Tag Archives: teachers

Being a Teacher for a Day

Monday is our third annual Your Day At School for teachers in RCPS. For the second time, I’m teaching a class on Google Docs, an online product I use so much and feel so passionate about, it made me want to stand up in front of a classroom and talk for two 100-minute classes.

Last year we were plagued with Firefox problems and teachers not having pre-signed up to Google Docs accounts that we ran out of time. Hopefully this year, with a stipulation in the description of the course for accounts, 100 minute classes will be enough to share this powerful tool with teachers. I’m a little disappointed in the number of teachers that actually made it into the class, but with so many classes being offered and my class being a double block, maybe I’ll get lucky and get some walk-ins and latecomers. Since it’s a tool that any teacher can use, math to foreign language, I hope that no one will be bored with the content.

And maybe this year I won’t pace the floor so much and ramble on.


Posted by on October 10, 2009 in Uncategorized

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Google Moderator – Letting The Audience Drive

I just found Google Moderator.

Basically, it’s a tool for letting people at a meeting, in a classroom and even before an event/class help you, the speaker or moderator decide on what to cover in as your subject matter.

Before your lecture, you could give out the link to your “series” and they can make suggestions about what they’d like to hear about and then vote on each others suggestions (including your own!).

Of course then, during the event, you can let people suggest and vote live while your on stage or in front of your crowd. And by showing the series screen on a projector, they can all watch the topics be created and be voted up and down.

This would be really handy before conferences, staff meetings, subcommittee meetings and open forums or town hall-style meetings.

This is one of Google Lab’s creation, so it’s not a full fledge product.


Posted by on September 30, 2009 in For Teachers, Google, Online

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Quick Google Docs Update

Google has been busy this Summer, updating features on Docs just in time for the new school year. Adding an equation editor to Spreadsheets, subscripts and superscripts to Documents as well as translations services.

Also to note, Google Sites (their webpage buider/hosting site) now supports posting Docs to your website as well as Calendar, Maps and Picasa (photos). Create a webpage and post a presentation, a photo album or a custom Google Map in minutes.

Here’s mine.

And be on the look out from Microsoft’s version (hey, they’re not ALL that bad) of Docs called Office Live. I’ve just barely scratched the surface with it, but as long as it’s free…


Posted by on September 29, 2009 in For Home, For Students, For Teachers, Google, Online

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Break Your Addiction to PowerPoint


I love PowerPoint when it’s used correctly as a visual aid and not a presentation crutch. Many times I go by classrooms and students are in the front of rooms giving group presentations (a lot more than group work than when I was in school). I just wonder if they are learning how to use it correctly?

So I was glad to see this article in Wired about how PowerPoint is over used so often and in all the wrong ways.

My favorite presenter? Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs (example) and almost everyone at TED (I could spend a whole day watching these people).


Posted by on August 7, 2009 in For Students, For Teachers

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Etherpad: Online Word Processing with Collaboration

I was just sent a link to the website, a new site for working with text documents online that you can collaborate with other people in “really real-time”. I’m a huge fan of websites like these for educational purposes. Much like Google Docs, the site allows multiple people to edit a single document online, track who made what changes, keep a history of saved changes and then download the document to save or print. It’s a very clean site with minimal tools and buttons and clearly labeled menus and options.

The biggest differences with the Etherpad is that people who are used to Microsoft Office will find the flexibility of this word processor severely lacking. There are no tables, no importing pictures or in-depth layout/design tools. It’s a straight up text editor.

The free version of the site allows you to share a document with 8 people and you have to keep track of the pad websites yourself (maybe writing them down on paper or on your computer somewhere) or you’ll never get access back to them again. Also, any “pad” that you create cannot be deleted. Ever. Etherpad will keep links to documents permanently available for anyone to access that has the link address. Only paid accounts will have features like that, but it’s not available at the moment.

For quick and dirty text documents that you need to work on personal/work non-sensitive information with and don’t care who ever sees it, Etherpad is just for that. There’s hardly a learning curve (like there is with Google Docs), but you may quickly realize the absence of features and security that other software/websites offer.

Here is a short screencast from Etherpad posted a demo of the site and what it can do.


Posted by on June 19, 2009 in For Home, For Students, For Teachers, Online, Uncategorized

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Google Wave Preview

Coming this year, Google is going change the way we think about email, online collaboration, sharing files and publishing online content with Google Wave.

The premise behind Wave is to reinvent how we interact online. The makers of Google Maps have had some time to think about it and came up with an idea: Why do current online activities like email have to mimic their real world counterparts?

So they created Wave.

As best as I can describe it, a “wave” is a document that you can share with people. Everyone logs into Google Wave and they all see the same document (collaboration). We can all edit it in real-time without having to send anything back and forth. It’s instant. We can add pictures, links to websites, see what other people have changed in the “wave” and then see a final product. We can talk to each other in the document (instant message) and talk about changes and updates. If we want to let someone see the final product, we add them to the wave (email) by clicking on their name in the address book. Nothing needs to be emailed. There aren’t multiple copies of documents and there’s no need to wait for replies (if everyone is online at the same time working).

But what is even more special about Wave is that it’s completely open to other developers to create extensions to Wave’s abilities. Google has even created their own extensions to add a Google Map to a wave that everyone can draw on and mark places on the map for other people to see.

You can also blog a wave. Instead of going to to blog, you can post a wave to your blog. Then when people comment on your blog, your wave back at Google Wave shows those comments live, even while people are typing in it.

So what would Google Wave mean for RCPS schools? That’s really to be determined by the final product. Since it is outside communication, it would most likely be blocked for Acceptable Use Policy reasons. Unless Google released a version of that we could run inside the county network, Wave will probably never see the light of our school’s flourescents. We do allow access to Google Docs, which Wave takes it’s collaboration facet from and I strongly recommend Docs over Word or Apple Works on almost a daily basis to students and teachers. It auto saves, never crashes and since it’s a website, you don’t have to email documents to yourself from work/school and home.

Google Wave will likely flip the online communication world on it’s head since it integrates so many different aspects of the way we do things online. I expect Wave to be what the iPhone and it’s similar cellphone products were to the telephone but for email.

I highly recommend that you watch the following video. Let it load for a bit and then skip to about the 13 minute mark.

Link: Google Wave Preview


Posted by on June 1, 2009 in For Home, For Students, For Teachers, Google, Online

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