Thursday, November 11, 2010

Class Discussion...100% Participation!

I may be on to something here...

I have just ventured into some uncharted ed-tech territory, and I think it went fairly well considering it was my first run. My sophomores are reading George Orwell's Animal Farm, and we're about halfway through the book. I wanted to reward them for working so hard on the first half of the book, so I figured I would show about 25 minutes of TNT's film adaptation just to give them more insight to the story.

Then I thought, "What good is watching a movie if there's no discussion or follow-up to create opportunities for deeper understanding?" This is where the technology came into play. I used Today's Meet, a web application that is very similar to Twitter. Students are given a web link that directs them to a virtual chatroom where they create a screen name and are able to submit comment of 140 characters (letters, numbers, spaces). I originally heard about Today's Meet in Richard Byrne's blog Free Technology for Teachers. You can take a look and read his post on Today's Meet and other backchanneling tools.

I printed off the 15 page transcript of my 1st period class discussion, and I look forward to re-reading our discussion to take a closer look at who was actually doing some real thinking.

I will be posting our discussions at a later time for you to take a look at. In the meantime, I strongly encourage you to visit Today's Meet and think about ways you can incorporate this tool into your own curriculum.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Need Math Help?

While checking my Google Reader subscriptions, I came across an excellent math resource on Kevin Cummins' excellent blog Edgalaxy. He featured the site This site includes lessons, worksheets, and exercises for students, teachers, and maybe even parents who need to brush up on some their math skills so they can help out with their kid's after-dinner homework. After about 5 minutes of browsing around, I was able to figure out how to determine GCF (greatest common factor). This was something I distinctly remember struggling with as a math student back in my own grade school days.

Maybe can help you out? Check out the site here.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Save Yourself a Few Seconds With Quicker Printing!

I just picked up this tip from a conversation I had with Janice Ventresco. She told me how to store my print username and password, which allows me to skip the step of typing it in when I need to print. Follow these easy steps to save yourself a few extra seconds everyday:

Step #1 : Go the print screen just as you would to print any document, PDF, or spreadsheet. Select "Properties" option

Step #2: Select the "Details" option

Step #3: Story your username and password!

A simple solution to a simple problem. Thanks Janice!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Daily Student News Broadcast by CNN!

My most recent post highlighted a great resource in C-SPAN Classroom. A related website that would benefit students from a variety of content areas is CNN Student News. This is a great resource for current events that I have come across recently. This website features a new 10 minute news broadcast everyday targeted for middle school and high school viewers.

Check out "What is CNN Student News?" for more information, or go directly to the website to watch the latest broadcast. Discussion questions and other teacher materials are also provided by CNN Student News. Follow any of these links to take a closer look.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

C-SPAN Classroom for Social Studies Teachers

C-SPAN Classroom is a free membership service for social studies, history, or government teachers who are looking to pull relevant C-SPAN programming into their curriculum. C-SPAN Classroom also offers instant access to over 100,000 videos featuring the latest political speeches, congressional proceedings, and news conferences. Take a moment to browse through this one-of-a-kind website! Video clips, current events, debate topics, discussion questions, lesson plans, and much more can be found at C-SPAN Classroom.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Stay Informed With Google Reader

In today's age of technology,
news and information can be found everywhere. Aside from newspapers, magazines, and television, people access the Internet from their computers and mobile devices to stay up to date on the latest news and information from a variety of sources. Instead of visiting each of these sources and checking to see if anything new has been added, why not have the news delivered to you? Google Reader gives you the ability to read and follow multiple blogs and websites from one location. Any page that has an RSS (Really Simply Syndication) feed can be added to your Google Reader listing.

Take a look at My Blog List for a few really good education/technology blogs you can follow. All you need is a Google Account to get started. For more information go to Google Reader or check out the video below.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Never Leave Your Files Behind With Dropbox!

For the past 3-4 weeks, I have been able to access files on my school computer from my home computer by using Dropbox. By downloading this simple to use software, you can save all your documents, pictures, and files to one location and access them from multiple locations.

Here's how it works. Simply install Dropbox to the computers from which you wish to access your files. A "My Dropbox" folder will be created. Save any files to that folder and the other computers are automatically synced with your saved files. You get 2 GB of storage space for free, but you can upgrade at any time. This great resource eliminates the need for flash/USB drives and emailing files back and forth.

If you'd like more information about how to use this tool, please email me! Here is a video that explains what Dropbox is and how it works:

Thursday, August 26, 2010

My #1 Ed Tech Resource!

For any educator serious about incorporating technology into their curriculum, a good place to start would be with Google. Over the years I have found Google to be so much more than a search engine. Google Apps has been a major part of my classroom and will remain so into the 2010-2011 school year.

Google Docs is one of the tools I frequently use. This video provides an excellent overview of Google Docs...

Here is a video that highlights Google Sites.
I have used Google Sites to create my own class website. It was fairly easy to do. There are a number of templates to use to guide you along the process. Kelley Hartman, a high school language arts teacher, also created her class website using Google Sites. This is yet another tool that I have put to good use in my classroom...

For more information on the various tools that Google offers, go to the Google website and register for an account. All the services are free and easy to use. In future posts I will go into more detail about a few of the Google resources that I think are especially valuable to educators who wish to incorporate more technology into their classroom.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Thoughts of a Beginning Blogger

I'm doing it, I'm starting my blog. I'm not sure exactly what this adventure will entail, and I cannot help but feel somewhat apprehensive (okay, EXTREMELY apprehensive) about this journey. I find myself constantly thinking about what I possibly have to contribute to the community of bloggers, educators, and Web 2.o enthusiasts. This apprehension has led to more and more questions. Besides the uncertainty, I cannot help but feel completely absorbed in the possibilities. Here are a few of my thoughts as I begin my journey...

How do they do it? Larry Ferlazzo, Richard Byrne, Sue Waters, Steven Anderson, Shelly Terrell, Kristen Swanson, Jeremy Macdonald? This is only naming a few. These are the educators that I have followed for months, and when their new blog posts come rolling through my Google Reader, I am always amazed. Everyday it's a new tool, website, resource, idea, or reflection on what they have dedicated their time and efforts towards - education, technology, and helping others. Not only are these bloggers passionate about what they do, they manage to find unique and practical resources time and time again. How do you guys do it?

Why didn't I think of that? I mean seriously... Richard Byrne's idea about leaving a video for your students when you have a sub? What an awesome idea! So simple, yet effective. Then I think to myself, "I can do that!" That would totally work. Not to mention the thousands, literally thousands of other posts he has on his one-of-a-kind blog Free Technology for Teachers

Is this too much? I find myself tinkering around online for hours at a time trying to update my class website, read a few blogs, develop my PLN through Twitter, make connections on English Companion Ning and The Educator's PLN. Next thing I know I'm reading Jeremy Macdonald's post "Life Happens."
What an awesome post that was. It really made me think about the possibility of too much connectivity. I immediately shut my computer down and go give my wife a hug and a kiss. I really want to contribute something, but not at the expense of missing out on what's really important.

Where do I see myself in...? I think more and more about where I want to be in 3 years, or 5 years. I think about how great it would be to be able to help educators successfully integrate technology in their classrooms. Then I read Steven W. Anderson's post "I Wonder if This Social Media Thing Will Ever Catch On." Steven talked about leading a professional development seminar in Philadelphia with all these other ed tech leaders in attendance. One part of this really caught my attention. Here's what he said:

"I was sitting at the head of a very long table. Along both sides of this table were people I mainly know from Twitter. There were teachers, technology integrators, administrators, professors, and others but all were truly amazing educators. I looked down the table and thought to myself, how did I get here?"

How cool that must have been! I would love to be part of a group like that. Maybe not as the person sitting at the head of the table (you're the man, Steven!), but at least a seat in the corner just listening in on things.

Where do I start? With all the great blogs out there, with all the great technology minds, with all the resources, I always question what can I possibly contribute. Then I found an answer. It came to me through listening in on Steve Hargadon's opening keynote for The Reform Symposium. He said something that really stuck. He said we "need to get past our perceptions that participation [in Web 2.0] is only for the elite." That made perfect sense. I'm not trying to take over the ed tech world, I'm just trying to offer whatever guidance I can to educators who may not be aware of the potential. I'm mainly focused on my school district. I think there are ways technology can be used to improve instruction that sometimes get overlooked. I'm hoping Avon Tech Resource for Educators will have something useful. Maybe it will be just enough to encourage the next
educator to follow in the footsteps of Larry Ferlazzo, Richard Byrne, Sue Waters, Steven Anderson, Shelly Terrell, Kristen Swanson, Jeremy Macdonald... or me! Guess I'll get started and see what happens.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

So it begins...

This is my very first blog entry! I'm excited to begin this exploration of education and technology, and I hope to provide useful information not only to teachers in the Avon Local School District, but educators from any location who have an interest in classroom technology integration.