Friday, March 14, 2014


With a similar look to a Jeopardy board, teachers and students can use FlipQuiz to create reviews over class content.  Simply create a free account and click the green 'Create a New Board' button to get started.  Create a title for your board and up to six category headings with five questions for each category.  When you launch your board into presentation mode, it will adjust according to the number of categories you actually used.  For instance in this sample board, I only created three categories.
From your dashboard, you can opt to edit, launch or delete any of your boards.  You also have the option to create a new board.

Since the template is already created for you, the most time consuming element of using this tool is coming up with your questions and determining the point values they should be worth.  After all, you don't want a really easy question to earn you 500 points.  Once created, you could use these games as a whole class competition, team competition or review practice for individual students.  You can also share your boards on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.  FlipQuiz is great for use on interactive whiteboards and while they don't have an app yet, you can go to the website on your iPad and work on or launch your board.  According to the site, FlipQuiz works in all versions of Firefox and Chrome, but has some quirky issues with Internet Explorer 9.  I also tested it on Safari and that seems to work just fine too.

On the downside, I have not found any embed option for your boards.  So you have to stick with a web link when posting your boards on your website or blog.  The other drawback I found when working with FlipQuiz is getting out of the presentation mode.  You have to use the back arrow on your browser because there is no button to take you back your dashboard.  I suppose the creators are trying to keep a clean look when the board is actually launched, but it might take you a couple times of use to remember how to get back to your other boards.  Finally, FlipQuiz is listed as a beta version and I did notice a price link that is crossed out at present.  I don't know if or when this tool will require you to pay for services, but that is a possibility for the future.  However, until that time, take advantage of this great new tool!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Blogging Platforms - Which one do I choose?

If you search Google for blogging platforms or blogging software, you'll get results back like "The Ultimate List of Blogging Platforms," "Blog Software Review 2014," and "The 15 Best Blogging Platforms on the Web Today." While most blog software is similar, your choice should be based on your needs and how you plan to use your blog. Below are the top four common blogging tools I've seen utilized by educators.

Blogger: If you are in a Google Apps for Ed school, I would recommend sticking with Blogger. It is already connected to your Google email, calendar and documents, so you don't need to create a new account. The preference settings, layout and widgets can seem overwhelming when you first start. I usually look at other educators using blogger to look at their layout and widgets. If I see something I like, I add that to my blog. I have even emailed bloggers and asked what a particular widget was if I couldn't tell by looking at it. Blogger does have a nice getting started help page that includes pictures. Atomic Learning also has a collection of video tutorials to help you through the getting started process. Blogger is good for your personal, classroom and reflection blogs. If you are a Google Apps for Ed school, this is a good blog platform to use with your high school students. It gives students their own independent blog to manage, a skill they will need for college and career readiness.  UPDATE:  I recently discovered that you can invite others to be an author on your blog.  So, if you wanted to start a blog for your class with students as contributors, you could invite them to be authors.  They have limited access to the settings and preferences for the blog, but are able to contribute blog posts without having their own blog.

WordPress: This is usually #1 on all the blog lists. Personally, I have not used this platform yet as I have
Google accounts and use Blogger. (Really, I didn't want to remember another username and password.) However, for the sake of this post, I did create a personal blog on WordPress. Adjusting preference settings, layout and widgets is similar to using Blogger. Atomic Learning has video tutorials to help you get started with WordPress. Like Blogger, WordPress is good for a personal, classroom or reflection blog. I would recommend this platform to students if they didn't already have a Google account.

C. Writing, Editing and Managing Posts

Edublog: I started using Edublog when I first explored blogging in 2007. It is commonly used among User Guide
educators. This platform works well for a class blog as it allows you to set differing roles for your students. Students can become collaborative contributors rather than having their own blog dedicated to their postings. Edublog is powered by WordPress, so if you are already using WordPress for a personal blog, this would be an easy transition for a class blog.

Kidblog: This platform has started taking off in education over the last year. It is a great platform not only getting started page provides a couple short introductory videos created by the Kidblog user community.
for your classroom blog, but also for elementary aged bloggers. As a teacher, you can set-up a classroom blog and then add your students to the users. You can have the students add themselves, but they must get the "secret code" from you so they get connected to your class. Each student gets their own blog page under your main classroom. The teacher controls when blog posts go live, who can read the posts and who can comment on the posts. Parents can also join the class with a special registration code, but this must be turned on in the setting controls. This

Remember, if you are wanting students to blog as a class or individually, then you'll want to choose a platform that provides the resources that will help you monitor their published products. We will look more at blogging with students in an upcoming post.

Please note that all four of these blogging platforms have apps available for managing and posting from your iOS device.

Website Wednesday

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

Friday, March 7, 2014

Website Wednesday

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

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Tech Nuggets - February 2014

What the heck is a Chromebook?

What the heck is a Chromebook?
Basically, it's a web-based laptop that runs Google's Chrome OS (Operating System).  Using a Chromebook is like doing all your work on the Chrome browser.  Everything has to be Internet based because you don't add any software to this device.  You can add apps and extensions, like you do on the web browser, but you don't download or install additional software on a Chromebook.

You must have a Google account to log onto a Chromebook.  You simply enter your Google email address and password, then your account is opened and you can get started.  You have a main icon in the bottom left corner that allows you to see all the apps associated with your account.
The icon that shows all your apps is open in this image.
You can drag the app icons onto the shelf (which is located on the bottom of the screen by default) to create shortcuts to your frequently used apps like Gmail, Evernote, Google +, etc.

Why a Chromebook?
Last year, my tech director and I started hearing about the Chromebook at the monthly Tech Integration Group and Nerds Group that we attend.  We even got to play around on some Chromebooks!  So, we decided to purchase three Chromebooks and pilot them in the Tech Department.  We wanted to check the functionality and durability of the various models.  We did do some pilot testing with a few elementary teachers and have decided to pilot more Chromebooks this year with our upper grades.  While the Chromebook doesn't do everything I need it to do on the job, I can perform at least 50% of my job related tasks on the Chromebook.  Personally, the Chromebook might be a nice switch for my home computer when the time comes, but there are a few things I can't do that might become an issue.

What can't I do on a Chromebook?
I can't sync my iDevices through iTunes as that software doesn't go on a Chromebook.  There is also no place to insert a disc, so uploading music or watching a DVD are not an option.  I'm also a huge fan of Comic Life and I haven't found a good alternative that I like yet.  I would also have a little trouble with not having Office products, not because I'm married to Word and Excel, but because of the professional organizations I work with on documents and spreadsheets.

Finally comments on the Chromebook?
I've been working with the Chromebook on and off for almost a year and have learned one key fact - you have to be willing to rethink how you work.  Here is a prime example:  One of the elementary teachers was having her students type a document in Google Drive, but she wanted the students to add a photo they found online.  She is accustom to dragging & dropping the image onto her desktop when she works on the Mac, but couldn't figure out how to do that on the Chromebook.  So we learned the keyboard shortcut for copying and pasting an image.  We also learned how to save an image into a file on the Chromebook.  For myself, I like to listen to music as I work.  I could easily connect to Pandora, but I like some of my own music that I have in iTunes on my Mac.  So, I learned how to use Google Play.  I was able to upload my iTunes music through the Mac and now I can play those songs when I'm
working on the Chromebook via Google Play.  I do not foresee our district switching totally to Chromebooks, but if the Mac computers are being used for basic computer work that could be completed with a Chromebook why buy the BMW when the Ford can get the job done.

Have you gotten to "test drive" a Chromebook yet?  What did you think of it?