Technology Education Know-How

Helping Teachers Teach with Technology

Geocaching for the Classroom

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Over the past few weeks I’ve become acquainted and interested in Geocaching.  As always, I’m looking for ways to use Technology, Life Experience and Fun in the classroom.  The more I get involved with Geocaching I see tons of ways it can be used in Math, LA/Writing, Social Studies, Science. This weekend for me was one of PE (Physical Education).  WOW, my legs hurt from the climbing!  I would like us to take a look a few of the ways that Geocaching can be used in each of these subject areas.

Math – With Geocaching students will be using GPS waypoints to find locations. Students can solve a math problem to get the waypoints. Then plug the waypoints into the GPS and find the cache.

Math – Students can use their GPS to calculate speed, distance and plot on a graph. They can answer questions about time, distance, area and speed.  They can then use their information to solve other scenarios without even leaving the classroom.

LA – I’m sure you’ve heard of picture prompts.  What about location prompts!?  Enough said…

LA – Students could create progressive stories.  If you have 4 or 5 groups with a GPS, each group could Geocache to different locations with each group crossing to each Geocache.  Each group will write a new paragraph to the progressive story at each Geocache.  At the end every story should be complete with a beginning,middle, and end.  Each group has written all 3 parts but in different stories.

SS – As a 4th grade teacher I’m a little partial to studying the Indians so my example will for that but can be used for other areas.   You can create waypoints of study.  In studying the Native Americans we would study their shelter, food, tools and regions.  I would create a Geocashe for each one of those topics.  At each stop the students would have to study, read or observe information about those topics and answer questions about each.  I would include pictures, essays, etc so the students could get a good idea of the concepts.  After completing the Shelter Geocashe they would move to the Food cash learning more information.

SS – Students are required to study maps in Social Studies so this is a great way to tie in maps.  They are learning Latitude & Longitude, Coordinates, Cardinal directions.

Science – Each Geocache can contain instructions on completing a Science activity such a building a lever, surveying what object has the most buoyancy, categorizing and then they can create a podcast explaining their findings, experience and results.

Science – You can also have learning stations setup at different Caching locations where the students participate in a learning activity. I remember at certain times of the year we would have our students rotate classes going to each teacher’s room where they would teach a specific related concept like Crust, Core, Mantel, Volcanoes, Landforms, Platelets, etc.   (plants, oxygen, photosynthesis, light, etc.) At the end of the Geocaching experience every student has rotated through each concept either learning new information or review former knowledge.

The ideas of how to use Geocaching are endless.  If your school campus is not big enough to Geocache then a nearby park would be a good location for these experiences.  If you have one of the new cell phones with GPS such as the Palm Pre, Blackberry or iPhone give this a try yourself.  After you’ve done it 2 or 3 times you will find all kinds of ways to use this with your students.  If you would like a listing of the Geocachings around your local area go to http://www.geocaching.com/ put in your zip code and you’ll find lots of them around you.  Each one will have a GPS co-ordinance for you to plug in and then you track it down.  We visited Inks Lake in Central Texas this weekend and did some Geocaching and my 3rd grader and Kindergartner loved it.  Not only that. I was able to give them a real world experience that they can use for prior knowledge in their Writing, Science, Social Studies and Math.

Please leave a comment telling all the ways you have used or are thinking of using Geocaching with your students.

137 Years of Popular Science Magazine is Archived with Google

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

Popular Science Magazine has partnered with Google to host 137 years of POPSCI archives.   http://www.popsci.com/archives Popular Science magazine could be and is a great resource for research projects in education.

As a student in the late ‘70s and throughout the ‘80s education wasn’t very individualized. I was often forced to read and study the same exact thing as everyone else.  Well… this just didn’t work for me.  I had no interest in whether or not PUG could run, jump or chase Jane or Ted.  But yes, at an early age I had an interest in technology, science, but mostly how those things worked.  Oh yea, I also had a love for cars!  The funny thing is, all of my teachers knew it but never tapped into this love or interest.  If they had I believe my success in education could have been much different.

Many of my teachers thought I needed to be self medicated, but in when it all came down I just needed to be self educated!  I needed my teachers to tap into my interest.  I would sit in class all day thinking about school ending so I could go work in my dad’s shop. I wanted to get my hands dirty, figure out how things worked, fix stuff, install radios, change oil, build model cars, work on my go cart, etc.  But never, not one time did any of my teachers bring in a set of gears to teach me how my bike worked, never brought in a magazine or book that talked about how leavers worked in a braking system on a car. Now THAT would have changed my outlook on education.

To this day I could tell you that I probably haven’t completed 10 fiction books over my entire life.  I can actually remember 3.  C.L.U.T.Z , Runaway Ralph ,  The Mouse and the Motorcycle .  I even knew when I went to the Book Mobile (You young wiper snappers can find out what that is here.) that I wanted books about my interests Robots and motorcycles.  Why my teachers couldn’t figure it out I’ll never know.

These magazine archives could very well offer some of your students an opportunity to read, study and learn from their interest.  Popular Science Magazine covers a vast variety of topics.  So, I encourage you to tap into your students interests and allow them to flourish.  Remember, their education isn’t about you, it’s about them!

I hope that you find this resource helpful.  Please leave comments of how you intend on using it with your students.

Online Tools for Poetry in the Classroom

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

A few weeks back I twittered out to my PLN to get ideas for online resources that 4th grade could use in their poetry lessons. I wanted to share some of those ideas I got back with you.

1. http://www.Piclits.com
I tested this site out and had lots of fun with it. You can pick a background that goes with your poem and thin type your poem out on it. Or, you can accept the challenge to select a background and use a limited word bank to write a creative poem. I did both and it was a challenge but a good experience. I signed up for an account so I could embed the picture and poem into my wiki page or blog. That’s probably the coolest part about it. It generates the code for me to embed it. This is a cool way to share your poetry with the world, family or just your classroom.

2. http://www.voicethread.com
I played around with Voice Thread a year or so ago and introduced it to a lot of people but I never thought of using it as a tool for poetry. Good Idea! Students can create their poem on a Voice Thread and other students in the class can leave “constructive” comments on it. The final product can then be imbedded into a class wiki or blog. Voice Thread provides all the necessary code for it. This is an awesome idea! If you pay for the upgrade version you can even do more cool stuff, but I like free! (This is also a good way to teach your students about appropriate responses and constructive input.)

3. http://www.voki.com
I thought this was a good way to make every student want to do poetry. You can have all of your students create a personalized Voki Avatar that recites their poem. What kid wouldn’t want to create one of these? (This is also a good way to help your students with public speaking ability along with proper word annunciation.)

4. http://www.writerhymes.com/
Poetry often includes rhyming words and this tool can help them when they are stuck. You simply type in the word you want to rhyme hold down the Ctrl key and click it. It then gives you a nice list of words to pick from. They simply pick the word they need and continue writing. It’s kinda like the happy place between a Dictionary and a Thesaurus.

5. http://www.poetrycollaboration.wikispaces.com
This page has several good examples of poetry, ways to teach it and even a sample of a Voice Thread being used in a poetry lesson. It’s full of resources so check it out. It will take you to other great tools that can be used. It’s well worth a look.

Thanks to all who gave input via Twitter, helping to provide these awesome ideas! If you have other ideas, tools or links please leave a comment. Your ideas help others,thanks!

Flickr and the Library of Congress

Monday, February 9th, 2009

As a photographer I’m always on one the lookout for great photography. As an educator I’m always on the lookout for photography that captures a piece of history with great relevance that teachers can use in education. This week the Library of Congress added a Photostream Set of Abraham Lincoln. These are truly great photographs! You’ll find the entire Library of Congress’ Flickr Sets of over 5,000 pictures here. http://www.flickr.com/photos/library_of_congress/ I’ve included the photo stream in my post below but I’m sure you’ll enjoy perusing the complete collection. You can subscribe in your RSS reader and get updates any time they add to their collection. Thanks Library of Congress, this is a great tool for education!!!

You can also find other great collections from the Worlds Public Photography Archives in the Flickr Commons at http://www.flickr.com/commons. There you’ll find collections from the Smithsonian, Imperial War Museum, and the New York Public Library along with several others.

Be very careful here History Buffs, you can end up spending a lot of time here. I hope you find this resource useful for your classroom and instruction. Please, leave a comment letting me and others know how you’ve used this resource in your classroom. We can all learn from your experiences!

Educational PowerPoint Resources Galore!!!

Friday, January 9th, 2009

This week I was reminded of how powerful PowerPoint can be in the classroom if used correctly. So, I went back to one of my former blog posts to pull a resource for a teacher. Well, the link to my resource was dead. I spent a little time this morning reacquainting myself with some PowerPoint resources and found plenty to share. I love not having to re-invent the wheel. Below you will find links to a plethora of PowerPoint resources, templates, premade presentations and even tutorials. I hope you find the resources helpful.
http://jc-schools.net/PPTs-la.html This one is LA but you can click on other subjects to get resources for them. Lots of great stuff here!
http://facstaff.uww.edu/jonesd/games/
http://people.uncw.edu/ertzbergerj/ppt_games.html
http://teach.fcps.net/trt10/PowerPoint.htm
http://teach.fcps.net/trt14/Power%20Point%20Games/power_point_games.htm
http://elainefitzgerald.com/gametemplates.htm
http://www.pppst.com/templates.html
http://www.nebo.edu/misc/learning_resources/ppt/
http://www.pppst.com/index.html
http://www.murray.k12.ga.us/teacher/kara%20leonard/Resource%20Folder/Integretating%20Technology.htm
http://www.vickiblackwell.com/ppttemplates.html
http://it.coe.uga.edu/wwild/pptgames/
http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/powerpoint.htm
http://clear.msu.edu/dennie/matic/
http://its.leesummit.k12.mo.us/powerpoint.htm
http://www.wiu.edu/users/mfjro1/wiu/tea/game-files/gamesfront.htm

Enjoy!

Online Voice Recording for Student Playback

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

Sorry for the delay in posting, I’ve been extremely busy these past few weeks.

What an awesome tool http://vocaroo.com/widgets.php !!  With this tool and a microphone your students can login onto your wiki or blog record their reading and play it back!  What K-2 teacher couldn’t use this?

It doesn’t save the recording in any location so you don’t have to worry about copy right issues.  The student simply clicks the record now button, reads his/her story into the mic and then presses stop.  The student can then listen to his recording as many times as he likes.  (just don’t close it)  Once the page is closed the recording is lost. 

Another option for use is having a student read for other students to listen or for a teacher to read and have students listen.  This is a great way for struggling readers to hear themselves or other quality readers to help them improve their reading skills. 

One librarian is using this as a library center http://monarchcenters.wikispaces.com/readingrecording .  What other ways can this be used?  Leave a comment and share your ideas for this tool.  Play with it over Thanksgiving break and see what you can come up with.

If you want to save the recordings then you’ll want to look at other options, but then you need to be careful with copyright issues. 

Timelines in the Classroom

Friday, October 24th, 2008

Timelines can be used for a lot of subjects in education. They can be used for things like studying US History and Scientific Experiments to tracking the stats of your favorite (Longhorns) football team.

An online collaborative tool that you can use is www.xtimeline.com Your students can collaborate in the classroom or from home. They can post images, maps, links and videos that they find to their timelines.

Check out this US Civil War timeline that a student created. Use the green dot at the bottom to navigate the timeline.

Do you have a student that you have a hard time getting to buckle down and do his research? What if you gave him a topic that he likes and a computer to create a timeline of that topic? He can find articles to link to, videos to post and images to demonstrate. Check out this timeline about the life of Michael Jordan. What kid wouldn’t research their favorite athlete?

For your kindergarten students you can even timeline your daily events together. This can help them get an idea of sequencing, time and scheduling.

This tool can be used in hundreds of ways. Leave a comment about how you plan to use it or how you have used it.

Start the School Year With a Bubbl(e)!!

Monday, August 18th, 2008

WOW! What a busy start to a new year! I’m excited to be back in the groove again. I’ve kinda missed my blog over the summer, but I’m back and full of ideas for this year.

One of the first things that every teacher does when they kick off the year with their students is brainstorm ideas for classroom procedures and expectations. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to add this brain storm to your class web page, blog or wiki. Now you can by using http://www.bubbl.us/index . Bubbl will allow you to create a mind map (similar to Inspiration) using the web. Yes, that’s right! You create your brainstorm (mindmap) online. You are provided html code from Bubbl to place your mind map on your web page, blog or wiki. What a great way to take your students back for reviews, updates and changes as they are needed. You can make changes to your Bubbl at any time to add or delete information as needed. Check it out to see how easy this is. It’s free so it won’t hurt you to try it. 😉

Extra idea – You can even break your students into groups and have them create their own Bubbl to present to the class. Then take all the bubbls and collaborate with the whole class to create a finalized bubbl.

Of course http://www.bubbl.us/index can be used for lots of other brainstorming needs, but what a great way to introduce it to your students. I’m sure they will enjoy using it and later come up with ideas of their own ways to use it. Is brainstorming not the epidemey of student centered learning?

Other ideas for start of the year brainstorming are: Procedures, Rules, Expectations, Classroom Character Traits, Proper Ways to Read a Book, Classroom Student Interests, and etc. The list can go on and on, but I’ll stop here and let your imagination roll for a bit.

I’ll share more ideas for brainstorming “mind mapping” in future blogs entries. Enjoy your Bubbl(e)ing at http://www.bubbl.us/index .

A Web Browser for Autistic Children

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

I’m certain that if you teach long enough you will have an Autistic student in your classroom.  Once you have one, you will see why this tool is so awesome!  Read on or go directly to check it out here, http://www.zacbrowser.com/.

Here is an excerpt from the web page about the Zac Browser.

                ZAC is the first web browser developed specifically for children with autism, and autism spectrum disorders such as Asperger syndrome, pervasive developmental disorders (PDD), and PDD-NOS. We have made this browser for the children – for their enjoyment, enrichment, and freedom. Children touch it, use it, play it, interact with it, and experience independence through ZAC.

ZAC is the zone that will permit your child to interact directly with games (a LOT of games) and activities (focused on MANY interests) that cater specifically to kids who display the characteristics of autism spectrum disorders, like impairments in social interaction, impairments in communication, restricted interests and repetitive behavior. ZAC has been an effective tool for kids with low, medium and high functioning autism.

ZAC focuses on the children and their interaction – But we also provide an excellent forum for parents, caretakers, teachers, and others to share their experiences, tools and resources and to unite as a caring, compassionate, and extremely knowledgeable community. It is said that “it takes a village to raise a child”, and that is exponentially true for raising a child with autistic spectrum disorders. The power of your experience yesterday is going to be instrumental in helping someone successfully tackle the circumstances of today.”

 Take a look at this video showing and telling about the new browser.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJGncJatGUg

This is definitely worth taking a look at.  I hope you find it useful!

3 Classroom Lessons for Using Gas Prices to Teach Math, Writing, Social Studies, and Technology

Monday, April 28th, 2008

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. 

Exercise 1:

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!)

Exercise 2:

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)

3.      mileage to lowest priced gas station (Google Maps or Yahoo! Maps)

4.      price of gas at the gas station near your school (you’ll need to provide this)

5.      location (mileage and map) of home and school (work) (Google Maps or Yahoo! Maps)

Have the students report as to whether or not it’s worth the extra drive.  Will they save money or not?

Closing:

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!