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NBC Learn: Science behind the news

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Evaluate, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 08-05-2013

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What it is:
NBC Learn has some fantastic free resources for teachers and students.  One of these freebies is called Science Behind the News.  In partnership with the National Science Foundation, NBC explores the science, technology and engineering found in current events.  Here, you will find a collection of videos that introduce students to the science found in the world around them and current events.  Students can learn about everything from quantum computing, to predictive policing, to crowdsourcing and weather phenomenon.  Each video is around 5 minutes long and are well produced.

How to integrate NBC Learn into the classroom:  I am a HUGE fan of embedded learning.  Learning that is in context just makes sense.  The learning is richer because students are able to make real connections to the foundational understandings that they already have.  In addition, this type of learning gives them an idea of how the learning that happens in the classroom is connected to life.  With Science Behind the News, students are able to see connections to the world right now.  These clips encourage students to be curious about the world around them, and to dig into the bigger “why” of how things work.  I like the thinking that is encouraged here.  It is really modelling curiosity beyond just passively listening to a news story.

These clips are a wonderful way to kick off a new science unit, as a resource during inquiry, or for students and classes just to explore.  Students can use these clips as a starting point for further research, a “spark” for more learning.  Each student could choose a different video to watch and then conduct some research to learn more.  Where else is the science used?  How has our thinking about a topic changed over time as we have learned more about it?  What math is involved?  Help your students to see that subjects don’t happen in isolation in real life.  Science is connected with social studies, math, literacy, history, sports, art, economics, discovery, etc.  Can they find the overlaps in learning?

Tips:  NBC Learn has other outstanding resources including: science in golf, science in hockey, science in football, chemistry now, fishing the dream, sinking the titanic, science of the winter Olympics, science of the summer Olympics, writers speak to kids and science in innovation.  Check them all out!

I’ve been nominated for a Bammy Award for Educational Blogger.  I’d appreciate your vote to help spread the word about iLearn Technology.  Vote here.  Thank you for your continued support!!

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  NBC Learn in your classroom.

Algebra Lab

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Knowledge (remember), Math, Middle/High School, Science, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 01-10-2012

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What it is:  Algebra Lab may not be much to look at graphically speaking, but the resources here are pretty stupendous!  Algebra Lab was created by Mainland High School teachers in partnership with Georgia Southern University and a host of student assistance.  The site includes really well done lessons, activities, practice pages (online), study aids, glossary, and word problems.  Algebra Lab is like a free, living textbook.  It has enough substance to help students work their way through algebra, while understanding the connections to how that algebra is used in a practical sense.  I didn’t appreciate Algebra until I took physics and chemistry.  When I saw what those equations I learned were actually used for, I could appreciate the learning requirements in algebra.  Algebra Lab does a beautiful job of helping students learn algebra within a context so that they really get a grasp of what these numbers are doing.

How to integrate Algebra Lab into your curriculum: I have enjoyed watching the debate over Algebra unfold in the last year or so.  One side of the argument asks if it is really necessary that EVERY child be required to take algebra.  The other side argues that algebra has great thinking skills that it develops, it gives students additional tools to understand the world through math.  I’m not sure where I land on this debate.  I don’t know that I believe that algebra should be a requirement for every child, and yet I think that my exposure to algebra was valuable.  Maybe the debate just needs to be reframed…HOW should algebra be taught?  I’m all for things being taught within context.  If you can teach any subject in a way that sheds light on other learning it is valuable.  I love when students make the connections between something like ratios and a site like Miniature Earth.  They not only get excited about the math (yes, really) they see a purpose for wanting to learn more about how it works.  Sometimes I think our job of teachers is really to help students see the overlaps that occur in learning so that they can make connections and have a cause to want to dig deeper.

I digress…

Algebra Lab is a great resource for math (and non-math) teachers.  Here you will find lessons, activities, word problems and practice opportunities for students.  Students can directly access the site, or you (the teacher) can pull ideas out to use within any other teaching you are doing.  The site is great for students to explore on their own (blended learning algebra style) or with guidance from a teacher.  As a non-math teacher, I appreciate the way the site helps me think like a math teacher.  It reminds me how all of these pieces connect to other learning.

Tips: If you have a one-to-one setting, students can practice directly on the website for immediate feedback.  Very helpful!

***Want to do your part as a CHANGE MAKER in personalized education?  Check out, support and spread the word about the Learning Genome Project!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Algebra Lab in your classroom!

3D Toad- 360* images worth more than a thousand words

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Evaluate, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Math, Middle/High School, Music, PE, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Technology, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 16-04-2012

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What it is:   3D Toad is a site I learned about from @rmbyrne‘s fantastic blog, Free Tech for Teachers.  This is like hitting the lottery of educational image libraries.  It goes beyond your typical image library and has 3D images that students can spin all around and explore from every angle.  Stinking awesome!  Even better? (Yes, it gets better.)  It works on mobile iDevice browsers! There are great images to explore on a variety of educational topics including: dissections, animal skeletons, human skeletons, music, geology, dental hygiene, coral, yoga, ballet positions, fossils, history, chemistry, emergency preparedness and computer networking.

Our students are learning all about earth systems right now so the fossils, geology and coral are especially exciting!

How to integrate 3D Toad into the Classroom:  They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  If a regular picture is worth a thousand, these 3D images are worth at least 360 times more.  The 3D images on 3D Toad let students examine all 360* of an image.  Students can examine, discover, and analyze images from various angles.  3D Toad helps students really visualize learning in new ways.

Use 3D Toad as a visual glossary on classroom computers.  Students can visit this “visual glossary” center to explore objects and new vocabulary that they are learning.  It would also be great on an interactive whiteboard or classroom computer where students can examine objects together.  3D Toad has a video on their site that shows a teacher using 3D Toad with students.  I don’t love their example because the teacher is at the center of a review time before a test.  The best use of this site would be to let students loose on it so that they can explore the images on their own.

3D Toad would be a great place for students to practice their observation skills.  Each student could choose an object to explore in depth, write a detailed description and observation of the object.  Working with a partner, they can describe their object and see if their partner can identify the image from the description alone.

These 360* images can be used for introducing new concepts, as a visual aid for students who are presenting learning, and as a place for further exploration of a topic or object.

Tips: Double click to zoom-in on an image.  ***Some of the images have alternate 3D views that can be viewed with 3D glasses!  The Giraffe skull is a good example of this.  How cool would it be to outfit your students with some cheap 3D glasses for this lesson? I’ve asked local theaters to share leftover glasses in the past, they are usually very willing/happy to help out!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using 3D Toad in your classroom!

On Demand Learning: Classroom Optional (Khan Academy and Academic Earth)

Posted by admin | Posted in Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Video Tutorials | Posted on 16-03-2011

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What it is: Tonight I was talking education with a fun group that is helping me think through my school design.  As we were talking one of the participants mentioned Khan Academy…some of the teachers in attendance had never heard of it.  I sometimes forget that not everything is common knowledge and even if it is common knowledge to most, there are still those who can benefit from the mention!  Khan Academy was started by Salman Khan quite by accident.  He tutored his cousins in math and when he moved away from them, they still requested support.  Sal began making algebra videos and uploading them to YouTube for his family, it has grown to over 2,100 videos and 100 self-paced math, science, and history exercises for students.  The library is extensive and comprehensive including algebra, arithmetic, banking and money, biology, brain teasers, calculus, California standards algebra, geometry, chemistry, cosmology and astronomy, credit crisis, current economics, developmental math, differential equations, finance, history, linear algebra, organic chemistry, Paulson bailout, physics, pre-algebra, pre-calculus, probability, statistics, trigonometry, valuation and investing, venture capital, and capital markets.  It is a pretty impressive collection!  I really like these videos because they provide students with on-demand learning and present the learning in a way that appeals to the visual and auditory learner.  The experience is so much richer than a textbook can offer. It is like having your own personal tutor.

Academic Earth is another extensive video library that lets students (and adults) take video courses from the worlds top scholars all in one place…for free!  The mission of Academic Earth is to give everyone access to a world class education.  Subjects covered by Academic Earth include art, architecture, astronomy, biology, business, chemistry, computer science, economics, education, electrical engineering, engineering, entrepreneurship, environmental studies, history, international relations, law, literature, mathematics, media studies, medicine and health care, philosophy, physics, political science, psychology, religious studies, test prep, and writing.  Students have access to the learning happening at Berkley, Columbia, Harvard, Khan Academy, Maryland, Michigan, MIT, Norwich, NYU, Princeton, Stanford, UCLA, UNSW, USC, and Yale.  Did I mention all of that learning is free?  I know, amazing!

How to integrate Khan Academy and Academic Earth into the classroom: Both Khan Academy and Academic Earth provide students with opportunities for on-demand learning in their areas of interest or their areas of weakness.  Students can use these resources to support the learning happening in the classroom and to fill any gaps that students may have in their learning.  Video is a powerful medium because it appeals to a wide range of learners and makes it easy to pause, rewind, review, and share that learning.

Khan Academy would be a great tool to use for the “Fisch Flip” where the homework is to watch the lesson on video and class time is spent on working through the problems together.  Let that sink in…makes more sense doesn’t it? Students get support where they need it most, in the follow through and practice of the learning.

Academic Earth provides students with the opportunity of pursuing their passions, getting a feel for what type of study they would like to pursue in a university, and support learning.

Do you have students that could use additional challenge and are constantly searching for more learning? Set up an extended learning center in your classroom where students who need that challenge can self direct and extend their learning by using Khan Academy or Academic Earth.

Tips: Khan Academy is a great resource to pass on to families, parents are often looking for ways to supplement and support the learning happening in the classroom.  Math in particular is a challenge as many parents did not feel successful enough in higher math themselves to help their children.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Khan Academy and Academic Earth in your classroom!

Science Fix: Video demos and experiments

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Evaluate, Middle/High School, Science, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video | Posted on 16-02-2011

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What it is: Science Fix is a fantastic video blog that I learned about from my friend and PLN colleague Kyle Pace. The videos are all recorded science experiments and demos from middle school science teacher Darren Fix.  The majority of the videos are chemistry related but there is also some good physics videos in there as well.  The videos are hosted on YouTube so if you don’t have access, you may have to use one of those tricky ways to download and save from home. (See Tips below for ways to do that.)

How to integrate Science Fix into the classroom: Science Fix is a great place to find demos and science experiment videos to share with your students. These videos will help your students better visualize and understand the concepts that they are learning in your class.  We don’t all have robust resource budgets, sometimes we have to pick and choose what we will be able to demo for our class live. These videos are a big help in bringing those experiments to our classrooms when budgets don’t allow us to do it live.  There are great descriptions and additional links and resources along with each video.

Tips: For those of you who don’t have access to YouTube in your building, you can still use these awesome videos in your classrooms with a little bit of pre-planning.  Download and save YouTube videos so that you can show them at school without accessing the YouTube site. UseKeepVidYouTube DownloaderHDKick YouTubeSaveVid, or Zamzar.  Some of these tools will even let you download at school if you know the YouTube url.  The downloaded video should have no trouble playing at school!

You can follow ScienceFix on Twitter here.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Science Fix in your classroom!

Science Animation Gallery

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 10-02-2011

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What it is: Sumanas, Inc has created a complete animation gallery for science.  Each animation comes with a written summary description, a narrated animation, a step-through tutorial (understanding the concept through a series of steps), and a quiz.  There are a variety of main topics, each with several related animation modules.  In the gallery you will find General Biology, Molecular Biology, General Biotechnology, Microbiology, Biopsychology/Neuroscience, Ecology, Astronomy, Statistics, Chemistry, and Environmental Science.  There is also a Science in Focus section for animations that explain science topics that are in the news (stem cells, malaria, gene therapy, ulcers, antibiotic resistance, and anthrax).  These are great for current event science conversations and understandings.

How to integrate Science Animation Gallery into the classroom: The Science Animation Gallery takes what can be difficult to understand concepts, and animates them in a way that breaks down the concept into manageable parts. Many of the science concepts are more appropriate for middle and high school students, but some sections, like Astronomy, include animations that are useful for elementary students (moon phases).

Students can use the animations to explore science concepts that they are interested in learning more about, or to further delve into a topic just touched on in curriculum.  Many of the animations would make a great launching point for science experiments and inquiry units.

Use the animations to introduce a whole class to a new concept or topic using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  At the end of the animation, you can instantly check for learning using the quiz at the end (it would work well with a student response system, voters). Use the feedback from the quiz to guide the learning and next steps for students.  Students could also visit the gallery as a science discovery center in the one or two computer classroom.  I really like the different options offered by the animations, students can listen to a narrated version of the animation or navigate through the animation at their own pace using the step-by-step.  The narrated animation is brilliant, science has so many unfamiliar vocabulary words and terms that struggling readers can often get bogged down in just sorting out the words. With the narrated animation, the focus is on the concept being taught and the vocabulary is learned more naturally without stifling the learning.

Encourage your students to watch for science in the news.  The news has been full of it lately! Use those current event topics and dig in a little deeper with the Science in Focus animations. So often students hear about stem cells or gene therapy and don’t really know what they are referring to (adults either for that matter!) take the opportunity to teach students about the science concepts fueling those news stories. There are some additional links and resources related to each animation in the Science in Focus section.

Tips: Some of the animations are available for download and can be played on an iDevice or in iTunes.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Science Animation Gallery in your classroom

Planet Foss: Investigating Science by Taking Pictures

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, Middle/High School, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 09-02-2011

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What it is: Planet Foss is a science photo sharing website for students.  Students are enlisted to help capture science in the real world through pictures and share them with other students around the world.   Students choose a science course to investigate, see what photo challenges exist within the course, and then take a picture of science as it happens.  Each course comes with several challenges; the challenges are all based around themes that tie into the FOSS investigations.   When students have taken their photos, they can upload them, tag them, and record observations about the science they captured in their picture.  Students can also head over to Planet FOSS just to check out the photos taken by other students, they can search by the date that the picture was uploaded, by tag, keyword, or search by location using a Google map. Courses on Planet FOSS include Chemical Interactions, Diversity of Life, Earth History, Electronics, Forces and Motion, Human Brain and Senses, Planetary Science, Populations and Ecosystems, and Weather and Water.

How to integrate Planet FOSS into the classroom: Planet FOSS is an excellent way to involve students in science exploration and discovery in the real world.  The great thing about the site is that it helps students discover the science that it all around them.  Through the photo challenges and investigations, students learn to view the world through a new lens and begin to understand that life is science.  That isn’t a concept I understood until I was out of school (for me science usually meant filling out a worksheet or memorizing science vocabulary-sad).  Don’t have access to digital cameras at school? Students can still use Planet FOSS by exploring other student photos.  The photos are a great way to introduce science concepts and illustrate concepts in a way that is more authentic than the textbook offerings.  As students view others photos, they can leave feedback about the photo, observation, or comment on the similarities or difference to where they live using a set of virtual “stickers”.

Tips: To protect student privacy, Planet FOSS does not accept any photos that includes pictures of students. Planet FOSS has a great introductory video that will have even the novice computer user uploading photos in no time!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Planet FOSS in your classroom

LiveBinders: Chemistry!

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Create, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Science, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, web tools, Websites | Posted on 27-12-2010

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What it is: LiveBinders is one of my favorite ways to quickly gather and share information with others.  Whenever someone asks me for a collection of resources, I immediately start gathering them in a LiveBinder.  I have written about LiveBinders in the past, you can read those posts here and here for ideas of how to use LiveBinders in your classroom.  A few days ago a friend asked if I had any good Chemistry websites I could recommend.  I had a few but thought I would call on my Twitter network for their favorites.  This Chemistry LiveBinder is the result.  Thank you PLN for all of your help and recommendations, as usual they were spot on!

How to integrate LiveBinders: Chemistry into your curriculum: If you teach Chemistry (or have a friend who teaches Chemistry) this binder is a great one to pursue! I separated resources into videos, periodic table, games, simulations, and websites.

Don’t teach chemistry but are interested in using LiveBinders?  Here are some ideas for using LiveBinders in your classroom:

Live Binders can be used as online digital portfolios for students.  Any Word or PDF documents that they create can be added to a binder along with any web content that they create.  The binders are easy to keep track of and share.  Each tab can represent a year in school and each subtab can represent a subject within the school year.  The Live Binder can easily be used from year to year creating a digital portfolio. Live Binders can be placed on desktops so that students don’t have to type in long URL’s to access a website.  Everything can be organized and easily updated in a Live Binder for students to access the web through.  This is a great time saver for the computer lab or classroom computers.   Create your own ‘textbooks’ for students to access as a Live Binder.  You can easily add content to it and students can access the materials from any Internet connected computer.  Create an assignment Live Binder with all worksheets and classroom materials.  Students can access any classroom materials from home, no more lost papers!  Students can create Live Binders to keep themselves organized as they complete research projects.  Students could turn in a final project as a Live Binder that includes all of their web research, notes, and final written work.  Live Binders would be a great way to go paperless at your school.  Create a binder with important school information, meeting notes, calendars, etc. for school staff to access.

Tips: Educators are making some really fantastic LiveBinder collections, if you are looking for a specific subject or topic, search LiveBinders, someone may have already created the perfect go to guide!

Yep, that is my smiling face you see in the banner at the top of LiveBinders, I am going to be joining LiveBinders and Dean Mantz on January 12 on learncenteral.org for a live podcast.  I hope you will join us too!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using  LiveBinders: Chemistry in your classroom!

NBC Olympics: Science of the Olympics

Posted by admin | Posted in Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, video, Video Tutorials, Websites | Posted on 11-02-2010

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What it is: The winter Olympics start tomorrow and students around the world will be watching and rooting on their favorite Olympian, sport, or country.  The Olympics offers some fun new learning opportunities to the classroom.  Olympic Science is one such opportunity.  NBC has several Olympic science videos in which students can learn about physics, motion, energy, biology, chemistry and math.  Videos include Slapshot Physics, Aerial Physics, Figure Skating, Snowboarding, Alpine Skiing, Skates, Mathletes, Bobsled, Motion Inside the Body, Short Track, Modern Skis, Suit Up, Curling, Ski Jumping, Safety Gear, and The Internal Athlete.  These videos walk students through the actual science that is taking place in the winter games.

How to integrate NBC Olympics- Olympic Science into the classroom: My students are always shocked to learn that there is a lot of math and science in athletics.  These videos show students exactly how closely science and math are entwined in everyday life.  Olympic Science videos are for students who are forever asking the question “how am I going to use this?” (and shouldn’t they all be asking this!).  In the bottom right hand corner of the Olympic Science site you will find more science data.  These are quick facts about the science in the sport.   I really enjoy using video in the classroom, students can watch, rewind, pause, and re-think the concepts they are seeing.  Combine the Olympic Science site with a Wallwisher where students describe the science in the sport, or create a Wordle with new science vocabulary that students learned.

Tips: The Science of the Olympic Games was produced by NBCLearn, part of NBC News that brings news, events, and issues into the classroom.  There is a great video collection that includes Word Roots (an animated series that explores the roots of English words), Common Errors in English Usage (animated videos that uncover common errors in English grammar and usage), and Mini Documentaries (hundreds of 2-6 minute documentaries on American history, economics, culture, and political cartoons).

Please leave a comment and share how you are using NBC Olympics-Olympic Science in your classroom.

The Hobby Shop

Posted by admin | Posted in Fun & Games, inspiration, Interactive Whiteboard, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 08-05-2009

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What it is:  The Hobby Shop is an amazing interactive site where students can learn about science.  Students can learn about a compound microscope, dissecting microscope, catapults, chemistry, and rockets.  Each section of the hobby shop is completely interactive and has students discovering learning through virtual experimentation.  Students can look through microscopes, each step of the way they are taught how to do things like prepare petri dishes, and clean up properly afterward.  In the chemistry lab students can create an ingredient found in chalk, make a chemical used in photography, make liquids change colors, or test chemicals for electrical conductivity.  Students are led through each step of an experiment just as they would do it in an actual lab.  There is an interactive periodic table of elements that students can use to learn about different elements.  Students can create their own rocket in the rocket lab choosing the body, nose cone, and fins of a rocket and then test it out.  Students can also test out catapults with water balloons.

How to integrate Hobby Shop into the classroom: Hobby Shop is a wonderful place for students to experiment and interact with science in preparation for doing the experiment in class.  It is interactive enough to take the place of experiments where the science budget doesn’t allow for a class set of materials.  I am SO impressed with the way that this site leads students through each step of the process to complete an experiment.  Use this site with the whole class using an interactive whiteboard, invite students to come up to the board and conduct the experiment.  This site is also perfect for use as a science center in the one or two computer classroom or for individual use in a computer lab environment.  

 

Tips:  Check out the Teacher Resources for standard alingment, correlating worksheets, and other pdf files.

 

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using The Hobby Shop in your classroom.