Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Recently one of my students told me that he forgot his homework because "his shampoo bottle leaked all over it." Now I've heard some pretty interesting excuses, but that one topped the list! Whether it was true or not, the fact is that our kids are often disregarding their homework.
Why? Some may be deemed "lazy" by some teachers, while others just don't understand. I was one of those students who would often "get it" in class and totally forget it at home. It's frustrating, isn't it?
How can we help our kids do their homework in Math and Science? Perhaps providing a link to a video clip that would help "reteach" or supplement the instruction that took place earlier in the day. Sites like Khan Academy exist to do this.
One of the most recent sites that I have come across is Brightstorm, a free homework help site for Math and Science. The site boasts of providing Math help from Algebra 1 to Calculus and Science help for Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. Some videos contain a "Practice" tab, where participants can practice or be quizzed on a particular concept.
How does this site relate to UDL? It provides multiple ways of representing material through video for our visual and auditory students, but it also provides a separate transcript tab for students to follow / read. It provides multiple means of engagement, because students interact with material in a different / interactive way.
The site also contains a Test Prep section for the SAT, PSAT, and ACT tests. In the SAT prep section, it even has a section with interactive flash cards! Although you need to subscribe for $99 for this section, it does provide some free sample activities.
Could this cause the end of missing homework assignments? Maybe not, but its a good start.
Check out this video on the Skeletal System:
As teachers, we understand that showing a YouTube video is one way of providing another way of representing material. It creates connections for our visual learners. It gives our auditory learners a chance to "hear" more about a topic. Yet, one of the biggest limitations of showing a YouTube clip is that you have to be there. Your students have to be physically present when you watch the clip. In a way, we are limiting the learning process to occur between the hours of 8 am and 3 pm.
In the age of "Web 2.0," "Collaboration" and "Innovation," we know that this just doesn't work. What if there were a way to watch a YouTube video after the school day has ended and yet maintain a discussion about that clip too?
There is a new way! It's called Watch2gether.com . It allows you watch a YouTube video "2gether" and discuss it in a chat room set up. Users can discuss YouTube videos in a chat window, while watching the video. All a user has to do is create a session by giving it a "name", paste the URL of a YouTube video and then share the URL of your specially created chat room. Why not spend some quality time with your students and watch a YouTube video "2gether"?
Monday, August 29, 2011
Our students use Facebook and Twitter on a daily basis. Why not develop an educational social network in your classroom called ? It's set up to be very similar to Facebook, with the options to post messages, assignments, and surveys. Students can even have text messages sent to them when assignments are due! I have used Edmodo for over a year now and it has allowed me to create a "paperless" classroom, where students are able to collaborate and connect with classroom content. I can even give students instant feedback / grades.
Collaborize Classroom is another way for teachers to extend their classroom discussions to a structured and private online community. It is designed to support classroom instruction by engaging students in online activities, assignments and discussions, creating deeper participation inside and outside the classroom. It is very easy to embed Microsoft Office documents, videos, etc. inside of the classroom. Best of all, it's free!
Delicious and Diigo are examples of social bookmarking, where you can save links and access them wherever you have a computer. However, they are often very complicated and cluttered in some classrooms. Why not use a simplified version of social bookmarking called iKeepBookmarks? The site is nothing new, but it may be a great way for you to share links with your students.
You can even create individual folders for your students to access, creating an alternative for our younger students, yet still appropriate for our high school kids.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Many of us search for the "perfect" video clip, but are often limited to YouTube and Google videos. Earlier in the Summer, I wrote on Alternatives to YouTube. I would like to continue adding to that list. Why not try ClipBlast?
ClipBlast is a video search engine, which searches through video clips from all of the major networks, PBS, Biography, Hulu, and TNT. It is quickly becoming the leading destination for people searching and browsing for video clips, on-demand television episodes, news reports, sports, television commercials, how-to video, web shows, user video and everything in between. It uses Video Search technology, which helps content providers distribute their product to gain more viewers, views and drive revenue. As a teacher, this site may be a useful tool for you to use to find the right video for your topic, because of the possibilities!
I wouldn't recommend having students use this particular site, due to the potential of accessing graphic material. However, it may be a great teaching tool for educators, due to the diversity of its sources. Give it a try.
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Learning a language can be extremely difficult without practice, which has made software programs like Roseta Stone popular for adults. It has offered learners the chance to have a hand's on connection and interaction with language. We know when we provide multiple ways of representing a topic, students have a better chance to make a connection with material.
We live in an age, where we need to do more with less! Where do school districts with tight budgets turn to? Digital Dialects may be the answer. It was created in 2007, as an educational tool for learning languages. Audio files have been incorporated into animations for certain languages. More audio materials are planned. With over 30 languages represented and many interactive games, the site is intended to provide a relaxed way of acquiring basic language skills, giving students a break from the books!
We are pressed for time. We have our lesson plans to make, our personal lives to manage, and time to just be ourselves. Why not make yourself more efficient by checking out 100+ Google Tricks for Teachers?
TeachHub.com has created an excellent resource for teachers on how to use Google more efficiently. This article contains Search Tricks, Google Doc Tricks, Gmail and Google Calendar Tricks. Here are some specific tips taken from TeacherHub.com :
Convert units. Whether you want to convert currency, American and metric units, or any other unit, try typing in the known unit and the unknown unit to find your answer (like "how many teaspoons in a tablespoon" or "10 US dollars in Euros").
Search within a specific website. If you know you want to look up Babe Ruth in Wikipedia, type in "site:wikipedia.org Babe Ruth" to go directly to the Wikipedia page about Babe Ruth. It works for any site, not just Wikipedia.
Search within a specific kind of site. If you know you only want results from an educational site, try "site:edu" or for a government site, try "site:gov" and your search term to get results only from sites with those web addresses.
Search for a specific file type. If you know you want a PDF (or maybe an MP3), just type in "filetype:pdf" and your search term to find results that are only in that file type.
Google Scholar. Use this specialized Google search to get results from scholarly literature such as peer-reviewed papers, theses, and academic publishers.
Collect research notes with Google Notebook. Use this simple note-taking tool to collect your research for a paper or project.
Learn what experts have to say. Explore Knol to find out what experts have to say on a wide range of topics. If you are an expert, write your own Knol, too.
Check out the entire list on TeachHub.com !
Friday, August 19, 2011
It is a fact that print media advertisements and down and eBook sales are rising, but don't tell that to our students! Just kidding.
In all seriousness, our students may need different ways to express their knowledge of content. Why not create a product that they use and see everyday? You know what I'm talking about! The Seventeen Magazines in their purses. The Sports Illustrated's in their lockers! Why not create a Magazine cover to demonstrate their knowledge and connections of a certain topic?
Why not try Magazine Cover from Big Huge Labs. Simply upload your photo, choose your title, and come up with catchy article names and presto! This would make a great history project. Can you imagine taking a picture of Abe Lincoln and creating a whole magazine cover devoted to his life?
Why not take an element and use the "article names" to label facts? Why not take an animal and list characteristics?
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
We all learned about the Scientific Method in our younger days. We either got it or didn't. Perhaps we didn't understand because there were no "real life" examples. Zooniverse may have been a great tool to have back then!
Zooniverse is a website devoted to the largest, most popular and most successful citizen science projects on the Internet. Live projects are on the site, with more added each day. This site is an excellent example of inquiry-based learning!
It was created to collect data on a well-defined research question and has evolved through collaboration and innovation. Thousands of people view the projects everyday, creating amazing opportunities for teachers and students, serving as a powerful learning experience, while engaging in "real life" science.
There are tons of educational resources for learners of all ages, such as: the Galaxy Zoo and Solar Storm resources. The site also contains blogs and discussion forums, enhancing the interactive nature of the site.
Zooniverse promotes collaboration! Users can create accounts that allow you to access all of the projects and keep track of what you have contributed. If you are a science or health teacher, this is definitely the site for you!
In the 21st Century, collaboration and sharing is the key. Think about all of the reasons for this: increased technology capabilities, increased enrollment in online courses, more workers than ever working from home, mobile phone capabilities, and the overall globalization of the world! Our students need to learn how to collaborate because they will have to once they leave our classrooms!
One way to collaborate is sharing files or information. Many educators would like to have students "share" files to complete a project, but they often have to help students navigate through a series of confusing network folders and settings. If you want students to collaborate on one document, Google Docs may be your answer.
But what about large projects that involve multiple documents or tasks to be completed by students? What about those students who are always absent, leaving other students scrambling to get the project completed? Wikisend may be your solution.
What is Wikisend? It's very similar to DropBox. It's a free file sharing service, where users can upload and download files, media files, archives and backups, making it simple to share with friends. Users can share using E-mail, MySpace page, blogs, etc.
There is no need to register or install software- you just need to use Wikisend's uploading form and you`re ready to upload and download.
Friday, August 12, 2011
The old adage "a picture is worth a thousand words" still holds true in education today because our students often need multiple ways of perceiving information. Why do they need this? Brain research tells us that our students need multiple ways of seeing, hearing, and learning material to make "connections" to a concept. Many of us use sites like YouTube and Teacher Tube, allowing us to forget the power of a single photo!
Time Magazine has a unique feature on their website called LightBox. LightBox is a new blog by TIME’s photo department, exploring how multimedia (pictures, video, etc.) and culture defines today’s world. It provides its "Pictures of the Week" from photo journalists around the globe. Pictures include a commentary of material and world-class pictures from Time. The blog will give participants the opportunity to get a daily behind-the-scenes look at the visual side of the news. Pictures cover a variety of topics, allowing teachers from all content areas to benefit from the content!
How can you use this site?
I see a variety of ways to use the photos. Obviously you could use them as a way to have students visualize a concept or current event. You could also use a picture an introduction to a unit / lesson. You could use it as a writing prompt or prediction tool! The possibilities are endless.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Reading is one of the biggest challenges facing our students today. There are so many different reasons why students may feel this way. They may have difficulties with decoding, fluency, and even staying interested in the material.
In the 21st Century classroom, we may need to provide different opportunities for students to read. Keep in mind that we have all types of learners coming in our doors - auditory, hands-on, visual, etc. How do we get all of our learners to read? In the 21st Century, a "one-sized-fits-all" approach may not work.
Once I had a student who needed to "hear" the text being read aloud, while following along with a paper copy. Not only did it help my reader, it also gave him the confidence he needed to continue to develop as a reader.
Free Audio Books
Tools like Books Should Be Free offer free audiobooks for you or your students to download. They provide another way to perceive the material they are reading in their books. Classics like the Wizard of Oz, War & Peace, and many others are available. There are books for any topic or category available.
Text to Speech Tools
Not interested in the classics? In the past, I have mentioned sites like Voki and VozMe are great tools to use in the classroom. Simply copy and paste an electronic copy of the text to the site and it will read it to you! Voki also lets you choose the accent you want to hear your text read from!
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Remember the day of discussion forums and discussion walls? Google is trying to popularize them again through an innovative feature called Google Moderator.
Google Moderator allows you to post a question (also known as a series) about a topic that you are interested in discussing. This Google feature allows you to open it up for other users to submit ideas, suggestions, and questions about your question (also known as submissions). Participants can view other discussions and even "vote."
If you want to break your "series" into an easier to manage format, you may want to consider creating a topic (aka another way to break up your series). For example, if you create a series called "Professional Athletes," your topics could be called "NFL," "MLB," and "NBA."
Watch out though! At this point anyone can come to the site and post a submission to your series. This may be a great way to connect with users beyond your classroom. Try it out and see the possibilities.