Saturday, December 8, 2007

tt4t_015 Stop reinventing the wheel, work "smarter"

It’s Saturday, December 8, 2007 and welcome to Episode 15 of Tech Talk 4 Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. Well we’ve made it to the last week of the semester and next week we have finals. Educators as a group are very giving and always willing to help a fellow teacher in need. Before I reinvent the wheel I always try to first find something similar to what I have in mind for a particular lesson. There has been so much good material created out there by practicing teachers and available on the Internet that a few minutes of searching will usually produce results.

Download MP3

Last episode I gave my Technology Pick of the Week to the Smart Board podcast and as it turns out this pick came at just the right time for me to use a jeopardy-like template that I wanted to use in one of my classes. The Smart Notebook template is available at the Smart Board podcast website and a link to this template is provided in the show notes for this episode.

Smart Board Podcast Episode 102 – Jeopardy Smart Notebook Template
(go to the Files section)

This template was very helpful for a semester end review for my undergraduate technology course I teach. All I had to do was download the template and provide my own customized questions. About one hour later I had a complete unit review in the form of a Jeopardy-like game. This allowed me to concentrate on the content and not spend a couple of hours creating a template from scratch.

My students loved it. This provided an engaging lesson where everyone was paying attention and anxiously awaiting their turn. My goal is to have my students to use a similar format in their future classrooms if they are lucky enough to have a SMART Board. If you do not have access to a Smart Board this could easily be adapted to PowerPoint. Modeling best practices is extremely important if we want our future teachers to become proficient with using technology in the classroom. The old saying of we teach the way we were taught has a certain amount of truth to it.

Here’s another tip. Did you know that the SMART Board has a built in recorder available in the Smart tools notebook software that records everything that happens on the Smart Board? The Smart Board Recorder will record your voice with the use of a microphone and will capture a video feed of what is happening on the Smart board in real-time. This will create an avi video file that you can play back on demand in class or upload to the Internet. Since it is in the avi format you can also edit this file with something like Windows Movie Maker as I have done. To give you a brief video demonstration of how I adapted the generic Jeopardy-like template please visit the show notes and click on the Smart board jeopardy demo link.

Click here for a Smart board jeopardy video demo (20MB Windows Media Video)

Yes I know this is an audio podcast but I have wanted to expand some of the content offerings for this show and sometimes video is necessary to get your point across more effectively. Next semester I may add additional video resources but I have mixed feelings about doing this. When I listen to podcast I prefer audio because I can do other things like driving or exercising while I am listening to an audio podcast. Video requires much more concentration and your multitasking activities are limited, driving and watching a video podcast is to be discouraged not to mention illegal! What do you think? Do you prefer that this podcast stay in audio format or would you like to see more video? Let me know what you think so please send your suggestions to This show is all about sharing so the more we can share together the better we all can be but I need your help so please email me.

Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week

My Technology pick of the week this week is a small computer app called ZoomIt and is available as a free download for Microsoft Windows users.

It seems counter intuitive that as you increase the resolution of your computer monitor that the icons on the Desktop of your computer become smaller and smaller. The reason for this is that you are packing more pixels closer together as you increase screen resolution. To get around this I increase the font size in my Word documents and change the text size in my browser to the largest font setting so that students in the back of the room can easily see what is projected on the screen in the front of the room. The problem is that you cannot increase the size of graphics or change the size of menus and other graphic elements. For us older folks that can be a problem. It is also a problem if students in the back of the room cannot see the projected image in detail. Enter ZoomIt and your troubles of not being able to see the small print from the back of the room are gone forever.

ZoomIt is screen zoom and annotation tool for presentations that include application demonstrations and other demos where it would be nice to see a zoomed in section of the screen in detail. Pressing Ctrl + 1 activates ZoomIt once installed and you can use the scroll wheel on your mouse to zoom in and zoom out. Move the mouse around on the screen to go to different portions of the screen in zoom mode.


That wraps it up for this episode. Show notes for Episode 15 and previous episodes are available on the web at that’s techtalk the number 4 This episode has featured some additional resources including video so be sure to visit the show notes for Episode 15. If you have a comment or suggestion for a future show or a suggestion for a Technology Pick of the Week then please email me at I would love to hear from you. That wraps it up for this episode of TechTalk4Teachers so until next time this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning.

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