Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Convert the Cloud!

I use converters all the time these days! The biggest issue for me is taking student video and audio that have been created on a wide variety of devices and needing to convert it for use in school projects. After doing this for the past few years, our toolbox has grown, but these tools often need to be downloaded and codecs updated to keep up with the times.

Now, thanks to CloudConvert, this task is a breeze!

  • Go to and select or "drag and drop" the file you wish to convert.
  • Select the destination location for the converted file: email or send to Google Drive or Dropbox. 
  • "Start conversion"!

This couldn't possibly be easier, and the list of formats is fairly extensive: audio, cad, documents, images, presentations, spreadsheets, vector, video and even ebooks! I may still end up with the occasional upside-down or sideways video or inaudible audio, but Cloud Convert will take care of quite a few housekeeping chores for me!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Jazz Up STAAR Review with Technology!

For the most part, technology is used in classrooms for the technology "R's": remediation, rehearsal, research, rating, and recreation. These activities are often called skills practice, assessment, and free time, and they fill many educators with a warm, fuzzy "high-tech" feeling. Yet, the closer we get to STAAR testing, even these efforts at technology use in the classroom cease as all eyes and efforts focus on the April testing schedule.
But wait....aren't we missing another "R"? Review !

Yes! Let's use technology for review!
After all, it is really the same as "rehearing" or skill practice anyway, but for some reason, there is a default back to paper and fill-in-the-dots when we use the word "review" during the months of March and April.

Several weeks ago, I had blogged about using QR codes to spice up review activities, but there are so many great tools for use in the classroom that could jazz up any review. Here are two easy ones to use!

 Socrative is a student response system that can be played on any device and requires no student accounts to use. It is a great review tool and enables teachers to make review questions more engaging for students. I blogged about Socrative in 2012 when it was still in "alpha mode". They have made many improvements since then, and the only
issue I have ever had with Socrative is a slow loading time when our                                                             wifi was really busy.

Kahoot! is a newer student response system which offers the same opportunity to shake up your review time. Although similar to Socractive, Kahoot! only has colored boxes to choose from on the student screens. That means students must look up at the teacher's screen to choose an answer. This really does increase the interaction in the classroom! Richard Byrne has a great post about Kahoot! on his blog, Free Technology for Teachers.

Keep up the hard work all you test-weary teachers! "Review" time may be critical, but we still need to engage students as much as possible. So, press on with technology and get as creative as standardized test-prep allows you to be. The students will appreciate the change!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

"After-STAAR-Testing" Blues?

It happens every year...
Students all finish their standardized testing leaving classrooms full of students (and teachers) ready to call it a day----but with half the day left!!!  What is the best solution for these awkward afternoons?

Well, this year Earth Day just so happens to fall on Tuesday, April 22----STAAR testing day! So after you have finished your test prep by re-reading your "Test Administrator Manual", take a look at these great online resources from Julie Greller's blog, A Media Specialist's Guide to the Internet. There is something for every grade level in these "38 Great Sites for Earth Day". Perhaps you can even find the perfect activity to head outside for some educational fun in the sun!

Who knows? The kids may look forward to the next day of testing! Plan accordingly !