14 Ways For Students To Create Timelines

CSI timeline

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Timelines are a great way to teach history. Students in my classes often use them to create projects on a given time period or event with great success. I have found that for all students putting events in order helps them to understand the overall development of a particular event like WWI, WWII, and to understand the development of an historical era like the Cold War. It also allows them to see how historical events are related and points out the cause and effect relationship between historical events. Below is a list of 14 great website that will allow students to create excellent interactive timelines.

  1. xtimeline – Explore and Create Free Timelines

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Want to revamp your presentations? Try these 10 programs!

Presentation ProgramsLets face it, when students see a PowerPoint presentation they moan and grown.  PowerPoint has been used so much that anymore students often tune out.  As a teacher I am always looking for new ways to present information to my students.  I still do use PowerPoint occasionally but have begun to use other programs as well and have found some of these to be quite useful.  After talking to some colleagues about this topic I decided that I would share some of the different programs I have found.  These programs are not only easy to use but a nice change for the students.  So here are the top ten alternate presentation programs that I have been using over the past year.

  1. Prezi is the first program that I found to be easy to use and entertaining for students.  This program allow you to simply place words, images and video in any order you would like.  It is very simple and the transition from topic to topic is very captivating for the students.  Also once you have created the Prezi it is saved on their website and available from any internet connection.
  2. Empressr is a lot like PowerPoint in its lay out and delivery.  It is an online program that allows you to upload video, images and audio.  It saves it on their server so that you can easily share your presentation on your own website, blog, or social networking page.
  3. Museum Box is a great site that students love.  This site allows you to create a box with different drawers and number of boxes to display your information.  This is very interactive and easily shared.  Again like the others you can add video, audio and images.  Great one to have student come up to the interactive board and explore each box and share what they find.
  4. Animoto is a great site to easily and quickly create videos for your classroom to present information.  This site will take your images, sound and video and then it creates movies that look like movie clips that can be fun for students to watch.  This is also a great site for students to use to create projects for class.
  5. Glogster is a site that allows you to present information in the form of a virtual poster.  You can imbed photos, sounds, videos and text right on the poster for students to view on their own or present to them in class.  Like Animoto, Glogster is a great site for kids to use to create projects for class.
  6. 280 Slides is simple put an online version of PowerPoint. However, it does allow you to easily link videos and images from the web into the presentation and it allows you to share your presentation easily on the web.
  7. Present it This site is like 280 slides this is a online version of PowerPoint.  This site does allow you to download your presentation so that you can use it offline as well.
  8. Wix is a flash website creator.  This site allows you to create interactive presentations or website to use in your classroom.  They have a great look to them and students seem to respond to these types of websites well.
  9. VIDDIX this site combines video with your PowerPoint type presentation.  It is a double window player that has video on the right and presentation notes or information on the right. This combination can be very powerful and really help to drive home your learning targets.
  10. SlideSix is a unique presentation application it allows you to record audio and video directly into your presentation.  It embeds the audio or video into your presentation allowing you to narrate slides and video.  It is easy to embed and share your final project.

Oh, Yes, I have Heard About You!

I was reading Larry Ferlazzo‘s blog over the weekend.  A blog that I highly recommend. You can find it at http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/.  As I was looking through the vast amount of information on his site I ran across an article he wrote titled  “Don’t bother me with facts son. I’ve already made up my mind.”  In  this article he brought up an old cartoon character that I have not thought about in years Foghorn Leghorn. I got to thinking about how many times I have heard teachers sound like him in the teachers lounge and that would include myself.  We often express our frustration about students to our fellow teachers and don’t realize the impact that can have on a students.  So many times students come to class and the teacher has  already made up their mind made up about that student.  Don’t tell me to give this student a chance I know all about them! From where the teachers lounge? The halls?  This is something that I see far to often at the beginning of the year.  Every student deserves the right to start over and get a fresh start.  Often times however they don’t get that chance because the teacher thinks that they already know all about that student.

A lot can happen over the summer.  Students who left the school in June can return in September quite a different person. Teachers need to assess off of what they see and observe in their classroom. Every teacher creates a unique relationship with their students.  What works for one teacher in a room may not work for another.  This can lead to different learning environments that might make Johnny successful in your class.  But he first must be given a chance!

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Do not underestimate them!

Over the past week as I return back to school and and began the grind of finding ways to present information to my students.  As I was developing my lessons I came across a couple of articles that really made me stop and think.  The first article was about a 16 year old boy named Christian Owens.  Chris made his first million by the age of 16 years old by being creative and finding a niche in a market online and filling it with his own company.  This was a new and creative idea that he developed and is what education should be teaching our students today. To read more about Chris check out the article on him called “The First Million Dollar of a 16 Year Old Kid“.

The second article was on Adora Svitak.  She is a remarkable student from Redmond Washington who spoke at TED last year.  If you have not seen her talk of TED about what adults can learn about kids watch it below.  She is 13 now is a published author and now is organizing TEDXRedmond to  create a forum where more students can share their ideas.

Both of these students are remarkable but more importantly they are creative.  Often times when I am developing my lessons I catch myself  developing resources that are very structured for my students.  By doing this I am removing their ability to become creative and really learn to think for themselves.  I guess you would say that I am often underestimating my students ability to learn and be creative.  As educators we must find ways to allow students to be creative, push students to think outside of the box as these two have done.  If we truly want to prepare our students for the 21st century this is how we must do it.  We must above all not underestimate what students can do if you provide the opportunity.

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What is your one thing this school year?

What is your “One Thing” for this year at school?  I discovered mine the first few days of school.

As the first few days of school came and went I was struck by the excitement and enthusiasm all the students seemed to have as they arrived at school.  Students were generally open and willing to learn and participate in all activities.  We had no shortage of students willing to help move things and help out when needed.  This caused me to stop and ponder; “Where does this willingness and motivation go as the year progresses?”  “What is it that we as teachers do that causes some students to lose that motivation?”  While we can not control what happens to students outside of school and we will always lose some to those events, we can control what happens in our schools.  So the question for me really becomes what can I do as a teacher to maintain and even enhance that motivation to learn?

So my goal is to maintain that first day excitement and motivation all year.  This will be my “One Thing” for this year!

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Motivating Students

As every good teachers knows the key to student success is keeping them motivated.  During the first week of school I usually talk to my students about motivation and what they can accomplish if they just keep trying.  This year I found a great little video clip called “No Arms, No Legs, No Worries” .  This is a great motivational 4 minute clip that will allow you to talk about motivation with your students.  This will open up discussion about perspective, persistence and effort and how they can lead to success.  I don’t know how anyone can watch this view and not be inspired and motivated.

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Help Me I Can’t Turn In My Project From Home

Over the past couple of years in my classes I often have students create digital projects at home only to find that they have trouble getting them to me at school.  Often times the movies or websites that they create are so large that their memory stick and email often will not be able to move their project from home to school.  So I have been collecting different resources for students to use to turn in their projects. One of the easiest I have found for students to use is senduit.  This site allows them to upload projects and files and then just email me the link to that file.  This has worked very well for many of my students.  Still has a 100MB limit but works for most projects and assignments.  If you are having the same problem in your class try it out at http://www.senduit.com/.

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What! Its my responsibility?

As the end of the rolls in and students and teachers finish up lessons and grading periods.  I am struck once again by the inevitable conundrum of responsibility of grades.  The image below was sent to me by a fellow colleague and I think that it sums up the responsibility of education today.          Teachers need to be accountable for what is taught and how students perform in their classes but we can not continue to place all of the blame on the teachers.  Students, parents, and community also have a large role in the success of students in school.

As a society we seem to currently place the responsibility on others and not ourselves.  Twenty years ago a common saying was,  pull your self up by your boot straps today it seems to be, this is your fault.  American ideals were founded on individualism. The responsibility of success was solely on the individual.  Now it seems as though it is on society to ensure that I succeed. This erosion of responsibility and the american way has grown over the years.  As educators and parents we need to address this with our kids.  We need to stress to them that they are responsible for their future not others.  We need to give them the tools and teach them to be responsible so that they can be successful.  We need to teach kids it is their actions that play the largest role in their success.  Reform is good and has its place but until society takes responsibility for their own actions reform can only go so far.

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Why are we addressing only 1/2 the issue of school reform?

As a teacher today I have often heard colleagues, parents, and administration talk of the apathy and lack of work ethic from students today.  I know there have been times in class that I have wondered that myself.  When I think of this subject, I often wonder is it the students or is it the education system.  Kids are often bored at school. We all know this and, as a teacher, I see it every day.  Teachers try to engage students and keep their motivation and interest, but it does not always work.  No matter what teachers do, the structure of the school is still the same. Every 50 minutes their is a bell, and after a couple of classes there is lunch, then a couple more classes, then they go home. While teachers can alter what happens in their rooms quite effectively, in many cases the atmosphere of the school does not change.

For true education reform we have to change the way students go to school.  A series of classes and heavily structured day may have worked in the past, but are they working today? With all of the talk of school reform and what happens in the classroom ,should we not consider also how the overall day is structured for the students?  All educators know that an atmosphere can have a profound effect on student achievement.  Reform in the classroom is only part of the equation.  Home life and the educational system as a whole is the other half of the equation.  Without addressing all of the issues affecting our schools, true reform will not happen.

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Why should I teach like I am in 1970 when it is 2010?

I have been surprised by the emails and discussions that I have had with people over the changes I have made in my room.  I blogged about this change a while back in a post called “Revamping My Classroom: Goodbye Desks Hello Couches and Beanbags“.  In this post I describe how I changed my room to see if a new environment would be more conducive to learning.  While the jury is still out on its effectiveness, I have been very surprised and disheartened by the amount concern this has created among teachers.

As teachers we must change to the times to provide the best learning environment for our students.  If you are not willing to change and try new things, you will not be a successful teacher.  We all have good lessons that we use over and over again, but even these lessons need to be tweaked to meet the needs of students today. Change is something that must happen often.  Changing how we engage students and the tools we use, allows teachers to meet the needs of more of our students.  The idea behind changing my room was to create a more relaxed atmosphere and to have students collaborate more.  I have found that at this point engagement is up and there is no difference in classroom management.  I did not tell my students why I was doing this, but I have had a few students say to me that my room feels more relaxed.

The resistance to change among teachers just does not make sense to me.  If you work with kids, it is a process of trial and error.  This is

Change Education

Education Needs To Change

in essence change.  So why does anytime a teacher thinks outside of the box and challenge the norms of teaching does it cause such a a big stir?  The reaction of adults and other teachers is really strong when they see my room.

“What are you doing?”

“That will never work.”

“Students can’t learn like that.”

These are some of the comments from parents and teachers.  Education has to change. The way I was taught as a kid will not work on a student of today.  So why should I teach like I am in 1970 when it is 2010?

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