Saturday, January 31, 2009

Post weekly (weekly)

  • We dived right into the new suite and came up with 20 tips and tricks that we hope will help you enjoy all the features the new iLife '09 has to offer.

    tags: ilife

  • Welcome to DeepDebate! We are passionate about ideas and are exploring new ways to improve online conversations. In order to do this, we've built a framework which makes it easier for a very large number of people to create a structured conversation.

    tags: debate

  • The International Education K ­ 16 website is a collaborative effort at Pennsylvania Department of Education between the Bureaus of Teaching and Learning and Community and Student Services. This website will emphasize World Languages, World Cultures, and global issues. Global Coin will provide materials and resources to students, teachers, parents and professionals. In the future Global Coin will be enhanced and expanded technologically to meet numerous educational needs

    tags: foreignlanguage

  • wonderful resources from the PA Dept of Education on the topic of Money.

    tags: finance

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, January 30, 2009

One to Watch - a performance artist

I thought I had posted about this before but I can't find it. This is a post from Michelle Krill in her Finding Common Ground blog. She has a Youtube video embedded there that I think you should watch.

This is a young performance artist in her school who does a wonderful piece for Martin Luther King, Jr's birthday celebration. This is one talented young lady. How nice it is that she was not only capable of doing this, but that she was given the opportunity to do it.

I heard another story recently of a class that was studying a novel together. They had to come up with some sort of project. I forget the details of the assignment. One boy brought in his clarinet. He had written some original music that he thought fit the characters in the story. He would play the short piece and then ask the class which character it was. The class got EVERY ONE of those characters right. I was told that a couple students would occasionally disagree about which character it was about, but (and this is the cool part) they had great discussions about WHY. "That music sounded ...., but the character is ...." Interesting, no?

The moral of the story is this: What if the kids were given the opportunity to show their understanding of your content in ways that were meaningful to them? Hard to know how to grade it, for sure, isn't it? But, do you think that the connection would be deeper? I do.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Horizon Report 2009 - some interesting findings

I just downloaded and skimmed through the latest Horizon Project Report. (or here) I always like to see which technologies they feel are most likely to have a significant impact in the way we live and learn. Do yourself a favor and download the document and read it. It always puts things into a great perspective.

Here is the part that I found most interesting - the Critical Challenges. I'll list just the key concepts, but you really should go read the entire thing.
  1. There is a growing need for formal instruction in key new skills, including information literacy, visual literacy, and technological literacy. Wow, how long have folks been saying this? Kids may be good gamers and texters, but as for being literate, they're NOT there.
  2. Students are different, but a lot of educational materials is not. And, later in that same paragraph, "Assessment, likewise, has not kept pace with the new modes of working, and must change along with teaching methods, tools, and materials." Can I hear an 'Amen!"?
  3. Significant shifts are taking place in the ways scholarships and research are conducted, and there is a need for innovation and leadership at all levels of the academy. All levels.
  4. We are expected, especially in public education, to measure and prove through formal assessment that our students are learning. Then, "Current systems are not capable of managing and interpreting real time information flows..."
  5. Higher education is facing a growing expectation to make use of and to deliver services, context, and media to mobile devices.
Please go read the full report. Take a look at the trends that it things are just a year or less out. (Mobile computing and cloud computing) Then see what they predict for further out.

No, this won't raise a test score, perhaps, but it WILL give you a sense of what's happening in the world and how it will impact education - or SHOULD.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A follow-up to the previous post

I love good timing, don't you?

This evening, while browsing my reader I discovered this post by Dr Scott Mcleod in his Dangerously Irrelevant blog. It's not about cyberbullying but it does go along with the notion of the need to teach our children (well) about the dangers of living online.

Please read this one, too.

cyberbullying and sexting

Many thanks to @PLN717 for sharing this on twitter today.

First of all, it's odd how these things sometimes happen. I was just talking to someone whose daughter was the victim of bullying and I know how devastating it was for both daughter and mother. So this video (youtube) is important to watch. It's from @nocyberbullies (might be a good person to follow, maybe?). The only issue I have with this is that the phtographer didn't show the slides. Those are important. Maybe someone can find where those slides are posted online.

Then, @PLN717 also posted this link which points to a VERY interesting and important pdf files about "sexting." Attention all parents of children over the age of 11: READ THAT FILE! If you don't know what sexting is then you OWE IT to yourself and your child to find out. It's illegal, and quite a dangerous practice. Here and here are two articles about the serious nature of the practice. Any old search on the web on that terms will show storiets of kids doing it and adults doing it. When kids do it the charge is trafficking in child pornography. When adults do it the charges vary but losing a job is pretty consitently a side effect when caught at work.

So, thanks again to @PLN717 and @nocyberbullies for sharing these important resources.

A question about the word 'aggregator'

So, how long do you think it'll be before the word aggregator no longer gets flagged as being misspelled?

(Yes, I know I can add it, but that's not the point.)

Something NEW this way comes - in Google Earth

I just LOVE the gearthblog. This post is yet another example of why I think it's a must-have in almost ANY teacher's aggregator.

There, the gearth team reposts an announcement that something BIG is coming to Google Earth very soon. Here's just a little quote from their post:

"Another clue for this announcement was some other speakers for the announcement: Sylvia Earle - Explorer-in-Residence for National Geographic Society; Terry Garcia - EVP for National Geographic Society, and Greg Farrington, Executive Director for California Academy of Sciences."

Stay tuned, science teachers. From the sounds of that clipping this may be HUGE for you folks!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Post weekly (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Film On The Fly - a cool idea

First, thank to @alytapp for sharing this on twitter today.

Second, this isn't going to raise a test score, so if you're looking for something like that, it's not here.

But, is just the neatest idea. On February 7th, those who sign up will receive a text message containing the plot for your movie. You're to use your cell phone and the people and places and things around you and make a movie. When you're done, you'll upload it to youtube and tag it with a certain word so the results can be found.

If you've read Clay Shirky's book, "Here Comes Everybody", maybe this idea hearkened back to the book. I love this example of how the web is allowing people to form groups - on the fly. They'll come together to make something happen, then go about their way, maybe on to another group action.

Maybe mention this to your students. I'll bet some of them would LOVE the challenge. (Check the website to see if there is an minimum age limit)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Twitpoll - very nice!

Thanks to an email from Justine K I was pointed to this site: If you're a twitterer (look THAT one up in your Funk and Wagnells'!) you'll love this.

Enter your twitter name and the question. IN the next block enter your options, one per line. Don't bother with A) and B), etc. It makes your answers into radio button options. Click to select and click to submit. You then see your results in a pie chart.

What a cool way to gather some quick info from the twitterverse.

Thank you, Justine!


A (GIANT) Poem in the Desert

"neither shame, nor fear"

Those are words to this 3 km wide poem written in the sand by poet Raúl Zurita. Rather than me tell you about it, go (again) to the gearth blog and read their post about it. You can also download the .kmz file that points to it. Zoom in to see the letters more clearly.

This one reminds me of the story that coolcatteacher wrote about a short while ago about the cellist in the courtyard. When great tragedy strikes (in this case, the unchecked reign of terror of Pinochet) some people turn to the arts to either express their deep sadness or to speak out against the terror.

Share this with your favorite art teacher, or even an English teacher who teaches poetry.

I can imagine, on this inauguration day, a 3 km poem written in the sands of one of the desserts in the U.S. that reads, "FREE at Last!"

Monday, January 19, 2009

Great Inaugural Speech Site

Thanks to a tweet this morning, I was pointed again to Larry Ferlazzo's website where he points to THIS website:

Tag/Word Clouds are clusters of words, where some words are larger than others. The more often a word appears in the text upon which this cloud is based, the larger the word appears. You've seen these all over the web, I'm sure, and most notably at the Wordle website.

The New York Times has taken all the Inaugural speeches since George Washington, and made interactive word clouds from them. Hovering over the words tells you how often that word appeared in the speech.

I think this has WONDERFUL potential for classrooms everywhere. Take a speech and see if you can tell anything about the pressing events of the time that would have made the speechwriter choose those words. How did his term in office compare to the tone and message of the speech? Compare the clouds of two Presidents as well as the pressing issues of that time. Are there significant differences in the speeches?

What a neat site! That would have made a great assignment (make tag clouds from speeches) had it not been done by the Times.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

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Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Nigerian 419 Scam claims another - BIG TIME

Thanks to a twitter tweet from @courosa I learned of this poor soul:

John Rempel is a 22 yr old who fell BIG TIME for the Nigerian 419 scandal, losing $150,000 of his own money and that of his friends and family. He was strung along for over a year with promises of getting the money. In the end he was out the money, his friends, and members of his family.

I thought that this particular scam was so old that NOBODY believed it any more, but I was wrong. As unreal as this sounds, this kid fell hook, line, and sinker for this scam that bilks people out of millions of dollars yearly.

Computer teachers, do YOU talk to your students about Internet fraud? John's teacher didn't.

The Big Picture - BEAUTIFUL images of Earth

The Ted Blog pointed me to this article ( at In this article you'll see many amazing images of the earth that were taken by the Earth Observatory from 30,000 feet. These images are breathtaking.

Send this link to your favorite Earth Science teacher. One could spend days on the Earth Observatory site alone. I would think that if your class is studying the Earth, then this site would HAVE to be at the top of your list of links, and in your lesson plans every week. It's that good.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

An Inauguration Project - I like this!!!

This just arrived today from a listserv that I'm on. I like the idea and thought maybe YOUR class would like to participate. I'm going to paste the message just as he wrote it (with his permission), rather than try to explain it. This looks very interesting, and a nice way for your class to participate in the celebration.

- - -

Ten Springfield students who will be travelling to Washington D.C. for Inauguration Week will be commenting on the (above) blog to provide first-hand accounts of this much anticipated event. These students will interview their peers from all over the country and, conditions permitting, stream live video back from the event in Washington D.C.. This video will show a student perspective of the Inauguration and also provide a grassroots “on the ground” commentary that may not be seen on the major news networks. These student will also conduct interviews of their peers who have traveled to Washington from all over the country to witness the Inauguration. These interviews will also be streamed live and archived as well for later viewing should anyone wish to do so.

In addition to the ten students in Washington, as crew of five Government students and a group from the Broadcast Journalism and Journalism classes will take the stage at the National Constitution Center right before and right after the Inauguration Ceremony, these students will be interviewing visitors to the Constitution Center to gain their perspective on the day.

The anchor of the project is a blog which has been included in the official PA Department of Education lessons plans for Inauguration Day; our students in Washington and at the National Constitution Center will assist in facilitating the discussion on the blog. This blog will pose questions and encourage commentary from all of the schools in Pennsylvania and hopefully even further. We are hopeful that Pennsylvania's Governor and Judge Rendell (his wife) may be able to participate in our discussion with our students as well as others throughout the Commonwealth. When you go to the blog you will be able to read a blog posting that asks a questions or encourages a response, please encourage your students to comment on the posting, they could even comment on what another students has written. All comments will be approved by the Department of Education so there will be a delay before you can read them.

The Broadcast Journalism students are working to complete a set of short videos that you may use as reference materials during the week. These videos cover Science, Math, World Languages, Social Studies, and provide ties to Language Arts the videos will be archived on the internet (a link will be provided as soon as it is ready).

The only thing missing from the project right now is you!

Want to start now??? Visit the blog and comment on the our January 12th posting while you are there please take a moment to visit the blog and view a message from Judge Marjorie Rendell as well as a news story about our project

Help us make this project a success!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Create 3-D models from Google Earth

WOW!! Go from viewing a Google Earth 3-D image to having a 3-d model of it in your hand? It can't be done, you say? WRONG!

Once again the gearthblog comes through with this amazing catch about a way to "print" 3-d models from Google Earth. A major leap forward, I'd say, to go from viewing in 3-D to holding a 3-D model in your hand. Watch the youtube video on this page to find out. Or,view it here in YouTube.

VERY cool! Does THIS change anything about how we teach modeling, perhaps?

Lessig and Colbert - remixed

This is just too much fun. (Thanks to Tim Stahmer for this pointer)

My favorite comedian, Stephen Colbert of the Colbert Report, had Larry Lessig of Creative Commons fame as a guest recently. In that interview (and you should really watch it first) Stephen and Larry debated, in typical Colbert style, the issues of copyright and, in particular, remixing. "I'll be very angry, and possibly litigious, if anyone out there takes this interview right here and remix it with some great dance beat...," said Colbert. Now, I HAVE to believe that this was said more as an open invitation to the challenge than a warning against it. I want to believe that Stephen knows that these sorts of things only make him and his work all the more valuable.

Regardless, within days there were several remixes with great dance beats on YouTube. This one is my favorite. Once you're there, check out some of the others that appear in the Related Videos list on the right. Too much fun - and the fun is just starting, I'm sure.

What do you think?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

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Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Blender does it again - Big Buck Bunny

A few summers ago I was introduced to Blender, the Open Source, 3-d animation program that is an amazing program. The first demo video that I saw was, "The Elephant's Dream." Check out some of their feature videos, too.

Now comes "Big Buck Bunny." (Go there to download a copy) It's a fun story, but I also think that it's another great example of the Open Project community. I love the idea that folks from around the world who enjoy working with the program work together to build something for the greater good of all. Does that ring a "Here Comes Everybody" bell? (Watch Clay Shirky talk about his book here.)

Anyway, see what you think about Big Buck Bunny - and The Elephant's Dream, if you've not seen that one before.

And thanks to @clifmims for sharing that finding via his diigo collection.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Talent is EVERYWHERE - a message from Kaplan Univ

Once again my PLN taught me something today. This was tweeted by @WillRich45, @courosa, and re-tweeted by @mmkrill. It's very short, but says a TON.

Now I will go back and redo the one I made for Harrisburg University.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Stop Now - Read This

If you're over 30 you probably recall the story of the man who played his cello in the bombed remains of a courtyard in his hometown. He played every day. He -

Nah. I'm not going to try to tell the story. Read Vicki's post. Do it today.

It's stories like this (and, as I commented on her post, like the story of the Christmas Eve Truce in WWI), that make me appreciate even more how lucky a man I truly am. Images like the one in her post of Smailovic playing his cello amid the rubble, or of the Chinese man standing in front of the row of tanks at Tienanmen Square - they get me every time.

Now, go read that post.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Tons-0-Fun Generators

I usually shy away from these kinds of sites for fear of spyware, etc, and I'm not saying that this one is totally safe. I just have no idea. But, I CAN say that it's a TON of fun.

Check the list of "Generator" sites down the left side of this blog. You know, those sites that will create (generate) a fake sign based on your text, etc. There are links to every sort of generator you can imagine, from ASCII image generators, to eye chart generators to Warning signs to... FAR too many to mention. I would suspect that this site, or some of the generator sites, will be blocked at school, but you can certainly have a BALL playing with these to make things for your own class website.

Just be forewarned - you will get lost in here. It will suck away an hour of your time before you know it. But it's so much FUN!!!

Friday, January 02, 2009

BrainyFlix vid can get you $200

I'm a sucker for this kind of thing. I know it. But, here's a chance to get your students interested in learning the vocabulary words for the SAT and be in the running to get either iTunes creadits or $200 cash.

The rules are there. Make a video that explains a word or words that are likely to be found on the SAT test and submit it. Even if you lose you're going to NAIL that word on the SAT, right? :-)