Sunday, December 31, 2006


I have been tagged by Cheryl Lykowski as part of the "tell 5 things that others don't know about you" game that the edubloggers are playing. Of course, having been on the Web and the conference circuit for so long, there is practically nothing that everyone does not already know about me, since I use my personal life things all of the time in my presentations! It is well-known that I ride a motorcycle, live in a geodesic dome, that my hero was (and is) Dave DeBusschere, I watch Days of Our Lives every day, and I was my high school mascot. Digging into the past, here are 5 that perhaps I have not shared publicly!

1. I won local and regional spelling bees and went to the NJ State Spelling Bee when I was in 8th grade. I studied words that I could not pronounce (but could spell!) We got lost on the way to the spelling bee and I got there late, ran on the stage, and immediately was called to spell my word which was "superintendent." I was so rattled, I spelled it still bothers me each time I have to write or type it even now!

2. I used to ride my motorcycle on back roads, well before I was old enough to have a license. I wired the horn button to be a "kill switch" in case we came across any authorities so I could shut off the engine quickly!

3. On the same subject, I spent most of high school (when not cheerleading or being an Eagle) in the garage re-building two motorcycles from the cardboard boxes I bought them in!

4. I was never absent a single day of high school. A couple of my friends even came to school on Senior Skip Day to keep me company!

5. I once got into real trouble for trespassing...the rest of this story will be shared over good food and in a relaxed atmosphere with you in person!

Okay, many of my close blogger friends have been tagged, but there are a few great ones who have (I hope!) not yet been invited! OK, consider yourself tagged!

Here are their names and blinks...

Tony Vincent
Jim Wenzloff
Steve Dembo
Doug Johnson

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Pink Technology

I admit it...I gravitate towards technology that comes in pink (probably because I don't expect "real" technology to come in pink).

I immediately bought the original iPod Mini when it came out in pink, and now have a new pink techno-toy in my collection-- the coral pink Nintendo DS Lite!(

I knew it was meant to be mine when, stopping into the local Toys"R"Us store yesterday, just to look, there happened to be only one DS Lite available, and the 10-year old boy who was looking at it assured his mom he truly did not want the pink one. So it became mine! (Let me be clear that I am not a gamer...the last time I played a computer game it was Wolfenstein 3D on a Windows 3.1 machine!) I bought the Big Brain Academy brain-training cartridge and it is hard!

The technology is powerful, to say the least. The DS Lite has a microphone, which is used in some games (such as another brain-training game, Brain Age), one touch screen and one static screen, does WiFi with certain games, allows multiple players to play from a single cartridge for some games, and there has been a Web browser released in Japan and the UK, which should be coming to the US soon, which is the Opera browser ported to the DS Lite.

My Australian buddy, Judy Beal, brought two of these devices to the ACEC2006 Convention in Cairns in September. She has purchased a bunch for her classroom, and the students use the "edutainment" cartridges as well as the other very cool feature...the built-in PictoChat function which allows up to 16 Nintendo DS users to connect in real time. (However, she and Greg Gebhart simply chatted their way through my presentation!) The PictoChat instruction booklet even contains some educationally-related ways to use this technology. Because you can share drawings, students can "finish the picture" from a fellow student, copy and make changes to someone else's drawing, and even make a flip book animation project!

Here are some additional links for ideas on how these devices can be used to support teaching and learning.

So, if you see me at a conference, clutching my new pink technology, come take a look!

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Friday, December 29, 2006

Zoho Creator (online Web 2.0 database tool)

Our district has used Intuit's Quickbase, a subscription-based online database application, for years. It has met our needs for our technology inventory, online registration for PD classes, collection of staff and student data, surveys, etc.

Here is a free Web 2.0 database tool, Zoho Creator ( that does virtually the same thing! There will probably wind up being a subscription version, but the creators promise there will always be a free version available.

I created a test survey, located is easy! You can even easily embed the database form into another Web or blog page.

Kathy Schrock

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

WordTalk: free text read-aloud plug-in

Here is a link to a piece of free software that, when installed, works as a plug-in for Word 97 and better (for Windows only). It reads text aloud and highlights the text as it reads, as well as including a talking dictionary and a number of configurable options.


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Technology definition for "blink"

Bonnie Jackman, a guidance counselor in my district, came up with this idea today. I am formalizing it and hope you begin to spread the "word" and use it!


1. a Web link to a blog entry

1. to include a Web link to a blog entry on an Web page or in a print source; "The local high school blog was blinked in the local newspaper and on the state Department of Education Web site."

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Blast from the past...

Just was trying out the new image search function and came across this old holiday version of my schoolhouse, in the day. Ah, sweet memories of the early days of the Web!


If you are going to NECC, mark your calendars!

This year, ISTE's National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) will be held at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, with pre-conference workshops on June 23rd, the opening keynote and reception on June 24th, and concurrent sessions and workshops through June 27, 2007.

I have been acccepted to present a Spotlight Session on Monday, June 25, 2007, from 12:30pm-1:30pm entitled "A Bright Idea: Shedding Light on Web 2.0 Applications." Mark your calendars and hope to see you there!


Saturday, December 16, 2006

Yugma: no-cost web-conferencing!

Many of us have attended Webex Webinars but do not have the ability to host one of our own. Yugma is a new product that allows you to host an event for up to 10 users (of either platform) for no-cost!

The audio component is being re-done, but you can always use Skype for the audio portion. Give it a try with some colleagues or friends!

Happy Holidays to all!


Sunday, December 03, 2006

Two new programs:
Adobe Acrobat 8 and MS Office 2007

I have been playing with Acrobat 8 Professional and it does lots of cool new things, but some are more important to me than others. For example, when I create a data-enabled form or survey, and send it out as an email attachment or link, when the recipient opens the PDF file in Acrobat Reader 7 (or Reader 8 when it is available), their Reader gains some added functionality, not the least of which is that they can save the form and work on it as they have the time.

What is most useful to me is, when they send back the form (you can have up to 500 responses for each form/survey you distribute), it gets saved with all the rest of the responses and I can both see each complete form in a single PDF file and, most importantly to me, export the data from the forms as a CSV file and import it into a database for data analysis. It is SO cool!

There are other very educationally cool things about Acrobat 8, too, like the ability to embed dimensional images and media right into the PDF is just too neat! I suggest your try the trial and explore the features you are interested in while thinking about ways it can enhance teaching and learning. (Trial download for PC or Mac)

For those of you running Windows (or those with an Intel Mac and running Bootcamp or Parallels), the new Microsoft Office 2007 is available for a two-month trial. You can download it here. It downloads easily and lives separately on your computer without overwriting previous versions of Office with one caveat-- if you use Outlook, it will overwrite your current version, so I suggest to NOT choose to include Outlook in your trial download if you currently use Outlook as your email/PIM client, until you decide to move over to Office 2007.

Although the vocabulary is the same, the interfaces of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access are different. They are not hard to get used to, but, for those of us who support teachers and administrators with these applications, it is important to become comfortable with the basic features. The interface of Publisher has been "modernized" but it does not seem to be fundamentally different in appearance or use.

Being the terminally left-brained learner, I am very menu-driven, and the first thing I noticed about the new suite of tools is the fact the menu bar is missing and the interface is primarily graphical. I was able to add my most-used icons (OPEN, NEW, PRINT) to a easy-to-access area without any trouble, though. On the plus side, some of the graphical functions are interactive, such as the slide designs and fonts in PowerPoint-- simply mouse-over the design and the current slide changes (temporarily) so you can see the design components. These type of features will be big time-savers and I am sure there are many such preview components in each of the programs.

I would suggest you give this one a whirl, too! Have fun, and let me know any cool things you find to support teaching and learning!

Kathy Schrock

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Saturday, December 02, 2006

Happy Holidays!

Holiday 06 Card
Originally uploaded by kathyschrock.
Happy Holidays and best wishes for the new year to all from the Schrock family!