March 14th, 2012 — Uncategorized
In order to be successful in anything a person must overcome fear. I know this is a part of any learning process, especially as we all mature. As we each experience more things in this wonderful world of ours, we identify many possible dangers.
Normally, this is a good thing, for example it teaches us that it might not be a good idea to hand feed a bear. Or tease a tiger.
The problem with seeing danger everywhere is that it often prohibits us from trying new things and taking chances. Technology changes so rapidly that as soon as you become comfortable with a new tool or program you find out that it has already been replaced by something even newer.
A fear of technology is often referred to as “Technophobia.” I know there a quite a few people at my school who are technophobic. I think this is a common thing in all schools because teachers are considered experts, but technology presents the problem of never being an expert. I know I am not an expert, I am immersed in educational technology daily, but that doesn’t make me an expert, just experienced.
I came across a Webinar from SimpleK12 on Technophobia that I thought might help all of us. SimpleK12 is a teacher learning community that sends me emails periodically and offers many good free things as well as some things you can buy. Personally, I only use the free things, but that is a financial decision not a knock on their services.
I can’t embed the video but you can see it in its entirety from this link -> Fear Technology No More!
The buildup in the email I received was the following;
Do you have any of these Symptoms of Techphobia?
* Do you think technology is TOO expensive?
* Are you afraid of breaking your computer?
* Do you think technology is difficult to learn?
* Have you given up on getting sites unblocked at your
* Are you wondering why you should change your traditional
If you answered yes to any of these… then YOU MUST watch this
I hope that you will take the time to watch it!
January 31st, 2012 — Uncategorized Tagged 21st century skills, communication, free, tool, Wiki, wikispace
Wikis are such a wonderful free tool for teachers to use I thought I would briefly share this topic again. Yes, I am aware that I just posted about Wikis in November (see What is a Wiki), but I think it could stand to be mentioned again.
There are many reasons why I promote the use of this tool, including how incredibly easy it is to use. Wikis allow a teacher to post whatever they would like, text, video, pictures and links to other material. Revising web pages is an important need for anyone who uses the web, and that ability to go back to a previous state, in case an error is made, can save you a lot of heartache. One of the things that many people overlook is the ability to use the discussion tool. Don’t forget, communication is a 21st Century skill… But the biggest advantage is that it is available to use anywhere with a Internet connection- it is not limited to just a tool we can use at school. Learning and work do not have to be tied to any particular place or time.
Wikispaces is my personal favorite free tool to use. There are clear directions to set up the Wiki and I love the price- Free!
Go to GLE Test to see a sample wiki you can edit.
Some wikis to see how others use them-
Voicethread 4 Education
K-5 Computer Lab Activities
Glenwood Whale Watchers
Let me know how I can help you set up and use a wiki today!
January 26th, 2012 — Uncategorized Tagged camera, maker, movie, tool, video, windows
Windows Live Movie Maker is a powerful free tool that gives the user the ability to make some pretty good movies. Titles, credits, transitions and visual effects are all available. There are also many output options for the finished product so that it can be tailored to the way the producer wants to use the movie.
The program used to be called Windows Movie Maker and it was pretty good before it was changed to its current form, but really the only change to it is in the way the Tool Bar is laid out in a Ribbon form similar to Office 2010 products.
If you are at school you can download this file- Using Windows Live Movie Maker, and follow the directions to create a movie. If you aren’t at school, you will need to substitute your own raw movie footage, title picture, and mp3 file. You can use the directions to complete your movie just with your own files.
Video files can be taken from digital cameras, flip cameras or even your Web Cam. You can use the video files as long as the file from your device is in an AVI format, an WMV format, or even few other lesser known formats such as; .mov, .m1v, .mpg, .mpe, .m1v, .mp2, .mpv2, .mod, .vob, .dvr-ms, .wtv, .m2ts, .m2t.
Windows Live Essentials: Movie Maker
Getting Started Tutorial – Windows Live Movie Maker
Introduction and Walkthrough – Windows Live Movie Maker
Windows Live Movie Maker Tutorial – Part 1
Windows Live Movie Maker Tutorial – 2
If you have never used any of the Windows movie maker tools I think you will be surprised at how easy it is to make a good looking movie in only a few minutes!
January 11th, 2012 — Uncategorized Tagged ActivExpressions, ActivInspire, activity, IWB, Learner Response System, Promethean, question manager, Quiz, self-paced
Interactive whiteboards have brought so many wonderful changes to classroom instruction, but the most powerful change is the use of response systems for self-paced learning. Individualized instruction is a goal of every teacher; to give each student specifically what they need to be successful. It is often a very difficult task to make this happen in a classroom, but by using ActivExpressions and the Question Manager feature of ActivInspire, you can take control of self-paced learning and make it work for you!
One of the benefits of setting up learning so that your students control their own learning is that it is highly motivating for most students because it empowers them to take control of their own learning. While all students are engaged, it frees the instructor to check on all learners and assist those that continue to struggle. Question Manager is one of the easiest ways to make self-paced learning happen in your classroom today.
So how do I set this up?
Open ActivInspire, and Select> Insert > Questions. The Question Manger will open. Click on Type here to add a new question and type the question that you want to use.
Double-click on the blank box under Question Type and select the type of question you are asking from the dropdown menu.
Click in each box to insert your answer choices. If you want less than six choices, click the red x to eliminate that option.
Select the Correct Answer box next to the choice that is correct.
Select the number of correct responses if there is more than one correct answer.
If you want to set a time limit for the question, use the arrows to select the amount of time for students to submit an answer.
If you stop at this point you have created a single question slide. If you add another question you are creating a self-paced activity. Obviously, it would be very difficult to fill in this space with all the directions you would need to set up a complete self-paced activity, but the directions above get you started for the first question. If you click on the second question and repeat the process, you are well on your way.
Once you have typed in a question for number 2 you will notice a new field pops up on your questions grid; Level 1. This is telling you that your question is at level one. Now you can level your questions. Students will need to begin at level 1 before they can go to level 2.
Under the Test Properties tab on the right side of the Question Manager Screen you will find some important controls. Time limit is one of those. Set the time limit to the precise time you want to give the test, or beyond that time in case students take longer than expected.
You can change the level of questions, but after that, you may want to change the number of correct answers. This area tells how many questions you must answer before going to the next level. So a student may answer 5 out of 10 correct before being allowed to go to the next level.
Another important option is allowing students to retry incorrect answers. It may or may not be something that you would like to do, but don’t forget about this option when setting up your activity (it is a small check box). The last thing that you may want to consider is Randomize. This option puts the questions in different order for all of the users. So there can be no cheating! While the same question may pop up on two units that are side by side, the next question will be different.
As with any new tool, try it out on something small before you go and create something big! This Cheat Sheet may help.
December 21st, 2011 — Uncategorized Tagged Bookmarking, Diigo, Education, free, resources, save, Social
Since the creation of the Internet people have struggled to save their favorite locations on the World Wide Web. Netscape Navigator was the first fully functional web browser that incorporated what they named “Bookmarks.” Using this browser function one could save locations on the web so that they were easier to find. Internet Explorer calls this same feature, “Favorites,” but no matter what you call it, the idea is the same; you can save a location on the web to return to at a later time.
“That all sounds great, but I knew that!” you say to yourself.
But hold on, that is only the beginning of a new problem. After a while of surfing the web you end up with hundreds of valuable resources that you can’t even locate. Unless of course you are of the obsessive compulsive sort, in which case you have created numerous folders and placed links in those folders and put those inside other folders based on an initial category and then a sub category. And now you want to get a new computer and transfer the bookmarks from the old computer to the new computer. Or maybe you would like to share bookmarks between multiple computers. Perhaps your friend would love for you to share your awesome collection of bookmarks with him/her.
The browser based bookmark collection is not going to work very easily this way. Sure, you can export your bookmarks from one browser and then import them into another browser. But you will be constantly trying to keep your awesome collection up to date, moving between computers and friends, and in the back of your mind you will always know something is wrong with one or more of your collections.
Life doesn’t have to be this hard.
Social Bookmarking is the solution. This is a web based tool that is free and allows you to update your list from anywhere with a web connection. You can categorize your bookmarks based on keywords. The more words you use the easier it will be to find your resources. Sharing your bookmarks has never been easier- send a friend a link or get them to join the same network and friend each other. But the most important feature is that you can use the power of a group of people to your own benefit. The group will search out valuable resources and assign keywords and you can piggyback on their work.
Diigo is my preferred Social Bookmarking tool. At school I can install a little Diigolet script (you can too!) that I can access anytime I want to save a link, go to my library or share a page. I have become a member of a couple of groups (no pressure, no membership dues, just the good stuff) and I get a daily email of links that my group has collected. But Diggo is so much more fully functional! With it I can collect and organize almost anything; bookmarks, highlights, notes, screenshots, pictures, documents, audio, and bibliographies. I can also access my bookmarks on my Android smartphone, my Ipad, my school computers, my home computers, basically anywhere that can access the Internet.
I recently went to a conference that had tons of valuable resources but the Internet connect was horrible. No problem, I simply pulled out my phone, scanned QRcodes, opened the link in my phone’s browser, and added the link to my Diigo collection with only a couple of clicks and keyword entries. My resources were saved and I could focus on more learning.
There is a great Help Page for Diggo, and even video tutorials to get you started.
Let’s see, I mentioned that it is a social tool and getting others to work for you. I mentioned free. I explained the awesomeness of Diigo and how you can access it anywhere… What else am I forgetting?
Oh yes- why don’t you sign up today? Here are the directions and here is the Diigo Educator Account page. After you have signed up find me and follow me- I’ll follow you back!
December 14th, 2011 — Uncategorized Tagged gatro, gazette, newspaper, Ning, pictures, student, text, videos
A Ning is a Social Network. Similar to online tools like Facebook, a Ning allows you to post pictures, movies, status updates and blogs all the while maintaining a connection to your friends.
Our School Student Newspaper is a Ning. It is sponsored by Pearson, the same publishing company that provides our S.O.L. testing. About a year ago the Ning became a pay to use tool, but thankfully, Pearson stepped up and volunteered to pay for educational Nings.
Our Ning is called the Gator Gazette. The members of our Ning are teachers and staff members of Glenwood. To become a member you can go to the site and request membership, or just contact me. I only approve staff at our school as members because I do not want to take responsibility for the postings from outside out school from parents, or students. Ultimately, teachers can help to control what is posted by allowing only the best from his or her class to make it to the Gazette.
So, what kind of things can be posted? Pictures, videos and text. We do so many great things at Glenwood that it is a shame to not share it with the world. I know that everyone has one thing they did with their class, or witnessed that could be shared today.
Pictures are worth a thousand words, but sometimes a description is helpful! Are kids working on project? Take a picture and post it. Is there a fantastic piece of artwork hanging in the hall from one of your students? Take a picture post it and then send the link to the child’s parents. Did your class go on a great field trip and you caught a picture of the donkey eating a kid’s shirt (happened to me once)? Post it and ask for kids to fill in a thought bubble of what the donkey was thinking.
Videos are another digital media form can that can be easily be posted. Perhaps there is a performance or a class event that you captured – post it! Make a slide show of pictures from an event- there are many great ideas, ask me- I will be glad to help!
Of course text is easy to do since you just need to type it, but how would you get student’s work in text? Students type more and more things in school, so some of it is definitely copy worthy, right? Open the document that the student created, copy the text, and then paste it into a blog post. The post is then shown on the front page of the Gazette for everyone to see.
There are many great uses for our Gator Gazette, but student motivation is the best of all. How many kids love to show their parents what they have done on the wall in the classroom? I would be willing to bet they would love to see their work on the Gator Gazette, too!
November 28th, 2011 — Uncategorized Tagged collaberative, document, edit, online, pbworks, picture, students, teachers, videos, wetpaint, Wiki, wikispaces
A Wiki is an online tool that allows people to write collaboratively to create a document. Users can access the document simultaneously, or asynchronously. Wikis look no different than a blank web page, but that is just the beginning. Pictures can be added, links to other sites can be created and videos can be embedded directly into a Wiki. But don’t take my word for it!
A Wiki is the easiest way to personalize your own web page, and most of the Wikis you will find on the Internet are free! I recommend Wikispaces – http://www.wikispaces.com/content/for/teachers because you can create student accounts, set privacy, have a discussion board, see a history of what was done with your wiki (and revert to a previous version of the page if a mistake has been made) and set up notifications of what is happening on your Wiki.
Here is a Wiki that I created to tell you about Wikis, and a brief entry on this blog about Wikis from 2008.
A Wiki is a great tool that every teacher should use, even if it is for their own private use. What many people don’t realize is that SharePoint is a Wiki, a very controlled Wiki, but a Wiki nonetheless. With a few selections you can create your own web interface and you can create a fully editable Wiki on SharePoint! Perhaps I will share that this week afterschool…
I have used Wikis for organizing information to share when presenting to teachers and students. I have used this tool as a way to get students working together on a project. And I have used it as a personal storage location that I can keep things that no one else can get to but me.
I know all of this is kind of confusing, and I have used the word “wiki” an awful lot, but it is an awesome tool- try it out and you will see!
Here are some other Wiki Sites to look at-
November 16th, 2011 — Uncategorized Tagged ActivInspire, desktop, image, picture, Print Screen, record, screen capture, screencast, snip, video
Have you ever wanted to take a picture of the computer screen to share the image? Maybe your friendly neighborhood CRS says that he/she needs to see exactly what the error message says that is on your screen when you try to launch Internet Explorer. Or perhaps your boss insists that he/she never got the email that you know you sent because it is in your sent items list and you want to prove that you did send the email in question.
Well, let me tell you how you can do this- and more!
First, the basics… A screen capture is what you call the process of taking a picture of your computer screen. On Windows machines (XP, VISTA, and Windows 7) you can take a picture of what is on your screen by pressing the PRINT SCREEN key (Key may be marked PRTSC, Print Scrn or PRTSCN on some keyboards- usually located in the top right hand corner of the keyboard). What happens is that your computer takes a picture and the image is waiting in your virtual memory (the same was as when you use the Copy function), you can then Paste the screen capture into a Word document, e‑mail message, or other file.
Sometimes you may only want to capture just the window you are working in or the offending pop up message, the Active Window, and not the entire screen area. To do this Hold down the Alt key and then hit the Print Scrn key. Hit Paste in the Edit menu (or use Ctrl + V) to paste it into a document or email.
The screen capture function is just a basic tool in your tool box. Like the screw driver. You need a screwdriver, but there is a better option. Better than that is the screw driver with a built in ratchet- the Snipping Tool (click link to learn more). In Windows 7, and specifically on the computers at school, there is a little program called Snipping Tool that is available to use. You will find it listed in All Programs, and then in the Accessories Folder. The Snipping Tool captures a screen shot of anything on your desktop, like a picture or a section of webpage. You can snip a whole window, a rectangular section of the screen, or draw a freehand outline with your mouse around what you want to select. Then you can annotate, save, or e-mail the image using buttons right in the Snipping Tool window.
I like to think of the tools available in ActivInspire as the Mechanical screwdriver of the tools available for us to use. Since we use ActivInspire as a daily instructional tool, knowing how to use it might come in handy! The screen capture tool is located in the Tools menu under camera.
The Camera Tool works in a very similar way to the Snipping Tool, but from within ActivInspire. To use the feature outside of ActivInspire, choose Desktop Annotate from your Dashboard, Tools Menu or Toolbar.
Next, navigate to the thing you wish to take a picture of on your desktop. Then go to your Tool menu and select Main Menu, Tools, Camera and choose the camera function you wish to use.
Adjust your selection handles so that what you wish to save or copy is within the selected area, then pick how you wish to save Snapshot. Click here to see a great way to use the Camera tool in ActivInspire.
For most quick captures, using the Camera tool in ActivInspire may be a bit overkill. That is why I shared the Print Screen Trick and the Snipping tool first. Sometimes quick and easy is better than using the Mac Daddy of all tools in your tool box. This is why everyone still uses the good old screwdriver!
But don’t go away yet because the coolest trick of all is recording a video of what you are doing on the computer screen using ActivInspire! This is called Screencasting. I guess I will call this tool the Mechanical Screwdriver with multiple bits to swap in, a built in level with a Laser measuring device and a rechargeable battery pack… With the Desktop Annotate function, you can record anything you do on a computer and you can record your voice while you are doing it (using a microphone of course). Watch this short video to see what I mean (Be on the lookout for the speaker’s math error in division!).
To find the Screen Recorder Tool, go to the Tools Menu, then More Tools, Screen Recorder and finally choose either FullScreen Recorder or Area Screen Recorder. You will need to name the file and place it somewhere- to make it easy I just name it “test” and save it to the Desktop. The file format is AVI so it is perfect for us Windows users, no need to figure out what file format is best- it is the only option.
Try out all your tools and figure out which ones you are comfortable with and in what situations. By the way, did you notice how I have all these small pictures of the things I am talking about? I used the Snipping Tool…
It might shock you to know that there are even more options available. For home use, you may want to be able to screen capture and screencast- then try Jing- it’s free!
November 9th, 2011 — Uncategorized Tagged blog, classroom, student, teacher, voice
The term blog is short for Web Log. This is a web publishing tool that allows authors to quickly publish their ideas in conjunction with pictures, music, video files and pretty much any other interactive tool that is out there. This is similar to keeping a journal, a written record in a handy notebook that you would hide under your bed so no one could see your inner-most thoughts.
The difference is that a blog can be shared with the world and the world can comment on your writing. Communication is a key 21st Century skill, and a blog is writing to the world. What could be more 21st Century than that?
In the beginning, the Internet was full of people putting their thoughts out there on static web pages. But then Web 2.0 was born and the audience could talk back to the author. This was a revolution because the feedback that was now possible allowed everyone to speak up. Ideas were refined and anyone with a new point of view could contribute.
Most blogs are created and abandoned in short order because the process does require work. The beauty of this tool is that it gives you a voice that can be heard, and others can comment on what is shared. It can be difficult to hear what others say about your writing, but that should never stop you. Your point of view matters. Good or bad, comment to this blog, I will post your comment (unless of course, it does not meet the educational standards set forth by VBCPS).
A blog is not an answer to everything. It is not a tool that anyone should use if they won’t commit the time to it. But if it is approached with the right expectations, a blog can give your students a voice in an area they may never have tried before, and it can enhance every lesson in your classroom.
Why should a teacher, or students, blog?
1) This technology is extremely user friendly. With minimal effort you can set up and maintain a blog with no technical skill.
2) For students using a blog it is highly motivating because of the feedback that they are able to receive from not only the teacher, but their peers. Traditional writing assignments are handed in, the teacher grades them and they are handed back with little feedback, and only from the teacher. The papers are put away and never seen again. With blogs, a conversation begins and students can see that they are not explaining ideas fully or have made some errors. While a blog should never replace all written assignments, if used regularly, it will improve all writing.
3) Blogs can be used when it works best for a user; day, night, at home or at school. Anytime the urge to write strikes, if there is a computer with an Internet connection, anyone can blog. This asynchronous type of learning, or writing, is what all teachers strive for because a student is thinking and using skills outside of the classroom.
Some things to think about before beginning a Blog-
1) What will you be writing about? Theme, subject area?
2) Who is your audience and how will you reach them? If it is your students you will need to set aside time for them to read and respond to the blog in class.
3) How often will you be blogging? Set a schedule and do your best to stick to it.
What blogging tools are available to me?
1) If you are with Virginia Beach Public Schools use this tool- http://blogs.vbschools.com/ it has been set up for us to use. This entry has all the info for creating a new account for teachers. I would recommend that you use this tool! Free with all the options available of a paid blog- because the division bought it for us…
2) Collaberizeclassroom is a free resource that has topics already listed that you can quickly add a blog entry with many topics to choose from and incorporate voting buttons or free form text boxes. This site is nice because you can set up your class blog so that only members (your students) have access.
3) Edmodo is a wonderful tool but it is not quite a blog, but more like a Social Network for teachers and students. The format is similar to Facebook. I include it here in this list because it is a great communication tool. If you are interested, go take a look, but before you set up an account –Be sure to see me- I have a code you will want to use!
I only chose to share 3 tools, but there are many more such as KidBlog that are easy to set up, safe for your kids to use and best of all Free! I will be happy to help you with any tool that you want to try.
Find your voice- Start a blog!
November 4th, 2011 — Uncategorized Tagged ActivExpressions, BrainPop, Quiz, Reese's, vote, work together
I love it when two of my favorite things come together to make something new. Like chocolate and peanut butter to make Reese’s Cups. I also enjoy it when two wonderful things that I use can be used together. Like BrainPop and ActivExpressions…
But first let me back up a second. Don’t you hate it that when you launch BrainPop you have to login every time? I know I do, that is why I fixed it! Since this blog is published on the web I can’t put the URL here (since we pay for it, that would be like giving free access to the world), but this is how you can find it; go to the Shortcuts folder on your Desktop and open it. Click on the BrainPop link. That is it (and also for the BrainPOP Jr. link)! If you would like to save it to your Favorites on your browser; Click on the star in the top right corner of your browser. Click Add to Favorites, and when the Add a Favorite window pops up, click Add. Or, you could right click on the shortcut and select copy. Then go to your Desktop, Right Click and select Paste. No more typing in Passcodes for BrainPop! Sweet…
Ok, back on topic, Brain Pop and ActivExpressions. BrainPop and BrainPop Jr. quizzes are now fully integrated with ActiVote and ActivExpression- after a small download is installed on the machine that you will be using for your voting interface. I know what you are thinking, “Oh no, now I have to talk to Al. He is the only one who can install on our computers.” Unfortunately, I am the only one who can install, but I will be happy to do this install as quickly as I receive the request. I promise you will love the results!
Now your class can watch a quick movie about what you are working on in class. Immediately after the movie, you can have the kids take a quiz while the information is still fresh and you can find out how much the students learned about the topic! This is a great way to introduce new material, or review. Best of all, it is already prepared and works seamlessly with ActivExpressions.
Go to the Promethean Planet website and Click on the Grey tab under the Brain Pop logo called- BrainPOP Quiz Integration to learn more!
Or – Watch the video below…
Or click here to see the SchoolTube video.
In the meantime, I will be waiting to see who the first person is who asks me to install the Flash Bridge on their computer. Then I will know that someone reads this blog!