Monday, December 7, 2009

Apps for Education on our iTouch

Our School Library System has blessed us with a free iTouch. Kids are borrowing it left and right -- so far it's been checked out 36 times in about two weeks. It's available for use in the library during studyhalls - they check it out, use, and return it before the bell rings. Our 8th and 9th graders much more into using this than a "plain old mp3 player" with audiobooks on it.

I initially struggled with what to put on it. My first thought was NO GAMES, but I have games ALL OVER my library, so that didn't make sense. After a little research and some serious time exploring the iTunes store, I decided on the following downloads. I've marked games with "gaming app." The ones I picked all have some "educational" content, whether it's building vocabulary, using physics principles, or manipulating numbers. I tried to avoid games that focused on manual dexterity, like racing or shooting, as my gut instinct says they're not "educational" enough, but I'll probably readdress this at a later point in time.

In addition to games, I have podcasts , audiobooks, and classical "study music" I found for free online.

* Alice in Wonderland
* Archie: Freshman Year #1
* Associate This -- gaming app
* Checkers Free -- gaming app
* The Chemical Touch: Lite Edition
* Constitution for the iPhone
* Covert Units for Free
* Cooking Mama Lite -- gaming app
* Dots Free -- gaming app
* Fairy Tales
* Finger Physics Free -- gaming app
* FREE French Tutor
* FREE German Tutor
* FREE Spanish Tutor
* FREE French Audio FlashCards
* Greek Gods
* Grim's Fairy Tales
* Hangman Classic Free -- gaming app
* History: Maps of World
* iPhopias - 300 FREE Phobias
* iThesaurus
* iTranslate - Spanish (Lite)
* Learn Chess - gaming app
* Mancala: FS5 (Free)
* Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment
* Molecules
* Musee du Louvre
* My Spanish Coach
* NASA app for iPhone
* Periodic Table and Atomic Mass
* Pride and Predjudice
* QuizQuizQuiz -- gaming app
* Romeo and Juliet
* Science Glossary
* Shakespeare
* Star Trek Comics
* Stars
* States&Capitals Free
* Sudoku (Free) -- gaming app
* Transformers Comics
* Twilight: The Movie Game -- gaming app
* The U.S. States & Capitals Lite
* USA Factbook Free
* USA Presidents
* Whirly Word
* Wikipanion
* Words with Friends Free -- gaming app
* World Wide Capitals
* 3D Brain

It's been a great experiment, and I can't wait to see what happens as more and more students get their hands on it.

Anyone have others to reccomend?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Nicole: Looks great. I love the clean, simplicity of your design. Like we talked about yesterday, I'd like to see some text for each of your favorites -- good start with Owl City -- you'll probably want to add some pictures, too. Give the visitor a little motivation to click the link. Tell me why that thing is so great. Why do you love it? Describe what I can find there. Also remember to develop the "about you" section.

Connor: Nice job adding a review -- I really think it will be helpful for people who play these games. I'd like to see you add a screen shot or two to the reviews. Please continue add more reviews today, and complete the info section you created.

Lissy: I've got my fingers crossed for you today!! I hope webs works for you -- how frustrating! You're off to a good start with you site - you're using HTML, and not a visual editor, right? I know that takes a ton of extra work, so that's great. Today, it'd be great if you could link to each style of dance that you describe in a video. Maybe add famous people who do that style? Also, can you create a little "about me" section of the site?

Jason: Good start - I especially like the banner you created. There are a few things I have questions on -- what's the point of the maps? Do they help players to see the map before hand? Is that something they can't easily access in the game itself? Scratch that, I just had my husband, a Halo player, look at it, and he gets the point of the maps. On the videos, I'd like to see a description, so I can decide if I want to take the time to watch it. Is the second video really appropriate?!?!? Remember to add a little bit about yourself in the "contact us" section.

Joe: Your Wii site is looking good. You have all the right tabs and sections -- now you just need to fill them out a little bit. We talked about writing reviews for the games of the day, so hopefully you'll get to that, and also fill out the about me section.

Mark: Your site is great, but I don't think that the model picture positively contributes to your site design in the about me section. It's your site, so you can do what you want, but I think you could do better there. I'd like to see some reviews and/or descriptions above or below each game.

Andrea: Did you have more on your site yesterday? Maybe I'm not clicking the right thing -- I can't find the great section on how to wear plaid skirts. Maybe you just haven't published it yet? Anyway, what I saw yesterday was really wonderful - your writing is creative and spot on. Continue to add images, as we discussed, and maybe create that back to school list. Don't forget to fill out the "about me" section.

Alyssa - Looking great. You've done an excellent job writing the content. I appreciate that you've put so much time into creating really excellent writing -- I know it takes some tough brain power to generate such a great product. Continue to work on the things we discussed yesterday, including images of the trends you discuss.

Braiden: You're off to a good start. I'd like to see some content on the welcome screen. Maybe a few pictures, and a little bit about the purpose of your site. Can you add an "about me" section, too?

Joe: I didn't get to see your site yesterday, but I know you're working really hard with the HTML. You get mega bonus points for doing it the hard way!!! I've got my fingers crossed for you and I'm hoping that you don't have a problem with webs today!!

Overall -- everyone's doing an amazing job!!! :)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Heading toward the finish line

Image from: Pop Ch Blog

You're almost done! Just 1 more day of web designing. Hopefully you'll have some AMAZING projects -- I can't wait to see how everyone's hard work has paid off!!

To comment, I want you to do the following:

1) Paste the URL of your web site in your comment

2) What aspect of your site are you proudest of?

3) What do you still need to work on?

I will be looking at your web sites tonight, and will leave everyone comments and suggestions. On Thursday morning, you're going to check the blog first, and then finish up your work.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

What's your plan?

Alright, so today I want to know what kind of marvelous, amazing, creative web site you plan on building. Please answer these questions:

1) Are you going to use Google Sites or straight-up HTML?
2) What is the purpose of your site?
3) Who is your audience?
4) What will your content include?
5) Describe the creative vision for your site - colors, designs, feeling, theme?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Worth a 1,000 words

Pictures are amazing. They do so much for us. It's really true that pictures are worth 1,000 words. I bet you guys LOVE pictures. I've noticed that some of you aren't the biggest fans of having to write. Although text does have an important place in web design, sometimes a picture can more easily and more effectively convey the same ideas, without words!
I think this picture represents me the best:

It's a picture from Stock Exchange. It's a picture of a tree really early in the morning. It represents me best because I loooove tress, and I'm a total morning person. I love the quiet and stillness of 6:00 AM, and the fact that I'm the only one up. 

Today, I want you to find an image using one of the 3 sites we talked about (,, and Paste a link to the image in your comment. Then, tell me what it's a picture of, and why it represents you.

Friday, July 31, 2009

CSS - Can you tell I just taught myself last month?

Above: A Self-Taught Cat
from: Funny Education Pictures

Okay, so I'll be honest. I had no idea how to use CSS until I taught it to myself in June.

That's the great thing about web design - if you're interested in learning something, there are so many amazing resources out there to help you. Best of all, 99% of them are available free, and online, so the only thing you really need is an Internet connection and a little motivation. Many, many people working in web design are self taught, or only a little instruction in a classroom setting.

Has there ever been anything you wanted to learn so badly that you just decided to teach yourself? What was it and why did you make that decision? Is there anything that you'd love to learn how to do, but you just haven't found the motivation yet?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

So what do you still need to know?

Image from

We've now spent two days learning HTML, and you like, totally know it all, right? I know you're not so silly as to think that, but at least you have a basic understanding of how it works and what it consists of.

Tomorrow we're going to learn how to use CSS -- it's a way of easily changing aspects of your site all at once, and it's been around for more than 10 years. For example, you might make all the H1 headings green, or you might make the font in all your paragraphs arial. If you don't use CSS, you'd have to change the color on each H1 heading individually, or change the font on each paragraph, one at a time.

Today's questions: Why is CSS such a timesaver? What do you want to do with HTML that we haven't learned yet? (Don't say "nothing" -- I'm looking for some real suggestions!)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

How's your brain feeling?

If you've never used HTML before, the first day of playing with it can be something of a shock! Maybe you're super excited because it seems really cool, but also a little weary because all the new ideas are totally overwhelming. I've been there, and felt BOTH emotions. 
Today I want you to think about and then respond to these questions. Please answer ALL questions fully. I like it when YOU make ME think! 
So I want to know the following: 1) How the heck are you feeling? Is your brain ready to explode or are you a cool cucumber? 2) What are you still struggling to understand? 3) Why is HTML called hypertext markup language?
Happy commenting! 

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Today we spent a ton of time talking about what makes a site good and what makes a site bad. If we want to develop a good, useful product that accomplishes our goals, we need to keep the components of good design in mind. Think about everything we’ve discussed today.

In your opinion, what are the 5 MOST IMPORTANT elements of a good site? Leave a comment below, responding to this question.

Once your list is complete, compare it to your neighbor’s. Do you have things in common? Anything you disagree about?

image from: Bad

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A "perfect" library

Wow! I just got permission to re-work some aspects of the library's layout that aren't working for us. How exciting!

I have to admit it's a little stressful, as I feel like I've got a HUGE responsibility to try and get things "perfect." It's going to take a team to get the project accomplished, and I don't want to inconvenience anyone in changing my mind or making poor decisions early in the game.

I'll just cross my fingers and triple-check everything! The new layout will be amazing, as it allows us to see the ENTIRE library from the circulation desk and watch computer monitors. Supervision is always a plus.

What would you change in your library if you could make some simple renovations?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Back to that curriculum . . .

So now that I've got a good chunk of the Web 2.0 syllabus done, it's time to start in on the web design syllabus. Phew! I'm kinda questioning my ability to teach 900 minutes of web design . . . I know the basics, and have tons of books to bolster my somewhat spotty knowledge, but if there's any HTML geniuses in the class, they're going to expose me. Hopefully frequent use of the words "beginning" and "introduction" will keep expectations low!!

I would much rather focus on the fundesign issues rather than the HTML coding, but I do think it's important to know a little bit about what's going on behind the scenes.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Planning a Web 2.0 Class

W e47mex letter B 2 p.e.r.i.o.d brick 0

I'm teaching a 10 day class on Web 2.0. My audience is 7th - 9th graders who have signed up for a summer enrichment program at a local college (voluntary school in the summer -- are they crazy?!?). I've just started working on the syllabus and investigating the awesome technologies I'd like to showcase.

When creating the syllabus, I'm trying really hard to balance the "education" with the "fun," as this isn't "real school," but an opportunity to do all the cool stuff we can never squeeze in during the regular year.