Teacher Resources Online

The election season is in full swing and there’s little doubt that teachers all over the country are using the teachable moments that this year brings to add all sorts of engaging content into their lessons. After all, one of the primary tasks of public education is the preparation of good citizens, so we certainly can’t pass up an opportunity like this now can we?

There are all sorts of great lesson plans floating around on the Web, but I thought I’d highlight two of my favorite sources this time around.

First, the good folks at Education World have quite a few great offerings. For a complete listing of all their lesson plans visit The Election: Classroom Activities for lesson plans, webquests, and links to sites where students can find information about the election coming up in little over a month.

Also not to be missed are all the election and government resources compiled by PBS Teacher’s Source at their Access, Analyze, Act site where you’ll find even more lessons, activities, and links. Be sure to visit the Resources page where you’ll find links to great activities like:

National Mock Election

Get My Vote from NPR

American Experience: The Presidents

So let’s get out there, but be careful! There’s a lot at stake this time around and an educated electorate is one of the keys to our democracy. Are you doing your part to help your students understand what the issues are and which candidates really represent them?

We’re fortunate here in Palm Beach County to have some incredibly talented people working for us. One of those folks is Chad Wintzer, the programming genius who works for our Safe Schools Center. Chad has been working on an amazing video hosting service that is now available throughout the District, and we’re rolling things out at a measured pace as we all learn how to use this new service.

One of the really cool things that we’re able to do with our online video hosting service is post professional development videos that are created in the District so they can be seen online. You can see our two new stars of the PalmBreeze Cafe television show–Lee Kolbert and Jamey Akien–in the video embedded below.

But wait! There’s more! In addition to viewing these videos here (and on Channel 19 on Comcast or in your classroom) you can also download them via iTunes and put them right into your video-capable iPod or iPhone. To subscribe all you need to do is click this link to launch iTunes and begin downloading. Or, visit the PalmBreeze Cafe home page and locate the link there to do the same thing.

And what will you find? Really awesome videos like the one you see here where Jamey and Lee discuss Voice Thread, a way cool Web 2.0 application that Lee demonstrates.

bubbl.us is a free online brainstorming and mind mapping tool that lets you easily create a graphic organizer, concept map, mind map or organizational chart and then share your ideas with colleagues or classmates. The Flash & AJAX based interface make it really simple to use with only a browser – no downloads and all you need to create an account is an email address! You can save your sheets, print them as images or save them to your computer.

The Web 2.0 features provide you with either a link or the html embed code so you can post your work on a web page (Edline) or email a link. In the embedded example shown here, you can pan and zoom using the controls or the scroll wheel on your mouse.

There are many obvious uses in the classroom:

  • Identify existing knowledge
  • Identify relationships between concepts
  • Record facts & details as a pre-writing strategy
  • Brainstorming – collecting and connecting ideas
  • Timelines
  • Student collaboration
  • Sharing ideas with communities of users

Check it out and look for me on bubbl.us

We’re happy to announce that the Palm Breeze Cafe is back online for a new school year and can currently be seen on Comcast Channel 19 in Palm Beach County as well as in the classroom using the webcast from The Education Network. (You’ll recall from last year’s season-ending cliff hanger that Lee Keller and I were doing our best to examine whether or not technology can have an impact on learning.) And of course, we’ll be doing our weekly live, online video conference from the Cafe on Wednesday afternoons for our teachers and media specialists and giving away lots of free software during those sessions. Our first live session will be held on Wednesday, September 6th.

We’re happy to have a brand new set for this year’s show as you can see in the segment below. Hey, we get to stand up this year! Not to mention the addition of a new dynamic member to our team. You’ll definitely want to drop in the show to see our new star! (Hint: She’s a classroom teacher from a school with the initials BRMS.)

As always Palm Breeze Cafe focuses on instructional use of computers and the web and how teachers, parents, and students can use technology in their educational endeavors.

So, watch the clip, and if you can, try to join us on Wednesday afternoons where we have a live discussion to go along with the video clips that we pre-record. It’s a unique experience and one worth taking time to attend. You can see our schedule of upcoming shows at the Palm Breeze Cafe home page.

And finally, we’ve added an entirely new show this year, based on requests from our audience. Our new show is available on T.E.N. only at the moment, but look for episodes of Computers for the Completely Clueless coming to a video hosting service near you soon. This show focuses on computer basics, with Lee and I doing our best to inject a good dose of humor and fun to the topic.

(crossposted here: Geekymomma’s Blog)

Big Huge Labs has a bunch of free tools for doing cool stuff with your digital photos. Why not start the year in your classroom with a photo of yourself on a magazine cover or a motivational poster?

Then have the students take pictures of themselves with a digital camera and create their own for “Back To School” night?

This site may be blocked at school, but is worthy of checking out from home. Students can write down the information they want in the pictures and the teacher or a volunteer can create the magazine or motivational image. These can be printed or added to your Edline website very easily.

Have fun!

Palm Beach Postcard
I’ve been working on a new header image to replace the stock photo that used to be up there, and I thought I’d go for a vintage look that celebrates our community here in Palm Beach County. I remembered that there is this awesome collection of free vintage postcards maintained by the State of Florida, free for use by anyone who cares to download them. Here’s one of those lucious hand-tinted postcards that were prevalent back 60 or 70 years ago. You can visit the Florida Memories Postcard Collection and do a keyword  search to find your own. This is just one part of the collections found at the awesome Florida Memory Project, where you can find all sorts of goodies, including audio files of folk music, timelines of Florida history, and an interactive classroom. Way cool!

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