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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Daily Education & Technology News for Schools 06/29/2010




Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Monday, June 28, 2010

FourSquare Beginner's Guide at #iste10 with @web20classroom



Trying to share as much as I can with "Mile High Learning"

Here in the Social Butterfly cafe - some friends from Twitter congregated to teach beginners.  It is this hallway learning that are best.

Here, you can see beginners how to set up foursquare on their iphones, itouch, and Ipad and also overhear some discussions about the potential for location based apps and education.



I'll be posting another one on  Goalla . There is some discussion here of finding a location based company that would help us with setting up an educational space for this. This is something I'd really like to use on the Flint River project. for example, there is a place in the river where a sunken riverboat is and that can be seen when the water is clear - I CAN NEVER FIND IT! I want the kids to mark it with a comment.

There are huge privacy issues with location based programs which is why we need educational spaces to teach kids how to be safe. Remember, we can lead them or we can follow them and if they go into spaces without the education they will make mistakes. And perhaps more mistakes can be made in location based apps than with anything. Note that many of them are already uploading to Flickr with GPS tags without parent knowledge! Location based is everywhere and there are great educational uses.

Don't discount Foursquare and Gowalla because they are games within the games of today lie the useful technologies of tomorrow. Just learn how to do it so you can understand it and then leave it behind if you hate it. But understand it before you make up your mind.

Two best uses for these tools professionally:
1) Linking up at face to face professional development experiences. Check in and contact people and make connections more easily than sharing business cards.
2) Enriching field trips and community service - students can make tours of all types of things

It is also a lot easier than the gps type geolocation devices I've used. If you're at ISTE, find someone to help you get on foursquare!
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1:1 laptop implementation Session at #iste10



Sorry my PC was a slow boot and the ISTE wifi won't connect to my laptop, so it took a moment to take notes.  This session is with Mike Muir, Cyndi Danner-Kuhn, and Sam Farsali. Moderated by Alice Owen.


1:1 Laptop Implementation

Mike - "Do not do workshops around hardware and software training.  The research is clear if you train teachers how to do spreadsheets -- if you teach them how to analyze data - they go back and teach kids how to analyze data and do spreadsheets."

Cyndi - "Get rid of the network nazi's -- people who are IT people with no background in curriculum or education have no business making curriculum decisions."  (Those who have heard me speak know I agree with this.)

Mike- Leadership is everything - 4 characteristics of places where successful things are happen
1) Built a common vision together with the staff -- future looking - a student you care about now, what will they be doing?
2) Positive pressure and support
3) Provide opportunities for professional development (Can I easily find a tutorial that will show me answers - just in time PD for software.)
4) Celebration -- celebrate those who have made baby steps.

Sam - Feedback for opportunities - everything should not be top down -- from teacher's perspective what is working and what is not working.  Teachers, admin, students, and parents meeting weekly to talk about immediate and long term challenges. "Unless you solve your immediate challenges people will get frustrated and you will hit a brick wall."

Mike - A place where schools make mistakes is by not involving parents and students more. Involve the community.

Cyndi - K-5 grant everyone had a 1:1 laptop -- as they year went on -- did a parent training on laptops but the kids did the training. The kids trained other kid's parents (not their own) -- very proud moment. Got to show projects that they did. "Was the culminating event that won everyone over that this was the thing we should have done."

It was amazing the next year how much more parents were doing with technology at home and doing it with their kids.  She had another 1;1 program that didn't do much communication and the parents complained that they weren't using the laptops all the time all day in every class.  The parents have to understand that there is appropriate use.

Sam - "It is easy to forget about our parents and where they are, we tend to take for granted where our parents are."  He has more than 70 languages spoken in his community. They have to try to educate at that level. Safety is an issue. There are sites that kids shouldn't be visiting - teaching parents that they are still responsible. Retired people can be involved - they are voters - they have impact.  Send students to retirement homes and let them do projects so people can see what is happening. Then, you have people behind you and they are voters -- they are people you want to have behind you.

Mike - A great way to involve parents is send laptops home. Adult ed and Adult GED goes up according to the research in environments where the laptops are sent home. (it is a spillover affect from students!)

Sam - We've learned that 1 or 2 technology people cannot support this program - "get students involved."  Students can take laptops apart and put them back together in 10 minutes. The students have training and do this and they need those skills. The students are needed as contacts.  A second layer of support for technicians. Technicians don't directly deal with students but use the layer of student support as a go between. "That helps us dramatically and we learned this the hard way." 

Mike - "In Maine our biggest surprise was that breakage is inversely related to whether leadership have done those things and whether teachers are used to teach in interesting ways. If kids are having computers used in ways that are boring -- breakage and theft rates go up." (according to research Mike says.)

Note: If you have high theft and breakage rates in your 1:1 -- LOOK AT HOW THEY ARE TEACHING WITH IT!

Cyndi - "laptops will NOT make a bad teacher better" but can lead to more engaging learning

Sam - There is less breakage with laptops that are used every day. The more they are used, the less breakage that they have.  Whatever your internet bandwidth is -- double it.  The next year, double it again.  Consider for every 1-2 classrooms put in an access point if you put this in. An industrial strength access point. Shifting more of software from on the computer to cloud computing and this impacts internet access.  We've had more breakage with laptops than with netbooks - dramatic difference. Not sure why.

Mike - Learned about blocking sites our tools. The more you lock down what they have access to-- the more it becomes irrelevant to their lives and breakage goes up.  They don't let "anything go" in good programs. It is a strategic combination:
1)  teach teachers to use those tools for academic purposes,
2) have a filter but not a wildly overbearing one,
3) teach kids what is appropriate use,
4) teach your teachers to get up and walk around the room and see what the kids are doing.


This has been by far the best session on 1:1 laptop implementation I have ever seen. Here here to the presenters! Great work!

  




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Daily Education & Technology News for Schools 06/28/2010



  • Lots of incredible tools from Discovery education.

    tags: education, web2, learning, all_teachers

  • "Generation V is not defined by age, gender, social class or geography. Instead, it is based on achievement, accomplishments and an increasing preference for the use of digital media channels to discover information, build knowledge and share insights."

    Additionally the percentages that create content, contribute, etc. affects classroom and project planning. Do we allow students to "lurk"

    Findings about these Generation V segments:

    * Up to 3% will be creators, providing original content. They can be advocates that promote products and services.
    * Between 3% and 10% will be contributors who add to the conversation, but don’t initiate it. They can recommend products and services as customers move through a buying process, looking for purchasing advice.
    * Between 10% and 20% will be opportunists, who can further contributions regarding purchasing decisions. Opportunists can add value to a conversation that’s taking place while walking through a considered purchase.
    * Approximately 80% will be lurkers, essentially spectators, who reap the rewards of online community input but absorb only what is being communicated. They can still implicitly contribute and indirectly validate value from the rest of the community. All users start out as lurkers."

    tags: education, learning, web3d, virtualwords

  • This script from Dec 2009 was created by some Digiteen students in my classroom as they evaluated virtual worlds. I'll be referencing this on my presentation at #iste10 on Monday but am providing the detail for those who cannot attend the session face to face.

    tags: education, web3d, virtualwords

  • Federal Trade Commission found that 70% of virtual worlds allows access to objectionable material. This is consistent with some of what my students found.

    tags: education, learning, virtualworlds, web3d

  • Those who have GPS at ISTE can check in at the social butterfly lounge using foursquare.

    tags: education, iste10


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Advice for ISTE 2010: Pack it In #iste10 #iste2010



SEATTLE - JULY 01:  Janice Kim (L) of Seattle ...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
Here are a couple of tips for ISTE 2010 attendees.  First of all, if you're not going - follow the hashtag #iste10 and #iste2010 on Twitter to grab the ustreams and freebies that will inevitably come your way.  My firs #necc was attended that way. (Pre-twitter, though!)

This is a camping term but it has great value here. If you can be as autonomous as possible, you'll be better off!

1. Pack your food and water.
The lines are long and the food is expensive. You'll be busy. The best advice I can give you is to pack in your food and drinks. When we had ISTE in DC last year, we went to the local store and picked up drinks and snackbars for the day.  You just never know when you won't have time to eat or when you have a choice between a two hour line to eat or a one hour session that is really special!  If you've gotta have Starbucks, buy a cold one and put it in your bag!  Keep at least two bottles of water with you in your laptop bag. (Rolling laptop bags will be best!)

2. Pack your wifi
Last year, Jim Gates bailed me out when the wifi crashed.

WiFi at ISTE is like chocolate at a wedding shower- there is never enough to go around. This year, I have my mi-fi.  If you don't have it, that is OK, try to get the wireless but don't get so hung up on it that you cannot function without wireless. It WILL go down. 

3. Pack your chargers
If you need it, don't count on being able to find an electrical plug. They get better every year, but still having that Power Monkey or charger serves you well.

4. Pack your schedule
Schedule ahead of time as much as you can! Know where you want to go. Every year I reach a poing where I cannot think. It helps to have already put the items on my personal calendar that I want to attend. Usually I put it together and print it out!! (Just in case the charger or the wifi or the cellular service doesn't give me access to it.)


5. Clear Away from the Packed House
OK, this one is just for me. I'm a country girl and enormous crowds pawing for a morsel at the hors d'oeuvres table  just doesn't appeal. One of the most fun times I've had at iste was an impromptu dinner with just the random people who happened to be around me when we looked at the Atlanta Aquarium and just said we couldn't handle it! Of course, if everyone follows this advice (they won't) and it is clear - head on in.  Just think there is room for a little quality of life.

6. Pack in Your Shoes
I'm got a busy schedule and have to dress up every day but Saturday. But I promise you will see me in my running shoes.  When I get to my room, I'll change into my nicer shoes just so I don't offend anyone! ;-)

My first year at ISTE, I blistered the bottom of my feet so badly that I couldn't walk for four days and had nerve damage. I'm not kidding - you'll walk A LOT! More than you can imagine.  So, pack your tennis shoes and wear them the whole time.  If you cannot, the Band Aid Friction Block and/or liquid bandaids WORK WONDERS. I have both and since I found that handy tip, I have said by bye to blisters.

IF you cannot walk you cannot see the sights!

7. Pack in the People
We all have friends we miss and haven't seen. Spend time with them. But also make sure you take time to meet new people. Spread out and pack as many people in as you can. Take plenty of business cards or just a index cards with your blog on it. If you're planning to "meet" someone and want them to remember you - write a hand written note on the card about what you're hoping they'll take away from it. (I always appreciate and come back to these!)

I'll also give you a tip. Often if I meet someone at breakfast and see they have a presenters badge and they are doing something cool I can go to - I go -- relationships matter. Additionally, I look for people who I know will inspire me whether or not the title of the session appeals to me. Also, I'll go to a few sessions that just relate to what we're doing at school and the next step for us.

Don't overdo it but also remember that there are great sessions every day of the conference so push yourself to attend. I'm always very careful not to overdo myself in the evenings and sometimes just go back to the hotel. It is not to be rude - but I am just usually zonked from the day and have work to do on the next one!

8. Pack in and Pack Out
Sometimes the best gadget you bring to a conference is the one you leave at home! I'm not kidding.  Bare essentials. Take what you need and the chargers.  I have my Kindle (for the plane), iTouch (for schedule), MiFi (backup wireless) and small Camera for photographs and video as well as my laptop. Each person is different.

9. Pack in the Manners
We'll be in close quarters and by Wednesday a lot of us will be tired and (despite my advice) blistered and a little bit cranky.  Sometimes people come in cranky because they are jet lagged.

I always feel sad for those who have a need to "show out" because I think often they would never do that under normal circumstances. I try to give them distance and not be sucked into things. Drama can happen but I'm not there for the drama, I'm there to learn something. I'll share when it is my turn, but otherwise, I pray to never get so carried away with myself  that I won't listen to what others have to say. If I'm busy thinking about what I'm going to say next, I'm not listening. We're not in competition - this is the time for cooperation and learning.

So, be among the gracious, kind people who will be the salt and light of the conference with their manners. Some of the happiest moments at conferences are when these things happen, like Jim Gates helping me with the wifi -- a kind person in the exhibit hall who had just been where I was going and walked me there. 

Let's make this conference a place where we smile and pay forward random good deeds to one another and not look to see if they have any ribbons on their namebadge first.

10. Pack in the Thank You's
There are a lot of people who work hard to pull together this conference. Many say "yes, but it is there job," well there are many who volunteer and it is not "their job."  They just do it.  The presenters don't get paid unless they are doing a workshop and even then it is barely enough to cover the registration fee.  Pretty much most people there presenting except the spotlights and keynotes are there on their own dime or giving up vacation time or sacrificing their summer. Most presenters are thrilled to do it but it is a challenge.

So, when you like something - thank a person. When a volunteer is helpful -- say thank you!  If someone does a great job of including people who can't be there in person -- thank them! Let's make this a place where we learn but where we also learn what it feels like to be around people who are truly some of the best on the planet with technology! We're blessed to be there if we can attend and we're also blessed to be in a day and age that we can also still "look in" if we're not there in person!

So, if you are going to be there and care to pack me in your schedule - I've listed them below.

ISTE 2010
Citizenship, Gridizenship: Online Community Building for Self-Sustaining Safety [Formal Session : Panel] (50012999)
Scheduled: Monday, 6/28/2010,  8:30am–9:30am  (with internet safety expert Anne Collier, Bron Stuckey, and Marianne Malmstrom)

MF343L Digiteacher Workshop: Digital Citizenship within a Project-Based Learning Environment [Workshop : Lab-Based] (50085973)
Scheduled: Monday, 6/28/2010,  12:30pm–7:30pm (I think there is still room in this session - it is a project based learning session and we're excited! If you're not there, watch my blog for some streaming and elluminate sessions during that time frame.


BW301 Wonderful World of Wikis: Practical Classroom Wikis for All Ages [Formal Session : BYOL(s)] (50011006)   (This is already sold out! Adam Frey (wikispaces co-founder) and I do this together) - Who has heard of such?)
Scheduled: Wednesday, 6/30/2010,  8:30am–9:30am

Seven Steps to Flatten Your Classroom (Julie Lindsay and I)
[Formal Session: Lecture]
Wednesday, 6/30/2010, 10:30am–11:30am 
Learn how to globalize your classroom -- get there early for the intro where the audience participates! Going to be fun!




BW317 Bookmarks, PLNs, and More: Supercharge your Learning, Teaching, and Research [Formal Session : BYOL(s)] (50088331)
Scheduled: Wednesday, 6/30/2010,  1:30pm–2:30pm 
Note: Julie Lindsay is leading this session as I have to get the last flight out that will get me home Wednesday night for a commitment at church Thursday morning -- but it is going to rock. 


On a personal note:
Hope to see some of you there. I will say that I'm a lot more exhausted than usual due to quite a few heavy deadlines this week and children at every camp imaginable. I've climbed mount laundry more than a dozen times it seems in the past two or three weeks. All I can do is give my best! I'll see you soon!
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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Change



It was 96 degrees as I drove past the Bank of Camilla today to the post office to mail it in. Then, I got there to realize that the post office closes early on Wednesday. It always has and they still do.

So, I ran back to my sister Sarah's office and she's good friends with the FEDEX guy, so she called him and he came on over since he was in that part of town.

While I was waiting on him to get there, I took a look at the pages and wondered what would happen if I just took them and threw them away.  That's right.  

Threw them away

and just forgot about the last three weeks. All the mornings up at 5 am and writing until 5 pm and yesterday's 19 hour binge of writing.

What if I just pretended it never happened?

I want to savor this moment. Not because it feels good but because it doesn't.

I've always glamorized authors - they are my heroes.  Many bloggers are too. Not because they are super human, but because somehow they write things that can travel across centuries and millennia and miles and grip my soul right here in Camilla, Georgia in 2010. 

When I started off blogging, it wasn't really threatening to me.  My RSS feeds started off with zero subscribers, then jumped up to three and then for a good three or four months I had 7 subscribers.  I thought of it -- seven people in the world that were delivered my blog posts when I wrote.  Oh, the joy! I wrote to those seven like they were my dearest friends and in many ways, they were, one sided conversation though it be sometimes.  I imagined someone in Pakistan coming in from the heat to turn on their computer and see the blog post I had just written after a late night in Camilla. It was intriguing.

Change is tough. Putting yourself out there is hard.

Some people will like you. If you're lucky some people will love you.  But you'll also have some who really don't care for you and most who just don't care.  That is the way it is.

I see books on my Kindle now differently.  I wonder about the author.  Did the book change their life in any way? Do they realize that I'm reading it and enjoying the book? Do they know when someone things they've done well?

When I write a blog post people like or hate, I know pretty quickly! YOU TELL ME.  But when there is something in a book - how does that get to you? I think the Kindle highlighting will tell whether people are reading and highlighting but that is still such a small group of people.  How do you know?

This is a reflection for my future self as much as it is for you.

Because change is hard. It brings with it uncertainties and fears.  Fears of failure but sometimes even fears of success.

My husband says that the only people who like change are babies and even then, they cry the whole time.

But there is one sure thing... not trying = change  anyway!

Life Lessons from a Wise Farmer
In fact, my Dad, a farmer, always says, you're either getting better as a person or getting worse. Getting smarter or yes, getting dumber.  Getting fatter or getting fitter. In his world of plants and animals he knows that stasis pretty much doesn't exist in the real world of living organisms.

So, you are, in fact going to change. Period. You don't have a choice.

Either you're going to improve or get worse.  It is your choice.

So, my friends, I'm turning up my vitamin water and turning in my manuscript. Change, here's to you.

Photo Credits
xJasonRogersx Photo Stream - Coins - http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2539/3824486278_7df8d71fe3.jpg

PS. Did you hear Amazon dropped their price on the Kindle to $189?

Daily Education & Technology News for Schools 06/23/2010



  • Jennifer Wagner shares a very nice and "on the money" post about what she'd do if she were going to ISTE. IT is a great read for someone going to any conference. I think many of us feel this way, Jennifer. Kudos on a great post.

    tags: education, iste, iste2010

  • A great project for teaching digtal storytelling, history, and writing.

    From their homepage:

    "The mission of MY HERO is to use media and technology to celebrate the best of humanity and to empower young people to realize their own potential to effect positive change in the world.

    Our freely accessible, not-for-profit project is supported by visitors of all ages who share stories, art, and short films on our award-winning multimedia journal and digital library.

    Teachers use our programs in schools, libraries, after-school workshops, and in community and media centers around the world."

    tags: education, digitalstorytelling

  • The reflections from Stephen Downes on the 7 Tips to Analyze the Formula of your Life are worth reading. He begins

    "There's an old song from The Smiths that runs something like this:


    In my life
    Why do I give valuable time
    To people who don't care if I live or die ?


    And I think the essence of 'personal learning' (or maybe I should expand the concept, and talk about 'personal living') is captured in this...."

    What a great read. This just shows how one thing leads to another in this amazingly interconnected world!

    tags: education, productivity, learning

  • This is a fascinating approach to teaching. This teacher used the blog to write things that may or may not be true and the students had to respond. What a challenge to the students!

    Truth be known, in reality, we all make mistakes and none of us is right all of the time. This teacher just put that on the table and it welcomed disagreement from the students. Take a look at this blog!

    tags: education, learning, blogging

  • Do, you just have SMS text messaging (like me) - well there are things you can do via SMS. Of course, I use my itouch now that I have a MiFi modem in my pocketbook, however, I teach all of my students how to google search using SMS so that they can find addresses and define words via SMS.

    tags: education, celled, cellphone

  • Right now, the iPad is being hailed as the best mobile device for the blind because it has voice enabled navigation. This article discusses the iPad, the Kindle and accessibility issues and information on both.

    tags: education, accessibility, differentiation, edu_trends, bestpractices

  • It is no surprise that professional development improves student achievement. This incredibly well written piece is something to use and give to those who think that cutting teacher professional development is the first thing that should happen when budgets tighten. A great PDF to give your school board.

    tags: education, research, professionaldevelopment


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Google Docs Upgrade Hits: 7 Things I Noticed in the First 15 minutes



OK, Julie and I have a monstrous deadline tomorrow and I've just given you a sneak peak.  Well, not intentionally. But as we were working on an important document for this, I went in and the document "hiccupped" for a moment.

Julie Lindsay, in China at well after midnight said,

"Wow, I just got the strangest error as I went into the doc."

Then, as we started using comments and editing, we realized that we had just seen an upgrade happen to Google Docs AT THAT MOMENT. (At least to our accounts - sometimes this sort of thing is distributed so you may not have it yet.)

I don't have time for everything but here are a few things I noticed in the last fifteen minutes:

7 Things Under the Hood of the New Google Doc Upgrade



  1. Improved Commenting: Boxes, Replies, Archiving, Deleting
    When you comment it is now shown in a balloon on the right hand side of the document in your particular color. If you click the return arrow, it inserts a response in the same baloon with your user id attached. You can also delete the comment and it does go in revisions (I checked.)
  2. Improved Editing: Pushpins
    As you edit, the other collaborators see a little pushpin with your name and what you're adding. This lets you see where they are working and is very cool.
  3. Even more Instant.
    Julie was in China and I am here in Camilla, Georgia. The delay we've noticed before in Google docs just wasn't there.
  4. Google Drawings.
    is now there as an option under new. (Was this there before?)
  5. Page View.
    Instead of seeing Google Docs full screen, it is now showing in a default page view and looks more like the default page view in Microsoft Word.

  6. Table of Contents.
    I've noticed other things like "Table of Contents" under insert, which may have been there before, maybe I didn't notice.
  7. Footnotes.
    Yes, Google Docs has footnotes. This could, perhaps, mean you could now type a term paper in Google Docs. If this is indeed so, it will be a huge win in the academic market for Google.
Now, there are probably more things under the hood, but these are the things I noticed just now.  Back to my deadline!

And if you want to get book announcements from me, just sign up for the book announcement(s) - I know it says ClickSmart but at this point, I have two books in the hopper. You'll just receive an announcement when it is ready or getting ready. One book is about global collaboration that I'm co-authoring with Julie Lindsay and the other is about the special method of teaching software and technology that I use in my classroom that is non-application centric.

Again, some of you may have had this a long time a go - however, I've been hibernating for about four days now and in my Google docs - it just happened to me!


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Monday, June 21, 2010

Apology



I may have just accidentally republished 65 of my posts about wikis when I was trying to re-label them for the side of my wiki. I'm so sorry if I did. Just mark all of them as read and know that I won't make the same mistake twice.

I'm working so hard to try to get this thing finished up and am just about done. Am going to finish the labels later and work on Julie's and my Flat Classroom book for the next three days straight!

I hope you will accept my apology for the Feed reader error! Thanks in advance.

7 Ways to SuperCharge Your Blog or News Out to Your Friends and Followers



Sharing the news from your organization, classroom, or just your personal writing is easier than ever using RSS (Really Simply Syndication.)

There are some very easy tips to make sharing easy.

Remember, in many ways the web is distributed and people are sharing in a wide variety of places everywhere. Many organizations make the mistake of marketing to the principal or the board or the most vocal. Just because your leaders are there doesn't mean everyone else is.  It is all about who you're linking with and you should go where they are.  That is what these strategies help you do.

1) Set up a Blog
This is the backbone of your sharing strategy and with most blogs like blogger (which I use), wordpress, edublogs, typepad comes RSS. It is an automatically generated "feed" that allows you to send your blog just about everywhere and make your life simple.

If you want to write a blog but are scared, use something like posterous which just lets you email the service and the blog is set up for you! (If you send an email to post@posterous.com and you've just started blogging.)

2) Improve Your RSS Feed with a Feed Manager
2A. Remix the Feed
My Feed "Chicklet"

Most blogs have generic RSS code, but if you want to remix it, put it on your organization's website and add enhancements, I like using FeedBurner (now owned by Google)- in simple terms, this means that if you change blogging services that you can easily move your subscribers from one blog to another and once they subscribe they are "yours." I use feedburner but there are other services out there.

Note that if you do this, that you should go into your blog settings and redivert your blog to the one feed through feedburner if you want an accurate count of subscribers. Otherwise, if you don't care, don't bother.  Reference: Alternatives to Feedburner

Build Bridges to Your Other Websites through Automation
2B. Republish it as HTML onto your websites
The most useful tool to me is the "Republish as HTML."  If you look at my school website (www.westwoodschools.org) - you'll see that I used this on the homepage.  So, it takes the school news blog - summarizes the top few posts and then turns it into HTML which can then be posted on any web page.  This is great because you don't have to install fancy web editing software, if someone wants to update their web page, set up a blog on blogger, set up a feed on feedburner, republish as HTML and put it onto your webpage.  Reference: Save Time Webmaster! Use RSS Feeds

2C. Pick the right "size" feed
One tip on remixing your feed is that unless you're publishing as HTML, publish it as a FULL FEED.  This was reiterated on John Chow's post five days a go "How I Broke 100,000 RSS Readers." A full feed means that everything goes through.  People who think they have to get people to go to their website often only give a partial feed. (This is often done by those who drive their readership through an advertising model which shouldn't relate to most educational bloggers, schools, or nonprofits.)

2D. Make it insanely easy to subscribe
Your chicklet should definitely be "above the fold" (the part of the page that loads first called that because of the top fold of newspapers) - you can see mine on my blog is in the top right corner - I've had it in the top left for most of the time. Make it easy! Make it prominent! Definitely put it near an email subscription box!

Don't put a ton of widgets and such as that can make your page load more slowly. If you have a lot of ways for people to subscribe, then make a Subscription page like I have that has more information. I've seen this done on many sites like mashable.

2E. Provide frequency options
I've just now created an option for a weekly summary delivered via inbox. For many, daily is just too much of anyone! (How many people call their parents daily?) So, create a daily, weekly, and perhaps even a monthly option if you wish. If you do less than monthly, because of how often emails change, you may find that you're losing subscribers because of having so many inactive emails.


3) Syndicate Your RSS Feed
RSS is great, but I find that very few people have an RSS reader but have heard that over 60% of us check our email daily.  You've got to get into email as another option.

3a. Give multiple ways of letting people pull your information into their "attention zone"
Now, Feedburner has a built in email service, however, it doesn't have more advanced features like being able to customize the URL and some pretty handy things, so I use feedblitz.  If you see my "subscribe" page, you can see how feedblitz not only takes my feed and allows people to subscribe via email, but they can also get a twitter direct message, an instant message, a Skype or other notification when this blog updates.  I for one, use an RSS reader, but it is important to realize that we are a very distributed web and you want to reach people where they are, so, I'd recommend feedblitz. (See the sample at the bottom of this section.)

3b. Don't be a spammer
The other feature of feedblitz is that it automatically makes sure you are complying with the CAN-SPAM Act but it also lets you import an existing list of people into it - which means you can move over that list from your email.  If you're sending out emails to more than 50 people from your inbox, very likely, you'll end up on a blacklist on some server for spamming and then you have real issues. I'd definitely consider the move. The last thing you need is to not be in compliance because someone is unhappy with you! Don't SPAM!

Again, take the responsibility to wisely use your channels - OVERPOSTING is a common reason people unsubscribe. However, if it is useful and they reap benefit, it isn't spam. Spammy-ness happens when you abuse the privilege and honor of people's twitter streams and inboxes! It also happens when people don't have the choice to unsubscribe. Life changes and so must our inboxes and feedreaders.

3c. Let Friends Be Your Bullhorn
Feedblitz also has an option that you can have people automatically tweet out that you've updated your blog or news service and  or it will put it on their facebook wall. This is especially important for charitable organizations that have infrequent announcements.

3d. Add Accessibility by converting to audio automatically
Feedblitz has also added automatic Talkr syndication (their site was down this afternoon, but last time I checked it was working) which means it can automatically convert your blog feed to AUDIO. This is so easy (and free) it is a must do. For educators who believe in including everyone, come on and make your blog and news accessible!

3e. Reward and Remind
One advantage of having email newsletters is that you can offer special incentives to those who subscribe over email and a bit more "privacy" in some ways as you are in their inbox. You can schedule special posts that don't go out over your blog from the feedblitz console, so this is perfect for schools.

Sample of Feedblitz Weekly Subscription Option for this Blog

Note: I'm testing some of these new options, so if you test it, please email your feedback to vicki@coolcatteacher.com - I'd appreciate it!
 

4) Automatically Post to Twitter and Facebook When You Blog
Let people know that you're updating what you're doing without having to remember to use ping.fm or update on twitter or facebook.  I use twitterfeed for this, but don't let the name fool you.  If you'll take your feed into Twitterfeed, you can have it send out Twitter messages when you update automatically.  I use this to send messages from cool cat teacher but also to @flatclassroom when we update our blog and @digiteen as well.

You can also use twitterfeed to send out your facebook updates and I have started doing this as a SEPARATE feed from the one for Twitter in Twitterfeed and disconnected Twitter from facebook. If you do it separately, it will post the title and the first several hundred characters of your post which is better for you because most people don't take the time to click the links. (As an aside, I'd also recommend linking your twitter account to friendfeed as well so you can share in a lot more places when you automatically send out your information.)

Additionally, note that you can link your Twitter account to almost any site such as Linked In and if your organization or you are there, you should do that. Link everywhere and anywhere appropriate for your audience. If it is free and it can be automated - go there!

5) Kindle It
This option may not be for everyone, but I've got a few Kindle subscribers to this blog. Most Kindle'rs I know have 6-8 feeds in their Kindle (or none at all.)  It is as simple as setting it up on https://kindlepublishing.amazon.com/.  Yes, they do have to pay for it and you'll get a couple of dimes for each subscription, however, it is another way to share your information.


I like to think of my kindle as my "media diet" as Mark Hurst says in his book Bit Literacy (one of my favorite digital productivity books, by the way) and so I usually read everything in my Kindle blog list daily or at least every other day. It has made a difference in my life and is much more manageable than my rss reader of several hundred blogs.


The Kindle reader blog list should be a coveted spot and if you're publishing 3-5 times a week minimum, people may pay to have it delivered. (Also note that the iPad has feed readers, so people can get it for free and they can read it for free in the kindle browser, however it is just a different reading experience.)


6) Make It Go Mobile
This is for a little more advanced users and I have to admit, I'm right in the midst of doing this on my blog, however, creating a mobile version of the site is pretty simple if you know some CSS. Some of these sites will do it without that knowledge, but I've been trying Mobify and that one definitely requires you to know how to hand code CSS.  Reference: How To Create or Convert a Site to a Mobile Format

We've updated our PowerSchool at the school and it comes automatic with a mobile interface. School SIS systems should have mobile access for small screens, it is just the way it is going and we need to syndicate for mobile.

7) Make Widgets
This is for more advanced and I wouldn't really recommend it for those who aren't as comfortable with a little more advanced tweaking.  Widgets are the little boxes on websites, like the Twitter box on the right side of my blog and shown below.






Add this widget to your blog and share the content from this blog wherever you are posting. Additionally, the one shown below can be shared and shows content from this blog.

This lets you mix up your Twitter, Youtube, and Feed, and any other place you share in one easy to embed widget that you can put anywhere -- your website, your facebook page.  This is another way to make things simple.  Additionally, people who are trying to keep their site updated can embed your widget (if you allow it) so they can keep their content fresh. I use Widgetbox and like it, but the pro version does have an expense.

Note: Before you go purchasing widgets, check in your blogging software to see if they have already made a widget that will do what you want. The only issue with this is that often these widgets cannot be moved off of your blog and you'll want to share this.
    








Really, these are good, honest ways you can do to "get the word out" about your school, class, organization, or what you're writing on your blog. I do not recommend "astroturfing" which is where you pretend to be someone else to improve your ratings in stores or anywhere - that is just unethical! 

Good luck and please, I beg you to share your favorite tools to syndicate RSS in the comments. A good blog post includes good comments and there are so many more things out there than I use! Thank you!
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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Daily Education & Technology News for Schools 06/20/2010




Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Rennovating this Blog: Seven Goals as I Re-look at my Blogging



About every year and a half, I give my blog a facelift. I've been working on it today but it is late and I'm not going to be done.

I will say that the new blogger template is so good, that I did get rid of the almost completely hand coded site. I still have a lot of custom html that I wrote in the side widgets, but blogger does now have "pages" which looks a bit like wordpress. And it has more templates and functions a little more like weebly on the back end.

Anyway, I haven't finished reinstalling the disqus comments and may just go back to blogger, although I had many times that people reported that the blogger comments didn't show. Right now the many disqus comments aren't showing, but I will figure out how to get them back up on here, I'm just too tired tonight.

Also doing some things to improve the speed and improve my statistics on the back end.  When I do this, I dissect many of my favorite blogs and emulate some of the tips and tricks "under the hood."  When I see if these things work for me, I'll be sure to clue you in.  For now, just wanted you to know I'm working on things and if you have any feedback, thoughts, or suggestions, I'm all ears!

Thank you to all of you who make this blog a joy.  It is always wonderful to blog because you all "blog right back at me" in the comments and teach me.  Thank you so much for making this such a great place to share.

This Year's Goals of My Blog Redo
For me, my primary goals are:
  1.  A cleaner, more updated look to the blog
  2. Faster load time by getting rid of the extra items in the sidebar
  3. Use of pages so information on subscriptions, me, and contact me is easier to find
  4. A cute "Twitter" type app on the homepage (I made with widgetbox.)
  5. Better statistics tracking so that I can respond to your tweets, links, etc. - Technorati just doesn't work any more, so I'm testing some new stat tracking services.
  6. Relooking at all of the code to make sure that it is all necessary.
  7. I'd like to use the categories and carve out feeds for different categories for those who may just want to pull out one primary topic here. This may take some time and probably won't happen until July.
When Will I Go to a Domain Name?
Every time I redo this, I have people tell me I need an "official" domain name.   I do own www.coolcatteacher.com and have my information posted there, however, from my days with search engine optimization - it is almost impossible to change a URL without losing links and traffic. It is just what happens. I know lots of great bloggers have done it, but I don't have the energy nor time right now to move, so I'm staying put here.

How about WordPress?
I know that wordpress has tons more features and most people think that is for serious bloggers. However, for me, I'm staying here and just doing some hand coding. It is not for everyone, but for me, it is working just fine.

Any other thoughts or suggestions that have worked for you?

Now, if I can just figure out how to add Tweet meme at the top of my post again, I'll be happy!

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7 Tips to Analyze the Formula of Your Life



Who are you?
You are a sum total of how you spend your seconds, your minutes, your hours, your days.

Improving behavior starts by understanding that formula.

There are few surprises at the end of the year academic and athletic banquets.  As teachers, we see the students who are there early in the morning to work out or stay late to work on a project.  It is interesting, because often it seems students are genuinely surprised at those who "get" all state or "highest  academic achievement." They think it is "not fair."

Perhaps they are too close to see the extra hours and time put in by those who accomplished so much. Maybe they were too close to see?

There are few surprises in life.

Who are we?
We are a sum total of how we spend our seconds, our minutes, our hours, our days.

Improving behavior starts by understanding that formula.
LONDON - NOVEMBER 16:  In this photo illustrat...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
It is no wonder that Edison invented the light bulb. After all, he created so many ways of NOT inventing the light bulb!  He spend his days immersed in that problem and with the solution dawned a new age of illumination.

The inventions of Edison's life emerged from the formula of how he spent his life. Sometimes we have to not look at the results we are getting at this moment but know that our formula is taking us closer to the pinnacle as we trod upon rocks which lead us in that direction. It was Edison who said:

"Many of life's failures are men who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up"

There are few surprises in life.

Who am I?
I am a sum total of how I spend my seconds, my minutes, my hours, my days.

Becoming more.  Being more.  Achieving more begins by understanding that formula.

If I wish to be something different, simply understand the formula of how others who have accomplished that thing spent their lives. How did they use their minutes? If I consistently follow the formula of their lives, it will be no surprise that I will experience similar results. If I also reach into myself and to my Maker to seek out the purpose for my life then I can establish the patterns that will allow me to reach that success.

As I've read Focal Point by Brian Tracy, this is the hard realization that I've come to. 

The things I don't like about myself are the result of ways I've spent my time that are not good. The things that have gone well are also the result of actions - actions I must continue if I wish to get those results.


Take a Hard Look at the Minutes to See the
Destination of Your Life

This summer, I'm looking at my goals - writing them every morning on my mini-planner. I'm logging my time to see how I'm spending it.  Each morning, I'm prioritizing what I am doing based upon the goals and values that are important to me. A clear picture is emerging that I'm spending time on some things that are not important to me that will need to be out of my schedule.

The Waterfall of Life

For life is a bit like this waterfall on Deep Creek that we tubed past last week.  The longer if flows, the harder it is to change the course.

Is this a concession point?
There are also points of concession.  These are the ledges of life, that if you fall over - you cannot go back.  I am still running. I know that at some point if and when I stop, I'll never be able to run again.  Conceding can be permanent and we have to be realists with ourselves to realize if we are yet ready to concede that aspect of our lives. This can also happen in jobs as well - you can reach a point of no return where you have to move on.


7 Tips to Analyze the Formula of Your Life
Here are some suggestions that I've gleaned from Focal Point and several other books that have helped me:

  1. Every evening, write down the things to do the next day WITHOUT priority.

    (I review Toodledo which serves as the place that holds everything on my master list - but I have a daily list WRITTEN DOWN -- paper doesn't have to 'boot up.')

  2. Every morning, write your top 10 goals for your life.

    Rewrite them. Improve them. Look at them. Read them aloud sometimes.

  3. Then, prioritize the task list for the day.

    (The FranklinCovey method words well where high priority has "A", next "B", lower "C" and then task order 1,2, 3, 4.)

  4. Start working with the first task and move down.

  5. Log your time.

    I have an appointment list but also have a page where I log how I spend my time each day and then add it up at the end of the day by several categories. 

    For me, it is "fitness", "learning," "family," "money," "writing," "cleaning," "legacy" and "spiritual." (Legacy includes the things important to me like flat classroom and our conferences that help others.)  This shows me the FORMULA of how I spend my time.

  6. Review your day and make decisions.

    Ask yourself, "If I spend every day like today -- what will I be like in 10 years... 20 years.. at the end of my life?  Make decisions about how you need to change and what you need to learn and immediately start reading a book or blog or resource to help you in that area.

  7. Designate Your "Hour of Power"

    Designate an hour for the things that are most important to you. If you can't have an hour... take 10 minutes. It is better than nothing. For me, I have "fitness hour" "learning hour" and "family hour" where I completely focus on that one thing and I start every day reading my Bible. (Brian Tracy calls the first hour of your day your "launching pad.") No, I don't have the time. But I am looking hard at how I'm wasting my time to "coach myself" into letting some things go and refocusing.
Do I do this? Yes!!
This has been a work in progress for me, however, I will say that because of these seven tips --  today, my children and I have spent time planning a special weekend for my husband.  My son just made homemade peach ice cream (here's the recipe - cut sugar by 1/2 a cup fyi), my youngest son and I had a great time at the grocery store as he shopped for the ingredients for a special meal he is preparing for Kip, my daughter and I laughed together as we looked at a video with her favorite werewolf and vampire. ("Doesn't he wear a shirt?") This comes from focusing on what is important.  I was still able to get a lot of "work" done as well as some more on that book Julie and I are working on about global collaboration.

When my son made the peach ice cream, he followed a recipe and it made peach ice cream. So, I must seek wise advice from people who've worked through it already to determine the actions to help me succeed. And should there be something I master, I should also share that with others who would like to learn in that area.


You can do it!
This is an encouragement to you... if you're not getting out of life what you want --look at what you're putting in to your life.  We all have the same 24 hours and although we all have different gifts and talents, we all have a purpose.

Perhaps we are surprised at how things turn out because we are too close?  Because we feel we are doing all we can? Because we are giving all we have and have nothing left at the end of the day?

Sometimes we have to pull back and look at the big picture to realize that truly life is a formula and in reality, there are very few surprises. We can see it in the lives of others but have to sit back and look at it in our own.


Don't be surprised... analyze!


Citations


Jean Baptist- Paris - Tetris Calendar - http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeanbaptisteparis/3946835760/




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Daily Spotlight on Education 06/19/2010




Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.
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