Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Digital Learning Day

Did you know on February 5, 2014 is Digital Learning Day?  This is a day about giving every child the opportunity to learn in a digital environment. Whether it is using desktop computers, laptops, mobile devices or tablets.  It is a day to encourage students to use technology effectively to help improve education and to ensure students are ready to use and apply 21st century skills and tools in their daily lives.

The Digital Learning Day website has many resources to help teachers and parents introduce and encourage students to implement the use of technology.  Here is a list of ideas that will help you get started to promote Digital Learning Day.

In addition, you can find lesson plans, classroom resources by subject, and a list of free digital tools.  I will write about a few of the free tools below.  Plus, I intend to use the free digital tool list and learn the tools I do not know.

1.   Voki.- Students love this tool! It will allow them to create a speaking avatar.  They can use this in any subject for book reviews, tutorials, biographies, and many more.  They can even copy and paste the embed code from this tool and insert it into a wiki, blog, or website.

2.GoogleLit Trips - will bring characters from literature to life by documenting their journey. It allows students to virtually follow along with a book they are reading.   I will be encouraging teachers at my school to use this tool as a guide for their novels.

3.  Quizlet - Offers flash cards, practice quizzes, and games to help students study.  Plus it has the ability to collaborate to assist in the studying process.  This is a popular tool and is user friendly for both teachers and students.

These are just a few tools that can be used everyday, but especially on February 5, 2014, Digital Learning Day.  I plan to encourage staff with Digital Learning Day, by reaching out to them, showing them how to use it in their lessons and to reinforce the importance of using and learning new tools in our daily lives. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tech Tip Tuesday - 1/28/2014

Once a week, mainly on Tuesdays, I will be posting a quick Tech Tip.  This will be called Tech Tip Tuesdays.  As a Technology Integration Coach, it is my responsibility to help train teachers and staff on technology.  Every week, I started to provide a professional development session to staff on quick and easy tech tips. This week, the Tech Tip Tuesday session was Capture It! Screen Capture Tools.  Here is a copy of what I presented.

Capture it! Screen Shot Tools

  1. Snipping Tool:
  • This application is installed in Windows and is usually located in the accessories folder.
  • If you cannot locate it, just perform a search for it by clicking the ‘Start’ button, and type ‘Snipping Tool’  in the search bar.  It will be displayed in the list.
  • At times, I will use this application to capture an image on my computer screen.

   2.  Jing:
  • This application must be downloaded and installed on your computer.
  • You can capture an image or create a short video and the icon is displayed as the sun at the top of the screen.
  • I use this application to capture an image on my computer screen.

  • This application must be downloaded and installed on your computer.
  • I recommend you create a script on what you want to say first, then start recording your video
  • I use this application to create short videos or tutorials. Here is an example

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Voicethread Presentation Tool

Students in Michele Giardano's 7th grade science class, @mteacher33 on Twitter, at the William Davies Middle School, @WilliamDaviesMS on Twitter, were assigned an alternative energy project which requires them to work in groups and create a presentation using Voicethread.  

Since our school has a site license, it is my responsibility to upload all of the student information into the Voicethread database using a CSV, (comma separated values), file. This will grant all of the students access to Voicethread and allow them to have an account. 

Once the students in the class login, I introduce the tool by showing them a sample Voicethread that is in the library.  By displaying a sample, the students can get a better understanding of how Voicethread is used as a presentation tool.

After that, I explain to the students how to create, edit, and share a Voicethread.  In addition, I explain to them that the first slide in the presentation must be a title slide, or cover page that includes, the name of the project, a picture, their name, their teacher's name, class, period and date.

Next, I have them create a cover page using Microsoft Word and then I have them create and upload the file into their Voicethread.  In Voicethread, there are many types of files that can be uploaded, such as: .jpeg, .docx, .pptx, .pdf, .wmv, and videos files that access your webcam.  Once they upload their files, it creates each page into its own separate slide in Voicethread. At this point they must title each slide and comment on the slide accordingly.

Voicethread will allow you to comment on slides in a variety of ways. You can include an audio comment, video comment, typed comment, and use your cell phone to comment.  While you comment, you can also use the doodle tool to point out important details on the slide you are referring to.  This will allow your audience to focus on a specific item or picture on the slide. 

It is important to know that one of the students in the group must be the owner/creator of the Voicethread. This person will create and upload the cover page to Voicethread, and invite other group members by searching the database and grant them edit privileges to the presentation.  Once this is completed, the owner/creator must share the link from their presentation and paste it into their small group in Edmodo.  At this point, all of the students in the small group will have access to the presentation and can start to collaborate on it together. 

So far, it seems the students are utilizing the tool accordingly. They were uploading different types of files and recording audio and video comments on them.  I am happy to report the students were working together and collaborating well.  I hope to bring you a student sample when the project is complete.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Digital Portfolios

As a Technology Integration Coach in a middle school, I am required to assess all 8th grade student's knowledge of technology literacy, based on the NJTAPIN rubric, New Jersey Technology Assessment for Proficiency and Integration.  (Please refer to the rubric for type of skills being assessed.)  I have to check their network files for specific skills that are required and grade their work accordingly.  They will be graded as advanced proficient, proficient, partially proficient or novice.   Because I have to assess over 300 students, I am requiring them to create a digital portfolio.

Having them create a digital portfolio will make it much easier for me to assess their technology skills.  I created a template using PowerPoint and provided information on what skills need to be included, what applications may have been used, and instructions on how to embed/insert objects and links into the slides.

Once the students have completed their digital portfolio, then all I have to do is open up their template and check to see if they inserted the information that I required.  I used PowerPoint to create my template because I feel most of the students are already familiar with this application.  Plus, I do teach them new features of PowerPoint including, how to create a PowerPoint show, insert links with descriptive text to display and embed objects. In addition, they will learn how to use a screen capture tool, such as Windows Snipping Tool.  I find many students are not familiar with these features of PowerPoint and/or the Windows Snipping Tool.

I will follow up on this post when the students have completed their digital portfolios.  I am requiring them to complete the portfolio by April.  This will give me enough time to go assess all of the 8th grade student's digital portfolios and fill out the appropriate paper for each student before my deadline in June.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Grow Your Business with Social Media and Brand it!

In addition to my full time job as a Technology Integration Coach at the William Davies Middle School, I am a Technology Consultant for myself at The Tech Lady.  I provide computer repair services, new installations of hardware and software applications, configurations and repairs, PC tune-ups and tutoring for any age.

Many of my clients come to me for assistance with tutoring, especially on social media, and inquire about promoting their business on Facebook. Currently, The Tech Lady is on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus.   However, I promote my business mainly using Facebook.  My Twitter and Google Plus accounts are professional accounts too, but I mainly use them to connect with my PLN for school related issues.

Every time I complete a tech job, I post to The Tech Lady Facebook page, "another satisfied customer", then I post a brief description of the type of job I completed.  These simple posts help promote my brand and my business.  I use this as an example for my clients so they can market their business as well.  You are "bragging" about your services and advertising at the same time.

A few companies I helped start promote their small business on Facebook is Mattina Sheetmetal, Save The Day Products, Pinelands Wildcat Wrestling, and most recently, Jim Nuti of Graphic Alley Advertising, Tell Your Business.  These businessese inquired my services to help promote their brand on social media.  In addition, I am the social media adviser for the William Davies Middle School and the Pinelands Wildcat Wrestling platforms, so I have a lot of experience with branding.

If you want to brand your business, you can include the same hashtag on every post.  However, I recommend that you check the hashtag first before using it.  That way it gives your audience a channel to voice their comments and opinions.

If you are interested and want to promote your business on social media, I would recommend the following:

  • Think of a "catchy" phrase so people will remember your brand
  • Post often
  • Reply back to any comments
  • "Like" other businesses that are similar to yours in your area
  • When posting, remember to include an image or a link
  • Be sure your business profile page information is accurate and updated, especially the contact information
  • If you have a website for your business, include it on your posts and in your profile as well
Remember, not all social media platforms are suitable for your business.  For example, just because Twitter exists, does not mean it may be beneficial to promote your business using it.  If you are unsure, always ask for assistance or you can just email me!  Visit my website Computer Repair Services by The Tech Lady for more information.  Thanks!