Sunday, January 31, 2010

Creating A Favicon For Your Google Site

As I'm building my Google Site for and also working on one for my church at, I started to wonder how you get the little icon to appear before the web address. Through my Google searching, I came to find that this little icon is called a "Favicon." Here is how I made the Favicon for my Google Site.

Create your Favicon. I used Photoshop and made a simple square image. I started with 300 pixels by 300 pixels. When finished, I resized the image to 16px by 16px. The finished image I saved as a .JPG file. I then used the Dynamic Drive website and uploaded my file there and clicked the CREATE ICON button. The file was converted to an .ICO file type and I was allowed to download it back to my computer as the file favicon.ico Once you have the file, you can then follow these steps to put it into your Google Site:
  1. Login to your Google Site
  2. Click the MORE ACTIONS button (top right of screen)
  3. Click MANAGE SITE
  4. Click on ATTACHMENTS (on left menu)
  5. If you see a favicon.ico file already there, click the checkbox for that file and then click the DELETE button at the top.
  6. Click UPLOAD button
  7. Click CHOOSE FILE button and browse to your customized favicon.ico file and click the UPLOAD ATTACHMENT TO / top level button
  8. Click RETURN TO SITE and refresh your browser and your Favicon should display!
Special thanks to stefan.apateanu in the Google Sites forum who provided some of the directions above.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Canon SD780 IS Video/Photo Camera Review

Within the past year, I purchased a Flip Cam Ultra HD for video and I loved the simplicity with using it. A lot of the 24 Franklin movie we made was shot using the Flip Cam. The only downside to the Flip Cam Ultra HD was the fact that I couldn't choose a video size; everything has to be shot in HD which leads to really large file sizes. Don't get me wrong, the quality is great, but I don't always need HD video.

For my still camera, I also own a Canon Rebel XT which is a DSLR camera with interchangeable lenses. I love my camera but it's a lot to carry around when I want to photograph things.

For Christmas, my wife wanted to get me a nice handheld camera and I wanted this camera to also have the ability to do video like the Flip Cam did. First, she bought me the Kodak Zi8 but after using it for a day or so, I realized I didn't like it. It was a video camera that took photos, but the photos were really just "still frames" of the video. There was no flash. There was no way to focus when taking still pictures. We ended up returning the Kodak Zi8 and getting the Canon SD780 IS.

Love this camera.

  • The "IS" stands for Image Stabilization. This helps a lot because the camera is TINY and I have big hands so when taking a picture, even if I can't hold the camera that steady, the IS compensates for that.
  • The Video setting allows me to shoot video at 320, 640 or 1280. The Flip Cam doesn't give me a choice. I like being able to choose if I want video at HD or Standard Definition.
  • The still camera can shoot up to a 12 megapixel image. Granted, I don't really need anything that large, but having the capability is nice.
  • I bought an 8 GB SD card to put in the camera which should be enough space for what I want to do (could get 90 mins of Standard video if I needed it). I think I read the camera can take up to a 32 GB card.
  • Nice pinhole microphone on the front of the camera and it picks up sound pretty well.
  • Haven't tested this yet, but the camera has an HDMI output port so I could play video or show pictures to my nice HDTV.
Tech Stuff:
  • The Canon pics and videos download fine to iPhoto '09 and once the videos are in the iPhoto Library, you can see them in iMovie for video editing needs.
  • The file format for the movie files was .MOV
  • I did not test this on a Windows machine, so not sure how the files play with Windows Movie Maker.
Great product. Might not be a "flip" type camera but I really like this all in one video and still picture device. At the time of my purchase, the camera was on sale for $179. CNET has a review of the camera on their site. Here are a few links to where you can purchase if you are interested:

Best Buy / Amazon / Target

Here are some Photo Albums I created using the Canon SD780 IS:

Milwaukee Art Museum
/ Lambeau Field Tour

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Parent Letter for using iPhone/iTouch

One of our 8th Grade Math teachers polled the students in his class and found out that all but 4 students had an iPhone or iTouch. This math teacher heard there were Graphing Calculator apps for the iTouch/iPhone. Below is a copy of the letter if you would like to take, use, adapt for your school. We found Quick Graph which is a FREE graphing app.

For those students that did NOT have an iPhone or iTouch, the math department had regular graphing calculators those students could use. We spent some time with the students discussing that the iTouch/iPhone should be used as a tool when in class and it was not time to text your friends or watch videos and if that was being abused, the tool would need to be put away.

We sent home a parent letter to inform parents of what we were doing and to seek parent permission for students to bring/use the device in class. Feel free to take, alter and use this letter. The letter also contains directions on how to get Quick Graph.

Saturday, January 23, 2010 7th Grade Math Project

As part of my role as Technology Coach in my district, I helped the 7th grade math team put together a geometry animation project that had two goals:

1. Incorporate some technology into class
2. Meet some of the district ITLS (Info Tech & Literacy Standards) that we recently deployed by grade level

This post contains all the materials we used so others can replicate this project.

BACKGROUND: 7th Math had just completed a unit on geometric transformations which included looking at shapes and understanding what the following are: Rotation, Reflection, Dilation (change in size), and Translation. The team had suggested some kind of "flip book" activity to have the students show a shape performing these operations. Through some recommendations from other tech integrators on Twitter, I came across

DoInk (pronounced Do Ink, not "doink" like the students kept saying :) allows you to create a drawing frame by frame flip book style and then "play" that drawing so you see the animation occurring like a flip book. DoInk's site says they rate themselves as a PG-13 site so we drafted a letter to send home to explain the project and to get parent permission. Feel free to download and use this parent letter:

DoInk Parent Letter

In class, we created a half sheet of the "registration" directions and passed these out to the students. Feel free to take and use these directions:

DoInk Math Animation Project Insturctions

I also created a brief video tutorial and put it online on YouTube and Vimeo so that if students forgot what to do and wanted a refresher to complete their project at home, they could watch the video. We only had one class period to dedicate to the project and wanted the students to still be successful in completing the proejct. I tagged both videos as "fpmsmath" as one word and included that in the directions so students could find the video easily if needed.

When performing the demo for the students, I wanted to have a finished product so they could see what the final product should look like. This is this sample I created ahead of time for the students:

FPMS Math Sample by fpmsstudent, made at

As for the assessment piece of this, one of the math teachers created the half sheet rubric below that we put on the back of the DoInk directions sheet.

DoInk Math Animation Rubric

As part of the publishing process, we had students tag their animation with their teacher's name and "10" after it. The 10 was added to represent 2010 so if the math teachers repeat this project next spring, they can use 11 and so on so all search results aren't jumbled together.

Overall, a lot of upfront work, but the payoff was great. We told the students they could draw a quick object and then animate it. Many of the students got very creative and it was great to see them applying their math knowledge to this project that incorprated using technology. To see some of their projects, head to the DoInk Search page and search for Nackel10, Zomboracz10, or Hembre10. Many students even went on to create their own animations after completing this project.

A special thanks to Karen and Aaron with I had emailed them for some help and suggestions and they gave me some great (and FAST) feedback as we put the project together. I got in contact with Karen through Twitter and DoInk has a Twitter account to follow for recent news and updates as well.

Great project. Please let me know if you take and use these resources. I'd love to hear how it worked out for you.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

We'll See What I Make of This...

So, as you can see...I've decided to set up as an actual website. I have been struggling lately with where to "house" all the things I do on the web. Do I create a blog? Do I go all out and create an actual website? I messed with the programming code Joomla a little because our school district's website was created using Joomla.

I'm not a fan.

I'm sure to a programmer or code person it's very easy to use, but I found it very cumbersome. So that's why I'm here using Google Sites. I learned more about Google Sites at the recent Google Teacher Academy I attended in Washington DC in early December. I like the functionality of it and I like that I can have this "announcement" area to essentially create my first blog. So what will I blog about?

...who knows. I have never been a "blogger." I'm guessing I will try to keep this on track with things related to technology so we'll see. I know that I want to keep things short because I'm not a big fan of LONG, DRAWN OUT blog posts about nothing. ...

Back on track ... I had some brain storms tonight while driving home from our tour and visit to Lambeau Field so I have a first series of blog posts ready to go as I put them together. My hope is like the banner Create, Communicate and Collaborate.