Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Earth Calendar - Every Day is a Holiday Somewhere

Earth Calendar is a small demonstration of cultures and traditions from around the world. Earth Calendar is built on the idea that every day is a holiday for someone somewhere. Earth Calendar has three simple search options, holidays by date, holidays by country, or holidays by religion. I used the holidays by country option to find out that May 1 is Labor Day in Macedonia.

Applications for Education
Earth Calendar is a simple to use resource for students to use to get a little flavor of cultures and traditions from around the world. I've always found that adding just a little bit of lesser known information about a country's culture helps to engage students in lessons about world news and world studies.

Interactive Activities About US Government

The Center on Congress at Indiana University has a good collection of interactive, role-playing activities for learning about how the United States' government functions. Each activity allows students to experience the roles and functions of different members of Congress.

One of the activities that my Civics students have really enjoyed in the past is the "How a Member Decides to Vote" activity. In "How a Member Decides to Vote" students take on the role of a Congressman or Congresswoman for a week. During the simulated week, students receive phone calls from constituents, read newspaper headlines, meet with constituents, meet with lobbyists, and attend meetings with other Congressmen and Congresswomen. The "How a Member Decides to Vote" activity makes students account for their personal feelings as well as the influence of constituents and lobbyists.

Applications for Education
I've used many of these activities over the last few years with my Civics students and my US History students. In all there are eleven interactive activities through which students can learn about the functions of Congress. All of the interactive activities are written in a way that makes them accessible and useful for students in grades 3 through 12. Each activity is accompanied by a set of lesson plan options for categorized by grade level. The lesson plans accompanying each activity provide convenient assessment tools for teachers. Each lesson plan also suggests some "offline" activities that teachers and students can do related to the online activity.

Author Stream - Do More With PowerPoint

Author Stream is a service that converts your PowerPoint slide shows to flash media files. Author Stream can be used to host and share your slide shows publicly or privately directly on the Author Stream website. In addition to sharing on the Author Stream website the slide shows you upload can also be shared via Youtube, iTunes, or embedded into a blog or website.

A free companion tool to Author Stream is Author Point Lite. Author Point Lite is a desktop application that converts Power Point files to flash files. Files converted with Author Point Lite retain all of the transitions, timings, and narration created in your original file. Author Point Lite is a free download.

Applications for Education
Author Stream provides
teachers with a free method for sharing notes and presentations with students without sending large email files. The Author Point Lite desktop client is a free download that teachers and students can use to enhance their presentations beyond the typical Power Point presentation.