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Stretch Break for Kids

What it is:  As computers and one to one environments become more prevalent in schools, it is important to remember proper ergonomics.  Stretch Break is a free software that is downloadable for both Mac and PC platforms.  The software is designed to help prevent computer related strain injuries by reminding students to take breaks while using the computer.  Every 30 minutes the software asks students if they would like to stretch.  Full animated figures lead students through simple stretches.  Then the software returns students to the task they were working on.  Teachers can designate how long to wait between stretch sessions and how many stretches to lead students through in a session.  Stretch Break for Kids was designed by a team of health care professionals.  The stretches focus on the neck, arms, hands, back, legs, and wrists.  The software also includes some important eye exercises.  There are 20 stretches total, many that focus on prevention of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. How to integrate Stretch Break for Kids into the classroom:  Stretch Break for Kids is a must for every computer lab.  Any time that students are using a lab computer they should be reminded of proper ergonomics and learn how to properly stretch for health.  Load Stretch Break for Kids on classroom computers and even on the computer that is connected with the Interactive Whiteboard.  Throughout the day (you determine how often and how long) set Stretch Break to pop up and encourage students to stretch as a class.  Even if they aren’t working at the computer all day, these stretches will help them get some blood flowing and release tension that can build up while they are doing their school work.  This is a great one to download to your own computer, you need to be reminded to stretch too!    Tips:   Stretch Break for Kids contains Ergo hints for healthier computing in addition to the stretches.  Spend some time teaching your kids healthy computing habits, as technology becomes more and more available in the classroom, these healthy habits become more important.  The free Stretch Break for Kids software is network compatible. Leave a comment and tell us how you are using Stretch Break for Kids in your classroom.

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What do you love: Google’s multi-search search engine

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Blogs, Evaluate, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, web tools, Websites | Posted on 23-04-2012

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What it is: What do you love is a nifty little search space from Google that I ran across today.  Apparently I’m late on this one, everyone was blogging about it a year ago!  Ah well, can’t win ‘em all.  With What do you love, students can type in a search term and instantly get results grid-style from Google images, create an alert, find patents, look at trends, email someone about the topic, explore the search in 3d with SketchUp, find books, watch videos, translate into 57 languages, organize a debate, find blog posts, maps, call someone, start a discussion group, plan an event, view it in Google Earth, create a instant bookmark to the search, or make the search mobile.  This is a super way to help students organize and view information and options for sharing from one place.

How to integrate What do you love into the classroom:  What do you love is a great tool for helping students learn about how searches work.  Students can instantly see a variety of search options and can begin comparing/contrasting results from the different streams.  Ask students to consider which types of searches lend themselves to each type of search (images, video, web, blogs, maps, etc.).  It is nice to have a one-stop shop of search results all within one page like this.  Students can quickly look at the top items from each available stream and decide from that one point which option best fits their search needs.

As a teacher, this search option is incredibly valuable for the time it saves.  Working on a new thematic unit or unit of inquiry?  Type it into the search terms and immediately find related books, videos, and other resources to help you maximize your time and effort.

I think that the trends are fascinating to look at and speculate about.  Are your students studying current events or an event in history (Titanic anyone)?  It is really interesting to see how the trend of the search topic changes over time.  Ask students to speculate and think critically about the rise and fall of certain topics.

Did you know that Google will help you organize and start a debate with moderation?  Me either.  It is a pretty neat little service that gives everyone a voice and lets students gather input from a large audience.  This could be a great way for students to get help with brainstorming, collecting public opinion or in preparation for a presentation they are giving.  This is an option I would only use at the high school level (it is for 13 and above).  I haven’t played with it long enough to receive inappropriate responses, but I’m sure they slip through.  This is also a great way for students to get more opinions or input about a topic they love.  Right now the top topic on the Moderator site is about Minecraft.  This is HUGE with our students right now, they cannot get enough!

What do you love would be a great site to bookmark on your projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard so that students can do searches about topics they are interested in as a class.  Using What do you love this way gives you the opportunity to help students wade through results and practice discernment in what is accurate and good information for the topic being searched.  I don’t know about you, but YouTube is the first place my students head when they are going to learn something new.  I think this is because the video medium is preferred over the text results where they have to wade through information to find what they are looking for.  Most students tell me they go to YouTube first because it is easy to know within a few seconds whether a video is going to give them the information that they want (forget deciding if it is a credible source).  YouTube IS a wonderful place to learn something new, I often go there myself, but it is nice for them to see other results along side the video.  As educators it is our job to teach students how to be discerning about the information they collect and how to use that information appropriately as it relates to the task they have been given.

Tips: Fair warning, this is a search engine.  You can’t always guarantee that what a student searches will come up with appropriate results.  I often remind students that if they come across anything that makes them feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused they should tell a trusted adult so that we can sit down and help them work through what they found and offer recommendations for a better search.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using What do you love in  your classroom!

Comments (1)

Wow! This is terrific! Don’t worry, you’re not the only educator that finds this new. I can’t wait to try this out and share with my students and their parents. Thanks for all the great ideas and information you share.

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