Friday, January 30, 2004

A website just for female tweens with lots of activities, some of which are even educational. The world of the average 12 year old has really changed since I was in middle school! everGirl

Thursday, January 29, 2004

I was doing some winter cleaning and found some very old files, at least in web years. I began teaching courses about the world wide web sometime in 1996 and I have several handouts that highlight websites. So, here's the challenge: how many of them are still live after nearly 8 years?

This first site came from a brochure published by Classroom Connect, one of the major players in the world of ed tech. To let you know how old this is, the address for the company is still Lancaster, PA (my home town)! But the website is still thriving and appears to be actively updated.

The Tree of Life Web Project Home Page provides great information on biological organisms and includes lots of images. The Tree of Life is a collaborative web project, produced by biologists from around the world. On more than 2600 World Wide Web pages, the Tree of Life provides information about the diversity of organisms on Earth, their history, and characteristics. Each page contains information about one group of organisms (for example, the Coleoptera page gives information about all beetles, the Salticidae page about jumping spiders, the Cephalopoda page about squids, octopi, and related molluscs, and the Fungi page about fungi). Individual Tree of Life pages are linked one to another in the form of the evolutionary tree that connects all organisms, with the pages branching off from a group's page being about subgroups.

Can't get enough blog time? Then spend some time at the website for the 2004 "bloggies" to see what's happening in the blogosphere. You can vote for your favorites in a variety of categories: Fairvue Central >> Features >> Fourth Annual Weblog Awards

From Bell South and South Carolina ETC, Digital Storyteller offers South Carolina teachers and students a chance to interview WWII and Korean War veterans and then produce a video of that interview. I know...we're in Virginia...but I thought the idea might spark a similar project in our own state. BellSouth Digital Storyteller

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

I start my day by checking the headlines at The New York Times. This morning, they featured an audio slide show about the New Hampshire primary. It was very well done and used a combination of photos and audio narration to lay out the progress of the Democratic primary race. The paper is also featuring an interactive graphic that shows the results for each state and keeps a running total of the number of delegates won by each candidate. A free account is required to access most of the material on the newspaper's website. The New York Times on the Web

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

From Friday's Washington Post, an article about the Virginia House of Delegates passing a resolution calling on Congress to exempt states like Virginia, which already has state standards and accountability tests in place, from the No Child Left Behind Act. Va. Seeks To Leave Bush Law Behind (

Monday, January 26, 2004

The NETS Digital Video Library was developed by a consortium led by Arizona State University (ASU), in partnership with the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Casio, and others. The consortium has developed an online, digital video library (DVL) of teachers integrating technology. The DVL series of standard-based instruction is based on the NETS for Students: Connecting Curriculum and Technology (2000) and the teacher standards publication NETS for Teachers: Preparing Teachers to Use Technology. Teacher candidates and educators will be able to access video of the technology standards in action, anytime, anywhere. This is an excellent resource for professional development:

Saturday, January 17, 2004

We're heading to Orlando for the Florida Educational Technology Conference and going a few days early to visit family who just happen to live on the Gulf Coast near the Everglades. get a week's worth of blogs in one big bunch. We'll be back online Monday, January 26.

Monday: This is a favorite website from the early days: Create Your Own Newspaper or CRAYON for short. Nothing flashy: just a quick way to make a list of newspapers and other web resources without having to navigate through banner ads and pop ups. I think simple is always best... - Create Your Own Newspaper

Tuesday: Today we highlight three web resources just for the librarians in our midst.

From the Educator's Reference Desk, 15 annotated citations of resources the address the topic of The Changing Role of the Librarian. This "AskEric" Response we posted in May 2003.

The Education Librarian is a blog just for librarians. The blog is run by Anna Lewis, the Access Services librarian at the CIMC (Center for Instructional Materials and Computing) - An education library at the UW-Madison. Anna updates her blog several times a month, focussing on educational websites and resources.

Finally, a website already in the VCOL database is the one for the American Library Association.

Wednesday: I learned something new as I faithfully surfed the web to bring you great sites...I discovered Pathfinders. The bibliographies include print and electronic resources as well as help with researching the topic. The Pathfinders website offers good information and links to some excellent Pathfinders.

Thursday: Long winter evenings lend themselves to reading, and there's plenty of education-related information on the web. Here are just a few spots for research and information:

The Brown Center on Education Policy is part of the Brookings Institute. The Center does research into educational policies and practices and is always a good place to start for information about programs like No Child Left Behind or school vouchers.

From the Phi Delta Kappan, the 35th version of an annual report on the public's attitude towards the public schools. Surprisingly, most people know very little about No Child Left Behind and do not seem to support the idea of judging either students or schools on the results of one standardized test. Read the report to find out more...

Finally, the Education Review is offered as a free service from Arizona State University. It is a journal of book reviews of recent books about education.

Friday: By now, we'll be at the conference in Orlando. I did all of the research for our vacation as well as airline tickets, rental car and hotel reservations online. What would I do without the web? Here are a few of the resources I found relating to Florida and especially its wildlife:

We'll be visiting Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in Titusville, Florida, just next to the Kennedy Space Center. I went last January and the birding was spectacular. I can't wait to go again.

I have never been to the Everglades. We'll be at Marco Island for the beginning of the week and it's just on the western edge of the park so I know we'll spend at least one day driving and hiking, maybe even canoeing.

We're going to visit the Ponce Inlet Light Station, the second tallest lighthouse on the east coast right behind Cape Hatteras. You can't climb it, but they have restored the out buildings and have a fresnel lens on display.

Of course, we'll also be at the conference for two days and learning lots of new things about technology that we'll share with you.

Friday, January 16, 2004

I've been doing some more poking around the "new" Eric website and found a link to the National EdTech Plan. Currently under development, the Department of Education is looking for feedback from educators. There are lots of places to offer comments. In addition, take some time to read the report, A Retrospective on Twenty Years of Educational Technology Policy (pdf), which reviews major policy documents, beginning with A Nation at Risk and ending with the recent No Child Left Behind legislation.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Discovering Bats! is a well-designed webquest for upper elementary age students. In a group, they explore various facets of bats from their habitat to their portrayal in the media and then come together to decide if bats should be exterminated. Discovering Bats!

If you're looking for more webquests of a high caliber, be sure to stop by where Tom March is collecting and evaluating webquests.

Good morning! Thought I'd start the day with a little blogging for VCOL! As I transfer websites from Teaching the Virginia SOL, many of the lesson plans are from AskEric, which has been moved to the Educator's Reference Desk. I strongly recommend a visit to the site to do some lesson plan searching on your own. Here are three plans I found that focus on oral communications:

My Year With _______: Students adopt an author for the school year and do an in depth study that includes their lives, works, and critics. The finale is a 20-minute presentation in the personna of the author.

Mystery Picture: Students follow others' directions for drawing a picture and work together to identify clear and muddy descriptions.

Make Me A Copy Please: Pairs of students work together with one student describing a projected image as the other tries, without seeing it, to reproduce it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, CA, offers an animal database that focuses on the animals at the aquarium. The site incdlues several short videos. Animal Database We just added this site to VCOL.

When we searched VCOL for "animals" several good sites appeared including Lincoln Park Zoo's interactive tour.

And while we were at it, we went ahead and added The National Zoo to VCOL as well. With videos, pictures, and activities, the website is almost as good as a visit, especially in the winter.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

This wouldn't be a real blog if we didn't link to some other blogs. I'll start with Charlie Morse's blog--Mr. Morse's Technology Links--which is definitely the newest. Charlie is the computer lab teacher extraordinaire at DJ Montague Elementary School and his blog will focus on websites appropriate for K-5 teachers. Be sure to poke around the DJ Montague website as they have links to lots of fun web resources and many of the teachers have their own websites.

Will Richardson was on the bleeding edge of using blogs with his students and it was his story that got me started. Start by exploring Richardson's own blog called Weblogg-ed and then start clicking on his blog roll (that list of other blogs on the left hand side). Be prepared to lose track of time... If you need an introduction to blogs in education, be sure to read Richardson's article in MultiMedia & Internet@Schools that reviews both blogs and RSS, the technology that allows blogs to be sent as news feeds to your computer. Rather than click through sites to see if something has been posted, users allow software to check each blog for updates. Blog readers can browse favorite blogs from one interface.

As we find interesting educational blogs, we'll add them to the VCOL database and let you know--where else?--on the VCOL blog! Happy surfing!

Monday, January 12, 2004

Not sure what to do with that Global Positioning System you got for Christmas? Try "geocaching," a new form of high-tech treasure hunting. Just type in your zip code to discover all the hidden caches (some real and some virtual), then fire up your GPS and start looking. Our first geocache was located off the nature trail in Corolla, NC. On the educational front, geocaching provides an introduction to latitude and longitude. Geocaching - The Official Global GPS Cache Hunt Site

Friday, January 09, 2004

I'm working on transfering more sites from Teaching the Virginia SOL into VCOL and have a few to share that I found under 5th and 6th grade Language Arts.

Teachers Helping Teachers provides lesson plans from other teachers in lots of different areas. Here's the link to the Language Arts site that was included for 5th grade.

The History Channel offers a collection of recordings of great modern speeches from Babe Ruth to Queen Elizabeth. You'll need Real Audio to be able to listen to a wide range of speeches including politicians and entertainers.

Here's one that was already in the database:

Cyberguides to Literature
CyberGuides are supplementary, standards-based, web-delivered units of instruction centered on core works of literature. Each CyberGuide contains a student and teacher edition, standards, a task and a process by which it may be completed, teacher-selected and a rubric.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

So I had a revelation: I've been feeling a little cynical about education and the possibility of technology really making a difference. I even wondered if the pundits were right that maybe technology was just an expensive add on that had little influence on student learning. Then I visited NASA's Mars website and was looking at pictures from Mars. It provided "live learning" opportunities for every content area teacher: certainly science but also history since the history of the space program is very important, and English teachers could have students debate whether or not we should even be going to Mars when people in the US are starving.

Did you know that there are just 350 days until Christmas 2004? Holiday World website includes information, links, and activities for a variety of holidays: It's just been added to the VCOL database. Other holiday related sites already found in the database include Holidays on the Net and Ideas for the 100th Day of School from Jerrie Cheek. (Jerrie has information for other holidays, too.)

The Library of Congress provides lesson plans that use primary sources. Lesson Four in the unit entitled In Congress Assembled: Continuity and Change in Governing the United States Using broadsides from the Continental Congress calling for special days of thanksgiving and remembrance, the lesson provides a historical context for elementary school lessons that focus on celebrating national holidays.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

I heard snow in the forecast for this week. Just a dusting but it's enough to make me long for a snow day! At Scholastics's Weather Watch website, you can create your own blanket of snow by manipulating the temperature and the relative humidity using the Interactive Weather Maker.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

In an example of shameless self promotion, I'm including a website I've created that focuses on technology planning and includes an interactive version of the Virginia Technology Plan. I created several videos that demonstrate various levels of technology integration as well. Hope you find it helpful for professional development and planning committees.

Monday, January 05, 2004

Here at Virginia's Community of Learning, we are very excited about the Mars Rover and have been eagerly checking the NASA website for updates and pictures. If you haven't been there, it's worth a visit: Be sure to visit the section of the site for educators where you can request a free poster. A quick search of the database for "nasa" provided a nice list of astronomy related websites including the Astronomy Picture of the Day and For Kids Only, devoted to helping kids understand earth science.