Blogging 4 Everyone

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Blogging 4 Everyone is a resource for anyone who wants to learn how to blog. It has very simple, straightforward instructions for starting a blog including a video.

It does not mention Blogger, so here is my instructions for getting started with Blogger.

This would be a good resource to use if you want to create your own blog or if you are trying to get your students using blogs in class.

Creating a Personal Learning Network with Web 2.0 Tools

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Creating a Personal Learning Network with Web 2.0 Tools is a site that helps teachers set up and create a PLN. It has information and resources from multiple teachers and includes a variety of resources for teachers to use to connect with other educators. The site was created as part of a presentation for FETC 2009.

I'm a huge proponent of PLNs and this is definitely a great site to use to create or expand your own PLN.

Related Articles:

Great resource for career info for students

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The CBIA (Connecticut Business and Industry Association) has a great site with education resources. One part of it is called "Career Pathways." In this section, there are videos and teacher's guides for helping students learn about different careers. I've used them and the resources are excellent. For the engineering career one, they have interviews with engineers and follow them on their daily work. The teacher guides have lesson ideas and student resources that make these very easy to use.

I recommend them to career teachers and counselors as well as class room teachers. You can use these to connect what you are teaching to real world careers.

The career areas are: Energy and Green Technology, Engineering, Health and Biosciences, and Manufacturing. Even though it is geared towards Connecticut, anyone can use these resources.

Free Apps - easily find free software for your computer

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FreeApps is a web site that aggregates free software and lets you download it all from one site. You can choose free software ranging from web browsers, to email and communications, to utilities like anti-virus and firewall. Most of the free software they offer is well known, such as Firefox, AVG, Adobe Reader, and the like, but this site makes it easy to find it all in one spot. It also bundles the software into one file for downloading. There is a very large variety of software available. See below for some of them.

Teachers can use this themselves, but it is also a very good resource to let your students know about so that they can easily find some of this great free software that is out there.

Loving Zumodrive

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Zumo Drive - is another sync and sharing service with similar features to Sugarsync and Dropbox. I use this also. A great feature is being able to stream music from Zumo Drive to your mobile device. In fact, you can stream and access different types of files. You can use this to access your files on any device. I have linked folders on my main laptop at home and can access them on my netbook, Palm Pre+, and school computer. Easy to use also. 

There is a free 2GB version. Zumo Drive actually works and looks like another drive on your computer. 25 GB is $6.99 / month.

Happiness at 10

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On Friday I talked about happiness with the fourth grade students with whom I've been working at John Muir Elementary in Seattle. One of the things that's always so interesting to me about discussing philosophy with children is that the conversations frequently parallel in many aspects the discussions I have with college students. They unfold at different levels in terms of language and sophistication, but the issues tend to emerge in very similar ways.

We talked about what's important for happiness, and many of the students expressed the view that central to thinking about what you need for happiness is being aware of what creates unhappiness. That is, many of the children thought that happiness involves avoiding experiences like loneliness, isolation, pain and feelings of meaninglessness.

The students then broached the question, "What exactly is happiness?" In this conversation, they raised many issues about happiness, noting, for example, that you can be happy and unhappy at the same time, that you can have a happy life and still feel unhappy at any particular moment, that happiness seems to be more than a feeling and that, although we talk about feeling happy, happiness is really more like an evaluation of the state of your life. One student suggested that happiness is attainable to everyone, and another pointed out that your attitude toward your life is what's most essential for happiness. We ended by observing that we often talk as though happiness and feeling happy are the same thing, but that upon reflection happiness, though we still might not know precisely how to define or attain it, is more complex and multifaceted than the experience of feeling happy.

3 Conferences in one week - lots of great stuff

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It's Educational Conference Time!

This past week I presented at and attended three great conferences. Here's a little summary and links to the resources for each one.

Saturday, October 16th - Glastonbury, CT
Discovery Education - Connecticut Day of Discovery (pre - CECA conference).
I presented a session on all of the free resources from Discovery Education. This one was free. 
There were also presentations on Web 2.0 tools, differentiating, and much more. Steve Denbo (@teach42) had some great presentations and shared some great ideas and resources. Hopefully we'll do this one again next year.
Original Info on Conference:

Presenter resources:

Monday, October 18th - Hartford, CT
CECA (Connecticut Educators Computer Association)
I presented two sessions. One was on Innovative Free Technologies for Teachers and the other was on Creating a Personal Learning Network.
Gary Stager was the keynote speaker and Richard Byrne was one of the featured speakers. There were a lot of different sessions and a large number of vendors. All-in-all it was a great learning experience and I made a lot of contacts to add to my PLN.

Presenter resources:

Friday, October 22nd - Tarrytown, NY
TechForum NY (sponsored by Tech&Learning Magazine)
I was one of four panelists on a session entitled "Web 2.0 Smackdown" where we will share our favorite Web 2.0 tools for educators. Kathy Schrock was the keynote speaker.

I didn't have a chance to attend any afternoon sessions due to a death in the family, but the morning sessions were very good. Our session did have a lot of audience feedback and dialog. 

Presenter materials can be found under each session description here:

This was a great week of learning, sharing, and connecting. 

CECA 2010 Conference

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Yesterday, I attended and presented at CECA (CT Educators Computer Assoc) conference in Hartford, CT.

It was a great conference with lots of great sessions, discussions, vendors, and of course networking.

If you couldn't attend, here are some links for you (and try to get there next year!)

Gary Stager - Keynote Address - virtual handout -

Presenter Materials and handouts -
(not everyone submitted things) My handouts are available on there.

Richard Byrne's presentations are available on his site -

Can't wait for next year's!

(And Friday, I'll be presenting and attending TechForum NY. I hope I'll see some of you there!)

Great Web 2.0 Resources for Students

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There are some really great Web 2.0 Resources for Students out there that can help students with their school work, getting organized, and using other Web 2.0 resources. Here is a list of some of my favorites.


Trackclass is a great, free resource for students. The site allows students to track their classes and assignments, and even will send reminders (email or SMS) for upcoming assignment due dates and test dates. There is also a note taking utility so students can take notes on it if they have a computer in school, or transcribe notes later. You can even attach files to each class and assignment to keep things organized. It is a great way for students to stay organized.

There is also a version for mobile phones and the iPhone, so students can stay organized no matter where they are.

I found it very easy to use, with a great help section. I wish they had this when I was in school! I was even thinking that teachers could use this too.

Shoshiku is another free class organizer, similar to Trackclass. It has a calendar, notes, task list, and reminder system like Trackclass. It is not as full featured, in my opinion, as Trackclass, but it is easy to use and some students may like it better than Trackclass.

Dweeber is a homework collaboration site that also has tools to help students learn better. It is described as a homework social network. Students sign up, for free, and can add their friends, known as "dweebs" to their network. Students can work on homework together and help each other out. It even as a virtual whiteboard so that they can work together just as if they were in the same room. There is a message center, study sessions, and even a place to post links to web sites that you find helpful in doing your work.

This is a great resource for students who can't get together physically to work on homework or projects.

Google Student Blog:

I am a huge user and fan of Google's many applications and their use in education. I use Blogger for this blog and my classroom blogs, Google Sites for my classroom site, Google Docs, Google Earth, iGoogle and much more with my students and for my own use. I show my students Google's applications because they are easy to use, useful, and free.

Google recently launched the Google Student Blog. This blog site is a great resource for students who use Google's products. It includes information, updates, how-to's, tips, and much more on how to use Google's applications as a student. If your students use Google's products, they should be reading the Google Student Blog.

Scribblar is an online meeting room / white board. Students can use it to collaborate on projects, teachers can tutor via the computer, and teachers can use it for collaborative meetings and projects.

Scribblar gives the users a virtual white board on the screen and writing tools to create text, lines and shapes. They can even add images.

There is also a chat window on the side bar so that users can talk to each other while working. There is even a live chat system if you have a microphone and speakers.

I see students using this to work on homework problems together. Teachers could use this to help students with homework after school or on the weekends.

Scribblar can now support PDF files. Free users can upload PDFs with up to 5 pages. Your uploaded PDF will be turned into an editable image in Scribblar.


Evernote is a great, free resource that allows you to easily capture information using whatever device or operating system you use. It then makes this information accessible and searchable from anywhere. Their tagline: Remember Everything.

You can capture task lists, notes, web pages, white boards, business cards, pictures, and even clip web pages to Evernote.

You can download a desktop version of the software, for free, which will sync to the Evernote web server, or you can just access it through the internet on their web page. You can also access it through a mobile device. They have downloadable applications for the iPhone, Blackberry, Android, and Windows Mobile devices. You can also access their mobile website on any web-enabled phone.

You can create new notes via desktop, web, or mobile version. You can also use your camera phone or web cam to take a snapshot and Evernote can even recognize the text in the image. You can also email notes, clip web pages, record audio notes, and scan papers, receipts and more into Evernote.

Their website has easy to follow instructions and help sections. Students can use Evernote to take notes in class, share notes with other students, capture notes off of a whiteboard or poster using their smartphone camera, and much more.

Dropbox is a service that allows you to sync your files on your computer with their system as a backup. This also allows you to access the files anywhere. You can also sync the files across multiple computers. This means that you have automatic backup of your files and 24/7 access to your files. I have it set up to sync a folder on my home computer and school computer so I don't have to worry about having multiple versions or forgetting a flash drive.

There are also Dropbox apps for iPhone, Android, iPad and there is one coming for Blackberry. There is an independent app for Palm webOS, but you can also access the mobile site from any web-enabled phone. Imagine being able to access all of your files on your smartphone!

One feature that is very nice is the fact that it works with network drives like we use in my district. Some of the other cloud file storage and sync systems can't work with network drives. I was very happy to see this was able to be done with Dropbox.

Students can use this to access and back up their files anywhere. They can also share files with each other which is useful when working on projects.


This web site has some great resources for students and teachers, including test prep, study skills, organization, grammar and writing, and career planning. Everything broken down by topic and is listed on one page, so it is easy to find things.

I created a Google Presentation about Google and other free applications and resources for students that I will be sharing with my students next week. I feel that these are the tools and resources that will be the most useful to them, with the shortest amount of training time required.

I thought I would also share it with you. You can view it HERE.

Please share your favorite student resources with us!

Meaning in Education

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Since our seminar session at UW last Thursday, I've been thinking about meaning in education. We spent the first part of the session talking about Plato's Allegory of the Cave and enlightenment, the relationship between appearance and reality, knowledge, and human development, and then moved into examining the nature of thinking and thoughts. It was a rich couple of discussions and made me think about my own undergraduate (and secondary) education, and the rare opportunities I experienced for this kind of classroom dialogue. 

It is so clear to me that there is a hunger for meaningful, deep conversations about these kinds of questions. Creating a community of philosophical inquiry in a classroom, a space within which fundamental philosophical questions are explored, makes a space for students to gain experience questioning and analyzing their own experiences and perceptions. I believe that the deepest and most authentic kind of learning occurs when students participate in thinking about a subject (and are not just passive recipients of what is being taught), and a new clarity emerges for them personally. Helping them to engage in collaborative inquiry that is aimed at acquiring meaning and deeper understanding enables these kinds of experiences.

NASA Aerodynamics resources - good for all classes!

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NASA's Glenn Research Center has a huge amount of resources for teachers to use in class. The Aerodynamics section is truly amazing. 

They have Science Fundamentals (Newton's Laws, Equilibrium, Torques, Phases of Matter), Math Fundamentals (Area, volume, vectors, trigonometry...), Airplane parts, Aerodynamics, Model Rockets, and much more. 

Many of the topics are set up in a lesson type format. Students can just click "next" to proceed through the section. There are even interactive demos and simulations available. And all of it is for free.

They also have the Beginner's Guide to Aeronautics (BGA) which was created as a Web-based "textbook." The creation of the BGA is a research project to explore the use of the personal computer and the Internet to present educational materials to students, teachers, and lifelong learners in a more interactive way than a printed, bound textbook.

The material is good for Middle and High School students, but teachers can use parts of it for any level of class. 

I use it as a great primer on Newton's Laws, and also use it for our Rocket's lesson at the end of the year. The nice thing is that when you apply all of these topics to aerospace topics, the students are more engaged than they would be by the topic itself. 

Some more NASA Education Sites:

Share your NASA resources with us!

Plato with Fourth Graders

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I taught my first couple of elementary school classes in the last week, both with fourth grade students in Seattle. It is always amazing to me the level of philosophical interest and understanding shown by children. Yesterday I had a discussion with about 30 fourth graders about Plato's "Ring of Gyges." In our conversation, the children pointed out the dangers of the ring (thinking you might have more control over it than you do, the risks of it falling into the wrong hands, etc.). They also expressed their sense that you could think now that you know how you would behave if you had an invisibility ring, but really the way you would act if you were actually in this situation could turn out to be quite different than your predictions. We talked about the view that people behave morally only in order to avoid negative consequences if they do not, and the children generally asserted that they often behave in ways that seem morally good not because of the potential consequences if they don't, but because they see themselves as certain kinds of people and being those kinds of people (trustworthy, loyal, kind, helpful, etc.) is important to them.

We also taught our first Philosophy for Children class at the University of Washington this week, and several undergraduates expressed their views that most children do start thinking early in their lives about the larger questions that underlie human existence, but there is typically no vehicle for exploring philosophical questions and along the way that part of many children's selves fails to develop. We talked about how meaningful it can be to talk about questions like the meaning of life, what makes a life worth living, what success means, how we can know what's right and wrong, who we are, etc., and the difference it can make in young people's lives to examine these questions in an ongoing, collective way. We read Jon Muth's story The Three Questions (which I've talked about in an earlier post), and each of the students wrote down the three questions that they think are the most important questions to which they would like answers.

Here are my three:
Why are we here?
Is time just a feature of human minds, and what is the objective relationship (if any) between past, present and future?
What happens when we die?

Discovery Education Virtual Conference

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Discovery Education is presenting the Discovery Educator Network Fall Virtual Conference on Saturday, October 23rd at 9am. FREE!

The virtual conference is a great way to get some free professional development, learn about new things, and make new connections with other educators. You can attend online, at home, or there are even some in-person regional events hosted by DEN Leadership Councils.

There will be presenters from around the DEN (Discovery Educator Network) and some special guests.

I have attended these in the past and they are very good! I highly recommend them.

Virtual Conference - Tech Forum - FREE!

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TechForum is a series of educational conferences presented by Tech&Learning Magazine. Virtual TechForum is a free, online, virtual conference. It is being held on Wednesday, November 17th, 2010.

The virtual conference is a great way to attend a conference, for free, without cost or travel. The Virtual TechForum will have sessions on Web 2.0 in the classroom, 21st Century Literacies, Cool tools for communication and collaboration, administration topics, and some IT sessions. The virtual conference has live video sessions with chat, on-demand video sessions, exhibitor/vendor area where you can find out more information about products and chat with the exhibitors, and an area to chat with other attendees.

I have attended virtual conferences before and got a lot of information and resources and added some new people to my PLN. They are easy to "attend" and well worth your time.

Go here for more info or to register:

Great Articles - Professional Development 2.0

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Jason Bedell is a member of my PLN. He and I have similar views on education and he has recently written 21 articles on his blog entitled "Professional Development 2.0". These articles are informative, easy to read, timely, and very relevant to the needs of all educators. I highly suggest reading them. 

Professional Development does not have to be, and shouldn't be, a bunch of teachers sitting in a room being lectured by some "expert" who probably hasn't been in a classroom in 20 years. It should be educators sharing ideas, tips, resources, and how they have overcome obstacles. A PLN is part of your professional development network. Use it! 

Here is a list of the topics he has covered:

Professional Development 2.0 series.

Check out his blog and read these articles. They are definitely worth your time!