Monday, April 30, 2012

Thing 14: Thing the Last

You're almost done!

The last thing was intended to be Xtranormal, and while I still love Xtranormal, it's no longer free beyond a very basic level, and I want to highlight free tools. So, change of plans. I'm going to link to a handful of image editing and infographics sites--some tools I've used, some tools I've only started to explore. Pick one, pick a few, explore. Or, recommend a tool you use that I haven't mentioned (this is the part where I steal your ideas). It could be a tool you use with students, or something that you use personally to organize yourself or learn about new resources.

Image editing
Comic Creators
Favorite recently-discovered tool:
To complete Thing 14:
  • Pick one of the tools above, or a tool/site you use on a regular basis. Write a post on your blog about what it is and why you like it.
  • Include in your post your final reflection on 14 Things to Tame--what did you like, what did you not like? What will it change about your teaching? What would you recommend to a colleague?
  • Give yourself a pat on the back, because YOU MADE IT!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Thing 13: Prezi

Prezi is an online presentation tool--think of it as an alternative to PowerPoint. It's hard to explain in text, but the video and examples below do a good job of explaining to possibilities.

Getting Started:

A Prezi about using Prezi as a teaching tool:

Here's another sample Prezi (which includes lots of other great resources):

Some other Prezi links:

To complete Thing 13:
  • Watch the video above, and explore the two Prezis on this blog (or others you find) 
  • Write a blog post with your thoughts about Prezi. What do you like? What do you not like? Could you see yourself using it? Would you use it with students?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Thing 12: VoiceThread

VoiceThread is a way to create interactive discussions around images, all in an online environment. A VoiceThread is an image or series of images that students can comment on by adding text, audio, or video notes. Below, I've embedded a VoiceThread that explains some of the ways to use VoiceThread.

And here is a VoiceThread I created for this project:

There are a lot of examples of VoiceThread being used by teachers and students at VoiceThread in Education and the VoiceThread wiki .

VoiceThread is also available as a free iPad app

To complete Thing 12:
  • Check out the sample VoiceThread above, and explore some of the VoiceThread in Education examples
  • Sign up for a VoiceThread account
  • Add at least two comments to the VoiceThread I created, one of which must be an audio or video comment.
  • Write a blog post about your experience using VoiceThread, and how you might use it with students.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Thing 11: Creative Commons

Ever use photos or images you find on the web--or instruct your students to use images in work they produce for you? Ever wonder about whether or not you (and your students) were following copyright law when you do so? Copyright law can be incredibly complicated, and seeking out permission to use copyright images and music can take a lot of time--if you're able to get permission at all.

But what if the creators didn't mind? What if they want to share their work--they just want to specify how, and be sure they're given credit? That's where Creative Commons licensing comes in. Creative Commons is different from traditional copyright--it allows artists to share their work, while giving guidelines for how to do so. If you look to the right of this blog post, you'll see I've applied to a CC license to this blog.

The two videos below do a good job of explaining what Creative Commons is--and why it matters.

A Creative Commons license can be applied to images, music, videos, writing, scientific research--anything that would normally be covered under a copyright license.

Want to use Creative Commons licensed images, but not sure how to find them? Check out FlickrCC Blue Mountains and Photo Pin. I use Jamendo for CC-licensed music.

To complete Thing 11:

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Thing 10: Glogster

Glogster is an online poster creation tool. Glogs are interactive posters, including pictures, links, and embedded videos. They can be very simple or very complex. While Glogster itself is very easy to use, it can take some time to create your first glog, so this week we'll just be learning about glogs rather than making our own.

This video gives an overview of how to make a Glog, and the different things you can do with them

This Glog for a project on weather, found in the collection of Education Glogs, really shows off the different ways Glogster can be used.

To complete Thing 10:
  • Explore Glogster, especially the Education Glogs
  • In your blog, write about what you discovered and how you think you might be able to use Glogster in your classes.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Thing 9: ThingLink

ThingLink is a very new tool (less than a year old). ThingLink allows you (or students) to embed videos and links to images. It's a great way to add contextual information to a still image.

Check out the example of a ThingLink created for a U.S. History class. Hover over the image and dots will appear; hover over a dot to see what it links to, or click on it to play the video or visit the website.

U.S. History ThingLink

Richard Byrne of Free Technology for Teachers created a great video explaining how to use ThingLink

And here's a quick ThingLink I created using an image of the U.S. Capitol:

If you want more ideas and resources, go to Education ThingLink to sign up for a free ThingLink Education Guide.

To complete Thing 9:
  • Go to ThingLink and sign up for an account
  • Go to the ThingLink I created here: 14 Things ThingLink and click on Edit Tags at the bottom. The ThingLink will open in a new window. Click to add a tag; add a link (to a website, a video, anything!) and a description OR If you are so inspired, create your own ThingLink.
  • Embed the ThingLink in a new blog post
  • Write about your experience using ThingLink. Do you have ideas for how you might use it with students?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Thing 8: Screencasting

Have you ever had to explain how to use a website or computer program to someone? And then to someone else? And then again? It can get frustrating, right? Especially if you can't be there in person to show them. That's where screencasting comes in handy. Screencasts are short videos where you record what's happening on your screen and narrate it using a microphone. I use screencasts to create quick website tutorials and guides--like this guide to the library website

I create my screencasts using Screenr; it works on Mac or PC, and there is nothing to download or install. Below is a quick screencast on how Screenr works.

Here's a screencast I made recently about how to save a Gale database article to Evernote:

To complete Thing 8:
  • Watch the screencasts posted above.
  • Go to and make a screencast of something. . . anything! It doesn't have to be long. You'll need to login to Screenr in order to publish your screencast; you can log in with your Google account
  • Once you've made a screencast, embed it on your blog (or post a link).
  • If you're so inspired, share some ideas for how you could use screencasting

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Thing 7: Google

Google. We all use it everyday (at least I know I do). But there's much more to Google than the basic search box most people use. Below is a slideshow highlighting some Google tips and tricks that most people don't know about. Also below are two videos explaining how Google search work, and how it has evolved since it was first created.
Google Search Tips and Tricks

How does Google work:

How has Google search evolved?

For more examples of some of these search techniques, as well as other tips and tricks, check out these articles:
Test your Google skills: A Google a Day

To complete Thing 7:
  • Check out the slideshow and videos (and related links if you're so inspired)
  • Write a blog post about what tricks were new to you, what you already use, what you think could be useful for you or for students

Monday, January 30, 2012

Thing 6: Evernote

The tagline for Evernote is "Remember Everything"--and they mean it. Evernote is a cloud-based application used to take and store notes. You can access your notes anywhere you can get online--on a computer, your iPad, or your smartphone.

Some of the features of Evernote:
  • Sort notes into different notebooks
  • Notes sync between devices--if I update something in Evernote on my phone, it will show up the next time I log in on my computer.
  • Tagging notes makes everything easily searchable
  • Take audio notes and picture notes on any device with a microphone/camera
  • Create checklists for organizing long-term projects
  • Send notes to an Evernote notebook via e-mail (great for information you want to keep, but don't want clogging up your inbox).
  • Many of the databases we subscribe to export to Evernote, making it easier for students to keep track of their research
How can students use Evernote?

To learn more about Evernote, check out:
How to get started with Evernote:
Evernote 101

To complete Thing 6:
  • Sign up for Evernote
  • Create a notebook and add some notes, tagging them so you can find them later
  • On your blog, write about your experience with Evernote. Is something you'd find useful? Do you think students would find it useful?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Thing 5: Wikis

A wiki is a collaboratively edited website. Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, is probably the largest and most well-known example of a wiki, but the wiki platform can be used for many other things.
Watch this Wikis in Plain English video from Common Craft (you'll need to click through to YouTube
) to get an idea of what wikis are and what they can do.

What do wikis let you do?
  • Anyone can edit content--you can have an open wiki, or restrict the wiki to be edited only by those you invite (you can even set page-level editing permissions)
  • You can easily track who's making changes, and what they're changing
  • If you accidentally change or delete something, you can easily revert back to an older version of the page.
  • You don't need to know HTML or any other coding language in order to apply styles and formatting
  • It's a great way for students to gather and share resources on a project or unit
  • Wikispaces provides ad-free wikis for educational use
Here are some examples of wikis being used in educational settings:
I've created a wiki for you to play with; for ease of use, I've set it up so that anyone (with or without a wikispaces account) can edit it. There are a few quick tutorials for editing here: Editing Wikispaces
Wikispaces changed their layout shortly after I made those videos, but hopefully they'll still be useful.

To complete Thing 5:
  • Watch the video about wikis
  • Visit the examples of wikis being used in classrooms to get some ideas
  • Go to the 14 Things to Tame wiki and follow the directions there to edit the wiki
  • Copy and paste the comment you leave there into a new blog post.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Thing 4: Social Bookmarking

Online bookmarking helps you organize all of your favorite and most useful sites--and access them no matter where you are.

The site/service has changed quite a bit since that video was made. I'm going to recommend using Diigo instead--it has all of the same features as, and works the same way.

To get started, go to and set up an account. Add and tag several of your favorite websites

You can add bookmark on any computer by logging in to and clicking Add. On your own computer, you can install either the Diigolet tool or by installing the Diigo toolbar in your browser; both of these are located under Tools, and with either of them you'll be able to bookmark sites.

You can check out my Diigo page at formanlibrary. I have over 1800 websites that I've saved using over 800 different tags; feel free to search for sites you might also find interesting.

Once you've joined Diigo and added a few of your favorite bookmarks, explore the social aspects of Diigo. Click on My Groups. On the right there will be recommended groups, and the option to browse other popular groups. You can search for groups that interest you, and find what other people have been bookmarking. If you'd like to follow a group and get updates, you can subscribe using RSS. You can also choose to be alerted via e-mail when new links are added to the group.

I set up a group for Forman, which you can find here: Forman's Diigo group. Join the group and add resources that you think will interest other teachers.

Want to use Diigo on your iPad? Check out the Diigo browser for iPad. The built-in toolbar allows you to save bookmarks directly to your Diigo account.

On your blog, write a post about your experience using Diigo. Is this something you would use? How could it be useful to you? How could it be helpful in a school setting?

In order to complete Thing 4 you need to:
  • Start a Diigo account and add websites.
  • Explore groups and join the Forman Diigo group
  • Write a post reflecting on your experience using Diio

Monday, January 9, 2012

Thing 3: RSS

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. It allows you to check for updates on blogs, online newspapers, and other regularly updated sites by visiting one page, rather than visiting ALL the different sites. The orange RSS icon that appears on many websites lets you know that you can subscribe to the site's updates.

Common Craft does a great "Plain English" explanation of what RSS is:

(You may need to click through to YouTube to watch this video)

Many of you probably already have websites that you check regularly-and hopefully you're planning on following this blog and your colleagues' blogs as well! The best way to do this is to use a RSS feed reader like Google Reader; here's another Common Craft video about GoogleReader (please note that the video is a few years old, and layout/some features have changed):

Your task for this week is to sign up for either Google Reader or another news reader, add your colleagues' blogs (you can find them listed in My Blog List to the right), and at least three other blogs, or online newspapers. Chances are, some of the websites you regularly visit already have RSS feeds! In your blog, write about your experience using Google Reader, if you think you would use it, and how you could use it professionally.

Not sure what to add to your Google Reader account? Here are some news sites that have RSS feeds available:

And here are some of my favorite blogs (i.e. these are where I get many of the ideas and resources I share with you), and links to places to find other great blogs:
You can also search for blogs in your content area using Google--or subscribe to blogs that have nothing to do with education!

So, to complete Thing 3, you need to:
  • Set up a Google Reader account
  • Add the blogs of your colleagues
  • Add three other blogs or newsites
  • Write a post reflecting on your experience with RSS and news readers

Beyond the Thing:
The Edublogger's Guide to Using Google Reader

Want to add an RSS button to your blog? You can do so by going to Design --> Add a Gadget --> Feed

Use this Firefox Add-on to add an RSS icon in your location bar (if there isn't on there already)

For those looking for help, I am generally available during B and D blocks (and of course other times by arrangement).

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Managing Blog Comments

Managing Blog Comments

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Your Blogs!

Thanks to all who are joining in (and even those who are watching from the sidelines for now)!

I'm thrilled that several of you have gotten started already. I'll update this list as more blog links are submitted--in the meantime, check out what your colleagues have created, comment on their blogs (or feel free to comment on the video I posted), and enjoy!