Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Common Sense Media Makes Sense

If you haven't perused Common Sense Media's site yet, take a few minutes to do so.  As a parent and educator, I am blown away by the resources they provide to their audience.  Their "Best of . . ." lists provide age appropriate recommendations for games, movie, apps, websites, books and more.   The corresponding blog, Making Sense: Parenting, Media and Everything in Between also offers a plethora of timely articles on newsworthy items.  And for educators looking to incorporate digital citizenship lessons into their curriculum, there is a wonderful scope and sequence with accompanying lesson plans.  Take a look!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Prezi: A Spicy Version of PowerPoint

If PowerPoint is a merry-go-round, then Prezi is a roller coaster.  It zooms in, it zooms out, it zips here, there, spins upside down and after it's all done, your hair is standing straight up and you're back at the beginning.  That metaphor is not meant to detour you from using it, but rather to excite you about how your students will experience Prezi presentations.  Let me give you one more example of how Prezi operates.  If you are a Google Earth user, think of how you start off looking at the Earth from outer space.  You type in your address and before you know it, you are hurdling toward your home at breakneck speed, stopping just above your roof.  From there you decide to type in Nice, France (because you've always wanted to go to the south of France.  You zoom across the country and over the ocean to land on the French coast.  Now translate that experience to a presentation.

To learn how to use Prezi, I recommend watching the video below.  (Set aside about 30 minutes to watch and do.)  Jen Johnson, the instructor, is very detailed, but you get a wonderful sense of how to use all of the tools in Prezi without feeling overwhelmed.  Make your own Prezi as your watching the video; just pause it after each instruction and try the tool for yourself.  By the end, you'll have your first presentation completed.  Just remember, when you display your presentation, change the display setting in System Preferences to 1024 x 768 for a 4:3 ratio.

For more tips and tricks on Prezi, check out Dan Steer's blog post "The Best Prezi Tips I Found Today".

**If you embed your Prezi then make sure the embed code is https not http.  Did you get that?  Add an S.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Lists for me, lists for you, lists for two

Two work flow apps that I have begun to use to track my work are Workflowy for tasks that I need to get done and Azendoo for tasks that I need a group of people to get done.  Both are appropriate for middle school students, though they will need to create accounts.

Workflowy is great for the person who finds himself/herself writing out lists of things to do at home and at work.  Keep them both in the same place and then embed lists within lists.  Does this sound like a Type A person's dream come true?  It is!  Sync between your computer and phone.  Get daily updates on what you've done and what you still have to do.  Watch the demo video below, sign up and start making lists.

As for Azendoo, here is a great way to break up group projects into small tasks assigned to specific group members.  You can set due dates, sync with other mobile devices, and link work to apps like Evernote, Dropbox and Google Docs.  All parties can be held accountable and work becomes transparent when everyone is working via collaborate apps.  To learn more about how you and/or your students can use Azendoo effectively, visit the help page for answers to your questions.  To get a visual sense of how this software can be helpful, watch the promo video below.  Other tutorials exist on YouTube.