Wednesday, December 26, 2012

From Bethlehem With Love

Photo by Megan Black
I am visiting family in Christmas City, USA; AKA Bethlehem, PA. Can't make it back to Detroit due to the blizzard headed directly across I-80. Ah well, another day of snacking, napping, watching movies, hanging with the dogs, and eating cookies. Rats.

Before we left on break I learned about Knowmia via Tweets from a variety of cutting edge, Ed Tech pioneers. Knowmia is free. It requires registration on their website which is a quick and painless process. 

Knowmia is another app in the vein of Khan Academy. In other words, you use drawing tools, annotate, and import images on a virtual white board to explain concepts and step by step processes.  Like Explain Everything, Show Me, and Educations, Knowmia allows you to record your voice as you draw or annotate. You can upload your lessons to a lesson bank online, for free and student scan access those lessons for free. Unlike the others, in Knowmia you can also include video explanations and video clips. There are more tools available in Knowmia than the competition. Additionally  I find the interface easier to navigate and use. 

The iPad screenshots of Knowmia on the iTunes store just happen to contain a similar concept as one my brilliant colleague, Michelle Roberts, did in her Science Class. Michelle had students create presentations, old school, in a software program using the tools to create atom models and show the electron exchange that takes place between elements. Michelle's lesson was successful, fun, and memorable. Knowmia wouldn't make it better but  it would allow the students to record their explanations and provide their final product with a greater audience. They could also do it anytime, anywhere they had their iPad.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Words fail. Our hearts break for the community of Sandy Hook. I pray for healing, realizing some wounds can never heal. I cope by preparing, acknowledging many things are beyond our control. 

Disaster Caster  is a free App that will blast out a  a 911 call and pre-programmed plan to family members, faculty, whoever you assign in the event of an emergency.

Remind 101 or  are both free text blasting services schools and other organizations can use to set up groups to blast text messages. Messages can be sent from a cell phone or a computer. 

Pocket First Aid and CPR  is made by the Red Cross and will give detailed instructions on how to help deal with medical emergencies. 

Psycological First Aid  This is an app for First Responders to help following shortly after a traumatic event.

PTSD Coach  This app provides users with help and information to support others coping after traumatic tradegies

I learned of this article from Richard Byrne. It is well worth the read and full of useful security and preparedness information.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Tech Zero?

Photo by: Megan Black
It surprises most folks but I am not a tech junkie. I am lucky that way. It isn't difficult for me to set limits because more than anything, I jones for balance. Nature, and a long hot bath, are my tickets to peace. Having said that, technology often leads me to new ways to look at the natural world. New ways to hope when I despair.  Stories to remind me why we are here and how we can serve each other and this astonishing world we were given.

And so I would like to share two non-tech, but innovative, 21st century thinking, inspiring, media centric, super cool things I came across over the weekend. The first is the 20 Best Mobile Apps by John Spencer of ReThink Education. John is the latest gem collected in my Personal Learning Treasure. I spent a good hour and a half pouring over his eloquent and relevant blog. I feel the message below is crucial in today's world.

The video I embedded below was shared via Facebook with me from my dear friend, singer songwriter Chris McCall.  I found the story incredibly inspiring and it shows the kind of thinking that is needed in our world today. Please enjoy and like them on Facebook to help provide future funding for Landfill Harmonic.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Marygrove Treasure Trove
Two weeks ago Marygrove College hosted a webinar, Ten Common Technology Challenges for Teachers with Richard Bryne of Free Technology for Teachers. The webinar was free to the public but unfortunately it was also scheduled right at the end of the school day so many were unable to attend, including myself. Luckily, they posted that webinar online. When I went to retrieve it and share it with my staff, I discovered they have all kinds of goodies online.

Some of their offerings include: Step by Step Downloadable Guides, Best Practices, Webinars, and Teacher Talk PodCasts from experts in Education. Please check out Marygrove's Free Resources Page. 

To view Richard's Presentation Ten Common Technology Challenges see the embedded video below. This is also a link to the video if you do not have time currently and would like to bookmark it for later. The webinar is about an hour long and worth its weight in gold. 
Ten Common Technology Challenges for Teachers10 Common Challanges Edit rev1 from Marygrove College on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Read, Write, Think Apps
Read, Write, Think part of Thinkfinity has long been one of the best interactive literacy websites on the Internet. They are now matching their excellence in the iPad app world. Recently, they developed Word Mover. Word Mover is a free app where you can create your own found poetry. It works in much the same way as the poetry magnets of old but what makes it extra groovy is the backgrounds you can import and the fact that you can use word banks from famous works. For Example, you can take Martin Luther King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech and create your own poems with his eloquent words. Word Mover also allows students to add their own words to the bank. It can also be used as a story starter and personally speaking, it works well to free up writer's block.
Another admirable app developed by Thinkfinity is Trading Cards. Trading Cards can be an effective teaching tool in every core subject. Students can create trading cards for vocabulary, biographies, fictional characters, objects, concepts, historical events, genres, or really anything they can imagine. Thinkfinity provides students with guiding questions to help them create more dynamic profiles for the cards. Students then can collect and trade cards on a topic. The educational uses of this app are endless and cross many grade levels. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Pauper in a Palace

Earlier this week I gave a presentation to my faculty where I granted them permission to lurk. My principal thought that was scandalous. Not really, but he did find it amusing. The thing is though that most teachers are great thieves and even better hoarders.  I find I am always on the look out for a great idea I can beg, borrow, or steal.

I want to contribute to the feast but often feel like I am the last one to arrive and I brought the Lima beans.  No one wants to feel like a mooch. Least of all teachers who have willingly chosen to live in abject poverty, labor long hours, and put up with precious few who truly understand how hard they work all for the sake of their "kids."

So, sometimes we need someone else to say, "Its okay! Eat up! Just be sure to thank the host by name." And pay it forward when you are able. 

Having said that, this blog is a remix of two tasty leftovers from some fine Ed Tech dining I enjoyed last week. I would like to thank Richard Byrne author of Free Technology for Teachers who has fed me great resources and ideas or the past four years. This is the latest version of his best tech resources. These resources are a mix of Web 2.0 tools, sites, cloud based tools, and apps.

I also want to thank Shelly Terrell of the fantastic blog Teacher Reboot Camp for this wonderful slide share of paired iPad activities. 

Both Shelly and Richard are constant sources of learning and inspiration for me and I highly recommend adding their blogs to your following. You will be well nourished for years to come.