Friday, September 30, 2011

Teachers Teaching Teachers via Twitter

Today, The New York Times, in its "Learning Network" section, posted a pieces about how Twitter is a medium for teachers to teach teachers. Take a look at this article, "Teachers Teaching Teachers, on Twitter, Q. and A. on 'Edchats.'" After reading the article, be sure to post a comment. How curious or convinced are you of the capabilities of Twitter as a platform for teachers teaching teachers? Do you have a Twitter account? If so, how have you used it? Are you interested in learning more about Twitter and how teachers teach teachers using it? By the way, if you want to check me out on Twitter, here's my Twitter address:!/JudyArzt

Image on top from, Sept. 30, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Digital Natives, Turn Digital Citizens

In an age where students regularly download or copy information off the Internet, as teachers, it is helpful for us to review with students the Creative Commons licensing site. Here is an article to read more about what Creative Commons entails and how we might integrate it into our teaching: Digital Natives, Turn Digital Citizens. After perusing the article, leave a comment. How might you use information at the Creative Commons site in your own teaching?

More Info on PowerPoint and SlideShare

Yes, you have heard me say on numerous occasions PowerPoint is much more than a bullet list. As long as people continue to use it that way, the tool will be considered limited, when in fact it is users' unfamiliarity with the tool's many multimedia options that limits the outcomes. In addition, I will continue to push for use of SlideShare, AuthorStream, and VoiceThread as ways to find well-done PowerPoint slide presentations. Of course, there are some poor examples as well on these sites, but you should be familiar with a few of the slide sharing sites now available on the web, and these three are among the most popular.

Today, in reading a colleague's blog, I came across a link to her presentations on SlideShare and reviewed one that I found as an example of illustrating how PowerPoint can be use to create an historical photo story or documentary. This slide show depicts in rich detail the history of Commerce, Texas. Please take a look, and leave a comment. I don't expect you to go through the whole presentation; there are over 100 slides. However, take a look at enough of the show to get a feel of the possibilities of using PowerPoint in powerful ways. I believe that this presentation was created as a collaborative effort; see the credits. It is quite impressive, but what do you think? Without slide sharing sites like SlideShare, it would be difficult to come across and then share with others exemplary work created with such tools as PowerPoint.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

YouTube Breakthrough for Teachers

YouTube has just released a new site for teachers, making YouTube for the classroom readily available. Information and tips for using YouTube videos are provided at the site: YouTubeTeachers. Included is a slide showing 10 Ways to Use YouTube in the classroom and a tutorial explaining how to set up your own YouTube channel for quick access for teaching.  Check the slide show and the tutorial. Get back to the blog to let us know what you think of using the new YouTubeTeachers site.

Here is an example of one of the videos you will find on the site, this one: Making Science Fun, created by a science teacher, Steve Spangler.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Interested in Learning How to Use Prezi

The video below will present you with a
How to use Prezi, an exciting presentation tool! from Scottish Book Trust on Vimeo.
thorough overview of how to set up your account and how to use Prezi. The presentation is long, but it is worth watching for a solid overview. As you explore with Prezi, you can return to the video for more information. After watching the video, let us know how helpful it was and what your opinion of Prezi as a authoring tool is. How do you envision using it in the classroom? If you have created a Prezi, please feel free to share the URL link to it.

I just found this short Prezi online, and thought I would share it in light of the fact that The National Day of Punctuation is approaching. Who would have known there is such a day? This Prezi includes links to access additional information on punctuation. Although the Prezi is short and does not contain much information, it does demonstrate that a colorful, attractive presentation to give quick information can be accomplished with this Web 2.0 tool.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Check this video production that addresses the skill set for 21st Century learners. Leave your response after viewing the presentation.

14 Free and Simple Digital Media Tools

Creating digital media for teaching or for students to create to display their learning is easy given free tools online for doing so. I am copying and pasting below a post about 14 Free and Simple Digital Media Tools  that I found online. The list includes description of each tool and has the tools organized by headings. Let us know if you have used any of these tools, and if so, what you thought of them. If you want to explore some that you have not used, what would they be? This list was prepared  | By   and appeared on the Mind/Shift: How We Learn, website sponsored by NPR. I have copied the text directly and assume no responsibility for any inaccuracies, but thank Sara Bernard for compiling this descriptive list. 

Audacity: A simple, yet very effective, open-source multi-track audio editing software. You can import audio files, chop them up, fade them in and out, or use more advanced editing features, then export the entire project as an MP3 or WAV file. Audacity can be used with Windows, Mac, and Linux, is compatible with a variety of audio file formats, and can even convert analog audio to digital.
Wavosaur: Although it only works on Windows operating systems and is barely half a megabyte in size, Wavosaur still has some pretty advanced features, like cross-fade loops, vocal removal, batch processing, and more.
Ardour: Only designed for Mac and Linux, but crammed full of advanced features, this one might be a bit more complex to navigate. Called a “digital audio workstation” suitable for professionals, users can record, mix, and edit their audio cost-free – and consult the support feature if they get stuck.
WavePad: Another full-featured audio editor full of effects like echo, amplify, or text-to-speech and voice-changer functions. It’s also compatible with the full range of audio and music file formats. The free version is only available for Macs, however.

Pixlr: Very popular and user-friendly, Pixlr lets you upload photos from your computer and edit them right in your browser. There are no downloads necessary, unless you want to grab and edit screenshots using Pixlr Grabber. For simple, one-click edits, try Pixlr Express; for “retro vintage” effects, visit Pixlr-o-matic.
Picasa: Google’s photo editing tool, Picasa is a free download, runs on every operating system, and allows any number of simple editing and organizing features. Reduce redeye, crop, retouch, make a slideshow, and batch upload, or share photos using Picasa Web Albums.
Picnik: Edit photos online with this browser-based software; no downloads required here, either. Picnik, like Pixlr, has a lively, upbeat interface and offers access to special effects as well as simple edits like cropping and color retouching. For more advanced features, users can upgrade to the Premium version for a small fee per month.
MovieMaker: The Microsoft version of Apple’s iMovie, MovieMaker is a simple video editing software for Windows that turns photos and video clips into polished digital movies, using special effects, transitions, captions, sharing features, and more.
Cinefx: An open-source digital media player and editor, Cinefx is compatible on both Windows and Mac operating systems and lets users navigate simple, yet professional, video editing features and add a bunch of special effects.
MovieStorm: If you want to create 3D animated movies, this is the free download for you. MovieStorm’s goal is to make 3D animation accessible to teachers and students, businesses, and amateur filmmakers, so it’s easy to use, but full of high-quality, industry-standard features.
StoryBoard Pro: Designed specifically for students and teachers by Bill Bierden, an Apple Distinguished Educator, StoryBoard Pro allows users to plan ahead for their video projects. Although it’s not exactly about importing video footage and editing (it’s more of a precursor to that), students can enter shot descriptions, planned lengths, and editing order, create and print storyboards, and upload a variety of media to illustrate each shot.
PhotoStory:  A free, Windows-only audio slide show software that allows users to upload photos and audio and add captions, narration, and transitions to make a smooth multimedia piece. When it’s done, it’s exportable as a Windows Media Video (WMV) file.
Animoto: A very simple video or photo slide show software that’s excellent for beginners. It can automatically sync up with Facebook, Flickr, Photobucket, SmugMug, and Picasa albums and allows users to upload music or select from Animoto’s audio archive. Only the Lite version is free, however, which means that users can only create 30-second slide shows. Still, upgrading to Plusis only $5 a month or $30 a year.
PhotoPeach: Also very simple – perhaps even simpler – PhotoPeach offers users the ability to upload and arrange photos, add music and captions, and share on Facebook, Twitter, or a blog.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Why Should Educators Use Twitter

In this video a colleague whom I follow on Twitter, Justin Tarte, shares what educators, particularly teachers, can gain from using Twitter. I invite you to take a look, and if you want an introduction to Twitter, just let me know. If you are already on Twitter, Justin provides a list of educators to follow and explains what their contributions are.

Monday, September 12, 2011

PowerPoint Tips

Go through this presentation to learn some do and don't of using PowerPoint, and please take some time to offer your comments after you have viewed the slides.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Old Topic, New Twist: Teachers and Facebook

Image from
Before we bemoan Facebook as a teaching tool, we might consider its possibilities. In this short piece, Every Teacher's Must Have Guide to Facebook, we see a list of what not to do as well as what to do. Does the what to do list help you? Do you see potential applications for using Facebook as a teaching tool, assuming it is unblocked in schools, or at least usable by students outside the school walls for educational uses?

GMail Tips

image from:

If you use G-mail or are considering it, check this list of tips for ways to use G-mail productively to contribute to learning and your own organizational skills: 5 G-Mail Tips for Teachers. You are bound to find fresh ideas in this post. Let us know what you like.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Harness the Power of Google

We all use Google for one thing or another, but Google is much more than a search engine. Check this post 100+ Google Tricks for Educators. Let us know what you find of interest to others and why this use of Google appeals to you.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tips for New (and Veteran) Teachers

Looking for Teaching Tips?
Twenty Tidbits for New Teachers offers an array of helpful hints not just for newbies, but any teacher.  Skim through the list, and check some of the sites to which links are supplied.

What Did You Find?
You are sure to find tips with which you agree as well as some you have not thought of but would like to try. Let us know what you discover, and what you would recommend to others.

Resources for New Teachers
The author of this list, Lisa M. Dabbs, frequently writes for new teachers in a variety of forums, including moderating the new teachers' Twitter chat, #ntchat. If you are on Twitter, you might look for the #ntchat as well as want to follow Lisa @teachingwthsoul.

What Is Edutopia: Is It Utopia?

Lisa posted this blog for the 20th anniversary edition of Edutopia. Find out more about this publication at its Home Page. Check the multitude of resources Edutopia offers.

Image credit: Edutopia logo.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Computers Are Not the Panacea: What Is?

The NY Times ran a comprehensive and already controversial story, Sunday, September 3, 2011, on the implementation of technology in schools. A large part of the article, "In Classroom of the Future, Stagnant Scores," addresses a school system in Arizona that has spent a fortune on technology. The article points out that although test scores have not gone up, some would point out that the technology is infusing skills that standardized tests don’t measure. By and large, teachers, administrators, and parents of students in the school system under study are satisfied with the technology, but some are wondering if the school system can afford the expense.

The article raises numerous points, and it should be read in depth and critiqued. Already a profusion of response has occurred with the story just breaking. Discussions on social media sites have been prolific. One excellent response is offered in this article., Future, Stagnant Tests: Pointed Response to NY Times "Grading the Digital School."

Another educator posted this critique: Schools, Technology, Test Scores, and The New York Times. The critique raises six issues not only related to the assertions found in the NYT article, but also pertinent to the general issue of the need to increase the effectiveness of our technology integration. One of the points made is it not the technology per se, but how it is used that results in effective learning. The author, Scott McLeod, also notes that creative and critical thinking aspects of using technology to enhance learning are not easily measured by standardized test (i.e., multiple choice items), which is one of the flaws he sees in using these tests to determine if computer usage improves learning.

Read the NY Times article and the counter responses, and share your thoughts and critique. Perhaps you have read other responses to the NY article and want to share links to them. The discussion will continue in education, and is one that all educators should engage in and keep an open eye to as well as an open mind.

On a related matter, another NY Times piece, What Will Schools Look Like in 10 Years, ends up not so much predicting the future, but more so the here and now. Some comments even cover the past. Access the piece, and read through the opening remarks, from experts in education and technology. Also, read the comments from outside respondents. Where do you fall in this debate? Which positions do you support, and which do you find contrary to your views, and why?

Yes, this is a long post with several links, but it raises issues we face in education and will continue to face. The why, when, how, and what questions must be addressed. Weigh in on the issues after consulting the sources highlighted here.
Image credit: Jim Wilson/The New York Times

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