Thursday, December 10, 2009

Managing Your Electronic Life

If you are anything like me you love all the latest gadgets. Also, if you are anything like me, you can find it exhausting to keep up. Some great tools that have made their way across my desk have disappeared from hyperspace - I believe - simply because there are too many of them that do the same thing and we [users] are a fickle lot.

However there are two tools I could not, would not do without. The first is Evernote. Beside the fact that this is free, it is a useful tool in your iPhone, Blackberry, PC or Mac. I can take a snapshot of my whiteboard and save it in my Evernote to share or simply to review. As I find websites of interest not only can I bookmark them, but I can see an image of the site in my evernote interface which can help spark my memory. Give it a try, you won't be sorry.

The other product is Reqall. Now this is just great. A while back I had a Jott account and like many of you was sorely disappointed when they became a paid service because, well, I just didn't want to pay for it! Welcome, Reqall! Reqall is free and it gives you some awesome functionality that reminds me of Jott.

Picture this... You are driving home from work and you conjure up an idea that is just great. You wish you could pull over to the side of the road and write it down, or you can call someone and tell them - well, if you have a reqall account you can call your reqall, leave a message about this idea and select the members of your contact list with whom you may want to share this message. The "share" will receive a typed transcription of what you said as well as a *.wav file to listen to [in case your cell phone still gives garbled service].

I am limiting the ability of this great product, but suffice it to say after about an hour, you, too will find many great uses for these products.

Happy Organizing!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Video Conference and Immersion

We have just solidified the first Hebrew Immersion program at the Elementary School level. Our fifth grade students attend classes everyday with a teacher in Israel who is teaching them Hebrew. We use a SMART Board in the classroom as well as PowerPoint presentations from Israel. The teacher is conversant with the students as she implements oral and written exams as well as administers worksheets and extra help.

We supplied the teacher with a Wacom Tablet in Israel where we send completed tests via PDF from scans to her. She can grade the tests with comments, etc. and return them to the students via email through our Edline system.

Parents were impressed to see the teacher engaging the students in lively conversation and equally impressive is the degree of attention and interest displayed by the students.

Of course, this program has gone through much growth - this link provides you a view of our first week of class. When we first started this program - we moved the Polycom Viewstation VSX 7000 from room to room - now we use the Polycom HDX 9001 in a new Hebrew Immersion room we have designated along side a donated 48" television for SMART Board presentations and this is working magnificently.

I am thrilled to share this with you as we are very proud of this new program. A paperless classroom taught by 1 teacher in Israel to 5th grade students - very cool.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


New Ideas for 2009 - 2010 School Year

New ideas are brewing as we return from the summer and I would like to share them with you.

In the Middle School one of the faculty has spent the better part of this summer preparing for a paperless school year. Focusing on Adobe Acrobat and PDF technology, he has prepared all his Judaic Studies classes to be run through LAN School (I prefer this to Synchroneyes - easier to use, simple user interface and much, much, less expensive)and Adobe Acrobat. He learned all he needed through online classes at and ended up with over 100 pages of notes to share with other teachers. This idea is inspired and the application is incredible.

We are using VoiceThread throughout the school in both General and Judaic studies to enhance student engagement and, parental involvement. Through a grant, our Middle School Judaic Studies will be thoroughly enhanced with VoiceThread, document cameras, and collaborative learning programs.

With the addition of an iPod Touch cart and specialized training for the faculty everyone is a-buzz about using this new technology in the classroom. Tony Vincent has a fabulous Podcast tp help you with technical ideas and projects. Between iTunesU and the plethora of educational apps in the online store I am sure we will see a growth in student and teacher podcasting.

We have deployed 125 laptops for student use and Trapeze points throughout the entire school, but flooded the Middle School with MP in many classrooms. Teachers will be able to sign out laptop carts through our SchoolDude managed IT program and the carts have been re-designed inside by "yours truly" to enhance distribution and minimize confusion and delay.

The Tech Staff has been re-named "coaching" staff and have been assigned to the faculty for technological support as well as curriculum development. Engaging tech savvy students as coaches is just another way of providing real life education for the students and support for the teachers. Students have been hand selected to support the IT Department as student coaches. Teachers have a list of students with their schedules so they can find someone quickly when the IT Department is otherwise engaged.

Good wishes to all as the new year begins and I will keep you posted of new tech integration solutions as we go along.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Virtual Jogging

Have you ever wished you could walk your students through some websites to share ideas with them? Did you ever just want to share a few links with someone without having to send the links but, rather, show the page. Well, why not jog there?

That's right! Send someone a bunch of web pages and let them "jog" through them. Give this "jog" a try and let me know what you think. It is easy and fun.

Now that summer is around the corner you can start putting some of these together for your lesson plans for next year. Students go to live pages - they can pause, research and annotate pages to Diigo and then continue. As a teacher you are engaging them and offering a content rich experience that is sure to keep them working!

Check this out!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Have you met Animoto, yet?

As a Tech Director I am always looking for the short and simple path to help my teachers achieve their goals. Now, as the school year draws to a close, classroom teachers prepare final projects. A great culminating project is to capture the highlights of the school year in a PowerPoint presentation. These are usually time consuming and frustrating to get right. In particular, it is difficult to get the music to work right with the images. Along comes ANIMOTO.

With a free educational account you can upload photos, add music and ... let 'er rip. Animoto takes your images, text and music and blends them together into an animated slide show.

Once you've completed the show you can email, post, download, send it to, upgrade to a DVD, even send it to your iPhone!! The animoto that I created was based on photos from our school celebration for Purim. I just made it as a demo and it took less than 15 minutes.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What Took You So Long?

I know it has been a while since I have updated this blog, but, in my defense I have been very busy. I initiated a laptop program, installed a wireless network, supervised the reconstruction of our network, and well in general took over a different Technology Department. It's been fun, but I think for it to be enriching to you let me share some of what I have learned.

First, when initiating a project, never take anything for granted. The wireless re-seller I hired was unreliable and made the project much more difficult than it had to be for us. The new reseller I put in place is FABULOUS. I can't say enough good stuff about Real Time Consultants, Inc. They have been supportive, smart, reliable, friendly and never, never, never late or underestimate their fees. In fact, sometimes, they overestimate so I can sigh in relief!

Second, teachers are the best! I have a great faculty at my school. They are inquisitive, interested, creative and willing to take a risk. When there is a new idea they are willing to nurture it until it becomes a reality (if possible). Okay? So with all these upbeat teachers and support work I neglected my blog. I promise to make up for it.

So what' hot? Well, recently we have been working on getting grant money to support a Voicethread project. Not familiar with Voicethreads? Let me take this opportunity to introduce you.
Voicethreads for Education

Voicethreads encourage students to use higher order thinking and share online on topics with their class. Visit the site and watch how students will blossom in your classroom.