SUPER ZOOM in Google Earth

I’m trying to go to sleep but I keep finding cool stuff- oh well- I’ll take interesting information over sleep any day. There are secret super zoom areas in Google Earth- good enough to make out faces. Check out this article for the details on how to do it and make sure you wear a disguise while outside so our new Google Overlords don’t get you in the system :). No real direct educational link right now based on the randomness of the images but it sure shows you what the future is likely to bring (and if that aint educational. . . I don’t know what is). Link via- The Raw Feed

Google Lit Trips

Google Earth Lit Trips Novels plotted out in Google Earth with supplementary information and photos. Unbelievably cool. They’ve got a few to choose from with preview screenshots of what you’ll be getting. They have Grapes of Wrath, Candide and Night as well as a number of others. It looks like it’ll be growing too as it’s part of the Google Certified Teacher Program (which I’d kill to do, well at least maim). Kevin Jarnett was lucky and skilled enough to be chosen and has some good posts about his experience. Now I just want to see kids making these. link via Will Richardson

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A Book Review of a Different Color

Probably been done before but I’m trying to make book reviews/reports a little more exciting. We started with the Byrd Book Review blog and simple audio reviews but my goal is to up the entertainment value for listeners and creators. We still haven’t publicized the site with our students but it’s getting pretty decent organic exposure so far. I made a sample review of The Hobbit through the eyes of Gollum using bits and pieces of audio from the movie and BBC radio play. This gives a nice way to review the book and focus on both point of view and the idea of voice in writing. If you’d like to hear it . . . [audio:http://teachers.henrico.k12.va.us/byrd/woodward_t/gollumn reviews it.mp3]

Cockroaches and Gun Fights

1. Cockroach Algebra– is a game where you have to figure the slope of the cockroach’s path before they can breed. If you take too long you’ll have a whole mess of roaches running around on your screen. Get it right and you can smash them with rockets, lasers or even a shoe. Level one is simple but things get harder fast. It’s pretty fun and there is real satisfaction in killing the roaches. 2. Word Shoot– This is a typing game where your speed and accuracy (in typing) allow you to shoot your enemies. Type in their word and gun them down, fail in that endeavour and you get blasted. Nice, simple and possibly inappropriate for school depending on your grade and geographic location. Go play this game, it’s far better than my screenshot indicates.

Comma Rules and Keynote

We teach 12 comma rules each spring in preparation for our state writing test. In previous years, I have worked off of overheads. My students laughed at me as I repeatedly blinded myself while standing in front of the screen. This year, I decided to save my eyes and put a series of Keynote (PowerPoint) presentations together. My goal was to make the lessons easier for visual learners to grasp. I used consistant color schemes and movement on the screen to show the students methods that helped them break apart a sentence. The truth is, grammar is very technical. There is no beauty of word choice or personal expression in placing commas. Grammar is the math, the logic, side of writing. This makes teaching grammar–well–boring (no offence to math teachers out there). Below you will find links to my first effort at making the grammar lessons more engaging than an overhead and my hand. I started making the Keynotes at Rule 4 and worked my way through the lessons before returning to Rules 1-3. It’s interesting to see how the presentations evolve as I became more comfortable with the software. I ended up exporting the presentations as enhanced Quicktime videos that are clickable. I linked these to my homework blog so students could review the lessons if they were having […]

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Welcome VSTE 2007 Attendees

Welcome participants of VSTE Conference. If your looking for blogging resources connected with our presentation “Bob on Blogs,” you will find it here. Feel free to look around and comment while you’re visiting, and make sure you subscribe to or bookmark the blog. We update it several times a week.

FlashFace (aka the Literary or Historical Persona Creator)

My title makes it sound much more academic so use it in the lesson plan and flashface with your kids. A fun way to get kids thinking about the characters in a novel or history. Send them to flashface and have them create their characters for use elsewhere (as icons for blogs). Bonus points for aligning them to the descriptions used in the work. site found thanks to- Ideas and Thoughts

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Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia – Quotes for Education

I listened to Net@Nite today. They interviewed Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia and it was pretty interesting but had nothing to do with education. That did not stop me from applying some of these quotes directly to what we do. “This idea of- it’s not really about the software, it’s about the people. It’s about helping people find resolutions to problems and being supportive and loving and at the same time being firm with people who are trying to disrupt things. That’s really what it’s all about.” – Jimmy Wales “Ask anyone who’s every tried this. This is a very difficult balance to strike.”- Leo Laporte Leo’s preaching to the choir here. That line is very hard to walk and it sounds an awful lot like good classroom management- but with voluntary students. I always wondered would my students stay if they didn’t have to. Did I make their experience that good? Sometimes I did. I know I also failed at times and that’s where the next quote came in- “A long term project of learning, experimenting, you know trying things.” – Jimmy Wales To me that’s teaching. A long term project of learning, experimenting and trying things. If you aren’t changing and experimenting and learning right along with your students something is wrong. Several of my disaster lessons led to […]

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Creative Communication

I’m going to be co-teaching a class for our county’s administrators on creative communication. The idea is basically that email is boring and often ignored so spicing things up really helps for important communications. You can check out some of the work of my co-teacher, Jen Maddux, below (a few more of her movies to follow later).

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A Moment of Zen

I’m watching the Grammys and was moved to tears by Ludacris and Mary J’s performance of Runaway Love. It was about the hard life for girls in the ghetto. There was so much truth in the lyrics. I see it in my classroom. Their performance was followed immediately by James Blunt singing You’re Beautiful. Blunt’s ballad about a girl he sees once and immediately falls in love with is pure romantic fantasy. I could see nothing but two very different worlds in these songs. Placed back to back, they flooded my head with the faces of my students. These two worlds collide in my classroom everyday. We sit on a fault line where some students take a week for vacationing while others take a week for fighting. The dynamic is both exhilarating and exhausting. This week I was found by a former student. She is 25 and thinking about a life of teaching. She wanted to know the truth, so I told her about the planning. The days where I never see the sun. The inspirational speeches. The glimmering eyes. The students failing because of their homes–not their heads. The rigged-up, shower curtain projection screen. The conversations about which foreign language to take or what it means to be a real man. The first time they laugh at my stupid […]