Friday, March 9, 2012

Digital Resource Smackdown

On March 1, 2012 we concluded our 29-Day Web 2.0 Challenge with a Digital Resource Smackdown. Nathan Davidson and Robbie Grimes from MSD of Wayne Township and Betsy Pruitt and Jeff Tron from Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation shared several resources being used by teachers in their schools. Check out the recording and the list of resources from the webinar. The list of resources is included below the videos. You may also view this list and watch this and other archived webinars at the 21st Century Learning Lab blog.

Digital Resources

MSD of Wayne Township –
Evansville –
Other resources –
Continue the Conversation

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Blog Wrap Up and the Learning Connection

First, a big THANK YOU to all of our guest bloggers who shared so many excellent web resources with us during Digital Learning month. We had a great time compiling and sharing all of the resources through this blog. We also want to thank all of the dedicated educators from our state and beyond who checked in daily and who are implementing these tools to enhance teaching and learning in their schools. The blog will remain open, so we encourage educators to continue to use it as a resource for good web 2.0 resources. Please continue to comment on ways that you are using the resources in your work. For even more great ideas, join us for a Digital Learning Smackdown today, March 1st, at 4pm Eastern. Click here to register. Also, don't forget to check out our Digital Learning Stories channel on YouTube. We would still love to add more videos to the channel. Create a 1-minute video telling the digital learning story of your classroom, school, or district, post it on YouTube, then send the link to Meri Carnahan.

We would like to end the month by sharing the Learning Connection.

The Learning Connection is a free resource available for all Indiana educators and school and district administrators. Why should you join the Learning Connection? Here are just a few of the reasons.

  • Access to student data: Teachers registered with a school will have access all available test data for their current students.
  • Interact with your fellow educators: There are over 1200 communities in the Learning Connection. Once you are logged in click on Communities -- My Communities -- Find a Community and enter your search terms to locate a community in which you are interested. One DOE-created community that you might be interested in Ed Tech Connect. Educational technology news and resources are available in this community. You can also add other Learning Connection users to your contacts to make it easy to keep in touch with them. Click on Contacts -- My Contacts to search for and add contacts.
  • Standards-aligned resources: There are over 3000 standards-aligned resources available, some are vendor-created, others were created by Indiana teachers. Click on Library -- Find Resources -- Published/Shared Resources. If you have questions about using the Learning Connection you can visit the Learning Connection Help Site or contact the support staff.
The Challenge

If you don’t already have one, create a Learning Connection account, search for some resources to use in your classroom, search for and add some contacts, and search for and join some communities. Start researching and collaborating!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Day 29 -- Bonus Post -- Facebook

This blog post comes from Dr. Tony Bennett, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The Indiana Department of Education is focused on preparing all students for success in a 21st century economy. Key to this mission is recognizing the powerful role technology plays in fueling the global economy and spreading information from one source to another.

Today’s classroom is very different than the one in which I studied. Not too long ago, I visited a group of elementary schoolers who were blogging for their daily English assignment.

My favorite technology tool is easily the iPad. I love its portability and find it very easy to use. My favorite application is the Facebook tool. Every day, millions of people connect and spread ideas via social networking sites—and Facebook is perhaps the world’s most successful Web 2.0 endeavor.

Having instant access to family members, friends and colleagues is an ability many young people take for granted. But to me, this new platform for holding an open dialogue with so many influential people is powerful and priceless.

As I travel across the state, visiting Indiana’s diverse school communities, I often run into educators, parents and students who mention an article or status posted on my Facebook page. Their ability to keep up with my day-to-day thoughts and experiences creates a new level of openness between the state superintendent’s office and the field. My ability to read their messages and ask for their insights with just the click of a “post” button is invaluable.

As we continue to create new avenues for schools and students to succeed via technology, I look forward to watching local schools innovate with Facebook. Many school corporations, schools and classes already have Facebook pages that attract interest and participation from parents, educators and students.

Facebook has the power to connect people and groups who would otherwise never cross paths. Imagine our educators and students harnessing this full potential in a classroom setting. If you’re writing a book report, why not leave a class question on the author’s official Facebook page? If you want to connect with community organizations and stakeholders, why not share the amazing learning going on in your school on their page? Lastly, teachers can post information and reminders on their class pages to keep both students and parents informed.

These ideas are just a starting point. As usual, real innovation will take place at the local level. Of course, all student use of Facebook in the classroom should be monitored by teachers to ensure student safety and appropriate usage. Keeping our kids in a healthy learning environment is always the top priority.

As we chart a new path in the digital age, it’s important to remember our commitment to providing all students the educational opportunities they deserve. This means providing all students access to the digital tools that will dominate this new era of innovation.

That’s why our department has taken important steps to make sure local school leaders can more easily integrate technology into the classroom. Textbook dollars can now be used to purchase laptops. We’ve provided millions of dollars in innovation grants to help school corporations purchase digital curriculum tools.

Working together, we can build on recent gains to ensure our students are prepared to compete and win in the digital age. Thanks, and feel free to leave me a message on Facebook!

Day 29 -- Intel in Education

Today's guest bloggers are teachers from around the country involved in the Intel Education initiative.

Three Examples of Making Thinking Visible Using Free Online Resources

1) HAVE YOU EVER BEEN IN LOVE? Making Thinking Visible with Visual Ranking

Digital Learning Day might be a kick-off to the month of February but I consider this month the time of love, chocolate, valentines…and online tools. You might be wondering if online tools are online dating sites but NOT in this case; I am actually referring to online teaching resources. I define love as a sense of never being let down, always being accessible and most importantly, someone that makes me look good. I have found that and more in the Intel Thinking Tools. I like all the tools but I am in love with the Visual Ranking Tool. I think if it were on an online dating site then its profile would look something like this...

Screen Name: VisualRanking4U
Tag line: A 21st century educational tool looking for the right educator
About me and who I am looking for: Looking for someone who thinks for themselves, but not for everyone around them. Someone who is willing to drag, drop, collaborate and comment when necessary. You must love innovative ways to integrate technology into the curriculum or at least willing to give it a try.
Favorite Things: Ranking (of course), Reflecting, Ordering, Prioritizing, Analyzing
Favorite Hot Spots: Classrooms across the World (Intel tools are offered in 9 languages), Intel Teach website and the Teachers Engage site for sharing and learning with others.

I love the ability to create an activity on the fly. In my last lesson using the tool, my students had three locations to research and had to find the best place for a summer vacation. They then ranked the locations from most desirable to least and created comments on the first and last factors to compare with other groups after their research was complete. The tool provided a great venue for students to voice their findings online and compares their thinking with other students in an organized and creative way.

The Challenge:

Try a demo of the Visual Ranking Tool and visit the help infographic. How could you use this tool in your classroom?

Looking for tech love in all the right online places
Susan Gauthier, Library Media Specialist
Baton Rouge, LA

2) SEEING REASON: Showing Cause and Effect Relationships

As a middle school science teacher, I often look for ways in which my students can “show” deeper thinking. One of my favorite options is the Seeing Reason tool, which is incredible in how it focuses students on the concept of cause and effect relationships (and it is free!). One of the Seeing Reason projects I created was titled “Manipulating the Ecosystem”. Our core asks students to identify the cause and effects of mankind's involvement in the world. Over two class periods, students collaborated in teams and worked to create their own cause and effect maps.

Their research data (revealed by clicking on a factor) show how certain factors cause other factors to increase or decrease. Students also included how their own choices influence their main factor of “Global Warming”.

Glen Westbroek
Middle School Science Teacher
Orem, Utah

3) INTEL® TEACH ELEMENTS: It's All about the Collaboration!

Have you had an opportunity to check out Intel® Teach Elements: Collaboration in the Digital Classroom? It is an amazing interactive elearning course that offers an in-depth look at collaboration with a focus on online collaborative tools. Teachers see how collaboration helps students develop 21st century thinking skills, deepen content understanding, and prepare them for the global world. It also helps manage collaboration activities that integrate online collaborative tools increasingly part of our globally connected workplaces. This course has allowed me to dig deeper into quality materials and resources to collaborate with educators around the world. It has also provided online web 2.0 literacy resources- such as creative ideas on how to maximize the use of blogs, wikis and back channel chats to allow for every student to have a critical voice in the k12 learning experience. It has also provided key resources for me as educator to differentiate between the collaboration tools and identify the right tool to get the job done with a focus on student learning. This collaboration e-course is the "just-in-time" resource to motivate and engage ALL educators to enrich their 21st century classroom experience and to excite each and every one of your students- and it is all FREE!

Naomi Harm
Innovative Educator and Technology Consultant
Brownsville, MN

The Challenge

Check out these and the many other teaching tools at the Intel Education site or join their online community of educators.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Day 28 -- WordPress Multi-User (WPMU)

Today's guest blogger is Nathan Davidson, Manager of Technology Integration, MSD of Wayne Township.

Almost two years ago, I had multiple teachers contact me about starting a blog. I found out that some really wanted to blog, but most teachers wanted a website to communicate with parents, display student work, and post announcements. The problem was my district didn’t have a website tool to offer teachers. So what did teachers do? They took the matter into their own hands and created their own sites using Wikispaces, PBWorks, Blogger, Weebly and others of which I’m probably not aware.

So I needed to find a solution. After researching a number of different options, I gravitated towards a blogging tool called WordPress. There is a commercial site that anyone in the world can use, but there is also a multi-user version called WPMU. School districts or universities can install the software for free. You just need a server and someone with the knowledge to set it up.

Why did we go this route? I had specific criteria when selecting a web tool for my teachers. For schools, I think WPMU makes a lot of sense. Here’s why...
  • Cost--We already had a district technician who could install the server software. There was also an available server. Since the software was free, the only cost was time to get it up and running.
  • Flexibility--Some web tools lock you into certain templates and functions. With WPMU, you can install hundreds of templates for free. That allows you teachers to do some customization and personalize their sites. Also, there are a number of free plugins that allow users to post pictures, embed videos, connect to social media, and more.
  • Mobility--There is a free mobile app for iOS, Android, and Blackberry. Since half our users have smartphones, this was an attractive feature. With the mobile app, you can manage the content of your blog from your phone or tablet. This includes adding blog posts, pages, images/video, and even moderating comments.
  • Scalability--Since WordPress is open source, there are pretty consistent version changes and updates. As updates are available, this allows for scaling of features and usability. It’s to the point now where most themes and plugins from work perfectly well in WPMU. Also, you have the ability to have unlimited blogs and users. There’s even the ability to have student blogs moderated by a teacher. Pretty amazing!
  • Ease of Use--In a one hour training, teachers are up and running with the basics. This was important for me as teachers needed to get off the ground quickly without a steep learning curve.
In almost two years, there are nearly 600 sites running at Wayne Township. I also know Westfield Washington and Perry Township have teachers creating blogs in WPMU as well. If you’d like to check out teacher blogs at those sites, check out the links below. WPMU is a fantastic web tools that’s easy to use and very cost effective for schools!
The Challenge

Would you like a classroom website? Have you looked into the options that you have? If WPMU sounds like a good opportunity for your school, share this post with your school or district technology staff and have a conversation about classroom blogs and websites.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Day 27 -- Conceptboard

Today's guest blogger is Janice Curtis, Technology Curriculum Director at Plymouth Community School Corporation.


Where have we heard it before? 
Create.  Collaborate. 
Communicate.  Critical Thinking.

One way to accomplish the 4 C's is to use Web 2.0 annotation tools. allows users to annotate any type of document or image in REAL TIME!  I'll give you some ideas while showing you some features below:

  • upload a document or an image which will appear on the board
    • curate an article by highlighting
    • insert points on an image of a graph
    • peer edit & collaborate
    • upload multiple images for group representation of a concept
  • take a screenshot and place it on the board
    • demonstrate an application
    • analyze a Website
  • select a scribble tool
    • freehand an idea
    • use for math
    • annotate by highlighting with circles, arrows, highlighters
  • place a comment which points to something on the board
    • comment on making a project better
    • comment on the important points of an article
    • comment on a better way to perform an activity

Editing buttons are for images you upload and comment boxes
  • hand tool to move your board - to prove a point
  • fullscreen removes the header - for a class presentation
  • color picker houses the palette where lines, borders are edited - who doesn't like to edit?
The outline and history buttons are for content management
  • outline is a table of contents you choose - click on an element on your board to start creating a table of contents
  • history shows you all conversations on board  - when you click onto a comment in the history panel, the board will slide to that particular comment
Export if needed  

    • Use the gear wheel to change settings (on top of toolbar)

    • Export as PDF or PNG (image) file

    This video from the conceptboard site will give you some examples of social annotating using Conceptboard: 

    1. Invite students to share a conceptboard with their email
    2. Free subscription for up to 25 boards
    3. Special Features Section :  meetings, presentation, file sharing, screen sharing, access to guests without registering and much more. (I sound like an ad!)
    The Challenge

     Create a free Conceptboard account and explore the site. How can use this resource in your classroom?

    Sunday, February 26, 2012

    Day 26 -- Voki - the free avatar tool for learning

    Our guest blogger today is Todd Whitlock, Technology/Curriculum/Testing Coordinator, North Daviess Community School Corporation.

    If you are a teacher that has the student that never participates or maybe those kids that just don’t seem to want to pay attention maybe crating a Voki is for you. Maybe you are that principal that is always looking for ways to spruce up those morning announcements or welcome messages for student and parent programs and your web page – maybe Voki is for you. Create speaking Avatars to use them as an effective learning tool.

    Whatever your role or need may be you may find that Voki is a tool you can use. What is Voki? Voki allows users to express themselves using their own voice or a computer generated voice through a talking character. The web site says “Voki is a combination of "vox", which is Latin for voice, and "Loki", which, is a prankster character in Norse Mythology.” Prankster – maybe that is why I think this is a pretty cool tool!

    English Version of Welcome

    Spanish Version of Welcome

    So what are some ways I could use Voki in my classroom. The voki lesson plan database has many idea and lesson plans for using Voki in the classroom. Student can demonstrate and give material back to teachers using their own voice. Some of the most common uses are for elementary and foreign language students to give oral presentations using their voice and creating their own avatar.

    More Common Uses* Students can create avatars that are similar in looks or personalities and record a message that tells about themselves.
    * Students can exchange these avatars within their own setting or anywhere in the world.
    * Students can generate questions to and exchange them with each other.
    * English as a Second Language students can use the speaking avatars to practice and listen to their speech (own or computer)
    * Writing, reading and pronunciation can be practiced.
    * Students can create an avatar that resembles a character from a story, add a setting and give it speech.

    Strengths of the tool include:
    * Free
    * Fun and User-Friendly
    * Easy to embed in a variety of ways
    * Student can record their won voice with a phone or microphone
    * Requires students to carefully organize their ideas and thoughts
    * Many Languages supported

    Some of the weaknesses of the tool include:
    * Limited recording time
    * Email address is need to for registration (for those without student email accounts)
    * You may have to type some words phonetically to have the computer voice sound correct
    * It can be TOO MUCH FUN and result in off-tasks time

    The Teachers’ Corner is also a great resource to get questions answered.

    The Challenge

    Your challenge is to create a lesson that allows your students to create or show mastery of content using a Voki. Post the lesson and a sample of student work to the Learning Connection Community – Indiana Project Library to share with others.