60 Second Science

P8012712Secondary Science Teachers,

Looking for a great primer to warm up the science class?  Needing some quick supplementary media to add to your curriculum?  Or do you just want to know what is happening in the science world?  It is a struggle to keep kids excited about science when their main concern is passing the TAKS test instead of truly understanding the concept for something more than a multiple choice answer.  They must be engaged.

Well, 60 Second Science has just the ticket.  It is a part of Scientific American‘s web presence.  You will find topics in categories such as animal and pet, archaeology, biology, computers, Earth science, environment, energy, climate, health, math, physics, and more.  You can visit their blog and read the short posts (which link to more in-depth content for further study), view videos, or even subscribe to their podcast via iTunes.

Some of their recent posts include:

I would say some of this content can be used with elementary grade classes with the right modifications.  Some of the content just might be a bit over their heads.

Thanks to Tim over at Top 101 Web Sites for Teachers for the heads-up.  Keep up the great work, Tim!

Photo Credit: Me; my son “operating” on a frog in a dissection kit made with some type of Jello substance.

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Now SnagIt is free!

Earlier in the week I shared that Camtasia was giving away their older version of screencasting software for free. Now they have added SnagIt to the list of free offerings.

Here is an update from Miguel:

UPDATE: 11/28/2007 – Free Screen Capture program

SnagIt Pro is now giving away retail editions of SnagIt screen capture software for free. Follow these steps to download SnagIt for Free:

1. Get the demo version of SnagIt 7.2.5 via FTP at ftp://ftp.techsmith.com/pub/products/snagit/725/SnagIt.exe
2. Request a SnagIt 7 Software key

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Track Animals using Google Earth

P4200262Love Earth is an organization located in the UK and part of the BBC.  Their work is geared toward educating the public about the earth’s systems and its inhabitants.  Loaded with beautiful still photos, videos, and blogs, this site is a powerful resource for any grade level science teacher. 

One of the cool things I found here is tracking animals and their migratory patterns.  Love Earth presents their data via Google Earth.  Key points in the pattern from the weekly updates have blog entries and other media to extend the experience for the user.  Take my advice, science teachers.  Check this site out.  The kids will absolutely love the experience it provides.

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Is Anyone Listening? Does Anyone Care?

I wrote this post a year ago. Has anything changed?

old classroom

School 2.0 – Join the Conversation
Reading habits change in new on-line revolution – Houston Business Journal:

Younger Americans, who buy only about 4 percent of books sold, have crafted their own environment for print media — non-traditional, of course. Kids, teenagers and young adults spend hours (and hours) on the Internet writing and reading (which should be of some comfort to English teachers). Bored with old-fashioned e-mail messages, kids prefer “synchronous chat.” Through MUDs (multi-user domains), young folks have transformed the solitary activity of reading into a highly social medium….

Nevertheless, I am excited and exhilarated by today’s electronic exchanges. The medium has changed, but the skill of reading is alive and well.

Writing is still essential, even if the style is mutating to “Internet casual.” Format aside, communication remains essential to getting your message across, and words are still the core components of the message.

The next generations are as hungry for knowledge as any we’ve seen — and, with the spread of electronic media — will likely be as literate as any other. – Dr. M. Ray Perryman is president and chief executive officer of The Perryman Group and economist-in-residence at the Edwin L. Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University

It is good to see that the higher ed folks are paying attention to the changing habits of today’s student culture. I wish I could say the same for the K-12 crowd. Videos such as this are great ways to demonstrate a visual of the problems we face in the classroom today. Instead of preparing our students for the world they will face (and one we have not even seen yet), we put them in the same setting as those that we, our parents, and their parents sat in. Is this just our lazy way as teachers of saying we came, we taught, we tried? Are we not concerned that we are sending students out unprepared? Do we not understand that the world is changing so quickly that half of what a student learns their first year of college is outdated by their third year? Are we unaware that there are more students in China taking the SAT test in English than in the Untied States? Do we simply not care that the top 10% of the population in China equals the total population of the United States and the top 25% is more than the total population of North America? We are not just competing with the neighboring school districts anymore. We are (or at least should be) preparing our students to compete against the world.

Will it take fear as David Warlick contemplates:

2 Cents Worth » Scare Em!

Is this a legitimate avenue for affecting change? Does fear motivate people to change? Might it motivate reluctant teachers to modernize their practices?

So is it the right thing to do? Do you think it is even possible to scare teachers into this type of paradigm shift in a K-12 setting? Do you see the need for this type of change in thought and instruction?

Camtasia for FREE!!

If you have ever wanted to be able to record what you were doing on your computer screen for either archive or playback at another time (think tutorials, review, video, etc), then this is the software you need. Camtasia has long been recognized as the leader in screencasting software. The only downside is that they do not have a Mac version yet, but you never know. I heard rumor it might be in the works.

So, thanks to a post by Miguel Guhlin on this offer, you can go download Camtasia’s last version (3.1) for free. Considering the newest version (4.0) runs around $100 or so, this is a great deal. Take advantage of it. It is an awesome tool to use in the classroom.

Download here.
Get your software key here to unlock it.
Check out some tutorials here.

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Blog for PD Credit

“Sometimes I think my blogging is self-assigned professional development – forcing myself to take the time to think more deeply about certain ideas.”

The Fischbowl: Who’s the Audience?

Have you ever thought of blogging in this way? It is what drives me in this area of the new web. As an information junkie, I am always trying to figure out a more efficient way of learning more in less time. Blogs eliminate a lot of the searching I had to do before because there are so many people doing the work for you now. I challenge you to blog for this reason if no other. While the state might say you have to get PD hours, make them useful. Remember, you can count the time you spend blogging and reading for a portion of the time. This is what Texas law reads:

Texas Administrative Code Title 19, Part 7, Chapter 232, Subchapter B
(c) Participation in interactive distance learning, video conferencing, or on-line activities or conferences.
(d)Independent study, not to exceed 20% of the required clock hours, whichmay include self-study of relevant professional materials (books,journals, periodicals, video and audio tapes, computer software, andon-line information) or authoring a published work.

Take advantage of it and gain ownership of your own learning today.

More Free Media Resources for Educators

I found a neat collection of free videos that are online for streaming right to your PC/Mac for many purposes. Take a look at the following topics.

  • Teaching Reading 3-5 Workshop- This video workshop will show intermediate elementary teachers how to help their students transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” Supplemental classroom programs provide further exploration of each topic.
  • Teaching Reading K-2 Workshop- This video workshop addresses critical topics in teaching reading for K-2 teachers.
  • Teaching Reading K-2: A Library of Classroom Practices- This video library shows the teaching practices of K-2 teachers across the country as they introduce their students to reading through a variety of methodologies.
  • Teaching The Children of Willesden Lane- This set of video and Web resources with curriculum guide helps middle and high school teachers teach the Holocaust-survival book The Children of Willesden Lane by Mona Golabek.
  • Write in the Middle: A Workshop for Middle School Teachers- This video workshop helps middle school teachers learn effective practices and strategies for writing instruction.

Teaching Multicultural Literature: A Workshop for the Middle Grades- This video workshop introduces middle school teachers to ethnically diverse American writers and offers dynamic instructional strategies and resources to make works meaningful for students.

Annenberg Media

These are just a very few of the listed topics. They range from administrators creating great campuses to science(tons) to math (tons) to pedagogy to many literacy-based videos. The registration is free. Don’t miss out on this. There is a lot of great information provided here by Annenberg Media whose goal is:

Advancing Excellent Teaching in American Schools Annenberg Media uses media and telecommunications to advance excellent teaching in American schools. This mandate is carried out chiefly by the funding and broad distribution of educational video programs with coordinated Web and print materials for the professional development of K-12 teachers. It is part of The Annenberg Foundation and advances the Foundation’s goal of encouraging the development of more effective ways to share ideas and knowledge.Annenberg Media’s multimedia resources help teachers increase theirexpertise in their fields and assist them in improving their teachingmethods. Many programs are also intended for students in the classroomand viewers at home. All Annenberg Media videos exemplify excellentteaching.

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National Geographic Lesson Plans for ALL Grades

If you found yourself in need of some geography lessons for your K-12 classroom, then do I have a deal for you.  National Geographic Xpeditions has been nice enough to share lessons, projects, and maps on their site by grade level. There is a wealth of information available for educators to take advantage of. 

Here are just a few of the items that the My Wonderful World blog pulled from the site to share:

  • Map your class! – (can be adapted for various age groups)Have students locate on the map (e.g. with removable stickers) countries from which their families immigrated to the United States.
  • 20 QuestionsPlay – 20 questions with a world map!
  • Name Game – Have students name a world location for each letter of the alphabet.Name GameHave students name a world location for each letter of the alphabet.
  • Country Comparisons – Have students research and then compare and contrast two countries.
  • Map your community – Have students look at a variety of maps, and then get them to create a map of their neighborhood or school with a key, title and appropriate map conventions.
  • Locate Earth’s Physical Extremes – Maps4Kids – Maps4Kids provides a series of “top 10” lists about the Earth.
  • Locate Earth’s Political Extremes – Maps4Kids – Maps4Kids provides a series of “top 10” lists about the Earth.
  • Seven Wonders – Maps4Kids – Use the lists at Maps4Kids to have students locate and research the history of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
  • Top 10 lists – Have students use other available resources to research and compile their own “top 10 lists” and locate them on the map.

These are just a few of the items National Geographic has made available.  Go try it out for yourself.  There are some awesome resources out there for free for EVERY grade level. 

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Hey English teachers! Show your students this citation machine!

Dave Warlick has a great little tool you might find useful in your own writing as well as with research projects with your students. The Citation Machine will work in either APA or MLA format. Want the citations to look right? He seems to have it down pat.

WARNING: This little tool gets very slow around the end of semesters when college kids begin final drafts of their papers. I guess that shows you how popular a tool it really is, huh.

Try it out.

Podcasting in the Classroom

Tim Wilson, a technology integration specialist from Minnesota, hosted a session at NECC last year (NECC will be in San Antonio June 2008). The audience put together a list of classroom uses for podcasting. Tim blogged about it and offers this list:

Collect field notes during a science field trip
Living museum, researching characters
“Radio shows”
Creating audio guides for local museums
Teacher powerpoints
Early language learners, (rhyming, etc.)
Staff development
Language learners recording assessments
Discovery Education videos
Science reports
Art projects
Digital portfolios
Weekly classroom news
Serial storytelling
Reflective journals
Summaries of school events
Broadcast school sporting events
Roving reporters
Capturing oral histories (family history)
Podcast vocab words and spelling lists
Flashcard practice with iFlash
Musical compositions
Soundseeing tours

Since podcasting is new to many in our school district, I thought I would offer this list up and see if anyone was interested in trying it out.  If you are, give me a call.  We have the equipment available for our staff to try these things out.

Any other ways to use podcasting that you can think of?

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