Sunday, March 30, 2014

Four Sources of Print-on-demand Graph Paper

Every mathematics teacher I know needs graph paper. If you're a mathematics teacher and find yourself running short on graph paper or you need a graph paper that is different from what your school purchases, try one of these four places for printing graph paper.

Incompetech offers more than forty different graph and lined paper templates. The offerings from Incompetech even includes sheet music ledger.

Print Free Graph Paper offers eight graph paper formats. Print Free Graph Paper allows you to customize the size of the graph before printing.

Math Drills hosts fourteen templates for printing your own graph paper. The templates are in metric and imperial measurements.

Gridzzly is a free tool for designing lined, grid, and graph paper. Simply open the site, select the format for your paper (dots, lines, squares, or hexagons) then choose the spacing for the paper and print it. A ruler at the top of the page indicates the spacing of the dots, lines, squares, or hexagons on your page.

H/T to Lifehacker for Griddzly. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Two Activities to Help Students Learn About the Cost of Living

Spent is an online game designed to teach players about the challenges of living on minimum wage (or slightly higher) employment. Players begin by selecting a job which will provide the wages they have to survive on for a month. Then throughout the game players are confronted with challenges that they have to handle by making an "either or" choice. After each choice the player's account balance is adjusted. In addition to the change in the player's balance sheet, each choice is followed by an explanation of consequence of the choice made.

The Living Wage Calculator is a website developed and maintained by Dr. Amy K. Glasmeier at MIT. The purpose of the Living Wage Calculator is to provide a snapshot of what it actually costs to survive in counties and cities in the United States. The Living Wage Calculator shows the differences between minimum wages and minimum living wages for each county and some cities in the U.S. The calculator accounts for eight different household scenarios from single adult to two adults and three children living in the same household.

The Living Wage Calculator only accounts for the basic monthly expenses in each scenario. After looking at the Living Wage Calculator's data for your county, ask your students to try to account for other expenses that a typical family has. After they look at the data for their county ask your students to try to locate help wanted postings that provide a minimum living wage in their county. Then have them determine what type of education and training those jobs require.

60 Second Lessons on Economics, Philosophy, and Religion

60 second videos are clearly not a replacement for actual lessons, but they could be great introductions to larger lessons. They also provide a good model for short video projects that you can do with your students. The Open University offers three playlists featuring sixty second lessons on economics, philosophy, and religion. Those playlists are embedded below.



The Week In Review - The Ski-a-thon Edition

Good evening from Maine where I'm late with the week-in-review for a good reason. Today, I participated in a ski-a-thon to raise money for Maine Adaptive Sports. My friend Holly convinced me to join her team this year and we had a blast as "Queens (and King) of the Mountain." With more than 100 teams on the mountain over $300,000 was raised for this wonderful organization today. Wherever you are this weekend, I hope you have an equally enjoyable time.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Seven Registration-Free Drawing Tools for Students
2. A Handful of Google Calendar Tutorials for Teachers
3. Ten Good Online Tools for Creating Mind Maps
4. A Handful of Helpful Google Forms Tutorials for Teachers
5. By Request - Seven Tools for Building and Sharing Online Quizzes
6. Free Collaborative Video Creation with iPads
7. ClassDojo Launches a Messaging Service to Help Teachers Keep Parents Informed

Would you like to come learn with me this summer?
Click here to learn more about the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
IXL offers a huge assortment of mathematics lesson activities.
Class Charts provides a great way to record and analyze student behavior information.
Typing Club offers free typing lessons for students.
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 offers professional development workshops in Boston and Chicago.
StoryBoard That is a great tool for creating comics and more.
Fresno Pacific University offers a wide variety of technology courses for teachers.

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Friday, March 28, 2014

The Strength of Simple Videos

Over the last month I've facilitated a handful of workshops on the topic of video creation in the classroom. One of the points that I always try to stress in those workshops is that the focus of most student video projects should be on developing and delivering clear story lines. Yes, it is great if students use slick transitions and special effects, but those don't mean a thing if the video doesn't have a clear purpose (unless that purpose is to demonstrate editing skills).

Most of us are not teachers of video production, we're teaching some other subject and using the video project as a means to get students engaged in demonstrating their knowledge and skills. To that end, I always start video projects by outlining what it is I want students to demonstrate through their videos. Then I think about the video creation tools that will fit that purpose. You can see an outline of my process and the tools that I like here.

There two examples on Next Vista that I frequently share to illustrate the strength of simple videos that have clear story lines and purposes. First, is the Black Death In 90 Seconds in which a teacher uses still shots of Legos and other toys to explain the Black Death to students. This video packs in all the basics while entertaining at the same time. Second, is My Name is Michael in which a student named Michael explains what life is like living with Autism. Both videos are embedded below.



Both of the videos above were created with iMovie (now pre-installed on new iPads), but they could have just as easily been created with WeVideo or Windows Movie Maker.