Thursday, July 31, 2008

Art Rage

When a small child approaches a PC for the first time and you want to give them a chance to play, what's the first program that you usually launch? I would guess Paint, which is exactly what I did for my three year old this week.

He loved moving the mouse and seeing the colors zipping across the screen, but I thought that there must be a better program out there for him to 'play' with and I found Art Rage 2.5

It's a graphic program where the tools try to mimic real art tools. The Paint Brush tool is not a single color but looks more like actual paint that 'globs' on and spreads thin as you use it. You can mix colors with the Knife tool and so on. You can add layers, stencils, and much more. It works with Mac or PC and there's a free download with some of the tools missing and it cost $25 for the full versions.

And most importantly, my son loves it ;)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Going Global

Dean Shareski recently posted a presentation he made called Going Global, Going Public. (It was even featured on the front page of Slideshare as the Slideshow of the Day.) My high school was mentioned in it for gifting domain names to every senior.

"Nokomis Regional High 2008 graduating class received their own name as a web address (or domain) that they would control. It's reserved for one year at which time they can purchase it, transfer the address or let it lapse, it's up to them. It is the equivalent of their 21st century business card and now they need to be active managers of their digital identity."

Friday, July 18, 2008

BLC08 Keynote - Ewan McIntosh

Watching Ewan McIntosh's keynote at Alan November's BLC08 conference reminded me of Will Richardson's post from last year's conference, he's a rock star plain and simple. He really has his head in the right place when it comes to working with students and getting the most out of them. Work with them as kids first, then worry about the technology.

During the conference last year I was lucky enough to bring students with me and one of them interviewed Ewan. You can hear it HERE. He is as real as it gets and an amazing resource of ideas.

Here's the keynote:

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Picture Book Websites

I've used these sites for awhile and commented about them on Wes Fryer's Speed of Creativity blog but I'm now realizing that I've never covered them here. They are and

Both have a ton of picture books that you or your students can read and Lookybook even allows you to embed them which would be especially helpful if you wanted students to focus on a single story from the collection.

At the Big Universe site you not only can read picture books, you can create your own which is a great way for student to publish stories.

Monday, July 07, 2008


What's Plurk? Well, if you use Twitter, than you've got the idea plus or minus some features. (if you don't know what Twitter is, watch this video and you'll get the idea.)

The interesting thing to me about Plurk isn't the microblogging (we've had that) or another way to build a personal learning network (there are MANY ways for this to happen) but how one uses Plurk to build 'Karma.' Every users builds a karma value. One gets more karma by
  • Updating your profile (picture, location, birth day etc.) will gain your more karma
  • Quality plurking each day
  • Responses from other plurkers will gain you karma.
  • Inviting your real friends will boost your karma
So this concept immediately got me thinking about. Gaia Online. This site was a huge draw for many of my students last year. It's market's itself as the

"Gaia provides a fun, social environment that inspires individuality and creativity. With everything from art contests to discussion forums on poetry, politics, celebrities and more, to fully customizable profiles, digital characters and cars, Gaia is a place where teens can create their own space and express their individual style."

Sound familiar? Users, mostly teens, can go there and by chatting or playing collaborative games with each other earn gold to buy virtual clothes for their avatars. And believe me, they work they tail off for some digital image of a shirt or mask or whatever.

Educationally we must ask why they do this and how can we tap into this desire to produce. I had students who did not consider themselves writers who had made hundreds of posts to deck out their avatar.

For more info, here are my students explaining Gaia Online here in Part 1 and Part 2.