Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Needle in a Haystack!

Google is great. Really great. But sometimes, we need to refine what we are searching for beyond what regular search engines offer! Check out these alternative routes to find exactly what you’ve been searching for!

Visual learner? Check out THIS search engine. It provides a (flash-enabled) visual map of the items found based on your keyword search. You can even narrow down search results by country or related keywords. Very impressive.

Like narrowed down topics or choices? Kwmap may be the perfect choice for you! Type in your keyword and it automatically narrows down that particular word in sub-categories to help you search for more information, more efficiently. It is a nice mix of imagery utilizing a “navigator panel” and text “keywords list” to help you complete your search.

Need to see the big picture for your searches? Soovle is your solution! How does it work? Type in your keyword and as you are typing, it categorizes and shows the top results from ALL of the major search engines. It covers Google, Wikipedia,,, YouTube, Yahoo! and Ask.

Know of some great sites that provide the content and information you need? Try looking at similicio – this site finds similar sites that may interest you! Simply type in a website address that you like, and it will search the entire Internet and return websites quite similar to what you were already looking at. Definitely saves some search time.

This list wouldn’t be complete without adding Google in somewhere! Need information that is sure to assist with your academic and intellectual needs? Google Scholar is your answer! All keywords entered will provide scholarly literature results.

Search Cube is a search engine powered by Google! Offers a new "spin" on typical search engines. All searches are gathered in the form of a visual cube. Eye candy for sure.

Refine your search! Find exactly what you need, when you need it, how you need it.

Friday, March 20, 2009

My Tweet. Your Voice.

Technology in the classroom. 21st Century Learning. Technological and educational collaboration. What do all of these things mean? Well… let’s find out what it means to you!

Be creative... tell me (USING ONLY ONE WORD) what students gain from using technology in their classrooms.

How do you respond? By using! What is Twitter? An online tool that allows you to collaborate/talk to others while only using a limited number of words to communicate. It provides the capability to instantly send and receive ideas and messages.

Follow these steps to get started…

· Visit
· Click the “Get Started-Join” button mid-way down the page
· Fill in the (quick) info to create your own account
· Once you have created an account and you are logged in, click “Find People” at the top
· In the search box, type in “aprilpatt” (That’s me!)
· Click on my name, and my question (tweet) will appear.
· Simply click on the small arrow (underneath the star) to add your response!
· Want to follow the responses for yourself? Simply click “follow” and it will allow you to follow the responses as they are added (you must be logged in to see the responses)

Are you more of a visual learner? Take 2 minutes, 25 seconds to watch this Twitter tutorial about what makes Twitter work. Keep in mind that ALL tweets are public! or at

Check out this video of how some 2nd graders (yes, 8 year olds!!) are using Twitter in their classroom.

There are so many technological tools and resources around us. Let’s figure out positive and educational ways to incorporate them into our daily curriculums. Remember, with all online tools, you absolutely MUST teach online safety at the same time you introduce the tools. Constant teacher observation and computer screen monitoring is also an absolute must!

I look forward to your tweets and will post them on this blog later. Not sure you want to create a Twitter account? Feel free to simply add a comment to this blog post.

What are the directions and the question again?

“Be creative... tell me (USING ONLY ONE WORD) what students gain from using technology in their classrooms.”

Friday, March 13, 2009

Communicate, Collaborate, Connect

Last week, I had the privilege of attending the 2009 NCTIES conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. NCTIES is the acronym for North Carolina Technology in Education Society. “The mission of NCTIES is to provide leadership in educational communications and technology by linking all who hold a common interest in the use of educational technology and its application to the learning process.”

The tagline used by NCTIES gives pause for reflection… Communicate, Collaborate, Connect. In this, the 21st Century, those words are powerful. Let’s look at each one individually and then collectively.

According to Webster, their definitions are as follows…

Communicate: to convey knowledge of or information about; make known

Collaborate: to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor

Connect: to become joined; to place or establish in relationship

Collectively, those three words can easily be used to shape and define the skills that are developed through the use of 21st Century classroom initiatives! What comes into play?

· Telecommunications (Skype, Twitter, etc.)
· Global Communities (Quest Atlantis, ePals, etc.)
· Wikis (PBwiki)
· Blogs (Blogger)
· Shared Documents (Google Docs)
· RSS Readers (Google Reader)
· Social Bookmarking (Delicious)
· Moodle
· Video-Conferencing
· The list goes on and on….

How will you communicate? How will you collaborate? How will you connect? The tools are already in place – just add creativity. Your students will appreciate it.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Can You Hear Me Now?

Telecommunications: “The science and technology of the communication of messages over a distance, especially using electric, electronic or electromagnetic impulses.” (Definition courtesy of

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol): “VoIP is voice communications transmitted over the Internet.” (Definition courtesy of the network glossary found on

What do the definitions above REALLY mean? Ask yourself these two questions… How do I communicate? What device do I use to communicate with? Enough said. If you believe successful communication can only be achieved with your home phone, mobile phone or email – it’s time to change your way of thinking!

Take a look at three of the 21st century ways to communicate with others. Best of all… they are FREE.

Skype – software that allows you to make calls via the internet.
· You must download the software in order to use the internet calling features
· As long as you are dialing from one computer to another, calls are free (VoIP)
· Charges apply if you dial to an actual phone number!
· Webcam is optional – only if you want to see the person while you speak
· Built-in Microphone or Headset – personal preference. But, you must have a mic in order for the other party to hear you.

DimDim – web conferencing/video conferencing online application
· Allows you to share your desktop with others as you collaborate on projects
· Can easily chat and/or talk to your meeting attendees
· Great for meetings or for people in different locations who need to meet
· No downloads required
· Need help getting started? There is a 3 minute tutorial on the homepage.
· Did I mention… free! (as long as you don’t invite more than 20 people to your meeting!)

uStream - instant live broadcasts online
· No downloads required
· Must create an account
· Webcam necessary to broadcast
· Free!

How can you incorporate 21st century telecommunications into your classroom? Easy! Get on board with creating a global community right inside your class. Global communities? That is a blog post for another day.

TECH TIP: Texting is nothing new and is actually gaining greater popularity every day. But, are you slow with your thumbs? Don’t worry! Depending on your mobile phone carrier, you can also send text messages from online. Check out your mobile phone service provider’s website to see if they offer this feature. Most do!