Monday, November 9, 2009

Technology in the Classroom: Here is a fantastic video by Brian Mull, in which Alan November discusses the need to shift from teacher-centered to student-centered learning in America's schools, with wonderful examples of how to get the job done.

Myths and Opportunities: Technology in the Classroom by Alan November from Brian Mull on Vimeo.

Where do you find all this stuff?  Like most good teachers, I steal it, of course.  Well, not exactly - I've run across a number of great educational blogs.  (Look down the side of this page until you come to my "Blogroll" widget.)  On any blog or web site that I want to follow, I look for a little icon that says "RSS Feed," or something similar.  Once I click on it I'm asked if you want to subscribe - which I do, because it's free & I'm cheap.  Then I check either my Outlook folder entitled RSS feeds or I look under my Favorites in Internet Explorer and click the tab marked "Feeds" - both tend to have the same info.  When something new has been posted, the entry becomes bold.

Try it out by subscribing to this blog - the little orange RSS feed icon is all the way at the bottom of the page.  It's sort of like having the paperboy deliver the news to me instead of having to drive in to the coffee shop or library to read the paper!  I check my feeds a couple times each week, & when I find something interesting, I post here for you! - Like this...

Differentiate!  MixItUp is a great web site for those of us wanting to differentiate instruction, with a little help from Jan Leonard, consultant from Two Rivers Professional Development Center!

National Young Readers Day & Week: For ideas on getting involved and promoting reading & literacy in the classroom & at home, visit their web site.

SMART Board Tips: How's that SMART Board working?  Here's a few tips to keep things running well -

  • Orient: Press both of the buttons on the pen tray at the same time to bring up the orient screen.  Use your finger or a pen to tap the yellow dot in the center of the red crosshairs in sequence as they "light up".  If you'd like, you can drag to the center of the crosshair & release instead: the Board senses the release of pressure as much as the touch itself.

  • Check Your Filter: Most of the Epson projectors that we've installed have a small black plasitc filter beside the lens.  Simply slide this out and blow on it to clean the dust out once every couple of weeks.

  • A/V Mute & Freeze: When you press the buttons on the remote marked "A/V Mute" or "Freeze," the bulb is still burning, even though you don't see an image on the screen!  Only use A/V Mute or Freeze if you don't want kids to see what you're typing at your workstation, and only for brief periods of time, like 5-10 minutes or so!  If you're not using your projector for one class period or 30 minutes, whichever is less, TURN YOUR PROJECTOR OFF INSTEADEach bulb should last at least two years, and each one really does cost about $300 a piece!

  • Remember, you can download and install SMART Notebook and Response (formerly Senteo) Software at home to help you develop lesson activities.  Zap me an email (from your account only, please) for instructions and the Product Key!  YOU DO NOT NEED THE DRIVERS AT HOME, just the basic software.

Summarizing the Classics: Remember Cliff Notes - those little booklets you'd read instead of reading the actual book? 60 Second Recap is a site for middle and high school English/Literature classes that contains video summaries of classic literature.  However, these clips are not intended to take the place of reading the classics (neither were Cliff Notes) - instead, they're more like teaser trailers to stimulate intereste and brief explanations of various literary elements, like Theme, Symbolism, Motif, etc., that can sometimes be difficult for kids to grasp.  There are several brief (uhh... about a minute each, I'd guess... ) clips that go along with each book - how could you explain all the Symbols in Animal Farm in sixty seconds, after all?  These would be great multi-media discussion starters for Lit classes, or nice supporting material for kids to lean on if they're needing a little extra assistance.  And, in Club Recap, students can film and submit their own recaps to share with others!  New class project, anyone?

Don't forget to FLIP!  Remember, we have a number of FLIP 60-minute video cameras that can be checked out for classroom use!

Nuts about Numbers? Check out Number Nut - great site for elementary and middle grades Math skills.  (Might work nicely for special needs students at all grade levels as well!)  Its large print makes it a great site for use with that SMART Board!  Many thanks to Matt Warnsing at Nielson School for this link!

Word Magnets is a great little site/resource for any classroom.  It lets you enter (copy/paste or type) vocabulary words to make little virtual refrigerator magnets, which you can then arrange onto the background of your choice.  This would be a great way to integrate a SMART Board into your daily activities.  The downside: there's no way to save your work, at least not that I had found in my quick perusal of the site.  (PS: SMART Notebook software has a number of similar features in the Lesson Activity Toolkit that WILL allow you to save your activity for later use.CLick the Galery tab on the side, then search for "Category Sort,"  "Image Arrange," "Keyword Match," "Sentence Arrange," Vortex Sort," etc.)  However, if you want something that will look a little different to help capture kids attention, this site might be worth a try.

Foldables: Carol DeFreese has created a site filled with Fantastic Flexible Foldables, most of which would be appropriate for Mathematics and Geometry classes.

Sites for Kids, from "Kids": Kids Numbers and Kids Spell are nice sites that might offer students more assistance in elementary Math and Spelling.  They are ad supported, but they contain lots of great games for the little ones!

Let Kids Be Authors:  Elementary students might enjoy creating their own story books at Learn Direct.  Kids can type in their names and customize the words and illustrations in one of two pre-written stories, then save it as a PDF file.  They're even listed as co-authors on the title page!  Elsewhere on the site are games to play and other resources to help younger kids improve their reading and coprehension skills.

Free eBooks: Here's another nice way to integrate your SMART Board into daily lessons: Big Universe  You can access many of their eBook titles for free, as well as hundreds others if you want their subscriptions service.  The other neat part: kids can use the site to create their own eBooks and share with others!

Make a Digital Story Book: Storybird allows your students to create illustrated virtual story books that they can view and interact with online.  This would be a great way to publish student poems, short stories, etc.  The downside: you're stuck with their formats, etc.  However, this would also be a great way for your students to create a product they could interact with using your SMART Board.

The Hajj: The Hajj is the annual pilgrimage to Mecca made by Muslims.  The Hajj this year begins on November 25th.  Here are Larry Ferlazzo's Best Sites for Teaching Children About The Hajj.

PBS Design Squad: Here's a great site for kids who are interested in science, engineering, and physics at the middle or high school level.  PBS's Design Squad is a periodic television show in which students are challenged by creating something that helps solve a real-life problem.  Great for a science class or after school Science Olympiad, physics or robotics club, etc., also!  The site allows you to watch clips or full episodes, and includes extensive teacher support resources and lesson plans!

World War II History for Elementary School Students: Check out the BBC's Primary History WWII History site for students in elementary History/Social Studies classes covering the time period.  (May also be appropriate for special needs or LEP/ESL students, too, even at older grade levels.)  The BBC has a wealth of interactive sites like this one that work great with SMART Boards.  Plus, our Midwestern kids love the narrators' English accents...

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