Every year my seventh graders create movies about the monuments and memorials that they’re going to visit while touring Washington, DC. I, ahem, like to call them the “Monumentaries” (insert groan here). The students do their research and then create a Keynote presentation teaching others about the inspiration for the monument and process of creating and building it. They then turn the slide show into a self-running presentation by adding a voiceover with timing and background music. Then we export it as a movie. It’s a pretty seamless and glitch-proof way to make a movie (they do a lot with iMovie in 8th grade so we focus on presentation software in 7th).
In past years I’ve burned the movies onto DVDs so the kids can watch them while on the bus, but since we allowed the students to bring their cellphones on the trip this year we chose to put them on YouTube. I created QR codes by monument or memorial, so the students can easily scan the QR code to see the movie at the appropriate location.
Easy, peasy – QR codes in DC!
Need some storage on “the cloud?” Check out Copy – you get 15 gb (that’s 15 GIGABYTES!) for free and more if you refer others. It’s a great way to share photos and more with friends, family and colleagues.
Timelapse is an amazing resource featuring three decades of satellite photography. Think there’s no climate change? Check out the pictures that show otherwise.
Classcharts is a free resource to create seating charts based on behavior criteria. There are some cool features including the ability to collaborate with colleagues and to note positive and negative behaviors.
Professional development seems to be getting a lot of attention these days. Edsurge is on a mission to understand the field of professional development for educators (harder than it sounds) and to share their findings. They’ve started the conversation here.
The Digital Public Library of America is a brand new website that “…strives to contain the full breadth of human expression, from the written word, to works of art and culture, to records of America’s heritage, to the efforts and data of science.” No small feat! You can do a search, browse through exhibitions, or explore by place or timeline.
Is reading the same when you’re using a book or a screen? Research says it’s not! Want to know which one wins? Check out the article in Scientific American.
Fuel The Brain is an online resource for games, interactives and printables for elementary math, science and language arts. The website also features a mini book creator which allows your students to create their own mini books with images and different text styles and then download and print them. Cutest thing ever!
ARKive is a charity that endeavors to create “an awe-inspiring record of life on Earth.” Their website presents information about the world’s endangered animals, plants and fungi and why we should protect them. There is also a section for teachers to get free resources that is categorized by age (of the students, not the teacher). There are also images on the site that you can use in your own classroom materials (and you know how I love when we use images with permission!).
Some of us were fortunate enough to attend EdJEWcon in Jacksonville, Florida this week. To learn more about this unique conference, visit their website. If you’ve got some time, watch Chris Lehmann’s keynote “Creating the Schools We Need.” Chris is the founding principal of Philadelphia’s Science Leadership Academy.
One of the highlights of EdJEWcon was watching middle school students sitting in the front of the room backchanneling during the closing keynote. Backchanneling is a fancy term for using technology to, well, “discuss amongst yourselves.” Some colleagues have been experimenting with their fifth graders using online resources to discuss what they’re reading. One of the websites we like for backchanneling is Today’s Meet. For some ideas on ways that you can use backchanneling in the classroom, check out this article.
Monday morning our 7th graders will be embarking on the annual 7th grade trip to Washington DC. To prepare for the trip, they researched the monuments and memorials they’ll be seeing and created short films to teach others what they learned. The films are on YouTube and our students will be able to view them while touring by using their smartphones on the trip. I created QR codes for the films’ URLs so our travelers can easily navigate to the films. We have lots of teachers using QR codes these days (and saw evidence of that at the Gottlieb school in Jacksonville, too!). Here’s some great information about QR codes in the classroom.
“Placing a list of “have to’s” at the top of a rubric is like building a wall at the bottom of a slide.” This intriguing quote is from a thought-provoking blog post on rethinking rubrics. Read more here.
Here’s a nice lesson for using photos to inspire student writing. A terrific online resource for activities like this is PicLits .
Have you (or your students) really thought about the digital footprints you’re leaving behind? Digital Dossier is a video timeline of a fictional character’s digital lifespan:
“… the mindset of a teaching staff devoted to giving students time for creation and reflection…” What a great quote from a fascinating article on The Smart Way to use iPads in Education! It’s not about the apps, folks!
Did you know that Popular Science magazine has been around for 140 years? Whoa! And…did you know that you could peruse each and every issue that was published over those 140 years? Incredible, right? You can browse issues, search for terms, or use an awesome tool to graphically plot the occurrence of a term throughout the years.
20th vs. 21st century learning…it’s a topic that often comes up at conferences. Here’s a nifty graphic that really gets to the heart of how education has changed from last century to this one.
We are Teachers has a nice post with some creative ideas for end-of-year assignments.
I thought I’d pass along this thought-provoking article about a principal who decided that academics should take a back seat to social/emotional learning. Very, very interesting.
Here’s another site with an abundance of math videos and mini-lessons, searchable by topic.
The Kid Should See This is a curated collection of videos that, well, kids should see. The site is maintained by a mom and her two kids and is browsable by topic. It’s a fun resource if you’re looking for a video to illustrate a topic.
Ever feel like you want to be able to text your students? We know they don’t really check email any more, but it’s not like you’re going to text each and every one of them individually. First of all, you don’t have that kind of time, and secondly, you don’t really want to have a texting relationship with your students! The solution is a free subscription to Remind 101. It couldn’t be easier: set up your free account, and create your class. Have your students text their information (or their parents’) to the phone number provided…and, like magic, you’ll be able to text them whenever you want to remind them to study for a test, turn in an assignment, etc. What’s even better is that the product is the brainchild of SSDS alum Brett Kopf, who surprised me when a colleague and I were at the ISTE conference in San Diego this past June. Great kid…great idea – we’re testing it with fourth graders!
Venerable Jewish songster Craig Taubman is giving away some more music. You can download his acoustic Shabbat album FREE!
I totally love the Library of Congress! We should – we pay for it… Check out their guide to using Primary Sources. It includes a lovely analysis tool as well.
How would you like Albert Einstein to read to you? REALLY! You can hear Einstein’s 1941 radio address on “The Common Language of Science.”
The Anti-Defamation League just put out an inspirational video “Imagine a World Without Hate.” Do not watch without a box of tissues handy!
Finally, speaking of videos… if you’re looking for a Passover video to liven your holiday preparations, check these out:
The Maccabeats‘ take on Les Mis and Pesach:
Muppets’ Matzah in the House:
And, from Aish – if today’s media told the Passover story:
Chag Pesach Sameach!
Animoto’s got educator accounts again! If you haven’t used it before, Animoto is an awesome website where you can upload a bunch of photos, choose your background music, and it makes a great slide show for you. They had discontinued educator accounts for a while…but they’re back. As an educator, you can get a free PRO account, which allows you to create videos longer than 30 seconds.
I don’t know about you, but I think these awesome NASA Pod transports look an awful lot like what George Jetson used (oy… I am dating myself). Tel Aviv is looking to become the first city where you can zoom around in some ultra cool two-person vehicles.
The World Digital Library is a collection of primary materials from all over the world. There are maps, newspapers photographs, illustrations and more.
Remember flash cards? There are a lot of online sites to create and review flash cards. Check out StudyStack, where you can use flash cards created by others or create your own.
I love this site! Create text messages as if they were sent by fictional characters. So fun! Text messages can be saved for future editing, downloading or embedding in other sites.
Every teacher knows that maintaining a classroom library can be a chore. Book Retriever, an iOS app, promises to make that job easier. The $.99 app uses the book’s ISBN code to generate a listing, keeps track of which students have “checked out” which books, and can even email overdue reminders.
If you’re using Croak.it please complete this survey to help improve the product. It’s nice when the developers care what we teachers think!
I have a meeting Monday to talk about what new stuff we want to buy for next year. I’ve been thinking about this for quite some time. We did a needs (really a wants) survey with the staff earlier this year and we had a lot of teachers ask for interactive white boards or iPad carts. I have one colleague, who, even though she houses an iPad cart, is lobbying heavily for her own that she doesn’t ever have to share. If we bought everything people asked for (not including repairing, replacing or upgrading, including upgrading our OS including servers), it would be pretty close to 200K. That’s a lot of money.
I will admit that I work for a school that really wants to remain cutting edge. In fact, I’ve been known to admit that I’ve never had a reasonable technology request denied.
That’s why I’m recommending that we buy very little of what my colleagues want for next year.
In my fifteen years of working with ed tech, I’ve never heard anyone say “I wish we’d bought x a year earlier.”
I’ve never said it. Have you?
I don’t want to buy classroom carts. I don’t want to jump into one-to-one.
Right now we have thirteen carts of devices that are distributed throughout the building, mostly in classrooms, and two labs. That’s plenty for our school judging from the data (which, admittedly, isn’t completely accurate because I don’t think people who house carts are really good at reserving them). I realize sharing can be a pain, but I’m not seeing much of a justification for buying more stuff. Learn how to share, people.
What I want is to plan, share outcomes and reflect. The stuff money can’t buy.
I want to meet regularly with the teachers who have IWBs and figure out how they’re using them and how they want to use them. I REALLY don’t want to buy more without seeing where they’re making a difference NOW.
I want to meet with the teachers who want to use iPads in their classrooms and figure out how they want to use them for authentic learning experiences, not just for the bells and whistles.
Most of all, I want to figure out how we determine if these awesome tools are, well, actually doing anything other than increase student (and, maybe, teacher) engagement. You know…are the kids learning more because they’re swiping, not typing? I want systematic, allocated time for planning and reflection. I’m no fan of all data all the time, but I would like to figure out how we’ll measure success.
I do want to buy every teacher an iPad for his or own use in and out of the classroom. Some of them haven’t even held tablets yet. I want to spend next year exploring them with the staff – using them for our own productivity and sharing, modeling their use at faculty meetings and professional development.
Then, once we’ve taken a full school year to explore how we’re using them, I’ll talk about putting more into our kids’ hands.
We shall see.
PowToon is a great way to create an animation – whether you’re creating one for your class or if you’d like a great web-based tool for your students to create one. Sign up for your free account! Here’s how one teacher used it to introduce a new unit to her class:
I’m a big fan of PBS.org’s website. I especially like their timeline on 200 years of literary history of The American Novel
Isn’t it fascinating how people interact with screens? Think of all the screens we stare at: TV, computer, iPad, iPhone… British artist Robbie Cooper wants to document our faces while immersed in screen interaction. He’s got a new project that he’s trying to get funded (using the awesome crowdfunding resource Kickstarter) called The Immersion Project. It will be easy to participate – agree to have your computer webcam take a photo every couple minutes while you’re playing a game or otherwise entranced by technology. Robbie envisions a website, exhibition, book and documentary on the topic. Can you imagine a display of our students’ faces while they’re engaged in tech?
I know many of you are already using and loving Socrative as a way to have your students electronically answer quizzes. Another resource is InfuseLearning. It’s free and your students can use it with any Internet-connected device. You set up a classroom and your students join – it’s as simple as that! You can run quizzes, have your students complete exit slips, or you can push a web link out to your students’ devices. I love it!
My colleague Carol and Lynn’s discovery projects have sixth graders traveling all over the web to research and present some fascinating information! In particular, some of their students have really fallen in love with Prezi to organize and present their projects. Kids like it cause it’s slick and, since it’s in the cloud, they can work on their presentations at school or at home. I know I’ve mentioned Prezi before, but if you haven’t checked it out in a while, pop over there – they’ve changed the interface quite a bit and made it much easier to use (and now it feels much more like PowerPoint or Keynote, which makes it especially attractive to our students).
Sometimes, especially this time of year, we get so stressed out trying to get so many things accomplished that we forget one of the things we teachers tend to value: creativity. We Are Teachers has a lovely article on 40 ways to integrate creativity into your lessons. Mason jar dioramas – I love it!
Finally…you are aware, aren’t you, that Pesach is just around the corner? Check out a crowdsourced resource on creative seders and other resources that can enrich your Pesach celebration. And feel free to add anything you like to the Google doc!