Saturday, June 18, 2011

New Site:

Since I'm no longer the 21st Century Technology TOSA for St. Louis Park, I thought it was time to move on from this blog.  I will be leaving it up for historical purposes, but I will be posting from now on here at Education, Philosophy and Technology.  There will be a lot there about educational technology, if you've found this website to be useful, which I hope you have!  

Monday, April 18, 2011

10 Great Sites in Ten Minutes For Educators

Below you will find Ten Great Sites that educators could use to improve their teaching and engage students.

0. Garrison Sites: The inspiration for this list
  1. Prezi - presentation video creator
  2. Taggalaxy - great pictures from Flikr. Read our review!
  3. bridgeurl - create a slideshow of websites
  4. wordle - create word clouds
  5. jigsawplanet - create a puzzle out of a picture
  6. qwiki - uses wikipedia and pictures and graphics to create a short interactive video about a topic
  7. dabbleboard - easy way to make webs, doodles and graphic organizers
  8. caffein - free video chat with multiple people
  9. Thinkfinity - a great website with lots of lesson plans and ideas that integrate technology into teaching.
  10. Glogster - create posters and
  11. Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day - Amazing resource with tons of great links and resources
  12. SLPTECH Blog - My own website, with lots of resources for teachers.
  13. SLP 21st Century Technology Website - District website with lots of great resources for elementary teachers.
BridgeURL of Sites.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

5 Tips on getting Students Using the Smartboard or MOBI

“Your students are tired of watching their teacher use the smartboard.” - TIES Trainer

  1. If you expect most or every student to use the smartboard, keep the activity quick and easy. Instead of having students write with the MOBI or Smartboard, have them just move an object or make a mark.
  2. The first few times a student uses a MOBI or Smartboard, they will be very slow. Therefore, allow time for students to play and explore the smartboard during a time when you can help them, like indoor recess or morning work.
  3. Morning Sign in: Using the shapes toolin Smartboard Notebook, you can quickly create a shape with the students name on it. Then when they arrive in the morning, they can do their lunch count, make a graph, or even put their name in a Venn Diagram.
  4. Have your students use the smartboard or MOBI as a Center. After you have taught a lesson or activity with the whole class, you can begin assigning it as a center. At first, the rest of the class will be a bit distracted by this, but after a few days, it will become just one of the centers they will rotate to.
  5. During independent work time, have a few students write their answers on the smartboard or MOBI. This way, when everyone is done, you can go over together the answers together, and you don’t have to make your class wait while the student writes their answer on the board.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Update to Great School Websites

Enjoy an update to Great School Websites.

Springfield Township High School Libguide - Lots of great videos and links for podcasting, video making, mindmapping, wikis, blogs, and much more.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ways to use CPS student response clickers

This will hopefully provide teachers in SLP with a number of great ideas on how they could use their CPS clickers.
  1. Homework: Plug the answers to a couple homework questions into Fast Grade, and then engage a student managed mode as the students enter at the beginning of the day. You'll see who is doing their homework, and who is doing it right without having to grade the entire homework assignment. Do some of the questions non-numeric answers? Make some different multiple choice answers for that question.
  2. Matching worksheet: Got a worksheet that has students matching vocabulary from a wordbank with sentences? Just number the vocabulary in the wordbank, and then have the students put in numeric response for each sentence. For example, if they have a sentence that says "The coldest season." and "winter" is labelled 3, then they would enter "3" for their answer.
  3. Daily Math Practice: Plug in the answers to the daily math practice through Fast Grade, then as you go over the questions, engage a Teacher Managed Mode, have students enter their answers for each question, and go over questions that students seemed to struggle with. The best part? If you have assigned clickers to students, you'll have a record of what students struggled with what question, which will help you determine which students need support from volunteers and Title 1, or if you refer the student to Special Ed.
  4. MCA Test Practice: Have your students put in their answers for each question. Go over the questions that students got wrong.
  5. Formative Assessments: Have your students put their answers to a formative assessment into their CPS clickers, and then you can quickly determine what areas during the unit you will need to focus on. You can also use it to create flexible groups or to differentiate in your own classroom.
  6. Summative Assessments: Why spend your time grading, when you could spend your time analyzing your students achievement, and determining what areas you need to focus on. Work smarter, not harder!
  7. Math Workbook answers: As you walk around during Math work time, it might seem like most students are getting a problem right, but to know immediately, start a verbal mode test, and have students enter in their answer to a representative question. You don't even need to turn on your projector, as you just want a quick idea of how they are doing on the work. If a lot of people are struggling, you can either pull those students back to work with you, or stop independent work time and go back to working in a group.
  8. Student Feedback: Keep the students engaged by having them rate their fellow students as their present. One teacher is having students listen to make sure the students included at least 3 details about their topic. Just start a verbal mode for each student and make sure you keep notes of the order students went in.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Links For Marzano's Research about Smartboards

As I work on developing a method to assess how successful smartboards have been for the students of SLP, I have been reading up on Marzano's research. Here are some interesting links I've found about his research:

The Man Himself: Research reports from Marzano's research laboratory.

Review by Jonathan Martin: Looks at the various components of Marzano's research.

Article about research: This article does a nice job of summarizing the findings of Marzano's research.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Podcasting with Garageband for Educators

Here's a video with most of the information from the trainings I gave on Garageband

Another great guide for Garageband:

The Ultimate Guide to Garageband for Educators

Thursday, February 10, 2011

MOBI Creative Use #2: Reading

A third grade teacher uses the MOBI frequently. One way that she uses the MOBI is to highlight passages as she reads it to students. She can show her students her thinking as she reads the piece. The multiple colors and ease of marking help her engage and connect with students.


Scan in the passage.

  1. Open up the file
  2. Open IW and click on the Pen
  3. Change pen colors to engage and instruct


  1. Find passages online, and use those, rather than scan the pages in.
  2. Print out copies of IW file to give to students who were absent
  3. Allow students to read a piece that have already read before to the class and show their thinking as they read it.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Tech Tidbit: Bridge URL

Do you have a bunch of websites you want to share with students (or staff)? Try Bridge URL. Give your set of links a title, then copy and paste all the links into the box on the page (make sure you include the http://) and then hit create link.

It'll put your links into a series of pages that your students can click through by clicking on the arrows on either side of their web browser screen. Basically, it turns your links into powerpoint slides. Just give your students the web address that bridge url comes up with and they are good to go!

Check out this example. Enjoy!

Friday, February 4, 2011

10 quick tips for the Mac OS X and MacBook

1. Screen Shots

Simply Press the command key - shift - 4 (you can see an image of which key the command key is to the left. It is located to the left and right of your spacebar). Once you hold these three keys, your mouse will turn into a +, which lets you know that you are ready to take a screen shot. Hold your mouse button down, and then select the area you want to take a picture of. It's that easy!

2. Spotlight

Ever have a hard time finding that application or file? Located in the top right of your screen is a little magnifying glass. This magnifying glass is a great tool to help you find anything on your computer. When you click on the magnifying glass, you get a search textbox. Type in the file or application you are looking for, and it will list below a top hit, a definition, applications, documents and other files that apply to your search. A great tool to quickly find that missing file!

3. System Preferences

This is a very important tool on any computer. On a Mac, it is located in the Apple Menu. The Apple menu is accessed by clicking on the apple in the top left corner of your screen. Then you select "system preferences". Here you can change the settings of your screen saver, display settings, exposes and spaces settings, and lots of other tools.

4. Program Preferences

Another important feature. Almost every program on a Mac has preferences that you can change. For example, in Safari, if you click on the word Safari on the menu bar, and then select preferences you will be able to set things such as popups, saving passwords and changing your home page.

5. control - mouse click

If you hold the control key and then click you will get a drop down menu of a variety of options that you can do to that icon or in that program. Try it on an icon on your dock, a link or a picture on a webpage. You can copy links, save images and change settings with just control - mouse click!

6. command - tab

Command-Tab and Command - tilde (~) allow you to quickly switch between programs (command - tab) and switch between windows in a program (command - tilde). The tilde is to the right

7. The fn key

The fn on the lower left of your MacBook keyboard allows you to access a variety of tools. Right now, when you press f11, your sound is lowered. If you press and hold the fn key, and then press the f11 key, it will hide all your windows you have open.

Here is a list of things the fn + f keys do:

fn + f9: See all of your open windows
fn + f10: See all of your open windows in the program you currently are in
fn + f11: Hide all windows
fn + f12: dashboard widget

8. adding icons to your dock

The dock is a great way to quickly launch applications. But when you first get your Mac you might not have very many applications on it. To put applications on your dock, there are two different ways to do it.

  1. The first is to open up the application. You can do this by going to the applications folder and double clicking on the application you want to open. Then control - mouse click (see tip #5 for more information on this) on the icon in your dock. A menu will pop up. Go to options and select "keep in dock". When you quit the application, the icon will remain on your dock!
  2. The second way is to just drag that application's icon from your applications folder onto the dock. When it is ready to be added onto your dock, the icons will separate and when you release the icon, it will remain in your dock!
You can also add folders to you dock! You can only do this on the part of the dock next to the trash can. You can see that it is separate part of the dock because there is a dashed line. This is a great place to put a short cut to your documents or downloads, and have quick access to those files.

9. managing files
  1. Use Two Finder Windows - If you have a finder window open, go to File --> New Finder Window and you now have two windows. You can drag and drop files between these two windows, helping you keep your files organized.
  2. Compressing files - If you need to send 2 or more files to a colleague, you can "zip" them. Simply select the files you want to send, control - mouse click (see #5 above) it will create a new zip folder that is smaller, and has all of your files in it.
  3. "Places" - In the left hand pane of a finder window, you will see a list of folders under "places". You can drag any folders to that location and they will be a quick shortcut to that folder.

10. Printing to PDF

If you have a file that you want lots of people to be able to read, but don't want them to edit, you can save it as a pdf. Simple go to file --> print and then when the print window pops up, click on the button in the lower left labeled pdf and choose "save as pdf". It's as easy as that!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Delicious for Educators

Delicious is a social bookmarking website. Why would teachers want to use it?

1. It makes it really easy to share websites with colleagues
(A teacher at PSI asked for websites and resources for the lattice method of multiplication, so i created a tag on delicious called psi4 and sent her this link: Now anytime I add another bookmark with the tag psi4, it'll appear on that website)

2. You can find great learning websites on your home computer and easily share them with yourself at school

3. It can be easier to find websites for a educational topic than google or yahoo search

4. You can quickly and easily create a link to your delicious bookmarks for your students, no more messing around with rschool to put up links!

MOBI Creative Use #1: Spelling

A teacher an Aquila uses the MOBIs once a week to do a quick review of spelling.

Goal: Keep students engaged while reviewing spelling words.

Prep time: none


1. She connects the MOBI and opens up a new page in Interwrite Workspace
2. She hands the MOBI to a student. The rest of the students have their whiteboards from the HM Math Expressions program.
3. She says a spelling word. All students are expected to write it. The student with the mobi writes it on the MOBI.
4. The class compares their word to the word on the board.
5. The student makes corrections as necessary and passes the MOBI to the student sitting next to him or her.
6. The next student writes the word on another part of the screen.


1. Have students highlight (using the highlighter pen) parts of the word that are tricky
2. Have another student write another word related to the previous word (an antonym, synonym, homonym, capitonym, word family, root word, etc...)


If you have any other suggestions, add them in the comments below!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Great School and District Websites with Resources

Minot, ND Smartboard Lesson Wiki: Repository of Smartboard lessons based on Math Expressions and NWEA MAP math RIT bands.

NWEA MAP Reading Resources:A website from South Washington County linking to activities based on RIT Band on the NWEA.

Oswego: Great school website with flash games. Lots of math games.

Springfield, IL: Springfield's Technology Department website has a lot of information about the CPS clickers and MOBI systems.

Boston Public Schools OIIT - BPS's technology Department's website with some resources on the MOBI.

Wichita Public Schools - Smartboard Lessons

Woodlands Junior School - Links to great games, organized by math, literacy and science!

Springfield Township High School Libguide - Lots of great videos and links for podcasting, video making, mindmapping, wikis, blogs, and much more.

Center School District - Links to smartboard lessons created by Center, MO teachers.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tech Sites and Blogs you should be reading

Larry Ferlazzo's Website of the Day: You should be looking through his website for great resources for education. He is a ESL teacher by trade, but his resources tend to be applicable to any grade.

FreeTech4Teachers: An interesting blog that has links to interesting videos and webtools that are very teacher friendly, and very useful. Thanks MizJ for the link!

Teacher Training Videos created by Russell Stannard: A resource of videos created to teach teachers how to use various programs and websites.

Best Links for Smartboards and Mobis

Make sure you check out the Great Links for Teachers for more great tools that are specifically for Smartboards and Mobis.

All Subjects:

Smart Exchange: Website created by Smarttech for teachers to share lessons and activities that they created for use with the smartboard.

Mr. B's List: Great resource for websites that can be used with the Smartboard. It includes ratings by users of Mr. B's List so you can have some idea if it's going to be decent or not.

Teq Smart: A website that has a large number of Smartboard files. Great tools, for example a trash can, fractions slider, and other interactives. Look under learning Objects for a lot of fun objects.


Starfall Calendar: Great Flash calendar that can be used to talk about the calendar and can be modified to fit with your classes important dates.


Storyline Online: About 18 stories including Polar Express and Stellaluna, that are read by Screen Actors Guild Members. Includes a video of the actor reading it, and activities to go along with the stories.


BBC - KS3 Bitesize Science: Interactive videos narrated by a pleasing British voice. Fantastic science, and very engaging!

BBC - KS2 Bitesize Science: This is the primary grade appropriate version of the BBC Bitesize website. Has reading material, quizes and an interactive game for a number of scientific topics.

Social Studies:


ANAYA: Interactive flash games in spanish in a variety of languages broken into 6 levels, that roughly correspond with grade level. Links to each grade level: 1º de E. Primaria 2º de E. Primaria 3º de E. Primaria 4º de E. Primaria 5º de E. Primaria 6º de E. Primaria

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tech Tidbit: Tab Sidebar for Firefox

When you start really using the internet, particularly websites, you quickly find yourself with multiple tabs in your web browser with sometimes cryptic names. It can be difficult to quickly discern which tab you want. Here is a sidebar add-ons for firefox (which you can install without administrator access). It puts the tabs on the side of your screen instead of on top, and it also includes thumbnails of the page, so you can see what the tab is before you go to it.

Also, if you want to quickly switch between tabs (even if you don't install the sidebar tabs), hit option-command-left/right arrow.

Hope this helps!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How to link to PDF's (or other files) on an rschool website

Here in St. Louis Park Public Schools, we use rschool. While it does a great job of standardizing websites, it makes it hard to directly link to websites. Here are the steps to create a link (thanks Julie!):

1st. Copy the link (you have to right click on a PC or control-click on a Mac)

Here's my link that I copied:


As you can tell, that is not a correct url link yet.

2nd. Delete everything after the first .pdf. In this link that means the apostrophe to the semi colon.

Here's what I deleted:


3rd. Delete everything up to the /school###. In this case it starts with javascript and ends with ..

Here's what I deleted:


4th. Now you need to add the server name to the beginning of the link.

Here's what you have to add:

5th. Now you've got a working link. Here's what mine looks like:

Try it!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tech Tidbit: Spotlight on Macs

Have you ever lost a file on your mac? You know you saved it on your mac somewhere but you can't remember where. Spotlight is your friend in this case. It is a great feature that allows you to search your entire mac. Can't remember where Quicktime Movie Player is located? Hit the Magnifying Glass in the upper right corner of your screen and type "quicktime" into the text box. As you type it'll find files that match the letters you have type.

You can even put in simple mathematical phrases like "300 + 567" and it will give you the answer.

Hope this helps!

Great Webtools for Teachers

Prezi - presentation video creator
Taggalaxy - great pictures from Flikr. Read our review!
bridgeurl - create a slideshow of websites
podbean - post podcasts for free
wikispaces - free wikispaces for educators. See our wikispace!
delicious - a online, social bookmarking site.
wordle - create word clouds
jigsawplanet - create a puzzle out of a picture
blogspot - great place to host a blog
glogster - create an interactive digital poster
storyboard - create stories (students can do this)
dabbleboard - easy way to make webs, doodles and graphic organizers
google posters - gives some shortcuts and hints on using google apps
qwiki - uses wikipedia and pictures and graphics to create a short interactive video about a topic
twitter - a great way to connect with other teachers and share and find ideas.
watchknow - place for people to find and share videos from throughout the internet
Simple English Wikipedia - Have you ever wished that there was a simple version of wikipedia for younger children? Here it is!
Thinkfinity - a great website with lots of lesson plans and ideas that integrate technology into teaching.
Son of Citation Machine: quickly and easily create citation. create diagrams. Turns the notes you take on the website into flashcards.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Ten Minute Tech Training: Intro to Skype

This video will teach you everything from the 10 minute tech trainings from last week on Skype.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Tech Tidbit: Twitter, an educators best friend

Twitter can be an educators best friend. Already, I've found countless great links to educational research, resources for ed tech and ideas for teaching. On top of that, I'm building a great collegial group that is able to help find answers and provides me with ideas. It takes some practice becoming good at twittering though, and I won't claim I'm an expert, but here are some good ideas (many taken from will richardson):

1. If it's a twitter account for professional reasons, use your real name. You want colleagues to be able to find you by your name, and you want to be recognized for the contributions you post to discussions. However, if you plan on doing this, it would be good to read this blog post about blogging for educators, and modify it for twitter. Basically, don't badmouth your district, and don't post anything you wouldn't want your boss to see.

2. Look at the people you're following. Who are they following? Whose posts do they retweet that you find interesting? Start following those people. In this way you'll build up a bunch of valuable tweeters (is that a word?) rather than just Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher.

3. As a corollary to number 2, if you are following someone whose posts you just keep skipping, stop following them.

4. The @ symbol followed by a screen name means you are "mentioning" that person. It's a great way to send a post to someone that you think might be interested in your post. The # symbol (hashtag) means that people who are following for example #edu will see your post. I find some great ideas and links this way. Here's some more information about #hashtags.

5. Use a link shrinker to post a long link, like It shrinks a url down to about 12 characters, which is important since twitter only allows 144 characters per post.

6. Some great hashtags to follow: #edu #edtech #edchat.

7. Follow me or nate at twitter!

Some more links about twitter:

here's a great intro into twitter.
here's a ten step guide to twitter for educators.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Ten Minute Tech Training: iCal

This is a summary of the information I gave teachers at the Ten Minute Tech trainings on the week of January 3, 2011. Hope this information helps. If you have any more iCal resources, please feel free to share them in the comments below.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Tech Tidbit: Tag Galaxy

Tag Galaxy is a great resource for teachers and students to find pictures that tie into a subject area. It pulls pictures from Flickr. When you type in a search term(for example railroad), it will create a solar system with your search term as the sun, and related search terms as planets. Click on the sun, and it will create a "planet of pictures" which have been labeled with your search term. Click on a picture, and it will give you some information about the picture. Great fun, easy to use, and a great resource!

Additional Tech Tidbits