Thursday, December 17, 2009

Teaching A People's History is a wonderful site that a History or English teacher could use to enhance their lesson plans on a given topic.  Teaching A People's History has detailed lesson plans in PDF format for a wide range of topics and time periods that will push students of all abilities to critically analyze a given topic deeper and in meaningful ways that are not always apparent.  One unit I looked at was on the Potato Famine that decimated Ireland.  After presenting the facts and extended reading, it asked students to start to think about what were some of the problems that led to such a preventable disaster.  At the end of the unit it laid blame not just on the English landlords but the farmers as well as the church.  If you would like to learn more about the Howard Zinn Project of Teaching A People's History, please read the Frequently Asked Questions.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Skype An Author

Skype an author is a terrific site for classroom teachers, mainly at the elementary and middle school level, where teachers and students can do a video-conference interview session with the author. The first 15 to 20 minutes are usually free as it is a meet and greet session with the author, but longer sessions can be arranaged for a fee, usually for an hour interview is around $100 to 300 dollars and some are willing to work with Title One schools for a discount. They have a list of authors that you can search and see what they are willing to do. This may well be worth the price for a classroom teacher to bring an author alive to their students that without Skype or other technology could not be done 5 years ago.

If you have never used Skype it is a wonderful technology that allows people to communicate using voice, chat, or webcams (video-conference). Other technology can also do similar things, but Skype seems to be the most popular.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Wavy Graffiti

Graffiti Generator is a neat little online app that anyone can make their own graffiti. You have 7 different fonts to work with on making your logos. There is no embed ability that I discovered so you will have to take a screen shot and upload your photos to your website and embed them that way. Who has not wanted to be their own artist with such neat flair. Below is a sample of what I may use to spice up the banner across the top of my blog.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Choices Program

The Choices Program was shown to me by a social studies teacher I work with here in Fairbanks and found it to be a very useful website for teachers teaching current events. They have detailed lesson plans that include extended reading, video segment links, and additional websites for even more resources. They add about one new topic a month and have topics that focus on US and World Events. They also have other lesson plans that you can pay for if you want the complete lesson plan for a given topic, but they do give you a wealth of information without purchasing anything.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wordle - I have a dream

Wordle has gotten a lot of press over the past year, but like any new tech tool it takes the brain a few laps around the pool to figure out how to use the tool. So after playing with and reading how other teachers have been using this interesting tool in their instruction, I thought wouldn't it be great to see how some watershed moments of history look like in Wordle. So I choose to use the speech, "I Have A Dream" by Dr. King as my example. This and many more speeches are all can be found at a website called American Rhetoric It would be interesting to have kids think about what key words they found important and then compare it to what Wordle generated. If there are differences then discuss what they are and place in context some of the words that really pop out in the Wordle.

I picked up one trick that I found very useful, was to use ~ to combine words. If you notice the phrase "I Have a Dream" is together so to use this trick you would need to turn it into "I~Have~a~Dream" anywhere in the text that you choose to use. It does take a little more time, but for phrases that should be together it makes for a more powerful Wordle.

Wordle: I have a dream

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Tabbloid is a neat tool for creating a pdf of your rss feeds. So if you have a some great math rss feeds but have teachers that are not inclined to to subscribe to rss feeds this would be a great way to introduce them to a wealth of information without having to set up an rss reader. The layout looks great and will arrive to in your inbox on your email. You do not need an account so even your students could set up their own tabbloid from rss feeds for current events, topics they are interested in, and much much more. Give it a try and see if you like it.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

National Novel Writing Month

Even though the month of November is almost over, this site has a great challenge that could be used at any time for an English teacher. There are two sites, but they both have the same goal in mind, write the majority of a novel (50,000 words) in one month.
The first is the National Novel Writing Month also known as "NaNoWriMo".They provide you inspiration with help hints, forums to ask questions, and a Young Writers Program as well.
The Young Writers Program has a similar site as well but with it geared towards teenagers instead. They have games and suggestions on how to get rid of writers block.
This would be ambitious for any teacher to have their students write this much, but they could easily adapt this exercise across a semester or year.
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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I found three tools for use in the classroom from the NY Times "The Learning Network" today. "The Learning Network" is a blog by the NY times that reports on educational issues and provides some useful resources and tools.

The first is called News Quiz where they ask 5 questions about today's headlines. The NY Times include a link to the headlines of the day with the story's that the questions are based on. This is a Monday through Friday post that started on October 15, 2009. This would be a great warm up exercise for a social studies teacher or a reading teacher.

The second one is called "Fill-In" which is similar to a Mad Lib style exercise that is based on an article. It has been happening since October 23, 2009 but they had such an overwhelming positive response to it that they decided to make it a weekly event. They tie their "Fill-In" to a real news story and you can either have the students fill it in with their own words or you can give them a scrabmled list of words that were removed for the fill in the blank part of the story. The NY Times also gives you a link to the original story as well.

Finally, the NY Times provides a "Word of the Day" complete with pronucation and definitions. This is weekday post and they use words that most teenagers should learn. When you go to read more about the word they explain how often it has been used in NY Times articles and then try to use the word in context as well. They also have a link to a tool call the visual thesaurus as well.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Technology In The Classroom

Over the past 10 years technology, has a played an ever increasing role in how we teach and how students learn. Frontline, a PBS show takes an in-depth look at how technology is being used from use of cell phones, Internet censorship issues, what roles do paper books have, what are some of the drawbacks of the use of technology (the myth of multitasking), and many more topics. The web site is broken down into 4 large topics that are called concentration, games that teach, literacy, schools. I would spend some time exploring each category and watching the videos that seem interesting to you. It is a very up to date series of videos that takes a well balanced view towards the pros and cons of technology in schools and learning.

These videos could lead to some great discussions and writing prompts in an English classroom or tech integration class as these are the questions that we as educators are constantly dealing with.

Other Resources
USA Today: Future of Library - An article about the use of kindles in a library setting.
IS 339 - A public middle school in New York that was transformed using Google Apps.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

uMapper - More than Just Maps

After reading one of my favorite blogs Free Technology for Teachers and his post about uMapper. I started to realize that the geodart game could be used for more than just maps. You can upload any image that you want to and create ballons on your image and create a random study aid for your students or have your students create them for themselves or classmates. So I decided to do one for the first 20 elements for the periodic table and included pictures on two of them. You can do either text or pictures but not both. With text you can add hyperlinks to other web pages as well. Have fun creating games to use for your students to study for your next skills assessment.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Image Stamper - Stay Copyright Left

Image Stamper is a sweet tool for those that use flickr for images for presentations as it allows you quickly keep all the important information you need about a particular photo. What is the license of the photo, who the author is, when did you first use it in case the license changes, and you can tag your photo with important key words for searching your database of stamped photos for later.
For me this tool instantly became a favorite of mine as it allows me to quickly save pictures to database that is searchable and not saving each photo as it own bookmark. I put a lot of presentations together and this will save me a ton of time when it comes to finding, storing, saving all the important information that I need from the image.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

ABPI - Resources for Schools

ABPI - Resources for Schools: "ABPI Resources for Schools website provides curriculum related resources for use by teachers and their pupils. The resources have been developed by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry and many link topics studied in school to their application in industry and in research."

Sometimes it feels like the UK is far ahead of us when it comes to an online resources for students, parents and teachers to use to help learn material. Here is a wonderful website that has interactive animations on a variety of science and health topics.

Teachers there are a lot of links to explore as well that can be found under the title useful links to even more science based websites.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Teaching to the Test

I am really glad that we as district have not reached this point yet. School should be more than what you know at a snapshot in time. Test should just be a gauge of what you know and don't know yet and should enlighten the teacher, student, and parent what the student still needs to work on before the end of the year. This is where tests that are objective based instead of chapter based would help everyone learn how to become "learners" and not "cramers" when it comes to the skills that are necessary so that no student is "Left Behind". Parents may think that schools are just teaching to the test, but that is where we as teachers need to find ways to showcase what we are doing in schools is more than just wrote memorization. I will be working with teachers on displaying examples of students work online so that anyone can see how creative students are today.



I learned about this site by watching a video on Ted TV by David Bolinsky on animating a cell for Harvard's BioVisions website. The website BioVisions was highlighted by ABC news and is available for viewing at their website which you can click on above. It last eight minutes and brings a dull lifeless picture of the cell to life and will allow your students a better understanding of how a cell really works. By clicking on the name "David Bolinsky" it will take you TED's website where you can see viewers comments, see a transcript of the speech, and learn more about David as well. BioVisions also has some other resources as well for aspects besides just biology. I have not tried out any of the other resources as of yet.

Friday, October 9, 2009

FREE PowerPoint Twitter Tools

FREE PowerPoint Twitter Tools | SAP Web 2.0:

"There are currently three tools:
* PowerPoint Twitter ticker bar
* PowerPoint Twitter feedback slide
* PowerPoint Twitter voting"

This has some unique potential to make your PowerPoint presentations unique as you can embed live twitter feeds, have twitter feedback on one slide or even do a twitter poll. The best part of this is that it is currently free. The worst part of this is that is currently blocked most districts firewall due to social networking issues.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

More Google Products

More Google Products

Tips for creating documentaries

A list of resources and tips when shooting video for a documentary.

in reference to:

"This wiki is created to provide you with useful tips and resources to guide you through the production of documenting your school. If you have any questions or concerns, please refer to the discussion tab at the top of this page and leave us a comment. We'll be happy to get back to you as soon as we can."
- ALASmedia - ACOT 2 Documenting Wiki (view on Google Sidewiki)

World War 1 Resource

This site has some wonderful resources on the First World War. Photos, Poetry, Podcast, and much much more. Most, if not all of the material here are free to use since they should be in the public domain.

in reference to:

"The First World War Poetry Digital Archive is an online repository of over 7000 items of text, images, audio, and video for teaching, learning, and research.

The heart of the archive consists of collections of highly valued primary material from major poets of the period, including Wilfred Owen, Isaac Rosenberg, Robert Graves, Vera Brittain, and Edward Thomas. This is supplemented by a comprehensive range of multimedia artefacts from the Imperial War Museum, a separate archive of over 6,500 items contributed by the general public, and a set of specially developed educational resources.

Freely available to the public as well as the educational community, the First World War Poetry Digital Archive is a significant resource for studying the First World War and the literature it inspired."
- Welcome | First World War Poetry Digital Archive (view on Google Sidewiki)

Creating an E-Portfolios

In this day and age, students should have an online presence when they leave high school. However, most students online presence basically consist of social media sites such as Twitter, Myspace, Facebook, etc. But what if students actually created an online portfolio that trumpeted what they have created and accomplished during their high school and college days. This is a great starting point on how to create an E-Portfolio for students using Google tools.

in reference to: Official Google Docs Blog: Electronic Portfolios with Google Apps (view on Google Sidewiki)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Maps, Maps and More Maps

Ever stumble upon a great site and go wow, where was this a week ago? Well I think I found in this site on maps. It has old maps, new maps, online maps and interactive maps from the housing crisis to a long long time ago. The University of Texas Libraries have created a vast database of maps that are either public domain or have been given permission to use for educational purposes.

An Exmaple of these wonderful maps:

"The Public Schools Historical Atlas" by Charles Colbeck. Longmans, Green; New York; London; Bombay. 1905

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Next 5000 days of the Internet

I love finding the video gems that Ted Talks has online. This one is about the future of the internet and how it will affect our daily lives. I would recommend this to anyone to watch and have their minds think about where we have come in the first 5000 days of the internet and where we might go in the second 5000 days.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Wanna be an Air Traffic Controler?

When I was down at ASTE at the end of February, I attended a session hosted by the FAA on "First to the Future." It was mainly about a website called Smart Skies which leads to Line Up With Math where a teacher can have students practice being an air traffic controler while practicing math skills. They have worksheets, teacher guides, and an online simulator that is web based to put in to practice middle school math skills using the equaiton d=rt. It was a lot of fun trying to get the planes to land at their final destination without being to close to each other. There are also a couple of videos in Section A that are interesting to watch as well.

The Smart Skies also can take you to Fly By Math which is where you should start with your students as it goes over the basics of what you need to learn in able to be successful when doing the problems in Line Up With math.

Overall I would give this site a 5 out of 5 Stars for the amount of resources, overall appearence and usefulness of the website. This one is worth trying in your math classroom.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Family Tree Project

Ever wanted your students to do a family tree project? Ever wanted to do one yourself? Only know a little bit of your family tree but your family history buff knows it all? Well this web site lets your start your family tree and you can invite everyone in your family to help as well. It is easy to set up, easy to use, and you do not have to know it all. That is what your relatives are for! You can add pictures, important dates and lots more. Give it a whirl and enjoy.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Free Logo anyone??

logo design
This cool logo was created at as an experiment for Media Literacy class as they will have an assignment to create a logo for their own wiki page. It was simple to do and they had a vast assortment of icons to work from. They are free to use on web sites free of charge but they do embed a link on the icon to one of their websites so in a way you become free advertisment for them.