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October 2006

Posts from September 2006

Friday 5: Flashcards

Friday 5: Flashcards

Hi All –

Just a quick practical list today as I am busy completing a bunch of projects. This was inspired by a colleague who needed recommendations for online flashcards.

This is the last Friday 5 to be published in various listservs and locations. In an effort to streamline the publishing process, I will only post to my blog and Google Groups. Below are instructions for joining the new and improved Friday 5 group:

1) If you currently subscribe via Yahoo! Groups or Topica, you will received an email invitation last week to join the new Friday 5 Google Group. You do NOT need an Gmail account to join.

2) If you read the Friday 5 via the Collaboratory Project, the WIT list, or the NLU TIE list, send me an email at and I can automatically add you or issue an invitation for you to join yourself.

3) If you use a newsreader, such as Bloglines or Google Reader, you can subscribe to the Friday 5 RSS feed at as well. Incidentally, there is a new beta version of Google Reader (, and judging from a cursory look, it seems much improved.


Lucy Gray

Read on for the list....

Continue reading "Friday 5: Flashcards" »

Friday 5: Going Google

Friday 5: Going Google

Hi All –

Radical change is coming to the Friday 5! My life is busy, and if I am going to continue to publish Friday 5 lists, I need to simplify the process. So…  I am in the process of googlizing (for lack of a better word) my work flow and thus have decided to move the Friday 5 to Google Groups. In the name of efficiency, I will no longer continue to post in Topica, Yahoo! Groups, or the Collaboratory Project. I also will no longer send the Friday 5 to the NLU TIE and WIT listservs. Don’t take it personally….change is good.

So here’s the scoop:

1)    If you currently subscribe via Yahoo! Groups or Topica, you will receive an email invitation to join the new Friday 5 Google Group. I do believe that you have to have a Google account to join. Don’t worry… the process seems painless.
2)    If you read the Friday 5 via the Collaboratory Project, the WIT list, or the NLU TIE list, send me an email at and I will send  you an invitation or you can join yourself by visiting
3)    If you use a newsreader, such as Bloglines or Google Reader, you can subscribe to the Friday 5 RSS feed at as well.
4)    I will post to the aforementioned places through September 29, 2006.

On to this week’s list…

Continue reading "Friday 5: Going Google" »

Fun with Photobooth

Link: Apple - iMac - iSight.

Photobooth is an app that comes with newer Macs and is used in conjunction with their built-in iSight cameras. If you click on the above link, you'll see a picture of the kind of computer now in my lab, and the iSight lens is the black square at the top of the screen.

Just about every student that's walked in my lab during the past few weeks has played with Photobooth, and it has drawn raves. I'm starting to think of ideas of how to incorporate this fun, but sort of frivilous, tool into classroom activities. One idea I have is to have each kid in a grade level take their photo using PB and we'll incorporate this pic into our end of their year iMovies. This allows kids to control their own picture and add effects instead of being at the mercy of another kid taking their picture with a digital camera.

During class yesterday, students took a series of photos in Photobooth for their parents and left these in the program's storage area so that their parents could see them during last night's Open House. Then... I had parents find their kids' photos, gave them a few instructions and had them take their own photos for their children. My students will discover these pictures either Friday or Monday, depending on their schedule. This is sort of a remix of a lower school Open House activity where parents leave notes for their children in their desks so that they have something to read the following morning. Instead, we used digital pictures!

I'm also toying with some sort of activity where kids would take a picture using iSight and Photobooth, and then move to the next computer, and take another photo and then keep moving on. It might be a nice way for a group of kids to gather photos of each other for some sort of project, like an advisory group iMovie.

tags technorati :

.Mac's slow death - The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW)

Link: .Mac's slow death - The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW).

I adore my .Mac account, and I do not forsee this service becoming obsolete, particularly because of its web publishing capabilities. Nevertheless, I am playing around with some of Google's products, and this blog posting has a nice comparison of the tools found at Google and those provided with a .Mac account. I am particularly interested in importing my Address Book contacts into Gmail and there's a reference here to a freeware program that will help do that.

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Friday 5: What Are You Reading?

Friday 5: What Are You Reading?

Greetings –

What’s on your bedside table? I have a stack of books and magazines about five feet high just waiting to be read. In fact, I think I have a supply that will last me well into the next decade; I just can’t stay away from bookstores.

My current read is Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind which has been widely touted in my circles as the perfect complement to Thomas Friedman’s A World is Flat. I am about half way through this enjoyable and surprisingly practical book, and it’s full of references to interesting people, books, magazines, and web sites. This week’s Friday 5 is a short list of some of my favorite finds either from A Whole New Mind or related to A Whole New Mind.

Enjoy and consider reading this book! Send me any names of books that you think are essential for educators and I'll publish the list in a future Friday 5!

Lucy Gray

1) Dan Pink | A Whole New Mind… and More

This is the author’s web site and blog.

2) Steve Richards – Adventures in Home Working :: A Whole New Mind

I can’t remember where I found this blog posting, but it contains a concept map outlining the major points of A Whole New Mind.

3) StoryCorps

Six senses related to right brain thinking are discussed in A Whole New Mind. They are: design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning. Pink’s premise that 21st century citizens must be skilled in these areas in order to adapt to our changing economy and world. StoryCorps is mentioned in his story chapter, and it is an organization that provides the means of recording interviews with everyday people.

4) Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum

Dan Pink discusses the influence of design in his book, and recommends visiting this museum. In a recent issue of Edutopia, I discovered an ad for Cooper-Hewitt’s new educator resource section that will launch the week of October 15.

5) Halfbakery

Here’s another resource cited in the symphony chapter of A Whole New Mind. It’s an online database for people to flesh out ideas for inventions.


Pink writes that this company is successful in the design business because they focus on empathy, the ability to understand human nature. This company produces something called IDEO Method Cards that showcase their design process. Check out the bottom of this web page for method card samples, and for a slew of articles on this company.

7) Laughter Yoga

This web site is featured in Pink’s chapter on play. Looks like fun!

8) Authentic Happiness

Pink recommends the book of the same title written by Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman. Find out more about Positive Psychology here and the site includes several self-assessments. This resource comes from the final chapter of A Whole New Mind, which addresses meaning.

You can find the Friday 5 in a number of locations:
1) Join via Topica:
2) Join the Yahoo! Group:
3) Read it on my blog:
4) Both my blog and Yahoo! Groups have RSS feeds and you can subscribe to these feeds using a newsreader such as Google Reader (
5) Send me an email if you would like to join our Global Education discussion group at .Mac. My email address is

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Call for Proposals

Hi All -

I serve on Illinois Computing Educators' conference committee which organizes the Illinois Technology Conference for Educators. This event will be held February 27 - March 2, 2007 and it is promising to be our best one yet. We are currently seeking proposals for general sessions. If you are interested, please visit this site for more information: The deadline is October 1.

Please pass this on to any interested parties!

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NetDay Speak Up 2006

Link: NetDay Speak Up 2006.

NetDay Speak Up Day 2006 registration is now open! Our school has participated in this annual event for a few years. Kids and teachers have answered surveys about how they are currently using technology. Schools have access to their aggregated data, and the complete data set is used to demonstrate the importance of educational techology to various decision makers. It's a great way to learn more about students and how they use technology. This year, parents are also invited to take the survey. The survey will be open from November 1 through November 30, 2006.

tags technorati :

Wikispaces for teachers

Link: Wikispaces for teachers.

I'm new to the world of wikis (other than Wikipedia), but I'm liking what I am seeing. A wiki is essentially an online document in which group members can edit content. David Warlick set up one for a panel preso I participated in at NECC, and attendees were invited to take notes within the wikis. The five presenters collaborated on our presentation using this wiki even though we were located all over the country.

More recently, fellow ADEs recommended Wikispaces to me. I used this during a few staff development with a local charter high school and now I'm recommending it my own colleagues. I didn't realize, until I stumbled upon the blog for Wikispaces today, that the creators are giving away 100,000 adfree wikis to
educators. See the graphic below and spread the word!

tags technorati :

TeachersFirst: Gated Blogs for the Classroom

Link: TeachersFirst: Gated Blogs for the Classroom.

TeachersFirst publishes a helpful weekly enewsletter and I noticed a new feature today on classroom uses of blogging. This article is essentially a basic tutorial on how to get started with blogs in schools. Design wise, I like that as you proceed through the various pages, you can opt out at any time to start a blog if you think you get the basic concepts. Lots of examples are provided and you can nominate classroom blogs for their TeachersFirst Class Blog award.

I also noticed today that an RSS feed is available on their home page. And, the editor of TeachersFirst has a blog as well. I can now keep track of new additions to this site through my newsreader.

Friday 5: Europe

September 8, 2006

Hello –

Following my trip to the National Educational Computing Conference this summer, I had the amazing opportunity to also travel to Europe as part of a delegation of Apple Distinguished Educators charged with developing a global awareness curriculum. This curriculum will become publically available at no cost in the Apple Learning Interchange ( sometime in early October.

As an unofficial part of this project, I’ve started an online group to discuss and share anything related to global education. People interested in joining this conversation can email me at and I will send you an invitation with instructions on how to join.
This week’s list is comprised of web sites related to the aforementioned Apple global awareness project and to some of the cities I visited. ADEs toured Berlin and Prague led by EF Education ( ) and afterwards, I headed to Florence and Paris with two other ADEs. I don’t know why I waited so long to travel extensively in Europe. All I can say is that if you haven’t gone abroad yet in your life, do everything in your power to make it happen. The rewards will be numerous.

Take care,

Lucy Gray

Continue reading "Friday 5: Europe" »


Link: CATALYST CHICAGO :: Cover Stories.

As a former Chicago Public School teacher, I still have an interest in school reform and best practices related to urban education. The Catalyst is a great source of information here in Chicago, and I hate to criticize it, but this series of articles on technology could have been better on analysis and investigation. Of course, I think the two pieces related to the U of C charter schools are decent as another ADE is involved with that project, but hey, I admit I am biased.

In one article entitled, "Winning the Race - at First Glance", Harper High School is profiled. Recently, this school was offered up to Oprah show viewers as an example of the many schools dealing with inequities as the result of school funding issues. The author of this article says that Harper appears to be winning the technology race superficially. Since when has there been a race to accumulate machines in schools? Do the actual number of computers in a school correlated to an improvement in student performance? And, the number of computers per pupil is cited in this article in relation to national statistics (which came from a study conducted in 2003. See David Warlick's post on this.) In my opinion, a plethora of technology is not going to make one iota of difference in a school unless they are used in an engaging manner and teachers have some experience integrating technology into their subject matter.

Chicago high schools are also lauded for having ethernet connections and A (read one) full time tech coordinator in 62% of CPS high schools. Assuming that your average high school has over a thousand students, one tech coordinator in a school is not going to be particularly effective. I'm guessing that many of these tech coordinators solely are responsible for staff development, network administration, and instructional support. Frankly, I am not impressed with the numbers cited in this article, given the realities that are also outlined... lack of maintenance, lack of access, and lack of staff development. However, you would be led into thinking that CPS was on the cutting edge of urban school educational technology if you read the second article....

A second article was, "Equity the Goal for Technology" and one fact cited item is that a CPS school is sitting on Accelerated Reader software because the school doesn't have time to deploy and train the teachers. My former school used AR, and I don't recall that it was so complicated that it warranted a great deal of professional development time. And, why are schools bothering to purchase expensive software that they don't have the time or inclination to really use? Why isn't professional development time adding into their technology budget?

As far as the reporting goes in the aforementioned article, there is only a brief mention of the Chicago Board of Educaton's Tech|XL computer leasing program which offers internet connections and tech support at a cost to individual schools. Last I heard, these services don't come cheaply, and I would have liked to have seen some explanation of this program. And... since they were talking technology in this article, why wasn't the expensive student information system the board is currently implementing discussed? I don't know much about this, but I do know that there's been some controversy involved. Maybe if there was more information available on these two programs, people, such as myself, would not rush to judgment. I also had a problem with two comments from one national ed tech leader, one that CPS had vision regarding a lot of the tech related issues plaguing urban districts, and that Chicago was a leader in online training. That very well may be the case, and I am in no position to dispute that, but let's not airbrush reality here. No matter how much training in isolation or number of computers in isolation are presented to these schools, these bandaids are not going to bridge the digital divide. All schools, urban or otherwise, must have equipment, student and teacher access, technical support, and pedagogical support working together in unison. Finally, this graphic from the Catalyst based on their survey of a couple hundred schools interested and slightly alarmed me. There is so much more to educational techology than the software mentioned here. Effective educational technology is not about PowerPoint slideshows or graphing data in Excel; it's about process and communication that happens when students are deeply engaged in meaningful work. When are educators going to get this? It's not about the software!

Back to School Guide on Squidoo

Link: Back to School Guide on Squidoo.

Squidoo is a very cool site where one can build their customized "lens" on a particular topic. Check out this back to school example designed by an author of parenting books. I have the "Lens of the Day" sent to me via email and this was the selection for yesterday. It's probably the best one suited to my needs and interests that I have received yet as it's fully developed with helpful links and tips regarding the back to school season. I also love the interactive, Web 2.0 features on Squidoo including a rating system, RSS feeds, meta tags, and a comments section.

Friday 5: How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Friday 5: NECC 2066

Hi All –

School started this week for teachers in my building, so I am back in the saddle again publishing Friday 5 lists. For those of you new to this listserv, I try to publish a weekly thematic list of web sites useful to educators. Suggestions are always welcome, and I particularly am in need of theme ideas for this year!

This week’s collection of links are mostly from NECC. Next week, I will supply sites related to the second half of my summer. Enjoy and send any feedback to!


Lucy Gray

1) Global SchoolNet Collaborative Learning

I took a workshop at NECC led by the founders of this web site. It’s a great resource for finding other teachers interested in working on collaborative projects. The founders, Yvonne Marie Andres and Al Rogers, were assisted during this workshop by a woman from Israel named Karen Eini, who also runs an interesting project called Friends and Flags (

2) DropShots

This video hosting site seems similar to You Tube ( The purpose is to upload small video clips for friends and family to view. This link was cited in the aforementioned workshop.

3) Main Learning Technology Initiative

Maine took a big risk and issued laptops to all of its middle school students a few years ago. I’m very interested in 1 to 1 deployments in general and this link was one of several cited during a NECC presentation by Pamela Livingston of the Peck School in New Jersey. She has just written a book on the subject which as been published by the International Society for Technology in Education.

At any rate, I am not sure how current this site is, but it seems worth exploring. Another related site to check out might be Maine professor Mike Muir’s web site:

4) Software MacKiev – Kid Pix Deluxe 3

MacKiev has retooled several popular software titles for Apple Computers. Kid Pix Deluxe 3, for instance, integrates with the iLife suite of software. The newest version announced at NECC supports podcasting! You can make a Quicktime movie in Kid Pix, podcast it, and load it on your video iPod!

5) InspireData

Inspiration has announced a new product to add to their collection of concept mapping software. InspireData is designed for students to use when collecting, organizing and analyzing data. I have not tried it yet, but I am looking forward to downloading a trial copy to see what it is all about.

6) Cosmic Blobs

I stopped by this booth at NECC for a demo, and this 3D software designed for kids looks like fun. Think Kid Pix on steroids! It's for Mac AND PCs.

Friday 5 Subscription Info:

You can read the Friday 5 in a number of places:

1) Join the Yahoo! Group:

2) Join via Topica:

3) Read it here: