Tuesday, December 22, 2009

National Library of Virtual Manipulatives - Math

The National Libary of Virtual Manipulatives was created to supply teachers with interactive mathematics manipulatives. It is available free of charge on the web. Here is a description of their site taken from their about page:

"The National Library of Virtual Manipulatives (NLVM) is an NSF supported project that began in 1999 to develop a library of uniquely interactive, web-based virtual manipulatives or concept tutorials, mostly in the form of Java applets, for mathematics instruction (K-12 emphasis). The project includes dissemination and extensive internal and external evaluation."


This site can be used on an interactive whiteboard. Links to individual activities can be incorporated into smart notebook lessons as well. Faculty members can provide links to individual activities on their website for students to access at home.



Monday, December 14, 2009

Interactives to use on a Smartboard

Learner.org has developed a great website that hosts interactives for all content areas.  There are math, language, art, history and science interactives for grades K-12. Here’s an example about geometric shapes.  There are a lot of great interactives. One that I really liked is the Spelling Bee

Take a look at the home page. I would love to hear your feedback.



Sunday, December 13, 2009

New Verizon Droid

I recently bought the Droid from Verizon. I have been waiting for Verizon to finally release a good smart phone. I must say that I am really impressed with it. The OS is very fast. The screen is great. It is has a very sharp picture.

You have to drink the Google Kool-Aide if you buy this phone. It is fully integrated with all of the Google Apps. In my opinion, that is what makes the phone so great. I have never been much of a 'cell phone' guy. This phone has changed the way I look at them.

Having access the the internet, email, messaging, twitter, google reader, google maps, navigation, every major newspaper, sports scores, you tube videos, and traffic and weather right at your finger tips has changed my life! It is such a great asset.

The keyboard is not designed well and the phone is a bit heavy. Other then that I have no other complaints as of now. The Google Voice Search by GPS location is really neat.

I highly recommend this phone. I will keep you posted if this changes!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A guide for productive class discussions

I came across this great diagram to distribute to students.  It is a guide for how to conduct classroom conversations for students. It is based on a technique called Accountable Talk. I read about this resource on the following blog posting.

Class Discussion Guidelines


Monday, November 23, 2009

Life magazine's online photo archive

Before the age of cell phone cameras, You Tube, and Google Images, America received news and event images through weekly magazines. One of the must-see publications was Life magazine.  They captured the heroes, villains and events that shaped history.

These images are now available on the newly launched life.com. Here is an excerpt from their site:

Welcome to LIFE.com, the largest, most amazing collection of professional photography on the Web.heroes, our stars, our celebrations and heartbreak, the events etched in our memory and the small moments that make life sweet. When you find a photo you like, you'll be able to share it, print it, and sometimes even buy it.

LIFE and Getty Images, the two most recognized names in photography, have joined forces to provide you instant access to millions of breathtaking photographs — for free. LIFE.com not only lets you wander through the legendary LIFE and Getty archives, but with more than 3,000 new photos added every day, it also gives you the best pictures of the people and places shaping our world now.

These are the photos you won’t forget. Taken by the world’s top photographers and curated by LIFE editors, they tell the story of our times — our

Edutopia Magazine recenlty had a great article on "Teaching with Primary Souces". Specifically they spoke about using images. They recommend the following:

  1. Select Photographs - Use the custom search tool on life.com to hunt for images by topic or photographer.

  2. Research the techniques

  3. The Library of Congress's American Memory Website (loc.gov/teachers) provides lesson plans and question guides to help students think critically when examining photos.

  4. They also have self directed study modules on teaching with primary sources (loc.gov/teachers/professionaldevelopment/tpsdirect/selfdirected

  5. Develop a list of questions based on the following topics:

  • What is the main subject of the photo

  • Time: what might have happened just after or before the photo was taken.

  • Framing: What would be visible if you could move the camera left or right, up or down.

  • Vantage Point: How far was photographer from the images seen in the picture?

  • Dominance: What is the first thing you notice in the picture?

  • Original Purpose: How was the photograph first seen or used? How is the photograph regarded today?

  • Intention: What do you think the photographer was trying to express through the image?

"When you teach students how to be critical viewers, they learn how to elevate personal opinions into authorative opinions",  Elizabeth Lay, retired English teacher from Oakland, California

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Digital Story Project Examples

The students in Briggs, Cozy Lake, and Milton Schools have been producing digital stories using MS Photostory 3. In Briggs School all of the second grade students took part in an online project called "Where the Wild Things Went" You can view their completed stories on their new school blog which can be found here.

Mrs. Caraturo's class in Cozy Lake School created digital stories.  During the month of October, students in Mrs. Caraturo’s class were asked to choose a newly fallen leaf.  Students then illustrated a picture and wrote a story about the journey their leaf took after it fell from its tree.  The boys and girls are very excited to have published their first digital story and to share it with their family and friends. Mrs. Caraturo's class stories are published here. Please contact her for the password to view the stories if you are interested.

  The students in Mrs. Evans Kindergarten class, in Milton School,  created digital stories describing their favorite animal at Space Farms Zoo.   Each student drew a picture of an animal and then narrated their picture. We used a digital camera and Microsoft Photostory 3 to complete the project. You can view their stories here.

To learn more about digital storytelling click here.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New Online Global Project

Jennifer Wagner of "projects by Jenn" has created another  great project called the Holiday Card Exchange Project. I copied the details of the project below. You can visit the site at http://www.jenuinetech.com/Projects/hce09/hce09information.htm

See below:


Welcome to the
Holiday Card Exchange Project

Registration will open on
November 6, 2009

Dates of Project:
December 1 - 18th, 2009

This project will be open to all PreK - 6th grade classes around the world.

Classrooms will be teamed with 24 other classrooms to exchange holiday cards.

Each class will be sent an excel document
with all names and addresses of
the classrooms in their group.

Each class needed to create (or purchase) enough cards to send 1 card to each class on your list.
(Teachers are responsible for all postage costs)
Find sample ideas here!

Lists will be sent to participating classrooms
by November 30th, 2009

All cards will need to be mailed to the other classrooms by the 7th of December.

Teachers are encouraged to create a map to show where the cards come from. Google Earth and Google Maps are both very easy programs to use to create maps. You also could make a bulletin board map as well.
Please send Jen a picture of your map
after this project. Thank you!!

Since this was a holiday card project, it will be possible to receive all kinds of holiday cards (of differing beliefs and customs). If a school has certain "restrictions"; the teacher needs to be the filter of these cards.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New Digital Storytelling Tool - Blabberize

www.blabberize.com is a free resource that allows you to make any picture talk. I have worked with this resource for a couple of years now. It can be really hilarious. You upload a picture, use the online tools to outline out the mouth, and record a narration. The picture then talks to you. You can upload more then one picture and have the talk to each other.

While this can be entertaining I believe this can be an excellent instructional tool.  Here are some ideas for using it with students:

1. Students upload a picture of an animal or insect. They then narrate an oral report as that animal or insect that provides information they have learned about it.

2. Students upload a picture of Abraham Lincoln and provide narration about him, interview questions, or dictate a speech in response to something.

3.  Students can introduce a story character or respond to a situation as a character in a story.

This can be an excellent tool to showcase a digital story. As with other digital storytelling projects the focus is on writing a script, editing the script and narration. The project can then be published online for students to share and view.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Online Document Management

I have been starting to plan a strategy for online document management for my staff and students. We are implementing a new Wifi network in my district. I plan on creating a guest SSID just as i did in my previous district. I wrote about that in a previous post.

My plan is to allow faculty and students to be able to bring in their own mobile devices. In order for this to be successful I want them to have access to their documents while on and off the network. Setting up the guest SSId for internet only is the easy part. I need to find a solution for accessing documents over the web. This will ensure they will not have to be added to our domain to get to their files.

There are of course a number of options these days. Google Apps for Education, Zoho and other open source document management platforms are available. In the case of Google Apps it is a major change.  My biggest obstacle is that Google Apps uses email as its primary communication and collaboration tool. There are many concerns with providing email accounts to our students. While the details of this are another post it is a noteworthy concern.

Microsoft has recently introduced Office Web Apps. You can access the beta called Microsoft Office Live currently. It provides the ability to access word, powerpoint and excel documents online. You can even share and collaborate on them. I have heard that office 2010 will offer the ability to host this online cloud on your own servers. I am hoping that if hosted authentication can be handled with LDAP.  This might be a solution for us. It is of course a very expensive solution in comparison to Google Apps. The good news is we are already paying for it with our MS volume license.

Here is a quick blurb about MS Office Live.

Office Web Apps, the online companion to Word, Excel®, PowerPoint® and OneNote® applications, allow you to access documents from anywhere. You can even simultaneously share and work on documents with others online. View documents across PCs, mobile phones, and the Web without compromising document fidelity. Create new documents and do basic editing using the familiar Office interface. By offering more ways to access files from almost anywhere, Office Web Apps enable you to get things done according to your schedule.

I will continue to look into an open source solution that we can load onto our servers. If anyone has a recommendation I would love to hear it!

Monday, October 5, 2009

New Project Open for Grades Prek - 6

There is a new project available for grades Prek to 6 students.  It was created by Jennifer Wagner. Here is a blurb from her site:

Jennifer Wagner, creator of JenuineTech.com, has been successfully encouraging teachers since 1999 to use technology seamlessly in their PreK-6 classrooms. Using the tools of the Internet (Web 2.0), Jennifer will help you understand how technology will help you make the most of your time in a variety of ways. Winning numerous awards for her creative ways in encouraging teachers to collaborate, her teaching style is very user friendly, creative, and personable.


Join in the fun as we learn about
extending a story, endangered animals, and verbs!

The project has three ideas that teachers could take part in with their students. The topics involve extending a story, endangered animals and verbs. As with  most of Jenn's projects there is a focus on creativity and innovation as well as collaboration. These are key skills for the 21st century.  If you are interested in learning more about this project please follow the link below.



Thursday, September 24, 2009

100 Best Youtube Videos for Educators

I came across this listing of the 100 best youtube videos for eductators and wanted to share it with everyone. As we all know, youtube.com is blocked in our schools for many reasons. Did you know that you can download youtube videos from your computer at home for free! My favorite resource to do this is www.keepvid.com . All you have to do is

  1. Find the video you like on youtube.

  2. Copy the URL address of the vidoe.

  3. Go to www.keepvid.com

  4. Past the URL of the video into the URL bar at the top of the page and click download.

  5. You will be prompted to download the video.

  6. You can then bring the video to school on a flash drive.

  7. You can play the video from your computer, insert it into a powerpoint or smart  notebook project.

Here is the link to the 100 best youtube videos for educators. Enjoy!


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Space Program Project Resources

>I was recently asked by a faculty member to assist in finding resources for a project related to the current space exploration initiatives. Specifically we are looking at what is going on with the international space station and the current space shuttle discovery launch. The outcome of this project is for students to present a pro or con argument for the current space program.

We are in the beginning stages of organizing the project. However, I decided to start posting the resources I collect on my wiki. Currently there is a Hubble Telescope page on my wiki. I have decided to add my links for this project to the bottom of that page. I will provide the link below.

If anyone else is interested in a project like this please let me know. I will be happy to share resources and assist in creating the lessons.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Curriculumbits.com Online Interactive ELearning Teaching Resources

>Curriculumbits.com Online Interactive ELearning Teaching Resources

Shared via AddThis

I came across this great site today for use with an interactive whiteboard. Rather then explain it in my own words I copied their narrative directly from their about page below. Enjoy!

Established in 2006, Curriculumbits.com offer free online access to a growing range of interactive multimedia elearning resources. The online resource library contains games, quizzes, animations and videos in a variety of subjects. Resources have been produced according to key stage 3 and 4 of the UK National Curriculum for students aged 11 to 16. All resources are produced by elearning multimedia specialists in collaboration with every day teaching staff as a direct solution to their classroom requirements.

All of our resources are available to access online, completely free of charge in the library. Simply click the PLAY button.

You do not need to register your details to use our resources, although you can enjoy additional benefits if you decide to join us for free.

You are welcome to link to our resources from your school website, intranet, extranet, online curriculum or virtual learning environment (VLE) according to the terms of our license.

Use the bookmark button to save resources to your browser favourites or your preferred online service such as Del.icio.us, Facebook or mySpace. You can also use this button to email resources to your friends, colleagues or students.

From September 2008 Curriculumbits.com no longer offers the facility to download resources due to increased connectivity in classrooms which has reduced demand for offline services.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Have you created a Personal Learning Network yet?

I publish a monthly newsletter for my school district. In my last issue before the summer break I discussed personal learning networks. I provided 5 options that teachers and administrators could look into in order to begin to develop their network.

Technology has allowed for 24/7 learning on-demand. I started building my personal learning network about 3 years ago. I have never been so excited about learning since it became so easy. I have access to thousands of individuals who share the same interests as i do. Many of these are professional contacts, but some are individuals with similar personal interests Ex: fly fishing, travel and the health/fitness. I check/communicate with my network many times throughout the day. I learn something new every time I do.

My network consists of the following:

A maintain a feed aggregator page. I use Igoogle and Google Reader. I subscribe to a number of blogs. Each time someone updates their blog postings i receive an update in my aggregator. I subscribe to blogs that focus on many topics. Primarily i subscribe to Educational Technology Blogs. I also subscribe to some that relate to my personal interests.  This has probably been the number 1 resource in my network.

I am a member of Twitter. Currently my network consists of about 300 followers. I network with individuals who work in educational technology. I also follow espn, cnn and some other organizations that I am interested in. I must admit that i do not spend a lot of time on Twitter. I find it hard to find the time to stay connected. I do not use mobile technologies to connect to it. However, every single time I do interact with my network i walk about with at least 3-5 new resources, ideas or thoughts. I sometimes use it to throw out questions. It has been a valuable resource for me.

I am a member a few social networks. Primarily I am a member of NING networks. The most notable is www.classroom20.com. This is a network for educators who utilize web2.0 tools and technology in general in their classrooms. Recently they have reached 25,000 members. I could go on an on about the value here but i will leave it at " you have to join".  I subscribe to updates in the forum in my feed aggregator.

I read a number of publications. Most of them I subscribe to in my feed reader. I can get a quick snapshot of the new articles. I can then decide which ones are of interest to me. It makes it very easy to stay on top of multiple publications without spending a lot of time. The best part is that it is free. A few that i read are eschool news, the journal, technology and learning and ASCD publications.

I maintain a social bookmarking account. I use www.delicious.com. This is a powerful tool. Social bookmarking sites allow you to save your favorite websites on a website. This means they are accessible from any computer with an internet connection. You add and access bookmarks easily by installing a couple of buttons on your internet browser toolbar. I have organized thousands of sites with tags (keywords that you apply to sites you bookmark). The real power of this service is the social aspect. You can search and share bookmarks with everyone that uses the service. I have networked with many individuals who share the same interests that i do. I am constantly reviewing their resources in addition to my own. It is such a time saver and a valuable tool.

Open courseware and video sharing are the newest addition to my network. www.academicearth.org, www.ted.com, itunesU,  ustream, and other open course providers are some of my favorites. i can watch short videos or take complete courses on topics that are of interest to me professionally and personally. I can even take part in live workshops. I am really starting to take advantage of these resources lately.

I encourage you to start to develop your own personal learning network. If you would like to read my newsletter that discusses RSS feeds and developing you "PLN" you can view it here. I invite you to add me to your networks and feeds as a start. I will share my contact info below.

twitter: walkerd
delicious: dwalker500
Classroom20: dwalker500
Skype: dwalker500
Gmail: dwalker500

Thursday, June 18, 2009

If it is on Google .... I can take it. Why is this wrong?

>Danielle Smith from St. Louis can tell you exactly why. Someone else could grab YOUR picture.

As NPR reports, a Czech supermarket chain used a family photo Ms. Smith posted online as the centerpiece of their advertising campaign.

Many of our students are under the impression that "if it is on the web, it is free". We have an obligation to address these teachable moments that come up in our classrooms. Information literacy and copyright are two areas of concern among most educators in the country. It is the responsibility of all content areas to address this in our courses.

I have a number of resources available on my wiki that can be used to educate both teachers and students with regards to Internet Safety, Copyright, and Information Literacy.

After reading that article one lesson I have learned is to be sure that you only post your best looking pictures online!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

>Create Interactive Games for Review

>With the end of the year upon us I have noticed a lot of faculy members looking for creative opportunities to create review lessons. The website Classroom Games and More hosts a number of game templates. The templates are all made in PowerPoint. All you have to do is plug in your information and you are ready to go. These games will work well on a smartboard.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Connecting Your Curriculum & Students with Subject Area Experts

Are you looking for a way to connect your content with real life experiences for students? Are your students struggling to see the relevance in reading a particular story or learning a particular critical thinking skill? Would you like to have a Nobel Laureate show your students how he or she uses the skills your are instructing?

The open source teaching project is an excellent tool to make real-world connections between your curriculum and the work done everyday by industry leading professionals.

A recent article in the THE JOURNALstated this about the site:

The open source teaching project is a Tennessee based program that helps students make real-life connections to academic content. It is a free digital resource that brings students up close with leading professionals across a variety of fields to help them see the real-world relevance of their studies."

This program send interviewers to speak face to face with experts in a range of fields. The interviews are posted online and are free for anyone to access. They also include teacher resources, lesson plans and blogs.

One section of the site contains interviews with college admissions officers. Districts who have utilized these interviews in instruction have witnessed a distinct transition in the way students organize and prepare college admissions materials after taking part in these lessons.

A majority of the interviews are audio only. However, they are in the process of adding video components as well. Included on the site are the questions that are asked for each area of expertise. I found this to be a valuable resource. With the technology we have available in Jefferson we could easily conduct some of our own interviews. We are also setup to host video conferencing sessions. These questions would be useful for those projects.

I encourage you to take a look at this resource. If you are interested in putting together a lesson using these tools I would be happy to assist. If you would like to organize your own video conference or interview with a subject area expert please let me know. I am always here to assist.

Enjoy this new resource!

Connecting With Subject Area Experts

>Are you looking for a way to connect your content with real life experiences for students? Are your students struggling to see the relevance in reading a particular story or learning a particular critical thinking skill? Would you like to have a Nobel Laureate show your students how he or she uses the skills your are instructing?

The open source teaching project is an excellent tool to make real-world connections between your curriculum and the work done everyday by industry leading professionals.

A recent article in the THE JOURNAL stated this about the site:

"The open source teaching project is a Tennessee based program that helps students make real-life connections to academic content. It is a free digital resource that brings students up close with leading professionals across a variety of fields to help them see the real-world relevance of their studies."

This program send interviewers to speak face to face with experts in a range of fields. The interviews are posted online and are free for anyone to access. They also include teacher resources, lesson plans and blogs.

One section of the site contains interviews with college admissions officers. Districts who have utilized these interviews in instruction have witnessed a distinct transition in the way students organize and prepare college admissions materials after taking part in these lessons.

A majority of the interviews are audio only. However, they are in the process of adding video components as well. Included on the site are the questions that are asked for each area of expertise. I found this to be a valuable resource. With the technology we have available in Jefferson we could easily conduct some of our own interviews. We are also setup to host video conferencing sessions. These questions would be useful for those projects.

I encourage you to take a look at this resource. If you are interested in putting together a lesson using these tools I would be happy to assist. If you would like to organize your own video conference or interview with a subject area expert please let me know. I am always here to assist.

Enjoy this new resource!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

>Interactive Websites and PowerPoint Presentations

>The following website was introduced to me by Sherry Brzostowski, White Rock School. The main site has a number of interactive websites that are categorized by subject. These are great sites to use on an interactive whiteboard, center activities, or as part of a larger project.

The content that I found even more interesting on this site after exploring further is the huge collection of PowerPoint presentations compiled for Language Arts k-12. There are PowerPoint presentations that can be downloaded for many of the topics covered in the language arts curriculum. The largest collection is for grades 3-5. In many cases you could use these presentations or modify them to fit your plans.

The presentations are free to use. If you do use them I would recommend citing the source and maybe sending them a note letting them know you found their resource helpful. I am sure they would like to hear that.



Tuesday, June 9, 2009


>Visuwords is a visual dictionary / thesaurus. When you lookup a word it displays the results in "Web" format.

I will let the creators explain:

"Visuwords™ online graphical dictionary — Look up words to find their meanings and associations with other words and concepts. Produce diagrams reminiscent of a neural net. Learn how words associate.

Enter words into the search box to look them up or double-click a node to expand the tree. Click and drag the background to pan around and use the mouse wheel to zoom. Hover over nodes to see the definition and click and drag individual nodes to move them around to help clarify connections.

It's a dictionary! It's a thesaurus!
Great for writers, journalists, students, teachers, and artists.
The online dictionary is available wherever there’s an internet connection.
No membership required. "

This is a great tool to use for whole group instruction on a smartboard. It can also be used by students individually. Introduce this tool during a pre-writing session. It can pair very well with mind mapping software such as kidspiration, inspiration or www.bubbl.us. r

Monday, June 8, 2009

>Bibliography Maker

>I came across this resource today. http://www.bibme.org It is free web based bibliography maker. You can search for a book, journal, website, film, newspaper article or other publication. Once you find the source you select it. The site will create a bibliography.

Here is what the owners of the site say:

BibMe is a free automatic bibliography generator that supports MLA, APA, Chicago, and Turabian formatting. BibMe leverages databases provided by Amazon, FindArticles, Yahoo! News, and CiteULike to quickly and accurately AutoFill citation information for you. BibMe will then format the citation information according to the rules and guidelines of the style guides. If you prefer, you can enter your citation information manually. BibMe also contains a quick citation guide to show students the correct syntax for citing in various formats.

Once you have added all of your resources you can download them into MS word with the click of a button. You now how a complete works cited page. Take a look at bibme today!


Thursday, June 4, 2009

>My Own Books

>I learned about this next site from Larry Ferlazzo's Blog. He Teaches English Language Learners. My thoughts are that this site would be a great resource for not only ESL Students but also any struggling readers.

Here is a quote from Larry's blog:

My own books is a fantastic site for fostering reading skills and thus, English language acquisition. It was created by Anne Pemberton, a retired Special Ed. teacher and she has done a marvelous job.
Students simply chose a story they want to read. Then, they put in their own name and BINGO! The story is all about them! You can print or read on the screen with pictures to support comprehension. Really cool and I suggest students print these out and share their stories. A great way to create a classroom , personalized library!


>Create a Digital Story with Grades k-3

>Good Morning,

I came across this excellent resource that was posted on the blog of Kevin Jarrett. It is a digital story tool developed by Carnegie University. It is called My Story Maker.

My StoryMaker is a free, easy-to-use, Flash-based interactive story development platform developed by The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, with the generous support of Carnegie Mellon University and The Grable Foundation. The basic idea is that you start by selecting characters and a goal:

You then are given an editor and a guide to help you build the story.

All you have to do is drag and drop and arrange the objects where you want them. You can add dialogue and pages to your story. Once you build your story you can choose to share your story. This will generate a six-digit number that can be plugged into the Main Site to search for the story. You also have the option to print you story. It prints as a foldable book and can be printed in color. The site does not require any registration. You just visit the site and start your story.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

>Novellinks - A resource for Teaching Novels in Grades 6-12

>I recently was introduced to this site and wanted to share it with everyone. It is Novel links. The site contains an amazing collection of reading strategy resources for most of the popular novels taught in grades 6-12. It also contains a number of resources for literacy units.

Please visit the site and click on Reading Resources.

Novel Links - Click Here


>Google Docs

>Would you like to be able to access your word, powerpoint, excel or pdf files from any computer? Have you ever created a document at home and forgot to bring it with you to work? Would you like to be able to work collaboratively on a document? Would you like your students to collaborate on a powerpoint presentation? Would you like to share a word document or powerpoint presentation with another faculty member and not have to email it or post it in a common shared folder where it could be manipulated?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then you must check out Google Docs. Google Docs is a web based version of MS office. You can create and host word, excel, powerpoint and PDF documents. They are accessible from any computer with an internet connection. You can upload all of your existing office documents. This includes office 2007 docs as of this week!

Google docs also allows you to share your documents with others. It allows multiple users to collaborate on a single document. With its forms features you can create a form that will collect answers/data from individuals.

The best feature is that it is totally free!!! All you need is a google account to get started.

Stay tuned for more details and workshops on Google Docs.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A "Delicious" alternative to Google Search

I have been a member of Delicious for a long time now. I have used it primarily to bookmark all of the great websites I find online. I am a big fan of social bookmarking. However, it has only been within the last year that I really started taking advantage of the "social" aspect of  social bookmarking.

For those of you who are not on the social bookmarking wagon yet, here is a short summary. Traditional bookmarking of sites consisted of adding them to your favorites. You can add the site and place it in a folder. While this is helpful it has limitations. The major limitation is that you can only access these favorites from the computer you saved them on. You are also limited in the how you can organize them for retrieval.

Social bookmarking is web based. You can access your boomarked sites from any computer with an internet connection. These services also allow you to add 'tags" to your  bookmarks. Tags are keywords that you assign to a bookmark. You use these tags to organize and search your bookmarks. You can bundle your tags to be better organized. This is the equivalent of putting them in folders.  By downloading some toolbar buttons you can add and access sites in your delicious account right from your Internet explorer or firefox toolbar.

The most power feature of social bookmarking is the "social" aspect.  Delicous and other social boomarking services are a network. You not only have access to sites that you bookmark, but you also have access to sites that other delicious users bookmarked. The service allows you to add members to your network to make it easy to view their bookmarks. You may be interested in this if you know of other users that share the same interests or profession. You do not have to have someone as part of your network to search their bookmarks.

This is the feature that i have only started to really use in the past year. It has replaced about 40% of my Google searches. You can search by tags on the site. The results that are returned will be seperated by 1. sites you bookmarked, 2.S ites your network bookmarked, 3 Sites that users on delicious bookmarked.

A simple search on "smartboard Math" returned hundreds of websites that other delicous users had bookmarked. What a time saver. Instead of sifting through thousands of google results i have  list of a couple hundred pre-approved sites. Other users thought these sites were good enough to bookmark. If one of these people are in my network then the validity and relevancy of the result is even stronger.

Planning a trip? A tag search of "rome" and possibly "restaurants" should provide a variety of bookmarked sites.  What about "social studies" "lesson plans"?

Every  post has a number at the end of it. This is the number of people who also bookmarked this site. By clicking on the number you get to see the usernames of the people. This is a great way to add users to your network that share a common interest.

Delicious has become one of the web2.0 tools that i use everyday. As it grows and my network grows it is becoming even more valuable. I encourage you to check out this resource.  I have put together a social bookmarking tutorial page on my wiki. There are printable instructions for using delicious as well as screencast tutorials.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

>Math Facts Websites

>I have assembled a list of websites that offer games to practice math facts. I posted these sites on my wiki. The link is Math Facts Websites I you have any recommended additions please add a comment to this blog posting with the name and website address.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

>Create a Booklet

>I came across this site recently. It is called Booklet Creator and can be found at http://bookletcreator.com/

Booklet creator will take any PDF document that you upload to it and convert it to a multipage booklet. You can select the number of pages and size.

This could be a great resource for teachers and PTA's that want to take documents and turn them into booklets for parents.

You can convert documents to PDF format by using adobe acrobat. If you do not have acrobat you can use PRIMO PDF. It is free. http://primopdf.com

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

No Child Left "with a right brain"

If you have not read Daniel Pink's book "A Whole New Mind" i recommend picking it up for some summer reading.  The book discusses the tranisition of our world economy and the skills that are necessary to be successful in the 21st century. Pink discusses how "Right brain thinkers are wired for 21st century success".

Your left brain is logical, linear, by-the-numbers; the right side is creative, artistic, empathetic. Our country is entering a new era -- the so-called conceptual age -- during which right-brained skills such as design and storytelling will become far more crucial than traditionally left-brained skills such as accounting and computer programming.

While the latter skills are readily outsourced, transformative abilities such as empathy and creativity are crucial in a new age "animated by a different form of thinking and a new approach to life," he writes.

Daniel Pink  in his interview with Oprah Winfrey stated:

Pink: In many professions, what used to matter most were abilities associated with the left side of the brain: linear, sequential, spreadsheet kind of faculties. Those still matter, but they're not enough. What's important now are the characteristics of the brain's right hemisphere: artistry, empathy, inventiveness, big-picture thinking. These skills have become first among equals in a whole range of business fields.

The partnership for 21st Century skills has developed an outline of the skills necessary to be successful. 

1. Core Subjects and 21st Century Themes
2. Learning and Innovation Skills
      *Creativity and Innovation
      *Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
      *Communication and Collaboration
3. Information, Media and Technology Skills

Based on this reality why are our schools moving in the opposite direction. Never before has there been such a focus on left brain education. Standardized testing has taken over. Many schools are seeing their fine arts departments shrink to make room for test prep courses. Computer labs are being scheduled for test prep applications. Project based learning and technology integration are pushed aside because of time constraints. Time that is being taken up by core subject curriculum that is an inch thick and a mile wide.

We are even seeing physical education classes limited in order to extend time in Math and Science courses. The focus on testing has out weighed the fact that obesity rates among our children are at an all time high. Music, art, wood shop, and robotics courses must defend its existence with each budget.

We are creating a educational system were every student is expected to have the same needs (nclb) and are expected to follow the same path (left brain driven). We are expecting all students to master left brain subject areas and pushing aside the importance of fine arts. Everyone is being prepared for college?

In order to break this cycle we as educators must push for alternative instructional strategies. Allow for creativity and design in the classroom. Utilize technology with your students for activities other then keyboarding, test prep and skill and drill. Get better at analyzing the data that you are generating from test prep activities so you can transform your instruction to address the needs and allow for more right brain activities. Look to design lessons that incorporate left brain subject areas but allow for the development of the right brain.  Develop alternative assessments that allow students to demonstrate understanding through assessments that showcase their creativity. Give our students some flexibility to explore their creative side. We owe it to them to prepare them for their future not the future we prepared ourselves for.

Monday, May 18, 2009

>Interactive Whiteboard Sites for Music

>I added a number of new interactive sites for music to be used on an interactive whiteboard. Please visit the interactive whiteboard page on my wiki.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

>Interactive Benjamin Franklin Timeline

>The Benjamin Franklin Timeline is an interactive exhibit developed for the Benjamin Franklin traveling library exhibit. The interactive timeline contains images, text, animation and interactive exhibits. This is a good resource for an interactive white board. http://www.benfranklin300.org/timeline/index.html

You can also check out the main site www.benfranklin300.org. Here you can view an online exhibit developed to celebrate Ben's life and accomplishments.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Twitter with an Astronaut from space

The Atlantis space shuttle is en-route to the Hubble telescope. You can follow @Astro_Mike on twitter to witness the first real Twitter update from outer space. Mike Massimino will be twittering from space.

I see an opportunity to use this with students in elementary and middle school. If the timing is right you may be able to engage in a conversation with him.

>New Google Search Options - Timeline, Map and Info

>Google has introduced some new experimental search features. See results on a timeline, map, or in context of other information types. With these views, Google's technology extracts key dates, locations, measurements, and more from select search results so you can view the information in a different dimension.

Timeline and map views work best for searches related to people, companies, events and places. Info view shows all the data found for each result, to help you select the best choice.

You can access these features by visiting the experimental search page in Google Labs and turning on the feature.

You also can add the following terms to your searches to utilize the features.

In the search bar type: Thomas Jefferson view:timeline
The results will display in timeline view.

Info View:
In the search bar type: space exploration view:info
You will have the opportunity to switch the search results by: Dates, Measurements, Locations and Images.

Map View:
In the search bar type:
olympics view:map
The results will appear in map view.

Google has also released a news timeliner: http://newstimeline.googlelabs.com/. It allows users to view news and other data sources on a browsable, graphical timeline. Available data sources include recent and historical news, scanned newspapers and magazines, blog posts, sports scores and information about various types of media (i.e. music albums and movies).

To dive into the Google News Timeline experience, simply enter your topic of choice, pick out the relevant source and specify the date. The result is an interactive news timeline based on your personal interests. By the way, you can set the time scale to days, weeks, months, years, or even decades!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

>Interactive Whiteboard Resources

>As promised I will be providing everyone with interactive white board resources. I have organized a number of resources on my wiki . There you will find resources and training materials for all grade levels.

In this posting I would like to highlight one resource in particular. It can be found here http://www.bgfl.org/bgfl/15.cfm?s=15.

This site contains a listing of interactive sites organized by grade level and subject. They can be used on both a smart and intelliboard interactive board.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Example of a Technology Infused Lesson

Here is my example of technology integration using a project on global warming. I welcome comments, concerns or additions.

Topic: Global Warming

1. Create a feed aggregator page. Subscribe to feeds on the topic. You can subscribe to blogs, news feeds and searches. (igoogle, pageflakes, google reader)
2.  Gather a number of resources and bookmark. (dilicious, diigo

3.  Organize your facts on a Group wiki. (wikispaces, pbwiki)
4.  Develop questions to ask an expert in the field. Organize these questions on a wiki and ask the expert to respond. You could also organize a video conference with this expert. (wikispaces, skype)
5.  Find blogs on the topic. Review postings and comment on ones of interest.
6. Develop your own blog on the topic. Post your opinions and ideas. Ask for feedback. Share your blog with the individuals who's blog you read. (blogger, wordpress)
7.  Organize your research into a final outcome. You could create a multimedia presentation, website, wiki, video or presentation. (ms photostory, movie maker, wikispaces)
8. Publish your final outcome for others to comment on.  (Voicethread, teacher tube, you tube, school tube)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Middle School Technology Literacy Curriculum

What is the ideal middle school technology literacy curriculum? What is the perfect course structure? Should their be a formal computer applications class at all? Should the technology program be totally infused into the content areas? If we select that method do we need a formal lab or should we be looking at laptops and netbooks?

I am currently working on a middle school curriculum for a 6, 7, and 8'th grade computer course. These are the questions I have been asking myself. What should be the role of the computer applications teacher. Should the primary focus be on developing fundamental skills using various applications? Should the focus be totally on content area using the available technology were applicable? Should the computer applications teacher be instructing the students on how to use tools like photostory, movie maker, powerpoint, wikis and blogs so that when a classroom teacher infuses them they do not have to teach the basics? If we do not have formal lessons on double spacing text, creating a table, editing a  picture, were will the students learn it? These are not the things they are doing at home. In many cases the classroom teacher are not knowledgeable themselves to spend class time teaching these mini lessons. The frustration of having to show "the simple things" causes these teachers to not want to utilize the technology.

My current opinion is that we still need to teach the fundamentals of applications. However, in a computer applications class we can develop project based lessons that culminate with the creation of a final project. Within this project exists a series of mini-lessons that will address the basics of each application. There also will arise a series of 'teachable moments" that can be the most valuable moments in a lesson.

An example that i am providing is the project of creating a digital story/documentary on a global issue using MS photostory 3. This project addresses a few of the cccs in our state. It is interdisciplinary and is authentic and relevant.  The outcome will be a video presentation. Within this project are a series of mini-lessons.

1. File and folder management - where to save your images, project and documents and how to retrieve them on a network.
2. Internet Searching - How to find the info you are looking for, searching strategies, image searches, sources.
3. Information Literacy- How to validate sources of information. Blogs, wikipedia, databases etc..How to cite online sources.
4. Working with pictures- How to select appropriate image resolution, how to save an image, copyright, creative commons, image manipulation in photoshop or other software.
5. Writing and Storyboarding - How to organize a script. Planning your story.
6. Creating of you Multimedia Project Using MS Photostory. -Narration, transitions, music.
7. Publishing your work and commenting on the work of others. - Peer review. Collaboration with a school in another part of the world. Possibly a school who is a victim of your global issue. Discussion through a wiki.

This is one example of how the "computer class" can remain a relevant course and a valuable addition to a school.  By working on the fundamentals of the tools in this class, the students are entering their core content classes with the knowledge necessary to utilize these tools as an alternative assessment. A content area teacher can offer students the option of creating a multimedia presentation, website, wiki, blog or podcast as an assessment of their understanding. The necessity to spend time teaching these skills in the classroom should not exist.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Moodle Vs. Sharepoint

I have started to research the benefits of Moodle vs. Sharepoint. I have a couple of needs that I would like to address. I first want to provide an opportunity for teachers in my middle and high school to be able to extend their classroom beyond the 4 walls of their room. I would like to introduce tools such as blogs, wiki's, multimedia etc.. Moodle seems to be my best option for setting up these virtual courses. It is a perfect solution to have all of these tools centralized in one place. It seems easy to use and simple to setup. The best part is that it is free.  I have worked with moodle briefly on my own professional development site.

My second goal is to provide an intranet portal for our high school. Currently faculty members receive numerous emails throughout the day. These emails include: daily attendance lists, lists of students attending field trips, lunch menus etc.. Many times we receive two or three revisions of each memo. What I would like to do is to create an intranet webpage to host all of this information. Through windows group policy we could make this page the Internet explorer home page for all staff members.

Based on my research to date it appears that Sharepoint will work best for this problem. Our district currently has a license for sharepoint server 2003. This is the full version of sharepoint. There is a free version of sharepoint called sharepoint services that is available on any windows 2003 server. Although it does not have all of the features on the full version. The free version would most likely be a good enough solution for the project.

Sharepoint appears to manage announcements and document distribution/revisions very well. It is also LDAP compatible. This should allow all authenticated users in the school to not have to log in. It is fully integrated with active directory. 

Moodle does not appear to organize an intranet start page as well as Sharepoint. I have found that everything is based on courses. Once you create a course you have the ability to do everything that I require. I am concerned about staff having to click too deep to get what they need. I want to make it simple to retrieve the information they require. 

Sharepoint does not appear to organize the class materials as well as Moodle. I have not found an option for gradebooks or quizzes. Moodle also appears to organizes the class sites in a much more user friendly manner.

There was a discussion on this same topic on Classroom 2.0.

I welcome input from everyone regarding this comparison. My current decision is to use both. I will use Moodle for courses and sharepoint to manage information and documents sent to faculty members.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Wikipedia - The debate

Wikipedia is the number one resource that students cite when conducting research. It usually is one of the top 10 search results for most topics researched by students. Because wikipedia can be edited by anyone most teachers question the accuracy of the data. In most cases, faculty members will not accept or recommend wikipedia as a primary source.

While I am in agreement that not all of the information is accurate I have found that most is. I like to utilize wikipedia when conducting research. I find that complex topics are explained in an easy to read format. I typically site information from wikipedia in my professional development classes. I also use it to understand more complex IT information that i need to know for my network admin responsibilities.  I think it is a great place to start. I do agree that all information found on wikipedia needs to be checked and double checked for accuracy. It should not be your primary or only source.

The greatest resource on Wikipedia is the references. At the bottom of all entries is a references section. There it cites all the sources of information used to create the entry. These references are an excellent place to continue your research. This is a much more refined and effective method for finding sources then going through thousands of google search results.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Connected Student

Take a look at this video from the people at Common Craft. www.commoncraft.com. They do an excellent job of explaining Web 2.0 technologies. The really hit the nail on the head with this video describing the connected student of today.




Saturday, March 7, 2009

New Core Curriculum Content Standards

My state has released a draft version of its new Core Curriculum Content Standards. They are posted online for anyone to comment on. Upon first review, my initial response is "finally" we are moving in the right direction. The content standards have shifted from simple skill and drill MS Office. These new content standards are focused on developing 21st century skills. There is a focus on collaboration, innovation, project based learning and design.

They have provided specific objectives as well as lesson ideas. Take a look at the standards and offer your comments.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Most Cost Effective Way to 1 to 1

Allowing faculty members and students to bring their laptops to school is the most cost effective way to get to 1 to 1. In most districts this is not an option. There is concerns about management of the laptops, virus and botnet attacks as well as network intrusions.

While these are all very valid concerns I believe that they can be addressed through infrastructure configurations. There are both old and new technologies that can control client access on a network which would eliminate most of these concerns. We have been successful in our district by making some minor configurations and an investment in infrastructure.

We implemented a managed wireless network. These networks are available from Cisco, Meru, Aruba, Trapese, Ruckus, and a few other. This type of network allows all of the access ponts to be managed by a controller. ON this wireless network we broadcast two SSID (these are the names of the wireless networks that the computers can see and connect to). One is for internal users (our school owned computers) and the other is for guests.

We segment our network in virtual lans (vlans). What that means in simple terms it that each network port is assigned to a group. Each group has different access and rights. This allows the students to not interrupt the admin network for example.

On our wireless network we assigned the SSID Guest to the Vlan Guest. By configuring Access Rules in our switches we have limited the guest account to only have access to the internet. They can not access anything else on the network. If a student brings in a laptop with a virus the virus is contained to that machine only. Because of the access rules and the vlans the virus cannot access any of our servers. This is how we allow teachers and students who bring their own laptops in to connect.

With all of the amazing web2.0 sites and tools available access to the internet only really does not limit what the student and teacher can accomplish. A $400 netbook and the guest internet access can go a long way.

In our network we have a Cisco 4507R Core Switch and HP Procurve switches at the access level. We have a vlan for admins, teachers, student, printers, computer lab, wifi and wifi guests. We use a MERU ABGN wireless network.

Please remember that the more computers you have accessing the internet the more bandwidth you will need. If you are concerned about students managing files you need to look into a web based classroom management solution. Moodle or schoolwires are two examples. Flash drives are also a good option. 

This is a simple explanation of how to setup your network. It should be designed by an IT professional. Just realize that most of these technologies already exist on your network. The required investment in infrastructure is significantly less then purchasing a laptop for every student.