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.

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