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.

    Saturday, February 25, 2012

    Day 25 -- HIPPOCAMPUS: Powered by NROC

    Today's post comes from HippoCampus. The IDOE is partnering with NROC and will be providing access to their content for all Indiana educators in the very near future. Stay tuned through the Learning Connection in the EdTech Connect Community for more information about this valuable resource., a free, public website for high school and college students, is an outgrowth of the National Repository of Online Courses or NROC (pronounced "n-rock"). The Monterey Institute of Technology and Education (MITE, pronounced "mighty") created NROC and to further MITE's mission to improve quality education for everyone.

    NROC provides high-quality, curricularly rigorous, multimedia content on general education subjects for high school and college students. NROC was designed as a member-sustained Open Educational Resource that high schools and colleges could host in their own learning management systems (LMS) and adapt for use by teachers and students at little or no cost.

    NROC developed HippoCampus as a homework help site for students. Today it serves over 250,000 visitors a month. Because over half of the users are teachers projecting HippoCampus content into their classrooms, we redesigned the site to accommodate new content collections, highlight discipline-specific resources, and enable the creation and sharing of custom “playlists”.

    Watch this quick video overview of the newly redesigned HippoCampus website:

    Take a more in-depth tour of the New HippoCampus with HippoCampus Product Manager Beth Pickett.

    The Challenge

    Try New HippoCampus yourself. Create a free account and try to use the new playlist feature to create custom drag-and-drop playlists.

    Friday, February 24, 2012

    Day 24 -- Khan Academy: A Free Virtual Education

    Today's guest Blogger is Jason Roseberry.  Jason is assistant principal at Scottsburg Middle School, District 1:1 Coordinator, and a member of the IDOE eLearning Leadership Cadre.  You can follow him on Twitter @Mr_Roseberry3b or at his blog, 3 Bee Brothers.

    If you are a math teacher looking for a way to supplement your instruction, differentiate your curriculum, "flip" your classroom, or move to a digital curriculum and you haven't heard of Khan Academy, then just what have you been doing this past year?  This TED Talk from 2011 featuring Salman Khan is required viewing for those who have been living under a rock.

    Khan Academy is the creation of Salman Khan, who wanted to find a better way to help his cousins with their math homework. What started off as a video on Youtube has expanded to 2,800 videos covering topics such as math, physics, finance, and even history. In addition, there are 300 practice exercises which students can move through at their own pace. Using a Google or Facebook username/password, Khan will keep track of a student's progress and report this information back to their teacher. If your students are under 13, you can apply to get a Google App account for your school.

    How much does it cost? Nothing. Zilch. Zero. Khan Academy is a non-profit company with the goal of creating the world's first free virtual school. There are networks of volunteers working to subtitle and translate videos. As of this moment, there are four million students using Khan in 16 different languages.

    Check out this informative video from The Gates Notes on how some teachers at the original pilot school in the Los Altos School District in California feel about their Khan Academy experience.

    There are at least four different ways I have seen Khan used in classrooms:

    Supplementing Current Instruction
    There are Khan videos for almost every Common Core Standard. We have teachers who are posting the Khan video for the standard they are covering each day to their website or digital learning environment (My Big Campus). If the student gets home and can't remember how to do that problem, they have a place to go and find the answer.  When I was in school, the best I could hope for was to check the answers for the odds in the back of the book.  Students today can take a teacher home with them.  Posting Khan videos is a great "first step" for teachers just getting started with technology and wanting to experiment with their curriculum. It requires no student login, as the videos are freely available on youtube,, etc. In addition, there are many other ways to download the videos offline for student consumption so that you can get around internet filtering.

    Differentiating Your Curriculum
    I know that the word differentiation has almost become a dirty word. It is what we know we need to do to affect student learning, but the one thing we have the greatest problem actually implementing in a classroom setting. If you have the ability to get your students on devices (1:1 program, laptop carts, iPads, computer lab) even once a week, then you can have each student working at their specific level at the same time. My teachers gets their students logged in, and then monitor their progress on the coach's dashboard. All students start with basic addition, and move quickly depending on their current knowledge-base. After one or two sessions, each student will be covering concepts at their specific level until they show mastery.

    Khan defines mastery as seven correct in a row. It does accommodate a miss on question seven, by only asking the student to answer three or four more correctly. Through the coach's panel, teachers can see which students are flying (blue), struggling (orange), or stagnant (red). Students struggling or stagnant can be pulled aside in small groups for remediation on that specific concept while the other students are working on Khan at their own level. Eureka! True differentiation!

    The "Khan Way"
    After writing the blog, "Khan Academy for Two-year-olds? I Guinea-Pig My Own Kids," I was contacted by a representative from Khan about becoming a Khan school. Working with an original pilot school in the Los Altos School District in California, the Khan team developed a plan for how they would like to have schools use Khan. While I won't go into the specific details, it involved the student spending about 30 minutes a day on Khan (at home or at school) watching videos and taking assessments. Khan became the primary source for the teaching, which freed the teacher to look at more "real-life" applications or projects. While this isn't an option we were interested in at the time, it will be very interesting to look at the data once this pilot has been completed.

    Assessment Only
    We have teachers who completely ignore the videos and just have their students work through the assessment. It gives teachers and students an amazing amount of data about what they really know and where they need help. This is also an easy option if YouTube videos are blocked in your building and you don't want to have to bother the IT department to get the offline videos working. As a teacher, you can set this up yourself and have complete control. I hear that teachers like control.

    Wrath of Khan
    I wouldn't be presenting the entire picture if I didn't mention that there are some naysayers and critics when it comes to Salman Khan's Academy.  You can find many blogs like the one at Mathalicious which go beyond basic criticism, and label Khan Academy as "dangerous."  Why the worries?  For starters, Salman Khan doesn't have an education degree.  With the Gates money invested in the non-profit, Khan chose to hire scientists before educators, which ignites the argument of content knowledge vs. instructional skills.  Finally, critics acknowledge Khan is likely to get a lot of use because it is free, but, without a research base to back it up, what cost will this be to our children?

    Final Thoughts
    Our kids deserve to learn using the "tools of their time."  I have seen our students' eyes light up as they have gotten started on Khan Academy and taken control of their own education.  I have also seen these same eyes look bleary and bored after several days of exercises and videos.  What's my verdict?  Khan Academy is one more great tool to use with our students.  Our kids need variety, and the only definite for instruction in any academic area is that the instructional tools must vary.

    All math teachers need to get on Khan Academy at some point.  My teachers have used it as a "gateway instructional tool" in that they now film and post their own math videos.  There is no doubt in my mind that video and education will go hand in hand even more as we move more technology into the classroom and our private lives.  

    I spent a large chunk of my day talking with kids about their math grades, and kid after kid told me that they feel "stupid" asking teachers to demonstrate a problem more than once.  Imagine the power of putting that instruction at their fingertips with the ability to scrub back and forth through specific steps or watch the entire sequence over and over again without judgement from a peer.  

    Self-empowered learning without peer judgement?  

    Where do I sign up?

    The Challenge

    Visit the Khan Academy website. Considering what you see there and what Jason has shared in this post, how do you think you can use Khan Academy in your classroom? If you're already using Khan Academy, share how you use it.

    Thursday, February 23, 2012

    Digital Resource Smackdown

    It's hard to believe there's only a week left in our 29-Day Web 2.0 Challenge. We've had a great response to the blog and hope that you all have found some new resources that you are now using in your classrooms. As a conclusion to this project, we are going to have a digital resource smackdown. This will be an hour-long webinar filled with short introductions to dozens of digital resources and apps. We will have a few presenters, but also will encourage the audience to share there favorite resources, too. Please join us next Thursday, March 1st, at 4pm Eastern. Click here to register for the webinar. 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.

    Day 23 -- Poll Everywhere

    Today’s guest blogger is David Dimmett. David is Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer for Project Lead The Way. He is also a former high school English teacher and school and district administrator. You can find David on Twitter @ddimmett.

    Our Web 2.0 resource of the day is Poll Everywhere.

    For generations, families counted on school to turn students on to learning while connecting them to the world around them. As technology has improved and connectivity has increased, schools have been challenged in unprecedented ways. In 2010, it was suggested that 75% of teens have cell phones. More recent data notes that nearly 104% of the US population has cell phones, meaning that in some cases, Americans have multiple phones.

    The increased number of cell phones has created challenges for many teachers and schools. How do we keep students on task and focused on the content with so much connectivity to others and the outside world? In some cases, this has resulted in punitive measures established to limit cell phone usage and the power of these mobile devices.

    Many teachers realize the positive uses for cell phones, and in some cases, the technology in students’ pockets and backpacks creates unique learning opportunities. One positive use for cell phones in the classroom is through Poll Everywhere. Poll Everywhere is a tool for capturing responses to questions through cell phone or internet inputs. It is an effective way to keep students interested, gather real-time data, and demonstrate positive uses for newer technologies in the classroom.

    There are numerous videos on how to use Poll Everywhere in the classroom. A couple are noted below. video tutorial

    DiscoveryEducation video tutorial

    The Challenge

    Create a Poll Everywhere account and use a poll in one of your next lessons or presentations. Students or audience members can input their responses via cell phones or any device connected to the internet.

    Additionally, as your school and community have conversations regarding policies to limit cell phones or other tools, try to think of the non-punitive uses of these devices and how we can demonstrate for students and others responsible digital citizenry. The “distractions” of technology are a reality for all of us. The more we model effective use and best practices, the better prepared we will be for the next generation of technological advances.

    Wednesday, February 22, 2012

    Day 22 -- Diigo - Social Bookmarking and More

    Our guest blogger today is Robbie Grimes, Technology Integration Specialist at MSD of Wayne Township. Robbie currently serves as the HECC conference co-chair and is co-founder of EdTechZone. Twitter: @robbiegrimes

    We've all had that moment at one point or another. You're talking with someone about an incredible educational resource and you say, "Oh, let me find it on the web," only to find that you don't remember what the name was, the address, the search terms you used when you first found it etc., etc....Enter Diigo.

    Diigo is an online social bookmarking tool that allows the user to keep a list of websites in a place where they are always accessible…on the web. Not only that, but while doing research, the user can highlight (in four different colors), annotate, and post sticky notes to a webpage for review later. This is a perfect tool for students (doing research) and teachers (collecting educational resources) who want to organize and make notes on their collections in specific ways.

    ^Add notes ^

    ^Highlight text in different colors^

    When the user creates a bookmark to a webpage, the ability to “tag” or label the bookmark allows the user to categorize and ultimately find the resource later much more quickly than trying to remember the search terms that were used to initially find the site. For example, in my Diigo account, I have numerous web links/resources tagged with the term “video”. This term relates to YouTube videos I’ve found, online video editing tools, and online video file conversion sites like ZamZar and KeepVid. The latter, however, I also tagged with “conversion”. Therefore, I can do a search for “video conversion” and I’ll only get those resources that I’ve tagged as such. It makes organizing and finding resources later a much less stressful process.

    The user can also organize bookmarks into lists that can be shared and/or “followed.” I have a list called “21st Centrury Learning Tools” where I put Web2.0 tools, resources for digital citizenship, Prezi links, etc. With lists, I don’t have to do a tag search for items, nor do I need to edit each item and add a “21st Century” tag so I can search for and find all of the tools I need. They are all conveniently located in one list. Users can also "follow" other users as well as lists they create.

    There is a Diigolet plugin for your web browser that lets you bookmark websites much easier than copy URL, open Diigo, add book mark, paste, tag etc. You can bookmark the resource right from the browser window. You can even add sticky notes and highlight directly from the plugin. When you highlight, the site is bookmarked automatically and the highlight and/or annotations are automatically documented in your Diigo account. There’s even a Diigo app called “PowerNote” (Android only, currently) that you can use on your mobile device(s).

    You can also apply for a Diigo Educator Account. With this premium account, you can set up accounts for your students and communicate with them privately in a safe environment. It is free, so there are still ads, but the ads are educationally relevant.

    Diigo…don’t leave home...class…or at least your PC…without it.

    The Challenge

    Create an account and explore Diigo. How can you use Diigo to organize your websites and resources? Do you see a way to use Diigo to share resources with students, parents, or other educators?

    Tuesday, February 21, 2012

    Day 21 -- Google Apps For Education

    Our guest blogger today is Chris Atkinson. Chris is an assistant principal at College Wood Elementary in Carmel Clay Schools. Chris is a Google Certified Teacher, HECC Board member, avid ed. tech blogger, tweeter, and podcaster. You can find him on Twitter @ChrisLAtkinson, and blogging/podcasting at and at
    Want to engage students? Want to go paperless? Want to create a collaborative culture for your staff and students? Google Apps is a set of free tools that will allow you to create, communicate, and collaborate at a whole new level!

    What is Google Apps For Education?

    Google Apps for Education is a free, and advertisement free, set of tools that includes a core suite of tools and access to 60+ other Google services.   The core suite of tools offered to all levels of education are: Google Docs, Gmail, Google Sites, Google Calendar, and Google Video.  Having a dedicated Apps For Ed domain/account allows a district to control tools and manage users.  

    I could share pages upon pages of examples and information on Google Apps for Education (GAFE), but in the interest of brevity I'd like to highlight two of my favorite tools within the GAFE suite: Google Docs and Google Sites.  

    Google Docs:
    Google Docs is a cloud-based document creator that has the power of simultaneous collaboration.  You can create and collaborate on documents, spreadsheets, drawings, and forms.  This video, though a year old, gives a great overview of the features of google docs.

    There is now a new look for docs:

    The next video highlights the ability for simultaneous collaboration as well as commenting:

    Think of all the possibilities: paper-free classrooms, e-portfolios, good-bye flash drives, district data warehouses, collaborative writing, collaborative lesson plans, presentations anywhere and everywhere, professional development forms, parent surveys... the possibilities are endless!

    Google Sites:
    Remember the days when everyone spent hours coding HTML, or trying to navigate the waters of programs like Frontpage?  I'm thankful those days are over.  I'm also thankful that Google Sites makes website creation so simple that even a 4th grader can create a website in less than a minute! (I've seen 4th graders do this!)

    Need I say more? E-portfolios, professional development, class pages, student projects, the list goes on an on!

    So what are you waiting for, why not join the revolution?  Become a part of the 12+ million GAFE users around the world! Transform your learning, teaching, leadership, and productivity; all for free!  Check out the following links, and make sure to connect to the Great Lakes Regional GAFE user group here: Great Lakes GAFE User Group.

    Other Relevant Links and Resources:

    The Challenge

    1.  If you have never tried Google Docs start with your own public account
    2.  Like using Google Docs?  Can you see the power in using with your class?  Talk to your school leadership and see if you have Google Apps For Ed in your district. If not work with your tech team to get started at
    3.  Join the Great Lakes GAFE user group:  Great Lakes GAFE User Group

    Monday, February 20, 2012

    Day 20 -- Quizlet -- Online Flashcards

    Today's guest blogger is Sandy Stabenfeldt, the SW Site Coordinator with the PATINS Project.

    Today we are going to introduce online flashcards. These flashcards can be a great study tool for students of all ages. Online flashcards offer many advantages. Users can not only quiz themselves but also mix them up, tag them, and import/export their cards. They can also find new sets that have already been created and can share their sets.

    Quizlet is the largest flash cards and study games website with over 9 million free sets of flashcards covering every possible subject. It's a place to play educational games, memorize vocabulary and study online. Teachers or students can make or find flashcards with their own terms and definitions or they can choose from millions of flashcard sets created by other users.

    Quizlet includes powerful study tools. Flashcard Mode lets you familiarize yourself with the material. Speller Mode uses audio to have you type what you hear. Learn Mode is the most powerful study mode, keeping track of your scores, and retesting incorrect answers. Test Mode generates customizable tests with short-answer, matching, multiple choice and true/false options.

    Students can share and study with their friends or create a group to share. They can also edit and improve sets created by other group members.

    Quizlet includes competitive study games. Scatter is a fun matching game which lets you drag and drop questions and answers with your mouse while racing against the clock. Space Race is the ultimate video game study simulation. Racing the clock, you type in answers to questions flying overhead before they evade your grasp.

    Students can study on the go. Quizlet can be used with over 50 mobile apps on iPhone, iPad, and Android.

    Quizlet gives your students a free study tool that's both powerful and fun.  Host a group where your students can create and discuss study materials for your class.

    This link to the Quizlet website will show you how to get started making a set of flashcards.

    This link is to a broadcast created in Jing, which was highlighted in a previous post, and describes the export process.  This allows a user to export flashcard sets already created and then to edit them without starting from scratch.

    This link is to the Quizlet website and describes mobile applications which can be used in conjunction with Quizlet.

    Other online flashcard websites similar to

    Flashcard Exchange
    Flashcard Machine

    The Challenge

    Create a set of flashcards for your students to study.  Check out sets that are already created.  Check with your students, you may be surprised to find out they are already using online flashcards.  I spoke with a student recently who shared this with her teacher and now her teacher allows her students to use their mobile devices to study their English terms.

    Sunday, February 19, 2012

    Day 19 -- VoiceThread

    Our guest blogger today is Michele Eaton, 2nd grade teacher at Chapelwood Elementary in MSD of Wayne Township. You can find Michele on Twitter @lyonmi.

    What is VoiceThread?

    VoiceThread is a web-based presentation and slideshow tool that allows users to post images, documents, videos, and presentations online.  Once uploaded, these presentations can be narrated by a single person or become the background for a recorded conversation between several people.  Users also have the ability to record annotations over the presentation while speaking.  The conversations on each slide can be recorded in several ways.  Users can leave audio comments with a microphone, web camera, or telephone.  Audio files can also be uploaded, and written comments can be left with no sound.

    Below is a VoiceThread tutorial provided by the website that demonstrates the basics on creating this type of presentation:


    Educators have a couple options when setting up accounts for their students.  If the students have an email address, they can each sign up for a free VoiceThread account individually.  There is also an educator version that a teacher or school can pay for that allows student accounts to be created without an email.

    Another free option is to create a teacher account and use "identities" to represent each of the students in a classroom.  Every user has the ability to post under an unlimited number of aliases referred to as identities. While this is a free option for teachers, it is more difficult to monitor posts as each alias can not be moderated as easily.  It is not an additional account, but rather an extension of one user.  View the following VoiceThread to see how to set up multiple identities and the implications of doing so:


    How to Use VoiceThread in the Classroom

    VoiceThread is a free tool that does not require the download of any application.  This particular aspect makes it a great choice for teachers and students when an assignment requires conversation or presentation of some kind.  Below is an extensive list of activities that can be best supported through the use of VoiceThread.  

    • Because VoiceThread allows multiple users to comment on a single slide, this tool becomes a great medium for classroom debates or discussions.  
    • VoiceThread can also be used in conjunction with De Bono's 6 Thinking Hats.  If you are unfamiliar with this discussion strategy, you may be interested in reading the following blog post that I wrote about a year ago on this topic, when I was just beginning to explore the possibilities of VoiceThread in my own classroom.  VoiceThread and De Bono's 6 Thinking Hats
    • Digital Storytelling is a great activity that can be done using this web tool, particularly with young students.  VoiceThread presentations can provide young children with story retell and summarization practice, as well.
    • A student can create a digital portfolio of their best work and use the voice-over feature to easily explain their learning or thinking regarding various documents or images. 
    • VoiceThread can also be a tool for reflection and peer revision for writing assignments.
    • A teacher interested in flipping the classroom could post presentations and leave voice comments, creating a lecture that students can view from home.  
    • Students can use this tool to create presentations describing math concepts or the individual steps in a process.  For these particular activities, both the audio and annotation tools would be very helpful. Multiple students could share various ways to solve a problem on a single slide.
    • Students can reflect on a text or story using various reading strategies as a lens for their comments.
    • When asking students to create a presentation or project in a collaborative group, VoiceThread is an effective tool to use, because multiple students can edit the presentation from remote locations.  This can be done simultaneously or at different times.  
    • For more tips and ideas on how to use VoiceThread in the classroom or to contribute your own thoughts, visit the wiki VoiceThread 4 Education.
    The Challenge

    Michele has shared a lot of great ideas of how to use VoiceThread in education. What are your initial thoughts about using VoiceThread in your classroom?

    Saturday, February 18, 2012

    Day 18 -- Evernote: Duly Noted Everywhere

    "Evernote is the application I recommend for use for both teachers and students to lead change. It is a dynamic way to take notes for research and productivity."


    Evernote is like a second brain helping you keep track of things from receipts to Web sites. Evernote is an online notebook working on multiple devices allowing you to store:

    • pictures
    • text notes
    • audio notes
    • handwritten notes
    • Web site clippings
    • lists

    The best thing is not that it stores all of this information, but how easy it is to retrieve it. Evernote searches all of your information by using tags you assign, timestamps, and location. It has an excellent keyword search, even finding words in pictures and graphics. You can organize notebooks or take quick notes on the go.


    You can keep your notes to your self or easily share them through social networks, email, or posting on the Web. Here is a simple shared notebook on learning spaces.

    How You Can Use It

    How Your Students Can Use It

    The Challenge

    Have you used Evernote? If so, share how you've used it. Are you going to start using it? Keep in mind that you can access your Evernotes from any computer or mobile device.

    Friday, February 17, 2012

    Day 17 -- Gooru - A Way to Curate Digital Content

    Today's guest blogger is Brett Clark, eLearning Coach at Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation. You can find Brett on Twitter @mr_brett_clark and at

    Today we are going to introduce you to Gooru, a website that allows science and math teachers to curate the best resources available on the internet. With Gooru you can search for digital resources from fifth grade through high school.  The resources include digital textbooks, videos, interactive websites, discussion questions, slides, handouts, lessons, exams, and more.  All resources are vetted by teachers and the content experts at Gooru, so you don't have to sift through all the massive amount of subpar resources you get through a normal search engine.

    I tend to separate Gooru into two areas, resources and collections.  Resources is the area where you store individual resources you find using Gooru. Collections are "packets" of resources you can build and populate with your resources or search for collections already made.  Once you find resources/collections you like, simply click and drag them to the resource/collection bar.  Here is a brief demo on some of the resources available on Gooru.

    This website has a lot of potential and will continue to get better.  As a word of caution, Gooru is designed to work best with Google Chrome, Safari, or FireFox.  I invite you sign up for an account and play!  

    The Challenge

    Create an account in Gooru and explore the site. How will you use this in your classroom? Be sure you share this and other resources that we've been blogging about with other teachers at your school or in your school district.

    Thursday, February 16, 2012

    Day 16 -- Educreations

    Educreations - A Recordable Whiteboard for Instruction

    Today's guest blogger is Lorie Homan from Noblesville Schools

    With students having tools to access online information more than ever before, wouldn’t it be great to to be able to create lessons that are accessible to students outside of the classroom? There is! A free iPad app called Educreations allows the user to create podcasts of lessons that can be accessed on an iPad or the web site.

    The Educreations App turns your iPad into a recordable whiteboard. Creating a great video tutorial is as simple as touching, tapping and talking. It allows a student or teacher the ability to explain a math problem or annotate a diagram with voice recording, digital ink, and photo imports. These recordings can then be shared through email, Facebook, or Twitter.

    Once recordings are created, these videos can also be accessed through A link is generated to give to students to register and create a free account to view these recordings.

    The Challenge

    Do you have access to iPad? Try out the Educreations app. Check the Educreations home page to see some sample videos and get some idea of how you can use Educreations in your classroom. How are you going to to use Educreations?

    Wednesday, February 15, 2012

    Day 15 -- Twitter for PD

    Our guest blogger today is Theresa Shafer with the New Tech Network.

    I live in rural Indiana, but my office is in Napa, California, I telecommute. We often tell our students we are preparing them for jobs that don't exist yet. I have a job that certainly didn't exist back in 1990 when I graduated from Butler University. My job is to facilitate communication and connections both between our 85 New Tech Network schools across the nation and with innovative educators world wide. We connect in a number of ways virtually, but for this Web 2.0 Challenge, we are going to focus on Twitter!

    There are many ways you can use Twitter in your classroom, but we are going to talk about Twitter as a way for you to create your own personal learning network online.

    If you are new to Twitter, here is a great video tutorial  from Common Craft to get you started. Watch the video then click on over to Twitter and sign up. Choose your twitter name carefully. You want it to be short, easy to type and keep in mind you will  likely have colleagues and community members as followers
    Speaking of followers, who will you follow? It isn't all about the Kardashians and Justin Bieber! A few of my favorites are @cybraryman, @web20Classroom, I even follow children's author, @judyblume and of course, follow me, @TheresaShafer.

    One of the best ways I have found to form my Twitter PLN is through the use of hashtags. A hashtag is a key word preceded by the # sign and identifies the tweet as containing information around a certain topic. This makes the topic searchable.  For example when you are on Twitter, search for any of the hashtags on this list to find the subject, grade level or topic you are interested in.

    Now on to my new favorite Twitter activity, Twitter Chats. There are many (over 600 chats) that happen on Twitter through out the week. I most often participate in #edchat and the one that I moderate as my other Twitter name, @NewTechNetwork,  is  #PBLChat. PBLChat is on Tuesday nights at 9pm EST and we discuss all things around Project Based Learning. An excellent way to get your feet wet with a Twitter Chat is to simply check out the chat archive. I use Storify to archive our chat, others create a wiki or even a google doc.  I use the tool Tweet Chat for participating.  You go to Tweet Chat, type in the hashtag you want to watch and off you go. You can choose to simply "lurk" and follow the conversation or jump right in and tweet your own questions, solutions or thoughts. The cool thing about Tweet Chat is it adds the hashtag for you! Blogger for Edutopia and PBL author Suzie Boss wrote about this chat a few weeks ago and can give you additional insights.

    I have gained so much from building a network on Twitter, I talk often with a PBL educator from Australia, have had tweets from Daniel Pink, get insights from Indiana's own Yancy Unger, I offer solutions, ask questions but most importantly I learn everyday. No where else but during our #PBLChat have I had a deep discussion around homework purposes and policies that included teachers, parents, administrators and students. I encourage everyone to reach out beyond the halls of your own building and see through the lens of others. If you have any questions tweet me @theresashafer, @newtechnetwork or send me an email! See you in the twitterverse.

    The Challenge

    Are you on Twitter? Share your Twitter handle and some of your favorite people or groups to follow. What about hashtags that you follow? How are you using Twitter to get some professional development or to build a PLN? If you are not on Twitter, sign up for an account, select some people to follow, and start sharing and learning. You might even download TweetDeck, which helps you organize your follows.

    Tuesday, February 14, 2012

    Day 14 -- Poster Yourself on Glogster

    Today's guest blogger is Sara Hunter, 3rd grade teacher at Union Elementary School, Zionsville Community Schools.

    Glogster EDU is a dynamic web based tool for creating interactive virtual posters containing multimedia elements including text, audio, video, images, graphics, drawings, and data.  Educators and students alike will find an engaging and user-friendly platform that offers limitless choices in purpose, design, embedded multimedia, and safe teacher-monitored accounts.

    Why Glogster EDU?  These high school gloggers have a few good reasons why.

    Glogging kicks blogging up to the next level as students have full creative control of self-expression through virtual blank page.  While text can be incorporated with many cool design features, images, videos, hyperlinks and many web 2.0 tools are easily embedded into glogs with a URL or uploaded from a computer.  Published glogs can be shared in class, on the user's profile, via a specific URL, and can be embedded onto websites, wikis, and blogs.

    The Glogpedia provides inspiration and ideas with top-rated glogs like these:

    Once you have created a Glogster EDU account, it's time to start glogging!  This short tutorial shows just how easy and fun it is to create a glog.

    A few possibilities for student use:

    • Portfolio of student work
    • Map a student's digital footprint
    • Respond to learning in any curriculum areabies.
    • Book reports
    • Research reports
    • Collaborative group projects
    A few possibilites for educator use:

    • "Flip" the classroom with a glog based web quest
    • Multimedia digital scrapbooking
    • Introducing new concepts, vocabulary, etc.
    • Virtual tours
    Happy Glogging!

    The Challenge

    Explore Glogster and think about how it could be useful in your classroom. Will you use it as an instructional tool or will you have your students use Glogster to complete an assisgnment?