Pragmatic tools and ideas for the classroom

Digital Magic #8

Welcome to Dave’s Digital Magic #8

Here are 5 links for you to explore.



A world map that you can add information on.

Our school is on there, but it could use an update… the local 7-11 is labeled too.

You can add pictures and information anywhere on the map.

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2. Fun with Blocks


Your own digital landscape

Ever wanted to create your own isometric pixel picture, but didn’t know what the word isometric meant? Well, now you can fulfil your wildest dreams with Cubescape!

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3. More Artistic fun…


Not sure how you would use this with a class, but I had fun with it!

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4. Science Galore

James Linzel’s Science Links on U Tech Tips

Astronomy, Simple Machines, Chemestry, Biology… and more!

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The Three E’s

That brings me to the third E, “Empowerment”.

In this approach students are part of the system itself. They participate in decisions about what is taught, what they would like to learn, and what strategies and tools they would like to use in the learning process. Some may decide to work more independently, some in groups; but they are part of the process of deciding what goes on in their own learning.

I attempted something like this with my ScienceAlive Wiki. I reflected on the project and how I would improve on it here: Wikis in the classroom: a reflection.

As we head into June, what can we do to help students leave our school feeling like they are empowered learners?

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Did you miss an edition of Digital Magic? Is there one you want to look back on again? Here are all the editions of Digital Magic in reverse order, (most recent first).

Have a great week!


May 25, 2008 Posted by | Art, David Truss, digital magic, Pair-a-Dimes, Science, tools, web based | , , , , | Comments Off on Digital Magic #8

Digital Magic #4

Welcome to Dave’s Digital Magic #4

Here are 5 links for you to explore.



It simply doesn’t get any easier than this to collaborate online.

Click on “Start a new meeting”, name your session, check the ‘private’ box. Invite people to join you by e-mail… and you are collaborating on your own personal online space.

Real collaboration, in real time.

Mark up websites, graphics, and photos, or start brainstorming on a blank canvas. Browse the web with your friends or make that conference call more productive than ever. No plug-ins, downloads, or firewall voodoo – it’s all here, ready to go when you are. Browser-agnostic, user-friendly, mom approved. Oh yeah, it does one-click audio chats too.Real collaboration, in real time.

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A great site with sections for Teachers, Students and Parents.

Here is a link to the Teacher’s Resource Page: Lesson plans, illustrations, glossary and much more. 

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Probably most useful with students on adapted programs,

(and also in Biology/Science classes).
"Visual Dictionary, to learn by way of image with thematic, 

clear and precise pages, with concise and rigorous texts...

Different from an encyclopedia or from a traditional online dictionaries, 

thesauri and glossaries because the images replace the words."

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4. WOW


My favorite, taken from the original source below,

is the Silhouette Illusion.

Stare long enough and she changes directions!

(If not look away and use your peripheral vision.)

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NOTE ON THE USE OF THIS RUBRIC: [Check out the link before reading this!]

Habits of Mind are the characteristics of what intelligent people do when they are confronted with problems, the resolution(s) to which are not immediately apparent. These behaviors are seldom performed in isolation. Rather, clusters of such behaviors are drawn forth and employed in various situations.”

 (Arthur L. Costa and Bena Kallick: 16 Habits of Mind) The purpose of a rubric when assessing student work is to provide benchmarks of achievement based on these habits which allow a student to understand their current level of mastery and discipline in order to set goals for future drafts, assessments, or marking periods. For as long as possible we will refrain from discussing grades, per se, and focus our discussion on achievement and progress. As long as a student continues to set goals, reflect and evaluate their work and habits, set new goals and modify their work, habits and effort accordingly, they will realize increasing success and achievement as the year progresses. Thus, rather than penalizing a student who begins the year as a believer and ends the year with nothing compared to them by averaging a lower earlier grade with a later higher one, the student is evaluated according to mastery and achievement as demonstrated by their ability and mastery by the end of the year. However, a student who may begin the year with the drive and motivation to knock on heaven’s door, but who then slacks off, loses focus and discipline and ends up wondering what they did to deserve this, will not be boosted from a D to a C because first quarter was strong when it is not reflective of the ability or master he or she consistently demonstrated.

Could you use this rubric or parts of it?

How important are these ‘Habits of the Mind’?

What does this rubric look at compared to what our report cards look at?

Do you ‘average’ previous terms or give ‘snapshots’ of where students are now?

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Did you miss an edition of Digital Magic? Is there one you want to look back on again? Here are all the editions of Digital Magic in reverse order, (most recent first).

Have a great week!

April 27, 2008 Posted by | across the curric., digital magic, learning, lesson idea, Science, teaching, technology, tools, web based | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Digital Magic #3

Welcome to Dave’s Digital Magic #3

Here are 5 links for you to explore.


Periodic Table of Visualization Tools

Periodic Table of Visualization Tools

Click on the link and then put your mouse over any section for a visual example of the tool. Great to remind you of different ways to visually express ideas.

Lesson plan: Students choose one tool from two different categories to demonstrate what they have learned.

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Back to Wiki’s


At our staff Pro-D session there were more questions about wiki’s. (Wiki-wiki means Quick in Hawaiian, not ‘clueless’ as I joked) 🙂

I provided a more informational introduction to wiki’s in Digital Magic #1, but this video is much more fun! Think of a word document online, that everyone who is invited can change, that includes a tracking history to see who did what. Or ask an expert, Stan, Sharon, or Lawrence, to show off their wiki’s. Here is one that I did for Science, where I tried to bring Science Alive! Check out the Senses page for a few projects.
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World Mapper

Worldmapper is a collection of world maps, where territories are re-sized on each map according to the subject of interest. The map below is according to Population.

The world drawn to scale according to population

There are now nearly 600 maps. Maps 1-366 are also available as PDF posters. Use the menu above to find a map of interest.
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Cyril has a fishy card trick

This is CRAZY! Cyril does his magic trick, ‘oooh-ahhh…’ then he says, “But wait…” and then takes it even further… simply amazing!
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Clarence Fisher, a brilliant Canadian teacher and blogger, wrote this short paper (4 easy-to-read pages), Changing Literacies (PDF).

Being literate is so much more than being able to understand a written text on a piece of paper.

Here is a quote from his section on Access,

“Fast forward to our society and the ability we now have to drown ourselves in
cheap, disposable information from books, television, the internet, radio,
magazines, video, etc. In our time, one of the major skills of being literate is
the ability to access texts in many different forms from many different sources.
Importantly, it is not about searching for texts, it’s about finding them.”

In this article, Clarence describes why I became a ‘technology guy’. Actually, I don’t really care about technology… I just see how these tools, like wiki’s, can engage students in meaningful ways, where they create and share what they have learned in new, interesting ways.

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Did you miss an edition of Digital Magic? Is there one you want to look back on again? Here are all the editions of Digital Magic in reverse order, (most recent first).

Have a great week!

April 20, 2008 Posted by | across the curric., digital magic, education, learning, lesson idea, lessons, Science, Social Studies, teaching, technology, web based, web2.0 | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Digital Magic #3

Google Sketchup

By Google, found at: http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/download?mid=7260955c15e5b481753ea31d732a49b0&rtyp=lt
What a great tool!
Imagine what a student can do with this for the Renaissance Fair… forget the cardboard Church in Architechture, or the lego castle in Warfare.

I can also use this in my on-line Da Vinci Project.

January 3, 2007 Posted by | Art, links, Math, Science, Social Studies, teaching, technology, tools, web based | 1 Comment