Social Bookmarking Tools

Social Bookmarking is the process of sharing links or as Wikipedia says: On a Social Bookmarking system or network, users store lists of Internet resources that they find useful. These lists can be accessible to the public by users of a specific network or website. Other users with similar interests can view the links by topic, category, tags, or even randomly.

I have used for at least a year and have found it very useful to share and get links for folks I follow in the blogosphere. On my way in to work, I listened to’s podcast on Social Bookmarking and was turned on to a couple new players in this arena. Diigo is a new tool that allows much of what offered but with the ability to add more features like sticky notes, groups etc. I am going to give it a try. is another one that allows you to add comments to pages. Trailfire is a tool that allows users to navigate a “trail” of links put together by a teacher with questions or comments along the way. I have not tried it but it sounds interesting. These tools make it simple for a teacher to make links that they think are important available to students. In fact it could become a class activity to find web sites on topics and “tag” them so they show up in the social sites.

Apple Trip

I had the distinct pleasure of representing Durham Academy at an Executive Briefing with Apple Computer in Cupertino. The purpose was to discuss how we can move the learning at Durham Academy forward into the future and how they may help. We were treated extremely well by all Apple Executives and given a warm and relaxed atmosphere in which to discuss our needs. We asked our questions on how to create an Open Learning Community so that all members can be contributors and consumers of content. We made a strong case for pedagogy, learning, content creation, and professional development in order to successfully scale out a learning community. We found that we are on the leading edge of this movement in the United States. I feel real good about our plan and feel that we are on the correct path in adjusting our school to 21st Century Learning.

Group at Stanford

We also visited with Bob Smith at Stanford’s Walenberg Hall to see first hand how they designed a building for flexible and engaged learning. A very impressive building with wonderful tools for faculty. The chairs they used are unbelievably comfortable. Steelcase – Cachet

Thank you Durham Academy for sending us to California to see the future and develop a plan to bring it here.

Balanced Approach to Online Safety

There has been much talk recently about online safety and children. I wrote about this on a web site for Durham Academy last year after a visit by a noted expert on the dangers presented by Social Networking, IM, and other technologies. You can read more about that at: Social Networking. These represented my thoughts then and now although a year later, I have seen how my students are practicing the strategies needed to be safer online.

Recently the same noted expert spoke at our school and while the message was full of facts and possiblities there were only a few solutions given. I know our parents were shocked and scared over the messages given. I am not disputing the dangers that exit in life online or onland, but I do hope we take a more balanced approach. To that end, I want to share these links from Alex Ragone, Director of Technology, Collegiate School in New York, NY as he responded to a listserv question asking for advice or knowledge on a group who would be presenting a presentation entitled: Digital Mayhem in Schools. I have read Alex’s posts and believe him to be a forward thinking educator who shares all of our concerns and is working tirelessly to move the discussions forward on many topics.

From Alex:

Recent Congressional testimony about the minimal danger that is posed by the Internet: In addition, here’s a great article on online predators

I am reminded of the song by Crosby, Stills and Nash.

Teach Your Children
You, who are on the road,
Must have a code that you can live by.
And so, become yourself,
Because the past is just a good bye.
Teach your children well, ….

Visual Hub

Fred Bartels recently post on the ISED listserv about this tool. I can see the benefit of having this tool in the growing digital toolkit as we adjust from being a text  based learning environment to a digital audio and video learning environment. It costs $23.32 and is available for free trial download that is limited to 2 minute video.

Here is Fred’s post.

A wonderful little program for doing video conversions is VisualHub It is Mac only, and for those familiar with Macs, it is kind of a video equivalent of Graphic Convertor.
VisualHub will create Flash video files, so you then just need to find the video player piece. BTW, VisualHub makes use of all 4 cores on our Mac Pro tower so it’s really fast doing compressions. For those of you starting to
play around with HD video, VisualHub is a great tool to compress file sizes down to reasonable sizes while maintaining that great HD quality.

What our students say about DAILE Moodle

DA Teacher – Mrs. Ward allowed Red Hat to film her students using the DAILE Moodle. Here is feedback her students generated which she shared with Julie and Greg from Red Hat.

“Thank you for coming to our class.  Aside from making us all feel very cool if even for just one period (of course the students managed to carry it on throughout the day!), your presence also allowed us to discuss what we like and don’t like about Moodle.  Below is a representative sample.  (I have done no editing.)  The themes of “organization” and “consolidation of resources” are prominent.  I hope this is of some use.  We are looking forward to seeing your article.

Best regards,


I thought the Red Hat moodle day was pretty normal seeming, even though there were people with cameras. That hats and frisbees were cool, though! And so was the green $100 computer. that is a great way to extend knowledge to people who don’t want or can’t afford a $1500 laptop.
I like moodle as a tool for learning. It allows discussions that we can have with our friends, but which can have more depth and knowledge than just a normal argument because we can look up information as we type it. Another reason it is good is for homework. If we lose our syllabus or lose a worksheet, we can just go right to moodle, find it, and then be able to turn it in on time.
I felt like class was more fun in the lab on moodle. The fact that moodle and the internet have more visuals really helps me. Moodle is very straight-forward, and yet it can be used in countless ways. We can take quizzes on moodle, do journal entries, and get assignments. In the classroom it could be (and already is) a very good way to learn.
Today was not at all tense even though there was a guy with a huge camera, and the people were really nice (and gave us free stuff).

I thought the experience in the lab was a good opportunity to learn more about clouds on our own. Moodle is a great tool at home and at school, as students often lose handouts and homework schedules when they are in the paper form. With Moodle, everything is in one place and easy to keep track of. Also, it often makes it unnecesary for us to print our assignments up, leaving less room for broken printers and wasted paper. Moodle is also good because the internet is a really good resource for research and education, and having the links online makes it much easier to reach the websites and share our thoughts on them with the class. It is really the only out of class place where we can have a class wide conversation about subject matter.

I thought it was lots of fun and interesting that another business would like to see how 8th grade middle school students use online programs.  I think that we should use moodle in the class room  because then our work is neater, more things can be done in one class period, and be able to discuss more than one topic virtually at the same time.  You can also message friends when ever not only ask the person next to you.

I thought yesterday’s experience was really cool and fun. I really liked Redhat and the computer they made for 100 bucks. I think Moodle is a great tool to use in the classroom. I can learn lots of cool stuff because Ms. Ward can easily get links to what we are trying to learn and post them on Moodle. Moodle is also a great on-line resource outside class because it is easy to get notes and to have fun creative discussions with your friends. Moodle is a great on-line source and I think that the lower school should start to experience Moodle.

This was quite an unusual experience with a camera behind my back but I think I learned a lot about Red Hat. Moodle is a very useful tool inside class and out, because if I lose an assignment sheet for all of my homework, in less than a minute I can look it up on moodle and print out another one. Also, I enjoy participating in class discussions in all of the forums about everything we do in class, so if I have a question, its answered instantly.

I really think that moodle is a great way to stay connected with in class work and especially homework. Whether we are having discussions, or the ability to get notes off line that have been posted. It is also really helpful to have important resources about our unit, in case you might need some extra help. I think moodle is a great way to stay oraganized and on top of the projects and homework going on!

With our planet changing every day Moodle is one step closer to eliminating the use of paper and textbooks. This is very promising because of the things happening with global warming, we need all the trees we can get. But saving the environment isn’t the only reason that Moodle is a great and useful tool. If you were to miss class one day then you can pick all the assignments up on-line and not get behind in class. Moodle is very helpful in-class as well, such as quizzes or in class activities that use the Internet. Overall Moodle is a great program that is leading us into a future with out wasting paper and providing a very unique, useful tool.

I thought that it was cool that we were filmed using Moodle. I like using Moodle because it is easy to use and, if you have internet, then you can access it. Also, the homework is posted there so if you forget it, it is there. It is also a good place to post class notes and sources to study.

Today’s experience was not too different from other days; it was as if we were just doing an activity and no one was watching us. I like using Moodle in the classroom. I like Moodle in general, too. It’s really organized. I especially like it as an online resource outside the classroom because all the information you need is there, and it’s really easy to use.

I thought that today was very fun, and also very helpful. I learned a lot about clouds that I didn’t know before. I think moodle is a very useful tool for students, and helps making learning easier. When you are using moodle, sometimes you don’t even realize that you are learning, even though you are. Also, moodle is a great place for teachers to post notes on what happened in class that day. Moodle also gives you great resources for studying and understanding tough concepts. Moodle is awesome and everyone should use it.

Birgel’s Life of Pi Blog Setup

Mrs. Birgel’s class will be doing a few culminating projects around the book Life of Pi. One tool we will use are free learner blogs for students. To do this, we will go to the following site Edublogs and start the process of creating a blog. When setting up your blog, do not use your full name but rather use either a persona or just your first name. Perhaps use your class code first so the addresses will be similiar. Do not go ahead of me as I want us to get this done correctly.

For an example, let’s look at one I started yesterday. Life of Pi Blog

What is possible with Web 2.0 Tools

Each 8th grade student completes an independent project on a scientific topic. Many do PowerPoint, Movies plus a posterboard. Here are two students who took a different route because the tools were available. Here are the links to the web sites that two of our science students built for their Independent Projects and one students movie on smoking.


Red Hat Films Us Moodling/Learning

Red Hatted Students

Red Hat software was here today to film Mrs. Ward’s 8th grade science class using the DAILE Moodle. The students were studying clouds and used the assignment, quiz, web page modules to study and identify clouds. Red Hat was here as being an open source software company they are keenly interested in how Moodle is being used in schools. They see Moodle as an essential technological tool for any successful one to one laptop program. I could not agree more. At the end of the period, all students were given Red Hat swag. Look for our video on the RedHatMagazine web site soon. Thanks to Mrs. Ward for jumping on board to show how DA uses Moodle. What role could all of this open source software play in our future?

Lady Red Hatters

The Constitution Project

For the 8th grade History Project, we will use the web sites that Mrs. Longee has shown you during your time in the library. As Mr. Dahlgren and Mr. Costello have outlined the project:

Over the next several days, you will be working to produce a  project demonstrating an understanding of the Constitution of the United States.
You may choose what type of technology that you like in your production of this Constitution project.  From Power Point or Keynote, to a Podcast, to using Word to create a booklet or diary, ing the software “Pages” to create a flyer/brochure , Comic Life to create a book, to iMovie (using still images) or even a colletion of songs created from Garageband, your work needs to answer specifically assigned questions on the Constitution.  If you choose a podcast, movie, songs or even a Power Point /Keynote presentation, you need to produce a script before beginning production.  Think about your comfort level when choosing the type of product. Challenge yourself, but do not take on more then you can do in the time you will be given. 

In your Constitution project, whatever the form, the following topics need to be covered:

1)  The purpose of the Constitution?
2)  When, where and by whom was it written?
3)  Identifying and defining the parts of the Constitution
4) The idea of Separation of Powers
5) The system of Checks and Balances
6) The principle of Federalism
7) The importance of the Bill of Rights
8)  And finally, a brief assessment of why the
Constitution is important in our study

Web Sites to use:

Ben’s Guide 

Library of Congress – American Memory 

Wikipedia – as a secondary reference. There are good links to images and other sites as well.