Something New Every Day

There are so many wonderful free tech tools these days. It is overwhelming at first to look at my list of fabulous resources. When asked what my favorite tool is, I guess my answer would depend on what I have used recently and what I have just discovered and is fresh on my mind.
I am blessed in my district to have computers in every classroom (5) as well as access to mobile carts with 25 on each cart. We have plenty of software on our laptops (Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Comic Life, Pixie, Kidspiration, Google Earth, Activ Inspire, Garage Band, Audacity, just to name a few.) There are many web 2.0 sites that are blocked by our district filter like Wall Wisher, You Tube, and most blogs so when I find a web based application that I like and can use I get very excited.
Lately, my new favorite tool is ZimmerTwins for making movies. I made a school log in started experimenting with just a few students. They caught on so quickly and had creative ideas in less than a moment. I have even used this site whole group with exceptional education students who did equally well with making a movie. I like that there are characters with talking bubbles, actions, title/end pages etc. in the four different tabs at the top.
The second tool that has caught on with the students has been Wordle, and Tagxedo. Both are word cloud sites, but Tagxedo lets you save your work as a .jpg file, and Wordle does not. We have used these for vocabulary review, copied and pasted expository writing to find overused words, and just simply for fun.
I don’t want to overwhelm my teachers or students with new things constantly since they seem to be already frustrated with technology in many cases. I try to keep it simple, and give people what they ask for so that I don’t add to their feeling that they are always “behind”.
If teachers need to start small and not get overwhelmed, I highly recommend both of these on line tools.
by: Suzanne Whitlow
ITRT Henrico County Schools

What's your Tech style: Savvy or Junkie?

Are you tech savvy or a tech junkie? A tech junkie is uninformed and careless with their online persona and connections. Tech junkies have no regard for their online safety and the safety of others. On the other hand, one who is tech savvy utilizes technology with respect to themselves by protecting their information and taking precautionary measures to being safe while making connections. The road to being tech savvy starts here, whether you are new to technology or a tech junkie, we will get you there.
Technology has provided the world with an opportunity to connect with people at the speed of instant in a variety of ways on a variety of different levels. From social networking sites, to live video streaming to texting and video chatting, our world is more connected than it has ever been. There is tremendous responsibility that comes with this connectedness. Personal security of information is at the forefront and demands our attention. It is imperative that all tech users become familiar with safety features available on their tech devices of choice. Parents and teachers are partners in educating students both about how to manage privacy settings and internet safety.
Safety While Networking: Simple measures of protection are available on popular social networking sites allowing users to manage how much information is available for others to view. These settings can be found under the account information tab. Savvy Tip: Talk to family and friends about not posting specific details of meeting locations and times on publicly shared message boards. Facebook notes are not private. Opt for email or a phone conversation to set up the details of gatherings.
Safety While Texting: Cell phone companies do have a number of security features for families including usage allowance, time restrictions, and the ability to block certain numbers. This is a great tool for parents with concerns about excessive texting. Concerning cell phones with an internet connection, parents need to be aware that there are no securities limiting access to websites. Also, mobile versions of popular networking sites have the option to include location data with postings by utilizing the GPS feature of your mobile device. Savvy Tip: Demonstrate proper etiquette when texting by being respectful of friends and family members rules concerning texting. Always ask if it is okay to text someone before doing so.
Safety While Surfing: There are a number of web protection programs available to keep the whole family safe while they surf. One such program that is free to download is PureSight™. PureSight™ has various features allowing parents to monitor what sites their child is visiting, how much time they are spending on the computer and track instant messaging conversations just to name a few. Savvy Tip: Remember when engaging in online conversations to uphold a respectable persona. Online conversations are not private conversations.
It is imperative that all tech users become familiar with safety features available on their tech devices of choice. Parents and teachers are partners in educating students both about how to manage privacy settings and internet safety. I challenge every lover and user of technology to look into their own connections and see where they may need to employ or modify privacy settings and safety features. Be informed. Be responsible. Be tech savvy!

A Holy Couple Reunited in Heaven

Mr. Pietro Molla, husband of St. Gianna Beretta Molla died this Holy Saturday morning.  I was introduced to St. Gianna while on retreat years ago.  Her book titled "Love letters to my husband" challenged me to mature in my own ideas of loving wife. It was then that I made her my patron saint and strive to live by her example of a loving, life giving wife, mother, and person. Truly together this holy couple will save many marriages. She saved mine.

Below is a link to a beautiful write up by Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB of Salt and Light Catholic Television Network.
A Holy Couple Reunited in Heaven — Death of Mr. Pietro Molla, Husband of St. Gianna Beretta Molla on Holy Saturday Morning in Mesero (Milano) Italy

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