Saturday, May 28, 2011

Student Designed E-books: Challenge Based Learning

Written by Greg Swanson @ Edtechtoolbox
One of the areas that we are developing at our school is a Challenge Based Learning Project with our Yr 7 students. We have combined a number of concepts into one. We have tried to incorporate aspects of high school transition, laptop roll out and learning styles into a single concept. It is called EDGE - Educationing the Digital Generation.

One of the ideas that we are attempting to facilitate is the production of e-books, similar to the Al Gore one produced by Mike Matas' team at Press Pop Press.

To do this we have constructed a Challenge Based Scaffold that requires the students to produce their own e-books. Obviously they will not be as sophisticated as the one above, but by introducing them to what is available now, we hope to be surprised by the ingenuity of these students. Already they are talking about high quality, visually designed, interactive productions that engage an audience. They have also seen the textbooks produced by the Year 10 classes last year. Having done this once so much of the logistics have been thought through with already.

Open publication - Free publishing - More postmodernism (This embed is Flash produced)

To enable the students to proceed we have also provided them with a range of technical and design resources. Some of these have been included to show you the type of things we are aiming for.

Embedded Pdf - Flash
Embedded Pdf - Flash

The other thing that we really want our students to do is to connect with outside experts. This will validate the information presented and allow for a more authentic learning experience. 
When we have completed the Challenge Based Task we then intend to publish these documents either to the student's iTunes, iBook or Issuu. This in turn will give the publications a real audience and allow for feedback to the students.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

D to F Teacher Resources

The list continues. Some more good resources for you to browse

1. - primary number and spelling games K-6
2. - developing responsible digital citizenship
3. - online language games
4. - online games
5. - games, puzzles, curiosities
6. - online educational activities for K-6
7. - educational resources for special needs
8. - holiday by country, dates, religion, lunar phases
9. - teacher worksheets, printables and resources
10. - huge educational resource site
11. - elements of literature website resources
12. - educational change management tool
13. - map out the time zones of the world
14. - K-6 maths games
15. - easy and quick to make flashcards for learning
16. - interactive flash maps
17. - great site for history and timelines
18. - inquiry based science project
19. - online science resources
20. - online language resources

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A to C of Teacher Resources

This is a Resource List. I know a lot of people do not like lists. I like lists. Lists help me. A lot of people want someone to tell them which of these sites is the best one to use. But...... what is good for me is not always good for you. What feels right for me doesn't for you. So I offer a simple list.

1. - science experiments, electronics, biology, chemistry and physics
2. - 10 pictures by 10 pictures or 10 words by 10 words
3. - massive site of scaffold and templates for classrooms
4. - helping teachers integrate technology in their classroom
5. - a maths dictionary
6. - step by step maths solutions
7. - online maths forum for problem solving
8. - online educational games
9. - free clipart, images and graphics
10. - free public domain clipart
11. - free illustrations for educational use
12. - free clipart for your students
13. - video explanations for homework problems
14. - free online access to native language speakers
15. - differentiating for the gifted student
16. - bubble test generator
17. - online language encyclopedia and more
18. - scaffold for character analysis
19. - flashcard creator
20. - create your own newspaper
21. - create and study flash cards online
22. - online maths resources

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Free Icon Sets

Our students are always on the look out for suitable icons and royalty free images to use in projects, assignment, infographics or even their own websites. Most good icon set designers have a selection of free icons, so have a look at the collection of free icons we have put together. These are a few of the thousands that are available;

List of sites for royalty free images and icons:



Monday, May 23, 2011

Blogger Starter Sheet

Blogger is my preferred Blogging platform - not for any particular reason other than I like it. I have looked at a couple of others but feel comfortable with Blogger and I can get it to do almost everything I need it to do. Some of the staff asked it I could introduce them to Blogger as a way of creating an online presence with their students.

Some were going to use it as a place to:
  • introduce concepts and further readings, 
  • record the processes they created in their classroom
  • other wanted it to be a place students could find out about the next task 
  • some wanted a place to collect resources of interest
  • one was heading to Vietnam and wanted to keep everyone at home informed of her journey.
So we had a little PD session one afternoon after school. This is the Starter Sheet I put together for the first timers. It had a bit of an explanation of a blog and then some really basic blogging skills like  postinga blog, formatting a blog entry and following. Fell free to use this if you think it might be helpful for your staff or students. Enjoy!

A printable and downloadable PDF document: Blogger Starter Sheet, from (flash)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Newspaper Map: All Online Newspapers at Your Fingertips

I saw this tweeted the other day from Silvia Tolisano at and love it. Silvia is a Language Teacher as well as Technology Integration specialist so you can see why she likes this little Web 2 tool. Not only is it a fantastic graphic for your students to investigate the number of newspapers that have an online presence but it is a great resource for finding information that is relevant to a particular community. It will take any newspaper on the site and translate it for you. It also has copies of a number of historical newspapers online that would be great for history students. This is a Web tool that cold be used in so many ways:

  • part of a foreign language class - reading activity, translation passages
  • foreign language research task about a region of country
  • collate statistical information for mathematics
  • research on a particular issue like climate change - attitudes in different areas
  • use of political or satirical comics
  • use to create an inforgraphic - headlines of the week, language of newspapers, online newspapers per country, newspapers per GDP
  • history or social studies investigations
  • great media studies resource

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Gmail Starter Sheet: Web 2 Account

I use Web 2 tools all the time in my classes. I use them with students from Year 7 right through to Year 12. We are very conscious of making our students aware of their internet safety. With this in mind I always get my new students to set up a gmail account to use just for their Web 2 tool sign-ins. We do not want them to give out any personal information and it is handy to have a single email account that you use just for signing up to web based sites. One email account, one password for all your Web tools.

So, here is the starter sheet I give my students, explaining what a Gmail account is and how to sign up for it. I even gave this out at a staff meeting where we were showcasing a number of Web 2 tools and got the staff to create a gmail account for their log-ins.

The beauty of your students having a Gmail Account is that when they are ready to use Google Docs, Picasa, Google Sketchup, Alerts or Blogger they already have a Google log-in and do to have to sign-up again. Please feel free to use this if it is helpful for your students or staff.

A printable and downloadable PDF document: GMail Starter Sheet, from (flash)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Map Making Interactive

Explore your world with map themes, data, and tools for customizing your map. This is a great tool for investigating world populations, weather patterns, world religions or even language groups. It is part of a large group of map tools that allow you to access online atlases, make contour maps as well as print out mega wall and floor maps. Download, print, and assemble maps of the continents and of the world in a variety of sizes. Get mega maps for your wall or floor activities. Or get tabletop maps for small group work. This is a great resource.

Teaching With Infographics: A Student Project Model

I have been on a bit of a tangent with Infographics lately and I found this article by Katherine Schulten over at Learning Blogs NYTimes. It gives people a scaffold to use in the classroom when you are trying to get students to develop raw data into infographics. I have include the lesson activities breakdown here becuse they are so good but check out the full article at Teaching with Infographics a Student Project Model. Thanks guys this is excellent!

Sequence of Classroom Activities: Diana Laufebberg's Enviromental History Unit

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Google Docs Starter Sheet

Greg Swanson at Edtechtoolbox
We have finally been able to get staff to start experimenting with Google Docs. A couple of the younger staff members in the HSIE department convinced the Head of Department that they could do a Unit Evaluation without anybody having to collate the information. This was a stroke of genius. They got a 92% survey completion rate and the tool gave them a breakdown of the ratings from the students about the different aspects of the course.

We have always completed student evaluations but I think in the past they have only paid lip service to the concerns or for that matter affirmation of the students - it just took too long to actually collate them. You then had to present the information in a legible form. Now we have a tool that will do it for us. The HSIE department were actually excited about the affirmations that the student offered and even the suggestions for changes have been taken seriously - to the extent that certain e-learning aspects of the course have been developed further.

We now have staff using Google Docs for Sign-up sheets, registering group projects and of course Pop quizzes. We have also introduced Google Docs to the students as a way of completing group projects. Now no students has the excuse that they could not contribute to the group task. In fact collaborative learning has been the biggest benefit of using Google Docs. For certain tasks it is better than using a Ning or Wiki (although these have worked exceptional well for resource and research sharing) - the real-time collaborative editing function is probably the most commonly used function, especially in English and Drama.

This is the Starter Sheet that we issued the students. Please feel free to use if it is of any use.

A printable and downloadable PDF document: Google Docs Starter Sheet, from (Flash)

We have also started to publish lists of the Template Gallery to illustrate to staff the vast number of existing documents that we are able to access, modify and use from the Gallery. These are templates designed and built by generous teachers who have given all teachers access to them. Staff are always saying how little time they have. This is one very real and useful way we can help save them time.

Some of the Templates that our staff are using include;

Science Test
Course EvaluationBook ReviewQuiz Builder
Presentation Rubric
Technology Survey
Staff Survey
Learning Styles
Observation Sheet
Parent Contact
Discipline Log
Academic Vocab
Character Analysis
Website Evaluation
Self Assessment

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Google Public Data Explorer

The Google Data Explorer is an excellent web based tool that allows you and your students to compare statistical data. It is one of the tools that enables you to make your own interactive infographics. This would be great to use in a Maths, Geography or Business Studies class, It is an excellent opportunity to play with real data in order to see how it is effected by different variables.

The students would see that they are working with data about actual situations. This makes the learning more authentic for them. This is especially true when discussing social issues like birth rates, infection rates for specific diseases or even unemployment rates.

The interactive nature of the graphic mean that you can also see how the figures have changes over time and even suggest possible reasons for these changes. As you mouse over the different circles the population figures are activated. The possibilities for this tool are only limited by the statistical information released by governments around the world, however, at the moment Google only has 27 sets of information up to play with. Hopefully more data will be added as people discover the possibilities of this application.

And of course these interactive tools can be embedded into other documents, websites or blogs. Have a slide to play with the information.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Graphic Organisers Galore

This is absolutely fantastic. I love this interactive graphic. I want to start every day just playing with this so I can be reminded that all of my students learn in different ways.  They respond to the ways that information is both presented to them and how they remember the information that they deem important. Shouldn't they have the choice of how to record it. Enjoy! Thank you to the people at Visual Literacy org

Monday, May 16, 2011

Pixlr Starter Sheet:

Online Image/Photo Manipulation Tool
A number of people have asked about the logistics of creating Infographics. I will write this up as a process in another post but to get people started I have included a Pixlr Starter Sheet that I gave my students. This gives you and your students the basic skills to alter images or icons to fit your infographics.

Most of the icons for our infographics were sourced from free clipart or icon collections. Some are from copyright free or public domain icon sites. This becomes another learning experience about copyright. As with all resources you need to check for appropriateness but for my high school students we have used sites like:

A printable and downloadable PDF document: Pixlr Starter Sheet, from (flash)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Easiest Science Experiment Ever: YouTube

This is one of the most beneficial uses of Youtube. Experiments performed online. No mess to clean up, no chemicals to worry about and the student still get the buzz of discovery.

I love this experiment on so many levels. It is an experiment that just keeps giving. It is good to introduce a unit on:
  • oils and solids, 
  • liquids that repel 
  • on healthy eating 
  • mixing of colors

Or how about the power of earth magnets and nano particles. This one is my favourite.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Infographics at School

I have posted before about how much I love infographics. We now have four different departments getting their students to manipulate data using infographics: Art, Science, PD/H/PE and Food Technology. Some of these started out rather basic but the students are now evaluating their work for quality control, ease of reading and comparisons to professionally produced graphics. This all started with a couple of conversations about developing activities that facilitate deeper levels of understanding. We have been building the infographics using the Macbook applications Pages and Numbers. Some of the students with drawing skills are hand drawing particular components and then scanning them into their documents in order to achieve the desired effect.

We modelled the process by developing our own little infographic based on the data that we collected from our students prior to the rollout of our 1-to-1 laptop program. The questions were based on access to family devices not just ones that were their own. This will be an ongoing analysis of the student's access to technology and use of digital devices for both social and educational purposes.

Related Articles

Kathy Schrock has put together a fabulous resource which can be found here:

Glogster - Social Connections

It is always good when you can get students to reflect. It is even better when you can get them to illustrate their understanding of an issue in society.  To combine the two into a presentation that is interesting to others, is a bonus.

Glogster is well known to many teachers already. It is used by many students and teengaers as a poster maker (normally about themselves) but Glogster EDU is a slightly better option for using this Web 2.0 tool in the classroom. Glogster allows you to insert images with funky frames, music, video and voice recordings to make a truly interactive multimedia poster. This one is an example of a student using Glogster with a social issue. A nice reflection about the people in society who work for others.

Infographic: Bullying in Schools

President Obama unveiled a new anti-bullying campaign in America on Thursday. Aimed at curbing bullying and teen suicide, the President said that everyone — parents, educators, businesses — needed to help provide the support and resources to address the problem.

Here a poignant and socially relevant infographic. Beautifully crafted as well.

Explore the Big Bang Theory Timeline

I first saw this suggested by a Diigo in one of the education groups daily notifications. I thought it was brilliant. It was smart and really well designed visually and the information and overview of evolution was excellent. The Science teachers at our school were actually studying this topic when I introduced them to it. Both the teachers and the students loved the interactive nature of this website. One warning, it does take a little longer to load than most websites but it is worth the wait.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Darwin: Who wants to live a million years

This not really a Web 2.0 tool but all the same it is an interesting and useful computer based resources. Learn about Darwin's theory of natural selection and see if you can create a species that will survive one million years"Who wants to live a million years?" is a very engaging interactive. Best played it with senior students it brilliantly shows how genetic variation and selecting pressures result in changes in the gene pool or extinction. Survival is the name of the game.

Infographics: Education Collection

Monday, May 9, 2011

7 Solutions for Educators Who Want 21st Century Students to Tune In

Provocative and thoughtful article written by Lisa Nielson over at The Innovative Educator on the 25th April.

"If your target audience isn't listening to you, it's not their fault, it's yours" Seth Godin

More and more I am reading articles like this one Colleges worry about always-plugged-in students. In it they talk about college professors and administrators who have or are considering unplugging student’s access to the internet or banning technology altogether so students will focus. These learning institutions are moving in the wrong direction!

When we blame or ban the technology,  we solve our issue temporarily, but we are ignoring the root of the problem.  

When it comes to learning, many educators know banning is the easy way out, but there are a number of reasons behind why students are not paying attention. Rather than taking away student rights and the freedom to use the tools they want, we must address the root of the issue that is causing the problem. My advice comes from someone who teaches adults and students in a “no ban zone.” These ideas work for me and they will work for you.  

Ideas for Educators Who Want 21st Century Students to Tune In

1) Problem:  You have poor classroom management
Solution:  While you may have been a master of classroom management in the days before the internet, the environment has changed.  How have you changed your classroom management techniques?  Do you let students know when they should have their lids at 90 degrees? Do you allocate at least some free time where students can catch up on their need for personal issues?  Are you having students sit in different configurations, sometimes with their laptops, other times they may circle up for conversation or have breakout groups that report back.  

2) Problem:  You are not engaging your students
Solution:  Educators who stand at the front of the room lecturing are not engaging students like me.  Even if I’m interested in the topic, I can’t stand sitting and listening to you for a long time.  It’s boring.  I want a piece of the action.  Provide accountable interactivity.  Perhaps have students Tweet relevant thoughts, ideas, and links using a provided hashtag and at the end of your lecture you have a fantastic subject specific newspaper to read if you use something like Maybe you can create a method for students to share ideas and thoughts during your talk using abackchannel.  While traditional instructors may believe students should sit up and listen, the fact is you are boring students like me to tears, so give me a job to do and I’ll pay attention.  

3) Problem:  You complain about technology, but you don’t incorporate it into instruction
Solution:  Stop complaining that your students are on Facebook and not paying attention and start incorporating tools like this into instruction.  People are social.  We like to discuss and make meaning.  We’ll do this about the thing you’re talking about if you’ll provide such opportunities.  Perhaps teachers could make a Facebook page and use that as a hub for students to connect and share during instruction.  Perhaps the teacher sets up some discussion boards or Wall Wishers to share ideas.  Many 21st century students aren’t content sitting and listening to you blathering on.  Make your teaching more interesting, and your students will reward you by being more interested.  

4) Problem:  You never shut up
Solution:  Let’s face it.  Sitting in class listening to a lecture is just plain boring for many students. Why do they have to come to school to listen to you talk.  Of course your students aren’t paying attention.  Flip your classroom and tape your lectures for students to listen to on their own time. Spend class time doing stuff...real stuff that your students are interested in and you can help them with. Parents will like this idea too because instead of needing to hire tutors, class time can be used for the teacher to help students having difficulty with their work.  Salman Kahn explains this beautifully in this TED Talk.

5) Problem:  I don’t need to hear you telling me something I can look up
Solution:  When I was pursuing my license in educational leadership I took my laptop to class.  In class I often found teachers were just reading some theory to me that I could pull down from the internet and save in my online bookmarks.  This meant I could use class time to do my other work. I didn’t have to take down notes.  I already had them.  While the instructor shared some such theory with the class, I was already doing the assignment we had.  At nights I would go out to the local bar while my classmates did their homework. They complained I was cheating at the beginning of our time together. As the program progressed, more students had their laptops in class and joined me at the bar latter.

If you are just telling students something they can find on the internet, stop.  Give them the link and use class time to have discussions, do work, or make meaning of the work.

6) Problem:  You think you own the learning.  You don’t 
Solution:  You don’t own the learning.  Your students do.  If they’re not interested in what you have to say, then figure out a way to say it in a way that they’ll be interested or ask your students to do that for themselves.  If students simply aren’t interested, then perhaps you can give them freedom during class to do what they are interested in.  Multi-millionaire, Aaron Iba’s favorite teacher was the one who let him do just that.  He got to sit in the back of the room working on his computer. 

Another option is to give up some control and be part of a growing and successful trend in lettingstudents own and design their learning.  Educators are finding that giving students ownership and responsibility for their learning pays off quite well.  

7) Problem:  Technology is just too distracting for some students
Solution:  Okay, so you think technology is just too distracting for some students.  Remember your job as a teacher is to help prepare students be successful in their world, not your past.  A teacher is not helping a student become successful by creating an artificial environment in school.  Instead teachers can help empower students to take ownership of their learning and self-monitor.  Many students are very good at this. They may just have a browser closed at certain times, turn off chat, turn off sound, or as the students in Colleges worry about always-plugged-in studentsshares, use an app like “self-control” which blocks certain websites for specified periods of time.  

Schools should not encourage dependency learning and dependency attention.  It is incumbent upon educators to empower students to be able to self-monitor and discover the optimal conditions to learn and create.  Imposing restrictions on students, is certainly more convenient for educators, but it is NOT what is best for students.