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Friday, March 7, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: Build Your Own Educational Games

ClassTools.net is a free service teachers can use to create their own educational games. Games made on ClassTools.net can be shared via email or embedded into a blog or website. (Yet another use for having a class website/ blog). ClassTools.net provides fifteen easy to use templates with which teachers can make educational games for their students. There are also pre-made games on ClassTools.net which teachers will find useful.

Applications for Educators
Games and puzzles are good review tools for students. The templates on ClassTools.net are flexible enough to be used with students of most grade levels and content areas. Rather than relying on pre-made games
from expensive textbook publishers take advantage of the flexibility of the ClassTools.net templates to create games specific to your curriculum and your students.

Below I've placed a sample geography game made using ClassTools.net.



















Click the image to play the game.

Free Technology For Teachers: Encyclopedia of Earth

The Encyclopedia of Earth, a project of the National Council for Science and the Environment and Boston University, is a great resource for reliable earth science information. The Encyclopedia of Earth has more than one thousand titles in its collection. The Encyclopedia of Earth is connected to the Earth News which covers the latest writings and research related to Earth science news. The Earth Forum which is also connected to the Encyclopedia of Earth is essentially a very well moderated wiki of writings by experts on Earth science.

Applications for Educators
The Encyclopedia of Earth and its related websites contain valuable, reliable information for science students and teachers. Most of the material on the Encyclopedia of Earth seems to best
suited for high school students and some middle school students. The ebook collection on the Encyclopedia of Earth contains some good writing providing little more depth than the articles in the main section of the website.

Free Technology For Teachers: Higher Teacher Pay Leads to Better Education?

Elissa Gootman has an article in today's New York Times about a charter school in New York that plans to pay its teachers $125,000 while paying administrator's $90,000. The idea for the school comes from Zeke Vanderhoek who built a very successful test prep/ tutoring company that paid its tutors $100/ hr. Vanderhoek believes that putting more resources into personnel will attract better teachers leading to improved student achievement. Here's a quote from Mr. Vanderhoek defending his idea, “I would much rather put a phenomenal, great teacher in a field with 30 kids and nothing else than take the mediocre teacher and give them half the number of students and give them all the technology in the world.” Read the full article here.

The article makes a fairly good case for higher teacher pay. The shortcomings of the plan are a limited number of electives, a high student to teacher ratio, and limited technology spending. The limited technology spending is particularly troubling. How does the school teach students 21st century skills if it lacks the technology of the 21st century? The plan also excludes all but the top tier of students thereby creating classes of schools based on the desirability of students. How does Mr. Vanderhoek plan to attract teachers to schools filled with less desirable students? Will he pay the teachers at those schools even more money?

What do you think of this idea? Does Mr. Vanderhoek's plan have a chance of working?

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