Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fun and Educational Games for Pre K - 8

I just realized that I haven't shared anything specifically targeted toward elementary school students in a while. Here are a couple of fun and educational game sites offering materials suitable for most subjects taught in pre-K through grade 8.

Fun School produced by Kaboose Inc. has a number of games and activities that can be used online and offline. The parents and teachers page offers some good suggestions for parents that are trying to promote learning at home.

Fun Brain produced by Pearson Education also has great games and online activities. The teachers page provides more resources than the Fun School teachers page.

Slide Share Credit Crisis Contest - There's a Lesson Idea Here

Slide Share, a slide show sharing service, is having a contest in which contestants have 30 slides to explain the current credit crisis. The contest ends in two days so you don't have much time if you or your students (they would have to be high school age at least) want to enter. But, the idea behind the contest could easily be applied to other subjects.

Applications for Education
If your students are too young to participate the Credit Crisis Contest they can still reap benefits from this Slide Share contest. The contest is producing a lot of content about the credit crisis. Some of the content is informative and some of it will raise questions that you can discuss with your students.

Having a classroom contest or school wide "contest" where students show off the work they produced to demonstrate understanding can be good way to get students excited about learning. Every year my school district has a district-wide art show and a district wide "celebration of learning" where students get to share work with their peers, teachers, and parent. The students, especially younger students, really get excited about these events. Using a program like Slide Share or even just a simple wiki could be one way to conduct an online "celebration of learning" in your school.

Simply Box Helps You Organize Web Research

Simply Box is a browser extension that helps you organize and share things that you find on the web. Simply Box is a little different than your typical social bookmarking service because instead of saving and sharing links you can save and share screen captures. The Simply Box browser extension allows you to take a screen capture of a webpage or part of a page, save it, share it, or file it in a "box." The boxes of Simply Box appear at the bottom of your browser. Users can drag their findings into a box. I encourage you to watch the demonstration video to see the service in action.

Applications for Education
Simply Box does essentially the same things as most social bookmarking services and web research organizer. For students that process information better when it is visualized or put in graphic organizers the box concept may help them more than a bookmarking service.

Two other browser extensions that may help students organize web research are Chunk It and Reframe It. Two other web services that can help students organize web research are Iterasi and Wet Mount.

Google Docs Adds Support for Footnotes

Yesterday, Zoho announced a new Zoho Writer layout option. Not to be outdone, today, Google announced an improvement to Google Docs. Google Docs now supports the insertion of footnotes and endnotes. The option for inserting footnotes appears in the "insert" drop down menu. To learn more about inserting footnotes, visit the Google Docs help center or watch a Google Docs tutorial on YouTube.

If YouTube is blocked at your school, you may want to try one of these options.

I'm Going to China!

As some readers may recall, last year my school participated in a teacher exchange program that sent one of our teachers to a school in China and a school in China sent one of their teachers here to Maine. You can read about my colleague's experience here or here.

Yesterday, I found out that I was selected to be the teacher from our school to go to China. After discussing it with my wonderful girlfriend, Denise, I have accepted the opportunity. I have always wanted to visit China and Asia in general. As a poor school teacher this is my best opportunity to see some of the places that I been fascinated by since this first time I read about Marco Polo in my elementary school textbooks.

Here are the details that I can share so far. I will be teaching in Jinhua, Zhejiang beginning in mid-February and returning to the US some time in June or late May. There are other Americans teaching in the same school that I will be teaching in. I will have some time to travel while I'm in China. I am going to try as hard as I can to see Western China including Tibet although that may not be feasible depending on visa restrictions and, of course, the ever-changing political climate in China in regards to Tibet. Other than those details there aren't too many specifics that I can share right now.

While I am in China I plan to continue blogging (my colleague that went last year was able to blog on the blogger platform). I'll continue to try to share free resources I find on the web, but I will also be sharing as much of my experience in China as I can.

Obviously, I'm very excited about this opportunity. I am also a little nervous. As the logistics are worked out and my departure nears I'll keep everyone posted.

If you have been to China I would love to hear about your experience. I also welcome any advice you might have for a 30 year old man going to China for four month.

Here is a Google Map of where I'm going. Be sure to click the "explore" this area link.

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