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And the winner is……

Congratulations go to Harriet Miller at Liberty Middle School for winning the Kindle Fire!!!  Her name was randomly drawn from all of the eligible participants of our blog series.  Congratulations, Harriet!!

Week 13, July 25: The Last One – And a bunch of good stuff!

Wow!  Thirteen weeks have gone by really, really quickly – at least they have for me!  I hope that, by participating in these blog posts, that you have learned about at least a couple of new tools that you didn’t know about and are excited to try a couple of new things in the new school year!

When I first started this series, I intended to end today thinking that we were going to start back next week, on August 1st (hello, state legislature!).  Now, our delay is your gain.  With the extra time, you have a few extra days to go back and re-read and comment on any posts that you would like.  Don’t forget – participating in at least seven of the weeks gets you entered to win a Kindle Fire! 🙂

For our final entry, I’m going to leave you with a “slam” – a bunch of great tools for you to look at at your convenience.  There is a guy named Brandon Lutz who does an awesome presntation called, “60 in 60” – it’s 60 web tools that he presents in 60 minutes.  I had the opportunity to sit in on the presentation while I was at ISTE in June and it is amazing!  Talk about fast paced!!  I’m going to pass along his favorite 60 web tools for 2012 to you.   You don’t have to look at them all in an hour, though!  🙂  Some of them we’ve already looked at; some of them you won’t care for; it’s ok.  Use what you like, discard what you don’t.  The important thing is that you know about them and can make the determination for yourself!

Here is the link to the 60 in 60 website.  It has lots of information on it, including a Prezi presentation that you can watch that shows examples of each of these tools!

Ready?  Let’s go!

  1. Videolicious   http://videolicious.com/
  2. Prezi    http://prezi.com/
  3. Poll Everywhere   http://www.polleverywhere.com/
  4. Edmodo    http://www.edmodo.com/
  5. Present Me    http://present.me/
  6. Flubaroo   http://www.flubaroo.com/
  7. Gooru Learning    http://www.goorulearning.org/
  8. Spelling City   http://www.spellingcity.com/
  9. Kid Zui    http://www.kidzui.com/
  10. Little Bird Tales   http://littlebirdtales.com/
  11. Star Fall    http://www.starfall.com/
  12. Hippo Campus    http://www.hippocampus.org/
  13.  Course Hero   http://www.coursehero.com/
  14. Math Train    http://mathtrain.tv/
  15. Side Vibe    http://www.sidevibe.com/
  16. Jog the Web   http://www.jogtheweb.com/
  17. Hackasaurus   http://hackasaurus.org/
  18. Simple Meet    http://www.simplemeet.me/
  19. BlockSite (Addon) Firefox    https://addons.mozilla.org/enUS/firefox/addon/blocksite/
  20. Class Dojo    http://www.classdojo.com/
  21. Mail Chimp   http://mailchimp.com/
  22. Drop Box    https://www.dropbox.com/
  23. dushare    http://dushare.com/#
  24. iBooks Author    http://www.apple.com/ibooksauthor/
  25. Remind 101    http://remind`101.com/
  26.  Duolingo   http://duolingo.com/
  27. Boom Writer    http://boomwriter.com/
  28. Scrible    http://www.scrible.com/
  29. Paper Rater    http://www.paperrater.com
  30. NBC Learn    http://www.nbclearn.com/portal/site/learn/k-12
  31. SpeakPipe   https://www.speakpipe.com/
  32. Capzles    http://www.capzles.com/
  33. Docs Teach    http://docsteach.org/
  34. Useful Charts    http://usefulcharts.com/
  35. Desktop QR Code Reader    http://www.dansl.net/blog/?p=256
  36. QR Stuff    http://www.qrstuff.com/
  37. QR Voice    http://qrvoice.net/
  38. ptable    http://ptable.com/
  39. screenr    http://www.screenr.com/
  40. anymeeting   http://anymeeting.com/
  41. Jeopardy Labs    http://jeopardylabs.com/
  42. Study Blue    http://www.studyblue.com/
  43. Pearltrees    http://www.pearltrees.com
  44. Spaaze    http://www.spaaze.com/
  45. Free Sound    http://www.freesound.org/
  46. Vocaroo    http://vocaroo.com/
  47. ifttt    http://ifttt.com/
  48. Blabbarize    http://blabberize.com/
  49. PhotoSynth   http://photosynth.net/default.aspx
  50. Jelly Cam    http://www.jellycam.co.uk/
  51. ToonTastic   http://launchpadtoys.com/toontastic/
  52. Producteev    http://www.producteev.com/
  53. Reflection   http://www.reflectionapp.com/
  54. Tweet Chat    http://tweetchat.com/
  55. pen.io    http://pen.io/
  56. Sumdog   http://www.sumdog.com/
  57. Smore   http://www.smore.com/
  58. Pinterest    http://pinterest.com/
  59. Mentimeter    http://mentimeter.com/
  60. Incredibox    http://www.incredibox.com/

Week 12, July 18: Diigo

This week, we’re going to take a few minutes and look at Diigo.  Diigo is a great tool for both students and teachers!  If you browse or read a lot on the web, we believe you will probably love Diigo! Diigo is two services in one — it is a research and collaborative research tool on the one hand, and a knowledge-sharing community and social content site on the other.  Watch this short video to learn about the main features of Diigo, as well as some of its many features.  For extra help, this site has some additional videos that you can use.

Diigo has an education portal with tools for teachers. There, you can set up protected class Diigo accounts so that your students can share resources with each other.  Your students can use Diigo to keep track of their research, highlight work they are reading online, and save web pages for later viewing.

To start, explore the education groups in Diigo to see how others are sharing resources with each other.  If you like what you see and think Diigo might be for you, go ahead and sign up for an account – it’s free!

What do you think about Diigo?  Do you already use it, or another similar tool?

Week 11, July 11th: Twitter

As you all know, I’m a big advocate of using Twitter as a professional development tool.   This week, we’re going to look at how you can use Twitter to build your professional learning network and also gain invaluable resources!  That’s right, the same social networking site that your students use to talk about sports and Lady Gaga, can be used for some of the best professional development!

There are two keys to getting dynamic information out of Twitter:  1) who you follow, and 2) hashtags.

Who You Follow.  When you choose to follow someone on Twitter, everything that that person tweets will show up on your timeline.  In the picture below, you can see the tweets of just a few of the people that I am following.  They include the November Learning organizations; educators Brent Catlett and Steven Anderson; a social media institute; and Beth Sanders, a social studies teacher in Tarrant, AL.

There are so many educators across the country who share rich content on a regular basis.  Once you find one or two of them, you simply look at who they follow and then follow the same people.  Before you know it, you have a very dynamic, interactive professional network.  And when I say interactive – I mean interactive!  I have yet to find an educator on Twitter who won’t discuss and/or respond to you.  Are you familiar with author Todd Whitaker?  He is on Twitter and has endeared himself with many in MCS who tweet.  If you tweet him or mention him in a tweet, don’t be surprised if you get a response!

Hashtags.  Hashtags are very important to finding the information that you want on Twitter amid all of the “noise.”  Hashtags are the keywords that come after the pound sign (#) and is a way of organizing topics.  For example, we use #MCSLearn to share information related to resources in Madison City.  The picture below shows a search on the hashtag #MCSLearn.  Notice that the hashtag can appear anywhere in the tweet.

This next picture shows a search on the hashtag #edchat.  #Edchat is one of the largest education chats on Twitter.

Many Twitter chats, like #Edchat, have live chats at scheduled times.  However, even during non-scheduled chat times, there is almost always activity.  Things are tweeted on the hashtags pretty much constantly.  So, while participating in a live chat can be fun, it’s just as beneficial to go back at your convenience and search on the hashtag and read over the information that was posted.

To get started with Twitter, click here.   If you already have an account, go ahead and sign in.  If you don’t have an account, you’ll need to create one by entering your full name, your email address, and a password, and then click the Sign Up For Twitter button.

On the next page, you will be given the option to pick your Twitter username.  Don’t worry too much about this; if you pick one now that you decide you don’t like, you can change it later.   Once you have created your account, Twitter will send a confirmation email to the email account you specified when setting up your account.  You will need to go to that email and click on the link provided in order to verify your account.  Make sure you complete this step in the process!

Once you have completed the sign up process and are in Twitter, click on the Home button at the top left of the screen (it looks like a house and says Home).  Once there, you’re going to go to the search box at the top right of the screen.  That is where you are going to enter in the following search terms, one at a time.

First, type in #MCSLearn – don’t worry about capitalization, it doesn’t matter.  What that search is going to pull up is our district Twitter feed.  Now, it might look a little bare right now because it’s the middle of July; however, during the school year, there is a lot of information that is being shared on this hashtag.

Now, type in #edchat – WOW!  That brings up a whole lot of information, doesn’t it?  If you will look through it carefully, you will notice that some of the tweets contain links.  This is where you find the gold; people will link to all kinds of resources that you may never have found otherwise (especially things that they create specifically for their own use, but share with their Twitter friends)!

If you want to learn more about following people, who to follow, etc., you can find the MCS Twitter for Teachers document here.

Here are 10 Steps for Educators New to Twitter.

For a thorough listing of educators to follow on Twitter, as well as a listing of educational chats (hashtags), you need to click on Cybraryman’s Twitter page.

I know that some of you already use Twitter; for those of you who don’t, I hope that you will at least spend some time and check it out.  I think you might be pleasantly surprised!  As always, let me know if you need any help!

Week 10, July 4th: Pinterest

Happy 4th of July!  Or, maybe I should say, “Happy 5th!” since I’m sure that no one is online on a holiday!  Did any of you have friends and/or family over to celebrate the holiday?  If so, how many of you looked to Pinterest for ideas for recipes, decorations, cleaning tips, etc.?  I mean, really, is there anything that you can’t find on Pinterest??

What is Pinterest?  Pinterest is a virtual corkboard.  Imagine a real corkboard where you pin newspaper and magazine articles and clippings that interest you; Pinterest is just like that, only online – you are pinning websites instead of magazine clippings.  Plus, even better, you get to look at not only your corkboard, but the boards of thousands (millions!) of other users, too!  Here is a very brief video on Pinterest in Plain English.

Here is information on Four Ways to Use Pinterest in Education.

And here is more on 16 Ways Educators Use Pinterest

Pinterest is organized into multiple categories, from Architecture to Weddings & Events.  Interested in travel?  You’ll find information on Pinterest.  Want to redecorate your home?  Pinterest.  Like sports? Gardening? Children’s clothing?  Health food?  Yep, you’ll find it all on Pinterest!  Below is a picture of the categories that Pinterest currently has.

Now, here’s the thing about Pinterest’s categories….it’s pretty much a free for all once you click inside a category.  For example, I clicked on the Education category and the picture, below, is what popped up first.

See what I mean?  The trick is to find “pinners” that you trust and follow them. (Now, I’m going to make a confession here:  You don’t want to follow me on Pinterest.  I’m a terrible pinner.  I love to follow people; I love to look at what other people pin to their boards and how they organize their information; but, I don’t pin.  I need to do better!)  Here are some really good pinners for you to follow:

Did you get any ideas for your classroom?  In addition to lesson plans, décor, activities, etc., you can also use Pinterest as a repository for your students.  Pin websites that you want them to use for projects.  Students can also use Pinterest for collaborative projects!  So what do you think about Pinterest?  Do you see ways that it can help you as an educator?  Have you already used it as a classroom resource?

A last note about Pinterest:  If you do not already have a Pinterest account, you cannot just register and join like you can other sites; you must be invited.  If you are not a member and would like to have an invitation, just let me know and I will have one emailed to you (just let me know which email address to use for you).

Week 9, June 27th: Dropbox

Most of the tools that we talk about each week are ones that I enjoy using, or the ones that I hear teachers talking about that they enjoy using in their classrooms.  Beyond being practical, they provide added value to the task at hand.   For me, this week’s tool is a superstar in this area:  Dropbox.  I love Dropbox!  To begin, let’s watch this short video on Dropbox in Plain English.

I use Dropbox a lot, both professionally and personally.  If I’m going to a meeting and want to be able to quickly reference information from particular documents, I store those documents in my Dropbox and access them from my iPad.  I also put recipes, shopping lists, etc. in my Dropbox so that I can access them from my phone.

Your free Dropbox account comes with 2GB of storage space.  For the average user, that is a LOT of space!  It is enough space to provide some flexibility, too.  For example, the media specialist at one of our elementary schools had a video that she needed to get to me.  It was too large to send through email, and trying to find the necessary tools to burn a CD is a bit of a pain.  The solution?  Dropbox!  She uploaded the video and I downloaded it – no problems!  Since Dropbox allows for setting up shared folders, in which the owner can establish who has access, it provides teachers another option for students submitting papers or audio/video projects!

  • Here is a link that has some K-12 lesson plans that incorporate Dropbox (you may have to scroll down to see them)
  • Here is more information about using Dropbox with student projects

Practice!

To sign up for a Dropbox account, go here.  You can start exploring the online part of Dropbox, which can be accessed from any computer, even if the program is not installed on your computer.   At the top, right hand corner of the page is the sign in link.  Click on it and you will see, at the bottom, the link that says Create an Account.  Click on that.  On the next page, fill in the required information and click on the Create Account button.  That will get you in to the online version.

You can also access my public Dropbox folder here.  You will only be able to view the one document I have made available to you, but you will get a sense of how it works.  Everyone has one public folder (that you can choose to use or not to use), but you also can have numerous private folders that you can choose to share with select people if you want.

So, that is Dropbox!  What do you think?  Have you used it before?  What are your thoughts?

Week 8, June 20th: Evernote

I can’t believe it’s Wednesday again already – where does the time go?  Let me just state up front that this week’s post is MUCH shorter than normal – no cheering, please!  I was at AETC last week; I am co-presenting at NATC this week; and I am leaving Friday for ISTE.  Thank goodness for long, restful summer breaks, right?!?

This week we’re going to look at Evernote.  Evernote is a great free online tool that helps you keep track of notes as well as information that you find online.  You can install it on any computer you use as well as your smart phones, iPads, etc.  Here is a quick, one minute introduction to Evernote.

Here is a short article that lists 7 reasons why you will love Evernote.  This blog article lists 10 ways that students can use Evernote in school.  And, finally, here is a resource site for using Evernote in education.

Practice!

Try Evernote out by signing up for a free account.  Click on the Create Account link at the top right hand of the page.  On the next page, fill in the required information and click on the Register button.  Play around with it and see what it can do.  If you decide that you like it or want to explore more, download it to your computer(s) and/or smart devices and start syncing your notes!

I know that a lot of students really love Evernote.  Do your students use it, or do you use it?  Is it new to you?  What do you think about it?

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