May 27, 2009
I think that being a teacher, I tend to want to give people positive feedback when possible. It is a gift, or curse, that most teachers possess. In school, students thrive on positive feedback. It's purposes are many: to motivate, acknowledge, encourage,and reinforce, to name a few. Positive feedback need not only come from the teacher. Students can provide feedback to one another that can often be more powerful. Today's site shares a way for students to show their creativity and provide positive feedback to each other.
PhotoPeach is a very simple slideshow application that allows you to share photos in a story or spiral format. Simply upload or find photos on Flickr or Picasa, arrange them, and choose music. The slide show is automatically created for you. I really like the layout for adding subtitles to each slide. Once created, others can easily comment on the show. Free registration is necessary to create a show, but none is needed to comment. Check out my story and spiral below. They're peachy!
All in the Fam on PhotoPeach - Story
All in the Fam on PhotoPeach - spiral
May 18, 2009
What about other things we have to learn? Like states and capital? How does a person learn these things if they can't make, or don't care to make, a personal connection? What are the tricks to learning new vocabulary? Today's site can help when you are facing such a challenge.
Vocaber is an online vocabulary learning tool. It uses spaced repetitions to help you retain vocabulary you have already learned. The idea is that too much or too little repetition is ineffective. At this site, you can find or create vocabulary lists, practice lists, or share your list with others. I tried out the World Capitals list. The lesson was thorough and lengthy. I spent about 20 minutes and didn't complete it. Even though I have no personal connection to these places, I now know that Valleta is the capital of Malta, and Windhoek is the capital of Namibia.
May 05, 2009
May 01, 2009
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to help a teacher find video clips to enhance a lesson she is going to teach to her American History class on Progressivism. This teacher takes care and time to write beautiful lesson plans. Beautiful, in that they are specific, detailed, and meet state standards. Beautiful in that direct instruction and activities are well thought-out so that the content becomes meaningful for the students. Beautiful because they are developed from the heart.
Back in the day, if such a teacher wanted to enhance a lesson with video, she would go into the school library and select a film off the shelf and set aside a class period to show that film. Picture the scene as the film is playing: Teacher sitting in the back of the classroom grading papers by flashlight. Some students appearing to watch the grainy, out-date-film with glazed over eyes, but most day dreaming or asleep with their heads resting on their unopened American History books, while the film rolls endlessly on.
OK, maybe it isn't that bad, but technology has helped cure us of the "60 for 2" syndrome. Although I am not sure if that syndrome actually exists, I am referring to watching 60 minutes of video for 2 minutes of pertinent information. Even if all 60 minutes of film have valuable information in them, chances are, that information that students need to learn will be spread out over several lessons. How many students will remember that particular part of the film two weeks later when the information is finally presented in a lesson. Much better to use video clips than an full length film.
So, back to my colleague who wanted to enhance her history lesson with video clips. We started searching for specific topics such as "the Grange" and the "Populists" and our search efforts returned a wealth of information resources. While there are many subscription sites out there that are wonderful, (our district subscribes to Discovery Education Streaming), one site stood out as a leader for free video clips.
How Stuff Works Videos
How Stuff Works has been around for quite awhile. So long, in fact, that I neglect to visit it much. In preparation for helping my teacher friend yesterday, I came across the videos section of the site and was pleasantly surprised at the size and variety of the collection. We quickly were able to find short, meaningful clips to enhance her objectives for both the Grange and the Populists. She was thrilled to have videos to fit in her lessons that wouldn't require her to spend an extra day to show them. I was thrilled to find a "tried and true" site providing extended content!
How Stuff Works videos is definitely worth checking out. The categories include Adventure, Animals, Auto, Computer, Electronics, Entertainment, Food, Geography, Health, History, Home & Garden, Money, People, and Science. Each category has a few to many subtopics. Searching is easy, and the videos are relevant for middle and high school. One tip: Math and English related videos can be found in the People category under the sub-topics of Education and Learning.