Sites of the Week- Election Week 2012

6 11 2012

Tracking Election Results

Interactive polling site where you can play with maps, graphs, polls and election returns as a way of exploring different paths to the White House.

USA Today Electoral Vote Tracker

Play with the interactive maps for this year’s election as well as elections dating back to 1960. How has the Nation changed over time? What are the issues the shaped this change? How do these patterns reflect the changing economy, domestic and foreign policies, and demographic trends in the Nation?

New York Times- Electoral Map: Building a Path to Victory

Another approach to visualizing the expected distribution of electoral votes. This site is interactive allowing you to make comparisons.

Balance of Power

The site had a contest inviting people to develop different ways to visualize the election. The winner is a visualization called the Balance of Power. You can see and explore this winning entry and read about the data that was used to create this dynamic graphic. It is best viewed full screen.

Political Engagement Map- Explore engagement with candidates’ Tweets

You have heard the pollsters and pundits. How does this compare with the conversation that is taking place in social media sites such as Twitter? Check out the Political Engagement Map where levels of engagement with candidates tweets is visualized on a map. This site is dynamic as the tweets are still flying. Check this out and see how it changes over time. This link takes you to the dynamic map as well as an explanation on how it works.

The Economist: Daily Graphics

Each day, The Economist provided a different graphic to visualize aspects of the 2012 election. This is a great collection and is well worth exploring. You can also view a 90 second video that takes you on a wild ride of rising and falling expected electoral votes as they changed daily over the year. Can you find the time when “You didn’t build that” and the 47% entered the narrative? This truly looks like a horse race.

Note: Sites of the Week is a service that I provide for the Greenhill Learning Community as part of an ongoing professional development and learning effort. It is shared here as a way to provide these collections to a larger community. Feel free to add to the community through the comment feature of this blog.


Sites of the Week [Week 18]

20 01 2012

18.1 Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)

This site from Purdue appears to provide a wealth of information on many aspects of writing and the writing process. I have linked you to the grade 7-12 resources. However, this site has far more than this. If you teach writing (and most of us do in some way linked to our disciplines), this site has something for you. Here are a few other sections you might want to explore:

  • Writing across the curriculum (covers writing for science)
  • Poetry in writing courses
  • E-mail Etiquette
  • College level writing

18.2 WearaBraille

This is where technology is making a real difference in people’s lives and is one of the most amazing things I have seen in the field of adaptive technology. Watch this short 4-minute movie and you will not be sorry. Dr. Joshua Miele received his Ph.D in Psychoacoustics (who knew there was even such a field) and is a scientist at the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute.

In this video, you will see Dr. Miele use this wearable Braille system and fully control an iPhone. What I like about this video and project, beyond that great good that is being done, is the way this type of problem is not owned by any one discipline. The research behind this device points toward the connections and synergy that exists between many different disciplines (mathematics, electronics, biology, language, design, physics, anatomy, programming, psychology and more).

For more on Joshua Miele’s work and that of the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center, check out:

18.3 Consumer Attitudes toward e-Book Reading

Today’s site is more to help everyone keep up with trends. This is a post that shares the latest from a study that looked at consumer attitudes toward the use of e-books for reading. I just flew back from Chicago last night and noticed, for the first time, a large number of individuals reading e-books rather than traditional books. Yes, I did see the collection of movies playing on various devices but the number of Nooks, Kindles, iPads and Sony Readers was noticeably higher than I had ever seen. Enough so that I actually noticed the difference. There are some nice charts from the study included in the post. It is interesting to note that academic reading is still far behind the other categories listed in the study.

18.4 SOPA and PIPA Background Information

Today’s site of the day provides context for the two images shown below (posted earlier this week- follow link above). These resources are a great place to start a discussion about copyright, laws, emerging technology and effects on society. SOPA stands for Stop Online Piracy Act and PIPA is the Protect IP Act. You can learn more about both of these from the sites below. Start with the video by Clay Shirky then explore the other sites. You can learn more about Clay Shirky at You will hear about this in the news tonight and likely for days to come.

18.5 OverDrive

I share today’s site of the day out of a pure feeling of joy and excitement of a new way (for me) of accessing books and e-books to read and enjoy. While OverDrive is one of many ways you can get media to read and listen to on your iPad, Smartphone, e-reader and/or mp3 players, I have only recently experienced the ease with which I could check out a book or recording from the local public library and immediately start enjoying it through my Android phone.

This week, while driving to work, I have been listening to a fascinating read of Six Great Scientists: Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Darwin, Marie Curie, Einstein. During this morning’s commute, I learned how Galileo invented the pendulum through the observation of a swinging chandelier during church followed by experimentation with string and a bullet while timing the swing to his pulse. Additionally, he devised a way to slow down falling objects and time accurately with water as a way to explore the rate at which objects fall. In short, he invented a water stopwatch to assist with his observations and measurements. Using an Overdrive App, this amazing audio-book was downloaded to my phone from the Richardson Public Library and is on loan to me for 21 days after which it is automatically checked back in- no late fees.

Here is how you get started.

  1. Go to a public library near you where they have subscribed to the OverDrive service and secure a library card. There are many in the Dallas Metroplex area and across the country. You can find libraries near you by going to the homepage for OverDrive and entering your zip code. Today, there were 37 options when I entered the zip code for Greenhill.
  2. Download the App for your device from the App store/Market etc. Depending on your device, you may have to also install a free application from Adobe or a special application for your Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader etc. Look for special instructions for your device.
  3. Download the OverDrive Media Console from the OverDrive site. Install on your computer and follow instructions to activate and authorize your device. This is not necessary if you are running the OverDrive app directly on your iPad, Smartphone or e-reader.
  4. Find your Library on the list through the OverDrive console and/or App and browse your library for books you want to read or hear.
  5. Enjoy

It really is that easy. You can also add additional libraries to increase your selection and availability to books and media.

SOPA / PIPA and the anatomy of a bad idea

18 01 2012

The following is a site of the day I shared with my faculty which is actually a collection of sites. Rather than waiting to post this at the end of the week, it made more sense to get it out there today as the conversation is alive and well on the Internet and in the traditional media newsrooms.

Today’s site of the day provides context for the two images shown below. These resources are a great place to start a discussion about copyright, laws, emerging technology and effects on society. SOPA stands for Stop Online Piracy Act and PIPA is the Protect IP Act. You can learn more about both of these from the sites below. Start with the video by Clay Shirky then explore the other sites. You can learn more about Clay Shirky at You will hear about this in the news tonight and likely for days to come.

Google on January 18, 2012

Wikipedia on January 18, 2012

TED TALK: Clay Shirky-
Defend our freedom to share (or why SOPA is a bad idea)

Clay Shirky speaks about SOPA, PIPA at TED and places it in context and in terms we can clearly understand.

You can learn more about Clay Shirky at
He has two very interesting and timely books and I recommend both
Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations
Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age


SOPA: Text of Bill from H.R. 3261

PIPA: Text of Bill from S.968

Google on SOPA and PIPA

Wikipedia on SOPA and PIPA

SOPA blackout: Bills lose three co-sponsors amid protests (L.A. Times)

CNN- SOPA explained: What it is and why it matters

Sites of the Week [Week 17]

6 01 2012

17.1 Bobby McFerrin hacks your brain with music

Welcome back from break. As we ring in 2012, I want to share this short video I discovered this morning that speaks volumes about how our brain works in the learning process. This short 3 minute video from TED is amazing. Watch out though, you will find yourself singing along.

Bobby sets up his audience with the beginnings of a pentatonic scale and without any verbal instruction, pulls them into a performance using this scale. When I saw this, I was amazed at how quickly the audience figured out what was going on and could play along. This makes me stop and think about the process of teaching and learning and the importance of briefly modeling then stepping out of the way to let the learning take place. So, enjoy 3 minutes with Bobby McFerrin as he hacks your brain with music.

17.2 Twitter Fall

If you don’t know what Twitter is, Start Here with this 2 minute video:

For those who are not sure about Twitter but hear about it each night on the news, here is a quick and easy way to start to explore the world of Twitter. This is Twitter Fall. It is a simple web-based program that allows you to enter searches and watch the tweets fall from the top of your screen. Tweets usually use something known as a #hashtag. This is a word with the “#” symbol attached to the front end. This is a way that an individual can categorize their tweet so others with similar interests might find it. Enter one of the following #hashtags in the search field on the left side of your screen. Click <ADD> then check the box to make that search active. You will see the tweets start to fall from the top. You can make adjustments to your feed under settings on the right and pause and start the twitter fall at the top of your screen. Here are some #hashtags to try.

#isedchat– This is hashtag used by independent school educators across the country. This group shares a tremendous amount of information and resources related to all aspects of teaching. This is a great place to learn from other educators

#edtech– This is another hashtag used by educators interested in the use of technology in education.

#teacher– This will give you a string of recent tweets that have been tagged as teacher and are likely of interest to teachers. This is a great way to find new resources and ideas.

#school– Again, this will give you tweets related to school. However, these may include tweets that are of interest to teachers as well as tweets from a student’s perspective. It is interesting to see this during the school day as there are often tweets by students who would rather not be at school. This tag seems to be more effective in the evenings.

#education– This is similar to the one above in terms of perspective but can be a great resource as well.

Of course, you don’t have to keep everything in English. Try the following



What? You don’t speak Portuguese or Spanish? No problem…However, that tip will have to wait for another day. I will just say that some of my best new finds have come from following tweets in other languages.

You can try any word, name etc in the search field. This means you can follow any world event as it is happening. Still not sure about Twitter? Just ask Scott Cotton about his Twitter experience. I just hope we don’t have to start a TA support group.

Enjoy exploring the world of Twitter. I will share more about Twitter in future postings.

17.3 Best Free Documentary Websites

This resource post is from a blog that highlights educational technology and mobile learning. Are you looking for documentary material to augment what you are doing in the class? This site might just have a source of material. Here you will find thirteen different sites that offer documentary materials. What makes this collection good is that it crosses disciplines so if you can’t find what you are looking for on one site, you have 12 others that you can explore. However, make sure you check out the videos for bias and perspective. I have found that free documentaries sites often contain documentaries with very strong biases and can come from a single perspective. That being said, this would be a great place to find material to help illustrate this for students and increase their media awareness. Happy hunting.

17.4 Essay Tagger

This site intrigues me. While I have not tried this, it looks like a site that might be useful for anyone who grades lots of student essays. The idea is that you load the student essay then use an interactive drag and drop rubric tool to tag parts of the essay and provide appropriate feedback. It is free to use while in open beta but will have a cost of $10 per month per teacher who wants to use the tool. Watch the short 4-minute video that shows how the tool works and see if it looks like something you might want to explore. If you set up a free account and test this during open beta, let me know your experience.

17.5 The Emancipation Proclamation: Freedom’s First Steps

Because of the timing of this site and were we are in the calendar related to Martin Luther King day, I felt I should send this out today rather than waiting until next week. This site provides lesson plans suitable for grades 9-12 (and possibly middle school with adaptation)that get at the guiding question: “Why was the Emancipation Proclamation important?” There are three different activities with links to many resources and suggestions for how you can expand on the lesson. This lesson comes from the National Endowment for the Humanities or EDSITEment. If you like what you see, check out some of the other resources available from

Site of the Week [Week 16]

16 12 2011

16.1 Interactive Map Maker- National Geographic Education

Here is another site for those who like or use maps in their teaching. This site is currently in Beta but has some interesting features. Build your interactive maps in layers using data related to climate, population, economics and more. What relationships can your kids discover between the economics of an area and the human footprint? What regions have the greatest population density? What relationship can be found between the major tectonic plates and the location of earthquakes? Is there also a relationship to surface elevation and these plates? There are many questions that can be explored with these easy to use maps.

16.2 National Geographic Education- Multimedia

Today’s site is also from the new education site by National Geographic and features a collection of multimedia. This appears to be a rich collection of video and images from the National Geographic collection. You are sure to find material here for your classes. Use these videos to augment your class discussions or to provide context for a future lesson and discussion. Warning though, you can get lost in all of this great content. Plan to bookmark this site and visit often for small doses of visual spender and wonder.

16.3 Interactive Math Websites for Interactive Whiteboards

This is a nice collection of interactive math tools and sites with additional collections of tools to use with your Smartboard and other interactive devices. From the wonderful National Library of Virtual Manipulatives to games for practice, this collection should have something for almost every level of math student. Use these sites in class with your board or assign them to be explored independently by your students to provide context for an upcoming lesson. This is a rich site and needs to be visited over time. Some of the material will require that you have the Smart Notebook installed while others are stand-alone interactive sites that could be freely used by students and teachers without the need for special software. What gems can you find in this collection?

16.4 Fostering a Culture of Inquiry posted on Edutopia

Today’s site comes from a posting in Edutopia that showcases the inquiry-based learning process as realized at the Calgary Science School in Alberta Canada. First a little about Edutopia. Edutopia is a site that highlights the work of the George Lucas Educational Foundation and is focused on innovation in education. This site is a rich resource for all who are involved in education today. This would make a great site to explore over vacation to see what others are doing as they reinvent education through innovative approaches to teaching and learning.

Fostering a Culture of Inquiry
The site I wish to highlight today is a post titled Fostering a Culture of Inquiry. This story provides a look at the work being done at the Calgary Science School in Alberta Canada as they implement inquiry-based approaches to learning across all areas of their curriculum. The story also provides a glimpse of their professional development model which includes Action Research and Lesson Study. By following the links in the article you may find your way to other resources including a wonderful 26 page document that walks you through the inquiry based learning approach with information that would be very helpful to those wishing to implement a similar approach in their practice. I have attached a pdf of the document which would also make a quick read and great reflective material for the holidays.

Implementing Inquiry Document- Link to PDF

16.5 Google Zeitgeist 2011

Inquiring minds want to know… That is the gist of the Google Zeitgeist, an annual report on what the world was searching for through Google. This year’s report is full of info graphics and ways to look at the data by region as well as global trends. This year’s to 10 list of global searches include

10 iPad2

9 Steve Jobs

8 東京 電力

7 Adele

6 iPhone 5

5 Battlefield 3

4 Casey Anthony

3 Ryan Dunn

2. Google+

And the most searched for term on a global scale for 2011 is….

1. Rebecca Black

Now, have some fun and dig into the global Zeitgeist by looking at the details behind these and other searches. What can you learn about human-interest stories on a global scale? What are the hot topics in the United States and how do those compare with popular searches of other regions of the world? How do these trends relate to the global climate and what was going on in the world? What do people really want to know? This list, the Google Zeitgeist, has so many possibilities in social studies, sociology, psychology, government and more. What can you do with this tally of digital traces left by billions of individual searches from 2011?

 A Zeitgeist Retrospective

For those who want to see how the Zeitgeist has changed over the past 11 years, this site contains links to all of the lists from 2001 to 2011. What do you remember about these years?

Sites of the Week [Week 15]

9 12 2011

15.1 Workflowy

Here is a simple little productivity tool for everyone who works from lists. Workflowy is a list tool. With Workflowy, you can create a free account then create a list. This list can then be easily accessed from any device that has a browser- other computers, iPhone, Android Phone, iPad, Tablets etc.

  • Prioritize your list by reordering- drag and drop.
  • Add things to your list.
  • Cross them off when completed.
  • Share your list with others through a secrete link.
  • Create a hierarchical list with main task and subtasks.
  • Export your list.
  • Annotate your list with notes.

In short, this little tool will be up and running in seconds and you will easily be able to plan a project, create a list or add order to your life and school projects.

15.2 Eyejot

This little tool will allow you to create short (60 seconds or less) video messages. These videos can then be sent via email or posted on a website. The possibilities are endless- video prompts for new lessons, student reflections and exchanges, demonstrations of competence preserved for portfolios. To see this in use, you only need to ask Mary Tapia (e-mail me) who has been using this tool for over a year now with her Spanish and French classes. She is even hoping to use Eyejot as part of a virtual exchange with students in French Speaking Africa. Watch the 60 second clip below as an example of video created with Eyejot. This video was created last year at the NAIS Annual Conference in Washington D.C. as part of the online community. What would you “Jot” about with your own Eyejot account?

Sample Eyejot Video: Welcome to NAIS 2011

15.3 Invisible People TV

With the colder weather arriving and the holidays around the corner, it reminds me that I have it really good. I have a family, friends and a home to go to each day. This is not the case for everyone. This site illustrates the power of sharing an idea through a simple blog. Through extensive video interviews with homeless individuals across the country and over multiple years, Invisible People TV have documented their stories for others to witness giving names to the homeless. Take some time over the next week or two to listen to some of these stories. You will not be sorry. This site and the peoples stories have powerful lessons for our students as well. Elements from this site could easily be worked into courses on Sociology, History and English. How about an exploration of the nature of language as captured in these stories. You could also look for common threads that run through the stories and compare them region to region. This site could also serve as inspiration for your own students to create their own version of story capture that helps make the world a better place. How will you be affected by the stories of these “Invisible People”?

15.4 Open Culture

Open Culture bills itself as a source for the best free cultural and educational media on the web. I will leave it up to you to decide as I am always leery of anything that claims to be the best. That being said, it is an interesting space and one that is rich with possibilities. Here you will find free audio books, online courses, movies, language and literature lessons, eBooks and more. As an example of some of what you might find, this little gem came from the section labeled film.

Did you see the movie Dark Knight? Do you know what film critics mean when they say, “an action scene is flawed and violates the language of film making”? Take a look at this three part lesson titled- The Dark Knight: Anatomy of a Flawed Action Scene. Now you can extend the concept of grammar to that of film making and the importance of following rules for clarity of communication and intent.

Sites of the Week [Week 14]

1 12 2011

I Know Someone (Powerful Student Video)

Today’s site is a bit different. Yesterday I was touched by a video created by Sydney Steeves. Sydney, a student in New Brunswick, mixed a simple song with images of students sharing powerful messages about the effects of bullying and what you can do to step up and stop the abuse. I was touched that such a simple project could carry such a powerful message to thousands of people. The video was first posted on YouTube November 28th and in less than a day had garnered close to 2000 views. When I discovered the video on December 1st 2011, I was viewer 6790. As many of you know, I speak far and wide about bullying and specifically that which takes place using many forms of technology. This video will become a regular part of my presentation with the challenge that everyone take a moment to watch and reflect on the past, present and future- family, friends, acquaintances. Don’t forget to also stop in front of the mirror- the most powerful reflective stop of all. This is authentic student work at its best- created for and shared with an authentic audience-to make the world a better place. Enjoy…

The Scale of the Universe

How large is the universe? How can we fathom this great expanse and the size of all that makes up this space? Here is a site that can help with this little problem and provide perspective on the immense and the very, very small. Welcome to “The Scale of the Universe”.

Gymnasium for the Brain

Here is an interesting site full of exercises, puzzles, games and pointers for “exercising” you brain. Topics range from speed math at all levels to pattern recognition and drawing tips. This site has fun for everyone as you stretch your brain. My favorites were the puzzles. I always love a good puzzle. Have fun playing in the Gymnasium for the Brain.