Friday, December 18, 2009

Link of the Week #7 - The Gift of Music

I've compiled a playlist of music I'm enjoying right now using the fantastic music streaming site Grooveshark.

Heading into our holiday season, I felt like sharing something slightly less academic.  Of course there are clearly some educational uses for music in the classroom.  Grooveshark makes finding specific songs and playlists simple and allows you build your own mixes from music you discover as well as music from your collection.  They also make sharing playlists and songs easy with Twitter and Facebook integration.

Have a listen and happy holidays.

Direct link:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Data Liberation Front

The Data Liberation Front (the Data Liberation Front)

Anyone who has followed me for a while knows that I'm a big Googlehead, but that's not to say that some day I might want to take all my Google hosted content elsewhere.

Enter the DLF - "The Data Liberation Front is an engineering team at Google whose singular goal is to make it easier for users to move their data in and out of Google products."

Hooray for data portability.  After all it's mine.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Link of the Week #6 - Google Dictionary

Google Dictionary No, this one won't save any lives or cause a camp out in front of the Apple store, but Google Dictionary is fast, accurate, and ad free (for now).

Star your favorite words. Translate some French (handy for the father of a French immersion student such as myself). Move on to more interesting and engaging tasks.

Hey, it just works.

Google Chrome Extensions: Blog This! (by Google)

Google Chrome Extensions: Blog This! (by Google)

I'm just having so much fun with Google Chrome's freshly enabled extensions. Extensions have been available for a little while now but required a few too many steps to enable for most folks. To try it out for yourself install the Google Chrome Beta and then click on the extensions link on the bottom of the Chrome tabs homepage (the one with the thumbnail shots of your most frequently visited sites) or click here. I'm using Chome's Blog This extension to make this post.


Update: Here's a screen shot of my favorite extensions so far.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Link of the Week #5 - ipadio

Here's a look at a great new phonecasting, podcasting tool called ipadio.

And here is a direct link to my ipadio page.

Here's the transcript from Spin Vox:

Good afternoon, this is link of the week no. 5 and I am testing out a phonecasting site called ipadio. I set up the account. It wasn't too difficult to do from a website and then set up 2 phones, my work phone and my home phone so that I could call from either of those phones and do an ipadio broadcast. Probably would be easier to use a cell phone if you have one which I don't but I have Dan couple little test, ipadio recordings and they turned out pretty well. I actually just did a recording using Audasity(?) which allowed me to do a little bit of editing unlike the phone call and then uploaded that Audasity(?) filed in an MP3 format to my ipadio account and.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

My Blog Isn't Blocked! ... yet

I could sit and stew over my recent day long district wide professional development workshop - going back and forth - it was a disaster, it was a success - maybe to conclude it was both.  But I'll post this reflection tonight because it can't wait and silence is the antithesis of what I set out to do on Monday.

I wanted to share tools for sharing and help build connections with educators in my county.  I learned quickly that most of the tools for sharing are blocked even for staff (Twitter, Ning, YouTube).   Unfortunately, my participants also share access to computers running Windows 98, staff computers running Deep Freeze to prevent "misuse", and a general lack of technology in the classrooms for students. So my presentation must have sounded like the "Wah Wah Wah" of the teacher from Peanuts to some.   

But I still love sharing, and I heard and saw examples yesterday of great uses of blogging in the classroom, using interactive white boards, Moodle courses and using Google Docs.  I could have focussed my session on any one of these tools and been the soul source of information, but instead small groups formed in the afternoon and I let my participants take charge.  Some shared and some received and as a group we covered more.  Hopefully, the sharing won't be completely broken by blocked access and frustration, and the process will continue.  I also admired the willingness, in spite of frustration, to explore resources like Twitter and Ning while we had access together.   

24 hours later I am responding to e-mails, tweets, and forum posts from some of my participants.  I'm excited to start the real work behind my session, making meaningful connections, sharing commonalities, and looking for answers.  And hopefully there are conversations related to our session happening beyond my network; even if it's grumbling about the fact that I talked about a lot ideas and tools that will never see the light of day in their school.

My thanks to all, and my apologies to those who were disappointed with my presentation style and content.  I welcome your feedback and look forward to keeping the conversation going.

I'd also like to share the link to our etherpad document.  It's messy and unrefined, but I love it's potential.  It's also "read only" for purposes of this blog post, just in case ; )

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Link of the Week #4 - Khan Academy

This week's link is Khan Academy, a one man video tutorial powerhouse.

According the website, "We have 1000+ videos on YouTube covering everything from basic arithmetic and algebra to differential equations, physics, chemistry, biology and finance which have been recorded by Salman Khan."

Khan has created so many video tutorials I can't even show the entire catalog in one screenshot.


The only problem may be that these videos are all hosted on YouTube which is blocked in many schools.  That being said there are some fairly simple tools like which will convert and download the file.  FYI, I've recently read that this may violate YouTube's EULA , and therefore recommend that districts consider offering at least teacher access to YouTube to help teachers access the wealth of educational content available on this and other video websites.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

If you build it, they will come - facilitating a blended classroom environment with Moodle chats

Kudo's to Mrs. Manley and her 9th Grade ELA students!  You see, the 9 different school districts that send students to the ATA don't share the same school calendar.  Some of our schools began Thanksgiving vacation last Friday while others won't begin until Tuesday.

How then do you keep the learning momentum of the class when half the class is on vacation?  Homework? Free day?  How about opening a Moodle chat room and allowing students in school and on vacation to participate in a synchronous collaborative lesson?  Check!  Ok, so there was an optional homework assignment for those who could not or chose not to participate, but roughly 11 students did participate in the chat.

In one case, the mother of a student called the ATA just prior to the scheduled chat and explained that their internet was down.  After some discussion of options the student decided to walk to a friends house to get online and participate.   This is big - these students came to class (virtually) on Vacation!  

BTW.  Students in Mrs. Manley's class regularly use Moodle chats in class to facilitate "silent" class discussions after completing assigned work.  And the rules of the chat are always reiterated.  Moodle chat rooms are only accessible to enrolled students with the option of being "turned off" when the teacher is unable to moderate.  A log of the chat, along with each student entry and a tally of total entries is also available.  This makes assessing participation possible and accountability easier to enforce.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Link of the Week #3 - Vocaroo

Looking for a quick, no frills, web based audio recording tool.  Look no further than Vocaroo.  No account sign up, no software to down load.  Just click record, agree to let Vocaroo access your microphone, and click stop recording when you are finished.  You are given a weblink, embed code, and a download file link. Pretty much all you would ever need.

Just remember that the weblink is really your only way back to the recording since there is no account to save it to.  And every recording is more or less public once you share the link or embed the Vocaroo player.  Just for fun you can try it out below.

Powered by Vocaroo

Update: The Vocaroo Server seems to be down at the moment, but hopefully not for long.  In the meantime, I recommend AudioPal.  Recordings are limited to 60 seconds, but the are a few extra features like text-to-speech and phone call recording.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Video Tutorial - Create a collaborative bookmarking and research resource using Google Docs Forms

Social bookmarking sites like Delicious and Diigo are great, but setting up student accounts and teaching students how to use these sites can be time consuming.

Here is a video tutorial on using Google Docs Forms to build a quick collaborative bookmarking and research resource for your class.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Link of the Week #2 - BrainyFlix

Dictionary's are sooo yesterday!  Welcome BrainyFlix and its quieter side BrainPics which promises to build your vocab repertoire by presenting you with a short video or wittily captioned image to help you build a deeper understanding of the word.  These multimedia flashcards would be a great resource for students encountering new vocabulary, but creating your own is where the fun really starts.

Users can submit their BrainyPic or Flix after a simple sign up or by using Facebook Connect.  Sign-up also gives users access to voting and comments.

BrainyPics asks users choose a word from a drop down menu "word bank",  upload a picture, give credit to the photos source :), and then write a caption using the word correctly.  Flix uses a similar word bank, but videos must be uploaded to a video host like YouTube and then embedded.  Submissions receive votes for being either a "great sentence" or "questionable usage", or users can add comments.

"Don't say anything you wouldn't say to your mom" - may not stop comment abuse but it's a good reminder.

This is a great example of students creating their own learning resources and combines basic social networking features that make the site engaging and collaborative. I only wish I could add the word "repertoire".

Friday, November 6, 2009

Link of the Week #1 -

Welcome to the inaugural "Link of the Week" post at the Ed Tech Kit blog!

This week I am featuring a website that describes itself as  "Simple real-time sharing, collaboration, and presentation".  Here's how they put it:

About postcard
This morning I tried it out with a handful of students.  I asked them to answer the question "What is your least favorite school rule? How would you change that rule and why?" Some students used our new netbooks to make a short video in movie maker using the built in webcam and then uploaded it to the "drop".  Others used their cell phones to call in and record their response.  And one student took photographs with her cell phone of the other students using and emailed them to the site from her phone.  

I created the drop, asked the question and KA-POW! the drop was suddenly filled with multiple means of expression (a UDL concept) to the same question.  I could have just as easily asked for a written response uploaded from a doc, e-mailed from a phone, or written as a "note".   Or we could have used the chat or set up a conference call.  And now has integration with facebook and twitter as well.  

Best of all there are numerous ways to handle permissions, editing, and privacy.  

The potential for classroom use is enormous. Students could submit assignments, do collaborative bookmarking, contribute class notes, add photo submissions with commenting, make video responses, or create a podcast.  Student's don't have to be given permission to view the drop by using the e-mail and phone options, so teachers can screen submissions and then use "hidden" links and embedding on a class website or moodle page for sharing.

I hope to share more links like each week and look forward to hearing your comments or examples of using in your school.  

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A tale of homework help - Searching for images in Google Earth using Panoramio

My daughter is learning about continents and cultures in her Grade 2 French Immersion program.  Her homework this week is to gather images that represent these regions and the people who live there.  She could have started by cutting out images from old National Geographics, but we decided to explore the Panoramio layer in Google Earth first.

After showing her how to navigate the controls for zooming in and out and panning across the continents we toured the globe and identified each of the continents.  She chose to look at images from Asia first and started zooming in until Panaramio's blue square icons came into view.  Clicking on the icon opened a photograph of people or landmarks.  She then had to decide if the image met the criteria for the assignment.  Clicking on the image a second time opened the image in a web browser.  We created a notebook for her photos in Zoho Notebook and then dragged the image into the notebook using the Zoho Notebook browser extension.  (Side note: I prefer Google Notebook, but they have discontinued support for the browser extension). Update: a Google Notebook extension for FireFox v. 3.5 can be found here.

Soon she was exploring on her own, finding interesting photos and adding them to her notebook.  She noticed that many areas didn't have photos available which led to a discussion about the natural features like deserts and mountains and why people live closer to water and coastlines.  Afterwards, we looked at her notebook and picked out the photos that best fit the criteria before printing.

I was impressed by how quickly she adapted to the use of the mouse for navigating in Google Earth, her ability to work in multiple applications at once, and her critical thinking skills for selecting appropriate photographs.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Dateline Schools interview with your's truly

I was recently interviewed for a local radio program hosted by my RESA (Regional Education Service Agency). I really enjoyed talking about my school and the work I do as the technology integration consultant.  We discussed the ways in which our school is using Google Docs and Moodle as well as the importance of integrating technology in schools.  Thankfully they've edited out my tongue tied moments, and the result is worth a listen.  I welcome any questions or comments.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Up early this morning looking for best way to update multiple status posts.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

To blog or microblog?

image source:
Last week I "lurked" in on an e-learning course led by Alec Couros featuring edublogger Sue Waters on the topic of Educational Blogging and Personal Learning Networks.  I have been working on developing my blog this year, but often find it languishing with long periods of neglect.  I wonder if I have anything valuable to say and wonder if anyone is listening?

Much of the conversation in last week's blogging discussion centered around the comments and discussions that exist after the blog is posted.  I have not had any comments so far, or so I thought, until I checked a few minutes ago and found that two comments posted weeks ago by my colleague were waiting in my comment moderation queue.  I've opened up my comment moderation settings and set my e-mail notification up so hopefully I won't miss any more.  

Which brings me to the point of my post.  I have also started using Twitter this year -  Sure, many of my posts fall silently into the twitter stream, but some have generated responses or been retweeted.  Because of Twitter I can say that I am being heard and that I am part of a Professional Learning Network.  So far I cannot say the same of blogging.  

So should I continue to blog?  The value of a long form writing platform has its place and I have turned to blogging as public repository for what I've learned and what I feel I can teach.  But the quick format of Twitter has made what I am doing visible to others in a very immediate way and helped connect me with other ed tech professionals.   

What do you think?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Netbooks are coming! The Netbooks are coming!

I'm excited to announce that the Academic Transitional Academy will be purchasing a "bevy" of  Acer Aspire One netbooks to further support our students' learning needs.  Netbooks are smaller than a standard laptop and also less expensive.  This allowed us to purchase more netbooks and the small size should make storage and handling easier.  They aren't as powerful as a standard laptop, but students who have been testing various models have reported that everyday computing tasks like using Moodle and Google Docs work just fine.   Greater access to technology brings many benefits and likely, a few headaches, but hopefully this technology infusion will help make our learning environment more engaging, authentic, and rigorous.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Accessing Moodle on an ipod touch

Today I asked a student to complete his daily warm-up on Moodle using his ipod touch. I was amazed at how quickly he was able to negotiate the links, zoom in and out of the page and use the virtual keyboard to complete his entry faster than many of his classmates.

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Create a grade level writing challenge with Google Docs

Google Docs includes a simple tool for checking  the readability score and grade level readability of anything you write.  Students can easily check their readability score and grade level readability and then use revision strategies to raise their readability scores.

This tool can also be used as a UDL strategy.  Paste an article or shorter reading assignment into Google Docs and check the readability score.  Edit difficult vocabulary, remove extraneous sentences or paragraphs, or rewrite sentences to lower the readability score.

Live - from the skatepark! Using technology and "homework" to engage the brain.

cell nature skate

One of my goals this year is to support learning tools and technology that fire up our students' brains (and hearts) after school. For argument's sake I'll call this "homework" -(boo!).

I wonder what would happen if students were asked to use their cell phones to explain relationships in an ecosystem by taking pictures of examples from hockey practice, the skate park, or the mall. They could submit the photos to a shared photo site online, and the next day the teacher could project these images for a discussion. Finding examples of geometric shapes, literary devices, or genetic traits might also work. And while they are shooting photos that night we might also send a text message quiz question to reinforce a specific concept. The same assignment could be completed with a digital camera and a web posted quiz question (no cell phone), or with hand drawn examples and a sealed envelope quiz question for students with minimal technology (ok, I'm reaching here). But perhaps the incentive of using a cell phone or having your photos used the next day for discussion would entice our "homework loving" students to learn while they live.

I think learning what we teach while engaged in their personal activities might help to cement the connections and concepts we are trying to teach. And if that doesn't work, I'd try playing the didgeridoo while stiltwalking.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Constituion Day at the ATA

Today our principal, Mr. Spencer, addressed all of our students simultaneously by broadcasting his Constitution Day message using In the past, Mr. Spencer would spend the day moving from class to class delivering his message a total of 12 different times. By streaming his message live over the internet, he was able to address all of our students with one broadcast.

Several steps were involved in setting up this internet broadcast including the set up our free ustream account. Finding the right combination of Webcam and microphone was a challenge but worth the effort since sound and video were both quite nice for our students. It also required a coordinated effort from our teachers to prepare their rooms to project the broadcast and run audio through our phonic ear speaker system.

I was very impressed with the quality of the presentation and the student's attentiveness. My kudos to everyone involved.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I was really hoping the new ipod touch would have a camera and GPS

Monday, August 31, 2009

Watching ASCD "Teaching the Adolescent Brain"
Going to sit at Canatara beach before work. Why haven't I done this before?


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Anyone else using for posting? This is my first attempt.

(updated) My blog has stagnated over the past months as I begin to utilize microblogging tools such as Twitter and FriendFeed. Will Richardson mentioned a similar phenomenon when he was keynoting @ the 21st Century Learning Symposium in Port Huron, MI. So is it fair to use a service like to post status updates to my blog? The posts are short and lack the visual pizazz of a multimedia blog post. Is microblogging just noise or does it adequately break the silence?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

How to use the Drawing Tool in Google Docs

Here's a quick 2 minute tutorial on using the drawing tool in Google Docs. This is a nice way to add some visual bling to your docs without using a separate drawing tool.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

TI3 – Inquiry, Innovation, and Individualization

Sorry again for the unedited notes from MACUL

Working with a disruptive unmotivated population

Blended classroom

Using moodle – computerized everything he has.

Choosing to teach in the most effective manor regardless of the failed state outcomes

Teaching inquiry based requires some level of intrinsic motivation. His experience is it only works with motivated students.

Today's teacher has to be incredible. Normal won't cut it. Teachers last less than five years

Using a split class environment – computers for half and inquiry for half.

Has 16 computers for his room using a 10,000 dollar grant.

Project goals:

  • Every kid 100% engaged. They don't always finish, but they do work.
  • Inquire, Innovation (split the classs – essentially teaching 2 courses at once), individualization
  • Using 4 stations of 4 desktop computers
  • Does a physics demo using a nail bed but it doesn't work to engage.
  • Enrollement key moodle is course name small letters
  • Online Moodle assessments
  • Grade by assessment or portfolio – Demonstrate 70% satisfactory work
  • Late work is overlooked if it is completed


Digital Citizenship

Digital Citizenship - Jason Ohler

So I'm throwing my notes out to the ether in raw form.  Apologies for the errors, but I'll never get this blogging thing down if I wait for perfection. 

   Copyright is not the primary issue
  • redifining community

  • study what we use - with any tech or technique we should look at the impact, the value the cost

  • articulate our fears

  • write a new story

Every technology connects and disconnects
  • we fail to see the disconnect and understand the critical effects of any tech

  • What would the warning label be on the tech we adopt, how does it affect us socially, personally, physically.  Shine a flashlight the tools and see the scope of their impact.
Why are we uncomfortable with tech.

  • It's ubiquitous

  • it's invasive

  • it's rapidly changing

  • it's resocializing

  • sovereignty - who controls whom

  • technology is determining human endeavor - if you have the internet you will surf, if you have a car you will drive whether we need to or not.
We can have what we want
  • If you can have what we want we can have the school we want

  • It's not about the gear the it's about the story, what is the story we want to tell about our schools.  We have to engage proactively.
What's new
  • Disocciated action (place) many activities independent of where we are physcially

  • leveraged action (power) we can use a tool without seeing the effect

  • generalized action (anyone) ownership rights, copy right, asking the open ended questions about our digital actions
slideshare Jason Ohler
View more presentations from jasonohler.

What is our mantra?  not our mission statement
Be a de"tech"tive
Ask the questions
investigate, analyze, evaluate, and recommend.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Six hours into MACUL

There's a lot to process when you attend a conference, but a common theme seems to be playing catch up. Schools seem ill prepared to provide just in time learning using relevant technology. Just wondering why.

Alan November at MACUL

This will be an on the fly blogging of Alan's keynote at MACUL.

Most interesting question posed so far is when will your school transition from traditional closed book tests to open sourced tests using questions designed to apply information with no limitations on source of info (computers, cell phones, groups).

Now he's discussing how we can put students to work finding the assignments that will address our most difficult concepts. Shifting control to the students.

All children will become curriculum researchers. It's important to assign roles and tasks to students. The importance of researching other viewpoints. Google search "site: "General Gage" to refine search results.

Custom Search in Google. Design a custom search engine for your class. This would be useful for our current renewable energy unit. Must have a Google account to customize. Student designed search engines are "more fun". Collaborative: the work of one students contributes to the benefit of all students.

Screencasting tools for student demonstration. The public context of web publishing makes student work important. A different voice explaining a concept may have a greater impact on learning amongst peer groups than the single voice of the teacher according to research.

Student Jobs: Research design team, search engine design team, tutorial design team.

Adding technology to schools is not enough. Real jobs are what make learning important.

Information and global communication planning versus technology planning. Assume we need equipment and move on to the bigger picture of what information and communication we going to generate.

Apologies for any typos.

Monday, January 26, 2009

RESA Think Tank Sign-in tutorial

We can use's social networking tools to help members of the RESA Think Tank stay informed about upcoming events, discussion topics, projects, and technology demonstrations. Please watch the tutorial below for help getting started with your RESA Think Tank invitation.