Small (but interesting) Tip for GoogleSites Tab Icon

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The small square / shape next to the website title is usually a standard icon (in Google, the icon that identifies what it is: doc, site, etc.; in other sites, the logo of the site: the Twitter bird, etc.). In GoogleSites but also in other sites, follow these steps to change that icon to what you want it to be:

  1. Identify the image you want to use.
  2. Change its size to 16 x 16.
  3. Save it using this filename (exactly; there are no variables here): favicon.ico
  4. Upload it to your attachments.
  5. This should change that icon.

(This definitely works on GoogleSites and should work on others, as the favicon.ico protocol is recognized by browsers (as opposed to being used by a specific site design tool), though each site creation method I suspect will have its own location for storing this file.)


Apps vs. Systems: What Technology PD Should Be

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There’s a lot of chatter of course about apps for the iPad, classroom, schools, etc. And apps of course are a big part of the iPad. But I would suggest that content-specific apps are less of a concern (and I will admit that this entry / position might be more applicable to a high school setting, ironic because high school becomes more content specific; elementary school I suspect is more focused on content-specific apps).

The more I’m involved with technology PD, either as a consumer or a provider, the more I am convinced that specifics, be they applications for a computer, apps for a device, or websites, are not what teachers want or need. If I show up as a tech PD provider and say ‘This website will improve your teaching’, the assumption is that that area (whatever area the website covers) needs improving. As a teacher in that situation, my most likely response is something along the lines of ‘Cool, but I’m happy with what I’m doing’. And I don’t fault that teacher, nor do I chalk that teacher up to yet another example of teachers fearing change. What the PD provider has done is solve a problem the teacher doesn’t have.

Technology PD needs to start with systems and teacher-generated shortcomings. Teachers need to say ‘I want to become more efficient in x’ (grading, organization, presentation, annotation, etc.) and the tech PD should focus on that. Maybe that will be a content-specific app but more often than not it becomes an approach with a number of possible tools that the teacher can use. I taught a 6 day after school intro-to-Mac course (the Mac Training at the top) and, as suspected, the most valuable day was day 1, which was spent largely with an overview of little things to adjust in your Finder and file management (for instance, setting the folder that a new Finder window opens) system. This is what (most) teachers need: systems to make technology work for them, systems that are within their reach skills-wise (z+1), and systems that they will wonder how they did without. Another website or app for them to learn, pilot, troubleshoot, and generate or convert material for will only contribute to the already prevalent feeling of too much being added without enough taking away.

Technology makes my life more efficient, and there’s no reason it shouldn’t function that way for all teachers.

PS. I of course have plenty of apps that I love and that I rely on. If you’re looking for a way to assess apps or review apps, either indivudally or as a school, click here. It’s a great post on reviewing apps with lots of different rubrics, assessment sheets, checklists, etc.

Guidelines for Student Blogging

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One of the hurdles in establishing student blogs is a set of guidelines governing how they blog. A lot of what I’ve written about thus far concerns the tension between freedom and oversight. It occurs to me that a well written and clear set of guidelines (a bit like what Bethann referenced in the email I mentioned a few posts ago) might mitigate that tension, i.e. am I willing to give them more freedom from the outset if they sign a set of guidelines that details what is expected of them? I suspect I am. So here are some specifics from the resources that Nancy provided. I will likely adapt these to my own.

Student Blogging Guidelines [from]

As a student blogger at ISB, you are expected to follow these blogging guidelines below. Use the questions in italics to help you decide what is appropriate to post on your blog.

1. Only post things that you would want everyone (in school, at home, in other countries) to know.
Ask yourself: Is this something I want everyone to see?

2. Do not share personal information.
Ask yourself: Could someone find me (in real life) based on this information?

3. Think before you post.
Ask yourself: What could be the consequences of this post?

4. Know who you’re communicating with.
Ask yourself: Who is going to look at this, and how are they going to interpret my words?

5. Consider your audience and that you’re representing ISB.
Ask yourself: Do I have a good reason/purpose to do this?

6. Know how to give constructive feedback.
Ask yourself: What will I cause by writing this post?

7. Treat other people the way you want to be treated.
Ask yourself: Would I want someone to say this to me?

8. Use appropriate language and proper grammar and spelling.
Ask yourself: Would I want this post to be graded for proper grammar and spelling?

9. Only post information that you can verify is true (no gossiping).
Ask yourself: Is this inappropriate, immature or bullying?

10. Anytime you use media from another source, be sure to properly cite the creator of the original work.
Ask yourself: Who is the original creator of this work?

Commenting Guidelines

As a blogger, you will be commenting on other people’s work regularly. Good comments:

  • are constructive, but not hurtful;
  • consider the author and the purpose of the post;
  • are always related to the content of the post;
  • include personal connections to what the author wrote;
  • answer a question, or add meaningful information to the content topic;
  • follow the writing process. Comments are a published piece of writing.

These are the guidelines to a biology blog; they are simple and concise, and a rubric is included below.

Here is a graphic with some both concise and well-presented thoughts on posting (from a Slideshare by Jaqui Sharp:, via Nancy’s resources):


This graphic included in this PowerPoint from the New South Wales (Australia) Digital Citizenship site (though it’s unclear where the PowerPoint is on the site) does a good job I think of summarizing the idea of scope of digital citizenship (it was an animated slide, so I screencast it and uploaded it to YouTube under the site’s Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license):



Though there is too much to go through here, this is a good meta-site with links to not only various resources on digital citizenship but also the different categories / areas of digital citizenship.

And this is a step-by-step guide to setting up a class blog (though a bit too general).

Digital Etiquette & Blogging

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Nancy has posted some great resources for Blogging guidelines and Netiquette here. Some of the resources deal specifically with blogging and some deal with more general Netiquette. The relevance of this was brought to my attention by my wife, whose alumnae association hosted a speaker from Smith, a dean of something or other, who discussed how Smith is addressing Netiquette with the freshmen (specifically around issues of formality and appropriate access in correspondence with professors). I don’t see too much of this in my work (though I do see some), but it occurred to me that an adapted form of this document would be a good thing to include in my goals and expectations. You can find the Smith document here; it’s very interesting reading.

Resources from the TEC Blogging Class

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Nancy has put together some great resources (both her own and culled from others). Here are some of my favorites:

Her home page on student blogging (all of the resources at left here are good, but some of my favorite / the best are included below).

How to comment on a blog: a nice visual and an amusing video from some CA 3rd graders.

Guidelines for student blogging.


Definition of Blogging

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As I said, I’m here at TEC’s Blogging class, taught by Nancy C., and I’ll be updating regularly throughout the course.

Nancy pointed out Google’s Blogger definition of what a blog is, and it seems like a good one:

“A blog is a personal diary. A daily pulpit. A collaborative space. A political soapbox. A breaking-news outlet. A collection of links. Your own private thoughts. Memos to the world.

Your blog is whatever you want it to be. There are millions of them, in all shapes and sizes, and there are no real rules.

In simple terms, a blog is a web site, where you write stuff on an ongoing basis. New stuff shows up at the top, so your visitors can read what’s new. Then they comment on it or link to it or email you. Or not.”

Update & Summer Goals


Just wanted to check in with my five or six (generous estimate?) readers out there. I know it’s been a while since I’ve written; we’ll chalk that up to standardized test season (I’m the AP & SAT Coordinator at school) and, after testing season, wrapping my schoolwork up before having shoulder surgery last Monday (so, yes, I’m typing one-handed right now). Sed de hoc satis.

The iPad pilot is officially over, but I will continue to use this space to discuss iPad, Mac, and tech-in-education issues. My goals for the summer are these: 1. Sort out the intersection of iCal, iCloud, and GoogleCalendar; I’ve attempted this perhaps 3/4-heartedly, but I’d like to figure it out for good; doing so would make life a lot easier. 2. Figure out a viable approach to student blogging; I’m taking a two day workshop in July on this, so more after that. 3. Improve student/parent communication: this will begin with Twitter, i.e. assessing the extent to which that experiment worked, and assessing the alternatives. 4. Sort out the various platforms available to me to streamline distribution to and collection from students.

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