Monday, September 16, 2013

Class Charts Adds Handy New Features

Class Charts, a free service for creating online seating charts and behavior charts and reports, has recently added some handy new features. As before you can create charts in a "seating" format that shows seat placement or you can use a list view. You can use students' real pictures in your charts or you can use one of the avatar images in your charts. Now you can flip the charts to display the students' perspective on a whiteboard.

Class Charts already allowed sharing of attendance and behavior data with parents and students, now you can share your narrative comments too.

The last update is an option to select all students with one click and assign attendance date to all with one click. This means that if all students are present, you don't have to individually mark them present because you can do it in bulk.

You can read more about Class Charts here.

Disclosure: Class Charts is advertising on Free Technology for Teachers this month. 

NASA Explains the Harvest Moon

In the northern hemisphere the Harvest Moon will appear later this week. This is the full moon that is closest to the northern autumnal equinox. In the short video below the team at NASA ScienceCasts explains why it is called the Harvest Moon and why other moons have names too. It's fair season here in Maine so harvesting is on a lot of people's minds, I found the video interesting, and I hope that you and your students do too.

A Glossary of Poetry Terms for Students

The Poetry Foundation offers some helpful resources for teachers and students. One of the resources that immediately jumped out at me when I visited the Poetry Foundation's Learning Lab was the glossary of poetry terms. Students can search the glossary alphabetically, by form & type of poem, by rhyme & meter, by schools & projects, by technique, and by theory or criticism.

The Poetry Foundation offers a free mobile app for iOS and Android. The app allows users to search for poems, save poems, and share favorite poems with their friends. You can search for poems by poet, by title, or by entering a line or two of a favorite poem.

Applications for Education
The Poetry Foundation's glossary and mobile apps could be helpful study and review resources for high school and college students. You could design a lesson around the glossary in which you ask students to find poems that exemplify various terms from the glossary.

How Lasers Work - A Short Explanation

Laser pointers, I've confiscated them from students and I'm sure that some of you have too. Some students love to play with them. But do they know how they work? Minute Physics offers a short explanation in the video that is embedded below.


Applications for Education
I know more than a few teachers who might make students watch a video like this one and have students create a short report about lasers after confiscating laser pointers from them.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Is Denali Shrinking? - A Mountain Math Lesson

Thanks to The Adventure Blog over the weekend I learned that Denali - AKA Mt. McKinley - has been re-measured. The mountain is now listed 83 feet shorter than the previously accepted height measurement. Visit The Adventure Blog for the full accounting of the change.  Reading the article reminded me of another mountain measurement lesson that I shared last year. That lesson is included below.

Last night I started to read Mount Everest, The Reconnaissance 1921 which I downloaded for free from Google Books. In the introduction there is a three page explanation of the methods used to measure the height of Mount Everest. An explanation of the differences in measurements is also provided in the introduction. Part of that explanation includes differences in snow fall, cyclical deviations of gravity, and differences atmospheric refraction when observations were made. I'm not a mathematics teacher and will never pretend to be one, but reading that introduction did get me thinking about a possible mathematics lesson.

Applications for Education
Turn to pages 10 through 13 of Mount Everest, The Reconnaissance 1921 and read about the difficulties of accurately measuring Mount Everest in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. It's interesting to note that most accepted measurements were more than 100 feet higher than today's accepted measurement. Tell your students that Mount Everest has shrunk over the last 100 years and ask them to solve the mystery of the shrinking mountain. 

On a mildly related note and on a promotion of a Mainer note, Snow in the Kingdom: My Storm Years on Everest by Ed Webster is one of the best books ever written about Mount Everest. If you enjoy good adventure stories and or stories about overcoming personal struggles, I think you will enjoy Webster's book. For my money, and I own two copies of it, it is far better than Krakauer's Into Thin Air.