The STEAM Room

We have all heard of STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Great things are happening to support STEM activities all the way from the federal government down to the classroom teacher and students doing it every day. Another major focus has been to add the arts to STEM, thereby creating STEAM! This can include language arts as well as the fine arts rounding out STEM and adding a little proverbial right brain to the mix. The combination is a powerful force capable of giving our students the opportunities and experiences they’ll need to be successful communicators, innovators, and entrepreneurs. Continue reading “The STEAM Room”

Bucket Seats

I made these for Julie’s classroom. I had asked how Meadowlark used their outdoor classroom/treehouse and she said it doesn’t get used too much because there’s no seating and hard to bring classroom materials, etc., etc. So I got to thinking and designed these bucket seats. Each kiddo has one they can put their supplies, books, whatever in there and not only use them as a seat but for their stuff as well. They have a whiteboard to use as a writing board or a lapboard for other projects/writing/drawing/etc. There is an organizer in there for pencils/markers/erasers/whatever. You can either sit on the bucket or sit beside it and use it as a desk. So many options. Continue reading “Bucket Seats”

EdTECH in 2017

So here we are! 2016 has passed – with all of its ups and downs. From El Chapo getting arrested to a new president that will undoubtedly shake up politics as usual. From a 1.5 billion dollar Powerball to the deaths of many many media figures, police officers, and civilians alike. We saw the effects of cyber hacking as well as the proliferation of autonomous vehicles and other scientific breakthroughs.

And what about education? Edutopia recently curated a list of research on education topics for 2016 that included topics such as laptops to improve student scores and that the majority of parents believe that computer science is just as important as math, science, and English. We learned that students (and adults) have a difficult time telling real new from fake news. We also learned that kindergarten students (and probably all grade levels) are not spending enough time on art, music, and play. Continue reading “EdTECH in 2017”

Kids Should Code!

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 1.13.45 PMOur students have the opportunity to change the world, and there are many many ways they’ll be able to do that. From building skyscrapers to figuring out our pollution problems. From curing cancer to developing the next social media platform. We don’t even know what jobs will be available for our students when they graduate. Who would have thought you could be hired to be a Digital Marketing Specialist, Blogger, SEO Expert, or Cloud Service Specialist 10 years ago? No one! They didn’t exist! Continue reading “Kids Should Code!”

Nebraska ELA Draft Standards – Word/Phrase Frequency


As ESU 10 and consortium schools embark on a new endeavor of working with the new English Language Arts standards, I thought it would be interesting to see what they would look like from a different perspective. What are the most frequently used words or phrases in this new draft document? Let’s see!

From the downloaded PDF at the NDE website, I converted the file to a text document so I could copy and paste the contents to a frequency counter. Word indicated there were 15,465 words in the document. I did clean it up and modify the text to remove some common words such as: and, to, of, in, a, or, etc.

I then copied the text of the document to the clipboard and pasted it into the website WriteWords. This is where I thought it got interesting. As I read it, the top words were: text, information, appropriate, use, apply, and writing. The next significant five are:  students, mastered, digital, variety, and multiple.


I’m not sure what this means but as an EdTech advocate, I can see where my focus needs to be – appropriate use of information as students read text and apply writing techniques to share their mastery of digital knowledge in a variety of ways. Obviously this is over-simplistic but it may be a starting point.

I then churned out a couple of phrase frequency reports. Here is a two word frequency chart:


Lastly, I used the old tried and true Wordle2014-06-06_10-12-34

What do you take from this?

Teacher Productivity Tools – Must Haves!

There are classroom tools and there are productivity tools. Some may overlap but this list is mostly for general teacher productivity.

Google Apps: A Swiss Army Knife and More!

You have all seen, if not used, a Swiss Army knife. The tool of tools. If you are going to carry one tool, this is it. Useful at home, at the office, or out on the trail. So many creative ways to use this ingenious, original multi-tool. That’s what Google Apps for Education is for the connected educator and the connected student. If you were to have one web utility, it would have to be Google Apps!

Swiss Army Knife

The core suite of utilities would be what I would call the original Swiss Army knife for Google Apps: Calendar, Contacts, Drive & Docs, Gmail, Groups, and Sites. With these few tools, you can survive almost any situation. These core apps should be the foundation of all productivity and collaboration for the school. Getting more done with as many folks as it takes.

Learn how to make these core services work for you in the classroom.

Then there are the additional services available to schools. This is the mega Swiss Army knife of web apps. With over 60 additional services, there is not much you can’t do with Google Apps for Education.  Here is a list of a few of the additional services that come with a Google Apps for Education account.

Giant Swiss Army Knife

That’s not to say there aren’t other web services that are great for education. There are! But if you have this Swiss Army knife in your pocket, you’ll be ready for just about anything!

Steve Jobs: On Education

President Obama was fortunate enough to spend a few minutes with Steve Jobs in October of 2010. In that meeting, Jobs shared his opinions about the current US education system. As written by Walter Isaacson in his biography, Steve Jobs:

Jobs also attacked America’s education system, saying that it was hopelessly antiquated and crippled by union work rules. Until the teachers’ unions were broken, there was almost no hope for education reform. Teachers should be treated as professionals, he said, not as industrial assembly-line workers. Principals should be able to hire and fire them based on how good they were. Schools should be staying open until at least 6 p.m. and be in session eleven months of the year. It was absurd, he added, that American classrooms were still based on teachers standing at a board and using textbooks. All books, learning materials, and assessments should be digital and interactive, tailored to each student and providing feedback in real time. (Isaacson, p. 544)

Education was something Jobs thought about often. Even in his final encounter with Bill Gates, Steve asked him about this subject:

Jobs asked some questions about education, and Gates sketched out his vision of what schools in the future would be like, with students watching lectures and video lessons on their own while using the classroom for discussion and problem solving. They agreed that computers had, so far, made surprisingly little impact on schools–far less than on other realms of society such as media, and medicine and law. For that to change, Gates said, computers and mobile devices would have to focus on delivering more personalized lessons and providing motivational feedback. (Isaacson, p. 553)

Isaacson, Walter. Steve Jobs. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011.
Image Credit: L.A. Times Technology Blog

Mac Software

Okay – Not overly exciting but here is a list of software I use on a regular basis that I don’t believe I could live without.

  • Dropbox
  • Evernote
  • Photoshop Elements
  • Skype/IM/iChat
  • OS X Mail/Gmail
  • iCal/Google Calendar
  • Firefox, Safari, Chrome (Diigo Extension on all)
  • iTunes
  • Text Wrangler
  • Acrobat Pro
  • Dreamweaver
  • Animation-ish
  • Cyberduck
  • iLife
  • iWork
  • Google Earth
  • Handbrake
  • iBank
  • Kindle Reader
  • MaxBulk Mailer
  • MS Office/Open Office
  • NeatWorks
  • Sketchbook
  • Snapz Pro
  • Time Machine
  • Google Apps
  • Google Reader
  • Social/FB, Twitter, Plus


I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the 2011 US West Coast Moodle Moot in Rohnert Park, California this past week. What an incredible conference! Being my first Moot, I was extremely impressed with not only the technical sessions but how everything tied back to the learning process. It really was about learning, not technology. I will try and go again for sure!

Most impressionable session: David Wiley, Associate Professor of Instructional Psychology and Technology at Brigham Young University. His key ideas focused around openness (OER), analytics (assessment data and behavioral), and the LMS.

Other presentations from the Moot can be found here.
Here is a fabulous collaborative Google Doc of the conference also. 
The Moot Ning was also interesting, although I didn’t participate much on it. 


My iPad Apps

Here is a list of the iPad Apps I use regularly. Starred are my favorites.


  • Safari*
  • iBooks*
  • Camera
  • Mail*
  • Calendar*
  • Videos

Apple Paid:

  • iMovie*
  • Garageband*
  • Pages*
  • Keynote*


  • Kindle*
  • Safari To Go
  • Pandora*
  • Calculator Pro
  • Adobe Ideas
  • PS Express
  • Dropbox
  • Evernote*
  • Diigo

Free News Apps:

  • NPR
  • ABC News
  • CBSNews
  • TWC MAX+
  • CNN


  • Nightstand
  • SketchBook*
  • GoodReader*
  • Bento

Apple Announcements: And what they mean for educators.

Steve Jobs hosted a press conference yesterday for a few new Apple announcements. What were the announcements and what do they mean for education?

iLife 11 was up first with a demo of iPhoto, iMovie and Garageband. iWeb and iDVD are still a part of the suite but not demoed. I am little surprised iDVD is hanging on.


  • A richer and more robust full screen mode. Not only does iPhoto have this feature but it looks as if it will be in more and more products and a part of the 10.7 Lion framework. I believe this will allow for more focus. Concentrating on the application at hand and not all the other windows and email popups that seem to distract while working on a project. For students like me who may be somewhat attention deficit, this is a great idea!
  • Easier printing of books/cards. Just the idea of creating books and cards is exciting. Students will move beyond memorizing to actually creating something useful with their knowledge. Imaging being able to create books on the civil war or the 50 states. Creating a book on character traits or creating cards for thank you’s and other special occasions.
  • Slideshows – faces and places – creative ways to create learning opportunities using the maps theme. Imagine timeline and geography based stories and historical events and the ability to create custom slideshows to demonstrate knowledge and share with parents and the community.
  • Integration with Social Networks – View comments and track what people are saying about photo images and slideshows right within iPhoto. Post your photos on Flickr and see what the world has to say without ever having to leave iPhoto.


  • Themes for Digital Storytelling – Movie trailers, sports and news themes and more. The possibilities here are endless! Movie trailers have storyboards to help students learn about action shots, close-ups, medium shots and a slew of other techniques to better tell their story.
  • Face recognition within iMovie – Quickly traverse your saved video to find shots with one, two, or more people.
  • Sharing with the world – easily share with social networks and mobile devices.


  • Learning to play the piano and guitar – new lessons that have video of the person playing, the keyboard/fretboard, and the notes to play. Full immersion into the learning environment.
  • New feature – “How did I play?” for immediate feedback. Track over time in a game-like environment that keeps track of your progress.

Macintosh OS X 10.7 – Lion

I found the features announced somewhat exciting. I like to see they are taking the successful features of the mobile technologies and interfacing them with the desktop/laptop environment.

  • Facetime – Working with mobile devices. Can you imagine being on a field trip and having the students pull out their iPod Touches and sharing their findings and asking questions of experts around the globe?
  • Mac App Store – ease of install for teachers! The easier to install software, the better! Period!
  • Launchpad – Organize your apps how you think and work. This is a great feature that I think many classrooms could take advantage of. Put all your reading apps on one screen. All your math apps on another. All the apps for 2nd graders here. For 5th grade there.
  • Mission Control – Find your hidden window/app/widgets. Where oh where did it go? One stop shopping to find all the stuff you have worked on all day!
  • Auto-save –  Need I say more? This along with Timemachine should help any teacher who has ever been frustrated by loosing important documents or time writing lessons.
  • Auto-resume – Open an app to the place and work you were doing right when you last used it. Seems only logical. When I leave my desk at the end of the day, it still has the same things I was working on when I arrive the next morning!

Macbook Air

The announcement of the Macbook Air ushered in a few new features but more than that, it killed some technologies.

  • Death of hard drives – We are moving away from hard drives. Flash or solid state memory is the future of storage. That in conjunction with storage in the cloud will round out a robust storage solution in the future.
  • Death of optical media – The OS comes on a write-protected tiny flash drive. Software will come in the way of downloads. Videos and pictures will be shared in the cloud. CDs and DVDs are dead. (That’s why I was surprised to see iDVD was still a part of the iLife suite.)
  • Death of the mouse button – Multi gesture mice and pads seem to be the theme here. Limited function mice will no longer be needed.
  • Tiny – The compact size still offers a full keyboard and trackpad yet is lightweight and very portable.
  • Camera, keyboard, full OS X, expansion options – it’s not an iPad with a keyboard. It still has all the functionality of a full laptop. Only better! With USB, Bluetooth, Wi-fi and more, the only thing I see missing is built-in cellular connectivity.
  • Battery Life – I LOVE the battery life of the iPad. Can use it for days without having to plug it in. We are now getting to that point with the laptop. You can’t have enough battery life so when they tout this to run 7 hours of active use and 30 days of standby time, that is great to hear. It will be a boon to computing in schools if the device can last all day or several days of active use.
  • Price – I felt the last version of the Macbook Air was a little too pricey. Dropping below $1000 is a much needed price point for schools. I hope this drops even more in the future. Better, faster, more durable, cheaper!

Overall – nicely done Apple.

My Top Five and Why: Tech Tools for Teachers

I recently posted a list of Top Tech Tools for Teachers that I believe are useful for all teachers. In going through this list and receiving feedback from others, it is clear that it can be overwhelming, especially for busy teachers just starting in the Education Technology arena. So my goal in this post is to offer my “Top Five and Why”. It was a very tough choice picking only five. There are so many great tools for teachers available on the Internet and the list I compiled is minimal to say the least. So my choices here are based on a combination of experience working with teachers, research in the form of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, the Horizon Report K-12 Edition, and collaboration with peers in the ed tech community.

Number One – Google Docs

By far, this is the number one tool I would suggest to teachers. Google Docs is a web-based suite of tools (word processing, spreadsheets, forms, presentations, and drawing)  that has extremely powerful collaborative and sharing capabilities entrenched in its design. With an array of creative uses, Docs provides teachers these tools to be more efficient in managing their classroom, collaborating on school improvement meeting minutes or managing grades and lesson plans. As a classroom tool, there are countless 21st century projects a teacher can facilitate through many available projects and templates within Google Docs.

Another reason Google Docs is first in my list is when looking through lists of other great tools, Docs has many of these other features built-in. For example, not only can you use the regular productivity software but you can also upload and share your own files eliminating the need for a service like Dropbox. You can also use pages/spreadsheets/presentations as web pages for other projects, agendas and what not. There are just so many great things about putting these tools in the cloud (on the Internet) that I can’t describe them all here.

Take a Docs TourWhat’s NewDocs for Educators

Number Two – WordPress

One of my professional missions is to ensure that every teacher has a web presence. It is so important that this tool is available to communicate with their students, parents, and the community. It provides teachers a platform to share what they are doing in the classroom and share student work with a more relevant, authentic conduit. It also provides a means for two-way communication from parents and community members genuinely interested in the success of our future leaders. WordPress floats to the top of my list because of its ability to easily generate great looking, dynamic sites including web pages, blogs, and a host of other features designed for effective communications. It’s a flexible tool for teachers just starting out or the most tech savvy educators.

Number Three – Diigo

The Internet is a vast land of seemingly endless information. As a facilitator of learning, teachers need a tool to collect useful web gems . The amount of websites teachers collect for any given curriculum is daunting enough. On top of that, sharing these gems so all students have access can be frustrating to say the least. The answer is social bookmarking. Diigo is a powerful bookmarking engine able to share links anytime, anywhere. Bookmarks are organized how we think, using tags. The social side allows us to share links and updates with other teachers in the same field. Diigo steps up the social bookmarking game by providing a tool to annotate websites; highlighting sections, making comments, and more. Lastly, another feature of Diigo allows for group and classroom interaction and discussion. This is one tool that would be hard to live without.

Diigo Educator AccountsSocial Bookmarks in Plain English

Number Four – Twitter

Social Networking is all the buzz right now. It’s cool, if not necessary, to have a Twitter or Facebook account. Maybe you have one already for sharing pictures with family, getting a new recipe from a friend, meeting up at a reunion, or just sending messages. (Goodbye email?) But why does this have importance as an educator?  I see three main reasons teachers need a Twitter account: 1) Building a network of like-minded professionals in your field. Having others to lean on for ideas or support. 2) Self-directed professional development. There are so many resources shared on Twitter and this is a great social filter, letting your colleagues decide what is good and what is not. 3) Communication with students and parents. Teachers use this tool to share upcoming announcements, homework, tests, sports scores and more.  It is a great way to use the tools our students are already using and leverage the power of social media. As a friend on Twitter said to me, “Twitter is what you make of it – if you follow other educators and people with like interests, you learn from each other and can get some amazing resources and ideas. You are who you follow!”

Twitter for EducatorsTwitter for Teachers Wiki

Number Five – Skype

The world is flat. And the classroom should be too. Skype is an invaluable tool to break down the walls of the classroom and transport your students to any part of the world. This video conferencing software runs on Macs or PCs (and even mobiles) and is a great cross-platform communication software for anyone with an Internet connection. The possibilities of going global are endless – from virtual field trips to connecting with scientists, authors and more. You can share your screen with other classrooms or having a parent or community member join your class. Only your creativity will limit the use of this invaluable tool.

50 Uses of Skype the ClassroomUsing Skype at School for Dummies

Building Capacity

In working with Tech Integration Specialists today were talking about how powerful self-discovery is in getting teachers to work with new technologies. I have worked through this process with several schools using the Learning Cycle (borrowed from the Microsoft Building 21st Century Schools curriculum) and have successfully introduced many new projects and technologies to educators throughout the state.

The process includes the following:

  • Introduction
  • Challenge
  • Initial Thoughts
  • Resources
  • Revised Thinking
  • Group Work
  • Closing

Here is an example of the outline I used with Broken Bow teachers: Building 21st Century Schools

Top Tech Tools for Teachers

This is a list I compiled for my wife and her new job as a learning coach. I also ran across this “Web 2.0 Resources for Teachers” that is quite useful.


To be successful today and into the future we all KNOW everyone needs 21st century skills. But why? What concrete examples lead me to believe “my” job needs global awareness? Financial literacy? Why do I need communication and collaboration skills as a janitor? What is the purpose of learning creativity and innovation skills when all I do is answer the phone?

So my question to you is: Why should a <insert title here> have to acquire 21st century skills?

Titles may include: Custodian, Grounds Keeper, Secretary, Programmer, Videographer, Helpdesk Support, Program Coordinators, Directors, Therapists, Technicians, etc.

To me, it is not a matter of title but a way of thinking. We can move from convergent thinking to divergent thinking about the everyday way we do our job. With knowledge of 21st century skills we can think of different more effective ways to do our jobs in a manner suitable for this generation.

Image by
Used under direction of Creative Commons Licensing.

New URL Shortner

I am trying out a new URL shortner from It was easy to set up and configure. I like the idea of using it for workshop material, mobile phone links I use a lot, and more.

For example, I am working on a presentation for Animation-ish tomorrow and so created the link Or how about some mobile phone addresses: for my mail and for Kearney weather. It also has a handy little WordPress plug-in that allows you to publish a short URL to posts to Twitter.

I can’t wait to find new and fun ways to use this new tool.

Google Docs Viewer

You can use Google Docs Viewer to display PDFs, PowerPoints, or TIFF files in an online viewer so your audience does not have to download the file and have a third party view to display your files. You only need to put your files in an accessible place on the Internet. Once you have the URL for your file, visit to generate the code you need.  Here is an example of a PDF I have created.

View Podcast Planning Table

What is your favorite EdTech blog?

Some great blogs people suggested when I asked on Twitter and Facebook:

I also have some that I use in my WordPress workshop. You can find them here:

Please share others!

Series: Technology to Support Multiple Intelligences

This is a series of articles on how and which technologies you might use to support the eight individual intelligences as defined in Dr. Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Here is a sequential outline of the articles:

jason-mi•  Introduction
Word Smart (linguistic intelligence)
Number Smart (logical-mathematical intelligence)
Picture Smart (spatial intelligence)
Body Smart (kinesthetic intelligence)
Music Smart (musical intelligence)
People Smart (interpersonal intelligence)
Self Smart (intrapersonal intelligence)
Nature Smart (naturalistic intelligence)

Your comments, thoughts and ideas are encouraged! Thank you – Jason

Fall Edutopia Newsletter Highlights

Just wanted to share highlights from a recent Edutopia newsletter titled “How to Bring Outdoor Education to Your Class.” You can find the online version here.

Take a Hike: How to Make Being Outdoors In

As gaming devices supplant games of catch, schools counter nature-deficit disorder with outdoor experiences.

by Susan Brenna

Though his parents once lived in the countryside in Mexico, Juan Martinez grew up in crowded Los Angeles, barely noticing the earth and sky that was masked by the concrete and smog. Six years ago, when Martinez was fifteen, his science teacher proposed he earn extra credit and raise his failing grade by joining the school’s ecology club. He found he liked working in the school garden, which led to a trip to the Teton Science Schools, in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park. It changed his life.

More at Take a Hike: How to Make Being Outdoors In | Edutopia.

It’s All Happening at the Zoo School: Innovative Education with Practical Applications

At Minneapolis’s School of Environmental Studies, learning is about becoming an expert and solving real problems.

by Diane Curtis

When Mark LaCroix and his classmates at Minnesota’s School of Environmental Studies (SES) discovered patches of buckthorn crowding out native species at a local park, they didn’t just write up their findings as a science report to be read by the teacher and then handed back. They compiled data in a form familiar to government agencies and submitted a technical report to local officials, who used the information to direct park gardeners to eradicate the invasive plant.

More at It’s All Happening at the Zoo School: Innovative Education with Practical Applications | Edutopia.

Five Tips for Introducing Outdoor Education to Your Class

Follow these easy-to-implement suggestions about how to go outside with learning.

by Andrea Mills

This how-to article accompanies the feature “Early-Childhood Education Takes to the Outdoors.”

Here are five ways to adopt the ideas behind the Waldkindergarten concept:

    1. Partner with a Local Nature Center
    2. Connect with a Natural-Education Initiative
    3. Network with Other Professionals
    4. Bring the Forest to Campus
    5. Gear Up

via Five Tips for Introducing Outdoor Education to Your Class | Edutopia.

ESU 10 Electronic Welcome Centers

With the advent of the ESU 10 facility expansion, the need for a kiosk to help guide visitors to their destination was apparent. Four key spots were identified to locate these new welcome centers. One at each east entrance, one in the hallway connecting the two wings, and one at the entrance of the north conference room entrance.

Initially, the electronic welcome centers will have a color map of the building and daily workshop/meeting information to direct our visitors.

There has been much talk about what version 2 (and beyond) of the Welcome Centers could offer. The more they get used and as more potential is envisioned, we will update these devices and hopefully make the experience for our visitors more inviting and pleasurable.

Relying on "The Cloud"

After reading “There’s silver lining to Google’s cloud computing glitch” by John Naughton, I pondered the following quote:

Andy Grove, then the CEO of Intel, said in 1999, “In five years, companies that are not internet companies won’t be companies at all.” He was widely ridiculed at the time. But in fact he was very perceptive. What he meant was that we were entering a period when internet access would become like electricity supply: very few companies generate electricity, but all companies use – and rely on – it.

More and more great services are available “in the cloud” but they require Internet access. This makes me thing about the “Internet OS.” What is next in providing access to all of these resources? Google Gears is a next step but only a stepping stone in my eyes. Operating Systems are going to take on a whole new dynamic in the future and it will be based on cloud computing. What are your thoughts?

Stimulus Package and Schools

An excerpt from an article by the Associated Press. What are your thoughts?


A main goal of education spending in the stimulus bill is to help keep teachers on the job.

Nearly 600,000 jobs in elementary and secondary schools could be eliminated by state budget cuts over the next three years, according to a study released this past week by the University of Washington. Fewer teachers means higher class sizes, something that districts are scrambling to prevent.

The stimulus sets up a $54 billion fund to help prevent or restore state budget cuts, of which $39 billion must go toward kindergarten through 12th grade and higher education. In addition, about $8 billion of the fund could be used for other priorities, including modernization and renovation of schools and colleges, though how much is unclear, because Congress decided not to specify a dollar figure.

The Education Department will distribute the money as quickly as it can over the next couple of years.

And it adds $25 billion extra to No Child Left Behind and special education programs, which help pay teacher salaries, among other things.

This money may go out much more slowly; states have five years to spend the dollars, and they have a history of spending them slowly. In fact, states don’t spend all the money; they return nearly $100 million to the federal treasury every year.

The stimulus bill also includes more than $4 billion for the Head Start and Early Head Start early education programs and for child care programs.

Google – Advanced Searches

Your challenge today is to refine your searches so that you only see a relevant number of results applicable to the search you are doing. When doing searches, it is easy to just take the first couple results and assume they are the best. Google does a good job of putting relevant information at the top but it also can’t read your mind.

That’s where Advanced Search comes in. It lets you think about those keywords that work with your search. With the advanced search, it is easier to find results based on:


  • All search terms you enter (AND)
  • An exact phrase you type (“quotes”)
  • At least one of the words typed (OR)
  • Words you DON’T want in your search (NOT)


And more…. let’s consider some examples.

You want to do a search for dolphins and are finding that the football team keeps intruding your results.  Your search could look something like this: 

dolphins “marine mammal atlantic OR gulf miami football

You will find a host of other options in both the Advanced Search, Search Features and the More Google Products page.

Website – Social Networking

Monday morning, I am getting ready for a workshop in one of our conference rooms. Setting up tables, laying out electrical reels, putting necessities on the tables: all of activities normally reserved for another day with educators. Sue walk in and asks, “How are you feeling?” A little confused, I responded, “Fine. Why?” “I was just wondering how your back was after you and the boys moved all of that sand,” she responded. “How did you know we did that?” I asked. “It was on your Facebook!” she exclaimed.

More and more people are using social networking sites to communicate and share. Not only for personal use but professional use as well. I use some for personal, some for professional use – and always try to keep the two separate, of course. (That’s probably a topic for blogging in itself!) Social Networking has received a bad rapport in schools, I believe, because it has been untamed, unchartered territory. Our students were the ones paving the way and, well, they haven’t had much direction on HOW or WHAT it should be used for.

Let’s get in and explore a couple of different social networking sites and see how it might benefit your or your students.

Twitter – I already spoke to this in a previous blog post. Highlights are personal professional development, networking, social filtering and more.

Facebook – I use this for keeping up with family and friends. Sharing what we are doing, pictures, and fun applications that they have to enhance the online social networking environment.

LinkedIn – This is the “professional” version of Facebook. Professionals all over the world share their experiences, resumes, and create groups to schedule events and collaborate.

Ning – A social networking site that allows you to create your own group to share blogs, upload files and media, participate in discussions, meet new people and much more. This is been a popular site for educators to create interest groups.

ESU 10 Communities – Communities of educators in ESU 10 that allow the sharing of their interests, files, websites, etc. in a blog format. 

ALI or Apple Learning Interchange – Educator driven lessons and ideas to support learning using technology. Lots of groups, collaboration and general information.

These are just a few of the social networks out there. I challenge you to try one of them and see how it might work in your classroom!

Creativity – Animation-ish

A message from Peter H. Reynolds...

Animation-ish, based on the book by Peter H. Reynolds called Ish, is a wonderful cross-platform tool to get started with animation. Fablevision has also created lessons for use in almost every curricular area: Counseling, English, Foreign Language, Handwriting, Health, History, Language Arts, Life Science, Mathematics, Music, Reading, Science, Social Sciences, Social Studies and Technology Education.

Another Fablevision Ambassador, Terry Shay, was integral in developing curriculum ideas. You can see a few examples on his blog. Also from his blog: All about Animation-ish.


Mobile Phones – Text reminders

buzzz buzzz buzzz – buzzz buzzz buzzz

From: 62262
Polls are open in Nebraska until 8pm. For location info visit:

Just a little reminder to go out and vote. (Not that I would have missed THIS election!) Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to send our students a reminder on their phones to let them know of an upcoming quiz or test? Maybe they need to do an extra workout for volleyball on Saturday. Just a gentle reminder to read chapter 4 before tomorrow? Whatever it may be, sometimes a little note to remind us is helpful.

Send them a text message. Collect their phone numbers and create a group on your phone to send them a message. It will take some time to set it up initially but after it is set up, it only take the time to write a text message.

Can’t or don’t want to text on your phone? You can also send an email message to a phone. For example: get your students phone number, format an email message, send it to their phone. If they use Alltel, the email address is Try it! Send yourself a message using your phone number in place of the number in the email address. Then, set up a distribution list will all the phone number/email addresses and send one message to the whole group!

Google Tool – Reader

Discover – Learn – Share

I have blogged in the past about the importance of RSS or Real Simple Syndication. It is a way to read blogs or subscribe to web pages so you don’t have to visit the site every day to see if there are updates. Google Reader is a simple free tool to keep track of your subscriptions and let you know if there are any feeds you have not viewed.

CommonCraft – Blogs in Plain English

Take a tour of Google Reader.
Getting Started

Google Reader Help
Google Reader Help Group
Official Google Reader Blog

Interesting blogs to check out and subscribe to:
Directory of Education Blogs –
Directory of Teacher Blogs –
Kindergarten Blog –

Web Tool – Twitter

There are some things that you look at on the web and think – “I just don’t have time for this!” When I first looked at Twitter a year ago, that’s exactly what I thought. I created an account and left it sit for months. But then came back to it and was amazed at the potential. As with most tools, it can be a huge time waster and for a lot of people, that’s just what it is. But for me, it is an invaluable tool. A tool I use for collaboration, personal professional learning, and sometimes a release from the real office.

So what is Twitter? By definition, it is a social micro-blogging service. That means you have 140 characters to communicate important ideas with your network of friends and/or colleagues. I have heard it called a “slow motion chat room” also. Some have referred to it as a group instant messaging system. However you think of it, the main point is that it connects you to those people you feel are important. You determine who your network of friends are and what you want to share.

Since my field is educational technology, these are the people I choose to befriend on Twitter. Our conversations include websites, ideas, surveys, etc. on how we can better use technology in the classroom. 

There are really two major components of Twitter and they both have to do with building your network of friends. They are your Followers and those you are Following. You can see who others are following and who is following them. So, for example, if you know Tony Vincent is a great resource and  you find him in Twitter you may start “following” him. He will update with some great posts and give us all some really valuable resources. Then, you can see who Tony is following and you’ll see there are some people he is connected with that are pretty intelligent too! You’ll soon have a bunch of really smart people to follow and be up to date with all the latest and greatest news they know.

As you find more people to follow, those people will start following you. To see what YOU have to share. Soon you’ll have just as many followers as you have of those following you. You’ll soon have a network of colleagues you can bounce ideas off, share resources, frustrations, coffee habits or whatever.

Get an account – it’s free and if you don’t like it, maybe there will be something else you can try. Good luck and have fun! Add me to your network!

Creative Inspiration

Computer MonitorIt was many moons ago that I started in my education technology career. As a student at UNK I was hired by Graci Gillming (who is now our tech training team leader at ESU 10.) At that point in my life my job title was “Internet Specialist.” This included being the webmaster, showing faculty, staff and students about how to surf the Internet, send email, and all other things Internet. I loved it! All the networking (machine type) and programming was right up my alley. I had never turned on a computer before college and I took to this like a duck to water. It was my thing! Well a few years rolled by. I was “upgraded” to a full time staffer at UNK. Things were good.

During this time, Graci left UNK to work at ESU 10. She and her boss Alan tried to get me to move but I was getting college classes for $1/credit, insurance, the whole nine yards. It would have been tough to leave. I suggested they offer the job to Todd. He and I were good friends and talked a lot about technology and it’s impact in education. He was a great fit and is still at ESU 10 as one of our top Windows support people.

Well, I finally succumbed to the pressure and left UNK. Although, I didn’t go directly to work at ESU 10. My first stop was Centura Public Schools as a Technology Coordinator. I also moonlighted installing networks for several schools in the area and teaching adult night classes for the community college until a position opened at ESU 10. It was great. I was hired as the webmaster and programmer for the media catalog. I was the typical computer geek programmer type. Left brained like you wouldn’t believe. I was the epitome of linear thinking. Bing, bing, bing – everything had order and a place and I was comfortable with that.

Peter H. ReynoldsUntil one day, I sat in on a presentation – a keynote actually – by Peter H. Reynolds at the NETA conference in Omaha, Nebraska. He inspired me to move on from by left brain ways and start working in both hemispheres. He inspired me to “Make your mark and see where it takes you.” I started using his material more and more in workshops and it changed how I see the world and work with educators. The world is no longer black and white as it had been before, but now was covered in color and brilliance. It was an awakening.

Now I don’t leave my office without my pencil bag filled with scissors, colored pencils, paint, glue and other creative tools. Instead of using the command line text editors, my computer has 3d tools, animation programs, photo editing software and more creative software. I believe creativity should be infused in every task we undertake. Splash it with color! As such, I have been enthralled with Fablevision and the mission it has undertaken infusing creativity and education. My wife and I are now Fablevision Ambassadors and we love to show the great things they are doing to spark the creative fires in teachers and students.
Crayon Line
Stay tuned for more on next Sunday’s creative app – Animation-ish. Tomorrow’s blog is a Web 2.0 site I can’t wait to share with you! Until then…

November Blog Challenge

There are a couple of us at ESU 10 who have taken on a challenge to write a blog post every day for the month of November. Several people in the educational technology career field have posted challenges and tips to better blogging. (See links below) As I thought about blogging, what I wanted to share with you, and how I was going to go about it, I came up with a plan. And so here it is…

For the month of November:

  1. On Sundays, I will write about creativity applications.
  2. On Mondays, I will share and write about web 2.0 websites.
  3. On Tuesdays, I will write about Google tools that you can use in the classroom.
  4. On Wednesdays, I will write about how you might consider use a cell phone in education.
  5. On Thursdays, I will write about using an iPod or other handheld.
  6. On Fridays, I will share a blog for you to read.
  7. On Saturdays, I will review the week and for a bonus, share a “Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works” tip.

Shared by Deanna Stall:

30 Days to a Better Blog –
Blogging Tips for Beginners –
31-Days to Building a Better Blog –
10-Steps to Become an Edublogger –
Ten Secrets to Better Blogging –

Building a 21st Century PLN

Building a 21st Century PLN (Personal Learning Network)

As the clock ticks and pulls us further into the 21st century, it is imperative we give our students the skills they will need to succeed in their lifetime. I believe we all know and understand they will have jobs and a future of which we cannot even dream at this point in 2008. Technology and communication is changing faster than ever before and information is generating at mind boggling rates. It’s hard to predict the next five years, let alone 15 or more years down the road.

This begs the question, how do we as educators keep up with the ever changing technology and information landscape. In the past when we needed to expand our skills, we went to college and received degrees in our content areas. We went to summer classes or took workshops throughout the year. We built networks of trusted friends and colleagues. We relied on books we received from curriculum publishers, periodicals and other print material. And, only recently, we began to depend on the Internet for other sources of knowledge.

We are finding out, however, this isn’t enough.

So how does an educator in the 21st century survive the onslaught of information and new technology? By building “Personal Learning Networks,” or PLNs. We already do this in the concrete world of people and books. Things we can touch and see. Now we need to expand that network so it covers new technologies to help us stay afloat. There are many ways to organize and categorize your PLNs but I challenge you to gather all the resources available to you in one location.

Knowledge may be obtained from people, places, events or resources. When we think of these four centers, we recognize they are the who, what, when or where in our knowledge mining process. Is it possible then, to build our PLN upon these centers?

People – This center’s focus is on human contact, conversation, and the basic interactions we have with people on a regular basis. They are friends, colleagues, business partners, family, parents and others with whom we communicate.

Building your People network:
  • Mobile Phone – List of contacts, similar to your address book. The phone also allows for texting messages, sending and receiving pictures and other media, and even accessing Internet resources.
  • Instant Messaging – Create a buddy list of people who also use instant messaging tools such as MSN, AOL, iChat, Skype or other service.
  • Video Conferencing – The ability to have meetings with video cameras is becoming more and more accessible to the average educator. You may have access to a distance-learning system with a video camera in your district. There are also desktop based utilities to hold desktop-conferencing sessions right from your computer. These would also include video based MSN, AOL, iChat, and Skype to name a few.

Places – This center’s focus is a location or geographic setting in which you can learn.

Building your Place network:
  • Distance-Learning Enrichment Sites – These are places you can visit with distance-learning equipment located in your district. Visit and tour zoos, museums, labs, parks and other locations that would otherwise be inaccessible.
  • Colleges and Universities – These pillars of academic excellence provide a wealth of knowledge and resources on their websites, course-management systems and iTunes U.
  • Businesses – Businesses may provide resources for you in your community, regionally, or internationally.
  • Online Communities – There are so many “social” networks being built now, it is important to use those also popular with your students and colleagues. Twitter is a popular micro-blogging utility. You may also find Facebook, Ning, Diigo or a similar community useful.
  • MUVE – or Multi-User Virtual Environments are becoming more and more popular. You will see services such as Webkinz or Second Life being used by your students or colleagues.

Events – This center’s focus is an event you could attend. One advantage of virtual events is you can review the content after the fact.

Building your Event network:
  • Webinars – A webinar can be a meeting, course or other event that is held with (usually) only a web browser and a phone connection. Many organizations are using webinar-type connections to bridge the gap of time and distance.
  • Podcasts – Many events provide podcasts or audio/video subscriptions to their content. The Nebraska Education Technology Association and the National Educational Computing Conference both record many of the featured presentations as podcasts you can review later.
  • Online Conferences – A new phenomenon is the advent of a completely online conference using course-management software and video content with presentation slides and handouts available to the participants. The K12 Online Conference is one such example of an educational technology conference held completely online!

Resources – This center’s focus is something connected to the Internet to help gain knowledge. Below are only a few examples. You will find many other resources that fit your needs.

Building your Resource network:
  • Periodicals – Many information sources are providing material in the form of RSS feeds or blogs/podcasts. Subscribing to these services keeps you from having to connect to their site to see if they have updated their content.
  • Websites – We keep overwhelming lists of websites on our computers. With the advent of social bookmarking sites such as Delicious and Diigo, it is easier than ever to organize and share your bookmarks online.
  • Network Dashboards – Routers and switches have long been used to connect resources to the Internet. These devices will also provide you valuable insight in the use of your resources or just to find out if “the Internet is down.”
  • Household Appliances & Everyday Items – More and more resources are being connected to the grid every day. It is quite helpful to know when your car needs an oil change or when you need to buy more milk. Your projection unit in your classroom may be need a new lamp soon. All of these devices can let you know a host of information via a simple text message or email.

So I challenge you, take a few minutes and gather these resources in one place so you have them available when you need them. You may even wish to invest in a device that allows you to hold most of these resources in the palm of your hand. New technologies like Google Android or the iPod/iPhone allow you to carry and access most resources anywhere, anytime. Other services provide tools like a dashboard that would provide you with needed resources at the click of a button.

It’s not enough to only be content experts in our core subject areas and grade levels. We need to be connectors. Be able to connect with other educators in a multitude of subject areas, parents, community members and business leaders, and also regional, national, and global partners. These connections will allow our students to have a diverse perspective, and you will be a model of life-long networking skills.

For a list of links to resources referenced in this article, visit


2008 Trends in Technology

2008 Trends in Technology

What our 21st Century Students will face.

Everywhere we turn, we are faced with new advances in information and technology and how we consume or contribute to these. Good Morning America is using Google Maps to animate where the latest hurricane is hitting. NTV is asking for stories and pictures from viewers to share on “The Community Correspondent.” Oprah has 3 live conversations of remote hosts via Skype. CNN is posting back-channel chats live as the news rolls on. Presidential candidate Barack Obama sends us regionally appropriate and timely updates of campaign news to our mobile devices. We are surrounded with an ever growing mountain of information and technology is the only way to sort through it all!

I believe these topics will be a few of the most important technology topics teachers can get acquainted with to better prepare our students for what they will face when they graduate.

  • 3D Modeling
  • Motion & Animation
  • Programming & Scripting
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Mobile Devices
  • User Controlled Environments

3D Modeling

Programs such as Google Earth and Google Sketchup will give you a feel for what it is like to navigate in a 3D modeling environment. We are so used to working in a 2D paper society, it is hard for us as educators to envision this type of world. I really like Google Earth because we have all used and touched a globe before. We know how it moves and what should happen when we apply motion to it.
Motion & Animation

Writing, drawing, pictures… these are the medium in which we have communicated for thousands of years. We now have the tools to take these objects and bring them to life with motion. With applications such as Animation-ish from Fablevision, we can start introducing students to basic motion and animation at a very young age extending all the way through their education.

Programming & Scripting

I am going to go out on a limb and generalize when I say most people think of programming a computer as a geeky, computer scientist, brain surgery skill level activity that only the brightest students can handle. A new wave of programming languages are popping up aimed at all age groups and all curricular areas. Most are based on the premise of teaching logic but also have the ability to tell digital stories, build games, explore new concepts, and manipulate and build dynamic, interactive media. With programs like Scratch from MIT and Alice from Carnagie Mellon U, we all have the opportunity to have fun programming.
Communication & Collaboration

This area has exploded with the advent of the “Web 2.0” tools available to us as educators. Social Networks have taken our students lives by storm. MySpace and Facebook are a perfect example of how students are using online communications to its fullest. Tools like Skype are bringing remote presenters and experts into our classrooms on a daily basis. Google docs allows us to share documents online in real-time for group collaboration and idea sharing. Web sites such as iEarn are global project sharing sites getting students and educators together all over the globe. The Internet is just beginning to show how the whole world is available to us if we want it.
Mobile Devices

We cannot foresee what our technology landscape will look like in 20 years. With the growth of information and technology, it’s anyone’s guess. But be sure, mobile devices will become more prevalent and more connected to the “grid.” We already see more and more student acquiring mobile phones and at younger and younger ages. What does this mean for education and how we communicate with our students? Mobile phones, iPods and MP3 players, PSP’s and other handheld gaming units are already showing us a glimpse of what is to come.

User Controlled Environments

Virtual worlds, games and other user controlled environments are coming on the scene with more and more veracity. It’s hard for us to imagine these environments and how our students can spend so much time and money on them. Our minds are just transitioning from concrete music CDs and movie DVDs to virtual forms of the same information in mediums such as iTunes and Youtube. The idea of spending real money for virtual environments such as Second Life will take some time but it is already happening. Webkinz is even becoming more and more popular with younger children. And this experience of having control of your own online personality has an appeal to our students. They get to succeed or fail on their own, virtually!

These are just a few of the techno trends happening in our world. Our students are already participating and now we need to help them find relevance and rigor as they assess these tools for their own use.

K12 iTunes U

AppleInsider Article:

K-12 school material reaches iTunes U

Previously reserved just for college and university material, iTunes U is now opening its doors to content suitable for students between kindergarten and grade 12 as well as their parents and teachers.

Like the post-secondary material, the iTunes material for K-12 includes audio and video podcasts as well as text that gives students additional course material and adults more information about school programs.

The initial launch lineup includents content from school departments in Arizona, Florida, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Utah.

See for yourself! Go to iTunes U on the iTunes Store.

How do YOU spell relief?

Let me start by telling you a little story that happened to me recently.

About five or six years ago, we started using a web content management system from Frontier called Manila. Manila has allowed us to provide web page services to teachers who otherwise would probably not have a web presence. It has been a great addition and a tool that has helped countless teachers, students and parents. But it has not been without its problems. Although we know about every issue a Manila server could throw at us, there is the occasional curve ball. The service grew and grew to the point we needed multiple servers and it required quite a bit more maintenance. We have about 2000 accounts with I don’t even know how many pages, files and other resources on these servers.

Well, about two weeks ago, two of my colleagues walked down the hall and into the workshop I was presenting in to inform me they were unable to access the Manila server. Although rare, it did happen that the server web service would die and we would need to restart it. So I informed our workshop participants we need to take a little break while I assessed the situation.

As we walked down to our server room, the first words out of Marc’s mouth were, “Just a flashing question mark on the server screen.” That’s when I knew we were in trouble. But that was only the beginning of my troubles. The drive was not responding to anything we tried. Booted from a recovery disk. Didn’t work. Put the drive in another server. Didn’t work. Took the drive out of the sled and put it in a desktop machine. Didn’t work. Starting to sweat now. Need to get back to my workshop. I asked my colleagues to hunt for the backups so we could start rebuilding the drive. At least we would be able to get thing back on track by the end of the day.

That’s when things really started to fall apart. After much searching, no backup was found. I had realized I was working with no off-site backup solution for the last 3 months. And the firewire backup drive that we were using also had hardware problems. I had NO data! My stomach turned. I started sweating. I felt the world crashing down around me. My head was in a fog. What could I do? There were many people who relied on this server to host their websites with very important information. Phone calls were coming in. “I can’t get to my website. What’s wrong?” “I’m doing a presentation that uses my site. When will it be back up?”

I was off to the boss to keep him abreast of the news. Crushed, I had to admit my failure to keep a good backup and ask him for permission to send the failed drive off to a data recovery service. That meant BIG BUCKS to fix my mistakes. Oh – I didn’t feel real well. I had to face up to the fact that there were a lot of people who relied on this and it need to be fixed. ASAP!

The boss was great. He told me to get the drive off to the data recovery people and do whatever we needed to get the sites back. So to the UPS store I went. And to California the drive went. A week later, the data came back on another drive. All sites restored to full capacity. With the exception of a few uploaded supporting files, everything was back. A HUGE relief. (Contact if you happen to run in to the same problems. They were great and offered an educational discount.)

What did I learn from this lesson? Since this post, we have a redundant off-site backup for all of our Manila sites. I have 2 daily local backups with an archive copy going off-site to another city over our high-speed wide area network. With all of the nasty weather such as tornados, thunderstorms and flooding around here lately, I didn’t feel we could be too safe.

Everything is back to normal and I feel much more relief since we have our automated backup plan in place. However I still had something bothering me. A nagging pang that just wouldn’t quit. And it hit me. What about my personal computer? Of all the stuff I have and everything that is now digital, what would it be like to have to recreate all of my data? What about all the documents, presentations, movies, music and everything else that is there? What would I do? CRY!

Last night a brown box arrived at our doorstep. Opening it revealed a new “Time Capsule” from Apple. After about 5 minutes of unboxing and setup, it was up and running. It took about 2 hours to do an initial backup of my 67.7 gigs of data (and that wasn’t the system or application files.) Now, every time I open my laptop at home, it will have an incremental backup done in the background.

So how do you spell relief? I spell it B.A.C.K.U.P. What are you waiting for? Back up your digital life NOW. Don’t wait until something happens. You’ll regret it. Automate it with something like Apple’s Time Machine/Time Capsule product. It will be worth every penny you invest.

Hot Topics in Ed Tech

Here are the hot topics as posted by the NECC website for 2008. The conference starts next week and I look forward to sharing many of the sessions with you all. We have also started a wiki that you can subscribe to and watch updates that happening. Take a look:

Hot Topics

  • Podcasting, Wikis, Blogs, and other Web 2.0 tools
  • Leadership
  • Digital Images and Video
  • Digital Storytelling
  • Global Collaborations
  • 21st-Century School Design
  • Differentiated Instruction
  • 1-to-1 Computing
  • Digital Content
  • Funding
  • Open Source
  • Online Professional Development
  • Virtual Schools
  • Technology Literacy and Assessment
  • Instructional and Administrative Productivity Tools / Resources
  • Serious Games and Simulations

As of today, I believe my focus will be Digital Storytelling. That may change and I am sure I’ll go to sessions unrelated but this is the direction I would like to head. Onward…

Text / Tag Clouds

Create your own text/tag clouds. Here are the popular places to create them:

* I like these…

Cool examples:
John Adams Inaugural Address:
George W. Bush State of the Union Address:
High Tech:

The text cloud from my blog

The Learning Web – '08

We are starting day two of our Learning Web Institute here in Kearney, Nebraska. We have 6 facilitators: Graci Gillming, Melissa Engel, Deanna Stall, Bob Hays, Jackie Ediger and myself. There are 4 teams representing 4 schools: Silverlake, Gibbon, Bertrand and Ogallala.

What is the learning web?

A year-long professional institute promoting technology integration projects which meet school improvement goals and support proven instructional strategies.

Sponsored by the Nebraska Educational Service Units, the Nebraska Educational Technology Association (NETA) & the Nebraska Department of Education.

So really we work with how technology can be used to support Marzano’s Instructional Strategies. A book came out this year supporting just this concept. You can find it on Amazon. Using Technology With Classroom Instruction That Works by Howard Pitler, Elizabeth R. Hubbell, Matt Kuhn, and Kim Malenoski.

Yesterday we had fun showing our participants serveral technologies that can be used to support the instructional strategies. MS Word, Inspiration, Rubistar, InspireData, Digital Storytelling, Effective Google Searches and Gizmos. Today we’ll show much more technology and have the teams work on their plan for they year. It will definitely be exciting!

If these walls could talk…

As I was sitting in Kearney Public School’s graduation yesterday, a recent sermon I heard played through my mind. It was of our pastor visiting his alma mater. His story detailed driving by places he had hung out and places he had studied. But as he visited these places, he noticed they weren’t the same. Over the years, these places had changed or were torn down. What he was really looking for was the stories of friendships, study partners, and all the other memories that went along with his college days. It wasn’t about the buildings, but the stories share with people.

So, back to the graduation. One of the students who spoke talked about all the stories these halls could tell. The superintendent spoke of a song lyric containing the words “I’ll remember you, will you remember me?” As I sat there, I couldn’t help but think of the number of school buildings that are abandoned or torn down each year. Of all the students who walked through the halls of these old dilapidated buildings that are getting torn down, sold or repurposed. So many memories. And such emotional attachment.

Emotional attachment to the building? Or to the stories, friendships, hardships, teachers, and such, that made up their education.

I think if this concept were introduced properly, it could have a healing effect on the community who is facing such emotional attachment to the school they attended. Why not open up a forum for student, teachers, administration, alumni, and community members to share their stories. The forum could take several shapes of which I think the easiest would be a written blog with the option to include audio or video podcasts. Each person wishing to share their story could have the opportunity to do so in written form, audio form, or with video. It could even be a project for students to interview alumni and those still in the community to keep these memories for posterity.

If started soon enough, the school/community may have a contest so that when the new building opened, one memory from each category could be shared at the ribbon cutting.

“If these walls could talk…”
Memories of Beaverton Public Schools

Web 2.0 Digital Dashboards

We all know there is no one silver bullet when it comes to suggesting a technology to support a learning endeavor. We mix and match and use the latest/best tools, the tools our colleagues or students have access to, and the ones they are familiar with and will use. It sometimes gets to be quite a chore keeping track of all of different sites we created to support the specified endeavor. Tweets, Google Discussion Groups, Calendars, Social bookmarks, blogs, Project management, etc., etc.

There are a couple of tools that help keep these all together in one, easy to use location – digital dashboards for our online learning environment.

Personal Disclaimer – I have only used iGoogle on a regular basis so am not familiar with all the ins and outs of each service. If you have real life experience with any of these, please comment.

Netvibes Real World Example – Advocates for Digital Citizenship, Safety, and Success

? of the day: Would any of these fit into your classroom learning environment?

Google Workshop

Today we are working with Central Nebraska educators. We created Google Groups, and worked with Google Reader. We also worked with creating our own blogs on Blogger. Afternoon consisted of working with Picasa and Sketchup.

I would also like to share a little diversion we like to do in the afternoon. We have each participant share one technology they like to use in the classroom. Here are the results:

Mac OS X Preview – Cool FREE features

Macworld Article: Preview’s hidden powers

In the past, you had to purchase Adobe Acrobat Pro to do some of the features OS X Preview does now for free! A couple of the features you may find useful:

  • Annotate – Leave comments, markup using ovals and rectangles, and create links within the document or to Internet sites.
  • Delete or Rearrange pages – You can now remove or change the order of your PDF pages within Preview.
  • Merge PDFs – Take two or more PDFs and merge them into one document.

The article also lists other neat features of Preview that have to do with images. Check it out!

Mad Libs

Growing up I used to love to do Mad Libs. Those creations where you come up with different parts of speech such as nouns, verbs, adjectives, and such and create funny stories. There are several online versions of these and I wanted to share. Not only are they just plain fun, they also teach parts of speech, creativity, collaboration and sharing.

Try one out!
Embeded Mad Lib Online Widget

Fitness Companion – Apple

We might be on track to getting some technology in the schools to encourage fitness! We have a 50/50 mix of mac and pc schools in our districts and so having Apple forge this trail, we might see some action on the schools that use Apple.

Apple developing full-fledged digital lifestyle fitness companion

Brief overview:

  • This is from a patent filing by Apple
  • Includes four components:
    • iTunes-like application
    • Hardware-based heart rate and physiological sensors
    • Rewards tracker
    • Facilitate synchronous group activities
  • Interview process that looks at fitness level and goals, health history, and non-health questions.
  • Provides a profile with fitness regime based on interview
  • Would work with iPods and other hardware sensors

Algebra for Success?

Omaha World Herald article:
Nebraska teachers agree with U.S. math report

The national panel urged increased focus on algebra as a benchmark skill students should master and move beyond in high school. If students can do that, the panel said, it will boost their success in college and careers.

I have a problem with using algebra as a benchmark for success. So those who cannot or are not very good at algebra/math (ie:Left Brainers) are not going to be successful? I believe there must be a problem with society’s perception of intelligence and/or success. We must stop the perception that “left-brain thinkers” are the only commodity for the future.

We must nurture all types of people and each of their individual intelligences. We need to, as educators, focus on educating the whole student (as in individual); not the part that we think will make them successful or as an assembly line learning model. It will be hard. And it will be expensive. (hmmm… could be a good use of billions of dollars we are dumping in to Iraq. Sorry, I’ll save that rant for another day…)

Recent information I have consumed:
A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future By Daniel H. Pink – Book
Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom By Thomas Armstrong – Book
Jill Bolte Taylor: My stroke of insightTED Talks


Tax Time

TurboTax Online

While I am not excited about taxes, I am excited about a discovery I had this weekend. I did my taxes last year using TurboTax and was impressed enough to try it again this year. I received a CD in the mail to install the new 2007 version and upon opening the application, it fired up a web application to do everything online. It was very easy and intuitive. The interface was easy to manage and it was second to no other web 2.0 apps I have encountered. Kudos to the online version of TurboTax. Visit TurboTax Online

Quicken Online

Well, as I was working with this, I was also working closely with my desktop version of Quicken 2005 for the Mac. Since I have updated to 10.5 on my Mac, I have been looking for an alternative to this version. I contemplated version 2007 but just didn’t go for it. A while back I was a part of the beta for an online version of Quicken but it just wasn’t ANYTHING for me other than an online banking tool. Which I already had with Wells Fargo. Well, this weekend I stumbled across the online version again and, being so impressed with TurboTax Online, decided to give it a try.

So far I am impressed. There are still improvements it needs for me to fully move over to the all online version but this is a great start and I’m excited about the chance to move it completely online and not have any desktop software to worry about. We currently have the data files on a USB drive so my wife and I can share and this will give us much more flexibility on terms of knowing our “RealBalance™” and keeping each of us in the know.

Check it out and see what you think! There is a 30 day free trial for those wanting a preview. The forums are quite good too. Lots of community discussion.

Visit Quicken Online

Google Earth Mashup – Batch Geocode

A colleague from Kearney Public schools shared this with me during a workshop. I thought it would be a really cool tool for administrators and others that want to map addresses to Google Earth. You just need to create a report in your SIS to get the records. Once you have the addresses, upload the list to BatchGeoCode and let it do it’s magic. Heck, you could even export your personal address book and map it.


  • Create an Excel spreadsheet of student info with columns for Address, City, State, Zip, plus any other information you want to be available for each location – name, school, grade, etc. The 1st row must have headings.
  • One building at a time, (this gives you separate folders in Google Earth), highlight the Excel info and drop it into step 2 at the website below, then run through the other steps at the site:
  • When the last step completes, click to Download to Google Earth file.
  • Open Google Earth, click File, Open, select your files. They will drop into the Temporary Places folder, so drag them to My Places to save them.
  • To make the location dot for each school a different color, right click the school folder in My Places and select properties.
  • To put your school boundaries on the map, click the Polygon icon on the top toolbar and start clicking along your boundary – the polygon will show up after you have 3 points plotted.

Thanks for sharing Gary!

Wii Fit

I guess I am in the movement mode as I investigate more opportunities for physical movement with students. After years of being negative toward the game industry and it’s affect on kids, we finally purchased a Wii for our household. It’s an amazing piece of equipment – Caveat: IF it is used as it was intended. It’s intended use was to have a gaming device that would promote activity and get families together to share time with each other. After much research and reading about the Wii, I am glad we purchased it. It does live up to it’s standards and is a fun way to gather and spend time as a family. (Read an interview with the developers; the Wikipedia entry for the Wii Fit also has good information.)

The newest device Nintendo has been working on for the Wii is a balance board. This balance board in combination with the gaming software it comes with is called Wii Fit. I am really excited about it. So excited I pre-ordered it from the GameStop. (To arrive in stores U.S. May 19th.) The basic premise is that you have a device to track and chart your fitness based on your BMI. The balance board is a high tech scale that keeps track of your family’s BMI records in these charts. So that is well and good as you probably already have a scale. Well, this gets the whole family involved and it is also a record for you to track over time.

Well, you may not be interested in this part of it but it also has several other “games” that come with the balance board. The games are broken into 4 categories: (the following information is from the Wii Fit website.)

  • Strength Training: Put your strength to the test with muscle-toning exercises like Single Leg Extension, Sideways Leg Lift, Arm and Leg Lift, Single-Arm Stand, Torso Twists, Rowing Squat, Single Leg Twist, Lunge, Push-Up and Side Plank, Jackknife, Plank and Tricep Extension. Challenges include Push-Up Challenge, Plank Challenge and Jackknife Challenge.
  • Aerobics: Get your heart pumping with fun, interactive Aerobic exercises like Hula Hoop®, Basic Step, Basic Run, Super Hula Hoop, Advanced Step, 2-P Run, Rhythm Boxing, Free Step and Free Run.
  • Yoga: Work on your balance and flexibility with Yoga poses and activities like Deep Breathing, Half-Moon, Dance, Cobra, Bridge, Spinal Twist, Shoulder Stand, Warrior, Tree, Sun Salutation, Standing Knee, Palm Tree, Chair, Triangle and Downward-Facing Dog.
  • Balance Games: Get into the action with fun, balanced-based games like Soccer Heading, Ski Slalom, Ski Jump, Table Tilt, Tightrope Walk, Balance Bubble, Penguin Slide, Snowboard Slalom and Lotus Focus.

I think this game could not only be beneficial for family use and fun but for school use too. The obvious use is Physical Education but I believe it could be used for a myriad of lesson enhancements. Take a look at the Wii Fit website and watch the video too. Tell me what you think!

Fablevision: SmartMoves

Do you have students who like to move? Everywhere? All the time?

Fablevision has come out with a new DVD called SmartMoves™.

This deceptively simple combination of movements and music can change the way we learn and remember. SmartMoves, a DVD, designed for students in grades 3-12, leads students through a series of increasingly complicated body movements that function as a kind of calisthenics for the brain. Forty Body Puzzles at varying levels of difficulty: Simple, Simple Too, Tricky, Challenging, and Formidable, are included in the SmartMoves DVD. A supplemental Teacher’s Guide is also included.

I’m excited about this new product. I believe it will work wonders for those students who have trouble sitting at their desks all day long. Let me know what you think!

Google Account FYI

Maybe some of you knew this but when I created my Google account many moons ago there was not the option of using your “real” email address. So I tried to create a name that would be worthy of my esu10 employment. However, it seems that now when anyone invites me to their docs and spreadsheets, etc., they like to use my email address. Which, in the past, has always been a pain because you had to send them a message and say, “can you please send that to my gmail account instead?”

Well, fret no more my friends! You can associate other email addresses with your gmail/google account. How nice! And I suppose you are asking, “Well how might I do that Jason?” Well, I’ll tell you!

  1. Log in to your current gmail/google account at
  2. Next to Personal Information, click “Edit”
  3. Add your email address

Photo of actual page here:

That’s it! They will send you a verification email to that account and in about 2 minutes time, you can log in with either account and people can use either your gmail or other email to invite you to google stuff! How cool…

Good luck and have fun!

Info Literacy Workshop

Here are the tools and links we worked on and talked about in our Information Literacy workshop today.

Links to resources from first presentation:

Links to Workshop Outline done in Google Notebook:

Dueling Tools
This is a sharing time for participants to share a tech tool with others. It is time well spent sharing resources others use in the classroom!

  • Grand Central by Google – One phone number for ALL your phones and voice mailboxes
  • – Voice recognition: Call a message in to Jott and Jott will email or text your party.
  • – microblogging – find out what your network of friends are doing.
  • MLA Citation source – Cite several types of sources such as books, website, etc.
  • iGoogle – a dashboard to your online digital life!
  • Atomic Learning – Professional development resources for you to learn all types of software applications.
  • Net Trekker – Great subscription database for student research.
  • Apple Education – Resources on all types of integration ideas.
  • McGraw-Hill – Lessons that use technology.
  • Quia – the Quintessential Instructional Archive.
  • NoodleTools – Research tools for students and teachers.
  • TrackStar – Create collections of annotated websites for your students.
  • Jing Project – Capture your computer screen to share with others.

Others that we talked about during the day:

We need to work more like recipies!

I ran across this and I really like the analogy of our work being a recipe. We need lots of good ingredients but not only that, they need to mix together and cook just right for it to taste right in the end.

So I would argue that Google really does have a better product than the competition — not because we have more or better ingredients, but because we have better recipes. And we are continuously improving those recipes precisely because we know the competition is only a click away. (Google Blog Article)

Apple Announcments

Recent Apple Announcements and their Impact on Educators.

60 Second Macworld Review

MacBook Air
On top of the list: the new MacBook Air. What does this new notebook computer mean for teachers? Well I think it will be a big hit for those wanting a small, light computer to take with them to do their daily productivity tasks. Teachers and administrators will easily be able to record grades, manage an online class, communicate with peers, write lesson plans, etc. with unmatched portability. I see the only caveat being it’s lack of umph for lots of video or other media.

iPod Touch (iPhone) Software Update
The iPod Touch is a product I think will reshape how we think about putting computers in to the hands of students. This is really a minicomputer with the ability to surf the Internet, play podcasts and audio books, and play back other media that would supplement the curriculum. With the software update, users now have the ablility to do mail, maps, notes, weather and stocks. There is also a software development kit available so we’ll start to see more third party apps come to the iPod Touch and the iPhone.

Time Capsule
This is a new device that works in conjunction with Leopard’s Time Machine software. It’s a hardware backup appliance that will back up your computer wirelessly (or wired). It also serves as an access point, remote storage, and will do network printing all at the 802.11n standard which is must faster and will cover a broader area. What does this mean for teachers? All I have to ask is: Do you have a current backup? Would you like your backups to work transparently? Would you be lost if your computer/hard drive died? The Time Capsule comes in 500G and 1T options.

iTunes Movie RentalsApple TV
The ability to rent movies online and have them downloaded to our computer or Apple TV box is a change to how we currently obtain our media. Although I don’t see this immediately impacting educators, we are seeing a shift in how we obtain our media that is affecting us. More and more content is in digital form. We are using VHS, CD and even DVD less and less. More and more content is online, downloadable or streamed right to our machines. As the Apple TV matures, we will see more and more uses for obtaining our media with this device. We’ll start to see more internet media content managers such as iTunes. Just as iTunes has changed how we buy music, it will change the video industry to using this model for delivery.

New Tool – PicLens

PicLens is a new tool I found that I think will really help educators. It is a tool that will save time and give visual learners a boost too. The software is a Firefox plugin that works with many image sites and creates a visual catalog of information.

PicLens instantly transforms your browser into a full-screen 3D experience for viewing images across the web. Our new interactive “3D Wall” lets you effortlessly drag, click, and zoom your way around a wall of pictures for an extraordinary viewing experience. The new search box lets you search the Web in full-screen using Google, Yahoo, SmugMug, Flickr, Photobucket, and DeviantArt. Just type a query and view all the results in the PicLens wall.

Doing a lesson on Martin Luther King, Jr.? Search MLK in PicLens and you have yourself a great visual to introduce the topic and also a great tie in with Information Literacy skills.

Tech Showdown

We have recently started using a fun, after lunch, workshop activity. It is a Tech Showdown and everyone participates. The basic idea is that everyone in the workshop has to give a “Show and Tell” of a technology innovation they like and use. It can be ANYTHING! Then, we pair off and each person has 3 minutes to present their technology innovation. It really does become a fun activity and it’s so interesting to see what others are using on a day to day basis.

Here were the duals that happened at our Google Tools Part 1 workshop: VS. &
Need to send an email message to someone but you are not at a computer? You can “jott” or call in a message and jott will convert your voice to an email message. This also works for text messaging too! uStream is an all encompassing video streaming site that allows you to set up a video streaming channel and share it with others. Would be great for schools who want to broadcast sporting events, etc., on the web. is a great place to display photo collections to embed in your website.
Angel PDF Sharing VS. Angel Classroom Management
Share scholarship applications, etc. with your students in one central location that both the students and parents can get to. Angel opens up the possibility for communication about the applications also. Angel is a great tool for “Learning Management”. It’s in a class with Moodle and Blackboard in terms of online classes and distance learning opportunities. VS.
Ever had a student or faculty member that has a long term illness. There always seems to be rumors floating around. This is a great site to share what is happening and for others to sign a guestbook with their will wishes. is a great meta-search engine that organizes information in several differnet ways that are easy to access. Worth a look if you are just used to using Google.
Digital Ethnography VS. Organizational Tools in Outlook
Thinking differently about technology and Internet use in the 21st Century. There are some great video’s here that will stretch your thinking. The use of categories really helps you organize your events and allows your to create custom views based on how you might work.