Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Year in Review - No, It's Not a List of Links

The end of 2013 is less than eight hours away as I sit to write this final blog post of the year. My usual week-in-review and month-in-review posts are lists of the most popular posts. This year-in-review will not be like that. Instead, I want to take a few minutes to share the highs and the lows and the lessons I learned in 2013.

Personal highs, lows, and lessons learned
This year I was fortunate to see a lot of the country (U.S. Airways says I flew 156,000 domestic miles) for business and pleasure. Along the way I made new friends in Arizona, re-connected with old friends in Iowa, Colorado, and Nebraska, and made new friends right here in Maine. Lesson learned, one can never have too many friends. Unfortunately, I lost a friend this year too. The lesson there, be open and share.

I had the great opportunity to visit classrooms all over the country this year. I spoke with students from first grade through twelfth grade. I learned something new in each visit, but the most important lesson for me was  that I do miss having my own students on a full-time basis. Department meetings, on the other hand, are not something that I'll ever miss.

Finally, take time read books instead of web articles. Try as I might, I still can't focus on reading books when they're on a tablet because it's too easy to exit out to check Facebook for "just a second." However, I can focus when I have a physical book in my hands.

Blog/Business lessons learned
This year I launched three new projects as off-shoots of Free Technology for Teachers. The first project I launched technically launched in December 2012, but it didn't really get going until 2013. That project is iPadApps4School.com. Since the launch 8,500 people have subscribed. In launching that blog I learned a lot about WordPress and a lot about iOS.

The second project I launched was another that actually started in December 2012 and that is PracticalEdTech.com through which I've offered webinars on Google Drive, blogging, and Google Earth. This was the project I was most nervous about because it was the first time I ever directly offered anything for sale. Some people didn't like that I offered it as a paid product, but I also heard enough positive feedback to continue. The lesson I learned with this project is that there were many more hidden costs and tasks than I anticipated at launch.

The third project I launched this year was the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp. Twenty-five of you traveled to beautiful Bethel, Maine for two days of learning with me, Jen Deyenberg, and Jim Wells. Despite one network glitch on the second day, the two days went as well as I hoped. My take-away from the two days, give more time for projects and hands-on learning. I also learned way more about facilities rental costs than I ever thought I'd knew ($250 to rent extension cables for the day, yikes!). A few people have already asked if I will offer the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp again this summer, the answer is yes but I don't have dates to announce at this time.

Looking forward to 2014
I'm looking forward to speaking at more conferences and providing more professional develop workshops in schools. I'm also looking forward to launching a new blog through which I'll offer advice about blogging and consulting (the first month of content is written, the design is the hold up right now). Finally, I'm looking forward to working on my goal of talking to more people at conferences (I'm nervous in small talk situations) beginning with BETT and TeachMeet BETT in January (I tend to get lost walking in cities so if you see me looking confused in London, please help me).

The Month in Review - December's Most Popular Posts

Last sunset of 2013
Good evening from Woodstock, Maine where I've just watched the final sunset of 2013. I hope that you all are enjoying your holiday break.

As I do at the end of every month, I've put together a list of the most popular posts of the month. I post these lists for two reasons. First, over the years I've heard from many people who say the lists help them quickly catch up on things they missed earlier in the month. Second, writing the lists helps learn what types of resources I should be posting more or less of.

Here are this month's most popular posts:
1. 15 Options for Creating Screen Capture Images and Videos - Including on Chromebooks
2. Three Good Tools for Creating Multimedia Books Online
3. Have You Looked At Google Lit Trips Lately?
4. 5 Ways for Students to Create Audio Slideshows
5. By Request - Ten Helpful Resources for Middle School and High School Math Teachers
6. Some Handy Gmail Options You Might Be Missing
7. Borrow and Lend eBooks Through Open Library
8. Five Good Online Tools for Creating Infographics
9. 11 Free Online Typing Practice Activities for Students
10. Five Tools That Help Students Plan Stories

In January I am again offering my PracticalEdTech.com series How To Use Google Drive In SchoolClick here for registration details. 

Would you like to have me visit your school this year?
Click here to learn more about my professional development services.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
Remind 101 offers a free tool for sending text message reminders to students.
IXL offers a huge assortment of mathematics lesson activities.
Typing Club offers free typing lessons for students.
MathDisk provides a great platform for creating interactive math lessons.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
MasteryConnect provides a network for teachers to share and discover Common Core assessments.
ABCya.com is a provider of free educational games for K-5.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is organizing two iPad summits this school year.
Classmint offers a nice multimedia flashcard service.

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NRICH - An Excellent Source of Math Lesson Activities

At the end of yesterday's post of ten resources for high school and middle school math teachers I asked for suggestions for additional resources. This morning Colleen Young (whose blog is a must-read for math teachers) emailed me with the suggestion of NRICH.

NRICH is a provider of mathematics curricula and lesson plans covering everything from basic addition through advanced algebra and geometry. I initially reviewed it three years ago, but since then it has been overhauled for improved navigation. NRICH has sections for teachers and sections for the students. The sections have corresponding materials. For example, right now when you click on the page for secondary teachers you will see the featured activity is a time estimation lesson. A corresponding activity is presented to students when they click on "secondary students."

On NRICH you can find dozens of posters to download and print. Each of the posters displays a mathematics "trick" or challenge question. Teachers can download and print any of the posters in the collection. Each poster in the collection is linked to a problem page that contains notes for teachers using the posters.

Monday, December 30, 2013

By Request - Ten Helpful Resources for Middle School and High School Math Teachers

Recently, on the Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page someone asked for suggestions for math resources for grades 7-12. That covers a broad range of topics in math, but I've done my best to cobble together a list of resources that I think will help middle school and high school math teachers and their students. I have not included the obvious option of Khan Academy.

Get the Math is a super website designed to provide teachers and students with Algebra-based mathematics challenges. Get the Math tries to put the challenges in the context of the  "real world" scenarios of fashion design, video game design, basketball, restaurant management, movie special effects, and music production. Get the Math features short videos of professionals explaining and showing how mathematics is used in their professions. After watching the videos students try to complete a series of challenges based upon the work done in the professions of fashion design, video game design, and music production. For example, after watching the Math in Fashion video students have to design a shirt to match a specific price point

A couple of months ago Curriki released a series of six PBL geometry projects that could make geometry interesting and fun for high school students.Curriki's new geometry course features six PBL projects. Each of the projects is aligned to Common Core Standards. The course is not a self-directed course for students. The course is designed to be taught by mathematics teachers who want to incorporate PBL. The projects in the course can be used in sequence or used as stand-alone units. All materials needed for leading the projects are included available on the Curriki site. You will have to create an account and sign-in in order to access the materials. Curriki accounts are free.

Opus is a service that aims to help middle school mathematics teachers discover sample math problems aligned to Common Core standards. To find problems on Opus search by entering a topic and selecting a grade. You can also find problems by clicking the "browse the Core directly" link on the Opus homepage. Either way when you find a problem you can save it to your free Opus account where you can then generate a Word doc or Google Document of all of your saved problems. You can also create an answer sheet in your Opus account.

MathDisk is a service that teachers can use to develop interactive mathematics worksheets. Through MathDisk's "Math Builder" tool you can design mathematics models that your students can use online. The models and worksheets you develop online can also be downloaded to use offline if you also install the MiBook software on your desktop or on your Android device. If you don't have time to create new materials, the MathDisk gallery has pages of models and worksheets that you can choose from. Everything in the gallery, like everything you create through MathDisk, can be downloaded and or embedded into your own website or blog.

TenMarks is a service that offers an online mathematics program designed to supplement your in-classroom mathematics instruction. All of the problems in TenMarks' bank of more than 20,000 are aligned to Common Core standards. Within TenMarks teachers create class rosters and accounts for their students. After creating rosters teachers can assign practice problems to students. Teachers can assign problems based on the Common Core Standards that their students are trying to reach.

If you use GeoGebra in your classroom, you should bookmark GeoGebraTube. GeoGebraTube is a community site for teachers who teach with GeoGebra to share and find a wide range free resources. On GeoGebraTube visitors will find user-created tutorials, lessons, and worksheets. Visitors can search for resources by age group, language, and material type. All materials are freely available for noncommercial re-use.

Math Open Reference is a free online reference for geometry teachers and students. Math Open Reference features animated and interactive drawings to demonstrate geometry terms and concepts. The table of contents on Math Open Reference is divided into four basic categories; plane geometry, coordinate geometry, solid geometry, and function explorer tools. Click on any subject in the first three categories to find definitions, examples, and interactive drawings. In the function explorer category users can select linear functions, quadratic functions, or cubic functions to explore how changes in variables affect the graphed output.

Dan Meyer has a site called 101 Questions on which he is sharing images and videos as prompts for developing math questions. Each image and video has a 140 character field in which you can enter your question. Questions are compiled and can be Tweeted. Take a look at the top 10 to get a feel for what you will find on 101 Questions. I've embedded one of the videos from 101 Questions below. I won't pretend to be able to explain the larger purpose of the site as well as Dan does, so I'll just encourage you to go read his blog post about it. And if you need more background on who Dan Meyer is, watch his TED Talk Math Class Needs a Makeover.

Incredible Shrinking Dollar from Dan Meyer on Vimeo.

ULearniversity is a free site featuring arithmetic and algebra lessons. On ULearniversity you can watch tutorial videos and practice the concepts taught in the videos. ULearniversity provides instant feedback on your practice problems. As a registered ULearniversity user you can track your progress.

Math Shorts is the latest addition to Planet Nutshell's line-up of  animated educational videos. Math Shorts will eventually have twenty videos in the series. Right now the series contains eight animated videos for elementary school and middle school students. Each of the videos has a Common Core standard aligned to it. All of the videos have supporting materials from PBS Learning Media attached to them. The first video in the series is embedded below.

Suggestions welcome: I have never taught math and I'm open to suggestions for resources that should be added to this list. If you have a suggestion please feel free to email me at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers (dot) com. 

Twenty Educational Games About Marine Life

NOAA's Games Planet Arcade offers twenty-five educational games for young students. The games are intended to help students learn about oceans, wildlife, and weather. Twenty of the games address topics related to marine life.

While the games are not terribly complex or fancy, they do offer some solid information for young students. For example, the Humpback Whale Migration game isn't much more than a board game that provides students with information about Humpback whales. As students move across the board they are stopped at spaces offering facts about the annual migrations of Humpback whales.

Sea Turtles and the Quest to Nest is one of the headline games of NOAA's Games Planet Arcade. The object of the game is to help a sea turtle avoid common obstacles on while navigating the ocean and the beach before laying her eggs and returning to the sea.

About half of the games are hosted on NOAA's website and the others are linked to the websites of PBS, National Geographic or the Environmental Protection Agency.

Applications for Education
If you're looking for some simple games to supplement a lesson on oceans, ocean wildlife, or weather, take a look at NOAA's Games Planet Arcade.