Jun 292010

Here’s the agenda for our session, along with the videos, links, and resources that we’ll need for the day.??


  • Welcome & Introductions?? 9:00 – 9:15 AM
  • How to Choose the Right Camera 9:15 – 9:30 AM
  • Photo Pre-Test 9:30 – 9:45 AM
  • Show-N-Tell & Photo Taking Tips 9:45 – 10:15 AM
  • Photo Assignment & Upload 10:15 – 10:45 AM
  • Break 10:45 – 11:00 AM
  • First Pass 11:00 – 11:15 AM
  • Edit & Share 11:15 – 12:00 AM
  • Discussion & Trial of Online Photo Services 12:00 – 12:45 AM
  • Q&A, Take Your Pulse & Wrap-Up 12:45 – 1:00 PM
David Pogue NYTimes Video on DSLR’s:


Online Photo Editing/Sharing Sites:
Take Your Pulse??online survey
Jun 232010

I was just working with a teacher yesterday who had a huge binder full of documents that she no longer had on her computer because of a hard drive crash. I knew that OCR could help, but didn’t have any resource to point her to…

Now, I do. This could be a very useful tool for some teachers. This is by no means an excuse to not back up, but it could help ease the pain a bit.

Jun 232010

Ten Tips to Better Video

by Robin Liss

From camcorderinfo.com

So, you want to make your videos better, but you don’t want to read every article on the camcorderinfo.com website. Well, improving your videos really isn’t that hard, and if you follow just some of the advice in this article, you’ll be well on your way to making them better. Here are ten tips for making your videos better:

1. Get a good Tripod, and Use It – The first step in improving your videos is stabilizing them. Your camcorder may have built-in image stabilization, but it can only compensate for so much motion. One of the best ways to improve the appearance of your videos is to get a quality tripod. While some camcorders come with tripods, very cheap or give-away tripods tend not to provide a very good shooting base. $100-200 is the starting range for tripods that will be sturdy and offer smooth movements. Be sure to get a tripod with a head specifically designed for video.

2. Learn When to Pan, Zoom and Use Other Moves – One of the most common video mistakes is making constant movements and adjustments. Be deliberate when making adjustments, don’t make changes without a reason. Take a shot of something and leave it there for 10-20 seconds, stop the recording and take another shot. Don’t quickly pan the camera from one subject to another. When panning and zooming, use slow, smooth, and deliberate motions. This will make your videos much more watchable.

3. Do a Little Shot Composition – The purpose of taping something is so you will be able to remember and enjoy it later. Before you hit the red button, look at your shot and see if you have everything in it that you want and that it is framed nicely. Do this as you would if you were taking a still picture; prior to pressing “record,” not after. Good shot composition uses the “Rule of Thirds.” This is where you treat the screen as being divided into a tic-tac-toe pattern. When framing a person, you want their eyes on the top line and the center of their head on the left or the right line (i.e., facing inward). Although this may cut off the top of the subject’s head, it will provide the proper balance and really make your shot look professional.

4. Learn Your Camcorder Like the Back of Your Hand – The best videographers know every function of their camcorder and could operate it with their eyes shut. Having good knowledge of your camcorder’s features and functions is a necessary element of making better videos. The most obvious need for this knowledge is to allow you to always have your eye in the viewfinder or on the LCD screen, not looking away at the controls to zoom, focus, or make other corrections. More than just knowing where each control is, you should learn all the how image settings like white balance, exposure, and backlight affect the image.

5. Tell a Story – If you don’t have the time to formally edit your videos, use in camera editing (i.e., the fancy name for pressing record and pause at just the right times) to neatly follow some chronological path and tell a story. People will more likely feel compelled to watch your videos if they tell a story. It matters less what the story is about than how well it’s told. You don’t have to narrate your videos to tell a story; the pictures can do that. Take a wedding for example. First, we get a shot of the outside of the church. Then, we get some good interior shots of the church to show what it looks like. During the ceremony, get shots of the bride and groom as well as family members’ reactions. You’ve now told a story about the wedding that will be interesting to watch.

6. Put a Tiny Amount of Money into a Lavaliere Microphone – The best audio purchase that you can make if you’re mostly doing home videos is a lavaliere (lav) microphone. It’s designed to clip onto the clothing of the subject (e.g., lapel, tie, or collar), near their mouth, and plug into the camcorder to pick up the best possible speech audio. Lavs are also small enough that you can hide one somewhere in a scene to pick up better sound than a camera mounted mic. If you really don’t think you would put a lav to any use, then consider some other external mic, such as a shotgun or handheld. The reason for doing this is simple; your on-camera microphone cannot be placed any closer to the audio source than where the camera is. Even the best on-camera microphones will not do an adequate job of picking up soft sounds at a distance. Additionally, the unwanted sounds between you and your subject will be picked up, and with many on-camera mics, this can include sounds to the side and behind the camera as well. External mics start at around $30. It’s great to have one in your bag if a situation that calls for a mic comes up.

7. Look Into Lighting – A lot of image quality problems can be solved by employing some simple lighting techniques. You may not want to invest in or have the desire to carry an entire lighting kit with you where ever you go, but you can make the best of the natural or available lighting situations that you face. Whenever possible, shoot in a well-lit area. Make sure there is not bright light like the sun behind a subject. If your subject is standing in a bad lighting situation, have them move into better light if possible and the video will look much better.

8. Interviews – A great way to improve your videos is to interview subjects. Interviews can provide good insights through the actual words of the people involved. No matter what the event is, a baseball game, picnic, wedding, or party, interviews can add a nice touch. When doing an interview, frame the shot with the head and upper chest showing and with the subject off-center to one side or the other. As the interviewer, you do not need to be in the shot, but rather stand next to the camera. Stand on the side of the camera that will be the open side of the shot, and have the interviewee face you. Tell the interviewee NOT to look at the camera, but just carry on a normal conversation with you and keep eye contact. This may seem awkward but it works really well and it is how almost all professional interviews are done (see figure 4). Remember to leave plenty of space in the shot to allow for the interviewee to move naturally and nod. This way they won’t slip out of the shot.

9. Pack Well – Every videographer has their favorite video goodies that they keep in their bag, but there are some basic things that every camcorder owner should carry with them. One thing is a special lens cleaning cloth that does not scratch the lens, commonly used for glasses these cloths are great for wiping down the camera lens or LCD screen. Another is an extra battery (put the money into buying an extra long life battery so you “never” run out). A pen, pad of paper, and extra labels are also essentials. Bring as much extra videotape as you can comfortably carry. It’s also good to carry a set of RCA cables (video cables) because you never know when you’ll need them. A roll of tape to secure cords and other things is a good bring-along, as well as anythin
g else that you think will make shooting videos easier.

10. Have Fun! – They key to making good videos is enjoying yourself. Always find new and interesting things to do and to shoot to make your camera experiences fun and exciting. Experiment with your camera and see what you enjoy and what works well for you. Remember that if you’re having fun, so will your viewers!

Jun 232010

I’ve been using this service for a while now, and I absolutely love it. I would highly recommend that you check it out, sign up, and spend a little time getting it customized.

It’s basically voice mail on steroids, along with other great features. You can customize greetings for individuals or groups, get automatic transcriptions of messages, have them sent to you via email, text message, or both. It’s amazing.

Before now, it’s been available by invitation only. I was lucky enough to get an invite about 6 months ago, and have been loving it ever since. It’s now available to anyone with a Gmail account, so check it out!

Jun 012010

Here’s the links and resources you’ll need during our 2 days together of getting to know how to use a GPS to find locations, mark locations of your own, and integrating this technology to collect relevant data & create custom maps with your classes. Here’s a link to my GPS Blog for Education hosted at SEDC, and the class agenda is attached below. Another useful resource could be the Groundspeak Forum for GPS in Education.

Links and relevant resources, Day 1:

Links & Resources, Day 2

Links to Google Earth Layer Files:

    Here’s the assignment for the class to receive full credit:

    Assignment: Using the UEN Lesson Plan tool (optional), Google Docs or Microsoft Word, develop and implement a lesson that incorporates a GPS activity. You should include the following fields in your lesson plan: Summary, Curriculum Tie, Intended Learning Outcomes, Instructional Procedures, and Assessment Plan. Include with your lesson plan a reflective paper. In your paper:

    • Describe how you used the GPS in the classroom and how the activity benefited your students.
    • Evaluate your activity and describe its effectiveness incorporating the GPS as a learning tool.
    • Include the state core standard(s) the project is tied to, as well as a description of the critical thinking skill(s) from Bloom???s Taxonomy that your students will use when completing the activity.