Tuesday, November 15, 2011

iTunes Match

Many teachers are using their personal smart phones as a technology tool in the classroom. These devices allow teachers to take role, quickly send e-mail, use apps to solve discipline issues and to fill the learning environment with music. 

For those heavily invested in the music end of things, yesterday iTunes finally rolled out  "iTunes Match". According to iTunes, "With iTunes Match, even songs you’ve imported from CDs can be stored in iCloud. And you can play them on any iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, or PC — whenever you want and wherever you are, without syncing. iTunes Match is just $24.99 a year."

This only pertains to iPod Touch 3rd and 4th generation, the iPad, iPad 2, and iPhone 3GS or later and devices must have iOS 5.0.1. It will work with Mac or PC with iTunes download 10.5.1 For those wanting access to all of their music in the cloud, this will be the way to go if you can swallow the stiff annual price. 

Thanks to "The Loop" for this information!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Skype Revisited!

When the staff first received laptops, Skype was discovered as we sat in training. It was like the video-phone from "The Jetsons" or the viewscreen from Star Trek had come to life! One by one, teachers created accounts and we "Skyped" each other like miscreants instead of attending to the lessons at hand. Some teachers quickly found ways to use Skype in the classroom. My kindergarten class would get the "weather report" from another class that had just returned from recess; we "Skyped" people on college campuses and businesses during career week; teachers at workshops or out-of-town could Skype their classes to "check in".  After leaving the classroom, I became a "fairy god-teacher" to a class or two, sending educational gift packages and following up with a visit through Skype.

This year, it seems we are revisiting Skype! Jerri Davis recently set up a Skype connection for one of her third grade teachers, and the two classes quickly planned an online collaborative lesson! More teachers are hearing and asking about this great tool, and this past week,  Steven Anderson's blog included an entire list of great projects that classes can join if they have access to Skype, projects that can open a whole new window to a world that many students never dreamed they would experience!

Skype is important to me in a personal way as well. I have been using Skype to "call" my children at college. This visual connection has become even more vital since my twin boys, who have Asperger's syndrome, moved away to college. Never great at conversation on the phone, Skype has provided a much-needed visual connection to my reluctant communicators.

To get started using Skype in the classroom, use Skype's educational site:
The direct link to Skype's list of ways to use Skype in the classroom:
To download Skype:
For other ways to use Skype, visit 50 Awesome Ways to Use Skype in the Classroom.

Once you get hooked on this versatile tool, the only thing you might need will be a "morning mask".

Monday, November 7, 2011

Share Our Nation's History

Great resources from Scholastic. com on "The First Thanksgiving".

I always think of the month of November as the month of "thankfulness": a time to really focus on all our of blessings both at home and in our nation. As educators, I believe it is critical that we share our country's rich history and develop an early appreciation within our students for the freedoms and gifts we enjoy as Americans, and this experience doesn't need to rest solely on the doorstep of the Social Studies or History teacher. Integrated learning experiences can bring the past to life, reveal the timeline of science, technology, and history, and expose the true value of the"everyday" things that we now take for granted. Read the "journals" of the pilgrims, study the diseases that claimed so many lives, explore the hand-crafted tools and materials, and marvel at the courage of those who dared to leave everything for the unknown. Could we have done the same?

Get involved this season by sharing the past with the students who will create our future. If you need a great place to get started in looking for ways to engage your students, Scholastic has wonderful resources for all age groups and includes videos, a timeline, and a tour of the Mayflower.  Teachers First is another great site and the lessons often include great technology tools such as Tagxedo, Vocaroo, and VoiceThread. Take advantage of this season and share our history as we nurture students to become productive citizens of tomorrow.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The web is so full of new games, gadgets and gooeys (gui-s?)  that finding the new or the useful can be complicated. I sometimes become so distracted while "resource surfing" that I forget what I was looking for in the first place!

So, to keep me on track, there is a website that I use when looking for "new" stuff to try: Go To Web 2.0!

Go To Web 2.0 is easy to use because you can search the index of tools by using "tags". So, if I need a photo tool to create a gallery for display, you can use those tags to weed through it all, winnowing thousands of resources to just a few! That is how I discovered, a daily photo-journaling site.

There is also a newer site I have been using: Web 2.0's Top 1000 List!. This site comes from Web 2.0 Search Engine, but the new site is in a list format in which all the most popular web 2.0 tools have been neatly organized!

As you search, keep in mind that not all things are free, but, with so many resources at our disposal, these searching sites can provide you with the options you need as you are looking for new technology tools to spice up instruction and learning in your classroom!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Ideas to Inspire

This week, two of our administrators attended a meeting in Kilgore where they were introduced to Project Share. Of course they immediately came back and shared the fun, including the website, Ideas to Inspire.

Ideas to Inspire is an interactive idea site. Decide if you are interested in presentation, hardware, software, or online tools, and it will provide you with a list of selected resources in that category. Once you have made your selection, a pop-up window will appear with a presentation containing multiple ideas to get you started.

Here is a video on 32 Interesting Way to Use an iPod Touch in the Classroom. I know that it is HUGE, but I couldn't change the HTML---I did try though. Just click the little box to open in another window. Sorry!

Ideas to Inspire is the creative genius of Mark Warner, who also authors the blog, Teaching Ideas.

U.S. Geological Survey

Learning is always more interesting when it pertains to current events, and nothing can provoke more discussion than a natural hazard that sweeps the news. Teachers can take advantage of sudden student interest as these events occur but may need quick and ready resources. 

Well, the U.S. Geological Survey has its own website and it covers these natural hazards! I first found this site when students showed an interest in the floods that were occurring in the northeast, but the U.S. Geological Survey also covers earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, geomagnetism, and other coastal and marine geological events.

The U.S. Geological Survey has an educational link at the top that offers grade-level materials including lesson plans, videos and animations. I re-visited the site today and was able view time-lapsed animation of Io, Jupiter's moon, in eclipse!  This site would be a great place for students to investigate as they study the world around them!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

iPad Comparison Chart

Wow! The other day, I sent out a simple e-mail and just happened to mention that Christmas was only 64 shopping days away, and, suddenly, I am flooded with e-mails asking for help in selecting technology products for Christmas gifts.

Since I am really a Kindergarten teacher disguised as a technology integrationist, I turned to my PLN for help, and one of the individuals I follow is Kim Komando. On her radio show she mentioned a comparison chart for individuals wanting to compare the iPad 2 to other options on the market, and I think that anyone purchasing such a device would find this chart extremely useful.

So, happy shopping, and, by the way, there are now only 53 shopping days until Christmas! Have fun!!