Monday, April 30, 2012

PicMonkey: The New Picnik?

Challenge #3 of the 12 for 2012 Wiki asks participants to work with Picnik, a free online photo editing tool.  Sadly, April 19, 2012 saw the closing of the ever popular Picnik site.  However, to my great delight, I found out about a new alternative - PicMonkey.  After editing a few pics, I think this editing tool has more free features to offer than Picknik.  You can do the basics - crop, rotate, sharpen, reshape and tweak the exposure & color.  Then the fun begins!

Original Photo
Edited in PicMonkey
 You can mess around with various special effects like soft focus, boost, cinerama, film grain, focal zoom and more.  On photos with people, you can remove blemishes, white teeth, remove red-eye and lose weight.  You can add text to your picture choosing from over 30 fonts.  Finish your picture off with stickers, a picture frame and textures. 

This editing tool is user friendly and intuitive.  It does not change the original on your computer, so if you don't like what you've created, then just start over.  When you are finished, name your photo and save it to your computer.

Image Source:  "Gold Fish out of water" by Flickr user kainr under a CC License,

Friday, April 27, 2012

Cleaning 101

People often ask what they can use to clean off their computer screens, iPods, iPads and cell phones.  Sometimes they ask if it's ok to use...water, window cleaner, Clorox wipes, eyeglass cleaner, scotch tape, etc.  The usual aim of the cleaner is to get rid of those pesky fingerprints and light dirt film that accumulates on the screen.

This discussion about the best cleaning product was actually brought up during one of my tech integration meetings at Essdack this year.  The best solution was the microfiber cloth sold by Walmart© in the automotive department.  Seeing as the cloths were bigger than than one would need for a computer screen, it was recommended to cut them up in fourths; however, the edges have a tendency to fray leaving lint residue on the computers.  This issue was resolved thanks to Ann Smith, who used the Surger© to sew the cut edges.  I have started distributing these microfiber cloths to the teachers, secretaries and administrators in the various buildings.  (If you have not received one yet, please send me an email.)

You should not need to add any product or water to these cloths; however, if you have something sticky on your screen, you can get a corner of the cloth damp, get the sticky off and then wipe the screen with a dry area on the cloth.  These cloths can be washed, but make sure you DO NOT use fabric softener.

The other essential cleaning tool for your computer is the Magic Eraser© by Mr. Clean.  This handy product gets rid of those black fingerprints on your external or laptop keyboard.  They are easy to use - pull out an eraser, get it wet and then wring all the access water out until it feels pretty dry.  Now start scrubbing those keys and watch the dirt come off.  I usually keep a dry cloth handy to wipe up any water that comes out of the eraser as you are scrubbing.  (There isn't much water and if there is, then you didn't wring out your eraser enough before starting.)  Depending on how hard you scrub, you will get some eraser residue left behind.  I either blow it off the keys, wipe it off with another cloth or use some canned air when I'm finished cleaning the keyboard.

Disclaimer:  make sure you either turn the computer off or unplug your keyboard before you start cleaning.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Website Wednesdays

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Evernote Everywhere

I'm just going to start out by saying this is one of the best tools I've ever used!

When I browse the web and find articles for research or that I want to read later, I use to just bookmark them.  However, I finally got back to sorting through the bookmarks, I couldn't always remember why I wanted that site or it would be gone from the internet.  I would also encounter the problem of not remembering which computer I had bookmarked the site on (this was before I started using an online bookmarking site).  Needless to say, my frustration level was high.  Then I found Evernote.  I didn't really know the full potential behind this tool until I started working with it more this past year.

So, what can you do with Evernote? 

The access you receive alone with this tool is amazing, but it gets even better because you can share any of your files and notebooks with other people.  I recently did some research for a colleague on the Flipped Classroom.  I created a notebook in Evernote and as I came across articles and resources on the web, I clipped them with the Evernote Clipper and saved them to my notebook.  Once I had a good collection, I shared the notebook with my colleague.  Even though I had shared the notebook, I was still able to add more resources to the notebook which my colleague could see instantaneously.  This would be a great tool for students collaborating on a research project.  They could share a notebook and both work on finding research information without duplicating each other.

Checkout this tutorial to get started with Evernote!

Friday, April 20, 2012

"I Didn't Want All That Stuff!"

Ever find a website with an article you want to print, but when you pick your copy up off the printer you get all the "extra stuff" on the sides or pages full of ads?

Here are a couple of online tools to help you get rid of the "extra stuff" and get just the facts.

Print Friendly - Once you go to their site, you simply copy and paste the URL of the page you want to print and click print preview.  One the preview page you can remove text and images you don't wish to print.

Joliprint - Like Print Friendly, you copy and paste the URL of the page you want to print on the Joliprint website and click 'joliprint it!'  Unlike Print Friendly, you do not get a preview of what will print or the option to remove additional unwanted text and images.  However, there is a wider range of options for accessing and sharing your document.

Both tools allow you to add a Bookmarklet/Add-on to your internet browser toolbar.  By adding these to your browser toolbar, you can skip the process of going to the Print Friendly or Joliprint website.  You can simply go to the page you want to print, click on the bookmarklet and it will create a clean copy of your page for printing and sharing.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Website Wednesdays

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Pin It

Pinterest allows you to visually "bookmark" all those great articles, ideas and thoughts you find out on the Internet.  Users create pinboards that help them organize their collection for ease of searching and sharing.  You do have to receive an invitation to join Pinterest.

Once you start using Pinterest, you can create you own boards, follow other people's boards and even collaborate on a board with other Pinterest users.  Educators have started using this new to collect bulletin board ideas, classroom decor and organization, lesson plans, virtual field trips and more.

There have been some copyright issues recently connected with Pinterest, so make sure you read this blog post - Do You Have Permission to Pin? - before you start pinning and sharing.

Here are some additional resources to get you started and give ideas on how educators are and should be using Pinterest:
Pinterest 4 Education
37 Ways Teachers Should Use Pinterest
30 Inspiring Pinterest Pins for Teachers

Here are some Pinterest boards that you might want to check out:
Common Core Standards Board
First Grade Common Core Math
Technology - How it Relates to Education
Teaching Ideas and Apps
iPad Apps for Administrators

*I have been told that Pinterest is a "girly" site.  There is a more masculine site that works similar to Pinterest called ScoopIt!  You do not need to be invited to join this site.

Friday, April 13, 2012

It's good to be blue!

StudyBlue is a Web 2.0 Tool that allows you to make online flashcards for studying vocabulary, states & capitals, historical dates and any other facts you need to learn for school or work.

As a teacher, you can make flashcards for your students that they can access in the classroom or study on the go with their mobile devices.  StudyBlue apps are available through the iTunes App Store, Andriod Market and the Amazon App Store.  Check out this slideshow to get started using StudyBlue with your students:

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Website Wednesdays

  • Free online World History Atlas.  It contains maps, timelines and narratives that work together to give students a better understanding of history.
  • Recommended Facebook privacy settings for teens. Contains charts you could share out.
  • This site provides free video resources for class or individual use in math, science, history, government, economics, psychology and religion. Narrow your topic and look at the video, video text, lesson plan and additional links. Great for high school students.
  • Site provides information about teaching reading comprehension to students of all ages. Provides specific reading comprehension lessons for grades K-6. It also includes details on Lexile scores, teaching strategies and more.
Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Keeping it Current

I had an email a few weeks back with some great current event websites.  Most of these sites provide a teacher resource section with ideas for use in the classroom and educational resources.
  • Pages for Tweens, Teens and Espanol
  • Stories are selected by tweens/teens in conjunction with professional journalists
  • Site is easy to navigate and updated daily
Find out how other Teachers have used this site:
  • Provides current events for teens to use for school or personal use
  • Combines journalism and video to relate information on subjects of interest
  • Some videos available in Closed Caption
  • Each video has lesson plans, discussion questions, student activities, vocabulary and primary references

Find Educator Resources:
  •  Ten-minute, commercial-free, daily news program
  • Appropriate for middle and high school students
  • Teacher resources include transcripts for each show, discussion questions, media literacy questions, downloadable maps and more
  • Covers breaking news and in-depth issues affecting the world and nation
  • News coverage is geared towards teens
  • Teacher resources include transcripts, weekly news quizzes, lesson plans and more
  • Provides Education Correlations showing you how the issues and topics align with your state standards

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Website Wednesdays

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.