Teague's Tech Treks

Learning Technology and other Tech Observations by Dr. Helen Teague

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Back to School with PBS TeacherLine

BacktoSchoolBack to School…for You!

Get a head start on the skills and resources you need for the year ahead with cool PD offerings from PBS TeacherLine, starting September 19th. Our convenient and flexible online courses provide you with the expert guidance and useful insight to help you and your students succeed. Choose from courses that span all grade levels and the entire curriculum.
Check out these teacher favorites open for enrollment:
PreK-2 Teaching Vocabulary: Word Meanings & Word Knowledge (RDLA172), 45 hours
K-6 Children’s Authors on the Web: Online Sites That Motivate Students to Write (RDLA125), 30 hours
K-8 An Introduction to Underlying Principles and Research for Effective Literacy Instruction (RDLA152), 45 hours
K-12 Graphic Organizers for 21st Century Learning (TECH195), 30 hours
K-12 Connecting Family, Community and Schools (INST320), 30 hours
Pick Your Course. Enroll Today— Fall Classes Begin September 19th!

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Tech BFFs: Naiku

techbff_thumbnail  BFF is an acronym for “Best Friend Forever.” These websites and tips are so good that they will become
your technology 
BFFs!

How do you know if your students, your audience,  (your family) is “getting it”?

How do you check for understanding quickly, efficiently, and without spending more effort checking than your learning
group has spent learning?

Use Quick Question from Naiku.

Naiku (referring to the Lao word for teacher)  is a utility web program available online for eLearning or MLearning.  Teachers and older students can create assessment tests and quick questions which can be answered using mobile devices in the classroom or from home.

Now that school is “in session” this is the perfect time to beta test Naiku.
Using Naiku’s Quick Question is easy. Simply go to www.naiku.net, and sign-up for a free account. When you are read, click on Login at the top of the page, and enter your username and password to start a session. Press one of the question types to ask your students a question. That’s it.

Quick Question Tips:
1. Remind your students to go to q.naiku.net and enter your Quick Question session number (as shown in the middle of your teacher account window)
2. Click on Show Results to display the results on your screen and send to the student devices
3. Click on one of the bars in the chart if you wish to designate that as the correct answer
4. Click on a question type any time you wish to start a new question

naiku

If your students are not connected in a 1:1 ratio, you can employ Naiku in a learning center, a webpage as a follow-up, and/or project to the whole class to answer with pencil and paper as an exit ticket or close activity.
More tips and help are available at www.naiku.net/quickquestion. We love to hear from you. Comments welcome. Email us at support@naiku.net .

For additional ideas see this post.

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Life-long learners

distributed knowledge base

Teachers are life-long learners. They are on a constant quest for new venues of knowledge…when teachers stop feeding their brains and content themselves with what their rigorous curricula and textbooks preach then they get relegated to hard-working students status–a status which could severely impact their whole teaching performance and productivity. PLNs, blogs, wikis, podcasts, RSS, social bookmarking, tagging, photo and video sharing, social networking, data mining, mobile learning, crowd sourcing, to mention but some, are part of the digital kit {equipping every}} successful educator. ~Med Kharbach in this link

Picture Source

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Weekend Ed Quote~August 25

JApte

Learning is an internal transformation, a change…it’s about seeing yourself in relation to the world differently ~J. Apte

~~~

More Weekend Quotes

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What to wear to a Skype Interview

What to wear to a Skype Interview

Skype is an video-calling web tool that allows users to connect with each other. Med Kharbach writes, “educators and teachers connect with each other and organize online meetings from everywhere in the world. Check out Teachers Guide to The Use of Skype in Education to learn more about this platform.”

Ok, that is the pedagogy. Now for the nitty-gritty.

There are 28 million Skypers online. I was one of them… four years ago. I created a cute, but oblique username, cryptic password and jauntily clicked on the web cam to take my Profile picture.

A creepy image manifested itself into my view. Horrified at the way my face rendered on the huge laptop screen, I slammed my laptop screen down and skittered away from Skype. I begged my handyman to reopen my laptop, deactivate my account, and I resolved to stay a Flintstone in the emerging Jetson world of video communications.

I nurtured my Luddite point of view until recently when a job interview request mandated Skype as the communication interface. Here are ten essential lessons I learned from my DeMille close-up moment.

Be Techy: Always hard-wire your Skype sessions. Wireless is just too risky when accepting important Skype calls. If your wireless connection fluctuates and frazzles when your neighbor downloads a NetFlix, your face will freeze in the absolute most unflattering Rorschack pose EVER!

Be Aware: Skype will settle nicely into an automatic Start-up when you boot Windows, meaning that you in all of your make-up-free glory will be available for any available insomniacs  unless you also know to …

Be Covert: Always set your status to “Offline”.  Also, wait until you are offline to accept Skype Friend requests. Unless, of course, you always look like Cindy Crawford while lounging around after work or first thing in the morning. Ready and rowdy friends can immediately pounce on your Friend  acceptance, leaving you unprepared for the Skype call fall-out.

Be Clear: My first Skype practice session friend Sue commented that I appeared fuzzy and blurred to her. Taking her advice to heart, I bounded outside for a soul-refreshing  hike and swim. Still no luck. I lacked the clarity I reasoned that only a new pair of shoes would refresh. Ditto for a latte and a matiness of “The Best Marigold Hotel.”

It was my LA-based friend Beth who surveyed the situation and immediately ordered me to take off the oval lens protection tape covering the webcam orifice. The instant clarity rivaled face-lifts and Lasik surgery.

Be Design-conscious: Skype definitely awakens the necessity Set Decoration. Definitely accept no calls until Skypers can see the whites of your walls. Or “Neutral Urban Dusk” as the stylish, young girl coos to describe a wall color the next Design Star. I’ve also set the DVR for Love It or List It to pick up as many set decorating tips as I can after the afore-mentioned Beth called me out on my minimalist  background style.

“Throw something on the wall so they don’t think you are speaking from a vacuous void! You had an orange room in junior high, what happened???” Only a childhood friend could offer such poignancy.

Definitely check the 360-degree view of your Skype landscape. Move sock puppets. Ditto any velvet renderings of dogs playing poker or Elvis in any decade. Don’t commence a Skype interview from a “Slash Room” you know…an office/study/guest bedroom/storeroom. It’s just too creepy.

(Let there) Be Light: My company cohort, Mary says, “check the lighting. I look infinitely better on webcam when the light is right. You have to be like Sheldon and find your ‘spot.’ otherwise your grandkid thinks you are the Monster Who Hides Under the Bed. My niece-in-law from China has her webcam hooked up to 50 inch Samsung HD and that’s how she Skypes.

Be Mindful: Time passes. Be mindful of the passage of time: Webcams are unforgiving little demons. My personal view is that because they were invented by children younger than my potted fern, they are oblivious to wrinkle creep and turkey-neck. Using a scarf to hide unsightly folds of skin is just too Grey Gardens. Turtlenecks are too Lands’ End, especially in the sweltering Southern summers. The best alternative is to doff a high-necked jacket in a warm-coral-based color. Unless you are a man, in which case, wear anything you like except a Metalhead t-shirt with mustard stains. My friend Reggie did this and I can testify that even from 2000 miles away, mustard is mustard and the stain does show.

And, as Always…Be Taylor-tastic:  Finally, learn from Elizabeth Taylor: Elizabeth’s grooming quote of the 1950’s has merit today:

ETaylorQuote

Did I forget anything? What would you add?

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Back to School~ QR Codes

BacktoSchool

qrcodesinclassroomhelenteague

As you return back to school, consider adding QR codes to your bag of tricks Teaching Strategies.

QR codes are the little boxy graphics popping up everywhere.* Originally used in Marketing for Business, they are fun for students, parents, and those who love them. The purple QR Code on the left represents this blog! Although some school filters block all mobile devices, even employee owned, QR Codes extend learning beyone the school day and your classroom.

Use QR codes as a type of shorthand for content, as a shortcut for link URLs, as a mystery prize, even a staff development tool.

 I recently delivered a professional development training session powered entirely by QR codes scattered on posters in the hallway leading to the training room and around the room. Using their BYOD of choice equipped with a free, downloaded QR reader app, educators could satiate their curiosity at will. (This also circumvented the disharmony of posting presentation links, waiting for inaccurate/slow typists and smiling through diatribes along the lines of “this internet proliferation equals an end to civilization as we know it.”)

Educators could also return later to the presentation with a click, negating the need for handouts. In my online courses, I created QR codes to represent our content chapters. Each week had a different QR code that relayed back to the online content. Next term, I am going to supply the codes and encourage students to save the resulting content in offline format.

* Complete QR Code Definition: QR codes, abbreviated from Quick Response Code, are the matrix barcodes readable by QR scanners, mobile phones with a camera, and smartphones.

Here is a sample of More Classroom Uses for QR Codes:

—12 Ideas for Teaching with QR codes from our friends at Edutopia 

—Always on the techie edge, Miguel Guhlin writes this great post on Updating an Image in a QR Code

—50 ways to use QR codes in the classroom at this google docs link

—Encouraging our youngest writers, Frances used QR codes and iPads with Kindergarten students. The students created stories using an app like Educreations, created a QR code and then their parents access their work with their iPhones.

—Kudos to Scott Hagedorn for this easy-to-implement application of QR codes in the classroom. He places the scanable block patterns on any poster or wall artifact that he wants his students to inquire about. One favorite: an old-school Bo Jackson READ poster (what fifth grader knows what Bo Knows?). Students scan the QR codes using the handful of iPads that Mr. Hagedorn has available in his classroom and then explore the topic.

—High Five to Megan V. who is using QR codes to add book trailers to the books in the school library. Have students create a video instead of writing a book report and then link the video to the book through a QR code. Her blog post covers the basics http://www.mediacastblog.com/book-trailers/

—Mark B. labels equipment and trolleys with QR Codes – linked to a document of contents

—Link the answers to math, science, grammar problems to a QR code

—Attach a QR Code to your email signature, pointing back to your website, blog, school webpage, latest fundraiser, weather report, etc…

—Place a QR code on your website and/or blog for easy retrieval. This is the one on our website.

—Check out this resource: Lisa Mims has curated great ideas at her ScoopIt site called Engaging Students Using QR codes

—Jason Dixon Jr. Chief Learning Officer at Tequipment, Inc. said, “If one simply thinks of a QR code as a printable hyperlink it may help to expand the possibilities. Here is a quick video our team created to highlight using and creating QR codes.”

No tech options? No worries! With lesson comparisons to fingerprints, Students can also draw their own QR code and provide a caption deciphering it or where their code would lead.

—My tech mentor, Linda Uhrenholt says: “As the Nike ads say “Just do it!” I started by exploring what others had accomplished. Heck, the first time I captured a QR code it led to a free cup of coffee at a new coffee shop. This was several years ago. The second time I captured one from a ketchup bottle!!! That led to a short video about a local community college! It’s fun not only to view QR codes but create them! “

Here are  more great sites to use to create your QR Codes:

Create QR Code http://createqrcode.appspot.com/

Kaywa: http://qrcode.kaywa.com/

Creating QR Codes from the NYTimes

How to Create a QR Code in 4 Quick Steps

Enoy!

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Back to School~Incorporate Podcasts

BacktoSchoolAs you return to school, consider tranferring your printed resources into podcasts.

Here is a podcast by Tremaine Jackson and  Deborah Tarsiewicz explaining the growing popularity of the genre, Steampunk novels. What I like is the transferability of your hardcopy texts to Web 2.0 tools such as Podcasts. As explained in a previous post on podcasts, I like Pod-0-Matic, a free podcast conversion utility.

Give a listen:

Some uses for Podcasts:
website greeting for parents
daily/weekly class annoucement on your website or blog
student projects –poem recitations, stories, biographies, summaries of novels, historical periods, current event
weekly “TeacherTalk” diaglogue starring you and a colleague

General Tips for Podcasts:
keep language concise, direct, and lively
keep podcasts short…less than 4 minutes
add texture with music, sound effects

Great source for Podcasts:
Library of Congress–my personal favorite
Scientific American
iTunes
Podcast Alley
PodOMatic

click here to read more about incorporating social media in your classroom (pdf download)

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Back to School~Classroom Design

BacktoSchoolI wrote a post last week asking for advice, ideas, quotes, and best wishes for my daughter who begins her first year of teaching next Monday. I have really appreciated the responses and learned from them.

One veteran teacher and friend sent a link for practical suggestions for many beginning activities, such as designing classroom layout space.

The layout of your classroom fosters a great response for learning. I would always have a seating chart set for the first day, even though students would be changing schedules during the first week. Knowing that I knew their name and had prepared for their arrival made a difference to my students.

Click this link to read the blogger’s ideas and apply the suggestions.

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Back-to-School Tech Spring Cleaning

BacktoSchool

Hazel the MaidThe closest I get to becoming “the doctor is in” is to listen to calls, read emails, offer tissues in F2F to those who have “forgotten” (neglected) “meant to” (neglected), and “thought our IT guys did it” (the blame version of neglected) to back up their

Files, Class Notes, Lesson Plans, Bookmarks/Favorites, MP3 songs, iTunes songs , iTunes media , iPod songs, Blog Entries, Webpage files, Pictures, Email (don’t fall for the ‘AutoArchive’ scam) Recipes (?) (I know but I am trying to be inclusive), TAX records/ spreadsheets, IRS hatemail.

What else have I forgotten?

Windows, Apple’s Time Capsule , Anti-Virus programs all have have automatic backups and Time Capsule has a way to back-up wirelessly.

My favorite backup is the portable hard drive, a zillionGB model will run less than $100.

There are also some swell online tools for this purpose: Data Deposit Box, IDrive, and even tiny thumb drives.

The cost is  less than a session on the psych couch (although, it you are a fan of  the old “In Treatment” series, the price may be well worth it to spend an hour with Gabriel Byrne)

Anywho, please put on your weekend “TOO-DO” list or “Honey-DO” list to back up ALL your files. Please,

Pretty please with a post-it on top. 🙂

*****P.S. Students also need to backup their work, files, etc… but in the end they are young and will recover from the “shock and jaw”-dropping.

Image Source: http://i1.iofferphoto.com/img/item/358/441/11/hazel.jpg

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Back to School~ Job Applications for Classroom Jobs

BacktoSchool

 

I wrote a post last week asking for advice, ideas, quotes, and best wishes for my daughter who begins her first year of teaching next Monday. I have really appreciated the responses and learned from them.

One veteran teacher and friend sent a link for practical suggestions for many beginning activities setting up classroom jobs.  Students request classroom jobs using a job application. This is a great idea for building a community spirit within your classroom and teaching real-world job application skils.  Click here to read more

You no doubt have your list of Classroom Helper Jobs.

Here is a partial list of some of the classroom jobs I assigned to students:

1.) Greeter(s)  (1-2 students stood with me at the door and handled extra books/coats/projects/requests) This is best assigned first to someone who usually arrives early to class.

2.) Technology Assistant (1-2 students who checked that the computer, whiteboard, and printer were turned-on, dusted and the paper was filled with paper).

3.) Writer,  Make-up Calendar (1 student who filled in the highlights of the days’ assignments in our make-up calendar.)

4.) Tutor (1-2 students who were available to inform an absent student about what he/she missed)

5.) Lunch ticket counter

6.) Supply Monitor (1-2 students to place the days’ supplies-books, art supplies, maps, worksheets, websites addresses out and ready)

7.) Publicity (one student to use the classroom disposable camera to snap “the learning moment”) I liked using disposable cameras for this job because I could control when the pictures were developed and when/if the were distributed.

8.) Graphic Artist-Bulletin Board (1-2 students to plan and design one bulletin board and keep it updated)

9.) Receptionist (1 student to answer the phone in the classroom. A sample telephone script was written on a card near the phone for students to say.)

10.) Collections Agent (1-2 students to collect papers, projects, printouts from students and deposit them in designated areas in our room)

What jobs would you add to this list?

 

 

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