Elissa Malespina: Library Media Specialist

Who are you and what do you do?

Hi I am Elissa Malespina, the Library Media Specialist at South Orange Middle School in South Orange, NJ. I work hard to arm our more than 700 students with the library and technology skills they need. In my spare time I present at conferences on many Web 2.0 technologies such as Pinterest, Evernote, Livebinders, QR codes, and Twitter among others. You can see my presentations here http://emalespina.wikispaces.com/. I have written two articles for School Librarians Workshop on using QR codes and Pinterest in the library which you can also access on my wiki. I am a Trustee of the South Orange Public Library and am helping to plan this years New Jersey Association of School Librarians Conference. ¬†ElissaI maintain an active twitter account where I tweet about technology and library issues @SOMSlibrary and have become addicted to Pinterest where I have 38 boards dealing with such topics as Common Core, Apps, Great Technology and more. You can follow me at http://pinterest.com/somslibrary/. Oh, I am also in the process of going back to get my Supervisory Certification and did I forget to mention that I am the mother to a sports loving 9 year old? I am also an avid Seton Hall Pirates Basketball as well as a Giants and Jets football fan. Yes, you can like both teams!! They play in different leagues ūüėČ

What hardware are you using?

I am an Apple Girl! Once you go Apple you never go back :-). I use my iPhone for everything. I am lost without it. It works great at work to get around the filters especially when I need to research something for a student that is blocked by our filters. I also have a Macbook Pro and an iPad but I have to admit I use my iPhone much more than I use my iPad.

We are a Windows school, though, so I have a Dell Laptop for my use, 2  Desktops at the Circulation Desk and a Desktop computer attached to the Smartboard that we have in the library. There are 26 Dell Desktops in the library that students and staff have access to. We also have a lab across the hall with another 19 Dells that our teachers can use as well as 4 Laptop carts with 12 computers each that teachers can check out to use with their classes. We are piloting 1:1 computing with a team of 6th grade teachers.  There is a set of 32 Dell Laptops that are shared among the team. I am in charge of the scheduling of all of those computers. I have a Google Doc set up that teachers can view but not edit to see when the computers and lab are available. The teachers then email me or come see me to sign out the equiptment.

SOMS also has 34 Nooks that I have loaded with over 100 books that students can check out. I am piloting the use of these in the district. Thanks to a combination of grants and district money I have been able to purchase so many for our students. They have gotten an amazing response from the students and they love checking them out and reading the books on the them. I also love being able to say ‚Äú that book is checked out, but you can get it on the Nook‚ÄĚ. Click here¬†for more information about my program and the AUP that I use. I have no problem talking to anyone about some of the tricks that I figured out from my experiences with deploying Nooks in our library.

As I mentioned previously we have a huge Smartboard at the back of the library. I use it to give presentations to classes but also to connect with people around the world on Skype and Google Hangout. Within the last two years we have connected with Authors, different classes, Anthropologists, Directors of Technology and even Astronauts on the International Space Station. I could not do without that set up!

And what software?

At school and home I would be lost without the following software:

Destiny Library Manager (my card catalog program): I could not do my job without it!  It is my card catalog program. I use it to check out books, run reports, catalog books and equipment, do inventory, send email notifications to parents about overdue materials and so much more. Online card catalog programs have revolutionized libraries and made it so much easier for me to do my job. I really could not spend as much time as I do teaching students about all of the different technologies we use if I had to hand catalog books.

Edmodo: this has been a game changer for the students and staff who use it in our school. Thanks to Edmodo students can now safely communicate with each other and staff about school work. Teachers can post assignments, give quizzes, post documents for students, administer polls, keep a class calendar and so much more. Our teachers even use it to communicate with students when out sick and away at conferences. Edmodo has really given our the students the ability for 24/7 learning. In my library I use it in a different way than my colleagues because I don’t have a specific class. It is the one place where all the students in the school can come together to talk about school and books. One example of this is the South Orange Middle School Compliments page I created and moderate where students send me a Direct Messages with compliments about staff and students and I then post them on the page. It is all anonymous! The students and staff love this page. For digital learning day I posted a poll asking what their favorite Web 2.0 tool that we use in school was and they picked Edmodo as their favorite.

Evernote: I have taught all of our students about Evernote. ¬†They have created accounts and have used it for at least one project. In the pilot 1:1 program my students use Evernote daily. ¬†Students keep an eportfolio with all of their writings and make notebooks for each of the units in their English Class. They take all of their notes in it and can take pictures of charts and notes on the board and put it in their notebooks. Students then share their notebooks with me and their English teacher, my “Tech Partner in Crime,” 6th grade ELA teacher Melissa Butler @AngelinaShy. Evernote has organized the notoriously unorganized middle schoolers and has made it that students no longer have the excuse that they don’t have something (I forgot it at home, my dog ate it, etc.) because they can access all their information from everywhere. We have also seen great improvements in our Special Education students who use the software. ¬†It keeps them much more engaged and organized. The other day I was teaching a class of students how to use it and I called it life changing. A student came up to me after school and said, “remember how you said Evernote was life changing? You were right it is. Thanks for showing me it.” That right there is why I do my job! Mrs. Butler and I also recently taught teachers and staff at the Teachers College at Columbia University how to use Evernote with Readers and Writers Workshop. Evernote came in a close second in the Edmodo poll.

Livebinders: I use this tool to make binders filled with information on different topics that I present on and also for staff to use for Professional Development. We have students curate binders with information that they are using for different research projects as well. I love the fact that you can easily organize websites, video, documents and more. Users also gain access to an amazing, searchable library of binders that other people created. There is a binder on almost any topic. I recently taught a member of my PLN how to use it and he is now using it as the textbook for the college class he is teaching.

Glogsterand GlogsterEdu: This is an online poster making tool and I have taught all of the students in the school how to use it. By the time they leave SOMS students have used Glogster for at least one project. I even have one of the PE teachers using it with his health classes!  Glogster allows students to put text, images, graphics, videos, audio and links to websites on an online poster. It takes that poster project that all teachers assign to the next level and really showcases the creativity of our students.

Animoto: My students love using Animoto to make book trailers and mini videos for their classes. It is a really simple, easy to use program that creates great videos. The 6th grade students have it as one of their choices in the author study unit and they have made some amazing videos!

Delivr: I use this to make QR codes for the library. I love this site because it has great free analytic tools and you can customize the QR codes. I make QR codes that I put on books and signs around the library. They link to book trailers, authors websites and more information about the book. I also have made QR codes posters for the teachers with links to the their websites and we put it up outside of their doors. It is a huge hit on back to school night with the parents. Another thing that I did this year is make posters with synopses of books and QR codes with links to book trailers and we are putting them up in the bathroom stalls in the the schools.I also teach my students how to make them and they attach them to different projects. The possibilities of uses with QR codes in endless and I stress that when I present on them at conferences.

Google Drive: I could not live without it. I use it consistently! Almost all of my documents are stored on it. I teach my students how to use it and it is an excellent cloud based alternative the office suite. It is great for students and group work because it is so collaborative.

Wikispaces: The libraries website is a wiki. It is so easy to use and looks great. I also love all the widgets and how easy it is to embed content. You also have the ability to make wikis collaborative.

Flipsnack: Love love love this site for taking word documents and making them into interactive flip books that can be embedded and is easy to share on facebook and twitter.  I use this site put the schools newspaper online .I also use it for the libraries year end report and the summer reading list. Their are so many great ways to use it in school and with classes.

Popplet: A great website where you can share your ideas and organize information collaboratively. The students love making popplets and I use it all the time in presentation. So simple to make and fun to customize.

BufferApp: I love this site and app for twitter. I can write different tweets and schedule them to go out at different times. It is great because when I find something that I want to tweet about I don’t have to tweet about them all at once I can spread out my tweets so that I can reach a wider audience. I also don’t need to be at the computer or by my phone to tweet. It is also very easy to use and have a great analytic tool to see just how many people your tweet reached and how many times the link was clicked on.

Twitter: The best professional development I have ever had! I have learned so much from so many amazing people and participated in chats with people from around the world on many great topics. It is also allowed me to advance my career. I have gotten asked to speak at conference, write articles and even got a chance to be featured on this blog because of it!

Pinterest: I have become obsessed with pinning! I have over 35 different board on topics ranging from Great Apps to Common Core Resources and Books Worth Reading It is an amazing professional development tool. I have gotten so many great ideas from it. I just wrote an article about it and how it can be used in by school librarians  that was featured in School Librarians Workshop. Click hereto read the article it is on page 13.  

There are so many more that I use but those are a few of my favorites and the best part is that they are all FREE!!

What would your dream set up be?

I would love to have a 1:1 computing environment. Having piloting the program this year I see how it has changed the way that we deliver instruction. I want all my teachers and students be able to learn in a 1:1 environment. As my friend, Tom Murray @thomascmurry Award Winning Director of Technology at the Quakertown School District says you can spend tons of money on equipment but without PD it is worthless. We need to make sure that we also do a good job offering teacher driven differentiated instruction to our staff so that the technology that we give to our teachers is implemented correctly.

Ideally at some point like to move into the role of Professional Development Coordinator for a District or Technology Integration Trainer or Director of Technology.( I like to keep my options open ūüôā ¬†Technology is my passion and l love being able to share my knowledge with others. That is one of the reasons I love presenting at technology conferences.

I can not thank Daniel enough for choosing to spotlight me on his blog. I am honored to be his first school librarian featured! I hope I am the first of many. And remember your librarian is their to help you so use them. They are a great resource!

John Fritzky: 5th Grade Teacher

Who are you and what do you do?

I am John Fritzky and I teach 5th grade at Chester Stephens Elementary in Mount Olive, New Jersey.  This is my 9th year teaching at this school, and I have been flipping my math class for a little over a year now.  I have a certification in both special education as well as regular education.  Before landing at this school, I was a special education teacher for kindergarten, second and third grade.  I blog here and can be found on Twitter: @JohnFritzky.

What hardware do you use?

My favorite device is my MacBook Pro.  It has a 2GHz Intel Core Processor, 4 GB of memory and I’m currently running OS X 10.8.2.  I love it because of its ability to some serious work and still be portable.  Every year I take hundreds of pictures and video clips of my 5th grade class and at the end of the year I put them all together and create an IMovie of about 20 minutes for students and parents.  Everyone gets a DVD when they leave my class, I do not publish to YouTube because I want to keep everything in house.  I always have a ton of video by the end of the year, about 100 GB, and the MacBook Pro handles it flawlessly.  I also love the ability to text message to other Iphone users using my laptop, I can be working on a project and not have to go and find my phone, I can just respond on my keyboard.  Great idea!

For school I was issued an HP Probook 4530s to use with my SMART Board.  The work amazingly well together. This computer has more than enough horsepower to handle anything a school can throw at it.

I also use a Wacom Bamboo Pen Tablet to create lessons for my flipped math class.  The bamboo is light, portable, and very responsive, a great tool for creating lessons.

In our class we also have a SMART Document camera that allows us to share writing or problems students have solved in class.  It is wonderful to have the abillity to take a piece of writing and make it visible for the whole class.

My class has 18 HP Probooks to use as well as 3 desktop computers, so that is a total of 21 computers…yes I know how lucky I am. ¬†When my superintendent asked what he could do to support my idea for the flipped classroom and 18 computers rolled in the next year. ¬†It is great to work for someone who puts his money into a technology and concept he sees value in.

And what software?

Software/applications that I use for personal productivity:

  • Tweetdeck¬†— allows me to participate or view at least four different conversations at once on twitter. ¬†Except for sports, I don‚Äôt watch TV any more, my shows are now on Twitter.
  • Google Chrome¬†— this allows me to bookmark useful lessons and then bring them to school. ¬†The apps are great and stay with me no matter what computer I‚Äôm on.
  • Evernote¬†— allows me to store everything in one place, I use the Chrome app version when I‚Äôm away from my MacBook Pro.


Software/applications that I use for school:

In order for my students to have success in our flipped classroom, this the software I use:

  1. I use SMART Notebook and SMART Recorder to create the lesson.  It has tons of visual features, different colored pens etc. to make the learning more visual.  The SMART Recorder is great because you can upload the videos directly to YouTube once you have finished a lesson.
  2. YouTube¬†— stores all the videos I have made for the flipped classroom and storage space has so far been limitless. ¬†YouTube has allowed me to upload content longer than 5 minutes once they realized I was an educator. ¬†If you are trying to create lessons longer than 5 minutes you might need to break them up into 2 parts at first.
  3. Google Sites¬†— I organize all my lessons by chapter on Google Sites. ¬†It makes it so easy to connect YouTube videos. ¬†I click on the edit page button, insert, and there is an option to embed videos from YouTube. ¬†No formatting issues what-so ever.
  4. Google Forms¬†— I ask the students about 5-8 questions about the video they watched, plus their first and last name as well as a parent email address. ¬†This form is then embedded below the video. ¬†Because everything is Google based, it all works seamlessly together.
  5. Flubaroo¬†— The Google Script that has changed the way in which my math class functions. ¬†After students have completed their homework Flubarro uses my answer key to automatically correct the student homework. ¬†It then provides a spreadsheet and pie graph for every question answered. ¬†This means I know how every student did on the homework before they walk into my classroom. ¬†I am able to differentiate immediately.
  6. Ten Marks¬†— Is a web-based program ¬†(I learned this one from¬†Richard Byrne) that allows you to search by standard and then assign that standard to your class or individual student. You can assign 10. 20 or 30 problems, and each problem you are allowed to ask for up to 3 hints. ¬†There is also a video embedded for every problem if the students get stuck. ¬†Amazing resource as we are all moving towards the common core.

For my other subjects:

  1. Kidblog.org¬†— My students post their writing and are now connected in a quad-blog with three other classes from England. ¬†If you are looking to connect with a quad-blog you must check out¬†http://quadblogging.net/¬†and register your class.
  2. PBWorks¬†— My class uses this to collaborate on projects together and post writing they aren‚Äôt ready to share with the rest of the world. ¬†Only students in our class have access to this.
  3. Prezi¬†— Students completed¬†book reports¬†using Prezi and then post them on their kidblog site, it is like Power-Point on steroids.
  4. Voice-Thread¬†— Students upload pictures and then narrate through the pictures, so far we have used this as another way to¬†replace a book report.
  5. Skype¬†— We have a¬†Mystery Skype¬†about once every two weeks. ¬†We haven‚Äôt tried Google Hangout yet, but it would be cool to have three or four schools going at the same time.

What would your dream setup be?

I honestly have a great set-up right now with 18 laptops in my classroom.  The only thing I would change would be to have half my students with a laptop and the other half with a tablet that has a camera.  The laptops take about 5 minutes to turn on, and log on.  Sometimes we just need access to the internet and yes, we cannot wait 5 minutes.

I would also love to have a keyboarding class start in grade 4.  I think it should take place everyday for at least 3 months to provide the students with the keyboarding skills they need.  Moving forward what do you think is more important, that a student learns to write in cursive, or learns to type?  Right now it doesn’t seems as though we have time to teach both.

Diana Potts: Science & Social Studies Teacher, Edtech Advocate

Who are you and what do you do?

Diana Potts, I teach 4-6th graders, science and social studies, with a 6th grade homeroom. I also provide edtech support to teachers. In my spare time I lurk on twitter, blog, and participate in edchats. My professional interests include edtech, successful PD, classroom design and PBL. 

What hardware are you using?

It depends on the task at hand. My weapon of choice is my MacBook Pro. I went all Mac about a year ago and haven’t looked back. When I want to create in Google Earth or Sketchup, I use my Pro as it can keep up with my squirrel-like attention span to pull from various sources. On the go I use my iPad2 and iPhone.  At work I use a MacBook laptop (with a split OS, using mostly Windows). Working in both Windows and Mac on a daily basis is a plus as it allows me to see pros and cons to both.

When I’m in full work mode, I’ll have my Pro and Work computer open and bounce back and forth using one for research and one for creation.

And what software?

Again, depending on the task at hand.¬† If I‚Äôm at home I use mostly Mac products.¬† On my ‚Äúwork‚ÄĚ computer I use Windows 7 products, I mostly stick to Word and Publisher.¬† Lately I‚Äôve been using Google Apps more and more as well as Evernote because of their ease of mobile access across devices.¬† When I want to create a movie or presentation, I go to the Mac products; I find Keynote and iMovie intuitive for my thought process and just cleaner looking in final product.
For work I use SMARTnotebook for visual support for lessons. Our student notebooks have SMARTnotebook on them, giving students a choice to use it for their end product..

What would your dream set up be?

Technologically speaking, my ideal would be to have a cart of MacBook Pros for student use and then 1:1 iPads. I would have Apple TV and a high quality projector.  The iPads would act as my Document camera and connect through the Apple TV for projection (I like to dream rich.)  The wireless would allow for BYOD for student use of personal devices, such as phones.  My students would each have a Google Apps account for collaboration and creation. My classroom would look like a cross between a science lab and a Google thinking/collaboration space.

Dan Callahan: Instructional Technology Specialist & Edcamper

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Dan Callahan, an Instructional Technology Specialist at Pine Glen Elementary School in Burlington, MA. I’m also the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Edcamp Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to spreading and supporting free, participant-driven professional development for teachers. I tweet as @dancallahan and I blog at Remix Teaching.

What hardware are you using?

I’m pretty much exclusively Apple hardware these days, although I certainly didn’t intend to turn out that way. I was a pretty hardcore PC guy, but when Apple released the Intel-based polycarbonate MacBooks, I decided to give it a shot, since I’d always be able to run Windows if I didn’t like it. That was six years ago, and I haven’t looked back since. I have a work-supplied MacBook Pro to get stuff done there, and at home I have a 5 year old iMac that I’m hoping to upgrade soon. Between both, I have my iPhone 4S (64GB, black) and 3rd-generation iPad (32GB, black). I also run a computer lab with several N-computing setups, and my school currently has 60 iPad 2s that I use with my students.

And what software?

When the speaker before me at a conference left his coffee on the table and it spilled into the back of my MacBook Pro, I was really glad that I’d switched almost completely over to cloud-based software. Thanks to the Mac App Store, I was able to redeploy almost all of my software very quickly. Thanks to Evernote, DropBox, and Google Drive, I had all of my must-have files back after a quick download. Across all my devices, I use Reeder to keep up with my RSS feeds and Echofon to keep up with Twitter. Skitch is an essential screenshot annotation tool for me when I need to explain how to fix an issue to a teacher. For photo management I use iPhoto, but I do serious editing work in Adobe Lightroom. For video editing I use iMovie, but I’m planning on dabbling in Final Cut Pro X this summer. If I need to make a document or presentation that looks nicer than what Google Docs can handle, I revert to Pages and Keynote. Finally, one of my most essential apps is Sparrow, which I use for all of my email on the Mac.
On the iPad, some favorite apps for workflow include GoodReader for PDF annotation, and Agenda for calendar management. I’m really enjoying using Paper these days for note-taking. With the kids, I love Toontastic, Book Creator, iMovie, and Drawing Pad.

What would your dream set up be?

Those new MacBook Pros with Retina screen look incredible. I‚Äôd want one of those plus an additional 27‚ÄĚ Thunderbolt display at home and at work. I‚Äôd gladly carry the machine between the two locations. I‚Äôd also upgrade my iPad to 64gb with 4G service.

Tony Vincent: Learning & Technology Consultant

Who are you and what do you do?

I used to teach 5th grader and now I’m self-employed as a learning and technology consultant. I have the pleasure of empowering teachers with technology. Much of my time is spent traveling to conferences, schools, and workshops. When I’m not traveling,¬† my work hours are spent in my home office finding new web and mobile apps, bookmarking resources, recoding podcasts, blogging, and preparing for my next presentation. You can find my work at¬†learninginhand.com.

What hardware are you using?

OFFICE WORKSPACE

While I might be known mostly for my work with¬†mobile learning, my main computer in my office is certainly not very portable. I got the biggest and fastest iMac I could get my hands on. One 27 inch screen wasn’t enough for me, so I have two additional 27 inch displays connected to that iMac. I’m pretty much surrounded by screens. I can move my mouse among all of the screens. This way I can have multiple webpages up at once while composing a blog post or planning a presentation.

Typically¬†TweetDeck¬†takes up one whole screen. Other times I can be playing full screen video on one screen while getting work done on the other two. Admittedly, having too much open at once actually decreased my productivity. I’m not a believer in multitasking. I try to remove all distracts, including turning off email notifications, so that I can work uninterrupted on one task for as long as I can. When Twitter or a video is just a glance away, I can quickly lose focus and then a task takes a lot longer to complete.

I plug my iMac, cable modem, and Time Capsule WiFi router into a UPS. That’s an¬†Uninterruptible Power Supply¬†which is a big battery. If power goes out, it takes over so that my computer doesn’t suddenly shut down. Power can go out and for 15 minutes I can still be online.

Since I spend so much time at my desk, I’ve treated myself to an¬†Aeron¬†Chair. I have a¬†foot cushion, which makes sitting at the desk feel extra comfortable and seems to help me keep a better posture.

After losing eight years of work when my “School” folder was accidentally deleted and one backup became corrupted and the other was a sham (I will never trust nor use¬†Carbonite¬†ever again), I now go overboard on backups. I backup to an¬†Apple Time Capsule. I also weekly connect a¬†Drobo¬†and make a complete copy of my hard drive.

You can’t see one wall in my office because a huge green screen is set up. I keep it there for my podcasts and for other videos I make. To do chromakeying with a green screen wall, you need proper lighting. So I have two floor work lights that illuminate the screen. Then I have two soft box lights that provide lighting for me. I rig all four lights together using extension cords and power strips. Here’s a¬†PDF that links to what I bought for this setup. Everything plugs into one outlet controlled by a wall switch. ¬†That was I can flip a switch to turn and off all four lights for filming. After filming I use either¬†iMovie¬†or¬†Final Cut X¬†to replace the green with a backdrop of my choosing. ¬†I then use¬†Screenflow¬†to layer items on top of the video.

MOBILE WORKSPACE

I love the MacBook Air for its speed. In fact, I had to upgrade my iMac to using an SSD (Solid State Drive) because I am addicted the snappiness. Because of these fast flash-based hard drives, my Macs boot more quickly than any of my iOS devices.

My MacBook’s SSD is limited to 256 GB, which is not nearly enough to hold everything I can to travel with. Mostly I want to bring my past presentations so I can pull out slides and put them into what I’m currently working on. So, I travel with a¬†1 TB USB hard drive. I use it to bring with me all of my files and to clone my MacBook. You see, I use¬†Carbon Copy Cloner¬†each night I’m done working when traveling to make a copy of everything on my MacBook. Should my laptop be stolen or malfunction, I can boot into a clone of my MacBook Air from my 1 TB drive on any other Mac.

I have many adapters, cords, and gadgets I travel with. To keep them organized, I use a¬†Grid-It. It’s a board covered in elastic bands. I can pull my Grid-Out out of my bag and have access to any of my do-dads I might need.

I carry a lot in my Grid-It, including a¬†Logitech Cube. It’s a wireless presentation remote that doubles as a wireless mouse. I also carry around a¬†Tekkeon¬†battery supply that I can use to charge my iPhone or iPad when traveling. You’ll also find in ¬†my Grid-It a Verizon Mi-Fi card for 4G internet access, and a¬†mini speaker.

When traveling, my iPad comes with me as well. I’m not a fan of fingerprints, so I travel with¬†Zwipes¬†microfiber cleaning clothes (I also place a cloth in every room of my house). Everything I travel with comes with me in my¬†Incase Compact Backpack. I’ve tried lots of backpacks, but I really like my the¬†Incase¬†because it’s not too large and has a spot for my MacBook Air, iPad, and Grid-it. It also has a couple little compartments for my earbuds and iPhone.

What software are you using?

I might be working on my iMac, MacBook Air, iPad, or iPhone, so I store as much as I can in the cloud so I can access my calendar, notes, and documents anytime and anywhere. 

Besides email, the app where I spend my most time is¬†Evernote. In fact, I’m composing this very post inside Evernote while on a somewhat bumpy flight and continued on my desktop computer after I arrive home. Yes, I pay for the¬†Premium Evernote¬†so that I can store notes locally. That way I can access my notes even when I’m without internet. I keep my to-list, brainstorms, workshop notes, and so much more in Evernote, and I can access it all from any device.

I use¬†Dropbox¬†to share files among computers. Sometimes it’s difficult to explain how Evernote is different from Dropbox. I use Evernote primarily for text. ¬†I use Dropbox to keep the slideshows I’m working on. I also use it to share large files with others and love the I have backups of files online and synced to among my computers.

Other cloud-based services are also very important to me. I use Google Drive when I have others that will be collaborating on word processing and spreadsheet documents with me. I use iCloud mail, calendar, and address book so that those apps can be synced across my devices.

I still use some traditional kinds of software as well. I use Apple’s¬†Keynote¬†for Mac to make visual aids for my workshops and presentations. Apple’s¬†Pages¬†come in handy for making handouts and infographics. For my videos, I use¬†Screenflow. It’s primarily screen casting software, but I use it for my more. I allows for layering of videos and images, so it’s perfect for overlaying information and images on top my video.

What would be you dream setup?

I’m so lucky in that I am living with my dream setup today. My dream is that all teachers and students can feel just as empowered as I do.

While I’m pleased to show off my shiny gadgets, it’s what I can do with them that I am most proud of. They’ve helped me learn, craft presentations, construct infographics, contribute to blogs, podcast, make videos, and develop apps (watch for them later this year).Whether I’m at home or on the road, I’m thrilled that I have the tools to communicate, collaborate, and create no matter where I am.

Nathan Hall: English Language Teacher

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Nathan Hall and I am an English language teacher for a private language school in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I typically teach eitherhigher level students or business English. You can find more information about me and what I do on my website, or on my latest obsession, Twitter.

What hardware are you using?

I am a bit old school, mostly due to financial reasons. I tend to hang on to my equipment a lot longer than the average user. My main computer is my trusty old 12″ aluminum G4 PowerBook which has been with me for about 6.5 years now. I plan on retiring it this summer with either a MacBook Pro or Air. I am leaning towards the 11″ Air since I take my laptop everywhere I go. I would consider an iPad, but I still have things I do on the laptop that wouldn’t work as well on the iPad.

I also have an old 80GB iPod Classic that is my constant companion during my commute to work. I just finished my MA TESOL as a distance program and the iPod was my note reader, slide viewer, lecture playing class on the go. It also is my video and audio player in class as well as holder of all sorts of documents for work. If it dies, I may shed a tear or two.

At school, I hold my class in the business classroom which has 15 older Windows XP Dell desktops that are showing their age. Still, they have internet access and that is pretty much all I need in my class.

I also have access to a SmartBoard which has to be shared amongst all the teachers. Still, it is nice to have in such a small school.

And what software?

I am true believer in using online, cloud-based tools in the classroom. Since I have full access in my classroom all the time, I want my students to be using tools that they could use on their own machines without any installation. I use a wide variety of tools (as listed on my Diigo account), but I have a few primary sites that get constant use.

Our class website uses Posterous since it is free, can be used by the students, can embed anything without any plugins, and can have a variety of administrators and contributors. I also like the fact the students can submit posts by just emailing them in.

Another widely used tool is¬†TitanPad¬†(a form of Etherpad) in which I administer the class group and assign pages to each students, groups of students, or as a class page. For those who aren’t familiar with TitanPad, it is a real-time collaborative document editor that is totally free to use and can be password protected without having the students register or give out personal details. That is really important to me since all of my students are in my class for a short time and are not always wiling to give their information away online. Google Docs would work well if we were a Google school, but it would be a nightmare to administer with all the student changes that occur on a weekly basis.

I use a number of collaboration tools as well as various audio and visual tools such as¬†Vocaroo¬†and¬†Screencast-O-Matic. Every tool I use in my class is free and doesn’t require the student to register to use.

Personally, I love¬†Twitter. I primarily use it for professional development and for connecting with educators from around the world. I can’t believe it took me this long to get on board.

What would your dream set up be?

I would love to have a laptop or tablet cart that could be used in various classes. This would allow other teachers to make use of this technology instead of having to wait to use it once or twice a month. We could share these tools on any given day and in their normal classroom. I would also love to see us open up the restrictions on using cell phones in the classroom. I am working on that one. This would allow the students to use these tools on their own devices and would make it easier for them to continue their work outside the walls of the classroom. Oh, and I want a faster internet connection. This restriction of a maximum of 3 students using streaming video at one time is killing me. Because of that, I have to download the videos and then put them on the network drive for students to use. It is a bit of pain for me, but makes it an insurmountable problem for less tech saavy teachers.