Friday, May 24, 2013

Create and share reviews with Quizdini

Quizdini is a free web tool that allows you to create and share two types of online reviews. With Quizdini, you can create a review quiz or a matching-type review. Simply go to Quizdini, sign up for a free account, and begin creating. Once you have created your review, you can share the link on your website for your students to easily access it. When students access the quiz, they can either do a "practice" round in which they only try to answer the questions or they can "race" in which they are timed and try to do it as fast as they can. Quizdini is a nice tool because it is simple to use and simple to share. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The second to last day is not the last day

Speaking from my middle school world, some students think summer vacation has started. Some students think it's shut-down time. The second to last day of school is not the last day of school, which you might have to remind your students today. It is not time to shut-down, it is time to stay focused and have a good, mature finish to the school year. One thing I preach to my students is to have awareness. Being aware of situations and how to appropriately act is a huge life skill. Students need to know when it's okay to goof around and when it's time to be serious. It's a tough thing to expect out of middle school/elementary kids (and possibly high school kids) but it's something worth discussing with them. It good to give your students clear, firm expectations, especially in the waning moments of the school year. The last week of school should be fun and relaxing, not stressful and chaotic. Make it a great day today. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Think Youtopia for struggling students

The school year is almost over so why post about a behavior plan? It's a little too late in the game for starting one, but perhaps it's something good to have on your radar as you look forward to next year. I get it, next year couldn't be further from our thoughts this week but the hours, days, and weeks will tick away and before you know it, two things will be happening: school will be starting and struggling students will walk through your door. is a website that I have used with one student during the 2nd semester with great results. It was a student of mine that was having problems with behavior and work ethic. He is capable, yet had times of shutting down. Many things were tried, but failed. I discovered Youtopia and after doing some learning, gave it a try. Youtopia is an online behavior plan that allows you to set up goals, awards, objectives and activities for the struggling student. You can pretty much come up with any type of plan: behavior, lack of effort, social problems, etc. The cool thing about Youtopia is that you can create "badges" that the student earns through gaining "points."  Points are earned through earning "money" and "hours." You can set the point total, goals and badges to whatever you want. You can have multiple students do this and create a friendly competition between the students, which might be a motivator. This would be an ideal plan for k-6. Students older than that may find it a little cheesey and not "buy in" to it. My student really wanted to earn those badges so that was a motivator for him to work hard and have a positive attitude. In order to explain how it works, this blog post would be extremely long. Instead, hopefully I will have a chance to show you how it works next year in a workshop or in-service type setting. I encourage you to give it a look and just mess around with the site. It could be a valuable tool (or at the very least, something to try) next year. So, instead of saying "Nothing works with that kid!" and giving up, give Youtopia a try. After all, it is our job to help them. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Individualized Education

Check out this video on Individualized Education. Self-paced learning is a really good thing and something that is hard to do without 1:1 computers. Self-paced learning means students work on objectives and do not move on until they have mastered them. What is better: students getting to all the standards but mastering none of them, OR students mastering half the standards? I think we know the answer to that. Self-paced learning with computers allows the students to stay more organized with what they have to do and learn. In a classroom that is not 1:1, it is difficult to truly do self-paced learning. I have thought about it, tried, and come up empty with a good solution of how to do self-paced learning without computers. I have tried a little bit with giving online quizzes that students can take when they are ready and re-take once if they do poorly. However, students have to do this stuff on their own because of the lack of computer availability and sometimes that means not doing it. I want to see what they know and have learned and I can't see that if they don't complete the mastery quizzes. Well, it seems the lack of computers will end after next school year and I look forward to the exciting changes that will bring, especially in the area of self-paced learning.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Make a cartoon with Custom dialogue with Go!Animate

Secrets at the Copy Machine by Dan Klumper on GoAnimate
Time to get back to some Tech tools. Create short, comical dialogue between cartoon characters is a good way to emphasize a key point or topic. With Go!Animate, you can quickly and easily create dialogue between characters. You can sign up for a free account with your Google account and begin creating in seconds. Follow the steps, choose settings, characters, and insert dialogue and boom, your comic is ready. You can share your Go!Animate comics on your website by embedding it(like I have done) or by providing a link. Create a funny comic about the end of the year, your current topic, or make one of yourself to share. Once we get 1:1 in our district, these would be great projects for students to add to their online portfolio.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Lack of Sleep hinders learning

Check out this article about lack of sleep and its relation to education. Thanks to Donna Juffer for sending me the article.
Lack of sleep blights pupils' education

Friday, May 10, 2013

Google Glass

Check out this video about one of Google's new, cutting edge products: "Google Glass." This is unbelievable technology. Currently, Google is not taking anymore applications to get a pair of google glasses. However, like all things, eventually they will become available and affordable. How cool would it be to have these? As the video shows, you can simply say "take a picture" and your glasses take a picture, or a video, or translate something into a different language. They are like a GPS, except you don't have to look away at a screen, instead the directions pop up right in front of your eyes. Google anything in seconds to find information, location, answers, etc. Google Glass also allows you to share what you are seeing LIVE. Google Glass will give people the ability to see and share things from a perspective, up until now, was impossible. Since these glasses are worn, your hands are always free to continue doing what you need to do. Google Glass will not come to schools for a long time, however, gradually, google glass will be able to provide students with interesting videos. With Google Glass, students will be able to go on "virtual field trips" as they watch the person with the glasses on walk the Great Wall of China, explore the Pyramids, climb Mt. Everest, or walk the Mayan ruins. Technology is advancing so quickly, it is fun to see what's next. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

My Motivation and Frustration with Techno.ED

In my first few years of teaching, I admit, I didn't want to tell anyone about my "secret" technology tools. That was the wrong thing to do. Ideas and strategies should be shared so I decided to create Techno.ED to act as a platform for sharing tools and ideas. With Techno.ED, I am both motivated and frustrated. My motivation is when I hear about teachers trying to use the tools I share. I like getting feedback. I like getting questions from teachers about things I post, about how they could use it, and if I could personally help them. I like it when people send me ideas of things to share or problems that need trouble shooting. Seeing Techno.ED being used keeps me motivated. I don't particularly care about shooting the breeze but I love working on projects and helping others. That is what I want to do.    
Though I'm motivated, I am also frustrated. I am frustrated by the fact that many of the things I post about come and go without ever being used or even tried. Why is this? Time. I am frustrated that teachers don't have more time to explore and develop new things. This frustration is shared by others as I hear from teachers who are also frustrated because they see things they want to try, things that will enhance their classroom, but don't have the time to sit down and figure it out and actually develop something to use. I am frustrated because there are so many unbelievable things out there, but they are getting lost or cast aside. It's like we are going into a gun fight with a pocket knife. What would fix this "time" frustration? A technology integrationist. This position is so badly needed in our school district. An integrationist can create time and opportunity for teachers to learn and implement things to make the learning better, more authentic. An integrationist would have the time to not only share ideas but to actually help in the development.  I hope that in the coming weeks, things will be decided and announced that will lessen the frustrations we we feel. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Website on Steroids: Creating a Powerful Blog

Last summer, I had the awesome opportunity to write a guest blog post for a website called "Free Technology for Teachers" which is written by Richard Byrne. I thought I would share it here, in case there is something in it you can use this year or start thinking about for next year.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Blogging Ideas

Here is a prezi that goes through some various ideas and activities you could do with a blog. Watch the prezi full screen to allow you to be able to actually read the posts and see what the actual activity is. With the onset of May and the end of the school year, we might as well start thinking about next year :)  

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Common Core Question

Common Core is under attack. As we all know, Common Core is a new set of standards that is meant to raise the rigor for our students, teach them to think deeper, analyze more and learn to figure things out there own way. The Common Core standards make some people very nervous. I think the public as a whole is uninformed about what Common Core is and what it is designed to do. When you have an uninformed public, plus a radio guy who likes to stir the pot, you have problems. In the above video, Glenn Beck, with all his knowledge and wisdom about education and being a teacher, talks about the Common Core and how unbelievably awful and dangerous it is. He claims that Common Core will make our students into slaves, strip states of their rights, strip parents of their rights, teach that communism is good, and read nothing but manuals in reading class. He argues that the Common Core will data-mine our students and keep track of 400 things about each student. His claims are wild and outlandish, but uninformed people watch this and get really worked up. I think we should be cautious and smart about things. How do you feel about the Common Core? Don't watch one opinionated radical guy talk about Common Core and believe it to be gospel. Research and form an intelligent view on common core. We should never do something or not do something "just because." It is good to ask questions, look at both sides, and use our brains. It is not hard to find articles about common core arguing for it and against it. I encourage you to do some reading and talk amongst yourselves about this topic. After all, we are the ones that will be using it. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Let's beat Fortiguard!

The Evil website evaluator of the World Wide Web
Even though YouTube is open, there are other sites you probably want to use and when you go to those sites, everyone's worst nightmare pops up: Fortiguard, the evil website-protector of the world wide web. Fortiguard blocks sites that should be blocked but it also blocks sites that should be open, sites that could/would be useful and helpful for teachers. Fortiguard is not an unbeatable force. We can beat it and here's how:
If you try accessing a website and get the fortiguard block, check to see what category it's listed under. If it's listed as "unrated" that means we have a chance to open it ourselves. It will say, "To have the rating of this webpage reevaluated, please click here." Simply click there and enter the webpage you want to open. Next, you will enter some information and then submit your request. In about 24 hours, you will receive an email with the results. I have done this many times and it always works (if the previous rating was "unrated"). Some pictures to help you out:

(click the picture for a larger view)
Step 1

Step 2

Step 3