Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Saturday, January 17, 2009

PicLits Literacy tool

Use this free drag and drop literacy tool to create great sentences inspired by beautiful pictures. "Learn It" provides learning opportunities and examples on creating captions, compound sentences, or paragraphs. Advanced lesson plans for teachers are viewed in the "Learn It" tab as well. "View the Gallery" to see created PicLits as well as comments and ratings. After dragging a word onto the screen, choose different forms of the word by using the drop-down menu next to the word. Registration is required to use this site but a "global class" account can be created for all students to use. Here is an example PicLit that I created:
PicLit from
See the full PicLit at

Tags: PicLits, literacy

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

It's okay to ask!

Teacher's First is a wonderful resource providing great links and wonderful examples for using the vast array of websites on the Internet today.

They are even going one better with a series of live, online sessions for discussing and sharing ideas for integrating technology tools in the classroom. These sessions include Teacher's First staff (which are classroom teachers) modeling the use of tools and resources.

Choose from these sessions:
  • Find It, Use It: Exploring the Resources of Teacher's First to Plan Effective, Technology-Infused Lessons
  • A Safe Journey to the Edge: Intro to Web 2.0 Tools
The information for the sessions as well as pre-registering for these free sessions can be found here. This is a wonderful resource I hope you will attend and share!

Tags: Teacher's First, education, technology

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Plagiarism (and copyright)

Guidelines and Resources for Avoiding Plagiarism from the Public Schools of North Carolina is a great resource for students, parents, and teachers about plagiarism. As I have told others, many o the copyright problems actually border on plagiarism.

For example, a work that is free to use but needs attributed not violates copyright if it is not attributed to the original owner. It also is an example of plagiarism as you are pretending that the work is your own.

Another source of plagiarism is the confusion with what is considered paraphrasing and plagiarism. According to this source, students may change too much of the original or not change it enough. Sometimes they may keep the grammatical structure intact with only changing a few of the words.

Check out the resources above. The more information that we have and the more discussions we create about this topic will only serve to make us better users of information.

Tags: education, copyright, plagiarism, NCWiseOwl

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Teaching about copyright and fair use

Copyright and free use has become increasingly complex and confusing. Recently educational leaders have convened to sort out the confusion and look at the laws written concerning copyright. Their extensive review has resulted in documentation that makes it easier for educators and students to understand their rights. The code of best practices here contains this information which is important for understanding.

Free use:
  • All federal government works fall under public domain and are free to use. I teach students to link to all material and attribute material as it is always the right thing to do.
  • creative commons licensing - anyone can use the works according to the owner's authorization
  • older works: works older than 70 years are generally free to use unless trademarked, etc.
  • Free use information can be downloaded from here
Fair use of other materials is determined on four factors:
  1. the nature of the use
  2. the nature of the work used
  3. the extent of the use
  4. its economic effect
Courts will take the following (quoted from this document) into account when determining fair use:

• Did the unlicensed use “transform” the material taken from the copyrighted work by using it for a different purpose than that of the original, or did it just repeat the work for the same intent and value as the original?

• Was the material taken appropriate in kind and amount, considering the nature of the copyrighted work and of the use?

What we are doing in class is transformative when it takes the information from a source in a new way and manner for a different purpose or work. Information used should always be referenced and picture sources should always be recorded on the picture or linked (that is just common sense in establishing references).

Know what you are allowed to use concerning use of pictures. For example:
  • Creative commons pictures (which is where most pictures used should come from) should be attributed. That means that the name of the owner needs to be placed on the picture being used (or the powerpoint slide, movie frame, etc.)
  • Wikipedia pictures can be used, but a link back to the wikipedia article is required for fair use.
Here are a few good resources to use concerning copyright:

  • From Temple University:
  • A wiki for educators to learn about copyright and fair use:
Tags: copyright, fair use, Kristin Hokanson, Center for Social Media

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Keyboard shortcuts`

We have learned shortcuts here and there, but this great resource by Karen Jankowski is handy:
Shortcut Keys - Double

Click on the link here where you can download the document and pass out to your students!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Real World Math

Real World Math

Use Google Earth to teach Math! Use higher level thinking skills and provide active learning by using the lessons on this site. Visit the "Lessons" page to view lessons grouped into four categories: Concept Lessons, Project-Based Learning, Exploratory, and Measurement. Use the "Community" page to collaborate or submit lesson ideas. Click on the "Update" page to view new lessons or resources added. The "Resource" page contains links to other sites and tutorials that are useful.

Use this site to access lessons that bring Math to life and provide relevance to the students. These lessons provide an option to use higher level thinking skills that provide true understanding and learning of Math concepts.

This site provides exceptional ideas that can be easily used and altered in any Math (or other discipline.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Is that legal?

A question we have asked when using digital media.

For many of us, we have used copyrighted materials as well as denied students the use as well. It seems that the new guidelines of what is considered fair use to educators and students in regards to copyrighted materials will end confusion.

The new code can be found here. This will be announced formally today (Nov. 11, 2008). This wiki contains the live announcement I watched the morning of the 11th as well as specifics for educators. Another resource:

I have yet to have been asked to remove materials I or my students have used for projects, but it has always been a concern. With this new code, we now have something we can follow.

According to the Blue Skunk Blog:
Educators can, under some circumstances:
1. Make copies of newspaper articles, TV shows, and other copyrighted works, and use them and keep them for educational use.
2. Create curriculum materials and scholarship with copyrighted materials embedded.
3. Share, sell and distribute curriculum materials with copyrighted materials embedded.

Learners can, under some circumstances:
4. Use copyrighted works in creating new material.
5. Distribute their works digitally if they meet the transformativeness standard.
This does not give free license to use everything with disregard to the owner of the material. I have spent considerable time discussing with students the purpose they have for using a certain material. It needs to be used to not only create something new but be transformative (a change in the form, nature, or function of the original material.) Students need to identify the purpose for this and we discuss if something else would be better suited and the message they are trying to convey in their work. We also spend considerable time discussing design.

Students are also taught and graded on choosing pictures from appropriate sources such as Creative Commons, attributing the pictures correctly, as well as using information from the Internet and linking to the original work.

Cross-posted at Hurricanemaine blog.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Learning spelling lists...

...are always a problem with students. Traditional methods allow them to study, and though they may seem confident, results on spelling tests may be different. Create some fun and learn spelling lists using Spelling City.

Vicki Davis writes
Today, a new day is dawning when we can actually differentiate instruction. It is a brand new day and I see amazing results with my own children. (Like my first grader with spelling city.) Using technology to accommodate is a MUST do not a nice to do.

If you are an educator, take a second to consider that child you're struggling with and imagine that you were them. How would you see you?

Tools are not just great things to add to a classroom but are a must for differentiating instruction for all students.

Tags: VickiDavis, technology, education, differentiatedinstruction

Saturday, August 30, 2008

You want to, but don't know what it looks like in the classroom...

...this is a common statement. There is so much evidence on using new technologies in the classroom, but the ideas and examples are not always there.

The technology integration matrix follows the use of technology from the entry level in the classroom to the transformational. Before you dismiss the matrix below, visit their site here to see examples and videos on how to best integrate technology at whatever level you are achieving.

Go to the site. View the matrix and click on the links there or download the matrix to your computer.

Video Periodic Table of the Elements

Science teachers: Here is a great resource for you and your students! A periodic table of the elements that has a video for every element. Even better, the students are likely to get a kick out of the Einstein-haired scientist introducing the videos! The site also provides special featured videos.

The videos are hosted through you tube, but if you scroll down the page, there is an option to go to their other server that has the videos there as well. No worry about filtering issues.

How do you envision using these videos in your classroom?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Get great ideas from the revised Bloom's taxonomy...

With all of the talk about 21st century skills, how does this relate to students using higher level thinking? We are familiar with Bloom's Taxonomy. What would his hierarchy look like with 21st Century skills? Before you stop reading, think for a moment. At present, many people envision the tools as an alternative to a classroom activity (see my post here about projects). That is great, but really the transformative nature of these tools are not tapped that way. Below is a revised Blooms Taxonomy for traditional and digital activities. Use this chart and the accompanying explanations below to jump start use of the tools in new ways.
• Bullet pointing - This is analogous to listing but in a digital format. • Highlighting - This is a key element of most productivity suites; encouraging students to pick out and highlight key words and phrases is a technique for recall. • Bookmarking or favorite-ing - this is where the students mark for later use web sites, resources and files. Students can then organise these. • Social networking - this is where people develop networks of friends and associates. It forges and creates links between different people. Like social bookmarks (see below) a social network can form a key element of collaborating and networking • Social bookmarking - this is an online version of local bookmarking or favorites, It is more advanced because you can draw on others' bookmarks and tags. While higher order thinking skills like collaborating and sharing, can and do make use of these skills, this is its simplest form - a simple list of sites saved to an online format rather than locally to the machine. • Searching or "Googling" - Search engines are now key elements of students' research. At its simplest the student is just entering a key word or phrase into the basic entry pane of the search engine. This skill does not refine the search beyond the key word or term • Advanced and Boolean Searching - This is a progression from the previous category. Students require a greater depth of understanding to be able to create, modify and refine searches to suit their search needs. • Blog Journaling - This is the simplest of the uses for a blog, where a student simply "talks" "writes" or "types" a daily- or task-specific journal. This shows a basic understanding of the activity reported upon. The blog can be used to develop higher level thinking when used for discussion and collaboration. • Twittering - The Twitter site's fundamental question is "what are you doing?" This can be, in its most simplistic form, a one or two word answer, but when developed this is a tool that lends itself to developing understanding and potentially starting collaboration. • Categorizing - digital classification - organizing and classifying files, web sites and materials using folders etc • Commenting and annotating - a variety of tools exist that allow the user to comment and annotate on web pages, .pdf files and other documents. The user is developing understanding by simply commenting on the pages. This is analogous with writing notes on hand outs, but is potentially more powerful as you can link and index these. • Subscribing - Subscription takes bookmarking in its various forms and simplistic reading one level further. The act of subscription by itself does not show or develop understanding but often the process of reading and revisiting the subscribed-to feeds leads to greater understanding. • Running and operating - This is the action of initiating a program or operating and manipulating hardware and applications to obtain a basic goal or objective. • Playing - The increasing emergence of games as a mode of education leads to the inclusion of this term in the list. Students who successfully play or operate a game are showing understanding of process and task and application of skills. • Uploading and Sharing - uploading materials to websites and the sharing of materials via sites like flickr etc. This is a simple form of collaboration, a higher order thinking skill. • Hacking - hacking in its simpler forms is applying a simple set of rules to achieve a goal or objective. • Editing - With most media, editing is a process or a procedure that the editor employs • Mashing - mash ups are the integration of several data sources into a single resource. Mashing data currently is a complex process but as more options and sites evolve this will become an increasingly easy and accessible means of analysis. • Linking - this is establishing and building links within and outside of documents and web pages. • Reverse-engineering - this is analogous with deconstruction. It is also related to cracking often with out the negative implications associated with this. • Cracking - cracking requires the cracker to understand and operate the application or system being cracked, analyse its strengths and weaknesses and then exploit these. • Validating - With the wealth of information available to students combined with the lack of authentication of data, students of today and tomorrow must be able to validate the veracity of their information sources. To do this they must be able to analyse the data sources and make judgements based on these. • Tagging - This is organising, structuring and attributing online data, meta-tagging web pages etc. Students need to be able understand and analyse the content of the pages to be able to tag it. • Blog/vlog commenting and reflecting - Constructive criticism and reflective practice are often facilitated by the use of blogs and video blogs. Students commenting and replying to postings have to evaluate the material in context and reply. • Posting - posting comments to blogs, discussion boards, threaded discussions. These are increasingly common elements of students' daily practice. Good postings like good comments, are not simple one-line answers but rather are structured and constructed to evaluate the topic or concept. • Moderating - This is high level evaluation; the moderator must be able to evaluate a posting or comment from a variety of perspectives, assessing its worth, value and appropriateness. • Collaborating and networking - Collaboration is an increasing feature of education. In a world increasingly focused on communication, collaboration leading to collective intelligence is a key aspect. Effective collaboration involves evaluating the strengths and abilities of the participants and evaluating the contribution they make. Networking is a feature of collaboration, contacting and communicating with relevant person via a network of associates. • Testing (Alpha and Beta) - Testing of applications, processes and procedures is a key element in the development of any tool. To be an effective tester you must have the ability to analyze the purpose of the tool or process, what its correct function should be and what its current function is. • Programming - Whether it is creating their own applications, programming macros or developing games or multimedia applications within structured environments, students are routinely creating their own programs to suit their needs and goals • Filming, animating, videocasting, podcasting, mixing and remixing - these relate to the increasing availability of multimedia and multimedia editing tools. Students frequently capture, create, mix and remix content to produce unique products. • Directing and producing - to directing or producing a product, performance or production is a highly creative process. It requires the student to have vision, understand the components and meld these into a coherent product. • Publishing - whether via the web or from home computers, publishing in text, media or digital formats is increasing. Again this requires a huge overview of not only the content being published, but the process and product. Related to this concept are also Video blogging - the production of video blogs, blogging and also wiki-ing - creating, adding to and modify content in wikis. Creating or building Mash ups would also fit here

Friday, August 22, 2008

Overcoming frustration with projects

Many times, I have assigned a project and then at the end was left scratching my head over why it was not what I thought it would be. It seems many students do not get the big picture of projects and perhaps the expectations are not communicated in a way that they understand.

My view of projects: After the first year of using cool tools for projects, I had to stop and think was this really any better? If the project just tells information that students would use a poster for normally, then perhaps it need not be a tech project. It has just become a very expensive poster. If the goal is to place it online to elicit response from outside the school, then it is time well spent. These projects seem to take more time than a poster or other conventional project would. I view projects as a way to tell a story, to justify reasoning, to own an experience, to reflect on what they learned in the classroom...

So what are stumbling blocks and their solutions in regards to projects?
  • Many students do not know how to break down the tasks needed for the projects. All students (even academic) need a checklist of the specific information they need, the pictures, graphics, music required, or the information they have to provide in the project. Checklists also allow you to gauge timing. Students know that they must be at a certain point of the checklist by a certain class period. Tie a project progress grade to it. The journey sometimes is as important as the final product.
  • Create your rubric from the checklist and give a copy to the students in advance. It is important that they know how they will be graded.
  • If the project requires different elements to it, students can write up portions for homework. This allows you to keep track of how they are progressing. It also prevents students from writing in class as they go which takes time. Class time should be entering information. At home, work could be for finding and/or putting the finishing touches on that work.
  • It always takes some students a little longer than others. You also never know when a project is lost or it does not save at the end of the period. Provide the length of time it should take to complete and add a few days or a week. That does not mean that students get to continue to work on it that long in class (many will take advantage). It means that students can continue to come in during activity period or work during study hall. Offer an incentive for finishing early. Things happen, if they happened to us, we would ask for an extension - build one in.
  • Show a variety of tools that can be used for a project. Insisting on just one puts some students at a disadvantage. Think of multiple intelligences - some students are great at posters, some dioramas, others writing... It is not about the tool, it is about the communication. In every rubric their is a section for engaging and compelling presentation. Some students can do that writing on a wiki, others choose a podcast, while others have great imovie ideas. Make the project be a communication of big ideas.

Tags: project based learning, technology, education

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Teacher's blogs

There are many great teacher blogs that provide information on tools and teaching. Sometimes it is worth the time to read the thoughts and ideas from others who are separated from space and time. Here is a link to a list of some of them:

Up and coming blogs

As you read blogs, look at the blogroll or list of blogs they read to find interesting thoughts from other educators.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Using blogs in the classroom group 3

Choose one of the blogs linked below to review for your group. We are identifying what we like about specific blog purpose or goals, blog uses, motivation for students, etc.

Additionally, we are interested in what you can take away for use in your own classroom.

Write a comment about your thoughts and comment to this post. Remember to find a positive, a question or further thought that can be expanded on, and ways to begin a conversation. Be sure to link the blog you are discussing in your comment.

Read other comments in this post and continue the conversation. There are three other groups and different blogs links there. I encourage you to comment on the other posts too.

Your groups links:

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Using blogs in the classroom group 2

Choose one of the blogs linked below to review for your group. We are identifying what we like about specific blog purpose or goals, blog uses, motivation for students, etc.

Additionally, we are interested in what you can take away for use in your own classroom.

Write a comment about your thoughts and comment to this post. Remember to find a positive, a question or further thought that can be expanded on, and ways to begin a conversation. Be sure to link the blog you are discussing in your comment.

Read other comments in this post and continue the conversation. There are three other groups and different blogs links there. I encourage you to comment on the other posts too.

Your groups links:

Using blogs in the classroom group 1

Choose one of the blogs linked below to review for your group. We are identifying what we like about specific blog purpose or goals, blog uses, motivation for students, etc.

Additionally, we are interested in what you can take away for use in your own classroom.

Write a comment about your thoughts and comment to this post. Remember to find a positive, a question or further thought that can be expanded on, and ways to begin a conversation. Be sure to link the blog you are discussing in your comment.

Read other comments in this post and continue the conversation. There are three other groups and different blogs links there. I encourage you to comment on the other posts too.

Your groups links: