Next is Now

Staying Connected

posted Jan 20, 2011, 8:13 AM by CHAD MARCUS   [ updated Jan 20, 2011, 8:55 AM ]

Staying connected is important to all us. Fortunately, today’s technology makes communication relatively easy. This edition of NBNext makes connecting your iPhone, Droid or iPad to your NBTSchools’ email, calendar and contacts a breeze. Our techs have created east to follow documents with screen-by-screen directions. The files have also been archived on the nbtschools Teacher Portal. Happy syncing!  

Focus Links
  • For someone learning the English language, idioms can be difficult to understand. The Idiom Dictionary ( was created to help people understand the meanings of more than five thousand English idioms. 
  • TimeRime ( allows users to create timelines that include text, images, audio and video. One of the better features of TimeRime is that you can have more than one type of media for each event on your timeline. 
  • Plus Magazine (www. is a free online publication dedicated to introducing readers to practical applications of mathematics. Plus Magazine strives to reach that goal through the publication of mathematics-related news articles, podcasts and mathematics puzzles designed around "real-life" scenarios.

Focus Video - 7 Billion People

The video below gives a quick overview of how the population grew to nearly 7 billion and the challenges presented by a population of 7 billion.

Study Island

posted Dec 12, 2010, 5:26 AM by CHAD MARCUS   [ updated Dec 13, 2010, 5:25 AM ]

This edition of NBNext focuses on an old friend, Study Island.  The program has been in the district for years, exposing students to test prep content and offering supplemental activities during the school day, in after school/summer program settings and on students’ home computers.  One of the great things about SI is that it is as easy as saying, “go on Study Island.”  However, there are tons of advanced features you may not be familiar with that many teachers are already successfully utilizing. 

SI boasts an impressive collection of teacher resources and training opportunities.  They can be accessed by clicking on the HELP link in the top right corner of the SI screen.  You will need your username and pw, which can be obtained from your school’s SI coordinator.  Here are a few highlights that are particularly noteworthy and news about the new "The Island" student interface for grades 9-12.

New to Study Island? 

Click on this one page Getting Started Guide.  

Looking to learn more?

Sign up for one of the free webinars or view a tutorial video.

Help prepare 9-12 students for their visit to “The Island”

SI has created a new student interface in response to customer requests for a more mature looking interface for our high school students.  The Island will have many new features and resources high school students need to be well prepared for college and a career.  The program has the capability to allow students to easily work on group assignments from home, create study groups to prepare for upcoming tests, discuss classroom lectures and exchange ideas.  Students can also personalize their profile by choosing their own avatar or profile image.  Finally, new high school level games will motivate students to answer the questions correctly.   To learn more, read the FAQ.  

Want to assign online writing assignments and provide grades and feedback via the web?

The Writing Assignment feature is a streamlined, paperless way to develop students’ writing skills.  Teachers can choose from a selection of grade-specific writing prompts or create their own writing assignments.  Students can use online graphic organizers to plan written responses then create and submit compositions electronically.  After viewing submitted assignments online, teachers will be able to leave comments and grades and/or send the composition back to students for revisions.  Note, you need to create a Class Page to take advantage of online writing.  Here are some resources to help get you started:

Interested in SI’s rich reporting features? 

You can find the strengths/weaknesses of the class, obtain Blue Ribbon data or view a breakdown of an individual student across the curriculum or within a subject.  Teachers can sign up to automatically receive weekly student progress report emails.  To set up an automatic email, click “School Stats” on the left side of the screen, select the report of your choice and click “Automatically Email Report,” if available.

Check out the reporting video tutorial or tip sheet to learn more. 

Focus Links
  • The Periodic Table of Videos ( brings the elements to life.  Simply click to view brief multimedia clips that will enhance students’ learning.
  • The Week in Rap ( produced by Flocabulary is a free weekly rap video recapping the week's biggest news stories.
  • VocabGrabber ( analyzes any text, generating lists of the most useful vocabulary words and showing you how those words are used in context. Just copy text from a document and paste it into the box and then click on the "Grab Vocabulary!" button. VocabGrabber will automatically create a list of vocabulary from your text, which you can then sort, filter, and save.  Be sure to check out the rest of the Virtual Thesaurus for additional tools and resources.
Focus Video
The Future of Work is an interesting video produced by oDesk.  oDesk is a company that matches freelance workers with potential employers.  Aside from the corporate sponsorship (which isn't clear until the end), the video does do a good job of illustrating how the world is changing and illustrating what the new workplace will require of employees.

The Power of Video

posted Dec 3, 2010, 9:05 AM by CHAD MARCUS   [ updated Dec 4, 2010, 6:01 AM ]

Whether the goal is to remediate or enrich, introduce or review, visit far off lands or journey inside the human body, online videos have tremendous potential to foster learning.  The web is packed with millions of hours of well-organized content free for the taking.  This edition of NBTSchools Next focuses on where to locate the best clips to complement your instruction and how to ensure student safety when using non-education specific resources such as YouTube.

This edition’s links include various tutorial sites, content aggregators, and documentary directories.  Search features, tags, keywords and related content make it easy to locate videos you can use to activate prior knowledge at the beginning of a lesson, summarize concepts for closure, or supplement traditional activities in school or as homework.  The following sites are particularly noteworthy…

Watch Know (

Imagine hundreds of thousands of great short videos, and other media, explaining every topic taught to school kids. Imagine them rated and sorted into a giant Directory, making them simple to find. WatchKnow--as in, "You watch, you know"--is a non-profit online community devoted to this goal.

Khan Academy (

Khan Academy is a not-for-profit organization with the mission of providing a world-class education to anyone, anywhere.  Currenly, Khan has over 1,800 tutorial videos and activities organized by topic, concept, and skill.  Videos are primarily math and science based; however, the developers are incorporating humanities and secondary test prep content as well.  Khan is a great example of open source technology and can be invaluable for students who need extra assistance or are capable of extending their own learning beyond the curriculum.  This site tends to focus on the higher grades so you may want to check out MathTrain ( for content for younger students. 

Learn it in 5 (

At Learn it in 5, you'll learn about Web 2.0 and strategies for using Web 2.0 technology in the digital classroom - all in 5 minutes or less.  Learn it in 5 is a powerful library of how-to videos, produced by technology teachers, for the purpose of helping teachers and students create classroom strategies for today's 21st century's digital classroom. These step-by-step how-to videos walk teachers through Web 2.0 technology, demonstrating how to use Web 2.0 applications like blogs, social networks, podcasts, interactive videos, wikis, slidesharing and much more.

YouTube probably requires little explanation.  The site boasts millions of videos ranging from adorable little kittens to violent gang related clips.  Somewhere in between, you can find awesome content to support student achievement.  Because the site is non-education specific, users should exercise extreme caution.  Students should not use the program unsupervised and should only run the program in safety mode.  

Unfortunately, displaying even the most benign clip to your students may result in exposing them to inappropriate comments posted by other users, unrelated and offensive related videos and/or commercial advertisements.  Therefore, when presenting YouTube videos, be sure to share the clips with one of the following services.  Both SafeShare ( and View Pure ( remove all the distracting and offensive surrounding/pop-up content from your video, rendering safe for your audience.  Simply copy and paste the YouTube url (web address) into blank box on ShareSafe or View Pure and click the button.  You now have a new link or window to share. 

Focus Links
Video Safety
Video Directories, Aggregators and Documentaries
Focus Video

Word Clouds

posted Nov 10, 2010, 9:13 PM by CHAD MARCUS   [ updated Dec 3, 2010, 6:42 PM ]

North Brunswick has gone global!  20 staff members received webcams and learned how to use Skype this week as part of the Global Connections initiative.  They will be expanding learning beyond the classroom by videoconferencing with teachers, students and guest speakers in North Brunswick and from around the world.  We’ll be sure to highlight their progress on NBNext in the coming weeks along with the videos from our Flip group.  The district is in the process of obtaining additional Flips and webcams and will announce additional Flex dates where you can receive hardware and training.

This week's Next is Now is showcasing word cloud technology.  These easy to use applications generate professional quality visual displays with endless possibilities for instruction in all grade levels and subject areas.  You and your students simply type or copy/paste lists of words, paragraphs, or pages of text into a text box and click create.  Font, color, size, shape and other options are customizable if you like, but one of the most powerful features of word clouds is performed automatically – word analysis. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text.  This allows teachers and students to compare, contrast, identify theme and main idea, summarize, isolate vocabulary words and much more. 

Check out the examples below and be sure to visit the Word Cloud Page via the sidebar for additional resources.  Email me the clouds you and your students create and I will send you a web 2.0 prize.  Selected contributions will be showcased on NBNext.    

Focus Links 
  • Wordle ( is the original word cloud application.  It's easy to use, but the sample gallery, which is blocked in-district, may contain inappropriate content. 
  • Word It Out ( is a great alternative to Wordle.  It does a better job of controlling inappropriate language and content and allows you to omit some of the words, like pronouns or other non essential text. 
  • Wordsift ( generates less visual, but more functional clouds. Once your students have produced the word cloud, they can click on the words and explore their meanings.
  • Tagexdo ( allows you and your students to create clouds by uploading files or entering URLs.  They also offer very impressive formatting options.

Focus Video
Sarah Smith and Linwood students created the following music video as part of a grant application.  In Sarah's own words...  
Active learning and beaming smiles are enhanced with technology at Linwood Middle School in North Brunswick, NJ. It’s “Hands Up for Technology” with these Linwood Lions! This class is involved in every facet of the school and community through the assistance of technology. In the background are the sweet voices of Lunch Crew peer buddies who seek daily interactions to build friendships and tolerance with the students in Rm. 413 at Linwood. 

Welcome to Next!

posted Oct 18, 2010, 5:44 PM by CHAD MARCUS   [ updated Dec 3, 2010, 9:20 AM ]

Welcome to NBTSchools Next!  Here we will explore, support and celebrate the integration of technology across the curriculum and throughout the grade spans.  The soon to be frequently updated main page, Next is Now, will highlight digital learning in our district and classrooms around the world.  The intent is to expose educators in our district to the potential and excite you to learn more.  The site’s subsequent pages will empower users of all levels of technical expertise to utilize the technological tools.  Current pages include tutorials and resources for Flip camera users, Google Docs and Safe Social Networking.  Regrettably, you will be prompted by a pop-up window asking if you want to view only the webpage content that was delivered securely.  Please click the “NO” button in order to see all the site’s content. This issue is actively being addressed by our IT team and should be resolved for all sites in the near future.        

Last week, teachers from all six schools gathered at NBTHS for the Video Cameras in Education training.  Attendees received a Flip handheld digital video recorder to bring back to their school.  This is an easy to use and inexpensive technology that can have a real impact on student learning and professional development throughout the district.  Based on initial feedback and overwhelming interest in the class, we have purchased another thirty cameras that will be distributed to teachers who sign up for a soon to be announced second training date.

Google Docs can be summed up in one word, AWESOME!  Google Docs is a free, web-based word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, form and data storage service offered by Google.  It allows users to easily share files and create and edit documents online while collaborating in real-time with other users.  Many of you may already be using the tool, with either a personal account or a username ending in the old “” suffix.  This year, we are happy to announce that we have an enterprise level account.  The new url (web address) is  Your username is your first initial followed by your last name.  There are no spaces and it is not case sensitive.  The temporary password is Nbtschools!  First time users of the new will be prompted to change their password.

Currently, all NBTSchools staff members and students in grades 5-8 have profiles.  This means students can submit assignments directly to their teachers by sharing files (complete directions are available on the NBTSChools Google Docs page).  Students in grades K-4 and 9-12 will be added to the system shortly. Students can access the site with the same username and password credentials.  All users have 2gb of “cloud” storage.  Clouds are virtual hard drives that allow users to save and upload any type of file to the web and access it from their school computer or home PC, Mac, or smartphone.  You can expect to see and hear lots more about how Google is impacting learning and communication in the district in the weeks to come on this site. 

The Safe Social Networking pages are still under development for a class I will be teaching with the Livingston Park Computer teacher, Kim George, this Thursday.  Please feel free to register for this Flex class, as there are still seats available.

I hope you visit NBTSchools Next frequently and find the content purposeful in helping our students prepare for their future.  Whether you teach in a state of the art lab or classroom without ample student computers, technology has the potential to engage students and help you accomplish your goals.  I look forward to working with you and our exemplary IT team in my new role as Supervisor of Instructional Technology, Assessment and Grants to continue and expand North Brunswick’s technological successes.  Your input and involvement is critical as we work together to enhance technology’s role in student achievement, stakeholder communication and efficient practices. 

Focus Links
    • SweetSearch helps students find outstanding information, faster. It enables them to determine the most relevant results from a list of credible resources, and makes it much easier for them to find primary sources. They exclude not only the spam sites that many students could spot, but also the marginal sites that read well and authoritatively, but lack academic or journalistic rigor. As importantly, the very best Web sites that appear on the first page of SweetSearch results are often buried on other search engines.
    • is the product of students taught by Mr. Marcos at Lincoln Middle School in Santa Monica, California. The site features videos in which students explain how to solve mathematics problems.  
    • Animoto automatically produces beautifully orchestrated, completely unique video pieces from your photos, video clips and music. Fast, free and shockingly easy.
Focus Video

Sixth Sense Technology - Ted Talks

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