Saturday, August 30, 2008

Track Hurricane Gustav in Google Earth

On his Google Earth Blog, Frank Taylor has made available an online KMZ file that, when opened, will allow you to load a HUGE amount of data related to Hurricane Gustav into Google Earth (GE). The basic version of Google Earth is FREE, and may be downloaded from the GE website.

My advice is to selectively turn the various "layers" on and off. Turning all the layers on at once leaves the map virtually unreadable.

I'm sure other KML files and data layers will become available over the next several days as we all anxiously wait to see where Gustav tracks.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Teachers, here's your pep talk for opening day

From the Dallas ISD, their 5th grade keynote speaker, Dalton Sherman. Thanks Kevin Jarret for pointing this out on your blog.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Big Dog video

This is both amazing and a little bit creepy.

SMART board lessons from Scholastic

I'm getting ready to show the Scholastic class homepage builder, and while browsing the site I came across a link to some SMART board lessons.

I saw this on Tony Vincent's website

Simple Spark is a directory of almost 10,000(!) web-based applications.

The directory is broken down into various categories including EDUCATION. Oh.My.Goodness. I need a sabbatical to look at them all! Fortunately, there is a brief description of each site.

Creating and sharing a "mathcast"

I haven't been able to access, and I wanted to demonstrate how to create a "mathcast" to a group of teachers. Then I remembered the Jing Project. This free software from TechSmith allows you to capture your screen-- either pictures or video-- and then upload your captures to TechSmith's website. You have 2 GB of storage for FREE, and Screencast includes embed code so that you can display your screen captures on your blog, wiki, or website.

Those teachers that have SMARTboards have the Notebook software to use to create their mathcast. If you don't have a SMARTboard you could use Microsoft Paint and your mouse to "write" with, although it's not as easy and will require some practice.

I also saw QlipBoard today, but haven't tried it yet. It may also be an option for screen captures.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Vote for me!

While doing research for my latest posts on netbook computers, I came across an interesting site:
They have a lot of great information on small computers, AKA "Liliputers."

I also happened to see that they were having a logo design contest, so I did my best to come up with one that reminded me of Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels (remember the Liliputians??).

Returning to the Liliputing site this morning, lo and behold, there was my design among all the others that had been submitted, and even better, an online poll that allows you to vote for your favorite.

Please go to the Liliputing site, and have a look at all the designs, and, if you think mine is the best, please VOTE FOR ME! The top 3 logos, as selected by the site designers, will win Amazon gift cards.

Above is my logo. Hope you like it.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Dell gets into the netbook business!

Rumor has it that Dell will launch the Inspiron 910 TODAY (August 22) for a price of $299!
Here's the leaked specs as posted on Gizmodo:

And they have a way cool red color too! And it has VGA output.

Well that didn't take long... Acer Aspire price cut!

I just read on Engadget that Acer has announed (TODAY) $50 price cuts on their Aspire one netbooks. Now the Linux model is $329, and the Windows XP model is $349!!!

Read for yourself:

Mogulus-- your own Internet TV studio!

I've only recently started playing around with It was very easy to set up and get started. Today, while clearing out my overcrowded aggregator, I came across a reference to I immediately set up a new free account, and now I'm playing around with the very cool Mogulus studio.

This site is WAY BEYOND what I was able to do with ustream. You can use multiple cameras, cue up pre-recorded video clips, do storyboarding, have a ticker... very advanced stuff like a real TV station would have in their control room.

You can even embed your TV station like I'm doing here:

Still MORE computer hardware news

I'm still catching up in my bloglines feeds, and found a reference to Intel's "Classmate PC." So immediately I Googled it and found their website which I'm sharing here:

They're being sold on Amazon, starting at $399 for a 900mhz celeron, 9" screen, 40GB HD, and 512MB RAM that runs Linux. For $50 more you can get Windows XP.

The "second generation" specs look similar to the Acer I wrote about last night, but I don't think they're on the market yet.

With so much computing being done in the "cloud" these days, a large hard drive is not as crucial as it used to be. Battery life can be increased and weight reduced with the advent of flash hard drives. I'm very excited about the possibility of 1:1 computing with these new "netbooks." I can't wait to try one!

Another good read on

This article deals with students communicating with their teachers via social networking sites. The good, the bad and the ugly are presented along with a couple of memorable quotes.

This one from a 52 year old Missouri teacher: "Just the very fact that I have MySpace makes them think, 'Well, maybe we can talk to this guy and open the lines of communication,' I realized this is a major way of communication for them."

Or how about this one from a school board lawyer: "As an educator, there is a line of demarcation between you and your student. It's a line that you cannot come close to, let alone step over. You've got to establish it from Day One and say, 'I'm not your buddy; I'm not your friend; I'm just your teacher.' "

One school board in Missouri has implemented a policy forbidding teachers and students from having any text-message conversations or social-networking friendships.

IMHO, schools are again trying to interpret shades of gray as either black or white. Not all teachers who use social networking sites or text-messaging to communicate with students are bad! And I'm not that naive to think that all of them are good either. But the "easy" solution is, once again, FORBID it, or BLOCK it for everyone because, as the 52 year old teacher observes, "... you are going to have people who are attracted to the profession because of easy availability of kids." And rather than increasing their efforts to identify, punish and prosecute the guilty, school boards would rather take a legitimate communication tool away from everyone.

Video games help kids learn?!?

That's what researchers are saying at the APA convention in Boston. Studies from Fordham University and Iowa State University are cited in an online CNN article:

Laparoscopic surgeons who played video games were 27 percent faster at advanced surgical procedures and made 37 percent fewer errors than those who didn't!

Parents and teachers have long suspected what was confirmed by other studies: "students who played violent games tended to be more hostile, less forgiving and believed violence to be normal compared to those who played nonviolent games. And those who played more entertainment games did poorer in school and were are greater risk of obesity."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

And since I'm talking about computer hardware...

Techbargains has found an unbelievable deal on an HP TABLET for $699 with free shipping!!! 160GB and 3GB RAM, DVD burner, webcam, wireless G, 8 cell battery. I bought one of these a few months ago for my wife and I paid WAY too much! A real deal. Get one before HP figures out they made a mistake:

This is awfully tempting!

Have you heard of "netbooks"??? Those small notebook computers that are becoming more and more popular? This Acer Aspire one from Circuit City looks pretty suh-weet! $380 with free shipping. I know, I know, a low end laptop doesn't cost much more, but this little baby weighs in at just over 2 pounds.

Ever since I saw the first ebook readers about 5 or 6 years ago, I was hoping for some kind of convergence between it and a handheld computer (i.e. Palm). Palms were too small for any real serious applications (especially if it involved typing), and laptops were too big and bulky. These netbooks are just the ticket.

When the price point gets under $250 I predict schools will be all over them!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Have a look at this!

It's Ben Hazzard's Cross-Classroom Collaboration Projects Matrix. (Try saying THAT 10 times fast!) Good stuff. Much to think about. As the LOL cats would say, "I haz a ponder."

more animals

This is absolutely BRILLIANT!

If you've never seen Jessica Hagy's Indexed blog, you are missing out on some insightful, humorous, way-outside the box thinking. Here is one of my favorite graphs she's ever done! I have tried my best to explain Web 2.0, but this picture says it all...

Read the Words demo

Check out this website!

Thanks to Vicki Davis, the coolcatteacher, for pointing out You can create educational games and graphic organizers that can be embedded on a website like this one:

Click here for full screen version

And still ANOTHER notredame Slideshare!

This one is on iPods:

I Pod In Education
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: ipod education)

And ANOTHER excellent Slideshare from notredame

The Web 2.0 alphabet!
Web 2.0
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own.

Advanced featuers of unitedstreaming

I found this excellent presentation on Slideshare. It's for more advanced users of unitedstreaming. Thank you to Slideshare user "notredame" for uploading it.
De Streaming
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own.

More Google Earth virtual field trips to download!

I just received an email from the Advanced Technology Environmental and Energy Center (ATEEC) announcing the addition of several brand new Google Earth virtual field trips that may be downloaded for free from their website. Quoting from the email:

ATEEC just released 7 new virtual field trips created by environmental science instructors. These virtual field trips were created as part our annual professional development workshop- the ATEEC Fellows Institute hosted in Alaska this year. All of these are of course FREE materials from our website (

If you teach science in high school or community college, you'll want to check these out. If you want to learn how to create your own in Google Earth, we also have a guide that shows you how to do it for free.

These are very timely topics with all of the talk of opening up ANWR for oil production.
Here's a description of the Effects of Climate Change VFT from their website: "An excellent exploration of Alaska's vastness and beauty. Plenty of pictures and video to enhance learning. Discover why permafrost is important, the challenges of building on it, and the effects that climate change the ecosystems that rely on it. Part two of this activity will take you to various glaciers in Alaska and around the world. Learn about the effects that climate change has on these receding glaciers and discover what it means on a greater level. Includes an excellent teachers guide to help instructors implement this lesson into their classroom."

And here's a mini-tour video. Please note that you can only see the pushpins in this video, not the pictures and video that are embedded in the VFT.

Climate Change- Permafrost and Glaciers: Google Earth Field Trip from ATEEC EICCD on Vimeo.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Add authors to Wikispaces or Blogger

I had a wonderful time last week with 15 dedicated teachers who learned about a whole bunch of Web 2.0 applications.

Today I received an email from one of the participants who could not remember how to add authors or editors to her wikispace and her blog. I created a quick video using the Jing Project which I am embedding here to answer that question for others who may be wondering how to do that.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The wonder of YouTube

We've been raising Monarch butterflies again this summer. I believe we've hatched 4 or 5 with 1 more to go. Today I found a Monarch with a broken wing. I put him (her?) on one of our butterfly bushes, then raced upstairs to the computer and Googled "repair Monarch broken wing."

Believe it or not, someone has posted a video on how to do just that! Sadly, I returned to our garden and could not find our wounded butterfly. Sigh. But now I know what to do if it happens in the future. Here's the video so you can learn too.

I certainly understand why schools need to block YouTube, but I wish there was a way to filter the bad videos and allow the good videos to be seen. There is so much to learn and so many people willing to teach through this new medium.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Digitizing primary sources

A colleague and I had another one of our "brilliant ideas" on helping our local historical museum to digitize its many primary source documents and photos with the ultimate goal of making these available to local schools and the community in general.

I came across the Institute of Museum and Library Services website which had information about the National Leadership Grants. In the grant guidelines PDF which I downloaded I found this treasure trove of links related to digitization which I include here for my own reference, but also for others who may be interested in this topic.

Resources for Digitization Projects
IMLS has published “A Framework of Guidance for Building Good Digital Collections” as a
resource for applicants planning digital projects. This document is now maintained by the
National Information Standards Organization (NISO) and is available at . The second edition of this document contains links to many Web sites with useful information for planning and implementing digital projects. IMLS offers a wealth of information, including lists of funded digital projects, at the Digital Corner on the IMLS Web site at

The list of resources below, provided to help you learn more about digital projects, is neither
exhaustive nor an endorsement by IMLS of any particular resource.

Many universities, organizations, and businesses provide training in digitization and related
topics. The following are examples only—check the general resource lists for leads to more
training opportunities and the topic lists below for training resources in specific subject areas. Moving Theory into Practice:
Digital Imaging Tutorial, by Cornell University Department of Preservation and
Collections Maintenance. —The Southeastern Library Network offers training in digital imaging,
copyright, digital preservation, and other related topics. —OCLC (Online Computer Library
Center) provides seminars, workshops, and online training in digital projects,
preservation, copyright, and other topics related to digitization.
General —The Collaborative Digitization Program’s Web site
(born as the Colorado Digitization Project) offers many digitization resources that include
information about copyright, metadata, digitization standards, and administrative
concerns. —Building Digital Collections: Technical
Information and Background Papers, Library of Congress American Memory Project. —Technical Guidelines for
Digitizing Archival Materials for Electronic Access: Creation of Production Master Files–
Raster Images, by Steven Puglia, Jeffrey Reed, and Erin Rhodes, U.S. National
Archives. —The American Museum of Natural History’s
Digital Library Project Web site has information on and links to resources on many
topics, such as planning, standards, and digital resources management. —Digitizing Images and Text, the Berkeley Digital
Library portal, links to resources on digitization projects, resources, and tools. —The Maine Memory Network provides
guidance and resources for its contributing cultural institutions such as libraries,
museums, archives, and historical societies. —The University of Illinois at Urbana-
Champaign Digital Imaging Media Technology Initiative provides resources about many
digitization topics, including a listing of current imaging programs, organizations, and
committees. —The Canadian Heritage Information Network has
information on creating and managing digital content. —The Handbook for Digital Projects: A
Management Tool for Preservation and Access, a Northeast Document Conservation
Center site, offers nine chapters from a handbook on project management, scanning,
copyright issues, technical topics, best practices, vendor relations, and longevity.
Includes many links to related sites. —The Digital Library Federation has publications on a
range of topics including digital image management and preservation. —Bibliotheca Alexandrina provides Digital Assets Factory
(DAF) digitization workflow tools. —The Bulletin of the American Society for Information
Science and Technology, vol. 30, no. 5, June/July 2004, contains a special section about
online museum information. —DigiStates online discussion list for people
working on collaborative statewide projects for the digitization of cultural heritage

Metadata —Metadata Demystified,
by Amy Brand, Frank Daly, and Barbara Meyers (Sheridan Press and NISO Press,
Introduction to Metadata: Pathways to Digital Information, edited by Murtha Baca (Getty
Research Institute, 2000).
Descriptive Metadata Guidelines for RLG Cultural Materials, by the OCLC Research
Library Group. —Best Practices for
OAI Data Provider Implementations and Shareable Metadata, by the Digital Library
Federation/National Science Digital Library. —PBCore: Public Broadcasting Metadata Dictionary, for
public broadcasters’ television, radio, and Web activities.
Preservation of Digital Material —Digital Preservation Management:
Implementing Short-term Strategies for Long-term Problems, a tutorial by the Cornell
University Department of Preservation and Collections Maintenance. —D-Lib Magazine has many articles on preservation of digital materials.
Intellectual Property —Center for Intellectual Property, University
of Maryland University College. —Copyright Management Center (CMC), Indiana University–
Purdue University Indianapolis.

Universal Access —The World Wide Web Consortium’s guidance and resources on Web
accessibility for people with disabilities. —The Trace Center’s Designing More Usable Web Sites
presents resources on universally accessible Web guidelines, compliance with Section
508, and forums for discussing accessibility issues. —WebAIM is a nonprofit organization within the Center for Persons
with Disabilities at Utah State University.

Water quality video-- just an example

I used this video to demonstrate to a group of teachers how easy it is to upload video to YouTube. For this short clip, it took only a couple of minutes to get the embed code I used to display the video here. It took YouTube a few more minutes to process and convert the video before it finally became visible on my blog.

100 best YouTube videos for teachers

One of the teachers in my 21st century teaching & learning workshop saved this site on his account. I added him to my network, and noticed this link to the 100 best YouTube videos for teachers.

There are some great choices on this list, but it is only the "tip of the iceberg."

I LOVE this video!


In honor of the Olympics...

... and Michael Phelps' 12,000 calorie a day diet, here's a classic SNL clip featuring John Belushi:

Remove the "next blog" button from Blogger

Many schools have blocked Blogger because of the "Next blog" button at the top of the page. Clicking this button causes a random blog to appear on your screen-- and who knows what might show up!

There is a work around for this problem that involves a little bit of template code hacking. I am quoting this solution I found posted in the comments of this post on Will Richardson's blog:

"The move to New Blogger simply required a different bit of code…add the following lines anywhere in the template [enclosed by tags] and the blogger banner will disappear.
#navbar-iframe {height:0px;visibility:hidden;display:none;}
This removes the whole navbar at the top of the blog, which solves our NEXT BLOG dilema…"

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"Educational" widgets

A teacher in our week-long Teaching and Learning in the 21st century summer institute asked if there was a list of "widgets" that could be used in a blog or wiki.

I googled "widgets for blogs" and came across Widgetbox. On their page they have a link to widgets that have been tagged for "education." Some really interesting content: Grammar Girl, a scientific calculator... hundreds or thousands. Some are obviously more educational than others, but there's some good stuff here if you're willing to spend some time browsing.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I can't remember if I posted this video before, but I think it would provide a nice, brief introduction to the power of collaboration. It's from a book by Charles Leadbetter entitled "We Think."

The interactive classroom

We had a fun session this morning! We used the SMART board and CPS clickers. I think most teachers now want one or both of these technologies for their classroom. I encouraged them to talk to their building or district tech committees or department chairs about finding some technology money to invest in this hardware.

Too often I think schools blindly upgrade their Office suite of software-- spending thousands of dollars-- without thinking about some of the other stuff that's out there. Most students and teachers know their way around Office 97 or 2000-- if the district upgrades to Office 2007, the menus and toolbars all look different and a simple task has suddenly become much more time-consuming.

I'm really hoping more schools will change to one of the online office suites (i.e. Google Docs) or an open source suite like Open Office or StarOffice. That way, students would be able to use the same software at home or at school without having to worry about file compatibility.

But getting back to the interactive classroom. I like to use the analogy of the TV news. 20 or 30 years ago, the 6 o'clock news wasn't much more than a "talking head." Today we have live remote broadcasts, graphics, doppler radar, and other visual ways of representing the information that are far more interesting for the viewer. Likewise, in the classroom, teachers can get away from being the "talking head" and allowing students to have a little more control, and make the lessons more interactive either through manipulating the SMART board, or using the CPS clickers.

I certainly hope these technologies catch on more in our county. We have a couple sets of clickers that teachers can check out. I hope they'll be in use all the time!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Day 1- 21st century teaching and learning

I had a full lab of 17 teachers eager to learn about web 2.0 and teaching and learning in the 21st century. I showed them the "did you know" video and the more recent "we think" and gave them a whole bunch of links to slideshare presentations, websites, documents, articles, and videos.

I'm sure it was overwhelming for many of them, but they were real troopers. They created their own Blogger blog, and subscribed to each other's blogs using Bloglines. I also put together a Moodle course site, but unfortunately it is only accessible from our school. Hopefully next week our tech guys will work out the IP problems and we'll be back online.

A few of the more advanced "students" added a Feedjit or ClustrMap to their blog. Within a few minutes of creating her blog, one attendee reported receiving a comment on a picture of her dog that she had posted-- and it wasn't from one of the other teachers-- it was from someone in Oregon or in India! That quickly!!!

I have really been after them to spend time reflecting, thinking, contemplating, processing, discussing, and then WRITING on their blogs about Web 2.0 and 21st century teaching and learning and how it all affects them and their students. And hopefully they'll visit each other's blogs to continue the conversations.

Tomorrow we tackle CPS clickers, SMART board, Flickr and Picnik. I think they'll have more fun with these than with all the serious thinking I asked them to do today. Hopefully their blogs will reflect that.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

R U really reading when U R reading online?

Take a few minutes to read and reflect on this article from the NY Times: Literacy Debate: Online, R U Really Reading? There are some compelling arguments both pro and con.

I, personally, find myself reading more and more online and less in the print media. I still get a daily newspaper, but much of the information, it seems, I've already encountered online.

I also like that I can read someone's writing whether or not they're a published author or columnist.

If an article is very lengthy I prefer to hit the print button and read it the old fashioned way. Not that I particularly enjoy the tactile feel of a piece of paper, but that it's easier on my eyes, or that I can take it anywhere to read.

I think there are a number of students (and some are cited in the article) that wouldn't pick up a book, but would prefer to read online. Likewise there are some who would prefer to LISTEN rather than read. In my opinion, it doesn't matter HOW the information gets into their brain, as long as it gets there! Let's face it. Many students would prefer some type of multimedia or interaction with their information. I do too. So does anyone who watches the evening news instead of picking up a newspaper, or listens to books on CD or on their iPod.

And as one 18 year old student in the article points out, the Internet allows one to quickly find and read differing points of view about a topic, and to have a conversation with others about that topic online. It's tough to argue with that.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

What will you do when technology changes and you can't keep up?

That's the question asked by Ira Socol on the "SpeEdChange" blog.
It's a good read! Check out the comments too.

I found the "SpeEdChange" blog because a former student of mine sent me a link to another of Ira's posts, this one on cell phones in the classroom:

I've just added this terrific blogger to my aggregator!

NASA celebrates 50 years

Way cool animated multimedia presentation you and your students should check out. There's a timeline along the bottom that takes you through the decades of space exploration. One subtle feature you may miss: watch the changing icon in the upper left corner of the screen go from a jukebox to an ipod as you progress through the decades, and listen to the musical soundtrack. You can change the song that's playing by clicking on the player controls beneath the media player.

This is a must see!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Look what I found!

You can get a FREE download of Thomas Friedman's "The World is Flat" audiobook! But only until August 11. Go to, submit your email address, and wait for further instructions on how to download.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

"Cancer's unxpected blessings" an article by Tony Snow

A couple of years ago someone told me how much I looked like former White House press secretary Tony Snow. I Googled him and came across a couple of pictures that confirmed that likeness. What was even more amazing to me was that he also played the flute!

You are probably all aware that he recently passed away after a courageous battle with cancer. I just found an article he wrote for Christianity Today entitled "Cancer's unexpected blessings."

It will only take a few minutes out of your day to read, but I believe you will find it time well spent: What an amazing testimony!

Friday, August 01, 2008

7 things you should know about...

Educause has a great series on a number of Web 2.0 and other tech-related topics called "7 things you should know about..."

I can't remember if I've listed this link before, but it's a page that lists all of the topics in the series:

The most recent additions are about the Wii and Second Life. These are very short (2 page) PDFs that would be a great introduction for teachers and other "newbies."