Thursday, May 31, 2012

Pinterest in the Classroom?

I was at the MACUL Conference back in March and hear a lot about a site named Pinterest. Other educators that spoke of it were absolutely hooked on it. If you have not visited or heard of Pinterest, think of it as an online bulletin board that you can "pin" your favorite things. Pictures, videos, links, etc. Here is a quick video to explain more.

A lot of the talk I heard about Pinterest had to do with its possible used in education and in the classroom. I will be honest, I don't know enough about it to have an opinion one way or the other. My hope is that you will explore what Pinterest has to offer and see if you can use it. A note of caution, Pinterest is not filtered or offer and EDU version at the moment, so be careful with your studetnts. I requested an invite this morning and am eager to try it out this summer. In the mean time, here is a great post from Pearson School Systems on Four Ways to Use Pinterest in Education. Let me know what you think after you have tried it or if you already have let me know your thoughts.


Friday, May 25, 2012

SlideRocket Revisited

In my quest to find decent online tools for my students to use that are not name Google Docs, I talked about SlideRocket, an online presentation tool. My students had the choice to use SlideRocket or Prezi for a class presentation. SlideRocket worked well and the students seemed to enjoy it. It has a feel a little closer to PowerPoint and that appealed to some. I had to present to my district's board of education last week and chose to use SlideRocket. I liked it a lot.

Now, with SlideRocket's partnership with Google Apps for Education, students have one more choice to publish their work online. If you haven't tried SlideRocket out, give it try!


Friday, May 18, 2012

My BYOT Experience at School

Are you thinking BYOB? No, definitiely not. BYOT means Bring Your Own Technology. More specifically, to school or your work place. BYOT is a craze that is somewhat taking the nation by storm and creating a lot of discussion in schools about how we should look at technology and our students. Their are school districts out there, Forest Hills Schools near Cincinnati for one, where BYOT is where it is at. Students are encouraged (expected) to bring their own computer to school. Whether it be a laptop, netbook, tablet, iPad, iTouch, Nook, Fire, etc. Students supply their own technology, not the school. Interesting concept, huh?

We are interested in fostering the idea of BYOT at the high school here in Sparta. With that in mind, I organized a BYOT Day at the high school last week. My hope was that teachers would plan some sort of activity during their class period to use the technology that students brought in that day. The staff was asked on a volunteer basis if they wanted to participate. About 25% chose to try it. I was able to email out information about activities that they might try such as Socrative, TodaysMeet, The Khan Academy, and Poll Everywhere to name a few. I had students create a commercial advertising BYOT Day and I even went on the announcements to talk about it. Some students were a little apprehensive about bringing in devices fearing theft or loss.

Results were positive. A lot of students brought in devices. I saw a lot of laptop and iPads. In just my classes, about 70-80% of my upperclassmen had devices with Web access. My freshman class ran around 40%. There were a few filtering options and a few connectivity issues with the wireless, but overall the day went very well. As I was driving home that day, I had a few thoughts. First, students love technology. If we can harness the tech power that they own and bring to school everyday, that is a lot of technology in the classroom that the district doesn't have to purchase, maintain, and replace. Second, there is a segment of the student population out there that does not have any of the devices discussed above. We have to make sure to include them in the process with technology that they can checkout or simply include them in a group or pair them up with someone with technology. Finally, teachers need training. A lot of it. There are some teachers that were hugely supportive of what I was trying to do and I thank them. They were willing to step out on a limb and try something new. That is hard, but great things can come of it. There was also that segment of the teaching staff that wanted nothing to do with BYOT Day, which is fine, but you can only keep your head stuck in the sand for so long. Technology is all around us. Catch the wave or be crushed by it.

Based on the success (small sample size) of our first BYOT Day, I may try another one next month before school is out for the summer. I think that BYOT has merit and is the future. Is my school ready to go both feet in yet, no. But, if we start small, and build some trust and momentum, we will be ready in the future.

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Google Search Education

I have always tried to teach my students good search skills. There is so much out there on the Web, that if you can filter down information and find what you need in a fast and efficient manner, you are ahead of the game. Google has just come out with Search Education to help teachers everywhere in the process of teaching students how to get better at their search strategies. Because you want it, here is a video:

Go Google! There are several things I like about this site. First, there is a need. An important one. Everyone should know how to search efficiently. This site will help teachers and students. The quote in the video said it all, "there will be a divide between those who can search and those who can't." Be one of the people that can search. Second, Google provides lesson plans.  Third, Google provides webinars for teachers. Many teachers are afraid of technology and using it because they are not good at it. Google tries to help with that by providing free, on your own time trainings. Finally, A Google A Day Challenge. Google is providing us with a specific challenge problem to use the search skills students are learning. They are categorized by subject area. A great sponge activity at the beginning of the class. There you have it, another tool that Google has provided for education. Try it out. I am definitely going to.

Thanks for visiting!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Google Drive

Just as I start my search for alternatives to Google Docs, they come out with Google Drive, their cloud-based storage system that is, of course free, and starts at 5 GB of storage space. Here is you video:

This is Google's answer to the very popular products Dropbox and SkyDrive that are already out there. Now, I have not been able to use Google Drive, because it is not running yet, but I am sure it will work seamlessly with all of the the other Google products that it is partnered up with. They always do. It will be interesting to see how they do stacked up against Dropbox which I like very much. (My account is up to 50GB of storage for free by the way.) But, as everyone in the world goes wireless and cloud computing takes over, cloud storage with its anytime, anywhere access has been wildly successful. Why shouldn't Google get a piece of the pie. It just makes sense.

When I have had a chance to try Google Drive, I will be back with an update. Thanks for stopping by!