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.