Tech Salad

With Crunchy Bits and Bytes

Month: October 2011

Beautiful Boxes

At the end of last school year, we went through the process of leasing all-new computers. Each Apple computer comes packaged in a beautiful white box, and many of us here in Goochland did not want to see them end up in the landfill.

The art teachers have led the charge to put these boxes to good use. Mrs. Neilson-Hall has created her entire G21 project around the boxes. Some teachers took a couple home for storing papers and small items. Mrs. Rohrer is using the boxes to pre-package art supplies for each table in her class.  I got to see her getting them ready when I visited earlier this morning.

applebox 237

We have a few leftover boxes still. If you would like to use them in your classroom, let me know.

Google Apps Class

After school today, I will be leading a class on Google Apps. We will explore Drawings, Spreadsheets, Presentations, Moderator, and Sites, and ways in which all of these can help students collaborate and create.

We wills tart the class by providing some information on this form.

Then we will collaborate on this presentation.

After that we will comment on this poem.

Finally, we will explore Google Sites for student portfolios.

Manage Your ToDo List

What is my biggest Goochland Technology pet peeve, aside, of course, from missing backups? Sticky notes and pencil marks on laptops. Here is a way to keep track of tasks without resorting to top case abuse.

If you like it, download TasktMate and Afloat. Both are free.

Improvement Over Time

Few things bother me more than people (students, teachers, anyone) saying “I’m not good at that” and just giving up. I doubt very many people are suddenly, from birth, good at everything. Research backs up this, too. Everyone has to work hard to get consistently good results.

Readers might be tempted to point out the exceptions. Just this morning a student said he was “…not Steve Jobs” when he could not get something done on his laptop. Really? Well, Steve Jobs was not good at everything and didn’t just pull a fully-formed iPhone out of his pocket one fine day. What many call his crowning achievement took decades of work by thousands of people: research, collaboration,  problem-solving, creativity.

Wait… research, collaboration, problem-solving, creativity… I have heard of those. Have you?

If you want to achieve something, keep trying. If you don’t get it right the first time, revise, look around you for inspiration. Find an advisor, a teacher, a friend, a mentor. Try again. Improvement may be incremental, but it is improvement nonetheless.

So, how long did it really take for the world to get an iPhone? Way longer than most of us imagine.

CNET UK Presents: History of the iPhone, dedicated to the memory of Steve Jobs from Drew Stearne on Vimeo.

PhotoBooth Podcasts

How easy is it for your students to share their work online? Take a look at this video and find out. This is a very simple idea that allows early elementary kids to create and share.

Screen shot 2011-10-14 at 3.47.13 PM

For more information on how to publish to your blog here in Goochland County, visit our publishing roadmap.

The iPads are Coming!

Our iPad cart is here and will be ready to be checked out in a few days. Are you interested in giving the cart a whirl around your classroom? Let me know and we can get together to talk about your lesson ideas and for a brief orientation.

ipads 2

Exploring Solar Energy

On  my way to Mrs. Hood’s room Goochland Middle School this morning, I walked though the courtyard and stumbled (literally) on a solar oven.


The students in one of Ms. Edwards’s classes were preheating their solar ovens to make their s’mores  later today.

After they enjoy their snacks, students will analyze data collected during the activity and compare the advantages and disadvantages of several design and placement decisions made by the students.

New School, Old School

FuneralQR This week I’m spending some time with Mrs. Hood’s students at GMS. This project combines some of the most buzzed-about tools lately. The students recently read The Teacher’s Funeral by Richard Peck, and to cap the unit of study, they are sharing the knowledge of what school was like in 1904 with the rest of Goochland Middle School.

First, the students are researching different aspects of school beyond what they learned from the novel. They are using Google Docs to research and write collaboratively. Students will peer-edit and polish the documents, then publish them as web pages (Google Docs functionality).

Next the students will generate QR codes linking to the published web pages and post them around the school where they are most relevant. For example, the QR code with the link to information on school lunches and lunch pails will be posted in the cafeteria. The QR codes will be accompanied by a blurb about the project to let everyone know what they are about. Our hope is that students, teachers, and visitors who bring their devices can use a QR code reader and enjoy the fun facts about schools then and now.

This is a very simple project with a good dose of 21st Century skills. The students are researching and validating their research. They are collaborating and managing their own time. They are producing writing for an authentic audience, not just for their teacher. Additionally, they have learned about QR codes, their history, and their potential.

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