Category Archives: tools

The If/Then To-Do List

if thenYesterday, I started the morning as I often do by writing out a to-do list of tasks, phone calls to make, emails to send, etc. What I noticed about yesterday’s to-do list, however, was that many of my actions were dependent upon the outcomes of conversations with others. My to-do list looked less like a list…more like a string of If/Then statements or a flow chart.

This got me to thinking about the digital tools that I currently use for creating to-do lists. Many have syncing and check-box features that I like, but I can’t think of any that allow for multiple actions based on a decision preceding. Do any of you have tools or resources that you can recommend?


A success story of internet safety

About a year ago, I worked with a teacher in Nevada to help him create a wiki for his 3rd grade students in which they would collaborate on state reports. I’ve kept tabs on the wiki and watched it grow tremendously.

A couple of days ago, I left a comment on the “Georgia” page, offering the student my Flickr pictures from my travels in Savannah, St. Simons, and Athens. I received the following email from the teacher today:

“Let me tell you a story: I wasn’t at school on Tuesday, so I didn’t have a chance to tell my students about the email I received from you on Monday. When I got home Tuesday evening and found your email that said that you had commented on the Georgia site, I decided to check it out. There was no comment at all. I thought that was strange, so I checked my bloglines account, which is the way I do a quick check on what the students have been doing on their reports. I found your comment and printed it off to bring to class today. This morning I talked to the class and found that the students had checked their comments yesterday, and when they found things from people they didn’t know they just deleted them. I explained who you were and showed them a copy of “Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works” including the group picture at the back of the book. The class felt bad about it, and I gave the student who was working on Georgia a copy of your comment. While I thought it was kind of humorous, I was really impressed that they did delete the content, since it goes along with beware of strangers.”

I am SO proud of these students (and their teacher) for acting wisely given the situation. Now that they know who I am, I plan to go back and add a few comments to their wiki, but I love that there are these success stories out there to counterbalance some of the horror stories that get such attention.

Kudos to Gary & his class!

Polycom Workshop

I delivered a Polycom workshop today, which was interesting to compare to my usual Marratech sessions that I do every two weeks. With the Polycom camera I like that both parties can have their mikes on at the same time and have a normal conversation. I also liked that my nose didn’t have to be 5 inches away from a Web cam, but that instead I was able to sit and talk as normally as I would in a regular meeting.

Drawbacks however, included the participants not being able to see the presenter and the PowerPoint at the same time and constantly getting disconnected.

We were covering three strategies from Classroom Instruction that Works: Nonlinguistic Representation, Generating & Testing Hypotheses, and Cues, Questions, and Advance Organizers. These, I have to say, are three of my favorite strategies to cover, especially given the technology that can beautifully support these activities with students.

What seemed to be the most popular resources that I showed them were tools for organizing & brainstorming with students. Following an advance organizer activity in which groups came up to the camera and showed their paper graphic organizers (which were very cool!), I showed them some tools that they could use for the same activity, but then could share and edit as needed. First, I showed them Inspiration, which many districts already use….by far the best tool of its type, I think.

For those schools who may not be able to afford Inspiration, however, there are some emerging and exciting tools coming out that not only allow you to create a mind-map as you brainstorm, but also allow you to invite collaborators to help you. Gliffy and are examples. Howard Pitler and I were experimenting today with, sharing maps we’d made. It’s still in its beta stage, but I think it has great potential. I personally prefer its more intuitive key strokes to Gliffy.

Another tool that teachers don’t often know about is Microsoft Word’s diagram tool. Open a Word doc and go to INSERT > DIAGRAM. There are a number of templates from which to choose and you can add as many “bubbles” as you need. This is perfect for those teachers wanting to dive into electronic forms of graphic organizers, but feel most comfortable with the Office products. The diagram tool is not sharable, unlike the Web-based tools, but may be a good “get-your-feet-wet” activity with teachers & students.

One high note of the workshop came at the very end. I had told them when I introduced myself that I was thrilled to be working once again with Southerners, having grown up in Georgia. As we were saying good-bye, I overheard a teacher remark, “She should say ‘bye y’all”…so I did. There’s nothing like a warm “‘bye-y’all” among Southerners!