ISTE 10 Birds of A Feather Session ~ Great people, great ideas, great apps shared!

A BIG thanks to all those who attended the IEAR Birds of a Feather session at ISTE in Denver. The turnout was tremendous and the event a success due to all of us sharing apps and ideas. Scott Meech, founder of IEAR and educator extraordinaire (and all around good guy) and I have already discussed how next year we will LiveBlog, create a Google Doc, or create a backchannel for the apps shared. For this year, we will have to rely on my note-taking skills for what was shared in the session. Please feel free to add to this list with apps I may have missed, to correct my information, or add comments.

  • Simple note
  • Finger Piano $1.99
  • Discovery Education Geography $4.99
  • LanSchool
  • iCell Goodreader .99 (allows you to open attachments and google docs)
  • Mobile Air Mouse (allows you to control your computer with your iPod) $1.99
  • Mathsnacks free animation of concepts 4-8
  • Dragon Dictation
  • Iplay and learn free?
  • Easy Relax free?
  • Video science free
  • iBanner
  • QuickOffice HD
  • Louvre Museum free
  • Vincent Van Gogh museum app
  • Toy Story
  • So What: Three Little Pigs
  • Abc dinosaur book
  • Touch Goal
  • PenduGeo free
  • Mag Canvas
  • Draw
  • Sound Shaker free
  • Doodle Buddy (poop stamp)
  • Kidphone
  • Iwritewords
  • 3D brain
  • Newton cradle
  • Trace
  • Alien Equation .99
  • abc tracer and more 1.99 full app
  • Garfield cyberbullying app

Again, thanks to all who came and especially those who shared.

Cross posted on IEAR Ning

Interested in connecting with other educators using iPods, iPads, etc in education? Join the i Education Apps Review Ning. Or check out the i Education Apps Review blog for reviews of education apps.


Professional Generosity

I love that term, professional generosity. I first saw it as the tagline, “Practicing Professional Generosity”, on Lucy Gray’s blog and that phrase has stuck with me ever since. It reminds us to “pay it forward” with regard to our knowledge, expertise, and experience. A PLN is a global example of this, in my opinion, but I had a wonderful experience with professional generosity much closer to home.

On Twitter, about a month or so ago, a local ed-tech colleague was looking for some inexpensive summer professional development for her staff. With budget cuts hitting all of us I thought I would follow this thread and see what I could learn and use for my district. Next thing I know we created a Google Doc of people in the area that would be willing to travel to nearby districts and offer PD with the expectation of benefitting from someone else’s expertise at another time in their district. Basically, I come help you out, someone helps me out, and so it goes…Pay it Forward! I have participated in this kind of situation before, but was excited to see a collection of people willing to participate.

We were on the receiving end of this idea yesterday. Erica Roberts came to teach our tech staff how to use iMovie 09. Now this is not earth-shattering, change the world stuff, but it is something we all have been “meaning to learn” but have never quite found the time to do so. Erica spent about 3 hours working with our tech staff modeling, guiding, helping, and converting us (from iMovie HD users) to the point where we can open the program, know what is going on, and even instruct and troubleshoot with students. My tech staff found Erica to be highly knowledgeable and easy to work with. In short, they loved the training and loved her!

For me, the biggest take-away was how amazing it was that Erica probably spent more in gas to drive to my district than I did on her Panera lunch. And for what? To share her time, talent, and expertise with a group of folks who needed it. Is there the expectation that Erica and her colleagues will be on the receiving end of some of this professional generosity? Maybe. But I don’t think that was Erica’s true motivation.

We are very lucky to have a deep pool of ed tech talent in my area. But think about how this could be done via Skype. Charlene Chausis recently shared an experience with me where she invited Katie Morrow to Skype into Charlene’s high school to work with her teachers. I have used Skype to connect classrooms, but hadn’t thought about using it as a PD tool in this way.

A big THANKS to Erica and to all the teachers and ed tech folks in my PLN who exercise professional generosity every day.

2010 SET Conference Reading/Writing and Technology Links

Sites shared during my Connecting Reading and Writing with Technology presentation:

Link to presentation:

Philosophy of Education

Recently I had to write my philosophy of education; something I have not done since my undergrad days many, MANY years ago. I wish I had a copy of what I wrote while an undergrad. Certainly I must have changed considerably although the way we teach has changed less.

Here are my thoughts. What do you agree with? Anything I missed?

An ideal classroom is a community of learners with the teacher as lead learner. Each classroom should provide a safe environment where risk-taking is encouraged. Children need to discover that it is acceptable to struggle sometimes, that it is okay for things to be difficult sometimes, that it is all right not to understand sometimes for it is from our mistakes that we learn the most. Students must learn more than facts; they should learn how to learn in an environment that is differentiated with regard to content, product, and process. Students will learn best when their learning experiences are authentic and include hands-on learning and manipulatives as often as possible. Parents are integral partners in their child’s learning and should be included as valued members within the classroom community.

Schools must consider the “whole child”. This includes their social, emotional, and physical aspects, as well as the arts. All children can learn and school needs to meet their individual needs through differentiation and teaching to the multiple intelligences. Children need to feel successful, be encouraged to push themselves, and have positive experiences in school. Providing choice for students when appropriate involves students in their own learning and empowers them. Children need to feel a sense of self worth to be successful learners and successful members of society.

Learning should be joyous; laughter should be heard in every classroom. School should provide experiences that might not otherwise be possible. Learning is a lifelong journey and children of all ages need to experience wonder, success, and challenge.

The Online Addiction

BalanceThis morning I came across a post on Beth Still’s Nebraska Change Agent blog titled, Finding Balance. Beth writes about her commitment to finding balance between her online time and spending quality time with her family. This is a struggle many (all?) of us face. Here is my response to Beth’s post on how I am trying to ‘unplug and reconnect’.


You describe a struggle many of us face. Not only is there work to be done (I’ve got my office in my lap!) but I often justify that I am fulfilling my lifelong learning goals by being connected.

It may seem silly, but I find the need to schedule time for relaxation and family/friends. I am trying to flip that and schedule time for online work/access. This will become more important as I have just begun a yearlong, rigorous online A&S certification program.

I have long since turned off my email sounds and taken the twitter pop-ups preference off. This has helped immensely. I check email at intervals, rather than constantly. During the school year this will change a bit due to the nature of my job, but when I am home, I am pledging to be more ‘present’.

I am also not constantly walking around with my phone in my pocket at home. I actually leave it upstairs for hours at a time! There are days where I just can’t turn on Twitter due to limited time. I know I am missing out on some great things, but I also know my PLN is always there; I don’t need to know or read everything.

As for my Reader, I am spending more time reading ‘offline’ when I have the time: on an airplane, waiting at the dentist, etc. Blogs, Readers, email, Facebook, they can all wait. Family and friends cannot.

Gotta run. I’m out the door to walk the dogs. It’s a beautiful day!

What are you doing to create a balance between your online life and your family?

Image attribution:

Effective Technology Leadership

2009leadershipday02Happy Leadership Day 2009! As I watched my twitterfeed today, I noticed the hashtag #leadershipday09. After a little investigating, I learned that Leadership Day was started by Scott McLeod in 2007. The idea behind this day is for bloggers to craft posts to assist their (or any) adminstrator with the idea of being a leader with regard to educational technology. As Dr. McLeod says,

Administrators’ lack of knowledge is not entirely their fault. Most of them didn’t grow up with these technologies. Many are not using digital tools on a regular basis. Few have received training from their employers or their university preparation programs on how to use, think about, or be a leader regarding digital technologies.

There are a list of prompts on Dr. McLeod’s blog entry for this year’s Leadership Day. I have chosen this one:

Do administrators have to be technology-savvy themselves in order to be effective technology leaders in their organizations?

This prompt is particularly meaningful to me due to the fact that I have recently begun an administration and supervision program through Johns Hopkins University in partnership with ISTE, so I have been thinking about the link between adminstration and leadership with educational technology.

To be an effective administrator and technology leader in the 21st Century, one must:

  • understand technology is a critical piece to teaching and learning
  • support and expect the use of technology in their schools
  • recognize and understand the difference between effective and ineffective uses of technology in the classroom
  • provide professional development opportunities for district staff (including themselves) to learn more about effective use of technology in schools
  • budget and plan for the replacement of technology equipment
  • surround him/herself with tech-savvy staff
  • hire technology staff to manage and maintain the district/school infrastructure
  • stipulate accountability for teachers to use technology both personally and with their students
  • communicate the district vision of the use of technology in the teaching and learning process
  • develop a community of learners to foster continued learning with technology

I think administrators can be effective technology leaders without blogging, podcasting, or even having a twitter account. What is important is for administrators to understand the potential and power of these tools and value their use for students and teachers.

Crossposted at

Teaching and Learning with iPods @NECC09

iPod touchMy district will be implementing some sets of iPod Touches during the 2009-2010 school year and I have been on a quest to learn as much as I can about their use in schools. I attended 3 sessions at NECC 2009 that gave me some great ideas and information

Tony Vincent, handheld guru, presented a session called: Do So Much With an iPod Touch. Tony’s presentations are always wonderfully well organized and have something for everyone.

Here are some great apps and ideas he shared:

  • places to look for iPod apps besides the iTunes store: appshopper, mobclix
  • earbuds are available from Walmart for $0.97. Beats having kids share them. Ew!

*Note: Games labeled as “lite” are free versions of a paid application. Lite versions usually have fewer levels or settings/options to entice you into buying the full-featured version. Lite versions often are enough for a school setting.

  • Language Arts
    • Whiteboard Lite* — 2 devices share one ‘whiteboard’. Have students pose math problems to partner, create a list of synonyms together (can be saved for use later)
    • Quickword ($4.99) — word processor, can be used for peer editing: ‘red hot’ words (strong words) make them red, ‘cold words’ that need revision color them blue
    • — once downloaded you don’t a wifi connection, a dictionary that is always with you
    • Lifestrips ($2.99) and Comic Touch ($2.99, also a Lite* version) — create comics, add speech bubbles and effects to photos, the ideas are limitless
  • Social Studies
    • convert YouTube videos into mp4 format (needed to play on iPod) by using
      • first access the video on YouTube
      • then add ‘kick’ to the url before ‘youtube’ in the URL (ie. becomes
      • choose the mp4 format and download
      • drag into iTunes on computer
      • add to iPod during next sync
    • Inflation ($0.99) — see the relative prices of most anything from 1800 to the present
    • Google Maps (installed on iPod Touches as ‘Maps app’ — take a photo of a place/building and use with other maps
    • Allli’s Jigsaw Puzzle ($0.99) — turn any picture into a jigsaw puzzle, let kids put together to review a concept
    • create a list of links for students using
      • creates a mobile website for students to access using Safari on iPod
      • eliminates need for bookmarking in Safari on each iPod
  • Science
    • Flipbook Lite* — create animations of processes or cycles
      • will need a stylus to draw with detail
      • can upload animation or see what others have created on
    • Belkin Mic (or similar) — have students narrate during a field trip or while performing an experiment (will need to put audio into GarageBand on a Mac (or similar audio editing software on PC) if editing audio is desired)

The “Birds of a Feather” session Using iTouch and iPhones for Teaching and Learning, dealt with a huge gamut of topics with lots of folks popping up from the audience to add to the learning. It was a wonderful structure and a rich learning experience. It can be viewed here thanks to Scott Meech for posting the video and the folks at ISTE for recording it.

Here’s a tidbit from the session, Global Connections in the Primary Classroom:

  • Australian teacher Amanda Marrinan has her Years 2s (which is equivalent to first grade, I think), read books into an iPod and then sends the iPod home with the child so parents can hear their children’s reading fluency. She stated that many parents say they are too busy to sit down and listen to their children read. She also has them podcast what they are learning and posts it to their blog.

For more iPod apps, ideas and information please check these sites: