Friday, February 29, 2008

[TIPS] Stop what you're doing and watch this!

This will change EVERYTHING we know about our life in our solar system. It will change the way our earth and space teachers teach. This is... almost beyond words in its leap into the future and what it does for our understanding of the universe. Here is the descriptive paragraph from the Ted site itself:

"Science educator Roy Gould and Microsoft's Curtis Wong give an astonishing sneak preview of Microsoft's new WorldWide Telescope -- a technology that combines feeds from satellites and telescopes all over the world and the heavens, and weaves them together holistically to build a comprehensive view of our universe. (Yes, it's the technology that made Robert Scoble cry.)" (

And that paragraph doesn't do it justice. This will be available this spring. It'll be free at

Send this to every science teacher you know. Oh, my suggestion is that you download the video to watch it, rather than try to stream it.

Oh my... SO VERY MUCH to learn. Imagine the kids who are going into second or third grade next year and how they will come to learn about the universe.

And I thought I felt insignificant just looking at our own Milky Way!

[TIPS] Open PD


Darren Drapper (The guy behind the “Paying Attention” video) has been conducting Open Professional Development sessions for some time. He uses the social tools to teach ABOUT the social tools and it’s been an amazing success, with people from around the world tuning in to participate.


That link includes a video he just released that talks about this efforts and includes clips from those who have been participating.


Something to think about… we’ve got the tools to collaborate and learn ANYTIME and ANYWHERE. When we think about education in 100 years will it be some form of this model?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

[TIPS] Google going wiki?

This just in...

Two things about this post. First, there's the google sites news itself. This looks incredible! Note the google pages site - this is... well, read Jarrett's post and then go check it out for yourself.

The second thing about this is how I first heard about it. I went to Twitter to find someone to ask a question and I read his "tweet" about this post.

Y' gotta luv it!!!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

[TIPS] Another GREAT assignment

I’m a lucky man – for many reasons. But one reason is that I’ve been lucky enough to have found some excellent blogs written by some excellent educators. I’ve written about Anne Smith before. I won’t bother linking to all the posts I’m written that mentioned her and her students. But, here’s another great assignment that she gave to her students.


English teachers, take note of this one. I’d LOVE to hear what you think about it. Send it along to your favorite English teacher. I think they’ll appreciate the thought.


Anne’s post also pointed me to another teacher’s blog and I really enjoyed this post:


See what you think.


[TIPS] would YOU fall for this?

You get a phone call from a man with a heavy Indian accent. He says that he accidentally withdrew $480 from your account and he’s SO VERY sorry. But, the honest chap will gladly put it back. All he needs to make it happen is your bank account number.


PLEASE tell me that you wouldn’t fall for that. NO WAY, right?


Well, give this a listen. It’s almost 9 minutes, but you’ll get the idea after just a couple, I’m sure.


YOU may be smart enough to avoid these scams, but your son or daughter or parent who is new to the web may NOT be. PLEASE have “The Talk” with them. Tell them that even if it IS true that they got your money, it’s cheaper to let them have it than to risk divulging your account number.

CoverItLive blogging session

OK. Karl can't have all the fun. I just HAVE to try this! So, On Tuesday morning at 9:00 I'll be giving a 45 minute presentation to about 175 science teachers in the area. The topic will be on the need for change, and what the change might look like, etc. At one point in the talk I mention CoverItlive. Now that I've actually seen in I'd like to try it.

I'll have a guest author assigned to my blog who will take notes and moderate the coveritlive chats, making them public when appropriate. We'll just have to see how it works with the filter. It may end being a total flop - which is why I'm not telling anyone but you. ;-)

So, come back here on Tuesday if you'd like to try this out with us. Who knows, someone may even hold an audio skype call so others can hear, too. But, the important thing here is to see how this works.

This is where it will be. Want a reminder? Fill in the form there. Y' gotta LUV it!

Friday, February 22, 2008

[TIPS] another great Ted video

This one isn't about education or discovery or technology or about ANYTHING - except fun. These two jugglers are flat out amazing - and pure fun.

When you get a few minutes for yourself, watch it. I laughed out loud and even applauded.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

[TIPS] new library search tools

This one came to me in the "Neat New Stuff" mailing. Sign up for yourself at,

- - -

From the site:
"If you're tired of using the same old search box on your local library website for research projects, it might be time to broaden your horizons. Try out one of these in-the-works betas sponsored by world-class libraries around the world. From academic libraries like that at MIT or renowned research centers like the Library of Congress, the following beta research tools feature innovative tricks to connect you with the most relevant, valid results on the Internet and in their card catalogs. Melvil Dewey would be proud."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

[TIPS] email no-no

For the fourth time this week I have received an email in which my name appeared - along with about 100 others - in the TO: field of the email. This is a DEFINITE no-no!

If you need to send an email to a lot of people there are lots of ways of doing that while still protecting their privacy. In the to: field, put your OWN email address, for example. Then, in the BCC (NOT the CC) field, put all the other addresses, That way nobody else will see all those addresses.

Have you ever received a forward from someone and  you've had to scroll down through several pages of headers that contained dozens and dozens of email addresses? Talk about a spammer's dream!

There is a website (that I've mentioned before) called ThanksNo ( that you might consider sending to the person who puts your email address in with all those others for all to see. The site does a nice - polite- job of telling the person what they did something wrong. It isn't quite as firm as I'd prefer, but it's a good start. So, simply reply to that person and include the address listed above. That way your own frustrations don't come out in the tone of your email when you reply to tell them to remove your name from their list if they're going to INSIST on ... er. well.. you see what I mean. :-)

This is NOT just a pleasantry. It's not a LAW, either. But, it IS proper email etiquette that everyone SHOULD abide.

[TIPS] Schools blamed for society's ills?

This is a brief article, but an interesting one. It's probably something that we've all been thinking - or maybe even saying to anyone who would listen. That is, NCLB is punishing schools for the problems of our society. Is there an achievement gap? Yes. Is it the fault of the schools? Read the brief article for one man's opinion.

Monday, February 18, 2008

[TIPS] PowerUP - game to Save the World

This was on the ASCD SmartBrief:
From the site:
"Teachers, do you dream of a learning resource that will grab your students’ attention and engage them as thoroughly as the video games they play at home and on their mobile phones? Are you looking for a classroom resource that will motivate your students to apply science and math concepts to real world problems? Would you like to spark your students interest in pursuing a career in Science or Engineering?
Enter the world of PowerUp, a free, online, multiplayer game that allows students to experience the excitement and the diversity of modern engineering!

Playing the game, students work together in teams to investigate the rich, 3D game environment and learn about the environmental disasters that threaten the game world and its inhabitants.

Players meet Expert Engineer characters and experience the great diversity of the field. Conversations with these experts and engaging interactive activities allow players to explore ways engineers design and build systems to harness renewable energy sources as alternatives to burning fossil fuels.

Players take on the role of Engineers, working together designing and building energy solutions to save the world. "

This page: has lesson plans and more.
This is a 3d  multiuser game that teaches while they play. Give it a try.
Sorry Mac folks, this one is for Windows only. Hey - it's from IBM. What did you expect?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

[TIPS] New features in Google Docs

I was just in Google Docs and I noticed the red, "New Features" link. Wow! You're going to be amazed at what this free application now does. VIsit that link and read the long list of new features. Which one is YOUR favorite?

[TIPS] videos to see

I think most of the folks who read blogs have already seen these videos, but I know some haven't. And, I keep thinking that I've mentioned them before so when I want to find them I search for them in my blog and can't find them. So, this is for you AND for me.

This blog is quite good. You'll want to check it out for the posts. But the reason I'm pointing you here is for his videos. This page shows one of them, but if you look on the right side of the page you'll see links to his others. Take some time to watch them all. They include 1620, 42, 180, and "Cut and Paste." Which one stayed with YOU the longeset after you saw them all?


Friday, February 15, 2008

[TIPS] Amazing kids at PETE&C

If you attended the PETE&C conference this week, and did NOT get a chance to visit the student showcase, you DID miss something special.  PLEASE don't let this go by next year without stopping in to talk to the kids. You will be impressed and maybe even moved by the things they are doing.
I saw some second graders who took turns reading their lines that explained their project to me. They were nervous, but they were SO excited to be telling their story. I knelt down (on a very sore knee) to hear their presentation and to be able to hear them talk. What a joy it was.
I also visited some 5th graders who had done a WONDERFUL research project in which they tested the water at various locations along the river that runs through their town and recorded their findings., They also entered their data into a spreadsheet and made a graph to show the results. But, what was fun was when I pointed to a couple spikes in the graphs and asked them why they thought those marks were so different. It seemed like they hadn't thought of that before. For example, one chart that measured Chlorine showed a spike at station 5. When I asked why they thought that might be happening, they didn't know, but one said something like, "That's the Stratford plant near the Stratford swimming pool. Maybe that has something to do with it." Maybe. Maybe not. But I liked the way they put that together. Then the other said something like, "Then station 6 (downstream a ways) should be higher, too." Indeed.
I saw some OUTSTANDING flash animations, full of great wit and even some excellent references to news items. Does the phrase, "Don't taze me, Bro'!" mean anything to you? I can't hyperlink in this version of my email (Don't get me started!) or I'd link it to the video. Wait.. here:  Anyway, one student had a scene in his flash animation in which his character was standing out in front of a house, when several giant lasers focused in on him. He cried, "Don't Laze me, bro!" He said I was the first to catch the reference. Whether I was or I wasn't is not important. But, he obviously saw the video on YouTube and it's now a part of him. Youtube is more than just entertainment, maybe, eh?
I also saw a project that some Senior girls had done. I wish I had my papers with me (I'm at the cabin) and I could tell you their website. They were also quite good.
But, when I first walked in the door, I recognized Kristen and Hanan (I think). These are two of the girls I had met last May at the PA Rotunda during the Student Showcase. Remember this post? I didn't get to talk to them this time - except to say hello and welcome them to the show and remind them that I had met them before. But, I was able to talk to their teacher. He told me how my words of praise and encouragement last May prompted him to enter his students in this conference and how it meant so much to think that someone thought their work was special. I told him that I had blogged about his students and that I'd send him that link if he reminded me. (I was pretty involved with the event this year and my mind was a bit frazzled.)  I did send him the link and he just wrote to tell me about how they had printed it out and had read it at their board meeting. The kids haven't seen the article, yet, but he's pretty sure that once they do they will talk of little else for some time. I can't BEGIN to tell you how WONDERFUL that is to know. To think that my (genuine) enthusiasm for their work has mean so much. They don't know me from Adam. They obviously don't read this blog. But, to be recognized for doing such good work meant quite a bit to them. I just hope that they had a crowd that stopped by to hear them talk. I know that when I got back to their table they had already packed up - MUCH to my dismay.
Listen closely. Next year, if it doesn't snow and chase 3/4 of the crowd away, MAKE SURE you go in to see the kids in the Student Showcase. Talk to them. Let them tell you what they're doing with technology in class. Listen to how easily and confidently they describe their work. Feel their excitement. Watch their eyes light up when you tell them what a great job they did. Can you imagine the THRILL it would be to show YOUR work at a STATE conference and have people tell YOU that your work was excellent? Wouldn't you LOVE to be able to know what impact it had on them throughout their lifetime?
Don't forget. This is a MUST DO next year.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

[TIPS] The skyped classroom (update)

If you don't read Brian Crosby's blog, "Learning Is Messy" ( you should. Great stuff.
You may remember a post a while back about Celeste, the student who was homebound with Lukemia and who used Skype to connect to the class. ( Well, Brian just released the update movie that was produced by the Skype team. Read about it here: and if you click the picture you can see the new movie.

Friday, February 08, 2008

[TIPS] The Exploding Walls Project

Who says Twitter is useless? (Ok… but I won’t say it any longer!) Today I had it running while I was working and a twit came through from kjarrett which pointed me to this video:


It’s the “Exploding Walls” video produced by Mr Mayo and his 8th grade English students. Take a look. It does a nice job of showing the effectiveness of using today’s tools to open up learning – OUTSIDE the walls of the school.


Nice job, kids! As Pink Floyd would say, “Tear down the wall!”


Reminder to teachers: Youtube blocked? Paste that video’s address into the field in step 1 here: and in step 2 choose mov (or whatever format you wish). Give it your email address and it will convert the video to your format and send you a link where you can download it.


Thursday, February 07, 2008

[TIPS] Google spreadsheet forms - lessons learned

Thanks to a post from Tim Lauer ( I learned about the new forms in Google Spreadsheets. Instead of having to share the spreadsheet with the contributors (a real problem if you're talking about students with no email accounts) you can instead create an online form which can be used by the students to enter the data. VERY cool!!

It was VERY easy to create, too. It knew my column headings and the data types I wanted. But, I could choose to make the form have multiple choice values or check boxes, etc. You can even have it so that users can see the data that was entered by others. I sent the form to myself, both to my gmail account and to my work account. It worked perfectly in the gmail account. I entered the data right into the form that appeared IN the email (that was an option to send it that way) and <Presto!> it went right into the spreadsheet.

However, it did add a field called "Date and Time Stamp" and it moved everything over one column - from that row on. So, anything that was in the spreadsheet already is no longer lined up correctly. I managed to insert a column, move some data, and repair the form, and now it works just fine. But, the moral of the story is, if you're going to use a form, START with the form!

Oh, and if you've got an iGoogle portal page, you can drop the forms gadget onto that iGoogle page to monitor your form data. That is VERY cool!!

Remember the days when your students would each do an experiment and write their data onto their own spreadsheets? Can you see how this can REALLY add new dimensions to the labs?

This is SO much fun!

Lessons learned:

1) Don't practice on live/real data.
2) No matter what you do you can fix it
3) If you want to use a form, START with the form to get the columns aligned correctly.
4) I hope the person who invented Undo is filthy rich!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

[TIPS] forget it! Don't go there!

Thanks to Shaun who alerted me to the fact that the category may be gone, but the content is still there. And it is.


SO, is OUT. At least for the foreseeable future until we hear that it’s cleaned up its act.


Sorry ‘bout that, folks.


[TIPS] Who to vote for?

Many thanks to Bryan MacLeod for sharing this one with me via email.

This TV station site has a little survey on this page which asks you your views on several issues. You choose your views, then it will tell you which candidate most closely matches those views. How's THAT for a cool starter with the students? It will be interesting to ask them to write down who they'd vote for, then take this survey, then tell whether or not the poll matched their candidate. This would be good for adults, too, wouldn't it?

[TIPS] Ten Cool Google Search tips

I just saw this in Cliotech's links.

Some of these I HAD seen before, but most I had not. Check out how to convert money, find out time in another city, compare items, and MUCH more. VERY cool tricks.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

[TIPS] Chris Jordan revisited

A while back I pointed folks to Chris Jordan's "Running the Numbers" site ( in which he talks about - and SHOWS - the enormous amount of waste that this country alone creates. Sometimes it's measures in intervals of 5 minutes. Other times it's measure in a day. The images themselves are astounding. Check here for more:
But, this 'tip' is about Chris' PopTech video, here:
Listen to Chris explain those images and hear him speak passionately about the issue of waste. Remember, this issue will have to be solved by the students that we're teaching today. Maybe, if you were to play this for a group of them, just maybe they would find the spark to become active in this issue. Maybe when they see the pile of discarded cell phones, or the cell phone chargers (many NEVER USED!) they will think twice about what THEY discard. Who knows where this ball will stop rolling.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

[TIPS] Everyone's a critic

You can't swing a cat without hitting on an article that will either condem PowerPoint, make fun of it, or tell you how everyone abuses it and nobody does it right. So, when you're faced with having to use it and you've been reading those articles, you might tend to panic - as I did. OK... No bullets. Fine. No goofy animations - no problem. The message is the point. Less is better. The slides support your point - they don't beat your audience about the head with it. DON'T YOU KNOW?? ARRRGHHHHHH!
At last year's NECC conference, Nicholas Negropante made the off-hand comment, "I hate powerpoint" - and the audience applauded. EVERYONE hates it! But, truth be told, 95% of those folks use PowerPoint, and if we had the audience rate each other's powerpoints, I'd be shocked if more than 10% of them would have passed muster. The larger point is that when you have to give a presentation to a group of learned tech folks, the pressure is ON. Everyone is going to be looking at this PPT with the notion (in the back of their minid, at least) that, "Here's another guy who doesn't know how to make a good powerpoint." No matter what we did, it would likely meet with geers and sneers from a large group who "knows" that it wasn't good, although they may not be able to make a better one.
So, I'm going to admit up front that I only know what I know. I THINK that my powerpoints only have that which is necessary to support my talk. I THINK that it's void of the bullet traps, and the animation traps, and the ugly colors traps. I THINK I'm getting better. The one I had for NECC last year embarasses me when I think of it,but I THINK I'm getting better.
Bottom line, if you are at a presentation of mine where I use a Powerpoint (Keynote, actually) and you think it was awful, PLEASE tell me how to improve it. Give specifics. Take the talk and YOU make the slides. Then we'll run it by a dozen people and see how many agree that YOUR version is not only better but a model for presentations everywhere. I don't think it'll happen. Everyone's a critic.