Friday, August 28, 2009

Free Giveaway from SpellingCity

I'm "reblogging" or passing on this info. It's a contest that ends this Monday so enter it or pass it on quick

Win a free SpellingCity account for student record-keeping!!!

Why not start the new school year off by winning a free 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,

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Learning & Communication Technology

>When I launched my online learning venture a few years ago, a blog was the cutting edge technique for online communication. Forums and Yahoo newsgroups were well-established by then and the traditional internet list-servs and old-fashioned bulletin boards were waning.

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


The concept of 3DLearners just popped up on a blog and it caught my eye. And I quote: There's been usage of the term 3D Learners as a category which includes kids with dyslexia and some other groups whose minds process less sequentially than is most common. It's a very clever term in thatthe imagery evokes the idea of being a visual learner.

I've often wondered if 3D was going to move from being a novelty to being mainstream on the web. Right now, it's big in some games and some niche uses.

I've spent a little time in 3D space in a chat system called IMVU and in the famous SecondLife world. My impression is that there are a lot of multiplayer 3D persistent web-based games. These range from the very juvenile and big Club Penguin to a huge number of MMORGs (massively multiplayer online role playplaying games) such as (and I'm just pulling this list from a blog post on 3D MMORGs):

1, Sherwood Dungeon
2, Club Marian
3, Earth Eternal
4Free Realms

But, I have a passing awareness of the game world and it looks like I'm pulling a somewhat obscure list since there's no big-name EA game on it.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Writing Prompts

A writing prompt is the term that teachers use as as the writing assignment that they give to students. Literally, as what "prompts writing". Many adults will remember the traditional writing assignments of:
- 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 -