Thursday, April 29, 2010

Think Twice Thursday - Twitter/PLN Professional Development

Yesterday I had the opportunity to introduce Twitter and PLN's to a small group of teachers at my school.  For me it was a great opportunity to share what I have been experiencing for the past 5 months.  First, I started out explaining how I came to get involved with Twitter and how my perception of Twitter was the same as theirs.  I explained that I had to first remove the self-doubt that I had about Twitter in order to learn how to use it and engage with others educators on Twitter.

I then shared a Glog that I created to collect resources related to Twitter.  We watched the two videos contained in the Glog so they could see a comparison of how Twitter is used in Society and how Twitter is used in Education.  You can see my Glog below.  Feel free to share with colleagues.

After we watched the videos I shared with them all the replies that I got from my PLN when I asked them on Twitter to share their locations with me, as well as how Twitter impacted their education lives.  I had over 35 replies and was able to showcase how Twitter connected me to Educators around the world.  They were impressed with that.  It helped them to realize that education is not just an issue in our county or state, but in other states and other countries as well.  It also helped them to realize how resources could be shared with people from all over the globe.

I then shared with them a list of common Twitter Terminology that I typed up so that they would always have that if they ever get stuck.  You can see an image of that terminology below.  Feel free to use and share.  I also provided a handout that described how to set up an account in case we weren't able to do so during the Professional Development.

Luckily, My DTC provided access after school (it is currently blocked until we get a Social Networking Policy adopted).  We created accounts for all that attended the meeting.  We then found each other on Twitter and started following each other.  I even had them Tweet to #edchat that they were new to Twitter so they could see a Hashtag at work.

It was fun to see them find other people and start following them.  I shared Twitter 4 Teachers and helped them find teachers who teach the same subjects that they could connect with.  The Librarian looked for authors, The English Teacher looked for friends in the community.  The AD found our local athletic association, KHSAA Twitter accounts.  Our Spanish Teacher was finding other foreign language teachers (she had an account, but never thought of using it for education).  My Health/P.E. teacher started searching for other teachers as well.  It was a great experience for me to see them realize how the power of connecting with others through Twitter could be beneficial to their professional life. 

This morning, the English teacher sent an email out to the staff telling of her Twitter "Tale."  I could never put something like this together.  Kudos to her.  You can see an image of the email below.  Click on the image and it will enlarge it to where you can read it.

So what is the true point of this post: 
What is keeping you from having a Twitter/PLN Professional Development with your staff? 

I highly recommend that if you are on Twitter and are part of a great PLN, share that with your staff.  Share how your PLN has encouraged you to try something in your classroom.  Share how your PLN has open your mind and heart to an increased passion for education.  If you don't think any of them will be receptive, all it takes is one to share how it has helped them to feel like you did something good.  You won't know if anyone is interested in Twitter unless you ask.  That is all I had to do.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wiki Wednesday - Three Great Wiki's - Art, Music, Photo

Education is changing, and part of that change is the unfortunate reduction in classes for students related to Art and Music.  It's amazing how two things that have become a sacred part of our lives people see little value in teaching.  These are future creative minds and we are letting them down by not providing these classes.  To help, here are some great Wiki's that can help increase interest by students in your classes and maybe show and improve the value of the curriculum in your schools.

All three of the Wiki's that I will be sharing today come resources thave have been used in ICT classes in Vancouver.  I tried to find out more information on the source, but had little luck.  Anyway, you will notice that the left hand side has a TON of Wiki's that you can view.  I find it hard to believe you won't find one you can use.

I wanted to share three though.  The Art and Drawing Resources Wiki has a ton of links to drawing tools and architecture links as well.  Share with your art teachers.  Encourage them to branch out and allow students to use a computer to create Art.  There are so many options out there for students to choose from, and this is a great list.

The next one is the Sound and Music Resources - Some great sites.  Encourage students to use the computer to create music.  More and more technology is allowing free ways for students to produce their own beats, tracks, sounds, music, etc.  Encourage it.  Let free EXPRESSION exist!

Finally, the Photographs and Clipart Wiki has tons of sites that students, as well as teachers can use to find photos.  This would be a great starting point when looking for photos to use in a presentation, blog, website, etc.

Remember, these are just part of a larger Wiki.  Find something that you see useful and share with colleagues in your building.  I am really impressed with the collection of resources.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Some Cool Sites

The Bread Art Project - Art that people have created on bread using their computer.  Also gives you the opportunity to create your own art on bread.  Pretty funny, but for artistic people, a different way to express yourself.  First, choose your type of bread, and then how "toasted" you want your bread "canvas" to be.  There are different tools to paint with as well as different shapes and templates.  The whole site is Java and Flash, so make sure you have the latest updates.  Why visit the site?  Every creation means a dollar donation to support "Share Our Strengths"  Give it a shot and view the gallery.

A new video search engine that seems very promising is Blinkx.  It offers plenty of different categories to choose from when doing your search.  When you complete a search it will find videos from different video sites.  It will either play within the site, or it will take you to an outside link.  So if you are looking for a video, Blinkx would be a great starting point.  Hope you find some success.
 is another site offering real time document collaboration and conferencing.  One feature that I have not seen in others is that there are color highlight trails for each author making it easy to see who is making each edit.  Any changes that are made to the document are stored on the server and can be undone at any time.  All edits are also kept on a "recorder" so that anyone who missed the collaboration can go back and see what was done.  There is also a chat feature as well.  It seems very promising.  Reminds me of Crocodoc.

AutoMotivator gives you the opportunity to create your own motivational posters.  You know, the kind we see in EVERY administrators office!  Haha.  Now you can create your own, print on nice paper and frame.  The site that is hosting the AutoMotivator also has some tools and widgets that you could use for your website or blog as well.

Rock the Quote is a search engine where you can look up famous quotes by people as well as search for famous speeches.  Search by topic of speech as well.  Would be really good for English and Social Studies teachers.  There are currently over 1500, with more being added.

MyOats - Create some spectacular images just using your mouse.  You can then drag lines to change the shape after you have already made your lines.  You can change colors, zoom in and out, etc etc.  Hard to explain.  Fun to do and play with.  Give it a shot and see what you can create.

iNudge - Using a 16x16 matrix and different instruments you create your own sound and beat.  I kind of liked this.  I am not musically gifted, but someone who is will probably spend quite some time on this site.  Definitely worth visiting.  Entertaining to say the least.

My Weekend Without Technology and Media

I love when I get a Tweet or see a website that sparks thoughts.  I saw a Tweet from Steven Anderson about an experiment where students go A Day Without Media.  I participated in a Great Banquet (A religious reflection weekend) a couple weeks ago.  Part of the weekend was leaving everything behind.  That meant no phone, no watch, not even my wallet.  The weekend went from Thursday night through Sunday afternoon.

Now, I want to point out that I was not where I was able to experience my normal routines.  So, it was not like living my daily life without my Cell Phone or Laptop.  There were instances where I would reach for my pocket all weekend like I was grabbing my phone (I really could have used the iPod function at least to drown out snoring).

The hardest, or weirdest part of the whole experience from the "connected to media" side of things, was never knowing what time it was.  I don't wear a watch.  My phone is my watch.  So I would always go for my pocket when I wondered what time it was, but my phone was not in there.  We rely so much on time and schedules and due dates.  None of that mattered this weekend.  When the weekend was over, I tried my hardest to fight the temptation to pick up my cell phone first thing.  It worked...for about an hour!

I am the type of person that wants to know what is going on in the world.  I like to watch the news.  I like to keep up with sports.  My phone gives me that any time I need it.  My phone is how I communicate with so many friends.  Whether it is Facebook, Text Messages, or Twitter, it is how I talk to people.  It is how I know what is going on in the lives of my friends and family.  Five years ago, knowing any of that did not matter as much.  It is now a staple in so many of our lives.   

Our students feel the same way.  My school has a policy that if a student's cell phone is being used, or goes off in class, it is taken away and then returned at afternoon detention on Friday.  This inability to have their phone so often sends many students off the deep end.  Many don't care, because they just go home and get an old phone to use temporarily.  That is how common they are in their life.

So much of what the students are saying in A Day Without Media I think is what so many of us adults would say as well.  Many people are saying over and over that this constant media connection is a generational thing and that society is losing kids to this constant attachment to teachnology and the media.  The thing is, we as adults and parents are right there next to them.  The difference is, we as their parents have a job to educate on responsible use and encouraging interactive behavior.

So challenge students in you class to experiment going without technology.  See how long it takes them to break.  See how many can do it.  See how their daily routines change.  See if they even know how to live without technology and media today.  What is the worst that could happen...they read a book?

Twitter Tuesday - Some Interesting Apps

First I found today via Ozge Karaoglu on Twitter.  It is a Google Labs App that allows you to search a Twitter name and find people.  The Follow Finder by Google is interesting, yet fairly new.  I typed in my own name and only got three people it recommended.  I tried it again for the heck of it while writing this post and it gave me multiple pages worth.  It provides me Tweeps I might like, as well as Tweeps with similar followers.  Just another way Google is trying to get into the Twitter Universe.  It is a Google Labs project, so with time, it might end up being more useful.

Next is a site that most of the people that I follow on Twitter visit weekly, but probably don't realize all it can do.  Every Sunday a poll is posted for the topic on #edchat.  The site TwtApps has most than just a poll.  You can see in the image below all that they have to offer anyone on Twitter.  And although they advertise as business solutions, education is a business.  We are in the business of educating!

If you use Twitter with your classroom or school, you could easily use many of these TwtApps
- Use TwtQpon to tweet a homework or test coupon and the first student or first couple of students to reply gets the reward. 
- Use TwtAway and have a contest for your students to enter randomly for extra credit points. 
- Use TwtVite to invite students/parents to a play, athletic event, classroom activity, test, etc. 
- Use TwtPoll and TwtSurvey in your classroom the same way you would use a paper poll or survey. 
- Use the TwtFAQ to create a place for students to ask you questions about a project and it allows you to respond in more than 140 characters.

In the end all these apps can be used to increase traffic to your Twitter account and make it much more interactive.  Anytime you give students a reason to do something for rewards, generally they will participate.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Must See Monday - 1000 Web 2.0 Applications

Via Twitter, I came across a list of 1000 Web 2.0 Applications with the ability to search and find one you might be looking for.  Each Web 2.0 Application is organized by category and then listed in alphabetical order.  Each Web 2.0 Application also has a short description of the website that explains what the application can do.  What I also like is that on this list are many sites that I had not heard of yet, but at the same time, I don't see some of the more popular sites either.

It appears that the site does not have education in mind, but it is important to note that MANY of the Web 2.0 applications that have been developed did not have education in mind, many educators just made the sites work for them.  So don't let that keep you from checking this list out.  Besides, you never know when you might find a site you are looking for that can help you outside of education.

So, visit the 1000 Web 2.0 Application list and find one, or two, or three....for you.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Weekend Extra - Twitter Tweecap

These past two weeks have been really busy and I was involved with a lot of things that kept me from routinely checking Twitter.  The one thing about Twitter is that if someone post something on Twitter, chances are it will be posted again later that day, or even later in the week.  That is why those that are new to Twitter shouldn't worry about always checking their account for fear of missing something.  Now on to the what I was able to get from Twitter.  Still some GREAT stuff.

1.) Artsonia - A Kids Art Museum.  You can purchase the Art as well.

2.) The Top Ten Educational Technology Advocacy Issues from ISTE - This is what we should all be sharing with our politicians and Boards.  Also from ISTE, six strategies to connect educational technology integration to School Improvement.

3.) If you have not seen The Nerdy Teacher Blog, you need to.  He has been doing some great post about what he has learned about technology integration from quotes in movies.  Always a great read!

4.) 6 Technologies That Will Shape Education

5.) 100 Sites to Download All Sorts of Things

6.) An A-Z Toolkit for Education

7.) 200+ Articles about using Twitter for Social Media

8.) Examples of School Docs and Sites in Libraries - Pretty good list.

9.) 5 Trends in Educational Technology Leadership - For all of us hoping to work as a CIO some day, rather nice list.

10.) Great list of resources for Student Teachers.

11.) Find songs that meet your mood - Stereomood

12.) Oh how Seniority and Tenure is changing...Education is in a major change right now.  Article

13.) How to delete Facebook Applications and why you should

14.) Screen-cast of the VocabAhead website where vocabulary is made into videos.

15.) 50 Sites in 60 Minutes

16.) Social Networking For Teachers Wiki

17.) Twelve Free Tools from Microsoft

18.) For fun - Great scenes from movies and videos with Lego figures and stop motion photography.

19.) From the Educators Royal Treatment - Experience is Always the Best Teacher

20.) Colorado's Plan for Teacher Evaluation - Article

21.) Building Schoolwide Literacy in the Elementary Classrooms Using Web 2.0

Hope you find something useful or entertaining.  Teaching should always be fun, and sometimes, that means playing with the great sites we are sharing with our students.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Focus - My First Digital Publication

Recently I have been seeing numerous and wonderfully put together digital magazines involving integrating technology in the classroom.  Seeing them motivated me to create my own.  So often, we as teachers (myself included) are throwing up PowerPoint as our main form of enhancing lecture, as well as integrating technology.

Students are burnt out on PowerPoint.  We use it to much, and we have them create them to much.  Slide Shows are great, but they are no longer the only method of delivering lecture notes to your students.  Plus, how is that making lecture interactive with your students?  How are they LEARNING from your lecture notes if all they do is copy them down?

I recently did a presentation at the TeachMeet Nashville Conference on using Web 2.0 to enhance lecture. I created my presentation using Prezi.  I wanted to be able to enhance that presentation, so I created a digital magzine.  You can find my publication here.  I used word and then uploaded it using Issuu.  You can also see the publication on the sidebar of this blog at the very top.  Click on the center of the publication and it will open full screen.  Or, you can see it below.

I would appreciate any comments, suggestions, ideas, or ways that you have improved lecture in your classroom using Web 2.0.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Must See Monday: A-Z Cool Tools

Everyday I come to realize the power of my PLN and PLN's in general.  Through Twitter I was able to follow the KySTE conference that was in Louisville , KY in March.  By following the KySTE Hashtag on Twitter I was able to discover and communicate with other Kentucky educators who are on Twitter. 

One person that I met and started following was Jeremy Renner who is a Technology Resource Teacher for the Jefferson County School District.  I also was able to attend his session about his favorite 10 Web 2.0 tools for education while at the conference and came away with one of my new favorite tools, 

Last week I received an email from Jeremy about a Digital Magazine that he had created called A-Z Cool Tools.  Jeremy was asking for my thoughts and opinions about what he created.  I was impressed with the organization and creativity of the publication, as well as the many resources it contains.  I am currently working on my own Digital Magazine as well based on my recent presentation at the TeachMeet Nashville Conference.  The A-Z Cool Tools provided further inspiration.

In the A-Z Cool Tools you will find links and information about a plethera of Web Tools that you can use in your classroom.  A great resource for teachers, but definitely worth sharing with Elementary teachers because many of the links have an elementary teacher feel.  It is also a great resource for Library Media Specialist as well.

Check out this great resource and share with teachers.  Encourage them to view my blog and leave comments for Jeremy so that when he reads the post he can see what others think about his A-Z Cool Tools

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Think Twice Thursday - Educational and Technology Journals

It is amazing how changing jobs provides an opportunity to realize things you have always wanted to do, but never made time for.  I now make time for so many things that a couple of years ago I did not see the value in making time for.  I Tweet, I blog (obviously), I use Digg and Social Bookmarking.  I value my cell phone as a professional, not a personal communication device.  Those are just a few...probably a whole blog post on just that topic alone!

Recently though, I found value in another aspect of education; journals and magazines that discuss topics that are pertinent to my job and education in general.  I have a new respect for learning about what is going on in education, not just in Kentucky, but all over the United States, and in many cases, the world.  I also like to read and follow journals on technology, so that I can keep myself up todate on new and exciting changes in technology that might benefit education (iPad, foldable screens, etc)

So the question then becomes what Educational Journals do you read?  Well, there are tons that you can find on many different subjects and even content specific journals.  What I also like is that so many of them can just be emailed to you and you can have a digital journal.  Makes for storing, saving, and using the resources a lot easier.

First and foremost, I suggest Education Week.  You can also find them on  They have different subscription offers, and one is free to get a limited amount of articles, but you can still read main articles for free on the front page, as well as some other resources.

Another one that I got a free membership to is THE Journal, Technological Horizons in Education.  They also have free newsletters on different topics related to technology in education.  They are also on Twitter as well @THE_Journal.

If you are looking for some specific journals, you can find some using this list that was compiled by Professor Ross Perkins at Boise State University.  On the lsit you can find links to the journals as well.  There are so many journals on this list, I don't even no where to begin to tell you to focus.  Many I did not know about, and many that don't get a lot of attention, but have great resources.

Think Twice about subscribing to some of these journals and discovering your own education news source.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wiki Wednesday - Subject Based Wiki's

Recently many of my Wikis post have been focusing on Web 2.0 and software of the such.  Recently I thought it would be great to find Wikis related to different content areas so that teachers in my building and in your buildings could find something that fits their needs for the content they are teaching. 

I came across the Classrooms For the Future Wikis.  They have a Wiki for every Core Subejct plus Tech Ed and Foreign Language.  There is also a Wiki for Students if you have students who want to get involved with collaborating with other students.

The Social Studies Wiki is broken down by ways to get connected and then by topics routinely covered in Social Studies classrooms.  These page provides links to several resources based on the topic of choice.  There is also a new section of Lesson Plans and Activities.  Share your own and get it started.  If you are a Social Studies teacher, see what you can use, and then see what you can add.

The English Wiki has a lot of the same pages and links, but they are of course for English based teachers.  So find the topic that interest you and use or add to it.

The Math Wiki is a great resource by providing links to videos, lessons, and resources broken down by math topics.  See what you can use, and see what you can add.

The Science Wiki offers quite a few resources and links dedicated to the Science content.  See what you can use, and see what you can add.

The Foreign Language Wiki offers resources for Spanish, French, German, and Latin.  You also have the opportunity to add a language of your own if it is not listed.  There are plenty of links and resources for your use.  Remember, see what you can use, and see what you can add.

The final Wiki is the Technology Education Wiki.  There is not much to this one yet, but I think with time, we will see it blossom.  See the links on the main page and see what you can add.

The Student Wiki is a place for students to find an area to collaborate and share the happenings in their school.  It also offers links to resources for students.

Remember, the success of a Wiki is only determined by its visitors and contributors, so help make these successful for others.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Twitter Tuesday - - Twitter like a Newspaper

Twitter has become a staple in my professional growth as an educator and I am always looking for new ways to view my Twitter Feed and to use Twitter in my daily routine and life.  Recently while looking at All My Faves, I came across which advertises the ability to read Twitter Streams like a daily newspaper.  I was intrigued to say the least, so I checked it out.

First thought; how in the world do I view this?  I saw some featured sections, and I saw some current "Curators."  I noticed Education under the feature section, so I clicked.  I scrolled down and found Web 2.0 in Education.  What I found were Tweets by people I was following, links that they were sharing showed up in a pop-up window without leaving the webpage.  If there were videos that were shared, you could watch it right there in the newspaper, same goes for Photos.  There was even a section dedicated to #edchat and a Feed as well.  They also broke down the Tweets based on sections, such as politics, business, entertainment, living, etc.  Next to each section is a number so that you can view all the "articles" (Tweets) related to that section.  You can also view all the articles in list format if you want too.

You can also create your own newspaper.  So I created my own newspaper for what goes through my Twitter Feed, how cool!  What is really neat is that it will automitcally create a new edition every 24 hours based one what is shared!

What I did not like were all the ads within the "newspaper," but they have to make money some how.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Must See Monday - You Tell You

You Tell You claims to be a place for digital story telling, and it is, but not in the way that we as educators are used to creating digital stories.  You Tell You creates an online magazine, but not a digital magazine.  You can write paragraphs separate from the pictures, such as an introduction or conclution,  as well as captions for your photos. 

The digital stories are also available for viewing and are broken down by categories.  The great thing is (well depending on how look at it) that there are currently no digital stories under the Politics and History, Science and Tech, Breaking News, and Music.  So what does that mean?  It means an opportunity for your students to be the first to add to these categories.

Signing up requires all the usual information, and no verification of your email address is required which is great for teachers.  When creating a "magazine" you can provide the date and time, a title, a summary (Which will always be at the top), choose a category, provides tags, and even include a Geotag. 

You can add photos from your computer (.jpg only and it took about a minute for 7 photos), Facebook, Flickr, or SmugMug.  You can also email pictures directly from your phone.  Pictures are organized into sections.  This is where you can determine the location of your pictures and organizing your "magazine."  Below is an image of the sections.

The site overall seems to be more geared towards present day, but with a History category, it obviously does not limit itself to that.  It would be great to share things happening in your classroom or sporting events.  Great way to log events for a yearbook.  An education catergory would be great as well.  They also do not have to be published. Students can create them and then in class, present in preview mode.  Either way, I think that You Tell You offers another options for using picturs to tell a story. 

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday Focus - Cool Stuff!!

Ahh, Spring Break, one of those wonderful perks of teaching.  I enjoyed the time of relaxation and a break from everything and being semi-unplugged for a few days.  While I was taking a break I received some interesting websites that I want to share.  Most are subject based, some or broad.  Hope you find some that you like.

The Story of Bottled Water - I came across this interesting video that tells the story of how bottled water was developed.  It talks about Manufactured Demand (Great for an economics lesson...what other products were created because of manufactured demand?) and the false perception of bottled water.  You could also use the video as an introductory lesson in Science for students to develop their own experiment on the preference of bottled water and tap water.  Marketing classes could also use the website to discuss how bottled water is marketed to make it appear it is fresh from the mountains, when in reality it is just purified tap water.  The Story of Bottled Water comes from the website, The Story of Stuff Project.  There is also a video about Cap and Trade, and a video in the future about the Story of Electronics.  The site, videos, and books are the work of Annie Leonard.

What Happened In My Birth Year is an interesting site because of how it tells what happened your birth year.  What Happened In My Birth Year types out what happened like a typewriter.  As I was visiting the site, I realized it was taking to long, so I closed it.  When I attempted to close it, it prompted me to finish because it was moving to slow.  The site discusses books, movies, current events, etc.  Be neat to share with your students.

For you elementary teachers I came across a site called which can help you write your own children's book.  If you are someone interested in writing your own book, then would be a great starting point that provides tips and help for writing a book.

From the National Parks Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior is a great website that helps students learn more about Alcatraz Island and the multimedia that is available to learn about Alcatraz.  Could be a neat lesson for local California teachers (if they were not pink slipped)

Peter Lourie is a present day explorer/archeologist who has his own website talking about his adventures.  He also has a teachers page where he shares many of his lessons as well as experiences visiting and talking with students.  This would be an excellent resource for elementary teachers to look at for a while.  The man has been TONS of places that we all study in Elementary and Middle School.

South Pole Quest is a great site for learning about the South Pole.  It also has links for education and offered students the opportunity to ask questions about life at the South Pole.  Definitely worth looking into for a great geography lesson.

Friday, April 2, 2010

My Ah-Ha Moment in Computer Programming

I was asked by a teacher today about putting a timer in a Power Point Presentation. She displays her daily agenda and objectives on Power Point for every class that day. She had a generic Power Point for the week. She wanted to use the timer to track kids while they go to the bathroom or work on a quiz or an assignment.

I tried the usual suggestions I found on the web by adding text boxes and animation and have multiple slides. That is not what I was wanting though. I was wanting to add a timer within a slide, not make a timer out of Power Point.

Then I realized it was all in how you search. I went from "insert" to "embed" and found what I needed. I found a Shockwave Flash Timer file from the following website.  I downloaded the file and saved it on my computer.  The next step was embedding it into Power Point.

As hard as it was for me, I went to the "Help" icon and searched "Embedding Flash" and found the information I needed.  I was able to embed the timer on Power Point 2007.  I then sent it to the teacher and made the necessary changes on her 2003 version of Power Point. 

Creating the Flash timer required my first use of Visual Basic.  I also created my first video tutorial explaining how to embed a Shockwave Flash Timer into Power Point.  I did not record my voice though because I did not have a mic handy.  Hope you find this little trick helpful and useful in your classroom.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

TeachMeet Nashville 2010 - Presentation

Here is the presentation that I am presenting at TeachMeet today in Nashville about using Web 2.0 tools to supplement your lecture.  It also offers way to take Web 2.0 tools and have your students do your lecture for you.