Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thing 21 - Screencasting

1. Review the Flipped Classroom wiki, and reflect on the elements of a Flipped Classroom that you could incorporate in your classroom.
-I see the flipped classroom as something that could enhance my teaching and student learning, but not something I would do all of the time. Flipping the classroom ocassionaly would allow for variety of delivery of information and keep my teaching from becoming stale. I'm always the kind of person that will be interested in new techniques and ideas, but won't throw out the tried and tested of the path. "Don't throw the baby out with the bath-water." Keep the best of the old while discovering the best of the new.

2. My screencast:

3. Reflect on the strengths or weaknesses of your screencast, and strategize how you can improve your next recording:
The strength of the screencast is that students can view it any time any place a computer is available. It takes something that would take up learning time in class and moves it to home where it could be viewed anytime.
The weakness of this screencast is that it is too long and not focused enough. In the future I will break the screencast down into smaller pieces so that students can view just the part that they need help on. For this one I would break it into a section on how to fine tune the form, one on how to write a current events summary, and a third where I would highlight the different web based current events sources.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thing 20 - Online Video and Audio Resources

I used Learn 360 to download a video titled Africa: The People, which gave my students a brief overview of African History and Culture.

1. Describe how you could integrate online video and audio resources into your classroom instruction.
I use video and audio resources all the time in my classroom. I use "This Day in History"  nearly every day in my history class. I've downloaded numerous videos for Learn 360 for my Social Studies and History classes. I use YouTube and TeacherTube to show brief clips that enhance my teaching. I use audio sources for things such as the dramatization of primary sources (example: American Rhetoric has audio dramatizations of speeches like the Gettysburg Address read by people like Johnny Cash or Jeff Daniels). I also have downloaded videos on iTunes like America: The Story of Us from the History Channel. I also teach an exploratory class on media discernment so I regularly use iTunes for songs and Youtube for video clips. 

2. Explain the features of one of the tools listed above
Learn 360 allows for searching by topic and grade level and media type, so is very useful in finding exactly what I need.
iTunes allows me to subscribe to podcasts that will enhance my own personal knowledge, and sometimes find stuff that may be useful in my classroom.
3. Compare/contrast the strengths and weaknesses of the video resources compared to audio resources in your reflection.
Both the audio and video resource are invaluable tools that enhance teaching and appeal strongly to the visual or audio learner. They allow for variety in the presentation of material. Video has an advantage in the fact that it is both sound and sight and often the resources can be used for instruction. The audio is often something that will enhance teacher knowledge and something that might not be used directly in the classroom, although there are many audio source that can be. Some of these sources can also be posted to my courses' Moodle pages so that absent students can view them or other students can view them for review.

Thing 19 - Digital Story Telling

1. Create a storyboard for your project. Post a screenshot into your blog.

2. Choose one of the resources listed to create a short 2-3 minute video that includes title, content, transitions and music. Post your digital story to your Face of the Classroom site; provide the URL for the site.
Site URL:  Video can be found at Valley Forge Video. Video produced on Windows Live.

3. Write about two ways digital storytelling can be used in your classroom or educational setting to help meet multiple means of expression.
a) Digital storytelling can be used by the teacher to present information in a multimedia format to try to reach students on an audio and visual level - a way to reach more of the multiple intelligences. It also can be posted online for use by those who are sick or for review.
b) Digital storytelling can be used as an assignment choice for students to produce for a topic of study. It forces the student to think through carefully what should be included by means of the storyboard, and it reinforces the material to be learned. I know that in producing this 3 minute video for this project that I can easily remember the information that I included.

4. Include some feedback from a student or a peer about your project and what suggestions for improvement were recommended in your reflection.
From a peer: "It would be easier to read if you used a drop shadow on your font.  It was very well done, even though some of the pictures were quite gross!"
From a student: "It reinforced things I had already learned about Valley Forge."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Thing 18 - Virtual Classrooms

1.A plan to extend my classroom. I'm currently teaching a series of lessons on South Africa focusing on Apartheid then the election of Nelson Mandela. I found a South African middle school on ePals that is interested in a cultural exchange. My students can share our culture with them as they share what life is like in post-Apartheid South Africa

I can also extend my classroom by "flipping" it. I can Moodle post a screen cast of a lesson then use class time to assist students in doing something that applies the information in a new way.

2. summarize what is necessary to be successful as an online student:
Whatever it takes to be a successful student... what it takes to be successful at this 21 things class: self-motivated, non-procrastinator, focused, self-directed, but with appropriate support and mentorship; knowing who can answer your questions. There needs to be appropriate accountability or students could easily slack off.

Thing 17 - Professional Learning Networks

1. LearnPort - This is another good resource for educators, but I did not find it as user friendly and useful compared to a site like Thinkfinity. I was able to use NetTrekker to find good resource for use in my classroom, but it would not be the first site I would go to.

2. Twitter/Facebook - pros and cons of using this in or out of the classroom
Twitter can help engage students. It can foster "metacognition" (the practice of thinking about and reflecting on your learning) It forces users to be brief and to the point -- an important skill in thinking clearly and communicating effectively. It could be used to remind students of homework or other class activities. It could be used for quick responses to what was talked about in class. Twitter could encourage community in the classroom as students "Tweet" about activities in the classroom. It would need to be carefully monitored so that cyber bullying does not occur and comments stay focused and appropriate. I use my Facebook account to stay somewhat connected to the what is going on in my students' lives. As an example, I know when a student's pet died and could help the student deal with that. I wouldn't just wonder why that student was in a bad mood on a particular day. 

3. MACULSpace - A Facebook-like site to stay connected with other educators who want to make good use of technology in education.

4. Professional Organization: describe the a) purpose, b) cost and c) benefit of membership within the organization. d) Explain the unique skills and abilities you could contribute to the organization.
I've researched the National Council for the Social Studies:
a) Here is a quote from the website that desribes the purpose of the organization:
"Social studies educators teach students the content knowledge, intellectual skills, and civic values necessary for fulfilling the duties of citizenship in a participatory democracy. The mission of National Council for the Social Studies is to provide leadership, service, and support for all social studies educators."
b) The cost would vary depending on what resources were chosen, but the regular membership, which includes a subscription to publications and discounts to conventions is $66.
c) Benefits of membership include a subscription to Middle Level Learning, a publication that contains lessons for middle school social studies educators, access to member written lesson plans, a searchable article archive that could be used in middle school classrooms, a list of notable trade books that could be used in social studies classrooms, the ability to collaborate with other educators through state councils for social studies educators, plus a NCSS national conference.
d) What I would bring is 22 years of experience in teaching history and social studies from 3rd grade through 8th grade. I bring a passion for teaching and a love for children. I bring a desire to help children learn from the past and learn to look beyond their own community to the world.

Thing 16 - Research and Reference Tools

1. Compare Contrast of: SIRS Discoverer Deluxe and nfoTrac Junior Edition  a) appropriateness, b) usability, c) content, and d) credibility of the pair of databases for use within the classroom
I prefer the SIRS interface - it seemed more user-friendly and helped me find documents better suited for use in my classroom with a very clear readability guide. They were both appropriate, but I found SIRS to have better usability and content that was more focused on what I was looking for. They both came up with some of the same documents and they are all credible sources. These would be very good databases to use for classroom research.

2. General Reference Center Gold: Higher level magazines like The Economist but useful for background infromation for me. It led me to a short article in Color-Lines magazine that tells about a South African man named Solomon Linda who wrote a song that became known as "The Lion Sleeps Tonight", which earned millions in royalties while his daughters worked as domestics and could barely feed their families under Apartheid South Africa. He sold the song for $2 and the laws forbade blacks from negotiating over rights for music.

3. Citation using tools within MEL

Wines, M. (2011, April 4). 1991: the end of Apartheid: South Africa's brutal system of racial segregation was abolished 20 years ago, making way for democratic rule. New York Times Upfront, 143(12), 16+. Retrieved from

4. Book citation using "Son of Citation Machine"' See screenshots below. This book can be used to make Apartheid more real to students.
Naidoo, Beverly. Journey To Jo'burg, A South African Story. 1st. New York: Harper Trophy, 1988. Print.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Thing 15 - Staying Informed

This is an important tool for my own learning (and enjoyment). I chose Al Jazeera and BBC because they give a different slant to the news than American news organizations. The RSS feeds help me quickly see the biggest stories in the world and lets me choose some current events topics that may have a connection to a topic we are studying in class. I also have easy access to my email, docs, and calendar on one page.

Thing 14 - Productivity Tools

1. Word has made it easy to save as a PDF file. Just do a "save as" and choose PDF. Portable Document Format may be necessary as an accessibility piece. Some students don't have Word or the same version of Word, so PDF allows them to open the file since anyone can download a PDF reader for free.

2. Zamzar was very easy to use. There are many output possibilitiesof different file types for Images, Documents, Music, Video, Ebooks and other types such as zip. The biggest issue this will solve is compatability. It won't matter the platform on which you may need to view a file, Zamzar can convert whatever file you need to a format that your platform can read. You could also convert a web page to a PDF or other document type for easier access or emailing. It was very useful today when a student emailed me a current events report as a .pages file and it wouldn't open. Zamzar converted it to a .doc file that I could open, and it was very easy to do.

3. I've created and shared multiple Google Calendars with my family so that any of us can add events and know instantly if one or all of us have an event. Our school uses the Moodle calendar for homework, and the course page of Moodle to highlight topics of study and coursework and study guides. Parents can sync the homework calendar with their Google Calendar or Outlook Calendar etc. To create another calendar would be redundant and perhaps be just another site parents would need to check in order to stay informed. They already need to check PowerSchool for grades and Moodle for course information, I don't think adding a Google Calendar would be helpful but redundant. That being said, because we share course information on Moodle with a sync-able homework calendar and grades on PowerSchool, there is no reason for parents to be uninformed about the education of their child. I think access to how a child is doing is better than ever, but it does take motivation and effort on the parent's part. As for communicating with colleagues, we us Google Docs often and effectively to get things done and communicate with each other (though we are a small enough staff that we often still communicate the old fashioned way: face to face!)

Thing 13 - Online Interactive Learning Tools

1. Fly to Friesland, Netherlands:

2. Placemark my house:

3. Here's the link to my flashcards:
This will be very helpful for kids who struggle to learn vocabulary. It gives a lot of options for review and will really help students who don't know how to study. I love the multiple formats/games to learn the material. I also love the speak it feature for auditory learners. The student could take the test here as well, then be confident coming into class to take the quiz in the classroom.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Thing 12 - Assessment/Evaluation and Survey Tools

1. Google Form: Here's the link to my form:

I teach an elective course about media discernment and this form was used to get a feel for what the students listen to and watch. This gives me a starting point for what we will listen to and watch in class to help students be critical consumers of media. I can also use forms to get a quick class overview of class concepts with a quick 5 to 10 question quiz or survey so I can look for trends in certain responses. Google forms is nice because I can get the whole class' answers in one document, rather than 60 separate papers. Plus that saves trees! Here's a screenshot of part of the completed form:

I have students create a PowerPoint (or other presentation option) ABC book about people, places, or events in the Eastern Hemisphere as a way of sharing things they have learned as well as helping classmates learn new information. This rubric helps the grading of the project be more objective and lets the student be sure of what is being evaluated.

3. Data warehousing, SIS etc. can be very useful to let a teacher know if a student is showing growth over time. It also can show if there is a certain topic or standard that a student is struggling with. It can also give a school the opportunity to look at whether large groups of students may be struggling with a topic or standard every year. It may not be a student learning problem, but  a school delivery of instruction on that topic problem.
FERPA/HIPAA is important so that a students privacy is  maintained while information can be provided to sources that need it as long as the proper protocol is followed.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Thing 10 - Digital Images

1. I used the FotoFlexer website to edit the picture below ( I cropped the image, added a cartoon effect and a frame and glitter text.
 I would use this kind of photo editing a lot with my yearbook staff. I could see the editors have a lot of fun putting effects on yearbook photos. We would have to be careful not to overdo it though, as this is such a fun thing to do. I don't know how much I would use this in my social studies classes, but I'm open to suggestions as to how others might use this. I'm not sure of the educational advantage of this compared to the time it might take to do the editing. I suppose students could find historical/cultural photos and create a comic book/sketch book that retells the event.

2. Here's a link to a Picasa page I set up so multiple people from multiple groups could upload pictures of our Middle School trip to Art Prize:

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thing 7 - Digital Citizenship

The first hoax site I examined was about dihydrogen monoxide being a dangerous chemical that should be banned.

      The author is Tom Way – Script coordinator, researcher and production assistant in Hollywood. The registrar of the site is GoDaddy.

Dihydrogen Monoxide is Water! 2 Hydrogens, One Oxygen=H2O=Water! Simple research or knowledge is needed to realize this is a hoax.

The website seems to have an obvious slant toward making money with all of the commercial space given. Serious research sites would not have something so blatantly commercial. 
This site has no relevance to anything, unless a person were researching a hoax.
This site claims to updated as of today, but when I changed the date in the settings of my computer, then refreshed the site, it showed the new date as the “last updated” date.
There are absolutely no sources for the information listed. There are links to real organizations like the Center for Disease Control and the Environmental Protection Agency to perhaps try to lend credibility. There is a place where the DHMO quotes an email from the EPA which insinuates that the EPA is trying to cover up the harmful effects of dihydrogen monoxide, but when you know the truth, the EPA is really trying to get the DHMO to stop the hoax so that “innocent” (ignorant?) people don’t fall for it.
The purpose seems to be to trick ignorant people into writing congressmen and looking foolish and/or to make money from the same people if they buy a product the site is selling. This little image should tell you that the author is not a scientific minded person, but a person with whom P.T. Barnum (there’s a sucker born every minute) would find kinship.
Serious science or serious charlatan?

There is no sneak preview to see what the lessons might look like

     The second web site I did was which tells that because of certain geothermal  conditions, Mankato, MN is a tropical paradise.


This is actually put out by a professor intending to show his students that you can’t believe everything you read on the internet. A fictional Internet Web site that describes Mankato, Minn., as a tropical paradise was featured last week in a New York Times story about why information on the Net can't always be trusted.


Not at all, but obviously so (at least to most people)


Reliably hilarious, all the way to the disclaimer at the end! Check out the heading: ATTENTION: This site has been hijacked by Sheikh Yarbouti. We are trying to resecure it. Because of this the proper Web address may not appear in your browser address window above.
The City-Mankato.US Website is published using 100% recycled electrons (at least 27% post-consumer). Please Recycle When Finished.

The creator of this site, Dan Descy says that "It was designed for a class to show that you can't believe everything you see on the Net", proving that CARRDSS is necessary!


Updated: The First Monday of Each Month (insert tongue firmly in cheek)



None, but to most educated people, there is enough humor on the site to be sure that it is satire.


College professor making a point to students that just because it’s on the web does not automatically make it reliable.


Posting Personal Information and Netiquette

1. I will use the core rules of netiquette to have my students go through, one of the ten topics per week. I'll have them blog or do a "Todays Meet" backchannel conversation to share their response to the rule of the week.

2. I will use little video clips from NetSmartz workshop to highlight the need to be careful about what personal information you make available and what should or should not be posted on the web.



Saturday, October 8, 2011

Thing 9 - Copyright and Creative Commons

I used an online copyright quiz from I gave the quiz to my colleagues. We didn't do that well. The maximum score was 75% and the minimum was 33%. The mean was 52% and the median was 57%. The incorrect responses were almost equally split between things they thought should be illegal but weren't, and things they thought were legal but weren't. The upshot of this is that my staff has not had adequate training in copyright vs. fair use. My principal was one who took the quiz (neither the highest nor lowest score), so it should be easy to persuade him that we need a little refresher on this topic.

Creative Commons Example:
Creative Commons License

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thing 8 - Visual Learning

Easy to use and easy to see. Gliffy works quite intuitively.

These visual representation tools can be useful for the teacher by allowing me to visually represent information. They are easy to create and customize and can be used from year to year. Visual representation tools can be used by students to create their own graphic organizers just as I described the teacher may do. Graphic organizers can be used for pre-writing organization or visually representing material. I'm glad they're available online for free.

Text from blog captured in Wordle

Declaration of Independence done in Tagxedo

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Thing 4 - Communication

I could see using this in my classroom to make sure everyone participates and allow classmates to clarify information. I think it would be a novelty and distracting at first, but then it would be useful to keep the students minds engaged and so that information could be clarified.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Thing 6 - Differentiated Instruction

The clip about 21st Century Learners was very interesting. I loved the look at the school that had lots of media tools, but could put them away when they weren't the best tool for the job. I also found the idea that 21st Century Learners don't need to be as concerned with learning content as in working with it/producing something with it. I really like that idea. I also believe that we don't get enough out of the technology students already have such as iPods and phones. We need to be able to harness that and use it appropriately in the classroom.

1. Differentiated Learning: To me, the key to differentiated learning is variety. I already incorporate many of the aspects of differentiated instruction in my classroom, such as flexible grouping and giving choices. I also make teaching concept driven and I try to push students to think creatively and critically. I don't want a regurgitation of the facts, but a creative application of the facts and the ability to apply them in a new situation. While I do incorporate some differentiated instruction, I still have much to learn.

2. Digital Text: This reminded me that the textbooks I use are also available online. The student can choose to have the online version read to them, and it is human voice rather than the stilted computer voice of the text-to-speech engines like Vozme. Students are also able to highlight, underline, and add online postit notes into the text so it is much more interactive. Most students like to have the text read aloud to them, so it makes those students for whom reading is difficult not feel like they're "different".

3. I did make an account on Learnport and explored there a bit, but the thing I'll reflect on are the great current events resource I found on the UDL site that will work for both my 7th and 8th grade classes. The different ways these sites organize current events and how they are presented to students allows students to choose a way that works best for them and allows them to choose an article that piques their interest, rather than just choosing and article to get the assignment done. Below is a screenshot of my 8th grade Moodle page:

4. The text to speech converter of Vozme is easy to use and I like that no software needs to be installed. It will be very useful for copying and pasting bits of website text into for students who struggle in doing research because of a struggle with their reading vocabulary (as opposed to their listening vocabulary, which is normally higher for most students).

Here's the link to the video:

Thing 5 - Thinkfinity

Thinkfinity lesson plan from iCivics: "Why Government?" Synopsis from the website:
By illustrating and sorting captions, students follow the development of John Locke's theory on natural rights. They then become familiar with Thomas Hobbes’ statement about life in a state of nature by exploring their own opinions in comparison to those of Hobbes. Students learn the vocabulary associated with the philosophy of the purpose of government through an activity called “word math.”

This is perfect for what I'm planning to do this week in 8th grade U.S. History. We will be looking at the Declaration of Independence, and this lesson is perfect for establishing the groundwork of where the ideas expressed in the Declaration came from. This lesson examines the philosophies of John Locke and Thomas Hobbes.

Thinkfinity lesson plan from National Geographic Xpeditions: "Culture Shock". Synopsis from the website: This lesson asks students to think about how cultural customs differ throughout the world. Students will research a foreign culture's customs and write stories pretending they are on vacation with a friend from the country they have researched. They and their friend will travel to a new country that neither person is familiar with, and students will describe each person's reactions to the new culture and how these reactions differ based on each person's own cultural customs and habits.
I'll be using this in 7th grade social studies where the focus is the Eastern Hemisphere. This will allow students to review and put into practice some of the ideas and terms we've already covered this year while getting a general overview of many places in the Eastern Hemisphere.

I think Thinkfinity may be my new favorite website!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Thing 3 - GoogleDocs

I've used GoogleDocs for a while. My staff puts working documents on GoogleDocs so that all of us can access it and make adjustments to it. We've collaborated to plan chapels, to plan how to show appreciation to support staff, and brainstorm how to publicize our school more effectively. I have a language arts colleague who has students hand in stories on GoogleDocs (all our students have Gmail and our school uses Google Aps for Educators) and she would add comments on the Doc for editing purposes, and then final copy comments before they received a grade. That is something I would like to try this year. I'm our yearbook adviser, so I share a GoogleDoc spreadsheet with my yearbook staff to track advertising sales and who is calling whom. See the examples below.

Thing 2 - Face of the Classroom

That was fun...and easy to use. Here's the link:
Right now it has general information related to school. Much of it is what I have on my webpage on our school's website, but I see this site as being more versatile and easy to use. I look forward to adding content related to the actual classes I teach (7th grade Eastern Hemisphere studies, 8th grade U.S. History).

Thing 1 - Diigo

Here's the link to my Diigo site: . I love that you can search through other people's bookmarks. It's also great that you can search using multiple tags to narrow down your search. I'm still in the process of tagging the favorites I imported from my browser. I also enjoyed stealing some of Ron's favorites. At this point Diigo will not make me more productive because I spent so much time looking through other people's Diigo sites (some really cool ones - I looked through one, clicked a link that looked interesting, spent time on that site, then try another and it leads me somewhere else... 2 hours later - back to my Diigo) . Once I get it organized it will help greatly because it won't matter whether I place the bookmark on my computer at home, my laptop, or my desktop at school. And the ability to search by multiple tags will help me find the site I'm looking for much more quickly. I also love the ability to highlight and add post it notes to websites. That will come in handy for my own research, but also when I begin to use it with students, helping them locate the most important information.

Thing 1 - Shortcuts

I already knew the staple control shortcuts of A, C, V, X, Z, P, but I didn't know the triple click one (as seen in the image). That one will help when I need to quickly copy a paragraph to paste (especially from a website into a document). I also really like the paint format option. I never knew what that brush would do. That saves a lot of steps depending on how complicated the format you are painting is.
Having the shortcuts reference card might be nice at first, but for the shortcuts really to be shortcuts require that they become more second nature. So I focused on a couple that can instantly become part of my repertoire (triple click, paint format) because they were easy to remember. I also added Control-K to my control shortcut memory to add a hyperlinK. It always frustrates me to watch others use Word without using shortcuts because they could be more efficient. I probably frustrate more proficient Word users because there were more ways to be efficient that I didn't even know about. Here's to becoming even more efficient.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

On Blogging

  • What makes a good blog?

  • I think "good" might be in the mind of the blogger. If you are blogging about something you are passionate about, for you it is a good blog. Chances are there will be others who feel the same way. I think a good blog should have correct spelling and be straight forward. Don't mess it up with "bells and whistles" that don't enhance what you are trying to say.

  • How could a blogs enhance your classroom?

  • A blog could enhance my classroom by "knocking down the walls" and allowing students (and their teacher) be more self-reflective learners. Collective knowledge and encouragement could be shared and self-directed learning might be more likely. In a classroom setting, some students might be reluctant to share their thinking or opinion, but a blog might allow the reluctant speaker to open up. At the very least, I would have a peek into the mind of all of my students, not just the ones who were called on in class.

  • Are blogs an easier way for people to self-publish?

    Absolutely. It is free and available almost anywhere. It might not get a lot of readers and it would be hard to make money on it, but the main purpose of a blog is not to make money, but to share your ideas and experiences with a group of like-minded people (or relatives).
  • Tuesday, September 20, 2011

    First Day

    I've created a blog on the first day of this 21 things course...mission accomplished. What I want to get out of this course: Learning new technologies that can become a useful tools for me and my students.