Thursday, May 31, 2007

Cool New Website

A couple of blogs ago I mentioned how disappointed I was with Yahooligans, especially at how distracting their school side of things have gotten. Ben Rimes from The Tech Savvy Educator agrees with me and today shared another kid friendly search engine!
It's called Quintura for Kids. Basically, a student clicks on a topic and it brings up a nice bubble of other subtopics. And from there it keeps narrowing your search. Each time you narrow your search, you do get results. You can even type in a search word and then continue to narrow your result. I've included a screenshot of the search I did on citizenship. It might be a little confusing for some of your students, but it's not bad.
I still like netTrekker though for educational purposes. The searching is a little bit easier to follow and does not have the ads (neither does Quintura). Plus, it can put the minds at ease for all the technicians and district people who are concerned about what type of sites a student will find when searching.

Now there is a Quintura for adults as well.I checked it out. The mind mapping clusters made me feel at home with Inspiration, but there were times I also got a bit of an edgy feel. Now I know how Scott Kinney felt whenever he looked at my Inspiration documents! It was just a bit too busy, even for me! But I did find some great sites and will use it again.

I also checked out a site that Steve Dembo shared with us on one of his blogs. It's called kartOO. That one wasn't as easy to use as Google either. Something about it just didn't fit. I might use it once in awhile for topics I'm having a problem with, but hmmmm--- not so sure. I did like being able to narrow my search down by clicking on the topics, and the little cartoony looking characters made it more pleasant to wait. I just don't think it's going to be for me.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Newton, TX?

I am pretty excited! This Monday while everyone else is enjoying a grilled hamburger and a cold ice-tea remembering all that we're suppose to on Memorial Day, I'll be flying to Houston, TX. From there, I'll rent a car, meet up with Sister Matthew Marie and head towards Newton, TX. We are part of a small team presenting there on Tuesday. Both of us had won honors of being "Best of the Best" with past presentations at NECC and Newton has requested our sessions for their training day. That's pretty cool!
So I decided to do some research. First I looked up Newton ISD. I only found the sites that let you rate schools. Next I looked up Newton, TX. I found out they have 1 hotel, that also doubles as the RV Park - and has a pretty neat little gift shop. They also have 2 restaurants, and neither look like a chain, which should mean some great food! I did the entire Google Earth search as well. I need to program my Garmin still and hope that it can find the place. All my friends know I am geographically challenged.
Chris Marshall helped me find the school website. They use eChalk, which is one of my favorite tools for teachers - even though it's not free. They do have excellent customer service, the program was easy to use, and my teachers took to it pretty well.
It's a two hour drive from Houston to Newton. I'm driving with Sister Matthew Marie in the navigation seat. I was already warned not to speed with a sister in the car, and no death metal -although I can't say that I listen to that stuff anyway. The hardest I listen to is probably Bon Jovi.
Any "tools" you want to remind me of before I take my trip? Of course I'll be sharing some of my favorite Scholastic tools, and even though I no longer work for Discovery - I still love their stuff and the people that work for them. Thank you Kathy and Scott for the goodies! Gaggle's services are also on my list, and Jeff and Andrea made sure I was up to date with their new features. Tech4Learning - one of my FAVORITE companies sent me copies of their new magazine, Creative Educator. (Check it out! It's really hard for me to force myself to wait and read it on the plane. I saw an article in there from one of my favorite authors!). Lindy has done a fantastic job on this new venture. I'll be sharing their T4L and Pics4Learning. Inspiration, My FAVORITE SOFTWARE, has also sent me goodies to share, along with the fine people over at Teacher Web and PBS. In true Microsoft fashion, they offered to let me buy stuff from their corporate site. I turned down that offer. I never could get through to Google, but they are on my list. I have a pretty long list that I won't mention here. But just in case, I'm missing something send me a reminder in the comments.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Map the Mind

I have a bad habit of reading books by authors like Nora Roberts, Vince Flynn, and Vickie Lewis Thompson and forget to read books that are popular in professional circles. Today I made myself proud and bought the book Blink. I'm looking forward to reading it.
Before purchasing the book, I read the introduction and it reminded me of software. I once purchased software that I was hesitant about when I saw it in the booth, but decided to go for it when I saw the presentation by the sales people. I should have stuck with my original thought and saved the money.
When I first looked at Inspiration, I was hooked. I understood it, it went with what we were teaching in professional development for curriculum and for technology, plus it was EASY! Plus, it inspires me to this date.
Now we have all these online tools that boast to be mind mapping programs. Some are not so bad. I do like the fact that two or more people can actually work on the diagram at once, allowing collaboration. In all honesty, that's about it though. I still prefer the entire workings of Inspiration. However, if you want to check them out for yourself, here are the links. They do make collaboration easier, but they are not as inspiring in non-linear thoughts or connecting the points.
Let me know what you think!
  • K

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Which tool?

I am curious more than anything over which tool in the whole scheme of web 2.0 could you not live without? What is the ONE tool that really has impacted your life, whether it's professional or personal?
Some of these tools have been around for a long time. Before, I used Backflip or iKeepBookmarks. In 2000, an article was even published that one day we would all Backflip. I shared my bookmarks with my students and teachers easily. The difference is, I didn't tag the resources but rather filed them away in a folder.
Before groups created through portals like Ning, I collaborated via Yahoo Groups. We planned our entire 10 year reunion on a group, I collaborated with other middle school educators, shared lessons with another technology group, and even had a group for my students. Oh, and my cohort for my masters program also stayed in touch this way.
But what one tool do you really think has made a big difference in how we use the web today?

Wednesday, May 9, 2007


As a mother of a child who struggles to learn and is ADHD, I am always interested in articles that might offer support and ways to help him. This week there was a featured article on Yahoo! that claims more TV time means worse school performance. One quote I found interesting was "The amount of TV kids watched when they were 14 was positively linked with having attention problems later, not doing homework, being bored at school, not finishing high school, and "hating school," the researchers found."

But we also have studies that show that using video in the classroom helps improve student performance. Could it be that the TV is only a problem unless teachers know how to use it for their purposes? You have a classroom of students who are TV addicts? You're teaching your students the purpose of scientific studies and how to conduct a science experiment. Do you A.) Lecture B.) Do a hands on experiment or C.) Introduce your students to the Video Segment of the Myth Busters and the coke experiment and then have your students conduct a non-life threatening, safe experiment of their own to either prove or disprove a popular myth? Choice B is great, they will understand the process - but there will be little connection. Letter C is PERFECT because they can relate to this unorthodox crew, see how they test things out several times before claiming it truth or myth busted, and then they experiment on their own. Make it even better? Add choice D: Introduce lesson with Mythbuster video, have students conduct their own experiments to test out pre-selected myths and film their experiments, and then edit the film into a short "Students of Mythbusters" film to share their results with other students. During the share time, other students could make recommendations to make the experiment work even better.

At home, I'll do my part. Joey's limited to the amount of TV he can watch and is encouraged to play outside and use his imagination. But in the classroom, you need to find ways to make those connections with students in THEIR world, not yours.

If you are looking for something else, maybe something to encourage students to read, check out Flashight Readers from Scholastic. This time around the book is A Dog's Life by Ann M. Martin. Lot's of inter-actives, discussions, and encouragements to read some great books. Some pretty cool choices here! They can also check out the Section. My personal favorite there is none other than Harry Potter. Test your knowledge, discuss the evils (or goodness) of Snape, send an e-Card, download fun stuff for your computer, and more.

Then again, as easily as I'm distracted and tend to go off on a tangent, maybe his ADHD is not from TV but from his mother. Hmmmm.

Monday, May 7, 2007

i Can Quiz u

Your iPod is not just for listening to your favorite music, an audio book, podcasts, catching up on your latest episodes. You can play games on it and now, you can give a quiz on it with the program iQuiz.

The basic description tells you that it's potential for music lovers to test their knowledge, and one user actually warns of the battery drain the program serves. The description also encourages you to create music quizzes and share them with friends. Plus, it's less than a dollar and available from iTunes.

Interested? Come on, you know you want to write that grant for the video iPod and you're looking for anything to add some pizazz to the grant. Well here it is - iQuiz Maker. It works with the iQuiz game and if you go to their site, you can even download other quizzes already made.

I know cost is always important to know. This one might be a bit scary for a some. But don't worry, it works with PC and Mac and the potential to actually share the tests with other teachers, well - that's a big plus, right? And the iQuiz program itself is less than $1. Yeah, I can tell - you're really curious about the price.

It's free.


Thursday, May 3, 2007

Your Voice

I wish we could get 100 responses on this next question - but I be happy with just a few.

If you had a chance to meet with your state governor, in Florida's case - Charlie Crist, what would you tell him is your biggest concern for the state of education? What suggestions would you give or food for thought you would you feed him?

I'm asking because one of our readers actually has this chance and I thought, hmmm, this would be a great place to leave a comment and let them know!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

FREE Videos: The Next Vista

I love videos, especially when they are free! Add a dash of Century 21, okay a huge helping, and you've got a winner! You can even upload and share your videos as well that meet the criteria of the site. The videos at Next Vista for Learning are broken into three categories: Light Bulbs, Global Views, and Seeing Service. Light Bulb videos are the ones to help engage students and help them say, "I get it." There are quite a few math videos and a nice short video on cyber bullying. The Global Views Collection is wonderful for introducing global education and community. This category is a little light right now and could use some help in populating it. The last category is Seeing Service, again a little light, but it "highlight(s) good deeds large and small." Did you do a community service project? Did you create a movie or even a PhotoStory about the project and how your work helped the community? Upload it and share it with others. You can download videos found here or even embed them into blogs. Share your thoughts on what you found here!