Friday, December 29, 2006

[TIPS] Ancient ice shelf snaps off

The sad part about this is that the issue of global warming has become a political one, with one side even refusing to watch the video. Yet, stories like the one above are becoming more and more frequent. We're in the business of education, not censorship. Teachers can request a free copy of "An Inconvenient Truth" and I hope you do. I also hope that you'll make a lesson out of it. If you believe it's not true, what a great opportunity it will be to show both sides of the issue. If you're worried that it might be true, then all the more reason to show it. If you think it IS true, but don't want to get involved in a political discussion, consider posing the question to your students and having them dig for the "other truth."

I'm going to paste an email that I received from John Branson (cciu):
- - - -
FYI. The producers of "An Inconvenient Truth" are offering free copies of the DVD to the first 50,000 educators who request it. An "Inconvenient Truth" is the documentary made by Al Gore regarding Global Warming. The web site for requesting the DVD is:

A story about the free offer and the National Science Teachers Association's refusal to distribute the video appeared in the online edition of Education Week (link below). The NSTA said that it was because they have a "policy against endorsing or distributing products
from outside groups or individuals." Some charged that it might be because the group accepts contributions from oil interests. The NSTA does provide a link to the site for teachers to request a free copy and has invited Al Gore to speak at their annual meeting in March.

Teachers wishing a free copy will need to provide their school district's federal ID number.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Yikes! I've been "tagged"

Tag? I'm it? I just read thefischbowl and was pleasantly surprised to discover that I'd been "tagged." Yikes! Now I'm supposed to tell five things about myself that others may not know and then tag five others. The hardest part comes in knowing five other bloggers who haven't already been tagged. When I wondered aloud to my wife why the heck *I* was tagged she reminded me that I was reading blogs on Christmas morning, for pete's sake. Oh... ok... maybe. :-)

I didn't trace this back as Karl had done, but he did mention that somewhere along the way this may have been for the purpose of identifying others as resources, but has evolved (devolved?) into this. So here are my five things:

1. I began my career as a music teacher where I served almost 8 years. To this day I believe that there is a special place in Heaven for middle school General Music teachers. :-)

2. My second career started five years later in 1983 as a high school computer teacher because at that point I had taken about 21 credits in computer programming (on key punch machines) and found it fascinating. I taught BASIC programming, of course, and MS-DOS 1.0!! No hard drives back then, y' know. Things changed slowly at first until around 1990 when we installed a Mac lab, and I fell in love. I credit the Macs for the fact that I've thus far managed to avoid a mid life crisis. Who knows, had we not gotten them I might have bought a convertible and some driving gloves and started cruising college campuses. :-)

3. I started a Mac user group (CAMELOT) where I began this tip thing, but back then the tips were mostly about Clarisworks/Appleworks. So, I guess I've been sending out daily computer tips for about a dozen years. As a result of those tips I began writing a column for Child Guide Magazine, a small publication located in West Virginia. My column won both a National Gold (2004) and a National Bronze (2005) award from Parenting Publications of America. Blew me away!

4. My wife and I are very fortunate to own a beautiful log home on 30 acres of wooded ground near Raystown Lake in south central PA. With thoughts of retirement in the not-too-distant future I just may be writing my tips from there.

5. I work as an Instructional Technology Trainer for the Capital Area Intermediate Unit just across the beautiful Susquehanna river from Harrisburg, PA. I get to do all sorts of workshops and trainings which are now mostly about trying to get more of our teachers using blogs and wikis (my wife refers to them as 'drippies' - she sorta listens when I talk) and Moodle, etc. In retirement I hope to be able to do more workshops and continue the work of trying to get people past the idea of thinking a blog is a "four letter word."

So there you have it. Geez... too many "I's." But, that's the nature of this sort of thing, isn't it?

OK... Kurt, Steve, Tim, and ...? - tag! You're it. (I don't know 5 bloggers well enough to tag them. Maybe I should tag Anne Smith. As it is I'm going to have to email Steve and Tim to tell them that I have tagged them. :-) )

Sunday, December 24, 2006

ashes and snow

It's Christmas Eve, but I just had to share this.
Here's another one of those sites that just may take your breath away. Enter the enhanced site. Explore the entire site. You'll be drawn in, I'm sure.
Now I want you to consider this site the next time you're thinking of your next writing prompt for your students.

Friday, December 22, 2006

[TIPS] audio books at Cumberland Co libraries, too

Thanks to Tim B for pointing out that Dauphin County library isn't the only one locally with audio books available for download. The above link is for Cumberland County. These are mp3 files so you can put them on any mp3 player. Books to go. Now would be a perfect time to get your kids started listening to books on your long trips.

[TIPS] John Henry Faulk's 'Christmas Story', gizmoz and traditions

You thought I was going to forget, didn't you? Every year for... gosh... ten years or more, now, I've been sending this url out to the folks on my list. I listen to it every year, too. Still one of my all time favorites. Do yourself a favor and have your children listen to it, too. DO use the Listen button at the top of the article instead of reading it.
- - - Bonus 1 - What fun this site is. Saw a review of it here: and had to try it out. TO hear one I made visit my actual blog site and see the post just below this one to hear me I mean Santa...wish you a Merry Christmas. http://tipline.blogspotcom/ There are LOTS of different talking heads available, too.
- - - Bonus 3
Christmas traditions around the world. Lots of them.
- -
This may be the last tip of the year. Maybe. There's so much going on, and the race doesn't stop just because we're not in session. But, if you don't hear from me until after the New Year, I do wish you a VERY Merry Christmas. (Happy Holidays, too) ;-)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Wishing you a Merry Christmas

[TIPS] Connectivism Online Conference

Will Richardson mentioned this event in his post yesterday. It's another no-cost online conference, this time on the topic of connectivism delivered in real time using Elluminate and Moodle. Some of the featured guests/presenters include Will Richardson, Stephen Downes, Terry Anderson, and Bill Kerr. (What? No Karl Fisch?) But, it should be time well spent.
Dates: Feb 2-9, 2007
- - snip - -

The evolution of teaching and learning is accelerated with technology. After several decades of duplicating classroom functionality with technology, new opportunities now exist to alter the spaces and structures of knowledge to align with both needs of learners today, and affordances of new tools and processes.

Yet our understanding of the impact on teaching and learning trails behind rapidly forming trends. What are critical trends? How does technology influence learning? Is learning fundamentally different today than when most prominent views of learning were first formulated (under the broad umbrellas of cognitivism, behaviourism, and constructivsm)? Have the last 15 years of web, technology, and social trends altered the act of learning? How is knowledge itself, in a digital era, related to learning?

Connectivism Online Conference is an open online forum exploring how learning has been impacted by ongoing changes. The conference will run from February 2 - 9, 2007.

Key themes will include: trends in K-12 sector, trends in higher education, research and net pedagogy, technological and societal trends, and connective knowledge and connectivism.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Dangerous Idea

This site: asks the question, "What's your dangerous idea?"

- - snip - -
The history of science is replete with discoveries that were considered socially, morally, or emotionally dangerous in their time; the Copernican and Darwinian revolutions are the most obvious. What is your dangerous idea? An idea you think about (not necessarily one you originated) that is dangerous not because it is assumed to be false, but because it might be true?

- - -
Sounds to me like one of those ideas that college freshmen stay up "solving." But, it also sounds like an interesting blog assignment. I'd have them read a few of the responses that are already there, first. THEN, I'd have them blog their own idea. How's that for a writing prompt?

Oh, and check out some of the previous year's questions, as well.

[TIPS] games for the little ones and more audio books

These two sites come from a parent who says they're good games for
children. Why? They're monitored. Ask anything in the "room" that is
personal in nature and you're booted out. (Thanks to Dave for this tip)

- - - more audio books - - -
Remember the tip about the audio books? Well, the Dauphin County Library
System also has audio books available to download from their website.
Over 1700 titles, even. (Thanks to Carol for sharing this information)
Here's how:

To access the service, go to from
your home computer. Instructions direct you how to sign up for an
account. Select the public library you use most frequently, then enter
your library card number. After your registration is complete, click on
the eAudiobook icon for access to the full collection of titles, over
1700 with more added monthly.

Don't have a library card? Well chop chop. Now is the perfect time to
take your kids in there to get their own cards to become life-long

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

[TIPS] NASA & Google?

Once again Karl Fisch points to a very interesting article in this post: He then links to this article: which describes the partnership between Google and NASA!!
Should be interesting. Remember that NASA has the its own terra server and its own version of Google Earth. Microsoft has its version, too. Plus this one. How this shakes out in a couple of years will surely be impressive, don't you think?

[TIPS] Scrybe- the next killer ap?

You've got to see this one. Check out the video demo (and notice the accent? HE'S in the race.) Want more demo movies? Try: when you get home.
What is it? A very impressive "Office" application with powers and features you won't believe. VERY cool tools. You can even work offline and sync the next time you're back online. Too much to explain in this one short article. You might try this article though:
Now I doubt if this one will be free for long. I also would bet that it will get bought up quickly by the one with the deepest pockets. Google? Yahoo? This again shows the web as a platform - Web 2.0.

Monday, December 18, 2006

[TIPS] The Fischbowl: This Is Not Education As Usual

This one couldn't wait another day.
You've read/heard me reference Karl Fisch's TheFischBowl before. He just posted another entry (above) that I think you should see. Here he links to a couple teacher blogs (teacher blogs!! - can you imagine?) and directs your attention to the comments left by the students. I.E. this sample from Brian G: "One huge change I saw in my learning this semester in my education was the ability to direct my own learning. " Or this one from Ty: "This class has been the hardest of any of my classes so far, but it is also the best one." Do yourself a professional favor and check them out.
There is great stuff going on in that school. Which student do YOU think is better prepared to successfully "face the race" we're in? Brian or one from your school?
And I would again like to remind you, as Thomas Friedman said, "China and India aren't racing us to the bottom." Remember, too, that in order for our students to compete, we MUST aggressively seek out professional development opportunities in order to even know what the race is all about.

[TIPS] Congratulations! Person of the year!! Wow!

Let me be among the first to congratulate you for becoming this year's Person of the Year for Time Magazine.,9171,1570743,00.html Yes, it's you who controls the Information Age, after all. It's you who contributes to the content on the web with your blogs and wikis. It's you who has changed the way we store and gather information with your use of tags and RSS. Indeed, you are no longer just a consumer of information but a provider, as well. My hearty congratulations to you.,9171,1569526,00.html
(Thanks to Sue S for alerting me to your award.)
- - -
The social nature of the web has changed everything, hasn't it? Are we training our students for this world?

Friday, December 15, 2006

[TIPS] Rock Phish busy phishing

I've never heard of this name before, but I HAVE heard of phishing attacks. That's when an unsolicited email (spam) tries to trick you into clicking on a link in the email to repair your damaged eBay or PayPal or Amazon account. If you DO click the link in the email the site may look very official, but when you type in your credit card number ... well, they've just landed a big phish - a sucker. :-)
With all of the internet shopping going on this time of the year it's wise to be aware of these scams. Here's a link to help. You can report phishing emails here, too. Both Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox 2 have some built-in anti-phishing protection, but they're not foolproof.
How profitable is this? According to THIS article the amount is nearly $3 BILLION last year (period ending Aug '06).
Let's be careful out there.

[TIPS] audio books online

Thanks to Cheryl C for sharing this one.

Want to listen to books online!!! Free online audio books by author and title.  Available for all ages. 

Students who need to hear and read can benefit from this site.  Check it out!  It is a good one!

Books are also in other languages.  There are lists of SS content as well under non fiction.  The Getttysburg Address, The Stamp Act.. Etc.  All recordings are in the Public Domain. You can even volunteer to record one of your own!

- - - snip - - -

LibriVox volunteers record chapters of books in the public domain and release the audio files back onto the net. Our goal is to make all public domain books available as free audio books. We are a totally volunteer, open source, free content, public domain project.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

[TIPS] TIME: The Best Photos of 2006 (and bonuses)

Each year Time releases its choices for Best Photos of the year. Looking for something for a writing prompt? Look no further. Got a Moodle class? Consider having your students write about a photo in their journal. Better yet, do you students have blogs?
- - Bonus 1 - -
Send this link to your band director: A tuba solo that they and their star tuba players won't believe.
- - Bonus 2 - -
Thanks to Sue S for sharing this one: 
"The Infinite Thinking Machine (ITM) is designed to help teachers and students thrive in the 21st century. Through an active blog, an Internet TV show, and other media resources, the ITM shares a "bazillion practical ideas" for turning the infinite universe of information into knowledge. We showcase examples of innovative instructional methods, talk with leading experts, and share real stories from the classroom to improve how we think, learn, teach, and live. And we try to have a little fun along the way."

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

[TIPS] some fun flickr toys

Once again my apologies for not referencing the site where I learned about this site, but it's a good one. That is, it's a good one if you've got a flickr account. THis site has a whole list of fun mashups that work with your flickr photos. Some will work with regular digital images that you upload, as well.
For example, check out this "magazine cover" that I made in less than a minute (as you can tell by my lack of creativity in the text portions) using a picture I had in flickr. Tell me that wouldn't be fun to make one of these with your Star Student's picture, or a group picture of your students. Or, using one of your images, make a motivational poster, or a collage, or a number of different types of images. A fun site, to be sure.
- - - bonus- - -
Oh, and as an FYI, did you know that Jimmy Wales is GIVING AWAY the wiki software along with FREE HOSTING? His vision is to help the world find an easy way to create content on the web. (Remember the race?) Read about it here:

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

[TIPS] Math and Physics animations

Another three-fer today. All sites courtesy of' Math tag.

First, two more interesting math sites. The first, is a collection of 160 math puzzles. They're not easy, so this will be for your higher level math students.

The second,, is a repeat from a couple of years ago, I believe. But, it's worth mentioning again. Lots of animated gifs representing math concepts. Note the links on the left, as well.

- - -
Bonus: A recent post to the Long Tail blog of Chris Anderson had this little piece of trivia regarding Pixar's Toy Story and their recent movie, Cars. It took two hours to render an average frame of Toy Story back in 1995. (Can you believe it was that long ago?) Guess how long it took to render a frame of their recent movie, Cars. Go ahead. Guess. Find the answer here: There is some white space below the pictures. Highlight the invisible text there to see the answer. Amazing, is it not?

Monday, December 11, 2006

[TIPS] ThatQuiz

Thanks to Cheryl C for sharing this one.


- - - snip - - - 

The most complete math test resource on the web today with over 400,000 graded exams to date and over 50,000 participating students.  What we believe in: Clean, quality, easily accessible, educational software for every school and child regardless of geographic location or economic class.  What we don't believe in: Games, advertising, fees, spam or gimmicks. ThatQuiz is free for educational use.

- - -


Imagine this one to cut back on paper and data collection for math students.  Try it, it's totally free and simple to use!!


Friday, December 08, 2006

[TIPS] The power of blogging

I have to share this. The other day I pointed you to a blog by Mrs Anne Smith's 9th grade AP English class at Arapahoe High School. Remember? About the same time that I did that I commented on her class blog post about what a great project idea I thought that was and how much I enjoyed hearing them.
Today I received two comments to my tips blog post from students in that class in which they thanked me for the mention and the kind words. (Had I known they would have seen this I would have said more about how impressed I was with the assignment and their reports.) In any case, revisit that post by clicking the above link and read the comments. Take special note to this line, "These papers really made me want to do well so that I could let people all around the country and possibly the world know what I believe and what I have learned in life so far."
I'm hearing a lot about schools wanting to install blog servers but they want to make them visible only inside their buildings or possibly on the larger Wide Area Network. Fear can be crippling. But I would argue that using a blog tool but limiting its visibility to the school may indeed be blogging, but only in the same sense that driving a NASCAR stockcar around the school's parking lot can be called racing. ;-)

[TIPS] Wordie

Thanks to Candy S for sharing this one. "Christmas Time Is Here"..... :-)

Wordie ( says it's "Like Flickr, but with without the photos" Great - if you know Flickr (and you SHOULD!) It further adds, "Wordie lets you make lists of words -- practical lists, words you love, words you hate, whatever. You can then see who else has listed the same words, and talk about it. It's more fun than it sounds."

It's not entirely obvious what it's about, so CS also pointed us to a link at Teacher's First that talks about the site and the classroom uses for it. Very nice. It's here:

Thursday, December 07, 2006

[TIPS] mabryonline blog post to hear

Hear? A blog post? Yes. This particular blog post (September 5, 2006) includes three audio/video files, and I'm suggesting that you take time from your busy schedule today (or very soon) to listen to at LEAST the middle one. The first is his version of the now-infamous " Did You Know " slideshow by Karl Fisch (TheFischBowl). The second, however, is the one I want you to listen to. It's an audio of a parent night meeting.
Two things impressed me here. First, he's using all sorts of technology during this presentation, starting with the "clicker" response system to poll the parents during that meeting. Very effective way to hold their attention, as I'm sure you'll agree. Second, he recorded the session to be able to post the audio file here for those who couldn't make the meeting. Third, he mentions that his staff ALL blog! And I love how he says that they don't do that in order to make more work for themselves; they do it to make more work for the PARENTS. He then goes on to talk about some of the serious issues they are dealing with in the NCLB requirements, and... well... you'll hear for yourself. An excellent presentation, IMHO. (In My Humble Opinion) - It's currently the third post on the page
Ask yourself, "What might MY school be like if we had a system like this, and even our principal blogged to parents?" It's easily done. Call for information on how it can be done for YOU. (Does that sound like an ad? I didn't intend for it to be.)  :-)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

[TIPS] vgsbooks - Visual Geography Series

Thanks to Sue S for sharing this one.
- - snip - - extension of Lerner Publishing Group's Visual Geography Series® (VGS) and your one stop resource for links to additional country-specific information, up-to-date statistics, photographs and maps you can download into your report, and much more.
 - -
Looks like a good one. A one-stop-shop.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

[TIPS] Smith's 9th Honors Class Blog: Period 2 This I Believe...

Here's a reality check for those who struggle with getting freshman kids to write anything meaningful. Perhaps you're asking them the wrong questions. Take this example: Oh... sorry.. it's a blog. You probably can't read it at school. But if you could you'd hear this 9th grade class speaking their, "This I Believe" papers. Can someone please tell me what's wrong with an assignment like this? There must be something wrong or our schools wouldn't be stopping it.
From the site: "What is so intriguing to me about this assignment is that these kids wanted to not just complete it, but to share the things they believed in with the world. They wanted to be in-charge of letting others hear what is important to them, what mattered to them."
When you can, give this a listen. Make sure you listen to Shauna M's podcast. What a wonderful perspective from a 14 yr old. Oh, you may remember Karl Fisch, the "Did You Know" guy. This teacher is in his school district. Progressive district, is it not? THEY'RE in the race. Are YOUR students?

Monday, December 04, 2006

[TIPS] podcasting resources and more

A three-fer today.
1) Tim Wilson, in his Savvy Technologist blog, lists several good links for those interested in podcasting. Check it out here:
2) Some of you commented to me about that audio file From Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach on her experience growing up as a homeless child. Powerful listening, indeed. She also has a wiki here: where not only are all four podcasts listed for easier access, but it's a place where you can add resources for information on the homeless issue. Do check it out.
3) You know that I've commented (as have many others, of course) about "the race is on" in terms of the global race we're in. Remember I mentioned the $100 laptops and the free online courses? Well, check out this article:
Bill Gates (still no relation) is going to help provide Internet access in Eastern Europe and Botswana.
Do YOUR students know that they're in the race?

Friday, December 01, 2006

[TIPS] - a set of podcasts you ought to hear

Note: I put in the direct link to this particular podcast, as I have listened to it several times and I think it's one that every teacher should hear.

This woman is an active blogger for and about education. She's now a doctoral student and was one of the people behind the project. When you get here, scroll down and listen to the podcasts she has posted there from her keynote speech at a recent convention about homelessness. It will make you rethink your opinions on the issue for sure.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

[TIPS] MAKE: Technology on Your Time

This is a neat site that includes "Weekend Projects" that are very interesting. Video lead students through the process. Looks like fun.

Monday, November 27, 2006

[TIPS] How the History of the US has Changed

I heard this story on the way to work one morning and I thought, "This sounds like something that our History teachers would like." Play this for your students now so that when they're 50 yrs old and reading about this History of our current conflicts that they can see if History is kinder or harsher on us with the passing of time.

See the related articles below this one, as well.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

[TIPS] eschool news videos

Once again Karl Fisch in his The Fischbowl blog pointed us to a great video, and by extension to some other excellent videos. The first is another in the line of "Flat World" videos in which the speaker makes a VERY interesting statement about SAT tests. I'm not going to quote it here; I'd rather you go out and listen for yourself.

This site is: One video starts when the page loads. Some interesting news bits in there. There are a couple other good videos on that page, but notice the tabs just above the videos? Click the Tech Conferences tab and check out some of the other speakers there. Very interesting. The Best Practices tab has some others you'll enjoy.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

[TIPS] - Daily math word problems and writing prompts

How would you like to have a set of math questions - about 180 sets in all - for your 3rd graders? You print them out, one for each day as their daily math review. Word problems! Every day. Hmmm... I wonder if that would raise their math scores. Sound like a good idea? How about another set for your 4th graders or 5th?? Even your first and second graders?

I think I picked this little gem up from the math tag at These are from the Broward County Public Schools. On this same page are writing prompts, too. Looks like one per day. Gee... I wonder where they could write? Their blogs, you say? Great idea! I like the way you think. :-)

Cheers to the Broward County schools for posting these in the interest of better education for the children everywhere.

Monday, November 20, 2006

[TIPS] Pauls Online Math Notes and ThatQuiz

Thanks to Sue S for sharing this one. Wow - a BUNCH of math cheet sheets in pdf format.
And, math test activities for students and teachers of all grade levels here: Free for educational use.
(Does anyone know what you'd even DO with this math stuff in real life?)

Friday, November 17, 2006

[TIPS] Math cheat sheets and more

Looking for a nice, printable cheat sheet for your algebra or Calculus class? Here are a couple worth a look.
The first is a table of derivatives for your Calc class. Interestingly enough, it's a wikipedia entry. Uh-ohhhhh... better check it for accuracy, right? While you're there, though, check out the related links on the right side of the page.
The second is an Algebra formula cheat sheet. This pdf file is displayed much nicer than the above, but it was written for this format to begin with, and not as an article. Looks good.
And this one from A nice collection of Middle School printables for Math and Pre-algebra, both in ready-made and build-your-own formats.
And for fun.. math isn't just about numbers, y' know. (It's not??) No, it's not, as this page will show. What a fun collection of colorful tessellations, fractals, hyperboloids, pseudospheres (as if I know what the heck I'm talking about here), and much more. Show this to your favorite physics teacher, too.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

[TIPS] Richard Baraniuk speaks about Connexions

Another great (and short) video with Richard Baraniuk talking about Rice University's notion of providing "a free, global online education system" in an Open Source manner. Their site, Connexions (, is growing and gaining speed.
Think about this... Nicholas Negroponte is building the $100 laptop (, built with open source software and Internet access. It's being given to children in the poorest countries. (Remember those "hungry" kids?) Connexions is the Open Content counterpart to this. Free education with the content protected under the Creative Commons license ( and by contributing authors coming from around the world.
Do you see the big picture here? Does that put your job as a teacher into a global perspective in terms of its importance? The common themes here are open source and providing education. Let there be NO mistake here, folks... the race is ON!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

[TIPS] - An EXCELLENT Algebra site

This is an excellent Algebra resource site, but once again I can't recall where I read about it. It was likely by subscribing to a feed in, but I don't know which one.
Choose a Section, say "Basics of Algebra." In the next section just click on the topic you want. The topics are down the left and it talks you through the examples.
Send this one along to every math teacher you know.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

[TIPS] Cornell Notes - 43FoldersWiki

I wish I could remember where I find this stuff. From now on I'll be including that information. I CAN tell you that I subscribe to a ton of different blogs and feeds of various kinds. My public feedroll is here:, if you're interested.
Anyway, the top link is for a 43folders entry about Cornell Notes, a template for students to use when taking notes in class. (Tell both of your note-taking students about this!) :-) There is even a link at the bottom of the article to a pdf generator in which you supply your name (if desired) and class name and it creates the pdf file for you. Just print it - and make copies for your students.
See what you think of the template. Oh, and did you notice that the page is a wiki?

Monday, November 13, 2006

[TIPS] Flash Earth ...satellite and aerial imagery of the Earth in Flash

School got your Google Earth blocked? (Y' know, if you never heard that commercial that sounds horrible, doesn't it? ) No problem. Here's a flash version that lets you zoom in have a look-see just like Google Earth. You can choose to use Microsoft VE, or Yahoo Maps, or even NASA's Terra server. Since it's flash based you don't need to worry about hogging up bandwidth, either.
Thanks to Kurt for sending that one my way. He shared it using the for:jgates513 tag in Remember that?

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Do you know a business teacher who teaches a lot of excel? This program
offers a free version with limited features, as well as a purchased
full-featured program. Of course that one runs about $1500. YIKES!!

But, check out the freebie version. I'm told it's still pretty cool. It
turns your data into VERY cool charts, with sliders, dials, and more.

Friday, November 10, 2006

[TIPS] web 2.0 for the classroom teacher

Tip for Wednesday...

An interesting collection of links to web 2.0 applications, categorized
by type of application. See if you can find something cool in this list.
From blogs to podcasts and beyond.

Oh, and if you've got young ones at home, or if you're an elementary
teaher, check out this site to help kids learn to spell. Thanks to
Cheryl C for showing me this one:

[TIPS] Ed Burtynsky on TED Talks

If only blogs...
Imagine a class of seniors and/or juniors in a sociology or social studies class. Imagine showing them this video. Then maybe the trailer found here: (Check out the Works sections, too) Then imagine having them blog about their thoughts. Or even just using a discussion thread. I HAVE to believe that this kind of discussion would not only be an eye opening experience, but it would get them writing about real world issues that THEY will be inheriting.
I HAVE to believe that this assignment would/could be a life-changing experience for some students.
(I used this man's works in a previous tip a few years ago. Now, however, with some of us allowing blogs I think this has the potential to be a much more motivating and motivational assignment.)
--- btw...
I'm not related to Bill OR Robert. :-)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

[TIPS] online file conversion

Here's a handly little site. Suppose you've got, say a pdf file and you need it to be a .doc (Word) file. What do you do? Or you've got a .wav file and need it to be an mp3 format instead. Tricky, eh?
With this site you simply upload the file (up to 100 mb), tell it what format you want it converted to, then wait for it to arrive in your email in the new format.
Now, I wouldn't suggest that you use your work email for this - for several reasons. Suffice it to say that it's not a good idea. But, if you've got a gmail account or yahoo, etc, then I'd use that address and you should have no problem - other than being able to hit those accounts from work, of course. This is a utility to use at home.

Monday, November 06, 2006

[TIPS] Office Pro for $80?

How would you like to get Microsoft Office Pro (Windows or Mac) for just $79.98 plus shipping. It comes to about $95. Sound like a deal? Suggested retail price is $499.
Visit and choose k12 in the Select a Type dropdown. Next, choose your state. Not all states are participating, but PA is. Next click the PA K-12 link to find the products. Deep, deep discounts for education.
Of course, you could always get Star Office (from or Open Office (from for free, but for those who must have MS Office, this is a great deal.

Friday, November 03, 2006

[TIPS] idea for podcasts

I just heard of one elementary school that is creating "podcasts" in conjunction with their local historical society, making "walking tours" of their community. So, when people stop in the tourist center to get the ipod shuffle with the walking tours, they'll be listening to the KID'S podcasts!! Does that give YOU an idea?
Today's topics include: "Selling Web 2.0 to Senior Management", "It's Elementary Kids; Working Web 2.0 with Grades 3-4", "Toward a System for Online Curriculum Sharing", and "Planning the 21st Century School" (from Philadelphia)
Have you been tuning in?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

[TIPS] Online Etymology Dictionary

- - snip - -
 This is a map of the wheel-ruts of modern English. Etymologies are not definitions; they're explanations of what our words meant and how they sounded 600 or 2,000 years ago.
- -
Share that with your English teachers and librarians.
Today's topics include: "Trash to Treasures: Creating Your Own Computer Lab", "Mobile Learning Redefined", "The 21st Century Educator's toolbox: Developing a Professional Learning Environment", "Homegrown: Within/Without the District".
Check 'em out.
- - bonus - -
This article about hackers hitting close to home:

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

[TIPS] Web 2.0 in action

Thanks to CS for pointing me to this site. We've been seeing a lot of
sites and hearing a lot of discussion about web 2.0 tools. THis site
gives you practical applications those tools in the classroom. Check it out.

- - - - -
Today's topics include: "Around the world in 80 Minutes", "Cultivating
Digital Educators", "Interrnet Access with Minimal Filtering", and
"Social Boookmarking/; Using",

I enjoyed two sessions from yesterday's group and I see at least that
many on today's list, too. I do hope you'll at least bookmark the site
so you can see them later. Or, check in and download the podcasts of the

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

[TIPS] another great pumpkin carving site

I almost forgot about this one. ANother truly amazing collection of pumpkin carvings.

[TIPS] Halloween sites 2 C

Oh... sorry. Didn't really mean to scare you. :-) But hey.. 'tis the season, no?
Speaking of the season, this tip is a reminder about an oldie but a goodie for Halloween clipart. has to be the BEST clipart site for this kind of stuff EVER. Great little animations, backgrounds, signs... much more. When viewing them, but sure to notice the Next button under the table containing the images or you'll miss most of them.
Then there's this site:  I've sent out sites before that had great pumpkin carvings, but I think this one tops them all. Amazing! What talented people there are in the world.
Today's topics include: "Not Just for Kids: Using Social Software to Create Community among Teachers and Provide Sustained Professional Development",
"Its a Small World After All!", "No Teacher Left Behind - The Urgency Of Web 2.0?, "Glow: Lighting Up Learning in Scotland"
If you haven't yet watched any of these presentations then you're in for a treat. For the most part they are VERY well done and they give practical advice and tips.


Monday, October 30, 2006

[TIPS] Back to school with WEb 2.0- - Part 3

This is the third in the series of "don't-miss" articles about how the new web 2.0 tools are impacting - or COULD BE impacting - our schools. If you missed the previous two parts, the links to those are along the right side.
Consider this professional development and read all three parts.
- - k12OnlineConference Update - - -
The two threads this week are "Professional Development" and "Overcoming Obstacles". Check out this week's offereings at

Friday, October 27, 2006

[TIPS] more k12onlineconference sessions today

I was under the mistaken impression that there were no more new sessions today. Turns out that there are, and there are some more good titles. Basic/Advanced Training - “Wiki While You Work (Basic)”, “Globally Literate”, “Hardy’s Wessex:
video editing and learning online”, and “Moodling Around: A Virtual Tour (Basic)”. YES!!! One on Moodle!!

Check 'em out

[TIPS] CamStudio - Desktop Screen Recorder

"CamStudio records activity from your screen and audio from a microphone
into AVI video files and can also convert the AVIs into Streaming Flash
videos (SWFs) using its built-in SWF Producer."

Did you see the SourceForge name in the URL? That means Open Source.
Free. Gotta love that, eh?

- - - K12 update - - -
Have you been catching any of the k12online conference? More coming next
week. If you missed the presentations don't worry. They'll be archived
for you to watch later on. Is that a great idea, or what?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

[TIPS] What happened on YOUR birthday?

Here's a fun thing to get started with your students. Get a list of their birthdays. On the given day send that student to a computer in the library and have him or her visit this site: (Thanks Barry) There they will enter the date of their birthday and get back all sorts of things that happened on that day. Try it yourself - unless you don't want to be reminded that Eisenhour was President, that is. :-)

- - - k12 update - -
On the agenda today:
“Listening to the voices: student empowerment through collaborative learning projects beyond the school walls”, "RSS for Educators (Advanced)", "Getting to Know FLickr", and this one with the great title, "iPods- iSpeak- iSing- iListen- iLearn”

If you do the RSS one, don't forget to watch the 4 part series from yesterday. ;-)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

bits n Bytes online

The latest issue of Bits n Bytes, the newsletter for Tech Services of the CAIU, is now online. I encourage you to check it out. The article on Internet2 is especially good, I think. And then there's my column, of course. :-)

[TIPS] 180 Tech Tips - and the K12Online Conference

That link is to a page that was created by one of PA's Keystones teachers. A tip a day, all archived and easily accessible. Check it out. He did an excellent job, and the tips are easy to follow.
- - update - -
I hope you had a chance to view the presentation yesterday on using a wiki with first graders. Catch her excitement and enthusiasm. Don't forget, is still giving away free wikis to educators. You should grab one now before too many other teachers catch on to this wiki idea and the free wikis are gone.
What's on today's agenda? "RSS - A Four Part Series" (by some guys you might know), "Publish Your Podcast in Less Than 5 Minutes using Taking It Global.", "Two Way Teaching: An Overview of the Read/Write Web in Education", and "Second Nature - Extending Dialogue in the Blogosphere."
Remember, all these sessions are archived and be accessed long after this conference is over.
Oh... a word to the wise... the file sizes on those movies on RSS are large so be patient as they download. And don't even bother if you're on dialup. I think they may get modified for dialup users sometime soon, though. Don't you think, Kurt? ;-)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

[TIPS] Using a Wiki in your classroom

I've been talking about wikis for ... a long time.. but I don't hear of many/any teachers in the area who are using them. Perhaps the reason is that they don't feel comfortable enough with the process of wiki'ing (look THAT one up in your Funk and Wagnall!).  Well, this may be just what you need in order to get you started.
This is one of the four presentations from yesterday's k12onlineconference in which Vicki Davis tells how she uses a wiki (a Free wiki from wikispaces) with her classes. Give this a listen and see if it doesn't get you interested in starting one of your own. I can guarantee that you won't be disappointed in the results.
Today's agenda includes the following topics: "Blog if You Love Learning", "Who's Teaching Who? Are We Ready?", "Using Web 2.0 Tools in a Grade One Classroom", "All About Internet Audio" (advanced level), and "TIGed Basics: A Beginners Guide to Social Networking in the Classroom." I encourage you to check them out. Some are very good. Others... aren't. Visit to get started.

Monday, October 23, 2006

[TIPS] k12onlineconference starts today

A reminder that the k12 Online Conference begins today at 8:00 AM. Today's topics include two in the category of, "A Week in the Classroom", and two training sessions. I'm especially looking forward to the one entitled, "I didn't know you could Could Do THAT With Free Web Tools." The home page is here: Why not check it out and then check out the wiki here:
- - - Never too late to sign up - - -
Just an FYI... if someone mentions that they didn't sign up for the new tips list, it's never too late. They can do so at any time. I'm just not going to be reminding you any more. :-)

Friday, October 20, 2006

[TIPS] - web 2.0 for school - part 2

This is part 2 of the series from yesterday. Very cool tools.
- - - last reminder - - -
This is the last reminder. After today you may still sign up, it's just that I won't be telling you how in these messages.
In the BODY of the email, type:
subscribe tips firstname lastname
subscribe tips James Gates
That's all. No more. no less. If you subscribe to my blog then you don't have to do anything. (I met two subscribers at yesterday's conference. Hi!)  :-)
Oh, and I don't think the emails will be coming from me. I think

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

[TIPS] - web 2.0 for school

Want to see what this web 2.0 stuff can do for your classroom? Check out
part 1 of this two part series. Part two tomorrow. How can you not love
this stuff?


(I'm sending this from home Wednesday night since I'm out all day
Thursday and can't do the usual delay from home.)

- - - one more day of reminders - - -
Tomorrow is the last day when I'll be sending these tips out via
groupwise. After that, if you want to get the tips you'll either have to
subscribe to my blog ( or SEND AN EMAIL to It doesn't matter what the subject says,
but the body must say:

subscribe tips firstname lastname

Example: subscribe tips James Gates

[TIPS] - PDF Pad
- - - snip - - -
What is PDF Pad?

PDF Pad is a comprehensive online destination where you can download and print the high quality documents you need for work, school and play, free of charge or registration hassles.
- - - snip - - -
You can print calendars, flags, graph paper, staff paper, storyboards, and sudoku puzzles.

Reminder: After Friday the only way to receive these tips is by either following the blog (
) or by being subscribed to the official tiplist. To subscribe, send an EMAIL to:

and put: subscribe tips firstname lastname in the  body.

Subscribe tips James Gates
When you receive the confirmation email, you must click the link it provides in order to complete the process.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

[TIPS] - Free English teaching materials for ESL

If you teach the ESL kids then this is a MUST-SEE site. (I wish I could remember where I found it. Did one of you send it to me?) Tons of resources, from audio files to help with listening, speaking, reading, and more. It truly is GOLD!
- - - K12 Online Conference Kickoff - - -
Last night was the Elluminate broadcast of David Warlick's introduction to the K12Online Conference ( I think I saw almost 50 people there, but I had to leave early. The actual conference workshops will be made available beginning next week. Remember, all workshops are online, and asynchronous. They are being made available beginning at 8:00 AM EDT on the days listed here: Our presentation (Kurt P and myself) will be made available on the 25th. "RSS- A Four Part Series." I do hope you'll check it out. It just may change the way you collect and share resources and news.
- - - mailinglist update - - -
Reminder - Friday is the last day for this list to be distributed via my regular groupwise account. Instead, it will be sent out via an automated mailing list. If you don't subscribe to it then you won't receive the tips - unless you're subscribing to the tipline blog, of course.
To subscribe to the list, send an email to:
In the body of the email, type:
subscribe tips firstname lastname
Subscribe tips James Gates
This is processed by the computer, so the syntax must be exact. You cannot, for example, type: "I want to get your tips James Gates" It must be as I've written it above. If you just can't get it to work, send me an email and I'll enroll you manually. No big deal.
This process has been a humbling experience as I learn the difference between the number of people who RECEIVE my tips vs. the number of people who READ them. :-)

Monday, October 16, 2006

[TIPS] - Stonehenge solved? - and k12onlineconference kickoff

I know that you know Stonehenge. Ever wonder how those rocks got there? This site is an excellent resource on the subject. But, at the bottom of the first page, click the ReadOn... link and on the second page you'll find a link to a movie that just may explain how those rocks got there and how they were set on their ends. Watch as this man moves and sets upright a 19+ ton pillar of his own. Amazing. For those of you studying simple machines this is a great movie.
- - - -
It's here. Tonight (6:00pm edt) is the Elluminate kickoff featuring David Warlick, author of, among other things, his 2 cents blog. Tune in to hear his kickoff to this first-of-its-kind conference. Then, starting next week you can tune into the site for some excellent, free, professional development courses. Here's the agenda: There are some great "workshops" on hte new web tools and web technologies. The great thing about them is that they will be archived, too. I DO hope that you'll check them out.
See anyone on there that you know? :-)

Friday, October 13, 2006

[TIPS] - Dates That Matter

Thanks to CS for sharing this one.
Click the "Click to learn more" link under the title to see a clue about something that happened on this date in history. Not only can you get hints to the answer, but when you do get the answer you can find out why it matters. I like that!! I think  you will, too.
- - - - mailing list reminder - - -
Once again, the reminder about the mailinglist. If you want to receive the tips after next Friday then you'll have to signed up on the tips mailinglist. Failure to take action will result in NO tips.
Send an email to: with the following in the body of the message:
subscribe tips firstname lastname
EX: subscribe tips James Gates

Thursday, October 12, 2006

[TIPS] - bonus - the Royal Deluxe Parade in Nantes

Did you watch the Sultans Elephant movie that I sent out the other day? That's the one that had that haunting music with it.
Several people emailed me back to tell me about the music and one thing led to another and I found this site with some amazing still images AND movies of that event.
Under the image of that 42 ton elephant is a link that says "amazing photos". Check it out. There was a lot more going on that day than just what that first movie showed us. What a show that must have been.

[TIPS] - Excel - Prevent duplicate entries

Are you ever in need of a spreadsheet where you don't want duplicate entries in a column? Recently, I was asked how that could be done and I didn't know. But, I was able to find the answer online here:
It's certainly not something that I would have guessed how to do, that's for sure.
- - -

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

[TIPS] - Copyscape - Website Plagiarism Search

So you've had your students create web pages and you warned them against plagiarizing, yet you suspect that a couple of them still don't quite understand the concept of plagiarism. ;-) Enter Copyscape. Just fill in the student's website address and the site will go out to see if they can find a match. It's not perfect, but it's pretty darned good.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

[TIPS] - The Literacy Project

"A resource for teachers, literacy organisations and anyone interested in reading and education, created in collaboration with LitCam, Google, and UNESCO's Institute for Lifelong Learning."
" Find books, articles and videos about literacy, or start your own literacy or reading group!"
Does anyone else think it's funny that they would use the British spelling of "organizations" on that site? :-) It wouldn't be so bad but it's not consistent throughout the site.

Friday, October 06, 2006

[TIPS] - Google Gadgets For Your Webpage - and the mailing
Do you have a web page of your own for your classes? How would you like some really cool gadgets to put on your page? From games to weather or horoscopes to calculators to quotes and even crossword puzzles or Sudokus are all here - for free. I even added a Sudoku puzzle to my Moodle class. Check it out.
- - - Mailing List - It's here! - - -
The mailing list from Listserv is finally working the way I want it, and it's now officially open to subscribers. Beginning in about two weeks I'll no longer be sending the tips to you UNLESS you have subscribed to the official mailing list. Send the subscription information to anyone you think may want to subscribe.
Please note that during the period from when you subscribe until I end the current list you will be receiving two messages, but the one will stop without you doing anything.
Instructions will follow. (The instructions will NOT be posted to the blog, however) There will be a link to click that will open an email and put some things in the body of the email. All you will have to do is add your name to the end of that line and click Send. You'll then receive an verification email with a link. Click that link and you're in!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

[TIPS] - xyAlgebra and a writing resource

The student programs (xyAlgebra and xySolver) feature:

  • Explanations of principles of basic algebra (320 instructional items).
  • Step-by-step sample problems that the student can consult later.
  • Practice problems randomly generated until student shows mastery.
  • All solutions are entered step-by-step.
  • All legitimate solution methods supported.
  • Any incorrect step is flagged as soon as it is typed.
  • A hint or suggested next step can always be requested.
  • Intelligent help at every step, including instant prerequisite review.
  • Solution strategy changes intelligently in response to the student's steps.
  • 700 practice problem forms generating 100,000+ distinct problems.
- - - bonus - - - - Looks like some very nice writing resources. The Online Writing Center from Whatcom Community College

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

[TIPS] - Podcast Free America - and book covers

Thinking of trying your hand at podcasting? Here's another site to check out. Who can podcast? Foreign language teachers - definately. Math teachers - certainly. English teachers - easily. Science teachers - effectively. You - absolutely!!
- - - Bonus - - -
Wanna make some fun book covers for your students? POC!! (Piece Of Cake!) Check this one:

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

[TIPS] - Tabblo and a very cool puppet

Got digital pictures? Upload them to this site, arrange them as easily as dragging and dropping and resizing. Then add your text. Share them - or not. Then print them into posters, magazine, or 4x6 prints. If you're taking pictures of your students this year, keep this one handy. Wouldn't it be fun to turn it into a poster some time in May with little narrations about the things your group has done?
- - - Bonus - - -
This little movie haunts me. It was filmed in New Orleans, I believe. Nothing unusual about a puppet, right? Well, not unless it's 40 feet tall. The music here is maybe what haunts me the most. If anyone knows where it comes from I'd appreciate hearing from you.
Click the Photography link at the top, then the link for the Sultans' Elephant movie. If it's too slow loading for you, let it load in a separate window while you work on other things. You'll have to click the large play button in the middle of the image when it comes up. Enjoy.

Monday, October 02, 2006

[TIPS] - Interactive Periodic Table - and an article

Pass this one along to your science teachers. Looks like a good one. An interactive periodic table.
- - - article - - -
A couple weeks ago I went on about the state of education. I mentioned China and India as being powerful and serious competition, and if you read "The World is Flat" then you've heard it before. Well, this article brings home that point some more.
- - - bonus - - -
And here's an article that just makes you wonder just exactly when the lunatics began running the asylum. 

Friday, September 29, 2006

[TIPS] - Exploring language and Google Reader

This is an excellent series about language. Sometimes it's what is NOT said that says the most. Very interesting.
- - - Bonus - - -
This is Google's version of an RSS aggregator - like I don't know, I tried it, but I still prefer bloglines. See what you think.
- - mailinglist in testing - - -
My mailing list IS ready but we're testing it now to make sure that it works correctly. Next week, for sure!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

[TIPS] - StainedGlass Collage and a correction

Do you have digital pictures? Do you have a Flickr account, maybe? Either way you'll love this fun and easy to use mashup that lets you make collages out of your pictures. Here's the website: Want to see a sample? Well, as luck would have it, I've got one. Can you guess what the images are? :-)
- - - Correction - - -
A correction to yesterday's late tip about the K12 Online Conference. Once again Groupwise messed up the URL for some reason.  Some of you were able to see the mistake and correct it. The correct URL for that online conference is: The conference is free, it's online, and it's purpose is ... well, here:
The "K12 Online Conference" is for teachers, administrators and educators around the world interested in the use of Web 2.0 tools in classrooms and professional practice! This year's conference is scheduled to be held over two weeks, Oct. 23-27 and Oct. 30- Nov. 3 and will include a preconference keynote. The conference theme is "Unleashing the Potential." 
- - - Coming Soon - - -
I thought it was going to be today, but someday soon you'll see a link here that you'll click to generate an email that will subscribe you to the NEW tips list coming from a real mailing list (listserv software). You'll have two options. First, you can subscribe to the email list and get the tips in your email. Or, you can always just subscribe to the tipline blog ( and get the tips in your aggregator.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

[TIPS] - Bonus - K12Online Conference

You can use the following as an annoucement!

Announcing the first annual "K12 Online 2006? convention for teachers, administrators and educators around the world interested in the use of Web 2.0 tools in classrooms and professional practice. This year's conference is scheduled to be held over two weeks, Oct. 23-27 and Oct. 30- Nov. 3 with the theme "Unleashing the Potential." The K12 Online 2006 blog has just gone live.

On the conference blog you will also find the web form we will be using for the submission of proposals. Everyone is encouraged to submit a proposal. More details are on the conference blog: The blog will be updated regularly with everything you need to know about the conference.

Tags: k12online, k12online06

K-12 Online Conference 2006

[TIPS] - article on keeping kids safe online (and a bonus)

You'll have to create an account here to read the entire article, but once you do you can download the pdf file of this article and many more. Very nice, I think. No spam, either.
- - BONUS - -
Still using IE for your web browsing? Here's another article about yet another flaw in IE that could compromise your computer:
Or, get Firefox here: 
- - -
Almost ready to put these tips on a mailing list of their own. Watch for the notice soon.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

[TIPS] - - and eternal sunsets

- - - snip - - - is a search engine for creative commons photos, located in Vancouver, BC. We aim to be a community for designers, developers, photographers and other media publishers who want better, easier access to license-specific media on the web.
- - - -
And here's a bonus for every one of you who enjoys a sunset. This page: has links to cameras around the world that will show you sunset, almost at any time during the day. Not quite, but close. There's also a map at the bottom of the page that shows the areas of the earth in daylight and in darkness. Notice the shape of the two areas? What's coming up soon?
Does that remind you of the clock at nist ( that we talked about last year? How many of you will be doing that with your students again this year? Take a screenshot (Alt-PrintScreen) of that page once a week and post it on your bulletin board. Watch the seasons change as the maps change.
The new mailing list is almost ready. Watch this space for details of how you can subscribe.

Monday, September 25, 2006

[TIPS] - Colleges warning about social networking sites

I'm a big advocate of the use of blogs in education, if you haven't guessed. I think the blog tool can be used for GREAT things in the classrooms. Sadly, however, sites like My Space and Xanga, and Live Journal have given blogs a major black eye. But that's like saying that car accidents are giving automobiles a black eye. The tool is still a good one, but people use it poorly.
Take this article, for example: . Colleges are warning their incoming freshmen about the public nature of blogs. People have been fired for what they say in their blogs. Others have been denied jobs, or, as you'll read, entire sports programs have been suspended due to blog postings.
Let's EDUCATE the kids about blogs. How many of your students do you think would cringe if they thought that their parents were reading their My Space blogs? For that matter, do you know how to find out if YOUR child has a My Space blog? Check this article:
It's nothing to be cavalier about, for sure. It's serious business.
But, the blog tool is STILL a good tool. The ax is a great tool, too - in SPITE of Lizzie Borden. :-)
- - -
Coming soon... a REAL Tips listserv. For several reasons I'm going to be moving this tips list onto a real listserv. When it's ready I'll include a link in this email and all you'll have to do is click the link and send the resulting email message from the address where you wish to receive the tips. Watch for it.

Friday, September 22, 2006

[TIPS] - a wiki example

Want to see an example of a wiki used with a class? This one is for a class that's studying the Scopes Monkey Trial. It appears that the teacher set up the front page and the students are filling in the other pages. What do you think?
Congratulations goes out to the districts in our IU who received the Classrooms For the Future grants.
Big Springs, Camp Hill, Shippensburg, Lower Dauphin, and West Shore. The laptops are coming. Will YOU be ready for them? 

Thursday, September 21, 2006

[TIPS] - Net Family News - kid-tech news for parents

This links to where you can choose to subscribe to a newsletter chuck full of articles dealing with Internet safety. Parents, get this one so you know where the dangers are. It's nothing to be cavalier about, for sure.
Teachers with Moodle classes - you can subscribe to the RSS feed for this newsletter using this link: Just paste it into the Manage My Feeds section in your Moodle class to have those news items brought right into your class.
Oh, teachers... ever heard of ? Can you get to it at school? Check it out. Maybe you'll want to get this one blocked. Here's what the site says about itself:
- - - snip - -
 Studicious is a service created for students, by students.

Our goal is to break down as many barriers as possible towards what should be the objective of all educational institutions: the free flow of information.

Sharing notes is not cheating. Everyone should have every advantage possible in increasing individual knowledge.

[TIPS] - Video Mash-Up

Mashups are when two sites combine their resources to produce a third product. This isn't really a mashup. but it IS clever. The Washington Post has produced a short video of a reporter asking certain questions. The goal of the viewer is to find other clips and edit them into this video to produce a (hopefully) funny result. While they may want you to use real footage, this might be a good project for your class.
(This was the tip I didn't get to send yesterday)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

[TIPS] - Net Family News and Moodle story

This may be a newsletter that you'll want to subscribe to. What is Net Family News? "A nonprofit public service providing a forum and "kid-tech news" for parents and educators in more than 50 countries. The forum is 24/7; news is weekly via email and podcast and daily via blog and RSS feed. " Check it out. If you've got kids at home then this is something you're going to WANT to have.
Here is the RSS feed: I've added it to the front page of Moodle, too.
Oh, and speaking of Moodle, check out this story that was posted in the Moodle forums:
- - -
This is our first year of committed Moodle usage at a high school in Texas. With over 100 faculty and staff and about 1000 students we are averaging over a quarter of a million hits per day. All of the teachers have a Moodle presence.

Last night as I walked out to our home football game, with a custom-made shirt with MOODLE written across it a chant grew in the stands. The chant was "MOO-DLE, MOO-DLE". The student's cross their middle figures to make an "M" during the chant. I am waiting for the next chant to develop "We've got Moodle yes we do, we've got Moodle how 'bout you?". It is exciting to see so many Moodle fans!

Monday, September 18, 2006

[TIPS] - Wanna work a wiki ?

I've set up a wiki page at the wikispaces site that I mentioned last time. I know that many of you just aren't brave enough yet to create one of your own, so here's a chance to work with one.
So far this is open to the public, but if the spammers find it I will have to force users to enroll and then log in to edit.
This will be easy and (hopefully) fun. It'll be basic - unless one of you brave souls wants to try to add an image somewhere, that is. Here's how it works. This is a place to go to share links to your favorite sites. On the front page and in the side navigation area I've got links for Math, Science, etc, etc. Click on the one for your subject area. When you get to your page, click the Edit This Page button just above the text area. Now you can edit that page.
If I've missed it and you don't want to be filed under Misc then please add it. Just type the word and then put double brackets around it, like this: [[Homework Help]]  That will automatically be turned into a link when you save the page.
To link to a site, type the name of the sight, say, "Math Forum" (without the quotes), and then click the Hyperlink icon in the editor toolbar. It's the globe on the left. A dialog box appears. Click the radio button next to External Link, and then paste in your link in that field. Oh, remove the http:// part as it's already  selected for you in that dropdown box. This sounds harder than it is, as it's often more difficult to talk about something than it is to do it, right? You can see my help page here:
The goal here is to give you a non-threatening place to learn to work a wiki. If we get some good links out it all the better. They may turn into Tips one day. :-)
OK. Click the link above and give it a try. The first ten people to make an entry WIN!

Friday, September 15, 2006

[TIPS] - wikispaces and Day 5 - the final installment

I've mentioned this before, but it's worth mentioning again, I think. is a place to go to get your own wiki at no cost. Go ahead, give it a try. Foreign language teachers, start a wiki for your students where they may only speak/write that language. English Literature teachers, start one about the books you're reading. Social studies teachers, start one about the Revolutionary War or the Lewis and Clark expedition, etc. Let the kids add links and descriptions and images. I KNOW you'll be pleased with the results.
Audio files of this series are available here: (They're not in top-down order, so play according to Day titles)
- - - Day 5 - The Final Installment of Nothing Important Happened Today - - -
I’ve re-read the postings from the past few days, and I’m getting that pit in my stomach again. Our kids aren’t hungry! Worse, many of our TEACHERS aren’t hungry, either. What will historians say about this time in our history 50 or 100 years from now? “They were fat and happy, pompous, and complacent. How could they have missed what was happening all around them?” Move over, King George.

According to this article ( ), “This year, online enrollment for U.S. degree-granting schools represents 14 percent of all enrollments, up from less than 6 percent in 2000, a compound annual growth rate of 33 percent, according to research company IDC.” Humph! It goes on to say that 16 million people are seeking degrees online – 16 million and one, to be more precise. I started after MY online degree through Bloomsburg after that article was written. :-) Another article claims, “This fall, 2,700 charter schools are in operation across the nation, serving more than a half-million students.” And, according to this article ( ), “Pennsylvania now has 11 cyber charter schools, with more than 10,000 students enrolled statewide, an increase of nearly 50 percent from last year.”

Why are they leaving us? What are they looking for?

Could it be relevance? Could it be, perhaps, that they want to be able to use the tools that they are growing up with in order to study, gather information, collaborate, publish, and learn? Could it be that they’re finding the public schools to be so far behind the ball when it comes to even KNOWING about those tools that the schools have become irrelevant? David Warlick, in his “2 cents worth” blog, wrote, “Never before has a generation been so well prepared to enter the Industrial age.” *Pause for laughter* *Another pause for reflection and panic*

We’ve GOT to start using the tools that they know and use elsewhere or we WILL become irrelevant. We – the TEACHERS – MUST get hungry. We MUST seek professional development opportunities that will provide us with the skills and tools we need. We MUST take them seriously. I’ve been in too many sessions with teacher/prisoners who were there only because they HAD to be there, but NOTHING was going to make them learn anything. You know what I mean. WE must get hungry and we must make our kids get hungry, too …

… before it’s too late.

I’m offering classes – many of them evening classes – on the new web tools like Moodle, wikis, blogs (don’t panic!), and on the Web 2.0 tools in general. I’ll show you how to use RSS feeds to gather and share information with your students. I’ll show you ways that you can use the web as a publishing platform for your students and how to set up collaboration sites, and where to take notes and much more. I DO hope you’ll sign up for some of them. There is SO VERY much at stake here, and another powerpoint isn’t going to save it.

Thank you for indulging me these past few days. I’ll leave today with this blog/diary entry, “Yes, something VERY important IS happening today and we MUST heed it before it’s too late.”

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

[TIPS] - Drawspace and Day 4

Did you ever want to be able to draw better than you do? This site is for you - and for your favorite art teacher. You must register, but it's free. If you've got a "throw-away" email address use it to register. I haven't been registered long enough to know if I get spam from it. I don't think so, though. Choose from Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced lessons. Very nice.

- - - Nothing Important Happened Today - Day 4 of 5- - -
So far we've got... well, I don't want to think about what we've got so far. Do you? Let's just say that we're not quite as happy as we were three days ago. Let's talk about some cool stuff that's going on. Sorta take our minds off of this race.

Google processes about 7.5 Billion queries per month according to this article: Weeeeeeeee-yoooooooooo! That's a lot of people asking a lot of questions, don't you think? And that's just ONE search engine.

A quiet revolution has been happening online over the past few years. Some call it Web 2.0. Others eschew the label and still others reject it all together. But, what they're talking about is the change in the web from that of a medium to that of a platform. (Huh?) It went from just a place where you went to get information to the place where you go to publish YOUR information. Blogs, for example. According to the blogherald there are over 100 MILLION blogs - and growing. They could be personal journal/blogs, or they could be informational, like the google sightseeing or the gearth blogs. Granted, many kids are using their blogs in very unsafe ways, but they are being published.

Social bookmarking is another phenomenon that is changing the way people gather or find information. Tagging. I save a bookmark to the site (like, or, for example) and I tag it with keywords to help categorize it. Now, anytime that someone goes to that site and looks for sites tagged with any of those keywords they'll see MY bookmark, as well. Plus, I can subscribe to, say, the science tag and then anytime anyone posts something and tags it with the word science I'll find out about it. (Thanks to those who have used the for:jgates513 tag!!) is a great website for sharing pictures. My favorite story of the power of flickr was told by Will Richardson at NECC. His 7 yr old daughter had to write a recipe book about the weather for her teacher. What ingredients go into Summer, Spring, etc. She used her crayons to draw the pictures and write out her ingredients. Her dad then helped her to scan and post her images to flickr. ( Some time later the daughter was admiring her pictures at flickr and noticed that there were about 1100 visitors - people who had seen her pictures. She asked her dad what that it meant and when he told her she paused a while, then said, "I'm going to write a book." That tool so motivated her to think that SHE could put her picture story online and people would read it. How cool is that? Of course, the DOPA act will prevent schools from accessing flickr, but don't worry, the rest of the (hungry) world can - and we're teaching 'em how to make powerpoints. Don't worry about it.

Wikis are web pages that anyone (registered users only) can edit. Wikipedia is the best known, and if you didn't listen to that speech by Jimmy Wales I encourage you to do so. What if you could give YOUR students a web page that either starts off blank or maybe it starts off with a few paragraphs from you in which you set the stage for this unit of study, and you allow the kids to edit it as they see fit? WHAT? Let THEM edit it? Am I CRAZY?

Not at all. I'll BET that if you set up a wiki for your classes, and you commented positively on the growth of the wiki from time to time in your classes, you'd find that the kids would be writing about your content and posting links to great websites and linking to each other's posts and creating this "Web" of information the likes of which you've NEVER seen before. And you'll find those quiet kids who never contribute in class are suddenly making links, too. I can recall one 8th grader who rarely spoke up in Social Studies class, but who was the mischievous computer kid. I KNOW that he would have been the type to make a wiki page about something (on the topic) and he'd show off a bit by making his links a little fancier or he'd find out how to add an image before anyone else, etc. He would start to bloom! Yes, it's possible that someone could get in there and trash someone else's work. But, it's also possible to restore it AND to determine who it was who trashed it so you can change his password for a while so he can't get in. In the meantime, the kids are talking and writing about your content.

All over the world, kids and adults are using technology to share thoughts and ideas, and to collect the thoughts and ideas of others, yet in many schools in America we're not able to do that. We're not able to use the very tools that the (hungry) honor students in China and India and soon to be the kids in the underdeveloped nations are using. What's happening?

Tomorrow I'll share more about some of this very cool stuff, plus examine what's happening to the way kids are getting educated in general. But for today, I'll close with my blog/journal entry, "Yes, it appears that SOMETHING important IS happening today."

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