Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Smartboad - New Resource for Lessons

In my workshops I have referenced a number of places to find pre-made smart notebook lesson templates.  The site I most often reference is This is the home page for the company SMART. There you can access notebook lessons organized by grade, subject, and/or CCCS.

Smart has introduced a new site that I have found to be an even better resource. It is called the Smart Exchange. On the Smart Exchange you can search for notebook lessons by subject, grade and topic. You can also upload lessons that you made to share with others.


What I like about the Smart Exchange is that you can preview the lessons directly in the browser without having to download anything. You can also view a rating scale to see how other teachers have rated the lesson.

This is a great place to get started with using the Smart Notebook Software. If you search for a lesson on a topic you will working with students on, you can download it and then make changes to it. This is the best way to get acquainted with the notebook software.

I also publish a lot of resources including lesson templates, interactive sites and tutorials on my wiki Once you are on the wiki please click on Interactive Whiteboards on the navigation menu.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Interactive Timeline of the American Revolution

I came across this excellent resource posted on one my favorite blogs "free technology for teachers" .  It is an interactive site created by the American Revolution Center. Here is a description of the center straight from their about page:

The American Revolution Center will establish the first national museum to commemorate the entire story of the American Revolution and its enduring legacy. The museum will display its distinguished collection of objects, artifacts, and manuscripts from the American Revolution era and will offer programming, lectures, symposia, and interactive learning for teachers, students, and the general public.

The highlight of the site is the interactive timeline for the American Revolution.  You will see a highlight of significant dates. There are also artifacts as images. If you click on an artifact it will enlarge. In some cases there are links to video and or audio podcasts about the artifact or event.

American Revolution

This is an excellent site to pull up on an interactive whiteboard. You can use it to introduce the American Revolution or as a review. As I learned from Free Technology For Teachers the site also includes quizzes and lesson plans.

Project Ideas

  • Students can select an event in the timeline.  They can record and audio podcast that explains the event in greater details.

  • Students can find additional images for a particular event and create a digital story that documents the event.

  • Students can develop a narrative that places them at the event. Speaking in the first person they can write about what an individual who was at the event experienced.  This can be created into a digital story as well.

  • Using Google Earth students can create an interactive tour of these events. They can highlight battle grounds and points of interest. Each marked point can contain text, images, narration or links to additional content.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The New Student Textbooks

I have been spending  a lot of time lately thinking about the  future of "the textbook". During the holiday season that  just passed there was a lot of press about E-book readers. The most familiar are the  Amazon Kindle and the Barnes and Noble Nook. I am facinated with the possibilities of such a technology. For those of you that are not aware, these devices are e-book readers. E-books are digital copies of textbooks. They can be read on a reader that  is about the size of a paperback book. E-book readers can hold a large number of books. They have batteries that last for days and the screen is such that they can be read in any type of light.

I am immediately focussed on education. Can such a device replace our current textbooks? There are some immediate advantages. These devices are compact and portable. The cost of the texts are significantly cheaper. In the  consumer market a new release  best selling hard cover that typically sells for $25.00 is $9.99 in e-book format. Information in e-book format can be updated quite simply. All that is required is a simple update to be downloaded. When Pluto is not a planet anymore the textbook is updated the  next day!

Currently these readers sell for $200 to $400.  The average student textbook is $60-$80 a piece. That means that each student is carrying around $400-$500 worth of textbooks at a minimum. The real kicker is these books are not dynamic. The content is essentially old by the time it reaches  the student. It is not living!

E-books are not only limited to e-book readers. They can be read on laptops, netbooks,and smartphones. In considering the classroom environment i am not sure that a device like a Kindle is the answer for students. Is there more value in providing a student with a full blown laptop or netbook? There is obviously price differences to consider.

I am starting to think that none of these options is the answer. The technology we seek may not  be available yet. We need a device with all of the features of a kindle as well as the web and keyboarding accessibility of a laptop. It needs to be mobile, powerful and compact. However, it must not inhibit the productivity of a student because of its size constraints. Of course we can not forget it must be cheap.

I am excited to see the next generation of tablets that are coming to market. I am most interested in the Apple Tablet. This may be a device that can do what we need it to do within the constraints we need for a school implementation. The problem I see is the price point will still be above the reach of many schools..... for now anyway.

I envision  each student with a mobile device loaded with each core text. This text is 3-dimensional. Students can sift through pages while following links to multi-media clips, resources on the web, instructor added annotations and content, audio recordings, and collaborative tools. They can highlight, copy/paste, bookmark, share links with other students, and communicate with others directly in the device. This device will be inexpensive, wifi enabled, ultra-portable and just the right size (somewhere between a netbook and Kindle????? It will operate by touch and voice. This device will transform the classroom and how we view textbooks.

2010 U.S. Census Project

Jenuine Tech
has opened up a new online project called "Everyone Counts" The theme of the project is the US Census that will be happening this year. She has setup a website with information regarding the project. There are two question sheets that can be used as well as a number of extension activities. This seems like a great project to work on with your class. I have a few ideas regarding extension activities as well. Here is the link to the project information and registration info. I listed some extension activities that I thought were interesting.

  • Global Collaboration - We are starting to make a number of connections with schools in the US and overseas for video conferencing and collaboration. A comparison of census data that the students collect would be an interesting idea. I can help make the connection with another class. Jen also offers the opportunity to find another class through her Ning site.

  • Math - The collection of census data is a great way to incorporate MS Excel into your curriculum. Students can add the data to a spreadsheet and create graphs to display and interpret the results

  • Social Studies / Geography -After reviewing census data for locations students can take a trip on Google Earth to visit these locations. They can identify the type of community and take note of the physical characteristics of each location in relation to the census data (i.e suburban, vs. rural, vs. urban communities)

  • This site has some ideas for teaching about the census in your classroom.

As always I am available to assist with and plan all stages of such a project! I would also appreciate it if you would share any additional ideas you have to add to this project.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Decade in Business - From dotcoms to the Dubai debt crisis: the biggest business stories of the last 10 years

I was introduced to this site from a technology blog. The   Guardian's Decade in Business infographic. This is an interactive timeline of 120 images that represent various business stories from the last decade. By clicking on each picture you can retrieve further information on the story.

Decade of Business

This may be a good resource for students who are studying ecomonics. These stories will provide further insight into the ups and downs of the ecomony over the decade.