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YouTube Part 1

This is the first of three posts I'm planning to do on YouTube.

Many think YouTube is a collection of videos, but some argue it is a social network.  Have you ever gone to YouTube to watch one particular video and found yourself clicking on suggested content when the video finishes?  Have you ever clicked on a video thinking it was what you wanted only to find that it was someone talking about the video you wanted to see?  Isn't that weird?

Some people use YouTube as a social network.  They watch, and they post responses.  It may seem foreign to some of us, but to some kids, it is part of how YouTube works.


Here is a recent example that I keep watching and looking for responses because I'm fascinated with 

1. how this girl's brain works

2. how phonics work/don't work in reverse

3. how people use technology to solve a problem


The first video is of a girl who seems to be able to instantly provide the reverse pronunciation of any word presented to her.


As I was watching this, I wanted to hear it in reverse.  We've all tried to listen to a record in reverse to see if the urban legends about some rock albums are correct.  Didn't you?

To my pleasure, when this video finished, I was presented with a suggested video of the entire clip in reverse.  Someone had the same idea I did, so they uploaded a reverse version of the video as a response.  I didn't like it in reverse, because I couldn't figure out what she was supposed to be saying.  One of the comments nails it. ("I heard maybe one or two things...I'm a tad skeptical.)

But then what I REALLY wanted, was to hear the word the boy said and they hear her backwards word in reverse.  Thanks to someone with some video editing skills and the social aspect of YouTube, I had what I wanted.

But as I watched this, I realized that she is sounding out how the words would sound if she were reading the left-to-right, only the letters were in reverse order.  Playing the audio backwards is not going to turn them forward.  The /er/ sound is not phonetically reversed of "re."


So here is what I'm left with.

1. YouTube is cool.

2. I'm skeptical about this girl, but something tells me her brain is just working differently.  And that is cool.

3. People do post response videos to YouTube.  I usually don't have time or interest to watch them, but when I do, that is cool, too.

iPads at TLS

Chocolate Fix Blog

Technology Integration rarely means bringing chocolate into the classroom, but in this case, it worked.  After seeing Chocolate Fix at TEDxLex in Lexington, Kentucky, I knew it would be a great fit in our math classrooms at The Lexington School.

The Lexington School is an independent Preschool through 8th grade focused on providing an academic program of the highest quality.  My job is to find technology and make it work with our curriculum and in our classrooms.

Chocolate Fix fit the bill in terms of being a challenging addition to our math resources, and it filled an immediate need from our Geometry teacher to help our students begin to build logical, systematic proofs.  In middle school geometry, students struggle to understand that they are charged with applying rules or theorems to logically explain their thinking.  Chocolate Fix would provide a perfect platform for the type of thinking our geometry teacher was looking for.

My only problem was that it was just plastic.  I’m used to a certain amount of plastic in my job, but I’m used to plastic that surrounds microchips, batteries, or USB connections.  This was just plastic!

I first found the ThinkFun website on Chocolate Fix and looked for an online version of the game to play.  When I couldn’t find anything online, I searched for an app for our iPads.  I was happy to find the iPad app and immediately shared it with our Geometry teacher.  He loved it, and the two of us started playing in his room and immediately seeing the connection between the thinking needed to solve the game and the thinking needed to solve a proof.  What we needed was a way to introduce the game to the whole class before handing out the iPads.

Next I started working to create an interactive whiteboard file of the game.  I figured it would be simple.  I just needed some shapes, a three-by-three grid, and some chocolate.  After trying in vain to find some suitable chocolate images from the ThinkFun website, I contacted Charlotte to request some images for my SMART Notebook version of the game.  She returned something better.  She provided me with three, professionally made versions of the game in a format that we could use immediately on our SMART Boards.

The next piece I needed was already online.  I was directed to ThinkFun’s BrainLab with daily resources for Chocolate Fix (http://www.thinkfun.com/brainlab/chocolatefix/).  That was the last piece of the puzzle for me.  I had the iPad version for individual play, the real version for students who needed the tactile (real) interface, and the interactive whiteboard version for large groups.  Each had instructions, puzzles, and solutions.

At The Lexington School, in only a few short weeks, we have already played Chocolate Fix in third grade (a whole-group activity on the SMART Board with kids coming up and moving the larger than life pieces on their own), in sixth grade (a fun hands-on puzzle during free time), and in eighth grade geometry using the iPad version to support the building of logical reasoning.  Each group of kids fell in love with the simplicity and with the challenge, and I got Chocolate Fix into the classrooms with a few microchips and USB connections as well.

Marketing Meeting URL's

Metairie Park Videos

Upper Canada College



I purchased a Livescribe pen after seeing its potential benefits for students and teachers.  The idea of the pen is that it is an ink pen that writes on paper and has a built in scanner to record the writing as it happens.  My initial thoughts were that it would be fine for students to take notes, but I wasn't all that excited about it.  Can't I run handwritten notes through a scanner and get the same thing?

Answer: No.

The Livescribe pen records the handwritten notes or drawings in a real timeline.  So you can see (as if it were an animation) the handwriting being written on the screen.  That got me interested, but I was not really sold yet.  It is just a simple way to create handwritten animations, right?

Answer: No.

Next I learned that it has an audio recorder.  It seemed to me like a pretty cheap add-in to make the pen seem like a multi-function device.  Isn't it just like any other digital voice recorder?

Answer: No.

So what is this thing?  Well, the software makes it more than a way to digitize handwriting, create animations and drawings, and record audio.  Tying all of this together is a rather cleverly designed set of programs that allow you to synchronize the audio portion of the notes with the realtime handwritten portion.  So you can record a class discussion and lecture with audio and see on the screen the notes that were taken within the same timeline as the audio.  That might be cool for a student.

My next question was format.  So you probably need some special software to run the recordings to make the notes and audio to synchronize.  It probably needs Flash or something, right?

Answer: No.

It saves the file as a PDF, and it can synchronize automatically to your computer, to Google Docs, Evernote, and even a cloud-based MyLivescribe service.  Here is a PDF version of some of my first notes after testing the pen.

It also might be a game changer for teachers who deliver some of their content through lecture.  If a teacher can record the lecture before class with audio and any notes that would be written on the board, the lecture with notes can be saved completely.  It can be saved into one file and distributed to students.  Now with just a few steps, a teacher has the option of assigning the lecture as homework rather than taking up class time with the lecture.  What can a good teacher do with an extra 20-40 minutes of class time?

Answer: A LOT.

iPad Apps

I've recently spoken to several parents who have admitted under whispered voices that their preschool child uses their iPad "all the time."  I'm in this group as well.  Rather than hide it, I'm going to embrace it.  So, aside from the games, here the apps that my preschooler loves the most.


In the games category, I have to include games by Dan Russel-Pinson.