I've moved the blog!

I've moved my blog to www.coolcatteacher.com as well as all of the posts from this blog. Learn more...

Thursday, October 24, 2013

5 reasons I’m moving from Blogger to WordPress and how I did it

Visit my new blog at www.coolcatteacher.com.  Here's more about the move...

It is official, I'm moving from Blogger to Wordpress. It has taken almost 4 months but it is as ready as it is going to get. I've powered up the wordpress over at coolcatteacher.com and made the jump from weebly. (nothing against weebly, it is a great place for static sites.)
I thought some of you might want to know why I am moving and also how I did it:
Moving coolcatteacher from Blogger to wordpress
My new blog is on Wordpress using the Get Noticed theme. I've still got some tweaks to do (like the twitter and other icons running across my head on the top right) but it is good enough to make the swap

Why am I moving from Blogger to Wordpress?

First of all, the decision to move is a very hard decision for many reasons. The time it has taken and the learning curve are two big reasons. Plus, it is very easy to really mess up the old site I've spent so much time building.

1. Wordpress has more add ins and flexibility.

I reached the point several years a go that I was having to do a lot of hand coding in HTML on Blogger just to get it do the basics. I even bought 2 different Blogger themes and installed them only to have one break and the other never even work. So, I settled on a standard theme, but I still wasn't pleased with my blogger blog. Images were running off blog post and I found myself fighting at the code level with many posts instead of focusing on good writing. I appreciate all that Google has done with the Blogger platform - it is very stable and has so many great features that are wonderful for beginners. I just got tired of trying to write everything in HTML.

2. I'm concerned about Google's new Terms of Service

Google's new Terms of service   is pretty questionable as it relates to claiming ownership to what you write on your blog. I have a sign by my bed cross stiched by my high school guidance counselor:
"A good name is to be had before great riches."
While it is an easy way to be poor, I guess, it is good advice. With the new terms of service anything written on Google plus (or on the blogger blog as I interpret the TOS) can be used in an advertisement that Google shares using my photo and what I said.
Right now, I'm leaving my content here, but I've imported every post to the new site and if Google makes me take everything down but this post because of some crazy endorsements or something, that is what will happen. To take our faces and "endorsements" and turn them into ads without our consent or fair compensation is over the line and is a slippery slope which Facebook first started when they started showing friends who liked a page. (You can turn off Google's shared endorsements by following these instructions.)
Cool Cat Teacher on blogger
I've been using blogger since 2005. This is a hard move to make, but is one that needed to happen. Moving from blogger to wordpress was challenging but I will show you how I did it.

3. Free can cost you everything: pay for valuable services

Every March, Google pares down on products that don't make them money.  Blogger is free. But there is no such thing is free.
But more importantly, every March, I've started wondering, "when is it going to be Blogger." While it is one of the top blogging platforms - it is free (unless you purchase a domain name) and I have little or no control over outages or problems. There have been times a blog post did extremely well where you might have had trouble getting to the site. Now, I pay for my site and all of that is under my control. Yes, it is costing me money and I'm going to have to hoof it to do some more freelance writing and a tad more advertising, perhaps (not a big fan of ads, just a few).
Free is free. I'm convinced that "free" is an excuse for no customer service and I'm willing to pay for any service I depend upon. I would have paid for Google Reader to stay around as well. But the fact is that if I have a problem on blogger, it is my problem. Google is required to give no customer service and can always argue back "but you're not paying for it - we're giving it to you (wait for it, breathe in) FOR FREE." Gifts don't happen and free doesn't either. Services always cost you something - they always do.

4. Time to move on

I've always resisted the pressure to move "because that is what real bloggers do" just because the traffic on blogspot is so incredibly high. But, there are times you just have to make the move because it is the right thing to do.

5. Coolcatteacher.com won't be blocked in schools like Blogspot

Blogspot blogs are blocked in many schools. Hopefully I can reach more teachers where they are every day instead of having to be read at night or on weekends. That said, many schools depend on the "white list" approach which means someone has to ask for a blog to be read. I'd appreciate if you are one of those people who recommends my blog to others, if you'll check and ask for it to be available at school. Many of you tell me that you do recommend my blog, and for that, I"m very grateful for your trust.

Moving from Blogger to Wordpress in just a few steps

Step A: Purchase domain name and establish ranking in search engines (2-3 years a go)

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 10/23/2013

  • Very interesting tool to use for your classroom that sort of turns your ipad into a document camera/ presenter tool. It has already won several awards in the Apple app store. You might want to take a look at this if you're 1:1 ipad as an option to get rid of document cameras or not buy them at all. Very cool

    tags: education news edu_newapp

  • This app is Life Noted and merges camera, video, notetaking and more. It was recommended to me as a notetaking/ capturing tool for observation in the classroom by teachers of students, but I think that anyone evaluating another person might benefit from this sort of tool. Capture your notes and the speech about the notes and share it. Very interesting idea. It is free right now.

    tags: education edu_newapp time management news

  • If you're using mindmapping and brainstorming in the classroom, this list from Mashable is updated and useful. There are a lot of new tools out (many of them paid but some not.) If your students are writing collaboratively, you should have them brainstorming collaboratively before they ever type the first letter of the paper or website.

    tags: education news mindmapping tumblr

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

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Join the elementary art project that will help the world be more grateful #creativitymatters

The EveryArtist Live! Project
EveryArtist Live! November 21. Creativity matters as we focus on the worldwide art project of gratitude. Sign your students up today.
On November 21, 2013, Everyartist Live! will have an exciting project for all elementary students.
Here’s how it works.

Elementary Art Project Theme


How to prepare for this art project:

Visit the website and view videos about the event, creativity, and this year’s theme. Your students don’t need Internet access, but if they have it, they’ll have more places to create.

What will happen:

Teachers, parents, or mentors will upload the gratitude-themed art through the app (to be launched in November) or via the website.

What will happen with the artwork?

Share your artwork with the world on November 21 in the EveryArtist Live! Art Project Photo credit: iStock Photo
Share your artwork with the world on November 21 in the EveryArtist Live! Art Project Photo credit: iStock Photo
The artwork will be displayed in two places: online and at your school as you choose to do it.
Student Art On the Website: The online art work will be displayed for many to see. Student work is only shown by first name last initial (or pseudonym). Adults control the names, so those are set up by the adults uploading the work.
At your school: Display the art as you see fit. Some schools are lining hallways and others are displaying outside. There are so many ways to get creative.

How does this align with what you’re doing in November?

Gratitude fits perfectly with the celebration of the US Holiday of Thanksgiving.
Remember that this is also an important opportunity to help students get creative and be involved with their parents in the conversation about art and gratitude. What a great cross curricular project!

What does this cost?

This project is free for anyone, but you’ll need to sign up at https://signup.everyartist.me/. Parents, teachers, and caregivers will be the adults uploading the artwork to protect the privacy of the kids.

Why are they doing this?

Here's the interesting part of the story. If you want to learn more, you can look at the website, but for me, when I decided to come on board and tell their story was when I read their profile on kickstarter. The profile talks about the founding artist Brendan O'Connell and his story. I'll quote:
That’s why we call ourselves Everyartist.me.  We are the story of Brendan O’Connell, Artist – and of Brendan’s vision to democratize that creative experience to kids everywhere.
Brendan is a professional artist.
He believes he was born to make art.
He earns his living as an artist.
Brendan was lucky enough to grow up with a strong support system that helped him develop his creativity into becoming a painter.  That support sustained him as he honed his craft as an artist on the streets of Paris.  Tough times, but Brendan knew art was what he was destined to do.
He became an artist despite being told as a child that art was not something he was good at.
That was misguided advice, and Brendan vowed that someday he would figure out a way to keep that kind of thing from happening to other kids.
Now is that time. 
Along with some like-minded partners, Brendan created Everyartist.me.   Everyartist.me is a child focused movement to support the expression of creativity innate in every child.
Everyartist.me’s purpose is simple . . . Spark Human Creativity"
The more I dig into this story and what they are doing, the more I just love this project and the purpose of everyartist.me. I hope you'll join in on November 21 and be part of the emphasis to support the creativity of every child.

EveryArtist Live! is an exciting project and with an exciting future and you can join now. Yes, I'm paid for this post, but honestly, it is a post I would have written anyway. As with everything here, I jealously guard your classroom and mine to help you find those new things that are worthwhile additions to your classroom.
I hope you'll take to email this website to people in your school so they can join in too!

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 10/22/2013

  • Booktrack also has a Halloween writing contest for booktrack as well. This would be a fun creative activity with your students.

    tags: education news writing literacy

  • This is a very cool app. You look at the periodic table and drag elements to mix them together and see what happens in the app. The GoReact app is a "drag and drop" laboratory. If you introduce the periodic table, you'll want to see this.

    tags: education science scichat news all_teachers

  • Scholastic Book Fairs now have a mobile app that lets you scan the covers and get reading levels and other interesting information about the book. What a useful, cool way to introduce the concept of "augmented reality" to kids. You can put the app on their ipads if you're 1:1 and let them use it to pick out books.

    tags: education news literacy books augmented reality mlearning tumblr

  • Booktrack gives you a way to read a book while listening to a soundtrack. I mentioned the research study in a previous bookmark / link. This is something librarians and literacy leaders should test and try out for themselves as it is a fascinating tool and potential. There are a thousand questions I have about this but plan to try it for myself. On another note, you can also upload your own personal music and keep it private -- to play as you read.

    tags: education news books literacy bestpractices literature

  • Yes, this study was funded by Booktrack (a 2011 study), however, I find that the information is fascinating. By setting sound tracks of different mood music, this study showed: *Virtually all subjects performed moderately to significantly better on information retention tests. * Subjects reported a strong correlation with interacting with the enhanced platform and an ability to focus. There are other results on this, but I find this fascinating and find this a very interesting point to consider as ebooks evolve. Will ebook authors attach music to different pages? Will reading become more cinematic and theatrical? All kinds of interesting thoughts here.

    tags: education ebook news research bestpractices

  • Through the end of the year, Discovery just sent me a note that they are offering these three common core academies at no cost. Here's the info from Steve Dembo. I've done some work with their SIEMENS STEM Academy and am a sTAR Educator and everything they do is top notch. If you can work it out before the end of the year, this is something you'll want to do. From Steve Dembo: "We know that implementing the Common Core can be an uphill climb. That's why Discovery Education is proud to partner with educators to offer Common Core Academies in ELA, Math, and Leadership at no cost. From now until the end of the school year, educators across America are invited to sign up for an Academy and receive: practical strategies to implement CCSS reseach-based instructional practices best practices in using digital content resources and digital tools for immediate classroom integration Discovery Education Common Core Academies offer one day of immersive professional development and two follow-up virtual sessions at no cost to support educators and leaders in effectively implementing the Common Core State Standards. Educators may choose from three Academies offering a unique combination that brings together best practices in digital integration with proven research-based instructional practices: Literacy and the Common Core in a Digital World Teaching and Assessing Common Core Math in a Digital World Leadership Strategies to Support Digital Literacy and the Common Core"

    tags: education common core professional development news tumblr edu_news

  • Explain 3D has simulations explaining all kinds of machines and more. This is a 3D simulation built upon the "unity" platform, so you can move around the object in 3D. If you are teaching engineering, run a STEM lab, or work with physics, you'll want to check out what they've done on this site.

    tags: education news engineering tumblr simulations physics

  • This looks like a very cool English game that uses all kinds of shows to teach. Thinking that ESL teachers will want to test this one out. Mau Butler send me this message about this new site: Hello Vicki, I've been an ESL teacher for 20 years, in several countries, and a reader of your coolcatteacher blog for a while. Congratulations. You do excellent work. :) For the past 3 years, I've been building a very innovative approach to teaching and learning English, which is now ready to use. Considering your work, I thought you'd be interested in trying it out. It's called Tripppin and I strongly recommend you see it for yourself on www.tripppin.com but this is us in a nutshell: "Tripppin is an English practice platform, which blends offline and online learning experiences into a game, a music channel, cooking shows, animation, entertaining videos shot around the world, and excellent support for English teachers everywhere." Hope you can have a look :) Thank you.

    tags: education news esl language_teacher gamification tumblr

  • Happy Digital Citizenship week. As part of connected educators month, this is digital citizenship week. Here is the webpage to help you participate and promote the event.

    tags: education news digitalcitizenship ce13

  • Train your students in CPR. This is a great thing to share with your health classes. The curriculum is here for you. "The easy-to-use CPR in Schools Training Kit is designed just for schools.  It contains everything needed to train 10 students at once in CPR.  Repeat the process to train a class, a grade - or even an entire school! The CPR in Schools Training Kit is portable, allowing for convenient movement from classroom to classroom and easy storage. One CPR in Schools Training Kit can train hundreds of students!"

    tags: education health health_teacher cpr bestpractices edu_news

  • This website is a "reputation builder" for kids of all ages. When a child is in K-12, the parent has their account attached but then, the child can take it public after that point. This is a "reputation builder" for kids. Many students in Florida are already using this with their parents. This may be an option for efolio building where parents are involved. Worth a look for those working with digital citizenship and to share with parents.

    tags: education news digitalcitizenship

  • Some questions about how I engage and grow my professional learning network, why I started blogging, and some background information. Thanks to Mark at My town tutors for sharing my story.

    tags: education news teaching aboutme tumblr

  • Alchemy smartbinder is a new app that lets you create lessons (perfect for flipped classrooms) and measure student engagement with the data. This is something I'll be testing. It is in BETA but you flipped classroom pioneers out there will definitely want to give this a try.

    tags: education news flipclass flippedclassroom

  • World atlas is a site with simple data about the countries of the world. This from the creator of the site: "World Data Atlas is an ultimate source of world statistics on every country. It includes data on more than 2500 indicators. Topics cover Economics, Demographics, Health, Education, Energy and other socioeconomic information. "

    tags: education news geography

  • Kevin Honeycutt is creating a youtube channel about Geography. Geography teachers might be interested in sharing and following this YouTube channel. Kevin does such a great job on so many things. It is a sock puppet, but you can also use this as a model and have your students do their own sock puppet geography reports in this style. This will protect their privacy and also let them learn about a new location.

    tags: education geography news elementary

  • Students across the country have already started working on their IWitness Challenge project sponsored by the USC Shoah Foundation - The Institute for Visual History and Education, but there’s still time for youngsters in your community to enter this free online program geared to all secondary-school students. The deadline to enter the Challenge is Dec. 2, 2013. The winning student, along with their teacher and a family member will be brought to Los Angeles to showcase their work as part of the 20th anniversary activities for the Shoah Foundation, which was founded by director Steven Spielberg in 1994 after making “Schindler’s List.” Tthe IWitness Challenge (iwitness.usc.edu) connects students with the past in a very personal way that spurs them to take action to improve the future. With access to many of the Shoah Foundation’s 52,000 testimonies of survivors, liberators and rescuers, students experience history in a way that hits home. Instead of reading facts from textbooks, students feel the emotions and build relationships with those who lived through seemingly impossible situations. But students do more than watch the testimony. The IWitness Challenge compels them to think, to make smart choices and to create their own project and video from what they’ve learned. By encouraging teachers and students to create their own lesson plans, IWitness allows them to expand on practically any subject they wish to pursue. From civics, government and history to poetry, art and ethics, educators can tailor lessons appropriate for their classrooms. And by using the embedded editor, participants not only learn valuable searching and editing skills, but also how to make ethical editing decisions that ensure their finished assignments are a fair and accurate reflection of what they’ve seen. All work is kept safe inside the IWitness site and not accessible to the public. Using IWitness is free, but teachers or homeschool parents must register at iwitness.usc.edu.

    tags: history history_teacher education news

  • Just got this note from my friend Jeff Stanzler at U Michigan. This looks very cool and is a website dedicated to flipping physics, algebra, and calculus. Lots of great videos and resources. The note from Jeff to me about this site and his student: " I wanted to share the work of a former student of mine named Jon Palmer, a Physics teacher who has done some wonderfully creative work "flipping" his classroom. He's now devoting himself to making videos for free use by Physics teachers everywhere. Knowing you, I figured you might appreciate his work. Here's an intro video about his vision of the flipped classroom model. Here's a link to his you tube channel, with more goodies."

    tags: education news physics science

  • Students and teachers are taking the 4 liter challenge. Here's the curriculum and information to bring resources and instruction to children of all ages. "To make the 4 Liter Challenge an even more enriching experience, we've created a free curriculum that introduces themes of water, poverty and human rights to any 7-12th grade classroom. The 4L Curriculum is multidisciplinary and designed to align with national standards. It's built on an innovative "See, Judge, Act" model and will greatly enhance your students' 4L Challenge."

    tags: education news scichat water science edu_news

  • Yet another reason to use YouTube. PBS Math Club has a Youtube channel with topics such as "Adding Negative Numbers: Mean Girls and Darth Vader" and What is an integer?" It is important to give teachers access to YouTube even if you block it from student use. Think of it as free cable where you determine the time for everything to be shown.

    tags: education news youtube mathchat mathclub

  • PBS Learning media has some cool resources and games for kids including a new PBS Math club to help kids with math. You can sign up for free for these resources. There is a middle school history game and also a virtual underwater tour you can use as well.

    tags: education news mathchat scichat tumblr all_teachers

  • FYI. Microsoft Pulled the Windows 8.1 update after it "bricked" some devices. So, if you're trying to update Windows, wait a little while longer.

    tags: news education microsoft technology edu_news

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

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 10/17/2013

  • Here comes Windows 8 with a lot of new settings. These are talking about the Windows phone updates but other updates are on the way. "While Windows 8.1 adds a lot of features and improvements across the OS, the built-in apps include some of the biggest changes. Microsoft is detailing a few of the more creative ones ahead of the Windows 8.1 release tomorrow. The photos app in Windows 8 included Facebook and Flickr integration, but the Windows 8.1 version drops that in lieu of some improvements to editing. You can now select auto fix for a selection of different corrections, and there’s also manual cropping, red-eye removal, retouch, and other basic contrast and brightness settings. One of the more interesting features is color enhance that lets you pick an area of a photo to brighten up or darken areas of photos."

    tags: education windows news microsoft all_teachers

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

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 10/08/2013

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

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 10/06/2013

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

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 10/05/2013

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

Friday, October 04, 2013

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 10/04/2013

  • Most weeknights of Connected Educator month #cem13 there are Connected Cafes with many online leaders in education. They are free and will be great conversations. I'm on October 3 at 7:30 pm and we're talking about connected leadership with Dean Shareski and moderated by Steve Hargadon. Take a look at the calendar to see more. October 4 is Larry Ferlazzo and Angela Maiers, October 8, Ira Socol and Kathleen Cushman and many more.

    tags: education news cem13

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

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 10/03/2013

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

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Creativity for kids: November 21 and every day with Everyartist.me #creativitymatters

This post is inspired by Everyartist Live!, a national, collaborative art event with the goal of engaging a million elementary school children on November 21, 2013 - the largest art event in history. Want to get involved? Join the effort to show that creativity matters. Sign up at http://everyartist.me

On November 21 there will be a huge collaborative art project for kids around the world. Flatten your classroom and join in.
November 21 will mark the largest art project in
history (we hope.) Here's how you and your students
can join in. 
Creativity for kids: will it keep kids healthy?

Recently, I came across a book that listed the “12 apostles of ill health.”1 I was stunned to see that one was “a lack of creativity.” How can lack of creativity lead to ill health? Is this true?

Think for a moment… it seems like the faster the arts and music have been removed from schools, the higher the drop out rate has escalated. Students are disenchanted and disengaged as they've had paint brushes replaced by pencils as they figure math problems instead of drawing figures on a page.

Kids need to be creative. Join the largest art experience in history at everyartist.me.
Join the largest art project in history on November 21.
Certainly our students need to learn math, science, and all of these other things. However, I would argue if each of us has things that we are made to do and those things are pulled from us, then we will pull away from the thing that pulls us away from what we love. Kids are creative and they need it in the classroom.

Genius Fridays and Raven

I have a beautiful student, lets call her Raven. Raven is gifted beyond measure and creates drawings that can make your eyes mist. That kind of talent. Most Fridays we have genius day and Raven has chosen to draw. She’s learned about apps that let her draw and has photographed her work and opened up a personal gallery on a website for artists.

She glows on Fridays and says to me,
“It is like I can bring all of me to school… I don’t have to leave a piece of me at home.”

Do you want a piece of me?

We don’t want one piece of a child… the part that does math or the part that writes paragraphs. We want the whole child. The child that decides what to eat and how to exercise and especially the part that creates.

When I think of the impact of personal interest projects on math and science, I think of the EAST initiative in Arkansas. This program uses technology to help students pursue personal interest projects. In research, they've discovered a positive impact on student motivation and self directed learning styles. Why?

Maybe it is because kids are able to bring themselves to school, not just a piece. They are solving problems creatively.

We are made to create. It is part of the human DNA. We are also made to collaborate. (I write a lot about flattening the classroom, this is yet another way to do that.)

Let's help kids join a massive world wide elementary art event

I’m writing this post because Everyartist Live! contacted me about their world wide elementary art event on November 21, 2013. Admittedly, I have many companies who contact me to write posts for them - some sponsored, some not. The only posts I accept as sponsored posts are those I’d write about anyway for topics that I think are important to those of you who gift me with your eyes and attention several times a week.

Join Everyartist Live! in their mission to spark creativity Here’s how:

Everyartist.me is sponsoring a program to let elementary students around the world participate and join in the collaborative event. While the focus is on the US, anyone can join in and many have already registered.

1. Read about everyartist.me
2. Sign up at https://signup.everyartist.me/

Mark your calendar and check your email for more information on this project. And remember, whatever you do, inspire creativity in your classroom. 

I believe every child should be creating something original each week.
We need creativity to bloom. We must make time for this generation to create. This is one way and I hope you’ll join in!

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

1 - E Stanley Jones as quoted in “Ordering Your Private World” by George McDonald
All photos licensed from iStockphoto except for the Everyartist Live! Logo
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