Sunday, January 28, 2007

Kappa Delta Pi and ASCD Recommend Helpful Web Sites


Kappa Delta Pi, an international honor society in education, includes professional growth via programs, services, and products as part of its 2006-2007 goals. As part of that goal, the organization has recommended some web sites for teachers. I am sharing four of their recommendations.


TeacherVision provides more than 12,000 pages of lesson plans, printables, newsletters, and other resources for PreK to grade 12 that can help teachers save time. There is a yearly subscription cost for most items, but a short free trial is available. Subjects include reading, language arts, literature, mathematics, science, social studies, history, art, music, drama, health, and safety. TeacherVision is a teacher site for resources that save time and make learning fun. (As I describe what's available at this site, please remember that in most cases I have listed just a few of the items in each category.)

Ideas are available by grade level, subject area, or theme. There are ready-to-use items (graphic organizers, class management forms, …), assessment resources (rubrics library, quiz library, assessment strategies, …), resources for diverse student needs (assessment accommodations, ADD/ADHD, …), and ready-to-print books (Baseball Math (Gr. 4-8), Daily Writing Prompts (Gr. 1-4), …).

Classroom management resources cover a wide variety of professional development topics… multiple intelligences, Bloom's Taxonomy, elementary teacher survival guide, differentiated curriculum, and professional portfolios.

Ideas for increasing high-stakes achievement test results and other assessment strategies can be found… assessment forms, portfolios, rubrics, report cards, and journal assessment.

Resources for behavior management, classroom organization, and teacher/parent collaboration are also available.

The amount of content on this site is impressive. As an example, check out the new content added in January 2007. The topic is Twentieth Century History for grades 5 to 8. Here’s a partial list of what’s included…

Twentieth Century Fact Sheets: Overviews of the decades of the 1900s, Facts and Figures, Famous Firsts, Important Births and Deaths, Election Facts and Figures, World History, Writing Prompts and Literature Ideas... each available for almost every decade in the 1900s.

Twentieth Century Topics: About the Great Depression, An Extraordinary Bus Tide: Rosa Parks, Berlin's Wall, The Civil Rights Movement, End of Apartheid, Events in Vietnam, First Lady of the World: Eleanor Roosevelt, Gandhi, The Great Contralto: Marian Anderson, …

Twentieth Century People and Events: Japanese Internment, Just So: Rudyard Kipling, Labor Reform: 1910s, Lyndon Baines Johnson, The Nobel Prize, Richard Milhouse Nixon, The Tomb of Tutankhamen, William McKinley, A Woman's Place: Margaret Chase Smith, …

This site truly has a wide variety of resources... and many of them!

CEP: Character Education Partnership: Leading a National Call to Character

The Character Education Partnership’s aim is to help young people of good character become citizens who are responsible and caring. CEP serves as the leading resource for integrating character education into schools and communities. It emphasizes effective practices and provides a forum for exchanging ideas. Character education helps children understand, care about, and act upon core values in school and beyond.

CEP has developed eleven principles that help a program in character education work well. Some of these standards are “provides students with opportunities for moral action,” “engages families and community members as partners in the character-building effort,” and “evaluates the character of the school, the school staff's functioning as character educators, and the extent to which students manifest good character.”

Resources provided by CEP include implementation strategies, web sites, published materials, seminars, a blog, recommended books, and a database of articles and other documents concerned with Character Education initiatives.

This is a good site to gather ideas about character education... and to discuss those ideas with others.

CHADD: Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

CHADD’s goal is to “improve… the lives of people affected by AD/HD." CHADD is a national organization for education, advocacy, and support of individuals with AD/HD. CHADD maintains an informative web site. They also publish a magazine, a resource guide, a newsletter, and other publications. Volunteers work with parents, educators, and professionals through the 235 local CHADD chapters. Currently, CHADD is operating a multi-year campaign to educate policymakers, the media, and the public about AD/HD. This is a good place to gather ideas and find support for those involved with AD/HD.


This web site certainly invited me to participate immediately. I couldn't resist playing a game of Sudoku before I checked out the rest of the site!

The FunBrain web site has an area for children. This section of the web site has a mathematics arcade (25 arcade-style mathematics games), a reading area (web books and mad libs), a general arcade (games for free times), a playground (activities for moms and kids), and an area just for games (Funbrain’s Kids’ Center).

Another area of the site is just for parents. Available in this area is the Game Finder. Parents can find “the perfect game for your child to play.” They can search for this game by age, subject, or game name and they can identify the skills used in each game. Games are available for mathematics, language arts, science, history, music, geography, and art. Some of the other parenting resources include information on child development, help with homework and school, and gifted and LD tips.

The teacher resources at the web site include a game finder for the classroom, tools to help you choose games appropriate for the curriculum and standards, and flash cards. This site is helpful... and fun... at the same time.


The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) is an organization of educators interested in using research-based strategies to improve learning in their schools. They recently recommended a web site designed for professional learning communities. These communities can be a major factor in the effort to help our students learn more.

ALLTHINGSPLC: All Information, No Commerce

Professional learning communities (PLCs) have helped to create education reform in schools and districts in the United States and Canada. This web site is a place for educators who want to use PLCs to enhance student achievement to collaborate with each other.

Educators involved in PLCs usually agree on three ideas...
* We must ensure that all students learn. So, we need to develop a strategy to provide timely intervention for struggling students.
* No longer can educators go into their classrooms and shut their doors. Rather than collaborate only for operational policies (tardiness, recess supervision), we need to share best practices, work together to solve problems, and determine together how to improve individual students’ achievement and the performance of the whole school.
* Educators need to identify current student achievement levels, establish goals, work together to accomplish those goals, and provide the data to illustrate that the students have succeeded and the goals have been met.

This web site provides research, articles, data, and tools about Professional Learning Communities. You will find timely and useful information about PLC concepts and practices. A blog provides insights from leading practitioners. Research and articles about PLC concepts and information about schools that have used PLC ideas are available.

This site could prove very helpful as educators work to improve individual students' achievement and the performance of the whole school or district.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Podcast Directories

The last time that I did a study on the use of podcasts in education was about a year ago. That's a long time in technology! It's time to examine again how teachers and students are using podcasts. I have decided to do this study in chunks. First, I want to look at some podcast directories. Although some directories include resources and advice on producing podcasts, my interest is to listen to and/or watch actual podcasts which are being used.

I have listed some directories in this blog entry. A few comments and some listings of podcasts are shared for each directory. Two additional comments need to be made about each directory. First, a comment on one or two podcasts in each directory cannot come close to illustrating the richness of these directories. Each one deserves some time exploring its podcasts. Second, if you choose to use any of these podcasts with students, be sure to listen to and/or watch it first to be sure it's appropriate fo
r your students. Remember that many of these directories contain non-educational podcasts and are not censored.

EPN: The Education Podcast Network

The Education Podcast Network is designed to provide podcast resources for teachers to help them use 21st-century tools when they teach. Educators have produced most of the podcasts in the network. Readers / listeners are encouraged to share their podcasts with others through the network.

The directory lists these contents:
Education: 21st-century tools
* Professional Philosophy & ICT (133)
* Strictly ICT (20)
Student and Class Podcasts
* Elementary Grades (50)
* Middle School (35)
* Secondary School (36)
Subject Specific Podcasts
* Computer/Technology Skills (70)
* Dance Education (6)
* English Language Arts (97)
* Healthful Living (46)
* Information Skills (19)
* Mathematics (7)
* Music Education (36)
* Science (60)
* Second Languages (61)
* Social Studies (78)
* Theatre Arts Education (16)
* Visual Arts Education (24)
* Career Development (33)
* Current Events (55)
* Miscellaneous (107)

EPN provides directions for finding a podcast in the directory and for subscribing to a podcast. The directions for subscribing to a podcast are very specific… great for a beginner!

One of the podcasts I checked is from a teacher in Bangladesh… complete with photos. Very interesting. Another well-done podcast is from a high school mathematics teacher. Another section of the directory lists many podcasts, including quite a few produced by persons whom I recognize as excellent bloggers.
This directory is worth spending some time to find useful podcasts.

Podcasting News

The directory for Education at this site lists these categories:
Higher Education (121)
Audio Classes (31)
Do It Yourself (How-to's, DIY, tutorials) (28)
Homeschooling (homeschooling, unschooling, free learning, lifelong learning, for learners of all ages) (13)
K-12 Education (Pinckney Community Schools) (114/11)
Language (Chinese, English, Esperanto, Japanese, Spanish, Tibetan) (38/96)
Music Education (26)

The site is designed to facilitate the sharing of news and information about podcasting. Features such as registration, forums, polls, announcements, and sticky topics help make the posting of news easier. Administrators, moderators, and usergroups keep communications working.

Registration (free) gives you access to features such as private messaging, emailing to fellow users, and usergroup subscription. The site recommends that you register. Forums are available (usually for registered users). Polls are easy to create. Announcements and “sticky topics” often contain important information and should be read as soon as possible. Administrators control board operation, including setting permissions, banning users, and creating usergroups or moderators (and their capabilities). Moderators look after the daily running of the forums. Users can belong to more than one group.

Available podcasts that I looked at / listened to included one on ADHD and another on music. There is a large variety of high quality podcasts on this site.

Resource pages that are available include:
* iPod
* Mactel Podcasting Applications
* Mobilecasting - Mobile Podcasting
* MP3 Players
* Podcast Directory List
* Podcast Hosts
* Podcast Software (Clients)
* Podcasting FAQ
* Podcasting Glossary
* Podcasting Resources and Services
* Podcasting Software (Publishing)
* Podcast-Legal Music
* Podcasts
* Press Info
* Promote Your Podcast!
* Syndicating Podcasting News
* Video iPod Software

Links are provided for:
* DopplerRadio
* Feed Validator
* IndieFeed
* iPodderX
* iPodLounge
* jPodder
* Nimiq
* OpenPodcast
* Podcast Feed Debugger
* Prime Time Podcast
* RSSRadio
* Video Podcasting News

Podcast Alley

The goal of this site is to be the “biggest and best directory of podcasts (podcast directory) available on the Internet.” News and tutorials are included on the site. The site currently has 28,208 podcasts with 144,030 comments on 1,226,752 episodes. In the Education category, there are 1,224 podcasts.

Checking out the podcasts at this site, I found a podcast for digital photographers, a one-minute how-to podcast, an audioblog about media literacy and technology and how they will change education, the complete works of Shakespeare (one act per podcast), and an opportunity to have stories read to the listener.

* Podcast Alley News (23)
* Podcast Promos (39)
* Podcasting News (223)
* Random (16)
Websites of Interest
* PCA Blog Homepage
* PodShow, Inc.
* PodSafe Music Network
* PodcastAlley Homepage

ed-cast The Higher Education Podcast Repository

Ed-Cast is a repository for higher education podcasts. It contains international higher education lectures, conversations, speeches, and podcasts. Although designed for higher education, K12 educators will find interesting content at this site.

I’ve listed some of the podcasts that K12 educators might find interesting.

Title / Category / Format / Length / Keywords / Author(s) / Date of Submission

* Learning Community / Presentation / Audio / 3 / online, learning, community, networking / Cynthia Gautreau / Wed, 21 Jun 2006 11:09:40 GMT

* Rod's Pulse Podcast / Conversatio / Audio / 20 / educational technology diy podcast blackboard e-learning / Rodney B. Murray, Ph.D. / Wed, 07 Jun 2006 18:50:43 GMT

* Blogs, Wikis and Writely! / Lecture / Audio / 66 / web 2.0, blog, wiki, writely / Ray Schroeder / Wed, 15 Feb 2006 12:48:00 GMT

* Thoughts on Web 2.0 / Lecture / Audio / 16 / Web 2.0, podcast, participatory, read-write web / Burks Oakley II / Mon, 14 Nov 2005 20:50:40 GMT THE PODCAST DIRECTORY

Approximately 100 podcasts show when you search for Education. What a variety! You have to look through the list title by title to really understand the wide range of topics… a podcast for part-time university instructors, technology teachers talking, ideas from two middle-school teachers, interview clips of Japanese American World War II veterans… A quicker way to find podcasts that may interest you is to use the search function on the home page.

Apple Education: Podcasting in Education

You may find some of these podcasts on Apple’s site interesting:

Educational Podcasts
Higher Education
* Knowledge@Wharton Audio Articles
* Thermal and Statistical Physics
* Campus MovieFest
* American Presidents

* MobiStories - Virtual Books for Kids
* English as a Second Language
* Radio WillowWeb
* A School in the Coulee Podcast

Professional Development
* Cut to the Core Essential Podcasts for Educators
* TeacherCast | Newshour with Jim Lehrer Podcast | PBS
* John Merrow Education Podcast
* ScreenCastsOnline


A teacher in Scotland maintains this education podcast directory. A search for Education lists a podcast with Chilean music, another with “quick and dirty tips” for grammar, and one on child suffering from UNICEF Radio.


This podcast directory lists 1914 feeds. Of those, 34 feeds are in the Education category.

Some of the podcasts in the Education list include:
* Disability411: Provides information on disability-related topics for those who work with individuals with disabilities, including… K-12 special education teachers.
* John Kenneth Fisher: Speeches and sounds that helped define our world. From Cronkite to Churchill, Kennedy to Reagan.
* Moodle Journal: Blog describing the experiences of using Moodle to help implement the elearning program at Bromley College.
* OPAL Podcast: Online information for librarians and their users.
* Podictionary: Daily podcast for word lovers with a new word in each episode.
* Room 208 Podcast: Podcast by elementary students in Maine.
* Student Financial Aid News Podcast: A regular audio broadcast for financial aid information.
* The ADD Dad Show: A father talks about the effects of ADD on his life and children.

alpha fresh is designed to help you…
* browse podcast directories and search for podcasts
* manage podcast subscriptions
* listen to audio podcasts
* watch video podcasts
* learn about podcasting
* read news about podcasting tools
...and more!

Listen to the audio tutorial for the site to learn how to do all these things. The Education category lists a Chinese podcast, another from PBS: NOVA, and The Word Nerds. The Word Nerd podcasts are about “words, language, and why we say the things we do.” Episode topics include prepositions, thanks and gratitude, sports language, derivatives, and others.


The PodcastBlaster podcast directory is tracking 22,662 podcasts with a total of 431,454 episodes.

Education podcasts include:
* CSI AudioCast: CSI Education
* Education 548 Podcast
* Education
* DV in Education Podcast
* Education
* Podcasts in education
* Investment Education Podcasts

Some of the education episodes you might want to check include:
* Nature Podcast
* Animal Talk, Naturally!
* Podcasts from Learn 4 Life - Innovation in Education in the UK
* The Kedou Adventures -- A Little Bear's podStories
* Club KidCast
* Youth Voices Coast to Coast: NYC and Utah
* Robin And The Giant - Sleepy Time Theatre
* French For Beginners
* Digital Photography Tips From The Top Floor
* Storynory: Free Audio Stories for Kids
* DragonflyTV . Podcast | PBS KIDS GO!
* Stories of the Week | NewsHour with Jim Lehrer Podcast | PBS
* Rolling R's: Spanish Lessons (Video Podcast)

Learn on-the-go

This site promotes lifelong learning through the use of audio and video podcasts.

Categories include:
* History (16)
* Health and Fitness (41)
* Science and Technology (26)
* Business (11)
* Languages (56)
* Religion and Inspiration (28)

At this point the site has 178 links in 21 categories. A search for Education locates eight podcasts. Of these eight, two look particularly interesting: one on mobile learning—blogging on cell phones, PDAs, and iPods—and another on the role of technology in online education.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Very Interesting Web Sites for Educators

You are most likely familiar with eSchool News, an online source for news and resources dealing with the use of technology in education. One of the free resources available is ClassroomNews. You can subscribe (at no cost) to this monthly PDF newsletter for technology news and resources for the classroom at the eSchool News site ( The interesting web sites I have listed (below) are from the January 2007 edition of ClassroomNews.


An online learning project from the Quest Network will look for reasons why the inhabitants of a particular location in Central America live so long. This three-week, inquiry-based project begins on January 29. This is the second Blue Zones Quest. It provides free curriculum that promotes collaboration, problem solving, critical thinking, and communication skills.

These quests try to find areas in the world where people live very long lives… and figure out why. The expedition team provides text, videos, and photographs. The students involved can direct the team’s approach. And together they can try to determine what factors help us to live long, healthy lives. Additional materials are available for teachers so they can extend the project.


Middle and high school social studies teachers will find it easier to support their lessons with elements from C-SPAN’s public affairs and political programming.
You can:
* download free video clips,
* search archived and current video by keywords,
* create personalized user areas for favorite clips, and
* use lesson plans, discussion questions, and other resources (including podcasts).
The classroom video content is copyright-free. Resources are tied to state and national social studies standards. And all of this is available free.


Best Evidence Encyclopedia (BEE) contains summaries of research on educational programs and links to the complete scientific reviews. The summaries use easy-to-understand symbols like those used in Consumer Reports. Topics include elementary mathematics, technology in reading and mathematics, reading for English-language learners, and others. BEE provides information about the evidence that supports many programs for students in grades K-12.


The Center for Implementing Technology in Education (CITEd) has developed a new web site with an impressive set of free online tools. EdTech Locator is an interactive tool that helps educators determine where they are in the technology-integration continuum. It also helps them understand the various stages of technology integration. Another tool, Tech Matrices, helps educators search for resources to support reading and mathematics instruction for special needs students.

The site has three main areas: the Learn Center, the Action Center, and the Research Center. The Learn Center helps educators select resources for using technology to help meet the needs of all students. The Action Center helps in the planning and implementation of professional development activities. The Research Center contains CITEd’s syntheses of research practices in content areas. Educators can use this information to help them find ways to integrate technology in their classrooms.


Educators can learn so much by collaborating with each other… and Teachade helps us do that. Teachade is an online site that educators can use to share resources, create online learning communities, and communicate with colleagues. In other words… online social networking for teachers! Registration is free and available for K-12 teachers, pre-service teachers, student teachers, and college professors. You can join groups based on common interests such as music, supporting educational technology, or elementary grades science. Calendars and storage of favorite files (such as lesson plans) are also available.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Educational Technology Trends to Watch in 2007

A recent poll by eSchool News ( caught my interest. It asked if "text-speak" should be permitted for use on school tests and assignments. The results were

13% "Yes, most of the time"
38% "Yes, but only in some circumstances"
49% "Absolutely not"
0% "No opinion"

It will be interesting to see how much "text-speak" becomes embedded in school projects. How would you respond to the poll?


Education and the role of technology in education keep changing. eSchool News ( lists six educational technology trends to watch for their impact on schools and colleges in 2007.

Trend No. 1: The leveling power of the World Wide Web

You can create content--in writing, audio, or video--without expensive equipment and post your content so the world can view it. You don’t need the backing of a publisher or studio or lots of money to make it happen. YouTube is the current example of how easy this is to do. Record some video, edit it--or not--and post it on the web. Student projects--whether done for school or college or just for fun--now have a real medium for distribution.

Trend No. 2: Cloud computing

We’re all used to client/server computing—a group of clients (our individual computers) and a central server linked through a network. The speed of that network is becoming fast enough that the network can serve as the computer (to loosely quote Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google). So, instead of using a spreadsheet that resides on our computer, we can use a web-based spreadsheet… or other software.

"We call it 'cloud computing,'" [Schmidt] proclaims. "The servers should be in a cloud somewhere. And if you have the right kind of browser or the right kind of access, it doesn't matter whether you have a PC or a Mac or a mobile telephone or a Blackberry--or new devices still to be developed--you can get access to the cloud."

Trend No. 3: Service-oriented architecture

Service-oriented architecture (SOA) is the creation of software by putting together bundles of single functions such as “cancel school bus route.” Designing software in this manner isn’t new; however, what’s different is building it on the web. Standard SOA tools make the process of creating this software much easier.

Trend No. 4: The gathering SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model)

The next trend--Sharable Content Object Reference Model, or SCORM--comes closer to individual teachers. SCORM is a set of standards and specifications that allow digital learning materials to be accessed and reused. These specifications can help to ensure that digital content can be used in any learning management system (LMS) software. Hopefully, educators will be able to access reusable online content and incorporate portions into their own instruction.

Most of the major LMS software used today complies with the standard. And Moodle is on its way toward becoming compliant. With standards that allow teachers to share and reuse content or modify it for their own needs, instruction can be designed to meet the needs of the learners.

Trend No. 5: Telepresence and anytime, anywhere education

See how eSchool News describes a telepresence videoconference…
Imagine a conference room with six chairs, three on each side of a conference table. Envision a clear glass panel running down the center of the table.

Walk into this room while a high-level parlay is under way, and you'd see six executives deep in conversation. But here's the catch: Only three of them are physically present. The three participants closest to you actually are in the room--in Chicago, say. The others are in San Jose, Calif., but their life-size, high-definition images are on the glass partition in the Chicago conference room.
Direct eye contact, flawless streaming video, and perfect audio make it seem real. Full telepresence is expensive now; but, eventually, that cost could lessen. Videoconferences are effective now. Telepresence videoconference take that effectiveness a step higher.

Trend No. 6: 21st-century learning

Every student in America needs specific knowledge and skills to succeed in the 21st century. According to the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, our students need:

* Information and communication skills
* Thinking and problem-solving skills
* Interpersonal and self-direction skills
* Global awareness
* Financial, economic, and business skills and
* Civic literacy.

The technology is available for these six trends--the flattening influence of the internet, cloud computing, SOA, SCORM, telepresence, and the drive for 21st-century skills. All we have to do now is bring the politics and the finances together with these trends to make some very effective differences in how we teach and how our students learn.

Partnership for 21st Century Skills

"Gathering SCORM could transform eLearning" (eSN Online, April 2006)

"'Telepresence' adds realism to video conferencing" (eSN Online, October 2006)