Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Just in Time for the Holidays...Critter Carols

I saw Critter Carols by petcentric and thought I would share it with you prior to the Thanksgiving weekend (Just in case the kids get a little stir crazy over the long weekend!). My kids played around with it last weekend and I have to admit that I thought it was funny as well.

You can choose a dog or cat to deliver your holiday message or upload a picture of your favorite pet. You can then pick from a selection of holiday clothes, choose a favorite song, and personalize your message. You can then send your holiday greeting by email, Facebook, or embed the video.

I also enjoyed some of the other options from this page, such as Friendfetcher, which is a breed selector from a dog's point of view.

Try this classic if you would rather ElfYourself!

I hope you will take a look and have a Happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful Holiday season! J.T.

Monday, November 23, 2009

"Pushcart Educator" Named CNN Hero of the Year

The paragraphs below were copied and pasted from CNN and links are included to each of the articles and videos.

(CNN) -- A teacher and the organization he began has just been recognized by the Cable News Network.

Efren PeƱaflorida, who started a "pushcart classroom" in the Philippines to bring education to poor children as an alternative to gang membership, has been named the 2009 CNN Hero of the Year. The show was taped last Saturday, but premieres on Thanksgiving, November 26, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CNN.

Efren gives Filipino youth an alternative to gang membership through education. His Dynamic Teen Company's 10,000 members have taught basic reading, writing, arithmetic, and English to 1,500 kids living in the slums. Stocked with books, pens, tables and chairs, they recreate a school setting in unconventional locations such as the cemetery and municipal trash dump. The group also runs a hygiene clinic, where children can get a bath and learn how to brush their teeth.

"Our planet is filled with heroes, young and old, rich and poor, man, woman of different colors, shapes and sizes. We are one great tapestry," PeƱaflorida said upon accepting the honor. "Each person has a hidden hero within, you just have to look inside you and search it in your heart, and be the hero to the next one in need.

So to each and every person inside this theater and for those who are watching at home, the hero in you is waiting to be unleashed. Serve, serve well, serve others above yourself and be happy to serve. As I always tell to my co-volunteers ... you are the change that you dream, as I am the change that I dream, and collectively we are the change that this world needs to be."

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, remember all of the blessings you have received...no matter how big or small, and make a difference in someone's life! Unleash that hero inside of yourself!!! J.T.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The 1st Anniversary - The CareerTech Testing Center Blog

I want to thank each reader of the CareerTech Testing Center Blog for an incredible first year!

I would have never believed in the beginning that we would reach 49 states and the District of Columbia (where are you Wyoming???) and 103 countries!

I also want to thank everyone for the links (609 inbound links at last count) and for the help in sharing our news about testing issues and educational technology.

As for the 1,400+ subscribers...UNBELIEVABLE!

Again, I hope you will continue to use our blog as a resource and visit often for posts you may have missed in the past.

One last thing...PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE share the blog with anyone that could benefit from the information. We want to reach as many people as possible and I hope you will continue to let us know your thoughts on posts and please share any of your great teaching methods/resources with us. The only way to make this a better blog is to have your input!

Thank you again!


Friday, November 13, 2009

Tinkering Makes Comeback Amid Crisis

The CareerTech Update lead me to an article in the Wall Street Journal (11/12, A1, Lahart) which reported that tinkering is making a comeback in the US. New technology such as contemporary milling machines and other computer numerical controlled (CNC) tools, more widely available because of decreased costs, has contributed to this trend, as have increased interest among students for mechanical engineering, and for hands-on work. MIT engineering professor Michael Cima said that the current financial crisis has also fostered a desire for creativity and innovation with tangible results. Whatever the causes, workshops called hackerspaces have been turning up across the US at a rapid pace in the past year, as has interest in do-it-yourself technology. While declines in R&D spending has prompted some concern from experts about the state of innovation in the US, the Journal notes that this tinkering among students and enthusiasts represents R&D that is outside of official figures.

I am intrigued by the idea of "Hackerspaces." These are workshops for people to share tools and ideas and they are popping up all over the country (there are 124 hackerspaces in the U.S., according to a member-run group that keeps track, up from a handful at the start of last year). I wonder if "Hackerspaces" could be another form of economic innovation/development that Oklahoma's CareerTech system could offer in their districts? It seems like a great fit: hackerspace to incubator to technology park or local business district.

Honestly, there aren't a lot of good things about difficult economic times, except every downturn seems to spur creativity and a state of excitement will always ensue. I'm amazed by young entrepreneurs and their level of creativity. The CareerTech system in Oklahoma has been supporting entrepreneurs and small business since its inception and it is my belief that this partnership will continue to grow over the course of time. What do you all think of hackerspaces???

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Digital Kids and the Digital Generation Project

Please check out the Digital Generation Project (on Edutopia's site) which is produced with support from the McArthur Foundation.

According to the site:

"Today's kids are born digital -- born into a media-rich, networked world of infinite possibilities. But their digital lifestyle is about more than just cool gadgets; it's about engagement, self-directed learning, creativity, and empowerment. The Digital Generation Project tells their stories so that educators and parents can understand how kids learn, communicate, and socialize in very different ways than any previous generation."

Also take a look at some of the youth profiles like Cameron or Jalen. I think you'll be amazed!

This video from Frontline on PBS with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan describes what The Class of the Future looks like.

I think this shows that we are in the midst of the digital generation and we, as educators, must develop these skills and prepare our students for the demands of the marketplace. I fear that if we don't develop these skills, we risk losing credibility with our students. J.T.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

NoNotes.com: A Special Education Resource?

NoNotes.com is something that I'm really excited about, especially for Special Education purposes!!!

Have you ever been so busy taking notes during a lecture that you felt "lost" after the lecture? You took great notes, but you really weren't able to analyze what was being said or had a chance to ask follow-up questions? NoNotes.com could be your answer!

NoNotes.com is a student founded company who’s goal is to improve the way students throughout the world learn. Using NoNotes will allow you to focus on learning while in class rather than having to focus your attention on taking notes. The service allows you to sit back, learn, ask questions and make the most of your class time. Simply record the lecture, upload the recording to their site and they will provide a written transcript  (turnaround time is typically 1-3 business days). Prices start as low as $9.57/hr class.

I know I could have used this service when I was in college. To not only help with my own note taking ability, but to rely on someone more reliable than my "friends." Were you ever sick and asked a friend to take notes and you basically received nothing in return, except for a response like, "Dude, we really didn't talk about anything new." You later find out that you had a test review on the day you missed, because the next lecture you attended was actually a test! That's right, the instructor moved the test up in the schedule to the next class period instead of two class periods from my abscence (which made the syllabus...WRONG!). I know...I know... I should have chosen my friends more carefully and I didn't do so well on that test, but I'm still not over it!  Where was NoNotes.com when I needed it?

Now for what I think could be the BEST part of this site that NoNotes doesn't really even highlight....Special Education! Now what is there about special education that NoNotes could influence???  Two things: Specific Learning Disabilities and Limited English Proficient (LEP) and Immigrant Students.

Student's with a Specific Learning Disability typically have average to above average cognitive ability, but a discrepancy exists between expected and actual ability in reading, written expression, or mathematical calculations. Wouldn't NoNotes.com make a great resource for these students? Instead of taking notes, these students could spend their lecture time trying to process the information and asking questions of instructors to clarify their understanding of the material.

Now what about Limited English Proficient (LEP) and Immigrant Students? NoNotes can translate notes into several languages and wouldn't it be a great way for these students to learn if notes were provided in both English and the student's native language?

I hope you will take a look at NoNotes.com and let us know how you used the service and what your thoughts are!

Monday, November 2, 2009

100 Ways You Should Be Using Facebook in Your Classroom

I know a lot of you have access issues for Facebook at your school or place of employment, but I found an interesting source for you: 100 Ways You Should Be Using Facebook in Your Classroom. The article includes a lot of great ideas even if you can only have access at home.

Take a look because I really think we are just beginning to understand a few uses for social media!
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