Read all about Thinglink here.
 
 
 
 
Wow!  There is a new app in town from Tapparatus that could change the way our eyes and ears process video and dramatically change the speed at which we consume information.  The new Swift app on Itunes enables you to speed up the playback of your videos without changing the frequency of the voice and/or sound being emitted from the track.  In other words, you can watch any video on your Ipad or Iphone at double the speed and actually hear the person's voice as if they were speaking at double the speed rather than at some high pitched dolphin like level of communication.  The new technology does two things amazingly well.  The first is that you are in charge of adjusting the viewing/listening speed of whatever you are watching.  You can slow the video down to a mere .25x and watch and listen as the audio and video are still right in synch and the sound has not lowered in pitch.  It sounds perfectly normal just slower.  The same is true at higher speeds where the app can jolt up to 2x the actual speed of the track.  This is truly amazing and has a whole slew of possibilities for both those who are special needs and have auditory processing issues as well as for individuals who can process the speed of audio at a much faster rate of retention.  The second amazing achievement of this app is that it not only integrates the movies, podcasts and songs of your Itunes account, but also offers a slew of applicable links that bring the user to remarkable sites online where one can watch videos from sites like the NY Times, Huffington Post, Khan Academy, as well as a great deal of online audio book sites. Furthermore, any site with a video can be viewed via the in-app web browser that then offers the options to turn up or down the speed of the audio/video while keeping them in synch.

Prior to writing this post, I listened to a Ted video about creating awe at a rate of 1.75x the normal speed of the video.  Calgon take me away!  This was a truly awesome experience.  I can't believe that I will now be able to get through more Ted videos, more great educational tech podcasts, and more audiobooks at a much faster rate, one which I can choose according to my own comfort level and rate of retention.

As a child who always had difficult reading because it took too long, the invention of audio books has been an absolute blessing.  Radio and now podcasts have always been a gateway to learning amazingly interesting subjects.  Now, to be able to pick of the pace of my knowledge acquisition, I feel that I am mastering that oft sought, but never attained feeling of getting more done than I thought possible in a limited amount of time.  First there was watching an hour long television show with Tivo in 40 minutes by cutting out the commercials.  Now a video of the same would be cut down to 20 minutes.  What's next?

The app also features the ability to download videos for later viewing and has a history sections that saves the videos that you have recently played.  You can also bookmark, note and email sections of video to other people

There were a few things about the app that I thought could use some work, however.  The home screen's view on the Ipad has the icons in the upper left and upper right and they are very small and sometimes difficult to tap.  In addition, the main Speed Control that appears at the center of the Play/Pause button during each video play could be much bigger or have a straight up and down design.

These features can easily be upgraded with a new version of the software, but Swift is definitely a must have app for anyone who is looking to do more in less time.  This novel utility will be a wonderful resource to any teacher who wants to put his/her students in the driver's seat in terms of literally, tuning their own dial, of learning.  Can't wait to cruise through the Jobs' biography in 12 hours instead of 24!
 
 
Stumbled across this Mr. Mannix from Philadelphia who is also a social studies teachers and appears to have the same interests as me.  He keeps posting stuff on Edmodo and every time he does, being the absent minded professor that I am I think "Did I write that?"  Small world.
 
 
When will the Google madness end?  They started with becoming dominate in search, entered into an amazing position with the number of Gmail emails across the globe and have gradually introduced hundreds of features that are amazingly simple to use, but can easily transform how you do your day to day life.

Think Google Calendar, sharing an online calendar with your spouse where you can enter appointments and he/she can enter appointments from separate locations, but on the same online calendar.  Never again do you have to check and see if you are available.  7 Reasons To Use Google Calendar

Google's Gmail, made email easy and searchable.  You never have to delete another email and it is virtually impossible to lose one because of the amazing search capabilities.  Google's Approach to Email

Think Google Voice.  Imagine having one phone number that people can call and you can pre-route them to your home phone, your cell phone, your work phone, or all three at the same time.  Have that relative that you never want to speak with?  Send them straight to voicemail every time they call.  Group parents together in your contact list and you can record a separate voicemail greeting just for them.  You can actually individualize a voicemail for whoever is calling that is in your address book.  "Hi honey, sorry I'm going to be late.  Meet you at the . . . "  For school this tool can be amazing.  Have students call the Google Number, send it straight to voicemail and have them answer questions that you have pre-recorded.  Don't have time to listen to 100 student recordings?  No problem.  Google automatically transcribes (pretty darn accurately, too) all of the messages and can email them to you or text or even attach the audio file.

And what about Google Docs.  It is truly amazing that students can now work together on a group project and you can see a virtual play by play of how they entered the text, how much they edited and how much time they spent contributing.  Students now have the ability to peer edit in a moment using the Insert Comment key or discuss what should come next in the chat feature that is available.  Want to share the document, excel sheet, presentation with the teacher, just enter their email.  You can mark the papers write in the document itself. . . and you have a running revision history that saves approximately every five seconds.

The highlight of Google Docs for teachers is Google Forms.  On Google Forms, one can very simply create a multiple choice test or a fill in the blank survey of their students.  All information that is sent out via a website link arrives neatly organized in an excel spreadsheet giving teachers the ability to organize by period, last name, first name, etc.  The possibilities with this type of too are endless.


Google Sites has allowed virtually anyone to create and publish an easy to use website for free.  Do this on your own or with a group.  You can post all of your worksheets with the click of a button.  You can ask the students to leave comments on a topic or on a photo with ease.

For days in the computer lab, Google Moderator takes the cake.  This product allows you to have the students posts ideas or questions on a topic and then vote which question is the best one.    For example, in the Connected Classroom, we will often ask the students to come up with questions that they have after a lesson or questions that they may have had from the previous night's homework.  The students will add their questions individually and then the class will vote on which question do they think is a questions that they would like to know the answer to.  The third component of this exercise allows students to research the answers and then post responses to their peers answers.  It is amazing to see how they can find the answers and validate the correct information.  It is a mini-wikipedia that involves active student engagement.

And now Google introduces one more toy, as if there weren't enough already.  Google Teacher Tube.  This service gives teachers the ability to virtually create their own television channels, lining up pertinent content for their students and embedding questions with Google Forms built right into the videos.  You can see in real time how students are answering the questions and how they are understanding content.  It can be used as a great station when putting together a multi-station lesson.  Here is an example of a lesson in math where they have "flipped the classroom" allowing the students to watch the video, while the teacher goes and focus on the students who are having individualized problems.

 
 
I have never met a teacher that thinks No Child Left Behind is a good law.  What does that say?  States are now allowed to opt-out of this law which made standardized testing the rule of the day.  But what strings are attached?  Can we find a way to effectively evaluate our students and hold teachers accountable for the growth and development of their students.  The essentail questions is how do we define growth?  Can we quaantify progress with a number grade or a test with a choice of four bubbles, or do we need something more/  Do we need a qualitatitve analysis of our students.  Can we trust teachers' opinions regarding how their students are learning and developing?  Isn't that what we train and pay them for?  Or does their need to be a common standard that can only be evaluated by giving everyone the same examination.

Take a listen.  What do you think?  Can we make improvements?  Is this a step in the right direction or just more of the same?    Can we, as teachers, come together for a more rigorous and effective evaluative mechanism?  Please share your comments below.
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Last year I took a class where I became a certified Flat Classroom Teacher.  It was designed by Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis who were featured in Tom Friedman's book, The World is Flat.  In that course, the educators spoke of breaking down the classroom walls with the tool of the internet while interacting and collaborating with schools around the country.  It was through this program that I developed the collaborated project called How Could War Look Different? where social studies teachers who are teaching about wars (any war) can come to the website and utilize the template to collaborate with other countries to reveal how each classroom across the world (especially the participants in the wars, learn about the war.)

In an effort to further flatten the classroom, I have begun to explore the uses of Google+ for education.  Google+.  Google+ is Google's version of a social networking platform similar to Facebook and Twitter.  The beauty of Google+, However is its ability to group your "friends" into distinct circles.  This way you can separate who is allowed to read what post, so my educational posts can be read by educators, my goofy posts can be read by my friends and my truly ridiculous posts will be shielded from Grandma's prying eyes.  It is neat and necessary and great for education.  Students can be batched into one "circle"---conceivable, as I believe right now, for some reason, the joining age is 18.  And that way, student posts can be kept strictly to students.  

One of Google+';s greatest features is Google Hangouts, where you can essentially video chat with up to ten individuals in one room.  The great part is that there are nine small video windows at the bottom and one main screen at the top and as people "take over the floor" their screen is pushed to the top/main screen for prime viewing.  It is truly an amazing interactive service.  Over the summer, I started an educational broadcast called The Power of Ten:  Discussing Education's Future which was broadcast in real time and archived on the show's website www.edhangout.com

For about seven weeks I had some pretty powerhouse educational guests participate in the show, including Great Neck Southj's own Heather Peretz and Doug Moore.  It went very well and over three hundred people watched the show each week, but it often crashed and I was unable to get through all of my tapings.

Today, Google announced several new features to Google+ Hangouts.  First is the ability to record and broadcast any of the shows to Google+ and to YouTube.  Several other features were also added and they seemed to be geared toward educators.  There is now a screen sharing function to Google+ Hangouts.  What this means is that you can broadcast your computer screen to anyone with the link.  It basically puts GoToMeeting out of business.  

There is also the ability to add Google Docs and notes to the Google+ Hangout.  Essentially what this means is that during a meeting or a class, students can take collaborative notes on the meeting/lecture and have the ability to access it later at their leisure.  Thinking more globally, if you invite two people from England, two people from Germany, two people from Japan, two people from Russia and host the Hangout in a classroom from the USA, you could easily have an incredible global discussion with notes and a group video discussion on the impact of World War II.  The educational value cannot be overstated.

Currently, we do not have access to Google+ or Google+ Hangouts through our filter system, but hopefully we can break down the walls of the system, if with educational rationale in hand, we can open the eyes of our students and our administrators to the world of possibilities out there.  There is so much that awaits us in the future of education.  I'm looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.

What are your thoughts on all of these potentialities?

 
 
I am so excited to be starting my new post as Technology Staff Developer and really looking forward to all that we may be able to accomplish with my 7th grade students as we try to guide them toward building real world companies in our Flex schedule.  What drives me these days is the fact that there are so many opportunities on the internet to capitalize on a good idea.   A perferct example of this simple idea making millions is a company called Grub With Us.  This company has three simple steps:  1. Browse-Find people to eat with and/or places to eat at,

2. Reserve-Reserve a seat through our hassle-free payment system.and
3. Socialize -You already paid, so just show up, eat and socialize!

It isn't anything more than Match.com meets Facebook  in a restaurant.  Now they have 1.6 million in investments.  

The beauty of where we are in this prescient internet age is that a good idea posted on the web can still have tremendous value.

Take a look at the real world innovation in the video above that literally just mixes three ingredients to change people's lives forever.  Creativity, ingenuity, and surpirse will always light our way as a society.  I hope that we can foster changes that will help our future generations.

We are teaching and inspiring students who are going to shape the world ahead of us in so many ways.  I can only imagine what they will contribute and I am so happy that all teachers have the ability to plant the tiniest seed that could grow into monumental change in the bllink of an eye.

Can't wait for it all to unfold.


 


 
 
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