Monthly Archives: July 2008

Work on vocab. & donate rice


Free Rice Is a website designed to improve your vocabulary by giving you a word and offering 4 possible definitions. If you get the word right, you get a harder word, and if you get the word wrong, you get an easier word.

In addition, for every word you get right, the site donates 20 grains of rice through the United Nations World Food Program, so you’re building vocabulary AND feeding the hungry. 20 grains of rice is not much (try and count out 20 grains at home), BUT within 5 minutes I earned 1,320 grains of rice, so for a mere 5 minutes a day, you can learn vocabulary AND feed a small village. 😉

The website gets money for the donations through its sponsors on the site and they are also a part of the organization. It’s a win-win situation.

Why vocabulary? Students with diverse vocabularies are better readers, better test takers, and they are better speakers because their words are more precise. Try it today!


Putting art on the webosphere

At several edtech conferences I’ve been to , both virtual and live, the keynote speakers keep talking about this idea that we need to teach our students how to use the web2.0 tools for good, rather than evil (ok, not evil, but if you’re a parent of a myspacer, it can start to look like evil).

One way to do this is to teach kids how to create their network community in a positive way. This blog site, TheBlog Weemade was started in February and it is a place to celebrate the artwork of kids in all their creativity and rule breaking and wonder. Parents post pics of toddler work, and teens can even post their own. So how does that create community? People can comment on the site which gives the kids real feedback from people other than the ones they already know. It is confirming and it makes them want to do more, be more, draw more, etc. I don’t think MySpace does that.

In fact, if you want to play with this, go dig up one of your preschool masterpieces. It’s probably in a box somewhere at your parents house or in the garage or something. Rekindle your relationship with that younger, uninhibited artist in you! 🙂

The New Face of Professional Development

Online conferences are the next wave in professional development and I must admit, there are of course glitches, but there’s also lots of potential.

My first conference was actually a NING invitation from one of our IT guys in Honolulu. The invite was to the NECC (it’s a tech conference) in San Antonio. I didn’t go to the conference, but you can be a virtual participant and get all the handouts, see the wikispaces with the powerpoints or videos, and even participate through webstream or ustream tv. It’s basically a way to see the presentation real time from your computer and chat with other people watching the presentation. NING is like a social website centered around a specific event or class, etc. It allows you to network, find people that are interested in the same aspect of the conference that you’re interested in and exchange thoughts, tips, etc. It allows people to start discussions, blog, upload video, and basically ask questions to the whole conference. The thing with this one is that lots of people were there, and lots weren’t, but it was an actual conference.

This second conference is called the Knowledge Bank Conference 08 and it’s out of Melbourne, Australia, but there’s no conference per se. Everything is in the virtual world. There’s no convention center with breakout sessions and a gallery of exhibitors, this is all online and it’s live web sessions with your computer and a microphone set up. The speaker speaks, we all check in, they ask questions, we respond, we chat, we can ask questions through the chat of the speaker and at the end when they ask for discussion and questions, a moderator can turn on your mic and you speak. I did some of these types of classes through NCTE (teachers of English) last school year and it helps to have a microphone from Kerry and ear buds, plus the one hour alloted time. Things move fast and you have to be multiliterate.  Here’s an example of the topics:

Day 1:
9am – Session 1 – Introducing Web 2.0.  Join here.
10.30am – Session 2 – Keynote – Steve Hargadon. Join here.
12pm – Session 3 – Panel discussion on Keynote. Join here.

Day 2:
10am – Session 1 – Knowledge Bank: Next Gen. Join here.
12pm – Session 2 – Keynote 2 – Chris Bigum. Join here.
2pm – Session 3 – 5 ways to get started. Join here.

My biggest problem is I always flunk on the time conversion because I’m geographically ILLITERATE, so converting these live sessions from Melbourne to Hawaii time is like mind boggling for me. I finally had to change the time on my computer so that I could be ready for the session. I think they’re like 20 hours ahead, but if the first session starts at 9 am on Tuesday, what time is minus 20 hours? You see my problem? It’s a math thing. Would it be 1 pm on Monday? Plus you have to check in 15 minutes ahead of time so they can make sure everyone’s equipment is working. so 12:45 pm on Monday? It’s really bad. When I was thinking about it before, I thought it was 5 am on Monday, but I think that’s way off.

Good fast read from the library

Love on 145th Street What They Found: Love on 145th Street by Walter Dean Myers

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
Walter Dean Myers is expert at the inner city youth voice and in this book of short stories, a return to the neighborhood of one of his earlier books: 145th Street, short stories, he brings the reader into these lives of these young and old neighbors. It’s like the neighborhood in House on Mango Street and you cheer for the triumphs and feel for the failures.

View all my reviews.