Friday, May 17, 2013

Design Squad - Engage Kids in Hands-on Engineering Projects

Design Squad from PBS Kids features a great collection of hands-on activities for elementary and middle school students. The activities are designed to help students explore engineering concepts. The collection of activities is divided into ten categories. The categories are technology, structures, sports, space, sound, simple machines, health, green, energy, and electricity. Each activity contains a materials list and directions. Some of the activities also have demonstration videos.

Applications for Education
Having students try the Design Squad activities could be a fun way to get kids interested in engineering.

In addition to the hands-on activities, Design Squad has animations that you can download to use in your engineering lessons.

Still the Best Presentation on Copyright for Educators

In my previous post I shared Copyright on Campus which is a six minute overview of what copyright means for teachers. For a much more in-depth exploration of what copyright means for educators I highly recommend Dr. Wes Fryer's presentation Copyright for Educators. I've shared his presentation many times over the last four years. I still think it's the best online presentation that you can find on the topic. 

Copyright on Campus - A Six Minute Exploration of the Nuances of Copyright

Copyright and Fair Use are cloudy areas for many students and educators to try to navigate. This evening I found Copyright on Campus which is a six minute cartoon that does a nice job of explaining many of the nuances of copyright as it applies to educators. While the explanations are given for a collegiate setting they could be applied to K-12 too. The video is embedded below.

Copyright on Campus was produced by the Copyright Clearance Center which is a for-profit organization. That is probably why the video lacks a balanced discussion of section 107 of Title 17 of the Copyright Law of the United States. Rather than making you go look it up, I've pasted the content of section 107 below.

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include—

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

The Old Reader - A Google Reader Alternative That Looks A Lot Like Google Reader

Ever since Google announced that Reader will be shut-down on July 1 I have been recommending Feedly and Flipboard as alternatives. Both of those services use a magazine-like format to display your RSS subscriptions. Some people like that while others wish that they could stick with the old Google Reader lay-out. If you prefer the old Google Reader interface you might want to try The Old Reader.

The Old Reader is a free service that you can use to subscribe to RSS feeds and read all of the latest content from those sources in one place. So that you don't have to re-subscribe to the blogs that you love, The Old Reader will allow you to import your Google Reader subscriptions. You'll notice that The Old Reader looks and acts very similarly to Google Reader. The Old Reader will allow you to share posts, write notes about posts appearing in your account, and organize your subscriptions into folders.

Applications for Education
You don't need to be fanatical about subscribing to blogs the way that I am, but it is important for personal professional development to have a collection of blogs and websites that you follow for education news. The Old Reader makes it easy to subscribe to blogs and read them at your leisure.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Next Vista for Learning - Videos of the Year

Next Vista for Learning is the first video sharing site that I recommend to teachers looking for alternatives to YouTube. Videos on Next Vista are made by teachers and students for teachers and students. Throughout the school year Next Vista hosts video creation contests for students and teachers. Today, Next Vista announced their Video of the Year award recipients in three categories. The category titles and the winning videos are included below.

Collaboratively created video: Cause and Effect

Student video: Movie Tips and Tricks

Teacher video: Finding the Philosophy In Everyday Life: Existentialism