Tomorrow June 23, 2017, I will be retiring from my position as my district’s Computer Technology Integrator. It has been a good run. I intend to keep curating educational websites and I will continue with my blog. For the time being, I am going to recommend both Soundtrap and Stop Motion Animator. Soundtrap appears to be much like Apple’s Garage Band. I haven’t had a lot of time to play on this site but it looks like a great way for students to create their own music for videos, and podcasts, etc. It is not free but it is somewhat less expensive than WeVideo and I think we have proven the value of that could-based software. As with WeVideo, Soundtrap can be used on Chromebooks. Stop Motion Animator is a Chrome Extension for creating animations using a webcam. I know some teachers have been experimenting with stop motion videos. This looks like it simplifies the process. So that is all for now, but, as I have said, I will continue to post on this blog. A number of teachers in the district have asked me to continue sending my postings of suggested apps, software, and extensions, etc. If you would like to be notified of future posts, click on the “Subscribe by Email” at the bottom of the blog post. You can also follow me on Twitter. Thank you for all of those who have worked with me over the past years. I hope I have helped you see the value of using technology to enhance and redefine how we teach. I have never felt that we should use technology for its own sake. It’s a tool that allows us to do things we couldn’t do before. It’s also an integral part of life in the 21st Century. We need to help our students to use technology wisely and effectively to enhance their lives and lifelong learning. It has been a privilege to work for the Governor Wentworth Regional School District.
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I have been thinking about the implications of VR (virtual reality) in education. I purchased an inexpensive VR 3D viewer and downloaded the free Google Cardboard Camera for my phone. I have made some very interesting and effective 360 images that are quite realistic when experienced through the viewer. Although I have had fun with VR on this level, I wasn’t quite sure how I would use this technology in the classroom. I also downloaded some VR apps on my phone that allow me to explore the human mind, visit historical Egypt, and “invade” the human cell. I suspect this is just the beginning. Recently I came across “15 Fantastic Virtual Reality in Education Resources” from ClassTech Tips. This site links to some interesting 360-degree videos such as a tour of the Tour of London and a realistic experience on Mt. Everest. These are worth checking out and as I said, this is probably just the beginning. We have yet another way that technology can redefine how we teach, learn and experience images and video.
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All of the links on my integration site are public, but some districts don’t allow outside sharing or email. Unfortunately, it is not possible for me to respond to share requests from teachers who work in such districts. I find this to be counter-productive in a world where one of the essential premises behind technology integration in education is communication and sharing. In any case, I apologize on my end, for not being able to respond.
Before I recommend the following sites I want to respond to some of my followers who have attempted to access some of the links on my technology integration site. All of the links are public but some schools don’t allow outside sharing or email so it is not possible for me to respond to share requests from such districts. I find this to be counter-productive in a world where one of the essential premises behind technology integration in education is communication and sharing. In any case, I apologize from my end, for not being able to respond.
Since our district has been using Google Apps for Education for a number of years and since we are approaching 1:1 using Google Chromebooks, we are always looking for applications that can be used online. We have had a lot of success using the paid version of WeVideo. This Video creation tool is based on the traditional timeline concept of video editing. Stupeflix somewhat simplifies the process. Much like WeVideo, you can add video clips, images, text, maps, transitions, and a soundtrack. Stupeflix then creates a “ready to share” video for you. You don’t have all of the features of an editing suite but Stupeflix is still a very effective storytelling tool. The final version can be downloaded and uploaded to Google Drive. Sutori can be used collaboratively to create stories. You can add text, images, video, audio, forums, and quizzes. The product can be shared via email, or embedded into a website. Storybird is a great site for making book-like stories. You can actually pay a nominal fee to have the stories published as hardcover or softcover books. A story can be shared via email, with Google Classroom or with a link. All of these cloud-based sites are examples of how technology can transform education and allow us to do things that were not possible in the past.
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The Educator’s Guide to Copyright, Fair Use, Creative Commons by Sue Waters and Ronnie Burt is a very comprehensive guide to what resources may be legally used in all types of publications. I have shared information on copyright and creative commons in the past but this post is particularly succinct and easy to understand.
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The new version of Google Sites is ready to use. You can continue to use the classic Google Sites. The instructions for the classic version. How to access the new version. How to use the new version. How to incorporate an old version site into a new version site is promised for the near future. The new version looks much more user friendly than the classic version.
I will be at the Christa McAuliffe Technology Conference on November 30 and December 1. I will be conducting a workshop on Creative Commons on Wednesday and a workshop on Video Making in the Cloud on Thursday.
Recently I came across an article in a blog post by Larry Cuban in “Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice”. He had the opportunity to observe a 7th-grade teacher, John DiCosmo, as he conducted a class on John Steinbeck’s “The Pearl”. John began the class by using a back channel called Padlet. He elicited responses from his students to the following questions: “What would you do if you found a treasure of millions, in cash, free and clear? How would your life change?” A back channel is net-worked or online chat software that allows participants in a classroom or workshop to carry on a secondary chat exchange while the primary instructor conducts the discussion. In this case, the students respond to the question anonymously as a stimulus for conversation. The question is a very appropriate way to start talking about the “The Pearl” as the novella is about the ramifications of the discovery of a potentially very valuable pearl. The student posts can be projected on a white board or smart board. They can also be mirrored onto a TV using a tool such as Apple TV. This article is about a 7th-grade classroom but the back channel technique could be used on other levels as well. Padlet allows the student to write a response and they can drag in images, videos, and other files. Mr. DiCosmo also created a video book trailer using fellow staff members to play the primary characters from the book. What a fun way to show the students what would be expected when they make their own book trailers!
Other back channel possibilities are Twitter, TodaysMeet, and Socrative. I have used TodaysMeet in a number of workshops both as a participant and as an instructor. It is very easy to use. Whichever software you choose, back channels are a great way to elicit real-time responses from your students. It can be particularly effective with students who might be reticent to speak in class
Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice
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Sometime I run into an article that says what’s on my mind better than I could ever say it. “10 Essential Characteristic of a 21st Century Educator” is just such an article. I especially like George Couros’ observation that “It is not technology that has the biggest influence on what we do; it is the speed of change being thrust upon us.” Mr Couros, the author of “The Innovator’s Mindset” goes on to list ten characteristics that he considers crucial for 21st Century educators. They are relationship builder, learner, inclusive, reflective, networked, innovator, leader, storyteller, designer, artist. “10 Essential Characteristics of a 21st Century Educator” This article is worth reading. Definitely food for thought.
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These are the 2016 International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards. The older standards included ways that students could demonstrate how they could use technology. The new standards recognize that technology has revolutionized how we acquire, process and communicate knowledge. Specifically, they reflect how technology can empower learning, the acquisition of knowledge, innovation, the thinking process, communication and collaboration. Technology is redefining how we learn, what we learn and how we use what we learn. The new standards reflect the reality that the digital age has truly provided us with the means to do things we couldn’t do before. Along with the power of digital tools comes the responsibility to critically evaluate data as well as to use it effectively and conscientiously. While our students may be digital natives, most have not learned how to really use technology to empower their learning and their ability to communicate and collaborate. The new standards recognize the need to help our students reach their greatest potential given the truly awesome tools available to all of us.
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My first novel is about a mountain lion in northern New Hampshire that kills other animals and some people. I chose a Catamount because they are very effective stalkers and they were, at one time, indigenous to New England. There are many who claim that these magnificent animals are still around. Until I saw this blog post by Bill Gates, I never really considered that a mountain lion would actually be quite far down on the list of dangerous killers. Hmm! I wonder if one of my next novels will have to be titled “Mosquitos, A North Country Thriller”. Check out Mr. Gate’s post. It is eye opening. “Why I’d Rather Cuddle with a Shark than a Kissing Bug” By Bill Gates
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Every once and awhile, I run into a site that really blows me away. Maptia is one such site. The Photography and the stories are outstanding. Anyone can add their own. This free site could be used to inspire our students to do just that. You simply add your text and your images and then publish. The site is easy to use, but the potential for creativity is unlimited. I could spend the day just exploring the existing stories. This is an excellent example of what one can accomplish with digital media.
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