This week a friend of mine introduced me to a new web app that your students will just LOVE! It is Ajax Animator found at http://antimatter15.110mb.com/ajaxanimator/build/ I’m always looking for free alternatives and this one is AWESOME! This is an alternative to Adobe’s (Macromedia’s) Flash. Students can access this application by simply going to the link. You can export to flash or animated gifs. Most of all it’s FREE! That being said, it does have some bugs. But, for the most part it works great!
When your students get involved with creating animations with frame based apps like this they will learn higher order and problem solving skills. They will be forced to calculate and solve animation glitches to correct speed, direction and handling multiple objects. They can create animated graphics for their powerpoints, videos, and web pages. They can tell short stories, give demonstrations, and create simulations and much more. Wouldn’t it be nice if you were teaching about the moon phases and your students created a simulation to demonstrate their understanding? How cool would that be!? The ways this tool can be used is endless. Just the hands on math experience alone is worth giving this a try with your students.
Please leave a comment letting others know how you use Flash or other animation tools in your classroom.
Note: Be very careful you can get addicted to this!
I’m always on the prowl to find something new. This week I found a collection of pre-made presentations and templates. The presentations, templates and activities range from ABC to Zoo. If you can think of it, there seems to be one here. Many of the presentations are in Power Point, pdf or online. Most are Power Point. In each topic there are presentations, templates, student activities and many of them have teacher lesson plans to go with it. Take a look around at http://www.pppst.com/themes.html#L. I think you’ll find some great stuff to use here.
The good part about using these pre-made Power Points is that if you need to change something, you can. It’s totally adaptable for you and your students.
Some of the topics that I found of interest were ADHD, Telling Time, Texas History, Asthma, Bill of Rights, Cause and effect, Decimals, and even Thunder. There are over 1050 topics to pick from. What are you teaching this week? Maybe there is a Power Point or activity there just for you!
This morning on Yahoo! News another headline reads “Gas.” Later this morning as the headlines rotated out another one read “Gas.” Yes, we are facing “Gas” issues like never before. So, why not turn this into a learning activity for our students. Our children will face things that we have never faced before, and our job is to prepare them. So, this Tech Tip will incorporate Math, Writing, Current Events, Maps and Technology.
The goal here is that we tap into the higher order thinking skills of every student and allow them an opportunity to problem solve a real world event.
Note: Teachers should not use this to promote any political agenda; you can find yourself in hot water over that. This is just an exercise for learning.
Note: If you are reading this and are in another city, state or country there are alternative sites that you can use to gather the same data for your location.
This web site http://www.eia.doe.gov/oil_gas/petroleum/data_publications/wrgp/mogas_history.html produces a Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet with a price history of gas prices by region, state, or even some cities. From these spreadsheets you can create charts and graphs showing changes, have students calculate differences between time periods and even calculate percentages in change over time.
You can have your students present his/her findings to the class in a power point, video, printed graphs and a written report.
The teacher can discuss issues as they come up. (No Political Agendas!)
Now that students can know the importance of and can physically see from the above presentations that the price of Gas is a real issue, have them do a little problem solving. Have the students go to http://www.autobytel.com/content/research/top10/index.cfm/action/mileage/vehicleclass/all/listtype/3 to make an automobile selection based on their newly found information. Encourage your students to select cars that would be suitable or comparable for their current families. (ie. If their mom drives a van now have the select a type of van. If they drive a truck have them select a type of truck.)
Their goal is to select a vehicle that would save them money as well as suit their needs. Have them research the different car types, gas mileage, and feasibility. They can sort the cars by all, compact, convertibles, luxury, passenger, pickups, sport utility, sports, vans and wagons. (I think I want the Honda Civic, does it have enough room for my kids?)
Have the students report back with their selection. They should make a presentation of their top 3 choices with a conclusion as to why they selected their top choice. How will this car impact gas prices? How much money will they save by getting this car? Does the price of the car off set the price of gas?
If you want to make this an extra challenge give them a car price budget and a weekly gas budget. They should have a select number of miles that they have to calculate to get to and from work(school).
ie: Less than $20,000 for a car. Weekly gas allotment is $40. They must drive 20miles one way to work. You’ll need to give them a list of web sites from local dealers to get the prices on the cars.
Exercise 3: The Big Challenge
Using Google Maps or Yahoo! Maps along with http://www.austingasprices.com/ or http://www.gasbuddy.com/ for those not in the Austin area, to calculate mileage to determine if it would be worth it to drive out of your way to the cheapest gas prices locations.
Students will need to know:
1. gas mileage of car (from exercise 2)
2. price of gas (exercise 3 links)
4. price of gas at the gas station near your school (you’ll need to provide this)
Have the students report as to whether or not it’s worth the extra drive. Will they save money or not?
As always, these activities can be extended, shortened or changed. You are only limited by your imagination as to how this can be used in your classroom. For higher grade levels you can turn them loose with the idea and see what they come up with. I think we would all be shocked!
My generation kinda grew up not being very concerned with the environment or economy at all, but today’s generation seems to be more involved with trying to solve issues than we ever where.
If you use these ideas leave a comment and let me know how it went, or if you have other ideas please share!
Here is a video that introduces the Google Reader. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5980861656829941065