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Friday, November 7, 2014

Sights and Sounds of the Berlin Wall

Sunday will mark 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. To mark the occasion, SoundCloud (a German company) has produced a 7 minute 32 second recording of sounds of the Berlin wall. The recording is that length to match the amount of time it would have taken for a sound to travel the length of the Berlin Wall. The recording features sounds of guards, dogs, gunfire, and politicians. Along the soundtrack you will see annotations. Each annotation lists a person who died trying to cross the wall.

The Google Cultural Institute has exhibitions about the fall of the Berlin Wall. Visions of Division is a collection of images, videos, and text documenting the history of division of Berlin. The Fall of the Berlin Wall takes viewers through the events leading to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Watching the fall of the Berlin Wall was one of the moments in my childhood when I realized that I really enjoyed learning about world events. I distinctly remember watching the ABC Nightly News that evening (on and old black and white T.V., we got a color T.V. for Christmas six weeks later). On YouTube I found some clips from that broadcast. I've embedded one of those clips below.


H/T to The Next Web for the SoundCloud recording. 

A Guide to Blogging and Examples of Classroom Blogs

This morning at the ISLMA Conference I gave a short presentation on blogs and social media for teachers and school leaders. There were a few folks who expressed interest in coming to the session, but weren't able to attend so I promised to post the highlights here.

Embedded below you should see my 90 page guide to using Blogger. The guide covers everything from starting your first blog to privacy settings to editing your blog's layout. The guide also includes a glossary of terms frequently used in blogging. Click here to download the guide.




Five important lessons I've learned about using blogs in school:
1. Just ship it. Don’t spend too much time worrying about how the blog looks from a design standpoint because you can always tweak it later. When you’re getting started any of the standard templates from Blogger, WordPress.com, KidBlog, Edublogs, or Weebly will do. The important thing is to get the blog started. As one of my bosses at FedEx used to say, “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.”

2. Send out a blogging mission and permission notice to parents. Your school may not have a policy about student blogging, but it’s still a good idea to send a notice to parents about why their children are blogging. If you work with students under 13, you will want to explain how their privacy will be protected (no faces posted, no last names, pen names, etc). Jen Deyenberg shared a good blogging permission form here. A quick Google search for “blogging permission slips” will generate a bunch of other samples to evaluate.

3. Review Internet safety and etiquette protocols with your students. Planet Nutshell offers an excellent set of cartoon videos on Internet safety.

4. Create guidelines for how the classroom blog is to be used by students. If you’re planning to use the blog for active discussions with students, talk with them about tone. You might make it a classroom activity to develop online discussion norms. If you’re planning to use the blog as place for students to showcase their work, talk with students about how to offer constructive criticism. If the blog is going to include a widget through which students submit assignments, talk about file types and formatting so that you don’t pull your hair out converting a myriad submitted file types.

5. Expect that something will go wrong. You can plan until the cows come home, but there is always something that doesn’t go according to plan. In the case of classroom blogs that could be a mistake you make in posting a link or an inappropriate comment that a student writes. Treat these mistakes like any other mistake that happens in a classroom and turn them into teaching opportunities. If you made a mistake in posting a link or you posted a video that didn’t play correctly, explain what happened to the students so that you can all learn together. If a student posts an inappropriate comment (you should have comment moderation enabled to grab it before it goes live) use that opportunity to review Internet safety and etiquette with the student.

40+ Examples of Classroom/School/ Library Blogs

Bet You Didn't Know - A Short Lesson on Veterans Day

The History Channel has a neat series of short videos called Bet You Didn't Know. These videos provide a short history lesson on various holidays. Veterans Day is next week. If you're looking for a short video about the holiday, check out Bet You Didn't Know: Veterans Day. The video explains the origins of the holiday and why its date of celebration has twice shifted in the United States. The end of the video includes an explanation of the differences between Memorial Day and Veterans Day.


Applications for Education
PBS News Hour has a basic lesson plan about Veterans Day. That lesson plan includes giving this quiz to students before showing them Bet You Didn't Know: Veterans Day.

For more resources on Veterans Day, see this list created by Larry Ferlazzo.