Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Twitter Tuesday - March Final Edition

Hard to believe that we are already at the end of March.  Considering I started this blog and started using Twitter in December, I wonder what I would have known had I started in August, or even last school year.  I am doing a Professional Development on Twitter and Blogging and hope to transmit how Twitter and Blogging have transformed my passion about education, teaching, and students.  So much is lost these days with legislation and budget cuts that we are forgetting who is affected the most.  Students. 

But enough rambling, time for the great Twitter Tweecap from the past week.

1.) As a History teacher, a Ning like this would be really beneficial.  The Teaching History with Web 2.0 Tools is great for social studies teachers to join and share how they are using Web 2.0 in the Social Studies Classrooms.  By the way, when I shared this Ning on Twitter last week, it went from 6 members to 31.  And the Ning was created as part of a PD.  You can see the creators blog here

2.) The 23 Things Project is designed to help introduce you to tools that can help transform your classroom, school, and teachign style.  Thanks to @Web20Classroom for such a great project and idea.  Also another great link from his Blog is "Why a PLN?"  A great voicethread!

3.) Want to learn more about Web 2.0?  Well take a class!  This is a self paced experience to help you learn about Web 2.0 and create an online protfolio.  Great to share with new teachers and teachers interested in using Web 2.0.

4.) 25 Essential Free iPhone Apps for e-Learners

5.) TubeChop - Allows you to easily chop sections of YouTube videos and save for later.

6.) Dreams of Education - A new blog by @ktenkely that discusses all things that many of us wish education would be and focus on.  Looking forward to it as an addition to the Blogging Alliance :)

7.) My school system uses Turning Point because of its easy integration with Power Point.  Here is a list of 10 Ways to use Turning Point to make your classroom interactive.

8.) Share with your students the 15 Essential Web Tools for Students.  Gerat stuff!!!

9.) From @RusselTarr - A great way to edit pictures online using Cut My Pic.  Also a great Countdown Timer...that lets you choose music and upload your own!!

10.) Want to build a website?  Try one of these 45 Web Builders.  Really?  That Many?

11.) A MUST READ!!!  10 Gaps in Education that don't get enough Press

12.) Interested in starting a Blog using Blogger?  Check out these Blogger Video Tutorials.

13.) Lit 2 Go - A great way to put literature on your students iPods.  Especially if you have an iPod Touch Prorgam.

14.) Want to share files online?  Here are the 5 Best Sites for Online File Storage and Sharing.

15.) Fresh Brain - A place for students to create Facebook Applications, Video Games, and Videos.

16.) Math teachers are always looking for movies to show in class.  Well, this website has a TON of clips. Way to go Harvard!

17.) Constitution Facts - Great for government classrooms.  I was always looking for a great way to teach the Constitution.

18.) A Wallwisher Wall trying to findout what your favorite Web 2.0 Tools are.  Share your favorites.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Must See Monday #12 - Digital Story Telling

Digital Story Telling is the idea of taking pictures and videos to tell a story.  There are a lot of sites and software out there that allow you to complete such a task.  A lot of educators have favorited Animoto because they have an education account that allows students to get complete use of their website.  Another option is Photo Peach, which is great for teachers because it allows you to instantly create a quiz from your Digital Story.  The newest one on the scene is Flixtime.  Then of course, their is the original Photo Story from Microsoft.  These are not the only options though.  I have discovered three new ones that I think are of interest in sharing here.  One True Media, Masher, and Stupeflix are sites that could be used as Digital Story Telling websites. 

One True Media requires email and password set up, but there is no email verification required.  Immediately I noticed that it informs you how long it will take to upload files over a certain size and the type of files that it will accept.  Upon uploading you can monitor progress making it easy to know where you are at when uploading mulitple files.  The following are supported file types:
MPEG (.mpeg, .mpg, .mp4)
QuickTime (.mov)
Audio Video Interleave (.avi)
Windows Media Video (.wmv)
3G Mobile Phone Video (.3gp, .3g2)
JPEG (.jpg or .jpeg)

The editing tools allow you to add text slides as well as captions.  There is also the option of editing the photo after it has been uploaded.  The feature so far that I have not seen elsewhere is the ability to add styles, which is basically creating background and inclusive effects for your project.  There is also the feature of adding music to the presentation, with the ability to upload your own.  If students really like their creation there is also the option to purchase a DVD version of a Digital Story.

First and immediate thought about Masher, Email Verification.  Makes it pretty hard to use in the classroom since most schools ban outside email account use by students.  Same as the others though.  It allows for the uploading of photos, videos and the slection of music.  A feature I had not seen on others that Masher has is special effects that happen over the photo.  The sample I watched had "fireworks" appear.  Not sure I like that for educational purposes because it could be a distraction from the purpose of the Digital Story.  What also stinks about Email Verification is in the time it took me to type this post, I have yet to receive my email to be verified so that I can use their website.  Slow turn around will make me go elsewhere.  Makes it hard to tell you about the site when I can't get access to it.  I double checked my email as well.

Stupeflix (Why do I feel like I am saying Stupid Flix) does not require email verification, but does require the usual information to sign up.  First thing I notice that is different is the choice of a theme.  You have four options, which I think all can be adapted to a student project.  You can add the usual photos and videos from your computer or other media sites such as Facebook, Picasa, and Flickr.  You are able to watch the progress as the pictures are uploaded.  What I do like, is adding text gives you the option of as either captions or before the images.  The music option only allows uploading from your computer; they do not have music on the site to choose from.  Organizing of Photos is very simplistic as well.  A very simple user interface.

One thing I noticed with these sites is that my Firewall and Proxy settings inteferred with the uploading of my photos.  Might be best to upload to Picasa or Flickr and then use them.

If looking for music for Digital Stories, I suggest Royalty Free Music as a good place to start.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Focus - Social Signature For Me

Recently, as in this week, a fellow educator and tech savvy Twitter colleague decided to pursue the creation of his very own Web 2.0 website.  Jason Bedell, who not only was creating this site, but also organizing TeechMeet in Nashville, posted on his blog a beta version of a Social Signature Creator that people could create for their blogs or websites.  This signature creator would contain the icons of social media sites that you would like visitors to your blog to see so that they could follow you in other places on the web.

The beta version was a great concept, and within a few days, this beta version with a few social media sites had grown into a Social Signature Creator with around 20 Social Media sites and its ver own URL and Domain.  Social Sig For Me is a great concept considering the growth of Social Media.  Also consider that other options out there are not as extensive or as easily customizable.  Social Sig For Me is still a work in progress, and suggestions for other Social Signatures would be greatly appreciated so that the site can grow. 

You can see a sample of the signature at the top of my blog.

I encourage you to use, share and help support the creation of this Web 2.0 website by a fellow educator.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wiki Wednesday #9 - THREE!!

Normally I try and stick to just one Wiki for my Wednesday post, but I have come across three really good ones that I thought I should share, and the great thing about them is that they all center around Web 2.0.  Each of these will offer lessons, links, resources, etc.  I am really impressed with all these.

Here is a Wiki dedicated to Digital Story Telling.  There are links to free images and audio and information about copyright.  There are also links to Story Starters, Lesson Plans, and Projects using Digital Story Telling Tools.  I realized visiting this site that there are a lot more options out there than Photo Peach, Animoto, Flixtime, and Photo Story.  There is also a section that offers links to examples of Digital Stories.  Looking for articles discussing the use of Digital Stories?  There are tons of those as well.  Take some time to visit this site, especially if planning on creating a Digital Story.  It is a great starting point and a great resource for teachers hesitant about creating a Digital Story.

A combination of Web 2.0 tools and 21st Century education.  The front page of the wiki has all the resources linked by category in alphabetical order.  There are direct links to tons of Web 2.0 tools and software as well as links to reviews that people have done on their blogs.  A great idea to organize and promote your blog..  The author of the Wiki has also authored six volumes of digital books that contain information about the Web 2.0 tools and 21st Century Education.  Definitely worth checking out and sharing with colleagues.

Another great Web 2.0 Wiki.  What I like about this Wiki is the organization and images on the front page that organize Web 2.0 tools to Cognitive Level, Learning Style, Stage of Inquiry, and Categories.  Resources are also organized by what you are wanting to do and then it links to possible resources.  The contributors to this Wiki have done an excellent job.  It has a lot of wonderful aspects of a Wiki.  There is even a quiz and crossword puzzle to test your knowledge on using Web 2.0 Tools that could be very useful for teachers.  In the end all of the resources are broken down by category.  And the homepage is a Glog!

Take a minute to visit and contribute your own thoughts and resources.  This is the greatest aspect of a Wiki.  With the growth of the Internet and Web 2.0 tools, a Wiki is going to be the main way to obtain and organize information.

And don't forget to add ways that you have used Facebook in Education to the following Wiki

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Must See Monday #11 - Avatara

Yes, I know it is Tuesday, and I know I normally do Twitter stuff, but I just found this site and was completely busy yesterday; first day really back at my home school in two weeks, so plenty of work to catch up on.  A lot of people on Twitter that I follow talk about creating an avatar, or a computer image of yourself.  Sites like Voki give you the ability to create a talking head that you can create an image of yourself.  No offense, we have plenty of talking heads out there!

Avatara is a little different.  It is a full body, 3D avatar of yourself.  You can easily link the 3D image to Facebook, MySpace, Blogger, and Wordpress among others on the list.  Joining is as easy as an email address, password, and security code.  You get the option to choose from a blank avatar, pre-made, or upload a photo of yourself, but photo specifications are very specific.  Image must be 104800 Bytes in size, which I did not have handy, so I just used the blank options.

It is rather funny sorting through the different faces and features.  You can easily organize by male, female, and ....creature, which is not for me.  You can choose facial features, body features, and even an animation.  I felt like I was making an avatar for Tiger Woods Golf when I used to play it.  The one I created does not look exactly like me, but I think if I uploaded a proper picture it would be rather neat.  Avatara has one of Barack Obama that is very close to the real thing.

Visit Avatara and make a 3D rendering of yourself.  What about your students?  Could you see them using this?  Be a great way to create a virtual yearbook of students at a school.  Maybe in the future this is what yearbooks will be.  That is if they are not obsolete because of Facebook.

Here is mine...kind of funny!

Click here to view my Avatar!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Twitter Tuesday #9 - Top 20+ From the Weekend.

What a busy weekend.  Not really for me, but on Twitter.  I got a lot of great resources as well as articles about the "NCLB 2.0" as it is being called, or The Obama's Administration plan for Education.

1.) I am working on a Wiki for Facebook in Education and was shared a blog post by Tomorrow's Tech in Today's Schools about using a Facebook Template as part of a project in Power Point.  I know we hate Power Point, but it completely changes how it is used.  Check it out.  Great idea!

2.) Education Reform Policy Articles and Links:
3.) A collection of Online Videos, Lessons, Games, and Quizzes: NeoK12

4.) From Shelly Terrell, a great video and resource for explaining the purpose of a PLN and Networking.  Also the creation of a Wiki about Networking.  Worth visiting if contemplating working to create your own PLN.

5.) From a YouTube search, a great list of Smart Notebook Video Tutorials

6.) A new craze are inforgraphics.  Here is 35 Great Social Media Infographics and The State of the Internet video.

7.) Two Reasons for Teaching Facebook in Schools.  I am contemplating a video of some kind with my students about value and safety of Facebook.  This might come in handy.

8.) iPod Touch/iPhone Apps for students.  Pretty nice list.

9.) Larry Ferlazzo wants to help a Blogger and Twitterer reach a larger Audience.  Nominate a Blog or Twitterer HERE.

10.) ZuiTube - Great videos for kids.

11.) KySTE attendees who are on Twitter.  Supporting my fellow Kentuckians on the Twitterverse and others.

12.) Educators Sharing Resources on Diigo - A GREAT group to join.

13.) Evaluating Websites - A great list of references.

14.) U.S. to Roll out Major Broadband Policy  - From Yahoo!  You can also visit Broadband.gov

15.) Google Earth in Education Resources

16.) TxtBlaster - Similiar to my post about texting students using your email.  This is online.

17.) Amazing Web 2.0 Projects - A Book!!  PDF

18.) In case you have not seen this, Teachers on Twitter - A Wiki.  Browse by subject matter.  Also a list of educators who share resources.

19.) ScribbleMaps - Draw on Google Maps - Interesting.

20.) 92 Videos That Will Make You Go: Huh, Whoa, Wow, Ahhh and Ha-Ha - Great list...must find time to look at them.

And finally, a picture is worth 1000 words.  Here is how so many in education feel today with the changes to education policy.  Where does responsibilty for failing schools REALLY fall??

Monday, March 15, 2010

Must See Monday #10 - TypeWith.Me

At the KySTE conference I attended last week I was introduced to TypeWithMe by Jeremy Renner during his session on his 10 Favorite Web Tools.  During the conference we used TypeWithMe to introduce ourselves to him and each other.  I had not seen this website before.  It reminded me of TodaysMeet, only better options.

What I like about TypeWithMe is that the typing is real time.  As you type in the text, it will appear on the screen...from anyone.  Currently it is limited to 16 participants in the room at the same time, but for AP classes, this would be a useful tool.  If necessary you could have two rooms for larger classes.  Every person in the room can also choose a color (8 choices) that will be the background of their text.  It is really useful in seeing who is typing and when.

Here is a sample page so you can see it in action.

You can easily pre-enter text for people when they come in the room (Questions, Links, Quotes, etc) that will help get the typing started.  There is also a chat window to the bottom right where you could have a whole other conversation.  It allows you to import a Word, PDF, or RTF file as well.  You can also export what you are typing to Word, PDF, HTML, Plain Text, and others.  would be great for posting to the web so students could view the conversation later.  The final option is a Time Slider which will allow you to scan through the conversation at the time it was occurring.  A great way to log your conversation as well, especially if you are looking for something that was said at a certain time.

So how could you use this in your classroom?
1.) Provided to me by Russ Goerend - Have students type one sentence at a time to create a story.
2.) Use as a supplment to lecture for students to ask questions
3.) Have students use during a movie to ask questions or share their thoughts about it
4.) While reading novels/books in class let students type questions or discuss the book live while reading so they don't forget as they read
5.) Use during a guest speaker to remember responses as well as questions and students thoughts.

What ideas do you have?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Twitter Tweecap - March 2nd Edition

Another dose of all things that I received via Twitter.  Some interesting stuff.  One thing I have realized is that I picked a great time to start blogging and Tweeting because there is so much going on with Education!

1.) Fun Facts from the RtTT (Race to The Top) Applications - This is an interesting look at the applications submitted by the states.  Is it a good thing that Kentucky is not on the list?

2.) Looking for a resource to share with your staff about the expectations of teachers in the 21st Century?  Here is a great list of the 21 Things for 21st Century Educators!

3.) For all of us using Blogger, they now have a highly customizable templates designer.

4.) Teaching Geometry with Google Sketch Up - Yeah, I got a bad grade in Geometry, but for those of you that didn't, maybe you can understand this more than me.

5.) From the iLearn Technology Blog - WeboWord

6.) Merit Pay, Teacher Pay, and Value Added Measures - YouTube Video

7.) Top Members on Twitter in Educational Technology

8.) From the Teacher Tech Blog - 50 Web 2.0 Tools Your Students Wish You Would Use - It will link you to a Google Site.  Interesting Stuff.

9.) 50 Best Blogs for Education Leaders

10.) From the Educational Technology Guy - Free Educational Technology Journals and Resources.

11.) Get the Exact Time and know if how much off your computer or iPhone is.

12.) Using Technology to Transform Schools - Remarks by Arne Duncan

13.) Funny Video - Facebook Manners shared by Russel Tarr

There were some others I found on Twitter.  Some of them I shared on my Articles page.  It was rather busy, so I did not get to look through all my PLN was saying very much this week.  Will be another busy week.  State High School Basketball Tournament.  No one does it like Kentucky!

A Few New Web 2.0 Tools

A great way to create online Photo Books is through Picaboo.  It is a software that requires you to download it, but it offers a great way to create photo album on your computer with a lot of great features.  There are tons of tools for your photo book that allow you to customize how it looks.  You can add backgrounds, custom layouts, text boxes so you can label your photos.  You can also organize your photos to create a story flow so that your pictures go in sequential order.  There are also several other tools that could be used for a personal or school projects.

You could easily have your students use Picaboo to do a biography project in your class over an author, scientist, historical figure, etc.  Would be a great way to present information to the class, especially with the ability to add text and put in sequential order.  I suggest that you download and try it out yourself to see if there can be an educational application in your classroom.

Preceden is a simple timeline creation tool.  It is free to use.  It would be ideal if you wanted to do the events from a major world war because it would be easy to track different battles.  It would be great in WWII because you could show all the different campaigns on one timeline because of how they are color coded.  It is really difficult for students to understand that multiple events happen in history at the same time and textbooks do a horrible job of conveying this a lot of the time.  Preceden would be a great way to follow events.

On a completed timeline a description of the events is listed below the actual timeline.  Each of those events has a "go to" link that will take you to it on the timeline.  You can also print the descriptions of each event allowing a student to turn in a paper if need be.  You can see a sample of a timeline here.  It is the timeline of Preceden.

Headmagnet is a Flashcard creation tool unlike any others you will see.  I could give a description and tell you about it, but there is no reason to reinvent the wheel.  Richard Byrne of Free Technology 4 Teachers does a great job of explaining what this site can do as well as providing a video.  I highly suggest that you subscribe to his blog if you have not already.

KeepVid allows you to take the streaming video from sites like YouTube and download them.  This works great because you can download the files as a Flash file and then easily upload them to a site like Prezi.  You can add a Toolbar link so that when watching the video, it will start to download.  It is a great feature to use in schools because of all the other problems with YouTube.  It would be a way to keep those videos you love and show in class without all the distractions that come from YouTube.

TextServ - Using Your Email to Text Students

One of the final sessions that I attended at KySTE on Friday was about TextServ (this was the name created by Ryan McQuerry, the presenter).  It is actually a very simple procedure.  The most difficult part is getting your student's cell phone numbers and their carrier provider.  The next and most tedious step is creating a distribution list for each class, club, or team that you coach..  Once you have does those steps, then you can worry about actually sending an email text.

My carrier is AT&T, so I will be using them as an example.  All you do is enter the phone number with the following information for the email address: 8005551122@txt.att.net.  Type that in the "To:" box.  It will then send your email as a text.  It is important to remember that you are limited to 160 characters or your students get two text messages if you go over that.  Standard Rates for text messaging will apply to your students, so it is important to make sure that mommy and daddy don't mind.  It is also important to remember that if you have a signature in your email that you need delete that because it will be included in the message.

What is great about this aspect of contacting your students is that you have documentation if they were to reply, and what is also great is that the reply goes to your email, not to a phone.  Another great aspect is that the students will not have access to your personal cell phone number.  It is important that you discuss using this method to contact your students with your CIO and principal.

This would be a great way for you to keep in touch with your students and remind them about events, clubs and organization meetings, as well as stay in contact with a team you are coaching.  It would also be a great addition to your classroom to remind students about their homework assignments, a test or project coming up, or even that they have a presentation to be ready for.

Here are some other email addresses for other cell phone carriers:
Cell#@email.uscc.net - U.S. Cellular
Cell#@messaging.sprintpcs.com - Sprint PCS
Cell#@tmomail.net - T-Mobile
Cell#@vtext.com - Verizon
Cell#@vmobl.com - Virgin Mobile
Cell#@messaging.nextel.com - Nextel
Cell#@myboostmobile.com - Boost Mobile
Cell#@message.alltel.com - Alltel Wireless
Cell#@txt.att.net - AT&T/Cingular Wireless

If you don't see your wireless carrier on this list, just search for it, or contact the company.  Most companies should have this option in order to be able to compete.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Think Twice Thursday #8 - Video Games in Education

At a recent session at the KySTE conference I attended the presenter was discussing the impact on Video Games in education.  It was an interesting conversation.  I received quite a few good links for games in education that I wanted to share with you in the hopes that you might be able to use in your classroom.  There are different aspects of Games.  There is game creation, and then there is game playing.  Our students are playing video games more than they are watching TV.  They are playing games on their Phones quite a bit as well.  As teachers we should harness this interest that the students have.

Game Creation:
YoYo Games - Most of you might know it as GameMaker.  Most schools have it blocked, so it would have to be something completed at home.
Scratch - This is the program created by M.I.T.  Most have seen this.  Best advice is to take a previously created game to learn the code and then make the game do what you want.  There are plenty of tutorials for you to watch as well.
Alice - From Carnegie Mellon.  This was the pioneer and has a different software for middle and high school students.  Really interesting stuff.

Game Playing
Making-History - Great for Social Studies Teachers.  Another option for learning history, different from any other way you have tried in the past.
ClearLab Project - Still in the works, but these will be games for science teachers, especially physics.  As a science teacher, this will definitely be worth following to check on the progress.  Seems promising.
ARIS Games - Now this seems interesting.  You can download the software with your phone and link to the students' phones.  They could be able to do a scavenger hunt using their phones.  Mobile Media Learning.  Would make for a great opening house activity to learn the school.
3 Wish - No directions, so it requires students to figure out the game.  Causes Higher Order Thinking.  More for Elementary and Middle Schools
Activities for Kids - Kids.com - More for Elementary, but worth seeing how you can implement it for your students and how parents can use it at home.
American Dynasties - A way to learn about an era in American History.
JASON Science - Great games about Earth, a Roller Coaster Creation, Weather, and Mini Labs.  Seems fun!
Hot Shot Business - From Disney - Creating a Business - A more extensive version of the Lemonade Stand Game.

So here are some educational game sites for all grade levels.  We got to create lessons and activities that our students want to do.  Even girls are playing video games, so don't think of this as just a boys type of activity.  So Think Twice about implementing games as part of your education.  If you use or end up using any of these with your students, please share your experiences.

Wiki Wednesday #8 - Ten Big Questions For Education

I know it is Thursday, but it has been a busy week.  Better late than never.  At a recent session at Educon 2.2 there was a discussion about "The Ten Big Questions" about education.  From the session at the conference a Wiki was created to address those "Ten Big Questions For Education."  Here is a place for you to answer questions about education and offer your opinion.  If I was not so busy, I probably would have answered some, but I figured sharing with you all would make up for it.

There are some deadlines to the Wiki.  YOU HAVE 5 DAYS TO ANSWER QUESTIONS!!!!  After that, editing, revisions, and finalizing will take place.  You can get more information by looking at the Front Page of the Wiki.  Each question has been provided its own page which helps for organizing information.  These questions are very viable questions for educators to answer.  You can also follow a hashtag for Twitter #10fored to see what other people are saying.  I would provide a list of the questions, but by not, I am enticing you to visit the wiki to see what those questions are and help provide your opinion.  There have been others to visit the wiki who have volunteered to help moderate the pages.  Show your support for their volunteering by visiting and offering your opinion.  

There are many aspects of American History where change started because of a Grassroots movement.  Part of me believes that education is on the verge of being one of those movements because of the lack of involvement of teachers in decisions being made for OUR students.  So it takes us to help move the process forward.  Answering the questions on the wiki would be a great start.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Twitter Tuesday #9 - To Follow or Not to Follow...That is the Question.

In a recent article in the Louisville, KY Newspaper, The Courier-Journal, they reported on the increasing use of Social Networking in schools around the city.  There were a couple of things that caught me eye in the article.  First, 2nd graders were using Twitter to Tweet about what was going on in their classroom...utterly amazing.  Makes me wonder what my 3 year old will be doing in 4 years (considering he already uses my iPhone better than me).

Second was the number of school districts blocking access to Facebook, while allowing access to Twitter.  It shows me that school districts across that state see the value of Twitter as an educational tool, but are still completely terrified about Facebook, which is understandable considering the negative media attention Facebook has been getting in the media.  I have a wiki that is still a work in progress for gathering positive uses of Facebook in Education.  I am a firm believer that if you can't get parents to come to you, you got to go where they are, and parents are on Facebook...more parents than you will see at Parent Teacher Conferences.

Third, and the main point of this post, was that I discovered that the Kentucky Education Commissioner is on Twitter.  I proceeded to Tweet that he had a Twitter Account (which I think needs to be linked from the Department of Education website so people can find him on Twitter).  I did not have a chance to check his profile.  Nancy Blair did, and she tweeted up an interesting point.  Was the Commissioner of Education in Kentucky really buying into the idea of Twitter??

Communcation on Twitter can go both ways.  Mr. Holliday, the Commissioner, was only following 10 people, while being followed by over 375.  He has over 250 Tweets, so his account is still young, and it is a great starting point.  The point Mrs. Blair was trying to make was that communication in his position should and needs to goes both ways.  In order to get the most out of Twitter Mr. Holliday should be following more people, especially educators, classrooms, and schools within his own state that are using Twitter.  In order to see the value of Twitter in a position such as his, it would be beneficial for him to be able to see what educators around Kentucky are Tweeting about.

I am all for him sharing what he is experiencing as Education Commissioner.  It helps me keep up to date with what is going on at the state level in regards to edcuation in Kentucky.  At the same time I would hope that he would want to hear about what is going on in "his" schools that he might not always hear about in the newspapers, on the news. or in meetings.  Schools around Kentucky are doing great things, and not just the schools in the big cities.  Many are using Twitter to share these things.

I really did not think anything of the fact that he was only following 10 people.  I am glad that Nancy Blair brought it to my attention.  So, the question then becomes, should Kentucky's Education Commissioner, or for that matter, any state Education leader, be EXPECTED to follow?  Or for a person in his position is it more about being followed than following others? 

So many teachers talk about not feeling like they are heard by politicians and educational leaders when it comes to issues in education.  By following educators on Twitter, would this solve, or help to solve, the problem of communication?  Would more educators join Twitter knowing that they would get a better chance to be heard by politicians and educational leaders in their state?

What are your thoughts?  Would appreciate opinions, thoughts, and ideas.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Must See Monday #9 - Web 2.0 Websites

YourFonts is a way to upload and create a font from your own handwriting.  What a neat way to create a digital signature (just remember to have a different one for checks and credit cards though).  It would make for a great addition to your email account or just to have fun with students showing your handwriting on the computer.  My students hated my chicken scratch handwriting anyway, so I wrote in all capitals.  Be interesting to type out a paper in Your Font though.  All you do is print the template, write, scan, and then upload.  I guess this does give Scanner's a new purpose...might have to brush the dust off of mine.

Fotobabble is a site that allows you to upload photos and then voice over the photo.  It would be a great way to bring a historical figure to life for a student project.  You could also upload a location and create "Where in the World Am I" game with your students.  You could do the same thing with people.  Tell facts and give students the opportunity to guess who they are.  The software is also available on the iPhone.  Another neat way to use this site is to add it to Wallwisher.  I found a great blog post describing how to do this.

Footnote is your home for primary documents.  More or less this is a great site for Social Studies teachers.  It has a lot of primary documents that students normally are looking for to help with projects.  We are always preaching to our students to use primary documents, and now there is a home for them to find an abundant resource of the.  I want to thank Free Technology for Teachers for providing this useful site.  I have already shared it with social studies teachers in my building.  It allows you to search by era.  There are over 63 million historical documents online.  Very valuable.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Twitter Tweecap - Another Edition

Before I begin, I want to start out by congratulating my Louisville Cardinals basketball team for proudly closing out Freedom Hall with a big win over Syracuse on Saturday.  It was a perfect birthday present to witness a moment of history in college basketball.  Now on to the Tweets from the past week.

1.) The past week saw massive hysteria when Wordle was shut down for a while this past Sunday.  Word spread throughout the Twitterverse and my PLN.  Here is a blog post detailing the value of PLN's and their ability to work wonders for the Internet as well as education.  Or this Blog Post

2.) SAT, ACT, GRE, and Vocabulary Flashcards and Videos. VocabAhead

3.) Helpful Blog Post about Tips for New Integrators.  I realized how many of those I had done upon starting my new job as well.

4.) From Vanessa Cassie - Blog Post with a video for those of us that are new to SMART Notebook.

5.) From Free Technology for Teachers - A website, PostLearn, for searching jobs in education as well as posting some of your own.  There is a fee, but still worth searching for jobs in your area.

6.) From the Nerdy Teacher and his Blog, a great set of Prezi presentations about The Great Gatsby.  Something all English teachers are teaching.

7.) Article - Twitter Encourages Networking Among Educators. A great look at #edchat.  And How Twitter in the Classroom is Boosting Student Engagement.

8.) Web 2.0-21st Century Education Tools - a Great Wiki...look for more on it on Wednesday, if I have time while at KySTE.

9.) Streamlining Teaching with Google Apps - My school does not really use Google Apps, but everything I hear is good.  Helpful resource for learning how to use Google Apps in Education.

10.) Interesting Wiki - 10 Big Questions For Education - Share your thoughts and views.  Looks like another great Wiki Wednesday Post in the works!

11.) 100 Alternatives to Book Reports.

12.) A Great Letter To Obama on Education - Maybe as educators we should write a blog post with a Letter to the President.

13.) From NPR - Teachers Feel Ignored in Education Debate - Really?  Geez, has this ever NOT been the case?

14.) Make a Virtual Snowflake - Kind of neat!

15.) From Angela Maiers - 21st Century Teachers Video.

16.) Footnote - A home of Primary Documents - Great Resource for History.

17.) Members of Education who are on Twitter.

18.) Popular Science - Browse all the Archive

19.) Another Wiki - NewToolsWorkshop - Great Resource sharing new tools for education.  Open page is a Glog.

20.) Stickr - Make sticky notes on the web.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Thursday-Friday Combo Post - Technology Conferences? Yes, as an Educator, You Should Attend.

Once again, another busy day Thursday kept me from being able to get in my usual Think-Twice Thursday post, forcing me to combine it with my Friday Focus post, but that is okay.  I will be attending my first Technology Conference next week.  I am excited about seeing new technology, listening to great presenters, and meeting new people (or people I already know, but only through their Twitternality.) 

The first conference that I will be attending is the Kentucky Society for Technology in Education Conference.  The KySTE conference is going to be held in Louisville at the Galt House East March 10th-12th.  There will be a wonderful selection of presenters and vendors present that will allow you to learn about many things related to technology education, as well as meet some great people from Kentucky and surrounding states who are actively pursuing educational technology.  You can learn more about the Sessions descriptions, times, and speakers here.  You can also find a list of exhibits/vendors that will be in attendance here.

The second conference that I will be attending will be the TeachMeet in Nashville, Tennessee.  It will be held at the Nashville Public Library on 615 Church Street, Nashville, TN 37219.  The dates for the TeachMeet are April 1-2 from 10:00-4:00pm.  What is great about TeachMeet...it is COMPLETELY FREE.  No admission fee, food is provided, and you will get to hear from some great speakers and attend some awesome sessions.  You can view the schedule of events here.  There are couple of influential people in educational technology attending this unconference as it likes to be called by Jason Bedell who has been coordinating the event, getting sponsors, and speakers.  Got to say, what a great job he has been doing.  Organizing a conference is definitely not an easy task.  So, take some personal days and attend this free conference.  You will walk away educated, and maybe with some prizes in the giveaways.

A Third Conference I hope to attend will be the Ohio Free Tech Conference that is extending its borders and bringing a conference to Louisville, KY on May 28-29 (if I remember the date correctly from the Tweet I received).  There is currently not a website, but I was informed that one is in the works.  Once they get it up and running, I will share it.  I have heard great things about this conference from the four they had throughout Ohio in January and February.

Have I enticed you enough to attend one of these conferences?  If you are in the region and able to drive to one of these conferences, Think Twice about taking some time to expand your knowledge about educational technology and join me and hundreds of other educators in learning about technology.  If you are not from around this region or country, Think Twice about taking a moment to search for your local state's/country's technology conference or other conferences in your region and register to attend.  If the date has already passed, Think Twice about pre-registering for next year, and make the commitment to attend.....NOW.

It is time Focus on becoming a better teacher in the 21st Century.  It is time to Focus on expanding your teaching abilities.  It is time to Focus on increasing your knowledge and use of educational technology in your classroom and/or school.  It is time to Focus on accepting that education and how we teach is changing, and as an educator, it is part of your/our job, more than ever, to be informed on how education is changing...and educational technology can provide you that opportunity. 

In order to learn about educational technology, Thinking Twice about attending a Technology Conference can be the first step in your Focus to becoming a better educator.  Not only is it important to attend these conferences to become a better teacher, but it is important to attend these conferences so that you can see what technology our students will be utilizing and working with as they go from High School, to College/University, to the Job Market.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wiki Wednesday #7 - Differentiated Instruction and Technology

Differentiated Instruction.  Every Teachers favorite two words.  Throw in technology, and you have probably added the next favorite word.  Putting them together might just cause a riot.  Well, luckily there is some help.  The Tech 4 Differentiated Instruction Wiki has a rather substantial list of resources, articles, and lessons for using technology with Differentiated Instruction.

The purpose of the Wiki is to gather and share resources linking Computer and Information Technology with Differentiated Instruction.  The wiki is the work of William Dolton who is a consultant and offer professional development opportunities related to Differentiated Instruction.

This Wiki is very well organized with a Table of Contents on each page.  Makes for easy surfing.  He also wants to know here visitors are from so when visiting, make sure that you mark your spot.  You can also find some useful presentations and videos used at conferences he has attended.  You can find plenty of useful resources related to content and technology.  Be a great addition if you are uding Differentiated Instruction and Technology, but have been wondering how to link them together.

Flavors.Me - A Personalized Webpage

Flavors.me is a place for you to create a homepage for all your social networks.  If you are a member of any of the sites in the image below, or have a favorite RSS feed, you can add them all here.  It allows you to choose a background as well.  Not much else to it.  But it is a neat place to organize what you look at most.

Urtak - Online Poll With a Twist

A new way of doing an online polling has arrived.  With Urtak you can create a simple poll, unlimited polls in fact and embed your poll anywhere.  The twist, not only can participants answer your questions...but they can also ASK questions.  Therefore your poll becomes more interactive and they might think of a question you did not, or an answer you did not think of.

Starting is easy.  All you need is an Email and a Password.  You can also log in with your Facebook or Twitter account.  Once you create an account it creates a URL for your poll.  You type in the questions for people to answer (They can only choose between Yes, No, Don't Care).  When they visit they will see your questions as well as a place to ask a question.  You can provide a name for the poll and provide a description.  Data is instantly fed back through the poll.

I could easily see this being a useful tool with students when trying to get an idea about the success of a project using simple yes or no questions, thus giving your students a chance to ask you questions as well.  I think it will be more useful when it adds more options for answers.  Still an interesting way to get information and ideas at the same time.

PaperRater - Free Grammar Checker

What a great idea!  PaperRater is a place for students to submit work and find out about their paper.  With no download necessary.  Not only does it check grammar, but it will also check for spelling, Plagiarism, and offer writing suggestions.  It will also help with readability, word choice, and style.  The site is completely free with plans in the works for a premium version.

To use the software, all you have to do is type in the title and then copy and paste your paper into the "textbox."  It also provides a place to copy and paste your references.  I copy and pasted a paper from college as a trial.  It was over 15 pages and included references and charts.  It took a short time for it to process the long document.

The screen then allows you to sort through your paper based on Originality/Plagiarism, Spelling, Grammar, Word Choice, Style, and Vocabulary Words.  It even explains why it is saying you have done something wrong.  Spelling Corrections are in red, Grammar in Green, Word Choice in Blue.  It does a great job of breaking down your use of different conjunctions, pronouns, verbs, etc.

The only part that was confusing was the Vocabulary Words - It gives you a percentage of vocabulary word usage.  My guess is that based on the title and references the software is looking for a certain percentage of words.  As a plus, it does have a vocabulary builder to help improve your vocabulary.

I am really impressed with this software.  Something tells me AP students would really benefit.  It would also really help with Portfolios, because it recognized what Word Grammar and Spell Checker missed.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Twitter Tuesday #8 - Changing of the Times

I remember when I was in high school, waking up, getting ready for school and having my morning bowl of cereal (Fruity Pebbles by the way).  I remember getting the paper and looking at the sports section, the features, and the comics.  It was a good way to pass time while eating breakfast and my way of having something to talk about when I got to school.

Today, as I sat eating my morning bowl of cereal (Frosted Flakes, now wishing it was Fruity Pebbles) I did all those same things as I did when I was in high school, accept, it was not just the newspaper.  I pulled out my iPhone, and while eating breakfast I played Word With Friends.  I also checked my email.  I checked sports through the ESPN ScoreCenter app.  I even looked at Facebook real quick.  I also have a Mobile RSS Reader so that I can read the blogs I follow while on the go.

That of course was not all I did.  I also used the TwitBird app to check the Tweets from my PLN that seamlessly continued while I was asleep.  I saved some of my favorites to read later because after all, it was just a couple bowls of cereal!  Now granted I don't have a subscription to the local newspaper, but this morning I realized...why?  Sure for the sake of support, but if I can get information other ways, and for cheaper, why?  I can get the same comics, the same sports scores, the same news stories, and quite a bit more.  Heck, I didn't even watch USA vs. Canada Hockey, but I knew a lot of what happened because of Twitter.

I have found that I check Twitter on my iPhone more than using the website or TweetDeck on my Laptop.  It is just as fully functional and provides the same options.  It also allows me to not feel overwhelmed with Tweets.  Twitter and TweetDeck don't let you know how many Tweets happened the last time you checked.  The iPhone allows me to know whether I have time to look at Twitter, and many times I don't.

With eReaders, Smartphones, and the eventual iPad, Newspapers and Magazines probably will become obsolete.  There is a reason many newspapers and magazines are creating Digital "E"ditions, because their readers are on computers more often now.  They offer digital or paper subscriptions as well.  (just look at your bills....how many are paperless...think those companies thought that would happen 10 years ago?) This will be more evident as my generation, my student's generation, and my son's generation gets older.

How do you get your news?  How do you get your information?  I know how I get mine and I know I am prepared for the change over to digital; are you?

Monday, March 1, 2010

My Best...No Most Influential Teacher

You are often asked, "who was your best/favorite teacher?"  Best/Favorite can mean so much.  Influential is probably the more important word to use in such a question.  I recently saw a Tweet about an article in the New York Times asking people who their best teacher was and why.  That got me thinking about my own experiences in school.  It is important to note that I went to a small PUBLIC school in Louisville, KY; James Graham Brown School.  It was grades 1-12 (now K-12) and I went there all 12 years.  I graduated with 49 other Seniors, which about 15 of I went to school with since 1st grade.

At my school we called teachers by their first name, we had couches and recliners in many of our classrooms, we were permitted to leave campus for lunch our senior year, no bells, just when the clock hit the time class was over, we went on to our next class, and many other "oddities" you would rarely see in schools today.  It is important to note that my high school now has the #1 scores in the states annual assessment and many of the same "oddities." still in place

The school in itself played a huge role in influencing me.  There was this one teacher though that stands out.  Since the school was so small, I had Jean (as we called her) for Geometry, Algebra II, and Pre-Calculus.  It is important to note that my grades went D, C, B in those classes.  She had my brother as well, he did not fare so well in the class.  I immediately had a hump to get over the first day in her class.  As you can tell, I didn't fair so well getting over the hump looking at my grades.  As the subjects got harder, I did better.  Part of that is maturity.  The other part is gaining respect for Jean.

I will always remember her class.  Quizzes every Wednesday, Test and Notebook check every Friday.  We rarely, if ever, deviated from the schedule, even when it snowed.  I remember her worksheets.  They were made on the Ditto Machine in her classroom.  Copy Machines had been around for a while, but for her, it was not about using ANY technology..not that much was available back then.  I think teacher stations were still optional.  So much of the class was student centered.

So much of what I learned in her class had little to do with Math.  I learned organizational skills because of the notebook checks.  I learned study skills because of the schedule.  I learned how to speak in front of other students because we were required to go to the board every day and complete math problems.  I learned how to respect someone.  She influenced my future.  Was she my favorite teacher?  Was she my best teacher?  Could be, but I remember her for being influential, not because she was easy, fun, exciting, used the greatest teaching methods, or differentiated instruction.  She was very set in her ways.  Judging how my grades were in her classes, it obviously worked.  It just took time for me to adjust and realize how influential she was.  

Jean retired the same year we graduated.  We always joked with her that our class caused her to retire...that she just could not take it anymore.  It was really the exact opposite.  She wanted to finish her career going out with one of her most influential classes.

So, how does this story relate to technology, and I might be stretching it here.  It is not using the technology that makes you influential.  You could use all the technology in the world and not have any influence on your students.  It is HOW you use the technology to influence your students.  Students will think you are influential because of how you used technology to influence them for a lifetime and how that technology influenced their learning.

Who was your most influential teacher?  If you blog, consider this a challenge to write a post telling your readers who influenced you.  If you have done that before, link again to it, so new readers can see your post about your most influential teacher.

Must See Monday #8 - Hodge-Podge

Normally my Must See Monday posts are for a specific website or software.  Today I received an email with a lot of useful links that I thought I would share.

Landmarks Class Blogmeister - This is a Blogging engine that has been developed specifically for classroom use.  It includes both student and teacher blogs.  You can search by country and by state, as well as grade level.  When you search by state you get a list of names, and they are listed by most active.  I wish it would allow you to search alphabetically, but it does not.  When you click on their name, it will take you to their blog.  So if you are looking for someone in particular, this might be a good way to find them.  The major improvement would be to provide what the blog is about (subject, student, class, etc).  It is a great list, but it definitely needs some tweeking.  I guess it would be worth seeing if you could find yourself.

Crocodoc - Share and review documents online.  It would be a great way for students to peer review assignments, or for teachers to post a sample assignment and have students review it from home, or even in class.  You can upload a PDF, Word Document, Power Point, , or even a URL address.  When you visit the site, click on the demo link to see some of the features.  Some of those features include the ability to add Post-it Notes, Highlight, and Strike-through words.  You can also type text within the margins.  You can easily skip from page to page, search, and zoom in and out.  If you want more security features you can pay for a Pro Account and add passwords (probably best options for education) Below is a screen shot of the demo page.

Ipadio - Allows you to boradcast from any phone live to the Internet.  You can audio blog, or use your phone as a voice recorder that saves to the Internet.  Ipadio is available on both the iPhone and the Android.  They refer to blogging with your phone as a "Phlog."  They do have a page dedicated explaining how they feel Ipadio can be used in Education.  I have to say that the list of ideas is pretty interesting.  If you are a school that allows the use of mobile devices, than this website definitely is worth looking at.  There is a case study about using the site to learn Spanish.  I think as mobile technology takes off, the concept of this site will grow.  Check the site out for yourself and see how you might use it.

For something outside education, GrowShow is a great website that allows you to create a time lapse of your child/grandchild as they grow older.  They also have some neat magnetic frames that you can purchase for the pictures that is worth checking out.  I would watch the video on the front page to get a better idea of how it works.  Definitely a site worth checking out if you just had a child/grandchild, or have your photos saved and archived on your computer.  It will automatically organize the photos based on the time stamp if I understood the site correctly.  You can set music up to the show, as well as set a GrowMinder to capture growth so you don't forget.  Account setup is really simple as well.