Saturday, April 30, 2005 

Google Map hack for housing

Many of us have recently discovered the wonder of Google Maps. Now a software developer from Dreamworks named Paul Rademacher, has developed a tool for searching available housing. Housing Maps allows you to search a number of metropolitan areas in the U.S. (and Vancouver) and allows you to narrow your search to price range, rental or for sale and even rooms for rent.
Anyone interested in a home overlooking Howe sound? It's yours for $999,000CAD.

Friday, April 29, 2005 

Knowing When to Log Off

The Chronicle: 4/22/2005: Knowing When to Log Off:
"David M. Levy, a computer scientist who loves technology and gets more than 100 e-mail messages a day, makes a point of unplugging from the Internet one day each week to clear his head. Even so, with all the e-mail messages flooding in, with academic blogs bursting with continuous debate, and with the hectic pace set by an increasingly wired world, Mr. Levy says he cannot help but feel an occasional sense of information overload."

I can relate to this guy. The challenge we face as educators is developing reflective skills, basic information literacy, and a balance between the digital and real world. I would be as guilty as most in engaging in information overload. Although a tool like RSS can help sort things out better, we still live in a society obsessed with speed and instant on. Mr. Levy discusses some techniques in the article. One of my professors has a tag on his emails about his own experiment in limiting his email check.
I'd love to hear others lots on this or management ideas you have.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005 

Google PrintSearch

Google Print Search: another way print and digital are converging....Librarians take notice.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005 

The best blogs are its own reward

Another nice perspective on blogs and adds to the definition and possiblity.
Somebody Get this Guy a Blog...Again

Monday, April 25, 2005 

Information Overload

I'm quite aware of my tendency to engage in information overload when I give a workshop. I'm also cognizant of the time teachers devote to Professional Development. So in my efforts to provide the "most bang for the buck", I give them a lot to consider.

Today I presented about the 5th blogging related workshop in the past few weeks. This is very encouraging but trying to fit a full understanding in an hour or two is challenging. For a few, I've been able to offer a couple of sessions. Still, between sharing the basic concept of blogging, looking at examples, setting up a blog, it's fairly heavy. Not to mention exploring flickr and RSS. I'm impressed and amazed at how well most teachers are dealing with all the new stuff. I'm very fortunate to be able to devote much more time in understanding and experimenting with new technologies and communication tools.

I've been emphasizing that take out of each session something you can start off with and immerse yourselves in that. Many of the participants are truly eager and quite tech savvy. These are the ones that can't get enough.

I'm encouraged not only by the "thank yous" but especially emails like the following..

"Hi Dean. I ‘love’ this new blogging stuff… Shelley and I have been working on this. It is soooo much simpler for me than webpaging."

Shelley is one of my "disciples" who has only been blogging for a month. She was able to help another teacher find success.
The blog wave continues to roll.


Watching TV Makes You Smarter

This article from theThe New York Times provides some substance to my long standing appreciation of TV. I may have mentioned before that I like TV. One of my pet peeves is people who claim they "don't watch a lot of TV". This usually comes up if I reference a show like Survivor or The Apprentice or The Amazing Race. Yes, reality tv. I like some of them, these in particular. I'm not embarrassed by it either.

The article gives credence to my belief that television offers some good things. This article looks specifically at 24 which is a show I personally haven't followed but my 18 and 15 year olds and their friends watch religously every week. The idea that television, contrary to popular belief, actually has more sophisticated programming than in the past. Take for example Starsky and Hutch. This show offered very little intelligent and threaded story that 24.

Beyond Bullets also refers to this article as an example of good storytelling that can be applied in PowerPoint presentations. I like that link. PowerPoint is storytelling and kids should use what they know about good stories to create their own.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005 

Flickr Pro sale

Flickr just dropped their pro account price to $25 US or $31CAD. Previous sale price was $42US. I was planning to get go pro and this clinched the deal. This is a great investment for a classroom or school.
There is also an educational bloggers group set up. It would be nice to see some more participants in that as well.

Monday, April 18, 2005 

People and their Macs

I always knew Mac users were a bit different (no offense, different doesn't mean bad) but this guy illustrates what a Mac user will do to take his Mac with him whereever he goes.

This video shows how to install a fully functional computer into your min-van. Complete with 15 inch drop down LCD monitor, wireless internet, keyboard and mouse. I could really use this when my wife "pops into" a quilt store.

It's a 37MB zip file in Windows Media Format.

Another move to anywhere, anytime access.

Saturday, April 16, 2005 

The Case Against Textbooks

The Case Against Textbooks via Will Richardson

Interesting perspective. Feel free to post a comment (you can post anonymously if you don't have a blogger profile)

Friday, April 15, 2005 

Math teachers unite!

I recently discovered a few Math teachers blogging. This is great. There has been a strong trend towards developing language skills in mathematics and many teachers are moving in this direction.

Here are three math teachers using blogging in their classrooms.

  • Mr. Fort in Georgia...has set up blogs for his students and is trying to developing reflection and discussion
  • Mr. Kaminski in Alberta.
  • Mr. Kuropatwa from Winipeg, Manitoba has one specifically for his students where they are the contributors as well. He also has a personal blog
  • Mr. Tubbs from Ohio...writes about technology integration in general and has some neat ideas about using Flickr with students. His own flickr site has some nice math photos.
Each one has come up with their own way of using blogs but reading bits and pieces of their postings you sense some thoughtful beginnings and interest.

These are obviously three teachers who value language and its role in mathematics. One even has his students watch the CBS series NUMB3ERS which features crime investigation using mathematics. All this stuff is helping make math cool....some would say it always has been cool.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005 

Good is the Enemy of Great

Tiger Woods won his 4th green jacket on Sunday and as usual I gathered with 4 of my golf buddies to eat a mock up of the champions dinner meal and watch the tournament. What I found most interesting about Tiger's win was his insistence that he needed to change his swing in order to get better. Even with all the media criticizing him and questioning him, he knew what he had to do. He has no interest in being good...he only wants to be great.

Jim Collins, in his book Good to Great, says the enemy of great is good. As he studied thirteen companies that moved from good companies to great companies, he compared them with good companies that remain only good. (You'll have to read the book for his definitions of good and great, although I have a feeling I'll be referring to it some more as I delve into it further). Those who settled for good were destined to remain good. Listen to this 1 minute explanation by Jim Collins.

Ultimately, we'd love our students to try to achieve greatness but I'm watching teachers and myself to see if we want to be great. As was mentioned in my last post via Will R., ...And frankly, I don't know that I've learned as much from any other type of activity as I have from this type. And I learn when I'm doing just what I'm doing now (sweat on brow.)

I think we're seeing some greatness emerge in our community of learners. Teachers working hard, trying to connect with each other and their students. I doubt before blogging that these were bad teachers. They were probably very good. I see a lot of good teachers and a few that want to be great. I hope I don't let good stop me from being great.

Monday, April 11, 2005 

Posting vs. Blogging

This is a posting from last May but it helps to define for newbies the difference between posting, blogging and journaling.

Posting vs. Blogging

Keep in mind, these definitions are merely ideas and concepts that define how some educators are attempting to use the blog in accordance with best practice.

As many of us have learned more about information literacy when it comes to effective and productive research (think back to your first experiences using the internet for research), many are working diligently at helping students understand and utilize new technologies in communication.

Thursday, April 07, 2005 

Flickr Podcast?

Steve at teach42 asked me to record my workshop on April 6th. (After all, much of the material was his). I did and you can check it out here. (Not sure about my encoding. It wouldn't play in Windows Media but worked in iTunes.)

I had a small group of 8 teachers (all women does that mean anything). All seemed eager to get more out of their photos so hopefully they'll find it as useful as I do.

Not sure if this is considered my first podcast. I didn't do much editing on it and not sure how interesting it is for those seasoned podcasters or flickrers but there you have it.


Looking for the best of RSS

As the blog waves continues to roll, I'm currently working with a group of 5th grade students on creating blogs etc..

We began with looking at several blogs including Anne Davis' and the great work of her students. My students were very eager to respond and immediately made the great connection of interaction and sharing that blogs provide.

Today we created their blog accounts and they made their initial posts.

We want to go full speed ahead. That means learning to use sites like Flickr and using RSS. Speaking of RSS, does anyone have a news site for kids that has an RSS feed? Bloglines search didn't come up with much at all. Also, other than searching the public list of blogrolls, I'd love for people to share their favourite feeds for:
  • school administrators
  • elementary teachers
  • high school teachers
  • students
  • other educational feeds
You can look at my Blogroll to see which feeds I already subscribe to but as I bring more and more into the "fold", I'd like to have a richer set of resources to showcase and introduce to them as they begin in RSS.

By the way, when does one officially attain the title of "blogvangelist"? I'm not sure if I am one but I've yet to see the definition. I wonder if Will R. will start issuing membership cards or how 'bout some t-shirts???

Wednesday, April 06, 2005 

GPS with the kids

Had an interesting day at Ross with Grades 4 and 5 introducing them to GPS and Geocaching. We certainly had some problems getting accurate satellite readings. Even with all the problems, there was no lack of interest and enthusiasm. Lots of math, science and social studies concepts are necessary for them to develop understanding on Global Positioning. We'll try again on Friday.

This is the location of the parking lot.
.Geocache location

Here are the enthusiastic kids.

ross geocacher 1

Tuesday, April 05, 2005 

The buzz about Google Maps

Nothing like google to keep "kickin' it up a notch".

Google maps is a relatively new feature from google and they are adding new features all the time. The most recent one that I like is the addition of satellite images. Taken from the NASA World Wind program, you can get a high resolution image of any place in North America.

Here's the map image of Epcot Center in Disney World. Click on it to see a larger version.
epcot map

Here's the same location with the satellite image.

I had some problems getting the World Wind program to work because it requires a fairly robust machine but I did manage to get it running. My wife commented on my infatuation with the program as I managed to zoom into the exact golf hole that I was watching on TV.
I related my childhood love of maps and felt like a kid in a candy store. It's very cool. There are only limited urban areas that have detailed high resolution photos which was kind of disappointed but it was still very cool.

Trying out google maps now I see better images for Canada. I complained earlier that the Canadian content was weak, but was pleasantly surprised as I pulled up this picture of my neighbourhood. I have a higher res picture on my Flickr site.

moose jaw map

This application has endless possibilities with students. As Steve Dembo said, it makes me want to teach geography!

Monday, April 04, 2005 

It's not all bad

USA Today has an interesting story on how video games can promote physical activity. An insurance agency is testing the game Dance Dance Revolution to see if it can help kids lose weight. The results thus far are quite postive. My kids play the game regularly so I can attest to the vigourous workout it provides.

Using video games for educational purpose is being explored more and more.

After the recent study out of Munich on how computers are bad for kids and the perception that computers are promoting isolation and contributing to declining social skills, this article once again shows how technology is just a tool and can be used for developing postive characteristics. Many edu-bloggers will attest to the fact that blogging for example, is contributing to better socialization. Blanket statements regarding technology are dangerous and somewhat ignorant.

Those of us involved in ed tech need to keep our clients (students, teachers, administrators, parents, media...okay everyone!) aware of how technology is as powerful as its users decide. Perhaps the principal in Vermont should rethink his decision to ban blogging.