Tabaldo on Tech

Teaching with Technology in the 21st Century

Tabaldo on Tech - Teaching with Technology in the 21st Century

Fun Stuff for Student Engagement


Are you struggling to engage your students? I have found some fun and free (or cheap) sites to create fun content.

XTRANORMAL – Xtranormal helps you create amazing interactive stories with a few clicks and a little imagination. – Below is a video I created for a Desire2Learn conference. There is a free version (but it is really pay per use), I have the Educational account $10/mo. not bad.


VOKI – Voki enables users to express themselves on the web in their own voice using a talking character. You can customize your Voki to look like you or take on the identity of lots of other types of characters… animals, monsters, anime etc. Your Voki can speak with your own voice which is added via microphone, upload, or phone.  Voki is FREE but also has a classroom subscription for $29.95/yr. VOKI also has lesson plans where you can search by subject matter and/or grade level, and checl out VOKI’s education page some great ideas here.

Below is a VOKI i made for an introduction to a course in out LMS.


BLABBERIZE – This simple and free interactive web-based site allows users to upload a pic and then narrate it so the picture comes to life. See below my feeble attempt to blabberize.

As teachers we need to stick together and share resources. If you have a favorite link,  like one of these please share it with me either via a post or email and I’ll add it to my Teacher Resources page.

Professional Development & Technology

ToT-PD banner

Professional Development is a difficult subject to tackle because it means many different things to different people. PD to a teacher means finding something that they can attend that has some value and is hopefully interesting to their related subject or grade level and will meet the amount of hours needed to keep current. PD to an administrator means you are paying a substitute AND the teacher at the same time. I know that seems harsh, but it is true. As much as an administrators want the teachers to be current in their areas, they really want them to do it on their own time.

An excerpt from Standford’s

    Professional Learning for the Learning Professional


sums it up so well:

As students are expected to learn more complex and analytical skills in preparation for further education and work in the 21st century, teachers must learn to teach in ways that develop higher order thinking and performance. These new standards require a new kind of teaching, conducted by “teachers who understand learning as well as teaching, who can address students’ needs as well as the demands of their disciplines, and who can create bridges between students’ experiences and curriculum goals” (Darling-Hammond, 2005, p.5). Efforts to improve student achievement can succeed only by building the capacity of teachers to improve their instructional practice and the capacity of school systems to advance teacher learning.



What is being asked of us as teachers is more complex than it was 20 years ago and therefore we will need to help the teachers by filling their teaching “tool-belt” with some 21st century tools.

Here is an awkward thought, what about the Professional Development for the Educational Technologist? Here is an industry that is changing at the speed of dog years x 2! Just when we research the products out there, then recommend the product, by the time the school board approves the product it could be obsolete. Finding technology that will remain constant is an oxymoron. PD for the Instructional Designer, the IT Professional, the Educational Technologist is critical, because the technology can function totally different in a year to meet the needs of different uses/consumers. For tech professionals, the process for implementation of new technology looks much like any other business model for implementation: Request for Proposal, Research, Recommend, Approve, Implement, Assess, Revise, Assess, Report. With this model in place in an educational institution, usually it involves a new phone system or risograph, or copier. In those instances this process could go smoothly and quickly, but when it comes to software and hardware this process can be painstakingly difficult. This is why technology professionals in education need to be current in their area of expertise just as a subject matter expert faculty member. These tech pros when filled with knowledge from conferences and collaborations with others in their industry will be your loyal companion and trusted confidant. These tech pros not only crave the newest information on whatever gadget is comping out, in order for them to be of any value to their institution, they must be as current as possible in their area.

For tech pros, conferences like Educause and software user conferences are the best way to stay connected with the new and emerging technologies. Take that to the next level and understand that there is more community development in learning communities and list-serves even consortiums.

I know I personally look forward to professional development and I always make sure I leave the conference with at least one thing I can take away and implement right away. If I’m an attendee thats what I want out of every session and if I’m presenting, that’s what I try to give.

So for some Professional Development is and always will be a burden, but for others of us, not only do we require it we actually look forward to it!

Did I create a monster?

The newest addition to our family came 8 years after our others and we have all recognized that he is the most “Digital Native” of our kids. At the age of 18 months he was navigating my iPhone and I was beginning to find myself downloading apps that I thought might be of interest to him. By the time he was 2 years old he was a master of i-products, and our first iPad was soon confiscated by the then 3 year old. When I walked in the door in the evening from work I was greeted with “Mom, can I have your iPad?” I have to admit it was funny at first but then I began to notice that I was secondary to the iPad. The iPad was the first thing he asked for in the morning and the last thing he wanted to play with before bed at night. My older kids bitterly said that the iPad was really his and he was just letting me use it for work. I vehemently denied these accusations, but deep down I know it was true.

With that realization I began to wonder, Did I Create a Monster? Here is a child that will never know what it is like to actually roll down a window by hand, to turn a dial on a TV, he has no idea what a cassette tape is, we have never had a VHS tape or VCR since he’s been born and I wonder about the future that is ahead for him.
His world is LIVE, happening right now, all the time. His world is interactive. He is engaged with it almost all the time. Even as I write this blog post on the MacBook, he is touching the screen trying to “move” it around like on an iPad.
TV shows he can watch “on-demand”, he can find almost everything on YouTube to watch, he can navigate Apps with very little assistance, and I have found that he is not scared to try and fail then try again when he is “playing.” I can not help but notice the ease and comfort he has with the iPad.
No, I did not create a monster, I just have a child that is surrounded by technology because of the fact he was born to me, a technology junkie. He is ahead of most kids when it comes to to the digital world and how to navigate in it. He understands that information is available at our fingertips and often reminds us of that; like when there is a “discussion” among the adults and the kids about the a Footloose movie reference (original vs. remake) the boy will say, “Why don’t we just look it up on the iPad.” Duh! We all whip out the i-products and look up the topic of debate and see who can get it up on the Apple TV the fastest.  Ahhh evening fun at the Tabaldo house. This little exercise in proving the others wrong, teaches Internet searching skills, website validation skills and even debating skills (maybe that is just at our house….)
I maintain that I did not create a monster, I am raising a digital native and nurturing him in his natural habitat.
(photo top: taken by: S.Tabaldo April 2012  photo bottom: taken by: M. Tabaldo May 2012
photos may not be used with out permission.)