Backup! Backup! Backup!


My computer crashed last week.  Without going into too much detail, I was disconnected from the digital world except for my cell phone until my new computer arrived.  I was never worried about the data on the computer because I backup all of my data automatically and continuously.


There are many ways to backup your data.  I am not going to go into all of them.  I am just going to let you in on the simplest way to backup your data and the way I prefer to do it.

I use CrashPlan.  This is the best way to backup because it is off-site and is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.  It doesn’t matter if your computer is stolen, if it catches on fire, or if your computer just decides that it doesn’t want to work anymore.  You just download your data that was backed up and your off to the races once again.

CrashPlan is free if you backup your data to a friend’s computer and your data is all encrypted so no one can see your files.  Alternatively, you can backup to CrashPlan’s servers for a fee.  Plans start at $2/month and go up depending on how much data you have to backup and how many computers you want on your plan.

There are many ways to backup your data.  It doesn’t matter how you do it, be sure to backup your data NOW!

Online Interactive Notebooks

I have already showed you how I use Google Sites to keep track of my own personal learning in Notetaking in Professional Development.  Now I’d like to share how last school year I started using Google Sites as a replacement for Interactive Notebooks.  I worked in a Disciplinary Alternative Education Placement (DAEP) campus.  I had the luxury of a 1 to 1 classroom and students were enrolled in my classroom for a maximum of 18 weeks.  Teachers at the student’s home campus usually did not send the student’s Interactive Notebook with them when they were enrolled at the DAEP, so I started using Google Sites.  As a bonus, when the students went back to their home campus, all of their work was online and accessible by them and their teachers.

Here is a link to the template I use for my 8th Grade Science students.

I have my students use this as a template for their own Google Site.  You can see that it is also an outline of everything they will be learning this school year.  Each unit represents a six-weeks grading period.  Students like this because it lets them know where we will be going this year.  Parents love it because they know exactly what their students are working on in class and can check on their student’s Google Site to see what they have done in class.

Please leave comments:

How have you used Google Sites with your students?  Do the students like it?  What about the parents?  How do you keep up with all of the student sites?

The Many Uses of Animoto

I like free.  I especially like free when it involves a cool tool like Animoto.  You can sign up for a free Animoto Plus Account at  Be sure to use your school e-mail address to sign up for a new account.  An educator account will allow you to create Plus accounts for students and also gives you a Plus account to use.  You will need to apply for the educator account every six months, but it is definitely worth it.  I can’t explain what Animoto does, so here is an Animoto of one of my class rocket launches:

There are 47, “Styles” to choose from which are basically what is playing behind your pictures.  You add the pictures that you have downloaded from the Internet or that you have taken with a digital camera.  Finally add music and then publish it.  Voila!

Students LOVE to use animoto!  One of my favorite thing to do is have them find appropriate pictures for vocabulary words.  One unit this works particularly well in  is when we talk about Biomes.  I have students find pictures representing the climate, plans and animals that live in that particular biome and a map of where that biome is.  The students have fun, and share their project on their own Google Site.

Have you had the opportunity to use Animoto in your classroom?  If so, how did you use it?  If not, how do you see yourself using it in a lesson?  Let us know in the comments.

Free Online Configurable Textbooks

Today I’d like to introduce you to something that I think is awesome and what I see as the future of textbooks.  Of course I’m talking about online textbooks.  Here are some of the advantages:

  • Always up-to-date
  • Very light-weight compared to ordinary print textbooks
  • Less Expensive or free (Hint: free is good)
  • Relevant
  • Videos, music, animation, interactive tools, simulations, and more!

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Note Taking During Professional Development

Staff Development before school starts is just around the corner.  I want to share a great way to take notes and keep them for yourself or to share instantly.  I’ve been using Google Sites.  Hopefully your school started using Google Apps before Google started charging for it.  Here’s how I do it.

I setup a new site for each development I attend.  So for example, let’s say I’m attending a class on Underwater Basket Weaving.  I go to my Google Sites, which for most of you will be

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