About macteech

I'm an Instructional Technology Specialist in New York City, a career that feeds my inner geek. Mother to two young men, a cairn terrier, two kittens (and their outdoor feral relatives). Avid reader and movie junkie. I spend way too much time on the computer :D. Oh, and I knit.

After you visit me here, come over to my new blog!




I am in my second year in a wonderful school in New York City where we have an active, student-centered blog (and wiki).  Please come over and visit with us and see what we are doing in K-5 in Forest Hills NY.  And please leave a comment.  It means a lot to the students to know that someone other than their teacher and perhaps their parents are looking at their work.

My new home is :


The Teacher Salary Project

Just came across this today and I highly recommend that anyone with an interest or stake in education (which should be every single person in the world, since education is the key to our survival) take a few minutes to check it out. Better yet, watch the film. Easily accessible on Netflix and a range of other hosting sites. Over the past decade the barrage of negative press and outright attacks on America’s educators has been demoralizing and destructive, not only to those who teach, but to all of those who are taught. I see this project as an ember of something that could ignite a movement in a positive and productive direction and maybe even actually help improve education, instead of reducing it to a set of data points. Just my opinion.


Embedit.In Goes by the wayside

Just an alert to those of you who have been using the EmbedIt. In player for your documents on the your websites, blogs and wikis.

You are going to want to download your documents and find another player to embed them onto your site.  If you convert all your documents from an Embedit.In to PDF you can upload to the Youblisher.com player.  Another option is to use Scribd.com.

It’s always disappointing when an interesting and helpful Web 2.0 tool bites the dust, but that’s the way of the world.

Grabbing video

You Tube is blocked in many school districts, which is on the one hand, understandable when you do not want your kids surfing through the latest escapades of “JackAss Two” in school, and on the other, a shame since there is a lot of excellent educational content buried in You Tube as well.  The geeky teacher can circumvent this block, by downloading a plugin for Firefox and Chrome called Download Helper.  It sits quietly on your browser bar but springs to life (evidenced by the three colorful spheres that start turning) when a video is detected on a website.  You can then click on the arrow that appears to the right of the DH icon, and download a hard copy of your video.  Voila!  This is a good workaround for anemic bandwidth as well.  Check it out.  It’s an oldie, but a goodie.

Keep Our Playground Clean and Safe!

I created this sample PSA for a second grade class with whom I am working.  They are in the midst of a project to investigate conditions at their local playground and then to create public service announcements (iMovies, Photostory slideshows or animations created in Frames) which we will then embed in QR codes and hopefully get permission from the Parks Dept. to display in the playground. We are also planning for the students to create English and Spanish PSAs since this is a largely latino community, and it would be awesome to have people use their smart phones to “read” the QR codes and hear the local kids telling them how important it is to keep the playground clean and safe.

As far as mechanics, I imported about 9 seconds of video footage into Frames 4 and then moved it over to Frames 5 (the new Frames is awesome, but doesn’t have the capability of importing live video). The animated character is built-in clipart that I modified using the Frames drawing tools, exporting snippets and turning them into transparent .png files in Imageblender. The smiling character near the end was created by simply masking his frown and using the drawing tools to overlay a big smile. Much of the animation was done by using the built-in path animation tools. I also love the new titling features in the new version.
If you have questions about doing this type of project, please let me know via the comments. I love to share geeky tips!

Keep Our Playground Clean and Safe! from Title IID – Queens, NYCDOE on Vimeo.

The kids created some awesome animations.  I think they did an amazing  job! You can see all of their work (including the versions in Spanish) at the Voices In History blog, http://edtechnyc.org/vih




InstaGrok Search Engine Plus…Awesomeness!

This is a terrific new search engine designed for students and evolving as we speak (or write).  Not only does it provide a concept map for the search inquiry, but it generates a student journal page for the research being gathered, previews web content and tracks the sites visited. It also provides videos and relevant images, in one neat package. And it’s FREE! All in all a great addition to your student toolkit.

Check it out! Click here to get there.

PBL Inspirations

Back when I was in grad school working toward my Masters in Education, one of my professors shared a wonderful video about project-based learning that featured a dynamic fourth grade teacher and his students who learned about the pilgrims, math, language arts, science, art and a slew of other disciplines through designing and building furniture for their classroom using techniques that the Pilgrims would have used. They collaborated with community artisans and businesses, raised funds by baking and selling loaves of bread (baked in the school cafeteria), published a newsletter to keep the stakeholders in their collaborative project informed and ultimately met their goal of furnishing their classroom with authentically built furniture. At the end of the year, they sold their finished products to generate seed money for the following year’s students. This video stuck with me for more than the last decade, but I could never quite remember the correct name of the project or the name of the teacher involved. Today I finally succeeded and was very happy to rediscover Stephen Levy and through that rediscovery, finding the Expeditionary Learning site.  ( http://elschools.org).

There are some wonderful student projects highlighted on the site that I know will inspire the teachers with whom I am privileged to work, as they develop authentic projects for their students, even in the midst of the testmania which surrounds us.

Take minute or two and check out their website and the student work.  It will blow your mind.  By the way, I emailed Mr. Levy to find out about getting a copy of the video.  I’d love to see it again and share it with  my peers.