been successful at blocking the latest attempts, it is clear that this is going to be an ongoing problem. I have heard from many teachers who report the negative impact that this has on their instructional plans.

I had originally intended to launch the back-up site when the redesign process was complete. This weekend's hijacking attempts prompted me to launch it immediately. While it will solve many problems, please be aware that some of the internal links will not work if the main site is down. Why? A few of the links are absolute rather than relative thus they will not work if is down. If you are url savvy, you can easily get around this problem by changing the .com that appears in the address bar of your browser to .org. All internal links will be made relative during the redesign process.

Thanks for your patience. If you have questions, please send an email to me at

Happy uninterrupted teaching and learning!


Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Big Changes Coming to Gamequarium!

Thanks to the more than 750+ teachers and students from around the globe who took the time to respond to the survey about how to improve Gamequarium. I heard you loud and clear! Your comments and suggestions are deeply appreciated as they provided much food for thought. A major redesign is underway based on the feedback that I received.

Gamequarium has grown to more than 1000 pages. Because of the sheer number of pages, the changes will take place, a section at a time, over the next few months. All pages will be redesigned and in place by the start of the 2007-2008 school year. Your patience is appreciated during the redesign process. Below is a summary of what will stay the same and what will change as well as the rationale behind my thinking.

First, the changes:
  1. A totally new look!
    Rationale and explanation: Teachers seem to generally dislike the watery background and the yellow text stating that it is “hard on the eyes.” I have heard this for years, but I have resisted changing because students generally seem to love those elements. My goal is to find a happy medium between what the teachers need and what the students want, all while keeping the underwater theme. The new design has brighter colors and easy-to-read text areas. The watery background is being eliminated, but an underwater theme will remain on the main portal pages.
  2. Improved organization and more navigation options!
    Rationale and explanation: Some felt that pages or content are hard to find with the current navigation system. Others experienced information overload when viewing the home page. To address these issues, the home page will link to each main section. These sections will link to subject area pages and subject area pages will link to topic-specific pages. Each page will contain a search box so that navigation by keyword searching is always available. For those who currently like the home page, an improved, alphabetized site index will be linked from each page. The site index will also provide information such as section location, grade level, and the number of pages for each topic.
  3. Less scrolling!
    Rationale and explanation: Some survey respondents felt that many pages required too much scrolling. Gamequarium users are “clickers” rather than “scrollers”! My goal is to keep page length to no more than 2 screens.
  4. A ratings system!
    Rationale and explanation: Teachers reported spending too much time searching through links looking for the highest quality activities. Each topic will have a “top picks” section clearly labeled. “Top picks” will be designated based on a combination of criteria including educational value, interactivity, and learning enjoyment.
  5. New topic pages!
    Rationale and explanation: There was an abundance of requests for additional topics. After all existing pages are updated and redesigned, I will begin to create pages for the requested topics.
  6. A back up site!
    Rationale and explanation: My current hosting company has recently had its servers hijacked by hackers on several occasions making Gamequarium unavailable for a period ranging from hours to a few days. Many survey respondents reported that they were lost without Gamequarium! Others reported slow loading pages due to high traffic at peak periods of the day. To address both of these problems, a back up site, with identical content, will be placed at I will not launch the back up site until the redesign is complete.
  7. New training videos and materials!
    Rationale and explanation: Staff development folks requested more materials to help introduce Gamequarium to the teachers they train and to share the benefits of using Gamequarium with administration. Teachers requested more materials to introduce the site to parents. I will be producing videos to meet each of these needs. The current PowerPoint and printable materials will be updated to reflect the changes to the site.
  8. A Gamequarium Store!
    Rationale and explanation: I am frequently asked to make apparel and other items bearing the Gamequarium logo available for purchase. I will soon be launching the Gamequarium Store for this purpose. A large portion of the proceeds will be used to fund the Gamequarium Education Foundation. More to come regarding the foundation!

What will remain the same?

  1. Gamequarium will remain a free resource!
    Rationale and explanation: It is my gift to the children and teachers of the world.
  2. All URLs (addresses) to individual pages will remain the same!
    Rationale and explanation: Many teacher reported bookmarks, shortcuts, webpage links, etc. to specific sections or pages of Gamequarium. To prevent lost pages, broken links, and annoying redirects, every page will maintain its current url.
  3. Some sections will remain unchanged at this time!
    Rationale and explanation: There are only 24 hours in a day! At this time the design of Readquarium, Gamequarium Junior, and Searchquarium will remain the same. I will continue to update these sections as time permits.

Your continued feedback is appreciated. Please contact me at .

Happy teaching and learning!


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Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Do we really need textbooks?

It is the time of year that many districts are looking to replace or update textbooks. Many districts feel the need to continue to purchase textbooks, but I think we have reached the point in education where we should start to question the automatic renewal of textbooks. With the increasing use of the Internet, many textbooks are merely being used as a reference.

Here are a few questions to consider before expending money on textbooks:

Is it a wise use of educational funding to have a collection of textbooks on a shelf when they are rarely used?

Could that money have a greater impact if it were used to purchase or renew educational technology equipment?

Is there a sufficient supply of trade books in the school/classroom for students to develop the skills needed to use books as a resource?

Does the Internet provide appropriate resources for a particular content area or can resources for that content area only be found in a book?

Would the funds have a greater impact if targeted for professional development to meet the needs of teachers who have not yet had benefit of learning to teach with the Internet?

Here are some articles providing insight into this topic:

If the decision is still to purchase textbooks, take a close look at the online support materials that the textbook company provides. Are they quality resources or merely paper-pencil type activities that have been published online? I ran across this resource that organizes and links many online textbook related resources to help you with the process of evaluation:

Happy teaching and learning!


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Sunday, April 22, 2007


Teaching, Learning, and Technology Quotations

Here is a collection of quotations about teaching, learning, and technology that I have compiled into a presentation. These quotations are meant to encourage reflection about instructional technology practices.


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Saturday, April 21, 2007


So am I really retiring?

This is a question that I have been asked many times. Some of you find it hard to believe that I will just be sitting in a beach chair sipping Daytona Tea and you are right:) I am retiring from the Public School Retirement System, but I will continue to work in the field of educational technology.

What will I be doing?

I will be finishing my dissertation. Now that I have retired, I will have more time to devote to it. I think you are supposed to graduate before you retire, but I don't always do things in sequential order:)

I will be continuing to work on making Gamequarium better than ever. It will be nice to have time to devote to it. I will also be developing other websites for teachers and students.

Vince Szewczyk, my dear friend and partner, and I have formed an educational consulting company called SqoolTechs. Of course the business name is an acronym! Sqool stands for Supporting Quality Online Opportunities for Learning. We will be working to develop SqoolTools, an online integrated instructional interface that combines the virtual learning environment known as Moodle with the Gamequarium database of interactive games and learning activities. We plan to offer Moodle hosting and technology and professional development services for districts, schools, and individual classrooms.

I do plan to spend more time with my family, and with my toes in the sand, sipping Daytona Tea! Stay tuned for much more!

Happy Teaching and Learning!


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Excerpts from my Retirement Speech

Many teachers who heard my retirement speech encouraged me to publish it online. The intent of the speech was to amuse, but most importantly, to inspire educators to make a difference. The acutal speech was quite lengthy, so I will publish only a few excerpts. There were also references that only teachers in the district understand, so I have removed those:

I struggled with what would be the best approach to take with this speech. So I decided to “differentiate instruction” so to speak.

For those of you who are fans of Madeline Hunter and direct instruction, here are the objectives for my speech:

The listener will be able to list important events of a 26 year teaching career.
The listener will be inspired to also retire.

For those of you who embrace inquiry based learning, the essential questions are:
How do you summarize or express what has been learned throughout a 26 year teaching career?
How can teachers retire early?

But I decided that neither one of those approaches was quite right so I became distracted and played around at Youtube for a while and I ran across Father Guido Sarducci’s 5-minute University. How many of you are familiar with the 5-minute University? For those of you are not, he teaches what an average college graduate knows after five years from graduation in five minutes. For example, in his economics class he teaches "supply and demand." In his business course, he teaches "buy something and sell it for more." In his Spanish class, he teaches "Como esta usted and muy bien." So you get the idea.

Some of you may have heard that I am engaging in a new business venture, but what you don’t know is that it is called Diana Dell’s 4 minute Teacher Academy. I teach everything you will remember after a 26 year teaching career. I figure if Guido can do it in 5 minutes, I should be able to do it in 4 minutes because I will be integrating technology.

So here are the courses and the content for the 4 minute Teacher Academy:

Classroom Management- First, you have to get their attention
Curriculum: Don’t worry about it. The government will tell you what to teach.
Surviving Staff Meeting: Nod and smile, but not too much or they will think you are volunteering for something.
Higher-Level thinking: Ask questions!
Technology Integration: Use the Internet and fill out a work order when something doesn’t work.
Dealing with Stress: Eat chocolate!
Dealing with Parents: Realize that they always do the best they can.
Keeping up with change: Don’t fight it. Just do it!

Then it is time for spring break. In Missouri that often means an opportunity to study enology at a nearby winery. In the 4 minute Teacher Academy, there is no time for that so you just get to enjoy a quick glass of wine at a local happy hour establishment.

So I am thinking I am doing pretty well with my courses and content… then it hit me that I needed a course on acronyms used in education and that blew the whole idea of a four minute teacher academy right out of the water. It occurred to me that mastering educational acronyms could take years!

So I started listing them. How many of these acronyms do you know? Just shout out what these stand for.

Moodle- Modular Object Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment
eMINTS- enhancing Missouri's Instructional Networked Teaching Strategies
PD4ETS- Professional Development for Educational Technology Specialist
SIS- School Information Systems
HH- Happy Hour
PSRS- Public School Retirement System

It occurred to me the changes that have taken place in acronyms over the course of my teaching career.

When I first start teaching, we called kids who had trouble paying attention, "Kids who had trouble paying attention." That changed to ADD and then to ADHD.

When I first start teaching, we called kids who couldn’t speak English, "Kids who couldn’t speak Englsh." then they became ESL students, then ELL and now ESOL.

When I first started teaching we had the BEST (Basic Essential Skills Test) test. If we had the best, why on earth did we change it to the MAP (Missouri Assessment Program)?

If you know me well, you know that I love words and I have been known to make up a few acronyms of my own. You also know that I am a natural integrator. If you combine my love of inquiry based learning and acronyms you can generate some interesting questions. For example:
Does NCLB cause ADD in teachers?

Does using Moodle in an eMINTS classroom reduce the impact of ADHD, increase MAP scores and help districts meet AYP?

If you call the PSRS from HH will they raise your monthly benefit amount?

So I think I now have the content for the educational acronyms course in the 4-minute teacher academy….. DBIBA… Don’t Be Intimidated by Acronyms

Changes in acronyms are not the only changes that I have seen in education after 26 years.

Recently the eMINTS National Center referred a reporter to me who was writing an article about the impact of educational, online games in education.

When the reporter called to interview me, Vince (Director of Technology) and I were in my training room working on the Year 2 eMINTS grant application.

The reporter asked me many questions about my website, Gamequarium, and how teachers are using educational online games in their classrooms. Then she asked me how I got started using games with students. I talked about my first home computer: The TI 994A. Maybe you remember these? Programs were loaded by connecting a cassette tape recorder to the computer. I created my first game to help my sixth grade class learn states and capitals during my first year as a teacher. When I told my administrator about what I created and that I wanted to put my own personal computer in my classroom so that students could use it, I was told that playing on computers was not allowed during instructional time. I was given permission to have it in my classroom during the last week of school for a reward.

When the interview was over, Vince said, “You need to stop telling that story about the computer and the cassette tape. You are really dating yourself.”

So later that week, the reporter sent me the preliminary copy of the article so I could check it for accuracy. One line in the article reads,

“Diana Dell started using computer-based games so long ago the game was on a cassette and she had to have permission to use it as a reward during the last week of classes.”

Okay, so Vince was right….. for once:) But has anyone noticed that at the ripe old age of 48, I am the youngest retiree here this evening? Do I get an award for that?

The excitement and the engagement that I saw in my students when I took my TI 94A into my classroom hooked me on instructional technology during my very first year of teaching and it continues to excite me and keep up nights thinking even today. The possibilities of technology in education continue to increase exponentially.

When I learned to design web pages, I gained a voice in the world of education. Many of you know about my hobby of creating educational websites. Gamequarium, the most well known of my sites, a portal to online learning games and activities, was created to complete an assignment for my introduction to web design class. Gamequarium became a labor of love and I continued to expand and develop it. As near as Google and I can figure, Gamequarium is being used in about 50,000 classrooms around the world. It is currently receiving about 175,000 page views a day. I receive emails from teachers, parents, and students around the world each day. It is truly amazing to me that a country girl with very humble beginnings in Leslie, MO, with a love for teaching and learning, has been able to impact the educational community in this way. That is the power of technology.

My mission is simple and my vision is clear:

It is truly a great time to be a teacher. All the world's knowledge is at our fingertips. We merely need to guide our students in asking the right questions. We are on the verge of something great in education and the Valley Park School District is poised to lead the way. There are many people to thank for making Valley Park a leader in educational technology, not only in the state, but also in the country. Dennis Lea’s vision to make technology and the eMINTS program a priority at Valley Park has sustained this district during the past three years since he retired. However, no one has done more to impact technology at Valley Park than my dear friend and partner, Vince Szewczyk. During the past 8 years he has built the infrastructure, installed and maintained the computers, software, the SMART Boards and all of the other technology equipment that our district has been blessed with, much of it with his own hands.

It is my hope that VP continues to do great things regarding technology integration. The best way to do that is to maintain an association with the eMINTS National Center and to continue to employ a Certified eMINTS Instructional Specialist.

Some of my family is here with me this evening to celebrate my career as a public educator. Yes, I know that we almost fill an entire table. We are from the country where big families are still common. We are trying to populate our community. We even left a few of them at home. If we had brought Bella, she would have been the entertainment for the evening! No matter what else I accomplish, my family is the most important thing in my life. David and I will celebrate the 33rd anniversary of our first date next week and our 30th year of marriage this summer. I will do the math for you. I met him when I was 14 on my first day of high school, we went on our first date when I was 15, and we got married when I was 18. Our first child was born when I was 20. Our last child was born when I was 32. So is there a reason I haven’t quite finished school and my dissertation is still a work in progress? It is amazing to realize that David came into my life even before computers with cassette tapes!

Many times I am ask how am I able to do so many things and why I usually have a smile on my face. The answer to both questions is David Dell. He is the secret to my success. He has been my cheerleader and my greatest supporter in everything that I have ever attempted. He is always there to celebrate my successes, to pick me up when I fall, and to rub my feet at the end of a long day. David, I love you.

To my children, Davina, Shanee, Davney, and Drew, thank you for all the times you let me drag you to whatever school I was teaching at on the weekends, for being my page flipper when I had papers to grade, and for understanding that sometimes other kids or teachers needed me more than you did. I love you all. You are all my favorites.

I have been blessed not only at home, but also here at Valley Park. How fortunate I am to have the opportunity to work with Vince Szewczyk. We have spent hour after hour, evening after evening sitting next to each other writing grants, and tech plans, and completing the mountain of paperwork for the technology department and we have managed to laugh our way through most of it. Vince, thank you for being the best partner and dearest friend that anyone could ask for.

There are so many teachers with whom I have had the opportunity to work and learn. Thank you for welcoming me into your classrooms and into your lives.

To the custodial staff who always smile and tidy my room after my eMINTS sessions end late in the evenings. To our food service workers who make the most wonderful cookies. To the secretaries in all of the building offices and the Central Office gang, you have all touched my life and brightened my days.

To the school board, thank you for all you do for children and for making technology a priority and for continuing to do so.

I will be retiring under the HSA retirement plan:


And I have one more course for the 4 minute teacher academy:

How to retire early: Never stop learning, never stop sharing, never stop loving, and never stop laughing. Invest in beach front real estate and find a hobby that you love that makes the world a better place. Dream big, work hard, love much, laugh often, learn daily and always do the right thing. Then, even if your dreams don't come true, you will still have a wonderful life.

I am off to enjoy the next part of my journey through my wonderful life but I will always remember all of the wonderful friends and great times I had at VP.

Hugs to all!


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Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Resources Shared at METC 2007

Thanks for attending Reading and Technology: Make the Connection at METC 2007! Here is a link to all of the materials that were on the CDs that I gave out:

Please share the resources with your colleagues. Knowledge is wasted unless it is shared!

If you have question or need additional resources, please email me at .

Happy learning!


Monday, February 19, 2007


Improved Treasure Hunt Format

Have you found yourself with one or more of these instructional dilemmas?

Perhaps a revised treasure hunt is the solution. The revised treasure hunt model was developed by Regina Royer and Patricia Richards from the Salisbury University in Maryland. The model was presented in the article, “Treasure Hunts for Better Reading,” that appeared in the November, 2005 issue of Learning and Leading with Technology. I have summarized the article below. The orginal article can be viewed by ISTE members at:

Royer and Richards have revised the traditional treasure hunt model based on the ideas presented by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe in their book Understanding by Design (1998) and the recommendations for reading comprehension instruction presented in the National Reading Panel Report (2000). The result is a format that begins with a statement of understanding, provides opportunities to answer higher-level questions related to that statement, and ends with a performance task that allows students to demonstrate their understanding.

Four Section of the Revised Model

The revised treasure hunt model consists of the following four sections: understanding statement, introduction, questions, and putting it all together. Each of these sections is described below.

Understanding Statement:

An understanding statement is explicitly stated at the beginning of the treasure hunt. The purpose of this statement is to guide students in knowing what they are expected to understand at the completion of the activity. The statement should be narrow enough to be adequately investigated within the framework of the treasure hunt. Keep in mind that an enduring understanding is a statement the students should be able to make after completing the activity.


The introduction has a dual purpose. As in a WebQuest, the introduction should hook the students and motivate them to engage in the activity. This can be achieved by making connections to something relevant in their lives. In addition, the introduction should include directions for the student to complete the activity.

Next, students are presented with a series of questions that relate to the understanding statement and can be answered by reading the websites provided. The questions can be separated into three distinct categories: QAR, Visual Analysis, and Metacognition. It is important to pose only questions that require students to identify, interpret, and analyze the information as it relates to the understanding statement.

The Question/ Answer/Relationship (QAR) method is recommended to design the series of questions. Each question should be labeled to indicate the type of QAR question. Here is a brief description of the types of questions of the QAR method:

If this approach is new to you and/or your students, review the chart on the following site:

Visual Analysis:
Visual literacy is rapidly becoming just as important as text-based literacy. For this reason, at least one question should be included that focuses on a visual image. If possible, students should be asked to compare or contrast the image with their own mental image of the information presented.

Engaging students in the process of metacognition has been shown to improve comprehension. Therefore, the final question should ask students to record the questions they still have about the understanding statement. This requires students to think about what they have been reading and learning. Students should be encouraged to seek answers to their own questions.

Putting It All Together:

The final section of the revise model assigns an end product or task that requires students to apply what they have learned. This should be performance-based and provide evidence that students comprehend the understanding statement.

Implementation Strategies:

When beginning a treasure hunt, it is important to preview it with students. This will give students the opportunity to active prior knowledge and to ask clarifying questions about the procedure for completion. The following steps can serve as a guide for introducing the activity to students:

  1. Establish collaborative groups and specify cooperative structures students should use to interact with others.
  2. Set the purpose for reading through the presentation and of the understanding statement and the introduction.
  3. Preview the linked web sites as you point out navigational features and draw attention to key images. Draw attention to websites that can be used to answer more than one question.
  4. Review the types of questions in the QAR approach and indicate how the type of question provides clues as to how it will be answered. Discuss fix-it-up strategies that should be used when text is not understood.
  5. Preview the questions and the assigned task. Provide opportunities for students ask clarifying questions before they begin.
  6. At the completion of the task, allow students to share the results of the performance task with other students.

Procedure for Developing a Treasure Hunt using this Model:

1. Select a topic for study that supports the curriculum and lends itself to study using Internet resource. Develop the understanding statement. Keep in mind that this is a statement you expect the students will be able to make after completing the activity. The statement should be narrow enough to be adequately investigated with the activity.

2. Design the end product or task. How will students demonstrate their understanding? Focus on a task that requires that student apply what they have learned as a result of engaging in the activity.

3. Choose grade-appropriate web pages that provide information on the given topic. Keep in mind that readability is important. The web pages selected should be on or below the instructional reading level or at the independent reading level of the students.

4. Using the understanding statement as a guide, develop questions that both addresses what students are expected to understand when they complete the treasure hunt and can be answered by reading the Web sites provided. Be sure to include QAR-type questions with appropriate labels with one question that requires visual analysis. End with a question that promotes metacognition by asking students to pose questions and seek answers to clarify their thinking.

5. Write a motivating, engaging, relevant introduction.

Revising Existing Treasure Hunts:

Since this is a relatively new model, I was only able to locate one example, created by Jeff and Regina Royer, that has been published online. The example, however, is missing the QAR labels.

The lack of examples should not deter you from attempting to use this model with students. Start with a traditional treasure hunt and modify it to meet the specifications of this model. If you do so, obtain permission from the creator of the original treasure hunt. These resources maybe beneficial in locating a treasure hunt to revise:

Where to go from here?

A web-based format that integrates Internet resources, while addressing the GLEs and providing instruction in reading comprehension is much needed. I am continuing to explore ways to improve this model and will share my ideas in this blog.


Sunday, February 11, 2007


METC 2007: Reading and Technology


Meet me in St. Louis on February 28th at the Midwest Educational Technology Conference for a presentation entitled Reading and Technology: Make the Connection. Attend this workshop to learn about the critical components of reading instruction and to discover why today's educators must integrate interactive technologies into reading instruction. I have correlated hundreds of Internet resources and technology applications that address the National Reading Panel recommendations in the areas of phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.

This is an update to the presentation that I gave at MITC 2006. I have added many additional resources. You will receive a CD with many files that can be used immediately in your classroom.

Handouts can be downloaded from:

See you soon!


Saturday, November 04, 2006


Searchquarium is online!

Searchquarium has been launched! It is a collection of custom educational search engines where teachers, parents, and students can search for high quality educational resources. I will continually work to improve the search results.

You can contribute high quality websites to include in the search results by submitting this online form.


Friday, October 27, 2006


Custom Search Engines for Teachers and Students

Many of you know my goal is to organize the Internet for teachers andstudents. I have discovered a tool that is helping me with that goal! I have been working on creating custom search engines using the Google’sCo-Op Tool (still in beta) for specific grade levels and subject areas. The Co-Op Tool allows for the specification of sites that are included in the search results.

Below are the grade levels, subject areas, and topics for which I am building custom search engines. My goal is to build 10 (or so:) “ultimate” search engines for each of these areas by including only the best websites for each category. By carefully selecting the sites to include and adding refinement tags, these search engines will allow teachers to more easily find high quality Internet resources. In addition, these custom search engines will provide safe places for students to search.

Grade levels:
Pre-K – Grade 2
Grades 3-6
Grades 6-8
Grades 9-12

Subject areas:
Social Studies

Online Teacher Tools
Interactive Whiteboard Resources

What do I need from you? If you know of high quality sites that should be included in one of the custom search engines, please send it to me ( ). I will be making these search engines available to everyone. I hope to post them this weekend and continue to refine and customize them over time.

Thanks in advance for your time and contribution!

Diana Dell
Gamequarium Webmaster


Resources Shared at MITC

MITC Attendees,

Thanks for your attendance at my session at MITC. As promised, here are the resources that I provided on the CD....(and a few more:)

If you have questions, comments, or need resources for a particular topic, please feel free to email me. I read and respond to all of the emails that I receive and look forward to hearing from you.

Happy Learning!


Gamequarium is a portal to online, educational, interactive games and learning activities. The term "portal" is synonymous with "doorway." The purpose of Gamequarium is to provide a doorway to the Internet for teachers, parents, and students who are seeking interactive, instructional online resources.

This is a section of Gamequarium devoted to literacy. Find numerous online resources correlated to the National Reading Panel's 5 key areas of reading instruction.

Sites to Review
Additional sites about reading instruction and technology integration:
National Reading Panel
Online Talking Books
Technology's Impact on Learning
Marc Prensky
Reading Key Vocabulary Program

See sample projects below:
PowerPoint to aid Vocabulary Development
PowerPoint to aid Fluency Development

Here are links and information to a few of the game creation tools I was asked about:

Make Games Customized to Your Curriculum
Quia Handout Created for Valley Park Teachers
Note: These handouts were created for Valley Park Teachers. You will need to modify the location of where the files are saved.
Interactive Tutorial
Spellmaster Handout

My eCoach This site has many reading resources. It also feature builders that allow teachers to create web-based activities.

Sample projects and templates created using software found in most schools:

Nifty Thrifty Fifty Resources

Example/Templates of Graphic Organizer that can be created with Inspiration:
Character Analysis
Literary Analysis
Vocabulary Mapping

Example/Templates of reading projects created with PowerPoint
Non-Linear Book Talk
Book Comparison
Book Report
Story Elements

Example with Excel
Portable Word Wall

Fluency Center with Sound Recorder

Check out more reading goodies

Handouts and presentations that can be used to share information about these resources with parents and teachers:

Reading and Technology: Make the Connection-
PowerPoint Presentation
Handout (pdf)

Sharing Information about Gamequarium-
PowerPoint presentation
Handout for teachers (pdf)
Handout for parents (pdf)

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Reading and Technology: Make the Connection

I will be presesnting a session about reading and technology at the Morenet Instructional Technology Conference, Monday, October 23 at Tan-Tar-A in Osage Beach, MO.

Attend this workshop to learn about the critical components of reading instruction and to discover why today's educators must integrate interactive technologies into reading instruction. I have correlated a multitude of Internet resources and technology applications that address the National Reading Panel recommendations in the areas of phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. This presentation will be held in a lab so you will have an opportunity to explore these resources.

This is an update to the presentation that I gave at the 2006 Midwest Educational Technology Conference (METC) in January. I have added many additional resources.



Algebra Sites

As a result of the user survey that was posted recently, I added 12 pages of interactive algebra activities. The survey revealed that many middle and high school students use Gamequarium in a variety of ways. Numerous requests have come my way for resources to meet the learning needs of these more advanced students.

The Algebra topics covered include:


I will continue to expand the algebra pages and add additional topic for middle and high school students as my time permits. If you are aware of any wonderful interactive resources, please send them my way.


Sunday, July 02, 2006


Gamequarium Computer Lab

Today I added the Gamequarium Computer Lab to the suite of educational websites provided through Gamequarium. It is designed to allow students and teachers quick and easy access to the best educational resources on the web. It serves as a portal to a large variety of integrated resources, tools, informational, instructional and interactive materials through a single location. The resources chosen are those that are most appropriate for use in an elementary computer lab.

Why is the Gamequarium Computer Lab needed?

How can teachers and school provide easy student access to the Gamequarium Computer Lab?

To provide easy access to students, I recommend one of the following methods:

Questions or comments about using the Gamequarium Computer Lab? Send an email to Diana: .

Friday, May 19, 2006


Hink Pinks: A Fun Vocabulary Lesson

Here is a fun vocabulary lesson to keep students thinking and learning up to the last day of school!

Hink pinks are one-syllable words that rhyme; hinky pinkies are two-syllable words that rhyme; hinkety pinketies are three-syllable words that rhyme.


"through riddles children gather and interpret data, make inferences, and draw conclusions. When provided with the riddle's solution, they interpret this new information, construct meanings to clarify and extend knowledge, and gain insight into the essence of these brief puzzles as well as their own learning" (Reading Teacher, 1996, v49, n8, w66-68. Buchoff, Rita. Riddles: Fun With Language Across the Curriculum)

Technology Integration Ideas:
-A class ebook (using ppt) of student created hink pinks, published on the web
-A weekly podcast of student created hink pinks with the solutions provided a week later
-Online communication between classes (or schools) using blogs, Moodle, Nicenet etc...Can you solve our hink pinks?
-An online project to collect student created hink pinks from around the world
-Have students create and illustrate their hink pinks using Paint

Have students practice solving hink pinks and then have them create their own. I have compiled some interactive sites and resources to help you get started:


Monday, February 20, 2006


Automaticity and the Nifty Thrifty Fifty

Today I created and posted resources to help students learn the Nifty Thrifty Fifty words. The Nifty Thrifty Fifty word list contains common roots, prefixes and suffixes. When students master the spelling patterns and meanings of these words, they can apply that knowledge to help them to spell and build meaning for other polysyllabic words. These resources can be found at:

In addition to the interactive games, I also created and posted two self-running PowerPoints to help students achieve automaticity of the Nifty Thrifty 50 Words. Automaticity is the ability to effortlessly complete a task with without thinking about it. When the brain recognizes a familiar task, such as reading a word, it automatically processes the information and applies what it has previously learned. This reduces the demand on memory and allows for higher order thinking. These presentations can be download using the links below:

Nifty Thrifty 50 PowerPoint (Beginner)
Nifty Thrifty 50 PowerPoint (Speed Challenge)


Saturday, February 11, 2006


Why Teach with Games and the Internet?

Many educators view the Internet and multimedia technology as factors contributing to a reduction in the amount of time children are engaged in traditional learning. I say, "Get over it!" Teaching in the Information Age requires that educators modify their view and transform their instructional practices to utilize technology’s power to improve the learning process for students. Today’s students need to be guided in developing the ability to make use of the Internet and multimedia technology to increase critical literacy skills and essential knowledge.

Marc Prensky refers to today's students as "Digital Natives." Today’s students think and process information fundamentally differently because different kinds of experiences lead to different brain structures. In fact, evidence indicates that our students’ brains have physically changed. Record numbers of children are being diagnosed with attention deficient disorder, but is that a valid diagnosis? Prensky has identified several characteristics of digital natives that all educators must understand in order to be successful with today's students.

Digital Natives:
-are used to receiving information really fast
-like to parallel process and multi-task
-prefer their graphics before their text rather than the opposite
-prefer random access (like hypertext)
-thrive on instant gratification and frequent rewards
-prefer games to “serious” work

Prensky poses the following questions:
-Is it that Digital Natives can’t pay attention, or that they choose not to?
-Should the Digital Native students learn the old ways, or should their Digital Immigrant educators learn the new?

Digital Natives are engaged by the Internet and multimedia technology. It is in the best interest of today's students that Digital Immigrant (and Digital Alien!) educators learn to teach with these tools. Gamequarium is a valuable tool for teachers who already get it and for those who are still trying to get over it.

Need help getting over it or helping other educators get over it? Consider this information:

-Even today, “practice makes perfect.” Most student don’t like to practice. The Internet and games can capture student attention, engage them in learning, and make practice happen.
-The Internet and multimedia technology deliver challenging visual and spatial tasks which serve to organize information and develop logical thinking can graphically illustrate many concepts thereby making abstract ideas concrete.
-Online educational games challenge fine motor coordination while developing logical thinking skills and mastery.
-Interactive games allow learners to construct new understandings on many different levels through seeing and hearing.
-The Internet and online technology offers tools for thinking more deeply, pursuing curiosity, and exploring and expanding intelligence as learners build "mental models" with which they can visualize connections between ideas on any topic.
-Teaching with Internet technology and online games allows educators to better meet the needs of students with diverse abilities while at the same time increasing motivation of all students.

What about teaching students to read and write? Reading and writing are more important today than ever before. With email, instant messaging, text messaging, the ease of web publishing and the like, digital communication is now standard practice. The Internet can provide authentic experiences for students to engage in digital reading and writing. How can the Internet and online games be used to teach students to read and write? Check out Readquarium, the section of Gamequarium devoted to developing literacy skills. Readquarium is arranged based on the five crucial components identified by the National Reading Panel.

As an educator of 25 years (23 years as a classroom teacher!), mother of four, and grandmother of one, I understand the many demands that are placed on teachers, parents, and schools. Teachers, parents, and schools need as much help as possible in preparing our children to be the future leaders of the world. My mission is to organize the Internet for teachers, parents, and students and to contribute to the change that must take place in the way that our students are educated. Gamequarium provides an easy to navigate portal to the world of online learning. There is no charge for using Gamequarium, and there never will be. Gamequarium is my gift to children of the world. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 05, 2006


METC Presentation Handouts

Looking for the handouts from the presentations that I gave at the 2006 Midwest Educational Technology Conference (METC)?

Reading and Technology
Diana Dell, Instructional Technology Specialist
Description:Today’s educators must utilize technology’s power to improve student reading ability as mandated by NCLB. Technology allows educators to meet diverse student needs and increase motivation of all students. Attend this workshop to discover Internet resources that address the National Reading Panel recommendations in the areas of phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.

Moodling with Mark Twain
Diana Dell, Instructional Technology Specialist
Noreen Krebs, Library Media Specialist
Description: See how the Valley Park School District promotes reading of the Mark Twain Nominee books by engaging students in online discussions of books using free learning management systems such as Moodle and Nicenet. You will view actual book discussions and be provided step by step instructions for beginning this project with your students.

Lights, Camera, Curriculum
Diana Dell, Instructional Technology Specialist
Trish Alexander, eMINTS Teacher
Description: Learn to enhance curriculum by using cable programming, United Streaming, hypermedia, digital video and photography. Participants will have a hands-on experience with Windows Movie Maker 2. Participants will view student samples of projects and see the impact of visual literacy in the curriculum. Visit Valley Park School District and see how teachers utilize digital storytelling in their classroom.

Handhelds for Beginners
Diana Dell, Instructional Technology Specialist
Greg Jones, Communication Arts Teacher
Description: Considering taking the leap into handheld computing? This session provides the absolute beginner with a hands-on introduction to handhelds and the Palm OS. An overview of handheld use in education will be provided. Learn about many sources of free software that can be downloaded from the Internet.

Friday, December 30, 2005


Gamequarium Undergoes a Major Revision

I am in the process of redesigning the start page of Gamequarium. The redesign will allow for easier navigation directly to the desired page. In addition, new sections have been added (or will soon be added) of interest to parents, teachers, and students. The new sections include:

Reference for Kids
For Parents
For Teachers
Technology Tutorials
Freeware/Shareware Downloads

For all the fans of the Gamequarium Classic Page, a link will be provided so that you can enter the site through that page.

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