Glogster—Replace Your Flimsy Poster with a Digital One

Glogster is a web 2.0 tool that helps students create digital posters for class projects. Unfortunately, the one glog that explains all about Glogster doesn’t work. In its place, I’ve selected a few from the Glogpedia as great representations of what Glogster can do (see below).

Pricing

Glogster is a paid service. There are three pricing tiers available for elementary, secondary, and faculty. Head on over to Glogster for more specific numbers/detail.

ACCESS: Education ONLY

Sadly, Glogster and its awesomeness is only available for educational use. It has a .com address, but it is frequently called GlogsterEDU. There is no commercial product available. It is truly a shame because I think there a some business meetings that could cease to exist if a link to a Glogster was just emailed instead. Just think of how much time you could save NOT listening to THAT GUY asking the same question three times and then playing Devil’s advocate.

iPad App

Have an iPad and an a Glogster login? Then, according to the marketing copy, you can “experience the new standard for learning anytime, anywhere with our iPad application – built from the ground up for a truly engaging learning experience. See Glogpedia at its very best with a sleek new browser, and express your ideas instantly with enhanced editing functionality.” Sweet. Still need to download the free app? Here’s a link.

Glogpedia Content Library

Students make glogs and some of them are available to the public for examples, enjoyment, or you know, educating. Sometimes you just need to school someone one Newton’s Laws or the Oxford Comma using some sweet graphics and videos. If you happen to find yourself in that type of situation, visit the Glogpeida Content Library to find the perfect lecture, sans lecture*.

  • “Boom!” and “Booyah!” not included.

Sample Glogs

For the following Glogs, you may need to expand into full-screen mode as some of them are widescreen glogs. A message may also pop up about Flash. It is okay to click allow.

Book Review: Stowaway

Stowaway is the diary of Nicholas Young, an eleven-year-old stowaway aboard the H.M.S. Endeavour. He writes of running away in England and stowing aboard the ship with the help of a few crew members. He doesn’t stay hidden for long and eventually becomes part of the crew. Nick writes of danger, natives, foreign lands, and death in the three years it takes the Endeavour to circumnavigate the globe. As often as it is relayed to him, he inserts their position using longitude and latitude coordinates. When the Endeavour returns home to England, Nicholas has matured and has a new outlook on his future.

Stowaway, by Karen Hesse, blends fiction and history. The entire diary is fictitious; however, as many facts as possible are true. The following information is from the Afterword.

Captain James Cook made three voyages of discovery between 1768 and 1779. Stowaway documents the first of those voyages…

Nicholas Young’s name first appeared in Endeavour‘s muster book on April 18, 1769, eight months after the ship left England. Scholars have speculated as to how Nicholas might have boarded Endeavour in the first place. Some argue he was smuggled aboard by the botanist, Joseph Banks. Others speculate Nick stowed away unaided. A third hypothesis suggests Nicholas was brought aboard and kept hidden by certain members of the ship’s company. This last scenario seems the most likely. Endeavour was a small vessel. It would have been nearly impossible for Nick to remain undetected until the ship sailed…

Here is what is known about the real Nicholas Young….He became an official member of the crew in Tahiti and was promoted to surgeon’s assistant at Batavia. He was the first to sight New Zealand: Young Nick’s Head is named for him…Nick was also the first to sight Land’s End. These fact’s are documented in journals kept aboard Endeavour by Captain Cook himself…He truly did write in Mr. Bootie’s journal, “Evil communications corrupt good, boldly signing his comment…The remainder of Nicholas Young’s story is undocumented. His hair color, his fondness for birds, his family situation, are all the author invention…There is one other fact about Nicholas Young existing in the public record. Though he didn’t travel again with Captain Cook, he did make one more voyage with Joseph Banks, a journey to Iceland in 1772.

After the Afterword, there is full ship’s company manifest. It lists the names, ages (if known), and rank at the time the ship set sail. After the manifest, there is a brief ship’s itinerary. Following the ship’s itinerary, there is a glossary of  words. These include naval and nautical words, destinations in which the names may or may not have changed over time, words in which meaning may be different that currently accepted (such as burial), or words frequently used in the late 1700s but less so now. Finally, there is a note on the maps used on the end papers versus the longitude reading in Nick’s diary, as James Cook recorded longitude “as the full 360 degrees of a circle.”

Overall, I enjoyed Stowaway. I liked the diary format, as that was most common on the ships at the time. I really enjoyed just how much truth the author weaved into the story. This story takes all the facts we know about Nicholas Young’s life and adds some fiction to link them together. The story is an interesting, exciting, and realistic coming-of-age story for a stowaway in the late 1700s. This book will entertain you as well as educate you.

Book Review: Goodnight iPad

As a child, one of the many bedtime stories I heard (and eventually read myself) was Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. The basic premise is a bunny who is going to bed and looks around his room and sees different objects and then says good night to them, including the moon outside the window.

Goodnight Moon was originally published in 1947 (Wikipedia). And though it still is beloved by many parents as they read to their children at night, some children may not connect to the book the way the parents did when they were younger. Now, there’s a parody for that.

Goodnight iPad tells a similar story of the bunny family at night. However, this family has so many electronic gadgets that the mother bunny cannot sleep. She says, “okay, that’s it!” and start’s saying goodnight to all the electronics…by tossing them out the window! She then tucks the little bunnies into bed and reads “Goodnight Moon” via flashlight.

According to the back of the book, the parody was written by Ann Droyd (get it?…android!), a pseudonym for an IRA/Children’s Choices winner who has written over 25 books. A quick visit to www.anndroyd.com and I found that Goodnight iPad was the first book in the parody series. There is another…If You Give a Mouse an iPhone! I may have to get that one too…

I love the book. I thought it was cute, however, some of my younger tutoring students did not think the use of digital devices was all the clever or interesting. Perhaps they had not read Goodnight Moon or maybe I’m too old and still fascinated by technology rather than it being everyday objects. Or most likely, it was just below their reading level. We all go through a “that’s for babies” phase. Perhaps I caught them in it.

You decide….On Ann Droyd’s website there was an animation of Goodnight iPad. Watch it below and leave your thoughts on the book in the comments below.

(New Edition) Master the Basics: English

I’m apparently behind on my publication of new materials, despite the inordinate amount of time I spend in bookstores. I have rather lame excuse for my inattention to this new edition…I was reading other books…for my Master’s degree.

Nevertheless, I am now aware that there is in fact a third edition to Master the Basics: English.  If by some chance, I am not the last person to be aware of this fact, I shall spread the word.

I wrote a blog post for the second edition of Master the Basics: English in December of 2012.  The third edition was published in September of 2013.

The third edition did not go through a major rewrite.  In fact,  it is nearly identical to the second edition.  There is, however, one new section: “Common Forms to Avoid”. This section goes through pronunciation and each of the parts of speech with advice on common errors that ESL/ELL students make.  This is very helpful for those students to curb major problem areas.  It is also helpful for native speakers to help them understand common errors and be ready to correct (and explain) those errors.

There is also a brand new yellow cover.  This now standardizes the Master the Basics covers and the 501 Verbs books.  They still only have Master the Basics for English, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, and English for Spanish Speakers.

The third edition also boasts it is fully recyclable and printed in the USA.

For more information on Master the Basics: English and other language guides by Barron’s, visit www.barronseduc.com.

Podcast Review: English Pronunciation Pod

One of my main complaints from my ESL/ELL students is that people cannot understand them when they speak. Grammar books and bilingual dictionaries don’t help them when they want to converse with native speakers or simply go about their lives in the United States.

I sympathize with my students greatly and empathized with them slightly. Too many high school and college Spanish courses have taught me that I sound like a dummy when I speak to my native-speaking professor.

Thus, I searched to find materials that will actually help them reduce their accent in a meaningful way.  There are too many pronunciation tools out there that have students repeat words and sounds without telling them how to make those sounds.  A student can hear “dog” over and over, but if they don’t know to drop their jaw to produce the vowel sound, it will always be said with an accent (discounting children…their brains are wired for language differently than adults).

Enter in Charles Becker and his podcast, English Pronunciation Pod.  I found this podcast several years ago and have used it over and over again with numerous students.  They love it.  They love it because it tells them how to speak English, including: what they are probably doing wrong, what “wrong” sounds like, and common mistakes for some languages.  Students have found his pronunciation easy to understand and like listening to him.  Of course, some of the really novice students have too much of a difficulty understanding him so this podcast is best used with students who know English but want to improve their pronunciation.

I really like that this podcast has transcripts on its website for students to follow along.  However, he could have used a better editor…there are some glaring problems that Microsoft Word can fix quite easily and quickly.  I like to copy and paste the web transcript into a Word document, fix the errors (save it so I only have to do it once!), and print it off for my students to use while they listen to the podcast.  This allows them to read and hear at the same time.  Unfortunately, the transcript isn’t a word for word transcription.  It seems to be the podcast in visual form.  It leaves out some digressions.  It does confuse my students at first, but then they get used to his format and appreciate the succinctness of the transcript for future reference.

Podcasts can be downloaded via iTunes to an iPad or iPhone.  I have them all downloaded to my iPad.  However, it is also possible to listen to podcasts on the web.  You can listen to the podcasts on the archive page or the transcript page.

The most unfortunate thing about this podcast is that it is no longer being updated.  I do not know why.  Awhile ago I emailed Charles Becker telling him I used this podcast frequently and would love more podcasts.  He did reply back indicating he would publish more podcasts.  However, only a couple podcasts were published in 2012.  Most of the podcasts were published in 2008-2011.

You can also purchase his “full pronunciation course” (Best Accent Training MP3s) that you hear an advertisement for at the end of every podcast (I usually stop the podcast before that…my students understand and appreciate it).  I’ve looked into it before.  It costs $75 and consists of most of the same material that is presented in the podcast.  Thus, I have not purchased it.  Let me know if you have purchased it and find it to be vastly different from the podcasts!

Overall: I love this podcast.  I have learned more about my own language while listening to this podcast.  It has helped me become a better teacher and has helped my ESL/ELL students reduce their accent and sound more like an American.

Can You Teach Computer Science Without a Computer?

You can get students interested in computer science even if your school doesn’t have enough computers. In fact, you can get students so passionate about computer science before they even turn the computer on.

Forget about engaging them before you turn the computer on.  You don’t even need a computer to teach computer science. Watch how Computer Science Unplugged separated the computer from computer science.

Visit csunplugged.org for activities and teaching guides.

No Rest for the Dead

Rosemary Thomas was executed for the brutal murder of her husband—he had been posthumously stuffed in an iron maiden and shipped from her museum in San Francisco to Germany—but 10 years later, the cop who was responsible for putting the needle in her arm believes she was innocent.  He gathers the previous suspects at a memorial service for Rosemary on the 10th anniversary of her death to see if time and an execution made someone a little too unguarded.

No Rest for the Dead is a mystery novel written by 26 well-known authors.  Several of my favorite mystery authors had contributed to this novel, which piqued my interest.

The story is expertly crafted—no individual author shines, yet each voice is distinct.  Despite having 26 authors, the novel has the same voice throughout, as if one author wrote the entire story.

I think the story is successful partly due to the talented writers and partly because the story lends perfectly to having multiple writers, as the story shifts between numerous people’s perspectives and has a number of time jumps.

All proceeds, after author contributing expenses, from this book go to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

I don’t want to write too much about No Rest for the Dead, but if you are interested in mystery novels and enjoy any one of these authors, you’ll enjoy this book:

  • Jeff Abbott
  • Lori Armstrong
  • Sandra Brown
  • Thomas Cook
  • Jeffery Deaver
  • Diana Gabaldon
  • Tess Gerritsen
  • Andrew F. Gulli
  • Peter James
  • J.A. Jance
  • Faye Kellerman
  • Raymond Khoury
  • John Lescroart
  • Jeff Lindsay
  • Gayle Lynds
  • Phillp Margolin
  • Alexander McCall Smith
  • Michael Palmer
  • T.Jefferson Parker
  • Matthew Pearl
  • Kathy Reichs
  • Marcus Sakey
  • Jonathan Santlofer
  • Lisa Scottoline
  • R.L. Stine
  • Marcia Talley

There is a second book, Inherit the Dead, with a different plot, written by 20 authors; however, there is only one overlapping author.  The proceeds from this book also go to a different charity.  Amazon reviewers do not rate the book as high as No Rest for the Dead, and coupled with a noir style, that I’m not too interested in, I have no plans to read the other book.

Best of MACUL: Ignite Learning

On Friday, August 8, I attended the Best of MACUL conference at Oakland Schools.  It was jointly hosted by the Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning (MACUL) and the REMC Association of Michigan.  The conference was designed to highlight some of the presentations that were given at the MACUL conference in March, mostly for those who were unable to attend.

The Best of MACUL conference ran similar to most conferences, there were one of three presentations to choose from during each hour.  There were four total hours in addition to one lunch hour.  For the full list of presentations and presenters, please see the Best of MACUL Oakland Schools conference schedule/agenda.


App Smashing Your Way to Powerful Learning
(PresenterLaura Cummings, Oakland Schools)

App Smashing, coined by Greg Kulowiec, “is the process of using multiple apps to create projects or complete tasks.”  It’s not a new idea, but once Kulowiec gave the concept a catchy name, it became the newest buzzword in education.

Cummings demonstrated a few apps on the iPad that worked well together to create digital content that reflected student learning.  These apps help students see that the information they learn in school is doing something.  The paper is no longer the final product; the digital content is.  The students are now producing something they can share on social media.

Side note: Cummings created a Weebly page with links to the apps and project examples.  It also has some excellent links to more information about App Smashing and rules to follow for a successful experience.

I was most impressed with the following apps: Skitch, PicPlayPost, and ThinkLink.  Skitch, as many of you may have heard, is a photo annotating app.  It allows you to add text, shapes, blurs, and crop.  The final image is then saved to the Camera Roll.  This saves students time from having to add annotations in the program they decide to use.  For example, students can then import those images into PicPlayPost, along with a recorded video (reading their paper?) to create a final media collage. See an example of a PicPlayPost collage uploaded to Dropbox.  But what if there is just too much content to annotated on the photo?  ThinkLink creates hotspots on an image that can link to video, images, text, sound (reading the paper in SoundCloud), and even downloading the paper in Evernote.  See an example of a hotspotted image on ThingLink.


Engage Students.  Explore apps, interactive books, and MultiTouch textbooks
(Presenter: Joanna Montgomery, Apple)

“Just because the students know the technology, doesn’t mean they know how to use it to learn.”

Montgomery’s presentation also focused on apps on the iPad.  But while Cummings’ presentation focused on apps that created digital content to demonstrate learning, Montgomery’s presentation focused on apps that had rich content written by academics for use in classrooms.  Montgomery sees a future in which back-to-school lists will eventually include recommended apps.

iTunes U has expanded exponentially since the last time I looked at it.  In fact, course materials for universities is only one-third of the content.  There is a section exclusively for K-12 and another for Beyond Campus (i.e. the Smithsonian, Khan Academy).  Material is not exclusively courses anymore.  Of course, there are many courses, but users can download singular materials from a course.  During Montgomery’s presentation, she showed us some videos and PDFs available from several sources.  All content is screened by at least one educator, so while it is educationally appropriate, there is no guarantee it will be grade-appropriate.  Thus, it is still best to preview material.

iBooks has may books that are beyond copyright for free.  There are also plenty of books available for free.  But Montgomery emphasized caution in using iBooks in the classroom.  The “Top Free” book list is full of erotica.  Teachers are encouraged to have students select a genre when searching for a free book and not using the top list to assist in filtering out inappropriate content.


Showcase Your Classroom Using Google
(Presenter: Jennifer Bond, Walled Lake Consolidated Schools)

Bond using numerous Google products in her classroom to connect parents with her classroom.  She highlighted several classroom blogs that she has created using Blogger.  Since she is a third grade teacher, students cannot have an email address and thus, cannot publish their own blog.  Thus, she is the moderator.  Most often, the students write blog entries in their journals and Bond would choose the best ones, type them up, and post them. Another option for teacher moderation is, using Blogger, set up an email address students where can email posts (this works best if the school has a contract to allow the students to have an email address under the age of 13).  The teacher will then be able to see the post prior to accepting it for publication. Many teachers have been doing this for years, but only showing the best writing in class, not publishing it to the internet.

Google Hangouts was another technology Bond used in her classroom.  She uses it to help connect her class with other classrooms as well as parents.  Sometimes, it is used just for fun.  But be careful…there is a different between Google Hangouts and Google Hangouts ON AIR.  On Air records the entire hangout and automatically uploads it to YouTube after you click done.  There is no editing.  There is no option to not upload.


Creating a Genius in Every Hour: 20 Time in Education
(Presenter: Nick Provenzano, TheNerdyTeacher.com)

A number of years ago, Google implemented a policy that employees were to work on a non-assigned project 15% of their week.  In other words, Google would pay them to work on side projects.  Just something fun.  Many people though the executives at Google lost their mind.  Do you know what they got?  GMAIL.  ADSENSE.  And so some people wondered…what if we did the same for education?  What would students achieve?  The concept then became known as 20 Time (easier to give 1/5 of the week).

Provenzano piloted 20 Time in his class last year.  He said it was difficult…when he realized in order to make it truly 20% of the school year, he had to figure out how to get ride of 34 instructional days (yes, there was a deep inhale by the teachers in the room at this moment).  He cut movies, he trimmed his curriculum, and reworked lessons.  Eventually, he obtained those 34 days.  He didn’t even waiver on the commitment when the worst Michigan winter eliminated numerous instructional days.  He kept his word: every Friday was 20 Time work time.

Students were graded on a completion basis, did they write this blog post, etc.  They gave a speech at the end, TED style.  In fact, they organized a TEDx event to showcase some of the projects.

I was amazed at some of the projects that students did.  But the more I think about it, I wasn’t so amazed as I was thrilled that students rose to the challenge.  Given time and encouragement, students are capable of doing great things.

For more information on 20 Time, visit: www.20timeineducation.com or www.thenerdyteacher.com.

Take a Look, It’s in a Book!

Earlier this summer LeVar Burton and Reading Rainbow created a Kickstarter to raise $1 million dollars.  There were two goals: everywhere on the web and free subscriptions to 1,500 classrooms who want Reading Rainbow but can’t afford to pay for it.

Burton set a timeline of 35 days.  It wasn’t necessary.  He was fully funded in 11 hours.

The campaign stayed open for the full 35 days and when it ended on July 2, the Kickstarter had raised $5,408,916.  To top that off, Seth MacFarlane, the creator of Family Guy and American Dad, “promised to match every dollar pledged following the $4 million mark to the $5 million mark if the campaign reached $5 million.”  In other words, if the Kickstarter made it to $5 million, MacFarlane would match the last million, making the $5 million dollar benchmark all the more sweeter (by turning in into $6 million).  Since Kickstarter has a $10,000 limit on donations, MacFarlane’s donation is not added into the number seen on the Kickstarter site.  Thus, the final total that the Kickstarter raised is $6.4 million dollars.

The Reading Rainbow Kickstarter is the 5th most funded campaign on Kickstarter.  According to Forbes.com, “The top four are: Pebble ($10.2 million), OUYA ($8.5 million), Pono ($6.2 million) and the Veronica Mars movie ($5.7 million).”

There is one record that the Reading Rainbow Kickstarter broke: the most backers.  Over 105,857 backers pledged to bring Reading Rainbow to all mobile devices, consoles, and OTT boxes as well as 7,500 classrooms who can’t afford it.

If your book adventures took you away to magical places and were unable to join the Kickstarter, you can still donate through Reading Rainbow’s site.  You can $5, $10, $25, $50, $100, $125, $175, $375, or $5000.  While all the packages have names based upon the dollar amount or rewards you can earn, the last two are special: $375 is the perfect amount to pay for a “adopt” a classroom and $5000 will allow you “adopt” a school.  If you really want to know exactly where you money is going, those two cannot be any more specific.

The Reading Rainbow Classic Series is available on Amazon Instant Video (free to Prime subscribers) and on iTunes (video).

The Reading Rainbow app is available for iPad and the Kindle Fire.

Though time has passed, Burton has aged, and the books have gone digital, the fact remains that Reading Rainbow is still enchanting as ever for the next generation of readers.  Then again, LeVar Burton always sticks around for The Next Generation.

BONUS: LeVar Burton, Reading Rainbow, and Star Trek: The Next Generation