Black History Month (Week)

Here at Networked Teaching & Learning, we’re taking a different approach to our topics. With Black History Month coming (all of February), we’re dedicating this week to resources and tips relating to the month. Be sure to check in throughout as we provide online tools, resource links, and teaching tips to help you with your Black History Months needs.

In the meantime, check out the news from eMINTS and eLearning…

Friday was the last day to sign up for the eMINTS Winter Conference. If you missed the deadline, were unable to attend this year, or want keep track of the many great presentations at this year’s conference, check out our conference blog.

Congratulations to Bolivar Intermediate School (MO) for SMART Designation: Bolivar Intermediate School (where all teachers are eMINTS4ALL trained and 4th grade teachers are certified eMINTS Comprehensive teachers) was just chosen by SMART to be an Elite SMART School.

SMART announced a new initiative exclusively for SMART Showcase Schools. Beginning this year, 25 SMART Showcase Schools have been selected as Elite for the duration of the calendar year. These selections were made based on the annual survey data collected throughout October and November last year. SMART Showcase Elite Schools are those that have demonstrated an exceptional commitment in using a wide range of SMART products in the majority of classrooms to create appealing, interactive learning environments that increase student engagement and improve learning outcomes. Educators and administrators at SMART Showcase Elite Schools have shared their results and experiences with their local education community by consistently hosting visitors who are interested in learning more about SMART. They have also been active members of SMART learning communities, such as SMART User Groups, the SMART Exemplary Educator Program, and SMART Exchange, in an effort to constantly improve and share their SMART skills.

Each of the 2011 SMART Showcase Elite Schools will receive a recognition package, including a SMART Board 885ix interactive whiteboard system and a commemorative plaque. Throughout 2011, these Elite Schools will be eligible for hardware and software donations on new SMART products as they come to market. SMART requires each Elite School to act as the host site for a SMART Open House event in 2011. A SMART Open House is a time for the Elite School to share their SMART success story with other educators in the local area who may be interested in learning how SMART products and services can improve teaching and learning.

For more information on the program or to apply to become a SMART Elite School see: www.smarttech.com/see.

e-Learning for Educators Winter Semester Registration Extended: Registration for the Winter Semester has been extended to January 26, 2011. Check out the new e-Learning for Educators website and see what is available for Winter Semester. Visit http://www.elearningmo.org/ and learn about how the program works, discounts available, and information about graduate credit. Courses will begin February 2, 2011.

4ALL: Goolge Labs Ngram Viewer

Word clouds created in Wordle have been an educational and entertaining way to view information trends. Google has released Google Labs Book Ngram Viewer that creates instant graphs of how often phrases or words appear in books from 1800 to 2008. It gives an interesting view of many social issues and historical topics as well as offering a look at when products and technologies hit the US. Try “civil rights” or “economy” and ask students to consider what was happening to account for the changes in interest and published materials.

Jennifer Kuehnle is an area specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

Thursday’s Tip: The Classroom Blog – An Instructional Tool

powered by Fotopedia

I have heard a lot of teachers ask “Why should I blog?” and “Why should my kids blog?” In response I often say “So you want to know why you should write?” …..that is really what blogging is all about. A blog has simply taken the old journal or “Author’s Chair” to a new level….a global level. No longer are students and teachers thoughts and ideas meant for only them to hear, think about, and learn from. Now the world can read them and respond to them and everyone can learn. So when it’s time for writing in your classroom, don’t say….”let’s blog” say “let’s write”!

Edublogs has put together a Teacher Challenge for blogging, a 30 day free professional development challenge to help teachers increase their blogging skills while collaborating with a global teacher community. For more information check out the Teacher Blogging Challenge.

Other sites that may help you improve your class or teacher blog include:
Do you have a class or school blog?
Blog Ideas

So good luck and start writing!

HD Links: Let’s Get Visual

Copyright © 2005–09 Joe Lencioni used under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License

In our push to adapt teaching to match the needs of 21st century learners, we often look for new ways to present information for our students. Often lost in more antiquated methodology is the visual learner. Luckily, there are many options for presenting information visually all over the internet.

Check out Mashable’s infographic on “The Staggering Size of the Internet.” The vast amount of information being processed and exchanged is incredible, especially when expressed so well in a tidy infographic. If anything, this data represents the direction of our society and how people get and exchange information.

Although it’s great to learn so much about the Internet, there is many other kinds of data that can be represented visually. IBM brings us Many Eyes which attempts to demonstrate a near-infinite amount of information in graphic form. There are visual aids for Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech; a complex graph representing the timing of flower blooms and ripened fruit; there’s an enormous collection of crimecensus, and economic data to name just a few categories. One could get lost in Many Eyes, but it is sure to reveal the “look” of data to our more visual learners.

For more encyclopedic, even wikipedic, information, visit Qwiki. Qwiki is like Wikipedia except that the articles are visual narratives with voiceovers that bring the information on many, many topics to life for students. Watch the engaging presentation on the Great Barrier Reef or watch the biography of George Orwell during a unit on 1984 or Animal Farm.

Still haven’t found what you’re looking for? I suggest subscribing to the amazing Information Aesthetics, a blog dedicated to the latest and greatest visualazations from around the internet. Just this morning, IA shared the enhanced video of the State of the Union address given last night by President Obama, complete with statistics and graphs to explain the President’s claims. There’s a video explaining the “Space Fence”: a network of ground-based radars that detect, track, measure and catalog thousands of objects in low-Earth orbit. Another post explains how to best tell a story with data. This blog really is a great resource that should be in your RSS feed.

If you’re looking for a tool that can allow students to create their own visual presentations of their research, try Middlespot. Middlespot allows users to “mash-up” various forms of media and information around the web into one place. The tools are easy to use and feature many drag-and-drop options.

Hopefully, these tools and resources will provide new ways for you to visualize your teaching. What are some ways in which you improve the visualization of your lessons?

Zac Early is an instructions specialist for the eMINTS National Center.

Tuesday’s Tool: Picnik

I found this tool, offered by Google, by watching my daughter use it to make a collage with some of her photos for a class project. Picnik is easy to use and has educational uses. Read more about how it is being used in the classroom.

With Picnik, you can edit photos quickly and easily wherever they are, mix photos together to make a collage, turn photos into a scrapbook or greeting card, and build slide shows to share with the world.

Chris Lohman is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

Monday Message: January 24, 2011

Happy Monday, all! There isn’t much to report here. Below, you’ll find a message from the eMINTS Winter Conference committee as well as a listing of the posts featured on this blog in 2011 so far. Stay tuned for even more great content in the coming days and weeks.

The Winter Conference Crew hopes to see you in Columbia, MO Feb. 23, 24 and 25, 2011 for the Future is Now! Our Keynote Speakers are Bernie Dodge and Jamie McKenzie! There are tons of awesome preconference and conference sessions and if you are around on Thursday night, join us for Power Point Karaoke. Have no fears, no singing is involved! Be part of the Future! Register NOW! (Registration closes January 28, 2011)

Click on the link to learn more about the upcoming eMINTS Winter Conference!
http://crmarty.glogster.com/emintswinterconference/

Be sure to keep up with our Winter Conference blog for all the latest news on Winter Conference 2011.

Previously on Networked Teaching & Learning
Monday Message: New Year’s Resolutions
Tuesday’s Tool: My eBook
HD Links: Math & Constructivism
Thursday’s Tip(s): Top Five Tips
Friday 4ALL: The New Year Resolution with Fly Lady
Monday Message: January 10, 2011
Tuesday’s Tool: StoryBird
HD Links: Shadow Cast by MLK
Thursday’s Tip: Graphic Organizers
4ALL: Forgetting the Past in the Name of Accessibility
Tuesday’s Tool: Save, Sync, Share with Dropbox
HD Links: Your Own Virtual Corkboards
Thursday’s Tip: What’s Your Style?
4ALL: How We See the World

You too can contribute to Networked Teaching & Learning. Simply click on the contribute link and enter your own blog post on the Google Form.

Also…

e-Learning for Educators Winter Semester Registration Extended: Registration for the Winter Semester has been extended to January 26, 2011. Check out the new e-Learning for Educators website and see what is available for Winter Semester. Visit http://www.elearningmo.org/ and learn about how the program works, discounts available, and information about graduate credit. Courses will begin February 2, 2011.

4ALL: How We See the World

The following crossed my RSS feed via one of my favorite online comics, XKCD.

Image courtesy of XKCD.

Although humorous, the comic’s portrayal of American ignorance is troubling, especially for educators. Sure, the implication is that Americans know a lot about large chunks of the world. However, the comic also demonstrates attitudes that are troubling about those areas in the world that are not as familiar to us. To think, there was a time when we probably couldn’t have picked out Iraq or Afghanistan on a map.

How do we overcome this lack of geographical awareness?

As with any societal ignorance, the solution begins in our schools. Teachers have many tools available that can help them help their students learn about the far reaches of our planet. There’s the virtual reality of Google Earth and the many, many possibilities for this truly amazing tool.

There’s also the many alternative views of the world not found in our text books. Take the Peters Map which tries to represent the size of the continents in a more accurate manner. There are tools for mapping activity on Twitter which can help students see prevailing messages in different parts of the world. Language is closely tied to geography and there are plenty of maps for that sort of information. Or for a more personal touch to world geography, check into an account with ePals for a pen-pal project.

With so many resources available on the web, there are no excuses for not improving our global awareness. Maybe through a concerted effort, we can change comics like the one above.

Zac Early is an instructional specialist for the eMINTS National Center. He updates his blog Suppl_eMINTS from time to time.

Thursday’s Tip: What’s Your Style?

I look at the faces within my classroom. Each face is different, filled with individuals. Then, as an educator, I need to remind myself that each individual student has a strength and weakness in how they learn. Understanding how a student learns and applying a variety of learning opportunities in the classroom opens the door for all students to achieve success.

Digging for ways to apply the theory of multiple intelligences and learning styles within classroom lessons can take time and effort for the teacher. Time is something we cherish and are not always willing to give up. So, how can I use my time effectively and still open the door to helping students achieve through their strengths?

It would be good to refresh my understanding of multiple intelligences (body, linguistic, spacial, intrapersonal, interpersonal, musical, naturalist, and logic) and learning styles (visual, auditory, and kinesthetic & tactile). What does each mean? How does each type of learning transfer into a classroom situation?

To help save time throughout the year, I created a list of possible products. Each product is generic enough that it could be used within any area of study. This list will change into a checklist as I decide which multiple intelligences and learning styles are evident within the product. Writing a short note to each intelligence or style, explaining why each connects to the product, will help as the product is more refined later to a particular lesson and subject.

A student working within a cooperative group can create a skit. This project could include the learning styles of: interpersonal, body, and kinesthetic & tactile. Logic could be added if the student needed to organize information gathered.

As a teacher, it is so important to consider each of my students. I need to take into account the different ways each student learns and then apply that in formation within my lessons. It is important that each student has the opportunity to achieve success.

Resources:
Using All Your Smarts
How to address multiple intelligences in the classroom

Michele Smith is an instructional specialist for the eMINTS National Center.

HD Links: Your Own Virtual Corkboards

Are you the kind of person that likes to post sticky notes everywhere and have all your ideas, inspirations, lists, and more right in front of you? Well you may find virtual bulletin boards are the tool for you. Many of these tools available on the web offer a simple click, type, and drag feature with the option to make your board public and some  can even be used as a collaboration tool.

Web 2.0 is making what were once organizational tools that filled our classroom and office walls now tools that can follow us anywhere and be at the tip of our fingers when we want access to them. What is even cooler is that these tools are so easy to use your students will be able to utilize them in a matter of minutes and be using them all while learning how to manage, compile, and share information and make connections between abstract ideas and their world.

A couple of free and easy to use virtual cork boards you may want to check out are: (some do require users to create a free account)

  • Spaaze.com -in beta and free for now, basic tool will be free forever
  • Corkboard.me -creates a corkboard page and you share the URL
  • Wallwisher.com -no account necessary
  • Linoit.com -in beta and free for now
  • Stixy.com -a bit more than just a bulletin board
  • Postica.ca -“create, attach, and share” – works with Twitter & iGoogle

Classroom Applications: Students can use these sites individually or to collaborate with others and brainstorm ideas, share information learned through research, plan projects, create project time lines or checklists and so much more. Share your ideas for using these sites in the classroom by sharing a comment.

Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. You can find her blog, Higgins Helps, here.

“Victor Beutner House.” Flickr – Nate Hofer. Web. 12 Jan 2011. <http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3582/3503238138_01a4b70971_m.jpg>.

Tuesday’s Tool: Save, Sync, Share with Dropbox

Do you use multiple computers? Ever need a file at home or at a training session, but you can’t access it because it’s on a different computer?
Dropbox offers a great solution.  Use it to store, sync, and share files.  Just put any type of file in your Dropbox on one computer, and it will instantly sync with all of your computers where you’ve downloaded Dropbox. In fact, the files in your Dropbox will be available to you on any other computer with Internet access whether you’ve downloaded Dropbox there or not. In that way, it’s like a virtual flashdrive!  Your files are available anywhere just by logging in online.

Not only that, you can also share specific folders in your Dropbox with multiple other people so that you can collaborate on the same set of files. You decide who sees which folders. And what if a file is accidentally deleted by you or a collaborator? No problem! Login to Dropbox online, click “Show deleted files,” and restore the version of the file you want to keep.

So how much space do you get? The free Dropbox service provides 2 GB of storage, but you can earn up to 8 GB of free space by inviting friends to Dropbox. For each referral that joins, both you and your friend receive more free storage. For example, if you register and install Dropbox from my referral link, both you and I will receive 250 MB of bonus storage space.

This demo on YouTube gives more specifics about how it works.

One thing you should be aware of is that when you download Dropbox, the Growl notification system is also automatically loaded on your computer.  While I didn’t like the fact that Dropbox loaded Growl on my computer without my express permission, I do like the immediate, temporary, pop-up notification whenever a Dropbox file I have shared with others is updated or one that someone has shared with me is changed.  If you don’t like Growl, it’s easy to uninstall.

A final added benefit to Dropbox is that I can also access all files I store there from my iPhone, and that app is free too. Free Dropbox apps are also available for iPad, Blackberry, and Android.

Yes. I love Dropbox! No more emailing files to myself or struggling to remember where I left one of my many flash drives!

Debbie Perkins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.