Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: Kerpoof, kids create and connect!

Kerpoof is a very exciting web application guaranteed to get elementary school students excited about school! Kerpoof lets kids create pictures, write stories, and make animated movies and then share their work with other students online. Kerpoof has a fantastic method for controlling who has access to a child's work through password protection. If someone wants to see a student's work they must get the password from the student's parent or teacher. Teachers or parents are the only people who can create sharing groups and only those invited into the group and given the password can share work with group members.

Applications for Educators
Kerpoof could be used to have students create animated storyboards or time lines.
When I heard about Kerpoof my first thought was, what a great way to have elementary students create projects and share them with students in other parts of the country or world. According to Kerpoof's press release they are currently developing the program in French, German, Spanish, and Russian.
Kerpoof has a great teacher resource page full of ideas about using Kerpoof in the classroom. Kerpoof's teacher resource page even has story pages you can print out for students if your students don't have access to computers in the classroom or if you would like to have students practice off-line before going online. Below I have embedded a demo video from Kerpoof.

Free Technology For Teachers: The Effect of the Expectation Economy on Education

The Expectation Economy is a theory named and developed by Reinier Evers at The basis of the theory is that because consumers are becoming more educated about products and services through the spread of information via the Internet, the consumers are now expecting more from than expenditures than ever before. It is a solid theory and Evers provides a number of detailed examples to support the theory in this article.
As an educator, I found the section of the article about the next generation and their entertainment habits the most interesting. Evers points to three websites designed for children under age six that allow parents to upload a picture of their child and have their child star in a game or cartoon video. Another example of a website designed for kids under six is the children's toy Webkinz that comes with a subscription to a website on which kids can play games as their Webkinz character or interact with other Webkinz. (You can read more about Webkinz here.)

Implications/ Applications for Educators
With the growth in websites designed for the under six age group there will be more and more kids coming into elementary school expecting individualized instruction and interaction. The question of how to hold a child's attention is an ever present question with ever changing answers. Incorporating technology through computer use is one way to grab the attention of students beginning as early as kindergarten.

Here are a couple websites with educational activities designed for kids under six.

Free Technology For Teachers: PBS Frontline available online

The PBS series Frontline produces fantastic documentaries a wide variety of timely and important topics. Last night's episode, "Growing Up Online" is a must see for any parent whose children use the internet. Now many of Frontline's best and most popular episodes of the last 25 years are available for free online viewing in their entirety. Click on the Frontline image to see the list of available episodes. Of particular interest to middle school and high school teachers is the "Inside the Teenage Brain" episode. The teacher center on the Frontline website has some good lesson plans and discussion questions to accompany some the episodes available online.

Free Technology For Teachers: Economics Lesson- Money as Debt

Money as Debt is a useful, if slightly biased, lesson on the banking system. The video holds students' attention despite being a little long (47 minutes). It is an animated story of the development of the banking system and how the banking system continues to work. I've used this video in my class four times and each time the kids have come away with a better understanding of the banking system. The video is available for free download by clicking here or you can watch it right here as I have embedded it.

Applications for Education
The video itself does provide a good lesson on the possible pit falls and problems of the banking system. The fact the video is somewhat biased is a great opportunity to teach students about bias and or propaganda in the media.

Free Technology For Teachers: Organize with Remember the Milk

Remember the is an online organizer that is growing in popularity by the day. Remember the Milk has a very simple and intuitive layout. The menus are simple drop-down menus. The entries you make into your "to do" list can be as brief or as detailed as you wish. Prioritizing and categorizing your lists is a snap. Take a look at the picture of my "work" list on Remember the Milk to get an idea of the basic layout. The lists you create you can share with others, a great feature for people working in teams on long projects. For those of you using PDA's, Remember the Milk can be used on variety of mobile platforms including the Iphone. Those of you using Google Calendar or Ical will enjoy the capability to synchronize Remember the Milk with your calendar.

Applications for Educators
Remember the Milk's s
imple and intuitive layout is great for getting kids to use the program without a lot of distractions or frustrations. Remember the Milk's shared "to do" list feature is very useful for students to keep track of the tasks each group member needs to complete to get a group project done.

Here is what my work "to do" list looks like on Remember the Milk.

Free Technology For Teachers: The Davos Question Part II

Yesterday, I posted a video from the World Economic Forum that is meeting in Davos, Switzerland this week. I posted the question and wrote that it would be a great conversation starter with your students because it is such a large and open ended question, "What one thing do you think that countries, companies or individuals must do to make the world a better place in 2008?" Today I posed the question to my class and they really ran with it. Then I told them that they can actually participate in the discussion by creating a video and submitting it to the convention via a Youtube channel. So today we made a video and we're hoping it gets seen at the convention.

Application for Educators
Participating in the Davos question online through the Youtube channel is a great way to teach students that they can participate and have a say in the direction the global society is moving. Many, if not all, students have used Youtube in some capacity, the Davos question Youtube Channel is a great way to get students excited about global citizenship and meet them where they are.

Below is the first cut of the video made in class today.