Saturday, October 29, 2005

Free Beta Version of Vlog It! Software

Serious Magic, creators of the awesome Visual Communicator video editing software, are beta testing Vlog It!, which allows you to create a video blog. You can download the software from the Vlog It! page.

After downloading the software, you will need to acquire an activation key code from Serious Magic. Upon activation the Vlog It! software will run for 16 days. You will also receive a free trial account to a hosting site where your Vlogs will be uploaded.

Below is a Vlog of photos I took in Denver this past week. I am somewhat familiar with the Visual Communicator interface, so this very basic Vlog took only a few minutes to drag and drop the photos, add the text, and then to render and upload the completed project.

Update: Since my free trial has expired I have removed the link to my Vlog.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Using Science & Math to Solve REAL Problems

eCYBERMISSION, sponsored by the U.S. Army, is an online science, math and technology competition for students in grades 6 through 9.

Your team will propose a solution to a real problem in your community and compete for regional and national awards. eCYBERMISSION challenges you to explore how science, math and technology work in your world.

Teams consist or 3 or 4 students in the same grade, and one advisor. Your team must register at the website by December 12, 2005. Regional and National awards are quite generous! Thousands of dollars in U.S. Savings Bonds for each student on the team!!

Your team will use the Scientific Method to find a solution in one of four Mission Challenges:

  • Sports & Recreation
  • Arts & Entertainment
  • Environment
  • Health & Safety

You can even see winning entries from previous competitions here.

The eCYBERMISSION website URL is:

Denver Convention Center

Tim Wilson, one of the presenters at the NSBA T+L2 conference, has posted a couple of great pictures on his page of a giant bear statue that appears to be looking through the glass walls of the Denver Convention Center.

Read about the NSBA T+L2 conference sessions

I have created a couple of posts for the NSBA T+L2 conference blog. If you'd like to read about several of the conference sessions as reported by the conference "blog team" go to:

Podcasting Resources

Although I didn't get to hear Gary Stager speak about 21st century literacy, I did attend his session entitled "A Joyful Noise-- Digital Audio Across the Curriculum."

He has posted an EXTENSIVE list of podcasting resources at
If you've heard about podcasting but aren't really sure about what it is and what it can do, I suggest you check out Gary's website. He's done all the hard work in aggregating the links, we just have to click and read.

Thank you Gary! You're still my hero.

Interactive Cloning Website

While reading the blog I learned about the Click and Clone website at the University of Utah's Genetic Science Learning Center. At this highly interactive site, you'll click on animated drawings of Mimi the mouse, petri dishes, cells, and others as you proceed through a six step process to create a "Mini Mimi." This site reminds me a lot of Brain Pop.

There are lots of great vocabulary words like enucleated and somatic cell. The whole process takes only a few minutes and is based on actual research conducted at the University of Hawaii in 1998.

I then browsed the Michigan Curriculum Framework using MI CLiMB (available online at and discovered this suggested assessment and extension for a lesson on cloning:

Assessment Example
With a partner, students will write a story in which a student becomes a nitrogen base. Each pair of students will explain the events, step by step, that happen to the student (nitrogen base) from the beginning to the end of DNA replication. Each pair of students will use their knowledge of this scientific process and appropriate scientific vocabulary in the story.

1. Research cloning and present a speech explaining reasons for or against human cloning.
2. Research gene manipulation and present a speech explaining reasons for or against gene manipulation.)

There are even a few videos on unitedstreaming that could be used to further explain the cloning process.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Greetings from Denver!

I'm attending and presenting at the NSBA T+L2 conference in Denver, Colorado. I'm also a member of the NSBA "blog team." I'll be contributing summaries of the conference sessions that I am attending, along with 11 other bloggers from Maine to Alaska. Although I haven't been blogging very long, I thought this would be a great opportunity for professional growth.

I'll be attending a session by Gary Stager tomorrow at 7:30 AM entitled "21st Century Literacy: The Time is NOW". I've read lots of articles and a book or two by Gary but I've never seen him in person before. Should be a great session on a timely topic.

I checked into the Holiday Inn this evening and was treated to this SPECTACULAR view of the conference center and the Rocky Mountains that I thought I'd share with you.

P.S.- Stager didn't present the session this morning, and it wasn't on 21st century literacy! Boy was I disappointed!

Friday, October 14, 2005

FREE Data Eraser Software

UPDATE: There is an excellent article on the topic of data destruction posted on the New York Times technology page:

Before selling, donating, or disposing of an old computer you need to first destroy your old data files. Using a variety of online resources, including PC World, SmartComputing, and CNET, I have located a highly rated piece of freeware called Eraser 5.7 by Heidi Computer Ltd.

This software allows Windows users to completely delete AND overwrite sensitive data on their computer's hard drive.

The average computer user assumes that emptying the recycle bin eliminates data forever, but those with sinister intentions know how to recover the deleted files. According to data cited in a ZDNet article, 7 out of 10 hard drives purchased on eBay still had readable data on them!

The physical location of the data on the hard drive must be overwritten and rewritten SEVERAL TIMES with a random pattern of zeroes and ones for it to be erased and unrecoverable.

You may download the free software from the Eraser website:

Read CNET's review of Eraser here.

If your old computer no longer works, the data on the hard drive is still vulnerable! You can physically destroy the hard drive or use a demagnetizer (known as "degaussing").

Recycle old computers/electronics at Goodwill

Goodwill Industries and Dell have joined forces in a new computer and electronics recycling program called "Reconnect."

Reconnect allows FREE consumer drop-off of unwanted electronic devices that will be responsibly recycled OR refurbished and reused at participating Goodwill stores and drop-off sites.

According to the Reconnect website, you are responsible for removing data from your computer before dropping it off. There are many freeware and shareware programs that will do this. (I'll find a few and share them in a future post)

You will also find a list of participating Michigan Goodwill stores and drop-off locations on the Reconnect website:
While there be sure to check out the FAQs to see what may be donated.

In addition to helping our environment, proceeds will assist Goodwill Industries with its many community programs. AND, you may even be able to take a tax deduction!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Fun Science Experiments

Science teachers looking for some fun experiments to demonstrate in class need to look no further than Steve Spangler's outstanding website.

You'll find DOZENS of experiments involving common household objects guaranteed to bring a smile to the face of your students. The experiments are sorted into various categories such as magnetism, light and sound, air, electricity, density, forces and motion and more.

He also explains the science behind each experiment so that once you've captured your students attention and imagination you can do a little teaching too.

Steve Spangler has been featured on a Denver television station many times, and you can watch streaming video of several of his experiments before trying it in your own classroom.

Steve has an entire section devoted to Halloween themed experiments. Be sure to check out the exploding pumpkin video!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

StarOffice 8 now available from Sun!

The most recent version of StarOffice is now available for Windows and Linux users. Educators and students can download the software for free after creating a free account at the Sun website.

StarOffice is a full featured office suite: word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing and database applications. Files are Microsoft Office compatible.

There's even an online StarOffice tutorial for kids. There are separate tutorials for primary, elementary, junior high and high school students.

Mac users will need to visit

Online Office Suites

Having read several recent articles and blog posts about online office suites, I can now see the proverbial "writing on the wall." CNET's reports that Sun and Google will announce a "collaborative effort" TODAY! Sun has developed the open source Open Office suite and the commercially available Star Office. Could it be that Google will take either of these applications online, and make them freely available to anyone? Stay tuned!

We all know that Microsoft Office is the industry standard for office suites, but at a price point that many schools are finding difficult to afford. Several more affordable office suites promise Microsoft Office compatibility and these are becoming increasingly popular:

You can download the free Open Office here.

NewsForge has a review of Star Office 8 posted on their website. Schools can license Star Office for $25 and this includes allowing students to install the software on their home computers!

For links to several currently available online office suites, see Richard McManus' ZD Net Blog.

UPDATE from the Sun Microsystems website:

The agreement between Sun and Google also kicks off further collaboration between the companies on projects like, the open source productivity suite that is the world's leading suite on the Solaris Operating System (Solaris OS) and Linux--and the leading alternative suite on Microsoft Windows.

(It's the handwriting on the wall! Do you see it too?)