Tech Salad

With Crunchy Bits and Bytes

Month: November 2009

VSTE Presentation: Promethean Bootcamp

This week I’ll be at the VSTE Annual Conference. I am presenting a session on our approach to professional development in the use of Promethean interactive white boards. The presentation flipchart is available for download.

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Video on Tap

It is hard for me to imagine life without YouTube, and it’s been around for less than five years. I can’t tell you how much fun I’ve had watching videos. Most importantly, I can’t count the huge number of things I’ve learned by watching videos. Still, many teachers resist using YouTube in school because it is not strictly educational. They prefer TeacherTube or SchoolTube. I like those, but I still like YouTube. There is just so much there!

Now there is a way to search videos in all three sites, and more, and find videos by content area and the age of the audience at WatchKnow. The site finds the videos and plays them in an ad-free, school-friendly page. The site also finds videos from the 5Min Life Videopedia, Howcast, eHow, National Geographic, and the Internet Archive.

If after searching the site you don’t find what you need on WatchKnow, go to one of those partner sites, find a video, and submit it to WatchKnow to be added to their resources.

Goochland in 3D

The first 3D building created by Mrs. Berry’s students has been added to Google Earth. Hopefully, many more will follow after the Thanksgiving break.

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Google in Education

John Hendron and I have been selected to participate in the Google Teacher Academy. On December 9, I will be in Washington DC with 49 other educators, networking and learning about the best ways to use Google tools in schools. I am looking forward to bringing back lots of good stuff to share with our teachers here in Goochland.

The application process required that we make a video about classroom innovation or student engagement. Here is my video.

Animation the Old-Fashioned Way

This weekend I played around with Keynote’s builds and actions to create a very rudimentary animation with lines and very simple images. It took time to get the sequences and timing just right. All in all, I put about an hour and a half into creating everything on my slides, rearranging it several times, and creating the .mov file. I thought it was hard work.

Then, this morning, I found this link a friend shared with me. Oliver Postgate   describes how he created animations for children’s television shows in the late 1950’s (see samples on YouTube). Magnets, cardboard cutouts, strings and pulleys, you name it, he tried whatever he had to make his stories come alive. THAT is hard work.

Think of all the tools we have for creating animations in school: Scratch, FrameByFrame, Keynote, iMovie, and probably others I have realized could also make animations. Let’s think of all the times we have asked students to make static posters to hang on the wall, and see if we can tweak the plan to let kids show us their findings through animation. It took me 90 minutes. The students can probably do it in a fraction of the time.

Posting Video to Your blog

This is a video guiding teachers through the process of publishing audio or video files to their blogs. It is a very brief, no-frills tutorial that will be part of a blogging flowchart project that should be ready to share with all our teachers in the next few days.

What a day!

Today started in Hopewell, far to the south of here. I worked with a very enthusiastic group of teachers who are getting iPod Touch classroom sets. Most of the teachers had never used an iPod, and I had not used a PC in a while. We managed to learn about iTunes, browsing, bookmarking, and sharing links, saving images, taking screenshots, finding educational apps, and caring for the new devices. All in all, we accomplished a lot for just four hours. I hope I am invited to see the kids enjoying this new resource in the classroom soon.

In the afternoon I decided to follow up with a few teachers. Being out five days in two weeks was making me feel very out of touch. Along my tour of the building I stopped in to see Mrs. Edwards. Her students will be serving lunch to the middle school faculty on Fridays for the next few months, and tomorrow is the Eagle Cafe grand opening. The kids researched and tested recipes, designed menus, set prices, and were trained by a professional on how to operate a restaurant. It was great to see the beautiful menus and table tents created with Pages. I missed the deadline to place an order, so I’ll have to wait until next week and miss the opening day specials.

After leaving the Eagle Cafe I walked down to visit the marketing agency in charge of promoting tomorrow’s grand opening. The students in the Market Your Business class have been busy creating fliers, online order forms, written press releases for the morning news, and helped decorate the Cafe. Other “clients” of the class include the Eagle’s Peak School Store, and the Family Reading Night annual event. All kids are in committees marketing different events around school, and they report to the CEO/teacher through their Google Docs group.

I know I had some profound thoughts when I started writing this post. Now I’m just glad I have this job.

Tools vs. Thinking

Over the weekend I met some people whose children attend a neighboring school district. Of course, we exchanged the normal “what do you do?” type of information while all the kids were running around in their costumes. Then I got these questions from a father:

Don’t you think you are cheating the students by teaching them on Macs when they will have to use Windows in the real world? How can anyone who expects to succeed in business do so without vast experience in Excel?

My first reaction was to ask how he knew kids would all be working on Windows-based computers after school. I mean, when I was in school, we spent hours learning to navigate a card catalog, change the ribbon on a typewriter, read a slide rule. Anyone using those lately?

The truth is, whether students are using Excel or Numbers should be moot. If our instruction is sound, students will walk away knowing the purpose and value of a spreadsheet, with a better understanding of data analysis. If our instruction is sound, and our students learn to think critically, they will know to explore the menus and make good use of help files.

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