38 Birthday presents from CoolCatTeacher to you!

Happy Birthday to Me! Wow! Your twitters, skypes, little e-mail notes and more have really made today special. In addition, my family was wonderful and my amazing husband sent me flowers. Although I still have a stack of grading from here to Qatar – I had a good day.

So, I thought that today, I'd give 38 presents to you for you to open and enjoy. One for each year of this amazing blessed life the good Lord has seen fit to give me.

All of these are free and so so cool! I challenge you to pick a present today, open it in my honor, and let me know what you think!

  1. Songbird – This is THE cool opensource alternative to iTunes and it is connected with Skreemr, the music search engine.
  2. Timebridge – This scheduling system plugs into google calendar or outlook and lets you invite people to a meeting, select four time alternatives, and then it books the meeting time that everyone can attend and puts it on your calendar. It reminds them and it rocks!!
  3. Get Atomic Learning Free for 3 months — I'm copresenting in a webinar with Atomic Learning and Technology & Learning on Monday. If you register AND attend at 4 pm EDT, you will get 3 months FREE from Atomic. This will give you not only the seminar I did for them on Web 2.0 but also, the one that is coming out soon about how to flatten your classroom.
  4. Diigo – This cool tool has transformed my bookmarking, blogging, sharing, and twittering. Install it, set it up to send to your delicious account. Join the educators group (getting close to 400 members) and ad4dcss groups — when you send things to the group, make sure you select at least one of the tags that “pops up” (these are from our tag dictionary.) Also, go to tools and set up a nice little daily autoblog based upon a tag you specify. (Some just put the tag “blog” for everything they want to go to their blog that day!)

    To get the most out of it, you definitely should use firefox and install the cute little bookmarklets. This is a definite tool for those writing papers!

  5. Zoho Notebook — This notebooking service completely and utterly rocks! Zohonotebook gives you the ability to EMBED video and web pages as well as snag notes from many places. It is an amazing tool! (Check out some of the pages I demoed in a workshop a while back.)
  6. Google Forms – Google spreadsheets has a cute little tool hidden in the Share tab, the ability to create a form. We're using this for the Horizon Project managers to submit their weekly reports. It is so fast and easy and a great way to pull information into a spreadsheet. I even have my national honor society students entering their service time for me into the spreadsheet.
  7. Firefox – If you're still stuck in Internet Explorer, you simply must try firefox. Give yourself a present! The plug ins are incredible. My favorites are: the diigo plug in, technorati tag plug in,
  8. If you're in Princeton come to a free Conference next Friday, May 2nd – Can you tell, I love free? I like to do work with people who provide their services to the general public and openly share information. This conference on Friday is chock full of amazing speakers and I'm going to enjoy being on a panel with some of them to talk about Flat Classroom.
  9. Twitter – Again, try this one. Some say they don't “have time for twitter” or don't “get it.” Just sign up, add me as a friend, and then go in and see whose talking to me, add some who sound interesting and then reply to their messages by saying @theirID — so to reply to me, you'd say @coolcatteacher — You may just find yourself conversing daily with some of your heroes.
  10. Hulu.com – I've been beta testing this beauty which lets you watch all kinds of TV shows. Now, you can watch too!
  11. Mogulus – Do you want your own 24/7 TV station? You can do it here. Schedule things to play. Merge videos from other places on the Net. Very cool.

  12. AFI Screen Nation – The Amazing American Film Institute has a new site where your students may upload video and be evaluated by REAL producers, actors, and directors in Hollywood. Their curriculum is totally amazing and I use the videos that come with my united streaming account to teach digital film & movie making. I love the AFI digital storytelling curriculum and highly recommend it.
  13. Toondoo – Make cartoons. This continues to be one of my perennial favorites for cartoons.
  14. Ning (for VIDEO sharing) – I LOVE Ning in the classroom and just found a super cool new feature. If you upload video to ning, it automatically converts it to the most compressed, appropriate version for the web. You may then embed the video anywhere else. This is solving a lot of our access problems for the horizon project b/c schools just unblock the Ning and have access to all of the movies!
  15. Intel Mashmaker – This lets you mash together all different types of websites and I am enjoying working with it. There will be some things I share soon. This is supposed to be a lot like Microsoft PopFly, which I've not tested yet.
  16. Skype – This is another MUST have APP. If you haven't tried it yet, get over there and take a look.
  17. Classtools.net – Embeddable graphic organizers of every kind for your wiki or blog. I Adore this site and use it all the time in my classroom.
  18. Wikispaces — This is my stable, well supported, wiki darling. One look at the horizon project wiki will tell you why.
  19. Gmail – With the most robust spam filter anywhere, the ability to filter like a fiend, make folders, and import all accounts into one place, this account is a dream come true. Even if you use another service, you can enable pop on that account, set up a gmail and pull all of your accounts into one. And if you use firefox, they have a better gmail firefox extension from lifehacker that is a must install!.
  20. Gcast – I'm really enjoying podcasting from my cell phone — just a lot of fun!
  21. FriendFeed – A cool little service that I'm really beginning to enjoy to help me follow just a few people.
  22. Technorati Watchlist – A must use for bloggers watching those responding to their work and just to follow the things you want to know more about. The RSS from the search for your blog belongs in your RSS reader.
  23. PhotoBucket – THE place I put my private photos. I like Flickr, but somtimes I just want to make a really cool flash page for my website or do something neat with photos, and photobucket has more robust tools for my photos than I've found other places.
  24. Big Huge Labs for Flickr — This has some amazingly hilarious Motivational Poster makers and just about everything you can imagine for your photos. Make monster posters, make labels, make anything. If you have photos, this is THE place to PLAY!
  25. Feedburner is a must use for any serious blogger or school Webmaster. You can burn the feed to feedburner, which will let you move your feed from place to place without losing readers! You may also use Feedblitz to e-mail your blog posts to anyone who is “afraid” of RSS. Feedburner has so many other features that serious bloggers will appreciate.
  26. Statcounter – This is my favorite place to track links, traffic, and more. Just a very reliable, accurate site.
  27. Google Reader — My RSS reader of choice for linear, sequential RSS reading (down the page aggregation), Google Reader now lets you download google Gears and read your RSS offline!!!!
  28. Netvibes – For single page aggregation, I use netvibes as my RSS reader although my home page starts up with iGoogle, I go to netvibes. Their new Ginger version allows you to publish your pages and share with others. I teach my students this handy RSS reader for their Personal Learning Networks.
  29. EdTechTalk – Although I co-host a show here, I always get pumped when I listen to these shows. Do yourself a favor and take a listen.
  30. Creative Commons Searching – This is THE place to look for images, graphics, and audio. It is a must use for students!
  31. 4Info.net – I get the weather texted to my phone each morning. Every time a Georgia Tech football or basketball game ends, I'm texted the score. You can have stock tickers, rss reminders and more texted to your phone. It is amazingly cool.

    When I shared this in Maine, one guy jumped up and yelled, “I LOVE YOU!!!” It is that useful!

  32. Newsmap – When I want to take time to read the news, this is what I use. I adore NewsMap. I teach my students to use it to get abreast of what is happening in the world. If you have 1 minute to read the news, go here.
  33. Classroom 2.0 Live Conversations – Steve Hargadon is hosting these amazing sessions. Simply excellent. Another place to “get pumped” and have some great ideas.
  34. My year long PD IS the K12 online conference — Go back and watch some videos (I love Silvia Tolisano's presentation). I believe that you should consider requiring teachers to view at least one of these presentations and “report back” to the group.
  35. Cool Cat Teacher Wiki – All my presentations, handouts, archives, and STUFF are there. I love to get out sometimes and when I do, I want to capture it.
  36. Slideshare – I LOVE this slidesharing site. It is very useful.
  37. VoiceThread – If I could pick ONE tool for elementary ed, this is it, hands down.
  38. My blog – OK, I know this is ME and you're already here. However, really, I don't know which is more the gift, your gifts to me in the form of comments, links, twitters, and e-mails or my being able to share with you what I'm doing. If you're able to live life a little better, make it through when you're at your wits end, and learn something that improves your life, then I've done something.

And although this post took me three days to write, I'm still leaving the date for this past Friday.

And for those of you who've sent me e-mails. I will get caught up, I promise. Something has happened because I had my e-mail down to zero a week and a half a go and now have over 600 emails! I'm trying not to drown!

Thank you all for the kind tweets and messages and I hope you enjoy these presents!

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Kim Hays (momsatwork) April 27, 2008 - 3:09 am

I love this post! I’m trying to myself caught up technologically. And this is supercool!

Louise Maine April 27, 2008 - 4:02 am

Happy Birthday, Vicki! Thanks for the great list that people can find something new in!

Pam Thompson April 27, 2008 - 7:20 am

Thanks for the ‘gifts’ Vicki. But now I’ll be on the computer even longer (and I should be marking). A belated Happy Birthday to you too.

tom April 27, 2008 - 10:20 am

Vicki, Happy birthday and thanks for all your hard work on this. Can’t wait to see what you’ll do for your 50th! btw the link for #5 is misdirected.

Mark April 27, 2008 - 12:41 pm

How very “hobbit-ish” for you to give us presents for your birthday! Thanks!

Robin April 27, 2008 - 2:23 pm

There are some excellent resources in your article. Some I’ve used and loved and others I’m looking forward to exploring! Thank you :)

Britt April 27, 2008 - 3:02 pm

What a delightful surprise for the rest of us…though the precedent is a little scary since I turn 58 this summer!!!

: – )

Bookminder April 27, 2008 - 3:15 pm

Happy Birthday and thanks for introducing me to Zoho. Seeing how your students use it is particularly helpful.

Kristi April 27, 2008 - 3:29 pm

thank you, thank you, thank you!!! some fabulous sites I cannpt wait to check out! I appreciate all the time you put into this!

Rick April 28, 2008 - 2:02 am

Happy birthday! Nice list of apps here. A few comments about them:

Diigo: I just don’t get it, but it sure seems to be popular among educators. Just seems like a little too much social bookmarking to me. I’ll stay with del.icio.us (for now).

Twitter: Rocks

GMail: Ditto, especially when synced up via IMAP to Thunderbird.

Google Forms: I LOVE this. We use it to do quick surveys at my school.

IMC Guy April 28, 2008 - 1:00 pm

Thanks Vicki! Now I have to find time to check out some of these tools. I want to try Google Forms to survey my staff about my library.

jules April 28, 2008 - 4:41 pm

Hi vicki! Belated happy birthday! And thanks for the gifts!

Brad Neuberg May 1, 2008 - 1:15 am

Hi Cool Cat Teacher, I work for Google on Gears so thanks for having Gears and Reader on your list. BTW, Google Docs is rolling out with Gears support as well, so you can use Google Docs offline. My birthday was also just on April 28th, so happy birthday to both of us :) What grade and subjects to do you teach? Feel free to ping me if you have any questions or feedback on Gears.

Brad Neuberg
Google Gears

mmw May 1, 2008 - 5:11 pm

Thanks for sharing these tools. We’ve been doing a web 2.0 initiative with our librarians this year, so I am familiar with a lot of them, but you also have some new ones that I can’t wait to try out. Happy birthday to you and happy learning to me!

Techyturner May 2, 2008 - 2:31 am

Oh my, what tools you have! Thank you for sharing. I really like twitter (have heard alot about it), hulu.com, and use firefox. The best one though is 4info.net. I immediately sign up and created several text messages for my phone. BTW, you share b-day with my wife! Happy Birthday and keep up the wonderful posts.

Anonymous May 5, 2008 - 1:35 am

Thanks for all of the work that you put into making this post invaluable for everyone! Happy Birthday!

Allymac July 7, 2008 - 1:26 pm

Happy Belated Birthday.
Thank your mother for giving the world such a wonderful and God giving person. I accept your gifts on behalf of my students.

Aria Kerry July 16, 2010 - 10:10 am

There are some excellent resources in your article. Some I’ve used and loved and others I’m looking forward to exploring! Thank you :)
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