Monday, April 9, 2012

Your Chance to Shine! Join a college-level Odyssey of the Mind team!

You've heard me talk about the creative problem-solving competition Odyssey of the Mind. Typically, OM teams are made up of seven kids grades 3-5 or 6-8 or 9-12. In recent years, however, OM has developed what they call Division IV teams - made up of college students of any age - participants must take at least one college-level class that year.

Last year, a Colorado OM alum came to OU. She and her dad (who is still living in Colorado) decided to form a Div IV team. They discussed most of their solution via email and text and then, at World Finals, completed the actual building of the solution, rehearsing and preparing for their competition day right there at University of Maryland.

These two adults are again wanting to compete at World Finals and are looking for additional team members. This year, finals is at Iowa State University May 23 - 26. Div. IV team members who agree to perform volunteer hours during Finals receive a $200 discount on their registration, which is about $520 without the discount. If you are interested in this opportunity to be on a Division IV OM team and compete in Iowa, you should contact They would be interested in hearing from you at the earliest opportunity because they must register their team this week.

Next year, my son and his friends plan to have a Division IV team from OSU. School ends the first week in May, which gives a team 3 weeks to prepare a solution before leaving for World Finals. Easy-peasy. Keep that in mind if you can't do it this year. Remember you can view a video of my son's solution from last year's World Finals at (linked on the About Me page of this blog.)

Let me know if you have questions I can answer.

Making Videos - A "how-to" by Richard Byrne

Making Videos on the Web

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Reflecting: How to Write a Quality Response

(image of Cloud Gate in Chicago, commonly known as "The Bean" is from

When an assignment does not have a rubric, what is it that earns a response a perfect score? Conversely, why are points subtracted on a response? Here are some of the criteria I apply when scoring your reflection pieces like the “Personal Experiences with Technology” we just completed.

1. Did you carefully read the assignment? Most of the assignments have several parts, and each part might have several questions. Imbedded in your work I should find responses to all parts of the question.

2. Length: Your response should be long enough to adequately answer all parts of the question. Usually, that means one or more sentences per question. In addition, written work often includes introductions, conclusions, topic sentences, and transition sentences, and reflections of this type often also include short stories (called “anecdotes”) which help illustrate your thoughts.

3. Paragraphs: Sentences should be grouped together according to their topic. Sometimes a paragraph can contain lists; these paragraphs still have a topic sentence and the list is then either numbered, lettered, separated by commas, or even bulleted.

4. Correct spelling: If it helps you to type your response into Word and do a spell-check before pasting into the discussion board, please feel free to do so. If you prefer to work in Word and attach a document to the discussion board, that is also fine (although it’s a little harder for your reader.) I did finally find a spell-check button on the discussion board post window: it’s just above the typing screen on the lower left of the editing tools.
You can see the spell-check button circled above, and below is a shot of the spell-checker at work.

5. Correct Mechanics: Names and titles of things are almost always capitalized. Thus, we work in Microsoft Word or Powerpoint or Excel. We do, however, use our iPads, an example of a non-standard capitalization. (If in doubt, check it online. Googling the question “is ‘microsoft word’ capitalized?” does not generate any first-page results about the capitalization of the title, however, the first few results are from the Microsoft Corporation and the annotations all show them referring to “Microsoft Word” in capitals. One can infer that if the company who makes the product uses capital letters, we should too.)

6. Interesting content: Finally, the best responses are written by those that do all of the above well, and who make the extra effort to personalize or add interest. Perhaps the author has chosen a quotation to illustrate a thought; maybe a theme has been utilized or a title adds to our interest. Take a look at my reactions to your “personal experiences” essays on D2L. Notice that I changed the title of my responses? I was hoping to pique your interest, and to make my comments more memorable and easier to find if we want to look back at them.

A good teacher models for her students, so at this point, I should write my own response. However, life is calling. I’ll try to get to it later. Have a great weekend and write some great responses!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Come see my Voki! We learned about this site and others at Skyline Elementary this afternoon. Kids could create a Voki (an animated avitar that you can make talk) and imbed it in a multimedia poster, or link to it in a powerpoint, among other ideas.

I am going to try to imbed it below - this is something new for me! Here goes.

Would you look at that? First try and it works! See, guys, it's not that hard!
Now, could you envision using something like this with your kids?

I have lots more great things to share but one of them is a secret until after Monday's class. I will post more later.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Script-writing and Pre-production of Educational Video Producing an Educational Video - great tips about planning Producing your own video program - great technical tips

Here are three videos produced by high school students - one in response to the First Lady's contest about healthy living (the zombies video) and two in response to an English class assignment.

Fahrenheit 451

Transendentalism PSA.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Video in Education - How, When, Why, and from Where?

The next two weeks we'll be looking at videos for use in your classrooms. Video is a great way to illustrate, supplement, and enrich and there are thousands of great videos out there.

We will be exploring the purposes of educational video, the evaluation of video prior to use, selection of videos from multiple sources, and eventually, making our own video.

Let's begin by reading the article from this week's content resources called Using Online Educational Videos:

Borrowing from Dr. Stansberry's blog (
Purposes of Educational Videos:
• Instructional – The purpose of an instructional piece is to teach something. This goes beyond simply presenting facts. Examples include: tutorials, teaching tools, and interactive games with assessment.
• Informational – The purpose of an informational piece is to inform the audience but not persuade opinions. Informational pieces could briefly cover multiple topics or focus on one or two. Examples include: News Programs, Biographies, Community Calendars, and Personal Websites.
• Documentary – The purpose of a documentary is to document an actual event or topic beyond the scope of a typical news story. It should reflect serious research and present facts objectively without fictional matter.
• Persuasive – The purpose of a persuasive piece is to present an idea, product, concept, organization or individual in a credible way, so as to change public opinion and/or encourage audience approval, support or participation. Examples include: Advertising, Public Service Announcements, and Movie Trailers.
• Story – The purpose of a story piece is to tell a story, whether serious or lighthearted, fictional or non-fictional. Examples include: Comedies, Dramas, and Student/Family Experiences.
• Entertainment – The purpose of a piece in this category is to entertain and/or amuse the audience in a format other than telling a story. Examples include: Music Videos, Variety Shows, Interactive Games, and Game Shows.

Great free places to find video:

Great sites your district may provide:
Take a look at these sites. Keep the following guiding questions in mind as you browse the video offerings:
1. What should I consider when choosing a video?
2. On what criteria should video be judged?
3. When would I be likely to use a specific video?
4. How can I save videos I want to use? How will I find them later?
5. In what instances might I want to make videos of my own?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Instead of meeting in class tomorrow, I would like you to read (and learn from) the following:

Chapter 7 pages 187-196 (Gaming);

5 blog entries about gaming from the blog When Tech Met Ed at;

blog post "Gaming and learning - are they connected?" at

Please remember that learning involves exploring. When you read a blog post, you may find that there are many links to other articles, sites, lessons, and videos. Take a look at some of these. Does gaming have use in our educational settings?

Please also try out/preview/look at/read reviews of at least 3 of the games listed in the following places:

  • Chapter 7, especially page 195

  • or linked from one of the blogs you read

Post your thoughts about gaming and the games you tried on our blog and be ready to discuss and continue exploring this topic on Wednesday!

What did you learn about gaming in an educational setting? Did you find anything you want to share with others?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Evaluating Educational Software

Today we are looking at different types of open-source software. Lots of articles have been written describing the use of open-source software applications in schools. See some of these at:

What are the applications you found that look like they might be valuable? Why do you think so?