Showing posts from May, 2012

Create Your Own Private Social Network with Edmodo!

Last Friday, I was lucky enough to have a "private" preview of some of the amazing things coming this Fall to Edmodo. I was thrilled to see what's being added and can't wait to share the new features is some upcoming staff development and sessions I'll be delivering this summer.
Then, I asked myself, "Have you even blogged about Edmodo at all?" When I searched through this blog, I discovered I hadn't. How can that be? Edmodo is awesome! So, in case you've not heard about Edmodo, here it is in a nutshell.
Edmodo, found at allows teachers to create FREE private social networking sites for their classes. Sign up is easy and once you have an account, you can create as many classes as you'd like. Each class is given its own unique code. That code (which will look something like uyrdn) is the code you give to your students to join your class. They create their own accounts (or you can do it for the younger kiddos) and enter your cl…

New Google Docs Research Tool is Great!

I logged in to my Google Apps for Education account the other to create a simple document for teachers to check out their laptops over the summer. When I created a new blank document I was created with a present from Google - the new Google Research tool for Google Docs.

Found under the Tools menu, the Research tool brings up a sidebar to the right of your document where you can do a Google search for sites, images, or quotes. That built in search, in and of itself, is a great addition. But, what blew me away is what happened when I decided to use something I found.

Since I was creating a technology checkout sheet, I searched images for "laptop." I quickly found a nice clip art of a laptop and I simply had to drag it from the sidebar into my document. When I did, I noticed a small number "1" in the upper right hand corner of the image. I thought, "No way! It can't be." But, when I scrolled down to the bottom of the document, I found my expectations w…
This weekend my son was busy with his senior English project. He had to create a movie trailer for "The Red Badge of Courage." So he and his project partners dressed in camouflage, headed to the local park, and filmed some gritty war footage. Well, as gritty as three high school kids in camo t-shirts, shorts, and Sperry's equipped with paint ball guns get can.

The came home and put together a nice little trailer using the movie trailer builder in iMovie. Then, they uploaded the video to YouTube. My son was about to write down the web address of his video, when I stepped in.

I hate long web addresses (also know as URL's - Uniform Resource Locaters). They're hard to type in without making a mistake and they usually mean nothing. That's why I love the TinyURL website. At TinyURL, you simply enter the long URL (by copying and pasting to assure you don't make a mistake), then click one button and your URL is shortened! You can then use the new, short URL. (Yo…

Friday Freebie (on a Tuesday): WatchKnowLearn! Video Portal

Today, at our Elementary School we had a a fantastic onsite visit from Joe Thomas from WatchKnowLearn.

Joe, and the good folks at WatchKnowLearn, have taken the legwork out of searching for educationally relevant and appropriate videos on the internet.

Using a slew of volunteers, and backed financially through a generous contribution from an anonymous benefactor, the team has categorized and tagged over 33,000 videos from a variety of sources. Users can search by category or by keyword and the service is absolutely FREE. Should you decide to sign up for a free account (which I highly recommend you do), then you can create a "classroom" on the site and place links to your favorite videos there.

If your school blocks YouTube, as many schools do, there is an easy way to add a YouTube video to your library. WatchKnowLearn then pulls the video from the YouTube servers, strips them of any ads and comments, and the videos are available to you through their portal. They've even…

Even Tech Geeks Get Frustrated!

I love technology. That comes as no surprise to any of you. I love hardware and software and laptops and tablets and gadgets and gizmos. I make my living loving technology. So it may come as a shock to you that every now I want to take a brick to my computer, chunk my iPhone down the garbage disposal, and feed my netbook to a pack of wolves.

Technology, like any man made entity, is prone to break down every now and then. Maybe things won't completely fall apart, but "bumps" and "burps" are par for the course. And, when things do break down,  they seems to form a technological coup and all do it at the same time. Today was one of those days.

This morning I "helped" a group of third graders with a video project. I proudly whipped out a new wireless mic system and they were thrilled. Thrilled that is, until we watched their "silent movie" after we downloaded it to the computer. Then after they left, I attempted to install my new copy of PhotoS…

Proud of Our Military Kiddos

I am blessed to work in the Fort Sam Houston Independent School District in San Antonio, Texas. While we are a Texas public school district, we serve the military dependents of the Fort Sam Houston Military Installation. While there is some truth that "kids are kids" no matter where you go, I have found that military children are a special breed.

They face unique challenges like constant mobility as they move from post to post, deployment of parents as they temporarily relocate to defend freedom all over the globe, and the traumatic impact of injury incurred during battle. But, these kiddos face these challenges with maturity and grace. They never cease to amaze me with their resiliency or their patriotism.

MaryBeth, one of our para-educators a the elementary school (and a military spouse herself) recently posted the following story on her Facebook page. I repost it here with her blessing:
The bus I monitor after school passes by the National Cemetery each day. Friday's …

Tearing Down the Walls

Today, I participated in one of the most unique and engaging conferences I've ever attended. It was the Google Education on Air virtual conference and the entire conference took place online. There were breakout sessions offered every hour and to attend, participants signed in to their Google+ accounts and requested participation in Google Hangouts with each moderator. Up to 10 people could "hang out" in any one session. But those that couldn't get in, or just wanted to watch from the "sideline", could watch a live stream of each session.

The sessions I attended were fantastic. They were led by (and joined by) passionate educators who love teaching, technology, and Google! I learned so much today and made lots of great contacts!
But more than that, the whole experience got me thinking about what I want to focus on next school year with technology. It was an awesome experience interacting with experts from all over the country, and from as far away as the U…