Friday, May 25, 2012

TED Talks To Spark A Conversation

Sometimes, in a group it can be hard to get a conversation started. You need that one focal point for everyone to rally around to get things moving. Videos and images are a great way to get your message out there and get folks talking. The same is true in the classroom. I can be helpful to start a unit or a topic off with some kind of visual stimulant that gets those creative thoughts moving.

That is why I love the TED videos. Especially the Talks In Under 6 Minutes series. These are great, snapshots of what could be longer conversations in short bursts. They come in loads of topics that could start a class discussion or kick off a meeting.

Below are some of my favorite videos to spark a conversation. There are tons of these be sure to head over to the TED website to discover more of them.

Derek Sievers: How To Start A Movement-This is hands-down my favorite one. I use this video to talk about leadership, obviously, but also the perils of the movement as well.

Rob Reid: The $8 Billion Dollar iPod-Understanding data and how it can be manipulated is important.

Renny Gleeson: 404, The Story Of A Page Not Found-How the 404 Page can build relationships.

Thomas Suarez: A 12 Year Old App Developer-If you give kids a chance, they can do some pretty cool things.

And lastly Mark Bezos: A Life Lesson From A Volunteer Firefighter-Why you shouldn't wait to be a hero.

Those are my 5. What are some of yours?

Oh, and in case you didn't know. There is a great wiki on Teaching With TED. Definitely worth a look if you want to use these or other TED videos in your classroom.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Android Apps For Literacy

I love my tablets. I carry 2 pretty much where ever I go, especially when I travel. Now, I love my iPad. I can get lots of work done on it, but mostly play some great games. However, I recently got a 10.1 Galaxy Tab and it is quickly becoming my go-to tablet for everything. From writing this blog post to checking my tweets to watching Netflix, I use it more than my laptop some days. 

But I am finding more and more that I pick it up before I pick up my Kindle. Normally I am reading 4-5 books at a time and carrying those books around took up a great deal of space in my bag. Then I got a Kindle and that helped a bunch. Then I got a tablet and discovered the Kindle app and I honestly can't remember the last time I even charged my Kindle. 

There are lots of apps for books and reference for the Android user, some of which you might not find for you iPad. Here are my favorites. 

Kindle-Like I mentioned, this is my primary app for reading books. I can usually get a good deal on eBooks from Amazon and the app is great for reading. I have all my tools to highlight and share excerpts and the app syncs my location in all my books on all my devices. So if it is easier for me to use my phone to catch up on a chapter, I know I will be in the right place. 

Google Books-This is another app I use for reading a lot. I will price compare when I am looking for books and sometimes I can get a better deal with Google books. This app is similar to the Kindle app and has a lot of the same features. Highlighting and sharing is included and the syncing too. 

Audible-Sometimes I just like to be read too. Especially when I am traveling for some reason I like to listen to books rather than read them. Thank goodness for Audible. I can do a quick search of the database and buy a book that I can then have read by the author or someone associated with the book. And they always have a good deal on audio books too. 

Wikipedia- While I can get to Wikipedia from my tablet browser, I find the app much more friendly and easier to navigate. And you can save articles for offline viewing (handy for those times you have work to do but no connection) and can share articles with ease with the Android sharing menu. 

Wattpad-This is a unique reading app. With over 100,000 stories and books it would be tough not to find something to like. The collection is full of independent authors and storytellers. The app is very social because you can see the comments from other readers and join book clubs to talk about books or genres. 

Marriam-Webster Dictionary-Because sometimes you just need a definition. 

Goodreads-This is another social/sharing book site. You can create your own bookshelf to share what you are reading and what you want to read, jump into discussions and discover new content. 

Those are my favorite apps for reading and reference on my Android tablet. What are some of yours? 

photo credit: Photo Giddy via photo pin cc

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Help Support The ISTE12 Newbie!

In 2009, Beth Still started the ISTE Newbie Project to serve as an example of how people who are connected to one another on Twitter can work together to do great things. There were still a lot of people who discounted the value of Twitter and she was determined to show the naysayers that it really did have a valuable place in education. For three years in a row she tapped into her personal learning network to raise money to send three different Newbies to ISTE. A Newbie is simply someone who had never attended ISTE. Last summer she made the decision to take a break from the project to spend time with family and pursue other projects, but all of that changed the other night.

Beth was not planning on doing the ISTE Newbie Project this year.  She had organized and managed this project for the last three years simply needed a break. There is a lot of work that goes into making this project work that happens behind the scenes and she did not have the time to do it this year due to family obligations. But last week all of that week when she received an email from Suzie Nestico. Suzie had been contacted by Jeff Bradbury who manages the TeacherCast website and Ron Peck who is one of the co-founders of #sschat and the SSChat Ning. They were looking for a way to get Jerry to San Diego so he could attend his very first ISTE.

The Newbie for ISTE12 is one of those rare people who has found a way to give more than he/she takes from his/her personal learning network. This individual started out creating a website for his/her school in 1999 but by the next year had developed a site for all educators with hundreds of great resources and links. The website grew and now has over 500 pages and 30,000 links. It is considered the “go-to” website for information on just about anything. Many educators sing the praises of this wealth of information and sharing on a level that no one in education can come close to. In addition, this individual is an active member of several chats on Twitter. #Edchat, #ntchat, #gtchat, #elemchat, #engchat, #sschat and #ptchat are just a few of the chats he contributes to and moderates on a regular basis. This amazingly generous person deserves everything we can do for him/her and more.

Jerry Blumengarten, also known as @cybraryman1, is the ISTE12 Newbie!

It will take a large number of us working together to raise enough money to get Jerry to ISTE. The idea behind the Newbie Project is to raise a lot of money without anyone donating much more than they would spend on a couple of cups of fancy coffee. The goal this year is $2000. We need 200 people to give $10. In previous years individual donations have ranged from $5 to $150. My advice is to give what you are comfortable with and don’t assume that your contribution is insignificant. Every dollar adds up! We only have until June 10 to accomplish this goal. Please show Jerry how much you appreciate him by chipping in to get him to San Diego! 

To make a donation please visit the ISTE Newbie Site.  

In the unlikely event that not enough money is raised to send Jerry to ISTE in San Diego then we will pick up the fundraising again next year to send him to ISTE13 in San Antonio.

Monday, May 14, 2012

So...You Wanna Use Voicethread

I think collaboration and reflection are 2 of the biggest skills that kids need but aren't really getting enough of. Having the opportunity to work together in meaningful ways and to reflect on their work and the work of their peers is key to being a learner. There are lots of tools that you can use to help kids collaborate and reflect. Blogs are a great example. Podcasts are another. However, each can be daunting to set up and actually do.

That's why I love Voicethread.

What is Voicethread you ask?

It is a multimedia slideshow that allows users anywhere in the world to collaborate.

Here are the basics:
  1. Create a free account.
  2. Upload images, documents, and videos to the presentation.
  3. Share.
Yep. That simple.

Once the Voicethread is created is when the magic happens. Comments can be left around each part of the slideshow either by voice, text or video. You can also annotate comments as well. Everything can be embed on a webpage or in a blog for even easier sharing.

Here is one I did a while back asking for my Personal Learning Network (PLN) to give me ideas on what their PLN means to them?

You can see there is a mix of comments, some text, some audio and some video. And this one was just one simple image. The possibilities are really endless.

Just a couple of ideas:
  • Using a single image or a series of images to introduce a topic to students. Have them comment about what they know or what they are thinking before beginning a unit. 
  • Instead of having students create a Power Point, create a Voicethread that they get to narrate and share with the class. Other students can leave comments on the different parts of the presentation.
  • Creating a "Get-To-Know-You" slideshow for the beginning of the school year. 
  • Literary review

Here are my favorite resources for learning about and using Voicethread in the classroom:
Another great feature? They have an iOS app. So you can create Voicethreads with your iPad or iPod touch. Awesome!

Remember, Voicethread is free. All you need is an email address. They do have K12 accounts available if you want to go that route.

What are your favorite Voicethread resources? Did you do an interesting project with it? Leave a comment or share below!

photo credit: flickingerbrad via photo pin cc

Friday, May 11, 2012

New Posted Resources 05/11/2012

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Creating Social Media Guidelines...The Handout

Over the past few weeks I have been working on a project for Edutopia and Facebook Education to develop a set of steps to follow when developing social media guidelines in your school or district. This all came about from my presentation at ASCD this year where I outlined how we created a document that promoted the use of social media by our teachers and our students but also gave tips on responsible use. (You can read what we created here.)

The goal of the document is to provide a means for anyone from a school or district to create an environment that allows for the use of social media for learning and communication. There are some simple, yet necessary steps that are important for the implementation of such guidelines.

I have embedded the document below for download. It has examples and samples of social media policies and additional resources to explore. You can also visit the extended post at Edutopia to read more.

What steps have you taken to create social media guidelines in your school or district? Did you do some similar? Something different? Leave some feedback below.

Monday, May 7, 2012

So...You Wanna Design Your Own Apps

I have published lots of posts on my favorite iPad resources, my favorite apps for administrators, and posted countless Tweets and had a number of conversations about apps for learning, producing and consuming. But what about if you want to take the next step? You want (or better yet your kids) to create apps. Whether it's something basic like just appifying your blog or literally building something from the ground up, there are some pretty easy ways to create apps. 

Before I go the easy route, there are some standard (fairly nerdy) ways to create apps. It starts with a SDK or Software Development Kit that you download from either Apple or Android. There are different processes involved for developing and getting your app in the respective store. If you like a challenge, want to learn how to code and feel a super sense of accomplishment, definitely check out these. 

Now, I am lacking on my computer programming skills so I turn to those that have streamlined the process. There are lots of sites now that make the development process so easy, in some cases all you need is a web address and in about 30 seconds you create something to be proud of. 

AppMakr-This is one of those "plug and chug" app makers. You start with a URL and from there you can customize your app with the features you want. The cost is free but they place adds in your app. For $79.00 you get full control and get a whole bunch of other features to further customize your app. AppMakr only develops for iOS but still, a great introduction to the app building process. 

iBuildApp-Another one of the easy app builders, there are lots of features to choose from. Adding tap-to-call, Youtube channels, maps, Twitter feeds and more, the interface is slick and easy for even the novice user to develop. You can build an app for iOS or Android, however there are some associated developer fees that you will want to check out. 

Shoutem-Similar to the others, this has a few less features but when it comes time to publishing, you do save a little bit of money. Again, take your URL and in a few moments you have an app ready to publish. Create an app all at once for iOS and Android, give this one a try. 

Android App Inventor-Created by Google, this is now a project for MIT that aims at helping anyone who wants to create an app do it for free. Development happens all in your browser. While it is a bit more tricky than the others, it is easy enough to get the hang of because it its drag and drop. There are whole list of buttons, actions, and objects you can drag to the screen to create an app that was designed truly by you. This one I see working great in a Computer Science class and kids could develop all kids of apps. All you need to get started is a Google account. 

So you can get started right now and create an app for your school, your blog or, if you are feeling dangerous, design something from scratch. Do you have a favorite app designer or an app you designed with one? Leave a comment below.