Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Implementing tech tools, the ez way - Goomoodleikiog

When working with teachers, I try and steer clear of the term technology while helping them implement technology in their classroom. In most cases, I experience a kind of glaze over teacher's face when the word is mentioned. I think most believe as soon as technology is introduced to their classroom they will have to gear up spending a lot of time teaching the hows and whys while learning it themselves. I also don't like the idea of forcing new technology on the masses. I feel that in those kind of situations, only a few will listen and of those few, only a few of them will implement. The rest just have that "Oh Bother" look about them and then end up having negative thoughts not only on technology but on me. What ends up happening then, as I walk into any room, people scurry away fearful of the Sanchez tech retch. This is the way I felt and others reacted when I had a job as a facilitator and was instructed to do just what I described.

Instead, I would rather like to walk into a classroom and look for ways to implement technology in a seamless matter. As I observe, I take mental notes on possible ways to introduce a technology tool to their classroom in a manner that would only require a couple of hours of prep for them to be fully comfortable with the new "tool". I then will sit down with them and walk through the paces. When they are ready, I will come to class or will stop in time to time to make sure things are working okay.

Take a look at the following video. Here are some ideas that have been used by some of our staff here at CCMS. It seems that if you use the technology as a tool to help ease the work load, the classroom can become more manageable. This video is a example of 4 free tools that I have used and have found helpful in many ways. Take a look at their web site - Goomoodleikiog. There is much more information on the site about implement these and other techno tools in the classroom.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Personal/Custom Search Engine

As a middle school teacher, there are times when I want my students to do some Internet research. Problem is, as a tech instructor, I know the difficulties students will face in finding information they will be able to understand and validate as factual. I have had several teachers comment that the students know more than they do about technology, therefore they will be able to find the information without any problems. As research has shown, even the brightest middle school students are not proficient with online reading and comprehension.

To help out with this problem, I would like to introduce a tool available via Google. The Custom Search Engine or CSE is a tool that will limit searches to specific sites you have already chosen. Up front there is some setup, but once you have done the research and set up a CSE, students will have access to researched sites for their searches. To use this tool, you will need to have a Google account. It is free.Once you have one, sign in and then visit the Custom Search Engine site.

Once registered and logged into the site,  you should see a page that has the following headings:
  • Basic information
  • What do you want to search
  • Select some sites
  • Select an editon
Basic information:  type a name for the search engine and a description.
What do you want to search:  Depending on how you want to use this search engine will dictate which choice here.
Select some sites:  In this box, you will list the sites you have chosen for your CSE. Be sure to read the "Tips on formatting URLs". The searches can be limited to single web pages or entire sites.
Select an edition:  One downside is in order to keep it free, the search results will have ads on them. But this is no different than a regular Google search which has ads on it as well.

When all the information is filled out, check the box at the bottom for Terms of Service and click next.
On the following page you can try out your newly created search engine. Once finished here click the Finish button. The next page will show you a control panel for your search engines. I am not going into details on this page. There is a lot of information here. I would suggest playing around with the site though.

One final feature I will point out though, if you have a webpage, blog or some other Internet site, you will be able to embed code to have your search engine available there instead of creating a link to the Google site itself. On my website, I have an example of what this would look like. Otherwise, you can create a link to the URL so students can easily access your CSE.

If you have any questions or would like some help with this, email me and I will set up a time to meet with you.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Up and Coming Technology: Sixth Sense

It seems to me every day or so I hear comments about the new technology available, how much info there is out there, how scary the Internet is and so forth. Well, if any of these comments have been apart of your conversations lately, take a look at this video. I think it is fascinating and at the same time a part of me wants to be wary of information I choose to put online about myself. Take a look at the video and see what you think.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ken Robison video: TED Conference

I was up real early this morning and did not want to turn on the TV. I decided instead to turn on the big screen that had some interactivity with it. Well it paid off.  I came across this video of Sir Ken Robinson speaking at a TED conference. He got me to thinking (I know...a rare instance) about what we are doing in our classrooms or lack thereof.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Saving YouTube, Teacher Tube and other website videos.

Don't you know, every time you want to use an online video in your class the Internet slows to a snails pace or the Internet itself is down. No worries, I'm here to help.

The simplest solution is to download the video and have access to it whether the network is up or not. There are many services to help you with this. Some charge and others are free. One great site is It is pretty simple to use. Just copy the URL (the Internet address) of the web site containing the video and paste it into the URL box at the top of the page at and click the download button to the right. A couple of links will then appear just below. There usually is a couple of choices. You will have to read the details following each link to decide which clip you  want. Choices include a higher and lower quality clips and sometimes a different size option (in pixels).

One note to mention - while this method works on Youtube videos and such it will not work all the time. There are different solutions out there. Other methods can be found by typing in "capture streaming video" in a google search.

As always, if you have questions let me know. TTFN

Text Message Alerts: teachers able to send mass texts to students.

I have heard from several students and a request from a teacher that it would be "cool" if students could receive text messagages about up-coming events in the class like quizzes, tests and assignments. I am here to please...Your wish is my command...I hear and obey.

Enough already. I have a solution for you. Take a look at the following.

By typing in your phone number into the box, you will receive a text explaining how to subscribe to BlueBandit at This is my textmark so you may not want to subscribe. Go to the site to read more and create your own account. If you need help setting up your account, let me know. You can choose to send out alerts from your phone or website. You can also add it to a web like I did here. Pretty neat stuff.

One final note, you can subscribe to other alters ranging from topics like horoscopes, bible versus, stock quotes... the list just goes on. One could lose their self in a sea of texts although I don't recommend it.

Happy Texting!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Email: Creating contact groups.

I have had several request over the last few months for help in creating a contact or distribution list. This list will save time for those who continually have to send emails to the same group of people regularly. This posting will walk you through the process using Microsoft Outlook. The process is similar for most email programs. If the following does not help you with your particular situation, let me know the specifics of your dilemma and I will see what I can do.

  1. Open MS Outlook and in the upper right hand corner, click on "New" just below File in the menu bar. Make sure you are clicking on the down arrow.
  2. Choose the selection called "Distribution List".
  3. In the window that pops open, you have two choices:
    1. choose "Add New" at the top that has a picture of a single guy with it and add the email of the person you wish to add.
    2. choose "Select Members" right next to "Add New" and in that box click all the members you wish to add (only works to select members already apart of your contact list).
  4. Click okay when done with each of the above.
  5. In the name box above the list, type in the name you wish to give the group.
  6. Click "Save & Close" at the top.
After these steps create new email message. In the "To" box, type the name of the group. Finish you message and click send. That should be it.

Again, other email programs will be similar, just not exact. Happy Emailing.

P.S. (is this valid in a blog)
Send a test message that requests everyone to reply to make sure you have all the email typed in correctly.

Diigo Bookmarking

I was introduce to Diigo during an online class in the Spring of 09. Since then I have used it extensively to bookmark pages and help me with research. Diigo's tools include the ability to post notes, highlight, and to share with others and more. Watch the video and see how you might put it to use. Great Stuff!!!!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

TECH TIP: "HELP. My computer has a virus!!!"

Wish I had a quarter (times are tough) for every phone call I get requesting help because someone's computer is infected with spyware, viruses, or some malicious software causing havoc. Calls are frequent and frantic. In this post I will give away my trade secrets to help you all with these issues. The following solutions will work for most problems that will arise. However, there will be those times when the problem is a deeper infection than what these solutions can handle. In those cases I will give you the steps techs take to solve problems like this. Believe it or not, we don't have all the answers and have to scour the Internet for solutions.

For the most part, the following solutions will cure most infections we may incur from the Internet and email. The steps involve no more than downloading free software, installing it, and then running the applications. Sometimes the running of the applications can take awhile. For example, as I write this, I am working on a computer that has a virus. The software has been running for 3 hrs now and is only about 55% done. Keep in mind this is only one of the software packages. On average I will run 3-4 to clean a computer taking 10s of hours if not days sometimes. The good thing about the time issue though, the computer is doing all the work. My time on task is usually 5-10 percent of that time.

To start off, you are going to need to download some software from the Internet. If your computer is infected badly enough to halt Internet connectivity, you will need to go to a friend's or work computer to do the downloads, saving them to a jump/flash drive. Click on each of the following to download them. I will explain what to do with them in a moment.

Each of the links take you to a download site saving you the time of navigating each to find the downloads. If you wish to read more on each just follow these links to their home sites.

These four programs can all be installed on your computer at once and not cause any conflicts. If however you have an antivirus program on your computer like norton, mcafee, trend or some other av, do not install the Avira. Anti-virus programs can conflict on your computer and cause problems.

Install each of the programs on your computer. Follow the basic setup by agreeing with all the default settings unless you are comfortable enough to custom install the programs. After each install run the program and update it. Then run a scan of your computer (choose full system scans if available). Let each program run its course and remember they can take hours. If they find something when they finish, the programs will give you a list of each infected file and ask what you want to do with them. I recommend following their suggestions if, however, the program gives you a choices instead of suggestions, choose to quarantine the file. When finished, restart and try out the computer and see if it still has any issues. If so, run the programs again. Some viruses are designed to keep coming back especially after restarts. Eventually, the virus will get caught.

A few points to keep in mind.
  1. Software programs will perform differently with newer versions. As of this posting, the programs listed above are highly rated by several sources. But those ratings may change and as newer versions of different programs are released, I will change my suggestions accordingly. For example, one article I just finished reading recommends Norton Internet Security 2009, a program I have avoided over the last few years because it really slows down a computer. This article states that Norton has addressed that issue. I may be looking into Norton again.
  2. Each of the programs listed are free-ware meaning they are free to use on your home computers. The paid versions of these and other programs will offer more features and may be worth looking into which is why I included links to their home sites.
  3. This posting is intending for helping those who already have a problem with viruses and such. Preventative measures such as installing an AV program are highly recommended.
  4. I keep using the term virus. That is because we are all familiar with it. A virus is not necessarily the problem with the computer. Other terms we need to consider in order to correctly identify the problem would be: malware, spy-ware, Trojan, phishing, worm and the list goes on. I plan on addressing these in a later posting but for now will continue to use the term virus to cover all issues.

If you are unsuccessful at getting the virus, then it is time to go into research mode. You will need access to the Internet and your infected computer may not be up to the task. Believe it or not, I have come across some viruses that prevent the computer from doing specific searches on the Internet for the issues I am having. I suggest using Google for now (also will explain differences in search engines in another posting) to find a solution. In the search box type in key words that express the problem you are having. If one issue is a pop-up box. Search for terms that are in the box. If your computer is consistently performing some operation that is the problem, type in keywords that describe what is happening. More than likely you will find links to sites that will address the issues. Bear in mind, check more than one site to verify the solution. Sometimes a "solution" might cause more problems. Finding multiple resources that state the same info will lessen the chances of causing more damage. I am not trying to use scare tactics. Although the risk is real, it is low.

There is no way to cover all the issues that can arise with virus like problems. This is a beginning step . If you have other issues you would like help with, please let me know. I will try to address all questions. Again, I am here to help my staff feel more comfortable using technology so that it is not another stress factor in the classroom.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

My First

I have long sat back and watched the Internet grow, technologies evolve, and teachers get left behind. This blog is going to be my online sounding board and resource to help our staff become more effective in using technology in the classroom.

I will start by adding tips and links to sites that will give teachers resources for applying different types of technology in the classroom. Hopefully, we will get to a point where the term technology is just another "tool" for the classroom instead of an obstacle. I believe when someone uses the term technology in reference to their classroom, technology is not a part of that classroom but rather an add-in. We MUST get to a point where technology in a classroom becomes a part of the language used to describe the tools used in the classroom like notebooks, pencils and textbooks.