Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tuesday Teaching Strategy - Empty Outline

Empty Outline

An Empty Outline is best used when a great deal of structured content must be presented, such as in a lecture.  Varying levels of ability in students allows an empty outline to meet the different needs.  An empty outline can help students develop skills of listening, note taking, and organization.  All of these skills do require clear and supportive feedback at the same time.

Beginning with a detailed outline lecture or discussion, decide whether students should pay more attention to its topics, subtopics, or supporting details (this might alternate with certain subject matter).  Then, prepare a partial outline, omitting the topics, subtopics, or supporting details from it. 

After the lecture, ask students to fill in the blanks in the partial outline.  Completing the outline demonstrates students’ mastery of the material and shows students how topics, subtopics, or supporting details relate to one other.  An empty outline is also a valuable resource in teaching students how to organize notes when outlines are not provided.

It is important to be cautious when choosing what to omit.  It is recommended that an empty outline be limited to at most, half of the lecture or discussion.  The same outline technique could also be incorporated into a “Book Look” activity when assigning students reading from a text.

Monday, November 19, 2012


Mural.ly is a website dedicated to allowing users to easily, creatively, and with flexibility organize pictures, video, sound, and other content on a project.  Mural.ly can also be used on tablets and can b used in a collaborative setting.  Signing up and using Mural.ly is free and is currently in Beta. 

With Mural.ly users can map the content and then present it in a zoomable interface to allow users to see the details of a project.  A great feature is the ability to drag and drop content on to a project with ease. 

For more information, see the short video below.

Prezzip - Prezi Templates

Prezzip is a website that allows users to download both free and priced templates for the use on the presentation site Prezi.  The templates are downloaded in a SWF (Shockwave Flash) file and can then be uploaded to a users presentation on Prezi.  You can currently search Prezzip for Prezis, Templates, Animations, and Pictures; so it is not limited to just templates.  The prices for the purchasable templates and other features range from $1.99 to about $15.00.  There is a Bundles option that allows users to save money by bundling various purchases together.  If you are a big Prezi users, this website might come in handy.  There are some very useful templates in the free section as well. 

For more information, here is a very short video introducing Prezzip.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

2012 Edublog Awards - My Nominations

It's that time of year again where nominations for the Edublog Awards are happening across the blogosphere.  I have missed out on opportunities in the past because of finding consistent time to post on my blog.  If you are new to reading educational blogs and learning about educational technology, then examining the previous winners is a valuable resource for you.  The winners go back to 2007.  Being out of the loop has left me missing some new bloggers out there.  So my nominations will focus on some of the ones I have liked over the past three years....from the time I started this blog.

Here are my Nominations for the 2012 Edublog Awards:

Best Administrator Blog - A Principal's Reflections - A wonderful blog sharing the experiences of Eric Sheninger

Best Resource Sharing Blog - Free Technology for Teachers - A staple in educational technology resource sharing.

Best Individual Blog - Larry Ferlazzo Websites of the Day - Another long standing resource related to both educational technology and other education related issues.

Best Open PD/Unconference - TeachMeet Kentucky - Being from Kentucky and both attending and presenting at this conference, I am a little biased.

Best Mobile App - Remind 101 - An app I used when I returned to the classroom that allows users to set up text message reminders for students and parents.

Best Educational Wiki - ICT Magic - Routinely updating resources related to educational technology.

Best Librarian Blog - A Media Specialists Guide to the Internet - A valuable resource for educators looking for resources.

Best Teacher Blog - The Nerdy Teacher - A valuable blog when looking for how a teacher integrate technology and think student first in education. 

Best Individual Tweeter - Jerry Blumengarten - Cybraryman1 - Has a great resource website too.

Lifetime Achievement Award - Kelly Tenkely - Writer of the iLearn Technology Blog and a constant thinker about education and how to make change in education.  Kelly has always been moving forward with thinking about how to improve learning for students.  Is currently working on the Learning Genome Project.

Friday, November 16, 2012

It's My Anniversary...For My Blog

On November 17th of 2009 I started this blog with short sighted goals and plans in mind.  I didn't really have a plan, but knew that I wanted to share all that I was learning in the hopes that it would reach others and they would be able to learn like I was.  When I started writing this blog, I was a Technology Integration Specialist and I assumed that I would be in that position or position similar to it for quite some time.That job lasted just two years, but were probably the most valuable two years in education to date. 

I learned about all these great ways to teach my students and grow professionally.  I began to use and advocate for the use of Twitter by teachers as a professional development tool.  The writing of this blog greatly increased my interest in being an educator and about education inside and outside my classroom.  The professional relationships that I created virtually often brought my spirits up about the great things teachers were doing.  I admit I have gotten away from using Twitter in a professional manner recently due to time constraints and examining my priorities, but I know it is always there when I need to find something.  The TIS job did more for me professionally till this year.  In my current position I examine curriculum and data and the impact of assessment in education.  I have learned a lot about the workings of a school.

Prior to my Curriculum Coordinator position and after my TIS position I went back to the classroom for a year to teach social studies and embedded a lot of what I learned into my classroom.  I allowed students to use cellphones while monitoring their use.  I saw lots of great things in other classrooms that I took to my own classroom.  We used several web 2.0 tools for project based learning and for collaboration and communication.  Professionally and pedagogically I have had a swing of thoughts impacting my views on education.

Professionally, my life took turns that made it difficult to maintain this blog as I was doing so in 2009 and 2010.  It also didn't help that my domain got sold as well.  Personally, my life also took positive turns, as my wife and I had a little boy and added a little girl to the mix as well.  Therefore, this greatly impacted my ability to post on a regular basis, plus I found myself taking my laptop home, working on this blog instead of spending time with my kid.  I enjoy keeping this blog in more ways then I imagined I would when I first started it, but my priorities changed.  I have contemplated going back to buying a domain, but until I can develop a routine, I don't see a reason to at this point.

Looking back at the three years, there have been a lot of remarkable and memorable posts.  I wanted to bring those back for this post for those that might be new to the blog, or just wanted a quick refresher.

1.) Doing a FLIP Across the Curriculum - Even though FLIPs are no longer in production, it doesn't mean the concepts of using video have changed.
2.) Common Misconceptions of Technology Integration in Education was a series of post I did related to what I was seeing about technology being utilized in the classroom.
3.) My 10 Tips Series covers ways to utilize various technology in and outside the classroom.  You can find them all in one place in the link provided.  One not on the list is 10 Alternatives to Power Point
4.) 7 Technology Alternatives for Standard Homework Assignment was a post I did in preparation for a conference presentation.  There are also several more in the comment section.
5.) Twitter was and is still a popular and new tool to educators.  I wrote several posts about Twitter and some of the most popular are below.
 Now the question I have to ask is where do I go from here?  What should be the goal of this blog.  I miss the days of creating posts that get tons of visits and hits.  I often wonder if it is because of the "blogpost" that limits access to my blog that I was getting before or if it mostly do to the types of posts.  I often think it has a lot to do with me getting away from using Twitter more often.  Hopefully I will still continue to use this blog as a way of sharing tools that I discover and my experiences in and outside the classroom.

Thank you to those of you who have loyally stayed with me through these professional changes.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Tuesday Teaching Strategy - Gallery Walk

Gallery Walk is a teaching strategy that involves the movement of students around the room to a collection of displays that are connected to the day’s activities. A gallery walk can have several different purposes and is a good way to evaluate what students know about a topic before OR after it is taught.
The aspects of a Gallery walk can be anything from open-ended questions about the subject for the day, artwork related to central themes, photographs depicting aspects of curriculum, illustrations, or even demonstrations showing step by step procedures.
Gallery Walks are often completed with students participating in partners or small groups. In a given amount of time, each group will visit each display. As students read, observe, and interact with the display, they take notes on what they discover. Students can be provided guided notes or just require them to write notes as they go. When time is up, students take time reflecting on what they discovered. It is important that the teacher walk around and monitor students’ engagement with this activity.
Gallery walks can promote even more meaningful assessment when students post their notes around the displays encouraging students to think deeper and further than the notes posted previously. Then as students go around, responses can be to the original prompt and to the other students’ notes.
Implementation Ideas
- English can take parts of a poem, short story, or text and encourage students to discuss symbolism, identify parts of speech, and discuss meanings.
- Social Studies can use the activity to address various political cartoons or examine images from historical periods and gather students’ thoughts.
- Government students can use this to decide whether something is constitutional or unconstitutional and have students explain why.
- Mathematics teachers can provide images of Geometric figures and discuss the various concepts that are covered. Students could solve a problem and then write a problem for the next group to solve.
- Science teachers could use the activity related to outcomes of experiments
- PE and Health teachers could use the activity as a way for students to share a game they create and other students could comment and add to them
- Arts and Humanities teachers could use this strategy to examine art or even share student created projects

Monday, November 5, 2012

Get Ed Funding

GetEdFunding, sponsored by CDW-G, is a resource for finding free and fresh grant opportunities.  The site is dedicated to helping educators and institutions identify the funding they need when education budgets across the country are getting tighter and tighter.  There are currently more than 750 grants and opportunities from various levels and organizations available to various levels of education.  The grant opportunities are monitored, updated, and expanded on a daily basis.  There are 6 criteria that users can search by, which include 41 areas of focus, 8 content areas, and 21st century skills.  By creating an account users can save and organize the various grants of greatest interest.

If your school or district is looking for ways to create opportunities and has an experienced grant writer on staff, this would be a valuable starting point for your district.  Administrators looking to help their schools where funds are extremely limited would benefit utilizing GetEdFunding.  As new grants are made available, you can easily find them on the main page and provides an easy way for staying on top of new opportunities.

Another feature of the site are articles and resources related to educational technology.  There are currently four resources available for free that might be of interest as well.  GetEdFunding also allows searching by keyword, which would allow users to search for content and subject related grants and other funding opportunities. 

Election Websites

Finding valuable and unbiased information related to the election can often be a difficult task.  One of my favorite websites that I look at and check back to every week is All My Faves.  With the election right around the corner, information for before, during, and after the election will be important to educators across the curriculum.  All My Faves currently has a page dedicated to Politics, The Election, Democrats, and Republicans.  There is also information in each section dedicated to showcasing some of the most popular YouTube Channels and Twitter accounts.  I highly recommend this as a starting point for student projects, classroom discussions, and other activities related to the 2012 Election. 

Tuesday Teaching Strategy - 3-2-1 Assessment

3-2-1 Assessment

Chances are you have heard or done something similar to this instructional strategy in the past.  3-2-1 Assessment is a strategy where students take inventory of their own learning by sorting out what they know from what they have yet to master.  It can be used quickly to assess student understanding any time new information has been presented or a review of information is being presented.

In 3-2-1 Assessment, students will need to have either 3 index cards, 3 post-it notes, or in a modified version, a sheet of notebook paper with three separate columns.  On the index cards or paper, the students will need to write the following:
3. THREE things that they have learned and feel comfortable remembering.
2. TWO things that are not yet quite understood about content material
1. ONE question still outstanding about content material
            *NOTE – These can certainly be changed to match specific needs.

When finished, students can either attach the slips of paper to the bulletin board, a poster, or a piece of chart paper that has been divided into three columns for each part of the strategy.  The teacher can then review the notes to build a representation of a class’s understanding of the content material.  The results can either serve as a starting point to the next lesson, help extend a classroom discussion, redirect a planned course of instruction, or alert a teacher to a topic that requires re-teaching.

-       This could be beneficial for math teachers looking to find parts of problem solving that students are having difficulty with.
-       All teachers could use this prior to the review for an exam.
-       Science teachers could use this with an experiment so students can ask why something happened.
-       Social Studies teachers could use this to check for students understanding of relationships between events and time periods
-       English teachers could use this strategy following the reading of a short story and checking for symbolism in a poem
-       This strategy could be used during watching a film in class.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Have You Seen the New Prezi?

Prezi has finally relented from their "Editing Bubble" and created a new menu feature that makes it easier to create presentation.  Although the "Bubble" was an icon for their presentation tool, it was time for a change.  The new interface provides easy access to playing your Prezi in a preview or for presentation and to edit the path.  Also, the usual features that the Editing Bubble provided are now in a menu at the top of the screen. 

This new toolbar is where you can find New Frames, Themes, Images, Videos, Power Points, and Shapes...which has a new feature containing over 200 symbols to use in the presentation.

To the far right of the toolbar you will find the settings tab which will allow users to switch back to the old version if you don't like the new version; at least till the end of the year.   Also in this area is where you can collaborate on the presentation, find help, and share the presentation.  There is also an option to print your presentation.  This option will create a PDF that you can save and print.

A quick test, reveals a much more user friendly software.  The Presentation aspect also provides a scroll bar through your presentation which makes it easier to find key points if necessary.  The other menu and editing features of Prezi have remained the same.  Prezi is a very interesting study of how a website software changes and adapts to the needs and suggestions of its users.