Cooliris (PicLens)

Cooliris is a plugin that you can download to view images as a fantastic moving 3D  ‘picture wall’, rather than viewing them one page at a time as you would with Google Images, or Flickr. Once you have seen and used it, you will never want to search for images or videos in any other way!

” Cooliris, formerly known as PicLens, is a web browser plugin that provides interactive full-screen slideshows of online images. The plugin is available for Safari, Firefox, and Internet Explorer. At present, the software is compatible with Google Images, Yahoo Images, Images, deviantART, Flickr, Facebook, Live Image Search, Photobucket, SmugMug, Fotki, YouTube (for videos), and any web site that implements mediaRSS <link> tags in their HTML pages. The software places a small icon in the corner of an image thumbnail when the mouse moves over it, which launches into a full-screen photo viewer when clicked, but without giving an option to save any of the pictures shown.” (Wikipedia)

View a movie of the picture wall here:


The reason Web 2.0 is called the ‘read-write web’ is the ability that people now have to easily add content back to the web and collaborate with others around the world. A wiki is one example of this: “it is a website where anyone can edit anything any time they want.” (Will Richardson) Of course the most notable example is Wikipedia, a massive database of knowledge added to and edited by people in all countries of the world.

There are many different sites where you can create free wikis for use in schools, but I have found Wikispaces very easy to use, and the support team there is very helpful. If you would like to set up a free wiki with Wikispaces, they have just given away their 100,000th free K-12 wiki, and they have 250,000 more free ones to give away. This means you don’t get any ads in your wiki, even though you haven’t paid for it. Click on the link below to read more:


These are a couple of wikis that I have created for my classes. The first is a reading/book wiki for my Yr 8 students, and the second is one I use with the Yr 6 students when we are looking at hoax websites and the credibility of Wikipedia.

Redlands College RIB-IT wiki

Hoax Antarctic wiki


If you would like to see how other people are using wikis in educaion, have a look at these sites:


Library2.5 at NECC

Teacher Librarian wiki

Will Richardson’s wiki

Vicki Davis, Westwood wiki

Flat Classroom Project 2008

Horizon Project 2008

Digital Citizenship in Education

Educational wikis

Holocaust Wiki Project

Yahoo Avatars

If you would prefer not to have your photo on blogs, wikis, nings, IM or other sites that you have joined, you might prefer to use an avatar instead.  Here’s an example of a wiki where the TLs have used avatars of themselves, rather than photos:

At Yahoo Avatars you can have lots of fun creating an avatar, and you can regularly change it to suit your mood or image. Download to your mobile phone when you have finished or save and use it wherever a photo is indicated.

This is also a good security/privacy option to use when the policy of your school is not to publish student images or photos. You can still allow your students to participate and use sites such as VoiceThread – they just upload their avatar instead of a photo of themselves. (Check it out first though for suitability)

You can download your avatars or send a postcard from the Home page. If you download this way you will get the Yahoo symbol on the top right of the image and the Yahoo address underneath. To save without these, I print the screen once I have saved my avatar on the website, and paste the image into a Word document. Crop to select just the image then go to Paintshop Pro (or a similar program) > Edit > Paste as a new image. Then you can save it to your computer as a jpeg, and upload to wherever you want to use it.

Yahoo avatar postcard

Yahoo avatar postcard

What’s Available at Yahoo Avatars?


This is where you can choose your skin colour, face and eyes, and hairstyle. Pick your eye and hair colours by clicking on the coloured squares to the right of each image.


You can try on full outfits or different tops and bottoms. Mix and match to get a look you love.


Try out accessories like sunglasses. Get sports and hobbies gear such as backpacks, bikes, and snowboards. Adopt a cute pet. Or try on different hats.


Whether you like the snow, the beach, or a wild nightclub, you’ll find the right background here.


Get new gear from Yahoo! and our partners. These items may only be available for a limited time.

My Favourites

Save your full avatars or individual items so you can easily find them later

(Information from the website)


CoolText is a site that’s been around for a few years, but it’s still a good one where you or your students can create fun titles and headings to add to your PowerPoint presentations, web pages or Word documents.




 You can also create buttons for your pages, to link to other pages or to other websites.  

If you need to resize your images before you use them, VSO Image Resizer is a free program available at

BookCrossing – Make the Whole World a Library!


If you want an exciting way to interest your students in reading, then try encouraging them to give books a ‘wild’ adventure with BookCrossing.  Over 700,000 people in 130 different countries have helped to create this ‘travelling library’, where you can tag and release books or go hunting for them around the world.  Over 5,000,000 books have been registerd so far, and 300 new members are added each day!

 How does it work?

Set up an account at, register each book to create a unique BookCrossing ID number for it, enter details about where you plan to release it, add some stickers, then let it go!! Hopefully someone will pick up the book, read it, add a comment to the web journal, then release it again back into ‘the wild’.  You will receive an email to alert you whenever someone adds a journal comment to one of your books, and in this way you can track where your books have travelled around the world.

At Redlands College I ask anyone travelling overseas or interstate if they would like to take a book and release it somewhere. So far this year we have released over 40 books around the world, and they have been picked up in London, Glasgow, Barcelona, Ontario, British Columbia and Bribie Island.

BookCrossing Store

A BookCrossing account is free, and if you are a teacher or librarian you can even get a free starter kit. If you would like to set your library or classroom up as a Crossing Zone, take a look at this link: 

I go to Scholastic warehouse sales and buy boxes of books for $1/book, and I let the students select which book they would like to take and release. I buy stickers, bookplates and release bags from the BookCrossing Store:, and I also glue labels onto the books which other BookCrossers have made up.  ( , also try typing ‘BookCrossing labels’ into Google)

One of these books is off to Germany

One of these books is off to Germany


From the BookCrossing website:   “BookCrossers give life to books. A book registered on BookCrossing is ready for adventure. Leave it on a park bench, a coffee shop, at a hotel on vacation. Share it with a friend or tuck it onto a bookshelf at the gym — anywhere it might find a new reader! What happens next is up to fate, and we never know where our books might travel. Track the book’s journey around the world as it is passed on from person to person.”

Below are some of the comments that people have left on Redlands College book journals:

“I was waiting for my flight back to Canada and found the book in Barcelona Airport Terminal B, June 28, 2008. I thought someone had forgotten it but when I moved it to another seat I turned it over and the bag said free book so with some hesitation and doubt I opened the bag and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was not a hoax and hence brought the book home to London Ontario. I have now read the book and enjoyed it very much.”

“Caught the book in a bar in Glasgow. Traveled across Europe with me and back home to New York!”

“My parents discovered this book during the London leg of their trip to Germany. We were all impressed and amazed at where it was found as my sister and I are ex-Redlands College students. Its amazing the things you find when you leave home!”

“I found this book at the Vancouver International Airport. I was on my way home to Prince Rupert, BC (from Prince George, BC) and was waiting for my flight. I have never heard of this so I was interested…. I think this is a wonderful idea and am a life-time book lover myself. What a great adventure for both the child and the book!”

Some of our books that have been released
Some of our books that have been released       

Here’s a link to someone’s BookShelf that was posted on a forum. As you can see, he is a serious BookCrosser!!


RSS Feeds


What is an RSS Feed?

As blogs and other web pages are created, they generate a behind-the-scenes code in a language similar to HTML called XML. By ‘subscribing’ to this RSS code or ‘feed’, you can access the content of newsfeeds, websites and blogs without having to visit those sites. RSS stands for Rich Site Summary (or Real Simple Syndication).


How will it help students with their research?

With the vast amounts of information available on the web, students increasingly need to learn ways to easily access and keep track of information they really need, without wasting a lot of time searching. With RSS feeds, you can immediately be updated when new information on your topic is published.


How to set up an RSS Feed Reader (Aggregator) OPTION 1


  1. Go to Bloglines and set up a free account:
  2. You will need to put in an email address and a password, and then you will receive a confirmation email before you can begin.


How to set up an RSS Feed Reader OPTION 2


  1. Go to iGoogle and open a free account
  2. You will need to put in an email address and a password, and then you will receive a confirmation email before you can begin.
  3. On the top right of the page click on the link to ‘Add Stuff”, then on the next page click ‘Add feed or gadget’
  4. Into the box that opens paste the web address for which you would like an RSS feed.


How to put an RSS Feed on new websites


  1. Go to GoogleAlert and set up a free account:
  2. You need to enter a username, password and email address, and you will be sent a confirmation email before you can begin
  3. Go to the Free Trial page and choose up to 3 different topics to be tracked
  4. Under ‘Feed Settings’, tick the ‘RSS Feed’ box
  5. Now copy and paste the URL of the RSS Feed into your Bloglines account and click ‘Subscribe’, or paste it into the RSS web address box on your iGoogle page.
  6. Each new feed will show up on the LHS of your Bloglines page or your iGoogle page.


How to put an RSS Feed on a News Feed


  1. Go to Google News and click on the ‘Advanced News Search’ link to set up your search terms
  2. Click ‘Google Search’ and look at the resulting list
  3. If you think that is useful, click on RSS, then paste the URL of the page into your Bloglines account and click ‘Subscribe’, or paste it into the RSS web address box on your iGoogle page.
  4. If you would rather use Yahoo News, go to Yahoo! News – RSS, and enter your own search term
  5. Click ‘Search’ then paste the URL of the resulting page into your Bloglines account and click ‘Subscribe’, or paste it into the RSS web address box on your iGoogle page.

(Information on Bloglines from Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms by Will Richardson)

Check out other information about RSS Feeds at these sites:




Voice Thread

 Voice Thread is a neat way to combine photos, videos and podcasts, but it also allows other people to view the voice thread and add their comments as well. You can also ‘doodle’ on the image as you add comments – e.g. you can add arrows, circle objects or underline words.

Voice Thread allows you to create 3 free threads, or you can register as a K-12 educator to qualify for special rates for schools. Making unlimited Voice Threads yourself as a teacher costs a one-off payment of $10, but if you would like your whole class to be able to create Voice Treads, this costs $10/month or $60/year.

To see how other teachers are using VoiceThread, take a look at this VoiceThread wiki put together by Collette Casinelli, and join the VoiceThread Ning started by Mark Carls. I especially love this book promotion VoiceThread where a number of the teachers at Valley Catholic school in the US are talking about their favourite books.

To create your account, go to and register, then click on the Create tab to upload photos or video.  You can then add comments by phone, by web-cam, by microphone, or by typing a comment. Once you have ceated your thread, you can easily post it to one of the websites below; you can add friends, then invite them via email to view the thread; or you can embed the code into a blog, wiki or website. 

The real benefit of Voice Thread lies in the fact that it is so collaborative. Once you have created your thread, you can share it with students on the other side of the world, and they can add comments to it as well.  Have a look at one of the voice threads that our students created for Book Week this year. (This is the email message that is sent out when you invite people to view your thread):

Winning the World Cup – Georgia and Zoe




Click the image or the link above to view and participate in the VoiceThread. Making comments is really simple and you can delete and re-record as many times as you like.

A VoiceThread is an online media album that allows a group of people to make comments on images, videos, and documents, really simply. You can participate 5 different ways – using your voice (with a microphone or telephone), text, audio file, or video (with a webcam). It’s easy to control who can access and comment on a VoiceThread, which makes it a secure place to talk about almost anything: business and academic presentations, travelogues, family history, art critiques, language study, tutorials, book clubs and digital storytelling. A VoiceThread allows an entire group conversation to be collected from anywhere in the world and then shared in one simple place.




Use this site to create amazing word pictures, or titles for booklets and PowerPoint presentations.


When you create your word picture, the more times you repeat a word, the larger it will show up in your word picture. The fewer times you repeat it, the smaller it will show up.


There are endless combinations of color schemes, fonts and layout designs, and each time you make a change the layout of the words randomly changes. It’s very difficult to exactly reproduce a word picture that you like, so save the ones you like as you go.


To save your word picture, hit the Print Screen button, then paste into a Word document. Use the picture toolbar to crop your image, then save it. You can also copy it and open in a program like Paint Shop Pro, then save as a jpeg.


Have a look at recent creations in the Wordle gallery, and save your best creations here if you would like others to see them.


At the moment there is no censorship on the word pictures created, so Wordle may not be a good website to encourage your students to use.


READ Mini-Posters

These mini-posters are a fun way to advertise reading that’s happening in your libray or any other place!  Click on this link to go to the ALA page where you will be able to upload your own photos to create cool posters.

When you upload a photo, it’s a good idea to choose one that’s not too close-up, as it’s not always possible to get exactly the part of the photo that you want.

(Photo of dog reading from MBKepp’s Flickr photos)

Check out the READ mini-posters pool on Flickr, and add some of your own!