The All New SugoiTeaching.com Podcast

I am pleased to announce that we have started our new podcast, the Sugoiteaching.com podcast. This podcast will cover news teaching tips and software reviews for teachers. We are excited to provide this resource even though it may be a little bit rough around the edges at first, but as we continue to create and develop the podcast I'm sure that it will become a valuable resource to all of you.

Podcast

Affordable Technology For Your Educational Needs

The exponential growth of the Internet has freed up information like never before, giving anyone with a network connection access to essentially the sum total of human knowledge. Likewise, the cost of the hardware necessary to interact with all that information has dropped significantly in the past decade. Long gone are the days when a laptop was seen as a luxury. Today, it's an absolute necessity for those pursuing a degree or just taking some classes at the local college. Below you'll find a brief summary of the many ways students and lovers of learning can get their hands on the technology they need for their education without going broke.

Affordable Notebook PCs

The last big trend in notebooks focused on education was the nimble netbook. Netbooks feature 10” to 12” screens, chiclet keyboards, and ample storage space. They're the perfect size for taking notes in class, and they're a great budget alternative to full notebooks since they're almost always under $400. If you need a more full-featured notebook, many more powerful models with 15.6” screens can be had from manufacturers like Toshiba, Asus, and Acer for under $600. It's entirely possible to purchase a brand-new laptop with 500 GB of storage, 4 GB of DDR3 RAM, and a speedy Intel Core i5 processor in this price range.

Tablets and Accessories

Things keep getting smaller and better in the technology sector, and that's especially true for tablets. Tablets are perfect for learning in a group setting, pulling up educational materials on the fly, and watching instructional videos. The iPad may be a bit out of your price range, but there are tons of Android-powered tablets that are just as good for far less. Makers like ZiiO, Coby, and Toshiba offer tablets for under $350 that are perfect for students. As for printers, scanners, and other peripherals, Amazon features many cheap but rugged options that will satisfy most educational needs.

Final Thoughts

When shopping around for the best deals on technology for educational purposes, take a tip from savvy consumers everywhere and use a time-tested tool for finding bargains. In other words, look for coupons. Online coupons, like these Dell coupons, are a terrific way to achieve even greater savings on laptops, tablets, and peripherals. The web is ultimately your best tool for ferreting out the greatest deals possible on the equipment you need in order for your educational path to become a successful journey. Those deals are out there, you just have to look hard enough for them. If you need a new laptop or tablet for class, there's no shortage of options on the table.

The New Site for EdTechReview

If you have been directed here in search of a specific article from the previous EdTechReview.com and can not find it here, I'm sorry. I have neglected the previous site for far too long, and am focused on this new more comprehensive teaching site. I originally was going to leave the old site up but it's Wordpress installation was corrupt so it would not upgrade correctly leaving it open to security flaws. When it successfully was hacked into a few days ago I immediately pulled it down and downloaded the database of blog posts.
I decided that it would be good to make EdTechReview a part of a site I am actively updating rather than putting it back together to sit and languish in obscurity. As I prepared to import tho old stories I looked through the list to find that many of the articles are totally obsolete, or are ads or press releases from companies and products that do not fit well. I have since decided that I will go through and only load articles that I think still have some value. They may not talk about the current version of a product but they still direct you to valuable resources. If you happen to find that the article you were looking for isn't here it's OK it probably wasn't that good anyway.

Murphys Law for Teaching

Site: http://www.murphys-laws.com/murphy/murphy-teaching.html

This is just a fun list for teachers, because it seems to be true to life. I copies just a small portion, please visit the site for the full list.

  • The clock in the instructor's room will be wrong.
  • Disaster will occur when visitors are in the room.
  • A subject interesting to the teacher will bore students.
  • The time a teacher takes in explaining is inversely proportional to the information retained by students.
  • A meeting's length will be directly proportional to the boredom the speaker produces.

Continued at: http://www.murphys-laws.com/murphy/murphy-teaching.html

GPS Technology in the Classroom and Geocaching

In my previous article I talked about one of my new favorite hobbies, Geocaching.  If you are not sure what geocaching is or how it works please visit geocaching.com for more details.  I pondered on how this cool technology could be used with students.  I have noticed that my own children's knowledge of directionality, judging distance, and map skills have significantly increased since we began Geocaching.  The challenge with integrating Geocaching into the classroom, is that we are relatively limited in where we can go.  I'm quite sure that a bus couldn't't make it to the places I have been, and the liabilities of taking a fourth grade class climbing up a 30 foot cliff  are just a little to great.  I think you will find that with a little searching you are likely to find a safe Geocache withing walking distance of of the school.  If not you can always create one or two.  I have thought about using the concept to create small learning stations scattered throughout our school grounds and then we could do an activity where in small groups students can find the learning stations using a GPS then complete the activities.  I also think it would be fun to set up a geocache of our own as a class.  to make it interesting for visitors we could include a book of student works such as poems or short stories .  As people visit they will leave feedback and comments about your Geocache site that students can check periodically.  These are just a few ways I have thought of to integrate GPS and geocaching in my classroom activities next year.  Please ad your suggested activities in the comments.

Celtx Takes on Final Draft and Wins!

It has been a very busy summer, and thus I have had few posts, but I have stumbled across a product that I think deserves mentioning. The program is made for writing scripts with competitors such as Final Draft, Sophocles, and Movie Magic Screenwriter. The biggest difference in Celtx and the other screenwriting software is that Celtx is Open Source. In addition to Celtx being free, it is also much more than just screenplay formatting software. Celtx has the Screenwriting component, a storyboard, scheduling, with online collaboration capabilities. The software was easy to download and get started. I have used both Movie Magic Screenwriter and Final Draft, and I found that the ease of use, and the powerful capabilities of Celtx are as good if not better than the competition that costs much more. So why am I discussing this in a education blog? I believe that creating films in the classroom is a powerful educational tool. You can just put the kids on a word processor to write their script, but I feel that it is important to teach the kids the correct formatting for the script. I have considered using Final Draft but I did not feel that the cost even with academic pricing was justified. Celtx is a perfect solution because it’s free and can take students through the preproduction process. It begins with listing characters and coming up with a story line, and then scripting it. Students can also crate a story board to help out line there film. I believe that this is a great writing activity even if you do not progress to creating the actual films.

5 best Rubric Makers

Rubrics have become an essential part of teaching, because they provide a clear picture of student expectations.  It is possible to create a rubric from scratch, but there are a variety of free and low cost tools that will help you create rubrics with ease.  I looked at several products out there for this task and have narrowed it down to the five most notable solutions.  They include free and paid web based solutions, as well as software based solution to meet ever rubric creation need. http://rubistar.4teachers.orgRubistar is my pick as the best rubric site on the internet. There are a wide variety of rubrics to get you started, and they are very customizable. With a free account you can save all your custom rubrics and can access them wherever you have internet access. http://landmark-project.com/rubric_builder/index.php The Landmark Project Rubric Builder is a great easy tool to get you started in creating rubrics. In addition to a wide variety of public rubrics to get you started, it contains powerful creation and editing capabilities. It does require registration but it is free. http://www.teach-nology.com/web_tools/rubrics/ Teach-Nology has a wide variety of ready made rubrics. You can enter the title, school name, and teacher name, but that is the extent of customization available. The strength of the site is the sheer number of ready to go rubrics available. With a paid membership starting at $29.95 you gain access to a more powerful rubric engine with many more rubrics to choose from. Rubrics can also be exported to Word or PDF to further customize and save them. http://www.rubrics.com Rubricator 5 is a software based solution.  It is a great solution for those that don't have constant access to the internet or simply want to have a solution that is always there when they need it.  The software is easy to use and comes with many objectives built in, offering you draog and drop simplicity and efficiency.  It is available for both PC and MAC and is $25. http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/templates  For those of you that know exactly what they want. and want total control over the format and wording, Microsoft Office is a great tool.  they do provide a template to get you going, but your options are truly endless.  The downside is you have to do it start to finish.  I would love to tell you that Iwork has a template for rubrics for my Mac using readers, but alas the selection of templates available for Iwork is pretty limited.

Dapple is a great Geology Teaching Tool!

http://dapple.geosoft.com/default.asp Dapple makes it easy to find and visualize massive quantities of geoscientific data available on the Internet.

  • View geoscience data, satellite imagery, remote sensing data, geology maps, geophysical data, and many other earth data sets of interest to geoscientists.
  • Save an earth view and share your view with colleagues.
  • Add new Geosoft DAP and WMS servers of interest.
  • View GeoTIFF files.

Dapple is a great resource and product. It is fun to use, and interesting. Is it a replacement to Google Earth? well no. Google Earth has many capabilities that make it a powerful tool itself. Dapple is a great addition to Google Earth however, and is great for those that really want to get in to geology.

Conversion Calculator

http://www.worldwidemetric.com/Measurements.html Have you ever wondered how many yards the 100 meter dash is, or wanted to figure out how many inches, or centimeters your 23 mile commute is.  Well OK maybe I'm the only one interested in some of these trivial bits of information, but we often find it necessary to make conversions between different units of measurement.  Worldwide Metric has made this process much easier with there easy online calculator.  It includes  conversions for length, weight, volume, pressure, and temperature.

The 10 Best Math Activity Pages

There are many great sites out there for better teaching students about math skills. Here are a few of the best sites I've found and use on a regular basis. I must admit I have not visited all of the math sites on the web, so to say they are the 10 Best Math Sites on the Web may be a stretch, but they are the 10 Best Math Activity sites that I have found so far. If you have a site that you think should be mentioned please leave a comment and share. Enjoy the Ten Best Math activity pages!

  1. http://www.aplusmath.com/ - The A+ Math site helps students learn mathematics interactively with a mathematics game room, flashcards, and practice sheets.
  2. http://www.coolmath4kids.com/ - Coolmath4kids is a colorful Web site (how did they make that dangly cursor?!) that has fun mathematics activities for children and adults age 3 and up.
  3. http://www.edinformatics.com/kids_teens/kt_math.htm - Edinformatics: Information for the Information Age offers many links to online mathematics sites for instruction, practice, and games. Descriptors tell the age level (kids, teens, mature teens) of each site.
  4. http://www.figurethis.org/index.html - Figure This! Math Challenges for Families has a teacher's kit complete with a PowerPoint presentation and blackline masters to introduce this series of family problem-solving mathematics challenges to parents. The grade levels of the activities range from grades 1 through 6.
  5. http://www.kcw.org/reprek6.htm - This site has resource links for parents and educators of children grades pre-K to 6.
  6. http://www.ldonline.org/ld_indepth/technology/babbitt_math_tips.html - This site presents 10 tips for selecting mathematics instruction software for students with learning disabilities.
  7. http://mathforum.org/arithmetic/arith.software.html - The Math Forum @ Drexel Web site offers arithmetic software or sites, some for purchase, some for downloading; other lists of links; and descriptions of the programs.
  8. http://matti.usu.edu/nlvm/nav/index.html - This virtual library of interactive manipulatives for interactive mathematics for pre-K to grade 12 comes from Utah State University.
  9. http://www.netn.net/14113.htm - This site has many interesting science, early education, activity, and organization links for elementary school teachers and for parents of elementary children. Some of the sites are free and some charge a fee for their materials.
  10. http://www.kidsnumbers.com ---The Exciting Math Website For Kids providesmath skills development programs are research based, and seem to work well.

Math Games at NumberNut.com

Last month I did an article that listed some of the best math activity pages on the net. Well I missed one. NumberNut.com is a free math activity site that has a huge variety of flash-based math games. Beyond the games, they also have very good descriptions of mathematical concepts. Students are able to learn a concept then practice with one of the games. It is a well-organized site and perfect for many lessons.

LOC.Gov new Teachers Site

LOC.gov is the best resource on the web for primary source documents, and lesson plans and activities related to primary source documents. LOC has taken is now testing a new look and feel to help you find the resources you need faster. To preview this new source go to http://www.loc.gov/teachers/preview/ .

What can you find at the Library of congress site?

  • Founding Documents
  • Lesson Plans
  • Themed Resources
  • Online Activities
  • Historical Documents

If I listed everything the page would go on for pages and pages. To get a better idea of how the LOC can enhance your teaching Visit http://www.loc.gov/teachers/preview/ and take a few of the online professional development courses to help you get started using this great resource.

How to learn, 77 tips to improve memory.

http://oedb.org/library/college-basics/hacking-knowledge OEDB (Online Education Data Base) produced a great article that compiles a lot of the data about learning to give you a handy guide on best practices for learning.  Many of the suggestions are tailored for personal learning, that we as educators have little control over.  Even with this focus it has many suggestions that we could teach kids and implement in the classroom.

Special Education Websites

Is this the end of cursive ? (Christian Science Monitor) Because of the rise of the information age, keyboarding ha been gaining ground in it's amount of time dedicated to it's instruction.   There assumption indicates that this time is replacing cursive instruction.  Although this may be the case it does not need to be.  I do question how much time should be spent specifically on any handwriting instruction beyond second grade, but I don't think cursive will disappear any time soon.  I don't believe it is the place of technology to replace other subjects, rather it's purpose is to enhance and improve instruction.  The biggest challenge we would face in replacing handwriting skills is practicality.  Although computers are taking over handwriting tasks, we still teach in classrooms where a majority of work still takes place using a pencil.  until every child has a computer and it's socially acceptable to use a computer in all types of places, the mostt efficient for of writing, Cursive, will still have its place.

Flash Cards online

http://www.flashcardexchange.com Using flash cards does not really seem like it belongs in a technology  blog, but I have found a site that makes great use of the internet community to take this old educational tool to a new level.  Flash cards are still around because they are very effective.  The challange is finding flash cards that match your content well.  FlashCardExchange.com is a web based community where thousands of flash card sets are shared.  Regardless of the subject you are bound to find a set of flash cards that will meet your needs.  If you happen to need a more specialized set it is easy to create and share your own set of flash cards.  It seems that most of the files availible are text based, but you do have the capability of uploading pictures.  The site is free for online use, and $19.95 for the ability to print, or download the cards sets.  The $19.95 provides you with a licence for life.

Investment Simulation for Teenagers

http://simulator.investopedia.com/ In one of my high school business classes we did an activity where we got to buy and sell stocks on paper for a quarter, and it was a great expierence.  The down side to that expierence is that it was limited to the major stocks listed in the local paper, and we had to hand calculate all of the transactions.  Today with new technology this experience has been greatly enhanced. One of the best systems available is on investopedia.com.  The investopedia.com solution starts you with 100,000 in virtual cash and lets your students trade on there website in real time, so they can have a great virtual stock trading experience.  The down side is that each student must register for an account. If you are ready to teach students about investing I would also recommend  The Motley Fool Investment Guide for Teens.