Thursday, December 17, 2009

Inside Mecca - National Geographic Film

If you teach any lessons on comparative religions and or comparative culture, this video from National Geographic (hosted by Snag Films) may be of use to you. Inside Mecca is an in-depth look at the principles of Islam, the significance of Mecca, and the stories of pilgrims to Mecca.

Click here if you cannot see the video.

Memorize - Studying With Flashcards & Diagrams

Memorize is a neat service that offers users the ability to create and study sets of flashcards. Memorize also gives users the option to create diagrams for studying.

The Memorize user interface is fairly intuitive. To study existing flashcard sets click memorize on the homepage. To create your own flashcards click "create" on the homepage. Creating flashcards is a simple matter of entering questions and answers into a chart. If you have a long set of questions and answers you can break up that set into multiple parts. For example, if you wanted your students to study the capitals of Europe you could break up the list into three parts that would appear in sequence according to a student's progress.

Finding diagrams to study and creating diagrams is not as obvious as locating the flashcard section of Memorize. Diagrams are buried at the bottom of the Memorize homepage. There is an existing collection of diagrams users can study or you can create your own. The diagrams are essentially matching games. Diagrams can be used for things like practicing identifying countries on a map or identifying types of plants.

Applications for Education
Memorize could be a useful resource for students as they prepare for midterm exams, final exams, or any other test that requires recall of facts. The diagram option could be very useful for students taking a course like Anatomy to practice identification.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Five Ways to Build Your Own Educational Games
10 Places to Make and Find Flashcards Online

Bronx Zoo Online Interactives

The Bronx Zoo has a good page of resources for elementary school and middle school educators. Among the resources available on the Bronx Zoo's educators page are videos (served via YouTube), lesson plans, and interactive online activities. The lesson plans are generally oriented toward an audience that is planning a zoo visit, but some of the plans can be used without making a zoo visit. There are four interactive online activities designed for elementary school and middle school audiences. The interactive activities include two identification games, a quiz, and a narrated slideshow about camels adapting to their environments.

Applications for Education
While most of the lesson plans on the Bronx Zoo website are intended for those who will be visiting the zoo, the lessons could be adapted to suit other zoos. Likewise some of the lessons could be used without visiting a zoo at all.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Fun Dinosaur Games and Lesson Plans
Teacher Linx- Create and Share Lesson Plans
Science Netlinks - Dozens of Science Lessons

Spreadsheets in US History Part II - Lesson Failed and What Went Wrong

Earlier this week I was all jazzed-up about using Google Forms and Spreadsheets in one of my US History classes. The plan was to have students put information about the causes of the Civil War into a form that I had created. The form had categories for economic factors, social factors, and political factors contributing to the split of the United States. The plan was to spend one class period gathering and inputting information and then spend one class analyzing and manipulating the information in the spreadsheet. The first day went well, the second day did not.

The second day didn't go as well as I hoped for a few reasons, not the least of which were two errors I made in creating the original form and planning the activity. The error I made was creating a form that only had three submission boxes yet what I asked my students to do was input fifteen pieces of information. I asked them to submit five items for each category. On the surface that would have worked had I not wanted to be able to manipulate the information later. As we all learned spreadsheet cells that have a lot of text can be very difficult to copy and or move. So what I should have done is made a form that had fifteen submission boxes instead of three. That would have made it easier to move information around the spreadsheet.

The second mistake I made in planning the activity was not accounting for the chaos that would ensue when I had 24 students trying to manipulate a spreadsheet simultaneously. I had planned to have my students identify commonalities of information from each of the three categories (economic, social, political) and move those commonalities into a new column. Creating the new column wasn't a problem. However, moving information into the column was a problem. When all 24 students were trying to manipulate a spreadsheet that didn't have enough cells, it just didn't work.

Despite the logistical problems of the activity, all was not lost. To salvage the lesson I printed the spreadsheet and had the students circle commonalities. Then we shared, verbally, the commonalities that we identified.

I still think that the theory behind what I tried to do is sound. However, for it to be successful in the future I'll need to make the logistical adjustments mentioned above.

Shmoop Adds 20 More Guides

I've mentioned Shmoop numerous times on this blog because I really like the content they produce. In fact, I like Shmoop so much that I have it linked to the blog for my US History and Civics courses. All of the Language Arts teachers to whom I've shown Shmoop have also approved of the Shmoop study guides. Shmoop recently added twenty new study guides.

The new study guides includes seven new books, three poems, three biographies, two US History guides, and five music titles. Among the new book titles you'll find Atlas Shrugged. The new US History guides are The American West and the 1960's.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Build Your Own Review Games
Cramberry - Studying Made Easier With Flashcards
Flashcard Flash - Search for Flashcard Sets