Saturday, December 10, 2011

Ideas for providing non-written feedback on student work

A teacher asks:
I would like to give each of my students oral comments rather than written ones for a paper they are working on. How can I create and then deliver these comments?

Here are 2 ideas that use iOS devices:

1. For audio only...
Using an iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone, and the free app AudioBoo, record your commentary and publish your audiboo using a indentifying "tag" that is unique to the student... such as their student ID and class period:  12345p6. Students would then locate their commentary files online at <-- using their unique tag word at the end of the address. This would also provide an aggregated list of all of their feedback you post using "their tag," which can be listened to on the web, or subscribed to in iTunes.

2. If you have an iPad2 consider the free app called ScreenChomp. You can load the the student's paper as a background image (it will need to be converted to an image file), or by using the built-in camera to snap a picture of the paper.

You can then provide some commentary, and use the tools to annotate items on the page. ScreenChomp saves your commentary as a movie. When finished, publish the movie to ScreenChomp and use the share button to "copy the link" which can then be emailed to the student.

Here's a sample of how it might look:

For a nice comparison of iPad screencasting apps, read

Or, if using a computer...
Some of our World Languages teachers are using Screencasting software (such as to provide assessments on digital products, which they view on their computers, and then speak about what is being viewed.

Here's a sample of how that might look when viewing and commenting on a word document:

Note that with this method, all of the screencasts uploaded to a Screenr account are visible online, so teachers might not wish to identify specific students. This would also allow students to view the work of their peers, and gain futher insight based on the teacher comments.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

K-12 Online Conference 2011! Tune in to learn!

The free K-12 Online Conference, now in it's 6th year, is entering its 2nd week!
K-12 Online Conference for 2011 – Purposeful Play, runs from Nov 28 – Dec 8, 2011.

The K-12 Online Conference invites participation from educators around the world interested in innovative ways Web 2.0 tools and technologies can be used to improve learning. This year, educators can also earn professional development (CPE) credit for participation in the conference (providing this meets with the expections of your work place). More info at:

These sessions provide great opportunities to learn new things or improve on what we already do.
Screencasting 101 may be one that will inspire you to create lesson assistance for your students who learn in a different way –

Here is the schedule:
Week of November 28, 2011:
Strand 1 and 2 (Storytime and Team Captains)
20 presentations already posted.

Week of December 5, 2011:
Strand 3 and 4 (Sandbox Play and Level Up)
Presentations posted (4 per day, 20 during the week Monday – Friday)

Monday, December 12th at 8 pm Central
Afterglow Live Event In BlackBoard Collaborate / Elluminate Live

Presenters, session titles and links for 2011:

Why not take your PD to go!?
Subscribe to the presentations as video or audio from the iTunesU Channel – here is the iTunes video link:

More information, and archives of presentations back to 2006, can be found on the website:

Saturday, October 22, 2011

K-12 Online Conference Keynoters Announced!

Mark your calendars for this year's K-12 Online conference which begins the week of  Nov. 28. The Pre-Conference keynote will be on Nov. 21.
The organizer team of the 2011 K-12 Online conference has announced an outstanding lineup of keynote speakers for this year -- including Illinois' own, Carol Broos! Check out their 2011 marketing flyer (PDF) which provides information about the dates of this year’s conference, it's theme, and keynoters. Selected presenters will be announced next week. Please share this marketing flyer with other educators you know! More info at:

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Testmoz = free and easy online test generator

At yesterday's NICE meeting I learned about several great websites and tools for using technology in teaching and learning. These will be summarized and posted to the NICE Blog ( and the NICE website Resource page ( shortly.

But, until then, you may be interested looking at this...

  • Testmoz is a test generator that sports 4 question types (True/false, multiple choice, multiple response, and fill in the blank questions), automatic grading, a really simple interface and detailed reports (download as csv file).
  • Students get instant feedback on their score, and you can choose whether or not to display the correct answers.
  • Answers can be automatically randomized
  • Testmoz is free, and does not require you (or your students) to register.
  • You can build a fully functional test in about a minute.
  • Testmoz is a simple test generating application created by Matt Johnson, an undergraduate student at Washington State University, Vancouver.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Secrets to Success in Learning and Life?

Paul Tough's article in the 9/14/11 NYTimes, What if the Secret to Success Is Failure?” speaks about the development of character for successful learning, as well as success in life. Can character be taught? We have an SEL initiative ongoing at our school, and there are many discussions, and learning targets designed to reinforce students social awareness and interpersonal skills.

Educators at two venerable New York City schools, KIPP and Riverdale Country School, are forging a new frontier in character education.

Tough's article mentions Angela Duckworth’s research:
People who accomplished great things, she noticed, often combined a passion for a single mission with an unswerving dedication to achieve that mission, whatever the obstacles and however long it might take. She decided she needed to name this quality, and she chose the word “grit.”
"Grit” is one of 24 character strengths that are now evaluated on student report cards. What would it look like if we also reported our observations on the strengths of students' character?

Riverdale’s headmaster, Dominic Randolph, explained that, “The idea of building grit and building self-control is that you get that through failure. And in most highly academic environments in the United States, no one fails anything.”

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Education: 10 years ago vs. 10 years from now

The NY Times article "What Will School Look Like in 10 Years?" states that "Computers, electronic whiteboards and other interactive technologies are fundamentally changing American education. That’s the view of the experts whom The Times spoke with about what the classroom will look like ten years from now. Listen to excerpts from their predictions below, and share your own thoughts in the comments section." (Visit the link to hear audio interviews).

As I read this, I think back to 2001 -- the 3rd year of our PowerRanger Professional Develoment program, and the year we added 102 teachers (the pilot began in 1999). Laptops were 12" white iBooks, with the slide-out CD drawer and no floppy disk drive, and we were learning iMovie 2. There was no Google, no Facebook, and wikipedia was just beginning. Apple introduced the iPod and the first version of OSX. Stevenson teachers connected their computers to the TVs in the classroom to project ClarisWorks slideshows. Classroom webpages were created with Pagemill and Grades were posted online using an export feature in the Making the Grade program. (Setting up electronic gradebooks involved downloading student names from ClassXP and importing the names into the gradebook.)

How has instruction and/or student learning changed in the past 10 years? If you were teaching in 2001, are your student "products" much different today? What about the process?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Steve Jobs Made a Difference, How will you?

Unless you are living under a rock, by now you have heard the news that Steve Jobs is stepping down as CEO of Apple.

This quote is from the "Think Different" ad campaigns when Steve returned to Apple's helm in 1997:
"Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."
How will you make a difference today in the learning of your students or your colleagues? Are you crazy enough to think you can change the world? If the world is too big to tackle right now, think about the work you do each day that pushes the world further. What are you doing to inspire the people around you? 

You ... can make a difference... "To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world." -- (author unknown).

A new school year begins.... time to think about applying that summer learning!

What did you learn this summer? How will what you learned help your students in the coming year? Did you discover any new tools or ways to motivate your students to learn?

This summer I attended the ISTE Conference in Philadelphia. This conference draws more than 13,000 attendees each year. There are break-out sessions, poster sessions, spotlight sessions, workshops, keynote speeches and a huge vendor floor. Fortunately, there are many archived sessions available online so I can revisit and relearn and rethink how this new knowledge will help me teach others in the coming year.

The ISTE opening keynote address was delivered by Dr. John Medina, author of Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home and School: (fast forward to 29m40s to skip the ISTE opening comments).

Be sure to check out the ISTE Video on Demand page at for access to more than 50 recorded sessions!

Friday, July 01, 2011

When learning technology, don't be afraid to play and discover!!

The main difference I see when students and adults are learning to use technology, is that students are not afraid to push buttons to "discover" what happens -- they do not care about ramifications at all. Adults, being the responsible beings that we are, seem to have a bit more "consideration" ... we often go for the "safe route" and try to avert "disaster" by taking less risks. 

Here is my advice for teachers when it comes to learning new technology:
Please DO "throw caution to the wind" and PLAY and DISCOVER!  -- there is nothing you can do that can't be fixed. Learning by "discovery" can be both frustrating and satisfying... and what a great journey it is!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The hidden power of smiling! :-)

I love TED Talks. Check out Ron Gutman's talk on the hidden power of smiling. Did you know we are born smiling? Or that, "one smile can generate the same level of brain stimulation as up to 2,000 bars of chocolate." The description states: "Did you know your smile can be a predictor of how long you'll live -- and that a simple smile has a measurable effect on your overall well-being? Prepare to flex a few facial muscles as you learn more about this evolutionarily contagious behavior."


Monday, May 09, 2011

Reports of "Scareware" targeted at Mac users

This article from Computer World magazine last week shares information about "nuisance" or "scareware" software named MacDefender that may download to your computer when you visit certain websites. (A similar program called "MacProtector" downloaded on my computer over the weekend when I visited a site about textbooks.)

Here are several things you need to be aware of:
1) As "real" as the popup window seems, your computer is most likely not infected (especially if you have current anti-virus software).
2) You can prevent the installer from automatically launching by changing your Safari preferences to NOT open "safe" files after downloading.

3) Remember that programs will NOT install unless you enter in your computer's password. (However, if you HAD allowed the installation, the program will not quit until you either pay for the software, or go through several steps to remove it).

Here's a link to a similar article at:

Remember to keep your anti-virus software up to date, back up your files regularly, and practice safe computing by only visiting "trusted" websites!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

What's trending? Check out Google's Realtime.

April 29, 2011 was a historic day. It was "The Royal Wedding" day of Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton. A Google search today reveals "about 61 million" possible results:

Talk about information overload!! If you were to click one weblink every second, it would take over 700 days (non-stop) to get to every site (61 000 000 seconds = 706.018519 days).

There has been lots of media coverage of the event, and just about everyone is talking about it, both online and in person. If you want to pay attention to the online comments, just click the "Realtime" link on the left of the search results page to view a continuous "live" stream of Twitter comments (Google has recently added Facebook comments to the feed). You can "Pause" the stream, or use the Timeline to roll back and view older comments.

Here's more information about how Google's Realtime works:

Think about projecting a Realtime live feed of current events as students arrive to class each day.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Japan's Tragedy: How Technology Can Help

Reports from Japan continue to show the unbelievable devastation from Friday's earthquake and tsunami. Rescue efforts are underway, and it will be some time before this country can pick up the pieces and move on.

There are ways that technology can help. It's easy to send money online to the Red Cross, either by visiting their website, or through various vendors, such as Apple's iTunes,, and American Airlines (where AAdvantage members can earn miles for donating $50 or more), and Unicef, just to name a few.

Google's Crisis Response page provides a "person finder" tool to help locate lost loved ones:

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

ICE Conference Wrap Up

The 25th Annual ICE Conference (Feb. 22-25, 2011) may be history, but the learning continues. Wednesday's keynote speaker, Rushton Hurley provided a great resource to attendees, and I am now a subscriber to his Next Vista for Learning newsletter.  (Sign up here.)

The following is reprinted from the March issue:
Google Goodies 
Did you know there is a tool for recipes in Google search, allowing you to filter dishes by how many calories, how long they take to make, and which ingredients commonly go with whatever you searched on?  Neither did I!  Do a search on "lentils," look on the left, and click "recipes" to make your way to as calorie- and time-sensitive culinary delights as you choose.  Or just click here.  Culinary arts teachers, you are loved.
For the home economics teachers, give the Google wedding planner a look (I'm serious).  Someone is apparently going to win a dream wedding on that page.  Who'd have guessed?
You whose teaching includes coverage of current events, there's a YouTube tool you'll want to start following: CitizenTube.  At the moment this includes loads of videos from countries across the Middle East - a rather amazing lesson on democracy may only be a click away.
Finally, if you're wanting really creative takes on how to use Google tools, turn off the TV and take in the Google Demo Slam.  Be warned, though; this is one of those things that's hard to stop watching.  It's been going on for a while, and Monday (today, probably, as you read this), you can find out who the "Slampion" is.  I voted for the Japanese freefall skydiving-ish folks.
I echo Ruston's recommendation for the slam videos. They are great entertainment!
Spring, here we come!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Start the new year with "education-friendly" tech tools

This just in...

There are several Internet tools and services that provide "education" versions suitable for classroom use. I've recently learned of an education version for one of my favorite tools for integrating images into instruction: BigHugeLabs... from the website:

Are you using BigHugeLabs in the classroom? Sign up for a free Educator account and get the following benefits:

  • Pre-register your students so they can sign in without requiring an email address.
  • View and download content created by your students.
  • Use the site advertising-free. And we absolutely do not try to sell anything to your students.
  • Ready to print ID cards for your students
  • BigHugeLabs is proud to assist you with your education goals.
Thanks to Cheryl Oakes for sharing this!