Have you looked at Google Docs lately?

Every time I turn around they’ve added a new feature to Google Docs. It’s tough to keep up, I know. I subscribe to the Google Docs Blog, which is quite helpful.

Allow me to bring you up to speed on some of the latest additions/improvements:

Friday, October 9, 2009

Have you seen what they’ve added to the Drawing features in Google since it first came out? You need to take a look! There is so much more flexibility and so many more shapes to pick from. You can also now create your own custom filled shapes.

Picture 4
Image Source: http://4.bp.blogspot.com

Thursday, October 12, 2009

You can now share an entire folder. Apparently this was the most requested new feature. Just put all the documents you want to share into the folder and then share it with your Collaborators.

shared_flderpng
Image Source: http://googledocs.blogspot.com/

Also on this same day, Google announced that you could upload more than one document at a time. I thought this was great. Especially when bringing new teachers into Google Docs. So you want to convert all your science PowerPoints to Google Presentations?? You can now do it all in one batch. Simply click on Upload –> Select files to upload –> Select destination folder –> Start Upload. It’s that simple.

Monday, October 26, 2009

I guess after making it so simple to upload all your documents, Google decided it was time to make it simple to download your documents as well. I was excited when I read about this as I needed to remove some of my older Google Docs, yet wasn’t quite ready to part with them. This option really works for me.

You can now download your Google Docs in MS Office or Open Office Formats or as PDFs (up to 500mb at a time) in a zipped file. Follow these steps:

  1. Select the files you want to download by checking them
  2. Click on More Actions (on the right of the Google Docs screen)
  3. Click on Export
  4. If you are exporting a lot, you can select the option to have Google e-mail you when the export is done. Otherwise, you can just wait and then either Save or Open the Zipped file.

Some other features you may consider checking out:

  • The Equation Editor –> Click on Insert – Equation
  • Language Tools –> Tools – Translate document
  • Formatting –> Insert – Page break

Tech Forum Take Aways

“Technology needs to be like oxygen. Ubiquitous, necessary and invisible.”

Chris Lehmann, Principal, Science Leadership Academy, Philadelphia.

TFNY09 002

Chris was the Keynote Speaker at Tech Forum yesterday in Palisades, NY and set the tone for a fantastic day. The day from my perspective was really all about how to push ourselves and our colleagues for change. The day was not about tools or technology. The technology was in the background.

Building School 2.0: Creating The Schools We Need was the title of Chris’s Keynote presentation. He spoke not about the 1 to 1 laptop initiative in his school, but the driving questions that the teachers used. He spoke about how the teachers worked as a community and that the students ultimately did to. He also stressed the idea that our students learn best when it mattered to them and that they needed to be  engaged and empowered.

As I was listening to Chris speak, looking at the images that he projected, and typing some notes, I also was Tweeting a few things. I opened up a column in Tweetdeck for  #TFNY09 and there were quite a few folks in the room that were also Tweeting. It was great to see what was catching their attention and participating in that backchannel.

Next I went to the Walking the Walk panel discussion with Kim Carter, Mary Moss, Alissa Berger and Chris Lehmann. Each panelist spoke on how they started schools from scratch.  My biggest take-away was when the last panelist, Kim, said “You can’t empower kids if you don’t empower adults. We must have PLCs in schools.” It was good to hear not of assessment and tangible needs.

From there I headed to the Roundtable discussion I was co-hosting. Dana Lawit, Robin Newman and I spoke with a room of about 30 educators on the topic of Social/Academic/Professional networks for students and teachers. We had a Plan A, B and C going in to the room not knowing our participants, but in the end, it turned out that the group really wanted to talk about using social networks with students. Here’s a link to the Google doc we put together.

The last full session of the day for me was Making it Happen: How Our Imaginations Can Give Us The Schools We Want with Patrick Higgins.
He divided the group by the question we chose to answer:

  1. Who are the students you want leaving your classroom every day?
  2. What do you hope they know how to do with what they’ve learned?
  3. What do you hope they care about?

Ultimately, each of the formed groups was challenged to answer the following question:

What does it mean to be well-educated in today’s world?

http://wallwisher.com/wall/techforum09

  • To be flexible and agile
  • Be able to collaborate and communicate with other
  • have a foundation of math and reading literacy along with cultural and global awareness
  • Collaborative. To know certain things, and to be able to find out certain things.
  • To be able to navigate information to create your own knowledge.
  • Have a broad knowledge base, knowing how we learn, adaptable, flexible

This was the best place for me to have ended my day. Patrick defined “literacy” as what you need to know to do the things that matter to you. So simple. Yet such a great definition.

Remember, change begins with you.

Thanks @tombarrett for the “Interesting Ways To Use” Series

I’ve been meaning to collect these awesome Google Presentations all in one place. I actually was talking about it with the group of teachers I was working with yesterday as I shared the Google Docs presentation with them. Then, this morning, I saw this Tweet from a new follower.

brownswordI new immediately what Miss Brownsword was referring to and went right to Tom Barrett’s blog where he had posted all 12 of his Interesting Ways To Use series. I had contributed to a few of them in their early stages, but I was not aware of some of the newer ones, or how lengthy some of them had gotten.

Though you can visit Tom’s blog to see these fabulous resources, you can Google them, find them in my Delicious and Diigo bookmarks, I’ve also decided to list them here. Take a look. Perhaps even contribute. (Thanks, Tom, for setting up these collaborative resources.)

21 Interesting Ways To Use Google Docs in the Classroom

42 Interesting Ways To Use Your Interactive Whiteboard in the Classroom

24 Interesting Ways To Use Google Earth in the Classroom

40 Interesting Ways To Use Your Pocket Video Camera in the Classroom

40 Interesting Ways To Use Wordle in the Classroom

27 Interesting Ways To Use Twitter in the Classroom

10 Interesting Ways To Use a Wiki in the Classroom

13 Interesting Ways To Use a Visualizer in the Classroom

23 Interesting Ways To Use a Nintendo DS in the Classroom

34 Interesting Ways To Use Search Engines in the Classroom

17 Interesting Ways to Use Voicethread in the Classroom

5 Interesting Ways to Use Prezi in the Classroom

I Just Don’t Like Technology

This is how the day started this past Thursday morning. I was about to begin Day 2 of ActivInspire training with a group of elementary school teachers when one of the 18 educators came right out and said “I just don’t like technology.”

DAY – TONE = BROKEN

How did I respond? Well as others in the group chuckled, guffawed and attempted to defend their colleague, I quickly brainstormed some follow-up questions.

  1. Do you not care for using technology in your classroom because you don’t feel comfortable using it?
  2. Do you allow for opportunities for your students to interact with technology in your classroom?
  3. Are you open to seeing how interactive whiteboards (IWB) can help make lessons more engaging for students therefor helping them understand and retain more of the content of your lesson?

Well, in the moments that I was deciding what to ask this teacher who had announced to the entire group that she didn’t like using technology, the group had asked her to expand on what she had said.

Since the elementary teachers were from four different buildings within the same school district, they all didn’t know each other. This particular teacher was an in-class support teacher who “pushed-in” to several different classes who had IWB’s so she was told to come to the training. She shared with the group that she didn’t want to use the IWB, she didn’t use computers, and that she didn’t even want to use a cell phone. Actually, her colleagues from her school shared that this was the case and she had no problem being vocal about it in the building.

SHE IS NOT ALONE

I was reading one of Doug Peterson’s recent posts about how he doesn’t want to be “trained” on a professional development day. He writes about how he wants to be given resources on where to go if he needs more help. He wants to be given examples on how to use the skills and tools with his students. I read this with a bit of confidence as this is how I design my professional development.

THIS IS AN ISSUE OF

CONTINUING EDUCATION

I sat in the doctor’s office for several hours the other morning to wait to see him. I feel he is a good doctor. I go to him because I feel he keeps up with current research and trends in his field. I do not care to see a doctor who is practicing what they learned when they went to medical school. I want them to remain current and to continue to research and learn.

Should we expect the same from educators? In the No Future Left Behind video published by Marianne Malstrom and Peggy Sheehy the students actually say “I can’t create my future with the tools of your past“.  Should teachers be accountable for demonstrating they are effectively using current technologies with our students? I’m interested in your opinion.

New Jersey is “In Tune” With Technology

conflogo2009

Tomorrow, October 13, the NJ Association for Educational Technology (NJAET) will hold it’s 22nd Annual Conference. Their theme this year, “In Tune with Technology” has led to some great session descriptions and I’m really looking forward to networking with the presenters (I’ve listed some of the sessions below).

I have two sessions to present tomorrow; one presentation style and one conversation / hands-on style. I’ve embedded the decks below and I’ll be Tweeting using the hashtag #NJAET09 if you want to follow along with me and anyone else who may be Tweeting from there as well.

“In Tune” with the 21st Century Student

Session Type: Presentation
Presenter: Lisa Thumann
, Sr. Specialist in Technology Education, CMSCE, Rutgers University

We have a framework for teaching students in the 21st Century. We’ve been told to combine skills, content knowledge, expertise and literacies, but how do we, as educators, help students master the multi-dimensional abilities required of them in the 21st Century? Join us in a discussion to learn more about how we can address the needs of our networked students.



“In Tune” with Your Personal Learning Network (PLN)

Session Type: Hands On
Presenter: Lisa Thumann
, Sr. Specialist in Technology Education, CMSCE, Rutgers University

Are you on Twitter or Plurk, have a Diigo or Delicious account set up already – but you are just not sure where to head next? Join us as we tap into the collective intelligence of the group to find information and support our network both online and off. Whether your PLN is overflowing or just starting to grow, this workshop will help you to mine your network to best suit your needs. Bring your big ideas, your hopes and your dreams and be prepared to roll up your sleeves and get to work.

“In Tune” Tech Tips to Create Activities for Community Interaction

Session Type: Presentation
Presenter: Ted Krulikowski
, Director, HELM Education Foundation

Explore ways students can participate in various community service projects using technology as a catalyst. Projects range from senior computing classes to interacting with community organizations and civic committees. Many school/community activities will be discussed and demonstrated.

“In Tune” with Centers from Heaven (K-5)

Session Type: Hands On
Presenter: Carol Cherson
, Thinkfinity Trainer, ETTC-Middlesex

Are you trying to develop centers for your classroom? Do you have at least one computer center?  Then this is the class for you. Using the FREE site, Thinkfinity, you will leave this workshop with interactive sites, lesson plans and ideas. This workshop will help you with every curriculum you teach now and in your future.

“In Tune” with Concept Mapping for the 21st Century Classroom

Session Type: Presentation
Presenter: Alexis K. Morgan
, Teacher/Special Needs Teacher, Camden City School District

From Shakespeare to science, Kidspiration and Inspiration can help students plan, research, collaborate and complete projects successfully. Learn ways to meet the diverse needs of students that allow them to organize and represent complex information in meaningful ways. Participants will also view the many uses of InspireData, an important tool used to develop analytical skills and strengthen critical thinking.

“In Tune” with Creative Expression through Digital Storytelling

Session Type: Hands On
Presenter: Dr. Nancy Sardone
, Assistant Professor of Education, Georgian Court University

Rediscover the art of storytelling using today’s digital tools. Digital storytelling is a tool to promote the development of digital and media literacy as well as the traditional literacies of reading, writing, speaking, and art that are foundational to all content areas. Learn the effective principles of storytelling, how to use (free) Windows-based Photo Story 3 software and digital media production techniques so you can guide students in their own creative expression.

“In Tune” with Digital Storytelling in the Elementary Classroom


Session Type: Presentation
Presenter: Susan Wahling
, ESL Teacher K-6, Westwood Regional School District

Discover Digital Storytelling, an exciting way for students and teachers to create their own stories, combining images, voice, sound effects and music. Especially powerful with ESL students, Digital Storytelling is an immensely creative tool that can be used with students of all ages.

“In Tune” with Lesson Plans that Rock (PK-8)

Session Type: Hands On
Presenter: Carol Cherson
, Thinkfinity Trainer, ETTC-Middlesex

Looking for FREE, innovative and interactive teaching materials aligned to NJ standards? Thinkfinity is a FREE educational resource. Bring your curriculum topics and leave with weeks of activities (paper and interactive) and resources to enhance every aspect of your classroom. Begin that new unit with lessons that rock.

“In Tune” with SMART Boards and Digital Learning

Session Type: Hands On
Presenter: Andrew Grefig
, Instructional Technologist, Tequipment, Inc.

This interactive session will focus on how to create engaging activities with the SMART Notebook software. We will explore how rich media, movement, color, animation, drag and drop activities and immediate feedback can be used to increase student engagement in a variety of subject areas.

“In Tune” with Technology: Media to Teach Reading


Session Type: Presentation
Presenter: Dr. Christine Davis
, Assistant Professor of Education, Georgian Court University

Explore well-designed online resources and streaming video clips of master teachers modeling essential reading skills including phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, comprehension and vocabulary. See the value of using online media materials to personalize and support professional development. Participants will be “in tune” with a wealth of technology-based teacher development resources to teach reading.

“In Tune” with the Fundamentals of Wikis, Blogs and Podcasts

Session Type: Hands On
Presenter: Ryan Evans
, Technology Teacher, Wanaque Borough Public Schools

The array of wiki farms, blogware and podcasting software can often appear intimidating and overwhelming. Take an analytical journey in the creation of wikis, blogs and podcasts. The focus will be on evaluating the major hosts and software, getting started (creating, designing and maintaining), adding users or inviting members, concerns about security and privacy, and practical applications for the classroom.

Get “In Tune” with Music Videos


Session Type: Hands On
Presenter: Heather Sullivan
, Technology Facilitator, Freehold Regional HSD

Animoto is a FREE web tool that helps you (and your students) make music videos in just a few simple steps. Discover how you can use this awesome and EASY tool in your classroom.

Google Sketchup: “In Tune” with Math

Session Type: Hands On
Presenter: Carla Hockenbury
, Computer Facilitator, Wm. Davies School

This is your chance for an opportunity to explore the basics of Google SketchUp and how it can be applied in your classroom. The program is especially “in tune” with math but also can be used in other subject areas. Google SketchUp is a free download from Google, which can be used alone or with Google Earth and the 3D Warehouse.

Revisiting Your Blogroll

I actually blogged about this last summer after Building Learning Communities 2008 (BLC08). But it’s something that has resurfaced with me. I find myself reading a lot of new blogs (or at least new to me) lately and checking out many blogrolls. So the questions that come to mind are:

  1. Does the blogger really read all of these blogs?
  2. When is the last time they updated their blogroll?
  3. Why has this blogger included these particular blogs in his/her list?

Let me explain.

Does the blogger really read all of these blogs?
Some blogrolls are pretty extensive. I wonder if bloggers don’t want to hurt anyone’s feeling by not including them. Possibly they are trying to fill up real estate on their page. Perhaps even they really subscribe to all those blogs in their reader. There are several bloggers out there that have different blogrolls. Scott McLeod has a list just for “Blogs That Deserve A Bigger Audience”. Liz Davis has a list just for “Technology Blogroll”. Some even have lists for their student blogs like Wesley Fryer.

When is the last time they updated their blogroll?blogroll
I am very curious when I look at someone’s blogroll who links to a particular blogger frequently and yet doesn’t list them. It makes me wonder if their “roll” is neglected. It is a separate section of a blog, so I understand that when one goes to post, you wouldn’t exactly think to update it. It’s time consuming to make sure that the title of the blog and the URL are entered correctly and that you have in the list those blogs you want. But your subscribers and visitors are counting on you.

Why has this blogger included these particular blogs in his/her list?
This takes me back to Educon 2.1 this past January. Liz Davis and I ran a session on Equity Issues in the Blogosphere. Some mistook our equity to mean gender equity, but if you look at the session recording, it was far from it. Bud Hunt made a great suggestion the evening before the session to change the title to “Equity in Your Blogosphere” – which made all the difference. Who do you read? Are you reading from all different points of view? Classroom teachers, administrators, people of color and different nationalities, both genders, math teachers, language teachers, high school teachers? I could go on with the list. Do you have a diverse blogroll? Are you getting more than just one point of view?

So, I have revisited my blogroll. I prefer to keep mine kind of on the short side. But these are blogs that I subscribe to. There are others that I read through Tweets and other recommendations. I’m sure I’ll revisit it again soon. Hopefully it won’t take me another year.

Preparations for an Online Social Networking Safety Seminar

I agree with Chad Lehman’s post earlier this week that it’s helpful to be able to connect with the author of an article or blog post. Chad was nice enough to include me with the list of bloggers from Tech&Learning where I recently starting blogging every couple of weeks. As many of our PLNs have grown exponentially, I have truly benefited from the face-to-face connections that I have made as a result of  connections first initiated via Twitter or Diigo. Actually, I remember meeting up with Chad (@imcguy) in Second Life via a Tweet of his many, many months ago.

I decided a while back to use the “Lists” feature in Diigo to gather resources for a seminar that is tonight. The Online Social Networking Safety Seminar is being held at one of the local YMCA’s near me. I knew that many in my PLN had spoken on the topic before, so as I added resources to my list, I also began reading what they had posted on the topic. Here is some of what I found:

Jeff Utecht who blogs at TheThinkingStick had already prepared a workshop for parents and posted the information to his blog. I really liked the questions he suggested that parents ask their children.

  1. What do you think this pictures says about you?
  2. Do you know all (number of friends) of your ‘friends’?
  3. Can you trust everyone on your ‘friends’ list not to download that picture?
  4. What does that update say about you as a person?
  5. Is that who you want to be known as?

BJ Fogg who runs FacebookForParents.org also had a nice list of suggestions. BJ’s list was about signing up for Facebook. I’ll also be sharing this in the seminar tonight.

  1. Join Facebook.
  2. “Friend” your kids.
  3. Review your kids’ profile pages.
  4. Review who is “friends” with your kids.
  5. Select “More About” for your kids.

Dean Shareski who blogs at IdeasandThoughts.org has passionately posted on the topic many times. His posts led me to some extremely relevant research. It’s worth a read (Dean’s posts and the research).

If you are friends with me on Facebook, you might remember the day when I was looking for videos. I’ll be sharing three during the seminar. One is just for fun. You might be able to guess which one :)

  1. Social Media Revolution
  2. Facebook Manners and You
  3. The Facebook Song

Lastly, here’s my presentation. I tried to predict what folks might ask. There’s seating for 300. It’s bring-your-own-laptop. I was told to expect approximately 40 parents. I don’t really know what to expect. I’m sure I could have prepared differently, more, better, etc. But I thought I would share it with you.