Best Place to Find Technology For The Classroom

picture of an e-learning classroom

picture of an e-learning classroom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As my regular readers know I am always looking for new technologies to try out in my classroom. But the task of finding new technologies can at times be overwhelming. The amount of apps and programs out there is daunting at best. Often times it takes hours to find something that I think will work and feel is worth giving a try in my classroom. This past weekend however, I was catching up on some of my educational blogs that I read and I came across a post by Audrey Watters who might have found a great starting point.

Audrey Watters writes a blog called “Hack Education” and she wrote about a site called “EdShelf“. This is a site that lists hundreds of educational tools to use in the classroom. The best description is the one they use on their website that describes their website as,

“… a directory of websites, mobile apps, and desktop software that are rated & reviewed by educators, for educators. We decrease the friction of using and procuring effective technology into the classroom.”

As I reviewed the site I found it to exactly that. This is a great starting point for anyone looking to add some technology to their classroom. The reviews and ideas that can be found on this site are quite valuable and will significantly reduce the amount of time teachers spend searching for new tools and ideas. I highly recommend this site to educators looking to add something new to their class.

Check it out here.

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Visual Search Engine: instaGrok

Over the course of the the last few days my students have begun to use instaGrok as a search engine in class. This site conducts searches in a very visual way that invokes students to explore and learn. Often times I see them digging deeper into a search due to the visual nature of the the search engine. The visual nature also seems to spark  the curiosity in students to explore and look deeper into a topic. Another great thing about this search engine is the layout which provides students immediately with key facts, videos, images and other resources. Saving students time in looking for these resources next which they often need to do for many assignments. I was very happy with how engaged my students were and how they seemed to really like to use this search engine.

Check it out for yourself at: http://www.instagrok.com/

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Scholastic: Interactive Whiteboard Activities

Like every teacher I am always excited to find good resources. Over the past week I came across a great resource site for interactive whiteboards. This site contains many resources for Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, Math, and others. The activities and media shared on this site are high quality and cover many different areas of study within each subject area. Many of these activities would be a great supplement to any teachers curriculum.

Check out this great resource at: http://teacher.scholastic.com/whiteboards/languagearts.htm

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Visual Digital Library

WDL

So often my Jr. High students seem to lose interest in their research and begin to complain that they can not find any good information. Wikipedia and other informational websites by their nature are not designed for younger students. So after the first few minutes of searching student interest is lost and they are off task. So I began looking for another website that might hold their interest a bit longer and found one that seemed to fit the bill, “World Digital Library“. This site provides images and a timeline that students can use to search for information on historical topics world wide. The great thing about this site is that it is very visual and seemed to captivate and keep student attention. There was a good amount of information on the website and I found it be a great starting point for students with research projects.

Check it out at World Digital Library http://www.wdl.org/en/

Below are some resource for other historical resources.

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Free Survey Creator “Obsurvey”

This past week as our semester came to a close I began looking to create a survey to see what my students are thinking about the year so far. I have always found these types of surveys to be very reveling and enlightening and because of this have made them a regular part of my classroom routine.

The issue every year is what service to use? Survey Monkey is the most well known but like many other survey creators they require a monthly fee and since I am only creating 3-4 surveys a year a monthly fee of $20.00 is just not worth it. Many of the survey sites do offer a free version but only allow a certain amount of questions or responses which will not work for me either since I have almost 200 students. So I began the search to find a survey creator that is simple to use and unlimited in it application for free.

The best thing was I found one “Obsurvey”. Obsurvey is a great survey creator. It is very simple to use and has a wide variety of questions types to ask such as multiple choice, short answer, essay and others. It provides many different ways to present your audience with the survey by providing code to embed the survey, a link or in a java application. It has many other options like pass wording your survey and a print version as well. You can also print your results in an organized easy to read PDF document. So if you are a teacher on a budget and looking to create a survey for your students at no cost check out “Obsurvey”.

Click here to take a look at their site.

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Don’t Forget You Need a Foundation!

John Wooden at a ceremony on Oct. 14, the coac...

Image via Wikipedia

Education is in a state of flux all across the country. Districts are looking for new ways to improve learning and meet the state and federal guidelines for education. As districts look at these different techniques and technologies, what is often overlooked is the foundation.

There is a great story about the famous basketball coach John Wooden. One of his first lessons that he taught his college players when they came to UCLA was how to put on their socks and shoes. He told them that this game requires you to move and change directions quickly and if your shoes and sock are not on correctly, you could get blisters or your shoe could come untied. In both cases you are then out of the game. If you are out of the game, you cannot be successful.

Today in education teachers are often overlooked as these new approaches and techniques are implemented in their schools. As districts mandate these techniques, they do not consult the fundamental aspect of their educational process, their teachers. Techniques do not teach kids, teachers do and they can often can provide valuable assistance on implementation of these new techniques.  When districts overlook the fundamentals in applying new techniques and programs, they are often met with failure and frustration adding to the dilemma of education today. True change in education today cannot be successful unless it has been built on a good foundation.

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Locating Primary Resources for Students

Over the past week my students began our states Classroom Based Assessment known as a CBA for the state of Washington called Digging Deep. This project requires them to do the following:

1. Develop a historical question.

2. State a position on the historical question.

3. Provide reason(s) for your position that include:

  • An explanation of how two or more primary sources support your position.
  • Additional evidence from one or more of the following social science perspectives:
    • geographic
    • cultural
    • political
    • economic
    • sociological
    • psychological.

4. Make explicit references within the paper or presentation to three or more credible sources that provide relevant information AND cite sources within the paper, presentation, or bibliography.

One of the biggest stumbling points for my students was locating resource that they could use to find primary sources to support their position. So as the students worked I began collecting resources that they found to be useful in locating primary sources. This is not an exhaustive list by any means but was one that allowed my students to find the needed information on many different topics. As always if you know of a great resource that I have not mentioned please drop me a line and let me know so I can add it to the list.

Searchable Primary Sources Sites

These sites can be used to search for primary sources on American History.

  1. Yale University-Three ways to search for Primary Source Documents at Yale University.
  2. Library of Congress collections and searchable database.
  3. New Deal Network collection list and a searchable database.
  4. Northern Nevada Primary Source Catalogue Search.
  5. Smithsonian Institute search for primary source documents.

Primary Source Site Lists

These links provide you with many resources to locating primary sources on a variety of topics.

  1. Here is another great Primary List Resource for the Library of Congress thanks to Julie
  2. Primary Source Sets – Each set collects primary sources on a specific topic, all as easy-to-use PDFs, with historical background information and teaching ideas.
  3. Primary Sources by State – Selected primary sources for each of the fifty states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories.
  4. Browse by Topic in the Library of Congress- Easy browsing for primary sources across all the digital collections of the Library of Congress.
  5. Web Guides – List of primary documents arranged by topic.
  6. From Revolution to Reconstruction: http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/usa.htm
  7. The University of Oklahoma Law Center: A Chronology of US Historical DocumentsThis site offers a great set of historical documents from pre-colonial days to the present. http://www.law.ou.edu/hist/
  8. Repositories of Primary Sources great list of primary sources.
    1763-1815: Primary Sources: The American Revolution and the New Nation
  9. 1815-1860: Primary Sources: National Expansion and Reform
  10. 1860-1877: Primary Sources: Civil War and Reconstruction
  11. Primary Source Documents: A very extensive list of Primary Resource websites. Treasury of Primary Resources pertaining to early American History.
  12. Top 100 links for Primary sources
  13. American History Primary documents categorized list of documents by era in American History.
  14. Historical Scene investigators 13 topics and primary resources on each topic.
  15. The Valley of the Shadow searchable database for the Civil War.

 Other Primary Source Helpful sites

  1. Historical Scene investigators 13 topics and primary resources on each topic.
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