Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Take a look at what the not-so-distant future of education might look like:
Salman Khan is the creator of the Khan Academy, a free online education resource. Subject matter ranges from basic Math up to Calculus & more. There are a number of videos on various science topics, like Biology, Chemistry, Astronomy, and Physics. There are also a growing number of videos on various business topics, like Economics, Currency, and Finance. History videos are being developed, too. The YouTube videos are available through the Khan Academy web site or through their YouTube Channel.
There is also a nice tech-enhanced classroom option as well. Teachers and students can select from thousands of educational videos and work through a wide range of practice problems and assessments to help develop mastery through the web site. (Keep in mind that teachers and students can still use all the video resources for free as well, without any sign-up.) Kids work through activities to earn awards and badges that show their proficiency.
Teachers can register as a “Coach,” enter a roster of students (they need a Google account or Facebook account to sign up), and track their progress. A variety of reporting features are available.
If you’re a teacher, a tutor, or a student in need of extra practice or assistance, check out the Khan Academy.
Images from http://www.khanacademy.org/
Just posted on the Open Culture blog:
Here’s a wonderful older video showing how the power of a creative teacher can shine in any classroom environment. Bobby McFerrin teaches music theory to a group of scientists at the 2009 World Science Festival. Makes me smile every time I see it.
The folks at SMART have a great YouTube Channel called SMARTClassrooms. There are a number of quick and helpful how-to videos designed for teachers. To help you get used to using the site, here’s a nice one showing 3 easy ways to reveal information in a lesson activity using your SMART Board:
If you’d like assistance in incorporating this information into your lessons, check out the SMARTClassrooms YouTube Channel!
Certainly children in your classrooms will have questions about recent events in Japan. Here’s a 2-1/2 minute look at how earthquakes happen, from National Geographic.
To help update students on the latest about the recent earthquakes & tsunami devastating parts of Japan, please visit Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day.
- The Best Sites to Learn About Tsunamis
- The Best Sites for Learning About the Japan Earthquake & Tsunami (part 1)
- Useful Updates on the Japan Earthquake (part 2)
Image from http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/
Playlists are a great way to organize a series of videos for use during a classroom lesson. Playlists allow you to play one video right after another, so you don’t have to waste classroom time searching, or prep time bookmarking, etc. When you’re done, a unique URL (or “Web address”) is generates, so you can simply email it to yourself and be ready to go for tomorrow’s lesson!
Watch the video below to see how playlists work, and learn how to create your own playlists for your lessons.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Now that YouTube is unblocked in our District, it might be nice to make sure our teachers know how to use it to find educational resources quickly and easily to integrate into your lessons.
This week, some basic searching tips might be in order:
Last week I blogged about how to use YouTube’s Safety Mode to screen out the sometimes-inappropriate comments. I strongly encourage all educators to use this feature when displaying YouTube videos in a classroom setting.
Next Week: Creating Playlists
March is Women’s History Month in the United States. Larry Ferlazzo has compiled an extensive listing of resources to integrate into your existing lessons that will help reinforce the important and valuable contribution of women to modern society worldwide.
Voices from around the globe, from The Guardian, is an interactive site marking the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. The site relates the changes witnessed by women in 15 different developing nations around the globe. Clicking on a point on the map brings up articles to help your students learn about the worldwide struggle for gender equity.
Thanks, Larry Ferlazzo, for these resources!
The Great Behavior Game (updated link) is an online application that tracks & rewards appropriate student behavior while teachers conduct their lessons. It is recommended to be used with a projector or SMART Board.
According to the educatorshandbook.com website, this resource offers a 30-day free trial. This can be extended for a fee of $499/school/year. It is no longer free.
Teachers can create up to three student rosters. Once a game is started, students’ names appear as game pieces on a board. Students earn points automatically as time progresses. Ten points earns a student a star. Students can earn extra points for positive or observed behaviors – simply single-click on the name to assign the bonus points. Click-and-hold on a student’s name to assign a time-out. Students do not accumulate points during a time-out. Teachers can also assign a longer term time-out, called a “freeze.” There is also an Undo button, as well as a Pause button which allows you to show students’ point accumulations and talk with kids about their behaviors. Settings can be changed to allow reinforcement or timeout intervals to occur at 1-, 2- or 3-minute time periods.
In the screenshot of “my class” below, Jimmy and Donna each have 21 points (2 stars & 1 dot), Joey 7 Suzie each have 19 points (1 star & 9 dots), and poor little Darth has a time-out (although he has earned 16 points, his stars & dots have been hidden during his TO, and he can see exactly how long he has left on his time-out), probably for using The Force in some way inappropriate to my classroom expectations.
There are a number of different reporting & printing options as well to help keep parents informed of progress or concerns. Daily data can be displayed on a line graph for a week, which separates out standard point accumulations from bonus points earned. Data for time-outs/freezes can be displayed on a chart showing what days of the week and times of day the inappropriate behavior occurs.
The VerdictThe Great Behavior Game (updated link) is a great resource for an elementary (K-5) classroom with a SMART Board, or any classroom environment where appropriate behaviors were in need on reinforcement.
Screenshots & logos from http://educatorshandbook.com/products/game/
EducatorsHandbook.com — The Great Behavior Game (updated link)
I found this resource at Erin Kleine’s most-excellent blog, Kleinspiration
Conrad Wolfram discusses “Teaching kids real math with computers.”
In the video, Wolfram discusses the difference between school math and real-world math. Here are some highlights:
Why Teach Math?
- Technical Jobs
- Everyday living
- Logical Thinking
What is Math?
- Posing the right questions
- Real world –> math formulation
- Math formulation –>Real world, verification
He claims that we spend most of our time in schools teaching Step 3: Computation. He wonders “Why?” Computers, he says, are designed to do this for us. (“Computers” = “Computation”) Students’ time studying math, he says, should be liberated from calculation, which is the “machinery of math.”
He suggests that teachers and students spend much more time on Steps 1, 2, & 4. While there are instances where hand calculation is still important and practical (estimating & mental math, for example). He compares the study of isolated mathematical calculations with the study of ancient Greek. Important in its day, but its day has past. In another comparison, he says that studying math is to studying calculation as learning to drive a car is to learning how engines and transmissions work. Nice to know, not essential to know.
Using computers allows kids to move beyond the difficulties often experienced with calculations and “play” with math, experiment & explore more, ask the every-important “what if” questions and seek out their answers. That, he says is the true reason we learn & study mathematics. That is the essence of math. And that will require an increasing use of computers in math classes throughout all grade levels.
60 Second Recap takes great literary works and breaks them down into brief summaries of about, oh… probably a minute if logic serves. But instead of cramming the entire book down into 60 quick seconds, it divides up topics and literary elements into brief chunks. It’s perfect for the English teacher who wants to stimulate interest in a novel, but still wants the kids to actually READ THE BOOK!
Click on George Orwell’s 1984 for example. you’ll find 3 paragraphs of text to whet the appetite, then a scrollable series of videos:
- Teaser Trailer
- The Overview
- The Plot
- Meet the Cast
- Theme 1
- Theme 2
- Symbol 1
- Symbol 2
- In Conclusion
All of the videos feature Jenny, their enthusiastic host. There are even outtakes and behind-the-scenes stories about Jenny & the production of the videos.
The Down SideWhen I first learned of 60 Second Recap a little over a year ago, all the videos were hosted on their site, which was great. Recently, though, they have switched to YouTube for hosting of its video content. An understandable move, one would suppose, but now the site and its associated videos are riddled with advertisements. That’s the cost of doing business in the 21st Century, I guess, but it’s still a bit annoying. Try to plan ahead and pause the video after the ads and before the actual content before you show it to class. Or, visit the 60 Second Recap YouTube Channel, where you can click the “Skip this ad” link on the videos I previewed. It’s obviously not going to be organized quite as nicely as the 60 second Recap web site, but at least you can avoid some the frustrating ads this way. Additionally, I believe they used to allow users to upload their own recaps, making it a nice portal for a classroom project: making your own 60-second recap! Great idea for a project – too bad it’s lost from the ad-supported site.
The VerdictEven though I miss a few features, THIS SITE STILL ROCKS! I highly recommend it to teachers who use The Classics in their curriculum!
60second Recap | Learn literature's finest in fun 60-second videos
Today’s technology can let us do that, through blogs and social networks, but the question is: Should we?
This story tells of a teacher who gave in to her frustrations and started blogging about the ‘rude, disengaged, lazy whiners’ she felt she had in her high school English class. It seems that she started the blog for her friends and family members, but her reportedly profanity-laced comments were easily found by students. Once it was brought to the attention of her school, she was suspended
The question is: Did she do anything wrong?
Well, according to the story, she did not use her full name and did not identify her students. That’s smart, both for her own personal and legal safety and that of the kids involved. But the kids figured out who it was anyway, and the axe subsequently fell.
Was it the public complaining? Was it the reported profanity? Perhaps. As a former Social Studies teacher, I’m a huge supporter of the First Amendment. However, it’s important to remember the spirit in which it was written. During the Revolutionary Period, it was important to our Founding Fathers to ensure that public discourse about injustices inflicted upon The People by an Unjust Government. The First Amendment was never meant to be a shield to allow public mud-slinging in a consequence-free environment. To illustrate this point, history records that one of those Founding Father said, just before signing the Declaration of Independence a few years earlier, “We must all hang together or we will all hang separately.” This means, of course, that if their efforts for Independence proved unsuccessful, the consequences would be most dire indeed.
The true test will lie in the wording of the teacher’s contract and the interpretations of teachers’ expectations for public conduct. That last part will be the most difficult – contract language will be a slam-dunk one way or another by comparison. The area of professional/ethical conduct versus public behavior & acceptance is far more tricky. That’s why lawyers & judges live in nicer houses than I do.
But what are we as educators supposed to DO or not do? Here’s my advice:
- Remember that anything you post on the Internet is probably public – whether it’s on a blog, on a social network like Facebook or MySpace, etc. Sure, you can try to lock it down, only share things with “Friends,” etc. But, once shared, do you know with whom those “Friends” are sharing? Besides, as this case illustrates, kids seem to have ways of finding things we think are secure.
- Think before you post! Did you know that many blogging platforms allow you to delay the publishing date? Nearly all allow you to save a new post as a draft that you can come back to finish later. This allows you to type out your frustrations, hold onto your thoughts, and come back to them later with a cooler head. Then, with a different perspective, you can edit and delete things appropriately. (Many social networking sites that I’ve seen, however, do not offer this feature, so be more careful on Facebook, MySpace, and what-not.)
- Consider creating TWO profiles or blogs. If you think you absolutely must share your personal thoughts on the Internet (which I do not recommend!), try this: Put your personal thoughts in a private forum of your choosing, and lock it down as tight as you can. Then create a public forum that you use with your students. DO NOT duplicate any information on the two sites, and do not link them together in any way. (Don’t list your profession or workplace in your private profile, and don’t list any private information in your public forum, etc.)
- If this seems all too much trouble, then please, don’t vent your frustrations in a public forum! One of my first school principals once told me that, if I ever needed to vent about student behavior, get a group of friends or co-workers together, visit an establishment outside of your school district (town, county, etc.), and have a conversation! I use the term “establishment” to allow for personal preferences; I use the phrase “outside of your school district” because you never know whose parents or uncles or aunts or next-door neighbors might be sitting on the barstool behind you. Look up the definition for the term “plausible deniability” and head for neutral territory.
Please see related post: The Internet and Our Right to Privacy
Pa. teacher strikes nerve with 'lazy whiners' blog - Yahoo! News
Spent is a very engaging simulation that allows kids to find answers to the questions: What’s it like to live on a working-class budget? Could you make it to the end of the month on an entry-level hourly wage?
Spent starts out with selecting a job: restaurant server, warehouse laborer, or temporary worker. The simulation takes the student through a month, day-by-day, asking them to make various decisions about their work, family, and personal life. Spent shows how those decisions lead to other decisions, etc., and how the monthly wages are spent as a result. Once a decision is made, there is no "Back button”. Hey kids, that’s LIFE!
Spent is a simulation sponsored by the Urban Ministries of Durham (North Carolina), a non-profit charitable organization that helps the homeless and provides food, clothing, shelter, and other assistance to its clients in need.
This is an incredible resource for the middle or high school classroom! The only down-side I found was due to our school district’s local filtering policies. Some of the decision choices link you to a Facebook account (Ex: Hold a yard sale or Ask a friend to store things for you, etc.), which is blocked in our schools, to show the difficulties one might have in finding such assistance. Therefore I was unable to look into these avenues in more detail, and these would be inaccessible in our classrooms as well. However, simply closing the pop-up window allows the user to continue on in the simulation
Not only is Spent a nice simulation to show the need for social services like those provided by the Urban Ministries of Durham, it is a great simulation for anyone who teaches kids life skills, budgeting/economics, family living, vocational skills, or basic business concepts. I would highly recommend it to teachers, even with the Facebook links & resulting filtering problems, as this is a very valuable simulation for kids in our nation’s classrooms.
This link was posted on the iLearn Technology Blog.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
|Image from http://guysread.com/|
Guys Read is a great site to help encourage boys - ahem - make that young men - to read more. The site is a manly site for manly men who like to read manly stories about men like themselves. The book titles are organized into amazingly masculine categories, like "Action/Adventure," "Robots," "Dragons," "Scary," and my personal favorite "At least one explosion!" Now what tough guy in your class wouldn't want to read books and stories about that stuff?
Don't miss these Gotta Keep Reading Videos (flash-mob variation of a certain popular song from a year or so ago.)
Roosevelt Elementary School (Santa Monica, California) redux for a Readathon. (nicely dubbed over with kid voices)
Ocoee (Florida) Middle School's original flash-mob video that made the Oprah show. Read How they did it
- 2011 Interactive ISAT Sample Questions, from Metacat
- ISAT Practice Web Quest, from Jessica Berg in Rockford (IL) Public Schools
- Sample Books from the ISBE (includes archive of sample materials from past tests, too.)
- More assessment resources from ISBE
- Study Island (if your building has a subscription)
We trust that teachers will continue to screen videos for inappropriate content before displaying videos as part of their classroom activities, and never allow kids to pull up random videos in front of the class without first screening them. However, there are some ways that teachers can make the rest of the viewing experience a little more palatable in the classroom environment. Over the next few weeks I’ll offer up some brief tips on how to “tweak” YouTube for classroom use.
Even YouTube realizes that some things are not appropriate for kids and classrooms, so they’ve developed this little-known filtering feature for use within their site. Watch the demo to learn more:
How To Make It WorkJust scroll all the way to the very bottom of any video page on YouTube, find the words Safety Mode and click the word OFF. Then click the ON button and click SAVE.
If you have a Google Account or a YouTube account (both are free), you can save this setting so it is always on when you visit YouTube. Follow the directions above, but instead of clicking Save, click Save and lock Safety Mode on this browser.
Either of these will filter search results. In this mode, ALL COMMENTS ARE HIDDEN by default. If you choose to view them, objectionable comments are replaced with asterisks (*). It also screens the “Suggested” and “Featured” videos, etc.
I’ve tried it with a few videos and it seems to work fairly well. Of course, no filter is ever perfect, but this is a quick way to screen out some of the less-that-appropriate material when showing YouTube videos for classroom purposes.
- It does not seem to screen out inappropriate words in other users’ screen names.
- If you teach a subject like Health, Anatomy, or certain Biology and Science topics, you may have a tougher time finding videos that apply to those more “sensitive topics,” like reproduction or sex ed, etc., Simple fix, scroll down to the bottom of the page again and turn Safety Mode OFF. However, remember that you’ll need to screen the video and associated comments more carefully. Don’t forget to turn Safety Mode back on again after your “sensitive topic” lesson is over, especially if you share your classroom.
- It does a fairly good job of screening out its list of inappropriate keywords, but if users apply non-standard spellings (or simply misspell) inappropriate words, those can slip through the filter.
- It relies on users ratings of comments (somewhat) to decide on what is or is not appropriate to display. Help out the YouTube community by giving your thumbs-up or thumbs-down to videos and comments as your time allows. When you’re searching, use the “Flag as Inappropriate” or Flag as Spam” when you run across something that shouldn’t be shown in your classroom.
- If you don’t have a Google or YouTube account, it may or may not not work the next time you log in to YouTube, especially if you restart your computer between classes and certainly if you move to a different machine. Simple fix: get a Google account, log in, and click “Keep me logged in.’
The VerdictOkay, so it’s not completely perfect, but it’s a good place to start. By hiding all of the comments, a lot of the inappropriate & unnecessary “noise” is completely hidden by default. Besides, I don’t really see why a teacher would need to share other users’ random comments as part of a lesson, anyway. A few videos by users with inappropriate screen names might still show up in the “Suggestions” column on the right-hand side of the window, but inappropriate words are much less likely to appear there and much more likely to appear in users’ comments.
Although it’s not a guarantee for an always-appropriate viewing experience, this is a quick way for a teacher who only shows a few occasional YouTube videos to classes for educational purposes to screen out a majority of inappropriate printed language & content.
Lori's Latest Links: Read Across America Day
Looking for a St. Patrick’s Day project for your PreK-Grade 3 classroom? Projects By Jen has you covered. Here’s a whole day’s worth of activities orbiting around the theme of St. Patrick’s Day that you can incorporate into your classroom activities.
Here’s the cool part: The only thing you need beyond standard primary classroom supplies would be a box of General Mills Lucky Charms cereal.
Now, let me say this: I’m a secondary teacher by training. At first glance, this seems like “fluff.” “Crayola Curriculum” and the like. But I’m glad I gave it a chance. For a primary educator, this site contains some good stuff! It’s even correlated to ISTE’s NETS-Standards as well as California State Standards! It would be a short journey to connect those to your PreK-3 curriculum Standards. And could a creative and thoughtful professional educator adjust these activities for Upper Elementary classroom activities? Why not?
Middle Grades & High School Teachers: Don’t even think about it. Seriously.The basic activities are much like the tried and true sorting & graphing activities, using “candy-coated chocolate pieces,” or other fun snacks, just modified for the cereal. But the great part is the correlation to NETS-S Standards as well as all of the cross-curricular connections and links. There are familiar elements and new elements woven throughout!
Those secondary teachers - they’re always after me Lucky Charms.
<Sorry – Couldn’t resist… >
There’s an optional online component as well. Nationwide results will be published so kids can see how they can contribute to the overall project. Teachers need to register (free) starting March 1 in order to participate. Final Results will be posted March 21.
This project was posted on Lori's Latest Links.
St. Patrick's Day 2011
Cereal Box Image from http://theimaginaryworld.com/box710.jpg
Welcome image from http://www.projectsbyjen.com/Projects/stpat2011/sp2011Home.html
There’s just no avoiding these, it seems, so we might as well lump them together.
So long as politicians continue to think that a one-time snapshot is an appropriate way to measure student learning, we’ll continue to have third-graders who stress-out over the testing monstrosities we’re required to force down their little throats by those self-appointed educator-legislators. It’s an ethically and professionally reprehensible task that we’re required to perform – not because its right for kids, but because it helps politicians gain votes and helps the media distort the truth about learning with unreliable data gained from inappropriate assessment instruments.
To help kids (and teachers) deal with the stress forced upon them by these measures, here’s an exhaustive listing of test-taking tips.
This article, posted by the School Library Journal, conveys some sobering statistics for educators and parents across the nation. We all know that kids are more “connected” today than ever – often more-so than adults! Here’s what a recent survey has uncovered:
- 8- to 10-year-olds are exposed to media for almost 8 hours a day.
- 11- to 14-year-olds increast that exposure to media to almost 12 hours a day.
- 64% of teens (aged 12 to 17 years) create online content, and almost half (47%) of those post images online in shared spaces (blogs, social networks, etc.).
Now more than ever it is VITAL that we teach kids about the concept of Digital Citizenship – or how to use digital media resources responsibly. Kids are no longer simply members of a school or a town or even a nation. We are all part of a global community, and we must recognize and reinforce the responsibilities inherent to being members of that global community as well.
Many thanks to Dawn Malcolm, Library/Media Specialist at District #205’s Churchill Junior High School, for the heads up on this stat-filled and timely article.
|Image from http://www.lib.unc.edu/dc/minipage/?CISOROOT=/minipage|
The folks at the University of North Carolina have put the last 40 years of The Mini Page into a searchable online database. Don’t get scared – this just means that you can now get a pristine copy of any Mini Page article, feature, or puzzle published since 1969! Now you can ditch that copy-of-a-copy-of-a-copy that has been lurking in your file cabinet for years and use a fresh PDF copy up on your SMART Board! (Plus, since the files are PDFs you can also print them out for kids if needed.)
This resources was found at the Instructify blog.
|Image from http://blogs.learnnc.org/instructify/|
|Image from http://web2011.discoveryeducation.com/|
Discovery Education, SMART, and CDW-G have teamed up to bring educators a great resources called Web 20.11. Visit the site and you’ll find all sorts of resources to help you teach Internet Safety, Digital Citizenship, Media Literacy, and how to use a number of Web 2.0 tools to help you incorporate video, podcasting, digital storytelling, and more into your existing lessons. I’ve taken a look at the online and downloadable lesson plans & resources – they are a very good point to help you start incorporating technology into your classroom!
This was posted on SMART’s EdCompass blog.
|Image from http://edcompassblog.smarttech.com/1188|
Tax Time is upon us all. Kids may not understand exactly how tax dollars are spent… often neither do adults! This info-graphic offers some perspective.
What We Pay For is a site that breaks down the federal budget into easier-to-understand chunks. Click on those individual fund items for more details. You can even enter a salary figure and the site will calculate your estimated taxes and allocate a dollar amount to each of those fund areas. The figures are calculate for 2009 (a year ago), 2010 (the tax years kids’ parents are working on now), and 2011 (the most recent budget figures for the current year).
Image from http://whatwepayfor.com
I found this link on Free Tech For Teachers
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