Monday, November 29, 2010

The Economics of Seinfeld

Professors at Eastern Illinois University and Baker University have created courseware using clips from Seinfeld to reinforce economic concepts and theories.  Their Web site, The Economics of Seinfeld, cross-references clips from the episodes with important concepts related to the way Econ works.  (The references are time-marks on the DVD versions - similar versions could be found on Hulu, etc.) 

The web site could be a nice way to jazz up an Econ or Social Studies class at the high school level.  It's also offers teachers a new way to look at old favorites even if you don't teach HS Econ...

...Not that there's anything wrong with that...

Museum of Modern Art

The Museum of Modern Art has a great web site for teachers and great web sites for kids.

The MoMA web site for teachers contains teaching guides and lesson plans that can be used with resources available from their website.

Destination: Modern Art is designed for younger children (ages 5-8 or so), allowing them to explore modern art and artists, tour a virtual museum, and learn to look carefully at art and the influences of the world on artists.

The Red Studio is designed for teens (middle school and high school students).  Red Studio contains
  • Behind the Scenes looks at artists & staff at the museum;
  • Remix, an interactive collage site;
  • Fauxtogram, making virtual photograms or camera-less photographs;
  • Chance Words, a site that allows users to make a Dada-ist poem (yeah, I had to look that one up, too.)

Wow!  See, pretty cool site, huh?

Animated Gettysburg Address

Here's a great video to enrich your studies of American History and the Civil War.

Gettysburg Address on Vimeo


Here's a great film (around 12 minutes) showing how ELL/ESL kids might feel during standardized testing or any other lesson that is language-dependent.  (And what in our classrooms is NOT??)

Immersion, on Snag Learning

Many thanks to Free Tech for Teachers for the heads-up on this video.

Skype In The Classroom

Skype has recently announced the development of a directory of Skype educators - teachers who use Skype to reach out to the world from their classrooms.

For those of you who haven't heard, Skype is a free Voice-Over-Internet Protocol (VOIP) service.  It allows you to share voice-to-voice (if you have a microphone) or video-to-video (if you have a web cam) with other Skype users absolutely free.  It is being used increasingly by educators in much the same way as inviting guest speakers into your classroom - only this is world-wide and doesn't require travel - and did I mention it's free?

Skype's newest development is this directory of Skype-ers for education.  They're starting out with educators who want to connect with other educators - sort of like the old adopt-a-classroom or "Flat Stanley" relationships many of us used to cultivate.  They hope to expand to other users to help educators connect with the private sector as well.

All you have to do is register, expand your profile a little to help others decide if they want to connect with you, and start Skype-ing away.  Then, connect a web cam or microphone to your computer.  The directory they create will help educators connect with one another to mutually enrich their classrooms.

NY Times: Fix The Budget

This article from the New York Times (published Nov. 13) and related web site would make a great addition to any secondary Social Studies, Current Events, Political Science, Government, or Economics class.  After reading the article and researching various ways to reduce the federal deficit, students can enact their plan by checking a series of boxes to see what impact their ideas would have on the deficit over time.  This could be followed up by a class debate on the different policies and debates.  It would be a great way to encourage kids (middle grades through high school) to get involved with current events and learn about our political and economic systems.

ChemEd Digital Lab

Want a great site for teaching Chemistry concepts to your middle school or high school students?  ChemEd Digital Library will offer you a wealth of resources to help enrich your curriculum.  ChemEd Digital Library contains lots of student tutorials and downloadable lesson plans for teachers.  ChemEd Digital Library also offers 3-D modles of organic & inorganic compounds as well as a periodic table of elements with explanations of each element.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

FBI & Internet Safety

At the Illinois Education & Technology Conference last week, I learned of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Safe Online Surfing (FBI-SOS) Internet Challenge.  It contains some amazing Internet Safety activities, available free for schools and parents!  What's more, it allows teachers to track which students have completed modules on which topics, allowing for easier documentation of activities and a simple way to be certain that schools are complying with Internet Safety mandates.

The FBI-SOS curriculum is concise, with each module consisting of pre-tests, scavenger hunts, and post-tests, in the following areas & grade levels:

There are a couple of drawbacks:
  1. Participation does require the collection of parent permission slips (available in both English & Spanish), as student names are required to assign usernames in the system.  The FBI-SOS Privacy Policy is very clear about what data is collected and how it is used.
  2. Each module's pre-test, scavenger hunt, and post-test must occur within the same calendar month, which could make for some tricky scheduling in some cases.

However, these drawbacks are fairly minor considering the benefits:
  1. Comprehensive, levelled curriculum from arguably the most reliable source for quality information about student safety on the Internet.
  2. Fun and interesting activities that entertain, engage, and inform.
  3. Pre-tests & post-tests that measure student growth & learning.
  4. Students do not need email addresses to participate.
  5. Teachers have no papers to grade - the site does everything for you.
  6. Teachers and administrators are provided with reports on student progress through topics covered, to ease documentation for Internet Safety Mandates.
  7. Come on, it's the FBI!  How cool is THAT?

This might be a nice addition to your current Internet Safety lessons in Grades 3-8.  If you're still wondering how to help your school comply with Internet Safety Mandates, this would be an excellent way to start!

Related Topics:

Monday, November 22, 2010

SMART Boards & Word Problems

Image from

Jim Hollis of Teachers Love SMART Boards has developed a great Thanksgiving-themed SMART Notebook file called "Turkey Trot" to help teach kids a 5-step approach to solving word problems in elementary/middle grades/early high school Math classes.  It contains a number of different pre-made word problems - teachers could certainly download and edit the file to customize it to whatever concept you're currently teaching.  It's very cute - tap the turkey on each slide to advance to the next step. 

The instructions are found at the end of the file:

  • The Turkey Trot is used to review a five step process for solving word problems.
  • Choose a student to lead the class through each word problem. Students should go through each word problem step-by-step and students should participate on each step for each problem to reinforce the steps.
  • Each word problem has an answer page following the "Check" step. Time should be provided for students to complete the word problem before advancing to the answer page.

Take a look at the link on the left side of the page for lots of other Thanksgiving-themed SMART-Board Resources as well!

Thanksgiving Resources

Okay, so I know this is last-minute, but maybe you'll tuck this away in a file somewhere and pull it out for next year.

I've run across3 nice sites for lots of Thanksgiving Resources for teachers:

Illinois Education & Technology Conference

Last week I attended the Illinois Education and Technology Conference, held annually in Springfield, IL.  The Conferences always contains helpful information and loads of resources for classroom teachers.

The Conference has a Ning networking site that is free to join.  On the site you can access presenters' handouts and learn loads even if you were unable to attend.  If you have time and are interested in learning new ways to incorporate technology into your daily lessons, you'll find loads of great ideas there!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Bright Hub Interactive Whiteboard Games

Many thanks to Galesburg Ag Teacher Corrine Smith for this link!

Bright Hub is an "all-around answers" site, inviting experts from all areas to submit answers to readers' questions from areas including Technology, Science, Health, Parenting and Education.  (The downside is that the site is heavilly ad-supported, and articles may include professional writers or self-proclaimed free-lance "experts" who self-publish through the site.  Both types of writers are paid for their published works.)

The Interactive Whiteboard Games, written by Jonathan Wylie and edited/published by Elizabeth Wistrom of Bright Hub, include Power Point and SMART Notebook versions of:
  • Who Wants to be a Millionaire (SMART Notebook or Power Point)
  • Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? (SMART Notebook or Power Point)
  • Deal or No Deal (SMART Notebook only)
  • Jeopardy (Power Point, SMART Notebook, and SMART Senteo/Response Clicker Game)
  • Classroom Feud (Like Family Feud, only in SMART Notebook)


These are all fine game templates that would be very helpful in a classroom for kids of most any age, especially grades 3 and above.  However, some of the Power Point versions (Jeopardy, etc.) use "invisible" hyperlink boxes that could be a bit difficult for novice users to use appropriately.  The SMART Notebook files are slick looking and have some nice interactive features.  It is unfortunate that only one of the games (Jeopardy) includes directions for editing, and only 2 of the games that I previewed had game play directions/rules for the kids.  Most of the teplate files downloaded quickly.  In the files I previewed there were very few problems with the files as written - most of the hyperlinks take the user to the appropriate slides in the file and what-not.  (I did not have time to look at every slide in every file, I'm afraid.)  I can see how these might be easy to mess up for the novice or reluctant user, but those who are familiar with Power Point and SMART Notebook (especially the hyperlinking feature) wil  greatly enjoy these files, though!

District #205 teachers: If you would like to use these and have any questions, please let me know.  I'll be happy to help you with hyperlinking in either Notebook or Power Point!

Thanks again, Corrine, for helping out our colleagues!

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