Friday, June 29, 2007

Using iPod and iTunes in the classroom

Apple has just published a 41 page PDF entitled: Getting Started: A guide for using iPod and iTunes for teaching and learning

It includes:
  • Overview
  • Education Content for Use with iPod and iTunes
  • Adding Content to iPod Using iTunes
  • Managing iPod and iTunes for Student Use
  • iPod for Professional Development and Other Uses
  • Accessorizing iPod
  • Curriculum Ideas, Success Stories, and Lesson Starters
  • Resources
  • Appendix: iPod 101

And if you don't already have an iPod, you can get a free iPod nano (after rebate) with the purchase of a mac through Apple's "Back to School" promotion. K-12 educators are eligible for this offer, not just college students.

National Park Service Podcasts--- with video!

While perusing the iTunes Music Store I came across several podcasts from the National Park Service. There are podcasts from Yellowstone, Valley Forge, The Everglades, and others, many with video.

Who knew?

Virtual flying in Google Earth

This is NOT video from a jet fighter-- it's a virtual flight shot in Google Earth Pro! Amazing! How did they do that?

I'm excited because I just received licensing for Google Earth Pro through the Google Earth Education Initiative. Your school can get the full blown Pro version of GE for free for one year. Simply send an email to Debra Kettman expressing your interest. She will in turn send the newest qualifications document for your review and response.

And for some great tips on using Google Earth, check out the Using Google Earth blog: That's where I found the link to this video.

Collaborative music making at Splice

Found this on the blog. This music creation site is similar to GarageBand in that you compose music by layering loops. In this case, the loops are uploaded by the community of Splice users. Looks easy enough, and the finished product may be downloaded in mp3 format. Here's the "How-to" video from the Splice website.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Fun with Flickr

I know OF Flickr, but now I'm starting to learn ABOUT Flickr. I found a really nice Newbie's guide to Flickr on the Webware blog, and within a minute I was able to create (more like copy and paste) the Flickr badge on the right side of my blog with some vacation photos of Chichen Itza I took a couple of years ago. Too easy!

Another example from the EO Natural Hazards website

This dramatic photo shows the path of a tornado in Wisconsin on June 7, 2007.

EO- Earth Observatory Natural Hazards

Check out this website:

I remember looking at it very briefly before, but today, after seeing it in the Librarians Internet Index weekly RSS feed, I spent a few minutes playing around on the site and was quite impressed with the satellite imagery, and other pictures it has.

As I've been reading through the Michigan Social Studies and Science GLCEs I've noticed that students are asked to be able to read maps and to interpret graphs and charts. There are many opportunities to practice those skills on this website.
This site focuses on some the natural disasters occurring around the world. The recent floods in Texas are listed, as well as some other disasters that we don't often read about in the newspapers or see on the news, such as the locusts in Africa.

Australia has experienced a severe drought. In May they received enough rain to alleviate some of the problem as evidenced by this image from the EO website:

Would your students be able to interpret these pictures to draw that conclusion? In addition to the imagery, NASA provides an explanation, like this one for the Australian drought picture above:

The impact of both drought and rain is demonstrated by this pair of vegetation index images. The data used to make the images were captured by the SPOT vegetation satellite in April 2007 (bottom) and May 2007 (top). The vegetation index is a record of plant growth during the month-long period. Areas that are brown reveal where plants were more sparse or growing more slowly than average. Green areas indicate that plants are growing larger or more quickly than average, in this case, in response to rainfall. It is evident that drought was widespread and extreme in April, particularly in crop regions in the southeast and southwest. In May, the drought is less extreme, but ongoing. The populated southeast in particular saw improved conditions, which is evident in the transition from brown to green. The drought still held sway in the northeast (Queensland) and Western Australia.

Good stuff! Check it out!

Get your infectious diseases trading cards!

I'll give you 2 Ebolas for an Avian Flu...

Via the MAKE Magazine blog I learned that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a series of trading cards on infectious diseases in PDF format that can be downloaded from their website:

So now you can have some pictures along with descriptions of many of the diseases the CDC studies. Despite the obvious connections to the Science curriculum, there are also connections to US and World History, and even current events (i.e. the TB groom or Avian Flu).

Cyberbullying affects 32% of online teens

I have posted at least a few times about Internet safety, specifically on my fear that the threat of cyberpredators has been overblown thanks to NBC Dateline and the news media in general.

However, I have always suspected that the greater threat to student safety on the Internet has been cyberbullying, and now, thanks to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, there are statistics to show that is true.

32% of all teens surveyed reported experiencing at least one of the following things online:

  • Someone forwarding a private message to others or posting it online where others could see it
  • Someone spreading a rumor about them online
  • Someone sending them a threatening message
  • Someone posting an embarrassing picture of them online without their permission

Girls are more likely than boys to be targets, and older teens (15-17) are more likely to be bullied than younger teens (12-14). Another interesting statistic shows that social network users experience cyberbullying more than non-social network users (39% vs. 23%).

Yet 67% of the teens surveyed thought that bullying still happens more often OFFLINE than online. 29% thought that bullying occurred more online than offline, and 3% thought bullying happened both places equally.

A total of 935 teens age 12-17 were surveyed in October and November of 2006 and there is a margin of error of 4%.

Read or download the complete report at:

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Just the facts about online youth victimization

WOW! This is just 1 of 9 videos posted on YouTube

Michigan's CSI: Cyber Safety Initiative

I'm happy to say that Michigan's Attorney General, Mike Cox, has finally completed the Michigan Cyber Safety Initiative, an Internet safety program for K-8 students and the community at large.

However, I hope this program doesn't cause more harm than good. I'm afraid that schools and parents will be even more restrictive on the websites that students are allowed to access due to online predators.

On the Michigan CSI home page, Attorney General Cox points out
"Shortly after I took office in 2003, I established a Child and Public Protection Unit and to date we have arrested more than 137 Internet predators who were seeking to harm Michigan children."

and while I applaud his success at putting these creeps behind bars, I think the online predator problem is blown out of proportion. Let's do the math: 137 arrests in 4 years, divided by the number of people (including students) who use the Internet...

Cox goes on to say

"Putting these criminals behind bars is not enough; we must also proactively combat the problem by educating children and adults."

Again, I couldn't agree more, but I fear that for many adults (and schools) the easiest way to "combat the problem" is by restricting Internet access for children.

For further reading I would point out two recent articles. The first was referenced by Will Richardson on his blog:

"Internet safer than it seems":

and another article entitled "Panel attemps to debunk myths about online predators": which includes this quote from David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire:

"While authorities work with parents to try to protect kids, the kids most at risk have little trust in their parents. They've been victims of physical or sexual abuse, or have substantial conflicts in their family."

Things that make me go "Hmmmm...."

From an article on using GPS for fishing in the Detroit News comes this quote that got me to thinking...
"To a certain point GPS has taken the guesswork out of fishing, but I think of it like a puzzle," Barry said. "All the pieces of information are there, but you still have to put all the data together and implement it. That is what separates good fishermen from average fishermen."

...about the use of technology in education. Students have access to so much information, but it's what they do with the information that matters.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Testing blogTV

I gotta try this... blogTV

Ever want to have your own TV show? Now you can, with blogTV. It will stream LIVE video from your webcam, not only on the blogTV website, but the REALLY cool part is that you can embed the stream right on your blog page! How amazing is that!

I've signed up for a free account, now I just have to get up the nerve to go live in front of the webcam. Hmmmm..... the hamster on the wheel in my feeble little brain is going 100 miles an hour as I try to figure the possibilities out for this one.

Check it out for yourself:

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

R.I.P. Palm

I want to preface my remarks by saying how much I love my Palm handheld computers, and how much students have enjoyed using them in the classrooms I've visited in the past 5 years.

But... much to my dismay, Palm's days in the world of classroom technology are over. Palm does not even have a booth at NECC in Atlanta, despite the recent announcement of their new Foleo.

They haven't introduced anything along the lines of a Tungsten E2 in awhile, and they seem to have focused their attention on the business world where the real dollars are to be made. Not that I blame them for trying to make a buck.

I'm sad. There seemed to be real potential, and a real "buzz" in the edtech world for Palm about 5 years ago. I think they've peaked, and now, have faded away like so many other hardware/software/websites.

Rest in peace Palm.

Get Human

This has nothing to do with education, but everything to do with saving one's sanity.
The database has a listing of 500 or so companies, businesses and government agencies with phone numbers (many of them toll free) and instructions on what combination of buttons to push (or the magic words to say) to talk to a real live human being ASAP. I am so tired of hearing how important my call is while listening to menu after menu of options, and pushing buttons like a trained lab rat. What I really need is to talk to a representative, even if they are 1000's of miles away. Gethuman really helps speed up the process.

Vyew-- imagine the possibilities!

Check out

Could you use this song to introduce chat room safety?

Brad Paisely is an amazing musician, composer and performer, and on his recently released CD, 5th gear, is a song called Online.

Aside from a "damn" in the lyrics and a reference to having a 3-way CHAT, this is a fun song that could be used to start a serious discussion about online safety. In this instance, Brad sings about someone who is undertall and overweight and still lives with his parents, yet online he is 6 feet 5, rich, handsome, and lives in Hollywood. (I especially enjoy the marching band arrangement of the song at the very end of the track!)

A teacher could very easily play an excerpt of this song as a lesson starter.

Listen to "Online" by Brad Paisley :

Check out Swivel

I came across a link for Swivel while reading Steve Dembo's DEN Digital Passports blog. Swivel allows you to upload and graph data. You can also copy and paste HTML code to display your graph on a web page or blog like this...

Percentage of Total Daily Use by Use

Adding tags to your graph allows you to find other similar graphs to compare your data to. You'll also find other users' data sets that you can use or download.

This site looks VERY intersting! Take a tour of Swivel and see for yourself.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Teach your students about Gerrymandering-- with a game!

Just came across this on the Slashdot blog. It's the Redistricting game created at the USC Game Innovation Lab and developed for the USC Annenberg Center for Communications. Here's a description from the website:

The Redistricting Game is designed to educate, engage, and empower citizens around the issue of political redistricting. Currently, the political system in most states allows the state legislators themselves to draw the lines. This system is subject to a wide range of abuses and manipulations that encourage incumbents to draw districts which protect their seats rather than risk an open contest. By exploring how the system works, as well as how open it is to abuse, The Redistricting Game allows players to experience the realities of one of the most important (yet least understood) aspects of our political system. The game provides a basic introduction to the redistricting system, allows players to explore the ways in which abuses can undermine the system, and provides info about reform initiatives - including a playable version of the Tanner Reform bill to demonstrate the ways that the system might be made more consistent with tenets of good governance. Beyond playing the game, the web site for The Redistricting Game provides a wealth of information about redistricting in every
state as well as providing hands-on opportunities for civic engagement and political action.

The introduction is very captivating, like a movie trailer, with a dramatic soundtrack. This could actually be a FUN way of helping students understand why this is such an important topic.

Check it out at:

The 100 best Web 2.0 websites-- The Webware 100

A list of 5000 sites was narrowed to 250 finalists. C/NET then invited its readers to vote and on June 18th the winners were announced.

Go to to see the winners for yourself, broken down into 10 categories. Best of all, you can click on a logo to learn more about a site (complete with screenshot) and then go directly to the site itself.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

FREE book for your summer reading!

I came across an ad in the Scholastic Administrator for a FREE copy of Don Johnston's autobiography, Building Wings.

Don Johnston's auto-biography encourages students to identify their unique learning styles and motivates them to take charge of their learning potential. It is thoughtful reminder to teachers of the critical task of applying different instructional approaches to deliver core subject knowledge. Published by Start-to-Finish.

Click the link below to receive your free copy (limit one per person):

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

GPS Visualizer

I'm just beginning to learn my way around a Garmin eTrex Legend GPS receiver, and I stumbled across a fun website-- GPS Visualizer.

After wandering around our school campus today and adding a few waypoints, I uploaded the data from the eTrex to my computer, then used GPS Visualizer to create the Google Maps mashup seen here:

You can even create a KML file and see your "tracks" in Google Earth!

Check out this way cool website at:

Inspiration's Learning Community

This looks promising! I just learned about this new professional learning community from Laura Gallagher of Inspiration.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Why Wiki?

Found this great video on Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach's blog, and wanted to repost it here so I would always be able to find it.