Tuesday, December 30, 2008

After reading Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach's tweet today and then Neil Rochelle's blog post I began thinking during this somewhat 'down time' for me with the holidays, about making sure I prioritize what's important: Family, Health, Succeeding at my job.....

I have spent way too much time on the computer I'm sure....if you don't think so, just ask the 'Wonderfully patient' Mrs. Carls!
I want to find the best way to help all the teachers in the school districts I work with and want those answers immediately! Is that wrong?
It is tough, though, to gauge how much to try to show people without going too far - plus, I don't always know exactly how some of these Web 2.0 tools work in a classroom setting. As we try things like Voicethread and even PhotoStory, I live and learn with the teacher & students.

I set some goals back in a previous post for December and didn't quite make it through them all.
Maybe I need to keep it simple again. Build with the teachers who have been willing to accept help. Continue with my social networks like Twitter, Plurk & Ning (especially the Voicethread Ning group) during the day. At home, leave the laptops off and focus more on Wii Bowling and the family. ** Sounds easy, but not always ** Leave work prepared for the rest of the week and enjoy my family.

I hope this works. Thanks all.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Voicethread Ning

Screen capture taken from http://voicethread.ning.com/ using Jing

Well, the one thing I've been most surprised about is how our Voicethread Ning group for educators has taken off lately. Mostly thanks to tweets and plurks this past weekend.

I remember being surprised months ago that Voicethread.com did not have a Wikipedia entry. I even e-mailed them about this and thought of starting one......but, I didn't.

{It still doesn't as of December 23rd, 2008 at 10:10 am}

At the same time I was also searching some Ning sites and began to think......

"Why isn't there a Voicethread Ning Group for Educators?".

The next thing I knew I was creating one at: http://voicethread.ning.com/

I left it open to the public and had a few people join, but didn't do much with it because of more pressing concerns with that little thing I like to call a job (I'm in there somewhere) and the teachers and districts I work with.

A short time later, more people started join the VT Ning group, and after some advice I added some basic groups. I've tried to check in on it from time to time (mostly when I get an e-mail message that someone has left me a comment).

However, I never truly decided what is the best way to organize and run this site,
it has just taken off on it's own, which is what I always wanted. I'm far from a
Voicethread expert, in fact, I'm still searching for something I'm OK at?!?!

Now, however, we are up to 224 members, and you can see some great things being shared, people making connections with others, and some good conversation lgoing on like last night. Wesley Fryer made a post about VT changing the settings for educators free accounts.
Then, before you know it Lee Kolbert leaves a comment and Miguel Guhlin is posting his thoughts as well as referencing his recent blog post about this.
Great insight and information on a topic I completely missed with from Voicethread, however, it is one that will affect the way my teachers use VT!

Here is the link to the Forum post.

Screen capture taken from http://voicethread.ning.com/ using Jing

Thanks to all that have helped with our VT Ning group. I hope it continues to grow. I'm always open to thoughts and ideas on how to make this group better, more interactive and easier for members to get information and/or help.
Thanks to everyone in my PLN that are helping me learn.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Some of my goals

Didn't quite make all of my "Proactive Goals"

1. Make it into 4 more classes to work with students and teachers (I'm thinking 2 new teachers at both schools I help out with on a weekly basis). *Did get into more classes, but still have to improve*

2. Establish one more "Global Connection" with an area teacher and a teacher from another country or state to work on a project. *I thought this might happen with Christmas, but it didn't!*

3. Connect with our Podcasting Project teachers and support/encourage them to make a meaningful podcast before the holidays. *Tim Clarke did this for me, I did talk with both of the teachers who I help in district, however*

4. Build on our Voicethread Ning group and get at least one Christmas Voicethread to share with others. Either with adults, or ideally to help get a teacher to create one with their students for parents. *I did a video of my kids, but not with students. Because of Twitter and Plurk people the Voicethread Ning is taking off and looking good lately!*

5. RELAX. Enjoy my family, get better with pictures (use Flickr more) and video. Get ready to Ustream Christmas, but to also find a great place to house videos (Google Video, YouTube, ..... taking suggestions). *Time will tell here. I do have the Ustream channel ready to go for Christmas and on one of my wikis for relatives and friends to check out....still need to get pictures uploaded, however*

I hope everyone is having a wonderful end of the year and is looking forward to a great holiday season.
Here's a new goal. Post more to this blog.....I have a few things stewing:
  • Top sites of the Year
  • Voicethread Ning for Educators
  • The Power of my PLN
  • Challenge to Oprah (or anyone) to promote useful Web 2.0 that everyone could use, but little know about.
  • SMARTBoards and Prometheans.
We'll see what the new year brings.....

Friday, December 12, 2008

Some good sites from the week.

I haven't done this in a long time (and never here on this blog). I thought I'd share some good sites I've heard about lately. *Most have come from Twitter or Plurk*

Math Resources:
A NYS Algebra Wiki which I found after Theresa Gray (from Erie2BOCES) shared here Math wiki.

The Math Worksheet Site. Maybe a little more for elementary teachers.

Math Vids - Math videos. I did not try this one out much, but others recommended it.

I'm still looking for some good REVIEW resources for High School Math review, however. Especially for the New York State Regents exams. Their is always Regents Prep!

I was working with some great elementary teachers from Franklinville and they shared a few good elementary sites:

StarFall (the only one I had seen before)
Waltke's Web (Actually I lied, after thinking about it, I had a colleague mention this one)
Carl's Corner - They LOVED this one!
Up to Ten - I'm starting to realize why I taught HS Math.....very creative sites.
Spelling City - This one I signed up for an account, you can create you vocab words and then have the kids take a quiz or review from the list of words.
HelpKidzLearn - I need more time in the day.

How about creating and editing photos on-line?
Try SumoPaint. This one seemed like quite a hit Friday on Twitter and on Plurk. Thank you Jamiel Peters for sharing on Twitter.

Looking for on-line converters? Here are 5 of them in this blog post. I personally use Zamzar.

OK, one last one.....what to pick? I've gone over more than I wanted to already.....and no pictures? I need a picture up here as well....OK, no picture this time.

How about Shrink2One? You can take multiple URL links and send all of them via one shortened URL! I tend to use TinyURL to send just one link....why do I need to send more than one? I have no idea, but you know what?
NOW I CAN! Here is a link to 4 Social Networks I belong to and my pages mcarls

Have a great weekend everyone. Leave your own good links from the week.

That makes me think. This idea was brought about after following the incredible Dianne Krause and her blog where she showcases "Look what I found!"

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Highs and Lows

With this job and helping teachers with technology in the classroom, I'm trying to deal with the highs and lows. Everyone I work with at BOCES and in our districts have been INCREDIBLY supportive, don't get me wrong. Maybe it is just me being hard on myself, and always wanting things to work out perfectly, but it happens on a daily basis.
I help someone figure out a hidden property in the SMARTBoard and feel great, then I realize that I never figured out how to use the MiniDV camera! I guess it needs to be Finalized before you can work with the mini DV! Who knew? I hadn't used that type of camera, but I know now.

Photo courtesy of: www.everykilowattcounts.com found from GoogleImages

I guess I put a great deal of pressure to know EVERYTHING about EVERY product on the spot, otherwise I get upset that I let people down. Lately I haven't even turned on my computer at home (unless it is to catch some tunes with the kids). I spend so much time trying to learn everything at work on the computer, that I'm exhausted by the time I get home. Now, that lack of energy could also be because of my less than aggressive workout schedule (mostly my excercise routine only involves Wii Bowling - but, I am a pro!). Maybe it is the time of year, I've heard from others how hard it is to get work done and to even stay awake at home after a long day. Why didn't I try to take that job out in Vegas? Oh yeah, I do truly love this area- even with the snow and cold.

Photo courtesy of: http://larc.hamgate.net/buffalo_snow_7Ft1.jpg found from GoogleImages

OK, I'm rambling. I did set aggressive goals in my last post, then never followed through to check on them. I have done a Voicethread project with another teacher (he set it all up and helped the students record). I helped present at that same school's Board meeting about SMART products. I've Ustreamed The Rick Weinberg at our Tech Coordinator's meeting and also at a local districts' Tech meeting - Rick had educational experts Skype in to talk, very neat.

Things are going great, the holidays are almost here, HEY, I'm still in both districts working as best as I can (and should be on more of a regular schedule with both from now on). I just need to control the ups and downs and level things out a little.

The strong and steady runner is the one who wins the race. All I need to do is try to relax and steadily improve....correct?