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

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.

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.

You can also check out the main site 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: 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

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.