Wednesday, July 23, 2014

More useful sites

Being a non-techie, I'm the perfect person to write about tech things. I learn about them well after the fact and love to share them with other "slow learners." I figure if I just heard about it, it is entirely possible I might not be the absolute last to find out...

These have to do with researching on the web. In Google, you can type site:edu (subject) and get a list of websites that end in edu and reference the subject. For example, if you type site:edu Barak Obama you get a list of all education sites referencing Barak Obama. You could also type site:com (subject) and get a list of all commercial websites referencing the subject. You can also type filetype:ppt (subject) and get a list of all PowerPoints (or other file types, like doc) referencing the subject.

Have you ever typed in a URL only to find the website no longer exists? Wayback Machine, an Internet archive site, will find old URLs and deliver the archived website. Here's how it works: when you go to the Wayback Machine website, you enter a URL that no longer works, like (remember they used to sell speakers and other audio equipment?). Then, you get a timeline that shows when the website was active and when it went under. If you click on any of the years it was active, you get a calendar with certain dates highlighted by blue dots. Clicking on a highlighted date will get you to a screen shot of what the company's webpage looked like on that date.

Finally, something useful!

I usually stumble upon this kind of stuff well after everyone else...

Ever copied a link to paste into a document or email and the link was four lines long? Well, there are ways to shorten these links. Bitly has been around for a, er, bit and there is also a Google URL Shortner (thanks to Vi Richter for the heads up on this one) as well as Tinyurl (thanks to Frank Griffin for this one). All you do is copy the lengthy URL into one of these programs and a new, much shorter URL will be produced that you can then copy and paste into your document.

Tired of going to your email and finding loads of emails from LLBean, Macys, RedSox, and other sites your either consciously or unconsciously subscribed to? Periodically, I was unsubscribing to these emails, one-by-one. Well, another useful little program is called It scans your email, identifies subscription emails, lists them and allows you to either delete them or include them in a "roll up." Then, each day (unless you weren't sent any subscription emails...yeah, right) you get a "roll up" email that lists all the subscription emails which you can scan through, decide if you really want to look at any, then delete the whole lot with one click.

I've found these little programs to be very useful and, as far as I know, no Nigerian princes are involved.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

How Twitter can be used as a Powerful Educational Tool

One of the keynote speakers at the recently held 30th Annual Anja S. Greer Conference on Secondary School Mathematics, Science, and Technology was Alan November, a leader in educational technology. Throughout the week there was a lot of tweeting going on! Here's a nice article, by Alan November, on Twitter in education. And, his website contains many other interesting and relevant articles.

The Noble Academy

I'm currently working (for three weeks) at The Noble Academy in Chicago, IL. Johnny Griffith and I have been working with the Noble Charter Schools Network for the past two summers, teaching classes - Johnny three English sections, me three mathematics sections - using the Harkness philosophy developed at Phillips Exeter Academy. The past two summers were spent at Pritzker College Prep, a very successful school in the Noble Network. This was the result of an partnership formed by Exeter's Director of Summer School, Ethan Shapiro, and Pritzker's principal, Pablo Sierra. Last year the Noble Network decided to add two new schools to their network, one, The Noble Academy,  being based on the Exeter model of teaching around a table (a Harkness table) in a student-centered classroom. So, this summer, Johnny and I are teaching one section each and observing Noble teachers as they teach summer school courses around "Harkness" tables. The Noble Academy will open it's doors this fall to a class of ninth-graders, then add a class each year until it becomes a full four-year high school. It's exciting to see Exeter's philosophy of teaching used outside the friendly confines (that's a tribute to the 100th anniversary of the Chicago Cubs' Wrigley Field) of Phillips Exeter Academy.

If you're interested in reading about the Harkness method being used in schools elsewhere, here are two good sites...the blog Harkness for Thirty and The Southridge school website.