Monday, October 31, 2011

Google Chromebooks for Education - updated pricing and info

Last Spring, Google announced their  "Chromebooks" - notebook computers running Google's Chrome OS. They will be available in June.

There are two models right now. Samsung has one with a 12.1" screen, 8.5 hours of continuous usage, a mini-VGA port and a weight of 3.26 lbs. Samsung's WiFi model will cost $429 with the 3G model costing $499. Acer's will have an 11.6" screen, 6 hours of continuous usage, a HDMI port and a weight of 2.95 lbs and will start at $349. Both will have 2 USB ports, a 4-in-1 card reader, webcam and an Intel Atom dual core processor.

Chromebooks will run Google's Chrome OS, an operating system that is basically a web browser. This has some great features. It is fast (starts up in 8 seconds) and easy to use. You can access your data anywhere because you end up having it online. It supports all the new web standards and runs Adobe Flash. The Chromebooks come with built in Wi-Fi and 3G to allow you to connect anywhere. The 3G models will include a free 100MB per month of mobile data from Verizon Wireless for 2 years.

Just like the Chrome browser, it is very safe and secure. It is designed to be safe and protect against viruses, malware, and more. It even updates automatically.

Everything; apps, documents, and settings are stored in the cloud, just like using the Chrome browser and Google Docs and apps. There will be offline access to Gmail, Calendar, and Docs also, so in the rare occasion where there is no WiFi or 3G, you can still access your data. There is Google Cloud Print to print things, you can connect devices to upload files, and their is a file manager built in.

There are millions of web apps you can use, including Docs, Evernote, Tweetdeck, and even Angry Birds. All available from the Chrome Web Store. Most are free.

If someone else wants to use the Chromebook, you can have them login with their own Google account, or as a guest. Either way, they can't see your information or data.

Now, why am I writing about this? Because I happen to like Chrome OS and have been using it for quite a while on the Google CR-48 I received a while back and I love it. I was already using Chrome Browser and 90% of what I did was in the browser and web based, so it was an easy transition.

I think Chrome OS is a great idea for education (you can read my original article on Chrome OS for Education here.)

Chrome OS and Chromebooks are good for schools for a variety of reasons. It's a simple login with fast startup, there are no crashes or issues, student data is not on the device, multiple students can use them without worrying about data sharing, and student data and settings are backed up to their Google account. It can run apps virtualized through CITRIX. It is easier on the IT department with less issues and crashes and no software or apps to install and no disc to image. IT can configure and manage the Chromebooks and accounts through the web. There is less work needed by IT and no servers to store data.

Google is also offering a special deal for education, with Chromebooks being offered for $20 per month per student. This may sound like alot, but it includes Google support, updates, and a warranty to replace hardware in the case of an accident. In the end, the warranty, support, and decrease in IT workload will save schools money and issues.

All-in-all, I think the Chromebooks are a great idea for education.

Here is a great article by Vicki Davis about some of the issues that need to be addressed about the Google Chromebooks in Education.

UPDATED October 2011: Google is now offering schools and businesses the option to purchase the Chromebooks outright instead of using the monthly payment option.

Related Articles

Google Chrome OS - great idea for education!

Lesson Plans using Google Apps in Education

I am a huge Google user. I use Chrome as my browser, Gmail, Google Calendar, Contacts, Docs, Tasks, iGoogle, Reader, Bookmarks, Sites, and Blogger. I have a CR-48 Chrome OS Chromebook. I use an Android Smart Phone. I know how to use Google's apps. But, there are times when I'd like some ideas for using Google's apps in the classroom that will help my students learn subject matter and how to use some of these apps.

Google Apps for Education has a lesson plan page that has tons of lesson plans, from educators, using Google's apps. It's a great place to find some ideas to teach content and Google app use.

You can search the lesson plans by Google app, subject, or grade level.


Google Apps Education Training Center

Virtual Tour of NASA Goddard Space Center and Missions

NASA has some great resources for educators and students and this is another great one.

NASA's Goddard Space Center is in Maryland and they design, manage, and control a variety of experiments and space missions. I got to visit it and get a tour in my senior year of college when I presented my senior theses. NASA had funded it. It was a great experience with some really interesting things to see and learn about.

They have a great Virtual Tour of Goddard set up that goes through the entire life cycle of a mission from idea, to design, to construction, to testing, to launch to operations and finally the analysis of the data collected.

This is a great way to get students excited and interested in STEM subjects as well as introducing them to the engineering design process and science experiment process.

I've covered a lot of NASA Resources. Click on this link and you'll be taken to all of the articles about NASA.

Some of my favorite NASA resources:

NASA at Home and City - Space developments related to life on earth

SpiderOak - free online file storage and sync - Online Backup, Storage, Sharing and Sync

SpiderOak is another free backup, sync, sharing and storage system. It works on Windows, Mac OS and Linux.

There is a free 2GB account and you can earn up to 50GB of free storage by referring friends.

It's another great way to make sure that your files are backed up and available to you any where.


Cloud File Storage, Sync, Backup

Ubuntu One available for Windows - offers 5GB of free cloud storage

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Free Professional Development Resource - teacher PD sourcebook

The Teacher Professional Development Sourcebook is a great resource for teachers and administrators. It is published twice annually, for free, and contains a huge amount of resources.

Each issue includes articles, news, tips, ideas, research, resources, a calendar of professional development activities and more, all about professional development and continuing education. The back of the sourcebook is a type of yellow pages (even though they are white) with a directory of products, services, resources, and more related to professional development and continuing education. The directory is organized by type, topic, and subject area.

The Fall 2011 issue just arrived yesterday and is focused on reaching all students and includes ideas, strategies, and resources for differentiating learning and helping all students succeed, including those with special needs.

Teacher PD Sourcebook cover

Past issues have dealt with ways to do professional development with no budget, social networking and social media in education, Web 2.0 resources for PD, real world learning and authenticity in education, ELL issues, as well as making professional development more interesting and timely for educators.

Back issues are also available online.

It is from the publisher of Education Week, which also publishes Teacher Magazine and Digital Directions. All three are also great resources for educators.

You can apply for a free subscription to the Teacher Professional Development Sourcebook.

I also wrote another article about Professional Development and resources.

The site has back issues online, as well as a ton of articles and resources, ranging from assessment and discipline, to PBL and PLN's, to administration and ELL/EFL. This is definitely a site to add to your favorites.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Only 3 days left to vote for your favorites in Adobe Educator's Choice Awards

Vote in The 2011 Educators’ Choice Awards

Adobe Education Exchange is a great resource for educators, with resources, lesson ideas, lesson plans, and a place to collaborate with other educators.

The 2011 Educator's Choice Awards is an awards program for educators. Any educator can enter. You submit your innovative teaching and learning materials and you could win some really nice prizes. Submit your projects, lesson plans, curricula, tutorials, and more. Educators will rate the work submitted. There are four categories: Primary/Secondary Cross-Curricular, Primary/Secondary Digital Arts and Media, Higher Education Cross-Curricular, Higher Education Digital Arts and Media.

The finalists have been announced!!

Check out the finalists — and cast your votes by October 28

Congratulations to the finalists in The 2011 Educators' Choice Awards, and thanks to all the Adobe Education Exchange members who helped select them. Now, it's time to select the winners, so please check out the finalists' innovative teaching and learning materials closely. 

Then choose your favorite in each category. Voting ends October 28, 2011 at 11:59 PM PST, and winners will be announced by November 9.

Primary/Secondary Finalists
Digital Arts and Media

Higher Education Finalists
Digital Arts and Media
The Battle to Learn Adobe Flash, Thomas Giannattasio
Take Action!, Erika Veth

Select a winner in each category — sign-in and vote today.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Google Apps Education Training Center

Google Apps Education Training Center is a site from Google that has a number of training resources and materials for educators to use to learn about using Google Apps for Education in their classroom.

The site has training materials on mail, calendar, docs, sites, and more and includes videos, webinars, lesson plans, and more.

It is also good for anyone who uses Google's tools and resources in school.

If you use Google Apps for Education or use any Google apps in school, you should check this site out.


Google Resources for Educators - list of Google training materials, lesson ideas, and how-to's for using Google in education.

What I was going to present at CECA conference today

I was originally scheduled to present at the CECA conference today in Hartford, CT, but was unable to get release time from my school.

The first session I was going to do was "Innovative Free Technologies for Teachers." I was going to share tech like Evernote, Google's many apps, and more and show teachers how they can use them to engage their students, enrich their lessons, and even get organized and improve communication. Many of the items I was going to talk about were from the following lists:

Android Smartphone Apps I use as an educator

25 Free Resources from Discovery Education

Google Apps for Educators

Technology my Students Use in Class


Technology I Use on a Daily Basis

I was going to introduce about 10 different resources and include discussion time for the participants to share the ones they use and how they use them in school. I did a similar one at CECA last year and it was a great session with great audience participation.

The other session is still going on because I was co-presenting with Tracey Mercier on Twitter in Education. I sent her some of what I was going to do with her in the presentation and I'm hoping the session goes well for her.

Here are some of the things I was going to share:

Twitter for Education - a great resource for educators

Educational Twitter HashTags

TweetDeck - great way to use Twitter

Hopefully, I'll be able to attend and present at next year's CECA conference.

Android Apps related to Bloom's Taxonomy

Kathy Schrock is always posting something great in terms of educational resources. In the past, she created an interactive chart of Google tools aligned with Bloom's revised taxonomy.

She also now has an interactive chart of Android Apps aligned with Bloom's revised taxonomy and is looking for input on other apps to include. She listed free apps that are content neutral so any teacher can use them.

If you use an Android device, or your students/school does, this is a great resource.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Android Smartphone and Apps I use as an educator

I recently got an Android SmartPhone (HTC Droid Incredible 2) and have been exploring the Android Market looking for apps.
Droid Incredible 2

I really like Android. It's easy to use, powerful, has tons of apps, and HTC's Sense UI is really nice. The browser is also really great, supports multiple browser windows and has Flash and Air. Android has great notifications and multi-tasking too (although no one, not even Apple, can beat webOS's notifications and multi-tasking - it's too bad HP is pretty much shutting down webOS.)

In the past, I've written about educational apps for the Palm/HP smartphones running webOS. Today, I'd like to share some cool apps for Android. All of these apps allow me to use my smartphone as a mobile computer and pretty much do anything on it that I can do on my desktop or laptop.

For anyone who uses Google's applications, Android is a dream because it comes with them all and they work great. There are also great apps for all of the other services I use.

1. Google - search, Gmail, Calendar, Reader, Google Plus, Docs, Google Tasks, Blogger, Maps, Google Voice, Voice Search, Translate, Music,, YouTube, and much more. They all work great, with Docs having full editing features and Translate even translating spoken word. I use lots of Google apps so this makes my life much easier and more productive.

2. Evernote - a must have app and service for pretty much everyone - teachers, students, administrators, mom's, dad's, business people, etc. The Android App is excellent and you can sync your notebooks to your phone for offline access. Take notes, clip web sites, upload files, upload and search photos, share notebooks, and much more.

3. Email - I have my Gmail account, Optimum account, and School email all set up, along with the Gmail account for my grad school.

4. QuickOffice - access, view, and edit Word, PowerPoint and Excel files.Free version comes with phone and can view documents. Pro version adds editing for a fee.

5. Cloud Storage apps - Dropbox, SugarSync, and Zumodrive - access, upload, download all your files and data.

6. Kindle - access my books on my phone. Great for research or relaxation. Syncs with my Amazon account so I can start off where I left off on my TouchPad.

7. TweetDeck - I love Twitter as a learning and sharing tool and the TweetDeck app on Android is great. Works just like the desktop/web version.

8. Web Browser - the web browser is excellent on Android. It supports multiple web pages open at once and has Adobe Flash and Air. I have yet to meet a website that I couldn't view in it's entirety. It's also very fast. I can access all kinds of web services and sites using the browser, including PowerTeacher, our district's SIS.

I've used a PDA since the Palm IIIxe in 2000, moving up through a Palm T3, Palm TX, Palm Centro Smarpthone, Palm Pre+ Smartphone and now an Android smartphone. I love the ability to access information and data, and connect with others, and get work done, all with a device I carry in my pocket.

Check out Android Central for tips, resources, device and app reviews, news, help, and more on Android.


Technology I use on a Daily Basis - updated for this year

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

25 Free Resources from Discovery Education

I just added a new permanent page to my blog: 25 Free Resources from Discovery Education. As the name implies, it is a listing of 25 excellent, free resources from Discovery Education. There are also a couple of bonus free resources and links to resources on how to use Discovery Education's tools and resources.

Check it out.

I'll be using this this coming Saturday when I present this topic at the CT Day of Discovery conference.

Updated Google for Educators Resource page

I just updated my Google for Educators Resource page. It has a list of ways to use Google's resources in your classroom, as well as links to other resources that will help you take advantage of Google's apps.

Check it out. 

I'll be using this as a resource at TechForum NY this Friday. during my "Everything Google" round table session. 

FETC Fall Virtual Conference Oct 27th - free, online, conference

FETC Virtual Conference and Expo Fall 2011 : Oct. 27, 2011 10:30am - 6:00pm ET

FETC's Fall Virtual Conference is Thursday, October 27th, from 10:30am - 6pm.

This is a great way to get some excellent professional development and connect with other educators without traveling.

There is a keynote speaker, multiple sessions, and even an exhibit hall, all accessed online for free.

 Hall Davidson, Director, Discovery Educator Network, will be delivering the keynote address:

KEYNOTE Presentation: 1 pm on October 27

The New Kinds of Tools for New Kinds of Learners: Assess This!

Hall Davidson, Director, Discovery Educator Network (DEN)

We know effective assessment can be more powerful than class size reduction for raising achievement. Take a deeper look at how technology tools (mostly free) can check for understanding. Projects previously requiring a semester can be accomplished in a period. Mobile phones, MovieMaker, iMovie, and a host of Web 2.0 sites can do the job. Even PowerPoint and Google can be tapped. The digital age produced spectacular tools that match the learning style of students native to the touch screen, who create videos for the web, texts on a mobile, and stream media everywhere. These skills and tools, often free, should be adapted for assessment. Fire up your iPads, laptops, and cellphones for interactive examples from a leader in the field. (Followed by LIVE Q&A)

EduCon Philly is coming in January! (educational conference)

EduCon is a unique educational conference that focuses on conversations and innovations for improving education. It is held in Philadelphia, January 27th-29th and you can also participate virtually.

EduCon follows some very interesting guiding principals:

Guiding Principles of EduCon

  • Our schools must be inquiry-driven, thoughtful and empowering for all members 
  • Our schools must be about co-creating - together with our students - the 21st Century Citizen 
  • Technology must serve pedagogy, not the other way around 
  • Technology must enable students to research, create, communicate and collaborate 
  • Learning can - and must - be networked 

EduCon does not feature "presentations" but rather "conversations", similar to EdCamp, except more planned out ahead of time.

You can also propose a conversation topic that you would like to lead at EduCon.

These guiding principals are also great ideas for all schools and educators to follow.

You can register to attend in person, or to attend virtually here. Registration for in-person attendance is $150 ($100 for Philadelphia schools).

EduCon always receives high marks from attendees. It's an event not to be missed, whether you attend in-person or virtually.

Educon 2.4
January 27 - 29, 2012
Science Leadership Academy
55 N. 22nd St.
Philadelphia, PA

Zygote Body coming soon - the new incarnation of Google Body Browser

Zygote Body is the next incarnation of Google Body. Google Body was a searchable and interactive 3D model of human anatomy. It was part of Google Labs, which Google is shutting down. Zygote was the company that helped create Google Body and they are going to continue the development of it. 

You can go to the launch page and enter your email address to be notified when it is up and ready. 

It's nice to see that even though Google is shutting down Google Labs, the wonderful projects that were part of it will live on in other forms. 

Other Anatomy Resources:

Healthline Body Maps - human anatomy resource

Open Heart Surgery Simulation - interactive and educational

eSkeletons - skeletons and comparative anatomy of primates

MEDtropolis - health information and Virtual Body

Anatomy Arcade

Medical Animations

Great Free Anatomy Resource

Experiments and Exploration are vital to science education!

This week, an article was posted about how some middle school science teachers felt that labs were messy and a waste of time in science. They stated that they could get the students to know the material better through lecture and a couple of demo's and the students just looked at labs as free time. They also stated that when they did less labs, the state test scores went up.

I'm horrified that these people are science teachers. Exploration and experimentation are vital to science and science education. Students need to learn how to explore, collect data, analyze, conclude and communicate what they found. They need to work in groups to solve problems. This is what people do in real life. They don't sit around getting lectured to.

Test scores are, unfortunately, being used to much as a measure of student learning, when in fact most of these tests are invalid and useless. I also find these teachers' comments about students treating labs as free time an indication that these teachers lack classroom management skills. I also think that the labs they are using are not well designed.

I can look up science facts online very easily. But that doesn't mean that I understand them, or can even evaluate if these "facts" are actually true. Science changes constantly as scientists and engineers explore the world and find new things and new ways of doing things. Remember these science "facts"-  the earth is flat, the earth is the center of the universe.

To succeed in any endeavor, a student needs to be able to think critically - they need to analyze and solve problems. They need to learn how to work as a team and communicate. They need to have an understanding of where science comes from and how it is explored. They need to understand that failures lead to answers also. They need a basic functional literacy in science. They can only get this through projects and labs.

These projects and labs should be hands-on, but there are also plenty of labs and investigations that can be done online, for free, and are still very educational. This is a great alternative to hands-on labs that are too expensive or possibly dangerous. Students can also use free web 2.0 sites to do projects, webquests, and more that will teach them so much more than facts.

As an Aerospace Engineer (worked for 10 years as an engineer before becoming a physics teacher) I can tell you that the only way I was successful is because I learned science and engineering through labs and projects. You can not learn to apply concepts and facts by sitting in a lecture hall. My college, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, understood this and they have a very unique educational program called the WPI Plan that is based on projects.

I'm very sad that some science teachers are focusing on facts and test scores rather than actual teaching and learning in their classrooms.

Here are two other articles by other educators who agree that this is not a good idea:

And here are some more articles I've written on this topic:

WPI Plan - A Great Educational Model for All Schools

Edutopia also agrees that their research shows that Project Based Learning, which includes labs, is very effective way to learn.

What do you think?

Monday, October 17, 2011

10 Things Students use technology for in my class

The other day, I posted an article entitled "Technology I use on a Daily Basis - updated for this year" which detailed the technology I use myself to get organized, communicate with students and parents, and as lesson resources and tools. Today, I'd like to talk about the technology that my students use in my class.

  1. There are 7 student computers in my classroom that students use throughout the year for various projects and work.
  2. Students use the web for research and for web quests on different topics.
  3. Students use the computers and web to create projects, using PowerPoint, Google Docs, Glogster, Prezi, Blogger, Google Sites and other online services instead of paper and pencil. I want them to be able to create things in class, instead of just doing lectures and homework problems. 
  4. Students use the class blog and class websites to access information, check the class schedule, retrieve class notes and references, and to communicate with me and other students. 
  5. Students access for help and "tutoring" on physics concepts. 
  6. Students access (PhET) to access physics simulations and do virtual labs and explorations of topics. 
  7. Even though it is against school and district policy, I've let students use their smart phones as learning tools - look up things on the web or use them as calculators. Already own the smartphone, so why spend more money on a graphing calculator that costs $150 when they can get a $1.99 app?
  8. I also have some Vernier sensors that we use in class and a I just received a Netbook that we will be using the Vernier sensors with on projects outside of the classroom soon. 
  9. Students use email to communicate directly with me when they have questions or issues. 
  10. Students use Google Calendar, Evernote, Trackclass, Dweeber and more to stay organized, communicate and succeed. 
Students use technology in my class to do things differently, do different things, to communicate, create, organize, get help, explore, learn and to expand the learning experience outside of the classroom. 


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...