Thursday, March 27, 2008

Fitness Companion - Apple

We might be on track to getting some technology in the schools to encourage fitness! We have a 50/50 mix of mac and pc schools in our districts and so having Apple forge this trail, we might see some action on the schools that use Apple.

Apple developing full-fledged digital lifestyle fitness companion

Brief overview:
  • This is from a patent filing by Apple
  • Includes four components:
    • iTunes-like application
    • Hardware-based heart rate and physiological sensors
    • Rewards tracker
    • Facilitate synchronous group activities
  • Interview process that looks at fitness level and goals, health history, and non-health questions.
  • Provides a profile with fitness regime based on interview
  • Would work with iPods and other hardware sensors

Monday, March 17, 2008

PBS - Resources for Health and Fitness

As I was researching different topics, I ran across this great resource for teachers incorporating health and fitness concepts into their curriculum. There are a ton of resources including videos, books, links, lesson plans and much, much more!

Check it out:

Friday, March 14, 2008

Algebra for Success?

Omaha World Herald article:
Nebraska teachers agree with U.S. math report
The national panel urged increased focus on algebra as a benchmark skill students should master and move beyond in high school. If students can do that, the panel said, it will boost their success in college and careers.

I have a problem with using algebra as a benchmark for success. So those who cannot or are not very good at algebra/math (ie:Left Brainers) are not going to be successful? I believe there must be a problem with society's perception of intelligence and/or success. We must stop the perception that "left-brain thinkers" are the only commodity for the future.

We must nurture all types of people and each of their individual intelligences. We need to, as educators, focus on educating the whole student (as in individual); not the part that we think will make them successful or as an assembly line learning model. It will be hard. And it will be expensive. (hmmm... could be a good use of billions of dollars we are dumping in to Iraq. Sorry, I'll save that rant for another day...)

Recent information I have consumed:
A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future By Daniel H. Pink - Book
Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom By Thomas Armstrong - Book
Jill Bolte Taylor: My stroke of insight - TED Talks


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

EduBlogs New Feature

I just received a message from edublogs that they have a new feature aimed at teachers that want to give their students blogs. It's the ability to create student blogs from the dashboard of your own blog right in You can create up to 15 new accounts at at time (you can always add more later) and also make yourself an administrator of each of the blogs you create! This looks like it will be a great tool for teachers. Check it out.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Tax Time

TurboTax Online

While I am not excited about taxes, I am excited about a discovery I had this weekend. I did my taxes last year using TurboTax and was impressed enough to try it again this year. I received a CD in the mail to install the new 2007 version and upon opening the application, it fired up a web application to do everything online. It was very easy and intuitive. The interface was easy to manage and it was second to no other web 2.0 apps I have encountered. Kudos to the online version of TurboTax. Visit TurboTax Online

Quicken Online

Well, as I was working with this, I was also working closely with my desktop version of Quicken 2005 for the Mac. Since I have updated to 10.5 on my Mac, I have been looking for an alternative to this version. I contemplated version 2007 but just didn't go for it. A while back I was a part of the beta for an online version of Quicken but it just wasn't ANYTHING for me other than an online banking tool. Which I already had with Wells Fargo. Well, this weekend I stumbled across the online version again and, being so impressed with TurboTax Online, decided to give it a try.

So far I am impressed. There are still improvements it needs for me to fully move over to the all online version but this is a great start and I'm excited about the chance to move it completely online and not have any desktop software to worry about. We currently have the data files on a USB drive so my wife and I can share and this will give us much more flexibility on terms of knowing our "RealBalance™" and keeping each of us in the know.

Check it out and see what you think! There is a 30 day free trial for those wanting a preview. The forums are quite good too. Lots of community discussion.

Visit Quicken Online

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Google Earth Mashup - Batch Geocode

A colleague from Kearney Public schools shared this with me during a workshop. I thought it would be a really cool tool for administrators and others that want to map addresses to Google Earth. You just need to create a report in your SIS to get the records. Once you have the addresses, upload the list to BatchGeoCode and let it do it's magic. Heck, you could even export your personal address book and map it.


  • Create an Excel spreadsheet of student info with columns for Address, City, State, Zip, plus any other information you want to be available for each location - name, school, grade, etc. The 1st row must have headings.
  • One building at a time, (this gives you separate folders in Google Earth), highlight the Excel info and drop it into step 2 at the website below, then run through the other steps at the site:
  • When the last step completes, click to Download to Google Earth file.
  • Open Google Earth, click File, Open, select your files. They will drop into the Temporary Places folder, so drag them to My Places to save them.
  • To make the location dot for each school a different color, right click the school folder in My Places and select properties.
  • To put your school boundaries on the map, click the Polygon icon on the top toolbar and start clicking along your boundary - the polygon will show up after you have 3 points plotted.

Thanks for sharing Gary!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Wii Fit

I guess I am in the movement mode as I investigate more opportunities for physical movement with students. After years of being negative toward the game industry and it's affect on kids, we finally purchased a Wii for our household. It's an amazing piece of equipment - Caveat: IF it is used as it was intended. It's intended use was to have a gaming device that would promote activity and get families together to share time with each other. After much research and reading about the Wii, I am glad we purchased it. It does live up to it's standards and is a fun way to gather and spend time as a family. (Read an interview with the developers; the Wikipedia entry for the Wii Fit also has good information.)

The newest device Nintendo has been working on for the Wii is a balance board. This balance board in combination with the gaming software it comes with is called Wii Fit. I am really excited about it. So excited I pre-ordered it from the GameStop. (To arrive in stores U.S. May 19th.) The basic premise is that you have a device to track and chart your fitness based on your BMI. The balance board is a high tech scale that keeps track of your family's BMI records in these charts. So that is well and good as you probably already have a scale. Well, this gets the whole family involved and it is also a record for you to track over time.

Well, you may not be interested in this part of it but it also has several other "games" that come with the balance board. The games are broken into 4 categories: (the following information is from the Wii Fit website.)
  • Strength Training: Put your strength to the test with muscle-toning exercises like Single Leg Extension, Sideways Leg Lift, Arm and Leg Lift, Single-Arm Stand, Torso Twists, Rowing Squat, Single Leg Twist, Lunge, Push-Up and Side Plank, Jackknife, Plank and Tricep Extension. Challenges include Push-Up Challenge, Plank Challenge and Jackknife Challenge.
  • Aerobics: Get your heart pumping with fun, interactive Aerobic exercises like Hula Hoop®, Basic Step, Basic Run, Super Hula Hoop, Advanced Step, 2-P Run, Rhythm Boxing, Free Step and Free Run.
  • Yoga: Work on your balance and flexibility with Yoga poses and activities like Deep Breathing, Half-Moon, Dance, Cobra, Bridge, Spinal Twist, Shoulder Stand, Warrior, Tree, Sun Salutation, Standing Knee, Palm Tree, Chair, Triangle and Downward-Facing Dog.
  • Balance Games: Get into the action with fun, balanced-based games like Soccer Heading, Ski Slalom, Ski Jump, Table Tilt, Tightrope Walk, Balance Bubble, Penguin Slide, Snowboard Slalom and Lotus Focus.
I think this game could not only be beneficial for family use and fun but for school use too. The obvious use is Physical Education but I believe it could be used for a myriad of lesson enhancements. Take a look at the Wii Fit website and watch the video too. Tell me what you think!