thing 1 – cloud initiation

Part 1: Diigo

Link to my diigo page: 1 - diigoDiigo will help me be more productive because I can access my bookmarks anywhere, on any device. If I’m planning at home and need to find the link at school, it will be in diigo.  So helpful!  I used to use Delicious, but I hadn’t used it in years so I think my account was terminated. 😦 But as I lesson plan and find new tools, I will add them to diigo and I will use their “Lists” feature so that I can organize the sites I find even better. It definitely beats emailing myself links to sites to use in the future because every site I add is in one place, is organized into a list, and is tagged for easy searching.

Another diigo feature I discovered is that when I highlight text on a webpage, it gives me the option to annotate it and save my note for when I visit the page again. That is awesome! I can see having students use that feature to do research and using it myself to leave “sticky notes” on pages to remind me what I use/need on a particular page.

Part 2: Dropbox

thing 1 - dropbox

I have used Dropbox for several years now and I don’t think I could go back to uploading documents to a flashdrive or my school’s teacher drive. It’s so convenient to be able to access my files anywhere at anytime, and to know that when I save something to Dropbox I have the most up-to-date version. I remember accidentally sending my flashdrive through the washing machine years ago and feeling panicked that I lost all of my work (even though it was on my computer, I wasn’t sure if all the changes I had made to files had been updated in both places.) Thankfully it still worked, but with Dropbox, I don’t need to carry that with me. I also don’t need to email myself documents to use at work or home since they’re all in one place. I love Dropbox and will probably never go back!



thing 20 – online video + audio resources

Below is the video version of my written post that I made using Camtasia Studio:

Part 1 – Video Resources

I searched on YouTube and on PBS LearningMedia for videos. Both sources are easy to search, and with PBS, especially, you know you are getting quality, relevant material. On the PBS site, I found a lesson plan with a video about where your money goes when you pay taxes, which would be a great resource for when I teach my unit on taxes and government spending.

On YouTube, I subscribe to a channel belonging to a college economics teacher. All of the videos are 3-8 minutes long and they are each about different economics concepts. They are really useful for reinforcing concepts I have taught in class, especially when students are in the blended class and aren’t in the classroom on a given day.

Part 2 – Audio Resources

I have used numerous audio news clips in my lessons from NPR to add real world relevance to the concepts I’m teaching. It’s helpful to teach a subject that is in the news so often. 🙂 However, I’ve never really explored the world of podcasts before. I searched and found the podcasts from APM Marketplace. (I love listening to this on the radio, so I figured the podcasts would be great too!) These could be super useful and add some fun, interesting information to the topics I teach. The podcasts give real world examples of economics principles that are in current news. They might be a bit long (25-26 minutes each) to hold high school students’ attention, but I could assign students to listen to one that I felt was particularly relevant and complete an assignment on it. Or, I could find the sections of the episodes that are relevant to the concepts we are covering and have them listen to just those sections. I can definitely see using these in the future and posting links to the ones that are relevant to the concepts we’re covering on my classroom website!

Strengths and Weaknesses of Video

Strengths of video are that they use both visual and audio senses to capture students’ attention and engage them in the topic, students can see real world demonstration of concepts, and it can be self-paced so students can pause and replay sections as needed.

Weaknesses of video are that it may not be good quality, searching for an appropriate video takes some time and concentrated effort, and sometimes students can get distracted by the visual details in a video if it’s not modern (for example, they may get distracted by the clothing or hairstyle of the people in the video and miss the concepts the video is trying to teach.)

Strengths and Weaknesses of Audio

Strengths of the audio resources I chose are that they are all very relevant to what is happening in the world right now. As students listen, they can write down connections to material they have learned in class and they don’t have to worry about missing something visual on a screen. Audio resources are also a little more portable. Students can listen to an assigned podcast as they walk, drive, or ride the bus home from school. It’s a little more difficult to do that with a video.

Weaknesses of audio are that there are no pictures accompanying it, so students can’t see a visual example of what is being discussed. It might be easier to form a misconception of a topic if you can’t see it being discussed. Students may also get distracted doing something else and stop engaging with an audio resource because there isn’t an accompanying visual to grab their attention.

thing 19 – digital storytelling

Below is my digital story:

And here is my storyboard: thing 19 – digital story storyboard

Ways Digital Storytelling Can be Used in My Classroom

One way I can use digital storytelling is to have students create short stories about concepts we have covered to make sure they can explain it in their own words, and that they can do so in a creative way, which really shows they have a solid working knowledge of the material. I can see doing this towards the end of a unit before I do a summative assessment (and let students watch each others’ work as a sort of review) or even after teaching a complex concept that I want to make sure everyone understands. Some ideas would include having students create stories to teach one another, stories that are more skit-like in nature, and stories that are like commercials and public service announcements that explain ideas.

Another way I can use digital stories is to have students do a one minute self reflection on their understanding of the material from class. I envision this being more of single words in their stories that are up for a couple seconds at a time and maybe some short video of them explaining their understanding. I would probably do this at the end of a unit, around parent teacher conference time to have students’ feedback to share with parents (and I could share the videos too!), and at the end of the semester.

Feedback and Suggestions for Improvement

I had my husband give me feedback and suggestions on my digital story and here is what he wrote:

Well I sure liked it! It’s pretty great that you captured “fire-mens”, guitar playing, and a day without pants. If you need actual critique, I guess I’d turn up the intro track a bit. I really liked all of the cuts.

He might be a little biased since the story is about our son, but I agree that the intro music could be a little louder. Other than that, I like my finished product! It was really fun to make, especially since I really like the subject. 😉

thing 18 – virtual classroom

Part 1: Edmodo Post

thing 18 - edmodo

Part 2: Successful Students Online

The things that are necessary for students to be successful in a blended or online learning environment are:

  • a desire to take an online or hybrid course and an understanding of their strengths and weaknesses in regards to learning
  • reliable internet access to log in to the course and be an active participant
  • willingness to try learning in a new environment and flexibility to work differently than in a traditional classroom
  • technology skills to navigate course management systems and other tools that the online class requires
  • time management skills – the ability to prioritize time to work on a class that doesn’t meet regularly, if at all
  • a mentor teacher who can offer help and advice, as well as instruction
  • parental support
  • being comfortable asking for help or for clarification if confused about something in the class; having clear understanding of whom to ask for help when needed
  • technical support, if necessary
  • a path out of the class if it does not fit a student’s needs or learning style and a way to earn the credit for the class elsewhere
  • active awareness of the school district’s acceptable use policies, especially regarding copyright and plagiarism


This videoconference talks about inflation and I could use it to enhance the lessons I teach about inflation in economics.

thing 18 - twice

Part 4: MLO

I searched the courses using “Social Studies” as my filter and found several tutorials and video clips on how to use Moodle. These might be helpful if I can’t figure out how to do something in Moodle with my blended class. I also checked out some of the Florida Virtual Classes; these could be useful just to get ideas of how to improve my class and add some more resources to it.

thing 17 – professional learning networks

thing 17 - twitter feed

Using Twitter: I’ve never used Twitter before this class, mostly because I felt like it was a time waster. 🙂 I didn’t really think of using it for professional learning and networking; I figured it was a place for people to post things like how they saw a picture of a cat toasted on their bread that morning. Ok, maybe not that bad, but it seems like another venue, like Facebook, where people post random things about their lives. (Which I happened to do in one of my posts…)

However, I like the idea of using it for professional learning. It’s a quick and easy was to get ideas and find links to new tools. Matinga mentioned during the live session that she checks her Twitter feed while she drinks her morning coffee and then she’s done for the day. It seems like it can get overwhelming trying to sift through all the stuff that gets posted, but I like the idea of checking it for a few minutes, looking for specific ideas related to teaching and technology that I can apply to my work. I think it will be a useful tool to help me keep abreast of all the new changes and tools that come out. Plus it is kind of fun to read friends’ silly posts. 🙂

LearnPort: I think my favorite tool that LearnPort offers is access to NetTrekker. Even though I typically forget about using this tool when I have my students research, it’s so useful since the resources are curated and vetted by teachers and are listed by reading level! Kathy Kowalski always talks about how great it is, and I keep forgetting about it! I also didn’t realize that there were so many recordings of webinars that I can access. There are many great sounding recordings on using mobile devices, techy tools, and Android apps in the classroom. This seems like it will be a helpful resource when I am looking for ideas on how to spice things up in my lessons.

MACUL: Being a member of MACUL is great because I can easily get updates of new tech tools available and practical ways to use them in my classroom. I get the monthly newsletters and they are great because they always have little things to explore and try in my lessons. And I don’t have to search for the things myself – they’ve already done the work! I also just joined SIG for Online Learning, and I’m looking forward to getting more ideas of how to teach my blended class. I think I can get lots of ideas for putting lessons and resources online and learn some new tips and tricks for using Moodle. I think it will be a very useful resource as I progress with online instruction.

Connected Educator Videos: These are great! I watched a video on video assessment, and Laura Bell, the teacher who made the video, describes in detail how she has students use video in her classroom to demonstrate their understanding of concepts. I love using creative tools for assessment and I’m so excited to try this out.  I’m looking forward to watching the other videos, especially since they are from people who have used the tools they are talking about and they have real examples of ways they have used them. Fun!

thing 16 – research + reference tools

Part 1: MeL Database Compare/Contrast

InfoTrac Junior Editionthing 16 - infotrac jr  InfoTrac Student Editionthing 16 - infotrac student
 I did a simple search for frogs in both databases. Then I did a search on texting. Below I will examine the appropriateness, useablity, content, and credibility for each database’s articles.
 Appropriateness Frogs: Age appropriate magazine articles from magazines like Highlights for Children and Scholastic News. I still had to sift through the articles, though, as some were stories and editor’s notes and not actual information about frogs.Texting: Lots and lots of information and relevant articles from sources that are geared for younger students. Frogs: This search led to a mix of children’s book reviews along with articles about frogs. This might be off putting to some high school students as they would have to do a bit more sifting. This just might not be the right database tool for the job, but I’m certain there are others that would work and be much better than searching Google.Texting: Just like the Junior Edition, this edition had tons of information that was directed at a slightly older audience.
 Useability For both searches, this was pretty user friendly, but I noticed that some of the images were omitted, which might deter some students. The articles were a good length for elementary students, though. The articles, especially for texting, were very user-friendly and easy to use for a research project.
 Content I love that there are magazine articles, news article, audio and video clips, and books and images. Students would have to sift through some of the information to make sure they were getting facts if they were doing a research report, but they would have to do this on Google too. There seems to be more content on texting than there is on frogs…probably because this database is geared toward current event and pop culture information.  Same as the Junior Edition…
 Credibility Every resource has a citation! And because these are databases, students and teachers can feel comfortable knowing that the information they find is reliable and has been published elsewhere before being housed in the database. If there were factual errors, they would be discovered and edited immediately. There is no chance of a hoax article here.  Same as Junior Edition…
In conclusion, I think these databases are great for pop culture and current events type research. If students are looking for topics that are more general science topics or social studies topics, they would probably want to use a different database. But overall, these were much better resources to use than a Google search, as all the information is reliable and accurate (and the citations are provided too!).

Part 2: Advanced Student MeL Database

I did a search for greenhouse gasses and global warming on Academic OneFile.

thing 16 - academic one file

Appropriateness: All of the articles are actually about greenhouse gas emissions…if I had done a Google search, I would have gotten some articles and websites about greenhouse gas emissions, and a whole lot of biased information or commercial advertising for products having to do with greenhouse gas emissions. Some of these resources in the database may be a bit advanced for struggling readers, but I could find another database for those students or I could pair them with a more advanced student.

Usability: Again, all the information is about greenhouse gas emissions. Depending on what type of information students need, there are news articles, videos, magazine articles, and academic journals about the topic. They could use the journals for background information and the news articles to examine what is happening around the world in relation to their search. The news articles seem much more helpful to me than a Google search would be; the academic journals may be a bit much for high school students, but I think some of the other resources, like the videos, would be very helpful.

Content: The content has been researched and proven reliable. It is professionally written and its purpose is to educate the readers/viewers of it. Compared to a Google search, this material is much more meaty and the search has more relevant results.

Credibility: Every resource is from a reliable news organization, magazine, academic journal, etc. Students and teachers can rest assured that the information they find is accurate; when compared to a Google search, every article (even if not exactly pertinent to what students are looking for) can be vetted, whereas a Google search may yield some questionable results.

Part 3: Bogus/Hoax Websites and CARRDSS

Dog Island: This site seems like it could be real since it gives statistics, and if you don’t look carefully, you might be taken by it. But, when you look closely at it, you can tell it’s not real. To begin, the Credibility is questionable. There are adds all over and if you scroll to the bottom of the page, there is a disclaimer next to the copyright. When you click on the disclaimer, it tells you up front that the site is created in jest and is not real.

thing 16 - dog island disclaimer

As for Accuracy, well, the disclaimer tells you the site isn’t real, so the information is clearly not accurate.  But if you miss the disclaimer and peruse the site, you’ll see that there really isn’t any information. It talks about legislation but gives no details. It tells about the number of large, medium, and small dogs, but gives no details as to what defines each category. There are just too many missing details for the information to be accurate and ReliableAlso, if you click on the links for the Press information about Dog Island, none of the links go to articles about Dog Island. And this link goes to a site that is in Japanese, but is supposedly a link to a radio station in Escanaba, Michigan. Clearly not a reliable Source Behind the Text that supports the page. In fact, none of the links that navigate outside the page are useful sources of information for Dog Island or for dogs in general.

thing 16 - dog island reliability

This would definitely not be a Relevant site if I was doing a search for dogs; maybe if I was searching for dog friendly vacation places, but even then, I would quickly find upon reading that humans are not allowed on Dog Island, which would put up red flags in my mind about the site being real. It also uses the word, “Dogologists,” which is not a real word. A quick Google search will bring up sites that are for dog training businesses, as well as the Urban Dictionary’s definition of the word. Definitely not reliable or relevant.

The Date on the site is today’s date and the copyright date is 2013, so that would not be an easy indicator that the information is real…you definitely have to read the information to figure that out. Finally, there seems to be no Purpose to the site (unless you read the disclaimer, which states the site is to make people happy) and there is no real Scope. The information is not very detailed, the links lack any information to support the site, and if you try to get more information there really isn’t any to be found.

The Republic of Molossia: Being a social studies teacher, I know Molossia is not a real country. And to verify, I would use a site like the CIA World Factbook to verify. But students might not want to go this far…

To start with Credibilitythe URL is not even an official sounding country URL. It is a .org and ends with /countryeng.html. From that alone, I would question whether or not the site was credible. ( Additionally, the “Ministry of Propaganda” is the one who created the site. When you click on the link for it, it is a mailto: link that opens up your email to compose a message. Plus, the word propaganda should be a big red flag since the purpose of propaganda is to get people to believe in a cause or in something that may or may not be real.

The site claims the country is “still at war” with “East Germany.” East Germany no longer exists, thereby calling the Accuracy and Reliability of information into question.

thing 16 - molossia accurate

If you click on the links on the menu to find information out about the country, they provide information, but it’s clearly very silly. For example, the page about the Molossian Navy says,

We tried having an Army, but the US Olympic Committee used it against us. We tried having an Air Force, but the plane never flew, and anyway it was too small to fit anyone inside. So, here in the depths of the desert, we have created the Molossian Navy. Yes, the Navy. And we even have three boats.

Our goal with the Molossian Navy is to explore those watery places that dot the western landscape like gems in the sand. There are actually quite a few lakes and reservoirs through the western desert, and we have set our sights to explore as many as possible. In addition, our Navy stands ready to defend Molossia whenever necessary, through the means of our valiant Naval Infantry.

Clearly this information doesn’t make any sense and is made up for fun; it is definitely not reliable or accurate.

As for Relevance, if you were searching for information about a made up country, then this would be perfect! But if you happened to mistype the name of a country like Malaysia or Mongolia, you might stumble across this site. Or if students are non-native speakers or have difficulty with reading and/or spelling, they may run across this site and they would have to use the other elements of the CARRDSS systems to verify that this site is what they want. Additionally, if you were searching for the ancient Greek state of Molossia, then this site would not be relevant to what you needed, and it even makes a disclaimer at the bottom of the homepage stating such.

The Date on the site seems to be current, so this would not be an immediate red flag about the content of the site, but the Sources that the site links to that are supposed to provide media information about the country don’t link to actual pages. And there don’t seem to be any links that provide information about who made the content other than the one for the Ministry of Propaganda that I mentioned above.

thing 16 - molossia sources

Finally, the Scope and Purpose of the site seem to be to provide made up information and stories about a made up country. Reading some of the links on the homepage, as well as information on the homepage itself seem to suggest that someone just made everything up since all the information is a bit preposterous.

Overall, I think the CARRDSS system is a great way to review a website and it’s also pretty quick. I will definitely plan on using this system with my students in the future and will probably create a page on my class website about how to quickly evaluate web information.

Part 4: Citation Tools

thing 16 - citation


Katz, Lawrence F., and Kevin M. Murphy. “Changes in relative wages, 1963–1987: supply and demand factors.” The quarterly journal of economics 107.1 (1992): 35-78.

thing 15 – staying informed

Part 1 – First Steps Summary Article

The article I found asked the question, “Are Educators Passionate About Their Profession?” The writer, a school principal, talks about how engaged “students” in a hip-hop dance class are at 7pm on a school night. His son loves the class; moreover, all the students in the class seem to love it and are fully engaged.  They are all excited, they all laugh, they all volunteer to answer questions, and they are pumped to try the new moves their teacher is showing them. In short, they are completely engaged in the class because the teacher is passionate about what he’s teaching. The author then goes on to relate that to a school classroom and questions whether teachers are passionate about kids, teaching, learning, and education. He states that any teacher who is passionate about these things will find a way to engage his/her students and will make change happen.

I really enjoyed this article because it asked me to reflect on why I’m teaching. I think it’s a good idea to check yourself and your motivations about teaching because it’s one of those jobs where you can’t really fake it. If you don’t like what you’re doing it’s completely apparent to students, colleagues, and parents. Conversely, if you’re excited about what you do, you’ll put in the extra effort to reach students and to engage them; you’ll look for new ideas and lessons to make the material accessible; you’ll find a way to get kids excited to be in your class, even if they aren’t excited about the subject.

Part 2 – Next Steps Report Information

thing 15 - data

What surprised me the most was not that students are mobilists, but the age at which students use smartphones. I got my first cell phone in college; according to the Speak Up 2012 National Research Project Findings, 45% of students in grades 3-5 are smartphone users. Wow. I know firsthand that kids can easily use smartphones and tablets – my 2.5 year old knows how to use his favorite apps on our Kindle and smartphones. I just didn’t realize how many kids likely have their own smartphones. I think it’s great that students have so much access to information: they can look up anything they are curious about, they can watch a video on it, they can play a game… but the parent side of me worries about what children have access to and how much time they spend on those devices. I’m guilty of spending too much time on my phone; I read articles, blog posts, I look up answers to questions I have, I peruse social media sites…and while I think that is great, I also see it as a potential time waster. Instead of engaging right now with what’s in front of me, I can zone out on my device. Not that kids will all do that, but if the device is there, it’s easy to check out and do something else and miss live experiences. I am a little wary of putting a smartphone into the hands of an 8 year old for him to use at his leisure, but perhaps with sufficient boundaries we can reap the benefits of having access to information anytime and anyplace.

Part 3 – BYOD

Click on the image below to view a presentation of my district’s stance on BYOD, as well as my views on my district’s policy.

thing 15 - byod

thing 14 – web tools to improve your performance

Part 1 – Evernote

I love Evernote!  I’ve used it for several years now and find it super useful for lesson ideas, as well for things like sewing projects and quotes my kids say. (Although Pinterest is starting to replace some of what I would’ve put on Evernote, I still use it for things I don’t want to pin or things I want to annotate.) Here is a note I created last spring of Benjamin and a quote…

thing 14 - evernote

Part 2 – File Conversions

I use file conversions all the time, especially .doc to .pdf. I have a .pdf printer installed because I upload every document I give to my students to my class website since I want them to have access to the class whenever and wherever they like.  I also convert presentations to .pdf so students can go back over them outside of class.

thing 14 - file conversion

Part 3 – Google Calendar

I’m not sure Dan and I would be able to go back to life without Google Calendars!  We share our calendars for everything so we can schedule our lives.  I’ve also used it in my classroom so students know what we’re doing everyday, and so they can see what’s coming up next in the class.  It’s super useful because they can subscribe to the calendar if they want and they can plan ahead (if they actually do that!) Plus parents can see what we’re doing everyday and have a better idea of what’s going on in my classroom.

thing 14 - google calendar

Part 4 – URL Shortener (I like!)

Original URL: URL:

thing 14 - url shortener