Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Let's talk about Science

Students need to learn it, teachers have to teach it. Why not make it fun for everyone?

What if there was a website that allowed your students to learn Science curricula in a fun and inviting way? The Jason Project offers curriculum resources for students in grades 5-8 to help them get interested in science investigations with real scientists and researchers from the National Geographic Society, NOAA and NASA.

Do not take my word for it check out the "Take a Tour" link from the home page of the site. It is approx. 5 minutes long and gives a general overview of what the site offers to you, your students, your administrators and parents. Yes I said parents, they have the ability to go in and see the progress their children while they are working on assigned projects.

How do you get started? Well because everything is free, again with the free thing, you have to register for an account and then verify it through email. During he registration process you put in your zip code and it will bring up all the schools in and around the zip and let's you click on your school. You have the option to set up your account as either a Teacher, Administrator, Student and Parent.

Once you have verified the account through email the magic begins. You can immediately go in and set up a class and create logins for your student, no email is needed for your students. Then you can begin searching for content within the site.

Here is what you have access to And it can be searched according to the NC SCOS:
  • Physical Science
  • Life Science
  • Earth and Space Science
  • Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
  • History and Nature of Science
  • Science and Technology
  • Life Science
Once you have found what you are looking for all you have to do is assign it to your class and your students go in and start looking. Not only do you have the integration with the NC SCOS you also have Lesson Plans, Assessments, Videos in the Digital Library and Black line Masters. There is so much that you can see use and share with your students that will enhance your everyday in class instruction.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Presentation 2.0

When I recently attended the NCTIES conference at the beginning of March, I was in a session where the presenter used a new web tool that I had not seen before. This web tool gave new meaning to my interpretation of a presentation.

Prezi is the name of the website and it takes presentations to the next level. "With the help of Prezi you can create maps of texts, images, videos, PDFs, drawings and present in a nonlinear way." One great thing about this web tool is that you have the ability to make your product Private or Public.

I could not believe how quick and easy it was to get started and have a presentation up and running in as the site says about 5 minutes. I had all of my resources in place and ready to go. Within the presentation I was able to select a background from a few canned ones they have. Then you are on the canvas and ready to create your new presentation. Using this palette tool you can begin adding your material. Now the sky is the limit with what and how much information you want to use. The site automatically saves your progress every few moments but if you click the Blue File Circle you can Save or Save and Close. You also have the Blue Show circle which allows you to see immediately how the presentation will look. On the Blue Place circle you have all of your tools for the presentation. At the top is Media which you can use to upload Images and video.. there is a downside right now you can only upload Flash (flv) video but as this moves out of the beta phase there may be different options available. The Text options allows you three choices for fonts in html code, body, strong and head. With Frame you can section off your presentation into different areas. With Line you can create a high-lighted area, an arrow line or a free hand draw line. Path allows you to create the flow of your presentation. See the video to learn more.

Now the site offers a lot of other tools for you while you are creating your own presentation. The site offers the Learn Tab which has a number of videos and interactive tutorials for you. There is the the Showcase tab that has 27 pages of shared presentations that others have done on varying subject areas. The last tab is the Forum where you can get and give feedback on the site, issues that you are having or just ask about new features that might be available soon. Speaking of features what else can Prezi do for you? Here is another video to show you how you can emphasize areas of your presentation.

Images & video provided by

Thursday, March 12, 2009

"World's smallest music player?"

The new iPod shuffle hit the market and is said to be the "'s smallest music player." It has also been redesigned slightly. You no longer have the wheel anymore, too small not enough room. You do still have the clip though?! Now there is something new called VoiceOver which tells you what voice is playing since you no longer have the display and is activated by an button on the ear buds. The shuffle now has 4GB, an increase of 2GB from the last evolution, of storage space that will hold up to 1000 songs.
Now the size, at 1.8" tall and .3" thin it is as small as some thumb drives on the market. I have to tell you this folks I have enough trouble keeping up with my thumb drives let alone keep up with the new iPod shuffle. Now when I look at this image and the only thing that come to my mind is the old Saturday Night Live Cell Phone skit where the phones got smaller and smaller until it was pretty much gone. Now will this keep me from purchasing the new iPod shuffle? The cost approx. $80 nope, I can live with the size and ease of use with the newer version. I just have to remember to take it out of my pocket before I do laundry.

image provided by: Engadget,

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Dare to be Great

Did you ever get to the end of a great book and was let down by the ending? It was either not what you expected or left you wanting more.

Why not write your own ending to that book. Put in what you want the characters to do and say. Make the book come to life in your minds eye and get it on paper, or rather online. Yes online for you to keep or for you to share using Plotbot.

Plotbot, what is it, well it is an online web resource that allows you the user or people to collaborate the writing of screenplays, or manuscripts. As teachers you could also use this site in conjunction with writing assignments and book reviews to give your students the opportunity to write, or re-write, their own ending to a novel, short story, movie etc..
This process allows for student collaboration with their peers as well as with the instructor for feedback. As well will prepare some students for careers in writing screenplays or manuscripts.

The site is very easy to maneuver through. When you come to the splash page you create your account, and its is Free. Once you have created your username and password you are then asked whether or not you want this project to be private or public. If you decide to make your project private no one will be able to view it unless you invite them in. Once you have done that you create the project name and enter in some parameter settings and off you go.
Now that everything is set up you can begin creating your content. You can choose to make a(n) outline, screens, screenplay as well as set up a project blog, guidelines, references or character document. Depending on your content you can set up the rating for this according to the MPAA standards.
If you make the project public, or for your invitees, you can set up an RSS feed to it and keep up with editing.
Plotbot also has its own repository so that you can upload documents straight to the site for download and sharing.

So whether you plan on a career as a screenwriter or not, whether you like it your way take a chance and see what Plotbot has to offer.

Image provided by
video provided by Commoncraft

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

That's what I want

I have debated now for a number of years as to the purchase of either an LCD or Plasma HDTV. I was not which was better for my purposes. So what did I do, like many others out there I did the research.

I went out online and read reviews from the major brands websites, went to all the major electronics stores in the area, and even a few lesser known places. I read blog posts and consumer reports. I thought I had it all down and was ready to buy...

but look what they came up with now. OLED Television Wallpaper. Yes, I said Wallpaper. No more excuses to not buy that big screen tv anymore, because that is all it is now a screen. Toshiba has developed this new OLED (Organic light-emitting diode) technology so now you can roll out your tv screen just like wallpaper. Oh yes and for the Green conscious the energy output is a fraction of what you have for a conventional LCD or Plasma. There are a number of other uses described in the article but I had to share that geek moment with everyone again and say, "That's what I want."

Image provided by

What is a Good "Digital Citizen"

What does it take to be a good digital citizen and who determines if they are?

Well here it is folks, Microsoft is allowing access to free online curriculum that "..that encourages students to be good digital citizens."

The curriculum helps to teach students about intellectual property rights through different scenarios and demonstrations that they can go through to bolster their knowledge. The programs is labelled as Digital Citizenship and Creative Content. Initially this was targeted for students in grades 8-10 but according to the designers can be adapted for grades 6-12.

On the website you do have to create a free online account, I know another user name and password to remember, to have access to their online content. Once you put in the general info the system asks you to fill out a curriculum area and grade level selection grid. After you move on to the next screen at the bottom of the page are the four units. They would also like for you to fill out the survey of the content after reviewing it.

Each unit is a comprehensive package of information ranging from the general overview and activating strategies to scenarios and post activity review assessments. There are also testimonials from your educational peers that have taken part in this curriculum with their students and again is approved by ISTE and AASL.