Thursday, December 31, 2009

Online History Textbook for Kids

Kids Past is an online textbook geared towards upper elementary and middle school students. It is very interactive and there are a lot of good pictures. Also, the site includes "historical facts" alongside narrative text. This could prove to be a powerful modification tool for students with special needs. I also liked the games provided through the site. I think students would find them very motivating. I'm wondering if this will be the first of MANY online textbooks!?!?!?!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Joyce Valenza's Wiki

Joyce Valenza (a fellow Google Certified Teacher) has created a wonderful resource for Web 2.0 tools. It is the New Tools Wiki, and my favorite part of the site is the glog on the homepage (embedded above). It shows a variety of small tools (linked to information of course!) and it encourages layering them together. I think that this is a great piece to consider. Sometimes when we teach or learn about new technology, it is hard to visualize how different services could be used in tandem to create your lesson. I highly suggest checking it out. Great job Joyce!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Evaluate with the Thinkmeter

Do you have students rate books after they read them? Or maybe you want them to collect information about a variety of topics or products to determine which one is most appropriate. I just tried Thinkmeter for this purpose and I really liked it! You do need an email to use the free service, but you do not need to create a log in. (You CAN create a free log in if you'd like to save and edit all of your work.) Students can vote, rate, and provide feedback. You can also enter an amazon link for a book to instantly embed a summary and visual of the book or item. Let me know what you think!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Jump Cut: Copy, Copy, Copy, then PASTE!

Jump Cut is a killer productivity tool for MACS only. (Sorry PC folks!) This quick, free download allows you to copy multiple items from a page and then paste those items into a new location. It greatly reduces the number of toggles that you need to do when you are copying and pasting several different pieces of information. I've had it downloaded on my computer for about 2 weeks, and I cannot live without it now. I highly recommend it!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Victory with Prezi!

I just created a PREZI about PSSA Accommodations. I've embedded it below. Here is what I really liked about using PREZI (It's free.):
  • You can create your presentations in a non-linear fashion
  • You can zoom out so that your participants can see the "big pictures" as well as "little pieces" of information
  • The zooming features are interesting
  • You can upload .pdfs and .flvs to embed multimedia or other documents
  • It is embeddable and sharable (Eliminating the need for all those messy handouts!)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Spreadsheets, spreadsheets, spreadsheets!

I LOVE spreadsheets. (Well, most of the time I do!) Kern Kelly, one of the lead learners from my experience at Google Teacher Academy in Washington, DC, published a great blog entry with spreadsheet templates for educators. Many of them will make life easier for both you and your students. It includes book logging templates, flash card templates, and many more. Check it out here!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas, PLN!

As I take time to celebrate the holidays with family and friends today, I would like to take a moment to thank my Professional Learning Network. You folks are always there (day and night) to keep me fresh and push my learning limits. Thank you!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Holiday Spirit: Put Rudolph Back Together

I hope that everyone is enjoying a lovely holiday season. As you spend some time with friends and family, try this fun activity. You put Rudolph back together. Enough said. I'm off to decorate and bake. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Winter Wonderland Wiki Kindergarten Submission

My FAVORITE kindergarten teacher in the world has just published her submission for the Winter Wonderland Wiki. (For more information on that project, click here.) Her students used a SmartBoard for Kidwriting, and then they used flip cams to explain their stories. Check out the entire project HERE. For me, the best part are the parent comments that were added underneath each of the pictures. Talk about good motivation! Enjoy, and happy holidays!

iPod Touches: Please help!

Hi everyone, I am looking for information about iPod touches for students with special needs. Please, please please (Did I say please?) complete the form below to help me make a case iPod touches!! (Click here to access the form if the embedded form is not visible to you.) Thank you!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Visible Tweets

When I present to students or other teachers, I often use twitter hashtags for a backchannel. Sometimes people that are unfamiliar with twitter "miss out" on this backchannel discussion. The site Visible Tweets can help you make the twitter discussion transparent for all participants. It presents tweets associated with a hashtag in a visually appealing way. I set it up as a separate projector that runs during the entire presentation. Not only does it reinforce the notion that the participants are an integral component of every presentation, but it also piques the interest of those not involved with twitter. The site does not filter inappropriate content, so be aware of that if you use it with students.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Augmented Reality: You Have to See This

One of my fellow GCTs presented this tool and this site during our GTA SMACKDOWN of interesting applications.

Here is the link: http://ge.ecomagination.com/smartgrid/#/augmented_reality

Go to the link, print out the page, and hold it up to your webcam input. You will be amazed.

Does this have any educational value? Let me know what you think in the comments!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Just Announced: Google Academy for Administrators

As you know, I just returned from Google Teacher Academy two weeks ago. It was a fantastic experience. (For more about that, read my posts here and here.) Well, Google just announced that they are planning a Google Academy for Administrators. This is a great FREE opportunity for administrators everywhere! Convince your administrators to give it a try. They won't regret it! Thinking of applying? Here are my tips:
  • Be VERY original with your video. I really "went out on a limb" with my video and it payed off!
  • Be yourself. Google wants to hear your personality and passion through the application.
  • Keep trying if you don't get in the first time.
  • Have fun when you're applying. If you're not having fun, what's the point?
Good luck!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Google Search Stories

Are you teaching the power of Google Search to your students? Check out Google Search Stories. They show many different aspects of the features in Google Search and the stories are very entertaining. All of the videos are available here. See my favorite example below:

Friday, December 18, 2009

Professional Learning Communities by Rick DuFour

Rick and Becky DuFour hosted a fantastic webinar two days ago on PLCs.

The entire webinar is based on this quote:
“The most promising strategy for sustained, substantive school improvement is building the capacity of school personnel to function as a professional learning community. The path to change in the classroom lies within and through professional learning communities.”
I highly recommend watching the recorded version of the webinar here. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Create Music with Tempo: iNudge

Whether sensory integration is a goal for your students or you are a music teacher, iNudge may be a useful classroom resource for you. Students can create different musical patterns by selected boxes in a matrix. Students can select the instrument that plays their song as well as the tempo of their song. (I bet math teachers could have a field day with the numerical applications as well!) I think it is a great way to explore with sound. It would also work well on the SmartBoard. It's really easy and no sign-up is needed. Give it a shot!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Whoa! SmartBoard Resources

Do you have a SmartBoard? Then you MUST check out Wichita Public School District's collection of Smart notebook files. They are well organized and very robust. Further, they have lessons for Everyday Math (I'm talking morning message, specific lessons, etc..... you name it!). It's awesome. I suggest checking it out today. I should also note that there is also a message that states that access to some of the files may be disappearing soon, so hurry! I hope this helps!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Amazing Technical Support from Glogster

As you know, I am a big fan of Glogster. To learn more about Glogster, read my post here. I use Glogster for a lot of different tasks, including student projects and website "decorations." On Friday, I started having trouble with my account. I could not edit any of my glogs and all of my glogs turned black when I clicked on them. Needless to say, I was sad and frustrated. However, I DM'd Andrew Connolly on Twitter. He got back to me THE SAME DAY (and he was even traveling)! Andrew followed up with me yesterday and he fixed my service. Everything is working great now! Let it be known that they did not pay me to write this. (I am not even a premium customer. I just have a free account!) I am simply a very satisfied user that wanted to spread the word about a great service!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Schedule a Meeting Quickly and Easily

Due to the nature of my job, I am constantly trying to schedule meetings with very busy people. It is often difficult to coordinate all of the individuals with whom I must collaborate. I have tried When is Good and I really liked it. I initiate the process by selecting some times that are good for me, then I email the link to all involved parties. There is no sign up needed which is especially helpful. Everyone selects the times that are good for them, and then I select the final meeting time and communicate it to the meeting members. It prevents A LOT of emails and it saves me a lot of time. Give it a try today!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Map it!

Have you ever wanted to create a crowd sourced map that did not require sign-ins or registrations? Try Map A List this site allows you to create a map from a Google Form that you generate. Since all of the input comes from a Google Form, you do not need sign ins or editing accounts for your students. Here are some ideas that I brainstormed for this tool:
  • Create a form that includes location for your current events. Your class' current events will be displayed on an interactive map that you can review in class.
  • As a writing assignment, have students complete a form that describes their favorite place. All students' favorite places will be displayed on an interactive map that you can share.
  • Facts or quotes within books that move around could be shared this way. Then students could review different events in the book by using the interactive map.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Did you know? Google Search Tips

Ok, ok, just a few more Google posts! Did you know these 5 things about google search?
  • Control + F will help you find any word on any webpage or search result?
  • Google now searches real time information such as twitter posts and facebook updates?
  • The search options area for images allows you to select the COLOR of the results you want?
  • Google personalized search allows you to create your own search engine for students to use that is customized to only search sites you specify?
  • Google News Archive Search can show you the number of articles on a particular topic by year in a TIMELINE?
These quick tips have really improved by search capabilities in Google. I hope they help you too!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Google Teacher Academy: Day Two

From Google Teacher Academy
Google Teacher Academy Day 2 was a whirlwind morning of discussion, collaboration, and SMACKDOWN! It was great to connect with all of the wonderful educators at Google Teacher Academy. Everyone in the group was so energetic, dedicated, and knowledgeable.

Here are a few of my favorite "takeaways" from the day:
  • The operator "unique" can be really helpful when reorganizing data from a multiple page form in Google Docs.
  • A "SMACKDOWN" is a fun way to share new apps and sites. You allow people to share their favorites sites on a wiki or shared document and then give them 2 minutes to demo it. Each person tries to out-do the next!
  • Merging tracks in Audacity is a good way to get around the "single audio track" feature in Photostory or Windows Movie Maker.
I am excited to continue learning with the new members of my PLN virtually. Tomorrow? It's back to work! Yipee, I cannot wait! I have so much new learning to share!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Google Teacher Academy: An Amazing Day

Well, I am now officially a Google Certified Teacher. I'm amazed. I'm enlightened. I'm utterly exhausted. Spending the day with such an amazing group of people has truly revitalized many aspects of my practices and paradigms. Realizations from the day:
  • Something Exciting: I have joined an amazing group of educators through GCT.
  • Something Scary: I don't even know what I don't know!
  • Something Beautiful: The new GCT teachers reach approximately 3.9 MILLION students.
  • Something SO TRUE: "When in doubt, search it out!" ~Dan Russell

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Interactive Whiteboard Application that Uses Sharing

Want to draw with your friends? Try Imagination Cubed! There is no sign up needed. You and your friends can start collaborating with "ink" by simply sending around a link. (It really reminds me of Etherpad for drawing in a lot of ways.) The interface is relatively easy to use. There aren't that many features, but that is a GOOD thing when you are trying to share with many people of varying technology levels. GE funds the project. It is very SmartBoard friendly. I highly recommend it!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Make a Flake: Assisting Motor Skills

Are you "walking in a winter wonderland" this time of year? If you work with students that need help with fine and gross motor skills, this site may be helpful to you. Titled "Make a Flake," this site helps students create a snowflake using computerized scissors. I think it would be a wonderful activity to do on the SmartBoard with students that have fine and gross motor issues. You could even use the site to prepare students to cut their own snowflake. I hope this helps!

Monday, December 7, 2009

HippoCampus: Free Online Course Content for High School Students

HippoCampus is a free site that provides course content to high school students. Here is how the site describes itself:
HippoCampus is a project of the Monterey Institute for Technology and Education (MITE). The goal of HippoCampus is to provide high-quality, multimedia content on general education subjects to high school and college students free of charge.
The site is rather comprehensive, and it uses many good advance organizers and graphics to supplement its step-by-step learning approach. If you are a high school teacher, it could prove as a powerful classroom or remedial resource. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Assessing Internet Sources: Webpages as Graphs

In today's learning environment, teachers must help students evaluate and identify the content available on a variety of websites. While there is no easy way to do this, I have found a tool that could be helpful. Webpages as Graphs creates an interactive "node map" of whatever web address you input. It shows you if the site is mostly composed of links, graphs, tables, or text. It also shows you how the different pages are connected to each other. This could help students evaluate two websites that discuss similar content. It is also a great reflection tool for students if they have created their own website or blog. Give it a try today!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

RSS Mix: Create Your Own Feed

Do you use RSS feeds to help your students find current, relevant information about the topics that they are studying in your class? You may want to try RSS Mix. This free service allows you to create a unique feed from a series of other feeds. For example, you could mix CNN, the Washington Post, and the NY times into a single feed. Then there is only "1 reading list" that can be embedded in your blog or reader. This could be a useful tool for educators for managing RSS information for students. Possible uses for this tool:
  • Create a single reading list that students are required to follow for a class.
  • Create a list that will explore topics from different perspectives. Have students read the articles and comment on which sources provide which "slants."
  • Aggregate all of your student or classroom blogs into a single feed to share with parents or community members.
I hope this helps!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Digizen: Digital Citizenship and Safety

As more and more students start to explore online communities, teachers and parents need to make sure they are being safe and responsible. Every item that is posted online has a true sense of "permanency" to it. So, we need to help students make good choices about the "footprint" that they build on the web. Richard Byrne recently introduced me to Digizen, an online site that is dedicated to creating honest, collaborative online citizens. It includes information on cyberbullying and social networking. The information is easy to read and visually appealing. It would be a fantastic site to use with both students and parents. I also enjoyed the RSS feeds at the bottom of the homepage. These articles are current, relevant, and easy for parents and students to access. Interested? Go check it out!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Xtranormal vs. MeMoov

Yesterday I got the change to explore MeMoov. It is a site that allows you to create animated movies. An email address is necessary to create a free account. I think it could be a good tool for students. Since the site is very similar to Xtranormal, I've provided you with a "head to head" review below.

Here are the features in MeMoov that I prefer:
  • The characters and settings are very interesting and motivating.
  • You can make the characters move throughout the scene.
  • You can use your computer's microphone to create voices for your characters.
  • You can add objects to your scene. You can even make them move!
  • Options, options, options!

Xtranormal that I prefer:
  • The user interface is very intuitive.
  • You can just type in your script and your movie is finished.
  • It is easy to drag and drop different features onto the script.
If you want more options, use MeMoov. If you want something with controlled options and an intuitive interface, use Xtranormal.

I hope this helps!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The World Where Chris Lehmann Trumps Barack Obama

The age of Web 2.0 has brought about a world where every individual has an important voice. Scott McLeod, author of Dangerously Irrelevant, recently posted overall vote leaders for the ISTE Conference Keynote Address. Chris Lehmann currently has more votes than Barack Obama. (Yes, you heard that correctly!) I think this is an excellent example of how the web has created an "equity of ideas" that allows any individual to share and collaborate with the masses. Way to go Chris!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Organized Collection of Web 2.0 Tools

Although I usually do not blog about link collections, I found this one especially useful. Jesper Isaksson has created a mind map of many different web 2.0 tools. This could be a very helpful training tools when you are introducing students or teachers to web 2.0 tools. Enjoy!

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