Adventures in Online Professional Learning: Spruce Up Your Ed Tech Skills & Knowledge by Kristina Ayers Paul

Kristina Ayers Paul

Kristina Ayers Paul

Adventures in Online Professional Learning: Spruce Up Your Ed Tech Skills & Knowledge

 The summer days are slipping away, and soon you will be immersed in the exciting yet busy first days of the new school year. Surely, a slate of inservice trainings about new school policies and programs awaits you, but what about those personal PD goals that you have in mind for sprucing up your ed tech knowledge and skills this year? In this blog post I will share a list of some of my favorite go-to resources for free online learning about educational technology. However, before you dive into your personalized ed tech PD adventure, take a few minutes to focus your exploration by answering these questions:

  • What are your goals? What are the problems that you have that require a solution? It is really easy to get excited and distracted by all of the sparkly gems you stumble across when exploring new resources such as these, so start by identifying your learning goals. Establish your goals and then stay focused. If you find other topics that you are tempted to explore – that’s fine – just bookmark them and put them aside while you work toward accomplishing your primary PD goal. Don’t get lost in rabbit holes.
  • How will you organize the ideas or resources that you find? I can’t tell you how many times I have found something really special online and thought, “Wow! I really need to keep this in a place where I won’t forget.” Can you guess what happens next? That’s right. I save it, bookmark it, or email it to myself, and then promptly forget about it. Months, or even years later, I find it buried in my inbox or lost in one of my Google Bookmark folders. I’ve tried it all – Evernote, Google Bookmarks, Diigo, Readability, Papers, ScoopIt, and even a little notebook that I keep in my desk drawer – and I’ve finally realized that the trick is to pick one tool that works for you and to stick with it. So do that now! Decide which tool you are going to use to organize your future findings and STICK WITH IT!
  • What specific steps will you take to keep yourself accountable for following through on your new learning? It is essential that you set yourself up for action, not just for consuming new information. One of the most challenging aspects of designing effective professional development is in moving new knowledge into practice. What measures can you put in place to support your commitment to converting your new knowledge into action? Maybe you could incorporate your personal ed tech goals into the formal professional development plan you develop each year for your school administrator? Maybe you could set up a timeline for action and set up reminders in your Google Calendar to keep you on track? Maybe you could find a partner or team of other like-minded colleagues who would be interested in setting up an accountability group, one in which you share your goals, develop a timeline for action, and meet on a regular basis to discuss your progress. This final strategy is one that I use. Not only does it help each of us stay on track with our goals, but it is also refreshing to have biweekly or monthly Google Hangouts during which we support and encourage one another.

 And now for the list of my favorite free, online learning resources to develop my understanding and use of educational technology…

Edudemic: Connecting Education & Technology

Edudemic is the first place that I visit if I want to know anything about educational technology. This “community-focused and resource-sharing destination for millions” offers articles, infographics, tips, lists, and how-to guides galore in easy-to-read-and-digest formats. From quick information such as the best apps for IOS and Android to deeper topics such as Why Every Student Should Learn Computer Science, this site offers lots of concrete information, as well as good food for thought.

 The Teaching Channel

This website offers a showcase of high-quality, relevant professional learning videos for teachers; a selection of which are also aired in weekly, one-hour PBS television programs around the country. The videos focus on real teachers in real classrooms using and reflecting on high-powered teaching strategies. A number of the videos in this growing library are focused on technology (as of 07/30/14 there were 135 videos) with topics as varied as assessing students with handheld devices, teaching stop-frame animation, using technology to teach hard-to-teach math and science concepts, and designing poetry work stations with technology. Don’t miss the video playlist focusing on digital citizenship.

Twitter

It is popular to suggest that Twitter be used as a source of free professional development, but how do you actually do it? This Teacher’s Guide to Twitter from Edudemic is all you need – other than an actual Twitter account – to navigate Twitter for the purpose of professional learning. From the basics to more advanced tips, this guide covers it all. I particularly like the infographic of educational twitter hashtags, which will help you link into the communities of practice that most interest you. Our NAGC Computers and Technology Network community may be most interested in #EdTech, #ELearning, and #GTChat. Perhaps we should start our own hashtag to signify tweets of interest to the network and other techies in gifted education! Let’s try #NAGCTechNet and see if it takes off.

 ScoopIt

This is a tool that anyone can use to collect and create digital content around topics of interest. I use the free version of the tool to manage my own collections of keep-worthy content from around the web, but I also find great inspiration and ideas from other ScoopIt users who are curating topics that interest me. For example, Educational Technology News by EDTC@UTB, iPads in Education Daily by Jon Samuelson, and Tools for Teachers and Learners by Nik Peachey are just a few of the curated topics that I follow. I receive daily email alerts highlighting content recently “scooped” by those I follow, and when I log in to the site I also receive a list of computer-generated content suggestions based on the topics that I curate. I currently use the free, standard account, which has suited my needs well, but pro versions and a new education version are also available. You might be interested in following my “Tech Tools to Facilitate Learning” topic, where for the past year I have collected a number of articles, news briefs, and other digital content related to that topic.

 

So these are some of my favorite go-to resources for my own learning about educational technology. I’m sure there are plenty of other great resources out there. What are your favorites? Leave a comment on this blog or tweet your contributions with the hashtag #NAGCTechNet.

 Kristina Ayers Paul is an Assistant Professor of Gifted, Creative, and Talented Studies at Purdue University. She is the incoming chair of the NAGC Computer and Technology Network.

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6 Tips for Teachers New to Technology by Lisa Van Gemert

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1 - embrace learning curveEmbrace the learning curve: One reason children learn additional languages more easily than adults do is that they’re willing to speak the target language without fear of sounding childish.  The same is true of technology. One of the things that holds us back is fear of looking foolish. Do you remember the feeling you had when you had been teaching a few years and thought back about your first year teaching? Were you like me and wished you could go apologize to the poor kids who had you for a teacher that year?  You’ll feel the same way about technology!  You will work with it for a while and then realize that what you’d done before was terrible, but that’s okay. It’s exactly the way the pattern goes.

Make sure it’s the right fit: Keep in mind that technology is for the classroom, not the classroom for the technology.  Don’t just throw technology tools or projects or apps in because you feel pressured to do so.  Invite it in, and feel free to invite it to leave when that’s what’s best. Use technology when it will do at least two of these things: enhance the product, differentiate learning, save time, reduce stress, invite creativity, develop skills, meet a standard. If it can’t do at least two of these things, it’s perhaps not the best tool at that time.

Walk before you run: You can easily become overwhelmed with the wide range of technology tools available, including social media.  Sometimes, we’ll get excited about it and jump in with both feet before we’re really ready and then quit in the same way people sometimes do with fitness plans. A slow and steady pace is best to make sure you don’t get overwhelmed.  A great place to start is to follow some blogs for awhile and get a feel for the language and trends. If you see a tool or method mentioned multiple times, it might be worth a deeper look. Here are some great places to start: Cool CatTeacherEdu Blogger; Richard Byrne; Erin Klein; Keith Ferrell.

4-curation Curation isn’t just for museums anymore: You will quickly learn that you will need an organization method.  This can be as simple as notecards with the tech tool tip written down on it, along with a description, all the way to an app or other tech help.  Whatever works for you is what’s best, but make sure you pick something or you will forget many of the great ideas you pick up.

Here are some options for you: Pinterest: Set up different boards for different kinds of technology. Possible boards would include: apps, tech for student products, teacher helps, websites to follow, to explore, and tutorials and helps.  Visit Erin Klein’s Pinterest for Teachers for ideas on how to use Pinterest in the classroom. Diigo: Diigo lets you build a personal library of information that is stored in the cloud (not on your computer so you can access it anywhere).  It even has virtual sticky notes.  One real benefit is that allows you to archive web pages, so you will never encounter a dead link again on something you really need. Feedly: Feedly funnels all of the websites you follow into one site, allowing you to see at a glance what’s new. You can create categories for the different sites.  Very easy to use and a great way to keep up without going crazy. MyFaves: It’s simple to use MyFaves to make your virtual desktop a repository of the sites you use most in a visually appealing way. Other sites, like Symballoo, also do this. So just pick the one you like best.  I find MyFaves to be the most clean-looking, which is important to me. Evernote: You can take and organize notes in Evernote, of course, but it also lets you save, share, and mark up webpages. You can share marked-up webpages, too, which is quite handy. Copy:  Like Dropbox, Copy lets you save files in the Cloud and share them.  Google docs is great, too, but if you have a need for something else (plays better with your device, want to open the document in the actual program rather than Google docs, looks prettier, etc.), Copy is my favorite.

5 - tutorials

Tutorials are your friend. If you find a tool you’d like to use, but you’re not sure how or the site itself isn’t fully explanatory, tutorials are at your fingertips on Pinterest, TeacherTubeSchoolTube , and of course, YouTube.  Pinterest has a terrible search feature, so use your favorite search engine and search “pinterest fill-in-the-blank tutorial” to find what you want.  Chances are, if you want to try it, someone’s made a tutorial for you.  Look through a couple of tutorials before you try it if you’re nervous to build confidence and familiarity.

Join a community: Whether it’s virtual or in real life, find a group of educators with whom to share ideas and experiences.  If you’re into social media, you can find them easily on Twitter, FacebookInstagram, or any of the other myriad social media platforms.  Twitter works especially well for learning tech, and you can find out lots more about how teachers can use it at Edudemic’s Ultimate Twitter Guidebook for Teachers. Technology doesn’t need to be intimidating. With these simple tips, you’ll be well on your way to using technology in a way that helps your students and makes you feel comfortable.

Disclaimer & Credit Love: Some of this material previously appeared on my website, giftedguru, and the images are from my fave source for free images, Pixabay. I created the images with the text in Picmonkey, a terrific free image editing site.
 

L_VanGemertLisa Van Gemert, Mensa Gifted Youth Specialist, designs and creates programs for gifted children, develops curriculum for gifted children, and interfaces with parents regarding educational concerns. Her published articles focus on the social and emotional needs of gifted students, and her speaking engagements include both national and international keynotes. Lisa creates and curates the Mensa for Kids website as well as her own site, Gifted Guru.

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2014: An Invitation to Participate

2014: An Invitation to Participate

by Cindy Sheets

Baltimore, Maryland. A beautiful location for the NAGC 61st Annual Convention. November 13-16, 2014.

Baltimore, Maryland. A beautiful location for the NAGC 61st Annual Convention. November 13-16, 2014.

Another new year has begun, and with it all of the hopes and expectations for a better and brighter experience in the year ahead. There were some notable highlights in the past year for our Network.

First, I want to thank all those who shared their expertise and knowledge with us at the 2013 NAGC convention. We had an excellent array of topics and ideas! If you presented this year, I hope that you will consider writing for our monthly blog to share once again. These are short pieces that highlight one topic, idea or a favorite tech tool that you can’t live without. Of course, you are welcome to submit a blog article, even if you were not a presenter this year. We’d love to hear your story.

The proposal process for next year’s convention is already up and ready to go, just waiting for your great ideas. I hope you will consider sharing with us in 2014. Do you have a great unit that incorporates technology? A great idea on how to utilize and/or manage tech tools? Or a great project that helped your students shine? You can access the information you need and the proposal submission web pages here:

NAGC 61st Annual Convention & Exhibition Proposal Submission Site

In 2013, we added a fabulous new volunteer to our Network: Dallas Price. Living in Alaska makes it difficult to be with us “offline” and in person, but she more than makes up for that in her “online” work as our Newsletter/Blog editor and more.  We will also be sharing with you soon her fantastic idea to help us share even more within our Network.

Looking for Blog Volunteers:  contact Cindy Sheets cindys2449@aol.com  or Dallas Price  price.dallas@gmail.com. Please include “CT Blog” in your subject line.

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SPEED Geeking 2013

Speed Geeking 2013: Enjoy the great apps and web tools presented by this year’s NAGC Speed Geekers!

Speed Geek: Brian Housand  

DIY

Diy.org - Get skills. Be awesome.
DIY is the best way for kids to get skills, meet others who share the same passions, and generally be awesome. Every member has their own portfolio where they share what they make and do, and earn embroidered skill patches for completing sets of challenges.
The big idea is that anyone can become anything just by trying. And it’s free to join us. Hundreds of thousands of kids, families and educators already have! Kids can join our website or download the DIY app to get started. If you’re an adult, consider starting a DIY Club or DIY Classroom.

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60in60.org - The best of the education tech world! Find presentations that Brian has shared around the world and back. Great tools to use for productivity, creativity, and more.

Speed Geek: Janine Firminder

Home-logoNPDshadow Nearpod.com – Bring the classroom to life with interactive mobile presentations that teachers create and customize themselves. Teachers can see all student activity in real-time, check attendance and identify students who log out from Nearpod – See more at: http://www.nearpod.com/how-it-works/#video39006989
Allows you to “push out” what is on your device to the classroom.

Speed Geek: Laila Sanguras  

logo-betaNewsela.com - News site linked to anchor strands from the Common Core. Read closely. Think critically.  Be worldly.  Newsela is an innovative way for students to build reading comprehension with nonfiction that’s always relevant: daily news. It’s easy and amazing. Register now or learn more about the impact Newsela can have on your classroom

TweetDeck – Keep up with your Twitter feeds all in one place!

Speed Geek: Ginger Lewman  

Two-Guys-Banner2_zpsac3a8d84Two Guys and Some iPads
These tech gurus (Brad and Drew) have a wealth of information and tutorials for teachers on how to integrate technology in the classroom.

Augmented Reality (AR) is the next big thing coming to education. These apps and tools will help your students understand AR and add excitement and a new twist to the learning environment

KITE7Aurasma - Augmented reality – app and website

Screen Shot 2013-11-17 at 4.58.34 PM  colAR App - “Color in the book pages and then see them come to life as they pop out of the page as 3D models on your mobile.”

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Piikea Street –  a fun activity using VR to create animal masks you can wear electronically!

Speed Geek: Shirley Farrell  

Screen Shot 2013-11-17 at 5.08.21 PMVisual Poetry – Word Collage App – Make beautiful text collages. Pictures with contrast. iTunes  $1.99

Screen Shot 2013-11-17 at 5.11.31 PMIntellidrops – Improve STEM Comprehension. Intellidrops can help families meet each of the recommendations.  Intellidrops includes STEM concepts for almost all grades including elementary.  STEM concepts are integrated into ‘drops’ illuminating them in the real world, which helps students find relevancy and develop understanding in these critical areas.  It is difficult for educators to find enough time in a school day to “cover” all of the required curriculum.  Intellidrops is a tool parents can use to engage students in STEM concepts after school hours in a way that students will find engaging and meaningful.   When brought to life in the real world, STEM concepts generate excitement in students’ minds and increase their motivation to learn.

Intelligallery  for teachers – Shirley Farrell – email support@intellidrops.com

Screen Shot 2013-11-24 at 8.00.09 PM   WordFoto “You’ve probably heard the tired cliche about a picture being worth a thousand words. We’ve taken this phrase quite literally and created WordFoto, an app that turns your photos and words into amazing typographic works of art.”

Screen Shot 2013-11-24 at 8.06.19 PMTypeDrawing

“TypeDrawing is super easy and perfect for creating typography art and even unique watermarks on your photos. Type a sentence, then just draw with your finger. Voila! You’ve now got a one of a kind, totally unique and amazing typographic work of art. If you love typography, or even if you don’t know what that means, you can easily create poetic visual art with this fun and easy-to-use app.”

Speed Geek: Melissae Stiles   

Screen Shot 2013-11-17 at 5.24.06 PMKerbal Space Program
A simulation that will enable students to experience building and launching rockets. About $27.00.

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Kansas Cosmosphere & Space Center
The Cosmosphere is one of Kansas’ best kept secrets. It features a wonderful space museum associated with the Smithsonian, and summer camps that focus on astronomy and space for kids of all ages. A lot of teacher related workshops as well can be found in Hutchinson, KS.

Speed Geek: Lisa Van Gemert  

Screen Shot 2013-11-17 at 5.34.40 PMPhotoFunia “is the best way to add a spark to your photos, make them special and more original. In only a few seconds an amazing photo collage is ready, absolutely free. PhotoFunia is so straight forward to use, that anyone, at any age, can use it with ease.
Would you like to see your picture on the cover of a magazine or on advertising billboards of Times Square? How amazing will it be to see your portrait on the walls of Louvre or Hermitage museums? Want to try out an astronaut or a Santa suit? Or you prefer something more exotic, just like a dancer at the Rio’s carnival? Excited to find out how good you look with a witch’s hat or a queen’s crown on? Perhaps you’re just looking for a nice frame for your photos on a special occasion?
Make your own mark on the sand or write graffiti text on the wall, carve your name on the ground or create your very own road sign using our fantastic text effects.
To add a touch of shade to your photo, make it black & white or age it visit Filters category.”

Screen Shot 2013-11-17 at 5.36.30 PMPicMonkey: The Free Online Photo Editor “What is PicMonkey? Is it house-trained? Can it make my photos better? Awesomeness, maybe, and most definitely! PicMonkey is a free online photo editor that takes your images from good to glorious with a heaping load of fun. It’s photo editing for people who have a ton of creativity but no time for learning software. Whether you want to touch up a profile pic, try a new effect, or use our collage maker, we’ve got the photo editing features for you. So what’re you waiting for: edit a photo now!”

“Need a new project for fall photos?  Try Collage!
If you’ve ever wondered what a collage maker can do for your photos, you’re in for a real treat with PicMonkey Collage. A photo collage is a great way to save memories from a day with friends or a fabulous vacation, enliven your Facebook cover image, or show sequential images for a how-to or information graphic. Click “Create a collage” on the home page and see how easily our flexible layouts can set you on the road to Beautiful in no time.”

Colourcode
Use this web site to locate the hex codes for html colors. Slide around until you find the perfect color and grab your code!

Screen Shot 2013-11-17 at 5.41.12 PM morgueFile: Looking for high resolution stock photos for your illustration, comp or design needs? Search morgueFile for free reference images. Yes, they’re all completely free. whether you’re an illustrator, art director, instructor or looking to add a defining visual to a presentation.

iStock Photo: Join the newsletter – gives away a free photo ever week, one video every month. Also try Shutter Stock.

Freerange_Logo-NavFree Range Stock Photos:  Another great resource when looking for photos to use in projects.

Speed Geek: Debbie Hazelton, E-Gifted    

logoCode.org is a non-profit dedicated to growing computer science education by making it available in more schools, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color. Our vision is that every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer programming. We believe computer science should be part of the core curriculum in education, alongside other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses, such as biology, physics, chemistry and algebra.

Screen Shot 2013-11-17 at 5.50.21 PMCodecademy  “is an education company. But not one in the way you might think. We’re committed to building the best learning experience inside and out, making Codecademy the best place for our team to learn, teach, and create the online learning experience of the future.

Education is old. The current public school system in the US dates back to the 19th century and wasn’t designed to scale the way it has. Lots of companies are working to “disrupt” education by changing the way things work in the classroom and by bringing the classroom online.

We’re not one of those companies. We are rethinking education from the bottom up. The web has rethought nearly everything – commerce, social networking, healthcare, and more. We are building the education the world needs – the first truly net native education. We take more cues from Facebook and Zynga in creating an engaging educational experience than we do from the classroom.

We do not want to open up universities. We want to open up knowledge. Everyone knows something they can teach someone else and we want to help them do it. Our community has created tens of thousands of courses and taken millions of courses. At this point, more than a billion lines of code have been submitted to Codecademy.”

Speed Geek: Cindy Sheets   

Screen Shot 2013-11-17 at 5.53.01 PMReadability Use this browser app to turn a busy page into one that is much easier to read. The text is enlarged, and all of the ads and extraneous material is removed from the page. Links and important photos remain. Sometimes you can even print in this format. Great for your elementary students (and old eyes.)

Apps Gone Free
This handy app alerts you daily to a number of apps that are free for a limited time. This is a great way to explore some games or activities that you might not want to pay for. And if you like them, they’re yours for free!  Just don’t get too carried away – I have to limit myself!

Screen Shot 2013-11-17 at 5.56.59 PMInterlocked Wrap your mind around the next intensive puzzle game – Interlocked!  A 3D puzzle game with a chilling atmosphere. You know those puzzles consisting of a few wooden blocks that are impossible take apart? Then you know Interlocked. Each level, you’re given a unique 3D puzzle consisting of blocks that hold each other together. Take it apart and you’ll feel ten times as smart. 

Swippe A visual math game. The answer is provided; your job is to make a path including numbers and symbols to add, subtract, multiply, or divide. Sometimes two digits are needed, but often the path is not clear. Great thinking game to practice arithmetic thinking. Available on iTunes.

Screen Shot 2013-11-17 at 6.04.13 PMStopMotion Animation
There are a variety of great apps now available to create stop motion animation on your iPad or iPhone, ranging in price from $9.99 to free. iStopMotion is $9.99. Stop Motion Studio is one of the free versions. Check them out and see which one you like best!

slideshark-header-logoSlideShark is a presentation platform with a website and companion app. Upload a PowerPoint, then download it to your app. Embedded links actually stay active and work! Free storage that will hold quite a few of your presentations. There’s even a way to use one device as a remote.

Speed Geek: Cryil Pruszko 

Screen Shot 2013-11-17 at 6.10.18 PMPhoster  With stylish templates which are already within the application, you will be able to create posters without great effort.
When you get the job done of first step making posters, you can utilize various effects and decorates to complete the chic posters your own. $1.99.

Screen Shot 2013-11-17 at 6.17.31 PMPath on: Draw a line with your finger and your text will appear along the line. We also provide simple shapes, like a spiral, circle, or square. Our app works great for anyone into scrapbooking, artistic photos, or even just making fun pictures to share.

Pandamian: Free ebook creator. The easiest book creator ever.

Easelly: Free infographic creator with drag and drop feature.

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Gearing Up for Another Great Year!

Cindy Sheets, NAGC Computers & Technology Network Chair

Excitement is in the air! Fall has arrived, football season is in full swing, and of course, the NAGC annual convention is almost here. Although not everyone can attend in person, I hope that I’ll see many of you in Indianapolis. If not, know that you are with us in spirit. I’m always eager to get away from my daily teaching job (elementary gifted resource) and meet with my fellow gifted teachers and tech “nerds.”

As your new Network Chair, I am excited to share with you the many activities that will be going on at convention, as well as what you can expect throughout the year.  I know that many of you have already signed on to our NAGC Computers & Technology FaceBook page. If not, we hope to see you there soon. Please share with us your questions and your successes. Using a great new tool or app? Please pass it along.

We hope to have another great set of blog posts out to you monthly. Members of the network volunteer to share an idea, technology application, or great teaching practices. We have some other new ideas incubating, and we’ll be sharing those with you soon as well. I’m thrilled that Kristina Ayers Paul has been elected as our Network Chair Elect and she has already been hard at work getting ready for our annual Speed Geeking evening event in Indianapolis. Dallas Price, gifted educator from Alaska, has volunteered to be our Newsletter & Blog organizer. Although she won’t be traveling to Indianapolis, she’s a perfect example of those interested in participating in our Network throughout the year.

So whether we see you in Indianapolis or on Facebook, here’s to a great year of learning and sharing.

Cindy Sheets

2013 NAGC Conference Events:

Network meeting: 3:45-4:45, Room 105

Evening event:   7:30-8:30 PM   Speed Geeking, White River Ballroom G, first floor,  JW Marriott Hotel

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Blending Our Way Through Another School Year by Laila Sanguras

Sanguras

Laila Sanguras

Laila Sanguras teaches eighth grade English Language Arts to gifted students in Texas. She has used the blended format to teach students gifted academically (eighth graders needing to take ninth grade English) and to students gifted athletically (competitive gymnasts unable to attend class everyday). In addition to teaching GT Language Arts in a traditional environment next year, she will also teach blended Language Arts to eighth graders of all abilities and a blended sophomore English course for gifted eighth graders.

Blending Our Way Through Another School Year 

Blended learning is a learning model that is gaining in popularity among K-12 schools. It differs from a traditional learning environment in that the teacher/facilitator designs learning experiences that purposefully combine face-to-face and online instruction.

Here are some resources (free, of course) that may be helpful in keeping you from losing your balance when all that blending is going on.

CourseSites: This is the free version of Blackboard. I have used both of Blackboard’s online platforms (the free and the expensive) and I noticed very few differences. You are limited in the number of courses you can create in CourseSites, but the options, formats, and technical support are excellent. It’s different from merely setting up a Google site or some other website because it is customized for educational purposes (offering pages for blogs, wikis, tests, etc.).

Free Online Courses: Open Culture offers 725 free online courses in a variety of formats: iTunesU, websites, videos, readings, etc. Professors from prestigious universities like Yale, Stanford, Harvard, and NYU have offered their courses to us – FREE. The resources here are overwhelming and you are sure to find something to challenge your brightest students.

Videos: Sharing videos with students from YouTube can be a little dicey, but with ViewPure, you can clean up the area around the video so you no longer have to worry about what other videos “you might also enjoy.” TubeChop is a tool you can use to chop a YouTube video to capture only the portions of a video you want to share with your students. TedEd is an amazing resource with a ton of videos and lessons geared towards K-12 students – seriously, you could lose a weekend browsing this site. If you want students to create videos, getting the free Animoto educator account is a must! The graphics and transitions are appealing to students, and the educator account allows students to create videos of any length.

Presentation Tools: Thinglink allows students to use music, video, text, and images to demonstrate their learning. Imagine taking an image and then adding hotspots where the viewer clicks to additional information in a variety of formats. You may also like Museum Box as a way for you to design lessons or for students to create. Tiki-Toki (a website where you can create a digital timeline) is a great way for students to demonstrate their growth in a course.

Beyond all of this, blended learning requires a shift in control; the teacher guides students down an educational path, allowing them to personalize their learning. Because of this power and the flexibility in depth and pacing, this model is very effective with gifted learners. As with any shift in education, though, we must maintain high standards, use technology as one tool to achieve learning goals, ask challenging questions, and provide opportunities to develop creative problem solving skills. All in 50 minutes a day.

 

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Five Inspiring Resources by Ian Byrd

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Ian Byrd

Ian Byrd taught gifted students in Southern California. He now writes about gifted education at Byrdseed.com, produces videos for professional development at Byrdseed.TV, and travels to speak with teachers around the country.

Five Inspiring Resources

Sometimes it just takes a quick moment to inspire our gifted students to deeply explore a new topic. The web is rich with such information, imagery, and video clips. In fact, it can be too rich! Where to begin?

Here are five consistently great sources for inspiration. They’re perfect for finding exciting class openers, intriguing writing prompts, or simply ways to satisfy your own curiosity.

Be sure to preview anything before you share at school, not everything on these sites is necessarily appropriate for your students.

It’s Okay to Be Smart

It’s Okay To Be Smart is a blog written by Joe Hanson, Ph.D. He shares interesting science videos, images, and links.

Whether he’s sharing NASA simulations of black holes, some incredible shattering glass, or explaining how the planets are arranged on a plane, Joe reminds us of how inherently fascinating science is.

National Geographic Found

National Geographic Found is a Tumblr site that goes through the magazine’s incredible photo archive. Here are some samples:

Each image could serve as a writing prompt or the seed of a curiosity-based project.

Lego Collection

The Lego Collection shares incredibly impressive projects and show how far a person can take a simple resource like Lego.

What If?

What If? is written by Randall Munroe, a physicist and former NASA employee. He attempts to answer the wild “what if” questions that some of our gifted students are known for. Some highlights:

In Our Time

In Our Time is a weekly podcast from the BBC in which host Melvyn Bragg discusses a topic from science, history, art, religion, or philosophy with three experts on the subject. Bragg does an exceptional job of harnessing his guests’ expertise and translating it for the layman, all in about 40 minutes.

The archives are bursting with over 600 episodes, and include subjects such as:

Highly recommend for teachers looking to broaden their horizons.

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School’s Out! Tips to Avoid the Inevitable Phrase . . . ”I’m bored.” by Dr. Tisha Admire Duncan

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Dr. Tisha Admire Duncan, Meredith College

Tisha is an Assistant Professor of Education at Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina.  She teaches undergraduate and graduate students in the areas of pre-service teacher education, literacy instruction, and academically and/or intellectually gifted education.  She is also a former classroom teacher, gifted resource specialist, and professional development coordinator for early childhood programs. She earned her doctorate in curriculum and instruction from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and currently serves as a member and secretary on the Board of Directors for the North Carolina Association for the Gifted and Talented

 

School’s Out! Tips to Avoid the Inevitable Phrase . . . ”I’m bored.” 

The year has come to a close and celebrations are beginning. The test scores are in, grades are complete, and summer has finally arrived! So how do we help children stay engaged until the start of a new school year and avoid the “summer slump”? Integrate the technology they crave and love!

  • Search - Host a digital scavenger hunt. Create a list of 25 items that your children must locate and photograph either indoors or outdoors.  Remember to include abstract objects and/or words (i.e. hope, joy, love, summer) to encourage their creativity and critical thinking. Then taking those photographs, children can create a slideshow with music or edit and transform the photos using the software Instagram. If they enjoy the task, then encourage them to design a digital scavenger hunt for family and friends to follow.
  • Read - The parting words from the teacher on the last of school will be “Don’t forget to read every night!” Don’t have time to load everyone up and head over to the public library? No problem! Kindle has made digital books accessible and free for multiple devices. Simply visit your local library’s webpage or Amazon for more details.  Many are offering the ability to check out books for your Kindle just as if you were there in person. You’ll just need to have your library card. Another great resource for reading is Audible.com. You’ll be able to listen to books and follow along after downloading your selections. Perhaps you have a reader who isn’t interested in books? Then help them find their favorite magazine, blog, or news outlet and subscribe to the daily feed. The goal is to make reading a part of their everyday activity, just like brushing their teeth, so allow some freedom in the method.
  • Play - There are literally thousands of apps available for download with more and more being developed each day. So how do you choose? Fun Educational Apps posts reviews of some of their favorite apps. Take some time to peruse the list with your child to see what piques his/her interest before purchasing and downloading. Know what apps are available and allow your child input on the selection.
  • Create - Using the video feature on your phone or tablet, develop the skills of the future film directors and budding actors and actresses in your life. Children can write the script, create the props, act out the scenes, edit the clips, and then upload to YouTube to share with their family and friends. Host an “Opening Night” event where they can show off their work and receive feedback.  If several films are created, then feel free to roll out the red carpet for an awards show at the end of the summer. 
  • Write - There are numerous ways to engage children in writing without using paper and pencil and you may find that your children are already familiar with them. Consider setting up a Blog, Glogster, or Wiki account to provide an outlet for writing about their summer adventures. The beauty of journaling is that it is simply a reflection with no minimum number of words or specific topic. However, you could discuss various ideas with your children on their areas of interest and set aside a daily, weekly, or monthly time for focusing on reflection and writing. Additionally, many of these resources also provide outlets for expression by uploading pictures or clip art and changing wild colors with crazy fonts.

I often hear complaints about how much time children spend playing video games or chatting with their friends on various social media sites. My response to these complaints is simple: Teach children how to use the device in a way that enhances their lives. Find ways to incorporate new ideas into an old way of thinking. Take an interest in what they want to do and together find a way to make the technology work for you both! 

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Mad about Maps

Ok, I will admit it. I LOVE maps. There is something so comforting about being able to locate where you are on the face of the Earth and where you are in relation to any number of other people, places, or things. There has always been something very satisfying about holding a Rand McNally Road Atlas. In my mind, it feels like POTENTIAL. Maps represent a collection of all of the adventures one has had as well as the lifetime of adventures that lie ahead.

It is fascinating to me that we live in an age where technology has made it is almost impossible to ever be lost. Whenever, I am traveling to a new place, I am always grateful for GPS technology. While many may say that GPS and other mapping technologies are limiting our sense of exploration, I feel quite the contrary. I think that in many ways I am more adventurous and independent because I do not have to rely on others for directions. I am more willing to strike out on a personal adventure by knowing that I can always find my way back home. The purpose of this blog post is not to talk about how awesome GPS is, but to share some of my current favorite map resources.

MAPPING WITH GOOGLE – https://mapping.withgoogle.com

When it comes to online maps, I think that Google really does it best, but then I just really LOVE Google. Well, most of the time…. I was excited to learn that they will be conducting a FREE two week self-paced, online course for educators beginning next week on JUNE 10th entitled MAPPING WITH GOOGLE. This is one of their ways to showcase the NEW version of Google Maps that is being released and to provide some ideas of how you might go about integrating Google Maps and Earth into your instruction. Google is also offering a certificates of completion if you choose to complete a project in Google Maps, Google Earth, or both.

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One of my favorite features in Google Maps has to be the Street View feature. I can only imagine how awesome it must be to drive one of these cars. In the years that this feature has been available, it has quickly progressed from highlighting a handful of major U.S. cities to covering most of North America and Europe as well as an ever increasing number of countries around the world. Two separate projects that have come out of this initiative are particularly interesting. The WORLD WONDERS PROJECT is a collection of many wonders, sites, and treasures that are not necessarily able to be viewed from the luxury of the Google Car. Thanks to Street View, you can take your students into the GRAND CANYON without riding a mule or a backpack, or you can walk around the grounds of the PALACE OF VERSAILLES.

THE GOOGLE ART PROJECT brings Street View technology into well over 100 museums from around the world allowing you to have the “feeling” of walking around some of the greatest galleries in the world. Perhaps the best part of this collection are the works of art that in ULTRA high resolution allowing viewers to zoom in closer than you would be able to in person. For example, here we can get a completely new perspective of Munch’s 1910 masterpiece, The Scream. Image

GeoGuessr – Let’s Explore the World! – http://geoguessr.com/ 

But what would happen if we took Google Street View and then tried to turn it into a game? What you would have would be my current favorite Internet distraction: GeoGuessr. There are five Street Views randomly selected from locations around the world. The goal is for you to guess where in the world this could be. You are able to search your surroundings picking up context clues from the landscapes and city views, road signs, types of cars, etc. At the end of each round, you are awarded points based upon how close you were to the actual location. At the end of the five rounds, you can see all of the places in relation to your guesses, and a unique URL is created allowing you to challenge your friends to beat your score. CLICK HERE TO ACCEPT MY GEOGUESSR CHALLENGE. As you and your students play GeoGuessr, I could see some rather interesting and potentially high level discussions happening regarding strategies used and tips for finding yourself should you ever be randomly transported somewhere on the face of the Earth.

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While it is one thing to be a consumer of maps information, I think that the REAL FUN and LEARNING with this tool comes from the companion site, GeoSettr – http://www.geosettr.com/
With this site, you are able to create your own GeoGuessr challenge by choosing five locations from Google Street View. I could see students creating a game based upon local landmarks, state history, or famous locations around the country or around the world. If you have students create any games using GeoSettr, please feel free to share them with the group.

Brian Housand, PhD

http://brianhousand.com

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Harnessing the Power of Social Media to Advocate for Gifted Education by April Coleman

Dr. April Coleman, Assistant Professor of Education

Mississippi University for Women

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April is a former elementary gifted specialist who currently teaches in the gifted studies and elementary education programs at MUW.  She earned her Ph.D. from The University of Alabama in special/gifted education, with a minor in instructional technology.  She is passionate about meaningful student-centered technology usage, differentiated instruction, special schools for gifted students, and service-learning.  She enjoys engaging her students in blogging and has recently started her own blog: www.edoutsidethebox.com.

Harnessing the Power of Social Media to Advocate for Gifted Education

“I’ll direct message you.”  “Your status update made me LOL (laugh out loud)!”  “ I loved the vacation pictures you posted on Facebook!”  “Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to receive a discount on your next purchase.” 

Whether or not we like it or have chosen to join the online bandwagon, social media has become an integral part of our lives and culture in the 21st century.  While the majority of people use social media strictly for “social” reasons – to connect and communicate with friends and family through – many are using online communities in powerful professional ways.  Gaining knowledge, connecting with strangers who share common interests, and promoting causes are some of the many benefits of building an online PLN (professional learning network). 

Gifted educators and parents often feel alone in their efforts to learn about and promote optimal services for the unique needs of our gifted and talented learners.  Over the past two years, I have seen social media build bridges and move seeming mountains in the field of gifted education.  Here are a few ways modern administrators, educators, parents, and advocates can harness the power of social media for the greater good of our gifted students:

  • Join a PLN – In basic terms, a PLN is a set of people with shared professional interests who you “follow” on Twitter and/or Facebook.  While you may know some members of your PLN personally, many you will only interact with in a virtual environment.  Once you are “friends/followers,” you are able to view updates they post, often containing web links to informational articles and videos.  If you like what you see, you can choose to “retweet” (Twitter) or “share” (Facebook) this information out to your followers.  You can also contribute to the professional knowledge of your PLN by posting updates of your own, although this is not a requirement.  You control who you follow and how often you read your newsfeed.  Through your account privacy settings, you can also control who follows you.  The experience is similar to professional learning that occurs during a conference, although it is ongoing and more personalized.  Read more here about building a PLN.
  • Participate in Twitter chats -  Various groups host weekly online “chats” through Twitter.  A chat is an open discussion where anyone online at the time can post “tweets” (messages of 140 or fewer characters) in response to a question posed by a moderator.  One of the most popular chats for gifted education is #gtchat, and you can read more about it here.
  • Create or join a local/state gifted ed Facebook group – Last year, Audrey Fine, the president of Alabama’s state gifted association, created a Facebook group to serve as a forum for discussions about gifted education services for educators and parents across the state.  This online community has had tremendous effects in bringing people together across time and space to advocate for improved services and funding for gifted education services, a formerly unfunded mandate in the state.  Mississippi recently created a similar group, and many other states and districts are following suit.  Do some searching, and if none exist in your area, create one yourself!
  • Tweet your way to the top!  Alabama gifted education leaders, teachers, parents, and students utilized social media in creative ways to aid in gaining funding for gifted services.  Through a planned Twitter “blitz,” individuals with Twitter accounts sent multiple tweets – and retweeted each others’ tweets – to the attention of the Twitter accounts held by the governor and state legislators and representatives.  Among the content shared were testimonials by parents and students, student success stories by teachers, and links to YouTube videos authored by passionate students who shared firsthand the difference their gifted classes made in their lives.  Twitter is a quick and easy way to touch base with those in high positions – often our political leaders – in order to convey the importance and urgency of investing in today’s gifted and advanced learners, our leaders of tomorrow. 
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