Tag Archives: gorman

It’s Free… It’s Ipadio… Cell Phones, Phlogs, Speech To Text, Geotagging… Wow!

You have heard about a wiki, glog, blog, and tweet; but how about a phlog?  By the time you are done reading, not only will you know what a phlog is, I am sure many of you and your students will soon be phlogging!  Before joining me for this amazing educational adventure, please take a moment and subscribe to this blog by either email or RSS. You can also follow me on twitter (@mjgormans). Last, be sure to visit my 21centuryedtech Wiki that was recently the subject of an  ISTE May 12 Webinar and is visited by thousands of people each month.

Today’s posting reviews an amazing, yet simple piece of technology that involves the use of cell phones, internet, and computers. It’s true, mobile technology is playing an increasingly large role in the classroom. It is becoming a reality that most students have a phone of their own. Perhaps it’s time to harness the power of the phone  in order to engage students in their own education? Introducing Ipadio, a technology that just might be the right tool for enhancing and improving the learning process in a very unique way.

In brief, Ipadio technology links up the telephone networks with the internet, enabling the live broadcast of audio directly to the internet… all from a standard  phone. There’s never been an easier way to record oral assessments, create revision podcasts, or even collect homework. The process involves a simple registration of your phone and the selection of a password. You are then given a toll free number to call, enter the password, and start recording. Your recording is instantly available as a phlog (phone blog) on your own channel at Ipadio. Don’t have the cell phone you registered with Ipadio.  There is an easy solution, just use any phone and complete the additional step of entering your registered phone number.  After the recording you can visit your own channel and listen to the phlog, email it, embed it in a web page, or even download it as an mp3 to be used in your own multimedia application. You even have the opportunity to edit your phlog and make it public. Ipadio even converts the spoken words to text! Imagine the educational uses of that features. There is even an iPhone and Android app.

Take a moment and explore some educational possibilities. The following is a list of ideas from the people at Ipadio in their very own words.


Making Assessments Easier – Need to grade students on their speaking abilities? Why grade them on one viewing of a performance live when you can record and archive them, for later play back, second marking and contextualising feedback to the student – showing them the exact moments where they need to improve.


Let the students collect the data -Need to collect data for research? Whether you’re a teacher of seven year olds wanting them to ask grandparents about life as they grew up, or a university professor looking to collect research data, ipadio can be used for both! Take recorded data an embed it in a multimedia production, website, or podcast.


Enable remote learning – Ipadio makes creating and sharing audio easy – simply call up and speak! Your words can be listened to online, downloaded as a podcast or even read as text thanks to speech-to-text conversion with Spinvox. Your broadcasts can also be pushed through social media channels – with phonecasts posted to Twitter, Facebook, and all of the major blogging platforms as soon as they have been recorded. This makes sharing a lecture to those who missed it, or creating a revision podcast for students a breeze – and the learning materials that you create will be available to students on platforms they are already familar with, such as Facebook and iTunes.


Promote Your Institution – Ipadio can be used to engage with people on the outside too! From promoting events going on to hosting interviews with academics and staff, Ipadio can be used to highlight the work that goes on in your school or university, to prospective students and other interested parties. Lectures, lessons and other learning materials could be offered too, and even offered as podcasts on iTunes and your website, raising the profile of educators in your institution.


Keep Parents In-The-Loop – Call ipadio after each class and explain a bit about what went on – that way parents can follow what their children are learning, and support them more effectively at home, in a way that is convenient to them, as they can follow your updates on your website, via podcast, Twitter, blogs and many other avenues – and all you as teacher have to do is make a single phone call!


While Ipadio lists the above ideas; I find there could be many more uses. The speech to text capability has great potential! There could also be homework alerts, field trip possibilities, study guides, remote broadcast for school news and info, explanation of a concepts or topics, and general classroom updates. You can even geotag each phonecast you record with the location of where you recorded it. Imagine geotagging conversations and cell phone pictures on a map for later review. This can be done with the iPhone and Android apps, or online at the Ipadio web site using a computer. This opens the door to some very creative classroom facilitation. Be sure to check out this great set of tutorials and as always refer to your schools AUP before using.

Now you know all about phlogging and the awesome potential is has for transforming your lessons and enhancing 21st century learning. If you have ideas for using Ipadio, or are already using it in a creative way, please leave a comment. As always take a moment and subscribe to this blog by either email or RSS. You can also follow me on twitter (@mjgormans). Last, be sure to visit my 21centuryedtech Wiki . Coming soon; Exploring Some Of Google’s Advanced Search Features.  Hope to hear from you somewhere in the phlogosphere!  Have a great week! – Mike

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Kidblog: Kids Blogging…Teacher Supervision… And It’s Free!

How do teachers facilitate student collaboration on the web while satisfying concerns for student safety? How do IT Directors support teachers and students while maintaining an online environment that is in accordance with school policy? If I had that answer, and it worked in everyone’s eyes, I would have the most sought after post in the education blogosphere. There are some solutions such as Moodle and a closed Google Apps environment. This post, however, is dedicated to a blogging solution you may not be aware of. Before reading, please take a moment to subscribe by RSS or email. You can also follow me on Twitter (@mjgormans) and discover a world of free/rich resources at my 21centuryedtech Wiki!  Now… about a blogging solution for classroom teachers and their students! – Mike

Imagine a blog hosting service that was built for classroom teachers and their students. Contemplate a service that was designed specifically for teachers who want to provide each student with his or her own unique blog. Think about a blog site that allows teachers to monitor and control all publishing activity within the classroom blogging community and does not require student email accounts. Reflect on a blog development team led by a facilitator who  has 18 years of combined web development and classroom teaching experience.  If this pondering of thoughts appeals to your left brain, while freeing all the possibilities that your right brain generates for classroom engaging activities, then a visit to Kidblog is essential! Kidblog claims that it is kid safe. I have included Kidblog’s own words below!

Kidblog’s advanced privacy features put safety first:

  • Teachers have administrative control over all student blogs and student accounts.
  • Your students’ blogs are private by default – viewable only by classmates and the teacher.
  • For “semi-public” blogs, set up guest (e.g. parent) accounts that require a password to view students’ posts/comments.
  • Comment privacy settings block unsolicited comments from outside sources.
  • Kidblog does not collect any personal information from teachers or students.”

Furthermore, Kidblog promotes the idea of keeping your students’ focus on things that are important in their learning. In order to accomplish this, Kidblog emphasizes no advertising of any kind, a simple login menu, clutter-free design, and central blog directory with simple navigation. These screenshots provide an example of how simple, yet powerful, the  user interface for students, teachers, and administrators is. You may also  wish to check out these news stories that describe how several teachers are using Kidblog. Kidblog, based in Minneapolis, MN, states, “that it is dedicated to providing a powerful, safe, simple service without the configuration headaches and distracting elements of traditional blogging platforms”.  The Kidblog team claims  that; “Kidblog  offers an amazing opportunity for teachers and students around the world to realize the full potential of blogging with their classrooms”. Once you have researched your school’s web use policy you may just want to get started and set up a free account today.

Thanks for joining me on another quest for 21st Century educational resources. If you find  these posts helpful please take a moment to subscribe by RSS or email. You can also follow me on Twitter (@mjgormans) and discover a world of free/rich resources at my  21centuryedtech Wiki!.  As always any comments you supply are appreciated! Coming soon… a new post about a service that promotes some great uses for cell phones both in and outside of the classroom! Have a great week and hope to see both you and your students somewhere in the blogosphere! – Mike

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An ISTE Webinar Packed With Free Education Resources… And I’m Your Host!

I would like to invite you to join me as I host an ISTE Technology In Practice Webinar entitled; 21st Century Education and Technology Integration: No Cost and Low Cost Investments with Rich Results for Students on Wednesday, May 12 at 4:00 PM EDT! If the length of the the title is any indication of the resources shared, and it is, you are in for a a landslide of free resources. I am excited about sharing what I believe is over  two hours of resources in the hour time slot! Check out the link to this webinar at ISTE Webinars. By the way, I am available and can provide a staff of educators with their own webinar. I have enjoyed giving live presentations at NMSA, CELL, Alan November BLC09, ICE, and  NICE  to name a few. While I sometimes travel to different schools to provide in-service, I entertain the idea of facilitating a webinar that just might fit your school’s needs and budget. As always please follow me on Twitter@mjgorman) or email me  at (mgorman@sacs.k12.in.us).  Now, please give me the opportunity to present a little more about why I am so excited about my up-coming ISTE Webinar

First, it is an honor and a privilege to be invited by the professionals at ISTE (International Society For Technology In Education) to present one of their Technology In Practice Webinars. In fact, it is an honor I take very serious and have spent months trying to get the presentation just right. I feel whether I present in person, or on-line, it is my duty to deliver a presentation with motivational enthusiasm that is not only engaging and entertaining, but allows people to walk a way with new knowledge they can implement tomorrow! After all, isn’t that what is expected in the 21st Century classroom?  Not only that, participants must be able to access resources presented, along with access to myself, after the webinar is over! I plan on making sure that all is accomplished.

The Webinar entitled, 21st Century Education and Technology Integration: No Cost and Low Cost Investments with Rich Results for Students will cover the following areas. First, a quick philosophy of 21st Century Learning and a practical approach to addressing curricular standards while transforming educational delivery to the digital natives of today. This will transition into four different categories of resources available containing thousands of resources. Last, it concludes by applying this transformational thinking and integrating it with important lessons teachers already do. It is a goal that participants discover new and exciting ways to connect with today’s digital learners using free resources.  It is my intent to provide insight into ways of interconnecting local, state, and national standards while relating them with real world issues that are authentic and relevant.  I realize this is quite a bit for an hour, but I guarantee an hour well spent!

Thanks for joining me for another journey in 21st Century Education! I hope you are able to participate in the webinar, if not please continue to visit this blog for cutting edge ideas and information. Remember, I am always willing to assist with a conference, webinar, or in-service. I am honored to have you as a member of my professional learning community and look forward to future networking! Again, follow me on Twitter at @mjgormans), subscribe to this blog by email or RSSl, email me at mgorman@sacs.k12.in.us, and if possible join me at the webinar! Next posting: I have found a secure teacher facilitated blog spot for kids! … read about it  in the next post! Until then… have a wonderful end to your week! – Mike

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Merit Pay: Forget Learning… Just Start Learn’en’ Them More!

Welcome to a reflection based on the happenings in Florida and its dealings with merit pay and standardized testing. I have tried to present a little message I call “Forget Learning… Just Start Learn’en’ Them More!”.  Please take a moment to read and I encourage your reply and thoughts!  Remember, I also invite you to subscribe by email or RSS .  As always, please give a follow on twitter (@mjgormans) and I will return the favor. Check out the video link  provided at the bottom… it relates with this post!  Have a great read and wonderful week! – Mike

For those watching the educational news stories this week,  Florida had to be a major place of interest. Governor Charles Crist crossed party lines and put the veto on controversial Senate Bill 6  that promoted a form of merit pay for teachers. While all could argue the assets and liabilities of merit pay for teachers, what  stood out to me was the direct link of teacher pay to student standardized  test scores. I am a  believer in necessary educational transformation that puts students at the center of their learning, employs rigorous real world applications to facilitate curricular standards, integrates appropriate and engaging technology, and facilitates those important 21st Century skills. It is very difficult to comprehend how linking teacher effectiveness exclusively to standardized testing achieves results that prepare today’s students for their future.

For this reason, I have started a list that I call Forget Learning… Just Start Learn’en Them More!  Since “Learn’en Them” is my own phrase, I will define it as putting information in students’ heads. This process of teaching can be successfully spot measured on some standardized tests, but Learn’en Them is on the opposite end of the spectrum from Real Learning.  While some may see my list as a tribute to Standardized Testing, I call it a look into the future…  if all merits are based on the results of Standardized Testing.

My List: Forget Learning, Just Start Learn’en Them More

Forget about inquiry, problem solving, and reflection, it is not efficient…  just start learn’en them more.

Relationship building, where on the test is that?…  just start learn’en them more.

A “Whole New Mind”,  the right brain takes too much time…  just start learn’en them more.

Children at the center of their learning, way too confusing and inexperienced…  just start learn’en them more.

Making connections with the real world,  it’s all in the textbook…  just start learn’en them more.

Networking with parents and community, where are they on the test?…  just start learn’en them more.

Collaboration with other students, the teacher has the test knowledge…  just start learn’en them more.

Technology integration, a worksheet will do and it’s a lot easier..  just start learn’en them more.

Listening to a student, takes valuable lecture time away…  just start learn’en them more.

No Bloom’s Taxonomy, Pavlov’s conditioning will do just fine…  just start learn’en them more.

Their future?  what’s the  matter with our past?…  just start learn’en them more.

I could continue on… but I invite you to join me with at least one reply. It would sure help my own learn’en!  Merit pay based on standardized testing… Where’s the Merit?  To me it seems like the easy way out. We can reward teachers for filling kids heads with stuff, and as more stuff is found we find ways to fill their heads even more. After stuffing their cognitive functions with all this stuff, we can then check our success by testing a fraction of a percent of that stuff.

Or… we can transform education by providing professional development that puts students at the center of their learning, employs rigorous real world applications to facilitate curricular standards, integrates appropriate and engaging technology, and facilitates those important 21st Century skills. It will not be an easy way out, but our students may just pass the test of providing a successful and rewarding future for themselves and their own children.

Thanks for joining me on yet another journey towards transforming education for the 21st Century!  I also invite you to take a moment to view this video.  It provides a great reflection on Standardized Testing!  Please take a moment to share with others and if you are on twitter, give it an RT.  Remember, I invite you to subscribe to this blog by RSS or email, and don’t forget to follow me on twitter at (@mjgormans). Feel free to explore  the wealth of resources I have for you at my 21centuryedtech Wiki.  Now take a moment to reply/share and then…  forget learn’en them more, and just start learning! – Have a great week! – Mike

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The Googal In Google… Google Can Do That? Part One

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What a great week to explore the multiple faces of  Google! I welcome you to investigate and share this post with others. While this first post isn’t quite a googal, it should be enough information to keep everyone satisfied until the next post comes along. Please take a moment to follow me on twitter (@mjgormans), I will follow back and we can learn a googal from each other! Also, please pass this post on to others and  take a moment to subscribe to this blog by RSS or email!  Now take a moment to explore a Googal in Google! – Mike

It was many years ago that I was introduced to the internet search engine. It amazed me that a website could search through the entire web and pull up web pages from my keywords. While I got my start with Altavista, I soon found myself excited by both the simplicity and complexity provided by GoogleWikipedia defines Googal as “the large number 10100, that is, the digit 1 followed by one hundred zeros in decimal representation. The term was coined in 1938 by Milton Sirotta (1929–1980), nephew of American mathematician Edward Kasner, when he was nine years old”. The people at Google understood the meaning Googal would bring. In fact new words have appeared in the English language such as googled, googling, googler, and possibly even googlist.

In this Blog Posting I would like to investigate a small portion of the new  Googal that is found in Google. Most people are aware of Google DocsGoogle EarthGoogle MapsGoogle Flickr,Google You Tube and the Google Search Engine. It is amazing to explore some of the lesser known areas, beta projects, experiments in the making, and those too new for the (googal) of people to have found yet. Let’s explore!

Google Options – Wonder Wheel and Timeline

First, let’s look at the Google Search Engine itself. Have you ever clicked on that Show Options Button?  If you have not done it lately, now is the time.  Click on the Show Options Buttonunder the search and you will see a bunch of options. One of the neatest options introduced in May of 2009  is the Wonder Wheel. When it is clicked, users get a graphical display of their search. A great way for students to expand search terms!  Directly to the right on the results page  are websites related to the wheel. Click on a spoke of the wheel and you get a new wheel and new links related to that spoke.

wheel2

While in the options menu check out the  Timeline Option. This can can be a neat educational tool. Type in iPod and you will get a timeline of significant events in the iPod’s history. Feel free to explore the option window and also notice you can  Hide Options at anytime.

Google Squared

Another new tool released in the Spring of 2009 is Google Squared (just type inwww.google.com/squared in your browser). Google describes this tool as a way to collect multiple  facts on a subject from the web. Google Squared then  presents them in an organized collection, similar to a spreadsheet. You can even customize and export results to Excel. Best of all, for students,  it  even includes pictures. Read more about it at  Google’s Blog.

elements

Google News Timeline

Are your students following a news event? How about looking at an event in history? Then a new service from Google called Google News Timeline is a great resource. Google describes this service as  a web application that easily organizes search results by date. Google puts the news events in a  graphical timeline filled with links and pictures.  Data sources include recent and historical news, scanned newspapers and magazines, blog posts, sports scores, and even information relating to current  media, such as music, albums, and movies. Check out the capabilities as described in the Google Information Site.  Take a moment to view the example below that displays  how students can even find primary sources in news history using Google News Timeline.

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Google Images – More Options with Similar Images and Creative Commons

While students have access to images under “fair use guidelines ” there are still limits to usage. This is especially true  if projects are to be shared online.  Also, educators may have the need to share an image on the web via school web page, blog, or wiki. This is where the ability to use pictures created under “creative commons” comes in handy. Check out this Google July 2009 Blog that explains new features in the advanced settings for image filters. It is a great way to use images others have created, and still stay within copyright. Google has also introduced Similar Images  Search. First, search for a picture , next use Similar Images  Search to find more pictures  that compliment the original search. Also be  sure to note that there is a safe search option in Google.  It  should be set on the strict filtering option when using Google Images and even for a regular Google Web Search in the classroom.

Google Listen

Want to get more use out of your portable devices ? In August of 2009 Google released Google Listen. Google describes it as ” getting more power from your Android-powered device”.  Google Listen allows you to search, subscribe, download and stream. The user can determine what to listen to by  subscribing to programs and  using search words.  Google Listen will take this user information and create a personalized audio-magazine.  At this time, Google Listen is indexing thousands of popular English-only audio sources. Check out the fact sheet and try a download.

Google Sets

Although Google Sets has been around a few years it is a little known product that can be fun to use. Google Sets was  one of the very first applications produced by Google Labs. This awesome little search tool allows the user  to automatically create sets of items from just a few examples. These  user made sets identify  related items on the web.  Predict relationships between words and construct either large  sets or small sets. It is a great tool for brainstorming, seeing relationships, or just figuring out what is missing. It is a surprisingly  intuitive interface, one that will have you attempting to see if it knows what you are thinking. On a recent exploration I entered lions, panthers, bears and was given a set of mammals. However, when I entered Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears,  Carolina Panthers  I was shown a set of NFL Teams. It even knows the Seven Dwarfs from motion picture,  Snow White!

While I did not supply a googal of information, I do hope you are now more familiar with  a little bit more of the googal of resources found in Google. As you explore the website I am sure you will continue to find even more ways to connect Google with today’s digital learner. Please reply to add ideas!  I am excited to share in upcoming posts a google of information on Google, or is it googal? Please visit me on my wiki as I continue to  promote the use of free and inexpensive resources at http://21centuryedtech.wikispaces.com/, and enjoy googling! – Mike

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Tagxedo: Exciting New Word Cloud Generator Rich With Features!

Welcome to another informative mid-week post. Today I  want to introduce you to Tagxedo, a brand new Word Cloud Generator that has just been released in Beta. I first learned of it after receiving an email from its creator, Hardy Leung, several days ago. I was very impressed and feel it needs to be added to a list of Word Cloud Generators I created a few month ago in my Welcome Back Wordle Blog which generated almost one thousand reads.  If you have never read it, be sure to take a look. Take a moment to learn the features and future plans for Tagxedo. As always please feel free to follow me on Twitter (@mjgormans), I will keep you up-to-date and will be sure to follow back! Now let’s learn about a new site ! – Mike

Update from Tagxedo Creator Hardy Leung – I just want to clarify that, since Tagxedo was beta-released a whooping 3 days ago, it has been upgraded many times, and the latest version already supports the “future plans” of using either image or words as shapes. Also, you can now save to both Jpg or Png.

I often get emails from people who wish to have their site reviewed. I always take the time to check out these inquiries and pass on worthy findings to you. I am very excited to share with you this just beta-released word cloud application called Tagxedo. The website proclaims, “Tag Clouds with Style”, a mission I feel was accomplished. You will discover that this cutting edge program is an outstanding free application very similar to our good friend,  Wordle .  The creater of  Tagxedo emphasized to me that Tagxedo has a few extra qualities  not found in all Word Cloud Generators. After visiting and experimenting with the site I agree that Tagxedo does offer some awesome features.

So what  makes Tagxedo stand out? Some of the features that Leung pointed out to me include; highly interactive (no server round-trip), fast cloud generation time, custom shapes and themes, powerful layout engine (very nice shape hugging), and  lots of fonts (including custom user fonts and fonts from Font Squirrel). Most importantly, the interface allows the user to save “word clouds” as PNG image files and it also saves a History View (allowing user to see all “versions” and pick the one they like).

As you explore the site be sure to read the FAQ page which includes directions and future plans for the product. It is school friendly, due to the fact that it does not require a user log-in. Tagxedo is new and powerful, but the interface is still somewhat under construction.  In fact, two features that will arrive soon are the ability to use images as custom shapes and the ability to use specific words as custom shapes. The on-line gallery provides an idea of the capabilities that reside within Tagxedo. Please take the time to check out all the features of Tagxedo. As you do, I am sure that you will want to share Tagxedo others!

Thanks for stopping by for another post. Please be sure to subscribe via email or RSS. I encourage you to share this post with others and please return again. I will always keep you up-to-date on Twitter at (@mjgormans). A reminder that I will also facilitate an ISTE Webinar (21st Century Education and Technology Integration: No Cost and Low Cost Investments with Rich Results for Students) on May 12, 2010.  You are also welcome to visit my 21centuryedtech Wiki filled with great resources to facilitate educational transformation. Now, take a moment and discover Tagxedo and remember to reply!  Thanks – Mike



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It’ True!: I Teach Because I Can’t Do Anything Else!

Welcome to a posting dedicated to a world of great educators. I hope you find this reflection one that you enjoy and share with others!  Please consider following me on twitter (@mjormans) and we can teach each other! Have a wonderful week! – Mike

Ok, so it’s true! I have spent thirty-two years teaching because I cannot do anything else! To be honest this is something I have recently learned,  something I did not know  when I  presented my very first classroom lesson! I actually  began my undergraduate career in the College of Business with an eye on marketing. In the early stages of my teaching career I became licensed to sell securities with the idea of becoming rich!  Little did I know that because I could only teach, I would find richness beyond monetary wealth! I dedicate this list of reasons to all of those great educators who teach, because they cannot do anything else!

I can’t be a banker or work in the financial business because while I might enjoy counting money and financial growth, I would rather count and measure the success of my students.

I can’t be a doctor or dentist because because while I enjoy seeing people smile as they leave and are healed, I get even more satisfaction if I see a smile when they first sit down.

I can’t be a professional athlete because while I do enjoy competition, I get even more satisfaction coaching young people to play each game with honor, integrity, and respect.

I can’t be a computer programmer because while creating new digital applications is exciting, finding ways to integrate technology to inspire real learning is rewarding.

I can’t work in agriculture or landscaping because while supplying food and natural beauty is appreciated by all, I enjoy planting seeds of life-long learning knowing that it will nourish one’s life.

I can’t work as a cook or chef because while I appreciate the art in a great meal, I most enjoy finding just the right ingredients that allow for a child’s success.

I can’t work in sales or marketing because even though I have learned from their great people skills, I would rather sell students on their abilities and possibilities.

I can’t be a pilot even though I appreciate them as I travel to new places, as I would rather facilitate young people as they climb in altitude and arrive at new destinations.

I can’t be an artist despite my appreciation for the beauty they bring,as I have found that my art is the ability to inspire and nurture children as they discover their innate abilities.

I can’t be a scientist or inventor because, while am aware of the great advances they bring, I wish to create  innovative learning experiences that always end in success.

I could go on and on! As you can see, I really do appreciate all of the other professions and realize there are so many more I can’t do. After all, as teachers we really are preparing students for what they will do best in the world. Possibly in the future those we teach will not be able to do anything else, because we have assisted them them in becoming the very best at what they do!  As I continue my journey I have expanded my teaching horizon and understand that genuine educators, whether they be teachers, administrators, or educational consultants, continue to teach and inspire others, because they really can’t do anything else.

Thanks for joining me on another journey dedicated to learning in the 21st Century! As always I invite you to follow me on Twitter (@mjgormans), I will return the favor and we can teach each other! I also encourage you to visit my 21centuryedtech Wiki! I will keep  sharing, teaching, and facilitating all learners, after all, I can’t do anything else! – Mike

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Free STEM And PBL Resources From Discovery Education and Siemens

What an appropriate time to  celebrate the NSTA Conference with a tribute to an awesome collection of  STEM resources! For those not familiar with STEM education, imagine the power in combining Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math into a program that brings cross curricular understanding with real world application. Those familiar with Daniel Pink even understand the importance of a fine arts contribution to STEM. Now combine the outstanding and first rate resources of Siemens Corporation and Discovery Education. Welcome to a posting that highlights a great web site based on STEM, PBL, and 21st Century education!  Don’t miss any part of this posting, including the conclusion which includes what may be the best free professional development opportunity for STEM educators this summer! As always feel free to follow me on twitter at (@mjgormans) and I will be sure to follow you back and we can learn from one another! You are also invited to visit my 21centuryedtech Wiki! Please enjoy and share this post with others! Have a great week! – Mike

I have been working with STEM education and Project Based Learning for over ten years! I have presented on this topic at  regional and national conferences along with facilitating in-service at various schools. When I first visited the Siemen’s STEM Academy I was amazed at the resources already collected in the short time this website has been online.  It is evident, as stated in the website, “Siemens is committed to supporting the next generation of scientists, engineers, and business leaders through multiple educational initiatives.” Additionally, Discovery Education has a reputation of delivering not only a diverse and highly engaging streaming service, but also a commitment to programs that are transforming classroom instruction across the nation.

The first thing you may notice are links to some STEM activities that have been well known for their past success. This includes the  Siemens Competition which allows high school students to gain national recognition as they explore Math, Science & Technology with challenging research. Visit Siemens Science Day where elementary students can make slime, create creatures, or forecast a funnel cloud. The Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge empowers students in all grades to participate in the only national challenge to develop and share environmental ideas that just might just change the world. The Siemens Awards for Advanced Placement encourages advanced placement students today to advance innovation for tomorrow.

Perhaps you want to check out the Professional Development Webinar Page featuring upcoming webinars such as;  Getting Started with Project Based Learning with Jennifer Dorman on April 8,  7 PM ET and Layers of Learning with Google Earth with Brad Fountain May 4, 7 PM ET. Take a look at the outstanding archive of ready to watch webinars including;  How Math Can Solve Everyday Problems, Using Technology To Create New KnowledgeTop Ten STEM ResourcesSTEM Connect with Michio Kaku, Live Green Webinar #1Live with Mr. Wizard!Summer School – Science Week, The Science of Hurricanes and Go Wild: Animal Planet’s Jeff Corwin Talks About Environmental Education in the Age of Technology. There are more webinars planned for the future!

Another important area to visit is the Resource Page.  It contains quality information and lessons that will assist teachers in the implementation of STEM lessons and 21st century learning.  Teachers can share their favorite lesson plans, tips, tricks, ideas, presentations, websites, videos and other STEM related resources that may prove useful for others who want to expand their classroom materials.   Subjects include Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics,  and Integration. Once again, this site is relatively new and while there is over one hundred resources available already, it is bound to grow! One example, check out this entertaining video that teaches students major concepts about rocks? (You may need to sign up to view)  Be sure to visit the STEM Blog packed with current and cutting edge  STEM ideas and news information. Blog content is contributed by Discovery Education’s Patti Duncan and Lance Rougeux.  At the Blog you can learn about National Lab Day and take time to view this video including a message from the President. The Blog links to some great STEM related resources such as this ESchool News Article on STEM education resources. This Blog will prove to be a valuable resource as you look for information to use and share with others while investigating the growing STEM movement.

Are you looking for what may be one of the best free professional development opportunities for educators interested in STEM this summer? If  you are looking to bolster STEM learning in your classroom, want access to top STEM scientists, thought-leaders, and innovators, and want to network with like minds across the country, then apply today to attend the Siemens STEM Institute The application deadline is April 16, 2010. The Siemens STEM Institute is described as ” a one-of-a-kind immersion program that promotes hands-on, real-world integration of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in the classroom.” You, or a colleague you pass this on to, could be one of fifty teachers selected as a STEM Fellows to attend this all expenses-paid, week-long (Aug. 1-6) professional development experience. The event will be hosted at the world headquarters of Discovery Communications, located just outside of the nation’s capitol, in Washington D.C. The week will be filled with guest speakers at the forefront of STEM, field trips to leading institutions where Fellows will observe real-world applications of STEM subject matter, and opportunities for networking and collaborating with peers from across the nation. In addition to broad-based STEM applications, each Fellow will be assigned to a thematic working group that will provide additional deep-dive exposure. Take a look at an agenda that any serious STEM educator would want to be a part of!

It is time you take a moment and discover what Discovery Education and Siemens have created to facilitate our student’s success in the Twenty-first Century! As more educators understand the value of STEM education, Discovery Education and Siemens will join that necessary and important partner, which is you and your students!  Take a moment to register for free and explore the world of STEM education and real Inquiry – Project Based Learning!

Thanks for joining me on another journey dedicated to learning in the Twenty-first Century! Please share resources you find that promote STEM education! It truly is an exciting time to be an educator!  As always feel free to follow me on twitter at (@mjgormans) and I will be sure to follow you back and we can learn from one another! You are also invited to visit my 21centuryedtech Wiki!  Please enjoy and share this post with others!  Have a great week! – Mike

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Sweetsearch: More Than A Free Search Engine For K12 Education!

Imagine a powerful search engine created for students containing sites that have that have been evaluated and approved by a staff of Internet research experts. I am sure you would consider that a sweet search engine, which is what this post is all about. Welcome to another posting guaranteed to facilitate educators committed to transforming education and instilling the twenty-first century skills. Thanks for stopping by and ,as always, please follow me on Twitter at (mjgorman), I will return the favor and we can learn from one another. Also, be sure to visit my 21centuryedtech Wiki filled with great resources. Now enjoy this sweet information!- Mike

Sweetsearch is owned by Dulcinea Media, a company committed to supplying students with a search engine that returns results that are accurate, reliable, safe, and understandable. Instead of having students sift through millions of web sites, the research experts, educators, and librarians at Dulcinea have created a database of 35,000 sites that students have access to in their searches. As a result, SweetSearch excludes results from unreliable sites that rank high in other search engines.  This allows  students to choose the most relevant result from a list of credible returns, rather than having  educational time wasted on unreliable sites. Since Sweetsearch is powered by Google, it does allow the ability to toggle results between Google and Sweetsearch.

While Sweetsearch is valuable for trimming down results, perhaps its greatest strength is  hidden in its other valuable resources. It is the addition of these extra ingredients that makes Sweetsearch a rich tool for the 21st Century classroom. One such valuable resource is  Sweetsearch Biographies. This portion of the site allows users to filter profiles of more than 1,000 inspiring people by profession, gender, and race/national origin. They can be  viewed in a profile created by Dulcinea Media (for those individuals in their database) followed by a search results page for the person. Another must visit area in Sweetsearch is the outstanding collection of web-links referred to as Sweetsites.  This is a selection of great web resources for classroom use that are free, intuitively organized, and accessible. There is a section for teachers with resources for elementary, middle, and high school. There is also a similar section for students also arranged by elementary, middle, and high school.  Sweetsites will help satisfy the rich appetite necessary for supplying students with engaging resources intent on facilitating 21st Century learning.

The related site, Finding Dulcinea, is just as sweet! At this site, the first area to explore is Web Guides . This section provides a road map for exploring hundreds of topics online. It includes links to some of the best resources, ordered logically, and woven with narrative, insights, and research strategies. The Web Guide categories include a good selection of  academic subjects, as well as health, technology, careers, and other topics. Another section, titled On This Day, covers a broad array of intriguing historical events. Once again it  links to some outstanding online resources that give a full description of the event – what led up to it, what happened that day, and most importantly, what has happened since. These articles contain citations to the on-line resources where the information was found.  The Happy Birthday section of the site celebrates inspiring people, both historic and contemporary. These people are from all cultures and walks of life. The articles contain a biographical profile that links to accurate and reliable online information about the person. The last major section, Beyond the Headlines, provides a total view of topics in the news by cohesively weaving together information from multiple sources. It attempts to give students a  total picture by offering opposing viewpoints on controversial topics.  Be sure to read the  Finding Dulcinea Blog, explore the Finding Education Website, sign up for the newsletter, and watch a video that outlines all of the web site’s features. Finding Dulcinea is also available in Spanish, a great resource for foreign language and ESL classrooms.

I am sure you will find in both Sweetsearch and Finding Dulcinea sites that are rich in content, high in 21 Century calories, and diverse enough to please all appetites for learning. Please feel free to share your findings as you continue to explore the exciting 21st Century Education menu of items. As always, please follow me on Twitter at (mjgorman). I will return the favor and we can learn from one another. Also be sure to visit my 21centuryedtech Wiki filled with great resources. Have a sweet week! – Mike

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Collaboration, a 21st Century Skill: Three Free Sites To Help Students Understand Collaboration

Picture Courtesy of http://www.lumaxart.com/

I am sitting in Wichita, Kansas after providing a day long tech integration in-service to an amazing  and creative group of middle school teachers. While I hope I was able to facilitate technology infusion to a group already at the cutting edge of education reform, I too walked away with new ideas they indirectly taught me. This experience reminded me of “The Wisdom Of The Crowd” and how collectively we are much more effective as a group than we are as an individual. In this posting I would like to share with you the idea of collaboration and how we may wish to ask students to collaborate, but we first must show them how and why. Please enjoy the post and add any response on how you facilitate collaboration.  As always you can follow me on on twitter at (mjgormans) and I will be sure to follow back so we can learn from each other. Also, please join me at my 21centuryedtech Wiki, it’s filled with great resources that are free and effective!  – Mike

This first paragraph contains reflections on the definition of collaboration, if you wish to go to links that help students understand collaboration. If not, go on to the second paragraph. Collaboration is a Twenty-First Century Skill. It is also a  process and that all students need to experience it in order to fully comprehend its potential.   Wikipedia defines collaboration as “a recursive process where two or more people or organizations work together in an intersection of common goals — for example, an intellectual endeavor that is creative in nature —by sharing knowledge, learning and building consensus”.  In the definition, the word recursive is found. The definition of recursive involves the idea of an  “infinite statement using finite components” Looking at collaboration in this sense sure makes collaboration sound a lot more powerful! The definition ends with  the idea of sharing knowledge, learning, and building consensus. Most teachers have the sharing portion down pretty well, and is  inspiring to note  the learning component. What is most impressive, but possibly underused, is the last concept of  building consensus!  Further into the article there is a reference to a Roth and Lee study in the 1990’s that “led to changes in learning and teaching design in which students were encouraged to share their ways of doing mathematics, history, science, with each other. In other words, that children take part in the construction of consensual domains, and ‘participate in the negotiation and institutionalization of … meaning'”. (Roth, W-M. and Lee, Y-J. (2006) Contradictions in theorizing and implementing communities in education. Educational Research Review, 1, (1), pp27–40.) In other words, learning communities were being recognized for students. So, how do we develop and show importance for developing collaborative learning communities.? I suggest the following three free web sites that may allow teachers to begin to build a foundation for the understanding of collaboration.

I have spent time with James Surowiecki‘s book “Wisdom of Crowds” which I will say is an important read for educators. Your students can enjoy listening to portions of the book. In fact, PBS has created a page that highlights the important concepts of the book for students. You will find it at Nova’s Science Now Site. Here you will find relevant videos and a few activities. Students can watch a video including  Surowiecki’s book highlights or another video that includes a case study of a WWII submarine.  Included are activities entitled Counting CabsOne Minute Expert, and  Differences Between Mean and Median. There is even a transcript of the video. Be sure to check out the related Random House Site because it contains questions and answers with the author along with excerpts and even audio clips that could be used in podcasts.

If you are not aware of TED.com , be ready to visit  an awesome site of  amazing technology and innovation videos. If you are aware, you must be sure to visit the theme devoted to The Rise Of Collaboration.  TED is a small,  but rapidly growing, nonprofit group devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from the  three worlds of  Technology, Entertainment, and Design. In the theme devoted to The Rise Of Collaboration you will find Jimmy Wales telling  the story of perhaps the movement’s most famous example, Wikipedia . Also included is Richard Baraniuk as he envisions a  free global education system to which thousands of teachers could contribute. In an awesome presentation,  Charles Leadbeater gives examples of collaborative innovation that predate the World Wide Web, and  Cameron Sinclair wants to shelter the world by providing an online platform for open-source architecture. Don’t miss as Deborah Gordon shows  the inspiration of collaboration as she reveals the world of  the desert anthill. Included in the TED collection are nearly fifty videos that highlight the world of collaboration in an exciting and engaging way.

Another great site for assisting in teaching the collaborative process is Your Take. It demonstrates the true power found in a group working together.    The site emphasizes that a real  key to success inside and outside the classroom is the ability to think critically and  go beyond grades.  The authors of this site have developed a unique tool called SCAN .  The SCAN program promotes an interactive and collaborative way for students to use technology to analyze and problem solve an issue. The letters in SCAN stand for:  S – Stop and think things through, C – Clarify the key issues, A – Ask yourself what’s most important, N – Now, what’s your next step. Lessons can be taught as an individual or group activity. Students use the web to follow these guidelines and reflect on various points of view. The end product is a group effort that can be used as a project, writing prompt, or presentation. A  video provided by Your Take gives a clear demonstration  of how this program works. The program has nearly one hundred pre-made lessons with prompts. I advise you to not stop there. Use lessons that you have used in the past and integrate them using this outstanding technology. Include standards found in your curriculum to better understand past issues in history, current topics of today, and future problems that will need solutions only found through the efforts of a group. An archived Webinar provides an even  more thorough examination of  “Your Take”. It provides great information on the ways to set up this online collaborative environment in a safe and effective way. A list of sample of standards,  including 21st century technology standards can also be found on the Your Take Web Site.

Thanks for taking the time to visit. As you can see, this post is dedicated to teachers wanting to facilitate real collaboration in their classroom. I will close with the idea that true (PBL) Project Based Learning and 21st Century Learning require that students collaborate in the planning of the learning process. Perhaps modeling is still the very best method to teach and facilitate. Have a great week and as always you can follow me on on twitter at (mjgormans) and I will be sure to follow back so we can learn from each other. As always please join me at my 21centuryedtech Wiki, it’s filled with great resources that are free and effective! – Mike

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