Sunday, February 28, 2010

Weekend Extra #5 - Twitter Tweecap

Another we has gone by, and so has another month.  Hard to believe it is already March.  Maybe it is just me, but years have seemed to go a lot faster once I started teaching.  Could be because I look at the calendar differently than those not in the education profession.  After being away, time for another addition of what I received from my PLN on Twitter.

1.) 100 Video Sites Every Educator Should Bookmark. - Great list. Some sites I have been to, others I have not.  Definitely worth bookmarking.

2.) From the iLearn Technology Blog (A blog Elementary teachers MUST follow and/or subscribe too) - Online Audio Stories - A must for elementary educators.  A great way to read and listen to stories.

3.) Great research report on Millennials.  Also a quiz available to determine how millennial you are.

4.) 1:1 Laptop program lesson plans - Great Resource.  Don't need laptops to adjust to your school if you don't have Laptops.

5.) IndispensibleTools - A Wiki of ICT websites.

6.) 100 Ways to use Twitter in the Classroom - Great List.  No excuse not to use Twitter now!

7.) The Complexity of the U.S. Tax System - Interesting graphic.  Great for a discussion on Economics.

8.) An interesting blog post about busting myths about the use of Mobile devices.

9.) From the Edge 21: Catch of the Day Blog:  Note-A-Lator is a great resource for Music Teachers.

10.) From the Educational Technology Guy Blog - Classroom Chuckles, a website where all us educators can get a good laugh.

11.) Great video with Stats on the State of the Internet

12.) Who is the Best Teacher you Ever Had?  Article from the Washington Post where students and even adults can talk about their best teacher.

13.) From the Not All Flowers and Sausages Blog - An interesting Blog Post about the teachers being fired in Rhode Island.  Not that I agree with everything in the post, or its presentation, I am always open to opinions.

14.) Top Ten Issues in Math Education - Blog Post...Great read for all teachers, not just Math Teachers.

15.) From Larry Ferlazzo's Blog - Teacher Attire...what do you think?

16.) From ISTE, a great list of Web 2.0 Tools.

17.) The Movie Hatch - Tell Hollywood what movies you want to see.

18.) Ages of Social Network Users - Interesting...............

19.) Which works better, training a teacher or a plumber?  Interesting Blog Post.

20.) iPhone Education Apps by subjects and Grade Level - Great Resource!

21.) From Teachers as Technology Trailblazer's, an iPhone App for Special Education.

22.) 23 Things to increase knowledge about Learning 2.0 that teachers can follow.  What a GREAT idea!!!

23.) Internet Safety Resources from Simple K12

24.) Defining Phrases - English Website useful to students.  Great tool for ACT preparation.

25.) Technology Solutions on a Budget.

26.) Zotero - A great way to organize, sort, and site resources from the Internet.

27.) A great list of Teaching Strategies.

Quite a list...but after Two weeks, this is quite a lot.  I also included some articles from Twitter on my Articles Page.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Thursday-Friday Combo Post - Facebook 4 Education

I was extremely busy yesterday, so I did not get a chance to post a Think Twice Thursday Post.  Since today is normally my Friday Focus post time, I thought I would combine the two. 

It has been a busy month in the area of Facebook and education and not in a positive light.  Story after story of students using Facebook to slander and defame a teacher's character.  Stories of a teacher using Facebook to rant about the behavior of students in class.  You can view these articles on my Articles Page.

Let's "face" it, Facebook is a Social Networking site.  That is its main intention.  That is not the issue though.  The issue is educating students, teachers, schools, and districts about using Facebook in a manner that promotes positive relationships between students and teachers, students and their school, schools and their community, and districts and their community.  The image of Facebook as it relates to education must be changed for Facebook to be a successful tool in education.

Several school districts, if not all, have school web pages.  Every school has parent-teacher conferences.  Every school offers meetings for parents and students to attend.  Every school has athletic, band, drama, and other events at their school.  Every school has fundraisers, important announcements and information that parents need.  The problem sometimes is getting that information to parents in a timely manner, and ensuring that it gets to every parent.  The problem is providing an easily accessible area for such communication and relationship building outside of the school building.

Facebook can provide AN answer, not THE answer to improving those relationships.  I was always told that if you can't get someone to come to where you are, then you got to go where they are.  And where are our students, parents, and community members?  Facebook.  Ask the average student the first website they go to when they get online: Facebook.  In 5-10 years (and probably today or sooner) ask the average parent the first website they visit when they log on the Internet: Facebook.

With all the negative press about Facebook though, it is hard to get districts, schools, administrators, teachers, and parents to buy into the idea of using Facebook for Education.  There has to be a way to promote the positive aspects of using Facebook in Education.  I know that Facebook is being used in Education, but those can be tough to find.  Well, hopefully I have created a possible solution or way to do that. 

All the negative press got me thinking about a way to promote the use of Facebook in education around the world.  So I created a Wiki.  A Wiki for educators, parents, administrators, schools, and districts to share how they are positively using Facebook.  Facebook 4 Education provides a website to post links, stories, articles, videos, examples of Facebook use, and Fan Pages related to education.

Think Twice about how you can or are using Facebook in education and share that information on the Facebook 4 Education Wiki.  Focus on sharing your successes of using Facebook.  Focus on helping improve the image of Facebook in education.  Help curtail the image that the media is portraying of Facebook in education.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wiki Wednesday #6 - Voicethread 4 Education

My experience with using Voicethread is very limited.  In fact I have not had the pleasure of using the software at all, although I have heard a lot of wonderful things about it.  While looking around some Wiki's, I came across Voicethread 4 Education.  It greatly improved my knowledge about what Voicethread is and how it works.

What I like about this wiki is its organization.  Very often you will find Wikis (since it is visitor submissions) that are scattered and hard to follow.  This Wiki is well maintained and has an easy to follow set up without many distractions.  First thing of interest is the Classroom Partner option.  A chart with other educators using Voicethread so that you can learn from each other.  A Voicethread PLN.

Want to include your own Voicethread, the creator Colette Cassinelli (Who is available to follow on Twitter) has done a great job of explaining the process for adding Voicethreads.  Another way to help keep the Wiki organized.  Another great organized feature is the sidebar.  You can find samples and resources organized by grade level.  Within the pages are both links to Voicethreads as well as embeded Voicethreads.  There are also sections related to Administration, college, library, Special Education, ESL/ELL/EFL.

A very important page to visit will be Best Practices.  A great way to learn about how to use Voicethread.  This is the page that I visited first.  Lesson ideas and a presentation with ways to use Voicethread in the classroom.  Voicethread is free and educator accounts are encouraged if going to use the software.  You can get more information about Ed.Voicethread on the Resources Page.

Let this Wiki be your home page for Voicethread information.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I know we are all fans of Animoto and many of us use PhotoPeach, well now there is another option.  Flixtime allows you to upload photos, video, and add text, then choose a tune and you are ready to share your film.  It claims 3 quick steps and 3 minutes.  You can create 60 second videos for free.  It appears that it also takes care of all the transitions for you as well.  I did not see an option for education, so if it is going to compete with Animoto for Education, they are going to have to provide an option.  For more information I suggest that you watch the Demo video on the front page.  Sign up is easy and no email verification is required.

Once you create an account and start creating a new video, you can Add a Cover, Insert a Title, Description, and choose the resolution.  You can upload your own photos, or even choose some from their database (a feature other sites do not have).  Text is limited on each photo and will only go between photos, not directly on them.  You get a Main Title and a Sub Title.  It is fairly easy to organize your film.  A Negative is that in the time it took me to write this paragraph, a photo never it seems kind of slow.  Could be the firewall at my school though.

Try it out for yourself.

Twitter Tuesday #7 - A Collection of Tweets

Let me start off today's post by saying that there was a lot of great education chat today via #edchat on Twitter.  If you are available at 7pm EST tonight, I suggest that you join in on the fun.  Topic focuses on the changes in 21st Century Education and 20th Century Education.  While sick I saved a collection of Tweets with valuable resources and information.  I use Instapaper to save Tweets.  It is also available on the iPhone.

1.) I am really interetsed in getting students to use Wiki's at my school...still waiting on a policy for them, but when that time comes, here is a great collection of resources for using Wiki's in the classroom.

2.) Comics in the Classroom - 100 Tips, Tools, and Resources!  I am really big on Comics and the kids love them.  Highly recommend checking this site out.

3.) From the Teacher Reboot Camp - 12 Word Cloud Resources...Something other than Wordle.  She beat me to the punch.  Planned on this for a Friday post, but why reinvent the wheel!

4.) A Huge selection of Web 2.0 resources and blog posts about each one.  Farr-Out Links to Learning.

5.) Posterize Anything - Blockposters is a site to turn anything into a wall poster for free!

6.) Want to increase fiber optic cables in your community or city?  Nomiate your community and see if Google chooses you!

7.) Here is a great social network for art teachers who are wondering how to implement Web 2.0 in their classrooms.

8.) Great list of Web 2.0 resources with screen shots of each webpage.  Addictive Tech Crisps for Education

9.) Colabopad - Interesting new Collaborative Writing Pad - Worth playing around on.

10.) Summer Workation - A place for teachers to find work during the summer.  I know I could always use some extra money.

And just for Fun...Learn Something Every Day.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Must See Monday #7 - Technology Integration...One School at a Time

Let me tell you about what is going on at my school.  I feel that the changes related to technology that we are implementing are a Must See...well, a Must Read.  I am currently working as a Technology Integration Specialist in the first year of a two year grant program to help increase and integrate the use of technology by both teachers and students.  My school is in currently in a Trimester schedule.  Each trimester I will be working with a different subject (English, Math, Social Studies, Science, and the final two trimesters are still in the works) to assist teachers with the development of lesson plans integrating technology and using technology equipment in their classroom.  Until this year, technology was rather limited in our school.  We have plenty of computer labs, but outside of teacher computer stations, teachers had very little of anything else.

The equipment includes:
1.) FLIP Camera
3.) SMART Airliner/ Slate
4.) Digital Camera
5.) Digital Video Camera
6.) Projector
7.) Laptop
8.) Turning Point Clicker System.

We are also using a multitude of Web 2.0 software that I have showcased through this blog.  Teachers have thoroughly enjoyed using Wordle, The Hero Factory, Glogster, Wallwisher, and some have used Prezi.  I have also worked at introducing teachers to RSS and Blogging, as well as encouraging creating a PLN on Twitter.  We have had several teachers who have really enjoyed and completely integrated Turning Point into their classroom as well.  Several have replaced paper quizzes with the software.  

Students have also been active in using Glogster as part of technology projects.  Another major project completed by students has been the creation of Webpages.  Students in English classrooms completed Book Reviews, and students in Math classrooms have completed websites explaining math concepts and math in the real world.  Students have also created cartoons and comics in their classrooms.  Comics were really successful in the math classrooms as well.  When I work with Social Studies I am hoping to implement Timeline websites.

As part of the grant, each department receives money to purchase technology equipment as long as they met the guidelines for the Grant.  Recently the English and Math teachers were able to choose some equipment they would like to have in their classroom.  The English teachers requested and have received 5 FLIP Cameras, 2 Projectors, and 5 Document Cameras.  In the math department we were able to get every teacher a projector.  We also were able to provide 3 Document Cameras and an Airliner to math teachers as well.  I have spent much of the past two weeks during the school day installing and setting up the technology equipment as well as training teachers on how to use the equipment.  It is important to note that we have more than tripled the amount of technology in our school this year alone.  

I was provided a cart with the same equipment, and I realized that trying to get teachers to schedule its use was not nearly as successful as just placing the cart in their classroom and giving them the opportunity to see how they would use it.  I realized it was difficult for teachers to plan a lesson including the technology.  They were much more successful when I provided the equipment, and they just took the lessons they had already developed for those days and integrated the technology into what they were already doing.  I had one teacher who realized she would use a Document Camera in every class!  Now I just need to get them to see the extra features of the camera that would make their teaching so much easier.

In several instances we were able to use the SMART Airliner to take an individual assignment a student would work on and make it into a classroom assignment.  In English, we placed a worksheet under the Document Camera and then passed around the Airliner for students to digitally write the answers to the questions.  It was thoroughly enjoyed by students.  It completely changed the impact of the lesson and the teachers were really pleased with the reactions of the students to using the technology.

I have been thoroughly impressed with what many teachers in my school have done with technology in their classrooms, considering it was really an afterthought to their lessons prior to this year.  Several teachers have completely bought into the program.  Several are still working to integrate technology on a regular basis, and are improving as they get adjusted to the idea.

I am sure there are other schools out there who are implementing similar programs.  What are your schools doing?  I know many teachers use technology, but what about your school, outside your classroom?  Be interesting to see what else is going on out there.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Think Twice Thursday #6 - How do you Reflect?

In a continuation of my Tuesday Post about my experiences with #edchat, I thought a lot about what people said, and also what I said myself.  In my new position, I don't get to necessarily teach students anymore.  The previous years as a teacher I would often reflect on my day when I went home and talked to my wife who is also a teacher.  I realize now that I never wrote any of those reflections down.  I can't go back and grow from those discussions with my wife, because I can't remember them to this day.

One of the suggestions that I made was that teachers should blog as a method of reflection.  It would be an easy way for administrators to open up a dialogue with their teachers about what is going on in their classroom.  It is difficult for administrators to get to a teachers classroom more than maybe once a month.  So, for any administrators reading this blog, I suggest that you THINK TWICE about asking/suggesting/requiring your teachers to create a reflection blog.  They could even attach documents and lesson information which could alleviate the portfolios or assessment notebooks they are already doing.  This would be a good way for you to assess the effectiveness of teachers in your building, because they are assessing their own effectiveness.

I always thought about writing a book about all the funny things that students say and do when I retire.  A blog would have been a good way for me to remember those.  Teachers could use a blog to write about classroom experiences, student humor, lesson successes and failures, and ask questions that readers of the blog could answer.  Readers could offer support and suggestions about an issue that the teacher might be struggling with that they discuss on their blog.  Self-assessment is probably the best kind of assessment that one could do.  A blog would be an excellent way to reflect.  So to teachers that read my blog, I suggest that you THINK TWICE about how you reflect, and start reflecting by creating a blog.  Within this blog assess the effectiveness of your teaching, lessons, assessment, activities, and relationship with your students.

This blog has been a great way for me to organize and share much of the ideas, thoughts, and resources that I find useful and that I have shared with the teachers in my building.  With my new job there are plenty of instances that offer chances for reflection.  Tuesday's #edchat got me thinking about reflecting about my own experiences.  So it is a double standard for me to sit here and suggest to my readers that you all should blog, if I myself do not do it.  So I am going to THINK TWICE about how I reflect and assess my effectiveness by creating a reflection blog about my experiences as a Technology Integration Specialist.  If you maintain a blog and are out of the classroom, you too should THINK TWICE about keeping a reflection blog to assess your effectiveness.

I will be starting one shortly and will share once I get it off the ground.  I am thinking of titling it "Reflection = Happiness???"

Another point/suggestion made during #edchat to get teachers encouraged to blog at my school was for me to offer to watch one of their classes one day for creating and maintaining a blog.  While subbing in their classroom I would do a lesson with technology.  I think I will look into this.  I will let you know how it goes if I decide to tackle such an interesting concept.  Must thank ElephantsGerald for the suggestion.

Create a blog, and THINK TWICE about assessing your effectiveness.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wiki Wednesday #5 - Copyright Confusion

As teachers, we all know the trouble that the Internet and the Web has caused when it comes to students using Copyrighted material or plagiarizing  someone elses work.  I know that it has been a constent battle within our school system when it comes to portfolios and posting student work on teacher webpages, something that is completely new to our district.

Well, there is a Wiki out there that will help answer some of the questions you might be having and address the issues that you are facing.  Copyright Confusion is a great place to learn about the Code for Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy.  You can learn more about this Code by reading the PDF which is provided on the Wiki.

One of the best resources on the site is a worksheet that allows you to determine if the use of copyrighted material could be considered fair use.  This would be a great tool to evaluate projects or for planning your own project.  You can view the concept and fill out the worksheet here.  Another link worth visiting is the Scenarios page.  What a great way to learn if something you are doing violates copyright laws.

This site would be a great way for you to start a project or to provide to your students so that they have a better understanding of how to avoid getting in trouble with copyright and plagiarism.  Just spend some time here looking through and educating yourself.  If you feel you have something to add, do so...that is why it is a Wiki!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Twitter Tuesday #6...From Sick and Unplugged to First #edchat

Well, being sick sure did take a lot from me.  I was unplugged from Twitter for quite a while.  I guess you know you are sick when you are to tired and just don't feel like reading and updating Twitter!  I jumped right back in tonight though, and participated in my first #edchat.  It was a great experience discussing teacher evaluation and how teachers assess their own classroom and teaching.  The usual responses were mentioned, but then there were also some others.  Most teachers will tell you that portfolio's, scheduled walk-through's, and student surveys do little to help teachers learn about themselves.  Most of the time, its ineffectiveness is not because of the process, it is because of the user.

We always had a saying when I worked in retail and a customer would bring in a computer with problems that we could not solve...."I guess it must be user error."  Same thing for teacher assessment.  If you don't use the tools correctly, then it must be user error.  If you don't take information you learn about yourself to improve what you are doing, the only person to blame is the user.  Think about it.

One option is Peer Observation, but how do you monitor it?  How do you ensure that teachers really are observing each other?  You could probably require a form, but does that really ensure that learning and assessing was going on?  Probably not.  One suggestion I had was to have teachers on planning go with a principal when they complete a walk-through.  This would ensure that peer observations are going on and when post observation meetings happen, that teacher could also participate.  Maybe even participate in the pre-observation meeting.

I am not teaching now, but keeping a blog has been a great form of reflection for me in this new job.  I take much of what I find and reflect on how it could be used in the classroom.  I then share that with teachers.  I know that keeping a reflection blog would receive quite a response, but if you could trade that for keeping a big binder portfolio would you?  Most of the time, a portfolio completed by teachers has the necessary parts required by the administration/district thrown in there, and often times, nothing new is put in, even though you have new students. There is also very little reflection.

Another topic within the #edchat was assessing Administrators.  Most of their assessment comes from test scores, attendance, teacher retention, etc.  But who assesses them on things like communication, organization, leadership, etc.?  Should teachers have a say in such evaluations?  A lot of that comes down to respect.  Would an administrator respect the opinion of a teacher fresh out of college?  If you create such a system, who is in charge of seeing suggestions implemented?  Teachers always have to show evidence, would administrators have the same requirements; to show evidence?  Just throwing this out there.

So, on top of all the other reasons why I have created a Twitter account and started Tweeting, I discovered that #edchat in itself is a whole reason in its own.  Through #edchat, I also discovered many other educators that I added to my PLN.  So if you have a free Tuesday night, 7 EST time, or 12 EST, you can join in the fun by searching for #edchat and then following the conversation, and when you are comfortable, join the conversation.  Just following the conversation will open a ton of doors, so don't feel like you have to immediately join the conversation.  Get a feel for it first.

I am sure that there was a lot more to the #edchat conversation from tonight, but these were the conversations that I took part in and wanted to highlight.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Must See Monday #6 - Ahead - Playground for Creative Minds

As most of my readers know, I am a big fan of Prezi.  I recently wrote a post about other ways to complete lecture other than Power Point.  Upon completing that post, I discovered another option; Ahead presentation software.  It was also suggested in a comment on my Blog.  So I thought it was only appropriate to discuss it today.

Ahead is very similar to Prezi.  It has a 3D canvas for creating your presentation.  It allows you to zoom in and out on aspects of your presentation.  What I like about it compared to Prezi is that you get more options for creating your presentation, especially when it comes to fonts and text.  It bodes itself as "No Coding, No Boundaries."

Ahead is for people with more tech savvy backgrounds, but for those that are not, I highly suggest that you visit the tutorial for help creating your presentation.  Another benefit is that it gives you the option of 25 prearranged slides if you have a fear of an infinite open space to work on...might be useful for those wanting less freedom.

When creating your presentation, you create scenes, which can be put in order within your presentation.  That is how the software knows where to go in your presentation.  You can upload any file to the presentation, video, audio, picture, PDF, etc, however, it does take some time to upload the file, so you might want to upload any files to the presentation to start with, so they are ready when you need them.

It definitely takes some getting used too, but it is definitely worth looking at to help change up your normal lectures.  You could easily copy and paste from your old Power Point Presentations as well.  My suggestion, is just visit the site and play around for a while and see how you might use it....that is what i did.  When you visit the homepage, click on the arrows in the bottom of the right of your screen and go through to learn about Ahead.  Here is a screen shot of the homepage.

You can follow the company on Twitter.  I am, so that I can make recommendations for education use and licensing.  You should follow them too and make the same suggestions!

Friday, February 12, 2010

100th Post - The Growth of my PLN

Around 3 months ago I started this blog with different ideas for where I wanted it to go, and who I was hoping to reach with it.  For my 100th post, I want to focus on my PLN; the people who follow this blog, follow me on Twitter, and that I follow on Twitter.  The whole blogging experience has been probably the most influential of any professional development that I have had while teaching.  Partly because of what I have learned and found, but mostly because I have been able to share that information with others and hear of their personal experiences and then share them.

So what is a PLN?  Well, it could mean Professional Learning Network, or even Personal Learning Network.  That is the literal meaning of the acronym, but what does it really mean?  Imagine for a minute teaching in a school where some of the most influential educators all teach.  Imagine teaching in a school where the administrators encourage new and innovative ways to teach to your students.  Imagine teaching in a school where all those teachers share their ideas and lessons openly without fear of being seen as "that teacher."  That is the experience of a PLN.  Sharing ideas and experiences with people who enjoy what you have to share and openly share their personal experiences.

Most of my PLN started via a few Social Networks that I follow.  The first one that I joined was Classroom 2.0.  Very helpful in allowing me to share my blog as well as get feedback for future ideas.  I also met some people in the same career path as me, as well as some teacher education students who were enthusiastic about learning from other educators.  Another social network that I discovered was the Educator's PLN.  This was another website that allowed me to meet other educators who were experiencing the same change in education that I was experiencing, and many of these same members I follow on Twitter.

Then of course there is Twitter.  This is truly where the growth of my PLN started to grow.  I went from a few followers and following a few people to following over 100 (which I hope to increase soon), and being followed by over 200 in a matter of a month.  The problem with Twitter is its perception through out the education world. Yes, it originally and is still perceived as a Social Network.  But for is a Professional Network.  It is where I discover new ideas.  It is where I experience new thoughts.  It is where I find people who share many of the same educational values and beliefs that I do, and we discuss those without fear of egos, retribution, or fear itself.  From my original post about Twitter, you can tell that I am passionate about its use as an educational tool.  So let this be another opportunity for me to suggest joining Twitter and learning more about your PLN.  To give you another example, Dodie Ainslie Tweeted for suggestions for  what to include in a professional development about using Twitter.  I replied with ideas and from that, I had about 10 new teachers to Twitter begin to follow me....thus starting the creation of their own PLN.

Another opportunity came through Kelly Tenkely and the creation of a Blogging Alliance.  You can read more about the Blogging Alliance and see how to add the blogs to your Reader Account on her blog here.  By visiting the blog, you can click on a link to subscribe to the bundle of educational blogs.  This type of Alliance created a whole other type of a professional network for me to get to know and follow.  I highly recommend that you check out and follow our Alliance.

So, my questions for you are....what is keeping you from creating your own PLN?  Will you break away from the trend of most teachers and branch out from what is comfortable in your classroom and school and start a PLN?

Remember the following quote:
"CHANGE IS LIKE THE SUN, YOU EITHER CHANGE BECAUSE YOU FEEL THE HEAT, OR BECAUSE IT CAUSES YOU TO OPEN YOUR EYES." Not my own, saw in a book, drawing a blank on the author's name.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Think Twice Thursday #5 - Oh Come On...Not Another Power Point?!?!

Now, let me start off by saying that I am probably one of the most guilty users of Power Point in my classroom.  I created and have a Power Point for every unit that I teach.  I can only imagine how boring it was for my students after the 2nd unit to see me start up my computer and projector to begin another section of lecture using Power Point.

Power Point is a very useful tool.  It is a very easy way to present information.  It is a very easy way to organize information for students.  It is very easy to add pictures and video.  It is also very easy to use wrong and use slides the wrong way.  It is also very redundant, and thus, very boring.  Students are tired of Power Point.  Most of them will tell you they have done more Power Point than any other kind of projects.  How many Power Point Presentations have you created???

Five years ago...heck, two years ago, Power Point was THE method of using technology in the classroom for many teachers.  Because of Web 2.0, teachers have more options for presenting content to their students.  So with this post, I make a suggestion.  Think Twice about using Power Point for your next lecture presentation.  Instead, use some of the other tools out there.

Digtial Story Telling - Use sites like PhotoPeach (which you can turn your presentation into Quizzes) or Animoto.  Tell your lecture through pictures.  You can also download Photostory 3 from Microsoft.  Another option is Voicethread and make the lecture more interactive.  Storybird would be another option, and your students could add to the lecture

Glogster - Make a lecture into a Glog.  You can easily link to outside websites that enhance your lecture and then return back to the Glog.  Embed videos and audio clips for your students to watch and listen to while you take a break from the lecture.  A great change of pace to Power Point, with some of the same features.

Prezi - Take that linear Power Point Presentation, and put it on a 3D canvas.  Upload videos, pictures, and PDF's.  Zoom in and focus on a certain aspect of your presentation.  Students who have not seen Prezi, will probably be more attentive in class that day seeing you use a new presentation tool.

Comic Strips and Cartoons - Yes...Comic Strips and Cartoons.  Make your lecture into comic books.  Make it entertaining for your students.  Imagine the reaction students would have that day if you had a cartoon for their lecture that day.  You can visit my previous post for information on Comic Strip and Cartoon websites.

Virsona - Create lecture from the perspective from someone in history in the form of a chat.  Let your students ask the questions to lead the lecture.  You can see my blog post about it here.  Or for entertainment purposes, you could use a site like Blabberize, and record the lecture ahead of time.

Timeline - There are plenty of Timeline Applications on the web.  You can visit my blog post about them here.  Take your lecture to a new level and present it in a timeline, giving your students chronological order within the lecture, helping students with their organization.

Again, don't get me wrong, Power Point is great...but it is time that we rethink or Think Twice about how we use it in our classrooms.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Twitter Tuseday #5 - Twitter Apps

With the rise in Twitter there are plenty of viable options for Twitter Desktop Applications, iPhone Applications, and other Smartphone Applications.  I will first examine the Desktop Twitter Applications.  I also am a PC guy (currently) so these will all be Windows based programs.  There are more than these, but these are the ones that I found the most information about.  They are in no particular order.

Tweetdeck - This is the desktop app that I use.  What I like is the user interface.  It is also compatible with your Facebook.  I don't really use it for that.  It  will automatically shorten URL's in your tweets as well.  You can view replies, Direct Messages, etc. in its own column keeping you connected with Twitter while working on other things.  It minimizes to your toolbar as well and displays a "tweet" window when you receive any new tweets.  You can also get the application on your iPhone.

Hootsuite - Advertises itself as a more "professional" Twitter Client.  You can get your LinkedIn, Facebook, and Ping accounts via the desktop software.  You can schedule tweets and organize into Columns and Tabs.  You can track statistics and even retrieve embed codes so that you can add search columns to your website.  You can also get the application on your iPhone.

Seesmic - Like the others you can organize our tweets and Facebook feeds into columns.  You can also incorporate your saved searches and Twitter List.  Nothing really different from the others.  I did notice that it seems to be the one application that has a Twitter client for every model of SmartPhone..except the iPhone.

Skimmer - Same features.  Main difference is that it can be linked to Blogger, Flickr, and Youtube, as well as Facebook.  Basically, it keeps you from checking the websites that you probably visit everyday.  Other than that, there is not much difference than the others.  By visiting the site you can view some screenshots of the application.

Digsby - Includes IM and Email inclusion as well as linking to Facebook and Twitter.  It creates a toolbar at the bottom of your screen with access to the accounts that you grant it too.  You can visit the website for screenshots and a demo video to help further explain some of the many features.

iPhone Apps
I own an iPhone.  Just got it, so upon joining Twitter, I immediately starting looking for a good Twitter App.  I currently use Twitbird.  I suggest that you just search "Twitter" from the App Store and read the reviews and features to determine which is best for you.  There are MANY, MANY others, but I will look at some of the more popular ones here:

Twitbird (comes in three versions: Free, Pro, Premium).  Each one offers different features.  The free version will come with some advertisements in your tweets.  Worth paying under $3.00 just to not have to see them!  I like the Push Notification Feature (cost a little extra) but it will alert you of replies and direct messages.  You can also create an Instapaper account to save links.  Very user friendly.  You can visit the software creator's site here.

Tweetie 2 - Brand new recently updated.  Does not offer Push Notifications according to the description I read, but will probably be in a future update.  Has a lot of features, probably more than I need.

Twitterific Premium - Can also be downloaded as a desktop application for Macs.  I originally used this one before changing over to Twitbird.  It has a lot of great features as well.  No Push Notifications, and from what I have read, not many differences between the paid and free version.  I liked the dark theme and the many different colors of the Tweets.

SimplyTweet - You can view the developers website here.  SimplyTweet has a lot of the similar features.  Has Push Notifications as well as many different themes.  You can also view it in landscape and portrait mode.  Something the other Apps allow as well.

EchoFon Pro - Formerly known as Twitterfon, and you can visit the developers website here.  Supports Push Notifications.  Can be used for free SMS according to the website.  Also is available as a desktop App for Macs.  Like the others, you can also setup multiple Twitter accounts.

Twittelator Pro - You can visit the developers website here.  It advertises the ability to create your own theme.  Includes many dingbats, or emoticons to enhance your Tweets.  Advertises over 200 features, but one of those is NOT Push Notifications...if it had that, this would probably be the most complete App for Twitter.

BlackBerry Twitter Apps Information
- Free BlackBerry Twitter Apps Roundup
- Seesmic for Blackberry
- Article over official RIM Twitter App

Droid and Nexus One Twitter Apps
- Twidroid
- Top Three Twitter Clients
- TweetCaster
- Seesmic

Monday, February 1, 2010

Must See Monday #5 - All My Faves

You are probably thinking this is going to be a list of all my favorites...but it is not.  All My Faves is actually a "search" engine of the websites that appear to be the favorites for a given week or topic.

While visiting one of the feeder middle schools as part of my job, the math teacher introduced me to the website All My Faves.  It is a search engine of the most favorite links and/or the most popular links.  What I like most about it is that you can see the most favorite by category...and then by subject, or sub-category.  When you hover your mouse over the favorite you want to visit, it gives you the title of the website as well as a brief description.

Topics can also be separated by country (Brazil, India, Australia, Unites States, United Kingdom, and Canada) as well.  The categories that you can view are Blogs, Education, Entertainment, Games, Kids, Shopping, Travel, and then Weekly Faves.

Education is the one that I will focus on for the purpose of this Blog Post.  Under the education tab you will find websites separated by Subject matter, and then board topics such as Home school, Libraries, Technology, Writing Skills, etc.  A neat way to find out what is popular in education on the web.  Below is a screenshot of the webpage.

The Weekly Faves is also another section worth examining for the purpose of seeing what are the most popular websites for the week.  It also has 2009 Favorites and provides an archive for each week as well as 2007-2009, which could make for an interesting history assignment.  Blogs is also worth looking at for finding blogs about specific topics you might be interested in outside of education.

Hope you find something you like here.

Blio eReader

Maybe the competition to the iPad and the Kindle will be Blio.  Blio is a state of the art eReader, a Bookstore, and has a superior graphic display.  Blio is software.  It will be available soon for PC's, Laptops, Netbooks, and Mobile Phones.  You can browse through more than 1 million of right now.  Once you download a book, you won't need an Internet Connection to read it.

You can find out more about Blio on their About Page, which also has a nice comparison chart of other eReaders.  The bookstore will be available in February.  I know this post is on February 1st, but not this soon.  It is definitely worth bookmarking and checking back to see when the software is available.  I expect it to be an App for the iPhone as well soon after the official release.  The image below shows many of the special features.

21st Century Census

As most of us know, every 10 years the United States completes a Census to gather important data about our population, mostly for determining members of the House of Representatives...or the only reason politicians care about the Census.  In case your math is not up to par, the last census was in 2000, the beginning of the 21st Century.  When I look back 10 years I am astounded by all that has changed in the world of education and technology and their relationship to one another.

Many of the technological software and hardware that we find ourselves often "not able to live with out" were just a thought or in their early stages in 2000.  Smartphones, Facebook, Twitter, WiFi, Wireless Networking, Nintendo Wii, Netbooks, and Web 2.0 to name a few.  They have all had a great impact on our lives and education.  With a lot of these changes, our growth in technology is helping us all to be more connected.  One of Obama's goals is the creation of wireless networking for the entire country; free WiFi.

With the upcoming census, it would be to the benefit of the citizens of the United States to figure out where American families stand with technology.  So here are some simple questions that we should include in the 2020 Census, if not 2010.

1.) How many computers/laptops are located within your household?
2.) If you have Internet, what speed do you currently use to connect to the Internet (Dial-up, DSL, Cable, Satellite)?
3.) Do you use wireless Internet?
4.) Do you actively use Social Media/Social Networking Sites like Twitter and Facebook?
5.) Do you own a Smartphone such as a Blackberry or iPhone?  Do you plan on purchasing one in the near future?
6.) Does your work/school require the use of computers?
7.) Does your work require the use of a Smartphone?

What questions would you include so that we could get a better understanding of "Technology in America?"