Posts categorized "Silly and/or Useless" Feed

Me Vs. @lthumann Infographic

Exploring infographics and came across this blog post on infographic storytelling and non-profits via Beth Kanter. Decided to try out one of the tools mentioned. I did one of just myself and another of me vs. Lisa Thumann, as she and I will be spending a great deal of time together in the next two weeks. We're leading workshops for educators at various Google offices around the country!  Clearly, Lisa is more social and more interesting than me! :)

Enough goofing around... back to work!



Ishot84 I had the most bizarre experience on-line yesterday. While working away at my desk, I had iChat open as usual and I received an instant message (IM).  The message was from a user name (heatedcoho) unknown to me and it read "Happy Rudy Giuliani Day to one and all!". It got my attention as, while I am no fan of Rudy Giuliani, I thought it was rather crass to send something out like that on 9/11. I responded by asking who this person was, thinking it was possibly a former student.  I received a reply and you can see part of the ensuing conversation.

It dawned on me part way through my interaction with said IMer that this was not actually a person behind this message, but a bot. I received one from a different user name a few weeks ago and it had perplexed me until someone in my Twitter network pointed out what it was. See this wikipedia entry for a full explanation. Essentially, this bot somehow hooks up to people using AIM instant messaging and masks it with a user name like heatedcoho. So, I wasn't communicating someone using that name; I was chatting with another AIM user.

I wasn't planning on chatting with this other user, but the guy on the other end started chatting away. It turns out his name is Will and he is a high-end web designer, responsible for some fairly well known Web 2.0 sites. I am not going to name him or list his work here as I don't know how comfortable he'd be with that, but we had a really interesting conversation mostly discussing our work and tech interests. I showed him some of my favorite, well-designed education sites and it turns out he's in charge of redesigning a kids' site for a company that my own children frequent and love. I freely offered up my children as potential beta testers! He's actually coming to Chicago in a few weeks for a developer's conference so maybe we'll even have lunch.

Anyway, it was a very strange way to make another networking contact, but I'm interesting in learning more from Will. And now you know what it is if you receive an unsolicited instant message!

Friday 5: Year in Review

Hi Readers -

My New Year's resolution is to try and get back in the habit of publishing Friday 5 lists on a consistent basis! Here are a few sites I've collected to ring in the New Year.

See you next year,

Lucy Gray


1) The Condition of Education 2007

2) Year in Review 2007 - Special Reports from CNN

3) AFI's Top 10 Movies of 2007

4) 100 Notable Books of the Year - 2007 - New York Times

5) Internet TV: 2007 Year in Review | last100

6) The 100 Best Songs of 2007: Rolling Stone

7) 50 Top 10 Lists of 2007 - TIME,30576,1686204,00.html

8) Google Zeitgeist 2007

Google publishes lists of the most popular search queries, which give you an indication about the public mind set during 2007. It's scarily fascinating! At the end of each section in this year's zeitgeist is a practical tip on how to refine your searches.

9) Lifehacker Zeitgeist 2007

Mashable and Lifehacker are two of the most practical web sites out there. I highly recommend skimming these sites on a regular basis.

10) Ask Lifehacker: How Can I Create a 2007 Timeline?

11) Lifehacker Top 10: Top 10 New and Improved Apps of 2007

12) Mashable's Best Technology Quotes of 2007

13) Top Web Apps & Sites of 2007 - ReadWriteWeb

Edublogger Tag - 8 Random Facts About Me

Another blogger meme has been circulating around the blogosphere, and I've been tagged simultaenously by Cheri Toledo and Rick Weinberg. So here I go:

Here are the Rules:

  1. Post these rules before you give your facts
  2. List 8 random facts about yourself
  3. At the end of your post, choose (tag) 8 people and list their names, linking to them
  4. Leave a comment on their blog, letting them know they’ve been tagged

My random facts:

  1. I was born with a big strawberry birthmark on my forehead. It's mostly gone, due to some cream my parents proccurred from our family dermatologist years ago. I have no idea of the name of this cream, only that it had radioactive properties (!?!?!?) apparently, and had to be flown in from England.
  2. I had an amazing mother who threw the most creative birthday parties for me, not to be pretentious, but because she had a great sense of fun. One party had a Candyland theme, another had us digging for pirate treasure at our local beach, another was a Nancy Drew scavenger hunt, and the last one was based on the Preppy Handbook. Everyone had to come dressed as preppy as possible, which wasn't hard to do given the town in which I grew up.
  3. I played a lot of tennis as a child and into college. I've made an effort in the last few years to keep it up, but I wish I had more time for this sport.
  4. I also took English riding lessons, and did gymkhana at camp. If I ever win the lottery, I'm buying a horse and a house with a barn and a view of the Tetons.
  5. I went to a private school kindergarten through ninth grade with basically the same 30 people in my class.
  6. My major in college was Art History and I also received certification in elementary education. Art History grabbed me because I am a visual learner; I realized the power of multimedia during art history lectures. I wonder if traditional slideshow lectures have been replaced with better media these days.
  7. I wanted to join the Peace Corp or VISTA after college, but I never summoned the courage. I wish I had been more of a risk taker when I was younger.
  8. I have a propensity to enjoy fairly lame  and dated music, T.V shows, and magazines. I am not particularly hip, especially with music. Use your imagination; I'm too embarrassed to admit what's on my iPod!

I am tagging:

  1. Lisa Harrison
  2. Tim Lauer
  3. Charlene Chausis
  4. Dan Schmidt
  5. Larry Anderson
  6. Midge Frazel
  7. Westley Field
  8. Cathleen Richardson

Friday 5: More Cool Tools

Friday 5: More Cool Tools

Hi Everyone -

In February, I had the opportunity to help with the second Google Teacher's Academy in New York. Along with two other GTA leaders, I participated in a "Cool Tools Duel" in which we presented a couple of our favorite edtech resources. Everyone present then voted via applause for the overall favorite. This activity inspired a long list of other cool tools within the Google Certified Teachers community, and I thought I'd share a few of my favorites this week. The third Google Teachers Academy just wrapped this week in Southern California, so welcome to any new Google Certified Teachers who may have joined the Friday 5!

Enjoy and think summer,

Lucy Gray

1) VoiceThread

This site was recommended recently by my ADE friend, Valerie Becker, and I'm looking forward to exploring it further. At VoiceThread, you upload photos (or directly import them from your Flickr account) and a slide show is created. You then can add audio and text narration, and have others comment on the photos in a similar manner. Check out this document for information on how you can set up VoiceThread to for classroom use.

2) Gliffy

Here's an online alternative for concept mapping. There are some nice Web 2.0-like features in Gliffy, such as the ability to blog about a drawing as well as to add collaborators to a file. Via Chris Walsh.


Create multimedia, interactive time lines for free at this web site. This is a nice resource for personal use because several sets of guiding questions regarding various life scenarios are presented. For instance, there is a set of travel questions that will lead you to reflect and document on a trip. Via Kevin Jarrett.

4) Math Thinking Blocks

This is an online visualization tool for helping students with math. In the module I sampled, I was given a story problem in which I had to figure out the total cost of two items. I was guided through three steps to solve this problem which included visual guides and feedback. I found this to be a really unusual as well as useful tool for helping students with math. You really need to try this one out!  Via Kevin Jarrett.

5) The Generator Blog

This was suggested in the GCT community by Alix Pleshette. This blog contains a growing list of web sites in which you can generate general silliness. For instance, you can add your own picture to an image of a cereal box, make a banner for a web page, or create your own customized Hollywood sign. You might want to screen any of the sites listed here first before using with students, though. Some of them do not look appropriate for kids.

To subscribe to the Friday 5 Google Group, visit this page.

Buddy the Movie

As I mentioned before, I think, Buddy the bear spent the weekend at our house. He's part of Henry's nursery school class and he takes turns visiting students' homes on weekends. Buddy is well traveled and even made it to the Superbowl recently. He must be a Bears fan, ha ha. We don't have those sort of connections, so instead of the Oscars, Buddy visited Science Expo at Lab with us. Here is a video that we made in about an hour on Friday night using the built-in iSight camera on my Mac.

I posted this originally to VideoEgg and then I supposedly was able to blog about it from that service, but I kept getting an error message. Instead of doing that which has worked previously for me, I embedded the html code in this blog posting.

Beyond the Horizon: Playing Tag with Others: Part Two

Link: Beyond the Horizon: Playing Tag with Others: Part Two.

Midge Frazel felt appropriately sorry for me after I whined about not being tagged in this edublogger 5 things meme and I now can officially play. :)

By the way, Midge's web site is fabulous and one of my first finds when I entered the ed tech world several years ago.

Here I go...

Five Things You Probably Don't Know About Me

1) I've mentioned my camping experiences in this blog before, but I don't think I mentioned the fact that I was runner up Rodeo Queen one summer. That's the closest I ever became to any sort of childhood royalty! Every Sunday, we had a rodeo in which we competed in various gymkhana activities. This is one of my earliest memories of feeling competitive. I also branded calves during my last summer at this ranch camp and honed my trail cooking skills. There's nothing like fried spam over a campfire. :)

2) I am related to the person responsible for catching the U-505 submarine currently housed in the Museum of Science and Industry. Daniel Gallery was a first cousin of my grandfather. Because of these family Navy connections, my grandfather pulled strings and joined the Navy  during World War II when he was technically too old to do so.

Strangely enough, my husband has a picture of HIS father with Daniel Gallery's priest brother, John Ireland, at some World War I vet event. This was taken long before Peter and I met, and I actually never met my father in law as he passed away when Peter was in college. 

3) My father was a high school music teacher, and for the first song at my wedding, Fly Me to the Moon, he played his saxophone with the fabulous band that we hired. He secretly practiced with the band beforehand and it was especially touching because I really never saw him play instruments outside of his classroom context.

4) The year I met my husband was something out of Four Weddings and A Funeral. I was a bridesmaid in the spring for my oldest grade school friend, and that same weekend, my beloved grandmother had a debilitating stroke. She hung on for several months but could not walk or talk again. She was well cared for at home.

In July, my oldest friend from college was married and she handed me her bouquet, not bothering to throwing it, and told me I was the next to get married. I thought she was completely bonkers because I wasn't even dating anyone.

In November that year, I was a bridesmaid at my cousin's wedding and I found out the night of the rehearsal dinner that my grandmother had died. I went through with the wedding celebrations, and actually met my husband at this wedding. A few weeks later, he came to my grandmother's memorial service, and I knew he was special. All my mother's friends wanted to meet the "boy".  He was the hit of the funeral! So, I feel that my grandmother somehow found someone to take her place in my life... when she left me in this world, Peter stepped in to be my mainstay. The rest is history!

5) My mother is manic depressive and generally more depressed than manic. This is something I don't dwell on much these days as I've learned that there is only so much in life that I can actually control. But, to make a long, sorry story short, my mother was diagnosed with this mental illness while I was in high school and it's been a downhill battlle for her ever since. She went from being this vivacious, creative, brilliant person to a shadow of herself. Everything has been tried on her, and I don't know what the right course of treatment should have been. I've tried to step in and help as I am her only child and she has no siblings, but she hasn't always wanted this. She's sort of happy just existing. Anyway, I hope to make sense of her story at some point, either by writing about it or making a homemade movie, but I think it's going to take years to process this complicated situation!

I'm done.... next, I am tagging my fellow Infinite Thinking Machine bloggers:

Lucie   Steve   Tom   Chris   Mark   Julie   Wes, tell us 5 things we don't know about YOU!

P.S - Is there a specific tag we're supposed to use with this?

Holiday Greetings

Apple Distinguished Educators are creating holiday podcast greetings, and I put something together very quickly this morning with my kids. You can witness for yourself how gifted and perfectly behaved they are. Ha, ha! Julia just turned eight and is in the second grade. Henry recently turned 4 and is in nursery school.

The lovely karaoke Santa pictured in this video has been the source of lots of family laughs. My husband LOVES Christmas, and he spotted this Santa at CVS a few years ago. I thought it was ridiculous to spend like $80 on this thing, but somehow via coupons and discounts, he was able to purchase it for about $40. You can plug it into your stereo, and Santa "sings" various Christmas songs or you can turn the music off and sing anything you like. It comes with a microphone, and best of all, Santa's mouth moves along to whatever you are saying or singing. It's totally hilarious!

A Couple of Fun Things for Kids

Before I lose my mind and forget about these things, I thought I'd post a couple of fun things to do with kids.

My students this week showed me Line Rider, an interactive Flash game in which a user draws a path and when a play button is clicked,  a little person on a sled slides down this path, sometimes with disastrous results. These scenes can even be downloaded and sent to a mobile phone.  It turns out people really are into creating elaborate scenes and pathways as evidenced in this related collection at Squidoo. (Squidoo, by the way, is interesting, too. I discovered it via Typepad, I think, and you can essentially build a web page called a lens. You can add various web resources such as video and links to provide support for your topic. RSS feeds to Squidoo pages are available so that you can track comments and such about a page.) At any rate, I am contemplating how Line Rider and similar games could be incorporated into educational settings. I know from a computer science stand point that it would be great to have kids program such a game, but from a simulation perspective, how can such games be used in the classroom?

After discovering the joys of Line Rider, another student directed me to Ski Battle at One of his classmates said that he thought had inappropriate stuff, but I haven't seen anything yet beyond the usual annoying banner ad. Ski Battle is very similar to Line Rider and you can add holiday music, snowflakes and animated characters. Ski Battle also gives you the code for your creations so you can embed a scence in your web site. Also, at, I noticed a Christmas e-card maker that may interest some kids.

Finally, as I was researching online video stuff for tomorrow's Friday 5, I browsed the Google Earth Blog and noticed this post about tracking Santa and a related game in Google Earth. The GE Santa tracker piece is not new, but apparently Sketch Up has been incorporated this. Sounds like fun and I am planning to try this with my kids. Too bad Santa won't let me open my Christmas present until the big day... a brand new iMac! Tracking Santa would look so much better on a big screen!

Continue reading "A Couple of Fun Things for Kids" »

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Metro & Tri-State :: S. America to suburbs: Monk parakeets spread

Link: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Metro & Tri-State :: S. America to suburbs: Monk parakeets spread  .

Lab This article appeared in today's Chicago Sun-Times, and it reminded me of a recent encounter with one of these parakeets which made me wish I had my digital camera at hand. A few weeks ago on a bright sunny day, I was walking towards my school through a grove of crab apple trees, which are virtually barren with the onset of winter. As I proceeded down the sidewalk, I noticed a green parakeet perched on a branch about eye level, and this bird was attempting to eat one of the last cherry-red apples. The parakeet did not seem startled by this approaching human and I stopped to watch, mesmerized by the vivid colors. It was truly a Kodak moment, but alas, no camera to be found. The image is still fresh in my mind, though, and I have always loved catching glimpses of this non-native birds. I think they are sort of symbolic of the quirky and unique Hyde Park community.

Tennis Star Andrea Jaeger's New Life as a Nun :

Link: Tennis Star Andrea Jaeger's New Life as a Nun :

This headline on my personalized Google home page just caught my attention. My parents were avid tennis players and fans, so I started playing probably around the age of 3. I was fairly good, but not gifted, and when I was 10 or so, my dad went looking at area clubs for a more competitive program. I ended up taking lessons (and working at for a summer in college) at the club where Andrea was a rising star and her dad was a pro, so I watched her and her sister from afar. I suppose every kid there wanted to be just like her. I have to say that I don't remember her being particularly nice (her older sister was gracious, though) and it's interesting to see how people change coming into adulthood. I also remember her dad being somewhat of a taskmaster and challenging me when I was matched against a kid he didn't think I could beat. I think he offered me a soda for every game I could win versus this girl with the strong implication that I was the weaker player, and I ended winning the match. Tennis beyond a certain level requires more pyschological stamina than physical prowess, and at that time of my life, I didn't have the mental armor to be as consistently tough as competitive play required. It's interesting now to think back about how people like Roland Jaeger dealt with kids and I still wonder about the proper way to motivate a kid and what's developmentally appropriate. Anyway, the bottom line here with my meandering thoughts is I can't believe Andrea turned out to be a NUN! Good for her for finding her calling!

Chef's Recipe Contest

Cook Link:
Chefs Recipe Contest

I am laughing hysterically right now because apparently my husband has entered his favorite recipe from second grade in some recipe contest. He actually won his second grade bakeoff or something with this lemon Jello cake recipe and he still makes it to this day. In fact, he was a guest cook in Julia's kindergarten class two years ago and they made this cake.

So if you are so inclined, please feel free to vote early and often for this recipe!

Apple of My Eye #4

It's been a few months since I've posted a referral list to posts that have caught my eye, so here are some headlines I've recently flagged in my newsreader.

1) My curiosity is piqued about how Web 2.0 technologies can be leveraged for students as many tools require registrants to be of a certain age. Two sites have appeared on the blogosphere horizon that might be worth checking out. One is Imbee, which I read about it this press release. The second is Studicious which I read about here. Via Net-Gold Yahoo! Group, there's something for librarians on the Web 2.0 front, too... an online course called Five Weeks to a Social Library.

2) Edtech guru Kathy Schrock gave a very nice closing session keynote at NECC this year, and I particularly liked the PSA projects that she highlighted. I plan on showing these videos to student in the next month or so when we start working on various iMovie projects.

3) I'm glad George Bush has gotten the hang of THE Google. Check out this    from Think Progress via Techmeme. The leader of the free world can't even remember the name of something extraordinary like Google Earth. Any middle schooler can tell you all about Google Earth! I must go look at Bush's ranch on Google Earth now and see if all the brush is cleared.

4) And finally from a blog called Photojojo, there is a reference to Zingfu, a site that offers silly templates for your digital pictures. It's not a completely kid friendly site in my book, though, but maybe I'm just getting old. It's defintely fun for grownups not adept at Photoshop.

Cat Herding commercial (Funny)

I'm assisting with staff development efforts at a new Chicago charter high school that has a 1 to 1 laptop program. While exploring Wikispaces in preparation for this, I discovered that you can embed html of a video from Google or You Tube in a wiki. You can also send the video to a blog, so that's what I am doing here. I first saw this video at an Apple leadership event last spring, and it really cracks me up. I know I have not been blogging much these days, and hopefully, I will be back in the saddle again. I thought I'd be blogging daily about my European adventures, and I just never had time. I am working on a reflection piece that I will hopefully post soon. I am also have been sicker than a dog since returning from Europe with double ear and sinus infections which will not go away despite massive doses of antibiotics. Hopefully, life will settle down and I'll get back to writing about cool and fun ed tech things.

I wish I could make this font size smaller!