Thursday, February 6, 2014

26 Videos About the Science of the Winter Olympics

The Winter Olympics presents a great opportunity to work some science lessons into your students' interest in a current event. The National Science Foundation offers a YouTube playlist of sixteen videos on the science of Winter Olympics events. These short videos teach lessons on the physics and engineering behind the events we see on television. That playlist is embedded below.


The playlist above is comprised of videos from 2010. The is a set of updated videos for 2014. The 2014 videos are available on the National Science Foundation website. My favorite video is this one about the engineering of the bobsled used by the U.S. team. Each of the videos is accompanied by an investigation guide / lesson guide for teachers.



Check out Larry Ferlazzo's blog for lots of other great resources about the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Winter Olympics Lesson Plans from Pearson OLE

The 2014 Winter Olympics officially kick-off tomorrow with the opening ceremonies. Some qualifying events actually started today. If you're looking for some Olympics-based lesson plans, take a look at the things Pearson OLE is offering. On Winter Olympics with OLE you will find lesson plans for elementary school and middle school students along with profiles of athletes and countries competing in the Winter Olympics.

Snowboarding and alpine skiing are currently featured in the Winter Olympics with OLE lesson plans. Curling and bobsled lessons will be available shortly.

The snowboarding lesson plan for elementary school students focuses on the creation of rules for sports and behavior of athletes. The middle school snowboarding lesson plan teaches students how a sport becomes an Olympic sport. The lesson plan concludes with students writing a persuasive piece for the Association of National Olympic Committees.

The Pearson OLE alpine skiing lesson plan for middle school/ high school asks students to use Google Maps or Google Earth to look at the terrain of the Sochi Olympics, compare it to past locations, and propose a future site for the Winter Olympics. The elementary school lesson plan focuses on what it takes to become an Olympian. The lesson plan teaches students about the importance of setting goals.

Visit The Morgan Library Online to See the Notes & Sketches of Famous Authors and Artists

The Morgan Library & Museum's online offerings include more than 30 collections of sketches, notes, and photographs from famous authors and artists. One of my favorite collections offered online by The Morgan Library & Museum is Mark Twain: A Skeptic's Progress.

Mark Twain: A Skeptic's Progress is a collection of Twain's handwritten letters, sketches, and story drafts. All twenty-two of those items are displayed in a viewer that will allow you to zoom in and see the detail on each piece of paper. The online exhibit also includes a collection of photographs of Twain at home.

Applications for Education
Before, after, or while they are working their way through Huckleberry Finn or Tom Sawyer have your students explore Mark Twain: A Skeptic's Progress to help them understand Mark Twain's way of thinking and how that influenced his writing.

TL Virtual Cafe - A Great Place for Teacher-Librarians to Connect

TL Virtual Cafe is an online community for teacher-librarians to connect and learn from each other. TL Virtual Cafe hosts numerous webinars and online discussions including a monthly show called TL News Night. TL News Night features conversations with experts from state library associations, an overview of "this month in libraries," and a tip, tool, or title of the month. The next episode is coming up on February 17th and will feature my friends from the Washington Library Media Association.  


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Strategies for Getting Access to Websites Blocked By Your School

For those hoping that this post might teach you how to bypass filters, I'm sorry there is nothing in this post about bypassing filters. That's not a strategy that I endorse. 

I can't tell you how many times I've presented a website or tool at a workshop and a teacher has said, "that's great, but my school blocks everything." Having useful sites blocked is frustrating for everyone. I've been there. In the fall of 2009 I returned to school after the summer break to find that all of the sites (VoiceThread, Wikispaces, Blogger, Animoto, and others) that I had planned to use were blocked by the new filter that had been in place. Fortunately, my principal was willing to listen to me and some of my colleagues and he overruled the network administrator. If you find yourself in a similar situation, try these things before throwing up your hands in frustration.

Tactics for getting access to the websites that you want to use.
1. Attitude: don't sit back and complain quietly, don't sit back and complain loudly. Rather you should go to the top with research and a plan. Straight Talk from the DOE is a good place to start that research.

2. Relationships: if I didn't have a good working relationship with my principal I wouldn't be able to walk into his and have him seriously consider what I ask for.

3. Persistence: changing a school's or a district's policy isn't going to happen overnight.

4. Recruit supporters: if it's just you leading the fight you might be looked at as "that crazy teacher," if there is two of you you might be looked at as "those crazy teachers," but if you can get a third supporter then you've started a grassroots movement. This is an idea that I borrowed from this Ted Talk by Derek Sivers and from Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant.

Update: Shortly after this post went live Doug Johnson emailed me with a link to something he wrote on the same topic a couple of years ago. Doug outlines ten steps in his post. But what I like best about his post is the chart that he uses to show the correlation between "knowledge of educational uses" and "permissiveness of internet use." Take a look at Doug's chart here.