Friday, May 23, 2008

A Blogger and Flickr Science Project

This video from TeacherTube is a great example of using web 2.0 services in a middle school science project. In this project students chronicled the process of photosynthesis.

Applications for Education
While this particular video is about a middle school science project the same methodology could be employed in a number of content areas and grade levels. In various fields of science students could use Blogger (or any blogging program) to chronicle the stages of a project including the initial hypothesis, testing of variables, failures and successes, and finally the conclusion of the project.

Another great use of blogging in English or Social Studies courses is to have students follow the developments of a news story and blog about their findings and reactions.

A Response to "Thanks for the PC."

CNET ran an article today titled, Thanks for the PC. What do I do with it? The article was written in response to a recent survey in which more than two-thirds of teachers said they were not seeing substantial academic improvements as a result of one-to-one computing programs. The article goes on to cite a recent panel discussion at the Future in Review where the panelists pointed to a lack of "how-to" training for teachers as the reason schools aren't seeing significant improvement. One panelist made the argument that there are hundreds of years of teaching methods based on books and there is only a decade or so of teaching methods with computers.

The panelists are correct. Too often the emphasis from local, state, and national government is on standards and reporting. The standards are written based on old methodology therefore anyone trying to develop new methods to teach with technology runs the risk of not meeting standards. The danger of not meeting standards prevents some schools from trying new methodology including teaching with technology. The safe thing for schools to do is to focus on reporting methods and minor tweaking of old methodology. Until schools make whole-hearted commitments to training teachers on methods and means of teaching with technology, the success of one-to-one computing programs will remain limited.

Scribd Clean - Scribd is Now Suitable for School

Scribd is a very popular free document hosting and publishing service that until last week I had hesitated to post on this blog because of some questionable user generated content. Last week Scribd announced on their blog that they would be removing all any objectionable material that would prevent students and teachers from using the service. I checked Scribd today and I did not find any objectionable material that would prevent me from using Scribd in an academic setting.

Scribd is not a file sharing service in the traditional sense. Scribd is a document publishing service. Users can upload documents and have them hosted on the Scribd website or use the html code that Scribd provides to embed documents into a 3rd party blog or website. Documents uploaded to Scribd can be set to private to public view. If a publisher desires, public documents can be made available for download. Registered users of the Scribd service can comment on documents host on Scribd's website. Public documents can be searched or browsed by category and popularity. In short, Scribd is like YouTube or SlideShare for documents.

Applications for Education
Scribd is a great way to publish documents privately or publicly. Scribd could be used to have students share their work with a small audience (private invitation) or a worldwide audience. As a teacher, publishing lecture notes and outlines is a great use of Scribd. I can upload my lecture notes and students can download them or view them on the class blog whenever they want.

Below is a Scribd document about assessment in Web 2.0
Read this doc on Scribd: Assessment 2.0

Geography Games from I Like 2 Learn

I Like 2 Learn is a website featuring 70 free geography games. There is a series of games for each continent. Each game asks students to identify states, countries, cities, or geographic features. These quizzes and maps are also available as PDF files to print and use offline. The advertising on this website makes me question whether or not I would use the website in the classroom, but the free PDF maps make it useful for offline use.

Science Museum - Free Online and Offline Activities

Science offers fourteen free online activities for students and ten free lesson plans for teachers. The activities and lesson plans are designed for introducing elementary age students to a variety of science concepts through problem solving. Each online game is accompanied by a set of links to support and complement the content each game addresses.

Applications for Education
The online activities are designed for students of elementary school age, but would be useful in middle school setting as well. Each activity will challenge students to solve a problem or series of problems using their prior knowledge or with the help of information they find on the accompanying links. One strategy for enriching students' learning experiences with the online activities is to have them record the new information they gather and the mistakes they make throughout the problem solving process.