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WordPress for iPhone April 23, 2009

Posted by timsparacino in Blogging.
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This is my first post that I’ve made from my iPhone using the free WordPress app.

So far, so good.

If you’ve got an iPhone and a WordPress blog, go to iphone.wordpress.org and check it out.

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Google Tools for Schools April 20, 2009

Posted by timsparacino in Technology Integration.
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We go back to the week of September 7-13, 2008 for this week’s blast-from-the-past.

On September 12, I linked to a resource from the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies that identified 25 of the Top 100 Tools for Learning in 2008.

While reviewing those tools, I found that out of the 25 tools listed, 5 were “Google Tools.”

If you aren’t familiar with Google’s Tools for Educators, do yourself a favor and check out the enormous list of applications that Google makes available to teachers.

Google also identifies several examples of how their products are being used in K-12 classrooms every day.

As usual, I have collected several other resources for you to review including integration links for Google Earth and Google Sites.

All of these tools are free and will help you be more productive and effective.

Sharing Multiple Links with ShareTabs April 16, 2009

Posted by timsparacino in Technology Integration.
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I just remembered a nice resource for sharing multiple links that I haven’t been using on this blog.

ShareTabs

ShareTabs is a tool that allows you to share multiple links as “tabs” in one browser window.

You simply paste in the links that you want to share, assign a personalized name, click “Tabify ’em!” and ShareTabs will create a unique URL address with each of the links displayed visually as thumbnails on the main page and as different tabs across the top of the screen.

This is a great tool for accessing multiple links during a presentation or sharing resources with students.

As an example, lets look at the end of my recent post We’re Just Not That Interesting that discusses the use of cellphones and other handheld technology in the educational setting.

At the end of that blog, I wrote, “check out these tags on my Diigo or Delicious pages:

cellphones
handhelds
ipod
ipodtouch
mobilelearning

What I should have done was use ShareTabs and provide you with this link that has all of those resources arranged on one page.

Here is a screen shot of the ShareTabs link above:

Handhelds in Education Resources

As you can see, this would have been a much more efficient way to direct you to the handheld resources cited.

Give ShareTabs a try the next time you need to share multiple links for a presentation, in a computer lab setting, etc.

Take Your End-of-the-Year Slideshow Up A Notch April 15, 2009

Posted by timsparacino in Web 2.0.
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It’s the time of year when teachers, coaches, and administrators are throwing together slide shows for graduation, awards assemblies, volunteer banquets, etc.

Why not take your slideshow up to the next level?

If you haven’t checked out Animoto yet, you need to.

Animoto is a free online tool that allows you to easily create “MTV-like” videos.

Simply upload your pictures, select music from Animoto’s royalty-free collection or from your own library, and then press a button.  Bam!  You’re done and the product looks like you hired a professional to put the presentation together.

If you’d rather have narration than music, that’s possible too.

Animoto offers two account types- paid “All-Access,” and free accounts which are limited to 30 second “shorts.”

However, educators (and students) get an “All-Access” pass for FREE!

Sign up here.

What are you waiting for?

We’re Just Not That Interesting April 15, 2009

Posted by timsparacino in Technology Integration.
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Looking back at the resources that I came across from August 31-September 6, 2008, I found two articles that dealt with incorporating handheld devices into the school curriculum.  Both of the articles proposed that handheld devices (cell phones, iPod Touch, etc.) should not only be allowed in school, they should be embraced.

The first article, Mobile Phones Boost School Standards located on the Telegraph.co.uk website stated that according to research, “Schoolchildren should be allowed to use mobile phones in the classroom to boost education standards…mobiles could be used for a wide range of educational purposes, including creating short movies, setting homework reminders, recording a teacher reading a poem and timing science experiments.”

The article went on to say that, “employing them as part of day-to-day lessons boosts pupils’ motivation levels.”

I know that we’re a long way from lifting the all-out ban on cell phones that a lot, if not most schools employ.  However, maybe we could start with small pockets of cell phone/handheld use with teachers that are specifically trained to incorporate these tools, not just for the sake of doing it, but for improving student achievement.

The next article that I’d like to highlight is An iPod Touch for Each Student? found on The News & Observer.  This article describes a middle school that “could become the first in the country to give an iPod to every teacher and student, an experiment that would challenge teachers and administrators to ensure the hand-held devices are used as learning tools, not toys.”

School Principal, Susan Wells realized that the devices might at first be used “more to download the new Jonas Brothers single than to tap the riches of human knowledge” but went on to say that “to dismiss the technology as a distraction or a gimmick ignores today’s tech-driven world.  It’s a world we better figure out, because we can’t ask our students to come into a classroom, put those things aside and sit in a row and think we’re interesting.”

So, I encourage you to begin the discussion of just how handheld devices could be incorporated into school for the sake of improving student achievement.  I think that it is quite possible that there will be a day when we will look back and wonder why we ever fought the presence of this technology in the first place.

And, like Susan Wells said, “We’re just not that interesting!”

For links to more resources and information about how schools are using cell phones and other handheld devices check out these tags on my Diigo or Delicious pages:

cellphones
handhelds
ipod
ipodtouch
mobilelearning

Top 10 Tips for Using Technology in the Classroom April 6, 2009

Posted by timsparacino in Technology Integration, Web 2.0.
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After reviewing all the resources that I linked to during the week of August 24-30, 2008, I decided to highlight a video found on the Box of Tricks website for our blast-from-the-past this week.  This video outlines J. Picardo’s Top 10 Tips for Using Technology in the Classroom and provides a brief description of each tool that he references.

His list is…

1. Use streaming video– Picardo eludes to YouTube because of the wealth of educational material that can be found there.  However, access to YouTube is blocked in many schools.  So, work around the system by learning to download YouTube videos from home and save them for playback in your classroom.  Or, have one computer in the media center that is allowed to access YouTube so that the Media Specialist can arrange to download the video(s) that you want without worrying about students accessing the site.

Here are all of my YouTube links and links about downloading YouTube.

Also, remember that there are other sites out there that probably aren’t blocked by your school like TeacherTube and SchoolTube.

Here are all of my Video links.

2. Use music more often- iTunes is referenced in the video but also check out this page of music links and the related tags that span from A to Z.

3. Use teleconferencing tools- The primary resource that comes to mind for teleconferencing is Skype. If Skype is blocked at your school, see if you can get it unblocked and/or check out these videoconferencing links.

4. Create your own interactive activities- HotPotatoes, GameMakers, & ContentGenerator were all referenced in the video.

5. Use your interactive/Smartboard more effectively- Seek out professional development opportunities that will enable you to become a proficient user of the interactive board in your room.  Locate templates and files that have already been created for you.

SmartBoard tutorials can be found at Atomic Learning.  I have also linked to several others on my delicious page.

Other SmartBoard resources.

Notebook resources, templates, etc.

6. Create your own podcasts- The audio tools that Picardo mentions are Audacity and Garage Band.

Other podcasting resources.

7. Start a blog or wiki- There are several tools available for teachers to easily create and manage blogs and wikis.  This blog is managed through WordPress.

Blogging resources

Examples of classroom/teacher blogs

Wiki resources

Examples of classroom/teacher wikis

8. Use social networks- Good luck getting Facebook or MySpace unbloced at your school!  Why not learn to use some other sites that allow teachers to create private social networks?

Two examples are Ning & Edmodo.

Resources to learn about social networks in schools.

9. Use internet tools- There is a wealth of internet/Web 2.0 tools that can transform your classroom and are free to use.

Web 2.0- What it is and useful tools for teachers

Cool Tools 4 Schools Wiki

Web 2.0 Links

10. Make the most of your pupils’ gadgets- Most students own an iPod or other MP3 player and/or a cell phone with internet capabilities, a camera, etc.  Whether of not they are allowed to bring them into the classroom is another question.

Resources on how teachers are using cell phones, iPods, the iPod Touch, and other handheld devices.

Conclusion

If all of this seems a little overwhelming and you think that there is NO WAY that you could learn to do all of these things, start small.  The key is to do SOMETHING that will engage your students and bring your classroom into the 21st century.

Then, do something else.

Never stop growing professionally.  Model the life-long learning skills that you want your students to have and that they will need to be successful.

That’s my sermon for the day!