Tuesday, February 24, 2009

MACUL Memories

I'm on the MACUL Conference blogging team; this entry will soon be posted there as well.

I attended my first MACUL Conference in 2002 and have attended each year since.  I went the first year as a participant only; I got the feel for MACUL and benefited greatly from what I experienced and learned.  The following year, and each year thereafter, I have come to the conference as a presenter.  I like sharing and helping others learn and grow, and having a "presenter mindset" keeps me always on the hunt for new ways of using technology for teaching and learning. 

Some of the most important MACUL experiences that have shaped me professionally include:

  • Purchasing a Snagit/Camtasia bundle from the vendor area in 2002.  I began screencasting long before it became a fad.  People still come up to me and tell me they recognize my voice from the CD I published back in 2003!  I'm still using Camtasia (and Jing) on a regular basis. 

  • Receiving a MACUL grant in 2004 for a digital storytelling project.  I presented at the MACUL conference with a teacher from my district to share what we did and how digital storytelling positively impacts student writing.  I developed a website to go with it, and people from all over the world still visit and use the teaching materials, especially to show the student examples. 

  • Hearing about the power of blogging from Will Richardson and David Warlick at Macul 2005.  I created my own blog, Yes Tech! in Nov 2006 and have found that it helps me to be a reflective practitioner.

  • Attending a Steve Dembo "Top 10 Web 2.0 Tools" session in 2007 opened my eyes to many new tools: Twitter, Wikispaces, and Flickr, to name a few.

  • Getting to know & networking with other like-minded educators at social events on Thursday nights!  The face-to-face meetings have continued, thanks to MACUL Space

What are your favorite MACUL memories?

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Thinkfinity is a web-based tool with standards-based educational resources from high quality content partners such as:

  • ArtsEdge (the arts)

  • EconEdLink (economics)

  • EdSitement (humanaties, foreign language, social studies)

  • Illuminations (math)

  • ReadWriteThink (literacy)

  • Science NetLinks (science)

  • Smithsonian (history)

  • Xpeditions (geography)

Teachers of all grade levels can easily find lesson plans, interactive activities, worksheets, rubrics, media, primary source documents, and reference materials from all these content providers with one search. 

Additionally, Thinkfinity has separate web portals for students, parents, and after-school programs.  Teachers can encourage parents of their students to utilize Thinkfinity resources at home to deepen understanding of concepts.

Check it out!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Xtranormal Video

A teacher friend showed me the website Xtranormal today.  It is a simple web-based video creation tool.  You can select characters, scenes, and special effects.  You can easily add dialogue, body gestures, facial expressions, and even decide the camera angle.  Publishing is free (for now, at least).  Try it out; it is fun!  See my first attempt below. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Our Future Students

A teacher shared this link with me today.  Yes, it's an ad, but it sure gets you thinking about what our young students are capable of doing!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Doodle for Google

TEACHERS:  Register now for the Doodle for Google contest.  I'm sure you have noticed that the Google logo changes on a regular basis - on special holidays, for example.  Entries are due on March 31, 2009.  Schools can submit up to six of their best entries.  See rules/guidelines here.  The theme for this year is "What I Wish for the World".


  • The national winner receives a $15,000 college scholarship, a trip to Google's headquarters in New York, a laptop, and a T-shirt with their design on it.  In addition, the winner's school receives $25,000 of tech equipment.

  • Three national finalists receive a trip to the Google New York Office, a laptop computer, and a t-shirt printed with their doodle.

  • Each of the other 36 Regional Winners will win a trip to the Google New York Office and a t-shirt printed with their doodle.

  • Each of the other 360 State Finalists will receive a "Doodle 4 Google" official winner's certificate.

  • New this year is a District Quality Participation Prize in the amount of $10,000 to the school district that most encourages high-quality participation from its schools. The District Quality Participation Prize will also be a grant that goes towards the establishment/improvement of a computer lab.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Michigan Online Resources for Educators (MORE)

If you are a Michigan educator, you'll want to spend some time exploring Michigan's E-Library.  If you are connected to a district network, you are logged in automatically.  You can use from other locations by logging on with your drivers' licence number.

The feature I like the best is called MORE.  You can search by Michigan Standards/Grade Level Content Expectations to find teacher-selected web sites, lesson plans, and online activities.  I did a search for 7th Grade Social Studies G5.1.1.  Resources are linked by clicking on the icon of the laptop (see the screenshot below).  What a great way to quickly and easily find instructional tools to use in your classroom!