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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Google Wave - Initial Impressions

Earlier this week I was given an invite to Google Wave. (I won't say who invited me so that she's not bombarded with invite requests. Sorry, I also don't have any invites to give). Google Wave has been much talked about since Google initially introduced the concept earlier this year. When I got the invite I jumped right on it. I haven't had much time to explore it yet, but I have formed some initial impressions.

So far I like the ability to have threaded conversations with more than one person at a time. It's much like a message board only it can work in real-time. In fact, it's so real-time that you see the other people typing each letter and word. The widgets that you can add to a Wave allow you to have threaded conversations about a map, poll, video, or other media file. In one of my Waves there was a discussion of where to place a placemark on a map that we were looking at.

From a personal learning network standpoint, Google Wave could be a powerful addition to your existing PLN tools. In Google Wave, you can easily add people to a conversation at any time. For example if I start a conversation with person "X" either one of us can add another person from either of our contacts lists. This allows users to make introductions across contact lists.

I'm looking forward to exploring some of the many options in Google Wave, but so far I see it as a powerful networking and conversation platform.

The video below gives a concise explanation of Google Wave.

Science Netlinks - Dozens of Science Lessons

Through Larry Ferlazzo's post about All Systems Go, I learned this morning about Science Netlinks. Science Netlinks offers dozens of lesson plans and online learning activities. The lessons and activities are cover a wide variety of science topics. All of the lesson plans are sorted by grade level, but you can also sort the lesson plans by science benchmark standards. A series of icons also indicates if each lesson plan has a printable worksheet, e-worksheet, or is an interactive experience.

Applications for Education
Science Netlinks provides science teachers with a good collection of lesson plans aligned to the benchmarks for Science Literacy. In addition to lesson plans, Science Netlinks offers a selection of reviewed resource websites for K-12 science teachers.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
The Why Files - The Science Behind the News
Planet Science - Science Games and Lesson Plans
Science Projects and Posters for Elementary Schools

A Lesson Learned from a Small Workshop

Today, I had the opportunity to present at the ACTEM annual conference pre-conference. My workshop was designed to give participants ideas and tools for improving their classroom blogs, websites, and wikis. There were some excellent workshops being offered by the likes of Marco Torres, Wes and Sarah Fryer at the same time as mine as well as an all-day Google Apps seminar. There were nineteen people registered for my session, but only five came. In response to the small number, I altered my plan for the workshop. In hindsight, that was not my best idea.

In altering my plan to try to make it more personal for the attendees, I didn't keep the organization that I had planned. As a result, it felt like (to me anyway) that the workshop did not accomplish the goal of sending everyone away with a new tool to use in their blogs, wikis, and websites. All participants were able to see the tools in action (you can find them here), but my presentation of them was not what I had planned. Every experience can be a learning experience and the next time that I'm in a similar situation, I'll stick closer to my original plan. On the upside, we did have some good conversations about filtering policies in districts across the state of Maine.

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Updated July, 2016

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NOAA Environmental Visualizations

Last night while fumbling around on the NOAA website (looking for snow reports in Rangeley, Maine actually) I came across the NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory. The Environmental Visualization Laboratory provides images, animations, and Google Earth files depicting weather and climate patterns. For example, this visualization depicts the movement of Arctic sea ice.

Applications for Education
NOAA's Environmental Visualization Laboratory provides excellent visualizations that can be used for teaching lessons on weather and climate. For teachers who would like to use Google Earth as a part of their lessons, NOAA provides an excellent guide to using Google Earth for teaching weather and climate lessons.