Monday, December 22, 2008

Organizing Instruction and Study to Improve Student Learning

"Much of teaching is about helping students master new knowledge and skills and then helping students not to forget what they have learned."
Organizing Instruction and Study to Improve Student Learning—A Practice Guide from the National Center for Educational Research at the U.S. Department of Education provides a paradigm for accomplishing this objective.

Practice guides differ from most research reports in three important ways. First is that a practice guide includes a list of actionable distinct recommendations. Second is together those recommendations are intended to be a systematic approach to a many-sided problem. Third, each recommendation is definitively categorized by the level of supporting evidence (e.g., strong, moderate and low).

The recommendations in this practice guide show a consensus on some of the most important tangible and material principles to emerge from research on learning and memory.

The seven recommendations -
  • Space learning over time
  • Interleave worked example solutions with problem-solving exercises
  • Combine graphics with verbal descriptions
  • Connect and integrate abstract and concrete representations of concepts
  • Use quizzing to promote learning
  • Help students allocate study time efficiently
  • Help students build explanations by asking and answering deep questions

Each recommendation is accompanied by specific suggestions for implementation as well as potential roadblocks to success and possible solutions.

View or download the full practice guide in PDF format

Freitas, D., & Buckenmeyer, J. (Dec 1, 2008) Aligning Research with Classroom Practice: Internet, Student
Achievement and Cell Phones
. Retrieved Dec 1, 2008, from
Pashler, H.,Bain, P., et al (Sept 2007). Organizing Instruction and Study to Improve Student Learning—A Practice Guide. Retrieved Dec 22, 2008, from

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

CFF/MV Power Links

In this presentation you'll learn about the CFF/MV Power Links wiki and see a tutorial on creating a live link on your Power Links page.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Networked Student (Video)

The Networked Student depicts an actual project completed by Wendy Drexler's high school students. I hope that this short video will help you, your students, and their parents understand how networked learning is supposed to work in the 21st century.

I was pointed to this video by Dianne Krause from the Wissahickon School District.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Create and Share Free Videos with

There's a new Web app,, which lets you create short (30 sec max) videos as easily as click Start, click Stop, click Save. You'll get a URL which you can email to people or HTML embed codes for two different sized movies which you can then insert into a blog, wiki, or Web page.

This is a quick example of the larger size embed. Took about a minute all together.

No registration or sign up is necessary. The site is still in alpha, so there may be glitches, but it was flawless for my example.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thinkfinity - Resources to Support 21st Century Skills

You'll find a wealth of free top-quality, exciting and engaging educational resources that support the skills we all need for success in the 21st century. Thinkfinity offers reliable and leading-edge content provided by our partners - the premier experts and organizations in the field of education. Educators will find engaging, standards-based lessons on every topic, information specific to grade levels and learning styles, and new teaching strategies to use inside and outside the classroom.

Thinkfinity Content Partners produce nine discipline-specific, standards-based web sites that include lessons for teachers, activities to use in and out of the classroom, games for young children and teen, adult literacy resources and reference materials for anyone in the education field, as well as for parents and after-school practitioners.

Many of the resources available through Thinkfinity's content partners reflect 21st century teaching and skills and make use of digital sources. This section highlights opportunities for teachers to engage their students in 21st century skills and themes while they work through core content in science, mathematics and humanities.

Thinkfinity lessons support and are aligned to national education standards. In response to teacher needs, Thinkfinity has launched the first phase of a project to align Thinkfinity resources to state standards. Select a state from the drop-down menu on the Search Results page for Thinkfinity Partner-created lesson plans.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Google Docs for the Classroom: An Overview

Google Docs is an online office-type suite which includes a word processor, a spreadsheet, presentations and forms. Users have access to their documents anywhere there is an Internet connection. Multiple users can edit the same document in real-time making Google Docs a powerful tool for collaboration.

After November 21, students will be able to access Google Docs without needing an email account.

This embedded slideshow provides an overview of Google Docs ...

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Five Sources for Free and Legal Images

Result page of image search Image via WikipediaGoogle image search is a great resource for images, but there can be issues with your right to use some of those images. Here are five links to sites where you can locate free (as in "no cost") and free (as in "available to use") images, clipart, video, and music.

Creative Commons Search allows students and teachers to search for images, music, and videos which are free for their use and which can be modified legally. is the largest collection of free photographs on the Internet offering images that are free for on-line use. If your off-line use is not commercial you can download web size images for free. is a search engine for free photos. These come from many sources and are license-specific. You can view a photo's license by clicking on the license icon, below and left of photos.

Classroom Clipart offers over 62,000 free images, clipart, illustrations animations and photographs for every occasions.

FlickrStorm is a better search for Flickr! It works by looking for more than what you enter to find related and more relevant images... Be suprised!
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Monday, October 27, 2008

Wake Up Everybody


Harold Melvin/The Blue Notes - Wake Up Everybody

Wake up everybody no more sleepin' in bed
No more backward thinkin' time for thinkin' ahead
The world has changed so very much
From what it used to be
There's so much hatred, war an' poverty
Wake up all the teachers time to teach a new way
Maybe then they'll listen to whatcha have to say
Cause they're the ones who's coming up and the world is in their hands
When you teach the children teach em the very best you can.

The world won't get no better if we just let it be
The world won't get no better we gotta change it yeah, just you and me.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Texter: A Windows Text Replacement App

Text substitution app Texter from Lifehacker saves you countless keystrokes by replacing abbreviations with commonly used phrases you define.

Texter lives in the system tray and works in any application in which you're typing.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

First Course Deadlines

Here are the tentative deadlines for progressing through the first CFF Embedded Learning course. To complete a unit you must score 70% or more on the objective quiz, respond to my discussion item and to at least two of your classmates' items. No one will be released to the next unit until at least three people have successfully completed the current unit.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I Need That File I Worked on Today!

We've all been at that place at one time or another where you want to finish that presentation you worked on for hours, but it's on the computer at school, or on the network server. You can't get at it until Monday and you had planned on using it first period Monday.

In your own best interest, you need to learn about and use cloud computing. Keep your work in the "cloud" so it will be accessible anywhere, anytime you have any computer with internet access. Cloud computing is a concept that embraces software as a service, Web 2.0, and data storage in servers on the Internet which is then cached locally.

One way you can leverage the cloud is by using one of a number of web-based office-style application suites such as Google Docs or Zoho. These applications allow you work entirely online and your documents are automatically stored in the host's servers. Both of these applications, as well as some others, also allow for offline editing of your documents when you don't have Internet access.

Another implementation of the cloud is to use one of the numerous online storage solutions such as, DivShare, Dropboks, and others. Most of these services offer free accounts of up 5 Gb of storage. All allow you to upload, store, share, open, and download most file types. All are relatively easy to use, most have the appearance of an ordinary desktop file system.

My practice is to store most files in at least two different locations. I will usually store a copy locally on my computer's hard drive or an external drive. I will also store those files in an online server. Personally, I have chosen for personal use and DivShare for CFF use.

If you want to get your feet wet with online storage, MV Webmail includes a Filestore with limited storage of about 70 Mb. I have put together a tutorial on using MV Webmail's Filestore on the CFF/MV Wiki.

Listen to this article ....

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008 provides a free service that will read any submitted text out loud. Choose from fourteen different readers in three languages. Listen to the reading online or download for iPod or other mp3 player. Post your reading into your web site or blog.
Try it here ...
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Thursday, October 2, 2008

What's the Purpose?

Jack, The Jack Russell TerrierImage by Cdammen via Flickr"Go to and find out all you can about Jack Russell terriers and write a report."

"Find reliable sources of information on the internet to use in an article on Jack Russell terriers."

These statements exemplify two different approaches which teachers may use to give seemingly similar assignments. Taken out of context, as they are here, it could be said that each could be appropriate instruction given the objective of producing an article about Jack Russell terriers. And, either might be suitable within the it's own setting.

However, each sentence intends to have the students take very different routes to creating that product. If you're goal is to simply have a student find some basic information and shout it back at you, the first example will suffice. If your purpose is to have your students become knowledgeable consumers of information, as it should be in the 21st century, then you need to make assignments more in the style of the second instruction.

The second approach makes the student responsible for seeking out multiple reputable, trustworthy, authoritative sources of information on the subject as opposed to your having provided a single "safe" resource in the first. Students will need to judge the quality of their sources, they'll need to think about the content and decide on its value and usefulness.

If we want to develop intelligent users of information, we need to more often take the approach of the second example.
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Monday, September 15, 2008

Store, Share, and Sync Your Files with DropBox

DropBox is a new free Web 2.0 application that allows you to quickly and easily store files both on your computer's hard drive and online. This means you will always have two up-to-date copies of every file in at least two different locations. There's nothing new to learn, nothing special to do. Save and open files to and from your DropBox folder just as you would any other folder. Create sub-folders in the DropBox folder to keep your files organized. No need to remember to copy files to a portable USB drive anymore. You can also share files with friends and colleagues by invitation, no need to email files to yourself or others.

But the best feature of DropBox is that it also keeps your files synced across all the computers you use. Edit a file that's in your DropBox folder and when you save it, the file stored online will update the changes automatically. If you move to a different computer, the edited file will be synced to that computer with no action needed on your part. It's that simple.

Your DropBox folder works exactly like every other folder on your computer's hard drive. You can access your DropBox folder by using My Documents or simply clicking the DropBox icon in the task bar.

Learn more about DropBox by taking the tour.

DropBox will make your life simpler. Guaranteed.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tips for Your Tech-integrated Classroom

Wiki Wiki bus at the Honolulu International Ai...Image via Wikipedia Here are three great ideas using a wiki and engaging students in your online classroom.
  • Have students use the wiki to track background research for term papers, and you will gain insight into the project at the beginning.
  • Use the wiki to post lecture notes and handouts to keep your class organized.
  • Ask your students to post exam questions and respond to questions from their peers. Use these questions in your exam.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Getting Things Done: Using Your MV Webmail Account to Manage Your To Do List

Most of us have more things to get accomplished than we can keep track of. I find that a useful to do list is invaluable to keeping me on track. A solution that helps me stay on top of my CFF tasks is a simple to do list tied into my MV Webmail account. I can add tasks to the list from anywhere I can access email, even from my mobile phone or iPod.
There are three steps to getting this kind of Webmail to do list up and running: create a special folder for your to do items, make a filter to sort your to do list tasks from your other mail and send them into your to do list folder, and inserting a flag into the subject line of the emails.

1) Create a special folder for your to do items.

On the Webmail toolbar, click the Folders icon.
Next, name your to do folder, in this example I used the name ToDo List, then click the Create button.
Now a folder with that name should appear in the folder list below.

2) Make a filter to sort your to do list tasks from your other mail and send them into your ToDo List folder

On the Webmail toolbar, click the Options icon.
From the available options, select Filters and Exceptions
You now have four things to do in the window that appears:
  1. From the drop-down menu next to If the, choose Subject
  2. Following Subject header contains, type 2DO:
  3. Choose move from the menu beside then
  4. and choose ToDo List from the menu next to IMAP folder
Then click the Add button and the filter you just made should appear in the list.

3) Insert a 'flag' into the subject line of the emails that contain your to do list items.

When you need to add a task to your to do list, compose an email to yourself. In the subject line you MUST include the 'flag' that will send this to your to do list folder. That 'flag' is 2DO:. Also on the subject line, include a brief description of the task. If you wish, you may include more detail about the task in the body of the message.
That email should now be channeled into your ToDo List folder. Select that folder and you should see a list of your tasks.
You might want to add a priority number to the subject line, or due date, or whatever else you like. Delete the tasks as they are completed. Hope this helps you better manage your workload.

© 2008 Thomas Boito
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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Battery conservation tips by Matt Klein

Battery conservation tips by Matt Klein, Small Dog Electronics
  • Lower the display brightness all the way down. Doing this will generally double the estimated remaining battery life if you were set to full brightness beforehand.
  • Disable keyboard backlighting.
  • Ensure that Energy Saver is set to spin down hard disks when possible.
  • Put your computer to sleep whenever you’re not actively using it, like when you’re on the phone, in the bathroom, or walking the dog.
  • Eject optical disks. They spin almost all the time, taking power, even when they’re not in active use.
  • Have lots of RAM installed. This helps prevent excessive virtual memory use (virtual memory is hard drive space that’s turned into virtual RAM. When the computer needs more RAM than is physically installed, it’ll dip into virtual memory reserves, and cause the hard drive to work more than it really has to.
  • Use your iPod for music, not the computer; don’t charge your iPod unless absolutely necessary.
  • Turn off auto-save features in your word processor. This feature spins up the hard drive all the time, consuming lots of power.
  • Don’t keep unused applications running in the background.
  • Mute the sound.
It’s not always practical to use your laptop is such a minimal way.

This was originally written for MacBooks. I have deleted Mac-specific tips. - tab

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Let's Share

Introducing the logo for Classrooms of the Future/Moshannon Valley for 2008-09. The logo reflects the principle keyword that should be driving our program this year, SHARING.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

35 Tools For Teachers, Tutors and Students

Index fingerImage via Wikipedia Mashable points out 35 Tools For Teachers, Tutors and Students in this post. Included are five grading tools and six assorted miscellaneous tools.

Also included are references to social networks where teachers can share and communicate with other teachers. There are links to sites offering teaching and tutoring job opportunities.
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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Here Comes 2008-09!

The state's CFF budget was cut from $90 million to $45 million, so it's no surprise that our 2008-09 budget at MVHS was substantially reduced. We received approximately half the funding we got last year.

Obviously, we will not be able to extend the program fully to 11th and 12th grades as had been planned. We were able to manage our funds so as to allow us to integrate 11th and 12th grade math and English, however. Joining the CFF program for the upcoming school year will be Jon Deemer (math), Tom Webb (English), and Tiffany Cover (English), with Bob Lewis (English) taking the place of the retired Denise McCloskey.

Bob will inherit McCloskey's classroom equipment, while Jon, Tom, and Tiffany will each be equipped with a laptop, an interactive whiteboard, and a projector. Thirty-three new student laptops will be added bringing the total to 96.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

What Time Is It In ??????

What Time Is It? will let you know the current time just about anywhere on the globe.

For locations in the US and Canada, simply type in the city and state. For international locations, select the country from the list and type in the city's name.

Click the What Time Is It? button and you'll see a clean, easy-to-read display of the current time in the location of your choice.
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Monday, July 28, 2008

Copyright Bay

Copyright rules are a reality that educators must come to grips with in a time when technology makes it easy to steal intellectual property. Educators in general have a lot to learn to become familiar with not only what copyright law restricts, but also what it allows in terms of that hazy concept, fair use.

A Visit to Copyright Bay attempts to explore fair use in the educational setting and presents it in an informative and entertaining way.
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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Find and Share Free Sound Effects and Loops is a platform to find and share free sound effects and loops - legally. Soundsnap is a collection of original sounds made or recorded by its users.

Originally, a small group of sound people from all over the world started Soundsnap. It is their belief that sounds and samples should be free for everyone to use in their projects.

High-quality sound clips can be previewed and downloaded as mp3, wav, or aiff format files.

Example 1
Example 2
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Monday, July 21, 2008

Lesson Writer

Lesson Writer is a web application that creates lesson plans and instructional materials for teaching English language skills from any reading passage, it ...
  • Analyzes any text for vocabulary, grammar and usage, pronunciation, and word roots and stems,
  • Creates a lesson plan and a lesson designed to teach any, some, or all of these skills in the context of the passage

Lesson Writer helps teachers save time, be creative, accommodate individual students, track classes, and design study units.

Lesson Writer helps students by customizing materials to make reading more manageable with a variety diverse presentation methods.
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Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Education Society /

The Education Society presents This Canadian site helps teachers and students understand and use the internet. The site presents offerings in seven major categories ...
  • Teach 2Day
  • Search and Research
  • What's Web 2.0?
  • Plagiarism
  • Copyright
  • Safety 'Net
  • Cyberbullying
Each major topic includes several sub-topics. For example, the sub-topics under Cyberbullying include An Overview, Teacher Resources, Student Resources, and Parent Resources.

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