Monday, December 17, 2012

Video - Why The Solar System Can Exist

Last week I discovered the Minute Physics YouTube channel and I have watched a bunch of clips since then. One video that I watched this morning is Why The Solar System Can Exist. This short video explains why the planets stay in orbit without crashing into each other or spinning off without any direction. Take a look at the video below.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Three Approaches to Classroom Blogging

Last week I received a suggestion from someone who wanted me to offer a webinar about classroom blogging. That is one of the most common requests for workshops so it makes sense to offer that as a webinar in the future. If I do decide to offer that workshop as a webinar I will make an announcement here. In the meantime, the basic outline of my approach to classroom blogs is this; distribution, discussion, and demonstration.

At its most basic blogging is done for the purpose of quickly and easily distributing information to others. In the context of education this means distributing information to students and their parents. That information could be anything from assignment due dates to course notes to articles and videos that supplement your classroom instruction. Here's a cartoon explanation that I made about one of the benefits of teachers having blogs. 

This is where blogging becomes more than just an exercise in disseminating information. As a teacher you can post prompts to which your students write replies in the form of comments. Better yet, make students authors on a blog and have them post prompts for their classmates to respond to. The prompts could be in the form of a reflection written by a student, a thought-provoking article from the web accompanied by questions, an image, a video, or perhaps an embedded VoiceThread

The great thing about using blogs for classroom discussions is that it provides students with more time to reflect on what they're being asked before sharing their responses. Blog discussions also provides a forum for shy students to express themselves with written words instead of possibly staying out of a in-classroom conversation. 

By making students authors on a group blog or by having them maintain their own individual blogs they can demonstrate what they've found through research, what they learned, and what they have created to demonstrate their learning. In other words, your students' blogs become digital portfolios of what they have done in your classroom. One of the benefits of putting these portfolios on the web is that other students can view and learn from them. Another benefit is that now other teachers, school administrators, and your students' families can quickly discover the great work your students have done.

If you're wondering about the picture, it's of my newly adopted dog Max. I just wanted to include a picture of him in a blog post. This was the first time that he was relaxed enough to actually nap in his new home.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Greenwood, Maine. It has been a busy week here. On Monday morning I officially launched a new blog iPad Apps for School. More than 1,300 people have already subscribed to it via email and RSS. On Thursday evening I wrapped up the first session of my new webinar series Google Drive and the Common Core and by popular request I opened up another session of it in January. And this week Free Technology for Teachers received the Edublog Award for Best Ed Tech Blog. This was the fifth time that the blog has been honored with the award. Thank you all for your continued support over the years.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. 5,000 Stock Images for Google Drive Users
2. 22 Useful Google Forms for Teachers and Principals
3. A New Place to Find Educational iPad Apps
4. A Short Guide to Copyright for Educators
5. Vizaroo - Collect Student Feedback in Diagrams
6. Graphing Stories - The Math in Short Videos
7. Dirty Jobs of the Middle Ages

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Talking With Children

Like all of you I was floored by yesterday's tragedy in Connecticut. Newtown is a town that know fairly well because as I grew up in Connecticut I competed in some interscholastic events in Newtown and I still have family in the area. My heart goes out to all of the families and friends in Newtown.

Throughout the afternoon and evening yesterday people sent me links and comments about talking with children about tragedies. With the exception of this resource from PBS, Larry Ferlazzo has already listed everything that was shared with me. I encourage you to visit Larry's list and subscribe to it as I'm sure that he will continue to update it.

On a related note, Kristopher Still, husband of Beth Still and law enforcement expert on crisis response, has written a good piece of advice for schools on preparing for the worst case scenario.

Video - How To Create Infographics

Infographics are everywhere these days. I've shared a bunch of them on here over the last couple of years. When they are designed well they can provide a good way to interpret and talk about data. Creating an infographic can be a good way to get students to think about they data that they have collected or found in research. In the fifteen minute video below Linda Braun explains how to create an infographic and some of the nuances of the better infographics.

Creating infographics | screencast tutorial from School Library Journal on Vimeo.