Wednesday, January 28, 2009

How Stuff Works

Inquisitive students in your class? Need a new direction to point them towards for answers? Check out! This website was first known as “the” place to go for how common gadgets worked. It quickly evolved, and now, this site has become a place that offers answers and great, simplistic explanations on all kinds of topics and processes.

There are now TONS of questions your students can find answers too. You can also easily build lesson plans around some of the questions/topics. Some questions are even answered in the form of a video!

Categories include History, Geography, Animals, Computers, Health, Science, Money, and many more. Need Examples? Take a look at these links… I am sure they will catch your creative eye!

Is the Dead Sea Really Dead?

Who Owns the Oceans?

How Viruses Work

How Stocks and the Stock Market Work

How Barack Obama Works

My personal favorite is a section called “Everyday Science”. Here, you can find the answers to questions like “How do Sunglasses Work?” or “What Causes an Ice Cream Headache?"

These are all questions that easily make you tilt your head and go hmmmmmm. Well, now you can find the answers!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Are You Blue?

Have you heard of Digital Blue? Their name is becoming common among kids in some classrooms across the globe these days. Digital Blue is an innovative technology company that specializes in products for today's youth. What are they known for? Their Digital Movie Creator which easily allows kids to become film directors and executive producers of their own movie productions. Digital Blue has gone so far as to incorporate their products into the classroom by teaming with another company called Freshi (pronounced Fresh Eye).

With the collaboration of both companies, state standards can be met in Science, Social Studies and even Math. They are also in the process of creating specific lesson plans for teachers.

Want to check them out? Visit them online at

Check out freshi at

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Web Proxy

We have all heard the terms “Web Proxy” but is there true understanding of what those words really mean? To understand this process, let’s first answer a few questions.

What is a proxy server?
A proxy server is a computer that offers a network service which serves as a middle-man in allowing a person/computer to connect to a website indirectly.

How does a web proxy work?
You are essentially allowed to anonymously browse websites. For example, if you try to connect to on your computer and it is blocked/filtered within your internet access, you would connect to a proxy server web address and the proxy server web address would then connect to that site for you…. Literally, your computer connects to the proxy service on another computer and that computer then connects to the site you want to visit – and allows you to view it.

Why should a web proxy be a concern in the classroom?
There are many, many sites that students would love to visit and interact with during school hours. These developed web proxy sites allow students to temporarily side-step filtering processes in place that are set up to ensure and encourage their safety online.

How can educators and parents work together to solve this problem?
Continue to give students instructions on what is and what is not appropriate to visit online. Filters are already in place within schools, but new web proxy/sites are developed all the time! Teachers must monitor what their students are viewing online. And, equally, parents must monitor their children online at home, as well.

Rest assured that ever-increasing technologies allow these web proxy sites to become filtered. So, even though students may have found a temporary solution to visit their favorite sites – those web proxy sites soon get caught in school filtering systems and the students will be unable to visit those sites. District technology departments are always on the lookout to catch new web proxy sites and put them in their place - on the filter list!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Web Versions?

The World Wide Web has progressed tremendously over the past 10 years. I remember vividly the days of html programming before WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) editors came along. The days when animation was “the” going thing on a website are long gone. Instead, we have evolved to the dawn of a new era we are now entering called Web 3.0.

Before fully appreciating Web 3.0, we must first understand Web 1.0 and 2.0! Here are some simple (definitely debatable) characteristics that function under each web version.

Web 1.0
-Reading, Reading, Reading
-All types of publications were posted online for viewing (brief “paper-less” time period)
-Usually “static” webpages there were not always updated on a consistent/evolving basis
-Sites were informational only, usually not requiring/providing the capability for website visitors’ input
-Sites were usually about selling/marketing products/services
-Netscape (popular browser then)
-Success sometimes defined by the number of page views!
-Web 1.0 was in full swing around the business boom and then losses…
-Mostly Dial-Up connections!

Web 2.0
-Interaction, Interaction, Interaction
-User-created/generated content
-Social Networking (Face Book, MySpace, etc.)
-Social Bookmarking (Delicious, etc.)
-Open Source Applications

The list for 2.0 literally goes on and on and on...

What can we expect next/now?

Web 3.0
-Advanced computer graphics
-Artificial Intelligence/Semantic Web (computer-driven information & content distribution/sharing)
-Greater and more intriguing user-interaction
-Broader open-source applications
-More open-data sources (content to the masses with less restrictions)

Based on research from Nova Spivack, Wikipedia sums it up in an excellent manner… Web 1.0 was "read-only", Web 2.0 is "read-write", and Web 3.0 will be "read-write-execute."