Thursday, November 12, 2009

Great ideas for using a pocket video camera

The Flip video camera has been around for a couple of years now, and it has been imitated by other companies including Kodak and Creative. These pocket video cameras are perfect for classroom use: they are less expensive than a traditional video camera (I got mine for $40 on Dell), they are basically "point and shoot" without a lot of extra buttons and settings, and they transfer video to your computer via a USB port (most DV cameras still use fire wire).

Through my Twitter PLN I learned of a terrific web page by Jennifer Nicholson with lots of resources for using these cameras in the classroom including this PowerPoint with a nice overview of their capabilities:

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Some great advice on Podcasting...

From 2nd graders in Silvia Tolisano's class...

Listen to their podcast, and learn more about their project on their teacher's blog:

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Automatic Flickr Creative Commons attribution

cc licensed flickr photo shared by dullhunk

Thank you CogDog (aka Alan Levine) for creating the Greasemonkey script that automatically generates embeddable HTML code and/or attribution text that is appropriate for a PowerPoint slide for Creative Commons photos!

If you want to try it for yourself:
1. Install the Firefox browser (if you aren't already using it)
2. Install Greasemonkey
3. Install the Flickr CC Attribution Helper script for Greasemonkey
4. Go to the Flickr Creative Commons and select a photo.
5. Copy the embed code and paste it into your blog or wiki.

Wow! That was easy! Thanks Alan.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Wikiality-- the reality of Wikipedia

Love it or hate it, block it or allow it, Wikipedia isn't going away. Many schools have blocked it because its reliability and validity are in question. Many students rely on it as their first (and perhaps only?) source of information.

I have used Wikipedia many times to find information and links that I have used in several presentations. But as an adult, I know the importance of questioning my sources of information. Many of our students are gullible and would accept any information as fact without bothering to check its accuracy.

Today I came across an excellent lesson plan about Wikipedia on the FactCheckEd website. There are student handouts, suggested activities, background information, and correlations to national standards-- AND this video from the Colbert Report entitled Wikiality:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Wikiality
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorHealth Care Protests

I think this is an important lesson and an important topic we need to address with our students.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A new way to create a digital story!

Storybird is currently a free site for creating digital stories. Here's a short video from their website that shows you what's possible:

Storybird Quick Tour from Storybird on Vimeo.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Love this preso!

I saw this on the Rainy Day Blog and had to have a copy of it for my own blog. Good stuff!

Did You Know? v4.0

Also see the Shift Happens wiki: for downloadable versions of the YouTube video.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Organize your Bloglines feeds

As you accumulate more and more RSS feeds in your Bloglines account, you may wish to organize them by subject or topic. Since I am following over 100 teachers' blogs for an online Web 2.0 class that I facilitate, I created folders for each class. Here's a 1 minute video that shows you how:

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Create, upload & embed a screencast with Jing

Using images in PowerPoint-- the good, the bad, and the ugly!

Garr Reynolds is one of the greatest presentation gurus in the entire world! I subscribe to his Presentation Zen blog, and today he came out with a great post that is both simple and brilliant.

I have seen (and even done) most of these 11 mistakes that people make when using photos or clip art in a PowerPoint presentation.

This is a great lesson for all of us:

My helpful tip: when resizing an image in PowerPoint, grab a corner "handle." That way you are simultaneously changing both the horizontal and vertical size of the image, and you will keep it in the proper ratio and not distort the image as Garr demonstrates.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Google Voice-- did you sign up yet?

I'm doing my best to figure out Google Voice, but it looks amazing! You can have ONE phone number, provided by Google, that will ring as many different phones as you like. You can screen calls based on the caller's phone number, and set customized greetings, or send them directly to voicemail.

Even better-- you can get a text transcription of your voicemails, and forward them to SMS or your email. You can even download voicemails as mp3 files, or, as shown here, embed recordings on your blog!

There's so much to learn, but it looks very promising. Some folks I know on Twitter have had Google Voice since it was known as Grand Central, and they can't imagine being without it.

I'm trying to wrap my brain around the possible applications for the classroom. In addition to not having to give out your personal phone number to students and parents, you can record custom announcements, similar to a homework hotline, for students to listen to. Students could also record themselves and have Google Voice provide a text transcript for them automatically. Similar to many of the other services that are out there, Google Voice can be used to record a podcast that can be embedded on a classroom website.

Please share your ideas for using Google Voice in the comments section of my blog. Thanks for your input.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Fun with your photos
Created with - photo fun

We choose the moon

This looks VERY interesting! A virtual re-creation of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, in real-time.

Here's a link to a USA Today article with more background info:

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Amazing stop animation video

Many students have created Claymation-type stop-animation videos. This one a colleague sent me is absolutely stunning! ENJOY!

Toolbelt Theory

Ira Socol is a very gifted blogger. Recently he presented at the MITS conference, and he shared his presentations on Slideshare. I've embedded one of his presentations, Toolbelt Theory, below.

I encourage you to read his blog, SpeEdChange. If you use Twitter follow @irasocol.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Follow the Tour de France in Google Earth

You will probably need to download and install the Google Earth browser plug-in to view this.

To view a 3D simulation of the terrain-- press and hold your mouse wheel in while dragging your mouse.

Great cartoons drawn on the back of a business card

Google Earth Placemarks

I've been working on a few short tutorials related to embedding content in Google Earth (GE) placemarks. (I have these posted on my wiki at: I hope you'll take a look)

I've been very impressed with the variety of content I've been able to embed in the GE placemark itself. In addition to photos and YouTube videos, I've also been able to embed:
Screencasts audio
flickr photostream
Google forms and presentations

For those of you in the Summer 23 Things class, embedding content in Google Earth is just like a "widget." You copy some HTML code from one site, and paste it someplace else, like your blog or wiki, or, in this case, Google Earth.

I'm sure that as I remember other Web 2.0 sites, I'll be trying to embed that content as well.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


East side of El Castillo at Chichen ItzaImage via Wikipedia

I'm experimenting with a new service called Zemanta that is supposed to automatically find links, articles, and photos as you type a blog post, or an email. Let's see if it works.

Chichen Itza is one of my favorite places to visit. The pyramid there, El Castillo, was recently selected as one of the 7 new wonders of the world.

Hey, whaddya know, it really worked! As I typed I clicked on an Update button on a Zemanta toolbar that is conveniently located on the right side of my Blogger window, and within a few seconds, several photos of Chichen Itza magically appeared! I dragged one of the photos, and Zemanta automatically placed it inside my blog post with an attribution link.

Here's another photo from Chichen Itza that I like:

El Caracol at Chichen ItzaImage via Wikipedia

Obviously I have a lot more to learn about Zemanta, but so far it was very easy to use.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I'm proud to say I follow the creator of this ezine, ktenkely, on Twitter. This is incredible! Her website is

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Google Labs presents Similar Images

Through my Twitter network today I learned about a new Google feature called "Similar Images." I had to try it out and it works very well!

After searching for an image, you have the option to find other images that are similar to the one you have in mind. No more searching through page after page of images that aren't relevant to your needs.

For example, here is a search for "beetle."

Maybe I'm looking for pictures of beetles on leaves. I click on the "similar images" link and VOILA...

Or maybe I need something more like this...

VERY helpful! Check it out for yourself:

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Transforming School Culture

I learned of this book and accompanying Voicethread (embedded below) from my Twitter network. Also see Bill Ferriter's "The Tempered Radical" blog for more information and a link to a PDF of Anthony Muhammad's book. This has really got me thinking about a summer book study conducted through a Voicethread.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Never mind the digital divide...

I came across this important information on the Reading Rockets blog by Joann Meier:
"In their book Summer Reading, Shin and Krashen summarize their research on summer access with these points:
  • The crucial activity that occurs during the summer, the activity that causes the difference in growth in literacy, is recreational reading. Children from higher-income families read more over the summer.
  • The reason middle-class children read more over the summer is that they have more access to books. They have more access to books at home, live closer to bookstores, and live closer to public libraries. Also, public libraries available to the children from high-income families are better. They have more books, more staff, and are open longer hours.
  • Other research confirms that children read more when they have more access to books.
So, here's the bottom line: Children of poverty need more access to reading material, especially during the summer."

Summer vacation is here in just a few weeks. What can we do? Read Joanne's blog next week to learn what her elementary school is doing.

Please add your suggestions to the comments section.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

From the department of "I wish I had said that..."

An open letter to the teacher who said "I hate technology" by Patrick Higgins:

Amazing. Truly amazing.

This took the artist, Lucinda Schreiber, 6 months from start to finish. She worked on it full time for 4 months. There are 1900 frames, and the video frame rate varies from 6 to 12 frames per second. Isn't it remarkable that something as low tech as a chalkboard could be used to create something high tech?

Firekites - AUTUMN STORY - chalk animation from Lucinda Schreiber on Vimeo.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Custom color palette based on your photo

A colleague asked about being able to scan in a wallpaper sample and finding out what colors are used. I seemed to remember reading about a website that would do just that, and after a search of my Bloglines feeds I came across this post at Cliotech (thanks Jennifer) that led me to pic2color.

Even better, pic2color has a way cool widget. Try it for yourself without ever leaving my blog. Browse for a picture on your computer, or paste the URL of one already on the web.

Here's one I did of an African Violet. Isn't that cool?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Universal Newsreels on YouTube

Today I discovered that over 600 Universal Newsreels have been archived on a YouTube channel. In our age of 24/7 news and live coverage, we, and especially our students, don't understand how slowly news traveled 50 years ago.

Here's a nice description from the Universal Newsreel channel:
In the pre-TV era, people saw the news every week in their neighborhood movie theaters. Newsreels were shown before every feature film and in dedicated newsreel theaters located in large cities. Universal Newsreel, produced from 1929 to 1967, was released twice a week. Each issue contained six or seven short stories, usually one to two minutes in length, covering world events, politics, sports, fashion, and whatever else might entertain the movie audience. These newsreels offer a fascinating and unique view of an era when motion pictures defined our culture and were a primary source of visual news reporting.

Here's video from 1933, of FDR and one of his fireside chats, in which he outlines his economic recovery plan.

Mapping the swine flu outbreak with Google Maps

I am a big fan of Google Maps. Not only can you create your own customized map, but you can invite others to collaborate. Recently we traveled to Washington, DC. I invited a few others who were more familiar with the area to add some of their favorite restaurants and attractions to a map I had created. You can add photos, videos, and links to your "bubble."

This map of the swine flu outbreak was created by Dr. Henry Niman. Click on one of the colored markers to learn more about each location.

I would love to see some students create maps related to local historical landmarks. They could include photos, audio, video, links to documents or articles.

View H1N1 Swine Flu in a larger map

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hummingbird nest cam

I'm a bird lover, and today while watching Dean Shareski and Alec Couros' presentation on ustream I was distracted by a link to a hummingbird webcam.

Check it out for yourself. Go directly to the ustream site to learn more about the nest, mama hummingbird, the location, etc. I am absolutely fascinated by this! When mama leaves the nest you can see 2 tiny eggs.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sick students go to school virtually

From CNN

Great new blog to follow- MakeUseOf

MakeUseOf features "cool websites, software and internet tips." There are several contributors to their website and they write on a variety of topics. A recent post was Top Educational Websites For Children That Are Fun. Check out 10 Essential Cheat Sheets To Download or a 50 page guide to iTunes:

Did you ever wonder how students are able to bypass your school's filter? You can learn how they did it and set up your own proxy server on your home computer! You can learn how to transfer executable apps to your USB thumb drive, or 10 YouTube embed code tricks.

Spend some time exploring their many links, articles, and reviews. I have so much to learn!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Today's must have software: LastPass

The reality of Web 2.0 is that we all have way too many usernames and passwords to remember. Using the same ones for multiple sites is far too risky, but we can't remember the complicated, secure passwords we know we should be using.

That's why I'm writing about LastPass. You only need to remember ONE password. LastPass will remember the rest. This free site has been recommended by ZDNet, Kim Komando, and PCMag among others.

After downloading the LastPass software and setting up your account, you can resume your internet activity. Whenever you log in to a site, LastPass will ask if you'd like it to remember your information. On future visits to that site LastPass will fill in the fields for you automatically.

And if you decide to change a password, LastPass will detect that, and even suggest a strong password for you to use. You won't have to remember it though--- LastPass will do that for you! Now you can use a different password for every site and make it as long and complicated as you like.

It gets better! If you're not on your home or office computer you can generate and use a one time password (OTP) to log in to your LastPass "vault." You can generate as many of these OTPs as you like, print them out and keep them in your wallet or purse. This protects you from key-logging software that may have been installed on a public computer.

I have a fingerprint reader that I use on my home computer, but not for long. I'll be migrating to LastPass.

Here's a video from their website:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

360 degree panoramic photos from around the world

Yesterday I worked with a group of teachers on Google Earth, specifically, on how they can create their own placemarks that contain pictures, links, videos, or even games.

Today I came across a wonderful site,, with panoramic photos from around the world. There are many from the USA including the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials in DC, the Grand Canyon, and the Golden Gate Bridge. But there are numerous locations that I'll probably never see in person that are truly fascinating to visit virtually. It's not as good as being there, but it's the next best thing.

When creating a Google Earth placemark you could provide a link to one of these interactive photos.

Check it out at:

The Grammar Girl in real life!

Her name is Mignon Fogarty and here's a behind-the-scenes video. Was that audacity software she was using to record her podcast?

Visit her website at You can also download her weekly podcasts in iTunes.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Twitter in plain English

Another great video from the Common Craft gang. In case you don't use Twitter, or maybe you just don't understand what all the fuss is about, perhaps this video will help you appreciate it.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Twitter in the classroom?

Twitter seems to be capturing everyone's attention lately. Here's a presentation I discovered on Jane Hart's e-Learning Pick of the Day blog that shows some interesting ways to use Twitter in the classroom.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The power of collective intelligence

Here's my story about connecting with people via Web 2.0 technologies and harnessing the power of collective intelligence. Once upon a time...

I was doing research on creating mathcasts, and came across Tim Fahlberg's Math247 wiki. I contacted Tim, and he became my mathcast mentor. He told me about the Livescribe Smartpen as a great way to creating a mathcast that is both low tech and high tech. The biggest drawback to the Smartpen, however, was that the videos it created (called "pencasts") could only be viewed on the Smartpen website, and not embedded on a teacher web page, blog, or wiki.

Meanwhile, I had finally joined Twitter and began following a number of people I had never met before. I became aware that Twitter was being used as a "back channel" of communication during conference presentations. I wanted to implement something similar for a presentation I would be doing on mathcasts at the MACUL conference, but I wasn't sure what the easiest way to set up a backchannel would be. So I asked that question on Twitter, and one of the people who responded was Ira Socol, a professor and author who writes an excellent blog, SpeEd Change.

Ira pointed me to a website called This was truly the simplest way to implement a backchannel. I thanked him for the advice and asked him how he happened across this website. His reply: his son, James Socol, created it!!!

Fast forward to last week. Mathcast guru Tim Fahlberg has managed to hack the HTML code so that a pencast can now be embedded on another web page. The problem is, 99% of teachers would never want to jump through all the proverbial hoops to make that happen. There still needs to be an easier solution, similar to the code that is automatically generated for embedding a YouTube video.

I shared the information Tim had on his wiki in a Twitter message to James Socol. Could he create a program that would take a pencast URL, and automatically strip the HTML code to create a block of embed code that could then be copied and pasted???

Here are his messages back to me (they are listed in reverse chronological order):

So in the matter of a few hours, a major pencast breakthrough was realized through the power of connecting and collaborating by people who had never met in person before. Tim said it best: I was able to "connect the dots," providing the link between his work and James'. A cool new technology, the Smartpen, just became a whole lot more powerful and easy to use!

I was able to share the Pencast Embed website that James created,, with the people who attended my MACUL mathcast session last Friday.

Another Twitter colleague knew of my interest in mathcasts and shared Julie McLeod's website. Julie's students have used the Smartpen to create and share pencasts. I in turn was able to share the Pencast Embed site with Julie to make updating her website just a little bit easier.

I am amazed at the willingness of total strangers to work together, not for profit or personal gain, but because they enjoy helping others and sharing their knowledge. So thank you Tim, Ira, and James for giving my story a happy ending. I plan to share my story of the power of Web 2.0 with all who will listen.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Help your students become citizens of the world

Ryan E. Smith wrote a great article for today's Toledo Blade: People help us become citizens of the world.

America is a weird place. If you don't notice, it's probably because you're too used to it. What you need for a new perspective is to speak with someone from another country.

And he ends the article with this: "becoming part of today's global society requires getting to know it personally."

Global and cultural awareness are important 21st century skills. How can our students possibly hope to develop these skills if they aren't foreign exchange students? Well, thanks to Skype and a lot of other Web 2.0 technologies, it's now a lot easier than it's ever been! In our county a fifth grade teacher organized a Global Explorers project with a school in Columbia. And there are countless other success stories.

An important first step for teachers is to become comfortable using Web 2.0 technologies. I'm happy to say that 39 teachers and administrators from around our county are currently involved in an online "23 things teachers should know about Web 2.0" class.

You can also download Skype for free, and experience real-time videoconferencing with your family and friends.

Here is the video Ryan shared on the Blade website. It features foreign exchange students sharing their impressions of the United States. I'm sure our students would experience culture shock of their own in other countries as well.

The last panel of this comic is profound!

Does the student in this strip sound like anyone you know? Frazz's observation is quite profound. In their desire to use technology in the classroom, very often teachers focus their energy on creating fact-based internet scavenger hunts (incorrectly called Webquests by many) without really thinking about the LEARNING that should be taking place.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Do our students really have a voice?

Just ask Ty'Sheoma Bethea who was sitting beside First Lady Michelle Obama during President Obama's speech last night. About two weeks ago this young lady walked to the public library, sat down at a computer and typed out a heartfelt letter to Congress shown below in its original format!

The next day she gave the letter to her principal. The principal scanned it and emailed to South Carolina's representatives and the White House. (Now as an aside, do you know any principals who would NOT be able to do that by themselves?)

And the rest, as they say, is history!

The power of Web 2.0 is in giving a voice to those who have never before had a voice... like our students! I don't expect every student to get such a reaction and the notoriety as Ty'Sheoma did, but it COULD happen! And even if it doesn't, how wonderful for our students to feel like they matter to the President of the United States of America!

Read more about this remarkable story on the Chicago Tribune website.

And a special thank you to Keisa Williams, another valuable member of my Twitter network, for the links used in this post.


This game is addicting!

I follow a lot of great blogs in my Bloglines account. Today, on his Whiteboard Blog, Danny Nicholson shared a site called Physics Games that has a lot of fun games that can be played on a SMARTboard. I found this one, Bubble Quod, to be quite addicting! The object of the game is to escape by finding a sharp, pointy thing that will pop the bubble you are trapped in.

Playing a game may seem superfluous or silly, but they offer a great way to engage students in thinking about the laws of Physics and motion as they plan their strategy for beating each level.

Best of all, each game can be "embedded" in your own teacher web page!

My Twitter Network

You know how Verizon wireless proudly proclaims their network is behind you? Well, I've got my own network behind me, providing me with answers, questions, links, laughs, and random thoughts 24/7/365. My Twitter network:

Get your twitter mosaic here.