Saturday, February 28, 2009

Customizing Your Everything - Human Nature or Popular Culture?

Have you ever noticed how important it is to us to customize our technological toys? We want a certain desktop wallpaper, background, cursor image on screen. Our name is associated with a certain signature, smiley or title. Our website, blog or facebook page has a customized dashboard, wall or layout. Our cellphone has a certain ring, with a certain personalized case cover.

I noticed one day teaching grade 4 computers that when I allowed the students to customize their desktop computers with a photo from a photographers gallery, they were excited. These 9 year olds came in weekly to change that background even though it was changed back to the default everytime they logged out of the computer lab.

Grade 2 and 3 students, 7 and 8 year olds, were thrilled to play an online math game because the game included an avatar that they could customize with different hats, hairstyles, glasses, skin color, eyes, nose and facial features. These students also love playing on a webkinz site where they can buy and change things for their little stuffed pet.

As adults we can customize our cars, homes and other possessions. We have always had the choice to express ourselves this way. However, it seems to me that lately we have been offered this ability in increasing amounts on every gadget we own.

If young students and adults alike, enjoy the ability to customize programs, avatars, desktops, cellphones etc., why has this phenomenon become so popular? Is it just a big marketing scheme?
It is motivational I'll agree, but does this makes us feel unique or just one in a million?

What customizing phenomenon have you noticed?
Do you think it has always been in our human nature to personalize our space?
Does having a unique profile in a more globally connected world makes it hard for anyone to stand out?
Is customizing a way to carve out our little niche in the world?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Writing Recipe For Success : Add Some Art

What does art ad to your writing or advertising. One scientific study found that art makes products seem more luxurious if art is on the packaging. So perhaps a picture of art will enhance the perception of your writing. Photos, illustrations always add to a story. So does a photo that is artistic or of an artist help your story? Find out about the study from an article I wrote at this link:
This website allows pictures to be embedded with your story. See some good examples of art, graffiti, and eye catching photos.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ways to Look Smarter - Words U Can Use!

An excellent online writer, Donald Pennington, has written an article on 30 words you may want to use as a teacher or a writer. Read this and his many other articles at Associated Content. Follow this link:
Perhaps you can conflate the elements of writing and teaching to sound really smart!

Math Tips and Tricks

If you want to get kids excited about math, try a website called

Here the students can be registered by a teacher or individually with an email account. After students dress and design their avatar with hats, hair, glasses, skin color and clothes, they enter a math game. The game is a mental math race against 3 other students from around the world. The program picks who they play against. It may even be someone from their own classroom. It is fun, exciting and they love it.

World Maths Day is designed to get kids doing mental math at their level (adding, subtracting, multiplying or dividing). They love the race against time. They are given a score based on amount correct in the 1 minute time limit. They can improve their score. 3 strikes and they are out. They can choose a new game.

Kids learn about different country names and flags. Kids can keep track of high scores, average questions correct and other statistics. This game can be practiced at home or at school as long as they have thier name and password.

World Maths Day is on March 4, 2009. Kids can practice any time up until and even after that day. A world mathomometer keeps track of the number of correct math answers found to that date. The country and school leading the race is traced daily. Top students and classes are listed in the hall of fame.

This program is designed by 3P Learning. It is highly motivational for the winter months of February and March. They even give away an ipod as a prize. I recommend it for grades 2 through 8. You will like it at home or at school. It is an easy math or computer lesson which a teacher doesn't have to plan!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Why Teachers Are Here

I started this blog with the hope that those who want to learn and trade teaching tools, tricks, tips, technology, theories, stories, best lessons and all that comes with this profession, would come here. Why here?? By providing a platform that you are comfortable adding comments to, reading and enjoying, you would find useful use of your time!

I found out there are thousands of blogs called teacher tips and tricks. The only reason to blog here would be that you are new, by chance you found my site, you are a writer at Associated Content and read my articles (, or you like are lost. Add this site to your bookmarks, favorites, and RSS feeds. Connect here and be a part of a new community.

This is also an experiment in learning for me. How can I teach technology without starting a blog? This collaboration, collection and compilation may be important for my students in their near future. Perhaps all teaching will be online blogging, researching and collaborating. Distributing the learning and teaching among the students!

Finally, enjoyment should be part of the learning. Post a few funny moments you've had in teaching and let us all share in the spirit of life that comes from dealing with people.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Writing With Clarity

The Value of Clarity in Writing, Messaging, and Advertising
Writing clear and concise messages is important in writing, speechwriting, advertising and communicating. This article discusses the value of clarity.
It's clearly an important trait!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Smart Uses Of A SMART Board

A SMART Board, interactive whiteboard or digital whiteboard all refer to technology in the classroom which is motivating to students. It can enhance learning in the same way as computers, videos, slides, pictures, whiteboards, manipulatives and other technologies have created stimulating environments for students. The digital age is aiding the learning and creating new ways to interact with computers. This teaching tool is one of many new technologies that teachers are incorporating into their teaching toolbox.

The electronic whiteboard or SMART Board as an input device can be exciting to use if you know tips and tricks of using it. The lessons provided and online resources are helpful. The tips that teachers who use the technology in their classroom, provide come from experience with the new technology. Those tips can be found in an article that is published at Associated Content. Click on the link below to read the entire article:

This post is provided for you to add on your tips for using the SMART Board in the classroom. Perhaps you have found the best use for this technology and would like to share your ideas. If you are looking for ways that a secondary teacher would use it, you can specify your needs here. People who are using this technology in their classroom may want to specify the grade level and subject area that they are using it with. Post your comments as to whether you like and use the digital whiteboard. What other technology do you use and how?? Let us know at this blog.