Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Google Earth: Small World, Your World, Our World

You are always looking for new ways to make learning fun, authentic, and exciting while battling hectic schedules and limited time.

This Apple Learning Interchange guide will show you how to integrate this amazing resource into daily lessons in everything from geography to math.

Writing Tip Archive

This Writing Tip Archive will help your students be better writers. Included are tips such as ...
and many more.

You can subscribe to have new writing tips sent to your email as they are added.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Create Your Own Front Page

You can create your own newspaper article with the Newspaper Clipping Generator. I learned about this from an April 18th Techlearning article.

Think about how you can use this with your students:

  • You can use this as a way to motivate or engage your students about a new project or assignment.
  • Have your students create a clipping for a writing assignment.
  • Have students create a clipping as part of their history assignment from the time period they are studying.

Create an article of your own:

  1. Go to Newspaper Clipping Generator
  2. Fill in the fields for...
    • Name of your newspaper
    • Date of your article
    • Headline for your article
    • Your own news story
  3. Click the Generate button at the bottom of the page.

How to use your clipping:

  1. Click the Click here to save your newspaper. This saves your clipping as a .jpg file.
  2. You can either insert your image into a PowerPoint presentation, Word document, Video, Website, or blog.

There are a number of other things you can do on this site, too.

Caught on Video

More than twenty ideas for effective ways to use video cameras in the classroom ...

Techlearning >> Caught on Video > April 22, 2008

Monday, April 21, 2008

Scroll Through Image Search Results with This Slick Interface

From the land down under comes a slick, new way to view Google image search results.

Using an interface very much like iTunes cover flow, CreativSpace allows you to scroll through the results of an image search powered by Google in much the same way you scroll through album art in iTunes.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Speed Your Work with Keyboard Shortcuts

Working on a laptop without a mouse can sometimes be difficult, particularly the Thinkpads we are using with only the little red button with which to navigate. Knowing some keyboard shortcuts can make your work easier and faster. Here are some of the more common ones you might find helpful:

COPY: ctrl+c
PASTE: ctrl+v
UNDO: ctrl+z

PRINT: ctrl+p
SAVE: ctrl+s
CLOSE: ctrl+F4
EXIT: alt+F4


MOVE CURSOR TO FRONT OF NEXT WORD: ctrl+--> (right arrow)


See a complete list of Windows keyboard shortcuts.

Most applications also have their own keyboard shorts. These are often shown to the right of menu item in the drop-down menus.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Free Alternatives to MS Office

Often students begin work on a project in class where they have access to Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, but when they get home they are not able to continue their work because they don't have these programs on their personal computers.

Here are some free solutions that will resolve that issue. You owe it to your students to make them aware of these alternatives.

Online Options

Google Docs.
Google Docs offers word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation capabilities. It integrates with most other Google applications like Blogger and Gmail. I'm writing this Blogger post using Google Docs. MS Office documents (*.doc, *.xls, *.ppt) can be imported, as well as Rich Text (*.rtf), plain text (*.txt), and OpenDocument (*.odw, *.ods) and CSV formats. Documents edited and created in Google Docs can be saved and downloaded in MS Office formats as well as HTML and PDF. The appearance of the toolbars and the layout differ a bit from the usual office application appearance, but not so much that it's a problem to be productive quickly. In my opinion, Google Docs seems to be the fastest solution.
Zoho. A full range of office-type tools come from Zoho. In addition to the usual word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation choices, there are tools for note-taking, group collaboration, databases, planner, and more. You can import the MS Office formats plus Open Document format, OpenOffice (*.sxi, *.sxw, *.sxw), CSV, and TSV. Documents can be exported in most of those formats as well as XML, HTML, and PDF. Word processor documents can be exported as MS Office 2007 documents (*.docx). It does not appear that presentations can be exported. I had some problems importing a presentation in PowerPoint format, but the same presentation imported perfectly in OpenDocument format. The toolbars and layout are very similar to the style of MS Office 2003 making the learning curve relatively soft. Zoho Writer documents can be saved and accessed offline using, ironically, Google Gears. Google Docs has yet to implement this feature.
Desktop Options OpenOffice. OpenOffice is a powerful, full-featured, open-source office productivity suite that includes word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, database, drawing, and equation tools. OpenOffice supports nearly all commonly used document formats including the OpenDocument formats and the new MS Office 2007 formats. Presentations can be exported as Flash video (*.swf) that can be viewed in most web browsers. The customizable interface is very much in the classic MS Office style making it easy to adapt to and use productively. One shortcoming is that in my use, it opens a bit slower than MS Office. OpenOffice comes in Windows, Mac, and Linux flavors. NeoOffice is a version of OpenOffice designed specifically for the Mac.
AbiWord. If you want nothing more than a word processor, AbiWord may be for you. AbiWord is an open-source word processor similar to MS Word both in function and appearance though the icons are much bigger. Most of the common word processor functions are included. It is faster to open and uses less memory than either MS Word or OpenOffice Writer. The document format support is more limited than most of the other solutions.
Hybrid Option. ThinkFree Office. The best of both worlds is what ThinkFree Office tries to deliver with both an online and a desktop suite that sync together. There are word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation tools. It has the look and feel of the MS Office suite. It can be used only as an online application or only as a desktop application. The Java-based desktop version requires a small download and installation to your hard drive. Of all the choices presented here, this is the slowest based on my experience. ThinkFree supports the following file formats: MS Word, RTF, Adobe's SVG, plain text, PDF, Excel formats, as well as XML, HTML, CSV (Comma Separated Values), and PowerPoint formats.
This is not an exhaustive list of the free alternatives to Microsoft Office. I have used all of these to some extent. Depending on your specific needs, one or more of the above solutions will probably work for you. Try them out, they're FREE!

Tips for New Classroom 2.0 Teachers

Lucie deLabruere of Infinite Thinking Machine posts these nuts-and-bolts tips for teachers getting started in the 21st century classroom.

"Maybe, what teachers need is some really concrete tips and strategies on ‘management’ in a Classroom 2.0 learning space. Pioneers of Classroom 2.0 are ‘experimenting’ themselves; not all these experiments work exactly as planned. We need to remember that not all teachers or administrators work in an environment where they feel safe or supported to be pioneers in such a public arena as Web 2.0. This is much different than trying something new inside your own building or classroom."

Tips for New Classroom 2.0 Teachers
More Tips for New Classroom 2.0 Teachers

Friday, April 11, 2008

Low Cost Whiteboard and Tablet PC from a Wii Remote

This is really cool! You can use a Wii remote and a DIY infrared pen to turn just about any surface you can project on into a pretty good interactive whiteboard. This video from Johnny Lee (Carnegie Mellon Univ) will show you how. Johnny even shows how to turn any laptop with an LCD screen into a tablet PC.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Are Schools Inhibiting 21st Century Learning?

Many students feel that school policies are restricting their opportunity to learn and take advantage of leading edge technology, according to the just released results of the fifth Speak Up survey.

Less than half of parents and teachers believe schools are doing a good job preparing students for future careers, while 2/3 of administrators share that view.

Read on...
Are Schools Inhibiting 21st Century Learning? : April 2008 : THE Journal

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Pennsylvania district's teachers integrate SMART boards into lessons

In the Warren Country School District, educators have discovered many applications for their new SMART boards, interactive, touch-screen whiteboards that can control computer applications. Jim Campbell, a math teacher, uses features that enable him to overlap graphs and explain calculator functions. He also makes use of a program that translates writing into typed text, which he says saves students time from trying to translate his poor handwriting. Other teachers in the district also explain how the board can be used for English composition and biology classes. According to district officials, "the systems...cost about $3,000" apiece, with the initial set of boards "mostly covered by grant dollars."

Read the full story ... Warren, Pennsylvania's Times Observer (4/8, Ferry)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Bloom's Taxonomy Redux

For the 21st century, the long-time stalwart of educational theory, Bloom's Taxonomy, has been revised. It remains a continuum from lower-order to higher-order thinking skills, but verbs have replaced the nouns and there has been some reordering.

Read more ...
Techlearning >> Bloom's Taxonomy Blooms Digitally > April 1, 2008

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Embed YouTube Video into a PowerPoint Presentation

Read this doc on Scribd: Embedding Video
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