Tuesday, October 25, 2011

More QR Codes in Science

Our Physics teachers are using QR Codes with their students in a couple of ways that are pretty useful.  First, they are using the QR Code to take the students to a "Friday Picture of the Week."  This is a picture of some physics object that the students have either learned about or will learn about.  Students are encouraged to submit photos that they find throughout their work.

Second, the teachers use QR Codes for the students to reference online assessments using the online source, Quizstar.  The students can use their phones, laptops, or other device to take these assessments.  The QR Code allows the students to avoid typing in long URLs.  These Quizstar formative assessments then provide the teachers with data about the students and their knowledge of the subject.

The last way that the teachers are using QR Codes is on a calendar that is on a bulletin board outside their classroom.  It has QR Codes that relate to the day's activities.  Some codes are for Quizstar assessments, some are for videos (that are hosted on their class webpage), and some are for pdf files that the students may need.  This makes it very easy for a student to find out what happened in class on a day they were absent.

QR Codes are starting to pop up everywhere.  How creative can you get?  Incorporate them into your classroom.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Must Read for Teacher Leaders

If you work as a school leader, there is a new book that can really shed light on digital technology and social media.  What School Leaders Need to Know About Digital Technologies and Social Media, edited by Scott McLeod and Chris Lehmann, brings together the thoughts of many leaders in educational technology.  There are many chapters dedicated to different topics that teachers and leaders need to know about and start to utilize with their students.  Each chapter gives some background information, then delves into some practical application of that topic, giving examples of how each is used in schools.

The chapters range from basic blogging and wikis to digital video, from virtual classrooms to one-on-one computing, from social bookmarking to Twitter, and much, much more.  These chapters are written by some of my favorite educational technology "teachers."  I am constantly learning from many of the people that contributed to this book, like:
Vicki Davis
Steve Dembo
Wesley Fryer
Will Richardson
Karl Fisch
Chris Lehmann
Dean Shareski
Richard Byrne
Miguel Guhlin
Alec Couros
Kevin Jarrett
Kim Cofino
David Jakes
Liz Kolb
Jeff Utecht
Ewan McIntosh

Check out the book, as well as the many resources it shares.  There is definitely much to be learned from it.  Every staff should have access to it.  It is a quick read, but will provide thorough materials for the topics that you would like to investigate further.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

QR Code Bulletin Board

Our World Languages Department decided to incorporate QR Codes into their bulletin board.  They surveyed their teachers and each submitted their favorite music videos from different countries.  Then, they prepared a page on each artist (or group).  So each page contains the name of the artist, the title of the song, a brief description, and a QR Code to the Youtube video of that song.  Students and staff can use their QR readers to access that song.  Pretty Cool.  The photos below are from the whole bulletin board and one of the pages.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Glogster Instead of Posters!

If you are like me, you are tired of those "same old posters."  Students print pictures, cut them out, and paste them on poster board.  Or they make the "tri-fold presentation board" with printed material and pictures from the web.  Why not make something interactive and colorful?

Glogster allows the user to add pictures, video, audio, links, etc.  It is colorful, interactive, and fun.  A teacher can collect these online posters from students and share them with the class and parents.  Wow!  And we didn't have to buy paper, glue, toner, etc.  With these glogs, students can link to the websites where the material is found, making it easy for the reader to obtain more information, if interested.  These glogs are shareable and embeddable.  They've made it very easy.

Glogster also has a teacher friendly account.  Glogster.edu makes it easy for teachers to share their online posters.  It allows for simple creation of collaborative class projects.

Check out my first glogster.  Literally done in less than one hour.  It contains links, video, and audio.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Annotation Tools in Preview

Preview on the mac has a tool menu that contains annotation tools.  These tools allow you to easily open any pdf file and "mark it up."  These tools are quick to use, giving you easy access to editing and emphasizing a document.  PDF files can be created from anything that is printable.  You  can save your work as a PDF, then display the PDF files on your board or screen with a projector.  Then, using their tools, you can edit, highlight changes or re-emphasize strong parts of the document.  There are many uses for this in the classroom.

Here are the tools:

Here is a tutorial video:

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Skype for Open House

Our Chinese teacher has to travel between all 3 of our high schools.  Unfortunately, two of the schools had Open House on the same night, so we had a problem.  She came to me and asked if we could Skype into the classroom to allow the parents to meet her and hear from her, since she would be physically unable to change buildings in the 10 minutes allotted.  I thought it would be a great idea.

We were able to set up the computers and allow the Skype to occur.  She was able to share part of her Keynote presentation as well as talk to the parents.  I believe that the parents were extremely happy to see her talk about Chinese, since I was going to be the alternative.  She left her materials with me, just in case of technical difficulties.  She utilizes many different forms of technology in her class, and this was a way to directly show the parents her command of Skype.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Magic Wand Scanner

Check out this scanner.  It is the Magic Wand Portable Scanner, from VuPoint.  It's a AA battery-powered wand scanner that stores the image on a mini-SD card.  Really, this scanner takes about 5 minutes to setup and with some practice allows you to digitize just about anything you can hold flat.  The wand is about 9 inches wide so it has the ability to scan a sheet of paper, making it easy to scan a student's work without having a flatbed scanner in the room.

Once the scan is complete (and you can store many scans on the same card without having to unload), you hook the scanner up to your computer.  It uses a standard USB cable, which is included.  Once plugged into my mac, iPhoto opened and the images were ready for uploading.  No software to install.  Easy!!!  We are hoping that this wand will make documenting student work a little more accessible and convenient.

We also hope that it will help organize paperwork around the house.  My wife can use it while traveling to organize receipts, so that will save us some follow-up work when she returns home.  Also, it will allow us to throw away papers that we can scan and keep digitally.  We'll let you know in a few months just how helpful this device is.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

3 Free iPad Drawing Apps

Here are three drawing apps for the iPad.  They seem to be pretty good for kids to be able to produce work.  Thanks to Shannon Miller for mentioning these.  There are different features available for each program.  These product are free and can be used by students of all ages.  They can play and create.  Check them out.

Crayola's ColorStudio HD - You can make pages using animations, clip art, and free writing.  Work can be saved or shared via email.  The user can also save a picture of their page with a screen-capture.  

Doodle Buddy for iPad -  You can create pages of artwork.  Doodle, stamp, add sounds and pictures to create you work.  Share your work via e-mail or save a picture with a screen-capture.

SketchBook Express - A high-quality tool for creating art.  Use tools to create pencil, pen, or brush marks.  You can also use shapes to create lines, circles, squares, etc.  You can even use layers to add depth to your creations.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

10 iPad Apps Every Teacher Needs

9.99 (4.99 for schools buying at Volume Pricing)
Pages is a word-processing application.  It is designed to allow the user to edit, create, and view documents.  The documents can easily be shared via e-mail, or iTunes.  You can add photos and graphs to your word-processing and you can also utilize some standard templates to create new documents.  Pages is a necessity for the iPad user.

9.99 (4.99 for schools buying at Volume Pricing)
Keynote is a presentation application.  It is designed to allow the user to edit, create, view, and share presentations.  Like pages, Keynote presentations can be shared easily via e-mail or iTunes.  Photos, graphs, charts, and other media can be added to your presentations.  It is an outstanding application for the iPad.


9.99 (4.99 for schools buying at Volume Pricing)
Numbers is a spreadsheet application.  It is designed to allow the user to edit, create, and view spreadsheets.  It is easily share via e-mail and iTunes.  Data entry and chart creation are nicely accessible in the iPad app, making the Numbers app quite helpful to teachers that utilize spreadsheets.

9.99 (4.99 for schools buying at Volume Pricing)
Air Display is an application that allows the iPad to take control of the users computer.  The display of the iPad mirrors the display of the other computer.  The user then utilizes the computers software and documents to perform tasks.  Teachers with LCD projectors on their computers can get the iPad to perform like a Interactive White Board if their computer has software that allows writing.  See information by Wesley Fryer with regards to that process.


Dropbox is a free online storage application.  It is a site that installs on iPads, iPods, iPhones, and computers so the user can store files and have access to them no matter where they are.  Sign up for your free account at dropbox.com and get your friends to sign up as well.  Them more people you get to sign up, the more free storage space you get.


Evernote is an outstanding note-taking and idea-organizing application.  It can be used on an iPad or computer with an account that syncs the information between the locations.  It is easy to record audio, take photos, and write notes that can be organized into topic notebooks.  Your account will even give you and email address to e-mail notes into Evernote.  

Google Search makes searching the internet extremely easy, by saving you keystrokes.  Google Search utilizes Google's searching capabilities - like Voice Search (speak into the phone or iPad and it translates and starts the search), Google Goggles (searches using photo recognition - take a picture and it tries to find it), and it also uses your location to find information that is in your vicinity.  This is an outstanding application.

Dragon Dictation is a voice-to-text translator.  This application records your speech and translates it into text with outstanding accuracy.  The text can then be sent to others by text message, e-mail, and cut to your clipboard.  Dragon Dictation also connects easily to social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

Show Me is a screencasting application.

Screen Chomp is a screencasting application.

Here are 10 applications that your iPad would love to have.  The applications will help you be productive and efficient.  As you can see, I like "Free" and feel like there is so much out there to help you do good work.  Here are some.  Send me your others.

Honorable Mention
Scan - A QR Code Reader
Dictionary.com - A Dictionary and Thesaurus look up.
Keynote Remote - Allows you to control your Keynote Presentations from your iPad.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Flipped Classroom

This past year, I heard a lot about flipping a classroom.  We had some teachers in our school who were flipping their instruction.  It has become a fairly common practice from what I am seeing.  What is flipping?  Having the students receive instruction at home, via podcast or screencast, and then spending class time working, with teacher support, on problems and applications regarding the instruction.  At BLC11 this past week, I was lucky to see some of very good presentations that involved flipping instruction.  The presentations mentioned a couple of great points to why you would flip instruction as well as what you need to do to make that happen.

First off, I would like to thank the speakers that I saw - Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams (from Colorado) and Garth Holman and Mike Pennington (from Ohio).  These guys have worked together in their preparation of lessons to share with students.  I am finding that the effectiveness of this type of instruction can be greatly influenced by two people providing the instruction by asking questions and explaining the concepts.  Bergmann and Sams have a ning that they share some of their information - Flipped Class.  Holman and Pennington have just started using flipped instruction and are planning on doing more of it this year.  They have a website called TeachersForTomorrow.Net.  The feedback they received from students was outstanding.

There are many reasons why flipped instruction can be very successful.  First off, the students can work through applications and problems with the teacher in the room for support.  The teacher takes on more of a "coach" role, as the students work together to solve problems that would have been difficult to solve on their own at home.  Flipping also allows the students to view the instruction at their own pace.  They can pause videos, rewind to see again, and watch multiple times, if necessary.  And another good reason is that when a student is absent, their instruction is available at a later date.  These reasons make the idea of flipping the instruction quite helpful.

What do the teachers have to do to flip instruction?  Many teachers record their teaching with video.  They can record with their SmartBoards, or set up a video camera in their classroom and record their instruction.  Some use tablet computers to record their voice and writing, then create a video with editing software.  This process is called screencasting.  Others use webcams and create interview shows with other teachers, recording their explanations of concepts with their computers.  There are many ways to record your instruction so that it can be shared with your students.

My hope is that as more and more people will flip their instruction, then more and more lessons will get shared.  There are many awesome teachers that have excellent ways to teach concepts and that students could benefit greatly from being able to see those recordings.  Give flipping a try.  Record your instruction, let the kids see it ahead of time, and enjoy the time working with kids on new problems that they can solve and work through with you in the room with them.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Connecting with Good People

Below are some people you might want to follow on Twitter.  I had the opportunity to see and hear these people talk at BLC11 in Boston.  They spoke on various topics regarding education and technology.  They are:

Garth Holman - @garthholman - online textbook and collaborating from a distance - blog
Mike Pennington - @professormike1 - online textbook and collaborating from a distance - blog
Jon Bergmann - @jonbergmann - flipped classrooms - ning
Aaron Sams - @chemicalsams - flipped classrooms- ning
Chris Bell - @cbell619 - google docs for collaboration - web info
Marco Torres - @torres21 - using technology to engage students - web info
Jeff Utecht - @jutecht - using QR codes in schools - blog
Angela Maiers - @angelamaiers - social networking and web 3.0 - web info
Rob Evans - dealing with change in schools - web info
Kathy Cassidy - @kathycassidy - digital portfolios - blog
Seth Bowers - @sethbowers - student tools for collaboration - blog

If you get a chance, read the material these people write about or see them in the future.  They have good insights into helping students succeed.  Their ideas are good and materials are helpful.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Screen Chomp

Screen Chomp is a new piece of free software that is out for the iPad.  TechSmith Corp has developed this software to help make it very easy to capture work off of an iPad.  You can record writing and audio to create videos of your work, creating a screencast of what was happening.  Screencasting is an outstanding way to create tutorials for sharing what you learn and know.  

Using Screen Chomp, you have the ability to change text color, display photos that are on your iPad, and easily save the video.  It also has the ability to send directly to Facebook.  It is a new piece of software and the developers are looking for feedback.  Students have found this software easy to use to demonstrate what they know - allowing them to share with other students.  

Monday, July 18, 2011

ShowMe App

A few of our teachers at school are going to use iPads in class.  They are going to use the iPads to control their LCD projectors and whiteboards.  I will write about that process as it unfolds, but today I want to share with you an app that I just found and have been playing with.  It is the the app called ShowMe.  It is an app that allows the iPad user to write on the iPad and record what is written, as well as any audio that you provide while working.

On the left-hand side of the page, you can see that you have a pencil tool, an erase tool, a clear-screen tool, and a picture insertion tool.  You can choose pencil colors.  And at the bottom of the page is a record button, so you can record what is written on the page.  It also records the audio so you can describe what is taking place.  This is outstanding for recording tutorial work.  It would also be an excellent way for students to demonstrate their understanding.  They can do the work and explain as they go.  You can save the recording for sharing later with other students.

Once you record your video, you can upload it to ShowMe's website.  You will be given the choice of making it public or private.  If private, you'll be able to share it with a link.  If public, anyone on the ShowMe website would be able to search and find it.

You can title the video, provide a description, and also keyword tag it for future reference.

As you can see here, you can share it on facebook, twitter, or email.  I think that this application may prove helpful and easy-to-use for teachers to create tutorials for their students.  Give it a try.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Building a Master Schedule

We just finished building our master schedule.  It is quite a process, and one that if completed conscientiously, can make a big difference as to how many students can really get the classes they want and need.  Usually, this process is done with a month or so of school to go, so that schedule conflicts can be worked out.  This year, due to budget issues - which led to staffing issues, we were put on hold.  We have never built a schedule this late.

We use a process that was developed by Pearson.  They run workshops to train school administration and support groups how to build schedules so that a maximum number of students can schedule with no conflicts.  We have 1200 or so students, so conflicts will be an issue, especially when you offer IB and AP courses.  It is a fun "puzzle" to put together.  We use scheduling boards and scheduling chips to help with the process.  You can see them below.

For the past couple of years, we have been fortunate enough to use a computer program to help us with this process.  A teacher from a neighboring school district developed his Schedule Builder program, and it has cut more than a day's worth of time off the process.  I would like to say thanks to Jake Tawney.  If you would like to see his product, contact him.  It is really easy to use and saves a lot of tedious work.  Thanks, Jake.  This program is worth every penny.

I am glad that I am part of the process.  It is a challenge that really adds to the school year, but people don't realize what goes on.  If you get a chance to work with your administrative team on building a master schedule, you should try it.  Our team consisted of principals, guidance staff, special education staff, science department members (room issues abound in the science department), IB coordinator, and others.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dublin Tech Camp 2011

Almost 100 teachers gave up two days of summer vacation to come to Tech Camp 2011.  My technology colleagues and I had the opportunity to work with teachers on various topics and activities.  The morning was filled with presentations, and the afternoon provided time for teachers to work together in small groups on different projects of their own interest.  I was privileged to be able to present on two great topics.

I worked with Beth Politz and Joanna Doyle to present on Synchronous Communications - Skype, iChat, and Elluminate.  All 3 are available for teachers to use from school.  We showed teachers how these programs worked and gave them ideas of how each could be used with their students.

The other sessions I presented were on Web 2.0 Tools for Teachers.  I got to present this twice, and both times the turnout was wonderful.  Teachers were eager to hear about Twitter, Google Apps, Blogger, Flickr, Shelfari, and other free online applications.  I have posted this presentation here  - http://scottsibberson.blogspot.com/p/presentation.html.  You can view the presentation here, as well as other resources that were used.

Thanks to all teachers that showed the interest to attend.  Keep working and "playing".  It doesn't come easy.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Where have I been for months?  What a busy spring!  Plus, I've been playing with a new iPad.  We'll save that post for a later date.  WOW - it may be a game-changer.  But let's get back to today's topic - iChromy.  iChromy is available at the iTunes Store.

iChromy is a web browser application created by Diigo for the iPad.  It's free and easy to use and there are a couple of features that are outstanding.

First, the ability to forward a webpage to your others accounts is quite easy to setup and easy to execute.  iChromy will attach to your Twitter, Facebook, Diigo, Google Reader, and more.  It will also allow your to sent the URL via e-mail to others.  I find this very helpful as I am gathering resources to share with other people.  To have all of my account just one click away is extremely helpful.

The other feature that I find helpful, is the feature of saving a website for later reading - offline.  There is a "glasses" button that allows you to save a website.  You can then access the information from that website at a later time, even if you are not connected to the web.  This is quite helpful if you are going to be in a car or on a plane, where internet access is limited.  You can load up some of those articles you want to read for a later time, then just delete them when you are done.

I would recommend that you try iChromy.  You will find it easy to use and quite a nice time saver.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

More than Bracketology

NCAA Tournament brackets are everywhere.  It seems like everyone is doing it.  Some play for money, some play for fun, some play for personal pride.  I love that Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic bet on one sheet they call the "Sheet of Integrity."  I have found less desire to fill out many brackets (even though I have run many in the past) and more desire to try just one and compare with friends, just for bragging rights.  I just love this time of year for college basketball how teams play when they get to their conference tournaments, with the possibility of making the NCAA Tournament.  I can't turn it off.  I call it research....

By research, I really mean research.  My real contest this time of year combines the excitement of the March Madness Bracket and fantasy sports.  My friends and I get together and conduct a fantasy draft of players involved in the NCAA Tournament (one of our players is connecting by Skype, due to the fact that he is out of town).  We draft 10 players for our individual teams.  The team that scores the most total points in the tournament wins.  We use Googe Docs to share the results - the spreadsheet is there for people to keep up with scoring throughout the tournament.  Yes, it is quite competitive.  And there is a lot of smack talk, but, my team involves a lot of research and data collection.

Data?  Yes, data.  I have compiled a list of over 150 players that will be involved in the "big dance."  I have also collected the stats involving their points per game average.  Spreadsheets (thanks Google Docs) involving that data and also the anticipation of how many games they will play.  This is where the bracket comes into play.  You have to be able to predict a team's success, to be able to select their players for your team.  So you crunch numbers to establish a draft order for the big night.  Do you take high-scoring players in a few games, or a medium-scoring player in a lot of games?  That is where different people take risks.  I tend to side with players that play a lot of games.

What data is most important?  Some select by taking players from their favorite teams.  Some select from the teams that they feel will advance the farthest.  Some select from teams that are hot, while I try to take the scientific direction.  What players score big on teams that will play the most games.  I hope that my buddies don't pick all of my top players.  I try not to deviate, but draft trends sometimes cause me to leave my sheet, just so I don't get blocked out of teams that I want to cheer for.  I love my local Buckeyes, and always cheer for the Tarheels.  The key players for our competition often come from the Cinderella teams that advance when unsuspected.  Last year, Butler and Gordon Hayward took me deep into the Tournament.

So, do you pick players that score a ton? Or, do you take players that should play a lot of games?  That is what makes our draft fun and competitive.  There is so much more you can do than just fill out a bracket.  I will spend a lot of time over the next day or two making some decisions in establishing my draft order.  I hope I don't choose players that end up on an upset team or a player that is on the injured list (did that a couple of years ago - oooops!).  I know it will be fun, interesting, and keep us interested in the whole tournament, even if the teams we cheer for are ousted.  Have fun with your bracket.  I will.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Dublin Literacy Conference

Last Saturday was the Dublin Literacy Conference.  Around 600 teachers from Ohio and the neighboring states came to Dublin, Ohio to learn about literacy and hear speakers cover different topics related to literacy.  I have been involved in the conference for many years, providing technology support for the presenters.  It has been a very rewarding experience, allowing me to meet many wonderful people and hear many moving speeches.  This year was no different.  Actually, this may be one of the best conferences in many years.

One thing that was different this year, for me, was that I was one of the presenters.  I was given the opportunity to share information about Web 2.0 Tools for Teachers.  My presentation focused on tools that teachers could use personally to build their professional learning network.  I shared information about Twitter, Google Applications, Flickr, Diigo, Shelfari, and Blogspot - or at least that was my plan.  I was able to share quite a bit about Twitter and Google, but found myself time-restricted in the introduction of the other topics.  I figured that was what would happen.

I have arranged my blog to include pages that would allow the attendees to go back to my blog and see my presentation, a slide share, as well as other Web 2.0 Resources, which contain Diigo bookmarks that update whenever I add new bookmarks.  Teachers seemed to be receptive to the information, even if they were not current users.  I tried to give examples of how they could use these tools, both personally and with students.  Check out the slideshow and links.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Poll Everywhere - Data Collection

I recently signed up for an account with Poll Everywhere, so I could see if it provided data feedback that could be easily accessed and set up.  I am going to give it a try with a poll at a presentation I am conducting this weekend.  Poll Everywhere is easy to setup, and provides the audience with three ways to send in their response.  Audience members can send their choice by text message, by tweeting to an account, or by accessing a website.  Because of it's flexibility, it should be easy and convenient for audience members to find a way to reply to the questions.

Poll Everywhere compiles the data live, so you can see the responses come in.  You can do multiple choice questions, T/F questions, or open-ended questions.  With upgrades to your account, you can even mediate the responses before they are displayed on the screen.  I think it will be interesting to see which online tools my attendees use most frequently - it will allow me to adjust how much time I spend on each tool.  It would be a nice way for teachers to obtain data from students, to help guide where more instruction is needed.

Poll Everywhere also provides educators with extra benefits, as well as discounted pay accounts.  They have K-12 accounts, Higher Ed accounts, as well as whole-school and district accounts.  Each provides added controls and features, but I am trying the free teacher account.  I can poll 32 people (which should more than cover my session - unless people read this and come see how it goes).

I'll write back later to share my thoughts and results.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

EDUCON 2.3 - A Couple Days Removed

I can't believe the weekend is over.  Luckily, we had great flights to and from Philadelphia.  Some of our friends didn't and had to spend nights and days in layovers and cancelled flights just to get there or get back home.  I do feel lucky about our travel.  I had so looked forward to the conference, because I had heard so many great things.  I knew a lot of people that would be there (because Twitter makes you feel like you are their friends), and had read a lot about past conferences.  I was ready.

After the first couple sessions, I was blown away.  Here we are at sessions, hoping to learn a few things about different topics, and we are right in the middle of conversations with people about the topics.  This conference wasn't like most.  We were there to have conversations, to share ideas, not only with the presenters, but also with the people sitting around us.  It was incredible.  The audience was filled with so many smart and insightful people, all willing to share their experiences and ideas.  All thinking about ways to improve the experiences of students - and not focusing on test scores.  Innovation - how can we do things differently to create outstanding, authentic learning experiences for our students?  How can we help students become passionate about their futures?  How do we create an environment in which students can fail, then learn from their experiences, so they can react to new situations and find success?

Sessions were held that covered many topics, presented by outstanding educators.  Discussions between outstanding educators and non-educators provided insights as to how we can alter what we do to help all students succeed.  We need to work to create environments where we can model skills that students need, providing mentorships and connections that will provide them support into the future.  Helping make connections was one of the many thoughts I came away with.  How do we make connections with people to help support growth?

Making connections was one of the things that I found so energizing about EDUCON.  I was able to re-connect with some people that I had previously met.  I had the opportunity to meet people that have influenced my growth over the past year.  I was able to meet them face-to-face, rather than just communicating through Twitter and email.  I think those contacts are so helpful.  I was also able to make a couple new friends.  Technology will allow us to continue to communicate easily.  It is amazing how easy sharing thoughts and experiences is now that Twitter and blogging have become so popular.  I hope that I can convince my colleagues of the importance of connecting with people in their areas of interest, learning and sharing with people with common goals and hopes.  We need to support each other and grow together as we try to help our schools become better places for learning.

I'd like to give a special thanks to some of the people that I met and learned from.  Theses are truly amazing people.  You should follow them, to see for yourself.

Dean Shareski (@shareski)  http://ideasandthoughts.org/
Alec Couros (@courosa)  http://educationaltechnology.ca/couros/
George Couros (@gcouros)  http://georgecouros.ca/blog/
Patrick Larkin (@bhsprincipal)  http://www.burlingtonhigh.blogspot.com/
Chuck Poole (@cpoole27)  http://www.throughourwindowroom101.blogspot.com/
Chris Craft (@crafty184)  http://www.crucialthought.com/
Michael Wacker (@mwacker)  http://mwacker.blogspot.com/
Troy Hicks (@hickstro)  http://hickstro.org/
Sara Beauchamp-Hicks (@yoopertechgeek)  http://hickstro.org/cccl/
Bill Fitgerald (@funnymonkey)  http://funnymonkey.com/
Rodd Lucier (@thecleversheep)  http://www.thecleversheep.com/
Leslie Davison (@lesliedavison)
Cindy Minnich (@CBethM)

These people, along with many others, shared of their time and knowledge so that many others can grow and learn.  It is truly fantastic that all of you are willing to give so much back to the profession.  Chris Lehmann and the students of Philadelphia's Science Leadership Academy should be so proud of the event they put together last weekend.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Readability - Make Web Pages Easier to Read

Ever go to a web page that is so cluttered you can hardly read the text?  Here is a tool for you.  You can easily install it into you Firefox, Safari, or Chrome browser to help make the webpage cleaner to read or print.  The company, Arc90, put it together so you could simplify what you were reading.  It is a nice tool, one that students might find helpful when doing research.  Watch the tutorial below, it is really simple. This link will take you to their website where you can set your preferences and install Readability.

Readability - Installation Video for Firefox, Safari & Chrome from Arc90 on Vimeo.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Tagxedo - Word Cloud Made Easy

You see word clouds all over the place.  Wordle does an excellent job of creating word clouds, but I was introduced to another site that made it so easy.

Tagxedo took the words from my blog and enclosed them in the shape that I could choose, a speech bubble.  You can easily modify the colors, theme, fonts, orientation, and layout.  There are many choices for shapes, and you have the ability to save into different sizes and formats.  I would recommend this site for easy creation of a cloud that you could use to illustrate your point.

The thing I found quite helpful was that you could bring the words in from a website, a blog, a twitter account, a delicious account, etc.  You can also cut and paste your text from other sources as well.  Give it a try.  I think it is an awesome way to illustrate frequently used and key words from your writing.  Once you submit your words for processing, you will soon see the shape you asked for.  All of the characteristics of the shape are then modifiable, so you can make it look the way you want.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

EDUCON - Almost Here

A week from now, I'll be in Philadelphia.  EDUCON 2.3 will be taking place at the Science Leadership Academy.  It will be a wonderful opportunity to learn from and meet some of the very people that I follow on Twitter.  I will have the chance to spend a couple of days in sessions covering a variety of topics.  I think I'll get to see:

Chris Craft and Michael Wacker talk about online professional development.  It will be interesting to see how other districts are using online PD as we are developing some for ourselves.

Troy Hicks and Christina Cantrill talk about digital writing.  I am interested in hearing Troy Hicks speak and getting the opportunity to meet him.  I will also get to hear him in February at the Dublin Literacy Conference.

Chris Lehmann, principal at SLA, is speaking about how we can take the learning that occurs at EDUCON back to our districts and continue to work on the topics we have heard about.  How do we keep contact with those we learn from and support each other moving forward.

Karl Fisch is part of a panel discussion about the questions - Can Schools Support Student Innovation?  His blog, The Fischbowl,  is one that I read frequently.

Dean Shareski and Darren Kuropatwa are talking about teaching visual literacy and using youtube.  They will be very interesting.  I met Dean at BLC10 this past summer, so it will be interesting to see him again.  I enjoy reading his posts and hearing about what he is doing.  Both of these guys are people I follow on Twitter and read their blogs.

As you can see, there is a wealth of knowledge attending ECUCON, and I believe it will be an outstanding weekend to learn and develop more relationships.  I think more people should attend these types of workshops.  I will keep you posted as to how it goes and what I find out.  Follow me on twitter, @ssibberson,  or follow the hashtag #EDUCON.  It will be interesting and thought-provoking, I am sure.