Wednesday, September 29, 2010

10 Great Free Resources from Discovery Education

Discovery Education is an excellent resource for teachers. Many teachers know about Discovery Streaming, the Discovery Channel, or even Discovery Middle School Science. All of these are fee based services, but Discovery Education also has some great free resources for any teacher. Here are my top 10 (out of the 25 or so they have that are free).

1. Web 20.10 - - Access great content on Internet Safety, Media Literacy and links to Web 2.0 Tool. The site is rich with little flash videos detailing the explanation and use of Web 2.0 Tools in the classroom. This is a great resource for new teachers and veterans to learn about Web 2.0 tools.

2. New Teacher Survival Central - - Includes Tech Tools for teachers and students, New teacher blogs, classroom tools, and curriculum resources, Tips/tricks on: Classroom Environment, Classroom Management, Parent Communication, Cool tips on Green Screens and more!

3. Science Fair Central - - Great ideas how to create, launch and facilitate a Science Fair, including tips and ideas for student projects.

4. Discovery Education Lesson Plans - - lesson plans for all different subjects, sorted by K-5, 6-8, and 9-12.

5. Siemens STEM Academy - - Premier online community designed to foster student achievement in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math through the collaboration of STEM educators and sharing of best practices. Great resources, ideas, and more.

6. Kathy Schrock's guide for Educators - - Kathy Schrock's Guide for Educators is a categorized list of sites useful for enhancing curriculum and professional growth. It is updated often to include the best sites for teaching and learning.

7. Science of Everyday Life - - Everywhere you look, there are wonders both big and small just waiting to be explored. Your school, your home, and your community are all boundless laboratories full of mystery, excitement and surprise. Join us as we uncover the magic all around us and tap the innovator within us…in the Science of Everyday Life. What a great way to connect science to students' lives and experiences by connecting science to everyday things.

8. Worksheets to Go - - great worksheets and activities for teachers to use. Sorted by subject and topic.

9. Puzzlemaker - - create your own puzzles. Create and print customized word search, criss-cross, math puzzles, and more—using your own word lists.

10. NASA at 50 - - NASA at 50 highlights key innovations and milestones in chemistry, physics, engineering, and space exploration from NASA's fifty-year history. Each clip serves as a gateway for further learning in science and history and promotes critical thinking and inquiry as essential components of scientific literacy.

Students can enjoy NASA at 50 in video or audio formats that are compatible with common portable media players. In addition, teacher's guides are provided for each clip to facilitate integration of this exciting and engaging content into lesson plans.

Training resources for using Discovery Education resources:

Discovery Education Training Resources on Educational Technology Guy.

Discovery Educator Network Blog -
Lots of resources, articles, how-to’s, links, and more.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Education issues and a rant by me

After seeing the news lately, reading web sites and blogs, and basically feeling like public education is under attack (some is warranted, but most is unfair) I replied to an article on MSNBC.

Here was my reply:

I love how businessmen and politicians think they know how to fix schools. Teachers know what's wrong and want to fix it but get no help. Parents need to be more involved, and actually help their kids, encourage them to go to school, and make school a priority. Teachers have to have support when dealing with kids who won't do their work, skip school, and cause problems. Most of the money "thrown" at schools ends up at the top - it never filters down to the classroom any way.

You want a longer school year? Pony up a lot of money - increase salaries, utility bills, air conditioning (can't have students in a 110 degree building). What about high school students who work to help support their families? An increased school day and year will limit that. 

To fix education, you have to fix the current culture in so many areas that school isn't important. Why go to school when you can get welfare like your mom? Why go to school when you can sell drugs like your cousin? Too many of our students want to be lawyers and go into financial jobs. These are the people who got this country messed up! We need doctors, engineers, scientists, machinists, manufacturers, and trades.

Also, not everyone should go to college. It's not for everyone. And, we need plumbers, mechanics, machinists, carpenters, electricians, construction, chefs, etc. They don't need college. Stop forcing every kid to go to college. 

Research, by the way, show's that the president's beloved charter schools are not really anything special. Many fail, many are a waste of money, and most don't do any better than public schools. And, these charter schools had more resources and could hand pick their students. 

Politicians don't have the answers because they don't even know what the real problem is. Let's get educators involved in this process and use actual research to fix things.

Let's keep the conversation going and make sure to spread the word to the public and politicians.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Google Apps Education Training Center

The Google Apps Education Training Center is an online learning environment dedicated for educators and students to learn how to effectively use Google Apps in an educational context. In other words, it provides training materials to learn how to use Google Apps in education.

While you don't need a Google Apps account to use this site, it is recommended so that you can experience what you learn. Of course, if you have a Google account you can use many of the apps anyway.

This is a good resource for teachers and students whose school system uses Google Apps or for any teacher or student who uses Google's applications for school.

A Media Specialist's Guide to the Internet

 A Media Specialist's Guide to the Internet is an amazing resource I recently found out about.

The site has a huge number of resources and web links for teachers, sorted by school age group - elementary, middle and high school.

In addition, the main page of the site is a blog and the author posts news and new resources in this space.

This is a great place to start when looking for internet resources for your class.

The Biology Corner

The Biology Corner is a fantastic web site my wife found this weekend. The site has resources for teachers including lesson plans, web quests, quizzes, and much more. The site is set up by "class" - Anatomy 1 and 2, AP Biology, Biology 1 and 1a, Biology 2 and 2a, and Physics.

Worksheets are also sorted by topic, and images and media have their own menu.

The material is very useful and I like the class format for the resources. It is set up sequentially and allows for easy scanning for resources.

Google Student Blog

I am a huge user and fan of Google's many applications and their use in education. I use Blogger for this blog and my classroom blogs, Google Sites for my classroom site, Google Docs, Google Earth, iGoogle and much more with my students and for my own use. I show my students Google's applications because they are easy to use, useful, and free.

Google recently launched the Google Student Blog. This blog site is a great resource for students who use Google's products. It includes information, updates, how-to's, tips, and much more on how to use Google's applications as a student. If your students use Google's products, they should be reading the Google Student Blog. 

Related Articles:


Digital Learning Environments is a site sponsored by HP and Intel that offers resources and ideas for teachers on how to use technology in education. There are some great ideas and lesson resources for all teachers on the site.

This page of the site has a listing of Web 2.0 resources to use in Science Classes. Resources listed include a varitey of sites listed by subject. There is a brief description about the site and how it can be used in the classroom.

I recommend this page for all science teachers and Digital Learning Environments in general to all educators as a must have resource.

Connecting Student Learning and Technology

Connecting Student Learning and Technology is a web resource for teachers that shows ways to use technology in education to address the diverse needs of our diverse student population.

The site refers to constructivism a lot, but even if you don't follow that line of thinking the site has some great resources. There are references, classroom activities, lists of technology and how to use it in the classroom and much more. It is a good place to start when trying to decide on how to use technology in your classroom to enhance learning.

Blogs, Wikis, Docs - which is best for your class

Blogs, Wikis, Docs is a great resource for teachers who are trying to decide when and how to use these tools. The author has created a chart listing the nature, collaboration, updating ease, benefits, drawbacks, and examples of each tool in education. If you are thinking of using one of these tools in your classroom, this site is a great place to start.

Related Articles:

Virtual Field Trips

Virtual field trips are a great way to get your students to experience something new without having to actually go there. The Apple, a great resource for teachers, recently posted an article listing the 5 best Virtual Field Trips.

Use these virtual field trips as a free resource for your students.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Latest resources I've posted on Twitter

Latest resources I've posted on Twitter:

Great article from @jasontbedell on Reflective Educators (rest of his recent articles are great 2!) must read. #education

NASA Planet Profile via @tl… - #edtech, #education, #nasa

RT @Brian_ThomasTCI: Cell phone policies relax as Cincy area schools use cell as instructional tool! #edchat #edtech

Upcoming Conferences in CT and NY that I'm presenting at and attending - come join us!! #edtech, #education, #edchat

Pictures of my classroom taken with my @palm #pre. Gotta love that camera. #technology #prepics, #webOS

RT @garystager: The Washington Post calls out Oprah and Michelle Rhee on their BS - - great article!! 

RT @nealchambers: Should Companies (and schools) have nap time? | - nap time for students and teachers too.

Tech Tip - How to Take a Screen Shot - - #edtech, #techtips 

RT @web20classroom: 10 PBL Resource That Put Students In The Center Of Learning: 

RT @web20classroom: How To Teach For Jobs That Don't Exist | Dangerously Irrelevant 

RT @Curriki: Education Technology resource that are Free, Easy and Essential: wikis, blogs, wolfram, sketchup, podcasts

Tech Tip - scheduling an email - - #edtech, #edchat

 TechForum NY 10/22/10 - Tech&Learning Magazine - great conference with great sessions. #edtech, #education, @tltechforum 

The webOS 2.0 developer opportunity: genuinely unique apps - - @Palm, #webOS, #Pre, #Pixi, #technology, #smartphone

@DEN Fall Virtual Conference - - Sat, Oct 23rd. Free - great resource for all teachers. #edtech, #education

Tech Tip - computer password advice - - #edtech, #technology

RT @kylepace: Using Video Games As A Teaching Tool:

 CT Day of Discovery - free Discovery Education Conference - - Sat 10/16/2010 - learn how to use DE in your class #edtech

Googlios: E-Portfolios on Google

RT @HP_PC: Check out the cool new features of the @Palm @WebOS, & learn what "stacks" are: (via @nytimes)-love my Pre+ 

Follow Me on Twitter

This year my schedule is a little busier than usual. I'm teaching an extra class so I'm now teaching 5 Physics classes and 1 AP Physics class. I'm also teaching an EMS Instructor program (8 x 8hr Saturdays) and I just started my second Master's Degree (Educational Leadership). My first Master's is in Educational Technology Integration.

The result is that I'm posting to the blog less often. But, I do Tweet out a lot of links, resources, and tips. So, follow my blog, and follow me on Twitter. @daveandcori.

I also post a list of what I've tweeted here on the blog as a sort of summary.

If you can't get Twitter at school because it's blocked (like me). Here's a work around. Use TwitterGadget.

Thanks for following me and being part of my PLN.

TwitterGadget - get around Twitter being blocked.

Twitter Gadget is a great app for accessing Twitter, even if Twitter is blocked (like it is at my district).

Twitter Gadget is an app that you can use in iGoogle, GMail or as a stand-alone app. It is very easy to use and works well. I actually like using it in iGoogle over the Twitter home page.

It's free and the site has easy instructions and references on how to use it.

TwitterGadget in iGoogle:

TwitterGadget Stand-alone in browser:

It's a great resource and I use it even when Twitter isn't blocked.

(If you use a Palm Pre+/Pixi+ I recommend Twee as a great Twitter app for webOS)

Any other great Twitter clients that get around Twitter being blocked?

UPDATE 12-10-2010

TweetDeck and Tweetdeck's web app also work if Twitter is blocked and are both very powerful!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My conference Schedule for October

It's Educational Conference Time!

Did you ever notice how you can go for a long time with a normally busy schedule, and then all of a sudden everything happens at once? That's me come October.

Here is my schedule of conferences I'm presenting at, all in the same week!

Saturday, October 16th - Glastonbury, CT
Discovery Education - Connecticut Day of Discovery (pre - CECA conference).
I'm presenting a session on all of the free resources from Discovery Education.
Free - limited space. Register soon!

Monday, October 18th - Hartford, CT
CECA (Connecticut Educators Computer Association)
I'm presenting two sessions. One is on Innovative Free Technologies for Teachers and the other is on Creating a Personal Learning Network.

Friday, October 22nd - Tarrytown, NY
TechForum NY (sponsored by Tech&Learning Magazine)
I'm one of four panelists on a session entitled "Web 2.0 Smackdown" where we will share our favorite Web 2.0 tools for educators.

If you are in the Connecticut / Mass / New York area, come and check these out. They are all great conferences with a lot of great ideas being shared.

Any good conferences going on in your area?

My classroom layout and resources

I was recently asked how I am able to so so much with technology in my school. I have to say that I am very lucky with the equipment I have.

I have a teacher station with an HP desktop, HP LaserJet printer, Canon Color Inkjet Printer/Scanner/Copier/Fax, Speakers, DVD Player, VCR, and LCD Projector and internet access. The computer, DVD player, and VCR all connect into the LCD Projector. I also have a document camera, digital camera, and a Flip video camera.

My room is a physics lab room. I have 30 desk/chairs and six lab stations. I also have 8 desktop computers spread around the room. The 8 computers are connected to a networked printer. There is no WiFi in my corner of the building, yet, but it is coming and all of the desktop computers are connected to the internet.

I also have a Mimio system that turns my white board into an interactive white board. I can capture my notes, operate my computer and presentation from the board and more.

In addition to all of this, the district has also purchased some very nice software for the science department. We have Cyber Ed Physical Science, Biology, and Chemistry and Plato Learning's Multimedia Science School. The district also has a subscription to Discovery Streaming.

With all of this equipment and access to software and the World Wide Web, I am able to provide my students with a variety of learning experiences. They do WebQuests, use the software for reinforcement and virtual labs, get to see and experience new and different things. I can show them almost anything through the projector, from videos, to demonstrations, to virtual activities, and more. The AP Physics class is going to be using the Flip video camera and the computers to create an online Physics reference site with videos of labs and physics demonstrations. While doing this, they will be learning and applying physics, technology skills, and more. And, the project will help other physics students.

I'm also trying to go as paperless as possible. Students can email me work or use my box to submit electronic copies of work. The Canon scanner is used to digitize paper work and assignments for digital portfolios. Instead of lab or project handouts, everything is posted on the class blog or website and students access it through the class computers.

Students who don't have a computer at home can use the ones in my room for any assignment and for any task. They know they can come to my room before or after school and use the computers.

I am very lucky for what I have in my room. It makes teaching and learning better and more interactive.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Video Games as learning tools (Angry Birds)

Today I just read an article on video games as learning tools on Edudemic. I have always thought that games made an excellent learning tool when done right, with the right support by the teacher. Many video games teach students actual content knowledge, but most of them teach critical thinking and problem solving techniques. 

Research has shown that video games are effective as learning tools and many companies are working on educational video games. But, other video games can be used educationally also. 

I just downloaded Angry Birds for my Palm Pre+ last night and loved it. The premise is simple. A bunch of pigs steal eggs from the birds. The birds then go after the pigs. The birds get launched using a slingshot and try to knock down the pigs structures. 

As I was playing, I realized that there was physics at play here, and since I teach physics, I was very excited. Projectile Motion, structures, stability, materials, and dynamics all come into play. If you understand those concepts, you'll do better at the game. If you don't know those concepts, you will learn them while playing. 

There is nothing really bad about the game. It is extremely popular and received high praise from reviewers. My only problem is that I need it in a Windows version for my classroom! 

The game is available for Palm webOS phones (Pre and Pixi), Nokia phones, and iPhone / iPod Touch / iPad.

" Angry Birds features hours of gameplay, challenging physics-based castle demolition, and lots of replay value. Each of the 150 levels requires logic, skill, and brute force to crush the enemy. " 

As an educator, I am always looking for new, engaging ways to teach my students. Using video games is a great way to do this.

Share video games that you use for education!

Note: Edudemic is a great resource site for educators. In their own words, Edudemic is a website devoted to these ‘geeky’ things with an education slant. We focus on what’s happening in the tech world and how it applies to higher education. We’re not trying to be the next Gizmodo, we’re trying to help educators get the most out of their students and vice versa.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Most Used Apps on my Palm Pre+ and what I use them for

I have a
Palm Pre+ smartphone running webOS on Verizon. I love it. I've been a Palm user since my Palm IIIxe I got in 2000. Then I got the T3, Lifedrive, TX, and then Centro. I got my Pre+ last February when it came out on Verizon. I've always used these devices to keep my self organized and connected. I thought I'd share how I use it in my daily life as a teacher.

While Palm and webOS don't have tens of thousands of apps like Apple and Android, they have a lot of great apps and they are very useful. Since HP purchased Palm, there are new hardware devices coming and many more apps on the way. I am able to do everything I need to do with my Pre+.

The Pre+ has 16GB of onboard storage, a 3.1 inch multi-touch screen, WiFi, Bluetooth and a slide out physical keyboard. (The Pixi is Palm's other phone and it has a slightly smaller screen and a permanent keyboard (like Blackberry)).

I use my phone all day long at work and home for multiple things. I start out in the morning checking email, reviewing my schedule and calendar. Then I check my lesson plans, Twitter, Facebook, RSS feeds, and more throughout the day. I take notes in meetings, review presentation materials, and much more. Here are the main apps I use each day:

Calendar (built in): my calendar on my Pre+ syncs with my Google Calendar account. This way, anything I put into either my phone or on my computer is synced (effortlessly over the air). I can even add other calendars, including my wife's Google Calendar and my Outlook calendar from school.

Web Browser (built in): I use my web browser to check the news, surf the web, look up sites I want to use for school, access my bank account, and even access our school student info system, PowerTeacher. The web browser displays web pages just as if you were on a computer and then you can easily zoom in using the multi-touch screen features.
Email (built in): the email app on the Pre+ is very good. I have my home email from Optimum Online, my Gmail account, and my school Outlook account all synced to my phone. I can see all of them as one inbox, or separate. I can keep in touch with friends, family, and students anywhere. I answered a student's homework question while at the store the other evening.
ZumoDrive: Zumodrive is a file sync/storage/backup service that works great for smartphones. Your computer thinks that they Zumodrive system is another hard drive on your computer. With the smartphone, you can access all of your files and even stream music or video files from your computer onto your phone.
Twee: Twee is an excellent Twitter client. I can see my feeds, retweet with the official retweet or add my own comments, send and receive direct messages, search, and much more. I use Twitter as a part of my Personal Learning Network and especially for #edchat.
Facebook: Palm developed this app for Facebook and it is very good. I can see News, Status Updates, pictures, search and more. It's a great way to stay in touch with people while on the go.
Evernote: I use Evernote for my lesson plans, class notes, meeting notes, to clip things from the internet, and much more. The app lets me access and edit my notes (or create new ones) from anywhere. If you've never used Evernote, you really need to try it out. Evernote homepage.
Physics Reference: I teach physics, so having a comprehensive physics reference with me is very useful. It is easy to use and has all the information I need to refresh my memory, or look up information.
Weather Channel: Do I need a jacket or umbrella today?

Web Sites as Apps, using the Web Browser:

There are many web sites that I use as apps. I've save a bookmark of the site to my phone as an icon on the app screen. That makes it easier to access.
Yankees homepage - have to keep up with my team.

Google Reader - Google's mobile site for it's Reader app is very easy to use and well designed. I can check all of my feeds from here, read the entire article, star it to save it for later, and much more.

Dropbox and Sugarsync: I access the mobile sites for these two file share/sync/backup services and can access my files on my phone using DocsToGo. I've reviewed PowerPoint files and Word documents while in a waiting room, in a meeting, or sitting on the couch at home.
Google Mobile Apps - I can access pretty much all of Google's apps from my smartphone, including Docs, Maps, News, IGoogle, Calendar, Notebook, Blogger, and Tasks. I use all of these extensively and having access to them on my phone makes my life easier, organized and efficient. on your phone.
And of course there are a ton of games and other apps to keep you busy or having fun.
Smartphones are great educational tools and with more and more students getting them, we should be using them in the classroom. If I'm using it, why can't they?
Related Articles:
Palm webOS resources:
PreCentral - great info, reviews, app listings and reviews, tips, and more.

What smartphone do you have and what are your favorite apps.


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