Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cell Phones in the Classroom?

Most teachers only deal with cell phones in the classroom when they are taking them away from students who are secretly trying to text one of their friends. But not anymore! Poll Everywhere is changing how cell phones are used when it comes to students in your classroom. Here is a quick video introduction from the company's Website. What Poll Everywhere basically lets you do is create a student response system (clickers) using the student's phones. You can create the questions and students can text in their answers. Here is a demo video from a teacher who uses it in his classroom:

Of course students who have phones will love this feature, but remember that not all students will have cell phones or unlimited texting. (There is a charge for the texts.) But for a review or to get some anonymous feedback from students, it is great.  Try it out.


Monday, November 8, 2010

How to Download YouTube Videos (Again!)

This is like deja vu all over again. We are revisiting how to download YouTube for use in the classroom. Here is a video showing two ways. One is with KeepVid and the other is using YouTube Downloader. Check them both out. I am quickly becoming a fan of the latter, but have used KeepVid for the past two years. A shout out to Paul for bringing YouTube Downloader to my attention.

Of course we know that we are "supposed" to ask permission from the video's owner and that YouTube doesn't really like people to download videos from their site. But, hey anything is good under the banner of educating our youth. Especially when we are reselling the videos or making a profit from it.  :)

November Staff Meeting--Tech Time

Welcome back,

This post is devoted to a couple of items you might like to try at home or school. The first one is Windows Speech Recognition. You can find Speech Recognition on your Control Panel in either Windows Vista or Windows 7. You will need a microphone of some sort to get started. Set up your microphone and work through the tutorial. The more you use Speech Recognition with your computer, the better it will work. It actually "learns" your voice patterns over time. It is fun to try, but it takes a little getting used to.

The second item is a shout out to the Flip Video. Here is an earlier post. Paul and I use them a lot in class. They are easy to use and work like a USB flash drive to view and save the video. Give them a try. SEF grant?


Sunday, October 10, 2010

October Staff Meeting Tech Time

Paul and I would like to talk about two items today. The first one is more personal in nature and the second one is more for classroom use. Here we go!

Paul told me about Google Voice earlier in the year and how his son Luke uses it. It sounded like a pretty cool feature for those of us that have to juggle multiple phones and answering machines. Oh, by the way, did I mention that you can also use your new Google number to call anywhere in the US or Canada for free. Here is a quick video about it:

If you think that Google Voice might be helpful to you, give it a try. Here is some additional information if you would like to read more on the subject. Remember, as with all things Google, all you need is a Gmail account to get started.

Next up is a quick review. Paul has talked before about ZoomIt, his favorite computer presentation tool. Here is a quick review on how it works and how you can start using it tomorrow in your classroom. Yes, another video. (Why should I type when you can watch and listen?)

Remember, it is located on the high school's Shared drive in the Staff folder. Give it a try.

We hope you find this info helpful, thanks.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Google's App Inventor for Android

I usually don't talk a lot of programming on this blog, but I do actually teach it, so what the heh. Google has done it again. Try App Inventor for Android in your programming or math class! Watch obligatory YouTube video below:

Now, for some of the facts. This is still just a Beta version. But, if you are a teacher (or student) interested in programming or programming smart phone apps, this is a great place to start. You need to sign up to receive information on how to get started with App Inventor for Android. I signed up, downloaded/installed Android, set up the Android Extras, and I was soon completing the first tutorial shown in the video. Don't worry if you don't actually have an Android phone, the Android Extras download includes a phone emulator (fancy jargon for a fake digital version of a phone) to test your apps on.

Like I said, I just finished the first tutorial and am starting on the next one. I teach Computer Programming in the Spring and this could be a great tool to use with students. There is a wealth of information at the App Inventor Site and if you are a visual learner try searching YouTube for tutorial videos. There are a ton!

I will follow-up in a few months after I have more time to work with App Inventor.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Blogging 101

Welcome back to school people! It is professional development time. For today's PD, we are talking about blogging. What is it? Why is it so cool? How can I use it in the classroom? Great questions. Check out my presentation on Blogging 101 for answers to all these questions and more.

Visit Blogger or Sparta's Blog Site to start your classroom blog now!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Sick of PowerPoint? Try Prezi.

This is our last post of the school year (unless I get bored this summer) and we wanted to give you some homework over the summer. So, if you are bored this summer try out a Prezi.

Prezi is an online Flash-based presentation tool that I learned about from Steve Dembo at the 2010 MACUL Conference . If you are sick of PowerPoint, this might be your ticket. Watch the obligatory video below:

That is the same video from the Prezi site. This is a very cool online tool for you or your students to use instead of PowerPoint. Let's face it, by the time students reach 9th grade they have been using PPT since 3rd or 4th grade. The thrill is gone. Prezi is a great change of pace. Once you sign up for a free account, your presentations are stored online to edit or view; you can keep them private or make them public and share them; you can also download final copies of the presentations if you want to store them on your computer. Lots of options.

Here is a prezi that I created about my Dad as an example for our Hero Project in my Intro to Computers class. Notice how you can easily embed YouTube video into your presentations.

Finally, if you are not going to have your students use this, maybe you can. Make your own prezi or search for prezis on a subject that you might use in your class. No sense in recreating the wheel! Here is a great prezi on Math.

I almost forgot. Beware iPad or iPhone/Touch users. Prezi is a Flash based Web tool and won't work with these products at this time. Sorry!

Good luck and have a great summer!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Google Forms

Want to survey people? Want to gather some data? Do an online test or quiz? Google forms comes to the rescue. Forms are a part of Google Docs. Watch this great video now!

Pretty slick huh? But that's not all. Creative teachers around the world have used Google Forms to create online quizzes and tests. Some of them will even correct themselves. Here is an online form I created for my freshmen to use as a reflection tool and check-out at the end of one of our projects. Guess how I learned how to do this? I watched a few YouTube videos. Here is one of them.

Finally, in Google Docs you can search for templates of forms that other people have already made, and you can save them and reuse them. How perfect is that?

Give it a try!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Google Calendar

Welcome back! We are continuing our trip through the land of all things Google. If you haven't been following along, we have visited Gmail, Google Docs, and sharing documents on the Web with Google Docs. Today, we are talking about one of my favorite Google tools, Google Calendar. Here is a quick video introduction:

Pretty easy. I use Google Calendar for a couple of things. I am in charge of the Web site information for the football program. I have separate calendars for the high school teams and the middle school teams. I can easily embed them in the Web sites (blogs or wikis too) so parents and players can stay updated on events. I also have a personal calendar that is synced up to my iTouch. The beautiful thing is that you only have to have one Google calendar account, but you can make several calendars with it. A family with several children can actually have a calendar for each child, but have all of their events show up on a master calendar to keep track of everything. Google will even let you color code each calendar. Nice!

Your calendars can be private, you can share them with specific people, or they can be made public. The option is yours.

If you don't believe me, here are seven great reasons to use Google Calendar. It is easy to get started and easy to use. If you stumble along the way, they have a great calendar help section.

Give it a try!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sharing Your Google Docs

Welcome back to our tour of awesome Google applications. So far we have signed up for a Gmail Account and learned about Google Docs. Today we are talking about how to share the documents in your Google Docs account. There are two main ways that you can share documents with other users. Inviting people to share and collaborate is one way, and creating a link to a document is the other. Luckily for you I have videos of each.

First up is inviting people to view and possibly edit or collaborate on a document.

The second way is by creating a link to a document. A lot of educators that I work with like to use this option to link documents in their classroom blogs so parents or students can access them.

If you are a blogger and want to share documents with your readers or simply want to collaborate on a document with another person, try Google Docs.

Have a good one!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Google Docs

I know, you are wondering, "Google Docs, what are they, how can I use them, and how can they benefit me?" Well, check out this quick video to find out.

So, Google Docs lets you create documents, spreadsheets and presentations online. If that isn't cool enough by itself, you can also share or collaborate with those same documents. Which mean you can choose who can access your documents, share them instantly, and edit and present with others in real time. Good stuff!

Some other benefits of using Google Docs include the ability to edit and access your documents from anywhere, safely store your work, easily save and export copies, and organize your documents into folders. A fantastic feature, if you are a blogger, is that Google Docs lets you easily share documents by hyperlink with your readers. (More on this in my next post!)

Impressed? I was the first time I tried it out. The great thing about Google Docs is you can use it for free with your Gmail address and password or by creating a Google Account.

Because I love YouTube, here is a pretty good overview of Google Docs from a teacher in California.

For more information and specifics visit the Google Docs Web site. Now, go try out Google Docs and see how easy it is to use!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Google Tools for Teachers

Everyone has heard about Google, the world's most popular place to search the Web. But, Google offers a lot of tools that many educators will want to explore and use in their classrooms. Each week for the next several weeks, I will explore a new tool for you to try out. Some of the items I will be test-driving for you are:

  • Gmail
  • Google Docs
  • Google Calendars
  • Google Sites
  • Picasa
  • Google Groups
  • and much more
Did I mention that Google also owns YouTube and Blogger? We will have a lot to explore in the upcoming weeks. If you would like to join in and try out some of the cool features that these Google applications have to offer then get a Gmail account and follow along. Many of the tools I will be discussing require a Gmail account log in. Super easy directions to sign up for your account are below. Plus, it is always a good idea to have a back-up E-mail account to use.

If you don't have a Gmail account, get one! Why you ask? Here are 10 good reasons. Sounds good, huh? Click the "Create an Account" button, fill in some basic information. You will be in your very own Gmail account in minutes.

Good luck and I will talk to you soon!