Tag Archives: Debbie

FUNdamentals of Learning: An Intel Webinar

We have often talked about PLN (Personal Learning Networks) in the blog but I thought I might share a specific site that you may want to add to your PLN.  It is the Teachers Engage site from Intel.  This is a community of educators K-12 and the focus is transforming learning with the integration of technology.  It is free to register and provides many helpful ideas and tools to use in the classroom.

There are discussion boards, webinars, unit plans, and various communities you can join to meet your particular interests and needs.  The resources that are provided are excellent and there are so many of them.

I mentioned webinars, an example of one of the webinars you should attend is tonight, Aug. 7th at 6:00 Central time. Doug Caldwell, Debbie Perkins, and Julie Szaj, all eMINTS Instructional Specialist, will casino online be presenting a webinar called The FUNdamentals of Learning.   In this webinar, they “will present on websites that help teachers and students get, become, stay engaged. Focusing on middle school-aged resources, they will show tools and have participants brainstorm classroom uses with an emphasis on back to school planning.”

If you are interested in the Teachers Engage or just want to check out a webinar, come and join them tonight and see if maybe Teachers Engage is a site you might want to add to your PLN.

Terri Brines is an eIS and Cognitive CoachingSM Trainer for the eMINTS National Center.


I have to share a great new tool that a friend of mine, Debbie Perkins, shared with me; Crocodoc.   I love this new little tool.

Basically this tool allows you to upload PDF’s, documents, or images, share them with anyone and then the people you share it with can add comments, highlights, and text  to whatever you uploaded.    So if I upload an article and share it with someone, that person or persons can add whatever they would like.  And yes, they can add at the same time.

I see a lot of ways that this can be used.  You could upload an article and have individuals or groups highlight and comment on what they feel are the most value points.  Documents that need corrections could be uploaded, like sentences or paragraphs, and then corrections could be made by many individuals with their comments as to why they made the correction they did.  You could upload several examples or quotes that you want viewed and have the people you share it with choose their favorite or the one they have a connection to and then make a comment about why they made that choice.  An image could be uploaded and then captions for the image could be added as comments.

I see so many possibilities for this. What could you do this?

Terri Brines and Debbie Perkins are instructional specialists with the eMINTS National Center.

2012 eMINTS Conference: Google Docs in the Classroom

If you missed eMINTS Conference 2012, that means you also missed a great breakout session, Google Docs in the Classroom, presented by Google Certified Teacher, Stephanie J. Madlinger, Ed.S. Stephanie guided participants through everything from utilizing Google’s URL shortener, goo.gl, to collecting and organizing information from multiple individuals with Google forms.

When sharing Google documents or presentations, up to ten collaborators may work on the online file simultaneously; up to 50 may work concurrently on Google spreadsheets. Of course, as owner of a Google Doc, you determine what stays private, what is shared, and what permissions collaborators are granted. A tool that was new to many participants was Google Drawings. Need to create a diagram? You can do that with Google Drawings as well!

One of the best features of Google resources is that they are all free! Whether you need email for your students or collaborative docs to can access anytime anywhere, Google has the tool. Google in Education provides a nice overview.

Bottom line: it seems like there is now a Google Doc for everything! What are your hunches about how students and teachers might use Google Docs? If you need some ideas, check out Google Docs for Educators.
Stephanie graciously agreed to share her presentation resources with all of you. It’s no surprise that they’re all organized in a Google Doc!

Thank you, Stephanie!

Debbie Perkins is an eMINTS Instructional Specialist.

Tuesday’s Tools: Finding Space for Students on the Web

The World Wide Web is a wondrous thing, but it is often overcrowded with material not suited for students. We at eMINTS are always on the lookout for tools and resources that make the web a friendly place for students. This week’s list of online tools will do just that.

While Blogger and WordPress are excellent blogging tools, they come with the added risk of being part of an online community. For some teachers, this is rather uncomfortable position. Kidblog.org makes it possible for teachers to set up safe and easy to figure out blogs for their elementary and middle school students. Kidblogs simply allow students to publish blog posts and converse in a safe, controlled environment.

Looking for more of an online presence for students? Try Weebly for Education as a web and blog host. The popular web hosting and design site provides an added features of collecting homework and managing student accounts. Of course, there is also a blogging component that makes Weebly rather versatile.

It has been mentioned here before, but it’s worth mentioning again. Safeshare.TV is an easy way to access videos on YouTube without having to deal with pesky ads, (un)related videos, and comments. Safeshare.TV just makes it possible to access the great content that can be found in YouTube’s many, many videos.

How about finding resources on the web that contain appropriate reading levels for your students? Twurdy is a Google-powered search engine that color-codes resources based on reading levels. This can come in handing when researching a topic for students with some reading limitations. Allow students to conduct searches on Twurdy or do the work beforehand, identifying the most appropriate results for your students.

What are some tools you use in providing space and accessibility to the web for your students?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. A special H/T goes out to eMINTS instructional specialists Carla Chaffin and Debbie Perkins for suggesting the tools above.

HD_Links: SnackTools Free Web Apps

SnackTools are free and easy to use web applications designed to create and publish multimedia widgets. These widgets work seamlessly with websites and blog sites including Weebly, WordPress, Blogger, Facebook and many more.

To make your own custom Flash widgets, simply create a user account and look at the tutorials and examples. You will see how quick and easily you can be creating your own interactive flipbooks, banners, slideshows, and more.

Below is a complete list of the tools and their features along with preview images. To see the interactive examples I created for my website/blog visit the Helpful Hints Blog.

BannerSnack – A high quality gif and flash banner maker with transitions & effects.

PhotoSnack – Professional quality photo slideshows with as many pictures as you like & templates.

PodSnack – Custom web audio players with playlists, progress bar players, and mini players.

TubeSnack – Custom video players and playlists from your server or YouTube.

QuizSnack – Online surveys & polls embedded into your website or blog with real time reporting.

FlipSnack – Make perfect flip books from any PDF with a customizable look and size.

How might you use these tools to enhance teaching and learning through your classroom website and/or blog?

Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. You can read more at her blog Higgins Helpful Hints Blog. Special thanks to Debbie Perkins, eMINTS Instructional Specialist for sharing this great resource.

Friday 4ALL: Natural Disasters & Relief

F5 tornado Elie Manitoba 2007
Justin1569 via Wikimedia Commons
Natural disasters have been dominating the headlines this spring. We’ve witnessed everything from earthquakes to flooding to tornadoes occurring around the world. Whether it happens in Japan or in our own backyard, what are your ideas about how citizens might behave responsibly before, during, and after natural disasters?

There are many sites that provide information on disaster preparedness, and being informed is definitely a critical first step. In fact, Ready.gov tells us to “Prepare. Plan. Stay informed.” But I’m wondering today if that Is where responsibility ends or begins?

In a shrinking world, we not only have immediate access to images of the aftermath of a natural disaster, but we may also watch surreal scenes unfold in realtime. Our hearts go out to those affected, but there can be a feeling of disconnectedness and unreality. After a natural disaster, whether I’m personally affected or not, what actions could I potentially take as a responsible citizen? How might one student or one classroom make a difference? This is not a day I have answers; it’s day when I have questions for us to ponder.

Related links:
⁃Ready.gov: http://www.ready.gov/
⁃Home Safety Council: http://www.homesafetycouncil.org/index.asp
⁃National Disaster Education Coalition: http://www.disastereducation.org/
⁃FEMA: http://www.fema.gov/
⁃FEMA for Kids: http://www.fema.gov/kids/
⁃Children, Stress and Natural Disasters: http://web.extension.illinois.edu/disaster/teacher/teacher.html
⁃72Hours: http://72hours.org/
⁃USGS (Earthquakes) http://earthquake.usgs.gov/
⁃Discovery TV Stormchasers: http://dsc.discovery.com/tv/storm-chasers/

Debbie Perkins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

Tuesday’s Tool: Glogster EDU

What are your ideas about how students prefer to creatively express their learning? Through images? Text? Video? Audio? They can incorporate any or all of these when creating a Glog in Glogster. What’s a Glog? Some say it’s a graphical blog. True, but you might also think of it as an interactive, online poster. Watch this video tutorial to see how it works…

Some teachers recently requested troubleshooting help with saving their students’ Glogs. The problems they were having resulted from using a regular Glogster account in the classroom. You can avoid the issues they experienced by signing up for a Glogster EDU account. Here are a few of the advantages:

  • Student accounts are easy to create. Make sure you register for the EDU zone, and add desired number of student accounts from your dashboard (on bottom right). You can have up to 100 student accounts in the free EDU version.
  • You will receive an email with a unique nickname (username), password, and first login link for each student. *Student usernames and passwords are auto-generated. With the free version, you cannot change student usernames, but you can change their passwords. The first time a student logs in, he/she will be given option of entering a name for easier identification within your group, but this will not change his/her username.
  • Students cannot see content from the regular Glogster site when they are making Glogs in the EDU zone.
  • Students may save their Glogs by clicking “Save or Publish” at top right of workspace. They will have option to select “finished” or “unfinished” before saving. (The quickest way to get back to their Glogs to edit them from their dashboard is to click on username at top right. Glogs will come up; click on Glog name to edit.)
  • You can change visibility of student Glogs by marking them Unfinished Private, Finished Private, Public for All, or Deleted.
  • You and all of your students are connected; students can see each other’s Glogs and leave comments.
  • You can moderate comments and send/receive messages with students.

Do you still have questions? Check out Glogster’s FAQ’s. When you’re ready to get started, this video can help.

You’ll also want to download Glogster’s Teacher Resource Library. It includes sample Glogster activities that are aligned with state, national, and technology standards, sample lesson plans, and a library of multimedia resource links.

You won’t have to spend much time exploring Glogster before ideas for student and/or teacher use begin popping up in your mind.

Happy Glogging!

Debbie Perkins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

Tuesday’s Tool: Save, Sync, Share with Dropbox

Do you use multiple computers? Ever need a file at home or at a training session, but you can’t access it because it’s on a different computer?
Dropbox offers a great solution.  Use it to store, sync, and share files.  Just put any type of file in your Dropbox on one computer, and it will instantly sync with all of your computers where you’ve downloaded Dropbox. In fact, the files in your Dropbox will be available to you on any other computer with Internet access whether you’ve downloaded Dropbox there or not. In that way, it’s like a virtual flashdrive!  Your files are available anywhere just by logging in online.

Not only that, you can also share specific folders in your Dropbox with multiple other people so that you can collaborate on the same set of files. You decide who sees which folders. And what if a file is accidentally deleted by you or a collaborator? No problem! Login to Dropbox online, click “Show deleted files,” and restore the version of the file you want to keep.

So how much space do you get? The free Dropbox service provides 2 GB of storage, but you can earn up to 8 GB of free space by inviting friends to Dropbox. For each referral that joins, both you and your friend receive more free storage. For example, if you register and install Dropbox from my referral link, both you and I will receive 250 MB of bonus storage space.

This demo on YouTube gives more specifics about how it works.

One thing you should be aware of is that when you download Dropbox, the Growl notification system is also automatically loaded on your computer.  While I didn’t like the fact that Dropbox loaded Growl on my computer without my express permission, I do like the immediate, temporary, pop-up notification whenever a Dropbox file I have shared with others is updated or one that someone has shared with me is changed.  If you don’t like Growl, it’s easy to uninstall.

A final added benefit to Dropbox is that I can also access all files I store there from my iPhone, and that app is free too. Free Dropbox apps are also available for iPad, Blackberry, and Android.

Yes. I love Dropbox! No more emailing files to myself or struggling to remember where I left one of my many flash drives!

Debbie Perkins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

HD Links: Shadow Cast by MLK

“Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

”]Each year on the third Monday in January, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is observed as a US federal holiday. This year it falls on January 17th. None of our students were even born during Martin Luther King’s lifetime, nor were most of their parents, so what do they really know about this man other than what they’ve been told? Why should anyone acknowledge him other than being grateful for a day off once a year in recognition of his January 15 birth date? How might the shadow cast by his words and actions almost fifty years ago affect what we see in our world today?

Fortunately, there is a wealth of primary resources available on Martin Luther King, Jr. so that you and your students can learn for yourselves who this man was and what he stood for.  Students can formulate their own ideas about the shadow he might still cast today and what might be the reasons this man deserves an annual federal holiday.

On History and Politics Out Loud, listen to speeches given by Martin Luther King, Jr. in his own voice. You can hear and watch his “I Have a Dream” speech on this YouTube video.  Is it still applicable today? What was his dream? Has it come true in whole or in part? How do you know?

PBS also provides multiple primary resources on their American Experience “Citizen King” pages. Watch videos from three perspectives of that time period provided in 1963 by Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and James Baldwin.

You can take an online field trip with a Virtual Tour of Martin Luther King’s childhood home. This site also provides multiple K-8 Lesson Plans/Teacher Guides as well as a Problem-Solution Project for grades 4-8.

Will you utilize these resources in January to celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King? Will they be more useful in February during Black History Month? Or will we see more clearly by examining the lessons learned from shadows cast in these resources by embedding them throughout the school year as habits of mind?

Whenever you might use them, remember HOW you use them is equally important. As Martin Luther King said, ” The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically… Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”

Debbie Perkins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

Tuesday’s Tool: StoryBird

Know any teachers who have reluctant readers or writers? Are you looking for an online tool to jumpstart all students’ imagination? If the answer to either question is yes, then you need to check out Storybird!
What is Storybird? Basically, it’s an online, collaborative, storytelling tool that uses artwork for inspiration. Students can read Storybirds from the “public library” or create stories of their own.
It all starts with the click of a button. First, browse through the artwork. It’s fantastic! Some submitting artists are professional illustrators. How often have your students had the opportunity to collaborate with professional artists?! Once inspired by an artists’ work or a theme, it’s time to let the imagination go and create a Storybird. But students don’t have to work alone;  everything is in place to collaborate on a Storybird.
To make the process even easier, you can create a class account and add students so that you can make assignments and build libraries.
This is one of those rare tools that is great for both older and younger students! No matter what you teach, it will be easy to find relevant uses for Storybird.
Debbie Perkins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.