Saturday, November 13, 2010

How to do more with less....

The Northern Illinois Computing Educators (NICE), a Chapter of Illinois Computing Educators (ICE), rececently hosted a panel discussion on how to "Do More with Less" ... Learn how districts are using low-cost and no-cost solutions for technology integration and professional development. Click here for the notes.

On a similar note, Michael Fischer recently posted tips for classroom teachers on the ASCD/Edge blog. He provides ideas for designing motivating and engaging learning events using resources we already have.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

New year, new tools? Or, revisiting favorites

Welcome to the 2010-2011 school year!

Looking for new tools, or reasons to revisit the old? Check out these links:

From online photo and video editors, to social bookmarking and networks for your classroom, check out this list of 20 websites to start your year off!

20 types of gadgets recommended by Google Certified Teachers

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Connecting with your Audience... Presentation tips

I was extremely fortunate to have participated in an Apple Distinguished Educators (ADE) Summer Institute several weeks ago. One of my favorite professional development sessions was by Michelle Hamilton, a professional speech coach.

Here are some of Michelle's presentation tips:
  • You have 8 seconds to connect with your audience; use eye contact to engage each person for several moments... don't just glance at a person, finish your thought/sentence while only looking at one person (one thought - one pair of eyes).
  • Always think, and say, "you ..." -- try to work in twenty "you"s to one "I." Don't open a presentation saying how glad you are to be here; the presentation is about them, not you ... such as "Today you are here to learn..." not "Today I am going to teach you..."
  • Start with the end in mind; ask your audience what they need to get out of your presentation.
  • Convince: Deliver only 3 main messages. Our brains are wired to remember in odd numbers (3 - 5 - 7, etc). But, stick to 3 key messages and divide your time equally. Focus on what your audience needs to hear or understand.
  • Whatever it is you need to advocate, be compelling, and engaging.
  • Walk around, touch the wall, sit in the audience to gain their perspective.
  • When answering a question, don't just repeat it, or say it's a good question. Elevate the importance by sharing... "I'll bet everyone would like to know...."
  • Turn your closing into a benefit. Don't apologize for "not getting through all of your information" ... rather, "I'm so glad that you could attend today. We could spend a lot more time on...."
Perhaps these few tips will help you to be, as Michelle stated, "incredibly effective" in your presentations, and your classroom.

Digital Divide = "Knows" and "Knows-not"s

I've seen many reports about the existence of a "digital divide" in this country -- often referring to the "haves" and the "have-nots" -- where the "haves" are those possessing digital equipment, and the "have-nots" are, well, those who basically don't.

A recent commentary by Mario Armstrong about the 7/10/2010 Pew Research Report stating the digital divide is closing, suggests that this definition needs to change:

There's much more to the "divide" than having digital stuff. Even in a well-equipped classroom, (with access to modern computers connected to the Internet), the digital divide is more about what teachers and students "know" and "know-not" when it comes to using the technology to improve teaching and learning.

President Bill Clinton's 2000 State of the Union Address proposed a bright future for "knowing" ...
Connecting classrooms and libraries to the Internet is crucial, but it's just a start. My budget ensures that all new teachers are trained to teach 21st century skills and creates technology centers in 1,000 communities to serve adults. This spring, I will invite high-tech leaders to join me on another New Markets tour -- to close the digital divide and open opportunity for all our people. I thank the high-tech companies that are already doing so much in this area and I hope the new tax incentives I have proposed will encourage others to join us.

If we take these steps, we will go a long way toward our goal of bringing opportunity to every community.
It's 2010!
Are we are there yet?

Friday, July 02, 2010

Google Earth for Educators -- New Community!

Are you an educator who wants to use Google Earth in the classroom? Now you can learn all the tips and tricks for using Google Earth as a teaching tool by visiting the new Google Earth for Educators Community. On this site, you can view lesson plans for a variety of grade levels and subjects, discuss Google Earth teaching tactics with fellow educators, see student-created work, and read how other teachers are using Google Earth in the classroom.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

iPad ... therefore iExplore...

I've been exploring an iPad since Monday. Like most users that have posted reviews, there is much to like! Having been an iPod Touch user since the 1st generation issue, the interface is familiar to me (no, I don't have an iPhone). The "intelligent keyboard" is a bit different than I am used to from the iPod (there's a shift key), yet, it's not hard to adapt to. I really appreciate the screen lock that prevents the image from rotating if I turn the iPad on it's side, which is great for reading in bed!

The physical size and weight seems a bit hard to hold "standing up" in my lap for a long period of time, although I appreciate the bigger screen, and it is light. I am hoping that once my "Apple branded portfolio-type case" arrives, that holding it will be a bit easier. For desktop or table top use, the keyboard/stand is probably a good idea. If all students begin to carry these instead of textbooks, I believe the keyboard/stand will be essential for classroom use.

Safari pages load quickly, however, I miss the ability to "find text on a page." When I have searched for information and want to locate the keywords on a resulting website, I haven't found a way to jump to the information. If you know how, please comment!!

My current journey and quest is to figure out how to create and publish content to be used with the iBooks App (that allows pages to curl as you turn them with your finger). The file type used for iBooks and other electronic book readers is "ePub." I've located several online resources for converting content, but have not yet found a resource that can produce an eBook that will maintain the page layout of a pdf or Word file. Since the underlying code appears to be html, I would imagine that software exists, or will soon.

If you haven't yet seen Theodore Gray's "The Elements" book for the iPad, check out this YouTube clip:

Imagine if all student texbooks contained content as dynamic and interactive as this!? I was inspired by this concept and emailed Mr. Gray to find out how "The Elements" was created for the iPad, to which he graciously responded:
The Elements was created almost entirely with Mathematica. Deployment on the iPad is with custom Objective-C code that reads configuration files and media assets created by Mathematica. It's not exactly a turn-key solution by any means: The Elements is an entirely new kind of thing and no existing system could just make something like it. Hence the use of Mathematica, which I like to think of as the ideal system for doing things for which there is no system for doing.

My new company, Touch Press, is actively working on multiple ebook projects that will use and extent the technology we developed for The Elements, and some day it may be fairly routine to create books like it.


Thanks! I look forward to learning more!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

It's Time for the AP Govt. Review!!

Stevenson High School's American Government teachers Andy Conneen and Dan Larsen, will be reprising their "Cram for the Exam" review show on C-SPAN Saturday morning, May 1. The pair will appear on C-SPAN's Washington Journal, bringing their unique spin to American government and politics. Students across the country will be invited to call in with their questions in preparation for the upcoming Advanced Placement U.S. Government and Politics exam on May 3.

Check out Larsen and Conneen's blog, CBS 2School, on the CBS 2 Chicago website. Throughout the month of April, they have been featuring "Cram for the Exam" posts that serve as a primer for American government and politics.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Free Google Guide for Educators

Google offers dozens of free resources that teachers and students can use to improve their learning experiences. This 33-page guide by Google Certified Teacher Richard Byrne, is intended for teachers who would like to know more about Google Search, Google Docs, and Google Maps. This guide begins with an overview of advanced Google Search tools that can improve Internet search experiences.
See the detailed list below which includes information about using Google Gadgets for creating word clouds and checking readability levels (Pages 20-4) as well as...

Search Tools
An overview of Google’s lesserknown search tools. Google Books, Google Scholar, Google News.
Pages 2 - 3

Google Books
How to access Google Books advanced search. How to embed books into your blog or website.
Pages 4-6

Google News Widgets
How to put custom Google News on your blog or website.
Page 8

Google Docs
Nine uses of Google Docs beyond word processing and presentations.
Pages 9-11

Creating Quizzes in Google Docs
Step by step directions for creating a quiz and posting it online using Google Docs Forms.
Pages 12- 17

Google Maps
Six ways to use Google Maps beyond the Social Studies classroom. Directions for creating placemarks in Google Maps.
Pages 25 - 32


You can view this guide electronically (consider the environment before printing!)

Film Your Issue

Only a few weeks remain to submit films to the "Film Your Issue" competition. Check out winning submissions and jury and audience favorites from past FYI competitions published in the iTunes podcast channel:

Sunday, January 31, 2010

What's Your Issue? Competition... spreading the word...

Are you familiar with "What's Your Issue?" -- "It's a global initiative and competition for the next generation of leaders and social entrepreneurs. The mission of What’s Your Issue Foundation is to provide a unique national platform for young adults to propose creative solutions to some of our nation’s most important challenges and for that voice to be heard, honored, and acted upon by leaders in government, the media, the private sector, and the nonprofit world.

The broader year-round mission of this dynamic and multi-faceted initiative is to encourage and support civic engagement by young adults – supported by an educational platform offering leadership and social entrepreneurial skills, as well as video-making skills."

Perhaps your curriculum includes units covering one of the eight issues listed below. Maybe you sponsor a club or activity that is committed to solving some of the problems in the world. In my years at Stevenson I have witnessed so many teachers, staff and students giving generously of their time and talents in support of a variety of local, national and global issues, whether it be working with the local senior citizens, honoring our veterans, or raising funds for victims of catastrophes, such as the recent earthquake in Haiti.

Today's technology allows our young people to have a global voice!! This is an amazing effort to better our world through the creative thinking of those who, one day, will be our caretakers. I urge you to share this with your students.

The "Film Your Issue" competition is open now! From the website:
We are seeking your innovative solutions to issues. We think that 14 to 24 year olds can offer a fresh, innovative approach to problem-solving. Specifically, we are looking for workable project ideas that can be locally launched that would tangibly tackle a problem. An example might be program or project in a city or town to deal with surplus cellphones, or with under-employed youth, or that would deal with national security or human rights.

Check out the eight front-burner issues we’ve listed on our Issues page. We’ve listed some considerations for each issue there that may get you started in thinking about your solution-project.

Then submit your three-minute video to the Film Your Issue competition that both articulates the problem and proposes a specific project to deal with the problem. Submission is open January 18 through April 12. When you submit your video, we will ask for a one-sheet outlining your project in more detail.

The more dynamic the presentation of the issue and your proposed project, the more you will capture our enthusiasm. While cinematic quality always helps, a great project idea will sway our hearts. Innovative thinking is as important as slickness.

Just remember that American and global leaders will be selecting the winning solutions that will be presented to senior officials in the Obama administration, broadcast on screens in Best Buy stores across the planet, posted on our iTunes tile and YouTube playlist. We will also fly U.S.-based Jury winners to Los Angeles for our Awards ceremony co-hosted by Sony Pictures.

The Film Your Issue competition is open to all global young adults 14 to 24.

Global submissions are eligible for all our Jury Awards, and all presentation platforms. Due to the labyrinth of global legalities of any competition, the Audience Favorite winner, as selected by the public on YouTube, is only eligible to U.S. residents.

The eight issues are:
Economic Recession
Health and Healthcare
Pathway from Poverty
National Security and Defense
Public Service
Human and Equal Rights
Additional information on YouTube:

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A few recent finds....

Over the past several weeks it seems I've found it difficult to make time for certain things ... such as posting to this blog. This has been partly due to the holiday season and end of semester/beginning of semester work, and partly due to my efforts on various committees (NICE Mini-Conference, ICE Educator of the Year, etc.), and extra-curricular activities (I'm now iLife Certified!)

Although I bookmark items as I find them, here are a few recent "finds" I'd like to share here:

100 Interesting Ways:

10 Teacher Development Tasks for Web 2.0 Tools:

What's Working in Schools (HOPE Foundation blog): -- Literature for your eyes and ears:

Do we know what good teaching looks like?

Technology Resources to Support the Struggling Reader (Meg Ormiston's wiki)

Best Online Collections of PowerPoints for Teachers (Larry Ferlazzo's posts are always top-notch!!)

Web 2.0 for Speech Teachers

What to Educational Innovators Really Do?

5 Reasons Why Educators Should Network