Sunday, January 31, 2010

Top 5 Post - January

January was a popular month for my blog.  I received a lot of feedback, comments, new followers, and reader subscriptions.  With that comes my initial monthly review.  Based on comments, bookmarks, and Tweets, these are the top five courtesy of PostRank.

1.) Do You Tweet?  As an Educator...You Should - My initial post of 2010 , and it received quite a response.  Really, as an educator, you should be on Twitter.
2.) Friday Focus #4 - Blogs You Should Focus Your Attention On. - A list of Blogs that I follow as well as subscribe too.  All that I got via Twitter.
3.) Twitter Tuesday #3 - A Reflection of Sorts - Ways to use Twitter for your classroom and how Twitter has impacted me as an educator.
4.) The Power of T.W.I.T.T.E.R. - Making Twitter an acronym, and how quickly a Tweet can be spread throughout the Twitter Universe.
5.) Think Twice Thursday #4 - Cartoons and Comic Creation - Creating Cartoons and Comics with ideas for across the curriculum.

Honorable Mention
- My Life in Cell Phones - A look at how Cell Phones have changed and how they have impacted my life.  They will only get better, and they will only become more and more apart of the classroom IMO.
- State of the Union Address Wordle - I took the 2009 and the 2010 State of the Union Addresses and created a Wordle for the for the purpose of compare and contrast.  A rather interesting way to see the important parts of the speeches.  I was disappointed that "education," "students," and "children" were not larger.

Which of these was your favorite?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Wowzio - Blog Widgets

Wowzio is a Widget creator.  It is free.  If you want to receive the widgets you have to email them that you would like an invite.  They hand out 25 invites every 24 hours.  You can get a Panaoramic Slideshow, Photo Gallery, Simple Slideshow, Live Activity, Tag Cloud, and Feed Content are the widgets that you can get from the site.  You can see a sample of each widget here.  You can customize the widgets to match what you would like for your blog or website.  I have just sent my invite in, so I will let you know how it goes.  If you are just starting your blog, then these would be a great source of widgets for you.

They also have a Geo-Popularity Platform to help you determine what are the most popular post on your blog, or the most popular pages of your webpage.  This will help provide you information about Real-Time Whats Hot and give you a better understanding of your most popular post.  If you are wondering why Wowzio, you can visit their FAQ page or visit their blog.

If you are using Wowzio, please share your experiences for my readers.  Thanks!

Weekend Extra #4 - Twitter Tweecap Top 20

Another wonderful dose of articles, websites, blogs, and opinions from my PLN and Twitter.  And yes, it will include some information and opinions about the iPad, because despite all that I think it is missing, it is going to revolutionize the future of textbooks and education.

1.) Fed Up With School Lunch - A blog that I think as teachers we will all be interested in reading as well as following.  Very entertaining, and makes you wonder about the comparison of your school lunch, considering school lunch is a federal and state program.  Makes me wonder how lunches could be so different.

2.) The iPad was the big announcement for this week, and Twitter was buzzing about it.  With the announcement also came the announcement of competitors.  Here are the future options of Tablets.

3.) Bookr - A tool that can help you create a photo-book using your photos from Flickr.  Think of it as creating a virtual photo album

4.) Interesting lesson idea to catch students attention about private information that is available on the Internet.  A way of showing studies their digital dossier.  When I return to the classroom, I think I will attempt to do such an assignment.

5.) A wonderful LiveBinders set of information for Google.  Information for Google Docs, Apps, Earth, Scholar, Sketchup, and Wave.

6.) One to One your school or district ready?  Take this survey to find out.

7.) A great selection of reusable Prezi's

8.) Educational Uses of Digital Story Telling from the University of Houston.

9. Mosaic Maker from Big Huge Labs - A great way to take your photos and create a mosaic.

10.) The Plagiarism Checker - Just copy and paste or upload a Word Document to check it foe plagiarism.  You can get more options by subscribing and getting a Pro account.  I have not tried it, so I cannot validate its  accuracy.

11.) Quizstar - A website for creating quizzes online.  Allow students to access and take the quizzes online as well...takes a lot of the grading out of our hands!

12.) Voicethread Wiki - probably the most thorough explanation of Voicethread and its features.  Definitely worth checking out if planning Voicethread activities in your classroom.

13.) HTML5 - A great explanation of the future of HTML.  I had no idea about it till reading this blog.  Useful and informative links within the blog as well.

14.) Springpad - A free personal organizer to save and store just about anything.  Think of it as an online Notebook.  Could be really useful for students to save and store lecture notes.

15.) Show Me Whats Wrong -  a great website for creating a URL with screen shots of your computer so that someone with computer knowledge can visit the URL and help you with an issue.  Rather interesting.  Be really useful to help mom and dad, or even grandma and grandpa when they are having problems with their computer.

16.) and 17.) From Free Technology 4 Teachers, Audio Owl - Hundreds of Free online Audio Books and Seven Places to Find Free eBooks.

19.) From Scholastic - Should we extend the school day?  What about the school year?  An article worth reading.

20.) A Periodic Table with Real World Applications of the Elements.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Focus #6 - The New Prezi

Power Point has always been one of those staple technology applications in education.  A way to present material to students that also offered the opportunity for audio, video, and picture integration to make lecture more...interesting.  However, in 2010, Power Point has started to become mundane. Prezi is a new presentation tool that offers a new approach to presenting information.  It can be easily described as creating a presentation on a 3D canvas.  

I created an original post on Prezi at the early stages of this blog.  Of course at the time of the original Blog Post I had not come to fully understand the expansiveness as well as the limitations of Prezi.  There were originally no plans for Educational Licensing and its ease of use for the average person was rather frustrating.  Within my blog I have linked to two presentations.  One I create about Hands On Learning.  The other was a Math Presentation created by a teacher at my school.

Recently though, Prezi has changed their thinking.  First they offered Educational Licensing.  You can still get the standard Free account, but there is an "Edu Enjoy" account that allows privacy settings, removal of the Prezi Watermark, and 500 MB of online storage space.  A great addition to an already interesting presentation tool.  You can pay $59 for a year subscription and it gives 2000 MB of online storage space, plus the ability to create Prezi offline using desktop software.  Not a bad price. 

If you already have an account using your school email address, log in and then click on "upgrade."  Click on the Education option and you will be able to upgrade to the Education Account.  You will have to confirm your email address again.

Prezi didn't just add Education licensing either.  It improved the tool used to create Prezi's, as well as new backgrounds, colors, fonts, etc.  The first picture is the old tool for Prezi.  The second picture is the new tool for creating Prezi...a more simple user interface.

When you visit Prezi now, it shows a video so that you can get a better idea of how to get started creating your own presentation.  Adding text is a lot easier as well as adding effects to the text.  Before you always had to go to the tool to change text, now, one click does one thing, and two clicks does another...MUCH easier.

You can easily interchange between the different fonts and colors.  I wish there were more options here instead of changing colors over the entire canvas, there was more individual options.  Creating your path is a lot easier as well with a drag and click feature.  There are also Zoom In and Out buttons so you don't always have to use your scroll.  It still has the same framing and drawing tools as well.  You can also load images, videos, and PDF within the Presentation.

But with all of that...the best feature...UNDO and REDO!!!!  

If you have not tried Prezi, I highly recommend using it once and see your student's reaction to it.  It will be such a wonderful change of pace from Power Point.  
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Another one of the Web 2.0 tools that has grown in popularity is Online Flashcards.  There are several sites out there for creating Online Flash Cards.  Some of the sites have more features than others and others are simply for creating Online Flash Cards.  My favorite of the bunch is Quizlet.

Quizlet was created by a 15 year old boy in 2005 who wanted a more entertaining way to learn his vocabulary.  The name Quizlet comes from Quizlette, the name of the "little" quizzes his French teacher gave his class.  Quizlet works by creating list of words and definitions.  The neat thing is that if you don't have a definition, you can choose from a list of definitions submitted by other users.  From those list there are different ways to learn them.  Students can export them into Flashcards, or complete various games and activities.  Students can even take a test that includes matching, multiple choice, true or false, and fill in the blank.  Teachers can create an account for free and then students can log on and use the terms you created to study.  Students can log on and create the words themselves to study as well.  Students do not have to join the site to study the flash cards already uploaded to the site.

Up Next - Friday Focus - The New Prezi

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Think Twice Thursday #4 - Cartoons and Comics Creation

One of the post that I created during the early stages of this blog was a discussion of Cartoons and Comics Creation Websites that students and teachers can use in their classrooms for various activities.  You can visit that original post here, and see my discussion on sites such as GoAnimate, ToonDoo, and Pixton.  I also provided links to other comic strip sites such as BitStrips, Comiqs, StripCreator, and Strip Generator.  Recently I discovered a new site, DoInk.

With so many different types of websites for creating comics and cartoons, it is a resource that many teachers with little technology background could implement in their classroom and allow their students to use them for projects.  A good thing about the Comic Strips and Cartoons is that they are not limited to one or two subjects, you could easily adapt them across the curriculum.

- Take a math Word Problem and turn it into a comic strip/cartoon.
- Take a math concept and create a comic strip/cartoon.
- Make a comic strip/cartoon where the theme is using math in real life.
- Create a comic strip/cartoon using Geometric shapes as the characters explaining their angles and sides.
- Create a comic strip/cartoon about how to solve a problem on a calculator
- Create a comic strip/cartoon about how to solve a math problem without a calculator

- Create a comic strip/cartoon using the elements as the main characters
- Create a comic strip/cartoon explaining the processes from an experiment
- Create a comic strip/cartoon discussing the different planets as the characters.
- Create a comic strip/cartoon showcasing the different scientific methods
-Create a comic strip/cartoon about evolution

Social Studies:
- Create a comic strip/cartoon about a historic event, person, place, speech
- Create a comic strip/cartoon timeline of events
- Create a comic strip/cartoon about a government policy or document (Bill of Rights)
- Create a comic strip/cartoon about current events
- Create a comic strip/cartoon about economic concepts (Opportunity Cost, Law of Supply and Demand, etc.)
- Create a comic strip/cartoon about countries

- Take a poem or short story and create a comic strip/cartoon about them
- Take a novel or non-fiction book and create a comic strip/cartoon about the characters, plot, setting, symbolism, or a combination of all of these
- Create a comic strip/cartoon about authors
- Create a comic strip/cartoon about persuasive, speech, trans-active, etc., writing
- Create a comic strip/cartoon about parables
- Create a comic strip/cartoons relating to the stories and plays of Shakespeare

Foreign Language
- Create comic strips/cartoons in foreign languages...great way to learn vocabulary
- Recreate comic strips/cartoons  from the newspaper in their own way and translate them into foreign language being studied
- Create comic strips/cartoons in a foreign language that relate to events and history of the countries the language you are studying is spoken in.
- Create comic strips/cartoons as part of a "travel guide"

This list is just a beginning.  I am sure that there are many more out there that I have not thought of.  I suggest you think twice about how you could use Comic Strips and Cartoons to enhance your curriculum and generate creativity in your students.

Do you have ideas?  Please share.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wordle - Obama 2010 State of the Union Address

The first Wordle is the 2009 State of the Union Address.  I wanted to include it in order to show a compare and contrast of the two speeches.

President Obama 2009 State of the Union Address:

President Obama 2010 State of the Union Address:

Thoughts?  Comments?

Wiki Wednesday #4 - Web 2.0 Guru

Nominated for a 2009 Edublog Award for Best Educational Wiki, the Web 2.0 Guru is a great Wiki for finding Web 2.0 tools as well as some information and explanation of each resource.  You can find resources by subject matter, best practices, hardware, software, cyber-citizenship and others.  You can also find links to other blogs related to technology integration and education.  The author, Chery Capozzoli  believes in the power of Web 2.0 so much that she has developed a term for the study of Web 2.0, Web2.0logy.

What I like best about the Wiki is that it is organized very well and that links to the resources you might be looking for are easy to find.  I also like the section on The Three R's.  This is an area that we are working hard and looking to improve in our district because of the movement of Internet use by such a younger generation of students and children.

Another good aspect of this Wiki is that it is not all about resources.  It is also about information and articles pertaining to the changing of education as we enter the 21st Century.  There is lots of vital information on this Wiki, and I highly recommend that you take a look and see what you can find that is of use.  But if you are just looking for Web 2.0 resources, then here is where to look.

Weather Forecasting, Education, and Technology...yes there is an analogy

So there is a winter storm coming to my section of Western Kentucky.   I have seen several forecast, but only one seems to stand out in the crowd. One News Station had a 10-15 inches graphic for our area, another news station has 3-4 inches, and a third news station has 2-6 inches.  Then you check the national websites and we have 3-4 inches and 3-6 inches.  So now, I bet you are wondering "How is the weather forecast related to educational technology?"

Let's look at that one news station; the one with 10-15 inches as a possibility.  They know it might be the more aggressive model, or the more aggressive approach.  They know it could back fire.  They know that most other weather forecasters might disagree with their forecast.  They know that other weather forecasters might not trust the same model, or maybe they are not as experienced studying that model. 

But what if they end up being right?  What if we get the 10-15 inches?  They will look like the smart ones.  They will look like the ones who took a chance.  They will be the news station that everyone will remember that got the forecast right.  They also know that if they are wrong, another weather system will come along to give them a chance to get it right.  They don't give up on the model the next time.  They just tweak how they use the model in their forecast. 

By using this forecast, their news station stands out, and makes people want to watch their news station, it also makes people talk about their forecast.  People will visit their website for more information.  And when they get it right, you will see them bragging about it in an advertisement about their news and weather during a future newscast in fact.

Educators who work at integrating technology are this news station.  They are using a different model, trying a different approach, trying to stand out in a crowd of normalcy, complacency, and the "same old, same old."  They know that there will be hiccups in using the technology, but another lesson will present itself for them to improve their lesson and technology integration techniques.  Their technology integration only enhances their lesson. 

People will want to come see how they use the technology.  People will then talk about their lesson and how they integrated technology.  That teacher will then share about how they knew the technology would work in their class.  They will write a blog post, mention it on Twitter, and share in a faculty meeting or hopefully at a District meeting.  Because when you do something that works in your classroom, you want people to know about it.

So my question to you is....which Weather Forecaster are you?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Twitter Tuesday #4 - Twitter Tools Top 10.

You would think that just be able to use Twitter and software like Tweetdeck would be enough to meet your needs as an Tweeter.  But let me tell you, those only scratch the surface of tools that you can use for Twitter.  I wonder if I will ever run out of tools to post here weekly...sooner or later it will have to be information from Tweets I receive.  For this week I thought I would create a Twitter Tools and Applications Top 10 that I find useful and entertaining.  These are in no particular order.

1.) 140 Twitter Tips - A Slideshow Presentation with Tweets suggesting ways to improve your Tweeting experience and Twitter Marketing Tips.  How could you become a better Tweeter?  How could you adapt these suggestions for education?

2. ) CalTweet - A tool for online promotion of your events via Twitter.  Would be a good way to share events in your classroom or school as well.  You can print a guest list and have RSVP's emailed to you.  It seems more social, but it could be worth investigating to see if it can serve an educational purpose for you, your students and school.

3.) Friend or Follow - A great way to check who you are following that is not following you back or who is following you that you are not following back.  Interesting look at your Twitter friends and followers.

4.) TweetStats - A Great way to discover your life as a Tweeter.  Tweets per hour, day, month, as well as a Twitter Timeline.  You also can get Reply statistics.  You can also get your Tweet Density so you can see when you are Tweeting the most.  It will also provide a Tweet Cloud and Hashtag could.  Interesting information.

5.) Twibbon - A great way to get someone to follow a cause on Twitter.  Raising funds for a student or a school project?  Want to get the word out about a community service project?  Twibbon might be a great source for your school or classroom.

6.) TweetBeep - Receive Twitter Alerts via Email.  Might be a great way for you to monitor a school or classroom account to ensure no inapporpriate information is baing shread on your school or classroom Twitter account.  Think of it as Google Alerts for Twitter.

7.) Trendistic - See trends on Twitter and even check for trends of your Twitter Account.  Check trends to certain websites, categories, or people.  Here is the trends for Twitter post of "Tablet"

8.) Twitt(url)y - Tracks URL's shared on Twitter.  Lets you know the most popular links and stories for the day.  Are you RTing any of these?

9.) Sniff Sniff....want to know when you have been Unfollowed?  Qwitter can tell you that.

10.) Twitter Analyzer - A very through analyitic tool for your Twitter Account.  Probably the best that you will find on the Web.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Must See Monday #4 - Cybrary Man

If it was not for my Twitter account, this is one of the websites that I probably never would have came across.  Cybraryman Internet Catalog for Educational Websites should be one of your homepages for educational related content.  Home to over 20,000+ links to resources related to education and winner of multiple online awards, Cybraryman is definitely a site worth investigating and spending some time on.

Cybraryman Internet Catalog is the work of Jerry Blumengarten.  An eductional professional with over 30 years of experience in education.  The website helps to catalog much of what educators find and look for on the Internet...all in one location.

There is a section dedicated entirely to parents which has information on bullying, safety, poverty, family, parenting, marriage planning, toys etc.  There is then a section for students with links related to every subject area as well as general information like test preparation, hobbies, college selection (which would also be good for parents these days), homework help, etc.  There then is of course the section for educators which is then broken down into areas for Staff Teacher Tools, Grade Level Classroom Organization, and Subject Areas.  There is also links here to Web 2.0 Tools, and teachable moment stuff like the Census, Black History Month, and the Winter Olympics.  Of course each page from here leads to so much more information.  There is a final section of General Interest which is general enough that I suggest you check it out for yourself.  The links here will definitely be helpful in enhancing lessons you are teaching as well as makeing you look smarter.

Anytime you need something in Education, try visiting the Cybraryman Internet Database first and see if you can find what you are looking for.

If you have a Blog, Ning, Wiki, let him know and he will add it to his collection for visitors to his website.  You can even find mine on there as well.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Power of T.W.I.T.T.E.R.

The other morning I woke up and kept coming across Tweets where people were taking TWITTER and creating an acronym for it based on what they felt Twitter provided, or did.  Naturally I thought of my own.

Turns (now that I think about it I like "Time" as well)

It created quite a response.  It was "Retweeted" by 23 people on Twitter (that I know of).  Of those 23 people, there are approximately 28,600 people following them.  That means that there could have been over 28,000 thousand people who saw my original Tweet.  That is the power of Twitter and my PLN.

This of course does not take into account any "Retweets" that did not include @MZimmer557 for purposes of tracking, which could or could not have happened.  So imagine the impact your blog post, or Tweet could have that you share on Twitter.  Imagine the following it could create.  The tweet alone intrigued some people to start following me, as well as discover this blog.  I don't have near the number of followers as others, so I wonder if I had more, how much more exposure the Tweet would have received.

The Acronym itself was purely from thought while waking up Saturday morning.  Teachers are THE intellectuals of the world.  We are the ones who drive students in the younger years to become the doctors, lawyers, politicians, community leaders, etc.  I have always been annoyed by the statement "Those who can, can, and those who can't, teach."

Teaching is one of the few, if not the only profession that REQUIRES constant professional development as well as continuing education...with little compensation.  Most other careers that pursue Master's and Doctorate's are compensated for taking the classes (meaning the classes are paid for AND they get salary increases).  Most teachers are continuing their education well into their 30's and even 40's.

I am by no means the brightest bulb, but I challenge many other professionals to experience the daily grind teachers go through day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, and continue to do so because of the experience the profession brings motivating younger generations to pursue those other careers.

To this day the greatest joy I have as a teacher is remaining in contact with former students and seeing them become professionals in their own right.  I didn't become an educator because I couldn't make it in the other professions, I became an educator because I didn't WANT any other profession.

The Power of T.W.I.T.T.E.R. and my PLN.

Weekend Extra Part Two - Twitter Tweecap

Another dose of resources shared via Twitter.  My PLN sure was busy Saturday!  Who says educators aren't working on weekends?

5 Apps for the Busy Educator - I am only using one...I guess I am not as busy as I thought!

Glogster Education Resource Library - An very informative and in depth look at Glogster in Education...if you have not seen Glogster, you are missing out on a great tool for your students!

Yodio - Adding Voice to your photos.  You can use your phone to record the narrative...interesting software I found via the EDge21 Blog.

A great Tutorial for Pages 09 on Mac from ILearn Technology.  I don't own a Mac, so I hope this will help you out.

7 Things You Should Know about Clickers - Great read via PDF.

Have a Document Camera?  We are getting quite a few at our school.  Here is a great article about the impact of document cameras are having on motivating students.

BrightStorm - A Math website worth checking out.  My math is quite not up to par to know how useful this site might, help me out and let me know how you have used it!

Blog Post about the National Educational Technology Plan....well worth reading....

An article about the effectiveness of 1:1 programs on student learning.

The Education Party - An interesting take on politics.  The creation of a new political party.  You have to wonder about its success since teachers make up such a large portion of the workforce across the country.  Generally in every county they are in the top 5 of employers in Kentucky.

Could the new Tablet PC'cs be a Game Changer in Education?

From Larry Ferlazzo - A great list of the Best Online Collection of Power Points for Teachers.

5 Inspirational Blogs for Special Education Teachers....

GREAT Blog Post on the impact of Merit pay on teaching, specifically Special Education...a MUST READ!

Online Spell Checker - Not sure why we would need an online Spell Checker, but thought I would share anyway.

Prezi is now offering FREE License for Education....

13 Ways to Drive Blog Readership. - Interesting article.  Definitely worth reading for learning how to increase readership of your blog.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Weekend Extra #3 - Twitter Tweecap

This weeks installment of interesting resources that I received via Twitter.  If you are not using Twitter yet, you should!

1.) The Encyclopedia of Educational Technology - A publication from San Diego State University.  A good list of educational technology that relates to many of the educational theories and practices that we learned while in our teacher education programs.  Worth a look.

2.) Google Earth Across the Curriculum.  A great resource by Free Technology for Teachers discussing how to use Google Earth in your classroom.  Highly recommend taking a look at this resource.  Google Earth is more than just a Geography tool, and this helps to show you why.

3.) Langwitches Blog Post - Great post about how to be followed on Twitter and to learn about the types of people that are following you on Twitter.  Very useful for those that are new to Twitter.

4.) PDFmyURL - If you are interested in making your website into a PDF file.  Useful if you want to be able to send your Blog Post in a PDF format, or have a website with information that sharing in a PDF makes logical sense.

5.) AppMakr - Interesting.  You provide your URL and it creates a sample App for the Iphone of what your website would look like.  Kind of fun to play with....don't think my blog is worth an App yet though!  Maybe your website is a way to create yours.

6.) Dirpy - Take those YouTube videos and turn them into an MP3....I think many of us have been looking for this option.  It is a lot easier than sites like Zamzar.

7.) Digital Cameras are all the rage...but how do you use them in the classroom?  Here are 46 Ideas for Digital Cameras in the Classroom

8.) Just for the purpose of discussion.  The ACT did research on our National Curriculum.  It is worth a read, because chances are, much of our curriculum might be based on these results....

9.) Interesting read...14 Technologies Educators Should Watch for in 2010.  My questions is, am I ahead of the times, if in January I am already past watching them, because I am using them???  Or which educators are they talking too?

10.) We all love Wordle.  I know I do.  Well thanks to Twitter I discovered some other useful tools like Wordle.  Some that I think have added advantage to use in the classroom.  I highly recommend you look at these 4 similar tools (Information about them here:

11.) Museums are always something I have loved visiting.  As a teacher, it is tough to know some of the best ones, or even the ones that exist in your own state.  Well, here is a list of Museums Online for the United States and the World.

12.) Wordle, Voicethread, and .....Ninitendo DS ( the classroom).  Interesting set of presentations from the Blog.

Hope you find some useful links here.  Check back every Saturday for a recap from the resources I receive from Twitter.  It is important to note that when I wake up in the morning I have over 200 Tweets that happened throughout the night that I don't get a chance to I wonder how many resources I am missing out on throughout the night.....

Friday, January 22, 2010

DoInk and My DoInk

Another animation creation website....but kind of an in between when it comes to comic strip creation and Go Animate.  DoInk is a website for creating cartoons and animations.  There are some very useful features and you can explore the website further so that you can determine its use.  It seems like it has a lot of great features but after spending a little time with it I found myself getting a little annoyed.  You might not feel that way.  You can Explore some of the animations already created to get an idea.  You do need to create an account for DoInk.

If you don't feel like joining than you can visit  My DoInk and create an animation instantly.  This is what I did.  This might be why I was having some trouble understanding all the features because it didn't seem to offer that much...then again...I am not that much of an artist or for that matter an abstract thinker to do much with it.  It seems promising for someone who might have time to explore it more than me, but I wanted to share it.

If you have used it, or your students have used it, please share experiences with me and my readers.  Thanks!

Friday Focus #5 - Online Whiteboard Collaboration

Online Whiteboard Collaboration is probably the one of the most trendy applications to come from the whole Web 2.0 movement.  There are quite a few out there all trying to garner your attention and use.  Generally they all have similar features but a few standout because of a feature or two that they offer that others do not.  These are in no particular order, so visit and see which ones you like best.

Twiddla is the first online whiteboard site that I was introduced to, so I feel kind of obligated to mention it first.  What I like about Twiddla are the math applications that you can input on to the whiteboard.  Students could log in their laptops and instead of going to the board to complete the example, they would work the problem from their desk!  You can upload images and documents to the Whiteboard as well.  The other aspect of Twiddla that I like is the "Twiddle This" feature which allows you to add a bookmark and "Twiddle" over webpages that you are visiting.  Would make a great tool for lecture when you are showcasing a website and want to highlight certain sections.  You can also add a "Twiddle This" to your own webpage so that viewers can "Twiddle" on your site without having to add the bookmark.  No membership is required.  If you want to play around on a whiteboard I created, you can go here.

Scribblar is very similar to Twiddla.  No sign up is needed, but you can if you want to.  I have created one for this post here.  Some of the differences are that you can change the background color if you prefer and it has a Stamp feature that also is beneficial.  It has a lot of shapes that you can choose from as well to put on the whiteboard.  It has an audio feature just like Twiddla if you wanted to conference on it.  You can also take an image of the whiteboard and save it for later if you made important notes.  Scribblar does not neccesarily stand out to me, but it has a lot of similar features.

Dabbleboard is kind of neat.  It offers a little more drag and drop features.  I have a sample one for you to play around with here.  The difference I am noticing is that you can edit what you have drawn or written after the fact (change color, positioning, size, shape, etc.)  Much more user friendly.  You can embed it as well into a webpage or blog as well.  It would be an interesting way to create a mind map because of the arrow features that it has.  It will turn what you are doing into a shape or a certain line if not in "freehand" mode, so it does take some gettind used too.  Just try it out.

Imagination Cubed is from GE.  Now it is more for playing and not neccesarily for collaboration, but I thought I would include it.  It has a lot of the same features as the others.  The only feature I saw it had that the others did not was the ability to "replay" what you just drew.  So it would be neat to watch a replay of your creation.  It does allow you to "invite a friend" but other then that, not much else is available for you to do in terms of collaboration.  It is worth looking and and playing around with.

Now I would love to provide some information on Scriblink, but unfortunately the firewall at my school is blocking access to the application, so if you have information on it, please share, otherwise I will try and add to it later when I get home.  It seems like an interesting Whiteboard application.

Thinkature could be categorized as a mix between Sticky Note Collaboration and Whiteboard.  It gives you the ability to incorporate "textbox" as well as free write.  You can also highlight certain areas of the whiteboard using a tool within your canvas.  The other aspect that I like is that you can also create mind maps.  It has an arrow tool that allows you to mind map with the software as well.  It does require signing up to use, and upon trying to do so, it appeared to freeze, but that could be my firewall again.  Will try later when I get home.

One thing I am noticing is that they all have a feature that the others do not.  Someone needs to make one that has all the features in the same Online Whiteboard Collaboration Tool.  A way to draw on a website,. drag and drop, mind map, Replay, etc.  Pull all these together and make one that encompasses everything and we will have a complete website.

Are there others that you know of and use?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Think Twice Thursday #3 - TodaysMeet

Todays Meet is a Back Channel Web Based Chat Program.  You can give your Chatroom a name, determine the date of deletion of your room, and even add a Twitter Hashtag and it will be inccorporated into the Chat..  Now the idea of a Chat Room scares the average administrator, but the idea of giving students an alternative form of communication with the teacher is great.  We all know that there are many students who are scared to speak in front of the class, TodaysMeet gives them that opportunity.

When you create one, the name you give the room becomes the URL.  Here is the Chatroom for this Blogpost.  So how could you incorporate this in to your classroom or school?  Well, I can think of a few.....

1.) If your students all have computers and Internet invite them to watch the news with you and chat about the current events from that evening.  You could do the same thing with a Presidential Speech or Disaster.  Imagine how this could have been used on 9/11 or most recently the Earthquake in Haiti
2.) While showing a video or movie in class let your students chat and ask questions about it while watching the movie.  As the teacher you can answer their question...without stopping the movie!
3.) Allow students to post comments or questions during a lecture or group project while working on it in class.
4.) Having a guest speaker?  Have the guest speaker answer questions from the Chat room while you monitor amd discuss the questions with the students within the Chat Room.
5.) Since you can keep the room open for a year, you could have it as yo0ur very own "Question Box" for your students to use through out the year to ask help with assignments and projects.

You could even have your teachers use this during a PD to ask questions as well.

So Think Twice about how you could use Todays Meet in your classroom.  Share your ideas with my readers.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My Life....In Cell Phones

I sit here in bed thinking about how my life has changed (technology wise) since I was just a young lad.  First I realized, I would not be sitting in my bed, because I would not have had a computer small enough to have in my bed, of course then I also would not be able to type this blog, because the concept did not exist...because neither did the Internet...for the average person.  I remember a recent post on Twitter by Steven Anderson about receiving a Commodore 64.  I remember doing homework on that, but more importantly I remember playing Wheel of Fortune on a Gold and Black screen and thinking "Man, this is awesome!"

Oh my, how times have changed.  My computer is now my cell phone...or is it my cell phone is now my computer.?.  I remember getting my first cell phone.  It was a Mitsubishi (So old I can't find a picture of it).  It was through what is now T-Mobile (Is it sad that I cannot remember just 10 years ago the name of my first cell phone company...Voice Stream maybe?)  I remember thinking..."I am the man.  I have a cell phone.  No one has one of these."  At least no one I knew had one.  My dad had the first Motorola Flip phone and had it wired through his car so that he could speak "handsfree."  I had 100 minutes of talk time (of course now I got 4000 in rollover stored up...or something like that).  I remember my mom telling me that it was not worth it because that equals out to just over 3 minutes per day that I can use the phone, not to mention Roaming was a huge deal....not to mention coverage.

Next I got the Nokia...yes...that Nokia. Man was it great! The Nokia that allowed you to change the faceplate.  I think I had 4-5 different ones.  I had a Red one, a Fraternity one, one for U of L and WKU.  And before you ask, I also had the Swivel Clip.  And yes, I thought I was the man....again.  I remember walking around college with that on my hip and thinking, "I must look like a professional with this cell phone on my belt."  That Nokia was the best phone ever.......

Till I got my first Flip Phone, a Samsung.  Man was it great!  All these neat colors and ring tones.  I could even upload pictures to the phone.  Everyone around me was getting a cell phone.  This time...I had 150 minutes...2.5 hours of talk time.  Hard to imagine these days that was enough.  But that Samsung was great.  Small, no case needed, no clip needed.  Fit right in my pocket.  Didn't have to worry about locking the keys either.  What a great phone...That Samsung was the best phone ever......

Till I got my LG Camera Phone (Off Ebay).  Man was it great!  I could see the number who was calling...on the outside!!!  Not only that it had a camera on it!!  I mean come on, what a great invention.  I could take pictures of people and then when they would call me, I could see the picture I took of them...because we all know I did not know their phone number...or recognize their name!  That Nokia from 3 years before seems so lo-tech.  That LG Camera Phone was the best phone ever....

Till I got my Motorola RazR.  Talk about slick.  Man was it great!.  Black, shiny, camera, speaker phone, plays music for ring tones, and ultra slim.  I have hit the JACKPOT!  Everything I could ever want in a phone I got in the Razr, plus I got 250 minutes now!  I was the man.  I remember at this point Text Messaging was all the rage.  I thought I would never do that.  The point of the phone is to talk to people.  If I want to text, I will send an email.  That Razr was the best phone ever....

Till I got my Blackberry Curve.  Man, a full keyboard!  Text messaging is awesome.  Forget what I was saying about it before.  I could also sync with my computer and keep all my appointments on it.  I could even get my email from work.  I was completely connected.  I could check Facebook, Keep up to date with ESPN, what else could a man possibly want.  That Blackberry was the best phone ever...

Till I got my IPhone.  Seriously, what was my life like before this phone...Computer...TV...Game-Console...Calendar...To Do List...Newspaper...Chatroom...Atlas...Camera...Video Camera...MP3 Player...Weatherman...Voice Recorder...Accountant...I think you get the point.  So needless to say in 10 years look how far our phones have come.  It has to make one wonder...where are they going to go now?  What else do we want from our phones.

Then you have to will Cell Phones change the methods of teaching students?  Current Events, History, Calculators, Periodic Tables, Books, at their fingertips.  The technology needs to be accepted, encouraged, and managed.  We are blocking a vital tool to our students education.

And to think, in high school I thought I was the man because I had a Pager!

One Word, So Little Time

Ever been in the computer lab and the assignment doesn't quite take as long as you thought?  Or maybe you have some students who get done faster and become trouble makers?  Use this site to fill that gap in time.  OneWord is just what you think it is.  It gives you One Word.  It then gives you a Text-box for you to type a response to that one word.  You could free write and create a story from that word.  You could also create a poem where the One Word is the focus of the students poem.  Needless to say the website makes a great time any subject.

Once your students submit their response they can then see other responses as well.  It will refresh a word each time.  You might find that students really enjoy using the site with the opportunity to express their creativity.

Certificate Street

Great website for teachers to use to create simple certificate for their students when they achieve goals or accomplish tasks in your room.  Catergories are abundant and options for the certificates make it very appealing.  The web-based software is fairly easy to use.  Hover over the certificate to get a better view and then download as a PDF that you can then edit to meet your needs.  Does require color ink in your printer, but it sure does beat the templates available in Word or Publisher.  See below for categories.

Wiki Wednesday #3 - Educational Origami

Nominated and won the Best Educational Wiki in 2008 and 2009, the Educational Origami Wiki is loaded with useful information related to integrating Information and Communication Technologies in the classroom. The site takes a look at 21st Century education from many different perspectives. 21st Century education is changing the lives of students, teachers, parents, and even the classroom.

Through this wiki you will find an abundance of resources related to Blooms Taxonomy and how it changes to relate to 21st Century learners and educators. As educators we all know about Blooms Taxonomy. We all had it drilled into our brains in college. the question still remains though is how has Bloom's Taxonomy changed because of 21st Century Education?

The wiki also takes a deep look into Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, and Digital Citizens. How are they impacting education? How have lives changed because of these groups?  I especially like the Mind Map showcasing how a Digital Native uses their hours through life.  It also has very useful statistics that realtes to Digital Natives and Technology.

I highly reccomend you visiting the wiki and seeing what might be beneficial to your classroom, school, teachers, or students.  It is very well organized and up to date.

BumpTop - A New Desktop..3D!!!

Every once in a while there is that software that comes around that you look at and think...that is cool.  You then ponder, how could I use it to make my life easier.  For over 10 years Windows has had the same Desktop view.  No change.  Same folders, same windows.  Nothing but Blah.....Times are a changing.  One of the newest ways to improve the view of your desktop is BumpTop.  It is available for both Mac and PC's.  Imagine your desk...your actual desk being turning in to a computer screen.  The software has some great features and creates a 3-d desktop.

Here are some features:
- Drag and drop to a USB that FlashDrive...without opening a window or anything
- Swipe over and organize/pile documents, photos, links, etc. together
- Automatically upload to Twitter and Facebook from the desktop.
- Pin notes to side walls and then view those walls. 

My best advice is to watch the video below....Seeing is understanding.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Awesome Stories

Awesome Stories is a great site that has beneficial primary sources that students can use in English and Social Studies classrooms.  Find a topic that matches something you want to read and scan through the story.  Internal links allow you to get more information as well.  It also automatically creates a citation for you if students were to use it as part of a research assignment.

Topics include disasters, Biographies, Historic Events, Famous Trials, Religion, Inspiration, Movies, and Sports.  It covers such a broad spectrum that schools with a 1:1 program could utilize this site for readings within their schools as well as for homework.  You can sign up for the website which offers you added features.  Fairly easy reading and because their are hyperlinks within the stories your low end students can click on them to receive further information.  The site also includes slideshows, images, videos, and audio clips as well.  A very interactive way of reading a book.

Twitter Tuesday #3 - A Reflection of Sorts

My previous post about Twitter gained quite a following.  Especially my post about Using Twitter as an Educator.  I also had a post about schools using Twitter as well, and most likely in the near future our school will be looking at going the route of creating a Facebook page as well.  I have come to realize that using Twitter is like opening a treasure chest of educational technology gold.  An endless stream of educators and administrators just aching to share their views and opinions with little ole me..I guess big ole me (6'5" - 240).

What's great is that finding all these people was fairly easy.  Many of these same people are members of Classroom 2.0 and The Educators PLN, which I joined months before Twitter.  I then found people via their blogs, and then via their Tweets.  The easiest way to find people to follow in your PLN is to see who they are following and follow them as well.  That is how I have came across a lot of great blogs and people on Twitter.

I have come to realize though that what I like best about Twitter is not neccesarily the resources being shared, but it is the opinions, articles, and videos that people share that catches my attention.  I find myself clicking and saving these to Instapaper on my IPhone all the time so that I can look at them later on my computer.  Every weekend you can count on me sharing these in my Weekend Extra postings.

Now the question becomes, how can I use it in the classroom.  I am sure some of these are posted on other websites, but I am actually just listing the ideas that came to my mind while typing this post.  It is important to note that Twitter does not allow deletions of messages from others that appear on your page.  It does allow you to block them which does delete their Tweets, but you cannot delete individual Tweets from others.  So I suggest you have people follow you, but not necessarily that you follow them.  More about giving then receiving.  Remember, Twitter and Texting is this generation's method of passing notes to one another.  Now to the ideas:
  • An interactive discussion about a project or idea.
  • Links to arcticles relating to current events or research being conducted
  • 140 Characters discussion over books, movies, events, people, topics, etc.
  • Picture Share
  • Display during class and as you lecture or show a video allow students to ask questions for clarification or discussion when finished....most kids are scared to ask you to repeat something as well...this would give them that opportunity.
  • Create a hashtag or an account for your classroom and allow communication between you and your students easily.
  • Have students turn in their assignments by linking them in Twitter for students to see.
  • Peer Review via Twitter.
  • Extra Credit
  • Classroom Reminders - (Test dates, Due Dates, Clasrrom Projects or interruptions)
Looking for others?  Here are some articles I found. 
- How One Teacher Uses Twitter (More Like Professor)
- 50 Ways to use Twitter in the College Classroom (Could adapt for High School)
- 25 Ways to Teach With Twitter
- 29 Interesting Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom (Google Docs Presentation)

I conclude this post with an idea.  Someone with some computer programming experience will probably be able to create such a program, make millions and I will be left thinking...."should have taken computer programming in college:"
Create a microblogging site with education in mind that can provide more options for educators, such as the ability to create classes, add students, embed video, etc.  Also provide a way for us to chat with other schools and classrooms from around the world.  Provide a way to text in post via cell phones.  Maintain the open source feature so that it continually feeds like Twitter.  It would be a great way to have a discussion in the classroom using technology.  Because in my experience, using the technology generally creates more engagement even when you are finished using it.

Have you used Twitter in your classroom?  Success or Failure?  Please Share!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Must See Monday #3 - Teacher Reboot Camp

Teacher Reboot Camp is a blog and the work of Shelly Terrell.  What I like most about the blog is the interaction that takes place within her post.  You can definitely tell that she spends a lot of time thinking of what she wants to use her blog for.  Shelly Terrell is one of the co-founders of the #edchat on Twitter.  Every Sunday a poll is provided for educators on Twitter to vote on a topic they would like to talk about via Twitter.  Then on Tuesday, the winning topic from the poll is discussed via Twitter two times during the day.  12pm and 7pm EST.  The 12pm time is for our friends overseas in Europe.  The 7pm time is for people in the United States.  I rarely get a chance to participate because of my schedule, but reading the tweets later is still very valuable.  If interested just search for the #edchat hashtag on Sunday and Tuesday.

One aspect of Ms. Terrell's blog is her 30 Goals; A grand idea.  Everyday or so a new goal for visitors to her blog to complete.  It is a great way for those new to the blogging landscape to participate and start the journey to blogging.  It also is a great tool for self evaluation.  Instead of trying to think of a New Years Resolution, she has provided 30 for you!  30 Goals is not just for those that are new to blogging either. It is a great way for experienced bloggers to share their experiences and expertise.

I highly recommend visiting her site and attempting as many of the 30 goals as possible as well as searching through her blog and seeing what useful information is available for you to use.  The blog is organized in a manner that is easy to follow as well as read.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Weekend Extra #2 - Twitter Tweets and Resources - Top 15

 Every week I think....why did I not join Twitter years ago?!?!?  All the people who I have met on there provide fantastic links, blogs, ideas, resources, and opinions.  The opportunity to socialize with people who share the same beliefs and ideas as me has and continues to prove to be an invaluable resource for both my job, and my future.  What is great, is that I get a lot of meaningful stuff to read, but at the same time I get a lot of cool and funny stuff.  Using Twitter has become more of a stress relief and an experience than just another Social Network to post my thoughts about.  It's like all the other social network sites have lost some of their value because I get so much from following people on Twitter.  So, here are the resources from this week from Twitter....

1.) Getting up and ready for work might not be as mundane with the invention of Interactive Mirrors.  Just imagine waking up, going to look and the mirror and checking your email, or getting the latest sports scores and news stories....I think I am getting an "glance" of the future...haha.  Make sure you watch the videos

2.) Kevin Honeycutt - What a great resource and great website.  I actually found this site before starting this job but last track of it till recently when it was shared on Twitter.  Take a minute and visit this site.  Especially the videos and resources.

3.) Great website with information about integrating Web 2.0 into your classroom.  Highly recommend for new users of Web 2.0 content.

4.) Great resources from Free Technology 4 Teachers - How to Steer Clear of Cyber Tricks.  A must read for those unsure of Internet or that are always falling for the scams...specifically the older offense...really.

5.) Twitter List - When I first joined Twitter I was quite uncertain how to use this feature, but I came across (via Twitter) a great resource that explained how the List feature worked.  It is a great way to Make Your Tweets Manageable.

6.) A blog featured just yesterday in my Friday Focus was The Edurati Review.  The first sentence of this post really catches the attention of the reader, especially educators.  What would school look like without Due Dates?

7.) The Museum of Modern Betas - A great way to see what is new out there that you can try and offer opinions on.  Great for educators because if you can think about how to use it in the classroom then you can suggest education ideas to the creators.  Definitely worth looking at.

8.) An article about Teachers Becoming More Digitally Inclined.

9.) An interesting website that is part of The National Commission on Teaching and America's Future.  It is more or less a textbook online about Building a 21st Century U.S. Education System.

10.) Great list of Web 2.0 of Educational Tools  by #Vanmeter a school in Iowa that is leading the way in integrating Web 2.0 tools.

11.) What Makes a Great Teacher?  Interesting article and read about teaching and the difference in teachers and students.

12.) Great article about the #edchat hashtag on Twitter.  A great read to get the history of how the whole Edchat idea started.

13.) GREAT first person account in an article from a teacher in a meeting discussing teaching.  Really speaks to how many teachers feel in public education.

14.) Topsy - A Great way to search for Tweets.  You can also find out how influential you are!  Also get an idea on the number of Tweets and Retweets messages get.

15.) Link Sharing is one way we can get teachers to use more technology, by showing them what is out there.  LinkBunch is a site that helps us to do that by bunching our links together into one link....creative idea!