Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Continuous Improvement and Web 2.0

The Librarian from BES used Google Forms/Survey Tool to collect data from her students in the Library. She tabulated the results using the built in item analyzer in Google Docs and posted her results. This tool is very simple and easy to use and meets one of the district goals of Continuous Improvement.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

How to Text Students or Parents from any Email Account

How would you like to send an alert out to parents or students about an up coming event, project deadline or test? You simply need their cell phone number and mobile service provider such as AT&T, Sprint, Altel, etc...

Parents need to know the standard disclaimer "standard text message rates will apply"

Here is the formula you need [10 digit telphone number]@

Example: 8175551234@txt.att.net

Sprint: @messaging.sprintpcs.com
ATT: @txt.att.net
Nextel: @messaging.nextel.com
Alltel: @message.alltel.com
T-mobile: @tmomail.net
Verizon: @vtext.com
Tracfone: @mmst5.tracfone.com
MetroPCS: @mymetropcs.com

More inclusive list even to foriegn countries

How I created a online form for my database using Google Forms

Link to form created in the video

A Webcam for Every Classroom

The paradigm shift has started. This week at ACFT elementary school each teacher received a Logitech Web cam to start making connections across the hall and around the world.

Why did we make the shift?
  • Opportunity: The old system only allows specific content with specific equipment. Web cams allow the teacher to make connections that only limit their imagination to any one with an Internet connection.
  • Money: Connections are not dependant on expensive carts at each end but inexpensive web cams that are available to the masses.
  • Multi- Dimensional: Distance learning carts have one job. Make connections. Web cams do so much more: record movies, take pictures, record spelling list, creative avatars, send video email, make video calls, etc...

Web 2.o makes it all happen.

  • Skype: The work horse behind our whole initiative. Each teacher received a Skype account with instructions on how to use Skype and its built in extras such as whiteboard to make connections more engaging.
  • MeBeam: Keeping it simple. No user names no passwords create a unique room and invite your guest.
  • USTREAM.TV: Broadcast your classroom live and record it for others who cannot be there. Great for after school activities and sports.
  • DimDim: The most features of all the Web 2.0 sites, even has the ability to share the desktop. This is a WebEx clone if you have ever used it.

The vision is that web cams will inspire teachers to make the work more engaging by giving them authentic audience, a clear and compelling product, and novelty & variety according to Schlechty's design qualities.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

YouTube to host the new Fireside Chats

In 1929 as Governor of New York, Franklin D. Roosevelt started using radio broadcast to appeal to his voters to help pass legislation that he was working on in congress. He later continued this practice while president of the USA. These talks were later coined "Fireside chats." FDR used the technology most accepted by his constituents to further his cause.

Fast forward almost 80 years (four score for you history buffs) our new President-Elect has chosen YouTube to host his weekly "radio" talk. No matter what your political affiliations are; we should be encouraged by President-Elect Obama's use of technology. He is using the most pervasive means to distribute his his platform.

In addition, YouTube also allows comments, so we are all free to voice our opinions if we disagree.

Monday, November 10, 2008

IStream, WeStream, We all scream for Ustream.tv

Would you like to broadcast your classroom or at least a part of your classroom? Maybe just stream a lesson for absent students or even archive it for them to review it at home.

USTREAM makes all this possible for the incredible price of FREE! All you need is webcam and you are ready to go.

See how other teachers are using Ustream to help students and broadcast important events.

Critter Cams / Classroom pets


Classroom Teacher Tutorials

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Media Tools Using Marzano's Nine

TASCD Presentation 10/21/2008

Thank you all for attending we had great time sharing. All links are clickable in the PowerPoint below.

Link to video used in the presentation. (Click Here)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Distance Learning 2.0 (How to get started)

What do you need to engage your students with collaborative partners next door or around the world? Start small think big and don't spend a lot of money.

Web 2.0 sites: See slideshow for hyperlinks

  • Skype: The standard for free voip service and videos calls
  • ooVoo: Multi user connectivity
  • DimDim: Open Source version of WebEx. Share the desktop chat with a group. Most Functional of all applications.
  • MeBeam: Easiest of all to use. You dont even need an account

Collaboration Sites: See slideshow for hyperlinks

  • CILC: Colaboration site for teacher student projects
  • Beyond the classroom: Ning site where you can join like minded teachers

Friday, October 3, 2008

Move Over Survey Monkey Google Forms is here and its Free

A great tool for teachers or students to collect data is a survey. Survey Monkey was the Web standard, but there is a small fee involved. However, Google Forms is powerful enough for most surveys and you are not limited to the number of surveys you send out. It does not have the disaggregation of data tools that Survey Monkey has but you can't beat the price. Free

Video on Creating a Survey
Check out out the created survey

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Top 10 Google Apps for Educators

Google has done a such a great job developing applications for the masses. This concentrates on the one that you can use in your classroom.

10. Gmail: Google Tutorial Video

  • You don't have to look any further than Stanford University the alma mater of the Google founders to look how easy this is to use and implement. This is simple outsourcing solution for your email, servers, personnel, and spam blockers. All this for free and if you are a non-profit (which if you are reading this you probably are) Google will allow you to forgo the ads. The only negative is with popularity of push email you are limited to a blackberry device. Your only option for all other devices is to set you mobile device to check at designated time increments. A great alternative for student email is ePals.

9. Google Knols: Google's Intro to Knol

  • It is tough to put your finger on what Google Knol actually is. It is some where between Wikipedia and Yahoo Answers. However, it is a great place to "publish" student work on a particular topic and give students an authentic world wide audience. You will find articles from Bass fishing to Quantum Physics. The negative... If a student had a deadline for a research paper due the next day, they might be tempted to cut and paste a knol and use it as their own work.

8. Google Book Search: Google Book Search Site

  • Have you ever read a book for academic purposes or for pleasure and tried to remember your favorite quote. Then years later you try to find the quote by thumbing through the pages and the frustration of spending thirty minutes and finding nothing. Well Google once again has the answer. Google Book Search. Find your favorite quotes from practically any book you have ever read. There is some copyright issues, so not all books are included, but all the classics can be searched and read online. (From a historical point of view what an incredible feat to have all the great works of literature digitized)

7. Google Custom Search: GCS Site

  • Do you ever get tired of sifting through the entire Internet only to find the perfect site ten pages into your Google search or watching your students get frustrated as they search and search and still do not come up with the results you prefer. Google Custom Search (GCS) solves those issues. With a few simple clicks you can set up a search engine that only searches the website you select. So you get quality and safe results. In addition, if you are not profit you can select to remove the ads from your search results or you can add AdSense for a school fundraiser. Classroom Example.

6. Google Sites: Intro Video to Google Sites

  • Google's website platform is a hybrid Web page / Wiki. If you choose to be the sole publisher it operates like a website that you create a classroom website to publish information for parents or students. If you add collaborators students can help you publish classroom documents, videos, or projects. Here is a classroom example.

5. Google Calendar: Google Calendar Tutorial

  • You can organize your class events, lesson plans, and tests. One of the greatest features of Google calender is that it allows you to embed it into your website for your class to see. It accepts iCal and MS Outlook invitations.

4. Google Image Search: Google Image Search Site

  • A picture is worth a thousand words. Whether you are building a slide show or just need an example to show your students. This is where you need to start. One negative is that inappropriate images sometimes make it into your search results. Careful teachers should test before they encourage their students to use this.

3. Google Reader: Google Reader Tutorial

  • Do you have a list of blogs, podcast, news sites, or wikis that you are constantly following. Subscribe to them using Google Reader. Have content pushed to you instead of looking for updates.

2. Google Notebook: Google Notebook Tutorial Video

  • Collaborate and share instantly using Google Notebook. Open a notebook and invite collaborators and watch as updates happen in real time. Move notes around, cut and paste pictures, and watch your dynamic notes take any form you would like. After notes are completed publish them to the web as a website. Google does it all.

1. Google Docs 4 in 1: Google Docs Tutorial Video

  • Google Document: Google's answer to MS Word. Has all the main functions of a Word processor, plus you can invite collaborators and chat with them all inside Google Document. Imports .doc, .pdf, but not Clarisworks, Appleworks or iWork. Publish final draft as a web page. Basic Example
  • Google Spreadsheet: Very simple spreadsheet application, but it is improving on a daily basis. It will do 98% of all the work you need. Imports .xls and most other spreadsheet formats. Publish final draft as a web page
  • Google Slide show: Google version of PowerPoint is simple elegant and easy to use plus like with all Google applications you can invite collaborators to work along with you. When you are done you can publish to the web or embed it in your own site. Imports .ppt files but it will not import the slide transitions or animations. Basic Example
  • Google Forms: Create surveys or quizzes using Google forms. Then watch as your data updates in real time in a Google spreadsheet. Make graphs to analyze your data. Basic Example
  • Templates for all Google Docs

Honorable Mention:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Google Custom Search Engine

Ten years ago when the very first computers with Internet access rolled into my classroom I was so excited. I could finally have the students research in the classroom with the world at their finger tips. However my dreams were quickly pulled back when I got the district's user agreement that said the students could only go to the website that we deemed necessary and that they should never be able to search the Internet. In the Administration's opinion searching the Internet was a time waste with shadowy results. I was opposed to this opinion because while there is great information on the Internet I believed the important thing was for the students to sift through the plethora of information and find Internet "gold" that they needed. That opinion quickly changed when I typed in Reconstruction the night before to gather up more information on the time period after the Civil War. The results were not what I was expecting, I got a full page of "Breast Reconstruction" I just thought what if I had my students do this without checking. I literally dodged a bullet.

Now fast forward to the present... Google (oh the greatness of Google) has enable the average person to create there own Custom Search Engine that only searches the websites that are inputed by the developer. It is simple and easy solution. Now I have the best of both worlds safe and quality results that will also teach the students to sift through information.

Give my CSE a try let me know what you think. If you have site that you would like for me to add please leave them in the comments section.

Here is Google's site on creating your own custom search engine. http://www.google.com/coop/cse/

Monday, May 19, 2008

Distance Learning 2.0

In the past Distance Learning has conjured up thoughts of expensive carts, hard to work equipment and one way content providers. This model has worked exceedingly well in the past and there will always be a place for it. However, with free Internet conferencing software such as Skype and webcams that can be purchased for less than fifty dollars the future of distance learning resides at a micro level. Teachers willing to collaborate with classrooms inside the district, state, country and world will give their students an authentic audience to make the work they do more genuine.

The two biggest obstacles to face in Micro Distance Learning are who and what. To both of these obstacles I would say start small and stick with the familiar. Do you have a fellow teacher friend that would be willing to be a risk taker and collaborate on a common topic? Send them an email with an idea and tell them to download Skype from there you can conference together by talking.

Distance Learning 2.0 Example: Two first grade classes from Houston and Ft. Worth, Texas will be using Skype and a built in extension called Whiteboard to play “pictionary” using terms they have learned in class.

Please leave a comment if you are interested in connecting with a classroom in Texas.

Skype (click to download)
Skype whiteboard extention (click to download)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Five Great Sites to download FREE Audio books and e-books

With iPods, mp3 players, PDA’s and Smartphone’s becoming a staple in today technoholic world I have comprised a list of free sites which you can download e-books and audio books at no cost. Audio books are great to listen to while in the dole drum of traffic or long road trips. You might as well get smarter with all the time you spend in the car. So whether you are in traffic or at the gym try putting some classics on your device.

Most of these books are classics so they are great for students and children who want get acquainted with great pieces of literature.

Project Gutenberg: Has both e-books and Audio books

LibriVox: Excellent site with a twist

  • Audio Books
    http://librivox.org/ Incredible selections with a Web 2.0 twist you can not only download books but you can record your own and upload them for others to listen to.

Infomotions: Large collections of public domain books

Learn Out Loud: Books, speeches, and topical lectures this site has it all

  • Audio Books
    http://www.learnoutloud.com/ There is a paid version of this site but stay with the free stuff. Excellent resource for historical speeches.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Job’s for Students in the 21st Century Classroom

How much has education changed in the last 100 years. Students arrive at school and go to their classrooms to sit in their desk arranged in a nice and tidy five by five rows. We must break this mold if we are going to engage our students in the 21st Century and keep up with the rapidly paced global economy.

Here are some suggested strategies to break the mold. I wish I could tell you these are my ideas, but I can’t they are Alan November’s who I recently heard speak at the Texas DLA conference. http://www.txdla.org/

Academic Review Team:
• Students will create a daily / weekly review of what they learned during class time and publish it to the web in the form of a podcast, blog, or a link on the teacher website.
• Example: http://www.birdville.k12.tx.us/schools/116/teachers/grizzelle/jgrizzelle.html

Tutorial Team:
• Students will create and publish to the web mini tutorials that explain concepts so students can review on their own time.
• Example: Slope Tutorial (Click Link) This is done by a teacher rather than a student but is an excellent example

Daily Researcher:
• Choose a student that will research questions that come up during the day. This student should have access to a computer with an internet connection. Search results should be posted on a blog or website for future reference
• Example: While lecturing a student ask a question that the teacher does not know possibly an extension to what was supposed to be taught that day. The teacher notifies the researcher and he/she looks it up on the web and gives a concise definition or tutorial.

Global Communication Team:
• Students will build relationships with classrooms within the district, state, country and world to make learning more engaging and meaningful.
• Example: While studying about the American Revolution students will contact a classroom in England and discuss point of view between how each country’s history books discuss the war.
o Free software such as Skype will enable classrooms to communicate
o http://www.skype.com/ to download.

Daily Scribe:
• Classroom note taker or note takers. Students will collaboratively take notes in a place where everyone can read and modify.
• Example: Students use an online document creator such as Google Docs to collaborate with other students within the classroom and can be saved to add and subtract through out the year. Also notes can be studied at any internet enabled computer.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Installing Ubuntu on an iMac G3

While surfing Craigslist the other day I came across an old Blueberry iMac G3 with a 266 mhz processor, 64mb of RAM and huge 5 gb hard drive; but the best part of this was that it was $30. For that price I would have been a fool not buy it. I got it home started it up and thought that $30 was way too high. The OS was slow and the most recent browser that you could download was Netscape 5. Oops. So what was I supposed to do with this behemoth.

Well that's when the experimentation began. I download the alternate CD version of Xubuntu an official derivative of Ubuntu using the xfce desktop environment and burned the image to a CD. I did this several time because the boot disk was bad each time. I finally got a working copy by burning it at the slowest speed allowable. The install was a very slow process it took around two hours for the install to complete. But what a wonderful sight to see the boot up work and Xubuntu install. I immediately started to download all the educational software that is available since its primary use will be by my 20 month old. (I know its a little early but it was $30) The install was great. The computer runs quick not fast just quick. Quite frankly, I have been overly impressed with the OS. I would highly recommend.

Downfall: Every good thing has something that just doesn't go right. Xubuntu comes with Firefox which is the greatest browser. However, I cannot get a working version of Adobe Flash to install. I have found versions for the x86 just not the PPC processor. Any recommendations would be appreciated. In the spirit of sharing.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Instead of Broadcast Yourself how about Teach Yourself and others

What does it take to motivate or engage the digital native? In the age YouTube and "broadcast yourself" we must meet our students on their playing field or risk losing them. Students need to be able to create their own educational content and learn from each other. We can all agree that we really did not know our subject until we started teaching it. Why would this be any different for our students?

A teacher from one of my schools came up with a great idea. He has his students writing up TAKS Science skits and digitally recording them to burn them to a DVD for students to watch and review before the TAKS Exam. (Ruby Payne would be so proud) As standardized testing becomes more and more prominent we owe it to our students to make learning fun / engaging.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Future

Are we preparing our students for the jobs of the future? Do you remember the Polaroid cameras that were popular during the 1970’s and 80’s or at least know the line from the OutKast song “Shake it like a Polaroid picture.” Polaroid failed to embrace the digital age of photography and a global company that boasted 21,000 employees in 1978 now has a meager 150 employees.

What technology are you afraid to embrace? Do you want to try something new?

Don't be left out be on the cutting edge

Here is the NY Times article that inspired this.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Every Country in the World

The internet is such a great place to learn and to network. I decided to combine these great attributes as a learning tool for students. Every Country In The World is a blog where visitors can leave a comment about the place they live and tidbit about their culture. So, if you know anyone who lives in an interesting place send them this link and let's learn together.


Monday, January 28, 2008

The Top Ten Open Source Applications for Educators

Open Source is a great resource for educators not only because it is free, but many times you can find specific applications for your needs. Click through the Google slide show and click on the links if you would like to download any of the applications.

Please comment on any that I may have left out

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The World is Flat

Last week at one of my low socio-economic schools we connected interactively to a Japanese classroom using a program called Skype. Students prepared questions about each others culture and the lesson culminated with each class teaching the other class how to count to ten in their respective language. Skype is free download that connects users via the Internet using a webcam and computer speakers to make a video conference call for free. (The paid version allows you to call telephones anywhere in the world for a fraction of the price)

For more information or even to download go to http://www.skype.com/
Here is the equipment that we used...