Saturday, December 12, 2009

Happy Holidays

Google hosted another teacher academy in Washington D.C. last week, so there has been a bit of activity and discussion among the Google Certified Teachers. Kern Kelley shared some tips for using Google Gadgets on a Google spreadsheet, such as this "Word Search" gadget. (Read his blog for more tips.)

Enjoy this holiday word search (click and drag your mouse over words you find):

Here's more on how the gadget works.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Are you and your students blogging yet?

Stevenson teacher Chris Salituro ("Sal"), has been interacting online with his Sociology students for some time. Several years ago Sal began extending his classroom discussions beyond the school day using an online discussion board. Web-based tools have improved over the years, and through that experience, Sal has transitioned his Sociology class discussions into a "Ways of Thinking" classroom blog. Sal recently shared his rationale for using a blog, and has granted me permission to publish his comments here.
My use of blogging was a long time in developing. I was always reluctant to simply use technology for the sake of technology. But as blogging became more popular and the technology became more available I decided that blogging would be a way of using technology to educate students in a way that was previously impossible.

First, the rise of blogging in general seems to necessitate, to me, a blogging literacy among students. A number of our grads have gone on to work in media and they have returned to school to emphasize the multi-media explosion of the last few years. For example, one student works for Fox and he is producer, but he also does on-air reporting and throughout the last presidential campaign he maintained a blogsite for Fox that would be updated throughout the day. Many other traditional news sources such as newspapers are turning to blogging as well. My first goal is to introduce students to this up and coming trend.

Second, I have been very aware of the change from a producer to a consumer society. We have become a nation of consumers. By creating a blog, it makes students producers again. The student-managed blogs are productive in that students are producing their own writing and thoughts. Blogging is unique in that it allows for a forum for students to produce something that reaches millions of people. The seriousness and meaningfulness of blogging changes the dynamics of what would be a traditional assignment. Rather than a journal that is turned in to a teacher and then discarded, the blog is something that can be accessed by the general public. One example from my own life recently is that I was googling an article that we read last year in class because I couldn't find my copy of it. The first few yields of the google search were my previous students' blogs about the article. Now I not only had the article I was looking for, but I also had the context with which we discussed it in class. Students are now helping to produce the content of the class, and content for anyone with the Internet to see.

Along the lines of being productive, the third point about blogging that I have found to be transformational is that it requires students to take the class content and apply it to their own lives. In doing so, and in sharing this application, the students become teachers for themselves. In other words, I am not the only one giving examples of our lesson to the students, but now the students are giving each other a lesson as well. I do not want students to be simple consumers of my sociology, but I want them to produce their own sociology that I can learn from as well. With the blog I am finding more and more that students have insights and stories to share that add to our understanding of the content, and these stories would not be available without the blogging.

One of the reasons that the student insights are available because of blogging is the limited amount of classroom time. The blog is an unlimited classroom where students can read as much as they want and are free to share as much as they want. On the blog, I never have to say to students, “Okay, we have to move on.” This virtual classroom allows motivated and interested students to be as involved as they would like to be, without dominating the class. Incidentally, this has been really useful in terms of absences. My classes have a notoriously high absence rate. When students return and ask, “What did I miss?” I say, “Check the blog.”

Lastly, I have always been wary of what we were measuring with our objective tests. The blog is a type of online portfolio that allows real assessment of a student’s grasp of the subject matter and the student’s ability to apply that subject matter to his/her real life.

If you are a teacher who is "still on the fence" about whether blogging is worth the time and effort for you and/or your students, I hope that Sal's comments help you decide in favor of allowing your students to move from being only consumers of content, into the roles of knowledge producers and contributors to the stories that "add to our understanding of the content."

K12 Online Conference starts this week

The K12 Online Conference 2009 begins this week! This year’s conference begins with a pre-conference keynote by classroom teacher and international educator Kim Cofino (

The 2009 conference theme is “Bridging the Divide.” K12 Online 2009 is a FREE conference, run by volunteers and open to ANYONE interested in integrating emerging technologies into classroom practice. A primary goal of the conference is to help educators make sense of and meet the needs of a continually changing learning landscape. Live events and twice-monthly webcasts will continue into 2010 via EdTechTalk, and Professional Development Credit is available.

The following two weeks, December 7-11 and December 14-17, over fifty presentations will be posted online to the conference blog ( and Ning ( ) for participants to view, download, and discuss.

Live Events in the form of three “Fireside Chats” are listed on the events page of the conference Ning and Facebook fan page, and live events will continue in 2010 through twice-monthly “K-12 Online Echo” webcasts on EdTechTalk. Everyone is encouraged to participate in both live events during and after the conference as well as asynchronous conversations.

Over 122 presentations from 2008, 2007, and 2006 are available, along with archived live events. Follow the K12 Online Conference on Twitter ( ) and Facebook ( )!

To participate and begin learning, visit

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hope for schools of the future?

My niece Katelin is a student at Illinois State University, studying to become a Special Education teacher. She is also a recent Golden Apple Scholar awardee. In her EAF (Education and Foundation) 228 class, she was assigned to write her reflection on the state of education in the U.S. ... and to be creative. She has written the following poem (which she has given me permission to share). I applaud her ideas about schools needing "positive attitudes, high spirits, hope, and caring people" as critical resources. It's her hope for schools of the future. What do you think? Please feel free to leave a comment for Katie.

The State of Education

Geoffrey Canada once shouted through poetry to take a stand
An equal education is all we demand
But is it really equal?
We claim that our education is free
But since we’ve enforced NCLB
All our teachers are paying with time.
Precious time, our teachers invest.
Just so their schools can pass a standardized test
And keep what resources they have.
I worry about it as a teacher in training
That when I get there, my time will be draining
And I’ll miss those teachable moments.
I worry about the state education is in
Its imbalances are practically a sin
Children don’t have the same opportunities
Students up in the wealthy suburbs
Get all that a student deserves
And then grow up to be a success
While on the other side of town
School enrollment is down
Teachers are in a state of distress.
Because their school doesn’t get
Brand new laboratory sets
Or books with fresh, crisp pages
They just want what every school needs
And hopes to exceed
Society’s expectation of them.
I worry with my peer, Mae
who had much to say
about the schools on the other side of town.
She said its ignorant to be color blind
For these poor students you’ll find
Are no different from anyone else.
They start off with hope, but it becomes hard to cope
In a neighborhood that deals with dope,
Alcohol. Gangs. Fear.
Everything I’ve seen and everything I knew
Cannot compare to what these students have been through
They’ve had to give their education to chance.
Mae agrees that they easily fall
Into statistics, and find it harder to crawl
Out of the labels they’ve been given.
How its always the minorities
Getting gypped by the authorities
Because they’re low income, low property tax.
Their test scores are skewed,
They’re wrongfully viewed,
All they need is a chance.
Mae’s father says times have changed
Plans must now be arranged
To have a concentration in school
And to go onto college
And expand that specific knowledge
To excel in today’s society at all.
Such wisdom was passed to Mae
Who had something to say
Growing up in a white middle class suburb
Although her neighborhood changed
And races were rearranged
She never found it strange to adapt to.
She feels you could have the best schools
And still educate fools
Resources aren’t the only factor
While another school could be falling down
Yet have the brightest kids around,
All it takes is a chain reactor:
Positive attitudes, high spirits, hope, caring people.
American education is doing its best
To teach students from east to west
Lessons of the world around them.
These are the words of Miss Mae
But my opinions must stray
From something which sounds so clear.
For I feel education is split
Into a wide open pit
And all that is seen is an achievement gap
That must immediately be closed
Despite those who are opposed
To spend their tax dollars on proper education for all kids.
There are those who are with me
And those who disagree
One day I hope to resolve
We must all lend a hand
And together take a stand.
To fight such a huge discrepancy.

- by Katelin Johnson

Monday, October 12, 2009

Wolfram|Alpha Homework Day, Oct. 21

Last May I posted information about the debut of Wolfram|Alpha -- a website providing "free access to computable knowledge in nearly every imaginable subject area. Whether you're working on problem sets, papers, or projects, Wolfram|Alpha's algorithms compute answers that can help you not only complete your assignments but take your understanding of the subject to the next level." (Learn more about Wolfram|Alpha in this 12-minute screencast)

Now that school has started, Wolfram|Alpha is hosting a Homework Day on Wednesday, October 21, where "attendees" can:
*Learn tips and tricks to make schoolwork more fun,
*Chat with the experts behind Wolfram|Alpha, and
*Be a part of the webcast and win prizes

Wolfram|Alpha is soliciting homework questions or video clips showing how Wolfram|Alpha is being used in Math, Biology, Computer Science, Calculus, Chemistry, Finance, Physics, Astronomy, or ??? Visit the Wolfram|Alpha homework day website to submit your questions or videos... then visit the site on Oct. 21 to see whether your question or video is featured.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Your Vote Can Help Change the World!

Last September, 2008, Google launched a contest called Project 10^100 -- it was a "call for ideas to change the world by helping as many people as possible." Almost a year later, it's time to choose!

More than 150,000 ideas were submitted from people in more than 170 countries, which has been narrowed down to 16 possible "big ideas" --

Create genocide monitoring and alert system
Create real-world issue reporting system
Collect and organize the world's urban data
Create real-time natural crisis tracking system
Make government more transparent

Enhance science and engineering education
Make educational content available online for free
Encourage positive media depictions of engineers and scientists
Provide quality education to African students

Energy: Drive innovation in public transport

Everything Else: Build real-time, user-reported news service

Environment: Work toward socially conscious tax policies

Health: Promote health monitoring and data analysis

Build better banking tools for everyone
Help social entrepreneurs drive change

Shelter: Create more efficient landmine removal programs

When deciding how to vote, consider the following criteria:
Reach: How many people would this idea affect?
Depth: How deeply are people impacted? How urgent is the need?
Attainability: Can this idea be implemented within a year or two?
Efficiency: How simple and cost-effective is your idea?
Longevity: How long will the idea's impact last?

Google is committing $10 million to implement these projects, and their goal is to help as many people as possible. So remember, money may provide a jumpstart, but the idea is the thing.
Voting is open now, until October 8!

Here's YOUR chance to build a better world. Note... you may only cast one vote for the idea you think is best.

I just love "feel-good" stories!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What are your technology goals this year?

Welcome back to school! The 2009-10 school year is just getting underway. Each year, we ask teachers to reflect on their use of technology and to set personal learning goals (relating to technology integration) for the upcoming year. Often, teacher learning goals are "skill-based" or pertain to increasing productivity (learn to use Excel, Word, PowerPoint, or learn to manage email, or post assignments online, etc.). Although these technology "skills" are important, it is equally important to consider ways in which technology used by the teacher, will directly impact student learning, and consider what will "success" look like? For the teacher? For the student?

Once goals are set, the next step is to and locate resources to help teachers reach their objectives. Is there another teacher who can help? What is available online? What workshops or after school classes can be offered?

To borrow from a recent presentation, Information Literacy and the Internet– Managing the Change, by Lanie Rowell, here are some ideas to begin thinking about your professional learning goals for the coming year. How will you ...
Use technology to...
  • Create students who are information literate
  • Motivate students to learn 24/7
  • Provide students with reasons and opportunities to connect globally
  • Give students an authentic purpose and audience
  • Encourage creativity and passion by utilizing their strengths and interests
  • Engage the learner and allow them opportunities to become more actively involved in their education as well as develop critical thinking skills
  • Act as facilitators guiding students to choose the right tools, find answers, and make decisions
Successful integration of technology extends beyond "basic skills" -- as you plan, consider how technology can transform both your teaching and student learning.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Gear up for Back to School with an online calendar

Scott Meech recently shared this article by Jon Wittwer of Vertex42* on "Embedding Google Spreadsheets Into Your Blog or Website."

As you gear up for back to school, consider Wittwer's examples of using a spreadsheet as a calendar for your class, sport, or activity schedule. And if you don't feel like creating your own, you are welcome to use any of their preformatted Google calendars:

*Vertex42: The Guide to Excel in Everything website provides a large library of free Excel templates for calendars, schedules, budgets, project management, loan calculators, and more!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Archiving images from the past...

Not sure what's available in your area, but if you live in Chicagoland, I found this as I was going through the weekly "ads" this morning. Time to get out your old photo albums and go digital!

From Kodak: Rapid Print Scanner Service, "Exclusively at Jewel-OSCO" -- prints to digital in minutes. You can archive up to 200 photographs on a CD for only $9.99...

Archive images from the past with their easy-to-use scanner.
1. Choose up to 200 images
2. Load 20 at a time (up to 8 x 10)
3. Scan in minutes
4. Create prints, photo gifts or store images on a Kodak Picture disk.

Perhaps this would make a nice summer project?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Build Vocabulary with Google Gadgets

Google developers will be gathering for their annual conference this week, which means information consumers (you and me) can look forward to some new Google tools or features, such as the Flash Cards, Word Study and Word Search gadgets recently announced on the Google Docs Blog:

If you are a user of Google Docs, open a new spreadsheet, and select "Insert > Gadget" from the menu:

Or, open a "Gadget-containing" document from the Template Gallery (New > From Template). If you have not yet browsed the many templates available for students and teachers, it's worth a look!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Wolfram|Alpha: Making the World's Knowledge Computable

Wolfram|Alpha came online at 7 pm CDT on Friday, May 15. I had first heard of Wolfram|Alpha from a NY Times clipping shared with me by a teacher at school this week. Until I actually "saw" it, I had no idea of the power of this new web resource, and the impact it can have for learners everywhere! Wolfram|Alpha was conceived by "Mathematica creator and scientist Stephen Wolfram as a way to bring computational exploration to the widest possible audience." From the website:

Wolfram|Alpha's long-term goal is to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone. We aim to collect and curate all objective data; implement every known model, method, and algorithm; and make it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything. Our goal is to build on the achievements of science and other systematizations of knowledge to provide a single source that can be relied on by everyone for definitive answers to factual queries.

Take a peak at the sample topics and examples of data you can retrieve at which include Mathematics, Statistics, Physics, Chemistry, Engineering, Astronomy, Weather, Socioeconomic Data, Health and Medicine, Food and Nutrition, Words and Linguistics, Places and Geography, Sports, Music, Money and more.

I would also highly encourage you to view Stephen Wolfram's 13-minute screencast "Introduction to Wolfram|Alpha" to experience the scope of information you can retrieve on the Wolfram|Alpha website or view this shorter version (Part 1) posted on YouTube:

And, for a bit of background .…
Stephen Wolfram introduced the Wolfram|Alpha project during a recent webcast from The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University:

Learn more about Stephen Wolfram from this 2003 University of California lecture, "A New Kind of Science" available on


Saturday, May 09, 2009

A Twitter Journey reveals "2 Days to Launch!"

This morning's Twitter journey began with a post by @unklar (aka Mark Dunk, an educator from Houston) who tweeted, "@Astro_127 I was nominated to be in mission control for your flight! I'm hoping to hear something soon (hopeful that I'm "approved")" and also, "@Astro_Mike good luck! fix that hubble space telescope for all of us!"

Clicking on "Astro_127" in @unklar's update took me to the Twitter page of Mark Polansky, an astronaut who joined Twitter on May 7th. As of today, Mark has 2,200 followers. Mark shares some good advice on his Twitter stream, "You're never too old to study and learn."

Astro_Mike is astronaut Mike Massimino, a mission specialist for STS-125: Final Shuttle Mission to Hubble Space Telescope. Mike has been tweeting since the beginning of April and has 199,447 followers!

Although these astronauts have many followers, Polansky only follows NASA, and Massimino follows NASA and one other Twitterer. I appreciate the information being shared, and hope that they will join the conversations that are being "@"-ed their way!

Clicking through to the NASA Twitter stream, I learned:
"Countdown sign along the road shows two days until the launch of Discovery!" <-- this links to the Flickr page of NASA HQ -- currently 265 images posted from NASA.

I'm not sure what @unklar's tweet about being in mission control was all about, but it started me on a journey that led to the discovery of some great resources from the U.S. Space program. I think it would be exciting to tune in from your classroom and get the latest updates directly from the people involved in these missions! This is an example of how Twitter can be used for education... and if it's blocked in your school, your children are missing out.

Yes, there has been a lot of press lately about Twitter: "It's a waste of time... Who cares what I am doing?" For those who have been "Tweeting" for some time, we appreciate the value of Twitter. We love the connections that Twitter provides into the "happenings" of those we follow -- our chosen "network" of friends and associates (who often become our friends). It's so much more than "what are you doing?" In Twitterverse we "tune into" to the thoughts, ideas, discoveries, successes, disappointments and failures posted by our colleagues -- and we share in kind. We stumble onto websites, learn of new books, review movies and TV shows (sometimes during the broadcasts), find deals to be had and contests to enter. We congratulate one another, offer hugs, encouragement, and ask questions -- our Twitter network is our lifeline. It's something you have to experience, to really "get it."

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Social Networking and Teens: What Parents Need to Know

Today I am presenting a session on "Social Networking and Teens: What Parents Need to Know" as part of a 5-week Parent Breakfast Series at Stevenson High School, hosted by Jerry Franklin, academic counselor and Lisa Franz, school social worker. The goal of these meetings is to provide a forum to "discuss some of the challenges parents raising teenagers face during adolescent development. This group will provide information, strategies, mutual support and resources for parents who would like to gain an increased understanding of their children while improving their parenting approach."

Here is a link to the audio file of the presentation.

Here are links to resources mentioned:

Project Tomorrow

Digital Youth Project

Danah Boyd, Researcher

Danah Boyd on YouTube

PEW Internet Report: Social Networking Websites and Teens

Five Years of Free Friendship – Facebook commentary

10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know

Readers Digest May 2009 Report

New NSBA Report on Social Networking

Digital Dossier

CyberSmart Curriculum

And the slides from the presentation

Special thanks to Steve Dembo, of Discovery Education for his help and sharing his resources.

Additional websites shared during the presentation:

Monday, April 27, 2009

AP Government Exam Review!!

High school students around the country who will be taking the Advanced Placement Government and Politics exam on May 4 are invited to take part in two live, call-in review programs featuring a pair of Stevenson teachers. AP Government teachers Dan Larsen and Andrew Conneen will appear on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” program from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. (Central time) on Saturday, May 2. They will take questions from students preparing for the annual exam. Students can call 202-737-0001 with their questions.

Larsen and Conneen also will be on Chicago radio station WIND-AM (560) with a live AP Government review call-in show from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. (Central time) Sunday, May 3. Students also can listen live online at Students can call in with questions at 312-642-5600.

Students unable to get their calls answered during the programs can visit the teachers’ blog at, where Stevenson AP teachers, students and alumni will help answer last-minute questions.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Present at the 2010 ASCD Annual Conference!!

From Dennis Richards for the Learning Beyond Boundaries Team:
ASCD is now accepting proposals for the 2010 Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas, March 6–8. You may submit proposals for concurrent or research sessions. Proposals are due May 1, 2009. ASCD has invited the Learning Beyond Boundaries network to work with the conference planners to shape the technology infused education sessions. Even though you have to apply through the ASCD proposal site, entering your proposal on this matrix will ensure that your proposal is given due consideration.

We have already "seeded" the matrix with some topics, some of which we know should be covered in session proposal submissions, and we encourage you to feel free to enter session proposal information for any of the topics that you feel comfortable addressing. Or if you have suggestions for topics / presenters, let us know those as well.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

You're invited to be a "virtual school board member"

I came across this blog post today from Karl Fisch at Arapaho High School in Littleton, CO. and I wanted to share it for several reasons:

1. It showcases authentic learning and student collaboration on a "real-world" problem (book selection), and how students will be presenting their findings and seeking input from a "real" audience (school board members).
2. It is a great example of how technology is being used for instruction, learning through collaboration, and sharing beyond the "4 walls of the classroom."
3. Karl Fisch has invited "YOU" to participate.... virtually...

Here are the details:
Anne Smith and Maura Moritz are having their ninth graders choose a book, read it, and then discuss it in small groups. That’s not all that different than what has been going on in Language Arts classrooms for quite a while, but they’re extending the idea just a little bit. The students chose books that are somewhat controversial (1984, The Fountainhead, I Robot, Little Brother, Anthem, I Am the Cheese) and have either been challenged or banned by school districts around the country (to be clear, not necessarily our school district). The students will read and discuss the books and then have to prepare a presentation for the school board arguing either in favor of approving the book for use or defending blocking its use. They’ll follow our district’s process for book approvals (pdf). In Anne’s case they are also using a Google Site with integrated Google Groups to help organize their thinking and collaboratively plan their presentations.

When the presentations are ready, the students – for their final exam – will actually make the presentation to selected members of our own school board that we’ve invited to hear the presentations. The school board members will listen to the presentation, ask questions, make them defend their positions, and generally be – well, school board members.

There’s only one problem with this plan. Some of our school board members already have commitments during our final exam times (pesky little things like graduation ceremonies for our sister high schools, for example). Hmm, what to do? I know, invite other folks in to be “school board members.” What other folks, you ask? Well, you, for example. ......


Friday, April 03, 2009

No Future Left Behind?

Kudos to these students for articulating what they would like to see in their future.

This video, created as the Keynote for Net Generation Education Project:, was written and performed by the students. Editing was done by educators Peggy Sheehy, Suffern Middle School and Marianne Malmstrom, The Elisabeth Morrow School.

Are you ready?

Spring into Action on April 25!

Saturday, April 25, 2009 - 8 AM to 3 PM (CDT)

Spring Into Action with the Discovery Educator Network (DEN) and join thousands of educators who are passionate about integrating media into their instruction and collaborating with each other to improve student achievement. During this unique (and free) professional development event you have the flexibility to attend online (from any Internet connection) or in-person at Meridian Middle School in Buffalo Grove.

The day will feature a special presentation from Chris Lehman, Principal of the Science Leadership Academy in the School District of Philadelphia. Entitled Building School 2.0, Lehman's presentation will examine ideas of constructivist pedagogy and the use of 21st century tools to create schools that are engaging, caring and relevant places of learning for everyone involved.

Come for all or part of the day. Breakfast and Lunch will be provided at Meridian. (You'll have to provide your own meals if you attend virtually.)

Here's a sampling of the sessions to be presented virtually in the webinar room. There may be local breakout sessions planned as well.

8-9: Keynote / Benjamin Button Effect - Lance Rougeux
9-10: Virtual Breakout / Turning Data Into Action: Exploring the reporting features of Discovery Education streaming - Matt Monjan
10-11: Virtual Breakout / Sowing Seeds of Success Part 1 - Projects, Ideas and Tips from STAR Discovery Educators
11-12: Keynote / Building School 2.0 - Chris Lehmann
12-1: Virtual Breakout / Closing the Global Achievement Gap: Beyond Test-Prep, Toward Life-Prep - Brad Fountain
1- 2: Virtual Breakout / The Impact of IT in RTI - Hardin Daniel
2-3: Virtual Breakout / Sowing Seeds of Success Part 2 - More Projects, Ideas and Tips from STAR Discovery Educators

Register online for either the virtual or in-person event:

Monday, March 23, 2009

Marzano on Student Achievement and Technology

From the (California Computer Users in Education ) CUE 2009 Conference on March 6, 2009, Dr. Robert Marzano addresses the question "What do we know about the effects of technology on student achievement?"

Dr. Marzano speaks about several areas of his ongoing research.
1) Interactive whiteboards (Promethean) and "voters:"
Findings show that when good instruction and technology is combined, a typical student could realize more than a 30 percentile gain in achievement, if that student is in a classroom with an experienced teacher who has been using this technology for 2 years, uses it about 75% of the time in class, and has had enough training to be confident in using it. Marzano also talks about effective questioning techniques when using handheld voters.

2) Formative assessment and record keeping using technology:
Marzano shares the effects on different types of feedback provided to students, to help them improve their learning. He also talks about considerations when designing formal and informal assessments and rubrics, and the importance of not relying on what the "computer" calculates as a final grade.

Part 1: (24 min)

Part 2: (12 min)

Thursday, February 05, 2009

How do you define/measure tech literacy?

Tracy Murdach recently shared an article titled "Tech Literacy Confusion" by Andrew Totter, published online 1/21/09 at Education Week's Digital Directions. Trotter mentions the NCLB goal to promote technology literacy:
"Government efforts to promote technology literacy culminated at the federal level in a national goal, adopted seven years ago in the No Child Left Behind Act, that all students be technology-literate by 8th grade. The federal law left it to states, however, to define the concept and persuade schools to teach it."
The author mentions several companies offering technology literacy products, but not those offering literacy assessment tools. InfoSource Learning's free "SimpleAssessment" and Atomic Learning's subscription-based service are among online measurement tools to consider.

Please share 1) how are you defining technology literacy, 2) what you use to measure it, and 3) how is the data being shared within your education community.

Thank you for your feedback.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Web 2.0 Call for Lesson Plans Proposal

Call for Proposals: Web 2.0 Lesson Plans
Deadline for Submission: March 1, 2009

Based on the success of Lesson Plans for Creating Media-Rich Classrooms, a 2007 publication of the National Council of Teachers of English, a proposal is being developed for a second book of lesson plans that would offer a range of practical activities for high school and middle school teachers to integrate Web 2.0 skills into existing English language arts curricula. These lesson plans will be connected by introductory material that defines the concepts of multimodal literacies and the emergence of Web 2.0 skills as essential to developing a fully literate student in a media saturated, technology-rich world. These lessons can, and will, range from basic entry-level activities to ones that require more advanced and mastery-level skills.

Refer to a copy of Lesson Plans for Creating Media-Rich Classrooms, edited by Mary T. Christel and Scott Sullivan, for examples of the lesson plan format.
[See ]

Click here for lesson plan details and link for downloading a form for submission.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Documenting a historic day....

Just in case you wanted to document this historic day....
From Popular Science comes this amazing photo of today's festivities in D.C.

And for a closer view (on the ground), at this moment, nearly 3,000 Flickr users have uploaded more than 7,400 photos to the Flickr "Inauguration" group,

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Some things you might not realize about Google searching

In this 7+ minute video, Google Engineer Matt Cutts shares some of the "little-known" features of Google searching. Did you know that Google can track your delivery items, convert currency, define words, besides restricting your searches to certain file types or websites? Learn when to use quotes, dashes and asterisks to narrow your results.

Thanks to Scott Weidig for sharing this on his blog.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Google Releases Picasa Desktop Version for Mac!

Reprinted from
by Jonathan Seff,
Google on Monday afternoon released a public beta of its Picasa for Mac desktop software for organizing, editing, and uploading photos. The software, which runs on Intel Macs with OS X 10.4 or later, marks the first time that Picasa has been offered for the Mac (it joins the Windows and Linux versions already available).

The free Picasa software is designed to help you organize your photos, regardless of where they reside on your computer. It imports (without moving or copying) photos from your iPhoto library and other folders on your Mac, including external hard drives if so desired (it's designed not to affect your iPhoto library, duplicating files as needed). It also includes many editing tools, such as those for straightening, text generation, create collages, and removing red eye, as well as Photoshop-like effects and adjustments.
I think the best feature of the Picasa software is the fact that my picture files get to stay where they are (since I have so many photos, and I do not keep all of them in iPhoto... I only add my favorites, or those that I will be using in presentations, slideshows, or movies.) And, Picasa scans and displays the photos in your 'iPhoto Library' as read-only files. If you try to edit or move these photos, Picasa will ask your permission to create a new editable copy. Learn more about how Picasa handles your iPhoto Library.

The editing features include the ability to add text and captions to images, as well as "combine your photos, videos, and music into a movie or use the editing room to trim your existing movies."

The "collage" tool provides slick rotating, zooming, background color and text options that make it easy to create a page for your digital scrapbooks, and Picassa automatically saves the file in a folder named "Collages" which resides in your "House > Pictures > Picasa"folder.

There is also a very "Photo-story-ish" movie maker, that will create slides (including title slides) set to music or just automatically moving through the images, complete with transition effects.

There are "easy-buttons" on the bottom of the editor to send your completed masterpiece(s) to your blog, email client, a folder, or to upload to the free online Picasa web gallery:

Download Picasa for your Mac at:

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Teaching and Guiding Networked Students Requires a Commitment to Learning

Wendy Drexler's video about the "Networked Student" illustrates not only the changing role of the student, but also the changing role of educators in 21st Century classrooms.

About this video: "The Networked Student was inspired by CCK08, a Connectivism course offered by George Siemens and Stephen Downes during fall 2008. It depicts an actual project completed by Wendy Drexler's high school students. The Networked Student concept map was inspired by Alec Couros' Networked Teacher. I hope that teachers will use it to help their colleagues, parents, and students understand networked learning in the 21st century."

21st Century educators need to make a commitment to continuous learning, and become networked teachers, so that our students will be prepared to handle the vast amount of information available to them, and be able to share their learning in meaningful ways. How can you be a learning concierge, a modeler, a network sherpa, change agent, or synthesizer of information for your students? Consider joining the conversations in an online community such as Classroom 2.0, a social network for educators, where you will find an abundance of resources, discussion forums and learning opportunities, such as live (and archived) web meetings.