Archive for October, 2012

Flocabulary – Five Elements of a Story

October 30th, 2012

Flocabulary has a great set of songs to teach educational concepts. The one that I watched dealt with plot, setting, characters, conflict, and theme. It’s fun to try and catch all of the allusions to other works of fiction.

MIT + K12

October 26th, 2012

Remember the awesome videos that the Khan Academy produced for teaching math/science/technology?

MIT is joining in and creating a database of videos to teach math and science concepts with its MIT + K12 site. What I like about the site is that it has clearly marked areas where educators and MIT students can create lessons and tag them with concept names and target grade levels.

Here’s a fun one with the Doppler Effect:

An intro to Movie Maker for students

October 23rd, 2012

Today we’re using Windows Movie Maker with a few PE classes to create public service announcements teaching personal safety techniques. Our campus is piloting Bring Your Own Technology, so students were able to bring cameras/iPods/iPhones/etc. in addition to the more traditional USB drives to import their video clips. I’m excited to see the different locales since not every group was filming in the courtyard.

Side note: on our networks we found out that if an iPod/iPhone is locked (passcodes/sliding patterns), the computer will say that it’s installing drivers on Windows 7 but will not show up in Autoplay or the Computer explorer. Unlock the device and the files are accessible.

Get the .docx file of my handout for students here: Using Windows Live Movie Maker

Google Cultural Institute

October 11th, 2012

Check out Google’s Cultural Institute to see history in a media-rich context.

Ads of the World – Propaganda is not just a U.S. thing

October 10th, 2012

Part of critical thinking is being able to analyze the media around us for ethos, pathos, and logos. Advertisements surround us, whether it’s in our browser windows or street corners, and it’s crucial that we can sift through the messages to get to the truth of the matter. Ads of the World is a repository of ads that you can search by media (video, print, radio), region, and industry. What’s great is that you can compare ads from other countries and see that propaganda is a universal thing.

The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

October 9th, 2012

I don’t love running.

In high school I hated it. Running was for when you were late to basketball practice or when you missed a free throw. Running for running’s sake seemed crazy.

Over time I’m starting to see the benefits and I’m hoping that one day that love will kick in like it does for main character Jessica in The Running Dream. You can tell that Van Draanen has run competitively and she does a good job of describing the sport without bogging the narrative down in too many details.

Jessica is a compelling character. Of course we’ll root for her, she’s fighting to regain the ability to walk – and maybe run. We’re not going to dislike that. We know that she’s going to grow as a character and learn more about herself; the book would flop if that didn’t happen. What I enjoyed were the character interactions. Each person involved in Jessica’s life has a distinct personality that seems like someone from real life. Like other authors have said before, a good story will explore and challenge what we know about the human experience and The Running Dream succeeds.

One of the key themes, the wide valley between good intentions and concrete actions, grabs the reader throughout without being preachy and leaves much for discussion. If you would like to learn more about one of Van Draanen’s personal causes, check out
This is a great story that will stick with me. It was an enjoyable page-turner that didn’t need to rely on dystopian governments, aliens, or explosions to keep me reading.

Bone: The Complete Saga by Jeff Smith

October 5th, 2012

This is what 1,300+ pages of awesome looks like.

Yesterday I finished Bone by Jeff Smith. I would read a bit at a time in-between all of the other books that I’m reading and then yesterday was the big push towards the end. It definitely is a character-driven fantasy with fun interactions between the cast. I did get the whole epic in one giant book because that was cheaper than getting the individual volumes, but the downside is that big bindings a lot of times translates into more repairs. It was really nice, though, to be able to take in the giant sweep of the story without waiting for the next volume.


October 3rd, 2012

Ms. Preble, one of our PE teachers, showed me Educreations, a great website (and iOS app) for creating lessons on a digital whiteboard. I see this as a wonderful tool to help students who have missed class or need extra time with a concept.

Here’s a sample from Ms. Preble’s nutrition unit: