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.