Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bringing it into the 21st Century with Web 2.0 (#6)

My title has all the right buzzwords right now. However, what do you have to do to accomplish this in your classroom? Is it easy, or does it require great effort on the teacher?

I am going to show you my most recent example of how I made the jump with the technology.

There is a common project that is done in high school and middle school science classes known as "Meet an element" which is a poster the students do and research facts about an assigned element, and included some pictures. The pictures are either drawn or printed on home computer and cut and pasted, with glue.

To bring it into the 21st century, instead of posterboard and glue and markers, we do it all on the computer. Nope, not a Powerpoint, I know you were thinking that. Remember the title said web 2.0, which generally means a website somewhere you submit content and it gives you back something impressive! We've selected ANIMOTO.COM with makes little animations for you.

So here are some of this year's best (this is my fourth year using Animoto for this project)




Some from last year



Even one from two years ago


The students have really enjoyed producing these projects and often want to show me when they're done or ask if they can be shown to the class. I don't remember the students being that excited about their posters. All the money on poster boards and supplies - gone! ANIMOTO has a great deal for educators! You can get an upgraded account for 6 months, and you also get a code for 50 students accounts to be upgraded. Plan wisely and you can get all you students taken care of.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Inspiring words this week...

"Mister, you are the only teacher that makes me think about becoming a teacher"

"Why is that, because I make it look like I am having fun?"


Sunday, October 30, 2011

COMICS in the classroom

Through one of my graduate courses I was made aware of the site

They are kind enough to offer an instant 30 day free trail, so if you think you might use this for you, sign up. If you are going to use it with your students, review the site and pricing and decide when the best time to sign up is.

I found it a great way for my students to express themselves as they gave some answers. To use the content correctly in their comic, they really have to understand it. I also saw they liked sharing their comics with each other.

A really nice feature, I found this very impressive, they make a comic avatar of themselves and can appear in their own comic, or their classmates comics. If the teacher makes one, they can appear too!

This is my actual 7th period class 'comic' photo, produce on the site, each of my students avatars and mine.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

So my first assignment was: using the science classroom background, make a comic with at least for panels explaining the difference between physical and chemical properties. Most of my students can easily identify a physical or chemical change, but describing the properties was a bit of a challenge.

Here are two sample products produce by the students:
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Making a Splash in the classroom with Splashtop!

This is not a commercial endorsement, this is a product I just found out about from another teacher when they saw I had an Ipad.

If you visit you find a website that make various products for the classroom that integrate iPhone/iTouch/iPad as remote interfaces to control your 'teacher' computer, whether it be a PC or Mac.  It can not only control but stream some items, or let everything that would happen on the remote computer happen on your remote device.  This is really powerful when combined with an iPad.  Even video can be streamed to the iPad.  Or you can consider your remote screen now having a touch screen interface.

Your iPad can display FLASH based site, but your computer can.  So when you hve your computer screen redirected to your iPad, you can see and interact with FLASH based sites.

The software you need to run on your PC or Mac, they actually give that away, aren't they nice?  You just have to buy the application you would run on your remote device.

Depending on the technology and connectivity you already have in the classroom, an investment between $0.99 and $9.99 could have a beneficial impact in your classroom.

The key program you may want is Splashtop Remote Desktop for iPad.  The good news is, at the time of this posting, it is on sale for $2.99, down from $19.99, the latest version just being updated on 9/27/11.
You can practice at home, and then if allowed to install the desktop client at school, you are good to go!

  The $9.99 Splashtop Whiteboard price is also a special for October, then it goes back to $19.99

Splashtop Whiteboard Demo video

useful for you?

Splashtop Remote Desktop

I'm going to the APPSTORE and getting Splashtop Whiteboard now!

Update: 10/26/11
I got the program for my Ipad2. I can make it work just fine at home on a laptop and dekstop machine. It worked much more accurately on the Windows host machine when doing the whiteboard stuff, when I drew it was right under my finder. When I used with my Macbook, the finger was below where ever it drew, so making lines meet was very difficult, as was clickign on small things. Didn't see any way to calibrate.

Tried on one machine at school and just not finding the machine yet. Looking for work around.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Techno Tip - Making Movies in Class?

I been shooting videos of various sorts in my classroom the last few years, using my iPhone and now the iPad2 since it has camera capabilities.  In general, you can hold when its appropriate, but often you want it just to stand there by itself.  I'd like to recommend a solution for each that I personally have found to be well worth their investments.

For the iPhone, they make a tripod mount you can find all over Ebay for under $10.  Get one!  I use it with my iPhone when I want to make normal movie or time-lapse movies.  Here is a basic review of one to watch on Youtube.

The for the iPad2, there are all kinds of cases you can buy to make it stand/lean.  However, those usually have 1 or 2 angles and that is it.  Joby, of the GorillaPod fame (the tripod that can grab that is popular with photographers) came out with a case that has two gorillapod style legs on it.  Because of their flexibility, you can get any angle or orientation you desire.  You can even hang your iPad2 on things and record video.

Let us take a look:
The Joby site for more information

I own and use both products - great investments! Good News - No Batteries Required!

The Digital Native meets the Hammer?

From the Digital Natives blog:

"To be sure, the term “Digital Native” is misleading, because no two Digital Natives are created equal. Each of them has varying degrees of access to digital technologies, literacy skills, and participation within their peer culture. What’s more alarming is the “divide” opening up between those that have access to the network and those without. But that in itself isn’t the whole problem, because having access alone isn’t the solution. While access speaks of the stark contrast amongst the haves and have-nots, digital literacy reveals the difference in those who have the skills to navigate this new landscape and those that don’t.
Like many other crucial skills, digital literacy needs to be taught and learned through constant practice. Naturally, this doesn’t explain why some Digital Natives will get more out of their sessions than others do. But what about those who get much more practice? Its estimated by Professor Urs Gasser that for kids who turn fifteen in 2016 or so, “they are likely to spend somewhere between 1,200 and 1,500 hours per year on digital technologies.” Going onto say that, “Five years later, at age twenty, they will have accumulated at least 10,000 hours as active users of the Internet, if the current statistics still apply.

I have been thinking a lot about this, because its a very hot topic.  All those hours they state the youth spend on digital technologies, how many of those are listening to music.  I listened to music when I was a kid, through headphones too.  Whether is was from a cassette recorder, or an iPod, that doesn't affect their or my skill level.  Watching kids fighting or people falling of skateboards on YouTube, I don't think that affects their skill set either.

I was thinking of an analogy that might show the flaw in the logic people often use in the 'digital natives' preaching...
If I showed my students a hammer and asked if they knew how to use it, I think the majority would say, yes.
If I showed my students a saw and asked if they knew how to use it, I think the majority would say, yes.

If I showed my students a brush and asked if they knew how to use it, I think the majority would say, yes.

Then if I asked them could they make this for me if I gave them the wood, I doubt any could.

So just being experienced with a tool or technology doesn't mean you can use it skillfully.

The Digital Native Blog can be found at :

Monday, October 10, 2011

Yet another class project

Sorry about the 'uhh's

I had to make a 4 minute video that had three subtopics. Being that the whole thing was done with Apple hardware, I shot much of it in my garage, as a tribute to the late Steve Jobs, who started Apple in his parents garage.

This one is about solids, liquids and gases. I borrowed the particle viewer from Harvard University. By the way, I hate having to star in my own movies when I am the cameraman too.