Tuesday, December 18, 2012

30 Day eLearning Challenge Wrap-up


A Great Big Thank You to all those who participated in our 30 Day eLearning Challenge! Last years challenge had 12,000 page views during its 2 calendar months, with views from around 35 countries.  During the last 2 months we have had over 2800 users access the challenge roughly 18,000 times, from over 90 countries worldwide.  The greatest of those users came from home sweet home here in Indiana.  The EVSC ICATS 30 Day eLearning Challenge Blog will continue to be accessible for reference throughout the year and you can expect it to start up again on a later date.

Challenge Winners:

As promised those who completed the entire challenge will be receiving, via email, a certificate of completion for the ICATS 30 Day eLearning Challenge noting 10 PGP hours for licensure.  Expect that email within the next few days.  This morning we held our drawings for our EVSC and non-EVSC prizes. The winners and prizes are noted below.

Outside Winner:

Pictured left: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4dyRGgPtg0&safe=active
Congratulations to Debbie Wolinsky from Indianapolis Public Schools!  Debbie teaches mathematics at Broad Ripple Magnet High School.  She wins registration from the EVSC ICATS for herself and 3 of her colleagues to attend the EVSC eRevolution Regional eLearning Conference on July 10 and 11, 2013.  The eRev 2013 Conference is part of the Indiana Department of Education's Summer of eLearning (#INeLearn).  In addition, Debbie will receive local hotel accommodations for herself and her guests on the nights of July 9th and 10th, 2013.  Thanks again for your participation in the challenge and congratulations!

Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation Winner:

Congratulations to Aaron Sisson, Instrumental Music teacher at Glenwood Leadership Academy.  Aaron was presented with an iPad (3rd Generation) and case this morning.

In addition to congratulating Debbie and Aaron, we would like to again thank all those that contributed to the 30 Day eLearning Challenge!  Many of the daily posts came from a group of teachers within the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation known as the Community of Digital Educators (CODE). Those CODE members include:

  • Kara Yates
  • Karla Schweizer
  • Adrienne Mayes
  • Kathy Walz
  • Janit Market
  • Jolie Devries
  • Amanda Bussey
  • Leslie Wilhelmus
  • Robin Fricke
  • Svitlana Reynolds
  • Georgina Wagoner

Additional eLearning resources and links are available at our website: www.evscicats.com

Thanks Again and Have a Great School Year!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Day 30 - Empower the Community!

Since beginning the ICATS 30 Day Challenge, we have brought to focus nearly 60 tools, websites, and applications for digital learning across the spectrum of subjects and grade levels.  We have had guest bloggers from our EVSC Community of Digital Educators (C.O.D.E.) share their personal classroom favorites.  Looking at the scope of the challenge we can see that as of the time this post was written there have been more than 2500 unique visitors to the blog in the last 2 months and additionally over 2000 comments to the challenges have been presented.  The comments to the blog have included new ideas and thoughts from educators around the country and globe as to how they could use the challenges to enhance learning for their students.  Additionally, many new web tools and applications have been shared and commented on by you, the digital community, in the process.

Today's Challenge is for you to empower each other!

The Challenge:

What challenge would you present that we have not been able to add to ours?   Please think of at least one digital tool, app, website, etc... that you could empower others with. Share your challenge in a comment to this post including a brief introduction to the challenge, helpful resources, and share how you have used it with your students.

As a reminder, if you have not already done so, those participating in the full challenge will need to fill out the eligibility form from the post "5 More Days"on 12/6 to be entered in the drawings.  However, we look forward to seeing what you have been working on with your learners regardless of whether you have been participating all along throughout the challenge!  We will have a wrap-up post on Tuesday December 18th.  Thanks for participating in the ICATS 30-Day Challenge!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Day 29 - Zoom It

Today's post is on the screen zoom and annotation tool, Zoom It.

Zoom It is a free utility from Microsoft that's easy to use.  It allows users to zoom in on portions of the desktop screen, pan/move the zoomed area, and even draw (annotate) on the screen.  Zooming can be done with the wheel on the mouse or with the up and down arrow keys on the keyboard.  This is a great utility for focusing students' attention to a particular area of your computer screen.

Zoom It is always ready to use.  It runs in the background and activates with hotkeys.  Just select the keyboard shortcut, control + 1, to activate a zoom.  Press ESC or the right mouse button to return the screen to its normal size. 

Annotations can be started by the keyboard shortcut, control + 2.  This allows you to write on your desktop in any application.  Annotations are a virtual layer so when you close Zoom It, all the marks disappear off the screen.

This utility also has a countdown clock that is enabled with hotkeys, control + 3.  

To download Zoom It select the link below:   
Zoom ItSorry MAC users, this handy tool is made by Microsoft and is available for PCs only.Your Challenge:How could you use this tool in your classroom?  

Monday, December 10, 2012

Day 28 - Learnzillion.com

Learnzillion.com offers teachers a wide variety of opportunities! With Learnzillion, you can "plan Common Core lessons; assign lessons and quizzes; assign your students a playlist of video lessons and a mastery quiz, then track their progress against the Common Core State Standards; use the Common Core Navigator to get a birds eye view of what your students need to know and be able to do; use the coach's commentary video to get insights on how to teach each Common Core State Standard; and engage parents [by helping them] get up-to-speed on what their student is learning each week or month." Learnzillion even provides a parent letter!

Upon logging in (which you can do via your Google Account or by creating an account with your @evsc.k12.in.us address), you are taken directly to your dashboard, which gives you notifications and allows you to begin assigning work.

If you click the "Explore Lessons" tab, you are given the option to choose between math and ELA from grades 3-8 and even select a specific Common Core standard. From the "Common Core" tab, you can select a subject, a grade level, and see the numerous lessons Learnzillion has on offer! You can sign your classes up and assign work, quizzes, and lessons from the dashboard.

Here is a sample lesson:

As you can see, there are several options available and already prepared. Learnzillion.com has approximately 2000 lessons at this time. The site is working on the option to allow teachers to post their own lessons and videos at this time, as well as offering feedback for current lessons.

More information about Learnzillion can be found here, with many other FAQs available depending on what you need here.

Challenge: In what ways could you foresee using Learnzillion.com in your classroom? Could it be more than an introductory or "hook" piece for a lesson?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Day 27- Magisto

Magisto.com is one of my favorite web tools for quickly taking video from an activity such as a field trip or class project and mashing it together with music to create a nice, professional-looking video that is interesting and can easily be shared. Even better, while Magisto is a web tool, it is also a fantastic app for the iPhone and Android OS, so now you can shoot video with your phone and have the video ready to go in mere minutes. To help you understand how Magisto performs this magic, here are a couple of videos:

Magisto turns your iPhone into the world's smartest camera from magisto on Vimeo.

What is Magisto from magisto on Vimeo.

Here is a Magisto video that I threw together from some really rough video I shot at Disney World:

I can imagine all kinds of applications in the classroom:

  1. Assign a videographer of the day to capture class and post it on your class website.
  2. Make a video collage of clips that illustrate an idea or theme.
  3. Make day-in-the-life videos of characters in books or people in the school.
  4. Create an inspirational video montage of a class's preparations for an assessment.
  5. Have students introduce a topic via video.
  6. Create discussion-starter videos.
  7. Create motivational videos made of quotes.
  8. Create an art portfolio video.
  9. Have students create biographical videos (my family, my favorite things).</
  10. Have students share their definitions of a word and make a mash-up for that word.

Your Challenge

Play with this tool. Download the App is applicable. Capture some video and then create a Magisto video to share. Then comment below. How have you used Magisto in your class, or how can you imagine using it with your students?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

5 More Days!

Hey!  There are only a few more days left in the challenge.  There have been many great ideas shared by you on this blog!  As we look to the end of the challenge there are some housekeeping items to consider.  The drawings will be held and the winners will be announced on Tuesday, December 18th.

  1. Keep posting your comments and ideas about the items presented in the blog!  
  2. If you have not completed all of the challenges,.... what are you waiting for?  You will be eligible for the drawings as long as you have all your comments completed before Monday, December 17th.
  3. If you are or will be eligible for either the iPad or the eRev Conference package, please fill out this eligibility form.  We will use your information from the form to validate your eligibility for the drawing, as well as to contact the winners.
Good Luck to all and keep posting!

Day 26 - Interactive Sims

We have had several tools that are generally of more use to the language teachers in our midst.  Today's post is an effort to balance the load a little bit.  We are posting on two websites that offer free interactive simulations.  One of them belongs to the University of Colorado, Boulder and their list of math and science simulations.  The other is a science manipulative site called the BioDigital Human.

The Physics Education Technology (PhET) website from the University of Colorado on Interactive Simulations

This site provides interactive simulations (manipulatives) for elementary through university level concepts in math and science.  You can search the simulations by concept, subject, or grade level.  Once you find the simulation you would like to use, you can play it from the web, download it or even embed it into a website or blog.  At the elementary level, teachers without 1:1 could use these at the interactive whiteboard for the students to use there.  In addition, there are resource PDF's available on the site for all of the simulations that include tips for teachers and links to related sims.

Here is an example of an elementary simulation on fractions.

Fraction Matcher
Click to Run

Here is another one for middle school on Plate Tectonics.

Plate Tectonics
Click to Run

Not to leave out a high school example, here is one on graphing equations.

Equation Grapher
Click to Run

BioDigital Human

The BioDigital Human is a website dedicated to a 3-D model of the human body.  I know that it is very specific to science, but I though it worth throwing out there to balance things out a bit and challenge those language teachers among us to come up with a creative idea for it's use in class.

The BioDigital Human website asks for a login, but you can use your google login if you would like to.  Using your google login will keep you from having to remember another login.  The account is free and allows all the major manipulative pieces of the 3-D model.  You can add different layers of the body, choose male or female, dissect parts of the model and isolate individual pieces of the model.  Take a minute or two to play with the model and add layers to it from the navigation menu on the right.

Your Challenge:

If you are a math or science teacher, I challenge you to use at least one of the simulations in class and report about how you used it and how it went.  If you are not a math or science teacher...   I challenge you to share a way that you can use these or other interactive simulations in your classrooms.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Day 25 - Kindle for PC

Kindle for PC is a great app to teach students how to use because it is available on so many platforms. Text can be bookmarked, highlighted, shared on Twitter and Facebook, and kept forever on the Cloud.


REAL WORLD: Using this app means that you are teaching them to use an app that they are very likely to use outside of school.  Although each student needs to set up an account, it is not necessary to input any credit card or billing information into the account to receive free books either from the Amazon website or if using the function through the Evansville-Vanderburgh County Library.

FIRST CHAPTER FREE: Even books to purchase offer the First Chapter Free, which could be very useful if you only wanted to use an excerpt in class.

FREE, FREE, FREE:  Although there are thousands of free books for literature and history use, science and math can find textbooks from the CK12 Foundation through Amazon.  

COLLECTIONS: If Kindle for PC is used by multiple classrooms, then the books can be grouped into "Collections" or classes.   Books can be added to multiple collections.

MULITI-PLATFORMS & MULTI-USAGE: If the student also uses a Smartphone or has a Kindle, the content, highlights, bookmarks will sync across wi-fi.

How We Use in Indiana Studies Class

Some of our reading in this class used Adobe Reader on the netbooks with scanned pdfs, so the students were ready to branch off into an app that had more functionality.  We are finishing the semester with the book, A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter.  A Girl of the Limberlost was written in 1909 and has a Lexile level of 850.  The setting and vocabulary were unfamiliar to my students, but they discovered the dictionary function right away.  Our guiding question for this lesson was to discover the differences between Porter's time in Indiana and our own.  The book's setting is at the onset of the Industrial Age before the 13,000 acre Limberlost swamp was deforested and drained.  Juxtaposing the loss of nature in the book with the joys (and pains) of the technology we are using to read it, the students are truly conflicted.  There is a stark contrast in just the last 100 years.  Our class blog with instructions for the students can be found here: http://ais-indiana.blogspot.com/

The Process

The students enjoyed the process of finding all the free books that were available to them and were impressed that once a book was downloaded that it was held in the Amazon Cloud reserved just for them.  Virtually all the classics and many first books in a series are available free. The students were also able to personalize their reading screen, so be sure to allow time for them to adjust it for their comfort.  

Student using personalized reading screen.
In the process of getting Kindle for PC to work, we encountered some issues with netbooks needing updates and student accounts, so we also investigated the website Project Gutenberg (http://www.gutenberg.org/) and found our text and audio available for free there as well.  Some of the students chose this option so that they could listen while they followed along in the text.
Student using Kindle Cloud Reader

Most of the students opted to carry on with learning the Kindle App.  Here is how to install on the netbook:

1.  Teacher or administrator needs to install the app, so sign in as yourself.  The direct link to download Kindle for PC is here:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/ref=kcp_pc_mkt_lnd?docId=1000426311  Once installed, verify that the Kindle shortcut is on your desktop.  Log off.

2.  Student will sign in.  Click the Start button and type in Kindle.  The shortcut will appear.  It is a fairly large program and takes patience to allow to load the first time.  A pop up screen will appear, asking the student for his account info.  At the bottom is a line to create an account.  Student email and address are required.  It did not work if you clicked to continue without registering.

3.  Once an account is created, Kindle for PC will open with some sample free books.  On the top right, there is a search button for students to select the book they need.  

Your Challenge:
What creative ideas do you have on using an ebook reader in your classroom?  If you have used Kindle or another ebook reader in your class, please share how you have used it and resources available that helped you.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Day 24 - Class Dojo

Day 24 - ClassDojo.com 

by Jolie DeVries and Svitlana Reynolds, members of the EVSC CODE

Improve Behavior

Improve specific student behaviors and engagement by awarding and recording real-time feedback.

Share Data

Print or email beautiful behavior reports to easily engage parents and staff.

Save Time

Save time by recording behaviors and accomplishments right in class, with just one click: NO extra data entry required.
Teacher Tutorial Video

Student Tutorial Video

This is a great tool for behavior management. 
  • Many schools are using this in conjunction with PBIS.  
  • Students can track and monitor their own progress.
  • Parents can view on-line and reports can be emailed or downloaded to be sent home by those without access. 
  • Middle school students are engaged and competitive to improve
  • Elementary school students are engaged and want to improve
  • High school students show ownership of their behavior and quality of work
  • Avatars can be changed and adjusted to each class 

For this challenge, register for a free account, add a class, and start using it.  Start with one class and see for yourself!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Day 23 - Museum Box

Museum Box is a virtual collection of items (pictures, videos, text, audio) that help to explore a specific topic.  I like to compare it to the hope chest.  Now, the hope chest has always been linked to the female gender only so it isn't 100% like that.  However, it is a place to gather information and share it.

 The full video can be viewed by going to http://museumbox.e2bn.org/about/.

Getting Started

One very important thing to remember - prepare early.  I have seen some individuals have to wait a week or more for their membership to be approved while others are approved within 24 hours.  So - if you like this tool and want to use it plan to setup your account at least 2 weeks prior to using it in the classroom.

These instructions are for educators wanting to setup an account for themselves and their students.

Step One:  Setting up your account

Visit http://museumbox.e2bn.org.  On the home page at the bottom right corner you will see:
Choose REGISTER YOUR SCHOOL and the next screen will look like this:

You will select the top choice:  

Follow the steps to creating your account (the United States is considered International)

When filling in the registration form it asks for your school information.  It may or may not find your specific school in the search; multiple teachers can have account at the same school.  Make sure you don't connect your account with another teacher.

After completing registration, you wait.  Once you have received your confirmation that your registration has been approved you can start having fun.

Step Two:  Setting up your class

Head back to the homepage for Museum Box and choose the Teachers Link:
You will be directed to a resource page and your sign in page.  Or - you can login by using this link:
Teacher Sign-in.  Choose the E2Bn login.  Once you are logged in you will see:
Now it is time to add your students.
  1. Click on Museum Box
  2. Click on the tab Students
  3. Start adding students

  •      you can setup the students individually or by creating a CSV file
  •      you will need to give them a username and password

Step  Three:  How to create a box

In order for you to create a box you will need to go back to the homepage:  http://museumbox.e2bn.org/ and click the green START.   Remember to login with the E2Bn link.

Now the fun begins!

The "guts" of Museum box:  what does everything mean?


First:  decide on the layout of your box:  How many layers and other options:

After clicking on CHANGE BOX you will be directed to a new window.  Here you will decide on how many layers, cubes, color, etc.

Important note when making these decisions:
  • how much information will you be gathering
  • one cube has 5 sides - 5 pieces of information

For this tutorial I have chosen:
  • 1 layer
  • 1 cube
  • did not change color or texture
After making your choices - remember to click change box again - found on the far right of the above shown screen.

My Drawer

The drawer is where you will place ALL items you plan to use with your box.  These items will be any of the following:

Images:  after making your choice make sure to click ADD TO DRAWER
  • your images that you upload
  • images from the Museum Box gallery

Text:  create the text you will use and don't forget to add to your drawer.

  • record your own
  • use sounds from the Museum Box gallery

  • create your OWN videos with a webcam
  • upload videos created outside of museum box

Files:  (PDF, Word, PowerPoint, etc)
remember when adding these files the viewer will have to download the file to preview it

Links:  web links

Search:  this is not something you add to the box but allows you to search your drawer for specific 

I know that it seems like alot of work getting everything ready before you make your box but it is well worth the effort.  Depending on your comfort level you may even add things during the creation instead ahead of time.  It is a personal choice.

  • Click on the cube you want to work on - it will open in a new window
I like to open my drawer now so I can see everything I have added.

Now just start adding to your cube.  You can just click, drag and drop -OR- chose and click on ADD TO CUBE.  (I personally like the click, drag and drop.  You can also move items around on the cube that way.
  • you can label each cube if you wish but it isn't necessary
  • when you are satisfied, click on OK
Note:  don't forget to name your box at the top of the main window:

So now your box is created - what do you do now?

  1. Save
  2. Submit
It is important for students to submit their box so you, the teacher, can review it.  

The above button MESSAGES is a place where students or other Museum Box submitters can view messages from individuals that view and comment on their box.

The button LOAD allows you to load a previously created box and edit.

After you or a student SUBMITS their box you will get this notification:

For students:  you, the teacher, are the administrator that views and approves/denies the box.

After students submit their boxes you will be able to login as a teacher http://gas.services.e2bn.org/ and view all submitted boxes:

Notice the tabs ALL, PENDING, APPROVED, REJECTED, DELETED, DISABLED.  To approve or deny you chose the box and make your decision after viewing it.   You can also leave messages for the student.

An example found on Museum Box:  http://creator.museumbox.e2bn.org/mediaCreator/show/4824

Click on the cube and it will open for viewing.

Challenge - how could you put Museum Box to use in your classroom?

Friday, November 30, 2012

DAY 22 - Screencast-o-Matic

Creating a screencast is made simple with www.screencastomatic.com.   Screencasts are screen recordings that can be used in many ways, such as presenting instructional lessons or demonstrating features of a program or software.  Kahn Academy is well known for the instructional screencasts developed to help students worldwide.    

There are many reasons to use Screencast-o-matic.  First, it is FREE.  Of course there is a paid version that offers other editing features that the free version does not, but I have found the free version adequate for my needs in the classroom.  Second, it is EASY and user friendly. It is awesome that you do not have to set up an account to create a screencast.  However, if you do opt to create an account, Screencast-o-matic will allow you 2 GB of storage space within Screencast.com (sort of like a YouTube channel).  You will need to have Java running, and when prompted, you will need to click on Accept to allow the recording applet to start screencasting.  Third, videos can be up to 15 minutes in length, which is a definite benefit over using other free web-based tools such as Jing that only allows 5 minute videos.   Finally, videos can be saved multiple ways.   They can be saved as a Youtube video, .mp4, .avi, or .flv file. 

To get started, just go to www.screencastomatic.com and follow the steps:

1.   Click on “Start Recording.”

  1. When you select the “Start Recording”, a dotted frame will appear.  Open the window you wish to record.  For example, if you want to demonstrate how to use Microsoft Word, you would want to open Microsoft Word.  After opening what you want recorded, you can drag and resize the frame to surround the recording area.  If you do not want to drag and resize, you can select any of the frequently used video dimensions (see image below).

  1. When you are ready to record, choose a microphone by selecting the microphone on the recording tool bar.  To begin recording, select the red button.  You can pause throughout the video as needed by hitting pause button and then the record button to begin recording where the video was stopped previously.  You can also toggle record/pause with ALT-P. 

If you do not like what you recorded, you can restart anytime by selecting the restart button. This will delete the entire recording and allow you to restart.  If you make a mistake while recording, the only editing you can do is to rewind to the point you made your mistake and truncate at that position to begin recording again. There are no other editing options in the FREE version. 

  1. Once finished, select “Done” on the recording tool bar and choose how you would like to save the screencast.  You can publish it as a YouTube video or save it as .mp4, .avi, or .flv file.   When saving it you have the option to adding notes and/or captions. 

Here are few tutorial videos.  Some speak of the features offered in the pro version of Screencast-o-matic.  The pro version is $9 per year.  You may be interested in using the pro version for the editing component, one-hour length time, and saving options.  There are many other screencast tutorials on YouTube.

Screencast-O-Matic DemosThis link contains many different tutorials on selected features of Screencast-O-Matic including creating captions
Since I am flipping my Algebra II classes this year, I create many instructional videos weekly for my students using Screencast-o-matic with ActivInspire.  I have also found within my classroom, there is a need to share different types of tutorials such as how to save a file, create a data spreadsheet with a graph, submit an assignment, or navigate a website.  Screencast-o-matic is an easy way to create an instructional lesson, demonstration, or tutorial for students to view and review.  It is also a neat way for students to record video and audio as they demonstrate the proper procedure to solve a problem on an interactive whiteboard.

Your Challenge:  Create a screencast of your own.  Comment on how you could use this to enhance the learning of your students.  Share any other ideas of how this might be a benefit to you, other educators, or students. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Day 21- ThingLink

Today's tool is ThingLink, a cool web tool for creating interactive pictures. Basically, ThingLink allows a user to upload a picture and then enhance it by adding various interactive buttons that point to websites, wikipedia articles, Twitter profiles and more. The interactive pic then lives at its own web address and can be shared in various ways including embedding the picture in websites or blogs.

Another great feature is that if you share your ThingLink pic with other, they can leave comments, making the experience more interactive. Here is a basic introduction to ThingLink:

The first time I played with ThingLink, I created this picture:

I could imagine using Thinglink in several ways. First, I could imagine creating interactive pictures that students could explore to learn about a topic. Imagine making a blueprint of Shakespeare's theater interactive, for example. I could share the link with students and ask them to share their impressions with me via the comments feature.

I also like the idea of having students create their own interactive images as a research project. A student could research a city and then could share what they learn about the city by placing links on a map of that city. They could even link other ThingLink images inside the master image.

Add to that the fact that they can basically upload any type of file to a Google Drive and link those files, and you have a very powerful research delivery tool.

Here are a few links to other ideas for using ThingLink in education:

Make Interactive Images on ThingLink Education
44+ Interesting Ways to Use ThingLink in the Classroom

Your Challenge

Play around with ThingLink. Create an interactive image to share with your class or to share in your comment to this post. Then, share how you have used ThingLink in class or how you imagine it could be used.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Day 20 - Remind 101

“I forgot to study for the test.” 
''I left my field trip permission slip at home.”
“When is the science assignment due?” 
Wouldn’t you love a program to remind students and parents of important dates and assignments via text messages and emails ?  

There is an easy and safe solution.   REMIND 101.

REMIND 101 is a notification program that sends out text and email messages from the teacher. It does not provide conversation interaction.  Teachers create a class in REMIND 101 and the class is assigned a unique code that is used when students and parents sign up for text or email notifications.  

Once they are signed up, students and parents will receive a text message or email from the teacher anytime it's sent to the class.  Teachers log in to REMIND 101 via the web to post a reminder.  Each message is limited to 140 characters.

Student and parent phone numbers are not displayed to the teacher since all subscribers are identified by name only.  Teachers may create up to 10 classes.

REMIND 101 has the ability to schedule messages to be sent at a specific day and time.  

This is a free notification service.

Your challenge:
Share your thoughts on how REMIND 101 could be utilized in your classroom.  How do you currently publicize announcements or assignments?  Have those avenues been successful?