Black History Month Resources

This summer, I spent a few days in Memphis, Tennessee. The highlight of the trip (other than catching up with my fantabulous college friends) was visiting Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum.

We had a delightful tour guide that showed us the house and shared stories that have been passed down through the generations. The moment that made the biggest impression on me was standing shoulder-to-shoulder with 10 other adults in the tiny basement. I'm 5'2" (in shoes!) and I had to stoop down in some places so I wouldn't hit my head. Our guide explained that there could be as many as 40 slaves living in this basement for days at a time. It was such a humbling experience. If you're ever in Memphis, please take the time to stop by and visit.

Unfortunately, we can't really take actual field trips to Memphis, so I hope you can use some of these resources with your students.
  • Scholastic's Underground Railroad: Escape from Slavery - this interactive unit includes a teaching guide, myths of the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman Web Hunt and Reader's Theater, Slideshows, and several images, documents and interviews in the Primary Source Gallery.
  • Fact Monster's Black History Month Links - includes many short articles about Civil Rights Heros, Notable Speeches, the March on Washington, and more. 
  • The Underground Railroad from National Geographic Education  - Be sure to run through this interactive journey and see some of the other resources here.
  • The Underground Railroad from The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center - this site does a great job of explaining what the Underground Railroad was, the risks Escaping Slaves endured, Maps of some of the routes, and more. 
  • Songs for Black History Month
  • KB...Konnected's Kaleidoscope of Wonderful Websites - is a fantastic collection of online activities to celebrate Black History Month by one of my favorite bloggers over at KB...Konnected.
Do you have a favorite resource that I haven't listed here? If so, leave a comment!

Tech Tip Tuesday ... Outlook 2010

Outlook 2010 is an outstanding email management and calendaring program that gives you so many more options than using the web version at live.com. If you are already using Outlook to access your email, skip down a bit to learn some tips and tricks that can make your life even easier!

EM-S ISD Peeps: If you still access your email in district by opening an internet browser and going to www.live.com (or by going to the district site, clicking Employees, clicking the Live@edu Sign-In link), please follow the simple directions at the EM-S ISD Tech Tips blog to set up Outlook on your computer and begin using this application as your email program. If you need assistance with this, please contact your CTI, IT, or turn in a Technology request in Helpdesk.

Be sure to check out this great Introductory Video about Outlook 2010. I've been using Outlook for more than a year now and I still learned a few new things!

My Favorite Outlook Tips & Tricks
  • When entering a contact's name in your email, begin typing the first few letters of the first name. Hit Control + K on your keyboard to see all the possible contacts from the district address book.
  • Need help? Hit F1 (a function key at the top of your keyboard) and easily search through Outlook's Help information.
  • Did someone send you an email (instead of a meeting request?) with details about a meeting or appointment? Just click and drag the email over to the correct date on your calendar and it will turn into a meeting!
  • Easily create an Email Signature! On the Message tab, in the Include Group, click Signature, then click Signatures. Click New and enter your signature information. You can include colors, images, and more. (If you have a blog or webpage, be sure to include that address!)
Even more Outlook help ...
  • Outlook 2010 Quick Reference Card - this 2-page PDF file includes basic and advanced mail tips, calendar how-to's, keyboard shortcuts, and more. If you're new to Outlook or looking for new things you can do, be sure to check it out!
  • Basic Tasks in Outlook 2010 - this article explains (in very simple terms and screenshots) basics like creating emails, forwarding/replying to emails, working with attachments, email signatures, calendar appointments, contacts, tasks, and more
  • Outlook Skills Builder - from using tasks and reminders to customizing your inbox view, get the most out of Outlook with this video training series. 

The Picnik's Over (or will be soon)

Picnik has been an online photo editor that we have used in district for a while. Unfortunately, they have announced that they will be closing up shop as of April 19.

If you have pictures stored in an account with  Picnik , you can use the Picnik Takeout tool that allows you to download all of your images in one zipped file. 

The good news is that  Picnik is allowing all users to use their Premium tools for free to edit images between now and April 19, so be sure to take advantage of that!

In the meantime, if you're looking for a new online image editor, be sure to give Pixlr a try - it's my (current) favorite. It allows you to work with layers, etc. to create impressive graphics! If that's just TOO much and all you want to do is a little basic photo editing, try out Pixlr Express. I think you'll like it!


Office 911: Keyboard Shortcuts

This fun little video is a good reminder that there are lots of keyboard shortcuts available in Office applications (and others!)

I read about this video on The Microsoft Office Blog. I recommend you check it out!


Tech Tip Tuesday ... Awesome Screenshot (for Google Chrome)

I love screenshots. I use them in handouts, emails, blog posts, etc. There are lots of screenshot tools out there and I've even blogged about a couple of them before, but this may just become my #1 go-to screenie tool! In addition to the ability to draw arrows, add text, and mark up the screenie, this one also has a built in BLUR tool that would be so handy when taking a screenshot of a gradebook or any other screen that contained personal information!

Before you get too excited ... this tool will only work in Google Chrome. If you use Internet Explorer or Firefox, there are other options available, but unfortunately Awesome Screenshot isn't for you.

Chrome users can head over to the Chrome Web Store and search for Awesome Screenshot. Add it to Chrome (click the giant button!) and you will see it appear on your toolbar. Easy-cheesy ... right?
  • Click the tool on the toolbar
  • Select the portion of the screen you'd like to capture. If you choose "Capture Selected Area," draw a box around the desired area of the screen and click Capture.
  • Use the tools at the top of the screen to mark up your screenshot. (My favorite tool is the BLUR tool!). Click Done when you're finished.
  • You can save your image online (I'd probably never do that), save it to your computer, or just copy it and then paste it into a document or email.
What do you think? Do you have a favorite tool like this you'd like to share?


    Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Resources

    Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is coming up! It's a Staff Development Day in our school district, so the kids will be home, but you may want to use a couple of these resources in your classroom during this week. Check out this excellent video about Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Thank you KB ... Konnected for sharing this great "find"!

    Additional Martin Luther King, Jr. Resources

    Something new ... MailChimp

    For more than a year now, I've been blogging regularly pretty regularly. I've also sent weekly emails as a way to remind district teachers and staff to check out the blog. Occasionally I forgot to send the email or it was really, really late when I did finally remember. I'm sure there were times people saw the email, but just didn't have the time to click on the link and go out and read the blog. 

    That brings me to MailChimp! I'm trying this new service that automatically sends an email once a day IF (and only if) there's new content on the blog. The "good thing" for me is that I don't have to remember to send the email. The "good thing" for you (my dedicated readers!) is that you can read the new content directly in the email without having to go to the blog itself.

    I may have mentioned once or twice (or fifty) times before that I like getting comments on the blog posts. Feel free to go to the blog to leave a comment, or you can even reply to the email and I'll add it to the blog.

    If this much email is just TOO much (remember, never more than 1 per day, and only when there's new content), you can always unsubscribe using the link at the bottom of the email.

    I won't lie. The whole set-up process wasn't as easy as I would have liked, but I think I've got the hang of it now. If you're a blogger and are interested in an email system like MailChimp, let me know and I'll be happy to help you get started.

    Check out  MailChimp  now!

    Tech Tip Tuesday ... Magisto!

    Do you have a video camera? I'm not talking about a big fancy-schmancy professional camera. I'm talking about a "Flip" style camera, or a digital camera that takes stills AND video, or even a video camera on your smart phone or iPod! Chances are, you have access to some sort of video camera and you may even have hours (or at least minutes) of video just sitting on the device itself or transferred over to your computer. What are you going to do with it? How will you share it with others?

    Magisto is a fun and easy way to create and share videos. You will need to register for a {free} account, then begin your first project. Just upload your video files, create a title, and select a soundtrack (they provide some music or you can select your own). Magisto somehow magically analyzes your video and selects the most important portions, adds professional transitions, effects, and highlights and ..... voilĂ  ... you've got a professional looking video ready to share with your students, their parents, and the community!

    Guess what? Last week, Magisto released a free iPhone app that allows you to create these professional videos right from your phone!

    How can you think of ways to use Magisto with your students? I can't wait to hear some of the ideas and see some of the video projects! If you're an EM-S ISD teacher, don't forget that we have several small video cameras that can be checked out to teachers for classroom use. (Just contact your IT!)


    Tech Tip Tuesday ... Remind 2 Me!

    If you're like me, you probably check your email throughout the day. However, I don't check my calendar as often and sometimes I forget meetings or appointments (shocker!). Remind 2 Me is a free online reminder service that will send reminders to right to your inbox.

    Enter your subject, your message, and the email address where you want it sent. Choose a delivery date, then click the green Save and Remind me button!

    I will be sending myself reminders to pay my bills, change the a/c air filter (because apparently that's pretty important!), have my tires rotated, etc. How can you use this in your classroom or professionally?


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