Saturday, January 25, 2014

Moving Day

I am in the process of moving my website from to Since I am making this move I will be using WordPress instead of straight HTML coding. Now that the website will be a WordPress installation, I am making the move from Blogger to WordPress.

I found a very good article How to Switch from Blogger to WordPress. By following these directions, I should not only be able to bring my articles and comments along, I should be able to maintain search traffic and existing subscribers.

You can find my past blog posts and new entries at:

Thursday, October 31, 2013

K12 Online Conference - Building Knowledge of Web Search

I am excited to share what I have been doing with students to build their knowledge of searching the Internet.

I have my resources on a wiki page:

My personal website is:

If you would like to contact me via email, please see the link on the left side of this page.

You can find me on Twitter @njtechteacher and Google Plus.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Connected Educator's Month 2013

I am a life long learner. One opportunity I have this month is Connected Educator's Month. It is almost the end of the month and I just hopped in to a few different items. I am doing it for myself. I am trying to complete some of the options so that I can talk about them with other educators over the next year.

A Tweet Pulled Me In
I was taking a quick look at the hashtag for #ce13 and saw a message from Eric Sheninger
Join the FREE Leadership 3.0 community @edwebnet  #cpchat #ce13

As it happened, I was waiting for the laundry to finish so I poked around the site and found an archive of a Leadership 2.0: Essential Skills for Innovative Principals webinar.  It was well worth my time. I had heard Eric speak online and in person a number of times. The webinar also featured Joe Mazza and I enjoyed hearing his perspective as a lead learner (principal) of an elementary school.

Daily Emails
I signed up for Connected Educator Month last year. As a result, I have been receiving daily emails detailing the events of the day. I followed a link to get in a drawing for books from Solution Tree. After filling in the form, I decided to look a little closer at the website and thought I would learn more about the "badges" event that is running this year. I am not sure if it is the first year they are doing it. The actual reason I am writing this post is that it is required for one of the badges.

The badges led me to  a Connected Educator's Starter Kit. I downloaded the PDF for use at school with the local teachers.

All in all, I am looking forward to completing more badges and being able to give first hand knowledge to teachers that are just starting on the connected educator journey.

Image Credit:

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Superhero Theme for 2013-2014

I have had different themes in my classroom over the years. This year I have been thinking about how I used ClassDojo and Sokikom Classroom Management in my room. I chose a Superman/Super Hero theme to explain our work together in the computer class.

The Student as a Super Hero
My first task this year had a duel purpose: understanding the student perspective and checking on their word processing skills. I posed the following: What super power do you wish you had and how would it make God proud of you? What is your everyday super power in class?

The responses I received were well thought out and often times highlighted great behaviors I have observed in the students over time.

The Classroom Management Tools
Last year I tried to use classroom management tools to track positive behaviors, like helping others with a project. I tracked behaviors that hindered others indirectly as areas to improve, such as forgetting to log off a web site or leaving an untidy workspace at the end of the session.

The reason I didn't use Class Dojo the entire year was that they required a student email address for accounts. I did not think that was appropriate. ClassDojo no longer requires an email address for the student. I next used Sokikom through Edmodo. It was a little better because it worked right through the student's Edmodo account. No extra sign on was required.

My current biggest problem with the ClassDojo is that it is still not perfect. Students can't see a range of data only what happened the current week. This hinders my students. I only see them once or twice a week. If they do not get to sign on at home, they lose their data at the beginning of a new week. The program has "parent" comments which I use to give further explanation such as the fact that the program they were logged on to was Diigo. The students do not get to see those comments unless I or a parent show it to them. I know these systems are improving. They are very responsive to teachers. I received an email to let me know that they are continuing to add features to the program. It seems like a date range is close to the top of the list.

Students Recognizing Other Students
Within the class, one of the missing links last year was that I realized that I was not "catching" all the good that goes on within the class period. To fix this I have attached little slips of paper to a basket I keep next to each computer. The students fill out a slip when someone helps them and place it in a shoe box at the front of the room. For example: George helped me add layers in my Gimp animation ~Felicia 7A. I even got a special treat this week. You can see it in the photo at the bottom of the post.

It is working. Students are pointing out the help they are receiving from others. Not only that, but close to 100% of the students students logging out of web sites, fully closing out programs, and leaving behind a clean work area.

In an attempt to help them see the big picture, I took a screen shot of their points earned individually and as a class at the end of September. One class, with a positive rating of 92%, wanted to see how they measured up against the rest of the classes in the school. They were disappointed to find out that they were actually the lowest scoring. As a group they decided to try to top everyone next month.

Finding the Genius in Students
I read a post by Bob Sprankle this weekend. He is setting up the equivalent of the Apple Genius in his classroom. The more I think about it - the more I like it. I had created a printout (see left without names) of the super heroes in class who have mastered the ability to set and use tabs. The students really like to see their name up on the printout. I am going to tie it into the Genius concept. I am going to stop at the local store and get some tags and create my own Genius badge. When we revisit a skill, those students will don their badge and be the experts in class.

Every Student Has Something Special to Offer
My goal is to find the special something in each student so that by the end of the year each child finds a new super hero power within. 

Image Credit:
Ann Oro. Images and printouts from around the classroom.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Editing Wikipedia

During the course of working with students, Wikipedia invariably arises. I do not discourage looking at Wikipedia. I do tell the students that it is not a trusted primary source. It is a great place to get overview information on a topic and to look at the links people reference in gathering their facts for the Wikipedia article.

Learning to Edit Wikipedia
Last spring, I decided to give the seventh grade students the opportunity to understand what it takes to edit Wikipedia. The reasons were two-fold. First, they get to learn the wiki markup language. Second, they experience how easy it is for anyone to edit the Wikipedia.

I started by having the students edit in the Wikipedia sandbox in anonymous mode. We, sadly, found that anyone - near and far - could modify what the students were doing. Wikipedia has a tutorial that uses a public sandbox that is erased on a fairly frequent basis.

I ended up creating an account for each of my students using the standard username and password they have for other accounts such as Edmodo, Diigo, and Google Docs. Each account has a personal sandbox. It is very unlikely that a stranger will happen upon the student sandbox page. The work is much more private and protected. Additionally, the updates are not deleted automatically by the system.

I had the students complete the Wikipedia: Editing Tutorial to learn the basics of the markup language. They followed directions in a simple handout and submitted screen shots of their edits to Edmodo.

Modifying the School Entry
After learning the markup language, the students compared our school entry which is very sparse with another more robust school page that covers the same grade levels as our school.

Each student proposed an entry for our page and wrote a potential entry in a word processor document. We ran out of time at the end of the school year, but we will make the edits early in the new school year.

The students were really excited to learn this new skill.

New at Wikipedia
As I was beginning to think about the lessons for the new school year, I had to edit our Wikipedia entry to update the link to our new school domain. There was a new link "Edit Beta". It seems that over the summer Wikimedia has been building a visual editor. It will give me something new to talk about as we head back to the project as an eighth grade class.

Image Source:
Screenshot of Wikipedia page.