Just Five Minutes Each Day

Teachers are pressed for time. There is not enough time for planning, grading, and keeping up with the latest in education. There seems to be especially little time for the range of curriculum we must uncover. But have you ever considered what your class might accomplish in just five minutes each day?

This group of students at Bangalow Public School in Australia decided they might actually change the world in just five minutes a day. Check out their video. to see what they accomplished.

What could your students do if you gave them just five minutes each morning of the school day?

If your students come up with their own great idea to save the planet, funding for their project might be available from the Captain Planet Foundation.

Michelle Kendrick is a program coordinator for the eMINTS National Center.

A Picture Shouldn’t Be Worth a Thousand Minutes

Worth 1000 - 3rd edition
We all know the saying A picture is worth a thousand words and good practice suggests using images to convey a message and evoke feelings when creating materials for learners. It’s another way to grab the learner’s attention and engage them at the same time speaking to different learning styles.

The problem is that copyright free images can take more than a thousand minutes to find. While we know using images is important, eMINTS teachers are challenged to find those they can legally use on published documents. It’s very difficult to find images they and their students can include in websites, WebQuests, and other online content as well as classroom materials. With student’s eyes on them daily, teachers want to model ethical practices and give credit where credit is due to pass that skill on to students.

Take this blog post for example…. I wanted to find an image to drive home my point. It could have taken me longer to find the image than it did for me to create the entire post but I used a couple of strategies and resources to help expedite the process. Some of these strategies may help you on your next search for images.

  1. Brainstorm key words to search and go beyond the obvious to identifying main themes you want to communicate.
  2. Use your own original images. Take pictures with your own camera or scan in images you or your students have created.
  3. Search for images under the Creative Commons license (Flickr offers a quick and easy explanation of that licensing)
  4. Find and use sights for finding photos as well as clip art such as those listed below. Always remember to save the link back to the original image so that you can give credit to the owner.Photos
    Flickr – use advanced search to only search within Creative Commons lisence content
    Wikimedia (how to use wikimedia)
    Clip Art
    Phillip Martin Clip Art
    Microsoft Office Images – not all content is copyright free for online publication, read fine print
    Discovery Schools Clip Art Gallery – read copyright permissions

If you have additional resources or suggestions on this topic please comment and share them with us all. Happy image searching to you; may your searches be short and sweet.

Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. You can visit her site here or read her blog, Higgins’ Helpful Hints.

Image – “Worth 1000 – 3rd Edition.” Flickr – spcbrass’. Web. 21 Oct 2010. <http://www.flickr.com/photos/spcbrass/4543486633/#/>.

Cool Tool: Jing

The other day I was working on designing an online course and needed a program that I could create a screencast  in order to show participants how to complete a task. After searching the web, I found a neat little program called Jing.

Jing is an easy to use, always available program for creating screenshots and screencasts in any program. It simply sits quietly at the top of your computer screen as a gold colored half-circle. When you want to use it, you just scroll your pointer over the half-circle and options for using the program appear.

It worked great for making a video tutorial, with audio, outlining the process of what I wanted participants to accomplish. After using it for this purpose, I started thinking about how this could be used in a classroom. I could see this being used to capture that tough concept that you outline on the board for the students, and then post it on your website for the students to review later. Or, comment on student work that has been turned in electronically. Check it out for yourself at http://www.techsmith.com/jing/ and see if you can find other uses of Jing. Don’t forget to check out the Overview Video on the site!

Chris Lohman is an instructional specialist for the eMINTS National Center.

Monday Message for November 8, 2010

Gateway Arch sunrise 6Happy Monday, everyone!

Things are moving along here at the eMINTS National Center. We have several weeks of posts under our belts and I feel like this blog is hitting its stride. However, we still have room for your submissions. Feel free to submit online tools and resources you have found, valuable teaching tips, or inspiring vignettes about all the things that are happening in your classroom. Just go the submission form and fill out the appropriate information.

In the meantime, here are few newsworthy items from eMINTS:

Congratulations to Baldwin County (AL) eMINTS Teachers: Congratulations to Carol Therrell and Vicki Gripp, eMINTS teachers at Stapleton Elementary School in the Baldwin County (Alabama School) District, for the great press coverage of their eMINTS classrooms last week. The classrooms were featured on the local news station. We are proud of you. See the story at: http://www.local15tv.com/ugc/cat/CoolSchools2010/PnrNNPfXrEqbmoR4qfGoig.aspx. eMINTS teachers, Carrie Lowery and Lisa Creps, at Bay Minette Middle School, and their fellow teachers were also recently featured in a news story in the community.

eMINTS Teachers Featured at National Conference: Lori Mathys, eMINTS teacher from Rockwood School District (MO), and Denis Knight, eMINTS teacher from Junction Hill School District (MO), made multiple classroom presentations using the “model classroom” provided by SMART Technologies at the National School Board Association Technology + Learning (NSBA T+L) annual Conference in Phoenix, AZ October 19-21. Each teacher presented different lessons to groups of conference participants who took on the role of elementary or middle school students in the sessions.

Share Your Good News: If you have good news to share about eMINTS or eMINTS/eMINTS4All teachers/PD4ETS participants or graduates or eMINTS students – an award, press coverage, special events of interest – please send a short email with information about the news and any pertinent links to emints-info@emints.org. It is great to be able to highlight positive achievements of eMINTS teachers and students.

As Easy as Reading an Email – RSS in Outlook 2007

In these times of budget cuts, when teachers are being told there is no $ available for PD, they are beginning to depend on their PLN’s more important than ever. It is amazing how many teachers are reading blogs these days and even more amazing at how many are just now learning about the opportunities out there to learn from a global PLN.

Made in Wordle

At one of the last meetings with our training cohort, we talked about “what are” and “how to build PLN’s” (professional/personal learning networks). I shared how following blogs from other educators/experts in the field using Google Reader to subscribe to those blogs, can put them in charge of building their own capacities as eMINTS teachers. Google Reader is a great RSS aggregator but for those that forget to go to Google Reader another tool may work better…that would be your trusty Microsoft Outlook 2007……

If you haven’t notice (or didn’t know what it was) a folder called “RSS Feeds” with the little orange RSS image on top, can be found under your “Inbox” folder in Outlook 2007. It probably has a plus sign next to it and if you select it you will see an explanation on the right of what RSS is and how it can be of use to you. If you click the plus to the left of the folder you might notice it already has some subscriptions set up for you to some Microsoft Blogs. To see how to set up your own subscriptions check out this video from The Ideal Consultant and in 3 minutes he will get your RSS folder up and running and keeping you up-to-date with the newest content on the web. Now checking your blogs will be as simple as checking your email.

RSS Feeds in Microsoft Outlook (YouTube Video)

Be warned – the drawback to using Outlook is that when you don’t have access to your email you will also not have access to your blog subscriptions so decide what the best tool for you is and get started.

Some blogs we suggest you follow:
The Cool Cat Teacher Blog – http://coolcatteacher.blogspot.com/
The Clever Sheep – http://thecleversheep.blogspot.com/
Teachers Love SMART Boards – http://www.teacherslovesmartboards.com/
Weblogg-ed – http://weblogg-ed.com/
Suppl_eMINTS – http://supplemint.edublogs.org/

*for those using Google Reader and are loving it, they offer a Google Reader Help Page just for you with tips on getting started to formatting your reader and everything in between.

We would love to know what blogs you follow so leave a comment 🙂 and let us know.

Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. You can visit her site here or read her blog, Higgins’ Helpful Hints.

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Thinkertoys: Creative-Thinking Techniques

Thinkertoys: a Handbook of Creative-Thinking Techniques by Michael MichalkoWell
At first the title makes me think of those crazy sticks and dowels from the 60’s that many of us played with as kids.  You remember Tinkertoys, right?

This book is stuffed with creative ideas to resolve problems and look at things from different perspectives or in creative new ideas.  Although, Michalko wrote it for mostly business audiences it parallels what we do in education very closely.  He says it is not be to read from cover to cover but I am on my second time through and have not turned into a toad yet.
The first time I grabbed up the book, I was fascinated with all of the line drawings in the book.  Being a visual learner I had to go through the whole book and analyze each image. Oh yes there is the famous old woman and young woman drawing,  but the author includes many more, actually too many to even count.  Even if you did not read one word out of the book, you would get ideas from the images included.
Each chapter has a little section called a “Blue Print” and it walks you through the steps of the idea addressed in the chapter.  That is helpful to me but..  sometimes I just want to experience the idea.
The other day at our Area Meeting we all took a blank piece of paper and closed our eyes and then drew some random lines.  From there we exchanged the papers and then looked at the sketches and tried to use our imaginations and add some lines to create something else.  It was amazing what each of us envisioned.  It was amazing how many different ideas each of us brought to the table.
The Three B’s is one technique that I am repeatedly using.  If you are working on a problem or innovative idea, sometimes you need time for the idea to incubate.  So you need to occupy your brain with other things, so the suggestion is to take a bus ride, take a bath, or go to bed (take a nap).  Then when you least expect it the subconscious develops a solution or plan.   Our logical side of the brain thinks that if I just spend more time in deep thought, I can figure it out. But the truth is, that your brain needs a break for it to digest and “incubate”.
“Think Bubbles” are a modified version of a concept map and are connected with different types of lines, in and out of the bubbles related to other bubbles.  Since I have used Smart Ideas, I would never do this on plain paper, it  would be much more visual and adaptable using Smart Ideas.  This is great for brainstorming but also for organizing thoughts and weighing pro’s and con’s.
Would I recommend this book?
Oh yes without a doubt.  Just the “Warming Up” chapter has enough ideas to help you with any group meeting or training session.  I keep revisiting this book because I remember bits and pieces of the wisdom that the author shared.
Stephanie Bengtson is an area specialist for the eMINTS National Center.

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Futures Channel

Here’s a tip from eMINTS Instructional Specialist Ruth Henslee concerning a great resource for educational videos:

The Futures Channel is a fantastic resource for teachers and students! They have current videos that are interesting and are aligned to different grade level curriculum.

You can visit the Futures Channel here.

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Videoconferencing: Let the adventure begin!

When thinking about enhancing the learning experiences of students, traveling outside the classroom has been an interesting possibility.  With the financial situation of our schools in mind, field trips that were so important in the past might not be a reality due to the limited funding available.  One alternative might be to take advantage of technology in the form of videoconferencing.

Videoconferencing is a simultaneous, two-way, interactive communication with video and audio.  It requires anything from basic equipment of a webcam, microphone, and speakers to more advanced systems such as a Polycom.  Imagine the excitement of the students as they visit with the author of their current book study.  Think of the questions students would generate as they prepare for an interview with someone from England to gain the countries perspective on the American Revolution, or discuss cultural traditions with students from China.

Videoconferencing is a way to make these possibilities come true.  It can introduce students to professionals and other classrooms in a way they hadn’t imagined before.  It opens up unlimited opportunities to go beyond the classroom walls to connect with experts and develop global awareness.   When students formulate questions or interact globally, their minds and imagination are stretched in new and exciting ways.  Their interest and motivation often increases and a renewed curiosity of learning can be sparked.

With the variety of free online tools available for communication, videoconferencing may be easier than ever before.  One of the many sites that offer free videoconferencing capabilities that take advantage of the webcam, microphone, and speakers is Skype.

So, how do you go about finding these experts and classrooms?  There are many resources available to find and assist in the setup of a video conference.  If you are interested in partnering with another classroom you might first try posting to the eMINTS discussion list to find other eMINTS classrooms.  There are also many sites that provide directories and projects such as the ones listed below:

  • Skype for Educators
  • Skype in Schools
  • Skype other Classrooms
  • Skype and Author Network
  • Videoconferencing Out on a Lim (Offers a lot of resources for connecting with Skype conferences)
  • Videoconferencing Projects
  • Global Schools

Even though many video conferences are free, be sure to read all the details carefully to make sure what procedures and possible expenses may be involved with the conference.

If a more sophisticated system is something you are interested in, one system that is worth looking at is a Polycom system.  Although many of the directories and conferences associated with a polycom system often has a fee, the Polycom site does offer a list of 391 free video conferences.

For more thoughts and ideas on the use of videoconferencing in the classroom, take a look at Videoconferencing with Elementary School Students and Making Video-Conferencing More Than Just Cool.

Videoconferencing can be an incredible experience for both teachers and students as they travel beyond the classroom walls without leaving the building.    Maybe it’s time to give video conferencing a try and let the adventure begin

Terri Brines is an instructional specialist for the eMINTS National Center.

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Image Source: http://www.studioroosegaarde.net/project/LiquidSpace6.0

In case you haven’t noticed, the eMINTS National Center is expanding our efforts to get the word out about the great work our staff and the teachers we serve do every day. This blog is just one way in which that effort comes to life. We’ll continue to post great ideas and innovations in teaching and technology on Networked Teaching & Learning.

In addition to the blog, be sure to join our Facebook group for the latest information regarding eMINTS as well as news of our teachers’ continued success. This group can also be a great way to connect with other eMINTS teachers and trainers.

Finally, I have set up a Twitter account to help get the eMINTS message out there to the Twitterverse. Follow me at @Zac_eMINTS and stay current on all things eMINTS related.

You too can participate in these efforts. Besides joining the Facebook group and following my Twitter feed, you can submit a post for this blog. We would love to have the input of our teachers and friends in the educational technology world. Simply follow this link to our Google Form and fill in the appropriate information. You can type your post directly into the form or copy and paste from another location.

In the meantime, check out what we’ve posted last week:

  • Microblogging for Students
  • Videos to Inspire Inquiry-Based Learning
  • Puzzles as Community Builders
  • Must-Read: Fires in the Mind

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Must Read: Fires in the Mind

I just finished reading Fires in the Mind by Kathleen Cushman. WOW!!! This is the best book about education I”ve read in a really long time. Kathleen Cushman really LISTENS to teenagers – and shares what they say about what motivates them and what it takes for them to invest the effort to get really good at something that interests them. Cushman uses the the latest research on cognition to explore with teens the forces that drive them to spend countless hours of deliberate practice online casinos to become really good at something.

Years ago I learned that the two most powerful factors in motivation are interest and choice – and I always thought that authentic, real world applications were essential also. In Fires in the Mind, Cushman explains motivation is a combination of two factors: what we value and what we expect we can do. And she elaborates on what deliberate practice includes that makes students work hard even when it is frustrating to accomplish a goal.

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