Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Have you ever listened to a song on the radio and enjoyed the beat and tune, and then later watched the video and were blown away with the actual meaning? This has happened to me a number of times. I can say I don't really listen to the words, but when the video is added to a song, the meaning takes off. Firework, by Katy Perry is a great example of a good song with a powerful video attached. I didn't realize until I watched the video that this song signifies being proud of who you are and that everyone is a "firework." So many songs have wonderful lifelong messages in them.

I guess it's the visual learner in me that needs to connect words with pictures. Think about this when teaching students. Not all students get meaning from text or audio. Not all students learn through lecture, technology, and not all are on the same page as the teacher. More and more literature and research states that differentiated learning opportunities are needed in our classrooms. This is not an easy task when a teacher has 30 students, and thousands of learning outcomes to meet in a year.

It is reassuring to me that the following video is posted on the Alberta Education Website. I believe the powers to be are listening and doing their homework to make our educational system a better one.

This post is dedicated to my children; they are "Fireworks."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Life's For Sharing: Learning from ATLE10

I had an amazing three days earlier in November in Red Deer at the Alberta Technology Leaders in Education (ATLE) conference. The theme of the conference was "Designing our Technology Game Plan." Learning new innovations, understanding digital literacy and hearing what other school districts are moving forward with was quite interesting. Meeting new colleagues, and reaquainting with others I have seen in previous technology seminars was one highlight for me. The food was great, the prizes were incredible and the free-bees filled my bag.
All aside what made the three days incredible were the keynote speakers Dean Shareski,(@shareski), Alec Couros(@courosa), George Couros(@gcouros)and Leonard Niebo (@LNiebo). If you are not familiar with Twitter the names in parenthesis are the speakers' Twitter handles.
Each speaker, including all the speakers I attended have one thing in common. Sharing. I have attended a number of conferences on the topic of 21st Century Learning, and sharing is a major part of learning in education today. Each speaker offered their presentation to the participants, which years ago was unheard of. The ATLE website has links to the keynote's addresses which are very informative.
Twitter was used extensively during the conference to tweet out main ideas, resources and share thoughts. If you are on twitter and you wish to view some tweets from the conference, the hashtag is #atle10. Many in attendance have their own blogs, and I find reading other people's educational blogs a great source of Professional Development.
If you would like to comment on this post, leave your blog address, so that it can be shared. So to conclude this blog post titled "Life's for Sharing: Learning from ATLE10" I would like to add these YouTube videos called Life's for Sharing. T-Mobile has created a number of videos that demonstrate the power of the human spirit. The second video is a re-creation that was filmed in Canada and is great around Christmas time.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Teaching about Blogging: Need to Get Your Feet Wet

As an educational technologist, I usually present tools such as Blogger, Edublogs, Skype, etc. but don't really get to use them in a classroom. Today I visited a Grade 9 classroom and presented a lesson on blogging in the classroom. I began by discussing social networking, which got the kids intereseted, especially when talking about how cellphones can be used in the classroom. I showed the students examples of Edmodo, Blogger, Edublogs and Wikispaces. So far, so good. I then wanted them to participate, so I asked them to research practical uses for the classroom. The lesson kind of went downhill from here. To ask students to research about blogging didn't work. It would have been great if a blog was created with them. Some students did go ahead and create a blog or wiki account. I am not sure where it will go from there, but at least some had interest. I guess my point is that it is easy to present wonderful technology tools to a teacher or class, but if there isn't the purpose behind it, the presentation will fizzle. With all of the new innovations for education continuing to surface, it would be nice to be back in the classrooms, as long as students have access to technology. I did show the class a video about why students like to blog. I like it because it comes from the kids.
This YouTube link shows students top 10 reasons to blog in the classroom.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Get Hyped With Skype

Skype is an easy and free way for teachers and students to make connections beyond the walls of the classroom. Students can learn from other students, connect with other cultures, and enjoy authentic learning. Teachers can use Skype for professional development and share their materials online. I agree that Video Conferencing can be difficult because of the gathering up of the students and taking them to the conference room. But with Skype, all a teacher needs is a webcam that has a microphone. In some cases, Skype can help with inclusive education. Here is a link to a great story as an example.Here are my top 10 reasons to use Skype in the classroom:
1. Meeting your ePals face to face.
2. Talking to an expert that you may have studied about.
3. Collaborating with other classrooms on a project.
4. Teacher Professional Development.
5. Parent Meetings.
6. Inclusive Education.
7. Have a story read from the real author.
8. Locate teachers who are looking to collaborate.
9. Raise Global awareness.
10.Student Announcements.

Number 10 is easier with Bridgit, Eluminate or other webinar software. Our School District uses Bridgit software which is a SMART Technologies product.
If you are interested in using Skype, I have created some online tutorials which can be found on the TLC wiki, or on my YouTube channel.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Give and You Shall Receive

My job as an Educational Technologist has many rewards. First, I get to help teachers learn new ways to integrate technology into their lessons. Almost all are very appreciative that they received help with the technology. It can be confusing. I also get to meet many new people, from different schools and cities. The personal reward that I find beneficial to my role is that not only do I get to share my ideas, but teachers will share theirs. These experiences build my repertoire of tools as I continue to go from school to school. Even questions about how a piece of technology fits into a curricular goal can give me ideas to create new activities in SMART Notebook or other tools. For example, while visiting A.E. Bowers School in Airdrie, Alberta, I not only made new friends with fellow teachers, but a Grade 2 teacher asked me about the hundreds chart in Notebook. She wanted to use it for estimation, but the chart provided in the activity toolkit shows all the numbers, and she wanted them hidden. How can we create a hundreds chart that hides the numbers? Challenge to self. Using a table from Microsoft Word, I created a hundreds chart. I copied and pasted it into a SMART Notebook page. Then I right clicked on each numbered cell and added a screen shade. All of the numbers in the hundreds chart are now hidden. A teacher can ask a student to reveal a number, move in any direction a certain number of spaces, and ask for an estimate of what that number may be. A new idea that is now created and shared. The video below (watch on Youtube for clearer video)shows the process. Teachers need time to collaborate and share their ideas. An idea might not be created right from the start, but through conversation on curriculum and pedagogy, the light bulb might just turn on.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Need a Visual? Youtube It!

Hmm? How do I install my own sprinkler system? Is it possible to rip a YouTube video into just an mp3 file? Audacity doesn't allow my file to save as mp3. How do I convert sound? How do I embed video into my SMART Notebook lessons? The answers to these questions can be found on YouTube. I use to spend wasted time reading a manual over and over to make sure I followed the step by step instructions. Now I turn to YouTube. I find I learn faster visually, as do most learners, so to grasp a concept, or find answers to just about anything, YouTube is an avenue. How can YouTube help your PLN? Here are my top 10 reasons to use YouTube in the classroom.
1. Find visual answers to questions
2. Present an opinion on a topic
3. Show video on curriculum content
4. Create a database of "howto" videos for your students or PLN
5. Market yourself and talents Kelsey's Art
6. Celebrate class projects, themes and/or special events (MHHS halftime dance at Football game)
7. Bookmark your classroom videos into "favorites folder" for quick access
8. Convert video to Flash files from YouTube to embed into your Notebook lessons (a how-to) is shown below.
9. Share via email, twitter, blogger, etc. and collaborate with friends

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Are You looking for Answers?

In my field as an Educational Technologist, I find that research is easier to do and find, thanks to technology. Twitter made no sense to me when I first signed up. But once the Personal Learning Network (PLN)grew to suit my professional needs, research became easier. Many educators find resources and post links to twitter that can easily be explored. Twitter is not just about "What Shaq is doing at this minute." Through my PLN I also found a cool site called Wallwisher
Since personal owned devices are just around the corner in many school districts, I asked the question, "What is your position on allowing Personal owned devices in the classroom?" Particpants can link to the site and post their opinion on the wall. This has great potential in the classroom. Another site that I found through my PLN is Answer Garden. Again, the researcher can post a question and send the link to followers, students or whom they want to direct the question and respondants can post their answers to the site. Another innovative application for the classroom that students should enjoy. So if you are looking for answers . . .

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Discovery Education: More than Just Video

Yesterday I facilitated a webinar on Discovery 101 with 22 of our district leaders. To say Discovery, which many still know as United Streaming, is all about showing videos means you are still living in the past. I joined Discovery about 6 or 7 years ago and was amazed at the videos I could use in my classroom. Now, not only can I download clips, but I can set up a classroom and assign content to my students. Teachers can grade assignments, know when they are turned in, and reassign if the project was not up to standards. Students can log in 24/7 and access video for their research, or assignments given by the teacher. Teachers can also embed video into SMART Notebook lessons. Many of the administrators were amazed at how much information was provided during the webinar presented by Karen Goldman. I am excited about the possibilities that teachers, and more importantly students have to use video in their learning. Now my job as an Educational Technologist is to support teachers in setting up accounts, creating folders, downloading video, and embedding video into their lessons. I am excited to be able to help teachers learn the benefits of digital resources in teaching and learning. I am happy that our district has a site liscense for Discovery Education. One last comment. Discovery Education provides a multitude of resources for teachers, including free webinars, to support teachers in learning more about how to use Discovery in their classroom.

Monday, September 20, 2010

SMART Board Progression: Experience Takes Time

In this blog post, I would like to discuss my history on using SMART Boards and SMART Notebook software. As well, this post will provide resources to teachers learning about new ways to use their SMART Board.
I recall back in 1998, I applied to SMARTerkids foundation (I don't think it exists anymore)for a grant for our first SMART Board at our school. We received one, along with a projector. Everything was on a cart, and the SMART Board was on wheels. I soon learned that using the SMART board was a pain, and sychronizing it was continuous. So I decided to use the projector more than the SMART Board. Showing lesson examples, videos and demonstrations using the projector was excellent. The students loved the visuals.
Eventually the SMART Board was placed on a wall in my classroom (to get it out of the library. The next step was to figure out how kids could use it. One of the first websites I remember using was funbrain.com for interactive games on the SMART Board. It isn't the best of the web material out there now, but maybe at teh time. Students were engaged and excited about interacting using the SMART Board. More websites came and the SMART Board became a centre for augmenting learning.
But there had to be more. SMART Notebook was in early development and until some training came along, there was not much use with Notebook. Enter Notebook 10.0. I began developing interative lessons and learning activities for my students. It became a great centre for learning.
Not until 2009 did I realize the potential of Notebook for student use. Since then I have been showing students how to create Notebook presentations that are filled with games from the Activity 2.0 toolkit, video, and links to external websites. The student creation is what it is all about.
To sum it up, the progression of SMART Board and Notebook use for me was:
1. Showing video
2. Finding Interactive sites for students
3. Creating interactive games and lessons for students
4. Having students use Notebook to create their own interactive presentaions.
So if you are new to a SMART Board, take your time, learn ways to use it, have fun with your students, and let them create. SMART Exchange Is a great link to find uploaded teacher lessons.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

New School Year: New Ideas and More Resources For Teachers

Welcome to a new school year. As I continue to increase my blogging abilities, I hope to provide educators with more ideas and resources to use technology in the classroom. I have added some new gadgets on the right. Teaching Books is a good resource to get students involved in literacy and learn more about authors. I am tweeting more, call me a twit, but find many great articles and links to educational resources. You can follow me on twitter by clicking the link on the right. I have links to some good SMART Notebook sites on the right. If you are looking for educational websites without wanting to do the Google search join my Delicious network. Also, if you have questions or ideas, post a comment and I can create a howto video or respond on the blog. Have a great year, teachers!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Study Like a Scholar, Scholar

I love the creativity that comes from the technology we have today. Great stuff!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Welcome to the Future? Symbolic to Educators

"Welcome to the Future," by Brad Paisley has been my motto and inspiration in my first year of my position as Technology Leadership Coordinator.
Brad Paisley’s video illustrates the change in our world from history to present and through his music he provides examples of change for the better. An example he uses of how he use to get a ride down to the arcade to play Pacman, but now he has it on his phone is a strong statement that describes the change in technology. Mr. Paisley’s lyrics mention his grandfather fighting the Japanese in WWII and now Mr. Paisley has video chats to companies in Tokyo. What a powerful transformation of history. I believe his most inspirational message in his song is when he sings about how a running back on his football team had a cross burned on his front yard for asking out the homecoming queen. He relates this verse to being proud that we have our first black American President. He sings “Wake up Martin Luther, welcome to the future.”
Since writing and producing this song, Mr. Paisley was invited to the Whitehouse to perform this song in front of President Obama. Society has come very far in a relatively short period of time. Barriers have been broken for equal opportunity.
“Look around it’s all so clear, wherever we were going well we’re here,” is a
powerful representation moving from the past to the present.
“So many things I thought I would never see, are happening right in front of me,” is very true in my reflection of my teaching career. I am amazed at what our capabilities are with technology. Change is happening daily. Students have the world at their fingertips with the digital age we live in.
I feel that teachers are caught in the rapid technological change and are behind the students in their knowledge and use. I believe it is pivotal that educators embrace change and try to learn what kids are interested in. I am an advocate of 21st Century Learning and this video inspires me in my work. I am proud to know that I am up to speed with the wants and needs of children and the way they learn. My job is to teach leaders the importance of getting up to speed with the technological needs of the students. Modeling is proven an effective buy-in strategy and leaders need to model the use so their teachers will see the importance.
We as teachers, are our own worst enemies. We can sit in a meeting with a laptop in front of us, a cell phone ringing and still listen to PD speaker. But when we go back into the classroom we expect our students to sit straight, keep quiet and listen, and do the worksheets placed in front of them. How hypocritical. Today is the future. We need to change our practice now, not tomorrow, not after retirement, but now. We have to get use to doing things differently in the classroom. We are doing things in our own lives differently as learners, so let us help shape others.
The lyrics Mr. Paisley writes have symbolized the change in the shape of the world. Barriers that once were, are now removed, providing all of us with choices for our future. Are we giving our students these choices?
It takes time to change, but the future is now. “Welcome to the Future,” may inspire others to see how far we have come. It also might allow for some teachers to reflect on their professional growth. I know it did for me.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Ready for 1:1? Check this list before you answer

Ready for 1:1? Check this list before you answer

Are you or your district schools considering a one-to-one laptop approach to learning? Click on the above link to read a checklist of ideas about one-to-one mobile computing.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Using the Interactive Dice in SMART Notebook

Here is another "how to video" on using the interactive dice that are found in the Activity 2.0 Toolkit in SMART Notebook 10. With a good imagination, you can come up with a number of ways to use the dice. Please use comments box to share your successes with the interactive dice.

Using Tiles in SMART Notebook

I have created a "how to" video that demonstrates how to add pictures to the tiles multimedia tool in Activity 2.0 toolkit. This toolkit is full of interactive multimedia games for teachers and students to use. It is found in the gallery of SMART Notebook 10. I will add more "how to" videos as my blog grows. If you have a technology question, just click on comments and I will try my best to help you out.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wordle and how to save your project as a picture file.

Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends. (from http://www.wordle.net/)

I like to save my wordles to my computer for future use. The how to video is one I made to show you how you can save your wordle creation as a jpeg file for using in other presentations.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Tap into the World of Comics Primary School version

Check out this SlideShare Presentation:

Collaboration, getting sick of that word yet?

“Collaboration is a recursive process where two or more people or organizations work together in an intersection of common goals — for example, an intellectual endeavor that is creative in nature by sharing knowledge, learning and building consensus.” (Wikepedia) When I first started my position as the TLC for Medicine Hat Public Schools, I did not know the impact of the word pertaining to my job. But, after one year as an Educational Technologist, the term collaboration is the essence of what I do.

In my mind the key to collaboration is sharing of information, which is so important in the 21st Century. The sharing of information with my ET friends has really helped me in my position. Everyone in my work is so willing to give. It makes our work easier, better and updated. I have been to a number of Tech. and AISI conferences this year and participated in a number of blogs to see the power of collaboration. I was able to learn from others and analyze information for my own purposes. And now I am able to give back. But,  time is needed and teachers and students need more time to collaborate. Given that time, all collaborators should experience the power.

With technology, collaboration is easier than ever. Experts are found at the click of a mouse. Student voice is at the end of their thumbs. Wikis, blogs, Skype, webinars, forums, and video conferences are some 21st Century methods for collaborating. For teachers, it is still the question of “how” that becomes the barrier. Not only the how, but the risks incurred. But if the risks are not taken, students will miss out on the opportunity for authentic learning, and so will teachers.
Are you getting tired of the word ‘collaboration’? I’m not.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

NOT HAPPY !! Xtranormal is beginning to charge a fee for users

Yesterday, June 2, 2010, I was planning to create another fun movie using Xtranormal. I spent a lot of time doing it and even had a chance to preview it. But when I went to publish it I was directed to a page that asked me to purchase points. What points? Where on the website does it say anything about an update and now charging users? Booo!  I really like Xtranormal, one reason it being a free Web 2.0 site for educators. It is a great way to present and takes the place of watching another PowerPoint presentation. I am going to email the developers with my displeasure and I would like all Xtranormal users to do the same. Maybe the ceators can get advertisers or something. With over 7,000,000 videos made, you would think that advertisers would see this as a good opportunity. I bet with the new fees, the number of movies made won't be rapidly increasing.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Xtranormal: TLC's Top 10 Ways to Use it in the Classroom

Xtranormal is an application that turns text into animated movie. Research has shown that most individuals are visual learners. Movie-making, short and long, online and on-screen, private and public, will be the most important communications process of the 21st century.

Xtranormal is very user-friendly.  You type something; they turn it into a movie. On the web and on the desktop. The following are my top 10 ways to use Xtranormal in the classroom.
1. Introduce yourself
2. To tell a story
3. To give directions
4. Kids can do Student led conferences using Xtranormal
5. Present a report
6. Tell Jokes
7. Explain a concept
8. Teach dialogue between two people
9. Edit a written document, through voice
10. To have fun with text to speech
(if you have other ideas, please reply to this blog and share the knowledge.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

How to change the default font on SMART Notebook

Sometimes it is a pain to use the font supplied in Notebook. Do you find yourself constantly changing the font to what you like? Watch the video below to find out how to change the default font in SMART Notebook to the way you like it. Respond to this blog if you thought it was helpful. Also reply if you have other "how to videos" you would think would help you.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Milton, our new Mini-Schnauzer

Ok, if you are into cute, here is a little video clip of our new puppy. I am forever disappointed at Windows MovieMaker. You put together a nice video, go to render it, and it says the file is too big, you do not have enough disk space (bs), or something like that. So I used Screenr.com to capture the video off of Movie Maker. Not the best quality, but it's ok. Did you know you can take a movie file from YouTube and drop it into the audio of MovieMaker to separate audio and video. That is how I got the song. Hope you enjoy the movie clip.

TLC Begins to blog

When I was hired as the Technology Leadership Coordinator (TLC) for Medicine Hat Public Schools I certainly liked my acronym. Obviously TLC can mean "tender loving care" or even "the learning channel." Both definitions to the acronym suit my position. First I enjoy helping others learn new ideas with technology. Second, I am flexible and tailor my instruction to meet the needs of the group or individual. I learned early in my new position as the TLC that many schools, leaders and teachers are at different levels of comfort with technology. So I do not push, but encourage teachers to contact me if they need help. One great way to help teachers is to feature "how to" videos. It is sometimes easier sending a visual of how to do something, than it is to explain it over the phone or email. So I plan on using this blog, not only to rant once in awhile, but to help teachers with their technology needs. BTW- the 007 attached to my username is due to a repeat of the acronym, and I am a big James Bond fan. This is my first blog. How did I do?