Saturday, March 29, 2008

Inventors and Inventions

A colleague asked me for some good sites about inventors and inventions. As I gathered the resources I realized that this topic could be used effectively to help teach science, history, writing, mathematics, and language arts. Students can invent musical instruments, conduct experiments or demonstrations that illustrate inventions, produce plays about inventions and their effects on society, write biographies of inventors, create and trade inventor trading cards, create videos to tell the stories of inventors and their inventions, conduct oral interviews of living inventors, produce podcasts of those interviews, or write stories about how an invention could change the future. The following list of resources (with comments) could help with those projects.

Encyclopedia Smithsonian: Engineering, Industry, and Invention interviews with leaders and inventors: Bill Gates, computer history, Don Wetzel (ATMs), Marc Andreesen (Netscape); Latin American inventors; invention at play; sewing machines; more…

Famous Inventions: A to Z
extensive list, annoying ads

Famous Inventors: Nationality or A-Z includes biographies and timelines

Inventor Biography
“showcase for innovation… mission is to provide inspiration to the ‘inventor’ in all of us”
inventor biographies, photographs, quotations, and additional resources

Inventors Digest: The Magazine for Idea People
what’s going on in inventions nowadays
designed to “educate and inspire independent and professional innovators”\
23rd year for the magazine

links to information about inventions and inventors, lesson plans, activities
put together by an educator for other educators
some links don’t work

National Inventors Hall of Fame
can find information sorted by inventor or invention or decade

Technology & Inventions
an Australian links page to information about inventions and inventors

The Black Inventor Online Museum
“The Black Inventor Online Museum™, is a look at the great and often unrecognized pioneers in the field of invention and innovation.”
very short biographies, timeline

The Invention Dimension
useful and interesting information
  • inventor archive: accessible by inventor’s name or invention, inventions in the categories of medicine and healthcare, consumer products, transportation, energy and environment, and computing and telecommunications
  • inventor’s handbook: helpful information on patents and commercializing patents
  • games and trivia section: brain drain, invention connection, and which came first?
  • links and resources: interesting sites
The New Inventors
“They say Australia has more inventors, innovators and designers per head of population than anywhere else in the world. So join The New Inventors in a fascinating search for Australia's most amazing inventions and trend-setting designs.”
television show

Zoom Inventors and Inventions
inventors and inventions listed by date or topic, paragraph of explanation for each item


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Link Extractor Lists Web Sites

Would you like a quick way to list all the web sites that are mentioned on a web page that you’re reading? The Webmaster Toolkit’s Link Extractor does exactly that.

I tested it with the 1-800-GOOG-411 web site. I entered the URL of the site…

… and it found nine HREF links.

Then I checked for SRC links…

… and it found twelve more links.

That’s certainly faster and more accurate than going through the web site manually. And it’s a lot easier!

[I read about this tool in an edublog, but —unfortunately— neglected to note which one. I think it was one of Vicki Davis’ links in her Cool Cat Teacher Blog.]

Monday, March 17, 2008

What Kind of World Do You Want?

This site ( facilities the giving of charitable donations to autism research and other charities. The videos on the site also educate us about these causes.

Click either here or on the badge in the sidebar on the right to learn more.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Use Google Reader to Increase Efficiency

I check some web sites on a regular basis to read or learn about the news, teaching ideas, and even recipes. I enjoy going to each site to find out what new options are available and to read any new postings. The only difficulty is that it takes quite a bit of time to check a relatively small number of sites daily or even every other day. If I visit less frequently than that, there’s just too much reading to do!

I have known for some time that I could use a feed reader (or aggregator) to organize and manage this process of checking web sites. I just didn’t want to do it because I enjoy seeing the changes on the sites I visit and—although I don’t like admitting this—because I was in a comfortable habit. I’ve used iTunes as an aggregator for podcasts for a long time. I just hadn’t moved to using a feed reader for other web sites.

The challenge that I recently found myself facing is that there are many really good edublogs that I would like to read and share. However, if I read all the interesting and helpful edublogs, I would never have time to share them with anyone! So, I knew it was time to look at a feed reader.
I like most of the Google products that I’ve tried, so I decided that the first feed reader I would use is Google Reader (, a web-based RSS feed reader.

In case you have forgotten how RSS (Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summaries, take your choice!) works, check out this video from Common Craft

Some of Google Reader’s features include a home page on which you can quickly see new items, keyboard shortcuts for many functions, list or expanded views of items, items marked as read automatically, and search capabilities.

You can subscribe to feeds in a variety of ways: Google Reader recommendations, feed bundles, keyword searches, and others.

You can also organize items into folders or star items to which you may want to
refer later.

Google Reader can be accessed on mobile devices or on iGoogle (Google’s personalized homepage). If you use the Firefox browser, its feed recognition will automatically redirect you to Google Reader's Add Subscription screen to add a feed. (I use that most of the time.) There is even a version of Google Reader specifically formatted for the Wii web browser.

In order to use Google Reader, you must have a (free) Google account, JavaScript must be enabled, and you need to use one of the following web browsers:
  • Internet Explorer 6+
  • Firefox 1.0+
  • Safari 1.3+
  • Netscape 7.2+
  • Mozilla 1.7+
  • Opera 9.0+
Google Reader provides a good help page.

Once I started using Google Reader, I found that I scan the incoming feeds, read some of them, and bookmark a portion of those. And I don’t lose time going to one web site after another!

I also find that I’m now on the lookout for that RSS feed symbol! Do you know that there are feeds for finance, weather, eBay, package tracking, shopping, and saved searches? I have developed the habit of looking for the RSS feed symbol so I can save time and keep track of whatever interests me.
I am keeping track of the blogs I read more efficiently by using Google Reader. That means that now I can add those other sites that I would like to also follow. In fact, with its personalized recommendations, Google helps me check out additional sites so I can decide if I would like to follow them. I have found some interesting sites that way.

Using Google Reader was a good decision. I should have done it sooner!

NOTE: I have added below a list of videos from YouTube and TeacherTube that provide tutorials on various aspects of using Google Reader.
How to Use Google Reader
Introduction to Google Reader, including creating a Google account, followed by adding subscriptions
FCOE TechTips Episode 2
Introduction to adding subscriptions to Google Reader
Add Subscriptions to Google Reader
Additional ways to add subscriptions to Google Reader
How to Use Google Reader: How to View Feeds with Google Reader
Viewing feeds in Google Reader, including keyboard shortcuts, views, and starred items
My Google Reader
How to read and organize articles in Google Reader
How to Use Google Reader: How to Organize Feeds with Google Reader
How to use folders to organize stories in Google Reader
How to Use Google Reader: How to Use Tags in Google Reader
How to use tags to organize stories in Google Reader
How to Use Google Reader: How to Change Google Reader Settings
Changing Google Reader settings (after you have some familiarity with how Google Reader works)
Google Reader: Getting Started
An overview which includes an introduction to feed readers (including Google Reader, of course), subscribing to and removing feeds, and a variety of other features including some that you might want to use if you publish your own blog
How to Use Google Reader: How to Use Google Reader on your Cell Phone
Using Google Reader on your cell phone

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Multimedia for Social Studies and Science

The two sites that I am sharing today both have multimedia presentations that could be useful in the classroom. Actually, both sites are so well done that their content is interesting to view even if you don’t teach the content that they illustrate!

Maps of War
The Maps of War web site is a collection of some of the best multimedia war maps on the web. The topics listed include Iraq, World War I, World War II, Darfur, Israel, terrorism, crime, and migration. I also found maps on some other topics (e.g., democracy and strength—or lack thereof—of other countries). These maps have been created by MSNBC, the BBC, and other producers.

What is amazing when viewing these maps is watching in just a few minutes the effects of years of human activities on countries, lands, and peoples.

The maps available at this web site include:
  • Iraq War Coalition Fatalities,
  • The Fight for Iraq: A Regional Powerplay,
  • Baghdad: Mapping the Violence,
  • The Western Front, 1914 – 1918,
  • World War II in Europe,
  • World War II in the Pacific,
  • The Darfur Tragedy,
  • Eyes on Darfur,
  • Strategic Israel,
  • Failed States Index,
  • War on Crime : The Homicide Map, and
  • Snapshot: Global Migration.
I have embedded the March of Democracy map to show an example of these multimedia maps. Watch 4,000 years of the history of democracy in 90 seconds!

Cell Biology Animation… and other multimedia

John Kyrk is “a biologist by education and an artist by disposition.” He has created and posted on this web site animations of biological processes. The animations are a combination of graphics and text that together explain the process being described. They are very well done.

The cell biology animations include:
  • amino acids and protein,
  • cell function overview,
  • cell anatomy,
  • cell membranes,
  • chromosome structure,
  • diffusion,
  • DNA: structure, replication, transcription, and translation,
  • evolution,
  • glycolysis,
  • golgi apparatus,
  • krebs citric acid cycle,
  • meiosis,
  • mitochondria/electron transport,
  • mitosis,
  • pH,
  • photosynthesis: light reactions and dark reactions, and
  • water.
Additional multimedia presentations are also available at the web site. One in particular, the golden ratio presentation, could supplement mathematics or art instruction.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Rollyo... A Personal Search Engine

Do you have certain sites that you visit often when you’re looking for an idea or some information? Wouldn’t it be convenient to search all of them in one shot?

When I’m creating or modifying a teaching unit, there are a few sites that I like to check to see what they have to say about my topic. With Rollyo ( I can create a personal search engine (a.k.a. a Searchroll) that checks my list of sites. Although I can list up to 25 sites in a Searchroll, Rollyo recommends a list of 5 to 15 sites to work the most efficiently. Rollyo uses Yahoo as their search engine and Feedster to work with RSS results.

I have created two Searchrolls so far… one, a list of some favorite edublogs and the second, a list of some favorite teaching idea sites. If you go to Rollyo, you can find my Searchrolls—Teaching Ideas and My Edublog Search—in the Education category. At the Rollyo home page, click on Explore. Then type schiffbauer as the search keyword and click Go. The two Searchrolls that I have created will be listed. You can click on either one to use it or to edit it for your own use.

If you use the Firefox browser, you can add your Rollyo Searchroll to the Firefox toolbar with just a single click. I did that with mine. (See the diagram below.)

I can also explore, save, and personalize Searchrolls created by others. Once I change a Searchroll, the modified version is saved to my list of Searchrolls.

I can allow my students or colleagues to use a Searchroll I have created. Rollyo can provide a web address by which others can access my Searchroll.

What else can I do with Rollyo? The web site suggests the following…
  • add Rollyo to your Firefox toolbar
  • put a Rollyo Searchbox on your site
  • create Searchrolls with your bookmarks
  • send or directly link to a Searchroll
  • email a Searchroll to a friend or directly link to a Searchroll for bookmarking or use on your site or blog
  • search from any browser with their RollBar Bookmarklet
This is an easy-to-use tool that can help me be more efficient more quickly. How could you use Rollyo to make your searching go better?