Tuesday, January 31, 2012

When Will I Ever Need Math?

I love the question, "When am I ever going to use this?" I have to admit, there have been times that I have thought the same thing! Just the other night, I came across a really unique website that addresses this same question: When am I going to use Math?

We Use Math is a site dedicated to answering this question. From careers to how to succeed once you are out of school, this site is filled with useful resources. I particularly like the Careers tab, which has a listing of careers, salary information, etc. - all which use Math. When does a lawyer use Math? Find out!

As a teacher, you may want to check out the weekly blog entries, which are very interesting. January 30th's entry talked about the history of Tangrams. The Did You Know? section connects Math and real life situations / news. This is a great way of connecting Math to the world around students, providing another way to engage students in the content.

There is even a resource section dedicated to helping teachers. From providing t-shirts to links to other sites, it is a great resource for teachers to enhance the learning experience for all students!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Podcasting Ideas

Podcasting is an excellent way for our auditory and hands on learners to express themselves verbally. However, many of us are stuck on what to use and how to use it. What's UDL friendly? What's not? What's simple? What's not?

What do I use? 

One of the best programs that I have come across is called Audacity. It's a free program that you have to download to your computer. But it is very worth it! Students can save their audio files into MP3 or WAV format, making it very easy to use and listen to on your end.

What do I do with it? 

Many people would love to podcast, but they don't have any ideas how to use it. Here are some ideas that I have recently had my students use podcasting for:


  • One of my classes created an NPR broadcast about a recall of their choice. Students had to do the research, finding the Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How? of the recall. Then they had to create a 1 to 2 minute sound byte, giving listeners the facts and nothing about the facts. It was a great way for our class to learn current events, in a quick and easy way. The best part was that I could post recordings to my Edmodo page, so students could continue listening to the recordings!
  • Several of my classes had to "act out" phone conversations, using customer service strategies that we discussed in class. Each group was given a scenario and had to act it out at a minimum of 1 minute. It was a great way for students to actually practice what they had learned! We then listened to the conversations and critiqued them! 
  • As a review, I had my students record answers review questions and "re-teach" the class. It was a great way to check for understanding and use it as another study tool! 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Helping Students Become Organized Through a Text?

Over the past year, there has been a huge emphasis on using cell phones in the classroom across the country. Students are using cell phone aps to take quizzes, answer questions in class, and even practice their vocabulary.  More and more emphasis in the world of  Web2.0 is going to Aps.

Sites like Edmodo  have created Aps and features to catch up! One Edmodo feature will allow your students to send text messages to themselves when an important assignment is due. This has been a feature for quite a while, but I wanted to take this opportunity to revisit this great feature.


First of all, why even use this feature? Edmodo already has a Calendar feature that allows students to visually see when assignments and quizzes are due. I believe the question should be, why not use this feature? Creating expert learners is one of the goals of creating a universally designed learning experience. Although not appropriate or needed by some of our students, this is a great way for many of students to learn how to self regulate and use their time wisely.

There are individuals who may disagree with me and may say, they should use their planners. Why are we spending our money on planners? Well, hate to break it to you, but many of these planners are ending up in the trash can or lost. I don't think this feature should replace planners, because they have their place in our schools. How can a kid go to the bathroom? They are often used as passes.  However, it may an extra tool that some of our students can benefit from. Why not help our students regulate their study habits without even doing a thing on your part?


Monday, January 23, 2012

What to Do in Just a Few: Creating a LiveBinder

Isn't it scary how print textbooks are starting to become a thing of the past? As one video clip I recently watched on YouTube said, "We live in the age of information overload." In many ways, this is so true.When we order a textbook, it immediately becomes irrelevant.  Educators need to find relevant and up-to-date information all of the time.

I found that creating my own "textbook" for one of my courses was easier because I could customize the information that I wanted my students to have. I chose to use a site called LiveBinder . You may remember me writing about it late last year. Today I would like to take a moment to show you how to create your very onw LiveBinder with "What to Do in Just a Few!"


Monday, January 16, 2012

Free, Quick and Easy Photo Editing

When you do a project in class, there is a tendency to focus on traditional medians (poster and paper), rather than contemporary medians. Yes, paper and pencil are very easy. Yes, there is a time and place for it as well. But are we limiting our student's ability to create? Some of our students are not the greatest artists. Some don't have the greatest handwriting.  Many of our students want to express themselves in different ways and we are limiting their ability to create. Why are we limiting them?

I get the fact that many schools do not have computers in every classroom and using technology can be difficult.  But perhaps you are having your students do a book report and they have to create a billboard or magazine cover, depicting the theme of the text, story line, etc. Perhaps giving students the option of creating an electronic copy of the billboard or magazine cover outside of class, may be a great alternative. According to research done by CAST, our students need the opportunity to connect with material through different ways of action and expression. It allows students to demonstrate knowledge and make deeper connections with material.

Sumo Paint

Let's go back to that book report. Many of our students would like to create an electronic copy of a billboard or magazine cover, but they do not have expensive photo editing software. Sumo Paint is a great alternative to Photoshop and is free! The editing tools are very much like your expensive photo editing software, so there is a little bit of a learning curve (meaning it can be difficult for some). Many students pick up on this very easily because they are not afraid to experiment.

You can create with or without a username and account, which is great for one time use. The site also allows you to save photos to your computer in either JPEG or GIF format. If students want to save photos, then creating an account would be necessary.

Pixlr

Let's say that you are pressed for time or you have younger students. You may want something else. If you want something simpler, then Pixlr may be the alternative for you. It has simpler features, making it less complicated than Sumo Paint. Pixlr also gives you the opportunity to save your pictures to Facebook, Flicr, or Picasa.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Collaborate through Crocodoc

As I have said before, we live in the age of collaboration. Teaching students how to collaborate with one another is an important skill they need to master. UDL emphasizes using collaboration techniques to enhance learning. In the past, I have made posts about Google docs and other sites used to collaborate, but one of the best sites that I have seen is called Crocodoc.

It is quite simple. You just need to upload a Word Document, PDF, or even a picture to the site. Once you have uploaded the document, you can share. Simply click "Share" and you will be given a unique link that you can share on your website, through an email, or IM. Once everyone has the link, it's time to collaborate! This could be a great way to work as partners or peer edit a document.

See how it works on "What to Do in Just a Few":