Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Why We Love Google!!

Why We love Google...

Check out these Tutorials on Google--They are awesome!!

That tutorial site, was built by a cool web 2.0 tool called called glogster:  Check it out:

Games in the classroom

I have been reading some blogs (mainly ) recently about interesting instructional gaming websites. Here's one called SHIDONNI...The following link contains a PREZI presentation about Shidonni...It may be geared toward younger students, but I still see potential--especially as a learning station in your class where students might work colaboratively together to create a world:  (thinking about the 8th grade who studies ocean zones, 6th grade who studies planetetary systems, etc)

Here's a site called Game Classroom that has games organized by grade level and subject area, it only goes through 6th grade but for those lower skilled students, some games may be appropriate for 7th and 8th graders too!

Here are just all the games listed by grade level:

Then, if you want to search through lesson plans, etc. that go along with the games go here to the main website:

If there is a game on the topic, it will be at the bottom of the page that has the lesson on the particular topic.  Each lesson also has on-line resources.

Then,  there are sites that help train your brain,  Here's one called Fit Brain.

Another one in this genra is lumosity and it has focus games, problem solving skills, match games, etc.:

For both of these web-sites I signed up for a generic account that you can use:  tjmswsnc,  pw: (hint, 3500)

Finally, here are some more Math Games that Stephanie Hendy collected in her blog:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Google Forms from the Principal who uses them

To my  Admin/Support Folks,

This came through in tweet from one of the principals (D NMHS_Principal) who we are following on the TJMSSIT twitter account. He talks about google forms and how he makes his life easier collecting information from teachers. Have a read of his blog, and it might spur an idea for how you could use google forms to collect information that right now you do "manually".

I'd be glad to help you with google forms, and as we saw with Peggy--she already used one to collect data for her admin evaluation. Here's the blog from the Principal...

Also, for teachers who have a little tech savvy in them, here are some step by step directions for creating a Quiz that students could take on-line and be graded using a google form:

Help Winston Get Google!!

Please Help Winston-Salem with our support for Google!!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Capture the March Madness enthusiasm with some academic discussions

Students are excited about March Madness, teachers are excited, why not tap into this excitement, and use it to create some enthusiam in your class!?

Check out this article with many ideas you could use in your class?

"If you can't beat em join em" with some ideas from Education World:

Hope your bracket is better than mine :)

Follow-up On Wiki / Pb works staff development 3/18/2010

It's always good to reflect on staff development sessions with teachers.  This past week, Teachers were trained by Thelma Anderson in PB-works. My goal was to try and portray PB works  ( ) as just one tool that teachers can utilize that allows students to work on projects that gives them more than an "audience of 1".  Wikispaces  ( ) is fine another fine platform for creating a WIKI.  PB works is just the platform that our WS/FCS recommends. 

There was a discussion about handling and managing student comments during our sessions. The following is a link to a lesson you might try with students before they start commenting on a blog or Wiki.  "Preventative measures" are the best way to prevent inappropriate comments

Another weopon in your aresonal is to remind students that they are "covered" under our district's acceptable use policy that stays in all students' guidance folders. You might show this to students and remind them what they must follow or face consequences.  So, if you decide to create a WIKi or blog, it would definitely be good to re-enforce the concepts of appropriate on-line behavior.  You might also try sending home the following WIKI warrantee  which you can edit to your own liking.

Another discussion that came up was how is a Wiki different than a google doc,  Couldn't you do some of these same things by simply sharing a google doc.  Well,  YES and NO.  You could set up docs for students to work collaboratively together like the one Cindy Neininger did with her Langauage Arts classes.  We created blank google documents and "shared" them and made them "edit-able" and placed the links on the student share drive. Then, Students working in groups of three with the laptop cart worked collaboratively on scripts.  It worked well.  Now, the limits are you can't upload other files like you can on a WIKI, and other student's pages are not easily viewable like they are in a WIKI. 

Another discussion was "Why can't we have a platform like Facebook for teachers?" to be able to interact with students? My Friend, Jennifer Lagarde highly recommends this educational version of Facebook:   She says her teachers love it.  I signed up for a generic tjmswsnc account with my "usual" password, if anyone at school wants to try it before signing up yourself...Another social networking site is linked below --It was also recommended by my very wise and knowledgeable Media person (Jennifer Lagarde) in Wilmington (and who said to just cut Media people!!?)   Here's another one called Grockit and an article about it:

Here are a couple of articles for an against the idea of opening up Facebook:

Here is a list of possible Social Media Sites that teachers might try when FACEBOOK is not an option:

Finally, Here is a link to the district's Wiki about WIKIS: orginal blog about this wiki Workshop:

And lastly, let's say you want to have multiple students edit the same document simultaneously, and any changes are instantly reflected on everyone's screen; you might try Etherpad. The result is a productive way to collaborate/brain-storm on text documents.  Here's a link.

Friday, March 19, 2010

HP LASER JET 4200n = "Lemon"

I decided to blog about this because The HP laser Jet 4200 Printer has caused me to feel like an incompetant loser all these years because of its ilustrious lack of performance and perpetual failure. About 4 years ago, our school purchased an HP laser Jet 4200 and placed it our new Pod. Everyone was thrilled to have a brand new printer that would print fast and efficiently and serve the 7 teachers in the lower POD--Woo Hoo!  Unfortunately, that dream was never to be. From the early months of its existence it would spout out a black film of ink jet dust all around the printer, jam frequently and be down more than it was up.

At first I thought maybe the users were somehow "abusing" the new printer, perhaps running too many copies or putting old paper in the tray.  But no, this was not the case. We would look in all the crevices for fragments of jammed paper, but it never seemed to help. We finally used the pull down manual paper tray but this would only help temporarily. The jams continued :( We sent the printer in on numerous occassions to be cleaned, had Garnett Hill out to replace the fusers, and generally just suffered with the over-all performance.

After servicing, the printer would work for awhile longer, but then resume its terrible track record of jamming and failing. When the school purchased another HP laser jet 4200n printer this time for the Annex (At first in Ms. Loflin's room, then Ms. Carespodi's room) the exact same set of problems started happening.  I felt badly for those teachers who were constantly frustrated by the printer.

Well, After Ms. Carespodi's laserjet 4200n printer crashed and burned again this week, I decided to ask my "tech buddies" if they were seeing anything like this in their buildings. Well, much to my surprise and redemption, the reports are in from several schools--and they are very SIMILAR-- My conclusion, HP put out a piece of you know what, and we paid OVER $!1200.00 (times two) only to get four miserable years out of it! At the same time, we have other HP laser jet printers in the building like our HP laser jet 4000's and 4100 both much older models yet still working just fine.

Seems like another example of companies worried more with profit margins and the bottom line putting out cheaply made, and poorly designed technology. Sad :(

The following are some of the testimonied from my tech buddies...

We have had exactly the same problems with it from the first day also. It has been sent in so many times I can not even begin to count. We have had major problems with the trays and Dr, Reichert was willing to purchase a new one to try to solve some of the issues only the tray costs $350.00!! That's crazy to spend that kind of money on just the tray. We can get a new printer for that. The 4000 and 4050 have been really great machines but there is something wrong with the 4200's for sure.

Speas Elementary School

I have a 4200 that I would also call a lemon...fusers been replaced twice, paper jams and for over 2 years, we just open the back panel and let the paper feed out the back to keep papers from jamming...

Vienna Elementary School

I have had to have a couple fusers replaced and the ink toner is more expensive than all others but overall I don't think ours have been as problematic as yours. Ugh! Don't you love technology???
Old Richmond Elementary School

I too have had terrible problems with that model. Always have to get Garnett to come out. Have ordered parts for it. MY old 4050's are still working after 12 years. Amazing.

Meadowlark Elementary

Cool Music Sites

For our music teachers, I will try and gather some resources as I see them on twitter...

A blog only a band director would appreciate...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Social Studies Links

The following are a series of links I have found on twitter related to Social Studies topics:

Holocaust Resources:

The following clip could be used as an activator for a discussion: The Civil War ended in Aoril of 1865. Discuss the War Between the States with our Featured Movie:

Best Sites about the Civil War:

The leadership of the 104th Congress directed the Library of Congress to make federal legislative information freely available to the public

Check out these interactive lessons about our court system:

There are some really cool games that challenge students to think:

Crossword Puzzles on the Civil war, WW1, WW2, Vietnam,

12 Websites and Resources All Social Studies Teachers Should Try
as seen on Twitter:

Saw this blog about the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln Coin:

Wiki Workshop 3/18/10

What are Wiki's? and How are they different from Blogs?

First off, Go ahead and sign up in the workshop registration system if you would like to receive technology credit for Thursday's staff development.  We will meet at grade level times listed in the weekly memo

Wiki Basics
03/18/2010 - 07:45:00
Jefferson Middle Thelma W Anderson Registered

Let's get started with Wiki's. Here is a link to the WS/FCS pbwiki about Wiki's--It contains lots of good resources about Wiki's including this video, Wiki's in Plain English, which you may have seen before :)

Here's a bit of a comparison between Wiki's and blogs

Wiki's vs. Blogs some thoughts...

Here's an amusing video discussing the  (only viewable at home because it is on You-tube and is blocked by our school system :(

My Wiki on PBWORKS:

Blog Wiki or Discusssion Board

Finally, I created a little presentation on Prezi (The Icon team is currently using this tool with their students to create presentations of their DC trip)

Here is the Link to my presentation on Prezi:

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Heard of Wordle?

Today I stumbled across wordle...
It is a website that can create a visual representation of a reading, website, or a collection of words. I pasted the url of my TJMS tips blog and got the following visual result. It surprised me! Do I talk that much about BATTERIES??

Then, today I noticed after my post, that our district site also posted a entry on Wordle,
They must be following the same twitter people as me :)
This link has some ideas for using in the classroom, click on the slideshow to see the ideas:


Ideas for Using Flip Cameras in the Classroom

Recently, Ms. Mooney with determination, and persistence was able to acquire a number of Flip Video Cameras for our school.  She is more than willing to loan them out, but will "house them" in the lower pod in 6th grade.   Just see her or me about "checking them out"

Recently, I attended a Flip Video Workshop at the NCTIES conference in raleigh, and during that session the presenters offered many ideas for using Flip Cameras in class.  In Nancy Mangum's session she showed us some great ideas for using video in classes;  one very simple idea was where a flip video camera was used to film hand-drawn or downloaded pictures along with a script in what she called a Paper Slide video...It was easy to do and cool!

Here is a list of sites with suggestions for using a Flip Camera in class:

43 suggestions for using Flip video cameras in class

Flipping Out with a Flip Camera

BTW, I posted the following in an earlier blog... But if you have a Flip Video Camera and were trying to use Movie Maker to edit it, then this article may be relevant. I  recommend a program called "Any Video Converter".  It  is a free download-able program you can use to convert file formats: There are several other free video converter programs too.  Here is the link to download it:

Finally, some might want to convert from a Windows Media File to actually make a DVD:

Math Resources--How to make it relevant...

Thanks to:  RT @kdwashburn  and web2.0 classrooms on twitter for the inspiration for this blog...

Kudos to math teachers for handling something like the following in your class!  There is always a student  who will ask,  When Will I ever use this stuff?  It brings to mind  the 1986 movie, "Peggy Sue Got Married,".....This blog describes the scene:  "Kathleen Turner is an unhappily married wife and mother, magically returns to relive her senior year as the most popular girl at Buchanan High. She leaves a math test blank, and when her teacher (described in the screenplay as "an officious little creep") demands an explanation, answers": "Mr. Snelgrove, I happen to know that in the future, I will never have the slightest use for algebra. And I speak from experience."

So, how do you make Math relevant?  Here's one way...make it current and hip.  For example, did you know Lewis Carrol used Math as an underlying theme in much of his story "Alice in Wonderland"?  The movie is out now with Tim Burton's updated version.  Check out this story about the math theme in this story and share this with your students...

Here are some other Math Sites I have recently seen on twitter:

From the nerdy teacher:

Check out this Prezi about Math Games

Geometry and Algebra Wiki:

Math with Google Earth
Math Forum/Math Tools

Mathalicious for Middle School

Math Manipulatives...

Algebra APP on I-phone:

Ways to make math relevant:

Problem based Learning in Math...

Celebrate PI day with a rap with your students

Will continue to update...  as I find more...  :)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Tricks to Keep Your Device’s Battery Going and Going

This is another one of those frequently asked questions.  Someone tells me that the battery life on their blackberry, i-phone or laptop goes dead really, really fast, and they are frustrated.

The following websites have some good suggestions for preserving your battery life on these devices and making them last longer :)

Tricks to Keep Your Device’s Battery Going and Going

Top 15 ways to extend the life of your laptop Battery

A more technical explanation of preserving the battery life of lithium based batteries

New technology with batteries is coming

A little background on battery types from the NYT article:

The older generation of nickel cadmium batteries suffered from memory issues; if you didn’t fully charge and discharge one, it would hold a progressively smaller amount of juice.

Today’s lithium-ion batteries don’t suffer from memory loss, so it is safe to top off a battery.

Lithium-ion batteries cannot be overcharged; a device’s circuitry cuts off the power when they are full. However, manufacturers still recommend that a laptop not be continually connected to power once the battery is at its capacity. If a laptop won’t be used for several months, it should be stored with the battery in a 50 percent charge state.

All batteries can be fully charged and discharged for a fixed number of cycles; lithium ion batteries typically last between 300 and 500 cycles. Information on the number of cycles can be obtained at manufacturers’ Web sites, or at

No matter how well you husband your battery’s resources, there comes a time when you’ll need to send your battery to its final resting place.

Like most things nearing the end of their life, your battery will stay awake less and sleep more. “If your battery lasts only an hour after you’ve charged it,” said Anthony Magnabosco, owner of, a battery replacement company, “you know its time is up.”

The following are 5 ways to lengthen the battery life on your laptop from the article :"top 15 ways to extend the life of your laptop Battery":

1. Defrag regularly - The faster your hard drive does its work – less demand you are going to put on the hard drive and your battery. Make your hard drive as efficient as possible by defragging it regularly. (but not while it’s on battery of course!) Mac OSX is better built to handle fragmentation so it may not be very applicable for Apple systems.

2. Dim your screen – Most laptops come with the ability to dim your laptop screen. Some even come with ways to modify CPU and cooling performance. Cut them down to the lowest level you can tolerate to squeeze out some extra battery juice.

3. Cut down on programs running in the background. Itunes, Desktop Search, etc. All these add to the CPU load and cut down battery life. Shut down everything that isn’t crucial when you’re on battery.

4. Cut down external devices – USB devices (including your mouse) & WiFi drain down your laptop battery. Remove or shut them down when not in use. It goes without saying that charging other devices (like your iPod) with your laptop when on battery is a surefire way of quickly wiping out the charge on your laptop battery.

5. Add more RAM - This will allow you to process more with the memory your laptop has, rather than relying on virtual memory. Virtual memory results in hard drive use, and is much less power efficient. Note that adding more RAM will consume more energy, so this is most applicable if you do need to run memory intensive programs which actually require heavy usage of virtual memory.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Are you sick of using of PowerPoint for presentations? Do you want to try something new with students?

If so, then try Prezi. Prezi is a web 2.0 tool that can be used for presentations. Prezi uses one big canvas that allows you to zoom in or move around while being able to see the “big picture” or overview.  The Ws/FCS in touch blog also spoke about the wonders of Prezi

To start your own or see examples, go to  and take a look at Prezi in 3 minutes.

To make a Prezi from scratch you need to sign up using an e-mail account. I signed up for a generic TJMS account:  user name:  tjmswsnc,   pw hint (3500.......)

How would you make this work with students--if you wanted them to be able to create presentations on prezi in your class?

You can use your GMail (Google Mail) account. GMail does not recognize anything after a plus sign. Students could sign up for a Prezi account by adding a plus sign and their name to your account, and you could manage them.

For example:

My GMail account is
A student could use
And sign up for their own prezi account.
Give it a try... :)

KID Blogging

Have you ever heard of Kid Blog?  It's a great tool for classroom blogs

Students have secure accounts and all of their posts have to be approved before they are seen on the internet.  For first time blogging that's the comfort level that you might want.

Here is a copy of the blog planning sheet that a teacher I know used.  This gave the students some basic ideas and suggestions for topics for blogging.

Blog Resources:

Teaching students how to make comments on a blog:

Ten Things your students can blog about:

Twenty Reasons why students should blog:

33 Ways to use blogs in your class:

Happy Blogging!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Instructional Technology Resources (will continue to update)

The following are some miscellaneous links that may or may not be only of interest to technology facilitators:

Search Engine Techniques:

Cool tools for schools everything from audio to video to presentation--great collection!

Digital Nation:

Internet Ethics:

Everything I ever needed to know about tech ed, learned from Back to the Future:

The Pursuit of Technology Integration Happiness

Creating AVATARS (not sure where to put this link since I don't do "second life") but will put it on this post as a possible resource in the future:

Things you might not have known Google Docs could do...

Friday, March 5, 2010

Back from NCTIES...My top 5

I had a great time at the NCTIES conference (official site)  in Raleigh!  People always say if you bring back just three things that you will use then it will have been worthwhile going. 

So,  even though I have not had time to fully digest everthing I learned, I will try and narrow it down to Three things that I plan on sharing/using.  In the meantime,  I have seen the following blogs (via twitter) from other attendees...and the following links have their top lists too--some overlap, some don't:

Melissa's notes  from Department of Technology in winston-salem

Blog from Kevin at Clemmons MS

Well,  one thing I know I will use because I have already set it in place, WellWisher...

1)  At our SIT meeting last week we talked about teacher morale and there was a suggestion for a "drop in the bucket" type bulletin board for sharing positive accomplishments for one another at TJMS.

Well, it just so happens that one thing I learned about (from my friend, Jennifer LaGarde) in Raleigh is a website called Wallwisher. It is a simple webpage where we all can easily post our positive messages about one another on an electronic bulletin board :)

So, I set up the following wall on wallwisher: and posted a message there. I also put a link on the left border of our TJMS webpage called Best at TJMS After you click on the link, just double click on the "wall" to post a comment (You do NOT need to sign in or set up an account. I will moderate all comments --so we don't get messages up there like: "Mr. Downs is the worst tech facilitator ever! "

2)  The second thing I plan on sharing and encouraging is Personal Learning Networks and Twitter.  Twitter seemed to be something that kept coming up at different sessions at the conference.  I attended Kathy Schrock's session on Twitter and Emory Maiden's too.  People were tweeting throughout the conference and here is a listing of tweets from people attending or speaking about the conference:

I learned that you can use a "#" at the end of a tweet and any tweet with that "tag" will show up in a search.  So,  people from the conference would tweet an idea or message or question with the ending tag #ncties, and anyone at the conference could then easily search twitter for tweets with that tag and see what was being said or shared.

This type of "tagging" has implications for the classroom as teachers could use a similar idea for classroom projects!  We also saw examples of teachers or schools who set up twitter accounts for very specific uses.  There was a sports department who would twitter sports score results and set them up to display on their website.  Another teacher would tweet the daily weather at her school and followers would tweet conditions from locations all over the world.  Students would then gather that data and analyse it!

3)  In a concurrent session with Leslie Fisher, (who I really liked!) I learned about Google Forms...   Forms can help you easily gather information from a large number of people without having to send and receive multiple emails--Teachers could pose a question online and receive feedback (create on-line quizzes for example).  Here's instruction on how to create a Google Form..

Okay,  I can't stop at THREE!!

4)  Ustream:   established in March 2007, is a website which consists of network of diverse channels providing a platform for lifecasting and live video streaming of events online.  I think this would be a great site for distant learning opportunities.  I want to explore this more!

5)  Flip Videos and using video in class is wave that is still rising.  I attended this session from nancy Mangum, and there were some good ideas for using video in classes.  This is something I really want to encourage.  Ms Mooney in 6th grade recently acquired a set of four flip videos and we need to start using them!   Nancy talked about several ideas for using flip videos in class, and had the participants demonstrate one where a flip video was used to film hand-drawn or downloaded pictures along with a script in what she called a Paper Slide video...It was easy to do and cool!

Other things
I really want to check out:
(a way to manage your twitter account from a desktop application)
(can set up multiple calendars, use for room scheduling at your school, etc.)
(This guy was a great speaker and had some outstanding ideas, loved his "entertainnment tonight style" video that he created with his kids.  Liked his line:  "kids in India & Chine are hungry for your job")
(Kevin Honeycutt, a great conference featured speaker shared this site where you can upload student artwork for a shared audience :)
(A guy I respect on twitter said this was one of his favorite "finds" from the conference so it must be good!)

Kevin Honeycutt--Social Learning Networks

These are my notes from Kevin Honeycutt's session at NCTIES:

Was an art teacher in K12, now on schoolboard...

SPY Tv director...high school in Kansas...

Brandon Brown, who house got wiped out by the big tornado in Kansas--called Kevin to ask for a copy of the movie they made in high school--that says something right there about the power of video creating in school

Sure, the students are Lazy....sometimes you have to really nudge them to write the scripts, etc, but they usually will pull it together...

you do an amazing job, then the next year, it's just part of their job...

On Twitter you can brag on the them...

Innovation dies of doemestic violence

World is changing faster than anytime since the printing press during the Renaissance

Idea"  Put Microphone on your heartbeat,  you only got so many heartbeats in your life--Kids...


More you know the more valuable you get,  kids need a roll-a-decks of important resources.

Bulletin Board of kids statements on twitter, you stop and talk about mean behavior. Kids need educated on social networking

You could make a paper bulletin board in your class to "rehearse for social media"

Sphere of Learning...

Tale of Two Minds:

Stand alone or Network connected...

First time in history we are global competition connected...

We got to get connected,  "kids in India are hungry for your job"

Throw the ball where the receiver is going to be...we need to do that in education--talked about World is Flat

Fungable jobs, can be outsourced

It's hard to outsource amazing...
An amazing teacher over skype is better than a disengaged teacher in the classroom.

How do you get grandma archived for history?

Furniture at school is punitive...Macdonalds designes furniture that is uncomfortable so you will get up and buy another burger...why is school like that??...Kevin got track lighting for his room.

soft interface--couches, cusheys, nice lighting  try these in your class in times for discussion
They will own this lesson...

4/5 groups in classes

Ever feel like a waiter in classroom?  Be a consultant...

HE would send bonuses to his "student executives"--send a picture of a lexus,  sent hershey bars...

Every student got to rotate through the leadership role...

You can join as k12 so no ADS

There's little kids around, be on your best behavior...

Art snacks  all free place

give you a free store to put artwork on

Profit margin goes to the school for art work on


Read to other classrooms,  some stranger on the wall suddenly students are watching

Get experts from all over to talk to your classes

Never had an author say no yet

Need to share "roll-a-decks"

Daniel Pink wrote a whole new mind  MIT writer

2nd life


What can skype mean for learners"?

teachers around the world sharing lessons

Nancy Mangum on Flip Videos's_Workshops

Using Flip videos to pose a question in class...

Example Phases of the moon--video tape the moon, pose a question about it...

Music videos:

Science vibrations,

Teachers and students should participate for it to be effective...
Kids get a kick out of just watching the videos in class some not posted on the web for privacy issues


Students wrote scrips yesterday...

Printed pictures that they wanted to use

Today, students would read over script,  select images you want to use...

practice sliding the paper and reading the script

one hold the camera, one slide the paper, and two alternate reading...

come up record paper slide video...


Saw the following "finds" on Twitter from folks attending here:  Here is a list of all the tweets from people attending the conference who made comments and ended their tweet with #ncties...Cool stuff!   All I did was go to, and searched for any tweets that referred to ncties by searching with "#ncties"

Here are some highlights:

Great Resource for Going Global With Elementary Kids

plugusin: Still my favorite find from yesterday's #ncties session is this site sharing strange maps:

melissathibault: RT @kellyhines: #ncties Copyright free music to use in your classroom, correlated to NCSCOS

jordanpgarrett: RT @drjohnhadley: RT @kellyhines: RT @deenawarwick @jdornberg: hope you'll look at my wiki
 for interactive math websites #ncties #edm310

misstizzy: Check today's #ncties update on the wiki pics included.

Leslie Fisher's Favorite Web 2.0 Websites

The following are some of the web 2.0 tools that Leslie Fisher highlighted in her talk at NC Ties...I took these notes live so they are a bit stream of consciousness :)

If used effectively is a great tool
Need to have two twitter accounts--one professional, one as a teacher.


Some ideas:

Twitter feed going to a website...just for sports scores for example/ could put on front page of your website
with a widget

Teachers could have a homework twitter feed by using a # mark at the end of each tweet, and then searching for those tweets; for example students could all tweet the answers to a question posted by the teacher and typing something like #tjms at the end of their tweet
Create a profile widget
search widget
select "profle widget"
put in your profile name
will give you the code to put in the webpage
you can then customize it

Tweetdeck is Free..
allows you to customize your columns (maybe 5 favorite friends)

Hash tag ncties--see all the tweets from just nctries


Can now choose who sees your posts!  Parents who think they are seeing all their children's "stuff" no longer true!---People can lead a double life

Google calendar ROCKS

can make several different calendars
Could use it for meeting rooms,  can setup with user groups
can embed on a webpage too

Google Maps:

for events--Leslie showed us fire tracking in CA
can save on your google account

Google Web Forms

Through google docs
Create new form
choose theme
Ask a Question...  ( ) the link last forever

paste in any long url and shorten

creates a spreadsheet of the responses along with charts

You can embed into a webpage

You can get a email response

Used for book reports to send into teachers...


took pictures of her cooking instructions from her frozen dinners and uploaded to evernote

can make the folder public

Google wave:

dubbed as the facebook and twitter killer (not so much at this point)

Designed so that you can "ride the wave of information"...can add people to the wave as you go
You can share all kinds of apps
Problem is.... it is really "sloppy looking"
it's too convoluted
People are not feeling the love for it...


Allows simaltaneous chatting
good news--cool product
import /export a doc
saves revisions
time slider--will play through the pad as it was developed and save it at any point...

Google bought it...may integrate into google wave

for 15 users and under...

Google "sites"  have taken an interesting turn

They have templates,  new page automaticall adds to a page on the side

Google voice:  you are given a phone number

set up phone and gives you voicemail and sms

Set up a friends group and can set certain phone to ring

generates a text of voice mail messages

completely free

add yourself to the beta version

is an 800 phone number  pay for in lists of things to do

list of lists they need to make

listen to voice, and


photo sharing site (pay for)
there is a shopping cart for downlaoding prints
They have a non-profit and get a reduced account.
Allows you to stream a live on-line

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Teacher Morale

I am going to deviate from my usual "Tech Tips" to discuss an issue about which I feel strongly.  "Teacher morale" came up as an item agenda at our School Improvement Team meeting yesterday, and the minute I saw it, I thought to myself "OH NO,  here we go again!"

I have sat on our school improvement team (SIT) longer than anyone else at my school because as the full-time technology facilitator, I am a sitting SIT member.  As a result, I have served on SIT for 11 years now.  At this stage in my career, I am getting to the point where I have "seen it all before":  "teacher morale, should homework not turned in be marked as zeroes?; Should students be allowed to wear flip flops?; a variety of discipline issues, gum chewing, students using cell phones", etc, etc...  After so many years, these "critical issues" start to blurr into one murky memory.  I often say to myself: "Come on people, it's just Middle School!"

Anyway, Teacher morale has come up on several occassions in the past, so I know for certain that this is not a new issue.  Sure, there are differences in administation & faculty, but overall the same types of concerns rear their ugly head from time to time.  What's in the background of this current malaise?  It is afterall the middle of winter, and it has been a long one for us in the South East; we may have post holiday/winter blahs.  In addition, we are just starting to see the light at the end of the tunnell of a severe recession.  So, there is definitely context for this current feeling of unease. 

And by the way, defines morale as "the state of the spirits of a person or group as exhibited by confidence, cheerfulness, discipline, and willingness to perform assigned tasks."

As a professional and a teacher, I love the fact that our job is one of the few where we still have a degree of autonomy.  I personally don't feel like I need anyone to tell me what to do. I need guidance now and again, but I pretty much know what I am supposed to do, and I do it.  I also don't feel like I need recognition.  It's just not in my nature.  So for me, my spirits are kept high by the good feelings I get from doing my job well, and the occassional positive feedback I receive from helping students/teachers.  If you want recognition and feedback,  why not start a blog? A blog will immediately make you feel recognized and you will know that someone out there is listening!

So why the low morale mantra here?  Certainly there are "issues" at our school, but are they any worse than other schools?  I don't think so.  Part of the problem maybe the fact that teachers by their nature seem to enjoy complaining, and when several do this (mostly about small issues) simaltaneously, it becomes a trend and spreads like a virus.  These problems are not significant ones if all of us simply focused on the following:  look on the bright side, offer solutions instead of more problems, and stop whining...

Having said all that, I'm sure there are things we can do to improve the morale at our school.  Listening to one another and communicating more effectively might be a good start.  Recongnizing our accomplishements as Mr. Martin does in his blog each week is also helpful. And finally, I suggest sucking it up and being grateful for the wondeful school we have!

I recently read a blog about school leadership and encouraging morale at schools--It reviews three simple things that school leaders should keep in mind. And again, don't forget--we are the leaders! Don't wait for others to lead you. Be a leader yourself. If our principal has allowed you to be a leader, he  has given you a gift and not told you to be a sheep!

I think we all must step up to the leadership plate and take responsibility for perceived problems at our school. Another resource comes to mind.  it is a book called Learning By Heart, by Roland Barth, and it is about taking on shared leadership roles in a school.  It would definitely be worth a read especially for those who don't naturally view themselves as potential leaders in the school..  Here is a review of it.

One last thing...We all should put "the situation" at our school in perspective.  Everything is relative. People in the corporate world are really hurting right now.  I have a friend who works for a large corporation in Charlotte and his main job lately has been to make lists of people to lay-off. He just had to put a friend/neighbor on one of those lists because that employee had received a B- on a recent evaluation. The guy had never received a poor rating before in his career, and yet he is being laid off... Imagine the morale in an organization like that...?  Be thankful, be positive, and push out the negativity!

Survey Monkey

This year, TJMS used an on-line survey tool called Survey Monkey ( ) to poll our students about bullying.  We used a professional version which allowed us to survey up to 1000 students.  After the survey was completed, we downgraded to the free version.  The professional version was approximately $20 per month.  The free version comes with the following features:

The Basic subscription is completely free!  I signed up for a generic one called tjmswsnc, and you are welcome to try it.  If you would like to try and log-in under that account, e-mail me and I will send you the password.  Otherwise, it's very easy to sign-up for your own account!

Your surveys don't expire if you choose to never upgrade. They don't delete surveys or responses if you choose to stay as Basic.  You can create and administer as many surveys as you want for as long as you want! They are stored indefinitely.

Features of the Basic/Free subscription:

Allows up to 10 questions per survey
*100 responses per survey (Upgrade to Pro in order to view additional responses.)
Choose from 15 available question types
Collect responses via weblink
Collect responses via email
View live results as they are recorded
Supports any language, including Unicode
Survey completion progress bar
Automatic numbering for pages/questions
15 pre-built survey themes
Validate/require survey responses
Randomize/sort answer choices
Up to 3 Collectors per survey
Create unlimited number of surveys
Accessible and 508 compliant and certified surveys

The professional version comes with the following packages:

They offer the following subscription packages for Professional accounts:

Pro Monthly: $19.95 (month to month) x 1000 free responses every monthly billing cycle. Responses over the 1000 are charged $.05 every cycle.
Pro Quarterly: $59.85 (covers 3 months) x 1000 free responses every monthly billing cycle. Responses over the 1000 are charged $.05 every cycle.
Unlimited Annual: $200 (covers 12 months) x unlimited survey responses at no additional charge.

Have fun with some surveys!  You could do survey's/quizzes for students too!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Movie Clips On-line

I came across the following site (on twitter) for showing clips from movies.  There are so many good clips available on this site-- clips that you probably won't find on You tube:

I set up an account for TJMS:  user name:  tjmswsnc,  password:  3500sallykirk

Here's a review of the site:

Hula is another site but hulu is more geared toward TV show clips:

Watch and Embed documentaries for free...

Alert Now Message Playback

Have you ever received one of those Alert Now Phone calls but got interrupted or accidentally hung up on it? If you still want to hear it, now you have a place to go on-line and listen to it.

Go to one of the links below, put in the phone number that you received the Alert Now call, and it should generate a list of phone messages that were sent out during the last 15 days.

Here is the direct link to the Alert now message replay site:

Otherwise, if you don't remember that website, you can go to the WS/FCS website, ( and click on the alert now message replay picture.

Or, on our TJMS website ( there is a link at the top left that says "Alert Now Phone calls"...

Hope this resource is helpful to you!