Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Celestia Motherlode

I wrote about this program a year or more ago. It's a free, 3-d astonomy program. This site says that it's, "The Celestia Motherlode is a repository for various addons like textures, models or celestial objects for Celestia."

Haven't tried it yet? I encourage you to do so.

BTW - I discovered this site form one mf my classmates, Jared K.

Still learning after all these years. :-)

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An update on Bloglines' Image Wall

I must have been one among the many who wrote to Bloglines to ask that they remove the Image Wall as it served no purpose but it DID give cause for some schools to being to consider blocking bloglines because of the potential for inappropriate images.

Well, good news. Check out this news article from Bloglines detailing the changes they've made to it to make it more palatable to educational institutions.

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[TIPS] Couros Blog - Net Neutrality Open Source Documentary

Blogs as professional development. You learn about all sorts of things. Consider the movie of Amanda's story that I sent the other day. Or the one of the 4th grade class using Skype to bring in a homebound child to their classroom. Now this.
I mentioned Network Neutrality back in July, but it's getting to be a serious issue. Watch the video that the Couros blog points to. Note in particular how the movie encourages people to use tagging to help to spread the word. Do YOU know what advantage tagging has to the system?
Watch the video. Contact your representative. Think about what's at stake here. Act NOW!

Monday, February 26, 2007

What Matters

How do you like this assignment for some 9th graders at Arapahoe? (Notice that's a CiteBite link?)

Here's how the teacher describes the assignment:

All semester long, my students have been examining the big question of “What Matters?” What matters to them in their own lives, what matters to them from each piece of literature we studied, and most importantly, how does that all relate to the world around us. At the beginning of the semester, I told my ninth graders I wanted them to create a Photo Story showing the connections of what matters. "

This link (top) takes you to the blog post that contains the links to the assignments. Give them a listen. And if you can, comment. It means SO MUCH to the students to hear that someone is reading/watching/hearing their words.

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[TIPS] Amanda's Story

Thanks to Chris C for sharing this.
Incredible story of Adaptive Tech for Autism

This is .... to say powerful is to understate it, I think. A "low functioning" autistic woman is videoed interacting with her environment, and then she types her explanations (at 120 words per minute)  and ... well... it will surely change the way you perceive Autism.
Read the story and watch this today.

Teacher in Hospital after taking away an iPod

Kim Komando's daily News pointed this one out today...

The teacher had taken an iPod from a student who, along with another student, demanded it back and the attack happened.

Do you use an ipod or similar device? I suppose you listen to your music on it. And I know that many of you download podcasts and get some personal enjoyment or professional development from them. Now, we don't know the details of this incident so we have to be careful judging the situation. Did the student refuse to put it away when asked? Did the teacher threaten to keep it? We don't know. But what we DO know is that schools are going to HAVE to find a better way of dealing with the issue of ipods. Telling the students not to bring them to school can't be the answer.

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[TIPS] Several Tips

Those of you who receive these tips via the mailing list are at a disadvantage from those who get them via RSS. Why? Because I've been very busy posting lots of cool sites and tips using a Firefox add-on called "Performancing." It allows you to write up a description of the web page you're viewing and post it to you blog all in one step. But, I can't send it to this mailing list that way. As a result, lots of tips have made it to the blog site that haven't made it here.
So, today's tip is to visit my blog site and check out what you've been missing:
Here are some of them:
Some great links about student blogging, a post about a student who wrote his assigned speech on being bored in class and had it censured, a pointer to another EXCELLENT video at the TED site, a lawsuit against a law firm from where a WIkipedia article originated, another flickr mashup that's VERY cool, and more.

A wiki about student blogging

Vicki Davis, the CoolCatTeacher, pointed me to this wiki: which has some excellent links about student blogging. But it also has her Elluminate session which is excellent! If you're having your student blogging or considering it, give this a listen.

While you're there, check out Vicki's page: Watch her video about her Flat World Project wiki, and check out her Slideshare presentation. THIS is how rich your web page can be!!

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

What if a student said he was bored?

Again, this is why I read blogs. I learn so much from them, and I LOVE being involved - even if only as a lurker - in the conversation about education.

In this post by Vicki Davis,, she tells of reading another person's blog and hearing about the story of a 6th grade student at St. Sebastian Elementary School who was censured by his school Principal for writing a speech in which he said,

"”My message is to you,” he (the student) writes in his speech, “let nobody steal your joy by keeping you bored. Find a way out. To be happy is your purpose in life.”

She points out that this student wrote the speech as an assignment - which he did. He, in fact, WON last year's speech contest, but this year the principal felt his speech showed disrespect for his teacher and so she disallowed it.

Are you reading my blog? I invite you to post a comment on this situation. First, read Cool Cat's blog post, as she also points to the PA Teacher's Association's blogging guidelines.

So how do YOU feel about this situation? I keep saying that we're risking becoming irrelevant to our students. Do you think this youngster just gained or lost respect for his school? Did this draw him in closer or push him further away?

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Another excellent video at Ted

Set aside 23 minutes to watch this video. It's no wonder this conference now costs $6000!! What a great video this is. Here's what the site says about this performance:

"Actor Anna Deavere-Smith brings the TED audience to their feet as she brings to life a series of quintessential Americans. The chameleon-like Deveare-Smith transforms herself in and out of character, as she embodies legendary author Studs Terkel, followed by convict Paulette Jenkins, a Korean merchant in Los Angeles after the '92 Riots, and finally a rodeo bull rider. The monologues - adapted verbatim from tape recordings - are drawn from interviews she conducted for "On the Road: A Search for American Character." Each is a response to a probing question, such as, "What is a defining moment in history?" (Recorded February 2005 in Monterey, CA Duration: 23:50)"

Let me know what you think of it.

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Jimmy Wales discusses Wikipedia in schools

The Savvy Technologist (by Tim Wilson) is a blog I read daily. He always something that I find interesting in there. Take this article, for example. He points to another site: net@nite (which I hadn't heard of until now) where you can hear an audio of an interview with Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia. I think it's very interesting how the man himself responds to questions regarding the trustworthiness of Wikipedia articles.

This quote, for example:

"I think it basically should be fine in schools, it should be
acceptable, to add a footnote saying I did a lot of my preliminary
research in Wikipedia just to acknowledge where you got a lot of

Give it a listen

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[TIPS] - Good news about Wikipedia

After hearing about someone suing that law firm about a wikipedia article I felt sure that schools would be locking kids out of there left and right. But this article,, points to some better news. I like the discussion about our learning networks, too.

Check out this article. Does it change your thoughts on Wikipedia? And, who is in YOUR learning network?

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

[TIPS] - Citizendium to launch

Thanks to Michael P for alerting me to this one. Here's what it says about itself:

"The Citizendium (sit-ih-ZEN-dee-um), ( a "citizens' compendium of everything," is an experimental new wiki project. The project, started by a founder of Wikipedia, aims to improve on the Wikipedia model by adding "gentle expert oversight" and requiring contributors to use their real names. It has taken on a life of its own and will, perhaps, become the flagship of a new set of responsibly-managed free knowledge projects. We will avoid calling it an "encyclopedia" until the project's editors feel comfortable putting their reputations behind this description."

This should be interesting to watch as it evolves over the next year or two or three. This article in eschool News tells more about it and the plans in store for it.

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[TIPS] - Barefoot College
I watch Rocketboom daily. Many times it's just interesting. Other times it's fun and creative. Other times, like today, it's informative. Today's report is about the Barefoot College in India where they teach middle aged women in six months, how to solar-electrify their homes. That may not sound like much, but when you see the short video and then visit their website ( you will understand how HUGE this really is. Villages that were once dark are now lit up after dark.

At first it may be just a luxury for them. But soon... can you imagine? They too can be watching reality shows and ... no, of course I'm not thinking that. I'm thinking that very soon they, too, will enter the race.

Show this video to your students and ask them to write in their journals or blogs about what this means. Will they see it impacting THEM at any time in their lives? SHOULD they?

[TIPS] stock.xchng - the leading free stock photography site

Here's a great website for obtaining images for your powerpoints, wallpaper, etc. Images are uploaded my members of the site and most licenses are the Standard License which says:
You may use the Image
  • In digital format on websites, multimedia presentations, broadcast film and video, cell phones.
  • In printed promotional materials, magazines, newspapers, books, brochures, flyers, CD/DVD covers, etc.
  • Along with your corporate identity on business cards, letterhead, etc.
  • To decorate your home, your office or any public place.
Join for free. Upload your own images that you want to share with others.

Law firm sued for wikipedia article

This is hard to imagine. Someone in a law firm wrote an article about golfer Fuzzy Zoeller. Fuzzy didn't like the article. He can't sue Wikipedia, so he's going to sue the law firm that owned the computer where the posting originated. Here's the news article: I won't link to the wikipedia article because ... oh my... how absurd can this get?

But we'd better take note of how this ends up. You KNOW that if Fuzzy wins then schools across this nation will be blocking wikipedia - exactly the opposite of what SHOULD happen.

Thanks to Steve V for sharing this with me.

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[TIPS] - Fighting the Front

SecondLife is an amazing place. Now with almost 4 MILLION residents and over $1 MILLION of real US currency spent per DAY it's a force to be reckoned with. But, when you get 4 million people together in one place there will be folks there whom you wish were NOT there. Such is the case with Front National - a far right political party from France. What a shame that they would take their marches to Secondlife. But what a greater shame that it would cause all the violence in there that it did.

Read the article below to learn about the violence that erupted in SecondLife over a demonstration there by Front National.

Reminds me of the saying, "NO matter whose side you're on there will people on your side whom you wish weren't." :-)

But good things happen in there, as well. Take, for example. Moodle with hooks into Second life.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Now THIS is cool!

You would almost have to be living in a cave not to have seen Karl Fisch's "Did You Know" powerpoint - or some version thereof, right? Well, check out this post from Karl in which he says that one of his own teachers sent it to him, not knowing that he had made it. But the best part is, it was sent to that teacher by the teacher's 6th grade daughter!!

"Now, I'm probably reading too much into this, but to me it's somehow apropos that a sixth grader is informing the adults around her about this presentation."

Indeed it is.

Now ask yourself how her daughter found it? Perhaps another 6th grade girl saw it and sent it to her. Maybe she saw a link to it in another blog somewhere. No matter how she was made aware of it, she had the presence of mind to share this with her teacher mother and who knows HOW MANY others. What's HER perspective of the world, now? Do you think SHE, at least, knows that 'The race is on!"?

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[TIPS] - photo mashups
I love mashups - especially those that mash with Flickr. This page mentions two, a Sudoku puzzle with numbers coming from flickr, and "Spell with Flickr", a mashup I've used a couple of times already. But the article also points to this list: of 200 photo mashups, some of which I've already mentioned in other tips, and othes (most) that are new.

What's cool about this stuff? Well, check THIS one out: Use the tag: cabin and user jgates513, if you don't know of others to try. Once you choose the type of presentation you can send someone the url, or even get the html code to use that project on your own site. What fun this Internet has become, eh? Wanna see it in action? Come to my blog page and click the link in the top left corner called My Flickr Pics. Cool stuff for your website.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The virtual photographer

Another site from Kim Komando's mailing list. This one is another good one!

Here's what it says about itself:
" Download the free Photoshop plug-in that's getting rave reviews from digital photographers. virtualPhotographer lets you instantly apply high quality, professional photographic styles to your digital images, with just one click.virtualPhotographer includes over 50 presets that automatically apply combinations of film grain, color modification, B/W, soft focus, high contrast and many artistic effects to achieve the same professional-looking images that used to take hours of photo editing. Get results in seconds!

Compatible with Photoshop®, Photoshop® Elements, Paint Shop™ Pro®, Photo-Paint and other popular imaging applications."

Note: I'll bet it'll work with Gimp, too, don't you think?

High Profile Report Calls for New NCLB
Holy mackerel! Check this out. A proposed change to the NCLB law would make this change from just, "Highly qualified" teachers, to "highly qualified and effective" teachers! And, I just read recently where Governor Rendell would like to put the jobs of Superintendents and Principals at risk if their schools don't meet the NCLB standards. The reporter asked the question, "Who is going to want to take on the tough jobs as education leaders in our poorest districts?" Indeed! Now add to that, "What TEACHER would want to take on the challenging job of teaching in our poorest districts?"


The NEA is opposing this change, and it has come under a lot of bipartisan heat. So, it's not a done deal. Still...

Thanks to John B for sharing this article via another listserv.

Monday, February 19, 2007

[TIPS] - A fun video

I don't know why I can no longer send these posts via my listserv, but it's very frustrating. I'm having to post these things twice. Anyway, here's the one that didn't make it to the blog.
Thanks to Kristen H again for sharing this. You probably won't be able to see this from school, but if you have high speed internet at home you REALLY should check out this short video that reminds us that even books were a new technology at one point.
I LOVE the ending to this video:
Kristen has also set up a wiki called the ConnectClassroom wiki that she used when she gave her presentation at PETE&C last week. Check it out, too.

[TIPS] Yugma - free webconferencing

Does anyone know anything about this site? It looks great! Free web-conferencing for windoze or Mac. It says:
"A free and easy to use web conferencing service:
  • Share your information, present your ideas
  • Invite up to 10 people (or more if you need)
  • Collaborate with your community
  • Works with both Windows and Mac
  • Highly secure and reliable
  • No Spyware, Adware, Malware "
The ONLY thing that has me questioning it is that I heard about it from a comment left on my post about But, according to the privacy statement here it looks legit.
Check out the demo video to see how easy it is to use. I know *I* will try it with some folks from my Grad class.

[TIPS] census data mashup

A mashup occurs when someone writes a website that uses data from another website. Google maps and Flickr are the top two sites most often used in mashups. This one uses Yahoo! maps.
The above link is to a mashup that will plot census data based on a zipcode. It displays population and Housing demographics under the tabs found above the graph on the left. (You'll see. It's easy.) Now, combine that site with this one: (You'll have to bookmark it because you'll never remember the IP address.) This site not only shows the census data for your zipcode, but also the data from areas within a 1, 3, and 5 mile radius.
Together, those two sites may be just what the Sociology teacher is looking for.

[TIPS] The NSTA Learning Center

This is a free site for teachers. It's designed to help teachers, especially the elementary teachers, to become more learned in the area of science. Here is what it says about itself:

Welcome to The NSTA Learning Center Beta Release

You want to grow your understanding of the content and pedagogy of the subjects you teach. NSTA is proud to make available the Beta release of this electronic professional development (PD) website. Within this site you'll be able to gain access to over 1,200 different types of PD resources and opportunities, such as:

  • Over 980 NSTA Journal Articles (with over 270 articles FREE of charge), many containing high quality lesson plans
  • Over 30 FREE Science Objects (1-2 hour interactive simulation-based learning experiences)
  • Over 100 e-chapters from selected books and series (over 45 chapters FREE of charge)
  • FREE weekly live Web Seminars where you can interact with experts from NASA, NOAA, FDA and the NSDL Community.
DId you catch that last one? FREE weekly webinars (web seminars) that deal with a variety of topics.
" NSTA Web Seminars are 90-minute, live professional development experiences that use online learning technologies to allow participants to interact with nationally acclaimed experts, NSTA Press authors, and scientists, engineers, and education specialists from NSTA government partners such as NASA, NOAA, FDA, and the NSDL."
" Educators use online tools that allow them to mark-up and annotate presenter's slides or share desktop applications in addition to engaging in chat with others online and answering quizzes and poll questions. Seminars may be archived and available for viewing after the live event has occurred."
Here is a list of upcoming webinars:
This is free professional development!!
Thanks to Mary B for sharing this one.

Friday, February 16, 2007

[TIPS] - Watch this great little video - web 2.0 explained

I've had this one ready to send out for a while, but just never did. This excellent video does a great job explaining how the web has changed. Also in why you need to know about it.

Vyew v.2

Some time ago I sent out a tip about But that was the old version. At PETE&C, Kristin H showed Vyew to her audience and - wow! Has it ever changed!

What is it? A FREE, virtual meeting room, a collaborative meeting room, with some great whiteboard tools and no downloads required. But now, it has voice capabilites, too. Check out this demo video: or just go to to register for a free account. Doing some graduate coursework with a group of students from around the area/ Use it to meet and discuss.

Very nice, indeed. There is a free version and paid versions with more options.

Here's what the site says about itself:
"Vyew provides a virtual space to share information and work together. Get your point across visually. Host live conferences and interact in real-time. Post documents and presentations for review and commenting anytime."

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

[TIPS] Google Mail is now open

Until today you used to need an invitation to open a Gmail account. Well, in today's Komando news newsletter she reports that it's now open for anyone to create an account.

So why would you want another email account? Well, for one thing you can use it when you need to supply an email address to a website and you don't want to give them your work address or your primary home address. For another thing, you can access it from the web. FOr another thing if
you use it for everything you will never have to change it should you ever change providers.

Get 'em while they're hot.

a PETE&C resources wiki

Thanks to Kristin for pointing this out. Kristin is the one who pulled off that skype connection with CoolCatTeacher at PETE&C.

Bridget Belardi (2005 KEYSTONE) created a wiki for PETE & C --

Go to her wiki

It's intended for presenters who didn't get to present on Tuesday to list their resources, or for those who saw a session to comment on it. A good idea, yes?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

[TIPS] nitschenotes PETE&C

Here's another wiki from one of the presenters at PETE&C. This one is about Virtual Field trips. Lots of good links.
These conferences.. such good stuff.

[TIPS] theconnectedclassroom » home

I'm sitting here in a presentation by Kristin Hokansen that she called "The Connected Classroom." She started off by showing the video on this page. Check it out. Got You Tube? It's called, "the Connected Classroom."
What fun it is to watch a teacher who is actively using these cool tools. Check out her wiki - and contribute! Join her network. 

[TIPS] Greetings from PETE&C

The connectivity at the hotel has been spotty but the connections among the people have been great. Lots of excellent presentations from some very excited and talented people.
I want to share one story that I think sums up the conference (as people are currently fleeing ahead of the expected  weather). Some background, first. I taught a full day session on Sunday about Web 2.0 tools to a group of 15 people. Those are fun to  do. When folks haven't seen those kinds of tools before then anything they see is exciting. *I* might know how much I couldn't show them, but they didn't mind. THen I did two presentations on Monday, both well attended. One on  web 2.0 and another on Moodle as a student centered tool.
But last night when I arrived late for the dinner I was standing at the buffet table when a young woman from my Sunday session came over to me and with a smile from ear to ear said, "Jim, I just wanted to tell you how excited I am - I finally 'get it'. This blog and wikis and web 2.0 stuff... I finally get it, and I can't wait to get back to my school to try it out with my students." The "ah-ha!" moment. I was very happy to not only hear that bit of news but SO happy that she had made the effort to share it with me. I wondered later how many others experienced that same "ah-ha!" moment and had their teaching change forever as a result.
Such GREAT things come from these conferences. Sea-changing experiences. I DO hope that YOU will try to attend one next year. Maybe even NECC in June. It may just be YOUR "ah-ha!" moment.

Saturday, February 10, 2007


This post discussed a new proposed NETS item for students. Wow! What a dramatic departure from the previous number one standard of just being familiar with technology.
But, What should the NETS for TEACHERS look like? I'm proposing that we collaborate and write it out on this wiki:
Add a brief summary of your proposed standard on the front page and then detail it on the resulting pages.
Can't wait to see what this ends up looking like.

Friday, February 09, 2007

[TIPS] You heard the story, now see the video

I'm sure many teachers have read this inspirational story before. But,
as Vicki Davis points out in this blog post, this is one that every
teacher should see.

Geez... I wish had SO many things to do over again.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

[TIPS] The new NETS standards?

Again, THIS is why I read blogs. It's my personal professional development. Anne Davis is one of the most respected bloggers out there, and her blog, "EduBlog Insights" is on my blogroll. This post of hers today points to two articles that talk about the NEW NETS standards for Technology for new teachers. Her blog post is here:

Think about it, the first NETS standards came out in 1998. Not so long ago in terms of years, but a light year away from current technology and today's Flat World. Right? Do yourself a favor and read the two articles she points to. Pass them along to every wanna-be teacher you know, too.

[TIPS] sloodle gets deeper hooks into SecondLife

I know I've mentioned this before, but you should check out the video that's there on the front page, now. It describes how you can write a blog entry for your moodle/sloodle class right from within SecondLife. A few things to notice. 1) He says that this is just one of the many upcoming modules linking SL and moodle. 2) These links pass the user both ways, from SL to Moodle and from Moodle to SL – and to the exact location in SL where the user was when the blog was posted. 3) The guy is using Firefox- NOT IE. :-)

Oh to be young again and able to see some of this stuff reach its maturity – instead of watching ME reach my maturity. :-(

[TIPS] What's the story?

I neglected to mention that the guy who draws the daily monster always ends with, "What's the Story?" He's inviting people to write in with a story about the monster he just drew. How clever is that?

[TIPS] Stefan G. Bucher's DAILY MONSTER

This one is for your favorite art teacher who teaches cartooning. I was pointed here by Joanne over at rocketboom. She heard about it from one of her viewers.
The guy draws a monster each day. At the end it turns into an animation. Amazing to watch. Very clever stuff. Share this with your favorite art teacher(s). Barb? Clay? Here y' go.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

[TIPS] Barbican - Can I Have A Word?

This one came to my attention via the Education World Reviews Newsletter ( that I receive periodically. Sign up at their site.
But this "Can I Have A Word" site is difficult to explain. It's for elementary student's I'd say, although they say middle and high school. I guess I'm a sucker for these unique sites that take poems or unique animations to inspire students to write, gather and share definitions and thoughts.
I can't describe it. I can only say that it's worth a look for those language arts teachers looking for another way to inspire your students to write.

[TIPS] How complex is your password

Kim Komando's Daily News newsletter pointed to this article that says that weak passwords help hackers. These hackers use dictionary scripts that run through words in the dictionary to hack into your computer.
Does YOUR password have at least one number in it? How about a special character like an exclamation point? If it doesn't, it's time to change it so that it DOES! Listen to this quote from the article:
     "Left online for 24 days to see how hackers would attack them, four Linux computers with weak passwords were hit by some 270,000 intrusion attempts -- about one attempt every 39 seconds,"
Hmmm... how long before it would correctly guess "buster" as your password and take it over? :-) Change your password. Git 'er done!
Oh... and uh... it's about that firewall I've been telling you about for six years, now. You DO have one of those installed, right?

How fast IS it?

OK... I'll play along THIS time, but I just can't pass it forward. Sorry, Kurt.

Kurt read about this very cool tool that tests your Internet speed. He read about it in Chris Craft's blog here. I read that one, too, but I hadda read Kurt's first, y' know. NOW look what I got myself into.

But, it's interesting. I'm at home on a wireless cable connection. It's 4:00PM. Here is my result. Not bad. Er... can you see it? Sure.. just click on it for the enlarged version. Not bad speeds, at all. Check your speed here:

[TIPS] School 2.0 - Join the Conversation

Thanks to Chris C for sharing this with me via the for:jgates513 tag in
Get this 8.5x11" pdf map- sorta- of web 2.0 schools. Hard to explain, but if you're a geek or trainer in the schools, check it out.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

[TIPS] A must-see video about Skype in the classroom

Among my favorite blogs is this one, Couros Blog. I've even pointed to a post there before, remember? But this is one that you MUST see. It's about a 4th grade class using Skype to allow a young homebound girl with leukemia to attend school, too. Watch this video produced by the students. It'll warm the soft spots of your heart at the very least.

Oh, and take note of the comments form the last little girl in the video.

Monday, February 05, 2007

[TIPS] Opera fans should love this

I had sent this out before but I noticed that it never made my blog. Here it is :
I just sent a tip re: splashcast. After I sent it I was checking out some of the sample casts created by users of the system and I was fortunate enough to see the one by Ken Beare entitled On The Opera. If you enjoy opera, watch his entire splashcast. But, for a real treat, skip ahead to #13, and hear Mario Delmonico sing "Vesti la Giubba" from the Verdi opera. When he finished I wanted to leap to my feat and applaud - just as his audience HAD to have done. See and listen for yourself. Does it bring a tear to YOUR eye, too?
Then, listen to track 15 as Victoria de los Angeles sing the famous aria from Madame Butterfly - tu tu piccolo. Another moment that is sure to stay with you.

[TIPS] - When technology isn't the answer

I had the opportunity today to sit in on a statistics class at a local high school. This was a class of about 22 juniors and seniors. The class was focused and attentive and engaged as the teacher reviewed for the upcoming test. He was diagraming on the board quickly and jotting down bits and pieces of information that the students supplied as they tried to solve various problems. He would listen patiently as the students would talk their way through solutions and he asked probing questions to get their responses to harder questions. "I don't understand. You tell ME.", he'd say. It was an excellent lesson from bell to bell, and I got the sense that the students would have stayed another 43 minutes had they had that option. They had calculators in one hand and pencils in the other - and EVERY student had a pencil!! Holy cow!
This teacher is slated to get a room full of laptops computers one day soon, and I wondered to myself if the computers would end up getting in the way of lessons like that. Would too much time be spent trying to teach students how to work an applet that would do just what he had done? Would too much time be wasted dealing with computers that for one reason or another not load the page? Would the student's attention be so divided in a lesson like this that they'd lose more than they would gain?
I guess I was worried that this teacher might end up trying to force fit the computer into lessons. It's an art, I think, to know when to call upon the computer and when not to. I hope that this teacher and others like him will know that it's OK to keep the laptops in the cart. In math, especially, I hope that they don't lose site of the fact that math is learned through practice,and that means pencil to paper. A computer can certainly help students to visualize things but it can't replace concentration and good old fashioned WORK.

[TIPS] - Computer Teach Thyself video ( )
Check out this VERY cool video that does an excellent job in walking you through the importance of the Read/Write web. VERY well done.
Some of the students in my grad classes have said that they don't read blogs. They don't feel that they are anything more than just one person's opinion on something, and therefore not worth the trouble.
I argue that it's from blogs that I am staying/becoming educated. It's from the links that others provide and from their ideas that keep me fresh. The above link is a perfect example. This was mentioned in a post
by Will Richardson here ( e-machine-is-using-us/ ). That took me to the link at the top of this post. From her blogroll I found another blog with something of interest. And it goes on and on.
The right blogs bring you into the conversation. The conversation about your profession. It's your personal professional development.

[TIPS] - Wow! Check out Zoho's notebook
Want to see some exciting developments in the area of online productivity (aka "office") software? Check this out. Zoho is doing some amazing things. Make sure you watch the video. VERY cool stuff.
This isn't new, but it is a different way of thinking about it. "The half life for technology today is just two years." We saw that before in Karl Fisch's "Did you Know ( )" slideshow, right? But it warrants the repeat. That makes technology a touch sell for some people, doesn't it? Why should they invest all this time to learn something that may be obsolete in two years anyway?
"What's the alternative?", I wo uld argue. Hang your upper limit of your tech skills on ..  Hyperstudio? (Don't be silly, you say. That's been out of date for years.) No? Powerpoint, then? (Well, at least that won't go away for a while, you say. "You're right. It's like a bad penny - you can't get rid of it.") Frontpage?... no... Dreamweaver!! YES!!! Do you mean to say that you're going to make your teachers learn Dreamweaver to make their webpages instead of showing them a wiki?
The point is, as you learn about new tools in technology, don't think it's the last one you'll need to know. In two years (or less) a new tool will come out that will be even better. And THOSE are the tools that your students are growing up with. You keep up because that's what makes you most effective and relevant. Right?

Friday, February 02, 2007

[TIPS] Infinite Thinking Machine

A very good article about copyright and Creative Commons. I think this is something that every teacher should know about. And when *I* get to write the laws I'm going to make it a mandatory topic for teacher training in college, too. (That'll be right after I make a law against those l-o-u-d mufflers on motorcycles and cars, of course.) :-)

[TIPS] AndreaMosaic Home Page

Thanks to Misty T-S for sharing this one with us. Photo Mosaics are fun. This is another one that allows you to create VERY cool photo mosaics. Looking for others? Check out this site that compares them:
And, on sites like these it's always a good idea to snoop around in their forums because people post the most amazing links. Like this one: Amazing!

[TIPS] Picnik Time!!

Thanks to Ann F for sharing this one.
Here's what the site says about itself:
"Online photo editing made fun
With Picnik you can quickly edit all your online photos from one place. It's the easiest way on the Web to fix underexposed photos, remove red-eye, or apply effects to your photos.
It's fast, easy, and fun."
Works on Mac, Linux and uh.. .that other OS. (Not sure about IE 7, but you'll have to check it.)

[TIPS] 100% Proficiency on Old Skills? - Slideshare

Thanks to Kurt P for sharing this with me via the for:jgates513 tag.
Slideshare is a site that allows you to upload your Powerpoint and have it displayed along with the Transcript - the text of the slides. Display it on the page or in full screen mode. Never have to put your powerpoint on a jumpdrive again. Just connect to it online.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

[TIPS] A Low Impact Woodland Home

When you look at the house on this page, if you don't think "Bilbo Baggins lives there" then... you at least have to think, "HOBBITS!" Check out this in-ground house. I wonder what it's really like to live there.
- - - And now for the REAL tip - - -
Looking for the BEST Web 2.0 sites in various categories? (And who isn't?) :-) Check out THIS site: