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.