Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Whole World - Now Free


Now is the time to download the pro version of Google Earth. What used to cost $399 is now 100% free!

What does this mean for you? Read more about it in this post by Google.

Try it out and let us know what you find useful.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Snip! (It has been hiding on your computer all along!)


I remember taking some old school scissors and glue to assemble custom learning materials for my students. There were times when I got super fancy and used tape! The end result was a paper that was custom made for my class to address some unique need.

Paper will always have a place in our classrooms but is there a way we can make custom materials that address the needs of our class digitally? Check out the Snipping Tool!

How to find your Windows snipping tool:

Open the Start screen.

Start typing Snipping.
Click on the Snipping Tool to launch the program.

Right click on the icon and pin it to your taskbar.


Using the Windows snipping tool:
Find what you need cut.
Click on the Snipping Tool icon on your taskbar.
Example: I need this information I found on the district webpage. You can snip anything you see on your computer screen. That includes your Image Mate software. This is one way to take parts of student work to save and show as exemplars.


Click New.
Use the + icon to select the portion of the screen you need.

Edit the image if needed.
I used the highlighter tool to draw attention to the important dates.

Next Steps
Save the image.
Add the image to a Google Slide or PowerPoint.
Add the altered image in an email.

You can take these newly created resources and place them pretty much anywhere.




Thursday, January 22, 2015

Did you know you can do this amazing thing with your ELMO?



Sometimes you need to show something under your ELMO and display a website at the very same time. That amazing mix of ELMO and website is possible with this technique.

(Note: Don't have Image Mate on your laptop? Take a look at this post and you will be up and running  in no time.)

1. Open the website you want to display.

2. Click and drag the website all the way to the left (or right) until the cursor can't move anymore. Then release the mouse.

3. Your screen should look like this image.


4. Open Image Mate. You can quickly find it on your start screen by typing Image Mate.

5. Click and drag the edges of the screen to re-size the ELMO image.

6. The perfect ratio of website and ELMO! 


Monday, January 12, 2015

Podcasting - Understanding to Production


What is a podcast?
A podcast is digital file that can be streamed or downloaded to a variety of devices. Most of these are going to be either audio or video files.

Here are a few interesting samples. Some are directly related to the classroom and others are just downright interesting.

1. Scientific American
This site offers a number of super short clips that are updated almost daily. The best part is they are only about 60 seconds long. Some of the topics will be closely related to what you are teaching and other topics are best not played in many classrooms.  I like this clip about what type of device to read on before bed. Is it an iPad or a paper book?

2. NPR
Here is a HUGE list of most every program on NPR around the country.

3. 4th grade - This page has a great selection of realistic fiction written and recorded by a 4th grade class.

4. 5th grade - Listen to these personal narratives recorded by 5th grade students.

5. audioBoom - audioBoom created a page of past projects to help you generate ideas and give you a point of reference of how you can use the tool with your class.


Discovering Podcasts

Method 1

Start with a simple Google search.
There are occasions where Google just won't return any results you can really use.
Method 2
Open iTunes.
Click iTunes Store on the upper right side of the screen.
Scroll to the very bottom. 
Click Podcasts.

Search through the categories for interesting podcasts to listen to.

iPad
There is a stand alone app called Podcasts.  Use that app for finding and subscribing.
A great place to start is looking through the New to Podcasts section.

Method 3
Download an app to help you discover and organize all your podcast content.

I use this app exclusively. I heard about it on a podcast and now only use this app for podcast content.
They have Android and iOS versions available on their website. The app does cost $3.99, this was the best app purchase I have ever made. I spend hours a week listening to the TWiT Network and Freakonomics Radio to keep me up to date about topics I am interested in.


How might I use podcasting in the classroom?
Take a minute to listen to the classroom samples in the step above. The students had an exceptionally short mini lesson on how to use the audioBoo (also known as audioBoom) app. One teacher showed a small group of students who where then charged with teaching the rest of the class. The bottom line is the technology does not get in the way of the content.

Podcasting Ideas:
This is a very short list of ideas to get you thinking about what you and your students could podcast about.

1. Something like that super popular Serial podcast. The author records and releases a new chapter about every week. The story is compelling and people keep coming back to hear the new content.  Maybe this is an option for some of your students who write and create at a much faster pace and you are looking for a way for them to reach a different audience.

2. The two classroom samples are a great example of what you could do without a lot of extra work or time. Taking the writing the class is already producing and sharing it with a larger audience.

3. Reenactments or retelling of certain events in social studies. The students team up to record about certain events or topics. After these recording are completed the teams can either present their findings or the class could go on a audio gallery walk within the classroom.

4. Audio tour of your classroom procedures. This could be used for those brand new kids who show up suddenly throughout the year. The new student could be given an overview of your classroom and could potentially be up to speed about how you run your classroom in a very short amount of time.

5. Collect exemplar level works to save as examples for the next semester or year.

6. Have your class create a sound seeing tour during the next field trip. Use those recording to better prepare your class the next time you take the same field trip.

Tips/Things to Ponder:

  • Some students will need to record more than one take. The first time using the app might take a few extra minutes.
  • Record in the hallway to reduce background noise. Can't use the hallway? Have the student sit with their back against a wall. The microphone will then be pointing towards the student and not at the rest of the class. The back against the wall method does help reduce some background noise.
  • Have them practice reading out loud a time or two before recording. The act of pushing the record button can be intimidating at first.
  • Set a firm deadline! Have all recording posted by a certain date much like you would do with a written assignment.
  • Having the students listen to the recordings is a very concrete way to teach about voice. Does it sound more like a story or an informative piece?



Easy steps to creating a podcast.
The idea is to create a quick audio clip that others can listen to without taking too much time.  This kind of narrows down the choices which is why a few teachers use AudioBoo (Audio Boom) as their main podcasting tool.

Getting Started
audioBoom for Education
Schools and universities around the world are embracing audioBoom as the easiest, most effective way to give teachers and students a voice. Audio enriches the curriculum, engages the learner, and creates conversations that build community. Take a look at some amazing ways that audioBoom is reinventing the classroom experience.

There are just three steps to publishing work on audioBoom. Most every audio recording is instantly available for the world to listen to. It might be a good idea to have a discussion centered on digital footprints and how to be a good digital citizen before you begin.

Step 1:
Sign up.  Make sure to pick a username that is recognizable to the public. 
Examples:
Classroom Cardinals - not sure who those people might be. Is this the class my son is in?
MrDavitt or MrDavittsClassroom - much easier to see who this page belongs to. It appears you are not able to use special characters or spaces in your username.

Step 2:
Down the app. or visit AudioBoom
Sign in and start recording!
Once the recording is upload anyone anywhere can listen.
The student will need to add a title and description to the clip before it will be published.
Note: if your students are under 13 they can't sign up for their own account. What other Lindbergh teachers have done is just login with the teacher account to record and post.

Step 3:
Take the address of your site (example: https://audioboom.com/MrDavittsClassroom) and publish that on your teacher webpage and social media sites. The new audio clips will be posted under the Activity and/or Post tab.

Want to embed your clips on your blog? Read this.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

What has been around for over 10 years and people are now just realizing the massive impact?


Podcasting!

What is a podcast?
A podcast is an audio file you can listen to online or download to your device and listen at another time.

Why have kids podcast?
1. Super easy!
2. A great way for a student to check their fluency and re-record parts they are not happy with.
3. Share with the world! Parents and peers can hear what was recorded at anytime.
4. A super modern way to publish your work.

Getting Started
audioBoom for Education
Schools and universities around the world are embracing audioBoom as the easiest, most effective way to give teachers and students a voice. Audio enriches the curriculum, engages the learner, and creates conversations that build community. Take a look at some amazing ways that audioBoom is reinventing the classroom experience.

There are just three steps to publishing work on audioBoom. Most every audio recording is instantly available for the world to listen to. It might be a good idea to have a discussion centered on digital footprints and how to be a good digital citizen before you begin.

Step 1:
Sign up.  Make sure to pick a username that is recognizable to the public.
Examples:
Classroom Cardinals - not sure who those people might be. Is this the class my son is in?
MrDavitt or MrDavittsClassroom - much easier to see who this page belongs to. It appears you are not able to use special characters or spaces in your username.

Step 2:
Down the app. or visit AudioBoom
Sign in and start recording!
Once the recording is upload anyone anywhere can listen.
The student will need to add a title and description to the clip before it will be published.
Note: if your students are under 13 they can't sign up for their own account. What other Lindbergh teachers have done is just login with the teacher account to record and post.

Step 3:
Take the address of your site (example: https://audioboom.com/MrDavittsClassroom) and publish that on your teacher webpage and social media sites. The new audio clips will be posted under the Activity and/or Post tab.


Resources
5th Grade Students - personal narratives
4th Grade Students - personal narratives

Audioboo for Education: Let's get started! - this page has two screencasts explaining how to use the site.
Student samples on the Audioboo website.
Give students a voice by Audioboo - a blogpost explaining how the site works.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Cookies and your iPad. (UPDATED!)

Have you hit a website on your iPad that asks you to allow cookies?  Follow this process to enable cookies.

See below for Chrome.

Click Settings.


Scroll down.


Click Safari on the far left.
Scroll down in the new Safari window that appears on the right.
Click Block Cookies.


Click Allow from Websites I Visit.

Chrome
Open Chrome on your iPad. 


Click the hamburger icon in the upper right corner.
Click Settings.  



Scroll down.

Click Content Settings.

Make sure Accept Cookies is On.
  

Friday, January 2, 2015

Sometimes music is too much.

You want some noise in the room but there are times when music is too much.  What do you do then?

Check out these apps and sites.

Coffitivity

I really love this one.  You can mimic the sounds of a coffee shop, lounge at lunch and a university.  The ambient background noise really helps me tune out what is around me to focus on what is in front of me.

Simply Noise

The page for this site isn't the most appealing.  Click one of the buttons to change the type of noise generated.  I do like this but at a very low volume.


Where did I find these?  I was reading Inc. and found this article about 10 Productivity Strategies Backed By Science.

What do you think of using these sites in your classroom?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Sometimes you just need to jump into the uncomfortable. (Do you have $99 and 54 hours to join me?)



Go to this link. Startup Weekend EDU St. Louis
Scroll down and watch the video.
That short video got me thinking.  This is a very unique opportunity to work with others in the area making something that has a potential for changing the way we do things.  How in the world could I pass it up?

I just signed up to go to this startup weekend event. It is $99 but I felt it was something I couldn't pass up.
I have no idea what to expect other than a ton of energy and excitement.

Shoot me an email if you are going.
Colin

Parking your car somewhere soon? Check out this app.

Parking ramps can be a little sketchy. I didn't want to park here anymore. I was on my way downtown for the NCTE conference and was...