Thursday, April 23, 2009

I Skype!

the skype payphone project by pt
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License
Mr. Robbo, The P.E. Geek, a colleague in my PLN (professional learning network) recently posted his teaching experiences with Skype. I agree with the basic premise of his post, Why Skype Is the Most Valuable Tool I Use. Yes, Skype is a great tool.

It seems strange, yet people often resist the most obvious and easiest internet path to use, free online tools. In my own case, I came to Skype recently, but it has revolutionized the way I communicate with my Professional Learning Network (PLN). What finally helped me begin to use Skype was encouragement from my peers.

Since my teen, as part of her official, school web applications, uses Skype in her Project Based Learning Activities, we discussed how she and her peers use Skype. Later, I wrote an article, Anticipate and Skype Your Reaction about a few of the many possible educational ways teachers could use Skype in their classrooms.

It seems to me that the increased communication capacities when using audio and video, as well as sharing links and screenshots make Skype one of the best free web applications to improve student access to teachers and their learning.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Winsome Wednesday: PhotoFace Animation

If you have ever animated images, you will recognize Oddcast: PhotoFace as an exceptionally simple tool to use your own images to develop an interactive animation similar to those generated from applications such as Voki. This new web application drew my attention, and I want to thank my PLN colleague, marragem for sharing with our fellow Plurkadians.

What makes Oddcast: PhotoFace different from applications such as Voki is the use of your own image as the base of the animated creation. That is very exciting, as you can also add your own audio.

First, you download a picture, or you can use one provided at the website. Here is a sample of how that works:

Then you follow the step by step procedure to add audio and send your new animation. I hope you enjoy this web application, OddCast: PhotoFace.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Teachers Can't Coast

All through our lives, we are at various stages of interest and commitment to our work and personal lives. When you teach, you must be on target, and there is no room for coasting. This is this issue discussed here in our PLN.

I like the idea that Sharon Elin shared that possibly the "coasting" teacher may need some assistance to get back on track. Sometimes, personal or family illness can put a strain on a teacher's ability to respond in a robust manner to their students.

As I always say, let's check out the antecedents, before we throw the baby out with the bath water. If assistance doesn't help, the "gold-bricking" teachers may need to work somewhere else where they may have better results with this behavior.
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What do we do with goldbrickers and dead wood?

Education is a noble and honorable enterprise — well-meaning, respectable, geared toward progress and success. For all its lofty intentions, though, we have a few glaring problems in education here in America. One of the most pernicious is the dark truth that the profession currently includes too many ineffective, lame, or even neglectful and abusive teachers. They make us all look bad, and, frankly, I’m ready to either clean house and get rid of them or find more assertive methods to remediate their training until they improve.

This is how Sharon Elin starts her blog posting under the heading: The best mirrors.  The article is worth reading in its entirety.  What amazes me is the similarity between America and South Africa on this matter.

The first step to solve the situation is to recognize, and then acknowledge, that we have a problem.  Sharon helps us to do just that. 

I echo that by saying: “Prune out the dead wood.”

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NRICH Your Student's Math Interactions

I have used and shared this website for several years now. Students and teachers can access a variety of math problems and activities that can enrich student's learning.

There are interactive aspects students access here, when they choose a background for their work at the NRICH website.

Try this website and sign up for their monthly newsletter.
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The NRICH Project aims to enrich the mathematical experiences of
all learners. To support this aim, members of the NRICH
work in a wide range of capacities, including providing
professional development for teachers wishing to embed rich
mathematical tasks into everyday classroom practice. More
information on many of our other activities can be found here.
thousands of our free mathematics
enrichment materials (problems, articles and games) for teachers
and learners from ages 5 to 19 years. All the resources are
designed to develop subject knowledge, problem-solving and
mathematical thinking skills. The website is updated with
on the first day of every month.

mathematical theme continues to be Visualising:
We use visualisation almost every time we engage in problem
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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Looking for Pearls

A discussion of what we are missing in our conversations that could encourage a fuller understanding and acceptance of technology in education. Positve and negative comments have bits of truth that are there for us to mine to develop into pearls of wisdom.
Go to the source

It has been a very busy week and it will only intensify from now until the end of June. I’ve been working on several projects and just haven’t had the time to get involved in conversations via twitter or read too many blogs. However, as I was working tonight, I’ve been reading a few as they cross my screen. The following tweet by byjudeonline caught my eye:

The idea brought up by heyjudeonline  is a core part of the whole web2.0/21st century learning discussion . As I work frantically to meet deadlines, get ready for meetings, meet with parents, visit classrooms and all the rest, there isn’t time for me to be on twitter or keep up with the conversations and discussions and I just don’t have the desire to go back too far in the discussions to see if I’m missing anything.
However, to learn and grow, I’ve really looked at what has been said and learned to see the grain of truth that is hidden there.
take it and let what could be an irritant become
a pearl.
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Making Technology Relevant for Education

Using technology in our classes, just because it's out there, just for its own sake is a recipe for disaster. Technology in education is not the one new thing in town, it is the way we expand our teaching and learning. If we don't use it with an eye to relavance and rigor, the use of technology is pointless... This is why I chose this blog post to begin our group clog, the ABCs of PLN Power. Good teachers know how to teach, and good technology should enhance that good teaching through opportunities to expand student learning.
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What’s your point?

I learned a new word this week: sciolism. It’s my new favorite word. Learning about it slapped me in the forehead with a V8 moment, reminding me not to settle for shallow busywork or entertaining (but brainless) activities in my lesson plans.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Winsome Wednesday: Amplify what you are reading

A new web application, Amplify, simplifies a number of learning strategies that anyone can easily use. Amplify makes ordinary notes expand into a marvelous presentation blog format that can include ideas, commments notes, quotations, and images that form a clog. Anyone who enjoys learning and sharing their ideas online can benefit from using this new web application, Amplify.

Clipmarks has been amplified in this new web application, and we are the beneficiaries. Try it out. I think you will find a variety of ways to use it.

Amplify makes a wonderful educational online tool. Teachers can use the group function to encourage students to take notes and share them in a project. Students can use Amplify to develop their reports, summaries or presentations.

Since your Amplified Clip goes straight into a Clip blog called a clog, you can easily start a group blog where your friends, family and coworkers can add comments if you like. Although you don't have to accept any comments if you are using it for a particular purpose. In a group or by yourself, Amplify gives you an opportunity to develop a special clip blog, so you can keep track of all you are reading.

Amplify DOES NOT require a toolbar to make it function properly. All you need to do is download a tiny icon with a drop down function box. There is a Firefox extension icon(it also works in Flock), as well as a Microsoft Internet Explorer extension icon. It is clean and out of the way. When you want to use it, the Amplify extension icon is available right away.

Several of us are testing a group clog entitled ABC's of PLN Power, and I want to invite you to join us in this beta. Add your comments and suggestions. We can guide the development of this wonderful web application through our participation.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Opportunity: Using 3 Column Blog Templates

mother and daughter by pomegranates
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License
As my n2teaching Hearts and Minds blog develops, I include new interactive applications for teachers, and I can't bear to delete the earlier ones. As far as I am concerned, if they were important enough to select as examples of applications that have educational value, I still want to keep them on my blog.

Having the widgets, badges and other interactive applications on my blog makes my second column very long, in comparison to the right side. I don't really think people access those applications located towards the bottom, and I would like to share these with readers and my PLN(Professional Learning Network)colleagues.

My current dilemma is partially created because I use my blog like a website. This is a necessary requirement in a way, since I want to keep my official professional development archives easy to access and simple to use

To solve the issues of reader accessibility, I decided that I should experiment with 3 column blog templates. My goal is to keep the blog post in a central position, yet have more information easily accessible for the reader.

I researched what is available for someone with rudimentary programming skills such as mine, and I found many examples that I would like to share. My basic criteria for the 3-column blog templates search were:

****minimalistic color and structure
****compatible with Blogger
****easy to adapt

I was greatly inspired by cgseibel's Technology for Learning blog where she uses a 3-column blog template, so I have looked for similar ones.

Here is a Diigo Webslides presentation of a small grouping that met my criteria.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Winsome Wednesday: "Doing DaVinci"

Doing da Vinci, a new interactive website with a companion weekly show, contains historical and scientific information about Leonardo da Vinci, as well as games and surveys. There are also video clips and information and interviews about the expert builders who brought da Vinci's machines to life, from his notes and diagrams.

One of the more interesting web applications on this site is Leonardo da Vinci's Personality Quiz. Several colleagues, including CoffeeDdaisy, Lona, sciproLdySlpr, Linda (Mrs C) and brina 1300 in our PLN, professional learning network, tried it out. We found it enlightening, as well as entertaining. This quiz would definitely capture the interest of students and teachers. It could be used as a lesson starter, sometimes called the anticipatory set.

This website contains timelines, samples of da Vinci's machines and a host of other applications that could be used by teachers of any subject.

The draw to da Vinci, as the ultimate Renaissance Man, remain his great and varied interests. Try out the website, quizzes, model-building and dramatizations. The companion television show will air each Monday throughout the month of April.

Image Credits:

DaVinci Notes of Geometry of Flower

Leonardo da Vinci Helicopter and Lift Wing