Instructions for Using Creative Commons Images in Blog Posts

Many bloggers are not aware that you can’t just use any images off the internet in your blog posts. Not only is this ethically incorrect but you could leave yourself open to copyright infringement.

I teach my student bloggers to “do the right thing” by using their own images or Creative Commons images in their blog posts.

Wanting to make this process clear to my student bloggers, I created a document explaining copyright, copyright infringement and Creative Commons. The guide provides step-by-step instructions on how to use FlickrCC and Wikimedia Commons to upload and attribute images in blog posts. Obviously, there is more than one way to do this, however, I wanted to keep the instructions as straightforward as posssible for my students.

I have embedded this document below. Feel free to use it with your students to teach them about these important blogging habits.

Using Creative Commons Images From FlickrCC and Wikimedia Commons in Blog Posts

If you are having trouble viewing the document, you can download it here as a PDF. Using Creative Commons Images from FlickrCC and Wikimedia Commons in Blog Posts

More detailed advice on using Creative Commons images in blog posts can be found in the Teacher Challenge guide by Sue Waters.

How do you go about using Creative Commons images?

Do you have any more advice?

Ten Tips for Teaching Students how to Research and Filter Information

I was recently involved in a conversation about how difficult it now is to filter what is on the internet and research effectively. In the past, students would primarily use books to research; being overloaded with possibly unreliable information wasn’t really an issue.

Teaching students research skills is becoming increasingly important. Some refer to the filtering and critical evaluation of information as ‘web literacy’.

Unfortunately, many teachers don’t feel confident with their own skills to be able to assist their students with this. Often this is due to the fact that teachers aren’t actively searching and using material from the internet themselves.

Some schools get around this issue by heavily blocking the sites children have access too. My philosophy is to educate rather than block, in most cases.

I’m no expert in this area but I have compiled a list of ten tips that I try to give my students to help them with internet research and filtering. I’d love you to add your tips in a comment!

  • Search: Start with some general key words. If your results aren’t what you want, alter the keywords to make a more specific search. I often encourage my students to put the word “kids” in to find child friendly websites and articles. The Google Search Education website provides detailed lesson plans on teaching search skills. This cheat sheet also summarises some of Google’s advanced search features.
  • Delve: Look beyond the first few results. Flick through a few pages if need be. Let students know that many websites use Search Engine Optimisation to improve the visibility of their pages in search results. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the most useful or relevant sites.
  • Source: Look at the actual URL address to see where you’re going before you click on a search engine result. Use some intuition to decide whether it seems reliable. Is it from a well known site? An educational or government institution? Is it a forum or opinion site?
  • Validity: Ensure students understand that you cannot believe everything you read. Encourage them to make their own judgement by checking more than one source if they’re not sure.
  • Purpose: Be wary of websites that are cluttered with advertisements or might be trying to sell you something.
  • Background: When reading articles, try to look for the author’s name and when the article was written. Is it recent or outdated?
  • Teach: Integrate the teaching of these skills into everything you do. Model your searches explicitly and talk out loud as you look things up. Researching skills don’t need to be covered in stand alone lessons.
  • Justify: When you’re modelling your research, go to some weak websites and ask students to justify whether they think the site would be useful and reliable.
  • Path: Students might like to start their search with some sites they know or have used before rather than randomly googling.
  • Cite: Give students lots of practice of writing information in their own words, and show them how to use quotation marks and cite sources. Remind students about the seriousness of plagiarism and copyright infringement. These are terms even my grade two students used. It’s never to early to learn about web literacy.

Image: 'not quite clear on the concept' http://www.flickr.com/photos/73645804@N00/1431384410

There are some useful lesson plans on the Common Sense Media website if you’d like to try some more structured lessons in your class. There are also some great links on the Education World website.


What tips can you add?

How do you teach ‘web literacy’?

Do you use custom search engines designed for children?

Doing Things the Long Way

In many ways, technology can be time saving. Especially if you know the best way to use it!

Yesterday I attended and presented at the 2011 VITTA (Victorian Information Technology Teachers Association) Conference.

One of the sessions I attended was run by Andrew and Beverly from Mitcham Primary School. They gave a terrific presentation about using iPads in the junior primary classroom.

I learnt so much, but one of the simplest tips I took away was that you can sync more than one iPod/iPad at a time. The number of iDevices you can sync is simply limited to the number of USB ports you have.

This is the fourth year I have been using iPod Touches in the classroom and I can’t begin to imagine how many hours I have wasted by syncing the iPods one by one. At one stage I was in charge of updating eight iPod Touches which I did one at a time. I never thought to try to plug more than one in!

idea

Today I was thinking about how people can go on for a very long time doing things the long way with technology. It’s not until you either try to find an easier way or someone tells you that you realise how easy something could be!

I recently informed another teacher that they didn’t have to type in a URL every time they wanted to visit a site, they could simply save it to favourites/bookmarks. This simple tip which is obvious to most of us made this teacher’s day!

I think it is important that we create a culture of sharing not only with our staff but with our students. I like to explicitly teach my students ICT skills, but I also encourage them to share their tips and discoveries with their peers.

If we have a culture of sharing, perhaps we’ll save too many people from “doing things the long way”!

What is something that you used to do the long way until you realised there was a simpler way?

Image attribution: ‘Who Else Has A Bright Idea?’ http://www.flickr.com/photos/27954776@N04/3168683736

Troubleshooting Computer Problems

I am a big advocate of training my students to become as independent as possible with technology. Many technology users can get bogged down with “technical issues” which can take away from the benefits of using the tools.

As I have written about before here and here, I try to make my use of ICT explicit to my Grade Two students. While teaching incidental skills, rather than simply instructing, I like to ask the students what they think we should do. I believe that confident users of ICT use their intuition a lot and this is something I want to develop in my students.

With the addition of 20 new netbooks to our classroom, the need for students to be able to troubleshoot their own problems has increased.

I recently made this poster to remind students of the troubleshooting skills we have discussed incidentally.

After going through the poster with the students, it is displayed in various places in the classroom as a constant reminder of how to troubleshoot common computer problems.

For a little bit of humour, I love this cartoon that Kim Confino once published in a blog post.

tech_support_cheat_sheet

What other troubleshooting tips could you add?

How do you teach your students to troubleshoot?

Learning to Type

Over the years, the need for my students to be able to type has become increasingly important.

Being able to type with reasonable speed and accuracy helps students to better cope with the technological world they live in. Students are increasingly going to be held back in their school work, everyday life and future career if they don’t have adequate typing skills.

Of course, we still write with pencil and paper daily in our grade two class and have formal handwriting lesson,s but I find typing lessons and practice is often neglected in the primary curriculum.

Throughout the course of each year, I see a big improvement in students’ typing skills just from the regular practice they have with blogging, however we try to do typing practice where we can. This has become easier with the 20 netbooks and 10 classroom computers we now have in our class of 43 students. Typing practice is now a regular activity in 2KM and 2KJ.

Typing Test

Last week, I had the students take a typing test.

Thanks to @rebeccacarr87 for suggesting 10 Fast Fingers Speed Test which, despite the ads, was perfect for my grade two students. It contained high frequency words and no punctuation. It also gives a simple “words per minute” (wpm) score.

typing2

I wrote the students’ best wpm score on a class list and told them we’ll retest again with the goal of improving by the end of the year. The score range was 4 to 21 with an average score of 9.5 wpm. It will be interesting to see how they improve. I only wish I had thought to test them at the beginning of the year!

Teachers of older students might find this Typing Speed Test more useful as it contains more complex paragraphs including punctuation. This test gives a speed and accuracy score.

Typing1

Online Typing Activities

I have put together a collection of free, online typing games for my students into this Sqworl.

The link is http://sqworl.com/9r5u8p

Typing sqworl

Feel free to use it with your students too!

Lessons Vs Practice

I like to give my students a mix of formal tuition in typing as well as practice time.

How people get to the point of being able to touch type is something that interests me. I learnt “by doing” while my colleague, Kelly Jordan learnt through formal lessons, however we both got to the same place as proficient touch typists.

If you consider yourself a touch typist, I am interested to hear how you learnt to type. Did you learn by doing or did you learn through formal touch typing lessons?  Please complete this quick poll!


How do you approach typing lessons and practice with your students?


Do you know of any other good typing websites?

Windows 7 Features I Love

I’ve been using Windows 7 for eighteen months now. I felt a bit silly when I finally decided to learn how to use one of Windows 7 most advertised features the other day- the “Snap” feature to display two windows side by side. It looks great!

This discovery made me think about the large number of Windows 7 users I know who aren’t using some of the great features Windows 7 has to offer.

I’m the type of person who is often looking for a better way to do things so I am sometimes perplexed to see many computer users happy taking the long route. I continually find myself frustrated using the computer in my classroom that is hooked up to the interactive whiteboard and is running Windows XP. I miss some of my timesaving features!

I thought I’d share some of the Windows 7 features that I love. Please comment with any other features you enjoy!

Snap

This feature makes comparing two windows side-by-side and multitasking a breeze. A few days ago, someone asked me if I knew how it works. I admitted that I didn’t after trying to figure it out when I first got Windows 7 and giving up too soon!

To use this feature, simply make sure the two windows you want to put side by side are restored (the “square” option in the top right hand side of your screen).

1. Drag the title bar of a window to the left side of the screen until the mouse is on the edge of the screen and an outline of the expanded window appears. Alternatively, press ‌Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +Left Arrow.

2. Release the mouse to expand the window then repeat to arrange the other window on the right hand side.

snap

Don’t get it? There is a video demonstrating the feature here.

Sticky Note

This is an incredibly simple feature which I understand is enhanced from the Windows Vista feature. I use the sticky note for my to-do list. I have experimented with all different sorts of ways to maintain a to-do list in the past from an actual paper sticky note, Outlook task list, Word document and Firefox add ons. The sticky note is simple, can be colour coded and goes everywhere with me (and my PC).

sticky note

Find out more about sticky notes here.

Search in the Start Menu

If you’re like me, your PC is a maze of documents, videos, music, pictures and other applications. When I’m looking for something, I simply open the Start Menu and type in the name of the file I’m looking for. Voila! Search results appear in seconds. No more wading through libraries and racking your brain to remember where you filed things!

start menu

Improved Taskbar

The taskbar is the tray with icons at the bottom of your screen. Pinning and jump lists means you can have the files and applications you use most right at your fingertips. Windows 7 lets you organise your taskbar with the programs you use most with bright clear icons, much like a Mac.

Hover your mouse over icons with open windows to preview them. Another way that multitasking is made easier!

taskbar

Find out more about customising your taskbar here.

Show Desktop

The show desktop button is incredibly handy if you have lots of windows open and you want to access your desktop without closing everything.  Simply hover your mouse over the rectangle on the bottom right hand side of your screen to view the taskbar and click the rectangle to access your desktop. Unclick to go back to your windows. What did we do before it?

show desktop

Snipping Tool

This is such a quick and easy way to make a screen shot to annotate, save or email. Screen shots are really handy when you’re capturing images of your desktop for blog posts (see below!). I’ve also used screen shots to email someone a computer error, capture an important Tweet and create instructions for handouts among other things! Simply type “Snipping Tool” into your Start Menu to find this feature and don’t forget to pin it to your Taskbar, you will probably be using it a lot!

snipping tool

Learn more about Snipping Tool here.

What are your favourite Windows 7 features?

Are there any features you’d like to see in the next version of Windows?

Top 10 Email Tips

Email is something many people have been using for 10-15 years now. I remember first getting an email address in 1999 although the way I use email has changed dramatically since then.

I would never have thought of checking my emails over breakfast in 1999 yet now my breakfast email session is ingrained into my daily routine.

When I started teaching in 2004, I would never have thought about emailing parents. Now a day rarely goes by where I don’t have some sort of email correspondence with parents and I send out an e-newsletter fortnightly (I wrote more a post about emailing parents here).

It’s safe to say, email is a big part of my professional and everyday life.

While the first email was apparently sent in 1971, it didn’t start to become more widespread until the late 1990s. The popular webmail provider, Hotmail, was launched in 1996, while Yahoo Mail was released a year later in 1997. Interestingly, Gmail wasn’t launched until 2004 and didn’t come out of beta (trial) until 2007!

Even though email is far from new and is a form of technology most people are now “using”, I often wonder how well it is being used.

People not checking or replying to their emails is an absolute pet peeve of mine. I am quite amazed that email has been around for so long now yet in many businesses and organisations, it seems to be optional whether it is used or not. I wonder, for the first 10 to 15 years that phones were around, did people sometimes decide not to answer them?

Many people complain about getting “so many emails” and they just seem to throw their hands in the air and not know what to do about it.

I kept track of how many emails I was receiving for a few days and was extremely surprised to find I am receiving well over 100 emails each day! I knew it was a lot but because I have clear organisational strategies, email isn’t a frustration to me as it is to many.

It seems to me that there is very little information given in workplaces or schools about how to use email efficiently. I wonder if many students who are provided with an email address are given any management advice. The tips below may help fuel a discussion with your class or make your life easier.

Image: 'autoroute à emails...' http://www.flickr.com/photos/29647247@N00/60963915
Image: ‘autoroute à emails…’ http://www.flickr.com/photos/29647247@N00/60963915

Here are my top ten tips for making email a seamless and useful part of your life rather than a constant hassle

1. Three choices – delete, file, respond: If you deal with each email once, you will save a lot of time. When you read a email, delete it if it is not useful or the correspondances if over, file it in a folder if you need to keep the email for reference or respond straight away if the email needs a response that will take only a few minutes. The only time I leave emails in my inbox is if they need a response that will take more investigation or longer than five minutes to compose.

2. Create folders: In order to complete the first step well, you need to have folders. I use Outlook which also allows you to create sub folders. Eg. I have a folder called “school” and sub-folders such as “parents”, “excursions” and “PD”. I prefer this sub-folder method so I don’t have scores of folders to wade through.

3. Check daily: Many experts say it is best to choose set times during the day to check emails in batches (eg. at lunchtime and at 4pm). This is a good idea if you find you are being distracted by email, however I prefer to have Outlook open all the time and I just check it whenever I have a few minutes. Regardless, it is a good idea to come up with a routine to make sure your emails are being attended to regularly.

4. Use a subject line and paragraphs: Make your emails easy to read. A subject line lets the reader know what the email is about and paragraph breaks make emails so much easier to read.

5. Keep your mailbox size down: Some web-based email programs like Gmail have a very large storage limit, however many work emails. like Edumail, have a set storage limit (although Edumail was recently increased). This means you need to empty your sent folder and deleted folder regularly. If you don’t, your inbox will become full and you won’t be able to receive any more emails. Even if you’ve put emails in folders, they still count towards your storage limit. When emails come with attachments like photos or documents,  I usually save the attachment and delete the email immediately.

6. Think before sending: This probably doesn’t need too much explaining. When you send out an email, it is permanent. You need to make sure you’re not writing something that could be taken the wrong way or be considered controversial. If you’re not sure, leave the email to reread later or ask a friend to read over it for you. Err on the side of caution!

7. Get to know your email program and save time: While some email programs have more features than others, it is a good idea to take the time to play around and learn how to use the features available to you. A little time spent learning can save you a lot of time in the future. Some example of time-saving features include distribution lists which let you create a group of people you email regularly all at once (eg. a school team or parent group). Email filtering is a feature that lets you automatically process emails into certain folders or into a certain priority order. Some programs, like Outlook, also let you drag and drop emails into your calendar.

8. Don’t open suspicious attachments: Everyone should know not to open email attachments from people you don’t know as they could contain viruses or other unwanted programs.

9. Use a signature: Create an email signature with functional links to help people get to know you and your digital footprints. My signature links to my blogs, Diigo and Twitter accounts.

10. Unsubscribe from emails you don’t need: I used to be guilty of getting too many email from newsletters, “deals of the day”, blog feeds etc that were wasting a lot of my time and not proving to be overly useful. Last year, I did a cull of these sorts of emails and now enjoy a less cluttered inbox. You will find an “unsubscribe” button at the bottom of most automatically generated emails.

What are your email tips?

Using Downloaded Fonts

For almost as long as I have been using Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, I have enjoyed downloading a range of fonts to enhance the appearance of my presentations or documents.

A couple of people have asked me lately how to use downloaded fonts. This post is an overview.

I’m sure many people agree Times New Roman, Arial, Comic Sans and Jokerman can be a little overused in Office documents.

There are thousands of other fonts available that people around the world have created and shared.

font1

font2

font3

Find a website:

There are a plethora of websites on the internet offering free fonts. Here are just four

1001 Free Fonts
dafont
Urban Fonts
Action Fonts

If you google “free fonts” you will find many many more.

Choose your font:

Some websites offer thousands of different fonts and it can be a bit overwhelming to find one you like.

Most websites organise their fonts into categories such as calligraphy, cartoon, handwriting, stencil etc. This helps you browse to find the types of fonts you are after.

Tip about choosing fonts:

Some fonts don’t include punctuation or numbers. Other fonts have some strange features such as a raised full stop or some uppercase letters looking like lowercase letters.

It pays to play around to find fonts that you find functional. Downloading fonts is so quick and easy that it doesn’t matter if you download some that you decide aren’t useful to you. You can delete them later.

User agreements:

While there are thousands of free fonts available on the internet, most of them are only free for private use. On some sites, the font downloads with a readme.txt file with information about the font, author and usage licence. Other sites like www.dafont.com tell you about the licence information next to the “download” button.

Download:

If you have Windows 7, you simply need to find a font online and click on the download button. When the download box pops up click on save file. You then need to unzip and install your font. Double click on your font to open it and click on extract all files on the tool bar up the top. When your file extracts, double click on the file name and you will be able to see a preview. Finally, click on install on the top toolbar in the preview. Your font should now appear in programs like Microsoft Office (your might need to restart first).

If you have earlier versions of Windows you usually need to copy and paste the extracted file into your fonts folder (you can find this in Control Panel).

More detailed instructions and instructions for Macs can be found on most of the font websites. This site also has some detailed instructions for various operating systems.

Important note about downloaded fonts:

Sometimes, people don’t realise that while their downloaded fonts look great on their computer and documents, they will not appear on others’ computers unless they have installed the same fonts. That means if you’re sharing a Word Document or PowerPoint with someone, the fonts will revert to a (not very pretty) default font. Your formatting might also be all off making your hard work look like a bit of a mess!

If you’re emailing someone a Word document and you want them to see your downloaded fonts, you can send it as a PDF. In Office 2010, go to file, save and send, send as PDF. While there are ways to embed some fonts into Word documents, I have found sending as a PDF to be the quickest and easiest method.

If you’re preparing a PowerPoint to use on another computer, it’s best to choose standard fonts to avoid the formatting issues.

Deleting fonts:

If you download fonts and you decide don’t want them, you can delete them. Your fonts will be easier to navigate if you don’t have to sort through ones you don’t like to find what you’re after.

In Windows, go to Control PanelFonts and right click on the fonts you don’t want. Press delete.

Final note:

Just because you’ve downloaded many fonts doesn’t mean you should use them all, or even three or four, in one document. I believe overusing fonts can look a bit like a jumbled mess. I like to stick to using two fonts per document, one for the heading and one for the body – unless you’re creating some sort of poster or newsletter where you want to create an eclectic look.

You also want to make sure your fonts are easy enough to read. Some fonts are attractive but difficult to decipher.

Have fun with fonts!

Do you download fonts?

What tips do you have about downloading fonts?

Do any Mac users have some insights into downloading fonts to share?

Tech Tools for Teachers is Back!

ABOUT TECH TOOLS FOR TEACHERS

Simon Collier and I began a free e-newsletter for educators called Tech Tools for Teachers in January 2010.

Each edition of the e-newsletter highlights an online tool or site that can be used in the classroom and provides step-by-step instructions on how to use it.

Tech Tools for Teachers is suitable for both primary and secondary teachers and we provide practical examples of how the tool or website could be integrated into the curriculum.

The purpose of Tech Tools for Teachers is to publicise and promote the use of ICT tools and web links to staff who are not regularly sourcing the available information on the net.  This in turn, increasing the use of the wonderful educational tools available online.

THE WEBSITE – TEACHING GENERATION NOW

This year we are making Tech Tools for Teachers bigger and better.

Matt Limb has joined Simon and me, and together we are Teaching Generation Now.

Today we launched our website

www.teachgennow.com.au

Tech Tools for Teachers - Teaching Generation Now

TECH TOOLS FOR TEACHERS e-NEWSLETTER IN 2011

We are continuing the Tech Tools for Teachers emails this year, but this time, due to popular demand, they will come out fortnightly rather than weekly.

Our format has changed slightly. You will still receive emails from Tech Tools for Teachers, with easy to understand, tried and tested technology ideas for your classroom. The bit that has changed is that these emails will be linked to our website where you will find the most recent Tech Tool in full detail, to help you out step by step. You can also browse an Archive of 2010 Newsletters at your leisure.

Of course, Tech Tools for Teachers is completely free and we encourage all educators to sign up. New subscribers can enter their email address on the right hand side of our website.

sign up

FOLLOW US ONLINE

Twitter

@techgennow

Facebook

Teaching GenerationNow

Email

techtoolsforteachers email

Stay tuned and spread the word! It is going to be an exciting year as we strive the meet the needs of this generation.

What ideas do you have for future Tech Tools for Teachers newsletters?

Student and Teacher Blogging Challenges

Whatever stage you’re at with blogging, there is always something new to learn. Fortunately, there is a great community of educational bloggers online and many different ways to engage in professional learning available. Even if you’re the only blogger at your school, you are not alone!

The Student Blogging Challenge and Teacher Blogging Challenge are two excellent forms of free professional development for bloggers.

Student challenge

Teacher challenge

These challenges were created by Sue Wyatt with support from Sue Waters and Ronnie Burt at Edublogs, and Anne Mirtschin.

This Venn Diagram summarises the two challenges:

(Tip: click on the image below to enlarge it)

Teacher Student Blogging Challenges Venn diagram

New Teacher and Student Blogging challenges are beginning soon, so head over to the respective websites to sign yourself or your students up.

************

My Teacher Challenge Guest Posts

Last week, I was invited to write two guest posts for the Teacher Blogging Challenge.

Even if you’re not taking part in the challenge, if you’re currently blogging with your students you may find the information useful.

POST ONE Teaching Quality Commenting

POST TWOHelping Parents Connect with Your Class Blog

student challenge guest post

Have you been involved in any of the Student or Teacher Blogging Challenges? What did you get out of them?

How do you learn about blogging?