Friday, April 3, 2009

Academic Technology Newsletter #2

Academic Technology Newsletter #2
April 3, 2009

Academic Technology Bytes
Two or three thoughtful & provocative articles offered as digital food for thought.

Students See Schools Inhibiting Their Use of New Technologies
The article argues that students are eager for more technology use in the classroom, but are frustrated that teachers and administrators don’t seem to be embracing its use in the classroom for a variety of reasons. Perhaps it’s time for all of us to move out of our comfort zones, from teachers to IT personnel to office staff.

Six Technologies Soon to Affect Education
Article summary of a report from the New Media Consortium listing “the emerging technologies that will shape K-12 education in the near future.” The technologies are grouped in the report according to their likely time-to-adoption – click through to read the article and get a head start.

Technology Lead Teacher Initiative
San Antonio school district presents its results with using the “lead from the back” philosophy of spreading technology through the schools with the use of teacher-leaders in this web-based video.

District Technology News
Brief roundup of what’s been happening with instructional technology in the District.

  • Jamila Nassar, of the SHS Counseling Department, has been developing a list of counseling resources for students using, and was quite pleased to see what we have done with Delicious and department integration. Take a look at what she and others have created, here:
  • On April 27, hundreds of upperclassmen at DVHS and SSHS will receive a new laptop through the Digital Scholars program to honor their commitment to excellence in SUSD. You will be able to track up-to-date information regarding the numbers as they come in here:
  • Approximately 80 high school students are participating in a pilot program for the ReadingPlus online reading remediation program through our partnership with CSC Learning. You can see the kinds of things they are doing in the classroom and online by clicking here.

Spotlight on YOUR Classroom
The best professional development comes from seeing what the teacher down the hall from you is doing that works.

Sherry “MacGyver” Brown, of SSHS, has this to share:
“I made…(my own)…interactive whiteboard using some chewing gum, baling wire and spit. Okay, it was from Johnny Lee's wiiMote hacks which uses the wiiRemote, an homemade IR pen (parts courtesy of Dollar Tree and RadioShack) and some open source software. Not only is it *portable* (think traveling cart teachers) -- it works on *any* surface (whiteboard, wall, table, floor, student).
Of course, it cost a grand total of $47 to make -- assuming one has the computer and projector already.”

Free Resources on the Web
Websites, pages, or services on the Web that just might come in handy in your classroom someday.

Classroom 2.0
While the “2.0” moniker is certainly getting a little old, this website lives up to the title. It is a social network for educators interested in learning more about and collaborating on best practices for Web 2.0 technologies in the classroom. It provides forums for educators to post and respond to questions regarding the use of technology in the classroom, links to interesting recent news regarding instructional technology, links to online teacher resources, and acts as a clearinghouse to post opportunities for teachers to learn more about technology, such as an upcoming webinar with PBS & Elluminate on how to engage students using technology.

Grammar Bytes
Fairly comprehensive & simple to navigate website to help teach and learn English grammar terms. The examples are down-to-Earth and sometimes rather amusing.

While the name indicates something a bit more morbid, this site is a repository of free images that can be downloaded and used with PowerPoint presentations, web pages, or handouts (if we had paper, that is!). Take a look – I searched for the term “school” and came up with 565 images. While you can certainly stick with, not all of the images you find on Google are royalty-free.

Freeware Spotlight

Free tools to download and use on your computer (with permission, of course!)

Visual Body
It’s only freeware if you count the plugin that must be installed to view it (and it also requires Flash), but I had to include this site. It is totally free and thoroughly amazing. It allows you to explore and manipulate the human body, adding and removing muscular tissue, bone, nerves, and much more to get a 3-D tour of the human body. It must be seen to really be appreciated.

CyberSmart Toolbar
Toolbar for Internet Explorer and for Firefox that provides a wealth of resources for teachers. Provides links to everything from content area knowledge resources to Web 2.0 tools specifically designed for teachers.

Send in your questions regarding technology use for possible inclusion in this newsletter.

What does that “other” button do on my mouse?

Great question! As you can see, each mouse comes with two buttons – one on the right, and one on the left. Most of us (sorry, left-handers!) use the left button with our pointer finger. We use it to click on things and select text. The “other” button, the one on the right, is the contextual menu button. Clicking on something in most applications with the right mouse button, or “right-clicking”, will produce a menu. Right-clicking on the word “menu”, for example, will produce a menu with options to copy the word menu, search for “menu” on the internet, and other options. Right-clicking on an empty area of the desktop will allow you to create a variety of different kinds of documents on the fly. Right-clicking on a web link will give you the option to open the link, open it in a new window, or open it in a new tab, among other options. Try it in various locations and see!

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