Thursday, July 31, 2008 Gets a Tasty New Look

If you're a user who hasn't done much tagging lately, you'll pleased to know that the venerable social bookmarking site has updated its look as well as its amusing URL. These days users can get to the site by surfing over to where they'll find familiar and new features.

For those who've never used it, Delicious allows registered users to quickly bookmark websites. "So what? I can already do that!" you say. True enough. However, if you're bookmarking/saving to favorites on your computer, you're in for trouble. Sooner or later your computer will let you down. It's not a matter of if. It's only a matter of when. That's why Delicious and other web-based (social) bookmarking tools are so useful...*ahem* necessary these days. Delicious and its counterparts (i.e., services like Google Notebook) allow you to save, annotate, and organize web-based resources. Doing so allows you to access those resources anywhere there's an internet connection.

Think about that for a second.

If you save your favorite bookmarked sites to the web where they can be accessed, edited, and used, you're not at the mercy of one computer. That's liberating, very liberating. Having that kind of immediate access is also a time and life saver. Just ask anyone who's been called upon to share web-based resources only to discover the pc being used has crashed or otherwise been incapacitated. Being able to get to bookmarked sites (not to mention files--check out eSnips, Divshare, Secondbrain) and rapidly share them with others is a prerequisite for administrators, educators, media specialist, students, parents, and uh...really, all citizens.

Why not register for a Delicious account? It's pretty simple. Go to the site and click on the green, Join Now button.
Enter the requested details. Make sure to check the "I have read and agree to the Terms of Service" checkbox and click on the Register button when you've accomplished the task.

Afterward, you'll need to install add the Delicious buttons to your computer.
The buttons make Delicious easy to use so installing them is necessary. If you're a Firefox user, you need to click on the Add Buttons icon like so.
Don't be surprised if Firefox prevents you from immediately installing the buttons. You'll need to look at the top of the page and click the “Edit Options” (or Allow) button.

After allowing the buttons to load, you may seen a message like this:

Just continue. Click the Install Now button. You'll need to restart Firefox. When you do, you'll see this in your browser.
I won't go into all the specifics here because Delicious has a fabulous introduction to its bookmark buttons for Firefox. Internet Explorer fans needn't fear. There are buttons for IE users as well. Suffice it to say, these buttons will help you master your use and collection of websites. Once you've registered for a Delicious account, installed the buttons, and explored the bookmarking buttons, you'll never go back to saving websites the old-fashioned way.

Go on...take a bite and savor the flavor of efficiency and effectiveness. It's positively Delicious!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Snooze News You Can Use: Kuku Klok

Much to the dismay of educators and students everywhere who've grown accustomed to staying up late, school is about to begin. That means it's time to start getting up early again. *Yawn* For those die hard night owls who're prone to falling asleep over a laptop, there's a useful online tool designed to rouse even the heaviest sleeper from the most indolent slumber. Swiss made Kuku Klok is an online alarm clock that's designed to wake anyone up. With a choice of four alarm sounds--cockerel, classic alarm clock, electronic beep, and slayer guitar--all sleepy heads inthe vincinty will be alert in seconds. Worried that a disruption in internet service might pull the plug on this 21st Century rooster? Don't fret. Once this resource is loaded, the alarm will work even if a user's internet connection goes kaput!

Kuku Klok is also be helpful for those who have no trouble getting up in the morning. This web-accessible clock is perfect for educators who want to remind students when it's time to move along from one learning station to another. As a free, auditory prompt, Kuku Klok is worth crowing about.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

In the Know About Knol

You've heard of Wikipedia but what about Knol? A knol, according to Google, is a unit of knowledge. This could be the start of something big.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Color Me Excited: Interactive Whiteboards and Bomomo

I'm in Albany, Georgia this week attending SMART Notebook 10 certification training. Although I already know a great deal about a number of slates and interactive whiteboards--eInstruction's Interwrite Pad, Mimio, Promethean's Activclassroom materials, as well as SMART products to name a few--I've picked up a few, novel tricks and enjoyed catching up with a few old (and new) friends. During some of the intermissions between the training, a few of my friends disucussed ways to get reluctant educators to warm up to the idea of integrating interactive whiteboards and slates within their instructional practices. I've got an idea that I think will help to foster teacher and student use of IWBs. My ideas is based on this premise: people are more inclined to do something that is enjoyable.

In this case, fun comes in the form of Bomomo, an addictive Flash-based art application that runs in a browser such as Firefox. I'm willing to bet that once technophobic educators play around with Bomomo and create some lovely digital images, their fear of IWBs and similar tools will eventually dissipate. Why? That's easy: Bomomo is fun and offers users to create something beautiful.
Using Bomomo with a traditional mouse is relatively simple. One merely clicks on a tool and drags it around, generating beautiful random swirls or spots of color. The tools look like this:

When combined with an IWB such as the SMARTBoard, it's even easier and even more engaging. I believe educators and students would like employing Bomomo as a kind of "warm up" exercise before going on to more refined uses of an IWB. Even if instructors and pupils only play around with Bomomo and want to keep their works of art, they. Users need only click on the disk icon and to save the finished products as jpg image files.

They also have the option of saving their Bomomo masterpieces as a high quality png image files.

What do you think? Is this just a silly diversion or a resource worthy of use in the classroom? How might teachers or students make use of Bomomo in an instructional manner? Anyone care to offer an opinion?

Related links:
Still feeling artistic? Get in touch with your inner Jackson Pollock.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Keeping an Eye on Politics:

Here's a resource for educators who'll soon be guiding students through the wondrous world of Political Science. is diligently building an impressive internet hub for information related to elections. The site's creators are persistently collecting useful data about district demographics, votes, lobbying records, campaign finance reports, and making the information available in one location that's a godsend for teachers and students (not to mention interested voters).

Using the site is very easy. Simply supply the zip code of an area and click the GO button.
Afterward, the site returns pertinent information about the district and its representative.

Note that the data is also accompanied by graphs. Having students review the graphs along with investigations of the information at sites such as the Census Bureau and StateMaster is a great way to facilitate a better understanding of the forces that drive national, state, and local government. After reviewing and discussing what they've discovered, pupils could generate their own graphs, make predictions about voter choice, political outcomes and decisions, as well as how future policies will be shaped. offers visitors an opportunity to carefully examine political factors that come into play during elections. By giving citizens, educators, and students access to information that is often ignored, the site promotes a more thoughtful approach to civic responsibility. Thank goodness!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sand Sans Sand

Whether you teach Art or Geology, you'll find worth a visit. It's a site that is artistically cerebral. Why? It allows visitors to engage in cyber-sand painting. Don't be surprised if all you see is an apparent blank, grey screen when you visit the site. Just press and hold your left-mouse button for a little while and watch what happens. Click on the tiny square in the upper left-hand corner and access these instructions:

A glimpse at the gallery that accompanies the site is likely to whet anyone's appetite for playing with this intriguing tool for self-expression. How could this site be used in a classroom? Teachers and students studying Art could combine with a traditional lesson related to sand painting, thereby allowing learners to demonstrate synthesis (from Dr. Benjamin Bloom's well-known Taxonomy of Educational Objectives) in a surprising pleasing manner.

For pupils in a Science or Social Studies classroom, would be useful for exploring sedimentary rocks, earth science, geology and similar topics. Paired with Landcraft and other resources, would wow students and open up a rich discussion about how the face of our planet is changed by natural forces.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Time (is Running) Out

Students in different countries all over the globe are equal in one respect--they spend a great deal of their time in high school. They have to do that. That said, what do they gain for their efforts? Do these young people end up with the same prospects? What will they eventually contribute to the global economy, industry, and society?

Strong American Schools, a project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, a nonpartisan campaign supported by The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation investigates these and other, related questions over at ED in '08. Parents who want their kids to live a good life will want to visit the site. I don't expect many high schools to even know about this. Why? Considering that many of the schools I serve regularly block blogs. I doubt that this resource is even on their radar.

What are your thoughts? Are the schools that our children attend meeting their needs? Are our children prepared to make the world a better place? Will they have the skills to succeed and survive?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Long and Short of It: TinyURL

Teachers and students like using the internet. There are some extremely useful links to frequent and integrate into classroom activities. However, excessively long web addresses are enough to dissuade both educators and pupils from sharing and making it to some very good sites. For example, a teacher in Roswell, New Mexico may chance upon an interactive map of her region. She may be very excited about referring to or otherwise using the map in a lesson. She finds the web address.

The teacher dutifully copies and pastes it into an email to a colleague or an assignment for her second period class. It looks like this when she does:,+nm&ie=UTF8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&ll=33.426284,-104.522552&spn=0.249285,0.42572&z=11&iwloc=addr


Thankfully, the teacher has heard of TinyURL.

She pastes that burdensome link into the textbox at TinyURL.
After clicking on the Make TinyURL button, ta-da, her wooly web address suddenly becomes much more manageable.
The once, maddeningly long web address has been reduced to:, an address that is easily shared and accessed.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Hot Tool for Temporal Thinking: Timetoast

Time is always ticking away. Each second we breathe, ephemeral parts of our experience disappear into the past, never to return. Funny, isn't it, how, during odious tasks, time practically slows to the pace of cold honey, barely creeping by, leaving us with the impression that eternity has decided to freeze us in an agonizing amber of painful seconds. Oddly enough, however, during those instances when we're excited about what we're doing, fully engaged, time flies past us leaving us asking, "Where did the hours go?" As researchers examine the characteristics of time and help us understand how our brains can control it, students in classrooms all over the world long for a time when learning will be easier and more relevant.

No matter what we think of time and its mysterious nature, it's an integral part in understanding how and why things happen. When learners focus on time, this component of human experience brings a great deal of temporal context to concepts being explored. Helping pupils construct a timeline promotes the transfer of knowledge. Thankfully, technology makes it possible for our learners to access a useful tool for placing events in sequential order. It's called Timetoast and it's a resource that's guaranteed to make chronological categorization very comfortable. Timetoast is a free service that allows registered users to generate snazzy interactive resources (i.e, robust timelines packed with images and hyperlinks). Once created, the timelines can be shared with anyone via the web.

To get started, visit the Timetoast website.

Once there, sign up for an account.
A screen like this'll pop up. Merely supply the requested information. We'll need to make sure the email account we're supplying is a functioning email account. Timetoast will send us a link to the activate the account.

After supplying the requested information, press the Sign up button.
A confirmation message appears telling us to check the email account we supplied.
Sure enough, if we check our email account, we get a note asking us to activate our new Timetoast account.

When we open the email, we get a message that includes a link. We click the link.
Clicking on the link activates our new account.

As the message, indicates, this is the perfect time to create a new timeline. We click the link provided.

We're greeted with this screen:

We decide to create a timeline about the life of Charles Dickens. So, we name the timeline accordingly.
We also decide to use an image to accompany our timeline. We decide to use an image that we have on our computer. So, we click the Choose an image button.
At this point, we'll need to upload an image to our account at Timetoast. Think of Timetoast as being a filing cabinet that's designed to hold all of the components needed for assembling our timeline. If we want an image to appear in a timeline, we'll need to upload or deliver that image to Timetoast who'll graciously hold onto it until the graphic is needed. We click on the Upload an image button.
After locating the picture we want, we're ready to go. Our image of Dickens appears in the window.
We click the Done button.
With our picture of Dickens successfully uploaded, we click the GO button.
Now, we're ready to add details about the major events to our timeline about the life of Charles Dickens. Therefore, we click the Add an Event button.
A dialog box pops up. This box allows us to Title our event (in this case, the birth of Dickens) and choose the date associated with the event. Note that we can also add a description and choose an appropriate image as well.

We begin to add our details. Dickens was born on February 7, 1812 so we select that date from the pull-down menu.
We add the pertinent details about the date date in the Description box.
We decide to link this description to a website that'll give our audience even more information about the topic. We do this by clicking the link icon next to the word Description.
With the window that opens, we supply a title for our Link Text as well as the URL (or website) of the resource we want to reference. We people look at our timeline and they come to the event dealing with the Birthplace of Charles Dickens, they'll be taken to a webpage giving more details about the topic.
As before, we can even choose and upload an image to represent this portion of the timeline. We simply click the Choose an image button.
Once again, we've decided to upload an image from our computer. Note that we could link to an image from someone else's site. However, as this can be forwned upon, we'll use an image we've either downloaded or created (say, for example, by using the popular and free GIMP).
In this instance, we're using an image of a map of the area where Dickens was born. After locating the image on on our computer, we're ready.
Now that all of the important information has been associated with the date, we're prepared to place the event in the timeline. we'll do this by clicking the Create Event button.

So, we click the Create Event button.
Our timeline has one event, the birth of Charles Dickens.
That's the process. All that remains to be done now is to continue to add events until the timeline about our topic is complete. We need only click the Add an Event button to return to our work.
We may, for example, choose to add an event about the hard work that Dickens endured as a 12 year old child, work that later found its way into his major stories.
We may also wish to submit information about his work as an apprentice law clerk and how the experience resonated throughout his work about injustice and poverty.
The more events we add to our timeline, the more detailed it becomes.

When viewing our timeline, we can expand or collapse it by clicking the tabs to the left or right of the line.
To access the information, we've linked to each event, our audience can click on the plus sign (+) in the upper right hand corner of each event box. Note that this event also has an uploaded image associated with it.
Clicking on the plus sign opens the event, revealing more details which, in turn, add context to the concept. In this case, the details explore the hard work Dickens undertook at age 12 in order to support his struggling family.
Our timeline can also give viewers access to geographical information surrounding an event. In this case, it's the birthplace of Dickens.

Our time is ready to be published. Until we publish it, it's only a working draft. We can edit or delete it as we see fit. We can come back to the timeline and add details to it.
Once we click the Publish button, the timeline will be accessible to the public.
There are many reasons why educators should integrate this resource within their content. Consider the power in having students research a meaningful topic or concept and construct a timeline related to it. This tool is free to use. It costs nothing but has the potential to pay great dividends in terms of understanding. Creating a timeline is a way to have pupils produce evidence of their learning. Using Timetoast also increases the likelihood that students will be using higher level thinking skills.