Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My Brilliant Son

This week I started to prepare an idea for the bulletin boards in my room. There are so many apps that my sons and I use for the iTouch that I have not had an opportunity to share at school. My first thought was to photograph the iTouch with the app running when my brilliant oldest son came to my rescue. This makes twice in two weeks that my children have taken what I taught them, made it their own, and taught me something.

No Mom, Don't Take a Photo
Michael asked what I didn't just do a screen capture of the app I wanted. He showed me how to lightly tap the home button at the bottom of the iTouch while lightly tapping the power button at the top edge of the device. The screen flashed and the image was captured.

The resolution was fantastic. On his new iTouch the resolution is 533x800 pixels. The resolution on the iTouch I inherited from him (purchased in 2009) is 320x480 pixels. I brought them into Word and they look great!

Where Are the Photos?
My son showed me that the photos were in the Photo app on the iTouch. I figured that I would sync the iTouch and grab them off the iMac desktop. He asked me, "how about the Bump app?" I remembered hearing about the app on the Tech Chick Tips podcast. I didn't think of the app because I thought it was just used to swap contact information, but you can swap files, too.

It was fun to use the app, but my son said I was way too enthusiastic. He thought I was going to break the iTouch devices. Apparently, you just have to bump hands while holding the device.

I Guess I Still Have to Sync the iTouch
My son showed me how I could use the Photo app and just click the send icon on the bottom right corner of the screen. I emailed the images to myself and was set to create my bulletin board. I'll put photos of the finished boards up with this post as soon as I get the board together this week.

The Apps I'll Suggest to Students
Edmodo - Free - We'll be using it in computer class this year.
Flashcard Touch - $4.99 - I bought it for my sons so they can use their Quizlet card decks to study on the iTouch. My son told me he found out the card decks have to be public on Quizlet to use them on Flashcard Touch.
Grades 2 - Free - My son is excited about this one because you can plug in the weights as wells as the grades.
Mild Elements - Free - A periodic table with links to Wikipedia articles about the elements.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary - Free - He feels it is a valuable dictionary.
Convertbot - $1.99 - My son got this free through the "Free App a Day" and likes it for its ability to convert length, data size, currency, area, volume, time, temperature, speed, and mass between various units.
WolframAlpha - $1.99 - I think I purchased this one for my sons. I believe it has so many different uses and is a very versatile app.
YouVersion Bible - Free - Since my son is at a Jesuit school, the bible is indispensable. He found a version (among the many in the app) that matches his school bible.
Dragon Dictation - Free - A great app to record (and have typed) a quick memo.
Children's Bible - Free - I haven't looked too closely, but I wanted some apps for the youngest students
Evernote - Free - I may mention this site to the eighth grade students as they get ready to leave for high school, so I thought I'd include it on the board.
24/7 Tutor: Spanish - Free - I wanted an app for the Spanish language taught in our school. This was free, I played around with it, and found it to be useful.
Starfall - ??? - The students really enjoy the Starfall.com ABCs.I found that they have a couple of apps. When I tried to download them at the iTunes store, I received a message that they were not available in the United States. I sent them a message and got a quick reply that the should be available through the U.S. app store shortly. I'll certainly add those apps to my board once I can download them.

There may be other apps that I will include on the board over time, but this gives me a great start and a fresh bulletin board for the new school year.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

#EduFave Digging Through Favorites

I was thinking about going through my Favorites list in Twitter. As the school year starts, I want to see what gems I thought were going to be useful. Sometimes when I'm on my not-Smartphone, I favorite things that won't open in the cell phone browser to look at later. I never seem to get back to things.

Shall We Play a Game?
I've decided that once a quarter I'll send a tweet asking my followers to look through their Favorites and find something they added over a month ago. Just tag it EduFave. We'll all find something we may have added to favorites a long time ago and forgot about. It will force us to look at our favorites.

My Way Back Machine Favorite
From August 26, 2008 Allanah King shared how to turn your Delicious bookmarks into a clickable HTML file.

What is one of your #EduFave tweets?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

My Talented Son

My thoughts are turning to the new school year. As a result of a Skype call with Shannon Miller and attending the 2011 EdmodoCon I am filled with new ideas for the 2011-2012 school year. My son has become really talented in using The Gimp. I asked him for a tutorial on creating badges for Edmodo. It turns out Edmodo made it much easier than I realized.

Edmodo Badges
Electronic badges can be awarded to students for various teacher selected reasons. I have not yet decided on what I will award, but 100% completion of big projects, supporting another student, contributions to discussions are all possibilities. 

In order to introduce the concept, and award students who helped me test out Edmodo last year, I wanted to create a badge. I knew my son had taken The Gimp to greater heights than I have, so I asked him to teach me how to use the path tool to create a badge and add a glossy look to the top. I thought that the badge needed to be fully designed.  This is the badge Stephen designed for me. It is gorgeous! I actually like it better than what Edmodo did for me - although they make it less work in the long run.

When we uploaded it, we found out that the little edge and drop shadow beneath the image is created on the Edmodo side. So Stephen redid the badge as a simple square as you can see on the right.

Edmodo turns it into this finished image:

The image is a 55x55 pixel square. 

I don't know how to find the teacher shared badges, but if you like this badge I did make it a shared image.

Ideas From Shannon
One idea that Shannon shared with me would make a collaborative project much easier. Rather than having two teachers on the project, Shannon and her teacher-collaborator from outside the school created one teacher account. In this way, both teachers were able to communicate with all students. It became one classroom and one teacher voice. I thought that was an interesting way to approach the collaboration.

I'm not planning on a collaborative project through Edmodo at this point, but I am up for it. I can extend this idea to collaborating through a wiki.

Friday, August 5, 2011

140edu: Ideas and the Need to Reach Out

I remember hearing great feedback from people who attended the #140 Conference in New York a while back. It wasn't education related per se, but people who went we so glad they did. When I heard that there was going to be a 140edu conference in August, I signed up immediately.

My Reasons for Going
The conference was broadcast via the #140conf NYC Ustream channel. I know from experience that I don't sit down and really watch Ustream the way I attend to a live event. I'm not a city girl, but I knew that I could make it up to 92nd Street. Attending is also another way of reaching out to the educators that make up the online part of my learning network. Relationships become so much stronger when you can meet in person.

The Need to Reach Out
At the end of Kim Sivick's talk, Global Collaboration for Elementary Age Children, an audience member asked where she could find global collaborative partners. I took out a little Moo Card with my contact information and planned on giving it to her at the end of the talk. I didn't feel right standing up while the talk was still going on. Sadly, the person left the auditorium before I could reach out to her. I knew what she was wearing, but couldn't find her the rest of the day. It was something I had talked about in one of my sessions at ntcamp last Saturday. I had gathered some resources on a Google Doc and would have been happy to exchange email addresses or talk with her over the phone.

During the conference, a few of the EdCamp NYC organizers and I went out to lunch. Our next unconference is on October 1 at The School at Columbia University. The EdCamp NYC link in this post will take you to our web page where you can reserve a free ticket to the event. Katy Gartside and I wanted to brainstorm ways to bring more teachers to our unconference...specifically teachers who don't connect in online spaces. In addition to Karen Blumberg and Deven Black (from the EdCamp NYC team), we had @21stcenturychem and Michael Doyle sharing their thoughts.

After lunch, Katy and I had the pleasure of speaking with Mo Krochmal (@Krochmal). He had been filming and taking photos during the day and stopped to share the fact that I could find a video of our impromptu Zumba session on the Social Media News NY Facebook page. Incidentally, videos of the #140edu talks are on that Facebook page, as well.

Mo was so interesting to talk to. He has had a varied career including education. He shared the idea of putting a post up on the Social Media News Facebook page to ask for ideas on getting the word about EdCamp NYC out to the teacher on the street. I hope we have the pleasure of seeing him on October 1st.

Reaching Out in Other Online Spaces
As I was thinking about the #140edu conference, I kept coming back to the educator who asked how to find global collaborative partners. As I was thinking, I noticed a few requests to connect on LinkedIn and remembered that I had created a LinkedIn group for ntcamp and EdCamp NYC. As I was tweeting out a link to the ntcamp group, I started thinking about LinkedIn groups as a potential way to help connect people who may not choose to participate in Twitter but have been to events such as the #140edu conference.

Remembering the Lessons Taught in School
I am an organizer of EdCamp NYC so I had no problem creating it's LinkedIn group. I asked the ntcamp organizers before I created that group. Jeff Pulver and Chris Lehmann were extraordinary hosts at the #140edu conference. Jeff really "owns" the 140 brand and I didn't want to do anything with a LinkedIn group without his knowledge. Before the conference, Jeff must have followed all the people registered for the conference, so it was easy enough to send him a Direct Message via Twitter. I let him know what I wanted to do and asked permission to use the 140 logo for the group. He said it was fine as long as I listed him as a "co-host" of the group.

I am always trying to teach my students respect for other people's work. This is another example for me to share at school. If you reach out, and let people know what you are trying to do, they are often very gracious in helping you out and giving you permission. Jeff was very generous in quickly replying so I could get the group started.

#140edu LinkedIn Group
Now there is a LinkedIn group for the conference. I am not sure who will or won't join. It is another way to try to reach out into the community. More and more people are joining LinkedIn and Facebook. By having groups in those places, we may be able to help those people in the audience who don't know how to start a global collaboration or find a connection to someone they'd like to talk more with after a live event.

My Other Takeaways
The 92nd Street Y was really easy to get to. I did not brave the subway, but it was an easy taxi ride from Penn Station. I sat in the auditorium for almost every talk and took detailed notes in a Google Doc for Tuesday and Wednesday. Feel free to take a look. A wonderful stranger (or maybe someone I knew) in the audience was editing the document with me. They weren't signed in to Google, so I really don't know who it was. Thank you, whoever you are, for adding links and a table of contents!

I have so many ideas and thoughts that will continue to circle in my mind my. I will be going back through the documents and reviewing the videos. I'll probably eventually post some thoughts here over time. 

Image Citation:
Ann Oro http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6140/6004086766_524e4d66d3.jpg Creative Commons Attribution