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Technology Integration Learning Sessions April 19, 2010

Posted by timsparacino in Administration/Leadership, Technology Integration.
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One of the most powerful and enjoyable things that we do within our department is host regular “learning sessions.”

We block off time each Thursday afternoon to meet face-to-face to discuss and prepare for upcoming events, training sessions, etc.

A recurring, regular agenda item for these weekly department meetings is a learning session.

Any member of our group can request a session on a topic that they would like to know more about and another member with knowledge of that topic will host the session.

Due to mandated testing last week, we had significantly more time together in the office.  That allowed us to have several learning sessions throughout the week.  Some of our topics were:

Glogster
Google Apps
Microsoft Tips and Tricks (Word, PowerPoint, OneNote)
Posterous
Quizdom
Voicethread

In addition to being an integral component of my personal learning network, these sessions have allowed me to see just how talented our Instructional Technology team is.  I feel very fortunate to work with a group of individuals that are dedicated to continually honing their craft and are so willing to share their expertise.

I would strongly encourage any team out there to incorporate some type of learning session into the way that you regularly do business.

Google Apps, Here We Come June 16, 2009

Posted by timsparacino in Administration/Leadership, Resources & Information, Technology Integration.
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Plans are underway now for the Paris School District to become a Google Apps school and I couldn’t be more excited.

I know that we’ll have lots of growing pains and there will be some issues that we haven’t thought about, but I believe that any bumps in the road will be completely overshadowed by the awesome suite of collaboration tools that Google Apps has to offer.

Before I go any farther, I would like to take a moment to say how much I appreciate working for our Superintendent, Jim Loyd.  Obviously, he makes all of the final decisions on changes like this and without his support and progressive thinking, our technology integration efforts would still be in the dark ages.  Because of his leadership, we are well on our way to becoming a model school in the area of technology integration.

Back to Google Apps…

What does Google Apps for Education offer?  I copied this from their Frequently Asked Questions section:

Google is currently offering schools a hosted solution for their email, calendar, and chat through Google Apps Education Edition, our integrated communication and collaboration solution. Our offer includes Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk, Google Sites, and Google Docs and Google Video, all using your own school’s domain.

Google Apps Education Edition includes:

  • Gmail: Email storage and search tools that help your students find information fast and instant messaging from right inside their accounts.
  • Google Calendar: Students can organize their schedules and share events and calendars with others.
  • Google Talk: Students can call or send instant messages to their contacts for free anytime, anywhere in the world.
  • Google Docs: Share documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Collaborate in real-time with your team or with your whole school. You can publish final documents to the entire world, too.
  • Google Sites: Work together to keep related documents, web content and other information in one place, on one site.
  • Google Video for education: A video hosting and sharing solution that enables schools and other organizations to use video as an effective medium for internal communication and collaboration.

How much does it cost?  That’s the best part.  It’s free!  Why? See this response from their FAQ section:

Google Apps for Education is free. We plan to keep the core offering of Google Apps Education Edition free. This includes user accounts for incoming students in the future. As you may know, Google was founded by a research project at Stanford University, and this is just one way we can give back to the educational community.

If I haven’t sold you yet, check out the Top 10 Reasons to Use Google Apps.

I am working for the day when everyone in our district (students, faculty, and staff):

  • are connected with shared calendars, messaging, and e-mail.
  • access documents, presentations, and spreadsheets at anytime from any device
  • and, collaborate in real-time

Thanks to Google Apps, that day will be here sooner than later.

Handheld Resources for Productivity & Student Engagement June 3, 2009

Posted by timsparacino in handheld, Technology Integration.
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During the 2008-09 school year, we purchased a Palm TX for every teacher at Paris Elementary School.

These devices were primarily used to facilitate the process of Diebels testing.  Incorporating the Palm during the Diebels process helped our teachers be much more productive and saved valuable instruction time.

One of our goals is to continue to increase the ability of our faculty to use technology, including handheld devices, to become more productive.  By automating routine tasks, we hope to enable our teachers to spend more time planning rigorous, relevant, and engaging learning activities for our students.

Another goal of our handheld movement is to put as much technology as possible in the hands of students (Palm, iPod, iPod Touch, even cell phones) to not only make lessons more engaging, but to make our curriculum materials available anywhere, anytime.

It is our view that students should be able to access podcasts, lecture materials, videos, and files that will support their learning whenever they need those materials.

This will require an investment in the devices, supposing that we do not allow students to use the devices that they already own, and a considerable amount of professional development.

For this blast-from-the-past post (Oct. 5-11, 2008), I’ve identified several resources that should help us move forward with this initiative.

Twitter Me This, Edmodo Me That May 29, 2009

Posted by timsparacino in Blogging, Technology Integration.
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You would have to be living in a cave to have not noticed all of the publicity that Twitter has been getting lately.  I won’t use this space to further promote their cause other than to say that I use Twitter as one component of my professional learning network.

I subscribe to others that “tweet” about educational technology and regularly discover resources there that I might have otherwise missed.

For that purpose, Twitter works very well for me.  However, is Twitter the best microblogging tool for classroom use?  Maybe, maybe not.

To answer that question, this blast-from-the-past post takes us back to the resources that I accumulated during the week of September 29-October 4, 2008 that included a link to Edmodo.

Christopher Dawson’s blog post states that, If a teahcer had designed Twitter, it would look like Edmodo.

Christopher outlines the advantages that he perceives Edmodo has over Twitter including:

  • The ability to create groups
  • Assignments with the ability to attach files
  • Students can complete the assignments simply by replying or uploading their own file
  • Teachers can provide immediate feedback and/or scoring
  • Built-in calendar where students can view assignments that are due and/or those that have been graded

In another post, Christopher outlines other uses for Edmodo including using it as a communication tool for school clubs/teams, professional development, project management, and parental involvement activities.

If you’re a teacher looking for a way to help facilitate communication in your class, or an administrator looking to improve communication with your faculty, parents, and community, check out the other Edmodo resources and links that I have collected on Diigo or Delicious.

I also have several links dealing with microblogging (Diigo link, Delicious link) in general.  Happy hunting!

Embeding a PowerPoint Presentation with SlideShare May 1, 2009

Posted by timsparacino in Technology Integration.
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Going back to the week of September 14-20, 2008 for this blast-from-the-past post led me to the HIT- Hokanson’s Instructional Technology blog entry entitled How to Embed a PowerPoint in a WordPress Post.

This article was short and sweet- sign in to SlideShare, upload your presentation, copy the embed code, and paste it into your post.

After following those simple directions, I was still having difficulty getting presentations to appear in this post until I visited this WordPress support page that outlined the exact procedure for me.

Now that I’ve figured it out, I decided to share this presentation on my vision for technology integration in our district.

Note: If you are viewing this on the mobile version of my blog at http://timsblog.mofuse.mobi/iphone, the presentation is not appearing on the screen.

SlideShare is a great tool that will help you embed basic PowerPoint presentations into websites and blog posts.  Check it out.

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.

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!

Using Diigo & Delicious Simultaneously March 31, 2009

Posted by timsparacino in Technology Integration, Web 2.0.
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If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that I’ve mentioned and linked to my delicious page several times.  That’s where I have been storing all of the technology resources that I find.

Several months ago I set up a Diigo account and was intrigued by the additional options that the social bookmarking tool has to offer- the ability to highlight and/or leave comments on certain portions of a web page, post directly to Twitter, etc.

It is my opinion that Diigo could be a much more powerful tool for teachers than Delicious.

However, I hesitated to jump right in with Diigo because I have conducted training with our teachers on using Delicious and have spent several hours promoting the site, encouraging people to subscribe, etc.

Today I read an entry on the Diigo blog about using the two tools simultaneously then set-up my Diigo account to automatically post to the old Delicious site.  After a couple of tests, I think that I’m ready to fully convert to Diigo.

This move will NOT effect your use of my delicious page.  It will remain as it always has and will continue to be regularly updated whenever I bookmark additional sites on my new Diigo page.

So, if you prefer Diigo, check out my new page. If you’re satisfied with Delicious, carry on.

If you’d like to learn to use both simultaneously, check out this Diigo blog post.

To learn more about how social bookmarking is being used in education, search either site for the “socialbookmarking” tag.