An (aspiring) Educator’s Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘technology

Teacher geek sites of the (mid) week (April 28, 2009)

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Happy Tuesday! I’m in considerably better shape this week than I was last week. Here are some sites to get you over the mid-week hump.

For the avid procrastinator and lover of beauty: Neave.com (via @lalianderson)

Interactive designer Paul Neave must have woken up one morning and asked himself “How do I make procrastination seem like art?”. From Anaglyph, an awesome 3D (think 3D glasses…) drawing tool to Planetarium, an easy to use tool to explore the night sky, Neave creates an addicting interactive experience.

For the information junkie: Aardvark (via @abijones)

Question and answer websites are not new to the web. Aardvark is the best-designed question and answer site I have ever used. Ask Aardvark questions via phone/text, your instant messenger, or email. Aardvark will quickly find a self-identified expert to answer your question and mediate dialogue between you and multiple experts until your question is answered. Yesterday, I used it to plan a lesson on quadrilateral angle measurement, start looking for a “reasonably-priced” apartment in Brooklyn, plan a running workout, and figure out the Mariner’s chances for winning the World Series (Aardvark is still working on that one….). Instant messenger is the easiest way to interact with the service. I try to answer as many questions as I post.

For the person who has heard of Remember the Milk but hasn’t taken a sip:

I tried to use RTM a few months ago and my usage petered out after a few days. Now, I can’t get by without it. RTM is an easy-to-use to-do list service. Think note on the refrigerator on steroids. With RTM, it is easy to add, categorize, and visualize tasks. Now, assignments and teaching events don’t take me by surprise (my students surprise me enough as it is….).

For the dreamer: Bank of Imagination (via @LarryFerlazzo)

Larry Ferlazzo describes this site as “strange but interesting”. I agree. It’s hard to explain – you’ll just have to visit for yourself.

Enjoy the rest of your week. Remember the milk the next time you’re at the store, lose yourself in 3D worlds, or figure out if your baseball team will make the World Series.

Written by TeacherC

28 April 2009 at 9:29 pm

Podcaster workshop: What makes a good podcast? (part 1)

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Last week, I decided to start podcasting. Being the tech geek I am, I Googled the web for howtos, and quickly found the best freeware and (reasonably-priced) digital recorder. Now, my Amazon.com box is cracked open, and I’m asking myself hard questions about podcasting. What makes a good podcast? It seems like howtos for podcasting focus on what should come second -the tools of the trade, rather than what should come first – content.  If I’m going to create a podcast for listeners, or use podcasts in my classroom next year (both to deliver content and for student projects), good content has to be at the heart of my planning and execution.

Dan Meyer says it best:

Consider these three mediums, in increasing order of technical difficulty: blogging, podcasting, and vodcasting.

  • Successful blogging requires original thought, sturdy writing, and bloodthirsty editing.
  • Successful podcasting requires original thought, sturdy writing, bloodthirsty editing, and a command of the aural experience.
  • Successful vodcasting requires original thought, sturdy writing, bloodthirsty editing, a command of the aural experience, and a command of the visual experience.

In order to achieve the same communicative result, not only does the number of necessary skills increase across all three mediums but the editing process for each grows harder and vastly more technical, the difference between hitting the delete key in one and wielding Final Cut Express’ digital blade in the other.

What does it mean to have “a command of the aural experience”? Should I ship my digital recorder back to Amazon because my content is best conveyed via blog? I’m a big fan of writing workshop in my classroom. Students work through the phases of the writing process: immersion, collecting ideas, drafting, revision, editing, publishing, and celebration. I’ve decided to put myself through a podcasting workshop.

Now, I’m in my immersion process. In the classroom, I read texts by genre, author, or craft strategy. Then, I chart students’ observations about the texts, and we make an attribute chart. Over the past few days, I’ve listened to a variety of podcasts. I’m in the process of creating an attribute chart.

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When I started making the chart, I realized it needs a different layout in its final version to separate different podcast formats (two hosts w/no interviews, roundtable/multiple people, narrator and story/interview, etc). This chart is still a good way to get started. When I have listed all attributes, I’ll sort podcasts into type. To start an attribute chart, pick your favorite podcasts (or ones you think are noteworthy), and figure out which features are shared between the podcasts. The final steps are to figure out which common attributes I should include in my podcast and the “holes in the market” – attributes my podcast will have that others do not have.

Stay tuned for my completed and sorted attribute chart in part two of my podcaster workshop series. What are attributes you’ve noticed in your favorite podcasts? Are there holes in the market – attributes you think should be in some podcasts but are missing? Can you reccomend podcasts I should listen to and add to my attribute list?

Podcasts listened to: Science Friday Podcast (NPR), This American Life (NPR), Stuff You Should Know (Howstuffworks.com), various news podcasts (The Economist, BBC, CNN, etc), Rachel Maddow Green 960, SMARTboard Lessons PodcastWicked Decent Learning Podcast, Project Xiphos, Bit by Bit, and EdTech Weekly.

Written by TeacherC

3 April 2009 at 6:33 pm

Teacher Geek Site of the Week: Bonus Sick-Day Edition

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For the design geek: This week I’ve had more time than usual to read twitter and check out links due to consecutive sick days (The only thing keeping my school from being a sequel to Outbreak is Dustin Hoffman and B actors).

@ddmeyer intrigued me with a tweet about teachers and design theory:

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This morning, @creattica lead me to an amazing design resource: 50 Totally Free Lessons in Graphic Design Theory.

Which ones should you read first? I would flip through the list and find ones that intrigue you. I hope to read a few this week:

1. #33: The Basics of Graphic Design

2. #34: Want to know how to design? Learn The Basics.

3. #22: Color Theory: Overview

4. #27: How Colors Impact Moods, Feelings, and Behaviors

5. #1: Typography, Part 1

6. #17: Grids: Order Out of Chaos

7. #43: A Few Lessons From Real World Usability

Have you used any design resources you think other teachers should use? Leave a comment and tell us about it.

(I’m in the middle of The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward Tufte)

Written by TeacherC

2 April 2009 at 7:13 am

The Self-Publishing Classroom: Glossy Magazines with Magcloud

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Who needs to work for Condé Nast or Time Warner when you can publish professional-quality magazines in your own classroom? In an article entitled Do-It-Yourself Magazines, Cheaply Slick, the NYT introduces H.P.’s new service called Magcloud.

In the words of H.P.:

MagCloud enables you to publish your own magazines. All you have to do is upload a PDF and we’ll take care of the rest: printing, mailing, subscription management, and more.

How much does it cost?

It costs you nothing to publish a magazine on MagCloud. To buy a magazine costs 20¢ per page, plus shipping. For example, a 20-page magazine would be four bucks plus shipping. And you can make money! You set your issue price and all proceeds above the base price go to you.

How are they printed?

MagCloud uses HP Indigo technology, so every issue is custom-printed when it’s ordered. Printing on demand means no big print runs, which means no pre-publishing expense. Magazines are brilliant full color on 80lb paper with saddle-stitched covers. They look awesome.

I pay particular attention to how students publish work. There are many (reasonably priced) self-publishing websites that give students an authentic medium to publish their work. The process of choosing prices of books (on websites where the books are put up for sale) is a learning and community-building experience. Magcloud opens up a new medium where students can produce professional quality work in the classroom.

Many schools do not have software that exports high resolution PDFs (Adobe InDesign, Quark, etc). If you know of free alternatives, please tell us about them via comment.

If my parents knew…

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….they’d send me to rehab.

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Other graphs by TeacherC

Written by TeacherC

7 March 2009 at 10:09 pm

Einstein on Twitter

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Was Einstein right?

“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” – Albert Einstein

“That Works….” – An EducatorBlog Comic

Comic

by educatorblog | Create your own Cartoon at www.toondoo.com

Written by TeacherC

7 March 2009 at 9:57 pm

Sometimes teachers use computers like badly written worksheets

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I’m intrigued by a debate sparked by this post on Dangerously Irrelevant:

Dangerous Debate

I agree with the principal who asks for advice – technology should not be treated as an “add on” to our curriculum. Teachers should weave technology throughout the curriculum and their practices – not only as a way to increase learning, but for networking, tracking professional development, and making life easier in the classroom (it’s possible!).

Schools that give equitable access to 21st century learning experiences value community building (home-school, teacher-student, student-student, neighborhood-school, etc), use informed and child-centered pedagogy, and help teachers connect to a wider professional community. Just having technology in a building does not ensure children learn how to use technology appropriately. Currently, our classrooms are filled with literacy, math, science, and social studies artifacts (textbooks, worksheets, libraries, posters, curriculum guides, art supplies, etc). The mere presence of these artifacts has not ensured equitable access to appropriate learning experiences.

Many professionals misuse technology (there are tons of websites about bad PowerPoint presentations). Teachers are prone to the same error. Sometimes teachers use computers like badly written worksheets. Instead of using technology to provide students with rigorous challenges, many teachers provide cookie cutter, linear experiences, where the emphasis is on product rather than process. In my professional development and classroom management plan, I say:

“students need experiences that build upon understandings they already have while challenging them to form new understandings. Vygotski used the term “Zone of Proximal Development”. Learning requires a delicate mix of challenge, conflict, safety, and familiarity. There is not a single linear progression that fits the learning trajectories of all students.”

I guess the question I would have asked, if I were the principal, is “How do you align technology use with what you believe are the best practices in education and the needs of your intellectual community? How can I create a technology plan that provides the equipment and professional development for teachers to use these technologies appropriately?”

How would you answer these questions?