Thursday, December 23, 2010

Lego Starburst Machine

My son wanted to build a candy machine out of legos. He found a way using some videos from YouTube and using some of his own intuition. Here is his Lego Starburst Machine. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My Top Five Tech Tools

After reading the recent NETA newsletter, my friend and colleague, Jason Everett (ESU 10), wrote an article about what he calls “The Top Five Tech Tools for Teachers.” As I read his article, I asked myself, “What are my top five tech tools?” What do I use almost daily or often enough to be considered the top five? So, here are my Top Five Tech Tools:

Number One: As I write this article, I am using Google Docs. I cannot begin to share how helpful this application has become in my work. I can put up a document as a draft and invite members to collaborate. I use Google Docs for meetings, for handouts at workshops, and for gathering my thoughts to share with others. For me, it is all about collaboration. The more I can get people to collaborate with me, the better my writing becomes.

Number Two: My blog. I use my blog ( to communicate the things I write and make them available to anyone in the world. It provides a public space for my thoughts. It allows me to get feedback on what people think of my ideas. There are all kinds of blogs out there for people to follow - educational blogs, personal blogs. Blogs for moms and dads, etc.

Number Three: iChat. iChat is a Mac product, but I can use the same type of app on my Windows machine using AIM instant messaging. It is a place where I can help people troubleshoot problems they may be having with their computer or simply to offer advice. The nice thing about this software is that it is instant communication vs. waiting for an email to arrive. With email, I have to respond, then wait for a response. With iChat, I can continuously converse with other people. I can even have more than one conversation at a time. Talk about multi-tasking! Try it out for yourself and iChat with me at

Number Four: My iPod Touch. I am finding that my iPod Touch can do everything I can do on my computer, only the screen is a little smaller. I use it when I go to meetings because it is a more mobile device than my laptop. I can use it to access my email, to iChat, to look up my Google Docs. It is all integrated and synced with the things on my computer. All my calendars and contacts are stored on my iPod Touch as well. I use it to download podcasts to listen to while I am traveling. With the new iPod Touch, I can even use it as a video camera as well as a digital camera.

Number Five: My cell phone. I don’t leave home without it! Few people disagree on the value of their cell phones today. If you have a smart phone, most can do all of the tasks mentioned above for the iPod Touch.  Droids and the iPhone are easily the top two smart phones on the market today. Since I cannot use an iPhone because of service restrictions, I carry a simple cell phone with me and use my iPod Touch for the things an iPhone can do.

If you have not read the latest NETA newsletter, it is full of useful information and you can get it for free at the NETA site ( Click on Resources on the left and it will take to the newsletter section. As you think about my top five tech tools, I’d like to ask what are your top five tech tools?  Do you introduce them to your students? If so, then ask your students what their top five tools would be.  And finally, I’d like to ask if you are using the tools in the classroom that students use outside of school? Do you have a plan to implement any of these tools into your curriculum? Is your school thinking about ways to allow these tools inside your school if they aren’t currently allowed?  These are all questions that schools should be considering. As always, I’d enjoy having this conversation with you, your district, or your technology committee.