Thursday, December 17, 2009

Weekly Tech Tip - Twitter for Teachers

Twitter is quickly becoming a valuable and popular tool for teacher professional development. This week's TIES conference was a testament to that. This week's tech tip is a beginner's introduction to Twitter for Teachers.

Tech Tip:

Presentation by Caitlin Cahill (presented at the TIES conference) on Twitter for Professionals:

Twitter-Related Links:

TIES Conference Roundup:

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Weekly Tech Tip: Digital Media, Social Tools, and Ethics

Weekly Tech Tip:

Blog Carnival:

Link Stew

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Weekly Tech Tip - Research, Collaborate, Create, Publish and Repeat

Weekly Tech Tip:

Last week I sent everyone the results of our student technology survey. Today I came across a fascinating article that can help inform our analysis of this data. UCLA recently did a study on the effect internet use has on our brains that seems to support some of our findings. A lot of this data proves things we already knew, namely that engaging students in projects that require higher-order thinking results in greater student achievement and more cognitive growth. However, this also means we need to keep this in mind when we are designing learning activities and assessments for our students. One general area that this study finds very positive benefits with is student blogging and website building which is a rather low-impact activity we can integrate into many of our classes. In this screencast I talk through the findings from UCLA, contrast them with our school's survey results, and show where you can go to get students involved with blogging or building websites. If you are interested in integrating this into your classroom don't hesitate to ask for assistance.

Blog Carnival:
Link Stew:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Weekly Tech Tip - Data Mining (results of a technology survey given to 7-12 students)

Tech Tip:

This week's tech tip is not so much a tip but rather a report. Earlier this week all students grades 7-12 at Goodhue Schools took a survey about their own personal computer use, what they have access to at home, and their attitudes toward school (click here if you would like to see a copy of the survey questions). The survey produced some interesting results that should help us to make informed decisions regarding technology policy, purchases, and instruction. Please take a moment to look over these results. Did you find any of these results surprising? Does knowing this information change anything about what we expect of students or what we can or should do?

Link Stew:

Friday, November 13, 2009

Weekly Tech Tip - Vuvox

Weekly Tech Tip:

Many of us assign students presentation assignments where we have students create slide show presentations with PowerPoint or Google Docs either to enhance an oral presentation or as a stand-alone project. However, when we do this three issues almost always emerge: 1. Many of their presentations are too information heavy (too many bullet points); 2. Students (and teachers too) will be tempted to read their slides instead of using their slides to support what they are saying in their presentation.; and 3. Too often students get caught up in the flashy features of PowerPoint and don't focus enough energy on the content. There are many free web-based multimedia presentation tools that can solve or at lease alleviate some of these problems. In the Digital Backpack I have many of these tools collected under the category "Multi-Media Presentation." For this week's tech tip I walk you through how to use one of these tools called "Vuvox."

Link Stew:

Blog Carnival:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Weekly Tech Tip - Integrating Math with Scratch & What is Moodle

Since last week was a wash in meetings and subbing for people out sick I missed my weekly tech tip. So, I am going to attempt to do two of these this week.

Weekly Tech Tip #1: Scratch

One of our district AYP initiatives is to integrate math into all content areas. One way to do this is by having the students use a program called Scratch instead of PowerPoint for creating presentations. Scratch is a free program by MIT that is a visual programming environment where students can create movies, animations, presentation, simulations, and interactive games by clicking and dragging puzzle piece-like commands into place. In the process, they are both creating a presentation for your class and working with algebra, complex linear algorithms, numeric reasoning, and logic skills. Scratch is appropriate for grades 3 and up though I have heard of some schools using it with students as young as 7 years old. We have it installed on all of the elementary lab computers and students in the HS can install it on their own student accounts.

Click Here to watch a screencast demo of scratch.

Click Here
to visit the Scratch website where you can explore Scratch resources and download the free software.

Weekly Tech Tip #2: What is Moodle

I have had a few requests from teachers to explain what Moodle is and why we should care as educators. This screencast attempts to answer those questions. I also have created a self guided Moodle course on how to use Moodle. If you are interested in taking this course or even just getting onto Moodle and playing around let me know and I will ask Aaron at WETC to create an account for you.

Click Here to watch my brief overview/tour of Moodle.

Moodle is boring! - Great Blog Post By Mike Walker at Edina Public Schools about Moodle teaching strategies.

Link Stew:

  • Edina Go Wireless CoP - Great resource put together by teaching and technology staff at Edina schools exploring 1:1 laptop use.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Weekly Tech Tip - Distributed Research with Google Forms

Now that school has started, we are over the beginning of the year hurdles, and homecoming is out of the way the time is right to resume our weekly technology tips. Each week I will create a video with an education technology tip and post links (listed under "Link Stew") of interesting and useful websites, literature, videos, or other online content I come across. I am adding a new category this year called the blog carnival where from time to time I will post a series links to interesting and thought provoking education blog posts.

Weekly Tech Tip:

Related links:

Links Stew:

This week's link stew is really a highlights list of sites I found over the summer.
  • World Texting - Send free text messages to cell phones from your computer (I have used this with students in the past to curb problems with cell phone use in the classroom. Text questions to students, send private messages such as "Pay attention!," or give quizzes.
  • Poll Everywhere - Create online polls and allow your audience (or students) to submit answers via SMS text messaging, Twitter, or on an online website.
  • ZuiTube - Kind of like YouTube for younger kids.
  • Lectr - YouTube for school lectures.
  • Storybird - Storybird is a site perfect for creative writing assignments. Students are given a bunch of photos that they are prompted to create a story around. The site allows you to arrange the photos and your text however you like in as many pages as you like. When you are done you get an ebook of your story. On the site it says that soon they will be adding the ability to order print copies of the books you create.
  • twittearth - This is sort of a mix between Twitter and Google Earth. It displays a globe and shows where people are Tweeting from.
  • Librivox - From this site you can dowload free audio books of books in the public domain. You can also volunteer to contribute by sending them recordings of book chapters you read. Could be a service learning project for any class.

Blog Carnival:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Weekly Tech Tip - March Updates to the Digital Backpack

Weekly Tech Tip:

Link Stew:

School's Out Forever - A series of shocking photos showing urban decay in Detroit. Click on the photo to progress to the next image.

the art teacher’s guide to the internet » Blog Archive » What will the future bring? - A couple weeks ago I showed you a clip I made playing around with augmented reality. Well, the clips presented here go a step beyond that. Imagine a digital phone that had a projector built into it that you carry around your neck that allows you to use any surface (even your hand) as a touch computer interface. This technology exists and is in development as we speak. Definitely worth a look.

Have Fun with Living History - Free streaming history videos & activities

langoLAB Spanish - Welcome -This site is kind of like the YouTube of language learning videos.

GOVERNOR PAWLENTY AND MINNESOTA STATE COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES CHAIR ANNOUNCE ONLINE LEARNING INITIATIVE -- November 20, 2008 - Long story short, if this bill passes our 8th graders (and all students younger) will need to take at least one online course in high school in order to graduate. Michigan already does this.

Scenes from the recession - The Big Picture -

Teacher Professional Partnerships: An Introduction - This video by Education|Evolving does an excellent job of explaining the rational for TPPs.

An Illustraded Explanation of Disruptive Innovation

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Weekly Tech Tip - Augmented Reality

I thought for this week's tech tip we all deserve a little play time. Augmented reality is a new and developing technology the blends the physical with the virtual. Last year Dawn Austin played around with this a bit using webcam games for adaptive physical education. Well, the technology has developed a bit more since then. Watch this short video and imagine the possibilities. Then, try it for yourself using the links below:

Tech Tip:

Try it out yourself:

Video Credits:

John Lennon - Imagine

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Weekly Tech Tip - Ning!

Weekly Tech Tip:

This week I have been playing with a great tool called Ning. Ning lets you create your own social networking site that you have control over. You can use it to set up a secure place for students, teachers, parents, or community members to interact online. It is free and quite powerful. There are also many Ning networks out there for teachers to join and share ideas and professional development experiences with other teachers.

Ning Screencast

Goodhue Teachers Ning - I create this Ning in the tutorial. If you want to play around as a user just join the site and wait for confirmation. I have it set so I have to approve members so it might be a couple hours or even days if done on the weekend. Use this as a sandbox for now.

I also have spent much of the week working on updating and adding modules to the Online Staff Technology Training. The following are new training modules available for you:

If you have any suggestions for training modules you would like to see or ideas for how I could improve these modules please let me know.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Weekly Tech Tip - Vocaroo

In this week's tech tip I show you how to podcast using Vocaroo. Vocaroo is a slimmed down uber simplified online tool that takes all the complicated steps out of podcasting. It allows you to record audio on their website, once done it automatically generates a unique URL and embed code for your recording. Could be a convient tool to use with students. I also walk through some recent changes I have made to the Digital Backpack and Online Teacher Technology Training.

Weekly Tech Tip:

Link Stew:

Industry Makes Pitch That Smartphones Belong in Classroom - This NY Times article discusses a pilot project, sponsored by the cell phone industry, to test the effectiveness of mobile technologies in the classroom. (Take with a grain of salt since the study is not unbiased). Their preliminary findings are showing some improvement in student math scores.

'The Objective of Education Is Learning, Not Teaching' - Interesting article reflecting on the purpose of education and the value of different teaching/learning styles. Asks an important question, "Is learning necessarily a product of teaching?"

A Colorado school district does away with grade levels - The Christian Science Monitor reports that a large Colorado School district (10,000 students) is doing away with grade levels in favor of a pure standards-based curriculum where students move along at their own pace.

WIZLITE - Tool that lets you highlight webpages and share them with others (like Diigo without the ability to add comments)

Education Week: Grants Available - Huge list of education related grants.

Twitter for Teachers - Fantastic resource to introduce teachers to Twitter

The Obameter: Tracking Obama's Campaign Promises - site that tracks Obama's ability to keep his campaign promises.

Jeopardy Labs - "allows you to create a customized jeopardy template without PowerPoint. The games you make can be played online from anywhere in the world. Building your own jeopardy template is a piece of cake. Just use our simple editor to get your game up and running."

Top Documentary Films - Vast online collection of quality full-length documentary films.


After school on Monday, March 23rd in the ITV room there will be a meeting for all interested high school teachers (Elementary teachers are welcome too) to consider WETC sponsoring a Project-Based Charter School within a School. I want to stress that right now this is just an idea but the idea potentially could mean close to $500,000 in state and federal grant money for our school which is huge considering the state of our economy. I have created a slide show that explains the ins and outs of this idea. If there is support behind this idea and we get all of our ducks in a row this school could open by fall of 2010. The idea behind this charter school is antitetical to the conventional view of charter schools. Typically charter schools have served as competitors to the traditional public schools. In this case the charter school and the traditional school would be mutually beneficial partners. If you are interested in this please fill out the interest form. If you have strong feelings one way or another please add your comments to the blog post.

Project-Based Hybrid Charter School Within a School Presentation & Interest Survey

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Diigo & Twitter

Tech Tips:

This week I have been playing around with a new tool that has grand implications for education and especially for research called Diigo. This tool is a great tool both for teachers and students. It allows you to highlight and annotate web pages, tag them, and see what other Diigo users have annotated on those same websites. I have wanted to play around with this tool for some time but until this week was not able to because of filtering issues at school. Therefore, this week's tech tip actually comes from Clay Burell (an education blogger at

Another tool that until today we had filter troubles with is Twitter. You may have heard of Twitter, it is referenced a lot in the media. Twitter is one of those tools that is so simple it's implications are grand. Twitter is what we call a microblogging platoform. That is, you post text to your Twitter account in what are called "Tweets" that consist of 140 characters or less. You can choose people with Twitter accounts to follow, you can search Twitter for the occurance of certain words or phrases. You can create a hash tag for users to use to establish an online discusssion. The possiblities are really wide open for how you can apply it in your classroom. To illustrate/demonstrate the power and usefulness of Twitter Will Richardson @ Weblogg-ed posted a fantastic video a couple weeks ago:

Link Stew:

Teacher Magazine: Education chief: Schools crucial to recovery - Interesting article related to the the economic stimulus package

Classroom Architect - Online tool that helps you arrange your classroom.

A $10 Laptop in India - This story has been getting some buzz lately. Evidently the Indian government has put out a challenge to produce a laptop that can be sold for under $10. While they have yet to produce such a device some optomists see this as a very real possiblity in the near future (just look at where calculators went from the 1960s to today) while skeptics point out that you can't even buy the components to make the screen for $10. Still, an interesting story to watch. What will happen in our classrooms in 5-10 years when laptops (or other portable internet enabled computing devices) are as cheaply acquired and widely available as calculators?

whspr! | Get Emails Without Revealing Your Email Address

Save The Words - fun and interesting way to learn obscure English words

Brewster Kahle builds a free digital library | Video on

Free Bingo Sheet Generator - This is a great online tool for creating custom Bingo cards. It allows you to enter words or if you are tech savvy it lets you enter html which allows your cards to have pictures, videos, or any other embeddable object.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Google Docs - File Management

As we move forward with our curriculum alignment using Google Docs many of you are likely to find it difficult to locate your files unless you sort them into folders. This week's tech tip is on how to create and use folders in Google Docs.

Tech Tip:

Also, I thought I would share some other bits of interest I have come across this week. Lets call it, "Link Stew."

Link Stew:

Educon2.1 - Last weekend was Educon2.1 in Philadelphia. This was the second annual Educon Conference (or rather unconference). This unconference is quickly becoming one of the biggest events in education in our nation. It is an unconference because there are no formal session presentations. Rather each session is a conversation. While each conversation is led by a facilitator who has the ability to frame the conversation the focus is on dialog. The conference sessions were streamed live this weekend and people were able to attend virtually. The conversation simultneously happend on a backchannel chat window. Sometime this week we can expect the session archives to be posted to this site so people can watch recordings of these sessions. This conference brings together more big name educators and education leaders than any other.

2009 Horizon Report - Each year The New Media Consortium and EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative collaborate to produce the Horizon Report. The Horizon Report identifies emerging technologies that are likely to have a great impact on technology in the near future (1-5 years). Interestingly, the two technologies predicted to have the greatest impact in the next two years are: 1. Cloud Computing applications such as Google Docs; and 2. Mobile Technologies such as the iPhone and iPod Touch.

Literacy Information: Reading Lists - This is a resource orriginated by an Osseo Area elementary teacher to help collaborate with other teachers to share lesson plans and identify age appropriate books by topic.

The Silent Epidemic - While this is not new (it was published in 2006) I do think it is worth a read if you have never seen it. The Silent Epidemic is a summary of research that was funded by the Gates Foundation that identifies reasons why students drop out of school. It is by far the most comprehensive study ever done on the subject.

Street With a View - Street With a View is a large-scale art project recently done in Pitsburg that utilizes Google Maps "Street View" as it's medium. It is the first documented time "Street View" has been used as an artistic medium. If you are unfamiliar with "Street View," it is a feature in Google Maps that allows you to virtually drive down streets in most major cities (They even drive past Goodhue now). Google stitches multiple images together to create an immersive environment that can be viewed in 360 degrees.

clevr - clevr is a new online service/tool that lets you take pictures from a normal digital camera and stitch them together to make 360 degree panoramas. It is free and worth a look. This tool will also be in the digital backpack the next time I update it.