Saturday, October 29, 2011

Thinglink - Make Images Interactive


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

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

For more information, see the video below.

A Cleaner Internet

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

WordStash


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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Boxify.me - Simple File Sharing


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

3 New Web 2.0 Resources


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


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


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

Free Rice - End World Hunger


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

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

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

You can follow Free Rice on Facebook as well.

Trello - Organization and Collaboration


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

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

Quixey - App Search


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

CogniFit - Brain Fitness


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

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

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

LiveMinutes - Simple Web Conferencing


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

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

50 FREE GB of Cloud Storage


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

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

For more information, view the video below

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

How have you reflected on your teaching recently?
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