Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Technology Resources from Special Ed Perspectives

Try as I might to present resources for every K-12 teacher, the fact of the matter is I'm just one guy and I tend to look at things from the perspective of a mainstream middle school and high school classroom teacher. I know that some subscribers to this blog are special education teachers. For those of you that teach special education students, I have two blogs that you should consider adding to your RSS reader.

Paul Hamilton's Free Resources from the Net for Every Learner is a blog that I've been subscribed to for a couple of years. Paul had taken a small break from blogging, but started blogging again this month and has posted some great stuff.

Kate Ahern's Teaching Learners With Multiple Special Needs is another blog written by a special education teacher. I've been subscribed to Kate's blog almost as long I've been subscribed to Paul's. As the blog title implies, Kate works with students who have multiple special needs. Through her blog I've learned a lot not only about the technology she uses, but the unique challenges special education teachers face on a daily basis.

I should also mention my fellow Mainer, Harold Shaw who teaches special education in a district a couple of hours north of me. Harold has recently written an interesting post titled Do Special Education Students Really Need to Have Grades?

Make Your Own Weather Maps with UMapper

UMapper is a neat map creation tool that I reviewed back in October. At the time of that review the service was promising, but buggy. I looked at it again today after reading about a new feature they're offering. The new feature allows you to quickly create your own custom weather maps. I gave it a try and discovered that since my last review of UMapper the usability has improved significantly. Creating my weather map with UMapper was a simple matter of choosing a map, highlighting an area of the map, and clicking publish. Real-time weather data is automatically inserted into the map when the "weather map" template is selected. The maps you create with UMapper can be embedded into your blog or website. The video below offers a quick tutorial on how to create your own weather map.

Applications for Education
One of UMapper's other templates is GeoDart. UMapper GeoDart could be a good way for your students to create a geography game for learning to locate countries, states, and capitals.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
A Visual Guide to Global Trends
MapTrot - Easily Create and Share Maps
Quikmaps - Quickly Customize a Google Map

Professional Development at the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress is now accepting applications for all six of their 2010 Summer Teacher Institutes. The summer institutes are designed to help participants develop classroom activities that incorporate primary documents, understand legal use of digital documents, and learn how to access materials cataloged by the Library of Congress.

The Library of Congress Summer Teacher Institutes are free to attend, but you do have to provide your own lodging and meals. The institutes are four days long. There are sessions being offered in May, June, July, and August. You can read more about the institutes and apply here. You can access materials from previous institutes here.

If you're not able to attend on the Summer Institutes you can explore three self-directed online professional development modules.

Free PDFs - Type Every Character on a Mac Keyboard

I rarely type any words that require accents but today I needed to so I went searching for directions. In my search I came across three free PDFs from Go Squared which demonstrate how to type accents and symbols by using the correct combination of keys on your Mac's keyboard.

Applications for Education
Go Squared's keyboard shortcuts PDFs would be useful to print and post in a computer lab that uses Mac computers. Foreign language teachers may want to share these guides with their students who need help typing accent marks.

Revolver Maps - 3D Display of Website Visitors

Revolver Maps is a free service that provides free tracking widgets which you can embed into your blog or website. The widgets are 3D spinning globes that display little dots on a globe. Each dot represents a visitor to your blog. Revolver Maps offers nine customizable widgets including one that represents seasons around the world as well as blog visitors. I've embedded that widget below.

Applications for Education
I've heard and seen Jeff Utecht and Sue Waters advocate for putting visitor tracking widgets into your classroom blogs as a way for students to see how many visitors they get and where those visitors come from. In fact, Sue has this topic as the lead post on her blog right now. Putting a widget into classroom blogs shows students that they really are addressing a global audience.