Friday, December 30, 2005

Audiobooks in the author's own voice

I have been an subscriber for almost two years (with a few breaks to catch up with listening to my purchases!) I mostly listen to fiction on my devices (iPod Mini, Treo650, Palm T|X, or iPod Nano) while traveling by train, plane, or automobile.

The narrators of the audiobooks are great and keep me interested. (I especially enjoyed the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series), but I have recently purchased two items, with the authors of the books acting as the narrator, too. One of these items is Ellen Degeneres' book "The Funny Thing is...", which, being comedy, is best read by the comedian who wrote the text!

The other title, John Battelle's book "The Search: How Google & Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business & Transformed Our Culture" is narrated by Mr. Battelle. I am only through chapter two, but it is wonderful to listen to the audiobook in the author's own voice. Since only the author really knows what he/she means, their inflections and cadence make the book fun to listen to! (Of course, this title is so full of great quotes I will have to buy it in hard copy anyway to savor the text!)

If you have not yet tried the audiobook style of "reading", give it a try!


Monday, December 19, 2005

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Screen Captures

One of the pieces of software that I use the most is software that does screen captures. Of course, you can always capture an entire Windows screen by simply choosing PRINT SCREEN and pasting into a document or image-editing program. (And, on a Mac, there are easy ways to do this within the operating system!) However, for training purposes, sometimes you just want to include part of a page or just an open window. There are commercial programs that do this well and include enhanced features (i.e. ScreenPrint Platinum and Screen Hunter 4.0 Pro and Plus), but there are some free programs that also get the job done in a pinch.

Windows-based machines
ScreenHunter 4.0 Free

List of other screen capture utilities

...two lists of freeware, shareware, and commercial screen-capture programs

--Kathy Schrock

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Critical Evaluation and the Wizard of Oz

We have a keen interest in tornadoes here in the Schrock household. (My son is even going storm chasing as his high school graduation present in June of 2006!) I found an interesting page put together by one of the pre-eminent storm chasers and retired severe storms researcher with the NSSL, Chuck Doswell, that I could add to my list of bogus sites to use with students.

Case Analysis of a Historic Killer Tornado Event

I have many more links to sites to use when teaching students critical evaluation skills that may be found on this page. If anyone has any others that they use with students, and that are appropriate for grade seven and up, please let me know!

Here is an interesting article by Tim Marshall talking about the creation of the tornado in the movie version of the Wizard of Oz. Here is a link to the book he obtained his information from.


Sunday, November 20, 2005

Kathy Schrock's Konsumer Korner

If you are a techno-gadget geek like I am, I am sure you get all types of questions around the holiday time of the year about digital cameras, camcorders, laptops, digital audio players, and many other types of gadgets that your friends and colleagues are wanting to purchase.

Today (11/20/05), in the Sunday newspaper Parade Magazine, the issue is devoted to technology gadgets, podcasting, and online shopping tips for tech. If you already recycled the Sunday paper, the archive of the articles may be found online here starting 11/28/05. Of course, as the Gadget Queen, I own many of the items in the article already. My most current purchase, due to ship this week, is the Fujitsu P1510D convertible tablet PC with the Tablet PC 2005 OS (which showed up as available last week and should show up again soon; it is back up today, 11/22/05).

As technology mentors to others, it is important we keep up with both technology tools that can impact teaching and learning, and those which our teachers and staff may be interested in for themselves. I am conducting an afterschool workshop early in December, called Kathy's Konsumer Korner, and we are spending an hour deciphering the cryptic (to some!) tech terminology found in advertisers' ads. I will also be giving a few hints on what to look for when purchasing various products. The participants are encouraged to come with questions as well as to bring their credit cards if they want some help with their first online purchase. That presentation will be available online on this page as of 11/22/05, in the Techno-Monday Workshop Handouts section.

I also have an entire presentation dealing with gadgets that I have been presenting and refining for the past year or so. The most current version in PDF format may be found here if you are interested. However, without my pithy comments, it is a bit hard to follow!


Thursday, November 17, 2005

Web 2.0

Tim O'Reilly, President and CEO of O'Reilly Media, recently wrote an article entitled "What is Web 2.0: Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software." This article discusses the evolution of the Web into its next generation of providing applications and interfaces that are significantly different than the ones we are used to via the Web. This is a business article, and rather technical at times, but it will give you a taste of the direction it seems the Internet is headed.

One of the basic tenets of Web 2.0 is that the Web is a place for remixing of content, whether by the user or by the content providers. This article, Web 2.0: Bootstrapping the Social Web, written by Richard McManus and Joshua Porter, gives a Web content designer's overview of what Web 2.0 means.

I am particularly interested in Web 2.0's concept of providing Web services and "moving away from place." I think, for our students and schools, this idea of your applications and data living on the Web, available where you are and on all types of devices, is powerful. In our schools, there are students who do not have a computer at home but use their friend's, the school library's, or the public library's computers. Applications distributed over the Web allow them access to the same software and storage of their data at any computer, no matter how locked down it is locally.

Some of the online applications and services we have students using include:

ThinkFree Office Online, an online application which provides a word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation component, an online word processing and, more importantly for our students, collaboration tool

YouSendIt, a short-term online data storage site which allows students to move a file up to it, and retrieve the file in another location

Have you found any online applications that are useful for you, your teachers, or your students? Please share!

Kathy Schrock

PS...Doug Johnson has some interesting ideas on a collaborative set of ISTE/AASL standards to help us all move towards Web 2.0 together!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Interactive Whiteboards

With more classrooms getting LCD projectors and interactive whiteboards, I decided to look around and add some links to some successful practices for using them in the classroom.

My district podcast last week was with a teacher who is just beginning to use this type of set-up in her "21st century classroom" and I will be following up with her later in the year to find out what things she has discovered.

Here are some links to interactive whiteboard ideas, lessons, tips, and tricks.

SMART Board Lesson Ideas

SMART Board Resources

SMART Board Ideas

Interactive Web Sites to use with an interactive white board

Art Lesson Plans for an Interactive Whiteboard

Speaking of Electronic Whiteboards

Primary Resources for Interactive Whiteboards

SMART Lesson Ideas

ICT Advice: How to Use Your Interactive Whiteboard Effectively

If you have experience with the SMART or Promethean whiteboards at any level, please share with the rest of us!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Three Cool Online Tools

Sometimes, when you are creating Web pages, it is hard to figure out the palette to use to make it easy on the eyes and colorful. These two tools can help you make decisions, and give you the information to input the correct color into your HTML code, too!

Color Schemer Online

Color Scheme Generator

In addition, simply upload a picture and then enter its URL on this page, and you are presented with a palette of colors to use that enhance the picture's colors!

Color Palette Generator

Saturday, October 08, 2005

My First Podcast!

I decided to take the plunge and create and syndicate a podcast. Making the podcast, convincing teachers to be interviewed, and mounting the MP3 file up on the server were easy.

I then created a Blogger page to house the podcasts, and used Feedburner to syndicate the podcast using an RSS 2.0 feed. (There are directions on Feedburner to follow to complete this part, if you are interested in making your own podcast.)

I then submitted the podcast to the iTunes music store, and it is now listed under Podcasts-Education-K12 (or search for Nauset). If you have another aggregator, such as iPodder, you can subscribe, too.

The Feedburner feed is:
This can be typed into your aggregator or even used in this new tool I discovered, NetVibes.

The blog is here if you simply want to listen to the MP3:

Let me know what you think!


Two blogs in which I have appeared as a guest:
Snacks 4 the Brain
Paradigm Shift

Monday, October 03, 2005

Podcast Directory K-12

I WAS mulling over the idea of creating a PreK-12 podcast directory which would provide links to the informational pages offered by K-12 schools dealing with their podcasts and how to listen to them, or links to the podcasts themselves. I feel this is going to be an important and well-used technology in the schools. However, after a little research, I see that David Warlick has already created a well-done structure here ( and I encourage you to take a listen and see what schools are doing in this area!

I hope this entices more educators to create podcasts to share with the rest of us in the areas of professional development, curriculum issues, etc. Archived football games and student concerts are enjoyable (and important!) for your school community, but, as educators, we hold many conversations and meetings on topics of interest to all of us. I hope this leads to some of us creating recordings of sessions we give and posting a link to them on David's site, so we can learn from one another. (Perhaps using the word "educasting" might work!) Thoughts?


Thursday, September 22, 2005

Blogging Safety

I have received notes from teachers this fall asking my opinion of using blogs in the classroom. As with any publishing by our students on the Web, it is important in a school setting that we keep them safe from unsolicited contact. The "anyone can comment" aspect of a blog both allows for the desirable feedback on a published piece, but can also lead to unwanted communication from a stranger.

It is also, at times, too easy to identify a student from a simple comment in a blog posting or essay-- the school is already identified from the title of the blog or the originating URL, and, by the student simply stating he/she is the "goalie on the soccer team", it may lead to an encounter. Even without any names on the blog, at a game, just the simple cheering on by the crowd can provide the student's name for the stranger.

I know I sound paranoid, but this is a different world we live in. We have been careful over the years to keep student pictures and names off of any Web pages we have created. Blogging in the classroom should be no different. Throw in the ease of publication and the interactive commenting, and the chances for a potential problem may be compounded.

There are a couple of solutions I feel can be utilized to still allow this powerful type of tool to be used in a classroom setting.

1. Get parental permission to use this publishing format with their children.

2. Do not use names, only initials or a "handle" for student posting.

3. Take advantage of a blogging tool created by David Warlick. Blogmeister was created especially for the K-12 arena and it will not allow any postings or comments to go live on the blog without the classroom teacher's approval. The teacher creates a class list of those who can post and also can monitor any comments and work to ensure the students are safe (and the student work is acceptable before going public!)

On a related note, if you are conducting a workshop for parents on Internet safety and home use of computers, you may want to take a look at this article dealing with blog use by students.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Free online applications

I have spent some time today with two (free!) online applications that are fun to use and work well both on the Windows and Apple operating systems.

The first is ThinkFreeOffice, a Java-based office suite that has a version which allows you to create word processing documents, spreadsheets, and presentations online! You are allocated 30MB of online storage space, you can easily edit a presentation created with Microsoft Office applications, and ThinkFreeOffice allows you to "save as PDF", too!

Think Free Office Online:

The other, mycardmaker, requires the Flash plug-in, but it is easy to create you own greeting cards with their beautiful designs or by using a picture or photo from your own computer.


Saturday, September 10, 2005

Finding old links

There are a few sites I use all of the time, and sometimes I forget to share these gems with other teachers. The Internet Archive is dedicated to collecting Web sites to allow permanent access to these sites for researchers.

One of their easy-to-use tools is the Wayback Machine. Simply type the URL of a site that no longer works, and you will be presented with a list of clickable dates that the page was cached and saved to the Internet Archive. Sometimes the images and external links are broken, but it just wonderful to be able to get at information you thought was gone forever!

The Internet Archive and the Wayback Machine may be found here:

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Sending large files

E-mail providers often put a limit on the size of a file you are able to send as an attachment. In addition, students are often unable to move files from home to school and back again. You Send It,, is a great free service that can be helpful for you and your students when you need to move large files back and forth.

For students who are at home, all they need to do is to fill in their personal email address on the page, browse on the local computer for the file (up to 1 GB in size), upload it, and send the note to themselves. In a bit, they will receive an email with the hyperlink to click on to download the file. They should remember to copy down this URL before they go to school to retrieve the file. Then, they can simply visit the link and download the file. It stays on their server for up to 7 days. When at school, they can simply repeat the process and retrieve the file when they get home.

As teachers, you can use this to send large items to colleagues or also use it to move large files between home and school!


Sunday, August 14, 2005

PowerPoint Presenter View Mode

Okay, perhaps I am the LAST person who uses PowerPoint on a regular basis to know that there has been a Presenter's View built-in to the software for the last couple of versions...both on the PC and the Apple versions. This mode allows you to set-up your laptop (or a desktop with two video cards) to show the presentation on the monitor the audience can see, while it allows you, the presenter, to see your notes view as well as small thumbnails of the slides, and it includes a few other useful options, too. Simply type "presenter" in the PowerPoint help file and there are well-done directions for setting up the dual monitors and the views. I am so happy I don't have to drag my paper notes with me anymore for presenting!

Two tips...the iBook does not have the ability to do anything but mirror the laptop monitor (unless you install an update which I actually did successfully on my brand new 12" iBook after taking a big breath), so I do not believe you can use the presenter's view. And, on my Windows XP laptop, I could not have the mirroring turned on (function-F10) when I was trying to get the presenter's view to work on dual monitors.

Just in case anyone else did not know about this!


Friday, August 12, 2005

Handhelds and the new Net technologies

For those of you using handhelds for personal and professional use, as well as using classroom sets of them with your students, here are a couple of Web sites you can access to allow you to use the newer Internet features with via the handheld.

For RSS feeds, you can download specific software for your handheld platform so you can read your favorite blog updates off-line, or you can simply sign up for a free account on Bloglines. They have a mobile version of their RSS feeder which works well on a handheld computer called Bloglines Mobile.

A list of various titles of RSS reader software for the handheld computer may be found on William Hungerford's Palmtops site on, for Palm and PocketPC.

If you are still investigating the use of Wikipedia in the classroom (see an earlier post for more information about that!), there is a handheld computer version that parses well on the small screen called Wapipedia.


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Wi-fi on the road

During NECC 2005, in Philadelphia, I was hanging around the street corner, using my 30 free days of T-mobile wireless access that came with my Palm Lifedrive by surfing the signal from the T-Mobile store on the corner. Boy, did I feel silly, especially when people I knew walked by! Of course, I also picked up a access point called "Starbucks", and, looking across the street, I realized it would be much nicer to go inside, have a latte, and use the T-mobile access from Starbucks!

Are you often looking for places to check your email with your laptop or wirelessly-enabled handheld computer when you are away from home, like I am?

This site, MetroFreeFi, provides lists of free wi-fi hot spots for all regions of the US. Take the time to view your town, and, if you know of any free access site that is (legally) available and not included, add it to the database! (To submit a new hotspot, simply look at the list of "latest hotspots" and the link to submit a site is at the bottom.)

In addition, you can download a database of up to 1000 hotspots to the notes section of your iPod using wiPod.

Gotta love technology!


Handheld Research Article

The Journal of Technology, Learning, and Assessment recently included an article entitled "Designing Handheld Software to Support Classroom Assessment: Analysis of Conditions for Teacher Adoption."

The key research questions included:
What kinds of software designs can be feasibly implemented in classrooms that support effective assessment practice?
What are the conditions under which teachers can adopt handheld tools to support classroom assessment?

However, the 3-year study provides additional information that can be used for a number of purposes, such as learning more about handhelds and assessment, addressing assessment in general, for justification for writing your own grants, and much more.


Thursday, August 04, 2005


Don't you just love summer vacation when you get a chance to experiment with the new technologies? So far, I have compiled all of the information in my various blogs into this single blog, have completed my second interview via podcast, and today I created my own wiki at

What's the difference between a wiki and a blog you ask? It's simple....this blog allows me to post information and questions, and, if I want to, I can allow you, the reader, to make comments.

A wiki, on the other hand, is "owned" by more than one person, and anyone with the password can edit the information on the wiki. A record is kept of all the changes that are made, so anyone visiting can go back and see the process.

There is a site, (pbWiki), which will allow you to create a wiki of your own. Whoever you share the password with will be able to edit the content. Give it a try...the directions are easy to follow!


Wednesday, August 03, 2005

NYT Circuits Section: Back to School w/ Technology

The August 3, 2005 New York Times Circuits section deals with technology and its impact on teaching and learning. Several educators are highlighted including Paul Reinhart, Kathy Schrock (!), and Bonnie Bracey. Take a look! (There is a free registration process required for viewing the online NYT.)

The Circuits section also covers new technologies, podcasting by elementary students, and much more!


Monday, August 01, 2005

Snacks for the Brain-- Science Resources

I recently conducted an ansynchronous interview with Scott Merrick, a high-energy educator I met at a workshop where we were both presenting. It has been mounted as a podcast, and you can download it from this page in MP3 format if you wish!


Saturday, July 30, 2005


For those of you who blog or use blogs, you need to know about Technorati, a keyword search tool for blogs. It also offers an easy way to track keywords and names, ot keep you easily apprised of any posts using these terms.

They have also just created a Technorati Mobile app to use with a handheld device.


Friday, July 29, 2005


Okay, I guess I am late to this technology, since I have had access to full-featured video and web-conferencing tools via Macromedia Breeze and have not experimented with the consumer tools.

It is easy to install and use Skype, which is a telephone-like system for the computer that is free! It even allows the participants to talk at the same time...gotta love the ability to interrupt! I am doing a test next week to see if I can participate in an interview over Skype which will then be turned into a Podcast. I will let you know how it works!


Thursday, July 28, 2005


I have spent the morning setting up a mobile blog that allows me to send information from my cell phone to a Blogger blog. Since I have the Treo 650, which is more like a mini-computer and is not quite the same as a regular cell phone that takes pictures and sends e-mail, the process was a bit more complex.

Here is info on how to get started if you are intersted.

I can send SMS messages to my mobile blog, and e-mail messages, but cannot get pictures to appear, even if I choose to send an MMS message. I guess it will do for now.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Wikipedia discussion

I am not yet ready to offer my opinion, but I have been giving this whole Wikipedia thing a lot of thought. I first watched the Webcast of the opening keynoter at NECC 2005, David Weinberger, entitled The New Shape of Knowledge.

I then listened to a 02/22/05 NPR broadcast dealing specifically with Wikipedia.

Andy Carvin has also written a thoughtful essay that describes ways to use Wikipedia in the classroom. Give it a read.

As one who deals with using, organizing, accessing and evaluating information (and teaching others to do the same) on a daily basis, I am really torn.

PS Another interesting article may be found here, in the Village Voice.

Your thoughts and why?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Combining blogs

Dear All,

I maintain a couple of blogs, and I am going to continue them here, so they are all in one place, on Kathy's Kaffeeklatsch. Please set your bookmarks to

or your RSS feeds (get an online one at



NECC 2005 Information

For those of you who attended or are interested in the list of links to the items I included in my NECC 2005 presentation, "The Magic of Technology Gadgets for Educators", you may find them here:

The presentation was intended to be a light-hearted look back, but, more importantly, an eye-opener for teachers who will be thinking of very creative ways to use these devices to support teaching and learning.

One idea that I have been promoting is the use of a USB flash drive or MP3 player to minimize the number of students who don't have access to some software applications at home. You can read more about that here, in an article entitled SOAP on a Rope. Feel free to post your comments about the article and any other thoughts you have about devices in the classroom!

Saturday, March 05, 2005

New technology in your school

Take a minute to share the most exciting new technology device(s) or programs you have in your school that you see as having a positive impact on teaching and learning. Please include:
  • Your grade level and subject
  • The exciting new technology
  • How you use it with students