Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Another great TED Talk

This TED Talk, given by Sugata Mitra, talks about his Hole in the Wall project. Young kids in this project figured out how to use a PC on their own -- and then taught other kids. He asks, what else can children teach themselves?
Sugata Mitra's "Hole in the Wall" experiments have shown that, in the absence of supervision or formal teaching, children can teach themselves and each other, if they're motivated by curiosity and peer interest.

Thanks to Sharon Wasyluk at St. Joseph Secondary for this one.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

GUEST Blog on Free Technology for teachers

I wanted to share with our readers that I had the oppportunity to be a GUEST BLOGGER on a popular technology blog, called Free Technology for Teachers. This blog has existed since 2007, has over 3967 members, and has received many awards.

Using Microsoft Word to Create Better Word Walls
Word Walls are an effective strategy for building vocabulary with students, especially for subject-specific terms. These lists are usually posted on classroom walls and sometimes have a definition attached to them. A more interactive word wall that includes images requires students to be more active learners as they attach meaning to each of the words in the list. Teachers may post these in the classroom after first using them as teaching tools when introducing a concept. They may continue to refer to them as students make deeper connections. Another good option is to use an interactive whiteboard, allowing students to place words in the correct place in the diagrams. As a pedagogical tool, an interactive word wall requires students to attach meaning to the words and build their own definitions. Because there is no definition attached to any of the terms, there will be no reason to hide these when there is a quiz or test.
Creating these more interactive word walls is easily accomplished by making us of some of the image tools in Microsoft Word. There are 19 mathematics images ready to print as posters and a template that you may use to create your own. You may download the .pdf and just print the posters for your classroom, or use the Microsoft Word file and edit what is here, or create more of your own.You may also want to use the Mathematics Tool Kit for Teachers … it will make your job a lot easier when you are creating those beautiful mathematics documents.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Adobe Photoshop in Education

The Grade 7 classes at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Elementary School have combined technology, Language Arts, and their creativity in a unique way. The project involved the 2 grade seven classes at OLPH with their teachers, Deb Paling and Angela Fields, along with Digital Literacy support from Vice-Principal Vicky Walker. The students were learning about active verbs. Their learning goal was to come up with an action that described themselves and then a pose that would best communicate the meaning of their verb. The challenge was that they could not rely on facial expression to get their action across.
The next lesson, students viewed an animated iTunes ad from Apple and a slideshow of different versions of silhouetted dancing figures.
They were extremely motivated and planned out their ideas on a given template.
Next, they took pictures of each other on a blue background and downloaded them onto the computer. Students imported their pictures into Photoshop Elements and used the magic wand to select and delete the background as well as change their body into a silhouette. They added a text box and used the paint bucket tool to add a new coloured background of their choice. "We did this as a whole class lesson which at times was a bit overwhelming! It took longer than we thought, due to some technical difficulties and there was lots of learning for everyone. The results speak for themselves."

Adobe Photoshop Elements is one of many OSAPAC software titles available to Ontario students and teachers.
Please contact Joe Sisco for more details.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Health Canada's Position on WiFi

Wi-Fi is a hot topic these days and there have been questions about how safe it is?  Some of this concern is due to a 2011 report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) on RF energy.  The IARF classification of RF energy reflects the fact that some limited evidence exists that RF energy might be a risk factor for cancer.  
Health Canada is very clear on this issue:  

"Current scientific evidence supports the assertion that RF energy emissions from Wi-Fi devices are not harmful."

Wifi signals can be found in your home, neighbourhood, schools, coffee shops, malls, and city centres to name a few.  RF energy coming from Wi-Fi devices is similar to that emitted from commonly used household products such as cordless phones, video game controllers, remote controls for garage door openers, and baby monitors.  These devices have been used in consumer markets for years  Based on current scientific evidence, Health Canada has determined that low-level exposure to radiofrequency (RF) energy from Wi-Fi equipment is not dangerous to the public. This conclusion is consistent with the findings of other international bodies including the World Health Organization, International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection and the Instiute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Health Canada's position is that no precautionary measures are needed. Wi-Fi exposure levels are typically well below Canadian and international exposure limits, and there is no convincing evidence that they are a health hazard.

The information from this post and much more can be found at:


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Education wins on YouTube and iTunesU

Recent announcements from YouTube and iTunesU are good for schools.

If you have ever used YouTube in your school (if it is not blocked), you know that even though the video you are watching may be appropriate, the related videos may not. Or sometimes the comments may not be. Well, controlling the content on YouTube just became easier. This is with the help of YouTube EDU.

For starters, YouTube EDU has hundreds of thousands of free educational videos that have already been vetted for you as safe and useful. Next they have created tools for teachers to create custom playlists for students so that the content is controlled. Actually many of the features mentioned here have already been around but now they are being promoted more prominently.
But more than this, now there is YouTube for Schools. According to YouTube:
School admins and teachers can log in and watch any video, but students cannot log in and can only watch YouTube EDU videos plus videos their school has added. All comments and related videos are disabled and search is limited to YouTube EDU videos.
 And if that wasn't enough, iTunesU has now created courses based on TED talks.
Here you will find courses on topics like Creative Problem Solving, Climate Change, Understanding Islam, Mastering Tech-Artistry, Excavating Origins and Understanding Happiness. All "taught" by using only TED talks. So there is nothing new here except the packaging. But still a neat way to bundle the TED talks. Of course maybe if you think that might be a bit too simplified, why not just look at this spreadsheet of the over 1000 TED talks summarized for you.  

So happy video watching and may the education be with you

Sunday, February 5, 2012

LIT CHARTS - Great Literary Resource

LitCharts is a free website that allows students and teachers to veiw and download outlines and summaries of famous literature. LitCharts includes Plot Summaries, Character Descriptions, Theme Trackers, and Quotes from almost 40 titles like:
Animal Farm, Catcher in the Rye, 7 Shakespeare works, and much more.
All of the oultines may be downloaded as a .pdf, and are easily viewed on mobile devices.

The creators of LitCharts have done a great job in the presentation with
side-by-side analysis, making summaries more concise and easy to follow.
Colour-coded themes are threaded throughout the summaries allowing students to track themes easily and see how they develop.

Richard Byrne, of Free Technology for Teachers says, "LitCharts provides nice outlines and summaries but doesn't provide so much information that a student can avoid actually reading the books you've assigned to them. In this way LitCharts could be useful study aids for students."