Monday, December 20, 2010

Holidays Around the World

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Here's a "re-gifted" Holidays Around the World project from my classroom days.  Some of the links are broken, but it was a neat activitiy that my 7th graders really enjoyed.  While it's probably too late now for you to incorporate this into your classroom activities before Winter Break begins, the links from the project offer good resources to curious kids (of all ages):

Winter "Holiday" History from the Pagans, Vikings, & Romans

Hannukah (Spell it as you like)


Santa Claus



Happy Holidays!


The Year In Review

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Flocabulary - the folks who bring you The Week In Rap - has posted a Year In Rap: 2010, summarizing a number of the big news stories from the past year.  This might offer a way to review Current Events in your classes when you return to school following our students' "Long Winter's Nap."

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Teach Parents Tech

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 On the personal side of things, my parents are in their 80s and love to use their computer to keep in touch with the family & the rest of the world, especially during the Winter months.  When they need a little assistance, guess who they call?  ME!  How many times have I been in the other room helping Mom figure out how to open that attachment from Aunt Mildred while one of my nephews plants himself in the comfy chair watching SpongeBob instead of the Rose Bowl???

Now, I think it's always important to make time for family, but if you're anticipating a busy Holiday season you maywant to deliver a pre-emptive strike to your parents' inbox.   That's where this cool little site from Google called Teach Parents Tech comes in.  Here's a little about the site, from their "About" page:
Every December, millions of tech-savvy young people descend on their homes only to arrive to a long list of tech support issues that their parents need help with. A few of us at Google thought there had to be a better way that would save us all a few hours each December...

The result of our brainstorm was, a site that allows you to select any number of simple tech support videos to send to mom, dad or uncle Vinnie. The site is not perfect and hardly covers all the tech support questions you may be asked, but hopefully it’s a start!

 Teach Parents Tech is simply a quick form you fill in to create and send a holiday greeting card to your parents or loved ones.  The trick is, there's a how-to video embedded in the card that shows the recipient how to do some of those simple little things, like changing wallpaper or screensavers, making the text larger on web pages, and so on.  There are also some important  safety tips, too, like how to create strong passwords, how to tell if an email is legitimate, and how to stop getting online newsletters, etc.  There are also some great suggestions for more advanced users on how to find information on the Web, how to manipulate photos and other media, and even how to make a blog or use VOIP and Internet chat services.

Teach Parents Tech might be a nice way to helpout the folks and spend a little more quality time with your family over the holidays!

PS: They are YouTube/Google videos, so they're blocked from our school computers.  If you trust YouTube's & Google's content, you can send them from your school computer, but you'll just see an empty space where the video should be.  Don't worry - the video will be there when your folks receive it at their home.  However, if you want to preview the video before it's sent, you'll have to do it from home.

Super Book of Web Tools for Educators

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Richard Byrne of Free Tech for Teachers has done it again!  With the help of 10 leaders in Ed Tech, he has published an e-book entitled The Super Book of Web Tools for Educators, and filled it with over 70 different tools for elementary school, middle school, high school, and alternative school teachers, ELL/ESL teachers, and administrators.

The easiest way to enjoy the book is to click the Enlarge this document in a new window in the Yudu window embedded in the blog post and read it online.  It can also be downloaded (PDF) and read when you're not connected by clicking the Downloadbutton in the DocStoc window that is embedded below that.

Please keep in mind: A few of the tools that are discussed in this e-book are blocked within our District (like YouTube, Facebook, etc.), so before you spend your Winter Break developing a great lesson to utilize these tools, head into your classroom and double-check to make sure you can access the tool(s) at work.

SMART Live Online Training

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Looking for a way to spend some time learning over Winter Break?  SMART offers a number of Live Online Training courses to help you learn how to use your SMART Board and its various hardware and software components.  All you need for most of the sessions is a computer with an Internet connection and a telephone that you can also use simultaneously during the 30- to 75-minute demonstration, so you can learn at home over Winter Break in your flannel jammies & bunny slippers!

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Courses include (all times Central):
  • SMART Board Basics - Every Monday @ 11 am
  • SMART Notebook 1: Getting Started - Every Monday & Wednesday @ Noon
  • SMART Notebook 2: Enhancing Your Skills - Every Monday & Wednesday @ 1 pm
  • Using Lesson Activity Toolkit - Every Wednesday @ 2 pm
  • SMART Notebook Math Tools - Every Friday @ 9:30 am
  • SMART Response (Senteo clickers) - Every Wednesday @ 10:30 and every Thursday @ 4 pm
  • SMART Slate - Every Friday @ 11 am

I've "attended" a few of these sessions, and they are very good - at least as good as a webinar can be.  The trainings are focused on creating or using something that you can apply directly to your classroom practice, so you won't feel like its a waste of your valuable time.  I don't know how the Holidays will affect this schedule, but its an ongoing FREE opportunity for you, so keep it in mind for other times of the year, too.

Filter Search Results by Reading Level

Many thanks to Richard Byrne of Free Tech for Teachers for this tip!

If you use Google to find classroom resources on the Internet, you can filter sort your search results by "Basic," "Intermediate," or "Advanced" reading levels.  Here's how:
  • Visit
  • Type in what you're searching for & click "Search" or hit the Enter key
  • Once your Search results are displayed, Click the Advanced Search link beneath the Search button
  •  On the next screen you can refine your search results.  Under Need more tools? you'll see a drop-down box next to Reading Level
  •  This will let you choose to:
    • Annotate results with reading levels - You'll see all of your search results analyzed overall, along with a note on each of your individual results 
    • Show only Basic reading level results
    • Show only Intermediate reading level results
    • Show only Advanced reading level results

This could be a great tool for teachers who are looking to develop classroom activities with materials at reading levels appropriate to their students.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

More Pearl Harbor Resources

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Following my earlier post, I was made aware of another resource recounting the events of Dec. 7, 1942
  • National Geographic on Pearl Harbor - NatGeo has a great web site on the Pearl Harbor attack.  Don't miss the Interactive Map, which takes visitors on a moment-by-moment tour of the events of that fateful morning.  It also contains first-person interviews of Pearl Harbor survivors from both sides of the conflict.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Looking for Holiday Resources?

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Check out last week's post for resources on Hannukah, Christmas & Kwanzaa!

Also, have a look at NewsWord for lots of holiday-themed puzzles, and reproducibles.

Free Education Resources

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Open Educational Resources Commons is a web site allowing teachers to post or search for educational resources, lesson plans, and virtually anything you might need for your classroom lesson activities.  While there's no guarantee about the quality of the information, it makes up for it in quantity - there are literally thousands of lesson plans available for you to download and modify to fit your own needs.

Illinois Parents

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IllinoisParents is a site sponsored by the Illinois State Board of Education, the Academic Development Institute, and the Early Childhood and Parenting Collaborative at the University of Illinois.

Illinois Parents is a searchable database of articles and resources to help anyone who parents or works with children (ages preK-12).
  • Resources for parents helps parents find resources, materials, and links to other websites that provide pertinent information.
  • Resources for schools provides a portal to information and materials to help educators encourage increased parent involvement.
  • Four community organizations are featred on the site's home page each month.
  • There are also links to the School Community Journal, an archive of school & parent related articles.   

Most of the resources are searchable by grade level, topic/keyword, etc., and cross-referenced by elementary, middle, and high school, ELL, and Special Education categories.

Free Poster for Social Studies Classrooms!


C-SPAN is offering free timeline posters of American PresidentsClick here to get yours!

CSPAN Poster

Holiday Word Search for SMART Board

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Jim Hollis from Teachers Love SMART Boards has developed some free word search activities you can use with your classroom SMART Board.  There are also a number of fun kid-riddles to help stimulate divergent thinking this holiday season.  Enjoy!

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Interactive Lessons on the Revolutionary War

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Found this site on Free Tech For Teachers:

Teaching American History has published an intereactive history of the American Revolutionary War.  Users are presented with an interactive map that takes them on a chronological journey through the major battles & turning points in the War for Independence.  A brief quiz and text-based descriptions are offered at each "stop" along with links to external site so students can gather more information.  (*I did find a number of inactive or "broken" links, though.)   This would be a great site to help kids review important events in the American War for Independence.

60-Second Civics

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Sixty-Second Civics is a project I learned about from Free Tech For TeachersSixty-Second Civics offers a brief podcast about a given topic in Civics and includes a one-question quiz with the podcast to encourage listening comprehension.  The page has an archive of past podcasts, allowing teachers to search the page (CTRL-F) for topics relevant to their daily lessons.  This site would offer a high school or middle school social studies class a great resource for bell-ringer or warm-up activities.  There are a number of other links to civics-related podcasts and other resources along the left side of the page, too.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Business English Materials

I learned of this site from a post on Larry Ferlazzo's blog.

The Business English Materials web site has lesson plans, downloadable printables, etc., to help older students learn about worldwide buinesses and corporations.  (WARNING! Some of the links discuss businesses such as breweries, distilleries, etc., that may not be appropriate for the classroom.)  This might be a nice site for resources and lesson plans to help kids learn more about businesses, corporations, and the global economy.  There are handouts, printables, quizzes, etc., for each business listed on the site.  However, the lessons plans and content are sort of "cokie-cutter," offering similar activities and worksheets for every business linked to the site.


I learned of this website from Jim Hollis' Teachers Love SMART Boards blog.

ABCTeach has a number of free downloadable resources for teachers.  There are a number of pre-made PDF worksheets, especially for elementary school classrooms in the reading/language arts and math subject areas.  (There are some available for other subjects and for middle grades classrooms, too.)  The resources are searchable by subject area or grade level to help you find things quickly.  There are also a number interactive tools available for teachers, like puzzle generators, sorting activities, handwriting templates, math worksheet generators, and so on.  However, the real gem to be found on this site is under the "Interactive" tab, where yuou'll find a number of pre-made SMART Notebook files ready to download, customize, and use with your classroom almost immediately!

Even more resources are available by subscription.  To learn more and receive a 20% discount off of the annual subscription fee, please visit Jim Hollis' Teachers Love SMART Boards blog!


The Best Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa Resources

Lary Ferlazzo maintains a blog page containing an exhaustive listing of online resources to help kids learn more about the Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa holidays.  If you're looking for resources about Winter Holidays, Larry's place is your best friend!

Looking for Some Winter Reading?


This post from Free Tech for Teachers offers up 17 different FREE e-books for your Holiday enjoyment.  Read them on your computer, or maybe Santa will drop an e-reader down the chimney for you... Ho Ho Ho!  Topics include:
  • Digital Storytelling
  • Web 2.0 Projects for your classroom
  • Developing Critical Thinking Skills 
  • Making Home-School Connections
  • Creative Exercises for Artists (and everyone else)
  • Keeping Kids Safe online & on social networking sites

How Parents Can Help In the Digital Age

Thanks to Dr. Scott McLeod's blog, Dangerously Irrelevant, for the tip on this article.  Dr. McLeod is one of the co-creators of the original, viral, & now-famous Did You Know? Shift Happens video.  Though I personally find the original the most interesting and though-provoking, the video is now in its 4th iteration.

The New York Times recently published an article identifying the need for parental knowledge of and intervention in the cyber-lives of kids today.

As we all know, it's hard to keep up with our kids in the realm of technology today.  We all struggle when attempting to draw the line between allowing students the freedom to explore versus our ethical duty to keep kids safe.  It is, however, essential for every adult to stay in-touch with our children's online activities and offer an open avenue for real face-to-face communication should something unpleasant or unwanted happen to a child.  This article offers a candid look at how we can help kids deal with some of those online unpleasantries before they turn into real-life tragedies.

28 Tools for History Classes

Here's a great article from iLearn Technology on tools to help "bring out the 'story' in History".


Interactives, from Annenberg Media, contains a wealth of resources for students in all grades and subject areas.  Most of the Math & Science activities are geared toward middle grades and high schoolers, but a few of the Language Arts & Social Studies activities are appropriate for elementary-aged kids as well. I've previewed a few of the activities - the sites are well-done but a bit text-heavy, and some of the links are small - you'll want to use the site with kids who have good dexterity & hand-eye coordination, and who aren't afraid to do some reading.  There are few "games" here - these are high-quality web sites, though much of the learning is focused on the lower & middle ranges of Bloom's taxonomy.

Their interactive online activities include (with suggested grade levels):
  • Math
    • Geometry - 3D shapes (6-8)
    • Math in Daily Life (9-12)
    • Metric Conversions (6-8)
    • Statistics (9-12)
  • Science
    • Amusement Park Physics (9-12)
    • DNA (9-12)
    • Dynamic Earth (7-9)
    • Ecology Lab (9-12)
    • Garbage (9-12)
    • Periodic Table (9-12)
    • Rock Cycle (7-9)
    • Volcanoes (9-12)
    • Weather (9-12)
  • Arts
    • Cinema (9-12)
  • Language Arts
    • Elements of a Story (2-5)
    • Historical & Cultural Contexts (9-12)
    • Literature (9-12)
    • Spelling Bee (all grades)
  • History
    • Collapse (9-12)
    • Middle Ages (9-12)
    • Renaissance (9-12)
    • US History Interactive Map (5-8)

Many thanks to Galesburg's own Kim McGuire for the tip on these activities!

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