Category Archives: Uncategorized

Explore Online Content with InstaGrok

This is reblogged from my post on FreeTech4Teachers.

One of the most challenging things to tackle in education today is the glut of information that is available to students right in their pocket! With a few swipes, students can come up with thousands of resources; however, evaluating all of those sources serves as a challenge for students. Enter, instaGrok. InstaGrok is a search engine that brings together information in the form of an interactive mind-map, including text, videos, and more. It is available for free online, iOS App, and Android App.

After entering a query, instaGrok creates an interactive mind-map on the topic including multiple sources. Each node… [read the complete article on FreeTech4Teachers].

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Tip of the Week: Google adds Templates, Voice, and Explore

Some great information here. I can’t wait to try out a few of these features!

History Tech

I’ve always been a fan of the goodness that is Google. And I like when all of a sudden my GAFE tools have extra features.

For some of you, this all may not seem like a big deal. But recent small changes by Google in their online tools have made my life just a little bit easier. For those of you in GAFE schools or whose students use Google, these changes can also impact how you both interact with content and data.

The first change is 

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50+ interactive sites for social studies

There are some real gems here!

History Tech

Karen Ogen gets the credit for creating an easy to use, visually appealing list of interactive sites aligned by content area. Larry Felazzo gets the credit for sharing Karen’s work. You get the credit for using the list with your kids.

Pretty simple.

Head over to Larry’s site to get Karen’s link and be sure check out some of Larry’s other interactive site links.

Still not enough? Try some of these:

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Heading to ISTE 2015!

First of all, I apologize for my prolonged absence. I have had a number of projects that I’ve been juggling in the background; one of which included the acquisition of a new home. Therefore, my time has been filled with trips to Home Depot, finishing out the school year, and packing up boxes. I’ve also been working on some exciting projects with EdTechTeacher, Miami Device, and of course my home institution, Ransom Everglades. I cannot wait to share these with you.

On Sunday, I head out to Philadelphia to attend the 2015 ISTE conference. ISTE, while overwhelming, is an amazing place to network with like minded educators, administrators, and educational professionals. This year, I am honored to taking on a new role with the Independent School Educator’s Network, serving as Chair-Elect for 2015-2016. This community has been such an asset to me for my professional growth.

I’m also excited to attend various sessions on Professional Development, Digital Portfolios, Flipped Learning, and more. I always come back from ISTE feeling energized and excited about the future of technology in our schools.

If you are interested in attending ISTE 2015 in Philadelphia, then be sure to sign up for a late registration here. If you don’t have the money or the time to attend physically, they offer a virtual ticket as well. You can register for ISTE Live. If you are at this years conference, be sure to say hello! I will try to blog my reflections on the conference here; but I often get lost in events and social activities. I will also be tweeting @TeacherJenCarey.

The Power of Screen Time! Reading, Writing, & Devices

The next session I’m attending is “The Power of Screen Time! Reading, Writing, & Devices” by Beth Holland. I’m excited for this presentation because I helped Beth edit and revise her Edutopia piece, “The 4Ss of Notetaking with Technology.”

There is a common theme in research, articles, and newspapers on “devices” being bad for “x activity.” However, as Beth says, it’s not the device! It’s what we or are students are doing. She also said that we’re not going to talk about “going paperless” because, as Shawn McCusker says, “Paperless is a bureaucratic preference, not a learning objective!” This is how we justify costs to our bureaucrats.

Beth now tells us her story (telling your story is a theme today). When she was a college student, she was trying to write a paper on a Mac. Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 9.41.26 AMHowever, the Mac wasn’t cooperating with her and she wasn’t getting her assignment done. However, in the bathroom, she came across a roll of paper towels. She then rolled it out and used it to write out her work. It was the right tool for her at the right time.

So the technology that she had to build her project (paper towels and markers), but had to complete the process in the Mac. The moral behind this is that we are not going to put our technology on a pedestal. So many people claim that the tools are “interactive,” but it’s really electronic whac-a-mole. It has no objective.

Beth says that we need to focus on process vs. product. She shows us a clip from the film Finding Forrester

So what part of that scene was writing? The punching of the keys or the process of getting content out of your brain and onto the paper.

Start thinking about the process of writing! Let’s start with

Writing 1.0

Students organize and draft on paper, submit it to the teacher, the teacher annotates the paper, then students get it back and may or may not keep that paper. This is a straight forward and one dimensional process.

Writing 2.0

Writing went digital! Students can draft digitally. You can even draft in a non-linear pattern, using mind-mapping tools, create a storyboard, etc. Students and teachers can collaborate and incorporate tools. You can use multimodal feedback (audio, video, etc). The final product can even be shared or published!

Writing 3.0

Now we have a mobile devices. Beth asks us, who writes on their smart phone? The small screen is problematic as we have to slow down. However, we have this everywhere. Students can organize and draft (using multi-model tools) from anywhere. Students and teachers can then collaborate and incorporate multimodal feedback across devices. The final product can be shared, published, or modified. Beth likes to use Penultimate to draft both physically and electronically. She then shares it with Evernote and then puts it in Google Drive to share and collaborate (sometimes with me).

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 9.49.30 AMIn addition to typing, she can talk into the device. For students with learning differences, you can speak into the tool. This is also a great way to get students to think about formation of words and sentences; like with formal poetry.

Because students all have devices, we have a ubiquitous opportunity of screens. We can see what our students are doing outside of the classroom. It doesn’t matter what the tool is, it’s that we’re starting to bring up this opportunity.

Beth now references this famous New York Times Piece, “Is E-Reading to your toddler story time, or simply screen time?” They argued:

“Parents and children using an electronic device spent more time focusing on the device itself than on the story.”

What does this mean about impact on childhood literacy? Beth argues that when we’re talking about eReading, we need to look at the behavior of reading. So “what could reading look like?” In the New York Times, what they argued was that the value of reading should look like this:

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 9.54.53 AMSo if we’re looking at multi-media eBooks, the issue isn’t the device, it’s the behavior. Perhaps not look at multi-media eBooks as a “book” but as something else. Students can read a text on a digitized device. So think about how students are reading, not the device. Start to bring together the digital and the analogue.

Beth now highlights TodaysMeet, a tool for backchanneling. This a tool that allows students to collaborate behind the scenes. In a class where students were reading about the Holocaust, the teacher asked students write down questions as they popped up in the reading on the Today’s Meet.

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By setting up the Today’s Meet, he got input from students who were normally silent during class. He gave students a voice, even in a quiet room. Using the screen in a meaningful and powerful way. These tools can give students a voice and extend the experience to outside of the classroom. These are not possible without paper.

Asymmetric Impact

When thinking about screens and process, realize that it’s not the same thing with every person and every child. Start thinking about different students and their individual needs. You may have a student that needs to look up every word in a story. With a built in dictionary, you can “tap Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 10.05.24 AMand know” (Shawn McCusker). You can even manage dictionaries. On a web browser, you can clean up the view and remove the ads or increase the font size. You can also “find” on the screen to look up the information that you’re looking for on a page. So if you want the population of Liberia in 2010, you can go to the website and search using “find” for the population. This allows students to focus their reading. Students can even look up words in context. Technology allows for differentiation at a higher level. Anything that is text can be heard by students. This is a great way to improve learning outcomes for younger students that are struggling with literacy.

Pen or Keyboard?

There was a prominent article called “The Pen is Mightier than the Keyboard.” After having students listen to a lecture-based class and take notes via hand and keyboard. After the lecture, students took a test and they found that those with handwritten notes did better. However, they did not do an assessment later. What would have happened if students were assessed at a later date? Is it the keyboard’s fault or another example of the right tool for the write task? This is similar to the debate over quill pens and ink pens.

Beth highlights the fact that we have a lot of choice and variety. The reality is that it depends on the student, learning style, and task. Beth references her article in Edutopia (link at the top). Digitized notes allow you to save, archive, curate, and reference it easily later (via search tools). How often have we had a student put their English notes in their Science notebook? If that student could search his notes would that help him? Would that facilitate that asymmetric impact? We need to empower our learners. Can you save, search, and share your work?

Beth finishes up with the point that we need to find balance with using screens. There is a book called Screen Time by Lisa Guernsey. She argues that it’s about balance. Do we want kids watching 5 hours of Scoobie Doo every day? Probably not. However, it’s balance. The questions you should ask are: is it appropriate, meaningful, and empowering?



Educators to Follow on Twitter this Year!

It’s already time to set up your classes and start planning lessons. If you are looking for some good ideas, check out these great teachers on Twitter! This list is by no means exhaustive. Just some great educators that inspire me every day!


@Sarahdateechur – Sarah Thomas serves as a teacher and technology liaison at the John Hanson French Immersion School in Maryland.

@JediKermit – Quinn Rollins is a Social Studies teacher in Salt Lake City, Utah. He is a brilliant LEGO enthusiast!

@KVroomEDU – Kelsey is the Director of Educational Technology at the Urban School in San Francisco, California. She is an emerging ISTE Leader and a superstar in the Independent School World.

@DigitalTeacher – Cheryl Davis regularly posts tools related to Apple and Google.

@iamDrWill – Will Deyamport wrote his dissertation on using Twitter for Professional Development! So, he is the literal expert on the topic!

@DevorahHeitner – Devorah is one of the best resources out there on Digital Citizenship and navigating a world of Digital Natives.

@DrTonyWagner – Wagner’s groundbreaking work “Creating Innovators” has been the talk of education. He regularly tweets out articles and thoughts on “breaking” education.

@TheTechRabbi – Talk about an avid online learner. The Tech Rabbi is one of the few educators I know who devours technology literature faster than I do!

@AmyBurvall – Amy is a History Teacher and maker of creative music videos.

@THEJLV – Jose Vilson is a math teacher and education advocate. His posts have made me think more about disparity in education than any other.

@TomWhitby – Tom is a veteran teacher of more than 34 years and regular contributor to Edutopia as well as founder of #edchat.

@iPadWells – I met Richard Wells at an iPad Summit. His work in New Zealand with iPads and Social Media is inspiring!

@ShawnMcCusker – A Social Studies Teacher and Tech Director in Illinois, you will learn something new form Shawn every day!

@MossPike – Moss Pike is an inspiration education technology enthusiast. You will learn about tablets, google, MOOCs, social media, and more on his posts!