Oct 17 2009

MacJams- FREE music for your projects!



I love music. I love messing around with GarageBand- not that I’m that good at it. But there are lots of people out there who are so talented with mixing and creating their own music with all kinds of computer applications- from GarageBand to Sibelius. Luckily for us educators, many of those talented musicians have posted their songs online and have even licensed it with a Creative Commons license! We can use these songs in our slideshows, videos, Web 2.0 projects and more!

MacJams is actually a whole social network of musicians, with forums, blogs, and articles. But the music is where the real treasure is. You can search by keyword, genre, and other factors.

MacJamsSome of the music is great- some of it… not so much.

Preview the song by clicking the play button in the search results list. Once you find a song you like…

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Oct 15 2009

Using Rubrics



Grading student projects can be a time consuming and difficult job. I often had around 150 students, and I gave big projects four or five times a semester. That’s a lot of grading. I found that I tended to get easier on my grading as the evening wore on… maybe my standards would slide a bit after I saw the quality of the projects! I always gave the students a score sheet so they would have a way to know the way it would be graded. I called it a rubric, but it was really just a score sheet. If a certain criteria was worth 10 points, and the student’s project had issues, I would subjectively give them 7 or 8. If it had a lot of problems, maybe a 4 or 5. That’s not really a rubric.

A rubric specifies levels of performance expected for several levels of quality in order to earn a set amount of points. For example, if spelling and grammar are specified, the student would know exactly what is expected to earn a perfect score.

2009-10-15_214222 Continue reading

Oct 7 2009

Advanced Online Photo Editing



Earlier today we were needing to find a online photo editor to substitute for Photoshop Elements, so Jim and I were trying out different photo editing programs. We both love Picnik for everyday simple edits, but sometimes you need a little bit more. The simple and easy programs will adjust color, resolution, crop, etc. but they typically don’t have some of the more complicated tools like the clone tool. If you really need to use the clone tool, nothing else will substitute!

Along the way, we came across Sumo Paint. (Technically it was Jim who found it!) www.sumopaint.com


Although it’s not exactly the same as Photoshop Elements, it has a lot of the same features. Continue reading

Oct 6 2009

Creamy or Krunch’d?



No, not your peanut butter (though personally I prefer crunchy). If you really just have to tell us your peanut butter preference, take the poll.

Now onto the fun stuff…

Have you ever wanted to take students on a tour of a few websites where they could obtain some specific information? Having students type URLs is painful at best. Many sites will allow you to make one URL out of many. But Krunch’d does something a little different- and I like it! You enter in your URLs, then it will “krunch” them into a navigable interface by placing a banner at the top of a browser window and allow users to select the page to jump to. See my example that takes students on a tour through some sites about energy sources.

krunchdOnce at the site, students can use the navigation buttons to go on to the next site and on and on.

This has some nice features…

Oct 1 2009

Etherpad- Really real-time collaboration with a document!



OK, so we all know and love Google Docs. As a matter of fact, that’s how Susan and I collaborate on our book outlines, planning sessions, workshop outlines and such. It does what it says- and for the most part what we need. Etherpad is so cool! When I say real-time collaboration, I mean that if you and I were on the same pad (the same URL) I would see exactly what you type when you type it!

etherpadSo you talk about motivating kids to write together! This is the greatest thing ever! Imagine three students editing or revising a paragraph together… brainstorming… elaborating… writing! This will kick the dust off some of those boring lessons! And that’s not all…

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