Welcome to Jennie Magiera's Technology in Education Blog:

Redefining the (digital) Classroom

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Reflecting on 2013 through Social Media

As each year comes to a close, we all tend to get reflective. We look back on the past 12 months and think about what we've done, what we've accomplished and set goals for the new year. More and more recently, social media has stepped up to help us with this charge. From Facebook to Google+, there are now more ways to visually reflect on your trip around the sun.

Here are some interesting year-in-review social media recaps you can explore:

Another interesting thing I started doing... which isn't really about reflecting on my entire year but more my recent activity, is to explore which sites I've been visiting most frequently by checking out my OmniBox's auto-fill. I just typed in a, then b, then c, etc and saw what popped up!

So, here they are:

A ausl-chicago.org/schools
B bit.ly
C calendar.google.com
D drive.google.com
E evite.com
F facebook.com
G gmail.com
H hapara.com
I imdb.com
J jerryssandwiches.com
K kayak.com
L linkedin.com
M maps.google.com
N newyorktimes.com
O opentable.com
P plus.google.com
Q quadblogging.net
R realtimeboard.com
S schoology.com
T twitter.com
U united.com
V volume.itunes.apple.com
W wallet.google.com
X ---
Y youtube.com
Z zaption.com

Hope you enjoy reviewing your year and recent activity. Here's to a Happy New Year for all!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Five Ways to Power Up over Break

A cross post from my EdWeek Blog:
Many educators are enjoying their winter break. This time is great for connecting with family, enjoying holiday traditions, travel or catching up on much-needed rest. And yet after the big meals, parties and festivities are done, this might also be a perfect time to power up on some new digital learning ideas to jump start 2014. Here are a few things to check out in your down time.
#1 Create a Class Twitter Account
Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 11.05.34 AM.pngAs your students explore, learn and grow, it is great to chronicle their journey. Amplify their voices and experiences with social media! Creating a class Twitterhandle or Tumblr account will allow you to share the magic that happens in your classroom with your students' families as well as other educators and experts around the world. Twitter is best for quick, 140-character thoughts collected from your students or asking quick questions. Tumbler is great for sharing photos of learning, student work or field trips. In both cases, be sure to speak with your principal to find out what your district's policy on social media is and also get permission from parents before posting anything of or by their children. Once all of the paperwork is complete, encourage your students to share their thoughts and create a positive digital footprint! Recently a kindergarten teacher colleague tweeted to Mercer Mayer and got him to read one of his Little Critter books to the all of the school's primary students! It's great moments like this that shine a light on how social media can be a true friend to educators.
#2 Jazz Up Your Presentations
A lot of educators are using PowerPoint to teach lessons and present content to their students. However, the same old stale bullet points and word art can get a bit dull. Lucky for us that the iPad app, Haiku Deck, is now available on web browsers for our desktops! Try jazzing up your lessons with visually stunning slides and simple text. Explore how to leverage this free tool to allow your students to communicate content to one another and world... then tweet it!
#3 Create a Library of Your Own Digital Content
Beyond slideshow presentations are video lessons. Get started on flipping your classroom or cloning yourself in-class through differentiated video content. To do this, check out Explain Everything - a great app that is available on both iOS and Android devices. Explain Everything will allow you to... well... explain everything. From creating screencast videos showing your students how to multiply to annotating over primary source documents or creating interactive texts for your students to read along during class, this app has a myriad of different possibilities.
#4 Start Your Own Blog
Maybe you already have a class Twitter handle. Or perhaps 140 characters isn't enough for you to share what you've got cooking in the classroom. Create a class blog! Try KidBlog for your students or Blogger for yourself. This online-journal will allow you and your students to reflect on your learning and share with the world! It doesn't matter if you feel that you're a content expert or a tech newbie. We all have stories to tell, and students whose voices should be heard.
#5 Automate Your Life
Tired of grading quizzes? Sick of sending dozens of repetitive emails to parents, colleagues or students? Having trouble scheduling conferences or appointments? Try some automated tricks! Check out Jay Atwood's Sandbox - a great website full of tutorials on how to use automagical tools like Google Scripts, Gmail labs and other super helpful workflows!
Whether you dig into one or all of these ideas, or you find some of your own, break is a great time to brew a hot cup of caffeine, sit in your jammies and dig into some cool new ideas. What are your plans for powering up on EdTech over break? Share them below!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

11 Shining Blogs

Thanks to MathyCathy aka Cathy Yenca and Craig Dunlap for listing me on their Sunshine Award blogs! This is something that's being passed around from blogger to blogger. True, it is a bit of a blog-afied chain letter, and while I normally try to stay away from chain letters, the Sunshine award is a great opportunity to learn more about 11 other bloggers and share their voices. And plus, 'tis the season of sharing, so here I go. Here are the details from Cathy's post: 
  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger. (Thank you Cathy and Craig!)
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself. 
  3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  4. List 11 bloggers. They should be bloggers you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love!
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.)
11 Random Facts About Me
  1. My last name is pronounced Muh-gare-uh. Hard g, long "a".
  2. I was a varsity weightlifter in high school.
  3. I won tournaments because there was no one else in my weight class and all I had to do was lift the bar. A "girl bar" that weighed 35 lbs. 
  4. I love karaoke but am a horrible singer.
  5. I am a huge Star Wars nerd. I've read all the books and even made my own Sabacc game when I was in middle school. 
  6. I have a black and silver miniature Schnauzer named Pepper. Despite her manly schnauzer features, she is a girl.
  7. I have the same weird thumbs as Megan Fox, but that's where our similarities end. 
  8. I don't like fruits or vegetables.
  9. I put Tabasco sauce on everything.
  10. I was born just outside of Boston, moved to Orlando when I was 6, went to boarding school in NH and then college in NYC. Now I live in Chicago.
  11. When I was little, I thought Chicago was a state.

Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  1. What’s your favorite thing about blogging? I love connecting with fellow educators and hearing what they think! So getting comments, challenges and ideas about my posts is my favorite thing.
  2. Favorite hobby? Eating out. I like to cook, but I love restaurants. I even have a Google Doc of my Chicago faves: tinyurl.com/jennielovesfood
  3. Favorite movie of all time? That's really hard... I don't think I have a #1 favorite. I love Sci-Fi, Comic Book movies and anything by Hayao Miyazaki.
  4. Favorite place to travel? Hawaii or Northern California
  5. Favorite Twitter chat? Also can't pick a favorite here!
  6. Favorite educational website? I love Jay Atwood's Sandbox! Scripty fun!
  7. Least favorite food? All fruits and vegetables. But if I had to pick one, raw onions.
  8. Favorite book you’ve read in 2013? Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath
  9. Your unique talent? Not sure I have any... I'm a fast typer....?
  10. Proudest moment? Meeting the President :).
  11. Funniest thing you ever said in front of a group of students/educators? Once my husband gChatted me in the middle of a presentation: "I just took the best poop at work". I didn't notice for a few minutes. The audience (of teachers/administrators) just about died laughing.
Finally, according to the Sunshine Award rules, it’s my turn to ask 11 questions of my nominees... and I'm stealing these from Mathy Cathy because I'm lazy ;)...
  1. What’s your favorite thing about blogging? 
  2. Favorite hobby?
  3. Favorite movie of all time? 
  4. Favorite place to travel?
  5. Favorite Twitter chat? 
  6. Favorite educational website? 
  7. Least favorite food? 
  8. Favorite book you’ve read in 2013? 
  9. Your unique talent?
  10. Proudest moment? 
  11. Funniest thing you ever said in front of a group of students/educators? 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Fine Tune your Font Selections!

Once I was in a PD where they asked us what our super power is. We went around and said things like "Masterful Mediator" or "Powerful Procrastinator". But one person said "Font-Man"... by which he meant he could pick the perfect font for any occasion. Not only did I find this hilarious, but incredibly useful. I have a few friends like this... Carolyn Skibba can name a font just by looking at it. I would love to have this super power. I spend way, way too much time selecting the just-right font for that presentation, invitation or poster. Now that I've found the Google Fonts site, I too can be Font-Man!! Err.. or Font-Woman.

The Google Fonts site is simple, it's a font selector. It allows you to toggle the settings you desire for Thickness, Slant and Width. It even allows you to type your own "sample text" and see a single word, paragraph or a poster. I've already updated several projects with fine-tuned fonts in the past few minutes.

Check it out and see if this saves some time and improves some aesthetics for you as well!