Friday, September 16, 2011

Try Mastery Connect for Lesson Materials Tied to Common Core Standards

Full Disclosure: Mastery Connect is an advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers.

Even if they haven’t been adopted in your area yet, you’ve probably heard plenty about Common Core standards. The question then is how do you plan, teach, and assess with Common Core standards in mind. Mastery Connect is an organization whose mission is to help you answer that question.

Mastery Connect provides a free community for educators to share and discuss their plans around Common Core standards. As a member of the community you can browse and download the materials shared by other educators. There are currently more than one hundred pages of shared materials. Of course, as a member of the community you can share your own materials. You can also follow and have threaded Twitter-style discussions with other members of the community. All materials found in Mastery Connect are tied to specific standards in the Common Core.

The user community isn’t all that Mastery Connect offers for free. They also offer a free Android and iOS app that allows you to access the Common Core standards at any time. Use the app to have the standards for your grade and content area at your fingertips whenever you need them. The same features found in the Android and iOS apps are also available online whenever you need them at

For users looking for a little more than a community and app, Mastery Connect does offer some fee-based services. These services include the Mastery Tracker for tracking students’ progress. They also offer Bubble Score which is a service for grading and analyzing the assessments your students take.

If Common Core is a part of your professional life, I encourage you to join and explore the Mastery Connect community. Then start sharing and learning with other professionals.

Watch Sir Ken Robinson Speak Live on September 17

Tomorrow, September 17, TEDxLondon will be streamed live on the web. The theme of TEDxLondon is The Education Revolution. There is a fantastic line-up of speakers scheduled. The "headliner" of the event is Sir Ken Robinson who is best known in education circles for his 2006 TED Talk Schools Kill Creativity.

I'm looking at the TEDxLondon streaming page in the eastern timezone of the US and it says that the stream will start at 2pm. I'm not sure if that is 2pm US ET or 2pm GMT. Please check the streaming page for yourself to make sure you have the right time to catch the live stream.

To spark your imagination before TEDxLondon I've embedded two of Sir Ken Robinson's TED Talks below.

Twenty Years of Grunge

Please excuse this small bit of self-indulgence as I take a trip down memory lane.

This morning I did something I hardly ever do anymore, I went directly to The New York Times homepage. There it was front and center, smacking me in the face with memories of middle school, a story about Seattle's music scene twenty years after Nirvana's release of Smells Like Teen Spirit. Embedded in the sidebar of the article are some multimedia elements including a six minute mini-documentary about Seattle's, Nirvana's, and other bands' roles in shaping the music scene of the 90's.

Two things struck me as I watched the video. First, I'm definitely getting older. Second, many of my students listen to bands today that were heavily influenced by the likes of Nirvana. So what's this have to do with education? Don't worry here's the tie-in. Music teachers looking to give a lesson on the development of the modern music scene might want to pass this article and video along to students. Similarly, social studies teachers trying to develop lessons on 1990's culture may want to give the article and video a look.

And for all of my Gen-X contemporaries, happy listening.

Three Free Stossel in the Classroom DVDs

Stossel in the Classroom is currently giving away three free DVDs to educators. The DVDs contain multiple segments of John Stossel's television work that can be applied to classroom lessons. Each DVD is accompanied by downloadable materials for teachers to use in their classrooms. The 2012 DVD appears to be focused on topics in economics while the 2010 and 2011 DVDs appear to cover a broader range of topics. That said, all of the DVDs address topics that are relevant to middle school and high school social studies classrooms.

I know that John Stossel can be a polarizing figure and that many teachers disagree with some of his work. That said, I personally know a couple of social studies teachers who do like his work and would enjoy getting these DVDs for free

H/T to Fred Delventhal.

Hohli - A Simple Tool for Creating Online Charts

Hohli Online Charts Builder is a nice tool for creating a variety of charts for online display. Using the Hohli Online Charts Builder you can create bar graphs, line graphs, pie charts, Venn diagrams, scatter plots, and radar charts. To use create your chart first select the type and size of display that you desire. Then fill in the corresponding form with the information that you want displayed. Your chart will be generated as you enter information so that you can see how each piece of information influences the chart. When you're satisfied with your chart just click on it to save it to your computer or to grab the embed code to use on your blog or website.

You can see my sample bar chart below.
Chart build on

Applications for Education
The Hohli Online Charts Builder could be a good tool for any student that needs to create a data visualization for an online or in-person presentation. Because the charts update as each new piece of data is added, students will be able to see how each data set they add affects their chart's display.