Category Archives: Technology Tutorials

Case Study: Google Calendar

In the spirit of learning from experience, lets look into classrooms for officially tested tried and true technology.  Mike Casey sets up effective (and easy to use) Google Calendars (with cell phone and other mobile device access and reminders!) for individual studies teachers, sports teams, clubs and other planning requirements.  He put together an awesome presentation on his website:

If you have been using technology that helps in the classroom, please share your story.


NPR: Physicists Seek To Lose The Lecture As Teaching Tool

The buzz words are out there: flipped classroom, guide on the side vs. sage on the stage, or as Ian Jukes calls it, “full frontal”.

On January 12th,  NPR’sAll Things Considered” aired a story on education titled Physicists Seek To Lose The Lecture As Teaching Tool.

The story quotes analytic proof where lecture produced worse results than small group collaboration, where the groups had simply read the material to be discussed PRIOR to the discussion.

Making sense of the information with a small group of peers in class seems to be where the real learning takes place.  The transfer of information can be done by reading or doing a simple Google search.

The physics professors used polleverywhere to ask a question at the beginning of a class after students had read the material.  The question had 3 multiple choice answers.  The results were shared with the class, then a small group discussion took place.  The poll was taken a second time and the results always improved.

I’d like to test this concept at our meeting.  Familiarize yourself with the following  prior to the meeting:

“I understand how to use an iPod (or cell phones) with WIFI, Safari and to conduct a live poll in class.”

We’ll take the first poll (baseline data) at the meeting, discuss in small groups with ipods, then take a second poll.  We should quickly see improvement.

Maybe this concept and the technology used can be implemented in our classes.

If you are using polleverywhere or have experience with flipping your classroom, please leave a comment below on your experience.

HD Video Files: Log and Transfer Preferences Explained

Tapeless HD camcorders record a specific video file to a card or a drive connected to the the camera.  This file is encoded with a specific video compression/codec.

In Final Cut Pro “Log and transfer” will transcode the format (AVCHD most likely) you shot to the card or drive to Apple ProRes 422. The quicktime mov files will be stored wherever you set the scratch disk in FCP menu, system settings.

The Apple ProRes 422 codec provides the following:

Target data rate of approximately 145 Mbps (1920 x 1080 at 60i)

See here:

You can select many different options in the import preferences.  The preset is Apple ProRes 422.  There is a higher preset (HQ) with a higher data rate, but you would use higher settings only if you have a camera  that records with higher color sampling and more resolution.  I never change the preset.

Click the sprocket in the log and transfer window to see the different preferences.

Once the mov is transcoded it will be in the browser, then drag it to the timeline.

FCP installs with a preference that will make any new sequence NTSC DV (standard definition video).  There is another preference that will pop up when you drag an HD clip to the timeline asking you to change sequence settings to match clip settings.  If you click yes, you will be editing in the native format of the clip.  If you want the clip to be forced into a letterbox 4:3 sequence (scaled 50%) click no.  It all depends on what format you want to export.

For more about AVCHD:

For more about color sampling:

FCP Log and Transfer Tutorial:

Social Bookmarking: Delicious

Social Bookmarking with Delicious allows you to save your bookmarks so they may be accessed from any web browser.  It also allows you to share all the great sites you bookmark with your friends and colleagues.

Although there were rumors the site would be closing, it was acquired by the founders of youtube and will be a long term place to store your bookmarks.

Here is a tutorial on how to create an account and the steps to find directions for transferring your already saved bookmarks:

How to: Simply copy a link to a specific time in a youtube video.

Just right-click on the video and select “Copy video URL at current time”. It’s probably a good idea to pause the video before using this feature.

Thanks to Alex Chitu for posting this article.

Free and Engaging Solution for Beginning the School Year: Google Spreadsheet,, Wordle

The excitement of the new school year continues after developing a very successful structure for my classroom with free technology.  Ice breaking, social/professional network building, goal setting, and identifying important shared class policies flew by and I feel like we hit~one~out~of~the~park with the system my classes created!

First we used a Google Spreadsheet to input answers to some simple and essential questions:

  • Describe what you enjoy, or something you are good at doing.
  • If you could speak with anyone in the world on Skype, who would it be and why?
  • What interests you most about this class?
  • What are your goals for this class?
  • What are your goals for this year?
  • What are your goals for the future?

Next we created Gmail accounts and used those to create profiles on a free page. is a free social network similar to Facebook and Ning.  Within the page we created subgroups for each class period with independent discussion forums and calendars.  Each forum posed the question:

Reply to this message with at least 3 class policies that will help develop a positive and productive work environment.  Please use professional language and complete sentences.  Use formated bullets to separate each policy.

After submitting policies to the subgroup forum, each student read through all policies then copied and pasted the policies they agreed with into the icebreaker spreadsheet on a new column next to their names.

We then posed the problem of how to organize all the text in the spreadsheet.  After searching through formulas and Google Gadgets, we decided that Wordle would be the best option to create a “Phrase Cloud” that represented the class polices.

Students had to reformat their column in the spreadsheet in order for the phrase to be recognized by Wordle.  Each word must be separated by tilde “~”. Spaces in the spreadsheet separated the phrases.

Here is an example of the outcome:

Students are using the page to collaborate in the forums inside and outside of class and are creating safe and professional profiles where they connect with classmates and friends.

I am excited to see what this year brings!  Our first two Shawnee TV podcasts were outstanding and the students are developing some impressive and professional media.