Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Summer Tech Challenge So Far

I have to say, when I cooked up the idea for the Summer Tech Challenge, I wasn't sure what to expect. I wasn't sure how many people would participate. I wasn't sure if people would see that they had to blog and they had to Tweet to participate, if they would participate at all. Lots of unknowns for this summer's tech training.

But I have to say, I am pleasantly surprised at what has transpired thus far. I had one person race through the challenges and is just waiting for other people to catch up so she can finish her blog comments. I have others who started quickly and have since slowed down. I have had people not even in our district ask if they could complete the Summer Tech Challenge (the more the merrier I say). And we had some new people register for the challenge this week.

We have had some excellent, thoughtful, reflective blog posts. I see some new people on Twitter. I think we have some new Pinterest addicts. People are liking TED Talks videos. The verdict is still out on ClassBadges--although I am having fun awarding badges when people complete a challenge.

What I hoped would happen through the Summer Tech Challenge is that anyone who participates would start to connect with others in the district. Sometimes we are so confined to our classrooms and our buildings, we forget that we have some wonderful and talented teachers all across our district. I was hoping people would start to make connections and learn from others. I hope these connections don't stop once the challenge is over but continue on. I believe this is an important step in building a PLN (Personal Learning Network). We forget that people in our PLN can be local too! (Yes, I'm talking about you Lisa Pospishil--important member of my PLN!)

If you haven't jumped in on the challenge yet, it's not too late! You don't have to need professional growth points to participate. If you want to go through the challenges and not submit the completion forms, go for it. But if you are doing it for professional growth, please be sure to submit the form after each challenge.

I have really enjoyed the Summer Tech Challenge so far. I have loved reading the blog posts of so many first time bloggers. I love seeing what you guys are tweeting with our #npsstc. And I love seeing you connect with other people in the district. I think that is what I am most proud of.

So, keep up the good work! And don't forget to share and ask questions via Twitter!

Sunday, June 2, 2013


GoAnimate is a fun site that allows you to create animated videos like this one:

SH Summer Tech Challenge by Mickie Mueller on GoAnimate

I think students would love making animated videos. Like so many of the tools in the Summer Tech Challenge, GoAnimate could be another way students could show what they have learned. For example, in history class, have students make a modern day version of George Washington crossing the Delaware. Or in a literature class, have students reenact a scene from Romeo and Juliet only setting it in modern times. Both of these examples would definitely give you an idea whether or not your students understood what was happening in each of those situations.

You could also use GoAnimate to introduce a unit of study. You could put together a video and share it with students prior to starting the unit.

Math teachers could have students create videos for factoring or explaining a proof or pointing out the geometric shapes that they see on a daily basis. GoAnimate could be used in just about every subject area.

Be sure to check out the GoAnimate Lesson Gallery for other ideas!


It's no secret. I LOVE LiveBinders! When I first started using LiveBinders, I used it as a way to keep track of my favorite websites. I thought LiveBinders was so much better than bookmarking a site. With LiveBinders, you actually go to to see what the site looked like. When you bookmark a site, you get a name and you may or may not remember what the site looks like. The first LiveBinder I created was Free Technology Tools for Teachers. It has become kind of famous being named one of the Top 10 LiveBinders of 2012 and featured on the LiveBinders website. I add something new to this binder almost every day. It now has well over 300 free tools in it.

Free Technology Tools for Teachers

I've since created several other binders to keep track of things like Google resources and iPad apps. I've even created a binder that I use as a personal portfolio. This binder has all of the training materials that I have developed in it.

But my favorite binder has to be a binder I created for a teacher who asked me for help. She wanted her students to do a final project but she didn't want them to use PowerPoint. So I created a LiveBinder called Alternatives to PowerPoint. I found several tools her students could use instead of PowerPoint. The binder has links to the tools as well as tutorials and videos on using the tools. The idea was for students to use this binder to teach themselves the tool. The teacher didn't have to be an expert in using all of these tools. Everything students needed was in the binder. Give it a look.

Alternatives to PowerPoint

There are so many ways you could use LiveBinders with students or for yourself. Here are some of my favorite LiveBinders that other people have done.

Google Presentation

I love Google Presentation. It is simple to use and creates great embeddable presentations like this one:

One of my most favorite features of Google Presentation is the ability to add YouTube videos. Google makes it so simple! (You can see a video added to Slide 4 of the above presentation.) If you have ever tried to add a video of any kind to PowerPoint, you will appreciate how easy it is to add a video in Google Presentations.

I also love the ability to collaborate with others on a Presentation. No more emailing attachments and files back and forth. Simply share the Presentation and voila! Having students do a group presentation would be easy with Google Presentations.

I hate all of the flying animations and whirlygig transitions in PowerPoint. I love how simple the effects are in Google Presentations. And I love it even more if you don't have to use them!


Voki is a site that has been around for awhile. Voki allows you to create speaking avatars such as this one:

Students love Voki, especially elementary students. But don't think this site is just for younger students. Because you have the ability to record your own voice for the Voki, this would be perfect to use in a foreign language classroom. Instead of giving an oral quiz, have the students create Vokis for the quiz instead.

Another idea would be to have students create Vokis to share their latest poem. Again you could have the students record themselves reading the poem and that becomes the Vokis voice.

I love the ability to embed the Voki. Your students could embed the Voki in their blog or on their website. Or you could create a Voki page on your SchoolFusion page or class website and have the students send you the embed code for their Voki. What a great way to share what your students have created.

Be sure to visit the Voki Lesson Plan Database for other ideas on using Voki in your classroom!


I first found Glogster several years ago. When I first signed up for Glogster, the free basic teacher account was a lot more powerful. You could create a class and add students to the class. You could then access your students Glogs. They have since changed the free basic teacher account so that it is just that, an account. You don't have the ability with this level of account to have classes and add students to your classes. But you and your students can have free accounts. In order to see your students Glogs, they will have to share the URL of the Glog with you.

I used Glogster in a couple of different classes. In IT Fundamentals, I had students do a project on a famous computer person. Instead of having students write a report or do a presentation on the person, I had students make a Glog. They were still giving me the same information I would have wanted in a report or presentation, but Glogster allowed them I think to be more creative and make the project interactive. They could include links to websites and YouTube videos in Glog. While they could include a link in a report, I would have had to go to the computer and enter the link in order to see the site. With Glogster, I just clicked on it. Here is an example I did on Grace Hopper.

In my IT Apps 2 class, I had the students make a portfolio of their work. Throughout this class students did several Photoshop projects. Their portfolio Glog included all of their projects along with an explanation of the project. Here is a sample.

I love Glogster and the possibilities it gives students to show their creativity. I would love to see more teachers give students options to showcase their learning. I think Glogster would be a great option.