Friday, December 18, 2009
Many educators and parents now know SpellingCity.com, the site that went from nothing in early 2008 to the most popular word game and spelling website on the web by this fall. (disclosure, I'm professionally involved in it).
I was talking to an educator yesterday. Actually, I was listening. She explained to me:
SpellingCity is built so users can explore and easily find everything that they need plus all sorts of useful spelling and vocabulary resources. That's not optimal for teachers. Teachers don't have the time, skills, or inclination to explore. They need more explicit instruction. Where's the professional development section that tells them what to do and what there is?
I weakly explained that everything is easily found and that teachers could...Then I realized that she was 100% right and it was time for a paradigm shift on navigation and training for spellingcity. I'll start by doing a quick inventory of what previously was known as SpellingCity Tube with How To Videos and which will shortly be named, or subtitled, professional Development. It'll have a clear sequence of videos to watch to learn the site.
Getting Started (currently known as Taking a Test)
Grading a Test - need to review.
Saving Lists - needs to be made, mention parent newsletter
Learning Exercises - Overviews Test, Teach, 11 games/activities, printables
A Users Perspective - Overview
Premium Membership - In Development.
Summary of Ideas to Easily Follow up on
1. Reorg how to videos into Training with a sequence etc
2. Create pages by grade level, figure out menus. Pages will collect resources and games and lists appropriate to that grade. Example: K-2 will feature alphabetize and phonics lists and sight words. Fifth through eighth will highlight memorizing state capitals. Possessives will be in 3rd - 5th etc. (do same thing on LG4K & Vocab)
Plus much more.....
Monday, November 09, 2009
We are looking at whether we can use those same materials to improve the writing from our member support group. They write a lot of emails every day and while they are primarily templated, there is often a need for original writing.
So our support group is the client, our Time4Writing product group is the vendor, and the test is whether we can build and deliver a version customized for a professional work group. Stay tuned. In the meantime, here's some Writing Resources from Time4Writing.com:
Distance Learning: Why Online Courses Work
Elementary School Online Writing Instruction
Essay Writing for Standardized Tests: Tips for Writing a Five Paragraph Essay
Four Types of Sentences and the Effect of Punctuation
High School Writing Overview
How Graphic Organizers Help Students Master Writing
How Writing Rubrics Improve Writing
Middle School Writing Overview
Step-by-Step Guide to Writing an Essay
Paragraph Writing Secrets
The Writing Process: The Steps to Writing Success
Descriptive Essays: Tips for Writers
Narrative Essays: Tips for Writers
Persuasive Essays: Tips for Writers
Expository Essays: Tips for Writers
Types of Essays: End the Confusion
Understanding Writing Prompts
Writing Can Be Fun: Tips to Enhance Your Child’s Desire to Write
Writing Prompts That Inspire
Writing a Better Book Report
Sunday, November 08, 2009
Dick & Jane - These were the standards when I was little (I'm 51)
Dr Suess - The Cat in the Hat was exciting radical stuff when I was little. We loved it. Green Eggs and Ham and all.
Captain Kangeroo & Mister Rogers
What else belongs on this list? Why?
One other thought. During the tech boom, a number of companies raised a lot of capital for businesses which were described as "Sesame Street for the Digital Age" or "Interactive Sesame Street". It fires the imagination and recognizes the vast impact that Sesame Street has had.
On the business side, I've always wondered about the reality of Children's Television Network. I assume that they're a non-profit. They probably get all sorts of grants and funding. Yet, the toy stores are full of yards of licensed products with Big Bird and Ernie. Isn't that a lot of money? Isn't it enough? Do they turn a profit? Who gets it?
Friday, November 06, 2009
Good typing - 27 guided lessons to learn step-by-step from the beginning. Free. Teaches in many languages. Text-based, tracks what you do.
PetersOnlineTypingCourse - same as good typing. Modest interactivity. Text instructions
Learn2Type.com - another free site, geared for schools. $99 to get rid of banners.
typetolearning.com - from sunburst. Entire range of products, some packaged, some online. Single user is priced at a whopping $79. Lab at $179. School & network $799.
Keybo - CD-based course: http://www.venturaes.com/index_new.asp?http://www.venturaes.com/heartsoft/
UltraKey from Bytes of learning.
Typing Games by LearningGamesforKids.com
http://www.talkingfingers.com/ read write type - combined interdisciplinary course
Friday, October 23, 2009
Gamequarium has collected all sorts of games and links. They are doing a little crowdsourcing with their add-a-link effort:
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Here's a piece of trivia about me...I was a US Peace Corps Volunteer 1980-82 in Cameroon. I was contacted this week by Wendy who is a currently serving volunteer who is trying to build 30 libraries in schools Cameroon and is looking for help. As in donations. I helped. Will you?
"Social marketing like 'twitter' and 'facebook' are not really business generators unless you sell/promote an event or an open day! These are more activity related results. Other business models get far more results from a good blog."
I think the idea there is that Twitter and FB are perfect for "fluid" content. Things that are changing/updating/moving/growing
But that static content can be better represented by a good blog post which offers the ability to EXPLAIN why a consumer needs this product.
My take: Facebook and Twitter are like cocktail parties, a good place to casually interact and exchange quick thoughts but no place for real conversation or information. Also, they're good for quick updates and questions like pools. But they're limited to snippets of info.
If I really wanted parents discussion, I'd go to a parents discussion group.
If I wanted to find out about homeschooling, I might use Facebook to find a group but then, I'd go have real discussions on a blog or forum or newsgroup where the media allows for substance!
Friday, August 28, 2009
|Win a free SpellingCity account for student record-keeping!!!|
Why not start the new school year off by winning a free SpellingCity.com account for the student record-keeping feature? Are you feeling talented and lucky?
How to Apply for the GiveAway. Write your best explanation of how SpellingCity has helped your students and you. There are four ways to send it to us:
- Post on the SpellingCity forum in the Features & Feedback category keeping your entry under 30 words.
- Send your writing to us using the SpellingCity Contact Us form keeping your entry under 30 words.
- Post on the SpellingCity Facebook fan page your entry keeping it under 30 words.
- Tweet it onto the SpellingCity Twitter homepage keeping it under 140 characters.
Please only apply once.
On Tuesday, Sept 1, the Mayor of SpellingCity will pick among the best entries. He'll award five free classroom licenses to teachers and five free family licenses to parents. Specifically, the Mayor of SpellingCity will select the top entries and declare them finalists. The final ten will be selected randomly from the finalists.
Background on Record-Keeping: SpellingCity has added automated record-keeping as a new feature. This allows teachers to instantly grade and record the students' spelling tests giving them a chance to immediately review the words and to take a retest. Traditionally, the grading of papers took a day, tied up a teacher's evening, and involved lots of hand-grading and recording. Automated record-keeping of spelling tests puts the results immediately recorded in the teacher's online gradebook.
The student record-keeping is a new SpellingCity feature introduced in August 2009. The cost for a classroom (30 student licenses) is $49.99. A family (5 licenses) is $29.99 per year. Click for more details on student record-keeping.
Questions, you can DM us on Twitter, Message us on Facebook, post in the forum or use our contact us form.
The Mayor, SpellingCity.com
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Since then, Friendster and Myspace hit their peak and have declined. Google groups came and seem to have gone.
Podcasts arrived and claimed their niche as did wikis and Linkedin and blog communities. They aren't exactly taking over the world but they seem to have their spots.
Youtube, Twitter, and Facebook, on the other hand, are taking over the world. They have dramatically changed our personal networks of communication and how we get news and communicate. Amazing. Thrilling.
Time4Learning is trying to navigate these trends and find a balance of how cutting edge we should be. We do have a Time4Learning fan page on Facebook. We started it within the last month or so and are up to 600 fans. Is that good? I'm not sure. I try to compare it with the fact the Time4Learning parent forum has 3521 members who've joined and 28 users on the site right now (it's Saturday, 4:48, 7 registered, 21 just visiting) but I find that I'm trying to compare apples and oranges.
So, we'll keep trying to listen to our members and locate interested non-members where-ever online they seem to be.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
2, Club Marian
3, Earth Eternal
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
- Write a book report
- Write about that you did this weekend or over this summer vacation
Today, teachers and homeschool parents recognize that quality writing prompts inspire quality writing. I've just been reviewing articles about writing prompts and have yet to find one that comprehensive discusses the issue across a range of ages and reading issues. Here's a quick review of articles that I've found:
Internet4Classrooms - A list of writing prompts from popular textbooks.
Tips for Creative Writing Prompts - This article astutely notes that it's a myth that the youth hate to write, there is a discernable current of interest which educators should learn to tap into.
Middle school writing prompts -
CanTeach List of Writing Prompts -
Thursday, July 23, 2009
More impractical grandiose ideas from your dreamy brother...
Today the news reported the completion of a undersea internet cable to
Kenya that is supposed to spur a huge jump in connectedness and
outsourced services in Kenya. I would call it the Bangalorization of
Kenya. It is also supposed to provide lots of online educational
services to galvanize Kenyan schools.
Is there some way one of your websites can capitalize on this? Free or
discounted subscriptions to computers located there? Some
way to help Kenyan education at the same time boost your reputation or
visibility or number of links? Could Kenyan schools also use SpellingCity?
Obviously, you would want to find a way to make money from this and not
just be pure charity.
There is an editorial column on page 7 of the attached by Nicholas
Kristof about the need to boost education in Pakistan, another
English-speaking chunk of the developing world. (Not to mention
Sangmalima (note - the town where I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in the 1980s) and the rest of Anglophone Cameroon!) But Kenya is obviously
a lot more promsing right now.
Saturday, July 04, 2009
"One thing you can say for sure about Twitter, it sure makes a lousy first impression. Do you want a technology to communicate constantly with people in 160 characters or less? Of course not"
Yet, the article went on to describe that twitter has pretty much become one of the IT technologies because of it's high adoption rate. So I'm surfing around in Twitter.
To be honest, I'm confused. I've found some people that I would like to twitter with (no pun intended) meaning that I'd like them to be aware of the incredible SpellingCity.com website but I'm not sure how to go about it without being spamish and bad. So far, I'm only using twitter to find blogs or emails who I approach in my usual tongue-tied comment or email approach (..if its not too much trouble...and you're curious about such things....and if you have some time....but I don't want to bother you...I've worked really hard....in any case, it's called SpellingCity.com and I'd appreciate a look or review if you can.....if you can't, I won't take it personally and I won't mind.... MUCH!)
In any case, I thought I'd review some incredible websites by elementary school educators that I'm finding in case my tweets get lost.....
EraserTown USA, The New Primary Classroom by Maryann Molishus. My first thoughts, how did she get all those little Web 2.0 icons up there so small and organized and what are they? Her widgets and stuff are first rate as is her credentials...2008 Milken Family Foundation Award Recipient, Star Discovery Educator, Keystone Technology Integrator, Received 2007 Best Buy Teach Award, Member: ISTE, NAEYC, ASCD, Iditarod Trail Committee; Twitter/Plurk. My second thoughts are is EraserTown a play on kids with pencils and erasers or is it about the Eraserhead stuff. Does Molishus rhyme with delicious and is that her real name or just a fortunate coincidence? And lastly, why doesn't she do a little more with the blog like make review SpellingCity.com or Vocabulary Learning Fun?
Philly Teacher - Ms Hertz is a Computer Science teacher in West Philadelphia. Her blog is very active (as I think her tweeting is but again, I'm so confused when I go in there) and she's just too wired. For instance, in her most recent post, she's comparing different social bookmarking services (have I ever admitted that I never really understood Del.ic.ious?). She's comparing it with something that I've never before heard of...Portaportal. Other recent posts were about Shidonni (sounds very cool) and Jam 2.0.
I'll stop there... I want to go check out shidonni
Friday, June 05, 2009
The Council of Chief State School Officers - CCSSO - led a Process to Develop Common English-language arts and Mathematics Standards. This was announced last week. It's amazing. Who would have thunk that the previously independent-minded states would sign up for a common set of standards? It's collaborative, it's efficient, it's sensible and it's about time. Bravo!
And I quote the release:
By signing on to the Common Core State Standards Initiative, governors and state commissioners of education across the country are committing to joining a state-led process to develop a common core of state standards in English-language arts and mathematics for grades K-12. These standards will be research and evidence-based, internationally benchmarked, aligned with college and work expectations and include rigorous content and skills.
“To maintain America’s competitive edge, we need all of our students to be prepared and ready to compete with students from around the world,” said NGA Vice Chair Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas. “Common standards that allow us to internationally benchmark our students’ performance with other top countries have the potential to bring about a real and meaningful transformation of our education system to the benefit of all Americans.”
This means no more armies of people redefining the educational standards at each state level. No more need for state specific textbooks. An ability to use common tests around the country and compare results. But wait, there's more:
- They are likely to include science. Maybe social studies too.
- They are likely to include preschool.
- They are likely to define benchmarks that are observable and measurable!
- They are likely to remain consistent with international norms such as the international bac.
Thursday, June 04, 2009
June 5, 2009 - Time4Learning.com, a Homeschool.com top-rated online education software company, offers California parents an online alternative to cancelled summer school classes caused by the State budget deficit. Time4Learning.com provides award-winning, online Pre School to 12th grade education curriculum.
According to John Edelson, Founder and President of Time4Learning, “The summer is a critical time for many students to catch up or advance their skills. The cancellation of summer classes by the State of California has created a large gap in the ability to do this affordably for many families and the Internet is a great alternative.”
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
If I've understood correctly, in Maryland, the families are required to meet with the board of education twice during the school year for a review of the program. As I've heard, while this seems scary, they actually send out very positive supportive well-informed people who seem to have a constructive relationship with the families.
In contrast, in Alabama, homeschooling is basically not allowed under that name unless the parent is a certified teacher. Families must join these bogus "cover schools" which are basically private schools organized to provide an umbrella or cover for homeschoolers.
For homeschooling in Florida, there are cover schools but many homeschoolers take the option of notifying their school board that they intend to homeschool and then fulfill the annual requirement of getting their child reviewed by a certified teacher or other formal annual review.
Friday, May 08, 2009
How about playing some great geography games.
A great deal of geography education can be effectively taught through geography games and map games. These geography learning games help form the basis for understanding our country, our states, our world. Play on!
Thursday, May 07, 2009
Dental Games - They provide great dental info through fun learning games. And I quote:
Come play and learn how many baby teeth we have and how the saliva gets into our mouth. Also, dental hygiene!
Would your kids like these games? Their best is called Molar Madness.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
I was just reading about a great idea for summer study. This is so much better than a traditional summer school.
Have you noticed how much your child enjoys using the computer? If you haven’t, you should. Kids are constantly surfing the web. Whether they’re checking out a video game or chatting with their friends, they are (without a doubt) online. So, it makes sense to turn to the web for a fun alternative to summer school. Time4Learning’s website offers just that. A web based summer learning program that they won’t mind using. In fact, they might even like it!
Monday, April 20, 2009
Time4Learning has an incredible fifth grade vocabulary building program (in any case, that's where i learned this). Here is all the info that you might need on their programs for vocabulary:
first grade vocabulary
second grade vocabulary
third grade vocab
fourth grade vocabulary
fifth grade vocabulary
sixth grade vocabulary
seventh grade vocabulary
eighth grade vocabulary
Monday, April 13, 2009
|Definition:||Incongruous; inviting ridicule.|
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Merriam Webster: Do they count?
Funbrain.com: 10 M people, 135 Million page views. 189th
enchantedlearning.com 448 2.9M people,
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Inquiry: I am trying to find out if SpellingCity.com is research-based. I am an undergraduate student. I am not working on research so much as finding the best resources to help a student that I am working with. I need the resources that I use to be research-based. As a prospective teacher, I am keeping track of good resources to use in my classroom someday.
My rant of an answer:
Here's my two cents on research-based. It is very expensive to get something properly researched. Consequently, the reseach-based concept is badly undermined. For instance, I might go through the effort refining and documenting SpellingCity.com as research-based. Frankly, I'm considering it. I could then promote it as research-based. People would look at the article on research-based and be comforted and be able to use it.
Research-based might actually mean that I hire a professor to write a report citing references that support this approach. And, perhaps, we take three groups of 3rd grade students, teach with SpellingCity versus some other approach, and document that their spelling improved.
So, how does that tell a tutor of a student, in a one-on-one situation, perhaps a child with APD or ADD or gifted or mainstream, whether this is a good list to use or not for that particular student's needs?
How does that guide a teacher who already has a superior approach to teaching spelling?
What about 1st graders? Fifth graders?
In short, I've generally seen research-based labels used to promote all sorts of things in all sorts of places when in fact, the research had next to nothing to do with the questions being asked.
Here's an intereting point: By restricting spending government money on research-proven initiatives, teachers risk losing confidence in their own judgement and common sense. And students in public schools are inevitably denied use of any new services or anything from a company that does not have extravagent funding. This is probably why charter schools, private schools, and homeschoolers have much better educational experiences than those students in public schools.
Keep thinking on your own to evaluate what's useful and what's not.
Monday, March 09, 2009
I've often thought an online hearing test could be a great service. Also a great business. Here's someone doing some work in this direction. They have an unscientific list of tones that go from 8Hz all the way up to 22,000Hz. It’s fairly common for people who are over 25 years of age to not be able to hear above 15Hz, so this will help you find out where your high frequency hearing cuts off.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
We have each read many reports on many pieces of the puzzle but at the end of the day, these are our impressions of what the nationwide statistics look like at the start of 2009. Would anyone care to share their data or opinions?
The red hot growth trend in K12 education is the public virtual schools which are approaching 1% of the K12 population. It is growing at a rate of about 40% annually.
Three growth trends that had their moment as the hot growth trends but which are just simmering at this point:
Charter schools - 1% of the K12 population growing 20% annually
Homeschooling - 2% of the K12 population growing 20% annually
Magnet schools - 1% of the K12 population growing 20% annually
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Slang - a game that teaches common idiomatic English expressions
SAT Words - a vocabulary word game teaching a 1000 words commonly found on the SATs
Eight Letters in Search of A word - This is fun and educational to play in groups or alone.
MatchIt - This implementation allows you work your way systematically through the entire dictionary. It helps build grammar skills since there are various forms of the same word.
Letter Blocks - A great implementation of the word game where you form words from adjacent letters under time pressure to advance through levels.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
February 2-4, 2009 - Etech Ohio Columbus, OH
February 4-6, 2009 TCEA Austin, TX
February 9-10, 2009 PETE&C Hershey, PA
February 16-17, 2009 Mobile Learning Washington, DC
February 20-12, 2009 AASA San Francisco, CA - STEVE to attend?
February 23-24, 2009 VSTE Virginia Beach, VA
February 24-27, 2009 ICE St. Charles, IL
March 5-7, 2009 CUE Palm Springs, CA
March 10-12, 2009 CoSN Austin, TX
March 13-16, 2009 ASCD Orlando, FL - CONSIDER
March 27, 2009 Palm Beach County District Tech Fair Palm Beach, FL - REGISTER
March 19-21, 2009 NSTA New Orleans, LA
March 22-24, 2009 WEMTA Madison, WI
June 28–July 1, 2009 NECC Washintgon, D.C.
August 19, 2008 Houston ISD Houston, TX
October 6-7, 2008 ITiE Symposium 08 London, UK
September 14-16, 2008 EdNet Boston, MA
oct 13-15 Oct Handheld Learning London, UK
October 14-16, 2008 ILC San Jose, CA
October 14, 2008 NJAET Lakewood, NJ
October 17, 2008 Hillsborough County Elementary Vendor Day Tampa, FL
October 28-30, 2008 NSBA T+L Seattle, WA
October 30-November 1 National Middle School Association Denver, CO
November 5-7, 2008 GaETC Atlanta, GA
November 5-7, 2008 South Carolina EdTech Conference Myrtle Beach, SC
November 19-20, 2008 NABSE Atlanta, GA
November 24-25, 2008 NYSCAT Rochester, NY
December 8-9, 2008 TIES 2008 Education Technology Conference Minneapolis, MN
December 10-11, 2008 TETC Nashville, TN
January 14-17, 2009 BETT London, UK
January 22-24, 2009 FETC Orlando, FL
Sunday, February 08, 2009
The New Audio Word Match Game does exactly what Lisa D suggested: it shows each word for awhile after they get it right. Also, they seem to have switched to the more traditional matching game where there is only type of card.
Best of all, they've added a FULL SCREEN MODE which looks great on the SmartBoard Whileboard or Promethean ActivBoard!
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Saturday, January 10, 2009
I have a half finished idea for a book which explores how much education a family can squeeze out of deck of 52 cards (any serious low cost volunteers to help write such a book would be appreciated).
So I read Diane's post about scarfs with enthusiasm. It's about squeezing the most entertainment and fun out of the least, a simple scarf. She cites a friend, MaryAnna, a homeschool mom of three children, who helped compile the ideas for using scarves (and I quote a small number of her list)...
Play Peek-A-Boo! (of course!)
Scarf Parachute - Make a scarf toy parachute following these directions.
Scarf Knapsack - Make a knapsack.to carry your stuff by tying all four corners of the scarf together.
Scarf Blindfold – Use a scarf as a blindfold and play "Blind Man's Bluff."
Scarf Blankie - Use the scarf as a comforting "blankie" at home or on the road.
Now, Diane is one of the best writers on homeschooling that I know. She might be the best.
But looking at things as I do from a blogging/marketing perspective, her post triggers some thoughts in me (Note, these are not ideas from my hippy side).
For instance, the scarves post could be a great kick-off for a meme? I think audience participation and creative discussion can be fun. Perhaps the audience might have some good ideas of what to with scarves? Perhaps it would be fun to challenge others to add to the list and then pass it on to someone else? Could we get this list to twenty-five? Are there fifty good ideas? Where could the wisdom and creativity of the group take that list?
If a meme is too involved, another idea would be to end the post in a way that encourages comments and onsite discussion. She ended with "Have fun". But how about, "What ideas do you have? Lets see who can come up with the best idea? Please add your ideas."
She could even have added that the following week, the readers will vote on the best idea suggested....."
I tend to think this way since I'm into blogging and have helped create the Blog Writing Course, which raises awareness about the possibility of taking these ideas into a new realm of audience involvement.