Friday, March 16, 2018

Finding Truth in Social Media

Can one find the TRUTH in social media? To answer that question we must redefine what TRUTH is presently.  Many social media platforms have become places where users argue over what they believe and not what is actually factual or in essence the TRUTH.  I recently viewed a post about people who believe that the Earth is a flat disc shape much like a biscuit.  I view this to be ridiculous based on what I believe to be true.  I believe the Earth is spherical based on physics and visual evidence such as eclipses or what I like to call scientific FACTS.  But here is the problem.  A person who is rooted deeply in their beliefs will not be swayed by FACTS.  They will rationalize until they arrive at their own set of FACTS thus making what they believe their own version of the TRUTH.  Social Media platforms currently seem to be taken over with these people arguing over THE TRUTH.
I suggest that everyone save their digital breath.  Your attempts to change someones perspective based on facts is futile at best.  I fear there is no such thing as TRUTH least not within the world of Digital Social Media.  Just sayin.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Do you really like what you "LIKE" on Facebook


A Facebook Hoax

Facebook.  Most of us use it, I would even bet a large number of you found our blog through Facebook.  Well today when I logged into Facebook, there are a number of post all over my newsfeed was another privacy hoax about Facebook starting to charge for the use of the service.  FYI, if the currency is not in US dollars, dealing with a US (granted multi-national) company, it most likely is a hoax.  Now this is trying to get you to click on a fake link and by now you have people calling out the hoaxes quickly, but it got me thinking about other posts on Facebook

Tugging at your Heart Strings

Images encouraging people to like and share if they love Jesus.  An image of a premature baby, pictures of military troops cuddling puppies.  Anything that's going to kind of tug at the heartstrings: the sick kids, the animal abuse, acting like it's some kind of pet shelter.  All of these post are created to get you to like and or share.  But here is the question that you need to ask, why did someone take the time to create this post?

Many Facebook pages are created with the sole purpose of spreading viral content that will get lots of likes and shares.  Once the page creators have piled up hundreds of thousands of likes and shares, they'll strip the page and promote something else, like products that they get a commission for selling. Or, they may turn around and sell the page through black-market websites to someone who does the same.  They do this to trick Facebook's News Feed algorithm, which is designed to give more value to popular pages than the ones, like scams and spam, that pop up overnight.  Thats why your post don’t always show up in chronological order.  The more likes and shares and comments and that sort of thing you have, the more likely it is to be seen by other people ( so make sure your like The Tech Ninja Blog Facebook page and this post).  

If you see a post like this, that seems to be focused only on gaining traffic, hover over the top-right corner of the post and click the arrow to report it.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Working in your Classroom with Google Classroom

If your school uses Google Apps For Education there is include a totally free tool that will allow you to change how you offer feedback to your students,

 Google Classroom. 

 Classroom has under one roof every tool the teacher will need to create a meaningful and engaging task, without having to learn multiple interfaces or do any complex shuffling around of files that only a school’s tech enthusiast usually battles through.  Teachers are able to easily communicate with classes by using Classroom to make announcements, without the need to email groups or individual messages.  Classroom is going to have an impact beyond what it does for the assessments because of the ease of access.  This is because it’s delivered through the Chrome browser rather than an app and is thus totally device-agnostic. Students can use it on their phones, the $50 Android tablet they got for Christmas, Chromebook, anything.  One of its greatest features is its usability. Google Classrooms offers every tool teachers need to create a task. Teachers can easily add links, or attach files.  Then every task goes to a student’s Classroom folder in Drive, their Calendar, and their Gmail. Students can see what they’ve been assigned and teachers can see what’s been submitted.  Both student and teacher can comment and improve in real time.

How to get started:

Easy! Go to and click sign up using your school’s Google Apps account. Only teachers and students whose school has Google Apps can get access to the classroom. Outsiders are not welcomed! After, create your first class, and either enlist students directly or give them the class code on the left-hand side box. After that, simply distribute your first assignment and teach!

There are two ways that Google Classroom makes your classroom more efficent

1) Distributing & Collecting Assignments

There is the problem of distribution of assignments, readings, and resources. I use Google Drive for all the files I use for teaching. I have come up with a couple different ways to distribute them to students. In the end, the result was always the same. Students would have to be logged into their school Google account and click “Make A Copy”. But that lent itself to a whole new host of problems.
By the end of the year, my inbox looked like it was getting spammed by Google Drive share emails from students. Every time a student completed an assignment and shared it with me, I would receive a notification email. This was a nightmare.  By June my inbox was so cluttered that I could not even find my other emails.

With Google Classroom, everything is in one centralized location. Students can view all of their assignments in a specific folder, teachers can store their  materials and activities for the school year on the cloud and all grades can be viewed within Classroom.

2) Revisions & Feedback

One of the best ways students can improve their writing is going through the process of revisions. Editing, feedback, peer editing, and revisions improves student writing. Assuming that you want to take student writing into the 21st century, there are many platforms that teachers can use to help improve student writing.

In the Google Classroom, assignments are distributed to students and when they are ready, they submit them back to the teacher. Students can not revise their document further until it has been seen by the teacher. This prevents students from trying to meet the deadline by submitting incomplete assignments.

Students can then submit the assignment again and again after each teacher revision. All of this is tracked with a student assignment “feed” that keeps things orderly. The assignment also has a space that teachers can message students privately and students can then respond.
Google Classroom provides enhanced feedback and communication.  It allow to easily manage and speed up the feedback process for teachers and student.  This allows the feedback to have a greater impact due to the rapidity of feedback turn-around.

Now Google Classroom is far from a perfect system and it is still missing some features that other Learning Management Systems have.  It is a young product being release publicly for about 13 months as of this writing.  Google has been proactive about release updates to Classroom, recently they have released some new features.  One of these new features is an ability to reuse old posts. Teachers can choose from announcements or questions that they have previously posted and simply tweak them, rather than creating each post from scratch.

Google is also working to make Classroom even more collaborative. Teachers can now post a question, video, or article and ask students to write a response; other students can then respond to their peers’ answers, making it a more conducive forum for discussion.  Google Classroom will create a Google Calendar for each class, which can be accessed from either Classroom or Calendar. Any assignment with a due date will automatically be added to the calendar, and teachers can manually add other relevant dates.  Other updates include the ability to bump an old post to the top of the stream, post an assignment without a due date, and attach a Google Form to a post, which many teachers utilize for surveys or tests.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Celebrate Monday

"Find joy in everything you choose to do. Every job, relationship, home... it's your responsibility to love it, or change it."
Chuck Palahniuk

I am proud to be a teacher.  I think that as a teacher we need to show a respect for our profession that is often missing.  So I came upon this twitter campaign #celebratemondays that wants you to tweet out the amazing things that are happening in your schools.  Here's hoping it can change some attitudes.

Oogling Google Photos

Ok so this post is months (and I mean months) late, but that being said, if you do not already use Google Photos, stop reading, download it, then comeback and finish reading, you’ll be glad you did.  

I just want to know, do you take photos? Do you take a lot of photos (I know I love the burst photo feature on my phone)? Do you have a hard time finding space on your phone for all of them?  Then, when you want to show them to someone, do you spend 95% of the time scrolling for that specific one?

Google Photo’s will show you a better way.

Google Photos wants to automatically backup, organize and enable you to share your photos with who you want, when you want.  It also offers unlimited, FREE storage for life.
You can download Google Photos for your phone or tablet, or even access on a desktop browser to have every photo (and video) on every device synced and available everywhere. 

If you’re on the home screen of the mobile app, you get a reverse chronological view of your photos. The most amazing part of the app is “hidden” though, until you tap the magnifying glass in the bottom right corner. Here’s where the magic happens.
Up top, you’ll see faces of people you know; tap on one of those, and Google will show you all the pictures in your library of just that person. Choose someone who’s grown from a child to an adult, and Google picks them all out and you’ll see the transformation before your eyes.

If you go back to the main search screen and scroll past the Places section, you’ll begin to understand the real power of Google Photos as an organizer. The third section is (vaguely) named Things, but it automatically categorizes your images by everything in them besides people.
If you haven’t fully grasped the gravity of what I’ve explained so far, think about it. After a bit of processing time, Google will have combed through your thousands of photos—from the one you took of yourself in the gym yesterday to the one you took of your dog when he was a puppy 10 years ago—and neatly organized them all with tons of keywords and metadata.

Google above all else is a search company. They’ve made search so easy you don’t have to think about it anymore, and the same can be true with your own pictures. After playing with some of the categories of People and Things, you can do an actual search of your photos and the results are surprisingly accurate.  

Basically, there’s no reason not to love Google Photos.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Student Response Systems: GoSoapbox

Ok so I have been wanting to write about various student response systems since I got back from NCTIES and I am just getting around to it know. Today I wanted to talk to you about go Now this isn't the program that got me wanting to talk to you about student response systems, but I tried it for the first time in a workshop that I was teaching yesterday and I loved it so much that I knew that I had to share it with you right away.

So when you first go to Gosoapbox, you need to sign up for an account, its a quick and easy process, but thats all you will need, no student accounts needed. For any of us in the classroom, we all know how great that is.

After you sign in, the first thing you will do is create an event. Depending on how you run your classroom, you may just want to label it as the date. After you are done creating the event you are given a nine digit code, which will be used later for the students to join your event.

Now the creators of GoSoapbox describe it as "GoSoapBox is a web-based clicker tool used by educators around the world to keep students engaged and gain real-time insight into student comprehension." And I would say that is how it goes. Students go to the same login as the teachers, but instead of logging in, they enter the event code. Once they are asked to enter a nickname. Once they have done that you are able to see how many of them are online. In their interface they have a I understand button and a I am confused button, if they click on the I am confused button, it will flash red on your interface and you can see exactly how many of them are confused. This is all done without disrupting the flow of the lesson.

That alone would make a tool to think about using in the classroom. But as a teacher you have an option to embed a quiz, a poll, or a discussion. Now after you create them they are locked, you click on the the lock for and it immediately becomes available for students. When you are done, you can easily download a spreadsheet with all your data.

Now it is not all perfect, I had a couple of students get stuck after they entered the access code, but a quick page refresh and they were part of the event.  

Now it works on the ipad and the ipod as well as laptop and android tablets so it should work with any devices you have in your classroom.  Give Gosoapbox a try, you'll you be happy you did.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Free Apps

      I have a 16GB IPad 3rd Gen; I have filled this iPad up on three separate occasions and have had to delete apps to update existing apps.  Now while it is good practice to only keep the apps that you use, it just brings about the point of how many apps there are.  With the thousands of apps that are out there, I would say only about 30 percent are quality apps.  With so many apps it makes it harder and hard to find the apps that are great.  Many developers are finding that to make get there apps notices they have to reduce the price, maybe even making them free for a period of time.  I had followed some app tracking websites, but when I looked at the price drops to free, there were still hundreds of apps and many were not even worth the space on my iPad.  Until I found the Apps Gone Free app.  Now they take different app that have drop their price to free for the day, and then they take the best 8-20 apps and list them for you.  Now are all those apps worth downloading, no, there are several photography, exercise and games that are listing and sometimes the same app will be listed week after week, but I still feel that this is a way to get quality apps at the best price, FREE.  
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Tuesday, March 10, 2015


      So Jay let me know about this cool website,  It lets you record your voice ( or anything else for that matter) and then creates an URL to an MP3 of the recording.  He had a teacher at his school using it for a biography project, he had a picture of the person the students were researching an then used the Vocaroo url to create a QR code, then put the QR code over the mouth of the person.  Then when you scan the QR code the student explains all about their person in their own voice.
     I LOVE this idea and I would almost say that any piece of student work that is out in the hallway or even hanging up in the room should have a QR code that explains about that project.  Now I know everyone might not be that extreme about it, but I am interested in the possibilities and see that as a better way to use QR codes them some of the other-ways that I see them being used.
     Now what about if you are not a teacher, you have a child that you have to be away from, you could create a Vocaroo for each page of a book, turn it into a qr code and paste it into the corner of each page, then your child could listen to you reading the book to them even if you are not there.  Just some ideas and I am sure more will pop up.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Teaching About Multimedia with Final Cut Pro and Garageband

What better way to teach about multimedia than to create your own!  As I look back at the type of multimedia that was available to me as a kid I remember Radio, TV,  Books, and Magazines.  No Facebook, Youtube, Vimeo, or Netflix. We live in a multimedia universe where a 10 year old kid can start their very own news station or produce their own YouTube series. The sky is the limit.  As I teach my students and my child about how multimedia is produced it is also important that they learn how it affects them in their everyday lives. I wanted to show students how easy it is today to produce a music video with the technology they have at their fingertips.  If only I had this technology back in the 80's.