In order to preserve some consistency and “practice what I preach,” I’m moving this resource blog to a new format.

The New Blog – Tech205 – will still provide the same helpful tips and resources, gleaned from my Internet wanderings and “stolen” so-to-speak from those more knowledgeable than I (see my blogroll).  It doesn’t have the slick look and feel like this EduBlogs blog, but Blogger has finally come around to allow static pages and delayed publishing of posts.  It also allows embedded videos for free, and works with Microsoft’s Live Writer tool, which I like very much. 

Those items themselves were not enough to make me want to leave EduBlogs.  The tipping point actually came due to feedback I’ve received from teachers in my District.  They seem to prefer Blogger’s administrative interface over EduBlogs’ WordPress back-end interface.  Few were willing to accept the Easy Admin screen, unfortunately.  And, since I’m teaching classes to teachers on blogging here in District #205, I want to teach them tools they’ll feel comfortable using, no matter how reluctant the user may be, so they’ll use them more frequently.  That, coupled with local policies about ads on school-related web sites, spurs the change.

Thus, I leave EduBlogs reluctantly, sadly, and with great regret.  I have had nothing but positive interactions with Sue Waters and the EduBlogs crew.  I shudder to think what will happen when I need suport from Blogger.  At EduBlogs, Sue is always quick to to respond to emails personally – she makes the EduBlogger feel as though she knows them personally and might be just down the hall in the IT office, ready to help with whatever question one has, large or small.  EduBlogs is a quality product/service for educators, which I will continue to recommend most highly, even over the service I’m forced to migrate towards. 

If you’re reading this and looking for a blogging platform for your own use, give EduBlogs a good hard look-around – you won’t be disappointed!


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Here’s a “re-gifted” Holidays Around the World project from my classroom days.  Some of the links are broken, but it was a neat activitiy that my 7th graders really enjoyed.  While it’s probably too late now for you to incorporate this into your classroom activities before Winter Break begins, the links from the project offer good resources to curious kids (of all ages):

Winter “Holiday” History from the Pagans, Vikings, & Romans

Hannukah (Spell it as you like)


Santa Claus



Happy Holidays!


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Week in Rap

Flocabulary – the folks who bring you The Week In Rap - has posted a Year In Rap: 2010, summarizing a number of the big news stories from the past year.  This might offer a way to review Current Events in your classes when you return to school following our students’ ”Long Winter’s Nap.”


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On the personal side of things, my parents are in their 80s and love to use their computer to keep in touch with the family & the rest of the world, especially during the Winter months.  When they need a little assistance, guess who they call?  ME!  How many times have I been in the other room helping Mom figure out how to open that attachment from Aunt Mildred while one of my nephews plants himself in the comfy chair watching SpngeBob instead of the Rose Bowl???

Now, I think it’s always important to make time for family, but if you’re anticipating a busy Holiday season you maywant to deliver a pre-emptive strike to your parents’ inbox.   That’s where this cool little site from Google called Teach Parents Tech comes in.  Here’s a little about the site, from their “About” page:

Every December, millions of tech-savvy young people descend on their homes only to arrive to a long list of tech support issues that their parents need help with. A few of us at Google thought there had to be a better way that would save us all a few hours each December…

The result of our brainstorm was, a site that allows you to select any number of simple tech support videos to send to mom, dad or uncle Vinnie. The site is not perfect and hardly covers all the tech support questions you may be asked, but hopefully it’s a start!

 Teach Parents Tech is simply a quick form you fill in to create and send a holiday greeting card to your parents or loved ones.  The trick is, there’s a how-to video embedded in the card that shows the recipient how to do some of those simple little things, like changing wallpaper or screensavers, making the text larger on web pages, and so on.  There are also some important  safety tips, too, like how to create strong passwords, how to tell if an email is legitimate, and how to stop getting online newsletters, etc.  There are also some great suggestions for more advanced users on how to find information on the Web, how to manipulate photos and other media, and even how to make a blog or use VOIP and Internet chat services.

Teach Parents Tech might be a nice way to helpout the folks and spend a little more quality time with your family over the holidays! 

PS: They are YouTube/Google videos, so they’re blocked from our school computers.  If you trust YouTube’s & Google’s content, you can send them from your school computer, but you’ll just see an empty space where the video should be.  Don’t worry – the video will be there when your folks receive it at their home.  However, if you want to preview the video before it’s sent, you’ll have to do it from home.

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Richard Byrne of Free Tech for Teachers has done it again!  With the help of 10 leaders in Ed Tech, he has published an e-book entitled The Super Book of Web Tools for Educators, and filled it with over 70 different tools for elementary school, middle school, high school, and alternative school teachers, ELL/ESL teachers, and administrators.

The easiest way to enjoy the book is to click the Enlarge this document in a new window in the Yudu window embedded in the blog post and read it online.  It can also be downloaded (PDF) and read when you’re not connected by clicking the Downloadbutton in the DocStoc window that is embedded below that.

Please keep in mind: A few of the tools that are discussed in this e-book are blocked within our District (like YouTube, Facebook, etc.), so before you spend your Winter Break developing a great lesson to utilize these tools, head into your classroom and double-check to make sure you can access the tool(s) at work.

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Horace Mann & Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Fellowship Program

From the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum:

Each summer in Lincoln’s hometown of Springfield, Ill., 50 teachers from public and non-public schools are accepted as program Fellows. Attendees receive unparalleled behind-the-scenes access to educational resources and historians at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (ALPLM). This program is jointly sponsored by the ALPLM and the Horace Mann Companies (NYSE:HMN) which provide insurance, annuities and other financial solutions to teachers and other educators.

The program covers the cost of round-trip transportation, as well as lodging and meals while in Springfield.

Fellows will tour New Salem State Historic Site where Lincoln lived as a young man, the Lincoln Home, the Old Illinois State Capitol where Lincoln made his “house divided” speech, the Lincoln-Herndon Law Office, and Lincoln’s Tomb. Attendees will broaden their knowledge of the Sixteenth President through lectures, workshops and group discussions.

The 2011 program will accept 25 teachers for the June 19-24 session and another 25 for the July 10-15 session. Teachers may select their preferred session date. Special activities are in the works to mark the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War.

Online Application


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Looking for a way to spend some time learning over Winter Break?  SMART offers a number of Live Online Training courses to help you learn how to use your SMART Board and its various hardware and software components.  All you need for most of the sessions is a computer with an Internet connection and a telephone that you can also use simultaneously during the 30- to 75-minute demonstration, so you can learn at home over Winter Break in your flannel jammies & bunny slippers!

SMART2Courses include (all times Central):

  • SMART Board Basics – Every Monday @ 11 am
  • SMART Notebook 1: Getting Started – Every Monday & Wednesday @ Noon
  • SMART Notebook 2: Enhancing Your Skills – Every Monday & Wednesday @ 1 pm
  • Using Lesson Activity Toolkit – Every Wednesday @ 2 pm
  • SMART Notebook Math Tools – Every Friday @ 9:30 am
  • SMART Response (Senteo clickers) – Every Wednesday @ 10:30 and every Thursday @ 4 pm
  • SMART Slate – Every Friday @ 11 am

I’ve “attended” a few of these sessions, and they are very good – at least as good as a webinar can be.  The trainings are focused on creating or using something that you can apply directly to your classroom practice, so you won’t feel like its a waste of your valuable time.  I don’t know how the Holidays will affect this schedule, but its an ongoing FREE opportunity for you, so keep it in mind for other times of the year, too.

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Many thanks to Richard Byrne of Free Tech for Teachers for this tip!

If you use Google to find classroom resources on the Internet, you can filter sort your search results by “Basic,” “Intermediate,” or “Advanced” reading levels.  Here’s how:

  • Visit
  • Type in what you’re searching for & click “Search” or hit the Enter key
  • Once your Search results are displayed, Click the Advanced Search link beneath the Search button Google1
  •  On the next screen you can refine your search results.  Under Need more tools? you’ll see a drop-down box next to Reading Level
  •  Google2 
  •  This will let you choose to:
    • Annotate results with reading levels – You’ll see all of your search results analyzed overall, along with a note on each of your individual results 
    • Google3
    • Show only Basic reading level results
    • Show only Intermediate reading level results
    • Show only Advanced reading level results


This could be a great tool for teachers who are looking to develop classroom activities with materials at reading levels appropriate to their students.  


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Following my earlier post, I was made aware of 2 more resources recounting the events of Dec. 7, 1942

  • National Geographic on Pearl Harbor - NatGeo has a great web site on the Pearl Harbor attack.  Don’t miss the Interactive Map, which takes visitors on a moment-by-moment tour of the events of that fateful morning.  It also contains first-person interviews of Pearl Harbor survivors from both sides of the conflict.
  • History Animated has animations of military maneuvers during WWII, the Civil War, and the War for Independence.  It also has a link to the National Geographic site mentioned above.

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Check out last week’s post for resources on Hannukah, Christmas & Kwanzaa!

Also, have a look at NewsWord for lots of holiday-themed puzzles, and reproducibles.

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