Wednesday, April 30, 2008

[TIPS] 100 top tools - a pdf file

This one was posted to Diigo yesterday. An interesting article that lists the top 100 programs for learning. Guess what tops the list: delicious. Interesting, eh? Not Powerpoint. Not Google Docs. Not Word. A social bookmarking site.

Check out the list. What do you think?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

[TIPS] the iPhone for $199???

MANY thanks to my buddy Barry Sullivan for sharing this one with me via email.

How many of you have seen THIS: 

(  [techland_blogs_fortune_cnn_com] )

According to this article, ATT plans to offer the iPhone for $199 if you buy into a two year plan. WOW!!! And I'm stuck with my Verizon phone for another year and a half! RATS! "To page this person press 5. To leave a callback number press 9 (Isn't it already on the phone?) When you are finished you may either hang up or press 1 for more options" GET ON WITH IT! You're sucking up my minutes! (David Pogue did a GREAT schtick about this at PETE&C this year)

An interesting side note. Today I was giving a presentation to about 90 folks. I wanted to show them a live demonstration of a Google spreadsheet form. I was all set up. Only two people in the audience had Windows laptops, but they couldn't connect to the wireless. BUT, one person had an iphone and WAS able to go to my form and enter some data so that folks could see the form in action. There's a moral in there somewhere, isn't there?

[TIPS] Moodle tutorials

Wow.. check THIS out:

If you've got a moodle site and would like some mini tutorials then you've got the check it out. According to my source, this first appeared in the Classroom 2.0 blog. Very nice.

[TIPS] Quintura - embed cool searches

Here's one I picked up from another very cool wiki:

I noticed this cool search embedded along the side of the wiki. It led me to the quintura site itself. Here's how it works. You perform a basic search and allow it to do its thing. Then grab the code and embed it in your wiki or blog. I put one on this page:

What fun. Just hover over a related term to see the other connections. The first three links appear below the terms.

Eye candy? Sure. But it's still a fun way to embed searches into your site. And, it's a fun way to talk about how the search terms are related.

Monday, April 28, 2008

[TIPS] A summer Course Offering

I'm VERY excited about a class I'm going to teach this summer at Harrisburg University, and I'm hoping you'll forgive this bit of promotion for it. It's a 3 credit graduate level course running from July 21-25, with two follow-up evening (online) sessions, and one final Saturday session in October.

The course is designed to be a complete immersion into the new technologies on the web, from blogs and wikis, to Twitter and Diigo, to uStream and Voicethread - and... SO much more. The purpose is to transform those teachers whose understanding of the web might have stopped with a Google search or who stopped raising the bar on tech skills when they managed to animate a powerpoint :-) . We're going to start with what we know and then see examples of how these new tools are being used with excellent results in classrooms around the world. We'll build things together, and form learning networks, and learn where and how to continue the learning. We'll get a picture of what PA is doing in the area of Education and we'll take a long hard look around us to get a sense of our global position. And, we're going to make sure that everything we do has direct applications to the classroom. By the time we're done the teachers will be globally connected, armed with excellent tools, and ready to go for next year with a TOTALLY different vision of what a modern classroom can look like.

I am REALLY excited about it. (Can you tell?)

So, if you can think of some teachers who would be interested in such a course and who would come to the Harrisburg area for a week-long course, send this information along to them, will you?

For more information or to register, call 717.901.5101; email or visit online at

[TIPS] inanimate Alice

Thanks to Aly Tapp for sharing this one via the Diigo list.

This one is hard to explain, but one that elementary and middle school teachers, especially, are going to want to check out. This is a set of ten stories (now just three, so far) which will take Alice on a wild adventure, starting when she is just 8 years old and ending when she is .. well... here is how the site describes itself:

"'Inanimate Alice' tells the story of Alice, a young girl growing up in the
first half of the 21st century, and her imaginary digital friend, Brad.

Over ten episodes, each a self contained story, we see Alice grow from an eight
year old living with her parents in a remote region of Northern China to a talented
mid-twenties animator and designer with the biggest games company in the world. "

In each episode you may be asked to perform some sort of function, but you'll be learning about the country while you're at it. It's VERY child-safe, and it promises to be quite interesting. I'm going to bet that the kids are going to want to be checking in on Alice to read about her adventures.

The first story takes about 5 minutes to complete, and I haven't yet tried the others. Each screen has just one or two sentences to read, which keeps up the pace very nicely. One word of caution, though - get headsets for the students. For YOUR sake, not theirs. :-)

I'd LOVE to hear back from some teachers who try this with the students as the year closes. This looks like it would be a great activity for writing prompts, geography lessons (teamed up with Google Earth or Flash Earth), and more.

And, if you're going to teach with it, get yourself the little banner logo to put on  your website. What a clever idea.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

[TIPS] Twenty five minutes on Twitter

Yes, I had a hard time seeing the value of twitter when I first got on it, and there was a period when I didn't even get on, thinking that it was just a complete waste of time. But then one day I was on and I got a couple good leads from it. Another time I was on and I was able to get some answers to a couple issues. So now, when I get the chance, I'll open it up. I'm using Twitbin  most of the time.

Just thought I'd share what I learned in just one 25 minute time period last week. - Someone posted this link to some GREAT Hubble images - someone else commented about using a different twitter client and I'm going to be trying that soon. - Someone pointed us to this cool "eye candy" search engine. Try it. It's lots of visual fun. - Someone else pointed us to the FAQ page on Animoto. Now GREAT for educators! - a Collaborative place for screenwriting. Looks very interesting
joined podcast - I was trying to join a podcast and didn't have the link. Saw one contributor in twitter and got the link!
And More - but I didn't start to record the links until well into it.

I just wish I could monitor it more often. I know now that I'm MISSING more than I'm GETTING.

Not on Twitter, yet? Sign up on and then get a nice twitter addon for your browser to make it easy to follow the conversations. Then start to follow some of your favorite bloggers or other friends and teachers to hear what they're sharing.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

[TIPS] webware 100 winners

The top ten sites in ten categories. See there here:
Think you're pretty web savvy about which sites are hot and which are not? How many on this list did YOU know?
Get your Diigo or Delicious tags ready. You'll be bookmarking a LOT of these, I'll betcha.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


Got 20 minutes? Watch this video from TED. In it you'll hear about a piece of software called, "Hyperscore" ( and you'll see and hear about how it was used. Watch the REALLY cool music that some kids are making using some VERY creative instruments. You're going to want to download Hyperscore, I'll BETCHA.

Then, stick around for a very moving performance of an original work by Dan Ellsey, a 34 yr old with Cerebral Palsy. Be prepared. This just might move you to tears.

OK, send this to your favorite music teacher RIGHT NOW!

I think my invitation to TED got lost in the mail. Can someone check on that? :-)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

[TIPS] Copyright gone wrong

Here's another blog I read daily: Tim Stahmer does a very nice job with it, .. assorted stuff.

This post caught my eye today:

Maybe I'm just a sucker for stories of government stupidity, but this is a good one. I won't spoil it for you, but if you get a chance, give it a read. I'll BET you end up shaking your head in amazement.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

[TIPS] - a collaborative way to surf

Thanks to Marg Runkle for sharing this one with me via email.

Here's how it appears to work. You download a small app. Then you register and start to surf. If other me.dium users are also on the same site you'll see their little blue icons appearing in a bubble on the side. If a friend is there, too, you'll see their Yellow icon. You can then click to begin a chat with that person. Things are archived and.. Well.. check out the tutorial movie here:

That reminds me of another site that did something very similar, but I can't recall now what it was. I don't think this will ever see the light of day in a school since it requires an install, but it sounds like it WOULD be a great tool to use with your fellow grad students, maybe.

Just another site that is doing its part to make the web a more collaborative place to be.

[TIPS] Students publish project on Lulu

If you're going to have to write the Senior Project anyway, why not publish it? So thought two students from a small school in Pennsylvania when they decided to publish their illustrated poem, "Monster on the Loose." The book is available to download as a pdf or to purchase in paperback form for $9.03.

How 'bout that!

Monday, April 14, 2008

[TIPS] Family Watch Dog - offenders near YOU!

This REALLY bothered me. I mean, it bothered me to see how many there were living in this neighborhood.

Enter your zip code and find the names and address of convicted sex offenders near you. You should know this exists.

[TIPS] What can happen when you're NOT overloaded

A couple of days ago I posted about a teacher who was learning to use the Polyvision interactive whiteboard. You'll recall that this was her first experience in front of the students and there were just too many things to focus on so even the most obvious of solutions weren't obvious at all.

I'm sitting now in her room as she directs a grammar lesson on that same board. She began with HER adeptly scrolling the document up and down to show the part she wanted. She used the remote to select the proper tools without one stumble. She switched between the highlighter and the colored pencils with ease, and used the eraser without a second thought.

Then she had the students come to the board to do what she had done. She controlled the remote, bringing up the tool palette like a pro. I'm telling you, I can't believe this is the same person. The kids are enjoying their time at the board, and she's enjoying their enthusiasm for grammar! We've come a long way, baby. (Anyone remember that ad line?)

Life is good, eh?

[TIPS] Pangea Day Reminder

On May 10th, something very unique will happen. I do hope that you'll investigate it and plan to build a lesson around it.

I just received an email from the Ted mailinglist, and in it were three links to YouTube movies showing people singing National Anthems of various countries. But, it was the French singing our National Anthem, and Kenyans singing the National Anthem of India, etc. There's the music teacher's lesson. Perhaps your lesson would be something of a reverse of this day's activities where you have your students script out a video NOT of what it's like to be an American teenage, but what they perceive it's like to be an Iraqi teenager, or an Indian teenager, etc. They don't have to do the movie, but I'll just bet it'll raise some interesting sterotypes.

I do hope that you'll consider planning something for this day. Think about this... certainly ten years ago this would not have been possible, at least to the extent that it's going to happen today. Even 5 years ago it would have been held differently. But this year they've got a Facebook page, movies all over YouTube, and more. They're using the internet to allow and encourage people to host events for the day. You may want to investigate that and host an event at your school. Go to the website to learn more about it. Think about it.. what if your school held a Pangea Day event, and connected with another school in your state - or better yet, somewhere else in the world - to discuss the films. Maybe it's not synchronously. Maybe it's via a wiki page. But, wouldn't that be powerful learning?

A reminder.. here is what the site says about itself:

"Pangea Day taps the power of film to strengthen tolerance and compassion while uniting millions of people to build a better future.

In a world where people are often divided by borders, difference, and conflict, it's easy to lose sight of what we all have in common. Pangea Day seeks to overcome that - to help people see themselves in others - through the power of film.

On May 10, 2008 — Pangea Day — sites in Cairo, Kigali, London, Los Angeles, Mumbai and Rio de Janeiro will be linked live to produce a program of powerful films, visionary speakers, and uplifting music.

The program will be broadcast live to the world through the Internet, television, digital cinemas, and mobile phones.

Of course, movies alone can't change the world. But the people who watch them can. So following May 10, 2008, Pangea Day organizers will facilitate community-building activities around the world by connecting inspired viewers with numerous organizations which are already doing groundbreaking work."

Sunday, April 13, 2008

[TIPS] Watch this TED video - Johnny Lee

Here, Johnny Lee again demonstrates his Wii-powered interactive whiteboard, this time with a surpise near the end.
I love what he says about his amazement over how folks found out about this product - via YouTube. The software has been downloaded over half a million times! This is the Long Tail in action, isn't it?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

[TIPS] A tale of sensory overload

Every once in a while I hear a story that reminds me that not everyone is comfortable with technology. As people are faced with the need to use technology in the classrooms they are often functioning on Information and Sensory Overload and at those times even the obvious isn't obvious.

For example, years ago, back when the old Commodore 64's were being replaced in our district, our Electronics Teacher (remember when we had wood shop, metal shop, and electronics shops?) asked for an old Apple IIe that was also being replaced. I took him one and put it in his office. A couple days later he saw me and asked if I could stop in because it wasn't working. For one thing, he said, there was nothing on the monitor. For another, even if he typed in: load "*",8,1 (anyone out there remember that command?) that nothing would happen. I had some basics training ahead, I could tell.

I went down there to find... nothing was plugged in!!! No wonder nothing showed up on the monitor, eh? Here is an electronics teacher who was functioning on information overload to the extent that he didn't think about plugging it in.

Well, another case happened today and was told to me by the teacher herself. She gave me permission to tell the story as long I changed the name to protect the .. guilty. :-)

This teacher just received a new interactive whiteboard (A Polyvision board) in her classroom. I stopped in a few days ago to work with her to get her started. She even used it for a lesson yesterday. When she was done with the lesson she was a bit disappointed that the kids didn't break into spontaneous applause. I mean, she had worked HARD at that! And she commented that she was sweating and needed another shower. It really had her worked up. Too much information - sensory overload. But, the ice had been broken and she now was ready to try it again.

Later that day she was using the "pen" to write on the board - I'm not sure exactly doing what. But, she was into it. In one hand she held the remote for the board to be able to switch between the pen and the cursor, and to change pen colors, etc. In the other hand she held the "pen" and was working hard at writing on the board. However, it wasn't going well. It was very hard to write on the board. She recalled that I had said that it would take some time to get used to it, but she felt that her handwriting was just awful and that it was hard to read. Still, with true trooper effort, she plugged away.

In her last period class she commented that she was struggling with this handwriting on the board, but she felt that she'd get better. The kids watched her for a couple minutes and then one student said, "Mrs Wilson.. aren't you RIGHT handed?"

Sensory overload.


[TIPS] - the answer to the email issues

Once again, thanks to Alma Rowe for sharing this via email. This could be THE Answer. (Not 42)

This is how Alma described it:
   "All you have to do is pick your name and send yourself an email,
then go to this site and look in the inbox that matches that same name.
Slick!  I have a lot of teachers in my grad classes who can't set up
accounts because their filter blocks the authentication email.  And
might work when students need an email account but don't have email and
we don't want them giving out information. "

Here's how the site describes itself:
   "When a site asks you for an email and you do not want to provide your real one for fear of spam, just give a mail of the form Then you go to and you open the whatever inbox, read your mail and be done with it!"

No need to register!

I'll have to test this, but this sounds like it could be the solution to the issue with getting kids to use the cool sites that require email addresses. Wow!

Anyone using this already? What are your experiences?

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

[TIPS] Games is NOT a four letter word

I just finished enjoying another EdTechTalk tonight with guest speaker, Karl Kapp. Karl is a professor at Bloomsburg University and author of the book, "Gadgets, Games, and Gizmos for Learning." (  Or, GET THE BOOK!

But, Karl mentioned his website tonight and this page in particular:

Check out that page for some links to some OUTSTANDING educational games. Folks, there are some excellent examples on here. Check it out!

[TIPS] Animoto for educators?

WOW!!! Thanks again to Sue Sheffer for sharing this one with me.

Holy COW!!!! Animoto for educators! YES!!!

'nough said?

Monday, April 07, 2008

[TIPS] from photo to comics

Michelle Krill didn't know when she sent this to a mailing list that we're both on that I would use it as a tip, but thanks, Michelle.

What a fun site. Upload a picture and use their tools to turn it into a comic-like image. Watch the front page flash introduction. It tells you all you need to know.

This one is FUN!

Friday, April 04, 2008

[TIPS] Stephen Hawking on TED

A rare opportunity to hear Stephen Hawking talk about his theories of the universe and its beginnings and boundaries, and the chances of the existence of life on other planets. If you or someone you know teaches Earth and Space Science, pass this one along.

By the way, I still have openings remaining for someone to sponsor/send me to the next TED conference. Y' know.. I'm just sayin'....

[TIPS] Another great blog to follow - Mr Losik's Blog

One's opinion of Twitter depends ENTIRELY on who it is that you follow. If you follow just your buddies, then you'll read stuff like, "Heading home. cul8r", or "I can't believe my oldest is graduating from high school this year!", etc. But, if you follow others in your profession you are more likely to hear great ideas or get links to great sites.

Such was the case this morning when I logged on just to ask one person about his upcoming presentation this afternoon on I wanted to be able to pass that information along to my middle school teachers. but, while I was looking for him I read a tweet about this site:

Mr Losik's blog is chuck full of fun sites to explore. Do give this a look. He's a middle school teacher from Hamilton, Michigan, and you're going to love his blog!

[TIPS] Nice audio app

Thanks to Cheryl Capozzoli for sharing this one via email.


VERY nice, *GPL licensed, audio app for Windows and Mac and Linux. It allows you to edit multiple tracks… Well, here’s what the site says:

“Traverso is a complete solution from recording to CD Mastering. By supplying many common tools in one package, you don't have to learn how to use lots of applications with different user interfaces. This considerably lowers the learning curve, letting you get your audio processing work done faster!”




Thursday, April 03, 2008

[TIPS] What do you think of this?

I know that there is a concern for online safety. But this, in my opinion, is simply stupid. And I don't use the word lightly.

Read this post from Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach:

Make sure you check out the full article that she points to:

This is.. SPOOKY! I just don't get it. Why bother? It's just... beyond words.

[TIPS] Out of the mouths of babes...

Anne Davis is another Anne that I like to follow/read. (Anne Smith being the other one.) In the above post, Anne Davis quotes a 5th grader who is leaving a comment on a blog post of a senior high student. How 'bout that - this 5th grader is reading blogs of high school students.

Take a moment to read what the boy has to say about being challenged and what he's having to do in order to BE challenged. Also, read his comments about the new school he'll be going to. Did the system fail this child, or what?

Read this post from Anne.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

[TIPS] thief tracked down via internet

My wife, while stuck in traffic, heard this story on NPR. Here's the skinny from the site:

"A thief who stole an X-Box game player in Philadelphia got more than he bargained for when the rightful owner blogged about the theft. Gamers tracked the thief through the Internet and spammed him into submission. The X-Box was anonymously returned."

Listen to the full story at that link. Pretty neat.

[TIPS] Finally - the help I need

Finally there's help for people who are addicted to the Internet. The Center for Online Addiction has wonderful resources to help. I can join their mailinglist, too. I can subscribe to their blog, listen to their podcasts, take some online assessments to see just how bad my problem is, and even read some ebooks on the subject. Tons of resources. I can spend HOURS here!

I'm going to see if I can volunteer to write their newsletter!

Did I say "I?" Er... I mean YOU!


[TIPS] Keeping the same students for four years?

Very interesting article about the benefits of pairing students up with teachers for their four high school years. Graduation rates in the cited district soared from 39 to 70%!

Y' know, combine this with a tech savvy teacher who sets up a ning ( with the class, and maybe a class blog, and you could end up with some wonderful relationships. I LOVE this idea.

[TIPS] It's back! The Save and Close button is BACK!!!

YES!! I was just working on a google docs document and when I went to get out of it, to my very pleasant surprise, were the Save, the Save and Close, and the Share buttons - just like before.

I feel SO much better now, don't you?

Um... I'm serious! Thanks, Google.

(I'll bet it was this that pushed them in this direction. Y' think?


[TIPS] pecha kucha - a powerpoint system - if wikipedia isn't blocked at your school - if youtube isn't blocked at your school - paste that link into vixy or zamzar and have a link to the converted version sent to your inbox for downloading.

First of all, thanks again to Sue Sheffer for pointing us to this.

So what IS pecha-kucha? Nothing tricky. It's just a system of showing powerpoints that just MAY be something that all schools will want to investigate further. Hey, if you can put a name to it then it's no longer just your arbitrary rules, right? :-)

Basically, you're limited to 20 slides with each slide being on the screen for 20 seconds or less. Turn on the timer. Let it run while you stand free and clear of it giving your talk. Total time is a little over 6 minutes per presentation. Ahhhhhhhhh..... (sighing)

Of course, I don't know how on EARTH I'm going to pare my 116 slides down to just 20.


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

[TIPS] What will Google try next?

There are those who believe that Google is NOT the nice company that we think it is. I wonder if they're right. Thanks to Cheryl Capozzoli for sharing this bit of news:

What WILL they think of next?

;-) Enjoy this April day.