Tuesday, October 27, 2009

PBS Activity Pack - Music in Every Classroom

PBS Teachers has a relatively new set of features called Activity Packs. Activity Packs are widgets containing links to online and offline activities designed around a curricular theme. Each widget contains activities covering all grades K-12. Widgets can be embedded into any blog or website. There are five categories of Activity Packs; arts, health and fitness, reading and language arts, science and technology, and social studies.

One of the PBS Activity Packs that I found interesting was the Music in Every Classroom widget. Music in Every Classroom provides lesson plans and activities integrating music with other subject areas such as mathematics and language arts. I've embedded the Music in Every Classroom widget below.

Applications for Education
For professional development the PBS Activity Packs could be great widgets to embed in the staff section of a school district's website.

A Cute Lesson About Lions

The Telegraph recently posted this short video of three rare white lion cubs. The video could make a cute introduction to a lesson on genetics as your class explores how traits are passed from parents to offspring.

If you're working with younger students, National Geographic Kids has an informational slideshow about lions designed for elementary school students. National Geographic Kids also offers a short video and a short audio recording of a lion roaring.

National Geographic Halloween Quizzes and Games

National Geographic Kids is currently offering some games, quizzes, and offline activity suggestions for Halloween-themed fun. All of the activities are designed for elementary school students. In the quiz section you will find a quiz about Halloween and a quiz about Edgar Allan Poe. The games section offers a Mad Libs like game about Halloween and a "spooky" e-card game. The activities category offers ideas to students and parents for pumpkin carving designs as well as costume designs.

In addition to the National Geographic Kids Halloween resources, I suggest checking out Larry Ferlazzo's list of Halloween resources.

Live Binders Improves for Educational Use

Live Binders, a good digital portfolio service I reviewed in August, recently added some improved features that will be of interest to educators. Live Binders now makes all binders private by default. Live Binders has also added the option for users to import their Delicious bookmarks into the binders they're creating. Not a brand new feature, but a feature that teachers should be aware of is the presentation mode available in Live Binders.

In the email I received from Live Binders they included a link to this screencast about using Live Binders in education. The screencast was created by Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age. The screencast is embedded below.

Applications for Education
Live Binders is a good, free, resource for creating a portfolio of your student's digital creations. The new default setting is a good thing for teachers who are worried about the privacy of their students' work. The presentation mode could be useful for having students present their Live Binders to their classmates.

The Net(book) Effect on Professional Learning

As some readers know, my school recently deployed nearly 1300 ASUS Eee PC netbooks to our students. This is an exciting time at our school because the creation of a 1:1 environment is leading to some excellent conversations amongst colleagues about what we're doing in our classrooms.

Last Thursday at a workshop run by two excellent educators from South Portland, Maine I spent the day with some of my colleagues (all from different departments) talking about what we were doing in our classrooms and how we can integrate various web-based technologies into our instruction. The first part of the workshop was an introduction to basics of what teachers can do with blogs, wikis, and websites. After the introduction some of my colleagues were very focused on asking questions like, "do I want to make a blog, a website, or a wiki?" Rather than attempting to directly answer the question, I used a tip I got from Marco Torres and asked my colleagues what they were doing in their classes right now. Based on those conversations we were able to determine if a blog, wiki, or website would best help them meet their classroom objectives.

I truly believe that the best lessons are developed through the exchange of ideas with colleagues. The workshop my colleagues and I attended was a great excercise in sharing ideas and learning from each other. Since my colleagues and I received the official announcement that netbooks were going to be distributed to our students, the sharing of ideas between colleagues has been one of the better immediate gains of 1:1 computing.