Friday, October 29, 2010

Graphic Organizers

Graphic organizers are great instructional tools. There is an old adage that "a picture is worth a thousand words." Graphic organizers provide that picture. Write Design Online provides examples of many varieties of graphic organizers. the site is well worth viewing.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Your Own Blog in 10 Minutes or Less

"Your Own Blog in 10 Minutes or Less" is both a blog and a workshop. The workshop in one that I have presented in various forms for several years and is designed to take people who have no background at all with blogging and allow them to leave with the knowledge and the motivation to establish a web presence through a blog.

Watching what others have done with their blogs is interesting. It seems those who produce incredible results are those with moderate amount of technical knowledge but a huge amount of creativity.

Your Own Blog in Minutes or Less is also a blog, and it is a blog about blogging. Blogging includes some basic concepts that can be used repeatedly. The vision for this blog was for to be a set of post, each of which would demonstrate a concept. I would take a sets of actual posts I had used in other blogs at other times and bring them together in this one place. A little explanation wold then follow of what each post was demonstrating.

I recently updated that blog with a new look and new "gadgets" down the side. While I originally thought I would compose a series of posts and the project would be complete. My thinking now is that there will be more posts to come on that blog. As new material is added there, it will also be highlighted here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Need Help?

Are you tired of recorded messages? When you need help, would you like to speak to a real person? If so, I have a website for you:

Enter the name of the company and you will see a phone number along with instructions for how to get to a real person.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Extended Daylight Saving Time...One More Reminder

Thank goodness for all of our electronic devices which are smart enough to know when Daylight Saving Time kicks in. They simply adjust themselves. That's all great and wonderful...until Congress steps in and changes when that "kick in" is going to be.

That's exactly what happened in 2007. Electronic devices manufactured after that pose no problem. They change according to "Extended Daylight Saving Time," this year which occurs on November 7.

But what if you still have some electronics that are pre-2007? Don't be surprised if they "fall back" on a week too soon. If that happens to you, take a moment to read some suggestions as to what to do.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Public Wi-Fi...Are you Safe?

Free public Wi-Fi seems to everywhere. That's a good thing. We can work from the local coffee shop or the airport. The benefits, however, come with risks. How safe are you? How much sensitive information resides your laptop that others could access?

Lifehacker published this post which gives some very practical tips on keeping your data safe while you surf on public Wi-Fi.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Where is That Command?

For anyone who is familiar with Word 2003 and then moves to Word 2007, finding where items are located can be tricky. There is a great reference site that will allow you to choose any Word 2003 command and see where that same command is found in Word 2007.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Skipper (February 6, 1997-October 17, 2010)

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Author unknown... 

Skipper came to us unexpectedly. His owner had died. The family did not want him. Neighbors called the Humane Society about a dog tied up in a backyard in the dead of winter. Friends at the Alabama Sheltie Rescue thought of us and asked if we could foster him until a home could be found.

Skipper was a funny sight when we got him. His fur was so badly matted that once he had been rescued from the cold, there was no option but to shave him. But after only a couple of days, we decided he had found his forever home...with us.

Bonnie now had a playmate, and Skipper had a new lease on life. That was almost seven years ago.

But, as all of us know, our pets lead very temporary lives, and there comes the day when we have to say goodbye.For those of us who let our furry friends get close to our hearts, making that decision is not easy. Today, that was the decision that Davonia and I had to make. Just shy of 14 years old, Skipper made that journey to Rainbow Bridge.

Two years ago, a good friend sent me a letter written from the point of view of an aged pet. Now is a good time to review it. Goodbye, old friend. I just hope that we were able to enrich your life as much as you enriched ours.

Google Apps for Education

More and more, we are seeing school systems and universities adopt Google Apps for their e-mail and productivity package needs. Here is a video, a little under 11 minute long, which explains the concepts involved simply.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Attending National Middle School Association Convention?

If you are attending the National Middle School Association Convention in Baltimore, please join me for these two presentations, both happening on November 5:
Your Own Blog in 10 Minutes or Less (2:00)
Data That Matters: Using a Balanced Scorecard to Summarize and Organize Data (3:45)

Here is a brochure for the event.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Best School Websites

In today's world, often the first and possibly only impression may people have of a school is through how it portrays itself on its website. For some, a website is something to get "done," and then move on. For others, the website lives and breathes, and is as ever-changing as the world in which we live.

If you want see some really good ones, you are at the right place. In April, SchoolE announced its winners of the best school district websites in America. You can read the article or visit the websites of the winners.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Most Popular Posts

Blogger has added a "stats" tab. It has evidently been there since May, but I just noticed it a couple of weeks ago. One of the neat features is the ability to see which posts have the most hits. Here are the top three posts:
  1. Test Item Analysis Calculator (from June 10, 2010) What if students could sit down computers, take a test, and have the computer return to the teacher a spreadsheet containing the student names and their answers. Furthermore, each answer is graded correct or incorrect, an average calculated for the student, and item analysis performed on each question. That what this post is all about. If this is something that your school would like to pilot, email me and let's talk. This post has received 508 hits.
  2. Understanding Facebook Privacy Settings (from July 6, 2010) While we love to communicate through Facebook, we are understandably concerned about our personal information falling into the hands of strangers who have questionable motives. This post received 173 hits.
  3. 20+ Ways to use the Flip Video in the Classroom (from August 21, 2010) This post explores exactly what the title says. It has received 140 hits.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Documentation and "The Final Word"

Those who have attended Get Organized! workshops have heard me talk not only about the importance of documentation, but the ease with which this skill can be implemented...provided you have a good system. Those who receive my monthly newsletter heard a little more about that topic last month.

This month, a short podcast on documentation is being featured as "The Final Word" on The Audio Journal. The Audio Journal is a monthly "executive briefing" on CD that is mailed to over 3,000 busy educators who choose this method as a way to stay on top of trend and ideas in their field. The companion website distributes the same material through streaming audio. My thanks to Dr. James Cisek, who extended the invitation to be featured as "The Final Word" in the current edition. People who have been featured in this segment recently include Harry Wong, Tom Peters, Warren Bennis, and Lou Holtz, so I feel pretty honored.

But, this blog is not about me; it's about getting the word out to other people about easy tools and techniques which improve our ability to work and play. Thanks to Dr. Cisek for bringing part of that message to the 3,000+ subscribers to this professional development series.

You can not only listen to the podcast but take a test-drive of the entire site for 7 days absolutely free. Click here, and after responding to the agreement statement, choose the "I want a no-obligation 7-day free trial" option. Happy listening!

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Keyboard Shortcuts Using Google Instant

About 3 weeks ago, I composed this post on Google Instant. I am a huge fan of using keyboard shortcuts instead of the mouse. Google Instant has introduced a couple of news features which make the service easier to use.
As you type and Google produces a list of possible completions, you have the ability to use the down-arrow key to move to your choice. The results change with each highlighted choice. Once you get to the one you want, press .
Now, use the down-arrow key to select the choice from the search results. Press .
This video illustrates the concept:

Friday, October 01, 2010

Introducing Dropbox

Dropbox is a free site which allows you to store up to 1GB of information. If you sign up for a paid account, you receive even more storage. The advantages this service provides are two-fold:
  1. You can upload documents to Dropbox and then access them from any computer which has Internet access. You would simply log into your Dropbox account and open your files. 
  2. You can share a file inside Dropbox with someone else. When you need to collaborate with someone on a project, simply upload the documents to Dropbox. After sharing the files, you and your colleague can both access and change the documents.
Dropbox simply requires you to establish an account. I was up and going with this nifty tool in just a few minutes. If you have to access files remotely on a regular basis or collaborate with others on documents, this one could be a huge timesaver.