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Clarence Fisher on Classroom Studios

Clarence Fisher of Remote Access has been kind enough to work through some thoughts on creating a classroom studio on his blog. I find his insights and questions helpful as I try to more fully realize my goal of making my classroom more construtivist and less legalistic. I can’t help but pine for what he is attempting as I look ahead toward two major standardized assessments this year. While I wish for more freedom to give my students space to explore their interests and see the power of language, my time is being chipped away to make standard-based assessments, test and quizzes that mirror the state assessments, and lessons that teach a narrow set of concepts that every eighth grade student must have minimal mastery (lord, is that an oxymoron or what?!). Sometimes I feel like Moses as I look at all the amazing potential technology has to frame real learning (skills and desire as opposed to lists of concepts, etc.). Moses asked god to let him see the promise land even though he knew he would never step foot in it. I look at the “put out the fire” mentality of education today and get impatient and frustrated. A quick pedagogical revolution (another oxymoron) could unleash a time of learning not seen since The Enlightenment, yet I sit on […]

Calc5 and iJot: Online Utilities with Classroom Potential

I remember the expectation in my high school pre-calculus class was a graphing calculator–which cost more than I was willing (or able) to spend. Enter calc5: a free and online graphing calculator. Simply punch in your equation and hit “OK”. calc5 delivers a graphic representation of that equation. Have your students take a screen shot of it as part of a set of notes, or encourage them to tape it to their lockers (Hey, I’m a geek and proud of it). Honestly, I can’t remember what I would use this for, but I do remember feeling second class for not having a “state of the art” calculator in class. This is yet another example of using technology to level the playing field. Gives me warm fuzzies! via Lifehacker iJot lets you enter notes and then organize them into an outline. These notes can then be saved and/or shared with others. Might be a useful tool for the organization-challenged student, or could be used in a groupwork/collaborative setting. via Lifehacker

“Thumb Drive” Drive

As I consider upgrading my thumb drive from 128Mb to (dare I say) a gig or more, I thought this was a worthy cause for my old drive. The Non-Profit Inveneo is collecting thumb drives to distribute through their work in Africa. If you have a drive that has been buried in your desk organizer because your work has outgrown its capacity, consider sending it along. via boingboing

Perfect Present for the Teacher in Your Life

From Threadless Finally, proof the dog did eat your homework. Threadless is also a great site for puns and other hooks for a variety of subjects if you’re willing to look- and who wouldn’t have fun looking? Studying communism? Geometry?

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Swivel- YouTube for Data (well as close as data’s likely to get anyway)

This is a perfect tool for teachers. Upload your own data sets and correlate away. You can now analyze your data and the data uploaded by other site members (currently all data is public). Once you’ve got things set up, Swivel then creates the html to allow you to easily embed different flavors of the graph in your blog or web site (that’s one of their’s above- and it allows a lot of customization). It makes data look good and it’s really easy to embed in blogs or webpages. The possible uses in History, English, Science and Math are pretty obvious. But it’d also be a great way to communicate with parents at a school or district level. Testing data will be public anyway so you might as well make it look good and the ability to compare different data sets visually and to share them is simply amazing. Between this site and DabbleDB I see it becoming a lot easier for teachers to really integrate powerful data analyzation and manipulation into the day to day operation of their classrooms. via TechCrunch

Using Bollywood Clips to Illustrate Conflict

I used BombayTV last year to get students to illustrate the major and minor conflicts in Richard III. It could be applied to any story you are working with–whether literature or history. Actually, I imagine you could use this for math and science with a little creativity. The student’s loved it.

MobZombies (I swear it’s educational)

MobZombies The twist is that a player’s physical position controls the position of their zombie-world avatar, forcing the player to actually move around the real world to succeed in the game.The virtual zombie-world is a simple environment — the game’s complexity comes from players having to negotiate real-world objects in order to avoid the zombies and stay alive. The scoring system is simple: the longer you can stay alive, the higher your score. Of course, the longer you stick around, the more zombies you’ll encounter. I couldn’t resist this one- What a great game for PE not to mention fighting the obesity epidemic! It’s ideas like this that need to be applied to education. Simple, interactive and fun. Now picture being able to solve math problems by running to different numbers or by making physical diagrams or even adding a physical/competition dimension to miserable multiple choice questions. -Only the first 8 people to sprint to the virtual head of John Smith move on to the next level. Am I crazy or does this sound like a lot of fun? via Boingboing

Google Earth File on the Colonies

I am still feeling my way around using Google Earth in the classroom. I want to make it more than a 3d worksheet. I think the key is making the students responsible for creating the files but I think in order to do that they need examples and exposure the program and how to use it on a more basic level. That is what this file is supposed to provide. This KMZ file covers SOLs USI 5 (for you non-Virginians that’s the early colonies in North America and some of their climate/economy/settlement rationales/religion). Download the file here. In the end I’d like to see students using it as an interactive hyper-linked notebook. If the teacher gave them a KMZ file at the start of the year and it was divided into folders based on SOLs then that’d get the organization started and the students could be responsible for adding the place marks, additional information and links out to relevant websites. I would like an internal search feature that scanned the info window text (which should be easy for Google) and I think it’d be a complete package for certain content.

Behavior Modificaton Plan (with style!)

Looking for a way to refocus your students without having to stop class to speak to them? Want to maintain your street cred as a hip “techno teacher”? Well, check out the Warning Label Generator. You choose the label style, icon, and message, and the generator spits out a jpg. Save it, copy it, laminate it, drop it like it’s hot on the desk of that student who doesn’t seem to get the concept of an internal monologue.

“Hop the Pond” for a great illustration

I happened upon this BBC site while tutoring a student last year, and I used it this year in my classes with great success. It’s an interactive activity that shows the student how adjectives and adverbs beef up a simple sentence and change the image the sentence places in our heads. My students loved it, and they really started to understand how descriptive details are often well placed adjectives and adverbs.