Cramberry

I discovered a new website in the Google Chrome Web Store and it is called Cramberry. Cramberry is a great website for students who use flashcards to aid in studying. This site is immense; you can create your very own flashcards for anything you are studying. Cramberry uses and algorithm so the same cards are not in the same order maximizing retention rate. So how does it work? Create a free account for 30 flashcards a day or sign up for the pro account for unlimited creation of cards. The pro account is only $9 a year, which is an enormous value. I am grateful Cramberry kept the student in mind on the pricing of the pro account.

You don’t have to study just your flashcards you have access to a vast library of pre made cards at your disposal. Some of the topics available in the pre-made cards are; Spanish, SAT vocabulary, GRE, and math. If you create your own you have a decision to make them public.

I have had some of my students use Cramberry and they say it is a great tool for learning my content as well as the other classes they have. I highly recommend using Cramberry if you are a student that needs help memorizing a subject or any content. Not only can students use this anyone looking to memorize anything for a certain job or test can use Cramberry. Cramberry also has an iPad and iPhone/iPod touch app for mobile use as well. I do not have either of those products so I cannot review them at this time. Please check out Cramberry and if you have students share this site to them as well.

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Chrome Web Store

We have a new operating system that is coming out and it is Google Chrome OS. Chrome OS is designed to be an open source operating system that is basically a web browser. In the video that Google has for the promotion of Chrome OS it says all we want is to get on the internet, and in today’s standards this is what most of us want. Let’s face it most of our lives revolve around a social networking site. Well, you are probably wondering what I an education blogger am talking about Chrome OS for.
Well I am glad you asked it just so happens that Google Chrome OS has an app store called the Chrome web store, and not only do Chrome OS users have access to this. If you download the Google Chrome Web Browser you are able to access this store. This brings me to my point, there is an education section of apps that are available to use in Chrome. Now the Chrome web store is very young and there are not many apps out yet for this platform, I believe this could be a great tool for educators in the future.
Some of the apps that are available such as Hangman which is a basic hangman game with a nice user interface. Also math teachers can purchase the educational game called math board. This is a game that will quiz the students on basic math skills you can try the free version which is addition only if you choose to try before you buy. Frabroom is a cool app which is basically a website that has neat educational videos on it. One of my favorites is Meegenius; this cool web app is like the website but is in a full screen mode. This will has books that can be selected to be read aloud, to the students with the words highlighted and the pictures of the books shown. Another favorite of mine for students in higher grades there is an app called Cramberry; it helps you memorize things by using virtual flashcards. You can create your own flashcards and share them with other students in the world. There is also an iPhone and iPad app for it too.
The Chrome web store is very young, there are only 325 education apps that are available and some of them aren’t what I consider really educational but with time I hope this application can become very helpful to teachers and classrooms with limited budgets. This could help some teachers stay on top of the tech game without having access to and iPad or the Apple app store. I hope Google continues to push this idea and doesn’t decide to scrap it.

Content Consumption for learning

Today, content is everywhere and we are supposed to soak it up like a sponge. With sites like Twitter and Facebook our students are being exposed to more information than ever before. So, how can educators get their curriculum across to the students we teach. I think we need to take a step toward the content that is out there on the internet. What if we were to have a Twitter feed for our class or a Facebook fan page of your class. You could use this to put information out on the subject you teach. Even better, what if you were an English teacher and you wanted to keep your students engaged after school hours. If you had a Facebook fan page of your class you could send out an update like break down this sentence. With the ability to reply on Facebook your students could see it and make the proper analysis of the sentence. Maybe you are a teacher who does current events or marketing. You could find a topic or an advertisement on the internet and have your students discuss it while out side of the classroom. I know there are sites out there that let you use these platforms but they aren’t as appealing as the big two I just mentioned. I think we as teachers could use this technology to the greater good if it is used properly.

Paperless Classroom

I am very puzzled about how some school districts seem to be afraid of technology. What would be the problem for a student to bring their laptop and take notes and email them to the teacher. Wouldn’t that save us on paper. How about an iPad could this bee the future of our classroom. I don’t have one yet but I am sure there is an app that will let the students write on it and capture their writing. I know you can type on one so you can take notes. So why are we not letting our students use these tools.

I polled my classroom yesterday, I asked how many of them had access to a laptop, netbook or and iPad 90% of my students said they did. I then asked them would you be alright with brining one of those devices to school to take notes with or do other things that are school related and 100% of them said they would. So, why do some districts shy away from bringing technology into the classroom? Are they afraid of if? I have not received a clear answer. To the people I have talked to they seem to be fine with tech in the classroom so why do we not embrace it. My first thought would be well they would be afraid the students would get on the internet and go to a site they were not supposed to. Well, my school has the wireless internet password protected and on top of that there is site blocking software. So now what would be the problem, could it be they would play games on device. The teacher could then treat it like a student who is passing notes to the other student. I really would like some better answers than I have received.

I would love to have my students to do their work and email it to me so I could grade it in that form instead of lugging papers around the classroom or home. Not only would this save paper it would make for a more clean and neat classroom, which I always enjoy.

Reward Based Teaching

Reward based teaching is a great way to get your students more involved. An example, the other day I broke my class into groups of 4 for a review day.(I am not the biggest fan of group work unless it is done right)The stipulation being the group that finishes first with all correct answerers got a work pass good for anything but tests. the competition was fierce with students delegating answers and questions to the others. Each group worked diligently for the answers, it really surprised me with the outcomes. Not only did the group that one got a work pass but my test scores for all my classes went up.
You do not have to do the same as I because not all classrooms are the same. I have seen teachers give candy, work passes, extra credit, or other things. Most teachers are creative enough they can figure out what works for them in that particular class.
By using a reward based system the students feel entitled to do well. When we work we expect to get paid and students should not be any different. It is to my belief, if you reward your students they will reward you back with better behavior, and the most important these days test scores.

Google Docs

Have you ever gotten frustrated with carrying around lesson plans in a folder, on a disk, or a Jump drive. Well, there is a solution for this problem, Google Docs. Google docs is a cloud based application that can be used to hold all your documents. Google docs can be used for Word, Excel or PowerPoint presentations. Although the programs are not as heavily based as a desktop version of a word processor you can still upload the files that you have saved on your hard drive to the cloud and have them anywhere you have internet access.
Other possible solutions if you do not like Google Docs are Drop box, and Microsoft office is unavailing a Office 365 that is a Google Docs competitor.

Social Media in the Classroom

By now most people have a social media account whether it be Facebook, Twitter, a blog, or all if not more. I believe that social media can be a tool for the classroom. new studies have shown, people are getting more of their news from social media sites than ever before. Even news stations are beginning to use social media as a way to report the news. Take Egypt for example, if you really wanted to know what was happening you could have checked twitter, by looking at the trending topics you could see all the posts of people that are talking about Egypt and their revolution. Not only would you find what people are saying about it but there are links to pictures and to articles that have been written on the subject.
Though some teachers have used these media outlets inappropriately, this doesn’t mean we should shy away from them. Lets use the Egypt story for example, if you teach world geography like I do you could use Twitter to stay up with current events with the changing political, and physical landscape of Egypt. You could also use Twitter for a contemporary issues class to see what is trending right now, and tie that into your curriculum.
Not only can you use Social media as a news source you can use it for such things as keeping your students, and parents involved in what is going on in your classroom. I not only have a Blog set up for my class but I have a twitter account that lets me send out tweets on a particular article that I might have read that the students might find interesting. I have also used it to remind them of the test we have coming up tomorrow so they can study. Our students are spending so much time online these days this is a way to reach them, and still have a cool factor to it as well.
I think we are at the beginning of a new type of online classroom that reaches outside our traditional brick and mortar classroom.
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Xtranormal

  If any of you have seen the Insurance commercials that have super heroes or those weird animals in it then you have seen and Xtranormal video. I believe this type of website is a game changer to our modern education. Especially the way our students learn today. This neat website allows you to create videos with out having extensive creative ability.
   How does it work? You chose characters, a scene, background noise, and best of all you create the script. This can be used in so many different settings and subjects to help your students learn to their highest ability.If you wanted to explain the Pythagorean theorem in math or how osmosis works in science, or any other subject you might teach, you can do it in a cartoon form. Today’s students are so adept to technology and are difficult to keep their attention. This tool is great for the classroom.
   I personally believe this will engage the students to listen more intently and understand the concepts you are trying to get across. There is a cool factor to this website, and will keep the students entertained more than you standing up in front of the classroom.
   A downside to this site is that you have to pay for some of the scenes with points and if you run out you have to pay to get more. Points are given to chose your characters and your scenes. Although, once you have purchased a character you can use it again. Educators do get discounted prices for the use of the movies.
    This is the future of education and we need to jump on board or we will be left behind!

Xtranormal can be found here.
http://www.xtranormal.com/index
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Teaching with technology

                Technology is everywhere and you cannot hide from it. As a society we are moving from the once wired world to wireless, and teachers and schools are being left behind. Look in your pocket chances are you have a cell phone or an MP3 player in it. There is more computing power in your pocket today than some of the very first computers. I have a cell phone today that has a faster processer in it than my first computer I built, which totally amazes me.  So, why are some teachers afraid of using technology in the classroom? I feel some of teachers think they can’t use it because they are scared they will tear it up and it not work for them anymore. Others might think I am not going to use technology in the classroom because I have always taught this way and I have good test scores.  Whether or not you as a teacher feel you are left behind there is always time to catch up.
                Our student’s attention span is less than it has been than ever before. Fifteen minutes of fame are now 1.5 seconds (unless it goes viral). We have to reach our children with different strategies than we have in the past and we need to start today.  So, you are asking yourself, how can I reach my students with technology today, or how can I help my students raise their test scores. Better yet how can I get my students to pay more attention in class? Well not every question has the same answer, and every situation is very different, but I can tell you if you integrate technology in your class room you will see improvements.
                 Something technology brings to a classroom is a fun factor. We have all heard or read studies that say if you make learning more fun you kids will do better with the curriculum you have developed. Today, the way our students have fun is with technology, whether it be texting, playing video games, or on their favorite social network. Our students are constantly connected to the digital world and that is where technology in the classroom should begin.  Some simple steps that you can use if you have the equipment are.
Projector: if you have a projector in the class try and put notes on them the students can relate this to being more like a TV screen and we all know that most of our information is taken from a screen, most of us do get our information from it.
Videos: I am not the biggest supporter of watching videos in the classroom, but some serve their purpose. I believe students are more engaged when you can correlate your lesson plan with a video.
Websites: websites are useful to help collaborate lesson plans with other teachers that use the web. You can find great lesson plans, and ideas on web.
                I am not saying go out and totally revamping your classroom with all the bells and whistles because the initial cost, but I am asking you to at least explore the possibilities technology can possess while in your classroom for the betterment of your students.

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Google Science Fair

     Google is at it again! They have began the 2011 Google Science fair. This is not ordinary run of the mill science fair with paper mache volcanoes or lemons that make a light bulb work. This one is online for the whole world to see!
     So what is Google up to? They are taking education and making it global. For anyone who has internet access you can view the science fair. The basis of the science fair is creating a project and posting it on YouTube, so it can be judged. The grand prize winner will receive a $50,000 scholarship, a trip to the Galapagos Islands from National Geographic, a Lego prize pack and so much more. Runners up will receive a $10,000 scholarship, Lego prize pack, an Android phone and a new Google Chrome Notebook.
    For all students interested in this, it is a great opportunity to get some of their work out to the public. This also is a great way for students to receive college exposure. Not to mention possible future employers that will be looking at these videos as well.
    If you are and educator and know a student who loves science please, let them know about it. This would be great for the student but also even better for the school they represent.

Here is the link. http://www.google.com/events/sciencefair/
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