Monday, September 29, 2008


Dr. Scott McLeod, blogging at Dangerously Irrelevant, started a Yahoo Fantasy Baseball league for 12 edubloggers back in April. Now that the season is finally over, I'm proud to announce that I WON! I WON!

Maybe Scott will send me a CASTLE coffee mug?

Do you take time to reflect?

Jeff Utecht, one of my favorite bloggers, has another brilliant post: "Do you give yourself permission to reflect?"

Take 10 minutes to read it and the many thoughtful, insightful comments that follow. And if you still have a few more minutes to spare, REFLECT!

Friday, September 26, 2008

I know this guy! Heck, I work with him

We went out to lunch together. I'm not worthy! He's Chuck Estep, our Social Studies Curriculum Resource Consultant, and he's on the cover of the Cable in the Classroom magazine for his work on the MCISD's award-winning virtual field trip program.

Read more about it, and listen to an mp3 of an interview with Chuck on the CIC website:

Tim Davies' "one-pagers"

Here's a long list of one page guides to a number of different Web 2.0 technologies including blogs, wikis, Twitter, Google Maps, RSS... you get the idea. These would be excellent introductions to these newfangled technologies for the "newbies" in your buildings.

Tim is a 23 year old independent consultant, researcher and social entrepreneur now based in Oxford, UK. Nice work Tim! Thanks for sharing these.

Virtual jogging with a Wii-mote

A Wii-mote is Nintendo's wireless motion-sensitive controller for their Wii video game system. Someone in Japan has figured out how to use Google Maps Street View as a virtual world for jogging with the Wii-mote, similar to the jogging game in Wii Fit. The motion on the screen is not very fluid, because Google Maps Street View is a series of still photos, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time before this technology evolves and we'll be able to jog anywhere in the world virtually.

Try to run on the google street view like a jogging game of wii fit from katsuma on Vimeo.

Hot off the press- my October newsletter

Create, communicate, collaborate

Alan Levine's CogDogBlog had a truly remarkable story today! Last night Alan was in a restaurant in Hong Kong and took a picture of the TV screen with his cell phone of the Chinese rocket lifting off. He posted the photo to Flickr, and now, this morning, the picture is on the Discover Magazine blog!
Isn't it amazing how connected we've become?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Brain Rules Presentation

Brain Rules for Presenters
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: reynolds garr)

Technorati State of the Blogosphere

Rather than just a chart that shows the tremendous growth of blogging over the past 5 years, Technorati conducted a survey of a random sample from the over 1 million bloggers who have registered with Technorati.
They've done a nice job of reporting their data with lots of tables and graphs like these pie charts.
Among the many quotes, these 2 jumped out at me:

“The word blog is irrelevant, what's important is that it is now common, and will soon be expected, that every intelligent person (and quite a few unintelligent ones) will have a media platform where they share what they care about with the world.”
Seth Godin

“The future of blogs will have arrived when you check your favorite blog for sports news in the morning, instead of your local paper.”
Richard MacManus
Founder / Editor

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Keeping things in perspective

I have a puppy, well technically he just turned 1 so that makes him a dog, who loves to go outside, find the nearest stick, and be chased around the yard. If only I could be that happy over something so simple. This LOL dog pretty much sums it up...

see more puppies

Monday, September 22, 2008


While working with colleagues on an upcoming presentation, I came across the Florida Educational Technology Clearinghouse (FETC) Lit2Go website. There are hundreds of downloadable audio books in an mp3 format. But even better, the Lit2Go site makes PDFs of the text available as well!

You can browse the collection by author or title, search the database by keyword or reading level, and even add titles through iTunes.

Unlike many of the other free, public domain audiobooks sites I've visited, the Lit2Go website has shorter readings in addition to full length novels, and a large selection for younger readers.
Spend some time browsing their extensive and growing collection today:

Need a USB headset mic???

Here's the deal of the day from!

$31.77 shipped free, $10 rebate, final cost: $21.77

(FYI, the same headset at Best Buy is $52.99)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I DARE you not to smile while watching this video!

Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

I wonder how many of these places can be found in Google Earth?

First impressions of the Acer Aspire One "netbook"

I've really enjoyed using our new Acer Aspire One (AA1). Despite it's smaller size, the keyboard is not bad for my rather large hands. I only seem to have problems when I try to use the backspace key.

The size is truly amazing! The computer is not much bigger than its manual! When slipped into the black vinyl sleeve it looks and feels like a small leather-bound book.

Our AA1 has Linux, and an 8 GB flash based hard drive that is expandable with up to an 8 GB SD card. There's a VGA port, a couple of USB slots, network port, a 5 in 1 card reader, and headphone and microphone jacks. It has a built-in 1.3 megapixel webcam and microphone, and a wireless card.

I've had no problems getting on to any wireless networks so far, which I can't say for a couple of Macbooks I've tried on my home wireless network. The Firefox browser has worked well, and I haven't yet found any websites that wouldn't load. The Acrobat Reader has also worked, and although I haven't used it yet, Open Office is preloaded.

I've downloaded and used Skype without issue, and I've even managed to figure out how to get the Skype icon on the desktop. It wasn't easy, but with the right information from a couple of websites, I was able to "hack" my way in. It's also possible to search for and install other Linux apps like Tux paint, Tux type, and many others. I think I have about 3 GB left on my hard drive so I will need to think about buying an expansion SD card if I want to install many more programs.

The list price for the Linux version is $329. Education resellers prices may be lower (ours was $317 from CDW-G). There is also a Windows XP version available with a conventional hard drive that lists for $379.

I'm really excited by the potential for using these netbooks in a 1:1 initiative. I showed ours to a principal today, and she is looking into funding a classroom set with a grant.

Stone Soup

Growing up in the 1960's, I loved watching Captain Kangaroo every morning. One of the stories that was told from time to time was "Stone Soup" by Marcia Brown. According to wikipedia, "Stone Soup is a Grimm Brothers[citation needed] tale about returning soldiers and their guise to get a selfish, starving town to learn the lesson of cooperation and its benefits. As with all Grimm Brother tales, it offers a lesson to those willing to read between the lines. The fable of the stone soup is about co-operation amid scarcity. "

I thought about the spirit of that story as I reflected on the past week in Toledo, Ohio, the site of an Extreme Makeover Home Edition (EMHE). Coincidentally, a couple of my colleagues were directly connected to the makeover. One of them knows the Frisch family personally, and the other colleague's wife works for the company that was in charge of building the new home. He took a week off from work to volunteer on the site, spending as long as 20 hours in one day onsite.

They both told wonderful, heartwarming stories about the family and the thousands of people who came together to provide a new home for this deserving family. But the story doesn't end with the family moving back into their home! The people and businesses of the greater Toledo area continue to collect money, and provide goods and services that will touch this family for many, many years. For example, the University of Toledo has pledged full scholarships to the 11 boys in the Frisch family (8 were adopted, 5 of them from Haiti).

On my way to work this morning I happened to hear an interview on the radio that listed some of the many ways people came together for this family. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up, and I got goosebumps to learn of this outpouring of care, love, and concern for a family that these people had never met. Wave after wave of good deeds, and this in spite of the relatively high unemployment rate and economic down turn of the local economy. (You'll be able to hear the interview after it's posted to Mary Beth & Rick's blog: They've also posted some pictures)

For at least a few days now we have had a welcome respite from the bad news and the many problems in our world. We have focused our attention on all that is truly good about people despite our own personal problems. I can only hope the same goodwill is evident in the other locations that EMHE visits.

This experience illustrates the enormous power of COLLABORATION! And with the many Web 2.0 tools that are now available to students around the world, we have a responsibility to teach our children of the potential we have to change the world.

As Dr. Seuss said: "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."

Monday, September 15, 2008

Storytelling 101

The sound and the visuals don't always align, but it's a very captivating story about storytelling. Thanks to Dean Shareski for the link. This is a great example of how to use visuals in a PowerPoint presentation.

Storytelling 101
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: sherlock rockstar)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Defining who you are online

I'm reading a terrific article in the New York Times by Clive Thompson entitled "I'm so totally, digitally close to you." Still reading it as a matter of fact, but I simply had to stop reading and post this money quote:

"If you don't dive in, other people will define who you are. So you constantly stream your pictures, your thoughts, your relationship status and what you're doing--right now!-- if only to ensure the virtual version of you is accurate, or at least the one you want to present to the world." A very powerful epiphany.

Thanks to Ira Socol for pointing it out on his SpeEdChange blog, and also for his very intelligent response to the NY Times article in his post entitled "Back to the Future."

I have truly discovered the "strength of weak ties" through my RSS feeds and the people I follow on Twitter.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Extreme makeover home edition comes to Toledo

One of the best shows on TV is ABC's Extreme Makeover Home Edition. This week, a very deserving Toledo, OH family is the recipient of an extreme home makeover.

I looked up the homesite on Google Maps and came up with this street level view of what I believe to be the house.

View Larger Map

The Frisch's have 11 children, many of them adopted. Mr. Frisch is a Toledo firefighter, and Mrs. Frisch has battled medical problems. You can read more on the following websites:
Build with

This episode will air in November on ABC. Bring lots of kleenex!

September 11th explained on BrainPop

A very sensitive, difficult topic to discuss for many teachers, and parents, is September 11, 2001. It's hard for me to believe it's already been 7 years. Many of our upper elementary and middle school students may have no idea what happened, or, more importantly, WHY it happened.

BrainPop has done a very nice job of explaining the what, why, where, and how of this important day in our nation's history.

I'm a big fan of James Hollis' blog, Teachers Love SMART Boards. I emailed James to ask him about the website, which seems to have disappeard from the internet, and to tell him about my idea for using the Jing Project as an alternative.

He in turn told me about which, like Jing, will allow you to record and then upload a screencast for free, and then to embed that recording in a blog or wiki.

I just looked at the site briefly, and it seems like a winner! Here is a sample screencast that James Hollis created with FreeScreencast:

Monday, September 08, 2008

FREE Starbucks coffee for teachers!

Here's the official info from the Starbucks website:

Thank you Doug Johnson

I'm still catching up with some of my Bloglines feeds from the past 2 months. Today I finally got to reading some of Doug Johnson's Blue Skunk blog.

He shared the slides from a presentation he did that contradicts the old story about how a banker or doctor from 100 years ago couldn't function in a bank or hospital today, but that a teacher from 100 years ago could do quite well in a classroom.

Have a look!

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: my talk)

Saturday, September 06, 2008

I love this Fuji camera!

I found this great little camera on the Best Buy website. It's an 8 megapixel point and shoot that comes with a 1 MB SD card and a little carrying bag for $110. Now what's really cool is that it shoots video-- full 640X480 and 30 frames per second--- in avi format. You can fit about 20 minutes of video on the 1 MB SD card.
I'm a BIG fan of the Flip video cameras, but they only do video. This Fuji camera will do both stills and video.
Check it out for yourself on the Best Buy website.

Vicktory Dogs

Yes, that's the correct spelling. I just watched the premier of Dog Town on the National Geographic channel. It was 2 hours on the rescue and rehabilitation of Michael Vick's pit bull terriers. I am such a dog lover that some of this program was very difficult for me to watch. There is a happy ending however, thanks to the dedicated staff of the Best Friends animal sanctuary in southern Utah, the "dog town" in the title of the show.

Best Friends has a YouTube channel, and here's a short video on the "Vicktory" dogs featured in the TV show.

Copyright comic book

I saw a link to this great resource on Clarence Fisher's blog, Remote Access. It's a 12 page, full color comic book about copyright. It does a nice job of teaching what "intellectual property" is. It's from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

Download the PDF here:

Technorati claim

Technorati Profile

Friday, September 05, 2008

Search flickr creative commons

Found this great website on Jeff Utecht's blog. It allows you to search the flickr Creative Commons, and then, by clicking on a thumbnail of a photo, will give you the embed code WITH the correct citation format! Like this cute photo of a Boston Terrier, my favorite dog breed.

Photo by Elevated
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License

My first cartoon

Created with Comic Life with some help from BeFunky and DesignComics.

Read this document on Scribd: cartoon1

Cool school tool: authorSTREAM

I like slideshare, but today I found a site that makes sharing presentations WITH narration much easier: authorSTREAM.

Here's a nice example of a presentation with narration from Shawn Brandt.

Uploaded on authorSTREAM by sbrandt

Graphic novels--- they're NOT comic books!

I've been doing some research on creating comics and graphic novels, particularly in the Web 2.0 "cloud." I just checked out a book entitled "Drawing Words & Writing Pictures" by Jessica Abel & Matt Madden.

There is an interesting companion website to the book, and while exploring the various links I came across this trailer to a new graphic novel to be published this fall. WOW!

You can view other trailers from first second books here:

SMART board resources now in netTrekker d.i.

From an email I received from netTrekker this morning...

900 SMART resources are now available in netTrekker d.i.

SMART resources were developed in SMART Notebook software, correlated to curriculum standards, and can be customized to suit the needs of your classroom.

In addition to being available throughout netTrekker d.i. search results in elementary, middle and high school, SMART resources are easily accessible by performing a search and selecting SMART in the Collections refinement menu.

netTrekker d.i. is available FREE to all Michigan educators who sign up for a Michigan LearnPort account. Here's a short video tutorial I created that will show you how:

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Online comic creators

I hit the jackpot when I found this blog post from Down the Tubes:
which lists MANY online comic creators from the US and abroad.

I've seen a few of these before, but there are several others that look promising.

September Technology Update newsletter

I haven't used in a long time. Here's my attempt at embedding a PDF I uploaded.

Read this document on Scribd: 08sept tech update

Hey, it really worked!

More on netbooks

Dell FINALLY put their Inspiron Mini 9 netbook on sale on their website today. Currently, only a Windows XP version is available. The Linux version won't go on sale until October.

I was not very impressed with the price/features of the Dell as compared to the Acer Aspire One netbook that I had written about previously. CDW-G has the Aspire One in white for $329. They're no longer listed on the Circuit City website. I ordered one today. I'll be sure to let you know my impressions when it arrives.

And now you can purchase a "refurbished" Asus Eee PC in your choice of 5 colors from the for $250!!! It only has a 7" screen though, as compared to the 9" screen on the Dell and Acer netbooks.

I would love to get a grant to outfit a class with netbooks to see what's possible. I believe this is the future of any 1:1 laptop initiatives, especially if the price point drops below $250. A few years ago, this was the price for a Palm and keyboard.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Food for thought

Here's an excerpt from a SpeEdChange blog post by Ira Socol worth thinking about:

"Consider all the things routinely done in classrooms that threaten students who are less than perfect: "Trading papers" with the student next to you. Passing tests, homework, or in-class assignments "forward." Having one student collect the work of other students. Putting grades on the front of papers. Letting students pick through a pile of graded work to find their own. Required writing on the board. Requiring students to read outloud. Demanding answers from students who are struggling. Is public humiliation a goal? Or is it just that no thought at all has gone into it?

What is funny about this is that the very same teachers who might be extremely sensitive to humiliations in physical education or on the playground ("just because I'm not good at sport shouldn't be a reason to be humiliated by being picked last, or laughed at") seem most oblivious to the everyday humiliations of struggling students in school. But those humiliations push students away from school, away from learning, and away from opportunity - and they are often pushed away long before they reach the age of eight.

So next time you look at the students in your room, and ask for an activity, consider this: Think about being in front of a room full of your peers, people you must see everyday, and being forced to do whatever you are absolutely worst at - singing opera, painting with oils, dancing ballet, doing gymnastics - in front of everyone. Now imagine them all laughing at you, and judging you worthless.

Then re-think your classroom environment. Please." - Ira Socol

Read the entire post here:

And speaking of Comic Life...

They offer very generous education discounts! A 25 seat license for Comic Life Deluxe for only $199.00!!!

Get an individual license for $19.99!

Google Chrome comic book

OK, maybe I should say it's a "graphic novel." But back in the day, they were comic books and heaven forbid you actually got caught with one in school!

But seriously, Google has a wonderful way to introduce their new "Chrome" browser:

I haven't tried the new browser yet, but their comic book got me to thinking (again) about how this is yet another way to tell a story--a way that many students would love to try!

I know that macs have a version of "Comic Life" pre-loaded (or at least they did a couple of years ago), and there are other free online comic creators (I'll have to go back through my Bloglines and delicious account to find them). I'd be interested to see what students could come up with if given the chance.

Check out the Google Chrome comic book, and brainstorm some assignments that students could complete in a similar way.