Friday, October 31, 2014

ITEC 2014 North Tama PD

In order to digest everything that happened at ITEC this year, and to give teachers a chance to talk and review any new learnings, we've compiled the "Best of" links and presentations into these two Symbaloo pages.  Please feel free to click around and explore!

NT Elementary Symbaloo

NT Secondary Symbaloo

Friday, October 24, 2014

Autocrat and Google Forms

   I hosted a Google Apps Training session that had teachers submit a form, and their submissions showed up in a Google Doc which was emailed to them.  I assured them that this wasn't any type of Google magic, but rather a workflow spreadsheet script called AutoCrat by Andrew Stillman and the New Visions Cloud Lab in New York City.  We didn't get an opportunity to look at it further, so below is a video of how I set that up.

Monday, October 20, 2014

National Day on Writing and Word Clouds

    Today is National Day on Writing sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English in a partnership with the New York Times Learning Network.  The day is designed to give a focus and audience for writing- this year's focus is "Community;" students can use photos, film, graphics, blogs, pens, paper, etchings, graphs, murals or anything that celebrates writing in its many forms to express what students want people to know about their community.

    Make sure to check the National Day on Writing website to find articles, blog posts, and podcasts of student examples and teacher lesson plans for the day, which really extends into November.  You can also find a tweet-up about the event all day today at #writemycommunity.

    In honor of National Day on Writing, I also wanted to let you know of a new add-on for Google Docs which allows anyone using docs to make a word cloud within the doc.  A word cloud is a visual representation of a selection of text that shows the most commonly used words in larger fonts.
Tag, or Word, Clouds show visually which words are
used more than others in a document.  Here, "progress"
is used more in the writing piece because it is a larger font.
  I learned about this new add-on from the website- a great resource for educators looking to use technology in the classroom.  Richard Byrne, the author of, recommends using the word cloud generator with students in a multitude of ways (CLICK HERE).  I see this as a great tool to have students self-assess their writing by creating a word cloud which can show them the frequency of words in their document.

    Students can make adjustments for words that are overused or use the "Define" tool to find synonyms for commonly used words.  Check out the screenshots below to get an idea of how this works.

Select "Add-ons" and "Get Add-ons"

Search for "Tag Cloud Generator" and click "+ Free"

After the Generator has been added, access and enable it
by clicking "Add-ons" and choosing "Create Tag Cloud"

Friday, October 17, 2014

ITEC Fall Conference 2014


I got a chance to attend the Tuesday sessions of the ITEC Fall Conference this week, and pulled away with some great thoughts and resources for integrating technology in the classroom.  Of course, finding time to implement, play, and plan with these tools is always a challenge.  With that said, here's a link (CLICK HERE) to the session handouts for the entire conference for presenters that added their materials.

I am also adding a link (CLICK HERE) to the videos of the keynote speakers (Adam Bellow of EduClipper and Peter H. Reynolds, author of The Dot).  Take your time with these and make an effort to check out the presentation materials throughout the next month or two.  If you have any questions, please feel free to ask your colleagues (me included) about sessions we may have attended.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Creativity in the Secondary setting

       A couple of weeks ago I got to work with a group of secondary educators looking at Creativity in the Iowa Core and how we can use iPads to foster creativity in our students.  One high school teacher wanted to allow his students to use iPads to present over a historical figure.  The students were allowed to choose the app that fit their presentation, then shared their presentations publicly on the web for feedback and evaluation.  One student used an app called Shadow Puppets- her presentation is embedded below:

Another student used Educreations to talk about parts of MLK, Jr's life that inspired her.

A junior high teacher allowed her history students to present their research on explorers by either creating a Weebly website, a musical parody, or an iMovie news broadcast.

Click here for the lyrics to "All We Do is Boat" parody of "All We Do Is Win"- Awesome!

 What a fantastic way to engage our students and get them thinking critically about presentations, choosing the "right" tool or app, and collaborating to create something unique and powerful!