Monday, June 21, 2010

Summertime, And theLivin' is Easy

If you're like me, you have a mile-long list of things to do over the summer because you think you'll have time to do it. At least that is what you tell yourself and everyone you talk to. Realistically you know you won't get much of this list done, if anything at all (I know I won't).

Well, I'll try not to add too much to your list, although I know that I have already for some of you. If you don't have anything to do, browse through the blog posts on the right of this page and you'll be sure to find something that piques your interest. There are many things worth investing your time in.

Now, I'd actually like to show you something that could save you time this summer. Many teachers are in the midst of transferring their lessons into SMART Notebook to make them easier to use with their SMARTboards. Is this a necessary step for everyone? No, its not. Is it more convenient to have your lessons in Notebook rather than Word or PDF? I would argue yes.

So, how can you get your lessons into Notebook from another program? There are 3 different methods that I'd recommend, depending on the situation.

#1. Copy and Paste. As simple as it gets. Highlight your work. Select copy. Paste into Notebook. This method is the best method due to the fact that you can still edit text in Notebook by double-clicking on it. It allows for more customization than the next two methods because of this. However, it isn't the fastest method.

#2. Screen Capture. Certainly the slowest method, screen capture will allow you to copy your lessons into Notebook by selecting an area using the screen capture tool. This method is one to consider if you cannot copy and paste your material. However, with screen capture, you will not be able to edit text because you are capturing images. If you can't remember how to use screen capture, watch the video in this blog post.

#3. Notebook Print Capture. This method is the fastest out of the three and is like a one-click screen capture method. It will take a picture of each page and insert them into a Notebook file. Like screen capture, each page is an image so you are unable to edit them. Occasionally, the quality of the images are suspect. If this happens, you should use option #2 - screen capture. Watch the quick video below to see how Print Capture works.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Learn through Blogging.

We know that blogging can be a very effective tool when used in the classroom. But, it can also be a great tool for developing your PLN. In fact, it's probably the easiest way to get started. You can easily find thousands of blogs relevant to your area of interest or expertise on the internet through a quick search using Googleblogs, or Technorati.

Once you've found a blog, begin by reading some of the posts. The most current post will be on the first page you see. There is generally an area where you can navigate to previous blog postings (For instance, on the right hand side of this page you can access all blog postings from the past). Take a quick browse through to see if there are any titles or blog posts that interest you. You will quickly be able to judge whether or not that blog is a site that will be valuable for you.

Your next step should be to start contributing to the conversation. Topics and ideas presented on blogs will get you thinking. Ask questions, answer questions or tell others what you think. The whole idea is to have a conversation to deepen your understanding of a topic.

The final step is to create your own blog and express your beliefs and knowledge with others.

In the meantime, here are some of my favourites that deal with technology:

Free Technology for Teachers
My 2 Cents
ICT in Education
The Whiteboard Blog

Monday, June 7, 2010

What's in a Ning?

Ning is great website where you can create your own social network, similar to sites like MySpace or Facebook. You may be asking why you would want to do that. Well, besides the fact that MySpace and Facebook is probably blocked at your school, both of those sites have questionable security and privacy issues that simply would not plague you if you chose to use a Ning. Your Ning could be a site used by your class as a social network to safely debate or discuss different topics relevant to your class. Nings can be made public or private, so you can limit exactly who can see and connect with your network. Also, educators can use Ning free of charge! For more educational uses, read this.

To use Ning as a part of your PLN, it would be incredibly easy to set one up and invite collaborators to join. You could share web resources, attach files or discuss issues of pedagogy. The best way to get to know the features and benefits of Ning is to experience it yourself. Chances are, whatever your bailiwick, you'll be able to find an educational Ning that is already set up and running. Most of these are public so you can join the network. Here are some that I'd recommend:

The Educator's PLN
Ning in Education
Classroom 2.0
Smartboard Revolution
English Companion Review (Award Winning)
EFL Classroom 2.0 (Award Winning)
Country Day School

Here is a video explaining Ning in Education:

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Twitter? Surely, you can't be serious.

I am serious... and stop calling me Shirley!

Twitter is not what you may think it is. While you could get constant updates about what your favourite celebrity is having for lunch or what new music they're listening to, Twitter has evolved into an important educational tool that has many potential benefits for teachers and students. Not sure what Twitter is? Watch this video.

Today, I'll focus on the benefits of using Twitter as a part of your PLN. As a networking tool, Twitter helps you connect with educational experts across the globe. By "following" these experts, you can get real-time updates featuring things like new websites, blog posts or thought provoking comments. For me, Twitter has given the greatest return in terms of learning and professional development over any conference, workshop, website or program. I can directly pose a question to a number of educational experts in technology and receive a response within hours, sometimes minutes.

If you were to follow and be followed by colleagues in your district, Twitter could be an effective option for you to get resources to one another or have professional conversations. These resources and conversations could be taken further by connecting with educators from around the world, as you extend your PLN beyond your geographic location.

Give it a try and see what you think. Sign up for a Twitter account here. Search for my username: cunningandy. Follow me and receive my tweets. Take a look at the people I follow and choose to follow one or two of them. When you're ready to learn more, check out this website on twitter etiquette and twitter terminology (pay special attention to hashtags).

Check out the presentation below for more information on how to use Twitter as a professional development tool:

Twitter for Teachers- a Professional Development Tool