Sunday, May 24, 2009

Games for Elementary Kids

With summer fast approaching, are you looking for educational games to recommend to your students? Here is just a partial list of some of my favorite sites that reinforce basic skills:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Teachers: Be Very Afraid

There are teachers who are resisting technology integration in their classroom because they don't want to change their teaching style and see no need for it. However, there is no denying that today's generation of children are completely different from previous generations. Reluctant teachers do not want to admit this because if they acknowledge that students are different, that means they will have to change they way they teach. This site is for all of those teachers who think they can continue with paper and pencil activities and still reach today's youth. Reluctant Teachers: BE VERY AFRAID. This site is actually called "Be Very Afraid". To summarize the site, I have taken a quote directly from their home page:
  • "Each year a selection of ingenious students - from primary to university age - are invited along to BAFTA in London's Piccadilly to show and talk about the extraordinary things they are doing with new technologies in their learning. During the day the students explain just what it is that they are doing. Each year is more ambitious; each year poses real questions for policymakers and parents as the ambitions of these 21st century learners, together with their ability to deliver on these ambitions, becomes apparent."
While browsing through some of the video clips from the conference, I saw some AMAZING examples of students using technology. A few things that I saw:
  • Students from elementary school through college using technology
  • Special needs students using technology (learning disabled, autistic, and MR)
  • Movie Maker for student made videos
  • Google Sketch Up for building design
  • Cell Phones in education
  • Satellite technology
  • Clay animation
  • Web Design in Flash, Director, Dream Weaver
  • Gaming in education
  • Pocket PCs

And this was just the first page!!

Is there really any argument for not using technology in the classroom? I think not.

Vote in Doodle for Google's Contest

Between May 11 and May 18, you can vote for student created Google designs in Google's national "Doodle 4 Google Contest". Logos are broken down into age categories, and students were challenged to design a Google logo based on the theme "What I Wish For The World". It's definitely interesting to see how the younger generation views world issues. The winning logo will be displayed on on May 21st. Good luck to all the finalists!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Photovisi: Create your own desktop collages!

Photovisi is a website where you can upload photos from your computer or import them from Flickr to create your own personalized photo collages for your desktop. There is no need to create an account or login to the site to use their services. They do not store your photos in their site. Just upload anywhere between 1 - 30 photos, choose your template, and Photovisi does the rest. Download your creation in three standard desktop wallpaper sizes, apply to your desktop, and you're done! Impress your friends! Now teachers can quickly showcase pictures from a field trip or special event.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Prezi: A New Way To Present Information

Prezi is not your mom's presentation tool! Prezi does not just create linear presentations, but it also allows you to create a path between the information that you create, linking it in any order that you want. Zoom into the information for details, or zoom out for a global view of the presentation.

Link to a very quick prezi presentation that I made:

I signed up for a free account, which does not offer me an option to make my presentations private. However, there are paid subscriptions available that has this feature. My free account comes with 100 Mb of storage. This is a great tool if you have key ideas or pictures that you want to focus in on quickly instead of having lots of text on a screen.

"Web 3.0" by Kevin Kelly

It's coming - web 3.0. Are you feeling overwhelmed that you don't even know web 2.0 very well and now technology is moving on without you? It just might be! Kevin Kelly, from Wired magazine, talks about how the Internet will change over the next 5,000 days. It's worth pondering, especially if you are an educator resisting integrating technology into your classroom. It's painfully clear that teachers will be hard pressed to reach children coming into their classroom unless they adapt their teaching methods accordingly.

If YouTube is blocked at your school, copy and paste this video link and view it at home:

Animal Web Cams

Looking for animal web cams to enhance your science instruction? Here are a few to get your started:

Animal Cams at the Smithsonian National Zoo
This page from the National Zoo has many cams to choose from including: gorilla, lion, panda, octopus, tamarin, leopard, flamingo, and more! One of my friends told me about this site, and now I can share it with you!

Monterey Bay Aquarium Web Cams
Monterey's site includes cams that feature otters, a kelp forest, penguins, and a live view of the bay underwater.

Biodiversity Research Institute's Eagle Cam
This is one of my favorites. You can choose to go to this page and watch 15 second updates, or you can click the preview window to see a live feed (recommended). I used this site with my class and we were able to watch a pair of bald eagles feed their babies!

Biology Resources for Teachers
Food Chain Games
Make a Wild Animal
Way Cool Science Sites
Science Videos on Vimeo

Friday, May 8, 2009

Digital Avatars for Website: Oddcast PhotoFace

Create Your OwnOddcast Powered

Oddcast PhotoFace is a website I came across the other day that allows you to upload a headshot of your face and it will turn it into a digital avatar for you that can be posted to Facebook, downloaded, or embedded into websites. Once the image is uploaded, you can change your race, facial expressions, hair color, and facial hair (for men). In addition, you can add audio with a microphones, text-to-speech, or call it in by phone.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Multicultural Sites for Kids

Kids Around the World is a site that allows you to "meet" kids from all countries, listen to their interviews, and see pictures of how they live their life in their part of the world.

Hello, World! is a site designed to help children learn foreign languages. Start with simple phrases and vocabulary and work your way up to games and activities to reinforce your skills. Some of the languages that are featured are: Spanish, Italian, French, Arabic, German, Russian, Chinese, and more.

MICCA 2009: Presenting on Web Blender

I had the pleasure of presenting a poster session at MICCA 2009 in Baltimore, MD on April 23. I showcased different ways Web Blender is used in the elementary classroom by teachers and students. Since Web Blender creates interactive presentations and primary websites, it can be used in place of PowerPoint for students, and can be used as an interactive presentations for teachers trying to explain a difficult concept. Here are a few ways Web Blender was highlighted in this session:

Life Cycle of a Frog (Web Blender can show the cycle using action buttons)
Water Cycle
Student Poetry
Animal Reseach Reports

Do you want more resources on Web Blender? Check out these links:

Friday, May 1, 2009

Microsoft's Surface at MEEC

I had the pleasure of going to MEEC today (Maryland Education Enterprise Consortium) in Baltimore. While I was there, I visited Microsoft's booth in the vendor area where they were demonstrating a new product, called "Surface". Essentially the Surface is a small interactive tabletop where a group of people could gather around it for sharing or learning. Touching the surface of this device reads the location of your finger, so if you touch an object, it orients toward you. If the person on the opposite side of the table touches the same object, it orients towards them. This eliminates having "bad seats" around the Surface. I could completely see this being used in elementary classrooms. It's the perfect size for little ones and for small group instruction. It will be interesting to see how this device plays a part in education in the future. The only disadvantage I see right now is cost. It looks like a complete unit plus installation costs $14,000. Check out a demo at the Microsoft's official site. I also have footage from MEEC of the Surface highlighted below. What do you think about this tool?