Month: October 2014

(Truly Scary) Food for Thought Friday: Kids Online

Internet Safety by raynaynae, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  raynaynae 

by Kristie Burk

Happy Halloween!  Are you ready for some truly scary news?

Microsoft surveyed 1,000 parents in 2013 and found that almost all of the parents (94 percent) let their kids use at least one device (computer, mobile phone, and gaming console) or online service (email, social networks, and the like) without supervision.

Parents are understandably overwhelmed with what a child can access via a laptop or mobile device.  Gone are the days when the computer sat at a desk and a parent could look over a child’s shoulder.

It is more important than ever that parents make themselves aware of how they can help protect their children online from truly scary things.  Feel free to share this information with parents – maybe make a handout during parent/teacher conferences or post it on your class website…

To protect children, parents should

  1. Establish rules early on about texting, tweeting, using webcams, etc. There are lots of examples of social media contracts online.  Find one that works for you or develop your own together.
  2. Remind your children about privacy issues.  They should never give out identifying information or location. If your child is tweeting, “Going to Regal to see ‘Book of Life’,” he could be asking for trouble.
  3. Follow or friend your child wherever he or she may go online.
  4. If your children play online video games, ask to watch for a while.  If they have voice chat during the game, make sure you know with whom they are chatting.
  5. Explain to children that even if they use a service like Snapchat that promises to delete their photos after a few seconds, people can still take a screenshot of the photo and keep it forever.
  6. Monitor your children’s texts, but understand that they’ve probably worked out a secret language to keep things hidden from you.
  7. Warn your children about the dangers of sexting.
  8. Take a few minutes to show children how much someone can find out about them.  One parent should Google himself and show the children how they can find out who he is, where he works, where he lives, what he’s written about, etc.  It’s very eye-opening.
  9. If a child has his or her own phone, you must be even more careful.  Most phones allow parental control, but you still need to be cautious.  Internet safety experts, for example, warn parents to disable the Safari browser on an iPhone and download one that is safer for kids.  If you’re unsure about what you should do to protect your children on their phones, contact your phone provider for help.
  10. Talk to your children about cyberbullying and what they should do if they’re being bullied online or if they see it happening to someone else.

More useful information can be found at OnGuard Online, the federal government’s website to help you be safe, secure and responsible online


Trello: Organizing and Sharing Your Life

by Jonathan Blow

Like checklists or staying organized?! – this post is for you!!   Keeping track of sticky notes, checklists and projects can be very overwhelming to say the least.   Trello is a great tool to improve planning and organization and it is a FREE, yes FREE!

Trello is a software that provides a user with the space to post, plan, assign and track any project or task. Very similar to a dashboard look, a user will create what is referred to as “cards” for various situations.  Teachers, you can create a “card” that includes notes for students on a particular subject – you could even share the “card” with parents or students.   This program isn’t just for teachers though…it’s for anyone who loves to be organized.  Create “To Do” lists, share grocery lists, collaborate with colleagues on a topic – the list is endless.

So what are some of the advantages and uses for Trello:

  • It’s free…both the web-based application and the mobile app!
  • You can add members to view and edit any card
  • Create checklists
  • Create deadlines
  • Manage members

6.)   Add voting options

I have personally seen many teachers and admins using this program, both for personal and professional applications.   Give it a try…you never know, it may make your life just a little bit easier.


Website Wednesday: Using the Web to Create Student Portfolios or Digital Notebooks

by Kristie Burk

A digital notebook or portfolio is a place where students can collect essays, artwork, drawings, projects, etc.  It’s a way for students (and teachers and parents) to see what they’ve learned and how they’ve progressed.  At the end of the year, the students can select their best pieces to be graded or presented.

With today’s technology, students can create their own digital portfolios for free using tools like Evernote.  (Teachers should also consider creating their own personal portfolios of what they’re doing in the classroom.)  Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you’re considering using digital portfolios with your students:

  • Make sure the portfolio is web-based.  Even if the students are 1:1, parents could try to view the portfolio from a different device.
  • Teach students how to create their portfolios in the beginning.
  • “Catch” the students doing good work (take a picture?) and put the documentation in their portfolios.
  • Provide plenty of opportunities for students to add to their portfolio.
  • Make the portfolios as multi-media as possible.
  • Build in time for students to review and reflect on their portfolios.
  • Share the portfolios with parents and classmates.

Schoology, our learning management system, makes it easy for students to create media albums and to use them as digital portfolios. It’s also in the process of creating a separate student portfolio section that students can use to show at job or college interviews.  Until this functionality is available, however, here are some additional resources to get you started:

How and Why It’s Time to Create Digital Student Portfolios

How To Create  a Portfolio with Evernote

7 Great iPad Apps to Create Digital Portfolios

Using e-portfolios in the Classroom

PortfolioGen Classroom – A Digital Portfolio Tool for Students and Teachers

Student Portfolios with Evernote

7 Ways to Create e-portfolios

Create Digital Portfolios on eduClipper

Tech Tip Tuesday: Interactive Science Glossary App

iPad Screenshot 2by Kristie Burk

I love to find great new apps for my mobile devices, especially when they’re free!  Today’s tech tip is about Interactive Life Science Glossary, an app to review and study life science terms and concepts.

The app has simulations, flashcards and videos to teach about the human body, ecosystems, heredity, cells, etc. The app is appropriate for middle and high school students and could be a great study guide for students preparing for the Biology Keystone exam.  CPO Science, the maker of the Interactive Life Science Glossary, also makes similar apps for physical and earth sciences.


Food for Thought Friday: How to Use Tech Like a Teen

by Kristie Burk

Over the weekend, take some time to read this fantastic article by Geoffrey Fowler called “How to Use Tech Like a Teenager.” The article will definitely give you some food for thought on this Friday!

Some interesting tidbits:

  • Only 6% of teens exchange email daily
  • 91% of teens post a photo of themselves on social media sites
  • Some 58% of teen social-media users say they cloak their messages using inscrutable pictures and unexplained jokes to communicate in code

After you’ve read the article, let us know what you think using #foodforthoughtfri.

Website Wednesday: Using Quizlet To Help Your Students Study Better

quizletby Kristie Burk

This week I’m going to share with you Quizlet, a website that allows teachers (or students themselves) to create their own flashcards, games, and other activities to study vocabulary and spelling words. Created by a high school sophomore almost 15 years ago, Quizlet now has over 11 million users.

Last week, my fifth grade son used Quizlet to study his vocabulary words. He entered all of the words into Quizlet with their definitions. (You can see his Quizlet by clicking on the flashcard.) Once he typed the words, which only took a few minutes, he could “play” all the following activities:

  • Flashcards – Quizlet presents the word to help the students study the definition. One click on the word will “flip” the card.  Students could also choose to start with the definitions showing or alternate between both.
  • Learn – Quizlet will present the definition and students have to type the word. There are options to add audio or to see the words first.
  • Scatter – (This game was my son’s favorite.)  The words and definitions are scattered on the page and students have to race against the clock to try to connect them.
  • Race – The definition races across the page and the students have to type in the matching word to “destroy” the box.
  • Speller – Quizlet reads the words to the students and they have to spell them by typing them into a box.

My third grader even got in on the action.  He wasn’t too excited to study his weekly spelling words last Thursday, so I made him a quick Quizlet.  He used the “Speller” game. Because it was so enjoyable, he spent quite a bit of time “studying” his words!

Quizlet will also embed into Schoology, which means that students can access all the games without leaving your class.  Fran Evans and Lauren Taylor both teach a blended Introduction to Foods class and recently used a Quizlet to help their students learn measurements.

If you don’t have the time to make a Quizlet for your students, share the website with them or their parents – it helps make studying at home much more fun!

Tech Tip Tuesday: Find an Educational Twitter Chat

by Kristie Burk

I admit it – Twitter chats can be very confusing the first time that you look at one.  I have discovered that I enjoy them more when I’m using my Twitter app instead of looking at Twitter on a web browser.  (Just my two cents.)  However, once you get the hang of it, you’ll find Twitter chats can be incredibly informative, supportive and helpful.

My best advice for people who are unsure about Twitter chats is to jump right in and try one!  Find a Twitter Chat that interests you and the hashtag that is associated with the chat.  For example, I participate in #edtechchat on Monday nights from 8-9 EST. Once you know when the chat is taking place, type the hashtag (#edtechchat) in the search box to see the conversation. I’ve “met” so many interesting people from across the country and around the world who are all interested in the same thing: educating our youth in the best way possible.

Do you want to join a Twitter chat?

First, you need to create a Twitter account if you don’t already have one.

Second, use this awesome link to find an educational Twitter chat that you like.   The link will open up a Google Doc, so you know that it is always up-to-date.

Here are some things to know when joining a Twitter chat:

  • Introduce yourself before you make a comment to the group. It’s polite and it’s a great way to find out where everyone is from. Please note that “regulars” don’t introduce themselves after a while.
  • Find out who is moderating the chat and what questions you’re discussing.  Questions are often marked as “Q1,” “Q2,” etc.  People’s answers are often (but not always) labelled in a similar fashion as “A1,” “A2,” etc.
  • Use the hashtag of the group whenever commenting so that everyone can see your input.
  • Feel free to retweet or favorite posts you like.
  • Respond to people individually if you want. (Click on “reply” at the bottom of the tweet.)

You should also “follow” some of the people in the chat, particularly those with insightful and helpful tweets.  It’s a great way to grow your PLN!

Most importantly, don’t forget that Twitter is a public forum and, therefore, it is open to anyone who wants to read it.  As my mother always says, “Don’t write what you don’t want read.”