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Thursday, December 9, 2010

ATS Picks 12/09/10

1) 50 Fantastic Resources for Educators
The title may say "New Teachers" but all teachers will find this a great place to explore to find websites with exciting content for their classrooms. Organized by grade level, it includes links to teacher networking sites, sites with free lessons, proven educational websites such as Discovery Education and PBS Kids and more.

2) Vocab Sushi: The better way to build your vocabulary
This free site offers free games to help you build your vocabulary. You can specify your skill level and your goals. You can look at words in context, play sentence completion and definition matching games. When you create a free account the site will remember your progress.

3) Grammar Girl
Grammar Girl provides short, friendly tips to improve your writing. Covering the grammar rules and word choice guidelines that can confound even the best writers, Grammar Girl makes complex grammar questions simple with memory tricks to help you recall and apply those troublesome grammar rules. Whether English is your first language or second language, Grammar Girl’s punctuation, style, and business tips will make you a better and more successful writer. Mignon Fogarty is the creator and host of Grammar Girl. Grammar Girl is a Quick and Dirty Tips podcast.

4) Edutopia Digital Youth Portrait: Luis, 18 years old

1. Is Luis typical of kids in your community? Why, or why not?

2. Luis has a demanding academic schedule but still spends a lot of time online and with community service. Do these activities complement each other? Or do you think he is overextending himself?

3. How is Luis using technology to improve the lives of his family members?

4. How does the Tech Wizards program empower students?

5. How do you think the Lego Robotics program benefits Luis and the kids he works with?

Best of TED

Jill Bolte Taylor got a research opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: She had a massive stroke, and watched as her brain functions -- motion, speech, self-awareness -- shut down one by one. This is an astonishing and at times emotional story that is both educational and inspiring.

Monday, December 6, 2010

8 Ways Technology Is Improving Education

Don Knezek, the CEO of the International Society for Technology in Education, compares education without technology to the medical profession without technology.

“If in 1970 you had knee surgery, you got a huge scar,” he says. “Now, if you have knee surgery you have two little dots.”

Technology is helping teachers to expand beyond linear, text-based learning and to engage students who learn best in other ways. Its role in schools has evolved from a contained “computer class” into a versatile learning tool that could change how we demonstrate concepts, assign projects and assess progress.

Despite these opportunities, adoption of technology by schools is still anything but ubiquitous. Knezek says that U.S. schools are still asking if they should incorporate more technology, while other countries are asking how. But in the following eight areas, technology has shown its potential for improving education.

  1. Better Simulations and Models
  2. Global Learning
  3. Virtual Manipulatives
  4. Probes and Sensors
  5. More Efficient Assessment
  6. Storytelling and Multimedia
  7. E-books
  8. Epistemic Games


Exploring Computational Thinking

Over the past year, a group of California-credentialed teachers along with Google engineers collaborated to develop Exploring Computational Thinking, a program committed to promoting computational thinking (CT) throughout the K-12 curriculum to support student learning and expose everyone to this critical set of skills. Similar to some of Google's other initiatives in education, including CS4HS and Google Code University, they are providing educators with access to their curriculum models, resources, and communities to help teachers learn more about CT and discuss it as a strategy for teaching and understanding core curriculum as well as easily incorporate CT into their own curriculum, whether it be in math, science, language, history, or beyond.

To learn more about Google's program or access CT curriculum materials and other resources, visit them at

EdTechTeacher at Harvard this Summer

This summer EdTechTeacher will be hosting its summer professional development workshops at Harvard University. EdTechTeacher is led by Tom Daccord and Justin Reich who both came to our technology professional development day last year. Available workshops include:
  • Teaching Science with Technology
  • Teaching History with Technology (9th annual)
  • Primary Sources 2.0
  • Teaching English with Technology (5th annual)
  • Dynamic Teaching with Interactive Whiteboards
  • Teaching the Elementary Grades with Technology
  • Teaching Foreign Language with Technology
  • 21st Century School Leadership: Leading Change in Changing Times
  • The Best Web 2.0 Tools & Apps for Teachers
  • Geography and Maps 2.0
Registration is already open.

Friday, December 3, 2010

6th Graders Creating Jeopardy Games

As 6th graders wrap up their history unit on slavery, they are learning how to create jeopardy games in PowerPoint using internal links. As a way to study for their unit test, students will create and play each other's jeopardy games.

5th Grade Explorers Oral Presentation

5th Graders at BB&N recently completed their social studies research project on explorers. At the conclusion, each student gave an oral presentation supported by a PowerPoint presentation.

In social studies students completed the research, in information science they learned how to find and cite books and online resources, and in technology they learned how to create a PowerPoint presentation as well as how to download online images and cite their sources.

4th Grade Excel Project

A couple of weeks ago, 4th grade students visited the New England Aquarium on a science field trip. During their visit the students collected data on the frequency of jelly pulses. Upon their return, the students entered their findings into Excel spreadsheets, creating charts that compare the average pulses per minute for large jellies versus small jellies.

When the Playroom is the Computer

A recent article from MIT News discusses a block-shaped robot that seems to roll onto a computer screen and is part of an educational-media system that gets kids out of their chairs.

"One of the things that make play so important for children's development and learning is that it’s an opportunity to be generative, to be creative, rather than just to receive." - Harvard Senior Lecturer and Director of the Harvard Graduate School of Education's Technology, Innovation, and Education program Joe Blatt (MIT News, 11/22/10)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

ATS Picks 12/02/10

Creative Commons provides free tools that let authors, scientists, artists, and educators easily mark their creativity. Creative Commons can help you find photos, music, text, books, educational material, and more that is free to share or build upon utilizing Creative Commons enabled search services.

The Center for Social Media has created a set of teaching tools for teachers who are interested in teaching their students about fair use. The tools include powerpoints with lecture notes, guidelines for in-class discussions and exercises, assignments and grading rubrics. We hope you'll find them useful!

In AU Professor Larry Engel's Advanced Documentary Technique class, ten grad students used the "Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video" to try to create "fair use" mashup videos. Take a look at the videos and decide how well (or not) they did!
(An activity from the Center for Social Media)

Edutopia Digital Youth Portrait: Nafiza, 18 years old

Discussion Questions
1. Is Nafiza typical of kids in your community? Why, or why not?
2. Is it surprising that Nafiza spends so much time playing video games? Why, or why not?
3. Nafiza uses technology "from the moment she wakes up." Is she over-connected?
4. What skills is Nafiza learning by participating in Global Kids? How is Global Kids changing her worldview?
5. Why do you think kids like Nafiza enjoy virtual worlds like Second Life? Do virtual worlds have any learning potential?

Spanish Skits Using iMovie and Green Screen

Ideas for Green Screen Video Production

Last year Ms. Jamison introduced the green screen idea to the Middle School. By shooting your next project on a green screen, you have ability to create a clean and stylish video production. Since you will have the ability to alter the background of your production, there are no limits to the creative direction of your final composition. The basic idea of green screen production is simple: setup a green screen, shoot the presentation in front of it, then remove the green in your video editing software (iMovie) and replace it with your chosen background in post production.

Here are some of the
latest images from Hardy's eighth grade Spanish classroom.

A Lesson to Introduce Students to Creative Commons Licensing Agreement

Seventh graders in Billing's classroom were introduced to Creative Commons Licensing Vocabulary when they were asked to conduct research on an Incan topic using Wikipedia. They were asked to use images and consider their licensing agreements. Each wikipedia image file includes: description, date, source, author, file history, file links and permissions- licencing agreement for use and distribution.

An example of one of the licenses is shown below:

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Licensed Attribution-Share license

You are free:
to share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work
to remix – to adapt the work

Under the following conditions:
attribution – You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).

share alike – If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.

You may elect the license of your choice

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Eighth Grade Current Event History Blog

Read the latest eight graders posts and comments to the Current Event History Blog. All the leading questions are selected by students .

Hs8-4 Blog Post: Airport Security: Too Much or Too Little
  • Do we need this security, or more?
  • Can we do with less security?
  • Where would YOU draw the line between what is necessary/appropriate?
  • Are you worried about flying?
  • Who should make these security decisions?

Hs8-2 Blog Post: Hazing in Needham
  • Based on your understanding of the Mass Hazing Law, is the suspension of the 5 players on the Needham High School soccer team just punishment for the alleged hazing incident that the younger classwomen were subjected to; why or why not?
  • Do you think the parents were right in their efforts to override the decision the judge made to not allow the girls to play in the tournament game?
  • If all students are clearly made aware of hazing laws by their school, then why do kids continue to commit such mean and degrading acts on other students?
  • How would you react if you were with a group of your school friends and you witnessed another group of students who were “hazing” another student or group of other students? Keep in mind the students committing the hazing act could be several years older than you.

  • Is piracy a significant issue?
  • Should people have the right to copy software?
  • Is Microsoft being too extreme in its prevention methods?

Tufts Center for Engineering Education and Outreach Open House

The Center for Engineering Education and Outreach will be hosting its 3rd Annual Open House on December 9th, 2010 from 4pm-7pm.

474 Boston Ave ~ Curtis Hall, lower level

Come and Explore a day in the life of working at CEEO!
  • conduct research studies like their graduate students
  • test their educational technologies like their product developers
  • think of ways to teach engineering like students in their STOMP Outreach Program (STOMP for STEM)
  • and, of course, play with LEGO products!
Win LEGO prizes!
Kids take home a bag of LEGO bricks!
Play a part in the CEEO's largest SAM movie!
Meet the amazing faculty, students, and staff of CEEO!

Register at
(You do not have to register to attend)

Movie Making Competition

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
"What's Your Adventure?" Sweepstakes

Enter for a chance to win a screening of Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader for you and 100 of your friends at a theater near you!

Make an adventure movie using SAM animation, free stop-motion software that allows you to create your own movie in minutes.

Click here to see a sample animation.

iCreate to Educate: SAM animation workshop

Educator's Institute: Going Beyond the Animation

There is still space left in the full-day hands-on workshop at Tufts University this Saturday! This is an opportunity to explore the ways stop-motion can be used as a tool to enhance and assess conceptual understandings by your students in science, math, and other subjects.

WHEN: Dec. 4th, 9am - 4pm
WHERE: Tufts University, Medford, MA

Click here to register

$175 registration fee (or $245 for the fee plus your own webcam classroom kit!)
All fees include a free copy of the SAM Animation software.

**lunch will be served**

If you can't make this one, there will be another conference held in January:
EDCO Collaborative
Waltham, MA
Jan 27th, 2011