Thursday, 30 September 2010

iTeach180 Project Day 14


Yesterday students posted reflections on their blogs about the last two weeks of learning. I challenged students with questions that prompted them to defend or challenge the technology integration we were
Today I will be beginning my two part series on Evernote.  These two lessons will help you reduce paper usage in your classroom, library, and school building, while educating your students with great web tools for research and presentation.

Like Diigo, Evernote allows you to clip sections of the web while you are browsing for information. Diigo will let you highlight and clip links, but Evernote allows you to clip a variety of web content including pictures. While the objective of both tools is to clip, organize, and filter personal web content, they remain different in their functionality.

Evernote can be downloaded on to MAC and Windows operating systems and is completely free. This can also be used on smart phones and the iPhone.

Objectives:
Students will be able to use Evernote
Students will be able to demonstrate Evernote
Students will be able to apply Evernote

Process:
This lesson is simply an overview of using Evernote. You can access the videos below to show your students or faculty how to use this great web-clipping program. You may want to have students follow your lead while you are demonstrating Evernote on the projector or you can have them simply watch and take notes on what you are doing. Again, I find it best to model it first and then allow them to organize in groups and have some time to mess around with the program.

For homework you could give them a subject individually that they have to research tonight online. Have each student find information pertaining to the topic you provide and the next day, have students present their findings.


video

video

video

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

iTeach180 Project Day 13

The past two weeks we have been setting up our classroom infrastructure. Today I want to allot some time for student reflection. I always feel my best observations and critiques come from my students. Not to say all my past Administrators have been poor on giving feedback, but I find my students understand the daily classroom dynamic better. Therefore, today's lesson will be a reflective piece for the students.

Objectives:
Students will be able to compose a blog post

Students will be able to comment on a blog post

Students will be able to access a blog post through an RSS Reader

Process:
Start the class by reflecting on all of the learning tools you have been incorporating for the past two weeks. Provide your own reflection verbally and explain briefly why we are integrating these types of tools. And then give them a few guiding questions to provoke their writing.

1. Technology simply slows down the learning process. Challenge or Defend this statement.

2. Why should we integrate technology when students have been learning without it for decades?

3. How does a networked classroom promote student learning?

You may choose to select different questions, but for this assignment, I want them to take on the negative side of technology integration. I want students to put their energy into writing a post that defends what we are doing in the class with technology and get them to provide specific examples from the work we have been doing for the past two weeks. Why are we doing it? Is it all necessary? Get your students to drive home this point, however, accept the fact that you may have students challenge this notion as well. The purpose is not to get all students nodding their heads in agreement, but to provoke their thinking in the direction of forming an opinion and defending it.

Depending on your class time you can have students write this blog post as an in class assignment and for homework have them comment on their peers' blogs. Make sure to remind them that grammar, spelling, and language structures count. Use the rubric I provided in Day 8.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

iTeach180 Project Day 12


Yesterday I introduced Diigo. Today we will be exploring more features of Diigo beyond the basic setup and networking. There are many features Diigo offers for web browsing, collecting, and organizing. Today I will be covering highlighting tool, The Stickies tool, and how you can set up a group for your class or department.

Objectives:
Students will be able to create a group on Diigo
Students will be able to use the highlighting tool on Diigo
Students will be able to share links via Diigo

Process:
Today’s lesson is more of an instructor overview of what students can do with Diigo tools. As an instructor there are a variety of ways in which you can incorporate this type of tool into any content area classroom. A few examples:

English – This is great for student research and gathering secondary sources. Students have the ability to highlight chunks of text within an article and make note of it with a sticky note as well. Students can also find information on authors you are reading and save them all under one tag.

History – Like English, this is a great tool for research collections. If you are covering a specific period of history, students find news sources that connect of reflect that period. They can then add sticky notes and write their connections of the two time periods.

Science – Students can conduct research on a specific scientific principle and find an example online of how that principle is being used in everyday life. They can highlight information and refer back to it as they scan the web.

Math – Have students bookmark and highlight Dan Meyers blog. This is a must! Students can find a word problem that reflects a specific math equation and highlight an example of that in an article they find on the online. Or, students can collect data to create their own word problems by highlight information from a newspapers’ business section.

Art – Students can find artist and then set out on a web quest to find and highlight information pertaining to that artist’s work and life.

Again, most of the above examples fall under the category of web quest or research. You may want to start exploring Diigo by using one of the options above or you can invent your own.

The videos below explain how students can bookmark, share, highlight, and create groups within Diigo for easy project collaboration.

1. Installing a Diigolet in your browser

video

2. Using the highlighting and sticky tools.

video


3. Creating a Diigo Group

video


Monday, 27 September 2010

iTeach180 Project Day 11

The past two weeks my hypothetical technology class has been setting up their classroom infrastructure. At this point, they are connected in many ways: RSS, iGoogle, Blogs, etc. It is always a good idea to take the time to set up and make sure students understand these collaborative tools. Once they have these tools understood and in place, you can easily incorporate dynamic lessons and projects throughout the year. Plus, these “infrastructure” tools are applicable in any content area class.

This week we are going to move in the direction of web organization and content sharing. In the next few days I will be presenting lessons on Diigo and Evernote. Both tools allow anyone to set up a free or premium account and share and organize web content.

Objectives:
Students will be able to demonstrate Diigo
Students will be able to use Diigo effectively
Students will be able to bookmark with Diigo

Process:
Today we are going to setup a Diigo account. It is best to show your students how to do this on the overhead projector with their laptop screens down. Model the basic setup and navigation of Diigo and explain various ways in which they can use this tool. There is also an instructional video on the main page at Diigo.com that will give students and teachers an overview of what Diigo is and what Diigo can do for you.

I created two videos below to further illustrate the basic setup and navigation of Diigo. Tomorrow I will get into web highlighting, sticky notes, and groups. There are a number of ways in which Diigo can be incorporated into the classroom and faculty vocabulary.

video



video


Friday, 24 September 2010

iTeach180 Project Day 10


Yesterday we covered RSS feeds and had students set up their Google reader accounts. Today we are going to create RSS feeds within our classroom wikispace. This assignment will be a nightly assignment and will work in conjunction with their blog.

Objectives
Students will be able to access RSS feeds from various outlets
Students will be able to compose a blog post

Process:
Today, I want to focus on a reading strategy that I am using with my tenth grade English class. On my wikispace, I have several RSS feeds linked into a page. This page updates regularly and allows students to view the most current articles from The Philadelphia Inquirer, ESPN.com, NPR, etc. I tried to present an array of feeds rather than just one. The point of this assignment is to get students reading daily and to encourage reading independently. Also, students are acquiring knowledge about their world. Plus, reading and responding nightly is slowly building your students’ prior knowledge database that they can access on any…dare I say…standardized test. I find this to work best for high school students and especially AP students who will have to enter the English Language and Composition test with a well-rounded knowledge base.

Here is the assignment...

Every night students read one article from one of the five feeds I have selected. You may choose more than five or allow students to add to the feed. They must read the article, and then list three facts about the article, three questions they have about the article, one supported opinion and list and define any new vocabulary words they come across. They type this up in a Google Doc and then post it to their blog.

NOTE: Always remind students to compose their blog posts in a separate forum so they can save frequently in the instance their blogger or word press page goes down.

Students are always told what they have to read, this allows students the freedom of reading something they can select on their own and enjoy. Here is a video that will show you how to set up an RSS feed on your wikispace. Enjoy! 


video


Thursday, 23 September 2010

iTeach180 Project Day 9

Yesterday we incorporated RSS of student blogs into our iGoogle page. Students learned how to add an RSS feed for posts and comments to their iGoogle page so they could easily access their peers’ blogs. Today I expand on what an RSS feed is and how it can organize all of the content you read on the web. Also, we will cover setting up Google Reader for other classes and assignments.

Objectives:
Students will be able to access an RSS feed
Students will be able to link an RSS feed to Google Reader



Example Assignment:

I have used RSS feeds in all of my English literature and AP English Language and Composition classes. I set up a RSS feed on our class wikispace that would update periodically with the latest news stories as they broke. Students would have to access this page nightly, read an article, and then either blog or journal about it. We also discussed the interesting stories of the week every Friday before class started. If a student did not have Internet access at home I would point them in the direction of the free library, a Starbucks (now offers free wi-fi along with most coffee shops, or have them simply find a newspaper.  When students would complain about having to buy a newspaper I would usually ask them how much they spend a month on their cell phone bill. This would lead to me being right and the student in awe of how many newspapers he or she could purchase with each month’s cell phone bill.

Again, this assignment had my students reading and writing each night. My AP students were constantly absorbing sources to use as references when they are writing their rhetorical analysis essays. These are skill sets that you can provoke and develop every night. In some cases, I had parents me asking about RSS feeds and thanking me for getting their son or daughter to read every night.  Click here to see an example of this.

Process:

1. You may want to start by introducing your students to a brief history of what an RSS feed is, what RSS stands for, and how we can use them every day. Or you might want to show them the Common Craft video to get them started and understanding what a RSS feed is.

2. Once they have an understanding of what an RSS feed is, show them where they can find one. As part of their independent practice, have them select a popular news source and find an RSS feed on the page. Explain to them that RSS feed has a universal symbol. If you are using Safari there is a reader option embedded in the address bar.

3. Have them select the RSS feed they want and then have them open up another tab. Tell them to enter http://www.google.com/reader You may also want to show this video on Google Reader

4. Watch the video below and have your students follow along after you have modeled.

video


For homework you might want your students to select 5 of their favorite news sources and add them to their Google Reader. Also, you can have them add the URLs from their class blogs.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

iTeach180 Project Day 8

Today’s lesson may vary depending on what homework you assigned last night. If you assigned a blog post to your students you had the opportunity to check them over remotely. Today we will focus on the responsibility of writing and publishing online and how we can add RSS feeds to our iGoogle page.

Objectives:
Students will be able to write responsibility and effectively online
Students will be able to add an RSS feed to an iGoogle page

Process:
Today’s lesson should start be reviewing the blogging process that happened last night for homework. Have students recall any problems they encountered and how they felt when the hit the “publish post” button.

NOTE: In the past, I have used my PLN or a small group of teachers online to read and comment on my students’ posts. This task will reinforce the presence of an audience and how important and powerful writing is when you are publishing to the world.

As you present the responsibility of being an author online, you may want to incorporate a writing rubric for your blogging assignments. You can easily create your own of there are plenty of rubric online (see below). Tell students that this rubric will be used on every blog post and that students still need to proofread their work that is being published.

Blog Scoring Rubric



Another good exercise might be to find blogs that you know are ill worded or grammatical incorrect and have students rate the blogs appeal with these errors. What does it do to the bloggers credibility? Would you read this blog again?

The next phase of this lesson will be how students can access their blogs in different forums.

1. Have students return to their iGoogle page. (NOTE: You might want to do a random check in of all their iGoogle pages to see how they are using them after a week and a half of school).

2. Have them open up another tab and return to their blog home page they created yesterday. Once they have these two tabs open watch the video below. The video will show you how to add a RSS link to your iGoogle homepage.

video





For homework, you might want to have your students subscribe to the classroom blogs or have them select one blog that they really enjoy reading that they can add to their iGoogle page.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

iTeach180 Project Day 7

Last week we went over Google Apps and docs that will be staples in our class everyday. This week we will be setting up our classroom wikispace. The wikispace will incorporate many types of media and become our hub for resource sharing, hosting, and collaborative projects.

Yesterday we set up our wikispace and went over the criteria for using and navigating a wikispace effectively. Today, students will be adding their blogger accounts to the wikispace.

Objectives:
Students will be able to set up a blog via blogger.com
Students will be able to edit a wikispace
Students will be able to add an external link to a wikispace.

Process
The best way to begin this lesson is to model it for your students while their laptop screens are down and they are watching.  You may want to place screen shots into a PowerPoint and show them the steps or you can simply walk them through the process.

1. The first step is to have students set up their own blog via blogger or you can choose to have one class blog. I prefer to have students create their own blog. Allowing students to create their own blog gives them ownership and gives them an online presence that they are responsible for keeping.

video


2. Once students have created their blogs have them grab the link, and copy it.

3. Return to the wikispace and explain that the left hand frame of a wikispace is like a table of contents. It will show you everything that is on the page and allow you to navigate through the entire site. Also explain that an external link will have a small green arrow after the link name. This will usually take you to another page or another tab depending on which browser you are using.

4. Show your students that when they click below on “edit navigation” at the bottom of the left hand frame, they will have the ability to edit the navigation frame. Remind them that even though the navigation text appears in the main frame, it will still only edit the left-hand navigation frame.
NOTE: When I set this up before I edited the navigation frame the day before to display the title “BLOG ROLL” and underneath I typed in all of their names. This will save you time when setting up this feature on your wikispace. You can select this LINK that will allow you to see my AP English wikis setup.

5. Have students click the “edit navigation” link at the bottom of the navigation frame. The text of the navigation frame will now appear in the main frame on the right. Have each student find his or her name under the blog roll, highlight his or her name, and click on the link button in the editing toolbar. The “add link” window will pop up and allow you to add a link (see images below). After students select “add link” they will be taken back to the main page and their name will now be purple, have a line under it and a little green arrow will be following it. If they see all of these items, they have successfully created an external link to their blog. Make sure students click save, and the wikispace will be updated to reflect changes made.
Today students created a blog that will be used for this class and added an external link to the wikispace. Having a blog roll of your students on your wikispace allows you, the teacher, and your students to learn and collaborate in an organized setting. Tomorrow we will cover blog writing procedures and expectations. For homework, you may want to give your students a writing prompt to blog about and have them post a comment on one of their peers blogs. This homework assignment will help segue into tomorrow’s lesson. 

Monday, 20 September 2010

iTeach180 Project Day 6


Day 6 Classroom Wikispace

Last week we worked with setting up our classroom infrastructure using an iGoogle Page and Google Docs, forms, and folders. This week we will be incorporating all of those skill sets into a website that we will use throughout the year. I am choosing to use a wikispace over Google Sits because I have always found wikispaces to be the most user-friendly site for the classroom, it allows for sustainability of resources and assignments, and allows students to take ownership of the site. Plus, until Google hires me full time, I can only pitch their product in moderation (call me!).

Objectives: 
Students will be able to navigate a wikispace
Students will be able to edit a wikispace

Anytime I introduce a wikispace I like to show Lee LeFever’s CommonCraft video of “Wikis in Plain English”. CommonCraft videos have a simply, easy way of presenting tools in a very simple way. Plus, they are laced with subtle humor.

Once I have shown the video, I will prompt students with a few simple questions:
1. What is a wiki?
2. How can we use a wiki for class?
3. How will a wiki assist in our learning process?

You may want to add more questions of your own, but make sure you generate a brief discussion around student responses and comments.

There are many ways that you can begin teaching students about wikispaces, but in the beginning you want to keep it short and sweet. What usually do with students is give them a demonstration on our smart board of how to navigate the wikispace and how a wikispace can be manipulated. I also tell them that this site will be a collaborative forum. Their parents and administration will be viewing what goes on this page and it must be governed responsibly.

I also take the time to go over Acceptable Use Policies and the tech rules that I drafted for my class. Here is my letter to parents explaining our classroom dynamic and inviting them to join the wikispace. Following the letter are rules we created as a class. Each student must agree to the rules of the classroom for technology use and the schools AUP in order to continue using technology.

To Whom It May Concern:

This trimester in English Literature and Composition, my class will be taking a new approach to learning. We will be utilizing various technology resources to communicate, collaborate, and differentiate instruction within our classroom.

Each student will be setting up his or her own free e-mail account for my classroom. We are utilizing the G-Mail platform through Google Applications. This e-mail will only be used for our class. I told each student that they will have the opportunity to communicate with me through this e-mail and I ask you to do the same regarding any questions or suggestions you have for this venture.

Secondly, I have created a classroom website that will only be used for my class. It is a completely separate platform from the school’s webpage, but serves many of the same functions. Our website is created through a wikispace. A wikispace is a site where we will communicate, collaborate and engage in a variety of classroom activities. The wikispace is a private platform and can only be accessed when the organizer invites you. I briefly showed the students how to use this site and informed them that they now will have 24-7 access to their classroom. If students miss class or are absent for some time, they can keep up with their work simply by accessing this site. All that is needed is a computer and an Internet connection.

We have created classroom rules for this venture and on Wednesday, I had the students come up with their own rules for technology use in our classroom. They know these rules will be enforced and you can view our rules on the reverse of this page.

Finally, one of my primary goals for this venture is to include everyone in the learning process. I invite you to join our wikispace and become a part of the learning process. If you have any questions please feel free to e-mail me or call me (e-mail and number to follow). If you would like to be a part of our wikispace learning community, please provide me with your primary e-mail address so I can send you an invitation to our page. Please provide your name, signature and e-mail at the bottom of this page.

Sincerely,




Mr. Andrew P. Marcinek
e-mail: onthroad51@gmail.com
Phone: 484-416-0424
Parent/Guardian Name (Printed):__________________________________________________________
Parent/Guardian Signature: ______________________________________________________________
Parent/Guardian e-mail:_________________________________________________________________

ACCEPTABLE USE POLICY FOR TECHNOLOGY - MARCINEK
The Following Rules were designed by periods 1 and 2.

No social network sites in school unless they are being used specifically for class.
No games
Laptops are not to be used for notes
When teacher is talking, laptops are down
Notes can be written and transferred to computer
No Youtube unless it is being used for a presentation or reference
No inappropriate searches for images
Background must be a solid color

Consequences


First policy offense – cannot use laptop for the rest of the day. Parents and Administration notified
Second policy offense – cannot use laptop for the week and assignments will be done through another platform (i.e. pen and paper). Parents and Administration will be notified. Student will also have an after school detention.
Third policy offense – student will lose laptop privileges. Parents, Administration, teacher and student will have a conference. Student will have to earn his laptop back by completing the following:
Write a laptop reinstatement letter to teacher and administration detailing why they broke policy and why we should let them have their laptop back. **

**If student has his laptop reinstated and break a policy rule again, the laptop will not be used for the rest of the year.**

Friday, 17 September 2010

iTeach180 Project Day 5

Day 5 Google Docs Part 3

Today is our final day introducing Google Docs.  The past two days we covered the basic skills that require effective, efficient use of Google Docs and forms.

Objectives:
Students will be able to set up a shared folder
Students will be able to use a shared folder

Process:
Today we will be setting up a shared folder within our Google Docs account. A shared folder allows you, and whomever you are collaborating with, to share files anywhere via one folder. Shared folders are private and can only be accessed by invitation. You can upload any time of file so this makes a great place for teachers and students alike to share files and collaborate.

1. Have students log into their Google Docs account.

The video below will explain how you set up a shared folder with your students and how they can use a shared folder when working on a project in this class or any other classes where they have a collaborative project. This is a great way for students to keep track of files throughout the year especially if they are using multiple computer labs and carts.

video


2. The next phase of this assignment is really up to the teacher. You may choose to start a small collaborative project next week via Google Docs and shared folders or you can simply expand on how they can use shared folders in school. Since it is Friday, I will be presenting the following homework assignment to my students.

Homework:
1. Find one partner
2. Set up a shared folder
3. Over the weekend create a document, spreadsheet, or presentation that conveys what you learned this week in this class. Use the following guiding questions to lead your project:
            1. How will Google Apps assist in your learning process this school year?
            2. Why should we use these tools in our classrooms?
3. What are some of the ways in which you will use the Google Apps taught this week in your other classes? Outside of class?
4. When you return on Monday you will present your findings to the class. Use a shared folder to house all of your documents you use for the presentation and collaborate remotely via Google Docs to work on this project.






Thursday, 16 September 2010

iTeach180 Project Day 4

Google Docs Part 2

Day 3 Recap:
Yesterday we started working with Google Docs. In groups, students were given a specific task to learn, and present to their peers.
1. Create a new document, save it, and share it.
2. Create a new folder and label documents accordingly
3. Create a shared folder
4. Upload a document and an image file
5. Publish the document to the web and get the embed code
6. Collaborate on editing a document
Students also had to address the following questions while they were presenting their task:
1. What problems did I encounter?
2. How did I solve this problem?
3. How can we apply my task to the class? To other classes?
Objectives:
  1. 1. Students will be able to use Google forms to collect data
  2. 2. Students will be able to embed a form to acquire data
  3. 3. Students will be able to problem solve using Google forms
Process:
Today we are going to design, embed, and gather information using a Google form. Start this lesson by asking students a few questions about how they collect information. Students may respond with text message, email, facebook, mail, etc. And while those methods are all well and good, you have to do most of the organizing grunt work to bring all those different methods together. Explain that with Google Forms you can deploy one form that will gather all of your information and house it in one central location. Your data will be collected, transmitted, and saved for you. The only task required is that you set up the form.
1. Have students log into their Google Docs account. And before they select create form, set them up into groups of two (or more depending on your class size).
2. Using your smartboard or overhead projector, model on the screen how you set up a form. Show them the steps, options, and how to access the results after the form has been created. Show them themes and how to embed and email their form once it is created.
3. Once students have learned the rudimentary functions of a Google form, give each group a specific task in which they have to create a form.
Some ideas for tasks:
1. Prom Planning Committee
2. Theatre production
3. Baseball Team Registration
4. Relay for Life Fund Raiser
5. Band Registration
6. Student Government
Give the students very general tasks like the ones listed above. Have students create a form that will gather information for each of the specific tasks above. You may choose to model one for them to get them started. Please see the video below for an example model. (Video to follow).


4. Once students have finished their tasks and set up their forms, have each group present their form to the class. Ask them to explain their reasoning for specific questions they added to the form and how they plan on using the data they collected from the form.
Have the class respond constructively to the choices each group made with their form presentations. Does this form style work the best for what they are asking? Will this type of form yield results that we can work with? Etc.
Once the presentations are finished you may want to do a brief reflection on what students learned about Google forms today and ask students to come up with other situations that they may use a Google form. Review the objectives and make sure all students understand and have mastered the form.
You may want to give students an exit slip that has a problem or task on it as they leave the room. Explain that tonight they are to take that problem and create a Google form for their problem. You can review these at the beginning of class the next day and ask students to discuss any problems or setbacks they encountered with Google forms.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

iTeach180 Project Day 3

Day 3: Google Docs Part 1

Day 2 Recap:

This week we are building our classroom infrastructure. We are using the Google Apps Suite to maintain open communication within the classroom and the school. We started with an iGoogle page and explore new iGoogle page widgets that will be essential to the infrastructure of our class. Today we will begin by exploring Google docs.

Objectives:

  1. Students will be able to access Google Docs
  2. Students will be able to Share Google Docs with shared folders
  3. Students will be able to edit a Google Doc

The Process:

1. Have students go to http://www.google.com/docs

2. Once students have accessed the Google Docs startup page, arrange them into groups of two (or more depending on the size of your class).

3. Give each group a task on the Google Docs startup page to discover, learn, and present to their peers. Include the following tasks:

1. Create a new document, save it, and share it.

2. Create a new folder and label documents accordingly

3. Create a shared folder

4. Upload a document and an image file

5. Publish the document to the web and get the embed code

6. Collaborate on editing a document

While students are performing these tasks scan the room and sit in on each group for a short time. Answer any questions, but push the students to find out how each task works on their own. I would allot ten minutes or more (depending on your class time and size).

Remind students that they must answer the following questions when they present:

1. What problems did I encounter?

2. How did I solve this problem.?

3. How can we apply my task to the class? To other classes?

4. Have students present their tasks to the class and require that the class take notes. You may choose to have students take notes via a Google Doc. As students are presenting, make sure you fill in any missed information so that students get a well-rounded idea of Google Docs.

Homework:

Have students create a new Google Doc, share it with you, and answer the following prompt:

In a short paragraph, describe how you learned how to use Google Docs today. Use at least two examples to support your statement.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

iTeach180 Project: Day 2

Day 2: Google Calendar

Day 1 Recap:

Yesterday we covered the iGoogle page. Student’s set up their iGoogle start page that will serve as their yearlong daily planner. Students will start each class by logging into their

iGoogle page and discovering their dynamic daily agenda.

Also, students explored, researched, and presented new iGoogle widgets that would be an asset to the classroom. This activity allowed students to have ownership over the way they organize, communicate, and collaborate in this class.

Objectives:

  • · Students will be able to create a Google Calendar
  • · Students will be able to embed a Google Calendar
  • · Students will be able to subscribe to a Google Calendar

Set up:

Day 2: Google Calendar

One of the widgets students will be using this year will be Google Calendar. As an Instructional Technology Specialist, one of my goals this year was to create school wide Google Calendars that would house our academic, sports, and events calendars. Also, it was my goal to have each teacher posting assignments and projects on classroom Google calendars. This would allow for students to subscribe to every school related calendar and house them in one central location.

Google Calendars also allow students to access their schedules on their smart phone. In short, taking the time to set up a Google Calendar network will create organizational bliss and allow for effective communication throughout the school year.



The Process

1. Have students go to http://www.google.com/calendar

2. On the right hand side of the page students can log in with their gmail username and password. If your school has the Google Apps Education Suite, then instruct them to use that email address, however, if you do not have this option simply have them set up a gmail account.

3. Once students are logged into their Google Calendar allow them to get in small groups. You may choose to coordinate groups however you like. In their groups, allow students time to use Google Calendar without explaining anything to them about its functionality. Give them roughly ten minutes (Time will depend on the length of your class) to discover one element of Google Calendar that they can teach to the class. In order to avoid repeats have one representative from each group bring you a post it of what they will be teaching to the class. If there is a repeat lesson, have the group choose a backup.

3. Once the time is up, have student groups present what they have learned to the class. Have

the class take notes or follow along with each different lesson that is presented. Remind students that for

homework tonight they will have to set up their Google calendar and have it displayed with their class schedule.

4. Once presentations finish, depending on time, reflect on each student lesson and fill in any gaps with Google Calendar. If students did not figure out how to use “subscriptions” make sure you cover this.

NOTE: Later on in the year we will be setting up a class wikispace to house our presentations and lessons that both teacher and student deliver. You may want to record these lessons or simply have the students type up their process and then they can post them to the wiki. This way you can have sustainable resources from year to year.

Having a Google Calendar network present in your school, or even your classroom allows students, teachers, parents, and administration to access events in one central location.

If you would like further instructions on how to set up and maintain this calendar network in your class or school, please email me and I will provide resrouces.


Monday, 13 September 2010

iTeach180 Project: Day 1


Day 1
Today I begin my first class of instructional technology lessons. As I mentioned before, this project is happening because I was cut out of a budget this year. Initially I had intended on integrating an instructional technology curriculum at my former charter school, but it was not to be. Therefore, I will be presenting a different technology lesson for the next 180 days. I will be taking the curriculum and standards that I had created for my school and presenting them to all via my blog, iTeach. I will be teaching a in a hypothetical context, but presenting material that can be used for any classroom. Also, I will be allotting my time throughout the year to conference with other Instructional Technology coaches, specialists, and teachers. My hope is that I can do the job I was supposed to do, and enhance learning in a variety of schools. I ask that you follow along on this ride and welcome your comments and constructive criticism about my lessons.
I will begin this class and the next few classes differently than I would most. The structure will be setting up our digital environment and instructing the students on various tech procedures that will help this class move, communicate, and organize effectively. Today’s lesson will focus on setting up the student’s iGoogle page.
The iGoogle page will serve as our start up and hub for acquiring and communicating information throughout the year. Here is how we will set up the lesson.
1. Start by showing the students a daily planner. Ask them for the first five minutes to list how a daily planner book is effective and how the daily planner is ineffective. Take some time with your students to discuss the answers.
2. Transition this discussion into a brief presentation on how the iGoogle page is just like the daily planner but is much more dynamic than the static book planner.
3. Have each student set up a gmail account and if you have the Google Apps Suite for Education than you can use the emails that are included in your package. Explain to the students that this is the ONLY email that you will accept messages from and this email should be used in a professional manner. Students will lose participation points for spelling, grammar, and formatting errors within the body of an email.
4. Once you have covered all the basics for email, have them set up different apps and widgets on the iGoogle page. Tell students that they must have the following widgets on the first page:


5. Once they have their essential information set up on the page, allow them a few minutes to explore the possibilities of an iGoogle page for class. Allow them to partner up for a few minutes and find one widget that they could use effectively for class and have that group of students present that widget to the class and explain ways in which it can help classroom communication, collaboration, or learning.
That is our instructional technology lesson for the day. Again, the next few days will be focused on setting up our “command center” for the year. I have decided to use Google Apps because that is the platform that I would have been working on with my students. You may find another platform more practical for your teaching, and I encourage all to share ideas in which this lesson can be enhanced and evolved.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

My Motivation

Today I was running, however, I did not know why. Around mile two I wondered why I was out here running at a sustained pace. I wasn’t running to be healthy. I have read stories about the most athletic people dropping dead mid-run. My Dad was a cross-country runner all through high school and college and by the time he was in his mid-forties his Doctor told him he would need knee replacements. So this was not it. I’m not training for a t-shirt, I mean marathon. So that wasn’t it. Then it hit me. I was by myself, with my music, and I was simply enjoying where I was at the moment. The music was pushing each step and motivating me to run as opposed to my original plan of watching Phillies pre-game with hot wings and a Sam Adams.

But what if there was no music? Would I still be running? Honestly, no. I would be on the couch eating wings, enjoying a Sam Adams.

So, is there music in your classroom? Are you motivating your students to run, beyond their threshold or are they sitting on the couch, feeling only moderately satisfied.

This thought came to me as I was teaching my English Composition 101 class this week. The course is defined as a “lecture” course, however, I have never been good at lecturing, nor do I feel that it is the best way to present material to a class. At the collegiate level, however, this type of classroom instruction is applauded. While I feel there is definitely merit in presenting new information to a body that does not know it yet, I try and stay away from a straight lecture.

As I looked out over my audience I noticed a malaise over the faces of some of them. I was boring them. There was no music. This has to change. I emailed them all this week and promised them a more dynamic classroom next week, in which we will present, share, collaborate, and challenge each other academically. I apologized for boring lecture, but reminded them that all information that was presented was essential to our learning going forward.


So now I am faced with an interesting challenge that all teachers face daily: How do we play the music daily? How do we get our kids to want to run longer and faster; moving beyond their threshold and sprinting above and beyond? How do we elicit intrinsic motivation on a daily basis?

I don’t think there is one answer to this question and we, as teachers, certainly face it daily. As I set out on my iTeach180 project this coming week, I am seeking out ways in which I can present material to students that don’t exist, but will be dynamic enough for all teachers to incorporate into their classroom.

I hope the music is always on in your classroom and your students want to run that extra mile because they know you are running with them. Take a moment this week to look at your students while you are teaching. Is the music playing?

Thursday, 9 September 2010

The Value of A Comment

About a year ago I started “The One Comment A Day Project”. The purpose was to generate buzz and comments around blogs. My hope was to have every member of my PLN comment on one blog post that day, then post the link to twitter with the hashtag #onecom, and generate a conversation via blog comments. This project was short lived, however, it did produce some good conversations and comments.

The blogging community is rich with talent and resources; we blog to share, to inform, to educate. Many times blogs are simply read and passed over without any comments. While comments should not be a requirement for blog readers, it sure means a lot to a blogger to receive a simple comment.

A comment can generate a new conversation and provoke thinking for the blogger and the reader. Many times the blogger can gain constructive insight from a comment and see a new perspective on his or her blog. In short, the comments feel good. Comments are not why we write, but it is part of the learning process for all involved.

It is not always easy to post a comment, especially during the hectic schedule of a school year. Many times we can only fit a quick read into our day. Plus, if you are like me, your Google Reader can get backed up rather quickly and finding time to read more than one post is impossible. So what is a practical solution to this dilemma?

Here is one way in which you can begin to organize your blog reading and commenting habits.

1. Each day, set up 20 or 30 minutes (as much time as your daily schedule can afford) and plug that time into your Google calendar as BLOG. Use all caps, make it bold, and set various reminders. This is your time to read and respond to one blog.

2. After you have thoroughly read the post, leave the author a valuable, constrictive comment. Don’t simply say you liked reading it or it was neat, but give them some feedback as if they were sitting in a department meeting across the room from you. Personally, if I am offering ideas on a post, I love to hear how others will use said ideas in their own practice. Plus, it continues the dialogue and offers other readers new ideas that are now expanding in various directions.

3. Take the link and post it on twitter. Tell your entire PLN that you just left a comment on this great blog by Random Author and it is the must read blog of the day! If we highlight the talents of each other and continually spread the wealth in a focused manner, we all benefit.

Again, acquiring comments or followers is not why we blog. Bloggers write to share ideas, resources, and techniques that will improve our classroom and enhance our own learning. There are so many excellent bloggers out there and I wish we could create a new day in the week just to read them all. Until that motion passes, I will make sure I set aside my time each day to focus on one blog. If I have more time I will surely expand my scope, however, if we all commit to one comment a day, we all benefit.

**CC image by kpwerker via flickr

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

The iTeach Project

Today should be my first day of school. Today should be my first day as an instructional technology specialist. Today I am doing neither.

As I shared earlier, I was laid off from my position this past July and cast off the island by my former charter school. What bothered me most about this situation was that I would not have the opportunity to teach and evolve the position I created last fall. I am currently sitting on curriculum, wikis, google docs, videos, etc. that are going unused at the moment and that bothers me. So I am going to change this.

I am embarking on a project - unnamed at the moment - in which I will perform my duties as an Instructional Technology Specialist without a classroom. Each day I will create lessons and generate ideas that any content area teacher can synthesize with his or her curriculum. I will provide standards, lesson outlines, instructional videos, outcomes, hypothetical student projects, etc. that will fulfill vision that I set out for this year.

I will be turning my blog, iTeach, into my forum for this endeavor. I ask you to join me, comment often, provide constructive criticism, question my methods, suggest lessons and projects,etc. I ask you to steal all of my lessons and pass them on to your Colleagues, Administration, and Parents.

I will also be adding a public google calendar to this site. You may sign up for time throughout the week to chat about lessons or projects that you may need help with. If you are a new teacher this could greatly help. If you are a veteran teacher and are looking to implement technology for the first time or are still nervous about using it, this could help you as well. Sign up for as much time as you need and I will consult with you via twitter, gchat, skype, or telephone.

Beginning next Monday I will start my first unit. I ask you to be a part of this project and spread the word to your colleagues.