I Learned Something New Today: Well yesterday actually

I learned something new today, and I didn’t even get in trouble to learn the lesson, which was nice.  Well, now that I am actually finishing my post, I need to say I learned the following concept yesterday. Many people may already know how to do this, but we didn’t.  The fact that I was able to successfully accomplish this, in a a short time, with the stressful week I have been having, made the lesson worth writing about.

About two weeks ago one of the Middle School teachers approached me about learning how to incorporate our Quizdom Student Response Systems with Study Island, a program we use district-wide.  We are strictly a Polyvision District, but you can use a number of student response systems with Study Island.  I read a little bit into how to work out the situation, but CFF Boot Camp and grad school took up most of last week for me.  Yesterday was one of my scheduled days in the Middle School, so I worked with two 6th Grade teachers on the concept.

I printed up a small file of directions from Study Island and in under 10 minutes we had the system working rather smoothly.  The entire process works off of the Study Island site, and you can choose which brand of hardware you would like to use.  We worked on creating our own district specific set of directions’ figuring the booklet would be a bit much for most staff to work with.  I hope to run through the process again with another staff member to make sure they are clear and concise.  Once that occurs I will publish them on our school wiki.

In a nutshell, you open up your Study Island account and pull up which subject and lesson details you would like to work with.  Instead of creating documents to print, you choose the Student Response Option.  From there you follow the prompts and and make the decisions as to how you would like to run the presentation of material. We chose “Teacher Paced” presentation and the content teacher, Jason M., guided his students through a math lesson on triangles. It was going to be a guided review on the topic.

We had the class take their Quizdoms out and log in with their ID numbers, which was just the controller number on the device.  Jason presented the first question to the class and they collaborated on how to come up with the answer to the question posed.  The students worked through the problem, with Jason’s guidance and they answered the question using the devices.  As he was doing this, the special education co-teacher, Traci C. and I were helping students who were having questions about the devices.  Jason then showed them the correct answer and how he could see how the class answered the question as a whole and individually.

After modeling the first problem, Jason continued the guided review with the students solving the problems on their own. After all of the students answered, he showed how the class as a whole answered the questions, then the right answer.  This process built up student interest, especially when more than one answer had a number of responses.  A student who had the answer correct would then be asked to explain how they arrived at the the correct choice. The process worked well.

At the end of class, we ended the session and printed out the results.  We were also able to print out a detailed student response log that listed each student, their percentage of answers correct and how they rated on a scale of ‘Below Basic” to “Advanced.”  This was helpful since we use Study Island as another tool to prepare students for the state-mandated, high stakes, standardized tests that measure whether or not our students are being properly prepared for their future in the eyes of bureaucrats.  Sorry…I became a bit carried away…I just came back from an intense three day training on Project Based Learning, (PBL), and I am posting to my blog about standardized test preparation…kinda, sorta, I feel like I am in an episode of the Twilight Zone.

Anyway, today I hope to follow up and see what other information we can pull from the reports and how we can use it to help the students.  I am also curious to see if any of the information carries over to the students individual accounts and how it affects the teachers’ class accounts.  I hope to have more to discuss on my blog soon.

The Latest iTunes Update: WHY!?!

Yesterday, September 10, 2010, I updated iTunes on my Macbook and started pushing out the update to my classroom iPods. It seemed like no big deal, I was in a hurry so I did not read about the new update, a big mistake on my part. If I would have taken the time to read over what was new with the update, I would have saved myself a lot of stress.

It was just a bit hectic, which is not an excuse, just how my day was going. I had students coming into my homeroom for extra help, when I began updating the iPods, then we jumped into first period. I had a couple of students come into my class second period during my planning time, but I kept updating the iPods in the cart. @bpasquale from twitter was in my room, we were planning out the scavenger hunt our Freshmen will be doing in the next couple of weeks, so I was not very focused.

By fifth period, I had a number of iPods updated and the students were finishing up their blog assignment. That is when one of my students showed me an app that they thought shouldn’t be on the iPod. I have been asking them to keep track of content on them and let me know if they find things on the iPods that should not be there. The app was a game app and my iTunes account ID was in the log in screen, (See image below).

Highlighted by circle and arrow.

Highlighted by circle and arrow.

I could not delete the app, either by holding my finger on the screen to make it deletable (sic), or by going back into iTunes and pulling the app off of the iPod.  I asked several students to double check my process and they siad i was going about the delete process correctly.  Around this time, I was denied access to the iTunes Store, which added to my concern.  I logged out of iTunes and tried to sign back in, when I received a message that my log in was shut off for security reasons…so someone had tried to log in to my account…my blood pressure was rising.  As I double checked which students had access to the iPod in question, I was bothered by the fact that none of the students who had that iPod seemed like the type of person who would try and hack into my account.  I pulled the iPod in question out of class access and focused on the last two classes before lunch.

In the moment I did not think to ask if anyone else had that app on their iPod, which was another mistake.  By asking the students that question I would have seen the multiple apps and known it was not a single student issue, but something much different and less troublesome.  I chose to not bring attention to the issue with students, reverting to I am the boss and” know it all” of the room, ugh.

At lunch I found out that the school web filter was adjusted, political correct terms meaning locked down, so that was probably the cause of getting bounced from the iTunes Store.  No more updates would happen today, software updates need access to the iTunes Store, not just the controlling laptop.

My period 8 Freshmen were working on their blog posts, when I decided to ask one of my super tech proficient students for assistance.  I explained what was going on and he quickly responded, “You can’t delete anything iTunes puts on your iPod.  Did you update to the new iTunes?  If they built the app into iTunes you can’t get rid of it unless you downgrade iTunes…”

His explanation continued, but I lost the words as I realized how much stress I had caused myself because I had reverted to “Master and pupil” mode when I encountered a possibly bad situation in class. I thanked him for the advice and finished out the day, in a much more relaxed state of being.

I can actually laugh about the entire situation now, especially since I can get back into my iTunes account and everything is okay.  I just need to remember that the students are partners in this iPod project and they sometimes know more about the iPods than I do.  There is no shame in admitting that and asking for their help when I encounter issues that are difficult to overcome.

As for Apple, thanks for forcing an app onto my iPod that I have no use for…but I will always remember to read the update details before pushing info out to my class iPods.

The First Week of School: a reminiscence

Well, the first week of school with students is now over.  My ambitious Student Technology Orientation Plan is behind schedule, but I am adjusting well.  Somethings are out of my control, such a s schedule changes, pep rally schedule, Gaggle emails, and class sizes, I just work around these issues.

Day One was the worst day of the week, I handed out my classroom rules and expectations and reviewed them with all six classes…ARGH!  It was tedious and mind-numbing, even with variations and exaggerations, but necessary to review with students.  I did not hand out the iPod Touches on this day for two reasons.  I still was upgrading the software and adjusting the apps on the iPods; over the summer I loaded all of the apps I have tested on the iPods for some conferences and workshops I presented at.  I also had students in and out of classes with schedule changes, so I thought it best to show them the cart and explain the sign out process before trying to accomplish too much in the 40 minutes I have for each class.  We did manage to break the monotony a bit by having some students use the hand-held mini Eno Board to control my Macbook from their seats.  I survived the day feeling much like a zombie after the mindless repetition of the day.

I had some students approach me asking for help to use their own devices for learning.  I gave them a list of free apps that can be used for educational purposes, as long as it is not in a classroom, since it is against many school districts’ policies.

Day Two was another story.  The students were called up one at a time to sign out the iPods, initialing next to their name on a class spreadsheet.  We worked on double checking the ID number on the iPod they use.  It sounds silly, but it is important to make sure they are signing for the correct iPod, they are after-all responsible for its well being during class.

The directions for the day were projected on the Polyvision board, I use the RM Easiteach notebook software to organize my lessons. Students were directed to open up the Safari browser and go to Edmodo.com, which is the platform I use for my online classroom.  The process was helped along in the 11th and 12th grade classes by some unofficial student mentors who have worked with the technology before in class, either iPods, Edmodo, or both tools.  In the two 9th grade classes none of the students had never used Edmodo or iPods in class, but they were smaller classes which makes working with them easier.

The students either signed into Edmodo or created accounts, then used the 6 digit code to join my class.  They students are grouped by subject, then I created small groups for each period.  This will help with class management of information and allow for greater collaboration.  An explanation to how Edmodo will be used can be found on a previous post.  Students were urged to help each other out while the Edmodo class was projected up onto the Polyvision board.  I directed traffic by modeling what do do on the board and floating around the room, once again we used the mini Eno board to control my Macbook. The students introduced themselves to the class by posting a note in Edmodo and then answered a survey question in Edmodo.  They were able to see the live updates on the vote and posts on the Polyvision board.  We wrapped up each class a bit early to sign the iPods back in.

The only hitch was in my last class when the Edmodo site went down.  Fortunately there are a number of students in ths class who have used Edmodo and were already logged in when the site stopped working.  They were directed to work the classroom, showing others how Edmodo looks on an iPod, while I used the static image on the Polyvision board to explain some things.  In the middle of all of this organized chaos I put out a question through Tweetdeck to see if anyone else was having Edmodo issues and a quick Skype message to Edmodo co-founder Jeff O’Hara about the issue.  I had replies from both sources within 30 minutes, but I was too busy to respond back to them.  By the evening Edmodo was back online.

The students enjoy watching me fumble around with the mini Eno board while others tried the board and showed me up.  It is important for students to see that everyone has a learning curve with new ideas and tools.

Day Three began almost the same as Day Two and the students were becoming quite comfortable with the process much more quickly than I had hoped for.  Sign-out the iPods, go to Edmodo, and the assignment is right there.  Today’s assignment was to click on the link in Edmodo to jump to the class wiki and request to join.  I explained that Edmodo is how I push information out to them and the wiki is their platform to collaborate and publish their work. Students who needed to finish up yesterday’s assignments were given time to do so.  They were also encouraged to look over the wiki and the various iPod apps to become more familiar with the tools.  My last class of the day worked on getting caught up with the other classes, they joined the Edmodo class and began posting introductions and completing the survey.

One other difference in most classes was the use of my Livescribe pen.  I received a Livescribe pen at the KTI Summit this past summer.  The pen records sound and pen strokes then uploads them to a computer.  You can push the information out to the Internet to share with others.  The plan is to have students take turns taking notes in class then push the notes out to Edmodo and the wiki as an additional resource.  At this time I am unsure about using the audio recording feature in class.

Day Four followed the previous patterns, students took the Livescribe pen to make a file of record for what we did, students signed out the iPods, logged into Edmodo and looked for the assignment of the day.  There have been a number of schedule changes in all of the classes, so the students were directed to help each other out and get all of the previous tasks completed.  While they were doing that, I handed out the directions and parent sign off sheet for Textmarks.  This will allow for parents and students to sign up to receive text message updates for my classes.  The students worked on getting each other caught up and used to the iPods.

Day Five had shorter periods, we had our first pep rally of the school year.  The students signed out the iPods and logged into the Edmodo classroom.  Each class then followed the link to a Google Form that was embedded into the class wiki.  They were asked 8 questions, such as name, period, what tools they were comfortable with, which ones they weren’t what tools would they like to learn about.   This will give me some basic information as to how they are adjusting to the new tools in class.

Once they finished filling out the short form, they were directed to the Evernote app on the iPods.  Students were to create accounts or log in and we worked with typing on the iPods.  I also modeled how Evernote works on a computer, by projecting the process onto the Polyvision board.  Students practices taking screenshots on the iPods so they could upload them to Evernote, it seemed to be a very productive day, except for my last class.  The announcements for the pep rally interrupted the class, so we stopped signing out iPods and discussed how the week went.

Overall the week went well and we seemed to accomplish a good bit of basic work.  the students are catching on quickly, so we can start getting into curriculum sooner rather than later.  I did not want to overwhelm students by tossing them into new technology and then dumping curriculum on top of that right away.  It would be unfair and many could shut down and be lost for the year.  As for signing the iPods out and back in, we are down to 7 or 8 minutes in my larger classes, not bad considering I have around 30 students in some classes, to under 5 minutes in my smaller classes.

There are a few more basic tools to be introduced next week, along with the first Blog assignment of the year using the iPods, but that is another post for another day.

First Day of School: Less than two weeks away

Ah…the first day of school is less than TWO WEEKS away…and I could use another two months of summer…I have been creating a mental “To Do” list for the first two weeks of classes.  During this time period I initiate my students into the wonderful world of technology in education.   I have them sign up for most of the tools and programs we will be using in class, run them through basic tasks on the iPod Touches, and explain what is expected of them. As of now, I will not be pulled from my classes to be the district’s Technology Integrator, we have not received any funding from Pennsylvania as of yet, so I will be in my classroom full time.  That may change if funding goes through, or some other opportunity, or random happening occurs.

So without further adieu, here is this year’s list, or at least what I have thought of so far…it is an aggressive schedule and if I find the students need more time, I will give it to them.

If the office has my class lists ready on Tuesday when I stop by the school, I can create my class lists and organize my Google Apps for Education accounts for my students.  I can also create Discovery Education Accounts and organize my students Gaggle.net email accounts.  These are tasks I must do for them, most of the other stuff, the students will do in class…which makes my life easier!

Day One’s agenda, I will hand out my class expectations and Textmarks documents, along with introducing the iPods to the kids.  The sign out and sign in process will take almost half of each period.  I am hoping that I do not have more students than iPods, but if I do, I was promised five laptops to help out.

Day Two’s agenda will begin the sign up process for Web 2.0 tools.  I will start with Edmodo, which will be my online classroom platform.  Once they sign in or up, the students will answer a survey question on technology experience, post a note in the discussion board to introduce themselves to me and the rest of the students, see how I will be posting documents for them to access online, and follow a link that I post out to the class wiki.  They should have time to also look over some of the iPod apps once they complete the above mentioned basic tasks.

On Day Three I hope to have them log in to their Google Apps for Education accounts and see how the Documents 2 app works on the iPods.  They can type a quick note and upload it from their iPods to their Google Apps account.  If this does not take too long, I will then have them log in to their Gaggle email accounts.  Between Gaggle, Edmodo, and the Google Apps for Education accounts my students will have extended access to the classroom.

On Day Four, the students will sign up for Evernote accounts and practice using the tools we have discussed in class.  I can do this by providing the URLs to every tool used in the Edmodo classroom.  The students will have their choice of using Documents 2, Evernote, or paper and pencil for class notes.  I will encourage one of the web-based tools since they can access the information without worrying about forgetting papers in their lockers, or at home, or in their car, or a friend’s car, or…you get the idea.

Day Five’s agenda will start with a reminder about signing up for my Textmarks account and a preview of the flaschcard apps on the iPod Touches.  I will have shared out a couple of sets of flashcards in .csv file format via Google Apps for Education.  The students will be able to sync the flashcards to their iPod Touches using the flashcard apps.  They will have time to see how the apps work and possibly find one they like more than the other apps.  I am going to encourage the students to contribute flashcards to the class by creating their own accounts to the flashcard sites online.  I will offer points for the creation of the resources.  This will get the students more involved in the learning process and take some pressure off of me to be the sole creator of educational information for my classes.  I am using only free flashcard apps, so students may have to create more than one account if the “free accounts” limit the number of flashcards they can create.  I will also model how we will use the flashcards on the Polyvision Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) in my classroom.

At some point I will introduce the student blogs, probably Day Six will be the day.  I recently upgraded to an Edublogs pro account.  I am not sure exactly how I will roll out the 50 student blogs.  I may make the blogs mandatory and regularly occurring in my Freshman Honors Civics class and keep the blogs as voluntary enrichment in my other classes, or mandatory with less postings required.  I am leaning towards mandatory blogs with less required postings, it will give all of my students the experience they need in a global society.
Days Seven through Ten will be lab time for the students to work with the iPods completing tasks such as sending e-mails using the iPod Touches, uploading Documents 2 and Evernote files.  Taking screenshots with the iPod Touches and emailing them to me.  I will have the students record audio files on the iPods and send them via e-mail.  The goal is to get the students somewhat familiar with the technology before we jump into the curriculum for the year.

I do have to have students sign up for Animoto using my teacher access pass and my Civics students will need to log in to their online textbook during this time period.  I will also show them how my online Elluminate class will work and allow model the features.  I hope to start online office hours by Week Three of school.  I will use the Edmodo classroom to survey the students as to the night and time that best suites their availability.

I am hoping that the mini Eno board that I ordered in the spring has arrived.  The students can practice using the handheld board to work the Interactive Whiteboard from their desks.  My hope is that the students will be able to use the mini board so they do not have to get up and walk to the IWB all the time to participate in class.  It would not be an issue if we had block schedules instead of 40 minute classes, so I must find ways to save time in class.  I hope that by the end of the second week, we can sign the iPods out and in, in under 5 minutes much like the past school year.

The above schedule is subject to change, especially if we have any fire drills, assemblies, public announcements in the middle of class, and the inevitable schedule changes throughout the first several weeks of school.  I am thinking that the students may need more time to complete the tasks at hand and become comfortable with the technology, but they may just surprise me and run way ahead of the schedule…either way I will adjust.

Smartphone growth spurs rethinking of marketing – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Smartphone growth spurs rethinking of marketing

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App on a phone
submitted

About the writer

Kim Leonard is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review staff writer and can be reached at 412-380-5606 or via e-mail.

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More consumers who use their mobile phones to research and buy products are turning into moving targets.

That’s why businesses including several in Western Pennsylvania are creating applications, or “apps,” for Apple iPhones and Android-based mobile smartphones that point shoppers and service users to their products and offerings.

The article specifically discusses smartphone applications that are being made for Pittsburgh-based businesses. My question is, “Why aren’t schools, specifically K-12 entities capitalizing on this usage?”

Many of our students use some sort of smartphone, why don’t we allow them to use the phones in school. In my humble opinion, students should be allowed to use their technology from home in the classroom. Schools can then use their limited resources by allowing students without their own device to use a school machine. Not only would more students then have access to technology, but many would be using tools they are familiar with and have easy access to.

Teachers would have to monitor students better in class, to ensure they were on task, but why not make school more like reality…give the students access to information and technology at their fingertips. Eventually students will be using the same technology for work, the modern workplace demands it. We as educators need to teach them how to use it responsibly, not bury our heads in paper texts and claim there is no place for these devices in our classrooms.

The Dunwoody Crier – News: iPad for All

Using the iPad will also be cost-effective. At a price of $500, it compares favorably to a conventional portable, which can cost $2,000 or more. As more publishers put their textbooks online and teachers become more comfortable finding their own apps, the iPad will significantly reduce the need for costly textbooks.

Brandon Hall School in Atlanta, Georgia gets education. They are streamlining their technology funding away from obsolete in classroom only tools and giving their students mobile technology that they use anywhere. Take a look at the article and see what I am talking about. Their goal is to go paperless, no textbooks, differentiating learning to students needs.

Granted, the article does not say how the school is funding this initiative, but we as educators buy many things that are offered for free or we can make on our own. Maybe with spending our funds more efficiently and intelligently, more schools could do this.

Of course I am biased towards mobile technology, but why make kids learn in a fishbowl? Let them learn with the tools they are familiar AND can use outside the classroom in the real world.

Posterous: I think I got it

Last week at the KTI Summit, I was shown how to use Posterous.com to create a social media blog feed.  It is easy to use and allows you to post in multiple ways.

I think I figured out how to use the web-clipping tool to work straight from my FireFox browser.  I am still having trouble using the Posterous add on that I downloaded for the main FF toolbar.  I could not get it to load into the toolbar.

I decided on plan B.  I went to this link in Posterous, and just did a click and drag of the icon to my toolbar.  You can see the image below.

Click and drag the icon to your toolbar.

Click and drag the icon to your toolbar.

Once you place it in your toolbar, all you need to do is find something you would like to write about.  Once you find something, highlight it and click on the button in your toolbar.  The highlighted image will be clipped and imported into your Posterous blog.  You have the option of adding your own comments, which is highly recommended. See the image below to see the tab in my toolbar.

Posterous Bookmarklet in toolbar

As I mentioned in a previous post, you can set up your account to automatically push your post out to other social networking sites you have.

Setting up your account this way, with the toolbar tab, allows you post in seconds.  NICE!

KTI 2010: Some things I learned last week, Edmodo

I presented on Edmodo last week at the KTI Summit, but that is not why I am posting this.  I worked formally and informally with many people at the summit on how to incorporate Edmodo in their classrooms.  We worked in the small group sessions, open labs, and even in the dining hall discussing uses and “how to’s.”

I will be using Edmodo as my main classroom platform this year in school.  The main page looks much like a Facebook page, which makes it easy for my students to navigate.  The mobile app for iPods looks like a Twitter feed, it is streamlined and easy to use on mobile devices.

The one plus I brought up in my presentation was the ease of setting up an account and classes.  In a matter of a couple of minutes, you can create an account and classes.  You give your students the class code and they create accounts or log in with existing ones, then they just type in the code and are in your class.  Even if you only run one discussion board a year, Edmodo is the tool to use.  You do not waste time importing students and setting everything up.

Now, back to what I learned at the Summit.  We played with the “public” tab in Edmodo, this allows for any note, file, link, etc. to be pushed out to a public URL, which can then be viewed without logging in to your classroom.  This feature gives me another tool with which to keep parents updated on class events. I can push out my class calendar and any file I feel parents need access to, while keeping other information secure from strangers; all with the click of a mouse.

Another idea we came up with was to group students into general classes, then create sub-groups by period and as needed.  This allows for discussion and interaction between students in different periods, but also gives the teacher the option to push out information to specific groups without everyone else getting it.  This functionality happens by just giving the students your classroom code so they can enroll themselves into your course, then with a couple clicks of your mouse, you can group them as you wish.

I embedded my 30box calendar, that is on the front page of my class wiki, into my Edmodo classrooms, this will allow me to update in 30boxes and show up everywhere I have it embedded.  I can also do the same with a Google calendar or any calendar that embeds in a web page.

Edmodo just enabled the use of folders on the site.  This new development will allow me to better organize all of my links and files.  Instead of having to build a master class for organizing my curriculum, I can just upload everything into folders with detailed names.  This will allow me to open and close information to students as needed, without any hassle.

Last, but surely not least, I have communicate on Twitter with one of Edmodo’s co-founders, Jeff O’Hara on numerous occasions.  He has always been helpful with advice and quick to respond to any questions I have had.  Jeff has also asked for feedback from my students and others to make Edmodo user friendly.  This rates high in my opinion and is the main reason I talk up Edmodo as often as I can.

I have used Moodle, BlackBoard, and Web CT, they work great, but for overall ease of use and free cost, Edmodo is the way to expand your classroom beyond the traditional walls and times.

KTI Summit 2010: Some things I learned last week, Posterous

I have been reflecting on my experiences last week at the Keystone Technology Integrator’s Summit at Bucknell University.  I picked up many new ideas and worked on refining some strategies and tools that I already use in my classroom.  Today’s topic will be Posterous.

I have heard of Posterous before, but never really worked with it.  Posterous is a blogging/social media site that allows you to post various forms of media online and coordinate your posts with other websites you may use, such as Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Here is the link to their FAQ page.  When I got home from the summit, I created an account and in minutes I was up and running.  The site is extremely intuitive to set up.  I created an account, linked my other accounts to Posterous, updated my profile, and found friends who are already using the site.  I have not posted yet, since I have been getting caught up on life after being away for a week at the KTI Summit.  Kristin Hokanson showed in her preso at the summit how to I am looking into the mobile app for Posterous, it may be usable on my iPod, even though it is designed for an iPhone.  The Firefox Toolbar add on is also an item I am looking forward to using in the near future.  The concept is that you can instantly grab web-based articles and information and create a post to be pushed out to other sites.  I will discuss this tool more once I use it more often.

Three Programs You Need Now

Here is my first Tech Tip Blog Post. It deals with the basic practicalities of making your job easier. There are three programs you need right now, and they are all free. The reason that you need them is that they will allow you to work with others and will make life so much easier once you become comfortable with them.

The first one mentioned, Google Apps, is supplied by the District. It allows you to store documents, PowerPoints, and Excel files online. You can not only access them from anywhere there is an Internet connection, but you can also collaborate with others easily, no cutting and pasting, no e-mailing attachments, and all that other rigamarole. New Brighton’s start page to log in is http://partnerpage.google.com/nbasdcff.wikispaces.com. If you need your log in information, please e-mail me. We are setting up student accounts so they can have the same sort of access to their work. By creating accounts for the district we will be able to administer student accounts for such tasks as fixing lost or fogotten passwords. You can also set up a personal account at http://google.com.

The second is Diigo, a social bookmarking site. It allows you to store your favorites, or bookmarks online, so you can access them on any computer once you log in to the site. You can also share bookmarks with other individuals and groups. This allows you to have access to the research of others, once again without much effort. There is a group for New Brighton Teachers, and there are numerous other groups for educators. You can also create groups for your classes to give students access to approved bookmarks for your class in a secure setting, see me for details. The general site to create an account is http://www.diigo.com. Once you have created your own account, you can go to sign up for an educator’s account at http://www.diigo.com/education.

The third program dovetails nicely with existing programs in the district. Many teachers use Kidspiration and Inspiration software to create graphic organizers for use in the classroom. There is a free web-based, (online), program called Webspiration that allows you to do the same thing. Webspiration allows you to upload existing files to the Internet, download files to your desktop, and share your files with others, just by typing in their e-mail address. The people you share with must also have a free account to acces your files. You can edit the files together, or just pass them around by sharing. Webspiration also contains free clip art and media to drop into your graphic organizers to make them more interesting for the students. The program has many other features that I will not get into yet. This tool is available at http://www.mywebspiration.com.

The main themes that bind these three programs together, beside the fact that they are all free, is that they allow you to access information from anywhere in the world, and that they allow you to easily collaborate with others. Let’s face the fact that there is not enough time in the day to accomplish everything we would like to do. By working together, we make tasks easier and can accomplish more in the limited time we have. if you would like help setting up any of these accounts feel free to contact me at school.