Friday, December 21, 2012

Tech Tips

Tech Tips from Room 224

Forwarding  Google Mail to Outlook:
While I'm a gmail advocate and hope others are using their school Google Account for communicating and collaborating with students, having two email accounts can be confusing and annoying. Until we migrate to all Google, there are ways to minimize the confusion. I've often been asked, how to forward the school Google mail to an Outlook mail address...a useful thing to do if you don't often go to your school Google account and students are sending/sharing things with you there. 
Here is a short video tutorial on how to forward gmail to Outlook. 

Creating Digital Stories with WeVideo:
WeVideo in Chrome Apps
Here is a short sample lesson with goals aligned to Common Core ELA standards: Digital Storytelling - Creating a Visual Narrative

Friday, September 28, 2012

Student Bloggers Can Change the World!

I recently was reading the TED Blog and was excited to see this article about a Scottish school girl who created her own blog and began to effect change in school lunches and the nutrition for many young people around the world.
In April of 2012, Scottish schoolgirl Payne started the blog, which documents her school dinners (otherwise known as school lunches in the United States) with ratings like “number of mouthfuls” and “pieces of hair” found in food. The idea was to raise money for the charity Mary’s Meals, while at the same time showing the world the low nutritional value of school meals.
The most revealing piece of this article is Martha's response to the question,
What have you learned from your blogging experience?
I don’t know why adults teach us to write and think then get embarrassed when we do it outside class. I love kids sharing their meals with me and I like sharing back. The internet isn’t just for adults — we can use it too. When everyone chips in, you can help children around the world like with Mary’s Meals.

Below is a TED Video of Clay Shirky talking about How the Internet Will (one day) Transform Government as he uses the 9 year old blogger as an example. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Gooru Offers Another Great Google Tip

Gooru Tip on New Google Spreadsheets Feature

Gooru once again provides us with a clear and useful tip on using a Google Tools. In this video they highlight the many new features in Google Spreadsheets, particularly in the ability to quickly edit charts. For those of you use use Google Charts its an update and for those that don't, maybe it will provide incentive to do so.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Google Drive Updates: Finally...

Finally, Google has made changes to improve tablet and mobile device computing. With the Google Drive App things have moved from simply being able to read a Google document on an iOS or Android device (iPad/iPod/iPhone or Android tablet or phones) to having enough functionality to actually create and edit documents. You can also create new folders and organize your documents from a mobile device. While it's not the full editor that you have on a computer, it's a lot closer than it was and enough to make it worth using as a collaborative writing tool.

The functionality on the Android devices is a little better as it has the "commenting" feature while on the iOS tablets/mobile devices commenting is not there. But like on a computer, you’ll be able to see other people’s edits instantly as they’re made which takes collaborative writing to another level of cloud computing. You can now also watch Google Presentations on a mobile device.

This upgrade makes me think that using Google Apps in a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) learning environment is much more feasible and affordable for schools. Or, setting up a classroom as blended environment using a combination of devices for students to allow both full functionality/creative tools to handheld mobile devices~ with some full suite laptops or desktops in the room that are priced in the $500-$600 range combined with Nexus 7 tablets at $199 (you could use iPads but at $500 each the Nexus 7 is more affordable). In addition, in the blended classroom students could use their own smartphones or hand held devices for the less intense creative work as well. Things like; document editing, reading, Internet searches, watching videos, recording short video/audio, managing their calendars, checking email, and leveraging some of the many mobile device apps for learning.

read more on the upgrade

Organizing Class Google Docs

gClassFolders - EdListen-Resources

Bjorn Behrendt (aka Bj) has created and shared a Google Script that automates the creation of a classroom management system in Google Drive.  For those who don't have a third party Google Extension like TeacherDashboard, and have the patience and where-with-all to create their own system by hand making folders for each class and student and setting permissions to allow the right kind of sharing this script will save a lot of time.  

Thanks Bjorn for sharing your work and making the Google world a better place! 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Hoarder, Curator or Creator

I wondered recently if I had become a hoarder of digital content; web and blog articles, links, resource, as well as twitter posts, and Google+ posts. I have gotten pretty good at finding, filtering and following key people online in the educational field who freely post amazing, informative and inspiring works online for others to learn from. So, I don't have to spend enormous amounts of time searching for articles or resources, they are fed to me through my Personal Learning Network that I have developed. While I sometimes contribute to these networks, more often I am the recipient of this wealth of information related to education and technology. I see it as my job to pass the most relevant pieces onto teachers and administrators who I work with via email or I will re-post, re-tweet, or share within Google+ .  I also use this blog as a vehicle for transferring digital content to people who might read my blog.
In hopes of not being inflicted with a digital hoarding disorder, I thought that maybe this hoarding was a form of "Digital Curation" not unlike new digital media publications like The Daily Beast where they pull content from other sources into their media publication...they don't produce the content they feed it to others. The fact that this is a valid practice and advances information and knowledge to the world makes me feel less of a hoarder and more like a curator of information. I learned from wikipedia that The Daily Beast is actually a form of Channelisation where...
The curation of content can be done by an independent third party, that selects media from any number of on-demand outlets from across the globe and adds them to a playlist to offer a digital "channel" dedicated to certain subjects, themes, or interests so that the end user would see and/or hear a continuous stream of content.
Whether I am a digital curator, hoarder or channeling information to others I am aware that I also need to be a creator of digital content. For it is in the "doing" that we learn best and if all I do is re-tweet, re-post or channel information then I am not thinking and learning.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


I've been a fan of Garr Reynolds for a long time and always come back to his site and videos when suggesting Presentation resources to teachers and students.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Google Teacher Academy Hopes

I completed my application and one minute video for this years application to the Google Teacher Academy just before the midnight deadline on Sunday. While I realize the odds are slim, they only take 50 educators from all over the world, each time I apply I have hopes of attending this intensive training with Google experts and other educators who get excited as much as I do about using Google for teaching and learning. I wish I had had more time to edit the video, I missed a few point I wanted to make about online learning and the flipped classroom. Oh well, wish me luck.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Power Searching with Google

I wanted to share a Google learning opportunity with you all. I'm currently taking a free online course called Power Searching with Google
There are six classes where you watch a video, practice the searches, take a quiz and discussion your findings in a forum. You take a mid-class assessment and final assessment and if you pass you get a Google Power Searcher certificate (I have an image everyone who passes wearing Power Ranger like uniforms with Google logos but that's just the Google Geek in me;) There will also be a couple of Google Hangouts (video is one that was held this week ( I believe the classes will be available until the end of July. Each class takes about 40 minutes to complete and contains a lot of useful information on using Google searches. So, if you have time and inclination it's a good opportunity to learn more about Google Search. I am finding that I thought I knew enough to use Google Search effectively but there are subtle terms/operators and techniques to use for being a "Power Searcher."

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Review of Focus

Our district administrators are currently reading Mike Schmoker’s book “Focus.” Out of self interest I felt the need to keep up with where our leadership might be heading so I purchased the Kindle version of Schmoker’s book and read it on my iPad yesterday.
My initial reaction was that I should update my resume. If Schmoker’s prescription for reform is bought wholesale then as the technology integration specialist for the district my role is not needed. Schmoker doesn’t consider technology as a valid means of achieving what he considers the three “essential elements” for school reform; what we teach, how we teach and authentic literacy. While I agreed with the main premise of Schmoker’s book which is to “focus” on what is essential for good teaching and learning, I don’t agree that we need to turn the clock back and ignore the fact that we live in a world that uses technology as an everyday tool. I don’t believe Schmoker has ever seen a classroom that modeled effective technology integration given his comments such as  “faddish, time-gobbling activities,” nor does he seem to be aware of current research and successful 21st century learning initiatives that  “harness the deeper learning skills of critical thinking, problem solving, effective communication, collaboration, and learning how to learn to help students develop a strong foundation in traditional academic subjects.” as advocated by the Hewlett Foundation.

Another one of my concerns, (besides being eliminated;)  is that if the district were to adopt this approach and go back to the 20th century model of teaching that Schmoker suggests it would provide the excuse for many to continue the lecture based, stand and deliver instruction we have in many classrooms which ignores the full potential for differentiating and engaging students through digital learning. It would also invalidate or dismiss the work of many who are successfully integrating technology into their classrooms to differentiate and engage students in learning using current online technologies and resources rather than static outdated textbooks. In addition to being anti-technology, Schmoker does not seem to believe in differentiation or student centered learning.

I hope our administrators read this book with the same critical lense that we expect from our students as they read informational text to become informed learners. Schmoker’s message for focusing on what is essential and to simplify are worthy goals, but the fact that his book is more opinion than research and his suggestion that we go back to old ways of teaching ignoring the fact that students live in a different world than when he first taught 20 years ago are not valid reasons for adopting this approach wholesale.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

What does it mean to be literate in a digital world?

This is a question I have been asking myself and others for some time, particularly with the constant changes in how we communicate and find information online, as well as the fact that more and more of us have access to online digital devices. How is the way we teach literacy skills in school keeping up with what it means to be literate in a world where information is no longer just printed text on paper? Are students using digital literacy to develop understanding and engage in their learning?
Steve Covello outlines the subdisciplines of the digital literacies as information literacy, computer literacy, media literacy, communication literacy, visual literacy, technology literacy. Since his list in 2010, I would add the newer domain of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc...) To be literate in today’s world is to be able to access online information, comprehend it at high levels, critically evaluate information as to it’s reliability and credibility, as well as create, collaborate, communicate, curate and publish all within the subdisciplines of digital literacy.

In the past many of these disciplines have been in the purview of the Librarian/Media Specialist  or Technology Class where students learn about online research, created media products and learn basic technology skills. The new digital literacy skills are “literacy skills” and must be embedded into classroom curriculum and literacy instruction. “Review of research on reading comprehension concludes that the Internet requires additional comprehension skills beyond those required for reading traditional print texts (RAND Reading Study Group, 2002).” Yet, when we teach reading and writing we focus on text based materials. While traditional reading and writing skills are the foundation for being a literate person we need to expand teaching of traditional literacy skills to include the new digital literacies. 
I believe this is an opportunity to transform teaching and learning as we align curriculum to the Common Core to embrace the digital learning that is embedded into and expected from the Common Core State Standards. As we adjust our curriculum to meet the new standards, we should be looking for ways to shift traditional text based activities to digital learning opportunities. One example of a new literacy activity might be, instead of student's writing book reviews and passing them in as papers have them create and publish video trailers, or create and publish their own book review blogs.  
Listen to Glynda Hull from University of California Berkeley talk about this opportunity and review the Google Presentation created by Maggie Eaton, Middle School LA teacher/Curriculum Leader and myself. As you listen to Glynda and go through the slideshow consider how you might begin to embrace the new literacies.

How can we learn more about what it means to be literate in a digital world? 
How can we shift classroom practices to provide opportunities for students to learn and use digital literacy skills?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Monday, April 30, 2012

Common Core & SBAC

The new Common Core Standards have begun to take the stage and will become the focus of administrators and educators everywhere. While some may see Common Core as just more standards replacing old ones, others will see it as an opportunity to transform the way we teach and learn. There are many layers to the Common Core, professional development and time for teachers to implement these and to re-align their curriculum and lessons to these new standards is paramount. An integral piece to the Common Core which makes my heart flutter is the embedded technology and the potential for shifting to 21st century learning. As Common Core planners begin the process for developing PD training, I hope they have Technology Integration Specialist on those teams who can help guide the process of transformation.
While I see the CC as an opportunity to transform our schools to 21st century learning environments, I'm not blind to the fact that it also continues the traditional testing of student knowledge and understanding. Hand-in-hand with Common Core is SBAC, Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium. Where starting in 2014-15, students will be taking the new state standard tests on computers. This raises many questions, from the hardware and infrastructure required for the computer adaptive testing (CAT) to the deep level of thinking and knowledge that it will ask of our students. The easy problems to address will be the hardware. Here is a link to SBAC's page on Technology. One question I've seen is about using tablets or iPads for the CATesting. According to the SBAC website, they will conform to the specs but may require attached keyboards, not virtual keyboards.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Google Docs New Management Tool

Today we introduced our new Google Docs management tool, Teacher Dashboard created by a company called Hapara in New Zealand. It's a great way for teachers to quickly see and access all their student documents even if students haven't shared them. The TD is flexible in how you can setup categories to organize documents, we went with traditional folders for Science, Language Arts, Social Studies, Math and Inquiry. This will hopefully, make it easier for students to organize their documents in addition to teachers. In a few weeks we will add the ePortfolio template that teacher have been working on and where students will be using to showcase their work.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Google Sites Help

Google Sites Help: by Julie Schlafer Sharma

One of the best Google Sites resources I've seen. Not only does it provide clear, relevant information on creating a Google Site, it models best practice for website design.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Visual Literacy ~ using Infographics

 visual literacy, or the ability to evaluate, apply, or create conceptual visual representations.

 Transform abstract thought efficiently into graphic, tangible forms

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Beauty of Algebra | Core Algebra | Khan Academy

I'm a Khan convert.  I think this resource provides teachers and students with an opportunity to differentiate and explore the "flipped classroom"  especially in mathematics. Did you know that you can become a "coach" and monitor your student progress?  And, Khan isn't just math? Check it out at:

Why “Infographic Thinking” Is The Future, Not A Fad | Co.Design: business + innovation + design

Why “Infographic Thinking” Is The Future, Not A Fad | Co.Design: business + innovation + design:

 This isn’t just "how to make some numbers and vector graphics look clever together." It’s a narrative language--it’s "representation plus interpretation to develop an idea," to quote Franchi.

What a great opportunity for math and art teachers to collaborate and provide students with engaging new ways of representing their ideas and analysis of information. I love the idea of this being a "narrative language" it's a wonderful example of "new literacies" and how we communicate visually in a digital world. Why are we still having students create powerpoints that take words or graphs from text or online and regurgitate them in a slide show...when they could be creating visual representations of their interpretation of an idea?

Francesco Franchi: On Visual Storytelling and New Languages in Journalism from Gestalten on Vimeo.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

400 Free Online Courses from Top Universities | Open Culture

400 Free Online Courses from Top Universities | Open Culture:

'via Blog this'
The list is extensive, only limitation is making the time to take these courses. I am determined to have the self-discipline to complete at least one by June.