mikeromard on September 10th, 2010
Text Message
Image by another.point.in.time via Flickr

I have heard people will use this feature to bypass some monthly phone charges, but I was without a mobile or land line phone and wanted to send a text message to a mobile phone. I did have Google and an hour to spare, so I was pleased to find a way to “send a free text message from any computer to any phone, using your current email provider”

In the To: field type the ten digit phone number including the North American area code, then @ followed by their telephone provider.

To send text to a Bell Canada phone that had the number 416-444-5555, I would type in the To: field “4164445555@txt.bell.ca” Then you write something in the subject field. It is sent instantly. The recipient can even reply to you, which you’d receive… as an email.

As this video will show (which I later found when creating this blog post) AT&T has the domain text name – text.att.net

From the Zemanta articles, Barabara Boise points out the Google Voice which would allow your students (or semi-friends, maybe fans) to send you text messages with their computers, without them ever knowing your real phone number.

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mikeromard on July 30th, 2010
stop cyberbullying
Image by FunnyBiz via Flickr

Cyberbullying is probably the number one area for young digital education.

In the UK, a reported 22% of children and young people claim to have been the target of cyberbullying making this one of the most important new areas of behaviour to understand and to equip schools, carers and young people with the ability to respond.

2006 Research carried out by the Anti-Bullying Alliance

The Anti-Cyberbullying video produced by Digizen.org is one of the best I have seen. It has many subtle scenes that even elementary students will pick up on. A great place to start a discussion on bullying and/or cyberbullying in the classroom or technology lab.

Viral emails, spam, identify theft and cyberbullying are identified by security guru CISSP and its band of volunteers as areas for zero-tolerance and an effort initiated in the UK and now in North America is taking shape. To help create a better and safer world for our children – go to (ISC)2 and help make the world cyber safe.

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mikeromard on April 5th, 2010

Teachers will always ask students to read books and share what they have learned. But, how students share that knowledge and achiever higher levels of thinking by synthesizing and making personal connections can be achieved by going beyond text on paper.

The current generation will do a quick search on YouTube to troubleshoot a hard level on their video games. They live in a video world and love to share their thoughts in pictures, video and sound. To support a more engaged learner on your next reading project – consider a book trailer. It’s like a movie trailer but it’s about a book.

After we completed our historical fiction unit, my fourth grade students created 30 second video trailers on the book they had read. They included the title, author, and comments on why the book was part of the historical fiction genre. Further, they included a tease or shared an exciting part of the book – all using a simple microphone. Later we added pictures related to what we were saying and even background music from the public domain. If they write their script for homework, this can be achieved in two classes.

Here are a few:

Journal of Ben Achida – Trailer by Alex 4MR

A Long Way from Chicago – Trailer by Eden 4MR

Year of Impossible Goodbyes – Trailer by Kevin 4MR

We store them on our school library server, but these could just as easily be saved as regular podcasts on iTunes. We used GarageBand using MiniMacs and USB headphones with a microphone; but PhotoStory for the PC would work just as fine (and for free)

Here is some more information about Book Trailers and other software that can be used (even some image and sound libraries)

mikeromard on April 4th, 2010

I have been unable to easily access this blog for a year.

Go figure, I wait until Easter; the time of the returning from the dead, that I use my VPN subscription to good effect.

Many expats working in China have had to resort to VPN private network (a yearly subscription will run you around $50) to tunnel through the filters the government has implemented.

Enough said, I look forward to keeping this blog updated regularly. Cheers.

mikeromard on May 10th, 2009

My grade 2 team asked me to help find interesting sites & activities to augment their Goods & Services instruction in the classroom.

Video on Goods and Services

BrainPopJr’s Goods & Services



BrainPop’s Supply & Demand

Online Reading

Should kids get pocket money? (from CBBC) with comments

Top Tips for kids on saving money (from CBBC)

Goods & Service Flash Games

Ten colorful pictures to be sorted

Ten colorful people to be sorted via Consumer or Producers

Online Quizes to test your knowledge

Goods & Services Quiz

Supply & Demand Quiz

mikeromard on April 21st, 2009
A handful of compost

Image via Wikipedia

Today is Earth Day. As my wife and I explained it to our daughter last night — we referred to it as Earth’s birthday or celebration of all its beauties. It’s also a time to discover things about our planet. My son’s PreK3 teacher, Maliha Iqbal, has run an amazing compost program all year and I know all those students feel they are saving the world.

Here are some things to do with your child or students:

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mikeromard on April 15th, 2009

educational-games-childtopia_1239782207846 The brilliant colors will immediately draw you in. And if you spend enough time, you’ll fine a few winning activities to do with your students or children. Whether it’s an activity sheet to print and complete or an interactive tutorial on drawing. The site is well paced and has a wide variety of activities. Further, the number of choices at each area is extensive. The drawing section had step by step stages to draw 100s of designs. The comments were very positive, so much so that I had to laugh. The ‘Detective’ area is a searching game which I found much harder than ‘I spy’ but the play-do graphics more than made up for it. Also, the ‘getting warmer’ commentary made it a bit more interactive and fun. The games section immediately indicates a suggested age level and has a wide variety of things to try. My only wish woud be if the webmasters implement a search feature where I could say I teach 4-5 year olds – and only those activities catering to that area would be shown. Still, I could see a teacher or parent finding good use for this site. Everything I tried was free. I did see a banner ad indicating for 12 euros the premium version was available.

mikeromard on April 14th, 2009

symmetry-robot-man Symmetry is something found in everyone’s curriculum, but here is a quick way to not just access it but allow your students to show their creative side. In our lesson, we asked the grade 1 students to create a design showing one line of symmetry – using all the sames found at the java site http://ejad.best.vwh.net/java/patterns/patterns_j.shtml

It makes for many colorful math displays too – always nice with spring and parent conferences coming.

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mikeromard on March 12th, 2009

Often I’ll lead one of my workshops with jokes or a video to get the attention of the audience. Here is an incredible inspirational video on the youth of today. It could also be used with a language arts lesson on how passive and active voice can be played out. Special thanks to Jennifer Vincent-Fallis (again) for introducing this to our school – it went around like wildfire.

mikeromard on January 5th, 2009

Here are two 30 minute lessons that I’ve developed for 3rd grade students on the benefits and pitfalls of the World (Wild) Web. For good reason, parents and teachers are concerned when children begin browsing, so I wanted to compile an informative and memorable lesson. Words in italics are what I’d say with the group.

Alright everyone. We have two busy sessions planned so let’s get started. Can anyone tell me WHAT IS the Internet?

My favorite answer is from here – http://www.davesite.com/webstation/inet101/net01.shtml

Now, what is both scary and exciting is that the Internet doesn’t really have rules. There are no Internet Police. Yes, you can get put in jail for some things, but that depends on the laws of the country you are living. Now the Internet is one of the closest things to magic in our world – it’s full of amazing facts, video and people. But, we have to be careful because it also has words and pictures from people who aren’t very nice. So, when you encounter inappropriate stuff, just move away – often they are doing it to get a reaction. Don’t let them control you. Today we’ll begin learning how to use the Internet safer and better. Before we start, let’s take some guesses for how old the Internet is.

Here is my favorite answer – http://www.howoldistheinternet.com

So the Internet is new technology. Let’s have a quick review with a technology we are all familiar with. Now, it’s not in English, but it does have subtitles, but I think you’ll figure it out very quickly.

View A monk learning ‘new technology’

This playful skit pokes fun at people struggling with new technology, but we all have to push through it and realize the benefits of learning something new. Now, when you use the internet with your ‘browser’ which is a program that helps your computer understand the information on the Internet – you have to know how to open, close, and go back. Let’s have a quick review of the browser (FireFox, Internet Explorer, Safari) that your school uses. Also, take time to enjoy the ‘refresh’ button which tells the computer to ‘look again’ at the page because it may have changed. This is useful if the webpage loads slowly or you’ve made changes to a website in another window.

Now, some things you will encounter on the Internet will be so amazing, you will wonder if they are true.

Watch Flying Penguins

The BBC is one of the top providers of real information. Why would they spend money to produce this kind of video? How do you check if something is not real on the Internet? Well – it may sound silly – but I use the Internet to help me. For the penguins – I type “flying penguins hoax” and hit enter – the second choice indicates it was an April Fools joke. The word hoax means lie or trick. Actually, if you go on YouTube, they have a great video showing how they made penguins fly.

Often people will get emails that are trying to trick them. My family is convinced that freezing water or microwaving water in a plastic bottle will give them cancer. Even though I show them when I google “freezing water bootle hoax” the whole page is full of links to show it’s not true and they are safe. Even big people get fooled. My wife’s former high school students emailed her to inform her that Kentucky Fried Chicken changed it’s name to KFC because it was no longer using real chickens. She believed it. Not true as I showed her with a quick search. But, she insisted they were now college students at the highest level of school. Even the best fall. Whenever you are not sure of something, add hoax and search the Internet for what is real.

Even when the information is true, it’s not the best.

Watch this video on how to avoid being Misinformed – a video designed and produced by a student.

Three key concepts came up in this video:

  1. Is the website the best authority on the topic?
  2. Is this website biased?
  3. Is this information correct or outdated?

The first, we’ll discuss next session. Biased means the website is trying to push a particular opinion. In the video, it implies a building company may say it’s product is the best, but maybe that’s not true. If you visited the websites of America’s top restaurants, they’d all say they have the best hamburger or ribs or chicken wings, but obviously they can’t all be right. Some fact quotes are really opinions or the person/company may have a desire for you to believe them so they can get rich by your actions (you buy their product) so we have to be careful with the information we read. Finally, the information could be inaccurate.

Look at these two websites:

Pluto is a planet (from Space.com, June 6, 2008)

Pluto is not a planet (from UniverseToday.com, April 10, 2008)

The most recent article is that Pluto is a real planet. They both can’t be right. So who is right??

Finally, we have some homework. Humans are expanding and ruining the homes of various animals. Our school has some money and we can support one animal. Use your research skills and select one animal that we will ‘save’ before the actions of humans cause it to become extinct.

Will we save the ‘Tree Octopus‘ or the ‘Mountain Walrus‘ or the ‘Sabre Tooth Salmon‘? [I open each window for a few seconds so students can get a quick peek at each – please be sure to later on correct their beliefs, else we’ll have a whole generation of folks vehemently believing a hoax ‘because it was on the Internet’]

2nd session:

I begin with a quick review of last class. We discuss which creature we’d try to save and discuss why someone would create a website on something like a ‘tree octopus’

So being able to determine the validity or truth/accuracy of a website is an important skill.

Watch this 6 minute video on Evaluating a website.

Now, on with being a better searcher of information. My favorite video for instructing this is Common Craft’s 3-min video: Web Search Strategies in Plain English.

Finally as this library ninja will attest, don’t forget that books have valid information and can sometimes you can find the information there faster than with the computer.

If time permits, I have an open discussion or in small groups discussing what we have learned from these two sessions.Technorati Tags: , ,