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