Monday, May 5, 2008

Send Your Students to the Moon!

NASA is planning to return to the Moon and the first step is launching a lunar reconnaissance orbiter spacecraft this summer. On the NASA LRO website people can submit their names to be added to a list of names that will be sent into space with the LRO. Anyone adding their name to the list can print a certificate of participation in the LRO project with their name on it. The NASA LRO website has a great selection of interesting resources that science and math teachers will find useful including the history and development of lunar missions.

Here is a short NASA LRO promotional video.

Applications for Education
The NASA LRO website is full of great resources that teachers will find useful for teaching space science and the history of NASA lunar missions. In elementary schools adding students names to the list being included in the next mission and printing certificates for them could be a nice reward for a job well done on a space science lesson.

Tumblr - The Simplest Blogging System

Tumblr is probably the simplest and easiest to use, free, blogging system available. The process of registering an account and starting a blog takes less than a minute on Tumblr. Tumblr offers a number of simple, clean templates and layouts while not offering so many that students will be tempted to spend a lot of time tweaking their layout. (Students won't be bombarded with "pimp your page" advertisements). Adding blog entries is simple and intuitive. All blog entries appear chronologically and with a date stamp. Comments are disabled by default on Tumblr so teachers having students use Tumblr need not worry about strangers posting comments on a student's blog.

Applications for Education
Getting students to write consistently and keep a journal can be a challenge for many writing teachers. Having students write blogs is one technique for encouraging them to write consistently, pay attention to detail, and take pride in their work. Blogging provides students with a wider audience than they can have with with a paper and pencil journal. Tumblr is a very simple blog program that students can use to practice and improve their writing.

Classic Movies and Education

On List Universe there is a great list of ten classic movies viewable in their entirety on List Universe. Showing movies for the sake of entertaining students is not something I advocate. On the other hand there are some cinematic movies that definitely can be incorporated into an educational lesson.

Embedded below is It's A Wonderful Life as featured on List Universe.

Yahoo Plans to Join Educator 2.0 Community

Yahoo is launching a network for teachers called, fittingly although not creatively, Yahoo Teachers. Like other professional networking websites, Yahoo Teachers aims to connect teachers around the world. The hope and idea is basically a teachers helping teachers concept. When fully launched Yahoo Teachers will allow teachers to find, build, and share lesson plans. The feature that will be particularly appealing to a lot of teachers, is the ease with which one can include state standards into a lesson plan. It appears from Yahoo's video that Yahoo Teachers will adjust to include the state standards for each state based on a user's profile. Overall, the Yahoo Teachers network appears to be well thought out. Whether or not Yahoo is coming to the Education 2.0 community too late remains to be seen. For teachers interested in other professional development networks, Classroom 2.0 and Apple's Learning Interchange among many others are established communities worth visiting.

Here is Yahoo's introduction to Yahoo Teachers.

CircaVie - Photographic Timelines

CircavVie is a neat timeline creation service from AOL. If you already have an AOL screen name you can use it to login and create timelines with CircaVie. CircaVie, like a lot of other timeline builders, allows users to upload images to correspond with the events on your timeline. The images users upload to their timelines can be linked to websites as a means of providing additional information for each event. Timelines created with CircaVie can be set for public or private view. Each timeline can be shared via email or embedding. One of the sharing features that is fairly unique for a timeline creator is the option of burning an RSS feed for updates to a timeline.

Applications for Education
CircaVie is intended for use as personal story telling vehicle. There are certainly educational uses for students building personal timelines. For instance, building a timeline could be a good way for students to organize an autobiography. CircaVie can also be used for building timelines of historical events or current events. The timeline embedded below is a timeline about pop-culture in the 1980's.

The fact that CircaVie is an AOL service shouldn't be overlooked in selecting a timeline creation tool for your class.Many students, particularly at the high school level, already have AOL screen names that they can use on CircaVie. Using their existing screen names will save you and your students valuable class time when starting a new activity.