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Showing posts from August, 2011

Celebrating Students!

Yesterday, at our board meeting a group of our high school students presented on what they did over their "summer vacation." The 20 or so kids that presented didn't hang out at the pool or head to the beach. Instead, these dedicated students attended various academic and extracurricular camps all around the world.

We had students that attended the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) Program. One attended the Gold Leadership Camp, some went to Boys' State and Girls' State. Other went to honors colloquiums at UT Austin and Texas A&M. We had several attend the San Antonio PREP Program. One went to West Point. One competed in a national bowling championship in Las Vegas. We even have one young girl that spent six weeks in the Ukraine helping disabled children!

As I sat and listened to them, two things came to mind. One was a sense of pride of how wonderful our students are. The second was a sense of dismay over the fact that I didn't hear about any of this …

Friday Freebie: The absolutely BEST site for background music! Bar None!

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If your students ever need some great background music for a video project today's Friday Freebie site is the place to go! FreePlayMusic has the best collection of musical beds anywhere! at last count they had over 7200 individual tracks!

You can search by CD (with titles like "Action and Adventure", "Hot Guitar Rock", and "Piano Solos") or search by style (ambient, comedy, drama, etc) or search by feel (cinematic, eerie, urgent). The great thing is, most tracks come in a variety of lengths, from full songs to 60 seconds, 30 seconds, 20 seconds, and 10 second stingers. Download the mp3 file you need and use it in your presentation or video.

And, it's FREE to use for personal use and for student projects. Their licensing agreement reads:
FPM (FreePlayMusic) grants free master recording and synchronization rights to students, to the FPM Production Music Library, excluding the FPM Indie Artist and Sound Effects Library, when FPM music is used by stud…

A Great Kind of Tired!

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It's only Thursday of the first week of school and I have to be honest - I'M EXHAUSTED! It feels more like Thursday of the tenth week of school! But, it's a wonderful kind of exhausted. The teachers in our district are "chomping at the bit" to get a hold of technology and are ready to integrate it into their classes.

They want their web pages up-to-date. They want their Mimio interactive whiteboards up and running. They want students in the labs. And they're not the only ones. My high school students started asking on day one when I was going to issue them their netbooks. They're ready to rock and roll with technology too!

Our teachers returned this year with a great sense of purpose and energy. They're ready to seamlessly integrate technology into their classes and design engaging work for their students. They have some great ideas for this year and I can't wait for them to put their ideas in action. But, it's tiring!

Right now, I'm bein…

Friday Freebie: Free Flashcards and more!

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This week's Friday Freebie site has been around a while, but I just stumbled across it and it's fantastic! It's Quizlet. The idea is simple: create a set of virtual flashcards by typing in questions and answers, or words and definitions, or English words and their translation into another language. The ideas are limiltess as to what you can input.

Then, after creating the list, you can study the terms by virtually flipping through the flashcards. But that's just the start of it! Quizlet will take your list and create a fill in the blank quiz, or it will read out the terms to you and check to see if you can spell them, or perhaps you want a practice test with matching and multiple choice. It does it all! There are even two interactive games it creates for you.

Flashcard sets can be shared with others and also shared with a variety of iPad and iPhone apps. They can even be embedded in a blog!

Choose a Study ModeScatterLearnFlashcards
Study these flash cards
It's a grea…

Let's Ask the Right Questions This Year! Focusing on STUDENT Outcomes.

I'm about to enter my fourth year as the Director of Instructional Technology for the Fort Sam Houston Independent School District. The last four years has been wildly exciting as we have grown leaps and bounds in technology field. We've got a lot of new hardware and software all around the district - Mimio interactive whiteboards in every classroom, beautiful websites thanks to eChalk, a one-to-one netbook program at the high school, and much more!

We are, indeed, rich with resources. Now, it's time to get down to brass tacks. This year I really want to challenge the teachers (and students) to the seamless integration of technology in the curriculum. And I've come to realize that sometimes asking the right question is what really matters.

Years ago, I read a book by John Miller called The Question Behind The Question. In it, the author challenges us to form questions that place responsibility in the right hands. The questions I want to get away from this year are tho…

Students. That's What It's All About.

I just finished up three straight days of teacher in-service. And while I absolutely love working with teachers, by the time today's session was over I was exhausted. I was also pretty stressed since I've got a lot of work to do before school starts. There's a lot to be done before the teachers come back. We've got to finish installing equipment in the classrooms. I've got student accounts and teacher accounts to create on a slew of sites. The web page needs updating. There's more training to prepare for. The list goes on and on

I was feeling pretty stressed and to top it all off I had to take a HOT walk over to high school to visit the principal. When I got to the high school office,  that's when it happened. That's when I saw what it was all about. Because there in the high school stood living, breathing, excited, energetic STUDENTS. They were there preparing for a "New Kid" summer camp for our new students as part of their Student to…