Saturday, February 16, 2013

You Can Never Be The Expert in Your Own Backyard - Guest Post

This is a guest post from Alicia Roberts. Alicia invited me to her school last year and I finally got to visit last week. This is what she wrote about my time with her students and faculty members. 

Last week I had the pleasure of hosting Richard Byrne as a guest speaker and trainer for 2 days of inservice for students and staff at Paradise Valley Christian Preparatory (PVCP) in Phoenix, AZ. I wanted to invite an “expert” to our campus and re-awaken the dream that students and teachers could and should be actively engaged in the borderless and global classroom we call home in the 21st century. Here is some insight on “what you get” by inviting an expert into your own backyard.

Lessons Worth Learning

Share what you have...and others will do the same.
PVCP held a Technology Symposium for the 21st Century Classroom with Richard as Keynote speaker. Knowing the value of Richard’s work we sent invitations out to five surrounding school districts to attend free of charge. Collaboration counts and we now have a Professional Network with Grand Canyon University, Dysart USD, Fowler USD, Cave Creek USD and Northwest Lutheran School where there had been no sharing of resources and Professional Development opportunities before.

Every minute can count. The week before Richard arrived the inservice schedule had to be completely revised. We adapted by having “A Round Table with Richard” for classes and teachers that could work with the unexpected game change. The ability to diversify content for each group was inspirational. See Richard’s schedule below:

1st Grade: Teaching students how big and connected we all are using Google Earth. Richard followed a path from his house in Maine to a friend in Canada to the place in Iceland where they like to go biking. He then had the class use Skype to sing to Jen the IT Specialist from Alberta, Canada the students' favorite song. Priceless!

7th Grade: Richard knows how to control a mob. The activity was to use Google Presentation and create a slideshow on Myths of the Desert using research tools, picture inserts, and citations. Student feedback - this tool met their needs and interests more than Powerpoint or Prezi.

High School: Topics that mattered most - Google Earth, Google Drive, Creative Commons Use, and How to Promote a Performance on Youtube. Nice to know...Richard shared stories of himself and created a genuine opportunity to discuss career options and personal development.

Staff Development: Richard really moved mountains by using the 3 hour inservice to get teachers comfortable using Google Drive, Evernote, QR Codes and Socrative. My personal highlight was seeing our Headmaster create a Twitter account and get a “hello” from those who follow Richard. The most inspirational moment of his visit was having the staff see what students had already accomplished online. Richard measurably pulled together our campus and community by his words and his ability to get teachers to buy into the power of these free tools.

FYI: All the tools “introduced” during his visit have been part of a professional mantra I tried to implore my staff to learn, but one they never fully embraced...which just proves the point that you can never be an expert in your own backyard!

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 The generosity of time, talent, personal and genuine encouragement Richard gave to to students and teachers has provided fertile ground for the inspired student, and teacher.

How Many Minimum Wage Hours Does It Take to Survive?

One of my favorite high school social studies topics to teach has always been personal economics. Part of helping students understand personal economics is helping them realize how difficult it is to survive on a minimum wage salary. Through a recent post on the Man vs. Debt Facebook page I found this simple graphic depicting how many hours per week it would take to pay for a two bedroom apartment in each of the continental U.S. states.

Applications for Education
The graphic would go well with my hands-on game Life on Minimum Wage.

The Week in Review - Welcome Guest Bloggers

Good morning from Greenwood, Maine. Later today I'm heading out for a long weekend of ice fishing with the same group of teachers that I've been fishing with for ten years now. It's a nice three day break to recharge our batteries that I look forward to every year. While I'm away some great guest posts will be running on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. I hope that you enjoy their posts.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. A Short Guide to Using Google Drive on Your iPad
2.  Teaching Tree - Video Explanations of Computer Science Topics
3. - Video Timelines for History Students
4. More Than 100 New Topics in Go Social Studies Go
5. Create an Audio Slideshow With Narrable

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

Please visit the official advertisers and marketing partners that help keep this blog going.
ThingLink is a great tool for collaboratively creating interactive images.
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Vocabulary Spelling City offers spelling practice activities that you can customize.
MasteryConnect provides a network for teachers to share and discover Common Core assessments. is a provider of free educational games for K-5.
Lesley University offers quality online graduate programs for teachers.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology. is hosting iPad Summit USA in Atlanta this spring.

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It's Official, Posterous Is Shutting Down - Get Your Data Now

A few weeks ago when it seemed inevitable that Posterous Spaces would be shutting I wrote directions on how to deal with it. Yesterday, Posterous made its official announcement that it will be shutting down on April 30. The announcement includes some directions on how to export your data. You can also follow my annotated screenshots of the process. (click the images to view them in full size)

Step 1: Sign into your Posterous Spaces account and select "backup."

Step 2: Select the blog(s) that you want to backup.

Step 3: Enter captcha code and your email address to be notified when your backup is ready.

Step 4: Download zip file containing the contents of your blog.

One of the great things about Posterous was that students could post to a group blog via email. That option is also available in Blogger. You can learn how to set that up in Blogger in my post here.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Create Animated Comics with Sketch Star

Sketch Star has gone offline. 

Sketch Star from Miniclip is a fun and free tool for creating animated comics. On Sketch Star students can create draw animations from scratch or use pre-made shapes and characters. Students build their animations frame by frame. Each frame appears in a timeline that can be altered by dragging and dropping the frames into different sequences. The length of time that each frame is displayed can be adjusted too. Completed projects can be saved online.

Applications for Education 
To save Sketch Star animations you do need to register for an account with an email address. If your students don't have email addresses you could use the Gmail+1 hack to register them. Sketch Star also asks for birthdays. I just selected 1/1/1969 (not anywhere close to my real birthday) and got into the service.

Using Sketch Star could be a good way for students to create animations to go along with creative stories that they write as part of a language arts lesson.