Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I apologize for not creating a post in so long. I've made myself a new-school-year resolution...;) I've just stumbled across something (or should I say twittered across something) that has fired up my creative juices. It is the COOLEST thing I've seen in a long time. And I've seen some VERY cool things through my GLN.

It's called ZooBurst. It is...

Are you ready for this???...

an Augmented Reality 3D Pop-Up Book Creator

Is that not the most amazing thing you've ever heard of?!?!? Talk about digital storytelling!!!

Let me point out some of its features:
  • it's free
  • the book can be rotated around with the mouse pointer
  • items or characters can be made "clickable" and once clicked a speech bubble pops-up
  • one of the newest updates allows the author to create voices for their characters through the ZooBurst audio recorder
  • authors can share books with readers everywhere if they'd like
  • books can be embedded in blogs
  • moderated discussion forums can be created for the books
  • there is a classroom management feature that allows teachers to have a protected environment for their students
  • teachers can moderate student work
  • students can be set up within the program by teachers without giving out personal information

And, as if that isn't enough, the most amazing feature of all is the capability of recording a reading of your story using a webcam that will allow you augmented reality capabilities.

Check out this video for a fantastic introduction:

And the following video shows all ZooBurst's newest updates:

Can't wait to see all the great things our students will do with this tool. Oh man, I wish I had a classroom!


Friday, April 30, 2010

...and Growing

I just ran a few days of my favourite technology workshop this year! All my Ed Tech workshops have been curriculum based, and this one was regarding the integration of technology into Social Studies, Geography and History. My obvious choice was everything Google:
  • Google Street View
  • Google Earth
  • Google Lit Trips

During the time that I was gathering resources to share, I was fortunate enough to catch a tweet from a Web 2.0er/Educator extraordinaire, by the name of Doug Peterson. He had just posted a blog entry called, "An Idea That Just Keeps Growing."...and grow it continues to do!

Google Street View can be found in Google Maps. If you hover your mouse over the yellow peg-man you will see him begin to jump off of his space. If you drag him out onto the map, any streets that turn blue have Google Street View. I decided that I would give my participants the basics of Google Street View and tell them Doug's story as they explored the images within the regions of their choice. I wanted to make sure they had all "chapters" to this great story, so definitely had to make mention of people like ZeFrank, and Megan Palevich.

What followed was fantastic. Within every session, someone had their own story to tell. One such story was from my partner-presenter, whose passion of Social Studies compliments my love of technology beautifully. She had gone home to explore Google Street View herself and went to her hometown, a little village in New Brunswick, Canada. This is her story:
"It was so cool to "walk" the same streets on which I grew up. Then I clicked on a video link. It was a video a scuba diver took in a quarry not far from my mom and dad's place. There was my dad's boat that was sunk in that quarry many years ago. He had been a commercial fisherman all of his life and, when his boat had seen it's last days, he had donated it to the divers in order for them to achieve their various levels. My dad will be moved to tears when he sees it..he fished in it until it wouldn't hold water any more. Pretty amazing!"

It was hard to drag the participants away from this, but hey, next came Google Earth! There are many people who have created some great support resources and tutorials for Google Earth. I inserted some of these items within my presentation so participants could refer to them at a later date in order to review some of the features we explored during the workshop. Misty Belmontez has an incredibly helpful website where she has posted such items.

Once you get your hands on some of the code that is needed to created thumbtacks in Google Earth, you are good to go - Misty gives us the code:) You simply insert your own images, text, audio or video files within the code of your choice and voila, you've created your own personalized place.

There are so many things to explore within Google Earth that you could fly off on different trips for days on end! Most recently, imagery from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has been added. Turn on "Points of Interest" and look for an icon in the Gulf. There is a 3D layer in which to view Ancient Rome. Make sure you have your 3D Buildings checked, in the Layers portion of the sidebar, and you'll see where famous and historical places have been brought to life for you. World oceans can be explored. And once you've tired of Earth, head out to Mars, the Moon or the Sky in general by clicking on the planet button.

Jerome Burg has spent some time creating a wonderful site called Google Lit Trips. Here you can download all sorts of literature-based trips that educators have created to be travelled in Google Earth. You simply download the trip of your choice and open it in Google Earth. You'll see it appear in the places section of the side bar. Click the check box to turn it on, then double click on the main link and off you'll fly to the path of the Lit Trip. Make sure you click on the "plus" button beside the main link and a drop down of all of the trip parts, often chapters, will appear below. Double click on them one by one and you will find yourself soaring to the next place of the adventure.

One of my personal favourites is Tomie DePaola's "Big Anthony: His Story." Big Anthony travels across Italy and with every leg of the journey there is so much to see and discuss. Again, make sure that 3D Buildings is checked because you are then able to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa and so much more.

Once you and your students are comfortable with travelling on a Lit Trip, of course you should embark on the journey of creating one yourself. Go to Jerome's Lit Trip Tips in the "Downloads, etc." link on his website and you'll have found yourself the tutorials and guides you'll need. Then, once you've created your trip make sure you share. Jerome welcomes contributions to his site.

Ahhh, I love Google...

The following is the presentation I used for my workshop:

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

To The Basingi

Today I deviate away from my technology emphasis and post an entry dedicated to my good friends from across the pond. It is today that they say good-bye to their dearest and most cherished companion. I too have a four-legged furry sweetie pie and know all too well the love that is felt for such an addition to your life. My heart breaks for them.

There are quite a few things I will remember and smile about when it comes to Einstein.

The way he "swims" is adorable: he plods around in the water, refusing to go any deeper than his knees, except for that memorable day at the beach when he decided to show the crazy springer spaniel who was boss. I'll never forget the look on everyone's face as we watched him race, jump, swim and get to that ball before Keela could even think about what was happening. He glided back by her and to the beach where he stood tall, ball in mouth, and even the "Keela-Monster" knew who truly was the leader of the pack.

I love the way he looks when he's scolded for begging: "Einstein! Are you begging?!?!" He puts his head down with that shy look, but it is sooo obvious he knows that, in the end, he will get some tasty little morsel...just because he is so cute.

He adores going to work. This is obvious to anyone who gets to witness it. He knows that he will get to lay by the water's breeze, see all who love him as he moves from job to job, and most of all be with his Eddy who simply loves to just exist with him.

I love to see the expression of glee on his face if he happens to notice that he is not leashed to someone. Off he gallops, smiling from ear-to-ear and I'm sure if he could use human words we would clearly hear "Yaaaaahoooo!!" I'm not sure if he loves the freedom of it all, or if he really just likes to hear the commotion that ensues. Both are pretty funny for any bystander to watch...:)

Yes, everything we need to know about living a great life, we can learn from our dogs:
  • When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
  • Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
  • Take naps.
  • Stretch before rising.
  • Run, romp and play daily.
  • Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
  • Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
  • On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
  • On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
  • When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
  • Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
  • Be loyal.
  • Never pretend to be something you're not.
  • If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
  • When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.

Here's to you Einstein, you handsome fellow. Thank you for touching all of our lives. God speed.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Oh Canada!

CTV seems to be the only station that has been on in my household since the start of the Olympics. We have not had any desire to watch anything else. They have shown several segments where announcers and fans spoke of their favourite Olympic moment.

I have so many favourites that I just need to blurt them all out onto the page...in no particular order:

Kristi Richards' determination to finish her mogul run...how inspirational is that!
How can you not like John Montgomery?

Joannie Rochette's courage and heartwrenching skate ending with an emotional kiss toward her mother touched us all.

Curling pants from Norway...love 'em!

I have no more nails and think I need to get my blood pressure checked after watching the Gold Medal Hockey Game.
I must admit my favourite was Alex Bilodeau and his inspiration who is his brother Frederic. We all need to learn from them. And of course, when he said, "the party is just starting for Canada," he wasn't kidding!

What a fantastic idea to start the Closing Ceremonies with the magical rising of the fourth column in the Olympic Cauldron. And the magical lifting of Katrina La Mae Don to light it...amazing!

Where have you seen a space where so many flags from so many countries form a bonding circle to signify unity...beautiful!

Neil Young...oh yeah!

...and yes, I openly admit that I love the champagne, cigars and zamboni rides:) CTV's Olympic website has great highlights of the day set to some pretty powerful music from Canadian artists.

The commercials have even been fantastic:

The outbursts of our national anthem have been incredible. No one could have missed the sea of energetic red clothing.

Yes, we Canadians are patriotic. I am so proud to be Canadian. Oh Canada! Yes I believe!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Science of the Olympic Winter Games

I've just been reading through my Learning & Leading with Technology magazine from ISTE. Lo and behold, staring me in the face was an excerpt about NBC's contribution to the Vancouver Olympics. Sadly for a Canadian such as myself, NBC has decided to make this fantastic educational tool "restricted to viewers within the United States." Fortunately the National Science Foundation has come through for us international educators and has the whole series available for viewing.

Here is an example of one called Slapshot Physics :

Global news has been holding a series of clips called "Beyond the Podium" that is also addressing a lot of the science behind the scenes. One example is a clip that speaks about the possibility of borrowing snow from Isreal!!!

Discovery Network's Daily Planet is also hosting a fabulous series called "Daily Planet Goes to Vancouver." If you go to this link you will have access to these clips and many others that are associated with the Olympics.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Every time I see this Olympic commercial I get goosebumps. After several viewings I started to wonder why it has such a fantastic effect on me. I decided to do some searching. Of course I tend to go youtube before I go anywhere these days. Anything you ever wanted to learn about or how to do you can find on youtube. It is REALLY effective, especially for those visual learners like myself. This commercial is called "The Best of Us - ALL TOGETHER NOW."

I noticed that the commercial is sponsered by olympics.org and found on this site, some background to the message this committee wanted to convey. The following is an excerpt from this site:

"The "All Together Now" Public Service Announcement communicates the fundamental Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect. In this spot, six larger-than-life Olympians seem to be competing against each other in what appears to be a gigantic tug-of-war. As the spot develops, it becomes clear that the athletes are not working against each other, but actually working together to unite the world in celebration of the Olympic Games. Thus, the spot conveys not only the determination and excellence of Olympic athletes, but also their unique ability to bring the world together for the Olympic Games in a massive display of optimism and inspiration."

No wonder I LOVE it!! I've already told you how much I love the Olympics. I need to let you in on a little secret now. I'm not an athlete. Those of you who know me, know that I'm the farthest thing from it. What I am is a hopeless romantic. I'm in love with the notion of bringing the whole world together in harmony. And the Olympics does just that. For a few weeks, these athletes come together from every walk of life imaginable and gather on even playing grounds to act out their passion of sport and team spirit and love of their country. How fantastic is that?

Yes I can hear you pessimists right now murmuring to yourself. I urge you to ignore the politics that try to ooze their way into these games and focus on the unparalleled energy that exists within them. It is such a rush!

As for the potential education that lies within this commercial, have your students really analyse it from both media literacy and critical thinking points of view - before you read them the excerpt from the site. Both these terms are linked to great websites that give you nice overviews of each through video clips.

Have your students deconstruct the message that was intended by this commercial. Let me know how it goes:)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

K-7 Classrooms Invited to Contribute to Olympics Website

Nicole Chatz, a second grade teacher, who is undertaking a graduate diploma in Learning & Teaching with Technology at Simon Fraser University, has posted in the Vancouver Observer a fantastic opportunity for students. She has created a collaborative project that will have kids from all over the world engaged in posting information to her website based on three different ideas.
By clicking on the links within the paragraph above you can find more information about her project. Registration closes January 25th.