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Archive for July, 2007

I love these two sites! Both will add another dimension to learning for students.  World Mapper allows anyone to visualize data around the world. Daylife is the coolest news site I have found, love the images.

http://www.sasi.group.shef.ac.uk/worldmapper/index.html – Great visual mapping tool, collection of world maps where territories are resized according to subject of interest. 336 total maps, also available as PDF’s to download. Here is an example of from the web site. Worldmapper posters depicting nuclear waste, carbon emissions and HIV/AIDS were displayed at the recent Glastonbury festival. They were used as part of the ‘Give Geography its Place’ campaign. The photos were taken by Daniel Raven-Ellison, one of the campaign members.

glastonbury2_resized.jpg

http://www.daylife.com/highlights – Daylife is a multimedia news site which highligts news stories from around the world. Top of the page has tabs for content, main page is an image and along the bottom are thumbnails representing stories that are covered

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Recently I have been doing some searching for web sites to post to the district web site as resources for teachers and students. These are a few I have come across that I believe are worth a look.

http://www.presidentialtimeline.org– Presidential timeline of the 20th century. This multimedia timeline marks key decisions of 20th century presidents, created by the Learning Technology Center at the University of Texas at Austin’s College of Education. It provides single point of access to a growing selection of digitized assets from the collections of the 12 Presidential Libraries of the National Archive. Among the assests are documents, photographs, audio recordings, and video segments featuring key challenges and decisions each faced.

http://www.exploratorium.edu/imaging_station/index.php – This is a microscope facility created for use by the general public, the Microscope Imaging Station. This gives you the ability to view living specimens, as well as control the microscopes themselves to change the magnification, focus and the lighting.

http://writing.upenn.edu/pennsound– Professors at the University of Pennsylvania have developed an online audio archive of Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams. The recordings are available free of charge through PennSound which features about 200 writers and more than 10,000 recordings contributes by poets, fans and scholars worldwide.

http://www.newteacherhotline.com–  New to teaching? This is a site which produces a twice monthly podcast that tackles the classroom management challenges facing educators and new teachers in particular in an entertaining and engaging way. Each episode contains helpful strategies and advice.

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How do we teach 21st century skills? How many in our districts know what those skills are? There are many conversations taking place filled with talk of these skills and how important they are for our students to learn, but who will teach them and where does the knowledge come from? Have you had those conversations in your districts and do you feel your students are learning what 21st century skills are and why they need them? 21st century learning takes place in part through constant communication with others,  understanding how to distinguish right from wrong/truth from fiction in the vast knowledge base of the internet. We must be able to decode what we read, hear, and see, evaluate information, organize it, make sense of it, in terms of our learning frameworks. Who does this in your district? I know this is an area I struggle with in mine. I believe we miss the mark in teaching students what being a digital citizen means, and also in understanding what skills digital literacy encompass.  I believe we have an obligation to students to prepare them for their future and their future includes all of these things. Teachers still have students search google for information, mind you nothing against google, but what about trying to scaffold information for them as Joyce Valenza talks about with creating wikipaths, what a great idea! I have teachers say they are tired of students just regurgitating in a paper what they have been told in class, yet there are no conversations about changing assessments away from paper and pen into something the students may find more engaging such as podcasts, or videos, or using wikis or blogs to express themselves and through the use of these tools develop authentic learning in the classroom. As Marco Torres has said we need to allow student work to have wings. How do you allow students work to have wings in your districts? Who teaches 21st century skills in your schools? Are there conversations taking place where you teach about what skills students today need to be successful in a future we cannot predict? Their world will be vastly different than the one we have grown up in, are we preparing them well?

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I have been looking  for Web 2.0 tools that may be useful for teachers when they return in August and I have found a couple I think may be helpful.
Gapminder is a non-profit venture for development and provision of free software that visualise human development. It was founded by Ola Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund and Hans Rosling on 25 February 2005, in Stockholm. Here is an example, I think this will be beneficial for our high school for students to visualize issues in the world.
gwc2006midsize.jpg
Another I have found is Gimp, it is a freely distributed program for photo retouching, and image authoring. It is available for Linuz, Windows and MacOSX. The site offers tutorials by level beginner, intermediate and expert which is nice, and they also have a wiki.
Also check out Gliffy a free concept mapping tool where you work offline and save your concept map as a JPG. You can also share you concept map online with others.
Cute PDF this download allows you to create .pdf files anyone can read with Adobe Acrobat Reader. This is great if your students/parents do not have the software you have at school installed on their home computer such as MS Word.
Visuwords is an online visual dictionary which is very cool.
Kartoo a metasearch engine with a visual display which has been around for a couple of years that I know of. I will be adding more interesting sites and tools as I find them.
Touchgraph, a tool to visualize and interact with information. Enables you to look at data see the big picture and how things are connected. Here is an example of web 2.0

ex-touchgraph.jpg
Take a few minutes to look at these links, I think you will enjoy them

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I just read Ryan Bretag’s post on TechLearning blog and it is funny because I had conversations in SL last week with several people while visiting ISTE SL headquarters about this very topic. Is it time we started to have more directed conversations in SL, for example focus groups centered on topics people are interested in? I believe it is. SL is a place for me to meet others in education who want to continue to have conversations about changes in education, web 2.0 school 2.0, changing pedagogy, social networking for adults, what the value is. I don’t know about anyone else, but as an instructional technology specialist, I am responsible to introduce new useful technologies to teachers in my district for their personal productivity and for classroom use.  I would say for the most part I find these tools on my own, or I depend on people I know and share project ideas with them. I also learn a great deal through blogs I read, and conference attendance, these are the sources for my own personal staff development. SL opens a whole new world for me beacause I am able to meet, connect with, and share experiences with people from all over in regard to my professional learning. It is an environment that is social, you feel as though when you are with a group, you literally are with a group of people, taking about issues that are relevant, you have that personal connection through this virtual environment. I think this is what people have to understand, SL is just the vehicle/environent to bring all of us together regardless of time or distance.  I know in my own district after doing a presentation on SL and even having someone who works for IBM in SL join us with a co worker many of those in attendance talked about how SL avatars looked or walked and I wanted to scream it is not about that! Look at the opportunities for creating personal/professional networks and creating our own personal learning environments. I am ready for those conversations to begin in SL  BloggersCafe here I come!

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If you have not had the opportunity to read Greg Farr’s post over at Leader Talk I highly suggest you take a look at his post from yesterday. I love the sentence “I will arrange the system in order to assure that I can serve as the educational leader rather than the school manager”.

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In looking around for good resources for all things video today I hit the jackpot with this site I found on Stephen’s Web, it is called the Video Toolbox. If you have any questions regarding hosting sites, how to buy a digital camcorder, add sound effects, how to convert files from one format to another plus a host of other interesting topics this is a site you will not want to miss!

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