Tuesday, December 31, 2013

#2:00 EdTech Goals

Not too long ago, I was talking to my 18 year-old brother about developing an app (you know, just normal brother talk). Basically, my brother is a big time gamer, and I like bouncing ideas off him about game elements within eLearning projects or hypothetical game-based educational apps.

When I was walking out of his room, I saw the image above taped to his wall.  The post-it-note attached to the wall with electrical tape caught my attention.  I asked, "What's with 2:00?"  And after a few attempts to avoid answering my question, he eventually told me that is when he writes.  I think he was a little embarrassed to admit that he writes, and I wonder why.  Being a teacher, this absolutely made my day.

Of course, I had to probe deeper into this "2:00 thing," which could be the real reason he was hesitant on revealing what it was.  Eventually, he told me he had been writing a fantasy inspired by the video games (WOW and League of Legends) he plays and the books he reads.

We all need our 2:00 goals.  I sometimes have too many.  If you knew me on a personal level, you would know that I like to pose fabulous "I would like tos."  For instance, I would like to own my own a Coffee Truck, start-up an EdTech company, write a children's book, make animated short films, rebuild my dad's old motorcycle, write for comedies, and so on.  My problem is that I like to talk about these ideas more than act on them.

My latest 2:00 goal is to develop an educational game app for iOS.  I was thinking about using the MakeGamesWith.Us platform to get started, and then figure out how doable my idea is.  I tried a few things with Tree House when I had a free account, but I didn't force myself to sit down and learn.

Being a proponent for change in schools, especially with the use of EdTech, I hear the phrase, "I don't have time." But, it's a matter of making time.  Clearing out all of the unimportant and trivial tasks that fill our days is a must.  Make time!

Then, to ensure your goals are being met, go public with these goals and make sure people know what you are attempting to complete.  As I gear up to take a stab at app/game development, I will try to post my reflections occasionally.  I don't know if what I make will be educational at first, but I need to just try.  And if it is too difficult, I can maybe just hire and/or partner with an app developer, like the following cartoon suggests.

With New Year's resolutions knocking on our doors, people will be writing or talking about how to achieve their goals for 2014 over the next few weeks.  But regardless of the New Year Resolution bandwagon, making time for your goals is more important than making wild "I'd like to..." statements.

My 2:00 is about taking action and finishing my personal goals.  I need to start completing or at least making progress toward these goals.  That's why I am going to dedicate a specific time at least weekly to accomplish at least one of my goals.

What is your 2:00?

Friday, December 20, 2013

Conferencing with Students - Literacy and EdTech Collaborative

The Sarah Taylor and I recently held a session after school to demonstrate how to utilize web-based and application-based tools to improve data collection during student conferencing.  My "Tech Ideas" section was very basic, but provided ways to track information gleaned from student conferences.  Basically, I demonstrated how to use Evernote or Google to record anecdotal records from students.  If I was still in the classroom, I would most likely use my iPad or MacBook to track conference "noticings" using one of the Google apps.

With Google Forms, a basic conference form could be set up initially and your notes could be added for each student.  Then, when your notes are completed, the form can be submitted and the browser refreshed to fill out a blank form for the next student.  When the form is submitted, the data populates into a Google Sheet, which could then be accessed to search and sort through the data.    

Toward the end of the slideshow below, I included basic examples of what this could look like with Google products.  But, don't neglect to look through Sarah Taylor's slides on conferencing during Writer's Workshop.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Filtering Images by Usage Rights with Google

The following document demonstrates the steps needed to perform an Advanced Search with Google Images.  This might seem like more steps then you want to perform with your students, but setting up this expectation now will avoid future issues with stealing copyrighted images from a regular Google Images search.  These steps should provide you with the basic steps needed to perform an Advanced Search within Google Images.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Google Docs - Research Tool

Video Demonstration

The following video and animated GIF provide teachers with an overview of the Research Tool within Google Docs.  This isn't a new feature in Google Docs, but I wanted to share it because I noticed many classrooms have been collecting information from online sources.  It would definitely be easy for students to keep a notes page to collect information from the web and cite it with little effort using the Research Tool's cite button.  

Even if this tool isn't used to locate information, the Research Tool can be used to locate images for a class project.  For instance, because the Research Tool can also be accessed within Google Slides, students could locate images filtered by usage rights to be dragged into their presentations, while citing the online source simultaneously.  

The video below reviews some tips on using Google Docs during the information collection stage for any essay writing.  This tool makes a great argument for why your students should be using Google Docs on a more regular basis.  

Images to Demo the Google Research Tool

Thursday, December 12, 2013

#INeLearn Christmas Shares

I was presenting at my school district's board meeting and just recently got home, which caused me to miss the Twitter Chat.   Here are my shares via Thinglink and this blog post.  Click the links below associated with each block.  This image and idea was created by the extraordinary Michelle Green

Google Santa Tracker

This is just a simple share through a post.  I wanted to share the link to Google's Santa Tracker.  With each day in December a new Christmas-related game or tool is unlocked, keep up with all 24 days until the 25th.  Day ten had a cool voicemail creation tool with a Santa chat window.  Check out Google's Santa Tracker.  Here is a link to the message I sent to someone.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Universal Design for Learning

I recently attended a Universal Design for Learning session at the Central Indiana Service Center for Education and reflected on my experience with the app Haiku Deck.  Below you will find my notes via this "deck."

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad

Gear up for the #HourofCode

Why the hashtag?  Because if you participate, I think you should share your success or failure with Twitter.  Failure is a first attempt in learning, and should not be hidden.  Try it and if it doesn't work don't discredit it.  Instead reflect, evaluate, and revamp your coding lessons.

The Hour of Code week runs through December 9th to the 15th.  This week is considered Computer Science Education Week.  To review the #Hourofcode, the following video does a great job explaining this campaign and how to get started.  Following the video, there are a list of links to get students coding for varying amounts of time in the classroom.

If you would like to participate in "Hour of Code" activities.  Use these ideas in lieu of your regular Science content for a day.  Try to create a Coding Center in the room for free time.  Complete one or multiple activities listed at these links.  Or at least, take a look at the activities and try them out when you have time.  Maybe it doesn't happen during this upcoming week; however, try to engage students in these activities sometime throughout the year.

Here are a list of resources for getting started:
  1. Computer Science Education Week's Activities Page
  2. Hour of Code Forum
  3. Code.org YouTube Videos

<iPad Apps>

The following apps are kid-friendly for the Hour of Code.  

Cargo-Bot - This puzzle app challenges students to make a robot move crates with a series of up, down, left, right, and looping commands.  Cargo-Bot is a great example of how a game promotes concepts related to coding.  I would recommend this app for Kindergarten and up.  The image above displays the Cargo-bot interface during play and immediately following a successful program.

Daisy the Dinosaur - This app promotes computer programing concepts with an easy to use drag and drop interface.  Students can quickly grasp the idea of using objects, sequencing, and loops to animate Daisy the Dinosaur across the screen.   When students first enter the app, they can choose Free Play or Challenge Mode.  The former offers the freedom to get to know the available commands, while the latter provides students with direction on what you need to get Daisy the Dinosaur to do.  The image above displays the Daisy the Dinosaur interface.

Hopscotch - This might be the coolest solution because there is an associated tutorial to follow along during the #Hourofcode.  The tutorial provides three links: one to download the app, one to watch the tutorial, and one to get a certificate of participation in the #Hourofcode.  The image above displays the Hopscotch interface.

<MacBook Resources>

These are the web-based apps that Code.org recommends for students during the Hour of Code.  Because these are web-based tools, they will work for students using MacBook Airs and not require an application to be downloaded.  Nevertheless, students might need a flash plugin to run Light-bot.  If that is the case, have students try different browsers before calling it quits.

Light-bot tutorials provide students with a step-by-step guide on how to use the Light-bot web-based app, which will provide the students guidance as they work through the tutorials.

MakeGamesWith.us is a tougher activity, but still a great experience for students to get a taste of real coding.  The coding language used with this program is called Objective-C, which is used to developed iOS apps.  App development is great field to get into currently and I can only image it will become even more promising in the future.  Of course, coding languages will change, but using this language can help students understand how the interactions within an app are created.

Scratch is log-in required web-based coding program that many schools have been using on a regular basis. When I coached Lego-Robotics, some of the students were dabbling in Scratch for the fun of it.   It is drag-and-drop coding interface similar to the easy-to-use Daisy the Dinosaur mentioned above.  If I started an after school program for elementary students, this would be one of the programs I would focus students attention on because their are a lot of options with this web-based programming tool.

<Unplugged Resources> 

This list will provide you with all of the "unplugged" resources available to engage students in an hour of code without having wireless access. 

fuzz Family Frenzy  - "Designed for use with plain paper, the fuzzFamily Frenzy is an introduction to programming logic for kids 5 and up. A teacher should explain the game, then students program a partner to complete a simple obstacle course." - Computer Science Education Week 2013

Binary Buables - "Students learn about representing and storing letters in binary, as functions of on and off. At the end, the class gets to encode their own initials to take home with them." - Computer Science Education Week 2013

My Robotics Friends - "Using a predefined "Robot Vocabulary" students will figure out how to guide each other to accomplish specific tasks without discussing them first. This lesson teaches children the connection between symbols and actions, as well as the invaluable skill of debugging. "My Robotic Friends" works best as a group activity and includes a teacher workbook for classroom use." - Computer Science Education Week 2013

</In the End>

I understand that the life of a teacher is a busy one, and there always seems to be little time in the day. But, these skills can offer many students a productive and rewarding outlet for their affinity with technologies.

As a kid, I wanted to become a game designer.  I grew up with Mario and Luigi, and Nintendo games made me wonder how complex it would be to develop my own video game.  When in high school, I asked my student counselor how to pursue this career.  And as well-intentioned as can be, she could only offer me a drafting class and art class.  Both classes could only get me so far and did little to make me want to continue down the path of video game development.

How many of your students would probably enjoy creating video games, animations, interactive websites, apps for mobile devices, etc?  Now, think of how many opportunities they have to actually explore this career pathway.  So, even if you don't have time this week, think about offering students a choice to use any of these applications in order to expand their horizons.

Last but not least, here is a final advertisement for the #Hourofcode.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks as an Educator

Warning: This is an opinion piece. Read at your own risk.  Then again, most of my posts have a layer of opinion.  Ah, just read it.  

Analyzing standardized testing results, sitting in on random committees, chances for merit pay, summers off, goals to receive accolades, and providing students with grades do not make me thankful to be an educator.  In fact, some of these items listed here can make me want to leave education, but that is not what I wanted to share.  I want to share "why I am thankful," and why I stay in education rather than flee when somedays become humdrum, tedious, and unnecessarily busy.

Like an addictive drug, students keep me here.  Specifically, I love when students learn and create without direction.  Sometimes the smallest comments from a teacher can inspire a student to go home and write a story, draw a picture, bring in something from home, write a blog post, create a slideshow, research a topic, create a message with an app, or send in a digital postcard with WWII paraphernalia on it.  These are all moments that have "made my day" as a teacher and provided me with the motivation to continue in this sometimes emotionally draining career.

Over the last three to four years, as I have become a more digitally aware teacher, I have seen students motivated more and more to create digital products that can be shared through different online platforms.  These moments rekindled my passion to teach and motivated me to do more and be more than just a 30 something year-old.  I truly want to be a teacher.  As a teacher, we get to see some pretty spectacular milestones in a student's life and it is easy to overlook these moments.

Most teachers won't receive a fancy "Teacher of the Year" accolade, but our accolades should be watching students become passionate about creating, collaborating, reflecting, and overall learning. Here are just a few times, I received recognition for my accomplishments.  I just had to take the time to appreciate these moments.

When I taught fourth grade, I shared the tool Digital Vaults with students on Veteran's Day.  This was just to provide students with the knowledge that primary sources from the Library of Congress could be retrieved to research and learn about the wars some veterans served during.  One of my students was a typical unmotivated learner and I was "warned" about him prior to the beginning of the year.  Then one night, I thought I received spam from the Digital Vaults and deleted the email from my inbox.  But, something told me to look at the message before emptying my trash.  After reading the message, I realized my unmotivated learner who built a bad reputation within the school just spent his free time engaging in the curation of Digital Vault sources to create a Vietnam War poster online.

This same student, went on to publish blog posts after school and over the weekends without a cue from me.  He didn't complete a lot of his assigned homework, but he did work on projects that would awaken his appetite to create and share.  Most of the time, he worked hardest on web-based projects and these moments that sparked his interest enough to try made my day as a teacher.

Most recently, in a period of two days, I received two more gifts from inspired students.  The email below is from a teacher working on a PBL unit focusing on Native Americans.  She is doing most of the work of course, but I think demonstrating the power of the research tool in Google Docs increased their efficiency as researchers, and they seem to be "hooked" as I work continue to work with them.

This next image displays a Google Drive share I received from a student using Edmodo.  This student created a QuickTime movie recorded in Keynote.  The other day, I demonstrated how to use Keynote, record a presentation, export the file as a QuickTime movie, and how to share files in Google Drive for a classroom.  This was just a quick presentation.  Then later that night, I received a movie presentation on American Girl Dolls.  I'm not a fan of content, but I was floored by the fact that the student was inspired to capture her passion with the tools I shared.  Let me say that it was a great presentation for an elementary student.

These incidents that I refer to above are most likely meaningless to the readers of this blog post.  Nevertheless, they provide me with small moments of inspiration to feel like I am making a difference in a student's life, and this is what I am thankful for as an educator.   I am always thankful and appreciate when students are hooked and passionate about learning.  Students learn regardless of my actions, but I think I at least had a little part to play in their cognitive growth.  So as I am still stuffed like a Turkey with Thanksgiving food, I would like to say, "thank you students for creating and sharing when you're passionate about learning."

Sunday, November 24, 2013

KidBlog App

The following image was created to review the features within the KidBlog app.  I have the embedded Scribd window below with a link the PDF if wanted, but I also have the image of below the Scribd window.  I am sharing this along with the slides from my session on KidBlog.

KidBlog Session Slides

Like a Tarantino movie, I am starting with the end of my slideshow with the above image.  The rest of my slides from my KidBlog session held after school this last week are listed below.  Some of the slides had links to various resources and I told everyone that they could find these links here. Locate these links within the embedded SlideShare player, which is immediately below this paragraph.  If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please respond in the comment section below.

Friday, November 22, 2013

JFK and Instagram

Last school year, I snapped photos from my trip to Dallas, TX and the location where John F. Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald.  Although I am somewhat hesitant to share these images from this tragic event in American History.   I think this event needs to be discussed on it's November 22nd anniversary, while also displaying how social media can be used for instructional purposes.  

To promote social media and it's value for bringing Dallas to a classroom hundreds of miles away, I want to share how I didn't need to save these images onto my computer or print them at Walgreens.  Instead, because I uploaded them to Instagram, I will have these images to share with students and allow for interaction for many years to come, or at least until Instagram goes Kaput.  

To mark the JFK Assassination anniversary, I am sharing images from the location.  It's not much but a simple way to share and spark a conversation with students.  This shows how I had a teacher-eye, while on vacation and away from home.  But, the technophile in me caused the social media attack on infamous Elm Street.  Of course, before the Instagram and Vine apps were opened, I started my experience in Dealey Plaza with a FourSquare check-in.  

Please click the upper-right corner of the image to view the image on Instagram and feel free to provide a comment on these photos.  

Additional Vine Posts 

During my visit, I also took several Vine videos just to get a little perspective on the area.  In the video below, I start with the Book depository and scroll down  toward the street view.  While filming, I was about near or on the grassy knoll.  



This man set up a booth on top of the grassy knoll, and he believed that the government had something to do with the assignation.  What do you think? 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Blogging with Blogger, What?

Getting Started with Blogger

These slides show the basic steps for getting started with Blogger and were used during this last weeks after school session on Blogger.

Blogging Basics & Some Tips

These slides present some basics on blogging as a teacher and were used during this last after school session on Blogger.  

Making your Own QR Code

Not too long ago, a teacher asked me how to make a QR code.  With so many web-based tools out with the ability to create a QR code, it is difficult to just pick one and share it.  I wrote about this nearly a year ago.  In fact, it is almost exactly a year ago.  Check out my old post entitled Increase Time On-Task with QR Codes for more ideas if needed.  I am going to share a couple websites just so there is a little variety, but I also took one of these tools and created the video below to demonstrate how-to create QR codes.

Google's URL Shortener - this website works with Google accounts, which allows a user to save and track, or see the how many people used, any of their shortened URLs created.  At the same time as creating a shortened URL a QR code is also created.  If a teacher want to track his/her QR codes usage and keep a record of all the shortened URLs, this might be the website to use.

Vocaroo - is a website that can record audio and create a QR code to take others to the recording for playback.  This could be good for introducing something to students, reading a poem, reading a story problem, providing directions, or simply giving them a message of the day.  Students can also use it to record quick snippets of audio to share via QR code.  If a teacher is looking to record audio and share via QR code, this might be the website to use.

Classtools QR Quiz - is a QR code generator for quizzes. Teachers can input questions and generate QR codes for each question to be displayed somewhere in the room.  Then, have the students locate each question and answer them with a clipboard and looseleaf paper.  If a teacher is looking to create quizzes, this might be the website to use.

QRHacker - is a website that will allow you to create custom QR codes and is probably one of the easier ones to use.  Paste in your URL, generate a QR code and save the image to your computer.  This is the website demonstrated within the video below.

Not on a Tablet - Here's an Option

If a classroom isn't on a MacBook, or a device that isn't a tablet, this web-based QR code scanner can access the computer's webcam and scan QR codes.  It can even scan images of QR codes from your computer.  However, with all of the social bookmarking sites available, I would probably just use a site like Symbaloo, Blendspace, or a simple list of links on a blog with laptop and desktop computers.  

How to Create your Own Video

How to Distribute them

Teachers can distribute QR a couple different ways.  First, teachers can spread QR codes throughout the room as a scavenger hunt game to incorporate movement, while completing the activity associated with the class learning goal.  I didn't mind this movement within my room, but this can get chaotic without ground-rules discussed prior to the search.

The second and less chaotic way is to print off a few of the QR codes, laminate them, punch a hole in the corner, and attach them to a ring to be placed on a bulletin board.  Then, whenever needed, students can go to the group of QR codes, bring them back to their desks, and scan the website they want/need at the time.  This method would be good for study units.  If the teacher knows of several reliable websites, create a group of QR codes to keep students focused on the topic being studied.  Then, the teacher can worry less about students randomly searching the web or misspelling the URL repeatedly.  All in all, this method would require minimal movement around the room and focus students attention on specific teacher-vetted sites.

The third method that I can think of is posting the QR code on the SMARTBoard with SMART Notebook, Keynote, Pages, Google Docs, Google Slides, Etc.  I sometimes QR codes to link my audience with a copy of the presentation; however, you can also link them to a homework assignment.  Basically, just use something that will display the QR code through the LCD projector.

Of course, these are the only ways QR codes can be used in the classrooms.  Please list any additional ideas about how to distribute codes to students or parents within the comments section below.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Marketing EdTech: Blogging

This is a session for my school district, but I wanted to share the design I made using Pages '09.  In my household, I hear Jake and the Neverland Pirates throughout the day, and I was on a pirate kick.  The result was a pirate theme.  I was thinking of the map to the treasure--to enhance and transform learning with educational technologies.  I am hoping all of the sessions I have this year will slowly answer my driving question within my header, which I have to modify to include creation.  

After sending this poster out to the teachers as PDF.  I plan on also sending Smore flyer just to play with another web-based tool.   The Smore flyer is embedded below the Blogger Session Poster. 

Smore Flyer


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Book Creator App

I have been playing around with an eBook creator app, entitled Book Creator, for a little while now.  But, I have only had one classroom attempt to create an ePub with this app.  To get started with Book Creator, take a look the video below for a broad overview of this app.

Fun Activity

I thought this was an engaging an interesting collaborative story activity.  Start a story on one iPad and pass the story around the room with each student adding the next page of the book.  A few teachers and a network administrator started to do this and we can up with a fun story about a dysfunctional printer.

See what your students can come up with and try your first book for FREE with Book Creator

The Connected Classrooms Community

Recently, I posted my introduction on Connected Classrooms last night, and I think you should do the the same.  

From what I am seeing within the community, there seems to be many opportunities for classrooms to connect with reputable organizations and experts through Google Hangouts.  The video below provides a fancy overview of Connected Classrooms concept.  I am excited to see all of the opportunities yet to come from this community.  

Google Hangouts

I like Google Hangouts a billion times, or should I say a Google times, better than other telecommunication tools.  With Google in Education's Connected Classrooms community, we, as Google Apps Schools, now have a place to connect with learning experiences like found with Skype in Education.   Google Hangouts is not as well known as Skype and maybe this is the catalyst for me to start marketing the concept of virtual field trips, classroom connections, and communication with experts through Google Hangouts rather than Skype.  

Joining Connected Classrooms

In order to request to join this community, create a Google+ account (if you are part of my school district let me know that you are interested) and go to the Connected Classroom Community on Google+ in order to request access.  Once you are accepted, write an introduction to the group and make scroll through the posts from other teachers looking to collaborate or organizations hosting events for classrooms to join.  As displayed with the image below you can easily search or filter posts to locate information pertinent to your interests. 

So, Connect Already!

I have a few teachers using Hangouts within my school system, but I want more people tapping into the potential power of Google Hangouts and Google+.  The extra features within Hangouts makes it a great tool for any connected classroom and the Communities with Google+ are definitely worth your time and effort to connect.

Most of my teachers connecting globally are involved in the reading projects.  Let's continue to connect and develop partnerships with experts and reputable organizations through Connected Classrooms.  What connected projects will you initiate? 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tellagami App

Use the Tellagami app on your iPads or Android device to record and share messages with your students via Twitter, Email, Text message, or through a link on your preferred website.  For my school district, I would suggest making the Gami and sharing it through Edmodo, Moodle, or Blog post.  For the teachers with iPads, I would suggest using a QR code or the Chirp app.

As you can see my Gami below, I used it to provide my students with an writing prompt.  It's a completely generic after-break prompt, but you get the idea of how to use it in the classroom.  Classroom activities for using this tool:
  • Greetings
  • Class assignments
  • Writing prompts
  • Short stories
  • Reflections
  • Exit slips
  • Messages to class when out for the day

Sample Message to Students

Sample Message to Teachers

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Basic EdTech Tips

Before, During, and After Starting to Use

Of course, I am talking about using Instructional Technologies in the classroom.  This is truly a basic list of tips to be aware of before, during, and after integrating various technologies within the classroom.  Over the summer, I created the following slideshow for EdTech neophytes and I have been adding to these tips randomly.  If you have any additional tips that should be mentioned, leave them within the comments section.  These are just basic tips, but I believe they are worth mentioning.

The 12 Slides for EdTech Users

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad

The Basic List of Tips

  1. Set Specific Learning Goals
  2. Teach the Rules & Build Routine
  3. Be Present 
  4. Allow for exploration
  5. Make Students Login 
  6. Check Caps Lock
  7. Start Small
  8. Don't Stop Learning
  9. Have a Backup Plan
  10. Keep Calm and Carry On
  11. Hang in There

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

GarageBand App Free Today

If you want a great iPad/iPhone app to record student voice or even to create music for the fun of it, download the GarageBand app for free.  I hope it is still free tomorrow morning.  This was a last minute find on Twitter that I wanted to share out for those with iPads or iPhones.  

Even though I paid at least $5 for GarageBand, it was like the Heavens parted and a light shined down on me when I saw the GarageBand app was free today.  GB is a easy-to-use audio recording app with intuitive instruments and microphone effects to provide simple-minded folks (like myself) with professional sounding audio recordings.
Here are some classroom applications for GarageBand
  • Record students repeated readings to encourage fluency
  • Record students oral presentations to share on a blog
  • Record student book talks 
  • Record student book reviews
  • Record students reading their writing for revision purposes
  • Record model examples of student writing to share with whole class
  • Record podcasts developed by students and based on their interests
  • Record exit slip reflections daily on what was learned in class
  • Record model examples of great classroom discussion to share
  • Record impromptu classroom events 
  • Record the questions on a test
  • Record the directions to an activity for students that need a repeat
  • Record messages to students or parents and upload to your blog, Moodle, Edmodo, etc.
  • Record a problem of the day for students to access online and work on
This list of classroom ideas can just keep going and going and going like the Energizer Bunny.  GarageBand has become an easily overlooked app, but it provides teachers and students with an easy to use tool for audio recording.

Don't forget about Garageband on your MacBooks.  This MacBook app can be used to complete all of the above classroom ideas as well.  How can you utilize this audio recording tool in your classroom?  If you have additional audio recording ideas, list them below in the comments section.

Literacy and EdTech Collaborative

The following presentation was created to demonstrate ideas on how to implement a developmental spelling program to replace or supplement an existing spelling program.  Checkout Sarah Taylor's Literacy Blog for more literacy resources.

My section of the presentation goes over six EdTech ideas for utilizing iPads and MacBook Airs with sound instructional practices.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Kahoot - Getting a Game Started

Kahoot! is an easy-to-use student response system.  It makes giving quizzes engaging.  Teachers and students would benefit from using Kahoot! from time to time in the classroom.  Why not create a Kahoot for the end of the year and have a classroom competition.

To get started, you can open play already created games or create your own games. To create your own there is an option to construct quizzes, polls, or surveys in a game-type format.

Teacher View/Student View

The following directions attempt to explain how to use Kahoot with your students.  On the left, the teacher's screen is displayed on the left and the student's screen on the right.  Check out the resources below for more information.

Additional Resources

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Twitter Hashtags - Case & Point

I once heard someone say, "Twitter is like drinking from a fire hose."   Using Twitter can seem like an information overload and seem pointless without knowing how to make sense of its content.

And if you don't know how to filter content through hashtags, Twitter can just seem like random thoughts posted by too many people and sometimes those thoughts, or Tweets, get ReTweeted.  Then, there are these Hashtag things.  Say what?!

If you watch the following video and this makes sense, then you probably understand hashtags and you can stop reading this post.  But if you watch it and miss the point, I'll try my best to make a case for using Twitter and leveraging the Hashtag for professional growth.  


So I take it the video made no sense to you and even though you are slightly confused, you still want to know more about hashtags.  In the wrong hands (see video above), a hashtag can seem meaningless and idiotic.  In the hands of a professional Twitter-user (not me), a hashtag can filter information to... 
  • Locate specific information/resources, 
  • Communicate with other like-minded people, and 
  • Share information/resources with others.


Okay I'm trying to be "cute" by making my subtitles hashtags.  As you can see, Twitter hashtags start with the # sign and are followed by a word or phrase associated with a topic.  For instance, #EdChat is a hashtag that thousands of educators meet-up on Tuesday evenings to discuss weekly topics.  As a former fourth grade teachers, I would watch and chime in on the #4thchat discussions on Monday nights.  Being a Indiana Native, I cannot forget to mention #INeLearn, which occurs on Thursdays.  Follow hashtags that pique your interests.

Basically, hashtags filter information by topic and make it easier to understand the fire hose of information.  When used well, hashtags can make a Twitter user's experience more like a run through a sprinkler than a full-power blast from a hose.  Using hashtags helps control the flow of information.  


Use hashtags to receive an answer to a question.  We had a snake slither into one of the elementary buildings, while students were coming in from recess.  The students were extraordinarily calm about snake rushing through the hallway.  To be honest, I think it scared some of the teachers more than the students.  To be even more honest, I'm not a big snake fan.   However, Twitter has tons of them, I found one of them through the use of several strategic hashtags placed within my Tweet below.  I took a picture of the snake once it was safely outside, asked a question, and inserted many science-type hashtags.  Then, my answer came in from David A. Steen (@AlongsideWild), and I gained a valuable resource in the form of his blog, Living Alongside Wild, from this quick answer he provided.  This is just a great way to connect your classroom with experts.

Here is just one example of using a hashtag to follow a common topic.  The Global Read Aloud project is currently connecting many teachers and classrooms through the use of a shared read aloud experience.  The #GRA13 hashtag is a great tool providing teachers with instructional resources, classroom connections, and opportunities to communicate with Authors like Kate Messner below.  Whenever Tweeting about the Global Read Aloud, just and the #GRA13 hashtag to your Tweet and your message will be sent to anyone following that topic.  

Take the plug into the Twitter firehose and attempt to make sense of all that content through the use of TweetDeck and hashtags that help you locate information and resources.  The image of the TweetDeck webpage below displays how hashtags can be separated into columns--sprinkler graphic from earlier.  

If a teacher leverages the use of hashtags effectively, they can grow exponentially as a professional with the collaborative power of Twitter.  Regardless of how much technophobes bash the use of Twitter and hashtags, in the "right" hands Twitter hashtags can be used to locate, communicate, and share.  

For those teachers looking to connect with other professionals teaching the same subjects follow hashtags, search for hashtags that relate to your subject-area and grade-level.  Use the resources at the end of this post to locate hashtags for education.  By locating hashtags and Twitter-users to follow, you will grow your professional learning network and refuel your passion for teaching and learning.  

  • The Complete Guide to Twitter Hashtags for Education 
  • CybraryMan's Educational Hashtags
  • The 2012 A-Z List of Educational Twitter Hashtags by Edudemic

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Kidblogs - Connecting with Classrooms

Because Kidblogs is password protected gated community for blogging, teachers need to go into their settings and allow other classrooms to read posts and to write comments.  To promote connections over networks and global-scale projects, blogging provides an easy platform for teachers and students to engage in 21st Century communication skills.   Many of the teachers within my district are using Kidblogs to connect with classrooms for the Global Read Aloud.  But, they are also connecting across the district and between grade levels.

Here is a how-to on connecting with other classrooms through Kidblogs.

After setting up your connections within the control panel.  Your students will be able to view the other classrooms blog through the Blogroll links displayed below.  If the procedures were followed within the above video by both teachers, students should be able to view the other classrooms' posts and make comments on them.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Global Read Aloud Overview - Zombie Edition #GRA2013

Last year, I created a video overview on the Global Read Aloud for the teachers in my school and this year is no different.  Except this year, I added some Zombies from Nugget Head Studioz.  I suggest that you go to their site and download your own Zombie images if wanted.  Use them for your own presentations with students.  The Zombies were my hook to the content and there really isn't any connection between them and the GRA.  I just used them with this simple FAQ presentation.  But, feel free to create your own connections.

I used this presentation last week to introduce the GRA to the teachers within my district, and now I am writing my post to share this resource with everyone that couldn't make it to Indiana for my inspiring presentation.  Like Jem, it was truly outrageous!

Here is the YouTube video and the SlideShare like for those that would like to advance through the slides at their own speed.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Getting Started with Blogger

Just like cockroaches are said to possess the ability to survive a nuclear holocast, blogging seems to be steadfast educational technology for teachers and students to engage in digital forms of literacy.  I encourage you to start blogging and keep in contact with parents, students, and the community.

In this video you demonstrate how to get to your already existing Blogger file with a Gmail account.   At the same time, I am trying to get you into the Chrome Web Store to access the Willy Wonka like apps and extensions to add to your Chrome browser.

iOS Tips from Haiku Deck

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Symbaloo to the Rescue

My school has been using a Templates folder to access links on a server for years and for awhile now it hasn't been working.  Last year around Winter Break, I started putting together a small list of the main resources needed and put together a Symbaloo page to work around the "broken" Templates folder.  Since we are starting a new year, why not use this Symbaloo webmix to access the commonly used websites.

All of the resources are organized into content areas by location on the Symbaloo page and by color.  For instance, the links at the TOP of the page with a PINK background are Literacy resources.  The link on the RIGHT that are BLUE are Social Studies resources.  The links on the BOTTOM that are RED are Math resources.  The links on the LEFT that are GREEN are Science resources.  Last, the resources in the MIDDLE and are WHITE are commonly used resources for testing and other miscellaneous resources used at Tri-Creek.  So, a more simplified explanation is as written:

  • TOP & PINK = Literacy Resources
  • RIGHT & BLUE = Social Studies Resources
  • BOTTOM & RED = Math Resources
  • LEFT & GREEN = Science Resources
  • MIDDLE & WHITE = Miscellaneous Tri-Creek Resources

This webmix can be embedded in your classroom blog if needed.  Just ask for assistance on embedding the webmix to a static page.  If you would like to customize the links to fit your classroom needs, I would also encourage you to attempt to build your own Symbaloo webmix.

If there are any websites you would like added to the Symbaloo webmix, please let me know in the comments section below or email me directly.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Embedding a Calendar to Blogger

Scroll through the following step-by-step guide on how to embed your Google Calendar onto your Blog.  Let me know if you have issues embedding your calendar.

Blogger Overview Document

Over the next few posts, I will be focusing on Blogger with other scattered EdTech topics.  But, many of my teachers are creating Blogs and I want to provide them with various resources to effective utlize the tools and features associated with Blogger.

Make comments on any of these posts if there is something in particular you would like to see about creating your own blog.

Sunday, August 25, 2013


Learning.com's Easy Tech curriculum is basically a computer teacher in a box.  It provides K-8 classroom teachers with an easy-to-use tool to teach digital literacy skills without much background needed by the teacher.  At the same time, it opens teachers' eyes to what skill, knowledge, and attitudes are needed in our tech-filled world. 

I'm not going to say that everything is great about this product, but it gets the job done.  For instance, it reminds me of compliance training for a big company.  The eLearning modules can allow assume that students need the information they are providing.  It's really not an personalized program, but it guides teachers when they don't know where to start with a technology-based curriculum.  

Use the links below in the newly branded Blendspace (formerly EdCanvas) to learn more about Learning.com. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Content Covered isn't Content Learned

Moodle for Teachers

This is a tool created by Joyce Seitzinger to provide teachers with a brief overview of the tools associated with Moodle 2.  I just wanted to share this visually appealing overview of the tools associated with Moodle 2. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

iMages, Photos, and Art...Oh My!

Just like bar bands get Lynyrd Skynyrd's Free Bird requests, I am always asked for image online libraries.  Many teachers like their clipart and here are my 5 (+1) suggestions for alternatives to clipart associated with computer applications.  Below you will find random images associated with each of my suggestions.  

As a tech coach, I have to be careful about using royalty-free images.  For one, I want to set a good example as a digital citizen, but also I don't want to fight an epic legal battle.  So, to get around just borrowing images from a quick Google Images search, I can use the following resources.

Open Clipart

OpenClipart is a free website filled with clipart that is free to use.  It's a great site for teachers looking for clipart to spruce up their Pages documents.  On this website, there are over 100,000 artist contributing to the free clipart and feeding elementary teacher's addiction to cute artwork.  


Pics4Learning allows teachers and students to access their library of "copyright-friendly" images.

National Gallery of Art

The National Gallery of Art hosts a searchable warehouse of digital artwork.  This repository of images houses more than 25,000 from various artists.  Most of the images can be downloaded and reused for free, and this is a nice way to incorporate artwork into a class project.


The PhotoPin website allows bloggers to locate photos and makes the process of siting the photos easy.    PhotoPin searches Flickr for CreativeCommon photos for sharing within a blog post.  

Take your Own Photos

My biggest suggestion is to take your own photos and upload them to Picasa or Flickr.  Use a smartphone and send your photos to Instagram as a storage tool.  Then, allow your students to access your images or keep them as your own repository of generic tech, field trip, first day, project, or other themed photos to use when needed.

Make your Own Photos

Considering the suggestion just above this one, this might seem a little redundant.  But, I mean take photos using a device and use an app to make it unique to the project you are attempting to create.  Take a still shot with your iPhone and use an app to transform the image into what was needed.  For instance, turn yourself into a cartoon character with the My Cartoon app.  Create a comic book collage image with the app ComicBook.  Or just apply filters and effects with Pixlr Express+.

Here is an example of the process I am referencing.  The following image was taken from a video that I took from an Instagram video I made.  I used the app entitled Video 2 Photo to do this.   Then, I place the image into the app Over to add text and additional effects.

I had the Great Depression in mind when I made this one, and it could have been used for an iBook cover in an iTunes U course on this historical event.

So, the next time you are in need of the perfect image use the above resources or if you are a "rebel and a loner PeeWee" try to create your own images.  

Monday, June 10, 2013


Keep an eye on #INeLearn over the summer for the Summer of eLearning supported by the Indiana Department of Education.  Here is a list of resources for the upcoming conferences.  Please feel free to add to this list of resources.

Friday, April 26, 2013


Here is a video overview and document to help explain the Learn.ly tool and how teachers can record commentary over students Google Documents.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Engaging an Audience during a Presentation

I am big in attempting to engage an audience during a presentation.  I don't like to be the focus of a lecture.  I'm not egocentric.  Instead, the audience or learners should be able to do what they were meant to do, which is engage with the content being discussed/taught.

I wanted to talk about QikPad, which is a collaborative-online-word-processing tool.  Of course, there is Google Drive and you can share a Google Doc with everyone in the audience, but maybe you have been there and done that.  You want something similar, but slightly different.  Well then, try QikPad next time!

QikPad is an easy way to engage an audience, classroom, or small group in a collaborative document with its own unique URL.  I like how QikPad can be embedded into a blog post like the one below.  Additionally, I like how the document can be exported directly to Wordle to create a word cloud.  Again, a lot of this can be done in Google Drive, but still a cool tool to use when collecting responses or collaborating quickly.

photo credit: Xosé Castro via photopin cc