Monday, November 30, 2009

Edublog Awards 2009 - My nominations

The Edublog Awards 2009 are open for nominations.

These are my nominations:

Best individual blog -
Best individual tweeter - @web20classroom
Best resource sharing blog -

Digital Literacy Resource

Digital Literacy is an animated, interactive web site that teaches students about digital literacy, safe use of the internet and more. The site is hosted by the Northwest Learning Grid.

The site is beautifully designed with swirling graphics and minimal menus. It starts by asking the student to select one thing that they do on the internet. It then brings the student to a quiz about using the internet for that task.

The quiz asks some really good questions about the internet and it's usage for the task it selected. The site then "grades" the quiz with some feedback and brings the student to a menu of tutorials about internet use. Some of the tutorials go over analyzing web sites and blogs for relevancy, accuracy, and objectiveness.

I found the site to be fun and easy to use with some great information for students.

GetBodySmart - Human A&P

GetBodySmart is an interactive web site that helps students learn about human anatomy and physiology. It has interactive flash animations, tutorials, and quizzes. It is very easy to use and navigate and is well designed with very good graphics.

The content is explained well and would be appropriate for high school or beyond.

I would recommend this to any human biology, anatomy and physiology, EMS or medical class students.

AP Physics Review Site

Learn AP Physics is a great web site for AP Physics students. The site has example problems, topic reviews, problem solving tips, and much more. Students can also sign up to receive a practice problem emailed to them every day and solutions are provided. There are separate sections for AP Physics B (algebra based) and AP Physics C (calculus based).

This site is a "must-use" for AP Physics students.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Discovery Box

Discovery Box is a tool to collect items in a virtual box. The purpose is to provide you the "tools to build up an argument or description of an event, person, or historical period". It is literally a virtual box with different compartments that you can use to sort items that you need for your argument, description, or project. You can display text, videos, audio, links, and more in your box and use different compartments of the box to organize things by different topics.

There are teacher resources, case studies of it in use, and a gallery of Discovery boxes that you can view.

I see it as a tool for students to use when working on a project to collect different resources and information in one place so that they can sort and organize it.

The boxes can be displayed as a project, or the materials gathered can be used in a different presentation format.

(Discovery box is not part of Discovery Education or Discovery Communications)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Creating a Personal Learning Network (PLN)

What is a PLN? A PLN is a way for you to make connections and share ideas and resources. You have one with colleagues that you work with. You can also have one online where you can reach and connect with educators from around the state, country, and world. Talk about a great resource!

Quotes about PLN's:
@kylepace:Because of this PLN,not only do I grow professionally, but I have made professional connections and friendships around the world
@wmchamberlain: #edchat a PLN lets us access the best of the best, not just someone close by. "Dont I deserve the best?" Gaston
@djainslie: My PLN opened the world to me 'the world is open'
@JasonFlom: PLN's flatten the world, removing barriers to collaboration, corroboration, and general camaraderie.
@wmchamberlain: #edchat a pln gives me hundreds of intelligent people to solve my problem. Whats not to love?
@cybraryman1: A PLN is a collection of interconnected minds that share ideas and information.

Functions of a PLN: Connect - Collaborate - Contribute

Benefits of a PLN: Teachers become: Aware, Connected, Empowered, Confident, LEARNERS!
(oh, and everything listed here is FREE!)

How to get started with a PLN:
  • Sign up for an account with one of the resources. Start looking around and find people and groups with the same interests as you.
  • Ning-Classroom 2.0, Discovery Educator Network, PBS Teacher Connect and Google Educators Forum are great places to start.
  • With Twitter - follow someone you know, like me (@daveandcori) and see who they follow.
Some other educators to follow on Twitter: @rmbyrne, @web20classroom.
  • Search for blogs and web sites that cover topics you are interested in and subscribe to them via email or RSS feed. See who they follow and blogs they subscribe to also.

Resources for PLN:
Classroom 2.0 - - Great site for 21st Century Learning
  • iGoogle - - custom, personalized start page
    • Google Reader - - read RSS feeds - embed in iGoogle
    • Twitter - via Twitter Gadget (works in school) - embed in iGoogle

EduBlog Awards 2009 - Nominations are open

The Edublog Awards 2009 are open for nominations.

This is your chance to nominate your favorite educational blogs for this great honor.

You can nominate in as many, or as few, categories as you want.
Categories include:

Best individual blog
Best individual tweeter
Best group blog
Best new blog
Best class blog
Best student blog
Best resource sharing blog
Most influential blog post
Most influential tweet / series of tweets / tweet based discussion
Best teacher blog
Best librarian / library blog
Best educational tech support blog
Best elearning / corporate education blog
Best educational use of audio
Best educational use of video / visual
Best educational wiki
Best educational use of a social networking service
Best educational use of a virtual world
Lifetime achievement

Vote now!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Google Tools for Schools

Google Tools for Schools is a great web site created by Jennifer Dorman (using Google Sites) that has a tremendous amount of information, links, and resources for teachers who want to use Google's applications in their classroom.

There are tutorials, links to videos, downloadable information and more available for most of Google's applications that are useful in the classroom. I have added it as a resource to my professional development sessions on Google for Educators.

How technology can help improve education.

Improving education is a huge issue (and always has been). Test scores, our perceived performance against other countries, and other factors have pushed education to the forefront of national politics, right behind healthcare reform. Technology can be used to improve teaching and learning and help our students be successful.

While smaller schools and class sizes are always desired, technology can not do that physically. However, technology can be a “force multiplier” for the teacher. Instead of the teacher being the only source of help in a classroom, students can access web sites, online tutorials, and more to assist them. Education doesn’t stop at the end of the school day because students have access to teachers, resources, and assignments via the web and access these resources at any time. Students can also get help and tutoring at any time, whether from the teacher via email or online collaboration, or from a help web site.

Parental involvement is another factor that can increase student achievement. Most parents these days have extremely busy schedules, work different hours, and can’t always help their child with homework or come to school for conferences. Technology can help. Parents can go to a class website and see what their child is working on, they can contact teachers via email and web sites, and they can even check their child’s attendance and grades through online systems. They can also talk to their children from work via email and instant messaging.

Inquiry based projects are another way to get students to think rather than memorize. These group projects also help students build important skills such as communications, team work, critical thinking and problem solving. Technology can help with these projects and skills. Students can create things such as web sites, blogs, and multimedia presentations as part of their project. They can use the web for research and as a resource. They can connect with students at other schools and do collaborative work with them. They also learn technology skills while doing these projects.

Money is always an issue in education and technology can help. Virtual field trips, electronic forms instead of paper, email instead of printed memo’s, virtual labs, electronic textbooks, and the thousands of free online resources can all save schools money and give students excellent educational experiences.

Teachers can use technology to find resources and attend virtual professional development seminars and conferences (most are free). They can also create personal learning networks (PLN) with Ning, Twitter, and other resources to find and share ideas and resources, and get support from their colleagues. Technology can give teachers and students great resources, new opportunities for learning, ways to collaborate and create, and save money.

Technology is a very powerful tool for education.

Some resources that can help:

Share your ideas on how technology can help improve teaching and learning.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Google Chrome OS

Google just announced Google Chrome OS (although most people knew it was coming).

Google Chrome OS is a new operating system that Google is creating based on it's Chrome Web Browser.

The operating system will not store anything on the computer you are using. Everything, including applications, will be hosted on Google's servers ("in the cloud"). The operating system boots up in less than 10 seconds (very impressive!) and within another 5-10 seconds you are online and working. The OS basically runs everything through the Chrome web browser.

Every time you boot up your computer, the OS connects with Google's system and does a self check. If it finds any problems or issues, it will fix it with a reload. That is part of the security of Chrome OS. The other part of the security is that if you loose your computer, or someone steals it, they can't access your data with out your account information and password. There is no data on the computer itself. (This part is very nice considering how many companies lose important data, including customer personal information, when employee laptops are lost or stolen.)

My first impressions from the video of the launch are impressive. I see Chrome OS as the perfect OS for netbooks - it doesn't need much for memory on the computer, boats at warp speed, and still allows you do to your work. I already use mostly cloud based apps (Google Docs, Gmail, Google Calendar, Evernote, Engrade) so having an operating system like this on a netbook is great. This is not for everyone though. If you need to do work on computer based files, this is not for you.

Below, you can see a screen shot of Chrome OS. Notice how it runs in Chrome Browser. In the upper right corner you can see the time and battery level indicator. All the applications are tabs in the browser. The Chrome OS notepad is also shown on the right side.

Below is a shot of some of the applications for Chrome OS. They are all web based applications. Some of the apps listed: Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, Google Reader, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Pandera, Picasa Web, YouTube, Hulu, Contacts, ToDo list, Calculator, Facebook, Twitter, and a "get more" link.

Overall, I would say that Google Chrome OS, which should be available next year, will be a great OS for people using netbooks and who work with web-based applications.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Discovery News

Discovery Networks has a great news site, Discovery News. The site has news articles and resources on Earth, Space, Science, Tech, Animals, and much more.

Like most Discovery products, it is well done and easy to find things. There is all kinds of breaking news, new discoveries, social issues, videos, discussions, and more.

This a great site to use with science students as a resource, or as a way to get discussions on different topics started.

Copyright Advisory Network

The Copyright Advisory Network is a great resource when you need help with copyright issues.
The site has articles, copyright tools, advice, and more to help you deal with copyright issues and sort through how to deal with different items in a scholarly setting.

Copyright issues and Fair use are often misunderstood by teachers and students and this site can help explain things in an easy to understand way.

For more copyright resources:

Egiate - College search and info

Egiate is a site that takes college search a little further. Instead of just having some basic info on a college and a link to the school's web site, Egiate takes things further. It has those basic things, but then adds in better search options, maps, satellite photos of the campus, 3D buildings (if available) and much more.

They are still building the site and working with schools to incorporate more information. Searching can be done by location, major, size, and more and there is information on admissions, majors, students, athletics, and more on each school.

WatchKnow - educational video search

WatchKnow is a new site set up by the creator of Wikipedia. The site collects all the best free educational videos for students and indexes them for easy searching and you can watch them on the site.

The videos are links and are actually hosted on their home sites, so some of the videos will be blocked by internet blocking software.

The best part about WatchKnow is that it has done the work of sorting through the millions of videos on the web to find the ones that are good for education. Do a search and see how easy it is to use and find great videos for your classroom.

Google Image Swirl

Google Image Swirl (Google Labs) is a new way of searching for images on Google.

Being part of Google Labs means it is still in the development stage, but works.

Image swirl is a visual way to search for images and it shows their relationships to other images in groups.

Enter your search term and click enter and you get a screen like the one below (I searched "Physics").

As you can see, each image has a stack behind it. Click on an image and it brings up a circle of images. Click on another image in there, and it brings up another circle with that image and more that are related.

I like it because it is more visual than the basic image search and you can find related images much easier. It is great for helping students find images that are connected and exploring those connections.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Interactive Periodic Table of Elements

I just learned about a great interactive Periodic Table of the Elements from my PLN (personal learning network) on Twitter.

This interactive Periodic Table of the Elements is great and loaded with features. As you move your cursor over an element, the information for that element is shown larger above the table. If you click on an element, a pop-up window launches with more detailed information about the element (courtesy of Wikipedia). When you move your cursor over a category of elements (halogens, alkali metals, etc.), those elements highlight, and the rest fade to grey.

It will also show the properties, electron orbitals, and isotopes for each element. And, you can adjust a temperature slider and it will color code the elements based on their phase at that temperature (solid, liquid, gas, or unknown).

This is a really useful, informative, and fun periodic table to use with your classes.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Science Fair Resources

Science fair season is upon us as students start to work on their projects. Here are some resources for teachers and students:

Discovery Education Science Fair Central - helps with ideas, organizing a project, finding resources, and presenting your project.

Our Science Fair - a free science fair website service designed to increase student participation and make the entire process simpler and greener. Science fair coordinators can set up custom web sites for their science fairs.

Science Bob - science resource site with science fair tips and ideas.

PreK-12 Engineering

PreK-12 Engineering is a site with free resources for educators to integrate engineering concepts and activities into preK through 12th grade classrooms. The activities are linked to the Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Framework.

The activities are really well thought out and developed and I have used many of them.

Things are sorted by grade level for easy searching.

Learn to Type

Instructify, a great blog, has an article with resources about learning how to type. The introduction of more computers and computer based learning has made typing a necessary skill for anyone these days. Check out the resources in the article.

Edheads - online projects

Edheads is a great web site that has online projects for students to do. These projects help students explore and learn about a variety of topics.

Some of the projects include - design a cell phone, virtual knee surgery, simple machines, and more.

I found it fun also! Try it out yourself and you will find that it is a nice resource to use in your classroom. The crash scene project was fun and is great for a physics class.

The Differentiator

Byrdseed, a site I just learned about today, contains ideas to use in gifted classrooms. I've already found some great ideas to use with any class.

On the site is something called the Differentiator. The differentiator makes it easy to come up with lesson objectives following Bloom's taxonomy and other guidelines.

You pick a thinking skill, such as explain, describe, or criticize, then pick the content it is about, the resources students will use, and the product that they will create and the site creates a one sentence objective. It is very easy to use and will help you plan out lessons and make sure you are doing different things in your lessons for different types of learners and different levels of understanding. An example of one I did is below.

Google Scholarships for Students

Google, that lovable search engine giant that also has a ton of applications, also has scholarships for students!

They have scholarships for different groups and minorities, some to help students travel to conferences, and the Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship - which is for women majoring in computer science or computer engineering.

Pass the info on to your students!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Prezi - The zooming presentation editor

I had learned about Prezi over the summer, but never got a chance to work with it until this week. Today I finished my first presentation. It is a presentation I am doing for a professional development session next week at my school on Google Applications and some other free things for teachers.

I found Prezi very easy to use and once I started playing with it a little, I started having fun with it. I'm going to continue to explore more features in it, including automatic timing of each part, frames, grouping, and more.

Try it out as a nice alternative to just using PowerPoint.

Virtual Human Body

The Virtual Human Body is a great web site that is literally a virtual tour of the human body. You can explore the Brain, Skeleton, Heart, and Digestive tract. Each part can be explored and manipulated and some sections even have narrated tours.

In some parts, as you move your mouse over certain parts of the system, notes and information will come up on the screen. I think that it would be suitable for grades 7-12.

I found it easy to use and a great resource for students.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Decade in Seven Minutes

Newsweek has a great video "The Decade in Seven Minutes" that shows clips of news and social issues since 2000.

It's a great video to use with a current events or social studies class to get a discussion rolling or even just show an overview of major events in the last 9 years.

Google Search Guide

The Google Search Guide Cheat Sheet is a great resource for students, teachers, and others. It gives you a one page resource showing you all the different ways to search for things using Google, including using Google to find definitions and do calculations.

The Best Web 2.0 Resources for Relevant Integration

On the site, there are tons of resources, sorted by different categories, that can be used in the classroom to help improve teaching and learning.

21st Century Learning, Blogging, Web Sites, Literacy, Copyrights, Ethics, Tutorials, and more.

This is a great place to start your search for tips and ideas on Web 2.0 resources.

There is also another page from the Web 2.0 Guru about Web 2.0 resources.

Technology in Education Website

Keith Lightbody's Technology in Education Website is a great resource for educators. On it, Keith has lists of technology resources and how to use them in the classroom. They are organized by topic area, such as Scanning Notes, Visual Literacy, Multiple Monitors, Creating Web pages, and more.

I have found some really good resources and tips on the site and highly recommend it.

Evaluating Web Sites

The internet is a great resource, but as we all know, not everything online is accurate or good for student use.

Here is another resource for evaluating web sites for content, accuracy, and relevancy. It's from Lesley University and is a great one to use with your students. It is easy to follow and does a good job explaining the process.

Some more resources:

Twitter in Education

Twitter was one of those things that I didn't have time to try out until last week. I've had an account for months, but didn't have time to do anything with it.

Then I started hearing about how many teachers are on it and how they post ideas, tips, and links. So, I got started and started following a couple of educators whose blogs I read. Next thing you know I have over 30 followers and I start following them. Within a day I had found over 20 great ideas or resources and posted a few for them too. It's been great.

Twitter can be used in class also as a tool and you can find a ton of information about Twitter in the news. It's a great way to build a Personal Learning Network, share ideas, get ideas, and just communicate with other educators.

I found a great article today about Twitter for Trainers. The article talks about how to show teachers how Twitter can be a great resource for them. It goes over how to introduce someone to Twitter and how to get them started.

Unfortunately for some people, like me, Twitter is blocked at my school. However, there is a work around that I found out about from someone I follow on Twitter. If you use iGoogle, you can use the TwitterGadget gadget to access Twitter because it goes through a different site first. It's great to see what other teachers are doing during the day and to be able to share ideas.

If you are new to Twitter and want to find a couple of people to follow, you can start with me. (@daveandcori) Then look at some of the people I follow and next thing you know, you will have a huge PLN.

Some more articles on Twitter in Education:

100 Best YouTube Videos for Teachers

I found the list a great way to sort through the millions of videos on YouTube to find some good ones. And, once you've gone to some of these, YouTube suggests similar videos so you can find even more good ones.

If you can't access YouTube at school, read this article about downloading the videos at home.

Alternatives to Software

Alternative To is a great site that lists alternatives to software. Don't want to use Microsoft Office, look for an alternative to it (Google Docs, Zoho, OpenOffice, etc).

This is very useful in finding free, or inexpensive alternatives to paid applications. It's also a good way to find other similar software to find features that you need.

You can search all or by platform - Windows, Mac, Linux, Web-based and by category.

I posted about this last summer, but I felt it was good enough to repeat.

Mobile Learning Resources

Today's cellphones and mobile devices make learning available anywhere, anytime.

Upside Learning has a great post listing 50 Mobile Learning Resources. These are a great way to find ideas and tools to utilize mobile devices in your classroom.

I would love to have my students use their cell phones in class, but it is against district policy, and state law, for them to have them in school. They all do anyway, but it's against the rules.

Hopefully, we can change how administrators, politicians, and some teachers feel about cell phones in school. They are great tools that can be used in education.

Useful Search Engines for Science

Online Courses has a great listing of search engines for science. While Google is a great search engine, it will bring back lots of results unless you know how to tailor your search.

These search engines search for science resources and the site has them broken down by scientific area (biology, astronomy, etc.)

This is a great resource for teachers and students.


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