Summer Learning – Part 3

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I want my science classes to be hands-on, and so I am always looking for new ideas that enable students to build and use critical thinking skills. I came across Engineering is Elementary from the Museum of Science in Boston. There are many downloadable free units, but you have to provide some basic information (name, organization, contact information). There are three main areas to explore, The EiE Curriculum (grades 1-5), Engineering Adventures (grades 3-5), and Engineering Everywhere (grades 6-8). Clicking on any one of the banner titles will take you to its related page. The free downloadable units are not visible on each of the three main pages, but clicking on “Curriculum Units” on the top banner will lead you to the unit downloads. Each unit comes with an educator’s guide, a student notebook, and a related video. There are 40 units to explore throughout these three areas of the website, and it looks as if they are developing preschool materials, as well.

Enjoy the last few weeks of the summer.

Summer Learning – Part 2

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I have been looking for interactive sites for science, and I came across Wisc-Online. I have mentioned this site before, but I never explored the full extent of their website. There are three main categories on the home screen – learn, play games, and build games. In the “Learn” section, there are interactive slideshows and videos on a variety of topics related to computer science, science, math, and the humanities. In “Play Games”, you can choose from the same subjects, and games range in type (flashcards, hangman, jeopardy, matching, memory, bingo, tic-tac-toe, and many more). What I especially like, however, is the “Build games” section. The entire selection of game types is available, but you can tailor your game to your own content. They even provide an image library for you to use in your game. If you are going to build your own games, then I highly recommend exploring the variety of games beforehand. This will make it easier to build your own games. Have fun exploring!

Summer Learning – Part 1

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I want to spice up my science classes, and so I have been looking for short one-off activities that will inspire creative and critical thinking skills. Today I came across the ‘Evolution and the Nature of Science Institutes’. Their mandate is to encourage evolutionary thinking within modern scientific thinking (as paraphrased from their website). What led me there was a portion of a website called ‘Nature of Science Lessons’. On this page you can find activities that will encourage students to think critically while having fun. Full lesson plans are provided along with student handouts. There are quite a few lessons that I am excited to try. If you find any similar resource sites, please send them my way!

 

Sustainable Learning

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Resources for Rethinking is a database of sustainable learning activities developed by Learning for a Sustainable Future. You can search for lesson plans, books, videos, and various activities, all of which are teacher reviewed. The website has been developed to enable Canadian teachers to search for material that connects to provincial units across the curriculum. Search results take you to various other websites, many of which (but not all) contain free resources.

In the Beginning….or How I Became a Blogger

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I began this adventure in 2008 or 2009, which year I cannot exactly remember. I had amassed many links in different areas, and I was looking for an interesting way to house and organize them. I began a Google Site and I created pages for different topics in math, science, and technology. I was happy that the resources were organized, and eventually I made the site public. After time, I realized the limitations on Google Sites, and I was envious of how other sites looked. In 2010 I took the plunge, and with the help of my husband’s office tech support, I ventured over to WordPress. My site is not hosted on WordPress’s server, and so I was not restrained by the limitations of the free site. However, the WordPress platform is not as simple as Google Sites, and so I sometimes find myself wandering into the html side to “fix” (or sometimes break) the visual features on my site. The name of my site has also evolved over time, as I wanted to “get going” but I had difficulty finding a name that embodied my vision. The name that appears on the site right now was only finalized this summer.

At first, worried about privacy issues, I kept my name as far from my site as possible. Over time I realized that my name is already out there on the school website and through other things that I had done, and that for better or for worse, we live in a world where privacy is no more, and so I connected my name to my site.

Why WordPress? I found Google Sites limiting, and I wanted more options for the theme of my site. WordPress provided these options, and you have more control if you are not using one of their free sites. I was able to choose my own domain name, had an abundance of themes to choose from, and within the chosen theme I also had control over widgets, sidebars, pages, and other appearance settings. However, at times WordPress does glitch, and lack of html training can make it difficult to troubleshoot. I am sure there are those that figure it out on their own, but when I accidentally deleted a portion of my site by playing in the html, I was glad to have my husband’s tech gurus close by.

Over time, the purpose of my site has changed. While on Google Sites, my main purpose had been to help myself by organizing and categorizing resources. With the transition to WordPress I also opened a twitter account, and I became a blogger. I began to write. I didn’t know if I had an audience, but I wanted to share the many wonderful resources that I had found with the teaching world, at large. I was no longer just in it for myself. I felt that even if only a few benefitted, I had done some good, and that remains my purpose to this day. I share interesting and intriguing sites that can help teachers, mainly in the areas of math, science, and technology, as those are my specialties. Sometimes I share my lessons, those of which I am especially proud.

It is not an easy task. I have gone weeks on end where I write religiously for the site, and I have also gone many months without a word. I have found it challenging to balance a family, a full time job, and also manage to do what I want for myself, which includes writing. There aren’t enough hours in the day, and so priorities take place. There are those who say that if I cannot do what I want for myself, than my priorities need adjusting. I agree. It is a work in progress. I had not touched the site for the entire school year, but I am currently taking the IICT Part 2 course, and I have been motivated to reconnect with the blogging world.

But I am only one of many. There are so many bloggers and writers that are more known than I, and they inspire me. Some of them can be found on my blogroll to the side. The tech gurus (Free Technology for Teachers, Educational Technology and Mobile Learning) provide me with new tech tools for use with my lessons, and Common Sense Education adds ratings and reviews to that mix. I follow Mindshift on Facebook, and I enjoy reading many of their education articles. Dan Meyer is the king of three act math, and I have been following his dy/dan blog for quite a while. Musing Mathematically and Great Maths Teaching Ideas provide tried and tested math teaching ideas for the classroom, and The Middle School Science Blog offers a plethora of teaching resources for grades 5 to 8 science lessons.

Whether I write daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly, blogging allows me to feel connected with similar minded educators. I learn from others, and perhaps I can offer something in return.

Until next time…..

Videos in the Classroom…Part 2

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I don’t have as many math YouTube channel suggestions as I had for science. Although I am sure there are many out there, today I am going to stick to the two with which I have been following for a few years.

The first is Numberphile. Here you will find videos on math and other number based problems. It is not a site that teaches all math concepts, rather it looks at interesting connections. The site is run by Brady Haran, and the name of the site means “lover of numbers”. To get a sample of their videos, check out Calculating Pi with Real Pies and The Monty Hall Problem.

The second site is that of Vi Hart. I am not sure if all who watch her videos like her work, but I am a fan. She talks fast and she doodles as she speaks, which is one of the features that draws me to her work. My favourite of her videos is Wind and Mr. Ug, and I also enjoy her Doodling in Math Class playlist.

Enjoy the weekend.

Videos in the Classroom…Part 1

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Today I would like to highlight some science YouTube channels that can be incorporated into the classroom.

First, let’s discuss Crash Course. Brothers John and Hank Green began this channel to provide a variety of educational content, with Hank providing most of the science content. You can find playlists for history, geography, literature, and many science topics. I have only watched the science videos. They are not fancy and are mostly comprised of Hank talking for 10-15 minutes, and talking quickly. However, there is something in his mannerism that appeals greatly to me, and I find the content within the videos informative and succinct.

I first came across ASAP Science when I was looking for fun content for teaching the Periodic Table. And it was fun I found. The best thing that I probably did during that unit was introduce The Periodic Table Song, written and sung by one of the channel creators, Mitchell Moffit (the other guru behind this channel is Gregory Brown, and both are Canadian). Although there were many other fun task incorporated into the unit, my students loved the song and most had the first few verses memorized within days, generating excitement for the coming activities within the unit. Their videos are colourful and entertaining. Just be aware that there are some racy topics covered, so you may not want to randomly search through their playlist with students watching.

Next up, Minute Physics by Henry Reich. Don’t let the name fool you, the videos last longer than a minute. Look here for short tutorials on things physics related, as well as other science content. Vidoes are created on a whiteboard, and I always find it mesmerizing to watch content unfold as it is being drawn.

Finally, Veritasium offers videos on science and engineering, showing experiments, demonstrations, and interviews created by Derek Muller. For a neat sample of what he offers, check out the Stringless Yo-Yo! video.

Stay tuned….

Biodiversity and Ecosystems

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I recently came across some interesting biodiversity and ecosystem sites. The first site is called Phylo and it would be interesting to incorporate into a biodiversity unit. The website introduces a crowd sourced biodiversity card game (originally proposed as an alternate to Pokeman), and provides various decks for the same game format. Each deck focuses on different living creatures. You really need to explore it for yourself, I cannot do it justice. 

The second is a site called Wildscreen Arkive, and it would complement either biodiversity or ecosystem units. It appears that the main goal of the site is to archive the diverse life on our planet, and animal searches can be conducted based on conservation status. The education section of this website is also worthwhile, and lessons are organized into different age groups. Lessons are well developed, with presentation notes, teacher notes, and student handouts. 

Happy summer, everyone!

American Chemical Society

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I have been searching for resources  for next year and I came across the American Chemical Society.  I think that I have run across it before, but I never explored it in depth. Well, today I did, and there are some wonderful resources on the education portion of their site.  There you can find goodies for student in elementary and beyond, including science experiments, lesson plans, interactive activities, animations, and everyday applications of chemistry.  There is also a section to explore chemistry, which includes an informative periodic table, chemistry landmarks and history, and links to explanations of the science in movies and the chemistry in everyday products.

Have a great day.

 

Math Worksheet Mania

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Sometimes I just need my students to practice math concepts, and so I provide worksheets for that purpose. To me, it seems silly to create my own worksheets when there are so many good sources out there. Here are a few of my favourites:

Teachnology

Math-Aids

Mathmaster

Math Worksheets 4 Kids

Math-Drills

HomeSchool Math

Kuta Software (many free worksheets)

Enjoy.

 

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