This morning, Mancub1 announced that he will no longer cut his waffles.  Seems that since he can’t cut them perfectly, like daddy, he feels emmense failure and it will ruin every morning from now on. Guess which speech didn’t work today?  “Son, the more you practice it, the better you will get.” Nope, he doesn’t like making mistakes.

Unfortunately, I get to make many mistakes and thus, must learn from them. For example, I started using the new Flickr upload button in iPhoto ’09 not too long ago. Right away, I realized there were major limitations.  My quick web search provided very limited understanding of the new iPhoto ’09 features, so I powered on with my Flickr uploads. Here are a few things I learned.

1- By selecting a photo(s) and clicking the Flickr button, my photos will get uploaded to Flickr into a set named for the event in iPhoto that houses my photo. Nowhere in that process can I a) select an existing set b) customize the photo size or c) add keywords.  One must add keywords before any upload. (Add keyword help in Luis’ pdf listed at the end)

Flickr in iPhoto '092- Clicking the Flickr button will make a new Flickr album in iPhoto ’09. That link is a live link to the Flickr set of the same name. Make a change to one and it effects the other.

3- The hard lesson was that even though the newly uploaded photo was in my main photostream, deleting the Flickr album in iPhoto ’09 removed the corresponding set on Flickr AND ALL OF THE PHOTOS IN THAT SET ONLINE along with all of the comments added to that photo by others.

4- I eventually found that, while I can’t select a specific set when using the Flickr button, I can just drag a photo from my library directly to an existing Flickr album in iPhoto and it will upload to that specific set online.  If I want to add to my 365 set, I no longer use the Flickr button, but drag the photo to the album already connected to Flickr.

5- Since I can add to the album, I can also rename the Flickr album and that change will also be made to my online set.

6- If I want to delete the Flickr album in iPhoto ’09, then I will first go to the photos in that set online and remove them from the set. They will remain in the main photostream, but not the set. Now, when I delete the set or the Flickr album in iPhoto, the online photo will remain as a photo in my photostream.  (I forsee a huge problem with trying to do that for 365 photos later when I want to clear up space in my iPhoto source list.)

7- Using online Flickr’s batch tools, I can remove a large number of photos from a particular set at one time, or batch add to another set.  Used wisely, I shouldn’t loose anymore online photos.

8- Selecting all of the photos in my new Flickr album in iPhoto ’09, I can Window-View Keywords to see all of the keywords used by that group and even add a keyword to all of them. Whatever change I make there will also be made to my online photo information on Flickr.

Before I had the lesson forced upon me, I wasn’t a huge fan of iPhoto’s Flickr tool set. Pushing my way through, I have found that I really like the photo management connection between iPhoto ’09 and Flickr.  The only remaining flaw I see is the inability to specifically constrain my photo upload size.

Now, when I started looking for help with iPhoto ’09, amazingly enough, all of my Google searching never came up with Apple’s Find Out How on iPhoto ’09. Find that was a fluke, but it’s a great video tutorial on keywording in ’09.  Google found Luis Perez’s iPhoto ’09 pdf (from Florida Center for Instructional Technology) .  That is an extensive pdf that would be very helpful in any ’09 training.  (Thanks for putting this online Luis!!)

With good integration between iPhoto and Flickr, it is even easier to get your photos from your computer-based collection to a place online where you can share it in your blogs or wikis.


This blog has had a good run, but much like the Scotch Tape store, I think the singular look at just blogging leaves me too confined when I’m pushing so many more things each week. ClassroomBlogging won’t be going away, but my holiday goal is to get a much broader look at classroom technology going and get back to posting on a weekly basis. My secret desire is to have a semi-regular podcast on there as well. Oooo, this could be real fun!!

So, for now, this last post of 2008 centers on using multiple tools to create the writing idea generating rolling. For example, if we are blogging at this time of year about family traditions, why not add some photos of families from the classroom. “Wait a minute there! You can’t publish student pictures and keep them safe!!” Well, Alarmist Al, yes you can.

We’ve probably all Simpsonized ourselves long ago. The process is simple enough: take your photo, upload it, press the button that makes you look like you belong on The Simpsons, and export for your avatar. With just a little effort, your students can do this to create a web-safe photo of themselves and even make one for each family member.

“But what do I do with 5 family photos?” You have a bunch of options, oh one so full of questions. The easiest would probably be to just import them into a Powerpoint slide and export it as a jpg. You could draw on the slide for more effect. My favorite, however, is to put them into FireWorks or Photoshop. Using FireWorks, I drop the new photos onto a page, each on their own layer. Backgrounds are put on other layers. I can reposition each item at will until I get the photo composition the way I want it. I use the effect and fills to add even more realism or creativity to the photo. I export a copy as a jpg file and them upload it to my blog or web photo storage site. With that, I have a photo-realistic picture of a traditional event but with no real people having their identities splattered across the internet.

Here we were in NYs Central Park in November 2007.

Here we were in NY's Central Park in November 2007.

Simpsonizing oneself doesn’t take long and is fairly simple. Simpsonizing your family in the midst of a traditional setting for y’all can be creatively engaging and give the student plenty to write about.

There are many other graphically creative tools online for students to use. Put the ‘fun’ back into fundamentally good education for the students and you may find their writing and communication skills will have a new experience to use. Merry Christmas to you all and to all, a good blog.

One of the Twitterers that I follow shared a link to a TED talk that I found very interesting. In the TED talk, Sir Ken Robinson spoke about how public education is often educating the creativity out of our students and how that is impacting the adult population. It’s a great video if you have 20 minutes to view it (Sir Ken Robinson on TED). This short excerpt comes at around 4 minutes in where he gives two great examples for one of his points.

View sirkenrobinson

I’ve known for many years that children have a much greater resilience with getting the wrong answer than adults do. This is even more apparent in the technology world where the joke has always been, ‘Let the child program the time on the VCR’. Today, many adults say that they don’t know how to do something and don’t have the time to learn how. I know time is a big factor, but honestly, with 4 minutes and Google, you can pretty much learn almost anything. I think that more than time, many adults have lost the ability to just try, be wrong, and try again.

Our schools teach students that being correct on exams is the main idea in school. Students who play a Nintendo DS for hours, trying to figure out the right way to win the current level, have the ability to be wrong and eventually, creatively find the answer that works. Adults on the other hand, are faced with wrong answers as failure and failure is punishable. The theory is that as we become adults, being wrong is more deadly than a temporary detour before success.

Please enjoy the full video or at least the short excerpt linked to above. Think about how we can keep the creativity in our daily lives and the lives of our children. I suggest that blogging is a great outlet for personal creativity and it also allows for the shared experience of peers.

My first college history professor was a very weird man. He was easily 6 ft tall, 280 pounds, lacked social skills in the classroom and he sweat profusely while lecturing. And it was a lecture class that started out the same way, every day, no matter what. By the second semester, students would be able to say his first 5 minutes word for word right along with him. Except, that is, on ‘mooooovie’ days. On the rare day where he had a film to share, he would announce in his rhythmic way, “Today, we are going to see … a mooooovie,” with everyone in class holding out the ‘ooo’ for what seemed an eternity. Then, following some light-hearted laughter, we’d go see a movie.

We all have some memory of the role of video/film media during our school career. It once was the place of the substitute teacher or the coach in health class. The media club was often tasked with bringing the filmstrip projector, setting it up, and hanging out until they hit the magic lever on the side when the film slipped out of it’s track.  As a teacher, I had some big changes to make in my thinking about video use in the classroom.

I will ask teachers during in-service training, “What is the most important button on the DVD remote?” I rarely hear my answer, the pause button.  I worked to make video in my class the media manipulative and not the babysitter. Pausing the video helps jar my students out of the deep hypnotic slumber that TV promotes, but it also gives us time to take notes or discuss important points that were presented.  I think educators are grasping that type of video use much more today than we had in our educational history.

But the change in video media use is not just how teachers use it, but how students use it and how the perceive it’s importance in their lives. We, as educators, must take the continued steps forward to provide a place for student-centered technology in the same way that they are devouring it up outside of class. Online videos are not just a film projector in your computer display. They are platforms for student thought, primary source research information, scientific sharing of concepts, and much more.

Most blog providers also allow for video embedding. Why? Because it is a powerful way to share the media that is important to us along with the words and ideas that were provoked inside of us because of the media. In the classroom, you show a powerful video that illicits powerful discussion that could evaporate at the sound of the bell. Online, the video and discussion remain, can be pulled into class discussion, and can persist for the continuation of learning.

Consult your blog provider’s help pages on how to embed your own videos. Be prepared to hit school firewalls if you pull from YouTube or other video-sharing sources. Find TeacherTube or SchoolTube as possible alternatives. I just ask that we all consider the media technology that our students already have access to and include it within the walls of their confinement.

Thanks to Wesley Fryer for sharing this video on his blog, Moving at the Speed of Creativity, and for provoking these thoughts inside my own head.

If YouTube is blocked, TeacherTube has this video also.

I’ve tried to present blogging as that teacher’s tool for getting the kids writing or discussing meaningful events. So, I’d better throw in more of the tools that enhance the blogging experience if I’m to keep this blog meaningful as well.

One of the tools that I’ve introduced to my teachers is Voicethread. This mostly-free resource is an excellent way to get students connecting visual learning to written or spoken feedback. Voicethreads are picture sets to which users can add their voice/text to, creating a community dialog. Take for instance the following Voicethread made by a Kindergarten class. This is VT that has young students creating a script for an ABC book and recording it. What a nice product to follow-up the usual ABC book created in early childhood classes

I really like this Fourth Grade VT that has students giving book study reports. Notice that there are different opinions being expressed about the same book sometimes.

One great thing about Voicethreads is that other people can leave comments. I’ve seen students posting short reports as a Voicethread with other students asking questions or elaborating on the topic. With the visual nature of these media shows, students often generate lots of ideas through their sharing. Reluctant writers can then take the collection of ideas and more easily create a written response.

One of my favorite collections of Voicethreads comes from the Mathcasts 500 Project. The site is a collection of math concepts being explained by students K-7 organized by math skill. Another math VT is one of my favorites, not just because the teacher is an acclaimed Discovery Education Network member, or because they used my math problem, but because they did a great job of using Voicethread to capture their problem-solving skills. Check out Martha Thornburg’s Mathlincs.

Again, your blog may just be the place where you embed your Voicethread, but what a great audio/visual writing prompting tool! I’m really not one who likes recreating the wheel so, visit Mr. Jarrett’s Voicethread training wiki. It will get your account setup and you off and running. Thanks Mr. Jarrett!

Now, wouldn’t this post have been just super cool if it embedded the Voicethreads?  Well, yeah!  Unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t allow it. is now allowing Flash code within the post, which means Edublogs allows Voicethreads.

I’ll leave you with an enormous collection of Voicethreads. This wiki is even bigger than what appears on the page. Everything from Flat Stanley to Fifth Grade Number Sense is collected here. Browse through and find your own inspiration.

I had the pleasure of meeting with high school and middle school journalism teachers this week. I was asked to come lead a discussion about using web 2.0 tools in the classroom. Some great things came out of the meeting and I have a number of future visits to classrooms already planned. Nice!

One very authentic use of blogging was shared by a couple of photoj teachers. (Okay, it took me a second to connect ‘photo journalism’ to the name, photoj. What a great class name!) Anyway, one high school class is using a blog to share their photo essays throughout the year. Each student has their own blog through which that post their latest assignments. Some assignments were text-based reflections on in-class work. Others had students posting photographs and discussing them using the classroom criteria.

What a great way to extend learning!

  • Students were writing some very meaningful ideas about what they were learning about photography. The teacher doesn’t have to carry folders or boxes of student pictures, but can view them from any computer and give feedback there as well.
  • Students were using advanced digital skill in personalizing their own web presence. Some showed great aptitude for web design and construction that wasn’t necessarily part of the classroom assignment.
  • Photography examples were often taken away from campus. It looks as though students were practicing their skills and uploading their work during non-school hours.

It was great listening to the teachers at that meeting talking about how they are using different websites as a part of their journalism curriculum. Conversations covered, “What are you using for your online newspaper?” to “How are you grading online student work?” (BTW, the online newspaper suggestion was ASNE’s and it’s for primary and secondary schools.) Perhaps creating student blogs will enhance the community of student journalists by having more teacher and more student interschool communication.

I’m waiting for permission to post the actual classroom blog, but I’d love to have teachers comment here and leave other examples of using the blog in their journalism (or other) classroom.

I know this looks cheap, just sharing something somebody else made. But this thought-provoking video makes a great case for using the media tools that our digital natives should have access to in our daily curriculum. The video is hosted by YouTube, so districts that block YouTube should use the link below which will take you to the home for the video.

The original media can be found on the creator’s site:

Is a blog the perfect tool for every classroom, every teacher, or every curriculum idea? No. Do educators need to utilize whatever tool they can (in authentic ways) that will connect students to the classroom curriculum? Definitely!

Hopefully, this video will be that seed for a positive blogging experience for some teacher.

Next Page »