Monday, February 8, 2010

Physics 4 Kids

Rader has been producing useful self-study lessons and quizzes for kids for quite a while. Many readers have probably seen this Rader before, but it's worthwhile to post for the benefit of those who aren't familiar with Rader's offerings. Physics 4 Kids is one five collections of science resources for kids produced by Rader.

Rader's Physics 4 Kids is part of a series of Rader's 4 Kids lessons about science. Physics 4 Kids takes students on tours of different sub-topics of physics. After each stop on the tour there is a quiz that students can take to test their understanding of each topic. Along with text and image information there are some short videos about different physics concepts along the tour.

Applications for Education
Student directed tours like the ones offered on Physics 4 Kids are great tools for differentiating activities within the classroom. Physics 4 Kids is a good resource for science teachers to link to a class web page or blog so that students and parents can study and test themselves outside of the classroom.

Study Guides for Black History Month

Shmoop, a study-guide provider that I've mentioned in a few other posts, recently published a list of 47 study guides for Black History Month. If you're still looking for resources for Black History Month, Shmoop's list is a good place to look. In addition to guides for English and history you will find resources for teaching with music.

Five Good Places to Find Math Tutorial Videos

When I was a middle school and high school student, mathematics was the one subject for which I had to have visual demonstrations in order to comprehend its concepts. Unfortunately for me, when I was in high school I couldn't just jump on the Internet to find mathematics tutorial videos as today's students can. The following are five places that students can find free mathematics tutorial videos.

Math A Tube is a compilation of videos from a variety of users and other websites. Videos are categorized by mathematics topics and sub-topics. The videos demonstrate everything from basic addition through Geometry. The videos on Math A Tube are user-generated so some videos are better than others.

Math TV provides an extensive collection of high quality mathematics tutorials. Math TV's video lessons cover basic mathematics and Algebra. Math TV videos are not easily embedded in other websites, but they are free and you can create your own individualized playlists.

Tutor USA is a site that offers a variety of useful links for mathematics teachers and students. In addition to free worksheets and lesson plans, Tutor USA has built a nice collection of video tutorials. The videos in the collection come from sources like YouTube,, and TeacherTube. Some of the videos are quick how-to videos while others are longer lecture-style explanations of mathematics concepts.

Brightstorm is a provider of online study materials for mathematics as well as ACT and SAT preparation. The ACT and SAT preparation materials are not free, but the mathematics tutorials are free. The mathematics tutorials are videos featuring mathematics teachers explaining and demonstrating how to solve mathematics problems. There are tutorial videos covering Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Calculus. The videos can be viewed on the Brightstorm site or you can embed them into your blog or wiki.

Mathtrain.TV is the product of students taught by Mr. Marcos at Lincoln Middle School in Santa Monica, California. The site features videos in which students explain how to solve mathematics problems commonly attempted by middle school students. Mathtrain.TV also has videos made by teachers. Many of the videos are subtitled.

While not specifically devoted to math, some other good places to find mathematics tutorial videos are SchoolTube, TeacherTube, and Next Vista.

Visualizing President Obama's Budget Proposal

The New York Times has an interactive infographic of President Obama's 2011 budget proposal that depicts the various parts of the proposal in comparison to each other. The portions of the budget that are the largest, occupy the largest section of the graphic. Place your mouse pointer over any section of the graphic to reveal the numbers for the subsections of each portion of the budget. You can also compare the 2011 budget proposal with the 2010 budget.

Hat tip to Cool Infographics.

Applications for Education
If US current events are a part of your curriculum, the US budget is probably going to be a topic of discussion. This infographic gives students a quick reference for that discussion. You could also use this infographic as the launching point for an activity in which students research the subsections of the budget proposal.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
How Much is One Trillion Dollars?
State of the Union - Video, Transcript, and Wordle
Economics Education Resources from the IMF

How the Federal Reserve Works

Understanding the US Federal Reserve can be a very difficult task. (I have to refresh my memory before I teach it every year). Time has recently produced a short video that attempts to explain the functions of the Federal Reserve in simple terms. The video is just under four minutes in length.

Hat tip to Jeffery Hill for the video.

Applications for Education
Anyone that has tried to teach lessons on the US banking system knows the frustration that can come with trying to help students wrap their heads around the Federal Reserve System. This video doesn't cover it all, but it certainly could be helpful when used as a part of a larger lesson. The video may also give you some ideas for new approaches to explaining the Federal Reserve.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Kid's Economic Glossary
Saving Money in Plain English
The History of Credit Cards in the United States

Textbooks, Wikipedia, and Primary Source Research

A couple of weeks ago I sent out a Tweet that my students were working on a comparison of Wikipedia articles to articles in their textbooks. Judging by the reTweets and replies to my message, a lot of people were interested in the activity. What I left out of my Tweet was the third part of the assignment in which my students had to locate and use primary source documents to gain more insight into the various topics. You can find the outline of the assignment here.

There were two purposes to this assignment. First to dispel the myths that Wikipedia is unreliable and that textbooks are gospel truth. The second purpose was for students to see the value of primary source documents for gaining insights into historical events and or people. Both goals were met. The topics my students were investigating were the Sand Creek Massacre, the Battle of Little Bighorn, and the Fort Laramie Treaties. The vast majority of my students reported that they found the textbook easier to use for finding the "main points," but that the Wikipedia articles had the same information. They also reported that the Wikipedia articles had more depth of information.

Where Wikipedia shone was in getting students started on their searches for primary source documents. As you'll see in the outline, I asked my students to use the links at the end of each Wikipedia article to further investigate each topic and locate primary source documents. What I did not include in the outline is that I also allowed students to simply search the web on their own to find primary source documents. As I expected, most of them came to the realization that a lot what they were finding through their own searches was already listed in the links at the end of the Wikipedia articles. At the end of the activity every student was able to identify and add new information to their knowledge base using the primary source documents they located.

I welcome your questions and feedback. And if you found the outline useful, by all means please feel free to reuse it in your classrooms.