Archive for October, 2007

The Future is Here! Emerging Technologies in the Classroom

Posted on October 24, 2007. Filed under: EdTech |

It is harder than ever to keep students engaged in the classroom. But while a majority of the people in the session believe that technology does help students learn, they also feel that only about a quarter of teachers in their district or school effectively integrate technology into their lessons.

While blogging may not be an emerging technology anymore, many schools and districts are just now realizing the power and impact it can have on education. Greenville County Schoolsrecommends two blogging sites – Edublogs and WordPress. Edublogs is best for classroom use, while WordPress works well at the district level.

How can you use blogging in the classroom? Have your students post journal entries as historical figures sharing their thoughts and feelings as they traversed oceans or continents. Students can record data from scientific experiments and post their observations. Or they can post summaries of the day’s lesson for students who may have been absent or did not understand the concepts fully. Blogs give educators the opportunity to open up their classroom to the world. Of course, safety considerations need to be accounted for – students should not post personal information or their full names. It is important to be aware of the Child Online Privacy Protection Act(COPPA) – if you aren’t aware already, make yourself familiar with this act and its recommended guidelines.

Vlogging is a video blog. We are using vlogs to share little snipets about emerging technologies. VlogIt! from Adobeis a great piece of software that produces high quality videos. It is inexpensive – $29, combine it with a simple webcam and you and your students can create video projects in the classroom.

Google Docs and Spreadsheetsis a powerful online collaborative tool. Google Docs has an online word processor, formula spreadsheet, and a presentation tool. They are not Microsoft, but have a similar graphical interface. All of these documents, spreadsheets, and presentations can be opened, edited, and saved – as well as printed and exported into other file formats.

Google Docs is free and allows educators to track the changes made to the document. Students can post their writing for the teacher and the teacher can make comments. Groups of students can collaborate online on a project versus driving to a common place or sending multiple emails. Only those who are invited can read or write to the files.

CrazyTalk4 and iClone from RealIllusionallows educators to create animations and bring classroom content to life. One of the projects that was created in Greenville County was a video summary of the The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe posted on TeacherTube. Contact RealIllusion for pricing, or download a 30-day trial from their site.

The Upstate Technology Conference is a great place to work with some of these tools mentioned here in a hands-on setting. The Call for Proposals and Participant Registrationhave just opened. Please plan on attending UTC this summer – it’s free and there are multiple opportunities to win great prizes.

What are you doing in your classroom that is different from what we shared at EdTech today? Are there any great tools that you would be willing to share? Post your comments now…

If you need handouts, please email Jeff McCoy ( or Tim Van Heule (

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CrazyTalk: Creating Engaging Projects to Encourage the Writing Process

Posted on October 15, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |

It is always difficult to engage students today. Technology seems to be almost the only thing they relate to and this generation of students is the most tech savvy generation yet. When I first started my job as director, there were those teachers who still held on to the idea that technology was a fad that would soon pass. Fortunately, most teachers today have changed their opinion and realize the technology in the classroom is here to stay.  So now, the challenge becomes how to use technology appropriately to meet the standards and objectives and engage students.

I am fortunate enough to attend NECC each year. This conference is the national technology conference and a must see for teachers and district level administration. While I was there this year, I stumbled across several products that I think have the potential to engage students and make learning fun while meeting objectives. Just like any other technology in the classroom, it has to be used effectively or it’s a waste of time.

CrazyTalk  4 is an animation program that allows users to take still images and animate them. When I first saw the product demonstrated, I was amazed at the simplicity. You can animate a still photo in less than 30 seconds! I am always looking for new technology tools for teachers and this one is sure to be a hit with students. We already have several classrooms experiencing Crazy Talk.

As a former Language Arts teacher, think of the application. I know from experience that you can ask your students to edit their work all you want, but in reality, few of them do. I notice in classrooms all the time that when students are writing for blogs or podcasts, the level of work produced is far superior to the paper book reports I used to get from my students. The reason of course is that they are writing for a larger audience, not just the teacher. For some students a grade is enough motivation to perform well, but for many of our students, a grade does not motivate.  Producing something that your fellow students are going to see not to mention family, friends and people from around the world is a different motivation altogether.

As far as the practical application, below are the steps I would follow to implement a CrazyTalk project in my classroom.

1.       Determine the type of report/informational project the students are going to complete. Once you see the product, you will have a better idea of some projects your students can do. Most likely, you are already assigning written products that could easily be turned into a CrazyTalk project.  Do not limit your projects to just people and animals. I have animated structures (pyramids, Leaning Tower of Pisa) and works of art (Mona Lisa) as well.

2.       Lay the groundwork. Talk to your students about the audience and the format. Teach students the difference in writing first person versus doing a report. If they are doing a report on Paul Revere, the most effective way to use CrazyTalk would be to animate an image of Paul Revere and have him tell the story from his perspective.

3.       Prepare your rubric.  The mistake most teachers make when integrating technology is that they tend to focus on the technology when it comes to the rubric. Although you will want to have a component on your rubric that deals with technology, you will want to focus on the curriculum standards and objectives.

4.       Define the process. Be sure to outline the process your students will follow. I would suggest letting them work in stages so that you do not have to have fifteen copies or more of the software.

a.       Write the report in first person (if you choose)

b.      Have your partner edit the report, read it out loud to each other

c.       Have another group read your script

d.      Get teacher approval to proceed

e.      Record the script

f.        Animate your image and add the voice over. Be sure your students are following copyright guidelines. I suggest finding photos on copyright free sites such as Pics4Learning or Microsoft Office.

You can use any software to record. Most computers have a free windows recorder on it. I have always used that to record my script and it has always worked great. The recording will take the longest, as students tend to be very critical of their work at this stage and want it to be perfect. You will also notice that many of them will change their script at this time because they do not like the way it sounds. This should be encouraged since it shows a higher level thinking when they are evaluating their work.

5.       Publish the products. Whether you publish on the school server, your website or on a CD, students will want to see each other’s reports and share their report with their family. The process is fun and in my experience of observation, students are much more meticulous in the writing process then when they simply write a report.

You can download CrazyTalk  4 free for 30 days at the Reallusion website. Many software companies offer the product and you can get discounts based on volume.  I would encourage you to try a CrazyTalk project in your classroom even if you use the free version. If you want to see a preview of what it can do, visit the website for examples. Although these are not educational examples, it will give you an idea of what the product can do. I always enjoy seeing what our students can do. Please send me any projects your students complete!!!

Check out the example I created, a book review on the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe


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Promethean Tip

Posted on October 9, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |

by C. Arnold

I learned a new trick the other day from a teacher in Pickens County.  There are many times with the new Activ+2 boards that you are writing at the bottom of the screen in a flipchart and students cannot see it because is too low on the board.  One remedy to this problem is to set up each page in your flipchart to be 1 X 2 pages long when the flipchart is initially being created.  To do this all you need to do is to create a new “custom” flipchart. Creating a new flipchart

 Click file

Click flipchart

Click New

Click Custom


 Promethean size

Move the left scroll bar down to the second notch (or more…but note…I would not move it down more than 2 or 3 notches or else it will scroll too fast in the flipchart).

Click ok

Once you fill in the flipchart with notes,  the flipchart becomes scrollable.  You may scroll the flipchart up to where the students can see it.  This is especially useful if I was teaching math and had my whole page full of information.  I could then scroll the page up higher on the board so that students could see.  

(post from created by Cathy Arnold, Technology Facilitator)


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    The School District of Greenville County – Instructional Technology Department


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