Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Talking Avatars in the Classroom

Get a Voki now!

While I like Voki and Virsona,
I also reccomend Vocaroo to record students and Blabberize

Other examples:

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Beyond Search

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to review Google search with some NJ educators from Wood Ridge and West Morris school districts. We had a blast using some of the more abstract Google search options and search labs such as Google Sets, Google Trends, and Google Squared. We also played around with making our own search stories, created summer reading libraries using Google Books, and created Customized Search Engines.
In my opinion, Google Squared and Google Sets are 2 highly underused tools in the classroom. I love sets for brainstorming and I love the fact that you can create your own Google Square and print it as a hand out. For more info about Google Squared and Sets click here.
Click here to access the special site I made for all things Google Search.

Photo credit:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Waiting for....TSETC 2011!

This past Saturday I returned to New Milford High School to present at TSETC.
I haven't stepped foot in the high school in 13 years. On Saturday, it looked the same as it always did, but there was definitely a change in the undercurrent of the school. There was a new energy and it was not because of new technology (SmartBoards, ipads, Kindles, and such); it was the educators and administrators who gave up time with their families after a long week of school to take part in a conference and for many, it was their first taste of what a conference like TSETC can do to alter one's teaching craft.

It was fun to see all of my Twitter friends face to face, but what was even more overwhelming is that I witnessed teachers who taught me so many years ago, still working to become better teachers- the true definition of a life-long learner. It was surreal to sit next to my journalism teacher from my Junior year, Mrs. DePoto, in an iPad session.

In my session, I shared with Mr. Tusa, a veteran and beloved educator at NMHS, some tools to integrate technology into his classroom using insert linkFree Web 2.0 tools.

After all, these were the teachers who taught me so many years ago, teachers who challenged me and teachers who I have great respect for, teachers who made me want to teach. Ironically, Mr. Tusa came up to me afterward and thanked me for all of the resources.

I don't deserve the thanks, he does. After all his years of teaching he still strives to learn and to improve his craft.

In the light of recent education media, TSETC is a testament that we don't need super heroes to improve education. We need teachers, students and parents to work together. I have two daughters, and I take full responsibility for their learning, hoping along the way that they have exceptional teachers, like the ones I met at TSETC this past weekend.

I know that next year TSETC will be even bigger and better. I also think it would be great to invite parents to attend and to perhaps have students and teachers co-present a few sessions.

This is part of the Tri-State Education Technology Conference (TSETC) Blogger Café Contest sponsored by edSocialMedia. TSETC is brought to you by Schoology.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Taking Another Look at Google Books

Google Books in the Classroom

Get The Tool:

What is it?

Google Books allows you to search, bookmark, organize, and share millions of books and magazines from libraries and publishers worldwide. Google Book Search allows you to search the full text of books -- from the first word on the first page to the last
word in the final chapter – so you can find books that interest you. Book Search works like web search. You can try a search at Google Book Search ( or on

Once you find a given book, you can browse available pages, search further in that book, find online reviews, and learn where to buy the book or check it out of a nearby library, and in some cases, even read the entire title online.

Finally, Google Books allows you to create your own "My Library" consisting of custom bookshelves with public and private options. You can also rate and review books, take notes, view common terms and phrases, and search for related books.

Why use it?

Students can use Google Books to:

  • Create a library of books consisting of bookshelves of titles they have read and titles  they would like to read

  • Read and write reviews of books

  • Find a book at a local library or purchase a book online

  • Search for a phrase within a book

  • Preview a book by reading the overview or a limited preview of the book

  • View popular passages and common terms and phrases

Teachers can use Google Books to:

  • Familiarize students with a book they are about to read by previewing different editions and cover art designs of a novel

  • Find a list of related books

  • Create an online classroom library

  • Embed a book in a classroom blog for easy access by students and parents

Instructional Ideas

  • Elementary: Creating an author study using a Google Books bookshelf is a wonderful way to increase reading comprehension and make text connections. Here is an example of a teacher created author study bookshelf on Mem Fox:

  • Middle School: Create a genre unit study using a Google Books classroom library with bookshelves classified by genre. Provide students with a list of books and have them classify the books by genre. Students can write notes and reviews after they have read and classified them.

  • High School:When writing research papers, students can use the Advanced Book Search feature to narrow down results by time period, language, and exact phrases. Students can also use the "Find in a Library" or "Search Inside this Book" features to further enhance their research.

Your Tool in Action

Project: You Are What You Eat

Grade/Subject: 9-12/Cross -curricular


Using Google Books previews from the books Fast Food Nation, Food Rules and Food Inc., as well as previously learned historical, scientific, and mathematical concepts, students will explore and compile data regarding the impact of food on individuals, societies, and the environment in both modern and ancient times.

What is the impact of food availability, production, and consumption on an individual, a locality, and a society?
• Why are there chemicals and packaging in my food? What are the effects of these on my body and the environment?
• How can I improve my health and the environment with the food I consume?
• How are foods marketed?
Students will choose or be assigned a food and trace its evolution, availability, consumption, and environmental/cultural/social impact. Using this data, as well as their own experiences and secondary sources, students will draft a research paper.

Students will use Google Books to search and add related texts to the "You Are What You Eat" bookshelf, add notes about the books, search common phrases, etc.

Expert Tips

  • Use Advanced Book Search - to narrow search by language, full view, search just magazines
  • Import books into your library by ISBN number
  • Share your library through an RSS feed

Additional Resources:

More Examples

  • Google For Educators-Book Search-

  • Inside Google Books-

  • Google Books adds New Features and Tools-

  • 10 Ways to Use Google Books for Lifelong Learning and Research -

Complimentary Tools

  • Blogger- embed a book in your blog

  • Google Squared- classify books by genre

  • Google Maps- use google maps to view places mentioned in the book or to create your own a google lit trip- of a book

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Taking a Leap

For the past 3 months I have been working with educators from various Jersey City Public Schools, on a Leap 21 Technology Initiative.

It has pretty much been a boot camp on web 2.0 and various applications including but not limited to blogging, glogging, podcasting, video production, voicethread, rss feeds, Google tools, etc. I even convinced some participants to get on Twitter. We have one class left on 5/1 and here are some of the resources from the past 6 courses:
I am amazed at the ideas that have come out of these courses and cannot wait to see the final presentations at the showcase.

Google Docs at NJEA Headquarters

This weekend I spent my Saturday with some NJ educators in Trenton. I revamped some of my google docs presentation:
With Lisa Thumann's help I finally wrapped my brain around creating a self - grading quiz! The directions can be found at the site above.
Besides meeting some great teachers, it was a special day because my brother, Jim Dray, was drafted to the Arizona Cardinals!!!!