Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Social Bookmarking






We live in such a fast-paced age with information that comes at us through multiple forms of media. Even our television viewing has been transformed since the DVR and the ability to record live TV. We are a clickable, on demand society. As we use the Internet more and more, bookmarking websites in our Favorites is common-place, but don’t ask me to remember the address! It’s no different with our cell phones. Who remembers phone numbers anymore? You just click speed dial 4 and your best friend’s number automatically rings. Bookmarks work much in the same manner. There’s only one problem. Your cell phone is easily carried around with you. Your home computer is a little heavier!


A creative website

Furls are the answer to the “I can’t remember the website” dilemma. Why not have a place on the Internet where you can bookmark all your favorite websites and have access to them “ubiquitously!” (sorry, I couldn’t resist) Furl websites include www.furl.net, http://simpy.sourceforge.net/, but the most popular is del.icio.us. You have no need to be tied to one computer anymore. With your bookmarks saved to an internet site, you simply log on to the Internet, log into your favorite social bookmarking site and all your favorites are there, no matter whose computer you are using. Best of all you can share! Pretty cool stuff.


An image to share.

Public domain images that are high quality go overlooked on the USA.gov site. This image is from the collection, Earth Art. Isn’t it beautiful?


A proverb

"Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” Buddha



An encouragement

Now what do social bookmarks have to do with the classroom? Just about everything. As we give our students projects and research to do, they can spend half their time on unnecessary surfing. Sending them to your del.icio.us site gives them the exact places that you want them to go. They can even leave comments about what they have found, learn to paraphrase information they are looking for and share sites with other users. I would also encourage students to create their own social bookmarking site such as iKeepbookmarks.com because they definitely cannot bookmark at school. Why not encourage them to develop research skills that will enable them to quickly return to websites for further investigation and more detailed reading any time, any place and at any pace (and may I add from any computer!) Let me know your favorite uses for social bookmarking on my blog.



How do you do that?

Using delicious is really a breeze. I’ve created a special delicious account for “tuesdays” so that you can experiment with its ease of use. The most effective part of using this social bookmarking site is the ability to “tag” your favorites. Create hints that best describe the website and these hints or “tags” give you the ability to search by topic. You can even add other users of delicious to your network and search through their sites. This can lead to other people in their networks who in turn share your favorites and the sharing can get exponential. Give it a try. Create an account and use a name that will actually identify you so that others who would like to share with you would be willing to join also. For those teachers who are already using social bookmarking in the classroom, please considering joining the conversation in our “tuesdays” Professional Learning Community.


What are teachers saying?


Tales from the Teachers in the Trenches

“With the introduction of iMacs in my classroom, I am able to teach the students (K-5) cross-platform on both Macs and Windows. I am able to show them the benefits of more than one platform and it is very important to show them the differences and give them a lot of exposure to help them make their own decisions to what platform they may want to use in the future.” Sherry Black, McKeel Elementary Academy



As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,
K

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Conference Connections

My dear teachers,

It is so hard for classroom teachers to leave their students to attend conferences. It is also very difficult to prepare for a substitute and for schools to pick up the cost of travel, registration and sub pay. Yet, conferences offer teachers some of the greatest professional development opportunities anywhere. My absolute favorite technology conference is FETC (Florida Educational Technology Conference) in Orlando each year. I have learned more, gained more skills and broaden my network of tech buddies more than any other place. This “tuesdays” I am writing from FETC!

A creative website

Don’t be discouraged. You can be at FETC! This is the perfect time to learn to be “a podcatcher,” one who subscribes to a podcast. The best podcast available for teachers who want to learn about the latest and greatest in instructional technology is without doubt - Conference Connections by the Apple Distinguished Educators. Even if you get to go to FETC, you cannot possibly attend every session and hear every speaker. The Apple Distinguish Educators record as many of the top speakers and sessions as possible and host them for you FREE in iTunes. I have learned more about technology since I’ve been podcasting than all of the years I’ve been going to conferences. Look for them a few weeks after the conference is over.

An Image to share
Classroom Connections logo is to remind you to start podcasting great technology conferences like FETC.

A proverb
"Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune." Jim Robin


An encouragement
With standardized tests just around the corner, it may seem crazy to mention professional development, but keeping yourself current in your field also keeps you sane. Can you imagine if you only had standardized test preparation to look forward to? Technology integration offers the answers to engaging our students. Learning unique ways to utilize technology comes from hearing/seeing what others are doing and then “tweeking” it to meet the needs of your students. I really would like to encourage you to listen to the following episodes of Conference Connections: Secondary Leadership with David Gordon, Tales of a Classroom Blogger (both from FETC 2007), David Warlick, TEC SIG luncheon (long, but great) and Mitchel Resnick: Sowing the Seeds for a More Creative Society. Let me know your favorites in the comments on this blog.


How do you do that?
Using Conference Connections is really easy, but don’t you hate when people say that and then assume you know how to do something? To listen to Conference Connections podcasts, you have options. You can go to the Conference Connections website and click the RSS feed button. This will notify you in email when there is a new episode. Then you can click the link they send, go back to their website, listen to it on your computer or download it for later. The way I prefer to get them is to subscribe in iTunes. Open iTunes and click on the iTunes store and type Conference Connections in the search window. Click subscribe and then any new episodes will be automatically downloaded to your iTunes. Just be careful to delete the ones that you don’t really care about. Overtime, you could have quite a collection. Synch you iPod and the podcast is automatically ready for you to listen while you do the dishes, vacuum or other fun jobs. (It does make those chores go quickly!)

What are teachers saying?

Tales from the Teachers in the Trenches
“Technology has been a huge help building background knowledge for my students. Sometimes we forget that we’ve lived a whole life and they’ve only been around for 10-11-12 years so there’s a lot of things they don’t know. It’s a whole lot easier to show them something than to describe it.” Ramona Fischer, Boone Middle School


As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,
K

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

BeFunky


My dear teachers,

Do you want to have a little creative fun? How about a break from standardized tests and exams? Why not add a little personal touch to your papers and classroom presentations. The edition of “tuesdays” we will take a look at personalizing your classroom presence. We’ve all had good teachers that have left their mark on us and we can usually associate a memory with a visual item from their classroom: a certain poster, an outfit that was worn every Friday or a saying uniquely theirs. Why not create those visuals for them? After all, we all know a picture is worth a thousand words.


A creative website

There two ways to “express” yourself on BeFunky.com. You can create a cartoon version of any image that you own or you can create an original avatar (they cleverly call them uvatars!) This beta site is FREE and it was very easy to set up an account. Doesn’t it always amaze you how they can do these creative projects for FREE? Down the line, it looks like they will make their money from the creation of cards, postcards, calendars, etc with the cartoons you create. Very clever stuff. Who are these geniuses? You can check out their blog if you like.

An image to share

I had to share this cartoonized image of two podcast crazy teachers. Can you imagine what fun you could have with digital storytelling and this tool?


A proverb

“National borders aren’t even speed bumps on the information superhighway.Tim May

An encouragement


It’s hard to create visuals for your classroom if you are not an artist. However, with technology everything changes. Anyone can take a digital image with a digital camera. Why take a digital image and cartoonize it? (I think I’m making that word up!) Teachers are so creative with little money and a lot of imagination. Take a good look at your classroom and consider original posters and art work all around your walls and developing a classroom character who would be present on all papers and lesson presentations. It’s called branding, but it really gives a sense of belonging and pride to a classroom. Please share ways that you “brand” your classroom on my blog.

How do you do that?

Before I had a cool tool like BeFunky.com, I asked my husband to draw three characters for my math class. One was a thumbs-up high-fiving young man. The next was a tall, thin, big hoop earringed young lady and the last was a cross-eyed, math phobic young man with stars swirling around his head. I copied the drawing on the Xerox machine and literally copied and pasted them (how tedious) to all my tests and quizzes. I enlarged them on the copier machine and made a classroom border with the three characters along the front of the room. Each day I asked the students, “How are you doing?” To indicate their level of understanding, they replicated the look of the characters. They either used “thumbs-up”, a Ho-hum side-to-side hand gesture for the big hoped earring girl or totally rolled their eyes in their heads if they did not get the lesson. It was such a fun way to take a quick assessment and I would hear from everyone! The best part was adding the characters to tests and quizzes so they could circle their “Math Attitude” before they handed in their paper. Today, you could create your own characters in BeFunky and do a simple copy/paste to all your papers. (Warning - attitude and achievement don’t always match!)


What are teachers saying?


Tales from the Teachers in the Trenches

Technology’s biggest impact in my classroom is on the students’ motivation to learn. It’s very exciting when you get to use new technologies to do mundane tasks of practicing letters and numbers. My students really get into the SMART Board and the interactivity of it. I just think they really enjoy learning with technology more than they did before.” Stephen Klupp, Kindergarten

As always, I am

Ubiquitously yours,
K

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


My dear teachers,

Welcome back to a new year with new goals and new ideas. I'm trying a new look for "tuesdays" and have added only one component to our chat - a small section called, "What are teachers saying?" I will be seeking creative ways that teachers use technology to engage their students to encourage others with the great ideas that come from educators jazzed about creative technology. Thanks for joining me in Year 2 of "tuesdays with Karen." It is my pleasure to seek and find some of the cool stuff that's out there for you.


A creative website

These creative people at Pocket Mod have brought the 20th and 21st century handhelds together! This FREE online tools is a new way to keep you organized. In the same manner that teachers utilize "foldables," this most clever folding system has endless variations of templates and customizable "mods" that make one sheet of paper magically become a handheld organizer. Ok, I know it makes no sense just talking about it. You have to check it out, design one yourself and get it in yours hands at Pocket Mod.


An image to share


Take a look at freepixels for copyright free images, but be sure to read the Terms of Use.


A proverb

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” Steve Jobs

An encouragement


For me, the two most important days of school are the first day of school and the first day back after Christmas vacation. The students always come in with high hopes and slates cleaned. What an opportunity to turn things around that weren't going so well or continue the momentum on things that are clicking. I want to encourage you to keep planning big on making an impact with your students. Do everything in bite-sized pieces so that you don't get overwhelmed. A happy teacher is a happy classroom!

How do you do that?

In this "How do you do that?" section, I would like invest in helping teachers engage their students in the learning process with technology. I was so jazzed about this Pocket Mod because I see it as an application for both teachers and students. Can you imagine the benefits of a class culture that understands the need to be organized? Teaching students to set goals, write them down, revise as needed and start again when things are not going well is priceless in the learning environment. These little Pocket Mods are a FREE gift as long as you have access to an online computer, a printer and a piece of paper. Let me know if you come up with some creative ways to use these Pocket Mods with your students so we can share. Oh, heads up - it took me a while to fold it right, but it was awesome when I got it right!

What are teachers saying?

Tales from the Teachers in the Trenches I'm on a mission to collect teacher quotes about technology. When asked this question, "How does technology make an impact in my classroom?", Stephanie Middleton replied, "Engagement!" What about you? Let me know what's happening in your classroom so we can share the good news with other creative teachers.

As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,

K