Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Goodies

Some of you have asked me for the Carmel Popcorn and Popcorn Cake recipes that I made for Christmas.  So, here you go...

Carmel Popcorn

5-7 quarts of popcorn (put it in a roasting pan)

2 cups brown sugar
1 cup butter (I use the real stuff)
1/2 cup brown syrup (Karo Syrup)
1 tsp salt

Melt the butter.  Add brown sugar and mix well with the butter.  Add syrup and salt.  Bring to a boil stirring intermittently.  Boil 5 minutes & continue stirring so it doesn't burn.  Take off the heat and stir in 1 tsp baking soda.  Pour mix over the popcorn and stir it so the sauce gets distributed on the popcorn.

Bake at 250 degrees uncovered for about an hour - stir every 15 minutes (you'll end up stirring it 3 times).  After the last 15 minutes, stir making sure to scrap the sides and bottom.  let it stand for 5-10 minutes & then put into your containers.

Popcorn Cake

12 cups popped corn (put in a big bowl)
1 1/2 cups M&Ms
2 cups salted peanuts

40 caramels
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup butter (the real stuff)
5 cups mini marshmallows (or 50 regular marshmallows)

In a pan over low heat, melt the caramels into the butter & oil.  Add and melt the marshmallows.  Be sure to stir constantly so the mix doesn't burn.

Pour the above mix over your popcorn & stir.  Add in the M&Ms and peanuts.  Stir into the popcorn mix.  Press your popcorn cake into a buttered angel food cake pan or a rectangular cake pan.  If you use the angel food cake pan, let it sit for about 10 minutes and then remove your cake from the pan.


Interesting Year in Review

What things did you search for over the year?

Monday, December 12, 2011

What the heck is a tech integration specialist?

When I was first asked about becoming a Tech Integration Specialist for the school district, I thought that could be an interesting challenge and adventure.  However, when I thought about what I would be doing during the course of the day, I had no clue.  So, like any librarian, I started doing some research.   According to Edutopia, technology integration is the use of technology resources -- computers, digital cameras, CD-ROMs, software applications, the Internet, etc. -- in daily classroom practices, and in the management of a school...Technology integration is achieved when technology tools support the curricular goals, and help the students to effectively reach their goals.  (I'll talk more about technology integration in another post.)  Based on this description of technology integration, a technology integration specialist is someone who assists with technology integration.  Of course to me, that definition meant as much to me as the definition of density (the quality of being dense).  After some additional research, I found a better answer.  Basically, the tech integration specialist assists teachers, staff and students with technology for class projects and school management.  During the course of day, you might see a tech integration specialist assisting an administrator with the school Facebook page, teaching a class how to set up blog, providing one-on-one technology training with a teacher, showing a new tech tool to a teacher and presenting ideas on how they could use it in their class, researching more tools for generating vocabulary games, and more.  I know as I continue to work as a Tech Integration Specialist, my understanding of the roles and responsibilities of this position will grow.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Getting Started With SlideRocket

This video provides a great tutorial for getting started with SlideRocket.  Hit play and get started!

Demo: Getting Started with SlideRocket from SlideRocket on Vimeo.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Blast Your Presentations With SlideRocket!

Your Google account has a new feature - SlideRocket.  SlideRocket is a presentation maker similar to PowerPoint and Keynote, but with a few extra perks. 

SlideRocket at a Glance

SlideRocket Player for iPad

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Bookmarking Woes

As I've been meeting and working with various teachers, one common theme I hear is "I found this great site I wanted to use in class, but I can't remember where I found it."  When I was teaching high school English, I encountered a similar problem.  I would bookmark the site in Firefox, but when I got to school I couldn't remember which one it was on the long list of bookmarked sites I had accumulated.  Sometimes, I couldn't find the link because I had bookmarked it on my home computer and those weren't accessible once I got to school.  Then when the computer crashed, I lost them all!

So what can we do to avoid these bookmarking woes?  Well, there are several options, but I won't bombard you with them all.  Here are the 3 I've been using this year:

Google Bookmarking - Google bookmarking is a feature that comes with our school email.  You can either use the above link and then enter your school email username and password OR go to your school email, click on the MORE button - then EVEN MORE and click on Bookmarks.  You can create labels, which are similar to tags, for your bookmarks and export your bookmarks.  However, you cannot import bookmarks or organize them except through the labels.  You are probably wondering why this is on my favorite list.  Well, when I first started using this bookmarking tool over the summer, they had the option of creating lists for your bookmarks.  You were able to share the lists with other individuals.  Sadly, they recently eliminated this feature and I'm not as keen on Google Bookmarking as I was when I started this post.

Linkable - I was introduced to this site at my Tech Integration meeting at Essdack this fall.  This has become my all time favorite because of the clean organized look.  Linkable allows you to create pages and categories for organizing your bookmarks.  You can share bookmark categories with your friends, other teachers or students.  Here is an example of a shared category:

Some other features include importing/exporting bookmarks, adding a button to your browser to easily add links to new web pages and explore the bookmarks of other users.  I use this bookmarking site on a daily basis.

Diggo - I have just started using this tool myself, but I'm liking it way better than Delicious.  Here are a couple of videos introducing Diggo and showing how to use them with your students.

Who knows where my exploring will lead me with this new bookmarking tool.  Perhaps it will become my new favorite tool!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Spying Eyes

When you use Safari, do you feel like someone is watching you!?  Those eyeglasses glaring at you, watching your every move.  You wonder if the the tech department is monitoring you computer and everything you are doing.  Luckily, that is not what this innocent icon is doing.

In Safari, you have a Reading List (the eyeglass icon).  The Reading List "helps you collect webpages and links for you to read later."  As you're browsing the web, you might find an article or blog that you like to read, but just don't have time for at the moment.  When you find a website like this, you can go up to bookmarks and select 'Add to Reading List.'  It will be added to your reading list, so you can indulge in that article when you have a little more time.  To look at the sites you've added to your Reading List, click on the eyeglass icon and a sidebar will open on the left side of your screen.  You can see all the webpages you've added to your list or only the ones that are unread.  You can also add a page through this view by going to the page you want to add and clicking on 'Add Page.'

So the next time you see those "spying eyes," just remember they are your friendly bookmark tool helping you find all those great pages you wanted to read and didn't have time for before now.

Tech in the Building

 Many times teachers want to use technology in their classroom, but they are either limited by their own skills or glitches with the technology.  (Yes, glitches happen to every one, even the techs.)  However, it can be difficult to arrange a time to go meet with a tech for planning, training or other technology needs.

 In an effort to assist teachers and staff with technology integration and issues, Tech in the Building was created.  Tech in Building is a day that I will spend in your building to help you with technology questions and tech lesson ideas.  This month I have been in every building except the high school.  I have assisted teachers and staff with internet connection issues, learning how to use the Hue webcam, one-to-one training on specific computer features and programs, assisting a class with a tech project and more.  The present goal for this program is to visit each school once a month and increase the number of contacts at each building.  My hope is to be working with teachers, staff & students during my time at each building with little time for anything else.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Picnik with no ants!

Ever wanted to spruce up your pictures with text or a little bling?  Ever had the need for blurring out a student's face so you can post a group photo on the web?  Then Picnik is for you?

Picnik is a free online photo editing tool.  You can do basic editing like cropping, rotating, adjusting exposure, etc. similar to iPhoto, but Picnik let's you go a step further.  You can add frames, stickers, text and more.  There are some features marked as premium - those you have to pay extra to utilize.

Here are a few samples:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tech Integration Group

Once a month I attend a tech integration group at Essdack. This time provides an opportunity for me to network and learn from other professionals in the field of technology integration.

I thought I'd take this opportunity to share some of the exciting tools and resources I learned about in the September and October meetings.

I found one of my new favorite bookmarking sites in the September. The site is called Linkable ( 

  • Free
  • Use categories to organize your bookmarks
  • Import bookmarks from your browser
  • Access your bookmarks on any computer
  • Create new pages for better organization
  • Make pages public or private
  • Share categories with others through email or embedding code
  • Save to Linkable button for your browser (click this instead of bookmark page & you can send the link to your inbox or assign it to a category right away)

Another great resource was the book Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction:  Build Implements of Spitball Warfare by John Austin.  This could be a good tool for science.
Available on Amazon for $10.98

Finally, if you've ever wanted to learn a little about coding or JavaScript check out Codecademy (  This free site provides on few courses on both topics.  You can track your progress, keep tabs on a friend's progress and have fun learning.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Plan B

Everyone has heard the saying, "Technology is great when it works," but in education that saying should also trigger the thought, "Be ready with plan b."  As I worked with my first classes this year, I saw an example of plan b and no plan b. Luckily for the no plan b instructor, they were able to muddle through and troubleshoot the technology enough to get it to work. Sadly, it wasted class time that was desperately needed for the lesson. I can talk about this example without guilt because I was the instructor. I failed to make sure the website students were going to work on was not blocked. It was a simple matter of logging in on a student computer and going to the website. With this quick check I would have known that I needed the site unblocked, but I forgot. However, we have an excellent music teacher in our district that did everything she could to plan ahead for her lesson and still ran into some tech trouble. Fortunately, she was ready to modify the lesson and still teach the students some of the skills they needed for recording in Word and emailing their document as an attachment.

Although we can always hit snags as we work with technology in the classroom, here are some things that can make the experience more enjoyable.

Check all websites on a student computer:
Either log on to the student computer as yourself and see if the website is blocked OR have a student sign on to a student computer and see if they can access the website you want to use with your class.  If the site is blocked, follow the school's procedure for getting it unblocked.  In our district, teachers need to put in a ticket to have the site unblocked.  Just remember that the tech department has to get approval from your building administrator, so make sure you leave time for the all individuals to complete their tasks.

Check the tech skills your students need to complete the assignment:
Sometimes as educators, we make the mistake of assuming students know how to use all the programs on the computer because they can use their cell phone or play video games, but the reality is student's only know how to work the devices and programs that are important to them.  If your students have never created a movie, then show them the basic steps so they can get started.  Most students can get going with a brief introduction to a program.  As they advance in the program, they will ask more specific questions based on their needs.

Check your own tech skills:
Not knowing how a program works doesn't mean you shouldn't use it for an assignment, but it does mean you should get some extra help.  Check with your tech department and see if someone can come introduce the program to the students for you.  Then let go of the controls and take part in the learning process with your students.  Learn from the expert and from the students.  Ask questions, play with the program and model the skill of being a lifelong learner.

Have a back-up plan:
Despite all the effort one can put in to planning a lesson or assignment around technology, things can go wrong.  The power could go out.  The program could crash or lock-up.  There could be hidden links within the website you had unblocked that are now being blocked.

Technology can be a great tool in education if you are willing to practice the mottos of education...
Be a lifelong learner,
Learn from your failures and
Always have a back-up plan.