Category Archives: Web 2.0

Blogging For The Environment

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day Today is Blog Action Day, and thousands of bloggers will be posting about the environment. I’ve been thinking about the past, present and future. My grandmother grew up in a family of 14 in Scotland and moved to Canada at a fairly young age. she raised her family with a war and a depression. She had an entirely different perspective on the world than I do. I remember these things that she used to do. She saved scraps of bar soap and those net bags that onions come in. When she got enough slivers of soap she would make a little bag out of the netting and sew it up with the soap inside. That was a pot scrubber.She baked and when she made pies, there would be some pie dough left that was trimmed from around the pan. She would either roll that into strips and brush with cinnamon and sugar or she would roll it with currants (sort of like raisins) and make little tarts.

My grandmother knit. I still have a copy of the original sock pattern that was the official pattern from the red cross to knit socks for soldiers. I managed to knit one sock and lost patience. She knit many socks and sweaters. She would take scraps of left over yarn and knit strips about two inches wide. She would just keep adding on new pieces of yarn so she would end up with a long multicolored strip of knitting. She then sewed this into a tube which was stuffed with cotton and then coiled and sewn together to make a pad for a wooden chair

Nothing was wasted, you made things, made do, re-made, patched. Now we work hard away from home so we can afford things to throw away. Recycling doesn’t always have to be about re-manufacturing. I think we need to have more conversations with our grandparents.

I was better about recycling when I was a stay-at-home mom. I had more time and less money! I made a lot of my own baby food. I discovered that you could cook vegetables and then line a cookie sheet with waxed paper and drop “plops” on it and freeze them. You can then put the “plops” in a freezer bag and take out what you need. We had a vegetable garden and I sewed a lot when the kids were little. I made playdough, and I used a roll cardboard that was a “second” being discarded by a factory in the area to cover the kitchen table for the kids to finger paint.

Now we have paper towels, disposable everything, even automobiles are manufactured to have a shelf life. My grandmother was greener than I am.

I’m going to make an effort to do better. We already added insulation in the attic to help on the electric bill and I am slowing replacing light bulbs with the CFL bulbs. We bought cloth grocery bags to try to cut down on the plastic bag waste. We replaced old faucets that dripped and we have plans to replace some appliances with newer, more energy efficient models but that will happen as we can afford it.

I’m going to use some of the hints from the Green Geek and make adjustments on my computer as far as turning off the screensaver and other energy saving computer tips! I’m also going to research ways to save water since our water bills have gotten outrageous, and that even though we buy bottled to drink and cook with because the taste of the water locally is so bad at certain times of the year.

Overheard In A Teacher Chat!

I am amazed, amused, and awed!

  • “I got my truck stuck in a Blog
  • He looks naked without a Starbucks cup next to him.
  • What system is Halo on?
  • Halo who?
  • does the audio sound like…chipmunks to anyone else?
  • the minds of our school board members are boundaries
  • their boundaries are in their minds
  • …..and in our firewalls
  • I think we are sometimes our own limiting boundaries!
  • I can’t search google images or right click!!!
  • The IT department often are boundaries
  • I think his point today about needing to create and define new boundaries given the “loss of boundaries” was an important statement
  • my boundaries are clear and blocked
  • Ignorance is a boundary… must educate more teachers!
  • networks are our information
  • traditional school has focused on information, but david is right, the focus on OVERWHELMING quantities of info is new
  • remind me to thank my district IT guys tomorrow…despite our differences in vision, they are nowhere near as obstructionist as what I am reading here…
  • We discussed the value of YouTube for education at school today.
  • I can act individually with information but its nowhere near the experience if I work with that same information in a network of people.
  • Policy’s simply need to be more accomodating. Things don’t move in 5 year plans anymore.
  • we just rewrote our tech plan around ideas instead of tasks
  • who will decide the content?
  • they can’t make decisions ahead of the changes
  • Kids may not all be more information literate but they are actively engaged in social networking. That’s why I think David said we need to provide the traction and learning to help them learn to teach themselves.
  • intellectual capital will be the value
  • that point David is addressing is the ATTENTION ECONOMY
  • relearn, unlearn & Learn
  • Our IS department was pointing out that their own jobs are now 24/7
  • Educators can’t be afraid to right/click
  • creativity almost entirely defies traditional measurement methods
  • Hard to assess W 2.0 using AD 1950 multiple choice
  • we can each recognize creativity, but we can’t put that in a bar chart in the same way we can with test scores
  • opportunities to fail and learn
  • How do we emphasize balance video games with real world experiences?
  • I think a big part of having a learning engine in the classroom is writing hyperlinked texts
  • effectively writing hyperlinked texts is a measurable outcome of the learning engine classroom
  • digital doppler
  • I’m a proponent of gaming, but balance is so important
  • Something wrong with my kids, they don’t like gaming
  • I’m TOTALLY unbalanced, but I love it (though I need to exercise more than my mouse-finger)
  • they have treadmills with computers built in to the front now.
  • We had some success with getting them to participate in gym class by using DDR.
  • Wii rocks!
  • i think “digital discipline” is a good term in this context. we all need it. balance fits in there too.
  • DDR is a blast
  • I think we all strive to have some “grounding” with the flexibility to fly a bit (or more)!
  • Heard a discussion on ReadingTeacher this week where they said balanced doesn’t mean equal time for everything (as in balanced literacy).
  • if you ban it, kids never learn to balance their lives. We have to let them fail. That’s where lessons are learned
  • how do we bring down the walled garden at school?
  • I think the best advice is to throw out the textbooks
  • I still see way too many teachers thinking integration is focusing on the technoogy instead of the content…
  • I’m launching a year-long classroom blogging unit (major overhaul from last year) – key elements: they claim their blogs on Technorati, they link to at least one blogger from the real world that they admire, they blog about what THEY’re interested in (within limits), and their goal is to grow readership network and extend self-directed learning.
  • if only we had time to learn with the kids – partners
  • I’m finishing a degree in assistive technology, and I signed up for a lab class this semester that has no lab… its all lecture
  • it’s because librarians don’t get enough partnership with teachers!!
  • so the teacher becomes the affective filter
  • The teacher is the model – not the information giver
  • I’m finding that it’s really tough to move students beyond the “consume and remix” stage in information processing. They love the creative aspect of playing with the tools, but to many the tools are more important than the message. I’d like students to take the time to “digest” the info and build it into an existing framework, or better yet, make a case for revamping the framework – then creatively communicate the learning.”


For more on filtering there is a very thought provoking article on Doug Johnson’s blog.

(posted on my school blog)

K12 Online Fireside Chat and More

Today was just a day but wow – exhausting, frustrating, exciting, enlightening. I was busy all day because grades were due to be exported and it was taken a little more seriously than the three weeks progress reports so there were a few problems to be ironed out underlining the value of that first export. Troubleshooting that should have been done happened today when we were under the gun.

The day that seemed to not end did and I came home and ate supper while I signed in to Elluminate for the K12 Online Conference Fireside Chat with David Warlick. This was my first experience with Elluminate which is a fee based meeting software package that donates the space to the K12 Online Conference. There are multiple windows. On the far left is a window that contains first a picture of an old-fashioned microphone, To speak you click on the picture and then click again when you are done. There is a hand icon that you can click to virtually raise your hand. There are emoticons and as people enter the session the list of names grows and automatically adjusts to remain in alphabetical order. There is a running tally of how many people are in the session. When things got going there were 105 people from all over. Mostly from the U.S. but some from other parts of the globe as well including Sudan, Seoul, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Scotland Click the thumbnail to see a screenshot.


There was a white board and video and as the session went on, questions were asked on the white board as a rapid, unending discussion by the attendees. I went crazy trying to concentrate on what David was saying as well as keeping up with the “stream of consciousness” instant messaging. I managed to speak a bit when we were divided into separate rooms at the beginning and I was able to text once or twice but by the time I could type a question the conversation would have changed. There was serious energy. These folks are jumping in the deep end of the pool and splashing for all they are worth. They are calling out to the rest of us to tell us to come on in – the water is fine. Some of us are dipping a toe in and shivering, some are paddling around with nose plugs and life preservers. Some of us are sitting it out and some are underwater with flippers and scuba gear.

There was a 14 year old student in the session and the possibility of adding a student strand next year was mentioned.

My favorite quote was ” become the guide on the side not the sage on the stage”.

I watched the keynote by David Warlick this morning and I’ll blog about it later. I want to let it marinate a bit but it was awesome. It is well worth the time – if you right-click and save link as you will have a copy of it to view whenever you have time. – which is the beauty of an online conference!

K12 Online Conference Connections

One of the things that I have learned about conferences that are related to technology is that bloggers will write about them. The presentations begin conversations that continue throughout the blogosphere and even when the conference or event is not an online conference people who are not present can participate. If you want to have a way to keep up with those conversations on the K12Online conference here is a tip.

Go to technorati and in the search box put k12online. You will see a list of feeds of all the blog articles about the conference. There will also be the little orange RSS button you can click to subscribe. You can then choose from several – blogline and google are two of the choices. Subscribe in the reader of your choice and throughout the conference, blog articles that reference this conference will show up in your feeds.

You can also look here and here – David Warlick has set up a wiki for the conference.  You can also check out the hitchikr site.

K12 Online Conference!

It will be here any minute!! well pre-conference starts October 8

3 Reasons Meme

Three reasons to participate based on my experience from last year!

1. It is staff development the way I like it – at home, in my jammies, with a cup of decaf latte.

2. No Crowds! No driving! No hotels! No airports! (yes I know – technically that’s four – so sue me)

3. You can go back and review the sessions at anytime (unlike virtual conferences where you have to get everything you can right then because when its over, it’s over)

Ya’ll come!

Links For Education

As I write this post I am listening to a podcast found at There are sections on biographies, great speeches in history, Literary summaries, founding documents in audio form, free audio book of the month, art history, all categorized and subscribeable.

There is a section on test taking. You can wander through a very large online catalog of subjects to integrated podcasts into your classroom.

Here is a great article with an interesting way to talk about internet safety with students. Instead of giving them a list of “don’ts” here you can find a list of questions to open up a discussion with them. One of my favorite questions was:

If people were to Google you, what conclusions would they make?

Students can take online quizzes that look more like games but are tagged according to quiz subject matter at PurposeGames. Creating an account is optional but if you do you can see your score history. You can also create quizzes if there are none that fit your needs.

Another link for today is VoiceThread. You can upload pictures, record audio and create a multimedia show and tell online presentation. There are plenty of examples and instructions to make the process pretty painless. Even if you are not planning on creating one of your own it is very interesting to play some of the examples!

I finish with another podcast link – I’m listening to Thomas Friedman lecturing at the Sydney Institute after dinner on The Flat World. This podcast is nearly an hour long so I would plan on listening to it on a car trip or load it on your mp3 player and exercise your brain while you are at the walking track exercising your body!

I had to add one more link. Thanks to Dan Meyer for this one – the site is called Mango and you can sign up for free to learn languages. I spent a short time today learn a little Japanese. It was fun and painless! The site includes Chinese, Japanese, Russian, German, Englich for Spanish speakers and more! Arigatou (Thank you!)

TaDa! Google Presentation – Finally!

Google has finally rolled out their presentation piece. Here is a screenshot of the main page when you click new presentation. It’s big so click on the thumbnail and you can see it full size in Flickr.


I tried to embed but so far I see no way to do that so here is the link: BrandNew

Interesting – I tried this and while you are at the document you must click Preview before the link will work to send you back to the presentation.

The presentation describes the application for the most part. It is easy to use and if you are looking for a tool to share a basic presentation online without a lot of bells and whistles but also without a huge expense then Google presentation will work fine. I have linked to a text document created in Google to see how the two could be used together.

The links worked for me in practice and I am going to assume you can do the same with the spreadsheet piece so it is possible to integrate the applications. That could be a great tool and an answer for students who need the basics.
I hope that Google will add some more features later and will be watching to see.

Update and Link To A Web Application

It has been a long day. I attended a UIL conference today and am planning on coaching Computer Applications this year. I found that there is still much I need to learn! If anyone out there has any helpful hints and suggestions I am all ears and eyes!
My blog has a non-theme right now because I am still trying to resolve my theme issues so please be patient – I hope to have things cleaned up soon.

In the meantime check out ANIMOTO ! You need to sign up for an account and as an unusual way to request that you create an account the question is asked why? The answer – because Steven Seagal did. OK, that was different and so is the rest of the site. I created a short video in moments using some images I had on Flickr and Animoto’s music. I would have preferred some more music style choices but hey it was quick and free. It’s look reminds me of some of the applications for the Mac and I am hoping that Google pays attention as they get ready to roll out their presentation piece. This is a very pretty and easy to use application!

Matching Classes With Real World Experts

I stumbled across a wiki called FieldFindr. The wiki is a mock-up of a website that would help match a class or class project with a real world expert in the related field.
The wiki was created by blogger David Truss after he posted on his blog about the idea.

Fieldfindr: A space where teachers can meet global citizens who have skills that they are willing to contribute to a class.”

Some of the comments on his post were concerns about how to validate the person’s credentials and how to protect the students. I hope someone can address those issues and run with this. The blog article was posted back in February so no one has jumped in but I can see a lot of value in this. We already do some of this within our community and maybe this is a project that would be best tied to a community portal. It would be easier to monitor and because of geographical proximity allow for the person to actually visit the class.

My Favorite Ways To Use

This is a cross post from my school blog but it really is one of my favorite tools so I wanted to share it here too.
While teaching a blogging class the other day I was explaining about feed readers and I showed some teachers and how you could actually have feeds set up to work for you. An example would be to type in a URL like this: then look at the bottom of the page for the orange RSS button. If you right click on it and go to properties you can copy the link into your news aggregator (feed reader) and as people add links to their accounts tagged scotland, you will see those links as a feed. You can also do the same thing but add another criteria to the search you can narrow down the search to items tagged scotland and history.If I wanted to keep up with what sites are popular on a particular subject I could type and this would generate the most popular links tagged on for scotland.

You can do the same thing with people instead of tags. If you have someone who is in your “circle of learning” you can subscribe to their tags (unless they have designated them private).

These and other tips can be found at if you would like to read more.

Technology Integration Day

My feet hurt – they are propped up and will stay that way until I go to bed. Tomorrow will be busy as everyone will be working in their rooms and they will be looking for me to solve all the minor glitches with their computers.

Today was Technology Integration Day and I did my Web 2.0 Presentation. I think it went well even though I threw a lot at them in a short time. I managed to cover everything I wanted to though I had hoped that there would be time for them to play online a bit. We finished right on time and despite my not being 100% physically and being totally distracted lately I’m reasonable satisfied with the whole thing. I had planned on WOW rather than reasonably satisfied but maybe I can build on this and work my way up to WOW!

I woke up last night from a dream where I found myself in front of a room full of people waiting for me to present and I opened my mouth and completely forgot why I was there. At least it wasn’t that bad!

I’m Still Here – Really (And Some Hints)

I am working on learning to create a WordPress theme and I am making progress but slowly! I have gotten to the part where I have to verify my code and I have managed to get down to four errors from eighteen so I’m getting there. I evidently have a few things open that need to be closed but my eyes are crossed and I can’t seem to find them tonight.

Part of me wants to go ahead and move on to the fun part but I know I need to get this part right or I will have problems later. I have typed the entire thing twice just to makes sure there were no typos and I think it was good for me because it is making a little more sense. I still can’t always follow the flow and I feel like that is what I need to understand so I can tell where these tags need to close.

Sometimes if I just put something like this aside for a bit and let it percolate I can come back with a fresh eye and do better so I’m going to shift gears for a bit.

While teaching a blogging class the other day I was explaining about feed readers and I showed some teachers and how you could actually have feeds set up to work for you. An example would be to type in a URL like this: then look at the bottom of the page for the orange RSS button. If you right click on it and go to properties you can copy the link into your news aggregator (feed reader) and as people add links to their accounts tagged scotland, you will see those links as a feed. You can also do the same thing but add another criteria to the search you can narrow down the search to items tagged scotland and history.

If I wanted to keep up with what sites are popular on a particular subject I could type and this would generate the most popular links tagged on for scotland.

You can do the same thing with people instead of tags. If you have someone who is in your “circle of learning” you can subscribe to their tags (unless they have designated them private).

These and other tips can be found at if you would like to read more.

Just an Update

It rained this morning. This has not been an unusual occurrence in Texas this summer but this morning we got a little over three inches in a very short amount of time. There was street flooding all over including the drive into the school where I was supposed to meet for a class. It didn’t make any difference that the little entry road was flooded because the power was out too.

A house just a few streets over caught fire. There had been one of those cracks of thunder that shook so hard you could feel it in your chest and it came almost simultaneously with a lightning strike and I would be willing to bet that is what caught the house on fire. We were running around looking out of the windows trying to see where it struck because we knew it was close. It blew up my answering machine.

There is more rain predicted for tomorrow….

My friend B.J. is one the road again. He has been to two of my favorite places – Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs.


Another one is Rocky Mountain National Park where the chipmunks are so used to people that they will come up and beg for food.


He was at Mt. Rushmore and hasn’t uploaded those pics yet but I will be watching for them.

You can see more of his travel pictures and some wonderful local ones on Flickr.

I spent a lot of time today installing xampp and WordPress on my computer so I could work on an online tutorial for creating themes for WordPress. The tutorial can be found here at WPDesigner and I finally have at least the basics of a title, post titles, content, and header information. I also got a little help from Geeks Are Sexy and both sites were tremendously helpful. It never ceases to amaze me how generous people are on the internet with their knowledge. Both these websites had to have taken hours and hours of work and yet the information is shared freely and extra help is given in the comments sections.

I hope to create a new theme for this blog and maybe some more. I like doing the “pretty stuff” as far as images and colors – what I’m learning right now is the nuts and bolts of how to get everything to go where it belongs!

Goodnight B.J. and Colby somewhere in South Dakota – see you soon !

Are We There Yet Blogging Style!

We had our second blogging class today. I have three more classes to go this month and so far at least 6 brand new bloggers out there. I hope I am teaching them what they need to get started – but here is what they do NOT know:

The new bloggers don’t know that I am sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for them to post, excited about new voices in the blogosphere.

They don’t know that I will come to their school, meet them at the local coffee shop, whatever it takes to help them get comfortable with their blogs.

They don’t know how excited I am to have new friends blogging!
They don’t know how much FUN it can be!

They don’t know that if they give it time they may find themselves traveling some surprising paths because of who they “meet” and what they learn.

Welcome to the world new bloggers! As soon as you are ready I’ll add links to your blogs to my blogroll here. In the meantime – I’ll try to be patient and not peek.

Flickr Goodies

I’ve seen some interesting new things on Flickr this week and decided to consolidate the links in one post. I love Flickr and they just seem to get better and better.
Alan Levine has a post on a new “toy” SlideFlickr which allows you to quickly and easily create a slideshow from a flickr set. Lawrence Lessig has an interesting article on Web 2.0 Ethics and “sharing sites” comparing Flickr which makes it easy to download images and Youtube which does NOT. He discusses some other sharing sites and made me think about the subject of sharing and which sites actually embody the concept and which ones just ride along on the bandwagon. Definite food for thought.

If you haven’t visited Flickr:Creative Commons yet you are missing out. The first page defines the type of creative commons licenses you will run up against and then you can search photos and use them for non-commercial things (like your student’s project!!) without the copyright violation issues.

The last one for today is just gorgeous. I could just sit here and click and feed myself eyecandy. It’s called ColrPickr and it’s by KrazyDad. You choose a color on the beautiful color wheel and it displays a group of Flickr photos that fit the color. Now if this was just mashed up with Flickr Creative commons (hint! hint!)


You can also visit BigHugeLabs and find all kinds of toys that let you create new things with Flickr photos.

Have fun – I would love to hear from you and see what you are creating with Flickr!

Blogging Basics Today

I taught a class on blogging basics this morning. We had a few technical difficulties that I had not expected. I had planned to get to the room and check it out prior to this class and paid the price for not doing so. The data projector kept giving a message to check air flow and then going off. Because it was hanging from the ceiling it was a little difficult to see where the filter was – one of the class members climbed up and tried but the “tech guys” showed up with a ladder and it turns out that the filter is actually located on the top front of the projector which makes it even more difficult to find.

That problem fixed we moved on though time and momentum were lost. I still tend to throw too much out too quickly and will have to work on that before next week when I teach it again. It will help that I’m to be back in my own room. I’ll be a little more comfortable having the home court advantage so to speak and if I’m less nervous things will go better.

The hard part for me is teaching blogs without teaching tagging and feedreaders. I am going to have to just say NO! to those voices in my head that want to teach it all and show the connections.

I need to work on timing some as well. I hope some of the class will create blogs and that some new voices will join the conversation.

There is a short article on my school blog about it with some links to resources on my wiki.  These are specifically for WordPress and Wikimedia within our system.