Thursday, August 28, 2008

Hopes, Dreams, and Infinite Possibilities

This is too cool! My daughter has been featured on the Infinite Thinking Machine. Thanks to a post by Learning With Lucie's very own Lucie deLaBruere, my little 21st Century activist is sharing her views with the world. Wow!

It's Primarily Math at Primary Math

I just stumbled upon a nifty site that's got a lot of potential. If you're teaching youngsters to appreciate mathematics, take a gander at Primary Math. This wiki allows calculating kiddies a way to to share their discoveries with other classes around the world. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What a Difference a Day Makes: Superfund365

What do your students know--if anything--about the world they're poised to inherit? Sure, they're filing into a high school class to meet state requirements for their education but how much do they know about the environment they'll one day be responsible for safeguarding? Do they care? Do your students know where the presidential candidates stand on environmental issues? What about their parents? What about you?

Even if you don't teach Environmental Science make a point to check out Superfund365. Why? Each day since September 1, 2007, Superfund365 has been visiting a toxic site currently active in the Superfund program run by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This unsettling online archive consists of almost a years worth of visualizations of some of the worst toxic sites in the United States. That's somewhere around a quarter of the total number--YIKES!--on the Superfund's National Priorities List (NPL).

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Saving Face in Language Arts

Does the following scenario sound familiar? Imagine a classroom with an educator who wants to encourage learners to explore and experience literature. The teacher in this classroom wants to help developing readers successfully envision the characters that populate a good story or novel. Despite good intentions, the students in the class are less than enthused by the prospect of mentally constructing the attributes of the characters defined by the text being read in class. Thankfully, there's a nifty, web-based resource for Language Arts teachers who're looking for a means of engaging pupils while simultaneously checking for understanding.

Ultimate Flash Face
allows users to construct faces in a manner similar to law enforcement departments that employ skilled artists to compile sketches of crime suspects. Readers who are able to comprehend details about literary characters should be able to create a portrait of these individuals. By encouraging pupils to use Ultimate Flash Face, Language Arts teachers have a free, simple, and high-interest means of assessing students' abilities to visualize details about characters in a story.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

(High)Lighten Up!

Yes, yes, I know: my postings here have been less than consistent. I apologize for that. Allow me to make up for my laxness by suggesting a resource that dedicated teachers and students will appreciate. It's called the Awesome Highlighter. It's such a wonderful resource. Why? Allow me to demonstrate.

I've got a friend who is teaching a lesson on a state of matter known as plasma. She wants her pupils to read a webpage in order to gain a better understanding of the concept. My friend wants to help her students make the most efficient use of their time. She also wants to use technology to modify instruction for special needs students. Recently, I taught her how to use the Awesome Highlighter. My pal now uses the Awesome Highlighter to accent the most salient facts on sites her class will visit. By doing so, she's able to focus her learners' attention on important details. She can show them the essence of a concept's that buried with the context of a webpage.

Case in point: My friend wants her students to read the text in a site about plasma. Look at the page BEFORE she highlighted the important information.

Now look at the webpage after it has been highlighted.

Which version will most useful to her pupils? For students who need a nudge in the right direction, this resource helps the learner immediately attend important text. I think the Awesome Highlighter could be monumentally helpful to both teachers and students. Check it out for yourself!

Here's what my highlighted post looks like:

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Write Stuff: Text Content Analysis Tool

There are definite advantages to having students compose written assignments using a word processor. For starters, many pupils (and adults) are often reluctant to write anything with a pencil or pen because they know that, after initial editing, they’ll eventually have to reconstruct the work again and again and again. Ugh! Typing their thoughts, no matter how meager the text, saves nascent authors from the hassles and frustrations of rewriting by hand. Once aspiring writers have captured the essence of their ideas in digital form, the process for crystallizing and refining concepts becomes even more efficient. The availability of a built-in dictionary/thesaurus, ever present, ever ready to offer robust linguistic assistance makes word processing even more attractive and doable. Digital manipulation of written assignments also makes sharing drafts with teacher and peers possible and much more likely, Just ask any educator or student who has used Google Docs to benefit from the power of collaboration.

For educators who are prudent enough to allow learners to integrate technology in this manner there’s an additional perk: an online text analysis resource from After pasting student-generated text into the UE Text Content Analyser this useful site displays statistics such as:


Monday, August 11, 2008

Catch a Glimpse of Learning: Screenhunter

Words are great tools for learning so much so that there's no denying that students should acquire knowledge and mastery of spelling and reading. However, images are just as valuable when it comes to conveying ideas. That's why educators and pupils should get acquainted with an image capturing resource called Screenhunter. This nifty application does a bang-up job of capturing anything that appears on a computer screen. The old way of taking a screen shot on a PC called for users to press the "Print Screen" key on the keyboard. Next, users would stop and paste the screenshot into an image editing program where it would also have to cropped, resized, and saved.

This process was very time consuming. The use of Screenhunter streamlines the capturing and use of images. For teachers and students who need to use computer images in a slideshow and other documents, Screenhunter is veritably indispensable. It's not hard to find and install the application. The steps for doing so are listed below.

First, visit the following link:
This box will appear.
Click on the SAVE FILE button.
An icon like this will appear on the desktop.
Double-click the icon and install the program. It's mainly a matter of clicking a series of NEXT buttons.
When the following screen appears, stop and take a look.
Unless the Wisdom-soft toolbar is desired, UNCHECK the checked box.
If properly installed, the following screen should appear.
At this point, it's possible to start using the program without doing much of anything else. Simply click the STAND BY button.
Note, sending the program into stand by mode keeps it running until needed. That's important to remember as Screenhunter must be running if it's to be used. New users often install the program, turn their PCs off, and later, when they restart their PCs, complain that it's not working when they've neglected to crank it up. To locate the program, simply look under the START menu.
If the program is running, it can be activated at any time by pressing the F6 key on the keyboard. When activated, users have the ability to use a crosshairs symbol (it looks like + sign) to select the portion of the computer screen to be captured. Unless the user specifies where captured images will be stored, they'll be saved to the desktop.
To save screenshots in another location, users can click on the Screenhunter shortcut at the bottom right-hand portion of the screen to access the control panel (it looks like a little hand).
After the control panel appears, users can click on the TO button.
Next the user can click on the folder icon to browse to a suitable folder where screenshots can be saved.

By the way, all of the images used in this tutorial were created using Screenhunter.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Learning in a Flash: Quizlet

Teachers who employ flashcards as part of their instruction may want to make use of Quizlet. It’s a FREE, simple, tech-driven way to go beyond the confines of ordinary flash cards. Without costing a dime, Quizlet allows users to...
  • work with randomly generated vocabulary quizzes and collaboration tools
  • keep track of the words they know (only retesting them on the ones they don’t know so well)
  • share their lists of vocabulary terms with classmates and get notified by email when others make new lists for them
  • import words from a file without having to retype them and
  • use quizzes that have been created by other teachers (what a time-saver!)

Even better is the fact that terms can be tagged as well as linked to This makes Quizlet a nifty alternative to traditional flash cards. Quizlet also promotes collaboration among students and teachers.

Friday, August 1, 2008

I See What You're Saying

A little bird told me that Matt Cruikshank has illustrated some excellent visual interpretations of popular sayings over at his blog, the Crooked Leg. For Language Arts teachers who have access to an interactive slate/whiteboard (things like eInstruction's Interwrite Pad, Mimio, Promethean's Activclassroom materials, as well as SMART products) and a projector, this would be an excellent way to promote student engagement. After seeing Matt's examples, students could be encouraged to create their own examples. Imagine turning students loose with an interactive slate/whiteboard and tools such as Inkscape, ArtRage (use the Starter Edition for free), TuxPaint, or the GIMP.

Via an excellent post at Drawn!