Open Source Tools

Thanks to 20-year-old college student Chris Sardinas, West Palm Beach is one of the five finalists (along with cities in Peru, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom) for Google’s Model Your Town competition. Voting is now open and runs through May 1st, 2010 and of course we want to support our hometown, right?

You can see more about the competition in this blog posting at the Palm Beach Post site or use the link above to see all the competitors.

This is remarkable work and no matter how the competition turns out Chris is to be congratulated on his outstanding work, modeling well-known landmarks such as the Phillip’s Point building, Trump Towers, Good Samaritan hospital, and the historic Palm Beach County courthouse. Chris even stepped across Lake Worth to model The Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach.

You can download the Google Earth file yourself at this link (KML format) and have a more detailed look, or view a video demonstration below.

Get your votes in today for your hometown and for the phenomenal work that Chris has done!

I often come across a link that I will share with a particular department, or group of teachers. I think this would be an example of one that may be of interest to many elementary, and select secondary teachers.
Sheppard Logo is a site that has many fun and free educational games that cover many different subjects. This site was highlighted by CNN as a “Fun Site of the Week”, and I can see why.

If you take a few minutes to explore this fabulous resource, you will find everything from Astronomy to Zoology, from basic math operations to pre-algebra, from history to health, and even SAT vocabulary builders.

Whether you’d like to use this during your scheduled lab or computer time (although there are a few blocked advertisement banners, yes this site is currently available inside our firewall!) or by providing links to specific games as supplemental resources on your Edline pages, I can’t think of anyone I know who would not see true value in providing these fun and effective options for their students!

Sometimes technology can provide things that are simply FUN! Thank Goodness!! One of the niftier web apps I have come across lately is called … BIGSTAGE….

This program is a Beta right now which means that it might not be perfect, and that the developers hope to learn about how users use and like/dislike their program. At you can create a free account and do stuff like…
edtechguru gets into American Gothic
Screenshot form a video clip

This is a screenshot of a video clip “Starring ME” that you can watch at

If you upload three photos of your face, it does an admirable job of creating a 3D avatar with your likeness… VERY COOL!!

I was doing a little research on an entirely unrelated topic this afternoon and came across a recommendation for a service called Wordle at The Edublogger’s blog. Turns out this is one way fun little application that will take a block of text that you copy and paste into a text field, OR, as in the example below, even an RSS feed from a blog like this one.

And what exactly is a Word Cloud anyway? The idea is that the more a word appears in a block of text (or in data that a service is providing) the bigger and more prominently it is displayed in the cloud. In this example you can see that the word most often featured in articles at this blog happens to be teachers. No big surprise there!

You can use the Wordle service to create your own text-based works of art for free! Then save the image, or share it via the Web. Either way, it’s a pretty interesting way to visualize information.


Thinking about this some more, wouldn’t this be a great activity to do with student essays? Imagine using this tool to demonstrate the concept of the main idea, or to visually study your students use of language and their vocabulary?  And of course, I think students and parents might like to see the resuls of having their essays Wordled. Here’s an example from an essay I grabbed from the Student Models at the WriteSource website. I think this particular Mom likes to laugh. 🙂

Mom Essay after being Wordled




We’re moving right along here at our new blogging enterprise. We’ve hit a few snags along the way, but for the most part our first serious stab at implementing Web 2.0 tools in our school district has been going well. From the simple standpoint of cost–everything we’re currently experimenting with is completely F.R.E.E. –and, well, things are going very well.

In addition, we’ve had some interesting internal discussions about the role of these tools and how we might use them to impact instruction. As part of the process we’ve been mind-mapping Web 2.0 tools and services we are considering–and how they are interconnected–using the cool little free service from (Create an account and make your own!)

Here’s a snapshot of our efforts so far. You can drag or re-size the image below or visit our account and see the full size map.

Now, what do you think? Seeing how these tools might be used how would you like to see these services provided? Are there risks involved? As always, we encourage your comments!