Monday, December 8, 2008

The Wonderful Word of Wordle!

What the heck is a Wordle? Well, I took the explanation from the Wordle website and put it into Wordle and this is what I got!From the look of things above it is about clouds, text and the frequency a word appears.

Wordle in the words of Wordle:

Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends.

How will this apply to Educators?

The possibilities are limitless.

Here is how it works.

I asked myself the question: What do you think of when I say "Christmas"?

I went to Wordle and typed in my answer:

Click on "Go" and this appeared:

This is a neat little Word Cloud that can be customized by the user. Click on the RANDOMIZE button and you get something completely different:
I asked a colleague to take a look at the wordle above and tell me what the question it answed. She answered "What Christmas means to me?".

If I typed the word Christmas 5 times and the other words just once I produced the Wordle below:

Obviously Christmas is the dominant word. Try it out yourself at Wordle.

This is what our new Secondary Assessment and Evaluation Document produced:

I made my Wordle so now what?

The word clouds you create are yours. Feel free to save them and use them later. Use SCREENHUNTER to capture your new Wordle and save it as a graphic.

Education Applications:

  • Wordle is about the love of words. You can give a wordle to your class and ask students to write about what it means to them. Pefect for a thought starter, unit intro, or ice breaker.
  • Include a number of words that are motivational to you and create your own motivational poster.
  • Encourage student's to copy and paste an essay previously completed into Wordle. The main idea should be prevalent in the word cloud created. If it isn't maybe the writer can explain why? Maybe the word cloud should have been obvious or not but either way a discussion will ensue!
  • Students can experiment and learn on their own how Wordle works. The greater the frequency a word appears in a document the more prominence the word is given in the cloud. This could be a fantastic literacy/numeracy experiment that could be very enjoyable.
  • Insert a poem or story to get a visual representation.
  • An Advanced Wordle site exists where you can build more robust Wordles at Wordle Advanced.
If you did find this Blog useful or you came up with some better uses of Wordle please use the COMMENT feature on the Blog and post your thoughts! We can all benefit.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Google, Not Just A Search Engine!

The New York Times reported Google's release of a new website designed to detect regional outbreaks of the flu a week to 10 days before they are reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The website is called Google Flu Trends. The site uses aggregate Google search data to estimate flu activity in each state. They believe they can estimate flu activity up to two weeks faster than goverment flu survellance systems. This is not available for Canada as of yet.

The graph below has shows past flu outbreaks from last year. Flu Trends:
"Each week, millions of users around the world search for online health information. As you might expect, there are more flu-related searches during flu season, more allergy-related searches during allergy season, and more sunburn-related searches during the summer. You can explore all of these phenomena using Google Trends. But can search query trends provide an accurate, reliable model of real-world phenomena?"

I am sure this will open up a whole new science where Google uses user searches as suggested above but to what end and what accuracy?

This site can be used in a number of grade levels in a numeracy or literacy exercise to analyze trends and data. If you can come up with some specific practical uses please share with others and comment here! Don't forget to do your own trend searches at Google Trends!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Stay Current with Newseum!

Today I will be talking about a neat resource for a World Issues topic, literacy exercise, or even just a current events discussion.

The big news last night was the Election of a new U.S. president Barack Obama. A neat way to look at the effect of this event or any other current event for that matter is a site called Newseum. Newseum displays daily newspaper front pages from around the world in their original, unedited form. The papers can be sorted according to region, country and more. Take a look at todays Newseum .

There is an archive of front pages from past events but the events are major American and world issues. For example I could not locate the Canadian Election on October 12th, 2008.

The front pages are not edited or altered so consider your audience when sharing this site.
Each front page will give you a link to the source paper. You can usually find additional information on a topic without logging in.

Don't forget the WINDSOR STAR resource located in the board's student portal. Students and teachers have access to 10 Canadian Regional papers. Click Here to visit the student portal.


This site came to my attention from Rodd Lucier (E-Learning RELC) who picked it up from Will Richardson.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Do NOT Call Part 2

Registry swamped
The Windsor Star
01 Oct 2008

Consumers eager to add their phone numbers to the newly launched national Do Not Call list to block telemarketers ran into trouble on Tuesday when the website crashed on its first day and the telephone sign-up number was not accessible. The more...

The website crashed multiple times Tuesday and only allowed for 157,000 people to register. The phone line allowed for 74,445 to register. Don't give up just keep trying.

Remember you can add any number to the list and Telemarketers get 31 days to take you off their lists!

To Register:


Phone: 1-866-580-3625

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


I don't know about you, but enjoy being interrupted 4 to 6 times an evening with telemarketers trying to turn my phone into their business! No, not really...

The good news is relief is here! According to the Windsor Star article "REGISTER TODAY FOR DO NOT CALL LIST" you can call a number or visit a website and 31 days later you can have your phone back to yourself without telemarketers.

Bell Canada won the contr
act to operate the list for 5 years based on the authority of Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

This will not stop all of the calls however,
charities, political parties, polling companies, newspapers selling subscriptions and organizations with which the consumer has an existing business relationship can still contact you.

Here is the contact information:

To register call 1-866-580-3625 or visit HERE.

I would guess this is popular because when I visited the website I received this message:

The site is down temporarily. My guess is everyone in the country is trying to log on at once, including the telemarketers. I would like to say more but I think the phone is ringing...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Do You Believe?

The reason we are all in this together...

I found this from one of the blogs I like to read. I hope you liked it...

Google Chrome is HERE!

What the heck is Google Chrome? Chrome is Google's new browser de
signed make your internet experience faster and easier.  Google leaked or "accidently" distributed a comic outlining the new product.   You can view that here. The comic outlines the reason why Google Chrome was created.

Why is this a big deal?

This is Google's latest attempt at tapping into the open source software
markets where they will acually give code aw
ay and not just take it. Google will battle microsoft on yet another front.
Competition is good for us, the consumer! Currently 
there are really only two popular brow
sers out there. Interent Explorer holds 74% of the market with Mozilla coming in second with 18%.

Should you download Google Chrome??

Downloading Chrome certainly can
not hurt as it doesn't update or replace any of your current browsers. Chrome stands alone. So if you are into trying new things then give it a try!

Google Chrome was released today around 3:00 pm at the link below.

Internet Explorer has also posted a new beta with exciting new features for it. This is one worth a look also.  Download it here

Chrome was a small download and easy to install:

Choose Download

Accept the Usage Agreement

You are done!  Happy Surfing!


When you open a tab Chrome automatically lists web clip images of your favourite sites to visit!

There is only one Box to type into.  The box is called the "omnibar"  You can type in a search or website in the same box.  As you type many suggestions will pop up for you to choose.

Main Features:

One box for everything
Type in the address bar and get suggestions for both search and web pages.

Thumbnails of your top sites
Access your favorite pages instantly with lightning speed from any new tab.

Shortcuts for your apps
Get desktop shortcuts to launch your favorite web applications.

I will post a review of the new GOOGLE CHROME and I.E. 8 in the future so check back soon.  Feel free to post any of your comments on this blog about the new browsers.

Saturday, August 9, 2008 - File Storage and Whole Lot More!

It has been awhile since I have written. The main reason would be due to the "fun" summer has to offer. However, I am back today to talk about DROP.IO . Dropio is impressive as it is FREE, EASY and POWERFULL way to share files on the web. Each Dropio dropbox offers 100MB of space. You can have as many as you like! This is not an original idea as there are other sites like it such as dropbox and boxnet. The difference is dropio is simple. You don't need to sign up and the interface is very clean.

Why use Dropio?The main purpose of dropio is to upload files to share, store, or backup. YuThe really neat part is how you can do this. You could simply go to the website and enter in a name (like Unit 1 pics) on the dropio screen and poof you have 100MB of space to store music, word files, videos, or whatever else. You can create as many as you want. So for each name you enter you get a new site and a fresh 100MB. You can password protect your files so you are the only one to access your files.

WEB: Dropio is not just about you saving files but also others. You could allow students or colleagues save files to your dropio area for quick and effiecient data collection.

Widget: Post the dropio widget on your web site, wiki, blog or whatever and visitors can store files to your dropio space! All video and documents can be EMBEDDED on your web site so your material can be accessed without leaving your site.

Keep in Touch: Users can use RSS, SMS, and Email alerts to keep tabs on what material is posted on your dropio files space.

Advanced / Cool Uses:

For those who want to push the limit there are some neat options for you.

Phone: Users can call a number given to you with your site and it will record your message and store it in your dropio drop as an mp3 player. This is podcasting at it's easiest and quickest level. Call in messages, homework assignments, or material which will immediately be available on your drop.

Fax: Users can fax the number assigned to there drop and the fax will be posted on the drop.

Email: Email a message or an attachment which will be posted for all to access. Use a password to restrict who can access the information and who can't!

Twitter: You can have your dropio posts automatically be updated on your twitter account.

Piclens: Your dropio dropbox is coded to work with the PICLENS attachment to your browser of choice. This is an add on that will display your pictures in a fantastic montage accross your screen. A must for anyone who views a lot of images on the web!

So what is the catch? Your dropbox will expire a year from the day it is last used. So if someone accesses your dropbox at least once a year it will last forever.

Contact me with any questions...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Summer Institute -GET CONNECTED

Get Connected with Technology!
ICT Summer Institute Presents

This workshop is open to out of board participants. Email

Will Richardson will discuss how teachers and administrators can use the web to enrich your classroom activities. Learn how to use the web to work more efficiently and create your own network for research and resource sharing. Will is a former teacher and uses his experience to provide practical examples of web 2.0 classroom solutions.

In Addition:

On August 22nd Doug Sadler will run two hands on workshops where teachers can focus on just a few web 2.0 tools that can be used in class.

August 22nd (AM - CEC) The Wonderful World of WIKIS

Doug will spend the morning walking teachers through the use of Wikis in the classroom. Wikis are collaborative web sites that can be used for information dissemination or actual interaction with students such as threaded discussions in a controlled environment. In order to build a wiki you will need 7 minutes and access to a browser, that's it! Teachers are using wikis for class web pages, discussion groups, peer editing, homework boards, calendars and access to resources. Come out and build yours!

Register at PD Place 1852

August 22nd (PM - CEC) Google Applications, Tools 2 Go for your Students

Whether you use them for yourself or apply them in your class Google Applications is a must have for you! Google applications (Google Apps) are free online tools that allow you to create, store, edit, and share Word, Powerpoint, and Excel files online. No more usb drives, no more wordperfect, no more out of disk space. Want to conduct an online quiz/test with no fuss? Sign up and find out how.

We offer a student version of Google Apps where your students will have access to the same tools but in a controlled online site. Students can share files, peer edit, and collaborate in one space. Learn how Google Apps can work for you.

Register at PD Place 1853

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Google Docs Updates!

Google Docs had updated again! Big surprise I bet. Users can now upload and share .pdf files but may not edit them at this point. Editing will be a big plus but a great step forward.

  • Upload, preview & share PDFs
    One of our top feature requests is now implemented: upload, preview and share PDFs in Google Docs! Click the Upload button in the Docs list to get started. While you can't yet edit PDFs, you can at least select text to copy & paste elsewhere. You can also share PDFs just like you can share your regular Google Docs. Learn more.
    Upload, preview & share PDFs

Monday, June 2, 2008

ClassMouse VS Student Link 2


Currently our board licenses Student Link 2. Student Link 2 is a simple menu system that gets elementary students to thousands of appropriate, curriculum - based web sites as quickly as possible. There is a link for Staff in the Staff Portal which contains special resources, links, grading materials, and lessons that are all categorized. For ease of use there is also a student version link to Student Link 2 just for Students which is located in the Student Portal. WECDSB has used this resource for years.

Recently a new product to compete with Student Link 2 has come to my attention. There are some similarities and there are some differences but that is where you come in. I would like you to use our board's test login to access ClassMouse and check it out. Post your comments on this blog (anonymous or not is up to you!). Hearing good or bad feedback is just as valuable. I can't see the board paying for both systems so please tell me which one you like the best and I will take the findings to our Administration to consider. Feel free to download as much of the material as you see fit. Be sure to view it as a teacher and as one of your students. The same link will take you to the STAFF and STUDENT login. Content is important but so ease of use. Check it out!



How do I check out what ClassMouse is all about??

1. Goto
2. Enter Username: Windsor
3. Password: Staff

Don't forget to post your comments here!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Creative Commons and Copyright

Do you post any content on the web?

Use a Creative Commons license to protect your blog, wiki, video, photo, or podcast. The process is very easy and free.

Join the web 2.0 revolution and publish some of your own content. Teachers have loads of content so why not share some of it!

Choose your method on how to get your information on the web using a BLOG, WIKI, or PODCAST for example.

Once you have posted it on the web you can visit the creative commons website to get your free license stipulating how your materials may be used by others. The license for this blog can be found on the right panel.

The registration form is shown below:

Share, Remix, Reuse — Legally

Creative Commons provides free tools that let authors, scientists, artists, and educators easily mark their creative work with the freedoms they want it to carry. You can use CC to change your copyright terms from "All Rights Reserved" to "Some Rights Reserved."

We're a nonprofit organization. Everything we do — including the software we create — is free.

I believe people will be more apt to respect copyright once they have published their own work and went through the process to protect it.


Saturday, May 3, 2008

Free Is Good! Free Music is BEST!

Is there a new trend in music releases? Free is good! Free and Legal is Better! Click on the "ViVa" graphic to the left to download your copy of ColdPlay's new single "Violet Hill". Trent Reznor, lead singer of Nine Inch Nails upped the ante and just released their new album in multiple formats for free. Click on NIN below to get yours.

The website actually encourages you to share it and even add to it if you wish. The album called "The Slip" is licensed under a creative commons attribution non-commercial share alike license.

"we encourage you to remix it
share it with your friends,
post it on your blog,
play it on your podcast,
give it to strangers,

We all know how important copyright is. Click HERE to learn how to license your work!

It was considered a big deal when Coldplay decided to give away a song on April 29th from their new album but now we are seeing unprecedented generosity or a publicity stunt by artists giving away an entire album. For the longest time we overpaid to listen to the latest and greatest of bands we like but now they are just giving it away. Even if you don't like the music it must make you wonder... These are not artists starving for attention or looking for their start.

What is the catch? Is this a new trend? How long will it last? Time will tell.

Monday, April 21, 2008

How "SMART" is your Classroom

Teacher Tube and Smart Technologies have teamed up to offer a contest for Teachers to show off how a SmartBoard is used in their class. If you are lucky enough to use a SmartBoard in your class you may want to enter! All you have to do is produce a 30 second commercial that demonstrates how your class takes advantage of the Smartboard. Creativity and technological wizardry is a plus!

Here is an excerpt from their site:

SMART Technologies is teaming up with TeacherTube to offer the Extraordinary Moments Video Contest. We're looking for 30-second commercials that best answer this question: How do SMART products help you create extraordinary moments in your classroom?

Creativity counts. So does technological wizardry. But most of all we'd like to see how you and your students use technology to create a fun, interactive learning environment.

If you are a winner you can earn a prize package worth $3500 and a trip to NECC 2008 in San Antonio, Texas. You will premiere your commercial at the conference.

For more information click HERE:

If you are interested and would like some help don't hesitate to contact Doug Sadler for some help!

Windsor - Essex Gas Prices

Gas prices are out of control and are continuing to rise. Use the web to help find lower gas prices. This site is not new but may be new to you! tracks the price of gas at our local Essex-County and Windsor stations. The chart on the left shows how you can sort the stations by price so you can see if a cheaper station is near you or perhaps you should try and fill up tomorrow. Remember a year ago when you felt a dollar a litre was ridiculous!! Click on the graphics for more information.

Friday, April 4, 2008

HOMEWORK- Where do we stand? More, Less, Status Quo?

Toronto considers limits to homework
The Windsor Star
02 Apr 2008

Canada’s largest school board is considering banning homework during holidays and long weekends, the centrepiece of a proposed policy that is sparking calls for other boards to review their practices and counter a growing backlash against a “culture of... read more...

I wanted to put on my A&E hat again and discuss this one. I am sure there are many opinions across the board and hopefully you will voice yours!

The Toronto District School Board has decided to tackle the homework question. How much is too much? Apparently Weekends and Holidays could be off limits in Toronto.

It seems like students are getting even less oppourtunity with higher expectations, or does it? Maybe homework is not the answer? In 2000 changes were made in the Secondary panel that condensed 5 years of high school for University bound students into 4. There was a considerable amount of overlap in the curriculum that was removed however, condensing a 5 year program into 4 is still translates into an increase in expectations for students. The Elementary panel was also given a more robust curriculum that demands more from students. None of this is news to a teacher but it is clear we are expecting more than in the past. The Ministry of Education dictated a new assessment and evaluation guideline that was outlined in the Ministry Document "Grades 9 to 12 Program Planning and Assessment Guide". Assessment and evaluation changed significantly for both Elementary and Secondary. The secondary policy reads:

"Seventy per cent of the grade will be based on evaluations conducted throughout the course.
This portion of the grade should reflect the student’s most consistent level of achievement
throughout the course, although special consideration should be given to more recent
evidence of achievement."

This statement actually encourages teachers to evaluate more however, teachers have been told by the Ministry we evaluate too much. They want teachers to do more assessment and less evaluation. Students need more practice and feedback before they are evaluated. This is probably true but homework is assessment and although differenciated instruction gurus suggest it is only one of many strategies that should be employed it is certainly a popular one. Do we take up all this homework anyway? Do we assign too much or too little?

So where do we stand on this issue? Would the world stop if we didn't send home homework on Friday's and before Holidays? Are PD days considered Holidays? We know where the students stand but what about the parents? Talk about a cultural shift!

In order to obtain a grade based on the most consistent level of achievement the larger the sample the better. So which is it? Does the Ministry want more or less? I have always found the Ministry to be inconsistent on this issue. Perhaps they will shed some more light on this issue in 2009 when they release their new policy document on Assessment and Evaluation.

Until then, what do you think?

Join Blogger and post here.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Office 2007 Plugin for Office 2000, XP, 2003

I had a discussion today with David Petro who informed me there was a plugin or add-on you could get to allow older version of Office work with new Office 2007 files.

From the site:

"By installing the Compatibility Pack in addition to Microsoft Office 2000, Office XP, or Office 2003, you will be able to open, edit, and save files using the file formats new to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007. The Compatibility Pack can also be used in conjunction with the Microsoft Office Word Viewer 2003, Excel Viewer 2003, and PowerPoint Viewer 2003 to view files saved in these new formats. For more information about the Compatibility Pack, see Knowledge Base article 924074."

So if you are interested click on the Microsoft graphic above to access the files needed.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Office 2007 Files and Your Classroom

The top sales months for new computer purchases are October, November, and December. This year many families received their new computers on the PC side, with Microsoft VISTA and Microsoft Office 2007. Some liked the changes and some did not.

Microsoft's new operating system called
"Vista" has received mixed reviews but is the only new purchase alternative unless you switch to XP after the fact and at a cost. However, once users go through the learning curve of the new system interface and updates, Vista is finally starting to be embraced by the public.

With the advent of Vista and Office 2007 we are just starting to experience their e
ffects in the classroom as users adopt both products.

Vista Desktop:
Office 2007 Menu:

Office 2007 has undergone a pretty thorough revamp with new flexible menus and features. One major change is the file format Office 2007 now employs. This change applies to all the Office 2007 programs such as Word and Excel. An "x" is placed after the normal file extension. For example (.doc) for a Word file is now (.docx). The problem with the little "x" is the file can only be opened by Office 2007 and no other version of Microsoft Office. I have encountered many situations where teachers and students are at school and cannot print, edit or submit their work electronically as the files created with Office 2007 are incompatible with the software available at school currently. I have written instructions for Office 2007 users to take advantage of the "save as" option and save files in the old (.doc) format so you can use the software at school. Saving in the old (.doc) format can cause a loss some functionality of some of the cool new features. I also have a solution for individuals who need to do a conversions at school without any software!

Help for Teachers:
Click HERE for the TEACHER solution:

Help for Students:
Click HERE for a Link for STUDENTS to access:

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The One Way Email Address (Dropbox)

Do you every wish you could give out your email address to students so they can submit assignments electronically? Although this can save time and be a great convenience it can be a problem too. Perhaps you don't want to give your address out to students or you would rather not be subjected to the interesting user names your students find appropriate, but are not!

This can be easily done with a Gmail account and an address provided by your Google Docs. Full instructions can be found at .

Cluster Map