Monday, March 29, 2010

Twitter: The beginning of a Personal Learning Network

When Twitter was first introduced in my district I saw it as a little more than a time waste and another Facebook to keep up with. However, this Christmas I got a HTC Hero powered by Google Android I downloaded the Twitter App Twitdroid and gave twitter a try. I subscribed to some people already avid tweeters and I started learning a plethora if information in my field. I was amazed by the quality results and interesting articles that the tweets led me to here are just a few.

Symbols that will help you navigate the Twitterverse:
@: When someone mentions another user they attach the @
#: When reference a particular subject include a # mark. Popular #'s #education, #edtech, #edchat,

Popular Twitter Apps for Desktop and Mobile Devices:
TweetDeck: for the Desktop works on all platforms PC, Mac, Linux and iPhone.
Echofon: Works with Mac, iPhone and Firefox extension.
Twitdroid: Twitter for Android mobile devices

What I have learned from twitter in the last two weeks...
Dual Language Blog Post

20 + Ways to use Flip Video Cameras in the classroom

Great iPhone Apps for Developing Mathematical Concepts

iPod touch. Touching student lives in the classroom

Using movies to teach curriclulum

Changing Roll of Tech Support

Video game about the Norman Conquest

Screencasting on iPhone or iTouch

Using Moodle in the Classroom

Games for Elementary Students

Fun Theory and Student Engagement

Philip Schlechty has probably made a great deal of money and even created a buzz word in education "Student Engagement" with a theory I deciphered my first couple of years as classroom teacher. I realized that if students were tricked into having fun while they learned it made it much easier on everyone involved. I taught seventh graders and I rarely had one come up to me after class and tell me what a great lesson I had taught, but I did have students tell me "that class went by so fast." This supported the old adage "Time flys when your are having fun." That's when I knew I had succeeded in making a lesson fun/engaging.

Schlechty switched fun with engagement and the rest is history.

Here is the video that inspired the post...

Friday, March 26, 2010

Free Books: Listen or Read

The University of South Florida has an incredible database of online and audio books for the incredible price of FREE. There is a plethora of classic novels and children's books and stories. Here is the link to the University South of Florida website however if you have an iPod or iTunes installed on your computer they have an incredible storefront in iTunes U.

There are also free books available on the Kindle, but did you know that you do not have to have a Kindle to read ebooks? You can get the Kindle software on your Mac, Pc, or iPhone/iPod Touch. You might also want to try Stanza book reader from the iTunes App store where you can access the Gutenberg database.

Out of the 1000's of Audio books from USF here are a few of my favorites.
Educational Uses:
  • Available for students 24/7
  • Low level readers can listen and read along
  • Visually impaired students or other special needs.
  • Great for ESL/ELL students

Thursday, March 25, 2010

TxDla Wrap Up: Cool Sessions and Cool Ideas

Video Game that Teaches History:
Florida Virtual School is pioneering online education with the development of a series of complete digital game-based courses to teach American History. Go check out the game... Conspiracy Code Programmers worked at Electronic Arts before branching off to form 360ed.

Twitter Goes to School, Telling Stories Through Digital Threads:
Incredible presentation on piecing together history using twitter during the Iranian Elections
Here is the link to a prior presentation. Chris Bigenho's blog.

Web 2.0 Applications:
Great resource of Web 2.0 Apps for classroom use. Here is a link to Dr. Mark E. Workman's Wiki

Web 2.0 Applications: Alternatives to the Same, Old PowerPoint.
Not only did Randy Rodgers talk about Web 2.0 Apps he used them in his presentation. Incredible repository of Web 2.0 Apps and projects. Go check them out on his blog.

Evidence-based Instructional Design:
All their online instructions is based on these four "Brilliant Concepts"

  • Build on a Concrete Concept...
    There is no way I can learn what you want me to learn if I don’t know what you’re talking about.
  • Reflective Observation...
    If I can carry on a conversation with others about what you want me to know it helps all of us understand it better.
  • If I can take what it is you want me to know from the classroom and convert it into ideas, plans, and actions for the "real-world,” I've got a pretty good handle on it.
  • The best way I can show you that I learned something is to use it in a creative way. (This was my favorite point of the session)

Student-developed Video Projects-- You Can Too:

Tommy Beardon from ESC Region 14 showed project after project that students developed to teach other students across the United States. My personal favorite was the the Rattle Snake presentation. Here are the links he gave us to review..

Thursday, March 11, 2010

ManyCam: Free Webcam Software that makes your Cam come Alive

ManyCam allows your webcam to come alive. It allows you to add effects to your video stream, use your cam with more that one program at a time, add text to your video feed, and also allows green screen effect with downloadable backgrounds. You students will love the avatars. It is available for both Windows and Mac OS's

Educational uses:
  • Read stories as an character in the book
  • Watermark your lectures for your website
  • Let students create video reviews of books or movies

Go try it... ManyCam Webcam Software

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Webresizer: When Your Picture has to be Just the Right Size

This web based tool allows you to upload pictures and resize them to the optimal size to post on your website, blog or document. You can resize them, shrink the file size and keep the shape, or do very simple edits.
Go Try it... Web Resizer

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Convert .PDF files to Word or .RTF

This is the easiest and best site I have found to convert .pdf to word files. One of the things I like best is that it does not ask for your personal information.

Go try it... BCL Techonlogy

Monday, March 8, 2010 is a great resource for K-12 Science teachers for interactive Science lessons and learning tools. Learingscience is a repository for tested website and organized by grade level and cirruculum standard.

Educational Applications:

  • Self-passed learning

  • Practice after teaching concept

Thursday, March 4, 2010

iTunes U: Learning Anything, Anywhere, Anytime

John Couch the VP of Applc Education visited Birdville ISD on Tuesday and enlightened us on the incredible resource of iTunes U. Hundreds of accredited universities such as Oxford, Stanford, and Yale have uploaded professor's lectures so you can take the courses for free over the Internet. Unfortunately they do not come with a degree, but the courses are free. Maybe you are interested in Quantum Physics or World War II... There is a class for that. Take courses from around the world from your computer, iPod, iTouch, or iPhone. "Learning Anything, Anytime, Anywhere." Turn off the TV and turn on iTunes U.

Another interesting site he showed us was the Khan Academy a great place for instructional videos from an expert in the field.

Overview of iTunes U:

Roll The Dice: Teaching Probablility in the 21st Century

If you ever need a pair of dice to teach probability on the projector, this is a great tool to have around. Choose the number of dice you would like and click roll.

Go Check it out...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Collaborative Web Sites: Draw and Analyze with Others

Several months ago I shared Flockdraw a simple collaboration tool that enabled teachers or students to share content across the classrooms. One of Flockdraw's strength was its simplicity, so you might be ready to move on to a full featured collaboration tool. I am going to share two more that are powerful collaboration tools for the classroom.
Dabbleboard & CoSketch are Web 2.0 collaboration sites, unlike Flockdraw you can import your own images to modify, manipulate and share.

Educational Examples:

  • Upload a battle map and have students draw troop movements
  • Upload a picture and separate into quadrants for a "History Alive" type of analysis
  • Challenge another class down the hall or across the globe to a game of Vocabulary "Pictionary"

Tag Galaxy

Tag Galaxy is a fun and interactive way to find tagged images on the internet. It takes you through the "solar system" of the web until you reach your final destination a world full of pictures. Go try it... TagGalaxy