Saturday, October 22, 2005

Reference Tools

Reference Tools -----Excellent Resources

REFDESK - In a library, if you don't know where to look for a reference book, you go to the Reference Librarian. On the Internet, if you don't know where to look for answers, you go to At first glance, the sheer amount of useful links on the Refdesk home page can be overwhelming. But it's really quite well organized and useful.

Don't overlook the drop down menus and search tools. For example, if you want to access a particular ISP (Internet Service Provider), you can do so from this site. There are words of wisdom and thoughts of the day, but there is also access to all the major US news outlets. Items of widespread concern, including things like gas prices, are listed individually, so you can easily reference them. Do you need a Dictionary/Thesaurus, Computing Dictionary, Medical Dictionary, Legal Dictionary, Financial Dictionary Acronyms, Wikipedia Encyclopedia, or Columbia Encyclopedia? Access them from this site. Do you need a Style and Writing Guide or help with Grammar and Punctuation? The REFDESK can help you.

You can access current events, a real time airport monitor at LAX, a Facts Encyclopedia or a Recipe Resource. College Rankings, Hospital Rankings, statistics on how many homes have computers by state, and even a text to speech tool (you type in the text, and it is read to you...wonderful for ESL students working on pronunciation.) As a matter of fact, the sheer number of facts and information that you can reference from this one site is truly and utterly amazing. Check it out, and mark it as one of your favorites.
RefDesk -

LIBRARY SPOT - Convenient links to popular online Almanacs, Calculators, Dictionaries, Directories, Encyclopedias, Historic Documents, Quotations, Statistics, and Thesauri. LibrarySpot -

Monday, October 17, 2005

GED +: Physics

Two interesting sites to review physics.


interactive journey through modern physics! Have fun learning visually and conceptually about 20th Century science and high-tech devices.

General: Health: Trust for AMERICA’S HEALTH

From anthrax to asthma, from chemical terrorism to cancer, America
is facing a crisis of epidemics. As a nation, we are stuck in a
"disease du jour" mentality, which means we lose sight of the bigger
picture: building a public health defense that is strong enough to
cover us from all points of attack – whether the threats are from a
bioterrorist or Mother Nature. By focusing on PREVENTION, PROTECTION,
and COMMUNITIES, TFAH is leading the fight to make disease prevention
a national priority, from Capitol Hill to Main Street.

General: Librarian's Internet Index Interesting site created by librarians to help navigate the Web. See their blurb on the site:
" Librarians' Internet Index (LII) is a publicly-funded website and weekly newsletter serving California, Washington state, the nation, and the world.
Every Thursday morning we send out our free newsletter, New This Week, which features dozens of high-quality websites carefully selected, described, and organized by our team of librarians. Topics include current events and issues, holidays and seasons, helpful tools for information users, human interest, and more.
You can subscribe to our newsletter by email or RSS, or read us on the Web. You can also search and browse our website for the best of the Web. We have tens of thousands of entries, also maintained by our librarians, and organized into 14 main topics and nearly 300 related topics."

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Commentary: Sotir: Just When You Thought...

The one thing I know about technology is that it can always surprise me. Today I was reading Edutopia ( Yes, this mag is produced by the George Lucas Educational Foundation, but this is not some science fiction blockbuster. These are real, though sometimes not yet available, products for learning. The new products include one that is wonderful and another that is simply amazing, and that I can't wait to try. The wonderful one is something I think students have forgotten about, but hopefully will rediscover.

Visual Thesaurus ( is $29.95 for a desktop edition (Hybrid PC/Mac CD), or $19.95 a year or $2.95 a month online. It's animated and truly seems to make language come alive. Type in a word and a host of related terms pop up on the screen. There is a visual trail to follow, uncovering dozens of linguistic links. A trial version on the website is available where you can input any word and see how the program works. I was absolutely fascinated seeing the word develop beyond the uses normally associated with it. For example, I typed in 'fantastic' and was immediately shown an array of words from 'phenomenal' to 'wondrous'. It will pronounce the base word, and you can click on any of the words to make it the base word as well. There are definitions and uses included. It is 'marvelous' tremendous' and 'extravagantly fanciful', but hardly 'foolish'. Perhaps it can even excite children (and adults) to expand their use of language again.

My choice for 'simply amazing' is the Fly Pentop Computer ( Go to this site and you can try it out for yourself. It's about $100 but that buys a lot of wow for your money. It's a combination of pen and...paper. So how is this a computer? By giving audio feedback as you write and draw on special Flypaper, of course. For example, you can draw a calculator, touch the handwritten digits and functions with the device to perform an operation, and then hear the answers announced. Or draw drums or a piano keyboard and record your own tunes. You can even add Flyware cartridges to add games and adventures. What kid isn't going to want one of these (and Santa...if you're reading least one adult would like this in her Christmas stocking too...) This is way too much fun for just kids!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

All Levels: Basic Search Engines

Searches are always difficult for students new to computers. Besides Ask Jeeves ( )here's another fast facts search engine: It's fast and intuitive, and easy enough for novices to use.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Very Humbling

Remember when our grandparents, great-grandparents, and such stated thatthey only had an 8th grade education?Well, check this out.
- - -Couldany of us have passed the 8th grade in 1895? This is the eighth-grade finalexam from 1895 in Salina, KS, USA. It was taken from the original documenton file at the Smokey Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salina,KS, and reprinted by the Salina Journal.

Grammar (Time, one hour)
1. Give nine rules for the use of Capital Letters.
2. Name the Parts of Speech and define those that have no Modifications.
3. Define Verse, Stanza and Paragraph.
4. What are the Principal Parts of a verb? Give Principal Parts of lie, lay and run.
5. Define Case, Illustrate each Case.
6. What is Punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of Punctuation.
7. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.
Arithmetic (Time, 1.25 hours)
1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
2.A wagon box is 2 ft deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushelsof wheat will it hold?3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs., what is itworth at 50cts/bushel, deducting 1050lbs. for tare?
4. District No. 33has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a schoolseven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
5. Find cost of 6720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.
6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at $20 per meter?
8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distancearound which is 640 rods?
10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.
U. S. History (Time, 45 minutes)
1. Give the epochs into which U. S. History is divided.
2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.
3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.
5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas.
6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?
8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, 1865.
Orthography (Time, one hour)
1. What is meant by the following: Alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, syllabication?
2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?
3. What are the following, and give examples of each: Trigraph, sub vocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals?
4. Give four substitutes for caret 'u'.
5. Give two rules for spelling words with final 'e.' Name two exceptions under each rule.
6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.
7. Define the following prefixes and use in connect! ion with a word: bi, dis, mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, sup
8.Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name thesign that indicates the sound: card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood,fare, last.
9. Use the following correctly in sentences: cite, site, sight, fane,fain, feign, vane, vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.
10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.
Geography (Time, one hour)
1. What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?
2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas?
3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?
4. Describe the mounta! ins of North America.
5.Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver,Manitoba, Hecla,Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall &Orinoco.
6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S.
7. Name all the republics of Europe ! and give the capital of each.
8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.
10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give the inclination of the earth.

Alsonotice that the exam took five hours to complete. Gives the saying "she/heonly had an 8th grade education" a whole new meaning, doesn't it?What happenedto us???? It is kind of humbling, isn't it ??