Category Archives: apps

Blogging: More Than Just Writing

I once had the opportunity to go personally to a talk by Tammy Worcester and chose instead to go to a different session. Tammy is a popular presenter at and the author of over a dozen books on Educational Technology. Her website, Tammy’s Technology Tips for Teachers is a great destination for teachers who are looking for a Web 2.0 trick to spice up their classroom. At the time, I had not heard of her and chose to go to a different session that I imagined would be more worthwhile. A colleague went to Tammy’s session and came back so excited about the different web tools that were demonstrated. I remember being so frustrated at missing something that was so good.

Recently, my assignment for my Ed Tech course was to watch one of the available videos from ISTE 2011. You can imagine my excitement when I saw that one of the videos available was a presentation by Tammy Worcester. Her topic, Go Digital, focused on the myriad of ways that a blog can enhance a classroom. Her presentation was engaging and the topic was fascinating. Here is the link to her presentation: http://www.isteconference.org/ISTE/2011/program/search_results_details.php?sessionid=60706747&selection_id=82647615&rownumber=18&max=54&gopage=15

Tammy showed many nonconventional ways to post to a blog. I didn’t know I could post from an email. You write the post and email it to an address that is known only to you and it posts automatically. Many schools block Blogger and WordPress and suddenly you have a way to post even though the blog is not accessible.

She also spent a lot of time showing how you can embed any web 2.0 tool that had the option to give you HTML code. If you have a YouTube video or Google document, it is very easy to embed them in the blog. Just copy the HTML code and when you post to the blog you click on the tab to add HTML and whatever you created on that website is automatically stored on the blog. For example I am putting in the HTML code of a YouTube video that I created:

For the same price I can embed a Google doc in my blog. The neat thing about embeding a document form Google is that when you edit the document on Google Drive, the newly edited version will appear on you blog. Imagine if you would embed a Google spreadsheet that is linked to a Google form. You can ask a question on the form and email it to the students and then have the results show up on an organized spreadsheet. Here is a sample form I created. Feel free to put in a fake name. After you submit the form, look below and see the spreadsheet that automatically recorded your answer. (You might need to refresh your page.)

Fill out the form.

And here is the spreadsheet.

Imagine that you have the students do this at night for homework.

Tammy stressed that you can put any embeddable page into your blog and then they will automatically update as those websites get updated. You can have a dynamic changing blog that does not rely on you to publish new information.

What would you embed into your blog. Please comment below with your ideas.

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Tech Is Not A Substitute For Teaching

I had the opportunity last week to go to an iPad Boot Camp given by Sam Gliksman. Sam runs the popular iPads in Education Ning (http://ipadeducators.ning.com/) and recently published iPads Apps for Education for Dummies (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1118375386/?tag=wwwwileycom-20). He gave a fascinating class about effectively using the plethora of different iPad apps to facilitate the classroom learning. He spent a lot of time showing different ways that the students could create content and show their understanding of the materials.

It was eye opening to see the powerful apps that can be utilized on the iPad. He modeled checking for understanding by having the students create a book and then emailing it to the teacher’s Evernote homework notebook. We learned how to connect our iPads to our computers and use them as a substitute for an IWB . He showed us different strategies in Socrative to encourage active participation. He amazed us when he asked us to input three adjectives to describe a character in a story and used Wordle to make a word cloud out of our answers. The tools that are available are out of this world. If properly used, they can change your classroom. They not only add a visual perspective to the learning, but they also allow the students to manipulate the data and experience the learning hands on.

We sat entranced as we pondered the technological wonders we could incorporate into our classrooms. We now have a device that could motivate our students to want to learn. We would no longer need to discipline and we wouldn’t need to work as hard. The learning would just magically happen…

Then he said it….Technology is not out to replace good teaching. Nothing is magic. A good teacher uses any tool at their disposal to ensure that the students are learning. The iPad is just another tool, albeit a versatile one. Its purpose is not to replace good, solid teaching. It was quite obvious from Sam Gliksman presentation that he viewed the iPad as a tool. It is just a means to the end and not the end itself.The apps were to encourage the students to think. He viewed the iPad as a tool to help us step away from the teacher centered classroom and glide into the role of the teacher as the facilitator. It is proven the retention rate is higher for students who have the opportunity to learn the materials on their own. We are letting the students down if we think it is enough to let them memorize verbatim. They need to be trained to think on their own. They need to acquire the ability to analyze a situation and think through a solution.

The same holds true for any visual learning tool. The web offers thousands of tools that can add flavor to your lessons and pizzazz to your delivery. Many of them can be utilized to help the students understand using real life data and hands on experience. Using them effectively can be invaluable for your students. The key is to use them effectively and not fall prey to the desire to use them because they exist.

It is important to think through each aspect of every lesson you give over to your students. What is the best way to get them to learn. Is it to create an online presentation and collaborate with their fellow classmate or is it to sit down with a pencil and paper and work it out the old fashion way? You need to decide your learning goal and then figure out the best way to get there. If the answer is using paper and pencil, then encourage them to use paper and pencil. If the best way is to post to a wiki, then they post to wiki. Don’t be afraid that you are selling your students short by not using the technology. You are selling your students short by not giving them the best opportunity to learn.