Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Evernote, Webclipping and the iPad (with a small rant at Gale while I'm at it)

As part of the WWII  iPad project I've been blogging about, I decided to try to go totally iPad for research, etc. 

Traditionally, I've had students use Evernote for managing their info, but it doesn't play well with the iPad for collecting sources.  Specifically, there's no iPad Safari webclipper.  You have to grab a screen shot or copy the text, close out of Safari, open Evernote and paste.  How clunky is that?  Especially since it's been a couple of years, more than enough time to tackle a better solution (though there are rumors the new version will deal with this).

In the meantime, I found a work around online.  It's a bit time consuming, but works.

I'm also looking at PaperHelper, which gives your iPad a split screen--one for the web, one for taking notes.  But you DO have to "take notes"--no web clipping,  but it does include a  button to help keep track of your sources.

Finally, may I have a bit of a rant at Gale here? I like their "Access My School" app; more importantly, my students in CT liked it, too.  Unfortunately, even though I spend FAR more money on databases now that I'm overseas again (as do most international libraries), Gale hasn't made this app available for their international customers, even though overseas schools tend to have fewer physical resources, and make a heavier use of their digital offerings.  Get with the program, Gale!

Monday, October 29, 2012

The iPad Trials, ctd

We've set up a wiki.  If you are interested in participating and/or doing something similar in your school, please contact me.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The iPad Trials: Measuring Student Learning

WAB is starting an initiative to measure both the ins and outs of adopting iPads, and whether (and how much)  they actually impact student learning.

We're a 1:1 (Macbook Pro) school, and have all kinds of questions about the implications of switching devices, or even going 2:1.  Is it possible/desirable to change?  Can iPads really do all that a computer can?  For a device that's all about personalizing, are carts a feasible option? Or does that erode the usefulness factor?   To what extent is learning impacted by the "Wow" factor?  Will that wear off with time?  The list goes on!

We're wondering if anyone else out there has engaged in similar studies, or would like to collaborate in this one?  What data are you gathering and how?  E-mail me or comment below, with contact details, if you're interested!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Resources for Data-Driven Studies

I'm part of a pretty cool student initiative our school is doing in cooperation with a well known maker of mobile devices.  I'm also part of a personal learning cohort at school on data-driven teaching.

It seemed like a natural opportunity to combine the two, and we're going to turn this into a formal study to measure student learning, look at whether the devices are "just" for creation, or whether they actually improve outcomes, etc.

As part of this--since none of us are Ph.D's--we are all a bit at a loss for how to design the study, formulate questionnaires, etc.  Enter the librarian!

I'm putting together a Scoop.it  of resources, and sharing the info for any of you who might be interested.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Interactive Primary Sources--iBooks download

I re-worked the Real History, primary source iBook.  Rather than waiting until it is re-approved in Bookstore, you can download it from my dropbox.  Feel free to share and use with your students.

Of course, I finished it the day before the new version of iBooks Author came out, with new widgets. I guess I'll use that for future books!

I do have problems getting my dropbox links to work, so let me know if you have trouble downloading it.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Manage Your Digital Footprint (Repost)

It's always worth repeating, so here's a repost from information I posted to our library blog today. We gave a presentation to our grade 11's on digital footprints, and I had the "management" section.  The post was just a reminder of the links and why it's important to use them!

It’s NEVER too early to start managing your digital footprint.  Colleges and future employers will certainly Google your name to see what you’ve been up to.  You want them to find a productive, creative online life–not the embarrassing photo from that last party you went to!
Of course, the first step towards a positive footprint is doing your best to control what goes online in the first place.  Do you really need to post that party photo?  Or make that stupid comment on Facebook?   And, really, who needs 593 friends on Facebook?  The more you control who you friend, the more you control what’s out there.
While good common sense is always your best tool, there are some other tools you should be aware of, too.

Google Alerts:  Search your name and have the results reported to your email anytime a new reference to your name shows up online. (click on photos to enlarge them.)

SocioClean checks your online accounts (Facebook, Twitter, etc) and gives you a “grade” based on the appropriateness of  your wall posts, images, groups, etc.  It looks for inappropriate comments and flags them for you. It also looks at your friends comments:  You are who you hang out with!  You can focus in on wall posts, photos, groups, and see exactly what is being flagged and why. While you can’t change anything, it does help raise your awareness of problem areas, so you can start “cleaning up” your act!  It’s in beta, so once you sign up, you’ll have to wait a day or two for the invitation.

Remember, if  friends repeatedly post offensive comments on their status updates that show up on your wall, you don’t have to unfriend them.  Just choose “Hide.”  They won’t show up on your wall, but you can still go to your friends’ wall to keep in touch.  And they’ll never know!

Vizibility goes a step further.  It does a Google search of your name, based on a variety of terms you choose,  returns the results and allows you to delete unwanted items and highlight others.  Once you’ve created the online profile you want, it creates a personal “Search Me” link you can add to your college applications or job resumes.  While this doesn’t remove anything you don’t like from Google, it does help to ensure that people see the good stuff first.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Top Sites for Interactives

Once I figured out that you can add "interactive" to any search and then find--surprise!--a bunch of interactives (sometimes these things take me far too long to think up!), my pathfinders became a lot more fun, and teachers are delighted with the results, often using the interactives in class.  Here's a list of some of my favorite collections.

NOVA Interactives:   Crosscurricular
Annenberg:  Some are pretty lame, but some, like the great Amusement Park Physics are classics.
Shodor.org:  A great collection of math interactives.
Council on Foreign Relations:  Some amazing guides on Global Warming, Iran and more.
The Guardian:  My favorite British newspaper offers a collection on everything from the Euro crisis to Jimmy Savile (whoever that is!)
Science Channel
MOMA  (They actually have a LOT more than this!  Just Google MOMA and interactive. I wish they'd put them all on one page!)
Discovery Channel
PBS Learning Media

Designing Infographics: The Handout

 I created this using easel.ly.  Pretty easy, but also limited in some ways. I know it's in beta; I'm hoping they'll add a lot more icons and graphics, and make their arrows, etc with vector controls, so the user can bend them as needed.  The ability to group items, rather than just lock them would also be good!

I'm putting together a presentation to go along with this.  I'll post when it's done.  You can check my Delicious feed on the side there, to see everything I was reading.  Here's the link.

I'll be working with science students doing research on obituaries for demographic studies.  The teacher originally planned for them to write a paper.  This is so much better! 

Infographics title=

Find the rubric here, other tools here,

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Dean Shareski: Battle of Words (LiveBLog)

The ways we talk about learning:

RIGOR: (from dictionary.com)

[rig-er]  noun
1. strictness, severity, or harshness, as in dealing with people.
2.the full or extreme severity of laws, rules, etc.
3.severity of living conditions; hardship; austerity: the rigor of wartime existence.
4.a severe or harsh act, circumstance, etc.
5.scrupulous or inflexible accuracy or adherence: the logical rigor of mathematics.
Are these really the kind of learning we want with students?

LOL--"I'm a funeral director, and I don't like that word either." From a board member.

PLAY:    New Culture of learning

Everything is changing.  Allowing teachers to "play" with new technologies and ideas.  Administrator didn't like word play. Used exploration, but does't capture serendipity and joy of "play."

When talking about education, ask people to be clear about what they mean.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Digital Disruption: Funky Tools for Information Literacy

And I mean 'funky' in a good way!  In their own words, Digital Disruption  is a "free online resource that equips educators with cutting edge teaching tools.  Led by young people and designed with education, research and media professionals, each tool is designed to improve your student’s ability to critically evaluate information they encounter online."

The site provides lesson plans with accompanying videos, games and activities all centered around different aspects of information literacy, from propaganda techniques to verifying a source.

The videos are really fun (see one below), with the lessons appropriate for grades 7-10.

Easy MARC Records

Our primary librarian just showed me a great tool for generating MARC records, even for non-English texts:  Chopac.org.

On the home page, click Amazon functions>Amazon to MARC conversions, then enter your ISBN or title. You can preview the record, download it, or save it to add other titles before downloading them all.

How cool is that?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Cool iPhoto Tips

I attended a workshop on iBooks Author yesterday. It was pretty basic, so I didn't pick up to much about that, but I did learn two cool Mac tips I didn't know about.

TIP 1:   iPhoto is a real mess for me, with my personal photos mixed in with my work photos.  Whenever I do a project and use the inspector, I have to dig through everything to find the media I'm looking for.

Turns out, you can create different iPhoto libraries.  Hold down the option key and open iPhoto. It gives you the following screen:
Choose Create New, and call it whatever you want. Voila! You now have a library for storing work or project related images, separate from your personal photos.

Use the "Events" option for loading assets for different projects.

By default, iPhoto will open whichever library you opened last.  If you want a different one,  either open iPhoto while holding down the option key again,  or just navigate to your Pictures folder and click on the library you want.

 TIP 2:  Do you have photos loaded in Keynote (for example), that you want to use in another project without opening each slide, copying the photo, then pasting it into your new document?

Add them to iPhoto by just dropping your Keynote file into iPhoto.  iPhoto will pull all the images, videos, etc into an event.  It grabs everything, so you'll still need to sift through and delete what you don't want.

Infographics for the Art Challenged

I've been interested in infographics for a couple years now.  The best ones do a fantastic job organizing complex ideas, sharing information through a mix of visuals and text.  In fact they provide a unique opportunity to study (or practice!) the relationship between text and image for conveying ideas.

Infographics are an excellent alternative to research papers when teachers want students to practice the skills of research, organiziation and analysis without taking the time to write (or grade!) a full-blown essay.

I've never had students do them, though, because they always required a) artistic ability or b)  hard-core Adobe Illustrator skills.

No longer.  Some new(ish) online apps make it easy (technologically) to create your own infographics. Ease.ly, Visual.ly, and  Piktochart  all combine drag-and-drop icons with a variety of templates, or you can start from scratch to create your own.

As someone severely art-challenged (as many of my students, who have laughed themselves silly over my stick figures, will tell you), I especially appreciate the opportunity these apps provide for students to think in visual terms.    I, for example, find it pretty hard to think visually (and create the infographics), because I spent most of my school years avoiding art class!  Now students can practice their visual literacy without needing the accompanying artistic ability.

I also think I'll use them to do my annual report.  I know we're supposed to provide the multi-page novelette documenting our successful program, but my administrators turn white whenever they see it, and I'm not even sure they actually read it. Plus it takes me HOURS.  This may be a way to convey the same information in a more concise, easy-to-grasp format.

Kathy Schrock put together a great  collection of resources for teaching these.  Now I just need to talk a teacher into letting me co-teach with them on an infographics assignment!

UPDATE:  I talked one of the science teachers into doing an infographics assignment on population! Whoo-hoo!  Now I need to create the handouts.  I'll post them here, of course, when they're done. Obviously, they need to be an infographic!  

Thursday, October 11, 2012

LiveBlog: Jabiz Raisdana Authentic Student Blogging

The possibilities of spaces:  effective space can improve learning and create places where students want to learn and interact.

PHYSICAL SPACE;  Dead classrooms--beige, desks in rows. Need to bring physical space to life.  Students need to own it: Everyone bring in $5--we're walking to the plant store to buy a plant!  Students totally engaged--really "own" their plants in the classroom.

Added couches, music playing.  Good creative space for working and collaborating.

Tech is the LAST thing people should notice.  (good to hear.  It's not the point; it's the tool, as I repeat ad nauseum).

DIGITAL SPACE--classroom blog.

Should mirror your physical space--look nice, feel nice, brings in your "stuff"
 etc.  Share everything--music, advice, videos. Introduce other peeople working in the space with you. Teaching about  how to blog.

Overnight has 156 unsolicited blog posts from students--just for the heck of it on topics of interest.

Go beyond "Here's your next assignment."

But Hunt:  Infrastructure as invitation, not obligation.  

Show students how, but don't force. It's not homework, because then it becomes a dead space.  Some students haven't blogged at all yet.  Let students find their voice by watching others.

"The articulated nusance of screaming into the void."  Jim Groom. 

It's valuable to be wrong in public.  These spaces are for exploration, not showcasing products. Latter  tells students "You're not good enough."  Let them find their voice.

It's really taking off for him this year. If you want to follow and join in the conversation:

@intrepidteacher  on Twitter.  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Learning 2.012: Live!

For those of you who can't just drop everything and fly to Beijing for a 2 day conference, we will be livestreaming parts of the conference.  You can access it (and other information)  here.