Sunday, December 28, 2008

Reaching Toward Goals for 2009

It’s time to start making New Year’s resolutions. My first is to take at least one photo each day during 2009. I read of a similar resolution by several bloggers last year. So, this year it’s my turn. I plan to post the photos on Flickr! and/or this blog. The idea for this resolution comes from the question — “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” — and its answer — “Practice!” I figure that the more photos I take, the better I’ll become as a photographer. We’ll see if I’m correct.

My second resolution is to maintain zero inboxes for email. I’m pretty good at doing that for my RSS reader, but not so good with my email. So, that means I have between now and December 31 to clear out my email inboxes. I think I’ll be busy!

Those two resolutions will require that I develop new habits. A third resolution will be a lot more fun. I want my students to become networked students with their own personal learning networks. (See here for my blog entry about this topic.) I’ve begun working on this one. One of the early projects for some of my students during spring semester 2009 is to create a movie of photos rather than of video clips. I’m so used to viewing this type of movie that it always surprises me when I’m reminded that many of my students have never seen movies created with only photos. Last week I created a short “photo” movie that explains briefly what we’ll be doing and also serves as a model of the first movie that I expect the students to create.

These three resolutions are going to keep me very busy this year!


Friday, December 19, 2008

Sometimes the Most Detail is Not the Best Choice

When I first learned about posting photographs on the web, another educator with whom I was working objected when I said that she should save her JPG photo at an 8 out of 10 quality. She wanted to know why she shouldn’t save it at the “best” quality of 10 out of 10. I needed to explain why the “best” wasn’t really the best choice.

When students—and adults—learn about posting photos on the web, there are several topics they need to understand. File format and size, pixels, thumbnails, photo resolution, scanning, JPG quality and compression, cumulative distortion, and design guidelines are issues that should be discussed.

I know about these things, but I didn’t use my knowledge recently as I was trying to quickly post some photos on a wiki for a community group. You know, of course, what the result was… good pictures… once they loaded. I wonder if any of the community folks hung around long enough to see the result after the photos did finally load!

Thank goodness for Dennis Benson, a friend who was working on the wiki with me. He modified the photos so that they had both quality and speed. And he shared with me a web site — — that I’ll use with my students to provide very simple guidelines for posting photos on the web.

What do you use to help your students take and use better photos?


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tech Savvy Awards Deadline Extended

One of the blogs I follow is that of the National Center for Family Literacy. (Note: If you're wondering why you don't see it listed on this blog, that's because my blog listings and my RSS feeder listings have each taken on a life of their own. Maybe I'll get the two listings coordinated during Christmas vacation!) This organization has an interesting awards program in progress that you may want to investigate... and they have extended the deadline. Meg Ivey of this family literacy group wants to share information of this awards program and its extended deadline with as many folks as possible... and asked me to share it with my readers. I'm glad to help, Meg!
The National Center for Family Literacy announced today that it is extending nominations for the national 2009 Verizon Tech Savvy Awards until Jan. 12, 2009. NCFL extended the deadline in recognition that so many education programs are struggling with reduced budgets, which makes the award money even more important.

The Tech Savvy Awards are the first national awards to honor programs that improve parents and children’s understanding and use of technology. Four $5,000 regional awards and one $25,000 national award will be presented.

For a copy of the 2009 Verizon Tech Savvy Awards nomination form and a map of the regions, visit . The deadline for submissions is midnight EST Jan. 12.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Students and Their Personal Learning Networks

As teachers we’re learning to build personal learning networks, but are we teaching our students to do the same? I just viewed a video on Steve Dembo’s Teach42:Education and Technology blog that will help me do that next semester. Check it out here.


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Learning about Literature, US History, and Poetry with Shmoop

This evening I wanted to stop what I was doing and read a book. In fact, I wanted to re-read The Old Man and the Sea. And then I wanted to read about the Great Depression.

What led to those ideas? I was exploring shmoop’s web site.

Shmoop focuses on the relevance of literature and history to today’s students, middle school and above. They say that their mission is to “make learning and writing more fun and relevant for students in the digital age.” In my opinion, students aren’t the only ones who will find this site interesting and fun.

Even their blog is fun to read. Recent entries are titled “Why Should I Care About…” followed by the name of a novel that they relate to people and popular culture that today’s students recognize.

In the literature area, they expand upon 115 novels at this point. You can sort the novels by author or by title and view them as a list or by cover flow. After you choose a novel, you can choose to read and learn beginning with an introduction (“in a nutshell” and “why should I care?”) to the novel, and then a summary, themes, quotations, plot analysis, study questions, characters, literary devices, did you know, and best of the web.

Fifty US history topics are covered. After you choose a topic, you can read an introduction, an in-depth explanation, a timeline, people, did you know, best of the web (books, movies and TV, music, photos, audio and video, historical documents), and citations.

In the poetry section, I looked for Carl Sandburg among the 30 poems, but unfortunately they don’t have any of his poetry yet. I’ve not read much by E.E. Cummings, so I read about one of his poems. After you choose a poem, you can explore an introduction, the poem, summary, technique, themes, quotations, study questions, did you know, best of the web, and how to read a poem.

Once you’re in shmoop, you can put Stickies, Clippings, or Paper Outlines on any page and access them in your Folders. A dictionary is available to define words you select on the web site. You can also enter into a discussion (asynchronous) with others.

The literature section has a guide to help you write a paper. A free cram sheet and aids for review are available in the US history area. In the poetry area you can search for words that are displayed in a word cloud.

Launched on November 11, 2008, shmoop is beta. In fact, they state that they “still have miles to go.” But, it looks like a great start for a web site that both teachers and students can use as they work with literature, US history, and poetry.

It will be interesting to watch what new subjects they add.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Name Your Files So They Can Be Found

Erin Doland shares a good idea for naming computer files on a recent Real Simple blog.

Doland suggests that the combination of consistently- and appropriately-named files/folders with a good desktop search program such as Google Desktop will allow you to find whatever file you need.

Doland uses file names such as 081125-project-client. I like the use of the date in the name. By using a year-month-date approach, the files will sort chronologically. I use the date as part of some of my filenames, but I use 20081125 (all four digits of the year) because some of my files are pre-2000.

I find that I use the date as part of the file name for (1) files that refer to events that occur on an annual or otherwise recurring basis and (2) photo albums. So, I have files such as Fireside Chat 20080313 and Fireside Chat 20080626 for a community organization. My photo albums name the event and the date… Thanksgiving 20081127. I plan now to consider using the date in other filenames as well. And I might begin the filename with the date rather than end it with the date. That would assure the chronological ordering even better.

So, how do you name your files?


Monday, November 24, 2008

Print a Web Page as You Want

Did you ever want to print a web page, but didn’t want to waste paper on all the ads and portions of the article that you didn’t need? Or you could print just the portion of the article that you wanted… except that it printed in narrow columns with big areas of white space?

While reading Tim Lauer’s blog ( I discovered Print What You (, a site that lets you save as a PDF those portions of a web page that you want… and then you can print the PDF.

Try it. It’s easy. It’s free. And it works!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Professional Information and Weekly Address

Professional Information

TeachersFirst site is always a good source of sites to use when teaching. However, it also provides other useful information. When you follow the trail Professional > Staying Current > Outside Sources, you find links to all the State Departments of Education (USA) and the state education standards. At the same spot you can also find links to many professional education organizations and current information on grants and contests. This is certainly a good site to bookmark.

Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on

Weekly Address
from President-elect Obama

Http:// is the official website during the transition of President-elect Obama and his team. News, events, and announcements will be available here during the transition period.

Weekly addresses will also be found here—and on YouTube, AOL, Yahoo, and MSN—in addition to being broadcast on the radio. It appears that the transcripts are also included. These weekly updates will continue during the transition period and then also from the White House. This is the first time that a weekly update has been released as a web video.

Current events should be much easier to discuss with this new source.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Field Trips Too Expensive This Year? Try a Virtual Tour!

Do you and your students want to travel to a museum, a city, a country, the solar system? How about a virtual tour? Would you like your students to create their own virtual tour?

Here's a few of the sites available for virtual tours:
  • Franklin Institute Science Museum
  • Museum of Science and Industry
  • American Museum of Natural History
  • Worldwide Museum of Natural History
  • American Red Cross Virtual Museum
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Vanderbilt Museum
  • Easter Island
  • The Nine (8) Planets
  • The Whitehouse
  • The Virtual Cave
  • Dark Ages
  • Poet’s Pantry Tour
  • Africa
Dianne Krause of the Wissahickon School District in Pennsylvania has created a list of virtual tours which includes many that I have not seen elsewhere. This list is definitely worth exploring!


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Common Craft Video Explains Phishing

No Phishing

Information literacy is one component of digital citizenship. Included in information literacy is the ability to recognize dangers online... and one of those dangers is phishing.

Common Craft has produced a video--Phishing Scams in Plain English--which does a very good job of explaining phishing.

I have embedded the video here for you to view. It can also be accessed at YouTube.


About Me

Hello! My name is Jo Schiffbauer. I believe in lifelong learning. With that in mind, I designed this blog as a series of technology tips for educators—tips that provide ideas for learning, teaching, and using digital skills.

Students should be actively involved in their learning and they should have authentic audiences for their work. The use of technology—especially many web 2.0 applications—supports this type of learning and teaching.

I am a former teacher (mathematics and computer science) and director of technology. Currently I am an adjunct instructor in instructional technology for preservice teachers at a local university and I teach graduate workshops for teachers. With Ohio’s Project Discovery I provided professional development designed to reform both the teaching and learning of mathematics education. I have presented to local, state, and regional groups about mathematics and technology education and I have served on the boards of local and state mathematics and technology education organizations.

If you would like to contact me, I am available at

Thank you for visiting Learning and Teaching in the 21st Century.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

FiveThirtyEight... electoral projections

If your passion is elections (USA), polls, or statistics, then this site will most likely interest you!

Here’s an example of what the folks behind the site do…
"The basic process for computing our Presidential projections consists of six steps:
1. Polling Average: Aggregate polling data, and weight it according to our reliability scores.
2. Trend Adjustment: Adjust the polling data for current trends.
3. Regression: Analyze demographic data in each state by means of regression analysis.
4. Snapshot: Combine the polling data with the regression analysis to produce an electoral snapshot. This is our estimate of what would happen if the election were held today.
5. Projection: Translate the snapshot into a projection of what will happen in November, by allocating out undecided voters and applying a discount to current polling leads based on historical trends.
6. Simulation: Simulate our results 10,000 times based on the results of the projection to account for the uncertainty in our estimates. The end result is a robust probabilistic assessment of what will happen in each state as well as in the nation as a whole."
You will see maps, charts, graphs, and commentary as you check out today’s polls, pollster ratings, Senate polls and projections, and electoral history. This site will be interesting to follow during the next ten days.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

iTunes U has Many Good Resources We Can Use

Have you examined the resources available at iTunes U? To navigate there, launch iTunes. (It’s a free download.) Then click on iTunes U in the iTunes Store.

Several options are provided for us to search for content.

On the left side is a list of categories (business, engineering, fine arts, health and medicine, history, humanities, language, literature, mathematics, science, social science, society, teaching and education). We can explore through the offerings in each category.

Educational providers are listed in three types: universities and colleges, beyond campus, and K-12. (Beyond Campus consists of educational providers such as the Brooklyn Museum, Edutopia, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, WETA, and the New York Public Library.) We can wander through the offerings in each of these three types to find some great resources.

Some examples of what I found follow.

In the K-12 type, I found these interesting podcasts:
  • Paradise Valley USD: Information Literacy > The SMHS Media Center > How to use our library for 9th-graders
  • (book) … A Day No Pigs Would Die > circle map > main character
  • Tempe Elementary Mathematics > Quantitative Quandries > description of a unit for students strong in mathematics
  • (student work) Conexiones > Catch the Dream opening video > community outreach program for children in under-served communities, K12 outreach of Arizona State University
  • Maine > Inquiry in Science > PD enhanced podcast
  • … Teaching and Learning with Digital Text > PD enhanced podcast
As I wandered through the categories, I found these:
  • Meet the Author: Interviews with Children’s Books Authors and Illustrators… video interviews / audio interviews / transcripts…
  • Nanotechnology… University of Oxford… explore the nanoworld… look at the research…
  • Indianapolis Museum of Art… American Art… the earliest art of the Americas with approximately 200 more recent works…
  • The Great Depression and WWII… short video clips with audio lectures… discussion of the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt, the New Deal, and World War II… links to Great Depression resources including primary source documents, learning tools, visual aids, and resources
Some of the podcasts I found were simple without sophisticated techniques… and still they managed to serve their purposes. Others were quite impressive and instructive and used very skilled techniques. Having access to these podcasts and videos for free allows us to supplement our courses with some outstanding resources. This is also a great way for us to keep learning!


Saturday, October 11, 2008

IAE-pedia Resources

David Moursund’s IAE-pedia ( provides a variety of resources for educators. I’ll list a few of them here, but you’ll want to visit the site to see more.

A List of Five-Minute Workshops (
short videos)
topics include Second Life, Google Docs, PowerPoint, the last day of class, embedding resources in wikis, eClips, virtual office hours, a vision of students today, learning styles, podcasting

Creating short hybrid videos (
slides with voice-overs)
short hybrid videos might be described as a subset of a project page or of a curriculum page unit

Project-Based Learning)
good instruction and resources are available

good resources for mathematics education
dedicated to increasing achievement, especially with a diverse population
new resources are added weekly for…
  • Problem of the Week
  • Quote of the Week
  • Statistic of the Week
  • Website of the Week
  • Math Person of the Week
  • Resource of the Week
  • Golden Oldie of the Week
  • Calendar: Events and Birthdays
Note: don’t skip this section as just another “problem of the week”… these are really good!

David Moursund (free) books
Twenty-six of David Moursund’s more than 50 books are available free

The IAE-pedia is a project of Information Age Education, a non-profit organization created by Dave Moursund, and of the Science Factory, a children’s museum and planetarium in Eugene, Oregon.

Clip Art:

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Teaching and Learning in Style

Are you a proponent of learning styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic) as a concept we can use to improve both teaching and learning for many individuals? Whether your answer is yes or no, you will find some good ideas in Heather Johnson's article.

The Art of Learning Better: 101 Tips to Find and Fit Your Learning Style
provides suggestions for preservice and inservice teachers as we’re learning new ideas. Ideas presented encourage us to use our personal learning styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic) as we learn. That’s a great idea. However, we can also use these recommendations to help us reach students with different learning styles as we teach.

For each learning style, Heather Johnson provides ideas for organization, in class activities, studying, and using other learning methods.

Visual learners understand better when ideas are represented visually: pictures, drawings, graphs, charts, even text. Johnson recommends the use of color coding, making lists, sketching, creating a timeline or an outline, watching videos, creating mind maps, using the computer, keeping things quiet, and many other ideas.

Auditory learners prefer hearing new ideas; so, sounds work well for them. That includes music and talking as well as other sounds. Tips for auditory learners include creating auditory cues and leaving yourself audio messages, participating in discussions, asking for things to be repeated, studying with others, using audio books, creating oral stories that include the ideas you want to remember, creating songs, watching videos, listening to podcasts and music, using headphones, creating rhymes, and other tips.

Kinesthetic learners need to learn with hands-on opportunities. Interactive computer programs or web sites as well as labs or demonstrations work well for them. These learners benefit from using notebooks with distinct surfaces, being active, using the computer, interacting with teachers and other learners, chewing gum, typing notes, going on field trips, taking lab classes, studying in short blocks of time and with others, participating in role play, drawing, creating models, tracing letters, moving while studying, making learning aids such as quizzes or flash cards, and many other ideas suggested.

I can’t help but think about ideas previously discussed in this blog as I look at some of Johnson’s suggestions…
  • Audio Books: LearnOutLoud
  • Audio Messages:
  • Charts: Gliffy
  • Creating Songs: GarageBand (Mac only)
  • Drawings: Comic Life, Kerpoof!, Glogster
  • Field Trips: National History Education Clearinghouse, search for field trip at the top left of the blog web page and click Search Blog
  • Graphs:,
  • Music: GarageBand (Mac only)
  • Pictures: Creative Commons, check the clip art label to the right, Kerpoof!, Dumpr, LunaPic, Picnik
  • Podcasts: Gabcast, check the podcast label to the right for many resources
  • Quizzes: ClassTools
  • Timelines: HyperHistory Online, Xtimeline
  • Typing Notes: Word, Google Docs, many others
  • Videos: Kerpoof!, LearnOutLoud, TeacherTube, YouTube, UnitedStreaming
  • Web Sites: check the web sites label to the right
BTW, there are two ways to search for ideas in this blog. First, you can simply click on any of the labels listed in the right sidebar below the listed blogs. The second way to search for an idea is to use the search box at the top left of the page. Type what you want to search for in the search box and then click on Search Blog.

These tips for working with learning styles are found at Teaching Tips, a web site for both preservice and inservice teachers.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Clipping the Web

I have enjoyed and learned much from the online courses in which I have participated. I have appreciated being able to access the courses at times and places convenient for me. I like the fact that I can send communications to my instructors at whatever time works best for me… and my experience has been that they respond to me quickly.

I recently read an article in Education Week about online learning. I wasn’t interested in bookmarking the entire web page. However, there were a few quotations that I thought I’d like to keep for use in future discussions of the subject. ( allows me to do just that… to save text clippings or even images and videos on a web page. So I clipped some comments that I wanted to keep and posted them to Delicious so I could access them later. I could also post them to FriendFeed, Twitter, Facebook, iGoogle, or a Netvibes home page.

I can view my clipping on my Clipmarks page. If I choose to make my clippings public, I can view them on the public Clipmarks page. I can post them to my blog—several blogging platforms are supported—or email them to friends or print them. Here’s the clips I posted to this blog.

clipped from
One must have a level of maturity that usually only comes with chronological age to engage in such a responsibility.

Overall, I found the experience GREAT! I believe it helped me to grow intellectually in the way of technological intelligence and in my abstract and critical thinking.

But I don't miss at all the distractions, the unavoidable traffic and parking, the need to make an appointment with a professor who is only available 3-5 pm twice a week.

blog it

In order to use Clipmarks, I installed an extension for Firefox. Extensions are also available for Internet Explorer and Flock. To clip, I first click the green clip button. Then I highlight what I want and click the clip button to select it. When I have finished clipping, I click Done Clipping and choose what I am going to do with my clippings—save, blog, email, or print them.

I can follow someone by choosing him/her as a Guide. That way I can see what that individual clips.

I can place a widget of my clips to a MySpace page, blog, or other site. I chose to put a widget on my iGoogle page.

Why would I—or you—want to use Clipmarks? The testimonials listed on the Clipmarks page suggest these reasons:
  • archive information
  • store information that interests me
  • stay up-to-date on a topic
  • share ideas that I think are important
  • clip and save part of a page
  • clip and save text, graphics, and YouTube videos
  • save directly to your blog
  • e-mail something you just read to a friend
I particularly like the fact that I can save my clippings to Delicious. That way I can access the information I clipped to use it for future work. And the ease of posting clippings to my blog is useful. I haven’t succeeded in posting to my wiki automatically yet. I would like that!

I also like being able to save portions of a web page to my Delicious account. When I pull up the information later when I’m researching a particular topic, I won’t have to re-read the entire page to find the information I wanted to keep.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

K12 Online Conference 2008: Amplifying Possibilities

The K12 Online Conference 2007 provided some of the very best professional development that I experienced last year. My understanding of personal learning networks increased as did my perspective on using cell phones as classroom learning tools. Liz Kolb shared so many great ideas about using cell phones in the classroom! And thanks to Vinnie Vrotny I tested the waters of a professional learning network. I began using Gabcast for my work and introduced it to my students. I learned more about Web 2.0 and understood more about using it in the classroom.

It’s almost time for the K12 Online Conference 2008. Considering how much I learned last year, I want to very strongly encourage you to participate in this year’s conference. Educators (all volunteers) have designed this conference for educators. I expect that the presentations and conversations from this year’s conference will do the same that last year’s did: help us incorporate new technologies into the teaching and learning processes.

This year’s conference uses the theme
Amplifying Possibilities and begins with a pre-conference keynote during the week of October 13. That is followed by two weeks of presentations, October 20-24 and October 27-31. There is no cost for participating in the conference and conference materials are covered by a Creative Commons license. Are you busy with other projects those weeks? You can view the presentations later in online archives. In fact, there are 82 past presentations archived and viewable from the K12 Online 2006 and K12 Online 2007 conferences.

This year’s conference has four strands. Quoting briefly from the conference materials, these strands and their purposes follow.
Getting Started: Everything you wanted to know about getting started with web 2.0 technologies for learning but were afraid to ask.
Kicking It Up a Notch: This strand amplifies ways new technologies can be used to transform classroom and personal learning.
Prove It: What are “best practices” for teaching and learning with the new participatory media?
Leading the Change: Presentations in this strand will both showcase successful strategies as well as amplify critical issues which must be addressed for innovative learning methods to be adopted by teachers, librarians, and administrators on a more widespread basis.
Mark these dates on your calendar and join me at the K12 Online Conference 2008!


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Dumpr Creates Unique Photo Effects

Rubik Cube Generator
Create your own Rubik's Cube

John Evans posted some interesting sites on Leader Talk recently. I haven’t investigated all the sites yet, but I had fun with the one I did visit.

Art Museum
Museum by

Dumpr ( is a utility for photos. You select one of several effects, upload a photo, and Dumpr creates a unique product using your photo.

You may create as many effects as you wish. Most of the effects are free; however, some are available for Pro users only. You don’t have to have an account to use Dumpr. But, if you do register, you can add titles and descriptions and re-use recently-uploaded photos. Dumpr supports JPEG, GIF, and PNG formats. Users must be at least 13 years old.

If you do sign up for a Pro account ($12 yearly), you can use some effects that are not available for free accounts, you see no more ads, and you can embed directly to blogs and some social networks.

Check out the photo effects that I very quickly created.

Easter egg
Create your own Easter Egg at

Annenberg Produces Multimedia Mathematics Series

I am always impressed by the products that Annenberg Media produces. Mathematics Illuminated ( is no exception.

Mathematics Illuminated is an interesting series about key themes in mathematics. The content is geared for adults, including high school teachers. As I examined the series, I also found sections that can be used effectively by middle school teachers. I would have loved to have this series available when I was teaching mathematics! The goals for those participating in the course are that they:
  • "recognize the fundamental role of mathematics in all intellectual and artistic pursuits"
  • "appreciate that mathematics can help us illuminate, define, and predict the world around us"
  • "develop a better understanding of the nature of mathematics"
Units in the series include primes, combinatorics, infinity, topology, symmetry, geometry, game theory, networks, and chaos. Learning is accomplished with videos, online textbooks, interactive web activities, and group and individual activities. The videos provide historical background for the concepts, interviews with experts, animations that explain the concepts, and real-world applications of the concepts. Mathematicians of both the past and the present are included in the course materials. And national and local standards in mathematics are referenced.

Some of the additional resources include video transcripts, a glossary, and a timeline of mathematical concepts. Components in the series may be used individually or as part of the entire course. The facilitator and participant guides are based on an inquiry-based model in which participants become active explorers. The course materials may be downloaded as PDF files.

If you teach middle school or high school mathematics or just find mathematics to be fascinating, you definitely want to examine Mathematics Illuminated. And when you visit, be sure to check out the interactive web activities!


Saturday, September 6, 2008

Create CD and DVD Labels That Look Great!

When I recommend software, I usually try to suggest free programs. I also make sure that anything I suggest works with both Windows and Macintosh operating systems. However, I am currently using a Macintosh program which is not free ($35.95), but which I love… so I thought you might be interested in learning about it.

DiscLabel (from SmileOnMyMac) is inexpensive software for Macs which you can use to create and print labels for CDs, DVDs, and jewel case inserts. And… best of all… the labels and inserts look professional!

My husband and I created DVDs of family photos and movies as Christmas gifts for our family last year. I played with several designs for the DVD labels. I've posted one of them here.

Some of the features of DiscLabel are:
  • works with multiple layers
  • can apply effects (blur, sharpen, distort, color, stylize)
  • use circular text (multi-line, if you wish)
  • import playlists and track art from iTunes
  • import albums and pictures from iPhoto
  • can use direct-to-disc printers
  • drag and drop images from Finder and Photoshop (PSD) files
  • can copy and paste images
You can use one of many provided templates or create your own design. More than 1,300 clip art images come with the program for you to use. DiscLabel is available in English, Japanese, German, Italian, and French.

Technology allows both teachers and students to create projects and to share stories. Sometimes the best way to distribute these creations is by posting them on the web. Other times a CD or a DVD that you can make available to parents or the community is the best choice. DiscLabel can help make those CDs and DVDs look professional!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Resources for Blogging... for Teachers, Administrators, and Students

Are you considering blogging… as a teacher? As an administrator? As a student activity?

If your answer is yes to any of these questions, you will probably want to examine some helpful resources. The Moving Forward wiki -- administered by Dr. Scott McLeod -- lists resources dealing with moving into the 21st century. One section of this wiki -- -- contains resources for K-12 blogging, including real-life examples for students, teachers, and administrators. You’ll find helpful information here whether you’re beginning a blog for the first time or you’re an experienced blogger.

Resources include a list of the reasons why blogging is such a good tool for teaching as well as reasons why administrators should blog. Guidance is provided for teachers who blog and those who use blogging as an instructional tool. A workshop from TeachersFirst for teachers who are starting blogging in the classroom includes safety suggestions. A variety of tools for setting up blogs either for an individual blog or for a classroom blog can be examined.

Links to many examples of blogs are available. You can read blogs from elementary classrooms, elementary teachers, secondary classrooms, secondary teachers, principals, central office personnel, librarians, and counselors. There are also blogs focusing on music education, K-12 computer science, and special education.

I am convinced you will find lots of ideas at this site to help you in your blogging activities.

If you would like to listen to this blog entry rather than read it, select play on the Gabcast player below.

Gabcast! Learning and Teaching in the 21st Century #11


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Make Free Games with ClassTools

I discovered a cool tool at Vicki Davis' blog recently. She told about, a site where you can create games, activities, and diagrams which you can host on your blog or web site. And using the site is free!

You can create several different types of arcade games or create a timeline or analyze sources. (Look at the list I've posted to see what the various options are.) The site is easy to use. Samples of each option--with comments--can be viewed. You can save your creations as well as post them. You might even have your students create the games.

Try my
matching pair game about polygons!

Click here for full screen version

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Classroom 2.0 is a Great Resource

I’m busy preparing for the courses I’m teaching this fall. One is new to my schedule and I’m excited about teaching it. I think its content is relevant and will be interesting to my students who will be fulltime teachers before too long. The other course is one I’ve taught for several years. This fall I’m changing the teaching process in this course to allow the students to have more opportunities to collaborate, to communicate, and to be creative. I’ll probably write more about some of these changes in the next weeks and months.

As I’ve been thinking about this new school year, I knew that I’d like to share in this blog something that would be valuable to you throughout the whole year. The first thing that came to my mind was Classroom 2.0 (

Classroom 2.0 is a social network for educators who are interested in effectively using technology in education. What might you do at Classroom 2.0? You can…
  • watch a video or chat with hosts or explore on your own to become familiar with Classroom 2.0,
  • search the web site for information about programs that particularly interest you,
  • go to the forum to ask questions,
  • read blog posts,
  • add one of the live web meetings to your schedule, or
  • find interesting discussions via tags.
What might you find? How about other teachers who are using…

blogs, calendars, collaborative documents, collaborative idea maps, collaborative spreadsheets, course management, gaming, google earth, interactive boards, instant messaging, internet telephony, mapping, microblogging, online meetings, photo sharing, podcasting, presentation, rss and readers, screencasting, social bookmarking, social networking, social notetaking, start pages, video conferencing, video sharing, virtual worlds, webmail, wikis…

or who teach…

art, biliteracy-bilingual education, biology, chemistry, English, English as a foreign language, English as a second language, foreign languages, geography, history, math, music, physical education, religion, science, social studies…

or who are interested in…

acceptable use policies, administration, assessment, collaboration opportunities, computer labs, cyberbullying, elementary, gifted, inter-classroom collaboration, internet safety, middle or junior high, online education, open source software, parents, philosophy / pedagogy, pre-K, professional development, secondary or high school, software and service reviews, special needs?

Are other teachers using this social network? There were 10,687 members when I last checked (on August 17).

A (very) few of the many groups that you can join are…
  • DigiSkills
  • The Inclusion Revolution - Technology in Special Education
  • John Dewey's Import on Education Reform
  • Second Life
  • Elementary School 2.0
  • Implementing Instructional Technology Innovations
  • Professional Development
  • elearning for music
  • Elementary Reading Teachers
  • Online Educators
  • Assistive Technology Now
  • ArtTeach
  • Exchange Teachers
  • Five Minds for the Future: Discussion
  • Secondary Social Studies & Technology
Check out these Classroom 2.0 links…
I think you will probably agree that Classroom 2.0 is an excellent resource that you can use throughout the entire school year.

I hope your school year is a great one for both you and your students!


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Use Olympics data for student graphs and an RSS illustration

Are you enjoying watching the Olympics? Your students probably are, too, so use this interesting event to help you teach.

Gather some data from the Olympic Medal Tally, a gadget for your iGoogle page, for your students to use to create graphs. If your students are in school before the Olympics are completed, their graphs can also illustrate the changes from day to day.

Vicki Davis suggests using the Olympic Medal Tally to illustrate RSS to students in an interesting way.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


Would you like a quick, easy way for your students to hear the presidential candidates talk about various issues? Check out a new gadget from Google. It’s called the Google Elections Video Search.

You enter a term to search. I tried education, of course. Then choose whether you want to see and hear all politicians or McCain or Obama. A list of videos from YouTube’s political channels is then available for you to choose. Each one has a title, how long ago it occurred, how long the clip is, and how many times your search term is used. When you look at the video, you can see yellow annotations where your term is used in the video timeline. Videos are ranked by frequency of search term, date, and source.

How does this work? Google Elections Video Search uses speech recognition software to create transcripts of the videos. Google’s blog states that some of the transcripts may not be 100% correct, but that Google is working to make the transcripts more accurate. The blog also points out that
Candidates can control the videos that appear in the gadget by managing the content they upload to YouTube.
You can choose the Google Elections Video Search as a gadget to install on an iGoogle page. To learn more about this gadget, go to

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Electing the President in the USA

In the USA we talk about "one person, one vote"... yet that is not how the president of the country is chosen. And sometimes that's a bit difficult to explain.

CommonCraft--the company that produces the excellent "in plain English" videos--has created a video to do the explaining.

Check it out!

Monday, July 28, 2008

NASA Provides Their Images for Public Access

Whether you teach science or are just fascinated by our amazing universe, you will enjoy these recently-released photos. NASA and Internet Archive ( are working together to provide access to NASA's images.

Their new site is located at

Most of the images at NASA Images are not copyrighted. (Read the details concerning using these images at

Search for images by keyword or by timeline.

The image that I have posted--One Shepherd Moon--is from the NASA Cassini-Huygens Collection. This image shows the unlit side of Saturn’s rings. It also includes Pandora, the small shepherd moon.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Publish Student Writing with KidPub

What’s the best way to improve your writing skills? Write.

With that philosophy in mind, KidPub ( is a web site designed to be a safe place for children to publish stories. It is not designed as a site where “experts” criticize or evaluate the stories. The goal is simply that children write and publish.

Students may join the KidPub Author's Club at a cost of $12.95 per year. Members post stories they’ve written, comment on stories they have read, enter writing contests, and add to “never-ending stories.” The published writings are of many types: adventure, chapter books, mysteries, poetry, and book reviews. There are, in fact, more than 49,000 stories in KidPub’s database.

Teachers and classes may join KidPub Schools for $24.95 per year and find a worldwide audience for their students’ writings. With a KidPub Schools page a teacher can post students' stories, poems, plays, whatever they have written. The teacher can also edit, hide/unhide, and/or delete student work. Stories appear on the KidPub page and on the class page.

Older stories (way back to 2001!) are available in the stacks. Click on any title in the stacks to read the story.

Also available is KidMud, a text-based adventure where KidMud members can build a fantasy world. Members can operate within the world or—if they learn the programming language—they can create new objects. Writing options are available, too (e.g., write for the newspaper or read poetry at a show).

For insight into a student’s perspective on KidPub, be sure to check out Wes Fryer’s interview with a 14-year-old member of KidPub.

You may find that KidPub is just the site to help your student writers improve their skills.


Friday, July 11, 2008

Classroom Blogging

I just spent a week with a group of teachers as they learned about blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other Web 2.0 tools. They read blogs written by others. They created their own blogs and wrote some interesting entries for them. They planned how they might use blogs in their classrooms. And they’re excited about the possibilities.

One resource they may want to explore is the TeachersFirst Blog Basics for the Classroom (

The series begins with a definition of blogs and a brief description of different types of blogs. Several uses for classroom blogging are shared. After a reference to safety, TeachersFirst then lists many more ideas for blogging in the classroom. Steps to take to prepare for involving students in blogging activities are included and then links to successful classroom blogs are shared. A half-dozen tools that the teacher and students can use for blogging--some gated--are listed. Settings (who may read or comment or post or see the author’s name) and rules (agreements) are discussed. Suggestions for evaluating and continuing the process are made.

The information shared and the recommendations suggested are very useful and well organized. The TeachersFirst series on classroom blogging is worth reading.


Sunday, July 6, 2008

NECC 2008 Conference in San Antonio

I love to attend conferences! Sometimes, however, I can't attend one that I know is going to be very valuable. Well, that was the case with the NECC 2008 conference ( in San Antonio, Texas this past week. However, nowadays I don't have to miss an entire conference because I often can attend at least parts of it virtually.

I've been reading blogs about the conference to learn about new technologies and about new ways to teach with technology. Some of the bloggers covered selected sessions live. Some shared ideas they picked up from sessions or from networking with other attendees. And the folks who organized the conference have provided webcasts of some keynote addresses and of some other sessions (

Check your favorite bloggers and the conference web site to attend this conference virtually. Next year the conference is in Washington, DC. Hmm... that's a bit closer!

Some blogs to check...
David Warlick
Kathy Schrock
Vicki Davis
Scott McLeod

Blogger's Cafe, photographed by Scott McLeod

Friday, June 27, 2008

Interactive Periodic Table

If you and your students use the chemistry periodic table, I think you may find this interactive periodic table ( quite useful. Don't, however, just mouse over the table. Be sure to read the FAQ to learn about all the information available.

This photo shows part of the table (

Friday, June 20, 2008

Do More Than Point-and-Shoot with Your Digital Camera

Many of us are using digital cameras nowadays. We take photos very quickly with our point-and-shoot cameras. And the pictures are good. But, sometimes we want them to be more than just good. Digital Photography Tutorials ( provides free tutorials on the basic operation of cameras, tips and techniques, and advanced topics.

The basic tutorials include exposure, lenses, filters, depth of field, autofocus, raw files, pixels, file types, histograms, white balance, and other topics. Tips and techniques provides information on using Photoshop, masks, resizing, and color management. Diffraction, sensor sizes, night photography, and photo stitching are found in the advanced topics.

The explanations are easy to understand. Diagrams and photos help to illustrate the tutorials.

Check out this series of tutorials to help you better understand your camera, how it works, and how to use it.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Cell Phone Spam

This is an unusual blog entry for me... no web 2.0 tools, no software instructions, no classroom teaching techniques, no recommendations for professional development. Instead I simply want to point you to another blogger's instructions for blocking cell phone spam. If you haven't been annoyed by it yet, you probably will be soon. So, with thanks to David Pogue, the technology columnist for the New York Times, click
here to read his blog entry about how to block cell phone spam.