Tuesday, December 13, 2011

An Art Teacher's Blog

So my cousin is graduating from college, has passed her PRAXXIS and is becoming an Art teacher.  It prompted me to share a blog with her that the Art Teacher at my school is doing with the hope that it will encourage her to do the same with her students.  Then it got me thinking, I haven't shared the blog that the Art teacher is doing with his students with anyone who reads this blog.  This just goes to show that integrating technology is an opportunity for all.

On his blog, Art Studio 1169 (which is the classroom number for his room), he shares videos, lessons, information, Apps, and samples of student work related to what he is teaching.  It is truly a great example of how teachers can easily integrate technology and Web 2.0 into their classrooms.  I recommend viewing and sharing with the Art teachers in your school and in your district, and then encouraging them to take this next step.

You might also notice that the title of the Blog is also the hashtag on Twitter that he created for his Art class.  He truly has embraced Social Media in his classroom.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Putting Ed Tech Into Practice - Social Media on Paper

I teach Government for the next 12 weeks.  We were starting our investigation into the Constitution and for one of the assignments I had my students take the Preamble of the Constitution and transform it into a SMS, Tweet, and Facebook Status.

For the SMS, students were required to change the text as if they were to text it to friends and texting existed during the Constitutional Conventions.

For the Tweet students had to try and shrink the text to 140 characters.  Surprisingly students struggled trying to do this and keep it in the 140 characters limit.  I also explained and had them include hashtags that would have been used if Twitter existed. 

For the Facebook status, students had to act as if they were participating in the Constitutional Convention and update their friends on what was happening with the Constitution and their thoughts on how it would impact/change the United States.

I found an image of a SMS bubble that you normally see on an iPhone, created my own Twitter update box, and also cut and pasted a Facebook status update.  Some students got really creative with their Facebook statuses and even included the "location" for where they were.

Surprisingly, the buy in to the assignment was not as I expected.  I am coming to the realization that students I teach have not been exposed completely to using technology outside of the classroom and it is a tough adjustment for them.  The interaction online with the blog and Facebook is not nearly the percentage that I thought it would be, and I think a lot of that has to do with students not being comfortable with it and not having exposure to it.  I think it also has to do with the fact that I teacher freshman.  I feel that upperclassmen would probably have more experience and be more open to using it in and outside the classroom.

I am using the Remind101 website for SMS reminders for students, and I do have 5 times as many students signed up during this 12 weeks.

I think I am coming to the realization that the concept of "Digital Natives" might not be as broad as some people might say.  I also know that it is on me as well to figure out how to adjust and encourage use by my students.  Something that I know I need to work on and will figure out as time goes on.

Anyone else integrating technology for the first time, more specifically social media, experiencing struggles?  Anyone having great success, if so, what are you doing that is working for you?

Back to the "Blogspot"

Well, when I originally purchased the domain http://edutechintegration.com I checked to have my yearly payment for the domain automatically deducted.  Apparently it did not work and subsequent emails letting me know it did not work never got to me.  Because of this, I have had to revert back to http://edutechintegration.blogspot.com. 

My plan was to contact GoDaddy/Google and get my domain name back, but a subsequent visit to my domain has revealed that someone else has already taken it.  Talk about a quick turnaround of those companies. 

I have updated the Feed for any subscribers if you are still interested, you can re-subscribe.  Going back to the classroom has been difficult in terms of keeping this blog up to date.  Hard to find time with teaching, coaching, and being and husband and father of two young children. 

Any links that I have embedded to my own blog within posts will no longer work since the domain has changed.  It is way to much trouble to go back and try to edit all those, so you will just have to add "blogspot" if you are really interested in seeing any of those posts, at least I think that will work.

Sorry for any confusion.  I hope that I might be able to regularly post in the future as I get adjusted to everything.  Thanks to everyone who has been and continues to be a loyal reader.  Hope that everything is going well for you.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Putting EdTech into Practice - Movies in the Classroom

Most administrators will tell you they hate when teachers show movies in the classroom.  For the most part I agree with them.  Movies and videos can play a valuable role in the education process and can be an important aspect of a teachers strategy in providing lesson material to students, as long as teachers are doing it correctly.  Recently, I decided to show a video in my geography classes that I thought did a great job of showcasing a point that I was trying to make in class.

We we watched a video about North Korea that did a great job of showcasing absolute dictatorships and extreme isolation.  You can see the video by National Geographic HERE.  I ran into a snag early on and it was blocked on YouTube for some reason.  But being the resourceful person that I am, I checked my Netflix account, and found it.  FYI, if you don't have Netflix, you might think about it; they have tons of videos and movies you can stream online in the classroom.  Especially for elementary teachers. 

The video was about 50 minutes long.  In previous years of teaching, I would have asked my students to stay awake and pay attention and we would discuss the video when it was over.  This time, I did something different.  I had students divide a piece of paper in half and on one side they wrote North Korea and on the other they wrote the United States.  As I played the movie in class, I would periodically stop the video to discuss the scene and contrast what they were seeing in North Korea with the United States.  It was a great experience seeing students all turn their heads and start writing on their paper at the same time.  At the conclusion on the video we discussed it, and then I had them write for 5 minutes their personal thoughts about the video and life in Korea.  They had tons of questions as well.

This was probably one of my most successful lessons this year.  The students were engaged in the documentary video and I only had one student out of all my classes that I had to get on for falling asleep.  I even turned the video into an extra credit opportunity by asking students to comment on my classroom blog about it over the weekend.  I also used the video the next day as a bell-ringer assignment asking my kids to list 5 things they could not live without and discuss them.  We then discussed this as a class.

Here are some other resources for movies and documentaries.  Remember, it is not the movie that is important...it is HOW you use the movie that is important.

Movies in the Classroom - Provides permission slips and movies by subject matter
Movie Sheets - A collection of worksheets that go along with movies - Remember to stop the movie and allow students to write down the correct information.
Mathematics in Movies - A great option for math teachers.
Top Documentary Films - Free documentaries
Movies Found Online - A resource for free movies and documentaries.
Free Documentary TV - Free documentaries

How how could/do you use movies in the classroom? 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Thinglink - Make Images Interactive

Thinglink is a website that allows users to make their images interactive and tag them with links, information, video, sound, and other features.  There are several great ways that teachers could use this on a website or blog.  Images are an integral part of teaching for most of us.  Thinglink would be a great way to take your pictures to the next step and allow students to interact with them.

In all subjects you could link to more information related to a certain aspect of an image.  Science teachers could do this for parts of a cell for example.  Social Studies teachers could take an image, or even a political cartoon and show video or discuss the image using the audio feature.  This really takes images to the next level in the classroom. 

For more information, see the video below.

A Cleaner Internet

A Cleaner Internet is a browser extension for Firefox, Chrome, and Safari.  The concept is simple; it removes all the clutter from websites that we use everyday, especially YouTube.  There are plenty options out there that can do this, but with Internet Filtering in schools, it is a good idea to know all your options. 


WordStash is another option in the Web 2.0 software that allows users to create Flashcard based study guides and then use the list to study, play games, and share words with friends and students.  WordStash allows users to also add images to their flashcards, or create flashcards based on images.  This could be useful for special education students, foreign language classes, and especially science and social studies.

One feature noted on the front page is that WordStash uses Science Based Learning to calculate the most efficient time to study using a spaced repetition algorithm.  The software can also save words you look up in the dictionary.

You can create an account for free or view list already created by other users.  One of the games is waterfall, where you have to type in the correct answer before the definition or image disappears at the bottom of the screen.

Here is a short tutorial that someone created that might be worth checking out.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Boxify.me - Simple File Sharing

Boxify.me is a website for file sharing for groups.  A simple and easy way for teachers to share files with students and different classes.  Also provides a way for students to share files for group projects or with teachers.  Each "box" has a private URL.  The people that you share your "box" with can upload and download files to/from that the "box."  You can customize the URL for the "box" as well.

3 New Web 2.0 Resources

Brief.ly is another option for grouping links together into one set.  You can insert up to 3 dozen links.  For each link you provide the URL and a caption.  For your list you can create a Title, a Description, Table of Contents, and a custom URL.  You can embed links in tabs and use the real titles as an option as well.  Once you are finished you can provide the link to students and they have the websites that they can use for a project.

Wormwall is a website that allows you to easily create a simple web page in minutes.  Create online flyers, fan pages, publish writing, etc.  It makes it easy for students to publish online content and share with teachers, other students, and the world.  It is easy and requires no "tech stuff."  Most of the HTML processes are done for the user. 

Let's Pocket is a cross platform website that allows users to easily organize information and take notes easily.  You can add notes via SMS messages or through the website.  You can customize the look and add tags as well as arrange notes in a fashion that meets your needs.  Let's Pocket provides a quick and easy way to "jot down those things of importance," by jotting them down electronically. 

Free Rice - End World Hunger

I have heard of this, but never really looked at it till recently.  Free Rice is a website where people can answer simple multiple choice questions and for each one that is right, 10 grains of rice will be donated to help feed the hungry.  Questions get easier if you get it wrong and get harder if you get it right.  You can choose from various subjects, including Geography, English Vocabulary, Mathematics, Foreign Language, Chemistry, and Humanities.

Students can create an account and track their progress (under 14 requests a parent email).  This would be a great way to provide extra credit based on number correct or number in a row correct.  Teachers can create groups as well and students can join them.  Have a rival school?  Create a group for each school and see who can get the most grains of rice donated; would be a great homecoming activity and good publicity.

Have extra time in the computer lab?  Have students answer questions and help fee the hungry at the same time.  Imagine the impact if every teacher would do this across the country every time the opportunity presented itself. 

You can follow Free Rice on Facebook as well.

Trello - Organization and Collaboration

Trello is a website that allows users the ability to collaborate on projects and organize who is working on what within those projects.  If you have students working on a long term project, this would be a valuable tool for them to use to stay on task.  With the growth of PLC's and schools seeking accreditation or meeting standard requirements, this would be a good way for principals or superintendents to track the progress of projects designed to meet those standards.

Trello organizes your projects into boards and in one glance you can see what is being worked on, who is working on it, and the progress that is being made.  It would obviously take some training, but in time, could be a great way to organize projects.  For more information, see the video below.

Quixey - App Search

It was only a matter of time before a search engine dedicated to Apps became available.  Quixey provides you just that capability.  You can search for Apps on various platforms: Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, Chrome, Firefox, Facebook, Web, and others.  As more schools adopt wireless devices in their classroom, finding an App for student and teacher use could be beneficial.  Quixey would be a valuable tool if looking for an App to use in your classroom.  You can watch the video below to learn more.

CogniFit - Brain Fitness

CogniFit is a website for improving memory and brain fitness.  CogniFit Brain Fitness "lets you explore your brain, assess your cognitive skills, train the abilities that are important to you and gives you an efficient mind training. You will instantly know how fit your brain is and what can be done to boost it. You simply start by taking a quick assessment that will show you where you stand. You can compare yourself to your family, your friends and the rest of the world and even decide what you want to specifically improve in your life."

Based on that assessment you will learn what your strengths and weaknesses are and focus on those.  CogniFit would be a valuable tool for Psychology and Science classrooms to use in their classrooms.  You might also look at using this for students who struggle with certain aspects of learning.  Have extra time in the computer lab?  Let students use Cognifit instead of search the web for games, or use Microsoft Paint. 

You can connect with Facebook or create an account.  To watch videos about the program and the science behind it, see the videos on their About Us Page.

LiveMinutes - Simple Web Conferencing

LiveMinutes is a quick and simple solution for web conferencing.  You don't need to sign up to use their service.  You can easily start a conference by clicking on the "Start Sharing" link and you are provided with a URL that you can share with people.  If you feel like it, you can also create an account as well and this allows you to share documents from your computer and have access to other features.  At the conclusion of each "meeting" you can get a downloadable report of what was shared and said.

If you feel like it, you can switch to Skype from within the web conference as well.  During your web conference you can access Maps, a whiteboard, preview the minutes, and in the future share videos.  You could use LiveMinutes to bring in quest speakers or connect with students who are at home sick from all your classes at one time online.  It might also be a way to meet with parents who can't make it to your classroom or to parent teacher conferences because of their work schedules.

50 FREE GB of Cloud Storage

Box.net is a competitor to Dropbox and recently they have announced an opportunity for users and new users to get 50 Gigabytes of FREE cloud storage in an effort to combat the recent release of iCloud from Apple.  Box.net offers an App for both iPhone and iPod and other wireless devices which can come in handy as the move towards tablets grows.  If you are using cloud storage with your students, this would be a valuable option for storing student work and provide you with plenty of storage room for your classes throughout the years.  For all the schools out there that use Google Docs, Box.net can be integrated into web based program. 

Thanks to Edudemic for sharing this information and check out their article to learn how you can get your own free 50 GB of Cloud Storage.

For more information, view the video below

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Putting Ed-Tech Into Practice - Hindsight is 20-20

Entering the 3rd month of being back in the classroom has opened my eyes to a lot about how I could have done things differently in years past and even this school year.  In all my administration classes, they talk a lot about reflecting on your teaching, so allow this post to be one where I do that.

When it comes to technology, I realized that I probably over thought the fact that kids do have easy access to computers and the Internet, or at least ways to get to one.  I am realizing that is not necessarily the case.  I do my best to make the computers in my classroom available, but with coaching a sport, I can't be available in the afternoons for the first few months and that has made it tough to "require" use by the students.

When it comes to keeping a classroom blog, I should have started out requiring kids to reply to a post for credit on a test, or something a long those lines.  I also should have done the same about getting the word out about my Facebook and Twitter pages to the parents.  I have realized that I am not getting the usage from students out of my blog, Facebook, and Twitter that I had hoped for, and that all falls back on me for how I approached it.

I am using the blog to update what we are doing in class, but not as an engaging tool with parents and students as I hoped it would be.  I know that next trimester I will need to do a better job of communicating this to parents.  I have also had a recheck on reality of what it means to teach 120 kids each day.  Communication takes a lot of work, even in the electronic age when it is supposed to be faster.

The good thing is that our district is on Trimester schedule, so in November I will have a whole new subject and classes of students.  This will allow me the opportunity to adjust my approach to utilizing the social media I have created in my classroom.  I will make it more of a focus during class time and share more of what is being done and what students are saying.  It will also be more applicable as I get into Government and Economics.  Sometimes, subject matter can play a huge role in how technology is used effectively.

A couple weeks ago I did take my students to the computer lab to work on a project.  The past two years I have read and read about how this generation knows how to use the Internet and a computer and type in Word successfully.  I am learning that is not really the case.  Technology is not as "natural" to them as we think it might be.  Certain aspects, yes, but as a whole, no.  It will be interesting to see if this changes in the coming years.

What have I had success in though?
- Students were able to easily navigate the CIA World Fact Book site for a geography project.
- Several students have signed up for the Remind 101 account that I have created.

With next trimester also comes the possibility of video conferencing with a 5th grade teacher who is a friend of mine and having our own "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader" game; as we both study government.  I am looking forward to that, and hope to blog about the experience when we get to that point. 

How have you reflected on your teaching recently?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Remind101 - Text Messaging Service

Remind101 is a Text Messaging service that allows teachers to easily setup classrooms to text message students and parents and remind them of events, homework, and/or to study for an important test.  Using the service is simple because is allows you to provide students a code for each class that you set up.  They can then text that code and will be added to your list. 

Based on my previous post this seems like the best way to use cell phone technology outside the classroom.  I have the information of my students who get text messages, but have not had time to do anything with it.  With this service, it takes out the step of logging the information into an excel spreadsheet and then into my email when I would use something like TextServ.

Give Remind101 a try, and to learn more, watch the videos below.  And as always, read the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy

Remind101 from remind101 on Vimeo.

remind101 tutorial from remind101 on Vimeo.

Friday, September 2, 2011

My Student's Used Their Cell Phones in Class....GASP!

Yesterday it finally happened....I allowed students to use their cell phones as part of a lesson I was doing in class.  Something frowned upon in several schools across the country.  The use of the cell phones was minimal, as I will explain below, but it was a freeing experience trying something that last time I was in the classroom I never would have thought about doing.

The lesson was on Population Density.  I was explaining to the students how density can be vital in understanding various aspects of human geography.  High density can help explain crime rates, pollution, innovation, etc.  The opposite COULD be true about low density countries.  Within the lesson was an activity where students were to calculate the population density of several countries.

As I was explaining the assignment and doing a sample, it happened...
"Mr. Zimmer, can we use the calculators on our phones?" 
Without a thought, I replied with a resounding, "Sure." 
I had some calculators that I borrowed from the math department, but not enough that could type in digits for statistics that were in the hundreds of millions and even billions.  In previous years, I would have said no, but at the same time, phones and iPods with good calculators did not exist a few years ago, and not nearly as numerous.  So I found myself adapting to the generation of students I had.  Of course at the same time, the pressure was on me now to monitor the students and ensure that the phones were being used in a proper manner. 

I have to say that it was a great first experience.  I was always worried about students getting off task with them, but like all classrooms, if you just walk around the room and keep students guessing where you will step next, they will stay on the task you require to avoid getting in trouble.

No issues, no problems, and a successful experience using a technology that is readily available to so many students of this generation, yet banned in so many classrooms.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Putting EdTech into Practice - Document Camera

After two years of helping teachers utilize a document camera and providing ideas for how they could use them, it became my turn when I got back into the classroom.  Unfortunately the classroom setup is a little odd, but utilizing other tools, I am able to use the camera in an effective manner with my students.

I am a fan of my document camera and you can learn more about the model I use and ways to use one by reading some blog posts about it. Granted I have not completely reached full potential with its use in the classroom, but I am getting to the point where I or my students use one everyday.

Below are some of the ways that I have been using the Document Camera in the classroom:
1.) I had students graph data related to population growth in the United States.  I was able to easily go through the procedures on how to label the graph by placing it under the document camera.  I also was able to take graphs from previous classes and showcase them so that students had a good idea of what I was looking for.  Using the image capture I took pictures of them so that I have them for later.

2.) Students are always asking "What page is that on?"  Using the document camera I am able to easily show the page to the students, and highlight the area they should be looking.  It has been great when discussing images and charts that are in the book...something that was much more difficult when I did not have one.

3.) I gave a test and when I was done grading the test I was able to share the various levels of responses with the classes and obscure the name of whose test it was.  Students were then able to see what I was and was not looking for in their answers.  With transparencies that was possible to do, but it was time consuming.

4.) Every handout that I use I could easily display a copy on the board for my students to utilize.

5.) Instead of having students answer questions aloud, I have students come to the board as they are working and "write" responses to questions that they have completed and then as a class we can discuss them.

I have realized that the best aspect of a Document Camera is the ability to view larger what my students are also looking at.  It makes discussing topics much easier and more beneficial in engaging my students.

How are you using a Document Camera?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I Will Still Use Power Point

If you follow this blog regularly, then you know that I am adamant about the misuse of Power Point in the classroom.  We have used and abused it beyond how it was intended and we are using it in a manner that hinders the educational process.  I prefer to use other methods and in a previous post I shared several other options.

This year though, I will be using Power Point....but for a completely different reason.  This year I am using Power Point as a method of sharing my daily agenda, homework, and "I Can" statements that are required.  I have realized this is so much easier then writing everything on the board each morning or afternoon.  I can do it in advance and have it ready for when students enter the room.  Students know exactly where to look and know exactly what they will be learning in my classroom each day.  I can then save them and post them to my website each week if necessary so that students know what we did if they missed school.

I suggest you try this if you have access to a projector or your computer is hooked to the TV and see if it is something that helps you in your classroom.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Start the New School Year Using Social Media

Finally back to the blog after a month long vacation during the month of July.  I needed the break to be with family and friends and take a break from anything work related for a while.  Since I am going back into the classroom this coming school year, allow me to share how I am going to be using Social Media with my students to start off the posts for the month of August.

The 2011-2012 school year is just around the corner.  My school year will be very different.  It will be tough adjusting to life back in the classroom after being out of it for two years.  There are several things that will take getting re-used to: Duty schedule, lesson plans, grading papers, discipline, etc.  But they are all expectations of being a teacher.

Over the past two years I have learned a lot about integrating technology in the classroom, but I have also learned about my personal teaching philosophy and what it means to be a teacher.  I recognized so many flaws in my teaching strategies when provided the opportunity to be on the outside looking in.  I noticed damaging characteristics of my personality that interfered with my ability to enjoy being a teacher.  Hopefully this coming school year will allow me to put in to practice all that I have learned and reflected on.

One of the new strategies I learned about was utilizing social media in the classroom.  My last year in the classroom, all these social media tools existed.  They were there for me to use with students and parents, but no one was telling me how to use them.  Through personal professional development, collaborating online with other teachers, and attending conferences, I learned so much about how to use these social media tools.  This coming school year, I will be working at integrating a classroom Blog, Facebook Page, and Twitter Feed.

Why all three?  Because not every parent has a Twitter or Facebook account.  Not every student has, or is permitted to have a Facebook Account.  The blog allows me to easily share the same information with those students and parents who do not utilize social networking.  You are probably thinking to yourself: "That sure is a lot of repeating information."  Yeah, it is, but I can use a site like Twitterfeed, and have my blog posts automatically posted to the classroom Facebook and Twitter pages.  Therefore I am really only updating one site, and if necessary I can post separately.

Setting this up is fairly easy.  All I needed was my RSS feed for my blog, my Twitter Username, and my Facebook Page Address.  You can learn more about linking your blog to Facebook using Twitterfeed here and linking your blog to Twitter using Twitterfeed here.  This process really will help to synchronize the communication with students and parents.

Another great feature of Twitter is the ability to create a hashtag; which is typing a "#" before text that is used in your tweet.  For example, I use #MrZimHCCHS for my classroom Twitter feed.  The hashtag categorizes tweets.  If a parent or student does not have a Twitter account, they can still visit the Twitter homepage and type in the hashtag for the classroom Twitter feed in the search bar.  This is great because students can still use the service without having to join the site.  The other great thing about Twitterfeed is that you can include the hashtag in the automated tweets of the posts from the classroom blog, therefore students who don't have an account don't miss out on information if they prefer to check Twitter.

When it comes to the Facebook page, I created a separate profile where I only show "My Info" and include in the information that the page will not be used to connect with friends, parents, and students, only to create my Classroom Facebook Page.  In the settings for my Facebook page I made it to where I am the only one who can post statuses, links, pictures, notes, and videos on the wall.  Students and parents will be able to comment, but that is it.  If desired, notifications can be setup to receive emails when comments are made.

So when it comes to "policing" the social media, what do I do?  I require the students to sign a set of rules related to social media, and that bad behavior on the page is just like bad behavior in the classroom.  I also will show students how to make their own Facebook pages private so that I (and questionable people) don't have access to their page, therefore protecting myself from communicating with students outside of the Classroom Facebook page. 

With the growth of mobile technology, students can download a Twitter app and the Facebook app and easily follow our social media classroom and not miss out on anything I share.  Students interested in RSS can download a Reader app to get blog updates as well.  I am sure that I will run into some issues in my move towards using social media, but I am expecting them to happen and am preparing myself for ways to handle them. 

My Classroom blog is just getting going, so not much is on it.  Same goes for my Classroom Twitter and Classroom Facebook Page.  You might not want to use all three like me, but I highly encourage you to embrace one method and utilize it in your classroom.  Using social media is not specific to high school either.  Parents of all grades would like some form of alternate communication to connect with their child's classroom.  You might even survey parents at an open house to see which they would prefer.

Need further assistance?  Contact me on Twitter and lets work together!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Weekly Core Subjects Resources

Happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans.  I won't post again till after the holiday as I am going on vacation without my laptop.  Summer is going by way to fast.

1.) Eduify is a website to help you write faster and better by providing tutorials, cite and verify sources, and store documents in the cloud.  You can learn more about it from the iLearn Technology Blog

2.) Citation Machine is a simple website to create citations.  Choose a style, insert the information, and then copy and paste your citation. 

3.) Pottermore is an interactive website that will be available in October for all those readers of the Harry Potter books. 

4.) Literature Map is a website where you can type in the name of an author of a book you are reading and it will provide a web cloud of other authors who write similar styles.  Source: iLearn Technology Blog

1.) Multipication.com has resources, interactives, and games for learning about multiplication. 

2.) Desmos is website to create and share rich interactive content.  They have created an online graphing calculator that students and teachers can use.  When a problem has been created/solved, it creates a link that you can share.

3.) Here is a great list of 19 Online Graphing Calculators from the Tech the Plunge Blog which is written by Jeff Thomas

4.) PSToM is a website for Parents, Students, and Teachers of Mathematics.  It is an online community with resources, lessons, and activities for learning math.  More information is available from the iLearn Technology Blog.

1.) Roller Coaster is a Physics interactive where you drag a line up and down and create a roller coaster path.  You attempt to make sure the rider does not "puke" or pass out to move on to the next level.  Go through the tutorial and it explains the physics aspect.

2.) The Periodic Table of Comic Books is an interesting way to look at the elements.  It takes the elements and shows which comic book characters have special powers based on the elements.  Very interesting. 

3.) Virtual Pig Dissection is a website where students can virtually dissect a pig.  Would be a good intro activity; don't think it can take the place of "live/dead" experience.

4.) Science Toy Maker is a collection of videos and instructions by a teacher who enjoys rolling up their sleeves to work on science projects. 

5.) Succeeding With Science is a website dedicated to providing resources for teachers and students at all grade levels looking to improve in science. 

Social Studies
1.) Wikihood World is a website with information about locations all over the globe.  Including Longitude and Latitude for the center of the city.  You can find out information about leaders, culture, history, statistics, etc.

2.) TweetCongress is a website that provides information, links, and resources about Congress through Tweets.  It includes Tweets of Senators and Representatives who have accounts as well. 

3.) What Was There is a website where you can take an older picture of an area of a city and "lay it over" a current Google Street View of the area so that you can see how the area has changed.  This would be a great project for students to do in your local town. 

4.) CitizenTube are the top news stories that appear on YouTube.  Every week there will be a recap of the top news stories. 

5.) Mapfaire is an easy way for users to create their own maps.  With a Google Account you can publish your map.  For more information, read the post from Free Technology 4 Teachers.

6.) FBI: The Vault is a website that contains many files and readings of public importance.  You can browse for specific people or even events.  An interesting way to look into the History of the FBI.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Larry Ferlazzo's Best of Series

A while back, as in the first month I started this blog, I wrote a blog post where I shared a link to Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day "Best of Series".  Since that time, his lists of websites has grown substantially; to over 700!  Each link is available in alphabetical order by subject matter.  If you or teachers in your building are looking for resources, this is a valuable starting point for teachers to start their search. 

A tip to search through the website: Press "Ctrl"+"F" and a search box will pop up.  Type in the topic you are searching for (try specific and then general), for example "Geography" and see the lists that he has put together.  Happy searching!!. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Notes.io is a free website for typing notes online.  It looks very similar to the notepad app on the iPad and iPhone.  Currently when you type notes it creates a short URL for you to share.  A simple tool that students and teachers could use to share notes from classes.  In the future Notes.io plans to provide the option to print, attach images, send via email, and then create an account so that you can save your notes.  One of the benefits of Notes.io is that it provides the size (KB/MB) as you type so that you know how large your notes are.  You can easily copy and paste text as well, but of course hyperlinks will not copy.  The more you type, the longer the page gets. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Tricider - Brainstorming and Decision Making

Tricider is a website dedicated to assisting users in brainstorming and voting on topics.  Teachers could easily use this with students to take a poll or challenge students to brainstorm ideas for projects or public speakers.  The great thing about Tricider is that no registration is required to use the website.  You ask the question and then send the link to students by email, Twitter, or Facebook.  People can propose a solution or provide arguments for an idea.  As moderator, the user has complete control over what is discussed.  At the conclusion, people vote for the best idea.  Students could also use this when working on group projects as well.  Tricider is an interesting concept that could have multiple purposes in education.


Bundlr is another option for organizing and sharing content from the web.  There are several options out there that I have shared in the past.  Bundlr allows users to sign in using either a Facebook or Twitter account.  Bundlr could be used by teachers to organize websites that they want their students to use for research or to share in class covering a specific topic.  It could also be used to collect current events stories for the purpose of gathering different views. 

Tout - Video Twitter

If you paid any attention to the Shaquille O'Neal retirement you probably heard about a website called Tout.  The concept is pretty simple.  It is basically a Twitter for sharing short video clips.  People follow your Tout account and you can record videos.  This would be a great way for teachers to visually share homework assignments or explain concepts.  You could use this service to record field trips or classroom activities as well and invite parents to follow the account as well.  You can also connect Tout to your Twitter and Facebook account.  Tout is available as an app for Apply products as well.  For more information, watch this short video about the service. 

Use Tout and Record Life's Moments


Pegby is a website that allows users to create a "pegboard" for you to use to help you "get things done."  Since the board is collaborative you can assign "cards" to people that you have shared your pegboard with.  You can stack your cards, push them to a certain date, style them, and several other features.  Pegby is another option for teachers to use with students working on group projects to help them stay organized and make sure that aspects of the project are getting done.

Here is a video highlighting several of the most important features.

Pegby in Two Minutes from Pegby on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Weekly Core Subjects Resources

Schools Out For Summer!!  Well, I still have Master's Classes, Summer School to teach, golf practices, etc, etc.  So the whole "teachers have the summer off" argument is completely invalid for me.  I know that I have been slacking recently with the "Weekly" aspect of these resources, but in preparation for my return to the classroom, I have a feeling that this post will become a twice a month endeavor, but we will see.  Now, on to the resources!

1.) StoryMash is a creative writing community for authors, amateur writers, readers, and anyone interested in collaborative fiction and collaborative creative writing.

2.) Compare and Contrast Essay Writing Interactive is a valuable tool for English teachers.  Source: Free Technology for Teachers.

3.) Definr is an incredibly fast dictionary.  As you type it provides options based on what you are entering.  It then provides the definition and then synonyms as well. 

4.) DailyLit is a website that provides readers the ability to easily read books online by subscribing to the books through RSS feeds.  You then get a daily installment for you to read.  Source: Teachers as Technology Trailblazers

5.) BoomWriter supports creative writing, reading comprehension, peer editing and genre studies.  Source: Teachers as Technology Trailblazers

6.) Online Etymology Dictionary is a website that provides information about what words meant and how they sounded 600-2000 years ago.

7.) Unbound is a website for people to get their books published.  No middleman or companies, just the authors and their writings.  

8.) Scriffon is an area for people to write and publish online.  A great place for free writing.  More information and source: Free Technology for Teachers

1.) FooPlot is a free online graphing calculator where you can put in 5 different functions to create the formula and graph.

2.) Cinderella is an interactive geometry software that students and teachers can use in their geometry classes. 

3.) Texas Instruments is coming out with a new calculator and it seems sweet.  Seems like the calculator is taking a huge step with the TI-Nspire CX

4.) Everyday Mathematics Toolkit is for grades K-6 and allows teachers to create interactive mathematics lessons on the web.  Source: The Education Technology Blog

1.) Freezeray is a website that provides several lessons and activities for the various science subject matters that can be used with an interactive whiteboard.  

2.) Sports Science from ESPN offers lessons and activities explaining the science behind sports.  Valuable tool to get athletes more interested in science.  Source: Free Technology for Teachers

3.) The STAR program at MIT seeks to bridge the divide between scientific research and the classroom. Understanding and applying research methods in the classroom setting can be challenging due to time constraints and the need for advanced equipment and facilities.

4.) KScience is a website that offers lessons, animations, interactives, and other tools for teaching science.  There is also a toolkit to help teachers create their own Flash activities.

5.) CitSci.org is website in support of citizen science. It allows citizens, school groups, and professionals to enter species observations into a global database. The observations are then used for natural resource management, scientific studies, and environmental education.

6.) Science Fair Adventures is a website that provides resources and information for science teachers and students interested in science fairs.  There is also information on various project ideas.  

7.) The Science of Cooking is a website that explores the recipes, activities, and webcasts that will enhance the understanding of the science behind food and cooking.  Source: Educational Technology Guy

Social Studies
1.) On This Day from the New York Times provides the front page from their paper on various days of the year of your choosing.  A great way to look at primary sources of information.

2.) The National Archives Experience provides access to a digital vault from the national archives.  A valuable resource for finding primary sources.   

3.) Laws Loop gives visitors the opportunity to create their own personal manifesto.  Everyone has a right to an opinion about anything, with no borders defined by the status quo.  Exercise free speech and create a page today.  A valuable interactive and tool to teach about manifestos.

4.) Civil War 150th Anniversary is an interactive from the History Channel celebrating this momentous occasion. 

5.) Toporopa is a website providing several different versions of maps of Europe.  Several of the maps are also interactive.  A valuable addition for European History and Geography. 

6.) GoGo News is a website dedicated to providing news for kids and news articles for kids as well.  In the age of news that is focused on so much negativity, it is a good idea to provide news for students that is not so dark. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Shaq Gets It

I happened to catch the very end of Shaquille O'neal's (not sure if that is correct punctuation) press conference on his retirement.  During the time period questions could be asked by reporters, he was asked about regrets and about being a leader or a follower.  Within this moment he talked about how if he was in school in this day and age he would be valedictorian.   He talked about how he had to go to the library, but kids today can just go to Google and get the answers. 

Shaq gets how Google is changing education, or changing how students can learn, yet those in charge of education have yet to figure out how the Internet is changing education.  Focusing on facts that can be answered with a simple search is not teaching what this generation needs. 

Shaq made a great point, a point many of my fellow educators have been saying the past few years...or S.G. (Since Google)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Most Popular Posts - May

The last week of school is finally upon many of us, especially me.  It will be my last week as a Technology Integration Specialist, in case you missed that announcement, read here.  May was a long month and glad that it has come to an end.  Time to start June, which means summer classes and working summer school.  Happy end of the school year!

From the Month of May:
1.) More Prezi Updates - Prezi added some much needed features to their software. 

2.) An EdTech Tip for Administrators - A School Twitter Feed - Engage and communicate with parents and the community by creating a school Twitter feed for your school.  Link to stories through Twitter on your webpage.

3.) An EdTech Tip for Administrators - Walkthroughs with Google Docs - Using a laptop, iPad, iPod, iPhone, you can do walkthroughs using Google Docs. 

4.) An EdTech Tip for Administrators - To Use Facebook or To Not Use Facebook - Facebook is where our students and parents are, and our schools and school districts should be too; in my opinion.

5.) WebDoc - A tool similar to Glogster but with more collaboration. 

6.) Online Filter Bubbles - How Google is filtering search results. 

And in case you missed it - Standardized Testing - A Student's View is a great video that I shared in November that got a lot of hits this month....not sure why tough.  ;)

If you have not yet done so, now would be a great time to Subscribe to my Blog!

Also, feel free to follow this blog through Google Friend Connect.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Even More Prezi Updates

In case you have never read this blog, I am a huge fan of Prezi.  I remember using it when it first came out and thought it was neat, but lacked a user interface that made sense and thought it was to difficult to use.  Throughout the past two years though, Prezi has worked hard at improving their product.  They have actually listened to their customers.

Some of the recent updates are:
1.) The Zebra tool got a new look.  You can click a + or - size to increase font size or drag the zoom in and out feature to the size you need.
2.) Resizing of frames has also improved.  It used to be one directional, but now you can resize the frames to meet your needs.
3.) Mentioned in another post, you can now bend lines as well.
4.) There is also a supplemental menu when you right click in your Prezi now.
5.) Line Snapping allows you to make sure that your line is at the right angle or not...especially horizontal. 

For more information and to see the changes in action, see the video below

Strike - Create and "Knockdown" List

Strike is a simple To Do Application where users can create a list and then as they get items done on the list "strike" them out...or knock them down.  It is as simple as giving your list a name, adding things to the list and then marking them out, moving to the bottom or removing completely.  To remove an item from the list you can check the box or click and drag it to the left or right of your list.  You can also choose from various backgrounds and easily reorder your list if necessary.  Each list has its own URL so you can share it with other users.  You can also easily print your list if necessary. 

I could see this application being used by students who are collaborating in a group.  As each task gets done, the students would Strike them off the list.  It would really help students learn organizational skills and provide a way to ensure that all the task for the project get done. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Proud of My Ole Kentucky Home Moving Towards Social Media

An article/blog post came across my Twitter stream this afternoon and noticed it mentioned an article about how Kentucky was moving forward and Texas moving backwards.

The article discusses how Kentucky is embracing Social Media and that the Department of Education has created a Facebook Page and a Twitter Page.  The Commissioner of Education is also on Twitter.  In regards to Texas, a district is closing its Facebook page because of "negative comments" and moderating those comments has become to time consuming.

I am part of a group that monitors the Facebook page for Hopkins County Schools in Kentucky, the district I am employed by.  Negative or rude comments happen, and the majority of the time it is people venting frustration.  I can only think of a handful of times that we have had to remove comments that were negative and it took all of 2 seconds to do that.  Sounds to me like the district in Texas doesn't like hearing that people in the community disagree with their decisions.

I am proud that we have a commissioner that sees the importance of technology in education.  I remember him at the KySTE conference a few years ago talking about how he would love to get a mobile device in every students hand.  Great to have those goals....wish the Capitol agreed with him.

Welcome to the 21st Century of Communication Kentucky Department of Education and Commissioner Terry Holliday

Oh, and if by chance Mr. Holliday or anyone from the Kentucky Department of Education reads this and needs a regional employee interested in Social Media...find me on Twitter! :)

An EdTech Tip for Administrators - Walkthroughs with Google Docs

Every Principal has to conduct walkthroughs and get a gauge for what is going on in the classrooms of their teachers.  Several use an iPad and can use an eWalk software and pay for it.  Some use an iPad with the Google Docs App which is free.  Others don't have an iPad or technology to conduct walkthroughs with, so they use a form and a pen and then provide a paper copy to the teacher who then promptly looks at it and throws it away or files it to never be seen again.

For those administrators who are paying for an eWalk software or those still using Paper and Pencil I highly recommend that you create a Google Docs account and take advantage of their Forms Application.  As you do your walkthroughs on your iPad you can easily access your forms, complete the form on your iPad, and then send it to the teacher through email.  If you have a Wifi Printer you would also be able to print a copy...if that is necessary.

Those of you with a Pen and Paper could fill out the form, save it with the teachers name and date and then have an ongoing folder of walkthroughs with your staff.  You could then email the form to the teachers so that they have a copy as well.  this way you are cutting the amount of paper in half!

For more perspective about using Google Docs for Walkthrough check out this post on the Practical Theory Blog

Looking for a form?  Here is one already created that you could use as an example to start with.

Here is a great document: 21st Century Walkthrough I found through a simple Google Search.  Thanks to the Author Adam Truitt

For more information about creating forms in a Google Doc, check out the video below.

A Couple Wikis

Wikis are a valuable website for teachers and administrators alike.  I had a friend email me asking me if I could provide him some iPad resources, so I checked my Diigo, found them, and then sent him the links.  I sent some more and asked how it was going.  He said that he was preparing a Wiki for his staff so that they had all the resources in one location.  Here are a couple wikis that I came across this week.

1.) Mobile Learning 4 Special Needs is a wiki that organizes applications and other resources for mobile devices that can be used in the classroom setting.  You can also find on the wiki a tutorials for using the applications and mobile devices as well as articles discussing their use.  There are also links to conferences as well.  A valuable resource to share with special education teachers. 

2.) ICT Magic is another wiki created to share and discuss the valuable web tools that are available for teachers and students to use in the classroom.  Resources are organized by subject matter and in several instances are used on the wiki in order to show how they work.  A great starting point for teachers looking to integrate technology into the curriculum.

Sandglaz - Simply Powerful To Do List

Sandglaz, which is currently in Beta, is an easy to use To Do List application.  You can create an account or sign in with Google.  What is different about Sandglaz is the way that it organizes and prioritizes what you include in your To Do Lists.  Tasks are grouped into cells, inspired by Eisenhower's Matrix, by importance and how soon you need to complete them. Simply drag and drop tasks between cells to change their priority.  See the image below:

Each To Do List will provide email reminders to help you stay organized and remind you of important events.  You can also share your To Do List and therefore collaborate on a project with other people.  For students, and teachers, who struggle to stay on task and get things done, Sandglaz could be a valuable tool, especially for tasks over a longer period of time.

280 Daily - Daily Journal


280 Daily might be the most complete daily diary/journal application that I have seen to date.  Each entry is limited to 280 characters, so it is a short description of your day, but long enough to leave details.  In the age of texting, a software such as this would be beneficial to students.
(In case you are wondering, the paragraph above is 293 characters when including the spaces)

So what makes 280 Daily the most complete?  It is the numerous features that are available and the ability to post from your mobile browser as well.  You can sign up for daily email reminders so you don't forget to write your entry.  There are statistics that let you know about your writing as well.  When completed you can also export your entries to a PDF, save them, print them, and share it.  The overview view of your account looks stunning...in my opinion and offers users freedom to change appearance and organization of the overview tab.

If looking for a journal/diary option for this generation of thinkers, 280 Daily would be a valuable tool.  See the video below for more information.

280daily: Sum up your day in 280 characters from 280daily on Vimeo.

SitePouch - Group URL's Together

SitePouch is another option for users looking to merge several websites together into a slideshow fashion.  You copy and paste the URL's and it will provide a new one where people can access and view all the websites from one location.  Another great option for teachers looking to provide students websites that they want them to look at.  For more tools to organize URL's click here.

Eyeooo - Multiple Webpage Viewer

Eyeooo is a website that allows you to copy and paste up to 3 website urls and then Eyeooo provides each website in its own window within one larger window.  A simple concept and for teachers and students without multiple monitors would come in handy.  I could see students and teachers using Eyeooo to conduct a compare and contrast of two webpages or viewing articles that have different opinions.  Easy to use and very practical.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Weekly Core Subjects Resources

For many of you summer is about to start or has started.  For others (those plagued by snow, flooding, and severe weather) you still have a couple weeks left.  Summer is usually a slow time for this blog as I take time for family and other endeavors.  However, with graduate classes and working summer school, there might be more action around here....you just never know.

1.) Netspeak helps you improve your writing.  When searching for words, Netspeak can give you directions. Their dictionary contains billions of phrases and how commonly they are used.

2.) English Tenses With Cartoons is a website that helps users learn the proper tenses of words by providing cartoons to teach them.  Great for middle school grammar lessons.  

3.) Stick Figure Hamlet is the story of Hamlet in stick figures.  Not much else to say...but easy for students who struggle with Shakespeare to understand it.

4.) Ape Word is a website that helps you improve your writing.  You copy and paste some text into a "chalkboard" and it will generate drop down menus that provide synonyms or alternate words for users.  How it chooses those words I am not sure...am guessing it looks through and finds the ones used more than one time.

5.) Cool Tools for Writing is a four part series (this link takes you to the 4th part and then you can get to 1-3 from there) from the Ed Tech Ideas Blog.  It provides links and information to resources to help with writing.

1.) From Free Technology 4 Teachers comes a blog post with links to 5 Free Online Scientific Calculators.  A valuable asset for 1 to 1 schools so that students can save some money. 

2.) Math Maps is a activity idea from Tom Barrett where students use Google Maps to complete math activities.  If Google Maps zooms in enough to your hometown this would be a valuable activity to study the community.  What an interesting idea...kudos!

3.) Java Applets on Mathematics is a website that provides numerous (like that math vocabulary usage?) interactives that use Java to teach various math concepts.  Source: Educational Technology Guy

1.) The Howard Hughes Medical Institute offer five virtual labs for teachers and students to learn about Transgenic Flies, Bacterial Identification, Cardiology, Neurophysiology, and Immunology. 

2.) Build a Solar System allows users to input the diameter of the sun and from that users will learn about how that impacts other planets in the solar system.  Users will also learn about the distance and speed of light as well.  You can also visit a more extensive page that allows more features.

3.) At My Science Box you'll find complete, scaffolded lesson plans to teach a 4-6 week middle school science unit through activities, projects, and field trips. Every lesson has been kid-tested with students at Archway School.

4.)  Java Applets on Physics is a website that provides interactives that use Java to teach various physics concepts.  Source: Educational Technology Guy

5.) From the iLearn Technology Blog comes a great list of 33 Space Websites to Celebrate the Luanch of Endeavor.   A great and a good synopsis of several websites that have been shared on this blog as well.

Social Studies
1.) Google Geography Teacher's Institute is a professional development opportunity for social studies teachers to learn how to sue the various Google Tools, such as Google Earth and Sketchup.  Travel and Room are not provided however.  Winners will be selected on August 15th, so make sure you apply well before that. 

2.) Newspaper Map allows visitors to find and discover the newspapers from all over the world.  A great way for students and teachers to be kept up to date on events happening from the journalists in those countries.  Each color coded place mark lets you know what language the paper is available in as well.

3.) YouTube Town Hall is a channel where videos are shown of politicians discussing various government policies.  A great way for students to see the differences between conservatives and liberals.  You can choose the issue, click who you support, and see who is winning. 

4.) Free Maps offers blank world and continental maps for free.  Choose from various styles and print them out. 

5.) Thinkport Tools offers a free online timeline creator for teachers and students.  You can start on a project, save it, and then get access to it later by the name you give it.  The setup and final product is very simple.  A good tool for introducing timelines. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Celly - Create SMS Channels

Celly is a program that allows you to create a channel for your students using SMS.  You can even moderate the messages between students.  You can send out reminders and other information.  Students will submit to follow your "channel" and when a message is sent to that "channel" they will get it.  For more information, watch the video below.  For more information about using it in school, check out the Celly Schools Page

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

webdoc - Like Glogster, But Not....

webdoc, which is currently in beta, is a possible replacement/competitor to Glogster...although it does not have an education based theme or offering.  The concept is similar and provides many of the same options, just in a different format.  One aspect that is different is that users have the ability to reply to a webdoc by creating their own webdoc about the topic.  One feature is a "This or That" where users can discuss and interact between two things, or provide their own "This or That" argument.  It has the feel of a Point-Counterpoint type theme.
Users can put almost anything into a webdoc: pictures, videos and music from all over the web, but also interactive applications like games, polls, slideshows or web services such as Google Maps and Twitter. Anyone can start a conversation naturally with just one friend or all of them, and users can both friend people and follow conversations.

webdoc in action from webdoc on Vimeo.

The webdocs can be published publicly or privately which is a good option to have for educators.  However, I am still uncertain as to using it in the classroom because of several in the gallery that I don't think are appropriate.  I could really see it being used as a method of discussion or a great way to incorporate debate topics into the classroom.  Students could easily post links, pictures, videos, etc for the purpose of debating them.  webdoc is an interesting concept, but needs a more education based option to be completely adaptable in the classroom.

Here is a fun sample: Which 90's Dude Duo Was Cooler??