Sunday, October 31, 2010

Primary Sources Available for History Lessons

Using DocsTeach, educators can create interactive history activities that incorporate more than 3,000 primary-source materials from the National Archives
Curriculum, Top News, eClassroom News
Oct 18th, 2010

The National Archives has created a new web site to help educators teach with primary-source documents. The site, called DocsTeach, not only lets teachers explore thousands of documents in a variety of media from the National Archives holdings, but it also includes online tools to help teachers combine these materials and create engaging history activities that students can access over the internet. is a significant and welcome addition to our popular education programs,” said United States Archivist David S. Ferriero. “It will engage teachers and students in new ways and stir their interest in history through the use of original documents in the National Archives. It is also consistent with our goals to make as much of our holdings available to the public as easily as possible.”

DocsTeach combines access to more than 3,000 primary-source materials from the National Archives—items such as George Washington’s draft of the Constitution, the cancelled check for Alaska, Chuck Yeager’s notes on the first supersonic flight, and President Richard Nixon’s resignation letter—with the interactive capabilities of the internet in ways that teachers who have pilot-tested the site say have great potential for the classroom.

The seven tools featured on the site are designed to teach critical thinking skills as they relate to history activities, such as weighing evidence, interpreting data, focusing on details, and so on. Each tool employs interactive components such as puzzles, scales, maps, and flow charts that teachers and students can tailor to their needs.

On the site, teachers can (1) browse or search for primary-source documents and activities, (2) customize any history activity to fit the needs of their own classroom, (3) create a brand-new activity with its own web address from scratch, using one of the seven tools, and (4) save and organize activities in an account to share with students. After participating in a history activity, students can submit their work to their teacher via eMail.

Click here to continue to full article

Thursday, October 28, 2010

100 Useful Youtube Channels for Teachers

YouTube has earned a reputation for featuring brain cell-slaughtering fare such as the truly abysmal Fred and playing host to the some of the most depressingly stupid comments this side of Yahoo! News. But for every participant liberally dishing out misspelled racist, sexist and homophobic talking points, there is at least one whose channel genuinely offers something provocative and educational.

For teachers hoping to infuse multimedia into their classrooms, YouTube makes for an excellent starting point. Plenty of universities, nonprofits, organizations, museums and more post videos for the cause of education both in and out of schools. The following list compiles some of the ones most worthy of attention, as they feature plenty of solid content appealing to their respective audiences and actively try to make viewers smarter.

Original List Produced & Credited To:

Direct Link:

Cited By Mr. Byrne at:

Monday, October 25, 2010

Twitter & Education = Twiducate is a free resource for educators. An attempt to fill a need for a more educationally focused, safe venue for teachers, schools, and home learners in a social networking environment.

Many students already use social networking sites. Why not give them an opportunity to develop their learning in this type of environment but with control over visibility and content. Talk about student engagement!

It is a fact that students will need social networking, blogging and basic internet skills to compete in today's business world.

As educators with an interest in web 2.0, we understand how education has and will continue to change. We want to provide an opportunity for our students to explore web 2.0 but are constantly facing barriers with existing social networking sites.

Welcome to

Not only will give your students the web 2.0 skills they need, but also expand their reading, writing, thoughts and ideas beyond the classroom setting.

Here’s a quick look at what Twiducate offers for teachers:
An online community for classrooms
A way to have a password-protected place for your class to discuss things online
A place to share inspiration, ideas, reading, and thoughts
A spot to post discussions, deadlines, and homework
A way to instantly create surveys for your students
An easy method to keep parents informed of daily projects
Here’s what Twiducate offers students:

A way to collaborate with fellow students
The assurance that anything you write will be viewed only by classmates and / or your teacher
An easy way to track deadlines and homework
A method to share and record thoughts and ideas with classmates
A social network that actually improves writing and punctuation
A way to connect with friends outside of the classroom

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A "How To" On Using Wikis With Elementary Students

Wikis: Pulling It All Together Online

Elementary teachers are using wikis in and out of the classroom. The collaborative, teacher-moderated technology allows educators to set up sites quickly and at little or no cost, creating instant learning resources for students. But wikis aren't without their challenges.

By Bridget McCrea10/20/10

David Lindsay discovered wikis in 2005, several years before collaborative Web 2.0 innovations would officially infiltrate the educational space. Armed with Web site design experience, this elementary school teacher started tooling around with the idea of wikis after seeking out a better way to manage an annual competition that paired students with a local business alliance.
"I was looking for an easier, free way to manage the competition," said Lindsay, a fourth grade teacher and technology coordinator at Rosedell Elementary in Saugus, CA. Through the event, students work closely with the business alliance to develop their own online businesses. Lindsay coaches students through the process, which finds children using the Web to experience hands-on entrepreneurship at a young age.

"At the time, there was software available for what I wanted to do, but it was cost-prohibitive," said Lindsay, who was also challenged by the fact that Web site design five years ago still required the developers (in this case, the students themselves) to write code. "Programming and HTML were still pretty complicated for a fourth grader to learn and use," said Lindsay. "While I was looking around for better options, I stumbled upon wikis."

By definition, a wiki is a Web site that allows for simple creation and editing of multiple, interlinked Web pages. Using simplified markup language WYSIWYG text editor and a browser, teachers can get set up online and start interacting with their online communities quickly. Powered by wiki software, these sites are used frequently in educational settings, where teachers can exercise editorial rights by removing inappropriate or off-topic material.

Click here for full article

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Google Demo Slam

Google Demo Slam is a new Google site featuring short tech demonstrations. The idea of the site is to have people compete to make the best short tech demonstration videos they can. Users upload their videos to YouTube then Google picks a "slam of the week" in which two videos face-off. The winner is determined by viewer voting. The prize is bragging rights. Right now Demo Slam is in "pre-season" which means all of the videos have come from Google employees.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Five Truths of Teaching Tech to Elementary Students

Rugrat-ical Technology: Five Truths of Teaching Tech to Elementary Students

A third-grade teacher offers educators five suggestions for using technology in elementary-school classrooms. Gaetan Pappalardo writes that students should be consistently exposed to technology and should be given "achievable goals." He also suggests that teachers find a capable student who can assist as a technology guide. Pappalardo suggests several free tools for teachers, including the technology platform Tumblr and Prezi for presentations.

Excerpt from blog:
I often get a look of confusion when I tell my students to, “Go mess up, will ya’.” Their eyes widen and they turn to a neighbor for a lifejacket because I just threw them in the deep end of technology. Come on, it’s only a computer. Using tech in the classroom requires trust. Are they going to mess up? Sure. Are they going to add another call to your list, a dreaded call to the technology department? Maybe. Are they thinking? Absolutely. Are they applying what they know about technology to create something original or to solve a problem? Yes, brothers and sisters, yes. This is what we want from our kids. We want these rugrats to think. You just have to let the reigns out a little bit and let them mess up. Let them crash their bike, get up, and try it again.

Here are a few tips and technology suggestions from my experiences with third graders.

Truth #1: Time + Exposure = Progress
May I be blunt here? If you're not putting time into technology, your kids will not be technologically proficient. Anything worth doing is always hard and it always takes time. Using tech with rugrats takes a considerable amount of time. Try to grab it whenever you can. Whether your school uses a mobile lab or a traditional classroom, sign up for extra time when they're not being used. Consistent and extended exposure to technology is key. Initial time to learn how to use programs and platforms builds a strong foundation on which kids will learn to learn. Why not block off a whole afternoon for your kids to explore programs. No assignment, go explore. Try stuff. Get into trouble and get out of it.

Click here for link to full blog post

Cyberbulling Site Offers Self-Assessments for Students

Slimy, creepy crawlies are the ugly image of cyberbullying in a new interactive website aimed at children in the years before high school.

Created by the non-profit organisation SchoolAid, CureTheBullies targets children between eight and 12 years of age who may witness bullying behaviour or even act as accomplices to bullies through their use of email, social networking or text messaging.

An online self-discovery test helps children identify passive bystander behaviour in themselves and offers them tools and advice on how to rid themselves of "Bullies Viruses".

Six cyberbullying behaviours have been turned into slimy viruses in the interactive program. If infected, kids use a "cure" such as Understanding or Courage to defeat their virus.

For instance, a "Gang Green" infection has the symptom of ganging up on someone on Facebook, blogs or forums. Its cure is "Friendship".

Kids infected with "Forwarditis" exhibit symptoms of forwarding emails, pictures or messages that could make someone feel bad. The cure is "Understanding".

SchoolAid founder Sean Gordon says there's an urgent need to address the issue of passive, bystander behaviour around cyberbullying.

"CureTheBullies will mobilise kids to take a stand, not because a teacher or parent tells them to, but because they understand that bullying and bystander behaviours are potentially in everyone - but they can be changed," he said in a statement on Tuesday.

10 Safe Search Engines for Kids

10 Search Engines For Kids That Help Out Parents & Teachers With Safe Browsing

Resource Site:

You can say that kids are sufficiently net savvy these days. With a bit of parental help, they can easily grasp the basics of search. The commonplace search engines cater to kids as well as to adults. But even with the moderation search engines use, some content may not be suitable for impressionable minds.

Browsing safe content is the single most reason for calling up search engines made specifically for kids. A search page that appeals with its looks could be the second. Letting a kid having the run of the web using a search engine for kids helps to lessen the worry load on a parent’s mind.

Of course, there is no guarantee that every search will be kid-safe, but there is a higher probability with the content indexed by these niche search engines for kids. You can tweak the search engine settings which every search tool worth its name has. On the other hand you can use these ten ready-made search resources.

Click here for full article and descriptions

Video Games & Learning_James Paul Gee

James Paul Gee, an expert on how video games fit within an overall theory of learning and literacy, in response to The New York Times Magazine article “Learning by Playing.” It featured a public middle school where every aspect of learning is designed to be game-like.

Excerpt from Part I of the Question/Answer Feature is included below with link to full article and Part II:

Q. Are there low-tech ways to replicate the things that make video games effective learning tools (“fun” and engagement, interactivity, problem-solving, higher-level integrated thinking skills)? How do you shape effective pedagogies around a game-based curriculum? — oiseausauvage

What I advocate is not learning with games, but problem-based learning in which learners practice skills as they solve problems. Today our schools focus on facts and information and not problem solving. Thus, many of our students cannot actually solve problems even when they can pass tests on facts and information.

When students use facts and information to solve problems they both gain the facts and information and learn to solve problems. Games are one good way to do this, because a video game is problem solving with lots of practice, feedback, and assessment (e.g., boss battles). But this style of learning can and should be done in many different ways. We need to build settings in which kids learn lots of content, but through using that content as tools for problem solving and as a body of knowledge to which they can contribute. Such learning should also stress learning to collaborate, learning to pool knowledge with others, learning to innovate and preparation for future learning and for being a expert life-long learner.

Current tests do not really test problem solving or innovation. But note this: good games are designed so that a player cannot finish them without having mastered them. This is how good learning in algebra should be designed, as well. The course should be so well designed that finishing it guarantees the student has mastered it. If we did this right, there would be a massive cost savings. We could put the entire testing industry out of business.

Q. Many people believe that electronic media (television, computers, and video games) can intensify anxiety and make kids hyper. Is this something that is being watched or monitored with the children at this school? — Amber Mussman

Electronic media can have lots of effects. Games like Flower and Flow (downloadable games for the PlayStation 3) are quite soothing. In any case, Quest to Learn is not based around games that make kids hyper (like fighting games), but around games that are digital and nondigital, and in virtual worlds and in the real world. The game activities at Quest to Learn require reflection, problem solving, thought, and sometimes collaboration. For example, students may have to solve a secret code that requires mathematics or linguistic knowledge or work out principles of how chemical elements combine based on patterns and interactions they have seen in a game space. Such games do not make kids hyper, though they can bore them if they are not well designed.

Continue on to full article for Part I

Excerpt for Part II Question/Answer Section:

Q. It seems to me that presenting all intellectual activity as fun and exciting game play might be helpful if we set our sights low enough, but is ultimately damaging if we want to produce flexible, diligent and persistent thinkers. What will happen to children who spend 12 years being “entertained” into working when the video game sound effects stop? — Matt Brenner

Games that simply sugarcoat traditional skill-and-drill education — and these are popular today, given the nature of our schools — are not what I am calling for. They just do what school already does to no better purpose. I am advocating games and other ways of learning that break the paradigm of current schooling, games that involve students with solving deep problems, help them master lots of knowledge in order to solve them, get them to explicate what they have learned to teach others, teach them to innovate and help them to design and redesign some of the curriculum for themselves. You are right that life is full of things that are not “fun,” but something has to keep the learner “in the box,” persisting past failure and not giving up. Games do this well by rewarding effort and teaching that failure can be a path to success if we learn from it. Demon’s Soul is a great example of this. After you have played for hours and leveled up, the second-to-last boss lowers your level, mitigating hours of play, if you do not engage him with mastery. Luck alone or inept success will not be rewarded here. By this point you are either a master or you go back and work more, no matter how long you have played and how many “points” you have earned. Sounds a lot like life to me.

Have there been any studies on the educational benefits of video games across different genres? — Drew

This is a crucial issue. Different types of games are good for different things. Good designers have to know how to match the content to be taught with the right problems, decisions, actions and game mechanics to make a good game for learning. But research on the specific properties of different types of games is just getting under way. It will be a fruitful and important area of research.

Continue on to full article for Part II

Five Alternatives to Traditional Book Reports

1. Create book trailers. In short, a book trailer is a short video created by students to highlight the key points of a book. When creating their book trailers students should be trying to "sell" viewers on a book. To create their videos your students could use Animoto for Education, JayCut, or PhotoPeach.

2. Create animated or stop-motion videos about a book's plot. To make an animated video try Memoov which is a free service that your students can use to create an animated video book review. Memoov allows users to create animated videos up to five minutes in length. Creating an animated video with Memoov can be as simple as selecting a setting image(s), selecting a character or characters, and adding dialogue.

If stop-motion videos are more your speed, Kevin Hodgson's Making Stopmotion Movies is a fantastic resource for directions and advice on making stop-motion movies.

3. Create literature maps. Using Google Maps or Google Earth students can map out the travels of character in a story.Google Lit Trips has many examples of teachers and students using Google Earth in literature courses.

4. Create 3D augmented reality book reviews. ZooBurst is an amazing service that allows you to create a short story complete with 3D augmented reality pop-ups. Students could use ZooBurst to create short summaries of books that really jump off the screen.

5. Create multimedia collages about books. Glogster allows users to create one page multimedia collages. Students could create a collage containing videos, audio files, text, and images about books they've read. For example, a Glog about Into the Wild could contain images of Chris McCandless, chunks of text about the book, and this video featuring a song from the movie based on the book.


Friday, October 1, 2010

Google Maps & News Combined

Mapeas provides news videos from around the world that are directly linked already on a Google Map — you go to the geographical area of the world you want, and you click on the links located there.