Wednesday, July 16, 2014

National Geographic Offers Free Online Courses for Teachers

This fall National Geographic will offer two free online courses for teachers. Facilitating Learning Through Outdoor Watershed Education will be held September 17 to October 29, 2014. Water: The Essential Resource will be held October 15 to December 17, 2014. Both courses are hosted on the Coursera platform.

Here is National Geographic's explanation of Facilitating Learning Through Outdoor Watershed Education:
This course is designed for classroom teachers of Grades 4-9 to learn about watersheds and outdoor education using the Chesapeake Bay watershed as an example. The course introduces engaging technologies for investigating watersheds and helps you plan and effectively implement outdoor experiences.

This is National Geographic's explanation of Water: The Essential Resource:
This course, framed around California's Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI), focuses on ocean and freshwater topics and strategies for teaching environmental topics in Grades 4-8. Resources and support are provided for how to use EEI to implement Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy.

A Short Guide to Biodiversity

BBC News website includes a section for special reports. One of the categories of special reports is about science and technology. In the science section I found this short slideshow about biodiversity. The slides explain what biodiversity is, the animals most threatened by environmental changes, and the implications of reduced biodiversity.

Applications for Education
The information in the BBC's guide to biodiversity is not detailed. Therefore, it is best as a general introduction to the topic. I might consider sharing it with students and asking them to investigate the greater implications of reduced biodiversity in a particular ecosystem.

Crash Course World History 201

Last year John Green produced a Crash Course on world history. Recently, Green launched Crash Course World History 201. The new course is intended to go into more depth on some topics and fill in the gaps of the previous course. As Green states in the introduction below, the videos are not intended to prep students for the AP exam, they're intended to make students think about world history.

Word Crimes - Weird Al's Reminders About Common Grammar Errors

I'm a day behind YouTube trends so I just learned about Weird Al's new music video, Word Crimes. Word Crimes is a parody of Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines (I don't know who he is either) in which Weird Al points out some common grammar errors and how to correct those errors. The video is embedded below.

This is meant to be a fun video. I would consider my audience before sharing it with students.

6 Uses for Evernote in the Classroom

This is a guest post from Greg Kulowiec at, an advertiser on this blog. 

Evernote is a helpful productivity tool when used effectively on iPad and can play a significant role in a 1:1 iPad classroom. Whether being used in a Math, English, Foreign Language or Art class, by combining the capacity to type, insert images, annotate, and record audio, students can integrate their iPad with Evernote in a number of unique ways. Below are six approaches to using Evernote in the classroom to improve organization, promote reflection, and help students capture their process and thinking.

Math Class:
Students can use a combination of dry erase boards and paper to complete work in class. Periodically (during or at the end of the class) students can snap pictures of their work to drop into their Evernote math notebook. As a follow up assignment, students can then type short explanations or reflections of the problem solving process that they used with those problems. Further, by integrating tagging within their notes, students could tag their notes with the chapter, concept, vocabulary or even level of understanding with a scheme such as, “mastered”, “developing”, or “needs work.”

Teachers could also integrate their iPad and Evernote into their daily process by snapping pictures of the chalk or dry erase board as well as student work. Additionally, any files used in class can be inserted into a notebook to create a daily log of the class. Teachers can then share the notebook with individual students or post a public link to the notebook on their website or blog.

Students could use Evernote in their English or History class as a research journal, effectively replacing the traditional process of archiving research on notecards. An Evernote research notebook could be created and shared with the teacher at the beginning of the process. While researching, a new note for every source could be created to include the appropriate citation, pictures of excerpts from paper resources, screenshots from web resources, and a summary to explain how the content will be used in the research. Tagging can also play a helpful role in the process as students can tag their notes with a scheme such as: “introduction”, “thesis”, “evidence”, “topic 1, topic 2, topic 3” and “conclusion”.

Digital Portfolio:
Evernote is a single user tool, and the free-version, by default, sets all notes to private. Even sharing from the free version is “view-only.” However, when integrated with the blogging platform, any Evernote notebook can become a public portfolio. By creating a blog, a designated Evernote notebook becomes the blogging platform. When notes are ready to be published to the blog, tag them with “published,” and they will appear. Students can now include a combination of text, links, and images of their work that they would like to have presented in their public digital portfolio.

Foreign Language:
In a Foreign Language class, Evernote can act as an archiving tool for students to capture periodic audio recordings that demonstrate their ability to use the language. Whether students are given specific passages to read and record, or they are capturing a discussion with a classmate, the audio component can play a significant role in capturing and allowing the teacher to evaluate progress towards mastery of the language. The Evernote notebook being used for this process can be either shared directly with the teacher or via a public link.

Art Class:
Students could use Evernote to curate pictures of what they are both creating and examining into an Art notebook. Below each image that they are analyzing (theirs or from another artist), students can annotate and ink on top of the picture directly in Evernote to highlight specific characteristics, features, or sections of the piece. Then, below the picture, students can type notes that explain the image, capture their perspective, as well as defend or criticize the work. When combined with, their Art notebook could even become a public blog.

Elementary teacher:
Elementary teachers could use Evernote to build a reading fluency log. By creating one notebook for their class, and a note for each student, teachers could then have students do quick recordings to periodically capture their reading fluency and document improvement over time. Typed notes can then be added below each audio recording for evaluation purposes. If desired, the individual student note can be shared with other team teachers or even the parents of the student.

Greg Kulowiec will be speaking at the upcoming EdTechTeacher Summit in Chicago, July 29-30. To learn more about using Evernote and iPads, space is still available in EdTechTeacher's August 4-6 iPad Classroom workshops in Austin and Los Angeles.

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