December 27, 2011

Trying Out Twitter's New 'Embed This Tweet' Feature

Twitter is s-l-o-w-l-y rolling out "Embed This Tweet". I have 4 (no, that is NOT a typo) accounts, and only one of them is embed-enabled as of today.

I was dying to try out this interesting new feature! I didn't have to wait long for a tweet to come along that I found worthy of embed status for myself.



I have another similar tweet from @justinstoned (thank you, Justin) but adding that one to this post would be too vain of me, I think :)

I replied to Allan:



The article mentioned below (which I had to embed in a tweet, of course) gives several reasons why you might want to embed a tweet. And it takes you step-by-step visually through the embedding procedure.



If all you need is a hurry-up how-to, these instructions are for you:

When you find the tweet you want to embed,
1) Click on Open (to the right)
2) Click on Details (after the date, doesn't appear to be a link until you hover over it)
3) Click on Embed this Tweet (after the date, also doesn't appear to be a link)
4) Copy HTML code and paste into your blog/website.
VoilĂ ! That's all there is to it. Now you have a tweet to use for promotional purposes, to add visual interest, or in my case here, to keep as a memento.

(◕‿◕)
@mauilibrarian2

P. S. Caveat for Blogger users: when I switched to 'Compose' as I was editing, the embedding format disappeared. Not sure if this is a temporary glitch, but I recommend staying in 'Edit HTML' mode to be safe.

December 03, 2011

Mom was right, posture IS important! When you're working at your computer, it's all about balance ....

How did they do that?

Okay, I agree that the music is not the best, but this is such a clever reminder, no words needed!


(via Free Technology for Teachers and Dominiqu De Guchtenaere)


The end reminds us that balance in our lives is important as well. ... :)

(◕‿◕)
@mauilibrarian2

November 28, 2011

Advertising on the Web: Am I the only one who thinks this is bizarre and ironic?

I'm a Big Fan of Cool Cat Teacher Vicki Davis.

So when I saw mention of one of her most popular posts of 2011, 11 Lies Social Media Hides, I was intrigued to read it.

The article is a great reality check for anyone on Facebook and Twitter. I will use some of the information in my literacy classes.

So, being the eager sharer that I am, I decided to share it not only on Twitter as is my custom, but to pass it on to my friends on Facebook as well.

When I pasted the link onto my status, I was taken aback by the description of the article that appeared. Here's a screenshot:


 

Whaaaaaat--? An advertisement for Indiana Wesleyan University? Where did that come from?

So I looked back at the blog and there is was: an ad by the university on the blog.

I'm flabbergasted.

No, I did not share the link on Facebook, although I'll be sharing this post there.

Great article and I will continue to enjoy Vicki Davis' extremely helpful posts, but I find this little bit of trickery (this is what I call it) extremely ironic in an article about social media lies.

My take-away? It's important now more than ever that we teach our students very well to be discerning users of information.

(◕‿◕)
@mauilibrarian2 

November 03, 2011

To #AASL11 Minneapolis and Back: Report to Faculty


Thanks for asking about my trip to Minneapolis. Yes, it was FABULOUS!

What did I bring home from the 15th AASL (Annual American Association of School Librarians) Conference? LOTS to share.

These bubble to the top:

We're doing the right thing: 

Those self-reflections that we ask of our students in papers, presentations, and blogs? They're all-important, especially in light of the fast pace of our information- and interruption-rich technological world. This is my main take-away from Nicholas Carr's (The Shallows) introductory keynote speech.

And I was very happy to hear Carr say, "The human brain is malleable throughout our lives". He too struggles with the lure of the Internet and looks for ways to achieve balance in his life.

Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows, introductory keynote speaker

Top Must-Have for Our Students:

Teen Health and Wellness: Real Life, Real Answers, the mobile app for 24/7 access by our students. Anytime, anywhere information on their cell phone.

Must-Try:

SchoolTube - You can watch, upload, create a channel, enter contests, receive a video of the day, create online student portfolios, and use School Tube as a central repository to archive videos. Also, parents, students, and administrators can use it as a communication tool. The one unique thing about School Tube? Teachers approve uploads.

Videolicious- free video-editing mobile app for the iPhone

spicynodes - a mind-mapping presentation tool, more fun and visually appealing, in my opinion, than Prezi!

Top Resource to Share:

25 Best Websites for Teaching and Learning The YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Asssociation) committee goes through a rigorous selection process every year, to pare the list down to a mere 25. (Lots of heated discussion about what to include.)

Stories: 

I have a list of great books to order for our students, from the sessions "You're Invited: A Feast of New Literature for Teens" and "Outstanding Books for the College Bound".

Dropped in and loved the Storytelling Festival.

Best Conference Upgrades:

The AASL11 mobile app for the conference was awesome - planner, agenda, presenters, exhibits, news and alerts, social media, maps, all in one! No thumbing through and marking pages (although the print version was available).

The back channel was informative and busy: AASL Ning

The Learning Commons spearheaded by @buffyjhamilton gave attendees a space to extend conference conversations and start some of their own. (Yes, the teachers are in the audience too.)

Biggest challenge:

Too many session choices!

Biggest surprise:

The mild, light sweater Minneapolis weather!

Enlightenment (Sort Of):

What does the future hold for school libraries, in light of the coming of ebooks and ereaders? The pre-conference full-day session "Books, e-ink, and Databases, Oh, My! Collection Development in the 21st Century" addressed just that question. 

Here are two cautionary tales:

•Publishers don't have (or necessarily want) a business model for libraries and borrowing books. Their first concern is profit, which translates to a 1/1 purchase.
•Intellectual privacy is a huge issue with ebooks. With Overdrive, for instance, all borrowing records are kept by Amazon. See Librarian in Black's rant (warning: salty language) about how Overdrive and Amazon are manipulating the book borrowing world. [Note: our Hawaii state public library system uses Overdrive.]

It was @dpeterson71 who first noticed that the session "Do We Need Books in K-12 School Libraries?" changed to "What Kinds of Books Do We Need in K-12 School Libraries?" (Good call, I tweeted.) It was interesting to hear Tom Corbett describe Cushing Academy's print-book-free library. Take-away from this session? I liked library service consultant Alison Ernst's advice: "Look at your community. Who are your students? What do they need? These are the questions to ask when deciding to go with print or digital."

I learned a lot from the session "Putting It All Together: The Integration of Print and Digital Resources in the Information Literacy Curriculum of School Libraries". There were several inspiring, ponderable quotes from school library leader Joyce Valenza:

"Books are not our only brand."

"The library should be a destination, not a brochure."

"We librarians have a new job: curation."

"We must teach our students to curate. Three-ring binders are inadequate for students."

(and my favorite) "Curation is about synchronizing community."

On the Horizon:

Two comments made by closing keynote speaker Dr. Mimi Ito, cultural anthrolopologist of technology, stick in my mind:

"We need more examples of how mobile phones can be used in the classroom."

"We must be willing to experiment with technology and report our findings."

New Mexico school librarian Jenny Blaylock asks Dr. Mimi Ito a question

Continuing the Discussion:

It was great to see Hawaii represented so well by esteemed UH professor Dr. Violet Harada (2011 winner of the AASL Distinguished Service Award) and @pattylouis of Aliamanu Elementary. The discussion of their very valuable (and well-attended) session "Empowering Students Through Self-Assessment" continues on a wiki. 

One of the most amazing things about attending this conference was seeing and being inspired by other school librarians. I met new people: not only from the US, but from other countries such as Peru, the Dominican Republic, and Poland. I reconnected with @joycevalenza, @dpeterson71, @mediamems, @janetmadsen, and others. I met school library leaders I had been following and talking with on Twitter, including @gwynethjones, @buffyjhamilton, @librarian_tiff, and @shannonmmiller, and I will continue to learn from them.

Bottom line: 

It's an exciting time to be a school librarian!

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊
(◕‿◕)
@mauilibrarian2 

P. S. No I didn't walk down as planned to see Mary Tyler Moore's statue of her tossing her hat in the air, nor did I take the $1.75 Light Rail to the Mall of America (I avoid malls like the plague).

.

October 26, 2011

Day 1 of #AASL11: Making Connections (And Enjoying the City)

Today was my first full day of the AASL (American Association of School Librarians) Conference in Minneapolis. It was a FUN day, full of connections!

I signed up for the all-day pre-conference workshop "Books, E-ink, and Databases, Oh My! Collection Development in the 21st Century". This might sound a little (okay, maybe a lot) geeky to non-librarians. But electronic resources is a hot topic among librarians as we deal with the coming of new technologies to the information field. It was great to connect with (and be inspired by) other school librarians around the country (and the world), and to pick their brains about what they're doing in their schools.

It was also a day of connecting and reconnecting on a personal level.

Deb and I finally got to meet library leader Buffy Hamilton face-to-face.
She's just as nice in person as she is online!

Janet and I went to graduate school together
at UH Manoa a couple of decades ago.


It was great to watch Cathy and Deb's reconnection unfold.
They were sitting across each other at a table (with me in the middle)
and slowly began to recognize each other. (It had been decades.)
So much fun!
Met and dined with Audrey, Jenny, and Debbie at Masa's. They're first-time attendees.
Met and dined with Marilyn, who has been to a couple more
AASL conferences than me. This is her tenth!
◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Typically, I immerse myself at these conferences. I don't allow much time for exploring.

But I haven't needed to look far to be taken in by Minneapolis' charm. The Nicollet mall is a delight, the crispy and cool air smells soooo good, and the fall colors are striking.

Brilliant red maple and me.
◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊
 Can't wait until tomorrow! 

(Maybe I'll check out the statue of Mary Tyler Moore tossing her hat in the air. It's just a couple of blocks down Nicollet...)

(◕‿◕)
@mauilibrarian2 

October 25, 2011

Dinner at the News Room Surrounded By Primary Sources (and We Loved the Food)!

Deb pointed out this article so of course we had to have our picture taken with it
It's our first night in Minneapolis for the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) Conference. Where to eat?

Thanks to the door man's recommendation, we ended up at The News Room, right down the street, on Nicollet Mall. Are we glad we went!

Do we recommend the food?

I know my dish was to-die-for -- Coco Shrimp, "Jumbo (Gynormous and PLUMP) gulf shrimp rolled in coconut, fried and topped with pineapple glaze and pineapple salsa, garlic mashed potato." A steal at $19.95.


At first we didn't think we had room for dessert, but we ended up sharing the fresh peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream, -- mmm, Divine. Who would have thought that basil would make a cobbler heavenly? Chefs are geniuses.

Just right to share, when you think you don't have room ... 


We're expecting great things from this conference, and our first getting-settled-in day ended quite splendidly, thanks to the interesting atmosphere and fabulous food at The News Room.

Four thumbs way up!

The News Room
990 Nicollet Mall (at 10th Street)
(612)343-0073

October 23, 2011

Students: How to Enable Google Presentations' New Features (and Ms. Lindsay's first Screenr cast!)

Dear Students,

If you're interested in accessing Google Presentation's new features, here's how:



There's nothing too fancy on there now, but Google promises to roll out more features in the coming weeks, so keep checking!

And, as you probably already know, collaboration is king/queen/royalty with Google docs, so the new design makes collaboration easy (and fun).

Two considerations: 
(1) you can't upgrade your old presentations to the new design
(2) the new design works best in the latest browsers, preferably Chrome.
 ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ 

Creating this screenr cast was quick and fun, and just the ticket for on-the-fly tutorials.  

Besides embedding, you can save your screenr cast as an .mp4 file, or publish it to YouTube.

Give it a try!

(◕‿◕)
@mauilibrarian2 

 

October 09, 2011

I'll be following the leaders at #AASL11 via Twitter!

I'll be following the leaders at #AASL11 via
Thanks to my school's support, I've been able to attend the biennial American Association of School Librarians (AASL) national conference in Indianapolis, Portland, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Reno, Charlotte, and now Minneapolis. The AASL Conference is the only national conference dedicated solely to school librarians. It's my number one choice for professional development, and I always return home brimming with excitement about new ideas to try in our library.

Yes, I have trouble deciding who and what to see and where to go during a conference -- there are so many choices!

This year, I can enhance my conference experience in the following ways:

I can:
  • Plug into the Virtual Conference
  • "Connect, share, and network" before, during, and after the conference, as a member of the AASL Ning
  • Participate using Twitter.
◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊
I'm drawn to these conferences because I want to listen to and learn from the idea leaders in the profession -- both the established voices, and the emerging ones as well.
I already follow most of the established leaders who'll be at AASL11, on Twitter. So you can be sure that I'll be following more closely during the conference.

How? Aside from using the #AASL11 hashtag search (available on the Ning too), I'll be checking my own personalized list of #AASL11 leaders who tweet regularly. (Suggestions for additions to my list are welcome.)

Here are some of the people on my list, and the reasons why:

@AngeReads @buffyjhamilton @vennlibrarian and @wsstephens are on the list because they're presenting Books, E-Link, and Databases Oh My! Collection Development in the 21st Century (BYOL), a full-day workshop I signed up for (can't wait!).

I included Workshop Presenters @leperez1 - Taking Wikis to the Next Level and @skjohns - How To Get Your Message Out to Your School Community.

I added @BreckSchool and @StPaulAcademySS because they're on my Independent School Tour.

And the Storytelling Festival looks awesome! I added Professional Storytellers Judie Moreillon @CactusWoman and Dianne de las Casas @storyconnection (too bad Jerry Blue doesn't have a Twitter account)

I've hand-picked some Concurrent Session Presenters (you'll note some duplicates from above):
I'm disappointed that @AuntyTech won't be there, except virtually.

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Here's the link to the list feed: https://twitter.com/#!/mauilibrarian2/aasl11

And here's the live feed:




There are 22 on the list as of today. More will be added later, of course.

And yes, I'll be tweeting my own #AASL11 impressions as often as I can.

(◕‿◕)
@mauilibrarian2 


P. S. Are you a school librarian interested in AASL11?  Follow mauilibrarian2 on Twitter and I'd be happy to follow and learn from you too.

September 30, 2011

5 Graphing Calculator Tutorial Sites I'm Recommending to Our Students

Mr. Wilson, our Math department chair, asked about graphing calculator tutorials for his students.

Here are 5 graphing calculator tutorial websites I recommend:
Using the TI-83/84 Calculator, a tutorial designed 'with the student in mind,' from Prentice-Hall

Free Getting Started Movies and Practice Exercises for TI Graphing Calculators from Hotmath.com

TI-83 Plus Multimedia Tutorial from WatchMe Ware. You can download and install the free QuickStart version.

TI-84 Silver Edition Calculator Tutorial - short videos from Atomic Learning (no password needed on campus - see Tech Staff or your teacher for User ID and password for off-campus use)

tiSkills - a tutorial site maintained by a permanently certified New York mathematics teacher
Here's the permanent link to these recommendations, located on our library's website.

Other recommendations to add to this list are welcome!

(◕‿◕)
@mauilibrarian2 
  

Wish List: LIKE & RECEIVED buttons in my email program

Wouldn't it be fantastic to have LIKE and RECEIVED buttons to respond to an email?

They'd be perfect for those times when an auto-response seems too impersonal, and a full email is either unnecessary or too time-consuming.

Of course, I'm not the first to think about this. The concept is controversial one, as noted in this GMail Help forum.

Okay, so I concede that these buttons would be too invasive for personal emails, but they would be very handy for doing business, I think. I would definitely use them!

Google, are you listening?

(◕‿◕)
@mauilibrarian2   

September 01, 2011

Olinda Dirt Wreaks Havoc on this Library PC

Mr. Toda says this is the dirtiest he's ever seen a computer.

"It's a record." Mr. Toda announced.

Click on photo twice to get an extreme closeup :/

Mr. Toda cleaned it up, added more memory, and it's good to go.  Thanks, Mr. Toda!

(◕‿◕)
@castlelibrary


August 31, 2011

For Our Honors Bio Students, When Only the Best Resources Will Do

These are the online tools and resources I will be recommending to Ms. Reed's Honors Bio students today, for their research projects. They're aiming for publication, so only the best will do.

♦♦♦♦♦

Search these DATABASES for stellar results:

Online Databases available through Hawaii State Public Library System (your library card needed)
Recommended:  Academic Search Premier, Gale Virtual Reference Library (science)

Direct link to EBSCO (your library card needed)
Recommended: Scholarly Journal Databases Full Text  ➡ Article


"Every web site in SweetSearch has been evaluated by our research experts"

Google Advanced Scholar Search

♦♦♦♦♦

Try this reputable science-related web site:

Essortment Articles: Free Online Articles on Health, Science, Education and More...

 ♦♦♦♦♦

Wherever you choose to do your search, keep in mind:

How to Evaluate Websites (including detecting bias)

Good luck!
♦♦♦♦♦

Please fill out the Honors Bio Publication Project form at the same time you submit your final project.

(◕‿◕)
@castlelibrary

July 28, 2011

Search Engines I Recommend to Our Students

I recommend these search engines to our students, grades six through twelve:

Search engines to try:



Apple engine - Teacher selected and approved free resources

Bing vs.Google - You'll see results from both engines side by side. 
Heapr - Search Google, Twitter, Wolfram Alpha and Wikipedia super fast

SearchCredible - Enter a query. Search credible resources. 
 
Sweet Search - A search engine for students. "Each site has been evaluated by our research experts."

Wolfram|Alpha
- Computational search engine. Gives you access to the world's facts and data and calculates answers across a range of topics

Chomp - Search for mobile apps through a unique combination of app search and personalized recommendations

pipl People search on the web. Finds high-quality results in pages that cannot be found on regular search engines.

Track This Now - Social media search, topic tracking, news mapping


33 Academic Search Engines - For the serious researcher, from cybrarian77

DuckDuckGo - simple, less cluttered, private
*Google has declared war on content farms.
◇◇◇◇◇
Got any suggestions to add to this list? I welcome them!
(◕‿◕)
@mauilibrarian2

 
 

July 26, 2011

4+ Places to Create and Sell Your Own Poster -- for the Library Girl!

Jennifer LaGarde, aka The Library Girl, created a graphic that says it ALL for us school librarians and I think she should make a poster of it and market it. I definitely would buy one!

(the article and the graphic)

Here are suggestions for Jennifer, and anyone interested in sharing their killer creation with the world.

Cafe Press

Zazzle

Costco

BigHugeLabs

Does anyone else have suggestions for Jennifer?





Jennifer, you're my hero!

(◕‿◕)

@mauilibrarian2

June 28, 2011

All About Search PlanIt, and the *Teacher!* Who Created It

Search PlanIt is a fantastic new teacher-led lesson plan search engine developed by a teacher. Now that piqued my interest right away -- I had to know more. Who is this person, how did he/she do it, and what is the story behind Search PlanIt ?

Curtis Cook was easy to find, and he graciously answered all of my questions. His story and the story behind Search PlanIt is a fascinating one!

Curtis Cook, creator of Search Planit
✧✧✧✧✧


Curtis, please tell me a little about yourself.

I currently teach in the Lee's Summit School District.  I teach three hours of history at Lee's Summit High School (my alma mater), which is a public high school in Missouri.  I also teach the new Summit International Studies program at Summit Technology Academy.  I am very proud of the International Studies Program (SISA).  It has been recognized on a national level for its innovative method of focusing on international studies.  I designed the program, which is a long-term simulation where students act as intercultural consultants for local and international business partners.

Over my twelve years of teaching I have taught World History, American History, Comparative Government, percussion (more on that later!), and Economics (which is my college major).

“I became a teacher through a rather non-traditional route.”

I became a teacher through a rather non-traditional route.  I graduated as an economics major from the University of Missouri and embarked on a career at the local newspaper in my home town, where I was the circulation manager.  Eventually I advanced to other positions at the paper, including information technology manager.  But something was missing.

That was when I received a message from the band director at my old high school.  He needed someone to coach the drumline and wanted to know if I was interested.  I took the position and decided immediately that I loved working with high school students, and that I would be much happier in an atmosphere where my efforts were meaningful.

So I returned to college, not to teach music, but history - another passion of mine.  One year later I was hired as a full time teacher at Lee's Summit High School teaching history and coaching drumline.

Summit Technology Academy

After 10 years teaching at Lee's Summit High School, I learned of an international studies program that would be launching at Summit Technology Academy (STA).  STA is a technology-intensive high school that services students from 14 area school districts.  I devised a unique program and pitched it to the steering committee.  SISA (Summit International Studies Academy) was born the following year.  I gave up drumline and spent half of my days at STA.

Why did you create your own search engine? Do you have a tech background to do this? Is a tech background needed to create a search engine? Do you have to spend a lot of time maintaining it?

I've always loved technology even from my newspaper days when I created and maintained their first website.  (Pretty high-tech for 1995 Missouri!)

“You do not need to be a Jack-of-all-Trades.”

But I do not have a technology background in the traditional sense.  I am not a programmer or web developer.  But as I tell my students, it is more important that you can collaborate with people and create a team that has the technical skills that you lack.  You do not need to be a Jack-of-all-Trades.

As a tech-loving teacher, I had always used the Internet for lesson plans and research.  But the lesson plan sites were so full of ads and low-quality lessons.  I was usually frustrated with the amount of time that it took to find lesson plans.  And I knew that it should be easier than that.  There needed to be a way to make the technology work for teachers, not the other way around.

"Hey.  Wouldn't it be great if teachers could just pull out their iPhones at a meeting and find lesson plans that they could share with everybody else at the table?"
Then last August (2010) a few things happened.  I was reading some articles about the simplicity and effectiveness of the Apple operating system, along with some information about the inventor of the flip camera and his obsessive focus on simplicity.  The flip only does one thing, and it does it well.  Apple makes it easy to use their operating system.  I then read an article on the death of the World Wide Web and how mobile devices would be the future of the Internet. I have no idea why, but I put all that together and I said, "Hey.  Wouldn't it be great if teachers could just pull out their iPhones at a meeting and find lesson plans that they could share with everybody else at the table?"  Something simple that only did one thing: Find lesson plans on the Internet.

So, I talked to my wife, who is a graphic designer, and we set out to give our search engine an interface.  Once we had some pictures, I sent it to a buddy of mine who was in drumline with me at the University of Missouri.  He then reminded me of another guy on the line who was now a programmer.  Things were coming together!

So my wife, my buddy from Marching Mizzou, and I e-mailed back and forth to see if this thing was possible, and could we do it for a super-small amount of money.

Well we found an open-source search engine that could serve as the platform, discussed social sharing and teacher ratings.  We set up a small example which drew from sites I had on the Google Custom Search Engine I had created for my blog, Lesson Upgrades.

Then my friend had to drop out of the process for personal reasons.  But he had shown my wife and I that this thing could actually work.  We finally found a developer who set us up in an online collaboration portal with their programmers in Russia.

So almost a year later, Search PlanIt was born.  I now spend my time promoting and tweeting lesson plans and writing blog entries about lesson plans I find.

Search PlanIt

How long has the search engine been up? What has been the response so far? Is there a story behind the moniker?

“As far as the name and logo, it's based around the fact that we want to build a community. “

We started in mid-June of this year, so Search PlanIt is only a few weeks old!  But the response has been great.  I've had a pretty respectable amount of teachers tweet about it and find me on Facebook.  Even though it is summer, we get quite a few teachers form around the world already.  50% of our traffic is referral, and I love that!  It means that teachers find it useful and that we hit the nail on the head!

As far as the name and logo, it's based around the fact that we want to build a community.  My wife and I came up with the name while driving around in our car.  She was still excited about it the next day and told me that we could do all sorts of things to promote this community of teachers using the planit play on words. We talked about saying things like “Here on Search PlanIt  teachers’ opinions matter”.  It just felt like we could use the planet metaphor for our Search PlanIt  community.  

I chose the saffron and blue color schemes specifically.  Saffron is a highly regarded color in India which was a substantial source of traffic on my old search engine.  And blue is seen as a trustworthy color here in the States.

When we were done I sent it out to as many teacher friends as I could think of.  We then tweaked things that they were nice enough to address as concerns.

I notice your site says you have 300+ searchable sites. That is amaaazing! Could you tell me why and how you chose the sites? Is there a variety? Any noteworthy ones?

Basically I put some of the big sites in, and then dug down about 20 pages into a Google search.  I wanted to give teachers stuff they would never find on Google, but was good.

“My favorite sites are the teacher-posted ones.”

My favorite sites are the teacher-posted ones.  We have sites from school districts, home schooling sites, and a lot of ELL sites.  I know that music teachers often feel left out of the process, so I included a number of music lesson plan sites for my former colleagues too!

I think the best example of how these sites create an awesome set of results is through one of my first Internet searches.

I am a big fan of Andrew Carnegie, and I always used his name to test my search engines.  But on Search PlanIt, I found something new -- a lesson plan by the U.S. Parks Department focusing on Carnegie's love of libraries and his multiple library donations.  What a cool angle that I never would have thought of, made possible by Search PlanIt.  I'm hoping that many teachers will have a similar story.

One of the most interesting angles about your story is that a practicing teacher "took the bull by the horns" so to speak, and created something that is incredibly helpful for other teachers. What is your philosophy about teaching and sharing with others?

“I think that teaching is just sharing.”

Thank you - I love that "bull by the horns".  I think that teaching is just sharing.  There's that philosophy that we really don't think of original ideas and can never "own" knowledge.  Knowledge exists out there in the universe and we just stumble on to it. We just find it through reading and exploring.  I am not the center of knowledge.  I can only share the very small amount that I have found myself.  But what I should be sharing are methods for finding that knowledge and using it to find more knowledge.  So kids should share and collaborate, and teachers should help them on their journey.  

But I know that teachers face severe limits in the classroom.  When you have 35 bodies in a room that services over 200 kids a day, sometimes you have to punt.  But teachers are incredible  professionals who have improvised ways of meeting those challenges. And that's where Search PlanIt  comes in.  

Teachers can look at what other teachers are doing in the classroom.  But it needs to be practical in the circumstance in which teachers live.  I've read through all sorts of lesson plans that were obviously written by someone who has an office and a phone.  I know they don't work in my world, and their lesson plans won't work in my world.  

So, with Search PlanIt I can give those lessons a rating.  A real rating from a real teacher.  It's just like you got it in a conversation across the hall.

And you know what's cool about our rating system?  It actually affects the results so that teachers won't have to trudge through ineffective lesson plans to find the good ones.  If the lesson plan stinks, I give it a one-star rating and it gets buried at the bottom.  I've done that to all sorts of lesson plans.  I may find that one site charges for their worksheets and I messed up and included it in the original urls.  So I just give it a one-star so that no one has to see it.

And that kind of control is in everybody's hands that uses Search PlanIt.  I call it your lesson plan search engine and I mean it.  Some of my friends said I should have things panel-reviewed.  But I don't want that and I resent that sort of elitism.  I want teachers to have the control.  That's what Search PlanIt is about.

“And, one of the coolest things about this search engine, in my opinion, is the ability to share with one click.  As with everything on the site, my goal is to make it easy.”

And, one of the coolest things about this search engine, in my opinion, is the ability to share with one click.  As with everything on the site, my goal is to make it easy.  And I know that teachers share things all the time.  So why not make it easy to e-mail some lesson plans to your department?  

Let's say you are at an in-service on differentiated instruction and you are teamed up with your American History colleagues, which just happened to me.  I looked up some civil rights lesson plans on Search PlanIt and tweeted them so that everyone could see them.  One teacher didn't use Twitter, so I just e-mailed it to her with one click.  It's just that easy.  

That's what I am the most proud of.  This search engine works for teachers.  I LOVE it.  I Know that it works and I know that teachers will use it.  And I feel vindicated because a full 25% of our traffic is return visitors already!

Any final thoughts?

I just want to say that I encourage everyone to "take the bull by the horns".  I learned a lot of that message from reading Dan Pink.  The future is different than our past.  We need to approach it differently.  We need to tell our kids if they have an idea, it can happen.  I mean think about it.  I am a small-town boy from the Midwest.  But I have teachers from all over the world using my search engine.  It was just an idea one year ago.  And thanks to my wife and my friends, I was able to collaborate with experts halfway across the world and make my idea a reality.  It's great stuff!

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Curtis! You are making a huge difference for teachers all over the world. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful story -- you’re an inspiration to us all.

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@mauilibrarian2