Monday, March 9, 2009

Figure This! Family Math Challenges

Figure This is a series of mathematics challenges designed to be done by students with their parents. Figure This is produced by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Figure This has a total of 80 mathematics challenges that can be tried online or printed in PDF format for offline use.

Applications for Education
Figure This is designed with families in mind although the challenges could also be used in the classroom. Students could work on the challenges in pairs or larger groups.

Big Apple History from PBS Kids

PBS Kids is a fantastic place to find activities and lesson plans for elementary school students. Today, while looking for information about John D. Rockefeller I stumbled upon Big Apple History on PBS Kids. Big Apple History is divided into six thematic sections each containing an interactive timeline to match the theme. The interactive timelines provide small capsules of information. To find more information about each theme students can select from three drop-down menus; "What was Life Like," "Important Events," and "Cool People from the Past."

Applications for Education
Big Apple Kids is a good resource where students can learn about the history of New York City. To help teachers design lessson plans connected to their students' local history, PBS Kids has compiled a list of state-by-state local history resources.

Updates and Improvements to Slide Six

When I initially reviewed Slide Six back in October I was very impressed by it's easy to use to interface. I was particularly impressed by the integrated capacity for adding audio narration to your slide shows. Since my initial review of Slide Six, Todd Sharp the creator of Slide Six, has made some enhancements to the service. The first improvement of note is an updated control panel that is more intuitive than when I first tried the service six months ago. The other notable improvement is the ability to embed YouTube and Vimeo videos into your presentations. You can also attach documents to accompany your presentations.

Slide Six continues to support all Power Point formats, Open Office, PDF, and MOV presentations. It is a very versatile product that students can use to create powerful multi-media presentations. You can try Slide Six without creating an account through the trial uploader. To get a better idea of what you can do with Slide Six, watch the slidecast embedded below.

Applications for Education
Now that Slide Six supports the inclusion of YouTube and Vimeo videos the number of ways that students can create slideshows has increased significantly. Now students can include in their slide presentations videos that they create with tools like Animoto and Remix America. (They would have to upload those videos to YouTube or Vimeo before putting them in the slide show).

There is one last noteworthy aspect of Slide Six for teachers that has nothing to do with the technology of Slide Six, but everything to do with the owner and creator Todd Sharp. As Larry Ferlazzo also noted, the customer service is fantastic by all accounts.

How Much is One Trillion Dollars?

Through Amy Mayer's blog, UR English Teacher, I found this slideshow that visually demonstrates what one trillion dollars looks like. Some of you may recall that Amy was a guest blogger for me last month when I was on vacation. If you missed her blog post about Animoto, Glogster, and Wordle, I encourage you to take a few minutes to read it here.

Applications for Education
I spent about an hour this morning with one of my classes brainstorming ideas for an economic stimulus package. Most of the students were interested in the activity and some were almost too passionate about defending their plan. Still there were some students who struggled to wrap their heads around how much one billion or one trillion dollars really is. The slideshow above would have been good to show to those students.

Here are a couple of related resources that you may have an interest in:
Economics Education Resources from the IMF
FDR and the Banking System

Viewing Earthquakes in Google Earth

Today, through a tip on the Google Earth Blog I learned that the USGS produces Google Earth files for viewing earthquakes. One set of Google Earth files that the USGS produces allows you to view seismic activity in near-real time (the file refreshes every five minutes). The USGS also produces files that allow you to view historical earthquake data. Of interest to US History teachers is a Google Earth virtual tour of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

In addition to the Google Earth files, the USGS produces a good assortment of resources for teaching and learning about earthquakes. The USGS has resources for teachers and for students on every grade level from elementary school through college. Not included in the teachers resource section, but including in the general education page, are these flash animations of earthquakes and seismic activities.

Applications for Education
These Google Earth files from the USGS are great resources for Earth Science, Geology, History, and Geography teachers. The Google Earth files and flash animations provide students with visual depiction of the concepts that they are studying.

A related resource that may be of interest to you is the National Geographic film Violent Earth which you can watch for free through Snag Films.