Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Password: It's not a TV game show anymore!

It seems that everywhere you go (virtually), you need a password.  Every day teachers tell me that they have so many passwords it's difficult to keep up with them all.  Remembering that passwords are created to help us keep our personal information secure, it can still be a task to create effective passwords that we can remember.

First, I'd like to remind folks that since passwords are used for security purposes, they should not be shared or posted/published in any way.  Taping passwords to the bottom of your keyboard is similar in security to putting your house key under the front doormat, and keeping them on a sheet inside your desk drawer isn't much better.  Those are some of the first places anyone will look.

So how does a person create a strong password?  According to a CBS News article, a password should have at least eight mixed characters.  Think of a phrase you can remember, use capital and lower case letters, and substitute numbers and symbols within the phrase.  For example, you might use the phrase, "My family eats at 6", but in the password write, Mifamleets@6.  Even hackers with all of their sophisticated software prefer an easy mark to something more difficult to decrypt.  Yes, they can still figure out your password, but you might as well make it worth their time and lock out good guessers in the meantime.  Additionally, use a different password for less important sites like your Fandango or Netflix account than you would for secure ones such as your gradebook, email, credit cards or bank account.

Did you think that you were being original using one of these passwords:  password, 123456, 12345678? Actually those were the top three passwords used in 2012.  Click here to see the top 25 WORST passwords of 2012.

Test the strength of your passwords here!

Ngak, C. (2012, October 24). The 25 Most Common Passwords of 2012. In CBS News. Retrieved November 7, 2012.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Keyboarding Practice

"How can you type so fast without looking at the keys?" I can't tell you how many times students have asked me this question.  They are amazed by teachers' skill in touch typing.  Teachers, on the other hand, wish that their students could touch type.  Just think how much more quickly computer-based activities would progress if students didn't have to use the hunt and peck method of typing.

Here's a website where students can practice their touch typing skills with no login necessary.  This is a great activity for home, for a rotation, or for students who complete their classwork early.  The program shows students which fingers to use, tracks their speed and their accuracy. Practice, practice, practice to have a classroom of typing wizards!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Everyone likes the word "FREE", and if you're no exception, take a look at the interactive math lessons from DreamBox Learning®. These math tools are aligned with the Standards for Mathematical Practice and are organized by grade and topic.  Topics range from Kindergarten level through 4th grade.  Because the lessons are interactive, they are fun and engaging for students and may help students to grasp difficult concepts using virtual manipulative.  Students may try these 25 lessons at the interactive whiteboard or may go through them individually at computers where a whiteboard is not available. Of course the interactive board will provide the greatest advantage because here students can work with their teacher and others to manipulate tools, explain, and discuss their thinking.

Free Interactive Math Tools

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Brain Breaks

Just in time for testing, try some of these Brain Breaks from the Michigan Department of Education, physical activities to get their brains flowing!

Learn some "Smart Moves" with Brain Gym® Exercises that can be implemented in any classroom to engage both sides of the brain.

At Games for the Brain you and your students can play interactive computer games that get the mind working in many directions.  Many of these games can be played at the interactive white board by individuals or as a group.  Chinese Checkers is a fun starter with easy rules for a variety of ability levels.

Brain tip: Change Your Environment! Eat lunch somewhere new, drive a new route to work (for students take a new path to your classroom), or change your household routines. Changing your environment helps to keep your brain stimulated.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Morgue File

No, morgue files are not photos of the dead. A morgue file is a location where journalists archive their unused photos.This is a public image archive with very lenient licensing agreements--pretty much don't claim that you took the photo. I can't say that it's safe for students to search these photos because I haven't been through all of the 100s of thousands of them, but you'll find for teachers creating presentations, it's a source that it's rich with beautiful shots of animals and all kinds of things you'd commonly want in a search. It's also possible for teachers to do the search and save a file of photos for students to use.  

Want photos of "happy" or "mad" faces?  These are among the search options. Try searching for "Shakespeare" and look at all of the photos that are available.  I tried several rather random searches such as "dreams" , "ideas", and "soil", getting usable photos for all.  This is an amazing photo resource. Take a look!

Licensing agreements:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Animoto for Education

Though Animoto is not one of the newest web resources on the scene, many educators haven't taken full advantage of its free education accounts.  Go to this link to apply for a free Animoto Plus account offering access to create dazzling presentations.  Together in one location, photos, video clips, and music can jigsaw to create videos for an array of content purposes.  Animoto walks new users through easy steps to create their presentations. These videos can easily be shared by email, on blogs or websites, or can be exported to YouTube. In the example below, photos were gathered from Creative Commons Internet sources (and credited at the end), uploaded, and titled to create a book trailer for the 2011 Newbery Award book Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool.

If you would like to create individual accounts for your students without using real email addresses, here's a link to the Animoto Helpdesk that explains the process.  What a great opportunity for students to create their own cool videos demonstrating their learning!