Monday, March 25, 2013

Digital Storytelling Resources

As we strive to find new ways to engage students, one technique that really seems to work is the idea of using digital storytelling.  While the definition of digital storytelling may differ according to the person and purpose of which you are speaking, it is essential the modern expression of the ancient art of storytelling that  has been taking places in cultures throughout history.  According to Leslie Rule at the Digital Storytelling Association,
"Digital Storytelling is the modern expression of the ancient art of storytelling. Throughout history, storytelling has been used to share knowledge, wisdom, and values. Stories have taken many different forms. Stories have been adapted to each successive medium that has emerged, from the circle of the campfire to the silver screen, and now the computer screen."
 Digital storytelling can take place in many classrooms and at various age levels. In addition, the use of digital storytelling hits many of the Technology Targets!  YEA!  Below you will find some really great resources for learning about digital storytelling, exploring some online resources and staying within copyright, fair use and intellectual property laws.  As always, you Technology Integrators would love to collaborate on any projects you are ready to try.  Let us know!

Wesley Fryer's Digital Storytelling Wiki
The Art of Telling Digital Stories by Bernajean Porter
50 Ways to Tell a Story - Story Tools
David Jakes Digital Storytelling Collection
Kathy Schrock's Guide to Digital Storytelling


Friday, March 22, 2013

Instant Google Street View

Going to an unknown location is often a little unsettling.  Uncertainty of finding the location, the parking, business of the location, are always in my head.  Sometimes I know I have been there but just cannot quite picture the location in my mind.  Enter Instant Google Street View!  This resource instantly searches an address or location and shows you the street view of that location.  It actually starts searching location as you type things in.
While I have to admit, as silly as it sounds, the first address I tried was my own.  And why do we do that?  It is not like I don't know what my house looks like!  Anyway, after having a good gander at my house and musing about how I wish I would have seen the Google car go by taking the photos, I moved on to more interesting places like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France and The White House.  Interestingly, the White House does not bring up a street view of the building but an interior tour.  I am sure that is done for security reasons, but I got to thinking about all the locations that a teacher could type in to help students gain a frame of reference for a specific unit of study.  Some ideas for the use of Instant Google Street View were:
  • Historical locations 
  • field trip locations (Capitol building in Madison was great)
  • National Parks (Not always a street view but very cool!)
  • A unique house for a descriptive paragraph or story starter
  • Vacation destinations

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Google Lit Trips

A really fantastic literacy idea that any teacher could make use of is a Google Lit Trip. Google Lit Trips are free files that you can download that work with Google Earth.  The file will mark the events of literature by using the Google Earth location or setting that the book characters progress through over the period of the story.  It gives the reader extra resources, insight and experiences as they read the story   The Google Lit trip is a project that is supported by Google but remains free.  The intention of the resource is for students or readers of all ages to really get excited about reading and add a dimension through critical thought to their reading experience.  There are resources for educator from kindergarten to higher Education supported through Google Lit Trips.  You can explore literature from classics such as Make Way for Ducking to The Grapes of Wrath.  Current titles such as Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech or Are We There Yet ? by Alison Lester are also available.  This is such a great resource!
Check out Google Lit Trips at:


Gone Google

Every now and then you get to searching for something and end up finding a gen of a resource that you really like but did not necessarily set out to find.  That was the case today when I sat down to look over some blogs I had tagged to read later.  Through a series of clicks through resources, I found the site Gone Google - Lessons and Ideas for 21st Century Learning.  It is a site created by a Google Certified teacher and as the title indicates, it is built as a resource for teachers that are entering into the Google Apps world to make use of to get ideas.  Each of the lesson ideas are developed and grouped by subject.  Currently you will find Art, Language Arts, Science and Social Studies ideas.  Some of the links were permission based but others were open so don't get frustrated.  If you see one you like that you don't have permission to see, you might try to email the owner and see if they will add your email and open it to you.  Most people are willing to share!  Check out this resource today! RY

Monday, March 18, 2013

Coffee Time Expertise

A great friend of mine from Tennessee, Tim Childers, started a series of YouTube videos to help teachers learn new tools.  I check back into them especially when he reminds me about them on Twitter or Facebook.  I thought I would share his video series as they are just that good!  The name he has selected for this series is CoffeeTimeEdu. Tim is quite the coffee drinker himself, checking into a coffee shop at least daily, but as the title suggests, the videos are brief enough to watch while you enjoy your morning coffee.
I thought I would share his YouTube channel and point out a few videos that might pertain to some of the work we have going on in our district.  I especially enjoyed the review of the app Ask3 here.

Also of interest might be a CoffeeTime video on Zite.  I posted about Zite a few weeks back and this video about using Zite is really good.  Enjoy it below.

Finally, check out the many other videos Tim has posted on a variety of apps, web resources and if nothing else... enjoy listening to Tim's TN accent!  Leave Tim a message after viewing the videos and tell him Rachel sent you! RY

Friday, March 8, 2013

Images for Classroom Use

The use of images for the classroom is an often discussed topic as there is so much mis-information about what can and cannot be used.  The great thing is that I have been noticing more and more sites like, Pixabay, an online resource of public domain images.  The term public domain means it is a resource that is not subject to copyright.  Often public domain classification is given to something that has had an expiration of  it's copyright but it can even indicate that it is a work that was never protected by copyright in the first place. Either way it means this is media that you are free to use.  The site, Pixabay seeks to support creativity by collecting free, high-quality images that are in the category of public domain.
A sample image from Pixabay
I searched some of the different resources that are available on this site and was pleasantly surprised by the quantity of images per search.  I would caution that this is NOT a site built for children and there are NO guarantees for what a search might come up with. If you were requiring students to find images, I always recommend providing a resource build for kids as provided on our district Library Resources Pages   However, for your own classroom and personal use, these images are fantastic! RY

Google Docs in the Classroom and Common Core

More and more as I research and prepare for our school distric't use of Google Apps for Education, I am coming across posts that individual teachers write about their experiences using Google Docs in a variety of classroom settings.  Caitlin Tucker, an 9th and 10th  grade Honors English teacher from California, recently published a blog post about her experience using Google Docs with her students in the process of a formal essay assignment   She outlines the process really well in her blog complete with YouTube video of her screen cast  while she was editing with her students to demonstrate the rich, in-depth conversations she had (digitally) while supporting her students in the writing process.  She emphasizes in the blog that this was a lesson completely aligned with Common Core Standards and one that she would not have easily, efficiently or masterfully met without this process:
"I asked students to use the instant chat feature on their document to send me questions or comments as they worked. It was ironic how much individual feedback I was able to give in 90 minutes with 30+ students working quietly at their computers.I successfully edited every paper shared with me 2 times before the final draft was submitted. For those concerned about addressing the Common Core Standard that requires students “develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach,” this is a wonderful way to support students in this process. You are also using “technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others,” which is another writing standard!"
 I encourage you to read her post, Synchronous Editing with Google Docs to Teach the Common Core, about this and get excited about the use of Google Docs in the classroom! RY

Parents and Technology

One of the blog resources I often read and enjoy the variety of articles from is a blog called, Blogging About the Web 2.0 Connected Classroom.  This blog is an educational technology blog that is often one I have pop in in the Zite App mentioned in an earlier post, but also one that I follow through Google Reader. In the March 6th post titled:  Using Technology in the Classroom?  Keep Parents in Mind, Steven Anderson, the North Carolina author of this blog discusses the topic of including parents in the ways in which we use technology int he classroom.  He ends the blog with this question:  "What are you doing to help parents understand how technology works in your classroom?"  I challenge you to think about the same.  I encourage you to read this blog post here, consider answering the question in a comment on his blog, and perhaps think about how you can include parents in the great ways you are using technology in the classroom. RY

Monday, March 4, 2013

PE Geek

Sometimes you come across a new blogger that is unique.  In using the app Zite, which I blogged about recently,  I stumbled on a post from the PE Geek blog entitled Top Apps for PE Teachers.  Although the post about great apps for use in PE is interesting, I really liked the blog itself.  I think PE teachers would really enjoy this blog and find that the author, Jarrod Robbo, a PE teacher from Australia has quite a pAssion for mobile learning.  He makes a convincing argument for mobile learning in the pE classes as a way to bring technology into the PE classroom which is often far away from the walls of a gymnasium and wireless access.  Check out this blog, he has some great posts! RY

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Workshop Ideas for Technology Integration

Edutopia has several different areas that I find myself going back to for information and ideas.  This article was recently posted a few years ago, but it was republished and demonstrates the lasting power of some of the technology tools mentioned within.  The focus of this article is technology integration in a workshop model and then the article is broken down into several activities.  Digital Storytelling, Digital Citizenship, Checking for Understanding, and Creating Screencasts.  Many of the tools that I have worked with such as: Storybird, Common Sense Media, Socrative, and Screencast-o-Matic.  Enjoy some of the ideas in this resource from Edutopia. RY

Zite App

One of the sources for finding new blogs and interesting articles is the app Zite.  It is a subscription service or an aggregator of different articles that you find interesting.  This particular App is one that gets better and better as you use it.  If builds a personal digital magazine of news, articles, blogs and media.  Zite brings all the information into one location and you page through it clicking on articles that you find interesting.  If you come across an article that is not at all something you want to see more of, swipe downward on the thumbnail view or click the thumbs-down icon, and Zite will remove things with that tag from your filter.  However as you read and like an article, by swiping up or clicking a thumbs-up icon, it promises more articles like the one you are viewing.
I find Zite to be helpful in keeping up with new trends in technology, trending news and interesting ideas.  When I find something I really want to share with someone else, Zite offers many ways to share information with others such as attaching it to a Tweet, Sharing on Facebook or simply emailing it out. Zite is also a resource for finding and adding new bloggers to my Google Reader feeds.   Zite is a great companion to your morning cup of coffee. RY

Friday, March 1, 2013

Flying Over America

Flying Over America is a video of a 6-minute tour over America in a bi-plane.  Beautiful photography and a fantastic experience in which kids studying about our country could put a visual to many of the things they read and talk about in school.


Educational Video Sites

A fantastic resource for Educational videos, lessons and games for K-12 students is neok12.  This site organized by curricular topic is packed with resources and information.
A quick test of the topic Forces brought me to a shortened version of the Wikipedia articles on Types of Forces, Images from Flickr tagged under Creative Common Licensing, Quiz Games, Online Games and Puzzles and Videos.  While I would be careful of the images as they are taken from Flickr and not an entirely trusted site, the videos are all reviewed by K-12 teachers and ones that seems to be short in length, appealing and educationally correct.  The collection ends with related topics at the bottom of the page that I could really see students getting very excited about.  The website itself offers a ChildSafe Watchdog Guarantee and indicates that all lessons and videos have been screened for K-12 use. RY