Thursday, August 30, 2012

Screencastomatic for Your Digital Backpack

Whether or not you like to flip your classroom or just create how to videos, a great free way to do it is using  You do not need to have an account.  Above is how to create a screen cast video and how to save it into your Youtube account.  You will find this very helpful for explaining how to do something to your students that you know you will need to explain lots of time all year (such as how to use Blackboard) and this way you do not need to restate it for your students.  You can also use the videos for other staff members

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Take My Integrating Technology Into the Classroom Course

Starting tomorrow (August 28th at 4 pm), if you work in Fairfax County, VA you can sign up to take my course called "Enhancing the Use of Technology In The Classroom."  It will be 10 weeks and give you 2 credits and will be offered on Thursdays from 4:30-7:30 pm.  It is course AC2310 and you will need to sign up in MyPLT.  

The course will cover things such as using Google Docs, Study Blue, Diigo (which is an online list of your favorites), Twitter, WeVideo (collaborative video), Fakebook, FakeTweet, integrating your e-book, creating webquests, mobile apps and more.  The class is also very practical as you will be using things we learn to make lesson plans to use during our class session (so we can work out the wrinkles).    

FCPS IN-Service, 8/29/12 (Flipping the Classroom)

Today George Coe and Frank Franz are presenting with two others on the flipped classroom.  You can see the presentation by clicking here.

Using the US History e-book

Janet Babic is a great young teacher who has her room right next to mine.  Today she is doing an in-service for teachers new and those who need refreshing in our (Fairfax) county to introduce them to their US history e-book.  If you are struggling with how to use an electronic book, this has a great way to start off (with a scavenger hunt), how to split your screen so your students can read the book and answer questions and two lesson plans.  If you use American Vision this is just for you, otherwise it might show you some helpful suggestions.  

Quick Tech Tips from the Blogs

This in-service that I am doing today encompasses a bunch of quick tech tips that can make a big difference in the classroom.  There are how to sheets or videos for each and each can be learned in a minute. It includes items such as converting a pdf to a word document, texting (one way) homework reminders to kids, splitting a screen, translating a document (for ESOL parents), a way to easily read your newspapers, blogs, etc. very easily and more.  

Integrating Google Docs into the Classroom

Today George Coe and I are co-presenting at our annual social studies in-service on how to integrate Google Docs into the social studies classroom.  As part of the discussion we will start with the slideshow above.  Can you answer the questions and imagine if so much has happened so recently, how quickly your classroom will be changing in the next few years.  Then we will essentially (live, not on youtube as I have done above) show explain how our departments use Google Docs/Apps and finally we will use this document to have have everyone learn by doing doing for Google Docs/Apps.  

Mobile Apps for the Classroom

Luke Rosa and I were on a crack team of teachers and technology specialists this summer in whose capacity we came up with a list of mobile apps that can help your classroom expand and do it for free.  Above is an Educreations' presentation that gives an overview of our presentation and here is the e-sheet with 25 apps for smartphones and tablets (including the ones above) that we found incredibly helpful.  For each app, you will see there is an explanation, how to use it in the classroom and some how to videos.  If by chance you want to see our longer list of 75, it is here

Monday, August 27, 2012

Big Shifts in Education

A history teacher in Portland, Oregon, Mike Gwaltney, posted this awesome TEDX video by Pat Bassett on his blog, "Democratizing Knowledge." Bsssett, a long time teacher, coach, and administrator summarizes the big shifts in education caused by technology in a very convincing and engaging way and explains what he thinks these shifts mean for us, as teachers.

Split Screen For Your Digital Educational Backpack

Well, if you are going to use all of my ideas for your digital backpack this year, you will also need to know how to split your screen.  This is essential when you want to read your e-textbook and work on an assignment (or have your students do the work with their e-book).  It will stop you from printing out e-mails that you have to read while doing work and generally get you 100% onto the cloud. Above is a short video telling you how to do it. You could also download Air Display if you wanted to have two of your devices connected together virtually (ie, no cords).  

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Apollo 11

With the death of Neil Armstrong, the NYTimes has a tremendous area for the Apollo 11 flight including video and the original articles as well as pictures. The video above comes from the WashPost.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Wow: History's most iconic photos in color

This blog, which I discovered on Twitter through a posting by teacher Ron Peck, has copies of many iconic photos in color, side-by-side like the VJ day photo above. It's pretty cool.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Google Drive (Docs) in Your Educational Packpack

Call me crazy, but I now have everything digital item (and I no longer own paper) in my Google Drive site.  Not only is it as dynamic as I need, but I can get it on my smartphone, tablet or computer.  I can also share items (including entire coursework) in seconds with anyone and can collaborate with other teachers or students.  For the same reason I like my students to have it with the added benefit that, as long as they have a connection to the Internet at home, they cannot lose their work and, with a little help from me, are extremely organized.  Here is an overview of each item in the Google Drive (formerly Docs) suite.  Here and here are how to videos and here are written how to sheets.  

Thursday, August 23, 2012

VoiceThread (a Different kind of Flip)

VoiceThread is one of the coolest tech tools and very popular now. You can upload images, documents, slides, and record questions or even analysis. With the link, students can comment or make an argument. Students can even make a presentation on the material. It seems like a good alternative to a straight screen cast lecture for the flipped classroom. Here's a quick VoiceThread I created on Alexander the Greatwithout going to the Penn State site. And here is another VoiceThread explaining the different uses.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Furher on TCAP

Once again Larry Ferlazzo has posted some great stuff. This is a hilarious clip with Hitler losing his temper about school test scores. It's one of Ferlazzo's best videos of the year in his "laugh til you cry" category.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Aggregator for your Essential Digital Backpack

With iGoogle going the way of the Dodo bird in November 2013, after researching it, I have decided to go with Netvibes.  If you are like me and want to have all of your blogs, newspapers, e-mails, rss feed, Twitter, Facebook, etc. in one place, Netvibes can do it for you.  Above is a short how to video I made. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The First President?

As we get ready to begin a new year, one question you might want to ask your students is who was the first president of the US?  Even saying US, is, of course, confusing.  We weren't the US under the Articles of Confederation, but we were a country.  So if you say George Washington was the first president, then you have forgotten our earlier history.  If you go with John Hanson, first president of the Articles' congress, then is Obama the 45th president or should we count all of the presidents under the AOC?  Since now were chief executives (since they served in the Congress), should we not count them.  Simply asking the questions should help your students better remember what they are learning.  Also, should Obama really be even 44 since Grover Cleveland is counted twice, should Obama be 43? So confusing!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

25 Ways To Use the iPad in the Classroom

Thanks to former (adult) student Sarah Olson who found this on Edudemic.  

Another Digital Essential for your Mobile Backpack

If you search this site for Remind101 you will see that I am fairly obsessed with it as kids today do not use e-mail so this is the way to reach them.  You can create a section for each class and for as many classes as you have you will get a code that students and their parents can use to sign up for a 140 character reminder about any homework you might have for your students.  You can set the time, day, etc. so you can do it during the school day and send it go out later.  If you use tinyurl, you can also shorten urls that you want your students to have via a text.  Finally I like that the teacher cannot see the cell phone numbers and you can keep a record of all of the messages you have sent out.  If you want to load it onto your mobile devices, go here and here for a how to video.

Friday, August 17, 2012

5 Ways to Use Google Sites in Schools

Richard Byrne posted this on his blog, Free Technology for Teachers. He includes some really good ideas for using Google sites. For example, he notes that you can use the sites as a wiki, a digital portfolio (which I think is a really neat idea), a digital file cabinet, as a blog, and as a website. I use Google sites for class websites and also for web quests and really like how easy they are to develop.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Recently I did a short gig making suggestions for some lesson plans that will be published online.  One of the items I had to assess was the differentiation presented in the plans.  While the ideas were great and varied, there was no differentiation presented.  Likewise my school had a presenter do an in-service on the very subject and he too just gave us a bunch of different (great) ideas on ways to teach, but did not explain differentiation.  As I see it differentiation is having different ways to teach the same lesson, but bases it on the needs of the individual user.  To help my department out, I put this in-service together on differentiation so that we can do a better job with it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Backpack Essentials for Teachers

While my students do not start school until September, I know that many of you have more reasonable start times.  With that in mind I am starting a series on "backpack essentials" for teachers.  These are several items that I hope will be essential to your teaching this year.

I am starting with Diigo as one of my views of teaching is that you should have everything you are using in the cloud (no Windows, no video dics, no nothing!).  The advantage of this is that you (and your students) can move between tablets, smartphones and the computer.  So most of you save your favorites to your browser which is (except for Chrome where you would need to be logged in) and that means you are tied to your laptop.  However if you use Diigo, you can open it on any browser on any Internet connected device.  You can allow people to see what you have (which is great when you want to look for ways to better help your students learn as you can click on mine links and find other similar ones from other people).  Here, for example is mine.  Now, you can also lock down a link so no one else can see it. So I use this feature to store codes that I need which has afforded me the opportunity to throw away my many scraps of paper.  Finally you can also create categories and if you want you can suck in your bookmarks from your computer's browser so you don't have to replicate everything.

How to video
  1. A written how to Uses in the classroom

Sunday, August 12, 2012

All the Vice-Presidents

Well, thanks to the comment below as apparently the site on the previous post did not have all the vice-presidents.  But never fear, this site - Vice-Presidents - has them all as well as trivia, video, cartoons and even information on Paul Ryan.  If you are really into the number two slot, you can follow this person's findings on Twitter

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Vice Presidents from A to Z

Given the informal (since it will not be official until the penultimate day of the Republican convention) selection of Paul Ryan today, it might be appropriate to mention this site which has biographies of every vice-president as well as video, links, etc.  

21st Century Icebreakers: 10 Ways To Get To Know Your Students with Technology

Teachbytes published an  interesting list of classroom icebreakers using technology. They include using polleverywhere to ask students questions to get to know them better (favorite movie, music, etc) using google forms or survey moneky, or even using QR  codes for a scavenger hunt.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wikitude and Discovering Twitter Posts in Class

Wikitude is a free app that does a lot of cool things such as tell you where you can get food of your choice nearby, see if friends are near and more.  But while I love using smartphone for positive gain in the classroom, one thing it can also do is see where Tweets are being made (and what is said on them).  You just hold up the phone and you will see where the Tweets are coming from.  You can also set the distance from a few feet up to one-half mile away.  Since kids love using Twitter, it will be a good way to control it in class and use the phone positively.  Thanks to my fellow online teacher, John Downes, for the tip. 

Civil War in Four Minutes

I've posted this before but since this site keeps getting lots of new viewers, I wanted to put it up again.  It is a great way to review the war once you are done. This video shows the battles, ongoing casualties, which side controlled which side and more.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Technology in the Middle Ages

Guess the complexity of technology hasn't changed much!

Friday, August 3, 2012

The 2053 Nuclear Explosions Since 1945

This is an interesting video when you get to the nuclear age showing where all the 2053 nuclear explosions (who knew there had been so many) and what nations set them off.  Thanks to Stuart HS teacher Mark Rogers for the heads up. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Role of Teaching in a Learner Centered Digitally Empowered Environment

Last week I participated in a three person discussion on "The Role of Teaching in a Learner Centered Digitally Empowered Environment."  I used a lot of examples of how I have changed my classroom in the last few years and was joined for a former teacher, technology specialist and now director at the National Board in responding to some great questions that people watching e-mailed us. You can drag the cursor over the inserted videos if you want or even if you get bored of me! 

Air Display to Virtually Connect Multiple Devices

You will notice that I try very hard to stay away from products that cost money for this blog.  But here is one that just might be worth it.  Many people like to buy a cable to connect their laptop to a second screen.  Well using Air Display, you need only download the software onto two devices and you can virtually connect them together.  It is not free, but then again, neither is buying a second screen and cable when you probably already have two devices.  You can use a tablet, smartphone or laptop and can mix Android and Mac devices if you need to do so.  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Top Posts for July

Apparently lots of teachers are still checking this blog out during the summer - so thanks.  Knowing we are getting tons of hits, keeps us motivated.  Here are the top entries for July:

Apps for any Classroom

Today I am doing an in-service for school based technology specialists in my county.  Above is an Educreations' presentation I will be showing them about what they will learn in our hour together.  Here is the e-sheet with 25 apps for smartphones and tablets (including the ones I am presenting).  For each app, you will see there is an explanation, how to use it in the classroom and some how to videos.  If by chance you want to see our longer list of 75, it is here