Friday, November 15, 2013

Week 8 - Voice/Video Calls and Chats

Can you believe we are already at week 8? I have really enjoyed our journey together as we explore the possibilities of using web 2.0 tools in education. I hope you have learned some new tools or reinforced some skills you haven’t used in a while.
Week 8 focuses on making voice/video calls and chats. As you know, one of your reward options for completing this course is a Hue HD webcam! A webcam is such a powerful communication and collaboration tool for the classroom. You can connect with other teachers and classrooms all over the world. You can virtually bring in experts to your classroom that you would never have been able to access prior to this technology. The possibilities are endless! (Can you tell I get excited about this topic?)
Thing 18 - Set up a Skype account and add contacts to your account
The free software program we are going to use explore the use of online voice and video calls is Skype. Skype allows you to live chat, make voice calls, and make video calls on your computer – all for free! Now, be sure to notice I said that this is a software program. It is not an online tool like the other things we have been using. You do have to download the software and install it on your computer. But, it is free! :) To download the program on your home computer, go to, and click Download Skype free (do not get Skype Premium). At school, you just go to the Zenworks window and click on the Install Skype icon.
Once you install the software, just follow the prompts to get an account and set up a username. Once your account is set up, add me as an contact so you can practice using the software if you wish. My Skype account name is CynthiaMatzat. Add a comment to this post to share your username with the group so we can all add each other to our contacts list. This will give you yet another way to communicate with each other during the remainder of the workshop.
Here are several tutorials to help you navigate the software:
Help for Skype - User Guides
Video tutorials:
Thing 19 – Explore Skype in the Classroom and share an idea you have for using Skype as an educator.
Skype recently launched a new feature called Skype in the Classroom. It is a way for educators to connect and share project ideas for using Skype in the classroom. It’s a great place to start when you are looking for another classroom or an expert to connect with for a project.

Check out Skype in the Classroom and these additional sites to look for ways you might use Skype in your classroom. Write a reflection post on your blog to share an idea of how you might personally use Skype in your job (or even in your personal life). Be sure to read some of your colleagues posts and comment on their thoughts.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Week 7 - Social Networking with Facebook and Twitter

You can't go anywhere online without seeing logos and links asking you to "follow me on Facebook and Twitter". Social networking sites have impacted the way we connect with friends, family, businesses, parents and students.
Using social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter in education is definitely a "hot button" topic. As most of you know, last year Missouri tried to establish a law to regulate how teachers and students would be able to interact on these types of sites. Like many online tools, Facebook and Twitter in education have their pros and cons. Your tasks for week 7 ask you to look at these two sites and consider how they could (or if they should) be used in an educational setting.
Note: Some of these resources will not be able to be viewed at school since Facebook is blocked at school. (Think about why it is blocked at most schools.) You will need to view them when you are at home or at a public Internet access area like a local library.
Thing 16 - Explore the use of Facebook in education
Read the following articles on using Facebook in Education. Think of how or why you might use Facebook in your job (or even your personal life). Be sure to consider any disadvantages to using this site.
Our school district does have a Facebook page, as do many school groups and activities. If you want to have an official school Facebook page, you have to add Becky Hartzell and Jeremy Lampe as administrators of your page to help monitor any unwanted activity on your page. Here are some examples of Facebook pages being used in our district:
If you don't have a Facebook page, you might consider signing up for one and exploring the possibilities. This is definitely an optional activity.
Thing 17 - Explore the use of Twitter in education
Watch the following videos and look at the sites about using Twitter in education. Again, think of how or why you might use Twitter in your job (or even your personal life). Be sure to consider any disadvantages to using this site.
  • Why Teachers Should Try Twitter - an article that states some reasons why a teacher might want to use Twitter
  • Twitter4Teachers - a database of teachers who you can follow on Twitter (if you have a Twitter account, you might follow some teachers with similar interests)
  • Check out how Branson High School uses Twitter on its website.
If you do not have a Twitter account, consider signing up for one and giving it a try for a couple of weeks to see if you find it useful. This is also an optional task.
Reflection task: 
Comment on this post and share your thoughts about Facebook and Twitter in education. Be sure to consider the pros and cons to using these sites. Make sure you sign your name to your comment.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Week 6 - Play Week!

I hope you enjoyed working with the different online photo tools last week. I think they are very powerful for sharing photos with your students, parents, and the community. They are also great for sharing personal photos with your family as well.

This week is “Play Week” in our 21 Things workshop. I have three “things” for you to explore and play with to see if you find them useful (or just fun) in your work or personal life. If you are feeling behind, this is a week for you to catch up on the other “things” in the course so far. Once you get caught up, you can go back and play with these tools.

Thing 13 – Online book cataloging and sharing with Shelfari, GoodReads, and LibraryThing

As a librarian, I can’t help but share with you some great online tools that allow you to catalog and share your own personal libraries.  :)  I used Shelfari for a long time (you can visit my page at, but have recently switched to Good Reads (my pages is at as is seems to be the new dominant tool. All three sites are great. I use them to keep track of what I read, share what I’m reading with the teachers in my building, and I use it to get book recommendations from other readers. Each of the sites below has an online tour on the main page to give you an overview of the site. Pick the one you like the best, sign up for a free account (I always use my gmail account when I sign up for free stuff), and give it a try!

Note: These sites should not be shared with elementary students. They can get to book content that would not be appropriate for children, and people’s reviews may also be inappropriate. If you have high school students, this could be a great way for them to share what they are reading and write reviews of books.


Thing 14 – Fun Image Generators with FD’s Flickr Toys

Big Huge Labs/FD’s Flickr Toys
This is a fun site that allows you to create things like movie posters, magazine covers, and more with your photos. You just upload the photo you want to edit, and follow the prompts to create your new graphic.  You can then download the graphic and use it on your blog, website, or you can print it. Explore some of the fun options, and if you create something interesting, post it on your blog post this week. :)

Note: If you like this site and want to use it with students, be sure to sign up for their free educator account. It will get rid of ads and will allow students to sign in without and email address.

Thing 15 – Screencasting with Jing

Jing is not actually a website, but rather free software that you download on your computer. It allows you to take screenshots of anything on your computer and share those images with others. You can also record what you are doing on your computer and make a video/screencast of what you do, complete with audio (similar to the tutorial videos I create for you and post to YouTube). The video files are flash files, so they can’t be uploaded to sites like YouTube, but you can email them to others or put them on the shared drive. I use Jing all of time to when people need help with a quick computer task. I just model on my computer and have Jing record what I’m doing, and then I share the file with them. I also use it to take screen shots of websites I want to share, especially when making a handout for a workshop. Here’s a tutorial video that shows you how Jing works (not made with Jing – it limits the length of the video and I need more time than it allows <grin>).

How to use Jing for screen capture:

How to use Jing to create a screencast:


If you think it is a tool that would be useful to you, go ahead and download it and sign up for an account. Give it a try and see how easy it is to make your own screencast or capture and image.

Week 6 Reflection Task:

Write a post on your blog sharing your thoughts about the "Play Week" tools. How could you use them in your professional or personal life? If you created an image on Big Huge Labs, or did a screen capture or screencast with Jing, add them to your post so we can see your great work. :) Be sure to visit your colleagues' blogs, read some of their reflections, and post a few comments with your thoughts on their reflections for this week.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Week 5 - Photos and Images

This week's focus is on adding photos and images to your blog posts. There are tons of sites online that let you store and edit photos online. I'm going to share three of my favorites with you this week. To do these tasks, you are going to need a folder of digital photos to work with. Just save your photos on your desktop, H: drive, on a flash drive, or whatever location you like so that you have easy access to them (remember, if you save them on your H: drive at school, you will only be able to access them at school).

Thing 10 - Explore Picasaweb and use it to store and edit images online

Picasaweb is another great Google tool. It allows you to upload and store photos online. Not only that, but it allows you to edit your photos using a great tool called Creative Kit, and you can create simple photo slideshows to embed in your blog posts.

To start using Picasaweb, go to and log in with your normal Google account. The following video tutorial will show you how to upload your photos into Picasaweb.

How to Upload Photos to Picasawab

This video shows you how to make your photo album public so that it can be viewed by others on the web.

How to make your photos public

Now that you have some photos uploaded, learn to create a slideshow and embed it into a post on your Blogger blog. This tutorial will show you how.

Creating and Embedding a Picasaweb Slideshow

Thing 11 - Create a video show with Animoto

One of my all-time favorite online photo tools is Animoto. It allows  you to create amazing video slideshows complete with animation and music. Go to Animoto and sign up for a free account. You have to do this before you can get the free educator account.

Once you have created your basic account, go to and sign up for the free educator account. It will give you all of the pro features of Animoto for free! You will receive an email from them in letting you know that your educator account has been approved. Here is a short tutorial on how to use Animoto. (NOTE: Animoto tends to run slow at school. I think the bandwidth is restricted on it. If you have the option to explore it at home, I would do that).

Animoto Tutorial

Create your own video using Animoto and embed it into a blog post. To embed it, you will copy the code provided, and follow the same process you did with your Picasaweb slideshow to paste the code into a blog post (be sure you are on the HTML tab).

Thing 12 - Create a photo quiz with Photo Peach

Photo Peach is another great online tools that allows you to create photo slideshows complete with music and text annotations. My favorite feature is that it lets you creat a fun photo quiz. Sign up for a free Photo Peach account (do not sign up for the educator account - it costs). Here is a tutorial video that gives you an overview of Photo Peach. (Photo Peach also tends to run slower at school, so experiment at home if possible.) Note: At the end of the video, you will see that I'm using an older version of Blogger when I show how to embed a Photo Peach show, but I think you will get the idea and have no problems in the new version. If you need help, let me know! :)

How to use Photo Peach

Create your own photo quiz in Photo Peach and embed it into your blog.

I hope you enjoyed exploring these online photo tools. Some of these tools are not appropriate for use with younger students because they require you to sign up for an account, but they are great tools for teachers.

Your final task is to reflect on these three tools and how you can use them as a teacher (or in your personal life). Write your reflections in a blog post. Be sure to visit some of your colleagues sites, check out their photo creations, and give them some feedback by commenting on their posts. :)

Here’s a checklist of this week’s required tasks:

Thing 10:
  • Log in to your Picasaweb account and upload photos to an album.
  • Create a slideshow in Picasaweb and embed it into a blog post on your Blogger blog
Thing 11:
  • Create an Animoto account. Sign up for the free Educator account.
  • Create a video in Animoto and embed it into a blog post.
Thing 12:
  • Sign up for a Photo Peach Account.
  • Create a photo quiz and embed it into a blog post.
Reflection tasks:
  • Write a blog post that shares your reflections on these three tools and how you could use them as a teacher and/or in your personal life.
  • Visit some of your colleagues' sites and see their photo creations. :) Be sure to comment on their blog post to give them feedback!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Week 4 - RSS and Aggregators

Week 4 is going to introduce you to the concept of RSS feeds and aggregators. Don't you just love all of the crazy terms you are learning as we explore these online tools? Diigo, RSS, Aggregators - sounds like a foreign language. :)

Thing 8 - Learn about RSS

RSS is basically a special type of computer code that lets users know when new content is added to their favorite websites. It's called an RSS feed because you are basically being fed information instead of having to go out on your own and find the new information. The new content comes to you in a special program called an aggregator, or feed reader. The feed reader we will be using is Feedly

Here is a short video clip that does a great job of explaining the concept of an RSS feed. It will mention using Google Reader as your aggregator/feed reader, but Google Reader no longer exists. Feedly functions very much like Google Reader. 

Thing 9 - Add feeds to your reader

Now it's time for you to set up your own Feedly account. Watch the following video to learn how to add sites to your aggregator and how to read the feeds once you subscribe. When you do sign up for your Feedly account, you will be using your Google account information (the same info you use for your blogger blog - should be your school email address and whatever password you use).

Your task is to add the feeds of all of your classmates' blogs and our 21 Things blog to your reader. Remember, you can find their blog addresses on the sidebar of our course blog. Now you won't have to visit each site to see if your colleagues have posted new content. The content will come to you! I encourage you to keep posting comments on each others' blogs so that you are able to share thoughts and ideas. 

Your final task is to write a post on your blog sharing your thoughts and experiences with RSS and Feedly. Specifically think about how this can benefit you as a teacher.

For the over-achiever ;)

Add the feed of the blog you shared with the group during Week 2. You might add the feeds of other blogs shared by your colleagues that you found interesting. Challenge yourself even more by searching for new blogs of interest. If you find a blog you like, add the site to your reader. :) If you find something you think the group would like, be sure to share the site address with everyone by adding a comment to this post.

Here's a checklist of this week's required tasks:

Thing 8:
  • Watch the video RSS in Plain English

Thing 9:
  • Watch the video How to Use Feedly
  • Set up your Feedly account
  • Add all of your classmates blogs to your reader
  • Add the 21 Things course blog to your reader
  • Write a post on your blog sharing your reflections on RSS and Google Reader and how it can benefit you as a teacher.

Optional tasks:
  • Add the blog you posted about in Week 2 to your reader
  • Search for new feeds and add them to your reader - share those feeds with the group by posting a comment on this week's blog post

Monday, September 23, 2013

Week 3: Communicating via your blog and Social Bookmarking

Congratulations on making it to week 3 of our online adventure! If you are on track, you have completed Things 1-5. You’ve read and navigated a blog, learned to post a comment, you’ve created your own blog to reflect on our course activities, written your own post, linked to another website, added a widget to your blog, and have shared your thoughts on how blogging can be used in education. That’s a lot of stuff for just a couple of weeks. Pat yourself on the back. You deserve it!  This week, we are going to focus on making on connections with your fellow classmates.

Thing 6 -Communicating via your blog

One the great things about blogs is the capability to connect with other people who have similar interests. For Thing 6, you are going to comment on some of your colleagues’ new blogs. Because this course is mainly online, it will be important for you to take time to read the reflections of your classmates on their blogs as you all work on the tasks for each week. One of the goals of the course is for you to have some sense of community, even though you are working independently online. We will all get so much more out of the course if we share our thoughts and ideas and provide feedback to each other. I’m always amazed at how much I learn from other educators that I communicate with online via blogs and other social media.

So, here’s your task for Thing 6. Choose at least 3 of your colleagues’ blogs (see the sidebar on the right), and post a comment on their first post. Be sure you sign your name to your comment. I have really enjoyed reading everyone’s thoughts on blogging in education, and it was interesting to see the blogs you linked to as being of interest to you. If you haven’t posted your blog yet, make sure you do so as soon as possible so that you will get some comments from your colleagues from this week’s assignment. Let’s try to “share the comment love” and if you notice that someone’s blog has not received any comments yet, you might choose to give them some feedback.  I want you to get in the habit of reading each other’s reflections each week and communicate with each other.

For the over-achiever:
Add a photo of yourself to your blog profile. You can see an example of this on this blog. Just take a look on the right sidebar where it says About Me. You’ll see a cartoon photograph of me. Having a photo of yourself on your blog will give it a more personal feel and will let your online friends put a face to your name. Here’s a video that shows you how to do this step-by-step.

Adding a Photo to Your Blogger Profile -

Thing 7 – Social Bookmarking

Social bookmarking is a great way to organize all of the websites you like to use, and it lets you keep them in one place where you can access them anywhere you have internet access. Even better, it lets you share them with others! Watch the following video to get a great explanation of social bookmarking. Note: The video reference a site called Delicious. We will not be using that site for our bookmarking. We will be using a newer, more powerful site called Diigo. But, the video is still a great intro to the concept.

Social Bookmarking in Plain English -

Now that you get the basic idea of what social bookmarking is and why you would want to use it as an educator, let’s take a look at Diigo, the tool we will be using in our workshop.

Diigo V5: Collect and Highlight, Then Remember! from diigobuzz on Vimeo.

Pretty neat, isn’t it? Watch the following three short videos to learn how you can use Diigo to “research, share, and collaborate”. I think it will give you more of a feel of how powerful this tool can be.

Your next step is to sign up for your own Diigo account. The following tutorial video will walk you through the process.

 How to sign up for a Diigo account -

Now that you have your account set up, you need to add the Diigo toolbar to your web browser. Here’s a video tutorial to show you what to do.

How to add the Diigo Toolbar to Your Web Browser -

Next, you want to add some bookmarks.   I suggest bookmarking our 21 Things blog and the blogs of your colleagues. You can also add any other sites you wish. Here’s how to do it:

How to Add a Bookmark Using Diigo -

If you want to explore more features of the program, check out the Diigo help page.

Your final task this week is to write your reflection post on your blog. Share your thoughts about how you might be able to use social bookmarking in your job.

Here’s a checklist of this week’s tasks:

Thing 6:
  • comment on 3 classmates blog posts (see the sidebar for links to their sites)
  • add a photo to your blog profile (optional)
Thing 7:
  • Watch the Common Craft video on social bookmarking
  • Watch the Diigo overview video
  • Watch the 3 Diigo videos to get a more in-depth feel for the program
  • Set up your own Diigo account
  • Install the Diigo toolbar on your web browser
  • Bookmark some websites using the Diigo bookmark feature
  • Write your reflection post on your own blog about this week’s tasks

Don’t forget that we have our first optional face-to-face session on Tuesday, October 1 at 4:00 in the Cedar Ridge Intermediate library. We can look more in depth at Diigo, I can show you more features of your blog (especially how to remove the nav bar if you made one to use with your students), and you’ll get to meet everyone in person.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Week 2: Blogging

Welcome to week 2! I hope you got a chance to read everyone’s introductions from week 1. I know I enjoyed getting to know each of you a bit more.  This week we dive right in to the good stuff. It’s time to get your hands on some great online tools you can use in the classroom and for your own personal use.

Blogs are one web 2.0 tool you can easily use in your classroom to communicate with students, parents, other teachers, and your community. If you aren’t very familiar with the concept of blogging, be sure to watch the video “Blogs in Plain English” lined on the Week 1 post. It provides a great overview of blogging.

Thing 3: Create a Blog

One of the main ways you will be demonstrating and sharing what you learn in this course is through your own blog. For the purposes of this workshop, we are going to use Blogger to create your blog. There are many other free blog sites available online, but Blogger is very easy to use and quick to set up. You will use this blog to post reflections on each of your weekly assignments. I also chose to have you use Blogger because it is a great site to use if you ever want to create a personal, non-school related blog. It is the program I use for my What’s for Dinner? blog.

Important: Blogger does have one main drawback for using it with students – the “next blog” button. At the top of all Blogger blogs, you will see a navigation bar (see as an example). One of the options on this bar is a button that randomly takes to you to another blog created with Blogger. You can imagine that this would be pretty risky in an education setting. You never know what might show up when you click the button. Luckily Blogger now has an option to get rid of the Navbar! If you ever use Blogger to create a blog for a student project, be sure to turn off the Navbar. Just go to Settings, Layout, edit the Navbar, and set it to Off. 

Go to the, and follow the prompts to create your blog. Log in with your Branson Google account (your school email address) and follow the prompts to set up your blog. The following video tutorial gives an overview on setting up a blog in Blogger.

Once you create your blog, be sure to email me a link to your new blog address.

Thing 4: Create a blog post and link to a website

Once you have your blog created in Blogger, your next task is to create your first post. The topic of your post should be on blogging in education. More specifically, I want you to think about why you would use a blog in your teaching. The following two articles provide some thoughts on why teachers should blog and why students should blog. Read both articles to help you get ideas for your post.

I also want you to find an example of an education blog that you find inspiring. Here are two sites where you can find examples of education blogs. You can also do a search on Google for the topic in which you are interested (i.e. High School English blog). Create a link to that blog in your post (see the tech tip below if you are unsure how to link), and be sure to include in the post the reason that blog was inspiring to youIf you don't know how to add a link to a site in a post see the Tech Tip below.

Edublogs Awards

The following video tutorial shows you how to add a post to your blog.

Adding a Post in Blogger

 This video gives you an overview of the Blogger Dashboard so you can see what each of the menu items contains. 

Thing 5: Add a Gadget/Widget to your blog

A gadget (sometimes called a widget) is a separate little program that you can embed into a blog. Blogger has several gadgets you can add to your blog such as polls, slideshows, follow by email, etc. The last part of your task for week 2 is to add a gadget/widget to your blog. The following video shows you how to add a gadget.

Adding a Gadget to a Blogger Blog

As always, if you have any questions as you work through the assignments, please post a comment to this post, or send me an email. Good luck, and I hope you enjoy creating your Blogger blog. 
Tech Tip: How to add a link in Blogger
1. Go to the website to which you want to link and copy the website address.
2. Now go to your blog post and type the name of the site you want to which you want to link (i.e. Cindy’s Blog).
3. Click and drag to highlight that text, and then click on the Link button above the post box.
4. A dialogue box will pop up. Make sure the link to web address choice is selected. Paste the address you copied earlier into the link box.
5. Your text should now be linked.
For the over-achiever ;)

These are just options for those who are already comfortable with blog creation. They are not a required part of your assignment this week.

Try customizing the look of your blog page. The Overview video above will get you started. 

Try adding a You Tube video in a blog post. The following tutorial will show you how. It is in the old Blogger format, but you can probably figure it out on the new version if you're up for a challenge.
How to add a You Tube video in your blog

There's a lot of information in this week's assignment, so here's a checklist of this week's tasks:

Thing 3:

  • Create your own blog using Blogger for the purpose of completing the assignments for this course.
  • Send me an email with your new blog address.
Thing 4:
  • Read the two articles about why you might choose to blog as an educator.
  • Create your first post on your blog telling why you might use a blog in your teaching.
  • Explore other educational blogs using the links listed in the assignment or just do a Google search for blogs in your grade level/subject area. Find a blog that you find inspiring.
  • Create a link in your post to that blog and include the reason the blog was inspiring to you.
Thing 5:
  • Add a gadget to your blog.

  • Customize the look of your blog.
  • Add a You Tube video to a post.