Disruptive Technology: Cellphones in the Classroom

The Results of Web 2.0 Tools in the Classroom

Catch the Google Wave - WOW!


Science 2.0

Student showcase #petec2010 "I built this and it uses a simple program".

A student from Commonwealth connections worked on showcasing this. He
was really enthusiastic. To him, programming a LEGO robot is "simple."
How would you challenge this student in your classroom?


Using Ning as a School Social Network

Teaching time management to middle school kids using cell phones

This is a great way to let kids learn how to use the tools on their cell phones. This was presented by Gail Schuler from Pleasant Valley School District at #petec2010 at the poster sessions.

iPods as a Classroom Computing Platform

Edmodo: Relevant, Functional, Fun!


Finds of the Week: February 15-19

Starting tomorrow, the annual Pennsylvania Educational Technology Exposition and Conference (PETE&C) will be going on in Hershey, PA at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center. This conference is the state conference on educational technology and the precursor to the international conference ISTE 2010, formerly NECC. On Saturday, there will be preconference sessions for Instructional Technology Coaches (formerly CFF Coaches), followed by preconference sessions for anyone to attend (pre-registered, pre-paid), including sessions hosted right here at Annville-Cleona Secondary School.

The real conference begins Monday morning with an opening keynote from Sir Ken Robinson. The remainder of Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday will be days full of conference sessions, connecting with colleagues, interacting with vendors, and some great discussions on education and technology integration. Here are some ways that you can follow along with the conversations.

1. Cover it Live - Cover it Live is a way for people to collaborate from anywhere on any type of presentation or event. You might see that many sites are using Cover it Live during Olympics coverage so people can discuss the events as they go on.

For Cover it Live, if you are going to use it, you will first need to create an account. From there, the options open up for you. Many users embed their Cover it Live sessions into a blog, website, or wikispace. As an example, many of the session I will be sitting in will be on my personal professional blog so I can carry on the conversation with more people, especially those that either may not be able to make it to PETE&C, or with those in other sessions that are interested in the information.

Others will use Cover it Live during faculty meetings or classes to allow for a backchannel to occur to extend upon the conversations that are taking place, which also allows for everyone to have more of a chance to get their say in.

2. #hashtags - Many educators have joined twitter to help improve their own instruction by collaborating with other educators from around the world in what are known as Professional Learning Networks, or PLNs. To help find each other and to find information that they would like to share, they use what are known as hashtags, which are very similar to tags you make when using social bookmarking.

For example, every Tuesday, large groups of educators talk about various educational topics in what has become to be known as EdChat, and the hashtag #edchat is used so all can follow the conversation without having to follow the individuals in the conversation. It is similar to being able to enter a room at a conference, talking with people you have never met before, having your conversation, and then leaving, never to speak again until the next conference.

If you want to find information from a hashtag, there are many ways to do so. The most common way is to use twitter, as the use of hashtags has become a prevalent practice among users, but it is not the only way. You can also enter the hashtag you want to follow at hashtags.org, or enter the hashtag in a Google search. Google has realized the high use of the tool, and have included a live result feature in their searches. To follow what is going on at PETE&C, the hashtag is #petec2010.

3. Rubrics - I couldn't complete a blog post without a resource for you to use in your classroom. Rubrics are tools that we all use to allow for students to know what is expected of them on projects and assessments.

Rubistar is probably the most widely-known and widely-used rubric creator, but it is not the only one. With Rubistar, you create a sign in and work on creating rubrics from a template. They have sample assessors, or you can create your own. Once completed and saved, each rubric can be assigned a number so anyone can access it at a later point in time. Enter the code 1752791 under "Go To a Saved Rubric" to see a sample of one I created. Rubistar is fairly easy to use, and they have a great tutorial as to how to use their tool.

RCampus is another tool that allows for free creation of rubrics. This site even allows you to pull in rubrics you currently have to edit them. Again, it is free, but you do need to register. There are tons of sample rubrics, separated by grade level, subject, and type. They also have tutorial videos for how to better use their service.

Want even more rubric builders? Then check out teAchnology for a list of rubric builders. You can even use teAchnology as a rubric builder, with either a 4-point system or under a custom rubric.

Pay attention to this space next week as I share the things I see from PETE&C.


Poll Everywhere Returns Clearing Results to Educator Accounts...For Now

Last week, Poll Everywhere made a change to their accounts, and it caught a lot of people by surprise. One of the features educators love was moved to the premium teacher account, and it was not necessarily taken well by many. As I was the one who had introduced many of my colleagues to the service, they turned to me for answers.

Truth be told, I hadn't noticed it at that point in time, so I did some investigating. I hadn't seen any notice, so I sent a direct message to @polleverywhere on twitter. In the meantime, I mentioned to others that polls could always be copied, so there was a way to bypass the non-clearing problem, though not as convenient as clearing each individually.

Poll Everywhere responded, and there was a great reason that Poll Everywhere made this change, and in the long run, it will be very helpful to teachers and districts for data collection. First off, the students absolutely love using Poll Everywhere. One of my students today said, "I feel bad for doing this in school. We've always been told it's wrong and against the rules to use our cell phones to learn." This is a great tool!

But this new change will benefit all those who use it. The problem is, how to pay for it. For now, Poll Everywhere has returned poll clearing to the free education account, but I am sure that it won't last. This is only speculation on my part, but I imagine it will remain through the end of the school year and then be moved back into the premium educator account come June. This would allow for teachers to use the service as they are used to for the remainder of the school year, which is good for teachers.

But we, as educators, cannot just allow for the switch back to happen without reciprocating. During this time, we have to show the power of this tool. Get your administrators and school board members into your classrooms to see the use so they realize both how powerful a classroom tool this can be as well as the amount of money that could be saved against buying classroom sets of clickers.

We are still at a point where many districts are not looking at adding to their budgets, so it might be difficult to get districts to pay for a plan. When looking at the K-12 pricing, the building/district plans seems pretty sweet. Why not get kids to pony up $2.50 per year with the promise of allowing them to use their cell phones in school (at appropriate times, of course)? That's only one and a half sodas that they would have to give up. I think they could handle it.

Of course, requiring kids to pay for this might not be the best plan either, and many teachers cringe at the $129 per year cost. But what if you only paid $10.75 a month for the teacher account? Doesn't that sound better? I know I could handle that quite well.

Oh, and, when you do the math, $10.75 a month comes out to $129 per year. It doesn't change the overall cost, but might make it easier to afford as opposed to a one-time yearly cost. I guess that would be my suggestion for a change for next year.

As it is, Poll Everywhere wants your input. First, read their blog post about this issue. Comment on this post to offer suggestions or visit their Get Satisfaction page. Remember, services like this just cannot remain free forever. They have helped us out, now what can we do for them?

Finds of the Week: February 8-12

It has been a snowy week here in Central PA, but that doesn't stop the web! This week, how to convert files online, text-to-speech, and collecting and sharing bookmarks.

1. Online Video Conversion - Many schools (including A-C) do not allow access to Youtube. Bummer. But don't let that stop you from using these sites educationally, as there is a wealth of great videos that can be used in your classroom. Vixy and Zamzar both will allow you to enter the URL of any Youtube video so you can download them for use in your classroom. Be aware of fair use rules if you do this, as these videos could be copyrighted! Make sure to provide proper citations.

When working with Vixy, all you need to do is enter the URL of the video you want to convert in the field, choose your format, and convert! For your work computer, you will want to convert to a MOV file, which will open in QuickTime. You can choose other options, based on what you will be using the video for. Vixy will automatically give you a download link, and you'll have the file on your machine for use in class. Make sure to save the file with a new name and location. I have found that Vixy does not always work well while at school due to the firewall.

Zamzar works a little differently. When you go to Zamzar, you will begin on a regular file conversion page. This allows for you to convert any number of files, which is helpful for when students create a document or other file at home on one piece of software and want to work with it at school with a different piece of software. To convert a Youtube file, you will have to click on "URL" under Step 1, or go directly to the URL conversion page. In Step 2, choose what you would have the file converted to. Again, Zamzar supports image, document, audio, video, and a few other conversions. Zamzar does not provide an instant link, as the file is sent to their server to be converted. Once converted, an email will be sent to the address you provide in Step 3. This could take some time, depending on the amount of files that are being uploaded to their servers at the time. This can be done at school or at home, as long as you have the URL to the video you want.

Another easy way to convert Youtube videos is with Kickyoutube. This cannot be done at school, as it is blocked by the filter. But if you have viewed a Youtube video at home that you want to use in school, just add the work "kick" in front of the "youtube" in the URL. For example, if you are viewing a video at www.youtube.com, just edit the URL to look like kickyoutube.com instead. It will give you options as to how you would like to download it. Choose your option and download!

Areas of use: Across all curricular areas

2. Carryout Text - This is a site that is in beta, and while they are, the services will be offered free. The beta could end at any time, at which point the entire service could become a pay service, or there could be a tiered service, where parts could remain free and others would become pay services. Until then, this is a great site you can use to convert any text into audio. It is as simple as pasting text into the converter, pressing "Submit to Process," and waiting for Carryout to do its thing! This is a great site that can be used for those that have trouble reading, or for students who are taking a long bus trip to a sporting event and need to stay caught up on class content. The flow is still a bit choppy, but it works quite well.

Areas of use: Across curricular areas; especially helpful for struggling readers and audible learners

3. Social Bookmarking - Don't be scared off by the word "social" here. These two services offer many perks for educators (and individual users) by allowing for bookmarking of websites online as opposed to inside a browser.

First, we will explore delicious. delicious allows for you to create a site that you can bookmark websites you like for use later on. Once you create an account, you download the delicious toolbar and button and you're all set. From a site you want to bookmark, just press the "Tag" button in your delicious toolbar, enter the data for the site, including a description and tags. Tags are used to help group things together that for similar interests. For example, if you go to my delicious page, you can click on "web2.0" in the right hand column, you will get a series of sites that fit into the Web2.0 window. When tagging, you can even tag a site that a fellow user might find useful. If you find a site that you think I would like, tag it with "for:misterlamb" and a message will be sent to me with the info. This could be helpful in a class where you gather current events. Just have students tag their current event to you.

diigo is very similar to delicious in the fact that it is also social, but it is organized in a different way. With diigo, you will download a toolbar and tag sites like you do in delicious, but in diigo, you can also set up groups, so when sites are saved, they are made accessible to all in the group. Having a class group set up could be very helpful to share resources. If you use it for current events, you could have students check to see what others have tagged to make sure to eliminate any duplicates. Or if a student finds a great resource for a class, it can be made available to all immediately.

Areas of use: Across all curricular areas; great for sharing resources with colleagues, students, etc.

All of these are great tools and have even more applications in your personal life and classroom that discussed here. As always, any A-C teacher is more than welcome to contact me and set up a time where we can explore and discuss these tools together.


Finds of the Week: February 1-5, 2010

This post is a mobile devices special edition. As we all know, students will always have their mobile devices (cell phones, iPods, etc.) with them, even if they are banned. This can be a good thing when used properly. This post will focus on some tools that will allow you and your students to become more productive with mobile devices.

1. TextMarks - TextMarks is a group text messaging service. There are many possible uses for this service, from sending text messages that inform about homework assignments and upcoming assessments to helping to keep in touch with participants and parents of sports teams and other extracurriculars. There is a free portion that is ad supported that will allow you one free keyword to set up and 120 characters per message. If you want more keywords or no ads, you can upgrade to a larger plan. When you have your keyword set up, your students can subscribe by sending your keyword to 41411, wait for your message to be sent to them, then reply to that message with a "Y." Once subscribed, they could even set up the time that they receive the message every day, as long as you enable that feature in the setup. There are other services that do similar things, but TextMarks is one of the easier ones to work with.

Areas of use: Across all curricular areas, sports, extracurricular activities

2. PollEverywhere - PollEverywhere is an online polling service that allows for anyone to collect information from a group through polling using text messaging and web voting. PollEverywhere allows for an educator to sign up for a free account that allows for unlimited questions with 32 responses per question. Each question receives a code that matches up to only that question, and you can display the responses for multiple choice questions as a live aggregate of the answers or as a table to hide the results so you can get a true read for what your class knows or needs extra help on. If you wanted a more open-ended response, you can create a text poll, where students would respond with their own answer. For students without unlimited texting plans, you can set up your polls to allow for multiple responses for students to share their phones, or allow webvoting to allow students to vote through a widget you embed, a webpage with your question on it, or by using poll4.com to enter their quick response (also great with smartphones). If you want more plan options, the year-long teacher plan runs at $129 per year, or there are school building-wide and district-wide plans as cheap at $2.50 per student per year (minimum 200 students). 

Areas of use: Across all curricular areas

3. iPhone/iPod Touch (and other smartphones) - Of course, I would be remiss if I did not venture into the field of the smartphone. The iPhone really changed the idea of what a cell phone could be, and that idea was extended into the iPod, as well, with the iPod Touch. Of course, the iPhone is not the only smartphone out there, and the other ones also have apps available, but I am most familiar with the iPhone. If anyone would like to add to the discussion about other smartphones, it would be a great addition from a guest blogger.

Imagine a student has the entire works of William Shakespeare available to them. At first, one might think that said student would have a really large book. Instead, an iPhone is pulled out and this student begins to read Act II of Hamlet. This student could do so anytime, anywhere, and the collection was a free download. Another student works with an interactive of the trigonometric function, while yet another is working with SAT test prep software. Between all of the free and paid apps, there are so many ways that a smartphone can help enhance your instruction.

Areas of use: Across all curricular areas

4. Yodio - Podcasting has become a prevalent practice in education. It is a great way to include digital storytelling in the classroom. More students are able to share the information they learn and create, and teachers are able to get information out to their students in a more readily accessible way. However, many people believe that certain software needs to be available to them in order to create a podcast.

With Yodio, you can create a podcast with nothing more than a phone and any computer with an internet access. First, you will want to set up an account at Yodio so you can start recording. Once your account is set up, you can call from your cell phone, record your audio (as one long podcast or as shorter chunks) which are then saved in your account. Once you are done recording, return to Yodio and create regular or enhanced podcast with photos you can also take with your cell phone. Yodio has even been trying to get a foothold in the education field, and if you contact them, they might be able to set up a plan to allow for you to obtain a number for your students to call to dump information into a central teacher account, as opposed to having each student create an account.

Just imagine if you have students out on a field trip and want them to do some mobile reporting. You could give them the number for the central teacher account and have them phone in their responses at various points throughout the trip. When you return to the classroom the next day, you could have a class report ready to go and listen to as a class so all students can provide different amounts of information to a bigger idea (a great application of reciprocal learning, as we saw in the Classroom Instruction That Works book). 

Areas of use: Across all curricular areas

Of course, using mobile devices in the classroom is still a relatively new idea. If you are looking at using the devices in your classroom, start out small and make sure to have a structure for use set up, including consequences for misuse. Make sure students are aware of their own plans.