Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I love this song/video

I saw this on the Open Culture blog-- OC finds all the best stuff on YouTube-- and I liked it so much I wanted to share it with you and keep it for myself.

New layer in Google Earth-- view art masterpieces up close

View these works of art in stunning high resolution-- see brush strokes and even cracks in the paint. I hope there's more galleries to come. Wouldn't it be incredible to see the most famous paintings in the world this way?

Inauguration Day links

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Win a netbook lab for your school from Acer

And you also have an opportunity to try an Acer computer for free for 30 days, and buy one for 1/2 price!

Google maps mashups

I posted yesterday on how easy and fun it is to create your own Google Maps. Today in Twitter, Angela Maiers posted a link to a great resource: Google Maps: 100+ Best Tools and Mashups. There's lots to explore here but it looks like there are possible educational uses for some of these mashups, and many for personal use.

Is Web 2.0 over???

A colleague sent me a link to this article from CNN: Web 2.0 is so over. Welcome to Web 3.0

I've been an evangelist for all things Web 2.0 in an online 23 things class. The prospect of web-based applications disappearing overnight because they aren't making any money would be enough to discourage a great number of teachers from ever dipping their toe in the Web 2.0 waters. Teachers hate it when their word processor is upgraded, or their electronic gradebook changes from one provider to another. They won't be thrilled with the prospect of their wiki or blog or any number of other applications they've invested a lot of time in suddenly going away, often without warning.

Here is my email response to my colleague. It isn't especially compelling or noteworthy, but it's my passionate, heartfelt, reflective response to the article:

There are websites that appear and disappear all the time. For example, I really liked Here today, gone tomorrow, and now it's back again. Sort of. The big money players like Google and Yahoo will be fine, but the little guys still have "I hope Google or Yahoo buys me" at the center of their business plan.

The only good news is that once the coding has been done, most applications rely on server space, and it has become ridiculously cheap compared to what it once was. I think many sites will be free for awhile to hook the users, then take their site out of beta and ask for a minimal subscription fee. The Jing Project just did that... they still have a free version, but their "Pro" version costs $15 a year. And another favorite of mine, Voicethread, has a $60 annual classroom subscription price. I don't think that's unreasonable. So while apps may not be forever free, they will still be affordable to most users. I can live with that.

The bigger picture of web 2.0, in my opinion, revolves around the idea that ANYONE can be a writer, publisher, photographer, videographer, etc. and be able to display their work for the whole world to see, regardless of the application or website they used. It's so much easier and doesn't require any special HTML skills, or a domain, or a server, or FTP, or any of that mumbo jumbo that required one to be a webmaster.

I can shoot a picture and have it up on Flickr in seconds. I can edit a video and have it seen by millions of people if it's good. I can write my own book of poetry or a novel and I don't need a publisher, or an agent or an editor... I can perform and share my music without a recording contract or a producer or a publicist... well you get the idea. That is especially powerful and meaningful for our STUDENTS! They now have an AUDIENCE!

The other unique aspect of web 2.0 is the ability to collaborate with people from around the world. If I'm into the bagpipes there may not be anyone for 100 miles around I can share my hobby with. But online, I can probably find 100's of people to communicate and share with. Obviously if someone is into bomb-making that's a whole other problem we need to be concerned about, but I choose to focus on the positive aspects. Again, a very powerful paradigm shift for our classroom-- my classmates are the citizens of the world!

So although websites and applications may come and go, the fundamental ways in which we communicate and collaborate have changed for the better with the advent of web 2.0.

More SMART board resources

James Hollis has a wonderful blog about all things related to the SMART board. Today he included a link to a website by a kindergarten teacher that has dozens of downloadable SMART board Notebook files.

Nicole Mobley teaches at Sandlapper Elementary school in Columbia, SC. She has had a SMART board for only a couple of years and has spent many hours creating a variety of lessons that you can download and use TODAY! For free!

Her lessons include songs, links to interactive websites and videos, and all of the other fun things your students will enjoy doing on the SMART board. If you are a primary teacher visit her website, the SMART way to teach today!

Mathcast Presentation at MACUL

I'm pleased to say that I will be presenting a Mathcast session at the MACUL conference in Detroit, MI in March. If you attend I hope you'll say hi.

MACUL 09 Presenter

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Create an interactive Google Map

I highly recommend you allow your students to create an interactive Google Map like this one I've created of Washington DC. Not only can students use Google to find important landmarks to include in their map, but they can also customize the "bubbles" to include pictures and hyperlinks to other websites. It's even possible to embed YouTube videos (click on the pushpin for the National Air and Space Museum to see an example).

When your map is finished you can embed it on a class webpage, wiki, or blog. Your students can work collaboratively or individually, but a Google account will be necessary to save your maps.

It's possible to do the same thing in Google Earth, but using Google Maps will allow your students to update their map from any computer with internet access, and without the need to install the GE software.

Create a Google Lit trip, a History trip, examples of landforms or biomes... The possibilities are limited only by your creativity!

View Larger Map