Saturday, June 30, 2007

Voice Thread in Action

Thanks to Joyce Valenza for setting this up after the edubloggercon in Atlanta. What a great idea - and a great website.

What I think is especially interesting about this application are the comments from the fourth person down the left side of that image. He was following the conference from Sydney Australia and he found this and left a comment. Let that idea roll around in your head a moment. Someone from around the world following the conference and being able to participate in it to some extent. I'm sure he was reading blog posts that had been tagged with necc2007 or necc07 or even the specific tags for some sessions he was interested in. We even had people sitting in the edubloggercon sessions who were skyping with others from... who-knows-where... and those folks were able to hear the conversations, too. Those folks could have been around the world, as well. Does that make you shake your head in wonder?

There are many teachers who would have NO IDEA that these sort of capabilities exist. For them the web is still a web page that you find when searching Google. Let's make sure that we help them to see what the web has become and help them to understand what it can now do for their classes.

Google Docs - Now has FOLDERS!

Am I the last one to notice the new features in Google Docs? If so, then for those who only read my little blog, here are some of the new features in Google Docs.

First - FOLDERS!! I always mention the inability to save files into folders as being a weakness of Google Docs when I show it and ThinkFree together. Now you CAN create folders and save files into them. Excellent!

Then, they've made the invitation to collaborate a lot easier. That, too, was long due. It's very nice, now.

And, they've added keyboard shortcuts! Many of the keyboard shortcuts that work in that Microsoft program now work in here, as well. Wonderful!

Check out the list of the spreadsheet enhancements, and read more about these new features here:


Friday, June 29, 2007

[TIPS] informationfluency presentation at NECC

I just have a moment to send this tip. I attended a workshop at NECC that was given by two fellow Pennsylvanians, Joyce Valenza and Ken Rodoff. It was terrific. SO many good ideas to share. Joyce and Ken presented from the above listed wiki, and you would do well to spend some time there. It’s got more good links than a 10 foot gold chain. You can even download their presentation.

Joyce is a librarian, with wonderful resources for both librarians and teachers. She’s steadfast in her insistence that the librarian’s job is even more important today than it was before the web, and her resources show it.

Ken is an English teacher and coach, and he shared some excellent ideas that he used with his English classes.

So, take your wireless-connected laptop out onto the back porch this evening and spend some time browsing and bookmarking their resources for next year. You’ll be glad you did.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Constructivist Teaching with Technology

Karl Fisch, Anne Smith, Brian Hatack, Brad Meyer, Barbara Stalhut

The session started with a powerpoint of quotes form students and teachers. Very good. The one I especially liked from a student was something like this, "I like being graded on what I've learned instead of just for showing up for class. It's awful to get graded for just memorizing the seating chart." :-)
- You MUST take a look at the resources and samples they've got in here!

Heart of the change in his school is staff development. They meet for three hours regularly. One third is on learning theory. One third on pedagogy. They also use blogs for teachers to use to discuss issues. A final third on tools like, blogger, etc. VERY successful professional development program.

First change - change the way the class looks. They want to create a professinal learning environment. Change from deaks to tables and chairs on wheels. Changed the posters from fun to inspirational. And, they posted classroom expectations.

The first thing they noticed was engagement - especially in the faculty rooms! They had 6 purposes in blogging, 1) thefischbowl, 2) in depth discussion about government topics, etc. 3) discussions amog kids - and other kids blogging on the outside. And, of course, I can't keep up. :-(

Start with a core group of teachers. Those who areinvolved are talking at lunch time and those who are NOT involved hear the positive discussion and WANT to join. Teachers need to TALK about this process. Kids are saying (in effect), "I don't want to be in so-and-so's classroom since they don't use the technologies." So, the teachers who aren't using it are being pressured to get started.

Also, the kids see the teachers as learners, as well. Important vision for students.

Collaboration -

"Being a reflective teacher is a very important part of the process." Brian has noticed that kids are doing an amazing job of being reflective on their own positions and writings.

The kids wrote the first four chapters of an astronomy book on a wiki!

Online peer editing - reviewing toolbar in word. Using a wiki. Editing each other's work. Chifting chairs - musical shifting seats - then sit down at a computer and edit.

What matters. "Build a multimendia presentation about what matters about what you've learned this year." WOW!!! LOVE this idea!!!

Check out the Mockumentaries on the top link.

Scribe posts - great idea!

What a (seemingly) wonderful atmosphere they have. Staff development was very well received - even those who didn't participate talk about it.

Some discussion about differentce between cooperative learning vs collaboration. Not sure I yet understand the difference.

A quote I like. The tech committee said that they weren't going to give Arapahoe any more equipment since they've got so much already. Anne's reply, "Oh really? You're going to put the ceiling above the spotlights? Why not give us more to see where we can go with it?" Liked that mental image - ceiling above the spotlight.

Very nice discussions! I LOVE this conference!!


New Ted Talks video

This looks like a VERY interesting one for those of us who love data and are fascinated by trends, etc. Here, Hans Rosling talks about the end of poverty. I LOVE the written teaser for the movei:

"...He shows us the next generation of his Trendalyzer software -- which analyzes and displays data in amazingly accessible ways, allowing people to see patterns previously hidden behind mountains of stats. (Ten days later, he announced a deal with Google to acquire the software.) He also demos Dollar Street, a program that lets you peer in the windows of typical families worldwide living at different income levels. Be sure to watch straight through to the (literally) jaw-dropping finale."

I just clicked the link to download it to my iTunes to watch later. LUV this Mac!!

Monday, June 25, 2007

seemless integration of laptops

My mental notes from this session...

Howard Levine is Director of Technology (1999) at the Urban School of San Francisco.

His talk is about how how to make computers/laptops into schools. The first thing he said is that they are on block schedules. Having taught in a block schedule I would agree that the block schedule is THE WAY to go. That's another topic.

Used to say that the computer was just like pen and paper. Now he realizes that it isn't - at ALL. We'd agree, wouldn't we?

It's not about learning tech skills. It's about learning! It's about keeping organized, having communication, collecting and sharing information, and production. The production idea is a good one in that it's perfect for kids who can't write or speak well. Give them another means of presenting the information.


"chaos of the search vs search within chaos"

Not accurate to say that my school "can't afford it." What is the cost of each textbook?

change from "tech literacy" vs "life literacy"

Rent "Born into Brothels" - what happens when you give the tools to express themselves?

"Since I got my laptop I am..." (asking about organization)
about 50-50 on being more organized

Inspiration took off when the kids had their own machines. Kids loved it for organizing data for assignments.

His school doesn't lock down the machines at all!!!

Read that again - his school doesn't lock down the machines at all.

They use Macs. Machines get reimaged if they install something that messes up something else. Kids may install anything on their machines as long as it's legal and appropriate. (I LOVE IT!!)

ISpotMotion - for creating claymation

I would have REALLY liked more time for the examples at the end. Maybe too much time at the beginning. EXCELLENT examples. I want MORE!!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Are you in my 'Learning Community?'

I'm sitting here in a session at the Edubloggercon here in Atlanta with a couple dozen bloggers from around the nation - and Stwo from Canada. The gist of this conversation is the definition of a learning community. I was disappointed to hear that the consensus of this group is that you are NOT a part of a learning community unless you SAY something. You cannot, in their opinion, "lurk and learn."

So I'm now off to go and comment and a the blogs that I read just so I can say I'm part of their community.

Have you commented on mine, yet?

Friday, June 22, 2007

[TIPS] this will solve calculus problems for you!

Thanks to Kevin C for sharing this via the for:jgates513 tag on
This will allow you to enter..'s what it says about itself:
"The heart of The Integrator is Mathematica's built-in Integrate function--the same one you use when accessing Mathematica directly. When you type in an integral, The Integrator uses webMathematica to send the integral to the Mathematica kernel, which computes the result using the Integrate function. The result is then embedded into the web page as typeset output."
Send this one to your favorite Calc teacher!

[TIPS] My new NECC07 netvibes page

I updated my netvibes page and it wasn't showing all the new feeds on it, so I've updated it again and republished.
Follow the conference through the eyes of those bloggers. Oh, I'll be posting too, so you can follow MY blog, as well.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

[TIPS] TED | Talks | Stephen Lawler: Look! Up in the sky! It's Virtual Earth! (video)

Recorded in March 2007, Stephen Lawler takes us on a short tour of Virtual Earth. This one is the Microsoft version, but it’s very interesting. J As you watch it, pay attention to his conversation about how we access and organize all this data. Does it remind you a bit of this:

I also found it interesting that Microsoft was the first ones allowed in the New Orleans area after Katrina for the purpose of documenting the damage. Interesting.

While you’re there, check out Jeff Hawkins’ talk entitled, “Brain Science is about to fundamentally change computing.” “Bringing this new brain science to computer devices will enable powerful new applications -- and it will happen sooner than you think.”

[TIPS] credit where credit is due - and following NECC from afar

Earlier I had posted a link to a video in the Apple Learning Interchange Conference Connection. The problem was that I didn’t credit the person who first told ME. Why not? When I read about it in my aggregator it was no longer marked as unread and I forgot where I had found it. But, thanks to another blog post that DID credit it, I can tell you that it was here:

I read this blog every time something new appears, and I wanted to make sure I gave the proper credit.

For those of you who aren’t fortunate enough to be going to NECC this year, try putting the tag NECC2007 in and in flickr and subscribing. You can read along as the bloggers write about the sessions they’re in. I’m anxious to watch the sites flood the screen.

Here’s my Netvibes public page:

I’ll be adding to it, but this is the start. I hope my additions appear automatically.

[TIPS] Promoting 21st Century skills

This is recorded podcast (sorta) of Ken Kay, president of Partnership for 21st Century Skills, as he gives a talk at this past year’s FETC. The topic is 21st Century Skills – something we’ve heard talked about many times. But, give this one a listen. It’s almost an hour long (so let it run in the background while you do your work) but I think you’ll like what he has to say. Yes, he drops the name of Thomas Friedman and the World is Flat but he has some other very good anecdotes and some good suggestions at the end of his presentation.

At one point he talks about visiting a 5th grade remedial writing class. The teacher gives the kids the assignment to write a story about a rescue. Real, personal, or imagined. It didn’t matter, as long as it was about a rescue. The boy he was sitting beside said that he was going to write a story that would scare people and off he went to try to write it. Ken went to the teacher to comment on it and the teacher said, “You missed the point. Once he made that statement (I’m going to write a story that will scare people.), it became HIS assignment. Self-directed learning. The lesson also included a paper that the kids received at the end of the class that had them reflect on the lesson. “Did you accomplish your task? If not, why not?”, etc. They had a rubric that helped the teacher recognize self-directed learning.

A very informative speech. I do hope you’ll listen to it. It’s an enhanced podcast with his slides showing, too, so you’ll find yourself flipping back to that page to se his slides, I’m sure.

[TIPS] classroomgoogleearth » home

Thanks to Chris C for sharing one from a wiki by (I Think) Steve Dembo. (See this post) He points to a few pretty neat wikis, including the one above. Imagine a wiki where your students post the kmz (saved Google Earth searches) files of the places that they’re studying in school. I like it!

More here:

[TIPS] Rocketboom - watch this episode

Watch this episode. You will come away with a sense of wonder at the creative power of those folks who are being interviewed. And notice how, during the acceptance speeches, that they all seem have the fever.. the drive… the excitement… the radical way of thinking about this connected world. You’re looking at a group of the most creative people in the world. Not scientists, perhaps, but artists and creative thinkers who are excited about what they do.

I found it very exciting and exhilarating to watch.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

[TIPS] Webby Awards

This is a HUGE list of the BEST websites on the web, as chosen by “
members of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences based on a number of creative and functional criteria.”

You will get lost in here. There are some sites that are funny, others that are beautiful, others thought-provoking, and … well… ranging from Activism to Youth. Bookmark it but don’t say I didn’t warn you. It’s going to suck a couple of hours right out of your day. And you’ll enjoy every minute.

[TIPS] TERRA: The Nature of Our World *Video Podcast*

In scanning the Rocketboom episodes that I’ve been missing of late I came upon this site, winner of a Webby Award in the category of.. Student??? But, check it out. Wonderful photography of life on this planet.

Here’s what it says about itself:

“LIFEONTERRA is a collaborative filmspace and laboratory exploring the questions and ideas on the cutting-edge of science and at the farthest horizons of the natural world. The "TERRA: The Nature of Our World" video podcast launched in October 2005. TERRA films have been downloaded over one million times.”

[TIPS] webcams to monitor for cheating

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

[TIPS] Another couple sites from the 1 to 1 workshops

I'm here in a workshop with Eva La Mar (from Oregon?!) as she shows a few sites that offer good free resources. She just showed a couple cool tools for higher level thinking. The first site was the Intel site for education. I had commented on that site a while back but there are tools that I hadn't seen before.

The first one she showed was one designed to help the kids learn about ranking. This one is terrific. Create a list of items, and then let your students drag them and drop them to put them in order. But, then they must comment on why they put them in that order. What kind of lists? Well, how about a list of voting issues, or causes for the civil war, or a list of disastrous weather conditions. I'm sure you can come up with a LOT more than that. But, once the list is ranked you can get in to compare lists, and more. Very cool.

Another one in that list is called, "Seeing Reason." Start with a central idea and let students create boxes that connect to that idea. But, the lines that connect the ideas can be different thicknesses depending upon its influence on that object. Click the line and tell your reasons.

There are other tools in there, as well. If it's been a while since you were last at this site, as it was for me, check it out again. You just may leave with a couple new tools in your toolbox.

Thanks for making the trip, Eva. Nice job.

[TIPS] An excellent web 2.0 summary

This is cruel. I'm going to tell you about a great keynote/luncheon speaker and I've got nothing to link to. But, keep this guy's name in mind.

His name: Cole Camplese, the Director of Education Technology Services for Penn State University. His topic was, "Enabling the New Classroom Conversation" and it was a bird's eye view of the changing face of the web, student involvement, and the trends he and his team have identified. I've done some workshops (some better than others) in web 2.0 changes, but this was FAR AND AWAY the best presentation I've seen on the subject. Bar none.

He talked about so many things, and had so many excellent statistics, but here's one that stands out in my mind. (This is like someone commenting on the Gettysburg address saying, "He mentioned four score and seven years ago." :-) )

After the Virginia Tech tragedy the students of Penn state using Facebook!, quickly organized an effort to have the students wear the appropriately colored tshirts in order to form the letter VT in the stands of an upcoming exhibition football game (Blue/White game, maybe? I forget which game.) Within hours, thousands of students were on board with this initiative. The administration at the University got wind of it and was there at the game to distribute over 8000 t-shirts. He showed a picture of the the students in the stands forming the letters VT. To think that it was started by the students in Facebook, picked up and supported by the administration is powerful. He used this as an example of how connected the students are to such technologies as Facebook.

That is just one story in his hour long presentation that gave an EXCELLENT - VERY CLEAR and entertaining - overview of the changing face of the web. Web 2.0 tools and what they truly are, etc. EXCELLENT!

Those of you who are reading this and who would like to have a speaker come in for such a presentation would do well to give him a call. And no, I'm not his manager.:-)

Someone (Eric) pointed me to Cole's blog. Here is HIS post about the day.

[TIPS] Great Science models

I'm sitting here in a 1:1 workshop led by Dr Scott Carrigan from CAPE. ( He just pointed us to NetLogo, a wonderful site full of java simulations at NetLogo. This page shows the models that have been contributed by the community and the application is being developed by Notherwestern university.

Check it out:

Monday, June 18, 2007

[TIPS] Voice Thread

First of all, my sincere apologies to the person who told me about this today. I spoke to so many that I just forget who it was. If it's you, leave a comment on my blog.

The site is - Post a picture and then invite folks to leave voice comments on it. This has SO many potential uses for school. Do check it out. Log in and create one for your family, if nothing else.

Friday, June 15, 2007

[TIPS] Danger - Games could lead to learning

This article in the TechLearning site lists eight of the author’s favorite educational game sites. Caution: they may be blocked at school for being a game site, so learning may have to wait until the student gets home.

[TIPS] National dropout rates

I was trying to corroborate a statistic that I had heard recently that said that the US has a 50% dropout rate from our high schools. I didn't believe it. I was right! It's NOT 50% - as a nation. It's only about 33%. Only one out of three kids drops out. Heck - we're still in the race.

I'm not serious, of course. Well, the one out of three dropout statistic is real (according to the article). How can this be? We can make list of reasons, I'm sure. And, we can't do much some of them. But, we CAN do something for those who dropout because they are bored or disconnected.

Read the article. WE are the ones who are in the position to make the needed changes.

[TIPS] wireless electricity

I used to tell my students that they'd live long enough to see wireless electricity. They'd say, "You mean, like batteries?" Well... no, but...

And so it's here.

While we're at it, I also predicted that they'd live long enough to see 3-d tv - holograms. They'll live to watch the superbowl by having the players right in the middle of the living room. Maybe I'll live long enough to see that one, eh?

[TIPS] Ancient Rome comes alive

MANY thanks to John B for sharing this one on another mailing list. - This article tells about a $2 million computer simulation of Ancient Rome that is 10 years in the making. Here is a quick snippet from the article.

“Visitors to virtual Rome will be able to do even more than ancient Romans did: They can crawl through the bowels of the Colosseum, filled with lion cages and primitive elevators, and fly up for a detailed look at bas-reliefs and inscriptions atop triumphal arches.”

Check out the simulation here: Click the Gallery link on the left for stills, videos, and even audio clips – and more.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

High school grad statistics - not good

This article is one that every high school gae student needs to read. The latest stats on the earning potential of high school grads vs college grads. Do check it out.

BTW - I HAVE been sending tips recently, but our email (we "upgraded" to exchange) isn't quite working the way we want it to, just yet, and nothing that I send to my tips list gets posted. Nothing that I send to a particular school gets posted, either. Don't get me started. :-)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

[TIPS] Google Earth gets SOUND

What could be better in Google Earth. It was just recently announced that it is getting street views of some of the major cities in the world. Now, THe Christian Science Monitor reports that it's getting SOUND, too. (Via the Kim Komando Daily News list)
To see what this is all about, go to: You'll have a choice to hear the sounds on Google Earth or Google Maps. I chose Google Maps this AM for time reasons, but I saw the map of the world with icons in various places. When I clicked an icon the note appeard and in the note was a play button to play the sounds associated with that area. The man behind this, Bernie Krause, says that a good portion of his sound files are from areas now extinct. (Take a moment to let THAT one settle a bit.)
This is HUGE for Google Earth, and I'll just bet it won't be the last of its kind to appear. Project this out ten years. We're already down to the street level in some places, and now we've got recorded sound from many areas. And, we've got links to live cameras. What next?
Is this fun or what? And for those of us over... well... over 40 :-P we can remember a time when the world was a big place. Now we're learning how small it truly is.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

[TIPS] another great popcast video

What can you learn from ice? Well, if you're studying ice that is 2 miles thick and it has been around for hundreds of years, you can learn a lot.
This video is of Richard Alley who does a great job in showing what the scientists have learned from studying the ice. I was fascinated. Check it out. Bookmark it for next year when school starts. This one is a MUST see for when you study the discussion of Global Warming.

[TIPS] keyboard shortcut for Firefox users

I just read this in another MacOSX tips blog, but it works in Windows, as well. What a life-saver it can be.

You’ve got multiple tabs open in Firefox and you start to close some, and in your haste you close one that you didn’t want to close. Recall that CTRL-T (or command-t on macs) makes a new tab. Add the shift key to the mix, shift-ctrl-t, or shift-command-t, and it puts that tab right back and you’re looking at the same site, too.

Try it. Open a bunch of tabs and put something in each. Then close one and press shift-ctrl-t. Presto! It’s back.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

[TIPS] video of Nuclear explosions

Oh my... I couldn't watch it all. It's only about a 5 minute movie, but... I can't believe that man should have EVER learned how to create bombs of such unimaginable power. When you watch this you HAVE to say to yourself, "It's SO powerful that NO SANE PERSON would EVER authorize its use." I suppose if you couldn't tell yourself that then you'd be curled up in a corner whimpering the rest of your life.
This one is for the physics teacher, the history teacher, the sociology teacher, the english teacher (another writing prompt, perhaps).
This one was again courtesy of the digg/educational videos feed.
This is our gift to our children. "Now BE CAREFUL with it!!!"

[TIPS] check out THIS computer interface

YES! Another cool Ted movie. Here’s how the site describes this presentation:

Anand Agarawala presents BumpTop, a fresh user interface that takes the usual desktop metaphor to a glorious, 3D extreme. In this physics-driven universe, important files finally get the weight they deserve via an oddly satisfying resizing feature, and the drudgery of file organization becomes a freewheeling playground full of crumpled documents and clipping-covered "walls." Worried your laptop's desktop will descend into the same disorder as its coffee-mug-strewn real-life equivalent? Fear not: BumpTop has a snappy solution for that messy problem, too.

Monday, June 04, 2007

[TIPS] Thumbprint of God - Fractals... The colors of Infinity

Arthur C Clark narrates this outstanding video about fractals. Share this one with your math teachers. GREAT soundtrack to this, too.

The Mandelbrot set, discovered in 1980 is TRULY remarkable!

Notice where this is? It’s being displayed from DIGG. Wondering where I find these videos? I subscribe (via rss) to the educational videos at DIGG. Don’t know or use RSS yet? You REALLY should learn it. It will change how you learn.

[TIPS] What do Teachers make? a video to see

Want to feel good about being a teacher? Watch this video - (Look! It’s not on youtube so you just MIGHT be able to see it!)

We’ve heard these lines before in those “Chicken Soupy” emails, but this one just makes you want to stand up and cheer when he finishes.

[TIPS] The Universe in one year

Carl Sagan narrates this story of the universe and our time as part of it. Fascinating! Show this to your science classes in these last few days of school before summer. They won’t look at the stars the same way afterwards.

It reminds me a lot of this one:

And don’t forget this one:

Friday, June 01, 2007

[TIPS] web 2 tools for assessment

MANY thanks to Ken Pruit for sharing this one.

This site does a nice job of listing some web 2 tools in table format and checking off the different types of assessments that can be made with those tools. A nice page. Read it all. Very well done, I believe.