Friday, April 30, 2010

Finds This Week - April 29/10

For History teachers, the award winning French Revolution site with essays, 250 images, text documents, songs, maps, a timeline and a glossary.

If you're an English teacher, you'll really want to subscribe to Sharon Elin's Delicious bookmarks.  She consistently tags quality sites.

Tech Training Wheels offers a one-stop shop for tutorials about many applications using step-by-step videos and screencasts to guide users at all levels.

Booklist features the Year's Best Crime Novels: 2010

Interactive Science activities and lesson plans from JST Virtual Science Center.

Library display ideas from the ECYA Blog.

The Royal Shakespeare Company presents Such Tweet Sorrow - Romeo and Juliet 140 characters at a time through the eyes of six of the cast.

And finally one of the best parts of my day.  A six minute walk at lunch from my library desk, this view is bound to refresh me.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Earth Day 2010

This coming Thursday is Earth Day. A few suggestions for making this day worthwhile:

Go paperless. Hand out no paper. Accept no paper from your students. TeachPaperless is making a great offer to help teachers craft paperless lessons. Click on over to his blog to take advantage of this offer or sign the pledge. If you are serious about going paperless, Shelly's blog is a gold mine.

There is lots of information to be found online offering tips about recycling and reducing that may not be practical at your local level. Have students find out how to recycle in their own community. Interview someone from local government to see what's being done. I was surprised to see that there are a number of items now being recycled locally that weren't on the list a year ago. Have your students make updated lists of what can be recycled locally and how to do it. Ask students to make an online recycling guide for their own family. Have them do a garbage survey to ascertain what might be recycled or reused.

Edutopia features a challenge and some resources.

Elementary teachers will find ideas and resources at Ecokids and PlanetPals.

Do an image search for any projects using Creative Commons Search. Make sure to uncheck the For Commercial Purposes box.

Image used under a Creative Commons licence from marc kjerland

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tip of the Week

A library can be likened to a living organism, it grows and changes.  I have been looking for an easy and economical way to label the library's shelves and recently sent out a request for suggestions to my local librarian's group.  Someone suggested I use magnetic sheets.

They are easy to use.  Simply create a document with the labels you need using a good clean font in at least size 24.  For mine I used Arial size 24 and was able to get 24 label headings on one sheet using two columns which works out to about 50 cents a strip.  The next step was to print out the sheet on an inkjet printer.  If you have a colour printer so much the better.  Use manual feed as the sheet is just a little too thick to go through the regular feed.  Then slice into strips using a paper cutter and apply to your shelves.  Note:  these have to be metal shelves!

The ones I purchased were white and came in a package of five however I see from doing a quick Internet search that there are coloured sheets available.  The beauty in using them is that they can be moved easily when you use shelves for displays or special collections that change.  Small pictures or clip art could be added.  Craft stores supply magnetic tape that can simply be written on with a felt pen.

So, thanks to Lillian at West Van Secondary for the wonderful solution!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


I have been asked to assess the iPad and reflect on its usefulness as a tool for students and teachers.  I liked @cogdog 's rational assessment on the CogDogBlog and I agree that it's way too early to see what the iPad can really do.  I took it on a book buying trip today and loved that I was able to quickly check the school library's online catalogue.  Sure beats lugging in the big binder of library holdings and flipping through the pages.  The only downside, spending 15 minutes of my limited shopping time showing the book store clerks how it worked.  :)

Any student taking Chemistry will love The Elements, an ebook of the original book by Theodore Gray.
It offers rotating graphics, a link to the pertinent page on WolframAlpha and a fact page.  They even included the song by Tom Lehrer.  Note: this is one of the 'pay for' apps that I thought was worth a look.  I generally go with the free stuff.

There are news apps in a variety of flavors for current events classes.  I've been sampling The New York Times, USA Today, NPR and The Globe & Mail.  The iPad is especially good for viewing any videos attached to news articles.  The Thomson Reuters Galleries offer stunning photographs and videos.  Fluent News gathers stories from a range of sources, letting you browse by Top News or section, search and save.

The iPad app for is useful for hearing how a word is pronounced.  In addition to the definition it offers word origins, a thesaurus and Word of the Day.

What appeals to me the most is that students can have just in time learning at their fingertips, a quick place to learn or access basic information on a topic.  I'm happy with what I've seen so far and look forward to the many more apps that will be released.  Yes, I'm unhappy that I can't edit Google Docs only Google Spreadsheets and I'm frustrated that iWorks is not yet available in Canada but I can wait.  There are lots of other ways to be productive like Evernote, Dragon Dictation and iTalk Lite.  So far, on balance I am liking what I see.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I'm Busy

Posting here has slowed to a crawl.
I've been busy...

... playing with the new iPad.  Educators have begun posting a variety of opinions on using the iPad.  One blog I will be watching closely is Ed Tech Solutions.  The iPad appears to be a device with no age restrictions: Virginia's New iPad features a 100 year-old and A 2.5 year-old has a first encounter with an iPad.  I've been bookmarking other resources/opinions here.  There is a Diigo Group for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch Users.  Subscribe to the feed for that group to get the latest.

... prepping for a presentation I'm giving in May to one of the local universities.  They have asked me to talk about today's student and what faculty can expect.  It's a golden opportunity for me to present on what I love best: social media and its applications in education.  I'll be uploading the presentation to slideshare when it's ready.

I feel that momentum is gathering.  A colleague told me last week that she feels she can no longer teach the way she done for the past 12 years.  Although she is the kind of teacher I'd want my own child to have she says she is noticing that students are becoming more and more disengaged.  It will be interesting to watch her transformation.  Thanks to the generosity of the network there is an abundance of inspiration and exemplars, support and advice available online.

(Image: Bee, a Creative Commons Attribution, ShareAlike image from _PaulS_'s photostream)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Time for Play

Saw this fun app on the Techno Constructivist blog where Carl Anderson is using it to promote Social Networking in Schools.  It's a cute idea for capturing the reader's attention and focusing in on short specific points.  One draw back in setting up a string of these players on a blog is that they all load and play at the same time.  To hear them clearly, click on each of the six posts separately.  When you're creating  your own, just refresh the page each time you want to create a new one.  There's no back button.

 ˙spɹɐʍʞɔɐq puɐ uʍopǝpısdn pןɹoʍ ɹnoʎ uɹnʇ.  Flip.text lets you send messages to Facebook or Twitter and also seems to work in other places like blogs and chat windows.  Just type in your text and copy/paste.

Yesterday was a stellar day for some really original April Fool's Day jokes.  I was almost late for work as I watched the Twitter stream take-over by Will Richardson's fans.  Google had everything from a name change to a vowel outage and a new translator tool.  For more foolish fun see my delicious bookmarks.