Monday, July 29, 2013

Beat the Dog Days of Summer!

Are you tired of the dog days of summer?  Then it's time to head over to the Ripon Summer Tech Academy happening August 6th, 7th and 8th in Ripon, WI.  Here is what you can expect.

This conference is being organized by Naomi Harm and members of her consulting team as well a few of our own Ripon Educators.  

There are so many great sessions to attend with varying levels of technology integration.  Click here to view the brochure for this conference and get the details on each of the sessions being offered.
There is still time to register.  

This is a fantastic opportunity for Ripon educators as well as educators from surrounding communities. In today's educational world, it is our professional responsibility to keep up with pedagogy and technology integration.  Come and gain some knowledge that will benefit the students in your classroom this year.  Make a difference in the education of today's 21st century learners.  I hope to see you there!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Creative Commons, Copyright and Plagiarism

I keep several sites bookmarked on my bookmarks bar.  One of my bookmarks is from Technology and Learning.  

I have this bookmark because it is one of the best references that I have ever found for Copyright and FairUse for teachers.  This reference is a chart and it is easy to read and understand.

CLICK HERE to access this reference.

Here is another great resource I found on Tech and Learning that covers plagiarism.

Game Classroom has an interactive for students that teaches them about copyright.

It's imperative that we teach our students about copyright, fairuse and plagiarism early on in the school year and throughout.  Parents should also be educated and made aware of these laws.  I recommend sharing these resources with your students, parents and colleagues. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013 - Infographics Made Easily!

Infographics are a tool I have been using for a few years now in my classroom.  I've written about infographics before here.  I usually use an infographic to present information or to have students use the infographic to gather and obtain facts and data.

Here is an example of an infographic we use in our Health unit on the Circulatory System.

Facts About Blood

Notice how infographics present information with a lot of icons, images, and color.  That is what makes the infographic visually pleasing and draws the reader into the content.  My students also enjoy the fact that the information is presented in small sections or chunks.

To find infographics to use in this way, I usually do a Google image search like this one.

While attending ISTE13, I learned about a site called  This site is in BETA. lets a person easily create their own infographic.  I haven't had my 5th graders create their own infographics yet, but after playing with, I believe that this is the tool that would make this possible. 

Here is how we would do it.  First, students would have a topic to study and gather information on.  For my example we could use the National Geographic for Kids website.  Let's imagine that as a class we read a story in our reading series that took place in Australia and that we are using this story to expand and work on conducting short research projects that build knowledge. To do this  students chose to create an infographic on the kangaroo.  
The National Geographic site presents information in an age appropriate way with a reading level that my students can be successful with.  The information is also very factual.

After taking notes and gathering important facts and information, students would then go to the site and choose a template that works with their information. They can then begin putting their facts into the infographic.  They have the option to delete any element on the existing infographic and can even import their own images or icons.

Watch this video introducing does require a user account and password.  The sharing options include to view in a browser, download the image, share a link, or copy the embed code (which cannot be resized and is not conducive to a blog or website). I have sent feedback to to convey that a resizable image would be preferred.

So, back to the kangaroo project.  Students would take the information about the kangaroo and organize it into the infographic using a visual for every piece of information.  There are plenty of objects and shapes to choose from.  Students could also import copyright free images from Flicker.

Click here to see my sample infographic.   Click on the infographic to zoom in.

Here is the downloaded image, but I'm not real impressed with the image quality.

Making infographics would require students to work through the different levels of Bloom's Taxonomy.  
They would need to analyze and synthesize the information in order to use it in a graphic way.  Students would also need to consider combining ideas to create blocks of information.  I love this kind of higher level thinking.  It is also important to point out that students creating their own infographics is another example of the SAMR Model where the technology is moving from enhancement to redefinition. is simple enough for elementary students, but is also a great tool for middle or high school students.  I highly recommend giving a try and using infographics with your students.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

New Technologies Coming Soon!

One of my favorite parts of ISTE13 was learning about up-and-coming technologies.  I learned about making my own ios app, augmented reality, creating interactive games for gaming in the classroom and many other newer trends in technology.  

Check out this new 3Doodler Pen.  This is amazing new technology!

Thanks for showing me this, Naomi!

Today I was perusing through Pinterest and I decided to check out the technology category.  Here are a few interesting pins that I found.

Pretty interesting ideas being developed.  I can't wait to see what the future brings!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Make a YouTube Playlist

ISTE13 brought a wealth of tips, tricks and tools to my digital toolbox.  Here is one that is useful and quick.

Did you know that you can make a playlist in your YouTube account?

Here is a playlist I just made.  It has videos that show Rube Goldberg examples.  

Notice how it is labeled "Playlist" and says how many videos in parenthesis.

Making playlists is useful so that you can easily find the videos you wish to share with your students and have them organized neatly into groups.

Here is how you make a playlist.

1.) Make sure you have a YouTube account.  If you do not, simply create one.  If you have a Gmail account, you already have YouTube connected to your account.  Just click on the More tab.

2.) In your YouTube account click on the down arrow next to the Upload button.  Then click on Video Manager.

3.)  In your video manager you will first see any video uploads.  These are videos you have created and uploaded to YouTube.  To make a playlist you need to click on the Playlist tab right below the Uploads button.
4.) Once you are into the Playlists tab, click on the New Playlist tab.

5.) Give your Playlist a title and description (optional).
6.) Choose the privacy of your playlist; public, unlisted or private. 

7.) Click on the settings tab and choose if others are able to embed your playlist or like or dislike your playlist.
8.) Add videos to your playlist by copying and pasting the URLs of the videos you wish to add.  I found it quicker to have two YouTube tabs opened in my browser.  One with my playlist and the other for searching for the videos I wanted to add.

9.) To copy the URL of a YouTube video, scroll below the video and click on the share tab.  The URL will show up below for you to copy.

10.) Click on the basic information tab.  Click on Add Video by URL and then paste in the URL.  Lastly click on the Add button.  Continue adding as many videos as you would like to your playlist.

11.) When you have finished, click on the Done button.

12.) To share your Playlist, click on the share tab and then choose the option you would like.  You can share the link, embed the playlist on a site or email the Playlist.  There are also options to share your playlist on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other forms of social media.

I hope you find this helpful and are able to create your first Playlist  easily in YouTube.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

SAMR Model of Technology Integration

SAMR is an acronym that I have been hearing quite a bit lately on the Internet.  It was also referred to at several of the sessions I attended at ISTE13.

SAMR stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition.  The SAMR Model represents a way to look at the different levels of integrating technology into the classroom.

Here is a really short video that sums up the SAMR model in 120 seconds:

So as you can see, the goal of the SAMR model is to move from Substitution to Redefinition and to switch from Enhancement to Transformation.

Here is another example of the SAMR model showing how the use of an iPad to promote literacy is moved through the different levels.

I was inspired to create my own example and chart showing how I have used the SAMR model to incude video and interactive web sites to deliver content in a lesson.  I used Thinglink to make my chart interactive so that I could link the different tools that I used onto the image.

How did I do?  When we think of technology integration in the classroom, we should be striving for redefinition and transformation, but keep in mind that our tasks and learning often begin with substitution, augmentation and enhancement before we push the limits to modification, redefinition and transformation.  

I hope this post has helped to make you more aware of the SAMR model as it applies to your profession and classroom.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My Review of the Surface RT Tablet

Thank you Microsoft! 
Can you believe that 10,000 educators received a free Surface RT tablet at the ISTE conference?  And I'm one of the lucky "few".  This tablet has a $495.00 value.  Check it out on Amazon.

When I first opened my Surface, I felt a bit out of my comfort zone.  I did not have much experience with Windows 8. 
It didn't take me long to get used to navigating Windows 8.  I like this video on Windows 8 for anyone feeling overwhelmed or confused.  Humorous but thorough.  

Here are the features I liked that make the Surface RT better than an iPad.  I know you're thinking, did Deb really say, "Better than an iPad?"  Yes, I sure did.  

  • The External Keyboard! - We were given a keyboard that snaps magnetically to the tablet.  And it is one sweet keyboard!  It is flat with slightly raised keys and a very nice mouse pad (works similar to my MacBook Air).  One really useful feature is that the keys play a clicking noise when touched, so there is no question as to whether a key was pushed.  The back side of the keyboard is made of a soft felt (to clean the screen of the tablet perhaps?).

  • The Lock Screen - To use the tablet, you first must set up a Microsoft Account using an existing email address.  You also choose a password.  Then, to get onto your device, you simply click or touch anywhere and enter your password to get onto the tablet.  

  • The Keyboard on the Tablet- If I choose not to use the external keyboard, I can simply use the keyboard on the tablet.  It is the size of a full keyboard.  I am getting used to it.  It seems to be much more sensitive than the keyboard on an iPad.
  • Numbers and Symbols -Notice that when I touch the key to type numbers, I get symbols and a number pad.  I use the number pad all the time on a regular keyboard, so this is great for me.  My only complaint is that I can't rest my hands on the tablet keyboard because it will type what ever I am touching.
  • A USB Port - The Surface RT tablet has a USB port!  Why is this useful?  I can connect my printer with a USB connection, I can connect a jump drive, a mouse, a camera etc.  I have always wished that an iPad would have this feature.  I printed a document from the Surface to my printer with no need for downloading software or fuss.  Just connect the USB from my printer and print.  LOVE IT!

  • The Stand - On the back of the Surface there is a fold-out stand.  It does not close unless I want it to close.  One of my biggest complaints of the iPad is that you have to purchase a cover with a stand to allow the iPad to stand up.  And most covers and stands are flimsy and don't hold up well.

  • Lastly, the Camera.  To show you how well the camera and video recorder work, I took some pictures and created a video for your enjoyment.  You can decide if you think the camera and video are as good as an iPad. 
Photo taken of our back yard taken with the Surface RT.

Make your own slideshow at Animoto.

There are still some features that I need to figure out and work around, such as how to share a video that I take.  I'm used to using the app by Apple to transfer pictures and videos to my PC.  I haven't found a comparable Windows app.
There are not as many apps available from the Windows store as there are from the Apple Store. 

In my opinion, the Surface RT has huge potential in the classroom.   Of course I still love my iPad and will use it as well.  I always find that the more devices, platforms and operating systems I am familiar with, the better.  This goes for students as well.  Students should be introduced to a variety of devices and should learn how to become familiar with them.  After all, devices, platforms and operating systems are going to continue change throughout their lives.  

Monday, July 1, 2013

Gifs - For Added Interest or Create Your Own

A Gif (pronounced) 

stands for Graphics Interchange Format.  Think, "Choosy educators choose Gif!"  

Gifs are small animated images.  Gif is a file format that stores images in a compressed format so that these images are small and easy to send.  When you save a gif it will look like this: twist.gif.

Here is a gif I found on Google Images:

And here is a gif I might use in a health lesson on the circulatory system.

This gif was made with the site  This site lets you make a gif from a YouTube video.  Here is one I made using showing a chicken hatching: allows you to make a 10 second gif unless you sign up for a premium account.  Saving a gif is the same as saving an image.  Just right click and save image as.

Another option is to create your own gif using your own images.  This would be a great way for students to show the steps in a process or to show the parts to a diagram. 

Here are some examples of gifs I made:

For my example gifs I used images from the computer, but another option would be to use students' hand drawn pictures.

Watch the video below to see how I created my own gifs using the site Picasion.  I also show how to use them with Google Docs.

Remember gifs, unlike a video,  are really nice because they are compressed files that don't take up much space and can easily be sent to someone or uploaded onto a document.  

I highly recommend teaching students how to make a gif and/or using gifs in your lessons.