Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dude, I Got an App Opening Day!

I feel like no matter what I try, I am always behind the curve learning about new and wonderful things in the #edtech world. But isn't that the nature of technology?

Yesterday was my day to have a taste at being on the leading edge. It was yummy.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Youtube Scandal

OK, so how many of you have had this nightmare before: You spend hours the night before planning  great lesson. In fact, you even found an amazing Youtube video to go right along with your lesson. Thankfully for you, your school district has Youtube open for teachers. You save the link and can hardly sleep for excitement for the next day ... your kids are going to really get this!

The next day rolls around and you are ready to go. You have the Youtube video queued. Word of your amazing lesson even reached the principal, who is there to watch the magic happen.

You pull up the link. Before you can press play, one of your students asks, "what's that?" and points to the screen. The rest of the class is between giggles and ewwwwws. Your principal's face is turning a brighter shade of red by the minute and if you could just sink into the ground or just wake up ...

Friday, November 11, 2011

NG Young Explorers

Here's one for my peeps in early elementary: National Geographic's Young Explorer has an absolutely delightful online presence! Those of you with or without interactive white boards, your students will love reading the digital version of this magazine. As of right now, the past 16 issues are available online for your viewing and reading ... and listening pleasure! Yes, the pages turn and a speaker icon next to every piece of text means that you can pick and choose what to have read by the narrator.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Night at the Museum 2.0

It's all Richard Byrne's fault. If I hadn't stumbled upon a tweet about his post on Free Technology for Teachers about the WebRangers game on National Park Service, none of this would have happened. I would have never gone, "OMG, I simply have to add Web rangers to my school Weebly." (Note: the OMG is purely for effect. Really.)

Of course, you know how these things go. It plays out like a geeky version of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. You see it, don't you? if you give a geek a website, she'll want to get a screenshot for her site. if she adds a screenshot, she'll want to add a link. When she copies the link, she'll think, "hmm ... I wonder what other museums and your-tax-money-at-work organizations have great kid-friendly presences online." And once she thinks that, she'll want to do a Google search for museum kids sites. When she gets her Google results back, she'll back link like a good Alan November protege' until she finds an absolute wealth of resources. In fact. she'll lose a whole night to it, even leading her equally geeky husband to make quips about it all.

One thing lead to another, and I discovered an under-appreciated wealth of knowledge and games and interactives on the Internet: museum websites.

Let's not forget mad props to zoos and zoological societies, because they totally have it join' on, too!

OK, Googling through all of these sites is a cumbersome prospect. One more thing for that ever-growing to-do list, right? Maybe not. I've got your starting point: Show Me. Show Me is a consolidation of the coolest kid stuff offered by the museums throughout the UK. Again, I am convinced that our colleagues across the ocean have got it going on! This is one rockstar website with a ton of resources from museum and zoo sites from all over the world. They don't just limit it to the UK.

For example, they have links to:

  • San Diego Zoo's kid site. Just beautiful. Go visit, but block off an hour or so, first! The games, especially in Safari park are a-ddicting!
  • WWF's Go Wild UK site. Another beautiful site. Great for research and for fun. (I know you're curious!)
Of course, links to the Dental Museum's Mouthpower and Scotland Water's Robopoop (I canNOT make that up!) remind me that truly everyone nowadays has an online presence. While I appreciate the tremendous job our water departments must do, I don't see a spot for Robopoop in my curriculum rich this second. The again, I think my students would get an absolute kick out of it. I see an April 1st lesson idea ... Hmm. 

Another great museum site is the Children's Museum of Indianapolis. They have a great range of games for different ages and even a few digital books here and there. My personal fave is the Lego Castle Adventure text which features a beautiful unit with lessons for grades K-6 that ties castles, knights, and writing fairy tales all together. Doesn't get more fun than that!

Not much more to say than that. I'd love to hear about your favorite zoo, museum, or federally funded sites. Catch me on Twitter (@bcteacher) or add a comment here! I'm always looking for more great sites and tools to share with others.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Flickr in the Classroom

Have I mentioned lately that I looove Flickr? It takes a little out-of-the-box thinking, but for the teacher willing to do a little digging, Flickr is an awesome tool.

Flickr is simply a web 2.0 tool for uploading and viewing photos from all over the world. Flickr features copyright and creative commons licensed materials as well as public domain images. While uploading pictures requires a login, searching and downloading photos does not.

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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Labeled with a Technology Disability

I consider myself a digital native. When I was little, I used to play letter games on my dad's Commodore 64. I developed some of the craziest typing skills you've ever seen by keeping up with lively conversations in Yahoo! Chat Rooms and on AOL Instant Messenger. Really, don't watch me type. It's ugly, but it gets the job done. I look like a circus "peculiarity" if touch-typing is your modus operandi. :-) But it's all good.

But I digress. Where was I? Oh yes, I am a digital native. At least, that's what I consider myself. I create media, I follow blogs, I love my Google Docs and my Twitter and my Scoop.It and all of my collaboration tools. I talk geek speak with the best of them and am constantly reminded by my colleagues that I've "lost" them.

Yes, by all intents and purposes, I'm a digital native. Fluent in the language of mobile technology and social media, I am comfortable having powerful conversations with my students about the challenges faced by digital citizens.