Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The future is now (or at least this summer)!!!

I don't know about you, but I'm pretty tired of buying a laptop or any technology device only for it to be outdated in matter of.....days. But if you're in the market for something new and functional, then you're going to love what's coming around the corner!!!

The new HTC EVO 4G is Sprint's Android and it's amazing. Gone are the days when a cell phone was just, a cell phone. This one in particular, has an HDMI output, 8megapix camera, oh and not to mention that it also runs on droid technology...so it's fast...really fast.

Now before you go and chuck your plastic paper weight that you call a cell phone, Sprint has not listed what the prices are or when exactly it'll be coming out (for sure this summer). Verizon and AT&T are working on their 4G phones but it won't be coming out that fast.

Imagine what this could mean for school technology? How many schools out there have a digital camera and a digital video camera tucked away somewhere collecting dust? How long now till we are looking at those products as obsolete and antiques? Shall I start the timer now?

Technology is moving at an amazing pace, and we as educators have to move as fast to help our students get ready.

How far away are we till our students will be required to have a 4G cellphone for class work?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Online Classes vrs. Traditional Classes

A study done by the U.S. Dept. of Education has determined that students actually performed higher in on-line classes compared to the traditional classes. Not substantially better...but enough to start a discussion as to where the future of education should go.

On average, students doing some or all of the course online would rank in the 59th percentile in tested performance, compared with the average classroom student scoring in the 50th percentile. That is a modest but statistically meaningful difference.

Online Education allows users to take on their education in a more meaningful way. They are allowed to take part of something fun and unique. To learn something by actually putting it to use.

What this study tells us, is that the students of today need to have their instruction be taught in an engaging and thought provoking way. In order for the learning to occur the students need to be engaged in a community and if the classrooms don't support this now, the online classes will.

How does this study, change the way you design your instruction?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Say goodbye to Powerpoint!!!

I've never been a fan of powerpoint....in fact I fall in the group that just does not like it. I can't stand how restrictive it is, and I always find myself getting distracted. If you have ever felt like this before, you're going to love this.

Welcome to Prezi!!! This is a very cool presentation site that allows the presenter to choose the direction in where the presentation will go. I love it. I think it's great and easy to use....and if you're an educator you can take part of their educator's free program.

If you like what you see so far, please talk it up to your fellow co-workers and administrators. Let's all get together and move away from power point and move closer to Prezi.
Check out my first product.

Monday, January 11, 2010

An Awesome Physics Game

Crayon Physics Deluxe from Petri Purho on Vimeo.

I teach at the elementary level, but this software has to be the best way to introduce physics in a fun and engaging manner. The concept is rather simple. Move the ball from one side to the star. The trick, is you can turn 2-D objects into real life and as they fall the impact of those objects reacts accordingly to the ball.

It's a very fun, and addicting game...plus for this time only, you can download the software for your own price. Yup that's right. You get to choose how much you would like to pay for it. It's really cool, and if you're not sure, there's a free demo that you can play around with to get the hang of it. Check it out here.

How do you see yourself using this with your students?

Would you (or do you) friend your students on Face Book?

I asked this question amongst my co-workers a few weeks ago, and they all responded with a loud NO!!! The primary reason is that they believe that there should be some space between a teacher's life and the student's life. Also, they were afraid of the unknown. What if the student were to see something....what if the teacher were to see something....or the parent? These were all very valid reasons.

Yet I came across a blog post from The Innovative Educator who asked some very thought provoking questions. "How differently might a student/child's life have turned out if a trusted teacher, mentor, adult been in their life? How might an adult's life been enriched if they knew there were students who were looking to them in their online life?"

To go a bit deeper....the student who has been absent for 4 days might never tell you why or where they were, but you might discover that they had a death in the family on facebook. You might be able to see pictures of their travels and as they grow throughout the years.

The other argument, is being a digital role model. Who is going to teach students how to use the web in an appropriate manner if not for the teachers? It's an unstructured environment where the students feel like they can say or do anything without any consequences. They need to be aware that what they put out there, stays out there, and now many potential job clients are using social media to learn more about their clients.

I do think that teaching students how to utilize social media is very important, however I'm not entirely sold on friending them. I think the best way is for teachers to create a fan page, and have the class sign on there. Create weekly discussion posts, and have the class work together from there.

What has been your experience with facebook and students?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Cellphones in school...

There has been a lot of talk recently about the use of cell phones in the classroom. Is there educational use behind these little machines, or are they just a means to communicate? For some teachers, this is not even a debate. How can something that has been for some many years now, seen as a distraction and even punishable, now be seen as having educational merit? The answer to that is rather simple....cellphones are now mini computers.

Let's look at some of the features that comes on many cellphones today:
Video Recorder
Text Messaging
Stop Watch
World Time
Unit Converter
Voice Memo

That's great....but how exactly can you use this in the classroom? Well....here are just a few ideas that came to my mind:
Take pictures that relate to their books, characters, or even word patterns.
Make mini movies based on a reflection on a lesson.
Use the calculator as an accommodation for sped students.
Stop watch can be used for measurement.
World Time can be used for Geography.
Unit Converter....can be used to reinforcement in independent work on units.
Notepad, can be where they take notes and send them to the teacher.
Alarm can be used to study time.
Voice memo can be used to take notes.
Text messaging can be used for polls.

There were just the very first things that came to my mind, however there are a ton more uses for them. Teachers need to start being creative since, not every student has their own computer. This might very well be a useful alternative to just that.

Here's an article on it that explains a bit more.
And here's another one as well.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Online Training....

I'm sure that many teachers out there can agree with me when I say that I HATE TRAININGS!! Well....let me clarify, I don't actually hate what I have to learn.....I just hate the manner in how I learn it. I don't need someone to speak (word for word) on power point, and then hand me the handouts, like I can't read it myself. I find that to be insulting, and annoying. I have many things to do, and I can't do them when someone can't get off their soapbox!!!!

Now that I have gotten that off my chest, I do have to say that I LOVE ELLUMINATE. That's an online training allows users to interact with the guest speaker through either a chat window, or through a microphone. The speaker can utilize a whiteboard, which can be for presentations, videos or shared files, and the whole course is recorded and archived. So if you miss a session you can go back and watch it again and again and again.....all while wearing your pajamas in bed.

Here's classroom 2.0's site
which also has huge archived directory for you to choose from. The best part is that it's all free, with no need to sign in or register. You just select your name the program will run from there. I can't get enough of this, and I hope you are able to take the time to try it out. You just might find yourself enjoying professional development again.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Social Media Revolution!!!

I really do believe that teachers need to embrace the skills of the social media...NOW!!! I had a conversation with a teacher who mentioned that she avoided facebook because she didn't know too much about it. I thought hard on this, because I realize she's in the majority of teachers who I come across on a daily basis. Social Media is something that they did not learn in a traditional setting, which maybe the reason why so many teachers are a little apprehensive to it.

"I don't want my son to be limited to learning only what his teacher already knows!" John Couch, VP of Apple Education.

I thought long and hard after I heard that quote. It really made me think about who we as teacher are...and who we should strive to be. I don't consider myself to be a "tech person", but rather a creative, problem solver. I don't always know what the answer is....but I know where to find it.

Here's a video that I found that inspired this post....

Friday, October 16, 2009

Google Wave!!!

I now know how all the kids in the world felt when they opened their wonka bars only to find no Golden Ticket. For those who have been living in a cave for the last month or so, Google has rolled out their new innovation in communication....Google Wave. (cue in applause)
The concept is quite simple. Take the best out of all the great social media sites, and combine them into one site. Google Wave allows the user to communicate with others in real time, by integrating video, photos, and all the elements of the web into a wave. That wave can be saved and be played back later for someone else who you invite to see at a later time. It archives what each user has done, and can play it back in a historical format, so each person can know who did what....when. Very cool.
Unfortunately....Google is only offering invites to those who sign up on their page. There has been no announcement of when it will be rolled out in full force. Believe...when that happens, I'll be there. Until then...I'm going to be checking my email every couple of hours until I find my golden ticket.
If you're still not understanding what Google Wave can do...here's a video describing it.

Here is another google video that demonstrates just how cool it can be. CAUTION!!! There is some profane language...so please take caution of where you play it. Enjoy

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What does your PLN mean to you?

I'm not the most web savy person so I have to admit, when I first heard this new phrased being tossed around, I had to think hard about it. Actually....I just googled it, till I found the answer. PLN or Personal Learning Network, is how educators are able to reach out with one another and share with others new ideas, sites, lessons about anything and everything. Before the internet, (I know...think waaaaaaaaay back) teachers would reserve their collaboration for trainings. Those however would be far few and in-between. Now we are able to connect with other teachers from around the world at any given time and be able to receive feedback. The power of bringing in like minded educators is very powerful, and I have been in awe of the fantastic ideas that I have come across.

If you are not aware of your what your PLN, think about how you are able to connect with other teachers. For me I use, twitter, facebook, diggo, skype, google reader, and my own little blog. I love being able to share with other people who can make me become a better educator. I always tell people, that I may not know the answer right away, but I can find out how to answer it. Having my PLN, has enabled me to find answers to questions that I would have spent days over. Collaboration is how we are all going to become better teachers. What does your PLN mean to you?

Here is a wiki
where other teachers have made their confession of what their PLN means to them.