Monday, January 3, 2011

Architect Studio 3D - Design Like Frank Lloyd Wright

Architect Studio 3D is a fun and educational site in which students can design plans for homes using the same principles Frank Lloyd Wright employed. To design a home students select a "client" and a setting for the "client's" new home. Students then select basic home shape and size, arrange interior elements, place windows and doors, and then furnish the home. Throughout the design process students can get reminders of the principles Wright used when designing homes. When their plans are complete students can tour their designs in 3D.

Applications for Education
Architect Studio 3D has great pages for teachers and librarians. The curriculum connections page gives a run down of the concepts that students can learn through the use of Architect Studio 3D.

A Book for the School Administrators in Your Life

I've known about this for quite a while, but wasn't sure that I could share it with the world. Now I know for sure that I can, Scott McLeod and Chris Lehmann invited me to contribute to a book they're editing about digital technologies and social media. I accepted their invitation, of course, and with Carl Anderson wrote a chapter about online mind mapping tools. This evening I'm happy to share, as Scott did earlier today, that What School Administrators Need to Know About Digital Technologies and Social Media is on its way to the publisher. I encourage you to check out the list of chapter titles and contributors. I hope when the book is available you'll share it with the school administrators in your life.

Investment Timing Chart from The NY Times

Common financial planning/ retirement planning advice encourages people to start investing as early as possible. But a new chart published by The New York Times shows that longevity alone doesn't guarantee positive returns. The Stock Market Matrix is a color-coded chart that shows the rate of return on investments based on the year money was invested and year it was withdrawn. Look across the chart and you'll see that no two timespans give the same returns even if those timespans are of the same length.

Applications for Education
The Stock Market Matrix could be used as part of a US History lesson in which students research the events of different timespans and how those events affected the market.

On a related note, if you're looking for some good videos about the basic concepts of investing, borrowing, and saving money, Common Craft has three good videos you should check out. Here are direct links to each of the three videos: Investing in Plain English, Borrowing in Plain English, Saving in Plain English.

Snag Learning Film of the Week - China's Lost Girls

When I taught a global studies course (which I'll be doing again next semester for the first time in three years) without fail on the first day that I introduced China to the class, one or more of the students would make a reference to the "one child policy." That would in turn lead to all kinds of conversations about the politics and culture of modern China. Snag Learning hosts a nice National Geographic film titled China's Lost Girls that examines some of the political and cultural ramifications of China's "one child policy." Watch the film and find discussion questions for it here.
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Video - What's Next in 2011?

Like other news shows, this weekend the CBS Sunday Morning show had some 2010 retrospective pieces. They also aired a few "looking ahead" pieces that I enjoyed. One of those pieces, America Asks What's Next in 2011, I'll be using in my Civics class tomorrow. America Asks What's Next in 2011 is a six minute video that looks back over the history of the United States, the current challenges facing the US, and then has some experts make predictions about the future of the United States.

CBS Sunday Morning also has videos on the same theme of predictions for 2011 in Asia and in Europe.

Applications for Education
Tomorrow afternoon my Civics students will be watching America Asks What's Next in 2011 and then making their own predictions about the future of the country. We spent all of December focused on economic issues so I'm predicting that many of my students predictions will be about the economy.

11 Mathematics Resources to Try in 2011

To start off the new year, each day this week I'll be posting a list of eleven resources to try in a particular content area. Today's list is for mathematics teachers, tomorrow's list will be for science teachers.

Brain Nook is a virtual world in which students can practice their mathematics and English skills. Brain Nook provides students with a series of scenarios that they have to resolve by answering mathematics and language arts questions. The first scenario presented to me when I tried out Brain Nook required me to earn coins to buy materials for a vehicle that I would then use to explore one of the virtual worlds. I could earn coins by answering questions correctly. Brain Nook presents students with questions based on their skill levels which is determined by a quick pre-assessment and adjusted as they progress through Brain Nook's virtual worlds. 

Learn Your Tables is a neat little site for students to use to learn and develop multiplication skills. The site offers two basic games on two different levels. The most basic game is a simple drag and drop activity in which students match equations to their correct answers. The more "advanced" game has students enter the correct answer to a multiplication question. The easier of the two levels only contains problems from one multiplication table while the more difficult level contains problems from multiple multiplication tables.

Ten Marks, an online mathematics tutoring service, offers a free program for teachers. Ten Marks for educators is designed to be a supplement to classroom instruction, not a replacement for it.
Ten Marks provides educators with an online forum in which they can assign mathematics practice problems to students and track their students' progress. If a student gets stuck on a problem he or she can open a tutorial to help him or her through the problem. Ten Marks provides teachers with the option to CC parents on the assignments sent to students. The online curriculum provided by Ten Marks can be aligned to the state standards a teacher chooses.

Yummy Math is a website designed for the purpose of sharing mathematics problems and scenarios based on things happening in the world today. For example, the activity for December 4th was based on Lebron James's return to Cleveland. Yummy Math lists activities chronologically as well as by mathematics subject area. Two mathematics teachers, Brian Marks and Leslie Lewis, developed Yummy Math and welcome suggestions from other mathematics teachers. 

Web2.0calc is a free online scientific calculator. While it won't replace the TI-84 Plus, it can do what your average high school student needs it to do. The best part is, you don't have to use it on the Web2.0calc site because they offer three widgets that you can use to embed the calculator into your own blog or website.
Math Open Reference is a free online reference for geometry teachers and students. Math Open Reference features animated and interactive drawings to demonstrate geometry terms and concepts. The table of contents on Math Open Reference is divided into four basic categories; plane geometry, coordinate geometry, solid geometry, and function explorer tools. Click on any subject in the first three categories to find definitions, examples, and interactive drawings. In the function explorer category users can select linear functions, quadratic functions, or cubic functions to explore how changes in variables affect the graphed output.

When it comes to creative uses of Google tools, Tom Barrett is certainly a leader that we can all learn from. A great example of this can be found in Tom's Math Maps. Math Maps are Google Maps on which Tom and others have created placemarks which when clicked reveal mathematics questions for students to answer based on the maps. There are questions available for every elementary school grade level. The placemarks are color-coded to indicate the level of the questions. Blue = Kindergarten, Red = 1st grade, Green = 2nd grade, Light Blue = 3rd grade, Yellow = 4th grade, Purple = 5th grade. Visit Tom Barrett's Math Maps page to view the existing Math Maps and read about how to contribute to the existing Math Maps.

Math Live is a neat mathematics website developed by Learn Alberta. Math Live presents students with animated stories that teach mathematics lessons. In all there are twenty-three lessons for elementary school and middle school students. The lessons are divided into four categories; Number, Patterns and Relations, Shape and Space, Statistics and Probability. Each animated lesson is accompanied by a mathematics worksheet that students complete either while watching the lesson or after viewing the lesson. Each lesson is divided into sections and students can advance or rewind as needed.

Conceptua Math is a provider of interactive visual mathematics lessons. Conceptua Math's primary focus is on the development of tools to aid teachers in the instruction of lessons on fractions. Conceptua Math's offerings are a mix of free and premium (paid) tools. There are a total of fifteen free interactive tools for teachers and students. Each of the free tools has an introductory video and a sample lesson plan.

If you've seen Dan Meyer's TED Talk, Math Class Needs a Makeover, you already know that he's an awesome educator. If you haven't seen his talk, go watch it now then come back to this post. This past summer Dan Meyer published his entire 38 week Algebra curriculum complete with slides, handouts, and just about everything you need in order to deliver the lessons. You can download each week individually or download the entire collection as one file. Dan Meyer also has his entire 38 week Geometry curriculum available for free. Again, you can download each week individually or download the entire collection as one file.

Plus Magazine is a free online publication dedicated to introducing readers to practical applications of mathematics. Plus Magazine strives to reach that goal through the publication of mathematics-related news articles, podcasts, and mathematics puzzles designed around "real-life" scenarios.