Friday, January 23, 2009

Two Sources of Writing Prompts

My first full-time teaching job was in a 9th grade literature and writing course (a job I felt horribly unqualified for, but was happy to try). One of the things that I learned from that experience was that creating stimulating and engaging writing prompts is not easy. That year a member of the English department lent me a book of writing prompts.

Today, new teachers (and veteran teachers) have a number of good web resources for writing prompts. Two writing prompt resources that I've recently discovered are Quotes Daddy and Plinky. (Thanks to Jeffery Hill for the Quotes Daddy link )

Quotes Daddy, as you might guess from the name, is a compendium of quotes from famous and not-so-famous people. Each day new quotes are featured on the homepage of Quotes Daddy. If you have a class blog you can add a Quotes Daddy widget to your blog.

Plinky, like Quotes Daddy, is a good place to find writing prompt ideas. Plinky provides users with a new writing prompt everyday. The benefit of Plinky over other writing prompt websites is that once you've created an account you can see how other Plinky users responded to the prompt.

Applications for Education
Quotes Daddy and Plinky could be handy resources to find writing prompts for your students. If you teach students over the age of 13 Plinky could be a good way for your students to see how other people respond the same writing prompt they address.

Safe Computing Tools for Kids - Windows Based

Today's episode of Tekzilla has a couple of short tips that every parent should know about monitoring the computing habits of their children. These tips apply to Windows Vista.

Applications for Education
In my school district a new semester is starting and soon we will be holding our parent-teacher conferences again. Invariably, every time I hold parent-teacher conferences at least one parent expresses concern about not knowing how to monitor what their child is doing online. This video gives some quick tips that I will share with those concerned parents, provided they have Windows based computers.

Thank You - Social Networking Proven Valuable Again

Those of you that follow me on Twitter or Facebook probably know that my school district recently proposed new Internet use policies that would have effectively decreased by 50% the number of websites that teachers and students can use. When I first read the proposed policies I put out some pleas for help on Twitter. Many of you responded with links to articles and studies that defend the value of open access to the Internet. Since that time I organized an ad-hoc committee of teachers and administrators in my school district to look at those examples. Although the committee was able to make suggestions, the final decision making power rested with administration. This afternoon I was notified that the district has reversed course and is going to allow access to social networking sites (including Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter), wikis, and blogs!

Thank you to everyone that sent me links, suggestions, and encouragement over the last four weeks. Without your help, I'm not sure my district administrators would have changed course. For those of you engaged in similar fights, keep at it. Here are a handful of the links that were sent to me when I needed help.

A Second Life for Educators
New Study Shows Time Spent Online Important for Teen Development
Understanding Content Filtering
Content Filtering in Schools: Best Practices for K-12
ALA Statement on Library Use of Filtering Software

History of Apple and the Internet

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the first Macintosh computers hitting the market. CNET has a good slideshow documenting the development of the Mac over the last 25 years. Two weeks ago I posted a video that explains the history of the Internet which you can view here or in the embedded video below.

History of the Internet from PICOL on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
If you're a computer science teacher the CNET slideshow combined with the history of the Internet video could make a nice, short history lesson for your students.