Monday, September 29, 2008

Soshiku - A Student Planner with Text Reminders

Soshiku is a free personal planner designed for high school and college students. Soshiku lets students organize their assignments by course, add assignments, and receive text message and or email reminders before each assignment is due. Students can add assignments to their calendars directly on the Soshiku website or via text message. Registering and getting started with Soshiku is quick and the user interface is very intuitive and easy to learn.

Applications for Education
Soshiku is a good program for students to manage their assignment due dates. The options for assignment reminders can be received via email or text days or weeks before each assignment is due. Soshiku will be good for high school students, but it probably requires a little too much self-discipline for middle school students.

A Close Look at the Large Hadron Collider

Last night 60 Minutes ran a story about the CERN Large Hadron Collider. The videos from that 60 Minutes segment are available on CNET TV. Embedded below is one of the videos from last night's show. You can view all of the videos on CNET TV.

Applications for Education
The 60 Minutes segment about the CERN Large Hadron Collider provides a good examination of the CERN program. From the science of the Large Hadron Collider to the philosophical questions the CERN program raises, there is useful content for science teachers to discuss with students.

If you're looking for a little lighter look at the CERN Large Hadron Collider, you may like the CERN rap video.

Teacher Parent Communication - Blogs and Phones

Last month I created a short slide show titled "Every Teacher Should Have a Blog." The slide show is about the benefits of having a classroom blog. The slide show was constructed for fun and barely scratches the surface of the many uses of blogging. In the last month I've received a number of comments in which people have mentioned that blogging isn't a good replacement for phone calls and emails. I agree, blogging will not replace the need for one-to-one contact with parents. What having a classroom blog does is open up another option for communication with parents and in some cases may reduce the number of emails or phone calls teachers receive about routine matters. For example, when I taught freshmen I would receive a lot of questions centered around transitioning to high school, questions like "what is the block rotation following a three day weekend?" While I was happy to answer that question for parents, a FAQ page on my blog cut down on the number of times that I was answering the same question.

In short, nothing can adequately replace consistent one-to-one communication between teachers and parents, but there are some great technology resources that can supplement and improve teacher-parent communication. Blogs are one of those resources.

(If you're reading this in a RSS reader you may need to click on the blog post title to view the slide show).

The podcast I released two weeks ago also addresses some possible uses for blogs in education.

500,000 Free E-Texts

The Internet Archive is home to more than one million digital resources. More than half of the digital resources on the Internet Archive are e-texts. There are seven sub-categories of e-texts. I spent some time exploring the "American Libraries" sub-category and found quite a few texts that I can use with my United States History students. I also found a number of resources that would be appropriate for use in an American Literature course.

Applications for Education
The Internet Archive is a great place for students and teachers to find digital resources that can be used under a Creative Commons license. The e-texts are especially valuable as supplementary materials for a variety of courses. The e-texts are available as PDF files to save and use on your local computer. I was able to find some good primary source materials that my students will read and discuss in class. In the more than 500,000 e-texts in the Internet Archive there is bound to be something for almost everyone.