Archive for January, 2009

Encourage Reading – Share your book shelf!

Want to promote literacy but are not a Language Arts teacher or librarian? Don’t have time to do book talks in the middle of math class? Want to share a good book with those around you? Would you like to prove to your students you do do more than grade papers and think of ways to torture them with homework and projects?

I have known about Shelfari for a while now, but hadn’t really thought of it as a way to show students what I am reading. While reading another blog, I was struck by the idea that you can actually add this to a TeacherWeb page and share good books with students. It would look like the one I have below.

Shelfari: Book reviews on your book blog

How do you do this?
Step 1: go to and sign up for an account.
Step 2: Add books to your shelf and divide them into “I’ve Read,” “reading Now” and “I Plan to Read”
Step 3: On your home page – Go to the “More” tab and choose “My Widgets”
Step 4: Create a Widget by clicking on the link.
Step 5: Choose a JavaScript Widget (TeacherWeb will support it.)
Step 6: Select a list to be displayed on your shelf and click “Customize your Widget.”
Step 7: Select the design and size you want. I recommend setting the width to 100% as this will make the widget resize itself based on the space available. Click on “Save and Continue.”
Step 8: Copy the widget code provided.
Step 9: Open the teacherweb page in Edit Mode and paste in the widget code. Save the changes.
Step 10: check out your own virtual bookshelf!

Anytime you update your book list on Shelfari, it will update the shelf on your TeacherWeb page. This same method works for most any type of web page.

So what are you reading?

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New Year’s Resolutions: PowerPoint

With the New Year I thought I would focus on a few New Year’s Technology Resolutions.  The first one is: “I will learn to avoid the commons PowerPoint mistakes.”

PowerPoint is a great tool for getting information presented to a group of people, but too often we try to make PowerPoint do too much for us.

Here is a humorous look at the ways we go wrong with PowerPoint:

(If the video is not visible – you can also see it here: How NOT to use PowerPoint!)

Here are some guidelines to go by when making OR assigning powerpoints:

1. Keep it Simple!

  • No more than 6 lines of text per slide and each line should have no more than 6 words.
  • No paragraphs! (This is a presentation tool and not a research paper)
  • Limit graphics, animations and Wordart
  • Sound effects should enhance the presentation and should only be used sparingly.  Remember sound can slow things down and get old very quickly.
  • Your presentation should not be more entertaining than you are.  It is the background not the main attraction.

2. Make it Readable!

  • Font size should be at least 28 pt.
  • Backgrounds should be subtle colors and be consistent.
  • Font colors should stand out on the page.

3. Proof Your Presentation:

  • Spell check is your friend!
  • Stand back about 6 feet from the screen and make sure the slides and easy to read and that the colors work together.  Also check any charts or graphs to make sure they are legible.
  • Check for animation and sound errors.  If you get tired of waiting for the animations to run, chances are your audience will too.

Anything else you can add on making a good PowerPoint?

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