Thursday, January 31, 2013

Twitter: "Fat guy in a little coat" ?
   #FAILWHALE - what, yes today while trying to connect many of us got the Twitter Fail Whale stating that Twitter was over capacity.  While many of us have been sticking to those New Year resolutions & shedding the pounds, it appears Twitter continues to grow.  To quote my favorite film of all time it appears Twitter is a:

"Fat guy in a little coat"

     If you are like me you can't read that without singing it a little bit.  None the less unlike when we need larger pant sizes, this is not a bad thing.  So Twitter techs get on it, let out those pants & get yourself a bigger belt.  Keep up the good growth and lets all do our part to make sure this is a constant problem they have to address.

     Here is the best tweet I have seen at #overcapacity.  You have to admit the feat is pretty impressive!!!

Laur ‏@IharoldObsessed
Nothing is impossible! Twitter proves it by showing you that 8 birds can carry a fat whale. #overcapacity

Here is the official statement from twitter's help page:

Twitter is over capacity
"This message likely means that our servers are being bogged down by a high volume of Tweets. Wait a little while, then refresh your browser to try loading the page again. If you continue to see the whale error page (below) repeatedly during a short period of time, please check out our Status Blog, where we keep you updated about site outages and issues. Thanks for your patience!"

Hopefully by the time I finish writing this I'll be able to get on & post it.  Dream the impossible dream my friends, if Whales can fly anything is possible!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Hanging out with Google+: "Tech in the Classroom"

Photo Credit: Liz Meyer
     Last night I had the pleasure of taking part in a Google+ Hangout on "Technology in the Classroom" hosted by Great Heights Communication & Ohio eTech.  Roger Minier, of Northwest Ohio Educational Technology, John Case, the Tech Coordinator for Hi-Point Career Center, & I took a look at Technology in the Classroom.  Along with the discussion there was also some Q&A from twitter @ #OETC13 afterward.  If you want to watch the discussion you can take a look at the video down below.  

     The Google+ Hangout itself was a great experience & I look forward to more opportunities to "Hang Out". Charlie Joslin was our moderator & did a great job asking the questions. The flow was very smooth for four guys in four different locations across the state. What was cool was that during the broadcast Ohio eTech ran a simulcast where viewers watched live & then immediately after, the video was available on YouTube.

     If you havn't given Google+ Hangouts a try you should. There are many different ways to use it including watching/discussing YouTube videos, Sharing your screen for presentation or tech help purposes, collaboration on a Google Doc (you can even edit it together in the hangout), or even playing a game of virtual ping pong (yeah pretty cool, you'll have to try for yourself). All of this while having 2-10 or so people with audio & video feed that automatically adjusts to focus on whomever is currently speaking.
     The ways to use this in the classroom are numerous. Since last night my mind has been spinning with ideas, to the point I wish I could switch one of my eTech sessions to "Hanging out at School: Why it's taking on a whole new meaning". Perhaps that can be my next blog post...(that folks is a tease), I know you can't wait. For now I'll throw out a few...
  • Collaboration with experts in the field 
  • Editing & Collaboration "buddies" at sister schools. 
  • Afterschool (in the evening) book clubs or YouTube clubs. 
  • Google+ Hangout for Community Tech Help (everybody needs good PR right) 
  • many more
     Of course there are also many ways to use this for professional development & collaboration between teachers.  The teacher lounge is going virtual which means I can discuss with the teacher across the hall, across the country, across the world & for Higher Ed online courses this is a game changer as well.  By adding hangouts to your online course you can make those connections with students which can make a course more meaningful.

     Bottom line, give it a try.  If you want, tweet me & I'll try to hangout with you if I'm available so you can give it a try.  Maybe we can play some Ping Pong together.  For now check out the video of our hangout & start brainstorming some ideas.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Learning w/ Education K-6

     Took a look at Education City today, an online content provider for Pre-K through 6th grade. Over the last six months we have been looking at online content providers for our elementary schools & out of all the ones out there, in my opinion, Education City is in the top two along with Compass Learning. Quick disclaimer, it is not free, but the building license per year is fairly reasonable.  As always, you can usually piece a lot of web 2.0 tools together to equal, but Education City packages activities, tests, & interactive resources all together in one place with  student data & tracking.  Making access easy for your teachers & your students.

     In their own words, Education City "provides lesson starters, interactive reinforcement activities, tests, individualized remediation, and reporting for progress monitoring".  All of this is mapped to both state standards & Common Core. To take a quick tour watch the video below.

          The best feature in my mind (if you have IWB's) was their "topic tools" which are interactive white board based resources.  They have these created for each subject area provided.  For example Science topic tools include things like: Food Web, Mind Map, Evaporation, Habitats, Magnets, Body Systems, Force Meter, Grow a Plant, & more.  Math topic tools include: Angles, Money, Area & Perimeter, Grids, Charts, Number Lines, Symmetry  Thermometers, Volume & Surface Area, Fractions, Time, Mental Math, and more.  Language Arts topic tools include: Sentence Builder, Story Scape, Idea Generator, Word Wheels, Sound it out, & many more.  All of these topic tools can be used without an IWB, but with one they become great for whole class participation, learning, & review.

     One of the negatives that I didn't like was that with the site license it seems that while teachers get access at home students do not.  For a web based product it would be nice to see an option that allowed student log-in access from home.  Without that, this product is limited to the school day/building.

   Those are my thoughts, to check it out yourself & get a free trial of Education City click here 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

4 ways for non-twits 2 get Tweets
     If you work in a position like mine you won't go long before hearing a teacher say, "Yeah, but I don't do that", "I don't see the point", or my personal favorite, "I'm not techy like you, I'll never get it".  (Wonder what they do when their students respond like that...hmmmm?) No doubt they often have good reasoning to feel the way they do.  Lack of planing time, history of poor implementation, insufficient PD time offered,  slow tech support, poor leadership, Bubonic plague, the list goes on & on.

The point: we all know not every educator sees the value in social networking or in some cases the extent to which it actually exists.

The problem: there is a great web of resources & ideas out there they are not plugged into or even aware about.

The Challenge: to open their eyes to what is out there & getting them caught in the web without using drugs, clubs, or pile drivers.

The Solution: oh you didn't think it was going to be that easy did you. In reality the solution is to be as flexible as possible & have a Texas size arsenal of tools at your fingertips in order to differentiate (this is now a better article just by using that word) & meet teachers where they are in order to take them where they need to be.

In order to add to your tool belt, check out these four ways for those hesitant, or unwilling to get a twitter account, to still follow your tweets & valuable hashtags.  If you have a twitter account you can sign in on any of these, but you do not have to have one in order to access them.
  • Tweet Chat - The simplest of the three, TweetChat, allows anyone to type in a word (hashtag) & search twitter.  The hashtag is actually already assumed so you don't even have to really explain hashtags, although if you do there is greater benefit.  Start out with #edchat, #edresources, or #edtech.  Give them subject specific #'s like #elachat #sschat #mathchat or #scichat.  If teachers in your district regularly tweet make sure & create a district hashtag which you can also give to teachers.  In Reynoldsburg ours is #RPLC which stands for Reynoldsburg Personal Learning Community.  To claim a hashtag (or make sure no one else is using it) go to tagdef & search the hashtag you would like to use. You can also register hashtags at twub (more info on twub below) Finally, if there is nothing either place than test it, if it looks unused define it at tagdef, register it at twub & give it to your teachers to use.  This will allow those that don't have twitter accounts to still follow along.  Who knows eventually you might win them over if they begin to see it as a valuable resource.
  • Twitterfall -   More complex than Tweet Chat, but my favorite for using in a class or presentation. Twitterfall gives you the ability to search multiple hashtags at once as well as lists or by location.  Again, you do not have to sign in for it to work, so anyone can view tweets or even chats without having a twitter account.  It feeds the information live which makes it great for running a discussion & allowing the class/audience to participate. One thing to point out, they have added a nice feature called "exclusions". This is great for entering words you don't want to see pop up, then hide it so the words do not show.  Example, during Hurricane Sandy one popular retweet on #hurricane included the F-bomb. Well that could cause some havoc if you had that running during class, so simply put that in the exclusion area & tweets containing excluded words will not be shown.
  • Twitscoop - This is the in-between solution for those that want to search more than one # like TweetChat, but feel Twitterfall is too complicated.  Twitscoop will allow you to search up to five hashtags under the search link.  It does not drop them live like Twitterfall, but it will auto refresh whichever one you have selected.  Another interesting feature of Twitscoop is that it shows what is buzzing right now with interactive words that are trending which grow or decrease in size by the amount of times they are appearing in current tweets.  Great for (literally) current event discussions, although beware not all words are always appropriate so use at your discretion.  Interestingly enough as I write this Congress, fool, & mess are all trending.
  • twubs (Twitter Hubs) - Here is where you can register & promote your twitter hashtag, but it also can be a resource for those teachers without a twitter account.  Just like TwitterChat you can enter any hashtag & search.  The results will pop in a live feed that continually updates.  If you have registered your own unique # you can promote it here & even design your page, including links to other websites about your district, class, or organization   Check out twubs #RPLC as an example.  One note on registering hashtags, there is a lot of info out there about it, but no one can really own a hashtag.  The main reason for defining & registering is so others can see it is already in use.  However, if push comes to shove you do have the upper hand if you were the first to define & register.
Hope these four tools will allow you or those you work with greater access to the educator's world of social networking.  It is an amazing source of resources, ideas, creativity, & motivation.  Let's work to get every educator tapped into what's out there.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Don't fly off the "Treadmill": The 3P approach

     Do you ever feel as if you are falling off the treadmill?  The "Treadmill" can take on many different names.

*The Treadmill of Life *Education Treadmill *Technology Treadmill *Parenting Treadmill *Dating Treadmill *Dieting Treadmill *Student Treadmill *Political Treadmill  (so on & so on)

     The fact is all of us have multiple areas of our lives & for numerous reasons we often feel as if we cannot keep up the pace that is being set.  Why is it that we often feel as if we are flying off the proverbial "Treadmill"?

     In order to stay on your various "Treadmills" I recommend the 3P approach; Purpose, Plan, & Practice.  For the purpose of this blog I am thinking through my Educational Technology lens,  but I believe these can be applied to any "Treadmill" in your life.
  • Purpose - For everything you do, have a purpose.  Always ask yourself why am I doing this & let the answer guide you forward.  If you don't have an answer, perhaps you need to rethink why you are doing it or learn more to understand why you are doing it (or why it is being required of you).  Running on the "Treadmill" will get tiring, difficult, & even painful.  If you don't have/understand the purpose you are more likely to give up when it begins to get tough. If you understand the purpose you will have motivation to hang in there & endure through the tough times.
  • Plan - Once you understand the purpose for getting on the "Treadmill" you need to come up with a plan.  As the saying goes, "those who fail to plan, plan to fail".  Don't just jump on & hope for the best.  As you will see in the second video below that often leads to epic fails!  What speed will you go, how steep an incline will you set, do you have water or towel nearby, is your iTunes playlist set, how will you get help if needed?  All of these are questions to think about & apply however they relate to the particular "Treadmill" you are running on.
  • Practice - Purpose gives you the drive, Planning gives you the opportunity, but continual practice is the only way you become proficient.  Don't start out at 10 mph & then get frustrated when you fall off.  Stay consistent & do things again, & again, & again.  As you practice you will gain confidence & the "Treadmill" will be come less work & more fun.  You will make things that were once difficult (& still often times are) appear easy.
     Take a few minutes (it's well worth it) & watch the two videos below.  They both include treadmills, but in very different ways.  Analyze & think about the differences between the two videos as well as what they represent.

OK Go - Here It Goes Again
Here we have guys who had a purpose, planned out what they wanted to do, & no doubt practiced until they made it look easy!

The Ultimate Treadmill Fails Compilation

Here we have instances where little purpose, planing, or practicing have taken place.  The results are predictable & hilarious.

Have Purpose, Plan, & Practice for all your "Treadmills" in life & just maybe you will have a bit easier time staying on & accomplishing your goals!


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tech Resources 101: Start Climbing

Pic from @mcleod -
     Are you hanging on the technology cliff or still at base camp wondering how to get started?  At least if you are reading this post you havn't packed up & headed home, so the fact you are still at base camp is a plus.  Perhaps you have not started climbing because you're wondering, "How will I ever get to the top?"  Good/Bad news is you never will, but once you accept that fact then it is all about the journey, not the destination.
     Innovation & new resources will never stop coming, but as you climb the experiences & opportunities you provide for your students will give you a new outlook on education.  If you ask those that are climbing I think they would all agree that the air is fresher up here.  It is frustrating to look down & see others not climbing, but there is nothing more encouraging than seeing a colleague strap up their boots, grab some hooks, & join you on the mountain.
     If you are looking for a way to get started check out some of these 5 great sites/blogs/resources below & bring encouragement to those in your school who are already climbing.  You never know, maybe you'll inspire someone else to turn around & come back to base camp, & join you on the mountain.

Free Technology for Teachers by Richard Byrne
This blog is the best out there for current resources often coupled with ideas of how to use them.  Great part is this is his blog so he is constantly putting out new posts/resources daily.  Follow Richard on Twitter @rmbyrne

50 Education Technology Tools Every Teacher Should Know About by edudemic
Here you will find 50 great tools to look though & add to your tech tool belt.  Categories include: Social Learning, Learning, Lesson Planning & Tools, Useful Tools.  You won't walk away empty handed from this article.

Box of Tricks is an Educational Technology site that has a list of A-Z resources.  This site has over 200+ resources with explanations of each one. That means there are enough to pick one to use every day or one a month during the school year for 25 years!  

Technology in the Classroom: Resources for Teachers by Teacher Vision
This site has a plethora of resources labeled under different categories.  Categories include: Whiteboard Mini-Lessons, PowerPoint Resources, Digital Books, Word Processing Resources, Best of the Web, Internet Resources, Videos, Integrating Technology, Internet Safety, Online Games, Technology Resources is your educational technology resource.  They have a numerous collections of topic-based online educational resources.  Look through their sets or categories & follow them on Twitter @EduHound

Please feel free to add more sites or links to resources in the comments below.  Share so we all can benefit!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Be a Netflix in your school, not a Blockbuster!

   Blockbuster began in 1985 & was extremely successful, an innovator in video & game rentals.  They derived their success in large part to customizing each store to meet the need of the local demographic.  However, somewhere a long the way they went from an innovative company in the 80's & 90's to a flat footed giant in the 21st century.  Companies that were innovative, mainly Netflix, passed Blockbuster right by leading to their eventual bankruptcy in 2010.
     Their mistake was that somewhere along the innovation, adaption  & creativity stopped being 2nd nature as a way of doing business   Instead they fell into the trap of thinking well if this has been successful for twenty years why wouldn't it be successful for another twenty?  At the point they realized others were passing them by with new & innovative business models they simply couldn't gain traction.  They had loss the innovative climate that had made them a success.
     How does that apply to teaching?  Think on this, does any basketball player really think about dribbling the ball while they are headed down the court?  Of course not, it is second nature, habit, ingrained in their minds as what they do when they get on the court.  They don't have to think about it, they don't have to plan for it, its just the way they do what they do!
     Technology in Education should be much the same way.  To be effective, technology cannot be something we do extra, something you do in tech class, or something only the "techy teachers" do.  It has to be apart of the fabric of our teaching,  our pedagogy.  If it is not second nature than practice it, use it, just don't neglect it...(thought I was going to say abuse it didn't you)!
     The time for bragging that you don't need technology to be a good teacher is over.  Every educator worth his/her salt knows that a good teacher is a good teacher no matter what tools they have (case closed).  However, what are you preparing your students for & what kind of experience are you helping them build along the way.  Are you just preparing them to take a test or are you choosing to prepare/educate them for life.  My argument has always been if we focus on preparing/educating the child to be a productive citizen the test will take care of itself, but what do I know.
     Imagine a spectacular band teacher/director who instructs the students on how to read music, the history of music, understanding beats, key signatures, phrasing, rhythm & so forth, but never puts an instrument in their hands.  Should they be surprised at the concert when the students don't know how to play?  They were a great teacher & the students learned a lot, but they were not prepared to play in a concert.  Are you teaching your students great content, but not preparing them for the concert of life? Will they be prepared to use it in the world they will one day work?
    Today's world is technology based, & we need to be preparing students for success.  Not as if technology were something separate that one does apart from learning or only with certain teachers, but infused in everything one does.  Stats can say what you want them to, but in a 2012 report McKinsey Global Institute reported that 72% of companies today use social technologies in some way.  However, it goes on to say very few are reaching their potential of how they could be using the technology.  Are we preparing students to one day help companies reach their potential.  What if instead of thinking facebook & twitter were just for fun (or bragging, or bullying) students realized the powerful importance of how social media can be used to network, learn, & promote!  Not because we were talking about it or teaching them about it, but because we were using it as the norm of how we conduct day to day learning. We don't have to think about it, we don't have to plan for it, its just the way we do what we do! WOW!!!
     Of course we can always hunker down & hope this technology stuff passes over.  That is pretty much what Blockbuster did until they realized a bit to late that if you attempt to let it pass over others will just pass you by.  "Techy teachers" don't just happen, they work, learn, & practice until technology becomes as 2nd nature as bouncing a ball or peddling a bike.  Be a Netflix in your school, not a Blockbuster, lead the way for yourself, your colleagues, & most importantly your students!

For some laughs check out the video George Couros posted in the comments.  Those who don't remember history are doomed to repeat it. Enjoy! Blockbuster Museum

Info on Blockbuster taken from 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Twitter Post 2013, a look back at this Twits Tweets

   As I get ready to post Tweet number 2013 in 2013 I thought I would take a look back at some of my best or favorite Twitter posts of all time (The last two years but all time sure does sound better).  Whether a simple quote, a resource, article, or thought, here are some of the best Tweets this Twit has Tweeted.  If you have not ever gone back through your own tweets give it a try.  It is really fun & you get reminded of what you have learned.  Enjoy!

If I'm looking down I'm engaged, if I'm looking u in the eyes u havn't given me anything to tweet about yet!  

4 Great Twitter Applications for Teachers Using Twitter In The Classroom 

Public Schools & the Taliban r the only ones not to embrace YouTube, even the Pope has a channel   

Being creative & not sticking to the standard is how we won the American Revolution. ;) 

Guess that's why we lost most of the battles, but won the war. Can we get students to lose the battles but win the war??? 

 of the day:"Ugly truth, policy comes from those who arn't in a classroom!"~  

I'm not interested in "integrating technology into the classroom" anymore. How does tech fundamentally change school? 

"We, meaning teachers, are the most important tech in the classroom" ~ Bret Gensburg 

Would u b engaged as a student in ur own class? Think about it!

Hilarious Hitler video shown by  in her transforming Ed session: Must Watch   

Vulnerability make innovation & creativity possible...principals do u allow ur teachers to be vulnerable?   

90% of adults remember a teacher who made them feel worthy, 85% remember a teacher who shamed them, which 1 r u?  

Think on your students only consume or do u allow them 2 create? 

If u have a tech savy student do u open urself up 2 using them as a resource? Learn together b engaged together. 

Can you teach me how to learn by showing me I can fail...if not ur limiting my potential!!!  

IT guy in reference to working with those who our tech-illiterate..."I love those people, they are why I have a job!"  

Why most teachers don’t know what they don’t know. 

Will students need social media skills 2 succeed in today's world? YES. Use it, infuse it, just teach them not to abuse it! 

Teachers expect students 2 learn...students should expect teachers 2 b willing 2 learn, it goes both ways   

Building Titanic app 4 iPad has good reviews, except that it crashes a lot...quite funny! 

Two Kinds of Stupid: Digital Footprint video all 7-12 students should see.      

"I needed a password eight charaters long so I picked Snow White & the Seven Dwarves." ~Nick Helm   

 of the day: “In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.” ~Robert Frost

 they make the argument about "good teaching is possible w/o tech" when it should b "r we preparing kids the best we can"

 of the day: "I now have the same number of Tour De France titles as Lance Armstrong" ~