Over the past few months I’ve become an enthusiastic advocate and user of Scoop.it. It is no longer in Beta and has now gone public. It is a fantastic way to compile resources on a single topic and to share these resources with others who can choose to follow your updates. So far I have created two topics on Scoop.it because they are topics I am passionate about: Livebinders and Screencasting. I am finding new resources to add to them daily because it has an amazing curation tool that makes suggestions for me based on key words I have selected. I also use a Google alert on my topics so I can get new recommendations there. There is a Scoop.it bookmarklet you can add to your toolbar so whenever you come to a website that you would like to add to your topic, you can click on the bookmarklet and add it instantly! You can learn more about Scoop.it by reviewing their Knowledge Base.
But the real bonus is that anyone can recommend a site for me to add to my Scoop.it and I get an email notification that a recommendation is waiting for me. This is such a fantastic way for us to collaborate and learn together! These widgets below will provide you a brief preview of what I’m adding to each of the topics. They feature the last 10 “scoops” and will continuously update as new scoops are added. You can click on them to see the full Scoop.it. I would love to have you check them out and make suggestions for new sites for me to add to my topics!
Scoop.it is free to join and I hope it remains that way for a long time! Teachers could easily use this tool to pre-select websites they would like their students to use for class projects/units. The visual image from the site along with a brief description make it really easy to see what the site is about and you can click on the link and go immediately to the full site in a new tab/window. I’m sure you’re wondering about how students can use it. This is in their terms of service: “The Service is not intended for children under 13. By using the Service, you are representing that you are at least 18, or that you are at least 13 years old and have your parents’ permission to use the Service.” But teachers have found ways to work with many social media tools with their students that have similar terms of service without doing anything that is breaking the law. But the incredible value I find with the tool is the sharing, collaborating and compiling of resources I can do with my educational colleagues!
Teacher to principal as they are sharing bus duty one morning…. “One of my teacher friends told me about the neatest free tool on the internet that will make it possible for students to publish their writing anywhere around the world. I don’t really know much about how it works, but I would love to do this with my students. What do you think of this idea?” Do you notice any problem with this scenario? Are there a few missing details? How do you think the principal will respond? It’s not that far-fetched and doesn’t usually result in the desired outcome. As an elementary principal for 25+ years in the US and a university professor who taught technology integration courses for several years I am very aware of the issues related to technology use in schools from both the user and administrative perspective. In this section I will provide my perspective as a principal with practical tips and resources regarding the change process and how to obtain support for technology-related issues. I hope it will provide some food for thought to other educators, whether a teacher or a principal initiates the change.
Above all, I believe we owe it to our students that we continue to make the integration of technology and Web 2.0 tools a priority for all students and not just leave it up to those teachers who are the early adopters. We can’t continue to ignore or brush over those teachers who state that they aren’t comfortable with using technology and excuse this behavior. As has been stated in many awareness-raising presentations we have seen, “We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist using technologies that haven’t been invented in order to solve problems that we don’t even know are problems yet.” Did You Know 4.0 by Scott McLeod and Karl Fisch. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ILQrUrEWe8)
Teacher Advice from a Principal Perspective:
Principals are very busy people with responsibility/accountability to many different stakeholders. That will sound like a “so what” statement to many and an understatement to principals who live and breathe the daily, demanding, on-going responsibilities of an administrator.
There are so many reasons (excuses) that teachers express that keep them from moving forward with technology integration in their classrooms. Sometimes these hurdles seem insurmountable to them and it can’t be denied that there are times when the technology you need just isn’t working. This is no small concern when you have a room full of students in these days of emphasis on “time on task” and accountability for those all-important test scores. Over my years as a principal, I found it very helpful to review the “Stages of Mastery of Technology” that were provided by Jamie McKenzie back in May 1993. (http://www.fno.org/FNOMay93.html) I created a visual image of these stages using Inspiration software so I could have it posted on my wall as a reminder that teachers, just as students, are not all at the same developmental stage in their learning. Understanding the change process helped me to be more sensitive and accommodating in providing the kind of support they needed as they moved through these stages. (http://www.slideshare.net/pgeorge/stages-of-mastery-of-technology/) Sometimes it’s the “just-in-time” support they need that will make the difference in their willingness to try something new. Because I am a tech advocate and personal user of technology I frequently made “house calls” to spend a few hours on an evening or weekend to help a teacher cross that hurdle and create a newsletter or interactive PowerPoint presentation for their students. But this kind of support doesn’t need to come from the principal. It can come from anyone willing to collaborate and help. Many teachers call upon their own children to help them learn how to make technology work for them.
The principal may be a person who advocates for increased technology integration in their school, but more than likely they are not. It is rare for a principal in my experience to be the technology leader for their school although these numbers are definitely increasing. However, it is possible for a principal to be an essential support person who willingly advocates for resources, professional development and enthusiastically supports creative, effective use of technology in classrooms. The principal of today can be a “technology leader” by supporting instruction that facilitates collaboration, communication and connections. Ideally, the best way for principals to support the use of 21st century skills is to model the use of them in their own work. One resource I created to use as an introduction to faculty to let them know the importance of integrating technology into their instructional methodology was a PowerPoint presentation that reinforces for teachers that although technology is a powerful instructional and learning tool, it will never replace a good teacher. It is simple, but reassuring to teachers. http://www.slideshare.net/pgeorge/technology-and-teachers/
Tips for teachers (when approaching a principal with a great new idea involving technology)
1. Ask for an appointment to discuss your idea. Don’t stop them in the hall or mention it in passing in the teachers lounge. They have too many things on their mind to remember it and follow up on it.
2. Be very clear about what you are requesting. Stay focused on one topic and provide a written page that BRIEFLY summarizes your request with related details. Along with your enthusiasm this will help to educate your principal about your request.
3. Follow your very clear request statement by stating what you believe the educational benefits will be, and begin with student learning benefits. Provide your rationale of the benefits for students, yourself as the teacher, parents, and colleagues (if applicable). If you’re not clear in your own mind what these benefits are, have an informal brainstorming meeting with other teachers in your school who may also be interested in incorporating this tool. This type of collaboration will strengthen your request, both because it clarifies your rationale and also shows broader interest and support.
*Important Note: I will be listening for those points that indicate how the technology will provide “value-added” to their instruction and not just be “using” technology. It must be a tool/strategy that enhances and strengthens the learning experience for students and doesn’t just replace a paper/pencil task such as a worksheet with an electronic version of the same worksheet. How will this technology tool help them to do something that they couldn’t achieve without the technology? 3. Do your homework.
• Come prepared with actual, successful examples that demonstrate what you want to do. If it is something you can best demonstrate on your computer, bring your laptop with you or invite your principal to meet in your classroom so you can go directly to the examples you want to share on your classroom computer.
• Come prepared with pros/cons of the strategy or tool in anticipation of questions. If you are aware of any “cons” be prepared with a suggestion for how you might address it. For example, if parents may be concerned about internet safety on your classroom blog, be prepared to tell the principal your plan for ensuring safety for your students. Have an example of a blog user agreement you will ask students and parents to sign. Find an example on the internet such as this site that does a nice job of explaining the value of blogging http://education.qld.gov.au/learningplace/communication/blogs/aboutblogs.html or this site that provides an explanation, sample blogs and many other resources. Blogging in Education by Peggy Steffens (http://www.amphi.com/teachers/psteffens/blogging.html)
• This site provides a great handout “Why is Blogging so Great?”
• This site provides an excellent example for a high school blogging policy that could be easily adapted for elementary schools.
• If you know there will be IT concerns related to such things as security, viruses or bandwidth issues, be sure to share your idea with your technology coordinator or IT person to learn as much as possible about these issues. They may need to be helped to understand the educational value of your request so they can support you in finding a way to successfully implement it. One of my tech colleagues recently provided a great example of this. She made the point that the network people want to be considered apart of the educational team and be involved in the discussions as to what resources will be provided to students and teachers. She found she received much better response when she “educated” folks to the reason she wanted certain things and how they would be used in the classroom rather than just telling them we need this. One example she provided was: Think how many calls to the Help Desk could be eliminated by giving teachers podcasts on how to do simple things with their computers. If the network support personnel can see the value of these services for any user (teachers, students, parents, community) they will be much more supportive. Communication with any and all of the potential decision makers is essential to your request, but it’s also important to follow established channels of communication. Don’t go to the Governing Board to complain about a lack of technology support in your school if you haven’t started by stalking with your principal.
• If there is a purchase cost involved, bring the information. You can always provide the specific ordering details once the request has been approved (vendor, address, cost, method of payment, etc.) but it is very helpful for the principal to know an approximate estimate of the total cost of the item you are requesting, both short and long-term.
• Wrap up your meeting by re-stating your request and clarifying specifically what the next steps should be to ensure that your request doesn’t just get placed on a very long “to-do” list.
• And finally, after allowing a reasonable period of time for the principal to respond to your request, be sure to follow up to check on the status and to offer further support or information, if needed.
Strategies to Motivate Reluctant Teachers
If you happen to be a principal who has a faculty that isn’t showing interest in integrating technology in their classroom and your district has provided them with the necessary tools, you may need to consider some ways to motivate your teachers to an openness to learning more about technology so they can begin using it with their students to improve student achievement.
A question that frequently comes up from technology facilitators and school principals is: “I understand and fully support technology integration, but how do I get teachers to buy into using technology? When asked this question in a recent conversation with David Warlick that was shared by Darren Draper on his YouTube video “Hello Teachers” (http://youtube.com/watch?v=omWi_XQgbvU) David’s response was “To be honest, I don’t have to sell it that much. I show them the power of the tools and the technology speaks for itself.” Many edubloggers repeat the notion that “Interest leads to motivation”, one with which I completely concur. While principals generally create the agenda for faculty meetings, a teacher could easily ask to have a regular 5-minute sharing time in each faculty meeting to focus on technology. Think of it like the “Book Talks” that teachers and librarians give students to motivate them to read a new book. Make it short and sweet. Limit each person to 1-2 minutes maximum. That will make it feel much more manageable for busy teachers and you can fit several in a 5-minute time slot. Give it a catchy name—Technology Teasers, Tech Tidbits, or “I Heard it on the Technology Grapevine.” Invite both your early adopters (who will eagerly accept the invitation) and those who may just be beginners but have used one strategy or tool very effectively. Don’t attempt to teach people HOW to do it in a faculty meeting—just provide enough information to tell them what you did and how it worked and leave them wanting to learn more. Often one “story”, especially one told with excitement and enthusiasm, will inspire others to try it out and be willing to share in a future meeting. To take this one step further and begin to embrace and model Web 2.0 tools, a wikispace could easily be created to capture these “stories” and tools by providing a place to access this information. A wikispace entitled “Have You Seen This?” or “Don’t Miss This” could be the perfect place to share those tools and resources they are excited about because ANYONE can contribute to the ideas, not just a webmaster.
And finally, another important step for principals then becomes how they can evaluate the effective use of technology they during their regular teacher observations. These pre/post observation conversations can go a long way in emphasizing both the importance of integrating technology for strengthening instructional delivery and extending the conversation in ways that the teacher understands this is a priority. This is the perfect opportunity for a principal to keep this priority in the forefront and to show interest and support for those teachers, who are willing to take risks, make changes and integrate technology into their instruction. If this is a priority for a principal, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to their teachers when their principals are evaluating them. This was expressed eloquently in a brochure created by Greg Farr for his teachers and shared in a recent LeaderTalk blog posting: “Standards versus Expectations-Leave No Doubts.”. (http://principalblogs.typepad.com/leadertalk/2007/09/standards-versu.html)
The challenges for both principals and teachers as we move forward with 21st century literacies are great, but also very exciting. It’s essential that we continue to collaborate and communicate with other educators to find successful approaches to meet this challenge.
I was introduced to Tikatok by my friend, Jackie Gerstein, when I visited her class in Sahuarita, AZ and was so impressed with the books her students were creating. Inspired after my visit, I have been waiting to try it out with a real story and my opportunity has come. My 4th grade grandson has written a pirate story for a class project and with his creativity and my Tikatok account we have created our first book. His assignment was to write a story about his adventures as a pirate that included the following details: pirate name, name of his ship, where his hideout was located (on the NC coast), use as many pirate vocabulary words as possible, include a drawing of himself as a pirate and a drawing of his Jolly Roger, plus any additional information he wanted us to know about his life as a pirate. While the assignment was to create a written project to turn in (pencil, ink, or typed) we thought it would be fun to also create a Tikatok book that could be shared online. We used his original writing and drawings, and added several images from Compfight which provides images that can be freely used with Creative Commons licensing with attribution. While we still have lots to learn and explore we are excited about our first creation. I especially like the feature that allows you to continue editing your book after it’s created and the URL remains the same so anyone you share the URL with will always see your latest version. If you have tried Tikatok with your students I would love to see examples and hear your tips/tricks for creating books.
If you’re considering some live streaming, I strongly encourage you to give Mogulus (now LiveStream) a try!! I have been exploring and using the Mogulus Channel for live streaming and have been extremely impressed with how easy it is to navigate and produce online videos (both live and recorded sessions). The service has changed it’s name to LiveStream but appears to offer the same fantastic, free services I have been enjoying. This announcement was posted in the LiveStream Blog on May 19, 2009 and included the following information.
“With Livestream, anybody on the Internet who can connect a video camera to a computer can instantly stream live video worldwide, 24×7, via their own Livestream.com channels or to video players embedded on their own websites or social networks. To date, more than 300,000 people have registered and launched live video channels using Mogulus/Livestream since its introduction in 2007. “Livestream is doing for live video streaming what YouTube did for on-demand video clips,” said Max Haot, Livestream CEO and co-founder. “While we didn’t invent live streaming, we’re removing the barriers – making live video production and streaming easy and affordable for anybody to use and experience.”
I was so pleased with my experience in the creation of a special AzTEA Channel (AZ Technology in Education Alliance) that today I decided to create a personal channel to be able to stream and upload videos for our very own family around the world to stay connected in one location. The AzTEA Channel is being used to record and stream live events such as meetings, conferences, and professional development sessions. I have also included several YouTube videos just so I could explore this feature and to be able to vary the content to inspire others to try this incredible tool. I decided to name my family channel “Family and Me“–a spin-off from the delightful movie “Marley and Me” because there are so many fun, family adventures in that movie. Feel free to drop in and view either channel to see what’s possible, recognizing you’re viewing the efforts of a real beginner! I love the fact that you can embed the player for your channel on your website or wiki. You can also embed just a single video (embed code is provided for you!) It doesn’t get any easier than that!!
This photo video/slideshow was created with a free, online tool called PhotoPeach. It is a very flexible, creative, intuitive tool that makes it very easy to add photos and captions, select music, and they provide a way for viewers to add comments to the show. It is a Beta service right now, and they have been very responsive to requests from users for features. I’m excited to report that they responded to my request and have now included a way to delete comments (important for school use). If you make a typo or change your mind about a comment/caption you have added you can easily go back and delete it and re-enter it. You can add your comment about a specific photo. Even friends and family without a PhotoPeach account can add comments to your video. This suggests some very creative possibilities for student collaboration in creating a video and collaborating on photos, music and captions!
Express Import lets you import all new albums from your existing albums on other services and automatically convert them to PhotoPeach slideshows. I imported my photos from Picasa on Google and was amazed at how quickly they uploaded! Once they are imported you can remove individual photos from the album before you publish it. You are allowed up to 100 photos per video in the free account. For now with Express Import, your background music is chosen by the system, but you can change it afterwards from their extensive collection of music. If you use Express Import in the future, the system will auto-detect new albums, and import only albums that you did not import to avoid duplicates. They have lots of variety in the choices you can make for music but you can’t yet upload your own music.
You can embed your video in a blog, wiki or website as well as export it to Facebook or via email. You can choose to make it public, unlisted or by invitation only. I especially like that the default is “unlisted” so YOU can make the choice whether you want it public or not. I was really happy to see that if you select to view the video in full screen view that it doesn’t lose photo quality and it is a wonderful viewing experience!
I encourage you to take it for a spin! I think you’re going to love it! I’m very excited about this tool and plan to explore the possibilities for different uses for the classroom. This is my first attempt to create a PhotoPeach slideshow. Feel free to add your comment to my slideshow if there’s a photo you especially enjoy.
Dale Chihuly Exhibit-Desert Botanical Gardens on PhotoPeach
Update: I’ve had a chance to further explore PhotoPeach and have discovered for myself what a fantastic tool it can be for digital storytelling in a classroom. I used PhotoPeach to capture my photo memories during a school visit with Jackie Gerstein and her amazing students at Sahuarita Intermediate School, AZ. It allowed me to say thanks and celebrate their accomplishments with my original slideshow and allowed them to add their comments to my show. I’m not thrilled with the music so I disabled it for this blog post. I chose the country music from the options available on PhotoPeach because it was Rodeo Days during my visit and I thought the students would enjoy it. I think it tells a great story without the music. 🙂
This post started out as a test to see if I could upload a movie from my Flip Video camera to my blog. I was delighted to find that it not only was a successful upload, but that it retained very good quality. I am using an older model of Flip Video from Pure Digital (60 min. capacity) which I purchased on sale at Office Max for $129.00. There are newer models available now with improved features and the prices have actually come down. If I were to buy one now I would choose one that has the ability to be re-charged because you can go through the AA batteries pretty quickly. I would also like to have one that has more zoom capability. I took photos of a high school performance in a dark auditorium and while the photos were quite clear in spite of the conditions, I couldn’t zoom in as much as I would have liked. I chose to post the short video clip of wakeboarding on the lake because it wasn’t a “close-up” but still captured the moment. You can also take still photos with the camera.
I love how easy it is to carry (light-weight, fits easily in pocket or purse). I also really like the flip-out USB arm that allows you to plug into your computer without an additional cable and download your videos. I was able to take lots of short segments with room to spare on my 60-minute capacity and then drop all of them into iMovie on my MacBookPro to add still photos, music, captions, transitions and create a very nice finished product. Of course it doesn’t have the features and quality of my Canon DVR but it is a great, inexpensive, portable alternative that allows you to always be prepared to capture those spontaneous moments that can pass so quickly! No setup is required, just turn it on and click on record. I’m really enjoying exploring the potential of my FlipVideo camera!
This was an incredible moment captured with my FlipVideo camera. I was so “tickled” to realize that we could use a cell phone to call Costco’s while connected wirelessly to the internet to order a new DVR camera while out in the mountains camping! A moment worth capturing!
One of the regular EdTechTalk webcasters, Matt Montagne, has been doing some amazing things with students, and I have recently had the privilege of tuning in to some of his latest endeavors.
If you are interested in hearing the “student voice” about the importance of technology in their learning, tune in to these podcasts and listen. The information is so valuable and the process of student focus groups is one that you might want to consider using with students in your schools.
Student Focus Group Meeting – Podcast #1
Kyle Barriger (HS math teacher) and I (Matt Montagne) will be conducting a few student focus group sessions over the balance of the school year. The idea of these meetings is to gather information from the students that could be useful in making decisions in the future relating to instructional technology. I met with 8 very sharp students today to begin these conversations. We had a list of 10 questions or so, and I think we only got through the first 2-3 in our 25 minutes together! I think you’ll appreciate the candor on the part of the students.
Another really interesting place to tune in to the “student voice” is on a bi-weekly radio show Matt Montagne is broadcasting with his students called GatorRadio. The students run the entire show and hold some very interesting, thought-provoking discussions. They don’t just talk about school activities and teen life, but tackle some very challenging world issues. One recent discussion had them debating which social network they preferred: MySpace or Facebook. Can you guess which one they chose? Listen to the show to find out. 🙂 The broadcasts are usually held on Wednesday evenings (8:00pm PST) and I encourage you to join the streamed conversation and participate in the chat with these creative, bright, talented, enthusiastic students! You won’t be disappointed! As educators, we need to be listening to our students as we plan our instruction to prepare them for living, learning and digital citizenship in the 21st century!
I am a big fan of Liz Kolb and her incredible work and research concerning the use of cell phones in learning. I am a regular follower of her blog which is loaded with resources, and was very excited to purchase her new book called “Toys to Tools: Connecting Student Cell Phones to Education” published by ISTE. I especially value the fact that Liz includes lots of suggestions for using cell phones for learning outside of the classroom because there are still many schools that ban the use of cell phones in schools. Her creative, practical examples for all age groups/all subject areas are great, and can be carried out by students at home! Another excellent resource from Liz is a radio show she has recently started. Her shows air bi-weekly on Wednesday afternoons and always have lots of valuable, practical information. The shows also provide an opportunity for listeners to contribute and ask questions in a chat. You can tune in and participate in the live event, or listen to the archived shows later. Her latest show focused on text messaging. Text Messaging Projects for Student Cell Phones I guarantee you will leave motivated and eager to try her suggestions after every show! http://www.blogtalkradio.com/elikeren
You also might want to consider signing up for your own show. BlogTalk Radio is a free online service for broadcasting. Information from their site: BlogTalkRadio is the social radio network that allows users to connect quickly and directly with their audience. Using an ordinary telephone and computer hosts can create free, live, call-in talk shows with unlimited participants that are automatically archived and made available as podcasts. No software download is required. Listeners can subscribe to shows via RSS into iTunes and other feed readers. The shows are archived and people can join to receive email alerts for upcoming shows (notification in your own time zone), subscribe via RSS readers or just go to the site to listen to the shows. Your shows don’t have to be weekly–you can schedule them any way you like and for any length of time you choose. If you have something you love sharing with people (ideas, tips, tutorials, entertainment, etc.) this would be something great to try out.
Thanksgiving in the US is just around the corner and I am so excited to be able to travel this Thanksgiving to visit my daughter and her family in North Carolina! I have so many things to be thankful for in my life and especially love the ways that technology has enabled me to share some of these things with others (my blog, website, online videos, ScrapBlog, online photo sites such as One True Media, Picasa, Flickr, etc.–the list is endless!) To begin my blog post today I wanted to share a beautiful online movie created by Mary Robinson Reynolds called “The Thanksgiving Movie.” Her movies are always so inspirational and this one is no exception. The beautiful photos, music and especially personal memories help viewers to remember their own special Thanksgiving memories and to give thanks for them. If you enjoy this movie as much as I do, you might want to check out her website to view other movies. (http://www.makeadifference.com/)
One more tool I have really enjoyed using to send personalized, online greetings for various holidays is ScrapBlog. I have shared this tool before (July, 2008) but I REALLY love it! The tool is so easy to use and you can upload photos, videos and be as creative as you like in compiling your greeting. Templates are offered to get you started but you can also start from scratch and create your own. This is an example of a Thanksgiving greeting I created last year with photos, YouTube video and background music. Maybe this will give you some ideas about how you can use this wonderful tool. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!!
I just discovered a new, free online tool from Suzie Vesper’s wikispace that I’m very excited about. It is called AuthorStream (http://www.authorstream.com). It allows you to upload a PowerPoint presentation that maintains the original settings (such as text that loads one line at a time). The hyperlinks are clickable and the slides easily advance. The bonus is that you can choose the option to “Present Live” and it provides you with a discussion window where you can invite people to join you to discussion the presentation via an invite URL. It provides a fantastic alternative for making a PowerPoint presentation interactive and collaborative. I have been using SlideShare (http://www.slideshare.net) and while it has some wonderful features including the ability to add audio to your slides and make it a self-running presentation in a Slidecast, it also has some limitations. I had been frustrated by trying to get the hyperlinks in Slideshare presentations to actually work and easily move back and forth between the presentation and the link and this problem seems to be solved with AuthorStream. While I am continuing to explore the features on AuthorStream, I am very excited by the potential of the application. There are a few places where the alignment of the text changed with the uploaded presentation so that is a minor issue for me to explore. Give it a try and let me know what you think of it.