Google Tools with Rick Weinberg

One of my main goals many months ago was to become an “expert” on Google Tools and maybe even apply to go to the Google Teacher Academy (GTA)……however, I have not been as good on that goal as I would like to have been.  My realization was the workshop Rick Weinberg put on today for area educators on Google Tools

Picture courtesy of:

Rick created a Google Sites page (Google’s wiki service) with YouTube videos showcasing many of the Google Tools and then gave the participants time for questions and more discovery of these tools.

Some of the things that I learned today:

Thanks Rick for your insight…..and PATIENCE!

Anyone else have a favorite Google Tool?  I do like building a custom search engine and also like to work more with Google Sketchup!

Picture courtesy of

Voicethread and Pictures from around the world


Voicethread Home Page

I do love this site.  You are able to upload pictures, video or even a worksheet, then once you create a free account (by the way, educators get a free Pro account!  Saves you $60!!!) you can leave a comment next to the picture (I will call what you upload a picture from here on in) from a given avatar or picture of yourself.  You can do a text box about the picture, you can record your voice, you can do a video recording of yourself talking, you can call another phone and have them comment, or you can upload a podcast from your computer.  OH YEAH, there is also a pen that will let you draw on the picture!!!  This pen can either fade or stay permanent while you talk/write.

There are tons of possibilities.  I have done a few Voicethreads with family pictures and have my son talk about us.  I have done some screen captures of new websites and done short tutorials.

Right now, I have created a free account for ANYONE who signs in with the username(e-mail) and password:  voicethread.  They can then go to see it here.

Some of the other good VT sites I know about:

Voicethread4education Wiki

Here’s a VT I saw from a math teacher with her students.

Looking for a virtual Voicethread community for Voicethreads in the classroom?

From Liz B. Davis and her 21Century wiki:

Like what you see?

Under repair

Been gone for a long time…..maybe I can be like Edublogs/Twitter…..where is my floating elephant?

Not 100% sure that Edublogs is up and running. I hope to blog more in the next few weeks.

Top 3 things this summer?

Last week I was thinking about, “What are the top 3 things I’ve learned or used this summer?”

I’m excited about the new school year and getting in to help teachers with technology, but I thought I’d try to rank the top three things that I could think of.

#1.  Phonevite      Phonevite

I’m trying to talk my wife into using this service, you can call up to 25 people at one time, for free*!  She has a class of 13.  I believe it is a long distance call, however (818 number).  I have sent only 2 calls to small groups so far.  However, how cool for teachers to create their classes into groups, then send out info once a week about the upcoming week/projects/homework/tests.  Whatever you want.  I’m really liking this site.

#2.  Plurk        Plurk

I know, big surprise here.  I have used it a great deal (some would argue too much) this summer to build a network of people to give and share ideas with.  I miss it when I’m in districts and wonder how well I’ll keep up with it now that my schedule is getting more packed and school is starting?!?!

#3.  NECC2008 San Antonio       NECC2008

I could’ve picked a few things here, but went with my NECC trip.  First of all, we had a few of us go down and that made it very nice because there were people who I work with and could bounce ideas off of right away!  I burnt myself out a little the first day trying to hit all of the workshops, but it was great.  I do wish I would’ve gone into the Blogger’s Cafe more and introduced myself to more people, but overall, incredible experience.

 Photos courtesy of JingProject.

Switching gears

Like I’ve said many times, I’ve been very blessed, and this job, working for CA BOCES is one of them.  This summer I’ve been able to just go “hog wild” exploring sites, trying different things and looking to find things to use in the classroom.  I’ve been to NECC,  Albany, NY for a DATAG workshop, High Schools New Face, Saratoga Springs for NYSMS, Franklinville Tech Camp and a week with Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach!

Connecting to the world

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons &

Now, back to school and I need to regain a little focus.  I will be working one day a week as a technology specialist at Hinsdale Central School helping teachers with technology in the classroom.  I will be looking to help with data a little more and then handling workshops for trainings on Web 2.0 tools and any other concerns or questions that pop up.  Maybe even a little Schools Attuned, who knows?  So, I don’t have to stop ‘exploring’, but maybe re-focus and concentrate on the important issues facing schools in our districts.

What a great summer, I can’t wait to start up school and to get rolling.


Photo courtesy of Creative Commons &

Data enhanced education

As a high school math teacher in a previous life before taking this job in professional development with CA BOCES I always valued the importance of gathering data.  Then, I enjoyed trying to make inferences from it, and look for possible sources of error or reasons why it might be skewed.  My wife would tell you that I’m terribly skeptical of any stat or percent thrown out there in the media or with friends.  I’m sure you all know this, but 73.6% of all statistics are made up!

In my new life with CA BOCES, I not only get to help teachers implement technology into their classroom, but I also get a chance to play with data and help schools find ways to use their data.  We used data from state assessments at my old school to help modify our curriculum, so it’s not new to me, but Data Warehouse & showing the data to other schools is new…..then again most everything I do now is new!

Here’s my point, it’s amazing just based on one assessment (and that is my drawback to all of this, it is only one assessment) you can gain so much insight.  Now that we have a few years worth of data you can look at one test, see what questions were missed, and find out how your students ranked among the region or the state.  Then, you can look at Trend Reports (just came out in Data Warehouse) where you can see how an individual student did the past 3 years.  The students earn a score of either 1,2,3 or 4 and this report even breaks those levels up into low, medium and high!   THEN, you can go even deeper and look at a particular student and see what questions they missed on an individual test….. BRILLIANT!

Now, I won’t act like this data is the be all, end all.  As one of my colleagues like to remind us, there is always a story behind the numbers.  However, if your a teacher and you can have the information of not only how your students have done, but how the students you will get in September have done, that’s a leg up that was never afforded teachers before.  Again, it’s just another piece to help out.  The communication with your other staff members and trying to keep strengths a strength and to improve on any weaknesses is very important.  Otherwise, it’s just numbers on paper…..maybe that is where the tall, dark and handsome data geek….I mean, guy, comes into play.

This is just my two cents anyways.  I spent most of my week working in Data Warehouse and it is a fresh topic in my heas as I try to get data for schools as I type.  Now, I need to polish my skills of finding certain data, and then delivering to teachers & administrators in a positive way to help their students succeed in school.

Good sites I’ve found this week

Quick thoughts on some sites I’ve found this week and at the very least have interested me….


Phonevite is looking great to me.  I first thought you may only get 25 calls total for free.  However, after two e-mails to Phonevite I found out that you can send up to 25 people at a time a phone message for free!  You can store as many numbers & groups as you want, so then you can turn around and do it again to a new group.  For instance, an Algebra group about their assignments due, then a Pre-Algebra group… you see where I’m going here?  I’m really liking this for teachers to get information out to parents.  I will have to continue to check into it.  Oh yeah, they have been very good getting back to me by e-mail.

Wikipedia Commons

A fellow colleague, Cindy Crandall, showed me Wikipedia Commons which seems to be like Creative Commons, a place to find free and usuable pictures, and some music on the web.  I have only played around with it to find pictures right now, but never new that Wikipedia was branching out.  I also heard from Tim Clarke about Wikipedia Books….are they trying to become the next Google?  I definately need to see what is going on with Wikipedia.



How about ?  Not sure if this would mean much to me.  I don’t tend to even keep my iTunes updated, however, it might be nice for others to check out.  You can upload your music and listen to it anywhere!

Workshop with Sheryl

Sometimes I don’t truly realize how fortunate I am with this job. We here at CA BOCES had the opportunity to have Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach out here to lead our administrators on Monday and then our teachers for next four days! I will unfortunately miss Friday’s session because of a wedding, but I would like to share some of the things I learned this week.

We had our Monday working with about 10 administrators and their section of the wiki is here.

The rest of the week we worked with six teachers on this wiki.

There was almost too much to take in.  I was able to work with some Hinsdale teachers before I start there this year as a tech integrator.  Using the wiki, Elluminate, Skype and Ustream Sheryl was able to pull in a wide range of students, teachers and technology experts from around the world.  If you read her blog post she sums up all it much nicer than I ever could.

What a great week!  I can’t wait for that opportunity again.

Thanks Sheryl!


Just trying to formulate thoughts on the “oversaturation” of the web. How many new sites can possibly come out?  I can’t keep track of what I even looked at last week!  .com, .net, .fm, is there a .carls somewhere???

How many times have you had someone say, “Check out this link“, then after clicking on it, I come to realize, not only have I already been there….but I have an account!?!?

Maybe it’s just me.

I remember when I had 15-20 sites on and didn’t share at all.  Now I have over 500 bookmarks!  I will say this, thank goodness for and diigo to share and organize.  Will I ever be able to get caught up?  I mean, physically, is it even possible?  Should I even be trying?  I want to know what is out there, maybe I’m too obsessive-compulsive.

Will this current trend hit another wall and we’ll get “oversaturated” to the point we’ll be spread out all over?   Or do I need to just “find a groove (of certain sites) and make it stick”….sorry couldn’t resist the “CarsDisney quote from Doc Hudson to Lightning McQueen.

Ideas?  Thoughts?  Am I way off base?

Tech Camp

My first summer tech camp and I couldn’t have been happier with the teachers and admin help we received at Franklinville the past 3 days. Day 1 was showing projector integration resources and help. Our wiki was just something I threw together quick in the afternoon to give them links. One thing I would’ve liked to have shown them was the new stacking feature with Searchme, but I never got to it.

Day 2 was work with wikis, however, only one teacher showed up, so we looked at blogs and some settings on her SchoolWires blog. With wikis we looked at Wikipedia, I explained how it’s like a whiteboard in the classroom that you can add or erase anything you’d like. Then, she got started on a Wikispaces one for her fellow teachers at her grade level to post and share resources.

Day 3 was a work day where we helped about 9 teachers with whatever they wanted. I ‘tried’ to help with the CPS unit, but mostly helped again with their SchoolWires accounts and School Island which I used quite a bit as a high school math teacher.

Great week, thanks to Franklinville and the admin for all of their help and support this week, I hope to do it again next year.