Time (and Time again!)

The Middle Primary class spent a lot of time on Time during their Unit of Inquiry into Systems.  And now it's time to change our clocks.  Last night we re-set them one hour backwards.

Why? Are we really saving time?  No, we're "saving" light!

"Daylight saving time (DST)—also "summer time" in British English—is the practice of temporarily advancing clocks so that afternoons have more daylight and mornings have less. Typically clocks are adjusted forward one hour near the start of spring and are adjusted backward in autumn. Modern DST was first proposed in 1895 by George Vernon Hudson.Many countries have used it since then; details vary by location and change occasionally.

"Adding daylight to afternoons benefits retailing, sports, and other activities that exploit sunlight after working hours, but causes problems for farming, evening entertainment and other occupations tied to the sun... 

"Its effect on health and crime is less clear. Although an early goal of DST was to reduce evening usage of incandescent lighting, formerly a primary use of electricity, modern heating and cooling usage patterns differ greatly, and research about how DST currently affects energy use is limited or contradictory.

"DST's occasional clock shifts present other challenges. They complicate timekeeping, and can disrupt meetings, travel, billing, recordkeeping, medical devices, heavy equipment, and sleep patterns." (link)

You can read a brief history of Daylight Savings Time at this web page - Benjamin Franklin first wrote about the idea in 1784 in an essay titled "An Economical Project", when he was living in Paris
If you want to learn about Daylight Savings Time in every country of the world, look at this Wikipedia article.

   DST used
   DST no longer used
   DST never used

graphic from Wikimedia

Now that we've changed our clocks, check this site to see what time it is in aother part of the world, before you make that phone call!

The Children's Shakespeare

All our classes are in the midst of Story Units - telling and writing stories with great imagination and intensity! I thought some might be interested in downloading this book for the mp3 players, iPods, iPads, computers, etc., so they can listen to a master storyteller.

Shakespear's Words by Calamity Meg 
The Children's Shakespeare, by Edith Nesbit (1858-1924) is available as audio files at Librivox.org. Listen to them on the web page, or download them, or subscribe through iTunes. You can also download a zip file of the entire text of the book, too.

"This children's book retells twelve of Shakespeare's most popular plays as stories for children. Each of the plays are rewritten as short stories or fairy tales suitable to keep the attention of child readers or listeners. The introduction of the book cites a child's ability and desire to become familiar with the works of Shakespeare as a stepping-stone toward a greater appreciation of the actual plays later in life."

Mandelbrot’s Fractals

Mandelbrot set rainbow colors

What is the Mandelbrot Set? "The Mandelbrot set is a mathematical set of points in the complex plane, the boundary of which forms a fractal." Read the complete definition on Wikipedia.  Or watch this 54 minute video:
(This is a television documentary from 1995.)

A very recent (Feb 2010) video from TED presents Mandelbrot talks about the extreme complexity of roughness, and the way that fractal math can find order within patterns that seem unknowably complicated :

"Benoit Mandelbrot: Fractals and the art of roughness"

There are two important words you need to know to understand what these people are talking about: fractal and pattern.

photo by Fábio Pinheiro 
fractal is "a geometric pattern that is repeated at every scale and so cannot be represented by classical geometry" (link) like circles, triangles, etc.
pattern  is "a type of theme of recurring events or objects, sometimes referred to as elements of a set. These elements repeat in a predictable manner." (link)

We've certainly had experience with pattern in our learning at ISOCS, particularly in math and language. You've had experience with  fractals, obviously in screen savers,  the visualizer on iTunes or another media player, or with software ( link and link, or the Mandelbrot Explorer), and not so obviously in nature:  because most patterns in nature are fractals!

Fractal Tree by Solkoll 
Some of the phrases I heard in this video which caught my attention were:

"You don't need to know big math to understand this."

"Nature doesn't deal in smooth objects, but in fractals
the relationship between what we see as "nature" and the math rules behind it - what we are seeing is fractals, everywhere."

Cloud patterns are fractals

"The discovery of fractal geometry changes the kinds of patterns we can look for in nature."

photo by Dan4th 
"There will be extraordinary new devices based on the principals of fractal geometry that will emerge over the next centuries."

"Cauliflower is very complicated and very simple at the same time" (You can read the transcript of the TED video here.)

Read a little about Mandelbrot's life and work at Heroes and RoleModels.

Read more about the origins of the 1995 video at Open Culture, which  is, yet again, responsible for inspiring a post on this blog!

Avatar creation tools roundup

In addition to the posts on this blog which show off avatar creation websites, I've grouped them all on one webpage. https://sites.google.com/site/onlineavatartools/, which is also linked in the sidebar of this blog.

made with ToyStoryCreator

Online comic creating tools

For the Senior Primary Class, who might be telling stories one of these days, here are previews of online tools you might choose as a platform for your stories.

I've created a web site to hold videos and links to several web pages where you can make comics - https://sites.google.com/site/onlinecomicstools/home

Take time to look at each one - some are much more complicated to use than others; some you can print your creation and some you can't.

made with ComicCreator

made with Kerpoof

This is the embedded version from Bubblr  If there were more pages, you would be able to scroll through them with your mouse. 

screen shot from Bubblr

The World is Full of Interesting Things

Have a look at this slide show from Google Creative Labs - The World is Full of Interesting Things
Be patient - it takes a minute or two to load - it's full of video, music, etc. and be patient, it will take you a bit of time to watch/listen/read/play with it all

Click on the link to open the slide show in full screen - it's much much much more interesting than the tiny sample below.

via  Open Culture, who found it through a Tweet from @KarenTempleand Kottke

Children and Social Networks

There is lots of discussion about children and the Internet in general, and children and social networking in particular.

Before checking out the sites below, watch this interview with a Middle School Principal in the US (from April 2010).  The main problem, "is that tweens do not have the resilience to withstand internet name-calling. 'They are simply not psychologically ready for the damage that one mean person online can cause,' he said."

Sarah Kessler has written a post on Mashable this week about children using social networks like Facebook and Myspace.

"If you have young children on Facebook or MySpace, they shouldn’t be — at least legally. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) prevents websites from collecting personal information about children who are under the age of 13 without their parents’ permission.
Many children bypass this law, even on sites that enforce it, by simply adjusting their birthday..."

She lists 5 social networks designed for young children; I wanted to find out more about each one.


Togetherville provides a free, kid-safe communication, privacy controls, and a parent-managed friend list through Facebook.  It's intended for children ages 6 to 10.  The New York Times has called it a "social networking site with training wheels".

National Public Radio in the US did a story on Togethervile in May 2010.  On the program you can hear      a first grader interviewed about her use of the site.  Eve Troeh, the presenter comments:
"Parents set up Togetherville profiles. They approve every friend request, and can see every activity on the site. Kids can send messages like "Way to Go" or "You're talented!" They can't write their own.
Right now, Togetherville is free. But Dhillon (the site developer) says it might soon charge for some games, apps and virtual gifts."
Listen to the NPR program before you sign your child up for Togetherville:

What’s What

"What’s What is all about providing a great online experience for your child today and preparing them for their online lives of tomorrow. We designed the site so that kids can express themselves and interact with friends in a supportive, appropriate, and safe manner. There are no ads, and the children are not solicited for other products and services." (FAQ)
The site is constantly monitored, children are only allowed to associate with those in their grade/age group, log in is through a webcam identity check (biometric face recognition). It's run by "a team of concerned parents."

Image from the What's What demo
It may be a "safe environment" in which an 8 - 14 year old can have "fun",  using the Internet within this walled garden will teach a child very little about "safety", or netizenship - it's all being done for them behind the scenes.


ScuttlePad is designed for kids ages 6 - 11.  "Only guided communication is allowed by using predefined word lists. All photos are manually reviewed and approved. No predators, solicitation, harassment or bullying is assured." (a rather disconcerting bit of grammar, there.) The site is run by a group from Utah (US).

Content is monitored: "Our discussion often starts: “I would never let my child post a picture like this. What do you think?” Then we debate and determine what is most appropriate." (link).  They have already determined what words a child can put into a message...

Giant Hello

"giantHello was created by parents who were concerned about how, when and where their kids were spending time on the Internet. Our “tweenagers” outgrew the traditional websites for children but weren’t yet ready for the full-fledged, open social networking experience. We created giantHello to address those needs." (link)

"In order to register for a giantHello account, children must create a username and password, and enter their birthday and gender. Usernames should not contain real names, or any portion thereof. Passwords should be "easy to remember, but hard to guess." If the child is under the age of 13, they may access limited features of the giantHello site such as games and fan pages. Children who use the site in the aforementioned manner will not be able to post any personally identifiable information.

In order to access all the features of the website, parents of children under the age of 13 can submit a valid, verifiable e-mail address, and create their own username and password when completing registration for their children. Since membership on giantHello is contingent upon a parent's verifiable consent..."

No email address is needed to sign up.

first item in my inbox

This site originates from Georgia (US).

Part of the registration process on this site is creating your avatar. An email address is required for account activation, and children under 13 must have their parents permission.
There are links to Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook on the site.  There is a section of the site, Toy Swap, where members can list and sell second hand items - an inhouse ebay, with all the pitfalls.

I had fun making my avatar, but I haven't received my confirmation email yet from the site.

My Advice? 
If you're dying to have some social interaction through the Internet, I suggest you get your hands on  a digital camera, go out into your world and take pictures of what interests you, what you see that is unusual, or beautiful.  Upload them to a photo sharing site like Flickr, and begin to sort and describe them.  Begin your social interaction around photos you've taken, and leave comment on other people's photos  that you admire.  You could blog about your photos, too, on Blogger or Tumblr.   Make your Internet focus be creative and active.

Balance, Connection and Communication

Having seen a few videos on the web in the last few days telling the same story, I thought I'd pass them on to you ISOCS folks.

The first one is in Thai, but that doesn't matter - you'll get the message. It's an ad from dtac Thailand:

The next video is Really", an ad from Windows 7 Phone:

The last is also from Windows 7 Phone, "The Season of the Witch":

Interesting that good "storytelling" ads about too much phone use, or not using phones or mobile devices literally all the time, are coming from  phone companies themselves.  It's a complete flip from  "make our phone the center of your life" to "make your life be the center of our phone".  A seemingly subtle difference, very reflective of our times.

My friends who pointed these videos out to me all commented that some of these scenes could have come from their life. The use of phones or other small, handheld communicating entrancers have gradually grown from being an appliance in our pockets or bags which we checked from time to time to look at messages or take phone calls, into an appliance that is always on, and near to hand, so that we can catch the message or call, check Twitter and Facebook, check the newsfeed, etc.

There's a growing field of interest in netiquette, as the reach of the net expands.  What do you think?  Is it rude to use your phone (or iPod, etc.) when you're with other people?  I suppose it depends on how you define "with" in that sentence.

How do you feel when the person you're with  would rather interact with their mobile device than with you?

What happens to the concepts behind the profile words  inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced and reflective in the life of the people in these videos?

I think it's also interesting to see examples of how a good story can be told in only a few seconds with well imagined photos/video shots, good editing,  and well chosen music. It's sort of the visual equivalent of "13 Words" - how can you say so much, with seemingly so little?

Dewey Digger

That amazing source of good information, Free Technology for Teachers, has once again pointed me to a great web site, Dewey Digger, and I've added to our Online Library Netvibes page.

To explore the web with Dewey Digger, choose a category of knowledge according to it's Dewey Decimal number.  I clicked on 500's, and the clicked on "animal" as my search term.

Then I choose Google as the search engine I wanted to use.
This is the page of results I got:

Using Dewey Digger is a very easy way to search for information on the Internet, especially if you aren't sure how to write a search string, or aren't sure how to spell a word.  You do, however, need to understand a bit about the Dewey Decimal System - you could learn that quickly by exploring the site's start page.

13 Words

This post is for ISOCS Junior and Middle Primary classes, about to begin Units of inquiry into story telling and writing.

Lemony Snicket fans will be pleased to know that there's a new book out titled "13 Words"
by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Maira Kalman.

Here are the 13 words -
1. Bird
2. Despondent
3. Cake
4. Dog
5. Busy
6. Convertible
7. Goat
8. Hat
9. Haberdashery
10. Scarlet
11. Baby
12. Panache
13. Mezzo-Soprano

(You can read the book by clicking on the "Browse inside this book" in the little square with the book cover at the top of this post.)

Here's the book trailer (which is an awfully clever way to tell about a book - think "book report"):

(Wouldn't it be fun to share your ideas about books you've read like this? All you need is a camera, a microphone, and a little bit of video editing in iMovie, Windows Live Movie Maker, or an online editing tool like those listed here, here, and here, and of course, a place to share your book trailer - a class blog, perhaps? Do you think you could write a story based on a short list of words?)

If you don't know Limony Snicket's (Daniel Handler's pen name) books, here's a resumée of all 12 (in 120 seconds):

Using Animoto

This video was made from a Flickr set of photos from ISOCS Middle Primary Class, drawing their own and their classmates' portraits after watching Andrew Bravener's video on YouTube.
Animoto is a great site for making a quick video. Upload your photos, or have Animoto pull them from another online site, add your own music or a sound track from Animoto's library, and presto! You have a video! If you are a teacher or educator, you can apply for a free Animoto all-access pass for use in the classroom. Produce unlimited full length videos from photos. Use http://animoto.com/education to apply for a pass.

How to Help Your Child Set Up a Blog

There's an interesting post for parents on Mashable today: HOW TO: Help Your Child Set Up a Blog.

The post begins:
"Reporters from The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times probably didn’t expect to be joined by TechNewsKids, a blog run by 11-year-olds. Yet all three covered Apple’s press conference this September. Benno Kass and Max Iger of TechNewsKids watched the live-stream of the announcement online so that they could “live blog” its contents as soon as possible.
Simplified blogging platforms and increased access to online information — even breaking stories like the Apple announcement — make it easier than ever for Kass, Iger and other young bloggers to independently post to the web. And as they post, they’re also learning how to research, write and use a web publishing platform.
Parents should be thrilled by this educational opportunity, says Dr. Patricia Fioriello, the author of kidslearntoblog.com. Unfortunately, they’re more often unsure of how they can help their children take advantage of it."
The author, Sarah Kessler, goes into detail with 5 guidelines you can use to help guide your child, giving examples and weblinks:
1. Learn About Blogging Yourself
2. Choose an Appropriate Blogging Platform for Your Child
3. Teach Your Child About Safety and Citizenship
4. Enhance the Educational Experience
5. Monitor What Your Child Posts Online

Used with permission under CC license

REAL Website Evaluation

This screen cast walks us through the steps of Alan November's REAL website evaluation. It's not simple. I recommend it to teachers, librarians, older students, perhaps upper Primary students. When websites are given to younger students, I assume an adult has already looked at the site, and evaluated it.

The tools mentioned in the video are:
TinEye Reverse image search http://www.tineye.com/
Google Translate http://translate.google.com/#
Whois domain name lookup http://www.whois.net/

In Library terms, is the website used in this video Fiction or Non-Fiction? Should it be given a Dewey Decimal number, and included on our shelf of resources?

"Read the URL" = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yI3a3X...
"Examine the Content" = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yI3a3X...
"Ask about Author/Owner" = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yI3a3X...
"Look at the Links" = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yI3a3X...
"Summary" = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yI3a3X...

Alan November's REAL website evaluation process for students and teachers. A Walden University Master of Science in Education (Technology Integration) assignment."

Also see November Learning's Information Literacy Resources
A links list of resources on this topic by Kathy Schrock: Critical Evaluation Information

Create your avatar, redux 2

The Primary Seniors will be making avatars for themselves - click on this link to pull up my previous blog posts with links to avatar-creation sites.

Two sites not included on those postsare Mr. Picasohead. where you can use Picaso-like gestures to create images,
photo credit: "Moranga" by Fada Moranga

and  Ultimate Flash Face, which works the way (I imagine) an identikit might work.
screen shot from FlashFace

Another site you might want to use is FaceYourManga.  Mouse over the choices on the left, and build your face.  Save it with a screen shot, if you don't want to give the site your email address.

screen shot of FaceYourManga

Engage Through Storytelling

This video is for the Junior and Middle Primary Classes, who are about to embark on Story Units, and for the Senior Primary Class, who have been working on presentations.

"Story has played a significant role in all cultures put its adoption into professional cultures has been painfully slow. It's easier to present a report instead of a well-crafted presentation."

Nancy Duarte is CEO of Duarte Design

Thanks to Frank Curkovic for finding this video.

Homemade Spacecraft

Homemade Spacecraft from Luke Geissbuhler on Vimeo.

Video from a camera attached to a weather balloon that rose into the
upper stratosphere and recorded the blackness of space.

I read about this video at PetaPixel, a photography blog, in a post by Michael Zhang:

"Luke Geissbuhler and his kids decided they wanted to send an HD video camera high into the stratosphere, so they spent eight months researching and testing for their project before finally launching their Go Pro Hero HD-laden balloon from Newburgh, New York. The balloon rose for 70 minutes to a height of 100,000 feet (19 miles) above the Earth before popping.

The video includes audio, so you get to experience what it looks and sounds like to be floating 19 miles above the Earth, surrounded by the blackness of space"

What are you going to do over the October school holiday?