Please let me know

With the changes to Edublogs requiring that users be a supporter to use the plugins, I am considering moving this blog permanently to another blog that I maintain at If you are reading this post at my Edublog blog, could you please consider changing to the site and let me know that you are a subscribed reader to this blog? I can’t monitor or track usage anymore and am not sure if it is worthwhile to maintain this blog. Thanks!

My other blog site:

Email address to let me know:


01514Those who know me well know that I am interested and fascinated by the advancements in webconferencing websites and tools. I have seen first hand how using this type of technology in the classroom is very cost effective when using only a laptop/computer, project, webcam, microphone and external speakers. Most classrooms have at least one computer setup in the room or have access  to the equipment just referenced. I have a wiki featuring tools, software, tips and strategies to use this medium to enrich instruction at As a result, I am always on the lookout for any type of tool or website that can assist people wanting to use webconferencing to bring in subject matter experts, extend the flat classroom or have students study and interact with different cultures around the world.

I recently came across a site called “Scriblink – Your Online Whiteboard“. This site allows you to invite people to participate via a long distance phone call, VOIP, or via a URL. I created a test session at DD1CF8D347D14450E7E that you are welcome to click on to see the setup.

If you click on the ∏ (Pi) symbol you can access special math, symbols and characters. I tried to do this but could not get the special characters or symbols to embed in the whiteboard. You can upload images and Scriblink Whiteboardhave those embedded in the whiteboard as well.

The colors of the writing pen and pencil can be changed along with the thickness of each instrument. The background can also be changed and they have great choices to choose from. I couldn’t find a way to find a softer color as most of the colors for the background are very bright and wouldn’t be conducive in many collaboration sessions.

This has potential for classrooms that don’t have a whiteboard or if you wanted students to collaborate on one document/whiteboard area. You could also collaborate with colleagues online and use the URL for everyone to get together for a meeting. There are some exciting possibilities here despite the one bug that I encoutered. Overall, it is definitely worth checking out and giving it a trial run.

We Are Teachers Microgrant

micrograntAs part of the We Are Teachers community, I applied for one of their $200 microgrants.  The ten applicants who receive the most votes will win the money to fund the project described in the microgrant application.

My grant is about integrating fine arts in digital storytelling activities to increase student achievement, self-esteem and learning. Please take a few moments to visit the We Are Teachers site and vote for my microgrant entitled, “Whose Line is It?”. My application is listed as the last one of the first page of applicants at At the time of this post I am in third place – please vote so that I stay in the top 10 and am award the microgrant funding! Thank you!

What is your Six Word Inaugural Address?

President Obama's Inauguration Speech -prblog's photostreamWhile reading some educational blogs online today, I came across an article on the Teacher Leaders Network website. The article was entitled, “Six-Word Inaugural Addresses“, and referred to a challenge to create an inaugural address with only six words. The challenge was originally issued by the National Constitution Center.

When SMITH Magazine and the National Constitution Center invited Americans to write six-word inauguration addresses (or, more accurately, “six words to inspire a nation”), we were reminded that in six words a President can say a lot. In his 1961 inaugural address, for example, John F. Kennedy told the world that America would “pay any price, bear any burden” to assure the success of liberty.

The winning phrase in this year’s SMITH-NCC contest was submitted by Donna Formica-Wilsey of Philadelphia, PA, who wrote: “Divided by fear, united in hope.”

To accompany this blog post I was looking for an image on flickr in the creative commons area and came across the wordle I uploaded here using President Obama’s inauguration speech text – I think the image captures the essence and power of words to inspire and motivate.

In the spirit of the recent inauguration of President Obama I pose this same challenge to you: what would your six word inaugural address be?

Teacher Uses Webcam to Deliver Lessons

While reading one of my email feeds, I came across a story that I found fascinating about a teacher who is out on medical leave and is using a webcam to conference online with his students. Frank Wilson, government teacher at Bishop Watterson High School in Columbus, Ohio, recently had knee surgery and didn’t want his students to fall behind while recovering. Wilson is a veteran educator of 47 years and teaches his Advanced Placement (AP) government students from the basement of his home.

According to the article in the Columbus, Ohio newspaper titled “Government teacher conducts class from home basement“,

With the support of Watterson administrators, class was in session live from Wilson’s basement.

The Web cam allowed Wilson to see, teach, and carry on discussion with his students from his basement, Winters said. They could see him on the projector screen, and he could see them on his computer.

“My students all have Tablet PCs, and our government classes are almost paperless,” Wilson said.

“We use the computers for everything, including testing online.”

“To be honest, this program has allowed me to continue to teach,” he said, adding the classes went well with minimal disruption.

“I could not have done this without the support of our technology department and individual staff members who were willing to sit in the classroom and take attendance for me.”

mwsnap010691For liability purposes Wilson had an adult in the classroom at all times but I can certainly relate to being concerned that your students will not progress or lose direction whenever you out. Twenty years ago when I  first started teaching we were out of the classroom for staff development quite often. It was always difficult to pick up the pieces upon my return and leave meaningful instructional activities while I am out. Several times throughout my career, I have been asked to step in and take over a class while a teacher is ill or on maternity leave. A teacher cannot risk not having students adequately prepared for performance on high stakes tests and trust part of the preparatory work  be done by a substitute teacher. We all know good subs are out there although they are hard to find and keep for an extended period of time. The idea of using webcam to minimize a loss of instruction is a novel idea, although not brand new.

Teachers/trainers have been using webcam/videoconferencing equipment to provide distance education for a number of years. The number of virtual high schools is growing by leaps and bounds and the use of this technology greatly benefits small, rural districts that have limited funding and a lack of teachers specializing in the math/science content areas. I have become a huge fan and proponent of using this medium to enrich instruction and started a wiki to serve as a repository of resources, training and discussions at I would love the opportunity to teach or facilitate a class online – certification issues and not having a master’s degree have hindered me personally in this area but the opportunities are out there.

While Wilson finishes recuperating at home, his students are benefiting from the interactive technology he is  using to deliver his government lessons online. The success of this venture comes from the support of the administration, network infrastructure to facilitate this endeavor and the dedication of the teacher and students. A deficiency in any one of those areas will severely impact the project but when each piece comes together to provide interactive and quality instruction to students there is no finer instrument to provide distance education.

What is Googlepedia?

I knew it wouldn’t be long before Google somehow combined resources with Wikipedia. Sure enough, there is now a search tool called ‘Googlepedia’ for Firefox/Mozilla browser users. I use Flock exclusively and added the Googlepedia add-on to my browser and gave it a trial run.

After performing a search for Googlepedia , I received the following search results:


Links to sites resulting from my search are listed on the left and on the right side of the page is a Wikipedia entry on the keyword used in the search. Often times I have wanted a definition as well as sites that used a term I was searching for and with this add-on I am able to have links to websites featuring the searched term as well as any related Wikipedia entries. I will definitely use this feature often and so excited about this time saving feature in search results. Thanks Google!

Sharing ShareTabs

sharetabs-imageRecently I was made aware of ShareTabs and wanted to share this unique resource with you. Ever since I discovered the website I have been a devout fan! is a great way to share a list of resources and is incredibly convenient. I could see it having great potential for use in the classroom. Instead of creating hotlists of resources and uploading the document to a shared server or online storage site, you can enter the sites and create a sharetab of the resources.

With ShareTabs you can create a very powerful list of resources. As shown on the ShareTabs site ,

ShareTabs – The easy way to share your links as tabs

Add a list of links to the form below and submit it to get a single link to them all, conveniently displayed in tabs. Great for sharing in Email, IM, Twitter, or SMS.

sharetabs2In my last post I shared with you that Peggy George were co-hosting a weekly broadcast on Saturdays called “Classroom 2.o LIVE!” show.  The topic for our first show was personal learning networks and the need for a PLN. If you missed the live show you can listen to and read the chat in the show archive. For reference during the show and for listeners to use as a tool to follow up after the show I created a sharetabs of our PLN resources. I used the name and topic of the show as the name for the URL: You can also click on the image to the left to view the ShareTabs page I created.

To create a ShareTab, enter the list of URLs for the resources you want to show on the preview page of the ShareTab. The ShareTabs websitesharetabs3 compiles all of the websites and shows a thumbnail of each website with its accompanying URL underneath the thumbnail. In addition to the thumbnail images, a tab at the top of the page is created for each URL. Arrows are located on the far left and right of the tabs so that you can access tabs that may not be currently visible.

If you were using ShareTabs with students you could create a URL that was easy for the students to remember to access resources that were bookmarked for a specific project or assignment. This is especially useful if you deal with time constraints, younger students or need to minimize the time used searching for resources. In my experience working with elementary students, it can be time consuming to have students search for a topic on Google and determine if the site is a valid resource or not. Using ShareTabs can eliminate that and maximize the time students spend working on the computer.

2008 – A Year in Review


Starting Saturday, January 10, 2009, my career will take will venture into uncharted waters. As part of Classroom 2.0, founded by Steve Hargadon, I will be co-hosting a weekly show with Peggy George featuring issues, events and leaders of the educational technology field. This past summer I participated in the Webcast Academy with Jeff Lebow and Doug Symington. Jeff and Doug are expert webcasters and host live shows on EdTechTalk. Participating in the academy lit a fire within me to learn as much as possible about webcasting, streaming, online tools and software applications so I created a wiki to serve as a repository of information about webcasting (commonly referred to as videoconferencing) called the ‘Caise Files‘.

Through the academy, I expanded my personal learning network (PLN) and made some great contacts. Steve Hargadon and Dr. Peggy George are two of those contacts. I joined the Classroom 2.0 Ning and collaborated a great deal with Peggy George who has become a mentor, friend and fellow blogger. I am so honored to be asked to co-host with Peggy and appreciate the opportunity to be a part of this collaborative effort to further educational technology initiatives and learning about tech tools for all levels of users. All ed tech newbies are welcome and encouraged to join us each week!

A brief show introduction and invite is featured on the main page of the Classroom 2.0 Ning and is pasted below:

Friday, January 2nd, at 10:00am Pacific / 1:00pm Eastern (link to other time zones), Peggy George, Kim Caise, and I will host the live Classroom 2.0 year-end webcast meeting and show: “What We Learned in 2008.”

If you’ve never been to a “webmeeting,” they are a lot of fun and this is a good place to come and get your feet wet! We hope you will come and tell us all about the new ideas, techniques, tools, books, and conversations around educational technology that made 2008 special for you. (Send your 2008 top-ten lists to–we’ll post all of them, and even ask some of you to present them on air!) We’ll also virtually celebrate the growth of Classroom 2.0 this past year, our great hosts, the winning of the 2008 Edublog Award for “best use of a social networking service in education,” and more. We’ll also get your ideas for what 2009 should bring!

More information and a link to the live show. Hope you’ll join us! (And if you can’t, don’t worry, we’ll be recording it…)

mwsnap01013This Friday after all or your new year celebrations are over and one, please join us as we review and celebrate the extensive list of things we learned in 2008 in a year-end live broadcast in Elluminate.  Bring your top 10 list and be sure to share your list in the Classroom 2.0 wiki. Happy new year and see you Friday!

“Seven Things about Me” Meme

Recently, Skip Z tagged me on his blog and plurk to participate in the “Seven Things about Me” meme sweeping the blogosphere.  According to Wikipedia,

“A meme (pronounced /miːm/) comprises a unit or element of cultural ideas, symbols or practices; such units or elements transmit from one mind to another through speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena.”

So, as part of the meme, I am to  list seven things about myself that people may not know , or may need to know, in an effort to  help my PLN get to know me better. My seven things are as follow:

1.  I am a huge tv watcher and absolutely love reality shows! I was recently informed that reality shows are detrimental to actors/actresses’ careers due to not paying dues and being a part of the Screen Actor’s Guild. While I respect that sentiment, I can’t resist and love to watch people on these shows make a fool of themselves!

2.  Just about every evening is spent online playing games and chatting with my friends on Skype. I have friends in Hawaii, Arizona, Georgia,  Washington and around the world that I am very close to.  Many of my f2f friends find this strange although I am not sure why.

3.  I have been an educator for almost 20 years, about 50% of my lifetime, with only three of the past school years as a national board certified teacher. In Dec. 2006, I found out I achieved certification in the area of Career and Technical Education with a specialty in Technology Education. I have never taught a course in CATE and I not only had to learn the national board standards and curriculum but also the CATE curriculum for grades six through twelve. This was a personal professional goal for myself and was very proud of myself when I achieved certification. It was tough but glad I persisted as I really learned a great deal about accomplished teaching, refining my teaching style and reflecting upon my teaching craft.

4.  I had the best mother. She recently passed away unexpectedly in September 2008 and I greatly miss her. Mom was the most giving person I know and I hope I exude that same generosity. Countless times we were told how much Mom had touched their life and given of herself freely without any expectation of return or selfishishness. Every ounce of Mom was given to her kids or grandkids. There is a huge, gaping hole left in our hearts but are comforted knowing that Mom is in a better place free of worry, stress, pain or heartache.

5.  Although not finished, I have a few tech manuals that I have started and am considering publishing.

6.  Secretly voted for David Cook in the last American Idol finals.

7.  Love to take long baths and read mystery novels! I could never be a contender on ‘Big Brother’ or ‘Survivor’ as I wouldn’t have access to my awesome new laptop, our precious dogs and my relaxing bathtub! Oh and add my hubby to that list – can’t leave him out!

In keeping with the meme, I tag the following people:








Life with MS Office

I just bought a new laptop. After much consideration I decided to stick with Windows. I wasn’t a fan of Vista but after using it for a week I haven’t had any problems or difficulties. I am not sure what all the negative hype was about Vista but so far so good.

At present time I don’t have MS Office installed. The laptop came with MS Works although I am not a fan of this program. I considered downloading and using Open Office 3 but heard there were difficulties opening some files, especially Office 2007 files. I just recently read a post by Harold Shaw, “Life Without Office” in which he details his use of Thinkfree Office 3.

I checked out Thinkfree and learned Thinkfree isn’t free, the version linked above is $49 which pales in comparison to the Office 2007 price. With Google docs, Zoho and many other free web applications I am not sure that I would need Office. I do want and miss not having MS Outlook for email as I miss not having folders to store email. I am using gmail right now but don’t like being limited to only labels and filters in gmail. I haven’t tried Thunderbird but may look into that as using gmail is getting a bit tedious with the organization.

What are your thoughts and opinions on using Open Office or other web applications instead of using MS Office? Will I miss Office? Is there life without MS Office?