Saturday, August 13, 2011

Teaching Math Through Culture

Image Credit
Dr. Ron Eglash at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has done a lot of research of the occurrences of fractals and mathematical functions in cultural designs. Based on that research Dr. Eglash has developed some very interesting materials for teaching mathematics through culture. The program Dr. Eglash has developed is called Culturally Situated Design Tools. It contains fourteen units of study based around instances of mathematics concepts, including fractals, basic Algebra, and Geometry concepts occurring in cultural designs. The units of study can be used with middle school and high school students. The resource page for teachers provides some additional resources and background information.

Watch the TED Talk below to learn more about Dr. Eglash's work with fractals.

Applications for Education
When creating interdisciplinary units math is often the most difficult content area to include. Through his Dr. Eglash has done the hard work for math and social studies teachers. The units of study in Culturally Situated Design Tools provide fourteen opportunities to integrate math into the teaching of culture and culture into math. 

CleVR - Create Your Own Panoramic Image Tours

CleVR is an Adobe Air application that allows you to take a set of images and stitch them together to create a panoramic image. The panoramic image you create can be rotated side to side, up and down, and zoomed in and out. To use the image editor you can drag and drop images onto your CleVR clipboard or upload to your clipboard. You select the sequence of the images and CleVR stitches them together to make your panorama. Your finished product can be posted on the CleVR website or embedded into your own website or blog.

When I tried CleVR I learned through trial and error, that you do have to have to play around with the sequence of images in order to get a quality product. As with most applications of this type, the larger the image size and higher the quality of the images, the slower your images are processed. CleVR would probably be frustrating to try to use with elementary school students. Most middle school and high school students should be able to create nice panoramic images with CleVR.

Applications for EducationCleVR could be a clever way to have students add panoramic images to virtual tours they build in Google Maps. Students can link to the images or insert the images into placemarks on Google Maps.

7 Places to Get Free Supplies or Money for Your Classroom

As the new school year starts many of us will look around our classrooms and compile lists of things that we need or would like to have. And many of us will end up cracking into our personal bank accounts to get those things. (The fact that the IRS allows teachers to deduct up to $250 without receipts is indication enough that a lot teachers spend their own money for school supplies). Before you run off to Staples, do a little research and you just mind find that you can get some of the things you need without spending your own money. Here are some online resources you can try to get money and or supplies for your classroom this year.

Donors Choose is a non-profit organization with a mission of helping under-funded schools. Donors Choose uses the term "citizen philanthropy" to describe its program. Donors Choose essentially solicits funding from private citizens (and some corporations) which get to choose the projects they wish to fund. Donors can donate as much as they like to one or more projects. Donors Choose provides potential donors with information about the projects that need funding and the financial situation of the schools submitting requests. (Donations made through Donors Choose are tax deductible, but as always, check with your tax professional).

Classwish is a service through which teachers can find people willing to help purchase supplies for their classrooms. Classwish operates in a very similar manner to Donors Choose. On Classwish, teachers can create a wish list of supplies that they need for classrooms that aren't provided in their school budgets. People looking to help teachers can purchase products on a teacher's list and receive a tax deduction for their purchase.

iLoveSchools is a free service that helps teachers get supplies for their classrooms. iLoveSchools operates in a manner similar to that of Donors Choose and Class Wish. To get classroom supplies teachers register on iLove Schools and create a list of items that they would like to have for their classrooms. Donors then visit iLove School to choose a classroom to which they would like to donate supplies. A donor can contribute money toward purchasing the items a teacher has listed or a donor can contribute the actual items.

Giving Getting is a website whose goal is to help people exchange free material gifts. The process for using Giving Getting seems straight-forward. If you're in need of something, register and request it. Giving Getting will then try to match you with a donor that has that item to give.

Grant Gopher is a service that helps registered users find grants for just about any non-profit organization. The grant search engine is continuously updated to include new grant opportunities and remove expired grant opportunities. There is a free section of Grant Gopher and two "premium" subscription services offered by Grant Gopher. The free service offers access to the search engine, weekly newsletter about grant opportunities, and access to common application forms.

If you love free stuff as much as I love free stuff, check out Go To Freebie. On Go To Freebie you can find free samples of everything from bath and beauty supplies to toys and school supplies. Go To Freebie has forums and feedback to share experiences and tips about the freebies.

As they have for the last few years, Target is again awarding grants for school field trips. Applications for the grants close in 47 days from now. You can find all of the grant details and applications here. On the grant application page you can find a Field Trip Idea Generator. To find an idea, enter your state, city, and subject area. The Field Trip Idea Generator will give you ideas based on what past grant recipients in your area have done with the grant money.

Do you have a favorite place or strategy for getting supplies or money for your classroom? If so, please leave a comment. 

Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Morrison loves canoeing
It's a beautiful summer day here in Maine. And although part of me doesn't want to admit it, the new school year is just around the corner. To make the most of the last twelve days before school starts, I'm going to try to spend as much time as I can on adventures with my dog. But first, I'll write some blog posts like this week's Free Technology for Teachers Week in Review.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Send Email Attachments to Your Dropbox
2. TED Talk - Five Ways to Listen Better
3. 11 Videos for Economics Lessons
4. Planet Quest - An Interactive Timeline of Space Exploration
5. Wolfram Alpha for Your Desktop
6. For the Teacher Critics in Your Life
7. Developing a PLN. Why? and How?

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