Category Archives: Web 2.0

Ten Ways To Use Twitter

I do not use the Foursquare app so I do not check in and let everyone know where I am. For one thing, it would be boring.  The majority of my location tweets would read:  “Home reading or writing on my laptop”  repeatedly, well…obviously not much fun to read.  I don’t tweet a lot period.  My blog is set up so that a tweet appears when I post something new so if you lead as boring a lifestyle as I do, you can “follow” me and be alerted whenever there is a now post.

I use Twitter more as a headline perusal source.  Just this morning I found two new books I want to read,three articles on writing that I have bookmarked to read later today,  and a couple of writing prompts to help get the juices flowing for a new poem or story,  I also found a link to a Google docs template for creating a faux Facebook page for a famous person in history.  What a great way to use Facebook in education. Choose a literary character for English.  Insert a picture of your person, list four people they would have “friended”, make up two Facebook groups they would have joined.  Make up some wall posts they would have made.

My favorite session at TCEA was Four:Forty:140: Four Themes, Forty Ideas, 140 Characters with David Jakes and the biggest takeaway from the session has been rattling around in my brain (More on this later) – don’t let the tools drive education – ask your teachers what kinds of learning experiences they want their students to have and find the tools that will best serve that purpose.  I am a person who loves new and shiny, but this resonated with me and I will be looking at technology through that lens in the future.  Using Twitter and Facebook in education are examples of teacher-thinking and technology.  We forget that technology in education SHOULD exist to support the teacher – not the other way around.  I got off topic here, I know.  Twitter however, fits into my thinking.  It is a way to discover and to listen.  How often have you attended a staff development session where the predominant conversations were negative.  “Why do we have to do this?  I could be using this time to work on grades or lesson plans.  I don’t have time to fit this technology into my lesson.”

What if we could leverage the small bites that twitter puts out and do mini staff development by adding links, videos, short tips, news about what others are doing and how it is working?

Here are some reasons to use twitter.

1. Twitter is searchable.  Like any other search engine, you need to know what you are searching for and how to drill down to get it to tell you specifically what you are looking for.

2. Twitter is customizable – through the use of hashtags (#) you can either search for tweets that  involve a current subject or post a tweet that you wish to be included in a current subject to be found by others.  There is a decent article gives you a beginning understanding of the use of hashtags here

3. Twitter is fast.  Get in – get out.  Don’t have time to read long blog articles?  You can go down your twitter feed list and read quick blurbs and discover articles to read later, recommended by people you choose to follow. Twitter posts are limited to 140 characters and as you type, you will see a count.  When you pass the 140 count, it will show as a negative number.  Links can be shortened by going to websites like TinyUrl and then added without using your entire character limit. Just copy the URL of the link you wish to share.  go to TinyUrl and paste it into the long URL box.  Click Make TinyURL and copy the resulting short link to add to your post.  At a dinner one evening at TCEA a teacher was talking about elementary students coming to the computer lab and their teacher sending a link she wanted them to use.  Getting that long URL typed in correctly took up a large chunk or their lab time.  She is planning on utilizing TinyURL to help students get to preferred links faster and more easily. Simple solution to a problem that I might not have thought about had it not been for this random snippet of conversation. (Like a Tweet, only in the real world)

4. Twitter can be sent to your phone.  You can choose to have specific feeds sent to your phone.  I subscribe to a Twitter feed that comes from our media person at school so I get the results of sports events and emergency notifications.  Helpful for times when I am not online. The user determines which tweets they follow are sent to their phone and you can always choose to stop that piece so you are not locked in to having thousands of texts beeping at you every few seconds.

5. Twitter can be timely – you can search hast-tags and follow twitters temporarily that are specific to a current even or interest.  When you are no longer interested you can Choose to “unfollow” This morning as I scanned through my Twitter feed I found all kinds of tweets about TCEA and was able to get a hint of some of what I missed.  You can’t go to everything but you can hear about it later. (and before – I now wish I had been following a little closer before and during the conference.

6. Twitter gives you the power.  Like everything else on the web, there is spam.  You can get alerts when someone chooses to follow you and you can block and/or report spam.  I have had a few of these but it has not been a huge issue.  I think twitter followers are quick to deal with those folks.

7. Twitter is communal.  As you navigate the Twitter ocean, you join discussions and become part of a community that allows you to skim the surface or become more deeply involved according to your interests.  On your sidebar you will see a list of Twitter trends and suggestions of “Who to Follow”  You can pop in and “eavesdrop” on the conversations or you can participate by clicking “favorite” which will save it as a favorite post.  You can “Retweet” which passes on something you find interesting to people who are following you.  You can “Reply” and start a dialogue”

8. Twitter can improve your writing skills.  If you are like me and tend to be wordy – Twitter becomes an exercise in brevity.  There are some groups on twitter that post flash fiction.  Can you tell a story in 140 characters?

9. You can play games.  Here are links to a few but you can do a Google search and find more.

Twivia –  trivia questions via Twitter.  Twivia asks a question and the first person to @reply the answer gets points, specified in every Tweet. Twivia tweets the correct answers after someone gets it correct. You can even suggest questions to Twivia.

BeatMyTweet
– sends out word scrambles every hour.

10.   Twitter can keep you up on local news and weather.  More and more news sources have added share on Twitter buttons and you can “follow” to hear the latest weather alerts, traffic updates, and news headlines.

I hope you will share some ways that you have found to use Twitter.

Quick addition – I found a drag and drop “Share on Twitter” button.  Just drag the button from this web page to the bookmark bar in Firefox and you can quickly share a link to any web page, even if they don’t have a Share button of their own.  Just click the button when you are on a web page you want to share and it will create a short URl and add it as a twitter post.

Another quick addition – Great article!  15 Twitter Tips for Beginners

“A Daily Diary of Depression-Era Life, Told On Twitter”

I Twitter.  I admit it.  But I follow more than I actually tweet.  For those of you who have not been exposed to Twitter it is called a microblogging service.  You can post up to 140 characters.  You can follow other people who twitter so whenever they update their status you will see the post on your twitter homepage.  You can also set up your account so that you can update your status from your cell phone and you can also get updates from others you follow on your cell phone.  Useful and kind of fun but it just seems like one more thing to check and update online.  I don’t know about you, but my email/facebook/twitter/rss reader gets out of hand rapidly.

I recently found something to follow that gave me a glimpse of a different way to use Twitter.  Here is a link to the original site and if you twitter you can choose to follow.

The Social Path

Late last year, my family found a line-a-day diary maintained by my great-aunt from 1937 to 1941. She was in her early teens, living on a small farm in rural Illinois with her two brothers, one of which was my grandfather.

It’s a fascinating account of life in a bygone era, a time when my family’s only connections to the world were schoolhouse chatter and a neighbor’s radio.

Looking at the terse journal, my sister quipped, “This is the Twitter of the 1930s.” We glanced at each other and almost immediately began planning the Twitter account that would become Twitter.com/Genny_Spencer.

If you have run across any other diaries of this sort I would love to hear about it.  I can see this being a great creative venue as well.  Could a “diary” be created as a sort of stream of thoughts of a made of character?

If you are not into writing longer blog posts this might be a blogging outlet for you.  Have you run across creative uses for Twitter? Can you come up with some new  Twitter ideas?

Web 2.0 Panel – What’s Next TCEA09 Notes

So far this has been disappointing.  I even verbalized the question (that is actually the TITLE of the session) and no one is going there.  My question was, if it takes us a certain amount of time in education to move from the point of learning the mechanics of something new in technology primarily because we are being required to, to the point of it being second nature and totally infused in teaching – and if we are in transition with this Web 2.0 stuff; by the time it has actually become a total buy in, the technology will have moved on.  It’s fluid.  What will the technology look like at that point?  I was hoping the panel had some idea of where is was going.

So far it has mainly been explaining what it IS repeatedly, in more than one way, but still – a definition.

Some people have done the expected griping because they have so much blocked in their district.  One panel member is Bradley Kessler – Whyville.  He is knowledeable but also he is selling the concept of whyville (not in terms of money because it is free – though maybe he is angling for it to be officially adopted by school systems) which is not objectionable in itself.  It just isn’t what the title of the session makes you think it will be.

Patricia Schnee, Lead Trainer and Curriculum Coordinator, University of Texas Professional Development Center is also very knowledgeable and seems to be very forward thinking but is mainly concerned with how all this relates to business and employment.

How do we teach kids to be prepared for a world that doesn’t yet exist is my question.

Here are my notes – sorry for the editorial.

Web20panelwheredowegofromhere
patricai schnee
research – looking at web 2.0 in terms of what it means in the corporate world
bradleykessler
whyville put it in the classroom?
kids want a place – they want to create the structure
avatar based virtual world
using a pick your nose faciltiy in whyville make your own face
a week after launch they had a message from a kid that said their face parts were dumb
now there is a place where kids make the face parts and sell them
they run companies where they have employees who do marketing, graphic design – all around creating faceparts

Bill Jule? Jason Project
marco polo

patricia stats
confucious center
367 million are under the age of 18 – larger than pop of us
200 million student s between the age of 14 and 25
our tech and engineering superiority is in jeopardy
define web 2.0?
definition kessler
web 1 was largely a push operation = taking media and putting it on the web and pushing it to the users
web 2.0 is pull – rather that standing up in front of a classroom and pushing info – actually understanding classroom management and engaging students in such a way that they are pulling the info to them – teacheres now also managers, directors
learning styles change on evolution scale not generation scale
we finally have a tech device that will let us better match our learning process that we run as humans, because we can handle 2 prob – scalabiltiy – small group can influence large group
engagement
social piece – they can socialize, interact, create their own structures and media

audience – trying to get Spore integrated into curriculum – what is panel opinion of this progression

What about web 3.0 – by the time school adopt new technology the technolgy has usually moved on – where do you see us moving on to?

merck had some chemical probs and put it online 7% of the solutions came from people who didn’t have degrees – some from out of the country
now merck is disguising the problems so that they will be intriguing but not know what the whole problem is (gave too much info to competitors)

to teach science you need to be a process expert, not content expert

web 1.0 content – web 2.0 process
companies (media and textbook) have a problem with this because they are content pushers

printing press and university structure last major changes
that’s all that has been available

Gatekeeper, Tear Down Those Walls! TCEA09 Notes

Mr. Gatekeeper, Tear Down Those Walls!
Mary Bell
Sam Houston State University
http://forwhomthebelltold.pbwiki.com/
filtering
librarians and tech specialists need to be working together
Introduced Nancy Pearl librarian action filter
the original person one book one city
has amazing shush ability
cipa
children should be protected from pornography
does not say we should have any reflection of political views
or that students should be denied the right to search independently
high interest like games and sports – cipa does not say block or shopping
does not say teachers should be blocked from things administrators might not want them to do
passing the law was contingent upon ready and simple override capability

Survey using listserves and twitter
over 400 participates broken down by states
79 % understand web 2.0
aware of web 2.0 resources being used 59%
satisfied with access to internet and web 2.0 39%
some of the problems people comments about were bandwidth issues

Block using specific word lists
true 73%

reasons for blocking and filtering
student safety 81%
ebsco and other databases somethings blocked true 28%
filters apply equally to all levels true (and teachers
Who can override – IT most common answer
Reading blogs at school – 52% but the people who don’t know number has grown
create and particpate in blogs 38%
students and faculty having access to wikis
encouraged to use wikis 39%
access to social bookmarking 31%
access to wikipedia 97%
students are often discouraged even though they have access
google docs 63%  don’t know 36%
Blocked search tools – images
youtube not blocked 52%
Course management systems 38% used
students have access to email
access to second life at school
access to educational game sites allowed
acceptable use policy up to date and addresses web 2.0
true 27% false 49% no idea 24%
district admin are tech savvy and encourage tech and web 2.0
trues 31%
http://hweimar.wikispaces.com
http://forwhomthebelltold.pbwiki.com/

Addendum

Mary Bell was king enough to send me a link to information about CIPA so if you are interested in finding out more about what this law says you will find what you need here:

http://www.ala.org/aaslTemplate.cfm?Section=cipaandschoollib

Race Into Production TCEA09 Notes

Race Into Production
Jodi Andoe and Abby Rogers PISD
http://t4.jordandistirct.org/payattention
www whatever whenever wherever
teachers moving from dog and pony show to full fledged three ring circus with the teacher – not as the main act, but as the ringmaster
kids love to be center stage
ipods cameras phones
friend or foe?
combining what students have and what teachers have and making it work in the classroom
combine student interests and content for curriculum
provide students with info on available tools for multimedia
student engagement
reflection for deep learning
project based learning
effective integration of technology into instruction
differentiated instruction
centers, tiered lesson plans
advances photography and multimedia all the way down to basic ppt
works with all levels
critical thinking skills
technology TEKS
engages students
their minds wrapped around out content in a way they want to think about it
improved test scores
letting the students touch the learning
gather ideas – don’t re-invent the wheel
take tried and true projects and add a multimedia option to it
determine student needs and find their resources and skills
set timetable for completion
gather resources and hardware
what do you get when you mix CSCOPE Performance indicator’
students had a psp player, iPod, science closet, audacity, photostory movie maker and wax – made a rap video on global warming

used rubric that was in cscope and applied to multimedia project
what is the concept you want them to learn
rubric attributes
point of view
content
resources
curriculum alignment
organization
student cooperation
camera and images
titles and credits
sound
language
pacing and narrative
transitions and effects

make sure criteria is set beforehand and use the ribric
should be expressed in terms of observable product characteristics
scoring rubrics should be written in specific and clear language
statement of criteria must be fair and free from bias

green screen – green sheet from walmart taped to classroom wall
let kids teach you

audacity, wax 2.0 blender freeplaymusic photostory animoto
wax works with moviemaker and others
freeplaymusic – if burned to dvd becomes a copyright issue
animoto free 30 second video creation – can subscribe 19.00 year and get longer time and more options
handout includes cheatsheet of useful web 2.0 sites and free or opensource software

handouts will be available later on the TCEA site – I will post the link when it becomes available

Links To Visit

This is the coolest online image application I have seen.  It is called Sumo Paint and has a ton of features!  There are layers, gradients, shapes, brushes, and blend modes.  I played with it for about three minutes and made a little picture (nothing fancy, I know)

justforfun.jpg

If you are in a more serious mood and if you Twitter you might consider in taking part tonight in fact checking during the vice-presidential debate.  NPR is asking that you watch and whenever you hear something that you think contradicts what you have already heard, see if you can find a transcript or video that backs it up and the same thing when a statistic is quoted – try to find the original source.  Twitter your finding with the tag #factcheck in your tweet.
Amazing – NPR will have people all over the country doing their preliminary research for them.  To me this is the interactive internet at it’s best.   What a way to get people involved.  I wish I had seen this sooner.  It would have been fun to have a twitter/debate party!  There is still time – if you have wireless and some friends with laptops get together and participate!

Getting Things Done and Organized With Google Spreadsheets and Forms

Example of a Google Docs spreadsheet PDA

  • Create a new spreadsheet
  • Create headers across the top – you can format the text and background color if you like.
  • I used Subject, Date, Notes, Details
  • At the bottom of the screen you will see a tab for the sheet you are working on..  If you click it you have several editing choices, including delete, duplicate, rename, and move right or left.  For now you might want to rename it work.
  • Now click again and duplicate it (I did this twice) You now have three sheets with the same headers and you can now click on and rename the other two sheets.  I have named my sheets Work, Home, Ideas.
  • Now here is where it gets fun
  • You could just enter information directly into the spreadsheet but with Google Docs you can create a form that will make it easier to quickly enter data and have it automatically update in the spreadsheet.
  • We will create a separate form for each sheet and show you how you can use those links to populate your spreadsheet PDA
  • Click on the tab for one of the sheets so you will have that sheet open.
  • You should see a row of light blue tabs across the top of the document – click the tab for Form
  • Click create a form
  • A new page will open with your form already created according to the column headers you used in your spreadsheet.
  • As you move your mouse cursor over each field in your form you will see that you can edit that individual field, you can move it, you can even add or delete questions.  Just remember that what you do on the form will be reflected on the spreadsheet.  If you delete a field it will no longer exist on the spreadsheet either.  A good rule of thumb is that the form is “the boss” of the spreadsheet.
  • Now choose “next choose recipients”  You can put in your own email address and if you look on the right you will see a note saying that if you have trouble viewing or submitting this form, you can fill it out online and there will be a link.  This is the link you want to save as a shortcut on your desktop.  You can change the name of the link to make it easier to find.  On a PC you will right click on the shortcut and choose rename.  If you use something like @Home the @ sign will cause it to be near the top if you arrange you icons in alphabetical order.  On a Mac you will control-click the shortcut and choose info. There will be a field where you can change the name.


This would work for a student organizer – just change the column headings to something like assignment, due date, teacher/professor, class period, notes/resources. 

A couple of modifications and you can share and collaborate so now you have an online project management system.

You can also click publish – this gives you an embeddable link and an RSS feed so you can subscribe to your own list.
Choose more publishing options and click in the drop down box and choose HTML to embed in a webpage.  You can also choose which sheets and even which cells to show.  The will generate some HTML that you can paste into your blog.  Pay attention to the sizes shown in the HTML.  If you paste it and find it is bigger than the space provided in the webpage you can usually adjust those numbers to make it fit.

I hope this is useful to you!

I have only included a form that adds information to one sheet.

Addendum: I cannot get the embedded form to work.  I can use the form I created from my desktop or via my email so for the time being look at the above images as screenshots and don’t be afraid to follow the steps to create one to play with yourself.

JotSpot Has Been Relaunched As Google Sites

I will go play this evening and post about it tomorrow!

Greetings!

We’re contacting everyone who’s expressed interest in learning of
JotSpot registration re-openings on the JotSpot website. And
today, we’re excited to announce that JotSpot is working on Google
infrastructure and has been re-launched as Google Sites.

Google Sites is the latest offering from Google Apps, a suite of
products designed to improve communication and collaboration
amongst employees, students, and groups. Google Sites makes
creating a team web site as easy as editing a document. You can
quickly gather a variety of information in one place — including
videos, calendars, presentations, attachments, and gadgets — and
easily share it for viewing or editing with a small group, their
entire organization, or the world.

To get started with Google Sites, you’ll first need to sign up for
the Google Apps edition that’s right for you (if you’re not
already a Google Apps user). Start the sign-up process at:

http://sites.google.com

Sincerely,

The Google Apps Team
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043

Below is an example of a classroom page created in Google sites. You can customize, use their templates, upload up to 10 mb files with 10 gb of storage. Since Google sites is integrated with other google products you can embed slideshows, video, spreadsheets and calendars into you page. One more piece of the Google World Dominance plan!
googlesiteseg.jpg

TCEA 2008 Let’s Go on a Writing Safari! Paula Alsup and Missi Downs

I didn’t get to attend this presentation – it was one of those time-slots when I needed a few clones to attend several sessions at the same time. Through the magic of technology I can still hear and “see” the presentation! After “attending” online I am very excited about the real event!

If you will go to Mrs. Alsup’s web presence there is a link on the sidebar to 2008 TCEA Presentation which will let you download the entire PowerPoint. You can view the PowerPoint and listen to the presentation at the same time -there is also a Podcast online – just click this link and put on your headphones – the Podcast lasts about 40 minutes. Writing Safari Podcast

Three Words

This post has two purposes. I am trying out a plugin that lets me finally embed youtube videos here. I also want to share this video as a great idea for a class project. It could be themed according to any subject and filmed in pieces at different times and then put together later.

Three Words
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qO0jovLVPA8&feature=related

If you do a YouTube search on Three Words you will find many versions and each as some very creative and powerful segments.

thanks to Mark Ghosh for the embedify plugin that allowed me to finally embed the video!!

Keeping Up with the Googlebots: What’s New at Google (Patrick Crispen) 8940

If you go to TCEA 2008 and click on Sessions and Workshops, list free sessions you will see the entire list and the session I attend will have the session number in the post as well.  You will be able to look for handouts there in a few weeks.

I like Patrick Crispen’s presenting style.  He starts on time, tells you what he will cover, moves through the presentation like an east Texas wind.  Before you know it he is saying we have to hurry because there are only three minutes left, ties is all up and sends you out as the next group comes in.  He must have an incredible amount of energy or sleep for a week after a conference like this.

His website is NetSquirrel and if you go there and click on PowerPoint Presentations on the side you will have access to all his handouts.  They are licensed under Creative Commons (he was the first person I heard even mention Creative Commons yesterday) so you are free to download his material. The presentation for this session will be udated in a few days.
Some new things I learned yesterday:

  • Google free business directory assistance 1 – 800 – 466 – 4411
    • Voice, directions, maps on your cell phone.  Google wants to do voice search – this is there start at getting voices saying words
  • Google Notebook now datestamps your entries
  • Google.com/educators has added discovery videos

This morning I found a new little snippet in my reader about Google docs – they have added a new little tool. When you share a spreadsheet you now have three choices – collaborator, viewer, and now “to fill out a form”. You can create a form in Google spreadsheets, share it with people and as they respond to the form, the data is automatically added to your spreadsheet.

TCEA 2008

tcea08.jpgNext week I am planning on attending TCEA 2008 in Austin. Dale is doing well and I will be a cell phone call away. I am looking forward to learning some new things and meeting some folks that I have till now known only through blogging.

I plan, as I did last year, to blog my notes. If you do not blog and are going to be attending this year from PISD, I would love to have you as a “guest blogger”! Just let me know if you are interested and we can arrange for your notes/reflections on the conference to appear as a guest post by you to share with the rest of the district.

If you are a blogger I have a few tips for you. Take good notes making sure you have the session name, presenter name, and school district if applicable. Check out HitchHikr – a site that will aggregate posts that are tagged for specific conferences. There is no tag yet so you might want to check back – it will be something like TCEA08. If you tag our post with the HitchHikr tag it will make it easier for people who didn’t attend the same sessions to find your notes. As conference attendees start posting and tagging, the posts will show up on the HitchHikr site and there will be an RSS link so you can subscribe if you like and read other posts. This is a great way for all of us to get the most out of the conference and share the information with folks in the district who couldn’t attend.

There is a great post at Lunch Over IP on tips for conference blogging with links to other articles if you are interested in reading more about this. They have even created a PDF booklet you can download. There are two versions and I have included one here.

conferenceblogging_zuckerman-giussani_A4_color_booklet.pdf

Stop by Lunch Over IP blog and leave a thank you comment if you find this useful. I’m excited about the conference and can’t wait to tell you all about it!

Also posted at My school blog – PHS Computer Project Lab

Teachers Make Technology Work For Them

I love Google Earth – to me it has this magic carpet feel to it. I can visit anywhere on earth in moments and often when I get there I will find that someone has taken photos of interesting sites there or I can add overlays that tell me everything there is to know about the area. I’m a Google fan anyway.

Right now a friend of mine and I are making some slides for a praise service using Google docs. I type or copy and paste lyrics onto slides and then “share” with him (which sends him an email with a click-able link to the presentation) which he then adds a background to and maybe tweaks the text a bit. When he is through he shares it back with me. We can work on it at different times, in different places and even add collaborators if we want. The slides can be downloaded and used in Powerpoint, Keynote, OpenOffice Impress, and even SlideShare.

I have not been so in love with Twitter. Twitter is an application that lets you constantly add a few words about what you are doing at the moment. I see how it might have it’s uses (sort of) for people who have a shared interest but mine would bore people to tears. Maybe I could make it a paid subscription for insomniacs? I signed up for a free account trying to see if I could “get it”. I have even subscribed via RSS to several of my favorite education/technology/blogger “tweets”

This morning I read how several teachers are using it and was once again reminded of how creative and resourceful teachers are.

Langwitches have started a Teachable Moments Shoutout Twitter account that you can that you can subscribe to and if you have a Twitter account you can join in. You can help other teachers with teachable moment ideas or get help yourself. If you are not familiar with Twitter, this does not mean a huge lesson plan with rubrics and worksheets – these are short messages. You can even subscribe via cell phone and get “tweets” as text messages. If you are curious you can find out more on the Twitter FAQ page or the Twitter Lingo/Help page.

This Shoutout idea was inspired by Tom Barrett and his use of Google Earth and Twitter. Tom got his Twitter network people to participate in his students’ Google Earth lesson. The students had to find these people based on a few clues on Twitter.

I asked my network to challenge the children to find them in Google Earth, to search and discover their location from a few scraps of info via Twitter. Well the challenges rolled in and in a couple of hours we had 25 different people to track down.

Some of the Tweets were longitude and latitude. Others were addresses or well-known geographical sites. As the students found the locations the sent back messages via twitter to let them know they had been found. The students got experience searching and using the different layers and even the three-D buildings feature. Because they had a real purpose the focus of the class became finding real people in real places and the technology became the tool instead of the lesson.

When I was in elementary school I had a Japanese PenPal. That was our Web 2.0.

MySpace Layout

My daughter has been learning Photoshop and has been playing with creating MySpace layouts. I like what she has done so far and thought I would post an example here.

JMdancelayout.jpg

These are screenshots. She hasn’t learned the preview trick yet.

JMdancelayout2.jpg

If you would like to try it out here is the text file containing the code to copy into your profile.

JMdance.txt

Give us a comment if you like it or have a problem – we’d love to hear from you.

Skype!

skypeicon.jpg The synapses connected for a minute this evening and I realized that if I get a webcam for our pc then we can talk to the kids via Skype. My daughter downloaded it and called me. Even though she couldn’t speak since there is currently no microphone hooked up, she was able to see me on her screen. She made the view full screen and I could see myself across the room on the pc screen. It was a little weird but it worked wonderfully. She is so excited that she will be able to video chat with us. I know it will help if the kids can actually “lay eyes” on their dad and it will help us if we can actually “lay eyes” on them! Now we will have to try even harder to find places that have internet access over there!

Addendum: went to wally world this morning and got a webcam.  It all works well from one end of our house to the other so we will try when we are in Dallas.  I am pretty confident that Skype will work – I’m just concerned about access.  More on this later.

Resources For Storytelling – Digital or Non

Cross posted at PHS Computer Project Lab
I started out searching for how writing is taught so that in the future I might be a better commenter. I found some wonderful resources and I’m going to share them here before they disappear into bookmark oblivion.

The first is from the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory and is called 6+ 1 Trait Writing.

The 6+1 Trait Writing framework is a powerful way to learn and use a common language to refer to characteristics of writing as well as create a common vision of what ‘good’ writing looks like. Teachers and students can use the 6+1 Trait model to pinpoint areas of strength and weakness as they continue to focus on improved writing.

There are lesson plans, assessment, prompts and more. There is more on this at The Writing Fix and at eMints which has a huge list of links that even include classroom posters you can print out.

The next treasure is The Scribe Initiative which is a wiki of the San Antonio School system dedicated to digital storytelling. There is an incredible wealth of resources here including links to open source software for editing audio, tutorials for using MovieMaker and PhotoStory, sources for images and sounds and much more. If you want to take your student’s writing digital this is a great place to start.

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“How do I know what I think until I see what I say?
E. M. Forster

New Bloggers!

We have some students who are blogging and I have started visiting their blogs to leave comments and encourage them. This is so exciting to see! I know that this is not a new thing in some districts but for us it is brand new and I feel like I have had a tiny bit of influence here. I don’t teach these students – I’m not even on the same campus. I was one of the first bloggers in our district and I have been an advocate so I feel a little like a proud mama or at least great aunt. I hope they find a new way to express themselves, a new way to communicate with each other, and new ways to find the common ground that connects us to each other as members of the human race. Then again, maybe all that will happen is their grammar and spelling will improve because they realize other people are reading what they write. I’m betting on the former.

Creating A StoryMap Lesson

I love maps. I love pretty colored maps, antique world maps, globes that light up, all of them are just cool eye candy to me. Here is a great project idea for using google maps. “Find a Story… Map a Story… Tell a Story…

You will find an example of a story map, a rubric, and step by step instructions.

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Notice the little markers. You can hover on them and get a title or click them and get more information:

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There are links to tutorials for CommunityWalk , GoogleMaps and Wayfaring

“In the description area of the marker, write your memory of that location. Hint: It would be helpful to write your memory on a Word document first so that you can check for spelling. Remember- this is a story so your description should be more than “This is the park in my neighborhood“. Tell your readers what happened at the park- this step is the most important part of the project. Without interesting vignettes, the project will just be a about pictures and markers.”

You will want to have pictures of real places on the map to upload for your markers. This could be the actual neighborhood your students live in. You could make maps with markers for the travels of a character in a story or any historically significant area. Students could use a database to map the spread of a disease or they could map their family tree.