Featured Post

Draw That Habitat

What it is: I am a fan of everything PBS does, recently I ran across this gem while looking for some activities that help students learn about habitats.  Draw that Habitat is SO much more engaging than most of the “match the animal to the correct habitat” lower level thinking “games”...

Read More

8 alternatives to Google Reader

Posted by admin | Posted in Blogs, For Teachers, professional development, Teacher Resources, web tools, Web2.0 | Posted on 12-06-2013

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

9

8 alternatives to Google Reader

I’ve been in mourning over Google’s decision to shut down Reader.  MOURNING.  Honestly, I love having a centralized location for all of my favorite blogs.  It is like my own customized newspaper delivered each morning.  I’ve been using Google Reader since about 2007, and in that time I’ve amassed an enormous collection of favorites.  Whenever I find something I want to remember or be able to go back and read, I Tweet it out and then immediately favorite it.  I can’t tell you how often I go to my Reader when I’m remembering something great that I favorited that I want to revisit or share.  Daily.

Google Reader is closing the door on July 1st.  I’ve been trying to pretend that this day isn’t coming.  Denial won’t stop it.  Today I decided to settle in and start going through my favorites to save them to my Pinterest boards.  I’ve found some great alternatives for Google Reader, but I have yet to find one that transfers both current RSS feeds and favorites.  I talked to Feedly on Twitter and they said that they are working on it.  I haven’t seen this feature added yet.  Not willing to lose all of those favorites, I’m going through the painstaking process of saving them elsewhere.  On the upside: I’m being reminded of the brilliance I’m surrounded by online.

If you are looking for a replacement RSS feed reader (say for your favorite blog…*ahem*) here are some great alternatives.

1. The Old Reader is in beta, it was built to be a replacement for Google Reader.  It looks a whole lot like the Google Reader you know and love.  For those super geeks (own it!) you can even use the same keyboard shortcuts.  This option is free but is currently browser-based only…no mobile apps yet.  Alas, that is where I do the majority of my reading.

2. Feedly is a good RSS reader alternative.  In addition to collecting your RSS feeds for you, it has a news suggestion algorithm that will suggest other articles that you will probably find interesting.  Great unless you have a reader like I do…then it becomes an endless rabbit hole that is hard to walk away from.  Feedly also has a great social aspect that makes it easy to share with friends and post to social networks.  With Feedly you can choose what type of layout you prefer. You can easily transfer all of your current subscriptions from Google Reader to Feedly.  Feedly comes as browser extension and mobile app.

3.  News Blur is similar to Google Reader, you can share articles, save for future reading, star them or start your own daily “burblog” of news stories that you want to share with others.  It comes in mobile app format.  Now the bad news: free accounts are capped at 64 blogs and 10 stories at a time (this would never do for me). Premium users pay $24 a year to subscribe to as many sites as they want.  The worse news: currently they aren’t allowing free users to sign up.  Dang. It.

4. Pulse lets you keep up on the blogs that you subscribe to, but it primarily recommends stories it thinks you will enjoy.  Pulse looks a little more like Feedly and will also let you import your Google Reader feed (mobile version only).  Articles can be saved, shared, browsed, sorted by category.

5. NetVibes is a RSS reader and a social aggregation service.  Basic accounts are free which will do what you need to follow your feeds.  You can add widgets like weather, Twitter, and top news stories to your NetVibe dashboard.  The bad news: there aren’t any mobile apps.

6. Feed Demon is not only an RSS reader, it also lets you set up keywords to be alerted about.  If a keyword appears in a feed (whether you subscribe to it or not) it will apear in your feed.  It also lets you subscribe to podcasts, it automatically stores them in a directory and makes it easy to save them to a mobile device.

7. Flipboard recommends feeds but also lets you subscribe to RSS feeds.  The layout is beautiful and looks like a magazine.  You can also add your social networks including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  It brings your online life together in one place.  Favorites can be saved. Flipboard is available for the iPad, iPhone, Android, Kindle Fire and Nook.

8. Feedbin makes it easy to subscribe to new feeds by domain or by feed url. You can import your current feeds using the OPML import feature.  You can organize all of your feeds by Tags. Just like Google Reader, Feedbin has great keyboard shortcuts that will help you get through your news efficiently.  Feedbin is not free, it currently costs $2/month.  The biggest benefit (and the reason this will most likely be my choice) you can connect Feedbin to the Reeder app!!  I currently use the Reeder app to read my Google Reader feeds.  I absolutely LOVE Reeder, It is such a beautiful way to read, save, share, etc. all of my RSS feeds.  Reeder is still working out a solution for July 1st.  In the mean time, it is available for free in the iTunes app store and you can connect it to Feedbin.  Reeder is working out the ability to connect it to other readers as well.

RSS feeds are a great way to bring professional development to your fingertips ever day.  Don’t let the demise of Google Reader stop you from learning!

Evernote as an ePortfolio: Postach.io, Voice2Note, StudyBlue

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Classroom Management, Create, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 11-06-2013

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1

You know what no one tells you about starting a school?  That ending a school year is WAY more work than starting a school year.  Also, no one warned me that I would be licking cheap envelopes while everyone else was enjoying the freedom of summer.  We have just wrapped up our second year of Anastasis Academy.    I’m not sure what it is about heading into year 3, but it feels substantial and important.  Odd numbers are like that I guess.  This feels like the year that all of those nagging things that we wish we had time to tweak are going to happen.  Like we have a great groove to work from and now anything is possible. (This could also be the optimism that comes with every summer when schedules are a little looser and there is more time to dream).

I digress… this post is about Evernote and some neat new add-on apps I’ve been playing with.  At Anastasis, we use Evernote as our digital portfolio.  For the most part, this works brilliantly!  Students can record text, images, and audio directly into Evernote.  Notes can be shared and emailed to teachers and parents alike.  Evernote makes it easy to capture learning that isn’t natively digital in their eportfolio.  Snap a picture or create a short audio recording directly in Evernote and the learning is captured, searchable and sharable.  All of the incredible projects that our students create during inquiry can be reflected in Evernote portfolios.   Another HUGE benefit to the Evernote/iPad combo: it goes with them everywhere.  Recording learning on a field trip? Check. Recording learning at home? Check. Recording learning on the fly? Check. Teachers often send students a PDF instructions for an assignment or a picture to the student’s Evernote account. Parents can login to their child’s Evernote account from any computer or iDevice to see what they are working on.  Not only is learning captured on the device, but it is stored in the cloud.  This means that if a student iPad gets lost, damaged, etc. their work isn’t gone.

Postach.io

Screen Shot 2013-06-11 at 4.11.10 PM

Postach.io is quickly becoming my new BFF.  You see, we had this truly convoluted way of getting student work from Evernote portfolios to an edublog or an edu 2.0 blog.  It worked smoothly about 1% of the time.  BUT, we want kids to be able to “publish” their work for the larger community (Anastasis community and the wider education community).  Postach.io is the answer to our frustrations!!  Here is how it works: Create a pistachio account, click “create site”, authenticate your Evernote account, choose an Evernote notebook subdomain… finished!  Postach.io creates blog posts and pages from student notes in Evernote. All the student needs to do is create a note in a Notebook they’ve specified when creating a site. Postach.io then converts those notes to published posts and pages.  Add “published” or “page” to the tags in Evernote to publish it to the Postach.io blog.  So, now our students can quickly edit their notes to be post worthy, add a little tag, and voila! they have a blog post.  Currently Postach.io uses Disqus to add threaded comments.  (This is a secondary account for your students to create.)

Voice2Note

Screen Shot 2013-06-11 at 4.21.15 PM

Voice2Note is a fantastic way for students to turn their Evernote voice notes into text.  Students record their voice (just like they normally do in Evernote), Voice2Note takes that note and converts it into text.  Students can even tag their notes by saying “Tag with” at the end of their note!  Now students can search even their voice notes!  To use Voice2Note, students need to login to the Voice2Note website to register and connect their Evernote account.  Then, students just record their voice note as they normally would.  The rest gets taken care of by Voice2Note.  This is another app that is going to make some of our students HAPPY!! Many students have fantastic ideas but struggle with getting their ideas out in writing. Voice2Note means that they can say their ideas, have them transcribed into text directly in Evernote, and edit from there.  Not only is this ideal for struggling writers, it is also helpful for emerging writers who may have a large spoken vocabulary, but their writing is limited by what they know how to spell.  Voice2Note could also be really helpful as a pre-writing brainstorming activity, during the design thinking process, or during group discussions.  Previously our students were copying/pasting from Dragon Dictation…not a huge problem, but those extra minutes count!

StudyBlue

Screen Shot 2013-06-11 at 4.33.05 PM

A connection with a StudyBlue account means that students can turn their Evernote notes into digital flashcards they can study from. Study Blue makes it simple for students to turn their Evernote notes into study guides, digital flashcards, and quizzes.  Students can even set up study reminders. When students create an account with StudyBlue, they have the option to Sync with their Evernote account.  The integration will create a new notebook in Evernote called “Study Blue.” If students wish to, they can upgrade their account to StudyBlue+ which will allow them to share their study guides and flashcards, merge with other teachers and students.  StudyBlue gives students more efficiency in their school lives.  They can easily maximize their time by taking notes in Evernote (or recording voice notes and using Voice2Note to make them text) and seamlessly creating study materials with StudyBlue. Students can download the StudyBlue app to their device or log on via web browser.

***Please note that while we use iPads for our Evernote eportfolios, it isn’t necessary!  Any device that has a web browser will work (even that dusty old desktop in the corner of your classroom) and all of the add-on’s mentioned above will work with or without an iPad.

We use lots of other apps that enhance our Evernote portfolio experience because of their integration with Evernote.  Click here for a guide I made last year with some of our favorites!

 

The Nerdy Cast Episode 7: @thenerdyteacher AND @ktenkely = epic.

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy | Posted on 05-10-2012

Tags: , , , , , ,

0

On Tuesday I had the distinct honor of chatting with @thenerdyteacher on The Nerdy Cast.  Nick and I have been buds for years, working on various projects together, talking education and pop culture.  You can listen to our whole Nerdy Cast chat which includes our humble adventures in blogging, starting Project PLN , starting a school and my newest project, The Learning Genome.

Thank you Nick!

 

If you want to be a part of The Learning Genome, be sure to check out the campaign here.

Class Blogs: Blogging, virtual classroom, LMS, and more!

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Blogs, Classroom Management, collaboration, Create, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Web2.0 | Posted on 28-03-2011

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

6

What it is: Class Blogs is a fabulous new way for you to easily create and manage FREE classroom blogs!  What makes Class Blogs so wonderful are all the extras that are built in.  For example, with Class Blogs you can create a virtual classroom space.  With just a few simple steps, you can create an online meeting space for your students to learn and discuss in.  Blogs can be used to post assignments; when you post an assignment to your teacher blog, students can submit the assignment and a pingback will be sent to your blog.  Class Blogs even has features that utilize SMS so that you can send a text message to students and the ability to host lesson plans complete with supporting resources!  Class blogs really offers more than just a blogging platform, it offers many Learning Management System (LMS) solutions making it a great all-in-one tool!  Here are just a few of the ways you can use Class Blogs:

  • Class Blogs – Teachers and students can create blogs to help facilitate classroom learning or the blog can be an extension of the classroom conversation.
  • Learning Logs – Learning logs are sites created by teachers for the purpose of creating online assignments for students. Students can then answer the questions and submit the assignments once they are completed.
  • Learning Management System (LMS) – Teachers can create a blog and use it as a learning management system. Teachers can post online courses and students can submit their assignments (through blog posts) for the course online as well. These assignments can be viewed by the instructor, the instructor can submit feedback, and the instructor can grade the student’s assignment online. Both the teacher and his/her students must have blogs in order to create a successful LMS.
  • Electronic Portfolio (E-Portfolio) – An e-portfolio is a valuable learning and assessment tool which includes but is not limited to a collection of resources and accomplishments that represent the individual. Moreover, it is the author’s personal reflection on the work included in the e-portfolio that creates a meaningful learning experience.
  • Web Conferencing/Virtual Classroom – Teachers/professors have the ability to create meeting rooms or virtual classrooms from the backend of their site. You can upload your presentations, chat with students, public/private chat, webcam, and even share your desktop.

How to integrate Class Blogs into the classroom: Class Blogs has features that make it wonderfully useful for any classroom.  Blogging gives your students a place to write where they have an authentic audience.  An audience of one (the teacher) is SO 1995.  To limit your students to that audience is a disservice.  I find that when my students write in blog form, the enthusiasm to write increases, the richness of language increases, and the ideas are communicated clearly.  Obviously that is a bit of a generalization, I have also had students who don’t want to post for an audience, it makes them nervous to reveal themselves to their classmates in that way.  I let those students blog about topics they are “experts” on as they are building confidence in their learning process.   Students can blog to reflect on learning; write creatively; write as if they were a historical character, famous inventor, or a favorite literary figure; to chronicle learning (e-portfolio style); or to invite others on a journey of inquiry with them.

Using this type of social media in the classroom is important. It helps students learn digital citizenship, Internet safety, and netiquette in an authentic environment that goes beyond the rules and actually lets them practice it.

The additional features of Class Blog make it the perfect place to organize your classroom.  Post assignments in Class Blogs as a learning log, as students respond, your original post will get a pingback making it easy to track students progress. Class Blog also makes it easy to extend learning beyond the four walls of your classroom using the virtual classroom features.  Create meeting rooms to extend classroom discussions, offer additional learning support, or as a place to prepare students for learning.  Class Blogs makes it easy to include podcasts, videos, webcams, private chat areas, desktop sharing in your virtual classroom.

Tips: Class Blogs does not have an age requirement, this means that it is available to k-12 (and beyond) education.  Registration does require an email address.  If your students do not have email addresses, you can create accounts on their behalf.  With Class Blogs you can create unlimited class and student blogs, unlimited free classes/courses, and unlimited free virtual classrooms.  Be sure to check out the feature page for a comprehensive list of the awesome features on Class Blogs, you won’t believe what all is included!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using the Class Blogs in your classroom!

 

28 Tech Tools to Bring out the Story in History

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Create, Evaluate, History, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 03-12-2010

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4

Below is an article I wrote for theapple.com.  For the full article complete with links, please visit the original article.

Kelly Tenkely | TheApple

When I was in school, I dreaded history.  I found it completely uninteresting, dry, irrelevant, and quite frankly…boring.  This was unusual for me.  Normally, I really enjoyed school.  Creative writing, language arts, science, and even math were fun.  History was unbearable.

I can count on one hand the things I remember learning in history.   I learned that in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue,  that there was once a thing called slavery and it was abolished (I saw Roots in school at least 5 times), that there have been several wars and battles, and I remember my freshman history teacher breaking out in “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” (though I can’t say why).   For me history was a lot of dates, strange names, places, and events presented as points on a line.  The goal of history was to memorize all of these facts and dates, recite them on a test, and repeat the process the following week. Sadly, that was about it.  It wasn’t until adulthood, and my introduction to the History Channel, that I realized that history is interesting.  History became engaging when it was presented as a story.  It really isn’t about all of the dates, places, and facts.  History is about people.  History is about story.  Students need more than the loosely connected events, people, and dates that fill history textbooks.  They need narrative. Textbook writers are boring, history is not.  In high school I vividly remember reading a first person account of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the horrors of nuclear war.  Why does this account stay with me? Because it wasn’t about the dates. It was about the emotions, the aftermath, the effects on human life.

How can we engage our students with history?  How can we help them make personal connections to the events of the past?

Access to history has expanded, students today have learning opportunities that have never been possible before.  Today students have the ability to view and read historical documents first hand, ‘interact’ with historical characters, and observe the events of the past through the eyes of the children who lived it.    Thanks to technology, students can be truly engaged in the stories of history.

Primary resources are the actual documents, artifacts, and writings from history.  These resources give students an up-close view of life in the past.

Primary Resources:

1.  The World Digital Library is a collection of primary materials from around the world.  Students can explore artifacts that will help them to better understand other cultures.  This incredible collection of resources brings museums from around the world into your classroom for your students to explore.

2. Awesome Stories is a collection of primary source materials separated by category.  Primary sources include images, videos, narration, slideshows, artifacts, manuscripts, and documents.  Awesome Stories is essentially an interactive textbook.  With the interactive textbook model, students are able to delve deeper into topics that interest them.

3. Picturing America takes hold of the notion that a picture is worth a thousand words and applies it to teaching American history.  The National Endowment for the Humanities is providing classrooms and libraries with American art masterpieces. Bringing our Nation’s artistic heritage into the classroom provides students with unique insights into the character, ideals, and aspirations of our country.  The program is free for schools and libraries, providing them with 40 high quality, poster-sized masterpieces, a teacher resource book, and the program website.  Picturing America  brings history into the classroom, helping students create authentic connections to the past.

4.  Primary Access is a web-based tool that offers students and teachers simple access to digital images and materials that provides them the opportunity to create personal narratives.  The idea behind the site is that if students are offered primary source documents, they develop better historical thinking skills.  Students use Primary Access to create digital historical narrative movies that help add to meaningful learning experiences.  The digital movie is 1-3 minutes in length and can contain images, text, movies, and student recorded narration.  Students have a place to write, research, narrate, view, and search within Primary Access.

5. Library of Congress on Flickr is a photostream of historical images on Flickr.  These incredible photographs will bring history to life for your students.  Many of the photographs have no copyright restrictions which makes it a great place for students to find images for projects that they are working on.  These are also great images to use in your classroom presentations, and as printouts for bulletin boards.

Videos have the unique ability to make students feel as if they are witnesses to history.

Historical Videos:

6. The History Channel has a wealth of resources to teach history in the classroom.  From online historical videos, to a daily dose of history with “This Day in History”, the History Channel brings history to life.

7. American History in Video has more than 5,000 free, digital, on-demand videos in its collection.  The videos allow students to analyze historical events, look at events over time through commercial and governmental newsreels, archival footage, public affairs footage, and important documentaries.  These videos will make students feel as if they were a part of history.

8.  Watch Know is another educational video site.  All videos are offered digitally for free.  Watch Know brings together the best education videos online into one convenient-to-search, safe site.  Students can interact and think critically about the videos by rating them and leaving comments.  There are more than 2,500 history related videos on Watch Know.

There are many websites that let students interact with history.  Whether they are playing a game or exploring a virtual world, these websites help students understand history in new ways.

Interacting with History:

9. Secret Builders Students ages 6-14 can live and play among fictional and historical characters in this virtual world.  Students interact with characters such as Shakespeare, Galileo, Motzart, Oliver Twist, Plato, Van Gough, and Amelia Earhart.  Students take quests, publish artwork and writings, play games, enter contests, and participate in a virtual economy and social life.  Students are given all the tools needed to build out the virtual world with their own ideas, activities and actions.  This virtual world has the added benefit of allowing students to interact with historical figures in ways that are meaningful to them.

10. Scholastic has an email sign up where teachers and students can receive fictional emails from historical figures.  These emails are written as letters from children who live in the past.  Get email letters from a young girl traveling on the Mayflower and a young Native American boy.  This is a fantastic way to give your class a glimpse of history through the eyes of two school-age children.

11. Scholastic’s “Our America” takes students on a journey through American history from the Colonial period to World War II.  Students learn about major events in the American story by reading journal entries from the people who lived them.  Students can complete their own journal entries about what they have learned.  Activities accompany each time period such as arts and crafts from that time period or designing a period home interior.

12. The Oregon Trail game is one of the memories I should have listed above.  I remember playing Oregon Trail in small groups on our classroom computer in fifth grade.  Through the game we learned about the hardships of being a wagon leader, how to build a team, and purchase supplies that would help us make the journey from Independence, Missouri to Oregon by way of the covered wagon circa 1848. This role playing game helps students connect to events of the past through play.

13. BBC Primary History has an extensive collection of activities, short readings, and a kids point of view on the Ancient Greeks, Romans, Vikings, Anglo Saxons, World War II, and Victorian Britain.  Students can explore interactive timelines, stories, primary source images, and much more.  Students gain a sense of what life was like during each time period.

14. Picturing the Thirties is a virtual web activity from the Smithsonian.  This virtual museum exhibit teaches students about the 1930’s through eight exhibitions.  Students will get an up close look at the Great Depression, the New Deal, the country, industry, labor, city, leisure, and the American people in the 1930’s.  The virtual museum is full of primary sources such as photographs, newsreels, and artist memorabilia.  Virtual video museum guides explain each exhibit to students.

15. The Secret in the Cellar is an interactive web comic that is based on an actual forensic case of a 17th century person that was recently discovered.  Through graphics, photos, and activities, students begin to unravel a mystery of historical and scientific importance.  Students learn how to analyze artifacts, and examine the skeleton to determine a cause of death.  As students act as historians, they will gain a wealth of information about Colonial life in America.

16.  Kids Past is a history website created for kids that covers topics including: prehistoric humans, the rise of civilization, Middle Eastern civilization, the Ancient Greeks, Romans, African civilizations, civilizations of India, civilizations of China, Byzantine empire, the Slavs, Islam, medieval Europe, Asia in the middle ages, ancient Americans, the Renaissance, the Reformation, exploration and expansion, Asia following the middle ages, the American Revolution, and the French Revolution.  All reading on Kids Past is kid friendly and age appropriate.  There are several history games based on the reading.  Students can also find historical quotes and songs about history that they can listen to online.

17. Historical Tweets- Students can follow history on Twitter.  With Historical Tweets, history’s most amazing men and women can be more fully understood 140 characters at a time.  These historical tweets can act as motivation for students to learn more about historical events.  140 characters is just enough to leave your students wanting to learn more.

Static timelines are a thing of the past, today’s timelines are interactive, informative, and fun to explore.

Interactive Timelines:

18. Franklin’s Interactive Timeline is an engaging look into the life of Benjamin Franklin.  Students can play, listen, watch, observe, and have fun learning about Benjamin Franklin’s legacy.  Students can explore Franklin’s life through themes such as Franklin’s character, Franklin as printer, at home, doing good, and on the world stage. This site breaks Franklin’s life down into manageable pieces for students and provides a well rounded view of Franklin.

19. Capzles is an interactive timeline creator.  Students can add photos, video, audio and text to their timeline.  Themes, colors, backgrounds, and background music can be added to the timeline making it unique and personalized.  Capzles brings the timeline to life and allows students to add story to the dates.

20. Dipity makes it simple for your students to create and share interactive timelines.  Students can embed YouTube videos, Twitter, RSS feeds, Blogger, Flickr, Picasa, Last FM, and more right into their timelines.  Dipity makes timelines relevant and fun for students.  Best of all, students are creating and viewing timelines in “their language” of Digital Native.

21. Time Tube is the perfect website for your YouTube addicted students.  Students can type in a historical event and Time Tube will create a timeline of related videos.  Students will be able to explore historical events through related videos.

Research papers leave much to be desired in the history classroom.  There are ways for students to show what they know in history without the dreaded research report.

Creating with History:

22. Domonation is an animation website where students can create cartoon animations with characters, dialogue, props, music, and special effects.  Instead of presenting knowledge about history through the traditional report, diorama, or poster, students can create a cartoon of an interview with a historical figure or an eye-witness account of a historical event.

23. Xtranormal is a site where students can create and direct their own animated movies.  Students can recreate historical events, or create cartoons about a historical figure.  Hold a historical movie day to showcase all of the animations that students have created.

24. The National Archives Experience: Digital Vaults is a site put together by the National Archives.  Students can create their own digital content mashups using primary resources.  Students are able to search photographs, documents, and other records collecting them to create a digital poster or movie.  Students can also create a Pathway Challenge.  In a challenge, students create a series of clues that show relationships between photographs, documents, and other records.  Other students can attempt to solve these challenges.  This is an incredible way for students to interact with history.

25. Creaza is a suite of web-based creativity tools.  There are four tools in the Creaza toolbox that will help your students organize knowledge and tell stories in new creative ways.  Students can arrange events in history with Mindomo the mind mapping tool.  Using Cartoonist, students can create comic strips and digital narratives about historical events or characters.  Movie Editor makes it possible for students to create movies with thematic universes, video, images, and sound clips.  Movie Editor can import historical film clips, sound clips, and images to tell a story.  Audio editor is the final tool in Creaza’s creative suite.  Students can splice together their own newscasts or radio commercials that display their knowledge of any historical event.

26. Animoto for Education is a site where students can create compelling and impressive digital content quickly and easily.  Teachers can use Animoto to teach complex concepts in history.  Students can showcase their understanding of history through pictures, music, and text.

27. Blogging- Assign each of your students a historical character to play.  They can research and learn about the time period, events, and people.  Students can then blog as if they were the historical character.  Other students can read and comment on the historical posts.

28. Museum Box is a website based on the work of Thomas Clarkson who collected items in a box to help him in his argument for the abolition of slavery.  Students can use the Museum Box website to collect information and arguments in a virtual  box of their own.  They can collect items to provide a description or add to an argument of a historical event, place, or time period.  Students can add images, text, sounds, videos, and external links to help them form their own virtual museum.  The finished box can be shared with other students, saved, or printed.  Students can view and comment on boxes created by other students.  This is a fun medium for students to learn and collect information about a historical event, person, or time period.

History shouldn’t be dry, boring, or irrelevant to students.  Technology makes it possible for students to interact with history in new and interesting ways.  Use these resources to take your students beyond facts and help them to realize the stories that make up their past.

Friday Recap

Posted by admin | Posted in Blogs, Friday Recap, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary | Posted on 13-08-2010

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1

Happy Friday everyone! In case you missed it, here is what I was up to this week outside of iLearn Technology.  Have a perfectly wonderful weekend :)

  • Redefining Cheating- this post created a lot of discussion and controversy this week on my Dreams of Education Blog.
  • Why I Love Worksheets- this was a follow-up post I wrote to the Redefining Cheating post on Dreams of Education.
  • Flipboard- a review of how to use the Flipboard app in the classroom on my iPad Curriculum blog.
  • ARIS- a review of an Augmented Reality and Interactive Storytelling application…probably the best application I have seen for education to date!  Check out the review on my iPad Curriculum blog.
  • This week I created an Edublogger Alliance social network.  Join us if you are a blogging educator!
  • On Blogging- a blog post I wrote on the Edublogger Alliance social network about blogging.
  • Still no word on funding for my iPad project.  I would still appreciate your votes in the Kohls Cares $500,000 give away.  Click this link and vote for Cherry Hills Christian.

Thank you all for your comments, tweets, retweets, and support this week!

Critical Past

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Evaluate, Geography, Government, History, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 10-08-2010

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

14

What it is: Critical Past is a website I learned about today from Tom Boito’s great blog EDge 21 in his Catch of the Day.  The resource is too good not to share again here!  Critical Past is a collection of more than 57,000 historical videos and more than 7 million historical photos.  All of the photos and videos are royalty free, archival stock footage.  Most of the footage comes from U.S. Government Agency sources.  All of the videos and photos can be viewed for free online and shared with others via url, Twitter, or Facebook.  The videos and photos are also available to purchase for download.

How to integrate Critical Past into your curriculum: Critical Past is an incredible collection of historical videos and pictures.  The site is easy to search either by decade and topic or keyword.  The clips and photos on Critical Past will bring historical events alive for your students.  Use photos or videos on Critical Past to help illustrate what students are learning in history.  Ask students to be “eyewitnesses” of history and watch a video before they have context for it.  Students can write or blog about what they think they are witnessing, afterward they can research the event more in-depth and write a follow-up reflection on what was actually happening in the clip.

** Check out this awesome lesson that @pharesr created based on this post. So cool!

Tips: Along the right side bar of Critical Past, you will find “related videos.”  Students can watch a clip and the related videos and reflect on how the clips are related.  Sometimes it is a similar time period, sometimes a related event, other times it is a related location.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Critical Past in your classroom!

How to make iLearn Technology work for you

Posted by admin | Posted in General | Posted on 06-07-2010

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

18

iLearn Technology is coming up on birthday number 4!!  It is hard to remember a time when I didn’t blog, the 4 year journey has been amazing!  I have grown as a teacher, a user of technology, and (I hope) as a blogger.  As I reflected on iLearn Technology, I couldn’t help but remember my first steps into the blogging world.  It was the summer of 2007 and I had been teaching in the computer lab for 2 years.  At the time, I spent my summers searching the web for resources I could use in my classroom.  When I stumbled on gems I wondered why no one had collected all of the great education resources in one place.  I kept a notebook of the sites I was finding and would jot down a few words (which I later realized were tags) to help me remember what the website looked like and did.  I would also write any thoughts that I had about how I could use the site with students.  Every once in a while I would stumble on a collection of education resources for the classroom, but I was disappointed by them.  Most were just lists of website links, there was no information that indicated what kind of site it was or how it could be used.  It frustrated me that I had to click on each and every link to find out if it was worthwhile for my classroom or not.  I was quickly becoming a website snob and when I came upon a website of link lists, I would quickly move on.  It was too time consuming to sort through 100 website urls for the chance that I might find something worth keeping.

About this time, the iPhone had just emerged on the scene.  My husband bought one and promptly jail broke it so that he could stay on T-mobile network.  As he searched around the net for iPhone hacks and tips, he came across this little video from @ijustine.  Her AT&T phone bill unveiling.

My husband sent me the video with a link to her blog and said “You should start a blog”.  I quickly shot back something snarky like: “oh yeah, what would I blog about my Nokia?”  Lucky for me, he ignored my snarky comment and told me to start an education blog where I reviewed all of the sites I was finding for my classroom.  I wasn’t sure how I could keep a blog going through the school year or how I would find enough material to keep it current, but it was July and I decided to give it a go.  You have to understand, when I started iLearn Technology, I had NO idea what blogging was really all about.  I didn’t really understand how it was different from a website (other than being updated more often) and I am pretty sure the term RSS was foreign to me.  I started it anyway thinking if nothing else, it would be a good place for me to keep track of what I was finding and would be more easily searchable than my spiral notebook.  I didn’t really expect that anyone would read my blog.  I didn’t really expect to get a following of any kind.  Thus began the journey of iLearn Technology.

Looking back over the past 4 years, I am still baffled that I find time to post every day.  I am still dumbstruck that you all read my blog and come back for more.  I am still amazed that I continue to find resources that are worthy of posts (I decided when I started iLearn Technology, if it didn’t pass the test of my students enjoying it, there would not be a blog post about it).  Each year I get a little nostalgic in July and look through my old posts.  I remember what projects I have done with students, make note of the sites that my students still beg for, and look forward to new finds.  I also try to find something that I can improve on.  This year I decided that I needed to make the resources I post about easier to search.  In my sidebar, you will see a category list with several drop-down menus.  I have categorized all of my posts by grade, subject, and resource type.  The new category search lets you search within multiple categories at once.  You can choose a grade level, a subject, and a resource (or just choose one or two categories to search).  This should make it easier to find resources that fit your classroom needs.  My hope is that iLearn Technology can be your one stop shop for finding the very best student-tested resources for your classroom.

I realize that not all of you have been with me from the beginning of this journey, I thank you for joining me when you did and for sticking with me as I continue to learn and grow!  Most of the tools I have posted about I still use every year.  They are outstanding resources! I don’t expect you to go back through each and every post on the off chance that you will find something that fits your needs, but hopefully the new multiple category search will encourage you to go through some previous posts that you may have missed to find just the right activities for the next school year.  As seems to be the case with technology, not all resources have stood the test of time.  Some sites have shut down, others are no longer free resources.  I am working on amending these posts accordingly but if you come across a site that is no more, leave me a comment and let me know about it.  I can offer some alternative resource suggestions and update the post to indicate the changes.

Try out the multiple category search and let me know what you think! You don’t have to make a selection from every category, just choose the options that best fit what you are searching for.

Venture into Student Blogging Risk Free!

Posted by admin | Posted in Blogs, Character Education, collaboration, Language Arts, Middle/High School, professional development, Teacher Resources, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 29-04-2010

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

3

My edublogger alliance friend Christopher Rogers at EdTech Swami has made an incredible offer:

rent-300x219

“If you have students interested in blogging but for what­ever reason have not set one up, or perhaps the prospect of administering a student blog seemed over whelming I have a deal for you. I already have a blog set up and running. I have quit a bit of experi­ence blogging personally and with students. I have hard core spam protection set up. I will administer, moderate and commentate on the posts. If you have students interested in blogging they are welcome to join my students (who are desperate for other writers to interact with). Registration is open. All high school students are welcome. Just direct your browser to this address and click register. http://www.rogersenglish9.com/studentvoice

If you have high school students who are interested in blogging, but you aren’t ready or can’t go there on you own, take Christopher up on this incredibly generous offer.  Give your students access to an incredible teacher and resource for growth in writing and higher-order thinking.

Do you-want to form an alliance-with me?

Posted by admin | Posted in professional development, Teacher Resources, Web2.0 | Posted on 03-01-2010

Tags: , , , , ,

52

Happy new year!  2009 proved to be a productive year of learning, sharing, and conversing.  I thank you all for being a part of that and look forward to doing it again in 2010!

Picture 5(iLearn Technology’s blog graph)

A few days ago I came across a blog post on Problogger titled “Let me Show You Inside a Secret Blogging Alliance.” The idea of an alliance between bloggers intrigued me.  To fully understand why I was so intrigued by the idea of an alliance, let me give you a little background about the slow beginning of iLearn Technology, and an article that made me angry enough to long for change.

The Beginning…

My degree is not in educational technology.  I started my teaching career as a second grade teacher.  I had two old computers (circa 1997) in my classroom and had stumbled on Starfall, Book Adventure, and Read Write Think.org.  We had no computer lab in our building, so I used these sites as center activities during my literacy block.  My students asked to use these sites constantly, loving when it was their day for the computer centers.

It was completely by accident that I became a computer teacher the following year.  I was looking for a change in schools and had applied to CHC for one of their classroom teacher positions.  I got a call from our office assistant informing me that both classroom teacher positions had been filled quickly.  She followed with, “I know this is a long shot, but we need a computer teacher to teach kindergarten through second grade. I noticed that you have used computers with students and wondered if you might be interested?”  My first thought was “no way, I can’t do it. I’m not qualified.”  What I told her was that I would think about it and get back to her.  I called my husband to tell him about this ridiculous job I had just been offered. He didn’t seem to think it was so ridiculous.   We were newly married and could use the money, even if it was only part time.  It was getting late in the year to be hired as a classroom teacher.  I wasn’t looking forward to the subbing circuit.  My attitude about the ridiculous job offer began to change.  “Maybe I can do this. It is only part time, I can used my days off to do research, surely I know more about computers than a second grader.”  I called the office assistant the next day to tell her I would take the job.

My hunt for lesson plans and websites was on.   I started a notebook (the paper kind) where I would jot down site addresses that I found, along with a few sentences about the site and ideas I had for using it in the classroom.  I barely made it through that first year, always staying just two steps ahead of my students.  It was in my second year that I started my first website.  I used FrontPage to create pages of links that were easily organized for students to access.  (I was tired of adding every new site I found to the bookmark bar of each computer.)  My notebook of web addresses had turned into three and I started using iKeepBookmarks to organize all of the sites I had found.  At the beginning of my computer lab teaching career, it was nearly impossible to hunt down a list of good educational links.  I was finding amazing websites but couldn’t find any one person who had collected, organized, and shared them all in one place.

I woke up one morning with an email from my husband (@jtenkely) in my inbox.  A single sentence stared back at me, “You should start a blog about technology in education.” Attached was a link to Tasty Blog Snack by @ijustine (not an education blog).  Although what @ijustine does is not easy, she made it look easy, it was just the push I needed to start blogging.  I would be the one to collect, organize, and share education links in one place.  But I didn’t want it to just be a list of links…I had found pages of links with no explanation as to what they were.  Teachers need it to be easier, they need to be able to see, at a glance, if a site will meet the needs of their students.  They also need an idea of what using the site would actually look like in the classroom setting.  This would be my blog.   I anticipated it being useful for the teachers that I taught alongside, they were my target audience. In my mind, even if they never read it, it would still be a useful way for me to organize my ideas about the websites I was finding.

I had no idea what I was doing.  I would type up a blog post, publish it, and hope that someone, somewhere, was reading it.  I had no way of tracking or finding out if anyone was actually viewing any of my ideas.  I needed some direction and decided to find out if there were any other educators who were blogging (I was naive enough to think I might be the first one!).  I found TechnoSpud (now Jenuine Tech) by @jenwagner and 2Cents Worth by @davidwarlick.  They were big.  They were well known.  I was nobody.  I started finding other educators who blogged through the blog rolls on TechnoSpud and 2Cents Worth.  I have never felt so small.  Here were a group of educators who “knew” each other and had debates and conversations about education on a regular basis.  I tried to join in the conversation but got discouraged when my comments weren’t responded to.

iLearn Technology exists today for one reason: I am stubborn.  I believed that I was doing something worthwhile and decided that I didn’t care if no one seemed to notice.  Blogging did something else for me, it made me a better teacher.  I understood the learning process better because I was engaged in it on a daily basis.  Even though I didn’t consider myself “one of them” I started reading other education blogs religiously.  I would occasionally engage in the conversation but for the most part I was happy to sit on the sidelines and watch.

It was around this time that I started Tweeting (@ijustine was Tweeting, I should too).  I had NO idea that educators were Twittering.  I was there to keep up with @jtenkely‘s funny observations, keep track of @iJustine, and keep a watch out for new Apple products that were coming.   I started following @davidwarlick and @jenwagner and a few other edubloggers that I was reading.  I can’t pinpoint when it happened, but suddenly I was getting comments on iLearn Technology, I had regular readers, I was getting emails asking for advice, I was involved in the conversation.  I was a real blogger.

It isn’t easy to become a blogger, there is a habit that needs to be formed, a commitment to stick with. It is really hard when you are the newb, the nobody.  It is hard to keep that commitment when you are painfully aware that you are the sole reader of your writing.  @janwebb21 reminded me of this as she told me about her own blog.  She has been at it for about a month, has had a few visitors and a comment or two. But it is a slow process. I would have given anything for the PLN, ideas, and resources I have now when I started teaching.

And Now For Something Completely Different…

Since joining Twitter, I have enjoyed conversations with people from all walks of life.  I have been introduced to new ideas, resources, and have been forced to think in new ways.  I have developed a PLN (Personal Learning Network) and have engaged in numerous discussions about education, technology, and learning.  I have been surrounded by greatness and others who are passionate about learning and teaching others to do the same.  I have become convinced that those educators that I connect with virtually are among the smartest, most innovative people on the planet.

On Friday I clicked on a link that someone shared on Twitter, it was a story about the use of iPods in Education (I always want to read more when Apple products are mentioned in the same sentence as education, my inner geek comes pouring out.)  The article was okay, basically just a short story about how a school is using the iPod Touch in education.  What stopped me in my tracks were the comments left in response to the article.  Most were negative comments about the state of education and what a waste of money iPods are for the classroom.  The comment that really made my blood boil was, “Teachers get to press the learn button, kick back, and think about their next week long vacation.”  It became increasingly clear to me that the general public has NO idea what we as educators do.  We are not seen as professionals.  We are viewed as babysitters with a cushy job.  My knee jerk reaction was to respond to each and every one of these misinformed individuals and inform them.  Instead I posted the following on Twitter, knowing that you all would be equally enraged by the comments: “Getting all fired up reading the comments after this article http://bit.ly/51RJsk general public doesn’t understand education even a little.” The comments regarding education made me want to stand up and shout about the brilliance that is my PLN.  I wanted the misinformed to understand just how misinformed they are.  I kept thinking of how different education could look if we were louder.

The Alliance…

After reading the alliance article an idea began to take shape.  What if we, educational bloggers, were to form an alliance.  No need for the secrecy.  This alliance would be a group of educational bloggers who are committed to working together for the mutual benefit of all the members in the alliance.  We all have something valuable to add to the conversation of education and learning.  Each of us has a unique voice, outlook, approach, skills, strengths, and focuses.

The goal of the alliance is two fold:

1. To encourage educators in their blogging endeavors whether they be new, established, or otherwise.  There are so many valuable additions to the conversation that are being overlooked.

2. To create a united network of educators working toward the larger goal of being heard by those not in education.  It is time for the general public to see us for the highly qualified professionals that we are.

How the Alliance could work…

1. Commenting on each others blogs- in the Problogger article, those in the alliance committed to commenting on each others blogs at least once every week day.  The comments should stimulate interesting discussions, and encourage those involved that someone, is indeed, reading their blog.

2. Linking to One Another- This could be linking to related posts on another educational bloggers website, adding them to your blog roll, or naturally as a result of subscribing to one another’s blogs.

3. Social Bookmarking and Tweeting- This is my personal favorite suggestion, Twitter has done wonders for iLearn Technology as my PLN passes on my posts to others.  Promoting  posts on Twitter, Digg, Delicious, and StumbleUpon increases awareness of what educators around the world are doing that works.  It also connects those new to educational blogging.

4. Guest Posts- Guest posting could be an opt-in option for the alliance.  I know that it isn’t always possible to find time to write a blog post for your blog, let alone polish it enough for someone else’s blog.

5.  Thank You Page Promotions- When someone signs up to receive your RSS feed, they are generally taken to a page thanking them for subscribing.  This Thank You Page could also be used to promote other education blogs.  For example: “If you like iLearn Technology, you should also be sure to check out blog A, B, C, and D.”

Do you-want to form an alliance- with me?

So the question stands, do you want to form an alliance?  If you are interested, leave a comment linking to your blog with your first name (or Twitter username), and a short description of your blog.  Please also fill out this short form so that I can be in contact with you.  Lets make our voices louder through a shared vision and mission, lets encourage each other in our blogging and teaching endeavors, lets make this year a year of real change.

 Subscribe in a reader

Subscribe to iLearn Technology by Email