Monday, February 27, 2012

5 Easy Ways to Convert Your Videos for the Classroom

This is a guest blog from Kristin Daddario, a 1st grade teacher at Lincoln Edison Charter School in York. We would love to hear about your newest technology discoveries and how you apply them to your classroom.

As a teacher, I am always looking for fun and engaging ways to introduce new topics and get my students excited about what we are learning. Have you ever found a really cool video at home that would be perfect for your new unit, and couldn’t wait to show your class? You get to your classroom and just as you go to play it, the site is blocked!! UGH!!! Although I continue to “bug” the tech team to unblock my favorite sites, I have found an easy and temporary fix to this problem!!! Mediaconverter.org is a great way to show all your exciting videos, and it is super easy!! Just follow these 5 easy steps, and you will be on your way!!!

1. Go to the video(s) you would like to convert- I prefer YouTube videos, but they can come from any site!
2. Once there, right click and copy the URL - if you want better quality in your video add (&fmt=18) to the end of your URL
3. Go to www.mediaconverter.org
4. Once there, click on “Enter a Link”, where you will right click and paste your URL you copied. Click “OK” and this will bring you back to the original screen, where you started. Here you may enter more links by repeating the above steps, or click on “Go to the next step”.
5. Once you click on “Go to the next step”, you will choose your output file as “avi” and then click “OK”. This will bring you to a summary page, where you will click start to begin converting your videos. Once finished, you will get a notification that the conversion is done, where you can click download, next to your video! (If you are converting more than 1 video, it is better to download 1 video at a time)Happy Converting!

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4 Easy E’s: Creating a Student Managed Classroom Blog

This is a guest blog from Kristin McFatridge, a 4th grade teacher at Central York School District. We would love to hear about your newest technology discoveries and how you apply them to your classroom.
Creating a blog doesn’t have to be a hair pulling experience. It’s supposed to be a fun way to engage students on the road to becoming lifelong 21st century learners. By following the 4 Easy E’s you, and your students, will become certified bloggers in no time. PS. If you’re reading this you, you’ve managed to find and identify what a blog looks like and you are already a step ahead!

1) Explore The teacher’s job is to explore and read all types of blogs (during all that free time we have ). Check out educational blogs, fun blogs, anything that may interest you! Pinterest.com has a lot of great starter ideas. One of the most popular, FREE blogging sites that I highly suggest is blogspot.com. Sign up and create your own classroom blog; navigate throughout the site and play around with all the buttons. Ask yourself questions, “What is that little icon for”? TRY IT OUT! You don’t have to publish anything yet. Trial and error is the key. Attempt to post at least one blog for the students to view when you introduce them to the concept of becoming 21st century Bloggers.

2) Engage “Attention all 4th grade Bloggers!” Don’t be scared by the blank stares, most of them will have no idea what you are talking about. Introduce them to the concept of blogging (if anything, they’ll get a kick out of the word “blog”). Show them how to access your classroom blog and read them your very first post. For 100% student engagement, include a picture of the class and throw some of their names into the first post. Kiddos love seeing themselves advertised on a computer screen and they won’t be able to keep their eyes off of the blog. Here comes the kicker, explain THEY will be taking over and be in complete control of the content of the classroom blog. They will become official Bloggers.

3) Experiment Give students time to play around; a little guided discovery never hurt anyone. The best way for students to learn how to blog is to have them teach themselves and learn from each other in “kid language”. Gather a small group of students and show them different aspects of blogspot.com (how to change the font, upload a picture, etc.) and those students will become the experts, the go-to students when a problem may arise. Give students time to post their own blogs and read and evaluate each other’s progress.

4) Enjoy Sit back and relax. Trust your students. Give them a rubric or check list as a guideline, but don’t take away their voice. You’ll be amazed how quickly your “net-generation” students grasp technology. Add the link somewhere easily accessible, like a classroom website, and advertise your blog to parents and other teachers. Become the facilitator, but leave the blogging for the students.

Join the discussion on facebook.com/myreadingsecrets.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

3 Tips to Improving UR Netiquette

Technology is wonderful. We have instant access to news, videos, and music. I love Christmas shopping with a click of a button. But with all this access comes a lot of responsibility. This blog is a call to action to educators to step up and teach students how to be kind, gentle, and supportive while online. The following video will help activate your schema.

1. Teach students what it means to become digital citizens. A quick youtube search of "digital citizen" will produce over 2,800 videos you can use to begin a discussion. Post the videos on your moodle and put links in parent newsletters to help the conversation continue at home.
2. Establish norms for online responses to blogs, reviews, and other social communities like facebook and twitter. The digital fingerprint students leave could cost them friends and even jobs.
3. Infuse the revolutions that have taken place through social media in your history class. Make sure to include cyberbullying into your school wide acceptance plan. Increase awareness about online societies that support anorexia, suicide, and child abuse during health class.

Let's take back control and teach students positive netiquette. If we won't do it, someone else will. We can't afford to ignore this any more. What are your thoughts on our professional responsibility of creating digital citizens? Join the discussion on facebook.com/myreadingsecrets.

Friday, February 24, 2012

3 Tips to Boost Memory

Did you know you were not born with the ability to read? That’s right, it is not natural for you to read. You had to teach your brain how to make meaning from these squiggly lines on the page. Research suggests human minds differ in their ability to make meaning. The key to remembering what you read is to discover the way your mind likes to learn.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO YOU AS A READER?

1. If your mind prefers visual input,you must look at the pictures on the page before, during, and after reading. You should also take notes by drawing pictures to represent the concepts you read.
2. If your mind prefers auditory input,you may have to read out loud or record yourself reading and then play it back. You should talk about the concepts you read before you take notes.
3. If your mind prefers kinesthetic input,you may have to read standing up or sitting on an exercise ball. Stop often to walk around the room and take notes by creating movements to represent the concepts you read.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fast reading isn't good reading?

Hey, this is your brain here. I need to talk to you. It really bugs me when you assume I can do all the reading myself. Reading is a two way street. It takes both me (the brain) and you (the reader) to make meaning from these squiggly lines on the page.

You read too fast. What do you think I am, a NASCAR? After awhile, I’m so confused I crash. I take all that new information and throw it into the junkyard. If you expect me to remember, you need to adjust your reading speed and apply strategies to keep me from thinking about other things.

We have a long road ahead of us. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride!

If you agree with this post, leave your comments below or share how you adjust your reading speed on facebook.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

3 Ways to Improve Your Reading

Your mind is not a responsible adult, it’s more like a two year old child; naturally curious and always asking, “Why?”- If you begin to read without setting a purpose, the child inside your mind throws a temper tantrum. It goes something like this:


Set a purpose and lose the temper tantrum. It’s that simple.
1. If you are reading for entertainment:- you are reading for fun. Since the reading material matches your interests, it’s easy to read. As a result, your mind is able to multi-task (do two things at once) such as; listen to music or watch TV, without effecting comprehension. Entertainment sources include; text messages, magazines, novels and facebook.

2. If you are reading to learn:- you are reading to be informed. Since the reading material is new, it’s harder to read. As a result, you will have to read slower and stop more often. Informational sources include; textbooks, professional journals, technical manuals and blogs.

3. If you are reading to evaluate:- you must read with a critical eye. Not everything written down is true. Pay attention to the author’s word choice. If the author makes a statement about a belief that should be held, a judgment that should be shared, or an action that should be taken, the author is trying to influence your feelings, thoughts and behavior. Persuasive sources include; editorials, movie/book reviews, advertisements, and letters to the editor.

Finally, remember to always respect your inner child. The instant you feel a temper tantrum begin, give your mind a time out. Walk away from the text and allow your mind time to process the new information.

Do you have a different reason for reading? Leave your thoughts and ideas below or on facebook.com/myreadingsecrets

Thursday, February 16, 2012

3 tips to Eliminate Distractions

A distraction is when someone or something blocks your mind from paying attention to the text you're reading. The best way to pay attention to what you're reading is to avoid being distracted by other stimuli.


Your mind is naturally going to be drawn to three specific stimuli:
1. New or novel thoughts:-Your brain loves to think. Control what your mind thinks by drawing pictures about the text you are reading and writing notes in the margin.
2. Loud sounds:- Sit in a quiet room with the TV off, computer off, cell phone off, and head phones out of your ears. Yes, I said OFF, not low, muted or on vibrate.
3. Fast moving objects:-When choosing a seat in class or the library, sit far way from doors and windows. This way your mind won't pay attention to people walking down the hall or cars driving on the road.

What does this mean to you as a reader? If you want to remember what you read, you must remove the distractions from your environment. By removing distractions, your mind will pay attention longer and remember more.

Remember, multi-tasking while reading is as dangerous as multi-tasking while driving! Be a safe reader and remove all distractions before you read.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Falling in Love with Edmodo- 6 Steps to Get Started

This is a guest blog from Joanna Wallas, a middle school world language teacher at South Eastern York School District. We would love to hear about your newest technology discoveries and how you apply them to your classroom.

I’m obsessed. I admit it; I am completely and unequivocally obsessed and possibly in love. The object of my affection? Edmodo. You may scoff, as many of my colleagues have, however it does not negate the truth- I a former skeptic, have fallen in love with Edmodo.


Why am I so crazed you may ask? I have discovered that it is not just a mere
facebook interface for the classroom, but a class management system that can
make your classroom mobile. It’s secure, and circumvents several problems that other learning platforms have with email requirements, moderation, peer to peer texting, and parent transparency. Here are some tips to get started with Edmodo, try them and maybe you will fall in love too.

1. Build & Organize your library- The first flirtatious feature that drew my eye was the library. Within minutes, I could upload the entire year of class notes onto Edmodo. However, that was only the beginning. Prezi’s, voicethreads, youtube videos, screencasts, pdfs, audio files, and other websites can be uploaded easily and appear as a small preview icon. The key here is to have a collection of materials from a variety of sources. Many of us already have engaging electronic materials; we just never had an easy secure way to share them with students or maybe even not enough time. After you upload material, you can organize it by folders and control whom you share those folders.Material can appear in more than one folder allowing you to refer to it later on in another lesson, or to allow students to review past concepts.
2. Simplify scanning- The part of my relationship with Edmodo that I dreaded committing to was scanning my paper materials. The thought of sitting there and scanning page after page was daunting. Maybe you have already gone paperless, maybe you haven’t. This was the big thing holding me back; however, I discovered one tiny secret that made my life easier. The brand new photo copier at work emailed scans of images straight to my work email. All I had to do was punch in my address. Most of the teachers in my building are unaware of this, check out your photocopier- you may get lucky. If you are not the lucky goose I am, check out other options like your local library, staples, or mail centers. If you can streamline this part, the rest of the relationship will be easy. Electronic copies can easily be added to posts, assignments, quizzes, and the library.
3. Think ahead and give yourself time- I’m looking forward to marriage or at least a committed relationship with Edmodo. However, I am not diving in and shopping for a wedding ring at this very moment. I’m “dating” first and laying the groundwork for future plans. I work on the library,then make a quiz or two, and then try adding a student or two before adding a whole class with assignments and tasks.
4. Test the Waters-Some couples buy a pet together to see how things work out. I created a fake student to how things would work. I put my fake student into class and explored as her. I gave her assignments, checked out my library (her backpack), and posted things to see how students might experience Edmodo. I learned students can message me or the whole class and I can even moderate those comments. They can’t directly communicate with each other which cuts down on many cyberbullying or time wasting concerns.
5. Join a community- Dating’s more fun when you can do it in a group or with other couples. Many teachers are out there having the same problems you are, or they are creating incredibly innovative things and sharing them with others. This is a great way to multi-task and have a PLN as well as a platform for your students.


6.Meet the Parents and Do Your Homework- This goes back to planning your
dates and your future. You can’t just marry someone your parents never met. Edmodo has a help section with FAQ’s and a blog. They even created some resources that you can adapt to your classroom. These helpful items include student guidelines, codes of conduct, parent letters, and guidebooks for everyone involved. Their resources help explain to parents what Edmodo is and will help you explain what purpose it will serve in your classroom.

As with all things electronic, there are many things like access and time constraints to consider before entering into a relationship with Edmodo. I haven’t yet regretted my commitment. If you decide to start flirting with the idea of Edmodo in your classroom, write and tell me how your relationship with Edmodo works out!

3 Simple Ways to Incorporate Technology into your Classroom


This is a guest blog from Megan Anderson, a Kindergarten teacher at Red Lion Area School District. We would love to hear about your newest technology discoveries and how you apply them to your classroom.

If you’re like me, you love technology and anything related to it. But when it comes to applying it in your classroom… You have no idea where to start! Yep, that was me about 4 weeks ago. I had all these great resources at my fingertips and just didn’t know it. It was overwhelming! If you’re looking for three quick and easy resources to use in your classroom, try youtube, twitter and blogs. Let’s take a look at each.

1.Youtube Youtube can be used for so much more than looking at the latest viral video or checking out cool Superbowl commercials that you missed! There are many educational videos out there and also how-to’s. I searched all over the internet looking for a Groundhog Day video and found everything I needed on Youtube. You can tell a child how the groundhog will come out of its hole and might see his shadow or might not. Until they see it for themselves, it won’t make as much sense. This is where Youtube comes in handy! You can show your kiddos what you are talking about and give it real meaning allowing them to make those important connections.

2.Twitter It seems most every young person you meet has a facebook or twitter account. Let’s take what they already use and turn it into something educational. In the past teachers would assign a reading passage and have students write a summary (using paper and pencils!). Instead of writing the answers on paper, you can have your students tweet (that’s the twitter word for writing a message) a response back to you! Let’s face it, they always have their phones attached to their hip and we know most of these phones have Internet capabilities. The neat thing about it, you need to be concise and synthesize information because you only have 140 characters to form your answer. There is some higher-level thinking!

3.Blogs My eyes were opened to blogs last year. I had a student teacher that kept talking about blogs. Finally I said to her, “What are you talking about? What is a blog?” A blog is basically an online journal that is available on the web. It can be updated daily, weekly, monthly, or whenever it suites the “blogger” (the owner of the blog). As an educator, I am always looking for new and creative ideas. There are so many wonderful blogs that are specific to grade levels and content areas. You can find everything you need from math, to science to social skills! And, instead of recreating the wheel, there are many materials created by other teachers for your use. Give it a try. Click here to go to Google’s blog search. It only searches blogs! Happy searching!

See, that wasn’t too bad was it! Now, where’s that easy button?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

How to Create a Video in 5 Easy Steps Using Animoto

This is a guest blog by Kelly Bortner, an elementary art teacher at Conewago School District. We would love to hear how you use animoto in your classroom. Please leave your comments below or visit facebook.com/myreadingsecrets to post on my wall.

As my anniversary rapidly approached (Lucky #13?!) I had to do some quick thinking…what to give the Love of my Life for our special day without breaking the piggy bank. You see, my Sweetie had missed a LOT of work due to the nature of his job & the weather…(apparently he decided THIS should be the year to test out the “for richer or for poorer” vow with the emphasis being on the “for poorer” part! Thanks, Honey!) And then it was as though the anniversary gods smiled down upon me …I was introduced to the wonderful world of ANIMOTO- a site that claims it is “Making Awesome Easier” where I could make a FREE (can’t do any better than FREE when attempting to save the piggy bank!) video of our first 13 years together. And almost as great as the fact that the piggy bank would be spared was the fact that it was EASY! (And for me to say anything that even remotely resembles technology is EASY- well you can bank on it!) If making a video for your special someone’s birthday, anniversary, or just because sounds like something that might interest you (did I mention FREE & EASY?) just read on… and have fun!

5 Easy Steps:
1. Log on to www.animoto.com
You will need to take about 2 minutes to open an account to enable you to use animoto. (But hey, I’m guessing those 2 minutes are WAY less time than it would take you to drive to the mall to actually BUY a gift!)

2. Choose Your Video Style
There are approximately 30+ styles from which you can choose. Just find a video style that looks interesting and “CLICK”…you get to preview it so no worries if you don’t love it- just hit the “X” and try again!

3. Choose Your Music
Each video comes with music pre-programmed, but if you feel like dancing to your own beat, then GO AHEAD, and name that tune! There are other songs on animoto that you can choose or you can download your own.

4. Add Your Photos (or video clips) & Text
You can download your photos or videos or even add clip art instead to suit your needs. Each photo and text box is its own slide so go ahead & just start adding- you can just click & drag your way to the perfect arrangement once everything in loaded on there.

5. Click “Produce Video”
Click “Produce Video” and in the 10 seconds it takes you to ponder what a GENIUS you are for making this video, you will receive an e-mail telling you your video is ready to view & share. You can post it to You Tube, Facebook, etc…or just save it in “Your Videos” to view/share at a later time.

6. What is this Step 6 Nonsense?!
(Okay, okay- I KNOW I said “In 5 Easy Steps,” but Step 6 is so BEYOND easy I didn’t even think it should count!)…Now all you have to do is sit back and listen to how wonderfully CREATIVE, TALENTED, & THOUGHTFUL you are for all the “hard work” (wink, wink ;) you did to make your Honey’s anniversary (or birthday, etc.) so special! So that’s it! Anyone can do It- including you…so what are you waiting for?! I would LOVE to hear all about how your visit to animoto went so keep me posted! Happy Creating!

3 Steps to Creating an Engaging Critique

This is a guest blog by Katlyn Wolfgang, a high school art teacher at Central York High School. We would love to hear how you are infusing technology into your classroom. Please leave your comments below or visit facebook.com/myreadingsecrets and post your comments on my wall.

Critiquing in a high school art classroom.

Commence all groaning by students AND teachers.

As a teacher of high school art students, engaging the students in a discussion about their artwork in a constructive manner is one that takes skillful planning, questioning and trickery to avoid the sound of crickets and blank stares for an entire class period. I have spent countless hours searching for and experimenting with different ideas to engage my students in a critique. Some of these tactics worked, some failed and others served a purpose but I would never touch again with a 100ft pole.

I was never completely satisfied with a critique until VOICETHREAD.

The best way I can describe VoiceThread (a conversation in the cloud) would be as an interactive PowerPoint in which all can collaborate through comments. Comments can be typed, drawn, video recorded, or recorded by a microphone or a phone.

Take a look at a VoiceThread of student work and their constructive feedback to one another STUDENT CRITIQUE

Did you like what you saw? Want to create one of your own?

FOLLOW THESE 3 EASY STEPS:

1.CREATE A VOICETHREAD
Sign up. Create your own VoiceThread by uploading your desired pictures.

Sidebar: I set up a lighting area, camera and tri-pod for students to take pictures of their work throughout a class period or two. From there I keep all of the pictures on my desktop in a folder for easy selection. Saves me time AND it teaches students about framing an image and using a digital camera.

2. SHARE THE LINK
Choose to share your thread by copying a link and post it in an easily accessible space.

3. STUDENT ENGAGMENT
Have students sign up for an account and access the link. Once on the thread they can leave comments to their classmates work.

Sidebar: I have my students respond to the 5 pieces that are featured after their work. Their comments must be either warm or cool feedback and relate to the Elements of Art or Principles of Design.

And, DONE!

The students LOVE it. They can sit back and develop their ideas in a mode that is comfortable for them. I have found that the quality critiques are much greater and our time in class is used more efficiently.

Monday, February 6, 2012

3 Ways to Begin a Blog

It can be scary to share your thoughts and feelings with the world. If you don't want to blog for yourself, blog for your students. They need a guide on the side to show them the proper way to use a blog.

1. Mentor Bloggers: Why recreate the wheel? Start your training by following other bloggers like Angela Maiers or Cal Newport. Add comments to their posts and ask for suggestions on how they schedule their blog writing.

2. Follow the Formula: Take the fear out blogging by following a formula. Talent Culture wrote a wonderful blog post explaining the 10 easy steps. Once you have practice blogging, you can move away from the formula and get creative.

3. Let Students be the Experts: Don't feel like you need to create content right away, instead, invite students to blog first and you respond to their posts. When students are empowered to teach their teacher, respect can lead to inspiration.

I would love to hear the steps you took to begin a blog. Share your ideas below or on my facebook page. When we embrace technology, we send a message to students that says we value their literacy.


5 Ways Blogging Extends Your Curriculum

Did you ever stop to thing about the word, BLOG? I didn't. I just mindlessly adopted the word into my vocabulary and never gave it another thought. That is, until today when I decided to write about blogging for my college class.

I discovered the word, BLOG is actually a contraction for the words, "Web Log", shortened to weblog - we = BLOG. A blog is an online diary where people share their thoughts and daily activities. A blog is a perfect way to being to move from a controlled email communication to a more open form of communication. Blogs can engage students in a digital forum to share their thoughts and reflect on their learning. If you are nervous about trying a blog, let me remind you of your target audience and why you, as their teacher, need to have experience blogging.

video

Now that I have established a need to blog, here are five ways blogs extend your curriculum.

1. Curriculum note taker – Students take notes during class on the blog. Students can go home and look at notes. Teacher can print and copy notes for whole class. Parents can go on to site and use notes to support their child with homework and improve school-home communication.

2. Curriculum reviewer – Student looks over notes from the week and writes a blog reflecting on major themes and ideas, asks questions, and makes general comments about what was learned throughout the week. Students could also make predictions of what will be learned next. Students can post comments and add information to the blog.

3. Curriculum tutor – Student records tutorials to help with homework and projects. Students could also reflect about the day by providing review questions. Here is a free site to help students begin recording: http://www.screenr.com/ Embed tutorials into the blog for continued learning. Eric Marcos of Santa Monica, CA has collected hundreds of math tutorials for the world to enjoy. Here are some benefits to recording and posting tutorials within your blog:

Benefits to producer: When I am explaining the process, it helps me understand the concept on a deeper level. I have a different way to explain the concept. The tutorial increased my motivation to do the homework because I knew others would hear what I had to say.

Benefits to watcher: I relate better to peer voices because they use familiar language. The delivery of seeing a video helps make the process more concrete. I am able to stop and rewind at my own pace. When my parents don't know how to help me, we watch the tutorial together.

Benefits to teacher: I can practice and record at home and then show it to the whole class, at a station, or allow students who are home sick to watch from home.

4. Curriculum producer – Students create videos prior to a unit (acceleration and build background knowledge), support topic during unit (other examples) or for review. You can get a free educator account at: http://www.animoto.com/

5. Curriculum researcher – Students search for websites, videos, blogs, tweet quotes, and assignments that would improve the unit for future students. Each site can be linked within the blog for easy access and less paper. Students can explore the sites on demand, while they are on the go, or over the weekend.

How do you use blogs to extend your curriculum. Post a comment below or share on my facebook wall. Remember, blogging isn't about perfection, it's about collaborating, communicating and creating better ideas with other educators from around the world.