Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

SAT math practice site

SAT Math Pro was developed by Colleen King, a math teacher, SAT instructor and co-director of Math Advantage, a test prep and math tutoring center located in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

This free website features practice sets of 5 problems of medium difficulty in the areas of: number properties, ratio and proportion, percent, probability, data analysis, algebra, word problems, circles, lines and angles, triangles, quadrilaterals, solids, coordinate geometry, multiple figures, roman numerals, counting problems, and unusual symbols.

There is a step by step video solution for each question, and a follow up “Zap It!” problem that is very similar to the original problem.

Students can take three different 12 question quizzes and receive a list of math topics that need further study. You will also find an area that discusses SAT problem solving strategies and a downloadable list of the top ten “traps” to avoid.

Although SAT Math Pro is supported by Google Ads, I observed only links to other math related or tutoring websites. You’ll find SAT Math Pro at:

Teachers union warns against using social networking sites

I just read an interesting article in the eSchool News about the Ohio Education Association (OEA) recommending that teachers not use social networking sites such as MySpace or Facebook.

“OEA advises members not to join [these sites], and for existing users to complete the steps involved in removing their profiles. While this advice might seem extreme, the dangers of participating in these two sites outweigh the benefits.”

What's even more interesting is what the Columbus Dispatch found in their investigation into the profiles of at least 3 teachers. It's obvious that these (and probably other) teachers are using the social networking sites inappropriately. The OEA sent it's memo to teachers just 2 days after the Columbus Dispatch started its investigation. You can read the social networking article, "Teachers' saucy Web profiles risk jobs," here.

As James Miller, director of the Office of Professional Conduct at the Ohio Department of Education, says about the teacher profiles, “It’s their right to have it up. But I’d make sure it’s appropriate for my students to look at.”

I have spoken out many times on this blog for the need to educate students on Internet safety, including the do's and don'ts of social networking. Apparently, many teachers could use a little training themselves! I just don't get it. What are they thinking?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Feed the hungry while practicing your vocabulary???

Yep. It's possible at, a website that's been around for just over a month now.
Here's a description of how to play from the website:

  • Click on the answer that best defines the word.
  • If you get it right, you get a harder word. If wrong, you get an easier word.
  • For each word you get right, we donate 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program.
  • WARNING: This game may make you smarter. It may improve your speaking, writing, thinking, grades, job performance...
There are 50 difficulty levels in all, although the website admits it's difficult to get above a 48. I played for a few minutes and got up to level 37 while earning 200 grains of rice.

The rice is paid for by advertisers whose logos appear at the bottom of the game screen. The site was launched on October 7 and only 830 grains of rice were donated. On November 12 this number had grown to 188,987,290 for a grand total of 1.5 billion grains of rice. I wonder what that translates to in pounds???

What a great way for students to build their vocabulary and feed the world at the same time! Who knows, maybe you can even have a class discussion about world hunger?

David Warlick interview

Royalty free music by Soundzabound

Click here to get your own player.

And speaking of textbooks...

Another interesting article from the Webware blog talks about the high cost of textbooks, and how Sony's eBook reader might help.

According to the author, Rafe Needleman, textbooks are in a death spiral of cost: textbooks cost so much, at least at the university level, because students sell their books back to the bookstore, depriving the textbook publisher of additional profits on multiple students. But the more expensive the books become, the more likely students are to resell them.

By publishing textbooks electronically, students can't resell the books. There is no secondary market, and publishers could reduce the price of their books because they have more customers to make a profit from. Furthermore, there are no printing costs. The content is delivered electronically.

Rather than downloading and reading the textbook on a laptop computer with limited battery life, or worse yet, lugging around a 40 pound book bag, students will be able to carry around and read their books on the Sony electronic book.

But Needleman shares this warning:
"Now, there are dozens of ways publishers could screw this up, mostly by overpricing their content, which would encourage hacking of the DRM, which would in response lead to onerous copy protection that could make e-books unworkable. But if--and it's a big if--publishers get on board and start selling licenses to their texts instead of the books themselves, everyone (except bookstores) could benefit."

Open source curriculum

An article in USA Today entitled "Free online materials could save schools billions" lists a few interesting opportunities for schools. offers "an open resource center and community for early literacy teachers." This very colorful wiki site has 326 activities to date, and offers members an opportunity to create and upload their own. A Florida textbook adoption committee approved Free-Reading for K-12 public schools. The site is designed by Wireless Generation who's CEO, Larry Berger, turned the free DIBELS reading test into a for-profit venture by developing software that allowed the test to be scored by teachers on a handheld computer. He hopes to make a profit on Free-Reading by providing tech support and teacher training.

HippoCampus offers multimedia course materials for Algebra, American Government, Biology, Calculus, Environmental Science, Physics, Religion, and US History. Algebra, for example, has dozens of online activities related to six Algebra textbooks. HippoCampus is a project of the Monterey Institute for Technology and Education (MITE).

These sites look very promising! Let's hope schools take advantage of these free resources.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Professional Development Sourcebook

I just received an email from EdWeek that announced what appears to be an outstanding online resource: Teacher Professional Development Sourcebook, a guide to ideas and resources on teacher learning. The first issue includes these articles:

  • Team-oriented teaching
  • Giving teachers the reins
  • One size doesn't fit all
  • Time for reflection
  • Researchers in the classroom
  • New thinking on staff development
  • Report roundup
  • Web sites to know
  • New in print
  • Databank
You'll find a link on the left side of the page where you can subscribe for free! Check it out for yourself at:

Friday, November 09, 2007

Too many urban legends!

Lately I've received several emails that continue to spread false rumors as factual. I typically run these through and send the URL of the resulting page back to the original sender along with a request that they check their facts before forwarding any more such emails.

The other day I received a humorous email that summarized everything I now know thanks to the wonder of email. Please enjoy it and share it with those who bombard you with urban legends, lies, rumors, and innuendos.

Thanks to email:
  • I now scrub the top of every can I open
  • I no longer have any savings because I gave it to a sick girl (Penny Brown) who is about to die in the hospital for the 1,387,258th time.
  • I no longer have any money at all, but that will change once I receive the $15,000 that Bill Gates/Microsoft and AOL are sending me for participating in their special e-mail program.
  • I no longer worry about my soul because I have 363,214 angels looking out for me, and St. Theresa's novena has granted my every wish
  • I no longer eat KFC because their chickens are actually horrible mutant freaks with no eyes or feathers.
  • I no longer use cancer-causing deodorants even though I smell like a water buffalo on a hot day.
  • I have learned that my prayers only get answered if I forward an email to seven of my friends and make a wish within five minutes.
  • I no longer drink Coca Cola because it can remove toilet stains.
  • I no longer can buy gasoline without taking someone along to watch the car so a serial killer won't crawl in my back seat when I'm pumping gas.
  • I no longer drink Pepsi or Dr.. Pepper since the people who make these products are atheists who refuse to put "Under God" on their cans
  • I no longer use plastic wrap in the microwave because it causes cancer.
  • I can't boil a cup of water in the microwave anymore because it will blow up in my face...disfiguring me for life.
  • I no longer check the coin return on pay phones because I could be pricked with an infected needle.
  • I no longer go to shopping malls because someone will drug me with a perfume sample and rob me.
  • I no longer receive packages from UPS or FedEx since they are actually Al Qaeda in disguise.
  • I no longer shop at Target since they are French and don't support our American troops or the Salvation Army.
  • I no longer answer the phone because someone will ask me to dial a number for which I will get a phone bill with calls to Jamaica, Uganda, Singapore and Uzbekistan.
  • I no longer buy expensive cookies from Neiman Marcus since I now have their recipe.
  • I can't use anyone's toilet but mine because a big brown African spider is lurking under the seat to cause me instant death when it bites my butt.
  • I can't ever pick up $5.00 I dropped in the parking lot because it probably was placed there by a sex molester waiting underneath my car to grab my leg.
  • I can no longer drive my car because I can't buy gas from certain gas companies!
  • If you don't send this e-mail to at least 144,000 people in the next 70 minutes, a large dove with diarrhea will land on your head at 5:00 PM this afternoon and the fleas from 12 camels will infest your back, causing you to grow a hairy hump. I know this will occur because it actually happened to a friend of my next door neighbor's ex-mother-in-law's second husband's cousin's beautician...

P.S.- I also refuse to use the new dollar coins because the government no longer puts "In God We Trust" on them

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Newest member of the family

I couldn't wait until spring to get a new dog! Meet Big Papi, our Boston Terrier puppy.