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links for 2007-10-21

ZIPskinny – Get the Skinny on that ZIP Zip Code Fun (1 of 2) This is a VERY easy way to get your students looking at how their hometown/suburb/part of the city compares to neighboring ones. Punch in you zip code and get some well-organized census data. (tags: civic) Click for a Zip Code Boundary Map. Zip Code Fun (2 of 2): Use this google maps/zip code mash up to help students visualize the boundaries of zip codes (tags: civics) Power Shift Video Intensive | Power Shift 2007 Power Shift 2007, a climate change conference for youth, is offering fellowships to 16-25 year olds to take equipment home and film environmental issues in their community. Fellows will get training and guidance from established directors. (tags: envirostudies)

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Using Wikipedia and EVIL to Further Education

So a really smart guy, Virgil Griffith, came up with a way to scan the anonymous edits to Wikipedia articles and tie the IP addresses of various companies and government entities etc. to those edits. He then built a searchable database using the information so you can search by companies, locations or page titles. Wired even has a digg style “best of” list of edits. That’s all relatively old news but it does open some interesting writing and history options for teachers. You could assign different novel or historical characters and then the student’s goal is to figure out which article they’d edit/create and why. You could go as far as having the students do the writing/editing as the character (on their own wiki or document of course). Give everyone the same entry and then see who can make the greatest change in message with the least number of changes. The history version would be to create an entry on a historical even that is entirely factual but slants things entirely towards one side of the conflict. That’d be a great way to show how much things can be slanted while still being “just the facts.” It opens up all sorts of civics options depending on the topics you’re focusing on. You’d discuss motivations and the edits made. The fact […]

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links for 2007-10-19

Education@Web 2.0 Your chance to get some school 2.0 information to different audience. Head over to the O’Reilly blog and tell them what you think is going on with education and Web 2.0. “Is it possible for education to be transformed by Web 2.0 thinking?” (tags: education web2.0)

Subscribe2: RSS through Email (Update)

I’m creating an information blog for my new school. One of my assistant principals asked me about RSS, and as we talked through what he needed, we realized the root of his request was a very manageable email subscription program. He was maintaining a list of over 1000 email addresses to send out biweekly newsletter. I thought we might be able to manage this through a blog. I searched the WordPress plugin directory and came up with Subscribe2. The plugin lets users have entire or partial posts sent as plain text or HTML to their email. Scubscribe2 uses a conformation system to verify the address, so my assistant principal will have less housecleaning to do. It puts the burden of entering the emails on the community. It’s an efficient way to disperse information to parents and the community via blogging–even to those who are “RSS challenged”. I’m testing it on my instruction and technology blog. I’ll have the information blog up by the end of the week. Look for an update after we’ve tested it for a couple months . Download Link Update:  After playing with Subscribe2 for a week, I realized it was not fulfilling the needs we had.  I uninstalled it and, thanks to the advice of Chris Craft, switched to Feedblitz.   We have been very happy with […]

WordPress Tutorial

This WordPress tutorial is aimed at teachers (or anyone else) who is just starting out with some server space and Fantastico support. It covers a lot of the basic installation questions and gets into how to add themes and plugins to the blog. Most everything is done in video format. I made it for our ITRTs who are mainly using LunarPages for their server space. It also covers the basic blog usage questions regarding activating plugins, changing themes and doing all the other normal stuff. We also get into some of the settings we use to make sure comments are moderated etc. There are also some tutorial on what plugins etc. I used to create different projects (like the Byrd Books audio blog) It’s a solid intro into the world of assisted WordPress installation and administration.

Types of Creative Communication: Video Messages

I’ve been on the job for about two months with the staff and have realized one thing: email is dead. I get little to no response when I send a text email to my staff, so I’ve started to play with important messages for my teachers. For instance, I needed them to complete a survey and reminded them with this Bollywood themed message from Bombay TV. It hooked half of the MIA teachers with a good laugh. The staff stopped me for days to talk about it. When I received a run of emails concerning computers were not working, I created a reminder featuring a very young Bob Dylan (previous). The emails subsided, and now many of my teachers are quick to tell me that they have restarted a couple times when their computers are acting up. They just seem to listen better when I can get it across in an entertaining way. I guess some things never change. I know your students tune out the same way we do when something is visually monotonous. We are children of an instant, entertaining culture. So, here’s a suggestion: Think of that one rule in your classroom your kids are still having trouble with the second month of school. Are they standing up to sharpen their pencil while you are leading the […]

Education and Copyright

The educational copyright site I’ve been working on with some of our media resource teachers is now pretty much done. I’m fairly satisfied with it. It addresses a lot of information pretty succinctly and no one is called a thief or a criminal. I’m proud of that. I’ve also got a powerpoint presentation that is pretty slick looking (if I do say so myself). There’s not much for text on the slides but the notes are pretty packed with information. Both the website and the presentation stick to the “what can you do?” vibe as much as possible and stress the options you have with Creative Commons and public domain works. It’ll be interesting to see if it makes any real difference. I did try to keep things humorous and all photos are Flickr based under a CC license.

The Humanity of a S.S. Officer

When I taught The Cage by Ruth Minsky Sender over the past few years, my students found it difficult to understand the compassion of one of the guards in the story. They couldn’t see these beastly men and women in a kind light. We had wonderful conversations about how someone could be both joyful and monstrous which helped my students to see the complexity of the war from an individual’s perspective. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is currently featuring an online gallery of photos of S.S. solders in casual settings. The pictures, from a 60-year old photo album, are a powerful illustration of the human side of these men and women. Seeing them laughing, posing, and celebrating will surely spark some interesting discussion. via Boing Boing

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Rap for English

I’ve been playing around with the idea of doing a blog for my middle school focusing on using rap lyrics to get at daily oral language and to build vocabulary. I think the potential is definitely there. I’m worried about two things. Can I come up with material consistently enough to make it worthwhile for the students? Secondly, can/should I use an appropriate portion from an inappropriate song? These are middle school students so it gets a little iffy and the county I’m in is pretty conservative. That being said they are having a Souljah Boy dance party at our school and played a clip from the song today on the intercom. So maybe I could pull this off. I’d love to use lyrics like the ones below from TI’s “You Don’t Know Me” You gone make me bring da chevy to a real slow creep My Partner hangin out the window, mouth fulla gold teeth When the guns start poppin, wonder when its gonna cease choppa hitchu on the side and create a slow leak We can end the speculation cuz today we gone see What’s the future of a sucka who be hatin on me i don’t care about the feds investigation on me I don’t care they at my shows and they waitin on me Ima keep […]

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A 6 Word Story and A 4 Slide Sales Pitch

I heard an amazing graphic designer say something about loving restrictions because they force creativity (a great podcast from SXSW). That’s something we ought to use, as well as do, in teaching. So let’s start by restricting the students . . . 6 Word Stories This is a great way to get students focused on story elements and on clear, concise language. They’d also be great writing prompts. This link is to Say It Better where I found the post and this one is to a much larger list of 6 word stories at Wired. Some of the examples have non-school safe language so you probably won’t want to send students right there. My favorites- With bloody hands, I say good-bye. – Frank Miller Machine. Unexpectedly, I’d invented a time – Alan Moore This assignment forces a lot of deep processing and creativity. You could also use it as an option for your vocabulary work with bonuses for good “stories” with more than one vocab word in them (used correctly of course). You might want to expand the word limit but make things hard for your students. Difficult and creative is the opposite of boring. 4 Slide Sales Pitch It’s similar in idea to dy/dan’s four slide sales pitch. how well you can sell yourself in four (4) picture-only slides. […]