Monday, May 30, 2011

The Science of Hitting a Baseball or a Softball

Sport Science on has couple of videos that are relevant as school winds-down and kids turn their attention to Little League baseball and softball. In MLB Vision Sport Science evaluates how quickly a player has to respond to a baseball thrown ninety miles per hour. Then to answer the question, can you really keep your eyes on the ball? Sport Science attaches an eye tracking device to Nomar Garciapara.

Watch Sport Science MLB Vision below.

In Hitting a Softball Sport Science explains the scientific and mathematical differences between hitting a baseball and hitting a softball.

Applications for Education
Throughout these videos we're dealing in hundredths of a second. These videos could be used to provide some "real world" context for a lesson on decimals and or fractions.

Snag Learning Film of the Week - The Kartal

This week's Snag Learning Film of the Week is The Kartal. The Kartal, produced by, is a short video featuring the traditional Indian instrument of the same name. The kartal (or khartal) is a small instrument created from two blocks of wood with small metal jingles attached and played with a clapping motion. Watch the video below and learn more about it here.

Watch more free documentaries

To learn more about traditional Indian music watch's video India's Song.

What Else Should I Read This Summer?

Yesterday, I met my mother and step-father in Portland for lunch (I had meatloaf, it was delicious). Since I was in the big city, I took some time after lunch to go to Border's and browse for a new book. Like a lot of teachers, I don't have a whole lot of time to read during the school year so the summer is when I do the bulk of my book reading. Anyway this morning I spent some time thinking about what I want to read this summer and what follows is what I've come up with. I'd love to have some suggestions to add to the list. If you have any must-reads for my list, please leave a comment.

Education Books
And What Do You Mean by Learning?
Mindstorms: Children, Computers, And Powerful Ideas
(Yes, I realize that Mindstorms is "old" but I've never read it and I find Papert's work intriguing to say the least).
Teach Like a Champion
(This is a book that we've been fed excerpts of at my school this year. I want to have the whole context of the work).

History Books
Colonel Roosevelt
American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House
The Tycoons: How Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Jay Gould, and J. P. Morgan Invented the American Supereconomy

Just for Fun Books
Crossing The Gates Of Alaska
A Walk Across America
No Shortage of Good Days

Considering that the books on Roosevelt and Jackson each approach 800 pages, if get through all nine of these books I'll be pretty happy with myself.

What are you reading this summer? Leave a comment and let us all know.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Guest Post - Sources of Funding and Free Stuff for Teachers

by David Andrade,

Teachers have always had to scrounge for funding and the current economic situation only makes this more of an issue. Even with government stimulus packages and big grants, teachers don't see much money for our individual use. We've all wished we had more money to purchase books, supplies, equipment, and other items for our students and our classrooms. But what do we do when the money just isn't there?
The first place to look is grants. There are a lot of grant sources out there. Not all of them are easy to get though. I always suggest that people ask for help from grant writers or other teachers who have been successful in getting grants. Most grants have tips and advice on their own web site also.

Some schools may qualify for Priority School District grants and other State and Federal grants. These are for low income districts and can be used for supplies and equipment to help with extra programs related to drop out prevention and improving student performance.

A great resource for funding classroom projects is Donors Choose. Donors Choose was actually started by teachers. You sign up for an account, fill out a project proposal, selecting the items you need from a variety of vendors, and then people with money to donate go to Donors Choose and select projects to fund. I have had multiple projects funded through Donors Choose. It is a very simple process and the staff can help you with any problems.

Corporate grants are another source of funding. ToyotaToshibaVerizon,MicrosoftBest Buy, and Target all have grant programs you can apply for.

Some vendors have their own grant programs, special pricing or can help you find grants to buy their products. Smart Technologies, Epson, Mimio andVernier are some of the companies that will work with you to hep you find funding.

Donations are another source. Local Businesses may be looking to donate money, supplies or equipment. Many companies would rather donate old equipment and supplies to a school rather than just throw it out. Your school gets supplies and the company gets a tax write off. I have gotten lab supplies from a DNA company that updated their labs, a computer from a small company that upgraded theirs, and our school has gotten office supplies and furniture from a nearby business that was moving their headquarters. Many teachers have contacts at area businesses through friends or family. Use these contacts to your advantage.

Do more with less. Look for cheaper or free alternatives to the major brands. There are a lot of manufacturers of interactive white boards out there. Shop around and find the best deal. Make your own white boards using melamine coated hardboard from a hardware store at a fraction of the cost of a commercial white board. 

Use free software and web services instead of paying for licensed software. There is a free resource for pretty much any paid software (check this blog you are reading along with Educational Technology Guy for some great free resources). Google is a great place to start for some great free services (email, calendar, office suite, and more).

Partner with local colleges. Sometimes they have older equipment that they can donate to you. They may also have grants that they can get that can also benefit the K-12 system.

Look for grants and funding opportunities on the web. TechLearning has a great section on funding tips. There is a Grant Guru column, as well as a data base of grant sources. The TL Advisor Blogs also have some great ideas and free resources.

Edutopia and Nortel Learn It also have grant and funding resources. And of course, you can always "Google" for more information. Educational conferences are another great way to find funding resources and talk with vendors on different ways of funding purchases.

You can also look at professional societies for the subject you teach. For example, I use aviation and aerospace examples to teach physics. I have gotten grants and resource from the Air Force Association and American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). Many of these types of groups have classroom grants. 

Zondle - Games to Support Learning

Zondle is a provider of free games designed to help students practice recalling information. Zondle offers hundreds of combinations of topics and games. When you sign into Zondle select a subject area and topic. After selecting a topic Zondle will generate a list of games based on that topic that you can play. Registered users of Zondle can embed the games into their own websites and blogs. Learn more about Zondle here and in the video below.

Try a sample Zondle game below.

Applications for Education
The Zondle site talks a lot about a feature for teachers to create student accounts and monitor the progress of their students. I searched and searched but couldn't figure out how to enable that option (it could very well be something obvious I'm overlooking). That said, if you're looking for some good review games for elementary school and middle school students to play, Zondle could be a good resource for you. If you have a classroom website go ahead and put a few Zondle games on it for your students to play.