Monday, March 2, 2009

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

Did you know that today is the birthday of Dr. Seuss? I didn't until I saw that the Google homepage had been changed to spell Google with characters from Dr. Seuss stories. Therefore, it's only appropriate that share some Dr. Seuss online activities and lesson ideas.

The Seussville Playground has fun online games that kids can play and printable resources for offline use. The games and the printable resources are designed with themes to match various Dr. Seuss books. One of the printable resources that I think would be fun for K-2 teachers is the "I Did Something Good" certificate created with a Horton Hears a Who theme. Another online activity in the Seussville Playground is the Seussville Story Maker which helps kids write a Dr. Seuss style story.

The Dr. Seuss Wiki created by Kathy Korty has a nice collection of Dr. Seuss based lesson ideas and activities.

Read Write Think has a good lesson plan based on the book Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?

Interactive Algebra and an Estimation Game

Last week I came across two interactive mathematics activities websites. The first website, Interactive Algebra provides fourteen Algebra lessons divided into three units. To use Interactive Algebra simply choose a lesson and start trying the randomly generated problems. After trying each problem the correct answer and an explanation is provided.

The Eyeballing Game is an interactive visual estimation game. In the Eyeballing Game players are presented with a drawing or a line segment, angle, or shape. Players are then given a task like "find the spot equidistant to all sides" or "bisect the angle."

Applications for Education
Both of the games mentioned above could be good mathematics practice activities that students can use independently. Both activities are worth considering as resources to link to your class blog or wiki.

WebMynd - Google Search + Social Search

Considering all of the great add-ons that are available, it's hard to believe that anyone would not use Firefox. One such add-on that I just installed is WebMynd.

WebMynd does two things for you. First, it creates a visual record of your search and browsing history. Second, WebMynd serves search results not only from Google, but also from wide range of other sources including Twitter. For example, when I did a Google search for the term "igloo" I received Google results on the left side of the screen and on the right side of the screen I had results from YouTube, MSN, and Twitter. I also could have selected results from Flickr, Wikipedia, and even Linked In. The screen shot below is what I saw when did my "igloo" search with WebMynd turned on.

Applications for Education
The option to get search results from social media sites could yield results that might otherwise get buried in typical Google/Yahoo/ MSN searches. For example if you're looking for ideas for Kindergarten activities you might discover through social media results, ideas and resources that wouldn't have appeared in Google results until you got to the 10th, 11th, or 15th page of results.

Being able to go back and visually search through browsing history could be a great resource for students. Some students might not remember the title of a website or why they bookmarked it, but they will remember why they thought it was important when they can see it.

Recession? What Recession?

Today's edition of CNN Student News features a good segment about Fargo, North Dakota. It seems that Fargo isn't feeling the effects of recession at all. This is due in large part to conservative lending and borrowing practices among the banks and consumers of North Dakota. The segment appears about half way through the video embedded below.

Applications for Education
The segment about North Dakota's bankers' conservative lending and borrowing practices provides a nice introduction to lesson about the importance of thoughtful money management.

A couple of other resources about banking that you may want to consider are Common Craft's videos about saving and borrowing money.

Dealing With Data Rot - From CBS

One of my favorite weekend television programs is CBS Sunday Morning. Yesterday, they ran a David Pogue segment about data rot. Data rot is what happens when your data is stored in a software format that cannot be displayed any longer because the hardware has been replaced. Every year I see an example or two of this with some of the veteran teachers in my school who have documents on floppy disks or in an old Mac format. In fact, the teacher who shares the workspace next to me has a stack of old IBM floppy disks (the kind with hole in the middle) that he refuses to get rid of.

Dealing With Data Rot is embedded below.

Applications for Education
There is a lesson in this video for all of us and it's, back up your data in a modern format. Whether it's personal photos or a simply fantastic lesson plan that you don't want to lose, moving your data to a modern format before it's too late is a good idea. The video also provides a good, short lesson on the development of computer technology over the last 40 years.

A good video to complement the one above is The History of the Internet.