Communicating with Edublogs via Twitter

Last Friday, one of my grade 7 students came in during recess to work on his blog. He was shocked to find he had no posts. I knew he had had posts just a half hour earlier, so was surprised myself. Then I checked my blog and I had no posts. What??? I am learning to manage student blogs, so my first concern was that I had accidentally deleted the posts. Since, I’ve been blogging for years, that didn’t seem likely. I realized that as unlikely as it sounded, that there might be something wrong at Edublogs, but what was the most efficient way to find out?

I turned to a Twitter as my communication tool. I sent the following message at 12:36 PM “@edublogs Where are my blog posts & student posts?  Help!!! ”

At 12:40, I received this reply, “@rhondacarrier Sorry for inconvenience. We had temporary server hiccup that is resolving now.”

What a relief. I went back to teaching and by the end of the next class, 45 minutes later, the blog posts were back in place.

Thank-you to Edublogs for the prompt reply and thanks to Twitter for being my communication tool.

Website Planning using

I used to plan the new ICS website. I’m reviewing what I planned and what is on the website now.

The plan was a good start, but I’m happy with the name changes to the top level links. Academics became Learning at ICS, Alumni was expanded to ICS Family, About Us became About ICS, Support became Giving, and we added the Our Church link.

I ended up adding a number of videos and slideshows that I had not planned for. I’m very happy with the Field Day video shown below. There are several other linked from various locations on the website.

ICS Field Day 2011 from Rhonda Carrier on Vimeo.

Paraphrase – Cyberbullying

When you paraphrase or restate information in your own words, it helps you to understand and to remember the information. You can paraphrase you what have heard as well as information you have read.
  1. Listen to the information about Cyberbullying on BrainPOP.
  2. Open a new text document in OpenOffice. Enter your name at the top of the document.
  3. Write a detailed summary of the information you heard in Cyberbullying. Do not copy and paste. Write the summary in your own words. Include the following
    1. the definition of a cyberbully
    2. why people become cyberbullies
    3. what you can do if you know it is happening to you
    4. what can you do if you know someone is cyberbullying another person
    5. use these terms in your summary (all were used in the BrainPOP video)
      1. rumor (a story or statement talked about as news without any proof that it is true)
      2. depression (sadness, low spirits)
      3. self-esteem (self-respect)
      4. nausea (the feeling that one might vomit)
      5. host – on the Internet (company that provides the Internet service)
      6. evidence (anything that shows what really happened, the proof)
      7. harassment (being troubled by repeated attacks)
      8. anonymous (by a person whose name is unknown or given)
      9. impersonate (pretend to be someone else)
  4. Use complete sentences, correct spelling, grammar and punctuation.
  5. Copy and paste the statement below at the bottom of your summary,

    As per the Student-Parent Handbook (pg. 35), “Cyberbullying” is one of the many forms that inappropriate behaviors can take. Therefore, those students participating in cyberbullying can be punished by the school.

  6. Place the final document in the Cyberbullying dropbox.

Alternative Energy Company

Grade 5 Research

  1. Open a new presentation document in OpenOffice. Select “Introducing a New Product” template.
  2. You will create a presentation for a company that you might create some day. Enter the name of the product and the name of the company. Choose a color scheme to compliment the source of energy.
  3. You will complete information on the following slides
    1. Long-term Goal
    2. Customer wishes
    3. Fulfilling Customer Needs
    4. Cost Analysis
    5. Strengths and Advantages
    6. Next Step of Action
    7. Bibliography
  4. Add images where appropriate. Images may come from Google images.
  5. View the following advertisements. Do they provide information about long-term goals, customer wishes, etc.
    1. Exxon Mobile Algae Advertisement (We’ll talk about algae as a biofuel later. For now, listen to how they present their long-term goals, etc.)

Alternative Energy Cluster Map

Grade 5 – Cluster Map and Research Question

  1. Open a new drawing document in OpenOffice.
  2. Create a Cluster map. The center circle should be titled “alternative energy”.
  3. Create an outer circle for each alternative energy source that you can name. Label each circle with the name of an alternative energy source.
  4. Arrows should point from the center circle to outer circles.
  5. Select the text for the alternative energy source that you are most interested in. Make it bold.
  6. Create a rectangle near the bold alternative energy source. Enter a question you would like to investigate about the form of energy. The question must be a how, which or why question.
Sample start for cluster map

Sample start for cluster map

Research Skills

Enduring Understandings:

  1. Information systems, both printed and digital, are the centers of intellectual, academic, social, and cultural life.
  2. Not all information is valid, reliable, relevant, or appropriate.
  3. Technology can facilitate learning when it enables students to explore ideas, solve problems, and derive meaning.

Research Skills

  1. Questioning: Frame questions to focus an inquiry. Write open research questions.
  2. Planning: Determine and plan research strategies appropriate for the research question. Determine appropriate primary and secondary sources of information. Use topics, keywords, directories. Sample Sources: the library, atlases, maps, graphs, visual sources, oral sources, on-line databases, the Internet, simulations, case studies, etc.
  3. Gathering: Collect and record authentic, relevant information from a range of reliable and valid primary and secondary sources. Evaluate and annotate information sources. Record information by: note taking, determining what is important/relevant, summarizing, enciphering & interpreting.) (See Successful Internet Searches and Evaluating Information Sources
  4. Sifting & Sorting & Analyzing: Use a variety of methods to sort, organize, process, integrate, and analyze information. Use graphic organizers. Use the writing process. Compare and contrast data. Make tables/graphs. Make maps. Create a visual-picture/cartoon.
  5. Synthesizing & Evaluating: Create new meaning and understanding, supported by evidence from information found. Write a statement supported by tables, graphs, maps, visual images, etc. Back up statements with citations.
  6. Reporting: Communicate clear, relevant and well substantiated arguments and findings using conventions appropriate to  the mode of communication. Provide written documentation. Give an oral presentation. Use visual images to support findings. Combine text with audio and visual to create a multimedia product.
  7. Citing: Use appropriate APA or MLA format methodology to cite reference sources and create a bibliography Annotated each information source with a statement providing proof that the resources is a valid and reliable resource to use.
Note: I’ve used these essential understandings for several years. I’m not sure what the original source was.

Efficient Internet Searches

Tip #1: Search in more than one search engine.

What you use to search depends on your topic.

The list on NoodleTools provides an excellent summary of places to look depending on your research topic:

Kid-Safe Search Engines

Frequently Used Search Engines

  • Google
  • Yahoo!
  • Bing
  • Ask
  • Alta Vista
  • Technorati is a search engine that searches blogs. Example of use: Technorati is a better place to find information about “Alan November” than Google because if you search for him in Google, the top 8 links are owned by Alan November, so most of the information was written by Alan November. In the blogs you can read what people are saying about Alan November, not what Alan November is saying about himself.

Tip #2: Use advanced search techniques. Use essential keywords and Boolean (Not/Or/And) strategies.

By using a variety of commands in Google Advanced Search, you can narrow searches for more appropriate information. Try these Google Search helps:

  • Phrase search “” – By putting double quotes around a set of words, you are telling Google to consider the exact words in that exact order without any change. For instance, “evaluate information sources” results in different web pages than evaluate information sources.
  • Search within a specific site – Google allows you to specify that your search results must come from a given website. For example, the query [ iraq ] will return pages about Iraq but only from
  • Terms to exclude (-) – Attaching a minus sign (the NOT operator) immediately before a word indicates that you do not want pages that contain this word to appear in your results. For instance, a search for Jordan results in very different results than a search for Jordan -basketball.
  • Fill in the blanks (*) – The query [ Obama voted * on the * bill ] will give you stories about different votes on different bills. Note that the * operator works only on whole words, not parts of words.
  • Search exactly as is (+) – By attaching a + immediately before a word (remember, don’t add a space after the +), you are telling Google to match that word precisely as you typed it. Putting double quotes around a single word will do the same thing.
  • The OR operator – Google’s default behavior is to consider all the words in a search. If you want to specifically allow either one of several words, you can use the OR operator (note that you have to type ‘OR’ in ALL CAPS). For example, [ San Francisco Giants 2004 OR 2005 ] will give you results about either one of these years, whereas [ San Francisco Giants 2004 2005 ] (without the OR) will show pages that include both years on the same page. The symbol | can be substituted for OR. (The AND operator, by the way, is the default, so it is not needed.)

Tip #3: The hits at the top of a search list in a search engine such as Google or Bing are not always the best sources of information.

Google ranks websites on the number of links to a site and on the number of times a site is visited. Frequency does not equal quality or validity.

Also remember that those at the top of a Google or Bing search hit list and those on the right side are advertisements for web sites. The owners of those sites have paid to be at the top or right side of the search engine hit list. In Google these are labeled Ads. In Bing they are labeled Sponsored sites.

Tip #4: Read the information in the hits before clicking on a link to the web site.

Does the language and depth of information seem appropriate for your research purpose?

*** For additional information see Evaluate Information Sources ***

Practice Evaluating Website

Assignment: Use the 5W’s and the tips on Evaluate Information Sources to compare the following pairs of websites.

Collaboration: Work in pairs to decide which website you could use to write a report for a science class. Keep track of the steps you take to evaluate each web site. One person in each pair is in charge of keeping the notes, but both students are responsible for making sure the information is accurate. Both students must agree on the final evaluation of the websites. An Essential Tip is use Common Sense!

Topic 1: Endangered Species

  1. American Alligator
  2. Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus

Topic 2: Crops

  1. California Velcro Crop under Challenge (1993)
  2. Mandarin Orange

Topic 3: Early Explorers

  1. About Explorers
  2. Explorers

Topic 4: The Solar System

  1. The Solar System
  2. MoonBeam Enterprises

Topic 5: Robots

  1. History of Robots
  2. A Short History of Robots

Topic 6:  A Dangerous Chemical

  1. Ban DHMO: Dihydrogen Monoxide
  2. Facts about Dihydrogen Monoxide

Additional Topics (from Kathy Schrock’s list)

Evaluate Information Sources

ICS information technology students are required to annotate bibliography entries using the following5W’s” to prove the validity and reliability of information used.

  • Who wrote and who owns or sponsors the information? Is the author an expert on the topic?
  • What is the purpose of the site? What information is included. Does this information support or differ from information on other sites?
  • When was the site created, updated, or last worked on?
  • Where does the information come from? Is the information copied from another web site and is it correctly cited? Where can you find more information about the sponsor for the site?
  • Why is the information useful for your purpose? Why should you use this information? Why is the information on this page better than information on other pages?

The “5W’s” above are based on Kathy Schrock’s Guide for Educators
The tips below are based on November Learning Information Literacy Resources and on Kathy Schrock’s Guide for Educators

See Efficient Internet Searches for a list of search engines and efficient search techniques.

Tip #1: Use the URL to identify the domain name and web extensions and what they represent.

URL is an acronym for Uniform Resource Locator. The domain name is located after the http:// in the URL. For instance, the domain name for Incarnation Catholic School is The domain name for Incarnation Catholic Church is

The extensions in the URL provide additional clues to the identify and authorship of a website.

  • .org – organization
  • .com – company
  • .sch – school (used outside of US)
  • .k12 – most US school sites
  • .edu – US higher ed
  • .gov – US government (add country code for outside US)
  • .ac – higher ed outside of US usually used with country code, example, “”
  • .net – network
  • .mil – US military
  • .co – Company (if paired with a country code, example “,” the state of Colorado or the country, Columbia)

For a list of country codes view Web Country Codes.

Tip #2: Truncate the URL.


to to learn that the information is hosted on and part of the University of California Berkeley Library web site. Knowing the documents are part of the official Berkeley library gives it authenticity.

Practice Truncating: What is the domain for each of the following:

Tip #3: Observe the URL grammar.

If a tilde (~), %, or a person’s name or the word “user” after the domain name is in the web address, it is a personal directory and not an official part of the website. In the following example,, the information on plagiarism is in the personal directory of wts. It is not part of the official website. This means the information must be evaluated based on the information contained within the web page, and is not automatically valid because it appears to be on a university web site.

Identify the web grammar elements in this URLs. What is the domain? Who created each web page? Is each an official part of the domain website?

Tip #4: Find who links to a site.

In Alta Vista use the “link web addess” command. This shows who links to the site and also shows how many sites link to the site. Look at the Ova Prima site, then use link in Google or in Alta Vista search windows to how many and what type of sites link to the Ova Prima site.

Tip #5: Check the grammar, spelling, punctuation, vocabulary and tone of the information on the article.

Are the grammar, spelling and punctuation accurate? These provide clues to the accuracy of the information. Do the vocabulary and tone of the information provide clues to the purpose of the web site? Is the purpose to inform, to entertain, to persuade? Is the site based on fact or opinion? Is there a strong bias on the topic.

Tip #6: Determine the quality of the information.

Does the author indicate the original sources of the information? Does the author correctly cite information taken from other sources? Does the author provide links to cites with supporting information? Does the information contradict information you found elsewhere? Do you disagree with information on the page? Are you positive the information is true?

Tip #7: Determine if the information is up-to-date.

Is there a date on the page telling when the page was created or updated? What are you researching? How recent should the information be for your purposes?

Tip #8: Study historical information about a site.

Use Way Back Machine at to find the history of a site. Enter the URL of the site in question. You can see when the website was revised. If you have a link that is no longer active but you know the URL, you can enter the URL in Way Back Machine to view the contents. Think about the implications for FaceBook and MySpace users! Yes. What you put on today will still be sitting on some computer, possibly years from now.

*** For additional information see Practice Evaluating Websites and Efficient Internet Searches ***

WebQuest Food Pyramid


  1. Open a Microsoft Word document. Enter your first and last name at the top of the documents.
  2. Go to File and Save As. Name the document Food lastname 6 1 or 6 2 Save the document in the My Documents folder.
  3. Create a table in Word with 4 columns and 7 rows.
  4. In column 1, row 1 cell, enter the text “Food Groups“. Label the top of the next column, Examples. Column 3 should have How much/day. Column 4 should have What counts.
  5. Click on each of the colors on the US government Food Pyramid to view information about each food group. Enter the name of each food group in a new cell in column 1 in your Word document.
  6. View Inside the Pyramid page. Start with Grains. Click on What’s in the Grain Group? Enter at least 4 types of grain in the column beside the Grain food group in your Word document.
  7. Go back to Inside the Pyramid. Click on How much is needed? Enter the amount you need on the table in Word.
  8. Go back to Inside the Pyramid.. Click on What counts as an ounce?  Find the answer and add it to the table.
  9. Find the information for the rest of the food groups to complete the table. Work in pairs to find the answers on the website, then share the answers with each other. Each of you must complete your own table of information in Word.
  10. Be sure to go to File and Save before you quit Word, so your information for today is saved.

image and information from