Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Practical Ed Tech Live - You Have Questions, I have Answers

On a fairly regular basis I host live broadcasts on the Practical Ed Tech Facebook page. During those broadcasts I answer some of the many questions that I get asked about educational technology. You can email your questions to me or submit them live during the session and I'll answer them on air. The next Practical Ed Tech Live broadcast will be tomorrow at 3pm EST. Join me!

And if you missed the last broadcast, you can watch the replay here.

Apply for a C-SPAN Fellowship

Next summer might feel like it is a long way away, but it's not too early to start thinking about how you'll spend your next summer break. Social Studies teachers in the United States might want to consider spending part of the 2018 summer as a C-SPAN fellow in Washington, D.C.

The C-SPAN Teacher Fellowship Program brings together teachers and media specialists to work together for four weeks in Washington, D.C. The fellows work together to develop new teaching materials. Teachers selected for the program will receive an award valued at $7,000 (including lodging and travel costs). You can learn more and find the application here. Applications are due by March 2, 2018.

Ten Years of Free Technology for Teachers

Ten years ago I hit "publish" and sent the first Free Technology for Teachers blog post into the wild. 12,593 posts and 72,056,319 pageviews later, I'm still here. I never had plans to publish that many posts, review that many resources, or to be doing this for ten years. But, as it turns out, if you show up and write everyday, people keep coming back for more. So thank you all for coming back to my little blog for all these years.

In many ways a lot has changed in ten years and in other ways not much has changed. Here are some quick thoughts about what has and hasn't changed.

What's changed:

  • Windows netbooks are a thing of the past. Although you could argue that a Chromebook is really just a netbook. 
  • Windows and Mac operating systems have changed. 
  • Android phones and tablets are plentiful and affordable. 
  • Mobile phones are much more capable than they were ten years ago. 
  • We consume more information through social media than we do through newspapers and traditional television programming. 
  • More schools have 1:1 programs than ten years ago. 
  • Cloud computing is more prevalent than ever.

What's still the same:

  • We still debate the merits of Windows vs. Mac. 
  • Apple products are still expensive (and Apple likes it that way).
  • Too many schools still won't provide computers for every student. But at least the football team looks good in those new uniforms.
  • Good teachers make a bigger difference in students' lives than any hardware or software you can buy. 
  • I still look up to many people who were making a difference and sharing online before me. In no particular order those folks are:

    • Dr. Wesley Fryer
    • Vicki Davis
    • Kathy Schrock
    • Dr. Gary Stager
    • Larry Ferlazzo
    • Dr. Scott McLeod
    • Tony Vincent
    • Alan Levine
    • David Warlick
And a special note to remember Allen Stern who ran Center Networks when I started blogging. Allen inspired and influenced much of my early blogging. We had great conversations on Twitter and in email in the early years. Sadly, Allen passed away way too soon in 2013. 

Mega Feedback - A Good Way to Organize Feedback

Mega Feedback is a new tool from the same person that developed Mega Seating Plan and Mega Name Picker. Both of those tools have been popular with readers of this blog and I think that Mega Feedback will become popular too.

Mega Feedback is designed to help you quickly record, save, and distribute short bits of feedback for your students. To use Mega Feedback you log into the site, choose or create a class list, choose a student, and then start writing feedback. Mega Feedback is currently limits you to three positive feedback notes and three notes about areas for improvement. When you're done recording the feedback you can move on to the next student in your list or you can print the feedback that you have recorded.

Currently, Mega Feedback only lets you print the feedback that you record. In the near future you will be able to share feedback through email or Google Classroom.

Applications for Education
In its current form, Mega Feedback could be a good tool for recording feedback about presentations that students give in your classroom. The feedback template is easy enough and flexible enough to use when recording feedback on almost any student's presentation.

MindCipher - Find Your Next Brain Teaser

Solving riddles and other brain teasers can be a fun way to "warm-up" the brain before a brainstorming session or before a lesson on Monday morning. If you use this method, take a look at MindCipher for some new-to-you riddles and brain teasers. Mind Cipher is a collection of brain teasers, logic puzzles, and riddles submitted by members of the MindCipher community. All submissions placed into one of ten categories. The categories include mathematics, logic, lateral thinking, and physics. All submissions are ranked one a difficulty scale of 1-10.

Applications for Education
MindCipher could be a great resource to consult during those times when you have a few minutes of "down-time" with your students. Bring up one of the Mind Cipher puzzles to keep them engaged in thinking even if they're not thinking specifically about your content area.

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