Saturday, April 14, 2012

Teaching Parents and Others About Passwords

In 2010 Google launched Teach Parents Tech to help people teach their parents (and others) some basic computer and web browsing skills. Teach Parents Tech is a handy site that I have used with my own parents. But last night, I played the role of in-person tech support as I tried to explain computer viruses to my step-father. He wasn't accepting my explanations so I went to my Common Craft library and pulled up Computer Viruses and Threats Explained by Common Craft.
After watching the video we talked about creating strong passwords to reduce the risk of having an account compromised. While I didn't show my step-father this video, I do think it is a good way to explain how to create strong passwords.

How to choose a safe password - Explania

Applications for Education
If you're trying to teach your parents, students, or anyone else how to protect their computers and personal information, these videos can be helpful. Sometimes just hearing the same explanation in a different voice makes  the lesson easier for an audience to remember.

Geography, Class, and Fate - Titanic Passengers

F.G.O. Stuart
Geography, Class, and Fate is an interesting map of Titanic passenger data. The map shows where each passenger was from, which class they were traveling in, and whether or not they survived the Titanic's sinking. Click the placemarks on the map to learn the passengers' names, where they were from, and the class of service in which they traveled.

The BBC has a wealth of information about the Titanic. One of the resources they have featured right now is Titanic: Faces of the Crew. Click on the pictures of the crew to reveal their names. You can filter the display according to gender, position in the crew, and whether or not a crew member survived.

Applications for Education
Students could use both of these resources to make comparisons and correlations between the class of service a person traveled in, role in the crew, gender, and his or her likelihood of survival. The map includes the names of all registered passengers on the ship while The Faces of the Crew does not list all crew members names.

H/T to Google Maps Mania and Larry Ferlazzo for these fine resources.

Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good afternoon from Maine. Rarely do I post this late on a Saturday, but I spent the morning taking my mother out for her birthday brunch. Not to fear, I have the week in review primed and ready to go now. I should note that the week in review is one of the most popular posts every week, but I have never linked back to it because I'm afraid of creating an infinite loop of chasing old links. That could change if you want it to. I'm looking for your feedback, should I link to previous week in review posts if they do rank as one of the most-read posts of the week?

Here are the most popular posts of the last week:
1. Google Docs for Teachers - A Free eBook
2. How to Use Evernote for Bookmarking and More
3. Snapify - A Tool to Quickly Find Definitions and Related Websites
4. Video - Using Flubaroo to Grade Quizzes
5. Storyline Online - Actors Reading Stories to Kids
6. mySchoolNotebook - Organize Your Notes and More
7. Collaborative Writing Across Multiple Grades

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Financial Literacy, Taxes, and Economics Lessons

This evening I opened an email from Edutopia that contained a nice, simple infographic about the importance of financial literacy. The infographic has some basic statistics about the debt load carried by young people and how personal finance education can change those statistics. The infographic is really just a promotion for Edutopia's other materials about financial literacy. It also reminded me of some other resources for teaching students about personal finance and taxes. As the income tax filing deadline is just a few days away in the United States, I thought it would be good to highlight some resources for teaching about taxes too.

The IRS website, Understanding Taxes, is a good source of lesson plans and individual learning materials about taxes and budgets. In the teacher section of the site you will find lesson plans like this one (opens as pdf) designed to teach students about services for which tax revenue is used.

PBS Kids has a great lesson plan for introducing young students to the concepts of budgets and taxes. The lesson starts with a focus on the students' personal budget before moving onto the basic concepts of government budget.

At Where Did My Tax Dollars Go? you can enter your gross income for the year and your filing status to see a break down of where your dollars went. The break down includes an interactive pie chart that you can click on to find a further break down of each category on the chart. For example if you click on the National Defense section of the pie chart you will see how many of your dollars went to the Army, Navy, and Air Force.

Just where does of all the collected tax revenue go? What We Pay For has some answers to that question. What We Pay For uses publicly available tax data to show you how your tax money is appropriated. On the left side of the screen you will see the total revenue and appropriations for the entire United States. On the right side of the screen you can enter your filing status and pre-tax earnings for the year to see the approximate amount you will pay toward US budget items. You can enter your pre-tax earnings as an annual figure, monthly figure, weekly, daily, or hourly wage.

Visual Economics is a provider of articles and infographics about various economics-related topics. One of their better infographics is titled How Wealthy Countries Tax Their Citizens. The infographic depicts how the world's 29 wealthiest countries tax their citizens and how that money is spent.

For high school students, college students, and adults CNN's Explain It To Me video about the "Buffett Rule" explains why sometimes the super rich don't pay as high a percentage of their income in taxes as the rest of us.

And here you can find eleven economics infographics that I've highlighted in the past.

Using the Swabr Microblogging Platform in Schools

Back in January I wrote a short review of a new microblogging platform called Swabr. Swabr allows you to create your own private microblogging system that only people you authorize can join. Think of it like Twitter except closed off to everyone except those people you really want to interact with.

Back in January I suggested some ways that Swabr could be used in schools. This morning I learned through a Swabr blog post that there are schools now using Swabr as, in Swabr's words, bulletin board 2.0.

Applications for Education
Beyond using Swabr as bulletin board 2.0, it could be used by instructors to create discussion groups and study groups.