Saturday, November 27, 2010


GeoCommons enables you to find, use, create and then share geographical data and maps. e Applicatin easily creates rich interactive visuals to present data. These can be made without any experience using traditional mapping tools. Visualize data from numerous sources to identify trends that were before unseen. Map your data with real-time social data and the over 50,000 open-source data sets in GeoCommons. You can then share your interactive maps and analysis with others. The maps can be easily embedded into websites, blogs and wikis and with one click. They can also be shared via Facebook, Twitter and many others social networking sites. 

Deep water oil wells off the coast of Louisiana

Friday, November 26, 2010

File Visualiser for Mac Users

This is one for the Visual Learners

Even when many of us have access to cheap and reliable external hard drives and network servers it is still a good idea to manage your hard drive. GrandPerspective is a downloadable App that allows you to do this. It scans your hard drive and displays the folders size as a graphic. The bigger the file the bigger the square. The App also has a feature that allows you to click on the square and it will identify the file directory.

It will amaze you as to the size of some of your files. Some of the most innocuous things suck up huge amounts of memory. With GrandPerspective you then have the option knowing where they are located, what amount of memory they are using, how that compares to others files and then of course of deleting the file if you longer need it.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

iPod Touch Devices

It is amazing how many of our students have iPod Touch or iPhone devices. It is not unusual for 60 or 70% of the students in a particular class to have access to these devices. I had a conversation with a primary school teacher the other day and she had the same situation in her class. She had already started to get her students to bring these devices to school. I started to look at some of the more basic apps we could be using with handheld devices that our students already owned.
I do not profess this to be an exhaustive list nor will every one of them be appropriate for all situations but if you conduct a survey and many of your students already have access to an iPod why don't you have a go at using some of these apps - even if it is as extension work or homework. One teacher I know is   using them as warm exercises with Maths and English.

LED Banner
Touch chords
Smart Maths
Idioms lite
Touch Physics
Sheet music
Flash Maths
I Quotations
Pop Maths Lite
Spel it Rite
Pocket Universe
Google earth
Pocket Shaker
Brain Tuner
Nanosaur 2
Brain Thaw
Weather Bug
Artist’s touch
Solve 24
Flipbook Lite
Synth Pad
Basic Maths
Stiry Kit
Space Images
3d Gallery
Star Map
Comic Touch
Light painting
Apollo 11
Jazz Sculptor
4D Spin
Tap the Beat
Spider Study
Dr Beat
Maths Flash Card
Miss Spell’s Class
Crayon Physic
School of Rock
Musee du Lourve
Maths Drills Lite

Mars Study Guide
Simple Drummer
Sculptmaster 3D
Dot to Dot Number quiz
Talking Books Network
The Chemical Touch
Dubreq Istyophone
Gallery of Painters
Mighty Maths Lite

Charles Darwin writings
Mixmeister Scratch
Pixpop Art
Maths Cards


Wednesday, November 24, 2010


This is a blog site that my seniors put me onto. I personally prefer Blogger but my students are happier with Tumblr. We are currently using it as a virtual visual arts process diary. I know some people will sneer at this, but it is the only way that we can get boys to really reflect on images, artworks and their own process. I have got more from my current Yr 11s in the last 5 weeks than I got from my Yr 12s all year.

The students seems to enjoy the fact that we are using blogging tools as opposed to pencil and paper. They are still drawing but are now photographing their work and then posting it along with reflections on their tumblr. They are all following each other and are starting to comment on each other ideas and work - offering suggestion, other websites, artists and resources that they think would be of assistance.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

3D Museum

This is a fabulous site that has created 3D images in the thousands - of skulls and artifacts from objects, mainly animals. They have created 3D images of these skulls and teeth so that people can look through categories or search for specific items. This is pretty cool and would be great for research or for students assignments. It would also be great as a resource for art teachers.

Painting Machine

I went to an interesting Breakout Session at the Ulearn Conference in Christchurch a couple of weeks back called  "A Brush with Destiny -  Promoting Sparks of Creative Brillance. It was a group of PreSchool teachers from Nayland Kindergarten who were embedding the 'arts' into their programs. I was impressed by the work of these women who each acknowledged that they started the program with little background in art teaching but with lots of energy. Apart from the wonderful work that they were doing - digital portfolios, the use of wikis, artists in residence and art appreciation; I was impressed by their painting machine.

One of the community had placed a record turntable into a small bench. They then attached paper to the turntable and the students where able to paint the spinning paper. This made for the most wonderful patterned works of art. This simple idea is one that could give every child the chance to create a beautiful painting. I love these simple ideas that give students the opportunity for successful learning experiences.  Everyone is doing it even Damien Hirst
Damien Hirst, Beautiful, Cyclonic, Bleeding, Slashing, Hurricane, Dippy, Cowards Painting” 1992, household paint on canvas.

USB Cameras

Not everyone has access to a data projector or a top quality document reader, but there are viable alternatives.  In the last couple of weeks I have seen two types of cheaper style cameras that could work well in a classroom situation. The first is the IPEVO Point2View USB Document Camera - about $89.00 AU
The second is the Flexible Snake Scope USB Camera - about $39.95 AU
Both of these are great for using as document cameras but are equally as good for using in the classroom for a range of activities;

  • step by step computer instructions from your screen
  • science experiments, dissections or petri discoveries
  • art and or craft demonstrations
  • solving maths problems

These can be recorded and made into Vodcasts and then distributed to the class as personal reminders of how to complete the process. They could even be uploaded to iTunesU so other people could use them. Anyway that you use these cameras, they make good sense for your students. They are just as good to use for recording work if you do not have access to a camera in your classroom.

100+ Google Tricks

Came across one of those posts that just has to be shared yesterday.

It was too big to include as a post so I put the whole lot on a new page. It is on the menu bar above the posts next to the Web 2.0 Tools page. This list of tricks is well worth a look. It not only has tricks and tips but Google Apps that are worthwhile in a classroom setting. You probably use some of these already but there are many there that I had not thought to use in a classroom.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Science Buddies

I know at our school the seniors have to undertake a major personal area of research in Science. Like any big project some students have difficulties deciding what to do. Science Buddies is the answer. Your students can literally fill out a questionnaire - about 85 questions and the application will make recommendations based on the interests and strengthens of the student. The process takes about 10 to 15 minutes but at the end the student is presented with a series of options for a major study area.

The websites has thousands of projects with detailed assistance on processes. It is also a place for teachers and parents to locate resources. It has a section on careers in science and is currently recruiting volunteers as Online Student Experts. This is a great website for science education.

What is Web 2.0

How do we explain Web 2.0 to non-users. More importantly how do we convince them to have a look at the possibility of Web 2 tools. This is some of what we offered our staff.

" Web 2.0 is the second phase of internet tools to be developed. Most of these tools have been designed to allow users greater access to using and manipulating information. Many of these tools are web-based free tools or downloadable applications.

The tools that are of most interest to educators are those tools that allow students to own, decode, deconstruct and then re-present information that they have learnt. 

These tools include things like mind mapping tools, interactive timelines, digital bookshelves, comic creators, movie makers, online magazine cover makers and Podcast or Vodcast applications. "

A Wiki is a mini website that allows users to add to, modify and enhance the site. It is a fluid, changing thing that is directed by the users, in our case - students. The best example of a wiki is wikipedia. Each entry has been made by users. People can correct, add more detail and include citation as the site grows. This is excellent in a classroom where students can collaborate and share notes, resources, explanations and ask each other questions."


A widget is another term you might hear. Widgets are tools that can be added to a website or wiki. An example of a widget is a site counter, but it could also be a graphic or a map that shows all the people around the world accessing that site at a particular time. It might even be a dictionary.

Pages - Worksheets

One for Mac Users - The most underrated program on the Macs.

Pages is a wordprocessing application that also allows you to use layout and colour to produce professional looking documents. For teachers the best thing about Pages is that we never have to hand out another boring photocopy to our students again.

The easy thing about pages is the templates that come with the program. When you click on the Pages icon the template chooser  immediately opens. This gives you the opportunity to design how you would like your document to look. Use Pages as a wordprocessor or use it as a professional page layout tool.

Once you have chosen one of the layouts your document will open. Each of the design aspects on the layout is there only as a placeholder. This means that you can simply drag a new image or cut and paste new text into the format on the document. 

You can change the size of text box by dragging the arrows on the corners. 

You can change the size of your pictures or even change the amount of the picture you use by playing with the slide bar on the Edit Mask.

All of the colored shapes are added by clicking on the shapes icon in the toolbar. The colour of each shape can be changed by clicking on the small coloured box next to the Font Size box.

Design hints are numerous, but there are some very simple rules you can follow when designing a worksheet or booklet. Like everything else these rules are meant to be broken. The more confident you get the more rules you should break.
  1. Three colours only per page. These three colours should come from any images you have used on the page.
  2. Repeat these colours throughout your design to help pull the design together.
  3. Balance your design. If you have a big heading, then a block of colour may be necessary elsewhere on the page.
  4. Include one (1) large image or if you want multiple images keep them the same size.
  5. Do not be afraid to include text of different sizes. Place different concepts in different coloured boxes.
  6. Stick to one font per document. There is nothing harder than trying to read different styles of fonts on the one page.
  7. Finally, in this age of digital information it is vitally important that our students see us doing the right thing. We should reference properly any material that we use that is not our own.
  8. Use your favourite magazine for design inspiration. Have FUN.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

QR Codes

QR Code is a matrix code readable by smartphones, iPods and iPads. The code consists of black modular pattern in the form of a square tile on a white background. The information that can be encoded includes text, URLs or even pictures. This makes them an excellent too to use with your students. Leave them clues, hints or suggestins in their worksheets of assignments. QR is an acronym for Quick Response, as the creators intended the code to allows ts contents to be decoded at high speed.

You can create your own QR codes with a QR Generator. Embed pictures, website links and even video in your own blogs or documents. This a fun way for students to decode information.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sir Ken Robinson

This is an excellent argument for change in education. It highlights both the outmoded form of current education and the need for educational reform that pays more than lip service to differentiation, individualised learning and using technology to improve the depth of student learning. The animation is cute but the content of the talk is vital.

It is this intelligent questioning of pedagogy that must be the driving force behind educational reform. As always the technology is simply a tool that enables change. Technology without solid pedagogical reform is mere window dressing.


Geo tagging is my favourite thing about Flickr. We are teaching a unit of work on Graffiti in Visual Arts at the moment. As part of our research we are photographically documenting local graffiti. These will be saved and then uploaded to our Flickr account.

We will geo-tag these images and then create an online exhibition. The students will work collaboratively to decide which images will be included and why and in what order the audience should view the images to see the historical progression of graffiti in Eastwood. Some piece have been in place for 7 to 8 years. People will then be able to access the images on a google map and actually find them if they want to view them in situ.

This is a mock-up only (We have yet to finalise our own)
This feature of Flickr could be adopted for any number of activities in various subjects areas.

Geography - local rivers, creeks, dams or land forms
History - famous battle sites, incidents in history, war memorials
Art - art galleries and museums, public sculptures, buildings of architectural importance
Religion - local Churches of world religions, incidents in the life of Jesus or the saints
Hospitality - cafes, food supplies, wholesalers, growers, organic farmers - Food Equity Unit

Documenting excursions or field trips takes on a new dimension when people back home can see where you went and what you experienced.

Monday, November 8, 2010


I mentioned Multicolr in an earlier post but made the assumption that everyone knew what Flickr was and how it could be used in classrooms. Flickr is a Web 2 tool that allows you to manage your photographs and video online. This may mean creating albums, sharing with family and friends or even giving them the ability to organise your content - adding comments, tags or note. The app also allows you to create groups so that only invited people can access your photos. This makes Flickr perfect for schools. Create a group and invite students and parents to view portfolios of work, drawings, artworks, presentations, videos of role plays or even performances. Get the students into the habit of digitally documenting their work both process and product. This means that you also have evidence of outcomes and competencies. 

Many Flickr users have chosen to offer their work under a Creative Commons License, and you can browse or search through content under each of the types of licenses. This means that Flickr is a great place to find images to illustrate your handouts online worksheets or presentations. It also means that students can obtain images for their own presentations or assignment without breaching copyright.

Flickr also has the ability to Geo-Tag images. This means that images have the geographical location embedded into the digital information that is recorded with the image. You can locate where the image was taken on a google map or google satellite image.


What do you do with the thousands of photographs you have taken on your recent holiday or shot of your students throughout the year. It is such a shame to let them go to waste. Mosaickr is an online mosaic maker. It is a tool that uses all of your images to create a larger image. I have seen companies charge $100s to do these. 

This Web 2 tool allows you to make your own. With the mosaic engine of "" you can generate mosaics with up to 500 images and a total of approximately 2500 tiles. Make sure you first have a Flickr account.  Once you have your Yahoo!-ID and your Flickr account you are all set and ready to use "" to create an unlimited number of photo mosaics. Your students will love to find the images of themselves in your class mosaic.


Since we introduced ScribbleMaps it is only fair that we have a look at ScribbleScreen for Macs.

ScribbleScreen is a presentation tool allowing you to write directly onto the screen, drawing the attention of the audience to items which can be in windows from completely separate applications, high-light items as you speak about them, sketch a quick diagram or type some text.

ScribbleScreen works by capturing an image of the screen at the moment it is launched; thereafter drawing occurs on top of this screen image as a background. This background can take over the whole screen (the other applications still running, but hidden) or can be in a smaller side window so you can see the other applications.

This is a great tool for teachers and students when presenting computer skills or a set of instructions on the screen that the class has to follow carefully. I love this, it is so simple!

ScribbleScreen is a freeware application for Mac OS X 10.3.x/10.4.


Only2Clicks is a visual bookmarking site. It lets you set up a customized home page with instant access to those sites that you use the most. This means that you have instant access to your bookmarks anywhere at any time that you have computer access. The name comes from the fact that (at the most) you’re only two clicks away from whatever websites you frequently visit. It is good for those people who spend the majority of their web time in the same couple of websites. You can set this as your homepage so that at any time you are literally Only2Clicks away from your favourite sites.


Scribblemaps lets you scribble over the top of google maps or google satellite images. This is excellent for teaching students about mapping, following routes or even working out co-ordinates on a map. This could be used in Maths, Geography, History, documenting Field Trips or even Art. This is easy to use and doesn't even require a login if you don't want to.

Combine this tool with Jing (see previous post) to cut and paste screen shots of the maps that you have annotated, or print out a specific routes travelled on a journey to include in assignments. Good simple Web 2 tool that is easy to combine with other tools for students to further enhance understanding.

URL Shorteners

Ever been sent a link in an email that is so long it is broken up being sent. You have to spend time cutting and pasting it back to together only to find out it still doesn't work. You try typing it in yourself to see if you can spot the mistake but again nothing.

URL shorteners take a very long link and create a redirect. You create a short URL to take the place of your huge one.

Turn this URL: lly/dp/B003FSUDM4/ref=amb_link_353259562_2?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIK X0DER&pf_rd_s=center-10&pf_rd_r=11EYKTN682A79T370AM3&pf_rd_ t=201&pf_rd_p=1270985982&pf_rd_i=B002Y27P3M
into this TinyURL:
This is also important if young students have to re-type the Website address - short URLs make for significantly less mistakes.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Andrew Churches

Most of the information on the Bloom's Digital Taxonomy post was gleamed from Andrew Churches Wiki. For a detailed analysis of Bloom's Digital Taxonomy check out his wikispaces site. Not only has he given explanations of Blooms Elements of Learning but he provides examples of the types of tools that teachers could use whilst implementing digital technologies.

Andrew's Educational Philosophy:
The world is not as simple as saying teachers are digital immigrants and students digital natives. We have to change how we teach, how we assess, what we teach, when we teach it, where we are teaching it, who we are teaching and with what. Its a tall order, but these are exciting times. This is not just about the integration of technology into the classroom, though this is certainly a critical area. It is about shifting the entire paradigm of education.

Bloom's Digital Taxonomy

Bloom's Taxonomy has been a cornerstone on which we have based our teaching practice. For many teachers it was the starting place when writing a task or even a unit of work. Unfortunately his Taxonomy does not take into account computers in schools or 1-to-1 laptops programs. 

In the 1990's, a former student of Bloom, Lorin Anderson and David Krathwohl, revised Bloom's Taxonomy and published Bloom's Revised Taxonomy in 2001. The major difference is the use of verbs rather than nouns for each of the categories and a rearrangement of the sequence within the taxonomy. 

This update to Bloom's Revised Taxonomy attempts to account for the new learning models emerging as technology advances and becomes more prevalent. Bloom's Revised Taxonomy describes many traditional classroom practices, behaviours and actions, but it also adds new processes and actions associated with Web 2.0 technologies. Bloom's Digital Taxonomy isn't about the tools or technologies rather it is about using these to facilitate learning. 

Bloom's Digital Taxonomy is the new go to document when designing activities. This list is the the Web 2.0 bible of activities. Use this as a starting point to get into Web 2 tools or use as a reminder of the other tools that your students could also be using.

Remember - the individual tools are irrelevant it is the processes and then the deeper learning that occurs with the use of some of these tools.

From Andrew Churches Website -