Participate.net 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. Participate.net, 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

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

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. Concept 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. Steps 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 […]

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.Â  It’s up to me to change things.Â  What I should have asked is how am I going to start using gaming platforms?Â  How am I go to convince teachers around me to start using them?Â  It’s also a pretty powerful argument for focusing on creating data that can easily be reused by multiple applications. via Digg

Time Line and EditGrid

EDIT- What I should have said was check out the SIMILE Time Line project and their Exhibit project on US Presidents. They both show some interesting interactive ways to check out data. If you’re interested in my at least semi-geeky pursuit of an easy way to generate the XML for the timeline read on at your own risk. Real geeks will probably just be annoyed at my ignornace. ______________________________________________________________ My interest in the SIMILE time line project was peaked by this post on TuttleSVC. It is by far the best time line option I’ve seen.Â  I encourage you to check it out even if you have no intention of trying to create your own versions.Â  The Presidential Exhibit example is also awesome and well worth checking out.Â  It works in google maps and the Time Line feature as well as a variety of optional searches based on lots of data. Positives interactive lower level overview view (I know that sounds awkward) is a good idea you can embed images and links in the pop up windows (like google earth/maps) so the time line can become a pretty effective index for a historical website that helps teach concepts while you navigate Negatives difficulty for teachers/students to create their own content css knowledge is needed for more advanced formatting I played around […]

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MacHeist Â» 10 amazing Mac programs \$49

MacHeist Â» Bundle Purchase a bundle of 10 award-winning Mac apps for just \$49 (over 85% off) and have 25% donated to a charity of your choice. If you’ve got a Mac there is some great software in this deal plus the karma points for charity. Delicious Library (I’ve always wanted this one- I even tried to get my library to use it instead of our district database) and NewsFire.Â  I’m also excited to try FotoMagico (really interesting looking presentation software) and iClip4. It’s going to be one of my Christmas presents.

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VIXY- Convert YouTube Videos to Many Formats

Jim and myself have often found great clips on YouTube or other online video sites but that site is blocked by our school filter. It was a pain to capture these videos and covert them but no longer. . . Vixy will allow you to freely convert the flash video into a number of other formats including video iPod compatible. Just throw in the URL and presto chango. Another neat option is the ability to choose an audio only version as an export. I have done this in the past the hard way with TED talks (highly recommended if you don’t checked them out) since I am too poor to afford a new video iPod. Via Net@Night -Edit 12-19 Another option to get YouTube videos Like most teachers, I have to contend with the filtering of You Tube at work. The solution is fairly simple, just follow the download link at the top of the You Tube page to get the video, and rename the downloaded file with a .flv extension. Next, get the free FLV Player from here and be grateful to Martijn de Visser for this great little application (which you obviously need to install secretly in school!) from Digital Geography

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Communication- Evidence the World is Changing

I wrote a post about Swivel the other day (a really interesting data sharing/graphing site) at about 11:40 at night. By the next morning I had two comments from the co-founders (Mr. Dimov and Mr. Mulloy). To me this demonstrates how the world has fundamentally changed. It really is about conversation and the people who take the time and have the skill to communicate are going to succeed. These are the skills our students will need. I have to feel that Swivel will do very well. These guys get it.

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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