Tuesday, April 30, 2013

TSNT: OUT: Angry Birds and Wii. IN: CargoBot and Scratch

Try Something New Tuesday: OUT: Angry Birds and Wii. IN: CargoBot and Scratch

Seriously,  how many Angry Birds levels and cartoon theme connections can they come up with? Aren't you ready for a new a new app to take up all your time? How about gaming that will make you actually think, not just give your index finger or thumb a workout. Perhaps you have tried a few and just are not feeling excited anymore. I've got one to get your brain working. CargoBot! It's spring--out with the old, in with the new!  Sure the Wii, Xbox, etc are fun and I'm not saying to trash those, but try something different!

Programming and coding.

Stop there. No, these are not scary words.  Yes, YOU CAN PROGRAM. YOU CAN LEARN CODES. You do not have know anything about programming or coding to start using CargoBot and Scratch. Let's start here, if you have not see this cool video intro, check it out:

Scratch: If you've got an itch to try a new program on your PC, this one if for you! Pun intended. Scratch is FREE and it can be used from a basic level to an advanced level. You set the pace, you design the program, you get to be creative and have fun! No expectations on how creative you want to be, that is for you to decide. Learn more about it and download your free (and it's not a trial!) program here: http://scratch.mit.edu/.

I have been using this program with students of all ages (yes, adult learners as well). You can simply  play the videos on the website or create a game/video yourself.

Finally, Cargo Bot. This is a free app which helps you learn the early levels of programming.http://twolivesleft.com/CargoBot/.There are 36 puzzles with different levels of expertise. Basically, you are programming a robot to move boxes. Which is great-who likes to move boxes themselves!? The puzzles are clever and they keep your mind engaged as you find ways to make the robot accomplish tasks you program it to do.

Out with the old, in with the new...isn't that what technology is all about?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

TSNT: Trace Your Digital Footprint!

Try Something New Tuesdays! Where have you been walking?

A digital footprint is the word used to describe the trail, traces or "footprints" that people leave online. This is information transmitted online, such as an online registrations, e-mails and, photos, attachments, uploading videos and any other form of transmission of information — all of which leaves traces of personal information about yourself available to others online.
Are you wondering about your digital footprint? If you are reading this, you have one! Anytime you are online you leave a digital footprint. The bigger your 'presence" the bigger the footprint. If you are concerned about your presence online there are ways to protect your privacy.
I'll start with the two most popular places you leave a digital footprint and links to explain what you can do:
Google: https://www.google.com/intl/en/goodtoknow/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/help/privacy
As we celebrated Earth Day yesterday, I began to reflect upon my own digital footprint. What footprints have I left behind? How do these digital footprints affect the environment?
Let's move forward with two things you need to know about your digital footprint:
1. The bigger the digital footprint also means the more energy being exerted. Mother Earth needs our help to conserve energy. Here are some ways you can do so with regards to your digital footprint:
  • Switch to the cloud. Encourage your workplace to consider storing digital assets in the “cloud”. Many data centers who have sophisticated cooling technology, are better able to match server capacity with demand and increasingly make use of renewable sources of energy. Organizations under 100 users, especially, could cut their IT carbon emissions 90% by switching to the cloud.
  • Choose efficient devices. According to the NRDC, much of the energy used in computing comes not from distant data centers, but from the devices we use every day. Efficient computers can use up to 80% less energy than their thirsty counterparts.
  • Check your power settings. Ensuring your computer automatically shuts down when not in use is the single biggest energy saving opportunity on most computers. Also double clicking on your iPad then closing out those apps you have opened saves energy!
  • Donate or recycle electronics. Much energy is expended producing and shipping electronic devices, so it’s vital to get as much “mileage” out of them as possible. Reusing electronics also keeps harmful metals and plastics from reaching landfills.
 2. Think about the future generation. Educate those digital natives about their digital footprints. Their shoe size is already bigger than their parents!
Many children have their pre-birth scans uploaded to the Internet by their parents – files that can be megabytes in size. Proud parents (and family members)  love to post pics and digital accolades about their cherished offspring and relatives. Seventy per cent of mothers said the ability to upload and share these pictures with family and friends was the motivation for posting information of their children online.(source)

"It's a sobering thought that while a 30-year-old has an online footprint stretching back at most 10-15 years, the vast majority of children today have an online presence by the time they are two years old – a presence that will then be built on throughout their lives," says JR Smith, CEO of AVG. "This digital history will follow an individual around for the rest of their life, and parents have to be aware of the privacy settings they have set on their social networking profiles – otherwise they will be sharing photos with the whole online world."

The internet is a great place to roam and walk around, just beware of who is following in your footsteps!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


TSNT (Try Something New Tuesday!) You are smart (keeping telling yourself that).  Whether you are a parent, grandparent, uncle, aunt, cousin, friend or acquaintance of school aged students, you can support them by passing along this useful information. Cyberbullying Prevetion and Internet Safety are key when raising a digital native.

In case you have not been introduced to: http://www.netsmartz.org/, here is your formal introduction!

This website is beyond resourceful and amazing. The best part is, it is FREE and contains quality information which is accurate and real.

I love the three simple, yet powerful words this website promotes: "Educate, Engage, Empower".

Who is this website for? Anyone who wants to be more of a proactive citizen, rather than a reactive one,  when using technology in our digital society.

 This website is trendy, real and easy to navigate. You can create a free account to download any of the materials if you are teacher in the classroom or a guardian who wants to utilize some of the lessons and or activities. Or, you can choose to browse at your own free will and access the videos, games, interactive resource without having to remember an username and password!

Kids, Tweens and Teens can all play age-appropriate games, watch videos, read information, learn how to cope through role playing activities and share their own thoughts through this safe and secure website.

The videos seem to be the most popular, here are some of my favorites.
My fav: http://www.netsmartzkids.org/VideoOfTheMonth

My fav: http://www.nsteens.org/Videos/TerribletEXt

My fav:

Tip: scroll down to the bottom of the website and click on 'Site Map' which will give an overview of all the resources available through quick links: http://www.netsmartz.org/SiteMap

Another resource is Mackenzie Gavel who blogs about her experiences and others with cyberbullying: http://belittlethebullies.com

Check it out! You will not be disappointed, you will be even (net)SMARTER!

NOTE: They are flash videos, so if you are using an iPad, download the browser which allows you to view flash videos called 'Puffin". https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/puffin-web-browser-free/id472937654?mt=8

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

It's "Try Something New Tuesday!"

I'll admit, it's been awhile since I have posted. Mainly because I have started forming private wikis in my courses for students to share their ideas and resources in a collaborative, yet comfortable setting. I decided to put forth my efforts into creating more intimate and 'risk friendly' environments in my course management system, Livetext. I have found many students sharing, adding and collaborating in the free and open forum, which has been very exciting!

While that has certainly been successful, I have missed blogging. I feel I can balance both now and and am headed in a new direction of blogging. Finding ways to inspire my followers, or those who just happen to stumble upon this blog, to try something new (in relation to technology).

Remember preschool or even your early elementary years when learning was all about exploring and being a risk taker? Now it seems more and more people feel as though using technology, or learning something new is actually time consuming and, well, just one more thing they have to do. When did learning something new become so old?

Let's make this easy: I'll post weekly ways you can have fun with technology and all your have to do is either try it pass it on! I'm launching: TRY SOMETHING NEW TUESDAYS (Mondays are hard to process). Pick and choose what you want to try. For those of you in the education professional, think about if the technology tool I am sharing will enhance or transform your lessons or life. If not, come back next week!

THIS WEEK: Animoto! If you haven't heard of this great tool: here's the link.
You can access it via the web or through the app platform. What a great way to encourage kids to create a video about something they learned and themselves! It's easy, safe, effective and engaging. Teachers could create a short video as they look to flipping their classroom or want to pose a question, idea or content area for others to take notice.

Here's video my son made when he was "Student of the Week". He did this all by himself. All I did was record his small intro. If this first grader can do it, so can you! Endless possibilities. Try it and transform your lessons or life.