Thursday, January 31, 2008

Online Graphical Dictionary

I have to share because this tool is just too cool! Check out Visuwords, an online graphical dictionary. Type in your own word or click on "random" to see the word connections explode on the screen. Be sure to check out the key that explains colors and symbols. It would be interesting to have students create their own word map in Word, Inspiration, Powerpoint or using the symbols and then compare it to the results in Visuwords.

Web 2.0: Block It or Embrace It?

TechnicallySpeaking@TIE: Web 2.0: Block It or Embrace It?

Click the link directly above to view this TIE blog entry.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I'd like another cup of time, please.

If there's a commodity that is constantly in short supply in education, it's time. No matter what the subject, inevitably someone will jump into the conversation with, "I just don't have time." Which is why I really like this analogy.

The Cup of Time and the Saucer of Lost Learning
Imagine a cup holding all the time we have to help our students learn. Each new thing we add to the cup fills it more until something overflows into the Saucer of Lost Learning.

Think for a minute about your overflowing curriculum. When you add something new, what stays in your cup and what overflows into your Saucer of Lost Learning?

Reality is that we cannot change the amount of time we meet with students unless the Board of Education changes the length of the school day or year. We must take a hard look at what we do and make serious management decisions about how to make the most of the time we have. We need to minimize the opportunities that spill over into the Saucer of Lost Learning.

One of the myths of technology use in the classroom is that it takes too much time and forces other important subjects to spill into the Saucer of Lost Learning. There is truth in this widely held belief if we envision technology as something more to drop into the Cup of Time. If we treat technology like a new subject, it will force something into the saucer, creating new problems and frustrations.

If, on the other hand, we see technology as a tool to help accomplish the learning goals we would seek to accomplish anyway, then it is not an add-on subject. In this view of technology, we are trading traditional ways of learning for newer, perhaps more exciting ways of accomplishing goals. When we replace something in the Cup of Time, less, or nothing, spills into the Saucer of Lost Learning.

To read the rest of the article from The Creative Educator, plus find out what suggestions they offer about time management, click here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Cheap substitions for real learning?

I just read this blog post from Dan. I love his point--what are we doing instead of doing what's really important, which begs the question, "What should I stop doing so I have more time for x?" Insert whatever it is that you are not doing right now, but that you've been meaning to get to for however long. In my home life, maybe I should stop watching American Idol and spend that time reading one of the many books on my "want to read" list. In my teaching, maybe I could have stopped doing the I poem activity and focus on the rhythm of poetry instead. Sometimes doing is a cheap substitution for changing. Change is hard. But what good might come of it?

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Happiness is understandable, obtainable, and teachable.

A group of educators/web techies are constructing a platform on the internet to provide secondary school educators and students with free access to clear, concise, information on global views of human happiness, positive psychology and mental well-being in general.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Do Schools Do Enough with Inventiveness?

Do Schools Do Enough with Inventiveness?

Click on the link directly above to view this TIE Lead blog entry.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Education Week Open House

Education Week is having an open house between now and Jan. 30. Anyone can download any of their materials for free at
Of particular interest is the topics tab near the top of the portal page. Fourteen topics are listed there with a wealth of information under each one.
Live chat transcripts are also archived at Yesterday’s chat topic was how to help low performing schools achieve. There is another earlier transcript on professional learning communities and many more.

Text Fixer

Have you ever wanted to paste some text from a plain text email into a word processing document, and it comes in looking like this:

>We went
>to the park yesterday
>and fed the ducks.

Not a problem if it's only three lines, but when there's a lot of text, deleting those arrows and spaces can be a real pain. Luckily, this Text Fixer online tool can save you the hassle of getting your text formatted correctly. Just copy the broken up text and paste it into the web tool, and voila! You now have text that looks like this:

>We went >to the park yesterday >and fed the ducks.

Use the find/replace tool to get rid of the > signs, and you're set! Now you have time to grade another paper! :-)

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Super Bowl XLII

With the Super Bowl less than two weeks away many students will be talking football so why not use this as a chance to incorporate a popular topic of conversation into your classroom. Education World as a great article with various activities across subject areas that allow your students to connect the Super Bowl to academia.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Story of Stuff

Okay, I'm posting this for the simple reason that I love the video and I love the message of the video. That said, I think I can also make a good argument for taking a look at this 20 min "documentary" for lack of a better word in the educational setting--our students can and should be contributing this type of content to the web. It's what Web 2.0 is all about---authorship. And what connects better with people, with kids, especially with teenagers, than digging into something they value, expressing their opinions about something important, and having a real audience for their work?

Take a look, and while the message is great, think beyond the content to "how can our students create something like this?"

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The Merits of Merit Pay

An Edutopia article discusses ten tips on pay for performance reform.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Web 2.0 –What tools do you use?

Gwen Solomon, a director at, reports results of a survey she conducted about Web 2.0 tools. See how you compare to the results she acquired.
Summaries of the results are below.

Twitter : We asked how much you know about Twitter and mostly it's knowledge just in passing. More than 60% say that you've just heard talk of Twitter and 24% say that while you know what it is, you don't see the point. Fewer than 10% report being active, 7% posting to Twitter and 2% following people who Twitter.

Wikis : We asked how much you know about wikis and it turns out to be quite a bit. Some people are using wikis professionally, but not yet with students, and many others are in the process of exploring how to use wikis in the classroom. A smaller group reports using wikis regularly with students (who love them).

Blogs : We asked if edublogs are living up to their potential of generating deep conversations and the answers are mixed but leaning toward the negative. Many people say no, agreeing that there's too much noise in today's blogosphere. A number say maybe, agreeing that while there are many challenging blogs, most don't generate great conversations. The smallest number say that they frequently read and respond to blog postings that stretch their thinking. For everyone, finding time is the great challenge.

Friday, January 11, 2008

U.S. History

Do you want an extensive data base for you U.S. History courses? Then check out Gilder Lehrman they have podcasts, over 60,000 documents, quizzes, travel exhibits and materials you can order for your personal and school library.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Headlines to Hope for in 2008

Creativity is back. Authors such as Daniel Pink are purporting that we need to use both sides of our brain to be successful in school and in life. Try this in your classroom in almost any subject area. Students write a headline for a summary of what they learned that day or what they would like to see happen next.
Here are some headlines that I would like to see happen in 2008:

Kids eschew TV, violent video games
Book sales set records

South Dakota moves from 51st to 21st
Funding formula changes; Teacher pay increases

All rung out
Saying cellphones have enough features, manufacturers balk at adding hair dryer

2010 Education Initiative ahead of schedule
ESA personnel key to increasing retention of teachers to twenty percent

Rap is finished
Musicians discover melody, harmony, lyrics

Paris Hilton joins convent, takes vow of silence

Public gives state lawmakers high marks
Missouri River experiences July freeze

Federal budget spends millions per day on education
Military holds bake sale for new uniforms

Boomers finally give credit to parents
They were right all along, aging hippies say

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Digital Learners

Teachers' lack of fair use education hinders learning, sets bad example

"Not a single teacher interviewed for a recent study on copyright reported receiving any training on fair use."

"Copyright confusion is running rampant in American schools, and not just among the students."

That's the conclusion of a new report from the Center for Social Media at American University. The report indicates that media literacy is now being compromised by unnecessary copyright restrictions and lack of understanding about copyright law.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Cameras & Writing Promps

Do you want to spice up your writers workshop with a little technology and artistic expression? Combining those three is exactly what a fourth grade teacher in Foley, AL did with her class.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A Wiki Full of Resources

from the January Wikispace newsletter:

"This wikispaceDecember's Space of the Month is , a group of educators using Wikispaces to easily share resources and ideas with their colleagues. The wiki talks about various digital tools and how members of the wiki find them useful in their classrooms. The Eduwiki team speaks below about their space and experience with Wikispaces.

Our Space: Eduwiki is a collaborative partnership between educators across the world that enables us to instantly share ideas, resources, projects, and more importantly to connect to one another.

Our Community: Eduwiki was initiated by a group of Pennsylvania technology integrators interested in sharing great ideas and resources. We then began to connect to teachers and administrators from all over the world ranging from early childhood though higher education. Our Who's Who page ( ) was created to provide a profile of each contributor on Eduwiki, in order for visitors to easily connect to members via their email, blog, Skype or Twitter address.

Our Experience with Wikispaces: When people have a simple efficient place to share ideas, those ideas flow smoothly. With the flattening of the world, we are seeing our students' needs changing faster than we are prepared to keep up with. We can no longer be islands and ignore the turbulence of the ocean around us. Wikispaces allows us to communicate, collaborate and connect with others during the small cracks of time we find during our school days and home lives. The easy-to-use interface has made the technology learning curve almost non-existent. Within minutes of becoming members, we are able to contribute to the project. We ask our members to connect their Wikispaces projects, blogs, podcasts, social networks and other resources so we can bring our network closer and build bridges between people. Wikispaces works, because we don't need to focus on technology in order to make global collaboration happen."