Sunday, November 23, 2008

Teachers Can Help Students Make Deeper and More Meaningful Digital Footprints with Photo Archiving

Who knew?
LIFE magazine and I are suffering from a similar issue. We both had thousands of unpublished lonely images never-to-be seen because they were sitting in dusty archives. Unlike the digital images we've been capturing over the past five or so years that we've been posting and sharing those photos we captured pre-digital have been neglected. Sadly, these images may never have the opportunity to experience the same glory as their digital counterparts.

But, now, I have just learned that LIFE magazine’s photos will have a shot at glory as shared during a recent announcement about the availability of never-before-seen images from the LIFE photo archive. This will bring offline images online as part of Google’s mission to organize all the world's
information and make it universally accessible and useful. This collection of newly-digitized images includes photos and etchings produced and owned by LIFE dating all the way back to the 1750s. As captured in the story featured in the Official Google Blog the collection includes The Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination; The Mansell Collection from London; Dahlstrom glass plates of New York and environs from the 1880s; and the entire works left to the collection from LIFE photographers. The images have been digitized so that everyone can easily experience these fascinating moments in time.

As I read this I thought, what about the rest of us who aren’t partnering with Google and want to digitally capture our moments in time? Are we destined to spend countless hours scanning every picture or digitally photographing them all? What about histories of museums, monuments, schools who are digital photo immigrants with images collected before the age of digital? Will their stories be left in forgotten archives due to this overwhelming task? I mean, LIFE only had a very small percentage of their images published pre-Google partnership. How can the rest of us people and places share our important images?


Welcome to - your affordable digital photo imaging headquarters. Pay just $49.95 for up to 1,000 photo scans, or order the prepaid fill-the-box service for just $124.95. Your photographs are professionally scanned as 300 dpi JPEG files onto a DVD-R data disc. They also produce high quality scans from your 35mm slides, 35mm and APS negatives, and video to DVD transfer. Check out the photo scanning service page for more info.

Educational Implications

Innovative educators heads must be spinning with possibilities about what this could mean. For about $5 a student a teacher could work with his/her students to collect and digitize about 40 photos each from their family ancestry. A school could send in all their photo memorabilia and capture their digital history. And, of course, how about the idea of connecting student or school ancestry with historical events in the LIFE photo archive? Let the words straight from their site inspire you!

Welcome to the future home of, the most amazing collection of professional photography on the Web: 10 million photos from the legendary archives of LIFE magazine and thousands more added every day. Whatever you want to look at, whether it happened an hour ago, a century ago, or any time in between, you'll be able to find it here quickly, easily, and for free.

How fantastic is this? Students being able to connect their histories, their family histories, their school's history and more, to major historical events. What was happening the day you were born? Started school? The day your parents met or graduated high school? The possibilities Innovative educators have for helping their students create new, meaningful, and connected digital footprints have now become even more vast.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

5 Translation Tools That Serve as Fantastic Resources for Students Who Are ELL, Foreign Language, and Struggling Readers

I'm currently deploying a large-scale online program which is internet-based and in English. The problem in New York City is we have students who speak over 100 languages for whom this tool is barely accessible since they are not proficient in the language. So now we're discussing potentially making the site English/Spanish with possibly additional languages to come down the road. This decision will take a significant amount resources including funding and human manpower providing a perfect translation by one language and, of course this person will have to be brought in any time there is a site change or update which in the ever-changing 21st Century-means often.

Tower of Babel No More
What many of those who've jumped on the online education market aren't fluent in is FREE translation tools that work in about a dozen languages. I use one right here on my website over on the right-side navigation about half-way down, called
Babel Fish from yahoo. Go ahead and try it. Unlike many of the sites of the vendors I work with, my site comes in multiple languages. Is it 100 % perfect? No, but is the information on the site clearly comprehensible to speakers of other languages? Absolutely! Furthermore it enables the reader to better understand the grammar differences when looking at a direct translation and empowers them with a tool they can use for free at any time.

Google is A Great Translator
I've used another tool called Google Translate which has been fantastic for me when doing research and pulling up resources in another language. Material I could never before read is now accessible to me! Furthermore, what is fantastic is that you can mouse over any sentence and it will bring up the original text. Amazing. Imagine going to Wikipedia Spanish, German, Russian, etc., and looking up a figure and event and to find out how it is viewed from the perspective of those who speak another language? Or how about checking out what an Arabic website has to say about Barack Obama? I’ve pasted in a translation from the “Political Council of Iraq” where you can see the Arabic text, the translator and the translation with the text over the language feature.

Text that Talks - Odiogo
This vendor was also contemplating having their site have the ability to speak text to the students as the listening level for students is higher then the reading level. Additionally, th
ere are students who are not able to read text, but are able to understand the spoken word. This too is available free on the internet, as you can see right here on my blog by selecting “Listen Now” at the top of my blog post. I set it up at Odiogo. You can test it out by listening to this entry. This is another fabulous tool for innovative educators.

Voki anyone
Another great text to speech tool is Voki. A great way for students not quite comfortable with English or with presenting can use a Voki like I have in the right hand of my blog. Students can type in text and their Voki will read it using a number of different voices. You can read more about one innovative educator’s review of using Voki’s for Education at project for review phase of writing process or join the discussion about how educators are using Voki in the Classroom.

The vendor's site is also rich with videos. Guess what. There is a free service where they'll translate videos with subtitles. Post your video with transcript and the
dotSUB community will help to translate in the languages they know. Not only is this a great option for ELLs, but this could be a great project for Foreign Language students. I can think of so many uses of this such as focusing creating instructional videos selected for their ELL classmates. For a sample look at the video, “Blogs in Plain English” translated into all these languages Albanian [100%] , Arabic [100%] , Basque [100%] , Catalan; Valencian [100%] , Chinese (Traditional) [100%] , Danish [100%] , Dutch; Flemish [100%] , English [100%] , Esperanto [100%] , French (France) [100%] , Galician [100%] , German [100%] , Greek, Modern (1453-) [100%] , Hebrew [100%] , Italian [100%] , Macedonian [100%] , Portuguese (Brazil) [100%] , Romanian [100%] , Spanish; Castilian [100%] , Thai [100%] , Turkish [100%]


The internet has changed the rules and really has made information accessible in ways never before possible. So even if a site or vendor you are working with has not incorporated these tools, you do not have to wait. These are all available, FREE, TODAY for all innovative educators interested in enhancing student achievement for ELLs, foreign language students and those reading below grade level.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Digital and Diversity Natives – Contribute to Obama’s Success

Tuesday morning at 6 a.m. I was waiting in line more than two hours to participate in an historic election. Tuesday evening at midnight, I was dancing in the streets of Harlem where we were all figuring out ways to incorporate "O's" into our moves.

During the excitement, I couldn’t help but realize that Obama’s success was not predominantly dependent on the voters of my parent’s generation, as had been the case in most elections during my lifetime. Instead, this time, the candidate's success was also a tribute to the Digital and Diversity Natives who were raised in a world very different than that of my parents. Unlike my Digital and Diversity Immigrant parents who were born into a world devoid of the internet, went to segregated schools and lived in segregated neighborhoods, Digital and Diversity natives thrive in a world where race, creed, and color at times are not issues and sometimes are “virtually” nonexistent, as is commonly the case in their online worlds.

I have heard some Digital and Diversity Immigrants share their belief that this country wasn’t ready for a black man as president. “Sure, publicly some people will say they'll vote for Obama, but once behind those curtains, they’ll never vote for a black man.” However, some of the Immigrants are not in touch with, or are not speaking the language of, their Digital/Diversity Native children and grandchildren.

While many of these Immigrants were watching television, listening to the radio, and reading newspapers, Obama hired Chris Hughes, Co-founder of Facebook. Hughes helped Obama’s online campaign where right beneath the noses, yet out of the sight, of many Immigrants, Obama connected to a world they have yet to join. Obama spoke to these potential voters in real ways. On a personal level, Barack is following me on Twitter, he is in my Facebook, I get personal emails from him, I receive text messages and listen to podcasts, I have received direct online outreach to donate to his campaign…which I did. It was fast, easy and I got a shirt! While this may not be Obama per se, I can have real interaction with his campaign and staffers and get the inside scope when I want it.

All this was going on in a world devoid of many of our Immigrant elders leaving the natives to continue in worlds where the elders are not listened to, not because they are not respected, but because they have not learned how to speak the language of the Natives . Though while noticeably absent from the Native environments, some may now be jolted into the realization that it's time to lose some of their DSL (Diversity or Digital, as a Second Language) accent and begin speaking the language of those fluent in diverse and digital worlds.

There are clearly many other factors contributing to this campaign. However, the fact that Obama so wisely and elegantly tapped into the diverse online world that often is “virtually” devoid of race, creed, or color, and instead brings people (or avatars) together based on ideas, principals, and interests…to me is a clear indication that a bright new day is dawning. I am so thrilled to join a diverse group of supporters in this virtual and live celebration and invite the Immigrants who are not yet there to join us!


For a summary of press articles recognizing this idea read Karl Fisch's post, "Democracy 2.0."

Monday, November 3, 2008

Innovative Educators Can Help Students and Themselves Become Published Authors

My passion in education is authentic learning which is one of the reasons that as a literacy coach I was instantly a fan of Teachers College Reading and Writing Project where students are viewed an
d treated as real authors. As a former literacy coach one of my favorite tools as an instructional technology specialist has been LINTOR Create-A-Book which allows teachers to work with students to actually create and print out their very own book. A class set costs about $280 or about $10 per book per child (not including printed book pages which come from a standard printer). This is fantastic, except one thing is missing. Real authors generally don’t publish just one book and their books are available, usually for purchase, to an interested audience. But still, having your very own self-published book is great. For a teacher with a classroom of students with published books that can go in their classroom library this is fantastic.


It could be better.

What if innovative educators can work with students to create their very own books?

This is possible today with as self-publishing companies make real authorship accessible to anyone with the desire to do so for free at places like Lulu and Blurb. Whether your students are working on memoir, how-to, fiction, picture book, etc. these sites have the self-publishing resources necessary to bring their ideas to life – and sell it to an eager audience around the world. As the Lulu site says, “Go ahead: share your wisdom with friends, generate income, raise money for your favorite nonprofit; in short, conquer the self-publishing world.” Both sites are free to use and provide free software tools.

Once students have published they can buy one paperback for themselves, or sell their book to the whole wide world. Books are published for as little as $6 and you decide exactly how much you want to earn from each sale. Along with the published book, every author will get their your own ISBN - and get distributed in more than 60,000 retail locations, online and off. Additionally, classrooms, schools, or districts can build their own online storefront to generate direct links, and more sales and forget inventory - when a book is bought, it gets printed, shipped and delivered on demand.

How Innovative Educators Can Get Started

1. Write your own book.

As innovative educators, you know the best way to get started, is by starting yourself. Go through the process and write your own book. Wouldn’t it be great for a school to be able to say they have a staff of published authors and proudly show the books on display for parents to buy on demand? And, what better way to model writing then to do so with your students from your own published book???

What better way to learn the ins and outs of publishing (or anything) then by trying it yourself. Both sites have numerous tutorials and guides to get you started and you’ll be in good company. Many innovative educators have already published books which you can see here.

Here are books I found by a couple authors I have heard of.

Classroom Blogging: 2nd Edition
David Warlick

35 Tech Tips For Teachers

Jennifer Wagner

2. Write a class book

Before diving right in with every student in your class publishing get your students excited about publishing a class book. This is a great way for students to become familiar with the concept of publishing. Additionally, depending on the topic this could go hand and hand with many subjects for instance:

  • Social Studies students could write a book about a topic they are studying (i.e. Native Americans, women’s issues, politics, etc.) and even consider donating profits to benefit the topic of their book.
  • Science students may write about local environmental issues and perhaps collaborate with experts in the area.

Again, you won’t be alone, but you’ll certainly be a pioneer in these lightly chartered waters. Take a look at some books being published by students.

Technology Now and Then: AESD Summer Technology Experience 2007 by Summer Technology Students

Technology Now and Then is a wonderful book written by students in a Summer Technology class comparing technology today with technology years ago. It covers the student’s daily lives and the technology they use. (35 pages) Paperback: $9.78 Download: $0.00

Our World Our Vision by Hutto High School U.S. On-level History Students

Our World, Our Vision 2008 focuses on events and topics occurring since the beginning of the millennium. The entries include opinions and student projections of the long lasting effects of these events and topics. (152 pages) Paperback: $27.33

Housing Matters by RIT Students

Rochester Institute of Technology students investigate housing in Rochester, NY (47 pages) Paperback: $11.58

Rainforest Exhibits: How we learned about creating an authentic biome by 6th Grade Students of Framingham Community Charter School

This book describes a year-long sixth grade learning expedition on biomes and zoo exhibits. The book documents our process, as well as what the students learned about specific animals. It is an appropriate reference for middle school teachers and students. (73 pages) Paperback: $6.25

3. Hand it off to your students.

Now that you’ve self-published a book and helped your class do the same, put it in the hands of your students to authentically begin publishing their own work. Perhaps have this goal in their mind from the beginning of the year so they have had an opportunity to think about what it is they will be publishing. Or, perhaps they take their favorite published piece to turn into a book. Think about what works and bring it to your classroom. The possibilities are as great as the imaginations of you and your students.

To Read More About Blurb and Lulu visit these sites.

Self Publishing: Lulu vs. Blurb - WetCanvas!

Writing is Easy... - Blurb v. Lulu -- Self-publishing sites

Web-based Self-Publishing Explodes - BusinessWeek

Cool Tools: Blurb * Lulu

Should I choose Blurb or Lulu for my photo album?

Pricing Showdown for Self-Publishing Photobooks.

Interested in Online Magazine Publishing, read this review about Issuu.
Issuu Review: Magazines never looked so sexy

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Footprints in the Digital Age

Will Richardson's essay in the November issue of Educational Leadership has been picked for free Web viewing. This is recommended reading for innovative educators interested in the concepts of "Digital Footprints," "Personal Learning Networks," "Googleability," "Social Networking," and more.