Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Image Capture App to the Rescue

Have you ever found yourself with a phone full of images you wish you could delete quickly?  If you missed the delete button after importing photos, you may be stuck trying to delete them one at a time!  

Time for Image Capture App to the rescue!  The Image Capture App comes with your MAC and makes deleting photos a snap! You can locate the app using the spotlight tool in the upper right corner of your Mac.
  1. Plug in your Phone
  2. Launch Image Capture  
  3. Select photos individually or all photos at once (command +  A).
  4. Click the DELETE icon. 
  5. Confirm the delete and goodbye photos! 

Written by Ann Feldmann

Friday, April 19, 2013

Tips for Educators Beginning to Blog

“We all have something to share and something to learn.”  

I love this quote and it reminds me of what I love most about blogging - sharing and learning. Blogging differs from a web page because it allows for two way communication.  The blogger shares ideas, inspiration, and information via posts and the reader learns and is inspired from the blogger.  If the reader leaves a comment, the roles reverse!  The dialogue between the content creator and the reader is published on the web to the public for all to read and is inspiring for both the author and the reader.  Reading and commenting on blogs is as powerful as writing a blog post.

Here are some tips for you as you begin to blog both as an individual and with students.

Tip 1:  Establish your digital presence and get your account created!  Blogging is a great way to connect your classroom to the world.  My favorite site to get teachers started is http://blogger.com.    It is part of the Google suite! Login with your gmail address and away you go! You can share classroom happenings, lesson ideas, books you are reading, educational links, videos, images, an article that sparked a thought, or an a-ha moment while teaching.

Tip 2:  Start small and dream big!   Every blog started the same way, with the first post.  That is how blogs grow, one post at a time.  Make blogging something that you get to do, not something you have to do.  Post when you are in the moment and let the ideas flow.

Tip 3: Share!  Blogs are meant to be read by an audience such as parents, students, and/or other educators.  Share the link to your blog via newsletters, QR codes, e-mail, or on Twitter.  My favorite QR code generators are http://www.qrstuff.com/ (make QR codes in color) and http://goo.gl/ (shortens a URL and if you click on details, generates the QR code too!)

Tip 4: Get your students blogging. Kidblog.org is the best place to create a classroom blog site. You, the teacher, manage the blogs and approve comments before they are posted. This is a great way to give students a purposeful reason to write and foster in them a desire to write with passion, care about grammar, proof read, and publish their work. 

Tip 5: Sharing their writing with others is powerful and necessary to ignite their desire to write and publish. Give them some time each week to read and comment on their classmates blogs.

Tip 6: Connect your classroom to the world! You can easily get your students blogs out there so other students can comment on their posts using Twitter. Even if you don't have an account, just go to Twitter.com and do a search for #comments4kids. You will find teachers post things such as this tweet below. 

Today is the day for your blogging birthday! Get an account and connect you and your classroom to the world! You will be glad you did!

“When we're connected to others, we become better people.”
- Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

Resources to get you started:

Blogging Sites:

Blog Posts and Resources
A Must Have Guide to Becoming a Better Blogger by Jeff Dunn
Blogs to Read
Top 100 Educational Blogs - http://teach.com/teach100
You can include a link to blogs you read on your blog.

Technology Tools for Teaching Resources

Connect Your Classroom to the World
Twitter - #comments4kids
Comments for Kids Blog - http://comments4kids.blogspot.com/
Quadblogging - http://quadblogging.net/

To think About
Six Years of Separation by Jenny Krzystowczyk

Written by Ann Feldmann

Six Years of Separation

We've all heard of six degrees of separation.  That is we are all connected in some way through connections of six people.  Our students are not separated by six degrees, but rather by a six year generation gap. In school there appears to be two generations that are about six years apart.  Think about it.  Consider the technology skills of a 12 year old and the technology skills of an 18 year old getting ready to graduate from high school.  Their skill sets are very different.  

This younger generation knows how to leverage technology in a way that is transformational.  We could call them digital synthesizers.  These kids learn new skills on YouTube, publish content on YouTube, post their thoughts on blogs, Reddit, and other digital platforms.  They connect with others, but not on Facebook.  They view Facebook as too mainstream - where their grandma's can see what they are up to.  These kids will be on Google plus hanging out, Instagram, Twitter and Kik.  They capture images and videos throughout their day and turn their media into shareable projects.
It's about six years. The 18 year old will know how to view media, connect on social media, but they can't compete with the exposure that six years gives their younger counterparts.  Digital synthesizers are not impressed with shiny new iPads or Chromebooks or other tablets.  Give them any piece of hardware and watch the magic happen.  They will produce, share and collaborate.  They are not just natives to technology, they are natives to social media and creation tools.

According to Malcom Gladwell, author of Outliers, The Story of Success, it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill.  So I wondered, does a 12 year old today get a 10,000 hour advantage over a current 18 year old?  If you consider the 365 day a year times 6, the difference in years, that equals 2,190 extra days of technology use and exposure.  If a kid spent 4 hours a day using technology tools, then that is close to 10,000 hours.  8,760 extra hours of practice to be exact.  

Digital Natives
Digital Synthesizers
Use email
Use Facebook
Collect digital images to share
Read blogs
Proficient in word processing, spreadsheets, and slide presentations.  
Text Messaging
Use hangouts
Use Reddit, Google+
Curate images online with Pinterest, Scoopit
Edit photos before posting
Capture, create, and post videos to YouTube
Proficient in creative applications and online publishing
Information hounds,
Verify and question information

So what does this mean for teachers?  It means we need to think flexibly. What worked for our students 5 years ago may not work for our students today, and it certainly won’t work for our students tomorrow.

It means our students are growing more comfortable with the tools around them and how they integrate into their lives. We need to continue to evolve in how we integrate these tools into our lives so we can help students make the connection between learning and these tools. While they may be more knowledgeable or comfortable with the tools, we have the wisdom and experience to provide the context for how these tools can improve their learning and apply to future careers.

It means the type of information we require from students must stem from higher order thinking like Bloom’s taxonomy.  If we continue to ask questions requiring regurgitation our students will continue to be bored and disengaged.  Siri can answer most basic questions for them.  But if we change our pedagogy to require analysis, creativity, and application, then our students will be better thinkers. Six years should be enough time to get teachers on board don’t you think.  It is time to adjust to our digital synthesizers. Sorry 2013 grads- you'll have to spend many hours of practice to catch up!

Written by Jennifer Krzystowczyk and 
Guest Blogger Dave Zukor, from Wayzata Public Schools, MN

Walking a path to successful blogging.

I am not an expert blogger, I'm just guy livin' the dream!

Blogging is truly an amazing thing.  I have read amazing posts from outstanding educators all over the world.  Some have shared personal strife and some have shared colleagues dreams!  Some have shared frustrations and some have shared how to do something.

I have personally become a better person and educator because of blogging.

I am not a seasoned blogger, I am not claiming to be some kind of expert,  I do not worry about whether or not my grammar is perfect or my sentence structure is like my high school English teacher drilled into me because it's not necessarily about that.  As an instructional technology trainer who works with administrators, teachers, and students, I often talk to teachers and admin about blogging as a way to create a digital presence.  It is a place for them to share the great things happening in their classrooms or schools.  More importantly, perhaps it can become a place they can reflect on a lesson, unit, or an idea.  Blogging can become a perfect place for reflection to happen.

Blogging can be, but doesn't have to be about conversations.  The post itself can become a place where others post comments to your post and a conversation begins, but this is where I think you can make it however you want to make it.  If you just reflect and not a single person posts a comment, so what! There is no exact way of how it is supposed to be done or what the end product should be.  It should be about you and for you!

In my experience I have sometimes blogged about my family within my professional blog.  I think this is ok because I feel like it may paint a better picture of me as a whole person.  Family is a very important part of who I am and sometimes sharing that piece of me as a professional is ok in my opinion.  I believe there is no one size fits all in blogging.

The reflection piece of blogging for the individual is invaluable.  Perhaps the most important thing to me is that maybe I will hit someone with a post, maybe someone will be inspired, maybe someone will be interested in trying what I write about, or maybe we will engage in a conversation that will make me a better person or educator.  That post might be about my family or it might be about an idea I want to share for your classroom.  The point is -just blog!  

Let's focus on kid's blogging now.  Wow!  I get so excited about the possibilities for kid's blogging.
Let me focus on young gentlemen for a moment if I may.  As a male, writing was not my favorite thing to do as a kid, particularly in grade school.  I would rather be playing kickball at recess or go to PE.  Writing for me was like pulling teeth.  In my 15 years in education the majority of young men that love to write is minimal compared to the young girls.

This is where the magic comes in.

As Bruno Mars sang "I got the Magic in me." Blogging can become Magic for kids when responses come from all over the world and you provide them an authentic audience to their work!
How do you do this you might ask?

The answer is you as an educator have to be using Twitter.  Yep twitter.  

If you connect yourself as an educator via twitter and use the hashtag #comments4kids the sky is the limit.  Twitter becomes the place where you as the teacher share the posts from the kids in your classroom thus opening up the door to a world wide audience for them.  This will get those reluctant writers writing, especially boys!

The posts the kids create do not have to be all about writing either.  They can be links to screencasts, Puppet Pal shows via an iPad, movies they have created, pictures of a field trip, audio clips, or anything else you can link up in a post!

Start blogging in Kindergarten!  It can be done, don't tell me it can't.  Get on twitter, get yourself connected and find out for yourself.  I am so impressed with kindergarten teachers classrooms that I follow on twitter because I see the amazing things these teachers are doing blogging with little K kids!
The power in which an authentic audience reads a post from a kid and gives him or her feedback is wonderful!  I have personally seen the effects of kids receiving comments and being so excited to write or share something on their blog because of it!

I highly recommend using kidblog.org for K-8. It gives you and the kids a safe, comfortable, customizable environment to blog.  High school and perhaps even middle school kids could use blogger, edublogs, or Wordpress.  I have seen it successfully done using all of those platforms.

Recently, a teacher I am working with and I collaborated to have the kids write about our great state of Nebraska!  They are 4th graders and we blog at www.kidblog.org/MrsGeldes2013 and they are studying Nebraska history so we decided to have them write about what they were learning, but better yet, we are using eduhangout.org to connect with two other educators and their classrooms in California and New York.  The 2nd/3rd graders in California and 5th graders in New York will be writing about their states and then we are going to have all the kids read each others posts and comment to each other.  Then after that we will take it up one more level by having a Google Plus EDU Hangout together at the same time with the three classes from one coast to the other!

It should be a great experience for them and yet another thing we can have the kids blog about thereafter.  Blogging is easy and it works on so many skills, but at the end of the day it's a place to share, learn, and perhaps make yourself better.  Whether you are in Kindergarten or my age. (Getting old)

So make it happen.  Why not?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Four Great Tools for Creating Screencasts on the Computer

Screencasting is a powerful tool to use in the classroom. Screencasts allows students to work independently with the ability to pause, play, rewind, and play material over and over again. There are free web based tools such as ScreenR and Screncast-O-Matic or computer software such as Quick Time Player (free on the Mac) and Camtasia (for Mac or PC) to allow users to create screen casts.

1. ScreenR (http://www.screenr.com/) is a free, easy to use, web based screen casting site that works on either a Mac or a PC. The site is user friendly and allows you to capture and record your computer screen to create screencasts up to five minutes in length.

2. Another web-based option is Screencast-o-matic.com. ( http://screencast-o-matic.com/) It  is a free, “one-click screen capture recording” that doesn’t require installation or sign-up. It allows up to 15 minutes of high definition screen-casting, with direct upload to YouTube. The site is user-friendly, and allows you to screen-capture and record yourself with a webcam at the same time. It is great for creating short, quick tutorials.

3. If you have a Mac, you can use QuickTime Pro to create screencasts.  Quick Time comes with the Mac. Use the spotlight tool to search for QuickTime Player. Tip - You must turn on the microphone the first time you use it or you won't have sound. Check out this screencast to learn how.  An advantage to QuickTime Player is the ability to add the video to iMovie and jazz it up with text and music. iMovie exports to several places, my favorite is to your YouTube channel. From YouTube, videos are easy to organize into playlists and share.

4. Camtasia is a robust program that you can purchase and download for either a PC or MAC from http://www.techsmith.com/camtasia.html. In addition to screen recording, you can also include video from your camera and edit the video. The software provides a variety of tools such as an arrows and shapes to emphasize a section of the screen, graphics, callouts, and pre-recorded themes. The videos are easy to upload and share.

Written by Ann Feldmann