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.

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.

Plan a Vacation to Teach Math Skills

Monday, May 5th, 2008

This week I was talking to a friend about going on their vacation this summer.  As a teacher I had two things going in my head.  One was, “I need a vacation.”  The other thought was, “How can I turn this into a real world learning experience for our students?”

Of course, http://www.priceline.com/ came to my mind, but there are other sites as well that can be used. 

Have your students create a dream vacation.  They will need to plan for travel to and from the departing location, the plane fair, cruise, activities, hotel or condo, transportation while on location, food etc.  You can make this activity as extensive as you’d like.  This activity will help them review the math skills that you have already given them while applying them to real world situations. 

To expand the learning experience I would have my students:

1.       Budget  (money, charts and graphs)

2.       Plan an Itinerary Schedule (time line development, elapsed time, scheduling, and critical thinking)

3.       Map out events (maps)

4.       Use checklists to make sure they have thought of everything for their trip. (Google, travel checklist and you’ll get tons of them.)

5.       Have them write about their trip planning learning experience.

To extend their learning experiences have them break into travel groups and plan their entire vacation on a wiki! 

Enjoy and leave a comment letting me know how you plan to use this in your classroom. 

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!

 

 

Amazing Space Activities

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

This week I would like to introduce you to Amazing Space at http://amazing-space.stsci.edu/

Amazing Space has lots of amazing tools and resources for teaching about the solar system, space and observation tools.  Here you will find videos, diagrams, images, lesson plans, and student activities that involve exploration, history and new found knowledge.   If nothing else this is a great place for your students to start their research, and I’m sure you’ll find some useful tools and information as well, I know I did. 

I enjoyed getting to see images from the Hubble Telescope like this one of the Whirlpool Galaxy and the Companion Galaxy. 

 

Wow! Along with that image comes a complete lesson plan.  Click here for the complete lesson plan.     

I hope that you enjoy exploring this site of exploration!  Leave a comment giving suggestions of how you used it, plan to use it, or other related sites of interest. 

Tracking of the Torch for Education

Monday, April 14th, 2008

One of the things that makes Google Earth so fantastic for Education is it’s popularity.  People are always putting new features into Google Earth that help teaching more fun and authentic for our students.

The newest feature I want to mention is the Map Tracking the Olympic Torch.  http://maps.google.com/help/maps/torchrelay/  You’ll be able to see pictures of prominent places around the world as you track the torch.  I’m sure your students would find this interesting. 

To use in your Google earth follow the link above and thin click the blue link below the map that says, “Track the Torch in Google Earth.”

 

Extend the Learning Ideas:

Social Studies:

* If you are teaching maps, Google earth provides the coordinances that you can use to teach latitude and longitude.  

* Students can learn about other cultures.  Do you have any students that are from the cities that the torch will be visiting?  Today the torch is in the city of Muscat.  According the information found in Google Earth Muscat is the capital and largest city of the Sultanate of Oman.  The pictures of the other cultures are phenomenal that you’ll find as you track the torch.

Math:

* You can use the maps and calculate the distance that the torch has traveled and will travel. 

Writing:

* You could have your students write about their favorite Olympic events, countries that will be participating in the Olympics, or even differences that they find between cultures. 

 

The integration possibilities are endless as you open your minds to this great tool!  Leave a comment letting me and others know how you used the Tracking of the Torch for Education! 

www.realworldmath.org Launches This Week!

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

This morning as I was reading a blog post I ended up linked to www.realworldmath.org.  RWM is a new website that “is designed for educators who wish to extend the concepts of the math curriculum beyond the pages of the text.”  Thomas Petra, creator of realworldmath.org, uses Google Earth to teach Math concepts, and he is sharing his ideas and lessons with us.  He has also opened up the doors to allow fellow teachers to contribute to the site with other Google Earth Math Lessons.  I really thing Thomas is on to something here.  You’ll find under the Lessons page 4 categories of lessons, and on the updates page he has two more categories.  So, be sure to check out the whole site! 

This site is only one day old, but I expect to see lots of great things coming from this!  Get the word out by sharing with your teachers.  We can all use new ideas for teaching Math.

If you don’t find a lesson here that you can use, I’m sure you’ll get ideas for your classroom.