Thursday, September 30, 2010


Here's a video that I created for my PLN assignment. I used a program called Prezi - that I learned from some cool people this summer at the FTE conference at Cornell.

Took me about 10 minutes to put it all together. If you don't know Prezi, you need to. Go play around with it, it's very cool.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Getting Things Done

As part of my CEP810 Masters Course, I'm getting things done. I've put together an organizational system to help keep track of things that I need to get done, and to help get them done in an organized manner. It's always difficult decided what needs to get done first - especially when some projects are long term. It's possible to work on parts of projects, while also taking care of other items that can be done quickly - the trick is however, being organized.

To do this, and to make it work, I had to find a program that could help me keep track of what needs to get done. I decided to use a program called GoogleNotebook. I chose this because it's something that I can't lose. I try to be really organized, and that means doing tasks on computers. I don't like losing things, and it's easier to keep track when their saved to a hard drive or the internet.

I organized my process by creating 6 Notebooks in GoogleNotebooks. Inbox, Calendar Items, Next Action, Waiting For, and Completed Items. When I get something that needs to get done, it goes in my inbox. I can tag the task with what it relates to. CEP810, Work, Home, Car -whatever. This should allow me to quickly see tasks in different categories. While putting items in the inbox, I can also add notes, share with others or add a date. Once an item in my inbox is complete (not done, but entered with date, tags and comments), I can move it to one of 4 boxes. Calendar items, Next Action Items and Waiting On. Once an Item is completely finished, I can move it to the Completed Items folder.

Going Through The Process
Going through the process for the first time was difficult. I found that it took a little bit of time organizing everything that needed to get done into once place. I also found that I was trying to complete tasks before they were entered into my Inbox. Once I put the brakes on, the process sped up. I focused on entering all the tasks into my inbox.

Once everything was entered, I was able to organize the tasks by "priority". Next Action, Calendar Items, Projects and Waiting On. By prioritizing these items, I was able to see what could be taken care of immediately, and what things were more of long term goals. This also allowed me to work on a number of quick tasks that might have gotten lost in the shuffle earlier.

Next came the review phase. Since I haven't done this for a full week yet, I've decided that Wednesdays are going to be the day that I review all the tasks that need to be completed. It's not last minute, and I'll still have time to finish tasks that are incomplete. I would like to try and pick a time each day where I can review my tasks and crank out some work that needs to get done.

I think this process will be very helpful in allowing me to organize my tasks. It should also increase my productivity. I now have a program where I can list everything that needs to get done. This is accessible from my computers, as well as my phone. Instantly, I can add tasks wherever I am. I can also see at a glance what needs to be completed.

I hope this process is something that I can continually use and improve on. I'm hoping this will cut down on sticky-notes that get lost, of assignments that fall through the cracks. Time will tell how useful this is, and if I will continue it, but after a few days, it seems interesting - and very useful!
  1. Do you think you will continue this process? If not, what will your process be?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Social Networking and Me!

Even though its been around since college, I feel Social Networking is new to me. I've been on Facebook for a few years, and more recently twitter. Each of these "new" creations have a profound effect on how I do work, and how I learn.

Personally, the social networking tools that I use, mainly Facebook and Twitter have changed the way I communicate with my friends. They have allowed me to stay in contact with friends from high school, college and old jobs. With Twitter, I can follow friends, celebrities and athletes and see their updates and get a glimpse into their lives. As exciting (and unnecessary) as this is, the benefits of Social Networking from a work standpoint are even larger.

Twitter and Facebook have allowed me to become better at my job. The opportunity to learn more, and being able to share that information with my students helps everyone gain more knowledge. I originally created my Twitter account as a quick way to contact my students parents and to let them know what the homework assignments were. In a perfect world, all of my students, and parents would be on Twitter, and they'd be following my tweets. Unfortunately, my old district had Twitter blocked, and few families had internet connections. In my new position, more families have internet access, and Twitter is unblocked. Because of this, I envision a point where Twitter will become a very important tool that I can use in my classroom.

Facebook also plays a role in my professional life by allowing me to network with other education professionals. The opportunity to stay in contact with teachers that I have met at conferences around the United States is amazing. Many times I have met teachers at conferences and we've had some great educational collaborative discussions. Though Facebook, and groups, we've been able to continue those discussions. Although I've been reluctant to reach out to students through Facebook, it has been an important tool for me with co-workers.

As for my students and peers, I feel my students are much more immersed in Social Networking, compared to my peers. Many younger teachers have adopted these technologies, but not at the rate that students have. As younger teachers enter the field of teaching, I think we will see the number of educators utilizing these tools increase.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

RSS Blog Post

Here is a screenshot of my RSS Feed. At this point, I had only added the 5 required feeds. I soon added more. Pics to follow.

A comment that I've added to a blog that I follow through my RSS feed: I follow a blog called Michigan Council For Economic Education. They had a great post on visualizing unemployment, which can be seen here:

I commented that it was a great resource that I used in my classroom to show the impact that the recession had on the mid-west and Michigan specifically. It really hits home when you see how dark (most unemployment) Michigan gets, and how much worse it was in the rust belt. (I am waiting for my comment to be accepted by the blog and posted)

Tracking the news on my RSS Feed

Using my RSS feed I've found information on a program called dropbox. This program allows me to put files into a folder on my home computer, and have them appear in the same folder on my work computer. This is going to save me a ton of time not having to e-mail myself notes, or upload files to webspace that is hard to access from school. I don't know if I would have normally found that article. I don't find myself reading each and every article that comes into my feed, but I'm able to skim and find the news that I find interesting, and then I can look farther into it. I can also tailor my RSS feed to my needs. I am finding interesting articles that are useful to me.

Not too many interesting articles today (my perspective at least) but I think I could really use this in my class. If I create an RSS feed from trusted sources, with specific topics or information, I could use this with my students when they are trying to do research. I've done a lot of work with my classes and current events in the past, but it is always difficult to get the students to find quality articles. Now I can build a database of articles for my students to look through. It is easy to navigate, and will provide an endless source of pertinent information for them to use.

Today I checked my RSS feed again. I have 49 new posting. There is a lot to look at, and I've realized that you can put feeds into folders (I'm using GoogleReader). Having folders helps me organize the news sources that I follow. I think that I could find specific feeds that give specific information, and then sort them by the units I teach. This means students could explore at their own pace. Ive also found some RSS feeds that I began to follow that aren't what they seem. It means I'll have to research feeds before I subscribe to them. I wouldn't want to use sources for my students that can be inappropriate at times.
I read an interesting article on a Blackberry Tablet that may be coming out - that was really interesting. I also read a good on how an Economics teacher got her students to remember the MC=MR formula.

Traditional Web Pages vs Blogs

There is a large difference between traditional webpages and blogs. Understanding the difference can help make you more efficient on the internet. Traditional webpages may hold information that is never updated. It might provide directions, or information on a subject. Blogs however, if used correctly are frequently updated. Blogs are more of a running journal, written by one or more authors. Blogs can be found on a variety of topics. These blogs allow readers to comment on the "journal entries" and also allow readers to read previous updates as well (not an option on most traditional websites.)