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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

9/11 Anniversary

Memorial Flag at Pentagon
I've been reading a great number of articles about the upcoming 10th anniversary of September 11, as educators around the country prepare lessons and discussions.  The following piece, from Edutopia blogger Suzie Boss, includes numerous links to amazing resources, including the official 9/11 Memorial site, the September 11, 2001, Documentary Project hosted by the Library of Congress, and Newseum's collection of 147 newspaper front pages from 9/11.

How do we talk to our kids about this? Most of our students aren't old enough to remember 9/11 in a profound way. My oldest daughter was two weeks shy of her first birthday when this horrific event happened, and she really doesn't know anything about it. As a former history teacher myself, I am shocked to be 11 days from the anniversary, realizing my own children will need a lot of help and guidance in processing what is sure to be a big media event. How have I never talked about this with them? While shopping for school supplies, the subject somehow came up (did we see a poster? did I suddenly realize the date was near? I can't really remember) and I found myself with tears in my eyes, describing for her the feeling of turning on the morning news that day and thinking I was mistakenly watching a movie. Could it be real? Was I truly seeing a building collapse on live television? Later that day I went to work at the University of Puget Sound, where I was teaching an educational technology class to graduate students in the MAT program. My students were returning from local area schools where they had been placed for observations, and all had stories to tell about how the principals and teachers were trying to manage the day... How much do we share? How do we know what's going on? Ten years ago, we didn't have social media or free-flowing Internet access in the classroom. YouTube, Facebook and Twitter did not exist. Google wasn't the same search engine it is today. Some schools had one television in one room where employees could see the news. No one knew how to process what was going on, and of course it absorbed all of our attention in the next few weeks as we grieved together and worked to identify best educational practices.

I was overwhelmed...I can only imagine how our children will feel when seeing some of the footage for the first time. Of course, depending on the grade level and subject you teach, and the experience your students bring to the classroom, you will handle this differently. I would encourage you to look over some of the resources available online. Suzie's blog post outlines "how to help your students observe the 9/11 anniversary" many different ways, including:
  • build resilience
  • explore artifacts
  • learn through stories
  • write to learn
  • consider how we remember
  • learn through service
  • use the news
This is a fantastic, comprehensive post. Her last request is to "Share Your Ideas." There will likely be many more ideas contributed in the comments section. If you have ideas of your own, please share them here as well.

Image By U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brandan W. Schulze [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Here's a little something extra I found a while ago and have put to use in a few places where I publish online...

Favi-what, you ask? Favicons are those cute little icons that pop-up next to the URL of a website when you're browsing online or bookmarking sites. Recognize any of these?
They're TINY! And they get embedded in the HTML code of websites to customize them with extra cuteness. And is sort of important, I guess. Whatever.

Anyway, is a favicon generator, a site where you can create your own favicons! You can create them from scratch, or start with an uploaded image and tweak it from there. You'll notice the favicon for this site is the Charles Wright Academy crest. Or something like it. The actual upload looked like this:
Not entirely recognizable, but I did a bit of minor tweaking and then saved the .ico file to use in Blogger for this site (which is dead easy, btw). It's so tiny, it still looks like the Tarrier symbol we all know and love.

Similarly, I took the square logo from my other blog, and made a favicon for that site.

Looks crazy as a favicon, right? But when it's super tiny in your URL bar, it looks...close enough!

Customize to your heart's content.

Challenges Facing Teachers

Richard Byrne's website, Free Technology for Teachers, is THE place to go if you're looking for some inspiration or ideas for technology integration. He's brilliant, concise, and oh so helpful! Each post highlights a great tool (or multiple tools) you can freely try out, and then he concludes each post with "Applications for Education," which are his brief remarks that give you that extra little nudge you might be needing to see how the tool can be used in your teaching.

This summer he has taken one of his most popular presentations, 10 Common Challenges Facing Educators, and broken it down into 10 individual posts about the challenges we'll face this fall as school gets back underway. Take a look at the list and read further if something strikes your fancy.

And add Free Technology for Teachers to your RSS feeds. :)

  1. Access - what to do when the sites you want to use are blocked
  2. Selection - selecting appropriate tools for your classroom
  3. Differentiation - resources for finding differentiated reference materials
  4. Helping Students Research and Organize - effective searching and organizing what you find
  5. Giving Every Student a Voice - backchanneling
  6. Cell Phones - fight 'em or teach 'em?
  7. Creating Projects - videos, podcasting, blogging
  8. still to come...

Let the Training Begin!

Summer is drawing to a close...time to switch gears from techie-tech to edu-tech. Training sessions that are coming soon to a CWA classroom near you:

Google Reader and RSS feeds - 8/24 @ 10:30 a.m.
I've been wanting to do this one for a LONG time. Hope you can make it! We will look at using Google Reader, through our Tarrier Apps accounts, to subscribe to some blogs, news feeds, or other educational (or personal interest) resources. Why scour the web for great material when you can have it come to you? This is truly one of the easiest (and free!) ways to foster your own professional development, and it can quickly lead to connections with amazing educators all over the world. Whether or not you are able to attend, here are a few links to help you in your RSS journey:

Tarrier Apps Help Sessions - 8/23 @ 10:00 am, 8/24 @ 1:00 pm
If you'd like to work on your site, calendar, lesson plans, or just get a refresher on the whole Google Apps environment, please join us! The TApps Management team will be on hand to help you as you set up your digital space for the new school year.

iMovie '08 and '11 - on hold
There's so much going on in the next few weeks with opening meetings and the start of school, iMovie had to take a backseat.  A few things to know, however... Because of licensing restrictions, our student laptops are about half iLife '08 and half iLife '11.  If you plan to use any of the iLife apps (iMovie, iPhoto, GarageBand) with your students in the near future, I would strongly recommend that you check out a cart of laptops that has the same software as the one you currently use on your own laptop. You will be able to see this information in the computer lab sign-up sheets in First Class. If you need help identifying what's on your laptop, open iMovie, then go to the "About" menu.

In addition, both versions of iMovie have excellent help files and video tutorials available from Apple:
The tutorials are a great place to get started with using the programs yourself. For classroom projects, keep in mind that the video library feature is very similar to iPhoto in that anyone who uses a particular laptop has access to everyone's videos imported to the library. Students create their own projects within the program, but the library is open to all and everything is in a shared environment.

Please contact me if you plan to do any video projects this fall!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Wolfram Alpha, NOT a Search Engine :)

I'm thinking most of the math folks have already heard of Wolfram Alpha, but just in case, here you go. I'd recommend you visit this What is it? page first and follow the tour.

And not just math people! Everyone can use it. Billed as a "computational knowledge engine" rather than a search engine, Wolfram Alpha allows you to search for just about anything, from mathematical formulas to scientific principles to historical figures.

Check it out:

A few of Wolfram Alpha's goals:

Wolfram|Alpha's long-term goal is to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone.

We aim to collect and curate all objective data; implement every known model, method, and algorithm; and make it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything. Our goal is to build on the achievements of science and other systematizations of knowledge to provide a single source that can be relied on by everyone for definitive answers to factual queries.

Wolfram|Alpha aims to bring expert-level knowledge and capabilities to the broadest possible range of people—spanning all professions and education levels.
 Now, if you still want to use a traditional search engine, that's okay too. If you're really feeling saucy, and want to search in two places at once, check out Goofram, which allows you to search Wolfram Alpha and Google SIMULTANEOUSLY!

For more great resources and some thought-provoking analysis of math in the classroom, please read Mathematics Education: A Way Forward, by David Wees. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Scientists @ the Smithsonian

The Smithsonian is on a mission to put a real face on real science. Visit the link below to see what these scientists are up to, and perhaps share a few of these with your students in the lab.

"All kinds of people become scientists. And scientists do all kinds of things. Watch and read about these scientists at the Smithsonian. What kind of scientist would you like to be?"

Hat tip: eSchool News

Back to School 2011

Thanks to the Generation YES blog, for compiling this great list of Back to School posts in one place!

Titles include:
  • What tech vision will you share?
  • Games for collaboration and teamwork
  • What do students want from teachers?
  • Student technology leadership teams for laptop schools
  • Student-led conferences
  • Ten Commandments of tech support
  • Start the year off with hands on
  • 8 Big Ideas of the Constructionist Learning Lab

Storybird - Collaborative Storytelling

Storybird Quick Tour from Storybird on Vimeo.

Storybirds are short, art-inspired stories that are curiously fun to make, share, and read. Teachers love them because they inspire their most reluctant writers and readers and reward their most adventurous. Kids adore them because they feel empowered by the tools and supported by the social feedback. Sign up today for a free Class account!

Here's a great article from EdReach that will give you some ideas on how to get started with this great online service.