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Farmers, Eyeballing, Taxes…

https://remc11.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/www_bullet.jpgAgriculture is big business here in Michigan.  Check out the Harvest of History from The Farmers’ Museum and discover how farmers produce the food we eat everyday.

https://remc11.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/www_bullet.jpgWhile studying geometry, have your students play The Eyeballing Game.  Players adjust a line segment to bisect an angle, form a parallelogram, or several other tasks.  It only takes a few minutes and it’s a good way to see if your students understand basic geometric ideas.

https://remc11.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/www_bullet.jpgCurrent and historical photos can be found at LIFE – Your World in Pictures.

https://remc11.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/www_bullet.jpgTax Day is this Wednesday!  Share the pain with your students at the IRS’s Understanding Taxes site.  There are activities for students as well as lesson plans and resources for teachers.

https://remc11.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/www_bullet.jpgIt’s been a while since I talked about Google Docs.  It’s a tool that is getting better as it ages (just like people).  They just added a new feature:  inserting drawings.  Now students and teachers can use Google Docs as an online diagramming tool as well.


TechCamp, SmugMug, Yelp…

https://remc11.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/www_bullet.jpgIt may seem like summer is a long way away, but begin thinking about attending TechCamp 2009.  During TechCamp you’ll have the opportunity to attend six hands-on sessions as well as hear from excellent presenters.  TechCamp 2009 is on August 25 & 26.  Visit the TechCamp wiki for more information, see last year’s Schedule-at-a-Glance, or to register.

https://remc11.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/www_bullet.jpgUse SmugMug to upload photos of school activities to share with the world (or those who have the password).  With the Pro account, free for non-profits, viewers can buy prints from your site with the profit going to your school.  That’s what I’m talkin’ about.

https://remc11.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/www_bullet.jpgGet your students to write with a purpose.  Have them write reviews of restaurants, shops, local services, and more and post them to Yelp.  “Yelp is the fun and easy way to find, review and talk about what’s great, and not so great, in your area.”

https://remc11.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/www_bullet.jpgHere’s a simple tool for teachers using the Internet.  Down for everyone or just me? is useful to check to see if a website is not working, or if you’re own computer is on the fritz.

https://remc11.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/www_bullet.jpgKerpoof is a fun site for young students where they can draw, create a card, create a movie, and complete other creative activities.

TechCamp Spotlight: To the Limit



July has come and gone…I’ve stayed away from technology for quite a while now, but it’s time to move things along.  TechCamp is two and a half weeks away and I’m pleased to say that we’re booked solid with participants…filled to the gills.  That is so sweet…

We have even started a waiting list, which makes me disappointed that we can’t accomodate everyone.  For the most part, it’s a matter of having enough computers.  You know, since it’s a hands-on event, it’s important that everyone has something to put their hands on.

Taking another look at the sessions, I’m more than satisfied with the number and variety that we’re able to offer.  From the important basics of using MS Office apps, to exciting multimedia strategies like digital storytelling and podcasting, to cutting edge web tools and cell phones…I think we’re covering a wide spectrum.  Participants should be able to get what they need and want!

NECC Session: Feed, Tag, Research: Remixing for School Library 2.5

NECC Program Description

TagWhen I talk to the media specialists in our area, they often mention they enjoy listening to and following Joyce Valenza.  So I figured it would be great for me to attend this session…especially since I don’t have any librarian-type experience.  I hope to gain a little insight and perspective that might help our local media specialists take advantage of new tools in a way that makes sense to media specialists…not just myself.

Ustream Channel

Session Wiki

There are a total of six people up on stage…I didn’t realize this was going to be a panel-type presentation…but now that I see the session description I guess that’s exactly what it is.

Joyce Valenza:

What does School Library 2.5 look like?  School librarians should be the School CIO…Chief Information Officer.  Librarians need to access information differently…school libraries lend all kinds of stuff…flash drives, laptops, whatever.  Librarians want students to access databases, but the databases aren’t easily useable by students.  There are no widgets, RSS feeds, tools.  Collection of materials now includes the published work of students as well as archiving student/teacher images.

Cathy Nelson:

Tools for professional development.  One thing that she learned as she was leading sessions at librarian gatherings was that she was preaching to the choir.  So she began to focus on teachers at the “science” conference, “reading” conference, “middle school” conference, etc.  The connections she’s made in these other groups have allowed her to continue to reach out and bring the message of stretching boundaries to others.  Cathy views herself as the bridge.

Carolyn Foote:

How can a 2.5 librarian work with administrators?  Many librarians may feel like the library is the lost continent…that the principal doesn’t know what could/should happen in the library.  However, perhaps it’s a marketing mistake by the librarian.  Does the librarian know what the mission of the principal is?  How can librarians be change agents?  Librarians need to be advocates…for student first of all.  That’s really the mission of the school.

How to be popular with your principal…

  • Share, share, share.  Find out how they learn info best, and use 2.0 tools to get that information to them
  • Be there.  Be at meetings, committees, etc.
  • Be a partner, not a judge.
  • Share success stories.
  • Think of yourself as the corporate librarian supporting the administration.

Libraries at not just for information, but innovation!  Focus on the big picture, not just the library.  By partnering with the administration librarian makes themselves indispensable.

Diane Cordell:.

Diane considers herself a technology new-comer.  She is going to focus on how to reel in those who aren’t in the choir.  It’s important that librarians try not to take teachers out of their comfort area, but expand the possibilities of what they already doing.  New users need to feel comfortable, relaxed.  Librarians need to reassure teachers, using familiar vocabulary that new learners can identify with.  Help them narrow the choices of the many tools that will work for them.  Librarians need to get out of the library to be with teachers as they implement their new skills.  Encourage life-long learning and celebrate success.

Anita Beaman:

At the secondary level, librarians often get stuck in a rut teaching researching skills, not reading.  One of the missions should be to help kids develop a love of learning.  Anita highlighted the vast online resources for supporting and extending a popular series of books by Stephenie Meyer.  There are forums, playlists, MySpace groups, extended content etc.  What Anita has done is to use these tools to connect students to other great titles.  Her Reading 2.0 wiki explores “Using Technology to Promote Books – Not Replace Them!”  It looks like a great resource.

What’s unfortunate about this whole session is that each of these panelists could have/should have presented an entire session themselves.  Each of them contributed great ideas, but very quickly!  I’m glad I attended and hope to bring some of their innovative ideas back to our local CIOs…

NECC Session: It’s in Your Pocket: Teaching Spectacularly with Cellphones

NECC Program Description

I didn’t attend Liz Kolb‘s cell phone session, partly because it was a hands-on session (and packed) and my cell phone doesn’t do much and also because I invited her to present at our TechCamp event in August. I heard a gal in front of me yesterday practically giddy about Liz’s presentation, so I’m really looking forward to TechCamp!

So now I’m sitting in Hall Davidson’s session…I can listen and not have to participate with my worthless phone since we’re in an auditorium. Hall is always entertaining and I’m sure I’ll be able to snag a few bits of information from him.

If you have a cell phone, you have a…

  • Telephone
  • Text Messenger
  • Still Camera
  • Video Camera
  • Video Viewer
  • Podcaster
  • GPS
  • Music Player

There really shouldn’t be a discussion on “should we ban phones?” That really shouldn’t be a question…they are here! Parents are ultimately the ones who are determining if kids are going to have phones…they can monitor what their kids are up to in a number of ways. They love that! So cell phones aren’t going anywhere…

Cell phones sound a lot like the way things were when the web showed up…”this thing won’t take off!” There are 3.3 billion working cell phones on the planet…that’s half the world’s population! Who has them? Tons in the third world…who forbids them? The Taliban and your local high school.

What can you do with a cell phone?

  • Watch live IP security cameras from anywhere
  • Create and upload videos…so post a video to Youtube of yourself giving instructions to the sub…post updates of news and events
  • Send video messages out to the community…like a voice message alert system

What else? You can call Jott and convert a voice message to text. For example, call in and Jott to email, blogs, twitter, etc. Another option is to translate languages…if you can go from voice to text, and you can go from text to translation, then you can go from voice to translation.

Gcast is a free service that allows users to call in their podcasts…basically sharing voicemails online with anyone. Of course you can subscribe to the updates via an RSS reader or podcast aggregator. Another choice is to call the teacher’s Gcast account to leave an answer to a question…sweet.

If you want to get some information use PollEverywhere. Participants can text their responses in and we can watch the responses in real time. The graph is extremely interactive…kind of makes some of the response systems used in schools now obsolete…well, unnecessary. PollEverywhere lets you export responses into Excel…nice. You can also text in messages and they drop right into the screen…right now. Very sweet for collaboration…everyone can put in their two cents. This is probably one of the best applications I’ve seen so far this week.

Where can we go from here. Hall suggests that teachers can find relevant, important uses for cellphones and has challenged everyone to be ready to try out new applications and strategies for using these interactive peices of hardware.

NECC Session: Edtags.org: Academic Social Tagging to Aid Learning and Assessment

NECC Session Description

I didn’t plan on attending this session, but saw that Chris Dede was presenting so thought I’d better check it out.  I’ve seen his name flying across the RSS feeds, but ever paid much attention to he was up to.  What I’m assuming that the presenters are going to be highlighting Edtags.org, which is

…a website for educators (e.g., teachers, education graduate students, professors, librarians, etc.) to connect with people sharing similar interests, discover relevant materials that may have “eluded” the traditional card catalogue search, and store and categorize your favorite bookmarks.

I see that it has a Digg-like feature of being able to vote for a specific web resource to get it to the top of the list.

(David Warlick just passed by looking for power…he found a gal with an interesting power strip.  Watch for that to appear on his blog.)

Chris Dede has started off with some “Things Are Different Today Than They Used To Be” and also some “Kids Connect With Each Other Much More Than They Used To With The Powerful Tools They Have” and continuing with the “What We’re Teaching In Schools Is Not What Students Need.”  OK, we get the picture…

Adam Seldow, a doctoral student, spoke of how social networks are not new…we’re been a part of them for hundreds of years.  And with many sociosemantic platforms (del.icio.us, flickr, etc.) out there, why develop Edtags?

Some characteristics of Edtags…

  • Vote, discuss, email bookmarks
  • Tailored RSS feeds
  • User/tag recommendations
  • Visualizations of how tags and resources are related to each other

Edtags allows users to Search in three ways…Bookmarks, Users, and Tags.  The search and organization…the connections on the site seem to work really well.  I like Edtags, but I’m already using del.icio.us.  It’s hard to jump from one site to another, or have multiple sites going.

The point is that the people who would be saving sites to Edtags are the same types of people…educators.  So the resources and search results and more likely to be relevant.  Adam’s point is that del.icio.us is made up of a different crowd…lots of tech geeks and other folks.  Edtags is a place for educators.

NECC Session: Google Earth Advanced Placemarks

NECC Program Description

Google EarthSusan Anderson and Jim Holland are presenting this session and like the one before, it’s at capacity.  It’s too bad that participants can’t sit on the floors, but they’re not being allowed to.

They’re main focus revolves around building Placemarks in Google Earth and how you can edit the contents of those placemarks so that there are images, formatted text, links to web resources, etc.  Thinking about it, it’s likely that I know most of what they’ll get to today, but I’m always ready to hear a tip or trick I didn’t know.

I didn’t realize this before, but I see they have written a couple of books that cover this topic.  They look like great resources…something that I could build a workshop from.  I have a dozen GPS units that get checked out every now and it would be nice to get those tied in to Google Earth’s free resources.

Just looking at some of their examples, they have used the HTML features in the Placemarks to create some interactivity for students…being able to click in the Placemark bubble to link to the web.  I’m not sure if I knew this, but the Placemarks allow embedded videos or VoiceThreads or Scrapblogs or whatever.  Oh, I did know that, but it’s a Windows only feature so I didn’t get to play with it at the time.

As people were working along, a question arose about linking to images on the web.  By linking to web images, you’re using up some of that site’s bandwidth.  however, lots of sites such as Flickr, or PhotoBucket, or Pics4Learning are just fine with that.  Just be aware of who you’re linking to.

Hey, here’s something new.  If you create a KMZ file with an image…the image is part of the package.  So  you can use your own images from your hard drive, save it as a KMZ, send it to someone else, and they’ll get all the information, including the image!

We’re suffering from a connectivity issue, but the session is going well.  As I suspected, they’re not going to get to some of the advanced Placemarks tips and tricks that I was hoping for.  I know it’s probably in the book and it’s great to have a resource to turn to for that.

Oh, before I forget…Andy Mann passed on this Google Earth Workshop page he created for…a workshop.  I thought this was as good a place as any to share that.