Finds of the Week: May 24-28

Since I began blogging, I have been sharing great resources that I have stumbled across or that have been shared with me. But I often forget how important it is to remember that when you are thinking about integrating a tool into your classroom that you are doing it to help enhance your lesson, and not just to use it for the sake of using it. I have offered some small suggestions on how some of the tools can be implemented, but that doesn't mean that there aren't uses out there that haven't been thought up yet. I often need to remind the teachers on my staff that I am available to discuss these types of issues, even if it is only on a limited basis, being a half-time technology integration coach.

During a meeting with a teacher, we will look at the lessons the teacher has identified and discuss what the goal of the lesson is and then determine what, if any, technology could be implemented. There will be times where technology will take away from the lesson and integration won't be recommended. Of course, implementing a new technology could be a bit unsettling for a teacher who may not be completely familiar with the particular tool, but I am also available to go in and coteach in their classroom with them. Again, I am only available certain periods in the day, and if absolutely necessary for one of my teaching periods, there is always the possibility that I can get a cover for my own classroom. Our elementary teachers have another person available to them, but I also let them know that I can assist them with finding resources for their classroom if they give me enough time to find what they require.

So whether you need some resources, you want to have someone to bounce ideas off of, or you need some "just in time" training, make sure to use the resources that are available to you in your tech directors, tech integration coaches, and librarians!

And speaking of resources, here are some great finds for the week!

1. Google Docs Self Grading Quizzes - The end of the school year. A time of finals. And having to get senior grades in immediately. And waiting in line at that Scantron machine! Here's Google Docs to the rescue! Through this Screencast-O-Matic, a wonderful educator (I wish I knew who he was so I could give him proper credit) has shared how anyone can use Google Forms and Spreadsheets from Google Docs to create a self-grading multiple-choice quiz or exit ticket. There is a slight learning curve to setting up your spreadsheet and form, and you have be a little familiar with using formulas within spreadsheets, but once you have it set up, it is a breeze to use. And you can even let your students know what their grade is as soon as they submit their answers. Talk about immediate and timely feedback! As a bonus for you, you get a breakdown of how each question was answered in the summary for your form.

You can view the screencast below or click on the link above to see how to set up your own form and spreadsheet.

2. bomomo - Here is another site that's for our art teachers out there, or for other teachers that want to get that creativity shared with their kids. I don't have much of an artistic talent, but knowing some of our students, I'm sure they can come up with some extraordinary pieces of art with a tool like this.

Bomomo is a free web app that works in Firefox, Safari, and Chrome (and I'm told in many other browsers, too) and allows a user to get to work as soon as the site loads. There is a level of experimentation that goes along with using the site, but this experimentation also can lead to so interesting discoveries. When you have created something you like, you can save it as a low or hi resolution jpg.

3. Quizinator - Have you ever left your laptop at school, created a quiz or worksheet on your home computer, and then forgot to save it to a flash drive or email it to yourself? Or what if you want to share with other teachers? Quizinator is a site that allows you alleviate these problems and even to make it easier for you to create a multitude of worksheets and quizzes. With Quizinator, a bank of questions is kept from questions you enter, and you are able to select the questions you want and rearrange them using drag-and-drop. Once your document is complete, you obtain a PDF version for printing or posting online.

Quizinator has stated that they will always be free, but they are planning on adding premium features on top of what is currently offered. You can follow them on twitter (@quizinator_en) or read their blog for even more information and ideas. This resource was shared on twitter via @thadhaines.
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Find of the Week: May 17-21

A day off on Friday meant I was unable to get the weekly blog complete. But wait! Here it is (just a few days lat). I think next year, I'll spread out the postings and post when a great tool or resource is found or shared. In the meantime, here is on great resource for the end of the year!

Cybraryman - This site was shared with me a few months ago, and I have taken my time perusing the site as there is A LOT to see. The Cybrary Man (real name: Jerry Blumengarten, or @cybraryman1 on twitter) has done such a wonderful job of gathering, identifying, and sorting so many great resources.

We begin by looking at the resources he has collected for parents. On this page, Cybrary Man provides resources that help parents deal with a wide variety of concerns, including how to deal with bullying, parenting tips, and communicating with children.

There is a selection for students, too. Here, resources are shared for the various subject areas, as well as tips for selecting the right college, study skills, test preparation, and connections to sports.

Of course, as an educator, you'll find plenty of resources for yourself, too. These resources are organized by job title (administrator, counselor, librarian, new teacher, etc.), grade level, or content area. One of the best parts of the site, especially here at the end of a school year, very well could be the Teacher Tools area, where you'll find things such as awards, certificates, and teacher comments.

Just exploring the resources Cybrary Man has provided could fill up the remainder of your school year and summer planning. Check back often, as many of the links will change, with old ones going away and new ones popping up.


Finds of the Week: May 10-14

This week, we look at some resources for our non-core area teachers.

1. Music4Education - This is a great site that provides sample lessons and resources for music teachers. The sample lessons are provided in a variety of formats, from Word documents to websites. Of course, as with any sample lessons, they can be tailored to fit the needs of your classroom.

The provided resources are through delicious. These are resources that have been collected by a music teacher. As they are on delicious, you can take advantage of the features of social bookmarking.

2. RealAge Videos - RealAge has a great collection of videos that can be used in both the FCS and Health classrooms. Among the collections of videos are videos for healthy eating, cooking tips and techniques, fitness, workouts, YOU and your body, and beauty and skin care.

RealAge isn't just videos, either. There are plenty of resources for helping you to live a healthy lifestyle. These resources can help with a multitude of lessons across content areas.

3. Keyarts - Pennsylvania has its own arts education space with Keyarts. On this wiki, you can find resources for the various arts, including dance, music, theater, and the visual arts. There are so many ideas on the site that help make connections to 21st Century education, grants and funding, and opportunities for students.

As we all know, the arts aren't just for the arts classrooms, and they are very essential to the core curriculum areas. Keyarts has a section on the wiki that shows connections to Language Arts and Mathematics, as well as what arts integration is all about.


Finds of the Week: May 3-7

This week, we focus on some content-specific resources for the four core areas: English, Math, Science, and Social Studies.

Vaughan Memorial Library Tutorials - Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada has created a collection of tutorials for helping students learn about proper research, how to evaluate websites, how to harness the internet for searches, how to find sources, and how to avoid plagiarism.  For each tutorial, it begins stating why the information being presented is so important for our students to know, followed by what will be covered, and how long it should take to get through the tutorial (each are listed at 10 minutes).

These tutorials can be great resources for teachers to share with students as they progress through the research and writing process for research papers. Students are able to self-direct themselves through the tutorials as they work through the situations that are presented. These could also be great conversation starters for a classroom discussion on the issues. Just keep in mind that a few of the tips presented in the tutorials deal with the Vaughan Memorial Library and how to access materials there, as the tutorials were created for the library.

Shodor Interactivate - One of the best ways to get students to comprehend mathematics is to allow them to discover some of the ideas and patterns in a hands-on manner. This can often be a difficult thing to do with some concepts, and that is where Shodor.org comes in.

There are many different ways to navigate through the interactives, as this guide shows. They are organized in groups by content areas: Numbers and Operations, Algebra, Probability, Statistics, Modeling, Discrete, and Other.

When you choose an individual interactive, you will see four tabs: Learner, Activity, Help, and Instructor. For Learner, it gives an overview of what the interactive is and ways it can be used in activities and discussions. The Activity tab is where you try things out. Help, well, gives you a little help, explaining how the interactive works and what each part represents. The instructor tab gives some links to help connect to some state and NCTM standards, as well as a few textbooks.

PhET from University of Colorado at Boulder - Math isn't the only subject that benefits from having virtual interactives to work with. There are many areas in science where they can be helpful, too, and that's where PhET comes in! PhET provides a collection of simulations that run through Java on your computer and include simulations for Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Earth Science (and math, too). If intereted in working with these interactives, you can design your own lessons or work from lesson ideas on the site.

Social Studies
Wanderlust - There once was a time where much of the world was disconnected and unknown. It was a great time for exploration and wonder, adn Wanderlust helps today's students explore these ideas. From Magellan's circumnavigation to Amelia Earhart's unfinished flight, even fictional travels such as Around the World in Eighty Days, students can explore the facets of the voyages and explorations.