Thursday, December 27, 2007

2007 in Review -- You have learned 100 things!

2007 is coming to a close, and as I looked at my Blogger Dashboard today, I noticed this is my 101st post. So, if you have been reading this blog since it's inception, you have (hopefully) learned 100 things! And, if you are a recent subscriber, the great thing about blogs is, that the archive is there, so it's not too late to catch up!

Some of the bloggers I have been reading (see the "More Blogs of Interest" list from Bloglines on the lower left side of this blog) are posting their "Top 10 Lists" and "End-of-the-Year" reflections for 2007, so I thought perhaps I would do the same.

I am typically not one to write deeply about issues or my personal views. The main reason I began this blog was to share information about using educational technology, that I formerly distributed via email. Blogging has also been a great "back up" for my brain. If I find a useful tool or application and write about it here, I never have to look very far to retrieve the information. And, sad to say, as I grow older, these tired brain cells seem to drop information from the memory banks much more quickly than I would like to admit.

I would like to point out, however, this has been a great year for me personally and professionally. I find it hard to put into words the gratitude and great respect I have for those who were instrumental in nominating and supporting me, as I received two incredible peer-recognition awards this year: the 2007 Outstanding Technology Using Educator award from the Illinois Computing Educators (ICE), and the 2007 Outstanding Leader award from the International Society for Techology in Education (ISTE).

I am reminded of a quote (reportedly in a letter to Robert Hooke on Feb. 15, 1676), from Sir Isaac Newton: "If I have seen farther, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." There are truly some gigantic shoulders that have provided me with a fantastic "view" of the possibilities for reaching and teaching each and every child, and in my position as a staff developer, the adult learners in schools. I continue to be amazed at the learning made possible by technology in our very "wired-world." And, yet, with all of the tools available, I still read stories about educators who remain disconnected. How sad for them and their students. We still have a long way to go, or do we?

The good news is that we, as educators, do not need to fear attempting innovation in isolation. If I am inclined to try a new approach to teaching a topic, unit or problem, there are literally hundreds of like-minded educators available and willing to assist, only a few keystrokes away. Research has shown that in order for professional development to be successful, it must be ongoing and embedded into daily practice. I truly believe educators must model lifelong learning so that our students can witness the value of learning firsthand. Establishing professional learning communities can help make this happen. It's important to note that communities of like-minded folks can exist in-person or online. Tools commonly labeled as "Web 2.0" provide connections and collaboration in ways not possible just a year ago.

This year, I have made numerous "connections" by networking with educators using Twitter, most recently being introduced to my very generous Secret Elf (online), who I can't wait to learn more about and from. I have "attended" virtually-hosted conferences using Elluminate, and dropped in and participated in informal sharing of topics via, and have shared in kind. I have pondered why educators teach, and have attempted to pay attention to the continuing evolution of technology, and its possibilities, so that I can find the best tools for learning and teaching to share with the adults in my school. I often think of The Three Princes of Serendip, the fairy tale in which the heroes “were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of.” I wouldn't quite place myself in the "hero" category, although I'm amazed by the amount of valuable "learning" information I continue to stumble upon each day, thanks to the generosity of the educators in my sphere.

I can hardly imagine what the new year will bring. My hope is that learning will be great in 2008, for me, and for you and yours. Happy New Year!

Friday, December 21, 2007

XO = Great Learning Tool!

My OLPC XO was delivered two days ago. When I ordered the XO as part of the One Laptop Per Child's Give 1 Get 1 program, I had little idea of the learning potential of this device. The concept of providing a laptop for a child in a developing country had great appeal. The wiki supporting the XO is a great example of the learning that is possible with this device:

This is my first experience exploring Linux as an operating system. Several Linux-based programs (referred to as "Activities") such as the TamTam Jam, Turtle Art (logo programming) and Pippy are preinstalled.

Some of the keyboard keys and other hardware components are not yet functional, such as the ability to write on the trackpad with a stylus, however, many Activities and upgrades are in the works. It will be nice to have the ability to "sleep" the laptop.. a feature that reportedly will be coming soon in 2008.

The ability to fold the screen flat, and use the hardware buttons to navigate through the content is an interesting feature that is useful for reading eBooks. I have yet to explore the recording features and I am looking forward to the possibility of collaborating with other XO owners.

I had a bit of trouble connecting to the Internet using our school's visitor access point, since the browser could not authenticate the certificate, but our network manager was able to grant the access needed. Adding the device to my home network was relatively easy.

Will I use the XO for daily computing tasks? Probably not. I'm not that accustomed to the small keyboard, and I feel somewhat limited by the speed (it's not the fastest device I have used). For a child, however, this is one powerful learning tool. Kudos to the XO dreamers and developers who's mission "is to provide a means for learning, self-expression, and exploration to the nearly two billion children of the developing world with little or no access to education."

Sunday, December 09, 2007

I love "feel good" stories!

I love "feel good" stories, and it seems that at this time of year, many folks devote their time to finding ways to spread a bit of "holiday cheer." While reading Will Richardson's blog today I learned about a 10-year-old child's effort to make a difference by performing random acts of kindness during the 25 days leading up to Christmas.

This might be thought of as a typical activity many youngsters engage in as part of their Sunday School lessons about Christmas and gift-giving. What is different in this instance is that Laura is sharing her efforts on a blog (with Mom's help). And, in the 9 days since Laura began her blog, she has gotten over 8,300 hits and almost 2 dozen children joining her in a commitment to making a difference too!

Follow Laura's progress at Twenty Five Days to Make a Difference -- maybe you could post a comment about how she truly is making a difference! It might make you both feel good.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Please speak up!

It's that time of year again - time to Speak Up during the National Speak Up event, brought to you by

Speak Up Banner

Last year at this time, teachers and students at Stevenson joined the national dialog by completing the Speak Up Day survey. This is the 5th year of the Speak Up, facilitating the inclusion of student voices in national and local discussions on education and technology.

This year's question themes are: Learning and Teaching with Technology, Web 2.0 in Education, 21st Century Skills, Science Instruction & Global Competitiveness, Emerging Technologies in the Classroom (Gaming, Mobile Devices, Online Learning) and Designing the School of the Future. Also new this year: the parent survey is available in English and Spanish.

This annual event is now open for K-12 students, teachers, parents and new this year -- school leaders. The Speak Up surveys will be open through December 21, 2007. You may preview the survey questions at:

Speak Up, a national online research project facilitated by Project TomorrowSM, gives individuals the opportunity to share their viewpoints about key educational issues. Each year, findings are summarized and shared with national and state policy makers. Participating schools and districts can access their data online, free-of-charge.

All districts and schools, in the current NCES database, are automatically registered to participate in Speak Up. To participate in the survey and obtain free, online access to your school or district’s aggregated results, your registration must be activated by an adult at your school. If your school has not yet joined this effort, there is still time! Browse on over to

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

ComicLife Meets Curriculum and other great resources ...

Last Thursday I hopped on board the Amtrak express from Chicago to Springfield, to attend and present two sessions at the IETC (Illinois Educational Technology Conference). My session on Google Tools for Educators was filled to capacity. I also presented on using Wikis -- one of my favorite Web 2.0 tools. I recorded both sessions and have posted the audio files on the websites. After listening to myself (doesn't everyone hate hearing their own voice?), I think that I need to work on slowing down a bit. However, by providing the audio from the session, at least the attendees can rewind and play back anything that I zipped through.

One of the sessions, "Comic Life Meets the Curriculum," was presented by Marilee Sarlitto from Kildeer Countryside CCSD 96, and Judith Epcke of Northbrook School District 28. Although I couldn't attend, I was able to review the resources on their website, which is a goldmine of information on this very engaging software. I would encourage you to check it out.

Check out the handouts and weblinks from other sessions: and

Monday, November 12, 2007

'Tis the Season to Help the Less Fortunate

Today you have two opportunities to help those less fortunate in our world. One way will cost you nothing but time, while the other will require that you dig a little deep into your pockets.

1. Feed the hungry and feed your brain! will donate 10 grains of rice for each word you get correct in the online vocabulary challenge. ("WARNING: This game may make you smarter. It may improve your speaking, writing, thinking, grades, job performance...") Rice is distributed by the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), the world’s largest food aid agency, working with over 1,000 other organizations in over 75 countries. In addition to providing food, the World Food Program helps hungry people to become self-reliant so that they escape hunger for good. Visit the United Nations World Food Program to learn more about their successful approach to ending hunger.

2. The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC)'s "Give One Get One" program starts in the U.S. and Canada today (Nov. 12), and ends on Dec. 31st.
During this time, for a donation of $399, you can donate the revolutionary XO laptop to a child in a developing nation, and also receive one for the child in your life (or the child in you) in recognition of your contribution. $200 of your donation is tax-deductible (your $399 donation minus the fair market value of the XO laptop you will be receiving). For all U.S. donors who participate in the Give One Get One program, T-Mobile is offering one year of complimentary HotSpot access. Wifi "HotSpot" access can be used with any Wi-Fi-enabled device, such as your laptop computer or a Wi-Fi-enabled mobile phone.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Live Netcasting Casts Large Net

Time Magazine's cover story in Dec. 2006 told the story "about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before" due to the "new" Web, which has become a "tool for bringing together the small contributions of millions of people and making them matter." Here's a small contribution for you to consider.

On Tuesday after school, members of the Northen Illinois Computing Educators (NICE) met after school to learn about teaching with interactive white boards. Two teachers compared the features of Promethean ActivBoards and SMARTBoards and shared their classroom experiences. The meeting was attended by several dozen local educators as well as educators across the country. How? Live netcasting!

Websites such as UStream and Operator11 allow anyone the ability to reach far beyond their in-person audience, by providing the means for live streaming. Users can broadcast themselves "live" using a webcam and an Internet connection, as well as record it for later viewing. There is also a live "text chat" window for discussion during the broadcast -- a technique that has been called "back-channeling."

And you should know, it's free. Is it safe as well? The Read/WriteWeb blog reports that with Operator11, "because everything being streamed over the site is taped, and because the users know that, they are far less likely to break the rules or do anything inappropriate."

Credit to Steve Dembo for taking this one step further and setting up a wikispace for educators (EdTV) to post their broadcast links. What's on? We are! You can be too! You are invited to tune in, and learn from our presentation.

Sunday, October 21, 2007 now funded by U.S. federal Dept. of Ed

In my quest to find a scanned version of the book Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson, I browsed to, and learned that on October 1, 2007, the Office of Special Education Programs of the U.S. federal Department of Education made a major five-year award of $32 million to further the objectives of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), by supplying high quality textbooks and educational materials to students with special needs.

This funding is designed to fully support all schools, and students 26-years-old and under, with qualifying print disabilities in the United States, K-12 and post-secondary. will provide these students with access to the entire collection of accessible electronic books, and to software for reading those books.'s website reports they also expect to add over 100,000 new educational titles in high quality DAISY and Braille formats over the next five years, getting students the terrific quality textbooks they need for academic success.

This will save countless hours of scanning and reworking print material for our students with learning and physical disabilities.

By the way, Speak is not yet in the library. If you have a scanned version that you can share, please contact me.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Amazing Street View in Google Maps

Check out some new views in Google Maps using the amazing "you are there" tool called Street View. Google posted this intro 4 days ago on YouTube and it has already been viewed more than 130,000 times (wonder why they didn't post it on Google Videos?)

Street View is currently available in six U.S. cities: Chicago, Portland, Philadelphia, Tucson, Phoenix and Pittsburgh. And, it's not just the cities themselves, but out in the suburbs as well. The "blue" indicates where Street View is available:

Street View provides a 360-degree view at a given point on the map. Here's a look at our school, if you were driving by on Rt. 22:

Google Maps Help says: "To navigate along a street, click one of the white arrows overlaid on the street to move in that direction. You can also use arrow keys. Street names display within the info window. You can navigate on to another street once you reach the center of an intersection."

I grew up in the city of Chicago here:

The neighborhood is still looking pretty good. I wonder how often these views will be updated. Take a virtual walk!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

K12 Online Conference -- tagged!

Vinnie Vrotny tagged me with a meme to help promote the K12 Online Conference, which "opened" this week with a pre-conference keynote by David Warlick. How appropriate, since announcing the K12 Online Conference was to be the subject of my next post.

What is the K12 Online Conference?
The K12 Online Conference could be described as an open source conference, you can choose when, where, how, and at what level you will participate -- AND, there is no cost to you, other than your time!

Congratulations to its conveners, Darren Kuropatwa, Wes Fryer, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, and Lani Ritter-Hall who have voluntarily organized this year's 2007 conference, and in the process, have gathered 40 volunteer presenters who will provide information on topics they are passionate about. Add to that: four live events, three fireside chats and one 24-hour culminating gathering that will allow educators from all over the world to connect and share ideas, thoughts, and experiences with each other during the two weeks of presentations, and beyond.

If you don’t have time to "tune in" during the conference dates (October 15-27), you can visit the presentations anytime, which will be available in perpetuity, or when the technology evolves, which ever comes first.

K12 Online Conference Meme Rules
To share either three (3) reasons to participate based on your experience from last year or (if you didn’t attend last year) three (3) things you hope to gain from the experience this year.

My Responses to the Meme

  1. I continue to learn and re-learn from last year's presentations. Since I subscribed in iTunes, I only need to dial up David or Wes or Mark to review the information.
  2. I am grateful for what I have learned, and that I have been able to teach others at workshops and conferences throughout the year.
  3. What better way to "meet" like-minded educators! You do not have to innovate in isolation! These folks genuinely care that you learn -- and they don't even know you yet.

Who is next?

I tag: Lucy Gray, Joe Brennan and the TechChicks (Anna and Helen)

Technorati Tags:

Monday, September 24, 2007

Great new tool from Google!

Each week in the Staff Development Lab, we offer a "Power Lunch" learning session that focuses on ways to integrate technology. Faculty and staff members are invited to "learn as they munch" -- they bring their lunch to the lab, and we provide a short demonstration (about 20 minutes) and a beverage and treat (cookies, granola bar, etc.).

Last week's topic was "Google Tools for the Classroom" which focused on using "Google Docs" -- word processing and spreadsheet files that can be shared, co-authored and edited in real time, on the web. Documents can be public or private, and can be shared as "view only" or with editing access. CommonCraft has recently published a great introductory video called "Google Docs in Plain English" -- see:

As I was preparing for the session, I created a handout to share with the attendees, along with several sample files for the demo. However, as I was sharing the process for uploading files, I was surprised to see that in addition to uploading Word and Excel files, Google now provides an online presentation tool!

Users can upload PowerPoint files, which can be edited using a web browser. Similar to the Docs and Spreadsheet tools, collaborators and viewers can be invited, and the final presentation can be published for all. There is a even a feature for presenting "live" across the Internet and the ability to interact with the internet-based audience.

There are about a dozen background templates for creating a presentation without first uploading a PowerPoint file. Limitations are: not more than 10mb in size, and unlike Docs and Spreadsheets, presentation files cannot be downloaded for further editing in PowerPoint.

What a great educational tool for students who are given "group" projects. No worries about who had the most recent copy of the presentation. No worries about file incompatibility. Yay Google!!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Helping Educators Become Technology Literate

There are many considerations in helping educators become technology literate. I think it is especially hard these days, given the amount of information we and our students are exposed to on a daily basis. Not to mention the fact that technology, both hardware and software, continues to change and evolve at a rapid pace. It seems that as soon as you become comfortable with a tool, a new and improved version is released. As much as I embrace the use of technology, and how it can enrich students' experiences in the classroom, I sometimes find it challenging to "keep up."

I was clearing out some old email messages and came across a discussion I had with an Instructional Technologist from Texas about trying to help teachers become more technology literate. My response to her inquiry included the following questions:
  • What are the "technology" expectations for your teachers?
  • Are technology goals defined at the local level by the stakeholders, or are they state mandated?
  • What is the teacher's mission for integrating technology?
  • What are their frustrations?
  • Do the teachers have access to reliable technology tools?
  • Do they understand where or how technology can improve learning?
  • There are always beginners, adapters and innovators when it comes to using technology, yet every school seems to have a few teachers willing to take risks with technology, does yours? If yes, these teachers need to be your evangelists! They need to spread their excitement!
  • How can the technology innovators in your school, help those still struggling?
  • Can you enlist the innovators in your school to share their best practices and success stories? Often, one teacher doesn't know what another is doing, and some very awesome things could be happening in your own backyard that should be showcased!
  • Time is a precious commodity that teachers never seem to have enough of. If your evangelists can show how they have overcome the time obstacle, it may inspire others as well.
  • How do you allow teachers to experience, and most of all celebrate, success? There is nothing more frustrating than going to an inservice day, or training session, and come away feeling they will never "get it," or "this will never work in my class."
  • As an instructional technologist, what is your biggest challenge in integrating the technology?
  • Do you offer assistance in the classroom?
  • Are you designing technology-rich lessons or are the teachers expected to create them?
  • Who teaches the students technology literacy? Do you have a computer "person" who does, or is this the teacher's responsibility?
  • Can you show teachers how technology can make their lives easier?
  • What kind of information in small bits can you offer, that will show teachers how technology supports learning? Or, help their students to learn better?
Perhaps you are in a position to provide support to educators and have asked (or answered) these questions? I would love to learn your tips.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Whew! We're rolling now.... hmmm... what to learn?

It's been a bit of a hectic start to the school year. There is always a flurry of things to get done, and most everyone has questions, even though we hadn't changed many things over the summer. One major undertaking was that our campus became totally wireless this year. Since so many of our teachers are using laptops, this is a welcome upgrade! It has somehow affected our ability to iChat in BonJour though. We just don't "see" each other anymore.

So, now that things are settling in, it's time to set our goals for the coming year. In our professional learning community, we are committed to life-long learning. So, what will our learning consist of? What tools will we use in our classrooms? Will we risk trying something new? How will we learn? Who will teach us?

The web is a wonderland of both useless and useful information. I love the fact that so much information is online and freely available. So much to learn, so little time. But, here's something to get you going. Check out Common Craft, where complex items are explained in plain English -- "their product is explanation." Confused about Web 2.0 tools such as Social Bookmarking, Wikis, and RSS? The Common Craft videos are great starters to introduce you to these concepts.

Happy learning!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Your Mission: Keep Learning!

Welcome back to school!
As we begin to gear up for another year, we have spent the last several days working with staff and teachers to "get them up to speed" on the changes and improvements that have occurred during the summer.

In our back to school "learning" sessions, we provide a brief overview of the web-based services for which we are fortunate to have subscriptions. Being a "technology trainer," I am most appreciative of the wonderful online tutorials at Atomic If you have never visited this website, (or haven't visited it lately), make some time to go there soon.

There are many free tutorials available without a subscription, such as the beginning-level tutorials in each topic, AND, for a limited time, visitors have access to a workshop series on how to use pbwiki (a super easy to use wiki site -- free for educators).

Atomic Learning has also recently aligned their offerings to State standards, and have provided a search tool to find topics or lesson accelerators by State, subject and grade.

Our local ISTE affiliate, the Illinois Computing Educators (ICE), provides all members with a subscription to Atomic Learning. The cost of ICE membership is less than an individual subscription to Atomic Learning, so you might want to take a look at joining ICE -- which provides additional benefits, and the opportunity to connect with like-minded educators!

Keep learning!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Apple Releases iLife 08 !

I've just spent 20 minutes viewing highlights of Apple's newest release of iLife 08. iPhoto has been updated with some great features, such as the ability to organize photos by "event." iPhoto automatically sorts photos by events according to the day photos are taken. All the photos from one event can be skimmed through in a small preview window. When viewing the photos in a single event, iPhoto provides a "hide" feature for pictures that you just don't want to throw away, but you might not want to view all the time.

In addition to some new printing templates, I was most impressed by the new Web gallery for sharing photos on .Mac ("dot Mac"). Photos can be published/uploaded with a single click and viewed on any web browser in a variety of ways -- (reminds me of viewing photos in Flickr) and high quality downloads for printing are available as well.

The best feature is that others can add or upload to your gallery!! I have been a .Mac subscriber since it was first given away free (currently $99 per year) and now .Mac subscribers are being given more webspace, increasing it to 10GB combined storage for mail and web publishing! Yay!

iMovie has been totally recreated to allow "super-fast movie creation" using a built-in library of video clips that you can skim through to select sequences as easily as selecting text. Drag and organize sequences in the new project window and share your finished masterpiece in your .Mac web gallery, reportedly in higher resolution than DVD. Or, publish directly to YouTube is also an option in the Share menu. Among the formats the iMovie now accepts is DV, HDV, MPEG-2, MPEG-4 and AVCHD.

Of course, iWeb is still available for publishing websites that include blogs, podcasts, and photos in creative albums. However, now iWeb also provides web-widgets for adding interactive content such as embedded YouTube videos and "interactive Google maps." Google's Ad-Sense program is also available as a widget, if you choose to use this (I hate ads on webpages).

GarageBand 08 has a new feature for musicians. Take the "stage" with a hand-picked virtual band, (just turn on and off instruments) to create music using your own instrument, voice, etc.

Check out iLife at Upgrades are $79.

Be sure to note the system requirements: iMovie requires OS X 10.4.9, and an Intel processor, a Power Mac G5 (dual 2.0GHz or faster), or an iMac G5 (1.9GHz or faster). iMovie HD 6, previously distributed with iLife ’06, is available for download for those who have purchased and installed iLife ’08 at

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

8 Random Things Meme ... I've Been Tagged...

Ok, a bit of fun before we begin the new school year. A blogger meme has been circulating and I've been tagged by Lucy Gray.

Here are the Rules:

* Post these rules before you give your facts
* List 8 random facts about yourself
* At the end of your post, choose (tag) 8 people and list their names, linking to them
* Leave a comment on their blog, letting them know they’ve been tagged.

My random facts:
1. I was a Bleacher Bum in 1970 (left field of course).
2. ... it was easy because I grew up on the north side of Chicago.
3. I married my high school sweetheart (30+ years ago)
4. ... we met working in a fast-food restaurant.
5. I'm left-handed.
6. I bake the most awesome-ist apple slices!
7. I'll drive to Milwaukee for Leon's custard on 27th Street.
8. I can spell and say the longest word in the dictionary: Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconeosis

I am tagging:
1. Vinnie Vrotny
2. Wes Fryer
3. Scott McLeod
4. Miguel Guhlin
5. Bud Hunt
6. Eric Langhorst
7. Sharon Peters
8. Dean Shareski

Have fun!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Becoming a Digital Educator in the 21st Century

For the last several weeks I have been leading an online workshop through the ICE (Illinois Computing Educators) Summer Series, titled "Your Guide to Becoming a Digital Educator." We are reading and reflecting on the many facets of "teaching digital" -- from learning about digital natives, digital immigrants, and the importance of 21st century literacy, to exploring Web 2.0 tools such as blogs and wikis.

I am impressed with the conversations taking place. Some concerns have been brought up regarding Internet safety:

Teacher "S" writes: My K-6 students don't take it seriously at all, and we even had a police officer come in to talk with them about Internet predators. At my school we had some particular issues with student MySpace accounts, and it turns out that one is supposed to be at least 14 to even open an account. My oldest students are 12 and many of them already have accounts. I don't know how to get them to take safety seriously.

Teacher "L" (High School AP teacher) responds: My students think they know what a "weirdo" looks like on line...they don't think that a 32 yr. old could be posing as a student at a local high school! The kids at my school say that nobody really uses My Space anymore and that Facebook is more popular. When our Principal sent a letter warning parents about the dangers of myspace the kids mocked it in the school newspaper.

Are these concerns widespread? What about resources such as CyberSmart, iSafe or NetSmartz? Are parents and schools on the same page? If not, why not?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Tweet Me?

Ok, so I am a little late... but I am now fully "Twittered."

I learned about Twitter a while back, and created my account, but never took much time to really set it up. I wasn't really sure why anyone would really care what I was up to. Today, however, I needed to get a hold of Steve Dembo, who is presenting the luncheon "keynote" at our Summer Experience workshop next week. I wasn't sure about his email address, and even though he was showing up as available on my IM list, he wasn't responding. Well, I knew Steve was a Twitterer, so I dug out my info and logged in. At first I wasn't to sure how to add him to my Twitter list, or post or send a message that he would see, but in a few minutes I figured it out. I was surprised to get an almost instant reply from him in his car!

Of course I then spent the next hour culling through his 180-plus contacts to locate mutual acquaintances, and their mutual "Twitterees" and so on -- and I began building my Twitter list. I've added 34 to my list so far, and (just a few hours later) 10 Twitterers have already responded in kind. What is intriguing is the conversations that occur. It's somewhat like a "live listserv" -- post a thought, question or comment, and someone is back atcha in no time. I have also discovered Twitterific for monitoring the postings.

I'm there!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Prepare to learn!

Last fall, an amazing group of educators convened online for the first ever K-12 online conference. This event was presented to anyone and everyone at no cost, and included an option for receiving graduate credit. The 2006 presentations are archived and available 24/7 at:

This coming fall, it will happen again. From the website (
"This year’s fantastic line up of keynote presenters will create an inviting and welcoming introduction in which the sharing of ideas among diverse learners working in diverse contexts continues. These distinguished folks will not only extend the conversations, but also invite each of us to stretch and grow as they share their expertise and wisdom in their respective strands."

This year's conference strands are, Classroom 2.0, New Tools, Professional Learning Networks, and Obstacles to Opportunities. Check out the list of presentations planned, and mark your calendars now!

This year’s conference is scheduled to be held over two weeks, October 15-19 and October 22-26 of 2007, and will include a pre-conference keynote during the week of October 8. This year’s conference theme is “Playing with Boundaries.”

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Sometimes you just need to "see" it...

Here's a website to help you visualize vocabulary:
From the website:
  • It's a dictionary! It's a thesaurus!
  • Great for writers, journalists, students, teachers, and artists.
  • The online dictionary is available wherever there’s an internet connection.
  • No membership required.
Visuwords™ uses Princeton University’s WordNet, an opensource database built by University students and language researchers. Combined with a visualization tool and user interface built from a combination of modern web technologies, Visuwords™ is available as a free resource to all patrons of the web.

I think a major strong point is the color coding (nouns are blue, verbs are green, etc.)!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Best Experience You'll Have This Summer!

Calling all Northern Illinois educators!! Don't miss this awesome opportunity to enhance your skills for integrating technology in your classroom, and beyond!!

When: August 2 & 3
Where: Adlai E. Stevenson High School
Cost: $100 for both days! Earn CDPUs!!


Register early for the best selection!!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

WHY do YOU teach?

Tell us WHY you teach!
Originally uploaded by charlenechausis
One of my favorite things at NECC this year was the random placement of these acrylic boards, with grease pencils in a cup, inviting participants to share WHY they teach.

Here are some of the comments written:
* For the aha moments!
* For our children.
* To help a child see opportunities!
* To learn more myself.
* Because I love children.
* Making a difference can't be beat.
It just inspires me.
Because I want to change the world.

How about YOU?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Gearing up for NECC

In just a few days I am off to Atlanta to attend ISTE's National Education Computing Conference (NECC). I am looking forward to connecting with educators that I previously have only met online, as well as, catch up with others that I met last year. The best part of NECC is being able to learn from like-minded colleagues -- those who are all passionate about teaching and learning, and infusing technology in the process.

There will be wireless access available at the conference center, so I will be blogging and sharing info as I learn it. And, to make it easy to follow all the blog postings, ISTE has created individual blog tags or labels for each session (and presentation, meeting, lecture, showcase, etc.) to help keep track of all the blog posts and tagged photos from a specific session. Check out the list that Steve Hargedon has assembled at:

So, you too, can attend NECC virtually!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Your opinion matters to U.S....

I know many educators who work hard to integrate the tools of technology in their professional practice. Now is the time step forward and let your voices be heard!! U.S. Dept. of Education Secretary Spellings would like to hear your ideas on the integration of technology in education, and has posted the following 4 questions on the Dept. of Education website:

1. In what ways has technology improved the effectiveness of your classroom, school or district?

2. Based on your role (administrator, parent, teacher, student, entrepreneur, business leader), how have you used educational data to make better decisions or be more successful?

3. In what ways can technology help us prepare our children for global competition and reach our goals of eliminating achievement gaps and having all students read and do math on grade level by 2014?

4. What should be the federal government's role in supporting the use of technology in our educational system?

Please take a moment to provide feedback on these (there is a 1,000 character limit for each answer) -- click here to enter your opinions!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Do you need to send or share large files???

More and more I run across email systems that have file size restrictions for sending attachments. While this may be good for email traffic, it can present a challenge when users want to share large files, such as "giga-pixel" images from the newest digital cameras. The good news is that FREE online options are available.

Of course, before you attempt to send any large file, it's always good practice to use a utility to compress the file (or folder). On the Mac, this is easily accomplished by "zipping" the file or folder:
1) Click once to select (highlight) the file or folder icon
2) From the File menu, select Create archive of "selected_file"
3) The archived file is created, (look for "")

If the compressed file is still too large for your email system, check out:, or (credit and thanks to the wonderful "techtips" posted by Miguel Guhlin).

Of these, my favorite is, a free service that's as easy as 1-2-3:
1) Pick who you want to send a file to (anyone with an email address - and multiple addresses can be entered).
2) "Browse" to select the file on your computer (up to 100 MB in size) -- it can be music, photos, documents, or anything. Your file will be stored by YouSendIt without ever filling up your recipient's mailbox.
3) Click the Send It button. YouSendIt will automatically email your recipient a link to your file stored on the YouSendIt server.

* Files automatically "expire" in 7 days.
* No sign-ups, no passwords required, although signing up provides additional features.
* Advertising supported (this is why it is free).

Another company, provides a 1 GB virtual drive (with individual file size limits of 50 MB). Once loaded, you can set files to be public or private. Note that if you do not login for 30 days, your account and all files are removed.

Friday, May 04, 2007

AP Government Review Goes National!

Adlai E. Stevenson High School Government teachers Andy Conneen and Dan Larsen are taking their Advanced Placement Government Review Show to a national audience on Sunday, May 6. After hosting the country’s only AP Radio Review show on WAES-FM (Stevenson's local radio station) for the last four years, the “2Regular Guys” will take their radio review to Chicago-based WLS-AM 890. The nationally syndicated radio program “Beyond the Beltway” with Bruce Dumont will team with the Stevenson teachers and dedicate its entire program on Sunday (from 6 to 8 p.m.) to helping prepare students for the AP Government test on May 7.

The program also will feature Stevenson seniors Michael Levine and Megha Shankar, who will help a national audience of students prepare for the exam by discussing the political news of the week -- and explaining how the current issues relate to exam topics such as federalism, separation of powers and executive authority. Vanessa Lal Steinkamp also will be an in-studio guest.

Students can contact the show with questions about exam topics by calling 800-723-8289, by emailing, or by joining the online review community at Students will find an excellent online U.S. Constitution Review guide on the blog, and each Friday, these "2Regular Guys" publish the CitizenU podcast, available through iTunes at: pcast://

Beyond the Beltway with Bruce DuMont is a live, weekly program that takes America's political pulse and provides a fresh and balanced perspective of national politics. The program is produced every Sunday night from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago. The radio version of Beyond the Beltway is heard on more than 60 stations from coast to coast. The audio also is streamed live every Sunday at

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Would you agree or disagree?

The issue is "badges." What is your opinion?

For a quick, free and easy method of soliciting opinions on a web page or blog, check out Create an account with nominal info, and you have one mighty tool! But wait, there's more! For each poll you create there is an associated RSS feed. The feed contains an hourly update of your poll results. Drop the RSS into your browser toolbar (this works in both Firefox and Safari) and watch the numbers come in.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Viewing websites without a live connection?

What's the best method for displaying webpages in a presentation, when you don't have Internet access?

This question was posted on a recent listserv. There were several suggestions offered, including taking screen shots, or saving the website as an archive. Some of these may be helpful to you as well.

A simple method for showing web pages offline, is to print the website to "PDF" and use Adobe Reader's "full screen mode" or Preview's "slide show" to present the various pages captured.

I was quite fond of the feature in Internet Explorer for the Mac that allowed users to save a website as an archive for later viewing, or to create a snapshot of the page using the "Scrapbook" feature (is this feature still available in the Windows version ?). In my current version of Safari (2.0.4) you can save as a web archive from the "File" menu:

However, you don't have options to be able to archive more than the current view. (In Explorer you could specify how many levels of "followed links" should be included). If you save it as a web archive, all the graphics are saved and links continue to work as long as the destination webpages are available. Web archives are especially useful for pages that might not be on the web for long, such as receipts.

In Firefox, (version 2.0) users can save as "Web Page, Complete" which save the whole web page along with pictures. This choice allows you to view it as originally shown, but it may not keep the HTML link structure of the original page. Firefox creates a new directory where the page is saved to save pictures and other files necessary to show the whole web page.

iCab, an alternative web browser for Mac, also allows users to archive web sites as many levels deep as they would like.

And, one feature I love in Apple's Keynote program (part of iWork 06), is the ability to insert a "web view" of any website in your presentation.

The nifty part of this is that you can opt to have the view "update automatically" whenever you revisit the presentation (so much better than a screen shot that has to be taken over and over as the website changes), and if you have a live connection, the image can act as a link to the site as well.

If you know you won't have a live connection, be sure to remember to turn it off while your connection is still live, or you will see a blank page during your presentation. The caveat to this is you are unable to scroll down the actual web page, so you are limited to what is viewable when you visit the site -- however, you can "position" the view further down the page.

Finally, there are software applications designed to capture websites such as WebWhacker for the PC, and a $12 shareware application that looks interesting for Mac users called DeepVacuum, available on the Apple downloads page: The description states, "Allows users to download: complete single pages, entire sites, ftp catalogs, link lists from a text file, pictures, music, clips, and more."

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Free "411" Information!

Have you seen this from Google?

Google Voice Local Search is Google’s experimental service to make local-business search accessible over the phone.

To try this service, just dial 1-800-GOOG-411 (1-800-466-4411) from any phone.

Using this service, you can:

  • search for a local business by name or category.
    You can say "Giovanni's Pizzeria" or just "pizza".
  • get connected to the business, free of charge.
  • get the details by SMS if you’re using a mobile phone.
    Just say "text message".

And it's free. Google doesn’t charge you a thing for the call or for connecting you to the business. Regular phone charges may apply, based on your telephone service provider.

Note: Google Voice Local Search is still in its experimental stage. It may not be available at all times and may not work for all users. They're fine-tuning the service to get better at recognizing requests. It’s currently only available in English, in the US, for US business listings.

Monday, April 09, 2007

How About a Fresh Six-Pack!?

Once upon a time, not very long ago, I published a Tuesday Six-Pack -- a weekly "pick of six" websites or tips for integrating technology into education (which has now evolved into this blog). After school last Wednesday, about a half dozen educators joined me in viewing the "Staggeringly Great Things Mixing Media and Google Earth" webinar from the good folks at Discovery Education, and presented by Hall Davidson.

Here are some new links that may be helpful if you are looking for ways to integrate Google Earth into your teaching.

Allows you to place Flickr photos into your Google Earth placemarks

From Apple Distinguished Educator Jerome Burg, this website "recreates the journeys" of characters in literary works such as MacBeth, Candide, The Grapes and Wrath, and more. Click the "Downloads" link at the top of the website to download the Google Earth files.

Public domain videos, sound clips, photos and more for your Google Earth placemark files.

Locate sounds around the Earth, and create "placemark" scavenger hunts.

A resource for learning to use Google Earth

Hall Davidson's blog -- the webinar PowerPoint presentation and resources can be found here.

This 9 minute movie from "The Infinite Thinking Machine" website, named "Calling Planet Earth" is a great follow up to the webinar!
In this video you will learn from students, teachers, and the folks from Google. The video can be downloaded in quicktime for later viewing, and there are valuable links on this page for items mentioned in the video.

Discovery Education has three more webinars planned for this month:
April 11: "unitedstreaming 24/7"
– Lance Rougeux

April 18: "Widgetizing the Builders"
– Steve Dembo

April 25: "Do You Have the Audacity to Podcast?"
– Jannita Demian

You can register for these and participate on your own at:

Friday, March 30, 2007

New Features and Settings on Flickr!

I presented a session titled "My Friend Flickr" at both the January NICE mini-conference and as a breakout session at IL-TCE. I've recorded both sessions, but have only posted the NICE audio file so far. Please visit my "handout" page which will walk you through using Flickr in education.

Great news for educators...
On March 22, 2007, Flickr rolled out content filtering, allowing Flickr users to flag their images as they upload them, and to also set "viewing" and "searching" preferences. I'm happy to report that my account has been reviewed as "Safe" by the Flickr staff -- which according to Flickr, means I am "good at moderating my own content."

"Safe" is one of three filters that can be applied to pictures. The other two filters are "Moderate" (some photos may be considered offensive by some people) and "Restricted" (for photos that are "unsuitable for children, your grandmother or your workmakes").

Flickr now provides a way to only search for "Safe" photos too! You can choose a "safety level" that applies to any site-wide searches you perform while you are logged in, and which can be adjusted on a per search basis using the the advanced search page at: -- note however, the content filter selections only appear when users are logged in.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Best Experience You'll Have All Summer!!

I know it's only Spring break, but now is the time to begin planning your summer and investigating your options for professional development. The Illinois Computing Educators (ICE) will again be offering summer seminar/workshops at various locations (a few will be held at Stevenson).

Also of note...

I am very excited to share that the Western Illinois University College of Education is taking their popular summer workshop on the road! "Summer Experience--North" is coming to Stevenson High School on Thursday and Friday, August 2 and 3!

Summer Experience is two fun-filled, theme-oriented days of hands-on technology integration sessions geared toward K-12 teachers, and sponsored by Western Illinois University's Office of Partnerships, Professional Development and Technology, in the College of Education and Human Services. Attendees receive quality professional development on a variety of current and emerging technologies that can enhance student learning.

For those of you wishing to travel to the campus of Western Illinois University, their dates for Summer Experience are, Wednesday and Thursday, July 25 and 26, 2007. See: for details. Registration will open soon.

Finally, Apple Distinguished Educator, Lucy Gray has posted a comprehensive list of summer opportunities.

So much to learn... so little time!!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

More on Wikis...

In my previous post I invited readers to visit a wiki that was created for connecting the learning of those who attended IL-TCE. If you haven't yet considered using a wiki for your classroom... think again.

Why wikis? A wiki used in a classroom setting could provide an archive of lessons, and a long-term forum, as an archivable and searchable conversation among all members of the classroom — teacher and students. Students may expand on topics as they see fit, and teachers may guide the discussion where needed. It is a “many to many” technology, where knowledge is created for the benefit of all.

Check out Stuart Mader’s list of wikis in education at and Mark Wagner’s online tutorial/presentation on wikis in education presented at the fall "K12 Online Conference" at:

Thanks to two great companies, wikis are FREE and EASY for educators!, where creating a wiki "is a easy as making a peanut butter sandwich" (actually making the sandwich takes longer). If you set up your page in the education” category, it will be ad-free.

If you would like to help spread the word, pbwiki provides "Presenter Packs" which includes a free t-shirt, PowerPoint files and giveaways. See details at:

Just before IL-TCE, I had a great conversation with Ramit Sethi, PBWiki co-founder, about some of the new features and enhancements just released for PBWiki. Listen to this 9-minute phone interview!, will provide an annual “ad free” subscription to educators at no cost (regular $60 per year) Sign up at: Adam Frey, co-founder of, presented several Spotlight sessions at IL-TCE.

I hope you will explore using wikis for your classroom. Remember, you are in control of who can add, edit or view the content. Wikis can be made public or private for your classroom. If you'd like to learn more, or have some guidance in setting up your classroom wiki, I hope to be presenting a summer workshop through ICE. Stay tuned...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Following up on IL-TCE...

A mere two weeks ago I was presenting and attending the Illinois Technology Conference for Educators (IL-TCE). For those who were unable to attend, there are many resources available online. Both the Thursday and Friday keynote speeches were live-streamed and are now archived for your viewing pleasure. New York Times Technology columnist, and an all-around sincerely funny fellow, David Pogue, provided a great kick-off! Also available online are many of the presenters' handouts!

Kudos to Stevenson teachers Laura Brown, Andy Conneen and Dan Larsen for sharing their classroom success stories! Since our district was able to loan some of our laptops for the conference workshops, we earned a set of conference passes. We are sharing our discoveries and experiences from the conference using a wiki. Drop by and see what we have learned!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Sail on John!

One of the major reasons I began this blog, was to share innovative ideas and discoveries supporting education. My intent was to use this space in place of my "Tuesday Six Pack" of Technology Tips, which became a bit too time consuming to maintain as a webpage.

However, today, I have no grand discovery or innovation to share. Instead, I want to use this space to honor a colleague -- John Mundt.

There are certain people that come into our lives and leave a "mark." You know who they are... special people who, in part, define us ... because we are different after having known them. Sometimes they are relatives, friends, teachers, co-workers, neighbors, etc.

John was one of these.

John was the network guru at Stevenson High School until he "retired" in 2003 and went to work as the network administrator at Hawthorn District 73 in Vernon Hills.

One of John's recent email signatures read: "Be not simply good, be good for something." -- Henry David Thoreau. John was more than good for something.

John taught me many things. We once co-taught a workshop on how to set up an email server. I was somewhat knowledgeable about email clients, but didn't have a clue about servers. John provided the learning I needed to appear credible as we shared the podium.

I loved working with John! He had a brilliant mind and was a stellar master of the vernacular. I was continually popping open the dictionary to look up words he used (such as frabjous and aegis). John was certainly not pretentious... he gave credit where credit was due. And, with John, you always knew where you stood.

John was honored for his many contributions to education at the 2005 Illinois Technology Conference for Educators. He was an active presence on a variety of listservs, always sharing his experiences and expertise.

Born in Wisconsin, John was a true "cheesehead" and Packer fan. He was a paddler, and shared great adventure stories.

Yes, John was indeed special.
John passed away yesterday at the age of 60.

Sail on John!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Setting the standards for the future? Refreshing the NETS.

As reported in eSchool news, ISTE ( has released a draft of revised technology standards for students.

ISTE (the International Society for Technology in Education) first issued its NETS (National Education Technology Standards) for students in 1998, which, according to Don Knezek, ISTE's chief executive, identified skills and knowledge for using the tools of technology. According to ISTE, "More than 90 percent of U.S. states have adopted, adapted, or referenced ISTE's NETS in state department of education documents."

The proposed "revised" standards shift the focus to the skills and knowledge that students need to "learn effectively and live productively in an increasingly digital society … to produce and innovate” using technology. ISTE also notes that renewal activities are essential "within an evolving learning landscape, a connected global community, and a context of emerging technologies."

ISTE has put out a call to the educational technology community -- add your voice to the NETS*S Refresh Initiative! Click here to access an online survey

View a pdf of the draft here.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Podcasts! Podcasts! Get Your Podcasts!!

Have you discovered podcasts? Have your students? What do you know about Podcasts? Such as, did you know that Podcasts are basically audio files 'delivered' via the Internet? And, that you do NOT need an iPod or iTunes to listen to a Podcast? (Of course, having an iPod or other MP3 player, allows you to download and listen to the audio at a time convenient for you!)

One of the pieces in the Podcast puzzle is how folks go about "getting" Podcasts. You can easily click and download audio files from a website (but you have to first find the website, and then locate the links to the audio files). However, using a program such as Apple's iTunes (available for both Mac or PC), you can choose to subscribe to a variety of Podcasts (audio content produced on a regular basis), and each time you open iTunes, the most recent Podcasts download into your computer -- for FREE!

What's on your Podcast list? My favorite 'listens' come from educators such as Wesley Fryer, Bud the Teacher, Women of Web 2.0 and David Warlick. And now, Apple Distinguished Educators have begun a new Podcast channel... the Conference Connections, which promises to have a lot of great content coming. Conference Connections debuted last week with 15 episodes recorded at the Florida Educational Technology Conference. This is great for those unable to travel to education conferences! Kudos to the ADEs and the conference speakers who have agreed to make their presentations available online.

So, listen up, and check out the Conference Connections:

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Hey... I created a Widget!

I made a widget this week to countdown the number of days until the IL-TCE Conference!

Widgets are pretty cool. They are small web-based "windows" that work with Mac's OSX Tiger Dashboard, and can be used to display snippets of information, such as stock prices, airfares, weather, or provide quick access to utilities like the dictionary or calculator. And, when active, they float over what is on your screen. On the Mac, you can bring up widgets by clicking the Dashboard icon on the Dock, or by pressing the F12 key. On the new "Mighty Mouse", the tiny scroll button, when pressed, activates the widgets -- teachers in the lab often are surprised when they press this while scrolling and the widgets pop up!

What if you wanted to create a widget, how would you go about it?

The first step is to figure out what makes up a widget. The Apple website is a good place to start. The Apple Developer Page has a tutorial to make a basic "Hello World" widget.

Basically, widgets are a combination of html, images and some special Javascript files, all "packaged" together. Control + click on the widget's icon (in your "House" > "Library" > "Widgets" folder) and you can "Show Package Contents." Once the package is open, you can edit and view the html file in a web editor/browser.

My IL-TCE Countdown widget (available on the ICE website) is a reworked version of the "Christmas is Coming" widget, originally created by Jonathan Gardner of Gardner Designs,. Jonathan graciously replied to my email, and granted permission to publish this!!

Monday, January 08, 2007

How "green" is your car?

File this under "Your Tax Dollar$ at Work"... from the U.S. Dept. of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, this website provides Gas mileage (MPG), greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution ratings, and safety information for new and used cars and trucks. Compare vehicles side by side, find your car's Energy Impact Score, get tips on gas mileage, investigate the best and worst MPG vehicle ratings, link to local gas prices, and more. Visit:

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

How geeks show they care...

... is the byline of GeoGreetings, a website that creates a message composed with "letter shaped" images (roofs of buildings for example) from Google Earth's satellite imagery. Type up to 40 characters and copy the url into an email to send your message. And, to make it easy for others to access the link, shorten it using "" -- so instead of the 53 character link of:*D+cuUhiZi, Tiny URL shortened my greeting to: -- see what message the surface of the earth holds for you!