KidZui browser

I’ve just discovered the KidZui browser. It looks pretty cool, you create a unique account and can login to access games, videos, and lots of other “kid friendly” stuff. I’d like you to both check it out and let me know what you think and find by writing a blog post about it here. I’ve created an account for you both, ask me and I’ll tell you your login credentials. (Hint: Your userids are the same ones you’re using for our blog. Rachel’s is the same as she’s using for Club Penguin. Everyone’s password is the same as Rachel’s Club Penguin password.) I’ve downloaded the program already on my laptop, we’ll need to download and install it on other computers too.

Have fun!

Videos of the Rangitata Valley and Mt Sunday

Yesterday I visited Mt Sunday in New Zealand, which was the set for Edoras in the film trilogy “The Lord of the Rings.” This is one video in a series I took yesterday and uploaded to Flickr.

Read more about this on my main blog post “Erewhon, Mt Sunday (Edoras) and the Rangitata Valley.” More photos are available on my Flickr set “Edoras and Erewhon.” I have ten more videos from yesterday to still upload and will add them to my New Zealand video Flickr set soon. In all I had over 400 MB of videos to upload last night (which I left going as I slept) and I think that really taxed Shirley’s ADSL connection! 🙂

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NZ Travel Update: LAX

I recorded another short archived webcast via Qik this evening in the LAX airport enroute to the 2009 Learning at School conference in Rotorua, New Zealand. I posted my first “in airport” video update over on my main blog, but since updates like this one may bore readers to that blog looking for educational technology related posts I thought I’d post here on Learning Signs instead.

Our flight for Auckland boards in just a few minutes. In another 10 or so hours, I should be in New Zealand!

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A nightly spelling bee for Dad

I’m glad Alexander is in the midst of a writing assignment for school, but I honestly feel like I’m having to compete in a nightly spelling bee with all the words I’m being asked to spell now in the evenings.

spelling test
Creative Commons License photo credit: elginwx

It has been abundantly clear to me for several years that Alexander has similar spelling abilities to his mother: Spelling is very challenging for him. I think this stems from him not being as visually oriented in his natural learning style. I am a pretty decent speller, and I think that has a lot to do with my ability to visualize words. Even when he is asking me to spell words for his writing assignment, I have to visualize them in my mind to spell them aloud. I MUCH prefer to write down a word than to spell it out loud. Really, spelling bees are such a DUMB idea, I wish they were not so common in schools. The ability to verbally spell a word upon command is not an important “life skill.” Of course it is important to write well with correct spelling, but being able to do that is very different from being able to succeed at oral spelling exercises.

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Favorite Halloween Photos

We had a great Halloween party at home this evening with neighbors and friends, and enjoyed the lovely cool (but not cold) fall weather which was perfect for evening trick-or-treating. Here are a few of my favorite photos from the evening.

Brother and his flashlight in the yard after trick-or-treating:
Night silhouette

Mom getting our little witch’s hair ready for the night!

Part of our crew of trick-or-treaters!

The jack-o-latern Trista and I made together:
The pumpkin Trista and I made together

Little sister and her friend visiting with grandparents in Texas over Skype early in the evening, before we left for trick-or-treating:
Videoconferencing over skype with grandparents

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Now is the time to invest

I am not a financial expert, but what I do know tells me now is the time to invest in stocks. As panicked people flee the market, opportunities open for others. My stock recommendation today is Chesapeake Energy.

Natural gas power will be a big part of our energy future in the next 20-30 years, before hydrogen power becomes ubiquitous.

Here is an iPhone screen snap of CHP today.

Writing with pictures

I had a great meeting this morning and lunch with Lance Ford, who (if you don’t already know) has the most amazing car in Oklahoma. Lance had me thinking about a lot of possibilities for interactive virtual field trips at the Gaylord-Pickens Museum of the Oklahoma Heritage Association, where I work now. Using media to teach and learn can be extremely engaging. For our both virtual as well as face-to-face museum experiences, however, I want to strive to facilitate truly “engaging” rather than merely “enthralling” learning experiences. To that end, orienting people to think about capturing, creating and sharing their own stories and stories of people they know is very important for us.

As a visual person, I find it very powerful to experience a presentation which uses images well. In blogging, it is very important to utilize and integrate photos in posts. Because of this, I was delighted to learn about the free Photo Dropper plug-in for WordPress today. I learned about this from Michael Chalk’s post “Struggle with wordpress“, and got the link to Michael’s blog originally from a comment he left on my primary blog. Shazam! With just a few clicks, now a well-formatted and properly attributed legal photo can be inserted into our blog posts here on Learning Signs!!

Creative Commons License photo credit: TooFarNorth

This plug-in provides a compelling reason to compose in the WordPress dashboard. To insert an image like the one I have inserted above, you simply click the editing icon in the upper right corner of the post composition window, enter your search keyword(s), and select the image you want to import: S, M or L. The image is sized correctly and includes CC credits. WOW.

I compose almost all my blog posts now with the software program MarsEdit. I wish MarsEdit would integrate this PhotoDropper functionality, to connect easily to Flickr Creative Commons images and insert them with a couple clicks. I’m going to teach my kids how to use PhotoDropper to insert images into their blog posts. Now it should be much easier and straightforward for them to write with pictures!

Current Affairs Books

We are having a delightful Saturday. No appointments or birthday parties, just a day to roam and loaf. I am writing this on my iPhone from a Barnes and Noble bookstore.
We are here because we love to look at books, and because I have a birthday gift card to use.

Current affairs books are always my favorites. I saw at least five books today I would like to own and read but am not getting today. The reality is that I already have started several books at home that I need to finish. I need to have a job which permits me to read uninterrupted for several hours per day. I need to be a professor.

Here are the new books I settled on for today.

National Meet Your Neighbors Night

I don’t know if this was the official day, but the evening of Augsut 5, 2008, was “Meet Your Neighbors Night” in our neighborhood. A tent, some white Christmas lights, a bunch of lawn chairs and some cookies made for a good opportunity to meet neighbors and get acquainted.

National Meet Your Neighbors Night

I brought over a bowl of fresh cherries and they went fast! This was a really great idea and I’m glad we have some neighbors who took the initiative to get this organized. Evidently they do it each year. I wish we did this more often!

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