Friday, March 22, 2013

3 Easy Ways to Search and Use Copyright Free Images

This image is free to use or share from doctormo
It has never been easier for students to access multimedia for projects than it is today.  We currently live in an "open source" world where we can easily search text, images, and video content for various uses.  For example, our students use images from the internet all time time when creating PowerPoint Presentations.

However, when students grab images form the internet, they aren't always grabbing "Copyright Free" images.  This is actually a big problem.  So, this blog post is dedicated to helping teachers and students easily locate "Copyright Free" images to use and modify for various projects.

Interestingly, we as teachers are so concerned with making sure that our students cite their references appropriately and accurately when they write research papers. We teach them that not only is it the right thing to do, but they could also get into trouble if they don't.  Yet, we don't hold them accountable for pictures and videos?  Why not?  I think its because of two things:
  1. Lack of knowledge
  2. Lack of convenience

Therefore, to help with this problem, I have created a short screencast video to demonstrate just how easy it is to search "Copyright Free" images, and how to easily integrate them into our projects. Hopefully, after watching this screencast video, you will know about the importance of using "Copyright Free" images, in addition to using these images at your convenience.  In a later post, I will feature how to easily search and use "Creative Commons" videos. 

By the way, please feel free to share this video with others, I have posted it to the Creative Commons community via YouTube!

To learn more about Copyright, check out the following resources:
  1. What is Copyright?
  2. Creative Commons

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

"Can't Knock the Hustle"

Image is free for public use from:
"Achievement is talent plus preparation.  The problem with this view is that the closer psychologists look at the careers of the gifted, the smaller the role innate talent seems to play and the bigger the role preparation seems to play."  - Malcolm Gladwell

New research tells us that achievement and success in life depends more on a person's drive, hard work and dedication, rather than innate talent, skill or intelligence.  In fact, Malcolm Gladwell, the author of Outliers, is convinced that effort is one of the most important factor of success.  What's more, the magic number of practice and effort to become an expert in anything seems to be at least 10,000 hours of hard work.[3]

Ironically, Alfred Binet, the inventor of the IQ believes that, "Without denying individual differences in children's intellects, he believed that education and practice could bring about fundamental changes in intelligence."[2]  In her book, Mindset, Carol Dweck argues that "The hand you're dealt is just the starting point for development.  This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts."[2]

This concept is so vital to education because students who are associated with negative labels can develop self-esteem issues and believe that they have limitations for success.  For example, "People who believe that they are at an intellectual disadvantage based on stereotypes [or based on test scores and tracking] have a fixed-mindset and will inhibit their learning and success."[2]  What's more, kids today often think that if they have to work hard at something, that must mean they’re not smart.[1]

On the other hand, praising students for grades and final products can actually give them a false sense of security in terms of achievement.  For example, "To a kid, Good job means You’re smart or You’re talented — the praise goes to inherent, natural-born abilities or intelligence. But that immediate spark of self-pride will turn into deep self-doubt when the child invariably comes across a bigger challenge and doesn't immediately succeed."[1]

As educators, we need to build capacity in all of our students and inspire them to believe that they can achieve anything in life, if they work hard enough and long enough.  In other words, we need our students to believe and value hard work and dedication if they are going to be successful as global citizens in the 21st century.

Ben Haggerty (better known as Macklemore) is a perfect example of this life lesson. In his first song, Ten Thousand Hours, on his album, The Heist, he demonstrates his passion for the love of music by poetically depicting how his hard work and dedication finally paid off for him:

I stand here in front of you today all because of an idea
I could be who I wanted if I could see my potential
And I know that one day I'mma be him
Put the gloves on, sparring with my ego
Everyone's greatest obstacle, I beat him, celebrate that achievement
Got some attachments, some baggage I'm actually working on leaving
See, I observed Escher, I love Basquiat
I watched Keith Haring, you see I studied art
The greats weren't great because at birth they could paint
The greats were great because they'd paint a lot
I will not be a statistic, just let me be
No child left behind, that's the American scheme
I make my living off of words
And do what I love for work
And got around 980 on my SATs
Take that system, what did you expect?
Generation of kids choosing love over a desk
Put those hours in and look at what you get
Nothing that you can hold, but everything that it is
Ten thousand hours felt like ten thousand hands
Ten thousand hands, they carry me

Put simply, no matter what our role is in education, we need to make sure that our students understand that "… personal success is when you work your hardest to become your best…".[2]  That practice doesn't make perfect ... perfect practice makes perfect.  That you can do it, if you put your mind to it. And that you get out of life, what you put into it!

In other words, its the hustle and grind that will determine the success of our students.  And as Jay-Z would say, "Can't Knock the Hustle".

You might also like

How to Foster Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance: An Educator’s Guide
Can Everyone Be Smart at Everything?
How Many Hours Does It Take To Become An Expert? [Infographic]

  1. Barseghian, T. (December 29, 2011). Can everyone be smart at everything? Retrieved from
  2. Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: the new psychology of success. New York: Random House.
  3. Gladwell, M. (2008). Outliers: the story of success. New York: Little, Brown and Co..
  4. Ten Thousand Hours. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. The Heist. Macklemore LLC. 2012.

Blogging about blogging: A professional development activity

As an Instructional Technology Coach, I frequently lead professional development opportunities for my staff regarding meaningful technology integration.  Today, I thought I might do something a little bit differently.

My professional development workshop today is focused on "blogging" in education.  The idea behind this, is to get my colleagues to actually practice the act of blogging by first "microblogging".  My colleagues will be leaving a comment to this blog post that will act as their personal blog post.  Then we will have a discussion followed by more activities about the topic of blogging as a learning tool for both educators and students.


Please choose one or more of the following blog posts to read.  Then, simply leave a comment to this blog post at the bottom.  Your task is to read, reflect, write, and share.  Your comment should be about a paragraph in length and should address the topic of "blogging". The purpose of this activity is to go through the blogging process while simultaneously publishing your thoughts on the web in the form of a "comment".

NOTE:  Be sure to comment as (Name/URL) and just type in your name.

Feel free to write about:
  • the first thing that comes to your mind
  • an "ah-hah" moment
  • questions you might have
  • what you'd like to know more about
  • how you feel about what you read
  • what you think about what you read
  • any other thoughts you might have

Featured blog posts to read on the topic of "blogging"

Blogging is the new persuasive essay
Why are you blogging? [Guest Post]
How (And Why) Teachers should blog
How to make better teachers? 
5 Reasons your students should blog
Never underestimate the power of social networking
Just give me the fish
Tips for better blogging

So ... what are your thoughts???

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

My Pixar Pitch

Once upon a time there was an education system that equipped students with a particular set of skills needed to be successful.  Every day, teachers would stand in the front of the classroom and impart their knowledge onto their students in hope that every student would comply, graduate, and enter the workplace.  One day, the workplace suddenly demanded new knowledge, new skills, and innovation.  Because of that, we have been trying to prepare our students to prosper in this rapidly changing, unpredictable world.  Because of that, we have created competitive learning environments due to an increase in standardization and accountability. Until finally ...

Educators, help me write the ending to this story!

Try viewing this story with Google StoryBuilder for a more powerful effect.


Pink, D. H. (2012). To sell is human: the surprising truth about moving others. Section: Pixar pitch. New York: Riverhead Books. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Top 10 Most Versatile Learning Tools in the "Free" Market

"My view is that people are creative animals and will figure out clever new ways to use tools that the inventor never imagined."  - Steve Jobs

As an Instructional Technology Coach, I often try to find the best learning tools that are my "go to's"my "frequent flyers" if you will.  These are the tools that I will almost always choose over other tools that are similar, simply because of their versatility and dependability.

What I love about these learning tools, is that they are all web-based.  You can access these tools from any computer, on any internet browser.  Most of them, even have apps that will allow you to use them on mobile devices.  So you don't have to worry about their availability on different machines.

Even when new tools come out every day by the dozens, I will still choose these tools over any others.  In addition, even though I still enjoy reading about new tools and learning about their features, I always compare and contrast them to my essential and fundamental set of tools.  What's more, is I try to come up with new ways to use these core learning tools to expand their versatility.  I find it fun and challenging to engage in the type of divergent thinking needed to come up with creative new uses for these tools.

So, without further adieu, here are my top 10 most versatile learning tools in the free market (that are in no particular order), along with multiple different ways in which you can creatively use each tool.

Google Search
  • As a search engine for text, images, videos, etc. (try using Advanced Search and Google Scholar
  • As a calculator (simply type in a calculation) 
  • As a dictionary, thesaurus, etc. (try typing "define:" then the word you want to look up) 
  • As a spell check (simply type the word and it will give you suggested spellings/words)

Google Sketchup

  • As an architecture tool (create 3D digital houses, buildings, and structures)
  • As a Computer Aided Drafting and Design (CADD) tool (create 3D, digital versions of prototypes, inventions, innovations, items, and objects)
  • As a math tool (use the measuring tools for length, distance, area, volume, surface area, etc. and covert measurements using ratios, fractions, decimals, percents, etc.)
  • As an exploration and investigation tool (download other projects from the 3D Warehouse to explore and investigate famous structures such as the Eiffel Tower and the San Francisco Bridge)
  • As a publishing and sharing tool (upload your own projects to the 3D Warehouse to share with others)

Google Earth
  • As a geographic learning tool (try typing in a specific location) 
  • As a math tool (try using the measurement tools for distance. Visit:
  • As a literature tool (visit:
  • As a science tool (use the "sunlight" tool, "Google Sky" tool, "Mars" tool and "Moon" tool) 
  • As a history tool (use the "Historical Imagery" tool) 
  • As a presentation tool (use the "Record a Tour" feature displayed here:
  • As a vacation planner (use the "Add Path" tool) 
  • As a virtual field trip (use the Google "Street View" tool get a 360 view of any location) 

Google Docs
  • As an official document (turn in assignments, write papers, etc.)
  • As a journal (keep a series of notes, or use as a diary)
  • As a chat tool (use the chat feature)
  • As a collaboration tool (have multiple people edit the same document in real time)
  • As a book, or magazine (create books and magazines with formatting)

Google Presentations (Slides)
  • As a presentation tool (very similar to PowerPoint) 
  • As a photo editor (edit, add, modify changes to images) 
  • As a children's book (use the slide transition to act as pages turning in a book) 
  • As a collaboration tool (have multiple people each responsible for a specific slide or more) 
  • As a drawing tool (draw and create images with the drawing and shapes tool) 
  • As a marketing tool (create signs, ads, posters, etc.) 

Google Forms
  • As a survey (collect, organize, and display data and information) 
  • As a poll (quickly get a response to make a decision quickly) 
  • As a likert scale (on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is the least and 10 is the most, how likely are you to ...) 
  • As a formative assessment (use yes/no, true/false, multiple choice, and short answer quizzes) 
  • As a summative assessment (use the paragraph response to allow for essays and responses to writing prompts) 
  • As a Choose Your Own Adventure (CYA) story (create choices that take users to specific pages based on their choices)

  • As a notebook (save notes, images, videos, voice recordings, etc.) 
  • As an audio recorder (save voice recordings from yourself, from lectures, or interviews) 
  • As an official document (turn in assignments, write papers, etc.) 
  • As a journal (keep a series of notes, or use as a diary) 
  • As a book, or magazine (create books and magazines with formatting) 
  • As a social bookmarking tool (use the "webclipper" extension for your browser to quickly save, organize, and share a web clipping via social networking sites such as Twitter) 
  • As an ePortfolio (a place to collect and organize projects, notes, images, and more to showcase your best work)

  • As a video browser (browse videos that interest you) 
  • As a learning tool (use YouTube EDU to learn about various subject matter) 
  • As a video file cabinet (upload your own videos and archive them in your account) 
  • As publishing tool (upload and share your videos with family, friends, or the rest of the world) 
  • As a video editing tool (merge videos together, trim video clips, add effects and more)

Google+ (Hangouts)
  • As a social media tool (connect with friends and family) 
  • As a photo and video gallery (upload and store videos and photos instantaneously from your smart phone) 
  • As a video communication tool (use Google+ Hangouts to have a video chat with friends and family) 
  • As a collaboration tool (use Google+ Hangouts to hold a Conference Call or a virtual group meeting) 
  • As a live streaming tool (use Google+ Hangouts to show live footage of an event to a friend or family member) 
  • As an absence tool (use Google+ Hangouts when you are absent from a meeting, class, or event. Simply have a computer with a webcam set up at the class, meeting, or event and participate virtually as if you were actually there) 
  • As a theater tool (use Google+ Hangouts "effects and toolbox" to add props, sounds, and other cool effects.

  • As a consuming tool (read Tweets from people you are following)
  • As a research tool (find out what's trending in the world, or your location with the Trends feature)
  • As a promoting tool (Tweet your promotions in 140 characters or less)
  • As a sharing tool (Tweet resources, images, videos, tools and more)
  • As a connecting tool (discover other users that have similar interests and occupations as you)
  • As a backchannel tool (look back at your old Tweets to reflect on how your opinions or thoughts have changed over time)
  • As a reference tool (mark your favorite Tweets for you to refer back to later)

If you have any other ideas on how to use any one of these tools, please add a comment to contribute to the versatility of these tools!

You might also like

How many uses can you find for this paperclip?

Friday, March 8, 2013

"Hold Me Now" ... Figuratively Speaking

Picture Source:
At one point in their life, the Thompson Twins (for those of you 80's music fans) needed someone to hold them, based on their song, "Hold Me Now".  They physically needed someone to hold them to make them feel safe, loved, and supported.  They literally needed a "holding environment" for that moment in time.

While we all need a literal "holding environment" from time to time, I'm referring to the figurative "holding environment"--the working environment where one feels supported, challenged, and encouraged to seek professional growth and development.  Most of the time these "holding environments" are our schools, our institutions, and our communities.

What I want to know is, can "holding environments" for allowing professional growth happen anywhere?

In her book, Leading Adult Learning, Drago-Severson argues that, “the most effective holding environments provide individuals with high support and high challenge in order to encourage growth” (p. 47).

This really made me think about what a "holding environment" really is.  Does a "holding environment" have to be a physical place, or can it be a state of mind, or can it be both?

For example, in his book, Drive, Daniel Pink mentions Results Only Working Environments (ROWE) and how they are becoming more popular, and even more productive in the workplace.  The idea behind ROWE is that people perform their best work when they are in a constructive place and have a constructive state of mind.  In other words, "Management" as Pink explains, "isn't about walking around and seeing if people are in their offices ... it's about creating conditions for people to do their best work."

To explain ROWE a bit more, Pink refers to the idea of "home-shoring":

"For instance, while many enterprises are off-shoring work to low-cost providers overseas, some companies are reversing the trend by beginning what's known as 'home-shoring.' Instead of requiring customer service reps to report to a single large call center, they're routing the calls to the employees' homes. This cuts commuting time for staff, removes them from physical monitoring, and provides far great autonomy over how they do their jobs."

Pink was able to conclude that productivity and job satisfaction are generally higher in "home-shoring" than in conventional arrangements--in part because employees are more comfortable and less monitored at home.

Application to Education

So, how can we take this idea of a ROWE and apply it to teacher productivity?  How might we think of professional development opportunities in places other than school? Might teachers participate from home?  Might they participate from a coffee shop?  Might they participate in a communal place other than school?  Might they participate online?

My point is the fact that "holding environments" might NOT have to do as much with the physical location, as it does with the mental state of mind.  If someone feels safe, supported, challenged and encouraged, does it really matter where they learn and grow professionally?

Questions I still have

Could social media tools such as Twitter be the venue or "holding environment" that leads staff in professional development?

For a learning institution, would most teachers benefit from professional development in schools, in a different location, or online?

If one had to choose, which is better?  To have a physical holding environment, or to have a psychological holding environment?


  1. Pink, D. H. (2009). Drive: the surprising truth about what motivates us. New York, NY: Riverhead Books.
  2. Severson, E. (2009). Leading adult learning: supporting adult development in our schools. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin ;.