Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Bill Nye iPad App

Who doesn't love learning about science from Bill Nye The Science Guy? His videos were a huge part of my classroom instruction when I taught 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade for years. Bill Nye's videos were entertaining and factual and students love them. He now has an iPad app that can access some of these videos as well as activities to reinforce science concepts. Students can "sit" at Bill Nye’s desk and choose what they want to learn about. There is some in app purchase material, but much can be done with no cost.

Below are some screen shots of the app in use. It is a great app to have students learn about science.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Prezi: A Great Online Presentation Tool

We all love great presentation tools. PowerPoint was the only option for a long time, but there are many now. With so many other presentation tools available, which one should you use? I like Prezi for certain presentations. It is a great tool to hold students interest as it can be animated and even have a 3D look. It is more interactive (the viewer can control the flow if you set it up that way) and it is web-based so it is accessible anywhere! There are great templates to use and it is easy to begin, and sharing presentations is a snap! You will need an account so head over to www.prezi.com to get started!

(All text below comes from the Prezi Site.)

Collaboration made easy

Prezi simplifies the collaboration process. Brainstorm and co-create with 
your team in the same prezi. Work separately or in real time so you can see others' edits instantly.

One version, no confusion
Prezi reduces the clutter of multiple emails and multiple versions. All co-editors make their changes to the same prezi. Working together in one shared space simplifies the creative

Co-create Online
You don't have to be in the same room — or even the same time 
zone — to be on the same page. Work separately on your own time, 
or together in real time.

Present Remotely
After you co-create your presentation, present it as well. Invite your audience to join the presentation, seamlessly handing over the presentation lead to anyone, anywhere.

Prezi is our go-to tool for sharing complex data with clients. Multiple analysts can put together a data set in real time."
Isaiah McPeak, Analyst/presenter at 9Lenses.com
"Prezi is our favorite tool for working on cross-department topics and team-related tasks: roadmaps, project, planning, and presentations."
Joanna Funck, Teamleader at GENERATIONDESIGN ®
"Prezi helps my students work simultaneously, both in the classroom and from home in real time and the results have been phenomenal."
Jeremy Ridgeo, Teacher at North Fort Myers High School

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Printing on Post-Its

Here is the answer to every teachers' prayers. We all use Post-its. They are everywhere in or lives: on our desk, computer monitor, books, lesson plans, stacks of papers to grade, dash of our car...everywhere! I know if you are like me you get tired of writing the same thing on Post-its you use all the time. Wouldn't be nice if they come pre-printed with what you wanted on them? Sure, you can go to Vistaprint or other companies and get a set made, but that is time and money. Here is the easy solution. Print them yourself! Download the templates below, rip into a stack of Post-its, stick them on the paper in the square, open the doc on your computer, and type away! Really...why didn't I think of this years ago. It took stumbling on it on the internet to see how easy it can be!

Ideas for printing:
  1. Common notes to kids that require just a small edit
  2. Notes for student work (scores, writing prompts, edit ideas...)
  3. Lesson plan changes/ideas
  4. Student names to put on project, supplies, etc
  5. Group names for class groups
  6. Normal format note you write often to yourself or others
  7. Anything you write often. Just leave parts blank to fill in if needed.

Download these templates and get creating!

3 X 3 Post It Template

2 X 1.5 Post It Template

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

DENSI 2013: My Reflection of a DENmazing Experience

Wow! What an experience! I just got back from what I can only describe as the most incredible tech PD experience any teacher can be fortunate to experience. I spent 6 days at the University of Vermont with almost 150 other like-minded teachers learning, talking, laughing, collaborating, and experiencing what technology tools work in classrooms across the country. To me, DENSI2013 was a game changer!

What is DENSI2013? DENSI stands for Discovery Educator Network Summer Institute. This is a week long collaborative training opportunity put on by Discovery Education (you know, the same folks that bring us Mythbusters, Shark Week, Deadliest Catch, North America, Life, Planet Earth, and too many more to name...not to mention all that online streaming content we all use in our classrooms). Each year Discovery selects up to 125 DEN Stars (Discovery Educator Network Star educators) to attend a week long institute to share, learn, and collaborate. It is in one word, DENmazing.

Here is my reflection of this amazing week long learning experience.

From the start this was a different PD experience than any I had ever had. After getting checked into our dorm rooms (just like the old college days) we had our Press Photos taken (yes, I am now a celebrity!). Afterwards we had a BBQ meet and greet. This was my first DENSI, but I could see the connections of all the returning attendees. Hugs, smiles, and "glad you are backs" were everywhere! Each day meals were either in the dorm cafeteria or a common dining room and attendees would sit by (and make) new friends and connections each meal. In this way DENSI was the ultimate model in professional networking.

Now now week long conference can be only work al day. We had a few outings throughout the week in addition to the learning sessions. We traveled to Shelburne Musem and Shelburne Farms. We also attended a Vermont Lake Monsters baseball game. PD and Fun...who could ask for more?

Each day was kicked off with an impressive keynote speaker: Richard Byrnes, Hall Davidson, the DEN Team, and Dean Shaeski were highlighted. We were so fortunate to have these amazing speakers and resources for teachers all in one place! 

Most of the institute's days consisted of many sessions to choose from. Some were one hour while others were 2 hour sessions. There were more sessions that I wanted to attend than hours available. I had to make some tough decisions to not attend some sessions over others. But fear not...the good news is the collaborative and family-like mindset of all attenedees. All the sessions had notes posted and shared for all attendees. This means that we had access to all notes for sessions we could not attend. Did I mention how fantastic the attendees were? Below is a list of sessions I personally attended:

Conference Sessions I attended:

In addition to the scheduled sessions, the last day was set up as Unconference sessions. This gave attendees the chance to set up session that they wanted to learn more about or had expertise and wanted to help others with a topic. The best part of these unconference sessions was that they were collaborative. Questions were answered, direction was changed according to what the need was, and everyone had the opportunity to participate. These were truly fantastic! 

Unconference Sessions I attended:
  • Talking Faces (Morphe) and Apps to Extend
  • Digital Citizenship 101
  • Evernote and Edmodo
  • MacGyver Videos: iMovie
  • Mind Blowing Closed Captioning
  • Screencasting with Camtasia for Mac

All the sessions I attended during the week were fantastic. There was always a sense of collaboration and acceptance throughout each. I gained so much insight into new tech options that my head is still spinning. 

In short, DENSI is: 
Dynamic friends being made
Educational experiences gained
Never-ending connections developed
Summer Camp feel to learning
Insightful tech uses gained

DENSI2013 was full of almost magical experiences. These will stay with me as a teacher forever. It was much more than just another PD conference. It was more than just a gathering of like minded educators. It was more than just a great experience. The only thing I can compare it to was as a child I attended week long overnight summer camps each summer. The memories of those friends made and experiences still linger. DENSI is much like summer camp. The Joy, excitement, and life long feelings will always remain. DENSI was summer camp for adult (techie) kids! My fingers are crossed that I will be fortunate to experience it again! Thank you Discovery Education for this opportunity!

Check out the shared DENSI2013 Resources!
Check out the  DENSI2013 Photos!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Animoto: Easy Video Creation

Animoto is a video publishing tool that I’ve used with students over the last 3 years. It is easy to use and videos can be created very quickly.  The easiest way to create is by using the web based program.  There is also an app (both iPad and Android). I have used it with students as a presentation tool, and students love it. Students can create short videos using images/video, text, and build in music.  Students can create their own accounts for free, but are limited to 30 second videos.  If the teacher creates an Educational Account the length limit is eliminated.  Teachers then give a classroom code to the students to have an Educational Account as well. Videos can be shared by a web-link, YouTube, Twitter, embedding into a web page, and other services.  Below is an quick video I created to show what a finished video look like.

Head to www.animoto.com to get started! 

A note to educators...Create an Education Account and you get more themes and longer videos, as well as the option to create student accounts.  

Monday, July 22, 2013

Google+ Cheat and Keyboard Shortcut Sheet

Google+ is a great way to connect and communicate with other teachers. It is completely integrated with your Gmail account, but can be a little overwhelming to get use to using. Below is a great info-graphic I found (dated 2011, but still great information) from http://technostreak.com/ to help show all the cheats/keyboard shortcuts in Google+. The blog post is dated, but the shortcuts still work. Check them out!

The text below is from: 

Text formatting on your Posts
Google+ allows styling your post.You can make your post’s text,Bold,Italic orStrikethrough.
  • To make your text bold include it within an asterisk like this- *Technostreak* You will get as Technostreak
  • To make it Italic include the text within undescores like this- _Technostreak_ You will get as Technostreak
  • To strike through the text include it within hyphens like this- -Technostreak- You will get as Technostreak
Navigating through post Streams
On your Google+ home screen,Pressing the following keys would perform corresponding tasks.
  • J – Scroll to next post on stream
  • K – Scroll to previous post on stream.
  • Space Bar- Scroll down stream.
  • Shift + Space Bar- Scroll up stream.
  • Pressing Enter on a stream – Comment
  • After typing comment, Tab and then Enter - Post comment
  • Q - Go to Chat.
Mentioning others on comments and Posts
You can mention others in comments or posts by using + or @ before their name.
Permalink of the post Like on the Facebook,the time stamp acts as the permalink for any post on Google+.
The Profile picture If a person has more than one profile picture,Clicking on the Profile picture will rotate them.This is a unique feature on Google+
The chat box The chat box can be resized on Google+.Just place your cursor on the sides or edge of the chat box and it turns into a resizing pointer.Just click and drag to change the size to fit your need.
Private conversations To have private conversations make a post and share it with only specific people you want and disable Resharing the post.By this way the post will be visible only to the persons you selected and only the could comment.
Sharing Media sharing Photos,Videos,Links are much easier on Google+.Just Drag and drop them in the Post box to share.
Edit Photos You can edit the phootos uploaded by you using the Google+’s default photo editor.You can choose to edit a phito by clicking on Edit Photounder Actions menu.
Moving through photos on an Album You can move through the photos of an album with your Scroll wheel on the mouse.This would be simple and easy.
Public +1 Tab If ever you have +1 ‘d a link on the web, you could see the +1 tab on your profile.It is private by default.To make it Public, go to the tab and make a tick on the check box labeled Show this tab on my profile.
Mute a post If a post annoys you by reminding of comments on it, Click the Down arrow against the post which shows you a Drop down menu.ChooseMute this post and you will not be notified about the follow ups in future.
Sharing Details Next to the Time stamp on a post is the Sharing Details.If it shows Public then everyone could see it.If it says Limited, the clicking on it shows the individuals who can see it.

The infographic below from:

Google+ Plus Cheet Sheet
[Via: Technostreak.com]

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Flickr: A Great Way to Safely Share Classroom Images

Many teachers have a class blog or site where they publish photo-streams of class activities. This is a great way to have a home/school connection, but it does bring up the issue of students' images being publicly accessible. There is an easy way around this. Flickr is a photo storage site that can help protect images of students and only allow those the teacher allows to have access. In a class Flickr account, teachers can set groups and give access to parents though having them set up a Flickr account and granting them access. By doing this we allow parents to see pictures of activities at school, but keep their child's image a little more protected. Now, keep in mind that every parent from that year will have access to all images that year. This could result in a little more sharing of images than expected, but it is more private and better than publicly posting images. It is a great place to start to share student images. Below is some information directly from the Flickr site about privacy settings. I would set up a "set" for each school year and give parents access through the "friends" option (they will need to set up a Flickr account of their own) or send out a "Guest Pass" link (bottom of page).

Here is information from the Flickr site:

What if I don't want everyone to see my photos?

That's not a problem. Every photo has its own privacy settings. You can make a photo available to everyone (that's public, and includes people visiting the site who aren't Flickr members); make it visible only to your friends, your family, or both your friends and family; or keep it completely private.
Bear in mind that you can always see every image in your own photostream.
Changing the privacy level of any photo ("public" --> "friends", or "friends" --> "family") will change the image file name. This ensures that any photo truly becomes private.
Please note that this will "break" any photo that has been blogged elsewhere as the image file will have a new URL.

How do I set privacy levels on my photos?

Easy! You can specify the privacy level as you upload photos using the form or Uploadr or by email). You can choose: Public, Visible to friends, Visible to family, or Private.
You can also set a default privacy level for all your uploads.
To change the privacy levels on photos you've already uploaded, you have two options: Change the privacy level in the Owner settings section under the Privacy heading on the right of the photo page, or batch them in Organizr, then click "Permissions" and select "Who can see, comment, tag?"
As of April 20, 2007, changing the privacy level of any photo ("public" --> "friends", or "friends" --> "family") will change the image file name. This ensures that any photo truly becomes private.
Please note that this will "break" any photo that has been blogged elsewhere as the image file will have a new URL.

Privacy Uploading by Email

With our upload system, you can add a little bit of text (the pink bits below) to your Flickr email address (the green bits below) to set privacy levels as you upload. These permissions will override the default upload permissions you set here.
Let's say your magic email address is foo13bar@photos.flickr.com. Then you could use:
foo13bar+friends@photos.flickr.com - Visible to friends
foo13bar+family@photos.flickr.com - Visible to family
foo13bar+ff@photos.flickr.com - Visible to friends and family
foo13bar+private@photos.flickr.com - Only visible to you
foo13bar+public@photos.flickr.com - Visible to everyone
Tip: Save the addresses you use frequently to your address book so you can email on the fly.

Can anyone leave a comment?

Most of the time, yes -- any Flickr member can leave a comment unless you say you don't want them to. We recommend that any Flickr user be able to comment on your photos... but you don't have to go that way if you don't want to.
In your account area you can specify default settings for what you'd like most of the time. You can change the setting for individual photos.
Please note, adding an image to a group will override your comment preferences and allow people in the group to add notes and comments.

I've uploaded photos and made them public. Where do they show up?

All sorts of places!
One page shows you all the photos uploaded to Flickr:
Your photo will also show up for your contacts, in a special list that shows them all photos uploaded by their contacts:
Photos on this page will also be governed by your relationships to your contacts and how you set privacy on a photo. For example, you upload a photo and set it to be visible to your family. Your contacts who you marked as family can see that photo. Other Flickr members can't.
Your public photos will show up in tag pages, too. And if one of your photos is reallyinteresting, it might show up on the Explore page!

Can I make a public photo private again?

Yes. The privacy setting you associate with a photo is completely flexible. You can show or hide any photo anytime you like.
Note: Changing something from public to private will remove favourites that have accumulated. This is because a favourite is like a bookmark, and if you change the privacy so someone no longer has access, they shouldn't be able to view it any longer.

Another way to to set up Guest Passes:

What is a Guest Pass?

You can share public photos in your photostream by copying the URL in your browser's address bar and pasting it an email. Anyone can see your public photos anytime, whether they're a Flickr member or not.
But! If you want to share private photos with people, use a Guest Pass. You can grant anyone access to the entire contents of one of your sets, including any private photos it contains. A Guest Pass is actually just that URL. This means that whoever sees that URL can access the set and all the photos inside it.
Go to the set or photo you want to share and click the "Share this" button. Then we'll help you either send an email to friends via Flickr or make a special web address (URL) that you can share.
Or if you want to give someone a link to see everything in your photostream including friends and family photos...

How long do Guest Passes last?

Guest Passes last until you choose to expire them.
You expire a Guest Pass you sent out on your Guest Pass History page. If you expire a Guest Pass, anyone who uses that Guest Pass will not be able to see the private content that the Guest Pass previously allowed access to.

Where can I see a list of all the Guest Passes I've sent out?

The Guest Pass history page shows all the Guest Passes you sent, to whom, and for which set. From that page you can resend an old Guest Pass (if someone didn't receive it, or you want another person to see the same thing) or expire an active Guest Pass.
By the way, on your Invite History page, we make a note of anyone who signed up for a new Flickr account as a result of using your Guest Pass. (If that happens, we'll make you two contacts as well.)

Why is the guest pass I sent not working?

If the guest pass wasn't received, have your friend check their spam folder to see if it was accidentally placed there by their email program. If you try sending it again and it doesn't get there, try using "Grab the link". This will give you a link that you can send directly from your email account. (you can also check your Guest Pass history to make sure you entered the address correctly)
If they are getting the link but the photos are not available to them, check the safety level on the photos. Images marked as restricted will not be viewable to people not logged into Flickr.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

I Can Statements in Planbook.com

Our district is using Planbook.com for lesson plans district wide K-5. This is a great program. I have created a quick "How To" on adding "I Can Statements" into your lessons. You will need to do this for each subject. You will see in the video that I had a document with the Math Standards already typed up. You will have to either find them (district created) or Google them. 

Google+: How To Introduction

Google+ is a great resource for teaching staff as well as students. It has the social aspect of "facebook" with the tie into your Google account. My district has just enabled it on our Apps accounts and I am just getting into using it more. I do have one piece of advice, make sure to turn off access for students under the age of 13. If they stumble on the Google+ sign in page and try to set it up, their account will be disabled as Google is sticking to the 13+ rule for social media. The best part is Google Hangout. Think of this as Skype or Facetime on steroids.  You can have multiple participants in a Hangout at the same time. This is greta for flipping classrooms, staff PD, or quick meetings. Even better yet, you can record these Hangouts and post them for later viewing! 

Google+ is a great part of your Google account! Log in and start playing around! Check out these Introduction Videos.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Class Charts: A Classroom Management Tool

Class Charts is a great classroom management tool for teachers. It allows teachers to create and manage positive and negative student behaviors and track students throughout the year. In a data driven profession, accurate behavior data is crucial at parent/teacher conferences, school-wide student meetings, and teacher/student discussions. Using Class Charts teachers are able to print reports (both individual as well as whole class) and give students and parents access to individual reports online. Nothing is as powerful for student motivation than clear charts showing positive/negative  behavior. A great feature is that that awarding behavior points can all be done in a seating chart setting. This means teachers are not searching for the student in a list (although that option is available).

In playing around with Class Charts I even ran across an issue that stumped me. I emailed the site and within 30 minutes it was resolved and I had an email back telling me with how it was fixed (it was in fact something I had changed in the settings). Talk about quick costumer service! Also, I hear there are more tweaks and aspects in the works!

Below are some screen shots to show the interface.

Awarding Behavior.

Modify your chosen behaviors.

Numerous "Rooms" with separate "Classes".  

Easy to read reports show whole class or individual students.

Class awarding screen can be set up in list format or "Seating Chart".

If you are looking at integrating a student behavior program for next year's class, I suggest you check out Class Charts and play around. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Evernote: Storing Student Data

Evernote is one of my all time favorite tools.  I used it for a long time just for personal things: clipping web sites (Chrome Extension), saving lists, saving notes, saving images, etc.  The greatest part of Evernote is that it is available EVERYWHERE!  As long as there is internet acces, all notes/notebooks are synced.  I use the web version when I am on someone else's computer, the desktop version on my own computer, the Android App on my phone, and the iPad App while at school.  It is am amazing program, not to mention it is FREE.  I found it most useful to collect/store student data while being a classroom teacher.  Here is how I used it:

  1. I created a Notebook named "Classroom" within Evernote.
  2. I created 1 note for each student in my class within that Notebook (I named the notes "Last name, First Name" so I could find them quickly)
  3. I used the template below to store important data on each student so I had it wherever I was (home, class, CAT Meetings, conferences with parents, phone calls, etc...)

School Email:
School Email Password:
Moodle Password:

9-4-13: Some meaningful observation that I might want documented
9-23-13:  More things

9-22-13: Struggled with whatever test on such a such concept

10-22-13: Something that does not fit in the other categories

Here is what it looks like in an actual Evernote screen. 

I know there are many uses for Evernote as a teacher.  Let me know how you use it if you have any great uses within the classroom!