Tuesday, August 24, 2010

YouTube Tools for your Class

If you show YouTube videos in your class or use them for presentations here are some helpful YouTube tools.

SafeShare.TV  will remove distractions and offensive material found around YouTube videos.

Youtube video before SafeShare.TV
YouTube video after SafeShare.TV

TubeChop Allows you to select only the portion of the video you want to show.  TubeChop will create a new url and embed code for you to share the portion of the video you chopped.

KickYouTube  If you don't have access to YouTube at school, or you want to have a backup in case you don't have internet access then you need KickYouTube.  It gives you the ability to download a YouTube video to your computer.  Change youtube to kickyoutube in the url to download a video.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Current Events in the History Class.

Should we include current events in our history classes?  I think so, and I think we should do it in a prominent way.

It seems that we focus so much on historical content in our classes that we neglect to emphasis current events.  In most classes I have observed, current events are usually addressed maybe once a week.  Typically students are required to find a current event article they are interested in, write a summary or answer some generic questions about the article and bring the article and summary/questions to class so it can be discussed.  It's a good plan, but many times the discussion get pushed to the side so that we can get on with the business of covering content.

My goal this year is to include current events in my class on a regular bases so students will be more informed of what is going on in the world.  I hope to use the current events to make connections between the present and the past.

Here's a partial list of resources for Current Events.

The Learning Network: Teaching & Learning with the New York Times
Text, video and lesson plans are available.

The Week in Rap
A weeks worth of news rapped every week.  New episodes come out on Fridays.  The next new episode with be Sept 10.

CNN  Student News
CNN Student News is a ten-minute, commercial-free, daily news program for middle and high school students produced by the journalists and educators at CNN.

Channel One News
Short daily video of news headlines.

TwineTribune finds age appropriate news articles for Tweens (8-14) and provides them with the opportunity to comment on articles in a moderated web safe forum.  Does require registration.

Newseum: Today's Front Pages
The Newseum displays daily newspaper front pages in their original, unedited form. Some front pages may contain material that is objectionable to some visitors. Viewer discretion is advised.

Some of the descriptions were taken directly from the website linked.  The picture is from DRB62's photostream

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Technology Tools for Social Studies Teachers

I recently did a work shop for some of the Social Studies teachers in our School District. We had a whole day to share resources and talk about ways they could use some of these tools in their classroom.

Here is the list of some of the tools I shared.

Wordle, WordSift and Tagxedo are all tools for generating "word clouds".  Each tool works a little differently and each has their different advantages.  Most of the teachers at the work shop agreed that these tools could be used introductions to units, and as tools to help students see some of the main concepts in a text passage.

Some content resources that I shared were
Hippocampus, a multimedia resource for US Government, US History, Psychology, and Religion (also a great resource for Math and Science teachers).
Best of History Websites which is a portal to over 1200 history site.

Time Lines:  Tools for students or teachers to create online time lines.
Preceden is a nice too fpr creating timelines.  There is a cost of for the service, but for only $19 it is a great resource.  As a teacher you can get passwords for your students so they can create timelines.  They will not be able to change your password.

xtimeline is a free web-based resource for making and searching for time lines.  This is a really nice resource for students to easily make time lines.

Additional Resources:

MakeBeliefsComix is a great resource for creating comics.  Social Studies teachers are always having students create political cartoons and this is a nice resource for students to use.

Wallwisher:  This is a nice resource to use to have students share what they know about a topic. You can post sticky notes with images, video, links, and music, all without having to register for an account. 

Vocaroo:  Vocaroo is a simple to use web based audio recording.  Using a microphone students can easily record audio that can be shared via, url, email, or embed into a blog or website.

ShareTabs and Multiurl were two sites I shared that allows teachers or students to easily share mulitple webpages with one url address.  These sites make it convienent when there are multiple web pages you need to share.  Multiurl, in my opinion has an advantage over ShareTabs because with Multiurl you can go back and edit your pages.  Here is the link for the Multiurl I created for this workshop.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Thoughts from my Reading

I started reading Reinventing Project-Based Learning: Your Field Guide to Real-World Projects in the Digital Age by Suzie Boss and Jane Krauss.  I'm looking forward to learning new ideas and strategies as I read this book.

The idea of incorporating PBL is a little more exciting to me as the availability of tech resources continues to increase at our school.  I know its possible to have meaningfu PBL projects without the use of technology, but we all know it goes alittle better, and students are more excited and connected when they use technology.

In my position I see a good number of teachers using technology and feeling really good about the strategies they are incorporating.  When all they are doing is "merely layering technology onto the teaching methods.  . . learned . . . earlier."  The reality is this is what most teachers do when they "integrate" technology into their classes.  Even though this is not the preferred method of integration it is a necessary udents are more excited and connected when they use technology In my position I see a good number of teachers using technology and feeling really good about the strategies they are incorporating.  When all they are doing is "merely ayering technology onto the teaching methods.  . . learned a decade earlier."  The reality is this is what most teachers do when they "integrate" technology into their classes.  Even though this is not the preferred method of integration it is a necessary first step.  Teachers need to feel comfortable with technology before they can experiment with new methods and pedagogy.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

An Open Letter to Educators from Dan Brown

An interesting take on what has happened to education over the years.

Are we ready to make the changes necessary? Can education change and adapt to the new "revolution"?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Items I've Gleaned from my PLN 2/17

Things shared by members of my in Diigo, Twitter, and my RSS feed.

How to Use Google Reader: Video Series from @eHow.
-get professional tips and advice on using web-based aggregators for reading Atom or RSS feeds while you're online or offline in this free instructional video series.

Thinkature Real time collaboration for the Web. Similar to Etherpad.

Unprofound Offers Royalty-Free, Public Domain Photos 

Facebook Is the Web’s Ultimate Timesink How much time do you spend on Facebook?

ABCya!  Word Cloud generator.  Gives you the option to save to your computer and to print out the cloud.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Facebook and Educators...Be Careful!

I saw in the paper this morning; "Teacher may lose job after derogatory comments about her students on Facebook" and I thought not again. It seems as if teachers are always getting in trouble over Facebook.  I know that's not the case, but sometimes it just seems that way.  

How ironic the story came out on the day I was scheduled to talk with teachers about Facebook.  I thought with the story in the paper I might get more teachers to show up for the session, but that wasn't the case.  Still less than 10% of the teaching staff showed up, but that is a different blog post.  (All of theses sessions are voluntary.)

The plan for today's session was to have a conversation bout some of  the risk associated with being on Facebook as well as how to check and adjust their privacy settings.   The conversation was good; we discussed  the expectations the public seems to have about teachers' private lives and the pros and cons of friending students.  But mostly we talked about how to check privacy settings.

I was concerned. It seemed as if some teachers were becoming scared of Facebook and were talking about de-activating their sites; of course this is not what I intended.  I tried to help the teachers see the good points and that they should not be afraid to participate in social networking sites.  Educators just need to use common sense, and always remember...even if your site is private, always act as if it is public.

Resources I shared with the teachers.

8 Steps to Regain Control of your Facebook Privacy, and 8 MORE Steps to Regain Control of your Facebook Privacy  from makeuseof.com

A Teacher's Guide to Using Facebook by Bernadetta Rego, B. Com, B. Ed.

10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know  from allfacebook.com

Monday, February 15, 2010

Items I Gleaned from my PLN 2/15

Things shared by others in Diigo, Twitter, and my RSS feed.

Social Studies Skills Tutor:  This site provides tutorials to help students learn some of the skills required to be successful in a Social Studies class.

Digizen.org  A site from the United Kingdom focusing on helping teens understand the importance of good digital citizenship.  Site focuses on Social Networking sites and Cyberbullying. 

A Thin Line from MTV a site that helps with Cyberbullying, Sexting and other Digital Citizenship issues.

Pixton Do it Yourself Comics:  This site allows you to create comics.  This would be a good alternative for some projects.

Something to think about.  Don't Teach Your Kids this Stuff. Please?  From Scott McLeod's Dangerously Irrelevant Blog

SafeShare.tv The Safest Way To Share YouTube videos. SafeShare.TV removes distracting and offensive elements around YouTube videos, and it also allows you to crop videos before sharing them.

3 Types of Web-based Instructional Activites (w/examples) Posted by Amanda Kenuam at Learning Today blog.

5 Questions for Planning Successful Web-Based Activities Posted by Amanda Kenuam at Learning Today blog.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Creating an On-Line class. What is the best way?

I have been collaborating with a teacher in our district as she puts together an online Psychology course. We've had many discussions about the best way to put the course together that would keep the students actively engaged.We haven't really come up with an idea of the perfect on line class.  But what we both know is; putting together an on-line course is very time consuming.  Probably more so than in a face-to-face setting.

Some of the things she is doing in the online class to simulate what she did in Face-to Face class:
  • Uses Blackboard and Ning as platforms for course distribution
  • Uses i-Spring to add audio to her notes.
  • Uses Hippocampus and YouTube for related videos
  • Collaborative work using EtherPad
  • Having the students Blog
  • Using Adobe Connect to work with students
With all of this technology she still doesn't feel like the class is what it could be if she was there with them.

My questions:  Can you create an online class that is truly engaging, interactive and has the ability to capture the learners attention?  Can we create this in a face to face class?

I was re-watching the video below and made me think.  The online classes presented now to students (at least the ones I am seeing)  are like the regular escalator.  They get the job done but they are just not that exciting.  What I think is possible is an online class that is engaging and interactive like the stairs on the left.  It will require more work by both the educator as well as the learner.  And it is going to require some good technology.

Give me some feedback on what you think makes a good online class.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Word Clouds and Vocabulary Tools

I have recently been playing around with some tools looking at text and words. Here's a Google Presentation on three great resources that can be helpful to students. Wordle, WordSift, Word It Out and EasyDefine.