Monday, October 20, 2014

Small victories with Google Sites

I spent the spring and summer creating a website that would be home base for a technology professional development program at CJ. I created it using Google Sites, partially because I was modeling it after a program that had been done on Google Sites and partially because I just wanted to explore yet another of Google's products.

I'm a little obsessed now.

I know that my work isn't the most complex when it comes to  web design. I still haven't learned HTML code (when I asked a friend who works in web publishing for a big newspaper about recommended font and font size for a text heavy website, his response that his paper's "tags are 1.4em on a line height of 1.6em" left me dumbfounded). And I still don't understand a lot of what goes on in the background of websites regarding analytics and search engines. But for designing a site that is really only meant for internal use at work, it was an excellent tool for this amateur.

The Tech Charge Challenge website is staying private right now, so I made a copy of the website (small victory when I discovered how!) to make public and removed any personal data from teachers. That's what I've linked here. It isn't perfect (still needs a few tweaks and tutorials), but I'm pretty proud.

A few weeks ago, I decided to make another, much simpler, website as a home for any and all technology-related professional development resources and opportunities at CJ. Small victories all over the place as I set up this page. I created links using images to represent my main websites. I embedded a Google calendar on an "announcement" page. I even figured out how to give only teachers at CJ permission to edit a "list" page (and only that page) so they can add web tools to the list. Now I'm ready to put tools into the list and find a reason to use other templates.

Sometimes on a Monday, we just need to celebrate those small victories.

For more info about Google Sites, check out...

Curious how you can use Google Sites in the classroom? Check out...

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Sharing some SAMR examples






I recently introduced this acronym to the CJ faculty and asked everyone to reflect on where their teaching generally falls in this... spectrum? Is that the word? Like Bloom's good old Taxonomy, I find that our use of technology can and should fall in each of the "levels" at different times, but we do need to reach for redefinition when possible and applicable.

I shared the following videos and resources on an internal website:
However, some colleagues expressed interest in more examples; hence, this blog post.

Many of the explanations online are either general descriptions of the framework or use what seems to be the easiest concrete example to demonstrate - a writing assignment. Math and science teachers in particular wanted examples of how it can apply more specifically to their disciplines. The list below gives more examples - some specific to math and science, some general.

Have any other good examples you'd want to share? Comment below!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Thanks, Kathy Schrock! I want to use PowToon now!

The ALS ice bucket challenge has been blowing up my personal Facebook newsfeed. I've seen quite a few fun videos, including ones from coworkers. I've escaped being called out... so far.

Scrolling through my Twitter feed (@mfankopedia) tonight, I came across the following tweet:

Watch her video. It's awesome. I love the hand sliding things in and out of the frame.

I had never seen PowToon before. Excited to show it to teachers and make my own PowToons. Just logged in using my Google+ account, which makes it easy (you can also use LinkedIn or Facebook, or create a separate log on). Once in, I can choose from ready-made PowToons or start from scratch; dynamic presentations (slides?) are coming soon. Excited for the beginning of the school year chaos to calm down so I can explore.

For now I await what I assume to be the inevitable ALS ice bucket challenge...

Thursday, July 3, 2014

I love Edutopia: Sharing a blog post about tech in the classroom

Quick share, then I promise I'll get back to my "real" work for today. While researching just now, I visited, which is one of my favorite ed tech websites. In my former life as an English teacher, I loved receiving the print copies of Edutopia in my mailbox and was bummed when I read that it would be discontinued in 2010. Published by the George Lucas Educational Foundation, it was a free magazine full of articles and ideas (and ads for amazing technology!) that inspired me to try new things with technology in the classroom.

I have come to terms with the loss of those colorful pages in hand as I have personally rethought the way I publish resources for my colleagues (formerly in an emailed newsletter formatted in Publisher, now here in this blog and via various email updates... hopefully linking them to this blog) and have discontinued my personal newspaper subscription because I just wasn't getting around to reading it, instead getting the highlights from social media. But I still miss the magazine and my newspaper. They just aren't always the most logical options these days.

I digress. The top headline today was a blog post titled "The Digital Lives of Teens: 'If You Don't Have a Plan for Them, They Will Have a Plan for You'". Well, of course that caught my attention. Blogger Matt Levinson, a school administrator and author of From Fear to Facebook: One School's Journey, begins with a story from a TV show to get his point across - we have to meet the students where they are with technology. It's a challenge to do so, but so essential today.

I just want to leave that link for you. A quick read, entertaining, and good to keep in mind as we turn the corner on the July 4th holiday, which to me has always signaled the turning point of summer - after this, it's the down slope headed back to another school year...

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

It's all about being a good digital citizen

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I'm working on a large project right now. A project that is awesome, but a time suck. Every aspect of it has me jumping online, looking for resources, ideas, tools, etc., and those just lead me down new rabbit holes that get me excited for all the new things I discover. Today, I'm investigating the topic of digital accountability. It's a BIG one. So important. So simple, yet so complex.

In my meandering through the interwebs, a Google search led me to a Pinterest board, which led me to a blog post that contained an infographic I liked. Of course, that led me to clicking on the link to the original source of the infographic, which just led me to another blog I want to follow. Phew. So much.

Sharing this infographic because I think it really simplifies all of the ways we can be responsible digital citizens. Thanks to Mia on An Ethical Island for sharing it... and all of her work. She has all of her infographics in a shared Dropbox account and licensed under Creative Commons under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. (share for any non-commercial use - no editing). How generous! I'll be adding her blog to my reading list...


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Edcamp Excitement

Just a quick post about my experience today at my first unconference, ConnectED Leaders sponsored by ConnectED Learning. It was a short, half-day conference, which was actually the perfect length for me today (middle of the summer). Three sessions at 45 minutes each were enough to get into some interesting conversations, share some of my own insights and projects, pick up some ideas, and leave energized for my summer projects and next school year.

The unconference layout had me a little nervous. I felt like I should put something up on the board, but two things held me back. One, my brain just wasn't working - I couldn't come up with anything to discuss. Sad, I know. Two, there were already great session topics up and I didn't want to miss any of them, especially when I saw the names of some of the facilitators, who I had seen present at METC and/or followed on Twitter.

One of the few rules of an unconference is the rule of two feet - if you don't like a session you are in, get up and leave. Well, I followed that rule today. Twice. It wasn't that I didn't like the sessions; they just weren't as relevant to me as I had hoped... and having my TweetDeck open showed me that a more beneficial conversation for me might be going on down the hall. It felt awkward, getting up and walking out of a discussion that only had a dozen or so people in it, but in both instances, I'm glad I did. Grateful that they put that rule out there from the get-go. I knew the facilitators wouldn't be offended.

And the networking! I left there with a bunch of new Twitter followers (@mfankopedia), even more names to look up and follow, and an anticipation of the next time I get to interact with these people in person again. I joined an entire new professional learning network that can last long past 11:30 this morning. One of my new Twitter friends got me excited for EdCampSEMO this fall - it's only an hour away, so I might actually swing it. Missouri Summit on Google Education is also on my calendar for the fall, and EdCampSTL and METC are definite for me next February. Until then, there's Twitter and #moedchat, #connectedleader, and various other hashtags to follow, along with the new Twitter handles I'm following.

Speaking of people I follow, remember Richard Byrne (@rmbyrne), my technology blogging guru at Free Tech for Teachers? Tonight he started following me on Twitter. The tech-nerd in me feels like I just made friends with a big celebrity. That notification in my inbox (and seeing "follows you" on his profile) was kind of like an "I made it" moment for me in ed tech.

And that's it, maybe. Today helped me dive into my new professional learning network/community. Much needed, since I'm the only person in my position at CJ. Thrilled to have this community and ready to get more active in it.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Tool Review: Popplet

I'm in the midst of setting up a technology professional development program for our school. Basically, I'm creating a Google Site full of information, tutorials, and tasks for our teachers to explore. When I wanted to start organizing the pages and content, I decided concept mapping was more my style than outlining for this project. And since online graphic organizers are a part of my site, I figured I'd try one. Enter Popplet.

Popplet is a free tool, but with a free account I can only make a limited number of popplets (charts). Fine by me. I can choose for my popplets to be private or public, and search through public ones.

The Popplet interface is just fun and welcoming, especially if I were introducing our students to it - I think they would like it. It's also easy to use. The map below took me just a minute or two:

When I add a "popple" (content box), I have the option to insert a picture or video, draw something in the box, or type text. I can also change the color of the box. A few examples below...
A few things I wish Popplet allowed are to insert hyperlinks in the popples (like a link to the library's summer reading club site or story time schedule) and to change the color of the text. I can change the size of the text and its justification, but changing the color of the text would allow another level of organization or differentiation. Maybe it's because I'm using my Popplet as a kind of checklist and want to highlight the completed popples, but that would really be helpful to me.

Popplets can also be collaborative. I have the option to share in various ways:
If I add a collaborator (colleague for me, classmate or teacher for students), he or she can add to or critique my concept map. See those little thought bubbles next to each popple/content box? Those allow me or others to comment on content. These comments become hidden popples that we see when we click on the comment icon (thought bubble):

The settings menu gives me quite a few options, too:

  • Edit gives me the options to Undo, Copy Popple, and Paste Popple.
  • Organize allows me to align popples, snap them to a grid, etc.
  • Add content links me to Flickr, YouTube, and Google Maps.
  • View takes me into Presentation Mode options - you can use this as a Prezi-like presentation!
  • Export gives me options to save as a JPG, PDF, etc.
  • Lab... is something I have yet to explore, actually.
  • Popplet linker allows me to insert a popplet into a popplet (well, isn't that fancy!).
  • Duplicate popplet creates a copy - great for keeping a template for yourself and sharing a copy of collaboration with students!
  • Print brings up the print dialogue for the browser.
  • Languages allows me to embed Japanese, Korean, or Hebrew text.
I highlighted my two favorite features from the settings menu above, since I think they really increase the ways we can use this tool.

My sample popplet here is nothing compared to the breadth of my popplet for the website project, for which I haven't really used all the multi-media options. I simply keep adding layer upon layer to the map to the point where I can't read any of it when I view the whole thing on screen. I'm beginning to think I need to start using the comments button more. Hmm...

Loving this tool so far. Create a free account and get started. Which reminds me of one minor downfall - make that account BEFORE you start creating a popplet. I had a decent chunk of mine made, clicked "create account", set up my account, and bam - my work was gone. Fresh start. Oh well. I had a college professor who always told us to rewrite instead of revise, because our ideas are always more organized the second time around, so I'll hope that's true with this...

Oh! Almost forgot - It has an iPhone and iPad app, too!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Cool Tool:

Not a lot of time to write, but I just stumbled across this tool while researching information about blogs (thank you to!) and had to share.

I have a love-hate relationship with fonts. I despise a boring document. When I can make a title or heading fun, I do it. One reason writing within Blogger bugs me a little - not a lot of font options here. But it gets the job done.

If I'm designing something in any other program, though, you bet I'm going to use fun fonts. And thanks to our school yearbook, I have A LOT on my computer. But part of the hate aspect of my long-term relationship with fonts is finding the right one for the text I'm working with. The process goes something like...

  • Type in the text
  • Highlight it
  • Go to font menu
  • Hover over the name of the font I'm interested in (IF I'M LUCKY! Depends on the program) OR Select the name of the font I'm interested in
  • Repeat for various fonts until I find the perfect one


Enter WORDMARK.IT. I go to the website, type words into a box at the top of the page, click "Load Fonts" and voila! A preview of said words in every font on my computer. And the ability to change various aspects of it in the preview (all caps, font size, etc.). Mind blown. Time saved. Creativity enabled. Love it.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Breaking bad habits... how hard can it be?

Just a quick post today to share two finds from, a new favorite resource.

It takes 21 days to develop a habit. That's a generally accepted... myth? Really, how long does it to make (or break) a habit?

Researchers at University College London have found that 21 days is actually too short a time. Published in the European Journal of Social Psychology in 2009, the study followed 96 people for 84 days as they attempted to make small changes to their lives  On average, participants in their study took 66 days, as explained in a blog post from 2012. Yikes. That's a long time.

My thinking is that breaking a bad habit is actually the process of developing a new, good habit, right? So we need to allow a bit of time to do so. This is something to consider as we wind down this school year and have a chance to maybe "forget" some bad teaching habits over the summer break.

What bad habits do you need to break? 

This list from Te@chThought is a great checklist to use for reflection. Click here to read the full blog post.
I can't decide if the number 4 in the title of this graphic is a legitimate typo or is trying to call our attention to the bad habits by not proofreading on purpose...

Time to form some new habits...

Don't worry. I'm not going to leave you on a negative note. A separate (but related!) Te@chThought post provided this infographic, borrowing a list from AlwaysPrepped. Something to think about. I'll bring it back in August as we head into the new school year...

Which of these do you want to make a habit? And can you master it in 21 days? No pressure :)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Giving Video a Trim

This morning a colleague wanted to insert an online video into her PowerPoint presentation. But not just a video - an excerpt from a video. This led me down a few roads of exploration, just to verify what I thought I knew...

Source of the video - Uh oh...
I love YouTube. I can find a tutorial for just about anything on it. Teachers can find videos on just about anything on there. It's a great resource.  However, waiting for videos from YouTube to buffer in the middle of a lesson can be tedious, I know. And since our teachers switch classrooms all the time, it's tough to have everything set up and buffered ahead of time for each class. So downloading videos from YouTube is tempting. But is it allowed?

No. Not according to YouTube (owned by Google). The terms of service state...

5. Your Use of Content

In addition to the general restrictions above, the following restrictions and conditions apply specifically to your use of Content.
  1. The Content on the Service, and the trademarks, service marks and logos ("Marks") on the Service, are owned by or licensed to YouTube, subject to copyright and other intellectual property rights under the law.
  2. Content is provided to you AS IS. You may access Content for your information and personal use solely as intended through the provided functionality of the Service and as permitted under these Terms of Service. You shall not download any Content unless you see a “download” or similar link displayed by YouTube on the Service for that Content. You shall not copy, reproduce, distribute, transmit, broadcast, display, sell, license, or otherwise exploit any Content for any other purposes without the prior written consent of YouTube or the respective licensors of the Content. YouTube and its licensors reserve all rights not expressly granted in and to the Service and the Content. (highlighting emphasis mine)
My quick research shows that people will debate until they are blue in the face whether or not you will get in trouble for downloading videos from YouTube. Me? I'm just going to leave you with the above policy and move on to explain how to manipulate videos and clip them using videos from Vimeo that are licensed under Creative Commons if I need an example.

Downloading the video...
The internet abounds with free video converters. Some are web-based, others involved downloading software. One that I've had installed on my computer for a while is YTD Video Converter (yes, the YT stems from YouTube). I learned about it from our Computer Applications teachers, then found it to download and a write-up about it from CNET, which I generally trust.
Downloading is quick, installing is easy, and it's simple to use. Copy and paste the URL for your video into the box in the Download tab, make a few selections, click Download, and your video is headed your way.  

One warning: When installing, make sure to click "Custom Install" and remove the check marks next to all the lovely options about a toolbar and resetting your home page, etc. Unless you like those surprises. Then on the next install screen, click "No Thanks" when asked about installing something else that I can't recall. Sneaky. Very sneaky. 

Trimming the video...
We are on PCs here, so Movie Maker is standard issue on our image. I know it can be bulky, that people who work with video editing all the time don't love it, but for this purpose, it works.

When you open Movie Maker, you have a blank slate, ready for you to add video or image files. Easy enough. Click on either of the areas highlighted in the image below and select the file you just downloaded:

After you add your video, Movie Maker takes a few minutes to process the video. Be patient. If it's a long video, take the time to get a cup of coffee, grade a few quizzes, or search Twitter for something fun like #edtech.

For this project, you only need one tool in Movie Maker: the Trim tool. You will find it in the "Edit" ribbon, which only appears as part of "Video Tools" once you insert a video file.

The Trim tool is simple to use. Choose where you want your clip to begin and end, down to one hundredth of a second. Click "Save trim" and you are good.


Saving the trimmed video...

The most important part of saving a Movie Maker project is in HOW you save it. I had a group of students figure this out about five minutes before their final project was due in my Literature in the Cinema class a few years ago. Clicking the "File" menu in Movie Maker presents you with a few options and

  • "Save Project" & "Save Project As" - use these if you are in the process of manipulating your video and need to take a break. It saves your work as a .wlmp file. This will not play in video software (QuickTime, Media Player, etc.). Think of it as a folder containing all of the video clips, images, and sound clips you want in your video, along with instructions for how to play them.
  • "Publish Movie" - want to send your finished product directly to the web? This is a quick way. Chose from Vimeo, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, etc.
  • "Save Movie" - CHOOSE THIS if you want to save a video file to your computer so you can embed it into a presentation, email it, show it from your hard drive, burn to a DVD, etc. 

Embedding the video...
This is the easiest part.  Piece of cake. Open your PowerPoint file and insert a new slide. If you choose the common "title and content" layout, the icon is there waiting for you to insert a video. Just click on the video icon in the middle of the blank space: 

Another way to add a video is to select the "Insert" ribbon, then select "Video" waaaay over to the right side of the ribbon (I almost missed it) and click "Video on my PC" to select your file.

Done. These details/instructions actually make it seem to take longer than it really does. Maybe that's just the process of typing them amidst Monday interruptions. Oh well. Good luck!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Tool Review:

This morning I found a video from YouTube that featured Dr. Ruben Puentedura, the man behind the SAMR model, and I really wanted to watch it and take notes. For some reason, 1999 me surfaced and I grabbed a notepad and pen. Within the first 52 seconds of the video, I realized I was being an idiot. I had already paused and gone back twice because I was trying to jot down his exact words for something. And I couldn't write fast enough. But I can type faster!


I had shared this tool in an Ed Tech Newsletter a while back, but never really had a good chance to use it. Today was the day. 

Logging into is easy with a Google account - the two sync together. Once you "connect to Google Drive" on the homepage, a folder shows up in your Google Drive account. Any files are saved there. When you are ready to start taking notes on a video, you can either go to or click the CREATE button in Google Drive and choose VideoNotes:  

Once logged in, this screen appears:

Easy to use.  I copied and pasted the URL of the YouTube video into the box on the left and it loaded the video. I hit the play button and started watching, listening, and typing time-stamped notes in the box on the right.  Any time I moved my cursor up a line, the video went back to the time stamped on the line.  I could easily pause the video by hitting CTRL+Space in the midst of typing to let me catch up when needed. My work automatically saved into the folder in Google Drive.

As I was using it, I loved it. I was very  Then I tried to manipulate my notes because frankly, they aren't easy to read in the interface. They are quite ugly:

A sample of my notes from today.  Pardon any typos, as I planned on editing later.
Here come the cons. 

Though the files are saved in Google Drive, the notes files will only open in the interface, not as a Google Doc. At this time, the only way to get the notes out of the interface that I've shown above is to export them to Everote. I know Evernote is a great tool and app, and I want to explore it more as a cloud-based answer to OneNote, but it perplexes me that the connection to Google is so limited. When I saw on the main page that the tool was connected to Google Drive, I assumed I would be able to view my notes within the Google Docs apps. Not so.

I created an Evernote account, exported the notes to Evernote, then copied and pasted them into a Google Doc from there so I could revisit and manipulate them, but that was a bit tedious. Yes, I could have done pretty much the same manipulations in Evernote, but as a Google Docs user, I wanted my notes saved there. This is a big issue for me. I want to encourage my colleagues to try and encourage their students to use it. Most of them have Google accounts at this point. Few of them will know Evernote and I don't like complicating the process by adding another account that they will possibly only use for this purpose. I really hope and Google figure out something soon.

Once I managed to get my notes into my Google Doc, I was able to edit them, reorganize by adding bullet points and formatting, color-code sections, make key terms bold, etc. The visual learner in me appreciated being able to do that.  And it allowed me a chance to review what I had typed.  Each line of my notes, though, still contained the time stamp in the form of a plus sign hyperlink that would take me to my file and start the video. Awesome.  And as you can see below, much easier on the eye.

A sample of my notes once I copied them into a Google Doc and manipulated them.
Overall, for students to be able to use to take notes on flipped lessons or other important content, they need to be able to manipulate what they type. And I would love for them to be able to do so in Google.  For now, we will survive with Evernote or my work-around.

Another slightly nit-picky critique. Now that I have connected to Google Drive, every time I visit the page/tool (and I've looked at it a lot over the course of the day), it creates a new "untitled note" in my Google Drive folder. I hadn't realized this, nor how I could change the title of the file, and opened my folder to find my notes only to see FIVE "untitled notes" files listed.  Oops.  I'd rather be required to name the file in order for it to be saved, or I will end up with a lot of sample "untitled file"s in my folder as I show people the website.  Maybe I should just stop visiting the site, though....

Webinars Keep Coming...

Nothing makes my Monday morning like opening my email to find a listing for two awesome sounding webinars coming up in the next few weeks.  Had to share them here, both so anyone reading can register (and join live or view in the archive), but also so I remember to go back to them and watch them.  Since both are on Tuesdays at 4pm, chances are I won't be able to join live at home without combating the Frozen soundtrack and my one year old trying to tackle my screen...

Both webinars are presented by, a professional learning community open to anyone.

What is SAMR? Rethink the way you plan with ed tech...
WHEN:  Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM (Eastern Time) 
Presented by Joe Dale, independent languages consultant from the UK

In our community’s first webinar, independent languages consultant Joe Dale will look at the SAMR model developed by Dr. Rubin Puentedura, which provides a useful framework for helping teachers rethink how they design activities that involve the use of technology. Joe will draw on practical examples to explore the Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and finally Redefinition stages of the model, suggesting how previously inconceivable tasks can be achieved which transform learning and allow educators to ‘teach above the line.’  Planning lessons which are relevant and challenge 21st century learners as well as engage and stretch them is essential, and the SAMR model is a helpful guide to aid this process. Joe will also touch upon the importance of having a growth mindset when approaching the use of technology in the classroom as well as nurturing a personal learning network to facilitate global collaboration. If you like the idea of turning an original idea on its head and coming up with something which is far more engaging, relevant and important to young people, join Joe on April 15th to learn about creating lessons through the SAMR model.

Sponsored by ClassFlow

Get online and expand your PLC...
WHEN:  Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM (Eastern Time) 
Presented by Tom Whitby, retired secondary teacher and adjunct professor; with Steven Anderson, Content and Relationship Evangelist for Promethean

“I have learned more being on Twitter in six months than in two years of graduate school.”

“The connections I’ve made because I am online are crucial to my success in the classroom.” 

“I don’t know what I did before I was connected!”

These are statements we hear every day. Educators from around the world, marveling at the fact that they are connected and those connections carry a great deal of value to them professionally and personally. 

Historically, collaboration took place when two or more individuals occupied the same space at the same time and exchanged and revised ideas. It has often been said, "In a room full of smart people, the smartest person is the room"! With the technology at hand today, there are no boundaries of time or space with collaboration. The ability we have to connect and work collaboratively, anytime from anywhere, has moved collaboration from a limited mode of learning to a more prominent position. The technology we use for connecting people digitally and virtually through various applications for connections has given collaboration through technology the label of “connected learning”.

Join us for our community’s first webinar, when Tom Whitby and Steven Anderson - two of the most prolific users of social media - will discuss what it means to be a connected educator and how being connected empowers educators to do more and learn more.

Sponsored by ClassFlow

Decide to register for either of these? Comment below to let me know, then revisit this post to comment with your thoughts on the experience!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Google Driving: General Resources for Exploration

A recent faculty meeting really showed me how interested our teachers are in exploring the features of Google Drive and Apps. When given the freedom to choose between one of six ed tech topics to explore for an hour, an overwhelming majority of my colleagues flooded the "Google Drive" area of the library, inundating my few "experts" who were there to help people. A few others jumped in to assist their colleagues and if I understand correctly (I didn't really get to check in; I was leading a small group exploring Twitter for professional development), people really made progress in learning about this Google cloud thing that's all the rage.

However, I know some people will need reminders and tutorials, so I want to share some of my favorites here.  Whether revisiting how to share a Google doc or moving on to creating forms and analyzing the responses from them, we all need step-by-step instructions or visual help sometimes. So here are some favorites to get you started:
  • Google Drive Help Center: That's right - they make the tools, so they better make some good resources to accompany them.  I usually find anything Google to be user-friendly, including these resources.  This link will take you to the main menu, but each topic takes you to a sub-menu, which then takes you to another menu; very specific help here.

Have a Google Drive/Apps tutorial that really helped you? Share it in the comments below!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Turn in ANYTHING to TurnItIn?!

Since I'm not in the classroom accepting and grading assignments anymore, I don't venture onto TurnItIn much these days. When I was teaching English, I relied heavily on it for collecting assignments and checking originality, sometimes venturing into the GradeMark aspect and trying out the peer review system. I know that TurnItIn has made vast improvements to its system over the last few years including a new, more user-friendly GradeMark interface and a new iPad app that allows grading on TurnItIn without an internet connection (I would have loved THAT five years ago).

This morning I went to TurnItIn to check some stats from the administrative perspective. The homepage got me VERY excited:

Grade ANYTHING? I had to learn more. Apparently this was a new concept introduced earlier this month. According to the press release,
"The groundbreaking functionality appeals to instructors across the curriculum who increasingly are assigning student projects beyond the traditional written paper, such as presentations, spreadsheets, visual designs and calculations. In addition, instructors who need to evaluate student work that does not require a file submission, such as a live dance performance or musical recital, can use Turnitin’s new grading template to provide timely and meaningful feedback to students."
I broke out my headphones and watched every demo available when I clicked the "Learn More" button...

Grading PowerPoint presentations DURING the presentation on an iPad? AWESOME. Having math students submit their homework by taking PICTURES of their work? GENIUS. Use a special grading template to provide feedback for performances with no file submitted to TurnItIn? EXCELLENT.

I'm excited to explore this more with our teachers. Cor Jesu has had a subscription to TurnItIn for a long time and some teachers use it religiously.  However, it has always been seen as a tool for those teaching in the humanities, grading essays and other written work. This development gives me hope that teachers in other disciplines might be willing to explore it - especially after we integrate it with our Moodle system over the summer (finally). Updates to come...

Interested in exploring more? A few helpful links...

Monday, March 24, 2014

Blogging is SCARY

I had no idea what goes into maintaining a blog. Granted, right now my goal is simply to provide information, resources, etc. to my colleagues (not get famous or make money) and a blog seemed an easier venue than a newsletter, but wow. As I explore Blogger and read, well, blogs ABOUT blogging, I get intimidated. So many things to consider.

On top of that, I'm also trying to delve further into social media as a way of getting professional development... which puts one more thing on my daily to-do list, but can also be helpful in this blogging thing. Just checked Twitter for the first time in a week (goodbye, spring break) and saw this linked by another local ed tech colleague (thanks @sueandrewstech):

11 Essential Ingredients Every Blog Post Needs [Infographic]
Like this infographic? Get content marketing advice that works from Copyblogger.

Definitely a resource I will revisit and encourage my coworkers to visit when they venture into blogging some day. Here is the blog post in which the infographic was originally published; it's full of links to help with the 11 ingredients.

Scrolling through my Twitter feed a little more, I stumbled on a post from one of my favorite ed tech bloggers, Richard Byrne (@rmbyrne). I've been following his Free Technology for Teachers blog for a few years now (I was still teaching English when I discovered it) and have used and shared many of his posts. This caught my eye:

I know that people make a living by blogging, but the idea is actually exhausting to me.  So I thought this blog post could give me a little perspective. And yes, it did. But what I really learned by clicking Richard's link and reading the post was that he maintains TWO blogs. WHAT?! A blog about ed tech and a blog about... BLOGGING. He really might be my new guru.  

UPDATE (3/27/14) - I had initially figured out how to embed the infographic into this blog post thanks to the instructions on its source.  Now I'm excited because I just figured out that I could embed a Tweet into a blog post.  No more opening Snipping Tool, applying Snipping Tool, saving picture, inserting picture, etc.  Just a little HTML code to plug in! 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Webinars on the Way - sign up for more free PD

Webinars really can provide us with great professional development for free and without leaving the comfort of our homes and/or desks.  Often they take on a very informal atmosphere because they are done via a social forum like Google Hangouts.  When we participate in them live, we can contribute to the conversation via chat, video conferencing, etc., depending on the format and venue.  

As a follow-up to my last post listing archived and on-demand webinars to explore, I thought I'd link you to some upcoming webinars that might be of interest. All of these are free, but do require registration. is a "professional social and learning network" for educators and is free for anyone to join.  Within the network, there are over 1,000 "communities", or groups, to join as global PLCs. Something to consider joining for professional development and networking.  Or if you don't want to register for yet another group, you can follow the network on Twitter @edwebnet.

The group provides a calendar of upcoming webinars here, sometimes providing multiple a day.  I specifically thought these might be interesting...

Get your students involved with this session!
WHEN:  Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM (Eastern Time)
Hosted by Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation
In this special webinar presented by the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, teachers are invited to bring their students and colleagues to hear the personal story of the Medal of Honor Recipient, Harold “Hal” A. Fritz, who received his Medal for his actions near Quan Loi, South Vietnam in 1969, during the Vietnam War.  Hal Fritz is currently the President of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, which is comprised solely of the 75 living Medal of Honor Recipients.

During this webinar, Hal Fritz will discuss what the Medal of Honor means to him and how it has affected his life.  He will take questions about his experiences and will share his thoughts on character, commitment, and bravery.  The program will be moderated by Noel Wall, Director of Education at the Medal of Honor Foundation.
This webinar is part of a series of webinars on the free Character Development Program, based on the Medal of Honor Recipients' stories, which includes 50+ lesson plans and 100 video vignettes on aspects of courage, integrity, sacrifice, commitment, citizenship, and patriotism.

Webinar attendees will receive details on how to access the full free Character Development Program, available online and on DVD.

Not flipping? Have your students create the videos!
WHEN: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM (Eastern Time) 
ABOUT: Presented by Richard Byrne, Digital Learning Consultant - Free Technology for Teachers
Between cell phones and tablets, it seems that nearly every student has access to a video camera today. In our community’s next webinar, Digital Learning Consultant Richard Byrne will share some of the ways that your students can demonstrate knowledge of content and process - through the use of free video creation apps and web tools. From short, one-take video reports to longer documentary videos to bringing creative writing to life, there is something here that all teachers can put to use in their classrooms. Here are some of the topics Richard will explore during this session:
  • Flipping the flipped classroom by having students create short video lessons for each other
  • How to video blog with YouTube and Blogger and why you might want your students to blog this way
  • Adding videos to augmented reality experiences
  • Creating animated videos to bring students' writing to life
  • Sharing students’ video projects while being mindful of privacy concerns
Join us on March 26 to learn ways to use video creations as demonstrations of learning with your students. is a professional development group with a goal of helping "teachers and schools leverage technology to create student-centered, inquiry-based learning environments". You can sign up for a monthly newsletter from the group, or visit the Tools for Teachers page to get resources. The group seems to specialize in webinars, some of which I linked in my previous post.  

Here are two upcoming webinars that sound relevant to CJ teachers.  The links provided take you to the list of webinars and registration is available on that page...

Get collaborating and using the cloud...
WHEN: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 7:00pm EST
Google Apps, Chrome, and Drive - use one of these Google tools, or all of them, and endless possibilities open up for creation, communication, and collaboration. In just one hour, we'll give you a speed tour through "all things Google" to give you some ideas for how you can bring these tools into your classroom.

Gaming in education - it's a thing.
WHEN: Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - 7:00pm EST
What can we learn from games? Come explore the many ways that you can use game dynamics and gamification to increase learning and boost engagement in your STEM classroom. Discover how popular games such as Minecraft and SimCity provide playgrounds for creativity and robust opportunities for collaboration and critical thinking in the classroom. Finally, learn about the many opportunities for coding and computer science that are embedded in the process of having kids designing and programming games as a demonstration of their learning.

Sign up for one of these webinars? Get something good from it? Comment below to let us know!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Professional Development, Spring Break Style: from your COUCH

If you...
  • don't have big plans for spring break
  • still need to get in some webinar/video professional development in this semester
  • want to explore some ideas in technology
... take a look at some of the following webinar possibilities.  Some are archived from past sessions, while some are on-demand options.  All are FREE.

From EdTechTeacher:

Below are just a few that seemed interesting/relevant - click above to see the entire list of the archives.
  • WHY Innovate? (1 hr) Winter 2014 - This session focuses on moving forward in our ways of thinking, with emphasis on the way we design our learning spaces.  
  • Creating a Connected Classroom (1 hr 4 min) Oct 2013 - From the Connected Educator Month series, four experts discuss what a connected classroom is, ways to connect students, teachers, etc. to others for learning, and obstacles to connecting.
  • Digital Citizenship in Connected Classrooms (1 hr 2 min) Oct 2013 - From the Connected Educator Month series, experts expound on digital citizenship and how to teach it, encourage it, etc.
  • How Great Teachers Reinvent Their Classrooms (56 min) Aug 2013 - A session exploring what it looks like when teachers use mobile technologies to reinvent their classroom practices

From EducationWeek:

The sessions below are two that seemed specifically relevant to recent conversations at CJ.  More "on-demand" webinars are available at the link above.  All require registration (providing name, email address, etc.) but are free to view. 
  • Time for a Change: A Proven Solution for Blended Project-Based Learning (1 hr) Feb 2014 - "Michael Golden, education strategist and CEO of Educurious, discusses how school leaders can create profound impacts on student learning and teacher development using blended project-based learning, technology, professional development, and connections with real-world experts."
  • Reaching Every Student in Every Class Every Day: The Flipped Classroom (1 hr) Jan 2014 - "Join flipped classroom pioneer Jon Bergmann as he walks through his transformation from a 20-year lecturer to a flipped-class pioneer. Bergmann will demonstrate how blended learning can transform today's educational climate, increase student learning outcomes, and the key considerations for administrators who want to begin implementing flipped learning in their schools."

From METC:

Watch any of the virtual sessions from the Midwest Education Technology Conference last month:

Kevin Honeycutt
April Burton
Josh Stumpenhorst
Kyle Schutt
Lodge McCammon
Howie DiBlasi
Lodge McCammon
Tiffany Whitehead
Robert Deneau, Greg Lawrence, Bill Bass, Cindy Lane, Drew McAllister, Keri Skeeters, Michael McCann, Robert Dillon
Kevin Honeycutt
Robert Dillon
Howie DiBlasi

Watch one of these? Find it interesting? Leave a comment below!