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5 Best Virtual Field Trips

Cross posted at: 5 BEST Virtual Field Trips Kelly Tenkely | TheApple.com Field trips can be amazing learning experiences.   They provide students with the opportunity to actively participate in education, offering learning possibilities that aren’t readily available in the classroom.  Unfortunately, it isn’t always practical or possible to take students on field trips.  Tight budgets, location, transportation, time, and resource restrictions can keep your students school-bound.  Virtual field trips can fill this void.  Virtual field trips have come a long way from the page of links they used to be.  Now students can explore the world with simulations that are so realistic, they will believe they have left the classroom.  Below are five of the best virtual field trips on the web: Virtual Field Trip #1: Smithsonian Museum Not all cities have access to an incredible natural history museum like the Smithsonian.  This virtual tour is the next best thing to taking an actual field trip to the Smithsonian. The Smithsonian Virtual Museum is truly remarkable.  Students can ‘step’ into the exhibits and take a tour through the entire museum in a 360 degree environment.  The virtual museum is made up of panoramic pictures of the actual exhibits inside the Smithsonian.  Using their mouse, students “walk” through the museum room by room. They can zoom in, look left and right, look up and down, and walk forward or backward.  Camera icons throughout the museum show students hot spots where they can get close to an exhibit panel.  As students explore the museum, they will see: the ocean hall, ancient seas, dinosaurs, early life, fossils, plants, mammals, African cultures, the Ice Age, Western cultures, reptiles, insects, butterflies, bones, geology, gems, and minerals. Students can explore the various exhibits on individual computers in a computer lab setting or life size with an interactive whiteboard or a projector.  Split your students into groups and assign them an exhibit to explore and take notes on.  After students have explored and become the ‘expert’ on their exhibit, project the Virtual Smithsonian Museum on an interactive whiteboard/screen.  Explore the museum as a class. As you enter an exhibit, invite the group who explored the exhibit to act as tour guides. Even if you have access to a natural history museum for field trips, the Smithsonian Virtual Museum is still incredibly useful.  Prepare for a field trip to your local history museum by visiting the virtual museum.  After the field trip, students can compare and contrast what they saw at the local museum with the Smithsonian. Virtual Field Trip #2: UPM Forest Life A field trip to a forest is a wonderful way to learn about tree species, ecosystems, habitats, and animals.   The UPM Forest Life virtual field trip will have your students believing that they are actually in a forest smelling pine trees. UPM Forest Life aims to teach about forest sustainability.  It does this by inviting students to take a virtual hike through a forest.  The forest is made up of panoramic pictures of an actual forest.  Students can zoom in, look up and down, left and right, and ‘walk’ through the forest with their mouse.  Students start their field trip with a virtual tour guide.  As students ‘hike’ through the forest, they will click on hot spots that reveal videos of forest life, pictures with information, and sounds.  Throughout the forest are opportunities for learning about forest planning, harvesting, regeneration, re-spacing, thinning, transport, recreation, training, berry picking, bird watching, hunting, fishing, natural forests, valuable habitats, deadwood, forest structure, water, native tree species, and the various animals that call a forest home.   This virtual field trip is impressive on individual computers and amazing when viewed as a whole class on an interactive whiteboard or with a projector.  Allow students to take turns acting as forest rangers. They can click on various videos, pictures, and information embedded in the forest.  Students can record their observations of the forest, trees, animals, and sounds they experience in an observation journal. Virtual Field Trip #3: Moon in Google Earth The moon is no longer off limits for field trips!  Students can visit the moon virtually using Moon view in Google Earth.  Google Earth makes for excellent virtual trips around the world; in Google Earth 5.0 you can also take your students to the moon. Moon in Google Earth makes it possible for students to take tours of Apollo missions to the moon, from takeoff to landing – all narrated by Apollo astronauts.  Students can explore 3-D models of landed spacecraft, zoom into 360-degree photos of astronaut footprints on the moon, watch rare TV footage of the Apollo missions, and, of course, explore the surface of the moon.   Take your virtual field trip to the moon as a class with an interactive whiteboard/projector, or send students on their own mission to the moon using student computers.  Assign groups of students to an Apollo mission to explore.  When the ‘astronauts’ return to earth, they can tell other students about their mission to the moon or write a newspaper article about their journey. Virtual Field Trip #4: Planet in Action Real field trips don’t allow for adventures like a helicopter ride above the Grand Canyon, an expedition to Mount St. Helens, or a helicopter tour of Manhattan or Disneyland Paris.  Planet in Action makes all of these possible with the help of Google Earth. Planet in Action is an outstanding way to bring learning to life.  Students can take a guided tour of the Grand Canyon, Mount St. Helens, Manhattan, or Disneyland Paris or take control and explore on their own.  These journeys are incredibly lifelike on an interactive whiteboard/projector.  Take your whole class on a virtual helicopter ride above famous landmarks that they are learning about in class.  First, watch the recorded tour and discuss the different landmarks as you see them.  Then ‘hire’ a student helicopter ‘pilot’ who can navigate a trip for the class.  On individual computers, students can create postcards of their virtual field trip or create their own virtual tour that can be saved and shared with others or with Planet in Action.  As students fly above the landmarks, a Google Map will show them exactly where they are in the virtual tour. Virtual Field Trip #5: AR Sights Most students probably won’t have the ability to travel to the pyramids or the Eiffel Tower for a field trip. Augmented Reality makes it possible to see these landmarks, and more, using Google Earth in 3-D. Augmented Reality requires a webcam, browser add-on, and a printout provided by the AR Sights website. After a simple graphic is printed out, it is held up to a webcam.  Students will see a landmark spring to life right before their eyes on the computer screen.  As the printout is tilted, twisted, and moved the landmark moves accordingly.  Students can view the famous landmark in 360-degrees, 3-D, and up close.  It is truly incredible! AR Sights makes it possible to view Google Earth right in a web browser and then zoom into places of interest, looking at them in 3-D with Augmented Reality.  Students can ‘fly’ around Google Earth, when they find a place of interest, they will hold the printout up to the camera and explore the landmark.  This is an amazing visual method for learning about geography and famous landmarks.  If you only have access to one webcam, use it with a computer connected to a projector or interactive whiteboard for whole class exploration. Geography, budget, and time are no longer field trip restrictions.  With virtual field trips, students can explore the universe using a computer.  These simulations are so realistic that your students will believe they have traveled the universe, actively participating in their learning.

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Cost of NCLB Testing Info Graphic ($5.3 billion is TOO high)

Posted by admin | Posted in Download, education reform, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources | Posted on 21-09-2010

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Lately I have been wondering about how much state testing costs us.  There are a lot of costs involved in standardized testing.  In addition to the cost of administering, grading, and recording the test, there are other less tangible costs such as the impact on learning.  Curious, I sent out a tweet asking if anyone had info on how much testing cost (I was coming up empty in a Google search).  A few of my PLN sent me a link to Stateline.org where I found this:

I knew the numbers would be high, but this is shocking. All of that money per state for testing.  I started wondering what else that money could have been used for and sent out another tweet, this time asking what one thing teachers would want in their classrooms if money was no object.  The info graphic above holds the results.

The info graphic is based on the following numbers (links to data sources):

iPod Touch 4 $229

iPad $499

Average cost of children’s books $21

Soccer ball $10

64 Count Box of Crayola Crayons $5

Exercise ball (to use as chair replacements) $20

Price/square foot for school addition $222

Paraprofessional Salary/year $26,000

Violin $340

I don’t know about you, but every one of those items above feels like a better use of money.

Image links: Pencils, Exercise ball, iPod Touch 4, iPad, Soccer Ball, Crayons, Violin


Price: $
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Comments (16)

You should be able to get down to $200/sq ft on a school addition because I checked out some figures for the west coast and was able to get around $200/sq ft.

That is a very cool info graphic! Isn’t Pages brilliant? I love the way you unified it with frames, and added shadow to give it that stuck on the notice board look.

[…] iLearn Technology » Blog Archive » Cost of NCLB Testing Info … […]

I love that info-graphic. Nicely done. Startlingly depressing but makes a great point.

It is depressing!

Yes, I love Pages (obviously!!)

Even better! I got my info from link below of averages.

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by JackieGerstein Ed.D., Shelly S Terrell, David, Jenna Ream, Kim Kadeem and others. Kim Kadeem said: http://bit.ly/dkFlTC on iLearn Technology. NCLB in it's true form… what a waste of $ […]

The figures you present and the available options for spending the money is quite amazing and rather scary really. Now that people can see how much money is allocated to testing yearly, there might be more of a fuss created about the spending?

$5.3 BILLION?! Whew! It certainly seems that we are requiring schools to administer more and more tests and laying off more and more teachers and turning out more and more students without basic skills. How can that be?! NCLB is certainly far from perfect but what is a better way to do fair performance reviews for teachers? My kids have been lucky, they have had some very good teachers, a handful of phenomenal educators and a few duds. How do we get rid of the duds? Face it, there are plenty of people doing jobs they don’t enjoy and/or do not do well. In the business world, they are given performance reviews and, if not doing their job, let go. In my state it is nearly impossible to get rid of a bad teacher, especially because it takes a few years to see if the person is “cut out” for teaching, by then they are in. How about using some of that money for development? And help “bad” teachers get better or let them go?
Was development time/training one of your options in your survey of ways to spend the money? There has to be accountability, there has to be some kind of performance review, but is testing students the way to do it? Seems like there must be a better way.

Contrary to what many believe, getting rid of bad teachers is not difficult – including ones that are “tenured.” To do this, administrators, mostly building principals, must make many observations and document their findings. This is usually what is not done on a regular basis. I’ve personally seen experienced teachers let go because of job performance. In addition, those “duds” you mentioned just might have been phenomenal teachers to other children. It’s ridiculous to judge a teacher on one standardized test. I certainly agree that students need to achieve, but there are just too many variables that impact how much and what the student learns. Many of these variables are out of the teacher’s control.

What makes a bad teacher? In my experience, every teacher I have worked with could be a bad teacher in one area, and a fantastic teacher in another. One could be good with parents, yet bad with kids. Another could be a fantastic coach, and a lacklustre participant in during staff meetings. A third may teach concise lessons, carefully planned, which no students care to engage in. What, in your estimation, besides presenting a danger to the students, makes a bad teacher?

I love your graphic so much I riffed on your idea and made my own graphic. It is ridiculous to judge a teacher OR a student by a statistic because you cannot measure knowledge with a number. NCLB depersonalizes learning and harms the teacher and the students and gives parents false information.

Thanks Tammy, saw your graphic and like the adaptation!

[…] Standardized (or other forms) of testing […]

[…] Standardized (or other forms) of testing […]

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