Monday, December 28, 2009

Project Based Presents

For Christmas, my family swaps gifts that we make for each other. We draw names from a hat the year before and even the youngest toddler is in the mix. Everyone participates, everyone creates something and everyone loves it. (My brother Keith usually out does us all with some ridiculous computer he builds for one of the kids ;)

This year, I helped my four year old son create this one minute video as his gift to his five year old cousin Liz. He wrote the story, painted the pictures and then I recorded his narration. I built what is basically a moving slideshow. The final step was to put it on StoryKit on her iPod Touch. Here's the iPhone version.

Unmitigated cuteness aside, I've thought a lot about the educational process that went on here.
  • How fun it was for him, even though it could have been perceived by him as an 'assignment.'
  • How much the public presentation of the video influenced the work.
  • What he learned about story telling and the writing process.
Now granted, Dad had a heavy hand with the technological parts of the gift, but the images and words were all his.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Updating iTunes on a Maine MLTI MacBook

Every year the iPod is one of the most popular holiday gifts out there and I'm sure this season will be no different. Especially since the new iPod Nano has a built in video camera and my personal favorite there's the iPod Touch. The issue is that the newer iPod's need iTunes 9 to work. iTunes 9 needs Safari 4 to work, however if you download Safari you get version 4.0.4 which only works on OSX 10.5.8, and the MLTI MacBooks have 10.5.7

Confused yet?

All you have to know is this:
Enjoy that new iPod!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The iPod Touch in the Classroom

For the recent K12 Online Conference, I did a session on the iPod Touch in the Classroom. Now that it has been published, I can blog here with the link for the supporting documentation: and below I strung the videos together using Prezi. I've been wanting to try Prezi out and this was a good reason to do so. (Also for those who watched the video on the K12 site, there's an additional 'easter egg' at the end.)

Friday, December 11, 2009

GTA DC Gadgets

One of the highlights of the Google Teacher Academy is Ronald Ho's run through of hidden features in Google Spreadsheets. On the plane home I was thinking about how some of the gadgets he shared and how I could use them with my teachers. Here's a few I came up with.

The first is way for teachers to create a Flashcard gadget they can post on their site or blog. What excited one of my teachers specifically was the ability for her to create different sets of terms for different unit and put them on different spreadsheet tabs. That way, she only needs to alter the range (where the gadget pulls the list from) and her site is updated with flashcards for the next unit.

Next is a template for Book Entry. We have a requirement that students must read 25 books a year and the management of recording all that data can become overwhelming. This Booklist Template uses a Form to enter the information, and dates, counts and creates a graph of the data. Not the coolest use of a gadget, but useful. (BTW I went with the BookWorm in the Bars of Stuff Gadget, but I really wish they would have some more educational oriented images like books, apples or school buses. I think it would get used a lot more.)

Finally, a teacher was making a Word Find for elementary students. She wanted a holiday theme, so we put three words in the spreadsheet, (holiday, tree, ornament) used the Magic Fill for the rest (explanation here) and we had a list of 20 holiday themed words. Insert the Word Find gadget that pulls from the list and wahlah you have a Word Find to print or embed in a webpage. I did remind her that this pure unadulterated busy work but if the time she saved in making it translates into something more educationally meaningful, then I was all for it.