If you’re a teacher, you’ve been there: You are preparing to be observed and you need a fabulous lesson lesson to “wow” your administrator. You rack your brain, scour your resource books, search the Internet, and end up spending far too long preparing a lesson, feeling chained to your computer.
Suddenly, you see a light on the horizon: TeachersPayTeachers.com, a popular web site where teachers can buy and sell lessons and resources—including whole units, clip art, centers, activities, worksheets, and other printables (always in adorable font). While this site might unchain you from your computer, it also might relieve you of quite a bit of cash. While some items are free, others can cost $20 or more.
Here’s an alternative: BetterLesson.com.
For the low, low cost of free—and your email address and school name—you can download material from more than 600,000 resources posted by excellent teachers across the country. The site is searchable by subject matter, grade level, and educator. You can even upload your own curriculum and make comments on lessons you find. Each lesson also lists the Common Core Standards it addresses, as well as the author’s name and school.
BetterLesson.com allows teachers to exchange ideas freely for the...
The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program at Hamilton High School officially launched this week. And like any new initiative, it comes with advantages and disadvantages.
BYOD allows students to use their own phones, tablets, or laptops in class. Typically, schools implement BYOD because they believe it will increase student engagement and save the schools money because they won’t have to buy a device for every student; in theory, then, they can then spend that money on other things. These are both legitimate reasons for bringing technology into a school this way.
Still, BYOD needs to be looked at more closely. Among the potential disadvantages:
Many times, students are hearing material for the first time and need to focus on the content, and devices can become more of a distraction than a learning enhancement.
BYOD could bring unnecessary attention to socioeconomic differences in a district. Not every student comes from a family that can afford to buy a device—or at least the latest device. And not every student will have the means to upgrade the device when necessary.
When students are using a device that they own, they have the freedom to make modifications to the device, which could affect how...
Google's Chromecast has the potential to improve how students can research, create, and publish in the classroom. Indeed, right now it has the ability to do these things, but it also has some significant drawbacks that need to be considered. I'll discuss those drawbacks later, but for now let's look at what is Chromecast and consider what makes Chromecast awesome for the classroom.
What is Chromecast?
Chromecast is a small HDMI dongle that plugs into your TV/Projector. It has the capability to stream content from the internet to the display it is connected to and can be controlled by your smartphone, tablet, or PC. Anything you can see in your Chrome browser can also be seen on your Chromecast connected TV/Projector. Learn more here.
What makes Chromecast awesome in the classroom?
One word - collaboration. Google's Chromecast makes it easier than ever to work with other people throughout the development process. Right now, my wife is reading what I'm typing for this blog on our TV, and she is pretty good at catching my mistakes. It's pretty cool to see what I type on my laptop update in near real time on my TV; there is a slight delay of...
As technology moves along its accelerated path newer and quicker ways to communicate ideas, pictures, and the ever important social life find and define their way into the web. If you recall MySpace evolved to Facebook, Facebook is slowly evolving into Twitter, and if you combined all social media mania you’d end with Pinterest.
Pinterest is a website that involves “pinning” or “repining” items to a board. It’s your modern day global bulletin board. You can make your board private, share it, like it, and you can “re-pin” as many themes, ideas, recipes, songs, and images as your Friday night can handle. Craig Smith, a blogger on expandedramblings, com, cited Pinterest as having 70 million users and the percentage of those users “pinning” and “repining” is 80%. That means a lot of people communicate a lot of things on Pinterest.
So why get Pinterest involved in the classroom? As an educator you want the most reliable, relevant, and collaborative content in your classroom – start with Pinterest. There are a plethora of educational blogs that list 100 to 10 ways to use Pinterest in the classroom. I’m offering the bare minimal of 5 unique and quick ways to integrate Pinterest into...
When you hear the word portfolio, you might envision a 3-ring binder filled with documents, work samples, tab dividers, and a whole slew of materials that you can physically touch and flip through. If asked to explain why somebody would create a portfolio, you might think to yourself about artists, designers, architects, and business professionals putting them together in order to highlight their skills when looking for a job. These are all valid ideas when it comes to the concept of a portfolio, but have you ever thought about students designing a portfolio of their work and accomplishments in the classroom using technology as a publishing tool?
What Exactly is a Portfolio?
According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/portfolio):
: a hinged cover or flexible case for carrying loose papers, pictures, or pamphlets
: a set of pictures (as drawings or photographs) usually bound in book form or loose in a folder
: a selection of a student's work (as papers and tests) compiled over a period of time and used for assessing performance and progress
As you can see, the word portfolio can take on different meanings, but in the classroom, we focus on the third...
I am a gamer—and have been for as long as I can remember. My first console was an Atari (which I still own), and since then, I’ve gone through many other systems.
Gaming is practically an everyday activity for me, as it is for more than 90 percent of grade-level students, according to some studies. So instead of seeing gaming as a time-waster or a distraction, educators should leverage its appeal.
There are many learning games out there that allow teachers to meet classroom objectives while giving students a way to learn that’s familiar and comfortable. Graphite.org, a site run by common sense media, ranks and reviews education products and games for teachers. Here are just some of my favorites:
www.icivics.org: Icivics is a great website for socials studies teachers—offering games that simulate the experience of working in the government. It covers citizenship, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, budgeting, separation of powers, and the branches of government. This website can be used as homework, individual work, and teacher-led lessons. And it’s all content-based—meaning students must understand the content to be able to play. At the end of the game, the student has the option to print his or her score...
Part I: Speaking the Language of Kids
I was recently approached by a principal to assemble training sessions for her staff on Digital Literacy, Citizenship and Internet Safety. This is such a broad topic which could take months to unpeel. In this series of blogs, I will introduce you to some ideas and resources on how to keep our children safe and help keep us aware of what they’re seeing out there.
As I begin this series of blogs, I can recommend the website commonsensemedia.org. This resource covers topics related to digital literacy, citizenship, Internet safety, and much, much more. In my future posts I will be digging into the specifics of how this web site can be used to train faculty. For this post I wanted to reflect briefly on one small component of this site that has become a go-to tool in my personal life when it comes to media and children.
But first, a brief background.
I am the father of two girls. One five years old and one ten. I refer to them as my “five and dime”. I am not a follower of current trends in television or movies. So when my older daughter comes to...
I wonder if there is a school in The United States that would say it was not interested in cultivating and supporting its students’ creativity. While I believe all schools would say they are deeply invested in the development of their students’ creativity, I don’t think the evidence is there to support their claim. With that said, the inability to successfully support creativity within a school or district is not entirely the fault of the school.
It has been common practice across The United States that when budget cuts occur: if a subject area is not tested by a standardized test it's cut. The focus of a school can feel as though the only important goal of a school year is good test scores. While that is the perception, and part of the reality, we can't overlook that schools ARE filled with caring and dedicated people who are passionately concerned with both their students' future and their present progress. I have worked with such teachers and considered myself one of those teachers. I taught in Pennsylvania, and regardless of the district the elementary school was in: once the PSSAs (Pennsylvania System of School Assessment) started looming there was an attitudinal shift....
Google Apps for Education offers tools that have counterpart offerings from other companies or vendors. Email, word processing, video, etc are not things specific to Google. There are other sources for many if not all the things that Google has to offer. For the most part, Google Apps is nothing unique.
What Google does offer, that in my opinion is unique, is the level and ease of collaboration.
Documents that can be created with the tools/apps available in Google Drive can be worked on collaboratively with one or many individuals as long as they have a google account and the hardware to run it.
As an example, a word processing document can be “shared” with anyone who has a Google account. This sharing allows for editing between the shared person or people. The level of editing can be controlled between full editing rights to read only to read only with the ability to make comments separate from the document. Once a document is shared it can be changed wherever and whenever it needs to be. All updates all almost instantaneous and there is revision tracking so previous versions can be reinstated.
Even more powerful is that a single document can be...
Classrooms are becoming more and more advanced with the implementation of technology on a daily basis, especially when classrooms are flipped. One of most powerful tools both teachers and students can and should be using in the modern-day classroom is Social Media. As the flipped classrooms concept has grown popular, receiving more supporters each day, many have been noticing the need to increase the level of communication between students and teachers. Social media is a way for teachers, students, and parents to communicate with one another, for students to share ideas, or for parents to keep track of student progress. Learning and communicating outside the school hours with technology aid is a modern adaptation of education that has showed great results. It upgrades both the learning process and the relationship between students, educators and parents.
Here are the type 5 Social Media tools every classroom should be using right now:
1. Wikispaces Classroom
With Wikispaces, students can share thoughts, images, and text, discuss assignments, publish projects, and express themselves. It is a controlled channel of communication that can be restricted so that only students in the class may see the posts.
Edmodo is a popular learning environment where discussions form class...
Google offers a wide range of office automation tools, at its core offering, as well as a myriad of other tools that range from audio/video to image manipulation. I wanted to take this opportunity to cover what Google has to offer. There are some very powerful and easy to use tools that are worth noting.
As I type this blog posting in a Google word processing document I am using the menu bar to lead me through the description of the google tools. Your offerings may be slightly different depending on how your Google Apps for Education is administered or implemented.
Google+ is Google’s social networking service. Because the nature of social media, many schools opt not to enable this function for their district deployments. If you would like more information on it from the source, click here: http://www.google.com/intl/en_US/+/learnmore//
My next menu items are “Search” and “Images”. Two very familiar tools that most people have experience with.
Mail is the next item on the menu bar. Google Mail is a very powerful email package. In my 20 years in Technology I have found Google Mail to be one of the best if not the best email package...
The idea behind titling this blog and using the term artcommoncoretechintegration is really my love of German compound words--Mammutwörter (Mammoth words). Not only are they some of the largest and gnarliest words on the planet, but the at times they are used to describe theories and ideas that can be difficult to simply explain; the Germans do their best via linguistic mash-ups: single words that describe a philosophy. Simple example: die Weltanschauung means World View (die Welt: The World, anschauung: to look at).
Why bring all this up? Because I think artcommoncoretechintegration is one way people are answering some of the big questions regarding common core transition. But like German Mammutwörter it is difficult to understand the compound word if you don’t understand the parts, hence artcommoncoretechintegration is difficult to understand if you don’t understand art, or its process; misunderstand the common core, or struggle with technology.
I recently utilized and experienced artcommoncoretechintegration by means of the contemporary storytelling medium that has swept and is still sweeping across education technology. Forest Grove Elementary School in Montour School District celebrated NEA’s Read Across America for an entire week. The Class Room Technology Coaches volunteered to be guest readers and did so utilizing...
It’s not a matter of using the most powerful search engine, converting from an exchange server to Gmail, or sharing documents with colleagues on Google Docs, but a 100% commitment to using all the tools in Google Apps for Education. If your entire enterprise makes the commitment to GAFE, all it’s tools, tricks, and features are at your disposal. There will be some bumps, dislikes, and useless add-ons, but you have made so many tools available for your students, teachers, and administrators to become even more productive.
Google has made a huge investment by giving GAFE away for free to schools, but look at the return on investment: future consumers who will be searching Google for products, finding information, writing research papers, reading e-books, verifying map directions, and so much more. “Just Google it” --has become a part of our culture. With Google planting those advertising messages into young brains at an early age, Google is the place to be. Knowing this sounds so dastardly, but TV, sponsorships and infomercials do the same thing to our students, parents, and teachers. With Google Apps for Education (GAFE) comes you so many tools for access to your stuff, anytime, anywhere as long as...
Let’s face it, folks. Technology has completely infiltrated our lives. Our daily activities are influenced if not driven by technology. We can deposit checks, watch movies, and keep the world updated of our every move through social media all from the palm of our hands. While all these new abilities are fun and exciting, all too often people lose track of (or forget) that these abilities are actually privileges and there is a new set of behavioral norms that should be followed when using technology.
So what is digital citizenship? Simply put, it is the rules one should adhere to when using technology. Surprisingly enough, these rules are not too much different than many of the unwritten rules and norms of society in general. Mike Ribble (2013) has developed a list of Nine Elements that should guide one’s use of technology. These include:
Digital Access - Who has access and how do we ensure access to everyone?
Digital Commerce - The buying and selling of goods electronically.
Digital Communication - E-mails, blogs, text messages.
Digital Literacy - Understanding how to use technology appropriately and efficiently.
Digital Etiquette - The code of conduct when using technology.
Digital Law - Ethical and legal...
Just a few short years ago, accessing your data (word processing documents, spreadsheets etc. etc.) was very location-specific. You either needed to be at the location where the data was created or you needed to have a copy of the data with you if you wanted to access it. If you were at school, you needed to have your computer on the school network so that you could access school provided server resources. If you created something on a home computer the information was stored there and only there, unless it was on some type of removable media. Sure, there were remote solutions (VPN, remote clients etc), or emailing files workarounds, but those were clumsy and did not always work. Data was stuck at the place where it was created.Additionally, if the data was created with software in one location, the next location may not have the compatible version to open it. Many of us have lived the pain of having created a document with program x version y (i.e Microsoft Word Version 2010) just to find out that the current location has program x but version x–1 (i.e Microsoft Word Version 2003), making your document unavailable until you return to...