Sunday, March 25, 2007

Class Projects, Teacher Videos, and 21st-Century Skills

I’ve read some interesting blogs and viewed some thoughtful videos this week. I think you’ll find taking the time to look at them worthwhile.


When I read David Warlick’s blog (, I was excited to see some very interesting examples of student and teacher use of digital skills (e.g., distance learning, video, spreadsheets) and Web 2.0 applications (e.g., wikis, social networking, blogs) in the same lessons. Check David’s blog entries from March 23 and March 24, 2007 to read about several teachers and their students who are teaching and learning using today’s tools.

A brief sampling of what I found…
… a grade eight class was delivering reports to a class in a rural part of the province… used Wikispaces for the presentation and the multimedia, including links to video and spread sheet files.

… Chad… posted the information on the class wiki, pointed his students to it and then assigned them to work in teams and invent their own political party. They were required to have a platform, to write speeches, have a mascot and logo, and to present their party to the class, and to utilize all of the vocabulary words and political concepts in the process.

… several of the students created a party web site, using Piczo, which is a social networking site that seems to be favored by youngsters in Canada…


While I was at David Warlick’s blog, I discovered TeacherTube (… YouTube for teachers!

Teachers, administrators, students, parents, anyone can watch videos on TeacherTube. You can join video groups to network with others who have similar interests. You can save favorite videos or create playlists. You can integrate TeacherTube videos on web sites. When you upload your own videos, you can choose to make them public or private. TeacherTube is a free service.

Some of the videos you might want to check out are…
Survivor: The Middle School Classroom (,
Technology Fear Factor in Education (,
Learning in Hand: Administration (,
Inspiration Software with Math Instruction (,
Make Classroom Posters with Microsoft Excel (,
… and the list goes on.


At Will Richardson’s blog (, I learned about the Did You Know video ( created by Karl Fisch and Scott McLeod. Watch the video… and then ask yourself… and your colleagues… what it tells us about using and preparing our students to use 21st-century skills. There’s not one “correct” answer to that question. This is a topic we all need to discuss.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Resources Available at Microsoft's Education Web Site

Have you investigated some of the resources available on Microsoft’s web site for education (

The web site provides resources in five categories:
• Lesson plans for K-12
• How-to articles
• Virtual classroom tours
• Product tutorials
• Computer science curriculum
Geared, of course, for using Microsoft products, many of the resources can be modified to use with Macs as well as with Windows computers.

Lesson Plans for K-12

You can find the lesson plans at A typical lesson plan includes a description of the lesson, information about the lesson plan, a teacher guide, resources and web links, student activity, and ways to extend the student activity.

Lesson plans are available (at in these areas:
• Geography
• History
• Language arts
• Mathematics
• Science and technology
• Social studies

How-to Articles

At, you can learn how to use Microsoft software (Excel, PowerPoint, Word, MovieMaker) in the classroom with these how-to articles.

Excel techniques include creating a timeline, displaying fractions, and making charts and graphs. PowerPoint tips include animating chart elements, creating movie-style crawling credits, developing mini lessons, and showcasing photos. Applying special effects, creating a monthly calendar, designing a bookmark, and using hidden text are among the Word “how-to’s.” Introducing your classroom and an open house movie are listed in the Movie Maker tips.

Microsoft Virtual Classroom Tours

These downloadable PowerPoint presentations ( are creative and constructivist-based. The tours are interdisciplinary. Content areas available include language arts, mathematics, science and technology, and social studies.

Microsoft Product and Technology Tutorials

Microsoft software tutorials ( include techniques for using Excel, PowerPoint, Word, Windows XP, and Windows media. Special guides for educators include using accessible technology and using digital media with Windows XP.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

More Web Sites... Useful and Many Interactive

This list of web sites begins with some sites that are interesting no matter what or whom you teach. The list closes with a few specialized sites for language arts and mathematics. Many of these sites are interactive and will work well with a SMART board or other interactive whiteboard. Enjoy!

Web Sites for Everyone…

The Exploratorium was one of the first science museums to build a site on the web. (Don’t let that stop you if you’re not a “science teacher.” This site will capture your interest no matter what you teach.) The award-winning site has more than 18,000 pages exploring many different topics. The Explore section has activities to guide you to explore a variety of topics such as frogs, global climate change, language, and robots. On the Tools for Teaching page, you can watch the dissection of a cow’s eye, try some hands-on activities, access an extensive digital library, and more. You can also purchase some interesting gifts at the online store. (This site was difficult to evaluate and annotate because I kept becoming involved in the activities!) A brief description of this web site does not do it justice. This web site is definitely a “must visit”!

Lexicon of Learning
Finally… a dictionary for “educationese”!

Project Based Learning Checklists
With project based learning, students participate in projects and practice skills from the academic content areas. This site provides checklists for project products. The checklists are easy to customize and to use.

I am certainly ready for spring… for fresh air and warmer temperatures! With that in mind, these next three sites certainly caught my attention!
Enter a city or zip code to find what meteorologists think the weather will be for the coming week. Choose a state and see an animation of the changes in the weather.

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
This site provides long-term forecasts (eight days).

USA Today Online Weather Almanac
This site provides monthly climate data for cities around the world. Find average monthly high and low temperatures, rainfall, and snowfall.

Old Magazine Articles - Reference & Research skills - grades 6-12
This searchable archive of PDF images of old magazine articles is mainly from the 20th century, but there are also 19th-century entries. The articles include pictures that illustrate the time period. There is some emphasis on the early 20th century among the topics. This primary document site has many useful resources for social studies teachers. (This site is fun to browse even if you have no need to research.)

Librivox - English - grades 0-12

You can download audio recordings (read by volunteers) of books and poetry in the public domain. Search for works by category (fiction, poetry, non-fiction, dramatic works), genre, author, title, or reader.

Web Site for Language Arts…

Basketball Season Vocabulary - English - grades 6-12 has added a themed area for March Madness. Interactive activities use basketball-related vocabulary words. The themes available on this web site can help to make vocabulary development more fun for students.

Web Sites for Mathematics…

Pattern Blocks - Exploring Patterns with Shapes - Mathematics - grades 1-5
This site permits students to “manipulate” pattern blocks online. The activities work well with an interactive whiteboard.

Thinking Blocks - Mathematics - grades 3-8
This interactive mathematics web site has video tutorials, interactive activities, virtual tutors, and more. Topics include addition/subtraction, multiplication/division and ratio word problems. Blocks represent numbers within each mathematics problem. Each lesson includes eight questions, so they can be completed during one class period. There are six lessons in each area.

SAT Math Pro - Geometry - grades 6-12
This interactive web site provides video tutorials and practice for students who are working with mathematics concepts (number properties, ratios and portions, percent, probability, data analysis, algebra, word problems, circles, lines and angles, Roman numerals, triangles, quadrilaterals, solids, coordinate geography and multiple figures). The site has received some very good reviews.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Ways to Use iPods in Education

Ways to Use iPods (or other MP3 players) in Education…

(Are you using iPods in your classroom? Can you add to this list?)

Administrators can…
1. keep contact information for faculty members
2. keep contact information for students
3. podcast the district’s good news to share with the community
4. record meetings

Students can…
5. count calories
6. create a presentation about the community to share at a community event
7. create a travel guide of the country whose language you’re studying
8. create an audio tour for a field trip
9. create and record songs for learning basic facts
10. develop a script and record a story
11. interview leaders, experts, common folks
12. interview other students
13. listen to a book while you read it
14. listen to and record letter sounds
15. listen to radio programs from other countries to help with foreign language and/or social studies lessons
16. make news podcasts for other grades
17. record book reviews / recommendations
18. record interviews for school newspaper articles
19. record pulse rate data during physical activity (PE)
20. record yourself reading
21. store all your class notes
22. store assignments
23. store contact information for friends
24. store portfolios
25. store presentations
26. store reference materials (dictionary, encyclopedia, …)
27. study anytime / anywhere… even without electricity or a network
28. subscribe and listen to podcasts which are tutorials
29. view instructional golf videos
30. watch a video multiple times to better understand a particular content
31. watch instructional videos
32. watch pregame video studies

Teachers can…
33. ask history students to download films to save class time viewing the movies
34. assign student-created “how to” speeches to be podcast
35. create a video podcast to show how a particular dissection should be done
36. create an electronic portfolio of student reading samples
37. create pronunciation guides for foreign language classes
38. create quizzes for students who need to hear the questions
39. create vocabulary flash cards for ESL students
40. create weekly podcasts of class activities for parents and community
41. differentiate instruction by using specialized podcasts with individual students
42. download art pieces for students to study
43. download some newspaper articles to listen to while you’re “on the go”
44. download world folk dance music and instructions for students to practice (for PE)
45. extend learning beyond the classroom
46. have students podcast poems they have written
47. immediately jump to predetermined places in an audio book
48. integrate audio into the curriculum
49. play a famous speech
50. podcast classroom presentations
51. podcast students’ most-asked questions
52. produce content that is not otherwise available
53. provide video, audio, and/or images to help a student who has been absent catch up
54. record comprehension exercises for students
55. record presentations you hear at conferences
56. record test questions so that special education students can have tests read to them
57. show your PowerPoint slides with an iPod and a projector
58. store classroom presentations
59. store contact information
60. use music to set the stage for a lesson

Anyone can…
61. download audiobooks
62. store files
63. store movies
64. store photos
65. store songs