Monday, November 15, 2010

Teaching Kids Real Math With Computers

In part because my high school mathematics experience was not good, I'm always intrigued by new ideas for improving mathematics instruction. Therefore, when I saw today that the TED Blog featured a talk titled Teaching Kids Real Math With Computers I stopped what I was doing to watch it.

In Teaching Kids Real Math With Computers Conrad Wolfram claims that the hand calculations most math curricula requires is irrelevant to most real world mathematics applications. Wolfram argues that students should instead be taught to apply mathematics to computer programming. Wolfram points out that problems aren't dumbed-down by computers and, in fact, can be made more challenging by computer programming. Wolfram also claims that the real problem with current mathematics instruction is that "we have dumbed-down" problems. I can't say that I agree with everything Wolfram says, but he will make you think about about instruction. Watch the video below.

If you're interested in another approach to mathematics instruction watch Math Class Needs a Makeover embedded below.

View New Panoramic Photos in Google Earth

For quite a while Google Earth has had a layer called 360 Cities that features spherical imagery of many interesting and historic sites around the world. On Friday, Google announced that they've added even more an better panoramic imagery to their standard Google Earth layers.

The new panoramic imagery is a part of the standard "photos layer" in the "primary database." Standard Panoramio images still display as they always did as little blue/white outlined boxes. Now when you turn on the photos layer you will also see red outlined squares. Those red outlined squares indicate panoramic images.

Accessing panoramic views for Acadia National Park.

Part of the panoramic view from the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Google Earth Across the Curriculum
Trip Line - Create Travel Maps
Historic Maps in K-12 Classrooms

The Economics of Seinfeld

The Economics of Seinfeld is a neat concept for teaching economics lessons developed by economics professors from Eastern Illinois University and Baker University. The Economics of Seinfeld is a catalog of clips (sometimes entire episodes) from the hit sitcom Seinfeld that demonstrate various economics concepts. There are seven pages of clips that you can browse through. Alternatively, and more practically, you can search for clips by entering an economics term like "demand," "supply," and "substitute goods."

If you plan to use The Economics of Seinfeld, you should know that it doesn't host the video clips rather it just directs you to episodes and timeframes within episodes to find clips. You'll have to find the episodes on Hulu or acquire a copy of Seinfeld on DVD to use the clips in your classroom. (Seinfeld fanatics can get Seinfeld - The Complete Serieson DVD from Amazon).

Thanks to Michael Zimmer for the link to this resource.

Applications for Education
If you know someone whose economics lessons resemble this (I know that none of the readers of this blog teach like that), please direct him or her to The Economics of Seinfeld for some clips that will could help him or her make their economics lessons a little more engaging and or entertaining. The clips could help students realize that economics is a part of "real life."

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Mathematics in Movies
Biz Ed - Economics Lessons and Virtual Field Trips
Stock Markets in Plain English

Skype Education - A Directory of Classrooms

Skype is a fantastic free resource that enables teachers around the world to connect their classrooms and to virtually bring expert visitors to their classrooms. To help teachers around the world connect their classrooms, Skype is developing Skype in the Classroom. Skype in the Classroom, launching in December, will be a free directory of classrooms that are on Skype and are looking to connect with other classrooms. Registration is open now for those teachers who would like to be in the Skype in the Classroom directory.

Thanks to George Couros for sharing the link on Twitter.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Teachers Connecting - Find a Collaboration Partner
Wetoku - Conduct, Record, and Share Video Conferences
Vodburner - Free Skype Call Recording

Snag Learning Film of the Week - The Family Meal

This week's Snag Learning Film of the Week is The Family Meal. The Family Meal is a twenty minute film about obesity in America, its causes, its effects, and the disappearance of the family meal in American homes. The film focuses on how developing the habit of eating "family meals" at home can reduce the rate of obesity in American children. You can watch the film and view a discussion guide here.

Watch more free documentaries

Applications for Education
The Family Meal could be a good resource for health and fitness teachers to share with their students. After a classroom viewing of the film teachers could challenge students to create healthy "family meal" menus.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Snag Learning Film of the Week - Emperors of Ice
Snag Learning Film of the Week - Becoming Barack
Fat World - A Video Game About Nutrition