Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Groundhog Day Resources

(Re-printed from last year’s post, because… well… it’s about groundhogs. Really…?)


Image from http://www.groundhog.org/  Honest! Why would I make that up?

Recently I was asked by a former co-worker from another District (who shall remain nameless, for what I hope are obvious reasons):

"Hey Matt! Know any place where I might find some great lesson plan ideas about Groundhog Day?"

Groundhog Day? Really?

It’s a day about a rodent, right?

…kind of a big rodent, mind you, but a rodent nonetheless… 

First I thought I might suggest he show a few clips from the Bill Murray/Andi MacDowell movie of the same name, but then I thought, “No, I don't want to be responsible for exposing another generation to that.” Undaunted, I set out to find a more educationally-appropriate response to this seemingly simple question.

And hey, wouldn’t you know? There’s an official website of the Punxsutawney Phil Groundhog Club. Please note: It’s the OFFICIAL web site! Beware of imitations…

Anyway, visitors can find lesson plans & activity ideas, including teaching students the lyrics to groundhog-themed songs, like I'm Dreaming of the Great Groundhog, and Groundhog Wonderland. (I was shocked, however, that there was no redux of The Captain & Tennille's Muskrat Love. I mean, isn’t that the obvious connection?)

Kids can also learn groundhog-themed games, like Groundhog Bingo and something called "Toss the Hog." You could then end your day crafting Groundhog Poetry, sharing a Groundhog Video, or completing some paper & pencil activities while enjoying Groundhog Cookies! (Oh my, you can even buy a groundhog-shaped cookie cutter.)

Mmmmm.... I can't remember the last time I enjoyed Groundhog Cookies… 

No, honestly... I really can't… Nor would I want to try…

2012 Update: In all seriousness, some fun and quasi-relevant curriculum activities have been added to the site. This year you can also find some quality links to meteorology resources and other geography activities in addition to those listed above on the Teacher Resource pages, organized by grade level clusters. 


This past week at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, a number of different companies unveiled new lines of laptops called “ultrabooks.” LifeHacker has published a simple, plain-English explanation of what these are and how they differ from traditional computers. Teachers may start hearing about ultrabooks in conversation, TV spots, and Sunday paper story flyers, so here’s a quick run-down.

imageBasically, according to the article, ultrabooks are very thin and lightweight laptop computers that start up very quickly. Generally speaking, most ultrabooks have a full-sized keyboard, a decent-sized display, and some may have a solid-state hard drive (no moving parts). Because they’re so skinny & light – somewhere between a traditional laptop and a tablet – most are using a special processor from Intel, who also coined the term “ultrabook” to describe this new flock of hardware. Their design also limits the number of USB ports, video ports, and peripherals that can be housed within their cases. CD/DVD drives? Forget about it. Think “Mac Book Air”, only in a Windows PC (Or Google Chrome?) version.

The original intent, according to the LifeHacker article, was to provide high-end performance on a manageable budget price. However, by the time they hit the market they are expected to retail for more than comparable laptops or tablets. The article claims the retail prices will start somewhere between $900-$1200 and move upward from there. As ultrabooks catch on, consumers might expect those prices to drop as competition would likely increase.

The LifeHacker article claims that these are “solid performers” with “mid-range specs” that would be “perfectly respectable laptops for most work, entertainment, and multimedia purposes.” The quick startup time and ease of portability would make ultrabooks a great 1:1 computing solution for schools. While tablets like iPad and others have been criticized for being nice tools for consuming Internet content, ultrabooks might offer more flexibility and computing power, too.

In my humble opinion, after reading this and other articles from the CES, most schools will probably have to wait until competition starts to drive those prices down to more tolerable levels, though. Even with comparable education pricing and bulk discounts, schools could but two iPads for to current cost of one ultrabook. Off-brand Android tablets could take that ratio even higher.

Unfortunately, due to their currently-high pricing it will probably be a few years before we read about widespread adoption of ultrabooks in average downstate school districts. I really hope I’m wrong on that, though. They look like great computing tools to support great teaching & learning activities.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Martin Luther King Resources

imageSorry I’m running a little late with this post, but here are some links to help with your lessons on Martin Luther King, Jr.

Image from www.NobelPrize.org

10 Truths About Teaching With Tech–from Clouducation

Here are snippets from a great post about teaching with technology. I encourage you to read more on the original post at the Clouducation blog:


Ten Truths about Teaching with Technology

1. Teaching WITHOUT technology is just not acceptable any longer. Can you imagine a teacher refusing to implement special education accommodations? It would be a travesty. Same thing with current technology. …

2. Online learning is inevitable, and is arriving soon… Students already learn plenty online. It would be nice if Algebra or French were a part of that.

3. Online learning does not mean students stare at screens for a majority of the time...

4. Powerpoints do not really signify effective instructive integration of technology… True technology integration breaks the barrier between curriculum and student. A Powerpoint alone cannot do that.

5. Banning cell phone use in schools has created a problem… If teachers embrace the opportunity to harness the power of handheld devices, we put the power of the world at their fingertips…

6. Education reform is about a lot of things, but the driver for all of them is society. Society is plugged in and online and collaborating like never before…

7. Facebook and Twitter are the most powerful collaboration and communication tools ever seen on the planet…  How can we ignore their potential impact as teaching tools?

8. Bloom’s Taxonomy has never been more relevant, and learning with technology is at the top of the ladder...

9. Technology is cheap...

10. The shift needs to be bidirectional… administrators who cultivate a culture of innovation and engaged learning are key for any real progress into the 21st Century.

Please read the entire original post at Clouducation

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Most Popular Posts from 2011

The New Year offers many the opportunity to look back and reflect as well as prepare for the year ahead. Here is a quick walk down memory land, reviewing the ten most-often-accessed posts from the past calendar year.
The 15 Best iPad 2 Apps Downloads You MUST Have Installed, from Technology To Software. This was a nice post for those of us new to iPads. I’m sure there are oodles of other apps out there now to add to this list. Fifteen… HA!
Tiki-Toki: Free Web-based Timeline Creator, which I learned about from iLearnTechnology. Makes the old Social Studies teacher in me yearn for a classroom again.
The Great Behavior Game, which I learned about from Kleinspiration. This is a great resource that would be very helpful for dealing with kids who need visual reinforcement for appropriate classroom behavior. It would be a great tool for teachers who work with special populations!

Cleaning SMART Boards and Projectors Hey! Finally, one of my own musings!  I hope many have found this to be good advice for maintaining classroom tech tools.

imageRocks and Weathering Animation from the BBC would be a great addition to any classroom that studies Earth Science. Thanks to iLearn Technology for the tip!

imageSMART Notebook 10.8 was cool when I first heard about it, but is even better once I got my hands on it and started playing around with it. Hooray!

imageEngaging Students with Autism Using a SMART Board was found on the EdCompass Blog. It’s a great article on how to engage kids with special needs using interactive whiteboards.

imageOutlook Tip: Appointments, Reminders, and Texts. This was a how-to post I wrote after we launched the use of the Outlook Web App. Communication is key!

imageIs iPad3 Worth Waiting For? Time will still tell about this one. Since I posted it, more rumors have been flying about leading us to believe that a mini-iPad may actually be in the works. Wouldn’t that just be a big iPod Touch? We’ll see!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

12 Education Tech Trends to Watch, from Mind/Shift


The New Year is a great time to look ahead and make plans for the future, whether that be a simple Resolution or something more long-term. This article from Mind/Shift gives a quick overview of the 12 Education Tech Trends to Watch:

  • Mobile Phones
  • BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)
  • Bandwidth Issues
  • Natural User Interfaces
  • Web Apps
  • Data
  • Adaptive Learning
  • Privacy/Security
  • Open Licensing
  • Peer-to-Peer Learning
  • “The Maker Movement”
  • Gaming

Read the Article to learn even more.

Apps to help students with ADHD


Tech & Learning has published a list of iPad/iPhone/iPodTouch applications that could assist students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Read the full list at the TL Advisor Blog.


Image from www.admongo.gov
Teaching Media Literacy, Business, or Consumer Science?
Admongo, from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), will help students decipher  the myriad forms of advertising they are exposed to daily to help them make better choices as informed consumers. 
Intended for upper elementary and secondary students, this game-based web site shows kids how businesses market products to them, tries to persuade them to give up their (or their parents’) hard-earned money, as well as how to recognize when they’re being targeted for advertising schemes.  There are also links to companion sites for teachers and parents, as well as text-only pages for handouts, quizzes, etc.
Learn more by watching the FTC's trailer video below.


XBox Kinect in Education

Think video games have no place in schools? Think again!


Microsoft’s XBox Kinect has a listing of lesson plans that help teachers integrate this technology into classroom activities.

This lesson plan by Julie Sessions will help teachers use the Kinect with Math Common Core State Standards. (I learned of this site from Vicki Davis on Twitter: @coolcatteacher)

Learn more by watching the promo video, below:

XBox Kinect in Edcuation–from www.kinecteducation.com/

To get Kinect in Education ideas direct to your email, CLICK HERE

Read the latest post!

"New" IAR Replaces PARCC in IL

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

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