Thursday, August 7, 2008 - Make Jigsaw Puzzles for Free

pedagogy19k Jigsaw Puzzlepedagogy19k Jigsaw Puzzle
I just heard about a Website that will enable you to make your own jigsaw puzzles for free! Click on the picture above to see how the puzzle works. The site is called Simply upload a picture file, and you will get a link to a puzzle of your picture that you can post anywhere. I heard about jigzone while listening to Joan and Ben's SMART Board Lesson Podcast. Students can then manipulate this puzzle on the computer to complete the picture. If you have a SMART Board, the picture could be on the SMART Board as students walk in, as a way to introduce a lesson. Those who come in first could go up and manipulate the pieces to put it together. If you don't have a SMART Board, have the puzzle on a computer in your room for students to manipulate.

I'm going to use my puzzle on a SMART Board at the beginning of a teacher training on Word, where we will discuss the different tool palettes. A way to use this puzzle idea in Language Arts would be to create a picture with two or three vocabulary words, and align pictures above the correct words. Having students put these puzzles together gives them some time-on-task with viewing the vocabulary words and thinking about their meanings, while they have fun putting the puzzle together at the same time. You could also challenge students to create their own puzzles, typing in vocabulary words and finding pictures to accompany the pictures. I created my pictures and text using Photoshop. The person who shared this idea said he created his picture by using a free photo editor called PhotoFiltre. This application, however is only for PC. Go to Google's Piscasa for a free MAC photo editor.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Jeopardy PowerPoint Class at RAFT

I had the privilege of teaching a great group of teachers at RAFT on Saturday, Aug. 2. One teacher came all the way from North Carolina! Actually, she was in town for the week because she was going to a workshop in San Francisco, and came to RAFT in San Jose for our Saturday class. By the end of our session, teachers were creating their own Jeopardy PowerPoint games to use in their own classrooms.

We made some corrections to the Jeopardy Directions, so I told the workshop attendees that I would include a download of the new directions on my Blog. Even if you didn't attend the class, you're welcome to download the handout. I'll also include a download of the template here too.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Alice 3D Animation Storytelling Class

From July 14 through August 1, I took a workshop to learn the 3D Animation/Storytelling program called Alice. Alice is a computer program developed by Randy Pausch (The Last Lecture)and a team from Carnegie Mellon University. Alice is a free educational software that teaches students computer programming in a 3D environment. We learned the program the first two weeks from two men who have worked with Randy Pausch at Carnegie Mellon. The last week of the session, we taught a group of middle school students how to use the program. Our group of 24 middle schoolers quickly learned how to use Alice and were programming wonderful 3D animiated stories in no time. It's a great way to integrate problem-based learning and project-based learning into the curriculum. The program can be downloaded for free from the Alice site.

If you haven't viewed the inspirational youtube video clip of Randy giving his "Last Lecture" at Carnegie Mellon, you need to see it. As of today, it has already been viewed over 5 million times, and it was only posted last year. Don, our teacher from Carnegie Mellon, had a difficult time teaching the last class with us on July 25, because Don told us that he had just found out that Randy had passed away that morning. Randy, age 47, died from pancreatic cancer that was discovered in his body in 2006. For more information on Randy, see "An Enduring Legacy" posted by Carnegie Mellon.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Vienna, Austria Conference, June, 2008

What a privilege it was to meet with educators from around the world at the AACE Educational Media Conference in Vienna, Austria, this June. I met with teachers from South Africa, Singapore, Hong Kong, Austria, Australia, Great Britain, and many other countries. From what I heard at the conference, many countries are way ahead of the United States in terms of technology integration. My presentation discussed my doctoral research, illustrating that we as educators are still looking for a picture of the "whole beast" (a throwback to a John Godfrey Saxe poem titled "The Blind Men and the Elephant"), when it comes to forming any pedagogical conclusions about the ways in which technology has impacted today's learners. I presented my research conclusions, and proffered a new learning theory and instructional design model based on the changes in students' new schemata, due to their immersion in the digital age. You can download a PPT of my presentation and view my new instructional design model at

You can also view some online photos and videos from our European trip, starting at, and then just follow the links to see what you are interested in. We visited Salzburg where we took "The Sound of Music" tour, then took a train to Warsaw where we visited with Stas', a student we had living with us for a year when he was 16 - he is now 29! We got to meet his fiancee', Basia, his older brother, and also his parents, for the first time. Stas' parents were so grateful to finally meet the couple who served as their son's "parents" and surrogate family for a year while he lived with our family and went to school here at Leigh High School. His parents don't speak very much English, but we managed to communicate using a Polish/English dictionary, and using the little bit of German that I know, since Stas' mother also knows German. We left as fast friends, and with a deep appreciation for the indomitable spirit of the Polish people. We also visited the ancient city of Krakow, Poland's first capital. I especially enjoyed our visit to the Collegium Maius, one of the oldest universities in Europe (after Prague), dating back to before the 1400's when Copernicus studied there! After four days in Poland, we took a train back to Vienna where we finished our touring and attended the conference. A highlight in Vienna was attending a Mozart concert at the Musikverein, one of the top three concert halls in the world. The music, the acoustics, and the beautiful hall were amazing!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Technology Integration

The Journal of Computing in Teacher Education (Vol. 24/Number 2, Winter 07-08)recently published an issue that focused on some key aspects technology integration. It discussed the renewed and revised emphasis on the construct of something called TPACK that was recently formulated at the 9th Annnual National Technology Leadership Summit. The construct of TPACK helps to underscore the fact that teacher education, especially as it relates to technology integration, must interweave three vital areas of knolwedge: content knowledge, technological knowledge, and pedagogical knowledge, if it hopes to successfully train teachers to integrate technology into the curriculum.

The Journal article pointed out that the construct of TPACK captures two key aspects of technology integration. “First, it emphasizes, through the letters, the three kinds of knowledge (Technology, Pedagogy And Content) that we believe are essential building blocks for intelligent technology integration. Second, and as important, it captures the fact that these three knowledge domains should not be taken in isolation, but rather that they form an integrated whole, a ‘Total PACKage’ as it were, for helping teachers take advantage of technology to improve student learning.”

In the editorial article of the Journal's winter issue, authors Ann D. Thompson and Punya Mishra emphasized that “effective use of technology…involves the ability to make informed decisions on how to take advantage of the affordances of technology…to support specific pedagogies within a particular content area. Thus, teachers need the Total PACKage: the knowledge that lies at the intersection of knowledge of Content, Pedagogy And Technology i.e., TPACK.” They suggest that TPACK can become a shared descriptor of the “powerful ideas involved in creating a synergy among technology, content and pedagogy that honors the interdependence of these three important parts of teacher education and teaching.”

An article in the February 2008 issue of Learning & Leading with Technology also discussed the new focus on TPACK, and provided the above visual from the online wiki of Matthew Koehler and Punya Mishra (

Anita McAnear, author of the Learning & Leading with Technology article, emphasized that the visual highlights the fact that “it is not enough to have general technological knowledge, and that staff development focused only on technology will not accomplish much. You can’t separate out content as it is affected by technology, and technology affects what is important to know and be able to do as well as providing tools.” Teacher education must interweave all three areas, content knowledge, technological knowledge, and pedagogical knowledge, if it hopes to successfully train teachers to integrate technology into the curriculum.

I completed my doctorate in Instructional Design for Online Learning in November 2007, and have an opportunity to present my research findings at an AACE Educational Media Conference in June in Vienna, Austria. At that time, I will unveil the new instructional design model I have developed that illustrates my new learning theory (SCCS). The new learning theory and instructional design model are based on my research findings regarding the ways in which technology has impacted the way students learn. I believe that this new learning theory and instructional design model can help to provide a clearer pedagogical picture that instructors can use as they weave content and technological knowledge into their technology integration.

A diagram of the new instructional design model can be found at:

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Thornburg and Davidson weigh on on Digital Natives/Immigrants

On April 11-12 I attended the Leadership 3.0 Symposium in Millbrae, CA, put on by ACSA, CUE, and TICAL. I have worked in the classroom for over ten years, and this is the first year I have worked out of the district office. I felt privileged to attend a conference where many of the attendees and presenters were administrators instead of teachers. I almost felt like a "fly on the wall" as I sat in on presentations such as Visalia's discussion of how their district moved from grade-based assessments to standards-based assessments (i.e. sstandards-based report cards vs. letter-grade report cards).

I felt especially gratified to hear a spirited discussion between David Thornburg and Hal Davidson regarding their views on the Digital Immigrants/Digital Natives "debate." Thornburg posted an "apology" in his Oct. 20, 2007 Thornburg Center blog regarding his use of the term digital immigrants. He now believes that "the designation of 'digital natives' and 'digital immigrants' suggests a difference that is, at best, largely inaccurate and, at worst, demeaning to educators," and vows to no longer use this term.

Davidson argued that he never thought of this term as an insult. He argued that the designation was useful in several ways. Most importantly, he pointed out, it helps us realize that a significant change has happened due to the affordances of technology. He cited evidence that shows how changing one's environment results in significant changes for individuals. Since many of those who are 35 years of age and under have spent a great deal of their lives in the digital environment, compared to those of us 35 years of age and older, it seems to be a no-brainer that the younger generation will be more impacted.

Thornburg tried to defend his position by pointing out that this "label" suggests that it is the immigrants who need to change. Rather, he insists , it is the SYSTEM of education that needs to change. He believes that calling educators and parents "immigrants" demeans them and gets the focus off the need for systemic change.

As anyone knows who has suffered from the symptoms of an unknown disease for any period of time, only to eventually find out the name of their disease, being able to give a prescriptive name to something provides a valuable service. For one, it validates the person's experience. Second, it gives the experience a "handle" and a starting point from which changes and adjustments can then be made. Labeling students' ability to quickly adapt to technology vs. adults' need to take a little longer to adapt, points out that students' immersion in their digital environment has actually changed the way they think and learn. Yes, the educational system needs to change, but systems also change as individuals change! As argued in my dissertation, students have developed a new social-connectedness and a new cognitive-connectedness due to their immersion in the digital world. Educators need to develop instructional designs that take into account students' new schemata. Yes, the system needs to change, but so do the digital immigrants.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Inserting Photoshop Backgrounds

Saturday, March 8, I will present "Inserting Photoshop Backgrounds" at the 2008 Palm Springs CUE Conference. The handout for this presentation can be found at, or download here. A video of the presentation can be found on TeacherTube at

Using the Clone Stamp on Photoshop, students can easily immerse themselves in the curriculum as they become a character in a story, a scientist at the Jet Propulsion Lab, or a musician at Carnegie Hall!