Sunday, December 31, 2006

Historical Sites Are Educating With Podcasts

Historical sites are taking advantage of podcasts to educate visitors. Read an interesting article about three of these sites and follow the links to learn more.

• Colonial Williamsburg has podcasts which provide visitors with information about its history.
• Jefferson's home has podcasts on its web site, including one that deals with restoration efforts and another, with the Declaration of Independence.
• Richmond National Battlefield Park has a podcast of a Civil War battle that took place at Malvern Hill in 1862.

image and license:

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Interesting Education Blogs to Read

What blogs are you reading? You may find one or more of the following education blogs interesting. A description of the blog, the author, and the blog's URL are listed for each one. When you visit these blogs, check out the other blogs their authors recommend.

Learning.Now, at the crossroads of Internet culture & education with Andy Carvin

“Explores how new technology and Internet culture affect how educators teach and children learn... offer[s] a continuing look at how technology such as wikis, blogs, vlogs, RSS, podcasts, social networking sites, and the always-on culture of the Internet are impacting teacher and students' lives both inside and out of the classroom.”


Tim Lauer is principal of Lewis Elementary School in Portland,
Oregon. He maintains a blog about how educational technology “can be used by teachers and students to gain a greater understanding of their world, and as a means to tell their stories…”

weblogg-ed: the read/write web in the classroom

During the past year I have learned more from Will Richardson about
expanding the boundaries of learning than anyone.” –Alan November, April 2005

“Maintained by… Will Richardson, “Learner in Chief” at Connective Learning and the author of Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms published by Corwin Press... site is dedicated to discussions and reflections on the use of Weblogs, wikis, RSS, audiocasts and other Read/Write Web related technologies in the K-12 realm, technologies that are transforming classrooms around the world.”

Kathy Schrock's Kaffeeklatsch

“Webster's defines kaffeeklatsch as 'an informal gathering to drink coffee
and chat.' It is a perfect analogy for a blog! (And you are welcome even if you don't drink coffee!) I will be posting thoughts, discoveries, and ideas here as I discover them, mainly on the topic of educational technology, and I invite you to do the same!”

Moving at the Speed of Creativity: the weblog of Wesley Fryer

“Wesley Fryer is an educator, author, digital storyteller and change
agent... addresses a range of topics related to education, technology integration, distance learning, and twenty-first century literacy... won in the eSCHOOL NEWS blog contest in the Education Theory category...”

Applied Science Research

“Newtown High School, 12 Berkshire Road, Sandy Hook, CT 06482. The
Applied Science Research Program Blog: Designed to promote students' understanding of concepts by exploring and sharing ideas with other students. Developed and maintained by Frank LaBanca... won in the eSCHOOL NEWS blog contest in the Classroom Instruction, Students category...”


“Written by Andrew Rotherham, co-founder and co-director of Education Sector... A higher-education administrator who mixes insights on education theory with sound, practical advice... won in the K-12 Administration category in the eSCHOOL NEWS blog contest...”

Bill MacKenty: Technology strengthens, deepens, and broadens our learning...

“I'm an instructional designer at Hunter College High School. I help people integrate technology into the curriculum. I am also very keen on the role of games in education.”

Practical Theory: A View from the Classroom

“Chris Lehmann, Principal of the Science Leadership Academy in
Philadelphia, PA (Opened 9/06)... What I did: Technology Coordinator / English Teacher / Girls Basketball Coach / Ultimate Coach at the Beacon School, a fantastic progressive public high school in Manhattan.”

Assorted Stuff

“Tim Stahmer, an Instructional Technology Specialist working in the Office
of Instructional Technology Integration for an overly large school district on the Virginia side of Washington DC... Observations on the state of public education in the United States and the perpetual efforts to reform it... plus comments on instructional technology, movies, TV, the web, other media, a very small dab of politics, and the everyday oddities of life that pop up... which is why the site is called Assorted Stuff... won in the eSCHOOL NEWS blog contest in the Classroom Instruction, Teachers category...”

Teaching and Developing Online

Darren Cannell is the author of this online learning blog from the
Saskatoon Catholic School System. “The Cyber School has recently launched its first set of elementary lessons and resources based on technology for grades 4 and 5 as well as mathematics resources for grades 7 and 8... Cyber School has further advanced its contributions to the education system by developing and launching 'Online Teacher Learning Communities'... These 'Learning Communities' serve as a collection of useful resources for grade levels from kindergarten to grade 12 and encompass all subjects from Physical Education to Aboriginal/First Nations Education... The resources are for both online uses as well as printable copies for classroom use.”

2 Cents Worth
of believing that learning about the world can be as exciting as the world really is

David Warlick “explores the changing nature of information and ways that it changes our notions of what it means to be literate in the 21st century.”

More About Wikis

In an earlier entry, I wrote about wikis. David Jakes adds more interesting information about them in an article he wrote for techLEARNING. He covers how wikis work, their educational benefits... and the potential concerns, their maintenance, available wiki tools, wikis to watch, and how you can learn more about them. This article is definitely worth reading.

News Sources, Family Resources, and a Video Project Tool

Which sources do teens use to keep current with the news? What's a good source of web sites to share with families? How do you and your students plan your video projects? Check out these web sites for answers to these questions.

Online, television, newspapers… which source do high school students access for news? Which do they think is the most accurate? Which do they rate as the easiest-to-use source? Do their high school teachers agree?

Read the interesting results of a survey of more than 14,000 students and almost 900 teachers last spring at this site.

Check out this site for activities for preschool, K-12, and parents. Younger children can listen to nursery rhymes being read ( while they view beautiful illustrations. ESL teachers may find these pages useful for their students and primary teachers can print the illustrations to use as manipulatives for teaching sequencing. Additional preschool activities include theme activities, letters and numbers, and a “read with me” section.

Study sites, best books, puzzles, and word wonders make up the K-12 section. The study sites are categorized by topic and grade level.

And parenting features, gifted and talented, special education, and web resources are available for parents. The parenting features include information on safe surfing on the web.

If you use or are thinking about using a video project in your class, you may want to consider using StoryBoard Pro, a free tool from (You do not have to subscribe to Atomic Learning to download this freeware software—for Macs or Windows-based computers --or to view the 16 free movies that are available to learn about the software.) This tool helps you to plan ahead when you or your students create video projects.

The web site lists these features for StoryBoard Pro:
* Enter shot titles and descriptions, complete with planned lengths and edited order.
* Indicate shot types: video, still, audio, music, or titles.
* Enter film tips for your camera person when videotaping the shot and editing tips to be used when editing in iMovie, Movie Maker 2, Final Cut Pro, Premeire, or any other editor of your choice.
* Import existing video clips, still pictures, and sounds to better illustrate each shot.
* Create, save, and import templates for video projects.
* Print copies of your storyboard for use while filming or editing.
* Print blank storyboard worksheets for brainstorming new ideas.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Some Interesting Facts About MySpace

True or False: the majority of US visitors to MySpace are 35 or older.

True. Surprised? Elinor Mills shares this and some other interesting data about MySpace in an October 5, 2006 article in CNET (

51.6 % of the U.S. visitors to MySpace in August 2006 were aged 35 or older
39.5 % were aged 35 or older in 2005

MySpace now has more video than
1.5 billion streams in the US in July 2006 for MySpace
649 million streams for

25 % of total visitors to MySpace were aged 12 to 17 in 2005
12 % of the visitors were in the same age range in August 2006

19.6 % of the total visitors were 18 to 24 in 2005
18 % of the visitors were in the same age range in 2006

The more than 55.8 million unique visitors to MySpace this year is more than twice the number who visited the previous year.

Preparing for SAT, ACT, and GRE

The September 27, 2006 issue of techLEARNING includes an article--Online Test Prep--in its Assessment and Evaluation area. You can also read it online at .

This article recommends (, a free site, which has received a good review from Consumer Reports Webwatch. Students can use the site to help prepare for the SAT, ACT, and the GRE. Tutorials, practice sessions, and vocabulary-building exercises are available. There are also reports which can be used to monitor student progress.

Using Video-On-Demand (VOD)

In No Fuss Video in the September 15, 2006 issue of techLEARNING (, Al Doyle discusses video-on-demand (VOD), specifically unitedstreaming. He offers tips for effectively using VOD in the classroom, including the following:

* Always download and preview the video before using it. This way you’ll know if there are any broadband issues.
* Permit student questions while you show the video. Periodically pause the video to ask questions and check that the students understand.
* Use handouts--pre-, post-, and during-the-viewing activities. Discovery Education's unitedstreaming has blackline masters that work well.
* Project the video on the blackboard or a SmartBoard rather than show the video on a computer screen.
* Assign students a videoediting project using iMovie or MovieMaker. They can combine unitedstreaming’s clips with clips they create with a camcorder. unitedstreaming permits this use with some of its clips.
* Use a video playlist to create specialized archives of content.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A Few Good Web Sites

This is a collection of a few good web sites. One--recommended by a colleague--provides reinforcement/review material. A set of sites from Alan November help you to check out other web sites. And the third site is for the astronomer or astronaut in each of us.

edHELPER.COM _____________________________________________________ was created by teachers to provide for teachers a single site for many educational resources. Portions of this site may be used for free. Other features require a subscription. You may subscribe to the site as a K-8 teacher, as a grades 9-12 teacher, or as a K-12 teacher. Individuals or schools may subscribe.

A free newsletter is available. It highlights the theme units designed for the current month and it points out the new items which have been added to the site.

edHelper’s Table of Contents lists these areas...

Reading and Writing: Reading Comprehension, Literature Units, Writing
PreK-3: Kindergarten, Phonics, PreK-3 Themes
Language: Language Arts, Spelling, Vocabulary, Enter Word Lists
Special Education: Special Education
Foreign Languages: Foreign Languages, Spanish, French, German, Italian
Mathematics: Mathematics, Middle School Mathematics, Algebra
Social Studies: Social Studies, Geography, United States
Science: Science, Health, Animals
More: High School, Test Prep, Art, Classroom Helpers, Make Puzzles, Monthly Themes, and Daily Skills Review

If you teach K-12, you should check out this site at least once. You will probably find some review or reinforcement activities that you would like to use with your students!

TIPS FROM ALAN NOVEMBER TO LEARN MORE ABOUT SPECIFIC WEB SITES find out who owns the web site select the "way back machine" to see past versions of web sites

Use a search engine to find which web sites link to the web site you're investigating. Type link:URL (e.g., link: in the search box.

Use a search engine to find the web sites to which the web site you're investigating link. Type host:URL (e.g., in the search box.

ASTRONOMY PHOTO OF THE DAY _______________________________________

Here is a link to an interesting web site from NASA featuring a new picture of the universe every day. A scientist provides an explanation of what you are looking at in each picture...

Word Case Changes, Borders, and Charts

Microsoft Office’s word processing application, Word, has some interesting and helpful capabilities. Included in this blog entry are three techniques, some beginner level and some intermediate level. All three techniques are described for both Macintosh and Windows computers. The Macintosh techniques are explained first and the Windows techniques follow.

MACINTOSH _______________________________

Technique #1... Change case

If I were writing this tech tip in Word, I might decide that I preferred that the subhead-- MACINTOSH--be done in mixed case letters--Macintosh--rather than in upper case as it is. Rather than retyping the word I could simply highlight it and then select Format > Change Case > Title Case.

Format > Change Case…
Choices are…
* Sentence case
* Lowercase
* Title Case

Five choices are available, four of which are oftentimes quite useful.

Technique #2... Place a border around text

Sometimes I want to make a section of text stand out from the remaining text. Placing a border around the section of text can do that.

Highlight the text and…
Select Outside Border on the Formatting Toolbar
Format > Borders and Shading > Borders tab > Box

Technique #3... Create charts from Word tables

Select your table
Insert > Picture > Chart > Microsoft Graph Chart
Insert > Object > Microsoft Graph Chart
The above action will open your graph program
Graph > Quit and Return to Document
Changes in the data in the table will NOT automatically show up in the chart… You must go back to the graph program and make the change there… and that will show in the chart.

WINDOWS ________________________________

Technique #1... Change case

If I were writing this tech tip in Word, I might decide that I preferred that the subhead-- WINDOWS--be done in mixed case letters--Windows--rather than in upper case as it is. Rather than retyping the word I could simply highlight it and then select Format > Change Case > Title Case.

Format > Change Case…
Choices are…
* Sentence case
* Lowercase
* Title Case

Five choices are available, four of which are oftentimes quite useful.

Technique #2... Place a border around text

Sometimes I want to make a section of text stand out from the remaining text. Placing a border around the section of text can do that.

Highlight the text and…
Formatting Toolbar > Border Button pulldown menu and choose the border type you want

Technique #3... Create charts from Word tables

Select your table
Insert > Picture > Chart
A datasheet and chart will appear
Changes in the data in the table will NOT automatically show up in the chart… You must go back to the datasheet and make the change there… and that will show in the chart.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Academic Links for Students

Some outstanding academic web sites for students are listed by David Colker in "Pay Attention, Students: Link, Look and Learn" in the August 2006 (,1,3751833.column?ctrack=1&cset=true). Check the whole list... It covers many areas!

The Internet Public Library site was begun by the University of Michigan. It provides links in many academic fields. Other schools have since joined Michigan in this well-done project.
This Barnes and Noble site features study guides for novels and nonfiction in addition to free reference guides for biology, mathematics, physics, and other topics.
Check this site to find out how simple (pencils) and complex (atomic clocks) items work.
Find answers to questions such as "When was Benjamin Franklin born?"
You've got to list a good search engine!

The "Atlas of Human Anatomy" has excellent images of various parts of the human body.
This 1918 version of Gray's "Anatomy of the Human Body" is still helpful.
Identify body parts and learn about their functions in this interactive site.

Links to museums and other resources from Arizona State University.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art's timeline of art history from 20,000 BC to 2001.
Links to art periods, artists, and museums.
View images of works by prominent artists. It's a bit challenging to navigate this site, but it's worth the effort.

Links from University of Arizona.
Links from Minnesota State University.

Official US population numbers, by ZIP code, from the federal Census Bureau.

Periodic tables of elements... originally begun as part of a student's science project.
Links--more than 7,000--from the University of Sheffield in England.
Quizzes, glossaries and tutorials from Frostburg State University in Maryland.

Metric conversions of distance, area, weight, speed, temperature and more. Also converts fractions to decimals. world currencies.

Translates words and phrases in 13 languages.
Conjugates verbs in many languages.
Information on nearly 7,000 languages.

Collection of 18,000 public-domain books, including all works by Shakespeare, "Moby Dick," and many religious texts. Selections can be downloaded to be read either on the computer or on paper.
World literature links from UC Santa Barbara.
Cliffs Notes study guides to many books can be read on the website for free. There is a fee to download a PDF version.

Algebra practice problems.
An online version of flash cards.

Links from Indiana University.
Links organized by era.
Links, CD reviews, and recommendations.

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy contains short essays on nearly 1,000 names and concepts.
Links organized according to philosophers, eras and topics.
Dictionary of names and terms.

Interactive exhibits from the American Institute of Physics on discoveries in the field.
An interactive site from the University of Colorado at Boulder demonstrates physics principles.

The Library of Congress site includes the daily Congressional Record and updates on pending legislation.
Links to government web sites worldwide.

A glossary of basic terms.
Links to publications and resources.

Enter a word to learn its definition.
Brief entries from the Columbia Encyclopedia.
Almanac of statistics and information on politics, business, sports, weather, and entertainment.

The CIA's public directory of countries which includes information such as population, government type, terrain, agriculture, health systems, languages, and broadcast stations.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Swamii... A Personal Search Engine

Swamii (Beta): The What’s New Engine

Is there a news story you want to follow? An interest you want to keep up-to-date on? Swamii ( can be your personal clipping service to tell you what’s out there… on the web, in newspapers, in peer-to-peer networks, blogs, the TV guide, and picture/video sites.

Registering is easy. All that’s needed is your name and password. Then list your interests. Swamii will search--for free--to let you know when “new, relevant and cool stuff” arrives.

What might you want Swamii to search for?
• Keep track of a current event as it unfolds…
• Get an alert when The Bishop’s Wife (my favorite old Christmas movie!) is going to be on TV…
• Be notified when a new Manhatten Transfer video clip appears on YouTube…
• Search for news on your favorite interests... Italian cooking, the Olympics, the Cleveland Indians, GroundWorks, …
• Get all the news for a particular subject in one place.

When you indicate your interests, you can use AND, OR, and NOT to add logic to your search. Quotes can be used to specify an exact phrase. You can even use parentheses. So an interest might be “online learning” NOT videoconference. Or it might be blog AND (mathematics OR science).

Swamii shows you new results each time you check in. You can save the results by bookmarking them so you can view them any time. Just select the bookmark icon next to the search result to save it to your bookmarks page. is for academic use only. (Swamii Business is available for commercial use.) It is designed to give you the most up-to-date results. Swamii Post is a free service that sends your Swamii results directly to your email inbox. You may also choose to save your email address with Swamii in case you forget your password.

Swamii is in beta version; but, it appears to work very well. Using Swamii is like having a personal assistant who provides a free clipping service for you. Try it... I think you'll be pleasantly surprised when you see the results.

Friday, December 8, 2006

SMART Boards are Becoming Popular Classroom Tools

What technology that was developed in 1991 has become the popular “emerging technology” for today’s classrooms?

The first blackboard was used in a Philadelphia school in 1809. The blackboards were made from lumber. Their covering was a mixture of egg white and carbon from charred potatoes. Chunks of chalk were used to write on the surface and the erasers were cloth rags. “Blackboards” later became “green” boards, although they still required chalk.

Black/green boards eventually became “white” boards and we used markers to write on them.

What eventually replaced black/green/white boards?

The answer to both questions is the interactive white board. Although there are several versions of this tool, the best-known one is probably the SMART Board.

Whether you want to learn more about how to use SMART Boards before you have one in your classroom or you’re searching for resources to use with the SMART Board already in your classroom, you will find lots of information on the Internet. Here are a few sites to get you started.

If you know of some other great sites, please share them!


I looked for results of research concerning the use of SMART Boards in the classroom. I expected to be able to create a list of advantages and a list of disadvantages discovered when using SMART Boards. Well, the two lists are a bit lopsided!

Web sites examined to learn about the research…

• collaborative
• easy to use
• effective for whole class instruction
• enthusiastic and positive classes
• improved overall student learning
• improved student attitudes
• improved student behavior during class
• increased student engagement
• increased students’ levels of participation
• instruction is more organized
• interactive
• lessons were clear and dynamic
• points could be highlighted using the pens
• proved successful in many subjects
• quick to learn to use
• reliable
• students received more attention from the instructor
• students were motivated
• visualizing complex phenomena may help some students

• initial problems, such as classroom movement and setting up of the SMART Board
• initial cost and eventual replacement cost of computers, data projectors and their replacement bulbs, and the SMART Boards themselves

Atomic Learning has a series of tutorials for the SMART Board Notebook for Windows computers. Two of the videos in the series may be viewed by anyone; the remainder of the series is available to subscribers.
SMART training center, training materials for Macintosh users
SMART training center, training materials for Microsoft Windows users
introduction to SMART Board
SMART Board lessons podcast

great information and communications technology ideas
SMART – educator resources
SMART – accredited software
SMART Board resources
SMART Board ideas
free interactive whiteboard resources
great K-3 SMART Board sites
search strategies for finding web sites useful for SMART Boards

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Helpful Web Sites for Teaching

I've found some very interesting web sites this week, including several which have lesson plans and other activities for the classroom. Although I suspect that you will be most interested in those that match the grade level or subject which you teach, I think you may find some of the others fun to investigate, too. Enjoy!

CHRISTMAS: Cultural and Historical Resources for Christmas for Teachers
The history of the Christmas celebration, how it is celebrated in different countries and cultures, and some crafts and activities are the topics of these lessons. One of the sites shows webcam views of Christmas celebrations in other countries.

ECONOMICS: Stock Market
Information about the stock market--stocks, shares, markets, investing, and the history of the New York Stock Exchange--is all available here. Interactive games, timelines, interviews, and quizzes can be used with students. Resources dealing with personal finance and budgeting are also included.

General tips and subject-specific sites that parents can use when supporting their children with homework are available at this site.

Share family reading and activities around a monthly theme.

MATHEMATICS: And Around We Go!
Students use numbers and operations, fractions, statistics, and graphs as they conduct a survey to determine their classmates' favorite sports, soft drinks, music, and colors. Guiding questions, summary questions, assessment tasks, lesson extensions, a survey sheet, and activity sheets are included in this best practice lesson for grades 5 and 6.

Safety rules, lesson plans, games, and activities deal with safety for children and young adults in a variety of situations. Many of the sites focus on safety when using the Internet.

SCIENCE: Energy… Renewable and Non-Renewable
Learn about different forms of energy--both renewable and non-renewable--hydropower, fossil fuels, nuclear, wave energy, fuel cells, solar, geothermal, wind, and biomass.

SCIENCE: Life Science for Teachers
Eight sessions with video, print, and web components focus on life science for teachers.

SCIENCE: NASA’s Image Gallery
NASA images, audio files, and video at this site are not copyrighted, for the most part. You may not use the NASA logo, however.

SCIENCE: Reactions in Chemistry
This eight-unit workshop features students, teachers, scientists, and experts who share their ideas about chemistry teaching and learning. Downloadable lessons and activities you can use with your students are available.

SCIENCE: Rediscovering Biology… Molecular to Global Perspectives
Thirteen units--video, text, learning activities--focus on new developments in biology.

SCIENCE: Weather
Explore the forces behind weather: the atmosphere and the water cycle. Look at the results: powerful storms, ice, and snow. Understand forecasting and the changing climate. Check out other weather-related web sites.

SCIENCE: Weather
This best practice instructional resource for grades 3 to 5 includes lessons that allow students to investigate weather locally and around the world. Through these explorations students develop a basic understanding of how weather can be described in measurable quantities, such as temperature, wind, and precipitation.

Watch an earthworm being born, take an interactive quiz on a worm’s anatomy, view worm art, learn how worms keep soil healthy, take a tour through a virtual worm, and learn about composting with worms and how to keep worms in the classroom.

SOCIAL STUDIES: Making a Difference Through Giving
Students in grades 3 to 5 are prompted to consider their responsibilities as global citizens. In this lesson a teacher challenges her fourth- and fifth-grade students to develop realistic solutions to some problems of the world.

Bridging WORLD HISTORY: Professional development and classroom materials to support the study of world history… Bridging World History Units include content, readings, and activities for 26 units organized chronologically. Videos, an audio glossary, and interactive elements are available for these units. The World History Traveler consists of three interesting sections: (1) What is World History? provides materials which facilitate looking at world history from multiple perspectives, (2) Archive is a database of more than 1,500 images and maps which can be used in the classroom, and (3) Audio Glossary allows you to hear how more than 300 names of places and people are pronounced.

WRITING: Conclusions
Six different conclusion styles and when to use which, types of conclusions to avoid, what a good conclusion should do, and ten common types of conclusion are explained. Resources are available for writing essays, research papers, and paragraphs.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

More Than Just Tutorials for Learning Software Available in Atomic Learning

I’ve taught my students--preservice, graduate, and inservice teachers--to search for free software tutorials on the web when they need to learn how to use a software application and don’t have local training--or the time to take advantage of it--available. However, I also make sure to always show them the Atomic Learning site ( Atomic Learning provides both software tutorials and resources for integrating technology in the curriculum at a reasonable price. The site does permit free access to some of its elements for non-subscribers, also.

I am comfortable learning to use software on my own. However, time is an important factor. Usually I need/want to become competent using a software application more quickly than I would build that skill on my own. So, I’ve used the site personally to learn how to use both Mac and Windows applications quickly. I’ve also used it to help me design workshops and classes that I’ve taught. I maintain an individual subscription to the site because it serves my needs and is so very easy to use.

If you currently use Atomic Learning or are considering using it, be sure to check out all it offers.


Atomic Learning provides (1)
tutorials for popular software and (2) resources for integrating technology in the curriculum. Best of all, Atomic Learning is web-based software and, thus, is available 24/7 anywhere that you have access to the web. Although designed for education--for teachers and for students--Atomic Learning includes tutorials for software applications that would also interest those outside the education arena. Tutorials--more than 20,000--for more than 100 applications are currently available. Approximately 2,000 of these tutorials are in Spanish.

The fact that the tutorials are short--most are approximately 1 to 3 minutes--means that the tutorials work well with dial-up access as well as with broadband. Plus, you can spend just a few minutes learning a bit more about an application or you can spend an hour or more to expand your knowledge and skills. Atomic Learning tutorials can be viewed in QuickTime or Flash.

Tutorials are available for learning to use Atomic Learning. Truthfully, their tutorials are so easy to use that you’re unlikely to need help. However, it’s a great way to roll out Atomic Learning to a district or a college/university and to be sure that the users learn about the resources available on the site in addition to the tutorials.


Using the software tutorials is very easy. At the Home page, click on the Our Tutorials tab > click on Mac or PC or All to determine which platform you want > click on the application you want. That will display all the tutorials for that particular software application. You can choose to view just one or two videos to learn a particular skill or answer a question you have or you can work your way through all the videos for the application to learn it from the beginning to the end. It’s that easy.


If you’re planning to use Atomic Learning as part of a professional development program, you might be interested in some of the tools provided for you:
• tutorials for learning to use the Atomic Learning site,
• tools for tracking usage,
• training options,
• techniques for linking to the tutorials in email or web page communications,
• letters and a PowerPoint presentation for communicating with various audiences, and
• an Atomic Learning Framework for technology professional development.


In addition to tutorials for learning software, Atomic Learning also provides curriculum materials such as Lesson Accelerators, Teacher2Teacher activities, Workshops, a video storytelling guide, and assessment tools. And, of course, they provide instructions for using these resources.

Lesson Accelerators are lesson plans that integrate technology into the curriculum. Atomic Learning provides a guide, needed resources, and tutorial movies to guide the students through the projects. Topics include art, mathematics, social studies, literature, health, science… plus many others.

Teacher2Teacher activities are designed by teachers to be used by teachers. They, too, integrate technology into the curriculum. More than 100 Teacher2Teacher activities are available.

Mail merge, newsletter, blogging, podcasting, charting, and other
Workshops provide professional development that can be experienced individually or in actual workshops with other educators.

StoryBoard Pro is a free tool available from Atomic Learning. It helps movie makers plan their projects. There is also a Video Storytelling guide with movies that provides a complete course in video storytelling.


From the Home page, click on the Resources tab. That will open the list of Lesson Accelerators. You can immediately select one of the Lesson Accelerators or you can choose to view Atomic Learning’s tutorial on Lesson Accelerators. From this page you can choose to go to Teacher2Teacher, Workshops, StoryBoard Pro, Video Storytelling Guide, Assessment Framework, or Self Assessment.


Individual subscriptions for a year are available. Group subscriptions--school, district, college/university--are based on a per-user cost. Subscribing to Atomic Learning gives you access to video tutorials for software, new tutorials every 45 days, closed captioning on many of the tutorials, lesson plans and projects for the classroom, anywhere/anytime access, usage tracking, newsletters and weekly tech tips, and help using Atomic Learning for training.


Atomic Learning is an outstanding product. If you’re not already a subscriber, check out some of their free materials. Be sure to investigate both the
software tutorials and the resources for integrating technology into the curriculum. I’m sure you’ll find this site to be very helpful.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Do You Use All the Features in Your Word Processing Program?

Word (as well as most other word processing programs) has many features. Most of us use only a small subset of what’s available. Three of my favorite techniques in Word are using leader tabs, determining readability statistics, and placing a box around text.


In most versions of Word, the Tabs dialog box is accessed through the Format menu.

• Click on the Format pulldown menu > Tabs.
• Type the ruler setting for your left tab (e.g., .5) > click Set.
• Then type the ruler setting for your right tab (e.g., 6.5), click to indicate that it is a Right tab, click on the Dots leader, and click Set.
• Now you’re ready to type your information.
• Let’s say that we’re typing the table of contents for a grant application.
• Press Tab, type Introduction, press the space bar once, press Tab, press the space bar once, type 1. Return.
• We’re on the second line now.
• Press Tab, type Institutional Demographics, press the space bar once, press Tab, press the space bar once, type 3. Return.
• Let’s pretend that’s the end of the Table of Contents.
• Click Format > Tabs > click Clear All to clear out the Tab settings you entered.
• The result should look like this.

Introduction ................................................ 1
Investigator ................................................. 3

I place a space before and after the Tab because I think that’s a cleaner look than just using the Tab. Try it both ways to see which look you prefer.

Using leader tabs is a useful technique for a table of contents, the program at an evening event, or an invitation. For what other uses do you think it would be useful?


You can customize the Spelling and Grammar check in Word. Each version seems to have its own method for accessing Customize Spelling and Grammar…

• In Word 2002 (XP)—for Windows--click on the Spelling and Grammar icon (ABC with a checkmark) > Customize.
• In Word 2003—for Windows--click on the Tools pulldown menu > Options > Spelling & Grammar.
• In Word 2004—for Macs--click on the Word pulldown menu > Preferences > Spelling and Grammar.

Look through the various options you can change. Experiment with some changes, if you would like. One change that I recommend you make is to select the Readability Statistics. With that option selected, you will see a set of measures each time you perform a Spelling and Grammar check. These measures will give you an insight into your writing.

I checked the Readability Statistics on an article I just finished.

• The statistics included the number of words, characters, paragraphs, and sentences.
• The average sentences per paragraph, words per sentence, and characters per word were also listed.
• What interested me most were…
  • the readability statistics on passive sentences (10%... a style which I am working to improve),
  • the Flesch Reading Ease (41.1… the average is between 6 and 70… the maximum is 100), and
  • the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level (11.6).
These statistics help me to analyze my writing style so that I can choose appropriate changes to help improve my writing.


Boxing in text is another technique that I find very useful in Word. The procedure is much the same in most versions of Word.

• First, highlight the text around which you want a box placed.
• Then click on the Format pulldown menu > borders and shading.
• Choose the box which places a border around all sides and click OK.

You’re done. It’s easy and yet it helps to spotlight text within an article or a lesson. It also works well in a header. It looks like this…

Friday, November 10, 2006

Is MOODLE a Useful Tool for Teachers?

MOODLE software has been available for some time. I decided I'd like to know more about what we can do with MOODLE and how others are using the software. So, I decided to do some research on the web…

Martin Dougiasmas originally developed MOODLE--Multi (or Modular) Object Oriented Dynamic Learning Environments--in 1999. It is currently used in more than 160 countries in over 75 languages.

MOODLE is a type of software called course management system. Teachers can use this software to create online courses or to supplement traditional classroom activities and provide opportunities for student interaction. (Blackboard, WebCT, and Learnwise are some of the commercial products that are considered to be course management system software.)

A MOODLE web site can facilitate
ο the posting of materials and instructions by teachers and
ο the accessing of teachers' postings and the uploading of completed assignments by students.

It is not difficult to find MOODLE web sites designed and used by teachers and their students. What is challenging is finding ones where we can see the contents. Teachers are using MOODLE software for their classes. However, their sites are most often gated communities for their students only.

As I've been researching on the web, I read about one teacher who decided to try vocabulary quizzes using MOODLE and about another who set up a forum discussion for his students and a guest lecturer who would soon visit the school. And I did find a site where you can view some content:

MOODLE has many capabilities. Go to to see examples of the many features and content types available with MOODLE…
ο assignments… grade homework which has been submitted electronically,
ο chat… discuss (real-time) topics with participants,
ο choices… take a poll,
ο forums… discuss (asynchronous) topics,
ο glossaries… maintain a list of definitions,
ο lessons… share information on “pages,”
ο resources… upload files to share (e.g., images, mp3 files, Office files, PDFs, web pages, web links),
ο quizzes… create quizzes which are automatically graded,
ο survey… gather data about the students, and
ο wiki… create a wiki web page.

I use course management system software for the classes I teach. I am able to provide lecture notes, PowerPoint presentations, Word or Excel documents, links to web sites, and graphics images to supplement classroom activities. My students and I can email, journal, and chat with each other. Both synchronous and asynchronous discussions are possible. If I provide an online quiz or test, the software will grade the objective answers. And, if the quiz or test consists only of objective questions, the software will mark incorrect answers and record the score in the gradebook. After my students post an assignment in an electronic dropbox, I grade the assignment, write any comments I want to share with the student, mark the grade, and then electronically return all that to the student. When the student receives his assignment back, he can view his portion of the gradebook and see his grade which was electronically recorded by the software.

Using the course management system software speeds up some procedures. It facilitates interactive communication between the instructor and the students and even amongst the students! The students are very comfortable with the process. You can use some of the capabilities of the course management system software the first year you use it… and then add other features in subsequent years. I have found the use of course management system software to be very helpful... and I'm looking forward to using additional features.

Atomic Learning ( has introductory and intermediate tutorials that you can use to learn how to use MOODLE. The tutorials are available for both Macs and Windows-based computers and you can view the Mac tutorials close-captioned, if you wish.

I'm convinced that using MOODLE can definitely enhance what we're already doing in our classrooms!

Monday, November 6, 2006

Two Quality Resources for Teaching

The Ohio Resource Center and eThemes are two sources for high-quality web sites to use when teaching. I think you'll find some helpful and interesting sites in this list. Don't just skim past the titles of these web sites... Check out the nuggets buried in each one. You'll be pleasantly surprised. :)

The OHIO RESOURCE CENTER ( posts quality lesson plans for mathematics, science, and reading. Each plan include the title, URL, resource type, practice level, standards alignment (grade levels), topics, keywords, professional commentary (class activities), Ohio standards, and national standards.

Mathematics: And Around We Go!
Grades 5 - 6
Instructional Resources - Best Practices

Science: What Parts Are There to a Plant?
Grades Pre-Kindergarten - 2
Instructional Resources - Best Practices

Reading: Wired for Books
Grades 9 - 12
Content Resources

eThemes ( is a database of resources organized around themes. The information provided is designed for teachers to use in their classrooms. Each site includes links to other related web sites. More than 1,000 eThemes are available at this time.

ANIMALS __________________________________________________________________

Animals: Cats
Handouts, videos, and web sites provide information about cats as pets.

Animals: Puffins
Photographs, maps, and even a live web came (in summer) provide information about puffins and their habitat. During non-summer months, still photos from the web cam are available to view.

Animals: Missouri Butterflies
This site includes a video which shows a caterpillar changing into a butterfly.

COUNTRIES ________________________________________________________________

Africa: Social Issues
Included in this site is information about the Darfur conflict.

Country: Canada

Videos and photographs help provide information about Canada.

FAMOUS PEOPLE ___________________________________________________________

Famous People: Helen Keller
Helen Keller—deaf and blind herself—fought to help others with vision and hearing problems. Letters, photographs, and other items help provide information on how she communicated. Classroom activities are suggested.

Famous People: King Arthur
Learn about King Arthur and the legends which surround him.

LANGUAGE ARTS ___________________________________________________________

Grammar: Subjects and Predicates
Online quizzes, games, and a PowerPoint presentation help teach this topic.

Writing: Prompts

Handouts, PowerPoint presentations, and a variety of writing prompts are provided to help students develop stories.

LITERATURE _______________________________________________________________

Literature: "The Best School Year Ever" by Barbara Robinson
The topics of kindness, cooperation, and bullying are included in addition to the book "The Best School Year Ever" by Barbara Robinson. Reading and vocabulary activities are also available.

SAFETY ___________________________________________________________________

Safety: Winter
Safety tips for winter activities such as skiing, snowboarding, and bicycling are included. Lesson plans are also available.

Safety: Outdoor Fun

Safety tips for bicycling, skateboarding, scooters, inline skating, boats, pools, lakes, and water parks are provided.

Safety Signs
Traffic and safety signs are taught via interactive games, lesson plans, activities, coloring pages, and photographs.

Safety: Electrical

Students are taught to be safe around electricity both inside and outside the house.

SEASONS __________________________________________________________________

Seasons: Winter
Activities, interactive games, and information about winter are available at this site.

SCIENCE __________________________________________________________________

Solar System: Saturn

Learn about Saturn and its rings. Build a model of Saturn. View photographs and videos.

Solar System: Rotation and Revolution
Learn about rotation, revolution, and the orbit of planets and moons.

THANKSGIVING _____________________________________________________________

Mayflower Voyage

Photographs, a map, and diagrams provide information about the Pilgrims’ trip on the Mayflower to Plymouth.