Archive for the classroom tools Category

Twitter Explosion

Posted in classroom tools, Connectivism, PLN on April 13, 2012 by Mister A

I have been trying to get teachers involved in twitter for several years. I have held workshops, miniworkshops, brought it up at staff meetings, and tried to explain what a PLN is to teachers with very little success. My district has brought in big name speakers to try and get teachers on twitter although no administrator types who brought in those big names utilizes twitter at all. I mean no one in my district barely even has a clue how twitter works or maybe they just don’t see how valuable it might be. Hmmm…except for the kidz.

Recently in my hometown, there has been a twitter explosion of use among teens. I know this because a couple of my old students followed me and I can see their friends…and their friends friends. I have lived in this mid sized town of approximately 70,000 people most of my life and I was wondering if something like this might happen with the teachers or adults in my town. I have pretty much given up on the adults, but watching what has happened with the kids has been a real eye-opener for me.  I looked back at when most of the kids started getting into twitter and it was like in early January and there are hundreds, if not thousands of local teens utilizing the application now, totally exponential growth.  I must not be a cool kid to other teachers or something. I don’t think many of the new Great Fallsian Twitterers really have a clue what they are doing as they are posting things like nobody can hear what they are saying.   I think they will quickly realize twitter is far more open than the Facebook they are use to is. I think part of this twitter explosion is a move on the part of teens to get away from their parents and Facebook. I wonder if the kids will go through a phase of protecting their tweets when they realize that Mom, Dad, Principals and pretty much anyone who wants can read their tweets.  I really wish I could have helped some teachers catch on as quickly as the kids seem to have caught on.

I feel like a poor example of how to develop a PLN or how to show teachers how to develop a PLN as no one I have taught or tried to teach has utilized twitter at all to the extent I have to learn new things and connect with new people. I told them I could type a message into my phone and get advice from several incredibly intelligent australians but it was like nobody believed me or they didn’t care if I could message people half way around the world any time I wanted…and my intelligent aussie/tenesseen/newjersian/missoulian/virginian/greek/kansan/british/kiwi/alaskan friends could and can do the same with me. It has taken twitter a few short months to sweep through the local teens in my hometown.  It is how I thought twitter would take over the teaching world when I discovered it . I guess I would get into twitter/facebook/social media now if I were a teacher, simply because if you don’t, there will be no way for you to understand or connect with your kids in THIS NEW WORLD! For a second or two I wondered if this twitter explosion might just be a local fad or something, especially when our local teens realize that everyone can see everything they are tweeting.  Perhaps twitter and facebook are local fads, but I believe SOCIAL MEDIA is here to stay and will continue to change how we need to teach.  I think the industrial revolution might be over.

I look forward to the day I can say to my students…tweet me if u have a question on the project we are working on in class. I think that day is very fastly approaching, in fact, it might just be tomorrow.  I bet they go to PLURK next.



Posted in classroom tools, Prime Number Posts, Professional Reflection with tags on September 24, 2011 by Mister A

Zunal is a sweet application. I paid twenty bucks for three years worth. web quests are an excellent way to differentiate in the regular classroom and also to help gifted students achieve objectives more quickly than it might take in an ordinary classroom setting. I used Zunal to deliver a 7th grade webquest and an 8th grade webquest to my students over the last week and a half. The web quests were easy to tweak and update as we moved through them and Zunal has a huge bank of webquests designed by other teachers that you can use, edit, and remix to meet your own classroom’s needs.

20110924-091502.jpgOn a personal note, I was reading someone’s blog the other day and they said they don’t blog if they don’t have something they feel is worthwhile saying. I think I have felt that way before, but I think I am going to approach blogging a little differently his school year. I started blogging because it made me reflect about what was happening in my classroom. I plan to force myself to blog even if I feel at times that I have nothing to share. Forcing myself to reflect once a week or so can only help me improve my ability as a teacher.

Learning iPod and iPad

Posted in classroom tools, iPad Posts with tags , on September 25, 2010 by Mister A

My friend Dean’s mind works so fast.  I watched him in Denver last summer working with his iPad and quick office editing, blogging and skyping like he had been working with those apps on his ipad for months or years. It has taken me three months to reach the same point of efficiency as dean had with his iPad last summer at necc.  You know, now that I think about it…he kind of has had practice with his iPhone.  I wish they had iPhones in Montana.  I bought one of the new iPod touches and i have been using it in my classroom to help document what we are doing. It has a video recorder and a camera. The following slide show was created with my ipod touch and flickr account to record my student’s first engineering challenge in the gifted unit i am creating with the help of a guy named Brunsell and some other twitter friends.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
2011 classroom, posted with vodpod

I am turning into a real apple geek. I am slowly learning how to use these new things in my classroom and in my life to make me a more effective teacher and person. I am no where near as good as dean is with this stuff but i am getting better. Maybe dean has just been working with this stuff longer than I and I am not such a nob after all…Nah…I’m a nob.

Quest Atlantis, Skype, and My Son

Posted in classroom tools, Educational, Personal with tags , , on February 10, 2010 by Mister A

QA Henny

A vice-principal came into my classroom today.  My students were working on a unit called “Ingolstadt” in a muve called Quest Atlantis.  She watched them for a few minutes and said, “Man, are they ever ENGAGED”.  I have a friend that calls virtual games like this and the activities they contain, “Behaviorist Pedagogy“.  I, on the other hand, prefer labeling them as Experiential learning.  I am not certain which of us is more correct.  Perhaps we are equally correct, but I do know a couple of things for sure.  My students are engaged, learn self-direction, and have fun when they are in Quest Atlantis.  They are learning to interact, communicate, and collaborate with others in an on-line, teacher-monitored, safe environment.  They are investigating Social Commitments and how to treat others respectfully.  All the while being invested in a standards based curriculum.  The more I see kids work with Quest Atlantis, and as I become increasingly efficient at teaching with it, the more I believe that MUVE’s like it definitely hold a very strong place in the future of education.  If you would like to see a video about Quest Atlantis described by its creator, you can click HERE or just watch it below.

Sasha Barab Video


On a personal note, my son is one of my students when I teach school on this side of town.  He was ill today and had to stay home.  The computer in my kitchen has Quest Atlantis and Skype loaded on it.  During my last class of the day, I skyped home and my son was able to attend my class and talk with his classmates as they worked their way through the Ingolstadt mission in Quest Atlantis.  My son, a seventh grader at one of the middles schools where I teach is at an age where I think he does not appreciate me as much as he did when he was younger.  However, I think he liked the fact that I was able to help him come to school on a day he was too sick to make it past our kitchen computer.

Big Thinkers: Henry Jenkins

Posted in classroom tools, Educational with tags on September 3, 2009 by Mister A

I received a link to this video in a school email.  It seems like many people in our district are really getting on board with these new tools.  I really like the ideas that this man presents in this video.  Here’s hoping that people in high places pay attention to Mr. Jenkins.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Big Thinkers: Henry Jenkins on New Me…“, posted with vodpod

Microblogging in the Classroom

Posted in classroom tools, Educational with tags , , , on August 22, 2009 by Mister A

Our district has been bringing in big-pay speakers like Kevin Honeycutt and Leslie Fischer to discuss the power of learning networks, mobile devices, and social media in our classrooms.  I think it is simply fantastic that people in my school district are beginning to see the power many of these tools might have in our classrooms.  For me, the ability to learn new things has increased exponentially as I have become increasingly proficient in utilizing many of these new tools in my own life, both personally and professionally.  I am hoping that others see how powerful these tools are and continue to push their use in the classroom.  I believe microblogging tools  can be powerful tools to share ideas and content with students.  I also believe they give us a new method for assessing student learning.  Sharing your thoughts in 140 characters  requires communication with precision and clarity.  I have talked with one teacher who has used a microblogging tool in his classroom, and he shared that the benefits far outweighed the detriments.  I really want to use many of the tools I have learned about, but it sometimes seems an uphill battle to use them as many people fear the negative repercussions of implementing these tools in a middle school classroom.  I can see why many teachers simply give up when it comes to using new tech.  It seems so much easier to simply maintain the status quo.  Anyone out there have any similar experiences?

Blogging from Joanie’s Minivan

Posted in classroom tools, Educational, Mobile Learning, Vacation on August 1, 2009 by Mister A

Seems like the only time I blog anymore is from a fast moving vehicle.  I guess if I am not sitting in a car or a plane traveling to a new destination…I would just as soon be on my bicycle riding up a hill.  I am in my car with my wife and two sons heading to Lincoln City, Oregon to spend some time with Joanie’s family.  Her parents are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary…so I thought I had better go.

Picture 4On my last trip out here to moodlebootcamp, several teacher friends told me about this game/activity called geocaching.  They explained it to me and it sounded very cool.  Geocachers search all over the place for hidden treasures called geocaches.  The coordinates of each Cache are loaded on and you can actually load them on your Ipod or Iphone with their application.  There are several different types of Geocaches, but I have only found one kind so far.  When you find the cache, there is a notebook inside for you to sign that says you found it.  When you return home you can log your find, or non-find in some cases, on the website.  Some of the Geocaches are far more well hidden than others, but actually finding the geocache is really quite rewarding.  It could be compared to completing a difficult and arduous quest in World of Warcraft.

Geocache at Hidden Lake

Geocache at Hidden Lake

When I went to the web site, it was boggling to my mind how many geocaches were placed around my hometown.  I investigated a little further and found that people place them at the end of terribly long and strenuous hikes…but man…those hikes have some kind of a view.  We went for a family hike earlier this week and found a very beautiful mountain lake with a geocache hidden in some rocks right next to it.  There was one other cache up there that I did not have time to hike up to…but I know I will go back again for that one.  Our district just purchased several GPS devices for teachers to begin using and geocaching will be an excellent way to incorporate those devices into my classroom.  I found an excellent blog that was entirely about classroom uses of Geocaching if anyone is interested in ways to utilize this awesome technology in their own classroom.  This blog contains an excellent video that describes in far more detail exactly what geocaching is if my description was not enough.

On a personal note, We are going to hike up to Multnomah Falls on our way to the coast tomorrow.  I found four Geocaches on and uploaded them onto my GPS device.  My two boys, joanie, and I are going to do some geocaching before we head to the beach.