Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tapping into Creativity

There are six levels of Blooms Taxonomy.  Unfortunately due to the ‘T’ word it is not uncommon to find teachers moving beyond levels 1-3 in hopes of retaining formulas for end of grade test. Moving to levels 4-6 require illustration, supporting and creating.  Today we are going to tap into the higher levels by creating a Storybird.

Storybirds are art-inspired stories that impact everyone from Miss. Smartypants in the front seat to our reluctant readers in the back row.  Here’s how it works:

In science have your students create a Storybird to illustrate the Scientific Method.  Social Studies students can retell the events leading to WWI.  The possibilities are endless for all content areas.

Empower your students to reach their highest high.  Sign up for your free Storybird acount today.

READER RESPONSE: How will you use Storybird in your class?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How the heck did you do that?

I believe in learning by doing especially when it comes to performing computer tasks. One of the most beneficial tutorials online are those that offer recordings of users navigating websites, using features in MS Office, etc.  As both a Mac and PC user I found this issue frustrating when my Mac and the Screenflow program are not around.  I am not interesting in spending more money on Camtasia to have this feature on my PC so what is a girl to do?  A girl is to sign up for Jing right away.
I must let you know that Jing and Camtasia are from the same tech gurus.  The major difference is the ability to make polished videos with Camtasia while Jing is very basic.  The upside is that you will get your point across easily.  Here are a few ways to use Jing according to their website:
  • CollaborateCollaborate on a design project
  • CollaborateShare a snapshot of a document
  • NarrateNarrate your vacation photos
  • BugsCapture that pesky bug in action
  • Show HowShow Dad how to use iTunes
  • CommentsComment on students' homework
  • Post TidbitsPost tidbits on Twitter or Facebook
Additionally you can share your video instantly via e-mail, IM, Twitter, blogs, etc.With the addition of Lync on school campuses this is especially good news.  Here is a sample of a web snapshot to start the wheels turning in your noggin.
A picture truly paints a thousand words.  Why not lessen the confusion when adding technology to lesson and use Jing.  Your students will thank you.
READER RESPONSE:  How will you use Jing?

Monday, August 29, 2011

4,400+ Free Books

I bet that title got your attention.  If it did then you should know up front that this post is not about giveaways or a place to steal books and not get caught.  Today as we delve into Week 2 of Best Websites for Educators I want to share a site that can be used for students ages 1-100.

The International Children’s Digital Library (ICDL) provides thousands of books in 54 different languages from around the world.  From well known authors such as Walter Dean Myers to a French folktale favorites, you’ll find all sorts of interesting stories to share with students. 

As a classroom teacher I was a huge fan of using picture books to teach literary elements. With ICDL you now have access to books even when the copy is checked out at the school library media center.  All you need is an LCD projector and a working internet connection to share literature and beautiful artwork with students. 

image Are you a parent wondering how to use ICDL with your child?  Download the free app on your iPad. We have one last summer vacation coming up and I cannot think of a better way to keep Junior entertained and save space in the car. 

ICDL is truly captivating and I hope that you find a way to integrate this into your content for many years to come.

READER RESPONSE: Search for a book on the ICDL site.  Please share how the book is connected to a specific content area.  Think outside the box English teachers.  We need to help our math, science, social studies and elective teachers use this resource in their classes today.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Power Point Assassin

We have reached the end of week one in the Best Website for Educator Series: Media Sharing.  The week began with moving us beyond Power Point and onto something more.  The more included Animoto, Voicethread, Wordle, Tagxedo and Glogster.  Today I bring you the game changer and it goes by the name of Prezi

Similar to the other tools featured this week, Prezi allows users to add multimedia to the presentation but goes one stop further and makes it visually stunning. 

I recently discovered a subsection of Prezi dedicated to education.  The site is amazing in that the likelihood of finding a content connection is almost certain.  From Architecture to Technology there are hundreds of Prezis to add to your next lesson.

A word of warning; Prezi can be initially difficult to navigate so please practice prior to presenting it to you munchkins. 

I hope you enjoyed the first week of websites.  However my true wish is for you to use them and share the outcome on this blog in the comments section.

READER RESPONSE: Which of the tools presented are you most likely to use?  Please respond below (not on Facebook, friends).

Next week: Digital Storytelling

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Stop Buying Posters

Remember when teachers assigned poster projects?  Magazine cutouts, glue and glitter…so much glitter littered our dining room table.  Despite the creative factor, poster projects wound up leaving mom’s wallet lighter and a trail of sparkle in our wake.  The good news is that poster projects still exist.  The better news is that now they are better and in the form of a Glog. 

Glogster is a tool to create digital online posters. The true sparkle factor is in Glogster’s ability to create a single page containing audio, video, text, graphics and more.  This past April my students created Poet Glogs to commemorate National Poetry Month.  Here is the sample Glog I created to get the ball rolling:

I must say that my student’s Glogs blew mine out of the water, pass the moon and into another universe.  They were amazing.  If you want to spread the gospel about your munchkins then allow them to razzle dazzle you with Glogster.  I don’t have to tell you that this tool is one that can be used in every content area.  Visit the sample Glogs on their site and get inspired today.  

READER RESPONSE: Tell us what you teach and your idea for a Glogster project.  As always, please paste the link in the COMMENTS section if you used today’s tool to create something fabulous.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Word Clouds with Style

Remember I told you that Wordle is cool but to wait until today?  Well, the wait is over.  Tagxedo is like Wordle but you are able to put those words into shapes. 

Like Wordle, you may copy URLs and create shapes.  I used the People website for this cloud star.

The BEST part of Tagxedo is the ability to upload your own picture and create your image out of words.  All together now:  "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh"

Tagxedo also allows you to use your creation and place it on mugs, t-shirts and more.  I think this would make an excellent gift for several educational and non-educational occasions. 

It's the weekend, educators.  Get creative and present your students with a Tagxedo Monday morning.

Have a fantastic weekend,

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Today the schools in my area began the 2011-12 academic year.  As the young minds spilled into new classes I'm quite sure more than a couple were greeted with a Wordle.  What's that, you don't know about Wordle?  Well, allow me to tell you about today's 21st Century teaching tool that is bound to become a permanent fixture in your curriculum. 

Wordles are word clouds. These clouds can be used in many ways including:
  • Introductions about yourself
  • Test reviews.  Wordle allows you to copy an entire essay and it will highlight the words that appear most frequently.
  • Web site overviews: Copy and paste and entire website and Wordle will create a cloud.
My manicurist even has Wordles in her salon detailing the services she offers.  The possibilities are truly endless.  Here is a Wordle from my healthy living blog.
Once your Wordle is created you may select from different styles, colors and orientation.  Your students will think you're cool but you'll know that you're teaching (you sneaky living devil).

If you think Wordle is cool wait until you read Friday's post.

READER RESPONSE: How have you used Wordle in the classroom?  Please paste the link to your word cloud in the comments section.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Microphones, Telephone, Webcams – oh my!

There comes a time in every class when students are forced to work together.  Just as Dorothy traveled the yellow brick road, your students now have a path leading to greatness…introducing Voicethread.  Voicethread allows users to share images, slides and documents with their voice.  The best part of Voicethread is the ability to work collaboratively.  As students work they can upload their narration five different ways: microphone, telephone, text, audio files and webcams. 

Imagine the possibilities of Social Studies projects.  Allow your students to detail how they solved a math problem.  Debate issues within a video and so much more.  Imagine the level of Blooms you will reach with this tool.  We’re aiming sky high, fellow educators. 

From embedding your Voicethread with a specially designed Moodle plugin or exporting the file to a DVD, there is no limit to sharing your creation. 

READER RESPONSE: How have or will you use Voicethread in your classroom?  Please share your links below to threads you create.

Monday, August 22, 2011

New Year, New Thoughts

Happy New (School) Year!  As the 2011-12 school year gets underway I know that many of my fellow educators are thinking of innovative ways to reach students.  I am happy to begin a series discussing some of the best websites for teachers.  Over the next five weeks I will introduce or remind readers about Web 2.0 tools in the topics of Media Sharing, Digital Storytelling, Management & Organization, Content Collaboration and Social Networking. 

Today we will begin with Animoto. When you use Animoto you can create presentation containing video clips photos, music and text. This tool is a fantastic way to begin a class, meeting or any venue in which an audience is present.  I further suggest using Animoto as a review of your content objectives.  If your students are anything like mine then promising a music video at the end of class is a fantastic way to bribe ensure they absorb the information presented.  Finally, Animoto makes it easy to download videos, share on blogs, export to YouTube or share via e-mail.  Press PLAY below to learn more.

Yes, folks, this week we’re going beyond boring PowerPoints.  In fact we’re going to add PowerPoint to the foul language bin because it is played out.  Remember, this year we're going to be super.  Why not start with a super sweet introduction for your class?

READER RESPONSE:  Have you created an Animoto video?  If so, please add the link below.  Are you thinking of creating a video?  Then share your thoughts.  Let’s help each other create something fab!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Teacher Training Videos

I am returning to high school.  Again.  This school year will find me at a new school with bigger kids and a larger staff.  I am excited to move from middle to high school but there is great sadness in leaving my Rams Family. 

One of the things I am proudest of is helping teacher integrate technology into their curriculum.  As I depart Rams Territory I have found several teachers trying to get in their last minute tech questions.  Despite my willingness to help there will be times when my former co-workers cannot reach me. Don't fret because there are an abundance of tools to answer your questions.  The great thing about the internet is that if you have an idea there is a 99.9% chance that someone else has thought of the same thing.  Aside from the thought they have probably made a video tutorial about the idea.  To think that you thought YouTube was only for cute kitten videos. Nope, folks, there is SO MUCH MORE! 

Are you unsure about Go Animate?  Check YouTube.  How about Glogster, Moodle, podcasting, online quizzes, etc.?  Folks, it's all there.  Now, if you wish to find something specifically geared toward teachers then I invite you to use TTV.  Here you will not find talking heads but screencasts.  I personally adore screencast videos because you can watch how to do everything step by step on your computer.  This is the best type of tutorial for the tech savvy and tech shy. 
As John Dewey said, “If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.” Technology has changed the teaching game.  Therefore, seasoned teachers, you must change with the times. Use TTV to find one new technology tool to integrate into your class weekly. Imagine what you will teacher yourself and others by May. Contact me or continue to read the blog for ideas.  Whatever you do pledge to be super.  Our students deserve that much.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cool Ipad 2 Apps for Educators

I do not have an iPad but I want one.  I dream of the day so much that I research the apps I can use in my workplace.  Hey, when I drop $500+ on anything I need to justify the purchase.  The best thing about the iPad 2 is that you can plug that beauty directly into a TV or LCD projector with an HDMI cable.  Wow!  Here are a couple of apps I think are awesome for each subject area:

Science: The Elements: A Visual Exploration.  This app brings the periodic table off the page and illustrates how we interact with the substances of our world on a daily basis. $14

Math: Mathematical Formulas: Math is not my subject but had I had this app I think I would have shed less tears as a teen.  This is a great app to use during bell ringer activities.  Show the equation on the screen and place a problem on the board.  This will keep the munchkins quiet as you take attendance. $1
History/Social Studies/Governement: American Dreams Speeches and Documents in US History HD.  This is one app that I would use just because.  This app features documents, audio and video recordings of every US Presidential Inaugural Addresses, Supreme Court decisions and so much more. In the age of YouTube and Discovery Streaming, this fits right in with placing your students in the moment to experience events first hand.  I don't know about you, but listening to JFK's speech makes me want to be a better American. $2

English/Language Arts: If you keep up with the blog then you know of my adoration for eReaders.  Of course, these free apps (Nook, Kindle, iBooks) are great for use in the classroom.  Just think, you can do a context clue bell ringer by showing a page on the screen followed by using the dictionary tool.  However, I want to recommend The DailyThis is a newspaper app that is great for teaching informational text.  I hate to mention the 'T' word but understanding non-fiction is an important skill for end of grade tests. Of course this is FANTASTIC for current events.  Save trees - go media crazy for $0.
There are tons of apps for electives and physical education so I encourage you to Google your content specific area.  If you're a music teacher you will be in heaven.  If you teach Life Skills, join the party.  The iPad 2 is geared for educators plus you get a great discount when you shop through the Apple Store.

If you need help thinking of ways to integrate other apps and technology into your class, give me a call.

Have a great school year, educators!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Are Teachers Killing Creativity?

Sir Ken Robinson's TEDTalk is one of my favorite presentations on the site.  If you have yet to discover TED, visit the site this instant.  The creativity stemming from the presenters are just the jolt people need (not just educators) when our spark begins to dull.  Additionally, TED is a great resource to integrate into lessons plans.  From Technology to Global Issues, I have a feeling that something is there for everyone.  The following presentation is one I encourage teachers to watch every few months.  Before you hit play, pop some popcorn and find a quiet spot.  Pay attention and get ready for the best school year ever.