Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Files wherever you go!

I use this free service EVERY DAY when I was a teacher at Animo Justice and now as a Tech Coordinator with Green Dot. It's a God-send!

What does it do? Basically imagine a folder on your computer that you can drop any file into. It's kind of like a "My Documents" Folder...but better! This Dropbox folder can sync with multiple computers as well as some mobile devices like your iPhone. Your files are with you wherever you go.

Last year I got really tired of hauling my Dell 620 laptop from school to home every night so I locked it down in my classroom and got Dropbox. When I got home I did all my lesson planning at my home computer (with the faster internet connection and unfiltered internet), creating PowerPoints and worksheets. When I got done, I dropped these files into my "DropBox" folder and let them quickly sync onto the internet. I went to bed at a nominal time. Getting to school the next morning, I booted up my computer and within a couple of minutes, all my files were synced to my laptop computer. Yup, it's great isn't it?

In addition, when I made a change to a file from my school laptop, it quickly sync'd the changes back on my home computer as well as any computer I installed Dropbox onto. Also, you can access your files from any computer with internet access. No more carrying around those flimsy flash drives!!

This video makes it very easy to understand! :)

Interested? Go to this link:

By using this referreral, you will get 2 GB of storage PLUS the bonus 250 MB of storage! (Plus it hooks me up with 250 MB) If you keep referring people on your own, the storage space can quadruple to 8 GB! :)

Even if you don't see yourself using this service (free by the way), sign up, install, then uninstall...do it for me -- I'm personally trying to get to 8GB :)


SMART Board for Half Off!

Could you or your school use a SMART BOARD for 50% off? The Riordan Foundation is sponsoring the SMART TECHNOLOGIES GRANT for K-12, Title 1 schools here in Los Angeles.

The grant will fund 50% of the project, while the partner school matches the other 50%.

Eligibility requirements include: (1) Public K-12 school in LA County, (2) 50% or more must qualify for free or reduced lunch, (3) K-12 classroom or computer lab, (4) Must demonstrate a commitment to integrating technology into daily or weekly curriculum, (5) Schools may only apply for the SMART Classroom Technology grant once ever 12 months.

If you are interested in this grant for your school, please visit http://www.riordanfoundation.org for all applicable applications and other detailed information.

This will be quite a competitive grant process because of the limited funding available. The committee will be targeting schools that they feel will use this type of technology daily and schools that demonstrate a commitment to instructional technologies within their tech plans. This should be highlighted in your grant narrative.

If you need help and tips writing the grant, I'd be happy to walk you through the process.

Grant Applications are due on MIDNIGHT, October 29, 2010.

SMART Board in Action!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Better Lesson Updates

Better Lesson update for all Green Dot Core teachers :) As of this afternoon, all Green Dot core content teachers will have access to BetterLesson.com with the following credentials.

Let's start posting those lessons!

Username: Your GD email address
Password: Your default GD password (if you don't know, email me!) Please make sure you change it after logging in!

And don't forget to "Colleague" me! Look for me "Jay R Aguda"

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Steven Colbert testifies before the Congressional Subcommittee on Immigration

Hilariously funny, yet brutally real. Steven Colbert, host of Comedy Centrals "The Colbert Report," takes on Congress testifying, in brilliant satire, FOR the migrant farm workers.  Check it out!!

And, immediately after his testimony, a rare moment. Colbert breaks out of character to share his heart...."Whatever you do to the least of my brothers"...beautiful! Skip to 3 Minutes and 32 Seconds

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Goin' Down the TUBES

With the advent of YouTube.com more than 5 years ago, regular people like you and me became movie directors, producers, and actors, putting together films for world-wide distribution...all for free. While this is a fantastic technology, a lot of what's on YouTube may not be suitable or appropriate for classroom use. Here are two great YouTube-like sites that offer free hosting to your films as well as are a huge repository for video resources for you and your classroom.

School Tube is fantastic. It's jam packed with STUDENT-produced films as well as teacher resources to teach video production.  Visit this page http://www2.schooltube.com/Educators/videoproduction.aspx

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Never Forget...

I remember where I was 9 years ago today, do you? Take a moment to remember...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Cells Alive!

I used this exclusively during my cell-biology unit while teaching Biology a few years ago. It provides interactive graphics and animations for students as well as for teachers. Create inquiry-based lessons and activities surrounding the cell, cell cycle, mitosis, meiosis, etc as a microscope-less lab activity. Or present these animations as enrichments to your direct instruction.

Example animation:

Check it out!

Wolfram Alpha

Math teachers! Social Sciences teachers! Any content teacher! Imagine Google as a learning tool that doesn't just spit out websites that contain your query, rather it presents an answer to your question systematically. The makers of a new website, wolframalpha.com have set out to do just that. Wolframalpha.com is a powerful search and query tool that can be used in instruction for student research.
O yes... and there's an app for it too. Find it on iTunes App Store.

From the About section of Wolfram Alpha's webpage:

Wolfram|Alpha's long-term goal is to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone. We aim to collect and curate all objective data; implement every known model, method, and algorithm; and make it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything. Our goal is to build on the achievements of science and other systematizations of knowledge to provide a single source that can be relied on by everyone for definitive answers to factual queries.

Wolfram|Alpha aims to bring expert-level knowledge and capabilities to the broadest possible range of people—spanning all professions and education levels. Our goal is to accept completely free-form input, and to serve as a knowledge engine that generates powerful results and presents them with maximum clarity.

Wolfram|Alpha is an ambitious, long-term intellectual endeavor that we intend will deliver increasing capabilities over the years and decades to come. With a world-class team and participation from top outside experts in countless fields, our goal is to create something that will stand as a major milestone of 21st century intellectual achievement.

Try it out for yourself!
Enter a calculation: $305 + 15%
Enter a formula: x^3 sin (2x)
Enter a date: December 7, 1941
Enter a place: Butte, Montana
And much, much more!

Take it a Step Further with Wolfram's Mathematica Player Software
Click below for a demo!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Screen Casts in Action!

I know you're probably all too familiar with some of these valid, yet annoying questions from students when you're running a tutorial:
Mr., what did you do again? Which button did you click on?
Where can I find the brush options?
What did you drag on to?
Let's face it. Teaching tech can be tough to differentiate when many of the tasks are just routine button clicking. If we slow down, our more tech savvy students get bored. If we go faster, well, we'll lose the others!!

Wouldn't it be amazing if our instruction could be like a TiVO, where students can pause, play, and rewind our instructions at their own speed and leisure?

Yes! There is a solution! SCREENCASTING! :)

Here's a great example from Peter Varley at Animo Inglewood.

And here's one I did for my class. There's no sound on this tutorial. I used it as a supplement and review to already presented tutorial...I wanted to get students to talk and ask each other...well, you get the point :)

Some of the benefits of Screen Casting include:
  • Great for teaching technology: Complicated keystrokes, tasks, etc.
  • Students can follow tutorials at their own pace.
  • Students can review tutorials at home or anywhere there is an internet connection.
  • Can be used during office hours or as a "make-up" class.
  • Frees up teacher time to spend with struggling students as needed.
So where can I get some Screen Casting software? 

Here's my favorite (PC Only). It's free and it's OPEN SOURCE! So download it, make a donation, and support Open Source software!

Unfortunately, for the MAC, I've not found any great free screencast software. If you run into something, mac people, please comment below! :) For now, there's Copernicus. The only bummer is it doesn't record sound.

Then there's the JING project (PC and MAC) which is both client and web-based. You record videos using the client, upload them into the JING website for hosting, and use the options on JING to distribute your screencasts to your viewers. It's kind of cool! Yet, maybe too many features for some of us.

Check it OUT! Want to see some great Screen Casts used in Instruction? This guy's on fire! Check out Peter Varley's VIMEO site here:

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Typing Web

Move over Mavis Beacon, there's an easier way to teach typing without installing a new program onto your computers! Special Kudos to Amy Cox at Animo Pat Brown for this awesome web find. TypingWeb is a web-based typing tutor (yes, another web 2.0 solution) that provides a full, customized, typing curriculum for users for free!

Typing Web also includes a special teacher portal that allows teachers to issue student logins, collect data, generate reports, and track student progress. The free version of the teacher portal has limited options and customizability, but it may be just enough for you and your students.  The upgraded version, as usual has more bells and whistles, and costs a pretty penny. Try it out today!