Joao Alves, a member of the  Images4Education Diigo group, bookmarked Sprixi, and I clicked through to investigate - what an interesting site!  It looks like it could be a very useful school tool.

Go to Sprixi, and enter a keyword or two for the image you'd like.  Here's a screen shot of my search for "cat" pictures. I chose the one that looks like a child's drawing.

Look at the grey bar under the picture, and the greyed out text under the bar.

The 4 columns let you choose what size you want to use - choose the largest if you're going to print, and one of the smaller ones if it's for the web.  Check the information about the image.  For the picture I'm looking at, I can see that

  • the title is  "my cat"  
  • the photographer is  " admin " 
  • I found the picture "via Sprixi.com." 
  • I can use the picture if I give credit with a link back to the author, because the 
  • Image is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution licence. 
  • The image's size is 422 x 388 pixels."
Click on the green "USE" tab, and an extended window opens:

Here you'll see the URL of the picture, so that you can link directly to it, a "Download the Image with credit" link so that you can download the picture to your computer, with the right information you'll need to give credit to the photographer included as part of the image, and more information about the Creative Commons license of the picture.

When you click "Download", the image is saved to your computer, with a grey bar across the bottom which gives all the necessary photo credit information.

The automatic inclusion of the photo credit will make it very easy for students to post images correctly. I think that having to read about the credits in the download step will help them become aware of what they're doing, too, using someone's image correctly, and giving credit.

Sprixi's FAQ page  says that Sprixi is different because
"Sprixi is "purpose built" to help you choose and use an image quickly and easily. Sprixi is not about tagging or commenting on images, and it is not about browsing a million photos. Sprixi is about finding an image that is useful to you, now."
Sprixi is somewhat of a social crowd-sourcing site, too.  You can't leave comments or tags, but you can vote on whether or not the site is giving you the images you thought you'd see, or that are useful to you:

"How does Sprixi learn? What do you mean by "usefulness"? 
"Sprixi tries to sort images by usefulness - how useful you find an image for that topic.
Images are sorted automatically just by people using Sprixi. Images you click on, rate, use, download or upload are given a usefulness rating. You can also vote for the usefulness of images by clicking on the yes, maybe and no buttons. Votes from registered users are given a heavier weighting."
(I took the screen shots for this post with Screenpresso, a widget that takes the screen shot, provides some some basic editing tools,  and will send the picture to email or Twitter)

Our Known Universe

Dan Coleman,  at the Open Culture blog, features a new video by the American Museum of Natural History on YouTube.

"The Known Universe takes viewers from the Himalayas through our atmosphere and the inky black of space to the afterglow of the Big Bang. Every star, planet, and quasar seen in the film is possible because of the world's most complete four-dimensional map of the universe, the Digital Universe Atlas that is maintained and updated by astrophysicists at the American Museum of Natural History.
"The new film, created by the Museum, is part of an exhibition, Visions of the Cosmos: From the Milky Ocean to an Evolving Universe, at the Rubin Museum of Art in Manhattan through May 2010. "
If you're interested in knowing more about the Universe, String Theory, and AstroPhysics in general, watch The Elegant Universe videos. The Elegant Universe was a 3 hour mini-series from NOVA, on US Public Television. At its home web page you'll find articles and interviews, slide shows, interactive activities, and downloadable resources about "eleven dimensions, parallel universes, and a world made out of strings - it's not science fiction, it's string theory."
"One of the most ambitious and exciting theories ever proposed—one that may be the long-sought "theory of everything," which eluded even Einstein—gets a masterful, lavishly computer-animated explanation from bestselling author-physicist Brian Greene, when NOVA presents the nuts, bolts, and sometimes outright nuttiness of string theory."

You can explore a related idea at the "Powers of 10" web page.

Can you make snow?

Well, more precisely, can you make snow, one flake at a time? Try it at http://www.snowflakeworkshop.com/
First you will see a brief history of snowflake study, and then instructions.  Here's a screen shot of your workspace:

Pick up the pencil at the top with your mouse, and draw on the folded paper.  The shapes you make are what will be cut out, and be the holes in the snowflake.  When you're finished, pick up the scissors with your mouse,  and your snow flake will be created.  You can save it, email it, or take a screen shot of it.

Here's a screen shot of my first snowflake:

Control your robot from your keyboard

At the EXOBOTICS web site, you can build a robot, and then make it dance.  Choose your body parts by pushing the red button at the right moment, and then the Go button to create your robot.  Then use the mouse click, space bar and numbers to make it dance. (The music is loud, you might want to mute it while you work!)  Here's my first robot:

Thanks once again to The Generator Blog for the link

Talking photos

Looking for something fun to do over the holidays? Check out http://www.pqdvd.com/talking-photo.html and create some interesting "talking photos". You can use the photos provided on the site, or upload your own.  Then choose a greeting for your photo to sing.

Here's some of the ISOCS kids in  picture from the first snowy day:

blogmyspacedvd to ipod video convertertalkingphoto, dvd to psp convertertalkingphoto, dvd to zunetalking photo album

Hat tip to Gerard at The Generator Blog for the link.


Frank Curkovic, an art teacher at the International School in Yokahama, writes in his blog about one of his 6th grade students, Kaden. Kaden presented a PechaKucha in Tokyo before a large audience, describing how his art has evolved since 2nd grade.

PechaKucha is a format that allows 20 seconds for each of 20 slides.
"PechaKucha Night was devised in Tokyo in February 2003 as an event for young designers to meet, network, and show their work in public.
It has turned into a massive celebration, with events happening in hundreds of cities around the world, inspiring creatives worldwide. Drawing its name from the Japanese term for the sound of "chit chat", it rests on a presentation format that is based on a simple idea: 20 images x 20 seconds. It's a format that makes presentations concise, and keeps things moving at a rapid pace". (link).

 Watch and listen to his presentation here full size on the PechaKucha web page.

kaden presentation

I think PechaKucha is a very interesting format through which to learn presentation skills.  It's fun to learn PowerPoint and Keynote - there are lots of animations, colors, templates, etc. to experiment with.  But they can't all go in one presentation!

And there's lots to learn about good presenting: who is your audience?  how will your slides be seen? what's your overall message? etc. But you can't waffle on and on....your audience will fall asleep and forget that you were ever there.

The PechaKucha forces you to think hard about your slides, and refine your thoughts until they fit the format.

Kaden has done a remarkable thing in his presentation - he has managed to slim down 5 years of creativity to fit on 20 slides and about 6 minutes. He gets his audience interested in his talent and development, and leaves us enthusiastic, and curious, and eager to learn more.

play with this!

Click on the arrow to play my music:

This is from a web site called iNudge, where everyone can create music. You can add to what I made in this little box, or go to the web page and create your own.

  • Select 1 of 8 different Sound Patterns from the small Matrixes icons 
  • Use your mouse to draw notes on each 16 Step Matrix.
  • For each Pattern, adjust Volume, Mute, Clear, or set Audio Pan from Left to Right.
  • Click on the Tempo numbers and click up or down to change the overall Tempo.
  • Get & Share allows you to Send Mail, Get Link, Get Embed code or Spread in communities.

Google sites has

Google Sites is back! For a while, Google Sites was a "discontinued" product - but it's back, in a new, improved interface.


There are now "templates for Google Sites. The templates gallery is filled with useful example sites ranging from wedding websites to corporate intranets, which you can copy and customize so they're just right. This lets you create a useful, visually appealing collaborative workspace in seconds." (link)

Flying Penguins

First, watch this video:

Do you think this news from the BBC is true? Do you believe what you see in the video?  Did you believe it up to a certain point in the film?

Now watch this video:

Google Image Swirl

Google Labs has released a new image search page.  It's called  Image Swirl, and it  builds on new computer vision research to cluster similar images into representative groups in a novel, exploratory interface. It's a picture version of Wonder Wheel Search Tool.

Enter a search term, and click Search Images. (Because this is still a trial, some keywords are not searchable. Be patient). I searched for images of the word "color".

Once you find the group of images you're interested in, you can click on the thumbnail and a cluster of images will "swirl" into view. For example, here's what you'll see if you click the image in the top row, second from the right.

Mouse over one of the results, and you will see a link to a new page which contains the image. When you click on it, you're taken to the page.

Go to Image Swirl, and try it out.  It gives you a new way to relate images, and refine search terms.

Wonder Wheel Search Tool

Have you tried this?

Google Search Engineer Adam talks about everything you can do with Google's Wonder Wheel, a tool in the Search Options Panel. Wonder Wheel is a graphical way to explore topics by clicking on related searches that go deeper into the subject of the main query.

Are you puzzled?

This morning a colleague pointed me to a web site where you can turn your photos into jigsaw puzzles:  http://www.jigsawplanet.com

I used one of the pictures I took in the Seniors class yesterday to try it out. 

Or click on the picture below to go to the Jigsaw website and do the puzzle there.
PB100030 - online jigsaw puzzle - 20 pieces
On my computer, it took a minute to load the puzzle, and I found I had to click slightly to the side of each piece to "pick it up" and move it. (Hint - you don't need to rotate the pieces to do the puzzle.

This ought to be fun on an interactive white board!

making flowers

One of my groups on the bookmarking site Diigo pointed me to this interesting web page, Flower Maker.

You can start with a blank canvass, or load someone else's flower to work on. Choose how many petals you want in your flower, then the opacity (transparency) of the petal, then the shape and color. Now drag your mouse across the canvass and see what happens.

If you don't like how it looks, you can undo your last stroke, or start over.

When you click the save button,  name your flower, and it is entered in the gallery for other people to see.  If you want to save it to your computer, take a screen shot, and then open it in a photo editing program (such as Photofiltre), crop it, name it,  and save it.

I think this is a great web  page - it's easy to create very complicated designs, and explore symmetry, color, line, shape, and  design.

My only regret is that the left and right side of the page contains advertisements. Students should be advised in advance about them, and a teacher might want to check out the page to see what ads appear.  One solution is to save the page to your computer ("Save as...web page complete"), and then open the swf object you'll find in the page elements' folder in your web browser.

Expressing emotions

The Seniors are beginning their investigation in to expression emotions through art.

Here's the scientific explanation:

They're going to use their webcams to practice...

Create your own (SuperHero) Comic

If you read super hero comics, and you'd like to try writing your own, check out this web site: Create Your Own Comic. The interface is simple, but the flash mouse work might take some experimenting. You have a choice of 54 Marvel hero characters, 10 fonts, a variety of speech bubbles, and lots of backgrounds. When you're done, you can print or download your book.

This would be a fun thing to do with a small group in class, or a friend on a rainy day. All you need is an exciting adventure story idea.....

If you're not into super heros, consider buying ComicLife software (for MAC or Windows, free 30 day trial). There you have many many many choices, and can use your own pictures and photos.

this sample of a ComicLife creation is on the Plasq web page (MAC)
There is a different page for the Windows version of ComicLife..

Thanks to Jonathan Wylie for the good idea!

Frindle Book Reports

How many ways can you make a book report?

Our Seniors Class has been reading Frindle, by Andrew Clements. Here are some Frindle "book reports" from around the web:

Frindle Commerial

Jake's Storytube Video


Frindle - 2000 Kids' Picks Reviews

section of Five children's books



Play Findle Jeopardy at this web page

Read a non-video Frindle reviews by students here. Scroll down on this LibraryThing page to read 35 reviews of Frindle by readers.

The Cham Library

Everyone in school knows about the Cham Library - die Bibliothek Cham.  Did you know they have a good web page at  http://www.bibliothek-cham.ch/biblio/  ?  You can find out what the library hours are, find out how to get there, how to borrow books and media, read about what's new in the library, and read about the history of the library.

Did you know that you can translate that web page with your computer, if you have trouble reading all the German words? Use a site called Bebel Fish.

Paste the URL for the website in the "translate web page" line, choose the language you'd like to read it in, and "presto!" you'll see the page in a new language.

The translation's aren't perfect, but usually they're good enough to help you understand what the page is communicating.

Here's the link to the Babel Fish translation from German to English for the The Cham Library page

Where in the world is......?

If you like to play games online, and test your knowledge, you might enjoy these websites:

There are 16 games for the whole world, or different parts of the world.

This site also has pages of interactive maps. "(These maps) are all played as games, individually or in a group, competitively or not. Can you point to Zimbabwe on a map of Africa? Do you know where the Vietnam war took place? Can you find the Spice Islands (on a map, not in a boat)?


If you'd rather place countries in the right position using arrow keys, try Statetris. "Statetris is an interesting game mixing aspects of the popular game 'Tetris' and geography. Instead of positioning the typical Tetris blocks, you position states/countries at their proper location." Choose easy, medium or hard levels.

Test your Geography Knowledge

A really serious quizz format interactive geography site to test your geography knowledge is at this site. You can test yourself on the whole world, the continents, and some countries.

Create an avatar

You can use an avatar on many of the social network web sites - a digital representation of you. (Check out the definition here.) Creating an unusual image is a great way to give yourself a unique identity, without putting your real photograph on the web. At the left is my  avatar.
At the Simpsons movie site go to the "Create Avatar" tab, choose "New Character" (You don't need to log in to do this).

When you are finished, click on the envelope icon at the bottom of the screen, and "Send to a friend" - that is, send it to yourself! Or, you can do a screen shot, too. We will add it to your Picasa Web Album, so that you can use it easily.


You might prefer to be a character from South Park. Go to this web page. Using the diagram on the left, create your person. Click "save" when you are finished, and follow the directions (which are to take a "screen shot". South Park Studios also has an avatar creator. Save with a screen shot.


Maybe you'd like to be a cartoon character? Go to this site and create yourself! Scroll down below the flashing "Get yourself in Zwinky FREE!" add, and start working below "Create my picture". The email feature does not work (and you wouldn't use it anyway, would you??). Save with a screen shot, and paste it into a picture editor. Then crop it down to your avatar and save.


If you like animals, you might visit the Build Your Wild Self page of the New York Zoos and Aquarium web site. When you've built your wild self, choose "print your wild self", and then right click and "save picture as" to preserve your creation.


At http://www.reasonablyclever.com/mini/kidsafe.htm you can create yourself in Lego. The only way to save your picture is with a screen shot.

If you'd just like to be a Lego block, use this site: http://www.reasonablyclever.com/blockhead/index.htm


At this address http://www.myavatareditor.com/ you can create a Wii persona.


You can turn yourself into an M&M at this  site: http://www.mms.com/us/becomeanmm/create/. Save with a screen capture.

The Year of the Blog at ISB

Jeff Utecht, (International School of Bangkok) on his excellent blog, The Thinking Stick, has written about the process of getting his entire school blogging.

In his post, he links to several pages worth exploring, among them ISB's
Blogging Guidelines, a Netvibes page that links to all the student and teacher blogs in all the 5th grade classes, and a directory to all the blogs at ISB. Take a minute to browse through this amazing list!

Read teacher Chrissy Hellyer's blog (Room 231), and her Blogging Contract. One of her posts on Internet Saftey included this video from WiredSafety.org:

In his post, Jeff writes "It’s not the blogging we feel is important of course, it’s the power that publishing to a wider audience that in 2010 will surpass 2 Billion Internet connected people. Not only is there engagement power in publishing to this audience but also authentic power as students realize they are writing for someone larger than their teacher. That an assignment is not just an assignment but an idea to be shared with others."

If you're considering blogging with your students, or your child has a blog or Facebook account, be sure to read Jeff's post (and follow his blog).

How do you make a USB key?

Watch this video showing how a Kingston USB stick is made, labeled and packaged by a series of robots, machines, and one or two humans:

The video was produced by http://www.netbooknews.com/ (Thanks to Nextway for the heads up.)

"Send me a text..."

The New York Times online edition's Personal Tech page published an article you might be interested in: "They're old enough to text. Now what?" The article is written by John Biggs, and was published: 26 August 2009.

Mr. Biggs describes how "children today have a plethora of high-tech gadgets they can use to phone and — more commonly — text with one another. The question most parents have is what type of texting gadget is appropriate for which age group." He gives some interesting parental viewpoints, and profiles example devices and plans a family might consider. Though the story is from the USA, the issues involved are universal.

Howard Gardner on Edutopia

This video of Howard Gardner on the Edutopia web site, came my way through the Diigo Literacy with ICT group. In the video, Dr. Garder discusses several questions:
1. What are specific ethical issues you see kids struggling when they use digital media?
2. How is our sense of identity changing in the digital world? How can adults learn from kids and guide them at the same time?
3. Digital tools make it extremely easy to communicate with anyone in the world. What are the opportunities and challenges for kids?
4. Do you think digital media are having a negative impact on kids' attention span? What are the implications for home and school?
5. How does teaching and learning change in a world where information is at your fingertips?

© Edutopia.org; The George Lucas Educational Foundation. Used with permission.

Get closer to the sky---through your computer

LifeHacker blog has been highlighting astronomy software recently. Have a look at these:

WorldWide Telescope "... it used to be a Windows-only desktop application. Now, provided you're running an operating system that supports Microsoft's Silverlight browser plug-in, you can enjoy the same star-gazing fun from any browser." (link)

"WorldWide Telescope (WWT) enables your computer to function as a virtual telescope, bringing together imagery from the best ground and space-based telescopes in the world. Experience narrated guided tours from astronomers and educators featuring interesting places in the sky." (link)
Watch the TED talk about the WorldWide Telescope:

Stellarium "Windows/Mac/Linux: Whether you're a die-hard astronomy buff or someone who'd just like an idea of what constellations are where, Stellarium is a fantastic tool for viewing the night sky from the comfort of your home. ...At its most basic, Stellarium will display the night sky as seen from anywhere on earth. Delving into the more advanced features you can do all sorts of really interesting things like see the constellations for a dozen different cultures—the Pegasus from Greek mythology is the Turtle in the Navajo tradition." (link)

photo credit: poulz
"Stellarium is a free open source planetarium for your computer. It shows a realistic sky in 3D, just like what you see with the naked eye, binoculars or a telescope. It is being used in planetarium projectors. Just set your coordinates and go." (link)
Watch this video from YouTube created with Stellarium:

Celestia is a free space simulation that lets you explore our universe in three dimensions. Celestia runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X. Celestia doesn't confine you to the surface of the Earth. You can travel throughout the solar system, to any of over 100,000 stars, or even beyond the galaxy.

"Looking down at Mars's tiny moon Phobos and the giant Valles Marineris rift valley." photo link

This video shows some of the features of Celestia:

You'll find an extensive list of astronomy software at http://www.midnightkite.com/software.html

Reposted from SpaceQuest

Finding photos on Flickr

Flickr has redesigned its search results page.  Now you can see small  previews of photos, information about each one without even having to visit its individual  page.

There are many, many other web sites  you can use to search Flickr photos.  Among them are:


You can search by text or tag, within Creative Commons licenses, and with a safe search option. This would be a good tool for finding a photo to use in a project that will be published on the web.  Don't forget to note the photo credit information to include in your own work.

Search by tag, and see the results as photos, and a list of tags with which to refine your search. This would be a great tool to teach search skills, and refining a search string, because the changes in results are so easy to see.


Flickr Related Tag browser
This is also a great tool with which to teach search skills.  Enter a tag, and suggested refinements appear as a circle around the original word, along with a small sphere of photos

FlickrStorm is my favorite tool. Before you enter your search term, click on "advanced", choose a Creative Commons liscense that will allow you to publish your work.  Then enter your search term, and click "Search". As you select photos from the search return, a larger image opens on the left, and under the picture you have 3 options: "Open on Flickr", "Add to tray", and "Download". If you click "Add to tray",  you will build up a collection of photos.  When you're finished,you can download your collection, complete with photo credit information.

David Jakes has created these fine pdf filesyou can download: FlickrStorm Tutorial

Multicolr Search Lab
Here you search by color (up to 10), not tags.  This is a very interesting tool, intended for web designers, but with interesting possibilites for language learners, art students, etc.

Visit these older posts about using photos from Flickr: Keywords/Tagging

Using other people's pictures in your work