Beyond Classroom Tech Tips…

January 27, 2008

Cell Phones and Gabcast

Filed under: Tools,Uncategorized,Web 2.0 — Donna DesRoches @ 2:13 am
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Inspired by the topic debated at yesterday’s regional debate tournamet…

Resolution: BITR personal electronic devices should be banned from schools…

I went back to the October K-12 Online Conference to watch the Liz Kolb presentation, “Cell Phones as Classroom Learning Tools”. I was immediately taken with the first part of her talk when she introduced and demonstrated how easy it is to create a podcast using an online tool called GabCast.

Wow! So easy. Simply create an account – free!. Once you have confirmed the account set up a channel, give it a password and set it to post right to your blog if you wish. Then you simply call in to Gabcast number, speak and record, save or publish. Very simple… no need to worry about equipment or where on the web to store the podcast.

The only drawback is that Canadian users must call a regular long distance number in Calgary or Toronto while users in the US can call a toll free number

Find out for yourself – watch the first 1o minutes of Liz’ presentation!

Here is my first tiny podcast via GabCast: Learning #1

picture-10.pngUnfortunately in Word Press I can only provide the link but it is very easy to paste the code into blogger and Wikispaces.


January 24, 2008

Cool Sites

Filed under: Resources — Donna DesRoches @ 1:57 am
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One of my favourite tasks as a Learning Resources Consultant is finding new resources that I hope will meet the learning and teaching needs of our students. This week I came across three sites that I also thought would be entertaining as well as useful and/or educational for teachers and students.

Build Your Wild Self


What would you look like with the legs of an elephant and the arms of a tiger? This engaging site lets you see how you look if you suddenly took on the characteristics of an animal or insect. Build your new body and then learn about the usefulness of each part. Somewhat educational – but definitely a whole lot of fun!

Dance Mat Typing

I came across this site via NCS-TECH and it offers a great deal of fun while teaching beginning keyboarders the basics.


“While the pronunciations and spelling are distinctly British, the gameplay is universal, and this is one of the better programs out there because it actually provides instruction. Definitely let your kids know up front to expect some unusual accents and words but trust me, they’ll adapt pretty quickly.”


A great online classroom timer to use with a projector set the time and the music — however, students may end up watching what is happening on the screen – waiting for the bubble to burst. It is best to play a few times until the novelty has worn off!


For something a little more sedate try the Online Stopwatch.

January 23, 2008

“Growing Up Online”

Filed under: Digital Citizenship — Donna DesRoches @ 3:58 pm

Yesterday FrontLine broadcast a special entitled Growing Up Online – to examine ‘just how radically theimg_0728.jpg internet is transforming the experience of childhood.  After watching the trailer I anticipated that it would be a negative, overblown reaction.  Athough I only managed to catch the later half I do agree with Will Richardson’s assessment that if offered a fairly balanced perspective. If you missed the program you can watch the complete program online.  The site also offers further information including readings, links, interviews and a teacher’s guide.

It was very apparent in the program that parents are struggling to understand the importance of the internet in their children’s lives and how little context they have for doing so.  It is very clear that schools and knowledgeable teachers are essential in helping students navigate within the online environment safely, ethically and responsibly. As Will says,

As I much as I think I know about all of this, as I look at my own kids and try to imagine what they are graduating into online, I realize that I know very little. I can’t even imagine what it must be like for parents who really have no context for this discussion, which is another reason why schools have to make this a part of the way we do our business, and why we have to integrate what it means to live in this world throughout the curriculum, K-12, in every subject.

January 20, 2008

Team-Teaching at a Distance

Filed under: Web 2.0 — Donna DesRoches @ 9:30 pm
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At the Living Sky School Division’s middle years Inquiry Workshop on Thursday I learned about a really cool teaching assignment and a cool tool.

Jim Ellis from Connaught Community School and Kimberly Brown from Haultain Community School in Regina are team-teaching creative writing with their grade 7’s. YES! -team teaching in two different cities. They are sharing the design of the assignment, the assessment, and the marking as well as responding to the students who are using blogs to post their writing.

This is a comment that one student left on Jim’s blog.



picture-7.pngI also learned about the cool tool from Jim. I had heard about JumpCut before but had never seen it used. JumpCut is an online video editing tool which lets you capture video and edit it online. Both Jim and Kim used JumpCut to introduce their writing assignment for the week. Kimberly asked students to introduce themselves and Jim used his web cam and JumpCut video effects to explain the week’s assignment.

Jim’s grade 7 students are also participating with five other classes from around the world in a collaborative project about the Idtarod. They plan to have this project underway in early February. Kudos to Jim, Kim and the other teachers for breaking out of the classroom walls and facilitating learning through global conversations, collaboration and creation.

January 14, 2008


Filed under: Uncategorized — Donna DesRoches @ 12:01 am

The cameras we requested as part of the peripheral package for our teacher committees are here and should soon be distributed. And… just in time is this wonderful video on photosharing from Common Craft.

January 13, 2008

Teacher 2.0

Filed under: Uncategorized,Web 2.0 — Donna DesRoches @ 11:52 pm
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Jeff Utecht posts a number of questions to ask potential teachers with regards to technology. I like the fact that his questions really focus on the teacher and their capacity and willingness to use the technology for their own personal learning.

You will notice that my list says absolutely nothing about integrating technology or how the teacher uses technology in his/her classroom. No, this list focuses directly on the skill set and the tools these teachers use for their own learning. I want to know what personal technology skills these teachers bring to my school. I want to know how much PD time it is going to take to get them from where they are, to where I believe they need to be in order for the learning environment to change.

In his post Jeff describes the answers he would expect from prospective teachers on each of the following questions:

    1. Being able to look up information and resources on the web is an important skill. Explain how you go about looking up information on the web.
    2. How do you verify that the information you found is trustworthy and of use to you?
    3. What is your philosophy regarding the filtering of internet sites?
    4. Do you read any blogs? If so, which ones?
    5. Do you have an RSS reader? If so, what do you subscribe to?
    6. Do you belong to any online communities?
    7. Tell me a story of something you learned from your network?
    8. Tell me how you think the future you are preparing children for will be different?
    9. What is your favorite gadget and why?
    10. How often do others come to you for guidance in using technology?
    11. Describe the last new technology that you used and how you used it — and how you learned it?
    12. Describe the last thing you learned related to your work, that you didn’t learn in a classroom or from a book, and describe how you learned it.

Jeff bases his questions on posts from Doug Johnson and from David Warlick who says,

If a prospective teacher can demonstrate to me that he or she is a continual learner, and that he is using technology to learn, then I’m interested. Otherwise, I see a relic of times that are long past and a danger to the students in my school.

Priscilla, a new blogger, echoes his thoughts in her post when she asks, Are we holding ourselves back from inevitable change?

How will we know if we are giving our students our best, and allowing them to experience the best opportunities possible if we are holding ourselves back from the change around us?

Are you a teacher 2.0? How would you respond to the questions Jeff poses?


Filed under: Uncategorized — Donna DesRoches @ 8:00 pm

 Blooms Revised Taxonomy lists remembering as one of the lower order thinking skills. Lower order does not mean unimportant – remembering includes…

  • Recognising, listing, describing, identifying, retrieving, naming, locating, finding

…the basics upon which other skills and activities can be built.

The following are two sites that can be used to develop student capacities in this Bloom’s category.

Multiplication – games, activities and resources to teach the multiplication tables

Spelling City – makes practicing for spelling tests fun.


Filed under: blogging,Social Networking — Donna DesRoches @ 5:11 pm

Dean Shareski’s post, Lesson #1 Share, echoes my recent thoughts about how many great things that teachers are doing remain unknown. I work with wonderful teachers who are doing the neatest things in their classrooms, engaging and challenging their students – BUT – no one ever hears about it!

As Dean so well articulates,

I get really frustrated when someone tells me about an outstanding teacher and I can’t find hide nor hair of their work online. What a waste. If they are as good as others say they are, why not share that with others? They’ll tell me their kids made a great video, learned something great from an experiment or gave a great presentation but it means very little to me unless I can be part of it too.

A few years ago one had to present at conference or write an article for a professional journal to be heard. Today – the ability to share is so simple – all it takes is time.

Time…and the ability to let go of what Vicki Davis calls ‘perfection paralysis’. That is, being overwhelmed by what others have written and feeling that you fall short.

It is really important to let go and write. As she says,

In the blogging world, sometimes a short paragraph gets more readership and means more than a full blown essay.

My goal for this year is to write often, share what I do, and make it short!

January 11, 2008

Facebook Flap

Filed under: Uncategorized — Donna DesRoches @ 4:30 pm

Via Doug Johnson I came across this article about Minneapolis students facing disciplinary actions after their Facebook photos are sent to school officials.

 Students disciplined for the Facebook pictures were suspended from sports or activities.

This article could be used to generate discussion about what is shared on FaceBook and the action taken by school officials.

As Doug Johnson points out in his article Rules for the Social Web, we need to consider how we not only protect children from predators and each other (cyberbullying) but from themselves.

Mishmash equals learning

Filed under: Uncategorized — Donna DesRoches @ 2:43 pm

Clarence Fisher dispels the belief that only when each kid in a classroom is using the same Dell or MacBook laptop that we can really teach with technology. In his post, Who Cares About the Box, he talks about the mishmash of computers that his students use including their own and the ipod touch.

The point is just that the kids and I are both realizing more each day that the technology is just a channel, a pipe, a point of access to what is really important; the connection, the information, the people out there.

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