Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Creating and Playing swf Files

One of the easiest tools to help show someone how to do something is to create a video of the process. I used to spend a lot of time taking screenshots, cropping them and putting an email or document together complete with pictures of a process to respond to a teacher's question on how to do something on the computer. Then came JingProject. Not only does it facilitate taking a picture of my screen to which I can add text and arrows, but now I can quickly create a video which is even easier! So, I started replying to teacher requests with video when appropriate, and I though I had it made!

Then, came the dreaded "player" issue - a few of the teachers said they couldn't play the video on their computer. So, I checked into it and according to my Tech Guru, Danny, "Some computers aren't smart enough (or we didn't make them smart enough) and the computer doesn't know what to open the video with!" Really?

However, there is an EASY fix! Just drag the swf file into (ontop of) a browser (Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox) and it will play! That's pretty easy! I also got the impression from Danny that once you do that then it should always just play for you in that browser when you click on it. However, since I have already done it, I can't test it!

PS. I just tried to create a JingProject video of the process but I guess you can't take a swf of a swf!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

C-SPAN Classroom

We visited the C-SPAN Classroom booth at ISTE back in June but I just had a few minutes the other day to take a look at the site. This website is FULL of free primary source materials for social studies teachers and students! There is a “Timely Teachable Videos” module right on the front page where you can grab and embed videos about current issues. Select a particular video and read a summary about it and then, if logged in as a teacher, save the video for easy retrieval. Upon joining, you are automatically added to the C-Span Classroom Ning where you can join in on the Forum.

Additionally, easily navigate the wealth of content yo the site by the Subject/Topic categories or by using the search feature. Find tutorials by fellow teachers on how they use C-Span as a current events blog, with Google Maps and more! You can also quickly navigate to other C-Span websites!

Take a look at the STUDENTCAM 2012 project available to your students!

This annual national video documentary competition encourages students to think about current issues affecting their communities and our nation. They submit a short video documentary related to the theme. This year’s theme is “The Constitution and you: Select any provision of the US Constitution 
and create a video illustrating why it’s important to you.” Deadline: January 20, 2012!

Please take a minute to take a look. We're really looking forward to hear how YOU will use C-Span Classroom this year!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Make Using Discovery Education on the iPad EVEN Easier for your Students

For over a year, I have shared with teachers how to download Discovery Education videos and then import then into iTunes for syncing to the iPod touch/ iPad. This is a great practice, especially at elementary school where having students log onto another site can be time-consuming and/or when time is short and you really want the students to focus on one or two videos. However, there are times when you want students to find their own resources for learning and having access to Discovery Education would be ideal on the iPad!

Discovery Education has created an iPad optimized environment! While not an app that is downloaded, it can look like one by creating a web clip of the website! Students can find content using Discovery Education's targeted keyword search or explore content via the visual subject browse.

Users open the Web Clip, enter the district username and password, and explore thousands of video clips covering all core, K-12 curriculum areas.

So now, you may be asking, “How do I create a web clip?”

First, tap the Safari app and enter the url: Then, tap the “Send to” icon and select Add to Home Screen! Repeat the process on each device, or better yet... Have your students do it! It is that easy!

Thanks, Angela for sharing this website!

Monday, August 8, 2011

The NEW Stupeflix Studio

Stupeflix: New features!

If you have ever attended one of my trainings, then you are probably aware of Stupeflix Studio - a terrific movie-making app that is integrated into our SBISD Google Apps accounts. Stupeflix Studio is a super-simple presentation tool. Recently, the creators of Stupeflix Studio have overhauled many of their original themes to include the features of the new video editor such as the music library, maps, text-to-speech and more, so now it is even better if you can believe it!

Choose from four different themes, upload your images or video, add a few title/text slides or add text directly to the images, make a music selection from the library or record your voice/write a narrative and voila! Your movie is created in minutes! No longer are students lost in design decisions, animations, and transitions! Take a minute or two and explore Stupeflix Studio! I think you’ll agree it is a great little tool to use with students in the classroom! Create a classroom Dropbox or share one of your Picasa Web Albums with students! That way, everyone is working collaboratively adding pictures to the same location. 

How do you get there?

Select more from the Google Apps dashboard menu and then select Stupeflix Studio!

It’s THAT easy!
Questions? Feel free to comment, email or call!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Teacher'sFirst - A Terrific Resource for Teachers

I can't remember when and how I first came across TeachersFirst, but I wish I had found the time to share it sooner! Personally, I am always skeptical about teacher resource sites because I find them to be so broad that they require way too much searching for a teacher to find what he/she needs. However, I have been able to use this site to search for classroom resources, particularly for interactive websites that would make great centers/stations for students, quickly with ease.

Of course, as I go to write this post, TeachersFirst has recently renovated their website. (There is a webinar about navigating it on July 19th that would be great to attend, but I think I can still show you a few things!) The home page appears to be a collection of widgets. I have found three widgets that are really working for me.

Search: Use this to search for a specific topic or phrase. You can also search by grade level and/or subject.

TeachersFirst Edge: Here TeachersFirst has reviewed Web 2.0 tools and given specific ideas for ways to use each one in the classroom safely. You can also filter by type of tool. Go to the Edge and select one of the filters. For example, I selected Animation. The list of animation tools will display, complete with grade level recommendations, a brief description of the tool, and a rating feature! I'm thinking this will be where I spend most of my time!

Classroom Planning Calendar: Here you can easily see the upcoming ok2ask webinars. I definitely plan to attend some of these! Again, the one I attended this spring was one of the best quality webinars I have ever attended.

Well, those are just a few tips to help you as you delve into! You can also find lessons and units here as well!  I hope you find it as helpful a tool as I do!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dropbox and DROPitTOme!

I've known about Dropbox for a while, but I just found out about DROPitTOme yesterday. Together, these two tools offer teachers and students another way to share files when using web 2.0 tools and a variety of devices.

Dropbox is an online storage website where you can store 2 GB of files for free. You can then access those files from any computer, phone, iPad, iPod touch, as well as the Dropbox website. You can access your files even when you're offline. It is simple to share folders so you can work together on the same projects and documents. See other people's changes instantly.

With DROPitTOme, you can securely receive files from anyone to your Dropbox. You setup a unique upload address (web address) with password protection. A person accesses that website, browses their computer, finds the file and enters the password. The file is uploaded to your Dropbox. (To register for a DROPitTOme account, you must already have created your Dropbox account.)

So, how could teachers use these services?

  • Teachers could have a Dropbox account and have students use DROPitTOme to upload projects. DROPitTOme automatically creates a folder within Dropbox! 
  • Teachers could create a class Dropbox account and everyone could use it as a collaborative space. 

Currently, I'm able to upload a photo from my iPad, but videos are also supposed to be able to the uploaded. I have just contacted Dropbox to find out how to accomplish that. So, students could use the iPod touch or iPad to take video and then upload it to Dropbox to be able to access it from another device to add to a project. Hopefully, they will add the service to allow other file types soon!

What are your ideas?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Teacher Laptop Re-image Program - iTunes Update and Office 2007

SBISD is asking that all teachers schedule a time this summer to have their laptops re-imaged to improve the functionality of the laptop and update the software. So many teachers are having software and update conflicts because the current image is so out of date. Microsoft is currently releasing updates that fix operating system "bugs" and software companies release new and improved versions of their products. But so many times in an organization as large as ours, Technology Services is challenged to get all of the updates to all of the computers. So, a little time now will save you further headaches and frustrations! Teacher laptops are not scheduled to be replaced until 2013, so we need to make these last two more years!

What do you need to do? Make sure you backup all of your folders/documents to your SAN folder. This includes your iTunes folder with all of your mobile applications for the iPod touch! Additionally, you'll want to export your bookmarks from the browsers you use - Chrome and IE7. If you store your personal folders in your Outlook account on your computer, you will need to move those also. Directions for all of the above can be found here under 2011 Summer Teacher Laptop Reimage!

For those of you who are part of the Summer Deployment for Classroom-Based Devices and are getting ready to learn about syncing iPad and iPod touches to your teacher laptop, you will want to make sure you get your laptop re imaged as quickly as you can. We have found so many of the teacher laptops have problems with the latest version of iTunes because remnants of earlier versions cause conflicts.

Best of all, you will be receiving an updated version of Office - Office 2007! Office 2007 has some really cool features, but the interface is quite different for some tasks. Great news! Atomic Learning has tutorials - introduction and advanced - for all parts of the package - Word, PowerPoint, Outlook and Excel! We have even generated direct-link webpages to whisk you there quickly on the Ed Tech Classroom 21 page!

So, if you haven't done so already, call the Help Desk (713-251-8324) and schedule your re-image today!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A beginning: The SBISD Ed Tech Database of Resources

As Oprah moves onto another chapter in her life, so also must I. Oprah’s departure has left an enormous void in everyone’s world, so I’m going for it!

I have struggled for years as to why I should blog. There are already a number of really great blogs that I visit regularly and learn so much from, what else is there to say? However, I am going to attempt to personalize the learning for teachers and students in Spring Branch. Sometimes, these postings will be about district projects and the ramifications for teachers. Sometimes, they will be about district resources and pointing you to them. Sometimes, I hope to share some ideas for integration of some really cool web tools. And, if you have ideas, let me know! I’m open. So, without further ado...

The Ed Tech Database of Tools/Resources for your Classroom

Under construction for the last year, the Ed Tech Database is now operational! Search by grade level groups, content areas and/or types of resources to find a wealth of web tools, iPad/iPod touch apps and Flipcharts! The Flipchart Repository has been re-invented and is even better! Everything is now in one place!

Here’s a link, but just so you know, it is the Settings App on our iPod touch on the Ed Tech homepage! We are constantly adding everyday! And, if you have a flipchart, or know of a web tool or an app, you can also request that the resource be added by submitting the form which is also available on the same webpage! 

Tip: All iPad and iPod touch apps that are installed on your devices in Spring Branch must be approved and in this database! So, check here first! Also, remember that no district funds - general budgets or activity funds - can be used to purchase iTunes gift cards. We are in the process of reviewing the Volume Purchase Program and hope to pilot that soon in the district. Until then, you can only use personal or PTA funds to purchase apps.