Archive for December, 2012

Google’s 2012 Review

December 31st, 2012

Google has been putting out some great videos at the end of each year to summarize the major news events and search trends. The 2012 one is no different. Have fun reflecting on the past year and see if you can name all of the big events.

Pixorial: Free Video Editing Software

December 19th, 2012

Yes, I’m a huge fan of Premiere, Final Cut, and iMovie (Movie Maker’s decent, but I wouldn’t say I’m a huge fan), but sometimes students don’t have access to those applications. More and more we’re seeing webapps that offer full features to rival what you would have had to download mere years ago. Thankfully there are webapps that work well and are free; Pixorial is one of those.

Pixorial allows you to upload videos, trim them, add titles and music, and then share them online (from what I can tell there’s no DVD authoring). Sure, you probably won’t use it for a dance recital, but Pixorial seems to offer what we need for video assignments with students. The fact that there are Android and iOS apps that help with uploading is a big plus for me. Add to that the ability to incorporate your Google Drive and it looks promising. I’ll have to try it out more when finals are over.

Ebb and Flow will crash into the moon today

December 17th, 2012

NASA’s GRAIL probes will crash into a mountain on the surface of the moon today around 3:28pm Arizona time. NASA will start its coverage a little bit before that to add commentary to what is going on. You’ll be able to view the coverage on NASA’s streaming channel.

Thankfully they’re not so big that a situation like Life As We Knew It would occur.

Primary sources from the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire

December 13th, 2012

Check out Cornell University’s collection of testimonials, newspaper articles, and letters from the time period of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. Hear what happened from the people who were actually there.

My current favorites for historical fiction and nonfiction

December 13th, 2012

I put together a list for a 7th grade Social Studies teacher and I thought that others could benefit, so I’m posting it here. This is just a sampling and is in no way an all-inclusive list. If there are books that you would recommend that make history lively, mention them in the comments.

The students just learned about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, thus the first bit:
Books about the Shirtwaist fire like Ashes of Roses by Mary Jane Auch:
Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix; Threads and Flames by Esther Friesner

Mr. Griggs’s Favorite Historical Fiction Books
• Fire from the Rock by Sharon Draper (Little Rock 9)
• March Toward the Thunder by Joseph Bruchac (Civil War)
• The Journal of Scott Pendleton Collins by Walter Dean Myers (World War II)
• The Journal of Patrick Seamus Flaherty by Ellen White (Vietnam)
• The Red Umbrella by Christina Diaz Gonzalez (Operation Pedro Pan)
• Shooting Kabul by N.H. Senzai (Sept. 11, 2001)
• A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park (Sudanese Civil War)
• Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers (Iraq War)
• The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne (The Holocaust)
• Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson (Revolutionary War)
• Fever, 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson (Yellow Fever Epidemic)
• Revolution is not a Dinner Party by Ying Chang Compestine (Chinese Cultural Revolution)
• All the Broken Pieces by Ann Burg (Vietnam)
• Killer Angels by Michael Shaara (Civil War)

Mr. Griggs’s Favorite Historical Nonfiction Books
• The Dark Game by Paul Janeczko (History of Spies)
• Lost Boy, Lost Girl by John Dau (Sudanese Civil War)
• Bloody Times by James L. Swanson (Lincoln’s mega-funeral and the hunt for Jefferson Davis)

Create your own infographics

December 12th, 2012

You know those graphs that have become really trendy on web sites? Those are infographics and School Library Journal linked to two great sites to create your own with and

Students, this would be a great addition to those research projects.
Teachers, this would be a different way to present some of your content in a more visually-engaging way.

A big thanks goes to Ms. Renshaw at MJHS for pointing me towards the SLJ article.


December 11th, 2012

There are some beautiful things about learning a programming language:

  1. You can create instead of just accepting what someone else gives you.
  2. It helps you troubleshoot problems with someone else’s applications.
  3. Computer languages are free, just like how no one charges you to speak English or Spanish.

The trouble is knowing where to start when learning a computer language.

Enter Codecademy.

It’s a brilliant website that walks you through step-by-step lessons on how to program and, more than that, has you try out the code as you read. The creators of Codecademy understand that doing something is a very effective way to learn something. Try it out. It’s free.

Paper embedded with USB drives

December 4th, 2012

Check out intelliPaper, a company making USB drives out of paper. It’s perfect for a business card to have your resume stored on it. It could also be fun to have a birthday card that had photos saved to the drive.

The only downside that I can see (aside from a possible environmental impact), is that you tear the paper around where the drive connectors are. If you didn’t tear cleanly, you could make a mess when you shoved it into your computer.

Resources for 7th grade Science’s Paleontology Research

December 3rd, 2012

Imagine being Elmer Riggs in 1900 and uncovering a skeleton that would eventually be the first documented find of a brachiosaurus. He had to figure out how the bones all fit together and how the dinosaur moved using his knowledge of anatomy. (It’s not like he could just walk outside and observe a living brachiosaur in action.) He claimed that the brachiosaur was a land creature, but the scientists of the day argued that it was aquatic. His claim wasn’t validated until the 1970’s, a decade after he died (Side note: growing up I had some older books that weren’t updated and I can still remember pictures of brachiosaurs needing to stay in water just to move.)

You’ll be finding information about paleontology – and, specifically, dinosaurs – to get ready for your fossil dig later this week.

The first site that you will be using is Enchanted Learning. The link takes you to the table of contents where you can find links to the other Enchanted Learning pages.

The 93 Dinosaur Information Pages will be where you read about your assigned dinosaurs.

When you’re done, check out the Smithsonian’s dig site. It has a collection of minigames that simulate an actual fossil find.