Yet Another Reason Your Filter is Useless (or neat trick to post to jaiku, wordpress or twitter)


The first part of this post is actually useful. The second part is just me venting about the wrong application of time and energy that is, all too often, school filtering.

So I started using Jaiku (like Twitter but with the ability to aggregate all your feeds and a few other neat tricks).

Jaiku was blocked pretty quickly at school as a personal/dating site for some reason. I’ve stopped trying to guess the rationale behind certain things.

I’ve been using Jott. This free service that allows me to call a number, say who I want to send the message to, dictate and that person (mostly myself) gets a text email of what I said and a link to the audio file as well. I highly recommend it.)

Driving to work listening to net@night about egorcast which allows me to use Jott to post text to jaiku, twitter and wordpress- all with a simple phone call.

So now I can post to a blocked site without even typing. Now if I could touch text with my phone imagine the fun I could have.

<----philosophical/venting below---->

This is the kind of flexible communication that schools are trying to stop. It has always been a losing battle but more so as phones and free services take it to the next level.

I’ve heard way too many conversations lately that say something like “It allows unmoderated student communication and we’ve got to block it.” This thought process really scares and depresses me. It is both a waste of time and a great way to garner student contempt both for the rules and for those flailing around trying vainly to enforce them. This makes students far more likely to disregard relevant Internet safety advice and it pushes them towards using phones, home computers etc. where there is no filtering. On the teacher/parent side, heavy filtering tends to lead to a false sense of security, less training for students, less discussion and responsibility being shifted from students to software.

You can’t wall of the Internet, no matter the filter. You can’t stop kids from bringing and using cell phones in school. At some point it really has to be up to them. Have we prepared them to make those choices?

Photo credit – Peter Gasston

Seal Generator

Click and create official looking seals (no bad puns please) of various sorts. It’s easy, quick and fun. You can also order them on magnets which could make for some fun games and ways to decorate your classroom (or house).

You can have a lot of fun with this in History and English for sure. I made up one for edubloggercon 2007 just for kicks.

I’d like to see emblems for Greek gods, different literary characters, accurate presidential buttons, commemorative badges for battles etc.

Moving On…


I have some good news. I have accepted a job as a technology resource teacher in a local high school. I start in August, and I am so happy I’m bordering on giddy. The school is in the same county as Byrd (where Tom and I currently work), and Tom and I expect to collaborate on some new projects.

As you know from previous posts, our middle schools students work on iBooks. Our high schoolers, on the other hand, work on Dells. This will be a challenge for me. I haven’t work on a Windows machine in quite a while, so this is a call for help. I need to know the places to go to find interesting 3rd party software and freeware. How have you modified your machine to maximize your time and productivity? If you are working on two different platforms (Mac/PC), how do you live in these two different worlds with some sense of harmony? Any advise would be relished!

Google Maps Street View

Street View

Another pretty amazing option in Google Maps. You now have the “street view” option in addition to map, satellite and hybrid views.

This view appears to be a real street level view of the city’s streets that you can advance incrementally (using the arrows you see). Talk about a great way to give your students a view of a particular novel or historical location. It appears to be just major cities right now but it’s pretty impressive.

via Digg

Flags and Pie Charts

Flag pie charts
This might be the visual link some students need to start seeing how pie charts reflect real data and it’s not a bad way to get some exposure to the flags of other nations.

Basically, the pie chart is shown with the proportional slices for the colors of the flag. You click on the pie chart and it shows you the actual flag. It’s an instant way to make pie charts concrete.

A neat idea and something you might have the kids create for other things. You could have them do something similar for paintings, clothing (high fashion or sports uniforms), certain album covers etc. It wouldn’t be great if you were stressing exactness but for getting the general concept down in a fun way it’d work well.

Found via Digg

Open Cola for Science Experiments

Open Cola

I saw a post on BoingBoing about the Open Cola project. To me it looks like the perfect combination of a science project and a way to delve into some health topics related to soft drinks. It’s probably a high school level project as some of the ingredients can burn skin (which is kind of odd).

You end up with

  • a real world product that kids would be excited to make
  • the option to experiment with different concentrations of flavor
  • a way to start talking about how much sugar is in the cokes they’re drinking
  • you could also do some taste testing based on the experiments in different concentrations and then you’ve got some statistics to go over


I have some how found myself on our district’s copyright committee and we’re redesigning our whole course for teachers. It’s been pretty interesting and I only occasionally want to kill myself. Luckily, I’m with a bunch of ninja librarian copyright experts who are handling all the heavy lifting while I make jokes.

The site is up here (but not finished) if you’re interested.

There are some odd comic style scenarios I’m making as well. They are at least marginally funny although I realize I have a Comic Life addiction but I’m seeking help.
Web Images in Video

Linking OK
Click to enlarge

Mouse Party Drug Animations


Our Byrd M.S. PhysEd teachers lead an amazing unit about drugs and drug abuse. The students research a drug and create a Keynote to be presented in front of class as a culminating project. The other day I found Mouse Party and thought of our brave PhysEd department. This is a great interactive site with simple and quality animations that show how a variety of drugs interact with your brain. If you’re responsible for drug education at your school, Mouse Party could be an interesting way to teach the science behind a “high”.

Greek Gods Sell Out

A wonderful English teacher (soon to be librarian) at my school, Mrs. Clark, is combining Greek gods and advertising techniques for a final project. Essentially, the gods will be shilling for various products related to their divine powers. I made up some sample ads for her using Garageband and Comic Life (the kids don’t have it but we make do with Word). The samples, which are based on student work in previous years, are below if you can find a use for them.

Oddly, I did something similar when I taught. The focus was on advertising the gods though and the students were the ad executives. The kids got this intro-

The gods on Mount Olympus are a conceited bunch. They have each hired an advertising executive (that’s you) to create a full-page newspaper ad to publicize their talents and abilities. The gods are also a vengeful bunch. If you don’t make your god appear to be the most exciting and intriguing god of all, you might end up in Hades or pushing a stone up a hill for eternity. However, if you do a good job, you could end up vacationing on Mount Olympus and having ambrosia for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

It went well and they liked it. It’d be a fun project to do now with the options GarageBand and iWeb give you.

Anyway on to the examples——

An ad for Aphrodite Bath Oil- I was going for a Barry White sound but I’m not sure I made it. This is simple audio done in GarageBand.

A comic style ad for Hermes shoes.
Hermes shoes ad

The letter from the god to my students (they were mail merged with the student info and god name). I did this a while ago. I’d open it up now and not restrain it to a newspaper ad but my excuse is this was about 3 years ago.

Dear «student»,
I have been getting some bad press lately. I am counting on you to do something about it! I have heard about your incredible creativity, intelligence, and work ethic, and I want to put these skills to work for me. I will pay you handsomely if you succeed!
I need a full page advertisement to run in every major newspaper in Greece. I want you to make me look like a star. Here is a list of everything I need you to include in my ad:
1. My picture—make sure I look good!
2. My Greek and Roman names (so that even the people in Rome, Italy, recognize me!)
3. My title—include that I am the god of ___________________.
4. My family members—family values really appeal to the public
5. Any symbols or places that are connected to me
«student», please don’t let me down! I’m counting on you.