Friday, December 21, 2012

A Reflection On 2012-The Most Popular Posts

As we close out 2012, let's take a look back at the most popular posts here.

With the release of the Apple iBooks Author many educators jumped at the chance to create their own textbooks and books for the classroom. But what if you don't have access to it or don't use Apple in your district? There are lots of other ways to make living textbooks and books. Better yet, there are lots of tools that kids could use. In So...You Wanna Make Your Own Texbooks and Books I gave a few of my favorite tools and others contributed some in the comments. 

Seemed like no one could escape the term "flipping" this year. At ISTE there were several workshops and sessions dedicated to teaching the masses about how to flip their classroom. I still don't buy the concept of flipping the classroom. (I know, I've been saying for a while I need to write a post as to why.) But when it comes to faculty meetings, I think the flip could work in everyone's favor. Freeing up time from pointless and boring meetings to do meaningful professional development could have a big impact on student learning. In Flipping...It's Not Just For The Classroom and Flipping Your Faculty. It's Easier Than Videos I discuss how it could be possible to flip those faculty meetings and provide a time for real learning and the tools to make that happen. 

Data can be boring. Reading a bunch of stats may be fun to your neighborhood statistician but to your Average Joe it could put one to sleep. Infographics have been around for a while but for the better part of this year there were new one's coming out each week on various topics. Teaching with and through infographics can be challenging, yet rewarding. In So...You Wanna Make Your Own Infographics, we look at several different services to make infographics without a Masters degree in Illustration and also look at some ideas on how kids can use infographics for learning. 

In our district one thing is for sure. Our kids and teachers love Edmodo. Not only do most of our teachers have a space set up there for their classrooms, many of our district PLC groups have spaces there to share information and grow professionally. Across the country Edmodo saw their platform grow in popularty as well. But what is it all about and how can teachers use it effectively? In Why You Should Give Edmodo A Try we explore how we've been using it here and how you can start using it in your classroom. 

Lastly, I had tried for over 2 years to figure out Evernote. I would install it, try to use it and forget about it. For New Years this year I committed to getting myself organized and I thought Evernote would be the perfect way. I am hooked. (Even paid for a Pro Account.) I can't live without my Evernote. In How Things Changed With Evernote we look at my experience and how I use my Evernote. In What Do You Mean Evernote Could Get Better?  I explore the many ways educators are using Evernote and how you can extend its use with lots of third-party apps. 

Those were my most popular posts this year. Thanks so much for reading and sharing with me this year!

What are some things you would like to see me write about next year? (Hey about about that post on flipping for a start!) Leave me some comments below. 

photo credit: TaniaMG via photopin cc

Monday, December 10, 2012

Flipping For Your Faculty...It's Easier Than Videos

Lots has been made about flipping over the past year or so.

Unfamiliar with the term?

No problem. Here is an explanation.

So the idea is, there is some sort of information transfer (basic information about a learning concept) outside of the learning environment (classroom) allowing for further discussion or extended learning when in the learning environment. (I made that sound all fancy. Neat!)

The watered down version is that we front-load information about a concept outside of the classroom so when kids are in the classroom the time is spent on knowledge extension or deeper understanding of the content.

I will admit it. Not a big fan of flipping the classroom. (Another post for another day.) I am however a huge fan of flipping faculty meetings.

We've all been there. Those meetings that drag on, and on, and on. Seemingly pointless meetings that, while they may have had a purpose, it got lost in the message. Many meetings are just information transfer. What are the dates for training for administering the next state exam? Who is going on the field trip? Remember to walk your kids to the cafeteria. But think about if that hour/90 mins/half day was spend on meaningful, embeded professional development that was participant driven? We complain we don't have the time for that really good PD. Why? Because we are meeting all the time. So instead, lets flip it. Let's front load with all the basic information we all need, freeing up that faculty meeting time for more learning, PLCs, sharing, etc.

But what can you use to share the information. You need something easy. Something that won't take a whole lot of time. But will communicate what you need it to.

Videos. Ah. The traditional tool of the flipper. For some, a great option. There are some easy to use screencasting tools out there (Screencast-o-Matic being my favorite), but for the time strapped administrator, creating a script, shooting and editing can be too much.

What are some other ways you could flip those faculty

Padlet-Online sticky notes can be a simple and easy way to post information to your staff. Create a free account and post. You can even have staff post back. So, for brainstorming, data analysis, or where does everyone want to eat on Friday, Wallwisher is an easy option to share information and gather feedback. (Learn more about Padlet here.)

Voicethread-Perhaps my favorite way for Admin to flip, creating a Voicethread is a snap. Upload an image, PDF, PPT, doc,or short video then leave comments on each "slide." I was working with some administrators and they were talking about putting anonymous walkthrough data in Voicethread and commenting on it for each of their grade levels. Easy! Best part? Just like Wallwisher, it's collaborative so faculty can leave voice, video or text comments on each "slide." (Learn more about Voicethread here.)

Edmodo-If you aren't using Edmodo as a school community you really should be. You can easily post notes, memos, announcements, polls and more to everyone, right in one, private place. (Learn more about Edmodo here.)

So those are my 3 alternatives to videos for flipping for your faculty (or even the classroom). Do you have some other suggestions? Have you flipped your meetings? How is it going? Leave some comments below.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

#Eddies12-The Edublog Awards 2012-Voting Now Open!

The nominations are in and the voting is open for the 2012 Edublog Awards. I was humbled to learn that for the 4th year in a row I have been nominated for Twitterer of the Year and for the 3rd year in a row this blog was nominated for Best Edtech/Resource Sharing Blog. It really is special for me just to be nominated in those categories. #Edchat was also nominated for Best Educational Hashtag for the 3rd year in a row, which is really awesome too!

Wondering how to vote? It's easy!

Head over to the Google Doc. Each tab is a different category so you can see who was nominated and who made the short list.

They head over to the voting page. You can only vote once per IP address so if your school has all the same IP you will want folks to vote from home.

Then tell all your friends to vote too!

You have until 11:59pm EST on Sunday, Dec. 9!

For me the best part of this whole process is discovering new blogs, thought-provoking blog posts, new apps and more. I definitely use the winners and all those nominated when folks ask for blogs to read or people to follow on Twitter.

I hope you will vote this year. Even if it's not for me I hope you will check out all those nominated and all the finalists.

Good luck!