Tuesday, October 29, 2013

New Grant opportunities

The link to the STEM camps and competition grant application is finally available on our website. Please pass on this information to students, parents and teachers so they can apply for available funds. We would love to help as many students as possible as they prepare for their projects.

The link can be found at the following website http://business.utah.gov/programs/STEM/.  Applicants need to click on the link labeled “ STEM Camps and Competitions Application.”

If you need additional information contact:

The STEM Action Center

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Raptor Biology Through the Seasons: Fall Migration, Winter Survival, and Spring Nesting Outreach Program
(9-12 Biology classes in public and charter schools) This is a FREE program provided with State iSEE RFP funds. 
This outreach program makes use of HWI’s 30 plus years of raptor migration data, scientific research, and our live education raptors to discuss topics including migration, evolution, adaptations, the food chain, predator-prey relationships, data interpretation, understanding different kinds of data, natural selection, the life cycle of raptors, and the use of field guides and dichotomous keys to align with the Utah Core Standards. The program includes a hands-on data element, utilizing real HWI data gathered from our Goshute Mountains raptor migration research site. The use of “live” data encourages critical thinking about what data tell us. Examples include comparing both numerical and categorical data to evaluate correlation, relativity, and comparison of variables to make inferences.

We will be providing programs north of Provo along the Wasatch front including Provo, Alpine, Wasatch, Canyons, Jordan, Murray, Canyons, Granite, Park City, North and South Summit, Morgan, Salt Lake, Davis, Ogden, Weber, Cache, Logan, Rich, Box Elder, and Tooele for this school year.  

We are planning a specific visit for outreach to St. George January 23 – February 6, 2014 and would like to set up visits with high schools in that vicinity during that time period.
Contact Nikki Wayment at nwayment@hawkwatch.org to schedule a FREE program for your Biology classes.
HawkWatch International is a non-profit scientific conservation organization whose mission is to conserve the environment through education, long-term monitoring, and scientific research on raptors as indicators of ecosystem health.  The Education Department at HawkWatch International (HWI) works to inspire the public’s passion for raptors, translating that passion into increased appreciation of and participation in conservation and science.  The purpose of our education programs is to help build a more environmentally literate general public that understands the responsibilities we have to wildlife and the environment we share, and understand the challenges humans face in protecting and conserving the environment to sustain a healthy ecosystem for all living creatures for future generations. Our school-based education programs work to address the science and math gaps among students, and assist teachers in providing tools that inspire passion for learning these topics through real
world examples and career opportunities.
Please share this opportunity with educators who have Biology courses in your community.  If you have questions about Hawkwatch or this specific program, please contact  

Nikki Wayment ‎[nwayment@hawkwatch.org]‎. If you have questions about iSEE programs please visit the website: www.iSEEUtah.org for more information about our current iSEE institutions.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

More science stuff

Science Community Opportunities
October 16, 2013

Here are more great opportunities for our community! Check out the experiences below to become more engaged in the science community around us:
·         Outstanding Educator Award
·         REFUGES Part-Time Job Opportunity
·         Tundra Connections
·         Hour of Code
·         U-S2TEM Scholars Program
·         Engineering is Elementary Scholarship
·         Engineering Day
·         Botany Bins Teacher Resource Kit and Workshop
·         Water Education Workshop
·         Innovation Studio: Design Thinking & 21st Century Learning
·         Salt Lake Valley Science and Engineering Fair: Call for Volunteers
·         Free Posters
·         Goings on at the Department of Physics and Astronomy

Scroll down for details.
PLT Outstanding Educator Award
What: USEE’s recognition for educators’ efforts and commitment to environmental education
The deadline for submissions is October 18th
Notes: Nominees must be trained in PLT, anyone can nominate an educator, and self-nomination is encouraged
Contact: Charice Bourdeaux, charice@usee.org

The Utah Society for Environmental Education (USEE) is calling for nominations for their PLT Outstanding Educator Award. All Outstanding Educator Honorees will receive an invitation to the Annual Environmental Educator Conference, recognition at the conference luncheon, certificate, and feature on the USEE website. Utah Outstanding Educators will receive paid registration to the conference, recognition at the luncheon, an award, nomination to the National PLT’s Outstanding Educator Award, and a feature in the USEE e-newsletter and website.

REFUGES Employment Opportunity
What: Part-time employment
Where: REFUGES (Refugees Exploring the Foundations of Undergraduate Education in Science
Recommendation: Background as a math or science teacher a plus

REFUGES (Refugees Exploring the Foundations of Undergraduate Education in Science) is looking for a licensed teacher to serve as the Program Supervisor and liaison between our program and 5 area high schools. The REFUGES program supports science and math workshops, homework help and tutoring in afterschool programs for Sudanese Youth in Action (SYA), Transitions for Refugee Youth (TRY), the Utah international Charter school, and Horizonte Instruction and Training Center.  We would like to develop our collaborations so that we can positively impact high school graduation rates and student success.

The position is part time, 10 hours per week, pays $35/hour, and includes partial benefits from the University of Utah. Interested candidates may apply at https://utah.peopleadmin.com/postings/27551.

Job Title:  Associate Instructor - Hourly
Job Posting Number: PRN02709N
Department:  01400 - Center for Science& Math Educ

Tundra Connections
What: Polar Bear International presents a free webcast series during the peak of polar bear migration
Webcasts begin Wednesday, October 23
See the attached PDF
Free registration at http://surveymonkey.com/s/tcregistrationfall2013

Hour of Code
What: A one-hour intro to CS presented by Computer Science Education Week
December 9-15, 2013
Where: In the classroom
Registration: Deadline to register is October 31
Share this with everyone in your school!
Prizes for EVERY Educator!
Every educator who hosts an Hour of Code will get a gift of 10GB of free DropBox storage. And I will personally donate a full class-set of laptops to one school in every state that hosts an Hour of Code for all its grades. Just register your school’s participation by Nov. 1 to qualify. http://csedweek.org/
To celebrate Computer Science Education Week (Dec. 9-15), Code.org and dozens of supporting partners are organizing the largest initiative of its kind: a campaign to get 10 million students of all ages to try computer science for one hour. I’m writing to ask your help.

What is the Hour of Code? No experience needed
It’s a one-hour intro to CS -- on a browser, smartphone, or unplugged. We expect teachers from all disciplines to host it in classrooms, and we’ll provide tutorials that require no prior experience. We’ll announce an amazing list of partners over the coming weeks, but we need your help.

Recruit your entire school to participate
Most students are intimidated by CS; this campaign is a chance to inspire them to try. Please recruit your principal and other teachers to get involved. Share this brochure, or this homemade how-to video. Or get creative and define your own “Hour of Code” activities.
More information see "Hour of Code" website: http://csedweek.org/
Please, start planning now and help make a difference.

U-S2TEM Scholars Program
What: STEM scholar program
Where: University of Utah
Priority application due by November 1st; however, the program will except applicants up to February 1st
Website: http://csme.utah.edu/s2stem-scholarships-for-sustainability-in-stem/

Our program provides a truly interdisciplinary experience with scholarship funds, cohort activities, mentoring and research opportunities, and an amazing opportunity to become part of the Honors College (including housing benefits).  We're looking for academically talented, yet financially challenged students.  The priority application date is Nov. 1 (highly recommended) but we will take applicants up to Feb. 1.

Engineering is Elementary Scholarships
What: Raytheon-EiE Teacher Scholarships
See Attached PDF
Deadline is November 1

Engineering Day
What: The University of Utah celebrates Engineering Day
Saturday, November 9th from 9:00 AM to 12:30 PM
Where: Warnock Engineering Building at the University of Utah
See attached PDF
Registration opens Oct. 15th, and space is limited
Contact: Morgan Boyack, morgan.boyack@utah.edu

For your information, students who attend will have the opportunity to visit with academic advisors, see student research projects and tour three different engineering labs.  Please target students that are interested in Engineering, Math, Science and are interested in designing creative solutions to new technologies.  Please pass along this information to all math and science teachers.   Registration opens Oct. 15th and space is limited.  For more detailed information please visitCoe.utah.edu/eng_day.

Botany Bins Teacher Resource Kit and Workshop
What: Red Butte Gardens’ first module of the Botany Bins Program launches with a workshop
Saturday, November 16th at 1:30 PM to 3:00 PM
Where: Red Butte Gardens
Recommendation: This will focus on a module titled “Ethnobotony: People and Plants”
See attached PDF
Contact: Email Sara Sorensen, education@redbutte.utah.edu

Water Education Workshop
What: “Water Energy in Action,” a teacher workshop for 4th-12th grade Utah educators
Tuesday, November 19
Where: Hogle Zoo, 2600 Sunnyside Avenue, Salt Lake City, UT 84108
Recommendation: Participants will be eligible to receive a free Water Energy in Action kit and instructional binder, substitute stipend, and travel/hotel stipend
See attached PDF
The workshop is limited to 60 participants
Contact: Janet Hatch, janet@nef1.org

Innovation Studio: Design Thinking & 21st Century Learning
What: A two-day workshop for teachers in grades 6-12 classrooms
January 23-24, 2014
Where: The Utah museum of Natural History
See attached PDFs for registration form and brochure
Early registration ends on November 30, 2013, Try to apply as a team (2-3 members)
Contact: Dr. Christelle Estrada & the Utah Design Team, Christelle.estrada@schools.utah.gov

Salt Lake Valley Science and Engineering Fair: Call for Volunteers
What: Salt Lake Valley Science and Engineering Fair Judges
March 18-20, 2014
Where: Rice Eccles Stadium, University of Utah
Notes: You don’t have to attend the full three days to be a judge, you can decide which categories fit you best and volunteer for them.
http://slvsef.org/judges/register, Please try to register by early March
Contact: Jody Oostema, jody@slvsef.org

It’s that time of year again!  The Salt Lake Valley Science and Engineering Fair (SLVSEF) would like to ask you once again to volunteer your time and share your expertise with some of the brightest, young scientists and engineers from Salt Lake, Tooele and Park City!

SLVSEF 2014 will be held at Rice Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah on March 18-20, 2014.  (*Please note this is not only a week earlier than normal due to an early spring break for three of the six participating school districts, but judging for the fair will be held this year on Tuesday through Thursday!) Elementary students in grades 5 and 6 will set up their projects for a judge preview on Tuesday, March 18th and be judged on the morning of Wednesday, March 19th.  Secondary students in grades 7 through 12 will set up their projects for a judge preview on Wednesday, March 19th and participate in judging on Thursday, March 20th.  The Awards Ceremony will be held on Friday, March 21st.

You can register now for SLVSEF at http://slvsef.org/judges/register  Since the fair will be split into two days, you will have the option to volunteer as an elementary division judge on Wednesday, March 19thor as a secondary division judge on Thursday, March 20th If you’re really enthusiastic about science fair you can, of course, do both!  

The online registration is for Category Judges ONLY.  If you have participated as a Special Awards Judge in the past, you will be contacted by Whitney Heileson-Knight or Polly Creveling, SLVSEF’s Special Awards Coordinators and Interns! 
2013 SLVSEF had 581 projects and we expect to have over 600 projects at the 2014 SLVSEF.  Please pass this email along to friends, co-workers and colleagues who may be interested in volunteering as a judge. And don’t forget to tell them how much fun it is! 

Free Posters
What: Free posters from the Sports ‘n Science program
Where: University of Utah’s Center for Science and Mathematics Education
Fill out an online form to request a poster or visit the CSME table at the UEA conferenct

The Sports ‘n Science program at the University of Utah’s Center for Science and Mathematics Education (CSME) is offering FREE posters for your classroom!
Sports ‘n Science is a collaborative effort between the CSME and the University of Utah Athletics Department. Through outreach programs and educational offerings, Sports ‘n Science attracts students to science and math careers while building bridges between sports and science.
Each year, Sports ‘n Science creates posters that depict the science behind the sport.  Posters are 11"x17" and are available for free to K-12 schools and teachers. Each poster has a link to an online feedback survey; students and teachers are encouraged to complete the survey for a chance to win a prize drawing.
Poster quantities are limited. For more information or to request posters for your classroom, school, or after school club, visit http://sportsnscience.utah.edu/posters/ or stop by the CSME table at the UEA conference at the South Towne Expo Center, October 17-18, 2013.
The CSME offers many programs that link the University of Utah to the community.  To learn more, visit csme.utah.edu or sign up for our monthly e-newsletter by emailing outreach@csme.utah.edu

Goings on at the Department of Physics and Astronomy
What: Information galore
Where: The Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Utah
See the attached folder for program brochures and information
Contact:  Lynn Higgs, higgs@physics.utah.edu

Attached is some information indicating the incredible things going on in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Utah. Please bring it to the attention of your students and have those interested contact Lynn Higgs directly <higgs@physics.utah.edu>.

Please note:  These are opportunities that have been requested to be shared with the Utah science teacher community.  The Utah State Office of Education has not specifically vetted or endorsed the programs shared.  Any concerns or questions should be directed at the organizations associated specifically with the event.


Hour of Code

I got this email from Code.org:
Yesterday, we announced the Hour of Code: a movement to recruit 10 million students of all ages to try computer science for one hour. This will be the largest initiative of its kind, ever.
Backed by Microsoft, Google, Apple, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, the Boys & Girls Clubs, and over 100 other partners, we want to bring computer science to every child, in every school, during Computer Science Education Week (Dec. 9-15).
Welcome to the 21st Century
Computer science is foundational for all students today. Yet 90% of schools don’t teach it. Fewer kids learn to program than 10 years ago.
What’s an Hour of Code?
It’s an introduction to computer science designed to demystify code and show that anyone can learn the basics. We’ll provide hour-long tutorials featuring Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Angry Birds, and Plants vs. Zombies -- for your computer, tablet, or smartphone.
How can you help?
1) Ask your local school to participate - share this handout and video with your teacher.
2) Participate yourself (or with your child). Set aside one hour to learn, during Dec. 9-15.
3) Ask your employer to schedule a 1-hour team-building event to learn together.
4) Get together a local group in your community. Or host an Hour of Code "block party."
No experience needed
We owe it to today’s students to start with one hour. Let’s make history.
Please get started now at http://hourofcode.com
- Hadi Partovi, founder, Code.org

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Educational Bloggers challenge

Web Address: http://teacherchallenge.edublogs.org/2013/10/15/week-1/

The above link shows a great idea for using classroom blogs with students or starting a personal education blog.  So take a look at the rules and try out your own blog.  Need a place to try out this blogging stuff.  Here's a few
  1. my.uen - There's a great blogging tool as part of your my.uen.  You can also get help on the blogging tool.
  2. edublogs - A Word Press powered blogging platform for educators.
  3. edutecher - A platform for blogging and a variety of other educational sharing tools.
  4. edmodo - More like facebook for teachers than a blog, it allows you to post items and allow students to comment on them.  Still a great potential resource for interacting safely with students.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Bookmarking Tools

There are some great tools for online bookmarking.  Try one of these out:
  1. my.uen - has a bookmarking tool where you can save your favorite websites and then publish them on your public page if you choose
  2. diigo - social bookmarking and highlighting
  3. delicious - social bookmarking and sharing
  4. symbaloo - visual bookmarking. There is also a special edu version http://www.symbalooedu.com
  5. google.com/bookmarks - Chrome keeps your bookmarks in sync across devices, but Google Bookmarks allows you to access them on whatever browser you are on and also allows you to share them.
  6. Pinterest - Visual bookmarking and can be unsafe for work but there are some great education Pin Boards too.
  7. Pearltrees - Another visual bookmarking and mind mapping tool
Where are you saving bookmarks and sharing bookmarks?

Friday, October 4, 2013


Rounding and estimating are two very important skills in our day when exact numbers are easy to get with calculators and computers but we still need to know if the numbers on the calculator make sense. Check out this video helping people learn to round:

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Math Practice

With almost any gadget you happen to pick up equipped with a calculator math facts may seem less of a priority, but for calculators to be meaningful it is necessary to have some sense of whether the answers that show up on the calculator make sense.  So instead of just one site with resources here's a list of a few sites that can help practice math facts.
  • http://www.math-drills.com/ This site has limited numbers of worksheets in each area , but there are a wide array different topics all aligned  to grade levels.
  • http://www.mathfactcafe.com/home/ This site is a great resource because it can randomly generate a variety of worksheets and their answer sheets.
  • http://www.mathworksheetsland.com/ Another site that has a good array of content in both grade levels and topics
  • http://xtramath.org/ is the last one and is not a worksheet generator but a way of allow students to practice math facts at home while parents and teachers get feedback.
So learn some math.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Talk Moves

The video above stood out to me for two reasons. The first being the excellent techniques for encouraging and yet managing discussion in the classroom.  We need better dialogue but also more polite and civil conversations.  The techniques you can see in the video do a lot to encourage that. The second item that is worth consideration is the use of silent signals.  The idea of silent signals is a great one and one that could be utilized in a variety of ways.  What are some of your ideas for silent signals?  Post them in the comments

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Web Address: http://en.linoit.com 

There are a variety of tools available to take notes online and to keep track of favorite websites.  en.linoit is one more.  It allows you to create online sticky notes.  There are apps for smartphones and all of this helps you keep track of the things you most want.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Scan it

In our modern day and age it is becoming ever more useful to get rid of paper.  Recently I have been using a tool that I love.  We upgraded our copy machine with a module that allows it to send PDF files instead of just making paper copies.  I have gone through over 2000 pages of old materials and scanned them in as PDF's.  Some of these are materials that I could probably find doing a Google Search or using Pioneer Library to look through old Journals and Magazines, but in this case I had taken notes on items and had handwritten notes to go along with them.  Most of these I haven't referred to for a while but they still matter to me so I wanted to keep them available. This new add-on on the copier has been a wonderful tool and allowed me to scan multiple sheets all at once.  It even does double sided and larger sized documents.  Our system was about $200.00 to add on to the current copier we had.  This is relatively inexpensive for a scanner that can be shared by all who have access to the copier.


There are other ways also, there are several apps that allow a Smartphone to take a snapshot and turn it into a PDF.  I have talked about that in a previous post but you can also do a search in your favorite App store to find and compare them.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Mixing Art + Politics

Integrating curriculum is a valuable way to effectively reach the whole student. This video for this week shows an effective method for doing just that.

You can learn more about this at: http://www.edutopia.org/stw-integrated-studies-york-resources-video  as well as seeing instructions for downloading the video from iTunes if you are having trouble viewing the video above.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Utah Governor's Summit

Web Address: http://www.uen.org/govedsummit/

In just under a month Governor Gary R. Herbert will be hosting and educational summit.  This summit will address issues of education and instruction here in Utah.  This will be a unique opportunity because there will be a chance to gather together at local schools to view the event live as well as to have conversations with your local colleagues.  UEN will be streaming the event live as will Utah.org so that people from all over will be able to participate and see what Utah is doing to accelerate learning.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Improving Utah Schools

Most people agree that we want to see education improved, but it is difficult to agree on what that means.  Doug Fabrizio and @RadioWest have been broadcasting a series about Improving Utah Schools.  The issues facing Utah schools are similar to schools throughout the United States.  The series has one more episode yet to come but the first two are worth a listen.

web address: http://radiowest.kuer.org/topic/improving-utah-schools

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Center for Science and Mathematics Education

Web Address: http://csme.utah.edu

The University of Utah is the home of the Center for Science and Mathematic Education.  A group dedicated to improving Science and Math education by enhancing teacher preparation.  The CSME has programs both for Undergraduates and for those pursuing a Graduate work.  There are also a wide variety of  resources and materials for enhancing education.  Take a look around the site and see what you  think.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Geology songs

@lauhun forwarded the first video in this playlist to me so I took a look around the interwebs and found the above playlist full of geology songs and it got me thinking about two things?

First, how could we use playlists as teachers.  I have suggested creating playlists on YouTube before in a course I teach and I still think it can be great.  There are lots of sites out there that let you create and share playlists: UEN's eMedia, YouTube, TeacherTube, SchoolTube.  But it could also be simply creating a list.  I often thought when teaching that I couldn't show all the amazing movies, documentaries and videos. So I developed the idea of Enrichments.  I would ask students to watch and summarize videos (or books, or other materials). These assignments were extra and allowed students to engage with materials I couldn't make time for in class.

Second, I loved the parody element in several of these videos and although it wasn't something I did, it is a terrific strategy for getting students to engage with the content.  Having students produce these kinds of videos with accurate science or history or whichever topic necessary.

What are your ideas for using video or writing parodies?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Science Friday via @iraflatow and @scifri

Web Address: http:://www.sciencefriday.com

The theme this week seems to be science.  There are a variety of science websites available.  Lots of good ones. But one of the exceptional ones has to be Science Friday.  The site is a complement to the NPR Radio program of the same name which airs Friday's ( I know, a shocker right!) my favorite feature is the exceptional Video Pick of the Week

Enjoy a visit around the site.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Cloud Features you didn't know about.

I am not always a fan of countdowns, but here are 9 cloud features you may not know about and could be hugely helpful:
  1. Cloud Favorites.  For Android, and iOS users your favorite browser can keep your favorites together.  When you sign in to the Chrome Browser your favorites are kept in sync.  The same is true of Safari.  An iPad user with a Windows computer, never fear Safari is available for Windows and is an option when you download iTunes. Added Bonus: When you are logged in to two devices on Chrome or Safari you can open tabs that are open on other devices.
  2. Photo Storage: When you turn on PhotoStream on iOS devices it allows you to see and then download to your device photos taken on other devices.  For example if I snap a shot with my iPhone I can see it and edit on my iPad and then share it to Facebook from my computer.  Similar to this is Google+ this app on iOS devices allows you to choose to upload your photos automatically as a backup.  Every photo you take is added to a private folder that allows you to share to Google+.  If you are an Amazon fan their app will automatically back up photos also.
  3. Notes - There are several services that will keep notes in sync.  Apple's Notes does this with iCloud, but also if you enable the feature with other accounts it will let you store notes in a Google account or an Exchange account. Others include Catch notes and Evernote.
  4. Music - Apple has a service for this and will make all of your music available on any device.  The cost is about $30 a year.  Google and Amazon both have free services with varying limits.  Amazon allows you to listen to anything you have purchased from them and upload a limited amount of other music.  Google handles things similarly, but with a much higher limit on what you can upload.
  5. Books - Books have changed from a commodity to a resource.  Formerly you purchased a physical book that belonged to you but now largely your are licensing the rights to access that material.  Services like Amazon's Kindle, Kobo, iBooks and Nook make your books available on a variety of devices.
  6. Movies - There are many services that allow you to stream you movies and Apple is good about allowing you to access iTunes purchases on your devices, but are there others?  Ultraviolet allows you to access movies in several apps including Flixster, and from the VUDU website.  Amazon Instant video allows you to purchase from Amazon and view on a variety of devices as well.
  7. Website updates: With apps like Blogsy, WordPress, Blogger, EduBlogs and EduTecher you can update resources and information on your website from a mobile device or any internet connected computer.
  8. Mail - We don't often think about this anymore, but since most of us are using a web based email system our email is cloud based.  Outlook.com is a major update for Hotmail, Live, and MSN users and allows you to claim a clean @outlook.com mail alias without having to get used to a new inbox.  Gmail has long been cloud based and with the ability to rapidly switch between several accounts also allow you to keep up with more than one inbox.
  9. Audiobooks - ok so I am fudging a little since this is sort of covered by #5 but Audible is a great service with apps on both iOS and Android that allows you to listen to your books on any device directly from the device.  It does download the file to your device so it is best to do the downloading over WiFi but once you do you can earn awards, badges and achievements for how much you listen.  It will even keep different devices in sync and sync with Kindle copies of the text for certain books. Pretty amazing?
So, what cloud based features and services are your favorites? What are the cloud features you can't live without.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Echoes and Reflections

As a former science teacher and current technology trainer I often find it easy to lose track of the humanities. Echoes and Reflections was brought to my attention and I was pleased enough with it that I wanted to share with you the overview

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

International Children's Digital Library

Web Address: http://en.childrenslibrary.org/about/mission.shtml

In an effort to enhance reading for children all over the world the International Children's Digital Library. This site has a a collection of children's books in multiple languages.  They have made specific efforts to acquire books not just written in these languages but by native speakers and addressing native cultures.  They based this effort on the idea that it is essential for people to have access to their native language and native culture.  This creates a wonderful resource for educators who are working with immigrant populations or English Language Learners.  Additionally Dual Immersion Language programs can really benefit from this resource as a place for students to find books and teachers to find materials to share.  Most of the materials are available in PDF and can be printed or shared via an interactive whiteboard or projector systems.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

To take a photo shoot a video

I have seen some of the amazing photos of lightning and always been impressed.  I have always wanted to take a photography course and buy a really nice camera with all the fancy settings to I could take some of those shots.  But last week during a thunderstorm I saw my niece out in the rain with her iPhone held up in the air.   A few minutes later she comes in and shows me this:

What amazing shots!  Apparently she had used an app: Video 2 Photo that allows the user to shoot video and then pull images from the video.  at $1.99 it's pretty affordable and while you are there take a look at related apps that do all kinds of more amazing things with photos and videos.

This one in particular looks very useful for capturing images that would be difficult or impossible to get otherwise.  I think of sporting events and science experiments especially where capturing the moment the ball drops or the second the candle snuffs out would be exceedingly difficult with even an exceptional camera, but capturing it with video and then extracting the frame needed could be great.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Mike Row Testifies to Congress...Still relevant

Mike Rowe's Dirty Jobs has been a wildly popular television series and many of us comfortably sit in our chairs or sofas and watch him work harder than we would care too.  But his comment about a PR campaign for Skilled Labor still resonates and has impact on every class we could teach. Check out DiscoverYourSkills to learn about what students can do to identify real work they can do.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Tagets,Objectives, deliverables and Real work!

My wife has been preparing for her first full time full year contract as a teacher.  Her road to that place was a long one and probably unfairly influenced by me as her navigator, so it is only fair that her getting set up for back to school has felt a lot like me getting ready for back to school.  The school she works at has adopted a new terminology.  They are using Learning Targets or 'blancos' for her Dual Immersion class.  This replaces the term objectives or 'objetivos'.  Apparently this change caused no small stir among the faculty at her school and there were some arguments as to the best translation for Targets, but essentially this is semantics.  Whether we use objectives, targets, learning goals, or just define what students will be able to do or know at the end of our class, we as teacher are often the ones making those decisions.  We decide what matters most, or what will be on the test, assessment, rubric, or how the project will be graded.  This isn't bad.  We are trained and paid to do this.  But occasionally, I have to stop and think about it a little.  A colleague asked me to come in and go over some work he was doing on an online course focused on a variety of Online Library tools, like EBSCO and SIRS. The conversation ended up revolving around one big idea: What will they turn in? Fundamentally at the heart of a lot of what we do as teachers is that question: What will they turn in? Related to it are several corollaries: How will I assess them? How will I grade them?  (These are different by the way) 

What both of these experiences drove home to me is how much I decide what is important for people to learn and how much more I want them as students or participants to decide "what" is important for them to learn.  During my discussion about the online class I shared the following philosophy with my colleague: Whenever possible allow students/participants to decide what they will do to demonstrate their learning.  An example, rather than quizzing students on details of the products or obscure information that can be found in the online databases, have them create a list of resources they could use and strategies for using them.  One way, I as the instructor set the priorities and the other way the student/participant does. As a bonus, when the participant seeks information or build understanding they do this around their own needs and their needs are met.  When I have them seek information it is usually my needs that are met.

My other thoughts this week are wandering back to Mike Rowe and Dirty Jobs and the various things he has done to promote the value of Skilled Labor.  Along with this idea of someone else deciding what is important for me to learn we as a society have glorified the work that doesn't look like work.  The work everyone wants is the work that looks like being entertained.  This may sound hypocritical coming from a guy whose job is described by his children as "watching YouTube videos all day" but the idea I have about this isn't just for skilled labor.  We wait too long to get kids working.  Laws to protect young people from being exploited have barred them from entering the productive part of society.  We keep telling everyone how important Higher Education is and this makes them extend their adolescence into their late 20's when they finally finish all their schooling and start a job.  We offer loans, grants and parental support so that young people don't take responsibility for themselves until they are ready to be adults.  The problem is they are already adults long before this but without any of the skills or accountability needed to allow them to be adults.  

A better way...have students begin work based learning at a younger age. Probably 14 years or so.  Have them spend half their day working. Really working! They should have opportunities to explore a variety of work options, some manual and skilled, some cerebral and theoretical. In all these cases though students should be doing real work that really needs to be done.  Scaffolded along side these work opportunities should be courses, training, and support that helps them become better qualified for the work they are doing if they love it, or retraining if they decide they want to go in another direction.  This kind of education could be scaffolded through a lifetime of learning, and is equally valuable to the MD and the ASE.  It also allows for a direct path to deep skills for those who know what they want and a supported branching path for those prone to explore but in each case the person is contributing to society and being compensated for it which should also prevent them from becoming a menace to society by seeking a living in the criminal arts. 

These rambling thoughts might seem disconnected but they both flow out of a respect for and individuals right and desire to be in control of their own destiny. My job as a teacher should be to help someone else achieve their goals more than about deciding what they should learn.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Math Fact Cafe

Web Address: http://www.mathfactcafe.com/worksheet/buildit

With all the critical thinking, problem solving and project based learning around there is still a need for drill and practice.  Sometimes that means paper worksheets.  There are quite a few of these out there and here is one that I found recently that Worked very well to create a basic math facts worksheet.  You simply enter in your range and information and the print the sheet. You can also generate an answer key.  Quite a simple and fun website.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

2013 Back to School non-tech tools

Usually we focus on Electronic tech for back to school, but this week I was considering the things I most useful tools I had in my classroom and many of them were low tech.  Here's a list (in no particular order) of some of the regular tech you might want in your classroom
  1. Putty knife - Used this all the time for scraping mystery stuff off of places I don't like to think about
  2. Heavy Duty Glass Scraper.  These are a handle for a razor blade that allows you to scrape off the stuff the putty knife won't work on especially hard to remove stickers
  3. Goof Off  or Goo Gone brand cleaner or isopropyl alcohol. This finishes off the residue left by to two listed above
  4. Tweezers - You got to have them in the classroom
  5. Pliers or Multi-tool with pliers.
  6. Screw Driver Set. Spend a few dollars on a good set with a solid handle and more bits/drivers than you need.
  7. Cordless Drill - To go with #6. With these two in hand you are ready for all the jobs you don't want to wait for the custodian for like lowering or raising the legs on student desks
  8. 11" x 17" paper.  I loved this stuff.  I used it for posters, folders, children's books.  You can cut it in half lengthwise for bumper stickers or "tweets" Simply amazing to have around.
  9. USB Charger Systems - Belkin makes an amazing one with extra plugs and two USB charger ports.  They aren't very high powered so the trickle charge an iPad but are great for smaller devices.
Since a lot of these items could pose risks I suggest checking with your local district or school about having them and keep them locked away from little hands but hope this helps you be handy around your classroom

For a visual list check out


Friday, August 16, 2013

Evernote Tips

This week, I wanted to share just a couple of my favorite videos about getting started with a fantastic notetaking app.  Evernote:

You can see all there videos here or here

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Singularity is near

I have been reading The Singularity is Near by Ray Kurzweil This has been a fascinating read and I have been really challenged in my perceptions about what the future may hold.  It is particularly interesting to read it almost 10 years after publication, because I am seeing many of his predictions shown wrong, but only in the timing.  He predicted Google Glass but was off by how soon it would be available and adopted.  He predicted ubiquitous broadband WiFi which is getting there but hasn't quite reached it.  His is only wrong in the very minor details of timing.

Today I was reading the chapter about trading in our bodies for Human 2.0.  I have joked about when the robopocalypse happens, I am switching sides.  I will ask them to download me into a machine and I will join the robots.  Kurzweil says I am not far wrong, but the biggest idea that hit me today was the concept of Virtual Reality and Real Reality as he refers to it all the time in the book.  Some might want to juxtapose Virtual Reality with Physical Reality.  As we spend more and more of our time in virtualized experiences of movies, games, and social networking sites, we are developing communities friends and experiences that are no less real for having taken place only in our mind.  Even physical reality is our minds interpretation of the molecular and energetic reactions around us.

But I like the terms Cognitive Reality versus Corporeal Reality.  If what Kurzweil argues comes to pass by 2040 or 2050 many humans will have transcended mere biological intelligence. I see this happening already.  I have a much deeper memory than my ancestors because I have thousands of photos recording specific moments with clarity that my ancestors could not have.  I have in essence expanded my intelligence/memory by offloading it to digital space.  Kurzweil predicts that this will happen with our bodies as well.  We will exist as individuals in the cloud, to use today's term, and when needed will use a variety of nanobots and holograms to generate a corporeal presence for any number of reasons.  This really highlights the contrast between Cognitive Reality and Corporeal Reality.  Something I experience only in my mind is no less real than something I experience with a body.  This could include our communities and other experiences.  It makes me really wonder how we will value all relationships and experiences when we can download them.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


This week it's all about the overhaul on the UEN website.  As a disclaimer I do work for UEN which is a non-profit state agency.  That having been said, I would promote this resource regardless if I worked for them or not.  UEN provides and curates some of the best resources for education in the world not to say anything of the state. UEN has worked hard to be a recognizable presence in Utah.  The site has long had a recognizable Purple and Green color scheme. One that has been maintained in the new site.  But with a fresher and newer feel.  Additionally there are new features like auto resizing as you shrink the window and enhanced mobile features at m.uen.org

But since the change has moved around a few favorite pages. Here is a list of some of the hottest UEN pages, maybe there are some here you haven't seen:
  1. The UEN Resources Page, a list of resources built by and for UEN: http://www.uen.org/k12educator/uenresources.php 
  2. The UEN Multimedia Resource page: http://www.uen.org/general_learner/multimedia_resources.shtml 
  3. The UEN Curriculum Search page: http://www.uen.org/curriculumsearch/searchParams.action
  4. The UEN Student Interactives, a curated list of great interactive websites, see a problem, see a site that should be there Contact Us and we will get right on it: http://www.uen.org/k12student/interactives.shtml 
  5. The UEN Homework Help page: http://www.uen.org/k12student/homework.shtml
These are just a few of the great pages provided as part of the UEN.org site.  Visit the site and plan on spending some time getting reacquainted after the remodel.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

9 Tools for Back to School

Here are my 9 suggestions for things you need for back to school:
  1. Your own website: Try my.uen.org as a good too for building a free website, or one of my other favorites, Google Sites, Weebly or EduTecher.
  2. Cloud Storage: again, my.uen.org where you can store up to 3GB of files depending on your status.  You can also store files in SkyDrive, Google Drive or DropBox
  3. Twitter: A Twitter account as a way to get connected to fellow teachers.  Follow #edchat, or any of these. Also follow @uenpd and @uennews and #uennews. Try Paper.li if Twitter feels a bit overwhelming. You can create your own "Newspaper" based on hashtags you like.
  4. A tablet: If your district hasn't provided a tablet, then you can pick one. At this point you can pick your flavor. Make sure your district is ok with you bringing in your own device. But then a Kindle Fire, Android Tablets, Nook and iOS devices all allow you to interact with students, keep track of data and generally make you more efficient.
  5. Class Dojo: This is fast becoming one of my favorite suggestions.  Since so many people have a
    Class Dojo avatars
    smart device (see above) thiswebsite and accompanying App is a huge favorite. You can add in your students and then use the app to give both positive and negative points.  You can then share a code for parents and students to login.  Students can then track their behavior.  I saw one teacher who had a posted a rewards list from 10 points to 250 points. 10 points to change your Avatar to 250 points for a week without homework BONUS: The default avatars for your kids - Little Monsters!
  6. Evernote: The ultimate in notetaking apps. There
    are alternatives to his and there are some good reasons to use them.  Microsoft's OneNote is an exceptional Tool and allows you to keep in Sync with SkyDrive and a variety of Apps. But EverNote has quickly become my favorite because it has an app for the desktop on both Mac and PC also lots of other tools will let you do just about everything you want.  My favorite technique is to use the Page feature to take a photo of physical handouts.  Using Optical Character Recognition Evernote's servers will let you search the contents of the photo you just snapped.
  7. Easel.ly:  This is a great tool for creating visual resources.  It can make a great disclosure, procedures or even a graphic organizer for taking notes, both teachers and students can create with it.
  8. Online Multimedia: Prezi, Glogster, Google Slides, and PowerPoint Web App all allow you to create multimedia presentations and share them online.  Check them out for some great resources.
  9. Finally, Check out UEN.org for a newly updated look and feel and visit one of my favorite pages: http://www.uen.org/k12educator/uenresources.php for a list of all that UEN provides for teachers.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

mapsengine Lite

Google Maps has been undergoing some changes and improvements over the last little while.  For years, I have used the My Places features in Maps to create maps and geospatial learning activities.  It has been wonderful.

It currently looks like it is changing.  Google recently release https://mapsengine.google.com/map/ which allows users to generate simple 3 layer maps for personal and non-profit purposes.  Now don't be mislead by the term 'simple' these maps are simple in comparison with what some complex and expensive mapping systems can do, but they are more capable than the features in the My Places currently available.  While My Places allows multiple maps to be displayed at the same time and it currently appears that Mapsengine will not allow multiple maps.  This means that before I could create unlimited personal Layers, but now I can create multiple layers to share with others.  There are also features available in Google Earth and the Google Maps API for business that can be paid for.  There are options for getting some of these on an educational grant basis

The big take home here isn't actually the features or a comparison, but it's the fact that we have a tool that far exceeds what any previous generation has had for creating maps.  Like so many other things, the skills, tools, and capacities of the everyman(and everywoman) have been expanded.  In generations past it took vast training, high level skills both technical and theoretical to create accurate maps.  Now like photography, video editing, mathematics, arithmetic and web design, there are freely available tools that allow each of us to do more.  It is wonderful to live in a time where more and more is created to allow everyone to do more.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Escaping Education's Death Valley

There are a couple of really amazing phrases in this. One is the line that "We sit kids down and ask them to do low level clerical work and then wonder why they get fidgety?"

The other was the metaphor about Death Valley and the first rain there in hundreds of years brought blossoms. Death Valley is not dead, only dormant. It only awaited the right climate to bloom.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Where is the geek going to go?

A few weeks ago I was prepping to teach about one of my all-time favorite programs: Excel! Well not Excel specifically, but spreadsheets.  I cut my teeth in the computing world on a Program called Twin which was literally a 'twin' of Lotus 1-2-3, which of course was borrowed largely from VisiCalc which was the first Spreadsheet software ever.

Well I was looking for a video clip from the exceptional series "Triumph of the Nerds" Bob Cringely shares some time with the inventors of the spreadsheets.  I bumped into the clip I was wanting to use and one of the folks made some comments about it that I felt I needed to respond to:

It made me think a bit.  When I was a kid I coded for fun.  I would sit in my basement and I will admit, I spent hours playing games others had built.  But I also tinkered.  I programmed in basic and even created my own Menu Systems for games I had on 5.25" (truly) floppy disks.  It makes me wonder a bit about where the tinkerers are tinkering now?  There isn't a standard free language that is packaged with computers now.  iPads don't come with the "how to crack this" book.  Old computers did.  You had to program them.  Computers of today are becoming a bit like the TV.  They are a consumer product you buy and use until you need a new one.  Luckily there are options for upgrades and recycling, but still it isn't a tinkerers world anymore.  But as I mentioned in my comments above. It's the geeks and tinkerers that help change the world.  Steve Wozniak was a supreme tinkerer.  What if he had been told NO! you must play by these rules and can only do these things with your electronics.  

This is why I am seriously thinking about building a Linux computer with my sons.  Just so we can tinker!  What do you think where are people tinkering today?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Learning Activities for the Summer

As we start into summer it's important to take advantage of both the wonderful learning activities and events:
You can find some amazing links to Summer Reading resources at: http://www.uen.org/general_learner/summer_reading/
You can also find your local utah library here: http://library.utah.gov/directory/index.html

You can find a list of the wonderful museums to visit at: https://www.utahmuseums.org/museum-directory

State Parks are listed at: http://stateparks.utah.gov/parks Utah State parks has partner with http://www.pocketrangerexchange.com/  to share an official StateParks App that let's you join in GeoChallenges.

And even more can be found at Utah.Com (Utah.com is not a government website but does house excellent information about Utah recreational activities)

So Fun stuff to do across the state.  If you have a favorite site or app you will be using to keep up the learning over the summer share it in the comments.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

As we head into the summer it's worth considering what to watch.  We often have our summer reading list ready but this summer consider adding a viewing list.  Pick out some of the excellent videos and resources available to learn by watching.

1. The Teaching Channel - A site focused on professionally created videos mostly showing teachers demonstrating strategies and techniques.

2. Learner.org - Annenberg produced videos and courses that focus on deeper theory and strategies for learning.

3. UEN-TV - Live Television broadcasts of a variety of Instructional and Education programming including some items from Annenberg’s Learner.org

4. UtahiTV- Broadcast schedules and other resources for locating education and instructional television statewide


5. eMedia - Many of the resouces licensed through the Utah Instructional Media Consortium and listed at UtahiTV are also downloadable through eMedia

6. PBS Video - All your favorite PBS programming most of it streamed full length without commercials.

7. TED - TED has become a premier source of the best ideas in the world.  Visit the site for great videos to inspire and challenge you.  Visit the TedEd site to see lesson plans and ideas for using videos to inspire and challenge students.

8. YouTube.EDU - Whether for professional or personal development, the iPad is fantastic at storing, reading and even annotating PDF’s, ePub, and other files.

9. iTunes - Use iTunes to find podcasts and iTunes U content.

* Bonus

Consider Amazon Instant Video, Hulu and Netflix. Each of these services offer excellent documentaries and informational content.

See a printable version here: 9 Ideas for Teacher Viewing

Friday, May 24, 2013

What is the Higgs Boson and why does it matter?

The best explanation I have seen so far of what the Higgs Boson is and why it matters that we find it.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wiki Classroom

A while back I did a Faculty Lounge Episode about Wikispaces and how it could be used in the classroom. But now Wikispaces has branched out.  They have developed some unique and specific features for Classroom use and one of the options in your settings on your Wiki is to make it a classroom.
Screen Shot 2013-05-17 at 10.16.50 AM

This enables several new features:
  • Projects
  • News Feed
  • Events
  • Assessments
These features functionally turn a wiki for collaboration into a Learning Management System for course delivery.  Allowing any teacher to deliver content, make assignments, create calendar events and provide feedback with assessment.  Just another great tool in the teacher toolkit.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Wireless Geocaching

Garmin Chirp

Geocaching is a worldwide hide and seek treasure hunt game.  It allows people to hide a cache, which is nothing more than a box full of clever trinkets, and share the Latitude and Longitude of the cache on a website.  There are several websites out there that do this including GeoCaching.com and OpenCaching.com.  One of the must enjoyable types of caches are multi-caches that allow you to go from one point to another along a preset route.  Each cache then has the coordinates for another cache, but it can be challenging to get the coordinates entered into your device correctly.  If you have a high end Garmin GPS unit you can now do more.  The Garmin Chirp is a small wireless device that will communicate with other GPS devices.  Currently it only works with Garmin GPS units,  and one app on the Apple App Store: GeoBeacon  There are admittedly very limited and specific applications for this, but the reason I wanted to share this is because of the potential it might have.  Imagine that within the next year or two you could place these beacons around sites you wanted students to go to and to learn things.  You could create a field trip that they could get your specific tips and tricks for. There are several different ways two device can communicate like this and it could be that in the very near future the same technology that allows Android users to checkout at the grocery store with their Google Wallet by waving their phone at the cash register might allow mobile devices to act as a cache register.

Learn more by watching the following videos:

Friday, May 17, 2013

Infinity is bigger than you think

Wow, this is amazing.  Slower than last Week's Vi Hart but pretty amazing in it's own right.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Web Address: http://www.pearltrees.com/

Social bookmarking has been around for quite a while, and it can be a wonderful resources, but it isn't always very pretty. That's why Visual Bookmarking has become the latest and greatest. Sites like Pinterest allow users to use the images of their favorite things to keep track of and share those things with their friends. The latest site that I have found allows you to go a couple of steps beyond regular visual bookmarking and social bookmarking.

PearlTrees allows you to create Trees around a topic with various Pearls as the leaves.  The Pearls can be web pages, images, or notes.  These can then be connected further. This gives us the Visual bookmarking but what takes it beyond the other visual bookmarking tools is the ability to group and organize the Pearls.  Essentially you get a tree which organizes your thoughts. It's a Mind Map.  Socially, you can share, tweet, and embed these PearlTrees but where PearlTrees went beyond in Visual bookmarking it also goes beyond in Social Bookmarking. You can view the PearlTrees of others and then add items back to yours by "picking" a pearl.

Social Bookmarking Tools in Mitchell Jorgensen (mbjorgensen)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Trim Video

If you are like me there are times when YouTube just won't work.  Not because it's blocked but because I only need a few moments of a video and the navigation tools in YouTube are limited.  Here are some strategies I have learned that are helpful.

Screen Shot 2013-05-10 at 11.34.09 AM

First of all when a user clicks Share under a YouTube video they can now designate a start time.  This allows you to jump over some parts you may not want.  To show.  You can always keep the link handy by copying it and posting it to your my.uen page.

If you have your own Channel with videos that you own. You can also edit and modify them by going to the YouTube Editor
Screen Shot 2013-05-10 at 12.43.14 PM

This editor lets you mash together two or more of your videos and add audio for a quick and simple mashup.  You can also add pop ups and links to videos.

The final tool I was recently introduced to is Mozilla's Popcorn Maker.  This Tool allows you to choose videos from a variety of sources like YouTube, Vimeo and others and then add soundtracks and popups.  This is the same group that brought us FireFox so it works best in FireFox.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Doodling in Math

This video is the reason I decided to start doing the Friday Flix series.  This is the whole playlist and is over an hour long so sit back and learn!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Homework Help and Summer Support

Web Addresses:

With summer approaching it's either time to ramp up the homework factory so that students get all caught up and prepared for next year or it's time to start planning summer excursions and activities to keep kids learning.  Summer can be a really good time to allow kids to recharge and explore interests they have developed during the school year.  I never saw summer vacation as a break from learning but more as a chance to learn at my own pace and to explore my own interests.  The two sites listed above can help students get the support they may need to do just that.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Make a QR code

QR codes or Quick Response codes are 2-D bar codes. These codes go beyond what regular bar codes can do. Regular bar codes use the varying black and white bars to communicate numbers and usually just that. But the 2-D QR codes allow more robust uses including:
  • Text
  • Hyoerlinks
  • Contact Information
  • YouTube videos
  • Direct access to certain apps ie: 4Square
These codes can be read by a variety of tools on a smart phone. Apps like Redlaser, and i-Nigma and even the Google Goggles feature of the Google search app will red these codes and the redirect them as needed. So what are teachers doing with these? Well UEN resident expert on QR codes Mindy Hintze has collected a variety of resources and examples all available at http://my.uen.org/myuen/70775/12
How are you using QR Codes? Leve your ideas in the comments!

Friday, May 3, 2013

How do we learn this stuff?

Predictions about the future are amazingly varied in their accuracy.  Sometimes people are spot on! Other times somethings initiates a change that few if anyone predicted and suddenly the whole world seems to change over night.  Read any novel written before cell phones or smart phones to see this in action.  One thing that has been predicted is an exponential growth of information technology.  That pace has held true for close to 50 years.  Ray Kurzweil suggests that this will lead to exponential changes in the human condition and the way we will be able to manipulate the digital world and eventually the real world.  Well we might not think about it but in order to create better video games we have to understand how things work in reality.  I find it intriguing that in order to make a better virtual world we have to learn more about the real world.  See the video below for an example of how stunning this can look

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Web Address: http://www.hippocampus.org

Hippocampus.org LogoWith the proliferation and growth of OER there are more and more resources available for teachers to forge into their own weapon of mass education.  Hippocampus has been an access point for these kinds of openly available resources for years.  UEN has been directing learners and educators to HippoCampus for a long time and has partnered with HippoCampus to offer specific resources in a variety of ways.

HippoCampus will allow users to create their own profile.  They can then browse through, search and locate materials to add them to playlists.  For educators these playlists can be shared with students as either preliminary or review material. This would help you effectively flip your classroom.  Students could preview materials and information before class and then be ready for problem solving, discussion and critical thinking in class.

Students can create their own playlists and explore their own interests.  Essentially taking control of their own learning.  For a list of additional OER Resources check out this list: http://www.uen.org/oer/

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Make Something

original apple computer
Computers have changed! The days of the giant beige cases with thumbscrews you could remove without tools are quickly coming to an end. Some will bemoan this and probably they are right to do so. The tinkerers and hackers and backyard engineers are the folks who first created the vibrant industry that has grown into our sleek modern computers. We can easily forget that the original Apple's weren't what we are used to seeing todayThese early amateurs set a culture where every individual maintained their own computers.  We (yup, I was among them) would actually crack open the cases and do upgrades, modifications and changes ourselves! But most of the new Laptops and All-in-Ones aren't suited to this.  The tinkering has gone from the hardware to the software and even that is usually not tinkered with.  This is not new, the same pattern existed when the Amateur radio became a consumer product.  No one bewails that they can't modify their TV.  So is all the tinkering gone away.  Not if you ask Kip Kedersha, who also goes by the handle KipKay, sure doesn't think so! If you are ever in the need of a project for yourself or you tech oriented students check out his page.  While you consider it check out this which my son built just the other day and it works like a charm!

Friday, April 26, 2013

<=> Less equals more

There is a certain universal mathematics wherein <=> or spelled out
Less (<) equals (=) more (>)
This can be an importan concept in our personal lives and in what and how we teach.  This week take a look at the following video and then in the s give us some ideas about how <=> in your classroom!

For me less equals more in terms of homework.  I have often thought that expecting students to leave their full time 'job' and go home and work for several hours more sets a bad pattern.  I don't want to have to do that every day.  So I tried my hardest to only have 1 hour of homework a week in my class.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

GIS/GPS Resources from UEN

Web Address: http://www.uen.org/general_learner/gis.shtml

This week I wanted highlight one of our Utah's own resources.  UEN has been the premier curator of resources directly relevant to Utah Education for years and they continue to strive to be just as relevant.  For the last few years one way they have been doing that is by supporting CMAP courses.  These courses have allowed teachers to locate and map points of interest and of educational value in a variety of locations throughout the state.  Two areas that have particularly robust GIS systems are:
Each of the areas have developed a robust mapping system and used information from community mapping to add information.  The GIS/GPS page above is the place that you can go to find out all kinds of great things.  From how to use a GPS device to ways to contribute to other projects.  If you are interested in seeing just what these projects have accomplished take a look at the CMAP Projects page.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


I try to keep these tech tips something relevant and hopefully cross platform and a tip! I think of these tips as little shortcuts or processes that can simplify what we do as tech enhanced educators. Often, we can spend a lot of time managing the technology and that can interfere with the big focus of all this which is the teach! Often we Ereader teaching things that aren't tech they are some other content. So he are two tips to managing information that I have found helpful:

Conventions, or Standards are rules that we use in grammar and writing to help cue people as to what we are doing. For instance if I put an ! At the end of a sentence you know I really mean it! Conventions that I use with student projects include the following naming of files:


The students replaced the number sign (hashtag) with their class period and the question marks refer to their own name or information in the file name. By doing this, when students submit their assignment in a shared network drive or save it to a shared folder on DropBox, Google Drive or Skydrive, I can sort the whole list and I have them separated by class, and alphabetically by last name. This saves hours of searching and hunting for files and matching things up. Especially when your school grading system doesn't connect to your online/digital submission tool.

I use the following date format at the beginnnng of all my documents


I then include whatever relevant file information I want. I learned this when Picasa started prepending this to my photos as they were I imported. While getting my science bachelor's I had gotten used to the standard scientific format for dates: 2013-apr-23 or 2013-IV-23 which is standard globally, but doesn't sort well on a computer, namely January is sorted after April by the computer who is using alphabetical sorting. By using the format above you get perfect chronological sorting. The 'last modified' or 'created on' data associated can be inaccurate when you move files from one external hard drive to another. So I have begun adding the date I created it at the beginning of all my documents to allow me to sort them.

What are some of your strategies for arranging and sorting files in our new age with massive numbers of files to manage? Post them in the comments!

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I really am learning and this blog is maintained both as a record of some of what I am doing as well as a place for me to train and teach others about creating an online presence. So please don't mind the dust. We aren't remodeling we are learning!

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