Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: Robotics Competition - US

US sponsors a series of local, regional, and national robotics competitions for students aged 6 through 18. US First's mission is to inspire students to learn through the creation of robots for friendly competition. Younger students compete in the "Lego League" while older students compete in competitions with robots made from various metals. US First competitions and competitions like it provide teachers with a hands-on project that students will get excited about.

Free Technology For Teachers: Another Vision of 21st Century Learners

This video was featured on Scott McLeod's blog, Dangerously Irrelevant, yesterday. At first I ignored it because based on the title I thought it would be just another of "those" videos about the needs and learning styles of today's high school or college student. I was wrong. Watch the video (it's less than 2 minutes) to see why I was wrong.

Free Technology For Teachers: Google Offers Online Safety Video

Safety on the Internet was one of the major focuses of Frontline's Growing Up Online episode. Since that episode aired in January, I have had a number of requests from parents and an administrator to talk about online safety with students. One of the items I will include in future presentations about online safety is a new video and web page from Google and Common Sense Media. Google and Common Sense Media recently partnered to produce a video and a webpage dedicated to educating parents and students about online safety. Click here to see the Google page about online safety.

Here is a video from Common Sense Media about online safety.

Free Technology For Teachers: Another New Feature on Google Maps

Google Earth Outreach is full of great resources for anyone teaching or interested in Geography, History, or Earth Science. Google Earth Outreach provides many tutorials on how to use the various features, including some lesser known features, of Google Earth and Google Maps. The video I have embedded below demonstrates how to use the collaboration feature on Google Maps.

Google Earth Outreach has many case studies showing examples of how Google Earth and Google Maps can give a visual representation to an organization or project. For example, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, currently featured on Google Earth Outreach, visually demonstrates the potential effects of drilling and mining in the region. The case studies featured on Google Earth Outreach could be a valuable reference for students.

Here is a short video about using the collaboration feature on Google Maps.

Applications for Educators
The uses for Google Earth and Google Maps in a Social Studies or Earth Science class are almost limitless. In a Social Studies course students and or teachers can use Google Earth and Google Maps to demonstrate where places are in relation to one another. Students can create fly-over tours of significant historical or cultural landmarks. Teachers and or students can use Google Earth and Google Maps to demonstrate any number of demographic statistics including population density, languages spoken, or religions practiced.
In an Earth Science class teachers and students can use Google Earth and Google Maps to demonstrate the location of mineral mine, oil fields, or areas affected by global warming. An Earth Science teacher or student could use Google Earth and Google Maps to demonstrate ares of deforestation, drought, or flooding.
The new collaboration feature on Google Maps allows teachers and students to work on mapping projects without being on the same computer or user account.

Free Technology For Teachers: Kid's Vid - Video Production Tips

This resource, Kids' Vid, has been around for a while, but it's worth revisiting. For the last couple of days I've been talking about blogging and students sharing their work with a wider audience, but what I haven't talked about is how to make their work a product that a wider audience will want to view. Sharing user generated video grows in popularity every day and your students want to be a part of it. Kids' Vid provides great information and ideas about how students can make their video into something that others will want to see and that your students can be proud of. Kids' Vid provides tips on lighting, sound, sequencing, scripting, and more.

Applications for Educators
Kids' Vid provides a nice list of teaching ideas and methods for incorporating video production into the classroom. The methods and ideas presented on the teachers' page of Kids' Vid are appropriate for any content area above the third grade (8 years-old) level.

Free Technology For Teachers: 20 Reasons For Students to Blog

Yesterday I wrote a list of ten benefits for having a class blog. Today I went looking for what other people have to say about the uses and benefits of having a class blog and having students write blogs. I found two great blog posts on one blog on the topic of student blogging. Global Teacher has a list of 20 reasons for student blogging and a great slide show about the pedagogy of student blogging. From a personal standpoint I was glad to see that the my justifications for blogging are similar to those in other parts of the world. One justification for blogging that seems to be universal is providing students with an authentic audience for their work. A second justification for blogging that also appears to be universal is the capacity of blogs to be a vehicle for students of all learning styles to demonstrate their understanding of a particular topic.

Here is the slide show about blogging pedagogy hosted on Global Teacher.

Free Technology For Teachers: My Contribution to the Passion Quilt 08

Over the weekend Marie Coppalaro nominated me to participate in the Passion Quilt 08. I wasn't familiar with the project so I did a little reading about the Passion Quilt then added an image myself. The basic idea of the Passion Quilt is to gather a collection of images from teachers that represent what teachers are passionate about. I'm not a real "touchy - artsy type" so I added an image of a diagram charting the benefits of students using blogs. I choose to add the image because it does a good job of capturing in small phrases all of the benefits of students using blogs that I try to share with others. Looking through the images in the quilt revealed a lot about what teachers around the world are passionate about sharing with their students. One of the reflections I made while looking at the quilt is that regardless of grade level or content area all teachers are passionate about teaching.
Part of the participating in the Passion Quilt is to nominate others for participation. I'm nominating Jeff Bailey (Wicked Decent Learning), Ron Kroetz (Tech Teacher Live), Steve Koekler (an awesome technology instructor), and Jim Wells (another awesome technology instructor).