Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Twitter: The Year in Review - Follow 'Em

Tuesday, June 29, 2010 marks the 1-year anniversary of when I signed up for twitter. In many ways, twitter has changed the way I think, prepare, and collaborate as an educator. The following post lists my suggestions for "must follows" for any educator. I want to thank all of my "tweeps" for listening to my 140 character rambles, sharing great resources, and encouraging me to becoming a better educator.

@cybraryman1 @web20classroom @NMHS_Principal @Larryferlazzo @dianadell @stevejmoore

@ShellTerrell @jasonschmidt123 @henrythiele @mkratzer @rjacklin @rliberni

@dawblack @dgrice @MrA47 @OCTechguy @coachburk @kathymaske @luthedguild @AFogelman

@MDebrick @alhelmy @rlimback @marthaglover @karacornejo @gilmorekendra @pstewart @Kpoppitz

Click the link below to follow everyone from this post.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Twitter: The Year in Review - Top 10 Links

Tuesday, June 29, 2010 marks the 1-year anniversary of signing up for twitter. In many ways, twitter has changed the way I think, prepare, and collaborate as an educator. The amount of great resources, links, ideas, and discussion that come across my desktop are too numerous to count. It seems that every day I read about something new and innovative that can be used in the classroom. The following post lists 10 of my favorite links that I was directed to mainly because of my experience on twitter.

Diigo - "Research, Share, and Collaborate. Diigo is a powerful research tool and a knowledge sharing community." Diigo has been a great place to store and bookmark all the great links that are shared over twitter.

Reindeer Chorus - A fun Christmas website to use on your IWB, The Reindeer Orchestra. "Squash their noses or let the computer guide you through clicking the song you want to play."

Piratepad.net - A collaborative text editing site. A good collaborative website to assist students with research, communication, and group projects.

SMART Notebook Games - Multiple templates for creating games on the SMART Board (Memory, Wheel of Fortune, Deal or No Deal, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, etc.)

Prezi - A presentation tool that is a unique alternative to PowerPoint. I feel that PowerPoint can still serve a purpose for presentations, but Prezi provides another option for presenters to use.

30 Goals Challenge - Shelly Terrell's "30 Goals" series challenged educators to accomplish a series of short term goals at the beginning of 2010. Currently this summer, continue reading the "30 Goals Challenge" as guest bloggers share how they accomplished each of the goals.

Voicethread - Voicethread is a collaborative website that allows you to "talk about and share images, documents, and videos."

Free Technology for Teachers - Free Technology for Teachers is a blog with "free resources, ideas, and lesson plans for teaching with technology." Many posts come with "Applications for Education" to help integrate the featured technology into your classroom.

Today's Meet - "TodaysMeet helps you embrace the backchannel and connect with your audience in realtime." Create your own backchannel to use with students without having to sign up for individual twitter accounts.

Glogster - "Simply put, Glog is a kind of poster - fully designed by yourself! Glog is a fancy creation from text, images, music and video."

What has been your favorite resource that has been shared with you on twitter?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Google Resources

Resources for using Google in the classroom.

10 Google Forms for the Classroom

Sharing and Editing Options in Google Docs
From the Free Technology for Teachers website (posted June 18, 2010):
Google announced that they would be rolling-out the new version of the document editor to all users over the next couple of weeks. The new version includes real-time updates (no more refreshing to see what your collaborators have written), chatting with collaborators within your documents, margin settings, and floating images.

11 Helpful Cheat Sheets for Popular Google Products
From the Web Design Ledger website:
Think about all the tools you use each day to do your job. Chances are, more than one of them are made by Google. Google puts out great products that help us perform our daily tasks. Whether it be email, creating docs, or communicating with clients and colleagues, there seems to be a Google service for just about everything. But just like other tools and applications there are lots of features, which means more stuff to remember. So if you’re like me and have trouble memorizing things like keyboard shortcuts, we’re here to help. Here are 11 Helpful Cheat Sheets for Popular Google Products.

The Google Classroom
From The Google Classroom website:
There are many Google resources and applications that can be utilized in the classroom. (Here) you will find them organized into the following categories: Applications (downloads); Collaboration; Research Resources and Other Resources.

Google Apps in the Classroom [slideshow]
Slideshow and multiple resources/links for using Google in the classroom from Chad Kafka.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Digital Resources for Bloom's Taxonomy

The following resources will assist educators with using Bloom's Taxonomy while integrating technology into the classroom.

Bloom's Digital Taxonomy - Educational Origami
From the Educational Origami website:
This is an update to Bloom's Revised Taxonomy which attempts to account for the new behaviours and actions emerging as technology advances and becomes more ubiquitous. Bloom's Revised Taxonomy accounts for many of the traditional classroom practices, behaviours and actions but does not account for the new processes and actions associated with Web 2.0 technologies and increasing ubiquitous personal and cloud computing.
Bloom's Digital Taxonomy isn't about the tools or technologies rather it is about using these to facilitate learning. Outcomes on rubrics are measured by competence of use and most importantly the quality of the process or product. For example. Bookmarking a resource is of no value if the resource is inappropriate or worthless.

Bloom's Taxonomy Blooms Digital - Tech & Learning
From the Tech & Learning website:
In the 1990's, a former student of Bloom, Lorin Anderson, revised Bloom's Taxonomy and published this- Bloom's Revised Taxonomy in 2001. Key to this is the use of verbs rather than nouns for each of the categories and a rearrangement of the sequence within the taxonomy. They are arranged below in increasing order, from low to high.

Bloom’s Taxonomy and the Digital World - Open Education
From the Open Education website:
(Andrew) Churches work gives educators an excellent framework from which to begin to assess their digital practices. We recognize that many teachers tend to push the “search” concept, especially search refinements, further up the taxonomy levels. But at the same time Churches digital examples at the evaluation level provide strong reinforcement for the use of blogs and Wikis to greatly enhance learning

Investigation of Bloom's Digital Taxonomy [Prezi]

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Championship Moments

One week ago today, the Chicago Blackhawks won their first Stanley Cup in 49 years. Many avid hockey fans and knowledgeable analysts will argue that the Stanley Cup is the most difficult trophy to win in all of sports. The organization would probably agree as they went almost a half century without holding up the Cup. I have been a Chicago sports fan my entire life and have been fortunate enough to see seven other championships. I remember the Chicago Bears rallying the entire city together by winning their first and only Super Bowl when I was just seven years old. The lasting image in my memory from that Super Bowl win was when head coach Mike Ditka was carried triumphantly across the field on his players shoulders. Then, as a teenager, I witnessed one of the greatest dynasties in sports history when Michael Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to an impressive six championships in eight years. I have vivid memories of seeing Jordan clutching the champagne drenched trophy close to his body while crying in front of all the cameras, reporters, and teammates. Any celebration of a championship is a memorable moment. However, the Stanley Cup celebration might be the most impressive celebration moment. The exact moment that I continue recalling in my mind from the Blackhawks championship are the seconds that took place immediately before Jonathan Toews raised the Cup above his head. Toews, the Blackhawks team captain, was invited up to the Stanley Cup by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. The two stood on each side of the most coveted trophy in sports for the obligatory photographs. As the cameras flashed, Toews was very obviously twitching his legs and hands. He was extremely anxious to grab the trophy, lift it above his head, and skate around the ice with his teammates as NHL champions.

I sat in on my living room floor directly in front of the TV anxiously awaiting Toews to lift that trophy. When he grabbed the Stanley Cup and lifted it above his head, that was the moment all Blackhawks fans had been waiting for. That moment was the memory that will live on. Did you have a moment like that during the past school year? As a teacher, what did one of your students do that stands out as the moment, the lasting memory of this school year? As an administrator, what did one of your teachers do that stands out as a defining moment, a lasting memory for the school year? What was your championship moment?

UPDATED JULY 5, 2010 - Great read... "Reflections from 2009-2010" Mr. Gonzalez goes gradeless this year in his science class. Read about the experiment in his reflective blog post.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Take Risks to Increase Learning

In just 7 years of teaching, I have seen a big shift in how technology can be used in the classroom. When I first began, my classroom had 1 computer for me to enter grades and email parents. The most technology I ever used in my instruction was an overhead projector and calculators. Now we are teaching in classrooms with SMART Boards, iPads, iPods, laptops, wireless Internet, smart phones, student response systems, and numerous Web 2.0 tools. The amount of technology available and the quality of technology available must change the way we teach. Ferriter, 2010 explains that in recent years, schools have changed the way they spend money by investing billions of dollars in technology. Yet the way we teach has not changed enough to keep up with the increase of technology. What must we do in our instruction to effectively integrate this technology?

Ferriter, 2010 continues by offering solutions for implementing significant changes to help our schools implement more effective digital instruction. His solutions include offering online and independent studies, delivering academic help to struggling students digitally, redesigning teacher preparation programs, making standards more flexible, and redesigning teacher evaluation programs. He also provides Web 2.0 tools that can be beneficial in the classroom. Tools to help teachers become active digital learners include the Classroom 2.0 online network and the Educator's Personal Learning Network. More options like Screencasts, Voicethread, and Skype are tools that teachers and students can use directly in instruction and learning.

I have one solution to help teachers implement technology which I think encompasses all of Ferriter's suggestions. Take risks. All of the new technology tools and digital methods are new to education. They offer new ways to engage students and provide differentiation to a variety of learners. Since it seems that there are new tools each week that are available to teachers, we may be expected to try methods that we were never trained to use. Taking risks in the classroom will be beneficial for the students. Stepping outside of your comfort zone will provide an example to students about what it takes to learn new ideas and concepts. In addition, taking chances will not always result in effective instruction or learning for the students. There will be mistakes made. There will be ineffective lessons. These situations will provide the teacher with an opportunity to be a problem solver, perhaps even solving the problem with the students.

Technology though, by itself, will not determine how effective or successful a teacher is in the classroom. The technology that is being used today is different than what was used 10 years ago, 20 years ago, or 100 years ago. There have been very successful teachers before SMART Boards, computers, and the Internet were ever used. The success of teachers in the past should be remembered because their methods are still applicable, regardless of technology they used. I asked Jerry Blumengarten (@cybraryman1), a retired teacher who began his career in 1969, what successful methods or techniques he thinks teachers use no matter what era they taught in and no matter what technology they used. Mr. Blumengarten is a former teacher who began teaching with film strips, 16 mm films and overhead projectors. By the time he finished his career he had seen quite a few changes in how technology is used in the classroom. He explained that successful education begins with teachers and schools remembering that it is not about the technology, it is about the learning. We must put our focus on the learning of students. If technology is a tool that helps increase student learning, then we must embrace the opportunities it provides. Yet we cannot forget about the relationships that we build with our students, the positive role models we can be, and the learning that we can foster among our students. Take risks with the technology. Do not be afraid to try something new in your classroom. However, don't forget that your most important job is to help students learn.

Blumengarten, J. (2010, June 5). Email interview.

Ferriter, W.M. (2010). Preparing to teach digitally.Educational Leadership, 67(8), 88-89.

IWB Resources

Resources to help teachers with interactive whiteboards in their classrooms.

SMART Board Revolution Ning

SMART Exchange - Find Lesson Plans for Your SMART Board and Connect with Teachers

Interactive Whiteboard Insights [Blog] - Put more interactivity in your interactive whiteboard!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

8 Goals for my 8th Year

Professional growth can be achieved in different ways. I am a big proponent of setting goals and making lists in order to stay organized, achieve growth, and challenge myself. This August, I will enter my 8th year in the teaching profession. The following list contains 8 simple goals for me to work on in my 8th school year. These goals are not things that you will necessarily learn in your masters classes or read in an educational journal, but I do think they can help build relationships and promote a positive atmosphere in your school.

8 GOALS FOR 2010-2011
1. Acknowledge all staff members birthdays.
2. When a substitute teacher is in for a teacher, visit that classroom at least once during the day to check on the sub and the class.
3. Write thank you notes. The key word here is write. Hand-written thank you notes show genuine sincerity to teachers, parents, volunteers, etc.
4. Know the names of all your staff members' spouse and children. (If you can remember names of grandchildren and pets, that will make an extra good impression)
5. No coasting at the end - Give the same energy to the last month of school that you do to the first month of school. Along the same lines, treat each everyone like it is last day of school. I noticed how kind everyone was to each other on the last day of school this year. Treat students, parents, and colleagues every day as if it is the last time you will see them for about 2 1/2 months.
6. Keep a list of great things teachers do during the year. Share the list with the teacher at the year-end meeting
7. Plan well ahead of time for events that require invitations to be sent out. The only thing more insulting than not inviting someone, is inviting them at the last minute.
8. Pick 1 thing to finish per week - We all have those items on our to-do list that dont NEED to be done and therefore sit on the list for months, sometimes years. Pick one of those items each week and make it a high priority. If you are consistent, you could get up to 40 or 50 of those types of tasks done each year.

What goals do you have as you enter the 2010-2011 school year?