Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Way We Think

Thomas Friedman, author of The World is Flat, and Al Gore, author of numerous books and a former Vice President, both offer commentaries on how the technology revolution is changing the way we think, operate, and educate. Take some time to read these recent pieces by both that appeared in the popular press, and leave a reply.

Thomas Friedman, editorial, New York Times,


It’s P.Q. and C.Q. as Much as I.Q.

Al Gore on How the Internet is Changing the Way We Think

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Connecting Classes

Looking to connect your students with other students through blogging. If you teach grades 1 and higher, you should check this blog to make connections: The Comments4Kids.

Even if your students are not blogging, they can still comment on other students' blogs. The Comments4Kids blog posts information about classes who are looking for others to write replies to blog posts.

The Comments4Kids would also be a good blog to follow in your Google Reader. William Chamberlain, a middle school teacher, maintains the blog and updates it often.

Seeking Websites and Apps to Integrate Into Your Classroom

Check Jacqui Murray's resource pages for websites and apps. Click on the images below to access each of these. Let us know what websites or apps you find that you believe other teachers should know about. Let us know if you're using any of the recommended sites or apps. Which might you consider for the future? Note these resources are primarily for grades K-6, but some are applicable to other grades.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Crash Course: YouTube Channel--How Students Study Today

Yes, students use YouTube to help them study for school. CrashCourse offers some excellent and entertaining videos for students to brush up on what they're studying in English, social studies, and science classes. Check this list below of subject areas and the number of videos presently in each category.

Even if you don't teach high school, you should be aware that high school and even middle school students are going to sites such as CrashCourse and other sites to review for school.

I am posting three examples from CrashCourse to give you an idea of how the videos work and their quality. I have sent some high school students to CrashCourse, and they reported the site was helpful.

Here are two for English classes: one on Emily Dickinson and one on Catcher in the Rye:

Here's one for social studies:

Check CrashCourse to see the collections of videos available. How do you feel about students using sites such as CrashCourse? Would you send your students to such a site? Should you as a teacher be aware of the kinds of videos available online to help students study? Do you provide a list of videos for your students to review at home?

Get Going with KidBlog

Looking for some additional information on using KidBlog. The first video takes you through a teacher's and student's explanation of the why's and how's of KidBlog, and the second video is a quick overview of how to get started with KidBlog. Let me know if these videos are helpful to you. Post a comment.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Voice of the Active Learner

Scott, Boylen, the teacher whom two of the sections of Integrating Technology and Literacy hooked up with for the KidBlog exchange, posted this video on Twitter. Thought I would share it with you. Am interested in your reaction to it. The connections with Scott's classes will continue, but now the Manchester Cohort will also (maybe?) set up their own KidBlogs for the students in Iowa to write responses.

Okay, those in the cohorts, what do you think would make a good topic to use for the Manchester Cohort students to use for their first post on KidBlog?

So, here's the video Scott shared. How do you think his 7th and 8th graders will react?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Impending Snow Day

In hopes of a snow day, this group of students produced this video.  The video was shown at a conference I attended Saturday (virtually--I was in Connecticut--the conference was in Philly.)

What's your response to the video? Speaking of multi-literacies, note the communication skills these students use.

Other videos from the conference were archived at this site, including one featuring Will Richardson, author of Blogs, Wikis, and Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for the Classroom. 

There's two by Richardson at the link, one he delivered last June at the International Society for Technology and Education (ISTE) and one he delivered at this weekend's conference in Philly, "Why School?" Hold on to these two in the event we do, indeed, have a snow day (well snow night):

ISTE Presentation:

This second one is a full recording of a live presentation that went for an hour, so definitely good for saving when you have the time. The beginning is a bit scratchy as equipment is getting set up, and remember this is a live recording of a presentation as it was happening.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Trying Out Another Video Editing Site

Seeking alternatives to Animoto, I tried the WeVideo site tonight. This was a first attempt. On a second attempt, I recorded narration and removed the template.  I am still awaiting delivery of that video to my in-box, but in the meantime, here's the first draft for sharing. I had to change the dimensions to fit the video into the blog, but you can use the full-screen mode to blow it up.

My reactions to WeVideo are still mixed, but I was looking for options for those who don't have MovieMaker, iMovie, or another movie editing program on their computers. So I thought I would explore some online movie editing sites. Let me know of any good ones you've come across. If the second attempt comes out better than this one, I'll post it.

Our Digital Dossier: The World We Live In

  • What does it mean to grow up today in a world where much of one's life is captured digitally? 
  • Watch this video of a hypothetical person, Andy, from embryo onwards. 
  • What thoughts does the video leave you with?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tips for Using Google Drive

If you're new to Google Drive or just looking for some tips to enhance your skills with using Google Drive, I highly recommend you check out this blog post my one of my favorite bloggers, Richard Byrne.

The Writing Process

Stacy, a 4th grade teacher, in the West Hartford Cohort created this Animoto on the Writing Process as a way to introduce her elementary students to the writing process: "The Writing Process." 
The Animoto video is a helpful way to get discussion going about the research process. Once students view the video, a teacher can then lead them through a discussion of how what they watched will apply to their upcoming project. Look at the video, and then think of ways in which you can use Animoto to introduce an upcoming project in your class. Share your ideas by leaving a comment.

Click on the picture or the hyperlink below it to access the video at the Animoto site.

The Writing Process

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Do You Want to Encourage Your Students to Read More?

Pernille Ripp, a 5th grade teacher from Wisconsin and an avid blogger, shares strategies she uses with her students to engage them in the reading process. I invite you to check her blog post and to share here which ideas she offers that you would implement as well. Click on the picture to link to her post.

This image is from her blog post and attributed there and in the screen capture.
And if you want to see what her students are writing, check their KidBlog posts, to which we will be responding as an upcoming class project.

If you teach 4th through 6th grade, you also might want to connect with Mrs. Pernille to see if she would like your students to write replies on her students' posts.

Teachers Care

I usually don't create posts such as this one, but a colleague in a course I am taking posted it on Google+ in our class community. It was created by a teacher in her school, and it has already received over 6,00 hits on YouTube since it was posted there recently. Regardless of what age you teach or the work you do, this video should resonate. Let me know what you think of it. You can also visit the video at YouTube, and read some of the comments there.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Haiku Deck

Haiku Deck allows you to create visually oriented slide shows with some text. It is easy to use, and young children could easily create one. Recently, I came across a few that will illustrate how Haiku Deck works. I am posting one that addresses bullying, and which could be used to promote a discussion of citizenship and character building. If you use iPads in your teaching or own an iPad, you might want to download this app and start playing with it. It can easily be used by all age groups.
Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Need Photos for Your Blog Posts

Check Flickr's Creative Commons to find photos you can freely use on your blog according to the licensing restrictions. Some are free to use unaltered, whereas other can be altered. For most you need to attribute the source, and Flickr makes this easy. If you already have a Flickr account, and want to stockpile photos to use in the future, you can save them as favorites or in a gallery. You don't need a Flickr account, however, if you just want to grab some photos occasionally. Simply use the Flickr Creative Commons to get what you want on as needed basis.

Recently. Flickr wrote a post celebrating the 5th Anniversary of its Flickr Commons. Check the post for information on how to use the Commons to find photos. Here is an example of a photo I found there today that struck me of interest simply because it's eye catching. I used the embed code to place both the photo and attribution easily into this blog post.

cc licensed ( ) flickr photo shared by National Maritime Museum

Here is a photo that I found that spoke to my teaching philosophy especially when bringing technology into the classroom.

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by gcouros

Here is what the attribution boxes look like in Flickr for photos that can be shared with attribution. You have two choices.

  • Method 1: copy the embed code (Attribution HTML), which will copy both the picture and the attribution into HTML screen (see the html option in the Blogger toolbar) 
  • Method 2: Copy the attribution information (Attribution Text), which you can then simply copy in your blog after you have inserted the photo that you have downloaded and inserted. 
Illustrations below: Attribution (HTML) or Attribution (text)

Smartboard and Smart Notes Info

I recently came across two excellent posts on a blog about use of the Smartboard and some interactive activities in Smart Notes should you have that installed. Here are links to find the information:

Let us know if these two posts are helpful to you, and share any other ideas you have for using the Smartboard and activities on it that you find helpful to student learning. 

Thanks to Jen Deyenberg for posting this information on her blog.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Capturing an Image on the Screen

When you find an image on a computer screen that you want to capture (take a snapshot of), there are several ways to do it. For some fast advice, visit this blog post from Deb Norton's Sharing Tech blog post "Ways to Get a Screen Capture."

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Do You Know Your State Geography?

This video is a fun way to review state facts and could be integrated into the classroom several ways. For younger students, you could play it through once, and then replay it and pause in places for discussion. For older students, you can figure out a variety ways to use the video. If you do state projects with students, this video might give students some ideas of how they might report back on what they're learning. After watching the video, consider how this video could be implemented in the classroom. What ideas do you have? What did you think of the video?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Tap Into Your Creative Self

I'm taking a course now, and the story of why is a story for another day. In the meantime, someone in the course shared this video on her blog, and thought I would pass it along to see if it inspires others. Let me know.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Who Doesn't Love a Comic?

There are lots of comic-making tools available to use with your students. Consider how creating comic strips in your class can promote creativity, storytelling, conversation, collaboration, and reading and writing skills. Bitstrips for Schools is part of the Bitstrips site. This component allows teachers to set up a class site. At the site,  students not only create comics, but also view one another's comics and write replies.

Check the site, specifically the Bitstrips for Schools, and set up a class account when you're ready. Experiment first yourself with the site, creating a comic strip you want to share with your class. Your students can view it on the website, or once you start a class blog, you can embed your creation there, as I am here. Use the arrow keys to move through the panels.

You can also do a screen capture and display the full comic as an image.

In the meantime, I've set up a class account, so just let me know when you want to start experimenting, and I'll give you the access code.

Young Children Creating Read-Aloud Storybooks

Storybird is a website and can also be downloaded as an app. Students create their own books by drawing, typing some text, and possibly recording their voice. Here is one example. To learn more about the tool, check this blog post by a kindergarten teacher, Mr. Gomez: Little Bird Tales--Digital Storytelling. After reading through his post, and possibly exploring the tool yourself, would you recommend this tool to teachers K-2? Why or why not? Make sure you have the volume turned up while viewing the story.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Watch These First Graders on the iPads

Speaking about literacy skills, watch how these first graders engage in a poetry workshop and how the teacher organizes it. What's your take on this kind of workshop? How are you feeling about iPad integration into the lower grades? Do you see them as valuable tools for promoting students' literacy skills?

Click on the image to view the video in Vimeo.

Down and Up the Slope of Challenges

Keeping up with technology and the new tools can be a challenge. But watch how this 4th grader dealt with the challenge of ski slope. Plus, tech challenges have no broken bones.

Okay, now you should be ready for the challenges of using tech tools and integrating them into your teaching, right?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Quick, Effective Literacy Activity

Six-Word Memoirs is an easy activity to implement in the classroom. This activity could be done with students of any age and with any materials, including paper and pencil. However, it would also be fun to do it with computer tools and post some of the memories online. It works like this:
  • Think of 6 words who define you or tell your life story--form a 6-word sentence--how you arrange the words helps
  • Find an image to go along with the sentence
Students can find the picture that represents them first and then write the sentence, or do the activity in reverse. Most of all, figure out a way for students to share these memoirs with one another and others. 

Here is some information about the project, which includes images of 6-word memoirs. 

Illustrated Six-Word Memoirs by Students from Grade School to Grad School

Here is a video explaining the concept of the 6-week memoir, a technique derived from writer Ernest Hemingway. The video contains tips for creating the memoirs. 

Here is an example of a series of 6-word memoirs from a high school students who gathered theirs into a video and posted the video on YouTube.

Although simple, the activity can create a fun, interactive, and reflective learning environment.

Have you tried this activity in your classroom? If so, how did it go? If you have not, would you consider it, and how would you proceed to implement it? How would you have students share--among themselves, or in a more public way, like the video above? Regardless of the age level you teach, keep in mind this activity can be adapted to fit the learners' literacy skills.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Digital Learners

I was on YouTube viewing a video, and this one listed in the sidebar caught my eye, Youth and Digital Learning. It was uploaded to YouTube in 2006, but wondering about its relevance today. Has the situation changed much since then? Does this video speak to how kids are today? If you were to update this video, what would you add, change, or delete?