Friday, April 1, 2011

Loop Scoops - Get Kids Thinking About "Stuff" They Buy

Loop Scoops is a series of eight videos about consumerism from PBS Kids. Each short (1-2 minutes) animated video features a short story with little lesson at the end. If students miss the lesson in the video they can click the "what's the deal?" button to read the lesson. The overall intent of Loop Scoops is to get kids thinking about the products they use everyday. The videos present lessons about what common products are made of, how those products are made, and what happens when a product is trashed.

The content director for Loop Scoops is Annie Leonard whose name you may recognize from The Story of Stuff video series.

Applications for Education
Loop Scoops could be used for lessons dealing with both consumer science and environmental science. After watching a few Loop Scoops have students pick some other everyday products in their lives and investigate how those products are made and what happens when those product are trashed.

Primary Wall - A Sticky Note Wall for Young Students

It seems like every week I come across a new collaborative sticky note service. The latest that I've learned about is Primary Wall. Primary Wall is designed with elementary school students in mind. To use it students just have to go to the url for the wall you've created and click "add a note" or double click on the wall to start writing notes. Students can title their notes and attach their names (first name only please) to a note. Learn more about Primary Wall in the video below.

Thanks to Danny Nicholson for writing about Primary Wall on his Whiteboard Blog.

Applications for Education
Sticky note walls like Primary Wall or Wallwisher can be useful for hosting collaborative brainstorming sessions, asking questions, and sorting ideas. Primary Wall lists some other ideas for classroom use in their teacher section. Whether you use Primary Wall or another sticky note service, the first time you try it your students might be tempted to post some non-sense notes or move other students' notes. Just as with any other classroom behavior expectation, it's important to have a conversation with your students about the way they should use the wall and respect for each other's ideas.

Month in Review - March's Most Popular Posts

Good morning from snowy Maine. It's April Fool's Day, but the snow storm outside is very real. Still there are signs of spring around. The geese that raised their young near our house last spring have just returned. Even though spring is here, most of us still have about a quarter of the academic year to go. If you're looking to try something new this spring, take a look at the ten most popular resources shared in the month of March.

Here are the most popular posts from March, 2011:
1. 11 Good Digtital Storytelling Resources
2. Time Lapse Visualization of the Earthquake in Japan
3. Interactive Maps & Images About the Earthquake in Japan
4. A Nice Online Catalog of New Resources
5. Google Tools to Support Bloom's Taxonomy
6. Two Simple Tools Every Teacher Should Try
7. Images & Videos of the Earthquake in Japan
8. Read Children's Books Online at ICDL
9. 5 Periodic Table Games
10. Training Guides & Help Sheets for Interactive Whiteboards

Thank you to everyone that visited Free Technology for Teachers this month and shared the links you found. With your help this month Free Technology for Teachers reached more people in a month than ever before and surpassed the 33,000 subscriber mark.

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All the World's Nuclear Reactors on Google Earth

The troubles with Japan's nuclear power plants following last month's earthquake and tsunami put concerns about the safety of nuclear energy back in the news. Declan Butler from The Great Beyond blog on has created a Google Earth file displaying all of the world's nuclear reactors. Each placemark on the map is color coded according to reactor type. Click on each of the placemarks to learn more about each reactor. You can view the file in your browser by going to The Great Beyond blog or by downloading the kmz file.

Applications for Education
One way that you could use the Nuclear Reactor map is to have students explore the map and compare it to this Google Earth map of CO2 emissions around the world. Ask students if they can identify any correlations between CO2 emissions and the number of reactors in an area.