Saturday, May 31, 2008

Geography and History Education

Here are two useful sites. The first site provides a fun way to review geography. The second is designed to help K-12 teachers improve American history education. Enjoy!

I haven’t played Tetris (here and here) in a long time, so I couldn’t resist trying Statetris.

You determine how well you know the geography of a particular region by playing this Tetris-like game. You begin by choosing an area such as Africa, Brazil, Europe, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Carolina, the USA, or others. Then you choose the difficulty level (easy, medium, or difficult).
  • easy level: labeled shape … non-rotating puzzle piece
  • medium level: name only … rotating puzzle piece
  • difficult level: no names … rotating puzzle piece
Shapes fall from the top and you have to navigate them into their correct locations before the shapes reach the bottom. It's fun and a good review at the same time.

This geography review tool would work well with an interactive whiteboard. Go to to read the TeachersFirst review of and suggestions for using Statetris.

The National History Education Clearinghouse is a central location for K-12 U.S. history education. This is a rich site, definitely worth using by both teachers and students.

Resource categories include: history content, best practices, teaching materials, issues and research, TAH (Teaching American History) grants, and professional development.

  • History Content includes access to pre-approved history web sites and primary source archives, information about historic sites for field trips, research tools, online history lectures, web site reviews, a list of organizations with resources for teaching and learning American history, and an “ask a historian” option.
  • Best Practices includes sections on using primary sources, examples of historical thinking, and examples of teaching.
  • Teaching Materials includes sections on lesson plan reviews, gateway to history lesson plans, state standards, and ask a master teacher.
  • Issues & Research includes sections on issue roundtable, research briefs, and special topic analysis.
  • TAH Grants includes sections on the TAH project database, project spotlight, lessons learned, and the TAH listserv.
  • Professional Development includes sections on membership organizations, online courses, grants & fellowships, workshops & lectures, conferences, and calendar of events.


Computer Maintenance and Security

Atomic Learning is again offering (for a limited time) a free tutorial series. This time it’s a workshop on computer maintenance and security. Although the series is designed for computers with the Windows operating system, those using Macintosh computers will also find useful information.

The tutorial series examines backup, cookies, firewalls, free virus scanners, junk e-mail filters, malware, phishing, pop-ups, safer web browsing, spam, spyware, storage, safer passwords, uninstalling unwanted applications, and wireless network security. This workshop is worth checking for both you and your students.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Google Maps + wiki = WikiMapia

WikiMapia ( is a collaborative mapping tool that combines Google Maps with a wiki system. Users can add information for any location on the earth to this online map and satellite imaging resource. More than 150,000 users have added more than 7,000,000 locations at this point.

Alexandre Koriakine and Evgeniy Saveliev created WikiMapia, one of the top 1,000 web sites visited. Their goal was to describe “the whole world." You can view this world with satellite, terrain, or hybrid maps. More than 60 languages are supported.

To add a location, click on Add Place and follow the simple instructions. You draw a rectangle at the spot, provide a title and choose a location type (such as museum). You can include additional information as well as a photo and/or a YouTube ( video.

An upcoming place is a new place that needs to be verified. Locations added by new or unregistered users must be verified. That is accomplished by the location’s receiving enough positive votes.

Basic tools for measuring distance and land area, and mapping IP addresses to locations are available from the GeoTools menu at the top of the page. A GPS receiver can be connected to WikiMapia using a plug-in program (Windows only). To connect WikiMapia with a GPS receiver download the software from the WikiMapia site. Unzip it, start it, and follow the directions.

A WikiMapia data layer for Google Earth is also available.

I added our local historical society (Lake Township Historical Society) museum to WikiMapia as I tested it. Here’s an embedded portion of the WikiMapia map that includes the museum:

And here’s a link to the same site:

Classroom uses for WikiMapia by both students and teachers include…
• history,
• geography,
• science: coastal resources, landforms, changes of earth's surface,
• mathematics: latitude and longitude, and
• literature.

How would you use WikiMapia in your classroom?

Useful links…

Monday, May 19, 2008

Summer Plans

What do you plan to do this summer?

❒ Attend a seminar?
❒ Bike or hike?
❒ Create… or expand… your personal learning community?
❒ Explore Second Life?
❒ Find… and then read regularly… a blog that inspires you?
❒ Learn a new application?
❒ Listen to podcasts?
❒ Plan a digital storytelling project for your classes?
❒ Read a book?
❒ Research ways to use blogs, podcasts, or wikis with your students?
❒ Spend more time with family and/or friends?
❒ Take a class or workshop?
❒ Travel someplace new to you?
❒ Try a new recipe?
❒ Use a wiki to share valuable information with others?
❒ Use an aggregator to organize your reading?
❒ Use Skype?
❒ Visit a museum?
❒ Write a blog?

You’ll find tips to help with many of these ideas in previous entries in this blog. Use the search box at the top of the page or the labels on the right side of the page to help you search through the blog to find entries on specific topics.

If part of your summer plans are to learn a new application or two, you may be interested in what I learned from Constance Brown. She told me about the Custom Guides web site. You can download and print--for free!--useful reference guides from this site. You can use these printable quick references or distribute or share them.

Some of the applications these custom guides are available for include…
  • Acrobat
  • Apple Mac OS
  • Dreamweaver
  • Fireworks
  • Flash
  • Internet Explorer
  • Microsoft Access
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Microsoft Publisher
  • Microsoft Windows
  • Microsoft Word
  • Mozilla FireFox
  • Photoshop
  • Photoshop Elements

I’m always on the outlook for quality, free clip art which is appropriate for school use. I am delighted with what I found at An artist created the clip art for use by teachers and students. It can be used in the classroom, for homework assignments, and for projects. You can see some of the clip art in the poster in this blog entry. Categories include language arts, science, social studies, mathematics, holidays, and other subjects.

One of my plans for this summer is to read Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams.

I’ve read a lot about wikinomics. It’s time to read the book! Wikinomics describes
how to prosper in a world where new communications technologies are democratizing the creation of value. Anyone who wants to understand the major forces revolutionizing business today should consider Wikinomics their survival kit.

This wiki describes web-based tools and how they can be used in school. Much of the information is based on a survey of more than 600 school media specialists about the use of web-based tools. If you plan to learn a new application this summer, you might want to check out this site.

Did you like the poster at the top of this blog entry? You can use to mix graphics, photos, videos, music and text into posters to illustrate an idea or topic. This site is fun and easy to use. However, you’ll definitely want to check out the tools and the users’ samples which are displayed before using this tool with students.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Tutorials for Microsoft Word and Google Docs

Which word processing application do you use?

Do you use Word, the Microsoft Office word processing application? Have you been using it for a while, but would like to add some new techniques? Or have you been using another word processing application and would like to come up to speed with Word?

Would you like to experiment with an online word processor such as Google Docs?

These are certainly not the only options; however, let’s look at some tutorials for these two for the moment.

Microsoft Word
The versions of Word (designed for Windows) most likely being used now are Word 2003 and Word 2007. For Mac users, it’s Word 2004 and Word 2008.

Word 2003 for Windows
Denise Etheridge’s free tutorial ( provides a simple introduction to Word 2003. The style is illustrations mingled with text. Topics covered include: introduction (toolbars, highlighting, menu commands, new paragraphs), basic features (delete, insert, bold, underline, italicize, opening files, spell check, fonts and font size, saving files), paragraphs (line spacing, indents, alignment), tabs, bullets, printing, and tables (creating tables, navigating, entering and aligning text, adding rows, resizing columns, sorting, deleting, merging cells, headings).

If you have access to Atomic Learning’s subscription-based tutorial series (, you will find introductory, intermediate, and advanced instruction for using Word 2003. Also available at Atomic Learning’s site are tutorials for mail merge and newsletters. Atomic Learning’s tutorials consist of a series of short video clips and are always well done.

TeacherTube has two videos for Word 2003. Creating and Editing a Word 2003 Macro ( demonstrates how to create and edit a macro and how to customize a macro button. Creating Name Badges ( is a “silent” video which demonstrates how to create name badges using mail merge (with the help of Excel). YouTube also hosts videos that teach a variety of techniques for Word 2003. To see what’s available on YouTube, simply do a search for Word 2003 at YouTube’s web site.

Word 2007 for Windows
This free tutorial by Denise Etheridge ( provides an easy-to-understand introduction to using Word 2007. Topics covered include: introduction (document views, keyboard shortcuts, new paragraph, ribbon, scroll bars, toolbar), basic features (bold, italicize, and underline, clipboard, cut and paste, delete, find and replace, fonts and font size, insert, opening a file, saving a file, spell check), paragraphs and styles (alignment, indent, line spacing, opening a blank document, styles), and bullets, page layouts, printing documents (bullets, page size, margins, page numbers, page breaks, preview and print documents). The style in this Word 2007 tutorial is the same as Etheridge’s Word 2003 tutorial: text and diagrams.

If you have access to Atomic Learning’s tutorial series (, you will find introductory, intermediate, and advanced instruction for using Word 2007. Also available at Atomic Learning’s site are tutorials for mail merge and newsletters. Atomic Learning’s tutorials consist of a series of short video clips and are always well done.

Bullets and More in Word 2007 ( is one of the videos for Word 2007 that are available at TeacherTube. This video for beginners demonstrates selecting words, line spacing, adding bullets, and working with headers and footers. Creating a Basic Table in Word 2007 ( demonstrates how to create a table when using Word 2007. YouTube also hosts videos that teach a variety of techniques for Word 2007. To see what’s available on YouTube, simply do a search for Word 2007 at YouTube’s web site.

Microsoft Word 2004 for Macintosh
If you already know the basics of using Word 2004, Giles Turnbull provides some techniques that you might want to add to your repertoire: audio notes, scrapbook, and paste options. Ideas for using other Office products are also discussed in 21.5 Things You Can Do with Office 2004 (

If you have access to Atomic Learning’s tutorial series (, you will find introductory, intermediate, and advanced instruction for using Word 2004. Atomic Learning’s tutorials consist of a series of short video clips and are always well done.

Microsoft Word 2008 for Macintosh
Mactopia is a Microsoft web site for Macintosh products. At this site (, you can find instructions for using Word 2008, access to forum discussions, and technical support. Explanations are done with text and diagrams and are easy to follow. In addition to learning how to use Word 2008, you can pick up techniques such as mail merge, adding captions to a picture, creating form documents, and turning off auto features.

This Microsoft site for working with Word 2008 ( has instructions for creating a document by using a template, adding clip art and photos, and adding a cover sheet and a table of contents.

Google Docs
Google provides an online word processor, Google Docs (, that is free, easy to use, and can be accessed anytime/anywhere that you have Internet access. In fact, a new feature allows you to work on your Google documents even if you are not online. One of the best features of Google Docs is the ease with which you and others can collaborate on the same document.

Google does a good job of teaching how to use their online word processor, Google Docs. At this site ( you can take a tour to get an overview of Google documents, spreadsheets, and presentations online or start with the tutorials to learn how to get started (account and settings), work with documents (editing, printing, collaborating, importing and exporting), and more (mobile, offline, RSS feeds, and privacy). Or take your choice of videos created by users at the Google Docs Community ( at YouTube.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Web Sites to Help Teach Science

Many of the helpful science web sites that are available also work well with interactive whiteboards. To find some of these science resources, I again searched three of my favorite sites that continue to add quality web sites to their collections: the Ohio Resource Center,, and the Ohio Treasure Chest of Technology Resources.

The Ohio Resource Center for Mathematics, Science, and Reading continues to add new resources to their collections. Their review process assures that their recommendations are worth considering.

The Thinkfinity site includes resources from several science organizations such as
Science NetLinks, American Association for the Advancement of Science
National Geographic Xpeditions and
Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

Each of these organizations offers lesson plans and teaching materials through their own websites and through Thinkfinity.

Nitrogen Cycling: Manure in the Mix
ORC Resource Number #9389
Grades 9-12
Use this resource to provide an overview of the nitrogen cycle. An accompanying article on the impact of animal waste on the nitrogen cycle and a diagram that asks users to identify components of the nitrogen cycle are useful.

Great Gravidity
ORC Resource Number #10640
Grades 9-12
Students conduct a research project and analyze the data obtained. The project involves setting up and observing an aphid habitat.

Informal Science Education
Links are provided to botanical gardens, arboretums, science museums, zoos, aquariums, and planetariums found in Ohio.

Cleveland Botanical Garden

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Great Lakes Science Center

Ritter Planetarium

Toledo Botanical Garden

Toledo Zoo

COSI Columbus

Dawes Arboretum

Franklin Park Conservatory

Perkins Observatory

The Wilds

The Works: Ohio Center for History, Art, & Technology

Aullwood Audubon Farm

Boonshoft Museum of Discovery

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden

Cox Arboretum & Gardens

National Museum of the United States Air Force

Newport Aquarium,0,0,0

TeachersFirst thoroughly reviews sites and makes suggestions for using those sites in the classroom. They also continue to add new, quality sites to their collections.

Planet Science
Grades K to 12
This website has several components, including…
• News: weekly news updates and features
• Randomise: games and online fun
• Sci-Teach: resources for teachers
• Out There: activities, experiments, and online adventures
• Parents: science activities and ideas
• Under 11s: activities for pre-school and primary students
• Next Steps: career information
• Library: recommended web sites
Resources--many which work well with interactive whiteboards--are provided for elementary, middle, and high school students.

Science Literacy Maps
Grades K to 12
See how science and mathematics concepts fit together and how they build upon each other through the grades. When you click on a specific concept, you will find resources for that topic.

Science Clips
Ages 5 to 11
This site features interactive experiments and quizzes. Activities are provided for plants, sound, forces, health, electricity, magnetism, and other topics. These activities work well with interactive whiteboards.

Science Presentations
Grades K to 12
This site has free PowerPoint presentations (provided by teachers) on science, mathematics, language arts, social studies, and the arts topics for grades K-5 and 6-12.

Seeing Science
Ages 11 to 16
This site provides lesson plans for six themes: life, space, materials, food, environment, and light. Topics include anthrax, forces, energy, space rockets, plastics, nanotechnology, microbe growth, acid rain, climate change, electromagnetic spectrum. Each lesson has a lesson plan, student worksheets, and a multimedia section. Many of the activities work well with interactive whiteboards.

The Ohio Treasure Chest continues to add new resources.

Grade 2
Interactive educational games and activities include crash scene, virtual hip replacement, compound machines, virtual knee surgery, weather, and simple machines. Multiple lesson plans are available for simple machines and weather. I had fun creating a weather map for the news program!

Weather Symbols
Grade 2
This interactive site helps students to identify and describe weather, to identify weather symbols and present information in a simple graph, to create a weather forecast, and to identify activities that can be done in different sorts of weather.

Weather Maker Simulation
Grade 2
Create your own weather at this interactive site using the tropical and polar temperatures and the relative humidity. You can choose to read about weather and learn some of the related vocabulary.

The Great Plant Escape
Grade 4
Students can help Detective LePlant solve mysteries. In the process of solving the mysteries, the students will learn about plants. After the mysteries are solved, the students can participate in a variety of activities such as growing lettuce indoors or completing a crossword puzzle. The students will have fun learning at this site!

The Life Cycle of Plants
Grade 4
Well-done animations illustrate seed growth, parts of a flower, and seed dispersal. Some worksheets are printable.

Zip's Plants
Grade 4
Growth of a plant, plant activities, links to plant web sites, pollination, parts of a plant, and a quiz to check what you have learned are the choices at this site. Simple text and illustrations do the teaching here. The site is easy for students to navigate.

Interactive Science Lab - Sound
Grade 8
Create sounds by striking various sizes of glasses at this interactive site. You can choose to read about pitch and volume and learn some of the related vocabulary.

Waves Tutorial - Part 1
Grade 8
Learn about types of waves, reflection, refraction, diffraction, and seismic waves in this online tutorial which uses animations and audio explanations.

Interactive Science Lab - Earthquakes
Grade 8
Test the effect of earthquakes of v
arious magnitudes at this interactive site. You can choose to read about earthquakes and learn some of the related vocabulary.

Illuminating Photosynthesis
Grade 8
Photosynthesis is explained with animations that (1) show the cycle of oxygen and carbon dioxide between plants and humans and (2) explain photosynthesis at an atomic level. A short but interesting quiz finishes the lesson.