Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cybraryman's Educational Web Sites - great resource for all

Cybrary Man's Educational Web Sites - Cybraryman has a great site with over 20,000 links to educational resources. The site is organized by Educators, Parents, Students and sub categories. He even has lists of educational hashtags for Twitter. It is an excellent site and I've nominated it for an Edublog Award.

The site has information for parents about parenting, child development, school safety, internet safety and more. There is a student section with resources for homework help, project and research assistance, study skills and test prep and much more. Th educator section has links and resources for lesson plans, subject areas, technology, and more and includes resources on Twitter and Facebook in education.

The site is an incredible resource for all.

Panoramic Views of 7 Wonders of the World

Panoramic Views of 7 Wonders of the World is a great resource for sharing these great places with students. The panoramic views are wonderful and very easy to use on your computer. You can change your view just by moving your cursor around.

Each image only takes about 30 sec to load and then you are ready to go.

Sea Monsters - Nat Geo - ancient sea creatures

Sea Monsters is a very interesting feature from National Geographic. There is a great narrative about ancient sea creatures and the potential for unknown sea creatures to exist today.

The site also has interactive activities on ancient sea monsters where students can learn more about them. There are also two different 3D activities to explore more about these topics.

This is a great site to use with students studying natural history, biology, and life science.

50 Amazing Museum Exhibits You Can Enjoy Online

50 Amazing Museum Exhibits You Can Enjoy Online is a site with a list of 50 different museums and exhibits that can be viewed online. The list is separated by categories - Art and Culture, History, Natural History, and Science and Technology - and includes links to such museums as the Louvre, Museum of Modern Art, Colonial Williamsburg, National Museum of Natural History, and NASA. 

These sites can be used as virtual field trips and as ways to explore different concepts and topics without leaving the class room.

Twitter for Education - great resource and some hashtags

I've spoken about Twitter in education before as a main part of my Personal Learning Network. But I wanted to expand on it some more. 

Twitter is a great social networking site that allows you only 140 characters per Tweet. This forces people to make their point succinctly, but many people use it to send out links to other articles or resources. I don't use it for keeping up with "friends" per se. I use it to connect to other educators. 

Twitter is a great way to connect, share, discover, discuss, and learn about education. It's a type of on-demand professional development (which I've learned more from than years of traditional professional development).

Here are links to articles that have a list of great educational hashtags to follow. Hashtags are a way to sort Tweets by topic. You can search all of Twitter for these hashtags. As you find users who post good stuff, you can follow them directly too.

All about #edchat - a great resource on Twitter - #edchat has won awards for best Influential Tweets.  This is a great place to start on Twitter.

28 Education and Technology Keywords Or Hashtags To Follow on Twitter

Cybrary Man's Educational HashTags

TenMarks - FREE math practice resource

TenMarks is a free math practice resource available to teachers and students. TenMarks uses a different approach to math problem solving practice. There are a variety of problems on each topic with hints available to help students get through the problem instead of getting frustrated. There are also video lessons available to help them review and learn the topics.

Teachers can select their own curriculum, which is mapped to state standards, assign work to students which is automatically graded and then review student performance to find areas that students need help in.

I found that it was very easy to set up and the materials were very good for helping students practice and learn math concepts. The highest it went for high school is Algebra 2. There was no Calculus available for Connecticut, but I was happy to see that Algebra 2 included trigonometry since that is what my physics students struggle with the most.

All-in-all it is a very good, free resource.

Monday, November 29, 2010

DROPitTOme - receive files to your inbox

DROPitTOme is a great resource I learned about from Free Technology for Teachers (Richard Byrne). Richard and I had both lamented over the loss of Drop.io since we both used it to collect electronic versions of student work.

Richard found DROPitTOme and I was finally able to try it out. It works great. It links to your Dropbox account and allows you to have people submit a file to your Dropbox account without being able to see anything else in the account. Dropbox has free accounts available with 2GB of memory. That should be more than enough for most teachers to use for collecting student work. You don't have to keep the work there that long since you could download the files later.

DROPitTOme is a great replacement for Drop.io and very easy to use and set up. Why waste paper? Have you students submit their work electronically. You can even comment/markup/grade it and then email it to them or send it to their Dropbox folder.

Related Posts:

CanTeach - Resources for Educators

CanTeach is a resource for all educators. The site has links and lesson plans for elementary through high school. The resources and links are sorted by subject matter and include science, math, reading, homeschooling, social studies, technology education, and much more.

The site is clean and simple and can be searched or you can search through the topic areas by clicking on the menu.

There are some really great resources and links on the site. It is well worth a visit.

Roller Coaster Game as Learning Tool in Physics

In my physics classes, when we study work, energy and energy conversions, I relate it to amusement park rides such as roller coasters. The students can all relate to these things and they are great examples of work being done to give an object (the roller coaster) potential energy which then gets converted to kinetic energy and so one. We are also able to bring in forces, friction, and other topics. The students love it, it keeps their interest, and they learn!

One activity I had them complete right before the Thanksgiving break is to play an online game. Yes, I said it, a game. The game is Roller Coaster Creator. I found the site by doing a Google search and played it myself first. It is a lot of fun, but I wasn't sure how educational it was. So, I tried it out on my students. They loved it. They all tried to get the highest scores and the best designs. But, more importantly was the conversations they were having while using it. They were talking like physicists and engineers. "We have to increase this hill so there is more potential energy". "There is too much friction." "That loop will create too much g-force for the passengers." "In order to have the car jump that gap, we need a different angle and more velocity."

The conversations were great! I was so happy to see them learning and applying the concepts that they had learned while having fun!!

Now, I just have to keep this fun level going and get some more great activities for them.

Share your educational games (or games you've used in education) with us.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Added "AddThis" to my blog - share blog posts easily

I just learned about "AddThis" from Richard Byrne at Free Technology for Teachers. AddThis is a free service that lets you add a widget to your blog to allow people to easily share blog posts via Facebook, Twitter, Delicious, and more.

It was extremely easy to set up (I did it in less than 10 minutes) and you can get analytics of how many people share your blog post with others.

Try "AddThis" on your blog and try it out here and let me know how you like it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Google Voice - great for teachers

Google Voice is a great tool for teachers. You can use your Google Voice number to give out to students and parents instead of giving out your actual cell or home number. This can help you eliminate problems and spam.

Google Voice is free for most calls with inexpensive international calls. You can add Google Voice features to your current phone or create a whole new number (which is what I did).

Some of the really nice features:

  • Voicemail transcription - voicemail messages automatically converted to text (and you can have it emailed to you). 
  • Customized greetings - you can set different voicemail greetings for different callers.
  • Call Screening and forwarding - decide which phone rings based on who's calling and you can listen in as someone leaves a message before deciding to answer the call. 
  • Works with any kind of phone (there are apps for most smartphones too)
Go to the site and explore it and see if it is something you can use.

Other links regarding Google Voice:

Monday, November 22, 2010

Incompetent Teachers or Dysfunctional Systems? Fix the system to support the teachers.

"Incompetent Teachers or Dysfunctional Systems?
Rather than blame teachers, we must ensure that teachers work within a highly functional system that
provides meaningful evaluations, high-quality professional development, reasonable class sizes, reliable
and stable leadership, and time for planning and collaboration."

This is the opening headline for an article by By Ken Futernick that was published in the October 2010 issue of Kappan Magazine

The article makes some very good points about teacher quality vs. the system they work in and how the systems need to be changed more than we need to get rid of teachers. Systems need to help teachers succeed, just like teachers need to help students succeed.

Another great quote: "Poor teaching results more often from poorly functioning systems than from individual shortcomings."

Read it for yourself and see what you think.

Science NetLinks - great science resource for teachers

Science NetLinks is a great resource for science teachers (and any other teacher looking for science information and resources). They have resources for grades K-12. Resources include lesson plans, online resources, lesson tools, and more. It is all free!

The resources are all standards based, internet activities. I have been using a few of them and they are very good.

The lesson plans section is set up by grade level. You can scan the list for the topic and standard benchmark. The tools are links to different web sites that you can use in your own lesson plans. The resources section has a list of resources, sorted by topic and grade level, such as NASAAmerican Museum of Natural History, and much, much more.

I found the site to be easy to navigate and the lessons and resources were all good quality.

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Great Tutorial on Google Sites

Mary Fran's Google Sites Tutorial is an excellent resource for anyone using Google Sites.

She has done an excellent job of breaking down different aspects and functions of Google Sites into an easy to read and follow format.

The site (created on Google sites of course) includes getting started, the basics, editing, inserting gadgets, using layouts and templates, and much more. She has video tutorials, links, and examples of sites and also has a section specifically for educators.

If you use Google Sites or want to create your own web site using Google Sites, I highly recommend this site. It is also a great resource for students who are using Google Sites.

Related Post:

Friday, November 19, 2010

One more educational conference!

EduCon 2.3 is another educational conference coming up soon. It will be held in Philadelphia, January 28-30, 2011. What's very cool is that you can attend digitally if you want to!

Like the other three conferences I mentioned in my last post, EduCon 2.3 is an "unconference" and is a conversation of issues and ideas about education. Many of the people from my PLN are attending and/or presenting and it should be a great weekend.

I don't think I'll be able to attend physically, but I will be attending digitally.

Upcoming Free Educational "Conferences"

There are some very cool educational "conferences" or "unconferences" coming up that everyone should check out. These three are all in the Northeast (NY, NJ, and MA). They are all FREE!

EdCampNYC - EdCamp NYC is an unconference about K-12 education issues and ideas. It is Saturday, December 4th, 2010 and will be held at the School at Columbia University in NYC. You choose what sessions you want to attend and you can even leave a session and choose a different one. They are not presentations so much as conversations and a sharing of ideas and concerns. 

NTCAMP - NTCAMP is also an unconference focusing on K-12 education issues and ideas. It is Saturday, February 26, 2011 at Burlington High School in Burlington, MA. It runs from 8am - 4pm. There will be a variety of sessions and discussions throughout the day for anyone in the education field. It is NOT just for "new" teachers. 

TeachMeetNJ - TeachMeetNJ is another unconference. This one is being held on Saturday, March 5th, 2011 at Rutgers University in Piscataway, NJ. There will be around 100 different sessions. Sessions will be different lengths and very interactive. There is going to be a dedicated Blogger’s Cafe/Networking area. It is a place to meet other people, hang out, try new tools, and relax.

Awesome Screenshot

Awesome Screenshot is an extension for Google Chrome that allows you to screen capture and annotate web sites and images from web pages. You can capture the entire page, or just a section of it. Awesome Screenshot will open a new tab with an editing toolbar for you to use. You can save the image to your computer or upload it to a website. It is free and there is no account registration needed.

It is very easy to use and can come in handy for people like me who use screen captures in my blog. The screen shot above was made using Awesome Screenshot.

(found on Lifehacker)

Space Out Sports competition from NASA

“Spaced Out Sports” is a national student design challenge geared toward grades 5-8.  The purpose is for students to apply Newton’s Laws of Motion by designing or redesigning a game for International Space Station (ISS) astronauts to play in space.  As students design a new sport, they will learn about Newton’s Laws of Motion and the effect of gravity on an object.   They will learn to predict the difference between a game or activity played on Earth and in the microgravity environment of the ISS.  

These kinds of contests are great for students. They learn and apply new things while having fun and have the chance to win some prizes. 

NASA is a great resource for all educators, no matter what subject they teach. 

The Physics Behind "Unstoppable"

The Physics Behind "Unstoppable" is a great piece I found on Open Culture's website. The article starts with the plot of the movie and a trailer for it and then has a video from Emory physics professor Sidney Perkowitz explaining the physics part of this. Professor Perkowitz has also authored books and articles on physics and science in movies. 

Applying science to popular culture, whether movies, music, sports, or the like is a great way to connect with your students, engage them, and show them how what they are learning is important and applies in "real life".

Open Culture is a great site with a lot of resources on education. 

20 Things I Learned...

20 Things I Learned about Browsers and the Web is a online "book" from Google that describes 20 different things about the internet, web browsers, and online applications.

The book is well written, easy to understand, and nicely designed. Some of the "things" are: the internet, cloud computing, web apps, html/javascript/css, HTML5, 3D in the browser, staying safe online, plugins, and open source.

"20 Things..." is a great way to learn more about the internet and WWW and can be used with students to teach them about the internet.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Crocodoc is a free, online service that allows you to upload and markup documents, including PDF files. You can not actually edit the PDF file, but can add text, highlight, draw, and even strikeout text. When you strikeout text, it opens a new text box above the strikeout for you to edit.

I used it recently to make a change to a physics lab I use with my students. It is a PDF file and I just wanted to make some small changes to the procedure. I uploaded the file, make the markups, and downloaded it. No account is necessary.

You can create an account and store files on the system. It even allows multiple people to markup and collaborate on work. Crocodoc works with PDF files, Word Documents, images, and PowerPoint presentations. You can view and mark up your files online. The documents can be shared with others who can all mark the files up collaboratively. You can make revisions, highlight or strikeout text, add notes and comments. Files are stored on their servers and can be password protected.

This is a great tool for educators and students to use for sharing work, working collaboratively, and providing feedback on work.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Excellent Education Model - WPI's Plan

Last night I saw a Tweet from Gary Stager "garystager: @chrislehmann Why not make high school like a great college?"

I thought that this was a great idea! I know college was a great experience for me and I learned much more than just content. In fact, I feel that my undergraduate degree prepared me for anything I want to do in the future. Let me explain.

I went to Worcester Polytechnic Institute, in Worcester, MA. WPI is an excellent school, highly ranked, and offers an excellent educational experience. The school is small, with only 3,400 undergraduate students. But, the school is well equipped and well run.

The secret behind the school's success is the unique curriculum, called the WPI Plan, consisting of 4 quarters instead of 2 semesters, 3 large projects, and course curriculum that are mainly project based. Each undergraduate has to complete a Humanities Sufficiency Project, an Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP) and a Major Qualifying Project (MQP).

The Sufficiency is a 3 credit project and course sequence in the humanities which ensures that all WPI graduates are well rounded. Instead of students having to take meaningless core courses, they develop their own plan and sequence. I took a writing course to help improve my writing skills and then took a sequence of courses in US Government and Foreign Policy before doing my project on the political use of air power in the Vietnam war.

The IQP is a 9 credit project done in the junior year which relates science and technology to society. My group did a project on the Quality of Technical Education in the United States. As part of it, we did research on different programs, school systems, number of students taking technical majors (engineering, science, etc.) and then surveyed current engineers and scientists about their college education and what they thought was good and bad about it. We also looked at how well high school's were preparing students for these types of college majors.

The MQP is a 9 credit project done in the senior year similar to a Master's thesis. My group designed a Two-Stage-To-Orbit space craft. We had to do everything from project planning, to engineering design and analysis, to working with NASA (who sponsored the project) to get information and feedback. The project then had to be presented and defended in our department.

The project based curriculum helps students learn content and develop problem solving, communications, and teamwork skills. It also helps develop ethics and responsibility in the students. I found that my WPI education has prepared me for my career as an engineer, as well as an educator, and served me well in many capacities.

This plan stresses project based learning. Why? Because back when they developed the Plan (over 30 years ago) they knew that the only way to truly master subject area content is to apply it. They also knew that students needed to develop teamwork, communication skills, problem solving skills, creativity, critical thinking, and research skills (sounds like "21st Century skills" doesn't it?). WPI's symbol is the two towers of the first two buildings on campus. Lehr und Kunst. German for Theory and Practice, it's WPI's founding motto and the principle that still underlies the academic programs today. In class, in projects, and in research, students and faculty put knowledge into action to make the world better.

The projects are an integral part of the Plan. All classes are expected to use projects in their curriculum and the school has the three projects that all students must complete. The classes are taught by professors who are very dedicated to education, not just research. Each class is project based and emphasizes critical thinking and problem solving over memorizing data and facts.

I think that WPI was ahead of the game with their plan, considering this is the route that high schools and even middle schools are going. K-12 education is starting to realize how important these skills are and that project based learning is a great way to engage students while teaching them content and other needed skills.

I think that we can make more schools like WPI and do a better job of teaching our students the skills they need to know: teamwork, communications, problem solving, critical thinking, self-education and lifelong learning.

The students at WPI are given more control over their education by having the freedom to choose what they want to learn and how they are going to learn it. There are not a huge number of unneeded and useless "core" classes for students to take. Students create their own humanities program and their own educational plan. There is space in their schedule for them to take elective classes to explore new areas and topics. Students learn the basics and develop a fundamental literacy in each subject. Students do not memorize formulas and facts. They learn how to apply their knowledge to real-world problems and situations. For example, in Thermodynamics, we were taught the three laws of thermodynamics in depth. Then we were able to apply these to any situation instead of learning 10-15 different equations for different situations. This is in contrast to many schools who teach students every little equation for specific situations instead of teaching them the basics and how to apply the basics to any situation.

All of the learning, research and projects all have a purpose beyond just for class. Projects are all real-world applications or really are real-world projects. Student projects have included working to shore up the canals of Venice, design water systems for villages in Africa, developing medical equipment for disabled or sick patients, designing safety features for cars, and much more. This learning with a purpose gives meaning to what everyone is doing. This is very important in education.

WPI stresses teaching over research also and is very committed to the quality of the professors. Professors who have issues with their teaching or have poor reviews by students (each class has a evaluation form done by every student. These are taken seriously) are given support and help in changing and improving their teaching. They are not vilified. They are supported and helped and that means that they become better educators.

The WPI Plan is an excellent model for schools to use as a way to make education more personalized, engaging, relevant, and effective in preparing students for the future. The education there goes beyond preparing them just for the major they are in. The education prepares students for life. They are prepared to continue their education, adapt to new situations, and even change careers from engineering to education. It is truly a unique and effective way to teach and learn.

Related Posts:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Export Facebook contact emails

Here's a website I think you'll like: Lifehacker, tips and downloads for getting things done - Export Facebook contact emails

Great way to get your friends' email addresses out of Facebook.

-- David Andrade
Sent from my Palm Pre+

Recent Resources I've Posted on Twitter

I post a lot of things to Twitter that I don't necessarily post as an article on my blog.  Twitter is a great tool for learning and collaborating with other educators. It is an essential part of any Personal Learning Network (PLN).

Here is a sampling of some of the sites and resources I've posted or retweeted from others.

Student Owned Devices Save Districts money - http://goo.gl/eS1y0 - #edtech, #edchat, #education via @convergemag

 View New Panoramic Photos in Google Earth - http://goo.gl/L2O0O - via @rmbyrne - #edtech, #google, #edchat, #teachtips

Top 20 Websites No Teacher Should Start the 10-11 Year Without - http://goo.gl/5CDW - great list of some great sites for educators #edchat 

 How to import PowerPoint into MovieMaker - http://goo.gl/i3z1 - #DENSI, #DEN, #edtech, #edchat, #teachtips

RT @mcleod: RT @chrislehmann Twitter is the virtual faculty room... resources, jokes, life, conversation. Good stuff.- great description!

zecool: This week: free online sessions at the Global Education Conference http://t.co/AeCcZZHBackchannel tag: #globaled10

#TeachMeet NJ Unconference is March 5th at Rutgers U. Teach. Learn. Grow. It's FREE! Register to come! http://bit.ly/cb7GnQ#education

Top Rated @Palm#webOS tips - http://goo.gl/lW11f - great resource for all #webOS users. Via @precentral

RT @davidwees: New blog post: Classrooms are like buses. http://wees.it/di #edchat - interesting, and accurate, analogy! 

Free Alternatives to the Departing GOOG-411 - http://goo.gl/scmIO - #edtech, #technology

NOVA - Explore the Galapagos http://goo.gl/fb/2WFOt#edtech, #edchat 

SugarSync Ups Its Free Accounts to 5 GB! Includes existing users! Check out more about Sugarsync here: http://goo.gl/iV39 #edtech, #techtips

DEN: Visited DEN Global blog recently? This would be a good time! Now ALL the Leadership Councils are in the flow http://denblogs.com 

RT @rmbyrne: Teachers: Please stop prohibiting the use of Wikipedia | ZDNet - http://zd.net/dB73Z0 - I find Wikipedia to be a great source 

 djainslie: top educational tools for learning- my 2 cents http://bit.ly/8ZA6oi#edchat #teaching

ShellTerrell: A fantastic read! Transformative or just flashy educational tools? http://bit.ly/appSgQ#edtech #edchat by @datruss

 Larryferlazzo: The Best Places To Learn Web 2.0 Basicshttp://bit.ly/bdA6oN 


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