Thursday, May 23, 2013

Just some pictures from G+

Found these on Google+.

Feel free to share.

Have a Great Day!  Almost there! ... this calls for some music

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Teacher Technology Tools: Socrative

Another Tuesday...another Teacher Techology Tidbits!

However, this is the last one of the school year!

I still plan to post some informational websites on here during the summer... (especially the ones I learned about at TIE that are "new to me")  but I'll probably not do it as often.  Just remember to check the blog from time to time... you may find something of interest that you can use next year.

In the meantime... this is the last week with students....

I love this picture.  Reminds me of Rutland Elementary school.
Today's new helpful website is:  Socrative.

Ripped Directly from their website:
Socrative is a smart student response system that empowers teachers to engage their classrooms through a series of educational exercises and games via smartphones, laptops, and tablets.

What Socrative does, is allows teachers to interact with their students online, in any number of different formats.  You can ask the following kinds of questions:
-Multiple Choice
-True and False
-Short Answer
-Quick Quiz
and more...

It's really a neat tool...because you can limit the people who can interact with the data by "Creating a room" and then you get a code that you send to your students for that room.

This would be a great tool for "icebreakers" at the beginning of class... "Was the President's State of the Union Address succesful or not?"

One of our Presenters at TIE used it during his presentation...gave us a code and asked..."What was the best thing you learned at TIE this week?"  And as people responded...their answers would appear on the screen.

Here is an example of socrative working on a smart phone.
Very engaging tool for the students, and a great way to see realtime results in your classroom.

Another way this could be useful could be outside of class assignments... you could assign your students to watch something... (maybe a congressional hearing or something)...and you could ask them questions about the hearing over Socrative.  You could send out the code via e-mail or twitter or any number of methods.

Also... in case you are having trouble remembering... or don't know where to save all these websites.

I have saved them all in my delicious social bookmarking page:

There are 49 sites there tagged under "Elkton School links" on there.  So, there is no need to save all these sites...just the ones you think you'll use...and my delicious site...which will take you to the others.

Have a great week everyone!

The end is in sight!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Neat Website: Tagboard

I was thinking, that there's no way I can get all of these neat sites I learned about at TIE out to all the Teachers before the end of the school year.

So, I decided just to make a few posts on them over the next couple weeks, and you can just remember to look at my blog sometime, and try to "catch up" on some of these when you have time.

Today's site is:  Tagboard

What Tagboard does... is it searches for things that are trending in social media, by searching the "hashtags".

Simply enter a hashtag and click search...tagboard will display your results.

I think this would be an amazing tool for studying current events.  Say you want the kids to write a reaction paper to something that happened in the news, or you just want to have a class discussion on can use tagboard to pull up links to articles, and also see what people are saying out on the various social media about the subject at hand.

As you can see on the bottom of that picture, Tagboard will search: Twitter, InstaGram, Facebook,, Vine, and Google+.

For instance, this is a screen capture I did this morning for #BostonBombing.

If you click on the picture to make it full size... you can see that the tweet in the top left was posted by "Justice for Jahar" and links to an article about how some men were framed in 1965.

And there are of course, photos of the memorial (from instagram), and if you were able to scroll down... you would see that there are links to multiple articles about the bombing, the suspects, and the handling of the case.

What a cool tool to use, for real time discussion of real life events!

Here is another example.  I went to Google News, and saw that the "Internal Revenue Service was one of the "Top Stories".  So, I went to Tagboard, and searched for "#IRS".  Here is my result:

Again, you may have to click on the picture to read the postings... but you have real time discussion of real events.  I did that search at 9:39 am, and every posting on this screen capture was posted at 9:38 am.  This was as the Congressional Hearing was going on... people were posting what was said, and who said it.

Can you imagine the discussions that you can get over Current Events?  And you won't be limited to "one side" of issues, because you will have people posting from around the world with different viewpoints and different ideas.

Some possible ways to use in the classroom:

  • Social Studies - discussion of current events  (Both High School and elementary for that matter)
  • Social Studies - use tagboard for research...finding links to current articles, blogs, etc, etc...
  • Language Arts - writing a reaction paper on a current event
  • Science - for instance maybe you're study "weather patterns" or something, and there is a major weather event in the news.
  • Compare and Contrast - you could find opposing viewpoints on different issues, and have students look at the arguments and reasoning for both sides.
Lots of critical thinking activities could go on with this one.

If anyone is interested in learning more about Tagboard, please let me know.  If you want ideas, come and discuss with me.  Also, if you use tagboard, and want to share about your successes and/or failures please let me know.

Each of the examples I showed above, were done without having an account.  So, you don't need an account to use it.  Why would you need or want an account?  To see "protected" messages.

For Example:  I tried to do a search for #ElktonSchool to see if anything from our twitter account came across.  I normally use the hashtag #ElktonSchool on our twitter postings.  It did not.  

This is because the school's twitter account is "protected" and since I wasn't signed up and approved as a "follower" on Tagboard.  But, if I signed up for tagboard... I could link my personal twitter account to it, and since I am an approved follower, I would then be able to see those posts.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tuesday Tidbits: IE and IC not 'playing nice'

Hi everyone!  Hope your Tuesday is going well!

Lately, I've been getting a number of teachers who are having trouble saving their assignments in Infinite Campus.  They put the assignment in, and the details, and the points and everything else, and then they click "Save" and.... nothing.

A few months ago.... there was a message that came across the Tech Director Listserv that addressed this problem, and while no one had a real solution.  Several people mentioned that they were having similar problems.

It was also discovered that this problem was limited to Internet Explorer.  If a staff member had Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox installed, Infinite Campus worked fine.

About a month ago (give or take a week or two)... Mrs. Hemmen was our first staff member to go through this.  We couldn't get Internet Explorer to work no matter what, so I installed Google Chrome on hers and away we went.

A few weeks ago, I e-mailed the Tech Guy who had started the question and asked if he ever got an answer.  He said he did not, and that he just installed Chrome whenever someone had a problem.

Today, I helped a couple other teachers with this... and decided to send my own message over the Listserv. The answer.... "It's an Internet Explorer problem".  One tech person said they talked to Campus and they(Campus) claimed that Firefox and Chrome were fully supported, but Internet Explorer not so much.

So.... You have 2 options

1.  Have me install  Google Chrome on your computer.  You can use it to basically "replace" Internet Explorer if you like (it is faster).  Note:  I use Chrome almost exlusively at home and at work.  It's faster, more secure, and it works better with more websites.  I plan on installing the Chrome browser on all computers in the school next year.

Or, if you don't want to mess with it that much... just use Chrome for running Campus, and keep your IE for your other bookmarks.

2.  I can teach you a "Work Around" in which you can add assignments through the gradebook itself.  It works just's just a different way to enter the information.

One of Microsoft's current "updates" is "Internet Explorer 10" and it's causing lots of trouble across the web.  So, if you would like to have Chrome installed...just give me a only takes a few minutes, and you'll be good to go.

Eventually, I imagine that Campus will solve their compatability issues...but for now, we will have to go with another option!

Lastly.... have you ever heard of Jake Bugg?  I subscribe to Rolling Stone magazine, and I read an article that compared him to Bob Dylan.

So I was intrigued...and he's pretty darn good!  Enjoy Lightning Bolt...

Monday, May 13, 2013

Happy Anniversary!

Happy 18th Anniversary to my Shana!

18 years is a long time to be married.
(If you're not a Seinfeld fan, you won't get that reference).

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tuesday Tidbits: instaGrok

Getting this up and online late today!
(Very Busy Morning)

Over the next few weeks, I plan to share a few new tools and websites that I learned about at the TIE Conference.

First off, got to give credit where credit is due:  Richard Byrne is the presenter I got most of these sites from. (That is the link to his twitter account)

He runs the educational blog:  Free Technology for Teachers
-It's a really wonderful site where he breaks down numerous tools and tips and ideas.  Give it a browse, I can pretty much guarantee that you can find something useful.

Today's Site is:  instaGrok

instaGrok is a really neat tool for research.  It sort of makes "interactive" customized bubble charts.

Here is a screen capture from the "Example" of "Earthquakes" on the instaGrok site:

Definitions for the key terms are given.
You can add notes, to each item in the bubble chart
On the right hand side, there are links to Websites, videos, images, and can even put quizzes on there.

I haven't played around with it enough yet, to consider myself any sort of "expert", but it really seems like a great tool for students....get them interacting with your material.

I know, we are coming to a close for this school year...but I always liked to be introduced to new tools in the Spring, so I could kind of plan out some possible things to use them on for the following year.

If you try instaGrok and like it, or dislike it.... let me know!  I would love to share your experience.  

Friday, May 3, 2013

Spring Cleaning!

It's that time of year!

NOT this kind of cleaning!
Staff, as we roll through the last few weeks of the year, I know that everyone is super busy, with track meets, and Graduation, and many other "end of school" events on our schedules.

However, wanted to take the opportunity to ask you if wouldn't mind taking some time to do some "Spring Cleaning" of your files and folders.

NOT this kind of cleaning either!
A few years ago, when I was still working in Chamberlain (Obviously), we had a staff meeting the last week of the school year and our school's technology "consultant" (guy who came and helped out the technology director with network management) took us through what was exactly being hosted on the School's Server.

It was astounding.  Over 70% of the memory, saved on the school's computer was pictures and images.  He then told us that we had the summer (3 months), to get our personal pictures and images off of the server or they would be deleted for us.

I haven't looked, but I would guess that there "quite a bit" of memory on our server dedicated to personal photos, as well.

I would recommend that if they are not school related, you look to move these images either to your home computer (via a flash drive), or uploading them to a cloud service like Dropbox, Google Web Albums, or Microsoft's Sky Drive.  That way, you would be able to access your pictures from any device that can access the web.

Another thing you can look to do, is to delete any "OLD" files that you will never use again.  For Example, here is a photo of my "H Drive" or Server Folder:

If you notice, there is a folder called "Newsletter" in there.  That is where I have kept all the copies of all the Elkton School Newsletters, for this school year.  Here is a snapshot of what that folder looks like on the inside:

Inside each Month's folder is all the files, and news and notes that each teacher sent me for that month...along with the completed newsletter.  

Now, The only file that I think I may actually need for next school year is the "Template" that I use for putting it together.  So I plan on going into this folder and deleting the previous copies of the newsletter.

This is what I'm asking you to do.... Go into your H Drive (And, your C drive...and your Desktop, while you're at it) and delete any extraneous files that you don't need anymore.  If you want to keep a file because you "may" need it, that is completely fine.  I'm just saying that: if there is no need to keep it anymore, why save it?

Example:  When I taught PE in Chamberlain, I used to do a lot of "Round Robin" style tournaments when it came to individual sports (like table tennis or something).  I would keep track of who played who, and the scores on an Excel spreadsheet.  Well, at the end of the year.... did I really need the spreadsheet of the student's Table Tennis Results?  NO.  So, I would delete it.

Example:  Photos I used in my "Technology in Warfare" presentation.  This will be deleted.

If you would take the time to do some "Spring Cleaning" of your files and folders, of both your H Drive, but also your "My Documents" and "My Pictures", it will free up memory for you.  The more memory a computer has available to it, the better it runs.  (This is why today's computers run better than those of 10 years ago...they have more RAM and larger GB Hard Drives).  The more memory you use, the more "clunky" things run.

I will also being doing my part, and "cleaning up" many extraneous files and users on the Server.  There are staff members still listed on there that haven't worked here in 3 years...and students from quite a ways back, too.

Thank you for your help and cooperation!  

And, IF you need Help in learning how to delete your files
...Do Not Hesitate To Ask Me!  

I would be glad to help you.  That's my Job!  I'd rather help someone that is unsure, than have that someone either: not do something out of fear, or do it incorrectly and then be upset.