Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What's Your Password

What makes up a good password, easy to remember and yet difficult for a hacker to break? I hope you aren't using a child's name, your anniversary, or your school mascot. Personal information relating to you, and easily discovered with little research, offers would be hackers little challenge breaking into your account.

What about generating a random set of characters, including numerals and punctuation? Not so good either, since several of us would leave that password on a post-it note near the computer in a secret hiding spot because we can't remember. How secure is that going to be? Toss the sticky, yet we'd forget the password.

One author's advice, Thomas Baekdal from an article "The Usability of Passwords", writes to use a phrase you can remember. Something like "thisisfun". He offers mathematical justifications for using phrases rather than single words, as computer algorithms can crack open any single word much faster than a phrase.

A few rules for your passwords you may want to consider:
  1. Use a phrase you can remember, at least 3 words in length
  2. Don't write it on the post-it note
  3. Change your password every so often
  4. Probably not a good idea to use the same password for every single account
  5. Don't use easy to key keystrokes like "asdfg"
  6. Substitute in punctuation or numerals for letters like "thisi$fun"
Not only should we practice these protocols, we need to be teaching these protocols to our students.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Visual Tweets

Use Visual Tweets to stream twitter feeds to your classroom. The best part is you can monitor the actual Tweet as Accept or Reject before it is displayed.

Start by creating your account and verifying in email. Then connect your your Visual Tweet with your twitter account. Once done provide a Search Term and then click "accept or reject" on tweets you want posted. There is particular URL you can sh
are or post maintaining the display of Tweet feeds, all while you control the management aspect on your computer.

Use this in the classroom to sit in on current event discussions happening around the world.

Iphone and IPad apps coming soon.

An alternative to Visual Tweets is Visible Tweets. Visible Tweets does not require a login, but does not allow you to preview the tweet stream either. It's clean, clutter free, no over head, and as the saying goes "you get what you get and don't throw a fit". Very easy to use, just type in your keyword search and watch the stream.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


How would you like to create a drawing, using online tools, but you also need collaborative help? Now you can with CoSketch, and no account needed for the basics. Click on the Start Here Button, and begin exploring. Send the URL of the drawing window to another user for collaboration.

You can add pens, arrows, shapes, text, and images to your drawing. You can interface with Google Maps. There is even a chat window for all those in your drawing session. The finished sketch can be embedded to other entities such as blog posts or webpages.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Are you a music tinkerer, doodler? Inudge is a music tool that will allow you to add notes, play to hear what it sounds like, make modifications, and keep listening. (note, it may take a couple minutes to load).

Click squares and listen to changes in your tune. Deselect squares if you don't want them anymore. Choose different Sound Patterns and create your own mix of musical tones to make and share.

What do different geometric shapes sound like? For instance a square, rectangle, triangle?

Yes it is addicting, so be careful.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Top 5 Safe Search Engines for Kids

Here is a link to an article by Jonathan Wylie recapping his list of the Top 5 Safe Search Engines for Kids. This list includes Safe Search, Fact Monster, Ask Kids, Quintura for Kids, and Go Gooligans.

Quintura for Kids also has an app for you IPod Touch and IPad users.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Squidoo - Interactive Math Sites

A nice collection of Interactive Math Games can be found at this Squidoo page. Upon arriving at the website, you'll read about the overall vision of the selected interactives, then just scroll down a bit to find the table of contents. From there choose an interactive and explore, or better yet allow you students to choose interactives and explore.

The author provides a quick overview of each highlighted resource, along with a link.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Simple CC Flickr Search

Often times I'm working with teachers wanting students to find images online regarding a project of some type. Sure, many of us migrate to Google Images, but I always say "you can't necessarily use those if you plan to post your projects online".

Simple CC flickr Search is a nice search engine that searches for creative commons flick photos, with a list of CC licenses that apply by each image. There are almost 1400 pages plum full of nearly 70,000 images. A nice addition when teaching students about proper etiquette regarding images and copyright materials.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Plant Life Cycle

Here is a nice online interactive displaying the many different stages of the lifecycle of a plant. Great for a online visuals, and includes a nice online plant identification interactive.

Monday, April 11, 2011


Do you want to know an easy add-on that will grade your Google forms when used as student quizzes or tests? Check out Flubaroo. Install a script (install menu in Google Spreadsheet and choose "education" "flubaroo") and allow Flubaroo to assist your grading. You take the Google form quiz yourself to set the key, and Flubaroo does the rest.

Click here and watch a 3 minute video and see for yourself. A can't miss if you are a Google Forms user.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Loving To Learn

Loving to Learn is a new early Elementary Website full of many resources like "Read me a story", "Reading lessons", "Multiplication", "ABC fun", and so much more.

One categorization of resources is by Ages and Stages beginning from Blossoming Babies up through 3rd grade. Or you can search by Super Subject which includes Reading, Writing, Math, Arts, Fitness, Music, and more. There is a pull down menu for Books which includes resources to read me a story, create your own book, rhymes and songs, and blab about books. Finally there is an Activities area for games, holidays, videos, and crafts.

This site also offers a Goals and Check-Up areas, which tries to align content with age appropriate readiness. They've also done a good job finding online interactives that align with their Goals.

This could be a good resource for parents to use with their children, as well as teachers looking to find a particular activity or idea. Click on Loving to Learn and start exploring.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Google Image SlideShow

Do you need a quick slide show, in a hurry, but don't have time to put it together? Or want to view several photos pertaining to a topic of classroom interest? Try Google Image Slide Show. Type in your search, be patient, and your slide show will begin shortly with full screen, clear, images.

Seems as though simple searches worked fine, as I tried Tiger and got, well, just tigers. Nope, I did not get Detroit Tigers, Tiger Woods, or other Tiger related content. Be sure to check out Advanced search for more options. And as always with images, recommended to test before displaying if you are unsure.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

HeyTell - Talk on an ITouch?

The Apple ITouch IPod does almost everything the IPhone will do, except allow you to talk on the phone. One app comes close, HeyTell.

This free app available for ITouch, IPhone, and Android, allows end users to send voice messages to other HeyTell users. To register as a HeyTell user you will need a valid email. All voice is transmitted through IP, not through cell service. If the receiving party is not running the app, a pop up box will appear informing them of an incoming message. Once registered invite others to join and be part of your HeyTell friends list.

It's like a modern day walkie talkie. Teachers can use this app to have students connect with each other if doing collaborative projects between two classrooms. And parents, if your child is grounded from using the cell phone, yes, they can still communicate.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Smithsonian Wild

The Smithsonian Wild has put together a collection of images acquired from many webcams around the world capturing animal photos in their natural habitat. Images can be searched by animal group or by animal name, either scientific or common. A great resource when teaching habitat and animals, enjoyed by students.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Evernote - Creating a "What I Learned" Portfolio

"I learned ...". Wouldn't you like to have each student be able to tell you what they learned after a lesson? Wouldn't it be so cool if that statement were saved on a computer? And wouldn't it be perfect if they were organized into student folders?

Evernote and their corresponding ITouch app allows students to do this with a quick set up.

For an elementary classroom:
  • create an Evernote account
  • create notebooks inside that account, one for each student
  • using the app have students select appropriate notebook and record their message
  • This example will save the recording into Andrew's Notebook once Andrew were to click the Voice option.

For upper elementary, middle school, or high school students you may want to have students create their own Evernote account, a notebook inside their account, and share their notebook with you as the teacher.

Other artifacts students can place into their Evernote portfolio are screen shots from IPod Touch's. Once a student completes an app demonstrating a learned skill, they can click the power button and home button at the same time, saving a screen shot into the ITouch photo library. Then use the camera roll button on the Evernote app to upload this image.

Students can include snip-its of documents they've created on the computer into their Evernote notebooks. Using the Evernote client for a computer, students can copy/paste portions of documents or images into their portfolio, or attach the entire file.

Explore options that exist in Evernote. Have students Favorite their 5 best learning items in time for conferences. This will provide an easy to access organization of all your students learning moments during the hectic rush of gathering evidence before Parent Teacher Conferences.

An Inspire Update

Teachers in our region adopted Promethean Boards and Active Inspire into their classrooms. As any software updates are pushed out every so often. Active Inspire recently updated their software consisting of a change to the interface used when creating learning response questions. After using the new interface it's been a resounding opinion to adopt this update for teachers creating Active Expression or Active Votes lessons.

The old six step wizard would allow a person to make a selection and click "next" after each section. At times it was click "next" "next" "next" repeatedly to create questions. This new wizard is an intuitive interface which provides choices based on your selection. See for yourself:

How to create one question:

How to create a self paced set of questions:

How to create math fluency activity (mad math minutes):

Note: to Update your Inspire software click Help menu - Check for updates. Be sure to also update the Active Driver.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Brainstorming Using Google Docs

We've all heard the quote "two heads are better than one", so why not move that thought into writing. For instance if you were teaching and wanted your class to brainstorm ideas about their interpretation of a book, how to begin a project, a debatable viewpoint, or one of many topics, how can you use Google Doc's to help you out?

Start by creating a new Google Doc. Share this document so others can also modify or edit the document. Sharing can be done either privately and inviting others, publicly requiring the use of a Google login, or publicly for anyone anywhere.

A nice tip is to create a table inside your Google Doc. A nice table is 2 columns by many rows. Since anyone can write anywhere, ask students to write in a particular row, making it more organized and easier to get started. Table properties allow you to change the color of the table and outline size of cells.

After the initial writing is over, students can quickly comment on other students ideas by adding text into the appropriate box.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Telescopic Text

The example at Telescopic Text demonstrates how one can take a sentence like

and using a few clicks with some additional words begin unfolding this sentence into a more descriptive one, like

You will need to go to Telescopic Text to see this fully unfolded, as the author expands the original sentence into a very picturesque paragraph. Click on a highlighted word or phrase to unfold that portion.

Try writing one yourself at You will first type your sentence into a dialog box that looks like

Once you have your sentence, click on the word you want to unfold and then click "insert" like

You will need to create an account to save your finished work.

Teachers can use this online resource in their classroom and have students expand a simple sentence into something more descriptive. Using one computer two or three students could take turns adding their unfolding thoughts. You could create a contest, beginning with one simple sentence, and determine the best finished products.

This could be a motivating opportunity to encourage students on becoming more descriptive writers.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Math Vocabulary from Spelling City

One factor for many students not passing state assessments in mathematics is the lack of understanding math vocabulary. Spelling City, a web resource used by many area teachers, has released grade level math vocabulary lists.

Each grade level has several lists, and each list contains approximately 10 terms, which can be used with spelling or vocabulary practice activities available on the site. Simply open a list and choose from Spelling Test, Vocabulary Test, Teach Me, Play a Game, Worksheets, and Print the List. If you choose a game there are several available to play, or print out and have students complete offline. Some of these games also make for great interactive whiteboard activities.

This can be a very good supplemental site offered to students that need additional preparation.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Need a Math/Sci Video - Khan Acadamy

There is an amazing collection of short videos explaining many, many math and science concepts across the curriculum. These segments are short, focusing on one concept with a few good examples to clarify the lesson.

As one digs deeper into the website, teachers will find a link to "watch" videos, and a link to "practice" concepts taught from those videos. To practice concepts you will need to login with an account, and Khan Acadamy accepts current Google accounts. This becomes a very nice implementation for schools that are integrating Google Apps.

Practice includes answering math questions from a selected level, levels starting at basic arithmetic up through Calculus. Khan Acadamy monitors student progress through their online practice. As a teacher you can sign up as a coach, allowing you to monitor your students progress through their individual practice. You need to have students associate their logins with you as their coach.

Khan Acadamy is great for supplementary materials supporting students that need additional explanations, or those absent from a given class. It is definitely worth the bookmark.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Use it in a Sentence

When learning new vocabulary we raise our level of thinking if we can create a sentence using a new learned word. Phrays offers a "word of the day" and asks users to compose a sentence containing the word.

What a perfect classroom starter. Upload the best sentence in class to the website. Note: twitter account needed to upload sentences.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Screen Casting with Screenr

Often times I am asked how to complete a computer related task. Screen-casting is a great way to provide the answer because it is saved and can be repeated. There are several software approaches to screen-casting like Camtasia, Camstudio, or Quicktime10. However, I've been using an online tool called screenr.

Screenr is paired with twitter, so you'll need a twitter account to save any screen-casting you complete. There is an option to tweet the finished screen-cast, or post and share like other Web2.0 tools. Go to screenr, find the record option, and follow onscreen instructions. You are limited to 5 minutes, but isn't that a long enough time to watch a "how to" video?

Follow up on 3/23/11: Screenr is now allowing you to pair your login identity with Twitter, Google, Facebook, Linked-In, Yahoo, and Windows Live.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Possibilities

A future look at a day in the life with glass, from Corning. Let your imagination run.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Giggle It -

The Giggle It project is hosting a contest aimed to inspire young writers to express themselves with a twist of humor. This project is sponsored by International Association of School Librarians and International Children's Digital Library. Projects this year include creating a class story analogous to Snow White reflecting the culture of your home town, including characters for snow white and all the dwarfs. Individuals can create a personal logo, an individual haiku, or a travel poster.

Content and ideas target children ages 10-14, as children of that age are beginning to develop a strong sense of reading. These writers are also beginning to express their creativity in written work. Most ideas integrate some type of humor engaging attentiveness for all readers. A teacher will need to create an account for their class. This way all work shared and uploaded is not linked back to a student, allowing for a cybersafe experience.

The international audience of Giggle It projects allows teachers to examine the relevance of word choice by the students work. Authors need to step back and think of who are their readers, at times providing definition of culturally relevant words so that other online readers will understand the humor associated with word choice.

Giggle It aims for students to learn and promote international understandings using a bit of humor.

Give Giggle It a look over, read through past projects, and join to participate in this years project. View this Giggle It Voicethread for a Web2.0 look at this online resource.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Google Docs Template Gallery

In our region many schools are beginning to implement Google Apps. A huge benefit of using Google Apps is the availability of Docs, and what I'd like to ask in this "shout out" is, have you noticed the numerous templates available?

Near the "search" bar at the top you will see a browse the template gallery button. Clicking this button will take you to category page where you can surf through the hottest templates, or by category including business, cards, holidays, students, and teachers.

The best part is if you have a personal template you want to share, you can upload it here. If you are part of a school domain you can set the permissions of this template to be available for all users within the school, like awards certificates, thanks you cards, or letter head. Students can download resumes, cover letters, and a variety of other starter documents.

Google has so many items to offer, can we keep up with all the snip-its of possibilities?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Shortening URL's with

Have you been noticing those URL’s beginning with is a nice URL shortener making those “long and I don’t want to take the time to type” web addresses into something a bit easier. Fairly straight forward, you copy a long URL into the space provided at and you will get a shortened version. You can also create your own shortened URL’s if you create account.

How can you use them in a class? Used when asking anyone to go online to a specific webpage and you don't have an online link provided. Here is a URL searching Google news related to social networking: and here is the corresponding URL:

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Readability - Focus on the Content

Readability is a must bookmarklet for anyone that reads through the many blogs and online articles to stay current in your profession.

Scenario: You are reading a blog post of a popular author, and there are ads surrounding the article. By clicking the readability bookmarklet installed on your favorites toolbar the article is transposed into an ad free view, customized to a selected font, stationary, and size. Save money by printing in readability mode because you are printing content, not ads.

Assist students who are distracted with surrounding media. Teach them how to use the readability button.

Readability is a bookmarklet well worth the value of a quick install. Click the "add on button", provide an email address, and obtain your bookmarklet.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Newsmap - Mapping Todays News

Would it be interesting to see how different countries perceive which current events are most important? Check out these perceptions using a tool called Newsmap. (screen shot below taken on February 26, 2011)

The news is layed out in blocks, larger blocks representing a bigger focus around the country, represented by the number of articles written about that topic. Reading stories from different countries is accessed by clicking corresponding tab found across the top. Different types of news are highlighted with different colors; for example world affairs in maroon while sports are in blue. Checks near the bottom allow one to select which type of news to display. Each block links to a story from a variety of newsmedia sources.

This resource would be great for any current events class, as students could compare viewpoints from different regions around the world. Foreign Language classes could use this tool to read comparative stories in different languages. An ad free mapping of todays news, definitely worth reading.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Word Stash - a flashcard dictionary

Check out this online dictionary called WordStash, which has an interface providing a feel of flashcards. To begin, look up a word and read the definition.

To obtain the most for this tool, create an account. A Teacher account will allow you to create lists of words you can publish for your students. Teachers will have the ability to create a class, and allow students in that class easy access to the lists and terms available to study. A Student account must be linked to an email address. Students will also have the ability to create lists of words which they can share publicly or keep private.

When creating a list of terms, you have the option of choosing a WordStash definition, or typing your own. Popular activities inside Word Stash include Learning Mode, Practice Mode, Play Match Game, and Quiz me.

Follow Wordstash updates on their blog at Try it out, as this site could be a great enhancement for your vocabulary resources.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Have you ever watched a Youtube in the classroom and had increased levels of anxiety because of anticipating what advertisement image will be displayed when the video is over?

Have you turned beet red because of the image that displayed when the video was completed? I call this Youtube Roulette.

Ah, I learned of a new tool to eliminate such anxiety. Quiettube. This tool will work differently depending on your browser with the bottom line objective, the only thing on the screen is the particular Youtube video of interest. No suggested alternative videos nor any ads.

In some browsers simply drag n drop the quicktube button onto a browser toolbar. Other browsers like chrome have quicktube installed as an extension.

In any case, check this out. A great little tool.

Digital Drifting

After sitting in a session at ITSC (Instructional Technology Strategies Conference) in Portland, OR, a term hit me across the side; "personal transparency". So I asked myself, am I transparent digitally? Easy answer, not really. Second question, do I have knowledge and experiences to share? Again easy answer, yep. I share them all the time with local teachers. Why not practice digital transparency and share them virtually? Thus the start of "Digital Drifting".

Some of the posts will be fast paced, as it will seem we are drifting through white water. While others will be casual. Causing us to stop, reflect, or possibly enjoy life as if drifting down a lazy current. Yet others may appear we are in a little rapids for the first time ever causing our adrenaline to increase. And after a few rides through similar rapids we learn to be at ease with this type of technology.

I hope to share stories of seamless integrated technology into the classroom. I hope to share resources and pose questions seeking ideas. I hope to share struggles and attempts, unsuccessful and successful, at working through them. I hope that whatever the post, it will offer you time to learn something new or validate what is in existence causing an increase in your ability to perform your job.

Enjoy the drift through digital experiences.