Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Year in Review - No, It's Not a List of Links

The end of 2013 is less than eight hours away as I sit to write this final blog post of the year. My usual week-in-review and month-in-review posts are lists of the most popular posts. This year-in-review will not be like that. Instead, I want to take a few minutes to share the highs and the lows and the lessons I learned in 2013.

Personal highs, lows, and lessons learned
This year I was fortunate to see a lot of the country (U.S. Airways says I flew 156,000 domestic miles) for business and pleasure. Along the way I made new friends in Arizona, re-connected with old friends in Iowa, Colorado, and Nebraska, and made new friends right here in Maine. Lesson learned, one can never have too many friends. Unfortunately, I lost a friend this year too. The lesson there, be open and share.

I had the great opportunity to visit classrooms all over the country this year. I spoke with students from first grade through twelfth grade. I learned something new in each visit, but the most important lesson for me was  that I do miss having my own students on a full-time basis. Department meetings, on the other hand, are not something that I'll ever miss.

Finally, take time read books instead of web articles. Try as I might, I still can't focus on reading books when they're on a tablet because it's too easy to exit out to check Facebook for "just a second." However, I can focus when I have a physical book in my hands.

Blog/Business lessons learned
This year I launched three new projects as off-shoots of Free Technology for Teachers. The first project I launched technically launched in December 2012, but it didn't really get going until 2013. That project is iPadApps4School.com. Since the launch 8,500 people have subscribed. In launching that blog I learned a lot about WordPress and a lot about iOS.

The second project I launched was another that actually started in December 2012 and that is PracticalEdTech.com through which I've offered webinars on Google Drive, blogging, and Google Earth. This was the project I was most nervous about because it was the first time I ever directly offered anything for sale. Some people didn't like that I offered it as a paid product, but I also heard enough positive feedback to continue. The lesson I learned with this project is that there were many more hidden costs and tasks than I anticipated at launch.

The third project I launched this year was the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp. Twenty-five of you traveled to beautiful Bethel, Maine for two days of learning with me, Jen Deyenberg, and Jim Wells. Despite one network glitch on the second day, the two days went as well as I hoped. My take-away from the two days, give more time for projects and hands-on learning. I also learned way more about facilities rental costs than I ever thought I'd knew ($250 to rent extension cables for the day, yikes!). A few people have already asked if I will offer the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp again this summer, the answer is yes but I don't have dates to announce at this time.

Looking forward to 2014
I'm looking forward to speaking at more conferences and providing more professional develop workshops in schools. I'm also looking forward to launching a new blog through which I'll offer advice about blogging and consulting (the first month of content is written, the design is the hold up right now). Finally, I'm looking forward to working on my goal of talking to more people at conferences (I'm nervous in small talk situations) beginning with BETT and TeachMeet BETT in January (I tend to get lost walking in cities so if you see me looking confused in London, please help me).

The Month in Review - December's Most Popular Posts

Last sunset of 2013
Good evening from Woodstock, Maine where I've just watched the final sunset of 2013. I hope that you all are enjoying your holiday break.

As I do at the end of every month, I've put together a list of the most popular posts of the month. I post these lists for two reasons. First, over the years I've heard from many people who say the lists help them quickly catch up on things they missed earlier in the month. Second, writing the lists helps learn what types of resources I should be posting more or less of.

Here are this month's most popular posts:
1. 15 Options for Creating Screen Capture Images and Videos - Including on Chromebooks
2. Three Good Tools for Creating Multimedia Books Online
3. Have You Looked At Google Lit Trips Lately?
4. 5 Ways for Students to Create Audio Slideshows
5. By Request - Ten Helpful Resources for Middle School and High School Math Teachers
6. Some Handy Gmail Options You Might Be Missing
7. Borrow and Lend eBooks Through Open Library
8. Five Good Online Tools for Creating Infographics
9. 11 Free Online Typing Practice Activities for Students
10. Five Tools That Help Students Plan Stories

In January I am again offering my PracticalEdTech.com series How To Use Google Drive In SchoolClick here for registration details. 

Would you like to have me visit your school this year?
Click here to learn more about my professional development services.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
Remind 101 offers a free tool for sending text message reminders to students.
IXL offers a huge assortment of mathematics lesson activities.
Typing Club offers free typing lessons for students.
MathDisk provides a great platform for creating interactive math lessons.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
MasteryConnect provides a network for teachers to share and discover Common Core assessments.
ABCya.com is a provider of free educational games for K-5.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is organizing two iPad summits this school year.
Classmint offers a nice multimedia flashcard service.

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NRICH - An Excellent Source of Math Lesson Activities

At the end of yesterday's post of ten resources for high school and middle school math teachers I asked for suggestions for additional resources. This morning Colleen Young (whose blog is a must-read for math teachers) emailed me with the suggestion of NRICH.

NRICH is a provider of mathematics curricula and lesson plans covering everything from basic addition through advanced algebra and geometry. I initially reviewed it three years ago, but since then it has been overhauled for improved navigation. NRICH has sections for teachers and sections for the students. The sections have corresponding materials. For example, right now when you click on the page for secondary teachers you will see the featured activity is a time estimation lesson. A corresponding activity is presented to students when they click on "secondary students."

On NRICH you can find dozens of posters to download and print. Each of the posters displays a mathematics "trick" or challenge question. Teachers can download and print any of the posters in the collection. Each poster in the collection is linked to a problem page that contains notes for teachers using the posters.