Saturday, December 31, 2005

Mount St. Helens releasing lava at astonishing pace

Roughly every three seconds, the equivalent of a large dump truck load of lava -- 10 cubic yards -- oozes into the crater of Mount St. Helens, and with the molten rock comes a steady drumfire of small earthquakes

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Predictions for Educational Technology in 2006

Anticipation of returning to school bright and early Monday morning, makes me a little nauseous. Maybe it is all the left-overs. Anyway-- while reading my blogines this morning, and drinking several cups of ginger bread flavored coffee, this useless information somehow made its way to my fingers: Predictions for Educational Technology in 2006.

Rob Hof’s article in the weeks BusinessWeek blog caused me to want to copy his writing idea. Thanks Rob. My writing style really lacks in many areas, but if you do not like it, go back to reading your aggregator, listen to PBS radio, or turn off your computer and go stand outside in the fresh air and run around the block.
It you are still read this, I hope you enjoy my stupid list of edtech predictions for the coming year-IMHO (in my humble opinion).

* In the wake of publicity about mistakes and fabrications on various entries, the online volunteer-written encyclopedia Wikipedia will see growth skyrocket.

* Psychologists will identify a new disease, tagophilia: the obsessive compulsion to label everything on the Web using and other tagging sites. However, when Web 2.0 companies hear about it, they hire them all, quickly turning a neurosis into a promising new profession. My source: Rob Hof BusinessWeek

* Steven Dembo’s video wish list will grow to include a huge HDTV screen, Sony Vaio PC (and a Linux box with all the software, to make Miguel smile)

* Skype conference calls will make their way into the science classroom for students to create podcasts that are more “two-way” conversations about science topics and less “one-way” reading of scripts from their textbooks. Marc Pensky will be proud of this.

* Moodle’s new version will be rolled-out. The question is–will I be able to safely update to the new version without distroying months of testbank editing. I predict a major backing-up of our back-up.

* Blogging using and others will continue to be of interest between students, teachers, and administrators and the community.

* Video blogs on the Internet will not be as popular in classrooms due to bandwidth and concern of security for students, but will be used more as a way to communicate with homes. “this week I learned ____ in math and ____in social studies___and about_____ in science”. Including work samples or video clips of student work. Now, for the hard part, I predict homes will continue to not pay attention to what is happening at school until something “goes wrong.” Note: this is not true for all homes, but way too many– IMHO.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Top "7" Personal Tech Highlights for 2005

Shared the "podcast-kool-aid" with many educational professionals

Quoted in nationally syndicated magazine: student's using wikis in the classroom

Moodle site launched for online courses in our school district

Posted 8 Classroom Podcast Episodes, listed in iTunes and Yahoo directories: middle school and high school students featured as they reflect on their learning in science class.

Classroom Podcasts noted on Techpod

Technology Facilitator - North Whiteville Academy

Launched P2LS blog

Watch NOVA programs online for free !

This is a great science classroom resource. The Einstein piece on E=mc^2 isn't online yet, but for now you can watch "Elegant Universe", "Cracking the Code of Life", "Life's Greatest Miracle", "MARS - Dead or Alive?", among many others. . .

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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Savings With Open Source in Schools

This has been a point of discussion for some time. Let's assume that none of your school's families have computers and the students only use computers at school, then I can see using open source for teaching computer skills. As long as little Sally's grandmother has a PC with Works and her uncle has a PC with Word, Excel, and Powerpoint-- I see a problem. For example, I have a student that uses OpenOffice at home. When he downloads a template from our Moodle server to create his weekly current event, OpenOffice can open the file with not problem. However, he has never mastered to extra step to save his OpenOffice document to .doc file format. I know it should not bother me that his document does not display the same as the other students, but it actually makes my assessment process more difficult. When teachers use a Word document to assess student's work, we can post comments that can be read and responded to by the student. This comment feature reduces me from having to single out mistakes students make in their writing. From personal experience, and having received many writing assignments with so much red ink marked on them that I could not read them, I try to attach my comments with post-its. It is just one of those quarks of mine.

Using Open Source software Noxon School District saved $92,675.20. Linux and Open Source software allowed this school district to provide cutting edge technology to students.

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I have been schooled on this topic today (Dec. 27th). Now I have a list of links to Linux distros that may work better than Novell's and a list of video editing apps for Linux. Several really good points have surfaced over on Miguel's blog: I have enjoyed replying to this topic. It has provided me with an enlightened view of open source. I still will continue to use our commercial software to edit video with our students and teachers. It works, it is paid for and the teachers know how to use it. Our students are learning how to use it too. As for a question of why we teach them to use video equipment, our state has a standard course of study: In accordance to Objective 3SC.05, "Select and use technology tools for class presentations". This is my justification. I will keep looking for open source software to use in my classroom.

I wonder this: how many people who advocate the use of Open Source in schools are actually using it as their primary OS? We've all got our excuses, but at the end of the day, who's actually walking the talk? I use Moodle and tikiwiki everyday with my students. But, my PowerBook running OS X is what I prefer. I have several apps that are open source running on it. Would I use Linux--absolutely. Should I use it- not without tech support. Would it help our school district- that is a good question and in my humble opinion is out of my realm of influence, yet is still food for thought.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Top 10 little-known science stories of 2005

"A compilation of 10 amazing science stories, all quite interesting. Who would have ever thought that we could use honey bees to find land mines?"

I have a former student that told me after returning from Afganistan that this was something our troops really like to use in caves to go in ahead of his follow ground forces.

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A beautiful view of Saturn for Christmas

One of the latest colour shots of spectacular saturn, from the Cassini probe mission reveal our solar system's unique beauty for all to see as though we were viewing it with our eyes.Few sights in the solar system are more strikingly beautiful than softly hued Saturn embraced by the shadows of its stately rings.

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Using Performancing to Blog

I am writing this blog entry using my latest Firefox extension-- Performancing. I think this is the best thing I have seen in a while. I really like the way that this extension can be launched by clicking an icon in the lower corner of the browser and start typing. Well, it does not help me write any better, and it does not have a spell checker. This is the real thing.

I think I am going to stick with Blogger's text editor. I have to have spell checker. Not sure how to add an image with Performancing. Maybe it will work if I launch the editor while I am viewing my Flickr account. Have to try this tomorrow.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Mass Dodo Grave Found- Now this is Real Science!

Scientists have discovered the "beautifully preserved" bones of about 20 dodos at a dig site in Mauritius. This is amazing since no complete Dodo skeleton has ever been found. The mystery is why they are buried together like this...Ok, I have an idea. Maybe the birds were gathered for a Dodo seasonal ritual. They could have been waiting for their other Dodos in their family to arrive at Grandma's house for a dinner, when volcanic ash covered them in a flash. What clues will the scientists be able to pull together? It all depends on how many artifacts they can find still in the area. When lots of bones are found in a dig site, this indicates that the site was not disrupted by erosional forces and was quickly covered after the death of the animals.

I will be studying fossils with my students when we return from our break. This will be an interesting story to have them read.

Still have a couple of last minute shopping items. Have a Merry Christmas. Thanks for reading my blog. If you have just found it, I invite you to add me to your RSS aggregator and constructive comments are always appreciated. I know I can not spell and write like I talk, but blogging helps me try to reflect on what has worked and what needs some work on.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

OMG -- WWAY is using

In today's email from one of our local area tv stations, I noticed to my surprise that they had linked stories into their web site. I hope to get to the bottom of this. I will email the TWIT crew today and ask if Kevin Rose and the boys at DIGG a news source/syndication. I think it is cool. A little RSS goes a long way. I hope the web guys at WWAY are looking at the feeds. DIGG gets some weird stuff from now and then. The guys at WWAY may need a disclaimer. I wonder if there corporate legal department has signed off on this yet. This is so exciting. It is really a cool example of that Web 2.0 is all about. Hum, I wonder if DIGG news feed would be something our superintendent and school board would allow on our school district's web site? Heck no!!! If one parent called to complain about a single dirty word in a DIGG news article, the link would be DELETED in minutes. Not that DIGG contributors are all evil, but-- well-- call me cautious.

It will be interesting to see how long they keep this on their site.

Winter Solstice

Dave Winer blogged this morning: "Congratulations, you made it to the shortest day of the year. They all get longer from this point on." His post reminded me of interesting science lessons about seasons.

More Stuff
Cool Picture!
USNO Earth Seasons site

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Electricity generated by mixing sea and river water

Dutch and Norwegian scientists have invented devices that generate electricity by mixing sea and river water. Science news update!

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How Google woos the best and brightest

Free cafeteria food, annual ski trips to the Sierra and free laundry are just some of the fringe benefits of working at Google...

Maybe school systems that are having a difficult time attracting and retaining qualified teachers and administrators need to read this. Sure, principals eat free in the school cafeteria, but school pizza and french fries somehow pale to the cuisine of Google's cafeteria food. Annual ski trips...hum, I do not know too many teachers in our district that ski. Our district is 5-6 hours from the mountains. Maybe we could offer them a beach trip. Free laundry, now that would be nice! In our town, we could set them up an account at the two local laundries. Our school board actually gave our teachers a free car wash each month for 12 months. That was so nice. This past week, my wife noted that the local suppliment for two systems differs by $400 with about the same years of experience.

Bottom-line: Follow the money! We have only a short time to earn money. The cost of living is higher in different areas of the country, and job security is worthless these days. Buy cheap housing and term insurance. Drive the biggest SUV you can park in your mobile home parking lot space. Also, buy and sell everything at your local flea market. Drink the most expensive water you can find.

Last but not least-- do not follow any of my suggestions. I will have to teach until I am 60 before I can retire. Even then, I will not make enough to live the way I am right now, so I know I will have to continue working as log as my health can hold out or until I get fired.

This is why I work-out at the gym 4-5 times each week. I once told my family I wanted to rust-out, not wear-out. I regret having made that mistake many times. We never listen to advice. Well, I never have. But what do I know, I am just a teacher.

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Merry Christmas From The RIAA

The music industry dropped 751 copyright-infringement lawsuits in the mail today. Today in my computer class, we were editing their iMovie. I did not read about this "Christmas Present" until after class was over. My students wanted to use their favorite rap star's music to play in the background of their iMovie. We took the time to mention copyright laws. They do not understand it is against the law. My student reply to my mini-lecture on copyright was--"it ain't against the law Mr. Blake, until you get caught."

We live in a challenging world.

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Friday is a Half-Day

This past week, our students have been very busy crafting plaster masks. After applying a layer of petroleum jelly on the faces of the students, three layers of cloth with plaster embedded in it was applied to their faces. We took tons of images of the process. We burned a CD of the images and loaded them on our mobile laptop lab and students edited a short iMovie. Teaching middle schoolers how to use iMovie is a real challenge. They do not get it. I know the project was too complicated for their first iMovie project, but they were engaged in the painting of the masks. I assumed that the students would like to see images of their masks and even take home a DVD to share with family. I am not sure they understand how much their parents would like to see what they have been doing at school. Maybe it is because they do not think that anyone will care?

I am just very thankful that Friday is a SHORT DAY! I will link a slide show of images posted in Flickr later. I need to rest up!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

New coke to blend coffee and coke

New "Coke Blak" is a new coffee/coke drink by Coca-Cola. This will fast become a staple in teacher lounges across the nation. I am looking for a case to go in ours today. Maybe WallyWorld has it. Food Lion may have them in about 12 months. I have a friend that works at the Coke distributorship. Must-call-NOW.

Where is that coffee CUP? It is around here some where....later

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The iPod Mini is INCREASING in value.

iPod Mini's are selling on eBay for up to $76 more than the original price, as people now want the player as its less popular than other iPods. This is interesting because both my daughters have them. Sometimes the newest and best is not always the most popular tech toys.

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Saturday, December 10, 2005

Geek squad found a surprise inside of a PC.

Worth watching. (Google Video) Ok, that is not why I posted this link in my blog for, I did not really find the video that interesting. However, what about using this with college students to post short video productions. I could see my 12th graders, who are over the age of 16, creating short class projects to share with the class on this. The images and content would need to be original and not contain any copyrighted content. For example, I have my students create a video of how to sharpen a pencil. I know Google wants videos like the one I linked to in this blog post. But after reading the fine print, I could not see why my students, could with their own account upload them. I will need to run this by some folks before jumping on this one.

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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Apple rumours and realities

Quite a number of pundits have gone out and predicted the appearance of Intel based Powerbooks from Apple this January - but it isn't going to happen.

For my money, I think Steve would love to have announced it last month. He can wait til June now. iPods will carry him over this Quarter. The new PowerBooks will have to be right before they come out. If not, Dell and the other PC laptop companies will "burn Apple a new ONE".

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5000 Gnome Desktops in macedonian schools

The software group Free Software Macedonia has deployed Linux in 468 schools 182 computer labs. Specifically the Ubuntu distro.

This is a neat distro on Linux, I have been looking at it for a few weeks, and think it would really help schools with a bare-bones budget. But, I am not sure the students would like it. Our American students are spoiled rotten! I just wish my spoiled brats could see the smiles on the faces of the Macedonian student's as they learn how to "out score" our students on International math assessments. Oh well--time to head to work.

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Technology Enabled Leather Jacket

Add this to my Christmas List!!!

Definitely a cool idea for those who love taking their gadgets with them. This leather jacket is from the Technology Enabled Clothing line of Scottevest - and it has 41 pockets, many of them hidden, along with a tunnel architecture to keep headphone wires inside the lining of the jacket!

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Your Name On A NASA Microchip

How Cool is this?

Send your name to the asteroid belt on the Dawn spacecraft. Your name will be recorded onto a microchip that will be placed aboard the spacecraft accompanying it on its mission to the asteroid belt.

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Mars Rovers may be seeing their Last days....barely chugging along

Signs of fatigue are beginning to show: Around 10 days ago, the mechanical arm on Opportunity stopped moving, One of the steering actuators has also blown on Opportunity, Rock Abrasion Tool has worn out...

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Monday, December 05, 2005

Meteor Impact Craters - Google Satellite Map

Some of these craters in the Earth are massive, and many people don't even realize they're there...... see if there's one near you.....This is a great site for Earth Science students to view. We have the free version of Google Earth installed on our PCs. Nice tool, now we need to setup a workshop to create curriculum materials to use in our classrooms.

Anyone got any resources or links to share?

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NASA ditches IE in favor of Firefox

This got my attention:
According to Dan Turner "NASA has given up entirely on Internet Explorer. Now every time you go to a page using IE, you get up to three prompts telling you how risky it is to run scripts. The official line is that the newest IE vulnerability was the proverbial straw, and now NASA's standard browser is Firefox."

Firefox is the default on our school computers.

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Saturday, December 03, 2005

Open House Ideas for Our School? My 2 Cents

While reading my blogline rss feeds this morning, I ran across a neat idea at Education World's site.

What will you do at parent open house night to demonstrate that your classroom is one in which technology will be used appropriately and effectively? The Ed World Tech Team has some suggestions.

"is to have students create multimedia presentations depicting the experiences they had over the summer. Some students might use slide show technology to create their presentations; others might choose video/DVD. It depends on what's available. Having students create that kind of presentation early in the school year also can be a great introductory exercise to help them get to know a bit more about one another."

This sounds really interesting. However, in our alternative school, our students transfer in at different times. I am not sure this is an idea we could accomplish, but I still like it.

"Another idea is to have students create electronic portfolios of their activities over the summer or even during the school year,"

I have tried this, but it is a challenge for me to keep up with folders and files when students forget to save their work to the server and never remember which computer they created content on. I think the only way to do this would be if students had their own thumb or flash drive which they would be assigned to keep all their eportfolio activities on. Every week, they could back the info up on the server for safe keeping. They can not keep up with a pencil much less a $50-80 thumb drive. Sorry, printed copies are alot harder for teenages to drop in the toilet or someone steal them from them (just to list a couple fo the excuses I have heard). This is a work in progress with many challenges.

"PowerPoint presentations composed of pictures of each student and a quick sentence work well, too," Wonnacott noted. "I take a picture of each child at his/her desk, load them into PowerPoint and have students, one at a time, write a sentence of welcome to mom and dad. I want to expand on that idea this year with my eighth grade students. Because this is their last year here, I plan to use my Mavica to take a small video clip of each of my 8th graders and then ask each of them to relate a grade school memory."

Of the ideas that are in this article, this might really be the best. We have tried the student faces pics, but I like the idea about the students writing a sentence of welcome to the "parent figures." We also have taken short video clips, but not of everyone. We have students that do not allow their faces photographed. But, if they knew it was for parent night, that might work! I like it.. I like it

"I also have third graders make their own slide shows of math facts, with and without the answer," said Wonnacott. "I loop these together and show them on one computer, as well. My fifth graders currently are making PowerPoint presentations about our 50 states, researching and displaying facts as a technological poster, which I hope to be able to display at Open House night too."

This will work too. Our math teacher is tech savvy. He actually have created vodcasts of his students. I need to work with him on these, just do not know when. Not sure if I understand the idea of their states poster...I need more infor on this one.

"At open house," Greene noted, "the teacher can display as many projects as possible -- one to a computer. Parents can navigate through them to see what their kids can do. Hypermedia projects also can be posted online. Those parents who cannot attend the open house can still navigate through the class' projects through their Web browser."

Links to projects on our school website would be great. Nice touch and also involves the community

"For the teacher who has advanced computer skills," Lucy Gray told Education World, "I'd recommend doing a podcast of material you plan to cover with parents at Open House. Publish the podcast after the actual event so parents can download the audio file and listen to it on their computer or on their iPod. That really could be helpful to parents who miss open house, as well as to parents who want to review information. Mabry Online has some great examples of podcasts that benefit both parents and teachers. Teachers also might record students reflections on an assignment or on a particular aspect of school and make a podcast of their reflections too."

Oh man, I like this idea. I have been podcasting from my classroom for about 10 weeks or more. Creating an Open House podcast is a good idea. One tip I have picked up on it having a CD of our podcasts for students to check out and take home to shair with their family. We have a family holiday dinner coming up Dec 15th. This article gave me an idea to creat electronic portfolios for each family as a gift. If I can find time to do them!!!

"For less technically inclined teachers," Gray suggested digital photos in a slideshow format. "These always are a good way of giving parents an idea of what is going on in your classroom. Slide shows can be created in iPhoto or PowerPoint. They can be jazzed up by having students narrate the shows or by including music created by the students."

I try to take pictures of other teachers working in their classrooms. I just need to put the pictures on their H drives and show them how to access them for this great technology activity. I like this one!!!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Social Bookmarking - An Updated Look

Blogging, wikis, social bookmarks and photos, are example of folksomous applications. According to Wikipedia, "Folksonomy is a neologism for a practice of collaborative categorization using freely chosen keywords. More colloquially, this refers to a group of people cooperating spontaneously to organize information into categories. In contrast to formal classification methods, this phenomenon typically only arises in non-hierarchical communities, such as public websites, as opposed to multi-level teams. Since the organizers of the information are usually its primary users, folksonomy produces results that reflect more accurately the population's conceptual model of the information. Folksonomy is not directly related to the concept of faceted classification from library science." Here some ideas I have been using in my classroom this past school year. In this post I want to reflect on using bookmarks with my kids.

Social bookmarking
What is it? And how have I been able to use a few of these in my classroom?

It is an activity performed over a computer network that allows users to save and categorize (see folksonomy) a personal collection of bookmarks and share them with others. Users may also take bookmarks saved by others and add them to their own collection, as well as to subscribe to the lists of others. - a personal knowledge management tool. When I first got Internet in my classroom, I thought as the teacher, I had to look up all the links and students should not use any other resources. I had a major concern with students not having high time on task. I still have some students that due to ADD would take all year to find images of three types of mountains to illustrate a simple report. For this reason, I like having several bookmarks for students to use. I continue to modify my assignments. Still looking for the right mix or blend of learning activities to engage different levels and abilities of learners. One size does not fit all, but I try to meet their needs.

Teachers have been experimenting with social bookmarking for a couple of years. Last school year my students tried to use, but had trouble understanding the utility of this tool. It seems my students are not accustomed to the bennefits of sharing their knowledge. We need to somehow help our students get their minds around how to use to help everyone. We have not tried My Web 1.0 BETA by Yahoo! As pointed out by Wikipedia, "Drawbacks of current implementations include: single word categories, although many services allow multi-words to be enclosed in inverted commas, no mechanism to define or refine categories, no synonym/antonym control or related terms & no hierarchy." I tried setting up a account for a photography class I taught last spring. We spent a couple of classes on using, but for whatever reason, my students preferred to just Google the topics they were looking for. For example, if asked to create a report on the debate between CMOS or CCD chips in digital cameras, they would just Google digital cameras.

A useful feature is RSS feeds per category (tag) that you can subscribe to - alerting you to new links in your areas of interest.


  • BlinkList social bookmarking with slick interface and new ways for organizing tags. Mike ? share via email a review of one of the social bookmarking sites recommended for teachers and students: Learning in Blink of Eye.

  • BlogMarks a variation with thumbnails and Atom enabled

  • CiteULike social bookmarking for academic papers

  • Connectedy This service allows the establishment of pseudonymous online link libraries. Users may impose arbitrary categorical hierarchies on their links and choose which categories and links to make public and which ones to keep private. The Connectedy site has particularly good SEO properties.

  • an open-source clone of, open data formats & private bookmarks

  • currently the most used software application

  • digg social bookmarking system where the links that are decided to be more popular, are "dug" to the homepage. I must confess, a day without is a day without light. I am hooked. However, I am hesitant to use this in my middle school science class. Most diggers are very responsible, and appropriate for younger learners. I have read a few posts that are not something middle schoolers can handle. This bookmarking tool is still evolving and for classrooms, the content needs to be more customizable. One idea I had was to create a Digg profile for my science classes. Then have students create their profile and then add the other students in their list of "Digg Friends." This would provide a shared list of article students have dug or read. A cool feature that I have still not tried with a class using Digg is the feature it has that lets users publish an RSS feed of their Digg. Here is my DIGG feed-- feed://

  • FeedMeLinks Social Bookmarking

  • Furl similar to stores copies of the pages saved. I have tried this with one of my classes, and My Furl Account My school uses Foxfire for our default browser to reduce spyware and Furl does not support "save page". If you are using IE, Furl will let you save the page you have bookmarked. This is a real benefit if you are bookmarking photos of animals or landscapes. I like this idea, however we just prefer Foxfire.

  • linkblog Portuguese

  • Live Bookmarks Share your bookmarks, RSS feeds for all bookmarks. Easily add keywords for your bookmarks. Instant searches.

  • LQ Bookmarks Social Bookmarking, tagging and annotating all things Linux and Open Source (OS). This could your students save money on their home computers. OS is wonderful. We have MS Office on all our computers.

  • Netvouz social bookmarking using either categories or tags. Share bookmarks online or keep them private.RSS feeds for all bookmarks.

  • Network Menus– Social Bookmarking within a web browser toolbar

  • O Y A X A fast and quick social categorized bookmarking service with groups

  • RawSugar– Socially enhanced web search based on hierarchal tagging of bookmarks and favorites. Include s multi-word categories, mechanism to define and rename categories, and hierarchy

  • Scuttle another open-source clone of, and IndiaGram amongst others are based on the scuttle software.

  • SimilarThings social website creation and management. Folksonomy-driven websites

  • Simpy social bookmarking with tagging and full-text searching. I got an email comment that reads: "Hi, For what it's worth, a bunch of students recently started using Simpy for their courses. Simpy is a social bookmarking site that I see you mentioned in your previous blog entry..." So, check out I would like to learn more about API hacks so I could customize features for my classes. Not really sure what I would like to be able to do (that is part of the fun with Flickr is to see what creative apps users come up with)

  • Spurl similar to stores copies of the pages saved

  • Swicki A swicki is new kind of search engine that allows anyone to create deep, focused searches on topics you care about. Unlike other search engines, you and your community have total control over the results and it uses the wisdom of crowds to improve search results. added June 4, 2006.
  • Sync2It's BookmarkSync Effortless social bookmarking, millions of hand-picked sites, real-time RSS feeds, public & private collections.

  • taghopFollow where people are going, what they are thinking, how they rate and what they say.

  • unalog open-source bookmarking software written in python.

  • Wiklink Tools to synchronize bookmarks with your browser.

  • Wists Visual bookmarks, wishlists, photoblogs.

  • wURLdBook Share webreferences and rss feeds with others and more.

  • URLex Personal/Friends/Community bookmarking and rss feeds

External Links from (updated 11-27-05)

Comparison of 19 different social bookmarking services
Social Bookmarking Tools (I): A General Review
Social Bookmarking Tools (II): A Case Study - Connotea
Social Bookmarking Tools (III): A Case Study - BlinkList for online learning
Social Bookmarking Resources

No, I have neither used nor evaluated all these bookmarking tools. I would recommend teachers interested in using social software to create an account and use it throughly before asking your students use it. Check to see if the tool is appropriate for classroom use. Ask your administrator's permission might save you some hassles down the road. My point is that classroom teachers are not experts in technology. These bookmarking tools are not correlated with our North Carolina standard course of study. Science teachers in North Carolina have to focus on covering the objectives and making sure everyone masters them for the EOC tests. So, spending time bookmarking links that are not on related to specific goals is a real waste of class time. Most classrooms still only have one or maybe two computers for students to use. If a science teacher wants to use computers, they could sign-up for the laptop cart. Computer labs are nice, if teachers have time to setup software they can use. I have found that I need more than bookmarks. In my next post, I will outline how I have been using Blogs, Wikis, and Moodle to help manage my instructional content for my classroom.

One more thing...David Warlick is facilitating a workshop in Downers Grove, Illinois this week. The topic will be using the read/write web (web 2.0) in schools. The workshop will be unique in that it is designed not only to pass knowledge and skills on to participants, but to tap into their unique perspectives to generate new knowledge.

The workshop will employ a wiki, that these educators will populate with their ideas about integrating these new information tools into the teaching and learning process.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

NWA Spelling Bee Champion 2005

Niko is our North Whiteville Academy spelling champion. We are very proud of his accomplishments. Geez, I hope I spelled all this correctly...

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Maths and Science Education Gets Animated and Collaborative Online

The WebLabs project, sponsored by the IST program, has developed an approach to teaching young people math and science that employs virtual models of abstract ideas and Web-based collaboration. The project involved the participation of technologists and educationalists who worked with ...

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Sunday, November 06, 2005

Cool New Tool or Trouble Squared?

While reading Tim Lauer's blog post today, and thinking about how my students are like to mix and match media to create their own information I had an Ah-Ha Moment. Ok, instead of having my students create current event in a MS Word Document, why not have them setup a blog in Blogmeister, and then use the RSS feed to create a joint Super Glu blog page to aggregate their links and articles. I am not sure we will be able to make it all work together. The most troubling issue or problem I see is how we are going to avoid breaking copyright laws.

I have not gotten my head around this one. Interesting and concerning.

Would love to read more about this one. I need to set up a Technorati search for this topic and see what is being said about it.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Gallery of best panoramic scenes

"VirtualParks is the creation of Erik Goetze, who has shot thousands of wilderness panoramas. Each panorama captures a full 360 degrees of scenery. Locations range from parks in Canada, California, Oregon, Utah, New Mexico & Colorado to the Swiss, French, and Italian Alps." Check also the 121 Full Screen VRs.

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Podcasting in Science? Why Not?

Podcast Logo

One of projects I have been enjoying this school year has been the creation of podcasts in my classroom. Think of a podcast as a radio show. Each show consists of a series of individual episodes that you can listen to how you want — on your PC, using your MP3 player, or with just a web browser.

If you've never listened to podcasts, you're in for a treat. Sports, comedy, movies, food, politics, music, books, speeches, walking tours, whatever — you name the topic and you'll find podcasts about it. Not only do you have incredible choice, you can listen whenever and wherever you want.

You can listen to these episodes one at a time (say using your web browser) or you can 'subscribe' to the entire podcast series using software on your PC. When you subscribe to a podcast, all new shows will be automatically downloaded to your computer as they are published. And if you have an MP3 player, the next time you sync your device, your podcasts will b downloaded for listening on the go.
View the list of 8 episodes on and click on the listen button to hear our podcasts without any special software.

Ok, why is a science teacher interested in using podcasting in a science classroom. This requires us to reveiw how knowledge & understanding is impacted by classroom instruction. Podcasting allows students time to explore areas of curiosity. If a question arises during the brainstorming and writing of podcast scripts, we discuss those ideas and redirect the discussion back to our current topic. This process of pre-writing provides lessons that are intellectually challenging. If the student has a question, the teacher does not just give the answer. The teacher answers the question with a question. Planning lessons for students to podcast can help students connect areas of learning and have students compare and contrast to search for relationships. During the brainstorming, the teacher asks students to use mind mapping tools to graphically organize the concepts in the lesson. Students are able to record their observations and data as they use a discovery approach to learning whenever possible.
Approaching topics of learning from various angles motivate students. Students need the variety of instructional strategies to stimulate their minds. A textbook and worksheets bore our digital native students to tears. When the teacher posts the podcasts on the Web and provides the students with the url so they can share what they are learning in class with family memeber, podcasting provides opportunities for philosophical thought and discussion.

The purpose of a podcast is not to teach them to use the technology or impress the principal. Podcasting is how digital native students think. They mix and match everything-- why should we think they would not be motivated by podcasting? IMHO, it is sneak learning, and we have to do whatever it takes to help them learn.

Friday, October 14, 2005

ComicLife in My Classroom?

Originally uploaded by The Blake Slate.
This is an exciting classroom tool. I had every student in our school talking about the new comic book program.

According to their site: "plasq is a small group of passionate people, working to create better computer interfaces.
We work towards creating simpler, more inspiring, more flexible and natural interfaces than ever before. Find the file you're looking for - to create what's in your mind - to express yourself.

We want to raise your expectations in digital products. We want you to know that using a computer can be as rewarding and expressive as a paintbrush, a guitar, or some playdough.

We will have reached that goal when you forget our interfaces are there or you are simply just having fun!"

The Gift of ADHD

Studies suggest that many of the traits kids with ADHD exhibit can be expressions of deeper gifts: powerful imagination, searching insight and unusual other words get off the ritalin, if your doctor tells you. As a classroom teacher, we are not allowed to discuss medication with students. However, every time a big story comes out in the media, teachers a bombarded with questions from their peers. This article is for information to my readers. Bottom line to me is if a student in my classroom is out of control to the point that the student totally distracts and interupts the learning process for more than a week, and the parents are not getting a divorce--then if the student is not on meds, I have to start taking mine...Thank God for extreme workouts in the gym. That is my 'medication.' I think most the issues with the students I have run into has been just that: they are couch potatoes, in homes of couch potatoes and no one gives a crap. The worst ones have been addicted to smoking (all types of 'smokes') and experimenting with other self-medications. The true ADHD students I have taught or attempted to tolerate in a class, have only been successful when they either learn to use the computer and pour all their energy in to that--I read that reading email makes you just as dumb as if you are smoking a joint, not sure if that is true, but computers calm some of the worst cases. The other thing is to get the ADHD student on a football field. Bamm! Let them get their thrills by cracking helmets for a few months. That has a way of helping them focus in class the next day. Just my two cents worth....

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Monday, October 10, 2005

Yahoo! Podcasts Directory is Live

I was impressed with Yahoo's new podcast directory. It will be interesting to see what Dave Winer has to say about it. I do not think he will have much to say that is nice about Yahoo's attempt to get on the bandwagon. I like the fact that Yahoo listed my classroom podcast without my having to beg them or go through any techie mumbo jumbo to list my little podcasts.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Reflection: Using Podcasts in the Classroom

Here is something I learned and wanted to share it with my readers that may be are working with podcasts like I am in the classroom. I am interested in converting student audio files from AAC to mp3. I know audiophiles will think I am crazy, because AAC has better sound quality than mp3, and smaller file size, but I am looking for a simple portable way for my students to be able to create their own podcasts when they leave my class. I am looking at an online service that is in alpha testing that might fit the bill. I have agreed not to talk about the alpha testing in my blog, so for now, let’s just say if the cost of this service is not too high, it has great potential. My ultimate educational goal in teaching my students to podcast is much more complex and challenging than my instructional goals.

From an instructional point of view, my kids could be using our dusty cassette recorders to record podcasts. Which might not be a bad idea. I overheard one of my best students tell his classmate that he was going to go to Walmart when he went home from his group home and buy him a microphone to use on his mom's computer to record his own podcasts. Well, that spoke volumes. He is now self-motivated to learn, to explore new avenues of expression. Through experiencing podcasting in our classroom, he is now excited about the potential of his knowledge and to me, in my humble opinion is what education is really all about. He is now the expert. Before we started podcasting, this student had never experienced success in the classroom. I am not at liberty to tell how awful this child's educational history is on paper. Let's just put it this way, if he were my child, I would not be able to hold my head up in public. However, he is now a leader in my classroom. It is like magic. Technology and consistent positive feedback from his peers about it speaking voice, and the since of accomplishment is really what has produced the changes I have witnessed. I have to keep it in prospective because, in talking to his social studies teacher, I have discovered he is not doing well in her class. So, my next goal is to convince his social studies teacher to let him create podcasts about what he is learning in her class as well! BAMM—LET”S STEP IT UP A NOTCH!!!! in the words or the chef Emeril Legasse.

This idea of empowering students to create their own voice in what they are thinking and ultimately learning goes along with helping them become life long learners. If they are auditory learners, the spoken word is invaluable to them. Podcasting helps them find that voice and no matter where they end up in life, being able to communicate is going to be a tremendous skill for them to have.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

E = mc2 Explained

How would 10 top physicists two Nobel Prize winners among them describe Einstein's equation to curious non-physicists? Listen online by selecting Play All or choose individual clips below. PBS NOVA as some real cool podcasts. Check them out.

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Knoppix 4.0.2 DVD Released

The latest version of everyone's favorite bootable Linux distro is now available. The long-awaited DVD release was pushed out to FTP sites on the 24th of September; torrents are now available. Grab it while it's hot and seed it till you bleed. My students like Knoppix because it lets them have control over their computer or their parent's computer. Last year, one of our students used a school computer to download Knoppix. He then attempted a hack on his father's company computer. It cost his father several hundred dollars to have a tech rep restore the company PC. His father was not very happy at me. I told him he had been punished at our school. We just did not allow him any computer access on our school network. So, download it on your own time. You will need a DVD burner to create the disc.

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Saturday, September 17, 2005

Apple to drop another bomb soon!

According to some sources Apple is planning to realease their new computers as early as next week. This is hopefully true, but it will still be next year before our school will buy more computers...maybe! I would love to have a super fast laptop, but the G4 Al Book I am using now is plenty fast for me. I can not wait to see if Steve is really ready to launch actual new computers yet.

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Love the GIMP, hate it's look? GIMPshop, the GIMP that acts like Photoshop

If you love Photoshop and hate the GIMP because of its unusual interface, you need to use GIMPshop. - An article on the newly popular GIMPshop.

This is a piece of software I plan to add today to my classroom iBooks. My students can edit images with iPhoto, but GIMP is full featured. Now, I need to find a good tutorial for my middle school students to use...I will post more on this project soon.

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Friday, September 16, 2005

Multiple Linksys WRT54G Vulnerabilities

Several severe flaws have been recently discovered with Linksys WRT54G wireless routers. If you have one, patch it up now.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Rain from Ophelia

Originally uploaded by The Blake Slate.
Well, not school again today. We missed yesterday and today. We will make-up yesterday on this coming Saturday. That is will interesting. I think the worst is past us (1:49 p.m.) Maybe not, the wind just rattled the windows here at the house. This image was taken about 12 noon. I am thinking about creating. Hope to get out and ride around and take some more stills after the Soaps are over on TV. Not that I watch wife does and I am going to get her to drive so I can take some video and stills without having to worry about running into someone...

Sunday, September 11, 2005

My Class Podcast Project Update

Friday, I tried to have my students record their thoughts on what they had been doing in middle science this past week. I had them brainstorm on what they had been doing in class as we study the growth of plants. One of my students has a speech impediment so I modified the assignment so that student could create an iMovie report instead of creating a podcast. I noticed something very obvious-- they do not have a clue what the learning objectives are for this activity! They are just going through the motions! Some students could sort of tell me what we had been doing. This made me realize that I need to do a better job making sure they know what we are doing and why.

I think I will ask them to write a paragraph, in a journal each day. I need to decide what they need to record in their journal entries. Then next Friday, they will have some ideas to include in their podcast. Basically, it is a writing issue. If they can not write it, they do not know it.

I plan also to include more concept maps for them to use. This may help them organize what they are learning.

Bottomline- trying to get my students to create a short audio clip of what they are learning is not easy. The process seems to offer some challenges that I have to address before I stick a microphone in their face and start asking questions. I have to figure out a way to make them successful.

Monday, September 05, 2005

AJAX Powered Online Calendar!!!

Certain apps tend to jump out for Ajaxian writers. The online calendar is one of them, and Kiko has stepped up to the plate with their offering.

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Saturday, September 03, 2005

Amazing News: New Mars Image from Spirit

Working atop a range of Martian hills, NASA's Spirit rover is rewarding researchers with tempting scenes filled with evidence of past planet environments. I would not have imaged that Spirit could have lasted this long. This is incredible. They should have named it the "Little Train that Could."

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Google Maps adds Katrina Tab

Now along with "Map", "Satellite", and "Hybrid" a red "Katrina" tab has been added when a map of New Orleans is search for using
Now this is using technology. Two thumbs up for this link. I can not wait to share this with my students.

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Sunday, August 28, 2005


Originally uploaded by The Blake Slate.
Congrats to Ashley for earning her high school diploma. This is what teaching is really all about, helping students see their potential and not allowing them to give up on themselves.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Playlist: How to create a vodcast

How to create a vodcast
Steps for offering video on demand
By Christopher Breen

Podcasts are so last month. If you want to get in on the hip trip, you'll turn your attention (and camcorder) to vodcasts--Video-On-Demand-casts, that is. No, this isn't stuff of the future. By following the steps I'm about to outline you can create and distribute a downloadable vodcast today.

Ok, we never mastered podcasting. So, maybe we should jump right into vodcasts? Got to try this with my students...

Sunday, August 14, 2005

The future of broadcasting

As a teenager, I worked at a local FM radio station (1972-73). The only part of the broadcast schedule they would let me work was from 6 A.M Sunday morning, until 1:30 P.M. that afternoon. I would occassionally work other schedules to fill-in. It was a magical job for me. A miserable summer spent mending a broken arm from sliding in home plate while playing baseball and a reel to reel reocorder and microphone had given me the bug. I hooked up a record player using patch cables to the recorder and practiced announcing the hits like Dick Clark on his American Bandstand show. I asked a friend of mine about working at the radio station and he told me I needed a FCC Radio Licenses to work there. He gave me the address and I mailed off for the documents. Knowing all the time, I would be the next Wolfman Jack. Fast forward...podcasting? It ain't as easy as it looks. I have tried it. I still do not have the talent of Wolfman Jack and never will have the voice of a Dick Clark. But, I still love the mixing and controlling the audio input. I will be attempting to create some podcasts this coming school year with my students. I want to teach them how to create the podcast. Maybe they will catch the bug. That is what I love about teaching.
owrede_log: The future of broadcasting

NCHSAA Honored Mr. Ray

I found this picture of Mr. Ray on the Maxton City website. Seems Mr. Ray is a Town Commissioner.

NCHSAA: "Ray Oxendine
Ray Oxendine has been an athlete, teacher/coach and administrator
during his years of involvement with the NCHSAA.

A graduate of Pembroke High School, Ray went on to Catawba College
where he captained both the football and baseball teams, graduating in
1962. He taught and coached at Greensboro Grimsley and then did the same
thing at the college level for a decade at Catawba, where he was the Carolinas
Conference baseball coach of the year twice.

He wound up serving as principal at a number of NCHSAA member
schools, including East Montgomery, West Montgomery, Purnell Swett, South
Robeson and Scotland. And besides his involvement with the NCHSAA in that
capacity, he continued to work during his career as an outstanding baseball
umpire, working a number of state championship series.

Oxendine is a member of both the North Carolina American Legion
Baseball Hall of Fame and the Catawba College Sports Hall of Fame.

I know it is old news, but I just learned about it. (Feb. 2002)
The Hall of Fame plaques are on permanent display in the North
Carolina High School Athletic Association's Hall of Fame room, located
in the Simon F. Terrell Building in Chapel Hill which houses the Association

My Favorite Principal?

This coming week will be a busy one for our family. Our youngest daughter leaves to go back to college. She has two more years. Teacher workdays begin for the wife and me. Both of us have new administrators this school year. This should be an interesting year. My principal is a veteran, but my wife's is a newbie. No one likes change. Lots to learn about the way they operate. All this makes me reflect on my favorite principal was this guy, who was a Native American, Mr. Ray Oxendine. He was a former baseball player and coach. It is a local custom and a token of high respect and friendliness to address adult males using “Mr” and their first name.

Each morning, “Mr. Ray” would tie on his running shoes and clip-off 5 miles. He stood 6' 8" and did not have an ounce of fat on his body even at age 55. His voice was loud, yet humble. I can remember the way he walked the halls while teachers taught their classes. He would just appear out of nowhere like the classic Indian Tracker stalking a deer in the woods. He did not say a word. He put his hand under his chin and nodded his head as he listened to the lesson in progress. If he saw something he liked going on in your classroom he would catch you in the hall and with those big athletic hands, give you a whack on the back in the traditional baseball coach way and ask something like..."ya kids learning anything?" And wait for you to start talking and he would listen to you like he really meant it. Smiling and nodding, because he had already made up his mind if the kids were actually engaged in learning in your classroom. I loved teaching there. But some things change fast in schools.

During the summer, my “Mr. Ray” was replaced. I never really understood why. Some said it was politics. Which was probably true. I learned a long time ago, if you coach or mess with politics and you teach school, you better live in a mobile home cause you are going to move. The new principal came over from the middle school. He was a more business-like principal, no more like a preacher. Personally, I had no big concerns with the change. I had a job.

Reflecting back, I really missed “Mr. Ray.” I did not feel appreciated. That school just felt like a cold, meat market. I did not feel I had a "supportive connection" with the new principal. I made it only half that next year in that school without “Mr. Ray.” He moved to a school that was a longer drive to each day. Hating to drive more than I loved to work with Mr. Ray as my principal, I found a job teaching near my home. Things have a way of working out.

Still, change is not always for the best, but it is unavoidable. I have read the book-"Who Moved My Cheese", and have to admit I am one of those that does not really embrace or seek out change. On the other hand, I am always trying new computer strategies with my students. I do not know if it is worth all the effort some must be.

If this was printed in the newspaper, “Mr. Ray “might read it. He never liked computers. They were just too new-fangled for him. Wonder where he is today?

Hope he is still running.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

PowerBook Updates in September?

Final curtain call for PowerPC-based PowerBooks? - Apple Computer is believed to be prepping one final update to its PowerPC-based PowerBook G4 product line that could be unveiled at the end of next month, AppleInsider has learned.

Rumors are interesting. I am not sure if this is going to happen. I may be ready for a new PowerBook, but not this year. Tip, never buy the first model of anything...
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Slideshows Without PowerPoint?

I ran across a blog that contained an interesting use of CSS. A slide show format based entirely on XHTML, CSS, and JavaScript. With one file, you can run a complete slide show and have a printer-friendly version as well. The markup used for the slides is very simple, highly semantic, and completely accessible. Anyone with even a smidgen of familiarity with HTML or XHTML can look at the markup and figure out how to adapt it to their particular needs. Well, that may scare you a little, but after you give it a try, it is almost as easy to use as the popular presentation software packages. Anyone familiar with CSS can create their own slide show theme. It does not have all the whistles and chains that might be available, but it has some really cool applications. One application would be to add the slideshow in a web page.

Interesting stuff! Check it out.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

A page of WebCams

A page full of hidden webcams.

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Whiteville City Schools Moodle

Whiteville City Schools Moodle
After serveral month's on research and development, our system finally has a Moodle site. No brags, just facts. Thanks to Brad, Gus, and Anthony for their hard work.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Is Bigger Really Better for Our Children?

"Peace and Diversity, in the Bronx, is one of 53 small high schools that opened last September as part of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's effort to remake public education in New York. And in a way, the students' essays are a metaphor for the inaugural year of the small schools: far from perfect, but with notable achievement and a lot of hard work still ahead. New York City's experience is being watched by districts nationwide that are following its lead in creating small schools as an antidote to alarming high school dropout rates. The hope is that schools with fewer than 500 students will create a more intimate learning environment, improving attendance and achievement by making it easier to identify students' needs. Themes like peace and diversity are used to make school more engaging, even as the curriculums focus on basic requirements, not vocational training or electives. More than a month after the school year ended, there are few hard statistics on the new small schools. Attendance figures have yet to be audited, promotion rates yet to be finalized, results of Regents exams yet to be published by the state. But anecdotal evidence suggests better numbers than at the large, failing schools that small schools are replacing - admittedly not a high bar to clear, since the four-year graduation rate at those schools was 35 percent."

With this in mind, should North Carolina look at all our consolidated schools with a microscope? Are our overcrowded primary, elementary schools the real reason our poor children are being "left behind?" Is this the answer or just another reform-of-the-month for education? This article leaves me with more questions than answers. Pretty heavy for a Monday.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Mini Pal for Mac Mini

If you are looking for a new computer for your kids or are thinking about retiring your old PC and just need a work horse computer to surf the web, check your email and other home and small office duties, this is a neat choice. I have used one in my classroom right beside my G5 and was impressed with its over all performance. I like the mini Pal because it adds ports and needed storage. This would be a great addition if you are a budding photographer or have one in your family. Make sure you save up for the Photoshop software. There are cheaper alternatives for editing photos. Many users have raved about Photoshop Elements. It has lots of features and is easy to use. Oh, you might be able to do most of the photo edits you need with iPhoto. By the way, it comes with the Mac Mini.
AcomData introduces the mini Pal for Mac mini. With available storage up to 320GB, 4 USB 2.0 ports and 3 FireWire ports, the mini Pal extends the capabilities of your Mac mini. Mini Pal is the same size, has the same shape, and features the same case materials and finish as the Mac mini.

Tax-free day (Sunday-today, is the last day in NC, SC and online). This AcomData might not be tax-free unless you can buy it at the Apple Retail Store. I have no idea if the stores have these cool external drives. No, this is not a commercial, and no I do not get any money from these companies. I just had to think out loud about this combo.

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Wednesday, August 03, 2005

OPML in the Classroom

RSS, XML, Blogs, Wikis, Moodle, social bookmarking and now OPML. Actually opml has been around since the 1960s. Dave Winer and a community of developers are working on a neat new tool for blogging. The OPML Editor has some really neat ideas. I have been thinking about how it might work in my classroom. The part that I like the most so far, is the way it enables the sharing of links and other resources. One use I am thinking about is when students create a concept map using Inspiration, they could upload the document's opml to a "chapter 3, section 1" folder. This would help in the creation of a student e-portfolio. We currently host folders on our server for students to save their work, but this does not work from their home. With OPML and a student blog, students could access their folders 24-7. This is good and bad. Students like to store things like mp3s and rock star photos, and stuff that is not relevant to atomic structure or quadratic equations. Social software has a few issues as it relates to classroom use. There are also some advantages too. Thus, it is the role of the educator to enlighten the learner as to the valid uses of the technology in the school environment.

20 basic technology skills for educators?

Just a few weeks before week start back to work, and I ran across this interesting article by Laura Turner, in the Journal. From reading Alan Levines's CogDogBlog, he "barks" about the inclusion of Zip disks and lack of "social networking tools, the personal creation tools, the information consumption skills that are to me much more important." As I scan this list, I think back to all the teachers that have asked me to help the fix their computer and all that was wrong with it was the janitor had unplugged it during the summer so he could move the cart it was on to sweep the spider webs from under the cart and buff the floor before school started.

My concern is more how these skills on this list can help teachers do their job. The list is annotated. To the classroom teacher, time is money. KISS--keep it simple stupid works for me. Now, if my fellow educators can find the time to read this list and reflect on how they can use technology to enhance the positive behavior of all their problem children and kids that come to school hungery, not for knowledge, but for anything but.

Here are 20 basic technology skills that all educators should now have:

Word Processing Skills
Spreadsheets Skills
Database Skills
Electronic Presentation Skills
Web Navigation Skills
Web Site Design Skills
E-Mail Management Skills
Digital Cameras
Computer Network Knowledge Applicable to your School System
File Management; Windows Explorer Skills
Downloading Software From the Web (Knowledge including eBooks)
Installing Computer Software onto a Computer System
WebCT or Blackboard Teaching Skills
Videoconferencing skills
Computer-Related Storage Devices (Knowledge: disks, CDs, USB drives, zip disks, DVDs, etc.)
Scanner Knowledge
Knowledge of PDAs
Deep Web Knowledge
Educational Copyright Knowledge
Computer Security Knowledge

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Ipod Shuffle...your grave has been dug!

mobiBLU...and of all places available at Walmart! Well, time will tell. This device as a few extra features, and not everyone likes iTunes. I have not tested one of these little cubes but I am thinking of getting one to try in my class. If I can actually use the voice recorder, I could might be able to create podcasts with it. I wonder what kind of mic or sound quality it has. I know that I would never use the FM radio. The reception could not be worth much. I can not wait to see my studunts get their hands on one, that will be the acid test.

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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Image Tool Rocks!

This is a photo of my wife's summer reading program here in our hometown. These kids are turned on to reading!!!

This is my first time using's new program that enables bloggers to upload images right into a post. This will really make using Blogger much easier for my students. Great place to create digital stories. Hum, could video clips for vlogs be far behind? Way to go, keep it coming!

Monday, July 25, 2005

New Social Bookmarking Project: My Web v2.0

From an email from one of's experts, "great summary of social bookmarking sites. I work for Yahoo! and saw that you mentioned My Web 1.0 Beta but didn't mention our new version - My Web v2.0. I think you might find it worth a look - it offers tags vs. single categories, the ability to invite friends (students, colleagues) to join you in your pursuit & sharing of knowledge, and the ability for you to tag & share interesting articles, websites, etc. with your search community, the world, or just with yourself. You can check it out at

Would love to get your thoughts if you get a chance to try it."

I checked out myweb2 this morning for a few minutes.

Personally, I need a button java script for Safari so I can just click on the button to add a site to to MyWeb2. I do not use Yahoo! Tools. After looking at My Web v2.0 this morning, I noticed that I can download a version of Yahoo! Tool for Mozilla, but no thanks. I noticed a post in the My Web Message Board about a browser button, but I could not figure out how to get it to work...It is Monday, I will try later in the week-- haha!

My immediate gut feeling of this beta site is that my middle school students would not like how it looks. Middle school students like site with images/graphics (not too many). This is a site my students like to go to Sparknotes .

I know, it is Beta, and things change. On the user interface side- we I logged in the first time using my PowerBook G4 and Safari, the program tried to import bookmarks. However, it did not import any. No, I am not going to buy a Dell--been there, done that. We have lots of PCs in our school, and lots of folks that can use that feature. We use Foxfire on all our student accounts as browsers. We have a program that restores computers to the way they were set before students use them and deletes any bookmarks they create. So, a social bookmarking product is something our students could use. When they move from a laptop lab, to a desktop, they can just log in to myweb2 and access their bookmarks. I am interested in watching how my students this year use and also learn to abuse this tool. They can tell you where to find Rap music online, and every inappropriate web site our IT dept and our high price content filter and firewall has not blocked.

Classroom use of a social bookmarking tools is a little different from other uses, but that is were the teachable moment comes in. Part of what I try to teach my students is the standard course of study, but also, our school focuses on how well our students do when they return to their school after being with us. So, if they learn how to use a bookmark tool and can take it with them, that is really cool.

I think our teachers will like this. Maybe Yahoo could develop a handout our video to teach teachers how to use My Web.

Myweb2 has a cool Message Board feature.

I need to be able to invite my teachers, but I do not have Microsoft Outlook - I need to be able to import names from my Apple Address Book. How about adding some way for me to import all my contacts.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Reflection: Using TikiWiki in my Classroom

I was looking for a way for my students to work collaboratively on various class topics. TikiWiki looked like something my students might be able to use. After a few days reading the FAQs and asking a lot of newbie questions in online forums, I found a host and started setting up my site. TikiWiki is not for the faint of heart. I could not have handled setting up more student accounts. It has a way to set up student accounts using a data document, but I did not try it.

This is not really something that I am proud of, but I only had one student that actually liked TikiWiki. 80% of my students are EC with reading problems. My TikiWiki skills or lack there of, could have been a reason my students did not like it. Setting up user editing rights on the student's Wiki and Blogs in TikiWiki is not the easiest process.

TikiWiki seems to have a potential in K-12 environments. What will future versions of TikiWiki add to support teachers and students is not clear. Check out-- Here is a site that a history's class created-- Holocaust. It is will allow images to be uploaded to the server and included in Wikis. Students that I teach have trouble creating links and typing the Wiki code. You might want to view AulaWiki for secondary schools . I think this is what I should have tried, but I did not.

Experimenting with TikiWiki lead me to discover Moodle. My next post will include details on how I used it.

tag: Warlick, downers grove

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Google Moon - Lunar Landing Sites

"The Eagle has landed" and "One small step of man....One Giant leap for Mankind"...if you have these quotes branded in your mind, then you are going to enjoy this site as much as a kids in a candy shop. Share this with your "fellow space campers."
Google Moon - Lunar Landing Sites: "Welcome to Google MoonIn honor of the first manned Moon landing, which took place on July 20, 1969, we've added some NASA imagery to the Google Maps interface to help you pay your own visit to our celestial neighbor. Happy lunar surfing. More about Google Moon."

Zoom in is a little "cheesy" but it is still neat.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Summer Job

John Blake
Originally uploaded by The Blake Slate.
When Whiteville City Schools teacher John Blake finishes the new Columbus County Tech-Prep Consortium website, area high school students will find a user-friendly site that will cater to their career interests and to their local college tech preparation needs.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Apple Notebook with integrated iPod mini

After Apple announced that they planned to switch to a new processor, concerns have circulated about how Apple's sales of hardware would be impacted. In this Digg post, a possible solution may be to integrate the popular iPod Mini with a laptop. As I sit here reading my RSS feeds, I see have my iPod flopping around in the chair, and cables all over the place. I would love to have one of these laptops.

read more | digg story

Network Security at William Penn High

In Tim Lauer's flickr photo collection, I had to do a double take on this one. Hum, does anyone see a problem with this image? Two laptops, wide open, jail-house doors are unlocked and anyone could come in. Maybe this is where the teachers lock-up the network technicians when they go crazy? I have had some students that if the court system knew we had a room like this, they would have sentenced the juvenile delinquent to 180 days AT SCHOOL. Talk about a "hash working conditions." Ouch.

Tim, thanks for the photo of a work space that is worse than mine!!!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Knoppix 4.0 DVD - Like a Kid in a Candy Store

Knoppix is a tool I have used in my classroom with my students. I am waiting for the new version. It is scheduled to be released in a "few weeks".

"A totally new release of Knoppix was unveiled at LinuxTag 2005, Knoppix 4.0. This is the release that introduces the split between "maxi" DVD and "mini" CD releases. I've tried out the 4.0 DVD and let me tell you, I'm like a kid in a candy store."

read more | digg story

Computing with Bifocals - A (Near)-Complete List of Mac Keyboard Shortcuts || The Mac Observer

Computing with Bifocals - A (Near)-Complete List of Mac Keyboard Shortcuts || The Mac Observer

I prefer to use a keyboard to execute commands rather than a mouse.

Here is the following list of keyboard commands that work with OS X for the benefit of everyone who prefers this option when using their Macs.

This list from a number of Internet sources, Mac OS X's built-in Help screens, my friends, and dumb luck -- not necessarily in that order.

The first table of information demonstrates the symbols (in a size larger than the head of a pin) that are frequently used to represent specific keys on the Mac keyboards.

Saturday, June 25, 2005 of the Day: philomath of the Day: philomath: "Word of the Day for Saturday June 25, 2005
philomath \FIL-uh-math\, noun:
A lover of learning; a scholar.

It is precisely for the philomaths that universities ought to cater.
--Aldous Huxley, Proper Studies

'It's nothing to laugh about,' he says. 'Strange things happen in this country -- things that philosophers and other philomaths had never dreamed of.'
--Tomek Tryzna, Miss Nobody"

"Gee, I hope my students this coming school year are the philomaths that our public schools ought to cater."
--John Blake, Teacher

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Embedding QuickTime

Embedding QuickTime: "Using a poster movie in your web page
A poster movie is when the web page has a
still image chosen from the movie used as a 'button' that when
clicked on by the viewer loads the actual movie. This is a
nice way to create a professional-looking page without annoying
the viewer by waiting for a movie to load every time they look
at your web page.
You may export a frame from your movie within
iMovie by following these simple steps:
Move the play head along the scrubber
bar to the frame you wish to export.

Choose File - Save Frame As from the File

Give the file a one word easy to remember

Save it as a JPEG file with the file extension, .jpg (ie%u2026 posterframe.jpg)

Create a new project in iMovie

Import the jpeg into your movie and drag
it to the timeline

Click on the clip and then in the textbox
at the top of the timeline window and make the clip have
a duration of 00:00:01 (one frame).

Export this movie from the File - Export
menu option, name the movie and click

Add the following HTML code to your page.
The changes are in bold.

This HTML instruction tells the browser to
load the postermovie and if the user clicks on it, get the
actual movie."

Ed-Tech Insider: Rendezvous and Instiki: No Bookmarks To Set, No IP Numbers to Remember...

This sounds like a great trick. Much easier to use than the Moodle, and easier for me to share with other teachers in my school. Check out Instiki today. Read more...
Ed-Tech Insider: Rendezvous and Instiki: No Bookmarks To Set, No IP Numbers to Remember...: "In July I learned from Tom Hoffman of a lite weight wiki called Instiki. It runs under the Ruby scripting language and Ruby happens to come installed on our OS X Macs, so I downloaded Instiki, launched it and had a Wiki on my desktop... That in and of itself is kind of interesting, but the exciting part was enabling access to the wiki page via Rendezvous and Apple's Safari browser. In OS X you can enable web sharing on your local machine. Instiki uses port 2500 on the local machine, so with a simple redirect from your local index.html page, you can point a Rendezvous enabled browser to your local wiki. Now in addition to Ms. Jones using this technology we have two other teachers who have started to have their students use Instiki in this manner."

Monday, June 20, 2005

TWiT Episode 10 is Online

It's Episode 10 and TWiT goes double digits.

Hosts: Leo Laporte, Patrick Norton, Robert Heron, David Prager, and Yoshi DeHererra. As a fan of the now cancelled Screensavers cable tv show, I enjoy listening to the techie topics on this cool podcast. Due to bandwidth issues and trying to distribute the show using Bittorrent. If you need to know more about how to set that up, read the instructions on the The Week In Tech (TWiT) site and download and install needed program. Not the easiest way, but it works.

read more | digg story

Saturday, June 18, 2005

CNN No Longer Using Real Pass? -- Free at last, free at last!

I don't know if this happened just today, but it seems CNN is no longer using Real Pass for their on-line video segments. They've finally gone back to the free model. Doesn't seem to be any mention of this transition on the web page, but you can definitely watch the videos and they are featured in a slightly different way now. Teachers love this four letter word-- FREE. Check it out.

read more | digg story

Friday, June 17, 2005

Apple Pact with Wal-Mart broader than most realize

Apple and the retail giant have expanded their initial test rollout in the last few months. iPodlounge readers have noted in recent weeks that they've seen various iPod models at their local Wal-Mart stores. Select Wal-Mart locations are carrying the 20GB iPod, the iPod mini, and the iPod shuffle, along with HP-branded versions.

On my weekly walk through our local Wally-World, I noticed the iPods, Shuffles, mini iPods in all the many colors, locked up in a Plexiglas cabinet. I have purchased two iPods and a Shuffle, but I have ordered them from Apple. Put them on the pastic.

Summer is a time for mowing grass, babysitting, and making some hard earned cash selling lemonade on the corner. A very few local kids even earn money working on the farm. Most of those jobs have been taken by Latinos. Now, do not get all excited. I read what happened to President of Mexico, Vicente Fox Quezada, when he said that Mexicans were only taking jobs that Americans do not want. That is not my point. My point is that $300 iPods are not impulse purchases in rural economically depressed southeastern North Carolina.

I ran into one of my former science students. He is now in college and works at Wal-mart part-time. He is home for summer vacation. During our electronic section chat, I was surprised when he told me they have sold out of their supply of Apple products every two weeks. That amazes me. But then, it does not. After getting home and reflecting on the fact that iPods are flying off the shelf here in the country, I remembered the comments from leading poverty authority Dr. Ruby Payne. Dr. Payne says, "In generational poverty, the driving forces are survival, entertainment, and relationships. That is why you will have a student whose Halloween costume cost $30 (now-- a $300 MP3 player) but the textbook bill is not paid. Music is part of the entertainment part of Payne's Hidden Rules.

With that in mind, as soon as the word gets out, you will be seeing those little white cables hanging around all the "cool kids" necks.

read more | digg story

Curriculum Institute

Working on curriculum guides requires a lot of effort. Whiteville City Schools conducted a three day institute this week to work on updating and in some cases writing from scratch, documents for teachers to use in the classroom. Math, Science, and Social Studies were the focus of the event. One goal is to post these documents on our school web pages for teachers to share. Printed copies will also be provided for all teachers. For example, teachers teaching 6th grade science, will be provided with 5th grade and 7th grade curriculum guides.
Curriculum Links WCS online to date

How Cool is This?

Fwd: map update
Originally uploaded by The Blake Slate.
This morning, I was looking at the help section on the teacher section over on the Sea Turtle tracking project, and picked up a new trick. I read the section on customizing the map and discovered how to make the ocean colors show ocean surface temperatures. Notice that the water in the rivers is blue, showing how much cooler that water is than the ocean surface.