Wednesday, March 30, 2011

HeyTell - Talk on an ITouch?

The Apple ITouch IPod does almost everything the IPhone will do, except allow you to talk on the phone. One app comes close, HeyTell.

This free app available for ITouch, IPhone, and Android, allows end users to send voice messages to other HeyTell users. To register as a HeyTell user you will need a valid email. All voice is transmitted through IP, not through cell service. If the receiving party is not running the app, a pop up box will appear informing them of an incoming message. Once registered invite others to join and be part of your HeyTell friends list.

It's like a modern day walkie talkie. Teachers can use this app to have students connect with each other if doing collaborative projects between two classrooms. And parents, if your child is grounded from using the cell phone, yes, they can still communicate.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Smithsonian Wild

The Smithsonian Wild has put together a collection of images acquired from many webcams around the world capturing animal photos in their natural habitat. Images can be searched by animal group or by animal name, either scientific or common. A great resource when teaching habitat and animals, enjoyed by students.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Evernote - Creating a "What I Learned" Portfolio

"I learned ...". Wouldn't you like to have each student be able to tell you what they learned after a lesson? Wouldn't it be so cool if that statement were saved on a computer? And wouldn't it be perfect if they were organized into student folders?

Evernote and their corresponding ITouch app allows students to do this with a quick set up.

For an elementary classroom:
  • create an Evernote account
  • create notebooks inside that account, one for each student
  • using the app have students select appropriate notebook and record their message
  • This example will save the recording into Andrew's Notebook once Andrew were to click the Voice option.

For upper elementary, middle school, or high school students you may want to have students create their own Evernote account, a notebook inside their account, and share their notebook with you as the teacher.

Other artifacts students can place into their Evernote portfolio are screen shots from IPod Touch's. Once a student completes an app demonstrating a learned skill, they can click the power button and home button at the same time, saving a screen shot into the ITouch photo library. Then use the camera roll button on the Evernote app to upload this image.

Students can include snip-its of documents they've created on the computer into their Evernote notebooks. Using the Evernote client for a computer, students can copy/paste portions of documents or images into their portfolio, or attach the entire file.

Explore options that exist in Evernote. Have students Favorite their 5 best learning items in time for conferences. This will provide an easy to access organization of all your students learning moments during the hectic rush of gathering evidence before Parent Teacher Conferences.

An Inspire Update

Teachers in our region adopted Promethean Boards and Active Inspire into their classrooms. As any software updates are pushed out every so often. Active Inspire recently updated their software consisting of a change to the interface used when creating learning response questions. After using the new interface it's been a resounding opinion to adopt this update for teachers creating Active Expression or Active Votes lessons.

The old six step wizard would allow a person to make a selection and click "next" after each section. At times it was click "next" "next" "next" repeatedly to create questions. This new wizard is an intuitive interface which provides choices based on your selection. See for yourself:

How to create one question:

How to create a self paced set of questions:

How to create math fluency activity (mad math minutes):

Note: to Update your Inspire software click Help menu - Check for updates. Be sure to also update the Active Driver.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Brainstorming Using Google Docs

We've all heard the quote "two heads are better than one", so why not move that thought into writing. For instance if you were teaching and wanted your class to brainstorm ideas about their interpretation of a book, how to begin a project, a debatable viewpoint, or one of many topics, how can you use Google Doc's to help you out?

Start by creating a new Google Doc. Share this document so others can also modify or edit the document. Sharing can be done either privately and inviting others, publicly requiring the use of a Google login, or publicly for anyone anywhere.

A nice tip is to create a table inside your Google Doc. A nice table is 2 columns by many rows. Since anyone can write anywhere, ask students to write in a particular row, making it more organized and easier to get started. Table properties allow you to change the color of the table and outline size of cells.

After the initial writing is over, students can quickly comment on other students ideas by adding text into the appropriate box.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Telescopic Text

The example at Telescopic Text demonstrates how one can take a sentence like

and using a few clicks with some additional words begin unfolding this sentence into a more descriptive one, like

You will need to go to Telescopic Text to see this fully unfolded, as the author expands the original sentence into a very picturesque paragraph. Click on a highlighted word or phrase to unfold that portion.

Try writing one yourself at You will first type your sentence into a dialog box that looks like

Once you have your sentence, click on the word you want to unfold and then click "insert" like

You will need to create an account to save your finished work.

Teachers can use this online resource in their classroom and have students expand a simple sentence into something more descriptive. Using one computer two or three students could take turns adding their unfolding thoughts. You could create a contest, beginning with one simple sentence, and determine the best finished products.

This could be a motivating opportunity to encourage students on becoming more descriptive writers.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Math Vocabulary from Spelling City

One factor for many students not passing state assessments in mathematics is the lack of understanding math vocabulary. Spelling City, a web resource used by many area teachers, has released grade level math vocabulary lists.

Each grade level has several lists, and each list contains approximately 10 terms, which can be used with spelling or vocabulary practice activities available on the site. Simply open a list and choose from Spelling Test, Vocabulary Test, Teach Me, Play a Game, Worksheets, and Print the List. If you choose a game there are several available to play, or print out and have students complete offline. Some of these games also make for great interactive whiteboard activities.

This can be a very good supplemental site offered to students that need additional preparation.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Need a Math/Sci Video - Khan Acadamy

There is an amazing collection of short videos explaining many, many math and science concepts across the curriculum. These segments are short, focusing on one concept with a few good examples to clarify the lesson.

As one digs deeper into the website, teachers will find a link to "watch" videos, and a link to "practice" concepts taught from those videos. To practice concepts you will need to login with an account, and Khan Acadamy accepts current Google accounts. This becomes a very nice implementation for schools that are integrating Google Apps.

Practice includes answering math questions from a selected level, levels starting at basic arithmetic up through Calculus. Khan Acadamy monitors student progress through their online practice. As a teacher you can sign up as a coach, allowing you to monitor your students progress through their individual practice. You need to have students associate their logins with you as their coach.

Khan Acadamy is great for supplementary materials supporting students that need additional explanations, or those absent from a given class. It is definitely worth the bookmark.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Use it in a Sentence

When learning new vocabulary we raise our level of thinking if we can create a sentence using a new learned word. Phrays offers a "word of the day" and asks users to compose a sentence containing the word.

What a perfect classroom starter. Upload the best sentence in class to the website. Note: twitter account needed to upload sentences.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Screen Casting with Screenr

Often times I am asked how to complete a computer related task. Screen-casting is a great way to provide the answer because it is saved and can be repeated. There are several software approaches to screen-casting like Camtasia, Camstudio, or Quicktime10. However, I've been using an online tool called screenr.

Screenr is paired with twitter, so you'll need a twitter account to save any screen-casting you complete. There is an option to tweet the finished screen-cast, or post and share like other Web2.0 tools. Go to screenr, find the record option, and follow onscreen instructions. You are limited to 5 minutes, but isn't that a long enough time to watch a "how to" video?

Follow up on 3/23/11: Screenr is now allowing you to pair your login identity with Twitter, Google, Facebook, Linked-In, Yahoo, and Windows Live.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Possibilities

A future look at a day in the life with glass, from Corning. Let your imagination run.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Giggle It -

The Giggle It project is hosting a contest aimed to inspire young writers to express themselves with a twist of humor. This project is sponsored by International Association of School Librarians and International Children's Digital Library. Projects this year include creating a class story analogous to Snow White reflecting the culture of your home town, including characters for snow white and all the dwarfs. Individuals can create a personal logo, an individual haiku, or a travel poster.

Content and ideas target children ages 10-14, as children of that age are beginning to develop a strong sense of reading. These writers are also beginning to express their creativity in written work. Most ideas integrate some type of humor engaging attentiveness for all readers. A teacher will need to create an account for their class. This way all work shared and uploaded is not linked back to a student, allowing for a cybersafe experience.

The international audience of Giggle It projects allows teachers to examine the relevance of word choice by the students work. Authors need to step back and think of who are their readers, at times providing definition of culturally relevant words so that other online readers will understand the humor associated with word choice.

Giggle It aims for students to learn and promote international understandings using a bit of humor.

Give Giggle It a look over, read through past projects, and join to participate in this years project. View this Giggle It Voicethread for a Web2.0 look at this online resource.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Google Docs Template Gallery

In our region many schools are beginning to implement Google Apps. A huge benefit of using Google Apps is the availability of Docs, and what I'd like to ask in this "shout out" is, have you noticed the numerous templates available?

Near the "search" bar at the top you will see a browse the template gallery button. Clicking this button will take you to category page where you can surf through the hottest templates, or by category including business, cards, holidays, students, and teachers.

The best part is if you have a personal template you want to share, you can upload it here. If you are part of a school domain you can set the permissions of this template to be available for all users within the school, like awards certificates, thanks you cards, or letter head. Students can download resumes, cover letters, and a variety of other starter documents.

Google has so many items to offer, can we keep up with all the snip-its of possibilities?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Shortening URL's with

Have you been noticing those URL’s beginning with is a nice URL shortener making those “long and I don’t want to take the time to type” web addresses into something a bit easier. Fairly straight forward, you copy a long URL into the space provided at and you will get a shortened version. You can also create your own shortened URL’s if you create account.

How can you use them in a class? Used when asking anyone to go online to a specific webpage and you don't have an online link provided. Here is a URL searching Google news related to social networking: and here is the corresponding URL: