Friday, September 6, 2013

The Next Generation of Presentation Tool

The other day I had the fantastic fun of working with two math teachers and their Algebra and Geometry classes to kick-off their year-long personalized learning textbook project. These two brilliant teachers have crafted an innovative way to both present information in their math classes and have students create meaningful products that show what they’ve learned.

First I’ll focus on the presentation tool. I can take zero credit for finding this tool or realizing its potential. That all came from Mr. and Mrs. Math. In fact, the first time Mrs. Math showed me Nearpod, I didn’t really get it. But now I do!

Nearpod lets you create a presentation on your teacher laptop that is highly visual and interactive, both features we’ve come to expect from 21st century presentation software and apps. But Nearpod takes it to the next level by giving you the ability to send your presentation out to a classroom full of iPads. As you swipe your screen, students’ screens change too. No more squinting at the SMART board, no more craning your neck around the tall kid in the front row, no more turning off all the lights so kids can see the screen. With Nearpod, the presentation is right in front of them, on the iPad screen.

Even better than each student having the presentation showing right in front of them, is the interactive capability of Nearpod. Today when I presented, I put an interactive slide after each content slide I made. In other words, first I talked about using technology appropriately in school, then I asked a polling question where the students decided whether or not a behavior was appropriate or not.  I loved being able to do this all in one device and app! And, once each student had entered a response, I could share the results out to the students. Immediately they could see how their answer compared to the class much like the “clickers” many other classrooms are using.
(Quick math aside: students immediately asked and questioned the use of percentages to display the results – we had a quick, relevant, engaging math lesson on percentages, yea!)

Nearpod also has interactive tools like open-ended text questions, allowing you to ask deeper and more probing questions. As students answer these, you can see each response next to each student’s name. And, if there is a particularly poignant response, you can share that response (anonymously) out to the class. What a quick and easy way for students to see models of the kinds of responses they could craft.

Math teachers will particularly like the ability for students to draw as an assessment. Teachers can upload an image, say, of a graph, and each student can draw over that graph, say, calculating slope. As they submit you see a tiny screen shot next to each student’s name. And, again, you have the ability to choose one of those drawings and share it out to the class. Because it is anonymous when you share, you can easily share common mistakes as well as exemplars. Students really liked this feature. They liked being able to draw their answer (and personalize it with color, etc.) and they liked seeing what their peers did. Let’s face it, in a middle school class, they are so much more interested in what their peers are doing than in what the teacher does!

I think the best part of Nearpod was when students said this after the lesson:

“Can we do that again?”

In terms of explicit instruction and the I do, We do, You do, model, Nearpod rocks the house. I’m really excited about exploring its possibilities for the times when you need to do whole group instruction because it feels so much more collaborative, interactive and personalized that even the most amazingly fantastic Prezi.

More coming on what we did next, and how these students are going to build their own interactive textbooks!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

"Ask yourself, would you do this offline?

This isn't the tagline from a digital safety website, this is a submission for a new laptop background from a 6th grader at my school. Each 6th grade submission was full of great advice like this. Reading these submissions was so satisfying because it was clear that kids now understand a great deal about what is and what isn't okay to do when online.

I was thrilled that my school elected to spend 4-5 lessons of an advisory period on digital citizenship. Digital citizenship has become more and more important to me as I've watched my own children experiment and explore digital media and as I see more and more teachers using Web 2.0 and social media tools in the classroom.

I am a tech geek so I am excited about the digital world our children and our students can explore. The possibilities for young people to impact the world and to leave a positive digital footprint are unlimited. But we also know that there are many misteps along the way as well. Many a student will upload a silly-to-the-point-of-gross YouTube video of themselves or leave a comment that they think is funny but is actually hurtful. So we need a chance in school to get them thinking and reflecting about what online posting is all about. These 4-5 lessons were a great start.

We wanted a curriculum that was developmentally appropriate and that would loop each year, exposing all students to important topics each year of middle school. Sixth graders would study Internet scams and cyberbullying. Seventh graders would consider copyright and fair use issues in a unit called "Yours, Mine or Ours?" Eighth graders would delve into the murky world of social media and discuss what staying safe online really means. We were able to adapt all of our lessons from Common Sense Media, an organization devoted to educating and advocating for sensible use of today's media.

Common Sense Media's K-12 curriculum was the perfect starting point for our lessons. They had great activities and resources for the kinds of topics we wanted to pursue. We adapted the lessons to fit our time and format and then referred teachers to the website if they needed more ideas or information. Teachers appreciated having the lesson materials and kids liked the updated and relevant activities.

But what I really loved about our units were that each one ended with an authentic assessment. The 6th graders were asked to design a laptop background. The top winners across the school will actually become the background of our school computers next year!

The 7th graders produced "Creator's Checklists" - a list of items students should consider when creating with digital content. Again, the best examples will be used to make a creator's checklist that will become part of the published student agendas for the next school year. That's right, the best checklists will actually be printed in the student calendar/resource that every students carries around every day, all year long!

And finally, our 8th graders were asked to make Public Service Announcements (PSAs) about staying safe online. Now, I have to say that asking 8th graders to take on a task like this in the spring was a major challenge. I am looking forward to moving this digital citizenship unit into the fall for next year when I think we'll get much better responses. *smile*

I am really proud that the staff and the administration at my school understood that we needed a systematic approach to teaching digital citizenship at our school:
  • lessons that every student were exposed to,
  • tasks that were engaging, relevant and authentic, and 
  • materials that any teacher could use and that any students could understand. 
If these desktop background submissions are any indication, our kids have learned a lot about how to be digital citizens now!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Website of the Week: ZooBurst

Easily create your own 3D pop-up book, great for lots of uses. The site is free, but requires an email address for registration.

The books are super easy to create, can include a mix of pictures and text. Pictures can be imported from your computer so you can use your own pictures or download pictures from the internet. When you create a book the owner can specify the privacy settings. See the Zooburst gallery for some interesting examples.

I have already had teachers try this format for Science presentations on how the sun creates energy, I could also see using it to:
1) Tell a fractured fairy tale in Language Arts
2) Detail the life of a famous figure from History
3) Give a tour of a cultural region in a World Language class
4) Have English Language Learners tell a story using new vocabulary words.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Website of the Week - Pixlr

Need to make some quick adjustments to a digital image but don't have Photoshop? Try out Pixlr, a free, online photo editing website. Pixlr has three levels: Playful, Efficient, and Advanced to suit your editing and tech savvy needs. Want to get rid of wrinkles? Airbrush out that antenna you didn't notice? Add text or a border? Pixlr can do it all. Perfect for student multimedia projects.

See if you can find the antenna I airbrushed out of this picture! Pixlr is so eary to use, editing this photo only took me about four minutes. This is a great solution so students that want to do editing to images for their digital stories, prezis or animotos!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Games + Global + Math = Excited Students!

My school just had the wonderful opportunity to participate in World Maths Day. World Maths Day is part of the World Education Games which is "an annual global online challenge to get all students (4-18 years of age) excited about learning, and to give the top students in all schools an opportunity to see how they measure up against the best in the world."

Basically, for free, you can enroll your students at Then the fun begins. Students log on and play one minute games with other students in their age group from around the world.

As students play, they see an avatar and the name of the country of the student they are playing. As students answer questions correctly, a bar moves across the screen showing their success. Students can also watch as their competitor's bar moves across the screen. Each game is only a minute so students stay motivated as they try to keep up with their competitors.

After one day of play, I got the following email from a math teacher:

OH MY GOODNESS! The kids are SO hyped about World Math Games!

Yesterday another teacher said to me.

If we could play World Maths Games everyday, my kids would know their math facts perfectly.

When I went into a classroom to watch students play during the live event (which runs from March 5th to March 6th), it didn't look (or sound) like a typical math class. Kids were partially standing at their computers, talking excitedly across the room, and were deeply focused on achievement. I have written before about the power of games to engage students (see Videos Games Could Save Schools and Running to Get to Math Class) and these games were no different.

While I had been attracted to the World Maths Game for its potential for students to make global connections, I was fascinated by the different ways students were engaged with the games. One student really want to compete against her peers. She would call out "One, two, three" and students would all start a game together. They loved competing against the other students in the room. Others were intrigued by where other students were from. I heard many students commenting on the countries of their opponents and occasionally a student would just call out the name of a country. Other students really wanted to know how they measured up to students around the world and continually check the Hall of Fame board set up in the game.

Despite a snow day on the second day of the event, World Maths Day was a huge success for our school. Over 52,000 correct math questions were answered, over 400 students participated, and hundreds of students had fun doing math. I look forward to expanding our involvement in the games next year, including fundraising for the UNICEF School-in-a-box program. Until then I will continue to look for opportunties for students where they:
  • experience success
  • have fun while learning
  • make global connections

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Final Session of Virtual Book Club - How will you "Rock the World?"

Our final session of Virtual Book Club discussing Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds by Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis is already this Monday, March 18th at 7:30pm EST (that’s Tuesday, March 19th at 12:30am GMT)! For your time zone, click here. We will be discussing Chapter Twelve - Rock the World!

Use this link ( to log onto the live session or watch this space for a posting of the recording afterwards.

I can't believe it is our final session. This Virtual Book Club has been a wonderful space to connect with educators from all levels that are passionate about their work, are life-long learners, and are willing to share all they know as well as question what they are still learning about.

As I plan for the final session, I am looking for any remaining questions that we haven't addressed yet. Please take a moment to leave a comment on this blog with topics you would like to see covered in the last session. Whether it is a question you have about how global projects work, ideas about how to set up rubrics for collaborative projects, challenges using wikis or blogs, or comments about the value of connected learning, let me know so that we can take some time on this last day to chat and reflect on the subjects that are important to you.

If you missed the session last week, listen to the most recent recording here: Virtual Book Club March 4th/5th and please share your thoughts on this blog: Virtual Book Club. Our focus was Chapter Nine - Celebration and Chapter Ten Designing and Managing a Global Collaborative Project.
I think the big themes of the session were these:
  • Find as many opportunities as possible to give students feedback about their work, whether it is an awards ceremony gala, a carefully written note or just pulling chairs into a circle to talk. Kids are starved for feedback - feed them!
  • Be creative when thinking about time and space - using Skype, VoiceThread or Blackboard Collaborate might allow experts, parents or other teachers to be a part of your celebration.
  • Take time to reflect and celebrate projects as a professional. Whether it is privately, publicly, online or face-to-face, take a breath and consider what worked well and what you want to repeat.
  • Start somewhere with a global project - join one that already exists, start with a teacher you know in another place, plan your own, but START.
And if you are just finding us in time for this last session, please feel free to drop in! We welcome all educators that want to learn more about global projects or share what they have already learned.
Hope to "see" you there!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Website of the Week - Voki
Create an animated avatar that speaks, create a customized avatar that uses text-to-speech to say what you write. Vokis can be embedded in Blogs, wikis and websites.

Ideas for the classroom:

1) In History, research a famous historical figure: have them "saying" a famous quote.
2) In Language Arts, create a voki for a character in a novel. Have them "saying" a line of dialogue.
3) In World Language, have students introduce themselves in the target language
4) In Math, have students define mathematical terms.
5) In Science, have vokis report the results of a lab.

For more ideas, check out: Voki Lesson Plans

Monday, March 4, 2013

Meeting #5 of Virtual Book Club - How do you celebrate?

I can't believe our 5th meeting of the Virtual Book Club discussing Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds by Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis is already this Monday, March 4th at 7:30pm EST (that’s Tuesday, March 5th at 12:30am GMT)! For your time zone, click here. We will be discussing Chapters Nine and Ten – Celebrating, Designing, and Managing Global Collaborative Projects.
Add your voice to our group! Use this link ( to log onto the live session or watch this space for a posting of the recording afterwards.

I am really looking forward to sharing ideas about how to best celebrate student projects. This is a weak point of mine so I'm excited to review the ideas in Chapter Nine with teachers. And I'm already thinking about how we can celebrate the closing of Virtual Book Club at the following meeting. Ideas welcome!

Chapter Ten also has so much rich material for discussion. This chapter really walks you through how to design and manage a global project. It will be so meaningful for our network of teachers to share what they have done that works, what new ideas they got from the book and what questions they still have.

Join us and add your expert or novice voice!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Ways to offer students choices was the theme of Session #4 of the Virtual Book Club! If you weren’t able to join us, listen to the recording here: Virtual Book Club Feb 18th/19th and please share your thoughts on this blog: Virtual Book Club. We have been reading and discussing Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds by Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis  and our focus this time was Chapter Seven (Choice) and Chapter Eight (Creation).

We began with some great comments:
  • @Durff shared that she tells students on 1st day that they are all intelligent (Gardner), it is her job to find out how to make them shine
  • Jim shared that he believes teachers should be helping students learn, not giving them the answers
  • Laurel mentioned that some students need content delivered directly from teachers before they are able to make choices in the classroom (and shared an interesting book: Why Students Don't Like School?)
  • Monica added that she likes to model how she learns so that students feel comfortable making mistakes in her classroom
We also struggled with considering how teachers can create choices in the classroom in a time of standardization and high-stakes testing (at least in the United States).
  • Paul shared that part of personalizing the classroom is establishing relationships with students - it isn't just about content, it is about connecting
  • Michelle talked about the need to let teachers have choice as well - when something is working, having the freedom to pursue it, not have to stay lock-step with a scripted program
  • Elena introduced the idea "of individual teachers being 'experts' with specific tools and working collaboratively with their peers is a more manageable and realistic approach for interdisciplinary teams."
We also shared our own struggles and challenges with creating and maintaining electronic spaces for learning with choice in mind. We all agreed that monitoring electronic spaces are difficult to maintain and that we would love to have ongoing eportfolios that follow students through their years of learning in a school (Google Sites, KidBlog, Evernote, Weebly and even PhotoStory were shared as ideas). We debated a bit about how to choose new tools - what is trendy, and what is trendy with a purpose? Paul raised a great point about involving students in planning electronic spaces and many shared stories about ways they've done this.  As part of this, we also wondered how to make sure more students have access to technology beyond the classroom.

From there, we talked about how to structure learning experience that offer students ways to make meaning. Rocky shared the idea of students meeting with teachers to create useful materials for them and Robyn shared a bit about a project her students are doing to save rhinos! Interestingly, we found we have less experience offering students chances to invent or build. It would be fun to talk more about how we could build these concepts into our teaching more.

We ended by trying out the break-out room feature in Blackboard Collaborate. I guess I modeled the idea of the "teacher" not being perfect but willing to take risks since I had no idea how it would work! :) Thanks to everyone who was there for humoring me and experimenting along with me.  I think we'll try these small groups again next time with a focus question. Big virtual hugs to @Durff for telling me more about how to use this effectively at future sessions. And my apologies for those of you listening to the recording since there will be a long pause when you are listening (another important aspect of this tool for me to understand!).

Thank you again for everyone that participated. I'm reminded of the quote by C. S. Lewis cited on page 34 of this book:
The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.
Thank you for being in my circle and adding to my wisdom! And to Mara for agreeing to co-moderate. If anyone is interested in co-moderating next time, please leave a comment or send me an email, I'd love your help!

Our next meeting will be Monday, March 4th at 7:30pm EST (that’s Tuesday, March 5th at 12:30am GMT). For your time zone, click here. We will be discussing Chapters Nine and Ten - Celebrating, Designing, and Managing Global Collaborative Projects. Hope to “see” you there!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Students Use Phones to Record Lit Circles!

This is one of those ideas that is so good, I wish I had thought of it:

Have your students use their phones to record their Literature Circle Discussions!

The other day I walked into Ms. Z's room for a meeting on another topic but the first thing she shared was the idea above. She was so excited! Having spent years developing different routines and procedures for Literature Circles (or Book Club Meetings as she calls them), she had never been satisfied with how she was assessing student participation in discussion. She described past lessons where she made herself crazy trying to dip in and out of each group's meeting, manically scribbling student quotes, dashing down notes, and completing checklists. It was stressful and an incomplete pictures of how the book clubs were doing.

On this day, she told each group to take out a cell phone and record their meeting. At the end of class, each group was to email her the file of their discussion. Voila! A simple solution for holding each group accountable for their meeting ("Don't say that, this is getting recorded!") and for her to listen more deeply in class ("I could sit and really listen to the meeting.") and for her to follow up on individual contributions (Ms. Z could listen to the meetings later in the day and give specific feedback to students about their role in the group). What a difference.

What I love about this idea is that:
  • it is simple - record the meeting, email the teacher
  • it uses technology that students already have with them (even in our very economically diverse middle school, there was at least one cell phone per group)
  • it puts responsibility on the students (Ms. Z reports that students were even more on task than usual, knowing their discussion was being recorded)
  • it amplified the teacher's ability to give feedback to students (she could now be in more than one place at a time!) 
I'd love to hear from others what they think about this strategy. Have you already been doing this? What makes it work well? What challenges have you faced? How has administration responded? Students? Parents? Can you think of other times it's useful to have students use their cell phones to record? Please leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Website of the Week #4

Have a SMART Notebook file that you need to open or edit, but don't have your work laptop handy? This site from SMART Technologies allows you to open, edit and create SMART Notebook files without having SMART Notebook installed on your computer. There is even a free download of SMART Notebook Express available. While it doesn't have all the functionality, it can be a great help.

Meeting #4 Virtual Book Club - Add Your Voice!

Looking forward to our fourth meeting of the Virtual Book Club discussing Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds by Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis Monday, February 18th at 7:30pm EST (that’s Tuesday, February 19th at 12:30am GMT). For your time zone, click here. We will be discussing Chapters Seven and Eight.

Add your voice to our group! Use this link ( to log onto the live session or watch this space for a posting of the recording afterwards.

We have had some powerful conversations so far about digital citizenship (see The Making of Digital Citizens), building and maintaining a Personal Learning Network (see Launching into a River of Information), and starting and joining global project (see The Virtual Book Club Has Launched).

This is a community of teachers sharing with teachers: reflecting, listening, sharing, questioning. Join us!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Making of Digital Citizens

What a rich discussion we had last night during Session #3 of the Virtual Book Club! If you weren’t able to join us, listen to the recording here: Virtual Book Club Feb 4th/5th and please share your thoughts on this blog: Virtual Book Club. We have been reading and discussing Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds by Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis  and our focus this time was Chapter Five (Digital Citizenship) and Chapter Six (Contributing and Collaborating).

We confessed, bragged, questioned, shared tips and traded resources on the topic of Digital Citizenship. It seems there is always more to consider from using images in our presentations to setting our privacy settings but we all agreed that we need to model strong digital citizenship for our students and explicitly teach them how to be a thoughtful contributor in the digital world.
  • Connie shared "Just as we model and teach ways to effectively present and collaborate in face to face groups, digital citizenship is just another layer."
  • Joseph agreed and asked, "Students need to understand that there are differences in communicating on facebook, twitter with friends versus using this type of media in school...but how to teach?"
  • Elena commented, "It[digital communications] also provides an opportunity to evaluate how we interact with each other face to face. Sometimes in the middle school environment, speaking to others with a certain tone or attitude can become the norm."
  • Amy agreed, "Not only do we need to relate to our students using technology but we need to teach them how to communicate in positive ways using technology"
Some of the great resources that were shared to help with teaching digital citizenship were:
Some tips given about getting students to care about digital citizenship:
  • Use real-life examples (read Chris' story here) and facts (thanks to Laurel for sharing that 70% of employers look at digital footprints)
  • Have students create Digital Citizenship materials (Digiteen and Digital ID are examples)
  • Provide an authentic audience (when students see that others are actually reading/listening/watching their work, they care more)
  • Make it easy for students - provide them with music and images that they can use
  • Model by adding the URL for photos within classroom presentations
  • Use your librarians! They often have lessons ready to go on this topic
  • Start with a private wiki or an Edmodo class where you can monitor and give feedback to students before collaborating with another classroom.
  • As Rocky has done, actually contact authors and artists to request permission to use their materials. (Read more about what Rocky has done here)
We wrapped up by sharing a bit of advice about getting started with global projects and we all got really excited about trying Mystery Skype. And, as usual, the time flew by. I never knew an hour could pass so quickly!

A huge thank you to Vicki Davis for joining us in between prom planning and Flat Certified teacher training. Your professional generosity is unending. Another thank you to Jim for picking up as co-moderator. It is so helpful to know someone else is listening, reading, typing and talking as fast as I am! And a thank you to all the busy educators who took time out to share, question, and connect.

I'm looking forward to our next meeting on Monday, February 18th at 7:30pm EST (that’s Tuesday, February 19th at 3:30am GMT). For your time zone, click here. We will be discussing Chapters Six (Choice) and Seven (Creation).

Monday, February 4, 2013

Session #3 - Virtual Book Club - Join the conversation!

Our next meeting of the Virtual Book Club, discussing Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds by Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis, will be Monday, February 4th at 7:30pm EST (that’s Tuesday, February 5th at 3:30am GMT). For your time zone, click here. We will be discussing Chapters Five and Six.
Join the conversation! Use this link ( to log onto the live session or watch this space for a posting of the recording afterwards.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Website of the Week #3 WebQuest Maker

Free to use! Register and create your own WebQuest or choose a grade band and subject area to see WebQuests that may meet your needs. Each WebQuest has an introduction, task, process, evaluation and an evaluation rubric.

Once complete you have a web address that can be posted to your website, learning management systems or just written on the board!

Webquests are still one of the best ways to create real-world tasks for your students while providing access to relevant websites and scaffolding tasks.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Launching into a River of Information

We had a wonderful second session of the Virtual Book Club discussing Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds by Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis,.  Our focus this time was Chapter Three and Four which discuss ways teachers and students can connect and communicate with a global audience. If you weren't able to join us, listen to the recording here: Virtual Book Club Jan 22nd/23rd and please share your thoughts on this blog: Virtual Book Club.
We had fun exploring different social media tools that we each use to broaden our PLNs. Some of the tools that were highlighted were: Google Reader, Flipboard, Zite, Diigo, Twitter, LiveBinders, Scoop.It, Storify and two that were new to me: and Feedly. We all agreed that these tools helped us curate the web and share what we are learning with others. However, we also discussed the feeling that as we reach out to take a drink from these nourishing waters, we are sometimes met with a firehose blasting back at us with an overload of information!
Suggestions for dealing with this "River of Information"
  • from Michael in Australia - "Follow Quality, Get Quality, Quality Beats Quantity." That might mean only following 4-5 blogs in your Google Reader or using hashtags to search in Twitter instead of following 1,000 people. (#globalclassroom, #flatclass, #sschat, #2ndchat were all mentioned)
  • from Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds by Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis - designate two times a week where you read through posts and links for 15 minutes. Think of it as a PLN workout.
  • many thought that starting with Diigo was a good plan. Here two groups to follow: Flat Class Educator's Group and EdTechTalk.
  • from Sharon in Mumbai - don't suffer from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). You can't read everything.  It is okay.
  • from Theresa in IL - sometimes you need to "Mark as Read" and move on. See above point about FOMO.
After sharing what the term "teacherpreneur" meant to us, we engaged in some thoughtful conversation about how to work with Standards, Administrators, Colleagues and Hardware limitations. There was definite collective agreement on the following:
  • "teacherpreneurs" can and should embrace state or national standards for their curriculum and expertly weave these in with innovative, collaborative projects.
  • reaching out to administration and colleagues is important and necessary for long-term sustainability of projects but it is hard and takes resilience
  • hardware might  not be exactly what you want, but make it what you need
  • connecting with other "teacherpreneurs" keeps you motivated and inspired. As Michael said:
when you are part of a community, you will surprise yourself. this is not something you need to do alone
Finally we talked about getting started with global projects. Here are some of the resources and projects mentioned. We will definitely talk more about these as the weeks go on. And remember to check out the numerous projects mentioned in the book!
Thank you to everyone who joined us or who has been posting on the blog. It is wonderful to hear and read the insights, doubts, mantras and beliefs of teachers who care about the work they do with students. Your students are lucky to have you!
Our next meeting with be Monday, February 4th at 7:30pm EST (that's Tuesday, February 5th at 3:30am GMT). For your time zone, click here. We will be discussing Chapters Five and Six. Hope to "see" you there!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Join us for Session #2 of Virtual Book Club!

I am looking forward to our next meeting IN A FEW HOURS, Tuesday, January 22nd at 7:30pm EST (Wednesday, January 23rd at 3:00AM GMT), for your time zone, click here. We had a great session two weeks ago and I am excited to hear thoughts from teachers about connecting and communicating with teachers around the world, being a "teacherpreneur," and advancing "technopersonal" skills of our students and ourselves.

To join us and discuss Chapter Three of Four of Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds by Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis, please use this link:

If you missed the first session, no worries, the recording can be accessed here: Virtual Book Club January 7th

If you can't make the live event, share your thoughts with us on this blog! Click on the chapter you want to comment on and add your ideas, questions, connections and thought grenades!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Call for Proposals for Great Free, Online Conference

The FREE 4T Virtual Education Technology Conference will run from May 18th-May 21st.  There will be 45 workshops and breakout sessions on all aspects of technology in education.  This is a great conference hosted by University of Michigan School of Education graduate students. When they wanted to learn more about educational technology in their coursework, they put out the call to teachers world wide. The result is this excellent, free, online conference!

Last year I had the opportunity to present at the 4T Virtual Education Technology Conference on two topics: Digital Writing and Global Classrooms. It was a great experience with attendees from across the United States and around the world. It was also a great opportunity for teachers I work with to share the amazing things they are doing. We had fun doing panel presentations with each teacher taking about 10 minutes to share their lesson ideas and resources. This was a great introduction to online presentations for teachers. 
The 2013 4T Virtual Conference's Call For Presentation Proposals is now OPEN!  Consider presenting! The organizers were very helpful if the technology is new to you. Here is the link to make a proposal:  And follow them on Twitter or use this hashtag #4t2013

And if presenting isn't your thing, certainly register. The conference is free and they are providing free CEUs to participants. Register here: I always learn the most from other teachers sharing what they are doing and a conference called "Teachers Teaching Teachers about Technology" is all about just that!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Website of the Week #2

Power My Learning is a free, web-based learning platform. It contains over 1000 educational games in a number of different content areas. Games are easy to find in grouping by subject area and grade level. And when I say games, I mean excellent, thought-provoking, content-rich learning experiences. Power My Learning isn't filled with arcade-style bouncing balls, it has simulations, movie-creation, authentic learning opportunities. They are engaging and worthwhile.

The website is free and but you do need to create an account. The account has lots of advantages including assigning games to students and saving your favorite games. The rating system also helps steer you towards the kinds of websites you are looking for and make it a breeze to find great stuff.

I can easily seeing this becoming a great first stop for teachers when lesson planning or a top recommended link for parents who know students crave screen time, but want to make it worthwhile when students are logged on.

Do you use Power My Learning? What do you see as its benefits?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Virtual Book Club has Launched!
What an exciting start to the Virtual Book Club! If you couldn't attend live, here is the recording to the event: Virtual Book Club January 7th. Our next meeting will be Tuesday, January 22nd at 7:30pm EST (Wednesday, January 23rd at 3:00AM GMT), for your time zone, click here. Please note, this is a change from the original schedule.
We had over 30 teachers participating live from five countries and four continents and "a whole mess" of states across the United States. It was lively with a very active chat, loads of folks taking a turn at the microphone and more than a couple of technical glitches. Here are some highlights:
  • A huge thanks to Theresa Allen for co-moderating with me. She kept things rolling when my computer decided to challenge me and supported new-comers with Blackboard Collaborate tips and tricks.
  • Another big shout-out to Lisa Durff for setting up the Blackboard Collaborate room and checking in on us to make sure things were working, and for spreading the word about the club.
  • Big virtual hugs to Michael Graffin and other Global Classroom Project teachers for jumping in and sharing ideas and inspiration about how global projects can be tackled by anyone, anywhere.
  • Deep and heartfelt thinks to author Julie Lindsay for being a part of our first discussion. Your presence added depth and meaning to the conversation.
  • ACPS super-teachers that reached beyond their own comfort zone to try out new technology, shared their challenges, asked their questions, and connected easily and powerfully with educators around the world
  • Each educator that took time out of their busy lives to spend an hour sharing stories, connecting and lending their digital support to the concept and work of global projects. As we said last night "We might all be crazy, but this way we can be crazy together." *smile*
Highlights of the discussion:
  • Finding ways to show that all students, all ages can be empowered by and be powerful through global projects
  • Being creative with the technology that is available and maximizing what you have
  • Learning about successful projects that are already running and available to join
  • Thoughts about how to have global project running in many grades so that students have repeated exposure to the opportunities to collaborate across classrooms
  • Stages of global projects, from exchanging information between classrooms to have students co-creating with classrooms around the world
  • The challenges of researching global projects, specifically what needs to be measures in education and where higher ed is vs. K12 teachers
  • How global projects will continue to evolve with new technology
If you couldn't join us, we hope you can make it next time or leave some comments on this blog!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Website of the Week #1

Hoping to make this a new habit. There are so many great websites out there that I often forget what some of the great ones are! I am hoping that by posting just one a week (I'm also email blasting my teachers these) I will be able to share some great resources, remind folks of great resources, and have a nice catalog of some of my favorite sites when I want to put together a presentation or just make a recommendation to a colleague. And my hidden agenda is that maybe this will get me posting to my blog more often. :) So here is the inaugural....

Website of the Week #1
Tired of students going to Google for all their research? Try SweetSearch:

Sweet Search uses only the 35,000 Websites that their staff of researchers, librarians and teachers have evaluated and approved. This helps students find good information faster. Consider recommending this site to students for all their research!

Have you had good luck using Sweet Search? What do students think? Would love to hear your stories!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Countdown to First Virtual Book Club Meeting!

The Virtual Book Club will begin a short 48 hours (-ish) from now! It has been so much fun to see folks begin to post on the Virtual Book Club blog, tweet comments on the book, email with ideas or even call when they had a question. One of the wonderful things about a global Professional Learning Network (PLN) is that you have colleagues and friends from all around the world sending you great snippets of wisdom and encouragement at all times of day. Thank you everyone for your active participation already!

If you haven't already, a quick reminder to make sure you computer is ready for our first session on Monday, January 7th, 7:30PM EST (that's Tuesday at 3:00AM GMT), for your time zone, click here. To check your computer, go to this page by Blackboard Collaborate, it lets you check your computer to make sure you have all the software you need.

The link you will need to join the session is:

Please plan on logging on 20 minutes or so before the start of the book club so that you can make sure all is working and complete the Audio Wizard before we get started. If you haven't used Blackboard Collaborate yet, you'll find it is a great tool and pretty easy to use, but you'll want some time to explore it before we get started.

Anyone who can't make our first meeting or has some ideas to share before then, feel free to begin commenting on Chapter One or Chapter Two. We have some folks from time zones that can't make the live meeting but will be following our conversation through this blog.