Tag Archives: Google Docs

Putting the Camp in EdCamp

EdCamp Philly was a great day of learning, networking, and sharing with other educators/technologists/administrators/proponents for change. I was happy to represent The School at Columbia University along with @nykat4 (Katy Gartside, 5th Grade teacher) and @scampnyc (Nancy Wong, Math Liaison). As Edcamp Philly was an unconference, a little light peer pressure had Nancy and Katy signing up to co-present, Collaborating with Google Apps with me. I also provided the title for Katy’s successful presentation, WWKD? What would Katy do in her 5th grade classroom. @DoremiGirl (Yoon Lim) was nearby as I was encouraging” Nancy and Katy, and when I reinforced that leading a session was really like facilitating a conversation, Yoon posted her session, Music, Kids, Tech, which received much acclaim over Twitter throughout the day.

Further, thanks to the encouragement of Edcamp Philly organizers @mbteach and @kristenswanson, I joined up with people I met at the registration area to co-present two additional sessions: One was iPads in Education with @aleaness and @dancinjul and the other was Google Apps and Gadgets with @fronk2000 and @rchuhran.

I have yet to comb the #edcamp Twitter archive, but here are some of the bits and pieces I gathered (and the EdCamper who shared it):

  • iPad apps shouted out during the discussion (which was graced by surprise guest, @chrislehmann!):

Text Free, Discovery, Alice in Wonderland, Baby Scratch, Access my Library, Penultimate, Smart Note, Elements, NPRBrushes, Harmonious, Evernote, Instapaper, Read it Later, Proloquo2Go, Quick Connect, DragonDictation, Good Reader, Cloud Browse, iThought HD, Plants vs. Zombies

  • Edmodo Follow @zemote on Twitter as he is one of the founders and can answer and questions!
  •  Yolink and SweetSearch are free and awesome and allow for more appropriate and efficient online research.

After such an awesome day, Nancy and Katy and I are psyched to plan an EdCamp NYC sometime this fall!

Follow us at Twitter: www.twitter.com/edcampnyc

Fan us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/EdCamp-NYC/

Sign up on our Google Form created by @BrklynSurfer

Add to the Google Doc created by @nykat4

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from my Flickr stream

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Getting to know Eno

We installed an ēno Classic Interactive Whiteboard in one of our science labs (manufactured by Polyvision, a Steelcase company). We had to remove an existing SmartBoard, install some brackets, and attach our new Eno to the wall. They sell an ēno Click Interactive Whiteboard that sticks like a magnet to any existing white board, but we couldn’t take advantage of that model.

The Eno Classic is a wireless board that is a layer of porcelain over a layer of steel. The porcelain is silkcreened with some crazy intricate dot-pattern. (There are 3 patterns to choose from, so you can install them next to each other and have a ginormous interactive drawing board.) Using the Eno Classic, one has to be totally dependent on a Bluetooth Stylus pen with a camera at the tip – I think I remember that the camera is sensitive to one megapixel. The whole board/pen experience totally reminds me of Picture Pages with Bill Cosby.

It would have only taken two people to install the Eno, though as the third person, I marked the holes for the drill, hammered the wall anchors, leveled the board (with my iPhone), and took pictures…

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This particular room is shared by two science teachers. Greg Benedis-Grab, (@gbenedisgrab on Twitter), gave me some feedback after using the Eno board for a full week with his 5th graders. In his words:

  • It has a similar enough feel to a SmartBoard, so it was no big leap to use an Eno Board
  • The Eno board is wireless, so worrying about power or syncing is a non-issue.
  • The pen is super precise and fast.
  • The ink size/color is easy to customize.
  • We’re going to need to invest in more pens, as it’s a matter of time until someone takes one with them.
  • The board is magnetized (it’s a layer of porcelain over steel), so even when not in use, it’s a functional part of the room.
  • Greg stores his notes/lessons on Google Apps (specifically Docs, Presentations, and Spreadsheets), so he never had to face the issue of trying to write in a SmartNotebook file (side note: Lots of teachers here have extensive Smart Notebook libraries of their lessons. I don’t think this is possible to use the pen to edit these files. The best you can do is take a screen snapshot of anythink written on the Eno with the stylus and upload it to a Notebook file. Maybe.)
  • He places the moveable magnetic toolbar lower down for his shorter 5th graders and raises it for his own use and for the larger 7th graders.

I installed RM Easiteach on the desktop in the Science Room and on Greg’s MacBook so he can explore the software on his own time. So far, he really likes the “glass” feature which is like having an ink layer that you can choose to merge or not. Based on the brief demo I saw last year, RM Easiteach has loads of features, subject-specific menus, and customizable toolbars for Math, Science, Grammar, Art, etc. I’m still tip-toeing through the software, and I’m grateful that we have some tech savvy and curious people on staff willing to be beta testers. We are offering teachers the option of having an Eno installed in their classrooms for next year. One week in, and we already have another two takers.

Here’s a shot of my after school robotics kids using the Eno minutes after it was installed:

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Finally, here’s a link for the Eno Classic FAQs page.

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Yolink and Sweet Search and Research, oh my!

I’ll be offering a presentation at ISTE in Denver in June on Collaborating with Google Apps in the 21st Century Classroom. I learned that “21st Century” trick from my boss – he’s had multiple proposals accepted to speak at a variety of conferences. Also, he deems the use of “Web 2.0” as quaint.

While at ISTE, I’ll also be spending some time at the Yolink booth talking about the product and sharing my experiences using it as a search tool in the classroom.

Yolink

These are a few of my favorite things about Yolink:

  1. It mines any Google search-results page or any text-based site for specific key words or phrases. As the Yolink evangelists put it, “It’s like Google with X-ray glasses!”
  2. It color codes your search words so you can see which webpage includes which keywords and visually scan your search results before even opening a page.
  3. It integrates seemlessly with Google Docs, so that a whole page or only specific paragraphs can be imported into a new Doc or an existing Doc. This is great for note-taking (and plagiarists), and it led to interesting discussions with some of my 6th graders yesterday.
  4. Results can be fed to EasyBib to create instant citations of websites found.
  5. Yolink results can also be fed to Twitter, Facebook, Delicious, Diigo, Blogger, WordPress, Evernote, and Email to archive and share your results.

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I also recently learned about Sweet Search. As their website states, it is a search engine for students and “searches only 35,000 Web sites that have been approved by our staff. SweetSearch allows students to choose the most relevant result from a list of credible results, without the distraction of unreliable sites.” How great is that?

Sweetsearch

I shared both of these site with the faculty and with my 8th graders today. The kids are all currently working independently on Social Action Projects; The goal is for students to pick a topic that interests them, research it, and follow through with some sort of corresponding action (community service, raising awareness, raising money). I’m currently sitting next to a terrific girl who chose Deforestation and plans to create a pop-up book to teach younger kids how to understand the effects of deforestation on our environment.

The 8th graders were really positive about both tools, as they were able to search more pointedly with Sweet Search while Yolink enabled them to scan through the results without even opening the pages. Win-Win.

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