Thursday, December 6, 2012

Whiteboarding In The USA!

I'm starting this post with Beach Boys music in my head and picturing a white longboard cresting over some waves out in California.  There are a few problems with that though. I don't really like Beach Boys music, Cali water is way too cold for me, and the interactive whiteboard (IWB) resources I'm writing about are actually from the UK and not Cali.  (Apologies given to my California friends.)

I was reading the daily list of Diigo posts I get and saw a link for free whiteboard software. I'm not an IWB king and don't see them used with great efficiency in most places, but this link had me intrigued. A website ( was giving away their IWB software for free until Christmas.  I downloaded it only to find it was for UK teachers. My Pappy always said that it doesn't hurt to ask, so I emailed them.  Within two days, they responded twice, the last time announcing a product update that allowed for US installs!

Wordwall 3 is an easy install on your Windows-based pc. (Alas, no Mac version.)  The activities were easy to create and very quick.  Almost any teacher would be able to get started with little support.

The publishers are giving the software away for FREE until Christmas.  Just download it from and use the product code NOVDEC12 .  Then you will have a free and fully-functioning product.

The kicker for me was that the publishers opened up the installs to the US by saying, "We'll do that if you just share with as many people as possible."  So, please pass the word.  The software at retail price is not cheap and this is a fantastic deal. If you have been waiting for that big wave to ride, this is it!! Start paddling and get to the software.

Some of my friends also found the announcement on another UK site, .  I hadn't seen that one before and have already found a good many instructional ideas for integrating the IWB into the classroom.

What? You don't have an expensive hardware device that receives touch-based inputs?  Then, just use it on your Windows computer. The mouse will do the same thing as an interactive device. Project your laptop or desktop onto a wall for the visual, but have students use a mouse.  Heck, splurge and get a wireless mouse and place the students closer to the board!  You got the software for free, so tell the principal to pony up for a mouse!  (Principal friends, don't shoot me. But that really would be money well-spent in this case.)

Please, leave a comment on how you use IWBs or IWB software in the classroom. What has been your success?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Getting All of Your Calendars Onto Your iOS Device?

More and more of my schools are using Google Calendars this year to manage staff events, PTA events, a meeting calendar, classroom daily agendas and more.  One strength of Google Calendars is the ability to keep a large number of non-related calendars connected to your main Google Calendar.

Often, this strength also becomes a problem.  Teachers that have a Google Calendar on the computer don't always see all of their calendars when they use a Calendar app on their iPhone or iPad.  There is a simple fix for this, but you have to comb through the internet to find it.  Luck you, I'm giving you the site right now! published a nice description of this process at . The secret ingredient is half way down the page in the paragraph about adding multiple calendars.  After you login to your gmail account, go to   and simply click on the calendars that you wish to show up on your mobile Google Calendar app.

Coming soon: How would you like to also see your Lotus Notes Calendar on your Google Calendar? Notes Traveler will soon be available to teachers in the district.  Stay tuned.

Friday, August 3, 2012

iPad Training With Science Teachers

I was asked to bring a special splash of iPad use to a group of Science teachers in AISD this Friday. The big goal for our just-under two hours together was for them to get their hands on the iPad and use it like students would use it in the classroom. Our focus will be to capture images, edit the images on the iPad, and share their work back with the teacher on a shared storage space online. The 'students' would then be able to access that same work using their laptop computer for further review or extended work.

The teachers will be playing the role of students as they try to identify the mystery trees in the school yard, research their findings via QR codes, edit their photos and post them online.  They will be using iPad apps: Skitch, DropBox, Scan, and hopefully PuppetPals.  All of the apps are free.

Teachers will be using this lesson plan outline: Creative Commons Photo Credit

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Collaborating with Google Docs

Google Docs is gaining wider acceptance as a tool that students can use, but managing the work that students create still has a way to go for many teachers.  One of the biggest strengths of Google Docs is that it is a fantastic collaboration tool for the classroom.

In the video below, I quickly show how students can take any document and share it with other students.  Students can edit the same document simultaneously from anywhere.  Students can see previous revisions of the work and restore an old version if something went terribly wrong during a late night editing session.

Teachers can share with any student by using their account.  Because the district connects the class roster system to Google Groups, the teacher can also share a document with the entire class by using just one class account.  Class account ID's start with the campus number, the teacher's E#, and the class period, followed by the special subdomain.

Sharing documents is easy and can allow for much less paper flowing across the classroom.

How would you use the Share button with your students? How do you have student collaborate on documents?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sharing Google Docs With Your Class

Many users quickly learn to share documents via a users email address, but teachers in the Austin ISD Google domain can also very easily share documents with the entire class or single students.

When you are ready to share a document, click the Share button as you normally would in Google Docs. In the 'Add people' box, start typing the name of the person you wish to share the document with.
In the picture above, we typed 'john' and a list of names that contain 'john' automatically populate the share box. It is very important that our users carefully look at the domain after the @ sign before selecting a name.  The subdomain '' is only for students.  So, would be a teacher while could only be a student.  Before sharing sensitive documents with other teachers, please check the address fully.

Another subdomain that we have is the '' domain that is reserved for class groups. Students accounts are automatically added into a crs group by the class scheduling system. Teachers do not need to create these group or manage the movement of students between classes or schools.

In this picture, we see that two different addresses have been selected to share this document with.  The first is a class account. These follow the format,  
CampusCode/Teacher'sE#/ .  Like the other addresses, the crs addresses will autopopulate as you type in this box.

You also have the ability to attach a message with this sharing process.  From this same picture, we see a teacher giving editing rights to an entire class and a specific student.  Students can use the Google 'File- Make a copy' menu to make their own editable copy that they can then save to a collection that the teacher has created for all students in that class.  Collections can be shared in the exact same way as above to help manage student document sharing with the teacher.

How would you use document sharing in your classroom?  Share!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Publishing From Google Docs

Most teachers know that Google Docs can be used to view, create, and edit documents online.  We can share those documents with others in a number of ways.  One of the easiest ways to share involves publishing the document as a webpage on the internet.

After creating your Google Doc (word doc, spreadsheet, or presentation), make sure you give is an appropriate name and give Google a few seconds to save the document.  To publish your doc, simply go to the File menu within Google Docs and select "Publish as HTML".

Publishing the document to the Web essentially just makes it viewable as a webpage while it remains in your Google Docs directory of files.  Publishing will give you both a document link that you can share with others or an embed code that can be added to a standard website page and viewed within that page.

Make sure that you check "Automatically republish.." so that you can continue to make changes to the original document and those changes will automatically be seen when viewing the original shared link. 

Publishing the document as HTML is great for when you are sharing a document with someone who doesn't have a Google Docs account.  The document is strictly a viewed webpage and any web browser can view it without having the user login to any account.   Teachers can use published documents as parent newsletters, instruction pages for students, an easy 'home page' for a classroom, and a great way to share a report with the world.  

How would you use this in your classroom?  Do you have an alternate way of easily publishing a document so that it is seen by anyone with basic web access?  Share!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Need A Geography Project?

An elementary teacher asked me today about how to make a travel video (with arrows flying across the map and everything) on her pc like  Apple's iPhoto will do on her Macbook.  The question threw me back three years to a Discovery Education Network institute I attended in Boston.  My group wanted to create a video that included all of our home towns, some state facts, and we had little time to do it.

Enter TripWow.  Officially found at , TripWow is incredibly easy to use.  Just upload photos and tag each one with the city it was taken. You can rearrange them, add captions to them, and even choose music other than the automatically geographically-centric music that plays during the show.

I sat down and in ten minutes made the video below. Super easy!

Our Field Trip to Mexico And Beyond Slideshow: Mrmartinsclass’s trip from Austin, Texas, United States to 4 cities Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta, Panama City and Amazon River was created by TripAdvisor. See another Mexico slideshow. Create your own stunning free slideshow from your travel photos.

Extensions?  All of my photos were taken from the Creative Commons in Flicker. I should cite each individual picture, but the Creative Commons exists for people to share and use photos in this community. There are over 35 million photos there and you are free to use them in the classroom!  Search the Commons for countries or historical locations to put into your geography trip.

What a great way to show Coronado's trip across North America, the Oregon Trail, or supplement a Google Lit Trip with a video about the places the character traveled.   How would you use this?


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Need A Teacher Webpage?

A teacher's webpage can be used in many different ways.  The website can be used to communicate with parents, a classroom environment for the students, or a project pace that the class could share with another class at any other school.   The historical problem with teacher webpages is that creating and maintaining the webpage could be a daunting adventure requiring special software and knowledge of internet publishing.

In Austin, teachers were given a webpage tool that was fully supported by the district. These teacher webpages were simple, but integrated into the district's network so that the creation was mostly content creation and not website creation.  Instructional Technology staff have been training campuses for a couple of years now and training is still available from the old IT wiki:

AISD Teacher Webpage Setups - From the Great and Wonderful Susan Monahan

          The pages below, but on their own page:  Teacher Webpages
          Page, Properties, and Photo   1_prop_photo.pdf
          Handouts  2_tchwebpage_handouts.pdf
           Calendar  3_tchwebpage_calendar.pdf 
           News  4_tchwebpage_news.pdf
           Links  5_tchwebpage_links.pdf
           FAQ's  6_tchwebpage_faq.pdf
           Add a Page  7_tchwebpage_addpage.pdf

The New Alternative - Google Sites

When the district adopted the use of Google Apps, we were able to include the use of Google Sites as a district-supported website creation tool.  Teachers can find the Google Sites resource by going to the AISD Cloud, opening Google Apps (AISD - Start - Collaboration - Google Apps) and clicking the white 'Sites' link at the top of the page.
Google Sites not only provides a very customizable website location, but also provides many templates for education webpages.  The templates are pre-formatted for classrooms, after school activities, or just teacher communication sites.  Once you understand the editing process, you can quickly update the content without every having to do any design work.

AISD teachers can sign up for summer training on Google Sites through the eCampus professional development catalog. There will be a full day training offered that will get almost any teacher up and running before the end of the day.

For the self-starters or independent-level technology users, Google has provided many resources for educators to use to help create their functional website.  One resource,   is the classroom component for some online Google courses.  Self-starters should be able to use this site to create their own Google Site.

There is much one can do to customize Google Sites, including embedding web content from other sites like YouTube, Vimeo, or The site can have multiple pages and a teacher can assign edit rights to specific pages to specific teachers or students with AISD usernames.

Do you have a Google Site already?   Comment below and share your site address so we can share in your success!


Saturday, March 3, 2012

AISD Technology Refresh Support

AISD has been working with campuses in providing refresh technology that will replace some of the old, end-of-life technology that is currently on campuses.  Training videos have been created and have been placed on a website along with other online support resources.  Please share this with your campus.

On this site, you will find introductory videos as well as training videos for the new Apple iMac, Asus netbook, iPad2, Lenovo Android tablet, and Manda Pro all-in-one desktop computer.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Easy Publishing -

One of the hassles of putting your work on a website is learning how to set it up and then having to go to the site to post on it.  There are some great tools out there to minimize the hassles, like the blogs out there that let you update your posts just by sending an email. Well, goes one step farther, er, or easier.

I've had a Posterous account for a number of years and missed one major advantage to Posterous.  The first-time user can start their Posterous account, simply by emailing from the email account they wish to use.  The resulting reply email has already begun the setup process and you are technically a couple of click away from immediate posting!  The video below gives a great demo for Posterous.

Once it is setup, you can simply email your text, picture, document, or video to your Posterous email account and it will get published on your site.  You can still edit and manage the post from your Posterous management page, but you don't have to.

Also, cross-posting is a breeze.  Posterous allows you to connect to your blogs, Twitter, or Facebook accounts and auto post to them from your single Posterous posting. Very easy!

Why Posterous for the classroom? Your main Posterous webpage is organized as a blog. You could have the student of the week send an email at the end (or beginning) of the day to post the day's agenda or assignment list. Since you can post via email, sharing iPad creations via an app's Share via Email options can make sharing iPad products easy without having to setup network printing or filesharing on the iPads.

How would YOU use Posterous in the classroom?  Would love to hear from you.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Make Your QR Code Talk To You!

QR codes are pretty popular these days and I've already posted a couple of times about it.  This time I'm sharing a website that you can use to make your QR Code TALK TO YOU!

First of all, why?   A number of my schools have said that they are using QR codes in scavenger hunts around the school.  What if your students are English Language Learners or early readers?  When the students get to the answer spot and hit the QR code, this time the code will congratulate them on their correct answer and give them there next direction. 

scan this with your mobile camera!
This is incredibly hard for the teachers.   You have to go to and type your short sentence in the blank.  Click the small barcode enter button and you get your new barcode.    That's it!

Copy and your post QR codes for the students to scan.  On my Android phone, I did have to click 'browse' once the code was scanned and then click 'execute' to hear the voice.  My iPad played it right after scanning once.

How would you use this in your classroom?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Squeezing Extra Email Out Of One Gmail Account?

With many campuses introducing groups of iPads into the classrooms, one of the barriers to success is creating and managing campus-owned Apple ID accounts.  One great trick with Gmail email is the ability to have more than one email address for your one Gmail account.

Normally, your personal Apple ID will be used with the App Store to install free or paid apps onto your iPads. In an educational setting like AISD, the district wants to maintain ownership of all apps purchased with district money. In that case, you do not want to install apps onto an iPad using a teacher's personal Apple ID, because doing so will forever marry the ownership of the app to your personal ID. You cannot later transfer ownership of an app from one Apple ID to another one.

The problem get worse when a campus decides to create a campus-owned email account for each set, classroom or teacher that will be adding apps to the iPads.  Nobody wants to maintain a bunch of new email addresses that don't belong to a specific person.

Gmail to the rescue!  One strategy for maintaining a large number of iPads in a setting where they don't all use the same apps is to use the Gmail+ email addresses.  The campus creates one Gmail account, .  That account lives as an admin email account that one person will administer during the year.  For each set or teacher that needs an Apple ID, create the free Apple ID account by using a "+name" designation like, "", "", or "". 

The Gmail+ email is seen by Apple as a different email account, so all of the examples above would be seen as different Apple IDs.  Being that they belong to '', all email would go to that one gmail account. The administrator will be able to see all App Store receipts and communication for each ID.

All the teachers need to do is create the Apple ID using a designated Gmail+ address and use that ID for their iPads.  After that, all of the iPad apps will be installed using that ID and the campus will always have ownership over the app, no matter who it belongs to on campus.

For more on creating Apple IDs that are not connected to any credit card, see this article.