Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Lesson Resources for Presidents' Day

This coming Monday is Presidents' Day in the United States. Here are some Presidents' Day related resources for students in elementary school, middle school, and high school students.

ReadWorks.org has created a collection of eighteen articles and primary source documents about Presidents' Day. The collection is organized according to grade level (K-8) and lexile level. Each article is accompanied by a set of comprehension questions and discussion questions.

The Google Earth Showcase offers a kmz file containing images and links to information about each former President of the United States. You can download the file and launch it in Google Earth or view it here using the Google Earth browser plug-in. The file shows where each president was from, offers an image of each president, provides a link to more information about each president, and shows how many states were in the Union when each president was elected. Google offers the following suggestions for using this file as a part of your Presidents' Day lesson plans.
  • Explore the White House, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and other historical monuments in 3D and have students explain how architecture is used to honor people, concepts and establishments.
  • View a 3D model of Valley Forge National Park in Google Earth.
  • View a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by Abraham Lincoln and map the areas where slavery ended, as well as the areas that were not initially covered by this executive order.
  • Discuss the famous painting “Washington Crossing the Delaware” by German American artist Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze and use the ruler tool in Google Earth to measure the width of the Delaware River.

And here's a fun overview of the US Presidents courtesy of the Animaniacs. The video ends with Bill Clinton so have your students try to make up a rhyming addition to the song to include George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Monday, February 10, 2014

How and Why You Might Want to Have Students Post to Blogger via Email

Many things about Blogger make it a popular choice for middle school and high school classroom blogs. It's easy to create a blog on Blogger, all back end maintenance is done for you by Google, and if your school uses Google Apps for Education it can be added to the list of services your students can access with their Google Apps for Education accounts. There is one thing that can't be done easily and that is moderate students' posts (not comments, posts) before they go live on your classroom blog. But if you have students post via email then you can moderate the posts before they go live.

The screenshots below provide directions for enabling posting via email. When you get to the third step select "save as draft" as the default setting. That setting will require you to manually approve posts from your Blogger dashboard before they go live on your classroom blog.

Step 1: After signing into your Blogger account select settings from the drop-down menu next to the name of your blog.

Step 2: Select "mobile and email" in the settings menu.

Step 3: Specify the secret email address to which posts will be sent. Select "save as draft" if you want to moderate posts before they appear on your blog.

Fun With Bad Math In Pictures

My recent email conversation with Marilyn Just about the Art of Problem Solving website. Reminded me of a great source of fun mathematics pictures to use in the classroom. The Bad Maths Flickr group contains lots of examples of bad math spotted in stores and other public places. Some of the bad math is obvious as in this picture taken in a Walmart store. Other examples are not as obvious.
cc licensed ( BY ND ) flickr photo by Danny Nicholson: http://flickr.com/photos/dannynic/6363183821/
Applications for Education
The Bad Maths Flickr group could be a good place to find some images that contain simple mathematics problems for your students to solve. For example, ask students to find the flaw in the math of this grocery store offer or this offer for cat food.

Sokratik - Create Visual Narratives

Sokratik is a new service for creating audio slideshows. To create a presentation on Sokratik you simply add a picture, video, and or text to each slide and when you're done adding slides you can record your voice over each one. Sokratik worked well in my first test but I was disappointed that I couldn't upload images. Images can only be added via URL which means that they have to be hosted online on a service like Flickr.

Applications for Education
Once Sokratik starts to support uploading images and improves sharing options, it could be a good, simple tool for creating audio slideshows to use as part of a flipped lesson.

Depression Explained With a Dog

I Had a Black Dog, His Name Was Depression is a short video that was released by the World Health Organization about eighteen months ago. I just learned about the video through a Common Craft Tweet. The video uses drawings and narration featuring a big black dog (kind of like Clifford the big red dog) as the representative of what it is like to live with depression. The four minute video does a wonderful job of explaining what depression is, its symptoms, and methods of dealing with depression. The video is embedded below.

Applications for Education
This video could be a great resource for teachers of health as well as for school counselors to have at their disposal. You might consider using the video before having students use go through the Depression Quest interactive story. Depression Quest is a website that features an interactive story designed to educate people about depression. The story puts you in the place of a twenty-something person that is struggling with depression. Throughout the story you are presented with choices to make that influence the next phase of the story. The story has 150 different scenarios and five possible outcomes at the end based on the choices you make as you read through the story.