Tag Archives: Larry Ferlazzo

Fake It

I was reading yet another helpful list from Larry Ferlazzo today and was inspired to write a post. His latest update was for a list of tools that create fake “stuff” that students can manipulate to tell all kinds of interesting narratives. By “stuff”, I mean various forms of social media. For example, there are tools for creating fake iPhone texting conversations or a series of fake Tweets that would demonstrate a series of events.

These are great tools, but how can they be used in the classroom? Richard over at Free Technology for Teachers put together a post that suggests how students and teachers could use a fake Facebook profile. For my part, I’m going to make a suggestion for various core subjects as to how each of these tools could be used in the classroom.

FakeiPhoneText – One of the nicest features of the iPhone is that text conversations are recorded on a single, scrollable screen, making a timeline of sorts. The benefit to teachers and students would be to create or possibly recreate a conversation via text.

  • Math – Sometimes, it can be really difficult to get students to describe a process used to solve a problem. A fake text conversation might be one way to allow students to get creative with this kind of exercise. One texting participant could ask the questions while the other provides answers.
  • Language Arts – When working with dialogue – whether in one’s own writing or in a piece of literature – students can get confused as to who is speaking. Having them break down key conversations can help make comprehension clearer. A fun activity might be to have students replay an important piece of dialogue through texts.
  • Social Studies – Throughout the course of history, there have been important correspondences between key actors. Imagine if American colonists had texted their demands to the king back in England. What might that conversation look like?
  • Science – All sciences depend on actions and reactions to explain phenomena. Students could describe one action with a text and the resulting reaction in another text, possibly including scientific reasoning in their texts.

My Fake Wall or Fakebook – Either of these tools could be used for creating a fake Facebook wall. Conversations with acquaintances, pictures, links… all the things we post on Facebook walls could demonstrate an understanding that goes deeper than the surface.

  • Math -The easy thing to do would be to design a fake profile for a famous mathematician with other mathematicians commenting on his or her wall. However, a more imaginative project might feature designing Facebook walls for mathematic concepts. Geographic shapes could be one route. Maybe a circle could post a video of the pyramids on triangle’s wall. Maybe even specific numbers could interact on a fake wall the way people do. The key would be to define and apply definitions through these posts.
  • Language Arts -Imagine if Romeo and Juliet were Facebook friends. Then, imagine their entire saga playing out on Juliet’s (or Romeo’s) timeline. The literary possibilities are endless.
  • Social Studies -At this point in history, we can follow the Facebook wall of our president. However, this sort of access was not available or was too new for previous presidents. Have students play out important events for the great leaders of history on a Facebook page.
  • Science -Imagine a famous scientist and the kinds of images, links, and videos he or she might post on a Facebook page and that is how students could use this tool in their science classes.

Fake Tweet Builder and TwHistory – Twitter is a pretty popular record of current events. It’s one of the few places we can obtain first-person perspectives and real-time observations of events as they happen. These tools allow users to create fake Tweets and/or Twitter timelines in order to show imaginary Twitter threads.

  • Math -Again, math processes could be played out using this tool, much like the fake texting tool mentioned above. However, imagine a word problem involving money, dimensions, or time played out in a Twitter thread. Figuring out a problem that takes place while the subject travels over a certain time period could make such a problem seem more concrete.
  • Language Arts -A student could map out the major plot elements and events in literature through a series of Tweets. It may also be helpful to work out the same components in an original work.
  • Social Studies -Twitter has recently played a major role in protests and events of social change all around the world. Students could record the events of Pearl Harbor or the Boston Tea Party via Tweets.
  • Science -Taking observations of scientific phenomena can be boring at times. However, students might have fun recording each action and reaction through Tweets.

Of course, the above ideas are not the only ways to use these tools. Some of these ideas can work for various subject areas or any of the tools. The important thing to remember is that using these fake social media tools is a fantastic hook for student interest. These activities also give them an opportunity to apply what students have learned in a new and creative way.

How would you use these fake social media tools in your class? What aspects of these activities would be most beneficial to students’ understanding of concepts? In what ways would it be more beneficial to use actual social media tools in the projects described above?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist and blogger for the eMINTS National Center.

HD_Links: Best of 2011 Lists

Duke University Researchers Teach Kids About Cartilage, Joints and Arthritis
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The end of the year is a time to reflect and there’s no better way to reflect on the best a given year had to offer than the all-important list. So, here’s a list of… well… lists of the best in education, technology, and educational technology for 2011. Cheers!

Education and Educational Technology:

What lists or resources would you add to our list? Which resources have been the most helpful to you in 2011?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist and blogger for the eMINTS National Center.


HD_Links: Halloween

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Halloween is almost here, but we’re ahead of the curve at NT&L and have your resources for the scariest of American holidays…

The first link is an older post from Science Education on the Edge, but the Halloween ideas within are perfect. Imagine Physics teachers and students designing ways to dispose of all the pumpkins we’re left with after Halloween. Now, think of all the scientific properties that would be discovered in building a trebuchet or simply blowing up a few pumpkins. Sounds like a good way to study Physics and a lot of fun.

Is your school jumping on the iPad bandwagon this fall? Teacher Reboot Camp has a great list of apps for iPads, iPhones, and iPods. Most of the apps are Halloween games, but a good teacher can find some great classroom applications or just give the students a brain break now and again.

Edgalaxy has a couple of useful posts for Halloween. Try having students create a choose your own adventure story using a PowerPoint template. Or check out these five fun classroom ideas for Halloween.

For those who maybe want to research Halloween or practice reading infographics, Daily Infographic has several interesting infographics. There’s the Costume for Every Era graphic that demonstrates how students can create costumes based on historical eras. For students who are older and ready for the Dark Side of Halloween, there’s an infographic available. An economics lesson can stem from this “Candynomics” graphic. Check out the graphic below for another example and keep an eye out for whatever DI comes up with next.

The Learning Network blog at the New York Times is prepared for Halloween. In one post, they ask students what they are afraid of. Look to see some of the student responses and have your own students participate. It might be the opening for a new topic in your class.

In another post, a picture slideshow is used to spur on a research project on Halloween. Questions, procedures, and even resources are provided. Even if you don’t use the lesson, some of the linked resources can be helpful.

Of course, if you still haven’t found what you’re looking for, there is always Larry Ferlazzo. His post on “The Best Websites for Learning About Halloween” contains a huge number of resources to get you started with some Halloween-related studies in your classroom.

Also (H/T Jennifer Foster, eIS):

What are your plans for Halloween in regards to your students? What are some Halloween resources we may have missed? Of course, what are you planning to be this Halloween?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. He does not currently have a costume, but his three-year-old plans to dress up as Rosie the Riveter.

HD_Links: Roundup

Chain Links
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As with the list of online tools for Tuesday, today’s links are a roundup of some of the best articles on the internet that you should be reading…

EdGalaxy is offering to buy your teacher resources and lesson plans. That’s right. You can actually profit off of the hard work you put into teaching your students…I mean, other than your actual salary. To submit a resource or lesson plan, go here to EG’s submission form.

We’ve provided resources for creating infographics before, but Wild Apricot my have just created the mother of all how-to-make-infographics blog posts. In the post, blogger Rebecca Leaman points readers to some good resources for creating infographics as well as some useful tools.

Although several years old, this piece on standards-based grading just appeared in my Delicious feed. Author Patricia L. Scriffiny presents seven reasons to make the switch to standards-based grading that no educator can argue. Along with her reasoning, Scriffiny provides some concrete examples sure to convince any skeptics of this new direction in grading.

Larry Ferlzzo is a regular contributor at Education Week. He invited some contributors to take on the issue of perceived disrespect directed at teachers these days. Some of the insights are rather thought-provoking and invite more contributions to the discussion.

Dan Meyer of dy/dan points us in the direction of this really interesting piece on relating math to the real world. Shot down are our typical answers to the question “When are we going to have to know this?” Samuel Otten breaks down each type of real-world example we typically give students and provides an idea for changing the way we teach math in order to make it more real world for our students.

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

Tuesday’s Tool: Online Tool Roundup

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This busy week has caused me to fall behind with the posts. So, for the online tool feature, I will give you five six for the price of one. Enjoy…

Students have a difficult time putting into context statistics involving large numbers of people. The BBC now offers How Many Really?, an online tool that allows one to put historical and current statistics in a context students can better understand. There are options for using Facebook or Twitter lists for comparisons, but one can also enter their own number of people (maybe a classroom’s worth) in order to see how these statistics would play out in a smaller, more manageable context. One could visualize how many of their Facebook friends would have died at Gettysburg or how many would be homeowners.  via Larry Ferlazzo,  via Infosthetics)

SafeShare is the tool for which schools weary of questionable YouTube content have been searching. With SafeShare, teachers can enter a YouTube URL and the tool will filter out ads, related videos, and comments. This makes YouTube a much safer resource for the classroom.

WikiHow has always been a fantastic resource for the how-to’s for almost anything. WH’s list of commonly misused words is just one example of how this site can be used as a help tool for your students. The list links to easy-to-understand anecdotes and definitions that explain when and where a word is best used. Now, there’s a simple way to explain the difference between “affect” and “effect.” (via EdGalaxy)

Chrome Experiments brings us the Web GL Globe, a tool that allows us to visualize world data in a prety slick, 3-D image of the earth. There are a few globes already submitted on the site, but it is easy to grab the Java Script and insert your own data sets.

Moritz Stefaner has created a fantastic real-time visualization tool of Twitter content. Simply enter any topic and the tool demonstrates what’s being said on Twitter in a constantly-updated timeline. It’s easy to keep up with nearly any trending topic with this tool.

Over the last few days, new tool to help with classroom management has been floating around the eMINTS discussion list. Class Dojo is an online tool that allows teachers to keep track of both positive and negative behaviors during class. Students might be rewarded for participation or helping others. Conversely, a teacher can track negative behaviors such as disruptions or missing homework. Data is collected in nice inforgraphics for the entire class as well as individual students. This data can then be easily shared with stakeholders for each student. One can even remotely record data with a smart phone, although no app seems to be available at the moment.

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

HD_Links: Teaching 9/11

National Park Service 9-11 Statue of Liberty and WTC
Click for source. - Public Domain
The tenth anniversary of 9/11 is approaching and there are plenty of resources out there to supplement your teaching of recent American history, a history that has had far-reaching effects.

The Learning Network (a New York Times educational blog) has been featuring documentaries for teacher use on various subjects. Their most recent entry into the series features a set of docs that highlight those who were affected directly or contributed to the efforts surrounding the events on 9/11. Read more about the four documentaries featured here. For even more resources from The Learning Network, check out this post, complete with thought-provoking questions and prompts.

A pretty comprehensive database of 9/11 teaching resources and lesson plans is maintained by the Clarke Forum at Dickson College. Be sure to check out the award-winning lesson plans for various grade levels.

Teaching 9/11 provides a large amount of resources, including many video interviews that provide some additional perspective on a historical event. The site also provides a suggested interdisciplinary unit and lessons for teaching 9/11.

Larry Ferlazzo might as well be a regular contributor here for our HD_Link posts as his single posts on almost any topic far exceed what we post here. Of course, Larry’s post on 9/11 teaching resources is unmatched. His secret is that he constantly updates older posts, always keeping up with the latest resources.

There are many more resources for teachers to utilize when teaching about the events of September 11, 2001. Between the three links above, one should be able to obtain all the vetted resources needed to do this event justice in our classrooms. That said, I would like to know what you are doing to commemorate the tenth anniversary of 9/11. What resources will you be using for teaching 9/11?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center and he can remember the exact moment when he informed his class of the terrible tragedies taking place in New York and Washington, D.C. on September 11, 2001.

HD_Links: Teaching Students How

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Much of what we teach students at the beginning of the school year consists of simply teaching them how to do things. This week’s list of links will help you access some resources for such activities.

Larry Ferlazzo does a guest post at Education Week Teacher on how to teach your students to listen, probably the most important skill they’ll learn in school. As is typical a Larry Ferlazzo post, there are lots of links to additional resources to help you with this important endeavor.

When using online tools, it’s important to explain what the tools are and how they work. The Common Craft YouTube channel contains a large number of pertinent and timely videos that explain everything from right-clicking to blogs to Google Docs. Also, all of it is done in “plain English.” Check out the fun video they did on surviving Zombies below…

Need to create effective tutorials? Tildee is an online tool that can help you create online tutorials with screenshots for various projects. This might be an excellent resource for that WebQuest you’ve been working on that needs tutorials for the more technical aspects of your project. Click over to EdTech Toolbox‘s site for a more detailed explanation as to how Tildee can help you guide your students through technical tasks.

Whether you use Facebook or not with your students, it’s important to teach them about privacy and safety issues, especially for those students 13 years or older. All Facebook shares an up-to-date list of privacy features every student (and maybe a few teachers) should have in his or her back pocket. (H/T Teach Paperless)

Whatever you plan to do with your students this year, the important thing to remember is that you’ll have to teach them how to do it. A recent study by Robert Marzano suggests that “unassisted discovery learning” is an ineffective instructional approach. However, the same study suggests that “enhanced discovery learning” is very beneficial. Unassisted discovery learning would be an approach where students are given a scenario to study while given very little or no content and no guiding process. An enhanced learning discovery lesson involves preparation and providing guidance along the way. In other words, students perform better with guidance or being taught how a process or tool works. (H/T Larry Ferlazzo)

What are the important “how to’s” you plan to teach students in the early days of the school year? How do you teach your students to follow procedures? What are the best ways to guide students to reach their goals?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

HD_Links: Free Tools

For this weeks list of helpful links, we’ll keep it simple. Here are five links to tools or list of tools that won’t cost you or your district a cent.

Get a head start on creating your Web 2.0 Toolkit this summer with Larry Ferlazzo’s list of “The Best Collections Of Web 2.0 Tools For Education.” Instead of your typical list of tools, this is sort of a list of lists of Web 2.0 tools for your classroom. This link alone will provide you enough work for the summer.

Do you want to have your students blog without going through the process of setting up a blog site and assigning logins? Try Instablogg, a free blogging tool that simply allows users to publish one post at a time without having to set up an entire blog. Each post is given a unique URL for sharing.

Ayushveda Web has provided a nice list of six online diagram tools for creating graphic organizers or your very own infographics.

Issuu is an online magazine publishing service that anyone can use. As far as classroom application, it seems it would be a great tool for a large interdisciplinary project or even a portfolio. Watch the video and see what you think.


Finally, every 21st century classroom needs an image editing program, but software like Photoshop or Fireworks can be expensive. Luckily, there are plenty of great, free alternative out there. Check Web Design Booth‘s list of Photoshop alternatives here.

As you can see, there is no shortage of free and effective tools online. It’s just a matter of hunting them down and spending time learning how to use them. I guess that’s what summers are for. 😉

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

HD Links: Black History Resources

A good website for Black History month is Scholastic.  This site has information and resources for different grade levels.  There are various interactive activities and suggestions for books.  Some of the topics covered are African American inventors, musicians, authors, civil rights leaders, and the Underground Railroad.

Terri Brines is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

Also, be sure to check out Debbie Perkins’ post on Martin Luther King resources here. And, of course, there’s always Larry Ferlazzo’s list of resources. -Zac

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.