Tuesday, November 24, 2009

For Robert

Yesterday, I sent out this link to our science department.  It's to a very nice online game from the Minnesota Museum of Science about human cellular biology.  This morning, Robert, one of the science teachers here emailed to say that they had just finished their cell unit last week.  A day or two late and apparently a dollar short!  I told him I would put the link up on the blog so that next year when he vaguely remembered that there was some sort of website that I sent out, I could say, "Yeah, I think I saved it somewhere."

Here it is! http://www.smm.org/tissues/index.php

Monday, November 9, 2009

Hittin' 'em Where They Live- Constitution Study Aids

Teaching is a funny business.  On one hand, you want to be a professional and be thought of as a trusted source.  On the other hand, you want to be able to convey information in a form that is meaningful for your students.  Some teachers are young enough to even be credible while talking to the kids in "their language."  Some, like me, would just look silly to the kids.

Having said that, I still think it's useful to sometimes let the kids create projects using the language and forms that are meaningful to them.  I'm not a giant rap fan, but the format does have its' uses, as in this "Bill of Rights Rap."  Our seniors just completed a unit where they had to memorize all of the articles of the Constitution and be able to apply them in certain situations.  Next, they move on to the Bill of Rights.  This video could serve as a useful study guide, in a format that they can easily memorize!

Other useful study tools would be the online games from the US Supreme Court.  These games, apparently, have been a pet project of  Sandra Day O'Connor, former Supreme Court Justice.  Our middle schoolers really love "Do I Have A Right?"

Thanks to Oswego98 for sharing the rapon Twitter and rmbyrne for sharing it on Free Technology For Teachers

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Art of the Inaugural Speeches

I've written about Wordle, a word cloud generator, before.  I think it's a great tool, and one that students can be very engaged in using.  Thanks to TechnologyInEd for tweeting this!

This word cloud gallery, from Governing Dynamo is a collection if Presidential images and word clouds made from each President's inaugural speeches.  One activity that came to mind as I played with this would be to have students look at the word clouds of the speeches of a particular president or era and have them generate a list of issues they think were important at that time.  Once they've come up with a list of issues to research, they could create presentations (using Prezi, Animoto, Glogster or any of about a thousand other tools!) to give to their classmates about what they have discovered.  A much more engaging way to learn about, say, the presidency of William Henry Harrison, or the events immediately preceeding the Civfil War than to simply listen to a lecture. 

A caution about Wordle:  There is some inappropriate content on the site which students may come across.  I would give the kids a link to a specific word cloud you want them to look at or to the cloud generator.  I would not have them search it on their own.