Wednesday, October 31, 2007

[TIPS] edubloggercon at PETE&C

There are many Education bloggers in Pennsylvania. For me to name a few would be to risk insulting those who I don’t name, but if you read blogs then you probably already know many of them. I’ve learned MUCH from these folks, as have you, I’m certain. They tackle some of the toughest issues facing Education today, and they share SO MUCH of what they have learned with the rest of us. Some blog for themselves. Others blog with students. Some do both. Some write excellent blogs that are not visible in their own school districts because their filtering policy blocks them, and they fight the same battle that many of us fight. But, the bottom line is that Pennsylvania is blessed to have MANY talented and generous teacher/bloggers in our ranks.

If you’re planning to attend the state technology conference (PETE&C) in February, and you’re a blogger, or a blog reader, or someone who just wants to know more about them, then why not come early to meet with fellow educators and bloggers and participate in some brainstorming sessions, and other workshops designed for the education bloggers. The date is Saturday, Feb 9th from noon until 5:00pm. Then, since you’ll be here for Saturday, why not sign up for a pre-conference session or two on Sunday? There are some excellent options. More information here when they are announced:

There is no additional conference cost to attend the blogger pre-conference session on Saturday, although you’ll have to get the motel room for Saturday night.

Here’s how to let us know you’re coming. Join this wiki: and add your name and blog address to the Attending page: This blog is just getting started, so if you’ve got an idea for a session or would like to facilitate a session, add that information in the appropriate page, as well.

Ken Pruitt ( and will be in charge of this event. If you have trouble joining the wiki or if you want more information about the event, contact Ken at: krpuitt at

We hope to make this the first in a LONG line of “edublogger” events at the conference. There is SO much we can learn and share. I hope to see you there!


Yes, I KNOW that there is another EdubloggerCon scheduled for the Eastern Region of the country in January. It’s to be held in Philly. But, it’s a three day conference. If you can’t make that one then this is the one for you. We’re hoping that the two can join forces next year at the conference.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tips Channel #1

Gabcast! Tips Channel #1

[TIPS] This I Believe - a new group of students

Yes, it's Anne Smith's kids again with their "This I Believe" essays. I wasn't able (yet) to listen to them but I did read a couple of them and I'm very anxious to listen to them. Once again she used Odeo's player to group the audio files into one neat little player.

From her post:
"These students had to not only write their essay for our class publication, but were required to publish it for the world by submitting their essays to NPR as well with parent permission. Like last year, I found their essays to be pretty good, but to hear them read their essay aloud makes an incredible difference. They truly express their voice and passion for a variety of subjects such as t-shirts, friends, community service, and even family vacations. Please take some time to listen and give some constructive criticism to my ninth graders."

I DO hope that you'll give these a listen and take a moment to comment. Without comments this is a nice assignment. WITH comments this becomes a meaningful and motivational assignment. I'm anxious to get home to listen to them - and comment.

Monday, October 29, 2007

[TIPS] anti-bullying video

I was catching up on my professional development this evening (yes, my blogroll) and I skimmed over a lengthy blog post by Wes Fryer ( who was live-blogging a presentation at a conference somewhere. He must type 200 wpm and be able to parallel process the art of listening and typing. The blog post was HUGE!

But, he repeated some statistics about the effects of bullying in our schools and then mentioned that htey were watching a video that was done to the tune of  "Don't Laugh At Me." I looked on YouTube and there it was. Show this to your students and then have them write in their journal about a time when someone said something that hurt their feelings, or a time when they hurt the feelings of anohter person and now regret it.

Can't see the movie? Paste that url into this page: and click add. Then choose an output file type and supply your email address. Watch it upload (scroll down a bit) and in a few minutes you'll get an email from zamzar saying that it's done. Click the link and it'll download to your desktop. Can't get to zarzar either? Start looking for a job in another district. :-)

[TIPS] extreme closeup of Last Supper

Many thanks to Laurie Vitale for sharing this one.

I don’t think I’ll ever get the opportunity to see da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” IRL (in real life), so this is the next best thing. This 16 million pixel image is zoomable to show the finest details. There are three ‘tabs’ above the image. “The Subject”, “Look”, and “Understand.” Make sure that after you “Look” around and zoom in that you view the “Understand” area. It offers some excellent tips for viewing and ‘discovering’ the photo.

If you’ve read, “The da Vinci Code” it will be interesting to see if your viewing of this painting is different somehow. Maybe in the same way that “The William Tell Overture” is forever different for those of us over …40. J

Now, send this to your favorite art teacher.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

[TIPS] mind mapping tools

In response to my last post, the owner of this site:, posted a comment to alert me to this site. It's page after page of mind-mapping tools. If you can't find one here then you're not looking for a mind-mapping tool.


[TIPS] web based mind-mapping tool

I heard of this one from a forum post at This looks very nice. Looks like Inspiration but on the web. You can collapse the levels, too. I THING there's even a sound feature, although with this slow connection (at the cabin :-)  ) I can't tell for sure.


Friday, October 26, 2007

[TIPS] Peak Oil revisited

Anyone remember this post: In it I suggested that a good writing prompt for your economics students might be to tell them that they opened the paper today and read two words in the large headlines: Peak Oil! I asked them to predict what would happen if that should ever be announced. What would happen to the price of a barrel of oil?

Well, today in the Ted Blog I read about THIS article in Peak Oil!

Point your students to this article and have them speculate. Then see if this manages to make the news. And what does it say if it DOESN"T make more news? Check out this quote: "Chevron's Paul estimated that we will have consumed half of all the oil that ever existed -- 1.5 trillion gallons, out of 3 trillion -- by 2012." He goes on to say, "However, Paul said, 'I don't think it has to be the catastrophe that other people have predicted, because there are other ways to make fuel.'" Yes, but we're going to spend a trillion dollars in Iraq, NOT on alternative energy research.

Anyone else a little nervous about this announcement? Let's watch the price of oil for a while.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

[TIPS] Another "In Plain English" video

Many thanks to Sue Sheffer for sharing this one. You’re familiar with the “RSS in Plain English”, and “Wikis in Plain English” videos, right? Well, now comes this very timely video from those same folks. “Zombies in Plain English.” It shows how to identify and “eliminate” zombies. J

Some may find it…er… in need of refinement or editing. But, remember, it’s just for fun.

Whatever happened to That used to be THE best!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

[TIPS] How's this for parent-teacher conferences - 21st Century Style

OK, the 21st Century Style bit was a bit...hokey. But, read this post from Anne Smith about how she restructured her parent-teacher conference night and see if you don't agree that it truly was a fresh way of approaching them. Here's a teaser:

"I asked my students to reflect on their learning based on the following questions:

  • Assess your learning in class so far this semester. Look at your participation, growth in writing, comprehension, etc..
  • Where, in terms of your learning, do you want to be at the end of the semester?
  • How are you going to get there?
  • What can I do to help?
  • Write a message to your parents."

Now read the article to see what some of the students said and how the evening went.

Monday, October 22, 2007

[TIPS] gabcast - just too cool!

As you MAY be aware, I was a co-presenter on the k12onlineconference again this year. ( While the video on my particular part (part 2) had some issues (all my own fault) it's now up and running. But that's not what this is about. This is about the way that Wes Fryer  ( provided his personal feedback on the presentations. He used a blog and the site called gabcast ((

He PHONED his feedback in to gabcast which then went to his blog that he set up for this. Check it out here:

How does this sound to you? The kids have just turned in their splashcast or slideshare projects on your class wiki. You want to provide feedback. You grab the phone and call in your feedback just like Wes did here. Hmmm... I guess we'd have to see if you could just send the feedback to a student and not have it be public in case you wanted to say something that wasn't entirely complimentary. But, how about a teacher blog that talks about the day and the assignments - created by phoning in your posts.

This stuff is just SO COOL!!!

Many thanks to Wes for taking the time to provide the feedback.

Oh, and if you want to SEE my presentation instead of just listening to it, you may want to wait a bit as Wes struggles to convert it.

[TIPS] Want your class to be involved in the Flat World Project?

Don't get TOO excited, but do check into this post from Vicki Davis. She's looking for classes who might be interested in being Sounding boards ( ) for the teams in the projects. What a great way to get your feet wet with something like this.

Interested? Go to that first post and reply to her to let her know.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

[TIPS] chinesepod - wow!

OK, so I'll admit that this isn't high on my radar so you may laready know about it. but, if you're looking to learn Chinese then this is a great place to start. Free podcasts to learn Chinese.

Another cool thing is how I learned about it. I am just trying to close down my computer for the night when someone who I met in one of my grad classes at Bloomsburg skyped me (text chat version) to ask about something else. He's sitting in a session at a conference - yes, at 10:30 PM Easter time! - and someone was talking about that site.

In looking around on other sites he told me ( about I found this question, "What do YOU believe about learning?" I can tell you that what I believe about it - with my blogs and learning network - is SIGNIFICANTLY different from what someone else would belive who does NOT have such a network.

[TIPS] Flat Classroom Project

Over 100 students from seven classrooms around the world are using sites like ning, and wikispaces, and others to begin work on a large wiki. I want you to stop what you're doing and check this out. Make sure you watch the videos on this page:

Then make sure you take a look at the calendar page and the topics page:

Now, compare this to the fact that in some schools that I KNOW of in Pennsylvania, there exists a policy to block all blogs (where I learned of this project) and all wikis (where this project is being built) and all collaborative sites (like Skype and ning where the students are communicating with each other.) Then, if you can, write a board policy that is designed to convince the parents in those districts that it's in the best educational interests of those students that they NOT be able to see them.

Go ahead. Take your time. I'll be here. If you come up with a convincing argument I'd LOVE to hear it. 

[TIPS] MY BLOG as professional development?

I can't let this go. Within my IU the overwhelming majority of districts block my blog from both students and teachers. They block ALL blogs, so I don't take it personally. This, as I've reported, is in SPITE of the fact that the technology exists to give the teachers a different policy. But regardless....

So how's THIS for .... irony?... no, that's not the word... well.. how's this for contrast?

I just heard from a teacher in the western part of the state who gets credit for Professional Development time (they have to get so many hours of PD time per their contract) for reading my blog and reporting on the things she is learning from it. I guess it's because I'm from more than 50 miles away from there, thus making me an expert. :-) !!! What am I smiling about? This is very sad, not funny.

[TIPS] Tips for teachers wanting to use web 2.0 tools

I LOVE my blogroll. I learn SO much from them. Just now, in this post: I was taken to several other sites that are chuck full of great tips and tutorials. I'm telling you, there are SO MANY very creative people in this world who are eager to share what they know with others. Make sure you read the last paragraph and follow the  link to that tutorial about student email accounts through gmail. Very interesting.

Oh, and make sure you also read his previous post:

This guy is another one that I wish I had talked to at the edubloggercon. But, he had a camera in hand and was looking for people willing to be taped. Stick a camera in my face and my mind turns to mush. :-(

[TIPS] Nominate a Leader in Learning

Vicki Davis pointed to this a while ago ( and I had forgotten about it until I started looking back through posts that I had saved in bloglines. (LOVE that feature!)

"Cable’s Leaders in Learning Awards recognizes outstanding educators, administrators, policymakers and other community leaders at the forefront of innovation in education. This prestigious awards program, in its 4th year of operation, is administered by the cable industry and its national education foundation, Cable in the Classroom. The application window for the 2008 Cable's Leaders in Learning Awards opened on Wednesday, September 12, 2007 and will close on Wednesday, January 16, 2008 at 12pm (noon) Pacific Standard Time (PST)."

If you've got someone in mind for this award, go here to begin the process: ary Note: "By completing this form, you are NOT submitting an application for review - only suggesting to an education leader that you think they should apply.  It is the responsibility of the person you are recommending to apply (the applicant) to complete and submit an application."

Check out the list from 2007. An impressive list, yes?


Friday, October 19, 2007

[TIPS] check out THIS class

Once again, Darren Draper shows us a GREAT class he taught with folks from around the world. It was an OPEN professional development class with a bunch of folks who were able to contribute and participate using some of the outstanding tools on the web.

Watch this video: (You may have to click the first icon in the list below the live viewer to see the recorded session)

Read his 'take' on the event here:

Now... THINK about this! What do we need to do to make this happen for us in the regular classrooms? Who do we need to convince of the power of this technology? What sort of professional development can we create to get our teachers going on it? (Hint: USE THE TOOLS!)

I'm about to start teaching a college course (I think) on tech integration. I CAN"T WAIT!! I want to see their heads spinning and see them jumping up and down with renewed excitement about the classroom dynamics. I want to invite others in to our classes on occassion and I want to help them develop a learning network and begin to LOVE learning all over again. This will be FUN!

[TIPS] help wanted for k12online conference

The k12online conference is in need of some help for the "When Night Falls" concluding event next week. They need some folks who would be willing to help moderate the live discussions. Don't stop reading! It doesn't matter if you don't have any experience with that sort of thing They will have two training events to help you with your duties. "For those interested, we have set up two training sessions, one Saturday, October 20 at 14:00 GMT (10:00 am EDT) and Sunday, October 21 at 19:00 GMT (3:00 p.m. EDT)."

It's a live session in Elluminate and your job would be to watch the conversations and help manage the discussion. If you feel brave enough to want to help out, plan to tune in to one of those sessions.  You may also want to send an email to vvrotny at to let him know your intentions.

Have you been tuning in to the sessions? Thanks to Kristin Hokanson who alerted me to the fact that my video wasn't playing. They're working on fixing it now. But, of course you KNEW it wasn't playing, didn't you? You had already tuned in to see it - DIDN'T YOU? :-)


Something is SERIOUSLY wrong with this picture

I work for an Intermediate Unit in Central PA. The CAIU #15, to be exact. I'm a very lucky man.

I just received an email from a person in another IU (of which there are 29) in the state and this person asked me if I had any contact information for Will Richardson since he spoke at last year's PETE&C conference and I'm this year's Conference Committee President.

No, I didn't have any special address, but I did go to his blog and copy the url of his "Contact Me" page and sent it off to her saying that it was the only way I had to reach him. She wrote back saying that his site was BLOCKED at her IU so she'd have to check it from home later on. AAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

There is SOMETHING SERIOUSLY WRONG with a filter system - or POLICY - that will block the sites of the very people you are trying to reach for their expertise in this area. Am I right here? We've got ADULTS who are put in charge of bringing in quality speakers to address their teachers and staff about what wonderful things this technology brings to education - and they are prevented from seeing those very sites!! WHO IS MAKING THAT OUTRAGEOUS DECISION?? Get that person OUT of there! What's behind it? FEAR? It's obvious that the person making that decision is NOT an educator, nor does this person read blogs or even KNOW what a learning network is. Put ME in charge there and that person would be looking for a new job faster than he could say, "Blog!" Yes, I know that I may be called upon face-to-face to defend that position, and I'm READY!

I write this in complete confidence that he will never see it, however. This is a blog - something that is blocked there, after all. This reminds me of a previous post in which I lamented the fact that I listened to several folks who said that they won't even tell their teachers that it's possible for them to have a different filtering policy than the students.

You know, this isn't fun and games any more. The state of PA is investing hundreds of millions of dollars into education, most recently in two projects designed to a) build a state-wide WAN that connects all (most) of our districts to a high speed WAN, and b) the Classrooms for the Future project which will help our teachers learn what they're calling the "21st century teaching model" AND providing dollars to put laptops in the schools. In my humble, but FIRM opinion, we can no longer tolerate the kinds of attitudes that block sites based on ignorance, or that disable cd-rom drives in even the teacher machines, (Yes, I read that one just today, too), or that block blogs wikis, and podcasts in the name of 'protecting the network.' (I read that one, too, and I called it 'criminally outrageous!) These folks DO NOT BELONG in those positions, and schools CANNOT AFFORD to be cavalier about it any longer. If a district has the ability to provide different filtering policies for the teachers and chooses NOT to just for convenience sake, then something is terribly wrong there.

Keep in mind, I'm not advocating total unrestricted access. What I AM saying is that it flies in the face of logic and reason to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to purchase "good laptops" only to cripple them to the point where they are all but unusable, and then to prevent the use of the very tools that say are exactly the kinds of tools that today's students need to be successful in life. Spock's brain would go into a fatal "TILT!" if he heard this nonsense.

When will someone of authority step up to the plate and say, "I COMPLETELY DISAGREE with the policy that restricts these sites from our teachers. I want it changed NOW! This is an EDUCATION policy that I WANT for the children and staff of this district, and if YOU can't make it happen, then I will get someone who WILL."

Now if you'll excuse me I must take a pill - or something.

OK, Jim, focus..... center..... ohmmmmmm......

[TIPS] email accounts for students?

I wasn't familiar with Kim's blog but I WILL be. Here she does a great job explaining her solution to the issue of student email accounts. You know how so many sites require email accounts to get set up. How can you do that with students? Read Kim's post to find out.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

[TIPS] THIS is what you (might have) missed on Ted

I've pointed to many different videos on Ted over the past year or so, but there have been many more available. I want you to take a look at the list on that page. Are you blown away by this collection of videos? Think what you'd have to pay to see them. The Ted conference - just for one conference - is over $6000, and that doesn't include rooms, etc. (I tried to verify that, but I couldn't find it on their site this AM)
The point is, share this wonderful resource with your friends. Have them subscribe to the blog. This is an excellent source for personal or profesional growth, IMHO.
ANd the Ted blog pointed me to this video: That shows how a small team of inspired people are helping the women of Dafur by inventing a new, efficient cooking stove. Why is that a big deal for the women there? Watch the video to find out.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

[TIPS] learning networks

So, you think that schools and blogs don't mix? (NIMSD - Not In MY School District) Well, check out this page and THEN try to say it:

A couple things to think about. Notice the heading, their Learning Network. Right from the start you know that they 'get it.' Have you ever heard me say that my blogs are MY professional development? MY learning network? And check out the heading in the center section, "Join the Conversation." That's what it about - getting folks to engage in the conversation. Those with whom they converse become their learning network.

Do you recall an earlier post I made about how a twitter post led me to a skypecast which led me to a broadcast? That's what a learning network does for you. And it's VERY powerful. I recall a teacher in the area telling me about a presentation he sat through where one person spoke and the other was there as technical support if needed. That person, however, was busy writing php code during the presentation. At one point she sent out a 'twit' to her network asking if anyone knew a particular bit of code that she could use to do.. something or other. Within minutes she had her code. From her learning network.
Now check out THIS post (thanks to a post on about a woman who took her network on a job interview with her. Yes, in preparation for her interview she contacted those folks in her network and asked if anyone would be around who would be willing to contribute during her interview. Among those who said yes - Bernie Dodge. Yes, the webquest guy. How impressed would YOU be if a candidate for a job showed up with Bernie Dodge?

I would have offered her the job on the spot. It's clear that she GETS IT! She brings much more to the position than just herself. She brings the experience from her network.

If blogs are blocked at YOUR school, please invite the curriculum director in for a conversation. Have a list of good blog sites for him/her to see - after school hours, of course. Show WHY you want to engage in the conversation and WHY you want your students to begin to develop a learning network. This is good stuff, folks!

The top link.. Arapahoe SD. Do you know that one?

[TIPS] eduism - 3d environment for whiteboards

"The Edusim is a free & open source educational 3D interactive virtual environment built on open source Croquet (using Wisconsin Worlds) with resource packs being developed for the K-12 classroom by the Greenbush Education Service Center.

The goal of the Edusim project is to provide a safe 3D interactive environment for classroom activities (interactive white boards, modeling, machinima, and MORE). "

Watch the video. Looks pretty interesting.

Thanks to Durff for sharing this with me via the for:jgates513 tag on delicious.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

[TIPS] hotchalk - NBC video footage and more

I don't know if this has gone around or not, but I first learned about it from Stephanie M, from IU9. Hotchalk ( is a lot of things. But, I think the part that will attract the most attention is the access to thousands of NBC news footage files dating back decades.

First, here's what the site says about itself:
"At HotChalk, our mission is to improve the lives of teachers. Our community software makes it possible for teachers to work together, making lesson planning, assignment distribution, collection and grading easier than ever before. HotChalk puts students in charge of their grades by giving them the information they need to manage their academic responsibilities. HotChalk makes communicating with parents easy, turning teachers, students, and parents into high-performance teams to produce measurable academic results.

The HotChalk Learning Environment is free for all schools everywhere and is based on an advertising-supported business model. With the patent-pending HotChalk Community Standards Engine, each school can control which ads students see, and determine which ads are shown. Please note that HotChalk never displays advertising during the school day to students. Also children under the age of 13 are never exposed to advertising."

You can create classes and add resources to the classes. That part, for me, is just fine. But click the NBC News tab at the top to search from among thousands of videos from NBC. You can add those to your resources, as well.

The site is more than I have time to talk about right now, but make sure you show this to your Social Studies teachers. Click here for a tutorial for using the videos from NBC:

[TIPS] Google Earth Lessons

Many thanks to Anthony O'Neal for sharing this one with me.

" - A Free Public Resource - Providing Teachers with the tools needed to enhance their instruction using Google Earth®, the free program that brings the world to the classroom! A Website By and For Teachers."

This looks like one you're going to want to bookmark. Go to the Blog page (if you can see that when you're in school.. ::sigh::) and subscribe to that page to get the latest lessons delivered to your aggregator.

[TIPS] k12onlineconference

Have you been tuning into the site this week? I've sen several VERY good presentations so far. Here's the agenda:

I DO hope you'll bookmark that agenda and go back a couple times a week to check out the presentations. I've learned a LOT already from just the first two days.

Friday, October 12, 2007

[TIPS] Globetracker - looks like fun for grades 2-6

What is Globetracker’s Mission?

"Globetracker’s Mission is a unique, engaging way for students in grades 2-6 to learn geography, map skills, and world cultures through an episodic story. Each week, a new episode, in the format of a blog post, appears on the Globetracker’s Mission site. The “blog” is written by fictional teenagers Geo and Meri as they travel the seven continents of the world on a secret “mission” for an unnamed government agency. They seek clues and travel under the supervision of their Uncle Globetracker, writing  the “blog” as part of their requirements for missing high school work. Classes who follow the mission learn standards-based terms and concepts of world geography as they respond to Geo and Meri’s think-aloud questions using maps, images, and links that Geo and Meri provide. Concepts include landforms, map skills, cultures, major landmarks, continents, oceans, rivers, and more. "

I suppose I ought to say that I've got a friend who works for TeachersFirst and she pointed me to this. But, if you've got Google Earth on a computer, this looks like a VERY fun activity. This is one of those things that could run on one computer in the classroom when kids find some extra time. Look at the google earth file that they link to at the top of the lesson. Very nice. I don't care WHO you are that there's good stuff! :-)

[TIPS] k12online conference begins

Are you ready? This year's k12online conference begins on Monday. You can still download and watch the opening keynote address at any time, too. Here's what the site says:

"The K-12 Online Conference invites participation from educators around the world interested in innovative ways Web 2.0 tools and technologies can be used to improve learning. This FREE conference is run by volunteers and open to everyone. The 2007 conference theme is “Playing with Boundaries”. This year’s conference begins with a pre-conference keynote the week of October 8, 2007. The following two weeks, October 15-19 and October 22-26, forty presentations will be posted online to the conference blog (this website) for participants to download and view. Live Events in the form of three “Fireside Chats” and a culminating “When Night Falls” event will be announced. Everyone is encouraged to participate in both live events during the conference as well as asynchronous conversations. More information about podcast channels and conference web feeds is available!"

This is your own, personal professional development. Watch presentation from some of the best presenters in the country. And then there's one from Kurt Paccio and me, as well. :-)

But, seriously, put this on your celendar to stop in each day to see the list of the day's sessions. Watch them. These are FREE workshops for YOU. Free professional development.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

[TIPS] what blogging ISN'T

Those who know me would have been proud of how well i contained myself today as someone asked about word press and how well it works on their network. They want to use it to give their teachers and students blogs. Wonderful, yes?

Well, except that they want this to be behind a passworded portal so that nobody can read the blogs unless they know the password. There will be NO outside access without the key to the lock.

This is like saying that we're going to start using hammers in the name of teaching construction and then just allowing the kids to hammer nails into a board that is attached to nothing. Or, as I said in an earlier analogy, it's like putting the kids in a race car and letting them drive around in the parking lot and calling it racing.

I would MUCH rather they not do ANYTHING, then to do this. It's obvious that they've missed the point. They don't get it. They will end up using these "blogs" in exactly the wrong way ("Tonight I want you to write a blog post of between 300-500 words....") and then they'll turn around and blame the tool when the kids rightfully HATE it.

At the same time I heard several others say that they aren't going to tell their teachers that it's now possible to open up sites for teachers and not kids, because then they'll want youtube open. One complained that the teachers are now downloading them at home and wanting to being them in on jump drives - and that's not allowed!


[TIPS] the New Bits 'n' Bytes Newsletter is here!!


The new issue of Bits ‘n’ Bytes is available. Lots of good reading.


One correction. In the article from Jim Gates, the one url no longer works. I edited it and the url changed! ARGH! To see it, use this url:


Check it out to see what’s going on in the Tech Dept of the CAIU and around the region.


[TIPS] - for your US Gov teachers

Many thanks to Candace Shively for sharing this with me. is something that your school should look into. Here's what it says about itself:

"The Forum will be simultaneously broadcast to up to 25 million high school and college students all over the United States.  The leading candidates from the Republican and Democrat parties will participate in the Forum at a remote site of their selection.  The candidates, one at a time and without interruption, will address the students on issues they find appropriate.  The candidates will then field screened questions submitted by the students and selected by a committee of the sponsors.  The event will be monitored by a well known non-partisan public personality.  Following the Forum the registered students will have 36 hours to go online to vote.  The results of the voting will be posted shortly after the voting polls close."

Send this to your teachers of US Government. This is a way to get your students involved in the election process. The candidates will be talking to THEM, the first time voters, and those who are close to voting age.

Now, there is a partner of this site that is in search of a nearby (Central PA) school that might be participating and be willing to have some local media coverage and/or let them videotape some of the proceedings that day.

If you are in a Central PA district and you are
1. interested in having their class(es) involved in the day AND
2. are willing to help this company document the process either by inviting in the local media (if we can lure them in) or by allowing us to videotape

get back to me and I'll put you in contact with that company
- - -

[TIPS] kerpoof!

Many thanks to Cheryl Cap for sharing this with me today on the phone. is SO cool for the little ones. Click the Play kerpoof button in the middle of that page to Make a picture, make a story, or make a movie. Check out some of the movies others have made. They’re so much fun.


So how is this going to raise a test score, you ask? As Cheryl said, they first study such things as plot, characters, locations, storyboarding. THEN they go there to make their stories. Drag and drop things on or off the page. Watch things dance. Too much fun!!!


Just check it out. SO much fun!!


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

[TIPS] how's THIS for cool?

I'm not much for Twitter, but today I opened it to read that Chris Lehmann (Principal at the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, PA) had posted, "I've got a chat room in skype. Skype me to join." No reason why, but what the heck. I skyped him and joined the conversation. In the room were people from around the world, the one being from Australia. As they talked it was clear that they were watching a class somewhere. When I asked, they said that it was a live broadcast on I went over there and logged in and there I was, watching his class. His camera alternated from showing him to showing his class as he asked various questions about what they thought this teachnology (I think I'll let that typo slide this time) meant to them. There was a chat in that live stream page, as well.

You follow this? I get alerted to the event by a twit (No, not Chris.. his MESSAGE on twitter, which is then called a twit.) I joined a skype chat where I learn of a live stream of his class. Not only is he broadcasting that class out to the world, but we've got audience members from around the world there to contribute.

I could point you to the recorded session, but that's not the point. The point is how it happened. How I was alerted to it. How he broadcasted his class to the world (with signed release forms in hand and no last names mentioned) And all that for free.

Now, roll that around in your head for a little bit. Where is it taking you? I hope it excites you as it did me.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

[TIPS] how's THIS for an amazing 13yr old ?

" Michele Norris talks to Nicolai Calabria, 13, who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro this summer. He climbed the 19,000-foot mountain on crutches, braving arctic temperatures."
Wait until you hear him speak. A truly amazing young man.
Oh.. why crutches? He was born without a leg!
Listen to this report.

[TIPS] banning laptops

Another article (and audio file) about professors banning laptops in college classrooms. Should we be worried? I don't think so.
I would AGREE that laptops are a distraction when used in a classroom that's taught in the traditional methods of teaching with a teacher standing up front doing a brain dump for an hour. I would argue that OF COURSE they are. But then I'd argue that if those same students were in a classroom that was designed to engage the students into digging deeper and exploring and researching and collaborating, then perhaps those computers would be absolutely necessary.
Don't blame the tool.

[TIPS] hippo campus update

I sure sent that last tip off too soon. I hadn't seen all sorts of aspects of hippo campus. For example, you can create a customized page and share  the url with your students. I went in and bookmarked a couple chapters from Government and from Physics, if you're interested in seeing what this is about. Check out my start page here:

Or, just share a video by emailing the link to it from within the site.

Here's what the site says:

"HippoCampus is a project of the Monterey Institute for Technology and Education (MITE). The goal of HippoCampus is to provide high-quality, multimedia content on general education subjects to high school and college students free of charge."

[TIPS] hippo campus

Here's one I don't recall seeing before and it came from one of the coaches in the Classrooms for the Future program in response to a plea for Calculus resources.

Take a look. Not only math, but science, government and much more.

[TIPS] Pittsburgh goes Virtual on Google Maps

Thanks to Sue Voigt for sharing this article from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette (Go Stillers!) about Pittsburgh now being among the cities on the street view of Google Maps, 'n' 'at. (Sorry, you've got to be from Pittsburgh to appreciate that last bit.)

What does this mean? If you launch Google maps ( go to Pittsburgh, PA. Then, click the Street View button in the right top corner of the map. Drag the little person icon to a spot and watch the fun!

"With Street View, dragging and dropping the icon of a human figure onto a highlighted street will pull up a photo of the street, placing the user in a virtual world in which it is possible to move forward, backward, to the side -- even to rotate 360 degrees."

What fun!

Monday, October 08, 2007

[TIPS] - second try

Let's try this again... It must have looked like spam the first time. Get the url for the video on the previous post.
- - -
This one won't be new to anyone who reads blogs,but for those who get their "Cool stuff News" from my mailinglist, let's talk about (Note: It's, NOT!!)

This ap lets you broadcast yourself. "Ustream is a platform that provides live interactive video for everyone. Anyone with a camera and an Internet connection can use Ustream to broadcast to a global audience." Here is Vicki Davis ustreaming a workshop she attended. It recorded it and archived it. Oh, and if you know of ANYONE who is a better live blogger than Vicki I MUST know about it. This woman must type 200+ wpm and be capable of complete attention to two or more things at once. Amazing!

Now, before you say, "We can NEVER do this in school", take a moment to think about what this means to the connectivity of the WORLD! Imagine the possibilities. For example, I'm going to do a couple workshops soon for teachers-to-be. What if I turned my Mac into my broadcasting station, and I broadcasted the workshop out to ... whomever wanted to watch. I mean.. then BOTH interested parties could see it. :-)

But (seriously folks) YOUR kids could create their own Internet TV show and have a global audience in no time flat. Your students could also have their own show in which they discussed all sorts of issues, taking questions via skype or email or iChat. Your teachers could be doing this, as well. How about an art teacher who just LOVES to draw and wants to have his/her own tv show showing kids how to draw?

Whether you even LOOK at the site or not, you should take a moment to think about what it means to commnication going on in the WORLD! What will it do to TV? What will it do for those super creative kids that you have in class now? What is it going to mean for education if we can't somehow tap into this sort of change? If we continue to line up the chairs and talk at them, while at the same time they are thinking about what they COULD be doing....

Remember, the race is ON! Let's at least enroll our students into the race before it's over.

[TIPS] the url for the ustream video

That's the url for the uStream video that I mentioned previously. WATCH IT - at least long enough to get an idea of what this could mean to you and your classroom.

[TIPS] writing prompt - artificial life

This article begins:

      Craig Venter, the controversial DNA researcher involved in the race to decipher the human genetic code, has built a synthetic chromosome out of laboratory chemicals and is poised to announce the creation of the first new artificial life form on Earth.

Read the complete article. Have your students read it. Use it as a writing prompt.  Tell them to write about it in terms of whether or not they think its a good thing or a bad thing, and why? Whats the worst consequence of this idea? Whats the BEST consequence of it? Do you believe that there are or WILL BE things that well be able to do that we should NOT do? Is this something that we must legislate? Who is the watchdog for these types of new experiments?

Then, if youve got a Moodle class, set up a discussion forum in there and let the students discuss it further. (Perpetual writing prompts!)

[TIPS] PETE&C program deadline extended

For those who are thinking about submitting a proposal to the PETE&C conference committee to do a session, the deadline has been extended until October 30.


So, are you doing something very cool with your students? Are you a tech director with a story to tell about the realities of filtering? Are you a curriculum director who has seen great changes taking place in the CFF classrooms? Are you a classroom teacher who has been using some great tools on the web? Then submit a proposal for a session at PETE&C. The link to the form is here:




Sunday, October 07, 2007

[TIPS] Multimedia Saturn

After watching the Ted video the other day I have wanted to find some time to look at more images from the Cassini mission. It didn't take long to find them. Check them out:

Saturday, October 06, 2007

[TIPS] space toilets

Admit it. You've wondered about it, too. And so have your students. Some were brave enough to ask while others were satisfied with their imaginations.

Not any more. Watch this short video of an astronaut as he explains (very nicely) how that is handled. I think he's talking to some middle school students, but you never see them.

So, when you talk about life in zero gravity and this subject comes up, show this video. You won't look at shooting stars the same way again, I can tell you that much. :-)

Friday, October 05, 2007

[TIPS] Why I read blogs

Take a look at this post on Karl Fisch’s blog:


Note how he links to and quotes other bloggers. Then click the word Comments to see what others have said to him about this post. Note, too, how he (somehow) posted HIS comments on other people’s blogs at the bottom of that page. The experience of reading this post can lead you to other blogs and other viewpoints and arguments.


Reading blogs is about being involved and engaged in a constant conversation with the bloggers and their readership. It’s that conversation that shapes your own thinking, either in parallel or in opposition to that of the bloggers. It also points you to some excellent resources, from time to time. And, it becomes your personal learning network. 


In grad classes (all online) we had to work with others on projects all the time. Sometimes that was good, other times not. It seemed to work best with those who have had some experience with learning networks in the past. They knew how to share and contribute. They expected equal participation from all parties. They looked for applications that would facilitate our collaborations. Those with no experience were lost, and they often became “takers” rather than “givers” or “contributors” of information.


Now, Karl’s post was about blocking sites. Maybe you don’t care to participate in those kinds of discussions, but you WOULD like to read the blogs of another 7th grade teacher such as yourself, or maybe those of some students. Maybe you’d like to read some blogs related to your hobby. NO matter where you start I think you’ll find that they can be powerful learning tools for yourself. YOUR professional development.


This is my blogroll:


[TIPS] Carolyn Porco - the Moons of Saturn

Earth and Space Science teachers… stop what you’re doing and show this Ted Talks video.


“Planetary scientist Carolyn Porco says, "I'm going to take you on a journey." And does she ever. Showing breathtaking images from the Cassini voyage to Saturn, she focuses on Saturn's intriguing largest moon, Titan,with deserts, mudflats and puzzling lakes, and on frozen Enceladus, which seems to shoot jets of ice.”


This woman’s talk (and isn’t it nice that it’s a woman scientist?) was delivered with such passion and excitement that I, too, wanted to give her a standing ovation when she finished.  She talks about the exploration of the moons of Saturn and the discoveries that were made there – and the implications of those discoveries.


Show this 20 minute video to your students. Then give them a writing prompt to have them talk about what they are taking away from her talk.


Wait ‘till you see the final shot of Saturn, backlit by the sun. Maybe it was just her excitement, but it gave ME goosebumps seeing it, as well.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

[TIPS] Without comment


[TIPS] How's THIS for progressive?

In Karl Fisch's latest post he talks about his network and the changes that have been made to it. I want you to read this, especially if your district blocks his blog - or all blogs. I even heard tell this week of a district that blocks all blogs, all wikis, and all social ANYTHING sites. Let me point out a couple things from his post:

1) "Anyone who owns a device that uses the standard wireless protocols (802.11 a/b/g right now) will be able to connect to our wireless network and access the Internet" - That alone is enough to pucker most network folks. Do you recall Karl's 20-20 vision ( presentation in which he predicted this? Many people scoffed at it as being WAY too liberal a policy to be practical. Well, here it is. I recall doing a presentation one time at a district where I wanted to use my own (work) laptop. You wouldn't believe what I had to go through to be able to use it. That wouldn't have happened had I been at his district. Just connect and go.

2) "The Active Directory override allows all staff members to enter their login credentials and override many of the sites that the filter blocks. This allows them to use their discretion about using a site that may be blocked but is still educationally appropriate, and also allows them to get to a site to evaluate if it is appropriate." - What's that? Allow teachers to override the filter? HERESY? An OUTRAGE? Impossible?... WONDERFUL! FANTASTIC! Imagine giving control of the internet to those people with whom we are entrusting our children and assuming that they will use good judgement in their choices. WHat's the worst consequence of this great idea? You might have a teacher who uses poor judgement, or you may have one who decides to follow her stocks all day long or to monitor their ebay account. What then? I liked what one principal said in a meeting recently. He said, "I want to KNOW which teachers are doing that when they should be teaching a class. At least that way I can get rid of them. But, to restrict the Internet to such a point that it interfere's with the education we're trying to provide to our students just to protect the teachers from themselves doesn't make sense." Here here!

3) "... they had to re-setup the categories of what was blocked and what was allowed. As part of that process, we now have lost access to YouTube, Google Video and other similar video sites. Previously we had had full access to those sites, and many teachers and students had used them effectively." WHAT? They could get to YouTube and Google Videos? NEVER!!!! NOMN! (Not On MY Netowork!) This goes to show that the laws that so many are quoting to justify blocking the sites are VERY subjective. A case can be made to open them up. Many districts DO have them open. If you've got the right kind of filter (Karl's district just went to the 8e6 filter - the same one the IU uses, in fact) you can allow the teachers to override, at least.

4) "Our philosophy is to have high expectations for our students, to educate them to behave ethically, responsibly and safely and then expect that they will do the right thing. When they don’t, they know we’ll have a conversation and try to learn from the mistake, but we don’t assume they are going to screw up. In other words, our philosophy has been to educate, not ban." Read that again. One more time. "Our philosophy has been to educate, not ban."

Karl Fisch for PRESIDENT!!

Read the entire post. Forward it to your curriculum director. Start the conversation. LEAD the conversation! There is WAY too much at stake to allow business as usual, in some cases.

Good luck.

[TIPS] alternative to Slide

Many of us have been saddened to learn that our school is blocking Too bad. It does a nice job in making slideshows of our pictures. But, alas, there is some stuff on the site that makes it less then desirable for use in school.

But, you say you still have a need to display a slideshow? You say that won't work? Well, try

What makes this a nice alternative is that it doesn't save any presentations so you won't stumble on inappropriate material. It's just the tool to facilitate the flickr mashup.

I've had a sample posted on my blog for some time.

So, if slide gets blocked, try splashr.

[TIPS] tips for conference bloggers

This is from the TED blog. It pointed me here:

If you've ever tried to blog a conference you will appreciate this body of conference blogging tips. I was never successful at live blogging. I type too slowly, for one thing. I can't musti-task in that way, is another. In other ways I multitasl just fine, but not when it comes to live blogging.

At the bottom of this article are the links to the pdf files containing the tips.

[TIPS] Insomnia Film Festival

Thanks again to Sue Sheffer for sharing this one with us.

On October 13, Apple will post a list of props, ... well.. here's how they put it:
"On Saturday, October 13 at 9:00 a.m. (Eastern time), we’ll post a top-secret list of elements — special props, dialogue, settings — you get the idea. Choose any three to include in your movie. Then all you and your team have to do is write, cast, shoot, edit, score, and upload your 3-minute masterpiece within 24 hours. No problem, right?"

But, the killer is the time limit on making the film. They could be up all night making those films. Hence - Insomnia Film Festival. :-) I love it!

Got some kids who are into iMovie? Point them to the above site.

[TIPS] Google Earth English lesson

Once again Anne Smith shares a wonderful lesson that she did with her 9th graders, this time as they studied Oddysseus and his travels. Read about the lesson there and then check out some of their Google Earth files. (You DO have Google Earth installed, don't you?)
And, if you will, leave a comment. It's SO powerful a motivator.

Monday, October 01, 2007

[TIPS] Check out Intel's teacher training program

This is another one that came from the ASCD brief. It pointed to this article. More than just a "Click Here" program, this one is designed to show teachers how to integrate the tools.

"We teach teachers how to use (technology) in the classroom, not just in the areas of math and science but we train teachers how to use technology to make art, history, language or any subject more exciting to kids," Intel Chairman Craig Barrett told Reuters in an interview on Thursday."

Start your investigation here:

[TIPS] bubbleguru

Thanks to Cheryl "Cap" for sharing this with me. allows you to record yourself in a 20 second video (in the free version) nd post that video in a little bubble that appears on your web page. If you scroll down the page the bubble follows you, as well. VERY cool!

In the free version you get to make one video and it can be streamed (viewed) 1000 times.

Check out their site for their demo.

TIP: Make sure you have good lighting before you record your video.