Sunday, August 7, 2011

TED Talk - Five Ways to Listen Better

Julian Treasure, whose work I've previously highlighted, recently gave a talk at TED Global in Scotland. His talk, 5 Ways to Listen Better, reminds us of the need to slow down and listen to the people and the world around us. At the end of the talk he provides a simple framework for becoming better listeners. That framework is called RASA. You'll have to listen to his talk to learn about RASA, it will be worth the seven minutes of your time.

Applications for Education
This could be a great video to show at the beginning of your new school year to set the tone for class conversations. Julian Treasure's RASA framework for listening is one that could easily be used as the model in your classroom. In fact, I think that I'm going to introduce it to my new students in a few weeks.

Wolfram Alpha for Your Desktop

A couple of weeks ago I gave a short live demonstration of the computational search engine Wolfram Alpha. As I was wrapping-up the demonstration someone in the audience reminded me that there are some desktop widgets and browser extensions that put Wolfram Alpha at your fingertips. Acting on that reminder I installed the Wolfram Alpha desktop gadget for Windows 7. The entire collection of gadgets and browser extensions includes gadgets for Windows and Mac desktops, an iGoogle gadget, and browser extensions for Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, and Opera.

Not sure what makes Wolfram Alpha different from Google or Bing? Watch this short video introduction to Wolfram Alpha.

Applications for Education
Wolfram Alpha can be used for more than just numerical information. It can also be used to pull up a handy "fact sheet" on any number of topics. If students can quickly access these fact sheets of basic information they then have more time to delve deeper into research and or creating new things from the information they've found. Putting the desktop gadgets on your school's computers puts Wolfram Alpha at your students' disposal all the time.

The Time for Mobile is Now - 7 Ways to Make It Happen

Image Credit: Editor B
I've written about cell phones in schools a number of times in the past (here's a summary post). I'm fortunate to work in a school that allows students to use their cell phones with teacher consent. My school is still the exception to the rule regarding cell phone policies. The best way to try to convince schools to change their policies regarding cell phone use is to offer examples of good uses of cell phones in classrooms.

Before going any farther I need to tell you that what triggered this post was watching this video that I discovered on Scott McLeod's Mind Dump.

Ideas for using cell phones in your classroom.
Text the Mob - Use Cell Phones to Collect Feedback
Cell Phones In My Civics Class = Parent Involvement
QR Code Treasure Hunt Generator
Augmented Reality in Plain English
Create Augmented Reality Layers Without Coding
Google Mobile - Services for Web Search, Blogging, and More
Create an Android App - Android App Inventor

11 Videos for Economics Lessons

Economics can be a tricky topic teach. I've often found that students are interested in learning about how the economy works, but struggle with some of the concepts. The following videos could be handy the next time you're designing an economics lesson plan.

Common Craft offers a set of six videos addressing some basic concepts in economics. Embedded below you will find Saving Money (Compound Interest) In Plain English and Stock Markets in Plain English. (If you're viewing this in RSS you will need to click through to see the videos).

2008 sent the economy into a tailspin. Say It Visually created a short animated video to help kids (and adults) understand the causes and effects.

The Crisis of Credit Visualized is an eleven minute overview of factors contributing to the decline of US economy beginning in 2008.

Just how much is one trillion dollars? has a one minute video explanation.

PBS Video offers a one hour program about the 1929 Stock Market Crash. You can view the whole program on the PBS Video site. I've embedded the first segment below. offers a series of rap music videos to explain some of the concepts that have driven economic policies in the US since the New Deal. As some readers have commented in the past, the videos do lean toward Keynesian economics.

For the Teacher Critics in Your Life

Thanks to my friend Harold Shaw this morning I found a good article from eSchool News titled Ten Common Myths About Teaching. In the article educators explain the truth in response to misconceptions about our profession. Read the article and keep it in your playbook for the next time you're at a dinner party with non-educators. And if that doesn't work you could always take the routes of Taylor Mali or Matt Damon.