Glossophobia… Most everyone has it.

Just recently I was selected to be an APD trainer (Apple Professional Development). An APD Trainer is basically an independant contractor for Apple that give trainings to educators about how to use Apple products in the classroom.  To be selected for this I was invited to a training weekend in Bangelore, where I was asked to present on a variety of Apple software and how to use it sucsessfully in the classroom.



Photo credit: – labled for reuse

I remember being very nervous for this and I tried to plan out everything that I was supposed to know and how I was going to present it.  I’m pretty confident in my Apple skills; but it was still nerve racking not knowing exactly what I would be ask to present on.  When I got to the training I was very happy that I prepared a bit and knew the software.   Some of the other attendees were not so prepared but definitely not as bad as Micheal Bay during the Samsung press conference.  I’m glad I didn’t go first because I was able to learn from some of their mistakes.  I myself made a huge mistake and didn’t download the new iMovie app update, so my presentation was on the app iMovie app while everyone in my audience was looking at the new version.  I’m glad the trainers didn’t dock me points for this.

Some valuable lessons I learned from this experience were:

  • Always be overprepared
  • Never say that this is your first time using the software, if you are presenting on how to use the software to others
  • Make sure everything works in your presentation before presenting (things such as movies or apps)
  • Make sure to preview your presentation on a projector
  • Try to troubleshoot tech/Internet problems before your presentation if possible
  • Make sure your software is up-to-date

I found this cute video on YouTube about speaking with confidence.  I think this would be great to show students.  I think public speaking is something that all students should learn in school.  It’s a skill that most people will need in their proffesional careers and in my opinion it is not focused on enough in most schools.


So now that I have been selected, I’m experiencing some anxiety again.  In the near future I will be expected to give Apple presentations to schools around India.  This is going to require a lot of preparation again.  I am glad I got to read about presentation zen this week because what I learned will really help me in this APD endevor.


Infographics are so Cool!

I think Infographics are the coolest, newest development in online visual literacy.  On my Feedly Feed, I am subscribed to the Information is Beautiful Blog and the infographic they have been posting are incredibly interesting and beautiful, though some of them are a bit morbid.  Check out this one about the timeline of the Far Future, not the most positive outlook, but I guess it won’t matter to much to us in 100 quadrillion years.  What a neat infographic to look at when teaching kids about place value and huge numbers.  Just beware sharing this with elementary students; I remember freaking out in 4th grade when I learned of our planets fate it the distant future.

I love how boring facts and figures are brought to life in these online posters.  They are so neat to look at that readers continue to read it even though they have to scroll.   They are such an ingenious way to trick students into analyzing data or reporting out research they have done.

Our school has a subscription to Pictochart and I have encourage teachers to give this as an option for student projects.  Instead of having student write a 3 page report have them design an infographic full of the facts and information they learned.   I started designing a tech team inforgraphic with Pictochat so teachers would know who to contact in IT if they have a problem.  I found it easy to use, easy enough for upper elementary students to figure out.

Here are also a couple of projects that students have completed with this tool.

Do you have any ideas of how we could creatively use Infographics in the classroom?  Please share your ideas in the comments.

Using Visual Literacy to Prompt Creativity

The idea of Visual Literacy reminds me of when I was teaching second grade and we were doing Writer’s Workshop.  I used to pull out my copy of The Mysteries of Harris Burdick and get my student all excited about stories that could stem from these mysterious illustrations.  If you have never heard of The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg it’s worth looking into.  A picture is indeed worth a thousand words or more and with the Internet and Photshop around there are endless possibilities for you to empower your visual learners.

Images can reinforce ideas, illustate concepts, and jump start creativity.  In this blog post, I’m going to give a couple of images that should be great for creative writing prompts.  Some of these images don’t even need a caption to get the creative juices flowing..


My nanny the elephant  Image Credit: Life Magazine


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Where are they headed??

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 5 Great Links for Writing Prompt Images

Images are great but videos are as great or better.  Check out these awesome pages that have video writing prompts.  I am sure you can browse YouTube and find a plethora of material.  Just turn off the sound to a video and have your students make up what going on.

Video Writing Prompts

The Middle School Moodle Page

Since adopting Moodle two years ago, our Moodle site has gone through many changes; however, I am still unsatified about the way it looks.  Though I can’t do anything with the layout or the resource icons, I can add graphics in the middle boxes and hopefully make it more user friendly.  One page that I am in charge of is the middle school main page.  It looks like this right now.


Why is Moodle so Ugly?

I enjoyed reading the article Understanding Visual Hiearchy in Web Design, and I am hoping to add elements of varied color, size, style and texture to make this page more interesting.  I used to do graphic design as a side job many years ago but I am not great at it.  Though I am okay at Photoshop, I wish I was better at Indesign and coding.  Maybe one day…

Some of the things I want to change on this page..

  • Make Attractive buttons for course links
  • Design a Button for Week Without Walls Link
  • Redo the BYOT Resources Block
  • Delete the outdated Photo Contest
  • Re-Design Library section

The first thing I usually do when I start designing something is look for examples online.  While I’m scouring the Internet, I would love some suggestions for re-designing this page.  Please post them in the comments.

2 days later…

I designed kid friendly navigation to the course pages; however, I can’t get the spaces to dissapear between the images in the html.  After working on this for way too long and it not looking the way I want it to, I’m almost frustrated enough to give up.  Can anyone give me some HTML pointers to make the spaces go away?

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I want it like this





Not like this

Oui, Oui, Oui, C’est presque fini…

For the final project I worked with French teacher Hannah Kingsley and my tech coordinator friend in Florida, Breyn Fish.  Hannah plans to teach this unit in the Spring and I will help integrate the technology.  My friend Breyn will share out this unit with the Foreign Language teachers at her school.  I speak French so I am excited that I get to integrate technology into a French class.  Here is my favorite french clip on YouTube.  Thank you Hannah for showing me this. [youtube][/youtube] Hannah’s original plan was to have student make travel brochures of french speaking regions.  I suggested that we have the students do travel websites to make it more techy.  There are tons of resources on the web for students to use to make their own “free” websites.  Some of my favorite tools are Weebly and Google sites.  But seriously, there are tons of tools out there.  Click here for some more.  I like students to try out different tools when doing the same project; not only does this allow for project diversity, students can help you find the best tools out there. In our unit, students work collaboratively in groups to create a website that has information and images that are cited properly.  We pose the question “Why should you cite your sources when using pictures from the Internet?”  Attributing the creator is a big 21st century issue that involves both the law and morality.  Like I’ve said before it’s just not cool to steal other people’s work and pass it off as your own. The unit also has students working collaboratively to gather resources that are posted to a Diigo group.  For more information on Diigo check out my last post, the Diigo Ate my Baby.   Breyn suggested that the kids also save photo resources this way, so student can attribute them properly when creating the website. At the end of this unit, students will reflect upon their work in their E-Portfolio.  We would ask them to write what worked well and what we should improve in the lesson.  From their reflections and our experience, we can further tweak the unit. As I end this final post for the year, I want to say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all my readers and Dana, our wonderful instructor.  Becoming a mom, doing COETAIL to get my masters, going back to work, and recently becoming and APD training has been a challenge, but I’ve learned a lot and got to work with so many wonderful teachers at my school that are doing COETAIL too.  See you in the New Year.  Sri Lanka here I come!!!!!

The Diigo Ate my Baby

Don’t worry, my baby’s okay.  I’m just sitting in a meeting right now and Kevin, our tech director is doing a presentation on Diigo.  His first slide was the Diigo ate my Baby, and I thought it was hillarious.   Since I already know and use Diigo, why not share it on here.  It’s an amazing tool that helps you save, annotate, organize, share links on the web.

Hyperlinks make the Internet the amazing tool that it is.  The Intenet wouldn’t exisit without links,; hyperlinks make it the World Wide Web.  Diigo is a great tool to keep all these links organized so you can find them in the future.

Amazing Diigo Features

  • Highlight websites and it saves what you highlight
  • Take notes with Sticky Notes, these too are saves when you access the page again
  • Bookmark and save the pages you go to, add tags to keep them all organized

“Each bookmark you save will give you the direct URL, any tags you have added, when the bookmark was added, how many other Diigo users have bookmarked that page, the notes and highlights you made, and a link to the cached image.” -Tyler Manolovitz

  • Search your bookmarks or others public bookmarks.  This is a wonderful way to find new resources for the classroom
  • Collaborate with others by using the sharing and groups features.

Check out this great resource by Tyler Manolovitz that tells more about all these features.

Using Diigo in the Classroom

Students and teachers can use Diigo as a resource, but why not use it in lessons.  Using it as part of a lesson gets the students using all the different collaborating features and really teaches them how to use this wonderful tool.  Here are a couple links to cool lessons based around this tool.

I know there is a movie about a dingo who ate a baby, but I was curious to see where this originated.  Click here to learn about the real story of the “The Dingo who Ate the Baby.”  Poor baby and parents.

Bad Dingo
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Monkey See Monkey Do

Sitting in the car going home from work, I look over at my husband; he is immersed in his iPhone.  I’m about to say something like “get off your damn phone already,” but I think, jeeze I’m on my phone probably as much as he is.  Then I look down at my adorable little smiley baby, is he going to be this sucked into technology? Probably…  Though this makes me feel a little sad; it’s today’s reality.

Kids model the behavior of their parents and teachers, and most adults now seem to have their smartphone glued to their palm.  Reading the article When My Dad Banned Text Messaging made me feel a little bit better about my iPhone habits.  The author checks her phone “on the way home from work, after dinner, before she goes to bed, and as soon as she wakes up” – almost as much as me.  I like when she writes that texting is “ubiquitous as the notes we used to pass in school.”   I think texting is  more like writing notes on steroids.  You don’t just have to talk to one person, and they don’t even have to be in the room.  You just need to make sure not to get caught by your teacher.

no texting sign

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Texting is just a communication tool, just like the computer or the Internet.  These things aren’t inherently bad.  Bad human behavior when using these tools is the problem.   The interviews with teeagers in the article “Bulling has little resonance with teenagers”  , made me think that we might be handling “cyberbullying” the wrong way.  Cyberbullying is not something that should just be left to the tech integrator.  Teachers, couselors and parents are responsible for teaching this too and the best way to teach it is to model it.   We also need to begin to speak their lingo.  The words cyberbullying and bullying makes me think of a big fat mean kid stealing lunch money.  Kids are not relating to the word “bully” and they don’t even realize when they are doing the bullying.  The idea of cyberbullying didn’t even cross the minds of the two middle school girls that got in trouble at my school last year for cursing each other out over email.   This fight was just like any fight between girls, it was just documented better.   Danah Boyd writes in the article that “Technology is not radically changing what’s happening; it’s simply making what’s happening far more visible.”  I agree with this.  Bad behavior has not suddenly increased because of technology, it’s just more in our face.

Behaviors are learned, so if we want to change how young people are using technology, if we want them to be more responsible and respectful, we ourselves have to be more aware of our habits – which is easy to say and hard to do.  Monkey see, Monkey do


What the heck is Fair Use?

I’ve been a teacher for over ten years and the confusion over copyrighted materials is still a frustration for me and most of my colleuges.  So what are the rules, what media can we use, how do we give credit and what the heck is Fair Use.  And finally, do all this rules still apply when teaching abroad in Asia??

I found this video a while ago and I love how it explains copyright law and fair use using Disney clips.  It’s such a great use of Fair Use itself because it is not only teaches but it also uses parody.


Since copyright law has such a big grey area, it’s really hard to teach kids what exactly they can do and what they can’t.  It comes down to common sense and also showing them resources they can use without running into problems.  By the way, my favorite site for getting royalty-free pictures is MorgueFile.

I also think morality should be discussed when talking about using other work whether you are in the US or abroad.  It’s just not cool to steal other people’s work without giving them credit, this is especially the case when you are planning to make money off of their work.  Here are some guidelines for using copyrighted material; and when to ask for the publisher’s permission.  In school, most uses of copyrighted material fall under fair use because it is used for teaching.  Students still however should learn how to credit author’s properly.

So how do you cite online sources properly?  Here is a great page from Creative Commons on practices for attribution.  Also, this Addon to your browser helps you attribute creative commons media correctly.


my picture for FAIR Use from Morguefile so I don’t even have to site it


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Your Digital Footprint… Your Responsibility

Everything you do online.. viewing, searching, blogging, downloading, uploading etc. is a choice.  No one is forcing you to interact online or have an online presence.  It’s up to you to decide what you want to share and the amount of privacy you want.

There are many reasons why people are paranoid about sharing information online.  Stalking and itentity theft are real problems; but they can happen to you even if you don’t go on the computer.   I find that most people I know who are scared about sharing online know very little about social networks or privacy settings.    Others don’t trust the security that big companies like Google or Facebook provide, which is a valid concern.  But, your home connection probably leaves you more unprotected than the security measures that these companies have.  Hackers are just the criminals of our time; theives have always existed and will always exist.  I think we should be aware of the dangers online and educated about what we can do to protect ourselves.  Don’t miss out on what the Internet, social networks and other online systems can offer because of fear.  As Roosevelt said many years ago “All we have to fear is fear itself.”

I have other friends who choose not to participate online because they’d rather not share life happenings with their friends on Facebook or Google +, or they think it’s a waste of time.  Others have become so addicted they feel they need to go cold turkey so they delete their accounts- this never lasts for long.  For me personally, I think moderation is the key to healthy online activity.

Social networking is not the only facet of online privacy.  One of the most important ways to keep yourself protected online is to have strong passwords and not to share them with anyone.  Don’t write them down next to your desk, don’t say them outloud in a busy room, don’t tell your best friend.  I remember helping a teacher edit their Moodle page in the library (I won’t name names)  and he annouced his password and asked if it was a good password.  A couple of weeks later, he discovered that he profile picture had changed to a distateful picture of this large man.  We never found the culprit because they used his password to login and change it.  To say the least he was very embarrased, poor guy, but I think he learned his lesson.

fat man on computer

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I feel strongly that we must teach students about privacy settings, keeping passwords secure and being responsible online.  Education and knowing how to protect ourselves online is the best safegaurd online.  Here is a Youtube clip about Facebook privacy setting, something all FB users should know.


The Digital Cleanse

What is the first thing you do when you are looking for a job?.. You go online and Google jobs that interest you; you Google companies that you want to work for.  Most people stopped looking in the newspaper classifies a long time ago.  Employers have also changed their hiring methods.  Sure you still have to submit your CV, but your resume is not the only thing future employers are looking at. Now your digital footprint is almost as important as what you put on your CV.

I had a friend from college that was a brilliant computer programmer.  He had his masters in Computer Science, and he had experience programming for multiple companies.  He thought he was set to get any job that he wanted.  His hobby though was his blog, which was a pretty distasteful collection of provocative pictures and clips, ramblings about conspiracy theories, and disturbing stories.  One day he decided to post a link to his blog on his Myspace page (this was when MySpace was big).  Months later when he was interviewing for his dream job in Hawaii, this post ruined his chances of getting it.  I can’t even imagine the embarrassment he felt when they brought up his blog in the live interview.

His experience made me realize how important it is to have a positive digital footprint.  You better Google yourself before considering to apply for your next big job and make sure that your image online fits the one you represented on your CV.  Here are some articles that might help you clean up your digital footprint, if it needs cleaning up…

How to Stop Employers Digging your Digital Dirt – I like idea #10 in this article

Google Alerts is a very handy tool for real time alerts about anything, in this case yourself. Punch in your name in inverted commas, set it to send you updates as soon as you are mentioned online. This way you will be able to monitor yours whenever your name is mentioned anywhere on an ongoing basis.”

Cleaning Up Your Digital Dirt  –Eve Tahmincioglu says “What happens on the Internet tends to stay on the Internet.” and it is true.  She mentions an interview with C. David Gammel, a corporate technology consultant and writes that he suggests “burying the Internet skeletons in positive cyber dust.”

“Gammel believes in burying the Internet skeletons in positive cyber dust. “Once the less savory items are pushed off your first page of ego search results on Google, you’ll be fine with most people,” he notes. “That’s why you have to post more, not less, to get rid of the impact of those skeletons.”

I really like this idea, because it encourages you to have a bigger digital footprint instead of erasing every trace you have on the Internet.  Employers are looking to hire people with positive digital footprints.  Not having a digital footprint is almost as bad as having a shameful one.  Having no online  identity tells future employers that you probably don’t have very good computer skills.  It means that you don’t use social media, you don’t blog about things that are important to you, and that you probably don’t keep up with the times.  The Internet is a free promotion tool for yourself.  Why not advertise yourself in a positive light and get that dream job.  Why not share your expertise through a blog, making your ideas and your knowledge more accessible to the world.

As an international educator, with competition for jobs being fierce, having a positive, and sizable digital presence is a good idea, and it absolutely can’t hurt.  I certainly need to work on mine between midnight feedings and tummy time – COETAIL is helping 🙂

Trying out

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