IFTTT

My IFTTT recipe experiment worked…I posted earlier today about combining IFTTT with Edmodo. The post was hashtagged with #IFTTT, which my recipe was to automatically push into my Instapaper account.

The recipe worked as directed. Once the post was published, I received an email from IFTTT that the recipe was activated.
I added another step, but not through IFTTT, I set up my Instapaper account to automatically push out to my Tumblr account. This was set up for strictly educational purposes, so I can direct my students to the account. It still does not meet the goal I am trying to achieve; information posted directly to an Edmodo group using a recipe, but it is a step in that direction.

For now I can use IFTTT to push out recipes and then send an Edmodo alert to students who are participating to the various sites via supplied links to perform the tasks. It is not as fluid as I would like, but it will work for now.

Edmodo and IFTTT

I recently came across a post about a concept called IFTTT, “If This Then That.” I believe I came across an initial post in Edmodo or Twitter and ran with it from there. My path took me to the following blog post by Laura Gilchrist. In a nutshell, you can preset some basic actions for your computer or smartphone called “recipes.” Recipes can be automatic actions where all you do is sit back and watch the presets play out, or they can be latent actions that need your prompting to begin. A more thorough explanation can be found on their website by clicking here.

I played around with the concept last night thinking how it can be incorporated into my classroom. There are many pre-made “recipes” on the IFTTT web site, I grabbed one to use for my personal use, with just a touch of my smartphone screen. The recipe automatically searches for free children’s Kindle eBooks and sends me an email when one is released by Amazon. I had two emails about free books within eight hours of setting up that recipe.

I also created my own recipe for classroom use in a matter of a couple of minutes. I clicked through the prompts on the IFTTT site to take any blog posted here on my Edublogs site with the hashtag #IFTTT to be fed to an Instapaper account I set up. This step is what made the process take several minutes instead of several seconds. My goal is to find a way to grab information that I either find or create and quickly push it out to my students to work with in my classrooms. This will be my first attempt to see if my recipe is a success.

At this juncture, I wish it bring Edmodo into the equation. Edmodo is not currently partnered with IFTTT, so I do not think information and actions can be pushed directly into my classes. I tweeted

@edmodo would love to see a way to work with @IFTTT for educational use.

My thinking behind this is…(drumroll please)…being able to create recipes to push information out to my students even more quickly and easily than I can currently. Yes, this is stated above, but… The goal would be to create spontaneous learning groups, to get the students to learn outside of the classroom. At first, maybe have the students post a comment about an article I find, or a picture that is posted…all assignments would be voluntary at first and count as enrichment assignments. The assignments could grow into the students posting more than written comments in response to my information. Podcasts, vodcasts, vokis, and other such multimedia presentations can become responses. The end goal would be for students to begin using IFTTT recipes on their own. They could be used for my class, other classes, or just personal use.

As a social studies teacher my ultimate goal is to ensure that my students have the tools and knowledge to be successful in life. This concept will hopefully help build solid citizens in both the physical world and the digital realm that we now live in. I want them to be positive contributors to society, and I believe that most of them are doing just that, however it is important to keep improving into the future.

Rock and Roll by the Velvet Underground 1970 | John Larkin

Rock and Roll 0

by John • History, Life, News • Tags: , on July 16, 2011

“Rock and Roll” by the Velvet Underground. A remarkable film for a remarkable song.

I was too young to appreciate the Velvet Underground when they originally released their albums during the 1960s. Besides, I seriously doubt that they were given air time on Australian radio at the time.

In 1974 or 1975 my older brother Paul bought the album “Rock ‘N’ Roll Animal” by Lou Reed. During the concert Reed and his band performed “Rock and Roll”. I was hooked.

Later, during my first year at university I met a chap named Paul who was a fan of Reed, the Velvet Underground, Iggy & The Stooges, Radio Birdman and similar artists. Paul had an amazing collection of live recordings of these performers on cassette tape as well as an impressive collection of albums. He allowed me to borrow a copy of one of his Velvet Underground LPs and I heard “Rock and Roll” in it’s originally released form. It blew me away. You can hear it as the soundtrack to the short film in the YouTube video above.

The song was originally released on the Loaded album in 1970. I have since collected other performances of the same track by the Velvet Underground, both live and in the studio.

“Rock and Roll” is one of those songs that makes me stop. It takes precedence at that point in time. It defines the moment. It defines me.

Another fantastic post from an Educator that I follow on my social networks. Not only am I a big fan of this post because I like the Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, but John publicly shows the human side of educators. John often posts ideas on his blog that are not directly related to formal school learning, but fit more of a life experience/cultural genre.

As an educator in the United States we constantly hear from administrators, politicians, and unions to be cautious, even fearful, of social media. I myself am still guarded as to what I post on my sites; sticking mainly to straight educational tips and topics.

This needs to change, we as Educators need to show students, parents, and anyone who is watching that we have a human side. We need to use the forum of social media as an informal educational tool. Pique the curiosity of others by exposing them to ideas and concepts they may never otherwise experience.

Student Math Projects

One of our high school math teachers, Kerri Heymann, @kheymann on Twitter, recently had her Algebra students create a neat project to help other students in the school.  The idea is not new, but it is useful; the students created screencasts of math problems and posted them on the Internet for other students to use as a review resource.  You can find the screencasts here.

The process was simple, students paired up, chose a topic, designed several problems and directions to solve them, then recorded their examples.  Kerri then posted the link to the videos on her school Edline page and her Edmodo classroom.  Now for some name dropping to explain the details…

The students set the problems up on the Polyvision Boards using RM Easiteach software, Kerri set up a free account and a channel on Screencast-o-matic, which the students used to record their explanations.  At this time I would like to thank fellow technology coaches, Jason Henry, John Deihl, and Carol Roth who helped with the recording ideas.  I could not find a way to record directly with RM Easiteach, and they helped clarify that you cannot do so at this time and suggested alternatives.  The students then came into several staff classrooms to record their presentations without distractions.

The students were comfortable with using the Polyvision Boards and Easiteach, we run both the Next Generation and older versions in our district.  Screencast-o-matic took them all of about 10 seconds to learn; the process went very well…the hardest obstacle the students had to overcome was giggling or shyness during their presentations.  The best part of the project was the independence of the students.  We sat back and waited to assist if necessary, but the students handled their issues well.

As a first step, the project went very well, we are already planning expanding and improving upon things for next year.  Hopefully the students can help pull other staff members into similar projects next year.  After all, students are the best at pulling hesitant staff into the realm of classroom technology use and making these tools a part of everyday life.

New Brighton Story Walk 2011

This past Saturday, March 5, 2001, the New Brighton Elementary School had it’s annual story walk.  The story walk has been going on for about five or six years.  I have taken my daughter the last two years, she thoroughly enjoys the day.  The staff from several of our schools, and in some cases their families and former staff, come in school and create a family reading, craft, and fun day for several hours.  Laura Fryer, our Elementary Librarian organizes the event and works on getting the funding through various grants.

The story walk itself consists of a number of areas where students are read stories and get to create crafts related to those stories.  There are several other stations where they can make a healthy snack, play in the gymnasium, or listen to music.  Every child in attendance gets to choose a free book to take home and keep forever.  It seemed like many of the children remember this fact, because the books were rushed right off the bat.  For awhile we were unsure if we would have enough books, but the demand evened out and we did have a number to keep for next year’s event.  This year there were 5 or 6 stations with the event having on overall open theme.  Last year, the theme was a story from every continent.

This year over 260 children and their families attended the event, a marked increase over the past couple of years.  A number of parents gave unsolicited feedback about how they enjoy the event and their kids look forward to it every year.  It would be nice to think that the numbers will continue to improve, bringing the community together with the school and strengthening the overall relationship.

With budgets shrinking or being gutted, we are already brainstorming ways to fund the endeavor next year. The goal is to ensure that we can meet the growing demand and allow all the children to participate fully in the event.  We believe we can make it happen with some help from the community and others in our personal networks.  Hopefully next year’s post will talk about how the numbers continue to increase and have more success stories of collaboration between our schools and the community.

‘Kelsey’s CHRISTmas’ brings smiles to kids – WeirtonDailyTimes.com | news, sports, jobs – Weirton, Hancock County — Weirton Daily Times

‘Kelsey’s CHRISTmas’ brings smiles to kids

December 31, 2009

“Kelsey’s CHRISTmas” is a holiday collection and distribution effort conceived by 17-year-old Kelsey Andrews in memory of her sister Kristin, who lost her battle with cancer in 2007.

“This year’s ‘Kelsey’s CHRISTmas’ left the staff at UPMC?Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh speechless,” said Joan Andrews, mother of Kristin and Kelsey.

This article is over a year old, but still very relevant. We took my daughter to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh for a check-up last week, it was one of two regularly scheduled trips there each year. Since it was during the holiday season, she was given a teddy bear from one of the nurses, compliments of St. Jude’s and she received a set of pajamas too. The pajamas were in a ziplock baggy with a label, “For Someone Special From Kelsey’s CHRISTmas.”

Being naturally curious, I Googled “Kelsey’s CHRISTmas” and found the article. It is great to see that this was at least the second year in a row that something was organized for the children and staff at the hospital. There was no other information about the effort, I even checked Facebook to see if there was a group. I just wanted to say, “Thank You,” and bring attention to the efforts of those who put this together. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

ePub Bud – Publish, Convert, Store, and Download free children’s ebooks online for the iPad!

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This site came across my PLN on Twitter over the weekend. I forget who Tweeted the link and I apologize for not being able to give them proper recognition for the info…sorry. I think the site has many positive implications for education. In the day of shrinking budgets, who can afford to ignore free resources? The site is easy to use and you can view the ebooks on platforms other than an iPad.

I downloaded the free FireFox add-on and in minutes read a Dr. Seuss book to my daughter. It was just scanned images from the hard copy, but she enjoyed it. Imagine doing the same thing over an LCD projector onto an interactive whiteboard in your classroom? The students would go nuts, allow them to round robin read and turn the pages with the click of a mouse…even the high school students would enjoy it.

I forwarded the information to the administrators in my district, hopefully they will find the information as interesting as I did. At the minimum, I hope they look into the site, we could use any free help we can get!

Online Resource info from Capella

The powerpoint has more information than I have time to research., though I started a Slideshare account so I could download the ppt. It looks as if I can move forward with my plans even if the school does not go with school-wide Blackboard next year, just a lot more work on my part. Link to powerpoint is on my Twitter and here:   http://www.slideshare.net/capelladoc/social-networking-tools-for-instructional-designing/