Monday, October 25, 2010

100+ Google Tricks for Teachers

With the switch to Google Apps for Education this week, I would like to direct you to a fantastic article that gives some great ideas to teachers for using Google. The article suggests both personal productivity and classroom applications. Spend some time browsing the different applications and envision how you could apply the suggestions with the content you teach. Blogger, Google Sketch-Up, Google Fusion Tables, and Google Squared are some applications that I can see an immediate use for in several subjects. The productivity suggestions coordinate with the Google Apps classes I have going on right now! This is a great article to reference as you work on becoming a Google Ninja!

Click Here for the Full Article:  100+ Google Tricks for Teachers

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tech Visit: High Tech High

High Tech High, founded in 1999, is a charter school in San Diego, CA. We spent three days there attending a Fall Residency that introduced us to the philosophy and application of their cutting edge, project based learning (PBL) curriculum. I have to say, the energy we encountered in the student body was palpable. Students were engaged in all kinds of multimedia, hands-on tasks, with the ultimate goal being their specific classes project exhibition in the community. We witnessed everything from creating original artistic chairs, to building a hovercrafts, to designing and producing solar cell phone chargers for students in Kenya. The common elements we observed in every classroom were high levels of student engagement and learner choice, as well as student voice and products of the absolute highest quality.

The teachers at HTH work with an extremely diverse population, and the school boasts a college admittance rate of 100%. These students are prepared for the future workplace because they have the real world skills of problem solving, creativity and work-ethic. The technology in their school doesn't stand out because it is everywhere, threaded into every classroom, as needed. Students are proficient on all sorts of software, and can apply their skills in every situation. These teachers work very hard, creating original projects year after year, but they are rewarded by the products their students generate. The joy kids experience in learning is evident on their faces... truly inspiring. 

"It was amazing to see the quality of student work at High Tech High. Exhibitions of student work permeated every space of the school helping to create an atmosphere of creativity and innovation. I also loved the teacher culture of collegial conversations and collaboration."
-Ann Rai 

YouTube Video"After spending three days at the campuses of High Tech High I walked away impressed and ready to incorporate some of what I saw at the Upper School. The most overwhelming image that I left HTH with was the demonstration of student work. I am very interested in increasing the amount of student work that is on display at the Upper School. Not just art and photography, but any visual representations of what our kids are learning. I was also very impressed with the idea of Presentations of Learning or Exhibitions of Learning. I think that the opportunity to bring in parents and other community members to listen to our students describe what they have been working on in school is a powerful idea. Our students work very hard at what they do and increasing the audience with whom they share that work would be of great benefit. Seeing how integrated technology was into the students' repertoire of skills was very impressive. While computers were all around, it was the student’s ability to use different software/programs to express their knowledge that I found fascinating."
-Chris Ashbrook

For examples of student projects created at High Tech High follow this link: High Tech High Projects

Tech Visit: The Nueva School

Nestled in the suburbs of the Bay Area lies a school committed to expanding the minds of gifted and talented children. Whether they are building forts, projects or opinions, The Nueva School is focused on students gaining a deeper understanding of the world and human experience, while allowing for high levels of learner choice and expression. They have a one-to-one laptop program, with Apple MacBooks issued to each student in grades 6-8. We went there with the purpose of looking at the integration of technology, but we came away with some other very important ideas about differentiation and educating the whole child:

"I think we learned from Nueva that there are very clear procedures and practices for teaching students how to use and care for their laptops. I particularly noted a sense of student pride and engagement with the laptops. I was told by students that the laptops "keep me organized", "make my work seem more important", and "help me stay focused in class." I think all of these comments point out some of the reasons this could be a good tool for middle school students... Nueva convinced me that our students would benefit from a one-to-one laptop program.

-Bunny Hill

"At the beautiful Nueva school, nestled in the California Hills, I was inspired by the student voices and choices so evident in each of the classes we observed. It was fascinating to learn about how the design process was integrated across the curriculum and in their Innovation Lab. Our hosts were very gracious and the school felt like a very gentle place to learn and grow.” 

-Ann Rai

Overall, the time spent visiting Nueva gave us confidence that our ideas about integrating technology at WCS are right on! We are moving in a direction which will enrich the classroom environment, enable the students to be extremely creative, and globalize their understanding of human experience.

Visit the Nueva website for more information about their very unique school: The Nueva School

iPod & iPad Apps for Special Needs

iPod touch Apps & Accessories

Great Glogster Poster for Educators

I can't claim to have made this poster, but I have to say it is a GREAT way to spend some of your time thinking about education and where were going as a profession and society. I snagged this off my Twitter feed this morning from one of my PLN favorites, Steven W. Anderson (@web20classroom). TED is a very forward thinking organization that focuses on the advancment of technology in our society. As their logo states, they are committed to "Ideas Worth Sharing" and post their talks online at the following link: TED.  Their philosophy is obviously connected to the education world in which we live and work. Enjoy... and pace yourself as some of these are longer than others!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Blog Spotlight: Byrdseed Gifted

Becky O'Hearn discovered the blog Byrdseed Gifted this week while doing some research for Bunny Hill on teaching the gifted and talented. After exploring the site, I realized it was full of wonderful resources for teaching our students. The following link takes you to an element of the site I found particularly useful: The Differentiator. This tool incorporates Blooms Taxonomy and elements of Depth and Complexity and Content Imperatives to help the teacher generate differentiation objectives for a lesson. You simply use the tabs and click on the activity you want the students to complete. You will see the objective begin to grow at the top. Click on the next tabs to complete your developing objective.

This is another portion of the site I see as extremely helpful for the classroom teacher interested in using differentiation strategies: The Extend-a-Menu. For a small annual fee of $20, you can create and edit Tic-Tac-Toe activity sheets specific to your content area with a simple click! Small price to pay for a time saver like this!

Have fun exploring this site, Byrdseed Gifted. If you sign up for email updates you will get a free PDF entitled Improve Your Gifted Classroom: 7 Ways In 7 Days which also has some great ideas for your classroom.

When you have a minute, click the following link!

By Jill Gordon

A non-profit dedicated to bringing "Ideas Worth Sharing" to the world, TED offers some of the best and brightest sharing their perspectives on technology, entertainment, and design. Many of those who speak at TED discuss topics relevant to education. The following talks include thoughts on creativity, play, technology, the future of entire countries through their children, projects to nurture learning in at-risk students, and much more. Educators from all backgrounds will find something of value from these incredible TED talks.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Wow... What a Resource!

Ok guys... This is a great website for teachers looking for specific Web 2.0 projects for their content area. Just click the link at the bottom of the post, select "Links", click your content area and grade level on the left, and browse the resources the site provides. Awesome... if you ask me! AND fellow iPhone fanatics, the following video demonstrates an app you can download (for FREE) that helps you organize your finds on the go. I simply love sites like this! There are also some great instructional videos on how to use specific sites on the "eduTecherTV" button. Have fun discovering new things on a very well done website for teachers!

-Laura Cusick

Click Here to Explore EduTecher!