Fur.ly Is Warm and Fuzzy!

fur.ly logo

So there are plenty of URL shortening websites out there, but not much new, right? Wrong! Fur.ly allows you to shorten multiple URLs in one fell swoop. I can see tons of uses for this in educational settings. All you do is open fur.ly, enter your first URL,  and then a second entry box opens, so you enter another URL, and so on and so on, until you’re finished. Then you click on Go, and Voila! you have a cute, furry little URL, you click on Try it, and then you just click through all of your websites, quick as a flash. You could use this URL to share favorite sites with friends, to create a pathfinder for students, or to share all your websites with colleagues. Students, you could share all your favorite sites with your friends via one single tiny address. Fur.ly is fast, easy, and fun! You can enter up to fifty URLs in one sitting. Only  problem is, if one fails, they all go down the drain. So be careful; be sure to copy and paste from current, active URLs.

My Latest Pick? Pixton!

So if you know me very well, you know I love alternatives to traditional presentation modes. Web 2.0 tools that allow students to animate or otherwise graphically present the products of their learning can engage not only the students presenting the information but their peers as well. So get ready to get engaged, kiddos, with Pixton!

Pixton makes it easy for students to learn how to create cartoons in a variety of sizes with easy-to-follow online videos.  When finished, students can post to Facebook, email their cartoons, or embed them in a blog or other online site, even WordPress, with a little help from VodPod.

Pixton is available “for fun, for free,” or additional features are available for educational  or business use at reasonable prices. Pixton’s creators have a very ethical code of conduct and they encourage users to report abuse of this code, so parents can feel confident allowing their students to use the site, unlike other graphic design sites that often feature content inappropriate for minors. Safety tips for students and parents are even included on the site.

With seven comic formats, all of which have individual sizes and shapes, plus a variety of characters and backgrounds, Pixton can keep students immersed in the learning process without requiring extensive training and artistic skills.

Become a Presentation King with Cartoonster

Cartoonster is an ultra cool site that features free tutorials  for all you future cartoon artists out there. Cartoonster’s tutorials show you how to get started, choose (and use) the right tools, create your first animation, animate simple shapes in 3D, and even how to make those 3D shapes jump. So you won’t get bored while you’re learning, you can change the background color, participate in an owl-naming contest, or click on entertaining quick videos between tutorials. This site  has been around for a long time, but I figure, like they say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” right? Try using ideas you learn from Cartoonster to create a presentation to share what you have learned on a recent research topic, and impress your classmates and teacher with your awesome skills.

Achieve Your Personal Zen With Zendo

Zen.do is a cool Web2.0 tool on a mission to help students become more efficient learners. The creators of  Zen.do are students themselves–students who want to spend less time studying while still enabling themselves to know their material better. They know that good students want to commit the most essential information to long-term memory.

The Zen.do creators are anxious to receive comments and suggestions from users. They have a quick two and a half minute video tutorial that easily explains how to use Zen.do. All you do is type your notes in outline form, and Zen.do converts them to flash cards. Once you sign up, you simply open a folder, name your new directory, then name your file, and start typing. Zen.do prompts you on the next step as you create your cards.

Once you finish a set of cards, you can go through your cards and test yourself, and Zen.do gives you a grade based on your success. You can also edit and update your cards if needed.

The website includes a helpful forum that allows you to post suggestions and view the questions and feature suggestions of others. Unfortunately, the FAQ section is not yet operational. If you are a dedicated student looking for a new way to organize yourself, Zen.do could be for you!

A smidgen of all you need to know about those funny codes you’ve been seeing around lately

So, have you been seeing QR codes around everywhere lately and wondering what they’re all about? You may have heard them called matrix barcodes or 2-D codes. They are gaining popularity because they can contain more information than old-fashioned barcodes that can only include numeric information. QR codes can include hyperlinks to URLs, words, email or text messages, logos, artwork…the possibilities are endless! You use QR code readers on your smart phone to scan the codes and instantly read them. Have you looked at the current DRMS media center home page? Did you freak out and wonder what it meant? Wonder if it was some kind of message from space aliens? Well, it’s top secret. Be the first person to tell me what it says and win a prize. Many thanks to The Daring Librarian, aka Gwynneth Ann Bronwynne Jones, teacher librarian at Murray Hill Middle School in Laurel, Maryland for creating and sharing the ultra cool graphic used in this blog post. She is a genius.

DRMS Is Accepting Rachel’s Challenge!

The Rachel’s Challenge chain in the media center was started immediately after our Rachel’s Challenge initial meeting by eighth graders Kate M. and Ashlyn B. These two girls periodically maintain the chain and string links across the media center. When they arrived to request that they be allowed to start the chain, Kate and Ashlyn requested materials to create the chain and a location for the chain, including markers, construction paper, a stapler, and a storage area for the chain links. They borrowed a paper cutter to cut a supply of chain links to keep students supplied. The chain has not been officially announced, but has spread by word of mouth throughout the school. The chain is currently approximately 150 feet long and growing every day.

The media center also houses one of two Dean Rusk Rachel’s Challenge signature banners. Dean Rusk now has a Rachel’s Challenge Chain Link club for each team.

On Valentine’s Day, Team 7M accepted the challenge of spreading kindness to others by providing ice cream sundaes to our 7M teachers, DRMS counselors, secretaries, and administrators. How are you accepting Rachel’s Challenge? Are you paying it forward? Let us know by replying to this post!

DRMS Survivors Pass Second Elimination Round

Congratulations to all of our Dean Rusk Survivors who made it to the second 2010-2011 Survivor party! This quarter’s competitive event was cup stacking, and the competition got pretty wild! At the 7D and 7M party, Liz P. won in the first round and every round thereafter to remain the ultimate champion! The big winners at the 7R and 7S party were Kenzie J. , Tate C. and Brandon B., all excellent competitors, with Kenzie coming out on top. At the eighth grade party, Nick H. was the top winner followed closely by Robert M. and Robert R. If you believe you are a Dean Rusk Survivor, be sure that you have read eighteen books by March 18 to be invited to the next party. You can take 18 AR tests or complete the form available from Mrs. Fleet or your reading teacher. You don’t need to read 18 new books, just a total of 18 since the beginning of the year. We’ll see YOU at the next Survivor Party!