Monday, October 21, 2013

5 Online Tools That Help You Align Lessons to Common Core Standards

Common Core, love it or hate it, if you're teaching in the United States there is a good chance that you'll have to work with it. If that describes you, take a look at these five tools that can help you create lessons aligned to Common Core standards.

Teaching Objects is an online lesson planner that enables you to pull materials from your Google Drive and YouTube accounts into your lesson plans. As you write your lesson plans and organize your materials in your Teaching Objects account you can search for an identify the Common Core standards that align to each of your lesson plans. (To use Teaching Objects you do have to have a Google Account).

Alchemy SmartBinder is a free service for creating, organizing, and sharing lessons. With an Alchemy SmartBinder account teachers can create lessons that include text, images, videos, audio files, and web links. Each lesson can be aligned to Common Standards and or any other standards system that you use. Each lesson can be shared with students. All lessons are organized in courses in your Alchemy SmartBinder.

Common Curriculum is an online lesson planning resource that aims to help you align your lessons to Common Core standards. In Common Curriculum you can enter your courses and write your lesson plans. After you enter a lesson plan into your Common Curriculum planner you can click "search for standard" to have Common Curriculum search for Common Core standards that might match your lesson plan. The more text that you include in your lesson plan the more likely Common Curriculum is to find Common Core standards that match your lesson plans.

OpenEd is a site that claims to be the world's largest educational resource catalog. On OpenEd you can search for videos, games, and other educational materials. Your searches can be conducted according to content area, grade level, Common Core standard, or a combination of those factors. You can also search according to keyword although when I tried the keyword search option it didn't work well. As a registered OpenEd user (registration is free and takes less than thirty seconds to complete) you can create courses and playlists of videos and other materials that you find in the OpenEd directory. You can align your courses and playlists to standards. If you choose to align your course to a standard, OpenEd will suggest materials to you.

MasteryConnect is a service that offers a few products that I think teachers in U.S. public schools should know about. First, they offer a good system for tracking your students' mastery of Common Core standards. Second, they provide a great community of educators who are connecting and sharing lesson ideas. And third, MasteryConnect now offers a curriculum mapping tool that allows you to easily connect your current lessons and curriculum to Common Core and or state standards. You can see the MasteryConnect curriculum mapping tool in the video found here.

Disclosure: MasteryConnect helps feed me and my dog every month through their advertising payments.

Colds, Flu, and the Immune System

I've caught my first cold in two years. And like a lot of people I become a miserable grump when I'm sick. The upside of getting sick is that it reminded me of some resources that can help students understand colds, flu, and the immune system. Those resources are included below.

With the flu and cold season arriving, it's a good time to remind students of the importance of hand washing. The Scrub Club offers some nice resources for sharing those reminders with students in grade K through 3. Scrub Club is a website designed to teach students why they need to wash their hands. The Scrub Club offers videos, comics, and games designed to promote healthy hygiene habits to prevent the spread of diseases like the flu. For teachers, Scrub Club offers free downloads of posters, cartoon books, and lesson plans to promote hand washing. The downloads are available in English, Spanish, and French.

What is the difference between having a cold and having the flu? Explania has the answer in the video below.


What is ‘flu? - Explania


So how is a cold or flu passed from person to person and what exactly is it doing to your body? NPR answers those questions in the following animated video.


Paul Andersen explains the immune system to high school students in the video below. This is a video that would be a excellent to use as part of a flipped lesson.

7 Halloween Themed Educational Activities

Halloween is a just ten days away so you may be looking for some Halloween-themed educational activities to use in your classroom. Here are some activities to use with your students over the next ten days.

Number Chase - Math vs. Zombies is a free iPad game with a Halloween theme. The game is has three virtual worlds each containing ten levels of basic math problems. The object of the game is to correctly solve as many math problems as possible before the zombies catch you. The math of the game is basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

Scholastic offers a variety of Halloween-themed activities for elementary school students. The Halloween Tooth: Max's Math Adventure is a math activity for K-2 students. In the activity students read and listen to a poem about Halloween candy then complete a set of activities in which they make patterns and count candy. Halloween Web Hunt is a simple web quest for students in grades three through five. The activity has students visit a virtual museum and online libraries to answer questions about mummies, bats, and Halloween history. Writing Mysteries provides a template and walks elementary school students through the process of writing mystery stories.

Halloween Magazine offers a safety game for students. The game is designed to teach students to recognize safe and unsafe situations while they're out trick 'o treating.

ABCya is currently featuring a half dozen Halloween-themed activities for elementary school students. Ghost Typing is a typing game in which students have to type words appearing on the screen in order to bust the ghosts. The words that appear on the screen are Halloween-themed words like ghoul, pumpkin, and orange.

Smarty Games offers Halloween Math. In Halloween Math students move a ghost to catch the answers to addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problems.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

5 Free Apps and Sites for Creating Short Animations

Creating animations can be a fun element to add to a creative writing project. Creating the animation could be the final piece of the project in which students bring their short stories to life. You could also have students create short animations to use as story starters for their written works. Here are five free tools that students can use to create animations.

ABCya Animate from ABCya (disclosure, an advertiser here)allows students to create animated GIFs containing up to 100 frames. On ABCya Animate students build their animation creations by drawing, typing, and inserting images. Students can change the background of each frame, include new pictures in each frame, and change the text in each frame of their animations. The feature that I like best about ABCya Animate is that students can see the previous frames of their animations while working on a current frame. This helps students know where to position items in each frame in order to make their animations as smooth as possible. Students do not need to register on ABCya Animate in order to use the tool or to save their animations. When students click "save" on ABCya Animate their creations are downloaded as GIFs.

Stop Frame Animator from Culture Street is a neat tool for creating animated stop motion movies. Creating your animated stop motion video is a simple drag and drop process on Stop Frame Animator. To get started creating your stop motion video select a background scene then drag your characters into place. While you have nine background scenes to choose from, the only characters you can use are wooden manikins. You can position the manikins' arms and legs in every scene. After choosing your scene and characters you can add some other props like chairs and beach balls. And if you want you can add sound effects and music to your video by selecting them from the Stop Frame Animator gallery.

Animation Desk is an iPad app (free and premium versions available) for creating short, animated videos. The app allows you to create drawings using just your finger on your iPad's screen. In the free version of the app (the version that I tried) you can create up to 50 scenes in each of your projects. In each scene you can include as little or as much as you want to draw on the canvas. There are a few different brush and pencil effects that you can use in your drawings. The opacity of the colors you choose can be altered too. When you have completed drawing all of your scenes hit the play button to watch your animation unfold. If you're happy with your animation you can export it to YouTube.

Draw Island is a free online tool for creating drawings and simple GIF animations. Draw Island offers you your choice of four canvas sizes on which you can draw. Draw Island offers two canvas sizes for creating simple GIF animations. To use Draw Island just head to the site and select a drawing tool. You can draw free hand (or should I say free mouse?) or select pre-defined shapes to use in your images. When you're done drawing just click the save button to download your drawing or animation.

Wideo is a service that allows anyone to create animated videos and Common Craft-style videos online. You can create an animated video on Wideo by dragging and dropping elements into place in the Wideo editor then setting the sequence of animations. Each element can be re-used as many times as you like and the timing of the animation of each image can individually adjusted. Wideo's stock elements include text, cartoons, and drawings. You can also upload your own images to use in your videos.

Free Webinar - How to Create Your Own Science Videos

Untamed Science is a producer of educational science videos. I've featured some of their videos in the past. Most recently I featured their video about why leaves change color. On Tuesday, October 22 Untamed Science in collaboration with Pearson OLE will run a free virtual training on making science videos for your classes. In the webinar you will learn some best practices and interesting video techniques that you can use either for yourself or as an engaging classroom project. You can learn more about the webinar and register for it here.