Monday, May 31, 2010

Prezi - The zooming presentation editor

image Here’s an excellent alternative to the same old static Power Point slides.  Prezi is FREE to educators (who sign up with their school email acocunt) and allows non-linear presentations.  Take a look at some of their sample “Prezis”, especially “Math is non-linear, so why do we teach it that way?”  While you must create the presentation online, you can always type out your text, etc., and copy-and-paste it into the editor.  The neat part is that you can publish your Prezi and embed it into a blog or website very easily, allowing for simple and easy sharing with your students who have Internet access at home.  Prezi - The zooming presentation editor

image BTW: There is a new way to create non-linear presentations  within Power Point 2007.  It’s a plug-in called pptPlex.  This Power Point plug-in allows for non-linear or non-sequential presentations, as well as "zoom-able" slides.  This plug-in lets you "jump around" and "drill into" a presentation to allow more flexible sharing of knowledge, all from your imagedesktop.  I’ve experimented with this and I have found that it is very easy to use, especially if you’re already familiar with Power Point.

Either of these two tools would be an excellent way to present visual information in a non-linear format.  Might be worth a try!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Web 3.0 on Vimeo

“Web 3.0?  I didn’t know there was a 1.0 or 2.0!”

Quick History-of-the-Web Lesson:

  • Web 1.0 = Search engines (Google, etc.)
  • Web 2.0 = Collaboration (wikis, blogs, podcasts, etc.)
  • Web 3.0 = Semantic Web, or as it’s put in this video explanation, “Does the World make sense, or do we make sense of the World?”

Web 3.0 on Vimeo

Langwitches Blog » Behind the Curtains of a Skype Call

image Here’s an amazing use of technology to help teacher geographic awareness.  In the (non-blocked) video, kids use Skype to communicate with students around the world, asking and answering questions related to geography, verifying facts with online resources, and collaborating using online resources.

Langwitches Blog » Behind the Curtains of a Skype Call

Monday, May 24, 2010

Free Technology for Teachers: Five Ways Students Can Build Multimedia Timelines

Here’s a great post for Social Studies Teachers who work with students using time lines.  I’ve used the Time Glider before, but the others sound really useful as well!

image   Free Technology for Teachers: Five Ways Students Can Build Multimedia Timelines

Teachers Love SMART Boards: SMARTBoard and Teacher-Created High School Biology Resources

image Here are some great links to high school Biology resources from the Harvard Life Sciences Outreach Program. This is from a great SMART Board resource site (called Teachers Love Smart Boards), but it could also be very useful in a lab or a projector-only setting.

Teachers Love SMART Boards: SMARTBoard and Teacher-Created High School Biology Resources

Free Technology for Teachers: Teachers Pet - Free Printable Teaching Resources

image Here’s a great site for downloadable and printable resources for kids to use in any classroom! It’s called Teachers Pet, from the UK.  Found this one on Free Tech For Teachers.

Free Technology for Teachers: Teachers Pet - Free Printable Teaching Resources

KidWings Virtual Owl Pellet Dissection

  Kid Wings offers lots of information about birds of all sorts, but their claim-to-fame is their Virtual Owl Pellet Dissection site. A long-help favorite of students and teachers alike, dissecting owl pellets is a great way to learn about animals, classification, and habitats. Here you can walk kids through the procedure virtually, explaining the skills and procedures needed to complete the actual project in class.
KidWings Virtual Owl Pellet Dissection

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pre-Recording Lessons Provides 1 on 1 Time

j0432552 Here’s a great blog post about Recording Your Lessons To Increase 1-on-1 Time in your classroom.  This can be done quickly and easily (at home or at school) using the Recorder feature in SMART Notebook Software.  The blog post discusses emailing videos to students – this would take place in a school with a 1-to-1 laptop computer classroom, which is not available in District #205 at this time.  However, putting the email idea aside for a moment, this technique could be very useful in any situation where students are asked to perform a task after receiving guidance/instruction from a teacher, such as:

  • Primary: teaching a handwriting lesson, art lesson, etc.

  • Later Elementary:  creating a Power Point presentation

  • Middle Grades: the first dissection activity (owl pellets, frogs, etc.)

  • High School: a myriad of ways!  Think about Drivers Education, Vocational Education, Science classes, Mathematic procedures, etc.

This technique could allow the teacher to start the video and move around the classroom to check for understanding, provide guided practice, etc.  (Perhaps a more advanced student could help start and stop the video playback for the teacher…)

DIGITAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS: Tools and Technologies for Effective Classrooms

Monday, May 17, 2010


image Some of the best science lessons in my middle school career started with a chorus of 7th graders shouting, “EWW!  GROSS!”  This site will do that, and more.  Published by the Minnesota Zoo, Who Pooped is actually a great way for kids to explore, classify, and learn about animals based on their scat, or droppings. … And maybe curb their appetites for a little while, too… I’m just not very hungry any more…


PhysicsCentral: Learn How Your World Works

image Here’s a great site for kids of all ages.  Physics Central has physical science resources and activities for students and teachers at all grade levels. There are reading activities, research resources, “Ask & Experiment” area, and – if you scroll all the way to the bottom of the home page – lots of teacher resources.

PhysicsCentral: Learn How Your World Works

Adjective Detective

image The Adjective Detective is another great site from the UK, this time from The Children’s University of ManchesterThe Adjective Detective takes students through interactive lessons about these descriptive parts of speech, and even includes quizzes to help kids check their own knowledge.

Math Live#

image Math Live would be a great way to reinforce or enrich Math lessons in a lab setting with your students.  It could also be used to help augment whole-class instruction using a SMART Board.  Math Live takes the user through flash-based videos, providing step-by-step instruction and explanation of a variety of Math facts, concepts, and operations. Try it out today with your Math class!

Math Live#

Magic Tree House

image The Magic Tree House series has been read widely by children and adults for several years.This beloved series of children’s books now has an interactive web site, thanks to our friends in the UK.  Learn more about the books, dig deeper into and behind the story lines, and even play some games relating to the stories.    Make sure to visit the “Teacher Tree” for ideas on integrating the stories into your classroom activities!

Magic Tree House

Our Documents - Home

image Here’s a great site to help middle grades and high school students learn more about American History through examination of 100 essential primary source documents.  Our Documents shows how history has been shaped through milestone documents, ranging from George Washington’s farewell address to a variety of legal decisions and historic speeches.  There are great teacher resources available on the site, as well as links to other useful History resources.

Our Documents - Home

GirlTalk Radio

image It’s not what it sounds like!  GirlTalk Radio is a podcast that focuses on the roles that women can play in science, technology, business, and other careers.  Hosted by middle school & high school girls, this Public Radio broadcast is heard on-air in the Pennsylvania/Ohio region, and now worldwide via the Internet.  It’s a great way to get more girls interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) careers!  Give it a listen today, and share it with your students!

imageGirlTalk Radio

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

2010 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge


Discovery & 3M are accepting entries for their annual Young Scientist Challenge.  The challenge this year is to create a 1- to 2-minute video dealing with one or more of the following topics:

  • preventing the spread of germs.disease

  • food safety

  • sun protection

  • wind resistant structures

All entries are due by May 27.  Visit the web site to read the rules and requirements.

About the 2010 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge

Free DVD – America: The Story of Us

image  Recently the History Channel has launched a series of episodes entitled America: The Story of Us, chronicling pivotal events that have shaped American History.  Principals can register for a free copy of the DVD (only 1 per school) at this web site:

Registration takes only a few seconds, and DVDs will be shipped free-of-charge to schools during the month of August.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Give Us Your Best Shot!

Videographer filming with old fashioned camera iStock

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) announces the 2010 OutdoorIllinois photo contest—the 11th annual competition. All winning images will be published in the February 2011 issue of OutdoorIllinois–the sixth annual photographic issue. The photo contest is open to all Illinois residents, and entries are due by 5:00 p.m. August 6, 2010. Among the items the “Best of Show” winner will receive are a weekday, one-night lodging and breakfast for two package for Rend Lake Resort and Lodge and two tickets to the 2011 Illinois Outdoor Hall of Fame banquet, where the recipient will be honored and the winning photograph displayed. First-, second- and third-place winners will receive three-year, two-year and one-year subscriptions, respectively, to OutdoorIllinois and the opportunity to have their winning photos published in the February 2011 issue. Contest guidelines are listed below and are also available at Questions may be directed to 217-785-0975 or

Contest Guidelines

Categories are: mammals, birds, insects, reptiles/amphibians, fishes (including underwater images), scenic/landscape, flora (plants, mushrooms), natural resource recreational activities and young shutterbugs (same categories but taken by persons 12 years of age or younger).

Photographs must be taken in Illinois.

--Photos of captive and domestic species will not be considered.

--Entries are limited to color or black-and-white slides, prints and digital images. Print images must be unmounted and at least 5 x 7 inches but not more than 8 x 10 inches. Slides (35mm) and medium or large transparencies should be mounted. Digital images (minimum of 2 megapixels or 1600 x 1200 dpi) must be submitted as a print.

--Each entry must be labeled with the photographer’s name, address, daytime phone number and e-mail address (if applicable), category and when and where the photograph was taken. Adhering a label to the back of the print, vs. writing directly on the back of it, is preferred as ink often smears.

--A note must accompany entries specifying the total number of slides, prints and/or digital images entered.

--Photographers of winning entries must be willing to provide the original slide, negative or electronic file for publication purposes if necessary.

--Entries received after 5 p.m. August 6, 2010, will be disqualified and not returned.

--A panel of photo experts will review entries. Winners will be notified after the judging is completed.

--The 2009 OutdoorIllinois photo contest best-of-show winner and IDNR employees and members of their immediate household may not compete.

--Entries will not be returned. IDNR may contact any photographer regarding gratis use of images in printed materials promoting Illinois' natural resources.

--All submitted photos must be free of claims and rights of third parties.

--Send entries to: Photo Contest - OutdoorIllinois, IDNR, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702-1271.

Teachers TV | Free education videos and resources for professional development

imageHere’s a great site from the UK!  If you can get past the great accents and some different terminology, Teachers TV can offer you and your students rich content to add interest to your lessons.  Sign up for a free account, enter the grade levels & subjects you teach, and you’ll be able to search and download free videos to start your lessons, augment your explanations of various topics, and stimulate interest in a number of different activities.  Principals: There are also professional development videos available for download as well! 


Teachers TV | Free education videos and resources for professional development

Friday, May 7, 2010

Pollinator Live

image Want to create an “Insect Zoo in Your Schoolyard”?  Visit Pollinator Live to learn how to integrate science, biology, zoology, and botany into your classroom activities.  At Pollinator Live, you can watch webcasts to help with integrating lessons.  You can also watch student-created videos with your class!  You’ll also find links to grants, news, and all sorts of ideas to help you bring the outdoors into your classroom.

 Pollinator Live is geared to grades 4-8.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Windows 7 Learning Tools

As many teachers in the District will soon be switching over to PCs running the Windows 7 operating system, I’ve put together some links for you to help you get used to the new interface.  Watch the intro and demo videos from Microsoft, or explore in-depth with the tutorial and how-to links.  Visit the Windows 7 page on the Technology & Learning Web Site!

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"New" IAR Replaces PARCC in IL

Image from After several years and no small amount of controversy, PARCC in Illinois is being replaced by the IAR: The Illi...

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