Thursday, September 30, 2010

Social Activism of Yesteryear Versus Social Media of Today

Please take some time to read this New Yorker magazine article by best-selling author Malcolm Galdwell (e.g., Tipping Point and Blink): Twitter, Facebook, and Social Activism.

The article addresses social media of today as opposed to activism of the past. What is your response to the article? How might the ideas in this article be used in the classroom to provoke discussion?

Photo from

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Professional Organizations’ Facebook Pages

If you use Facebook, you might want to receive feeds from your professional organizations, or if you prefer, save the URLs in your bookmark folder and access the pages without using a Facebook account. Here are examples of five professional organizations with Facebook pages:

National Council of Teachers of Math at:
If you check out any of the Facebook pages of a professional organization, let us know your response. If you know of other organizations with Facebook pages, share with us this information.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Reminder: Free Technology for Teachers

If you have not already bookmarked or created a feed to Free Technology for Teachers, which describes free to use online sites, offers free lesson plans, and categorizes access by an index of subject areas, such as science, math, and so forth, it is time that you have. This is a site worth checking regularly, and it has over 25,000 readers, not surprisingly! New posts appear almost daily. Educators find this site an indispensable resource. Once you have time to explore, let us know what you find of value.

Free Technology for Teacher is maintained by Richard Byrne, and his site has won numerous awards. If you don't find what you are looking for the first time around, check back later. This is not the first time I have posted a blog about Free Technology for Teachers. Just wanted to post another reminder about a blog chock full of resources.
Image credit: banner on Free Technology for Teachers

You Don't Have a Blog Yet, What Are You Waiting For?

Ideally, teachers should maintain a website. Even more ideal, they need a blog. Check the 20 Top Teacher Blogs from Scholastic's Instructor magazine to see what other teachers are doing. Let us know what you think of some of the blogs listed, and tell us of other teacher blogs you follow or find useful. Use the Index on this blog, Computers in the Classroom, to find other postings about blogging.

Teachers' Websites

Let's share examples of excellent teacher websites you have explored. Based on one student's contribution to our class's online discussion, I found an excellent model created by a teacher who has been a student at Saint Joseph College. Please take some time to explore Mercier's Magic. There's plenty to explore here. When you first open the site (be sure to have sound on), you will find her current school year site, but under the Home tab, you will see accessible sites from prior years.

Not only does Ms. Mercier group her content by subject area and audience (e.g., parents), she also provides throughout the site links to wonderful websites for instructional purposes. She uses Weebly to maintain her site. Feel free to explore Weebly as a mean to create your own student-centered website.

Ms. Mercier works with to create customized pages of recommended sites for students. Here are fast links to some of her Symbaloo pages:
multimedia , math, and writing.

To create your own customized resource pages for your students with Symbaloo, open an account, and then you are set to build your pages of recommended sites by discipline, subject area, or general area of interest, using Symbaloo's database of recommended sites.

Ms. Mercier also maintains a blog through Weebly, allowing her students to post comments. In addition, check her Twitter account.

Webbly, Mrs. Scelia is a site designed by another Weebly-user teacher. Ms. Scelia started this site August 2010 to provide resources to her young students.

Let us know what you think of the websites these teachers maintain.

Post your recommendations of teacher websites worth visiting by providing the URL's.

Photo of Ms. Mercier from Mercier's Magic. Photo Ms. Scelia from Webbly, Mrs. Scelia
Logo from Weebly.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Twitter Tweets Archived with Library of Congress

Even if you don't tweet on Twitter and therefore don't need to worry about your 140-character pearls of wisdom, The Library of Congress archives Twitter Tweets, maintaining an electronic record of Twitter's content. The Library of Congress blog explains the archive: How Tweet It Is!: Library Acquires Entire Twitter Archive. Using the archive can be a valuable source of information, but what about privacy rights? Take a look at the blog posting How Tweet It Is!: Library Acquires Entire Twitter Archive, and reflect on what it means for the Library of Congress to maintain this archive. Moreover, what might be the value of the archive in the school setting? Do you think students using Twitter realize an archive of their Tweets exists with the Library of Congress? Does it matter to them to know their pearls could be archived? What about maintaining historical records of tweets? How might this archive be of value in the school setting? When referencing the blog posting, also take some time to read comments posted by others to gain a perspective on how others are reacting.

Image from: How Tweet It Is!: Library Acquires Entire Twitter Archive

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Award-Winning Teacher's Blog and Website

A California middle school teacher, Heather Wolpert-Gawron, maintains a blog with helpful tips for middle school teachers and a website for her students. Her blog and expresses her enthusiasm for teaching at this level and offers insightful professional development ideas. Her website for her students is available at:

On her website for students, you will find links for her 7th grade students and another for her 8th graders, as well as a link to a page where she archives students' podcasts, under the title of Bulldog Radio. Check both her blog for teachers and her website for her students. Let us know what you think.

Image is the logo Heather Wolpert-Gawron uses on

Sunday, August 22, 2010

R U Txting Now?

Is texting increasing exponentially as some claim? Is it a distraction in the school setting? What are the psychological effects? What are the implications of texting on learning and teaching? Can teachers stop texting in their classrooms? Read the USA Today article: "Texting Away UR Education."

On the one hand, some teachers advocate for students texting instead of raising their hands. Teachers see it as a way for students to respond in class. In the article, I KN the Answer, one Texas teacher enumerates benefits for texting in class as well as for a homework aid for students to keep in touch with teachers.

After reading both articles, weigh in on the issue of where texting belongs in the schools, if at all?

Photo from the article I KN the Answer, published in EduDemic.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Social Network Sites in the Schools

Digital Directions, an online journal, published a helpfu article exploring the pros and cons of using social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Ning in the school setting. This article should be helpful reading to you as an educator. Let us know what you think after you have read the article, Social Networking Goes to the School.

Illustration Roy Weiman from the article "Social Networking Goes to School."

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Greyson Chance Singing Broken Hearts

What if this talented child were in your class? Do you think he should be attending school or starting in on his musical career full-time? He was originally discovered by the general public on YouTube, and now is a famous musical star with television appearances and over 2 million viewer fans on YouTube. How are social media sites, like YouTube, one of the most popular, defining culture? Do you think this YouTube should be shown in public school classrooms?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Teaching History

Here is a powerful way to teach history. Let us know of some lesson plan ideas you get after watching the video.

Declaration of Independence

For those of you who have not seen this video of history in action, thought I would share it. What ideas does it bring to mind for teaching?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Lesson Plans

Two sites with lesson plans including ones that use computer software and websites:

The Educator’s Reference Desk offers lesson plans by discipline. Lesson plans use a variety of instructional materials, including websites and software programs. provides a variety of lesson plans in different disciplines. Plans can be found by discipline or grade level. Plans are also featured by month.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pronto Videos enables you to make a quick video by using your own pictures and by adding music from the site or your own sound files. Once you import the pictures, you then import the music. After both the pictures and music are inserted, you hit a button to complete the process, and the site blends the images and music into a movie. One drawback to the site is that to make full use of it, you need to pay a fee, and as you work yourself through your first free movie, the site reminds you of the upgrade. The free version allows for producing only a 30-second movie. Take a look at the site, and let us know what you think. I did a quick video with the site, and had mixed reactions to the final product. Have any of you used the site, or know of anyone who does? If so, what have you heard?

Here is the link to the movie that I created in a few minutes: Trial
Use this clickable link to access a blog posting on Discovery Education from an Animoto user who enjoyed using the site:

Image is from the Discovery Ed. blog.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Go Animate

GoAnimate is a site where teachers, students, and others can create quick animated videos. Here is an example of a 45-second animation focused on teens. Check out the site GoAnimate, and take some time to view other animations. Let us know what you see as the potential for this site in the school setting. School News for Teens! FREE TV Show Opening! by gwyneth

Like it? Create your own at It's free and fun!

School Filtering Programs

I found this slide show, Strategies for Fighting Internet Filtering on tips for how to address the issue of schools blocking specific Internet sites. For those teaching K-12, blocking sites creates problems when we know specific sites sponsor information that would be of value to our students. The slide show offers some suggestions of how to address the issue and ways in which teachers can teach responsible use of online sources. If you prefer you can view the presentation here instead of clicking on the link Strategies for Fighting Internet Filtering to view the presentation at the slideshare website.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

School-Issued Smartphones

Although many schools ban the use of cell phones, this policy is beginning to be revisited. Here is one article that speaks to the merits, Solving Algebra Problems on Smarthpones. In fact, in the North Carolina school featured in the story, students are issued smartphones by the school. They are used by students to assist them in solving algebra problems both in the classroom and at home, while doing homework. In addition to several applications for which the phones are used, the students have access to a class blog, where they can pose questions when they need assistance with solving problems at home. The teacher or peers can respond. To learn more about this use of smartphones to assist students with their algebra skills, refer to the Education Week article, Solving Algebra Problems on Smarthpones. Do you think it is about time that more schools lifted bans on smartphone use during school hours? What about the idea of the schools being the ones to issue the phones? The article documents several advantages of issuing school-sponsored smartphones and using them both in and out the school. Let us know what you think after you read the article.

In addition, the article contains this video, which you might want to watch for additional information and for student and teacher testimonials of the value of the K-Nect Project, the program that brought the phones to the schools.

Photo is from the article at and is captioned as such: "Using her school-issued smartphone, Katie Denton, a junior at Dixon High School in Holly Ridge, N.C., reads the biographic profile of a student from another school that is also participating in a Project K-Nect math class.—Sara D. Davis for Education Week" (URL:

Monday, March 22, 2010

Failing Grades for Attracting Women and Minorities into STEM

Several new reports just released show the trend to attract women and minorities into the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (often designated by the acronym STEM) remains dismal. Here are links to read more about two recently released reports.

Why So Few? AAUW Report

There's a lot to chew over in these two articles. Take some time to read them and to check some of the links to other resources contained within the articles. As educators, we need to be concerned about stereotypes we create and how our attitudes influence the students in our classrooms. What can we do to serve as strong role models to encourage students to pursue interests and eventual careers in the fields represented by STEM, areas in which more and more professionals will be needed in the future to sustain our growth as a world leader? What is our responsibility to encourage students in general to pursue careers in these fields and to start preparing them for such futures in grades as early as the elementary school?

President Obama has already proposed several steps to support STEM. (See "Obama Unveils Plan to Bolster STEM," Jan. 2010.)

So much of the future of our country rests in nurturing young people's interests in the STEM fields. What is your response to the recent reports about our failings as educators to support and nurture young people's interests in the STEM areas? Are the solutions offered in the articles and the related reports feasible? What do you see as solutions?

photo credit: cover from report obtained at

Friday, March 12, 2010

Teacher Suspended for Facebook Post

An East Stroudsbury University professor was suspended for a comment she put on Facebook. She claimed she was kidding when she said she had a bad day and wanted to kill some students. The school officials took her comments seriously, and suspended her when a student brought the matter to the attention of the administration. Some say the suspension was a violation of free speech while others claim all threats of this kind even if made in jest should be taken seriously. Read more about the case in Higher Ed Morning, Facebook: Teacher Suspended for Posts, and check some of the comments posted.

In another case, a middle school teacher was suspended for some comments she wrote about one of her students on Facebook. Read of that story, Apex Teacher Suspended. Stories of both students and teachers being suspended for Facebook comments are increasing.

How do you feel about the emerging cases of retribution when a member of a school, be it a student or teacher, faces suspension for postings put on Facebook or other social networking venues? Should comments posted on these sites be taken seriously? Need teachers exercise caution? What about comments students post on Facebook, or other public social networking sites, about teachers, school administrators, and other students? As a teacher, what would you do if a student brought to your attention a comment written about her or him by another student that could be interpreted to be mean spirited or threatening? What about the teacher from East Stroudsbury U.? Do you think she should have been suspended? What about the middle school teacher who called her student "Bible boy"?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Videos Feature Winning Digital Natives

See some wonderful digital media projects created by students, some as young as 8 and 13, and read their profiles to learn more about who they are. Youth Portraits at Eutopia features the stories of students showcased in the Digital Generation Project. This project is intended to help educators and parents understand how students are using digital media. Spend time reading the students' profiles and seeing their digital work. Afterwards, return to this blog and post your comments about the project. Which students' work did you find impressive? What have you discovered by viewing the students' profiles and work? Note what the students have to say about their education and how digital media has motivated them as students and learners. If you have some extra time, explore the Digital Generation: Educators section for specific teaching ideas. Let us know what you fnd of particular of interest to you.

Measuring Teacher Effectivness: Can It Be Done?

What about teacher tenure? What about merit pay? Should tenure or the alternate option of merit pay to replace tenure be tied to test scores? As the national debate unwinds about these controversial issues, we as educators need to stay informed.

When a post was made to the English Companion Ning, the posting generated a volumnious number of replies. The title of the blog, If We Can Put a Man on the Moon, We Can Certainly Measure Teacher Effectiveness, is controversial enough, and already 15 pages of comments have been left. By the time you check, more pages of comments are likely to have been added.

The English Companion Ning is read by over 12,000 English teachers, and surely other professional education nings and blogs are already generating a plethora of commentary on the topic of measuring teacher effectiveness. Just check the If We Can Put a Man on the Moon... and the comments posted to get a feel of some of the response in one community of educators.

This ning, The English Companion, is one of the most popular in the K-12 setting and is read by more than just English and language arts teachers. The discussion on the ning was started by Alan Sitomer, a former California teacher of the year and an author of young adult literature.

By the way, those interested in the teaching of literature and language arts skills, should check out the English Companion Ning regularly; it is a storehouse of information, and why not also join the ning to become part of the conversation.

In the meantime, post your comments on this blog regarding the discussion that has evolved based on Sitomer's blog and the whole controversy of a method to measure teacher effectiveness. Can it be done? Is tenure the answer? Is merit pay a better answer? What about using test scores to measure teacher effectiveness? If not test scores, then what else? Check out the discussion at, If We Can Put a Man on the Moon..., as well as Sitomer's What I Believe Measuring Teacher Effectivess is About. He has posted on the main English Companion Ning as well as within his own Page on the English Companion Ning; thus, you will see two forms of commentary in each place.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Top NCLB Advocate Reverses Position: Hot News and More to Follow

Yes, it has hit the press that Diane Ravitch, one of the chief engineers of the NCLB, has changed her mind after all these years. I will be posting more information, but in case you missed this big news story, click on the title of this post to get to the NPR coverage. Since the story will be all over the news, post links in your comments to other helpful media you find. Here is a quick ink to the story from the New York Times.
Photo, courtesy of Basic Books as taken from the NPR cover story.

Adding Audio Track in PowerPoint 2007

This video guides you through the process of adding an audio track (music) to your PowerPoint created in version 2007. Let us know if the video is helpful to you.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Be Imaginative, Create a Comic Strip

Need some time to relax and play like a kid. Try out the MakeBeliefs site. Create your own comic strips easily. Then imagine young children using the site to create comics, practicing their literacy and imaginative skills. In addition to writing in English, students can write in Spanish, Italian, and other languages. There's a Teacher Resource section. Check out "About the Author" to learn about the site's writer and illustrator. Try creating a few panes in a comic strip with the options available: characters, text boxes, think bubbles, objects, sizing, moving, and backgrounds. Remember to give your strip a title and to list yourself as its author. Use the Next feature when you are ready to print, or email your creation to a reader. It takes a little trial and error to get going, but it should not take you long to create your first comic. Have some fun and a few laugh! Let us know what you think.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

YouTube Now Accepts College Applications

Some of the nation’s most prestigious institutions of higher education now encourage applicants to submit a YouTube video as part of their application. Okay, this might be a good idea on the surface. High school students already enjoy making videos and uploading them to YouTube. But what the college application now be made public via the Internet? Here are two videos high school seniors submitted as part of their application to Tufts University. Given I found them on YouTube and can easily embed them as ready-to-play on, what do you see as the pros and cons of college application materials moving to public spaces and social networking sites? Here's Chania Cohen's "Walk in My Shoes" video she used for her application. (Click the arrow to view it; the videos is shorter than 2 minutes.)

Here's Amelia Downs' math nerd and dancing video, also part of her Tufts' application.

These videos and others that students have submitted to YouTube as part of their application packet have had over a 3,000 hits as of yesterday. Tufts claims that this year as many as 1,000 applicants submitted YouTubes. Given the number, it is understandable why an admission committee finds YouTube a convenient storage site and easy way to access and organize reams of digital materials.

Some schools even send with acceptance letters a video that pops on the screen as soon as the student opens email. For instance, Yale sends a rendition of "High School Musical."

What's your response to the use of videos, especially ones available on the world wide web, as part of the college application packet? How do you feel about the application process being in public view? When was the last time a college essay had that many readers? Will a centralized blog or wiki, available to the public, be the way students submit essays? Or is the visual nature of YouTube and its capacity to store large video files that make it more so the go-to venue for telling admissions committees, and in the meantime the rest of the world, "Who Am I."

Monday, February 22, 2010

10 th Grade Graduation to Begin 2011 in Connecticut

The New Haven Register today ran a story about the soon-to-be 10th grade graduation in the state. Parents and teachers offered responses to the article. Read both the article and comments. I know I have posted on this topic two times in the last week, but given the reality that this initiative is in our own backyard, let's be knowledgeable and keep current of the dialogue. Read all about it at: State to Test Early Graduation Initiative. And see the other two blog postings from last week that speak to the initiative on both the national and state level. Even consider posting a comment on the New Haven Register page; there is place that invites comments.

Logo from New Haven Register, online.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Graduating High School After 10th Grade

Just this past Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2010, I posted an article, High Schools to Offer Plan to Graduate 2 Years Early, about students getting a jump start on college. I am now posting a link to read about the issue from the perspective of several educators including college presidents. Check on this debate using a posting from The New York Times, Feb. 18, 2010: A Diploma in 10th Grade?
The Gates Foundation has already funded such initiatives and plans to be involved in the 10th grade graduation initiative. School systems are likely to join the bandwagon knowing both private and public funding will be forthcoming. The federal government has already earmarked funding, and states have applied for the funding. One of the states to start the program in the immediate future is Connecticut, as part of the federal initiative. Several towns and the cities will be participating, and invitations have been sent out statewide.

Those of you interested in secondary education should keep current of the issue. In fact, those interested in education in the earlier grades might want to consider how the traditional K-12 curricular sequence will change with implementation of this plan.

After reading through the postings about the debate, via A Diploma in 10th Grade?, what is your position, and why?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Share PowerPoint Slides with Your Department and Students

A convenient way for a group of educators to collaborate and share their slide presentations is through the site SlideShare, at Check into how Texas A & M University's Writing Center uses the site to share its instructional slide shows with its students as well as other viewers. View some of the presentations to understand the purpose of why the university has mounted its instructional presentations in SlideShare. Consider how SlideShare or similar slide sharing sites might be used in other educational settings such as at the K-12 level? (Be forewarned, you will need to tolerate some ads, but the site is free, and has lots of potential.)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What Does the iGeneration Mean for Teaching?

Tech-Savvy 'iGeneration' Kids Multi-Task, Connect posted in USA Today offers viewpoints on the effects of social networking on children of today. Although research has largely focused on the multi-tasking skills of preteens and teens, researchers are now looking at how those under 10 are responding to the variety of technological media surrounding them and how this environment will affect how they develop and will be motivated to learn in school.

A 12-year old from West Hartford, CT is quoted, reminding us of the frequency with which people her age post videos on Facebook via webcams. Another youngster of 3 is described as having "a collection of nine cellphones; four are the non-working cast-offs of family members, and the others are plastic, including Cinderella, Tinker Bell and Dora the Explorer. She also has a plastic pink-and-purple Barbie laptop, which has its own mouse and programs that teach math, vowels and Spanish, as well as some computer games."

What is your response to the research findings and reports cited in the article? What do you see as the implications for teachers as the newer generations progress through school?

Photo is from the article with the byline and note:
By Joe Brier, for USA TODAY
Heather Nokes, 18, watches as her 3-year-old sister Kaci, 3, uses a Barbi Learning Laptop for math and spelling practice, while Wendy, 13, holds her cellphone in their Winchester, Va., home. All born after 1990, the sisters are considered part of what sociologists are calling the iGeneration.

Jump Start on College

Eight states, Connecticut among them, are about to pass a law allowing students after the 10th grade to begin their college career. To read about the program and its goals and implications, check the link below to a New York Times article. According to this model, fewer students will need remedial courses upon entering college than is the case now. Students who are eligible to participate will earn their high school diploma at the end of 10th grade and begin their college career at a community college, eligible to later transfer the credits to a 4-year institution to earn a bachelor's. If they decide not to matriculate at a 4-year institution, they will have a jump start on a variety of careers upon completion of coursework at the community college. Here's the article: Plan Would Let Students Start College After the 10th Grade. What's your response?

image from:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Blog to Print

In a reversal of the current trend to turn print books into e-books, I just got an "invite" to turn my blog into a printed book in softcover or hardcover for $14.95 and up. I can even elect to include a dedication, probably for additional fee. Wow, we now go both ways: from e-publishing back to printed books, not just from taking printed books and converting them to e-books. This was a shock. Have others heard of turning electronic texts into printed books! I will let you know more if I investigate the offer to convert my blog into a published book. However, the offer makes me wonder, if teachers sponsored blogs with their students, K-12, and then had the full blog published at the end of the year as a book, how would students feel seeing their collaborative work in a book? Any thoughts?

Inspiring Life Lessons Told Through Video

I found these “Do Now” assignment suggestions in the Ning in Education. The assignment asks students to watch a video. Beforehand, they reflect on a series of question, and after viewing the video, they contemplate a prompt the teacher provides. To see the original plan as presented by the teacher, Scott Habeeb, use this link:

Scott concludes, “Lessons like these, embedded into a Do Now assignment, can be a fun way to start off class, a great way to connect with your students, and an opportunity to teach your students about life.”

For now, I am posted two of his suggestions as he describes them verbatim, and have embedded the accompanying videos.

1) The Life Lesson: One person can completely change another person's life:

A. The Do Now Assignment: Watch the following video and answer the following questions: If you could choose and had to choose, would you rather be remembered the way this father is remembered or would you rather be remembered for being rich, famous, and powerful? Why?

B. The Object Lesson: The following video:

The Follow Up: Ask students to share their answers. Make sure they understand the power of sacrifice. There is great strength in loving and sacrificing. Amazing things can happen when one person sacrifices for another.

2) The Life Lesson: It's better to build someone up than to tear someone down:

A. The Do Now Assignment: Watch the following video and write a reflection on why you think this video makes people happy.

B. The Object Lesson: The following video

C. The Follow Up: Ask students to share their answers. The reason this makes people happy is because it is natural for us to enjoy watching the underdog do well and be happy. Unfortunately, many people tend to find it easier to tear down others or to bring people down to their level instead of helping to build others up. What would it be like in a high school if EVERYONE treated EVERYONE else the way that those students treated Jason?

Do you see the value of these kinds of "To Do Now" video lessons? Would you consider the same format, begining with "A To Do Now," followed by the video, and finishing with The Follow-up? Think of ways in which you can use this structure within your subject area or teaching grade level.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Rapping in the Students with Video and Collaborating Writing

The Free Technology for Teachers blog featured a story about a high school teaching using two resources to ignite reluctant learners.

The first, The Week in Rap, is an online video set to rap music that reviews in a few brief minutes major events of the week. For students who don't keep current of world events, this is an excellent means to introduce them to world events and to promote in-class discussions.

Take some time to view a recent The Week in Rap video. Remember the old days when we sent students to school editions of Time or Newsweek magazines to stimulate discussions of current events. Students using The Week in Rap get a glimpse into world events in a matter of minutes, but can also replay the video and read its text to facilitate further reflection.

The other tool, Etherpad, is an online synchronous writing environment conducive to a social constructivist approach to learning, as students use the tools to collaborate and create texts. The additions each writer, at his or her own computer, makes appear on the screen as one text forms. This tool has applicability for a range of learners. Try it out with a friend or colleague.
Let us know what you think of these free tools to use in the classroom.

To learn about the high school teacher who used these two tools with her students, check on the Free Technology for Teachers blog, the posting for Monday, February 15, 2010: Using Technology to Find Students.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Online Professional Development

I'm posting links to blogs, nings, and podcasts sponsored by the professional organizations in K-12 disciplines. Use the post a "Comment" feature to add to the list, and I will edit this Blog to include your addition. Also, post a "Comment" to let us know how professional blogs and nings contribute to your professionally development extend your repository of teaching ideas.

National Council of Teachers of English Blog
National Council of Teachers of English Ning
National Teachers of Science Association Podcasts
National Council of Teachers of Science Blog
National Council of Teachers of Social Studies Blog
National Council for Social Studies Ning

Also but not blogs or nings:
National Council of Teachers of Math (Middle School Resources)
National Council of Teachers of Math (High School Resources)
National Council of Teachers of Math (Illuminations)

Image from

Friday, February 12, 2010

Wi Fi School Buses

One school district has extended the school day by equipping a school bus with wi fi access and laptops. So far, the project is working well for this Arizona school district, where students have bus rides of over an hour each way. This same school system, which is outside of Tuscon, AZ, has also replaced textbooks with e-books. One spokesperson for the federal Dept. of Education has indicated the experiment is part of a wider effort to extend the school day. The company that manufactures the routers to equip school buses with the laptops already has contracts out with school systems in Florida, Missouri, and DC. Wonder how long it will be before the idea catches on in other places. To read more about this method for extending the school day, check this New York Times Article: Wi-Fi Turns Rowdy Bus Into Rolling Study Hall.

Photo credit & information : Joshua Lott for The New York Times
Jerod Reyes, left, and Dylan Powell use their bus's Wi-Fi to do homework on their way to school.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What's a Ning? Why Use One?

The Ning in Education site provides a good overview of using Nings in the educational setting. Browse around, and let us know what you find of value, and what your initial impressions are of using Nings for professional development purposes. Remember our Class Ning at Computers in the Classroom has a Forum devoted to discipline-specific Nings. I also suggest browsing around the Classroom 2.0 ning. Yes, at times, the array of resources online can make you dizzy, but they can also put at your fingertips valuable resources for teaching and contribute to your development as a self-reflective practitioner. Of course, you need not agree, but what are your impressions for now of Nings for professional development? If you find Nings you want to share with others, visit Class Ning at Computers in the Classroom and add a Forum or Blog about the Ning.

Parody of Classroom Technology Usage

Recently, students at The University of Denver produced a video parodying the integration of technology into the classroom. Yesterday's The Chronicle of Higher Education carried an article about the creation of this video and embedded the video into the article. Check out the article in Wired Campus: "Class Produces Parody of 'The Office' to Highlight Challenges of Teaching With Technology." Let us know what you think of the content of the parody, the remarks found in the article, and blog postings following the article.

I've embedded the video here in event that you want to view it before reading the article. Enjoy! Remember the video is a rendition of students' parodying teaching with technology. What solutions can you bring away from their parody? Why do you think the students invested time in making the video? Why would the prestigious, well-read The Chronicle of Higher Education include an article of this kind and the video parody? Why do you think a decision was made to not only report that students made the video, but to also post the video?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Black History Month Links

Here are some links for exploring sites related to Black History Month offered from NCTE. Let us know which sites you find particularly helpful. These sites should be useful beyond the month of February.
General Background Information
African American History Month, from The Library of Congress
Black History Month, from
Black History Month, from EDSITEment
Black History, from The History Channel
Culture and Change: Black History in America, from Scholastic (includes a video interview with Christopher Paul Curtis)
A Brief Chronology of African American Literature, from San Antonio College Lit Web
African American Poets, from Famous Poets and Poems
African American Women Writers of the 19th Century, from The Schomburg Center at the New York Public Library
African-American Women, from Duke University Library
Black History, from Academy of American Poets
Twenty-Eight Days Later, A Black History Month Celebration of Children's Literature, from The Brown Bookshelf (Check the archive links on the right for celebrations from 2008 & 2009 as well as a poster you can download and print)
Video Interviews with children's book authors and illustrators, from Reading Rockets (includes an interview with recent Caldecott Medal winner Jerry Pickney)
Historical and Nonfiction Texts
African-American Quotations, from InfoPlease
African-American Sheet Music, 1850-1920, from the Library of Congress
African American Cultural Heritage Tour, from the Smithsonian Institute
American Slave Narratives: An Online Anthology, from American Studies Hypertexts at the University of Virginia
The Church in the Southern Black Community, from Documenting the American South
Electronic Text Center: African American, from the University of Virginia (Note this site includes texts about African Americans as well as by African Americans, so you will need to help students choose wisely to avoid mistakes.)
In Those Days: African-American Life Near the Savannah River, from the National Park Service
North American Slave Narratives, from Documenting the American South
Notable Speeches and Letters by African Americans, from InfoPlease
Personal Histories
Experience War: Stories from the Veterans History Project, from the Library of Congress
Buffalo Soldiers: The 92nd in Italy
African Americans at War: Fighting Two Battles
Oral Histories, from the National Visionary Leadership Project, including histories from Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Sonia Sanchez, and Faith Ringgold
StoryCorps Griot, from National Museum of African American History and Culture
Blogs and More
Sharon Draper's Blog Read details on the author’s trip to Africa, and comments on her books Just Another Hero and Sassy.
Nikki Grimes Fan Page Check the Wall for responses from the author to comments posted by her fans.
Alice Walker’s Blog Find new poems, fiction in progress, and a tribute to Walker’s friend, historian Howard Zinn, who passed away last week.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Science Behind the Olympics

The upcoming Olympics presents an opportunity for engaging science lessons. Check out this page on Science NetLinks: The Science Behind the Olympics. While at the Science NetLinks, all check its Lesson Plan Ideas Matrix for plans arranged by grade level and subject area. There is also a Resource Index, which includes links related to the teaching of both math and science. If you explore the site, ScienceNetLinks, let us know what you think and what helpful information you find there for your teaching or general interest. Image from:

Saturday, February 6, 2010

2010 African-American Read-In

The annual International Reading Association (IRA) and National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) are once again sponsoring the Black History Month Read-In, and providing suggestions for activities to do throughout the month. Check out the events and activities. What are your thoughts on NCTE, IRA, and other educational organizations sponsoring suggested activities, lesson plans, and resources in honor of Black History Month? Let us know of other online resources for celebrating Black History Month that you have found. (Photo of Langston Hughes)

Social Media Trends Among Teens

A recent Pew study, "Social Media and Young Adults," reports on how young teens are using social media. The stats indicate a decline in blogging, suggesting this platform might be more acceptable for the school curriculum than in the past, as young teens come to see blogging as a serious medium, compared to the the social networking they do with friends on other platforms. As expected, Facebook and MySpace remain popular, and younger teens are not using Twitter as much as older teens. Check the Pew study for specifics, flipping through the parts of the study. Let us know what you think after reading the study and what the implications might be teachers as they consider social networking sites and Web 2.0 tools like blogs, wikis, nings, and other collaborative tools, for use with students as part of the school curriculum.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Decline in Grammar Skills

Do you believe that there has been a decline in students' grammar skills over the last 20 or so years? One study conducted by University of Ontario researchers documents a signigificant decline and suggests that texting, social networking sites (Twitter, Facebook) and the neglect of teaching grammar are the culprits. To read about the study, access this Digital Directions article, "Twitter, Texting Blamed for Students' Bad Grammar." By the way, speaking of grammar, visit this podcast site, Grammar Girls. Did you know about the site? Do you think it can help teach grammar skills?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Obama's Fireside Chat

Today, at 1:45 p.m., President Obama will go live on YouTube to answer questions from the public. The chat, broadcast from the White House, will be a webcast. YouTube users have submitted questions and voted on their top picks. Questions concern jobs, education, and government reform. With Obama seeking major changes to the No Child Left Behind law, the webcast promises to address pressing educational issues. To read more about the YouTube event and keep current on proposals to NCLB, check these two articles from today’s The New York Times:

Obama to Field Questions Posted by YouTube Users
Obama to Seek Sweeping Changes in ‘No Child’ Law

Here is the video of Obama's State of Union Address from last week. You will find other Obama speeches also at YouTube. How is online access changing how news is delivered to the public? What are your thoughts on access to new events on YouTube, as well as the fact that many school systems block access to YouTube videos? If you watch the YouTube public press conference today, let us know what you think of the format.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Digital Textbook Initiative Enters Phase II

Last year, Governor Schwarzenegger of California initiated a digital textbook plan, and the process began for implementation of digital books in science and math classes. This year, as the initiative reaches phase two, the push is for adding social studies and extending the number of online resources to meet a variety of math and science content areas. Check the Digital Education Blog, “California Expands Digital Textbook Initiative.” In Phase I, teachers reviewed online textbooks for alignment with the state curriculum standards. The report, Digital Textbooks, Phase Two, sponsored by California Learning Resource Network, provides links to the state standards and the process for submitting suggested resources for review.

For background on the topic, read the earlier Digital Education blog, California Faces a Curriculum Crisis, as well as a number of blogs posted to “Computers in the Classroom” about digital textbooks. (See below for a list of three of these blogs.)

As California is often a forerunner in reform, do you think the concept of digital textbooks will spread to other states? One respondent to the Digital Education blog California Expands Digital Textbook Initiative wonders if New Jersey will follow California’s lead. What about other states, or do you think the initiative should be a national one?

What do you see as the pros and cons of digital textbooks? Do you think the shift to online books is inevitable? If so, what do we, as educators, need to do get prepared? What are the pedagogical benefits, the financial factors, and other variables to consider?

Here are three other blogs on "Computers in Classroom" that I have posted on the topic of digital textbooks:
"Textbook Graveyard" (September 16, 2009)
"Digital Media Replace Standard Textbooks" (August 9, 2009)
"No More Paper Textbooks" (May 30, 2009)

For some public, local opinion on the initiatives in California, check the "Sacramento Scoop," from which the graphics in this blog was obtained: Governor Schwarzenegger Wants School Textbooks To Go Digital.

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