Thursday, May 31, 2012

9 Simple Website Creation Options

Over the course of the growth of the World Wide Web there has been an increase in all types of websites.  One of those are websites that allow you to copy and paste or type in text and then share a custom URL with people.  I have had to use a site like this myself for Master's classes, so there are applications in education.  Here are several options below.


Kl1p is your one stop online notepad that makes it easy to copy and paste or write text to the web.  You can create a custom URL as well.  There is a Chrome extension as well.  Each "Clip" creates a custom QR Code as well which would be beneficial for doing a scavenger hunt in the classroom.  You can also upload documents and pictures to the "Clip" as well.


PageOrama is another option that has a simple URL creation, text box for typing, an emailing option to make future edits and security code as well.


shortText is a little different.  It does offer Chrome and Firefox extensions.  It allows users to Link an Image or Video, Use Rich Text, make private, and customize colors/schemes.  Users can also visitors to post comments as well.  It does not allow custom URL however and when you do click on the link there are ads to deal with as well. 


WePaste is your very own Internet Clipboard.  You provide a URL and once you have done that, you are provided with your text box.  One difference that I did notice is that users have the ability to determine how many days till the page expires.  You can choose the number of days you want your page to be available.  this service is limited to just text, so don't expect a ton of features.  You can save it and password protect your page as well.


Jottit is another solution for posting information online with a generated URL.  No text editor option, just a simple text box for copy and paste or typing.





PageEasy is another simple option for creating simple webpages.  Choose the page name, choose the title, copy HTML code, and type in your text.  You can sign up for an account and manage all your pages which is nice if that is an option that you or your students would be needing.  Here is a sample.





CopyTaste provides users the ability to create an account (if necessary) to track user created websites.  You can choose various types of pages such as an image, text, videos, or URL.  You can allow comments and you can also make it private if necessary.  Similar to others.  I will warn you that throughout the website there are links to recently created pages which could include inappropriate content




Pen.io is another option for creating a webpage in a simple way.  You choose a custom URL and a password (for editing purposes).  With Pen.io you have the ability to add tags to the webpage.  You can also choose a theme for your page.  Some of the options include the ability to images, videos, YouTube, and advertisements.  There is also the option to embed your page as well. 

Disposable Web Page is another option that provides you 90 days or less (you decide) with a webpage that you can use to share information for a short period of time. 

In the age of creating and publishing that many state education departments are requiring of students.  Simple web site creation such as these provide that ability. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Google Search Education

I just recently discovered this new opportunity provided by Google that provides lesson plans, activities, and live trainings on how to use Google Search correctly.  Using Google has become a crutch for so many students in finding the answers that they need.  It has become both a positive and negative influence in education.  If used correctly, it can be a great tool for students and teachers.  If used incorrectly, it fosters laziness and a lack of understanding in what is a quality website.  

If you are looking for opening week lessons, this would probably be a great starting point.  Each lesson and activity is divided into "Beginner," "Intermediate," and "Advanced."  There are also "Google-A-Day" activities as well that are broken down by subject matter.

You can see the video below that offers more information.

Leap Motion


Have you seen this floating around Twitter and other social media?  Leap Motion is a new technology that allows you to use your hands and fingers in various motions to manipulate your computer screen?  The future of technology and the impact on education is going to be tremendous over the next couple decades.  It seems every time a new tool or software becomes available, there is the immediate question: "How can this be used in Education?"

Leap is taking the SMARTBoard interaction to a different level all together.  It takes "hands-on" and technology to a whole new meaning.  Of course, it is just the next new thing and who knows the implication that it COULD have on the classroom, but thinking about how students will actually be involved in using the computer in a different way is interesting.

See the video below.


A 27" iMac is probably a good purchase if Leap Motion gets popular

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

10 Tips for Summer Break for New Teachers

When people want to complain about teachers having summers off, we always say, "just walk a day in my shoes."  Now that your first year of school is behind you and your first official summer break is upon you, here are some helpful tips for your first teacher summer break.

1.) While it is fresh on your mind, sit back, relax....and then reflect on the year.  What could you do differently?  What are you going to do the same?  Reflection is the best type of growth for teachers because it allows us the opportunity to critique ourselves.  Make a list of top 5 things to keep and change and put them somewhere for you to look back on next school year.

2.) Use this summer to grow as a teacher.  Connect with other teachers using Twitter, or educational sites like TeachHUB or Edutopia.  There are also several social networks created for teachers that you can find as well; like Classroom 2.0.

3.) Start a reading list of blogs to follow.  This is one of the best ways to discover teachers who blog and share tons of resources and tools.  The best starting point is the Edublog Awards.  You can search through the nominations and the winners from previous years and there are categories for every teacher at every grade level.  This is also a great place to find examples of classroom or student blogs if that is something you are thinking of doing in the future.  Google Reader is a good starting point for organizing these blogs. 

4.) Choose a few tools to use with your students next school year.  There are hundreds of Web 2.0 tools that teachers can integrate into the classroom.  It can often times be overwhelming.  Just pick a few that you think enhances your teaching and fosters learning with your students.  Don't pick one just to be using it so you can say you used it.  Choose one with a plan and a purpose for implementing it in the classroom.  I have created a Couple eBooks (Tools for the 21st Century Teacher 1st Edition and 2nd Edition) to help get you started that you might be interested in.  Here is another Web 2.0 Tools for Teachers that you might be interested in as well.  Another option is 35 Tools by Edudemic. Just remember, it is not about the tool...it is about the teacher integrating that tool.

5.) Attend a Conference related to your subject matter or technology integration.  Conferences for your subject matter will probably cost money to attend.  Technology conferences, however, are being held all over the country and are completely free to attend.  You can find a list of EdCamp Conferences through their Wiki that includes dates and locations.  Another option are TeachMeet Conferences.  These gained popularity overseas and have made their way to the United States.  The whole idea behind these conferences is providing relevant professional development that teachers want to be a part of.  They are often catered to the attendees, not the presenters. 

6.) Start collecting and organizing resources that you never had time to look at throughout the first year of your teaching because of all the other requirements of being a teacher.  I prefer to use Diigo to store and track resources that I find on the web.  Here are 13 Reasons teachers Should Use Diigo that is a great starting point for any teacher.

7.) Summer time can be a great time to register for free supplies and stuff for the classroom; because time is limited during the school year to take time to do that.  A valuable blog to bookmark in your Google Reader is Penniless Teacher.  Daily post sharing links to websites offering sweepstakes for teachers needing supplies, books, technology, etc.  It never hurts to try and get free stuff.

8.) Organize your email.  As educators we are bombarded by emails throughout the day.  After a year, you have probably learned who sends junk and who sends important email.  Most email services provide ways to create and organize folders.  Several email services also come with the ability to create rules for emails where you can have emails from certain people sent to folders instead of your inbox...or even delete them before seeing them.  If you use Microsoft Office Outlook WebApp, see HERE for instructions.  For GMail, see HERE.  If you use another service, a simple Google search or the "Help" file will help you learn how.  Some email services might call this "Filters."

9.) Organize and Create Calendars.  In correlation with number 8 above, your calendar can often be the most important tool you ever use.  If you are not currently using a calendar through your email provider, it is highly recommended.  It has truly helped me in the past two years once I realized what I was able to do with categories, creating calendars, syncing to my iPhone, and color coding various responsibilities, it made my life a lot easier.  It could be very important to you learn how to use the calendar features in Outlook and Google.

10.)  Investigate how to use resources to better communicate with students, parents, and the community.  I used Facebook, Twitter, and a Blog this school year with marginal success.  I did not require any use by students, but had several parents share that they were happy I provided this opportunity for them to learn what we were doing in the classroom.  I also uploaded all the work that we did in class onto my classroom webpage so that students had access to them if they were absent or sick.  The summer time is a great time to plan how to use these services to better communicate with your students. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Doodle 4 Google

The results are in for this years version of the Doodle 4 Google Contest.  I am a big fan of this contest for many reasons, but I think it brings a great chance for students to showcase their artistic skills and allow those students skills to be shown to hundreds of millions of people.  Winners are divided by state and grade level.  The theme for this years contest was (as you can see in the image above) "If I could travel in time, I'd visit...."

There are a lot of great ideas and versions.  I could not imagine being a judge in charge of picking just one.  I recommend viewing these and sharing them with your students.  It might spark some of their own inspiration. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Core Subject Resources

Just a little under a year since I last did a post featuring core subject resources, but that is what two kids and going back into the classroom can do to the time you have available for "other stuff."  Some of these might be old, or shared elsewhere, but I wanted to go ahead and share some of the ones that were added to my Diigo library recently.

English
Just Free Books is a website that provides a search engine to find free eBooks.  It will search through 700 websites.  More and more students and teachers are carrying eReaders.  This would be a good way to provide them books for your class.

Readilicious is a wiki dedicated to providing resources for helping elementary teachers implement various reading activities.

Qwickstory and Zopler are websites for Collaborative Story Telling. 

Memrise is a website for helping students learn vocabulary and create a memorable dictionary.  It is a free way for students to increase their vocabulary in English and several other languages.

Timehop is a website for writing about each day of the year and then in a year, it will email you that journal entry so you can relive your life from a year ago.  You do have to login with Facebook however.

Math
Hooda Math is website that provides games, tutorials, and movies related to math.  Many of the tutorials are for 3rd-8th grade.  If you have a SMARTBoard, this website would be a handy addition.

Mudd Math Fun Facts is a website dedicated to providing facts about numbers and symbols related to math.  There are currently over 200 Fun Fact files available for your choosing.

Math Worksheets provides handouts related to various math concepts for various grade levels.  Look here before creating your own and save some time.

Science
Online Labs provides online resources for Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Anatomy, Geology, and Astronomy.  The resources have a short description and also tell the level they would be appropriate for.

Science Courseware is a virtual courseware project that produces interactive, online simulations for the life science laboratory or for earth science field studies.  The activities are designed to enhance an existing curriculum and include online assessments. They can be used by students ranging from middle school, high school, or college classrooms.

HTwins is a website dedicated to providing interactives and videos related to science.  These would be great introductions to content in your classroom.

Planet Size Comparison is just what is says it is.  Pick two planets from a drop down menu and get the diameter and ratio of the relationship between the two planets.

Science TV is a website dedicated to providing videos, workshops, and other tools for the science classrooms.  There is also a section with tips and tricks for creating your own science videos.

Project Noah is a website dedicated to creating citizen scientist.  The idea is to document nature with a mobile phone and therefore help scientist with research.  You can view maps related to nature and get assistance with using the site in education. 

Label the Cells is an interactive where students get the opportunity to label the parts of a cell.  It comes from a website called Curriculum Bits which provides free online interactive teaching resources. 

QuickStarts are demonstrations that teachers and/or students can perform in a science classroom.  You can search by topic, grade level, or curriculum strand.

Social Studies
Weaving History is a website dedicated to creating threads about places, people, and events throughout history and then visualize the time period in a unique way.  

Animaps is a website dedicated to creation informative animated maps for free.  Basically the service extends Google Maps by letting you create markers that move, images and text that pop up on cue,and lines and shapes that change over time.  When finished, the map works like a video with video display options.

World Time Buddy is a website that helps users easily convert time zones for different parts of the planet.  Useful for geography teachers trying to teach the concept.

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History has a website that provides information and resources about history from various origins and time periods.  There is also information for teachers and even a subscription available to their History Now Journal.  Teachers can sign up for free and become an "Affiliate"

Dave's Redistricting is an interactive that allows users to draw congressional districts the way you think they should be.  Very interesting tool for government teachers.

World History Sources is dedicated to helping students and teachers better use primary documents and historical evidence in the classroom.  There are several case studies that teachers could use in the classroom.

D-Day to Victory is an interactive website that coincides with the TV Series on History Television that aired in November of 2011.  There is a lot to explore and tons of primary resources and interviews with soldiers.  Worth time checking out.

Games Economists Play is a collection of Non-computerized classroom games for college economics.  You can certainly take some of these games and tone them down for high school classrooms.  There are over 150 to choose from and investigate.

Time Maps provides visual maps for all periods of time till 2005.  Each map is clickable to further resources and information.  A valuable resource for teaching geography and history.

History Engine is an educational tool that allows students the opportunity to learn history by doing the work (researching, writing, and publishing) of a historian.  This collection is growing and previous work can be searched.  You do have to obtain a code to join the program, but you can still search through what has already been done before. 

iPhone App for Remind 101


I have been a supporter of Remind 101 since I discovered it earlier this year.  I have been using it with my students throughout this school year and I have shared it with my teachers and other teachers at conferences.  See a previous blog post HERE.

Well, Remind 101 has come with an update by providing an iPhone App for its users.  This will make it so much easier to send reminders to students.  You can see more about the App HERE.  I am sure that with success of this App, we will see it grow to other services like Android and to the iPad as well.


TED-Ed


A while back I posted about using TED Talks in Education.  Then, today I came across a new website that TED announced earlier in the year (around March) TED-Ed where teachers can search through the TED talks and find videos by subject matter.  You can also find videos that are featured and part of a series.  Each video comes with multiple choice questions and a constructed response option.  TED, is just trying to appease those in charge of education that think this is the best way to show learning.  The TeachPaperless Blog as an interesting take on this service, and I agree with a lot that he says.

When I originally shared using TED Talks in the classroom, the main focus was to provide further evidence of the content I was teaching and to spark discussion related to the content.  Showing a video and then answering questions about the video does not really "show" learning.  Taking that video, discussing the video, then having students create their own "Talks" does.  Could you imagine the impact of a school having their own version of Talks related to issues you are teaching or in the community.  This is taking the education of students to the next level.

You can watch the video below about TED-Ed.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Twimbow


As a golf coach when organizing my teams and players for invitationals I would host, I would always color coordinate players by teams and then by scores.  It made it easy for me to see whether I had players from the same team in the same "flights."  Well the goal of Twimbow is to make your twitterfeed colorful while also providing some other helpful features for reading Twitter feeds.

With the colors you can filter groups of users, catch important tweets, and distinguish between the different types of messages that appear in a feed.   Color coded tweets are broken down into Retweets, Mentions, Direct Messages (to and from), favorites, etc. There are specialized areas for grouping lists by color and then a Monitor area for keeping track of keywords, users, tags, lists, etc.

One interesting feature is that certain tags are replaced with images, making those tags stick out more.   Users can customize and create new labels that are color-coded for different purposes.  You can easily preview any image or videos within the browser, therefore negating the need to open a new window.  If you are into sharing music, Twimbow provides an easy way to share music videos and music files that open within the browser as well.

Now, one of the neatest features that I have seen so far is a Reader.  This feature allows users to read almost any content on the web by removing any other visual distractions from online articles.  No ads, no annoying stuff, just content.  You can easily save the blog post to Instapaper or Read It Later

Here is their channel on YouTube to see a few short clips that showcase the software in action.  It is important to note that this service is still in Beta.

For more information, here is a video featuring the CEO as he discusses the service.  It is over 20 minutes long however.

Monday, May 14, 2012

5 Tips For Storing Your Tech This Summer

It is the end of the school year for so many of us.  Some of us are excited about summer.  Many of us are disappointed for the school year to end.  Several teachers will be looking for a new job, whether it be budget cuts or looking to move up into administration.  Either way, in the 21st century, cleaning up the classroom at the end of the school year can be a daunting task. 

Most school districts will have instructions for what to do with technology.  If your district does not, here are some helpful tips to help you store your tech this summer.

1.) Do you keep files on a flash drive or school network drive?  Before unplugging all that, store your most important documents in the cloud.  You can use services like Dropbox, Box.net, Google Drive, or Microsoft SkyDrive to store all your files.  That way you have them available to you this summer from any computer.  This will also help you out if you change schools.  It might take a lot of time to do this, but it will be worth it in the end.

2.) Buy a Can of Condensed Air.  Before you put the keyboard, monitor, desktop, laptop, etc. away, take the can of air and blow all the loose particles out before storing them.  These little pieces of dust slow down and damage all this technology.  We all know how dusty classrooms can get.

3.) Buy some wire ties with labels to store and identify all the wires and cables that go with all the peripherals.  Wires everywhere can be a pain, especially for those of us that have a mild case of OCD.  Learning how to wrap them and store them can make it easier to store them as well.  When I was working as a TIS, it never failed to have a teacher or two who needed help hooking something up because they didn't know which cable went with which piece of equipment.

4.) Did you keep the boxes for all your equipment?  If so, put as many pieces of technology back in the original box.  Makes it easy to store it, keeps it dust free, and makes it even easier to transport to a new room or school if that applies to you.  You can also label the boxes with your name and room number.  Make sure that the equipment is also labeled.

5.) Unplug everything if you aren't storing them away.  Districts are trying to save money.  You would be surprised how much extra it costs school districts every year for keeping technology plugged in all summer that is not being used.

Have a great summer!!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Search Engines GALORE!

Google has been the dominating search engine for several years in and out of education.  Google is not the only search engine and we all know that.  Several tools are available that make searching not just Google but all the other search engines at the same time.  The following post will showcase those search engines as well as some other video and image search engines.

Boounce is a search engine/add-on for Firefox that allows users to easily "bounce" from one search engine to another. Boounce includes tradition search engines, vertical search engines, and site-specific search engines.  See the video below for more information.



Dagadop is a search engine dedicated to allowing users to search through YouTube videos easily.  One the left the video will display and on the right are the videos related to your search.  No need to leave a page to watch a different video from your search.  You can create an account and this will allow you to add favorites and create playlist as well.


PicsLikeThat is a website for searching similar images.  The images load on a canvas that you can easily view and click on to zoom in and see.  When you find a picture that you are looking for, you double click on that image and it will find any picture containing similar images.  See a video below for how it works.



Quotecoil is a search engine for discovering quotes.  You can search by full quotes, authors, or keywords.  If you like your kids to journal and respond to quotes, this would be a great site to use.

Oolone is a visual search engine.  Type in what you are searching for and this search engine will provide screenshots of each webpage that represents your search.  There are 6 webpages per "slide," because the format puts the search results in a slide show format.  Very useful for visual learners.  If an image is not available, it provides their logo on the screenshot.

Sperse searches Google, Yahoo and Bing along with its own database and filters for duplicate results returning more comprehensive, relevant and fast results to the users. Sperse provides several search options to its users, some may include the ability to search Images, Videos, News, Shopping, Blogs, Dictionary, Forums, Wikipedia, PDF File extensions and many more.  Users will also be able to optionally streamline their selections through Sperse's ability to offer color images displayed in conjunction with the selected results.


Photo Pin is a website that allows bloggers to easily search for free images that they can use on blogs.  This would be a great website for students who are writing blogs.

FrazeIt is a website that provides users the ability to search for phrases that will help them in their writing.  Great for those writers that struggle putting on paper what they want to convey.
  • More than 100M phrases indexed, all coming from top news writers.
  • 6 languages supported.
  • Words & phrases suggestions.
  • Filter by form,zone or context.
  • Regular expressions: fill*,fi?l,etc.
  • Context,translate and define capabilities for each search result.
  • Famous quotes search by Author,Occupation,Religion and more.


HAPPY SEARCHING!!


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