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!

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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.

English
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.

Mathematics
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

Science
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??

An Ed Tech Tip for Administrators - School Twitter Feed

A lot of people in the education world still wonder about Twitter and what it is all about.  They can't quite grasp the concept.  In reality, Twitter is gaining a lot of steam in the social media and education world.  Several educators are using Twitter to connect with other educators.  Teachers are using it to connect with students to provide an avenue of communication for homework assignments, extra credit, and reminders.  It is simple to use and with so many students having access to Smartphones and iPod Touches, it makes sense to use Twitter, which can easily be accessed through an App...for free.

What about using it at the school level?  Most administrators will tell you that visitor statistics to their school website is probably low.  It is a long URL address to provide to parents and sometimes can be hard to navigate for the average user.  Twitter can be the connection you need to bridge the gap between your school webpage and your parents.

The best way to use Twitter is to create an account for your school.  Students, parents, teachers, and community members could follow the school account.  Through this account you could share so much information:   School closings, sports scores, announcements, scheduling changes, etc.  The best part is that the messages are short (140) characters and it takes very little time to sit down and type the message.  Using an App or 3rd Party Software like Tweetdeck, you could easily share stories and links from your school website, thus increasing visitor traffic.

Often it is tough for an administrator to always know everything that is going on and be at every event.  You could easily provide the Username and Password to fellow administrators, Athletic Directors, coaches, and teacher leaders, and make it a collaborative effort to share information with parents and the community.  Therefore the school Twitter account does become a school wide effort. 

More Twitter Resources:
10 Tips for Twitter in the Classroom
So You Are New to Twitter
Twitter Chats


Previous Ed Tech Tip for Administrators Blog Posts

Friday, May 13, 2011

Weekly Core Subjects Resources

I hoped to have these earlier today....but it appeared that Blogger had other ideas!  It was also interesting to view my blog and see post from the previous days missing.....that are still missing by the way.  In case you missed them I wrote about 280 Daily and a couple wikis Wikis: Mobile Learning 4 Special Needs and ICT Magic.  Got to love Technology.

English
1.) 280 Daily as shared above is a online journal that is compatible with mobile browsers that allows users to write daily journals in 280 characters or less.  There are several other features of note, so I recommend checking it out. 

2.) Invitation to World Literature is a website that provides videos of resources for books of literature from around the world.  Source: Free Technology 4 Teachers (Although the Blogger issue has removed it)

3.) Poetry Forms is from the Educational Technology Training Center and provides users with forms for various forms of poetry.  Each form is digital with a text box that you can use to fill in your poem.  Great for students who struggle with poetry.

4.) Reading Worksheets from the Busy Teachers Cafe provides printable reading comprehension, book reports, vocabulary, and other materials for teaching reading. 

Mathematics
1.) Sumdog provides games and activities to improve numeracy skills.  This would be a valuable website for special education students struggling with high school math as well. 

2.) "Math-o-mir is a software tool designed to write and edit mathematical equations as easily as possible. The goal was to achieve the same level of simplicity as with pencil and sheet of paper. It is designed to act as your personal math notepad where you can write down your quick and informal calculations." 

Science
1.) From Scientific American comes Bring Science Home which provides information and procedures for scientific experiments that students can do at home.  There will be a new experiment for each day in the month of May.

2.) LabWrite is a website that provides students a useable interface for writing a lab report from the beginning all the way to submission.

3.) ChemSense studied students' understanding of chemistry and developed software and curriculum to help students investigate chemical systems and express ideas in animated chemical notation. You will find resources for both on the computer and in the classroom.


4.) Science on the Simpsons is a great way to catch your students attention.  It provides video clips and explanations of when science was used in the cartoon.  Each clip provides a description and a time stamp for how long the scene is.  Source: Larry Ferlazzo

5.) Another great link for Virtual Cell Biology Animations.  There are several different animations available from the Big Bang to Mitosis.  

6.) Edheads are interactive scenarios that students can virtually participate in using scientific approaches to solving problems and answering questions.  You will find activities for Forensics, Physics, Technology, and Anatomy.

7.) Human Body Maps provides 3D models of the human bodies; both male and female.  You can click on a part of the body and it will zoom in closer to show you the various aspects of the organ.  Similar to Google Body Browser, but Flash is not needed.  Source: The Whiteboard Blog

8.) Planet Quest and Alien Safari is a website to learn about some of the most rarest organisms in the world.  Source: iLearn Technology Blog


Social Studies 
1.) Real Lives 2010 is a software that you can download or email to get a free copy.  A license for a computer lab or school will cost more.  The software is an educational simulation that allows users to take on the role of a person born in this world from any demographic and then see how they survive through time based on national averages and those characteristics.  Seems promising and interesting.

2.) The National Jukebox
makes historical sound recordings available to the public free of charge. The Jukebox includes recordings from the extraordinary collections of the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation and other contributing libraries and archives. Source: School Library Journal Blog

3.)  Teaching History with Technology is a website that provides lesson plans, activities, projects, games, and quizzes that use technology. Explore inquiry-based lessons, activities, and projects. Learn about new and emerging technologies such as blogs, podcasts, wikis, ipods, and online social networks and explore innovative ways of integrating them into the curriculum. Find out how others are using technology in the classroom.

4.) Medieval Period is a website that provides resources and information about this time period in history.  For AP World History teachers this would be a valuable website.  Source: World History Educators Blog

5.) Political Cartoons in U.S. History is a valuable resource when using them to teach social studies.  It is pretty much a gaurantee that they will be on test, so it is important to provide students chances to interpret them.  Source: U.S. Government Educators Blog


6.) Osama Bin Laden is dead and of course with that comes Politcal Cartoons...and some good ones I might add. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

YouTube Movies


YouTube is now offering visitors the ability to rent movies from their website directly.  They are trying to compete with Netflix and Hulu and I can't say I blame them.  There is a huge demand for streaming movies.  The benefit of YouTube Movies is that they are also offering several free movies as well.

To access the free movies, visit YouTube Movies and then at the top of the screen you will see an "All Categories" drop down menu.  If you click on that you will see "Free Movies" to the left.  Click on that and then you will see all the free movies organized by categories (DISCLAIMER: It is important to note that several of the free movie selections are completely inappropriate for school, but I did not want to ignore sharing these resources because of that.)  Since the movies are free, there is an advertisement before the movie shows.  However, you can still use sites like Safeshare.tv and ViewPure and it will start the movies without the ads (Hopefully YouTube doesn't create a fix for this!)

I tried to use one of the sites that lets you download YouTube Videos...but there was no success.

There are several great movies for education that are free, especially in the Documentary and Biography section.  Otherwise, here are a few examples of movies that are available:


Supersize Me
Down From The Mount
The Patriot
Home
The Battle of Britain
Fuel
To Kill a Mockingbird
21 (For you Math Teachers)
First Orbit

Thanks to Edudemic for sharing this with me.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

So You Are New To Twitter...Part II

 
I have been on Twitter for about a year and a half.  In that time frame I have picked up over 2000 followers and followed over 1300.  With a change in position coming next year, I decided it was time to organize those 1300 into lists so that I could easily see what people were saying related to subject matter or specialty.  I made a mistake in thinking that would be a simple and quick task. 

So here is my suggestion to those of you that are new to Twitter and starting to buy into the process of a PLN.  CREATE YOUR LIST NOW!!!  Even if you are not following someone to include in a list, you will.  I created about 15 list.  I have some for subject matter, some for administrators, some for educational technology, etc.  It took a lot of time to put people into those list.  My PLN life will be so much easier now that I have done that. 

Another reason that I did this is that I wanted to be able to easily see some of the latest Tweets from people I follow that are not involved in education.  I also wanted a way to easily follow some of my favorite educators on Twitter

You can see my original "So You Are New to Twitter" post HERE

Monday, May 9, 2011

Syncdocs


There is a movement in education for schools and districts to use Google Docs.  For many teachers, the thoughts of moving from one software to another can be a daunting task.  Syncdocs is a free software download that makes it easy for users to transfer files from your desktop into Google Docs.  Simply select a folder on your PC, like “My Documents”, and Syncdocs copies it online and across all your computers, automatically. This folder is then kept in sync.  All file formats are preserved and so is the folder structure.  There’s no complex interface to learn because Google Docs is mapped as a network G-drive and your files are synced automatically.  For more features, click here.

For more information, watch the video below:

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Weekly Core Subject Resources

First set of Core Subject Resources for the month of May.  The home stretch to summer time.  Hoping for a good two week dry spell at some point so I can get out on the golf course.  My area received anywhere from 15-20 inches of rain the past two weeks.  To put that into perspective, that is 600% above normal.  On to the resources.

English
1.) Global Poetry is a wiki created by an English class to help log favorite poetry from all over the world.  You will notice the pages are organized by country, so add yours or share a favorite if your country is already listed. 

2.) Wolty is a simple Language Notebook for you and your friends to post your notes and help each other.  You can sign in with Facebook or create an account.  Wolty aims to get you into the habit of saving the things you discover and the questions you wonder along with this meaningful context.  An interesting concept. 

3.) InstaBlogg is a simple blogging platform that requires nothing but starting your blog with a post and then sharing it with others.  For more information, check out the post at Free Technology 4 Teachers

4.) 10 Free Online Spell Checkers - We all know that most document based software comes with their own spell check, but with more web publishing, these could come in handy. 

5.) Topicmarks summarizes text documents for you electronically.  Get a smart synopsis in minutes instead of reading everything yourself.  You can condense any text into an abstract, extract facts, connect texts, and outline and summarize your text.  It is currently free, although there is a process in the future to start charging for the feature.  

Mathematics
1.) nrich: Mathematics Enrichments is a website where you will find thousands of our free mathematics enrichment materials (problems, articles and games) for teachers and learners from ages 5 to 19 years. All the resources are designed to develop subject knowledge, problem-solving and mathematical thinking skills.  Source: EDge21 Blog

Science
1.)  Virtual Volcano explores the explosion at Pompeli.  A valuable resource for explaining the powerful forces behind these wonders. 

2.) Dynamic Periodic Table is a completely interactive Periodic Table of Elements for the Chemistry classroom.  You get information, data, and images for all the elements.  Great for teachers with an Airliner or SMARTBoard in the classroom.

3.) Body Spectrum provides digital coloring books for learning about anatomy.  There are 12 different coloring books that you can use.  Another valuable resource for teachers with an Airliner or SMARTBoard.

4.) Moon Zoo is a website that goes above and beyond to help visitors explore the moon and the lunar surfaces.  For more information check out the iLearn Technology Post

5.) WeatherSpark is a new type of weather website, with interactive weather graphs that allow you to pan and zoom through the entire history of any weather station on earth. For more information, check out Free Technology for Teachers

6.) Eyes on Earth is a website for viewing the Earth through various telescopes and also for gathering data and seeing how the Earth is changing.  For more information, check out the iLearn Technology Post

7.) Photopic Sky Survey is like the Google Earth of our Universe.  Zoom in and pan around the universe like never before.  A fun way to see just how tiny we are here on Earth.  Information for planets and other aspects of the solar system are clickable to information from Wikipedia. 

8.) Harvard Natural Science Lecture Demonstrations provides information and videos into several experiments related to science.  Demonstrations are divided into different areas of science.  I also recommend checking out their NatSciDemo's YouTube Channel.

Social Studies
1.) American Historical Association has put together a list of 100 films reviewed by Historians.  A good glimpse into what historians think are accurate portrayals in films.  For more information, check out the U.S. History Educators Blog.

2.) EconStories.tv is a website that provides videos explaining the differences in the theories of two famous economists.  There are also music videos and can be humorous and entertaining for studying Economic concepts.  For more information, check out Free Technology for Teachers.


3.) Where Do You Fit is a new 2011 Pew Research survey to help determine your political typology.  It breaks it down into multiple categories between Liberal and Conservative.  This is the most complete Political spectrum survey I have seen.  Great resource for government teachers. 

4.) Ingenious is a website that helps to bring together images and viewpoints to help create insights into science and culture.  You can read articles, debate topics, view images, and create your own account to a have your own personalized links, images, e-cards, and web galleries. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

More Prezi Updates


Prezi continues to add updates to their software and each update provides more flexibility and options when using this presentation tool.  I have written about different ways to use the application and you can see previous posts here.  Here are some of the changes:

1.) Image cropping - Prezi now provides the ability to crop a photo within the Prezi software.  No more editing a photo before uploading it.  You can do that within the program.

2.) Arrows and Lines - You can now bend arrows and lines to make them curve providing more functionality with them.  Once you draw the line you can also re-size them.  You used to be able to make them bigger or smaller in terms of zooming, but now you can make them short or longer after the fact.

To see these changes in action, check out the video below:


Something else cool that Prezi is messing around with is the ability to use motion capture (Like the XBox Kinect) to manipulate and move the presentation just by moving your hands.  Talk about a completely interactive presentation!  They are also working on a remote control app for your iPad.  If you ask me, Prezi has evolved and continues to evolve so much more than PowerPoint ever did. 

You can read more about the cool things mentioned above here: Prezi Blog Post

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Online Filter Bubbles

Came across the following video on Twitter about an algorithm that creates a filter bubble around us as we use and search the Internet and influences our search results and what gets through these "filters."  As educators, it is this type of information that we need to be sharing with our students and discussing impacts on news, education, politics, and the future.  I HIGHLY RECOMMEND WATCHING THIS!!!

An EdTech Tip for Adminstrators

To Use Facebook or To Not Use Facebook...That is the Question.....

In continuing with my EdTech Tip for Administrators posts I share with you an important and potentially essential method of communication with parents, students, and the community.  More and more students and parents are joining and using Facebook.  They are there, and you and your school should be too.  For some, the idea of Facebook use by their schools brings a smile from ear to ear; the thought of providing an avenue of communication for parents.  For others it brings thoughts of a fear of the unknown.  How will it be perceived?  How will parents react to certain stories?  What if they voice their opinion and....complain?

As an administrator, would it not be beneficial to know what your parents are thinking; outside of the parent who calls and stops by the office?  Wouldn't you like a place where parents can get a flow of updates of the GREAT things that your students and teachers are doing?  Sure, you could create a newsletter and mail those out every week or month...but why spend the money on postage?

Facebook provides a valuable and free resource.  Parents and students are using it.  Our district recently created a Facebook page and since it was created we have averaged 300 "Likes" a month.  With snow days and flood days, it has been pivotal in relaying information and allowing parents and students to voice opinions and vent frustrations, while at the same time allowing the district to clarify and answer parent questions that might not be mentioned on the radio, TV news ticker, or phone call.

We have also been able to share some of the great accomplishments of our students, teachers, and schools.  Whether it is a simple "Look what __________ School is doing" or "_____________ student/teacher wins __________ Award;" we were able to share those stories that often get left out of the newspaper and TV news. 

Facebook use does not just have to be for sharing news.  It can also be for sharing resources that parents and students could use.  Information about Social Media and Cyberbullying would be a valuable asset to so many parents.  Share links to information about using a computer or web 2.0 tools that students could use for a project.  In a way you would be using Facebook to teach parents and students about using Facebook AND the Internet.  

Want some more information?  Take a look at these articles and resources:

- How Schools Can Use Facebook to Create an Online Community - From Mashable, Provides several ideas for how to use Facebook. 

- From the American Association of School Administrators (Who also has a Facebook Page) comes the article: Is Facebook a 'Friend' to Schools?  Provides both positives and negatives about Facebook for school use.

- "Principals and Social Networking" is a valuable report worth looking at if interested in starting Social Media use at your school or district. 

More Information About My District's Facebook Page
1.) We synced it with a Twitter account for those students and parents that use Twitter, but not Facebook so that they could still get the information
2.) We made it where people who "Like" the page can comment, but cannot create their own posts.  This helps to alleviate spam and non-educational posts that might appear from people
3.) We made the settings where the comments only showed if you clicked on "Read Comments"
4.) We have multiple district employees who post news and information and communicate who does what in relation to that.
5.) We created an email account specifically for creating social media accounts (Twitter and Facebook) so that none of the district employees were using their email to create the page.

Any Questions?

Teux Deux


Teux Deux is a free simple and easy to use web-based To Do website and iPhone Application.You can view events by week and skip forward by day, week, or go to a specific date using the calendar method.  Editing events is as simple as dragging and dropping content from the list to the editing text box and pressing enter.  Another great feature is "Someday" which allows you to create events or important things that you want to complete sooner or later.  They can be organized by category.  Great for students who struggle to keep track of things they have to get done later on in a school year.

For students Teux Deux is a simple application that they can use to organize classwork, homework, study time, etc.  Students could easily use this application to help organize their life and day.  Teachers could use this application to make lesson plans or keep track of meetings and other events.  See the video below for more information


TeuxDeux Part Deux from TeuxDeux on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

College Packing List

Graduation is just around the corner for high school seniors and for many will be the next step of going to college.  Getting ready for college can be a nerve wracking experience, especially for parents.  Sometimes the thought of finally being on your own can be a difficult thought to manage.  How do you know what all you will NEED for your first year??  I remember packing and going to college and realizing I was missing a lot of necessities...like a phone and an alarm clock.  Luckily, there is a website that will help future college students create a College Packing List.


With College Packing List, students will get two list.  One will be what you need to pack and the other will be a shopping list.  The packing list has already customizable items that the site thinks you will need.  You can easily save, print, and share your list with family and friends through Facebook and other avenues.  If something is not on the list that you are packing or shopping for you can easily add it.  An additional feature is the ability to search Slugbooks for used and new college textbooks.

If you teach seniors, share this website with them and their parents.  I recommend sharing the link with your guidance counselor's as well. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Most Popular Posts - April

Another month has gone by, summer is just around the corner.  Here are the top posts from April:

1.) An EdTech Tip for Administrators - Read Some Blogs!!! - My suggestion to administrators to subscribe to some excellent blogs that administrators are writing.

2.) 3 Essential Windows 7 Tools - Did this for some schools in my district, thought I would share here as well.

3.) No More FLIP Across the Curriculum - My reaction and alternatives to the discontinued manufacturing of FLIP Cameras.

4.) An EdTech Tip for Administrators - Wallwisher - How to use Wallwisher with your faculty and staff.

5.) 10 Wikis Worth Checking Out - Written March 30th, but received hundreds of visits, so I thought I could still share it since it was written so close to the end of the month.

HippoCampus - Online Learning Supplement


"HippoCampus is a project of the Monterey Institute for Technology and Education (MITE). The goal of HippoCampus is to provide high-quality, multimedia content on general education subjects to high school and college students free of charge."

HippoCampus would be a valuable addition to a classroom or for students who are interested in taking their learning a step further.  Teachers can use the site as a supplement to their teaching or create a Custom HippCampus page for their students.   Several screenshots are available to showcase what the website looks like and how students can interact with the software. There are several valuable lessons free of charge for teachers.  I could see this being used on days that teachers had a substitute teacher as well.

Check it out and see if any of your classes are available.

BrainCog - Online Assessments


BrainCog is a free online assessment website.  Educators can create a free account during the Beta testing period and you will have access to a dashboard that allows you to test students online.  When you sign up you provide all the usual information.  The difference is you also create a specific BrainCog URL that students will use to access the assessments.  A confirmation email is required for registration.

With each assessment you will be provided reports so that you can see student progress.  Assessments are limited to multiple choice, but each test can also be a timed test, which is important for ACT and AP test preparation.  You can easily import student rosters into the site as well.  For each test you provide an intro message, a fail message, a pass message, and an email reminder.  Several valuable tools that would be worth trying with students to see how the program could work in your classroom.

BrainCog is worth signing up for while it is still in Beta. 

Conovate - Changing the Way We Learn






"Conovate is a platform for real-time assessment, analysis and reporting of student performance by skill and over time. Our free teaching tools are easy to use, reduce paperwork, and can be used to supplement and assess learning in and out of class, providing instant access to student progress for individualized instruction."  It is provided on an Open Source Platform, so it will be free for teachers, students, and schools.  It is currently in Beta, so you would have to sign up to be added to a list. 

Through Conovate, teachers can create quizzes and students can take them online or they can be printed off and copied.  Since it is like a community, teachers can find questions that other teachers have created.  The benefit will be that it allows teachers to track student responses and gauge the time they spend on each question (if they do them online I assume), therefore learning where students are struggling, and then provide intervention. 

To learn a little more visit their main site and see the features available for teachers and parents.  There is also a Prezi that explains what they intend for the website to do.  It will be interesting to see what becomes of this Conovate.  Teaching AP next year, I could see this being used to see where students stand. 

FlipSnack


FlipSnack is a simple web-based tool that allows users to turn a PDF file into a magazine style document.  Signing up for an account is required and it does require authentication within 15 days, but you don't have to do that to upload and create a Flip Book.  To add a file you can upload it, drag and drop, or add it through a URL.  Each document is limited to 500 pages (If I ever have something that long, it will be published, not uploaded here though!)

If students are working on a project, this would be a great way to prepare it and share it with teachers and students.  It can easily be embedded to a blog or website as well.  When you create your flip book you have the option of four different styles.  You can choose the size, background color, etc.  The premium version allows download and embedding without a watermark.  You can see a sample of one of my PDF's below.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

All Things Art Related

This post is being provided by Eric Crabtree, a guest author.  I teach art at Hopkins County Central High School and have been given the opportunity to share with you my views on how technology and art can work together.

The web is full of art related resources.  Listed below is a small sampling of the websites, blogs,  and twitter feeds I use on a daily basis to help aid in my students' artistic experience.

Artist of the Day
Everyday a new artist is provided a small spotlight on their work.  This is a great way to find artists from all over the world.  Check it out on the web at: http://artistaday.com  and follow them on twitter at: http://twitter.com/#!/artistaday. 


20X200 
Jen Bekman has taken her passion for supporting emerging artists and made their art available for everyone on the web.  Here you can find limited edition prints for low prices.  Each week at least two new editions are added in three to four sizes.  In the beginning the smallest size was reprinted in an edition of 200 and sold for $20. Hence the name 20x200.  Sometimes the original artwork is also available.  Check them out on the web at: http://www.20x200.com, twitter at: http://twitter.com/#!/20x200, and follow their blog at: http://twitter.com/#!/20x200.


Behance
The Behance Network acts similarly to a social network site, but caters to creative professionals.  Members create a portfolio to showcase their work where creative companies, recruiters, editors, and more can find incredible work and talent to hire.  I am not a Behance member, but I am considering it.  Check out what Behance Network has to offer at: http://www.behance.net/ or follow on twitter at: http://twitter.com/#!/Behance.

Design Observer
Here one can find many sources for art and design.  Design Observer has many established ways to stay connected.  You may subscribe via email or blog, follow on twitter and facebook, or use their free iphone app.

Every Person in New York
Jason Polan is attempting to draw every person in New York.  If you follow his blog at: http://everypersoninnewyork.blogspot.com/ you can monitor his progress.  His contour drawings are great! It might also be worth mentioning that West Elm sells some of his art as well. 


Rachel is a Dreamer 
Rachel DeJohn quotes John Lennon in her bio: "Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will live as one."  As an outsider who has never met Rachel, I would say she is doing a great job living an art dream.  You can find her at http://rachellovespeace.blogspot.com.

Chicken Nugget Lemon Tooty
At http://isaacgracelily.blogspot.com a father post his four childrens' artwork.  A student sent me a link of a family project that peaked my interest in following this artistic journey.  Here is a link to that post: http://isaacgracelily.blogspot.com/2011/03/rock-on.html

Many of these resources also have facebook pages, but I do not use them because of restricted access at school.

I hope to be back soon with more art resources.

Crabtree
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