Sunday, November 6, 2011

Blogging Around School

In the past couple of weeks, several teachers at my school have been blogging in different ways.  Some people still ask me..."what is a blog?":  Blog - Blog is short for web log.  Blogs usually include entries on personal observations, event descriptions, multimedia files, links or other material. Blog entries are typically displayed in reverse chronological order. Here's a link to Blogs in Plain English

Ms. Coston started her classes blogging using  Kid Blog is a blogging platform designed for teachers for use with k-12 students.  It is user friendly and students can utilize all the major components of traditional blogs like blogger, wordpress and other well known blog platforms, but in a safe and secure environment.  It also allows for adding pictures, multimedia files and even documents like word documents.

Ms. Coston's students wrote reflection essays about a trip they took to Castle McCulloch.  They first spent a day writing and editing on paper, and then came into the computer lab and learned a little bit about blogs and appropriate on-line netiquette and also the kidblog platform and then typed their blogs.  They also commented on other students' work.  Kid blog is a closed platform in the sense that students must log-in with their given user names and passwords to see each other's work.  It's not open to the "Public".  I helped Ms. Coston set up her classes using their first name and last initial for user name and student number for password.

Meanwhile, 7th grade science teachers had their students blog about "the most severe weather event they had ever experienced".  This too went very well.  Students actually typed up their thoughts on MS word to gain the advantage of spell check and grammar editing, and then copied and pasted their posts to the School Wires blog platform.  Students also read each other's work before posting, and I think that really helped avoid common mistakes in grammar and word usage.

In School Wires it's very easy to create a blog page.  There are a couple of video tutorials in School Wires Help:  Creating a blog page & and creating a blog post under Interactive video Tutorials.

But, basically, from your main site manager page,

  • Select NEW Page at the top
  • Choose Blog for the page type
  • Once your page is created,
  • click on your page, and click on "create a new posting" (this is where you can title the blog question that you pose to students, and then activate it on your page)
  • Then, under APP Options (upper right)
  • Choose the Social Settings tab, and
  • Be sure to check "allow commenting" and
  • Check to require comment approval
  • YOU DO NOT need to do anything under commenting rights :)
  • After comments are posted, you can review those comments from your main Site manager page--they will be linked on the right hand side.

Here are some of the Blog Postings from 7th grade science classes:

Here another blog I have run across recently at school:

7th Grade Book Talk Blogs

Finally, my twitter friend George Couros posted a blog this week about blogging in schools, and there were some good resources with suggestions for teachers thinking about blogging:  Check it out!

This lesson went into great detail about having students first write on paper and suggestions for training students on what makes a good blog comment:

Finally,  here's another video you might show to students about on-line "netiquette"  from Brain Pop:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Inserting a Picture to Power Point from a Smart Document Camera

I was working with a teacher this week who was creating photo-stories on Photo-Story 3, and was wanting an easy way to scan pictures that students were bringing in from home.  I suggested:  "Why not use Power Point with the document camera?"  Power Point has a built in photo-editor that is very easy to use, and pictures can then be saved as Jpeg's for easy use with other applications like Photo-Story.

Also, most of our teachers have SMART document camera's and these directions are specifically written for working with that camera:  Here goes: (Thanks to Evan Herreid from WS/FCS DOT for showing me this!)

Before you start, make sure document camera is on,  and "camera mode" is in green on the document camera (also make sure the document camera is directly connected via usb to the computer (not a dongle usb mini hub!)

1.  Open up Power Point

2.  From a blank power point slide, Click on insert image from scanner or camera

3.  Choose smart doc camera SDC 280 and take check OFF box that says add picture to clipart gallery, and Click on “custom Insert

4.  A window will pop up with document camera view, Choose play to display document camera view, adjust any focus or zoom, Then, Click on the stop button, then Click on Transfer.

5) What you “took a picture of” will transfer to power point slide, and then simply Click on picture, a picture editing tool bar will appear, and you can crop and edit as necessary.

Then, if you need to save the picture for inserting into other application, you can right click on the picture and save as a jpeg file!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Information and Technology Essential Standards

As part of our year long training on the new NC essential standards, technology facilitators and media coordinators attended training this week at Morgan Elementary School.  Marlo Gaddis from Technology and Jackie Pierson from Media Services headed up the training sessions, and overall it was a good opportunity for technology and Media to get together and share ideas and collaborate.

Here is a link to the Wiki with all the resources made available to us from the district:

The focus of our first meeting is on the two first standards:
  • Sources of information
  • Informational Text

The following are my notes (some stream of consciousness from the training session)

Jackie Pierson:  spoke about the beautiful Media Center at Morgan --take note of the layout:
Instructional area that you are in-- 
  • Plans for these schools were done in 2005, so already some things are out of date for today’s needs (electrical outlets are lacking for example)
  • Print and non print collaborate learning areas

Steven Anderson--Spoke about sources of information

“Google Search stories”  Google did several ( illustrate the power of search, kids are looking for lots of information and we need to help them figure out

Here are the new standards:


  • The technology strands of the SCOS show Blooms Taxonomy progression from classifying information to assessing and examining the  reliably and relevance to analyzing all of those pieces
  • The standards are the core of what the students need to be able TO DO at those grade levels
  • It’s progressing and the skills are building
  • We brain stormed a list of Print and non-print sources that we use and kids use everyday and the advantage and disadvantages of each:

  • Magazines/newspapers/books/old encyclopedias
  • Can be out of date/ information may change
  • Harder to access, more expensive
  • Controlled by commercial aspects, skewed view—Bias
  • Text books
  • Newsletters
  • Photos
  • Art work
Non Print:  electronic

  • Anything that can’t interact with on paper…(if original form is electronic than it is not print)
  • Actual People
  • Radio/TV (reliability concerns, bias)
  • Internet:  (could be print and non-print)
  • (Google, YouTube, Live binder, web path Express through destiny, netrekker, NCWISE owl)
  • Films (independent vs. non print)
  • Primary Resources:  Face to Face (possibly get more authentic information, also reliability biased concerns)
  • Half and half use of print and non print: 
  • E-readers (can be both)
  • Films reliability /commercial bias
  • Songs
  • Pod Caste
  • Google earth
  • Wikis
  • Blogs
  • Broadcast media
  • Email
  • Photos (both)
  • Maps
  • Letters (can be both)
  • Diaries (can be both)

Don’t get hung up on the semantics, the medium is the message.

Line between print and non-print is blurred. Students can get most of their information “on-line”, so Is content any less valuable if it’s found on-line?

What do we mean be transformational media?

Print: Advantages/disadvantages

  • Can be more copies accessible to students if technology access is limited
  • Professional has vetted the print resources?  (Not always the case though)
  • Portability—100%? (Access to everyone)
  • If you drop it, it’s wont break
  • More of a one time cost
  • Static and dated
  • Can be damaged or lost
  • Storage issues
Non-Print Resources:Advantages:
  • Current for non literate or different learning styles and multi-sensory learners
Disadvantages of Non Print
  • Requires energy or is that relevant?
  • Cost
  • Access
We are resource people (the explorers) not teaching the content help people there is not one delivery method for the information.

Where do you find resources?
  • We are discovering that some know of sources of information while  other do not
  • Consumer
  • Google and Wikipedia are excellent resources to find sources
  • Destiny 10 is coming out in December
  • destiny mobile quest coming with mobile access.
  • Webquest and nettreeker both inside destiny help students gleam information that is educationally focused (help them start here)
  • There are lots of Specialized resources in destiny: e.g. college bluebook
It's Critical that we all share and utilize PLC’s, online communities--
They do have an edmodo (  ) media group, and Marlo will send out a code

Primary Resources

Library of congress:  definition of primary resources.
Raw materials of history original documents and objects which were created at the time under study.
Primary sources maybe easiest to find for History.  Science, art and literature maybe more difficult?

We need to change the way we find information.

Central Question: Should we  encourage teachers/students to go back to the primary source vs. a secondary source or commentary?

Common Core is —Call to change, call to higher level thinking

Library of Congress Primary Sources by state:

Personal Speakers provide a special connection--with a primary source person (speaker) can really add to an experience (For example, we had three people in our workshop today who were at Martin Luther King's "I have a Dream Speech")  

The Medium:  Skype to get a connection—don’t forget to utilize technology department

Information is constantly changing—need to continuously explore these resources, have to get a head of teachers and be looking for what resources they might need.

District also has Databases (district pays for some)
Program managers in resource areas are also primary sources

Project for group:
Given a topic, find 6-8 resources
No more than four are web-based
3-4 primary
2-3 non print  (google doc with group searches)

Common craft—way we search the web:

Evaluation of resources  (.org, .gov and .edu,  do not though)

Reliability of sources:  Are they credible?
  • Wikipedia is always criticized, but it is not as bad as everyone says:
    • Community members have to be vetted and approved by communities otherwise there is a disclaimer, and can verify through the links on the bottom. 
    • It is citable.  It is organized and logical.  It is a springboard.

Marlo:  PM Session/Informational Tech:
Chore:  Getting teachers ready
Find, and write directions from media center  


  • Evacuation map
  • Ask for help
  • Different the second time:  walk back through
  • Landmarks are important

YouTube video on giving non-sense directions:

Informational Text:
  • Organizational aids: 
  • Graphical aids
  • Students many times don’t know how those features can be used on-line.
Group:  resources to evaluate for informational text?
  • Not easy to tell what certain things (like table of contents, etc)  are…if we as the information experts can’t tell, how can we expect students to be able with out come guidance
  • Do an activity like:  “A table of contents looks like this...”
  • A site map?
  • What makes sense logically to one webmaster, does not necessarily seem organized to others
  • Citation tools on websites?
  • Problems with digital resources that have no linear “end”
  • We still need to be teaching students strategies to help them navigate
ITES informational Text strand

  • 6th-12—teach them to read to learn (informational text) interpretation is written in the common core under English/Language Arts 
  • Why  do authors choose one type of instructional media over another?
  •  One medium may not be the  best way to convey different aspects of a subject 
  • Look at common core and see how a technology and information skill are embedded—has the potential to be a really cool time, though a scary time for those who don’t like change.

Getting teachers to evaluate resources—What we are doing today is a "think aloud”

It's 2014...What do our classes look like  now?

  • needs to be blended learning...
  • what if we reversed classroom/homework agendas?  
  • Maybe online class information used at school, and then at home students might read or do things that do not require "access"

Do take time to get to know elementary people, and communicate…

How do we share and help teachers and support them?
  • How do we support teachers in the classroom?
  • The sharing has been good,  Marlo— –some really great conversations, open attitudes. 
  • When we come together again in January, talking about technology as a tool, 

This is a process—this is the start of the change, opportunities will be coming.
What was shared at teacher training about technology skills?
Do we know?