Monday, August 29, 2011

New TED Talks about Autism and Other Mental Disorders

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!

Help Your Students Understand 9-11 By Watching It in Real-Time

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.

50 Best Websites of 2011

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

Google Chrome Extension App: Snapify

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.

Slide Bomb....Another Easy Slide Presentation Site

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

Google Chrome's Speech to Text App...I love it!

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!

Want to Make Flashcards Online? Want to Search for Flashcard Sets Online?

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!)

Manage Your "To-Do" Lists Online

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 "". 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 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!

A Whole Bunch of Ideas From Richard Byrne

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

Slidestaxx....a Very Cool Site!

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....

Best Sites for some Core Subjects

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+!

Infographics: An Obsession and Goal of Mine This Year

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!

Google+: Something We Need to Explore and Learn About This Year

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!

Iowa "Did You Know" Version: Learn about Today's Student and Iowa's Student

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....

TED Talk on Listening

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.

Help Students Learn about our Changing Economy

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.

First Day of School Ideas!!!

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!!