Thursday, June 30, 2011

Gapminder: Data Visualization

Well, ISTE has been AWESOME. It gave me a great opportunity to "recharge my batteries" and further investigate some initiatives we are currently exploring.

One thing that I was reminded by Heidi Hayes Jacobs was Gapminder. Gapminder is a data visualization tool that shows population, average lifespan, and average income over time. (You can also switch out the variables with things like "education," "environment," and "work.")

This is a fantastic tool to use with students to push critical thinking. How are variables related? How do they change over time?

Check it out. You won't be disappointed!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

ISTE 2011: Yes, I am SPOILED

As ISTE 2011 draws to a close this afternoon, I wanted to take a brief opportunity to reflect on one thing: I am extremely SPOILED.

My indulgent state has absolutely nothing to do with tools or shiny gadgets. I don't have an iPad or a Chromebook or even a 4G phone.

I am SPOILED because I have people, connections, and relationships that support me. These networks begin in my very own school district (Go, Springfield, GO!) and they extend out to the world.

Last week, I put together a Posterous account and called it ISTE2011. I invited my Springfield colleagues to join the group as a shared place for our reflections. To enter text, pictures, or ideas, all they had to do was email

In a few short hours, the group was humming. My technician was posting info and pics about the new Dell laptop that we'll be deploying in September. My middle school teachers were finding all sorts of plug-ins, tips, and tricks for Google Apps. My help desk administrator (charged with Moodle next year) began posting all sorts of moodle administration best practices. Even an SDST board members that attended ISTE shared his thoughts from some of the sessions.

In short, the Posterous became a central place where we could connect despite the fact that it was hard to find each other amid the sea of people at the conference. The "positive vibes" floating from the online space were palpable.

In addition, my Twitter feed was exploding with resources, links, and thoughtful ideas. It certainly pushed my limits.

It's about the people, not the tools. People matter.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Yes, I was HACKED

Well, it happened. I was HACKED. (On my wedding day nonetheless!) My dedication to the cloud led to an ultimate backfire.

My personal email account was hacked, SPAM messages were sent to everyone in my contacts (only some 8,000 people), and my contacts and messages were DELETED.

Sadly, I was not alone. A few other folks I know in the edtech world suffered the same fate as me last week.

So, why am I telling you this? Simply to help you protect yourself.

Go into your email account. (Yes, right NOW.) Make sure your passwords are secure. If you use Google, activate 2-step authentication. Be safe. Be secure.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A personal note...

For all those out there who know I got married, feel free to check out my wedding posterous at:
Next week, stay tuned for more updates from the ISTE 2011 and TEDxPhillyED conferences!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Google Voice Search Coming to Chrome Browser

If you have an android powered phone, you already know the powers of Google Voice Search. Well, voice search is coming to the Chrome browser. You can say things like: "How do I make a sunny side up egg?" and the result will appear. It's like Google has baked universal design right into their webpage.

Think about the implications this could have when teaching younger students. No typing skills? No problem!

Watch the video below to learn more:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Year in Rap: Springfield Style

This year, Jason Pane, (see his fantastic student blog here) created a Year in Rap review with his students as a gift to the graduating 8th grade class in his middle school. Modeled off of the "Week in Rap Series" this video is a true testament to the amazing things that can happen when teachers and students meet on the same level and work together. Great job Jason and students!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Jot Form: An Alternative to Google Forms

I LOVE Google Forms, but sometimes I need fancy formatting in my form. (Try to say that 3 times fast!) If that is the case, you should try Jot Form. The site lets you create highly specialized forms. There is also DropBox synchronization for uploading and submitting docs via form (This feature could potentially solve our photo crowdsourcing problem at school!). With a free account, you can have up to 100 submission a month per form. It's a nice alternative when you need something fancier than a Google Form. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

End of the Year Fun: Flip Text

Feeling a little "uʍop ǝpısdn" at the end of the year? Well, get your students in on the fun and "flip your text!" You can write anything at all, enter it HERE, and it will flip your text. Simple and fun!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Drinking the Google Kool Aid!

In a few short days, my amazing middle school staff will "GO GOOGLE." We are beginning a Google Apps for Education pilot, and our kickoff is on June 20th and June 21st. As I prepare to get teachers "hooked" on this collaborative technology, what tips and tricks should I be CERTAIN to include? (For me, it's the fact that you can put attachments on calendar events.) What "googley" item helps you every day? Let me know in the comments and I'll include it!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Scoop It!

This is another tool that was shared by Selena Ward during the EdCamp Philly Smackdown! It is called Scoop It and it is a "pretty" way to put together web content. I could see this being an easy portal for teachers to create topic-specific sites to assist students with research or building background knowledge. Selena had a nice selection of "scoops" that she made. Rock on!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Keep Kids Glued To Your Blog All Summer Long

During the heat of summer, kids will have no interest in visiting your blog, right? Wrong! If you use multimedia, games, and videos, students will be flocking to your online classroom weekly or daily. Thanks to Jason Pane for sharing this great gadget compilation: aBowman. It is filled with a series of embeddable oddities that kids love. Add a new one each week and watch the pageviews climb! Check out this example below:


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