XO as eReader

I’ve been exploring my XO computer as an eReader, although I didn’t quite know how to begin. Then, I found this very cool (free) eBook site called WOWIO that has a growing list of free titles for registered users (the collection does not seem to include many new novels, etc, and the selection is kind of iffy at this point).

But I have been checking out a few graphic novels from the site on my XO. I like the eReader mechanism on the XO. The lighting is nice, the resolution is pretty good, and the ability to swivel the screen to multiple positions is pretty nifty. Plus, the entire laptop is very light and easy to hold and balance on your lap or stomach (if you are reading while in the sleepy prone position).

My sons were getting a kick out of reading some comic strips (Peanuts, Garfield, etc) that I downloaded as a comic book collection from the WOWIO site. I have also added a Beowulf graphic novel, and a book about myths from around the world, and a few other odds and ends into my Queue bin (you can only download three books a day).

Right now, I am reading a Stargate graphic novel (I have a sci-fi interest).

I recently installed a little 4 gig memory chip into the XO so that I could store a bunch of books and other data without sucking up the memory on the hard drive. I continue to explore this little machine but feel stymied by my inability to get deeper into the Linux programming through the Terminal application. I need to peruse the user forums a bit more and figure what they are all talking about (ie, geek speak translation for dummies is what I really need)

Peace (in the world of eBooks),

LiteBrite: A completely fun waste of time

My youngest son was coughing in the night, so I am up early (even for me) and I find this link to a memory from my own childhood: Lite-Brite. Remember that one? All those little translucent pegs going into little slots with a back light and you make shapes and strange designs? (Or do you remember losing the little pegs or fumbing with your fat fingers to get them into the slots? That was me, too).

So of course, there is now an online version of Lite-Brite, and it is easy to use and fun way to kill some time in the morning when you should be sleeping.

As a kid, I created saxophones everywhere I went, so this is my morning Lite-Brite design:

And of course:

Give it a whirl!

Peace (in colored pegs),

CommonCraft Does it Again

Another great video has come out from CommonCraft. This time, the focus is on online photo sharing sites (such as Flickr).

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/vPU4awtuTsk" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Peace (in clear and simple explanations),

The Story of Stuff

A few weeks ago, I came across this project called The Story of Stuff. I was intrigued. It was this minimalistic video that talks about how the consumer-driven world is impacting our planet, and moves from one aspect of creating “stuff” all the way to disposing “stuff” in landfills and incinerators. There are some political parts, of course, including a few swipes at President Bush (for urging us all to go shopping in the aftermath of 9/11) and Wal-Mart (for artificially keeping prices low by paying low wages and buying goods from developing countries)

I wanted to show it to my students and bought the DVD (10 bucks).

Yesterday, after an introduction and conversation about this disposable world that we live in, my students watched the movie and they were fascinated and a bit shocked by the message in the movie. It really sparked some interesting discussions and I made sure to end it all on a positive note: they are going to be leaders in our world and they have the opportunity to make a difference and this issue of sustainability is going to loom large in their lives as young adults.

Here is the last part of The Story of Stuffmovie as a Youtube version:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/Zam9DZ43Cl0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]From a moviemaking perspective, I found the minimalistic approach fascinating and the kids were riveted by the combination of illustration and this woman just talking to us about these very deep concepts. It reminded a few of the students of the more recent UPS commercials (see? everything is commercial-driven) with the interactive whiteboard and I was reminded of the CommonCraft videos on blogging, wikis, etc.

At the Story of Stuff weblog, there is also a post about how educators can use the video and some other related links for kids.

Peace (in a world with less stuff but more compassion),

Day in a Sentence: January 9

How is your week going?

Please consider sharing your words with our Day in a Sentence community (now up to almost 50 on-and-off-again contributors) by boiling down your week or a day of your week into one concise, exciting, moving sentence. Use the comment feature on this post to leave your sentence and then, on Sunday, I will compile and release them all into the e-World.

Day in Sentence Icon

Here is my sentence:

My sixth graders were blogging full bore this week, sharing strange little stories that were inspired by Chris Van Allsburg’s intriguing collection called The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, and I think the public act of publishing their stories to the Internet put a little extra fire in their bellies as they wrote.

I look forward to your words!

Peace (in community),

My Own Ning Networks

I was bookmarking another Ning site the other day when I realized the exponential growth of my own Ning sites. The image “http://polymer.bu.edu/~amaral/Sex_partners/images_klovdahl_small.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Here is where I go :

That’s a lot of Ning-ing, even for me, but it is an interesting journey and the sense of community that I gain from each of these is very strong. There are deep discussions and sharing of ideas and, best of all, a very supportive and inviting environment.

Peace (in networks),


The Merits of Blogging: A Research Study

Dr. Jeff Felix has posted a dissertation research study (the summary is here and the full report is here) that he did around the topic of blogging in the classroom, and it is a very thorough and deep look at the ways in which blogging can enhance the educational learning for students, and forge new connections between teachers and their students.

At one point, in the summary of the report, Felix writes:

This newfound excitement about the writing process may have also stimulated the student’s enthusiasm for school. The interviewees expressed strongly how the blogs motivated the students to learn, revealing how they were using the motivational power of blogging to motivate students to complete assignments, write more, think deeper thoughts, or post comments. The teachers also gave examples of how blogs promote deeper thought in assignments and in their postings.

And in the conclusion:

On one level, blogs may appear to be little more than personal diaries posted on the Internet for everyone to see. Yet, when used as a communication and instructional tool, they seem to provide a round-table for teachers to share ideas with other educators across the globe or simply talk about themselves and others in a local setting. Blogs become communication bridges with not only the child in the classroom, but also the Millennials who are entering the workplace as teachers. But it is possible that blogging is also an indicator of the teaching profession in transition– and without attempting to use or consider a tool such as blogging– the profession could have difficulty relating to the Digital Age student or teacher.

Thanks to Dr. Felix for undergoing this research and then for sharing it with the rest of us.

Peace (in the classroom),

Social Networks in Education

Steve Hartegan, of Classroom 2,0, is at it again, compiling resources on how Ning and other social networks are being used in education. Here are some sample links from his new wiki site called Social Networks in Education:

  • Classroom 2.0 – Web 2.0 in the Classroom
  • College 2.0 – Higher Education, Online Education and Web 2.0
  • Coming of Age – The Book on Web 2.0 in the Classroom
  • EduBloggerWorld – International Edubloggers
  • ILTCE – Illinois Technology Conference for Educators – Learning Without Boundaries 2008
  • International Classroom – Social network created for classes around the world. Space where pupils can share, talk about themselves ,show pictures and videos etc,and get to know each other’s culture.
  • International Collaboration – High school and university students worldwide collaborate and learn about each others’ cultures and life styles
  • The Global Education Collaborative – Promoting Global Awareness
  • Learning 2.0 – Creating Collaborative Learning
  • LITE – Leading Innovative Technology use in Education – Glenview School District 34
  • Next Generation Teachers – Improving Teaching and Learning with New Technologies
  • ProjectsByJen – PreK – 6th Grade Teacher Collaboration
  • Online Projects 4 Teachers – Linking Teachers Together
  • School 2.0 – The Changing of Education
  • We Are Teachers IMAGINE Network– Online Knowledge Marketplace
  • WEBTAS (Web Teaching and Academic Support Learning Community)
  • Laptop Learning Community – Preparing Students with 21st Century Skills
  • WorkForce Educators – Distance Learning and Teaching
  • teachustech.ning.com – A network of teachers using technology
  • Nanopaprika.eu – Network of NanoScience
  • Fireside Learning (ning) – “Conversations about learning. Sit by the fireside and share your thoughts.”
  • RBG Worldwide 1 Nation (ning) Afrikan Centered Cultural Development and Education
  • PSUCast PowerSchool users network.
  • SIGTE 2008 Book Discussion; Steering committee currently discussing book choices. Using NING as communication tool.
  • World Englishes Project– Blended Learning Course about World Englishes in collaboration with Waseda University, Japan.
  • Alabama Educator’s Network– For teachers living in Alabama (Please join if you live in AL.)
  • MACUL Space – Michigan Association of Computer Users in Learning. Educators Pre-K to 20.
  • Smallsteps – a class based network set up to support 14yr old design students with a design and make project centred around the topic of waste reduction.
  • Schoolwork Together – Space for teens from Israel and Dutch school to meet and discuss ideas for a common project
  • Gifted Education Ning space for parents and teachers started by Ginger Lewman to discuss gifted issues
  • Fielfindr A portal to connect classrooms to the world: Global citizens can share talents and skills with students.
  • AsiaTeach.ning.com – Teaching and Education in Asia: Communities of Hope – Asian Educators discover and discuss common and unique challenges and experiences in Asian teaching contexts.
  • Comenius Programme Network A network for teachers accross Europe to seek support, share ideas and experiences to help ensure successful Projects

Steve invites people to add their own links to the wiki, so if you are using social networks for education, go ahead and add the resource (I know I have at least one I have to put on the list under Professional Development)

Peace (in networks),

Bud Reflects on XO Collaborative Possibilities

My friend, Bud the Teacher, created a nice podcast reflection on using the XO for collaboration. He used a site that has been set up by Tom Hoffman for XO folks to connect and use the sharing activities with others.

Here is Bud’s podcast

He gives some honest assessment of the possibilities and the limitations, and of course, he is very insightful in his approach (as always). And Bud’s post makes me want to use the Jabber site he mentions to try to connect in with some other XO folks.

Peace (in possibilities),


A Teaching Checklist

(This is probably like some chain letter, as I borrowed it from my friend, Maria. I’m not much a Jeff Foxworthy fan, but this list had me smiling.)

by Jeff Foxworthy

1. You can hear 25 voices behind you and know exactly which one belongs to the child out of line
2. You get a secret thrill out of laminating something.
3. You walk into a store and hear the words ‘It’s Ms/Mr. _________’and know you have been spotted.
4. You have 25 people that accidentally call you Mom/Dad at one time or another.
5. You can eat a multi-course meal in under twenty-five minutes.
6. You’ve trained yourself to go to the bathroom at two distinct times of the day: lunch and prep period
7. You start saving other people’s trash, because most likely, you can use that toilet paper tube or plastic butter tub for something in the classroom.
8. You believe the teachers’ lounge should be equipped with a margarita machine.
9. You want to slap the next person who says ‘Must be nice to work 7 to 3 and have summers off.
10. You believe chocolate is a food group.
11. You can tell if it’s a full moon without ever looking outside.
12 You believe that unspeakable evils will befall you if anyone says ‘Boy, the kids sure are mellow today.
13. You feel the urge to talk to strange children and correct their behavior when you are out in public.
14. You believe in aerial spraying of Ritalin.
15. You think caffeine should be available in intravenous form.
16. You spend more money on school stuff than you do on your own children.
17. You can’t pass the school supply aisle without getting at least five items!
18. You ask your friends if the left hand turn he just made was a good choice or a bad choice.
19. You find true beauty in a can full of perfectly sharpened pencils.
20. You are secretly addicted to hand sanitizer and finally,
21. You understand instantaneously why a child behaves a certain way after meeting his or her parents.