turning stones

taking for a spin: tools for The Five 8s

Tag Archives: technology

Featuring Mannixlab


Mannixlab is New York Social Studies teacher, Mr. Brian Mannix’s website. It contains links to nice Web 2.0 tools. As I’m writing this, I typed up a quick email to Mr. Mannix seeking his permission to feature his website here. If and when I hit the ‘Publish’ button, It means that I got his approval.

His site includes the links to his classes, a portal where his students can login and be directed to their class page. Students can find their homework as well as the projects for the unit. It contains links to other resources the teacher used in his classes.

Built in Google Sites, it also contains connections to cool Web 2.0 applications his students or anyone who visits may use. Visit Mannixlab, have a look around and pick up ideas you may want to try out.

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Shortening Multiple URLs Equals More Class Time


Let’s say you brought your students to the computer laboratory, or used one of the roving Mac labs for a research activity in class. You also know that for some students, searching the net is distracting and because of this, you want to guide them in their research activity. When preparing for this particular session, you have visited and listed down or bookmarked the URLs of relevant websites. In class, you flash the different web addresses of the sites you want your students to visit on the board. And the students start working.

Great! The students are engaged and you go around the room supervising. But wait a minute, how did your students manage to visit your suggested sites? Did they have to type a long string every time they need to go to the next web address on your list? Sure, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just that, there could be better and faster ways to do it. Yes you guessed it right, by using a URL shortener. So instead of typing, say: http://www.universetoday.com/75663/how-nasa-helped-rescue-the-chilean-miners/ you could just type: http://fur.ly/2j3e and arrive at the same site. Students will just need to type 18 characters instead of 76 for this particular site. Cool, huh? What’s more, there are plenty of URL shortening sites to choose from. Here’s an exhaustive list: http://fur.ly/2j3o

But here’s something cooler. Just one short URL for multiple sites. Yes just one. You as the teacher just need to type all the URLs in one page then generate one short web address. The students just visit this one web address that you supplied and they can browse all the sites you want them to look at. Here’s an example I made. This is about the stirring rescue of the Chilean miners last week. Just click on the shortened web address and you’ll be led to the five sites I listed: http://krunchd.com/c0a869 (you will find left and right arrows on the upper right hand corner of the page to navigate).

Go get your short URL for multiple websites at http://krunchd.com. The site actually has more features like editing your list or allowing others to edit your list for collaborative work. The generated short URL could be emailed or shared through networking sites.

This is not to say that teachers should be using this all the time. As we also want our students to find resources on their own by doing a proper search.

Tell a Compelling Story via Social Media


Social Media is the main buzz nowadays. I’m sure it is becoming more and more difficult to find inhabitants of this planet who have not been exposed to social media. Just some figures I found:

Facebook Stats(www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics)

  • More than 500 million active users
  • 50% of active users log on to Facebook in any given day
  • Average user has 130 friends
  • People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook

Twitter Stats(www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/14/twitter-user-statistics-r_n_537992.html)

  • Twitter now has 105,779,710 registered users.
  • New users are signing up at the rate of 300,000 per day.
  • Twitter users are, in total, tweeting an average of 55 million tweets a day.

YouTube Stats(www.website-monitoring.com/blog/2010/05/17/youtube-facts-and-figures-history-statistics/)

  • Exceeds 2 billion views a day
  • 24 hours of video uploaded every minute
  • Average person spends 15 minutes a day on YouTube

Just looking at those stats we realize the power of these networks. And there are so much more than just those 3 most popular sites. They provide terabyte upon terabyte of information. When television/news networks cover events, information is not only provided by their field reporters, information is supplied by many sources. These networks follow trends of events in social media sites, tracking updates from warm bodies who are actually in the scene and airing opinions of those who aren’t. Our hobby or habit of typing updates, letting the world know what is happening around us and what we feel about it can be harnessed to come up with a unique story.

Enter Storify. Storify is a web application used to tell stories with elements from social media like tweets, Facebook updates, YouTube videos, Flickr photos, blog entries or others. You can tell your own story, a school event, news that have global impact, a weather report, a disaster. Readers can go to the original sources quoted and also retweet or reply and interact. When you’re finished, you can let your sources know that you have cited them in your story. You can share it on your social network or embed it on your blog or website.

Visit storify.com and send an email to get an invite. Testing Storify, I created my own simple story about what I did for onedayonearth.org here.

I just added another storify… made it in 5 minutes… here is XS Dress Me A Literary!

Storify from Burt Herman on Vimeo.

Getting Kids to Blog Safely


The Operation NExT Team has been encouraging Xavier School teachers to blog about their professional life, their experiences in and out of the classroom, the technologies and strategies that they use, their insights and successes as teachers and formators. Also WordPress is being introduced to students from Grade 5 to High 4 for them to build and maintain their individual Personal Learning Websites(PLWS).

It’s a great leap for Xavier School as teachers and staff and students are starting to blog. You should visit their sites and take a look at what they have to say and learn what they are learning.

WordPress is the preferred platform due to its robust elements, which includes wide layout flexibility and its more open commenting feature. It can be pretty demanding to the uninitiated, first time user. But it gets easy as you use it. So yes, we feel that WordPress is appropriate to our 5th graders. However, we can go even younger. As early as when we start computer classes in 3rd grade.

And yes, we have an age-appropriate WordPress version for them. Welcome KIDBLOG! A simple and secure site teachers can use to create space for students to blog. Here’s how it works:

  1. teacher creates an account using his/her email address
  2. teacher enters user names and assigns passwords for each student in class
  3. teacher tells students to go to the class site
  4. students see a drop down list of user names and log in
  5. voila… they can start blogging
  6. teacher may want everything to run by him/her for approval before publishing

KidBlog is secure because kids do not have to have their own email addresses. The teacher can have control over all posts, reviewing them before it gets published. The teacher has control over who can view and make comments on the blog; either named users(class members) only, or all visitors. This is also a good way to let parents know what their children are doing and learning in class(if you choose that path).

KidBlog is easy to use. User can upload pictures, link sites and videos and comment on each others works. Even if it is simple and does not have all of its features, it has the look and feel of WordPress. I create a class site for Operation NExT Team members and I made viewing public so anyone can visit kidblog.org/larrydlpsnextclass.

A great and fun way to learn!

A Playground for Ideas


An online community for teachers. A forum for innovation and collaboration. A rich and powerful resource, WeAreTeachers combines the expertise of its member community, the knowledge base of its partners and the momentum of social media in providing and contributing ideas for teaching and learning. Listing resources on an myriad of subjects and grade levels, signing up and joining WeAreTeachers is easy and free.
Teaching and learning ideas are not limited to the use of technology. There are individual, group, short or long-term projects and activities. An intuitive search feature returns results that are quite specific to what you are looking for. There are plenty of links to other resources.

If you are a teacher with a blog, you can submit your link here and WeAreTeachers can help you get exposure. You can also sign up to participate in teacher panels as well as submit your teaching and learning ideas.

So what will this be about?


I like searching for ideas, resources, free tools teachers can use. Not only on infusing technology into their teaching, but also other ways of spurring students into learning. Activities that engage students, widen or deepen understanding. It can be in any subject area.
I will be combing the net for teacher blogs, organization websites, tech magazines and I will share what I find here.

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