Well, the Edufest conference finished up swimmingly (and I did manage to get a smidge of “swimming” in via a float down the Boise River one day - squeezed in-between presenting and dinner). Here are a few highlights of what I learned the last three days of Edufest that might be of interest/use for any of you:
iTunes University - Did you know that universities are now recording professors’ lectures and making them available for anyone to learn from? Want to learn about computer programming from an MIT professor? Want to listen in on a class at Oxford? You can do it via iTunes University!
Online Stopwatch - Want to give your students a visual reminder of how much time is left? Online Stopwatch counts up or down and the displayed numbers are large enough to be easily seen from a computer in the room (better yet, project it onto a big screen or wall if you are so equipped).
SchoolTube - Do your students want to post their video projects on YouTube but your district blocks the site or you’re worried about the too-open-for-school-ness that is YouTube? Try SchoolTube, the school-friendly version of video posting.
Have a kid who wants to learn about programming and making/designing computer games? Scratch is a great place to get started. Created by the “Lifelong Kindergarten” group [isn’t that a great name‽] at the MIT Media Lab, Scratch is a free download and once it’s downloaded, the computer doesn’t have to be online for the program to work.
Do your students email their homework to you? Inbox getting clogged up? Try Drop.io where you can create a free online drop box (up to 100MB) that your students can drop their digital homework into and you can retrieve it from. Keep even more organized by creating a separate box for each class period. (Also great for sharing large files with people other than your students, too, of course.)
Concerned that your students don’t know the best ways to search on the internet? Google has little posters with search strategies that you can print out and hang in your classroom.
Looking for a pseudo-website to help teach your students that not everything on the web is valid and reliable? Show them this page about the (supposed) Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus and see if they bite.
Want to learn about more items like these? Poke around at this website created by the presenter for the technology strand where I learned these ideas (the presenter was Brian Housand). At Brian’s Edufest page, click on any Day or click on “60 in 60" for additional ideas.
In addition to all of the above snazzy links that I’m excited to share with my students, I also spent a great deal of time learning about strategies for helping the teachers in my district implement differentiation in their instruction. This fall, as a matter of fact, I’ll be running a year-long study group for any interested teachers from my district and the focus will be helping them learn various DI strategies and supporting them throughout the year as they begin the process of implementing them. (But more on that later! I should do a whole post about the study group and what I’m doing with them this fall when I have it up and running.)
And last but not least, I learned about survey creation software. Actually, Brian taught us about the Forms option at Google Docs, which creates surveys and then people can access your survey via the internet and you can collect the results/data in your Google account. It occurred to me that, hey, that would be a great way to gain some information/ideas from my blog readers! But the Forms option at Google Docs didn’t have a feature I wanted (being able to post real-time results publicly so that all of you can see the results, too). So I hunted around on the internet, checked out 45 different online survey creation sites, and chose one (Advanced Survey) to use to create a little survey for y’all to fill out. (If you don’t mind... :o) It’s anonymous and I’m not tracking or gathering any traceable info via this survey. It’s just that I’ve been curious... I know there are a lot of people out there who read, but I don’t know much about my audience (except those who post comments). Are you mostly teachers? Mostly parents of gifted kids? Mostly people in the GT field? Do any administrators come here to read about Gifted Education issues? Who are you, quietly lurking out there???
Please take a moment and answer the five easy questions in my survey. I will post a link in the Comments section here so that you can come back and see the real-time results of the survey if you’d like.
Here’s what you do:
1. Go to Advanced Survey
2. Type my survey # into the little “Take a Survey” box on the right side of the page. Survey # is 69305.
3. Click “Go” and answer the five easy questions. (*Thank you!!!*)
4. If you want to see the real-time results, check below in the comments section for the link to view them. (The Advanced Survey system should also let you view them right away after completing the survey.)
I didn’t set an end-date on the survey, so anyone finding this post a year from now could still (in theory - if everything works as it should) be able to fill out the survey and/or see the results.
Have a great week, everyone!
The opinions expressed in Unwrapping the Gifted are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.