Showing posts with label budget. Show all posts
Showing posts with label budget. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Putting Federal Debt In Perspective

I know that this could be a hot-button topic for some readers, but I'm not looking to start any kind of political debate with this post. The following video came to my attention through Adam Baker at Man vs. Debt. The video takes the topic of debt ceilings at the federal level and puts it into the context of an individual citizen's budget.

Applications for Education
When students (and some adults) hear talk about budgets in the billions and trillions can be hard for them to wrap their minds around what a change in budget means. This video might help students see budgets and borrowing in a slightly different light.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

How Would You Spend Your Technology Funds?

I recently had a discussion with a teacher who works in a school that does not have a one-to-one program in place. This person had been asked by a district administrator to make some recommendations for technology purchases for the school and in turn asked me for my thoughts. My response was, "put laptops or netbooks in the students' hands." But I'm sure there are people who would disagree with my statement. Therefore, I've put together a simple poll asking for your thoughts on this question; if you're starting from scratch how would you spend your technology funds? (If you're viewing this in RSS, you might need to click through to the blog to see the poll).

If you selected other, please leave a comment.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Creating digital video projects with bare-bones equipment

Guest writer: Ben Wildeboer

Last semester I had students create videos that creatively describe the families of elements despite a lack of much in the way of digital video hardware, software, or technical support. There were some challenges along the way, but overall I found the project to be a positive experience.

Why video?
I don't simply want students to learn a set of facts. I want students to engage with the material and demonstrate the ability to apply their knowledge to situations beyond traditional classroom assessments. I also wanted students to think of how they could simply and clearly communicate scientific information to non-scientific audience. The video format allowed for easy sharing (through TeacherTube or YouTube) and encouraged the concise and creative communication of ideas.

Bare minimums
  • Cameras. I have an older Flip video camera and a digital still camera that takes movies. I encouraged students to use their own cameras if they had them as well (many did). Despite having four times as many groups as cameras, students rarely had to wait to film.
  • Computers. I had a cart of 24 laptops available for my use, though it would have worked just as well if I only had one computer per group.
  • Software. I had students used Windows Movie Maker, which comes pre-installed on pretty much every Windows computer. Some students also used PowerPoint to create and edit still frames in their videos.
  • File converter. The version of MovieMaker on our student computers didn't recognize the AVI video files my cameras use, though I know in general MovieMaker should play nice with AVI files. The first time around I used Zamzar to convert the video files to the WMV format. Zamzar works great, but is pretty slow. Even worse, due to downloading restrictions on student computers, I had to do all the conversions on my computer. This semester I'm using Format Factory on my machine, which has worked just fine so far. If the version of MovieMaker installed on the student computers was up to date, there would've been no need for conversion at all.
  • Microphone. Several groups chose to narrate over their video. I had a cheapo $9.95 mic and a nicer USB headset mic. Students preferred the cheapo mic because the student computers often didn't recognize the USB device.
  • Unforeseen conversion mess. The first time through, we had some pretty significant delays due to having to convert all the video files to the WMV format. I'm in the middle of the second time through this project right now, and I'm finding I'm much better prepared. Using Format Factory instead of Zamzar has helped cut down the wait time for file conversion and there seems to be much less frustration this time around.
  • Teaching the tool. I didn't spend time teaching students how to use MovieMaker. This was a purposeful move. I knew MovieMaker isn't overly complicated and the students were quite capable of figuring out a lot of its features on their own. I made a couple of quick screencasts going over the basics and provided links to other helpful screencasts. When a group had trouble with something, I would help that group and then have that group help any other groups experiencing similar problems.
  • My personal fear. I was pretty worried this whole project would crash and burn- especially considering my lack of experience with video and the bare-bones nature of my equipment. In the end, things turned out just fine, though the fear of the unknown is always something that can prevent us from trying out new ideas.
The results
They may not blow your mind, but I'm very happy with the final products:

Ben Wildeboer teaches 9th grade Integrated Science in Groton, CT. He can be found online at his blog (Sustainably Digital) and through Twitter (@WillyB).

Monday, February 8, 2010

Visualizing President Obama's Budget Proposal

The New York Times has an interactive infographic of President Obama's 2011 budget proposal that depicts the various parts of the proposal in comparison to each other. The portions of the budget that are the largest, occupy the largest section of the graphic. Place your mouse pointer over any section of the graphic to reveal the numbers for the subsections of each portion of the budget. You can also compare the 2011 budget proposal with the 2010 budget.

Hat tip to Cool Infographics.

Applications for Education
If US current events are a part of your curriculum, the US budget is probably going to be a topic of discussion. This infographic gives students a quick reference for that discussion. You could also use this infographic as the launching point for an activity in which students research the subsections of the budget proposal.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
How Much is One Trillion Dollars?
State of the Union - Video, Transcript, and Wordle
Economics Education Resources from the IMF

Monday, April 13, 2009

iLove Schools - Free Classroom Supplies

iLove Schools is a non profit organization that aims to provide teachers with classroom supplies that their schools don't provide. iLove Schools 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 can visit iLove School to choose a classroom to which they would like to donate supplies.

Applications for Education
As school budgets get tighter and tighter in response to the economy, services like iLove Schools are going to become more valuable to teachers. If you find yourself needing classroom supplies you may want to consider trying a service like iLove Schools before dipping into your own pockets.

FREE National Geographic map with purchases $65+!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Take Education on the Road

Target Brands is offering 5,000 field trip grants. Grants are available for up to $800. Applications for these grants are being accepted now through November 1st. Field trip budgets are often one of the first things to be cut when school districts face budget cuts. This is a great opportunity to take your students on a field trip without affecting your school's budget. You can learn more about the Target Field Trip Grants here. Apply for a grant here.

For the record, I do not have any affiliation with Target, I'm just passing along a great opportunity.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

New Podcast - How Do You Spend Your Money?

In this episode I share a conversation that has been reoccurring throughout the last couple of years in my department meetings. What are we going to use our limited budget money for? Until recently, I’ve always argued for not upgrading textbooks every couple of years and instead save the money to invest in technology resources. But last week I joined a conversation on Michael Wesch’s blog that forced me to look at the arguments again.

This episode was recorded using the voicemail service. It’s an easy way to create mp3 voice recordings. After recording the message I dragged it into Garage Band to edit and add the intro and outro music.

You can listen to the episode using the player embedded below or use the player embedded in the right hand column of the blog. The player in the right hand column of the blog will also provide you with my previous podcast episodes.