I Don’t Normally Do This…

I don’t normally recommend products, but I supported a Kickstarter campaign (later moved to Indiegogo) which I have been quite impressed with. Volta, a magnetic charging cable for all devices is, in my humble opinion, amazing. It has become the last charging cable I will ever need. It is military-grade, branded nylon with magnetic tips for lightning or micro USB. They come in a variety of sizes and colors. I’ve purchased several so I have a cable in my car, at work, and a couple of spots in my home. All of my devices have the magnetic charging adapter in them so I can charge any device with the one cable. Below is a review from YouTube:

I would recommend checking them out! Plus, an added bonus, with the link below you & I get a discount: http://voltacharger.refr.cc/dangallagher


Let me know in the comments below what you think…

Presented at a Recent Conference… #EdublogsClub

This post is part of the #EdublogsClub – a group of educators and educational technology enthusiasts that blog around a common theme each week. Simply write a post and share it (via social media w/ #edublogsclub or posting a link as a comment to that topic’s posting on the Edublogger site) to join in, or sign up to receive email reminders of each new prompt. 

Prompt: Write a post about conferences and professional learning.

Here are some possible topics to help get you started:

  • Write a list of the top conferences you want to attend before you retire.
  • Have you presented at an academic conference? If so, write about your presentation and share with everyone!
  • Write about the most inspiring speaker you’ve seen at a conference, and tell about how it impacted your approach to education.
  • Write a post discussing tips for getting the most out of conferences.
  • Write a post about what conferences need to do to continue to be a positive force in education.

Last week (June 27, 2017) myself and a few of my colleagues attended and presented at the South Brunswick Technology and Learning Conference. This is one of the most organized conferences I’ve attended recently. Other than some audio system trouble at lunch, the rest of the day was flawless (in my humble opinion). They take some inspiration from Edcamp, i.e. collaborative session notes and the ‘Rule of Two Feet’. The kickoff keynote was entertaining with a great message on youth leadership opportunities.

I facilitated two sessions, Creating with ThingLink and another on Making Google Forms Work for You. Both sessions had low attendance, but for those there, I believe they found great value, were able to get a little hands-on, came up with some integration ideas, and had all their questions answered. Below are the resources I used in my sessions:

Overall (even though I didn’t win any door prizes), this was a great conference! Plus, as an added bonus and something I think other conferences need to keep in mind, South Brunswick waves your registration and gives you a nice ‘goodie bag’ for being a presenter.

2 Common Homeschooling Challenges And How To Overcome Them

Imagine that you’re a parent who lives in, say, Indiana, and rather than enrolling your young child in a regular school, you’re thinking of homeschooling your child because you’ve read a number of books about it, spoken to a few parents whose children have benefited from it, and have become quite enthused by the whole concept.

How do you go about it, assuming you have the time, interest, and passion for staying on top of academia?

The first thing you should do is enroll in a virtual education website for homeschooling in Indiana, which will be an online public charter that is open to all students who are enrolled in sixth to twelfth grades. The second thing you need to do is to research some of the big challenges of homeschooling that you might face. And the third and final thing you need to do is to get the ball rolling and overcome any of the challenges you’ve been able to identify based on your research.

Challenges of Homeschooling

Your challenges won’t arise from the curriculum, lesson plans, or even your ability to get up to speed on Algebra or remembering how to balance a chemical equation. Instead, your primary challenges will be the types of challenges a project manager might face like scheduling and technology.

Challenge #1: Creating Realistic Schedules

It’s one thing to set up a schedule; it’s another to get everyone in the family to go along with it. Your child may not be in the mood to do what’s on the schedule or your spouse may have family plans that will throw the schedule off course.

Here are some possible solutions:

  1. Learn the mechanics of scheduling.

For instance:

  • ·  You will need to create realistic schedules on what can be achieved in a given time
  • ·  You will need to allot enough time for core subjects, rather than allow your child to spend most of their time on favorite subjects.
  • ·  You will need to allow contingency time for interruptions to the day.
  • ·  You will need to avoid making the schedule too tight, which will make it difficult to sustain in the long run.
  • ·  You will need to create a pace that will help your child complete their curriculum in a timely way.
  • ·  You will need to give your child enough time for hobbies, play, or sports, as well as for spending quality time with family and friends.
  • ·  You will need to give yourself enough of a work-life balance so that you don’t burn out.
  1. Get everyone on board.

A democratic-type family meeting will help minimize family members disrupting the schedule.

  1. Tweak as necessary.

While a schedule may look good in theory, for one reason or another, it may not be realistic. Instead of getting frustrated, tweak the schedule as necessary until it works for everyone and under most circumstances.

Challenge #2: Troubleshooting Technology Issues.

If you aren’t good with computers, smartphones, and tablets, you might find homeschooling challenging. For instance, if you don’t know how to install software or do some basic troubleshooting, you will quickly get frustrated when programs don’t work the way they should or your computer is slow or you accidentally download malware.

As part of homeschooling, you will frequently need to install apps or use online research tools that will help your children to learn and it’s necessary to be comfortable with using technology and know where to get help if you’re having big technical problems.

Here are some possible solutions:

  1. Identify what parts of technology you find difficult, and then find ways to learn how to close the skill gaps.
  2. Get coaching from someone who is good with technology, or, in the worst case scenario, take classes that will help you get the basics down.
  3. What if you’re good with setting up and troubleshooting hardware issues, but don’t have much experience with using certain types of software? For instance, your child may want to use Evernote, Asana, or Microsoft OneNote for organizing all their notes. You will probably be able to find YouTube tutorials on how to use popular software that isn’t always intuitive.

Personal Management and Home Schooling

The most difficult aspects of homeschooling probably aren’t what most people think. They aren’t related to getting on track with the syllabus, finding accredited courses, or sourcing educational materials. Instead, they are related to issues like organization, discipline, and time-management.

2 Video Tool Recs… #EdublogsClub

This post is part of the #EdublogsClub – a group of educators and educational technology enthusiasts that blog around a common theme each week. Simply write a post and share it (via social media w/ #edublogsclub or posting a link as a comment to that topic’s posting on the Edublogger site) to join in, or sign up to receive email reminders of each new prompt. 

Prompt: Write a post about videos and/or that includes a video.

Here are some possible topics to help get you started:

  • Write a post about any topic, but embed a video. Even better if you created the video!
  • Discuss how videos have helped you engage students?
  • How have videos helped you be a better educator?
  • Share a story about a lesson that involves videos and how the students responded in ways you didn’t expect.
  • Create a list of video clips that either provide educator professional development or help create lessons in the classroom.
  • If you find incorporating videos difficult, discuss why you find them challenging.

One tool that I recommend to teachers who find it difficult to incorporate video in the classroom is VideoNot.es. This is a tool which connects with your Google Drive to save your files. The power of VideoNot.es is in the ability to sync your text to the timestamp of the video. As the .gif image (click it to see it in action) below shows, as text is typed, it is timestamped to that moment in the video.

‘How to Start a Movement’ TED Talk

VideoNot.es File (view only)

My second recommendation is for teachers to use EDpuzzle and flip their instruction. EDpuzzle allows you to pause videos for thought points, open response questions, or multiple choice questions. Below is an example to try out.

If you have used or plan on incorporating either of these tools in your teaching, I would love to hear from you in the comments below.

I Just Had To Have It… #EdublogsClub

This post is part of the #EdublogsClub – a group of educators and educational technology enthusiasts that blog around a common theme each week. Simply write a post and share it (via social media w/ #edublogsclub or posting a link as a comment to that topic’s posting on the Edublogger site) to join in, or sign up to receive email reminders of each new prompt. 

Prompt: Write a post about tips and tricks that help you get the most out of your days.

Here are some possible topics to help get you started:

  • What apps help you boost your productivity? Why?
  • Describe your daily routine, What could you do to improve your productivity?
  • Share the story of a time when you were more productive than you thought you would be and how you managed to achieve that.
  • Share your favorite organizational tools that help make you more productive.
  • Create a list of tips that help you stay focused on tasks.
  • What is one aspect of being productive with which you struggle?

Ever see a 360 image on Facebook and say, “I Just Had To Have It!” That was me the other day (much like this State Farm Commercial)

“I know right, I saw it and just had to have it”

I saw a post on my Facebook feed of a 360° image of the Oval Office.

I thought this would be perfect for a ThingLink VR/360° image to be tagged, heck maybe even a digital Breakout EDU. But the image would need to be uploaded into the editor. How do I save an image like this… Hmmm… I did some digging and discovered a Chrome Extension, Azimuth: Download Facebook 360° Photos and Videos. One note, when going through the steps of downloading the image, make sure you are on the image URL and choose to download it as an equirectangular image.

Let me know if you have tried this extension and what kind of an image you have downloaded.

Chrome Extension Recommendation…

A small backstory… there was once a tool for leaving voice comments in Google Docs which I loved. But, tragically, they decided to pull their integration to be a separate service where you would need to go into their dashboard, sync your students’ Google Docs and then be able to leave voice comments. I wasn’t pleased with the extra clicks/steps involved and so, sadly, whenever asked about the ability to leave voice comments inside a Google Doc, I would have to tell my teachers that there was no easy way.

That was until today…


When this newly found extension is installed on your Chrome account, it will convert the url to an audio action button and play the recording (example images below).

  •  How the audio URL appears in this blog post when the extension is installed.

  • How the audio URL appears in a Google Doc comment when the extension is installed.

  • How the audio URL appears in a Google Classroom private comment when the extension is installed.

This works in comments for a Google Doc, Slides, Google Classroom, Twitter, Facebook, and many more… So you are probably asking, what is this magical tool (drum roll please) Talk&Comment (website | extension). The video tutorial below highlights how easy it is to use and how useful it will be for you and your students!