Friday, November 27, 2009

Bookmarks and Annotations on

A work in progress, I have started to categorize and annotate useful sites for education, K-12, as well as some other sites at The site is easy to use and provides a convenient way to categorize favorite sites for specific audiences. As of now, I have categorized sites with tags (labels), but have not limited access to defined audiences. I have the bookmarks alphabetized, but the list will grow, and I will continue to edit the annotations to make them more useful. Please let me know of sites worth adding, and keep in mind this is an ongoing project that will require continued maintenance to keep it current. Here is the link to the site to access my bookmarks. Please let me know how I can make the site more user friendly. Suggestions are always welcomed. I see the annotations as way to end clutter! What about you? Maybe you want to start using if you have not already started an account.
Since writing this post, I have now switched to for maintaining annotated bookmarks of helpful online sources. You can access my diigo account at, and you will a growing list of online sites to explore. Suggest you try if you are not already.

New Site Launches Library of Educational Videos

Just launched in October 2009, provides educational videos for students, ages 3 to 18. The videos are intended for use in the classroom or for viewing at home as an extension activity.

The site is set up like a wiki, and, in fact, Sr. Larry Sanger, one of the co-founders of Wikipedia, initiated the concept. The site offers pages for teachers, students, and parents, and allows for contributing videos and commenting upon videos viewed. As a new site, its evolution and use will be interesting to follow. I just sampled several of the videos. You'll find below the category, title, URL, and site's recap of the video. Check out the site, and let us know what you think, keeping in mind the site launched just a few weeks ago.

“Phineas Gage’
“This video was made for the Connecticut College kids judge neuroscience fair. It tells the harrowing story of Phineas Gage and the amazing discoveries gained from his brain injury.”

Category: Science/Earth Science
“Why Study Earth Science”
"A geoscientist stresses the importance of learning earth science. He also explains the changes on our planet through geological time. The scientist also stresses the importance of learning earth science. It is a six minute video and contains nice photographs and good narration. "

Social Studies/Geography
“The Geography Tutor? What is Geography?”
"A Geography Tutor Video. Video answers the questions: What do geographers mean when they talk about culture? Culture can be defined as a way of life that distinguishes a people from another group. Cultural traits can be explained in religion, language, system of government, customs, and beliefs. Also discusses; culture region - which is an area occupied by people who share one or more cultural trails, culture hearth - which is a place where important ideas began and from which they spread to other areas. Video is of good quality and appropriate for students in elementary school and middle school." Ages 7 – 13

“Basic Math Lesson: Fractional Expressions
"Concepts covered: Decimal Fraction, Percentage, and Ratio. "Ages 10-18

Languages/Spanish/Spanish Vocabulary
“Rolling R’s Days of the Week”
"Instructor Larry Keim explains the days of the week in Spanish. Find out how to say the days of the week and how to talk about the different days of the week using some simple grammar and phrases."

Languages/Spanish/Native Conversation in Spanish
“Spanish Activities and Transportation”
"Watch as the instructor tells about her childhood and the different activities that she liked to do, and different modes of travel and transportation. This lesson can be used for intermediate to advanced learners as a tool for listening comprehension."

Learn about the Site:; check the Press Release

Friday, November 20, 2009

Facebook and Twitter for Professional Development

Here are examples of how these two social networking sites can be used in the educational setting. Both come from Teacher Magazine that maintains a Facebook site and a Twitter site. Looking at these two examples will show alternative ways to use these sites. How else might these sites, Facebook and Twitter, be used in the actual classroom setting with students? What kind of Facebook site might you set up with students to engage them in the learning process, for instance?

Teacher Magazine on Facebook

Teacher Magazine on Twitter

Did You Know

The Did You Know videos address exponential growth. This specific one, Did You Know 4.0, focuses on the rapid growth of online technologies. Take a look, and let us know your response. By the way, the video was made with Apple KeyNote. Have any of you tried it? Have you heard about the product?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Why Let Students Blog in the Classroom

This video provides numerous reasons for letting students blog in your classroom. View it, and please take a moment to comment. Does the video spark your interest in using blogging in the classroom ? If so, how and why? If not, why not?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What's A Wiki?

Okay, so you want a simple explanation of what a wiki is and why use one? Here is a YouTube that I found, "Wikis in Plain English." You can also find on YouTube and TeacherTube tutorials for using wikis such as and Wikispaces has a direct link for K-12 Wikispaces.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

7th Grader's Sample Photo Story 3

Below is a sample of a Photo Story 3 video created by a 7th grader (Lauren) using Photo Story 3 for the first time. The video was created as one part of a unit in the social studies curriculum on the American Revolution. Within the unit of study, students were to assume the role of an American Revolution War figure and create a presentation from that figure's point of view. Students were required to include in their presentations specific points, for example, factual information about the various battles and background on the War. Students had the option of using PowerPoint, Photo Story 3, MovieMaker, or iMovie for the project. The teacher recommended Photo Story 3 for those who felt competent with PowerPoint but were not quite ready to use MovieMaker or iMovie. The teacher used a rubric with numerous component parts to evaluate the final project and required that students submit a written copy of their narration and a complete bibliography showing all sources used and where they were used in the presentation.

Let us know what you think of this use of Photo Story 3 to complement the social studies curriculum. To what extent do you think the creation of the video contributed to enduring understanding, long-term learning of concepts central to the curriculum?

Photo Story 3 In Less than 10 Minutes

Yesterday, I posted a blog with some tutorials for learning how to use Photo Story 3, an easy-to-use digital storytelling software program. I have since found another tutorial that goes through the process in about 8 minutes and will have you up and running. Check this video:

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Teachers Selling Their Wares on the Internet

Social network sites, such as Nings, allow teachers to share lesson plan ideas. Many teachers maintain websites where their lessons are readily available to others. But what about the selling and buying of lessons plans online. Check this front page article in the New York Times today: Selling Lesson Plans Online Raises Cash and Questions. Let us know what you think?

Image from the article, credit and photo caption:
Ruby Washington/The New York Times, Ms. Bohrer has sold 31 M&M counting exercises, which come with directions, sorting mats and work sheets, for $3 each.

Easy Moviemaking with Photo Story 3

Starting with this tutorial (see below embedded video), you can learn about Photo Story 3, a free download from Microsoft, and how to use it. After viewing the first tutorial, which shows the basics of assembling your photos and adding basic features, you can go on to the second and third tutorials, which show how to set timings for each visual in a movie, how to add transitions between the visuals, and how to add music. Although the three tutorials don't show how to add narration, for students using Photo Story 3, I highly recommend they add narration, as in writing their script, they will also gain practice with writing. They will also enjoy hearing their own voices in their movies. After watching the embedded video below, use the hyperlinks below it to access the second and third tutorials. I have also left links to two completed videos created by the person who authored the three tutorials. In addition, there is a link to another Photo Story tutorial that is worth viewing because it uses young children engaged in creating at art project, which might appeal to elementary school teachers. Let us know if you find the tutorials clear, even if all you do is watch the first tutorial. Although the tutorials are certainly helpful, downloading Photo Story 3 and just playing around with it, is probably all you need to get started. The program is easy to learn and rather intuitive, and an excellent introduction to movie making for young students in the elementary school or for any users who wants to create a movie from digital photos, scanned pictures, pictures found on the Internet, or a combination of the three.

Photos Story Tutorial # 2
Photo Story Tutorial # 3
Final version of Yosemite Park Photo Story based on the 3 tutorials
Photo Story of the author's bio (includes narration)
Photo Story 3 tutorial created with children engaged in an art project
To see a tutorial on how to add narration, view this tutorial, the first half of which reviews how to customize motion and the second half of which explains the ease with which narration is added: Narrate Your Pictures and Customize Motion
For those of you interested in using Photo Story to string together pictures already found on the Internet, perhaps by using the "Image" search feature in Google, this tutorial will give tips on creating a Photo Story with found images on the Internet. This video is very helpful for working with students who will find pictures on the Internet and want to know how to save them and what the minimum resolution (500 pixels) should be for the pictures not to look grainy (fuzzy) in the final movie. Because this video is so helpful for learning how to use Photo Story in the context of an actual movie that students might create for a class project, I have also embedded the YouTube. The topic for the movie was the culture of China. If you only have 8 minutes to learn about Photo Story 3, I suggest you start with this tutorial, viewing it from my blog or the YouTube link provided. In this way, you learn about Photo Story as well as see a finished product all within 8 minutes.

I know there a bit to absorb in the blog, but want to emphasize how much can be done with simple free tools like Photo Story 3. You will find a host of movies made with Photo Story at YouTube, TeacherTube, and other online video hosting sites. If you find ones worth sharing, please post their URL's. Happy hunting, and enjoy!

Kid's Video on What's a Wiki

Using the tool Xtranormal to make an animated video, a student produced What's a Wiki? After viewing the video, check out Wikispaces and Xtranormal. I found out about the video from the post, Intro to Wikis Video Created By Kids, on the "Free Technology for Teachers Blog." Have any of you used Wikispaces or heard of Xtranormal? What's your impression of the student video on wikis?

Friday, November 13, 2009

What Will Teaching Look Like in 2030?

What might public school education look like in two decades from now? In an online discussion sponsored by Teacher Magazine, Barnett Berry, president of Center for Teaching Quality, and three TeacherSolutions members (veteran science teacher, Chicago teacher-mentor, and middle school NYC English teacher) discuss the issue. They point to:

A mix of face-to-face and virtual learning
Online courses in which students apply their learning to solve real-world problems
Increased teacher engagement and seamless connections with online tools
New leadership roles for teachers including collaborating with policymakers
Increased emphasis on individualization based on the differentiated instruction model

If interested, read Berry’s full report: "The Teachers of 2030: Creating a Student-Centered Profession for the 21st Century.” As you think ahead, what's your vision of public school education in 2030?

Image from:

Monday, November 9, 2009

Cultural Diversity in the Classroom

Recently, I read in Dennis Baron's blog, The Web of Language, about two cases in which a teacher's lack of cultural sensitivity led to some issues with students. In one case, a student from India who was taught in his home country that there are four kinds of nouns--person, place, animal, and thing--got a "C" when he identified a "horse" as a "person" given the American choices of "person," "place," or "thing," in a Nouns Game. In another case, an American student studying in France was scorned when she stated there are "seven" continents, when in France, students are taught there are "five." Read the blog post: The Noun Game. How might we in using technology in the classroom also overlook an individual student's cultural background? Do you agree with the points that Baron makes about cultural differences in the educational setting? Have you had similar experiences?

Images are from Baron's post at the The Noun Game

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Top 100 Tools for Learning

Take a look at Top 100 Tools for Learning, which rates educational learning tools based on votes provided by educators. Compare this year's results with that of the last two years'. Use the 2008 and 2007 links to access those lists. Note also the box, "25 TOOLS: A TOOLBOX FOR LEARNING PROFESSIONALS, " with these two links: 25 tools, 25Tools Ning Community.

Slideshare, a site for storing PowerPoint presentations and other slide displays, gets a top billing, and Nings are receiving increasing attention as professional development tools. Twitter moved to first place from 11th in 2008. PowerPoint went from 8th place in 2008 to 12th in 2009, a sign that emerging Web 2.0 tools are overtaking Microsoft Office products. Slideshare is in 7th place this year, above PowerPoint by 4 spots. YouTube in 4th place this year was in 18th in 2008, a significant climb. Delicious, a social bookmarking site, slipped to second place this year from 1st last year as Twitter moved to the top. Let us know which of the multitude of sites you incorporate in your teaching or plan to consider for the future.

We will devote one night in class to Blogger/Blogspot, in 14th place; it's one of the easiest blogging tools to learn. The top 100 for 2008 is also available to view on SlideShare, and the 2009 list should be in SlideShare soon once the voting closes. In fact, you have until Nov. 15, 2009 to cast your vote for this year's winners.

Remember to bookmark Top 100 Tools for Learning for reference. There's lots to explore. I will soon update my list of "Education Websites" on this blog's second sidebar, and for class, you need to create your own annotated lists of valuable sites for teachers and students. The Top 100 Tools and the second sidebar on this blog might help you find some sites you want to include.
Image from the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies

Monday, November 2, 2009

It's Your Education: What Do You Think?

"Teach Your Teachers Well", an Opinion Editorial (Op-Ed) in today's The New York Times, offers advice on preparing teachers. Read through the editorial to see if you agree with the points. Let us know what you think. Basically, its author, Susan Engel, addresses: the poor quality of teacher education preparatory programs, the dearth of teacher preparation programs at high caliber institutions of higher education, the less than rigorous coursework required in one's content area to be and continue to be a teacher, and the lack of sustained mentoring for new teachers. Even the present system of student teaching is under attack. Engel claims student teachers are observed merely twice and not sufficiently mentored. What has been your observations and experiences of how teachers are prepared to enter the classroom and continue to be outstanding teachers? Do you agree with the points in the editorial? With which points do you differ? As for Engel's credentials, The Times notes she "is a senior lecturer in psychology and the director of the teaching program at Williams College."
Photo of Susan Engel from her faculty page at Williams College.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Another Teacher Commends Blogging

Read from one 6th grade teacher, named Teacher of the Year, practical ideas for using blogs in the classroom. Bill Ferriter of North Carolina offers these practical suggestions at Teacher Tips for Blogging in the Classroom. Here are some of his summative points for effective student blogging:

  • Emphasize the important role that quality writing plays in successful blogs.
  • Consider naming and training student editors.
  • Require that students use pseudonyms while writing.
  • Include—and regularly explore—visitor maps and statistics on page views.
  • Remind students to respond to commenters.

Check the link above to access his full description, covered in a 3-part blog, about tips for integrating blogs in the classroom. There are also numerous links off of Ferriter's site worth exploring. This might be one site you want to bookmark for future reference. Let us know which advice that Ferriter offers you find useful. His blog is sponsored by Teacher Leaders Network.

Photo of Bill Ferriter is from his blog site, The Tempered Radical at the Teachers Network Site, whose logo is also displayed.

To Catch a Thief

As stories abound about cheating in the computer age, we have to wonder if the blame lies with the tool or the person. Check out this story that Gina sent from The Hartford Courant, "Nationwide: Computers Increase Students' Temptation to Cheat." Even the title maligns the computer, but what or who is the real culprit? Do we stop using computers in schools?

This blog post from Education Week, Once A Cheater, Always a Cheater, addresses the fact that we need to start building character in students to counteract societal influences. Data from the blog post is based on the Johnson Institute of Character Survey, which you might want to look at as well.

Logos from Education week and Johnson Institute as posted on their sites.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Birthday: Internet Turns 40!

Forty years ago, on October 29, 1969, the first Internet message was sent. It was no more than a two characters, lo. The message went from one computer at UCLA to another at Sanford U., and it was considered a monumental event. To read more about the birth of the Internet, check out Dennis Baron's post on the Web of Language: The Internet: It was 40 years ago today that the series of tubes went live.... Also, here is a link to a Fox broadcast with one of the inventors of the Internet, Leonard Kleinrock, the UCLA professor, speaking on the eve of the 40th anniversary. Or watch this National Geographic video about the birth of the Internet. Is it time to get out the birthday candles and celebrate? Where would we be without the Internet? Where do you think we will be with telecommunications in another 40 years?

Photo is of Leonard Kleinrock, readily available on multiple Internet sites.

Sample e-Port with TaskStream

As some of you in the education program at Saint Joseph College know, we are using the TaskStream platform for creation of portfolios. Here is a professional one I found put together by Helen Barrett using TaskStream. Check out how she has organized her professional accomplishments. Let us know if you get any ideas for how to arrange your own e-portfolio and what to put in it after viewing Helen's sample. If you're not presenting doing an e-Port at the College, how else might you use one and for what purpose? Helen has also put together this same portfolio using other platforms, and you might want to check out some of these for comparison sake.
Helen's Portfolio in Googledocs
Helen's Portfolio in PBWiki
Helen's Portfolio in Google Sites
(image from Helen's TaskStream e-Port)

Why Use an E-Portfolio

Enjoy this short video on why use an e-portfolio for professional purposes. After viewing it, let us know what you think of the video and e-ports.

How to Embed a YouTube Video into Blogger

If you are using Blogger to create your Blog, and want to embed a YouTube into a blog posting, check out this video on how to accomplish the task.

Free Technology for Teachers

Check out this blog, Free Technology for Teachers. This site is worth bookmarking and returning to weekly for access to sites that you can use. Just today I discovered from this blog this slide show Tap Into the World of Comics: Strategies for Using Comics in the Classroom as well as Museum of Humor, which offers teachers a host of lesson plans. The left sidebar on Free Technology for Teachers offers a list of links for resources in teaching social studies, English/language arts, math, science, and foreign language, while the right sidebar has links to a variety of resources. The site's designer boasts: "In 2008 Free Technology for Teachers was awarded the Edublogger Award for 'Best Resource Sharing Blog.' Free Technology for Teachers is read by an audience of more than 8000 subscribers." I know this is one blog that I have bookmarked and follow weekly. Hope you do too, and share with us helpful resources you find through the blog. Yesterday, October 29, the blog's main post was on the Crash of 1929, with the 80th anniversary of the Black Market marked on that date. A link to CNN Student News to a short segment and a PBS series American Experience with an hour long video about the stock market crash of 1929 were provided as well as this offering for watching an American Experience: The Crash of 1929 by clicking here. I also learned about the Science Netlinks - Dozens of Science Lessons, including ones for integrating science into the elementary school classroom.

For those of you seeking videos beyond YouTube these are offered:

Great Alternatives to YouTube
Dozens of More Resources
Teacher Tube
Edu Blogs TV
Ted - Ideas Worth Spreading

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Need A Laugh?

Looking for cartoons on the Internet to clip into your multimedia work, check out We Blog Cartoons by Dave Walker, who invites views to grab his artwork and use it freely. Here's a sample.
Let us know if you find one you like.

Why Use Blogs in the Classroom

In browsing through the Web 2.0 Ning, I found some compelling reasons posted for using blogs in the classroom.

Ways to Use Blogs in The Classroom
The following ideas are based on suggestions made by Anne Davis
"1) Students can use blogs to create a reflective, community-generated journal to reflect on their learning experiences.
2) Provide some how-to type instructions on using specific skills/strategies in the class
3) Explore important issues. "

"Teachers can use a blog to...

1) Post class-related information such as calendars, events, homework assignments, rubrics, and other pertinent class information.
2) Post assignments based on literature readings/content-specific concepts and have students respond.
3) Communicate with administrators, other teachers, parents, community members, and/or anyone else interested in what students are doing.
4) Post prompts for writing.
5) Provide examples of classwork, vocabulary activities, or explanations of concepts.
6) Provide online readings for your students to read, research, and react to.
7) Gather and organize Internet-based resources/rubrics for a specific course, providing links to appropriate sites and annotating the links as to what is relevant about them.
8) Post photos/links to downloadable files and comment on class activities.
9) Invite student comments or postings on issues in order to give them an opportunity to develop a writing voice.
10 Publish examples of good student work completed in class.
11) Showcase student questions, observations, work, ideas, art, poetry, and creative stories.
12) Create a dynamic teaching site, posting not only class-related information, but also activities, discussion topics, links to additional information about topics students are studying in class, and suggested/selected readings to inspire learning.
13) Create a reading circle based on content-specific reading passages.
14) Create an online book club (note: books can be fiction, nonfiction, or merely related to a concept being explored).
15) Make use of the commenting feature to have students publish messages on topics (thereby giving them an opportunity to practice giving constructive feedback).
16) Post tasks to carry out project-based learning tasks with students.
build a class newsletter, using student-written articles and photos they take.
17) Link your class with another class somewhere else in the world."

Anne continues, "You can encourage your students to use a blog to share...

1) their reactions to thought-provoking questions.
2) their reactions to photos you post.
3) journal entries.
4) results of surveys they carry out as part of a class unit.
5) their ideas and opinions about topics discussed in class."

And, Anne goes on, "You can have your students create their own weblogs to...
1) complete class writing assignments.
2) create an ongoing portfolio of samples of their writing.
3) express their opinions on topics you are studying in class.
4) write comments, opinions, or questions on daily news items or issues of interest.
5) discuss activities they did in class and tell what they think about them (You, the teacher, can learn a lot this way!).
6) write about class topics, using newly-learned vocabulary words and idioms.
7) showcase their best writing pieces."

Anne concludes, "You can also ask your class to create a shared weblog to...
1) complete project work in small groups, assigning each group a different task.
2) showcase products of project-based learning.
3) complete a WebQuest."

With all these ideas that Anne Davis has listed, perhaps you have found some that appeal to you. Which would you consider?

Cartoon image found on Dave Walkers Cartoon WebBlog. Other images are readily available online and found at numerous URLs.

Top 25 Websites for Teachers

American Association of Libraries posts the Top 25 Websites for Teaching and Learning. Check out the list, and let us know if you use any of the sites professionally. Which sites pique your interest? Which would you explore using for your teaching? Another recommended site for teachers is PBS Teachers for featured teacher resources by grade level and subject area. Let us know what you find there that's of value to you. What are your favorite sites for teaching and learning? What would make your Top Ten list?

Nings in Education

Looking for a job as a new teacher? Looking to connect with other teachers even if you have a job? Nings, professional social networking sites, are expanding exponentially. Check out this article The World’s Largest English Department to find out how teachers and would-be teachers have been using Nings. Beginning teacher Laura Abercrombie, anxious about her first year on job as an 8th grade English teacher, joined The English Companion Ning, and within 12 hours of posting a “Help” message for ways to teach Thoreau’s Walden received 60 teacher replies. Also, explore the Web 2.0 Ning, a social networking site for teachers focused on technology and Web 2.0 tools.

In digging around The English Companion Ning, I found a digital story created by a student for an English class and posted by the teacher at: The Power Of Digital Story Telling.
Here is what the teacher wrote: “My co-teacher and I spend a lot of time during the course of the year working with our students to help develop their storytelling skills. At the beginning of each year, many of our students struggle with the writing process. They lack confidence. We use digital storytelling as a tool to help inspire our students to strengthen their skill sets. After all, the digital space is a familiar place to most of them. The video below [go to the link The Power Of Digital Story Telling] was created by one of our students. The film is an excellent example of how a student has taken a lesson on symbolism and pushed it to the limit. As educators we need to continue to push our limits as well." Another teacher upon viewing the student’s work responded: “Wow! I am blown away - what a beautiful project. I am thinking that this is a perfect supplement to a Carpe Diem unit when we're in the middle of our hurry-up-and-seize-the-day discussion! Would you ask Jennifer [the student who created the film] if I could have permission to use this in my classroom? I teach AP Language and Composition in which argument, both verbal and visual, is a large part of the curriculum. I also like this idea as a way to have the kids create visual arguments…. Thanks for sharing this inspiring lesson.” This example should give you an idea of how teachers in distant schools can connect to share teaching ideas. Take a look at the student’s film via The Power Of Digital Story Telling post, and think about how you would incorporate digital storytelling into your classroom.

But also post comments on nings, and how they can help you as a teacher. Have you used them? Would you use them? Maybe it is time for teachers to say goodbye to Facebook and spend their time on professional networking nings. What do you think? Here is another one to check out: Content Literacy. In the age of shrinking school budgets and limited travel funds to attend professional conferences, maybe nings are the next best thing. I have heard new teachers no longer read professional journals in print and turn to online social network sites like nings for their professional growth? Do you see that as true for you?

Okay, there's a lot to absorb in this post, so take you time. But let's hear your thoughts about nings, the ones you have seen, and how you use them or might use them.

Image: English Companion Ning

Would You If You Could? Online Master's Degree

How would you like to earn a master’s degree by never attending campus? What about professional development for teachers conducted online?'s article, “The Online Option,” declares a growing trend to earn credit through online work. The article cites the National Education Association (NEA), one of the largest teachers unions, with 3.2 million members, as a prime marketer of online professional development and education through its NEA Academy.

There’s even talk at SJC about offering a master’s degree in education technology entirely online. How do you feel about earning a master's degree in an online format? With the proliferation of online courses, webinars (e.g., PBS’s free webinars for teachers at PBS Teachers Live!), and improvements in technology for delivery of online instruction in interactive formats, do you think there's a strong audience for the option? Would you adopt this format for future courses or professional development? For more information, check the links in this post.

Also, check this recent article, Coming Soon to a Classroom Near You, about how schools in Florida on using videoconferencing for teacher professional developoment in an effort to spread "model classroom" practices. The concepts will give teachers a chance to watch model teachers in practice and then dialogue with them through videoconferencing. Do you think this method would also work well in a teacher preparatory undergraduate or graduate program?

Image: Saint Joseph College, Maine

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Cell Phones as Learning Tools

I have posted on this topic before, but wanted to again, as I just read about another school incorporating cell phones into the learning process. The original story was posted in a St. Petersburg newspaper and then picked up by Teacher Magazine. The students in the school have been using the phones for science, literature, and other classes: "Florida School Allows Cell Phones in Classrooms." In addition to the use of the phones in these classes, mention is made of using them to assist English-as-second-language learners. This is not the first school where cell phones are augmenting the learning process, and given the proliferation of cell phones, their use might be an economical way for schools to integrate computer technology. Check the article, and let us know what you think.

In addition, here is a link to a recent article from The New York Times addressing the controversy of cell phones: "Industry Pitching Cell Phones as a Teaching Tool." My two earlier blogs on cell phones in schools can be accessed by using the Search feature at the top of the page and typing in cell phones. Also, note the label (see right column) for cell phones. In addition, you might want to check the blog on clickers, using the search feature.

image 1 from:
image 2: Dusty Oliver, caption from photo, "A teacher at Southwest High School in Jacksonville, N.C., said the special cellphones helped students improve their math skills."

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Is the Technology Frustrating You?

If so, you need a break. Take a look at this YouTube video Introducing the Book, which will put contemporary life into perspective. Enjoy, and post your comments. By the way, how might this video be used in the secondary classroom?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Teacher Tube

For those of you who can't use YouTube in the classroom, don't forget TeacherTube is a growing repository of resources. In addition to videos, podcasts, photos, you will find other resources on the site. Even if you can use YouTube in your classroom, TeacherTube offers a a wealth of instructional resources geared toward the K-12 curriculum. Check out the site, and let us know what valuable resources you find or what you think of the site in general. Image is the logo from TeacherTube site.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Peace Prize

By now, you have heard Obama has won the Nobel Peace Prize. Here's a link to some world reaction. If you care to, weigh in on the situation. At the end of the article, you will find comments from readers. As of 7:11 pm., Oct. 9, 2009, more than 340 comments were posted. Here is a link to a running debate on What Does A Nobel Do for U.S. Leaders?

Image from: Stephen Crowley, New York Times, Oct. 9, 2009

Visual Search Engine

Try out this visual search engine Spezify. I just typed in Isaac Asimov, and got some helpful results. Also, tried Obama. Enter a topic of interest to you. How do you see this form of conducting a search fitting into the educational setting in which you teach or will be teaching? Do you think the search engine will take off?

Blog's Appearance

Is this blog getting too busy? Are the font colors annoying? What recommendations do you have for changing the fonts for text, blog titles, links, visited links, the sidebar, and other features? I have been making changes, and have considered changing the main template also. Suggestions are welcome, as I work to make the blog more user friendly.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Your Course Grade

Check out this e-Campus article "Instructor to Outsource Grading to Students." Let me know what you think? Should we implement this system? Is it a reasonable way to assess learning?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

How Powerful Is PowerPoint, or Is It Pointless? User Beware of Your Power

Last spring (March 2009) I posted a blog about PowerPoint, but realize some of you don't check the archives. Thus, I'm re-posting, because we can all use a refresher on what we do when we use multimedia tools. The power is in the hands of the beholder, not the software. Check this article, "Of PowerPoint and Pointlessness," and this YouTube Video, "Death by PowerPoint." Don't skip YouTube video; it will give you pointers for the next time you use PowerPoint.Post your responses. We want to hear from you. Check back to see what others have had to say.

Phenonenal Use of Blogging by 6th Graders

Last spring, I posted a blog about this site, Tell the Raven. Check out the blog, maintained by an Alaskan teacher and his students. The teacher, Mr. Noonan, writes: "Tell the Raven is a community writing project for my Grade 6 (grade 4 material is in the archives) students in Fairbanks, Alaska. The Raven totem pole stands in the middle of our playground. Our stories go out to the world." Note that in addition to the class blog, each student maintains blog, accessible by clicking on the student's pen name at the end of an entry. Visit a few of the the students' blogs to see what they have been writing, and check the teacher's list of online resources and the blog's archive. The archive reveals how the blog has been used by former students. This blog project illustrates ways to integrate Web 2.0 tools into the classroom. Post your comments after browsing the blog, looking at students' blogs, checking the archive, and using the resource links. What purpose do you envision blogging having in the K-12 setting? Would you consider maintaining one? Why, or why not?

Image from:

Friday, October 2, 2009

Vooks In the Classroom and Beyond

Books with pop-up videos create a new reading experience, and are finding their way into schools. Called Vooks (Video+Books=Vooks) can be read on computers, iphones, iPods, and online. While some experts contend that Vooks, multimedia books, are necessary to lure young readers accustomed to working interactively, others fear the new format forebodes the end of the reading experience as we once knew it. In addition to video feeds, social network tools are also finding intertwined with Vooks.

For instance, HarperCollins has added to its young adult mystery series "The Amanda Project" (check it out) the opportunity for readers to discuss plot hints with one another via an online discussion group, and plans to incorporate readers' comments into character and plot development in future books, making young readers collaborators in the authoring of the book.

The verdict on books with video clips, social networkings features, music loops, and other embedded media is mixed. Read more about the possibilities and responses to it at this article from the Oct.1, 2009 New York Times: "Curling Up with Hybrid Books, Video Included." Within 24 hours, the article had over 100 comments posted. Check the comment section after reading the article to see how readers have responded to the news. Also, check's article, video included, at: "What is a Vook and Will It Change the Way You Read?"

What do you see as the potential of Vooks in the educational setting? Will Vooks be welcomed in schools? What do you think will be the reaction of educational reading experts? Some are quoted in the New York Times article. Do you believe that hybrid books are a wave of the future that educators can't deny and need to embrace?

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Handwriting Peaks in Fourth Grade

Is technology making the ability to hand write legibly less of a necessary skill in the 21st century? Check out this Associated Press article, Cursive Writing Might Be Fading, But So What?, and let us know what you think. Image is from the AP link.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Assistive Technology

Not surprising, the emerging field of assistive technology is making inroads regarding communication tools for those with autism. Check out this Digital Dimension’s article Tech's Role in Teaching Autistic Students Evolves. In addition, the article will point you to information about specific products including TeachTown, AutismPro, Inspiration Software, and Mind Reading. Several centers involved with developing resources are noted, like Center for Applied Special Technology (e.g., Universal Design for Learning site) and the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence, which has developed Autism Internet Modules. What have you heard about assistive technology's use to ease communication for those with special needs? What is your response after reading Tech's Role in Teaching Autistic Students Evolves and exploring information provided from the article's links? (Image from Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Are You Addicted to the Internet?

Can you keep away from Facebook, Twitter, other social network sites or online games for more than 24 hours? Have you tried it? The Diagnostic Manual used by the American Psychiatric Association might be updated to include Internet addiction as a psychiatric disorder. Here's a comment from the eNew Campus News, September 15, 2009: “Nonstop video-game playing and web surfing has led to the opening of a new internet addiction center in the United States, and experts on computer overuse say they expect web addiction soon will be treated like any other addiction, such as alcohol or drug abuse.” This newly opened treatment facility in Washington state treats addicts in a 45-rehab program during which time they must stay off the Internet. Some see the addiction as dangerous as alcohol or drug addiction, breaking up families, ruining marriages and careers, and careening a college student’s career into the abyss. Access the article, College Students Vulnerable to Internet Addiction, for details. Is Internet addiction truly serious enough to necessitate rehab centers or psychiatric treatment? What are our obligations as educators to address this societal issue in the age when the Internet is omnipresent?
Image credit: from the article, College Student Vulnerable to Internet Addiction, 9/15/2009

Textbook Graveyard

If you did not catch this ABC broadcast ipods, Laptops Replace Textbooks, check it out now. It is a continuation of at least two other blogs I have posted about the inevitable fate of textbooks as we know them today. The article got me thinking: when was the last time I used a textbook for teaching Computers in the Classroom? I can’t recall every using one, but maybe I did in the age before the Internet was pervasive. What’s to be gained by forsaking textbooks? Do we need them? Some schools have already gone textbook-free and at least one school outside of Boston is dismantling its conventional library, giving away its book collection. For those who argue that placing the technology in the hands of school children will be too costly, what about the costs of textbooks themselves that need to be furnished for the full school population and go out of date? Check the article Schools Dump Textbooks for iPods and Laptops. Is it time to dump the textbooks.

In fact, here is another article that I just came across today, Books Face Extinction as High Schools Go High Tech. It seems every day I am finding another press release on the demise of the printed page. We can't escape the fact. As teachers, how can we prepare ourselves for the inevitable? Historically, people clamoured and resisted the invention of the printing press. Are we facing another revolution in the way we communicate?

Take the time to read and study both the articles mentioned, and note that you are doing your reading online, not in print. Are you spending more time nowadays reading online or in print? Even if our students are ready for the conversion, are we as teachers willing and ready to shift our teaching strategies?

Friday, September 11, 2009

What’s Happening to Our Reading Skills?!

I found this article, Is Google Making Us Stupid, in The Atlantic Monthly and began to wonder about how being online so often is changing our cognitive processing and whether we are finding it harder and harder to concentrate on reading books in print form. The article has two premises: one relates to how spending time online has affected our reading processes and the other is the possibility that the way we think might be speeding up to accommodate working online. There are some interesting parallels made to the way the invention of the printing press changed cognitive processes, as well. Some noted scholars are cited in the article, and some prolific readers are claiming that their brains have changed sufficiently to make it difficult to concentrate on reading full-length books and retain what is read. Here is one comment in the article that sums up one of the premises: “The more [we] use the Web, the more [we] have to fight to stay focused on long pieces of writing.” The article is intriguing, so take the time to read it and comment. The image is taken directly from the article and is attributed to: Illustration by Guy Billout

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Future is Now!

To excel in the 21st century, not only do you need to excel in writing but the use of visual imagery and multimedia in general. Please listen to this YouTube video, The Future is Now, delivered to the Board of Governors of Rutgers University. Although the video is intended for a higher education audience, it has implications for all of us in the field of education. What does the video imply for teaching on the K-12 level in any area? How do we need to change our teaching to catch up to where we are now? Image from:

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Poetry Is Alive

Here is a famous poem I discovered online, but never read before. I am struck my how my literary exporsure increases just from being online. Do you find that your scope of knowledge and enjoyment of varied fields expand or is limited by the time you spend online? If you care, post your response to the poem. Also, thought this was a good poem to post in tribute to upcoming Labor Day, tomorrow!

Those Winter Sundays

Sundays too my father got up early
And put his clothes on in the blueback cold,
then with cracked hands that ached from labor
in the weekday weather made banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he'd call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love's austere and lonely offices?

by Robert Hayden
Explication of the Poem, image of the poet is from this site.

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