Posts Tagged ‘Technology’


Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

I love exploring new online tools, or at least tools that are new to me!  Today, I was working on a presentation for next week and I decided to give Symbaloo a try.

Symbaloo is a way to bookmark resources for another group of people, such as a class, or for your own use.  For the most part, I really like it as a class resource organizer.  The biggest advantage Symbaloo may have over my other favorite site for curating resources, Livebinder, is that it has the familiar, at-a-glance appearance of a screen full of apps.  I, like most folks, am now very used to scanning a page and looking for a particular app, whether I am on an ipad, an android, or just the Google chrome home page.  I also like that you can customize the images on the tiles, the number of tiles and the background.  If you look below at the webmix of KET arts resources that I made today, you can see that I was able to upload images for each tile or I could just choose one of the standard icons.  Finally, I like that you can have several tabbed webmixes on the screen.

Picture 19

I do have one problem with Symbaloo – I really don’t like the big square in the middle of the screen.  I’d like to be able to delete it, move it, or at least use it as a title for the page, but those aren’t options.  All you seem to be able to do is choose whether it is a Google search box, another kind of widget, or, in my case, a “newsfeed,” which turned it into a big blank box.

Perhaps Symbaloo will get rid of the big box soon.  In the meantime, I do really like the concept and will enjoy using this page during my presentation next week!

iPads. Are you ready?

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Congratulations! You finally have iPads in your school! Now what? Well, perhaps KET can help. Here is the rundown on KET resources and the iPad:

iTunes U!

This is such an exciting time! KET, the Kentucky Department of Education, and the University of Kentucky have partnered to create a Kentucky page in iTunes U, which has loads of KET content that can be streamed or downloaded to the iPad. The best part about this is the option to subscribe. Shows like News Quiz or Kentucky Life can be automatically downloaded without much effort on your part. You will need to use your primary computer (the one you sync with) to take advantage of the subscription service, because iTunes U on the iPad does not offer the option to subscribe.

Here is how you get to the Kentucky page:

1. Launch iTunes on your computer or mobile device
2. Click on the iTunes Store on the left sidebar
3. Click on iTunes U a the top of the page
4. Click K-12 in the Quick Links section on the right sidebar
5. Then click Kentucky
6. To see just KET content, click KET under Partnership Content on the right sidebar.

Discovery Education

On Discovery Education’s main site, the videos won’t stream on the iPad due to software issues. However, Discovery has a mobile site at with about 6000 videos that are streamable on the iPad. Some of the teaching materials are available as well, but none of the audio, images, and other content are available yet. They are continuing to add more content as they can, so perhaps soon!

Another option is to use a desktop or laptop computer, download Quicktime videos from Discovery’s regular site, and then use iTunes to convert them to an iPad format. When you sync your iPad(s) to your computer, you’ll be able to view the videos.
The Discovery Education Channel on YouTube has a 45 minute archived webinar that includes directions on how to do this.

*My next blog will be about setting up student accounts in Discovery, so you can let your students log into the mobile site and enjoy access to these videos!

Teacher’s Domain

At this point, the only videos I have found in Teacher’s Domain that stream on the iPad are KET’s recent contributions, such as Arts in the Renaissance, Tunneling for Water, Water Solutions, and the Native American Culture collection. There are many more KET videos in TD, including professional development videos!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the new and improved KET EncycloMedia, it now includes KET Ed on Demand, Discovery Education, and Teacher’s Domain! Click on the image to check out all of these fabulous resources!!! Be sure to let me know if you have any questions.

It is important to note that Flash, which is the software used to create and play most, if not all, of the interactives available through our media repositories,  still isn’t compatible with the iPad browser. This means that the fabulous interactives in TD, Mission U.S., the Physics Lab, and Scale City will not work.  Hopefully, Apple and Adobe will work that out soon!

I hope this is helpful to those of you searching for high quality educational content to use with your iPads. When you have a chance, please let me know what wonderful things you are doing!

STEM: Reflections and Resources

Thursday, May 12th, 2011


Recently, I was asked to participate in a professional development day that focused on STEM related topics. Knowing that KET has an abundance of STEM related resources, I was happy to comply. However, I began to wonder how much I really understood about the various STEM initiatives in the state and around the nation. I knew STEM stood for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math and that the acronym was being used everywhere in all realms of education.  I knew fabulous new STEM related programs and facilities were popping up everywhere, so I also knew there were some major funding initiatives out there. Really, that is about where it stopped, so I decided to do a little light research and share what I learned.  I have also gathered together many KET STEM related resources that you can explore here.

Efforts to improve education in science and math are not new. They have waxed and waned throughout the history of public education in the U.S. However, this new initiative uses a new term, which refers to technology and engineering as well. The history of the term STEM turned out to be fairly easy to ferret out. According to a recent article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Dr. Judith Ramaley, created the term when she worked at the National Science Foundation from 2001- 2004. According to Dr. Ramaley, the NSF was using the term “SMET,” and she felt that STEM sounded nicer and “suggests a meaningful connection” between the disciplines instead of implying Science and Math were most important. She must have been right because the term is now widely used, and I have never heard SMET before.


The term “STEM” probably spread in part because it was used in the congressionally mandated report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future, which was released by the National Academy of Sciences in May of 2005. Rising Above the Gathering Storm is a comprehensive report that addresses what needs to be done in K-12 education, in research, in higher education, and in public policy to make the U.S. competitive in the global market and advance our country in general. The report addresses the consequences of doing nothing and makes a number of recommendations for action. There is a sense of urgency in this report (which I only skimmed – it is 509 pages) because of the rapidly changing

world economy. The main point is that other countries, with lower wage earners, are currently doing a better job of educating their citizenry in STEM disciplines than the U.S.  As a result, a large percent of STEM jobs will go to these countries if the U.S. doesn’t make drastic changes soon.  Loss of these jobs would be devastating to our economy and recovery would be very difficult. The report also addresses the importance of STEM disciplines to public health and the environment.

After the release of this report, many states moved forward with their own studies, including Kentucky. Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education’s report was called Kentucky’s STEM Imperative: Competing in the Global Economy and was released by the STEM Task Force in March of 2007. If the STEM state of the nation was bad, Kentucky’s was even worse. According to the report, Kentucky was ranked as follows:

From the United States Education Dashboard

  • 40th in fourth grade mathematics performance
  • 16th in fourth grade science
  • 35th in eighth grade mathematics performance
  • 18th in eighth grade science
  • 29th in the number of students taking AP exams
  • and the list goes on . .

The report also included this alarming statement, “According to the Council’s recent Developmental Education Task Force Report, ‘the proportion of undergraduates underprepared in mathematics who received developmental education services ranged by institution from 64 percent to 96 percent.’(A Plan for Improving College Readiness and Success, page 10)”

The STEM Task Force made recommendations in the report as well (these are straight from the document):

  1. “Energize and fund a statewide public awareness campaign to help Kentuckians understand the critical importance of STEM to their own economic competitiveness and to that of the Commonwealth.
  2. Create incentives and a supportive environment for students, teachers, and institutions that pursue, succeed, and excel in STEM disciplines throughout the P-20 pipeline.
  3. Implement international best practices in professional development programs for P-16 STEM teachers to increase the intensity, duration, and rigor of professional development.
  4. Improve teacher preparation programs and encourage people with undergraduate and graduate STEM degrees to enter the teaching profession.
  5. Revolutionize how STEM subjects are taught, learned, and assessed and implement a statewide research-based STEM curriculum that is aligned with global workforce and academic standards.
  6. Engage business, industry, and civic leaders to improve STEM education and skills in the Commonwealth and create incentives for Kentucky businesses that employ and invest in STEM educated students.
  7. Develop an ongoing, coordinated, statewide STEM initiative that maximizes the impact of resources among state agencies, schools, colleges and universities, and businesses and is focused on developing and attracting STEM-related jobs to Kentucky.
  8. Target energy sustainability problems and opportunities in Kentucky and the nation as a primary objective of statewide STEM enhancements.”

Photo by H. Morrison

So there it is.  STEM is everywhere in education and that is a good thing. We definitely need the next generation to be more innovative, knowledgeable, and tech savvy and, as annoying as acronyms can be, I don’t mind this one too much. It pulls these disciplines into one entity. They exist not as stand alone, theoretical disciplines, but as interrelated disciplines that lead to real world innovation and quality of life improvements. Not by coincidence, the STEM disciplines are integral to other initiatives and reforms such as Senate Bill One and the Common Core Standards, which focus on college and career readiness, the Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act of 2006 (our state received 20 million as a result of its passing), and the Partnership for 21st Century Learning.

See some of KET’s great STEM resources here!


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