Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Enter the Intel Wired to Learn Contest to Win Tech for Your School

Disclosure: Intel is an advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers.

Through their Wired to Learn Contest, Intel is giving three lucky schools technology prize packages worth up to $25,000.

Entering the Wired to Learn Contest is fairly easy. First, you need to visit the Intel AppUp center to register and install the Intel AppUp Center on your computer. Then submit a story in 500 words or less explaining why your school should receive one of the prize packages. Optionally, you can also include pictures or videos with your entry. The recipients of the prize packages will be determined by public voting so once you’ve completed the entry steps tell your community to go and vote for your submission. Voting is open through December 4 so you still have a few weeks to share your story and get your community to vote.

What is the Intel AppUp Center?
The Intel AppUp Center provides a convenient way to find, install, and run a wide variety of education, entertainment, and productivity applications on your netbook or computer. The applications you select run in the Intel AppUp Center you install on your netbook or computer. Each application in the Intel AppUp Center is scanned for spyware and malware. Each app is also vetted for compatibility with your computer. Just like in other app stores, there is a mix of free and paid applications. Unlike in some app markets, you can try applications in the Intel AppUp Center before you buy them. Click here to view a nice selection of free and paid applications for education.

Applications for Education

With the holiday shopping season right around the corner there is sure to be a number of students acquiring inexpensive laptops and netbooks. The Intel AppUp Center could be a good place for students, parents, and teachers to find free applications to maximize the educational possibilities of their new machines. 

Math Open Reference - A Good Supplement to Textbooks

I originally reviewed Math Open Reference last year. In the time since I wrote that review there have been some additions made to it. Therefore, I'm bringing it to your attention again or perhaps for the first time. 

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.

Applications for Education
Math Open Reference probably still isn't complete enough to replace a textbook, but it could make a great supplement to the mathematics textbooks that you do use. For students who need visual references, Math Open Reference could be particularly helpful.

Math Workout - A Great App for Keeping Your Math Skills Sharp

Math Workout is a free Android app for practicing your basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division skills. You can choose from six different practice activities. Each activity has its own series of progressively harder challenges. I started out using just the addition and multiplication activities that provide twenty problems to solve in your head. Your score for the activity is based on accuracy and speed. So that you can see if you're improving from day to day, Math Workout keeps a record of your scores for you.

After warming up with the basic activities on Math Workout I moved on and played Brain Cruncher. Brain Cruncher presents a series of calculations that you have to perform and keep track of in your head until you arrive at the final solution input field. Each calculation task appears on its own screen so you cannot see what the previous calculation was. Here's an example of a Brain Cruncher problem, "start with 10, divide by two, add thirteen, multiply by 3, subtract 6."

Here's a short video review of Math Workout. (Note, this video review is of the "pro" version which offers more challenges and is ad-free).

Applications for Education
Math Workout could provide a great way for students and adults to keep their basic mathematics skills sharp. Students can spend a few minutes each day on the app and track their progress. To see they measure up to the millions of other Math Workout users, students can try the 90 question Online World Challenge in Math Workout.

Population, Landscape, and Climate Maps

The Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center publishes data sets and maps designed to blend the studies of socioeconomics and Earth science. One of the results of that work is the creation of some interesting mapped visualizations of data sets. Some of the more interesting maps illustrate correlations between climate zone and population density. All of the maps can be downloaded and printed for free use in your classroom. The data sets behind the maps are also freely available for classroom use.

I've embedded below a zoomable (if that's a word) image of one of the maps from the collection. I used to make the map zoomable.

Applications for Education
Maps can be a social studies teacher's best friend. But they can also be useful for science teachers and math teachers who wish to have their students take information from data sets and transform it into something new. These maps could provide a model for a project in which your students collect local data and display it on a map.

What's Obvious to You, Is Amazing to Someone Else

One of the reasons I sometimes hear people give for not blogging, Tweeting, or otherwise participating in sharing their ideas online is, "I don't have anything to say." To that I often reply, "yes, you do." The great thing about sharing online is that you never know who is going to discover what you share. Something that you think has been said one hundred times over might be brand new to someone else. We all have something to share.

Applications for Education
This message needs to be shared with our students too. One of the ways you can do this is by having students write a weekly reflective blog post. They don't have to write complex blog posts, just a short summary of their learning and observations that week will do. In this way students can learn from each other. Even if they don't pick up anything brand new from this process, they will at least be reminding each other of what they have learned that week. A simple way to set up that type of student blogging is by using Posterous Spaces which I wrote about here.

Don't Punish Everyone

Derek Sivers, whose TED Talk How To Start a Movement is still one of my favorites, recently published a new book titled Anything You Want. In that book he makes the point to business owners that they shouldn't make sweeping policy changes based on one customer experience. The video below also animates that point. While the book and video are clearly aimed at the business world, the message of not punishing everyone for one person's mistake also applies to schools.

H/T to Rand Fishkin via Google+