Thursday, December 29, 2011
Thanks to Richard Byrne (again!) and his blogsite "Free Technology for Teachers" for producing a huge list (77 actually) of online educational games, experiences, or simulations. I have used some that he has listed and most are really good. No matter what you teach, you should be able to find something for your class. As I have done in the past, instead of you trying these games out and using up your precious time, have the students test them out. Offer extra credit and have them try these out at home. Or take the class to the computer lab and have them test and write a game review. Lots of ways you can get students involved and make these into a cross-curricular activity. Have fun!
Thanks to Richard Byrne and his blog "Free Technology for Teachers", you now have a link to 5 sites where you can make your own crossword puzzles. You could make a puzzle for students to do or you could have students make their own crossword puzzle as a review or enrichment activity. Discovery's Puzzlemaker isn't on this list, but that site is another good puzzlemaker site. Enjoy!
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
As 2011 winds down, you may be wanting to look up the best math sites of 2011, the best online educational games, the best educational articles, etc. Well, Larry Ferlazzo now has a one-stop shopping experience for you if you are wanting just the Best of 2011. His great blog "Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day" now has a blogpost dedicated to all of his Best of 2011 posts. So, while you are on break or if you get time as 2012 begins, take a look at the many great things he has gathered for you. Thanks Larry!
Monday, December 26, 2011
Catching up on my blog reading, I found a story about the 2011 Edublog Award Winners and the blog that won "Best Group Blog" caught my eye. Why? Because it was by students just like our 8th graders and several other students are doing in our district AND it was by students in 6 different countries. And the 6 classes in the 6 countries blog each week about a different topic or idea about their culture or their school day. We talk a lot about cultures and how different and interesting they are and yet how similar they are. Reading through these great blog entries really drives this idea home. Fascinating to read about life in these 6 countries! Give it a read!
Thanks to Kim Flagor-Fuller for alerting me to a great site called "Futureme.org". I immediately tried it and loved it and thought of a couple of great ways to use this site for students and education. First off, I want my students to email their goals to themselves and I may even have my 8th grader email a note to themselves to be delivered just before 9th grade starts. You could also use it as a task list reminder and have your tasks emailed to you each day. Students could also email due dates and key project dates if they check email a lot but struggle to stay caught up or on track to finish something in time. Lots of uses, great site!
And what web browser extensions are you using? I'm not here to convert you to Firefox or Chrome (I use Chrome only and love it. I hope to never use Explorer again!!), but instead point you to an Edublog post that gives you great stats about web browser usage and most importantly shows you what are the best and most commonly used web extensions. If you are wondering what a web extension is, well, I would say it is a tool or gadget that opens right along with your web browser when you click on it and you can use it while surfing the web. I use the dictionary application, the text to voice application, the screenshot application, and a few others. Many people don't use these because they don't know about them. Hopefully, by clicking on this blog post that I have linked below, more people can learn about these applications and use them more often. And maybe people can experiment with different web browsers and decide which one is best for you. Good luck and have fun!
Friday, November 25, 2011
Just a quick share of a blog from Richard Byrne where he groups 11 great online drawing and artistic sites. If you teach art, like art, or like to draw or mess around online with art, this is a great blog to bookmark and to come to often to try the different recommended sites. I have tried some and enjoyed my time with them. Even my own little kids have tried them and liked them. Not sure if they would all be good for art class or even if they would work for art class, but it would not hurt to try. Give them a try and see what you think and thank you Richard Byrne and your Free Technology for Teachers!
I always like knowing what happened in certain key years like the year I was born or the years by children were born. TimeSearch is a great site to do just that. You put in the year and the site spits out about everything you want to know about events that went on during that year. You can pick as many or as few categories as you want. You can even do more research on certain events when they pop up. You can also search for topics and see what and when things pop up. Lots of fun and maybe good for education if students are looking up key years or doing a timeline of sorts. And maybe just good if you want to look up a key year yourself. Have fun!
For any teachers out there who teach a Health class or Wellness Class, or even a Life Skills or PE course, this site could be of help. The site is called Kids Health in the Classroom. Tons of resources and information when it comes to any aspects of health including diseases, drugs and alcohol, growth, and nutrition. Plus a lot more. I only explored it a little, but some of it looked pretty good and it was all very easy to find and categorized by grade level. Have fun!
Monday, November 21, 2011
Maybe for our Literacy teachers or for any other teachers, but a new site allows our students and maybe even our staff to write their books online, chapter by chapter. The site is called Pandamian and it is pretty neat! You can publish as you go and get feedback. You can get people hooked on your book and notify them when your next chapter is done. For us locally, maybe this is a place where our literacy students can write their drafts and papers and see how you can break something up into chapters or pieces. And in the end, students could sell their E-book or get it published? Who know? Lots of options. Have fun!
Thanks to Larry Ferlazzo and his Websites of the Day Blog, I have found the site Useful Charts. And the site is just that....Useful Charts. Lots of cool charts for a teacher to either study and help with their lessons, print and use somehow in class, or order laminated versions. Many of the charts have copywrite protection, but the information is still great. You might even have students add to the charts or make up their own charts using some of the ideas you get from the charts on this site. And the charts are also divided by subject so you can find the ones you need easier.
I have my students using WallWisher right now to do a project about themselves by posting sticky notes with information about their life, their culture, etc. Wallwisher hasn't always worked the best, so I might look for a different site next year. Sites like Wallwisher are also good for organizing information, timeline for projects, and any sort of time or task management. As a teacher, you could also have students make a historical timeline, a bulletin board online about a certain topic or person, or even a board based on what they learned from a book they read. Lots of options! Well, those options now have a new possible site: Linoit! I played around with this site before registering and really loved it. Very easy to post sticky notes. You can also post videos from Youtube and pictures from your own files (something WallWisher does not allow) It also has a calendar function so if you are using it for task management, you can assign dates to each note. Very cool site! You might give it a try as a site to manage your own life, your projects, your team meetings, or a student project. Have fun!
Click here to go to Linoit
Saturday, November 12, 2011
I know many of you may not use Chrome, but I am sure this extension or a similar extension is available in Firefox and maybe even Explorer. I downloaded it and it now appears up in the corner of my screen when I am on the internet. If I get to a word that I do not know, I just highlight the word and click on the dictionary and I get all sorts of definitions and even the verbal pronounciation in some cases. I love this web extension and would love to see it on every student computer so that they could learn words as they read them on the screen. It goes great with my "text to speech" Chrome extension as well! Thanks to Richard Byrne and his Free Technology for Teachers blog for helping me find out about this extension! Please click on his blog link to find out how to download this web extension.
Thanks to Richard Byrne and his Free Technology for Teachers, here is an interesting idea in the area of books, authors, literacy, and our students. If our students like reading and want to read more books similar to what they have read or by authors similar to the authors they have been reading, they could use Literature Map. If a student puts an author name into this site, this site will spit out a map with dozens of other authors' names and based on the distance from the student's author, this determines how similar their writing style and material is. I tried the site out and was able to find 5-10 authors who wrote similar books to Stephen King. And I did all of that in under 1 minute! Cool stuff! Might be a site to pass along to students this year.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Another quick website for our Exploratory classes, this time it is art. Thanks to Richard Byrne and his blogsite Free Technology for Teachers, he has alerted me of a chance for our students to showcase their art online to the public. Our 8th graders are blogging and showcasing their writing, now there is a chance to showcase their artistic talent. Not only that, after publishing their artwork, they could order a variety of gifts (t-shirts, mugs, etc.) with their artwork displayed on them. Very cool! This might also be a way to view other student artwork and review and communicate as well. Give it a try!
Richard Byrne's Artsonia Blog entry...click here!
Just a quick link for our music teachers....using this link, you can print your own blank music sheets. You can even add treble cleffs, base cleffs, adjust the time, and much more. I don't know a lot about music or what is available out there, but this site seemed pretty neat. I hope it helps some music teachers our there!
Free and Printable Sound sheets click here!
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Geosense is a fun site to challenge your knowledge of world geography. I played one round and it was very challenging as you have to guess where the city and country that flashes up on the screen is actually located. Based on the time it took you and distance away you were, you get points. What makes this site even cooler is that you can create a username and challenge friends or people around the world. It would be fun to see how high a student could score or have a class challenge. Would match well with a class that has studied world geography or just to challenge a class to see if they know where certain countries are.
Don't have to say much about this site because if you teach science or learning about the elements, this site is great. Very interactive and lots of information. Easy to use for students and easy to navigate around. Try Ptable by clicking here!
Wow, very cool add on to Google Chrome. But the key here is that you have to be using Google Chrome instead of Internet Explorer. I love Google Chrome and it is all that I use. I especially love some of the Apps and Add-ons that you can add, especially this new one called "Speak It". After a quick 1-minute install, I now have a little microphone up in the right corner of my screen. Anytime I want text on the Internet read to me, I just highlight the selection and click the microphone. And it reads it to me!! For students who don't read as well, they could highlight and click the speaker to hear what the site has to say. You could also read a whole website or article to your students in a whole class setting. The female/computerized voice would get old after awhile, but for new readers or struggling readers, this could really, really help. Try Google Chrome and try Speak It...I love it!
Thanks to Richard Byrne and his blog Free Technology for Teachers, I have found a site that will be interesting to test out and use once it is out of its Beta Test period. Smore looks very cool for making flyers, information, and updates interactive and eye catching. As we send material out to the community and to families, using the interactive information might make our information jump out and attract more eyes. I could also see students using this in class as a presentation tool as they present on a topic. I plan to bookmark this blog post by Richard Byrne and come back and test out Smore's site when it has been completely tested out. Cool!
If you are going to show several specific stories about a topic or several sites with information on them, Stich.it might be a good option to try. I don't think it works well for major sites like ESPN, CNN, or ABC News, but if you find individual links and sites that you want to use (you know, the links with the really specific URL that is too long to type in class), you can put them all in this Stich.it site and it will create a tiny URL for you and your students to type in and skim through. This works great for when students are in the computer lab and you want them all to look at several specific sites. This also works great if you want to buzz right through several sites in class as well.
Try making your own Stich.it here!
Here is my sample Stich.it over bullying: http://stich.it/siNDMy (notice how short the link is!)
If you are wanting to learn more about how to use the main parts of google's tools and educational tools, here is a training site for you. Google Apps for Education Training Center has information and videos about how to use apps like Gmail, Google docs, Google Calendars, etc. better and how to use them for education. The training is pretty extensive and some sessions are pretty long, but the nice thing is that you can stop and start and pick the pieces you need most. I love my gmail and am getting better at Google Docs. I really want to learn more about Google calendar and how to share my calendar with staff and students. So....I need to use some of these training sessions too!
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Just as Richard Byrne's blogpost is a good reminder about using WallWisher, I want to also remind you about WallWisher. I need to make it a goal to use this website more this year with both students and staff. This site is really so cool! The biggest way I could see Wallwisher being used is by just having a Wallwisher site made up for students when they work on anything in the computer lab. As students work, they can post questions or comments to the wall and you can see these questions/comments in real time and so can students. You can respond to them, you can have other students respond to them. Students can start answering each other questions and leave you free to focus on the real issues. You could also use this with your grade level team or any team where you could have a wall for your group and your group members could post to it anytime and answer each other anytime. So many uses! Give it a try and play around with it...it is fun!
My attempt to embed my wall below:
Thank you to Richard Byrne of Free Technology for Teachers, he has a great brief blog about how to use Twitter to become your Personal Learning Network or Community. The excuse I hear from educators all the time is "not enough time" and "I can't find time to meet with other educators because they have different schedules". Sometimes, we just have to realize that technology has fixed this issue for us. Our Personal Learning Networks (PLCs) can now occur 24/7 whether we are there each day, each moment or not. Once you set up your network by following the people who have the ideas and topics that you are interested in, you just check in and contribute where you can. So simple! And if that is not simple enough, Richard Byrne has a powerpoint embedded into his blog post so you can see his thoughts on this idea and even a step by step instructions on how to get your PLN set up on Twitter. So start this today and make a goal to learn something new each week, each month, etc!
If you teach literacy or reading or maybe if you are a media center specialist or librarian, this site might be great for you. Students can find book reviews for many books on this site and find out if the book is the right choice for them. But even better, students and classes can set up a class group lists of books where students can add books to the class list, read the reviews, and even write new reviews. When you can get kids not only reading books, but reviewing them and writing about them too, you will get the kids even more involved into their books and their learning. So, if you get a moment, register for this site and explore it some more.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
I played around with Thoora today and found it interesting. At first, I was thinking it was basically just a search engine, but then I got thinking that since it has the ability to store your topics once you have created an account, it really is a good collection source of information about topics you have interest in. So...it is almost like a search engine that stores your searches even when you are not online. So, this could have some great uses. Students could use it to search information, but could also save those searches and look at them later. Teachers and students could both collect information on their favorite topics and not have to search it every time. I am sure there are even more uses. Pretty cool site...enjoy!
This might be more for me than anybody, but I wanted to post it so that I had a place to find it and so that others could use it if they found it useful. Thanks again to Larry Ferlazzo and his Websites of the Day for this list. Here are some of teh best Financial Literacy Sites he has found.
I am hopeful that our district staff will learn the power of Twitter over the next school year. I was like many who said Twitter didn't really have much use and could just be a fad. But then a few other educators who I greatly respected showed me how powerful Twitter can be as a networking tool, learning tool, and even teacher tool. Now I am still not using it to its full potential, but I am using it more as a learning resource instead of just a silly, fun site. To learn more, read this blog post from the NY Times to realize what is happening on Twitter every day while we aren't watching!
I think I have published once before, but thanks to Educational Technology Guy, here is the updated list. His blog post is a great one to bookmark whether or not you currently use Discovery Education. And if you don't use it, pick one or two things from his list and try to use them in the upcoming weeks. You will be glad you did!
I know our school and many schools our size do not do remote meetings, but as we grow an as we are split across buildings and grade levels, maybe remote meetings will become more important. LiveMinutes is a remote meeting site where all members for a group or committee could join on one weblink and share documents, ideas, whiteboard, etc. Pretty neat stuff, but I have to admit I have not tested it with others. I set up one on my own to see what I could do, but I was impressed. All I was missing was the the other people! So, if you need to meet with people from another building or if you just want to set one up for students when you are in the lab and have your LiveMinutes be notes or ideas from the whole group, you might want to try LiveMinutes. Have fun!
Monday, October 17, 2011
I know, I know....Twitter is for kids and people with way more time than a teacher. I thought the same thing once. But wait, can Twitter be more? It definitely can! I am starting to believe my brother and many other teachers and administrators that have been telling me Twitter is the best "professional" social networks out there. They say this because they now get all sorts of great information, articles, and information sent their way through Twitter. And they do this by "following" "hashtags". But until now, I have always wondered how to find all of these hashtags and know which ones are good ones to follow. Well, here is my answer.....the A-Z dictionary of educational hashtags! So, sign up for Twitter and start following a few of these hashtags and start harnessing the power of Twitter!!
A-Z Dictionary of Educational Hashtags click here!!
Here is a great site by "Holt" for any teachers who like graphic organizers and use them in class. This has tons of downloadable graphic organizers ready for free download. So....feel free to search and download as much as you want!
Holt's graphic organizers click here!
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Thanks again to Richard Byrne of Free Technology for Teachers here is a link to a blog about 3 ways to learn more about how to use all of the technology I and others blog about. The 5-minute help site is a good one, I've used it before. So, if you need help with using a certain technology feature or tool, you can get help from one of these sites and rewatch as many times as you need to until you understand it!
For our blind students, struggling readers, or students who just want to hear the news and what the website says, Vocalyze is an interesting option. It is an app that you could use on IPads, IPods, or smartphones. After installing the app, if the website a student uses is on there, they can listen to the site and read along with it. If they are blind, this is a great option to hear what they could be reading. I haven't tried it myself to know what it offers, but if you use IPods in your teaching or one-on-one work, this might be something to explore more.
Thanks to Richard Byrne and his blog Free Technology for Teachers, we can all enjoy a quick and easy site that shows and briefly explains 7 great screenshot, capture, and video tools. I have used Awesome Screenshot and Screenr and love them both. They are great for taking pictures of websites and then mark them up for the students or parents. Click on the link below to learn more.
7 Great Screenshot Tools, Click here!
Skype in the Classroom is growing by leaps and bounds. Here is a link with some new information. But I also like the links within the article where you can get more information. If you haven't heard of Skype in the Classroom, you need to research it and you will see why educators are so excited about the possibilities. Imagine being able to get into any classroom in the world with just your computer. Your students can talk to other students, read to other students, learn from other students...and teachers. The possibilities truly are amazing! Read more and then start thinking about how we could do some of these things....
Very interesting news on the Amazon technology announcement today. The Kindles just got cheaper and the Kindle Fire could be the next big product for fun and education. I guess we will have to wait and see how this all plays out in our quickly changing world of education and technology.
Monday, September 5, 2011
After reading this post by Richard Byrne of Free Technology for Teachers, I am interested in this idea. Not sure I am ready to do it, nor am I sure that our parents are ready for this use of technology, but it is interesting. I have tried using Google Voice for personal uses and have had some family members test it out as well. I didn't really think of using it as a way to communicate quickly and cheaply communicate with parents. Anyway, give his post and read and give the idea some thought. Technology is definitely changing the way we work and communicate....
Thanks to Dave the Educational Technology Guy again, here is another great science site. From lessons to demonstrations to videos to worksheets, there is a lot on here, too much for me to look at! Hopefully, if you teach science, you can find some things on this site. Check it out in your "free time"!
Thanks to Dave the Educational Technology Guy and his blog, I learned about a website for students and teachers learning about the cell and everything that has to do with the cell. Even better for us, it is geared towards middle school students. Lots of great stuff on here, so use what you can.
Cell Biology Texas A&M click here!
Cell Biology Texas A&M click here!
Just had to post real quickly about Twiigs.com as I just used it and found it so simple. In less than a minute I was registered for the site. Within another minute, I had made my poll for my edublogs student blogging site. And after a little research, I had my poll published to my blog. Really cool. Now, let's see if I can do it again, by putting a poll into this blog. Here you go...
Pretty short and simple powerpoint presentation from Sacha Chua made 2 years ago, but very good and powerful. Makes a great point towards the end and seems to be geared for the educators who just aren't sure if they should try Web 2.0 tools like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Learning Communities, Skype, email, chat, etc. Or maybe they are not sure if these things are just fads or would even help. I think taking a minute or two to view these slides that I have embedded below might make us all rethink our stance on Web 2.0 and see some value in it. Thanks to Sacha Chua for the presentation!
Again, credit and thanks to Larry Ferlazzo and his Websites of the Day for grouping several great teaching resources about 9-11 in one blogpost. If you are going to teach or reference anything about 9-11 to students in the coming weeks, this might be a great place to review and research or even use in class. I still highly recommend the archived videos as they are a very powerful reminder of how everything unfolded that terrible day. For our middle school students, we have to remember that they were not even in school yet and likely have no memory of the event except what has been told to them. To their minds, it truly is a history topic. Some of the resources in this blogpost by Larry might help 9-11 come to life for them and show them that although it is history, so much of what life is like today can be traced back to that day. Hope some of these ideas and resources help.
Thanks to Larry Ferlazzo and his Websites of the Day blog, he has helped me find the best of the best online when it comes to educational games. This blog post might be more for me than anyone as I will soon have my 6th graders test some of these games out and give me a review. I find it very important to have students use technology and be online, but I also feel it is important for their online time to be mainly educational and productive, even if it is when they are playing games. There is a lot of "junk" on the web, so if they are going to be on there, I want them to be on sites that might increase their thinking ability and improve their basic skills. For anyone who wants to know what these game sites are, please click the link to Larry's blog below. Have fun!
Catching up on my blog reading over the Labor Day Weekend, I came across a couple blogs highlighting a teacher's social studies blog. This is not just any blog, this is a huge list of interactive social studies, science, and ethics games that kids can play straight from the links the teacher gives. And as an amazing bonus, he has also linked the worksheets, study guides, and questions he has the students do as they play and finish the games. What a resource!! This could be a great site for a teacher, a student teacher, or even the students to really test out and get into and review what they liked best and learned from the most. Give it a try!
Monday, August 29, 2011
As always, I love TED talk videos! I came across a "playlist" of videos with 4 videos that all talk about people with a mental disability that they are able to talk about, teach about, and turn into a strength. The longest one and the best one is the first one by Temple Grandin. She really opened me eyes to what autism is like and what teachers can do. I watched the next two and they were good, just not as good as Temple's talk. With the amount of students that come through our doors with either a diagnosed Autism or Asperger's disorder or the idea that they might fall on the autism spectrum, we can learn a lot from Temple Grandin and what she has to say. Give it a look!
This is something I have done twice since the tragic day of September 11, 2001. In the world of technology, everything gets archived and stored somewhere. Well, now, there is a site that includes dozens of new stations from around the world and their live reports before, during, and after the attack on our country that day. Our 6th graders were just barely born when this event happened! I will say that the videos are tough to watch knowing what we know now, but it is still one of the best ways to understand what our country went through during those hours and days, as you see the country react to what little information we had during that time. Even if you do not teach social studies or show this to your students, you might want to watch it as we approach the 10-year anniversary of the attack.
Time magazine recently published their list of the 50 Best Websites of 2011. I started to skim through them and got overwhelmed pretty quickly. But I will say that there are some great websites in there. My suggestion is to go to the category that you think would help you most such as Education, Health and Fitness, or Financial/Productivity. There are some very, very cool sites in those categories. If you get a moment, test some out and see if they can help you in any way. Good luck!
Friday, August 12, 2011
Again, if you use Google Chrome, there are some cool apps/extensions you can add on to help you and your internet experience. This one is called Snapify. Instead of me describing it, watch the video below and visit the Snapify site to learn more. Firefox and other browsers likely have something similar.
I just set up an account on Slide Bomb and tested it out. I really liked Slidestaxx and I think I still do, but Slide Bomb is pretty good too. Took me a bit to figure out what I was doing, but once I got into my slides, they were very easy to make. Very easy to put in links as well. I could see Slide Bomb as a great way for students to make presentations about a topic as they could make a multiple slides with each slide having a picture or video along with about 500-100 characters of information. So they could put research on each slide. Hmmm....maybe they could even provide the link where they found the information so they would learn about citing sources. Lots of potential. Check out Slide Bomb and check out my own Slide Bomb presentation (very short...just a test one).
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
For those who use Google Chrome, I have a pretty cool and useful App/Add-on to your browser. I am sure Firefox and maybe even Safari have something similar. Who knows, Internet Explorer might even have it (I have not used Internet Explorer in years, so I wouldn't know!). You also need a microphone. But if you have a microphone and install the Google Chrome Speech Recognizer App, you can speak into the microphone as much as you want and it will transcribe it into text for you. My wife has something like this on her phone and I have found that Google's version through Chrome is even more accurate. I only had to make a few changes. Not sure of all the ways you could use this, but for students who are great thinkers but slow typers and poor spellers, this could help. They could always proofread later and make changes. Maybe this is a way they could free think and speak and not get slowed down by the thinking they have to do about grammar or type. As for teachers, maybe you get a great idea and you want to jot it down. Put on your headphones and just start talking. When done, copy and paste your new text to Word and save it! Great way to take notes....same way some doctors take their notes, only they hire someone to transcribe for them. Give it a try and see if it could be useful for you!
Well, here you go. As we add more computer technology in each classroom and more smart boards, Ladybugs, etc., we can start to put our flashcards online and use them as whole class review to end a class or maybe just before we take a test or quiz. I have read several blog posts about notecard or flashcard sites and I am not sure which is best as I don't use flashcards in class much due to my subject matter, but there most sites are pretty easy to use and pretty easy to make a quick set of flashcards with the information you want. Better yet, have the students make their own flashcards or have some students make flashcard sets for the class online. Really a great way to get some students involved that don't normally get involved (example..."Class, today's flashcard review was made by Davie Smith yesterday. Thanks Davie!). Anyway, here are some sites to try if you want to see if they have flashcards for your material or if you want to use the site to make flashcards.
Flashcard Machine (monsterous site that also allows students, teachers, etc. to view flashcards through Ipod, phones, etc. with an App. This site appears to be pretty powerful)
Quizlet (Another monsterous site with Apps for mobile studying. Not to mention tons of preloaded "language" flashcards to help students, teachers learn a new language!)
StudyStack (This one allows your flashcard packs to be turned into games like crossword puzzles, hangman, matching games, etc. I used this one in my previous life as a science teacher. Good stuff!)
One of the best changes I made last year was getting rid of sticky notes, scratch paper, notebooks, and notepads with my to-do lists. I chose to use a site called "Tadalist.com". I had played around with a couple, but this one was simple and I loved watching my "To Do" items disappear from the top and move to the "done" part at the bottom. I am sure there are better task manager sites out there. Even our Outlook email has a task manager tab and window. If we have students who want to do this, there are some that are even geared more toward homework and task management. One student even showed me a cool Ipod Touch App that managed his homework and study times. If you are interested in trying this out this year, try Tadalist.com or read Richard Byrne's Free Technology for Teachers blogpost below that highlights 7 great Task Managing sites, I am sure you will find one you like!
This link would likely make more sense with the presentation audio, but either way, the powerpoint is a great resource of websites and online resources that can help with education. I have used some that Richard uses in his powerpoint and plan to try more. Please click on the link below to go to Richard Byrne's Free Technology for Teachers blog post about the best of the web when it comes to educational tools.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Teachers, so many possibilities with this site called Slidestaxx (click here to get to website). I am already putting it into my lesson plans as a way for my 8th graders to make a presentation of who they are. They can pick 10 pictures, videos, websites, and videos that show who they truly are. They will present these to the class and their staxx of visual information will be completely chosen and arranged by them. How cool! Not to mention, you could now make a Slidestaxx of a topic you are talking about. Instead of just talking and trying to work the technology, make a Slidestaxx of your pictures, videos, and information you want to share. Your presentation is now interactive and giving the students lots of resources. Not to mention, now your presentation is online for students to view at home or even their families. I am sure there are even more possibilities beyond these, but I will let you figure those out and teach me about them! For starters, here is my SlideStaxx that I made. Not a finished product, but close....
Again, many thanks to Larry Ferlazzo and his Websites of the Day and his "Best of" lists. I have passed these on before, but he updates them often and we should look at them often as there is always some good stuff. Please click on the links below if you see your subject area and check out the sites. Also, if you have a Reader account or RSS feed, add Larry Ferlazzo to your list, he always has great stuff. You can also follow him on Google+!
This year I have decided to post more infographic posters and information in my room and by my office instead of the same old posters every year. When I posted some last year, I was able to reference them in class and students noticed and enjoyed the information that was in most of them. So, where to get these infographics? Well, you can search the web for them like you find most stuff. You can also go to Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day and read his blog about the Best Infographics of the year and in the blog I have linked below, you can find several years worth of the best infographics of the year. Now, my next task is to figure out how best to print these or whether to make my own posters of the information or not. Take a look!
So I joined Google+ about as early as I could, but have not done much with it since. Wait, what is Google+? Think of Facebook with a better way to protect what you share and who share it with. This is why many early reviews think Google+ might be great for educators and education as a way for students and teachers to interact online and use a network to operate portions of class online. My early research on it got me very excited about the endless possibilities, but I have a feeling it will take a year of research and planning before I will be ready to do anything with it. One way I plan to research Google+ is through reading some blogposts about it and a great source of many of these entries comes with thanks to Larry Ferlazzo and his Websites of the Day. Thanks, Larry! When you get a moment, check out some of the readings about Google+ and its capabilities and then once you get started, check out some of the great tips. Good luck and feel free to "follow" me on Google+ and add me to your educators' Circle!
Thank you to Scott McLeod and a few others for the creation of a special version of "Did You Know" video series, this one focusing on Iowa's schools, students, and educational system. If you have never seen any of the "Did You Know" videos, you are missing out. But I especially like this one since it becomes Iowa-specific in the 2nd half of the video. Some pretty interesting stats and figures in this video and it should make all of my colleagues in education think and hopefully start talking about the future of education in Iowa. I know it got me thinking....
I could watch TED talks everyday and probably should start and end my day with a TED talk until I have seen all of the best ones. They are all very short, by design, and very much to the point. And the points are usually very important. Here is a super short one by Julian Treasure about what it takes to be a good listener. I was hoping it would be one I could show to students, but I don't know if they would stick with it even though it is less than 8 minutes. However, the lessons he gives are good lessons for educators and ones that we could pass along to our students in our own way. Spend 8 minutes of your day this week and click on the link and give it a watch.
Thanks to Richard Byrne and his Free Technology for Teachers blog, here are some videos that help students understand the economy and the craziness much better than maybe watching the nightly news. I love the Common Craft video series, especially when they are about how to use technology, and have even shown 1 or 2 of the economy videos in my 6th grade Biztown curriculum. It really makes a difficult topic pretty simple. I have not viewed all of the videos that this post links to, but know some of them are very good. Give them a look and see if they can help you in your class.
Thanks to Larry Ferlazzo and his Websites of the Day, I can again post some great "First Day of School" resources with many ideas coming from teachers commenting on the posts. I read several of these last year before the first day of school and had some great ideas. I plan to read them again and try some new things as well. I hope you find some things that are helpful to you and share with your colleagues. Happy First Day of School!!
Saturday, April 23, 2011
I admit it, I love TED videos. But the good news is that millions of other people do as well. They are one of the most shared videos (besides Youtube) on the web. And the best part is they are all 20 minutes long or less. Even my students have enjoyed some of the TED videos. I just wish I knew which ones were the best. Now, I do. Using this website I am posting about, you can see which TED videos are shared the most or viewed the most, which likely means they are the best of the best. I have to admit, I have seen most of the ones that have been shared because I have tried watching the "best of the best" before. But some are new and I am excited to watch those. So, what good are these videos to you? Well, mostly, they are good to watch and make you think about our world and our lives. But some are good for students too. Watch a couple and you will be addicted too. They are great short videos to watch before bed or to start the day. Have fun!
Exploratorium is a great catch-all science site that is a must see! It doesn't matter what science you teach or at what level, this site has everything. So much to explore and so much to learn and do. You might just want your students to try some things out and explore the site and tell you what they like. Or, as you look for a "few" educational things to do over the summer, maybe looking at this site and seeing what it can offer is a good start. Have fun!
If you use Ipod Touches or IPads in the classroom or even if you use them at home, you might want to bookmark this site. This site, MFL edapps, is a collection of Apps and reviews of Applications on these devices that are good for language learners or teachers. So, it is mainly geared for students and teachers who are working on learning the English language, but I guarantee you some of the apps are great for even middle school students who currently speak and read English language, but maybe not at a high level. Who knows...there might even be some fun and educational apps for our best and brightest students too!? I haven't checked any of the apps yet, but I know I always get some good things from App collection/review sites like this. Enjoy!
Just a quick post to alert and Health and Wellness teachers who talk to students about sugar content in foods. The site is called Sugarstacks. This site has lots of visuals that are pretty eye-opening as to how much sugar basic foods and drinks have. I also found that you can see pretty quickly how to make slightly healthier choices in each category of food or drink. Have fun!
Ran across this Science site and wanted to post it simply so I could remember where to find it this summer when I am home with the kids. As a former science teacher, I wish I had a site like this to refer to. It might actually be best for a science teacher looking to run an after school science club. Any way you use the site, lots of stuff on there that looks like a lot of fun for kids. The site is named "Kitchen Pantry Science" and has all sorts of details and videos about experiments using basic supplies. Have fun!
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
After reading a few technology blogs, I ran across kind of a neat site called "ESkeletons" where you can interact with the skeletons of several primate species. You can zoom in the skull, the arm, or whatever you want to see in more detail. You can go back and forth from the human arm to the baboon arm to the lemur arm. Very interesting to see the differences. If you are doing a unit on bones, skeletal systems, or evolution, this might be a site to use in class or have the students mess around with. Good luck!
Saturday, March 12, 2011
I recently started using a To-Do List called Tadalist.com. Another task manager type site is called Wunderlist. I have not used this one, but I have heard it is really, really good. If you are a person who struggles using a planner, a calendar, sticky notes, or whatever (this is me). And if you are around your computer, cell phone, Ipod, or email fairly regularly in the day, these sites might be good for you. Here are the links to each of them. Try them out and see what you think. I have enjoyed using it so far!
So...I had a blast playing around with this Popplet site. I have not used Prezi before, but I am thinking this is kind of similar to Prezi, maybe just a simpler form and a more basic form. Making my practice Popplet that you can view and play with below, I realized that Popplet might be a good site to make timelines, make notes using a web pattern, or do as a project to show learning of some sort. It was pretty easy to use. Grabbing and adding the pictures was a little tough because you couldn't just pull from the web without saving them first and uploading them. You could pull from Flickr though, so that might be an option. Either way, the site was super easy to use and kind of fun. I think students would catch on to this site right away.
Here is my Popplet:
If you have tried Wallwisher and liked it, you will like Corkboard too. I have not used either in class, but I would like to try using one in class sometime. Corkboard also has a chat function where all viewers/users can chat as they either post to the board or work on other materials. What again would you use a site like this for? I see myself having students open up my class Corkboard page and as they work on their project, they can post questions, thoughts, concerns, or anything else that comes to mind to the board. I can post answers to their questions and the whole class can see these answers. Unlike a verbal answer, my written "post-it" answer is always visible right on their screen. Hmmm....makes me think of the many possibilities sites like this offers. I guess I simply need to test it out. (As I type, I am thinking about a corkboard for parents that I could send to them and see if they post their answers or questions). Lots of possibilities.....
Catching up on my blog reading, I ran across a short entry from Larry Ferlazzo and his blog "Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day" where he mentions his #1 game of 2008 is back online. So, I thought I would give the site a try. Sure enough, it is pretty interesting and was easy to do. The website or game is called "Play the News" and is sort of "fantasy sports" version of the news. I liked it for the fact that you can really research an issue from all different points of views. And in the end, you have to decide what will happen next. Then, you actually get to watch in the real world what truly will happen next. If the game happens to be covering a topic that you are covering in class, I think the class would love it. You have to have an email to register before you play, so either all students would have to register or the teacher could register and do the activity as a class. Technically, the students can do all the research and read about the issue, they just can't vote if they are not registered. If you teach social studies or just have an interest in current events and predicting what will happen next, this site is great for you. Give it a try!
Sunday, February 20, 2011
VuSafe appears to be another great Youtube video showing tool that is much safer and much less distracting. This site allows you to show a Youtube video in the event that Youtube is blocked. But it also cuts out the ads, the comments, and all the other junk that surrounds a typical Youtube video. And once you are signed up, you can save your videos to your VuSafe account and list appropriate age ranges and other information about each video. Students could view videos under your account as well. I haven't tried the site out, but I like the idea that it saves your videos and keeps them in one account. Enjoy!
I was alerted about a new site from Richard Byrne of Free Technology for Teachers (Thank you Mr. Byrne!) called "Qwiki". It is similar to Wikipedia, but it is interactive and gives a visual/audio presentation of the information you want. This site seems to have lots of potential and they are just beginning and testing it now. This might be a great place to start your own research on a topic you are going to teach or a great place for students to start their research, especially for struggling readers (since the information is read to the students). I have a couple links below to help you figure out what this site actually is. Enjoy!
One of the cooler sites I have seen in some time and it just shows how amazing the internet (and Google) truly is and how many doors it opens in education. Newspaper Map is a Google map site that has thousands of newspapers from around the world all in one place. You just find the pinpoint on the map that you want to read and click it. Maybe it is the Des Moines Register, maybe its the NY Times, maybe its simply the Creston or Fort Dodge paper. They are all here. What if you want to read a paper from Iran, Russia, or China? Simple, click on it and translate it (thanks again Google for translating the paper for us!) and now your students are reading the daily newspaper from another country. If something big happens in the world, you can now go read about it. If something big happens in the U.S., you can now read about what the other countries say about it. Fascinating and great for every teacher, but especially a social studies teacher! Give it a try!
Saturday, February 19, 2011
I posted awhile back about a site where you could make a fake Facebook wall for an historical figure, a book character, or even a current person that a student needs to prove they know some things about. By doing a Facebook page, students can have fun and use a platform they know all while showing they know the topic or subject as well. I like this site/tool better and it looks more real. I suggest you try making a few before you have students do their own. I also suggest that you look at some of the "favorites" on the home page. Those are really good. I could see our students really having some fun with these after reading a book or when they are assigned a famous historical person to do a report about.
I'll be honest, I'm not sure of all of the educational applications with this site, but I did make an Avatar and created a Voki that is now on my Counseling blog site. The Voki website has lots of suggestions on how to use in education and I like the idea of students speaking through a microphone and practicing their speech this way. As for me, I plan to update my Voki Avatar often to give parents some verbal information right along with my typed information on my blog. After that, I am not sure, so I will let educators explore and see what they can come up with.
Voki site to make an Avatar (mine just has text speech right now....I didn't record my voice yet)
Do you want to see my Avatar? Go to my Counseling blog site and click on his "play" button.
Another cool, simple tool that goes right into your tool bar is "Awesome Screenshot". I just used it and found it easy to use and it can be used for various reasons. The only issue I see is that I think you can't use the tool with Internet Explorer. You can view other screen shots that people have made, but you can't make your own if you are using Internet Explorer. I use Google Chrome anyway, so it did not matter, but I know many teachers still use the pre-loaded Internet Explorer. I have placed a link below for a Screenshot that I made. You could try making screenshots for your class as well as a way to show students where to go on a website or what to click.
Thanks to the Journey in Technology Blog, here are ten more ideas on how you can use the Khan Academy website, quite possibly one of the best sites in all of education. From using it as extra practice, to sub day lesson plans, to differentiation, the Khan Academy FREE lessons can be used a variety of ways. And you can even get to it even if Youtube happens to be blocked! If you teach math or science, or even some other subjects, and you haven't used the Khan Academy for your students (or even you as it is great to learn how to teach certain concepts), start doing it today and start by reading the blog post linked below!
Click here to read the blog: What Khan be Done With It?
If this works, this could be one of the cooler Web 2.0 tools I have used. This is a short ad about bullying. I added comments to it as part of the Embed Plus program. Now, let's see if it works.
I started playing around with CoSketch after reading about it in a blog. I'm not sure if I like it yet, what the uses could be, or how it could be used, but I think it has some possibilities. If you made a CoSketch for a class and put it in your favorites, students could all log on to the CoSketch site and that would be the classes white board. I could really see this being cool if every student was at a computer because they could write their answer or practice and it would show up on the "white board" on everyone's computer screen. But in rooms without a computer per student, I don't see it working too well. One other application I could see is for a teacher to put practice problems on his/her CoSketch board and then tell the students the website to go to. Then, at home, if they get stuck or need help, they can look at the teacher's example on the "white board" from home. Hmm....that could be interesting I guess. So, there are a few options to use with this CoSketch tool. Give it a try and see what works.
Encyclopedia of Life is like a Wikipedia for just life. This is because anyone can register and update an animal, plant, or any other lifeform's page. Doing a quick check of a few animals shows that the amount of data that could be supplied could be amazing, but many animals and plants do not have a large amount of information yet. But, could students, even middle school students, find an animal that is missing some basic information and research it? Then they could register for the site and post their new information? How cool would it be for students to write information on the Internet for billions of people to read someday? So, this site could be a place to start a research report on any living thing, but it could also be a place students eventually update with their own research. Give it a try!
Google always has the coolest and easiest tools, so I decided to try out Google's dictionary tool. I figured it would be like the rest of the online dictionaries, and it is to some extent, but in true Google fashion, the website is easy to find and navigate so I feel it is simply better than the others. You can get the word said aloud for you. You can get words in any language as it has over 50 languages. It gives the possible tenses of the words and well as sentences that use the word. It will even give images and other web defintions. This is a great site for looking up any word and if students can't remember the web address, they can just search "google dictionary". Give it a try!
Saturday, February 12, 2011
This is straight from the Google Docs blog and thought it might be helpful to our staff. The information was mentioned as new, but the date says it is from a year ago. I'm wondering if they just updated their blog. But I like this blog entry because it has some helpful videos at the end of the blog. Once you have watched the videos, I recommend that you just click "Doc Blogs" at the top and bookmark this site. New blog entries come all the time and I read a few and found them very helpful in learning more about Google Docs. So...this blog is a great blog to follow if you have a goal to learn more about how to use Google Docs (which would be a great goal by the way!).
Again, thanks to Dave at The Educational Technology Guy blog for these resources. I'm a big fan of Google and the resources they provide all of us. The scary thing is they provide way more than we likely even have time to test and research. Dave has created a list of 10 key Google resources that education can benefit from. We are familiar with Google docs and I plan to convert all of my documents to google docs this summer, but there are plenty of other things Google can do for you in this list. I highly recommend the Google Reader (this is where I get all of my blogs to read, including this one. You could also use Google Reader to get this blog sent directly to you!). I also recommend Google Chrome as your browser. If you are using Internet Explorer, our default, give Chrome a try. It is quicker and has more capabilities. Give the list a read and try some out....
And if you liked that list, here is another from Dave's blog. This one is for students and resources they can use to help the learning process. Google is mentioned again, but I like "teachers" being listed as #10. The Dweeber site is an interesting concept and I plan to look at the digital literacy sites more later this weekend. Give this list a look-see too and see if you can use it with students at all.
Thanks to Dave at the Educational Technology Guy blog, I learned about Science Monster. This website appears to be adding more as they go, but it is pretty lively and has some good information. I think it is geared towards upper middle school kids. I tried some of the games and some were pretty challenging. The topics are from all parts of the sciences (genetics, plants, physics, space, etc.), so there is a lot to look at. If you get a moment and teach science, see what parts are good. At the very least, add it to your science and student bookmarks.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Thanks to Richard Byrne of Free Technology for Teachers, here are 11 resources to try in 2011 if you teach math or work with students on math. I don't see Khan Academy here, but that site is a must for any math teacher. I can't imagine teaching without help from the Khan Academy and I can't imagine not telling students about it. Mr. Byrne has talked about it before and since it has more than just math, it is not on this list. I know Mr. Byrne likely hopes you are already using Khan Academy. As for the rest of the sites listed, I have not tried many, but I did register for TenMarks and could see that working in schools. I think it is basically a super power version of Skills Iowa however. Anyway, if you teach math, check out Mr. Byrne's blog and try some of these sites. Or better yet, have the students test them for you and write a review!
Saturday, January 22, 2011
I learned about both of these Flashcard sites from the same blogger: Dave of the Education Technology Guy blog. I played around with both and both are very cool and very interesting. I liked WordStash simply because I could look up the definitions of basically any word without even registering or making a flashcard. Plus, links to where those words are used online or how those words are pronounced are right there for easy access. As for Braineos, games with the flashcards that you make are the key function. Kids like games, so to encourage or assign kids to make flashcards and then letting them play games with those flashcards right away would be kind of fun. Both sites allow games with the flashcards, but Braineos focuses more on this part. I noticed kids or teachers could also log on to Braineos using their facebook or other networking log in, a nice added feature. If you like or want students to use flashcards, give one of these sites a try.
Just a quick post to alert you to another site that allows you to cut a Youtube video down to just the parts you want to show. This time it is a site named "snipsnip.it". I haven't used it, but it looks very simple to use and you don't need to register to use it. In other words, it can be used quickly if you find a Youtube video you want to use and don't want all the extra junk that comes with Youtube videos (unwanted parts of video, ads, comments, etc.). Give it a try!
This seems to be the new thing in the world of the Internet: Log on daily, enter your email, enter to win, repeat daily. Well, here is another one, but definitely one that would be awesome if someone from our building won first prize! First prize includes all sorts of technology with the big item being laptops for the classroom and a $5000 grant. There are many other prizes outside of the first prize as well. One blogger I heard about this from actually won something from Discovery Education last year. I will try to enter my email as many times as I can, feel free to log on and enter your email daily as well. Who knows....maybe one of us will get lucky!?!
Click here for contest details and enter your first entry!
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Thanks to Larry Ferlazzo and his blog Websites of the Day, here is a great blog entry with his 10 best education-related videos of 2010. Some of these are pretty short, others as long as 10 minutes, but all are very good in some way or another. If you get some "free" time in your team meetings or workday time, put one of these videos on. The Drive by Daniel Pink is pretty interesting. Some you may have seen before, but they might be worth a 2nd look. Have fun and visit Larry's blog or "follow" it.
I found the video in this long article very fascinating. Basically, the author (Tim Ferriss), is talking about the unique skill some people have where they can connect with anyone and draw people in and have people listen and focus on them. He uses Bill Clinton as an example. Politics aside, the former President had and still has an amazing ability to draw people in and cause them to listen and many times follow and be inspired. The video shows a small clip from a debate before the 1992 election and I was amazed at the difference between how the 2 candidates interacted with the questioner. So...how does this all relate to education? Well, students learn and parents listen if they can connect with teachers and be drawn into what they say and how they say it. Some are naturally born with this skill, but it is still a skill that can be practiced and perfected, much like President Clinton likely has done and still continues to do. If nothing else, give the video a quick watch and you will be amazed at how different their answers, body language, etc were.
Didn't have much time to focus on the big issues in education in 2010? Well, this short article breaks down the top 10 stories of 2010 in the world of education. Lots of interesting and good stuff with links to more information. As professionals, one part of our job is to stay up to date on the issues in our profession and with the busy other parts of our job, we tend to let this area slide. Take a moment this week or next and review the stories as I am sure some of these stories will continue to make headlines in 2011. Happy New Year!