Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tool # 11 Self Assessing and Reflecting

1. What are your favorite tools you now have in your personal technology toolbox? Briefly describe a particular activity that you will plan for your students using at least one of these new tools.

I learned how to capture images with PrntScrn and Alt PrntScrn, to drop these in Paint, and to paste them in digital documents when/where necessary.  This will be important for creating lesson materials and for helping students create documents and projects, especially now that iPADs will be available as cameras and/or for image selection and editing.  I would like to get more experience on handling images, limiting image file size, and making student journals of project completion with pictures throughout. 

I can see a need to look into video tools, which I have heretofore cravenly avoided.  Thankfully, I have colleagues who have become really good at this. 

Eleven tools has made me fairly proficient at posting a blog. I can see posting to a blog for each of my three courses, with student comments, and encouraging students to create blogs for their own interests.

2. How have you transformed your thinking about the learning that will take place in your classroom? How has your vision for your classroom changed? Are you going to need to make any changes to your classroom to accommodate the 21st Century learner?

I know that there will be 4 iPADs and 4 netbooks dedicated to my classroom.  I do not, as yet, know what other resources (COWs, computer labs) will be available to me on a regular basis.  I do not know if my engineering computer lab has been upgraded yet.  With class sizes of 20 to 30, 4 devices of any kind will not give all students much hands-on practice.

On the other hand, there is a cornucopia of available tools.  While some will disappear, a greater number will take their place.  I can only trot along and try to keep pace.

3. Were there any unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?

It took WAY longer to complete than I anticipated - two to three weeks!  Luckily, it was hot outside.

Tool # 10 Digital Citizenship

As Abraham Lincoln once said, "Don't trust everything you read on the Internet."
As the sergeant on Hill Street Blues said, "Hey! Hey! Hey! People, be careful out there!"

1. Discuss at least three things you would want to make sure your students understand about being good digital citizens.

First, I want my students to know that "publish" has the root of the word "public," that everything they create digitally, whether text, or picture, or email, or blog, or facebook, or tweet, is public. That their nightmare of standing naked in front of a classroom of people, whether figuratively or literally, could very well happen if they think that their digital information is private. A secret shared is no longer a secret. Their BFF could later get hacked-off at them and share their goodies with the world-wide web. Their BFF could be hacked in a different way, files stolen and distributed.

SecondI want my students to know that digital files are usually semi-permanent, and can become permanent (via backups and backups to the backups, or just some pack-rat person). That employers and prospective employers or colleges could ask for username and password to their social network accounts; what can you tell them? No? Sorry, we have no openings at this time! In addition, there is a legal word, discoverable, which means their files can be subpoenaed (demanded by a court or judge) for leagal proceedings, like the child pornography case for your picture of your under-aged significant other, or the cyber-bullying civil suit brought by your latest victim.

Third, I want my students to know that "knowledge is power" (who said that?) ,but that "there is a sucker born every minute" (okay, I know that was P.T. Barnum), and that many authors out there are like W.C. Fields, they "never give a sucker an even break." In addition, files you publish, including pictures, can be tampered with, or edited, probably in a not good way. Bad people publish bad stuff, and good stuff can be corrupted. If in doubt, see my first quote, above.

2. Share at least one of the resources mentioned above or on the Ed Tech website that you plan to use instructionally.

I like the Stephen Balkam videos. Short, sharp shocks. One minute each. One can be shown prior to each assignment using web tools. Repetition would not be a bad thing.

3. Explain briefly how you would "teach" the idea of digital citizenship to your students.

I think an extensive lesson on digital citizenship would be...counterproductive. Like teaching lab safety at the beginning of the year and then never mentioning it again. I address lab safety as and when necessary, prior to beginning a lab, hitting only the safety issues that apply immediately. And I repeat these lessons every time they are needed. Likewise, I think digital citizenship should be covered first with the district and school code of conduct, but then touched on again prior to digital assignments.

4. Explain briefly how you plan to share the idea of digital citizenship with your parents.

Sadly, both of my parents have "passed," and have not, so far, been able to share anything with me.

Oh. I see. You-all meant "my students' parents." Mainly through the SBISD and NHS codes of conduct, and the electronic media contract, which they must sign and return. In addition, if I see or hear of their offspring practicing unsafe digits, I will certainly call them.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tool # 9 Incorporating Devices as Tools for Learning

  1. Why do you think it is important to tie the technology to the objective?
Using a device or software without an objective is technology for technology's sake, and a huge waste of time and money.  However, good, flexible tools WILL find a natural application to many curriculum objectives.  They MUST be easy to implement and use.  It may be necessary to identify objective things I have never done, because I couldn't, but which can now be done, given the new tools.

2.  Why should we hold students accountable for the stations/centers?

Because students are, ultimately, accountable for their own education. Once they leave public education, no-one will chase them down to cram just one more idea into their heads. That is why it is more important to teach students how to learn than the value of any single fact or idea. It is also important to show students how to be good stewards for their resources - their planet, their water, their homes, their possessions, their tools. 

3. Visit 2 of the applicable links to interactive websites for your content/grade level. Which sites did you like. How could you use them as stations? How can you hold the students accountable for their time in these stations?

Many PhET simulations are applicable to all three of my courses, Physics, Earth & Space Sci, Engineering; some have been used in Physics for several years.

SBISD's Interactive site has an Alternative Energy Project useful for all my courses.

In addition, Google Maps and Google Earth can be used for Earth and Space Sci for satellite imagery of many geologic features, e.g. Grand Canyon.

Accountability is as simple as a list of questions to answer or a verbal or written description.

4. List two to three apps you found for the iPod Touch/iPad that you can use in your classroom. What do you see that station looking like? How can you hold the students accountable for their time in these stations?

My daughter's boyfriend (young, tech-savvy) found me the following (I paid him for his time):

All apps listed are free (or free versions) unless otherwise noted with [PAID]

iTunes U (for downloading lecture podcasts)
Educreations Interactive Whiteboard (create, record and play back lessons/presentations)
BubbleSheet (allows students to answer mulitple choice tests/assignment from iPad with O/L support)
Mental Case Classroom Edition (create flashcards and distribute them via web to student iPads)
Choice-Board Creator (create simple multiple choice flashcards/quizes)
Flashcards* (create custom flashcards, multiple decks possible)
Numbers [PAID] (Apple's iPad excel program)
Pages [PAID] (Apple's iPad wrord processor)

Science360 (various videos and articles relating to science)
Periodic Table+ lite (basic table, with web support for additional specs)
NOVA Elements (interactive periodic table)
Building Atoms, Ions, and Isotopes HD Lite (fill in pro, neu, and ele to match element card)
Molecules (3D molecule rendering)
Science Glossary (its...a science glossary)
PhysicalSci (interactive physical science glossary)
Xperica HD (basic interactive physics experiments)

Quick Graph (graphing for mathematical functions)
Calc Made Easy Free (calculator with automatic note pad)
Units and Constants (unit conversion program)
Convert Units Free HD (same as above.  more simple to use, far less units)
Math Ref Free (reference guide for math formulas)

I see my students using iPADs to take pictures and videos of their work, look up needed reference info as and when needed, especially at work tables (engineering), referencing PLTW powerpoints or examples of devices previously built, looking at Google Maps satellite images (perhaps with wikipedia references on an accompanying netbook, researching projects.

5. What about other ways to use the iPod Touch/iPad? Share another way you can see your students using the device as a station.

(see Google Maps, above and below)

Tool # 8 Taking a Look at the Tools

1.  I learned very little about the Dell Netbooks.  I learned more about them by attending the roundtable discussion in the spring.  Apparently, "we voted" to receive 4 netbooks and 4 iPads, although MY vote was NOT to split, but let each teacher get 8 of their favorite - what can you do with 4?????  Math teachers like iPads and English teachers hate them; must have been more English teachers there.

I was given an iPad for the summer, and my daughter's boyfriend, who has one, quickly showed me how to use it, get registered, and download a whole bunch of free apps.  I will get him to show me how to take, store, transfer pictures in the near future.

Back to the Netbooks - slow to login, have to dedicate a whole class just to get all students to login on all devices, and the batteries apparently won't last a whole day. Great. What software will they have?

I did learn that all the iPads need to synch from my (non-Mac) laptop, so the downloads I got to the iPad will need to be redone.  I'm still not clear how downloading an app and putting it on other devices gets licensed.  If we buy a few apps that cost money, do we have to pay for multiple devices? Who pays?

2.  I have a feeling that two (or three) teachers will pool their devices so that I could use 8 (or 12, or 16) iPads one day, while someone else will use the netbooks (internet? Word? ??), then swap.  I have a feeling that the iPads will be used with little to no training time, but that I will have to synch them every day to get rid of the music and video games that were downloaded.

I sure hope there is a way to lock them up...

Tool # 7 Online Digital Projects

My experience to date with Skype has been as an outside visitor to a class at another school - eighth graders got to ask me, a licensed geologist with 20+ years of practice, any questions they liked.  I got to advertise my Earth and Space Sciences course to kids who will come to NHS this fall.  The only problem was with time lost due to connection problems - Mac only, in Library, connection failed repeatedly, half the class time lost.  I would definitely like to try this again this year.

a.)  As a start for this tool, I would like to use Skype to connect my Principles Of Engineering (POE) class with some working, practicing engineers, engineering professors, or engineering students.  This is already part of the PLTW (Project Lead The Way) curriculum - students are already required to find, contact and interview at least one engineer.  Digital Tools might allow us to do interviews with multiple professionals, but providing access to the entire class.  This has already worked as an in-school visit, but engineers are busy people with access to tech, so...  Interviews would consist of a mix of visits and online seminars.

b.)  Schedule:  contact engineers during August and September; begin interviews with whole class in October; try to schedule one per month.

c.)  Contact engineers via telephone and email.  Students prepare and send a list of basic questions to be addressed (8-10).  Engineer replies via email with a list of other possible topics he/she could address (current projects); students choose one or two via email.  Long class period for Skype interview - 20 minutes for basic list of questions, 20 minutes for description of a real project, 20 minutes for additional questions from either side, etc.

d.)  Engineering is subdivided into Chemical, Civil, Electrical, Mechanical and Applied (like Petroleum Engr.).  It would be beneficial to interview at least one experienced engineer or professor in each subset, and then talk to college students (freshman, soph., junior, senior, grad, NHS graduates!) in fields selected by POE students.

e.)  Hardware available for this year is not yet settled. (Library, in class, lab, etc., classroom computers)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Tool # 6b Using Web Tools, The Sequel

Well, I looked at PollEverywhere, and it looks like it will be very useful.  This is a way to get students actively engaged, but without having to maintain 30 ActivExpressions or set them up each year.  My only concern is whether texting will end up costing kids without unlimited plans...

I got an Edmodo account:

I was concerned that edmodo might be more trouble than other options, but it's an SBISD account, and fairly secure.  I was thinking Twitter might be easier, but people have just hacked into accounts and destroyed files just to take over someone's Twitter account.  That scares heck out of me.

I also got a diigo account, and got into some SBISD and NHS groups without much pain:

I see quicker use of this among teachers, to start, with classroom applications later.

I think I'll wait on Twitter until the security angle has been addressed.

Tool # 6a Using Web Tools - Where Was I?

Prior to my 11 tools journey, I had previously used Skype and Google Docs, and Blogger was Tool # 1.

Skype was used last spring to let a Landrum Middle School earth science class quiz me, a licensed professional geologist and teacher of 12th grade Earth & Space Sci., about geology, without having to go over there, and during a single conference period.  It was facilitated by Quinton Freeman and Jan-Marie Brow in the Northbrook HS library using a camera, a Mac, and a large flat screen display.  The biggest problem seems to be establishing the Skype session, which took half of the time available, and maybe 20 attempts, a real waste of three people's time. Not to mention the whole class waiting at Landrum.  Once established it went very well, with lots of very good questions from the kids.  This would be muuch more attractive if it were easier to do.

I reminded myself that we had all used Google Docs in the roll out of digital SpEd documentation last spring. Practice will be required to make this routine.  If you only use something twice a year, you forget all the tips and tricks.  I imagine that as SBISD distributes more and more docs this way the process will become second nature.

Tools I will now peruse include:
Poll Everywhere - kids will kill to be allowed to use their cell phones in class.
Edmodo - popular and oft-mentioned, a secure version of Facebook is attractive.
Twitter - although I do not, as of yet, Tweet, I can see that it would be a quick way to let students know where to go for class that day - lab or classroom, or what to bring with them. Even if half of them get the tweet, the others would find out in short order via jungle drum.
Diigo - they had me at "best tool for researching."

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Tool # 5 Producing With Web 2.0 Tools

I saw Jo Morgensen had used Makebeliefscomix (cute, Jo) and Wordle.  All of the others seemed to be heavy into videos, pictures or storytelling.  I tried creating a comic on and it was relatively simple, but I ended up having to start over a few times - you can't leave that window for help without wiping your work clean.  In addition, I could email it to myself, or print it, but with no printer at home, the email only sends a link, not a graphic file.  I will post my comic here when I find out how to do it.

Ms. Foofoo's Class

Okay, apparently Jo used Prnt Scrn, or alt Prnt Scrn, cropped it, and pasted it. YOU can click the link above.

With Wordle I thought I'd be clever and create something I need for class at the same time.  I did a search on types of engineer, and put the extensive list into Wordle.  It helps to have a text file somewhere else from which to cut and paste.  With about fifty entries like "Nuclear Engineer" the Wordle had a HUGE "Engineer" and tiny everything else.  I deleted all but about 5 copies of "Engineer" so that it was only BIGGER and all the other words are readable.  I played with layout and color, got something I liked, and saved it to a public gallery.  I saved the URL and the Delete URL in my text file.  Here goes...

Wordle: Engineers

As Bill Nye would say, "Not that bad!" I will probably ask students to brainstorm these first, webless, then give them the Wordle to see how they did.  Note, if you want some words bigger, just add more copies of those words to your text file - 2, 3, 4 copies - and major types of engineering will stand out.  I can see giving my students a similar assignment - they can put a copy in my drop box.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Tool # 4 Moving Up To The Clouds

As I recall, we tried a collaboration using Google Docs last August during staff development.  It did not go well with 4 or 5 groups participating in real time.  To me this sounds great, but the idea of real time edits by more than one person seems destined to pull the Chaos Theory lever - you might end up all cherries, but then again, might not.

My favorite was the Google Forms app.  I immediately thought of Quinton Freeman's "I need/I provide" spreadsheet for testing time.  I liked the quiz generator - I currently have seniors write potential test questions from their notes after a lecture (notes have limited use for prelims, but a list of possible test questions, that's a way to prepare). In future, I could see students taking notes, generating their own questions online, then I would cull these to produce quizzes.  I could see pointing out things they missed in the lecture (adding questions they missed), a push  for them to take better notes for the next topic.

I just had to laugh. I got into Google Apps, thinking "this is new," and got the message "Google Docs is being replaced by Google Drive."  Talk about a quick change.  Then I realized I had been there before, when I recognized the special ed documents I had received and been trained on earlier in the year!  If you don't use it, you lose it.  That raises a question - when will last year's SpEd docs be purged?

I could see producing a department equipment purchase/replacement spreadsheet by sending forms to team members with description, source, unit price, number required, etc.

It's interesting, learning to use an iPAD, I can see just how badly Google wants to compete with Apple. Somebody gonna win, somebody gonna lose.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tool # 3.4 Dropbox

My Principles of Engineering (POE) course requires students to keep detailed engineering notebooks, as well as portfolios of their work, devices built, programs written, etc.  Using our iPADs as cameras, students will take snapshots of their builds, send to my Dropbox, download to classroom computers, edit (change resolution to WAY SMALL for printing), and print photos to paste in their notebooks, bigger prints for portfolios.  Students can make short How-To videos for construction techniques, put them into a powerpoint, submit for a grade, etc.  Last year, I didn't even have a digital camera.

This year, we should make narrative videos of our two field trips, Bridges (fall), and Bluebell (spring).
I will practice doing this with my iPAD tomorrow.

Tool # 3.3 Copyright and Fair Use

Texaco had an exploration and production research lab where I worked for 20 years. Like all good labs there was a library, with three M.S. and one PhD librarians. We had a century of bound journals, and any book we might want (big oil has big bucks).  When I wanted to write a report about some region or oilfield, I would go look up the articles in an index, retrieve the bound volumes, and photocopy the 10 or 20 articles (2-30 pp. each), take them back to my office, read them, use them, write the report, and file them in case more work was required, or in case someone wanted the source material as a follow-on.  All of this was considered Fair Use by Texaco, and by all the other oil companies, too.  After all, it was Research!

In the late '80s we got taken to court over fair use, and the upshot was that our research was for our profit, not for the greater good of the masses, so it was not fair use.  The fine being $200 per page of illegal copying (it's probably more now), Texaco settled for an undisclosed sum, and we started logging all our copies - make an extra copy of the title page and post who, what, how many, etc. on the back; these were submitted to a clearing house who collected royalties from us and disbursed them to the owners, wholesale.

People, this is a very big deal.

The problem for us is that we think "it's for EDUCASHUN, PUBLIC EDUCASHUN, our kids NEEEED it.

I expect we will get in trouble first with our brethren edumacators who have become consultants and make a living off of the content they provide.  I expect big text publishers (Pearson, McGraw) will be right behind them for all of that content they provide, just as soon as our subscriptions run out.

We will need to make sure that when we clone material on 4, 8, 16 iPADs or notebooks, we have license to do so for the correct number of devices.
SBISD has a list of software that is available district-wide, building wide, etc., but be careful - my "building license" for RobotC is only good for one class of computers (20? 30?), not every computer in the building.

Tool # 3.2 Videos to use in class

MythBusters Cell Phone vs. Drunk Driving, part 1 of 3 (6 minutes)

MythBusters Cell Phone vs. Drunk Driving, part 2 of 3 (7 minutes)

MythBusters Cell Phone vs. Drunk Driving, part 3 of 3 (4 minutes)

By selecting parts of MB episodes from YouTube, you cut out all of the other segments in that episode, leaving time for student reflection.  Whole episodes on DVD take an entire class period. This particular episode goes with a Reaction Time lab where students drop, and others catch, a meter stick; knowing freefall equations, distance is converted to time, their reaction time.  Of course, this episode should be mandatory for all young drivers, but we tell them it's for the science, so it doesn't seem like preaching.

Okay, now I'll try copying embed code from  If it works, this is really worth watching -cool science, for Physics OR Earth and Space Science.

Ahhhh, nuts! It didn't work. I pasted the html code here, but when I switched to compose, it wasn't here.

Here's the link, anyway:

Tool # 3.1 Video Sources

1. YouTube, I'm familiar with. Songs got me started, but I was shown clips on Physics that I could show my class; Mythbuster episodes are great science, especially when paired with Claim/Evidence/Reasoning, but DVD whole episodes mix two or three different topics, and take a whole class period; if you can find it on YouTube, you can do just one Mythbusters topic, the right topic, in 15-20 minutes.

TeacherTube was not initially very friendly, with long load times - may take getting used to.

SchoolTube was better organized, but light on content (I'll probably stick to YouTube).

KidsTube is too junior for High School upperclassmen

Discovery Education can be hit or miss on finding the right clip, and video quality stinks - pixellated!

In my experience, streaming works just fine, except during online testing weeks, and bandwidth seems to suffer after lunch, so downloading is the way to go during those times.

There are Physics video shorts on, and there are physics-through-sports clips available on the iPAD.

There are lots of Earth and Space Science resources at (US Geol. Survey) and  See my post on fair trade to see why .gov is such a good choice.

Instructions on how to download or embed video clips are "so easy," taking only 30 or 40 (mis-)steps each. I'm guessing that will take a. handholding, and b. practice.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Tool # 2

Although I found Tool # 2 interesting, philosophy-of-blogging-and-commenting-wise, I felt a little like I had been thrown into deep water and told to "swim" in terms of the actual mechanics of getting it done.
I had trouble making a successful comment. Nobody there to walk me through it once.
That makes me apprehensive about doing #s 3-11 this summer.
Many of these tools look like ones that were in use a few years ago, but they are all slightly different in style, which leads me to believe we will be steered into one product, e.g. google, in order to minimize logins, passwords, styles, etc.  And who will be the new google, three years from now? Remember Netscape?

I can't see how I will moderate my blog - approve/delete comments (maybe I'm not set up right).

I liked Justin Wheeler's blog style, and may offer him something under the table to help me with mine...

The Google Reader instructions were voluminous, but it was easy to ignore most of these and put in several blogs...we'll see how easy it is to monitor a bunch of blogs that way.

I can't imagine wanting to get emails from more than one or two blogs. I'm already getting tons of email that are not exactly spam, from another source, but only a few of these end up providing me with useful information. I can see some very full mailboxes in the future.

BLOGS I ALREADY PERUSE REGULARLY:  Eric Berger at the Houston Chronicle  Dwight Silverman at the Houston Chronicle

I'm not convinced it won't be easier to look at these two blogs on the website.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tool #1: A journey of 11 steps begins with...

This is the start of my journey on the 11 step program. See you-all on the other side.