Showing posts from June, 2011

TechSmith's New iPad App - Chomp - Coming Soon!

If you've read this blog before or seen me present at technology conferences, no doubt you’ve heard me touting the “wonderfulness” of TechSmith’s Jing screen capturing software. Jing (which is free) or Camtasia (Jing’s “big brother”) allow you to easily capture anything on your computer screen, and your voice, to create video tutorials for teachers and students.

In today’s mobile age, wouldn’t it be great if you needed to show a student an example – like solving a two-step equation or balancing chemical equation - and you could do it on your iPad? Well, you will soon! TechSmith will soon release an iPad application to do just that.  TechSmith’s new “Chomp” will be a very simple to use iPad app that will allow you to create video tutorials on the move. Open Chomp and you get a white screen and some simple tools, like different colored markers. Hit record and start writing and talking! Chomp records all your on screen action and your voice.

You'll even be able to grab pictures fro…

Stephen Covey Delivers Keynote at ISTE

At this year's ISTE conference, one of our keynote speakers was Stephen R. Covey, famed author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. I was thrilled as that is one of my favorite books. What the program didn't tell attendees was that Covey was only appearing via video, not live in person. While that was a bit of a let down, Covey's address was still great and timely.
He covered two main ideas - our Personal Leadership and our potential to be a Leader for our Students. What follows are my somewhat random notes on Covey's keynote address.

Personal Leadership
Covey stressed that to achieve personal leadership, you need a strong skill set, a strong tool set, and a strong mindset. We must focus more attention on changing our mindsets, our paradigms. This is what led him to the "7 Habits of Highly Effective People." Every significant "breakthrough" is actually a "breaking away" from an old paradigm.

Be Proactive: Take control of what is i…

Great Presentation from Google at ISTE

Today at ISTE, I attended a session on Google Chrome at the Google booth on the conference floor. The presenter, Rushton Hurley, did a super job covering the in's and out's of Chrome.

He started by pointing out that when we talk about Chrome, we can be talking about three different things - the Chrome Browser, the Chrome Operating System (sometime called Chromium), and the new Google Chromebooks.

Anyone can download the Google Chrome browser. I have it and prefer it over Internet Explorer abd Mozilla Firefox. It's sleek, fast, and has some great features the others don't. The Google Chrome operating system is just that - an operating system - like Windows or Mac OS. This system, however, takes users directly to the browser. You don't necessarily need a Chromebook to run the Chrome OS. In fact, you can download it and install it on any machine from  Be warned though - I took a look at it and it's not as easy as one might think.


Great Dialogue at ISTE about the Flipped Classroom!

On my first night in Philadelphia for the ISTE Conference, I found myself at a wonderfully delicious dinner with great educators from around the country - all tied to TechSmith in one way or another. TechSmith is the makers of screen capturing software like Jing and Camtasia and the majority of the teachers at dinner use their software to "flip" their classrooms.

The concept in simple - in a traditional classroom, the teacher ;lectures all period long and then sends students home to work on "homework." Many times, the result is students sitting at home staring blankly at an assignment they don't understand trying to make sense of lecture notes they took. In a lot of cases, even the best-intended parents can't help because they don't understand the material. The next day, the teacher spends much of the period reteaching and then the cycle starts all over.

So, to combat this cycle, these teachers have "flipped" their classrooms. Using simple to …

Geocaching! High Tech Hide and Seek

Okay, I guess with some things, I'm a little behind the times. At the recent "Tots and Technology" conference in Galveston, I attended a session on "Geocaching in the Elementary Classroom." Geocaching is "a real-world outdoor treasure hunting game in which players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using GPS-enabled devices and then share their experiences online." ( The site has been around for quite a while a a lot of educators have found engaging ways to integrate it into their curriculum. I'd heard about Geocaching, but never delved into it until now.

You create a free account and then play "Hide and Seek." As a "seeker" you can type in an address or zip code and you'll get a list of caches hidden in your area. There is usually a short description and a hint or two to help you in your quest. Then, using a GPS or SmartPhone, you try to find it. Or, you can hide a cache yourself …

Mapping Your Workouts for FREE!

Okay, I normally try to focus my "Friday Freebies" on software and websites with educational value for teachers. But I have to share this one with you! I mean, it is summer. It's time for us educators to re-energize and take of ourselves, and that means exercise!

This week I discovered, or I should say rediscovered, the "MapMy" websites. The sites allow you to track your workouts by logging routes, times, distances, speed, and more. And it doesn't really matter what exercise you're into, because the makers of the sites actually have seven similar sites - MapMyRide, MapMyRun, MapMyWalk, MapMyHike, MapMyTri, MapMyFitness (combo of all), and MapMyMtn (for snow skiers).

I'd used MapMyRun before - long ago, before foot surgery ended that wonderful habit. I've since taken up biking and rediscovered the sites. After creating an account, you can map your workouts by clicking on the route you've taken on a map. Enter the time it took you and the sit…

Wow! TechSmith Honors Me With Recognition.

TechSmith, the makers of screen capturing software like Jing and Camtasia, was kind enough to list me in their "20 Educators To Watch" publication which highlights achievement in the area of educational technology. I am truly humbled by this, as there are so many educators out there doing great stuff! I thank all our wonderful students, great teachers, and the great leadership I receive from our central office and school board. We all earned this one together!Educators to Watch

Chromebooks are here! Chromebooks are here!

Google's new Chromebooks have finally hit the market! Chromebooks are netbooks that run on Google's new Chrome operating system and are "built and optimized for the web." Booting up in an amazing eight seconds, the netbooks give you access to the internet through Google's web browser.

Users can access the internet via Wifi or on several models through a 3G connection. Once on, users log in to their Google account. After that, all work is done "in the cloud." For example, users would use Google Docs for word processing, or Google Sites for web design. There are also millions of Apps available in the Google Apps Store that can be downloaded and run from the browser.

Implications for schools are great! Google promises an easy way for schools to manage Chromebooks through a web-based portal. Everything from inventory management to device settings to allowable apps will be easy to control using the administrator interface. Special lease pricing will also be…

A Great Week of Training!

It's been a while since I've added anything to this blog and the main reason is that I've been busy as a bee with training.

For some crazy reason, I decided to schedule five straight days of technology inservice for our teachers the first week school was out. The last week of school is always crazy so I had little time to prepare. I spent all week training and then getting ready for the next day's classes.

But, boy was it worth it! We had an absolutely fantastic week of training. I don't say that to brag about me, but to brag about the wonderful teachers and staff that attended. They all came with great energy, wonderful attitudes, and a strong desire to do great things for kids.

We had a great time with Mimio, Animoto, FunPhotoBox, BigHugeLabs, NetTrekker, Maps101, BrainPop, Glogster, Audacity, GoogleApps, and eChalk!

I can't wait to see the wonderfully designed projects that will engage our students next school year!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

One Heck of a Thank You Card!

I received a wonderful thank-you card from one of our graduates today. The card read ...
Dr. Rios,It feels as if I've known you forever! For as long as I can remember, you've been there to help out whoever needed it, including me. I want to thank you for being such an awesome person and for always being there to bring a smile to my face...I will miss you more than you can imagine next year."I'm not sharing this to brag. I'm sharing it to remind my fellow educators of why we do what we do. Teaching is tough and we tend to fixate on the things that aren't going the way we want. We need to remember that the vast majority of the students and the parents we deal with our wonderful people - people who appreciate and respect what we do.

My advice to all teachers (listen up Ariana - you'll be one soon) is to start a "Feel Good" file. Anytime you get a note like the one above, save it. The, when your back is up against the wall, when the state-mandated tes…

Jamming in the Job!

The life of an educator can be stressful - really stressful. So, every now and then teachers have to have a little fun!

At Fort Sam Houston ISD, there's a group of us that relieve our "end of year" stress by jamming in the job with our musical group - School Supply. (Okay, that's a cheezy name, but we like it!)

The group started a few years back. I traditionally created an end of year video montage and put some sappy song in the background. One year, I decided to jazz up the slideshow by having a group of us play live along with the slideshow.

The following year, we added a warm up song. This year, we played four warm up songs. The staff really liked it and it helped end our year on a fun note! (Pun intended.)

Here's a brief video highlighting some of our performance. Enjoy!