Monthly Archives: December 2006

Project 365: Take a Photo a Day

Photojojo, one of my favorite DIY sites, has a great post on taking a photo a day for a year. Imagine getting your students to snap shots (maybe around a common theme, maybe without any boundaries) and post them to a blog or flickr. This raw material could be used for discussion or as writing prompts, web publishing lessons or [insert your idea here--serious].

I’m inspired and plan to take on the challenge–using only my camera phone (low rez 4 life!).

via Lifehacker offers free copies of An Inconvenient Truth to Educators


Notice: This is not a politically motivated post. I repeat, I am not pushing an agenda., a community of film-loving activists, is offering up 50,000 copies of An Inconvenient Truth to educators. Whether you agree with Mr. Gore’s assessment of climate change or not, the film is definitely a discussion starter. Plus it’s free, so if you can’t stand the message, you won’t feel bad about blowing your allowance on classroom materials, again.

via BoingBoing

The Start of a Swivel Project w/ Google Docs Mixed In

Atomic Radius and Electronegativity by Element

So I worked with a great ITRT and former science teacher, Gaynell Lyman, to look at ways we might use both Swivel and the googlelookup function in google spreadsheets to see what we could do to save time and get to the actual learning.


We wanted students to be able to see how various factors changed as you move across the periodic table and how they interrelate. The goal was also to have them look at the charts and manipulate them to figure out these concepts on their own.

The idea was not to get them to look up data from a chart and re-write it in another chart so we opted to try using google’s lookup function. It performed pretty well but wouldn’t look up some of the values we initially started with and with some of the others it opted for slightly different formats for the same concept (like 185 mu or mu 185). A minor issue but one to look for.
What we did was list the elements in column A, in column B we did a googlelookup of atomic radius with the formula =googlelookup(A2,”atomic radius” and then a similar formula to get the data for electronegativity. We were hoping to get a bit more data but the lookup function, while neat, is still pretty limited.

So, we then fiddled with the data a bit and then exported it as a CSV file (Swivel doesn’t quite deal with other formats too well but there’s some neat options they’re working on).

The import into Dabble was easy.  Then it takes care of chart generation all by itelf.  It makes all kinds of charts automatically.   I liked the extra touches- you can pick a flickr photo to associate with your data and it auto tags your data with a number of keywords which you can then add to or remove.

The Future?
What I’d like to do in the future is use this for collaborative projects, the kind of project you’d like to do but having everyone do each step would take too long.  You could set up teams within the class (or by classes, or in different schools).  Each team would complete related experiments so that all the data would be relevant to each group.  They’d upload their data to Swivel and then use the accumulated data to complete the project.
Swivel is neat because it allows you to easily layer different graphs in order to compare the information.  The power in having students do this is multiplied because they have to figure out what data needs to be compared and then how that data should best be presented to get the information they need.

I’m looking into doing some county wide surveys so that students can use the data to explore statistics.

Try Swivel.  I think you’ll be impressed and I think it’ll get you thinking.

Wii and Weather

The Wii now uses current weather conditions for regions to control the weather in certain games. I’m just thinking of all the cool things that you could do with games that incorporate real data on the fly. Want to create virtual labs that use real data being generated in space?
Makes you wonder how long education can continue to ignore the power and possibilities inherent in these gaming platforms. My goal is to never again complain about education.  It’s up to me to change things.  What I should have asked is how am I going to start using gaming platforms?  How am I go to convince teachers around me to start using them?  It’s also a pretty powerful argument for focusing on creating data that can easily be reused by multiple applications.
via Digg