Tuesday, March 31, 2009

5 Fun, Interesting, and Educational Things on Twitter

The response to the Twitter finds that I've posted over the last few days has been very positive. As a couple of people have pointed out to me in emails, these links help them cut through some of the clutter that comes with following a lot of people on Twitter.

If you're new to Twitter and looking for other teachers to follow, take a look at the teacher section on We Follow. We Follow is a directory of Twitter users.

1. Earth Day Groceries Project from @mahlness

2. The Seating Plan Video from @noeljenkins

3. Recession Through the Eyes of Children from @quesea

4. Are Tweets Copyrighted? from @StacyBrice

5. Text to Speech: Hear What You Type from @RipTideF

PE Zone - Lesson Plans and More for PE Teachers

PE Zone is one of the better web resources for physical education teachers that I've found in quite a while. PE Zone offers teachers lesson plans, slideshows, videos, and podcasts for physical education teachers to use in their courses. The lessons are divided by activity and age group.

Applications for Education
PE Zone is a good resource for physical education and health teachers. PE Zone also offers a list of blogs and RSS feeds to help teachers find even more resources for physical education.

Here are a couple of related resources that may be of interest to you:
Learn to be Healthy - Lesson Plans
Winter Physical Education Activities

Interactive Numberline from Oxford University Press

The Oxford University Press has a neat and simple interactive numberline that young students can use to learn to locate numbers and sequence numbers. The numberline presents the student with a number to locate within a range. Once the correct range of numbers is selected, the student then has to select a smaller range in which to place the given number. This process goes on until the student has a range of less than five numbers. The image below demonstrates the numberline that I just completed.

The Oldies Come to Animoto's Music Library

Animoto is a great video creation service that I've written about numerous times in the past. Animoto was on the list of my 12 Favorite Resources of 2008. Recently, Animoto added 75 new music tracks, including some "oldies," to its collection. Users now have more choices than ever when creating their custom Animoto videos. And remember, Animoto for Education has special, free features just for teachers and students.

Applications for Education
Here is an idea for using Animoto in an English/ Literature course. To get students excited about studying and or writing poetry have them select a poem, record an audio track of the poem being read, then use that audio track as part of an Animoto poetry video. Alternatively, you may try simply having students select music and images that they feel captures the tone and message of a poem.

Another way to use Animoto is to have students collect images of the community they live in and put them into an Animoto show. Students should select images that they believe best represents their community. Then connect with another school willing to share Animoto movies about their local community. Connecting to another school could be accomplished through a general inquiry on Twitter or through a service like ePals.

Here are a few related resources that may be of interest to you:
Animoto for Education
Photo Peach - Quick and Easy Audio Slideshows

Links You Might Have Missed - Presentation Tools

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Zoho Writer Now Works Offline Too

I haven't written about Zoho Writer in quite a while because, truth be told, I use Google Docs for all of my document creation. For the record though, I prefer Zoho Show over Google Presentation and use Zoho Presentation to create and host most of my slideshows.

Yesterday, Zoho announced an improvement to Zoho Writer that allows users to work on their Zoho Writer documents without being online. Google Docs has had this option for a while so it was only a matter of time until Zoho Writer offered it too.

Applications for Education
Being able to use Zoho Writer and Google Docs offline allows students to write and edit then sync-up documents when they're back online. This is a particularly useful option for students who have laptops, but don't have Internet access at home or at any other place where they do school work without an Internet connection.

Here are some related articles about Zoho that may be of interest to you:
Zoho Docs - Chat and Edit at the Same Time
Sign In to Zoho With Google or Yahoo ID
Zoho Challenge - Online Test Creation

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My Message to One-to-One Naysayers

This morning Maine's largest newspaper, the Portland Press Herald, ran the headline Schools Feel Misled on Laptop Program. By noontime today there were 70 comments on the article. The vast majority of those comments were very critical of program, some were well reasoned, some were not. Most of the negative comments centered around the theme of the state wasting money. Usually, I try to stay out the fray when it comes to state politics, but is one topic that I had to speak up on. Below is my response to the 60+ comments critical of Maine's Laptop Initiative.

I applaud the state's effort to close the digital divide between the "have's" and "have not's" that exists between school districts statewide and countrywide.

Now is the time to invest in education, not after the economy recovers. If we have not prepared our students to compete globally by the time the economy recovers, they will be farther behind than they are now.

I completely understand the concerns of the general public and some school administrators and board members (note, I did not say teachers). And, yes, there is local cost involved in this program. Yes, this investment will require paying for the training of teachers and will require paying technicians to maintain the laptops. The difference is this investment has far more potential for return than paying unemployment benefits, welfare, food stamps, and all of the other assorted freebies the state gives away on a daily basis.

Finally, if you can watch all five minutes of this video and still think that the state is doing the wrong thing, then you need to adjust to the possibility that before too long your children and grandchildren could be the ones assembling consumer goods for India and China.

Does your school district or state have a one-to-one program? What was the initial public response? How does your community feel about the program now?

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Essay Map - Step by Step Help Constructing Essays

Essay Map is a handy tool from the folks at Read Write Think. Essay Map provides students with step by step guidance in the construction of an informational essay. Some of my students seem to struggle most with constructing an introduction and conclusion to their essays. Essay Map is particularly good for helping students visualize the steps needed to construct good introductory and conclusion paragraphs.

After students complete all of the steps in their Essay Map, they can print their essay outline. I have included a blank Essay Map outline in the image below.

Applications for Education
Essay Map is a convenient tool for anyone that teaches writing informational essays. Essay Map is probably too basic for most high school students, but it is definitely a good tool for middle school and elementary school students.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Autobiographical Mapping
Imagination Prompt
Reflective Journal Forms

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