Collateral Learning

Archive for January, 2009

wordle tag clouds
Image by diamond-mind via Flickr

This weeks links:

Make your own Jeopardy Game!

Create Flash games easily without having to know how to code in Flash!  You can create a Jeopardy game, “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”, and a board game.  Also a few “classroom management tools” like random name generator (instead of pulling a name out of a hat) and other somewhat goofy but useful programs.

Screen Toaster

Screen Casting – Create a video capture of your screen and include voice over and even video from a webcam.  Fairly straightforward- create an account, start recording, send out address – not much to it.


Make your own games!  Some fun, some just to waste time, and some are actually educational (okay, mostly just great wastes of time!)

Myths and Legends Story Creator

Create your own animated stories.  Add your school to the site so that students can turn in assignments for teachers to view online.

Blog Posting of the Week:

Wordles of Inaugural Addresses is a site where you can place text in and it will generate a “Tag Cloud” of the text (showing what words are used more frequently by words being larger and bolder.)  It is a great site to use to help students to see their papers differently.  This post has a number of presidential addresses as Wordle sees them.  Interesting to see what was going on at the time and what topics were more important to those presidents.

What is Wordle?

== Summary == Universal recycling symbol outli...
Image via Wikipedia

Many schools are moving to a “paperless” campus.  A paperless campus is a double-edged sword:  sure, there’s less paper work to deal with, but at the same time if you accidently lose a digital file, there is a good chance that you will never retrieve it. While evaluating the pros and cons of going paperless, a school must first look at why it wants to be paperless.

There are three reasons to go paperless:  economic, environmental, and logical.  The economic argument: “We’ll save money on paper” is countered by the cost of the technology and training that it will take to move to a paperless system. Think of it this way, a ream of copy paper costs roughly five dollars.  You would have to save 240 reams of paper to equal the cost of one $1200 laptop.

Environmentally you may be able to save a few trees, but how large is your carbon footprint when you have 750 laptops, five copy machines and 20+ desktops running every day? Part of facing our environmental responsibility is taking note of how we create excess waste.  By moving many documents from paper to electronic formats, we have been able to eliminate a great deal of wasted paper.  In order to honestly make a paperless campus “Green”, we also have to look at the carbon footprint created by so many electrical devices.  We need evaluate lower power/ energy saving equipment as well as better practices we can demonstrate to our students (dual switch classroom lights, lower wattage bulbs, more environmentally friendly batteries, more consistent recycling programs, etc.)

Logically, will it save you time?  Will it become easy to manage the data?  If it is logically justifiable, then the cost can be weighed and balanced (make sure the machines are more than just document processors and bring an added value to their educational use), and the environmental situation can be better evaluated to ensure that you are practicing better “Green” habits (not staying plugged in all the time, using lower power systems, turning off lights, using more environmentally friendly supplies, etc).


Inauguration Links:
Contains links about the Inauguration, links to where it will be streamed live on Tuesday, as well as many lesson plans for all grade levels.  Tons of great information!

25 Historical Addresses
25 Inaugural Addresses.  Be careful, the page loads very slowly and your browser may say that it is “Not Responding.”  That is because they put all 25 as videos on one page and each of them has to load.  Give it a couple of minutes and let it load.

U.S. Presidency Resources
“Help your students learn more about the United States’ executive office and the lives of people who have held the presidency with these resources. Discover what these Americans did before they were famous politicians through biographies and references. Share each president’s vision with your class by reading aloud the inaugural addresses of Washington, Lincoln, FDR, JFK, Reagan, and Clinton. You will also find articles on the electoral process and the roles of the president’s cabinet. Supplement your Presidents’ Day lesson plans with these resources.”

Inauguration Timeline
“Do you know which President was the only person to leave the White House but return for a second term four years later? Do you know what was happening in America during Herbert Hoover’s inauguration? Find the answers to these questions and more as you explore this interactive time line of Presidential inaugurations.”

The official Inaugural Website

Tons of great information about tomorrow’s events.  Especially useful might be the explanation of this year’s theme, “A New Birth of Freedom,”  and the page of Inauguration Day Events.

Image representing Microsoft as depicted in Cr...
Image via CrunchBase

In honor of Microsoft releasing the beta for Windows 7 (the replacement/update for Vista) which came out this weekend, I thought I’d direct you to some of the really nice free stuff from Microsoft:

Live Essentials
This download connects you to the world of Microsoft Live- online computing and management.  It has everything from Email, Messaging, Family Safety (great for you to use and monitor your home desktop, especially if you have children), and Writer (create your own blog).  It also has Movie Maker Online beta (won’t work on most laptops due to video card limitations) and the Office Live Plug In for Office 07 (see below for information on Office Live.)

Office Live Workspace
Upload Word Documents, Excel Files, and PowerPoint Presentations; Create shared workspaces; and share files to be edited collaboratively in this online workspace.  For example, create a class newsletter, share it with your colleagues for everyone to edit, and then distribute a grade level newsletter. The Plug-In can be installed with the Live Essentials installer which will add a menu item to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint to share and edit in Office rather than doing so online.

Skydrive is an online storage solution that will allow you to save up to 25gb of data.  Back up all of your files and access them from any internet connection.

Live Mesh
Live Mesh will allow you to add your machines to a common desktop so that you can keep your different devices synched up more easily.  Here’s what you do:  create your Live Mesh account which will create your “Live Desktop.”  The Live Desktop is an online desktop that will let you save up to 5Gb of data on it.  Then you can install Live Mesh on your laptop and then you can create folders that will sync the files in those folders to your Live Desktop.  Then you can add another machine (say, your home computer) so that you can share files between you home desktop and your laptop and your Live Desktop.  You can also create folders, invite people to them, and then share folders that will sync up your live desktop and your friends.  Eventually they will also be offering mobile device support so that you can sync up your cell phone/PDA with your Live Desktop.  It sounds complicated, but it is really easy to use once you get it installed.

Screen Capturing – Community Clips Recorder
This will let you take screen captures of your computer (video captures of a selected area, a certain application, or the entire screen) and then you can upload them and share them via the Community Clips website.  It will also record sound so you can do a voice-over tutorial and send it to your students – great idea for study materials for exams.

Here are your top ten (in no particular order) links for the week:

Let’s start the Semester off right:

De-Stress the Holidays with Online Flash Games
A collection of goofy and somewhat addictive online games to help de-stress after the Winter Break.  My favorite: Penguin Rush.  (Some may be blocked from campus… but then again, why are you playing games at work?)

Vista Gadget of the Week:
Magic Folder
Keep things cleaned up on your Vista desktop with Magic Folder.  The Magic Folder is actually just a Windows Sidebar gadget that you can drag files to, and it can automatically sort them into the proper folders, based on rules which you can configure easily.  There are tons of great gadgets out there, this one actually serves a purpose.

Digital Ethics Links:  Using Images Without Violating Copyright!

Creative Commons
creativecommonsCreative Commons is an easy and free way to display the rights that you and others have over a piece of work.  For example, blogs are many times licensed under the “Share Alike” copyright which states that you may freely use the information from the blog as long as you give credit to the author as well as the work in which you are using the material is also Share Alike (meaning your work cannot be “all rights reserved”).  Teaching our students how Creative Commons works helps to teach them about plagiarism, rights, and ownership of work.

Flickr (Creative Commons Search)
flickrGreat for finding photographs taken by people who are willing to share their creativity, usually only asking in return that you give them credit for their work. When I find what I want, I save the attribution info in the title, so that if I ever want to use the file again, I will be sure to give the proper credit each time I use it.

Great Content Site of the Week: Politics

Capitol Words
See what words are used most frequently on Capital Hill and even see the favorite words of different lawmakers.  You can see who is the most vocal, who is the quietest and who says what the most.  Great for seeing if what Washington is talking about is actual what is important!


Great Web 2.0 Applications of the Week:

Glogster EDU
glogsterGlogster lets you create interactive posters.  The new education side is filtered and is a bit safer to use (the main Glogster site may contain inappropriate Glogs for younger audiences).  This would be a great way to make a Biography project or Book Report interactive and interesting.

adamAdam lets you take a static PDF or image and make it much more dynamic.  Take the image/pdf and add hotspots with pictures, video, text, and more to make your file dynamic and interactive.  For example, assign students to create travel maps of Spain and have them look online for pictures and videos of tourist sites and link them appropriately to the map.  This is also a great opportunity to teach copyright and proper use of digital media.  See this house floorplan as an example.

Zamzar lets you convert YouTube and other online videos into movie files that you can download to your computer.


Great Blog Posting for the Week:
How Educators Handle Difficult Parents

Environmental Link:
An interesting approach to conserving ink:  how much of a letter can be missing and it still be legible?  Like swiss cheese, there are small holes in the font that at smaller sizes are hardly noticeable.  Less ink used = less waste.  Conceptually it’s a neat idea, realistically I’m not sure how much it will be used.

Since I’ve been on the road for over a week, I haven’t had much of a chance to really take alook at my blog. Even now I’m posting using my Palm. While everyone is out making outlandish resolutions they’ll never be able to keep, I’ve decided to make my own. It won’t be easy, but I’ve decided on just one resolution that’ll impact me the most- I’ve decided that for 2009 I’ll be more positive. This won’t be easy since I am by nature a cynic, so being an optimist will take some effort. So here’s to 2009 and all the possibilities it has in store for us all.