Tag Archive: edtech

Mayflower by the Numbers


Plymouth Colony

I had posted a link to this activity once before. This is from a presentation I gave at an EdTech conference nearly a decade ago. It’s probably too late for a teacher to use for this Thanksgiving, but I thought it was time to pull it out of mothballs once again…

The original Mayflower by the Numbers activity was hosted on one of our school servers. I’ve updated it with Google Docs and have moved to my own Workshops Google site.

Here’s the lesson as an embedded Google Doc…

…and here is the associated Google Spreadsheet…

UPDATE: One of my Facebook friends posted this image, and I though it would be appropriate here…


The End of My Rope


At the EdTech conference this year the theme was “A High Tech Adventure!” Some of the conference staff were wearing camo, and camping gear made up most of the floor displays. The vendors always give away some freebies – usually pens and pencils, with a T-shirt being the high end of the spectrum. This year mini-carabiners were hot items. At the awards banquet each of the attendees were given one with a compass.

Compass 'Biner

I love these little ‘biners. They are great for kayaking – attaching dry bags to bungie cords, etc, etc. However, one of the more interesting giveaways was the Survival Bracelet.

Survival Bracelets

These are woven bracelets with about 8 feet of paracord. The cord can be unwound in case of emergency. I guess you could use it to tie down a shelter, set a snare, or in an extreme case tie a noose. The conference store had extras for sale, including kits that you could put together yourself.

I had seen these at outfitter stores, and even at the occasional quick stop shop. They seem to be popular right now. I thought it was a cool idea, but didn’t think I’d buy or wear one. However, after I got mine at the conference I decided I would give it a shot…

Survival Bracelet

I figured that when I got to the end of my rope, it would remind me that I have at least a bit more, and I can make it. Maybe I can do more with it than just tying a noose. ;-)

Back to School 2012


Aviary google-com Picture 1

And so it begins again. Students return on Monday. Our teachers were back last Monday. The summer is over and we’re getting back to the business of educating kids.

Not that summer has been a vacation for me. I’ve long ago left the cycle of having summers off. In fact, summer is typically my busiest time as we try to do upgrades on our systems. This summer was particularly busy because we tried to change/upgrade just about every technology system we have. It’s been a crazy time with late evenings, working on days that I would normally have off, and trying to conduct a three ring circus of vendors working on frantic deadlines to get everything ready before August 15.

Here’s a list of our projects this summer… (more…)

Going Google


We’ve done it.  This week I flipped the switch to transition our school district to Google Apps, with GMail as our primary e-mail system.

We had been a Novell/Groupwise shop every since I’ve been in the district.  Novell had been a reliable, rock-solid product.  However, their latest version was on a linux-based platform, and it was becoming increasing difficult to find network engineers to support our system.  Other districts in our county had already switched to Windows Networks with Exchange.  We began that process this summer, but with GMail.

This was neither a quick decision, nor a quick process.  We had actually been using Google Apps for the past couple of years under another domain owned by the district, so our folks were used to the system.  Even so, we put out a survey to our users, asking what features they would like to see in a new system.  We also test drove Microsoft’s Live@EDU system as a comparison.  Ultimately, we decided to go with Google, since to many of our users were already familiar with GMail.

We started sending out messages for our users to start getting ready for the change last spring.  In June I created all of the accounts for our users and started encouraging them to log onto the new system, giving July 9 as our cut over date.

Of course, change isn’t easy.  I’ve fielded TONS of calls and e-mails from users who were not able to get into their accounts for one reason or another.  Even so, a significant number of our teachers have yet to log into the new system.  I think that first week of school is going to be crazy.

For those that have made the switch, the response has been generally positive.  I’m trying to go beyond e-mail and promote the whole Google package, including Google Docs, Google Voice, and Google+.  We’ll see how that progresses.

UTC12 Retrospective


This past week I participated in the Upstate Technology Conference, put on by the Greenville County School District.  UTC has been going on for many years now, but this is the first time I’ve participated.  This is time of year I’m either taking a vacation, or heading to the ISTE conference, or I’m swamped with computer upgrades.  This year I made a point of attending by submitting several proposals for presentations.

Actually, I submitted proposals for four topics – Google Earth, Aviary.com, Google Apps, and one on Making Music on Your iPad.  I figured they would select one or two.  They picked all four, and even had me doing the music session twice.  I was a bit surprised.  I would be presenting in five out of the eight available concurrent sessions – one on Tuesday and four on Wednesday.  I wasn’t going to have time to visit any of the other sessions.

The conference was held at Wade Hampton High School, just a hop and a skip from my house.  I arrived early Tuesday to check in and scout out my room.  I had the first session open, so I sat in on Cathy Jo Nelson’s presentation on using and manipulating images.  She had some great ideas, as usual. (more…)

Research Tools in Google Docs


I really miss Google Notebook. Combined with the Firefox plugin, it was one of the most useful tools for online research. I was very disappointed when Google decided to discontinue the service. At least they copied all of my notes into my Google Docs account when they ended the service.

So, I’ve been trying to use Google Docs when I do research for this blog. It’s not quite as elegant, but it gets the job done. Now Google has released a new tool for Google Docs. While it doesn’t completely replace Notebook, it does have potential as a great research tool. (more…)

Sock Saga Update


Last week I mentioned that I had received one sock in the mail. The idea was that if i wanted the sock’s mate, i’d need to visit their booth on the vendor floor at EdTech.

One of my colleagues, Jay Lindler, reads this blog, and and stopped by their booth. He pulled up RandomConnections and showed them the post. Fortunately, they were amused, and wanted to meet me, so I stopped by.

Rosemary Enos from Epic Communications was a great sport. Here she is (in an unfortunately blurry photo) posing with her socks. Her company provides consulting services for E-Rate.


I had planned to stop by anyway, just out of curiosity. (So their marketing plan worked.) However, I had forgotten my sock. Rosemary was generous enough to provide me with a complete pair (which was great since I wasn’t even wearing socks.)

Laura had asked if they sent one generic sock, or if they sent one for men and a different type for women. That question was answered when I walked past and saw the different socks at their booth. My counterpart in District 1, Cheryl Berry, confirmed that she had received some pink fru-fru sock.

Which raises a question. How did they determine which socks were sent? Just based on first name? Makes me wonder what type of sock Ashley Atkinson would have received. Yep, he’s a guy. However, he told me he’s used to those mistakes.

Media Literacy and Tasteless Advertising


Back in the 1980s I used to teach a unit on propaganda techniques to my seventh grade students. We would study Edward Filene’s seven techniques of propaganda, then analyze print and television ads to see how these were used. The students would then try to write their own ads using these techniques. Today this would now fall under the standards for Media Literacy, but essentially it was the same thing.

Over the holidays we watched more junk TV than we usually do, and there seemed to be lots of ads for products from the National Collectors’ Mint. This company specializes in private minting of commemorative coins, and their ads are so over the top that they seemed like a perfect candidate for one of these propaganda technique lessons. In particular, I kept seeing ads for this 9-11 commemorative coin…

10th Anniversary September 11th Commemorative Gold Proof  Collector

I’ll say up front that I think this is a tasteless scam. It plays upon emotions and tries to get people to invest in something that is relatively worthless. I think that anyone that falls for this is an idiot, and I find it appalling that there are some many of these advertisements on television – TV Spam. That aside, though, let’s take a look at some of the specific techniques this advertisement uses. (more…)

Telling Time in Google Earth, Part 2


North Pleasantburg

Yesterday I presented readers with a problem – Can you tell the approximate time of day an image was created in Google Earth? Using the image above of Cherrydale Shopping Center in Greenville, I pointed out some clues and some strategies for making a guess. Here’s another, sure-fire way of figuring out the problem…


Three Collaborative Google Earth Projects


Google Earth

I had wanted to entitle this post “Cool Google Earth Lesson Plans That Don’t Really Use Google Earth”, but I figure that would be a bit wordy. The idea was taken from my “Creating Media Rich Lessons with Google Earth” presentations that I’ve been doing lately. One of the strategies in that presentation is to embed content from other sources into Google Earth. As I was giving some examples to the workshop participants, it occurred to me that you could do a collaborative project in Google Earth where kids do most of their work in some other application, bringing these together at the last minute in Google Earth. Here are a few of those ideas, and the applications needed. (more…)

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