Monday, April 23, 2012

PBS Kids Cyberchase - Dozens of Math Activities

PBS Kids Cyberchase offers dozens of online and offline mathematics games and activities for students. The collection of more than forty online games are designed to make students think about patterns and use logic to solve challenges. The offline activities use the same model, but are designed for hands-on offline learning.

The highlight of the Cyberchase online activities are the "quest" activities in which students have to solve problems as along a journey as they work toward a goal. For example, in Mission Motherboard students have to solve problems to earn money that they then use to buy parts to fix a motherboard. Not all of the games are as time intensive as Mission Motherboard. A quick activity is the Virtual Coin Flip. The Virtual Coin Flip teaches students a short lesson in probability. There is a supplementary explanatory video to go along with each game in the Cyberchase online activities.

Applications for Education
The large selection of online activities available on Cyberchase makes it a good resource to use in a classroom where you have groups of students working on different skills at the same time. I really like the quest activities because they provide a nice game environment in which students are working toward a goal through the use of their problem solving skills.

Come Work With Me This Summer


Over the last week or so I've been asked by a dozen or so people about where I will be presenting this summer. Here's the list and descriptions of events that I will be speaking at this summer that are open for registration right now. 

Once again this summer I will be working with Tom Daccord and the Ed Tech Teacher team to present a series of workshops on the campus of Harvard (yes, you can tell your students that you went to Harvard this summer). The first workshop is Teaching History With Technology on June 27 through June 29. You can register for that session here. July 16-18 Tom and I will again present best Web 2.0 Tools for Teachers. You can register for that session here. July 30 - August 1 I will again be part of the team presenting Teaching History With Technology. You can register here for that session. Both of these sessions were full last year. In fact, Teaching History With Technology was so popular that a second session was added. 

New Hampshire Educators, whether you have never used Google Apps in your classroom or you're looking to step-up your game to become a Google Apps guru, you'll want to consider coming to the Google Workshops for Educators that I will be presenting at July 10-13 in New Hampshire. These full-day workshops are coordinated by Dr. Mark Wagner. I will be one of four presenters along with Mark, Kern Kelley, and Alice Barr. You do have to complete an application to participate in these workshops. Please click here for all of the details about these Google Workshops for Educators. 

In late July (22-28) I will be running a week of workshops on Google Apps at the Maine School of Science and Math in Limestone, Maine (yes, that is in far northern Maine). My workshops are part of their week-long STEM camp.

Finally, I am developing a four part webinar series with Angela Maiers and Chris Dawson. The series is for educators who want to learn how to build their personal brands with an eye toward earning an income through speaking, writing, and consulting. I have had lots of people ask me over the last year how I have managed to earn money through my blog. In this series I'll share how I've done it and all of the good and bad lessons I've learned along the wear. Angela and Chris will be doing the same. More details and registration for the webinar will be available very soon. 

I will also be presenting at a handful of schools this summer. If you're interested in having me present at your school this summer, I still have some openings in my schedule. Please click here to learn more about my school PD offerings. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Blogger Buster is Back!

One of my go-to places for learning Blogger tips, tricks, and hacks is Blogger Buster. For the last year or so it was fairly dormant. In the last couple of weeks, it has come back to life with a bunch of new tips and tutorials. It's also a good place to find custom templates to use with your Blogger blog.

Applications for Education
If you're having students use Blogger to maintain their own blogs or digital portfolios, you may have some students who want to customize the look of their blogs to make them stand-out from the crowd. For those students, Blogger Buster could be a great place for them to find hacks to customize their blogs in their own unique style. In trying these hacks your students will also learn a bit about HTML and CSS.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Week in Review - It Feels Like Spring

Good morning. Another week has zoomed past us, but at this point in the school year some of us may think that's a good thing. This week the Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page received its 21,000th "like." Thank you all for sharing and liking my posts. After five years of blogging I am still amazed and flattered that you choose to spend some of your valuable time on my blog. As I do every weekend, I've put together a list of the seven most popular posts of the last week.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Teaching Parents and Others About Passwords
2. Using the Swabr Microblogging Network in Schools
3. Financial Literacy, Taxes, and Economics Lessons
4. Alpha Maps - Wolfram Alpha Entries on a Map
5. Geography, Class, and Fate of Titanic Passengers
6. Seven YouTube Channels Not Named Khan Offering Math Lessons
7. QR Codes Explained and Ideas for Classroom Use


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Three Questions to Consider Before We All Flip

Pedro Moura Pinheiro on Flickr
It seems like you can't open an education periodical these days without finding an article espousing the wonders of flipping the classroom. Like most initiatives in schools, flipping the classroom does have merit in the right situation. But also like most initiatives it's not a one-size-fits-all solution. Here are three questions that I have to ask before flipping a classroom.

1. Do the majority of your students complete their homework assignments on time on a consistent basis? If not, there may be a larger issue of student engagement and motivation to investigate. Furthermore, if you flip the classroom and students come to class having not watched the video lessons, how do you spend your classroom time the next day? Do you let students watch the videos in class? Do you reteach the lesson that they should have watched for homework?

2. Do all of your students have access to the web at home? If not, how are you going to address that? Will you distribute copies of your video files to students before they leave your classroom? Do you all of your students have computers or tablets to use at home? If the answer is "no" to one or all of these questions, are you setting up an inequitable learning environment?

3. Do you have time to create quality videos? If not, will you create some and then source the rest of from the web?

For the record, I'm not against flipping the classroom in the right situation. I just don't want to rush into a model that might not be the best solution for all situations.