I Knew I Wanted To Be An Educator When…

This post is for my Internet Tools for Teaching course.

This week we had to create a digital story using a cell phone. All of the images and videos were captured with a cell phone, and I used iMovie on the iPad to create the video.

This was my first time using iMovie on the iPad. Previously I had only used it on my computer. It took a little getting used to as the interface was different, but it is very user friendly. I then sent the video via email to myself, and uploaded it to my YouTube account.

It is now easier than ever to create digital stories. Although these are short, they can be incredibly powerful. Students have access to cameras and recording devices on their phones, making creating a digital story easier than ever. Digital stories give students a voice, and people resonate and connect with stories.

For example, students could create a digital story on bullying. They could take pictures and video of students pretending to bully other students, and then using a tool like iMove or Movie Maker, they could talk about the importance of stopping bullying and add a song in the background.

Digital stories allow students to create something new and share it with the world.

Here is my video. Enjoy!


Mobile Phones in the Classroom

This post is for my Internet Tools for Teaching master’s course. This week I had to interview educators who have used or are using cell phones in the classroom. I’ve always been interested to find out more about how they are being used as an instructional resource in the classroom and how educators deal with challenges that occur.

For this assignment, I interviewed Mark Case– a high school physical science teacher at Southern Guilford High School in Greensboro, NC. I also interviewed my long-time friend Shane Sweet, a high school Health and Physical Education teacher in Alpharetta, GA.  Here is a summary of how they use cell phones with students.

How they use the cell phones:

  • Mark:  Students use phones to access Instagram and twitter to work on homework, share ideas, work on projects that are due in class. Students use a variety of text quiz sites to take a quiz. They get alerts for tests, and projects by signing up for Remind 101. They use their phones to photograph experiments, make video lab reports, look up information from the internet, document their work.
  • Shane: I use them as a extra resource. Most of the health textbook/material is outdated so I am always having to come up with new stuff. I mostly use it for the internet. I use QR codes to help them find the site.

School Policy:

  • Mark: Our school does not have enough bandwidth for students to use WiFi so data and connection is on their own. The official school policy is no cell phone usage, but I have gotten permission from administration for students to use them for class purposes. My policy: a phone on TOP of the desk is a tool. A phone below the desk is a toy. I confiscate all toys and return the to parents. I don’t care what the reason the phone was below the desk, it is a toy and it is taken. “I was just checking the time” does not cut it. Too bad, so sad. Parents will be mad.
  • Shane: Our school policy is that we have a flipped sign saying technology NO or technology GO. This is supposed to tell the students when it is acceptable to use them on assignments and when it is not. It seems to help but it is hard to remember to keep flipping the sign.

Parental Involvement and feedback:

  • Mark: I have several parents that have signed up for the Remind 101 text alerts and now follow on the twitter back channel. Every parent that does so loves to know what is going on.


  • Mark: The big problem is students trying to take advantage of the policy and use the phone for a variety of things other than class. I take them when they abuse the policy. Then they fight and come up with a host of excuses. There is no where near enough bandwidth to use wifi.
  • Shane:  slow internet,  finding apps. Not everyone has one, some kids don’t have smart phones. Theft. Keeping everyone actually working and not sidetracked or on a game.

What they have learned: 

  • Mark: I have learned that I have a LOT more to learn how to use technology in my class especially a BYOD policy. Schools are NOT ready for this policy yet. They have no good way to police and monitor school work is being done.

I think Mark said it best- often times the more you learn, the more you begin to realize you have so much more to learn. Using cell phones in the classroom with students isn’t easy, but as you can see it can be a powerful learning tool. With the right guidance and policy, cell phone use in the classroom can empower students to take ownership of their learning and can promote a more personalized learning environment.

Discovering Something New

This post is for my EDIM 514 Internet Tools For Teaching course.

This week I was asked to explore 3 new sites and share my thoughts. The three sites I chose are:





I was excited to explore this site because I often times have to record quick videos to share with educators. When you are working with a large number of people and are asked “how do I do x,y.z” it’s much more efficient to create a quick video and post it instead of having to repeat yourself a million times.

What I really like about this website is that there is a “click here to start recording” option which gets you going instantly. You don’t have to register, with one click of a button you get a window that allows you to select what you want to record, and you are up and running. After you record, a window comes up that allows you to preview your recording. It also asks you what you want to do with the recording (upload to Screencast, upload to YouTube, or publish to Video File).

If you want more features and functionality, you can download Screencast. I clicked on the download button and it easily walked me through the download and installation process. It took about 3-5 minutes before I was up and running. Once I opened the app it asked if I want to enable Pro features or continue with the free version. I chose free version. It opened the same screen I saw before that allows me to adjust the area I want to record, add the webcam, adjust the volume, and record. Once I begin recording it gives you a “3, 2, 1” countdown before the recording begins. After you select “done”, it asks you the same options I mentioned earlier of what you want to do with this video.

I’m sure the pro version gives you more options, but I think this free version is great for educators and for students. You can record your voice and the computer screen, creating quick and easy tutorials for students. For example, if you are a HS math teacher you could record yourself solving a math problem and post it online so students can watch while they work on their homework. Or you could have your students record themselves solving a math problem or a science equation so you can see their thought process.

All in all I think this is a very simple, easy to use website that allows you to start recording directly from the site or download the app to your computer. No need to register  or give any information which makes it even more appealing. There are no obnoxious adds on the site and it’s very user friendly. All of the buttons tell you what they do when you hover over it, making it very easy to use. I think this is a great resource for teachers or students to use whenever they want to create quick video tutorials.


4Freephotos is a public domain website of great quality images. From the website “We are a group of photographers who enjoy taking pictures and decided to share them with the public to use them for free in their private or commercial projects. We hope you find the collection of free and public domain images useful.”

This is a great resource for educators and students because they don’t have to worry about if they have rights to use the image they find from this site.

As I explored the site, I found it very user friendly and easy to navigate. There are categories on the left hand side of the screen, as well as a search box at the top of the site to search for a specific image. Once you find an image, you can share it on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google +), and you can download it. Once I clicked on download it automatically started to download.

I like that you don’t have to create an account to use this site. The images I found seem very high quality. I think this is a great site for educators to use to add images to their presentations, making them look more professional. I also think this is a great site for students to use to search for images when they are working on digital projects. There are no adds on the site except for images you can purchase at the bottom of the screen.  My only concern for this site would be coming across inappropriate images that students should not see. But after doing a few searches I didn’t find anything that looked even remotely inappropriate.


iPiccy is a free online photo editor. It allows you to upload an image and make a number of changes to it before you download the modified version. The site is free and there is no registration. You just click on the “start editing” button to get started. I really like sites that you don’t have to register for because the barrier to entry is low for educators that have a lower “click quota” 🙂 It also means you don’t have to remember a username or password.

Once I uploaded an image, the first thing I noticed was an add at the top of the screen that says “play with your webcam online, click to start!” This add is very concerning to me as an educator and I would be cautious to use this site with my students with an add like that.

The interface is very easy to navigate- there are a number of options on the left and along the top that allow me to modify the image- such as crop, add effects, painter, add frames, resize, etc. Once I’m finished editing the image, there is a save button that allows you to download, or upload to Flickr or Facebook.

I like the functionality of this website and the ease of use, and I would recommend this to educators for their own personal use to modify images. However I would hesitate to have them use it with students with adds like the one I mentioned above. I would love to find out if educators have used this with students and if so, did they have any issues with these ads.

(Enjoy the image I modified with iPiccy of my newborn son!)


Filling Up My Toolbox

The following post is for my EDIM 514 Internet Tools For Teaching course.

This week we had to evaluate tools from 3 different categories: A URL shortener, QR Codes, and Bookmarklets. Here is a summary of the 3 tools I evaluated.

URL Shortener:

I have used a URL shortener many times. I often work with educators and am sharing many different web tools. Many of the URSL are long, and I have a lot to cover in a short amount of time with these teachers so I often use a URL shortener to give them a short link they can quickly type in or write down. I have only used Tinyurl.com as well as a URL shortener we have through Discovery. So I thought I would try Google’s Goo.gl. It is incredibly easy to use, you just copy and paste the long URL and press enter. What I really like about this is that it keeps track of how many people click on your shortened URL, so you can keep track of the traffic. You can even click on the “details” to find out what day and time people accessed your link. Because this is a tool by Google, if you are logged into your Google account, it will keep track of all of your URL shorteners when you visit http://goo.gl/. This is a great resource to use with students to create short links to class websites or links to student work so you can track the traffic.

QR Codes:

I have experimented with QR codes but haven’t spent much time with them. I saw a great scavenger hunt activity using QR codes when I sat in on a Common Core PD session. Each table had several QR codes. When we scanned them, they took us to different questions about the Common Core. We had to use the resources provided to find the answers.

I saw another great use of QR codes by students where the students created QR codes that linked to websites they had created that had all sorts of information about what they were studying. They could like to a Discovery Ed board builder, a Wiki, or a Padlet for example.

The webiste we used for this activity (http://delivr.com/) was very easy to use. You simply type in the URL and create the code. You can download the QR code in a number of different types of file formats. I have embedded mine below. I downloaded it as a .jpeg and inserted it into this blog.

QR Code









For this activity I explored Quietube. This is a GREAT tool that allows you to only see a YouTube Video without all of the comments and ads that often times accompany a page. This took 30 seconds to use. All I had to do is drag the Quietube button to my bookmark toolbar, and then when I go to a YouTube video I click the Quietube button and it gives me a simple page with just the video. You can even create a short link to the video using Bitly. Here is a video I used with Quietube. I think this is a great resource to use with students. Teachers can find great content on sites like YouTube but sometimes there are inappropriate comments or ads on that page. By using Quietube, all they will see is the video. This also helps to focus their attention because there aren’t a million things on the page to distract their attention.


Digging Deeper

This week I’m evaluating 3 sites to use in the classroom: Facebook (social), Voicethread (creative), and EduClipper (curation). Below are my thoughts on each tool.



I strongly believe in the power of social learning and I was excited to dive deep with Facebook to see how educators are using it to enhance student learning. I have been using Facebook for years but mostly for personal use. It’s only been within the past year that I have started connecting with educators on Facebook to share and ask work related questions. Facebook is incredibly easy to use and easy to connect with others. I think the status updates are incredibly easy to digest as they are short and sweet. Within the last year I have seen many of my educator friends post helpful websites, blogs, resources, etc. Facebook has become a great place for these educators to go for their own professional growth. If someone has a question about how to use a Web 2.0 tool, they have 15-20 replies within a few hours. Over the past few months I have found myself checking Facebook to learn from my PLN more than I check Twitter.

For the purpose of this blog post I wanted to find out more about how educators are using Facebook with their students. One way that I found many educators are doing is to create a classroom page on Facebook that their students can “like”. Instead of being “friends” with their students, teachers are creating these classroom pages to post homework information, assignments, post discussion questions, and share class work. I think this is a great way to meet the kids where they are, especially middle school and high school students who are always on Facebook to begin with. This allows the teachers and students to connect with one another outside the walls of the classroom, making the learning more meaningful and engaging.

Another way teachers are using Facebook is by creating closed class groups where students have to request to join. This can be a great space for the class to share their thoughts, questions, concerns or work.

I think there are many reasons why Facebook can be a helpful tool for educators and students. In researching how it is used, I came across this blog post that shares 50 reasons to use Facebook. One of my favorite reasons is “Facebook provides an opportunity for collaborative learning”. This is an important skill all students need to master to be successful in the working world.



Prior to this post, I had only used Voicethread a few times for another Wilkes course. I have heard educators talk a lot about this resource, so I wanted to spend some time evaluating it as an instructional tool and find out how educators are using it with students. The site itself is fairly easy to navigate, however I noticed it isn’t as user friendly as a site like Facebook, Pinterest or Padlet. It takes some time to figure out how to post images and add your voice to those images.

What I really like about this tool is that it gives students the power to share what they are learning in their own words. They have to think critically about what they want to say, how they will say it, and what images they will use to enhance their message. I also really like the fact that other students can view and comment on their peer’s Voicethreads. This is a great way to provide feedback on student work not only from the teacher but also from their classmates and even family members.

In researching how teachers are using this, I found this blog post on Richard Byrne’s webiste that shares 100 ways to use Voicethread in education.  One example that a teacher shares is using it to help students practice pronunciation for ESL students. The teacher can record them saying the words or sentences correctly, and then the students can add their voice saying it. Many educators also said they use Voicethread as a professional development tool to introduce new Web 2.0 tools to other educators.



I had heard about this website but have never spent any time with it. Within a few seconds I had created an account and began searching for content. I am very familiar with Diigo, Delicious and Symbaloo so I am familiar with the how and why of curation tools. What I really like about EduClipper is the fact that it is designed specifically for the k-12 space, so finding content is easier because you are not just looking on Google, you are looking through content that other educators have “clipped”. As an educator, you can create student accounts that allow you to monitor and moderate their content. I love the idea of having students use the content that they have saved to create their own digital portfolio. This is a great way to authentically assess students and highlight their work over time. In Untangling the Web, they highlight one of the ways educators can use this site with students is to create “eduExperts”. Students would pick a topic or subject and then clip resources on that topic to serve as a resource or reference for the class on that topic.

After spending some time with this site I’m very excited to introduce it to educators in my professional development and community building sessions. Trying to find quality information can often times feel like you are trying to drink from a fire hose. There is so much information out there, and tools that help you find high quality content and curate the information by tags helps to organize information.


Using New Technologies

This post is for my EDIM 514 Internet Tools for Teaching course.

For this blog post I interviewed Lesley Johnson. Lesley is a Chemistry and Biology teacher in the DC area, and she also teaches at their virtual high school.

Here is my interview with her, as well as my thoughts at the bottom:

1. How did you decide which tools to use with their students?

Lesley:  At my school, we have someone who provides the staff with technology specific professional development.  She provides weekly training sessions to introduce us to various Web 2.0 tools.  During the training sessions, she shows us how to access the tool  (i.e. if an account must be established) and how to use the tool.  In addition to learning the tool, she also shares how the tool has been used by her or someone else in the building.  She set up a wiki site which allows us to see some ways the tools have been used by teachers.  At the end of each session, she helps us to brainstorm ways we can use the tool in our subject area.  She helps us to both create and implement our ideas.

2. What obstacles did you need to overcome to obtain permission to do such a project?

Lesley: Fortunately, our school has access to computer labs as well as iPad carts.  In order to use the equipment, especially the iPads, we need to sign up through an online resource calendar and explain how we will be using them.  The school would like to see the iPads used for something beyond a web browser.

3. What advice would you give to a teacher seeking to replicate your efforts?

Lesley: Be familiar with the tool before you use it with your students.  Go through your directions as if you were a student so you will be ready to answer any questions.  Consider creating a rubric that will evaluate both content and web tool skills.


My thoughts/reflections: 

In order for teachers to use new tools, they first need to have access, and they also need to have confidence in how to use it effectively. Lesley is fortunate to have someone dedicated at her school to provide PD on new technology. Many schools do not have a dedicated person and the teachers are left to figure things out in their free time (what free time??!). I understand why many schools choose to have iPad or laptop carts, as it is an equitable solution so that all students and teachers have access to the technology. However the down side is that no one has ownership of the technology, and it often times is just used in basic ways, as “web browsers” as Lesley mentioned above. The more ownership a student or teacher has over the technology, the more they will use it. No school has the budget to add technology to all classrooms at once, but they can add them over time and give all teachers the opportunity by having them apply to get the technology and agree to a certain amount of PD.  Lastly, I really like Lesley’s advice about going through the tool as if you were the student. See how the tool will be used through their eyes so the teacher can be prepared for any questions.



Creative Commons

For EDIM 514 Wilkes Master’s Program.


I chose Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

This allows people to share and/or remix my work with the condition that they attribute the work to my site.

I chose this because the information that I post on my blog is intended to help people. I enjoy sharing with others and my hope is that they will find it valuable enough to pass the information along. I want people to take what I have shared and make it their own.  I don’t have anything I want to “protect” as most of what I share is a mash-up of information that I have come across.



Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.