Thursday, March 31, 2011

March - Most Popular Posts

March was a pretty good month on the blog.  I found a lot of interesting resources and had 39 blog posts.  For the month of March, here are the most popular posts.

1.) 10 Resources for Teaching Writing with Technology - A lot of valuable resources out there for writers and English teachers. 

2.) 10 Resources for Teaching Reading with Technology - If you teach writing, you probably teach reading, so this list is worth checking out as well.

3.) 10 Wikis Worth Checking Out - I just posted this yesterday and it came in third place.  Not bad for 24 hours. 

4.) Idea Paint - A Technology in its own right, Idea Paint allows people to paint a whiteboard anywhere they want.  A fantastic idea. 

5.) INTEGRATING EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY - An acronym of Web 2.0 resources for students, teachers, and administrators. 

Some Other Good Posts:
- It Isn't Going Anywhere - My 400th post about Social Media in Education. 
- Group Tweet - A valuable Twitter application for teachers who use Twitter with their students. 

The Independent Project

The Independent Project(Link to New York Times Article) is about a group of 8 students at Monument Mountain Regional High School who set out to form their own school.  The essentially formed a school within a school.  Each student involved in this project developed Independent Endeavors.  The idea was to find something that you are passionate about and create it.  What were some of those Endeavors?  Wrote a Novel, Wrote a Play, Created a Short Film, Experimented with Culinary Arts, or Learned to Play the Piano.

Students are coming to school and getting an education in material they have no interest in learning.  These students felt that if they were going to spend 6 hours of their day, 30 hours a week at school, they wanted to learn something that interests them.  I was very intrigued with the video below.  I applaud the school for supporting these students.  I also like the idea of an Independent Endeavor.  What would your students do?

To learn more, see the video below:

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

10 Wikis Worth Checking Out

Last school year I would dedicate Wednesday's to sharing a Wiki or a few Wikis that I thought were of value.  Looking back, it has been almost 11 months since I did a Wiki Wednesday post, so I guess I have a lot of catching up to do.  So I present 10 Wikis that I have recently discovered that I think are worth sharing.

1.) First Day - We all have our First Day of School routines.  The question is how many have activities for the content area that they teach?  This wiki provides some interesting ideas for First Day of School Activities.  Worth looking at.

2.) Project Elite Wiki is specific for Librarians.  With the advances in technology there is a fear (and in some states a reality) that librarians will soon be removed or replaced in schools.  The purpose of this Wiki is to encourage technology use by Librarians.  It is important to be able to present yourself with additionally abilities, and this Wiki is a great starting point for Librarians. 

3.) iPods, iPhones, and iPads in Education is a great homepage for all you need to know about integrating iTechnology into the classroom.  Several resources as well as descriptions of apps for various subject matter. 

4.) Open Source Graphics and Visualization Tools is a wiki providing links to web based resources that provides ways to create, share, and edit graphics and visuals.  Very well organized. 

5.) Paperless Posters is a wiki all about Glogster.  You will find helpful tips, samples, and ideas for using Glogster in the classroom.  A helpful link for learning how to use the website and worth sharing with teachers who are interested in using the site. 

6.) Backchanneling Wiki is a one stop shop for all things backchanneling.  The idea of communicating with students through a backchannel is gaining a lot of steam.  This wiki provides links to web-based applications, ideas for use, and links to other resources about backchanneling.

7.) Educational Wikis is all about how to use Wikis in education and it provides various links to articles, tips, ideas, and other resources for using Wiki's in education.  You will also find 100's of examples of educational wikis being used by teachers across the world.  They are listed in alphabetical order.....wow!

8.) Cool Tools for Schools is a great starting point for finding Web 2.0 based resources to use in the classroom.  Each resource is linked by category and provides a short description for them all.

9.) Book Leads is a Wiki all about books.  There is information about authors, information for librarians, information about eBooks, as well as Young Authors.  A valuable resource for Librarians and English teachers.

10.) Student Innovation is a wiki that has the single purpose of sharing how students are using technology to create innovative projects and how as teachers, we need to be sharing what our students are doing with others.  Although this Wiki is still a work in progress; I believe with all the great things that teachers are doing out there, that this will grow rather fast. 

Better World Flux


I am a graphics guy.  I think teaching with graphs, charts, infographics, etc makes learning material more interesting.  I came across the site Better World Flux which provides interactive visualization of information on what really matters in life. Indicators like happiness, life expectancy, and years of schooling are meaningfully displayed in a colorful flowing Flux. Better World Flux visually communicates the world state in terms of standards of living and quality of life for many countries and how this has changed, and mostly improved, over a period of up to 50 years. This site is a tool for building a consensus, telling a story and sharing it, all whilst raising awareness for the UN Millennium Development Goals.

When viewing the data you can look at individual countries or you can look at the world averages with all the countries included.  For students completing geography projects over countries, this would be a valuable resource.  I could also see this being used in other social studies classes as well.  You can look at the data change over time as well, at least from when data was made available.  You can customize your own data sets and combine them as well.

You can see an image sample of the data graphic below as well as a video that shows how to use the website.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

goPileus

Becoming more and more popular are web applications that allow users to easily share files across the web.  I have previously written about Min.us and Ge.tt which provide that ability.  goPileus is another option for easily sharing files over the web.  There is a simple drag and drop interface or the ability to upload a file.  You can create an account providing just an email, username, and password.  This allows you to track the files you are sharing.

When you use goPileus you create a box and use it to keep files sorted and easy to find. Select one of them and see the files inside.  You can link your bit.ly account and get short-url for your files.  Once you drag and drop your files you will have a short URL available to share your files. 

As educators, sometimes we need to get files to our students who are sick or on home-bound.  Sites like goPileus provide an avenue for sharing files that we use in our classrooms.  It would be a great way to share images as well.

Amazon Cloud Drive


Every morning I use the AP News App on my iPhone while eating my cereal to catch up on what has been going on in the world.  This morning I came across a story about Amazon moving into the online storage business.  I use Amazon to shop and if you have an account you can also have a free online storage drive of 5GB.  Amazon Cloud Drive is another method of storing your files online and having access to them anywhere you have access to the web.  You can see the plans available for purchase below.


I did not see anything in the FAQ's about file syncing, so it is basically more of a service that allows you to easily upload files to their servers and then have access to them.  You can upload videos, photos, music, and documents.  If you purchase music files through Amazon you will be able to store and stream them using the Amazon Cloud Player which is also free, and this does not affect your storage capacity.

If you haven't heard, Amazon is also offering an "Appstore" for Android phones; although they are in a legal battle with Apple over the name.  What is different is that if an app goes on sale or is free, there is a timer that lets you know how long you have to take advantage of that deal.  It appears that Amazon is working at entering the Web 2.0/Mobile Market, and in a quick way.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Weekly Core Subject Resources

Hard to believe that Friday will be April 1st.  The good thing is that means Spring Break is next week.  Looking forward to the time at home with family.  Hopefully I can get online and still post next week.  Just depends on the weather and how much time I spend outside.

English
1.) Free Reading Worksheets provides worksheets in various forms (RTF, PDF, HTM, and PPT) as well as interactive reading lessons in various forms as well (YouTube, Flash, HTM, and PPT).  Created for 7th and 8th graders, they are still adaptable for grades 6-12. 

2.) Exquisite Corpse is a Poetry game where you can submit a sentence to a poem and then you provide how many lines in the poem there is and provide the 2nd persons name and email address for them to submit the second line.  If you want to work in pairs or groups you can easily just supply each other emails and create a poem with each other.  Collaborative Poetry.  You can also view previous submissions by other people.

3.) Current.im is your free and private online journal.  The difference is that each entry is limited to only 140 characters. 

Mathematics
1.) http://url3.tk/graph.tk/ is a website that provides users the ability to input a formula and get a plotted graph.  You can add in multiple formulas or just one.  You can also take a screen shot when you are finished. 

2.) Off-Road Algebra provides 30-segment video resources that  focuses on ninth grade Pre-Algebra and Algebra.  What is different is that it  revolves around the world of off-road motorcycle racing.  Some interesting videos bringing math and the real world together.

3.) Mangahigh provides free math games for various levels of math curriculum.  There are games and quizzes for shapes, algebra, data, and numbers. 

Science
1.) "Scirus is the most comprehensive scientific research tool on the web. With over 410 million scientific items indexed at last count, it allows researchers to search for not only journal content but also scientists' homepages, courseware, pre-print server material, patents and institutional repository and website information."

2.) Middle School Chemistry provides Lesson Plans, Multimedia, and workshops for science teachers.  "Investigate the world of atoms and molecules through hands-on inquiry-based activities and molecular model animations."

3.) "Exploriments are simulation-based interactive learning units for enhancing conceptual understanding in Science and Math in an experiential manner. Useful for students and teachers alike, Exploriments provide a highly interactive, exploratory, and engaging experience."

4.) NBC Learn - Chemistry Now provides videos every week related to chemistry and real life examples of how chemicals impact various aspects of our lives.  Right now you have access to 9 weeks worth of videos.  

5.) Spongelab Biology provides the history of biology by allowing students to play a game.  In the History of Biology game, you, the assistant, are required to navigate through a labyrinth of clues, objects, and internet sites trying to figure out why Dr. Shyre has disappeared. What secret project was he working on? Who might be after him and are they after you too? Hidden amongst the history of biology, Dr. Shyre has left clues and puzzles to unlock the secrets of his most important and controversial research ever 

Social Studies
1.)  Picture History is a website dedicated to providing free primary source historical images.  There are various ways to search for material whether it be through a basic search or by categories, photographers, decade, or anniversary.  These are intended to be purchased to have a hard copy, but you can still search for the images and show them to students in the classroom.  

2.) Best History Sites is a portal for finding websites related to various time periods in history.   A great starting point for discovering resources for the subject matter that you are covering.  Worth looking through. (Source: US History Teachers Blog)

3.) Teaching History is a website dedicated to history teachers.   You will find resources, activities, lessons, and materials for teaching history at all grade levels.  You will also find videos related to various methods for teaching history.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Piazzza - Online Q & A Forum For Classrooms


Primarily advertised for use with higher education, Piazzza is a viable option for replacing other forums and newsgroups to communicate with students.  Its sole purpose is to create a blackboard type area where students and teachers can interact online by asking and answering questions as well as participate in a discussion.  Teachers can easily create classes and add students one by one or in a large group.  The user interface is simplistic and provides an easy method of interaction for students and teachers.

As education moves more and more towards online interactions, a website like Piazzza provides a safe and valuable educational focused method for students and teachers to interact online.  On the software students and teachers can use hashtags to tag popular words or terms of interest.  Students can easily respond to questions and when new questions are asked they will appear in red.  Students can also receive feedback for asking a good question or providing a good answer.

Below you will find an introduction to the software.  When visiting Piazzza you will see several tutorial videos in the lower right side of the website.  I encourage you to watch them so that you can learn more.  I could really see this as a valuable tool for teachers of AP students.

SENDtoREADER


I don't have a Kindle, but you might and so might your students.  SENDtoREADER is a bookmarklet that you can install on mostly all the main browsers out there: Firefox, Safari, Opera, Chrome, Internet Explorer.  You must register for an account to use the service, so I suggest that you do that.  When you use the bookmarklet it will automatically remove all unnecessary content including: ads, polls and banners but leaves the main content intact.

SENDtoREADER "retains all images that are part of the text you send to your Kindle reader so you don’t miss out on seeing them when you have the time to read the material you have saved.   If you have long articles, items you don’t have time to read, or you don’t want to strain your eyes by reading from the computer screen, you can send articles to your Kindle for comfortable, stress-free reading from its legendary e-inc display at your leisure.  You can keep track of every single item you have sent to your Kindle from any other source and can always resend items if necessary. This means you don't have to keep the articles on your Kindle once you have finished with them. This also eliminates the concern that you may have deleted something important."

As textbooks become more mobile, software and applications such as SENDtoREADER will become a valuable addition to reading various sources. 

TinyVox


TinyVox is an iPhone application that allows users to easily link to a recorded audio file to their Twitter, Facebook, and/or Tumblr feed.  If you are using Twitter with your students then TinyVox would be a great way to provide students information via an audio recording.  You could explain a homework assignment or project.  You could easily record an extra credit assignment as well.  Voice reminders work a lot better as well, so you could remind students to study or return a form the following morning.

When you complete your recording you can preview it so that you know it sounds like how you want it.  You can also provide a title for it.  You then easily can send it to your followers on Twitter.  With TinyVox you will be able to easily save your recordings to review later or record several at one time and then send them when you are ready.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

It Isn't Going Anywhere - My 400th Post

Fad, by dictionary definition, is "a temporary fashion, notion, manner of conduct, etc., especially one followed enthusiastically by a group."  There is and always will be fads in education.  Sometimes those fads just take on different names.  When I was in college, it was called "Team Teaching."  Now it is called "Collaboration."  In the 21st Century, collaboration is taking on a whole new meaning.  The idea of being able to collaborate with educators outside your building/district is the newest fad.  Most people will tell you that fads come and go in education.


This fad though; it isn't going anywhere.  Social Networking is here to stay.  Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Diigo, Skype, Mobile Technology, RSS/Blogging, and other forms of collaboration, in my opinion, are here for the long haul.  It is not just a fad.  So, how do we as educators who have embraced this fad, get others to join in and be a part of the "group who enthusiastically follows" this fad?


Recently there was an infographic shared about the number of people who are on LinkedIn, which is a professional social networking site.  There are over 100 Million registered users.  Of those, 997,000 thousand are teachers who use the site to network with other educators.  I have a LinkedIn Profile, but don't use it as often as I probably should.  Linkedin provides valuable "Professional Collaboration"


I have learned that the best way is to get teachers to understand social networking is to help them see it first hand.  I realized that attending a conference where participants and presenters are using Twitter to show connections was a valuable method.  Every teacher who attended a recent conference with me now actively uses Twitter. Some are collaborating with other educators and some are collaborating with their students/parents.  Following that conference, we had a session of PD's at one of the schools that I work at and one of the teachers shared their use of Twitter.  From that session, a few more teachers have started to use Twitter with their classes.  In the future, those teachers will then be able to share their experiences, thus creating a chain reaction.


Twitter is valuable tool for social networking, but it serves so much more of a purpose.  I learned about Elizabeth Taylor and the Earthquake/Tsunami  in Japan from Twitter before hearing anything about it on the news.  I learn so much about educational reform, educational policy, educational technology, and other important aspects of education.  Twitter is "Informational Collaboration."  


I continually encourage teachers to sign up and use Diigo to manage their web based resources.  3 years ago, such a service was not necessary, but with the growth of Web 2.0, the resources for teachers are abundant.  I have created a group for the teachers in my district so that they can follow other teachers and share links with each other through the Internet.  I encourage them to join other groups in the community so that when new resources become available, they can easily find them.  Diigo provides a valuable method of "Resource Collaboration."

Last year I attended a meeting about creating a Social Media AUP for our district due to the growing use by stakeholders in our community.  I mentioned the need to look at having a District Facebook page.  It was turned down because of all the negative publicity, which I completely understood.  Then this year, in another meeting I mentioned it again and shared examples of other districts (some smaller, some larger) who were using Facebook to connect with parents.  From that meeting, our CIO and other faculty created our Disrict Facebook page.  We also created a Twitter account to share the same stories from Facebook.  In about 5 months, our district Facebook page has reached almost 1500 followers, thus allowing our district to collaborate and inform our parents.  Facebook provides "Stakeholder Collaboration."


More and more students, teachers, and administrators are embracing blogging.  There are several hundred thousand educational related blogs out there.  There are several ways that you can find educational blogs just by doing a simple Blog Search, or using the Edublogs Directory.  Even though the majority of this blog is about sharing resources, it provides me a method of personal reflection, while at the same time providing collaboration with other educators about my own ideas.  Blogging provides "Reflective Collaboration"


Skype in Education is becoming a valuable tool for collaboration.  It provides people from all over the globe the opportunity to meet and talk with each other without being in the same location.  Conferences are using Skype to bring presenters in who are to far away to make the trip in person.  The InnovatED Conference coming up has several presentations via Skype; myself included.  There are tons of Skype Resources available for educators to use making it easier to integrate it into the classroom.  I have come to realize just how valuable Skype is for "Distance Collaboration" 

In the past couple years there has been a drastic increase in mobile technology and websites for using cell phones in the classroom.  I recently wrote 10 Tips for Using SMS in the Classroom and I firmly believe that in the coming years the argument around cell phone use in schools will be a thing of the past; because like social networking, cell phones are not a fad that will be going away.  Cell phones provide "Mobile Collaboration"

My question to you is; how are you going to join this latest fad?  What type of collaboration are you and your fellow educators involved in? "Social Collaboration" isn't going anywhere, so how you are going to get involved in this latest fad?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

GroupTweet

I am a big fan of Twitter.  It connects me with educators from all over the globe.  At the same time, several teachers in my district have created Twitter accounts so that they can interact with their students by sharing homework assignments, extra credit, and reminders to name a few.  They were also able to connect with parents who joined Twitter as well. 


Sometimes, the lack of privacy that comes with Twitter can be an issue for teachers, students and parents.  "GroupTweet turns a standard Twitter account into a group communication hub where members can post updates to everyone in the group using direct messages.  When the group account receives a direct message from a group member, GroupTweet converts it into a tweet that all followers can see."  There is a free account with basic options and then a premium account that has some more options to get the most out of the application. 

Woices


Woices is a website and Smartphone (Android and iPhone) Application that allows users to record audio for locations on a map.  When you create an account you locate the area on the map and then you can upload an image of the area on the map and then record audio where you tell about that place.  Woices would be a valuable tool to use for students going on a field trip or for geography teachers to have students tell about landmarks in foreign countries.  You could also have students create Woices for their hometowns where they talk about landmarks and history. 

For more information about Woices, see the video below.

Tadagraph

Tadagraph is a distributed collaboration website through the use of micro-messaging.  The interface looks similar to a Wall on Facebook.  The idea is that groups of people can collaborate on project using the website and assign task to different people.  Tadagraph is more geared towards business in education, but if students are working on a project over a long period of time, this might be a good way for them to stay in contact with each other and share the status of the task that they are working on.  There is a calendar view that allows you to see each task as well as mark them complete.  Tadagraph is currently in beta so you can currently sign up for free, although some premium features will be added later on.

For more information, watch the short video below to see it in action and see several of the features. 

Zendo


Zen.do is a website designed to take your notes and from them directly create flashcards.  From the flashcards you will be able to mark how well you know the information.  What a great concept.  So often it was a pain in college to take notes and then re-write/transfer those notes to index cards.  It was a lot of extra work.  It is a fact for a lot of people that flashcards are a powerful method of studying.

To use Zen.do you must create an account using an email address and then confirm your email address.  You can also login using Facebook or Google.  After that you can create folders related to the lecture notes.  Within the folders will be various notes based on the topic.  Zen.do makes organizing notes a lot easier as well.  Hopefully an App for Smartphones will be coming in the future.  To learn more, watch the video below.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Exploratree - Graphic Organizers

Graphic Organizers are an increasing method of teaching content and concepts.  It allows teachers to easily organize information for students and provides ways for students to be able to make connections within the curriculum.  There are several kinds of Graphic Organizers out there, sometimes it is just finding one that works for you and your students.

Luckily, the site Exploratree does just that.  It provides the ability to view, edit, modify, and print various graphic organizers.  Each graphic organizer allows you the ability to add text, shapes, colors, comments, etc.  So you have complete control over how the graphic organizer looks and works for your classroom.  If you create an account with Exploratree it will allow you to save and store the edits that you make so that they are available if you need to make changes in the future.  An account also allows you the opportunity to create your own from scratch.

Here are several screen shots of the various graphic organizers and editing tool:



For a video tour of Exploratree click here.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Weekly Core Subjects Resources

The end of March is near and the school year is just flying by, yet the resources just keep on coming.  I am still amazed at all that is out there and that is available for teachers.

English
1.) Google Lit Trips is a great way to incorporate Google Earth into the English curriculum.  Have students travel the globe as characters in famous pieces of literature did....for example, The Grapes of Wrath.

2.) From the New York Times comes "Teaching 'The Great Gatsby' with the New York Times"

3.) 50 Great Ways to Use Graphic Novels in the Classroom.

4.) Weboword is a website that allows you to look at vocabulary visually.  The provide images for tons of vocabulary words.  Use the site to provide examples and then have students create their own. See a sample below

Mathematics
1.) From the School of Freebies Blog comes two mathematics related posts: Free Algebra and Trigonometry Related eBooks and Free Mathematics Software.

2.) MathsMaster is a website providing free mathematics related videos and activities for teachers and students. 

3.) Shared with me by another teacher in my district is We Use Math, which is a website that provides information about how math is used in the real world and in various careers.  There is also a section dedicated to providing Resources for Teachers.

4.) Math 2.0 Interest Group is a Wiki for math teachers looking to integrate technology into their classroom. There are a lot of valuable resources on this page.

Science
1.) Science Demos is a website containing videos of science experiments.  There are over 25 videos to choose from. 

2.) Free Technology for Teachers has a great post on Five Periodic Table Games

3.) The Secrets of the Sequence Video Series offers an innovative way for teachers to incorporate astounding advances in the life sciences from gene research into their teaching. With funding from the Pfizer Foundation and the National Academy of Sciences, VCU has assembled 50 of the best videos from the public television series, “Secrets of the Sequence” to assist teachers in the application of genetic research across the biology curriculum.

Social Studies
1.) Free Technology for Teachers shared to social studies resources this past weekend and I direct you there to learn more.  Video on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire and Talking History.

Bonus Electives Resources
1.) Free Online Health Games.

2.) Artfinder - Experience the discovery of art.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Day Made of Glass

Recently I wrote a post about Idea Paint, which is a paint that allows you to paint any wall and make it a whiteboard.  Touting it as not technology, I realized I was wrong because the process to make it required lots of technology. 

Then today I came across an interesting video titled "A Day Made of Glass."  First off...wow!  Then I thought, what about in education?  Would we have walls of glass in the hallway and students could stop to check out a website?  I have always thought that in the future student desks will be a computer and it will be all touch screen enabled.  This video makes me believe that will be possible in the future.

Makes me wonder what type of school and education my grandchildren will have.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

10 Resources for Teaching Reading/Literature with Technology

The growth of the Internet has provided more and more people the ability to read books that normally they would not have access too and has provided valuable tools to assist in learning to read as well.  There are several Text-to-Audio websites that make hearing typed text easier as well as website to make annotating text easier as well.  Hopefully you will find a resource in this list that helps your students read, provides an extension on what you read, or provides ideas to teach reading to your students.

1.) 60 Second Recap is a GREAT resource for Literature classrooms.  The idea behind 60 Second Recap is it provides videos to explain important aspects of the books.  I highly recommend checking out their library to see some of the videos and the books that they offer (Hamlet, Of Mice and Men, Beowulf, Animal Farm, Farenheit 451, etc).  Each 60 second video clip provides some or all of the following: overview, context, plot, characters, theme, motif, symbolism, and conclusion. 

2.) Lit 2 Go is a free collection of MP3 audio books for 1000's of books, stories, and poems.  It might be worth examining to see what they offer in relation to the books that students are reading in your class.  I did see Hamlet.  You can print out the stories or read them online, and while doing so, listen to the text as well.  You can search the database by author, title, reading level, and subject matter.  Another option is Repeat After Us, which was created by a high school student.

3.) ZAP Reader and Spreeder are web based software that allow students to copy and paste material from the Internet and then apply settings to improve their words per minute reading ability.  For students who complain of being slow readers, this software could improve their reading speed. 

4.) Book Lamp is a website that provides readers the opportunity to find books that match their interest and styles.  Think of it is a Pandora for books.  Often times, students say that they can't find a book that interest them, well Book Lamp is an option to help students find books based on other text that they have read that they like. 

5.) I know that in high school we focus more on classical texts then we do on current texts.  If by chance you have a class that is reading more current books, there are several resources of interest.  First is the Skype an Author Network which provides ways to contact authors of books through Skype and then have them "visit" your classroom and discuss the book with them.  There is also the Author Website Listing which provides links to the websites for various authors, thus providing another way to get in contact with them and discuss the book. 

6.) Often times when students are reading a book the come across vocabulary that can be difficult for them to understand or even know the meaning of the word.  Luckily there are several options for learning vocabulary.  Lexipedia provides meanings and synonyms to various words in an web type graphic.  Wordnet provides a dictionary and thesaurus in one. 

7.)  Poetry can often be a troublesome subject not just to know how to write, but also to know how to read.  Poetry 180 provides a poem for each of the 180 days that students are in school.  It provides the poem as well as information about the author and copyright permission.  A great way to study poetry. 

8.) If you have never visited or used the site Shmoop, I highly recommend it.  Shoomp has a Literature section that provides learning guides and teacher resources for 100's of books that students read.  Each book they provide an intro, summary, quotes, themes, characters, analysis, questions, photos, and even assist with writing an essay about the book.  Each book also has a "best of the web" section that provides links to other resources about each book. 

9.) What Should I Read Next provides users the ability to type in a book that they have read and it will then suggest other books based upon the author and the book that the user might be interested in.  You could easily use this in class to discover other books based on what you are reading. 

Saving what I consider to be the best for last....
10.) Google Lit Trips is a site dedicated to the use of Google Earth to "travel" the destinations that are often mentioned or used in books and novels.  Lit Trips are available for K-5, 6-8, 9-12, and Higher Education.  High school level include: The Grapes of Wrath, Night, Macbeth, and The Odyssey to name a few.  You will need to install Google Earth so that when you download the Lit Trips files you have access to what they have to offer.  A different and valuable way to teach literature.  Also provide an idea for ways you might teach a literature lesson.  For more information check out the Getting Started page.

10 Resources for Teaching Writing with Technology

It never ceases to amaze me the available resources on the Internet for teachers.  The next few "10 Resources" post will focus on the English curriculum, so I want to start with writing.  Many English teachers will tell you that technology has damaged writing because students are so reliant on spelling and grammar check that the idea of proof-reading your writing has gone to the wayside.  these resources won't necessarily fix that, but provide other options for writing and proofreading.


1.) Piclits is a website where students can type or choose words to create poems or pieces of writing over an image.  Now, Piclits does not have to be used, but the idea behind using an image to inspire writing or to correlate with writing might be a valuable and different way to engage your students and encourage various forms of writing.

2.) Writing is Fun is a website that provides writing organizers.  Sometimes, the most difficult part about writing is learning how to write, what to write, and when to write it.  These organizers provide examples of each part of the organizers and then allow you to print out blank copies.  So you can easily teach the organizer and then provide a blank copy to your students. 

3.) Sometimes, free writing can be a great way to teach various forms of writing and encourage students to write.  The problem is that students often struggle with what to write; I know I did in high school.  Thankfully, there are a couple websites that can help.  Random Logline Generator will create a random sentence or topic and then students can use that to start their free writing.  There is also Creative Writing Prompts which provides over 300 possible prompts to get students creative juices flowing. 

4.) A great activity for the first day/week of school is to have students write a letter to themselves, or you about their expectations, fears, and joys as it relates to writing or being in your class.  Future Me is a website that provides an easy way for students to do that.  Students log in and type a letter to themselves, provide their email, and a date they want it sent to them.  They will then see their letter on that date. 

5.) A form of writing gaining steam is group writing where students can start a story and then other students work on it and then finish it.  Folding Story is a website that provides that opportunity.  As a teacher you can create a group and allow students to join that group and then start a story.  Allow for students to be creative and require a daily writing by certain students in order to provide a grade.  Another option is a site called Story Join which follows the same concept.

6.) In high school I would tend to write the same words more often than necessary.  Vocab Grabber is a website that allows users to copy and paste some text and then get data about the most useful vocabulary words and showing you how those words are used in context.

7.) Poetry was never my strongest form of writing, and I know that I am not alone.  I always struggled with finding words that rhymed.  I know rhyming is not the most important part of a poem, but for many students, to feel successful writing poetry, they want words to rhyme that make sense.  Luckily there are several resources available.  The Rhyming Dictionary provides synonyms, definitions, homophones, and same consonants. Write Rhymes is another option, but does not provide as much information.  As you type in the words, it will provide a list of words that rhyme.

8.)  Kelly Tenkely is an educator that I follow on Twitter and she has put together 10 Technology Alternatives to the Standard Book Report.  This is a great alternative for students and teachers looking to utilize technology for book report projects.  You could easily provide the list to students since it provides links to the resources and let them choose the one that they want to do.  Takes the guess work out of it.  Also, as part of the project, require students to create a rubric for the assignment so that you have one in the future.

9.) There is a big push for bell to bell instruction and often times, as teachers, we find ourselves looking for something to fill some time when a lesson went quicker then we expected.  Write for Ten is a website dedicated to providing students an area to Write for Ten Minutes.  The idea is simple....just write...about anything...for ten minutes.   You can create an account and like a journal it will log what you wrote each day, and students feel like it, they can share it with visitors to the website.

10.) Poetry and Letter writing are important parts of writing, and through a couple interactives, students can learn about these forms of writing.  Acrostic Poems and Diamante Poems provide an interactive with the steps to the process of learning to write these types of poetry.  At the same time, the Letter Generator is an interactive that provides instructions for the proper way to write a letter.   You could easily incorporate these into your units and have students complete these interactives.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Study Stack and CoboCards

Online Flashcards are becoming a popular method of studying and there is no shortage of options available on the web.  I recently came across two more options for creating, finding, and studying flash cards online.

CoboCards allows uses to create Flashcards online, search through a database of flashcards, and study flashcards using the Leitner Algorithm.  To use the site all you need to do is provide a valid email address.  Cobocards is also available as a Smartphone application.  From the website you are able to study alone or with a group of friends.  You can organize your flashcards by folders and then print them off for studying offline.  You can search through a pool of cards created all ready. 

"StudyStack takes online flashcards to a whole new level. The site automatically creates many other activities based on the data from your flashcards. These activities have two main benefits. The first is that studying won't be so boring. So without even realizing it you'll naturally study more. The second benefit is that by reviewing the data in several different formats, you'll end up memorizing the information better as your brain makes several different connections with the data."

What sets Study Stack apart are the games and activities that are available for studying vocabulary.  There are matching, crossword puzzles, hangman, scrambled word, and bug chase games.  On the front page you will see all the categories of pre-made flashcards.  If Study Stack does not provide you what you are looking for, scroll to the bottom of the page and you will see links to several other flashcard sites.    

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Weekly Core Subjects Resources

Middle of March is upon us which means Spring Break for many of us is about a month away.  I will be spending one night during my Spring Break presenting via Skype at the InnovatED Conference on April 7th which is being held in Memphis.  All of the sessions will be streamed and there are several other great presentations, including Shelly Terrell, Jerry Blumengarten, Russ Goerend, Shannon Miller and others.  Now lets look at some great resources for the subject matter you teach.

English
1.) Daily Writing Tips is a blog that provides visitors a daily tip for help with writing.  You can search through the various categories as well as take some tests.  This could easily be used for a daily assignment in English classrooms to practice various writing.

2.) PoemHunter is a website that provides a directory and search engine for poetry.  A valuable resource to find and share poetry. 

3.) Write Rhymes is a website that as you type provides available words that rhyme with the words that you type.  Another valuable tool for writing poetry. 

4.) Phrays is a site that provides a word-a-day and allows visitors to write a sentence using that word.  Visitors to the site can then vote on the best sentence that was created. 

Mathematics
1.) Virtual Math Tutor is a blog where the author provides a math problem, the steps to the solution, and the solution every day of the week.  The blog creates a bank of solved math problems. 

2.) Maths Zone provides interactives and games for middle and lower secondary grade level math courses.  There are various resources available on this site for math teachers. 

3.) Math Moves U is a website designed to provide middle school students various interactive learning programs, contests, love events, scholarships, tutoring, and more.  A very interesting website for mathematics. 

4.) Wolfram MathWorld is the web's most extensive mathematical resource, provided as a free service to the world's mathematics and internet communities as part of a commitment to education. 

5.) Mathematics Illuminated is a thirteen-part series for adult learners and high school teachers. The series explores major themes in the field of mathematics, from humankind's earliest study of prime numbers, to the cutting-edge mathematics used to reveal the shape of the universe.

6.) Interactive Mathematics is another website that provides lessons, activities, and interactives for all levels of high school mathematics.  

Science
1.) Extreme Science is a website to find the biggest, baddest, and the best in the world of extremes and learn about the science behind what makes each the most extreme example of its kind.  On the site you will find world records in natural science, including earth science and the plant and animal kingdom.


2.) SPACE.com, is the world's No. 1 source for news of astronomy, skywatching, space exploration, commercial spaceflight and related technologies.


3.) Biodiversity Snapshots will help you to learn more about the animals around us every day by combining mobile technology and science. We provide you with a field guide, identification tool and way to record your observations all on a mobile device — your phone, netbook, or tablet. You make the observations and participate as a citizen scientist.


4.) The Molecular Workbench is a free, open-source tool that creates and delivers visual, interactive simulations for teaching and learning science and engineering.


5.) The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research explains the discoveries of scientists at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute through 3D animation.  Intriguing and interesting animations.


6.) NASA Quest Challenges are free web-based, interactive explorations designed to engage students in authentic scientific and engineering processes. The solutions relate to issues encountered daily by NASA personnel.


Social Studies
1.) Congressional Bills and Votes is an interactive from the New York Times that explains the votes, results, and opinions on old and current bills going through Congress.  A valuable tool for Government teachers. (Source: US Government Teachers Blog)

2.) Global Voices is an international community of bloggers who report on blogs and citizen media from around the world.  A great way to get real time information that you won't find on many network television stations. 

3.) Historical Scene Investigations is a website that lets students use primary documents to investigate various events in history from the time period.  As a history teacher, this seems like a promising website. 

4.) QuizGeo allows you to create and play quizzes based on geography using Google Maps. This can include anything from locating all of the countries in the world to locating all of the playground equipment at your local park or school.

5.) Real Military Videos is website that provides videos of real war time footage.  A great primary resource for social studies teachers.  

6.) Rulers is a site that contains lists of heads of state and heads of government of all countries and territories, going back to about 1700 in most cases. Also included are the subdivisions of various countries, as well as a selection of international organizations. Recent foreign ministers of all countries are listed separately.

7.) American Memory provides free and open access through the Internet to written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music that document the American experience.

Performing Arts
Songsterr is a website that provides visitors with the music sheets for popular music so that students can learn to play the popular songs out there.  It also plays it on the music on the web as well so you can hear it at the same time. 

Still not sure how to use Twitter?  Here is a great video by Justin Tarte that he posted on his blog.

Friday, March 11, 2011

IdeaPaint

I realize that this is a technology blog.  I also realize that sometimes, something that is not necessarily technology can change how we teach.  I also went to a public school that did not follow the standard "rules" that you see in several schools today.  We called teachers by their first name, had couches and comfortable chairs in several of our classes, and we did not use a bell system to go from one class to the next.  Very non-traditional, but very rewarding. 

So with that I mention IdeaPaint which is a paint that you can apply to your wall that turns the entire wall into a whiteboard.  Imagine the ability to complete group work and have students present ideas from anywhere in the room and then when finished, just erase it.

IdeaPaint provides a way for teachers to teach from anywhere in the room and can remove the standard desk in rows mentality of teaching.  No more poster boards or using rolls of large paper to have groups present information, they can just go to the wall and start writing.

See the video below for how it started

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Let's Use Video to Reinvent Education

I have shared Khan Academy on this blog before, which is a website containing videos explaining various content from across a lot of the curriculum in schools.  There are over 2200 videos spanning across arithmetic and, science, and history.  There are over 1 million visitors a month watching over 100,000 videos each day.  

Recently, the producer of Khan Academy, Salman Khan did a talk at TED.  This talk was titled: Let's Use Video to Reinvent Education.  You can see the video embedded below.


Albert Einstein said that when video cameras were invented it would end the teaching profession because we could just record teachers teaching and then show the videos in the classroom.  That never happened.  Now with the availability of recording and sharing video could we be going down that path?

Are sites like Khan Academy going to take education down this path?  Or will the idea of flipping how we teach...watch lessons on video at home and do homework in the classroom take off and be a possibility? 

At the end of the video, Bill Gates makes an appearance and states that this is the "Future of Education"  Do you agree or disagree?  

And when he says future of education, which part, teachers being replaced by video lessons or flipping how we teach?

Here is another blog post by the Hack Education blog that I follow discussing some of the same questions I have.

What are your thoughts?

INTEGRATING EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY

I am a guy who likes acronyms, so I thought it would be a good idea to present the INTEGRATING EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY acronym of Web 2.0 Tools.  This might just be what can help prove how much is out there that you can use in the classroom!

I is for iTunes.  A valuable asset for music, books, audio, and video.  If you are not using iTunes in the classroom yet, you are really missing out on a valuable resource.
N is for Notapipe which is a real time, collaborative web based text editor.  Perfect for group assignments
T is for Tagxedo which is a wonderful tool for creating word clouds.
E is for EduTecher which is a website and Smart Phone app for learning about various Web 2.0 tools.
G is for Glogster which is a wonderful digital poster board creation tool for teachers and students.  One of my favorite tools available in the Web 2.0 category.
R is for Resizer.co which is a website that makes resizing images simple and easy.  Great for presentations.
A is for All My Faves which is a website that provides links to the most popular websites in various categories as well as weekly favorites as well.  An easy way to find trending websites.
T is for Todays Meet which is a great option for backchannel chat.
I is for Instapaper which is a valuable tool for saving websites you want to look at later, but might not necessarily want to bookmark it just yet.  Great for articles and student work.
N is for Newspaper Clipping Generator which allows students to create a clipping from a newspaper.  Great for an addition to a project.
G is for Go Animate which provides students and teachers the opportunity to easily create cartoons.

E is for EmbedPlus which provides valuable tools and additions to YouTube videos.
D is for Drag On Tape which allows you to create online video mixes.  An easy way to share multiple videos with students that you want them to watch. 
U is for Urtak which is a simple and easy way to get peoples opinions.  Yes, No, and Don't Care.  Have a project or question you want to ask students?  Here is an easy way to do it.
C is for Cramberry which is an option for creating Online Flash Cards
A is for Animoto which is an easy to use Digital Story Telling Tool with a lot of cool features.
T is for ToonDoo which is a comic strip creation website with plenty of features.
I is for iDroo which is a collaborative whiteboard that you can integrate with your Skype Account.
O is for Online Stopwatch which is a great way to help students manage time on assignments in class or while taking a test.
N is for NextUp which allows you to easily manage the time you spend on instruction in the classroom by providing a countdown for each activity in your daily lesson plans.
A is for Ahead which is a presentation tool similar to Prezi that provides a non-linear presentation creating space.
L is for Link Bunch which provides an easy and simple way to group several URL's together into one URL.  Great for creating links for students working on projects.

T is for Twitter, which is a valuable tool for connecting with students, parents, and other educators.
E is for Express SMART Notebook Software which is a free online version of the Notebook software that comes with SMARTBoards. 
C is for Chartle which allows users the ability to easily create charts and diagrams
H is for History Pin which is a website that allows you to pin history on a map by putting older pictures with current places.
N is for Ning which allows educators to create free social networks.  Great to use with districts, schools, and classrooms.
O is for One True Media which is another great option for Digital Story Telling.
L is for Learn it in 5 which is a website that provides videos for learning about Web 2.0 tools in five minutes.  Several from this list are featured.
O is for One Word which is a site that provides a word and then a space to write a story, essay, poem, or free write about it. 
G is for Go Poll Go which is an option for creating polls online to get opinions from students, parents, the community, or visitors to a web page. 
Y is for YouTube which provides very valuable videos to show in the classroom.  Creative people are sharing creative videos.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Time Warp - Posts from March 2010

IT is always good to look back and reflect on where you have come from and each month I will hope to reflect back on the year before.  This month I bring you some of the best post from March of 2010.

1.) My Best....No Most Influential Teacher is a post where I discuss a teacher who really influenced me and changed how I looked at my own education.  We all have a teacher like that, if not more than one. 

2.) To Follow or Not to Follow...That is the Question - My post examining the increase of Twitter use in schools and districts, also an examination of the Kentucky Commissioner of Education who uses Twitter, but prefers followers over following.

3.) A Few New Web 2.0 Tools that are actually older now, but still worth looking at.  Picaboo is a site to create online photo books.  Preceden is a simple timeline creation tool.  Headmagnet is a flashcard creation tool.  Keepvid is for downloading YouTube.

4.) TextServ - Using your email to send SMS to students.  I added this to my Tools for the 21st Century Teacher: Volume 2 eBook as well because I think it is a great idea.

5.) Think Twice Thursday - Video Games in Education - A post with resources for teaching with video games.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Does Education Lead to Happiness?

An interesting infographic that I thought I would share considering that my blog is about educational technology and the pursuit of happiness when it comes to integrating it.  This is some interesting data.

Click to enlarge or visit the source

SpeakingImage


I am a big fan of fotobabble because of the ability to "talk" about pictures.  SpeakingImage is similar but it is more about annotating images then talking about them.  With each image you can color over parts with free hand or pre-made shapes.  You can draw lines and bookmark specific sections of the image.  You can also insert a text blocks for the bookmarks that you create.  For more information on each part of the software, there are several videos you can watch to learn more.

You could use Paint or some other software, but with SpeakingImage you have the ability to collaborate on an image on the web and discuss the various parts of the image.  You can create groups and wikis to discuss an image.  I could really see this being used in science classrooms and geography classrooms.  You could also use it in a history classroom.  You can see the sample below for the JFK assassination and see all that you can do with this software.

Monday, March 7, 2011

AnswerGarden

AnswerGarden is a website that is intended to allow users to get feedback to a question.  It is very simple to use and requires no sign up.  You enter in a question (limited to about 60 characters) and then select some of your options (unlimited answers, password protection, reminder email) and then click create. 

Once you have done that you will get an embed code that you can add to a website or blog and visitors will get to respond with simple 20 character answers.  You can also share the question on various social networks as well, so it might be a great communication tool for a district/classroom Facebook or Twitter page.Currently in beta is a customization tool which allows you to change the colors for background and text, borders, and size.  When you start to get responses, you can export them and have data about the answers to your question. 

You can see a sample below:


What do you like most about this blog?... at AnswerGarden.ch.

With more and more students creating web pages and online publications, AnswerGarden can provide students an opportunity to get quick and instant feedback.  It might also be a way for teachers to quickly communicate with students their opinions on their publications.  It would also be a very useful tool for students to discuss other students work as well, while working on their vocabulary since it is limited to 20 characters.  

Squareleaf





Squareleaf is another option for creating a whiteboard space for to do notes and post it notes.  It has a very simple user interface for adding notes.  You can easily choose the color for each note and make edits to each note. There are multiple ways that you can organize your information so that it is in a manner that is easy yo read and follow.  You can set a color for each item on your agenda so you can easily tell the difference between your tasks.  To see how Squareleaf works, click here.  See the images below for some examples.




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